5 New DIY Debuts You’ve Gotta Hear, Vol. II – Empire of Gold, The Irenes, Max Kala, Common Man, The Begowatts


The first installment of 5 New DIY Debuts You’ve Gotta Hear was wildly popular, so it only made sense to create another installment for this new series. Here are five recent DIY debut EPs and LPs from bands you’ve probably never heard of before that deserve more attention. You can stream all ten tracks – two from each release – with the built-in Flash player below, or click on the song links to download or play them in your browser or mobile.

In This Installment:

The IrenesChicago, Illinois

Empire of GoldChicago, Illinois
Max KalaPomona, California
Common ManOrlando, Florida
The BegowattsMadison, Wisconsin


The Irenes – James Baxter EP

The rising phoenix in the midst of the ashes of Chicago indie band The New Originals is the shiny new pop band, The Irenes. With a love – and a knack – for heavily melodic power pop in the tradition of The Kinks, Dr. Dog, The Beach Boys and Belle & Sebastian, the trio’s debut EP, James Baxter, features standout tracks like the irresistible “Rabbit Holes” and the infectious “Fortress of Solitude.”

The band members include Max Loebman, on vocals and guitar, Colin Burns on bass and vocals and Stef Roti on drums. The Irenes have opened for bands like Yawn, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, The Hush Sound, and Gold Motel. As a follow-up to their debut, the band is working on their sophomore album.

This Just In: We learned today that The Irenes are on hiatus until further notice. Two of the band members – Loebman and Roti – are currently working with another band. This band is so good together that they should get back together ASAP and resume work on the Irenes’ sophomore release.

“Rabbit Holes“The Irenes from James Baxter EP

“Fortress of Solitude“The Irenes from James Baxter EP

The Irenes on Bandcamp


Empire of Gold – Raw EP

Although he was born in San Diego in 1987, Michael Jack Dole, the full force behind Chicago outfit, Empire of Gold, was raised in Tecate, Mexico until the age of eight when he moved back to the United States.

His childhood, which he describes as “nomadic,” informs his brutally blunt lyrical creativity and musical expression, both of which are wonderfully captured in the songs on his debut EP, Raw, released on June 6th. Empire of Gold comes out the gates roaring and blazing on the track, “Burning Bridges,” with a head-banger style of rock that slows down to a smoldering rumble only to ramp back up into a full-on brawl of guitars and drums.

The second highlighted track from Raw, “Hot Damn,” combines stripped down acoustic riffs, electric guitar jams and a menacing swagger – giving it a particularly grunge rock personality. It’s not a stretch to observe that Dole is absolutely borrowing from from Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, but in a way that we think Nirvana fans would likely respect, and welcome. Not surprisingly, Dole lists Nirvana among his biggest musical influences, as well as Bright Eyes, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin.

According to Dole, his musical namesake was “inspired by a homeless man on Venice Beach who, after listening to me play a few songs, told me ‘keep doing what you’re doing kid – it’s like you’re building an empire of gold!'” We suspect even greater things will happen if Dole pairs up with an excellent producer who can hon his skills and unmask the grunge rock prodigy that could be lurking in the shadows. For those of you who are curious, Dole released a ‘demo album,’ titled Dead of Winter, in 2014. It’s worth checking out if you dig Raw.

“Burning Bridges“Empire of Gold from Raw EP

“Hot, Damn“Empire of Gold from Raw EP

Empire of Gold on Facebook


Max Kala – Amplification & Super Regeneration

The Pomona, California punk rock band Max Kala come storming full force out of the gates on the song “Do The Indoctrination,” slowing down to a crawl half way through, and building back up to a more intimidating swagger to end out the song. But it is no-holds-bar on the throbbing, cut-throat track, “Milaterrorism,” with its fast and chunky guitar riffs and audible growls from Amit Pandey (vocals, guitar) and Bryan Elliot (guitar), heavy, thumping bass line from Kerry Dowling, and raucous and powerful drumming from Jason Jeffrey. Both songs are cuts from the band’s 2015 debut album, Amplification & Super Regeneration.

Formed in 2011, Max Kala has opened for bands like Wckr Spgt, Savage Republic, State to State, and Night Control, and list among their top musical influences Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Dead Kennedys, Queens of the Stone Age, and Led Zeppelin. Bottom line: Max Kala kicks some major punk rock ass.

“Do the Indoctrination“Max Kala from Amplification & Super Regeneration

“Milaterrorism“Max Kala from Amplification & Super Regeneration

Max Kala on Facebook


Common Man – Introducing Common Man

Formed in 2013, Common Man is a psychedelic rock band made up of friends from Orlando, Florida. But unlike other psych bands, Common Man fuses elements of jazz and funk into their sound, as evidenced on their debut LP, Introducing Common Man, which officially drops on July 1st.

The album’s first single, “Teenager,” with it’s driving percussions, psych rock, and somewhat menacing, guitar work, reverb-dripping, layered vocals and flourishes of trumpet playing, caught our attention, and imagination. Another track, “Everything Gyrates,” is a perfect follow-up with its funky, psychedelic, jazzy urban fused feel featuring grooves, jams and the impressive, mood enhancing trumpet parts from William Freidman, who is obviously a big fan of Miles Davis, and does his namesake well.

Calling themselves a “group of young rock-and-roll revivalists,” Common Man model themselves after artists and bands like Tame Impala, Ty Segall, Here We Go Magic, Herbie Hancock, and Grizzly Bear. But they are also very much their own band with their own sound. The other band members of this up-and-coming band include Robert John, songwriter and vocalist, Grant Freeman on vocals, keys, and guitar; Andrew Harms on drums, and Anders Ackerman on bass. They can be seen playing live in Orlando clubs like Will’s Pub and The Milk District.

“Teenager“Common Man from Introducing Common Man

“Everything Gyrates“Common Man from Introducing Common Man

Common Man on Facebook


The Begowatts – Frequency

In the northern city of Madison, Wisconsin, the band The Begowatts play raw blues-based rock and roll with a hard rock edge that is indicative of the late 60’s and early 70’s, when blues-influenced guitar rock ruled the universe. Think Deep Purple – that’s who they remind us most of in terms of style and sound.

Merging blazing riffs, a heavy, thumping bass and smash-and-burn drumming techniques, The Begowatts have quietly become one of Madison’s most promising rock bands.
Standout songs like “Wanderer” and “Preacher Girl” from the April release of their self-titled debut EP make this point better than words do. Members David French (lead guitar and vocals), Chris Lietz (bass), Ben Tofflemire (rhythm guitar), and Arthur Eigenbrot (drums, vocals) are all science graduate students who came together as a result of sharing a similar interest in bands like The Black Keys and The Who. Soon after discovering their mutual appreciation of rock, the quartet were jamming together and writing their own songs.

The band has opened for Annie B. & The Complication, Courtney Yasmineh, Angwish, The Sunpilots, and list among their favorite and most influential bands The Rolling Stones, The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, The War On Drugs, and Queen. The Begowatts, while perhaps not picking the best band name, are present-day examples that there is hope that there are millennials (as the media call them) who appreciate, and can play, rock and roll. It’s too bad, however, that bands like The Begowatts will never be heard on radio. But who the fuck needs radio? It’s a dying medium that deserves its fate.

“Wanderer“The Begowatts from Frequency

“Preacher Girl“

‘Wanderer’ Official Video

The Begowatts on Facebook

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