We never get tired or bored with hearing impressive music from bands and artists that we’ve never heard of before – and hopefully the same is true for many of you. That’s pretty much one of the big things that sets Indie Rock Cafe apart from most other indie and alternative rock blogs.
We are reviewing hundreds of submissions every couple of months, and selecting the best artists and bands to include in any number of regular band profile and playlists, such as this series – 5 DIY Bands to Watch in 2013 – as well as 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear, Artist of the Week, Bands That Rock, In Dee Mail, Top 10 Songs playlists, among others.
This is the seventh installment of 5 DIY Bands to Watch in 2013 (and beyond). So far, the collection of 35 unsigned bands featured in this series has introduced tens of thousands of music lovers to great bands they never knew about previously. The process for selecting bands for this series – as opposed to bands and artists featured in other series listed above is enormously time-consuming. Hundreds of submissions are reviewed over time, and little by little, we listen to them over and over, in the end, selecting about 30% to 40% of all submissions. After that, each band and artist selected is put into a draft post for a specific playlist series. (Read more about how bands are picked for this series at the end of this post.)
A fitting band to kick of this latest installment of 5 DIY Bands to Watch is the exciting Raleigh, North Carolina indie synth pop rock quartet Dash. The seeds for Dash where planted a few years ago when singer, songwriter and musician David Garcia recorded a number of demos in his bedroom. Like so many one-man band bedroom artists of recent years, Garcia initially had no intention of releasing them until he was approached by friends, and future band mates, who encouraged him the songs needed to be recorded and performed live. It’s a good thing they did because Dash is on the cusp of breaking out big-time.
Dash has started a buzz in North Carolina, and there are some signs that more music lovers across the U.S. are catching on. The band’s lush, colorful synth flourishes and driving melodies may remind some of bands like Passion Pit, Phoenix and Phantogram, but Dash clearly stand out on their own merits. The single, “Into the Sounds,” is a catchy anthem that sticks in your head and keeps you wanting to hear more from this up and coming band. “Home” has a sense of urgency that is intensely captivating and dreamy. Into The Sounds is the band’s debut EP.
“Into the Sounds” – Dash from Into the Sounds
“Home” – Dash from Into the Sounds EP
Cozy Danger – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Three friends were were prowling the “shadowy streets of Milwaukee one balmy summer night” in 2012, when it occurred to the “wonderfully chestbearded gentlemen” that they needed to share their blazing rock ‘n’ roll songs with the world, “instead of trolling the dump for lot lizards,” whatever that means. The unsigned Milwaukee trio proclaims that their music “will piss your cranky grand Dad right off. They’re just jealous cause hip grandma’s love our rock and roll bliss, known to interrupt pacemakers and cause extreme hot flashes.” Cozy Danger has opened for bands like Boy Blue, Sexy Ester, Bring Your Ray Gun and count among their biggest musical influences The Strokes, Jimi Hendrix, Rage Against the Machine, and Incubus.
“Simple” – Cozy Danger from The Lake Pirates
“Cozy Danger” – Cozy Danger from The Lake Pirates
Timberhawk – Pensacola, Florida
It’s time to switch gears. Timberhawk is a four piece indie-Americana rock group from Pensacola, Florida, featuring brothers Aubrey (vocalist; bass) and Matt Nichols (drums), as well as Jordan Richards (rhythm guitar/vocals), Nathan Dillaha (lead guitar). The band members met in high school in 2001 and “immediately felt musically drawn to each other.” Since that time, the four 20-somethings have jammed together, written and recorded songs and released a debut EP, Reynosa, in 2010.
For nearly a decade, the band claims to have been the “most frequently gigging bar band” in Pensacola, but after years of playing other band’s songs, they became bored and decided to focus on writing and recording their own new material, some of which was released on Reynosa and their debut album, Tears, Sweat and The Sea, released last November. Vocalist Audrey Nichols voice sounds somewhat like Michael Stipes (REM). With edgy, taunting guitar riffs, a heavy, droning bass and danceable beats featured on southern rock singles like “Down By The River” and “Metairie,” Timberhawk are set to grow in popularity – they just need more exposure, which is part of why they’re a band an IRC DIY band to watch. The band’s style of music is a reflective of their biggest influences, including The Marshall Tucker Band, The Gills, The Band, Wilco, Radiohead, Iron and Wine, and My Morning Jacket.
“Down The River” – Timberhawk from Tears, Sweat and The Sea
“Metairie” – Timberhawk from Tears, Sweat and The Sea
Carry The Tradition – Boulder, Colorado
Here’s an artist that we liked immediately, especially because of the track, “Mirrors” – it’s simple, lo-fi, predominantly acoustic, no frills. The band is Carry The Tradition from the town of Queensbury located in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. All 20 years old, they started out as a trio when they were only 14 years old, featuring Jon Cantiello on drums, Chris Cronin on guitar, and Jesse Bolduc on bass.
But things changed last summer when Cantiello returned to his native country of Colombia, at which time the remaining members relocated to Boulder, Colorado, sleeping on the floor of a shared bedroom while they recorded the songs for the album Garbage. The songs are written by Cronin and Bolduc. We often are attracted to these type of artists because they’re genuine and sincere; they’re not putting on any aires or trying to fit into a mold in an effort to seek approval. We like that they’re just who they are and not trying to win anyone over by being something they’re not. They actually started rocking together at the tender age of 14 years. Their major musical influences include The Beatles, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Cream. That’s quite a diverse and excellent selection of artists to have as influences, all of which happen to be geniuses in their own way. In their submission to IRC, Bolduc wrote that indie rock is “rock that has free expression and no boundaries. No influence from the fat cats for industry majors. [Indie rock] generally has a distinct, honest sound.”
“Mirror” – Carry The Tradition from Garbage
“Words”– Carry The Tradition from Garbage
Flash Riot – Chicago, Illinois
Bloggers and fans have described Chicago alternative rock band Flash Riot sound as a mix between the dark atmosphere of Neon Trees, the edgy grooves of Muse and the angst of the Foo Fighters. In May, the newly formed band, released their self-titled debut EP, which they collaborated on with the talented producer Marc McClusky, who is known for this work with Weezer, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion. The EP is definitely one of the best alt. rock debuts this year from a new band. “The intention of this band,” said drummer Jon Lewchenko, “is to bring back hard hitting rock music. Not just something that we can make sound good in the studio, but can make an imprint at every show we play.”
“Change Me” – Flash Riot from Flash Riot EP – May 31st
“Destination” – Flash Riot from Flash Riot EP
Featuring DIY Bands on IRC
Many of the artists we profile on IRC have had little to no independent coverage online. Often, bands are so new that they haven’t had time to be noticed. Other bands, despite being immensely talented, do not actively promote their work. The lack of publicity and promotion, as difficult as that is to do with thousands of other bands to compete for space with, is a key reason why so many terrific artists are not more widely known. That’s why IRC is one of the few indie blogs where DIY and indie music lovers with great tastes in music, and an unshakeable love for under appreciated artists, can come to each week, or a few times a week, to hear and download amazing music that is not found anywhere else organized into regular playlist series, and where the songs are available to stream and download for months, even years, after the original date of the post. We still have posts and profiles of bands from years ago where the music is still available, whether we host it or encourage the bands themselves to host their songs for as long as possible.