Top DIY Songs & Albums of 2014, Vol. VI – William Welfare, Birds in the Airport, Rigbi, Tapes and Tubes, Mid-American, Jane of Arc

William Welfare - Shunt

The Top DIY Songs and Albums of 2014 has been an exceptionally popular series, but soon we need to turn all of our efforts to 2015 since there is so much more than we’ve already featured that has come out, or is slated to be dropped, for this year. In the meantime enjoy this amazing issue filled with great music and bands you’ve probably never heard before.

In This Issue (Vol. VI):

William Welfare
Birds in The Airport
Rigbi
Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tully-Doyle
Invisible Elephant
Degaruda
Tapes and Tubes
Mid-American
The Locals
Funhouse
Cheap Dinosaurs
Bad Rites
Dogs of August
Jane of Arc

William Welfare – Shunt

William Welfare is the English-speaking alter ego of the Afrikaans rock singer/songwriter, photographer and Rolling Stone-South Africa podcast host, William Welsyn. During the past six years, Welsyn has dropped five well-known ‘Afrikaan’ rock albums. This time around, he felt, it was “time to release an album entirely in English’ using the moniker William Welfare. “I always figured that if a 1,000 people in South Africa could dig my Afrikaans rock music, then maybe a 100,000 people around the world could dig my English rock music.” And he knows how to rock.

The debut LP, Shunt, is blazing with gritty garage rock on tracks like the riff-heavy album-opener, “4 Cups of Dust,” and the space rock opera track, “Elephant Man.” The other band members that make up William Welfare include Gerhard Grobler on bass and Kyle Gray on drums. The band has opened for artists like Van Coke Kartel, Fokofpolisiekar, Peter Starstedt, Taxi Violance, Blk Jks, and their musical influences include Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins, Dan Auerbach, Band of Horses, and Led Zeppelin.

“4 Cups of Dust“William Welfare from Shunt

“Elephant Man“William Welfare from Shunt

William Welfare on Facebook

birdsintheairport

Birds in The Airport – How’s It Going to End?

Musician and vocalist Tom Breyfogle of West Hollywood, California, operating under the moniker Birds in The Airport, weaves together guitar, bass, percussions and vocals with cinematic atmospherics, high-pitched vocals, and sounds of nature to create quirky, Flaming Lips-like songs that he says “put a whimsical blanket over the normal monotony of pop music.”

Birds in The Airport was conceived originally in 2013 as a creative outlet during long stretches away from home. Breyfogle spends months at a time on the road as a touring musician for various bands and artists. The songs from his DIY debut album, How’s It Going to End?, were recorded alone in hotel rooms, dressing rooms, and apartments. We’re sure glad his boredom inspired him to create these interesting and seductive tracks, including standout songs, “The Sky Is Falling Down” and “Little Black Dresses.” The album was released on May 1st, 2014. Breyfogle’s musical influences include Eels, Flaming Lips, Danny Elfman, Tim Kasher, and The Beatles.

“To me, indie rock is music made without the intention of pleasing anyone except for yourself.” – Tom Breyfogle of West Hollywood

“The Sky is Falling Down“Birds in The Airport from How’s It Going to End?

“Little Black Dresses“Birds in The Airport from How’s It Going to End?

Birds in The Airport on Facebook

rigbi-band

Rigbi – Visionary EP

The band members that make up the Sparta, New Jersey DIY band Rigbi got together in 2011 to create indie pop songs with Afro-pop flourishes, similar to Vampire Weekend, hip-shaking beats like the band, Cults, and sheer pop melodies like Local Natives with Weezer-like guitar licks thrown in on songs like “It’s Elementary” and “Take The Blame” from the band’s February 2014 sophomore EP, Visionary – perhaps of the underrated debuts of the year.

“Its Elementary“Rigbi from Visionary

Rigbi didn’t really get off the ground until members Jon Irizarry, Randy Sabo, and Brian Cornish came together for open studio sessions and then added musician Pat Maloney’s glockenspiel to create a full band.


Rigbi count Fleet Foxes, White Rabbit, and Tuneyards among their biggest musical influences, which is evident in folky pop songs like “Leaving Home,” that starts out with an emotive, even melancholy, feel that tugs at the heart strings and laments about friends and family who eventually move away from one another as kids, now young adults, leave home. But as the song progresses, it picks up and flourishes, with crashing cymbals, high-pitched viola strings, thunderous drums, and these encouraging words:

So get up, get up,
Get on your feet
Don’t look down. Don’t look down.
Cause you still believe
Let the wind push back
And let the gravity release you

And thus, the song closes with a slightly more optimistic tone – via the soft, twinkling notes of a xylophone.

“Leaving Home“Rigbi from Visionary

Rigbi on Facebook

aaronpoehler-dietrich

Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tully-Doyle – Dietrich

Since 2010, San Diego-via-Bloomington, Indiana recording artist Aaron Poehler has released two solo albums that made a bit of a buzz throughout southern California and beyond for finely crafted indie rock songs.

Prior to 2010, Poehler wrote and recorded Bloomington indie band Daily Glaze‘s landmark indie release, One Way Out. On his latest effort, Poehler teamed up with musician Ryan Tully-Doyle to craft “pop music structures slathered with steaming layers of distorted guitar, combining everything from post punk keyboard drone and 70’s wah leads to mesh slacker bedroom-pop delicacy with full-on glam-rock power,” as Poehler put it, for his debut album, Dietrich.

The two worked on the tracks for a good year in Poehler’s home studio before they were sent off to be mixed by Portland producer Larry Crane, who has mixed albums for Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Steve Malkmus, and Elliott Smith.

Tardon Feathered, who worked on Poehler’s previous releases, mastered the album at Mr. Toad’s in San Francisco. Feathered has previously mastered albums for bands like Pinback and Jawbreaker, and for legendary artists like David Byrne, Brian Eno, and Billy Joel. Poehler’s top musical influences include Iggy Pop, Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Warren Zevon, and Bob Dylan.

“Sleeper“Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tully-Doyle from Dietrich

Poehler said indie rock is “music inspired by dissatisfaction with mass-produced, marketing culture in which art is only valued as currency – either cultural or monetary,” he said. “Personal investment in a work is so much more valuable than something created only to attract attention. So much music today is like a mirror ball: shiny and dazzling but essentially hollow and meaningless.”

Aaron Poehler’s official website

invisible-elephant-sleepwalking

Invisible Elephant – Sleepwalking

Although he has recently disbanded his music project – Invisible Elephant – DIY musician Rob Blackpool‘s 2014 album, Sleepwalking, is something to behold, with its soft dream pop mixed with folk and shoe gaze on tracks like “From The Bottom of a Well” and “Drift.” Blackpool describes his music as “dream pop and Haruki Murakami influences from psych folk to ethereal soundscapes to monolithic feedback.”

Commenting on the song, “From The Bottom of a Well,” Blackpool says “it is about vivid dreams and dissociation, but is melodic with vocals of Twin Limb’s vocalist Maryliz Guillemi in a cross-Atlantic duet.” Some of his major musical influences include Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, Prince, and Animal Collective. In the past, Invisible Elephant, formed in 2010, has been featured in NME, Absolute Punk, and Largehearted Boy. Blackpool recorded and mixed all of the instruments on the album.

“From The Bottom of a Well“Invisible Elephant with Maryliz Guillemi from Sleepwalking

“Drift“Invisible Elephant from Sleepwalking

Invisible Elephant Official Website

Degaruda

Degaruda – Degaruda

Self professed as a band “birthed from the spirit of the DC hardcore punk, stoner metal and Karen Carpenter,” the Bangkok, Thailand band, Degaruda, is comprised of band members familiar with the indie rock circuit that formed out of a desire to create a “monster with guitars for hands and a kick drum for a heart.”

Despite what spectators think about their angry, energetic performances, guitarist Dino Tarasin contends that the band is “really just four happy rock nerds.” Formed in 2013, other band members include Dino’s brother, Top Tarasin on guitar, piano and vocals, Phil Chuasukonthip on bass and Van Lakarnchua on drums. The band members’ musical influences include Catherine Wheel, Afghan Whigs, Baroness, Jawbox and The Cure. The band’s self-titled debut album is one of our favorite debuts of 2014 from an overseas rock band.

“Tanks“Degaruda from Degaruda

“Full Hands“Degaruda from Degaruda

Degaruda on Facebook

tapesandtubes

Tapes & Tubes – Ebb Tide

An artist we have featured in the past, Austin Potter of Olympia, Washington, released his first full-length album, Ebb Tide, under his Tapes & Tubes moniker early in 2014. We really enjoy his lo-fi rock/pop music at IRC, which is why he makes our top DIY releases of 2014. Potter draws musical inspiration from Lou Reed, Daniel Lanois, Warren Zevon, Dump, Lambchop and Bob Dylan. Check out this two singles – “Blue Star” and “Wandering Eyes” from Ebb Tide.

“Blue Star“Tapes & Tubes from Ebb Tide

“Wandering Eyes“Tapes & Tubes from Ebb Tide

Tapes and Tubes Official Website

Tapes and Tubes on Facebook

mid-american

Mid-American – Ancillary Colors

Indianapolis chamber pop/indie rock band Mid-American craft mystique, spooky sounds on the title track, “Ancillary Colors,” of their 2014 LP, splicing together fragmented notes from electric guitars, bass, and vibraphones. It’s not as easy to spot the jazz and folk influences in their style, but the more you listen to the album, the more apparent it becomes. Over the past four years, they’ve performed all throughout the Midwest. The interest from fans allowed the band members to fully fund their latest EP and LP via Kickstarter.

Formed in 2009, Mid-American’s uniquely enchanting/mysterious sound is backed by two drummers – Austin Gardne and Tyler Vamau, two guitarists, Landon Peck and Alex Pantos, Parker James on vibraphone, keys and percussion and Dan Varnau on bass. Their latest album was recorded at Varsity Recording Co., engineered and mixed by Alex Dobbert and Johnathan Class, and
mastered by TW Walsh. The band has opened for Healing Power, The Kickback and Pomegrantes, and count among their top influences Local Natives, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Midlake, Sufjan Stevens, and Grizzly Bear.

“Ancillary Colors“Mid-American from Ancillary Colors

“Tannins“Mid-American from Ancillary Colors

Mid-American on Facebook

the-locals

The Locals – Stereostatic Funicular

The Locals are a DIY alt-pop rock band from Chicago who craft seductive, emotive songs as demonstrated on their 2014 EP, Stereostatic Funicular. For the past decade, The Locals have become increasingly popular in the Windy City, and they’ve performed all throughout the Midwest, and even overseas.

The standout single from their 2014 release, “From The Floor,” features the accomplished vocals and string work of Yvonne Doll, who was featured in Guitar World as one of the ’10 Female Guitarists You Should Know.’ Stereostatic Funicular was produced by Steven Gillis at Chicago’s Transient Sound and features guest musicians Jason Narducy (Verbow, Bob Mould), Vijay Tellis-Nayak (The Steak House Mints) and Joanna Vassilatos (Radio Vago). The band’s solid rhythm section is comprised of bassist Christy Nunes, and drummer Tommy Oedering. The band will be performing the MusicGorilla’s showcase at South By Southwest on March 19th.

The Locals have opened for bands like Verbow, Swimsuit Addition, The Kickback, and Glittermouse, and consider their top musical influences to be artists like PJ Harvey, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

“From the Floor“ – The Locals from Stereostatic Funicular

“Bellissimo“The Locals from Stereostatic Funicular

funhouse-almostfamous

Funhouse – Almost Famous

With a stop and start hard rock edge that breaks out into a mighty, sharp-edged guitar solo, stomping bass, bursting drums and spooky choruses on songs like “Make My Heart,” the Parkersburg, West Virginia alternative rock trio Funhouse dropped the debut EP, Almost Famous, in March of 2014.

After quickly gaining a local following in West Virgina, the band members, Breyer White (guitar, vocals), Ralph Moyers (bass) and Casey Hardman (drums, vocals), decided in 2013 to record their debut, which turned out to be one of the best under-the-radar DIY rock EPs we heard in 2014. Funhouse has opened for bands like Hawthorne Heights, Bobaflex, Starset, and Shallow Side, and consider their musical mentors artists like Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“Make My Heart“Funhouse from Almost Famous

“Hospice“Funhouse from Almost Famous

Funhouse on Facebook

cheapdinosaurs

Cheap Dinosaurs – Triangle Trash

In 2008, after the breakup of Chromelodeon, ex-member, vocalist and synth performer Dino Lionetti formed the Philadelphia experimental, progressive solo project, Cheap Dinosaurs in order to perform shows as a one-man ‘Nintendo Gameboy’ extravaganza.

Not long after, Lionetti recruited five new members to expand Cheap Dinosaurs into a full band that produces heavy, complex tracks inspired by “the sounds of video games.” All of the members already had side projects in Philly’s “chiptune scene.” They include Joey Mariano (guitar, circuit bending); Dan Tarng (baritone guitar); Daniel Davis (keyboards, guitar); Paul Weinstein (bass) and Kevin Ragone (drums).

The six-piece band has opened for artists like Anamanaguchi, Infinity Shred, King Britt, Patric Catani (ec8or), Minibosses, Nullsleep, and count among their top musical influences Cornelius, Battles, Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, Kitaro, and 8-bit and 16-bit video game music. They dropped the debut LP, Triangle Trash, in January of 2014. Replying to a question ‘what is indie rock,’ Lionetti said, “I guess, pretty much anything that isn’t made for the lowest common denominator, and is not 100% electronic.”

“555“Cheap Dinosaurs from Triangle Trash

“Chromium“Cheap Dinosaurs from Triangle Trash

Cheap Dinosaurs on Facebook

touchtheground-badrites

Bad Rites – Touch The Ground

The Seattle DIY music project Bad Rites is the solo work of musician James Kelly Pitts (vocals, guitars, percussion), with occasional help from others, like background vocalist, Brittany Wright. Bad Rites ‘bedroom folk’ debut LP, Touch The Ground, was recorded partially in Pitts’ living room, partially at Seattle’s Soundhouse Studio (Sunny Day Real Estate) and finally at The Old Firehouse (literally a former firehouse).

“I asked the engineer what the record sounded like,” Pitts writes, “he paused, then chuckled, ‘man, I guess I’d say post-Americana… but I wouldn’t say that.'” The album’s ten songs paint a canvas of American disillusionment, embellished with swirls of indie folk, R&B, and psychedelia. Pitts is a fan of, and influenced by, artists and bands like Wilco, Damien Jurado, Arcade Fire, Dr. Dog, Raymond Carver, and Joaquin Phoenix.

“Little Romance“Bad Rites from Touch The Ground

“Which Ocean“Bad Rites from Touch The Ground

Bad Rites on Bandcamp

dogsofaugust

Dogs of August – About The Fall

At a party in Portland, Oregon in 2012, three guys with musical aspirations met and discovered they all had one thing in common – a desire to create a band. But it wasn’t until a few months later, after emailing back and forth, and long writing sessions, that Andrew Attebery (bassist), Matt Helvie (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), and Erich Goebel (lead guitar) were ready to record tracks under the band name Dogs of August.

But they needed a drummer and after “many frustrating months, auditions, false starts and assorted craziness” the trio found drummer Steve Sheirbon to round out the band. The result was the band’s debut LP, About The Fall, a work that deserves to be heard by indie and alternative rock fans. The band’s top musical influences, according to Attebery, are Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains and Floater. They’ve previously opened for bands like Akkadia, The Shrike and This Fair City.

“Against the Wall“Dogs of August from About The Fall

“Another Strange Trip“Dogs of August from About The Fall

Dogs of August website

jane-of-arc-freedom-in-falling

Jane of Arc – Freedom in Falling

DIY acoustic pop duo, Jane of Arc, from Ferndale, Michigan – featuring musicians Chelsea Carter and Elida Quesada – began making sweet music together in late 2007. Their journey began in a Detroit basement armed with just two acoustic guitars and a modest drum kit. On their debut LP, Freedom Is Falling, dropped in April of 2014, the sound ranges from beautifully composed mellow tracks to others that will have you tapping your feet. What the talented female duo were aiming for was an album that “over time and tender care” would emerge as a sensory explosive catalog of songs that takes indie acoustic pop enthusiasts on a journey through the uncertainty, fear and liberation of experiencing love and enduring loss.”

The ladies favorite musicians and bands include Adele, Brandi Carilie, Milo Greene, London Grammar, Mumford & Sons, Ben Folds and Between The Lines. Jane of Arc has previously opened for bands like Local Natives, Kate Havnevik, The Cliks, Levi Johnston, Tony Lucca, and Namoli Brennet.

“Run Flying“Jane of Arc from Freedom in Falling

“Say“Jane of Arc from Freedom in Falling

Jane of Arc on Facebook

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  1. Wow!!!! What a great playlist of artists and bands I have never heard of before – as always, you guys turn me on to so much obscure, but amazing, bands

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