Gems is an instrumental electronic band from Seattle consisting of two drummers, Adrian Van Batenburg and Jacob Evans, and two keyboardists, Daniel Rapport and Gary Palmer, twisting knobs and making noises unknown to the natural world. Their music is likely to make you dance; without fail. Gems have garnered rave reviews from the Seattle music scene, including a glowing profile from The Stranger that read: “Gems hit you with heavy grooves and polyrhythmic interplay, while Moog-generated liquid-sex bass-lines and champagne-bubble leads seduce you to the dance floor.”
The band’s members have played a part in many musical projects, including such notable acts as Macklemore, John Grant, Blue Scholars, Ormonde and The Kindness Kind, among others. The idea for Gems, they said, was to “create an environment that allows for sonic experimentation and improvisation, while still retaining a feel that can only come about through an organic songwriting process.” The band members draw their inspiration from artists like Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, DJ Shadow, and RZA. There are a number of bands named Gems, but you can distinguish these guys because they are instrumental only.
“Ice Dime” – Gems from Tall Mountain Organics
Looking Back on The Etiquette’s Debut EP
Like Ekos, there are other bands in our archives that we meant to publish some time ago, but were temporarily lost in the piles of hundreds of submissions that flow in each month (in fact, there are many such bands; but, the music, if it’s good, doesn’t have an expiration date, and sometimes, like wine, improves with time). Here’s another such band warranting resurrection.
Billy Gill (guitar, vocals) and Blake Walker (drums, vocals) paired musical interests while in college in Texas, and then, years later, met up again in Los Angeles where they expanded on what they had started originally years earlier, writing and performing indie rock songs as a duo. Later they were joined by Gill’s former guitar teacher, Tom Farrell, on bass, and their band, The Etiquette, formed, and soon after released their self-titled debut EP, which stands the test of time.
The band’s music was recently featured in the indie film, The Worst Year of My Life, directed by Jonathan Smith. The band’s musical influences – The Beatles, The Walkmen, The Sonic and Neutral Milk Hotel, are evident in their lush melodies and irresistible hooks. Unfortunately for fans of the band’s first release, they haven’t released any new music in the past three years. According to Walker, they will be releasing new material in 2015. We look forward to it.
– The Etiquette from The Etiquette
– The Etiquette from The Etiquette
Chicago DIY alternative rock band, Mighty Fox, mix a bit of Coldplay with The Killers, and add their own atmospheric guitar licks and impressive vocals, on their debut EP, Oceans, to create songs that make them sound like seasoned pros. The band told IRC that “each song has the listener noticing the many different” influential artists, such as the aforementioned as well as Imagine Dragons and U2 being “considered substantial influences.” Formed in 2013, Mighty Fox has made a splash on the Windy City’s competition rock music scene, and we believe are destined for bigger things. We’ll be watching out for their debut album. The band members are Mike Jansen on vocals; Markham Jenkins on guitar and piano; Johnny Walker on bass, and Jon Lewchenko on drums.
“Wild Ones” – Mighty Fox from Oceans
“Let Go” – Mighty Fox from Oceans
From Little Rock, Arkansas, where there’s a growing indie scene, the electronic pop trio Canopy Climbers, crossed our radar in the past with singles like “Always” and “Stuck,” that, well, got stuck in our heads.
The band’s sophomore EP, Miles, which they oddly call a sampler, was, like other albums in this post, released a couple of years ago, and, while it did not receive the kind of recognition it deserves, even though there was scattered praise on the web from blogs like Indie Shuffle and Popdose; Liisten.com deemed it a “tremendous success on every level.” The trio – Alan Thomas, Cory Nelson, and Nathan Miller – formed like so many bands do: they were friends who shared similar interests in music and decided to make a go for it.
While the band members all live in different cities in Washington state, that did not stop them from collaborating. They worked through the cloud, each adding their pieces to the others’. As Thomas explained, the trio’s songs “come together at the end of the process” when they are finalized for release, and especially when Canopy Climbers play them live. The band released their debut album, Distances, in 2011, which is also a worthwhile listening experience for those who dig the band’s sound. Listen to the sampler via NoiseTrade.
“Always” – Canopy Climbers from Miles
“Stuck” – Canopy Climbers from Miles
The band as opened for artists such as Carousel, Mansions On The Moon, and Deas Vail, and count among their biggest influences bands like Paper Route, Phoenix, Coldplay, Copeland, and Civil Twilight.
Ekos – Mexico City, Mexico
We’re going backwards a bit to bring to light (luz) a band that we don’t want our listeners to miss out on. The history of Mexico City band Ekos begins with a difficult task: performing Pink Floyd music live. The band’s tribute to the iconic UK rock band has been hailed as one of the best tributes of Pink Floyd by the band’s publicist, Azu Baeza, and various music bloggers as well. The Pink Floyd tribute endeavor kicked open some new doors for Ekos, including bookings by promoters in Mexico City at venues like Teatro Tepeyac, Futurama Cultural Centre, the Christ Church and the Universidad de la Mexico.
Ekos’ members Ana Camelo, Jesus Torres, Victor Juarez and Ricardo Castro released their debut album Luz Interna last fall, featuring accomplished experimentations with atmospheric, progressive psych rock that also draw off of the styles and sounds of bands like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Moby, and Led Zeppelin.
Here’s a mix of samples from their debut’s tracks, followed by two full tracks.
“Rostro Oculto” – Ekos from Luz Interna
“Obscuridad” – Ekos from Luz Interna
Diverse Small Label Indie Poppers The Gifted Children
The Gifted Children, the first band to join the Tinhorn Planet independent record label, are one of the most interesting and creative experimental psych rock bands almost no one has heard of. At IRC, we’ve been fans of the Rochester, New York band for a number of years, and they still pop up on our radar because so many of their typically under-three-minute tracks are shuffled in the cafe’s permanent playlists.
As with other bands in this feature, we’re going back in time to bring you music worthy of bringing into the present. In the past, we’ve featured songs from fascinating albums like My Museum Pieces (2009 – an album that has mysteriously disappeared from their Bandcamp page) and Montgomery Blue Ash (2011), giving us even more hazy, trippy, acid-washed guitar and reverb bliss to enjoy.
Songs like “The Portable Sun” and “Parenthetical Nashville Blues” demonstrate the band’s remarkable talents to make music that touches your heart and makes you feel like your floating on a fluffy cloud on a gorgeous autumn day. There are simply too many spectacular tracks from The Gifted Children to review them all – what really matters is listening to them yourself, which you can do below.
Some of their newer music of note includes a series of tracks from The Reginald Pantry (A Zombie Chronicle), an album of 21 songs – with an average play time of about two minutes each – featuring various sonic ‘scenes’ that all together are more fitting for a movie soundtrack (anyone need a soundtrack for an indie zombie flick?) than a conventional album.
In December of 2012, the band released a 16-song album of Christmas covers and original songs, with highlights such as a distorted cover of “Deck The Halls,” a monk-like version, mixed with beats, of “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” an 8-bit midi of “The Nutcracker: March” and many others. As the band conveys on their special Christmas album, and their other works, The Gifted Children cannot be – will not be – boxed into one or two (or three or four) genres. Rather they straddle the spectrum of genres from art rock and indie rock, folk and electronic, ambient and pop.
The band also puts together some really interesting collage-style album, EP, 7″ and single covers, which you can view on their Bandcamp page. Help them out and purchase some of their music on Bandcamp. We all need to support the artists whose music touches us in some way and becomes part of the soundtrack of our lives.
“The Portable Sun” – The Gifted Children from Montgomery Blue Ash
“Parenthetical Nashville Blues” – The Gifted Children from Montgomery Blue Ash
“If The Accident Will” – The Gifted Children from Montgomery Blue Ash
The band, which is more accurately described as a collective of musicians, deliver an eclectic buffet of sounds and genres from straight pop to lo-fi, psychedelic rock to acoustic folk persuasions accented always by cuts and splices of sounds, distortion, feedback, and even unconventional means of recording and mixing – running the gamut of everything from making use of old recording equipment born decades ago to experimenting with recording through various apps on smartphones in a never-ending quest to find different ways to create, record and mix music. At times, the band has expanded to include contributions from more than a dozen collaborators.
“The Coalition Breathing Down My Neck” – The Gifted Children from My Museum Pieces
“Weathervane Alliance” – The Gifted Children from My Museum Pieces
“If You Get There” – – The Gifted Children from My Museum Pieces
Blending upbeat, melodic instrumentation with silly lyrics about life in the Midwest, the Chicago band, Cousin Dud, remind us a lot of The Proclaimers (“500 Miles [I Will Walk]”). The following are some older tunes, but they’re just as fresh and fun today as they were a few years ago. The band members include Matt Carmichael on guitar and vocals; Cesar Cruz on drums and percussion; Pete Geraci on saxophone and Dan Schuld on bass.
“Illinois” – Cousin Dud from The Faded
“Better Beaches” – Cousin Dud from The Faded