Kurt Deemer Band – Baltimore, Maryland
Rocky Bottom – Nashville, Tennessee
Kumode – Jersey City, New Jersey
The Occasional Angels – Ottawa, Ontario
Off World – Boston, Massachusetts
M. Jean M. – Houston, Texas
Kurt Deemer Band – Gaslight
In October, Baltimore indie pop/rockers the Kurt Deemer Band dropped the enthralling debut album, Gaslight, featuring the unforgettable single, “Fire Escape,” a rich and nearly timeless track that highlights the apt songwriting skills of Deemer himself, a veteran songwriter, vocalist and guitarist with two decades under his belt.
The many years of writing and performing have given Deemer an adept perspective on life and honed his songwriting, which is brought to life with the help of his talented band members, including John Christensen (guitar); Kris Maher (bass); Steve Rose (drums), and Ben Alexandre (keyboards). And while the band’s sound may be a throwback to yesteryear, it manages to feel anchored in the present. Other songs like “Burning Man” and “Heaven Sent” are also standout tracks on the album.
The band has opened for artists like Harper and Midwest Kind, June Star, and Andy Bopp, and are heavily influenced by Tom Petty, The Counting Crows and The Replacements.
MP3: “Fire Escape“ – Kurt Deemer Band from Gaslight
Rocky Bottom – American Man
Nowadays, the traditional music of the south has been taking on more aspects of styles and sounds from other genres than ever before in the indie and alternative arenas, and include folk, Americana, country, blues, soul and rock.
There are few breeding grounds for these converging arts more active today than the fine ole music city of Nashville. One such increasingly popular singer-songwriter and musician is Alex Hernandez, better known for his stage moniker, Rocky Bottom.
His most recent release, American Man, is an album chock full of the South’s new indie genres mixing, where musicians are more free than ever to mix more than one genre together at a time, resulting in standout patriotic, rhythm-swinging singles like the title track.
MP3: “Junkyad Blues“ – Rocky Bottom from American Man
The lyrics and stories behind his music appeal to the every day folks with themes of love, loss, work and pride running through the core of songs like the melodically folky bluegrass, “Junkyard Blues,” the ballad-rich, “Three Legged Dog,” and the optimistic, uplifting acoustically wonderful, “Two Leaves”.
It may be surprising to some that Hernandez was formerly a punk rocker in two bands (No Glory and Bad Town) in New Jersey before relocating to Nashville in 2013. But listening to the EP closely, the astute music listener can hear the attitude and forward-driving gusto that punk demands.
As far as punk to roots…I was in a band called No Glory (ska/punk) then Bad Town (roots/punk) where I wrote and sang/playedguitar (both almost impossible to find on the internet) I was 17-18 and had just been really opened up to Bob Dylan.
“I was also feeling trapped by the sound punk bands are limited too,” Hernandez says. “That’s when the whole dynamic of how I wrote songs changed. Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Johnny Cash’s American Recordings played a big roll in that shift I think.”
Kumode – Less Commotion
Lativan freelance filmmaker, Kristaps Locmelis, began writing and recording music “as a way of keeping myself grounded,” he told IRC, as well as a “way of simply channeling musical instincts and ideas.” Back in Latvia, before moving to the U.S. in 2007, Locmelis played guitar in various rock bands, learning a great deal about music along the way.
The Jersey City Latvian-born artist uses the moniker Kumode for his DIY recordings, including his most recent EP, Less Commotion, which wonderfully blends genres including indie pop, electronic and experimental sounds and techniques on terrific songs like the title track. The EP was released on Dec. 28th.
Locmelis’ biggest musical influences include artists like Syrinx, Dungen, Connan Mockasin, and Ty Dolla $ign, among others, and can be heard in different ways throughout the album’s tracks.
MP3: “Less Commotion“ – Kumode from Less Commotion
The Occasional Angels – Renascimento
Last summer, an Ottawa-based trio of friends and musicians, who refer to themselves as The Occasional Angels, formed as a trio and immediately began writing and recording their debut album into the autumn of 2016.
After weeks of hard work, the trio, featuring guitarist and song-writer David Hart, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Scott Paterson and vocalist Cris Ruggiero, emerged with a 10-track album, Renascimento.
Last fall, the band dropped the album on Hart’s indie label, Occasional Angels’ Records. Not long after, the tantalizing lead single, “Heaven in Denim” went to No. 1 on the playlist of London radio station 92.6 FM, and had a strong showing on the parent LA station, The Blitz. The terrifically enjoyable album blends a wide range of musical influences like rock, pop, R&B, folk, country, and funk.
MP3: “Heaven in Denim“ – The Occasional Angels from Renascimento
Off World – Grey Dawn
Right out of the gates, Boston‘s hard rock DIY band Off World slay dragons with fast, blazing guitars, booming bass, thunderous drums and the high octane vocals of front woman Rain on the scorching single, “Save The Humans,” from the band’s six-track apocalyptic debut EP, Grey Dawn.
While the single is not indicative of the rest of the EP – which ranges in genres from space rock and psych rock to arena guitar rock and alternative rock – it is probably the strongest track on the EP with the brute punch of a hurricane-force wind. Two other standout tracks include the dark, “The End is Near” and the desperate urgency of “Drawing Down.”
MP3: “Save the Humans“ – Off World from Grey Dawn
Fans of the Queens of the Stone Age and Muse are the most likely to be Off World followers. However, the band’s music is genre-bending enough that we can also hear its other influences, including The Flaming Lips and Killing Joke. The opening track on the album is an experimental space/psych rock composition that has elements of concept rock.
The other members of the band include drummer David Silver; guitarist Kreg Adams; bassist Darren Lourie; synth and organ player Jeremy Flower, and bass and slide guitar Jon Evans. Since forming in 2016, Off World has opened for bands like Gaskill, Oxblood Forge, Birnam Wood, Arctic Horror, and Sacred Mounds.
Listen to more of Grey Dawn on Bandcamp
M. Jean M. – Meezus
Born in Redondo Beach, California, relocated to Daytona Beach while attending university, and a newly transplanted Houston resident, rap artist M. Jean M.‘s hip-hop tracks – like “La Barrage,” and “State of Union, Part I” – have helped her become increasingly known in the Houston hip-hop/rap scenes.
JMJ is an “underground phenomenon” according to her publicist, and has been writing songs since she was seven years old, and in recent years has learned to write and produce all of her own music DIY-style as exemplified on her latest release, Meezus, which features a collaboration with A&R Records own BGEMINI. The ‘mixtape’ was recorded at 360 Recording Studios in Houston.
M. Jean M. released her debut album Live Through Me in 2014 and re-released it the following year digitally. She wrote and produced all of the tracks on her latest release, herself, which collectively received thousands of plays on Soundcloud and other platforms. Her influences includes Lauryn Hill, Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar.