5 DIY Bands to Watch, Vol. III – Ballerina Black, Cursed Arrows, Skylight Avenue, Virginia Leaves, One High Five
In Volume II of 5 DIY Bands, readers were introduced to the latest singles from unsigned bands like Umbrella Cult, Roadkill Ghost Choir, No Shoes, Hints, and The Hoot Hoots. In the debut post of the 5 DIY Bands to Watch series, which has received, to date, over 35,000 views, 225 Likes on Facebook, and 35 Tweets, we profiled DIY bands like Hemmingbirds, Jumpiter, Cloud Lantern, The Jesus Rehab and Appalachians. In Volume III, we are excited to present bands that we’ve received submissions from in recent weeks that we think people should hear. This series, and related posts, such as Recent DIY Bands; 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear; In Dee Mail, Artist of the Week, among others, highlights DIY bands that stand out among hundreds of submissions we’ve reviewed. Four of the artists featured below originally dropped their latest albums in February, while one band is set to release a new album in late April.
Ballerina Black – Los Angeles, California
It’s always amazing to us the numbers of talented bands and artists that we would have probably never heard if they hadn’t sent their music in for review. Those of you who’ve been reading (and listening) to IRC posts for any length of time know that we regularly post DIY bands that are largely unknown, under-the-radar bands. Add to that gigantic, and ever-growing list the Los Angeles DIY ‘gloom pop/mope rock’ band Ballerina Black, formed in 2009. While the band is not as obscure as other bands we feature all of the time (afterall, they’ve opened for Interpol and Silversun Pickups), they surely are not as widely known as their talents dictate they should be. Let’s change that.
The band has a couple of unique ways to describe their sound, consisting of three sub-genres we’d never heard of before – driving mope-rock, gloom pop and grave-wave. Well, that got our attention. In 2007, singer-songwriter Moynahan teamed up with bassist Sugich (we could not find full names for the band, interestingly enough) and immediately, we’re told “a telepathy was forged.” In 2010, after considerable work writing, recording and mixing songs, the duo completed and self-released their debut LP, Cattle Arithmetic, which caught on quickly in LA, which is in and of itself impressive for a city over-flowing with talented musicians and bands. In fact, the duo’s debut was so well-received by the local scene that they were booked to open for Silversun Pickups and Interpol at the famed Greek Theater.
Not long after, the duo sought a fuller sound and recruited two more members, a drummer (Anthos) and an additional guitarist/keyboardist (Eton). In 2012, the new band released a series of EPs titled Injureless Blå. One writer familiar with the band inked the following description: “Maybe if Nirvana had decided to do covers of The Cure might come close to hitting some planet of reference in the [Ballerina] Black universe surrounding these guys sound. What is apparent [is] the refreshingly austere catchy-ness of Ballerina Black’s message. But the biggest mystery still remains.” The first track was recently highlighted on the BBC.
“Birth Of A Felony” – Ballerina Black from Injureless Blå – Feb. 14th
“Cannot Feel The Reign” – Ballerina Black from Injureless Blå
Bonus Track: “Separator” - Ballerina Black from Injureless Blå
Cursed Arrows – Brantford, Ontario
Cursed Arrows is the unisex rock duo Ryan and Jack E. Stanley from Brantford, Ontario that we were blown away by the first time we heard their bluesy rock guitar and drum romp, “Little Girl Blue,” that sounds like Jack White and PJ Harvey’s long-lost offspring. The track was IRC’s Song of the Day for March 11th.
Proclaiming that they “ain’t goin’ nowhere but up” and “won’t stop until we’re dead,” the duo are set to release their new album, Sonic Union, on April 30th via Ford Plant Recording Company. Not surprisingly, their musical influences include Patti Smith, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Jack White, to name a few.
“We have seen so many people and bands and buildings and pieces of land come and go, but we will never go away,” Jack E. Stanley told IRC. “As tempting as it is to disappear at times, that is simply impossible. If we knew we weren’t supposed to be making music for the rest of our lives, we would have quit a decade ago. If we could stop making music, we would [because] it’s tiring as hell.”
“Little Girl Blue” – Cursed Arrows from Sonic Union – April 30th
“The Destructor” – Cursed Arrows from Sonic Union
Skylight Avenue – Eugene, Oregon
Skylight Avenue is a good name for the Eugene, Oregon DIY band headed by Jordan Poet. Formed only last year, the band produces well-written, wonderfully composed, expertly recorded and finely mixed songs that have a ‘skylight’ sense about them, which is evident when listening to the four songs on the band’s debut EP, The View From Here, that was self-released on February 18th.
On the song “Home,” the first minute in is a celestial sonic experience, and then again towards the end of the song, with the full involvement of the band, Poet’s impressive vocals, masterful, overlapping choruses, jubilant drumming, a grooving bass, and shimmering, soaring guitar playing signal that Skylight Avenue has the potential to go far beyond being a mostly under-the-radar band, and are definitely on our list of the Best New DIY Bands of 2013. As the second single, “This City Never Sleeps” demonstrates, the band’s sound is similar to artists like The Classic Crime, Go Radio, Thrice, Mayday Parade, Emery, and Relient K. We’d love to hear what you think via the Comments box below, on Facebook or Twitter.
“Home” – Skylight Avenue from The View From Here – Feb. 18th
“This City Never Sleeps” – Skylight Avenue from The View From Here
Virginia Leaves – Vancouver, Canada
Mike Ness (Social Distortion) and Lucero fans are the most likely music lovers to dig the sounds of Vancouver band Virginia Leaves on their debut LP, Portrait. The band initially was an acoustic venture put together by long time friends, Mike West on guitar and vocals, and Mike “Strides” Brown on guitar. Later, Glenn Kelly on bass and Brian Michals on drums, joined to complete the formation of Virginia Leaves.
The band’s sound is a raunchy mix of DIY rock, country and punk. Producer Pierre Fraser of Resonant Mind Productions describes it as “elements of rock, with a thick mist of country blowing its way up from the south” with saccharine harmonies and catchy sing-alongs. The singles, “No Where’s Worse” and “Growing Older” are the kind of songs that make you want to crank it up, especially if you’re a fan of Mike Ness style music. The band’s top musical influences include Nirvana, Beatles, Deer Tick, and Sparta.
“No Where’s Worse” – Virginia Leaves from Portrait – Feb. 20th
“Growing Older” Virginia Leaves from Portrait
One High Five – Long Beach, California
After airplay on Los Angeles radio station KROQ‘s (106.7), Long Beach, California DIY band One High Five were invited to perform their first show at the famous Viper Room. For any band, especially a rather new DIY band (formed in 2011), to perform their first show at a legendary venue like The Viper Room is a big, big deal. A representative from High Voltage Magazine was at the show and Tweeted: “There’s a party on the stage, and it’s called ‘One High Five!’”
Singer and songwriter David Sauer‘s writes about life experiences – love, loss, hope and despair, and combines them with layered guitars, well-honed orchestration and appealing harmonies are at the core of its spell-bounding sound. While One High Five is in theory a one-man band, Sauer demos are recorded at his studio with collaboration from other musicians, “a rotating crew of friends and strangers” that also join Sauer on stage in performances around southern California, across the states and even China, of all places. Sauer’s songs draw off of some of his favorite bands like Green Day, The Beach Boys and CAKE. The track, “Tear Down The Wall,” on the debut release, Here, Hear!, reminds may remind some listeners ofus a bit of Jack White – the White style of vocals and guitar/drumming are there.
“Tear Down the Wall” – One High Five from Here, Hear! – Feb. 19th
“Fully Operational” – One High Five from Here, Hear!