The quantity and quality of music piling up in the IRC mailbox in recent months is simply mind-boggling. For those of you who have followed IRC over the months, and even years, the In Dee Mail series has served as a special playlist mix feature where we spotlight relatively unknown – in most cases – artists and bands who stand out among the hundreds of tracks we receive via our submission form (see the About page) each month.
This latest batch of new and approved tracks showcases the talents of artists and bands that most of you have probably never heard of before. In some cases, the bands we spotlight via the In Dee Mail series have never been featured on any music site, blog or print publication – often times to our utter amazement. All in all, this mix spotlights some of the best bands of 2010 that we had never heard of until now. Don’t forget to check out other In Dee Mail playlist mixes chock full of awesome music from bands you’ve probably never heard of; see the links at the end of this post for more. Plus, there are more In Dee Mail posts in the queue that will be published in the coming weeks.
Setting Sun – New Paltz, NY
With so many bands coming out in recent years with the word “sun” in their names, it can be difficult to keep them all sorted out. But for New Paltz, New York recording artist Setting Sun, (aka Gary Levitt), people are likely to remember him for the earnest, uptempo beats and psychedelic synth pop on tracks like “Driving”. The tempo slows and the horns and acoustic guitars, accompanied by smooth vocals switches the mood on the tightly engineered song, “Make You Feel”. Both songs are from Setting Sun’s 2010 album, Fantasurreal, which was released back in June. Unlike many of the artists featured for In Dee Mail, Setting Sun has enjoyed a good deal of positive press, including NPR which called Levitt’s music “immediately alluring” and USA Today writing about his”incredibly well-crafted songs with a vocal that reminds [the writer] of Bright Eyes.”
“This was the easiest record I’ve ever made,” says Levitt. “It felt natural to come home to my studio and let these songs pour out while embracing some solitude that is so hard to find on tour. It was a big relief and a great way to ease back into my life.”
“Make You Feel” – Setting Sun from Fantasurreal
“Driving” – Setting Sun from Fantasurreal
Opened for: Mice Parade, Bellini, Dosh, Geoff Farina, Gogol Bordello, Quitzow
Influences: Fans of Beatles, Of Montreal, Grandaddy, Elliott Smith
Website: Setting Sun MySpace
Mothlight – Los Angeles, CA
Dreamy and chilled out electronic pop flows freely in a minimalistic, experimental form, embellished with hushed vocals, wavy synth notes, and a steady, medium beat that feels like you’re floating across the heavens. Mothlight began as a solo project in college by Matt Billings and his producer friend, Andrew Naeve.
After college, they split apart for a year; Billings continued Mothlight in San Diego until the two reunited in Los Angeles to finish recording and producing their debut EP, Chrysalis, and a debut LP, expected in 2011. The EP features the two songs here, “Repeater,” with its fantastic overall effect, and endless taunt to be played again and again. The second single, “Skin Graft,” keeps in step with the duo’s experimental, melody-laced electro pop-new wave sound.
“Repeater” – Mothlight from Chrysalis
“Skin Graft” – Mothlight from Chrysalis
Opened For: Weatherbox, Japandi, Snuffaluffagus
Influences: Jim O’Rourke, Animal Collective, Brian Eno, Liars, The-Dream, Why?
Website: Mothlight’s Myspace page
Vicinal – Colorado Springs, CO
With a guitar glimmering pop hooks reminiscent of Matthew Sweet, Colorado Springs alternative pop one-man band Vicinal got our attention with the track “Alone.” Vicinal is completely the work of DIY musician Christopher Jones, who wrote, recorded and played every instrument on every song for his self-titled EP, released back in March. Jones tours around his home state of Colorado with friends and session musicians.
“Alone” – Vicinal from Vicinal EP
“When You Try” – Vicinal from Vicinal EP
Opened for: Jake Allen
Influences: Third Eye Blind, H.I.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Better Than Ezra.
Website: Vicinal on MySpace
TV Girl – San Diego, CA
Over the past couple of years, there has been a steady of great new talent coming out of San Diego, including bands like Avi Buffalo, The Crocodiles, Wavves, and many others. Now, the latest incarnation of the prolific, Brad P, has teamed up with fellow San Diego artist, Trung Ngo to form TV Girl, a project they left their previous endeavors for; Brad P and The Son of Sam, and Da Bears, respectively. In October, TV Girl released the self-titled album featuring the chillwave loop mix with Todd Rungred‘s “Hello It’s Me” serving as the sample for the track “If You Want It, You Got It.” The second single, “It’s Not Something,” is a catchy little tropical-tinged track that would be best on a summer mixtape. Unfortunately, however, the song ends abruptly as if it were cut short by accident, or on purpose; either way, it would have been cool if it went a bit longer with its sunny, beachy groove.
– TV Girl from TV Girl
– TV Girl from TV Girl
Influences: The Velvet Underground, the Shangri-La’s, Ariel Pink, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson
Website: TV Girl on MySpace
Cygnets – Edmonton, AB, Canada
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the indie new wave band Cygnets perform energetic, infectious songs with a strong influences of electronic dance, post-punk and Britpop, all combined to create a decidedly new wave sound – a style that seems to be oozing out of every nook and cranny of the Canadian indie music scene in recent years. The band is the culmination of many years of work, with songwriter and musician Logan Turner privately writing and recording hundreds of songs before deciding to explore a group dynamic. This collaboration was realized in close friends Chris Bruce and Dan Snow. Contributing textured, inspiring guitar work and bright, catchy synthesizer hooks, Bruce and Snow’s styles compliment and enhance Logan’s colorful songwriting style and singular, melodic voice.
The musical and lyrical dynamics of the band blend nicely Cygnets’ new wave-style supported by synthesizers and steady pop beats are the centerpiece of the band’s sound, as evidenced on the fantastic track, “Telepaths”. On the equally upbeat song “Bleak Decades,” Turner seems to be channeling early Smiths’ era Morrissey crooning, but without sounding like a tacky rip-off. So it was no surprise when we learned that the band list among their biggest influences The Smiths, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and New Order. Both songs featured here were picked by the band as standout singles from their debut album, Bleak Anthems, which dropped on September 21st. If you like what you hear, the LP, and their debut EP, are available as free downloads via their official website.
“Telepaths” – Cygnets from Bleak Anthems
“Bleak Decades” – Cygnets Bleak Anthems
Opened for: You Say Party, Apoptygma Berzerk
Influences: The Smiths, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, New Order, You Say Party, Radiohead
Website: Cygnets on MySpace