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Best New 2017 Indie Rock Releases, Vol. I – Cloud Nothings, The xx, Japandroids, Half Japanese, Foxygen, Brian Eno, The Flaming Lips, Ty Segall
Like many Januarys before, but perhaps more than most, big time releases from the indie/alt. rock worlds came pouring in at the end of the month; so many that we couldn’t possibly write about all of them.
Our best indie rock releases, with accessible singles from each, for January include must-have, ground-breaking and notable EP and LP releases by Cloud Nothings; The xx; Half Japanese; Japandroids; The Flaming Lips; Ty Segall; Brian Eno; Bonobo; Foxygen; William Basinski; The Molochs, and The Proper Ornaments, among others.
Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
One of the most anticipated new albums of 2017, Ohio indie rock band Cloud Nothings deliver again in a big way with the drop of the band’s fourth full-length release, Life Without Sound.
The album is a blast from start to finish, full of upbeat and blazing songs all of the way through; we love the cheery, excited, fuzzy, lo-fi guitar riffs and impossibly seductive hooks, accompanied on sing-a-long choruses, backed by booming drums and crashing cymbals, and more bright guitars on songs like the riveting opener, “Up To The Surface,” the big and excited melodies “Modern Act,” and the irresistible power pop radio hit “Sight Unseen.”
The seven and eight-minute noise jams of yesteryear’s Cloud Nothings has been replaced by more, shall we say, radio-friendly (alternative radio) songs that are more neatly packaged and disciplined. The results are remarkable.
Other standout tracks (we love almost all of them!) include the Cheap Trick-like, potential summer anthem, “Things Are Right With You,” the punk/power pop drive of “Internal World” and the Nirvana-like urgency and fuzz guitars on “Darkened Rings,” and the slow burn to full throttle of “No Known Drink or Drug,” among many others.
Cloud Nothings’ new album shows a band that is earnest and maturing; they are more confident and focused on what they want and where they want to go than ever before on Life Without Sound – it’s triumphant, clever, surprising, unassuming and a fucking blast from start to finish; long live rock and roll!
Album Stream: Listen to Life Without Sound via Bancamp
The xx – I See You
Of course one of the most anticipated releases of this past January, The xx‘s first album in four years, the stunning I See You, is also one of the best of the year, and it doesn’t matter that it’s “so early to say that.” Trust us – by the end of the year, it’ll be one of the top albums of the year, regardless if a waterfall of epic new albums are dropped in the next ten months.
This time around the band emerges with a more nuanced and upbeat sounds on songs like the unforgettable “Say Something Loving” and the kaleidoscope sonics of the genre-bending, “On Hold,” while stripped down tracks like “Performance” and “Brave For You” sound like classic xx songs of yesteryear.
The perfection with which they craft amazing songs without minimal instrumentation and the exceptional, wonderfully paired vocals of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft, on top of poignant and intimate lyrics.
I See You may just be The xx’s best album since the London trio’s groundbreaking self-titled debut. It’s more indisputable evidence to reaffirm the band’s top tier status worldwide in the indie music world. The wait for I See You was well worth it. On repeat.
MP3: “Say Something Loving” – The xx from I See You
Album Stream: Listen to I See You on Spotify
The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody
The Flaming Lips’ new album, Oczy Mlody, is more nuanced, progressive and experimental than perhaps any of the previous 14 Lips’ releases. It’s also refreshingly eclectic with strata of hip-hop, orchestral pop and prog rock interlaced throughout the album.
Flourishes of strings, harp, and woodwinds abound on “Galaxy I Sink” and dashed hopes of a world brimming with love on “Almost Home.” And then there is the unsettling and apocalyptic, “There Should Be Unicorns,” with the humming of ominous machines, while the beguiling melodies of “The Castle” and “Sunrise,” add some much needed levity. The title of the album is not gibberish – it is in fact Polish for “the eyes of the young,” although the album itself is anything but innocent and new.
Album Stream: Listen to Oczy Mlody on Spotify
Half Japanese – Hear The Lions Roar
While they may not have the name-recognition of The Sex Pistols or the commercial success of The Clash, the musical bro duo of Jad (the main player recently) and David Fair – better known as Half Japanese – are punk legends. But they are not just punk, or garage rock, royalty, they pioneered the lo-fi and and DIY movements like almost none before them, and have influenced everyone from Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth to Neutral Milk Hotel and Daniel Johnston.
Now with their 16th album, Hear The Lions Roar, dropped last month, the brothers – with predominance, per usual, by Jad – (and the latest bunch of contributors) have once again reaffirmed their high status, and solidified reign of their domain with tracks like “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “It’s Our Time.”
Album Stream: Listen to Hear The Lions Roar on Spotify
Foxygen – Hang
The alternative rock/pop band Foxygen, headed by musical duo San France and Jonathan Rado, dropped their fifth studio full-length release, Hang, in January to wide praise from the music press and fans.
A full symphony orchestra – reminiscent of the bombastic orchestral style of Queen – was assembled for the recording session conducted by Trey Pollard and with contributions from Matthew E. White, Steve Drozd (The Flaming Lips) and The Lemon Twigs.
The compositions are sparkling, grandiose, even over-the-top, pure pop pastiche entertainment. Standout tracks include the lavish “Avalon;” the show biz-like pomp, Tin Pan Alley and jazz-infused transitions of “America;” the pop-crazed “Mrs. Adams,” and the title track, among others. Hang, which may prove in time to be a pop masterpiece, is Foxygen’s most bombastic, eclectic, decadent and must-have release yet.
Album Stream: Listen to Hang on Spotify
Ty Segall – Ty Segall
One of our favorite San Francisco garage rock bands, Ty Segall, has dropped yet another self-titled album (this time distinguished from the first self-titled album drop in 2008 by simply being subtitled 2017) with this one having been recorded live in the studio with past collaborators like Ben Boye, Mikal Cronin, Emmett Kelly, and Charles Moothart.
Those that love Segall’s garage rock talents, that’s here, but unlike his last album, there is more melody and bliss expressed, but there is still plenty of chaos and grit.
We like how reviewer Zoe Camp summed up Segall’s second self-titled album: “Ty Segall’s resultant din sounds streamlined, a conscious callback to the tightly-controlled chaos found on the Kinks and T. Rex records he devoured as a Laguna Beach youngster, all adenoidal harmonies and glam breakdowns.”
It may also prove, in time, to be one of his best overall projects yet. Standout tracks include “Thank You Mr. K,” “Freedom,” “Warm Hands,” and “Orange Color Queen.” Shine on you crazy diamond.
Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the third full-length release from one of our favorite Canadian noise rock duos, Japandroids, with songwriting, recording and production skills of the intrepid Brian King and David Prowse.
The album, produced by Jesse Gander (who produced their previous two albums), is overflowing with loud, wild noise; fittingly earnest and melodic guitar hooks accompanied by towering riffs; passionate, evocative vocals and thunderous, aggressive drumming and apolitical lyrical content – the formula Japandroids’ fans have come to expect.
Fans are already celebrating the duo’s latest release, which may be Japandroids’ best album thanks to songs like “North East South West,” “Arc of Bar,” “I’m Sorry For Not Finding You Sooner,” and the acoustic lo-fi of “In A Body Like A Grave.”
Album Stream: Listen to Near to the Wild Heart of Life via Bandcamp
Brian Eno – Reflection
With a career as long as many veteran rockers of the 60s and 70s, ambient wizard, Brian Eno, perhaps more prolific than ever, returns with Reflection, an album of masterly engineered, simplistic, and yet intricate, ambient rock art; the entire album is, after all, simply one long 54-minute track that was recorded in one uninterrupted live take.
Simply put: Reflection is yet another masterpiece from the Father of Ambient. In his four-plus decades creating an entirely new genre that is forever linked to his namesake, and genius, Eno reigns more than ever in his very own domain, and Reflection is yet another resounding affirmation of just that.
In the CD notes, Eno writes: “It’s the music that I later called ‘Ambient.’ I don’t think I understand what that term stands for anymore – it seems to have swollen to accommodate some quite unexpected bedfellows – but I still use it to distinguish it from pieces of music that have fixed duration and rhythmically connected, locked together elements.” Sweet dude. Thank you.
Album Stream: Listen to Reflection on Spotify
William Basinski – A Shadow In Time
In a related release to Eno, New York City avant-garde/ambient artist William Basinski released his latest album, A Shadow In Time, in late January, and has received praise from critics and fans.
The album, with only two tracks over 15 minutes long, is a serene, expansive and absorbing collection of compositions that beckon the listener to start at the beginning again to soak up the experience yet again, and again. Would have been nice, though, to have a one or two more tracks; feels a little thin, but still well worth it. Blaze with headphones.
Album Stream: Listen to A Shadow In Time via Bandcamp
The Molochs – America’s Velvet Glory
Combining psych rock guitar sounds, insanely catchy hooks and Kinks-like verve, Los Angeles indie rock band The Molochs‘ debut album, America’s Velvet Glory, is more reminiscent of the post-British Invasion southern California jangle rock than modern day garage rock, on songs like “Ten Thousand,” the Byrds-esque “The One I Love,” the more traditional, “You and Me,” and the tongue-in-cheek, “Charlie’s Lips,” where vocalist Lucas Fitzsimons sings from the POV of a Charlie Manson follower sitting on an old Vox amp with an analog clock and manual typewriter. The Molochs recently completed a January residency at LA’s famous Echo.
Album Stream: Listen to America’s Velvet Glory on Spotify
The Proper Ornaments – Foxhole
Foxhole is the second full length release from the rising London indie rock band, The Proper Ornaments, led by James Hoare and Max Oscarnol. The album was recorded on an 8-track for quality.
It’s an album of reflective, mellow, and exploratory guitar-dominant songs like the irresistible slow burn hooks of the pop-rock track, “Memories.” At times, you’ll swear you hear the whispery voice of Elliott Smith sneaking in between the notes.
Album Stream: Listen to Foxhole via Bandcamp
Bonobo – Migration
Los Angeles-based British electronic artist Bonobo (aka, Simon Green) has done it again with his latest album, Migration, featuring brooding, pensive and expansive tracks like the title track and the haunting, “Break Apart,” featuring singer Rhye.
This is perhaps one of Bonobo’s best album of his 15-year career. It may also be a groundbreaking electronic album of 2017; it’s too early in the year to make that determination.
Album Stream: Listen to Migration on Bandcamp
Quick Picks – Worthy Listens
“Tycho” – Epoch from Tycho
“Contact” – Mick Harvey from Intoxicated Woman
“Dean’s Room” – Allison Crutchfield from Tourist in This Town
Recent Releases We Almost Missed, Vol. XXIII – Kurt Deemer Band, Rocky Bottom, Kumode, The Occasional Angels, Off World & M. Jean M.
It’s been a while since we’ve done an installment of the series Recent Releases We Almost Missed. This post appropriately fits in that category because we still have songs and albums from new DIY artists and bands from 2016 to share.
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.
Fresh Indie Rock Tracks from Teleskopes, The Penthouse, Gabriel Lynch Band, Pete Lord, Lovelast, Blisss
The latest fresh indie rock songs and releases that we are digging right now including standout tracks from the rising Los Angeles trio Teleskopes, plus one of Boston’s hot new indie rock bands, The Penthouse, and more amazing DIY and indie tracks from the west coast, east coast, the Heartland and overseas.
Teleskopes – Los Angeles, California
The Penthouse – Boston, Massachusetts
Gabriel Lynch Band – Melbourne, Australia
Pete Lord – Chicago, Illinois
Lovelast – San Francisco, California
Blisss – London, England
Teleskopes – “Lazers”
The Los Angeles based alt. rock/shoegaze trio Teleskopes have just dropped the hard-hitting, blazing new ‘space rock’ single, “Lazers,” which, besides being an ass-kicker from start to finish, is at the same time a meticulously arranged, rehearsed and recorded composition that puts Teleskopes into the category of new DIY bands to watch in LA.
The beginnings of the band’s two premiere singles dates back to 2014 when members Fox Fagan (bass, vocals), Pelle Hillstrom (guitar) and Jesper Kristensen (drums) cut the tracks at Dave Grohl’s (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) Northridge Studio 606.
“Because we had played that song so many times live in LA clubs,” says Fagan, “when it came time to record at Studio 606, we did it in three takes…[and] used a lot of the guitars and atmospherics from my bedroom demo sessions.”
Fox and his band fellow band members next handed over their tapes for “Lazers” to famed music producer Joe Chiccarelli (White Stripes, Spoon, Jeff The Brotherhood, Morrissey) who put his final magical touches on the tracks to give the band the sound that they were gunning for.
Mix master Maxime Le Guil, who worked with Nigel Godrich on Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool,” and Ken Sluiter, assisted with mixing.
The band’s newest single was proceeded by the psych alt. rock, grandiose sound of the searing debut single, “Criminal,” dropped officially on Oct. 26th.
The members of Teleskopes have some serious mojo going on with an upcoming show (Dec. 9th) at the famous Viper Room in Hollywood and a couple of hot alt. rock singles under their belts. If you’re in the wood, check them out.
Via Soundcloud: Listen to the brand newfor “Lazers”
The Penthouse – “Another Day”
The world-renowned Berklee College of Music has spawned many artists and bands over the years – way more than probably anyone has ever been able to count.
They include Grammy-winning artists like John Mayer, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Ben McKee (Imagine Dragons), among many others. And there are countless other artists and bands who have graduated from Berkelee.
The relatively newly spawned indie rock band, The Penthouse, are current Berkelee students. The band has recently been playing gigs in notable venues like Pianos in New York City (Dec. 9th) and receiving more attention from live music goers and the press.
The band’s funky, tropical indie pop track, “Another Day,” with its intricate instrumentation at points, reminded us a lot at first of Ra Ra Riot mixed with The 1975. We really love when the song goes into the instrumentation and just wish that the jhammin’ part of the track lasted longer.
Frontman Patrick Minogue says the band’s overall sound combines “skinny jean, iconoclastic, gritty, white-boy funk influenced by bands like Two Door Cinema Club, Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, and Cage the Elephant.”
Minogue says the songs are “a visceral fashion of love, life, and the pursuit of happiness. Basically we want to make you dance and feel some type of way.”
In addition to Minogue, the band members include Eric Derwallis, Kyle Raney, Jacob Arias, and Jesse Mason with musical backgrounds that include blues, classical, rock, pop, indie rock and funk.
Gabriel Lynch Band – “Language of the Affair”
The Melbourne recording artist, Gabriel Lynch, who has built a following of loyal fans over the years, is back with a new emotive single, “Language of the Affair,” featuring fellow Australian vocalist Jennifer Lackgren.
The song highlights Lackgren’s emotive, soft vocal style, along with Lynch’s heartfelt and honest songwriting style. The B-side of the new single, “Drink Your Love Away,” is a nice little bonus.
Lynch’s biggest musical influences include Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Snowy Belfast, Saskwatch, Svavar Knutur, Megan Washington, Fleet Foxes, and Rage Against the Machine. Lynch is currently living and performing in Kuala Lumpur.
Via Soundcloud: Listen to more tracks from Gabriel Lynch Band
Pete Lord – “I’ll Be There”
Pete Lord is a Chicago songwriter, keyboardist, and vocalist with a voice that recalls the styles of traditional pop rock singers he emulates, including Marvin Gaye, Steve Perry, and Michael Bolton.
As evident on his chart-making new single, “I’ll Be There,” the golden days – when pop rock singers were superstars and didn’t use auto tune – seem to somehow be channeling Lord, who compliments the genre additionally by writing, singing and performing for more than a decade. The track is from Lord’s new sophomore album, Keep The Faith.
“The album means a lot to me,” he says. “I wrote many of these songs about relationships and about life and just how short it is. This album really came from my heart.”
Over the years, Lord concentrated on perfecting his vocal style and performing in venues throughout the Chicago metro area, building a local following before the surge of social media where ‘followers’ are what exactly? No one is really sure. Lord enjoys human interaction in person, seeing and singing to the audience and talking to them before and after sets.
Growing up in the Windy City suburb of Elmwood Park, Illinois, Lord began taking vocal lessons at a young age as his passion for singing and rock music grew. In fact, Lord was chosen by the popular Chicago band Paradise to be the band’s leader singer.
His debut solo album, The Only One, was a favorite among the adult contemporary radio market. In addition to the vocalists who influenced him the most, some of Lord’s favorite bands include Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Foreigner and Little River Band.
Lovelast – “Run”
Last year, we featured the music of San Francisco inspiring recording artist Chase Jenkins, aka, Lovelast. His ethereal, emotional compositions, soaring synths, dance beats and remarkable vocals on songs like “Promises” and “San Francisco” captured the praise of IRC listeners worldwide. That post itself received over 600 Likes, with a good chunk going to Lovelast’s tracks.
Lovelast’s latest standout single, the driving, uplifting, “Run,” from the new EP, The Beauty and The Fire, swirls and soars with more synth pop elements than his debut EP.
“I knew I wanted a more keys-driven sound while re-introducing some of the edge that the first EP had,” Jenkins said.
We also featured another single from Lovelast not long after the first big post called “Halfway To You,” which turned out to garner nearly 10,000 streams on Soundcloud alone.
Jenkins musical influences include Magic Man, The Naked and Famous, Parade of Lights, and Broods.
Blisss – “Chalk Air”
Emerging earlier this year from a self-imposed retreat in a cabin in Kentish Forest to record some songs he had been working on, London multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Tom Greenwood, aka, Blisss, just dropped his self-titled EP in September.
The EP includes the catchy lo-fi track, “Chalk Air,” which he says is the culmination of his love for Britpop, gospel music, and alt., classic and psych rock, with influences ranging from Primal Scream, Jungle, Tame Impala, Mac Demacro, and Lou Reed.
The latest edition of Fresh Tracks includes new singles, albums and videos from artists and bands we’re digging are featured in the playlist below as well in their own sections of this post below.
Don’t forget to follow us, Like us and check out our playlists that we’ve worked on for years via Spotify (must listens!); via Facebook; new tracks and more via Soundcloud; announcements and other goodies via Twitter and please help us build up our Instagram by following with love Otherwise the indie-loving elves behind the scenes get cranky. Please don’t let them get cranky. 🙂
Corusco – College Station, Texas
Pacific Radio – Los Angeles, California
Joseph Eid – West Hollywood, California
Jack Kotz – Wilmington, North Carolina
Aux House – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kingsley Flood – Washington, DC
Corusco – “Twin Ghosts”
South Texas songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Aaron Gonzalez and his band, Corusco, have spent the past year recording and touring from Texas to New Hampshire, stopping in many cities along the way.
Based in College Station, Corusco started as an acoustic solo side project of Gonzalez’s in 2015. Soon after, it “accidentally grew into a full band,” Gonzalez says, bringing on Ryan Corb on guitar, Phillip Baugh on bass and Carlos Garza on drums.
The inspiration for the band’s latest single, “Twin Ghosts,” Gonzalez? says, “is the story of the weekend one of my friends passed away…he was one of the kindest, smartest guys I’d ever met. I wrote it from the perspective of his roommate and his best friend, and what I think they would have told him if they could see him again.”
It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, and together with their tantalizing August release, Don’t Give Up, puts Corusco on indie map.
“We’re a band that wants to write music that is meaningful and though a lot of the material we deal with is somber or heavy, we always want there to be that glimmer of hope through it all,” Gonzalez says.
Via Bandcamp: “Twin Ghosts” – Corusco from Don’t Give Up
Pacific Radio – “Katie”
Based in the city of Los Angeles, the indie rock quartet, Pacific Radio, deliver a sound that “ranges from rock n roll to West coast ballad,” according to band member Kyle Biane.
Pacific Radio’s new single, “Katie,” is a bright, uplifting romp, highlighted by singer Joe Robinson’s well-honed vocals and the awesome talents of his band members. The second half of the track blossoms into a full blown, infectious celebration.
But Pacific Radio (not to be confused with Pacific Radio radio) is not simply an indie band that creates musical magic in the studio. In fact, the band has been very busy performing shows and touring.
Earlier this year, the band performed four shows at South By Southwest, including for showcases Red Gorilla Fest and the Midcoast Takeover.
Via Soundcloud: “Katie” – Pacific Radio
Joseph Eid -“One and Only” – Exclusive Premiere!
Southern California musician, singer and songwriter Joseph Eid‘s engaging new video, “One and Only,” was filmed on West Hollywood‘s famed Sunset Strip, giving the smooth, alt. folk rock ballad a nice touch against the backdrop of the city in his new video for the track.
Eid says the song itself “is about finding and longing for true love in a place where instant gratification and temporary thrills are the norm,” referring to Hollywood. He adds that the song could also be interpreted as a story about a common experience adults face in life – longing for a special relationship and holding on to it while fighting the temptations of the future.
“It’s the realization and confession that the short term fulfillment of a new thrill or adventure cannot compare to the true and everlasting fulfillment of a love that goes beyond the surface,” he says.
When making the video, Eid and director William Sanford set out to convey use the night lights of the Sunset Strip to convey the emotions and sense of loneliness in the middle of one of the largest cities in the western hemisphere. Brian Soucy co-produced the single.
His influences, not surprisingly, include Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Prince and many others. Eid has been performing around the Pacific Northwest for much of the year. He is working on completing the new EP, Watch It Fall.
Jack Kotz – “Orange Neon Nectar Juice”
Last spring we featured some exciting new tracks from Wilmington, North Carolina musician and ‘one man band’ Jack Kotz‘s debut album, What’s All The Fuss About?.
Kotz has just released his followup to Fuss with his sophomore album, Neon Orange Nectar Juice. For fans of guitar rock, funk inspired beats and rhythms, and psych pop, Neon is a tour de force of high order.
Here is the tantalizing title track, followed by an electrified cover of Jack Johnson, one of Kotz’s musical influences.
Via Soundcloud – “Orange Neon Nectar Juice” – Jack Kotz from Neon Orange Nectar Juice
Via Bandcamp: “Taylor” (Jack Johnson) – Jack Kotz from Neon Orange Nectar Juice
Aux House – “Antique Radio”
Based out of Grand Rapids, the DIY alternative rock trio, Aux House, offers listeners something more than the regular fare. And yet they manage to appeal to a larger audience with their fun and eclectic brand of alternative rock.
Perhaps founder, guitarist and vocalist of Aux House, Tristan Rudolph, explains it best as a revival of the “Bowian idea of the space-alien rock star.”
The Michigan trio’s debut self titled DIY album release contains a mix of rock and pop punk angst with sci-fi elements, and alt. rock overtones, creating a larger than life sound and stories about girls, cars love and troubles, which are no better demonstrated than on the irresistible “Antique Radio” and the delightful and unusual track, “Aliens Can’t Dance.”
Rudolph said the band’s top musical influences include Sufjan Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, Pavement, Wilco, and Bright Eyes. There’s a nicely suited eclecticism about that selection of artists and bands.
Kingsley Flood – “To The Wolves”
The Washington DC band Kingsley Flood, sports a gritty, and yet at times, sassy, sound on their new music video for the edgy track, “To The Wolves,” from the new album, Another Other.
The band was founded by Palestinian-American born singer and songwriter Naseem Khuri in 2009, and has won praise for his work from the press, including NPR, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Paste and American Songwriter.
The band has toured nationally, opening for artists like Grace Potter, Lucius, Langhorne Slim, Angus and Julia Stone, and Brett Dennen. They were also invited to perform at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival.
Khuri tackles a number of issues in his music, including the lingering – stoked by presidential candidate Trump – bias against Arab born Americans, who he says, don’t deserve to be treated as “one” – Khuri reminds people that the vast majority of Arabs, or Muslims, are peace-loving, law abiding hard-working members of society.
“At the end of the day, I’m American,” he asserts. “The only Arabic words I know are foods and swears. It’s just that more jarring to somehow always be labeled ‘an other’ when you don’t even see yourself that way.”
Via YouTube: “To The Wolves” – Kingsley Flood from Another Other
Best New DIY & Indie Rock Music of 2016, Vol. III – Maps of Suburbia, Cheops’ Cave, Empire of Gold, The Modern Savage, La Historia
This is the third installment of Best New Indie and DIY Rock music of 2016, with installment IV already in the works. This time around, we have an incredibly talented, emotive band from New York City; a rising new indie rock DIY band from Sweden; more from LA alt. rocker Michael Dole; sultry alt. rock from Alaska, and an exciting coming up indie folk rock band from Illinois (or as Sufjan Stevens so popularized with the song, “Illinoise”). (The bands are not featured in any particular order.)
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
Best New Releases 2016, Vol. I – The 1975, SVIIB, Yuck, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective, Coastgaard, Her Magic Wand, Golden Daze
Two months have already been burned out for 2016. As is true with most years, the new album releases were slow to a trickle up until the past few weeks. Since, they’ve been coming out in rapid fire succession. So much so that it’s been really hard to keep up. But here are our picks for best new releases from signed indie artists and bands.
Best New Releases for Week of Feb. 29th with The 1975, Yuck, SVIIB, etc.
The 1975 have worked their way from piss-flooded dive bars to major venues in a few short years, and as the interestingly, and long-winded, title of their new album hints, there are stories of love to be told, integrated with groovy indie/alt. rock tracks like the irresistible “Love Me.”
“Love Me” – The 1975 from I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
Yuck – Stranger Things
We loved Georgia’s noise pop band Yuck from the first time we heard them. The band’s third album, Hum, is a return to form that their sophomore album lacked – with the crazy energy and strong songwriting of Yuck’s debut, as evident on songs like “Hearts In Motion.”
“Hearts In Motion” – Yuck from Stranger Things
School of Seven Bells – SVIIB
Amazing sounds fill SVIIB, the fourth, and alas, last, album from School of Seven Bells, following the 2013 death of Benjamin Curtis from cancer. It’s definitely an epic send-off from the popular dream pop duo. Interestingly, it’s a self-titled release. Under the circumstances, that seems fitting.
“Open Your Eyes” – School of Seven Bells from SVIIB
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive
DC suburban band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down return with a new album, A Man Alive, that explores various genre mixing and issues of abandonment. The energetic and infectious stomp “Nobody Dies,” highlights Thao Nguyen‘s serrated vocals and the band’s specialized rhythms and melodies.
“Nobody Dies” – Thao & the Get Down Stay Down from A Man Alive
Quilt – Plaza
The band Quilt returns with a new album, Plaza , featuring wistful psych pop grooves that makes the band sound more comfortable than ever, as displayed by the standout track, “Roller,” and the playful official video above.
– Quilt from Plaza
Her Magic Wand – Everything At Once
Parisian songwriter and musician Charles Braud dropped his debut album, Everything At Once, using the moniker Her Magic Wand last week. Brimming with stories that range from neurological conditions (“Everything At Once”) to isolation, Braud aptly crafts a compelling compendium of stories with a catchy electro-pop mixed with indie rock flavor throughout that he calls “melancholic pop.”
The album content, so wonderfully woven musically, also highlights the passing of time, and how it fades memories (“Blank Memory Track”), or even death as personified by a younger Robert Redford in a The Twilight Zone episode from 1961 called ‘Nothing in the Dark’ (“Harold Beldon”).
Braud pieced together all of the instruments that he recorded on separate tracks with the mixing help from audio alchemist Stephane ‘Alf’ Briat, who has mixed for bands like Phoenix and Air, and mastering engineer, Chab, who has mastered albums for Daft Punk and Etienne Daho.
Her Magic Wand draws inspiration from a mix of dream pop and electronica, a collision of genres that can be found in Lali Puna’s cover of Slowdive’s shoegaze anthem, “40 Days”, where the German outfit traded Slowdive’s guitars full of reverb for digital signal processing effects. The song had a big impact on Braud, who took the opposite route, shifting from computer music (his “magic wand”) back to fuzzy guitars and analog synths.
The first single, and title track, “Everything At Once,” received over 10,000 plays on Soundcloud, and thousands of views of the video.
“Everything At Once” – Her Magic Wand from Everything At Once
Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered
The popular Russian shoegaze band, Pinkshinyultrablast, just released their sophomore album, Grandfeathered, which is a feast for the ears for fans of dreamy, ethereal music. There are some surprises too for fans of the band’s widely acclaimed debut. Let’s just say PSUB is spreading its wings – as evidenced on the terrific single, “The Cherry Pit.”
“The Cherry Pit” – Pinkshinyultrablast from Grandfeathered
Eerie Wanda – Hum
A perfect blend of 60’s pop and psych-tinged dream pop come together on the melancholic, summery single, “I Am Over Here,” from Eerie Wanda, the project of Croatian/Dutch singer and songwriter Marina Tadic with the help of the rhythm section of Jacco Gardner‘s band. Her debut album as Eerie Wanda, Hum, is a special treat of song after song of surprises and experimental and wistful musical explorations.
“I Am Over Here” – Eerie Wanda from Hum
Purple Pilgrim – Eternal Delight
Australian duo Purple Pilgrim‘s debut offers heavily-distorted dream pop that is haunting and beautiful. The delicate, ethereal key notes, dreamy bass lines and heavenly, wistful vocals of the single, “Thru Every Cell,” is a nice recipe to chill with after a stressful day.
“Thru Every Cell” – Purple Pilgrim from Eternal Delight
Coastgaard – Devil on The Balcony
Certainly the guys of Brooklyn indie pop band band Coastgaard had the beach in mind when writing their deliciously wistful and upbeat songs, created by well crafted pop songs brimming with sunny, guitar-dominate atmospherics and solid influences of surf guitars and melodies of the 1960s. The lead single, “Black White Fuzz,” is off of the band’s new sophomore album, Devil on The Balcony.
“Black White Fuzz” – Coastgaard from Devil on The Balcony
“Loop The Loop” – Bullion from Loop The Loop
Wild Nothing – Life of Pause
The new album, Life of Pause, from indie favorite Wild Nothing features longer, more emotive tracks than previous versions, displaying a maturity in songwriting and production. The title track is the official first single from Captured Tracks
“Life of Pause” – Wild Nothing from Life of Pause
Animal Collective – Painting With
Baltimore psych pop heroes Animal Collective‘s tenth album, Painting With, is referred to by the band as “our Ramones album,” even though it sounds a lot more like Devo. But the point is taken – there is a more stripped down and simplistic Animal Collective here, but fans should not worry because there is still plenty of fat glitches, sweeping harmonies and tripped out pop rock melodies. Here is one of the top singles from the album, ”
“Golden Gal” – Animal Collective from Painting With
Releases from Ra Ra Riot, Golden Daze, The Fall
The Syracuse indie band Ra Ra Riot turns up the passion big time on their new album produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. California duo Golden Daze‘s self-title debut album features layers of melodic shoegaze guitar ambience infused with late 60’s psych and shimmering effects. Veteran rockers The Fall are back and still kicking out the zany hard-edged post punk that has made them one of the best such bands ever.
“Absolutely” – Ra Ra Riot from Need Your Light
“Salt” – Golden Daze from Golden Daze
“Wise Ol’ Man” – The Fall from Wise Ol’ Man
Flashback Track (1988 UK TV): “Big New Prinz” – The Fall official video
Wolfmother Left to the Wolves
It’s harder to take Wolfmother as seriously as we did with the release of their first two albums. Once they signed up to the major label of Universal back in 2010, the music, predictably, has suffered. Their latest album, ironically named Victorious (since fans and critics don’t really agree), has too much polish on it and not enough of the band’s previous underlying grit.
This is what happens again and again when a great band goes major. It’s bullshit. When the big money compromises your soul, what do you have left? Eventually, one way or another, it reflects on the music, which is evident on both of the band’s Universal releases. Not surprisingly, fans have left in flocks since the signing.
Australia’s once red hot rock band has pretty much been viewed as a sellout by many of the early, and most loyal, fans. When bands choose money over fans, it’s the beginning of the end. At least if the music had some of the same magic as their earlier days, there’d be something worth salvaging. But, it’s just mediocre.
(Lesson #1 in ‘Band No No’s’: Never abandon your first and most loyal fans. Never.)