While 2015 is over, the Best Music of 2015 is still being tallied, and we’ll be featuring the top music – both DIY and ‘mainstream indie’ – for the next few weeks. We have hours and hours – even days – of playlists published throughout the year in popular post series like Best New DIY Music of 2015; 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear; Artist of the Week; 5 Rock Bands You’ve Gotta Hear, and Best New Releases (featuring signed artists).
Don’t miss our Song of the Day, and other special playlists, on Indie Rock Cafe’s Soundcloud page, and follow us on Instagram for regular new bands, songs, album covers, videos, amazing photos and more. And for more and more playlists, including the best signed and talented indie artists and bands, singles and new releases, follow us on Spotify.
In this ninth edition of the Best New DIY Music of 2015, we introduce you to some of the best kept secrets, and Bands to Watch in 2016, in the world of DIY rock.
Sound Is Lovv – Los Angeles, California
Bad Hounds – Akron, Ohio
Margarine – Boston, Massachusetts
My Tribe Your Tribe – Kildare, Ireland
Beachmen – Salt Lake City, Utah
Serve The Sun – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ocean Glass – Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Hookspine – Lille, France
Jaromil – Dijon, France
Tombstones In Their Eyes – Los Angeles, California
Sound Is Lovv – Shipwrecks
Based out of Los Angeles and born from Brad Watson‘s solo project, Sound Is Lovv creates dreamy, shoegaze noise rock that is simply arresting and transfixing. Influenced by “90s alt. bands and their ’80s shoegaze predecessors, along with 60’s Motown,” the band shoots to “offer a heavier brand of modern shoegaze and dream pop.”
The band’s true standout track, “Take Me With You,” from their debut EP, Shipwrecks, is a slow blaze of rolling beats, echoey, soft vocals, hypnotizing guitars and choruses that soar and float above the green and blue world below – truly one of the best DIY dream pop tracks of 2015. Don’t miss the music video for the track.
– Sound Is Lovv from Shipwrecks
Sound Is Lovv doesn’t restrict itself to just one genre, which is part of the magic found on shoegaze/noise rock tracks like “And Don’t Believe,” with its crashing cymbals, riveting and soaring guitars and heavily reverbed vocals.
In addition to Watson, the band members include guitarist John Rockwell; bassist Dario Grenados and drummer Joel Murray. Tag Sound of Lovv as a Band to Watch in 2016.
– Sound Is Lovv from Shipwrecks
“Indie Rock is taking certain ideals of mainstream music and hodgepodg’in them together to create one’s own desired sound. Next to that sound, and re-envisioning it to accommodate broader tastes and facilitate accessibility, is what is required in order to initialize your brand as ‘independent’.” Brad Watson
Margarine from Free Tibet
The psych rock unit Margarine is a Boston-area DIY band that puts an emphasis on melodies “in the stylistic realm of the Beach Boys, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, and Animal Collective,” says the band.
He speaks the truth because from the first few seconds, right to the very last, of the fantastic, even mind-blowing track, “White M & M,” we were fans.
“It features an upright bass, a real grand piano, a guitar tuned to open D, and drumming on the back of that same guitar,” MacKenzie said. “We considered using a more conventional percussion instrument, but the sound of the guitar surface cut through the mix perfectly and it turns out you can get a pretty wide range of tones out of the back of a guitar.” That is exactly on point.
Other talented band members, and fellow university students, include Charles Wiston on keyboards and Matthew Okun on guitar. Bass player Ryan Accardi is a senior at Wellesley High School.
– Margarine from Free Tibet
– Margarine from Free Tibet
Bad Hounds from Bad Hounds
Bad Hounds are an Akron, Ohio rock band with two songwriters and singers – Ty Deming and Alex Gallo, both of whom are also guitarists, supported by bassist Mike Varga and drummer Cory DiBello.
The band released their self-titled, debut album this past August featuring passionate alternative rock songs like “Salt” and “Aphrodite.” Akron should be proud to have a band that stays true to their roots and can really rock it.
The young band’s top musical influences are Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books, and Alt-J. The band have already built a respectable following in and beyond Akron.
“Salt“ – Bad Hounds from Bad Hounds
“Aphrodite“ – Bad Hounds from Bad Hounds
My Tribe Your Tribe – Ghost With You/Will To Survive
Straight out of the picturesque Irish town of Kildare, located just 10 miles outside of Dublin, a new alternative shoegaze trio with the cool name, My Tribe Your Tribe, lighted up our radar thanks to a trio of debut singles released throughout 2015.
Garnering nearly 4,000 plays on Soundcloud, the hottest track, “Ghost With You,” sizzles with gritty synths, blazing alt. rock styles and booming percussion. The talented young musicians that make up My Tribe Your Tribe are George Mercer (lead vocals, synths, guitar); Tod Doyle (drums, vocals), and Colm Daffy (bass, guitar).
My Tribe Your Tribe hit the ground running since forming in 2014. Despite the fact that they haven’t even release an EP or LP yet, the band has played numerous music festivals around Ireland.
We can just imagine how the gorgeous “Ghost With You” was a hit with festival goers when MTYT were on stage last summer. And, if you listen to their other two tracks, “Will To Survive” and “Only A Horizon,” you might be able to hear the seeds (hearing seeds?) of a hot and fresh new DIY band from Ireland.
– My Tribe Your Tribe from Ghost With You/Will To Survive
“Will to Survive“ – My Tribe Your Tribe from Ghost With You/Will To Survive
Serve The Sun – Watching the Watchers EP
Let’s turn our sights to a talented young new band from The Netherlands. Serve the Sun is an Amsterdam-based indie soundscape quartet.
As evidenced by songs like “Helianthus,” the band paints a sound that relies on deep bass lines, grooving rhythms, shoe gaze-heavy guitar sounds, and sweet, emotive vocals, creating what the band prefers to call ‘indie groove trance.’
The second track, “With One Another,” is mystical, downbeat and sparse. The second half of the track picks up the tempo and introduces layers of swirling synths, almost as if the sun suddenly broke through the dusky morning, casting its warm rays onto a cold, dark world.
The band members include Tim Schakel (vocals, guitar); Manuel Verburg (guitar); Nard Koemand (bass), and Job van der Zijden (drums). These indie grooving, sample-loving musicians list musical influences as Radiohead, Atoms for Peace, The Veils, Bonobo, and Flying Lotus.
Producer Pim van de Werken (Eins, Zwei, Orchestra and Silence is Sexy), says it just about right in referring to Serve The Sun’s debut album: “It’s beautifully layered and experimental. Lie down, close your eyes; this deserves a careful listen.”
The band’s new EP, Watching the Watchers, is out now. Review the official music video for “Helianthus” via YouTube.
“Helianthus“ – Serve The Sun from Watching the Watchers EP
“With One Another“ – Serve The Sun from Watching the Watchers EP
“Indie Rock is music with freedom. Free from standards who limit the creative mind and create borders. Indie rock means you can express music the way you want to. “ – Tim Schakel
Ocean Glass – Track By Track
The Champaign-Urbana, Illinois-based indie rock band Ocean Glass has acquired a dedicated local following since finalizing their lineup in September of 2015. The band, only a little more than a year old, have become known for their high energy shows and have opened for top midwestern bands like Into It. Over It.
The track, “Stumble,” is what really drew us into this band from the Great Lakes region. With its ringing guitars, bumbling bass, and crashing cymbals and skins, “Stumble” is this new band’s standout track. Ahmed’s vocals, and the band’s choruses, are uplifting, and yet there are veins of angst, love, and hurt: “I wanna run away with you/but you tie me down.” That’s a fairly brilliant juxtaposed lyric.
The next track, “Saltwater,” has angular guitar and bass riffs that remind us of American Analog Set. The various stops and restarts, and the tangental jams that seem to characterize the band’s style also has some similarities to one of the band’s top musical influences – the superb indie band, American Football. The band members of Ocean Glass have proven themselves to be an excellent band with a lot of promise. Keep an eye on these guys; they’re not the regular fare of indie bands you might be used to.
Currently, the band is in the studio recording their second EP, and their first release with the new lineup. The band members are Nishat Ahmed (vocals); Kyle Solner (rhythm guitar); Weston Harman (lead guitar); Justin Isler (bass); and Luke Smith (drums).
Stumble – Ocean Glass from Ocean Glass
Salt Water – Ocean Glass from Ocean Glass
Hookspine – Averageness As A Cancerous Shivering Cell
We’ve been listening to the tracks of a young French solo musician Jean-Nicolas Lys (JnL), from the town of Lille.
His debut solo single, “Enough Cuteness,” as the artist Hookspine dropped this past summer, and we’ve been listening to it ever since. It doesn’t take long to recognize the artistry in the composition with it’s many progressions and even angular key and timing shifts with piano, guitar, bass and drums. Lys, or JNL, as he also references himself as, performed, recorded, and mixed all of the instruments. Yet another achievement.
Don’t feel out of sorts if you hear influences of The Beatles’ unique recording techniques, and the practice of sinking chapters, or at least sub plots, if you will, into songs, starting with Rubber Soul and continuing on through Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road (and the heart of the band’s experimental and creative genius).
However, “Enough Cuteness” is not The Beatles; nor trying to copy them. The influence is there, but the song retains its own identity and originality, which is the sign of a talented artist that can pull that off.
JNL’s top musical influences include Blur, Simian, Super Furry Animals, Elbow, Grizzly Bear, and Deerhunter. He was born and raised in Reunion Island where he began playing the piano at the age of three years old. His debut EP, Averageness As A Cancerous Shivering Cell, dropped on December 27.
(single edit) – Hookspine from Averageness As A Cancerous Shivering Cell
– Hookspine from Averageness As A Cancerous Shivering Cell
“Indie rock is a mix of several styles, apart from the popularity of mainstream music. it is quite vast; you can really hear totally different bands in indie music (Animal Collective vs Elbow for instance) and come across all sorts of unusual sounds.” – Jean-Nicholas Lys
Beachmen – Everybody’s Pink Inside
The Salt Lake City DIY garage pop, psych funk band, Beachmen, started out as a “home recording project” between guitarist Kyle Dickson and bassist Joshua Hunsaker.
After drummer Evan Vice joined to make a trio, the band began working on their new album, Everybody’s Pink Inside, which was just dropped on September 12th.
“In recording our new album, we wanted our audience to see our live show happen in their bedrooms,” Hunsaker wrote. “In fact, most of our songs were first recorded in one take as a band to be able to accomplish this.”
That is an accomplishment, and at times you can hear the rawness of their unperfected recording session, such as on the minimalistic, morphing track “Earthquake,” and yet it sounds awesome.
But the song, “Waiting,” changes gears; it’s bumping and chugging right along, with funk-borrowed beats, thick bass lines, and semi-tropical, heavily-distorted guitar riffs. We love the rocking and rolling jam the band kicks out, with liberal use of the whammy bar.
While they have only been together for a few years, Beachmen has shared the stage with top indie bands like Cold War Kids, Geographer, School of Seven Bells, and Wild Nothing. The fellas major musical influences are Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Flaming Lips, Dr Dog, Radiohead, and Talking Heads.
– Beachmen from Everybody’s Pink Inside
– Beachmen from Everybody’s Pink Inside
Jaromil – The Usual Shit You Tell Someone Who’s In Pain
From the city of Dijon, in the bucolic Burgundy region of France, comes the DIY indie pop electro rock duo Jaromil, who have previously opened for indie bands like Oh No! Oh My!, Girls In Hawaii, Absynthe Minded, Syd Matters, Vitalic, Bob Sinclar, French Cowboys, and Yeti Lane.
The track, “St. Pancreas,” from the release The Usual Shit You Tell Someone Who’s In Pain, is a menacing song with spooky keys, bumbling bass lines, and smoking guitar licks. Some of the duo’s many musical influences include Sufjan Stevens, Ghinzu, Pavement, Sigur Ros, Nick Cave, Eels, and Beach House. Jaromil is Antoine Barré Foncelle on drums and Arno on vocals, bass, guitar and sampling.
“St Pancreas“ – Jaromil from The Usual Shit You Tell Someone Who’s In Pain
“Cockleshell“ Jaromil from The Usual Shit You Tell Someone Who’s In Pain
Tombstones In Their Eyes – Sleep Forever
The Los Angeles DIY project Tombstones In Their Eyes has a unique story. It started on the Internet a few years ago in a collaboration between songwriter/singer, guitarist and keyboard musician John Treanor and New York musician James Cooper.
After collaborating via Dropbox, and using GarageBand, the duo ended up with some two dozen songs. Treanor set about picking the top tracks, and then recruited bass player Josh Drew and drummer Samuel Sherwood to record them on their debut album, produced by musician Paul Roessler (Screamers, 45 Grave, Deadbeats, Nina Hagen).
The result is a debut album that features psych rock, garage rock, and acoustic elements, as heard on choice tracks like the expectedly drowsy, “Sleep Forever,” and the more sinister, “It’s Always Nothing.” The band’s top musical influences include The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dandy Warhols, Built To Spill, and Elliott Smith – nice selection of four solid artists.
“Sleep Forever“ –
Tombstones In Their Eyes from Sleep Forever
“Its Always Nothing“ – Tombstones In Their Eyes from Sleep Forever