Also in the works – 5 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear; Best Indie and DIY Debuts of 2016, and many other posts.
In This Installment:
Maps of Suburbia – New York, New York
Cheops’ Cave – Hässleholm, Sweden
Empire of Gold – Los Angeles, California
The Modern Savage – Anchorage, Alaska
La Historia – Rockford, Illinois
Maps of Suburbia – Maps of Suburbia
New York City musician and songwriter Nicholas Perlman joined up with some friends in 2015 to form a new DIY indie band called Maps of Suburbia.
Perlman knew that he wanted to write and record songs with a diverse and distinct sound that vacillates between genres from alt. country and surf rock to folk and pop. Perlman, the lead vocalist and guitarist, is backed by Andy Porta on drums, guitar, and mixing-board sorcery, Seth Nicholson on bass, and Danny Flinn on bodhrán, with everyone lending their vocal talents.
The band dropped its self-titled, debut EP on June 30, featuring songs like the beautiful, “Highway One,” with its emotive, heartfelt vocals, heavily melodic acoustic and electric guitar parts, gentle drum and crashing cymbals.
Other tracks like the sombre song, “You Always Knew,” the boozy, Conor Oberst-like, “Friends, Lovers, Etc.,” the soft, yet somehow edgy, acoustic guitar (interesting tuning and nylon strings) number “Every Ghost” are all evidence that this new EP, and band, belong on the radars of indie folk-rock enthusiasts.
The other members of MoS include Andy Porta (drums, guitar, mixing); Seth Nicholson (bass) and Danny Flinn on bodhran.
Via Soundcloud: “Friends, Lovers, Etc.” – Maps of Suburbia from Maps of Surburbia
Cheops’ Cave – Old Not Gold
In 2013, five high school students from Hässleholm, Sweden, with similar tastes in artists like Foals, The Stone Roses and Makthaverskan, among others, began jamming together in their parents’ garages. They called themselves Cheops’ Cave.
Two years later, they were winning praise from the press, gaining followers, and, within less than a year, the members of Cheops’ Cave were traveling around Sweden performing at venues large and small.
Earlier this year, the band released their debut album, Old Not Gold, featuring a number of standout singles, like rocking lead-off track, “Get It Right,” with the type of energy, wit and raw talent of bands like Arctic Monkeys, which band bassist Erik Lundow, acknowledges is a huge influence on the band’s sound.
Listen to more from Cheops’ Cave via the band’s Soundcloud page. The band has just completed a new video for another standout track from the album, the irresistibly catchy single, “Grey End.” It’s probably the most memorable song on the album, and just sounds like a hit. We will be featuring the video itself soon.
“The song itself is about escaping your regular day life and finding your ‘grey end,'” Lundow says. “The term, ‘grey end’ is supposed to symbolize a distant place where everyone is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. It is also a state of mind that can help you reach out from your boring day to day life and make you desire something more out of it – something not really safe and structured.”
The band members, in addition to Ludlow, are August Rauer (vocals); August Olsson (guitarist); Sebastian Wihlborg (guitarist) and Marcus Brixne (drummer).
*Note: Will be featuring more Best Indie Debuts of 2016 later this week.
The Modern Savages – Unfazed
Perhaps one of the quietest great DIY EPs of 2016 so far has been Alaskan band The Modern Savages’ riveting alt. rock Unfazed. It’s risky, energetic, deep and overall one of the best DIY alt. rock EPs of 2016. We can only wonder what the response would be if the band was hitting the clubs in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco or LA for a year – very likely, they’d become a hot new band on the scene. And as this fourth release proves, they are not only talented, but they are very tight, musically and otherwise, as a band, and they’ve got their sound down.
The exceptional guitar playing on the EP from John Cripps and Matt Eley is one of the hallmarks of the band’s success – Cripps’ and Eley’s alt. and indie rock, with post-punk influences, playing styles are many things – hard, raw, complex, crunchy, haunting, and other times, shimmering, floating, ascending as they do so beautifully on the title track, featuring frontwoman Jenni May’s gorgeous vocal abilities, and the perfect timing of bassist Ivan Molesky and drummer David Devlin. The more you listen to the EP, the more you realize just how hard these musicians have worked to create a solid band, and how serious they are about making rock and roll that stands out.
Other tracks like the irresistibly captivating, funky and sultry, “More,” show again how adept the entire band is as a unit – May’s vocals are once again at another range, and once again electrifying. Unfazed is an EP that pays homage – the Alaskan way! – to the bedrock of the alternative/garage rock (“Animal Sounds”) movement, while also having the imagination, creativity and flexibility to create songs that are funky slow rockers (“Comet” sounds a bit like Gwen Stefani); ska-pop elements (“Go”); straight up indie pop, complete with catchy choruses (“Surrender”) and driving guitar post-punk and 80’s-influenced synth and blazing guitar rock (the seductive, “Rage City” and “June Bride”); other times, heavily melodic pop rock with layers and multiples of guitar and synth chord changes running throughout the album.
Unfazed is a perfect listen for indie rock purists who are loyal to truly talented alternative and indie rock artists and bands who are simply damn good, especially at a time when ‘indie rock’ itself has become more mainstream.
Someone needs to get these guys to come to the mainland and totally go for it. Naturally, things are picking up for the band, including landing praised performance slots at regional and state music festivals. Now it’s time to throttle forward to the mainland. The band is currently recording their fourth album.
Via Soundcloud: “More” – The Modern Savage from Unfazed
Empire of Gold – Jack & Cocaine
A little over a month ago we featured the new music video for Empire of Gold’s single, “Intoxicated” from the recently released album, Crass. He’s just released the second single from the album, “Jack & Cocaine.”
Chicago musician Michael Jack Dole is the entire band and production team; otherwise known as the proverbial one-man band – behind Empire of Gold. He is also a huge fan of grunge and alternative rock.
Dole is also a man who doesn’t give a shit whether people like his music or not. As he contends, he’s a DIY musician who works a blue collar job by day. He refuses to change anything or to bow to anyone. His lo-fi, distorted punk-inspired garage rock sound is not something he does to satisfy the industry’s predetermined, cutter-cookie, over produced format that record execs and radio program directors want to proliferate.
“I will gladly wither away for the rest of my life in the warehouses I work instead of seeing my music be over-produced,” he says defiantly, without self-righteous indignation.
He gets a bit testy when it comes to this particular topic. Dole is not a fan of the endless refinements that go into modern popular music, where the line between human and tech/computer talent and skill sets is very blurry indeed these days.
“Fuck that cookie-cutter, overly produced and refined crap on the radio pumped with computerized samples of other peoples’ music, programmed beats, auto-tune and fake instruments.”
“When people listen to this album,” he says forcefully, “ I’d rather they hear the passion, rage and hard work of ONE man’s efforts, instead of critiquing or caring about the overall production value because it’s supposed to be raw and unrefined.”
As a tenaciously fierce DIY warrior and bedroom artist, Dole does not have and does not want access to a studio or a producer. Instead, he is self-trained on guitar, bass and a Mac mini with Logic Pro, a pre-amp, and some plugins.
“I don’t care about having a band,” he says. “Right now what matters to me is to keep improving my sound and production skills while retaining the edgy, unrefined sound I love so much.”
For the new album, Crass (named for “the sound I adore”), Dole is resolute in his stance of remaining true to his work, avoiding, at all costs, any noticeable sense of fine-tuning.
Songs like the standout, Nirvana-inspired, “Intoxicated,” and the tragic, blazing guitar and bass of, “Jack & Cocaine,” his newest single, as well as the sluggish, edgy, “No Sleep,” the 90’s alt-driven “Beautiful Mistake,” and the punk/garage rocker jam, “Dumb,” among others. The album, in total, has a blazing, buzzing, raw and angry sound.
“I like when people call my lyrics and my sound brash and crass,” he says, “hence the album name. I love my guitars *loud* like sludge metal, which is the biggest reason for the drums and bass being lower. I have always been driven by guitars more than anything. When I was a kid, I didn’t listen to lyrics, drums or bass. I was all about the vocal melody and riffs. I faded out the rest.”
His cover of Nirvana’s “Sappy,” he says, is a track he is ‘very proud’ of, adding, “I made it unique and it would be so humbling if, even in a small way, some Nirvana fans felt it was a good homage to the band, since I realize that it is a really high bar, and not one that many musicians aim for in fear of being ridiculed.“
Last summer, in June of 2015, Empire of Gold’s debut EP, Raw, was released. Crass is his new debut LP album.
La Historia – Low Mimetic
The member of La Historia, an indie rock band from Rockford, Illinois, are (formerly of bands like Gods Reflex and The Braves), dropped their debut LP, Low Minetic, earlier this year, featuring standout tracks like the heavily melodic, “Please Do” and the more upbeat, poignant track, “Fall Right Through,” among others.
The album was produced by Mike Hagler (Wilco, Mekons, Neko Case) in Chicago at Kingsize Soundlabs. Band members are Kevin Schwitters (guitar, vocals); Jesse Carmona (drums, vocals); Phil Goudreau (guitar) and Luke Kramer (bass, vocals).
La Historia has toured the midwest opening for bands like Textbook, Joie de Vivre, Warren Franklin FFs, The Bollweevils, Les Jupes, with musical influences ranging from Jawbox and Superchunk, to the Replacements, and Bloom.
Via Soundcloud: “Please Do” – La Historia fom Low Minetic