Best Indie Rock DIY Debuts of 2016, Vol. I – Buttness, Small Culture, Them Coulee Boys, Marvelous Mint, Nervouschain

It’s amazing how quickly everyone gets back to the day-to-day right after the end of the winter holidays. And especially this year – many people want to forget 2016, and some are terrified of what’s to come. But let’s not let go of the past year of our lives too quickly.

There are still some 2016 releases you need to hear, including this batch of fine debuts from a range of indie rock, folk, pop, and other genre and mixed-genre DIY artists and bands from across the United States, and Down Under.

In This Installment:

Buttness – Shymkent, Kazakhistan
Small Culture – San Diego, California
Marvelous Mint – Bellingham, Washington
Them Coulee Boys – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Nervouschain – Sydney, Australia

Don’t miss great songs and bands in series like the Best New DIY/Indie Releases of 2016; In Dee Mail; Fresh Tracks; Bands That Rock, and make sure to follow us on RSS; Facebook; Twitter and Instagram.

Check out IRC’s mega playlists on Spotify – like the ambitious, ever-evolving Best Fking Songs Ever or the gritty and odd playlist titled, Soundtracks for Films Quentin Tarrantino Will Never Make and Around The World – awesome indie/alt. rock songs about places on the world map.

Buttness – All Holes Are Black

At little moments on Kazakhistan indie rock band Buttness‘ single, “All Holes Are Black,” the title track of the band’s wonderful debut album, die-hard fans of The Cure will hear the undeniable influences of the Cure. But at the same time, and moreover, the song is totally unique, and alluring, as are many of Buttness’ songs.

All Holes Are Black is brimming with ringing pop rock guitars, grooving bass lines and perhaps more melodic hooks than we’ve heard from a DIY band in all of 2016.

Born in the city of Shymkent in 2010, the duo is made up of vocalist and guitarist Yeldos Zarpullayev and bassist Yerlan Akhmetov, both big fans of Radiohead and The Cure, which is evident on the superb, under-the-radar debut album released last summer.

Out of the gate is the slow-burning draw of the wonderfully strange lo-fi title track, highlighting Zarpullayev’s endearingly odd, and completely different, vocal styles, as well as deep melodic guitar hooks backed by Akhmetov’s terrific bass playing, and drum work from session drummers Ian Cronan and Calum Sneddon.

The next track the band wished to highlight from the melodic guitar-heavy 12-song release is the nicely inspiring, warm spring day-like instrumental, “You Are Fire,” complete with more heavy melodies and deep, brooding percussion. Other guitar-dominant instrumentals include the lazy “Flight”.

Other take-away tracks from the album include the airy guitars and upbeat grooves of “Let Me Join In Your Art”; the meandering guitars of “I Love Film”; the irresistible pop rock jamming of “So I Love You Heavens Now,” which turns out to be one track from the album that doesn’t sound like the rest in as far as Zarpullayev’s vocals.

Bonus Track: “You Are Fire”Buttness from All Holes Are Black

From track to track, the album is enjoyable in a totally alt. way. There are tracks like the semi sing-along standout track, “Tonight,” featuring more heavy power pop chords. The same is true on tracks like the playful “My Shadow,” featuring guitar hooks that remind us of The Byrds. Others like “Apparent Time To Shine,” shines through with its undeniably upbeat allure.

This album proves that these guys really love melodies with bright, 60s-influenced guitars and Zarpullayev’s memorable and endearing, vocal styles. The duo’s hometown, Shymkent, was known as Chimkent until 1993 when Kazakhistan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union. This must-hear album was recorded at The Green Door Studio in Glasgow.

Buttness on Soundcloud

Small Culture – Small Culture

Earlier this year, we featured some of the fresh music of San Diego-via-Hawai’i bedroom musician and one-man band Jerik Centeno, aka, Small Culture. In the past year, he has been making a name for himself in the San Diego indie scene thanks to his increasing number of gigs and new tracks like the joyous, party song, “It’s Too Late,” complete with horns and piano and the electronic dance-influenced “Apartime.”

MP3: “Apartime“Small Culture from Small Culture

According to Centeno, “Small Culture is a kaleidoscope pop rock band from San Diego California.” Centeo played all of the instruments – guitars, bass, synths, keyboards and drums – and mixed and produced Small Culture’s self-titled debut EP, dropped this past summer.

The SM moniker is used to describe the intimate culture of his home state of Hawai’i. Small Culture was formed as a result of a project started by his college classmate, Jose Escoto, who offered to mix some of Centeno’s songs.

Bonus Track: “Too Late“Small Culture from Small Culture

Small Culture on Facebook


Them Coulee Boys – Dancing In The Dim Light

Founded at a Bible camp, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin band Them Coulee Boys wonderfully craft a brand of Americana that blends bluegrass, folk, rock and roll, and even pop; mixing guitars, banjos, mandolins, and even a kick drum. The lead vocals of Soren Staff (guitar, piano) are some of the finest folksy lead vocals we’ve heard from a new DIY band this year.

Songs from Them Coulee Boys’ album, Dancing In The Dim Light, include the down-home folk and Americana heavy single, “I Won‘t Be Defined,” which shows off Staff’s remarkable vocals.

Other tracks, like “Mask,” completely switch things up. The first half of the song is a boozy, folksy spaghetti-western influenced track featuring Staff’s emotive vocals, and a stellar, and rocking, guitar, and banjo jam, from Beau Janke, along with Jens Staff on mandolin and Michael Aschbacher on bass and kick drum – good ‘ole story-telling and organic music from the salt of the earth.

According to Staff, “we seek to start a dialogue with their show. The songs are reflections duality of life.”

In addition to Staff, the band members include Beau Janke (banjo, piano, harmonica, vocals); Jens Staff, (mandolin, vocals), and Michael Aschbacher on bass and kick drum.

The band has opened for artists like Pert Near Sandstone, Dead Man Winter, and Charlie Parr, and consider their major musical influences to include Neil Young, The Avett Brothers, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Flaming Lips, and Dawes.

MP3: “I Won‘t Be Defined“Them Coulee Boys from Dancing In The Dim Light

Them Coulee Boys official website


Marvelous Mint – Behind The Times

Ranging from stripped-down guitar ballads to dense baroque electronic rock, Marvelous Mint features the writing and performances of Bellingham, Washington musician Willie Womack.

The idea for his one-man band and its colorful instrumentation and introspective lyrics came from, he says, “playing retro games with limited yet vibrant color palettes.”

MM’s sound is ever-shifting, yet at the heart of the songs remains the ‘signature style’ that Womack hopes to become better known for. Clearly his dreamy notes and beats on the unforgettable DIY single, “Your New Lifestyle,” are a direct and indirect results of Womack’s musical influences that include artists like Elliott Smith, Shiina Ringo, Tokyo Jihen, and Yasunori Mitsuda.

MP3: “Your New Lifestyle“Marvelous Mint from Behind The Times.

The single, and some of his other tracks, like the enthralling, “When You See Me Next,” coincidentally or not, remind us a lot of the indie acoustic pop band Matt Pond PA, who are one of our long-time favorite indie bands, and who appear in many of our playlists published during the past eight years.

Both tracks are from the debut LP, Behind The Times. Womack writes and records all of his own songs using guitar, keyboards, drums, bass and vocals.

Marvelous Mint on Facebook


Nervouschain – Weekdays

Musician, guitarist, keyboardist and electronic music enthusiast alike, Oleg Chernykh, who uses the moniker Nervouschain hails out of Sydney, Australia.

When not working his “rat race job,” as he says, he spends his time in his studio apartment creating electronic-heavy tracks that traverse sonic landscapes mostly in the realm of deephouse, house and chill.

MP3: “Friday”Nervouschain from Weekdays

The everyday work world is the focus of his debut EP, Weekdays; Chernykh’s five-track release features a different track for each work day of the week, with track titles predictably ranging from “Monday,” the opening frenetic track, through to “Friday,” the final, ready-to-party closer.

There are some really sweet grooves and grinds that are inspiring and well produced for NC’s first outing.

Bandcamp: Listen to more on NC’s Bandcamp page

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