Top DIY Releases This Week from City Brat, Sam Billen, Patchy and Qualms


If you listened to Volume One and Volume Two of this week’s Best New Music Release singles playlist, you not only heard amazing singles from artists ranging from The Ravonettes to David Bryne and St. Vincent, but also a few superb singles from DIY artists like Hello Echo and Ethan Daniel Davidson. Yet there are even more DIY releases this week that you’re not likely to hear anywhere else.

Today marks the official drop of the debut EP, Strange Summer, by Brooklyn DIY duo City Brat. In a place like Brooklyn, which probably has more musicians per square mile than any other locale in the U.S., it’s hard to get noticed. But we have a feeling that once more electro indie fans get wind of City Brat’s sounds, the duo will start drumming up more attention for their new EP.  City Brat features Jason Grad on vocals, guitar and synth, and Alex Fippinger on drums.

Strange Summer is a musical experiment that mixes electro, jungle, funk, and even new wave set against world beats coupled with guitars, bass, and vocals that create dream-like swells of sounds as arpeggiated synthesizers flow freely in the background. Grad’s vocal style is influenced by David Byrne, Robert Smith, Michael Jackson, and Freddie Mercury, at times encompassing six-part harmonies.

After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2009, Grad lived in East Troy, Wisconsin, where he dedicated his free time to writing and recording some of the songs on Strange Summer. In 2010, he made a strategic move to Brooklyn where he met Fippinger. The two immediately discovered that they had mutual admiration for artists like David Bowie, The Talking Heads, The Cure, Arcade Fire, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Animal Collective, among others. Soon after, they began recording together, resulting in City Brat’s four-track debut EP, of which we have two singles here.

“Yeah It’s There”City Brat from Strange Summer EP

“Moves”City Brat from Strange Summer EP

Singer-Songwriter Sam Billen Goes DIY on New Album With Funds from Kickstarter

Even though he is only approximately 30 years old, Lawrence, Kansas resident Sam Billen is a veteran musician. We said approximately 30 years old because he answered the question of ‘Year Formed’ on the submission form with 1982, followed by ‘year of my birth?’ in quotations. He seems more certain that for the past 13 years, he has released various albums with his old band, Billions, and solo albums as well. This time however, Billen decided to release his latest album, Places, completely DIY style, with funds raised on Kickstarter. He sent in the new single, “Saltine”. As a solo artist and with the band Billions, Billen has shared the stage with bands like Of Montreal, Starflyer 59, Danielson Famile, Jonathan Richman, Mike Watt, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, and Half-Handed Cloud. Billen told IRC that his new album is the “closest I’ve come to expressing my deepest emotions – struggles and joys – in my music.”

“Saltine”Sam Billen from Places

From Ashes of IPU, New Band Hjearts Arises

From Aberdeen, Scotland, the band Hjearts arose from the ashes of once booming International Pop Underground. Formed just months ago, the band dropped on us their first single, a catchy pop track inspired by their favorite bands, including The Vaselines, Guided By Voices, Nirvana, Beat Happening and others. The band describes themselves this way: “Bedroom superstars from a pop-geek universe, mixing schoolboy earnestness with an arch, bratty directness, and relishing in the rebellious innocence of primitive pop.”  Together for less than a year, the oddly-spelled band recently dropped their catchy pop single, “Getting Calvin To Like You.”

“Getting Calvin To Like You” Hjearts


UK’s Patchy and Boston’s Qualms

The peculiarly named Patchy is a DIY indie/alternative band from Bristol in the United Kingdom. In the four years that they have been together as a band, the members of Patchy have performed at festivals in Wales, appeared on the BBC, and this week released their debut album, Barrow Road. The album pairs honest, heartfelt lyrics against a variety of guitar-driven musical landscapes which are heavily influenced by the band’s stated musical heroes – Radiohead, Oasis, Death Cab For Cutie, and The Walkmen.

“White Chair”Patchy from Barrow Road

Qualms is a synth dream pop project of Darin Thompson and Justin Mantell, who are primarily members of the Boston band Orca Orca. Now in their mid 20’s, Thompson and Mantell have been writing and recording music together since they were in high school. Last year they formed Qualms and shortly thereafter began recording in a homemade analog studio built by Mantell’s father, who used it to record local bands during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The duo sent in two simply-named tracks, “Pressure” and “Love,” and we’re definitely digging their synth pop sounds. We’re interested to hear what you think of these tracks; please leave your comments below and we’ll publish them.

“Pressure”Qualms from Honeylung

“Love” – Qualms from Honeylung


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  1. City Brats “Yeah Its There”, sounded like Weird Al doing a cover of a Matt and Kim song. The beginning of White Chair by Patchy sounds very close to Radiohead, but then floats off into something closer to a Dr Dog song, good stuff though.

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