Top DIY Songs & Albums of 2014, Vol. V – Jack and The Ripper, Mechanical Joints, Monuments, Time Spills, Desert Killers

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Twin brothers, Daniel and David Barbedillo, are the Mexico City duo Jack and The Ripper

Based on the traffic, Likes, and Tweets of the previous installments of Top DIY Songs & Albums of 2014, you guys want – for at least a little longer – to hear more great DIY music released in 2014. You can stream all of the songs on this page by clicking on the play button of the embedded player below. If you cannot see the player, you can still simply click on the individual songs themselves to stream them on your cell, or download them to your favorite MP3 player.

The bands and artists in this volume include (in no particular order):

Jack and The Ripper – Mexico City/San Diego
Mechanical Joints – Chicago/Houston
Monuments – Brooklyn
Hippy Tantrum – Brooklyn
No Sleep For Lucy – Stockholm, Sweden
Time Spills – Salinas, California
Desert Killers – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Joel Strauss – Ontario, Canada
The Crash Bandits – Minneapolis
Kwolek – Boulder, Colorado
Tony Michael Ellis – Los Angeles
Paul McLinden – Glasgow, Scotland

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Jack and The Ripper – Jack and The Ripper, Vol. 2

Originally from San Diego and now based in Mexico City, the alternative rock duo Jack and The Ripper consists of two multi-instrumentalist, identical twin brothers – Daniel C. Barbedillo (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, synth, programming) and David C. Barbedillo (backup vocals, guitar, samples, programming). Formed in 2012, the brothers released their self-titled DIY debut album in June of 2013. As evident on blazing, thumping tracks like “Will You Be Mine” and “Drive Thru Spiritual Awakening,” from their sophomore album, Vol. Two, the Barbedillo brothers are heavily influenced by bands like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nirvana, Radiohead, HEALTH, Warpaint, and Os Mutantes. Make no mistake out it – these twins grind out vicious, and frenetic buzzsaw riffs and chords, snarling, horsed vocals, psychedelic electronic atmospherics and triumphant percussions that slice and dice for a cathartic sound.

“Will You Be Mine“ Jack and The Ripper from Jack and The Ripper Vol. 2

“Drive Thru Spiritual Awakening“ Jack and The Ripper from Jack and The Ripper Vol. 2

Jack and The Ripper official website

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Mechanical Joints – Mechanical Joints

After nine years of writing music together long distance by sending sound files back and forth to one another online, two 20-something DIY musician friends decided in 2013 that it was time to record and release their experimental electronic pop debut. The duo’s eponymous LP is something pretty spectacular that more people should hear. The self-titled 2014 release of the debut album from Shawn Wilson (drums, synth, guitar, samples, bass, vocals) of Detroit and Sam Sage (vocals, bass, guitar, synths, drums, samples) of Houston is completely a DIY work – from writing to recording and production.

The results are an amazingly intricate electronic rock album full of machine-like beats and sounds, fuzzy distortion, and mysterious vocals. The duo, influenced by bands like Nine Inch Nails, Sleigh Bells, Portishead, and Aphex Twin, currently live in Chicago where they are hoping to break out on the local, and national, scene. We think they have a damn good shot at doing both.

“Our self-titled debut album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered independently in less than a year,” Wilson said. “Our music could be described as electronic, noisy and occasionally poppy. We totally dig distortion.”

“Insigdifferent“Mechanical Joints from Mechanical Joints

“Long Goodbye“ Mechanical Joints from Mechanical Joints

Mechanical Joints on Facebook

“Indie rock is music created without the influence of middlemen, corporations or monetary promise; free art.” – Shawn Wilson

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Monuments – Brigadune

The Brooklyn-based DIY indie rock/psychedelic sci-fi band, Monuments, formed in 2006, released its sophomore LP, Brigadune, last spring, consisting of a collection of songs about “paranoia of things falling apart – from slippery/elusive consciousness, to the impermanence of personal relationships, to the creepiness of cults, and the fall of modern civilization.” Oddly enough, and the band claims completely unintentional, the title Brigadune, and the music on it, are surprisingly similar to an old musical called Brigadoon. “The word was just a placeholder title for an instrumental track, but when we Googled it a couple weeks later, there were many similar themes between our album and the musical…[which is] about two New Yorkers who travel to the highlands of Scotland to find a utopic [sic] town that only exists for a day every 100 years.” Monuments features Gabriel Berezin on vocals and guitar; Robby Sinclair on drums, and Grant Zubritsky on bass and synthesizer.

The band has opened for artists and bands like Nina Persson, Field Music, Shooter Jennings, Earl Greyhound, and consider Peter Gabriel, Queens of the Stone Age, Neil Young, Elbow, St. Vincent, and Jeff Buckley among their top influences. Speaking about what indie rock means to the band, Berezin told IRC: “Indie rock is freedom. It’s the label for music that defies category. It allows an artist to incorporate all styles. For us that means jazz, Motown, classic rock, prog rock, Indian music, and classical music. It’s what all music should be: open to all influences, trapped by none.”

“Sole Provider“Monuments from Brigadune

“Soon“Monuments from Brigadune

Monuments Official Website

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Hippy Tantrum – Spadoinkle

Anthony DeMartini is the one man band behind Brooklyn DIY outfit Hippy Tantrum. In addition to writing all of the songs on his 2014 debut EP, Spadoinkle, DeMartini records and mixes the vocals, synths, guitar and percussion to create music he calls “electronic non-pop” rock. “Growing up in Jersey, I’ve had this itch to be a musician for a while, and now I’m looking to scratch out a living in Brooklyn,” DeMartini said. “I created my solo project as an outlet while I was persistently trying to start or join a band. Hippy Tantrum will strive to be unique and experiment with new concepts – like back-up dancers and awkward conversations with parents.” Although we really enjoy the tracks below, it should be noted that Hippy Tantrum doesn’t sound much like DeMartini’s self-professed favorite bands, which include Muse, Radiohead and The Dave Matthews Group.

“Cruel Summer“Hippy Tantrum from Spadoinkle

“The Future“Hippy Tantrum from Spadoinkle

Hippy Tantrum on Soundcloud

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No Sleep For Lucy – Pair of Singles

We certainly can’t claim to always ‘get it right.’ Many times when we feature a new, under-the-radar or DIY artist or band, we’re basing it off of raw talent and a sense that there is great potential that has so far not been realized for whatever reason. That’s the case for the DIY Swedish band, No Sleep For Lucy. NSFL possess a tight, even well polished sound, that obviously emulates, quite well, the mainstream-leaning, southern California alternative rock sound that 15 years on is still inspiring ambitious, young musicians around the world to embrace it and somehow also make it their own. It certainly isn’t the type of rock of the hipster, stoner or serious musician crowds. But that’s OK – we’re all about inclusivity. It’s possible that a lot more people than we imagine will dig this two well performed songs by the unsigned band from Sweden that apparently has some back story about a girl named Lucy who has sleep issues.

Def props to the band for going with a name that is not exactly commercial oriented but is definitely search engine friendly, unique and memorable. Christian Rabbs, the co-founder and guitarist, told IRC that the band named it after the anthropological find of the oldest human remains ever found of a female that became known around the world as Lucy, who has been touring around the world for some time – thus, the name, No Sleep For Lucy.

The band came together after vocalist Lukas Meijer and bassist Kristoffer Sjökvist met and realized their tastes in making music were similar. After many practice sessions, the band released two terrifically energetic and memorable tracks, “Feel Alive” and “Going Down” earlier in 2014. The boys were helped out by the well-known Swedish producer Mats Valentine. Rabbs and Sjokvist had previously written platinum and gold records for artists around the globe along with their partners Tommy Henriksen (Simple Plan, Daughtry, Alice Cooper) and Mark Holman (Grammy Award nominee ‘RED’, American Idols). “When we write music we always start with just playing around with some riffs/chords and when we have something that feels inspiring we start and find some interesting melodies,” Rabbs said. “We love playing live better than sitting in a dark studio dungeon.”

“Feel Alive“No Sleep For Lucy

“Going Down“No Sleep For Lucy

No Sleep For Lucy – Facebook

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Time Spills – Cool EP

From the heart of “America’s Breadbasket,” better known as the Central Valley of California, the progressive rock band Time Spills takes a different approach to their music than most bands – it’s all instrumental. The band’s drummer, Shane Luevano, says the trio was formerly a quintet, but they soon found out shortly after forming in 2012 that they had more fun writing and recording songs without a vocalist. As a newly minted three-piece band, they draw inspiration from bands like The Mars Volta, The Fall of Troy, Tides of Man, Tera Melos, Dance Gavin Dance, and Pink Floyd.

Morphing into an instrumental trio seems to be working out for the Salinas band, which is evidenced on tracks like “Kimmer Crispin” and “Trapazoid,” from Time Spills’ debut EP, Cool. Over a two year period, Luevano said, the trio came to realize they made the right decision. “It allowed us to experiment freely and push some musical boundaries. We try not to stick to one genre but to merge as many as we can.” To that point, the band mix math rock, jazz, surf rock and alternative rock into their signature sound. And even more so, they don’t care if it doesn’t stand up against criticism – a true DIY spirit if there is one. “We make music for ourselves, nothing else and if someone actually takes the time to listen, well that’s awesome!” The trio, which also includes guitarists Ricardo Chavez and Christian Talamante.

“Kimmer Crispin“Time Spills from Cool

“Trapazoid“Time Spills from Cool

Time Spills on Facebook

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Desert KillersArdio EP

Desert Killers is a DIY multi-genre duo from Sao Paulo, Brazil, featuring local musicians Antonio Ribeiro (vocals, drums, percussions) and Matheus Zingano (vocals, guitars, keys), that mixes blues, rock, psychedelia to create a unique sound. The duo got together in 2013 after having performed in other bands that were not taking the direction they wanted to go with producing music. Right away they began writing songs inspired by their personal “scars and insights” and “the complexities of the world.” Their debut EP, Ardio, features the two tracks below – “So Bad” and “Take My Way.” The duo’s musical influences include Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Queens of the Stone Age, and Muddy Waters.

“So Bad“Desert Killers from Ardío

“Take My Way“Desert Killers from Ardío

Desert Killers official website

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Joel Strauss – Don’t Lose That Feeling

The fist thing that we noticed about Canadian DIY multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, Joel Strauss, is his voice – nasally, but a good kind of nasally (like Dylan and others). Perhaps even more so, he sounds a bit like Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, and conveys a remarkably sonic palette. In subsequent spins of Strauss’ songs over the ensuing months, we got to like his music all more and more, most especially the two singles included below from his 2014 DIY debut album, Don’t Lose That Feeling. Strauss skillfully weaves together various styles, like pop, rock and folk into his songs, together with intelligent and inspiring lyrics. And that voice – one which some will turn away from, and others will embrace. Strauss’ music is ‘grower’ style, although there are sure to be listeners who like his music right away.

“Don’t Lose That Feeling” Joel Strauss from Don’t Lose That Feeling

“The New City” Joel Strauss from Don’t Lose That Feeling

Joel Strauss Official Website

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The Crash Bandits – Closer

The Crash Bandits are a three-piece indie rock band from Minneapolis who have made a name for themselves in the local scene thanks to their highly charged rock balanced with pop moments as displayed on their 2014 third LP, Closer. The band has spread its wings beyond Minneapolis to cities throughout the Midwest. In March of 2014, they were a showcase band at South By Southwest. Their musical influences span many decades, from The Ramones to the Pixies, Saves The Day to The Replacements, and Blink 182 to Motion City Soundtrack. The band members include Matt Brownon vocals and guitar; Kevin Goff on drums and Nick Westgor on bass. While at their core they are hard rockers, tracks like “Silly Things,” with it’s catchy pop/rock style and singalong choruses, is the type of song you’d want to hear on a sunny day after the skies have been cloudy and grey for too long.

“Silly Things“The Crash Bandits from Closer

“I Don’t Know“The Crash Bandits from Closer

The Crash Bandits on Facebook

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Kwolek – Affectations

Kwolek is Boulder musician, songwriter and vocalist Michael Kwolek. Unlike his music, he wanted to create a simple moniker. As he told us, “All of the cool names were taken, so it seemed like my last name was a no brainer.” Plus, it’s reflective of the concept of his one-man band project. In addition to writing and singing all of the tracks on his 2014 debut EP, Affections, Kwolek played guitar, keyboards and programmed the songs as well. The songs were written and recorded over the past five years in different locales around the world – New Jersey, Beijing, Tokyo and finally Boulder. Standout tracks include the dense, yet spacious, guitar riff single, “Creeper,” and the divergently melodic, yet cacophonous “Such Hot Shit.” Kwolek’s top musical influences include artists like M83, Radiohead, New Order and St. Vincent.

“Creeper“Kwolek from Affectations

“Such Hot Shit“Kwolek from Affectations

tonymichaelellis-undertow

Tony Michael Ellis – Undertow

Anyone with a strong familiarity with The Beach Boys sound will find the songs on Los Angeles singer and songwriter Tony Michael Ellis‘ debut LP heavily influenced by the 60s pop rock icons. The single, “It Soothes My Soul,” combines upbeat melodies, acoustic guitar and piano, along with soaring harmonies, that couldn’t sound more like a rendition of The Beach Boys’ unique California pop sound (that still sounds fresh 50 years later). Ellis does a commendable job of replicating their sound, along with his admittedly Beatles-influence as well, in other singles on the album such as smooth love song, “Without Her.” However, the overall sound is still his own.

“Without Her Love“Tony Michael Ellis from Undertow

“It Soothes My Soul “Tony Michael Ellis from Undertow

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Paul McLinden – Head Happy

From Glasgow, Scotland, DIY songwriter and musician Paul Mclinden is a classically-trained, indie pop rock one-man band whose November release, Head Happy, and it turns out to be one of the best DIY LPs of the year, and perhaps our favorite debut LP of any other overseas artist in recent memory. Head Happy is a feast for the DIY hungry, featuring a banquet of appetizing songs like “Whether The Weather” and “Cheer Up,” to name just a couple. Ironically, “Cheer Up,” has – unlike his more upbeat songs – a more forbidding tinge with its sinister electric guitar notes rifling through the steadiness of the acoustic bass line, reminding us of something we’d hear on an early Velvet Underground demo tape. The fact that McLinden writes and sings all of his songs, but also plays all of the instruments AND mixes them altogether into tracks we want to play again and again, is more than just proof in the pudding of his talents as an artist.

“Cheer Up“Paul McLinden from Head Happy

“Whether The Weather“Paul McLinden from Head Happy

Paul McLinden official website

Read and listen to previous installments, Vol. I through Vol. IV, of Top DIY Songs & Albums of 2014 and discover great songs from talented bands you’ve probably never heard before.

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