In fact, almost all of the bands in the 5 DIY Bands to Watch series are otherwise pretty much unknown (even to indie music enthusiasts), ‘under the radar,’ and most have never been featured on a major indie rock blog or website, which makes them all that more appealing to us as well as many of our regular readers who return to IRC again and again – some since we started in 2008 – exactly for that reason: to hear great songs from artists and bands that they’ve never heard of before and will unlikely hear of anywhere else.
Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation – Greensburg, Pennsylvania
It’s almost hard to believe that a band with such a well-honed, mature sound as that of Greensburg, Pennsylvania DIY band Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation only officially formed last year. Last summer, singer/songwriter Jim Platt‘s collaborator and guitarist Scott Ruffner brought in a studio drummer and bass player to help them record a batch of songs Platt had been working on for months. They quickly decided on a band name, and immediately began bringing Platt’s songs to live for the debut EP, Moving Through The Ages, officially released last November. Ever since we started listening to the EP in early May, we knew they were going to be one of our DIY Bands to Watch in 2013.
Platt’s keen pop sensibilities in his songwriting style and the quirky nature of his lyrics and themes are brought to life wonderfully thanks to his impressive made-to-sing vocals and the professional interpretations of his band mates, who master their instruments in one song after another. In fact, we like every track on Platt’s EP, and posthumously, Moving Through The Ages is one of our favorite DIY EP’s of 2012.
From the sense of isolation and irony of “All Alone in My Dreams,” to the radio-ready 70s pop zeal of “Cherry Blossom Girl,” to the off-colored silliness of “Drama Queen,” Jim Platt and the Rhythm Innovation show great promise for fans of finely structured music that mixes elements of pop, rock and folk with a range of themes that give the music a light-hearted quality about it. Platt named The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Smiths, The Who, and Oasis as major musical influences, which is completely apparent in his songs.
In reference to the genre of indie rock, which allows artists to explore so many types of sounds and styles in their own unique way, Platt said that indie rock is “music that is better then the mainstream music of now – [it has] more feeling, more heart, more soul; something current music lacks.” It’s amazing how many definitions of indie rock are appropriate, which is what allows it to be the genre of just about anything that is not on the Billboard Top 10 or MTV.
“All Alone In My Dreams” – Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation from Moving Through The Ages
“Cherry Blossom Girl” – Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation from Moving Through The Ages
“Drama Queen” – Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation from Moving Through The Ages
Controller – Brooklyn, New York
Controller is a new four piece band from Brooklyn that delivers propulsive pop rock songs with new wave tendencies via densely layered guitars, impassioned post-punk rhythms and catchy melodic hooks, generating a sound designed for maximum impact on stage and on record. Vocalist Jonathan Bellinger, guitarist Josh Shabtai, bassist Brian Dell and drummer Keith Gordon have each spent years separately writing and performing in different bands that spanned the spectrum of genres from punk, country, pop, metal, and rock.
In 2012, these four musician friends decided to meld their disparate influences to counter what they perceive to be a “lack of real feeling and passion” in mainstream pop music and the NYC indie rock scene (one exception being a recent IRC Artist of the Week from NYC, The Rotaries). From their earliest rehearsals in a storage space in Queens, Controller honed a massive sound, focused around anthemic, surging songs designed to be played for live audiences. Their live shows are sweaty, ferocious affairs, where the band plays with fearless conviction and total commitment.
Earlier this year, the band took to the studio to capture the frenzied energy of their live shows on a three-song, self-titled debut EP. The band has previously opened for No TV Tonight and Nude Beach, among others, and their top musical influences are Wire, Buzzcocks, Nirvana, Katy Perry, Scott Walker, David Bowie, and Louder Than War.
“Kicking and Screaming” – Controller from Controller EP – Feb. 2nd
“Make it Up” – Controller from Controller EP
Check out Controller’s Facebook page
“Indie rock isn’t just a style of music or production or band or business. Every band has, at some point, been an indie band. Bands that stay indie bands are the ones that focus on their relationships with their audiences above all other parties (e.g., labels, lawyers, brands, etc.)” – Jonathan Bellinger, Controller
The Gallery – Los Angeles, California
Originally formed in 2008, The Gallery is an up-and-coming unsigned band based in Los Angeles whose music can be described as a modern take on classic rock with Top 40 hooks and melodies. In fact, the band, originally from Massachusetts (a continent away from California) was selected in 2012 as contestants for a high visibility contest, ‘Do You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star?’, by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine. The special edition’s goal was to pick a promising, unsigned band to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. While they did not win the contest, just having been considered by the editors of America’s premiere rock magazine is a huge compliment for any band or artist, let alone an unsigned band that most people have never heard of.
The band features Brendan Cooney (vocals/guitar), Ben Lozano (guitar), Dave Mozdzanowski (bass, vocals), and Ryan Cooney (drums). The band released their new album, Restless, in February. The album was recorded with producer Warren Huart (Augustana, The Fray, Aerosmith), who also produced the band’s 2011 EP, Come Alive. That’s a damn big score for the band to work with a producer of that caliber, not once, but twice! The Gallery has toured throughout the U.S., performing in more than 30 states.
“Restless Soul” – The Gallery from Restless – Feb. 26th
“Catalyst” – The Gallery from Restless
The Gallery have opened for artists such as Minus The Bear, Rooney and Sam Roberts, to name a few, and consider among their top musical influences Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Oasis, and Coldplay. Get more info at The Gallery’s official website.
Daybreak Gentlemen – Toronto, Canada
After two years of highs and lows since forming in 2011, Toronto unsigned indie rock band Daybreak Gentlemen have established themselves in the city’s music scene and are now poised to go nationwide. The band’s new release, The Beachwood Demos, dropped back in February, and the band’s energetic live shows, have helped fuel the band’s popularity, lead by the lively, Strokes-sounding single, “Dead Teenagers,” complete with catchy guitar hooks and great vocals. Local radio station 102.1 FM, nicked-named, “The Edge Toronto,” tagged the band as “one of the top indie bands to watch” following the release of Daybreak Gentlemen’s 2012 self-titled debut EP.
The band is made up of brothers Josh Niven and Zack Niven, Ryan Fyfe, Ryan Salvatore, and “the enigmatic” Bingo Pyjama. The Niven brothers’ vocals split between Josh’s cool and collective style, and Zack’s more brash and chaotic delivery. The band has played all over Toronto during the past 18 months, and also performed buzz-worthy sets at the NXNE and KOI music festivals last summer.
Now that their most recent tour has ended, Zack and Bingo are writing new material and vetting it with the other band members. They plan to start recording a new master tape this fall. Josh said that the band will evolve their sound, and are currently writing songs using primarily synthesizers as an attempt to move away from their mostly guitar-driven songs. We’d recommend, based on songs like “Dead Teenagers” and “Belles,” that they don’t give up too much on their guitar sound. The band elaborates by describing their music this way: “Indie dance rock to the U.K. romantic era with infectious melodies, heavily layered guitar riffs, and fun ‘dancey synth’ elements tightly intertwined. Our ‘mid-fi’ approach, allows for a professional sound with the tie loosened.”
Daybreak Gentlemen has opened for bands like July Talk, Beliefs, Decades, Secret Broadcast, and The Danger Bees, and their major music influences include The Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Foals, and MGMT.
“Dead Teenagers” – Daybreak Gentlemen from The Beechwood Demos – Feb. 12th
“Belles” – Daybreak Gentlemen from The Beechwood Demos
“Indie rock to us, is simply music without limitation. It it the freedom and ability to create music that is not polished, or set to fit a specific model. It is music that plays off raw emotion and real feelings, it fosters artistic honesty, love, and creativeness.” – Josh Niven, guitarist
False Pterodactyl – Morgantown, West Virginia
False Pterodactyl was incarnated in 2012 following a jam session in Flatwoods, West Virginia among friends and musicians John Jacob and Josh Ratliff. Soon after, Jacob moved to Ratliff’s homebase of Morgantown, WV last summer, and the newly-formed duo began working tirelessly on songs for their debut EP, Shanghaied, released on January 20th.
Jacob is the duo’s multi-instrumentalist, playing baritone, acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, drums and vocals, with Ratliff on drums and guitar. According to Jacob the duo write “lean songs with a focus on rhythm, groove, and melody.” We were immediately won-over after listening to the blistering rocker, “Heavy Bop,” and the more chill “Hi-Top Fade” a few times back-to-back, making False Pterodactyl not only a band that rocks, but also a duo to watch in 2013 and beyond. Their musical influences include the Pixies, Nirvana, Flat Duo Jets, Drive By Truckers, The Stooges, and Nicki Minaj.
“Heavy Bop” – False Pterodactyl from Shanghaied EP – Jan. 20th
“Hi-Top Fade” – False Pterodactyl from Shanghaied EP