Top DIY Releases of the Week, Sept. 25th – Dizzy Bats, Slunq, Defy The Ocean, High Pines, Arioc, Faithless Town, The Shallows
Afterall, it was IRC fans that helped propel bands like Oberhofer to indie fame, and who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Artist of the Week profiles for DIY musicians like Thad Kopec, and just this week Paul Thomas Zito. Plus, the Top Ten Songs playlists are determined by how many times IRC listeners stream or download a song we posted during the week. Many times, we are fascinated by the results, and other times baffled, but in an enlightening way every time.
Much of the filtering includes songs and submissions received from DIY, unsigned artists and bands. And time and again, we are genuinely surprised how much great music from talented musicians we hear that, in many cases, we would have never heard anywhere else. With the DIY posts, we try our best to give artists and bands that we think at least deserve to be heard, and step back a bit to let the listeners decide for themselves – as the Top 10 Songs playlists (September in the works) demonstrate.
Most of the times that we have published a new installment of In Dee Mail, Artist of the Week or, more recently, 7 Bands You Gotta Hear, the responses from listeners range from good to overwhelming. While there will still be DIY releases in the Best New Music Releases, and other playlist series, expect to see more posts exclusively focused on DIY and unsigned artists and bands, many of them exclusively on IRC.
New York Alt. Rock Dizzy Bats Debut First Singles
Just a year since their formation, the New York City DIY alternative/nerd rock band Dizzy Bats got our attention with their light and playful style, sounding very much like college indie rock – with touches of punk pop – that was so popular in the 1990s. “Please Stall” sounds a lot like Weezer, as does the second, more uptempo, single, “Sundial,” with an added touch of They Might Be Giants. So it’s no surprise that lead vocalist Connor Frost told IRC that Dizzy Bats model their music after bands like Weezer, Green Day and Dinosaur Jr. Their album cover looks like it was illustrated by Keith Haring.
London Alternative Rockers Slunq Collaborate Remotely for Debut Album
It may just be coincidental, but we’ve been hearing a higher than usual number of singles that are of a dark, gloomy, heavy, sad, and mysterious nature.
In keeping with that trend, on Wednesday, the alternative rock band Slunq officially dropped their debut album, Spoiled Portion. Slunq’s band members are two-thirds London, one-third Brixton. The three musicians have never met one another since they began to collaborate on Spoiled Portion in 2010. But they are not newbies to the world of UK alt. rock.
In fact, they’re all UK noise-rock veterans – Peter Dahl Collins and Chris Collins (no relation that we know of) are former members of CrashTV, and Daniel Knowler was an original member of The Infinite Three. Slunq’s mix of alternative rock, noise rock and post punk recall their favorite bands – Killing Joke, Cardiacs, and Nine Inch Nails. And like most bands, their musical influences show through in their music.
On the track, “Pig Stick,” the trio knock out dark and raw guitar-driven hard rock (not quite metal), punctuated by a brewing progression that over boils into full-steam, unabashed rock. On the second track, “Nailbox,” the sound is even heavier with chunky guitar riffs and driving rhythms. The more we listen to these tracks, the more we think Slunq may just be a band to watch in 2013, and yet there are only a couple of original reviews of Slunq via Google searches, however, their debut album did appear on Bandcamp’s page of recommended new releases.
London Duo Turn Love of Hard Rock Into An Environmental Cause
Yet another London band, well technically, duo, Defy The Ocean, dropped their debut EP, Myopic, last Wednesday. Chris Theo is in charge of not only vocals, but guitar, bass and keyword, while drummer Marcos Economides, also co-writes with Theo. But the two friends are not writing and recording music for any personal monetary gain. In fact, all proceeds from the EP will go to a conservation charity called Sea Shepherd.
The EP is a concept piece about humans’ role in the rapidly depleting biodiversity of Planet Earth, which explains both the bleakness and dramatic darkness of songs like “Invaders!” and “Neolithic.” It’s hard not to think of Avatar when listening to the duo’s songs. The EP is available for purchase at Defy The Ocean’s official website. The band listed their major musical influences as A Perfect Circle, Deftones, Alice in Chains and Marillion.
Brooklyn’s High Pines Drop Psychedelic Debut, We Are Humans
More gloom and darkness for this past week’s releases comes from the singles of Brooklyn‘s unsigned band, High Pines, but this time it’s in the form of psychedelic rock joined with soothing pop. It’s quite an accomplishment that this Brooklyn band is able to effortlessly transition from a dark undertow to a soothing pop melody in the single, “I Haven’t Seen it All” from the band’s new album, We Are Humans, dropped last Thursday via the band’s DIY label, Mind Pattern.
Only a year old, the band did not tell us much about them, which is a bit annoying. So, we hunted down some further details about who they are and all that. The now four-member band actually started out as the solo project of Caribbean-born musician Leo “Jottin” Lugo when he relocated to Brooklyn in 2007. Lugo was previously a member of Loin, and spent much of last year working on demos. He then met Colorado experimental musician Maxx Loup (they both have cool ‘stage’ names). The pair made fast friends in part because of their interest in different forms of music. Loup, now the band’s lead guitarist, had travelled throughout South America and Europe studying African music as well as Spanish culture.
Lugo and Loup knew they had to have a four-piece band, particularly in Brooklyn where live gigs are essential for a band to build buzz and credibility in a borough with more musicians than could fill a football stadium. Soon, they recruited drummer Felipe Torres and bassist Andrey Kisselev, and had a full band. This past summer, the band performed a number of concerts in the metropolitan area, including a July 28th show at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s hard to come up with another place in the U.S. which has been more influential for indie rock for the past decade as Brooklyn has, and continues to be.
In addition to world music, Brooklyn, and the larger New York City area, offers a cornacopia of every type of music, no matter how old or how outlandish. Therefore the band will benefit from that especially since they are an experimental band. Plus, the influences of High Pines’ self-proclaimed musical proteges, like The Doors, The Velvet Underground, Can, Radiohead and The Verve are evident at one point or another on songs like “All Around,” “I Haven’t Seen it All,” and “I Walk With You.” If you like to kick back and listen to melancholic retro psychedelic guitar rock, featuring moments of pop infusions, you might just dig High Pines. On the SoundCloud page for “I Haven’t Seen it All,” there are a dozen positive comments, including Trent Marshall, who wrote: “Definitely has a chill Shins’ vibe to it. I’m a fan!” You can also view their Facebook page here.
PA Metal Rockers Arioc Drop Debut Three Years in the Making
More good news for hard rockers looking for bands they’ve never heard of before. Yet another hard rock band – self-proclaimed as metal – Arioc, from York, Pennsylvania, self-released a debut album this week, titled , Symphony of Demise. The band members, Matt Himes (guitar), Brent Zellers (lead vocals), Joe Werner (drums), Drew Jeffrey (keyboards), and Jeremy McCombs (bass, vocals) combined their love of metal, their musical talents and ambition to form Arioc in 2009, and have since been performing mostly in the York area.
According to their official bio: “The band enjoys writing complex rock pieces complete with technical guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and amazing drum work,” adding an unusually modest, and defiant, commentary: “Although not necessarily appealing to the masses, the band will continue stay true to their progressive roots and write pieces that complement their current style and improving musical skills as a band.” Whether you love, like or hate them, it’s hard not to respect their conviction and stick-tuitiveness, which is not a real word, but it gets the point across. The band members listed their major musical influences as Dream Theater, Opeth, Ayreon, Symphony X, Kansas, and Trivium.
The first single we heard from the Atlantic, Georgia DIY alternative rock band Faithless Town stood out among dozens and dozens of other DIY singles out this week. The song, titled “Ghosts of My Hometown,” sports a catchy rhythmic groove, punk-style guitar riffs, and excellent vocals and choruses. The band told IRC that they aim to “combine singer/songwriter sensibilities with a commitment to genuine, roots rock.”
Faithless Town have headlined at some of Atlanta’s finest venues, including The Earl, Smiths Olde Bar, Vinyl, The Drunken Unicorn, The Highland Ballroom and The Five Spot, and have previously opened for bands like Manchester Orchestra, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Chris Knight, Rachael Sage, and Connor Christian & The Southern Gothic.
Their new album, American Refugee, was produced by Dan Dixon (PLS PLS, Dropsonic, The Biters), and the results demonstrate his instincts were right on target.
London Band The Shallows Drop Debut EP; Featured on BBC
London is dropping plenty of DIY releases in the past week. We have yet another album that was sent to us this past week from London, but this one is on the lighter side of rock. The Shallows are an unsigned indie rock/pop band that just formed this year, and already they have a four-track EP out, About Time Vol. 1. The band sent in two tracks to share, “Fairly True” and “Win or Lose.” In July, “Fair True” was featured on the BBC Radio 6 mixtape series by Tom Robinson called “BBC Introducing,” an award-winning radio show. The song has a rhythmic groove with repeating guitar chords, and dynamic percussion.
The band consists of young musicians Tom Skelton (guitar, lead vocals), Russ Cragg (guitar), Michael Rendall (bass) and Timmy Rickard (drums). Their own website’s About page, the band offers no details about themselves, but rather some philosophical observations that basically say nothing substantive. The information we were able to find came from a few different sources, including IndieRockReviewer.com, which said of “Fair True”: “The chorus erupts…with soaring guitars reminiscent of bands like Kings of Leon, or the poppy Two Door Cinema.” Just so happens the band considers Two Door Cinema Club a major musical influence, in addition to The Strokes, The Bird and the Bee, and The Beatles. Visit The Shallows’ official website.
Band Who Opened for Artists Like fun. and Good Old War Releases New LP
Pittsburgh‘s power pop band Instead of Sleeping released a new album, The Reds, The Blacks, The Grays, and sent in a couple of tracks to share with IRC listeners. While their polished pop sound leans more towards what we call commercial rock (think Taking Back Sunday) than it does alternative or indie rock, the young band does have their fanbase, and probably a good number of others – especially guys – who can’t admit to digging their sounds. The band’s multi-instrumental configuration consists of two drum kits, horns, keys, and a myriad of other sounds. In less than three years from the founding, Instead of Sleeping, have become fairly popular for an unsigned band, and have opened for other bands like fun., Good Old War and Hawthorne Heights. We’ll see when the Top 10 list is made for this week whether the band’s new singles generate any love from listeners.
Indieducing…Brooklyn Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist Charles Larson
Brooklyn and London were not doubt represented in this post playlist. Add another. Charles Larson is a Brooklyn-based American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who likes to mix pop, minimalism, and alternative rock in the vein of pioneering artists like Elliott Smith, Graham Coxon, and Thom Yorke. Larson’s new release, Shift, immediately sparks full of playful melodies with haunting electronic undertones to create what Larson himself describes as “gloom pop”. Showcasing his proficient songwriting abilities, Shift sets the stage for Larson’s transformation from a standard band outfit to a more minimalist approach that highlights his striking developments as a songwriter and performer.
Fifteen Years After Hitting It Big, Wanderlust Returns with Third Album
A couple of weeks ago, we feature Wanderlust in a Fresh Tracks installment. Now that the band has officially released their first album in 15 years, we have another track they sent us to share with IRC listeners, “Blow Away.” This year the band celebrates 20 years since they first got together, a whirlwind of a time when the Philadelphia alternative rock/power pop band quickly amassed a following of fans and plenty of love from radio DJs. Although it took three years, Wanderlust released their debut album Prize, on the RCA record label. By that time, they were one of the most popular power pop bands of the day, even opening for one of the biggest bands ever, The Who, as well as Ben Folds 5 and Collective Soul.
While their debut album was considered a success, the pressure to record a second album, and apparently disagreements with RCA, did not work out and they were dropped by the label in 1997 when the sophomore album failed to get off the ground. The unfinished album was later released by a small label, Not Lame a few years later, but by then fans moved on and Wanderlust were all but forgotten as a quasi one-hit wonder. Now, 15 years later, the band is back with a new album, Record Time, which officially dropped this week on Zip Records. Here’s the album’s first single, “Lou Reed,” which had a great reception from fans when we premiered it a few weeks ago, followed by the second single, “Blow Away.”