Best DIY Music of 2015, Vol. IV – The Wild Young Hearts, Starar, Ness, Ordinary Van, The Mondanes, Aether Street, Maven

One of the great things about music nowadays is the access to all kinds of artists and bands, from all around the world, and every type of genre. This fourth installment of the popular Best New DIY Music of 2015 series features bands from Los Angeles and Long Island, London and Paris, Norway and Sweden, Reno and San Diego, and from rural Ohio to upstate New York, as well as genres including ambient rock and indie pop to psych and roots, folk, electro and shoegaze. This is some of the best underground music of 2015 you haven’t heard (yet).

In this Installment:

The Wild Young Hearts – Los Angeles, California
Starar – London, England
Ness – Long Island, New York
Ordinary Van – Fort Wayne, Indianapolis
Pelicat – Norway
Elder Flower – Arvika, Sweden
The Mondanes – Gothenburg, Sweden
Maven – Paris, France
Aether Street – Reno, Nevada
More Than Skies – Huntington, New York
Bad & The Ugly – San Diego, California
Jeremy & Lynee – Minster, Ohio


The Wild Young HeartsFeel Good

The Los Angeles indie rock band The Wild Young Hearts has a great sound that will remind some right away of Weezer, which the band listed as one of their biggest musical influences. But they are not simply a copy-cat band of the Weezer sound (we’ve heard plenty of those over the years); instead they make it their own with elements of Sonic Youth and Pavement intertwined on songs like “U R,” (a recent IRC Song of The Day) with its part whimsical, part swagger, aided by melodic, hook-happy guitars, and an angling lead guitar riff that loops throughout the otherwise slow, ambling track.

TWYH’s second single, “Broken,” from the just released album, Feel Good, is more serious and somber. It tells the story of a cancer diagnosis of the story teller’s lover, who eventually dies within six months; thus the title, “Broken.” The song picks up into a rising, almost celebratory chorus (as the story teller realizes he must move on) at the end, with the following verses:

We cannot change
what’s already broken
and I cant just wait around
for a dream that wont’ come true

We cannot change
what’s already spoken
if I could babe
you know I would
trade it all
for another night with you

The band, just formed last year, includes Robb Laffoon (vocals, guitar); Justin Norman (guitar); Garrett Warren (bass), and Kevin Pintado (drums). In addition to Weezer, the band members listed their other musical influences to include The Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Blink 182, Against Me!, and The Menzingers.

“U R“The Wild Young Hearts from Feel Good

“Broken“The Wild Young Hearts from Feel Good

Music Video: I Just Wanna Go Home

The Wild Young Hearts on Facebook

Starar – Time Under We

This post highlights two sibling duos. The first is the impressive London indie rock/shoegaze band Starar. Formed in 2009, the duo consists of Jenna Starar (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and Steven Starar (drums, bass, vocals). Growing up together in the same house, the sister-brother duo were fans of singer/songwriters like Jackson Brown, Paul Simon, Bruce Hornsby and Marc Cohn. They are also fans of modern day artists like Haim, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros and The Bear’s Den.

Styling themselves after classic rock and pop acts of the 70s and 80s, and a newer generation of indie/alternative artists, each write their own songs which they record together. The results on incredibly catchy, hook-filled tracks like “Time Under We” and the softer, more sentimental, “Holding Our For The One,” demonstrate that Starar are just too good to be another under-the-radar indie band.

In fact, in London, they are pretty well known and have amassed over 37,000 ‘followers’ (Likes) on Facebook. The numerous genres that inform the music of the Starar siblings, like jazz, shoegaze and rock, are apparent in their growing discography. They’ve also performed at various venues around the U.K., including the swanky Park Plaza Westminster and the downbeat pubs and clubs of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Now it’s time for Starar to grow a U.S. following.

“Time Under We“Starar from Time Under We – April 5th
The official music video: “Time Under We”

“Holding Out For The One“Starar from Time Under We

Starar on Facebook


ness – A Second to Think

During the hazy Long Island summer of 2013, 21-year-old Jesse Weisberg (vocals, keys, drums) and Ethan Peck(guitar, key, bass, drums) formed the DIY alternative folk/indie pop band ness, modeling their sound after musical influences like Coldplay, Frightened Rabbit, Vampire Weekend, alt-J, The National, and Passion Pit.

A few months prior, Peck, who was already writing songs, heard Weisberg singing while playing RockBand on the PlayStation and convinced him to start playing the guitar and singing more seriously. That was the catalyst for the two to begin recording together.

A year later, the duo had picked up a following, and by the fall of 2014, they were playing gigs at renowned New York City venues like The Studio at Webster Hall, Bowery Electric, Rockwood Music Hall, and Pianos. In January, Ness dropped their debut EP, A Second to Think.

“Our EP was recorded at home on a laptop,” Peck said. “It might not be perfect, but it sounds like what it is: a couple of kids experimenting on a laptop – to a certain extent, we’re proud of it that way,” he added. “What ness lacks in talent and audio knowledge, we hope to make up for in songwriting chemistry and creativity. The goal has always been simply to elicit emotion.” We don’t agree that the duo lacks talent, as anyone can hear for themselves on songs like the uptempo mandolin strumming, reverb-heavy vocalsof the first single, “Behind The Couch” and the emotive track, “Walls,” that builds up, flourishes and then bubbles down.

Ness’ music is original, compelling, and reverb-heavy acoustic pop with uptempo mandolins, twinkling xylophone notes, and light beats. Keep an eye on these guys! You can listen to the entire EP via the duo’s official website.

“Behind the Couch“ness from A Second to Think – Jan. 21st

“Walls“ness from A Second to Think

ness on Facebook


Ordinary Van – Ordinary Van

Over the past decade, more and more music lovers, not just in Europe, but increasingly in the U.S., have come to appreciate, and seek out, more ambient rock than in years previous. So it’s no surprise that ambient rock bands are in demand. Filling some of that demand is Ordinary Van, a DIY ambient post-rock band from Fort Wayne, Indiana, which actually started out as a recording project of singer/songwriter Paul Bates and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Holquist in 2011.

OV’s songs are best described as lo-fi, dreamy, melodic rock dominated by Bates’ understated, soft vocals, and ringing electric guitars from Holquist and guitarist Charlie Davis, backed by the mean beats and crashing cymbals of drummer Chris Leonard right through the crescendo on songs like “Tidal” and “Armadillo.” The band has opened for artists like Water Liars and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and count among their major musical influences Radiohead, The El Camino, Sigur Rós, John Vanderslice, and Death Cab for Cutie.

Ordinary Van released the self-titled EP with the help of acclaimed electronic artist Onewayness, who is actually Ryan’s brother Adam Holquist. The songs were adapted and recorded with Davis and Leonard in order to achieve the full band sound they originally envisioned as a duo.

“Armadillo“Ordinary Van from Ordinary Van

“Tidal“Ordinary Van from Ordinary Van

Ordinary Van official website

who you are-kopi

PelicatPelicans and Rainbows EP

From Norway, the DIY indie pop rock duo, Pelicat, co-helmed by Andreas Kase (vocals, guitars) and Mads Johansen (drums, backing vocals), deliver sensual, dreamy hooks and melodies peppered with brief transitions of psych pop, as evident on the love song, “Who You Are.” With a similar dreamy, melodic hook, the second single, “Head to Rome,” is a metaphor from the perspective of a lover who is tired of fighting and suggests to his ‘other half’ to ‘head to Rome’ and to understand that a relationship takes work, as in “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” They sound somewhat like their Scottish role models, Belle and Sebastian, whether intentionally or not.

Based on how tight they sound, who would know that they’ve only officially been a unit since the first of the year. “We gathered for the first time in a cabin on January 1st with a lot of instruments, a tape recorder, and a few bottles of wine,” said bassist and keyboardist Jonas Rhode-Moe.

Three days later, he added, a newly formed trio emerged with three new demos. “Now, only three months later, we have already released two songs on Soundcloud, and both of them have been played quite a bit on Norwegian national radio. We focus on the fun in making music, and we hope that reaches out to the listener as well.”

The forth-coming debut EP, Pelicans and Rainbows will drop in June. Kase and Johansen, accomplished musicians at a young age, have opened for artists like Crystal Fighters, The Kooks, Xzibit, and ++ in their previous bands. Pelicat identifies top music influences as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, POND, Mac Demarco, and Tame Impala.

“Who You Are“Pelicat from Pelicans and Rainbows

“Head to Rome“Pelicat from Pelicans and Rainbows


Elder FlowerCaribou

Just like Pelicat, the Swedish band Elder Flower, talk about their formation in almost matter-of-fact, simplistic terms. “Based in rural Sweden, we met, and we started to play.” That’s pretty much all they gave us.

The band members – Josephine Bodén (vocals); Kalle Widén (guitar); Annie Persson (synth); Rasmus Andersson (bass), and Daniel Hägg (drums) – fashion themselves after bands like Mew, Little Dragon, Robyn, and Bosnian Rainbows. As members of bands other than Elder Flower, the musicians have shared the stage with artists like Peter Bjorn and John, Sugarplum Fairy, and The Sounds.

“Forest“Elder Flower from Caribou

“Caribou“Elder Flower from Caribou

Elder Flower on Facebook


The Mondanes – Freeze Out

In 2014, five young musicians in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a common interest in musical styles like indie rock, folk, pop and Americana, got together and formed The Mondanes. After performing in venues around the city, they entered the studio to record their debut EP, Freeze Out, which dropped in March. Over a few “intense days” in the studio, the band recorded a ‘live’ set, without too many takes or intricate mixing, we’re told, in order to “capture the living, genuine vibe that only music performed live can offer.”

The result is a fantastic EP brimming with energetic pop and catchy hooks. The EP entered and remained in the Swedish Top 10 Album Charts on iTunes for a number of weeks following its release. Once the young band’s music gets circulated more around the U.S., and especially if they come over to tour, they’re bound to grow a U.S. following.

The band members include Jonas Ben Rahmoun (guitar and vocals), Jonathan Ryberg (bass, vocals), Nicolas Velasquez (guitar), Love Nurmi (drums,vocals), and Karl-Johan Gydell (guitar, vocals). Some of their favorite bands include The Beatles, The Kinks, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Beach Boys, The Band, and First Aid Kit.

“Silver Spoon“The Mondanes from Freeze Out – Feb. 22nd

“Violet Gun“ The Mondanes from Freeze Out

The Mondanes on Facebook


MavenStaring At Eastern Lights

Maven is a post-rock/ambient instrumental band from France who we think are making strides to become a band to watch in France and beyond. The two dreamy and calming tracks — “The Hymn of Her Innocence” and “Fragility of Life” — interrupted by moments of soaring guitars and synths, from their latest release, Staring At Eastern Lights, are simply fantastic and a must-hear for fans of ambient rock. It’s impossible to miss the clues in these compositions that demonstrate that all four band members are sailing along the same beautiful and thrilling trip.

You may find yourself agreeing with guitarist Alex Dupy‘s description of the band’s music: “Each song is a mixture of dense atmospheres, ambient soundscapes, aerial and captivating melodies followed by explosives and epic rises,” he says. “We hope this EP will transport you through the same range of emotions that we had creating it.”

We can only imagine how amazing this band would sound at an outdoor concert on a warm August night with an amazing light show behind them. Ordinary Van has opened for bands like Lymbyc Systym, Kerretta, and God Is An Astronaut, and their musical inspirations include Mogwai, Caspian, and Explosions in the Sky.

“The Hymn Of Her Innocence“Maven from Staring At Eastern Lights

“Fragility Of Life“Maven from Staring At Eastern Lights

Maven on Facebook


Aether Street Lock Your Guns Up

Aether Street is a new Reno-based indie electronic duo featuring brothers Aaron (guitar, vocals) and Daniel Sion (drums, vocals, production), who are just 21 and 24 years old, respectively. As former members of the regionally popular band, CRVSH (aka ‘Crush’), the Sions already have more than 200 west coast gigs – in cities like Reno, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles – under their belts with their previous band.

After dabbling for some time in genres like rock, hip-hop and EDM, the duo has honed a new radio and festival-friendly sound that mixes electronic production with orchestral rock and two-part vocal harmonies. On stage, the brothers use nothing more than a laptop, two microphones, drums and a guitar. Daniel cues samples from the computer, and keeps the beats on a small, three-piece drum kit, while Aaron strums away on a translucent electric guitar — both the drums and guitar light up in a display of colors synchronized to the drum beats, samples and guitar notes.

Their new single, dropped in March, is “Lock Your Guns Up.” They recently opened at the Knitting Factory in Reno for RAC before their big Coachella appearance last month. They have also opened for 3OH!3 and Dev. Their biggest musical influences are The Beatles, Bjork, Queen, Nirvana, and Bob Dylan.

“Lock Your Guns Up“ Aether Street from Lock Your Guns Up – Single – March 23rd

“Lock Your Guns Up” video

Aether Street on Facebook


More Than Skies – More Than Skies

Started in 2006, More Than Skies, based in Huntington, New York, is an indie folk rock band that songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Adam James Tomlinson (bass, guitar, piano) founded after realizing that his other musical projects were not compatible with the sound he was looking for. So he formed a band around the music he has been writing.

His nasally voice reminds us a lot of an Artist of the Week musician we have featured in the past, Joel Strauss. But just like Strauss, the nasal aspect of the vocals is not a bad thing – just the opposite. On the song, “White Pine Way,” angular, ascending guitar notes, brisk drumming and thumping bass blend to create an almost ambient folk sound. The second single from More Than Skies self-titled double LP, “Euphoria,” is a lazy, drifting track that meanders through slide guitars, gentle drumming and understated bass until it builds up into a subtle climax and almost as quickly fades into the ending like a camp fire that flares one last time before it smolders into just a few glowing ambers.

More Than Skies previous releases include an EP, The Liar, The Puppet, The Fox, and a full length album entitled I Am Only Above The Ground. The following artists participated in the recording of the new album: Phil Corso (drums); Jiliane Russo (cello); Dylan Ebrahimian (violin); Derek Smith (guitar); Darrell Cheng (lap steel guitar); Chris Polzella (percussion); and Emily Lazio and Stephanie Tolino (backup vocals).

The band has opened for artists like John Nolan and Laura Stevenson. Their musical influences include Elliott Smith, The Beatles, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Sharon Van Etten, David Bazan, and Joel T Hamilton.

“White Pine Way“More Than Skies from More Than Skies – Feb. 28th

“Euphoria“More Than Skies from More Than Skies

More Than Skies official website


Bad & The UglySlept In The Pages

The name of the San Diego folk band Bad & The Ugly might give you some kind of mental image, but don’t let it mislead you. The band has a sound similar to groups like City and Colour or Thrice with a unique twist of dark acoustic overtones, hook-heavy melodies and introspective lyrics. Bad & The Ugly has been on the radar in San Diego since the release of their debut EP Skin and Bones in October of 2013.

Although Bad & The Ugly are a relatively new band, vocalist Nate Hess and bass player Tyler Ferguson are no newbies to the scene, having both played in the hardcore band A Shattered Hope. ASH toured the US numerous times and were even booked for a while on The Vans Warped Tour.

The duo joined Tarvis Keane on guitar, Derek Michael Hudson on drums and Eric Hesse on the slide guitar to record their sophomore EP, Slept In The Pages. The change in musical direction for Hess and Ferguson is apparent – from loud, chaotic rock to an almost cinematic folk pop sound, Bad & The Ugly have opened for bands like Howlin’ Rain, Buffalo Killers, Soft White Sixties, and include among their top music influences Grizzly Bear, City and Colour, Polyenso, and Mortal Orchestra.

“Dead Body“Bad & The Ugly from Slept In The Pages March 31st

“Can’t Shake The Daze“Bad & The Ugly from Slept In The Pages

Bad & The Ugly on Facebook

Jeremy & Lynne- Drawing Blood

Folk, roots duo Jeremy & Lynne, from Minster, Ohio, weave soft, melancholy acoustic guitar with whimsical lyrics and gentle vocals on songs like “Inside My Head” and “4am” . The duo’s songs have been described by listeners as “a folk/Americana/punk hybrid in the DIY tradition; the lyrical content is the focal point of all the original songs. Delving into the familiar territory of a life lived, relationships and past success and regrets, the music through the filter of both artists attempts to take on a life of its own.”

Longtime friends, Jeremy Siegrist (guitar, vocals) and Lynne Baker (guitar, mandolin, vocals), decided to start writing, demoing and recording songs in 2012, official formed as a duo last year and dropped their debut, Drawing Blood, in March. Jeremy & Lynne’s favorite artists include Bon Iver, Jason Isbell, DBT, Frank Tuner, Neil Young and Lucero.

DIY and indie music, Siegrist writes, is “music that falls outside of the radio, media juggernaut; music as art and expression from people around the world who might never be noticed otherwise.”

“Inside My Head“Jeremy & Lynne from Drawing Blood

“4am“Jeremy & Lynne from Drawing Blood

Jeremy & Lynne on Facebook

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