Best Singles & Albums, August 2013, Vol. I – Heaven, Polyphonic Spree, Barbarian, Mosaics, Future Wife, Medicine, Smoking Flowers
In addition to anticipated releases from popular and more well-known indie and alternative rock artists and bands, this post and playlist, just like Vol. One and Vol. Two for July (both hugely popular playlists with listeners), places a big emphasis on DIY, under-the-radar, and small label artists and bands that get little, if any, coverage elsewhere in the music blogosphere despite their talents and achievements.
That’s why many indie rock enthusiasts come to IRC regularly because they know that there will be dozens and dozens of new songs for them to listen to and download; emerging and under-the-radar talented musicians not covered anywhere else to discover; extensive playlists of free MP3s, and playlist series, like Best New Releases; Artist of the Week; DIY Bands to Watch; Top Ten Songs; 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear and more.
What most people like is the fact that they can come to one place and get easy access to stream and download all of the top new singles from popular indie bands as well as carefully selected DIY and under the radar bands often featured only on IRC. That continues to be the mission.
We are tackling the month chronologically, starting with select releases for the first week of August (we’ll catch up with September soon). Since Tuesday is traditionally the day new releases are dropped in the industry, the first week for August, in music terms, runs from July 30th to August 5th.
Best Releases of August 2013 from Popular to Obscure Indie Artists, Weeks One & Two
This extensive playlist, exhaustively put together for IRC listeners, contains the top 39 singles for the first half of August 2013, spanning July 30th to August 12th, and includes many songs that are exclusive to IRC. The second volume, which covers our top picks for the second half of the month – August 13th to August 31st – is currently in the works and should be out by this weekend. If you missed any indie or alt. releases in August, including those from popular bands, you can stream an uninterrupted playlist of all 39 selected singles while you do other things, just like you would fire up any other playlist. We put together a table of contents with links to each section because this post is so long. Rest assured, there is a jackpot of amazing songs here, and new artists to discover.
Top Indie Music Releases and Artist for Week One of August 2013
– Fresh tracks from Heaven, Michael Franti & Spearhead and T. Hardy Morris
– New DIY artists Egadz, Null Device, and Lights At Night
– Previous IRC Band to Watch, San Diego’s Barbarian, Drop New EP
– Spotlighted One-Man Band Artist, Stuart Newman Drops New Single
– DIY Band Future Wife Joins Big-Time Collaborators from Arcade Fire, Matmos, Ad-Rock and David Bryne
– Promising Unsigned Synth Pop Band Step Rockets Drop “The Kisser”
– San Francisco Pop Duo Mosaics Release Debut EP
– London Musical Duo, Hunter As A Horse Drop Debut Album Wishful Thinking
Top Indie Music Releases and Artist for Week Two of August 2013
– Releases from Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo; Polyphonic Spree; and Medicine
– Ozzie Psych Rock Giant Pond Releases Fifth Album, Hobo Rocket To Critical Acclaim
– Singles from Lumerians, Summer Cannibals, Superhumanoids and Others
– Listen to exciting new singles from album by Minks, Jack Bellows and The Delta Mirror
– Find out how The Polyphonic Spree Made Their Latest Album and Hear The Single
– Under The Radar Bands Pop. 1280 and Running Drop New Albums With Great Lead Singles
– New Releases from Sweet Alps, Should We Run, Oh My Hear, Whiskey Reverb and Windbreaker , Out Now
The first official week for August releases by popular and well-known indie artists and bands was thin by all accounts. But that is not a surprise one bit. August is historically a slow month for new releases from record labels basically for the same reason that your favorite TV shows are in re-runs – it’s summer, and many people are just too busy with other things.
By the time August rolls around, many summer lovers are earnestly trying to squeeze everything they can out of the remaining days of summer. And now that time has come again. The following is a full report of the top album releases in the first two weeks of August, represented by lead singles from popular indie bands to incredibly talented under-the-radar musicians.
Singles from Heaven, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Family Crest, T. Hardy Morris
As far as more widely recognized indie bands, the top picks for the first week of August include Brooklyn dream pop/new wave indie band Heaven and the album Telepathic Love; acclaimed artist Michael Franti & Spearhead‘s new album of mixed hip-hop, funk, reggae, rock, and folk music; San Francisco orchestra pop outfit The Family Crest‘s new single, “Love Don’t Go” from the EP, The Headwinds, and last, but certainly not least, Dead Confederate frontman T. Hardy Morris‘ solo debut that KEXP in Seattle aptly described as a “more heartfelt album that’s heavier on twang but still maintains a touch of DC’s psych rock flair.”
“Telepathic Love” – Heaven from Telepathic Love on Goodnight Records
“I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” – Michael Franti & Spearhead from All People on Capitol Records
“Love Don’t Go” – The Family Crest from The Headwinds EP on Tender Loving Empire
“OK Corral” – T. Hardy Morris from Audition Tapes on Dangerbird Records
After many hours of reviewing, researching, listening, coding and writing, the top DIY, under-the-radar and small label singles, EPs and LPs for the first week of August include those from San Diego DIY Barbarian; the ‘super-group’ collective Future Wife, led by acclaimed playright Young Jean Lee; new London dream pop duo Hunter As A Horse; experimental/folktronica duo, Mosaics, based in San Francisco; the promising Minneapolis synth pop band, Step Rockets; and the talented, and still under-the-radar songwriter, musician and vocalist Stuart Newman, who we first featured in 2009.
The first block of DIY artists with new releases dropped in August features Egadz; Null Device, and Lights At Night.
Top DIY Releases and Artists for Week One of August 2013
Because there were few releases from more well-known and popular indie and alternative rock artists and bands in the first week of August, the spotlight largely turns to the talented DIY and under-the-radar releases instead, including experimental multi-instrumentalist Erik Nava, better known as Egadz. He just released his newest offering of electro-pop songs mixed with sound effects, video game clips and more, via his self-released album, Satellites. The techno/house mix single, “Giant Steps,” stood out as one of the top singles of the week.
In addition to DIY artist like Egadz, there are terrific singles released during the first week of August from other DIY bands like Madison electronic artist Null Device, who draw heavily from their idols Depeche Mode and OMD, and the St. Petersburg, Florida band Lights at Night, who dropped their self-titled debut album on July 30th.
“Giant Steps” – Egadz from Satellites – July 30th
San Diego’s Barbarian Releases New EP, City of Women
A San Diego band that we have posted about before, Barbarian, released their new EP on July 30th, City of Women, that includes the two terrific singles below. The songs are fine examples that illustrate the band’s musical skills and range, and their boldness to take risks by experimenting with different forms as the track “I Wanna Be Your T.V.” demonstrates with its psychedelic influences pushed to the limits. Members Andrew Mills (vocals/guitar) and Seton Edgerton (lead guitar) formed Barbarian in 2011 with a handful of home demos created in a salty seaside bedroom studio.
With the addition of Dan Nichols (keys), Andrew Harner (drums) and Phil Dupasquier, the band has “conjured a hypnotic live show with slithering fuzz and walls of reverb. The sound of Barbarian blends 60’s garage rock with 80’s opportunist minimalism and frozen caves with quick peeks of rainbow rhythms.” Barbarian has opened for The Growlers, Allah Las, Akron/Family, Yellow Ostrich, Parquet Courts, and Hundred Waters and list their major musical influences as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Pulp, Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division, and Serge Gainsbourg.
“Song of Love and Hate” – Barbarian from City of Women EP – July 30th
“I Wann Be Your T.V.” – Barbarian from City of Women EP
English Artist Stuart Newman’s Single, “The Whiskey”
The first time we featured singer/songwriter and musician, Stuart Newman in 2009, there was a pretty good response to his music. We’re including a song, “Feel The Temperature Rising,” from his 2010 album, Studio Demos, because we missed it originally, and it’s an excellent track that sounds a bit Radioheadish. More recently, on August 1st, the Bristol, England artist dropped a superb new single, “The Whiskey,” a melodic folk pop song with an acoustic flair, reverb, soft vocals, and a few nicely done hooks. The song sounds like it could be a 70’s A.M. radio staple, in a good way (IF the title was something like “Marshmellows and Raindrops”).
DIY Band Future Wife Includes Heavy Weight Collaborators
Not to be confused with the indie band Future Wives, the DIY project Future Wife is actually a collective of collaborating, and well respected musicians, headed by Young Jean Lee, songwriter, vocalist, and producer. Other musicians who contributed significantly to the recording of We’re Gonna Die, the collective’s debut, include Michael Hanf, Andrew Hoepfner, Nick Jenkins, Benedict Kupstas, and Booker Stardrum (cool name, huh?).
But the project is even more expansive and involves even more contributors, including a host of well-known artists, some of whom read monologues (that are part of the critically acclaimed live show, We’re Gonna Die, and delegated to Lee) or made musical contributions to the recording of the album, such as David Byrne (Talking Heads); Adam Horovitz (aka, Ad-Rock); experimental artist Laurie Anderson (who is married to Lou Reed); Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill; Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin); Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt (Matmos); Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire) and Colin Stetson.
“I’m Gonna Die” – Future Wife from We’re Gonna Die (self-released)
Promising New Band Step Rockets Drop Second Single
Another DIY band that stood out in the first week of August was the indie synth pop outfit Step Rockets from Minneapolis. Formed in 2012, Step Rockets have been making strides in the past year thanks to songs like the incredibly catchy, sing-along track, “Kisser,” which has the makings of an indie pop hit. The song demonstrates the band’s appreciation for various styles of music, and their talents as songwriters and musicians to use their influences to create their own signature sound. “We love combining EDM and world music elements into a psychedelic modern rock combination,” vocalist and guitarist Josh Von Mink told IRC.
Step Rockets take their music seriously and there is a considerable amount of thinking and conceptualizing that goes into their work, even though they have only two songs at the moment. “We see music as a high form of art and work hard at being the best musicians we can be while exploring other cultures and ideas in order to find new inspiration,” Mink said. “Kisser” has elements of synth pop, new wave, chillwave and classic rock. Mink said the band members’ biggest musical influencs include Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekend, Smashing Pumpkins, Miike Snow, and Pink Floyd, to name just a few. No word about when to expect a debut EP or LP.
“Kisser” – Step Rockets from single release
San Francisco Duo Mosaics Drops Debut EP
One of the first things that caught out attention about the San Francisco duo Mosaics was that they listed Michael Hedges as a top musical influence. Hedges is a largely overlooked, but immensely talented guitarist. His influence, a unique style of guitar playing and striking notes, is evident on Mosaics’ ambient, freak folktronica music. The duo is a collaborative project of producer and instrumentalist Tyler Hill and vocalist and guitarist Devon Kelts. The duo blend acoustic guitar and electronica elements, pushing the boundaries of music as the single “Divided By” demonstrates. The single is from the duo’s self-titled debut EP, released on August 5th. In addition to Hedges, the duo also consider Yeasayer, NIN, Apparat, Radiohead and Alt-J as their top musical influences.
Radar Love: U.K. Duo Hunter As A Horse
Another duo, the London dream pop duo, Hunter As A Horse, featuring Paul Gala and Mia Bartell, formed only a year go, but they sound like seasoned pros who’ve been together for a decade or more. Well, it turns out that the duo are indeed no newbies to the music scene. Originally having met in Johannesburg in 2002, the pair moved to London to pursue their mutual interest in music.
During the ensuing decade, they wrote for, and produced, a number of artists, especially in the thriving electronica scene. But after 10 years of writing songs for others, they decided to strike out on their own and formed Hunter as a Horse last year. The duo is influenced by an eclectic cultural collectanea, including Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Stephen King, Nina Simone, Chopin, Clive Barker, and Black Moth Super Rainbow. After listening to their gorgeous single, “We Will Meet Again,” at least a half dozen times, as well as other songs from Magical Thinking, Hunter As A Horse are poised to break out. The duo’s songwriting, compositions, vocal and instrument abilities, coupled with recording and mixing skills, clearly demonstrate they possess a classy artistry worthy of greater recognition.
“We Will Meet Again” – Hunter As A Horse from Magical Thinking – Aug. 1st
“Visions” – Hunter As A Horse from Magical Thinking
There were a few one-man band projects that pretty much no one has ever heard of that released new LPs and EPs on August 5th. Rather than including them in this post, we decided to group them with a couple of other one-man bands that have crossed our desks in recent weeks, such as Dangerous Cans, the latest artist to be featured in the One-Man Bands profile and playlist series that has been running for three years now.
That does it for the first week of August. Dive in for the goodies for the second week of August. If you like a song so much you want to add it to your own collection, you can right click and save the MP3.
Second Week: Explosions in the Sky, The Polyphonic Spree, Pond, Minks and Others
The second week of releases for August 2013 – spanning August 6th to August 12th – featured new albums from popular indie and alt. bands like Minks, Explosions in the Sky, The Polyphonic Spree, Superhumanoids, Pond, Pop. 1280, Running, Jack Bellows, and Dinosaur Bones, among others, and many DIY artists and bands that do not have the widespread name recognition that the former have.
Explosions in the Sky Soundtrack Project; LA’s Medicine and Barbarossa
Indie space rock group Explosions in the Sky teamed up with composer David Wingo to score the soundtrack for director David Gordon Green’s “absurd, hilarious and strangely moving” (Austin Statesmen) new film, Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. The trailer above that features some of the music.
After an 18-year separation, the members of the Los Angeles rock band Medicine reformed this year to record their first album in two decades, To The Happy Few, via Captured Tracks. The cacophonous, shoegaze-oozing lead single, “It’s Not Enough,” is a semi-experimental, semi-structured wall of noise, characterized by disarray and confusion set by menacing, crackling distortion from electric guitars sporadically clashing with mismatched notes and time signatures of other instruments, leading to a state of utter sonic chaos shattered by virtual hammer blows, creating various fragments that are, for a brief time, sloppily and hurriedly hacked and spliced back together for an end result that is nothing less than a long, strange trip. Following Medicine is the new track, “Turbine” from Barbarossa‘s new album, Bloodlines.
“Join Me On My Avalanche” – Explosions In The Sky & David Wingo from Prince Avalanche: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on Temporary Residence Ltd.
Ozzie Psych Garage Rock Stars POND Release Fifth Album, Hobo Rocket
POND fans would have been happy enough listening to the Perth, Australia band’s 2012 masterpiece LP, Beard, Wives, Denim, for at least a couple of years – simply because it is so good – before they started getting grumpy for newer material. In fact, Beard, Wives, Denim, even though it was preceded by three LPs, was the breakout album for the Ozzie band, prompting NME, the leading rock authority in the U.K. for the past five decades, to proclaim Pond “the hottest band in the world.”
But the band did not rest on their laurels. They got to work on their fifth album, Hobo Rocket, late last year, and continued recording, mixing and mastering into the early months of 2013, releasing the finished product on August 13th to eagerly awaiting fans. The kudos came streaming in immediately across the globe, from old and new fans, critics and bloggers, hailing Hobo Rocket as a fantastic follow-up to their 2012 break-through release. We could not agree more with the widespread acclaim Hobo has received thanks to stunningly magnificent singles like “Xanman,” “Giant Tortoise,” (move over, Jack White) “O Dharma” and “Whatever Happened to The Million Head Collider?” No doubt Hobo Rocket will be on the best album lists of many bloggers when the year-end reviews come out.
“Xanman” – POND from Hobo Rocket on Modular
Prior to the album’s release, POND member Nick Allbrook wrote: “[Hobo Rocket‘s] good for all occasions! Carpark headbanging, frat-parties, falling backwards off of not-quite-fatally high balconies, weddings, bar mitzvahs… hell, you could even chuck it on whilst making love to yr old lady, why not?”
For those of you late to the POND party, the Down Under group consists of two current members – Jay Watson and Cam Avery – of the powerhouse psychedelic pop band Tame Impala as well as ex-member, Nick Allbrook, along with newer members, Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry. Not many musicians are members of two incredibly popular bands at the same time.
While they distance themselves a bit more from the unavoidable Tame Impala comparison with the release of Hobo, POND members are still just as much the incredibly talented and spirited psychedelic garage rock and glam rock artists on Hobo Rocket as they were on Beards, Wives, Denim. The difference, however, is that Hobo rocks harder, which the band confirmed months earlier when they told NME it would be a “full on crazy fiend rock and roll album.”
Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Lumerians, Superhumanoids, Summer Cannibals and Walking Papers
Top singles for the week of August 6th include the silly, but deliciously pop infected, single, “Chairman Meow” (and a spin on the historic Chinese revolutionary leader, Chairman Mao) by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion; next, the Lumerians wild and weird psychedelic pop single, “Dogon Genesis”; the sweet, dreamy synth pop of LA trio Superhumanoids on “Bad Weather,” and the punk pop track, “Wear Me Out” from Summer Cannibals’ new album, No Makeup, followed by the lead single, “Leave Me In The Dark,” from Walking Papers‘ self-titled debut album.
“Chairman Meow” – Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion from Wassaic Way on Route 8 Records
“Dogon Genesis” – Lumerians from The High Frontier on Partisan Records
“Wear Me Out” – Summer Cannibals from No Makeup on New Moss Records
“Leave Me In The Dark” – Walking Papers from Walking Papers on Loud & Proud Records
“Bad Weather” – Superhumanoids from Exhibitionists on Innovative Leisure
New Music from Minks, Jack Bellows and The Delta Mirror
Without question, Minks dropped one of the second of week of August’s most anticipated releases, their sophomore album, Tides End, featuring “Everything’s Fine,” as the lead single. There were over 500 hearts for this track on Soundcloud. We haven’t had time to review the entire album the number of times it takes (between three to five times) to comment further with confidence, but we can say that Jack Bellows is an artist that we think is overlooked. The other track, “Frequency” is one of the best, and most memorable, electric guitar rock songs, complete with a blazing hot solo, we’ve heard all summer. Here is the lead single, “All Right Now.”
“Everything’s Fine” – Minks from Tides End on Captured Tracks
“All Right Now” – Jake Bellows from New Ocean on Saddle Creek
The Delta Mirror offers up a respectable cover of the Q Lazzarus song, “Goodbye Horses,” with a back beat that sounds at times like a metallic whip, plus, bold, rhythmic bass playing coupled with distorted guitar riffs embedded with layered in loops, and reverb-heavy vocals and choruses. The song plods along for six minutes, much of the time looping through the same three-second verse again and again, while the overall composition pauses, speeds up, slows down and changes its skin numerous times. It’s very much like a metamorphosis through music. Here’s the original “Goodbye Horses” track that you can compare to The Delta Mirror’s new single is featured on the band’s latest album, Better Unsung, released by Lightwave Records on August 6th.
“Goodbye Horses” (Q Lazzarus cover) – The Delta Mirror from Better Unsung on Lightwave Records
The Polyphonic Spree’s Kickstarter Campaign Funds Fifth LP
Dallas chamber pop band, The Polyphonic Spree, pull together electric guitars, bass, drums, horns, violins, synths, and backup singers on the psych pop single, “You Don’t Know Me.” The song is marked by wailing guitars, a driving, uptempo beat, an especially rhythmic bass line all layered in with the horns, strings and keys and lead singer Tim DeLaughter’s half-speaking/half-singing vocals. In “You Don’t Know Me” music video, the band members are all wearing the same shirt that looks like a combination of pajamas with Hawaiian designs and psychedelic tie-dye patterns. The Polyphonic Spree’s new album, Yes It’s True, is the band’s fifth full-length album since their 2002 debut, The Beginning Stages of…The Polyphonic Spree.
Last November, just a few days after Thanksgiving, the band reached their goal of raising $100,000 on Kickstarter to record the album. At first glance, we thought something was really not right about that because an album costs right about between $10,000 to $30,000. However, we then found out that in addition to the new album, the $100K is reportedly also going to support their new tour and the costs to produce, record, mix and distribute a live album and concert DVD of the current tour.
“You Don’t Know Me” – The Polyphonic Spree from Yes It’s True on Kirtland Records
Under The Radar Bands Pop. 1280 and Running
The new-to-us band Pop. 1280 deliver the hard-rock single, “Human Probe,” even though the chorus sounds like the vocalist is singing “Un-i-corn” (at least to us) which would have been strange by itself because it wouldn’t exactly match up. Castle Face recording artist Running take it up a couple of notches with an onslaught of blazing guitar, rapid fire bass and relentless drumming on the two minute instrumental, “Controversial PR.” Among the more well-known and popular indie artists with new albums out this week, include the band Pond. The band unleashes on the single, “Xanman,” a semi-psychedelic grunge romp of glit and grit, heavily flanked by late 60s-style rhythm and blues rock. Perhaps the best thing about indie rock is that it allows artists and bands to experiment with blending various styles of music, bending and breaking the ‘rules,’ and coming up with terrific tracks like “Xanman.”
“Human Probe” – Pop. 1280 from Imps of Perversion on Sacred Bones Records
“Controversial PR” – Running from Vaguely Ethnic on Castle Face Records
Top DIY Releases – Week Two of August 2013
Now for our favorite part of the weekly releases – select new singles and albums from DIY, under-the-radar and ready-to-break-out indie artists and bands, many of which have not, until now, received any significant exposure in the indie blogosphere. This turns out to be another great playlist of “rarely heard” singles released in the second week of August. Again and again, we are amazed by the wealth of remarkable musical talent across America, and around the world, that too often goes unnoticed and otherwise gets lost in the noise and domination of the global mainstream music machine (GMMM). The monster machine pumps hundreds of millions of dollars a year into worldwide production, advertising, marketing, promotion, social media, cable and on and on. They own and control thousands of radio stations, newspapers, magazines, cable networks, and even blogs. And yet so often, the music we hear from unknown artists with little or no publicity or promotion behind them, is artistically superior to much of the over-produced, ‘heard-it-before’, played out, and even embarrassing, junk that clutters up the radio and television airwaves and other mass media outlets controlled by the GMMM. That’s OK though – it gives us even more reason to work hard to bring authentically awesome music from totally obscure and little known artists that have a whole bunch of talent that needs to be chronicled. And that’s what we’ll keep doing.
Releases from DIY Artists Sweet Alps, Should We Run and Oh My Heart
The Ottawa DIY post-hardcore band, Sweet Alps, released the lo-fi album, Sweet Ass Demos, on August 6th, featuring the gritty punk rock track, “Ghost Metropolis.” Since forming last year as the result of a dissolution of two other bands, Sweet Alps have opened for bands like The Amalgamation, Legion of Saints, Steve Gardiner, Cody Allen, September Crush, and Animal Confession, and consider their biggest musical influences At The Drive In, Sleater-Kinney, Engine Down and Mother Mother.
“Ghost Metropolis” – Sweet Alps from Sweet Ass Demos – Aug. 6th
Bonus: “Tick/Talk” – Sweet Alps from Sweet Ass Demos
Other DIY artists with new releases that dropped in the second week of August include San Francisco indie duo Should We Run, featuring Krishan Abeyatunge and Katie Jay Baer and another San Francisco Bay Area band, Oh My Heart, dropped their self-titled debut EP on August 10th, featuring the standout single, “All Day Long.” Plus, check out singles from new DIY albums – dropped between August 6th and August 12th – by Buffalo alternative rock and soul band Whiskey Reverb;
Dallas band Chin’s Mojo 80’s-style rock single, “House of Sticks,” from the album Man O’ War; and Boston DIY artist Darin Thompson, who uses the moniker Windbreaker. Thompson’s new single, “I Can’t Believe That You’re Gone,” dropped August 12th, and was inspired by the recent passing of his best friend.
“Dimensions in My Crown” – Should We Run from Safer In The Sky – Aug. 6th
“All Day Long” – Oh My Heart from Oh My Heart EP – Aug. 9th
“House of Sticks” – Chin’s Mojo from Man ‘O War – Aug. 9th
“Something Good” – Whiskey Reverb from Something Good – Aug. 8th
“I Can’t Believe That You’re Gone” – Windbreaker from I Can’t Believe That You’re Gone 7″ – Aug. 12th
That’s all folks for Volume One, featuring two weeks of the best indie and DIY releases all in one playlist. Now stay tuned for Vol. II to finish out the month of music for August 2013. We sure hope you enjoyed this and came across some great music.
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