This is the latest installment of 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear; the last ‘7 Bands’ was published in June. Another terrific series, with amazing bands making first-rate music, is a variation called 7 Overseas Bands You’ve Gotta Hear. Both series have been incredibly popular, and thus, the newest installment with: Australian funky R&B band, Gang of Brothers; Baltimore orchestra pop band Sun Club; Boston electro dance band, The Bynars; St. Louis indie rock band The Union Electric; Los Angeles indie pop trio Kid Cadaver; London tropical rock band Crash Island; and Los Angeles pop band Ocelot Robot.
Gang of Brothers – Sydney, Australia
A new Australia that crossed our radar with a submission of two singles is the soulful, R&B, funky band Gang of Brothers from Sydney. They blew us away with their retro late 60’s, early 70’s sounds. The first track “Get Up On Ya Feet N’ Testify” is a straight out, fast moving, big bouncing R&B and soul music extravaganza that sounds so so good that if these guys were around 40 years ago, they could have been competition for Sly and the Family Stone – for reals. Do not suppress your urge to get up and dance it out because if there is one song in this playlist that should get you moving, it’s definitely this one. Eat your heart out Sly. No wonder that the single has been No. 1 on some online charts (they didn’t tell us which ones though) for weeks.
With one exception, they really are a gang of brothers, and it came as no surprise when we read more about them that they all were born into, and raised around, music. Brothers Andro, Dauno, Fenix and Banel Martinez hail from “the prestigious musical” Martinez family (Martinez Akustica). On drums and lead vocals is a brother to the family (not genetically though) Buddy Siolo, whose talents have taken him around the globe to perform, and we can certainly see why.
While the band remains unsigned, MGM is in charge of their distribution. All we can say about that is they should have a big-time distributor because they belong in the big time. While there is yet no indication of when a debut album should be expected, we at least hope that it is coming soon. Gang of Brothers have also performed at a number of jazz and rock festivals in Australia and New Zealand; somebody needs to book them to perform at a festival in the U.S. if they can bring it like they do on “Get Up On Ya Feet N’ Testify.”
The second track the band sent us, “She’s Gone,” is the polar opposite, a much slower, heartfelt track that furthers the band’s status as an excellent soul and funk band the soul is still there. Even though we know otherwise, it’s still hard to sink in that these cats are from Sydney – they sound like they’d be from New York, Philly, LA, Oakland, Chicago or some other big U.S. music city with a tradition of soul, R&B and funk. But the fact that they’re from Australia, you gotta say, is even more impressive.
“Get Up On Ya Feet N’ Testify” – Gang of Brothers from Gang of Brothers – Sept. 8th
“She’s Gone” – Gang of Brothers from Gang of Brothers
Sun Club – Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore band Sun Club creates upbeat indie orchestral pop tunes with flourishing, bright instrumentation, a series of musical stops and starts along with delirious stomping, joyful ohh-ohh choruses, melodic hooks and animal calls and howls (“Language Juice”) reminiscent of Brad Oberhofer (of Oberhofer). We knew that someday we’d hear someone else emulate Oberhofer’s wild howls he so wonderfully mixed into his songs dating back to when we were the first blog to publish his demos in 2009, and part of what catapulted he and his band’s popularity.
Sun Club, formed in 2012, live up to their name; their songs are sunny, shiny and deliciously upbeat. They have toured as far north as Toronto and as far south as Austin. In May of 2012 the band released their debut LP and now they’re following up with this new double-track 7″ release. Sun Club has opened for bands like The Spinto Band, Fang Island, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Morning Teleportation, The Weeks, and The Front Bottoms, and count among their biggest influences The Beach Boys and Animal Collective.
“Beauty Meat” – Sun Club from Beauty Meat/Language Juice 7″ – Sept. 24th
“Language Juice” – Sun Club from Beauty Meat/Language Juice 7″
The Bynars – Boston, Massachusetts
Put on your dancing shoes for the undeniably addictive electro pop dance single, “Dancing on a Dream,” from the Boston DIY band The Bynars. As with do with all posts featuring talented new artists and bands that are inexplicably under the radar for too long, we’ll watch the feedback and numbers to see how all of you take to this promising new band. Their sophomore album, X vs. X, officially dropped on September 17th. Good thing is that, judging the reactions of friends of the cafe, the cloak of obscurity is lifting off of The Bynars. In listening to X vs. X, we get the sense that this band is going to start breaking out soon.
“Dancing on a Dream” – The Bynars from X vs. X – Sept. 17th
It’s not really clear how to put a genre on the album’s second track, “Tired of Hooking Up With You,” featuring ATM. It’s a beat pop framework – that’s the best way to put it – with rolling waves of 80’s new wave synth coupled with 80’s electric guitar riffs, as if Prince, OMD and Eddie Van Halen were put into a blender. There are times, on standout songs like “All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun Tonight,” that you link you hear some Passion Pit, MGMT and New Order, but the truth is, and it becomes clear (although ultimately not) as you progress through each track that this band thrives off of experimental and taking a dabble from the spectrum of music genres to create an original, and interesting, musical journey. On “All I Wanna Do…” a nearly 12-minute track, the band breaks out into an interesting and colorful free form-style jam somewhat characteristic of jazz jams, as well as some late 1960’s and early 1970’s rock, where players and their instruments, in intervals lead the song and step into the spotlight for a couple of minutes.
“All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun Tonight” – The Bynars from X vs. X
The Union Electric – St. Louis, Missouri
The Union Electric, a St. Louis DIY band, has released four 7″s and their debut LP, Time Is Gold (2011), since their 2009 inception. Time Is Gold was the first record on the Rankoutsider label to make the CMJ Radio 200 chart. The band has previously opened for artists like Deer Tick, Dax Riggs, Murder By Death, Puerto Muerto, and Gringo Starr, and their influences include Woody Guthrie, Nick Cave, Handsome Family, Richard Buckner, and Calexico.
“Words That Maketh Murder” – The Union Electric from Cover Charge – Sept. 24th
“April 8th” – The Union Electric from Cover Charge
Kid Cadaver – Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles alternative pop rock trio Kid Cadaver, has been on regular rotation in the cafe for weeks. The band members all grew up in San Fernando Valley area and got together in 2010 thanks to friends. According to their profile, they “draw inspiration from girls, dread growing older, mask their emotions, and are constantly seeking to maximize their fun.” Kid Cadaver released their debut EP, New Modern, in September 2011 and just dropped their sophomore, self-titled EP on September 23rd. The band has previously opened for bands like The Black and The White and Escondido and listed their top musical influences as Passion Pit, MGMT, Grimes, Bad Suns, Vampire Weekend, and Tokyo Police Club.
“Stable” – Kid Cadaver from Kid Cadaver EP – Sept. 23rd
“Stick Around” – Kid Cadaver from Kid Cadaver
Crash Island – London, England
Dark tropical indie rock from London comes to us from the unsigned band Crash Island. The band gathers indie punk ethos with 80’s nostalgic synths, reggae rhythms and melodic vocal lines. They have so far played in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and France. Their debut studio EP, Strange Shores, was mixed by the famous Strokes‘ producer Gordon Raphael in Seattle and Buenos Aires, and released on October 21st. Crash Island’s top influences include Fatboy Slim, We Heart Sharks, Jack Savoretti, The Clash, College, !!! and Bloc Party.
“Loved Ones” – Crash Island from em>Strange Shores
“Across The Skyline” – Crash Island from em>Strange Shores
Ocelot Robot – Los Angeles, California
Their music has the unmistakably, easily-identifiable Los Angeles pop rock sound – sunny, sugary, meticulously produced and engineered pop geared for radio. It’s LA; they can’t help themselves. It’s just interesting how we can listen to a band for the first time, and without even looking up where they’re from, be able to gamble high that it’s an LA band. Those of you (and it’s probably most of you) that really know your music spanning decades will have no trouble hearing what we’re talking about 30 to 45 seconds into Ocelot Robot’s single, “Back To Buffalo,” which, by the way, is a great song, even though it’s not our usual fare; we don’t usually like overly produced music, but in this case, it works, and therefore deserves a mention for listeners’ to make up their own minds.
If you’re at all open to giving a band that is molded from the LA/Hollywood pop studio a shot, or listening to it in dribs and drabs here and there every once in a blue moon, you might just dig Ocelot Robot because they do it well. Additional evidence that this is a LA manufactured, refined and marketed “brand band” comes from their own bio in which they take pride in announcing that their 2010 debut album, Ready to Go, “garnered over 40 placements in TV and film as well as corporate relationships with Leo Burnett and GBX Shoe.” Most definitely that was written by their publicist and not the band.
But perhaps not a very good publicist because the next line of the bio strikes us as a bit over the top, and incredibly odd: “Ocelot Robot was recently chosen to perform at their own album release party on September 26, 2013 at Molly Malone‘s in Los Angeles, CA. Many other bands were considered for the honor, but in the end it just made more sense to have Ocelot Robot play since they are the ones releasing a new album.”
Huh? Um, duh, how in the world is that tradition some kind of special recognition? We think this shows that the band is too entrenched in the LA/Hollywood music culture, and how much of a product of the machine they have been since their founding. In fact, we can’t remember the last time we had a submission in which the entire profile of the band was heavily marketing oriented to the point that they boast about being a product of the machine rather than dudes who love music and could give a shit about (or would be mortified) ever having even one ‘placement,’ let alone “40.”
One aspect of the LA manufactured radio pop band that they really goofed up on though is their name. Who even knows how to say it or what it means. SEriously. Band branding 101 is you get an easy to remember, easy to say, catchy and identifiable name with a teenager twist like, who know, The Morning Stars or The Spring Breakers, or whatever (fill in your own here, lol; we don’t like like LA pop makers).
Interestingly – and yet so far off the mark that it’s to be scoffed at and to cause one to roll their eyes and blurt out “bullshit” – the band (or maybe just a rogue publicist popping way too many Prozacs), in their profile, categorizes their genre as “rowdy rock” – mind you, not only did they include this erroneous descriptor in their bio itself, they actually put it in the box where band’s type in their music genre.
Of all the possible things, the label, ‘rowdy rock,’ is the last thing (second to last; original would be the very last) we’d ever think of when listening to Ocelot Robot. Come on. Cut the bull. First, their music is too safe, neatly packaged, tightly structured, perfectly engineered and overly commercialized to even be anywhere in the vicinity of the ‘rowdy’ galaxy (if there was one). Secondly, their sound is, again, and sorry to be repetitious, redundantly polished LA radio “pop,” not what we would classify as rock, and certainly as many light years from ‘rowdy rock’ as they could possibly be. Rowdy and rock apply to gritty garage rock punk bands that destroy hotel rooms and nearly cause riots at their shows. Earth to Ocelot Robot: Drop the “rowdy rock” label – it fits you about as well as Tinker Bell’s slipper fits on Dumbo’s foot (elephants don’t have paws, right?)
Anyways, that was definitely a burn or a slam or whatever you want to call it. We’re trying to keep it real and to tame our inner critic that would otherwise mercilessly tear them apart limb by limb for being a cookie-cutter, radio-oriented Green Day knock-off to the LA mainstream music parade machinery. Seriously, the ‘rowdy rock’ thing has to go. And you’re welcome guys.
On a more positive note, a little bit of the overly-produced and engineered LA radio pop sound is OK from time to time (and there’s nothing wrong with music fans who love that sound as there are obviously enough of them that it keeps being made) especially if it’s done well, which we think these guys do accomplish. It’s also likely that some of you will really dig this band and the songs included, which is part of why we decided to feature them. We hope this is a good lesson in what is not indie rock, and also demonstrates that we’re willing to stretch beyond the indie and alternative domain into other domains, but not much, nor often because there are certainly way more than enough DIY, under the radar and overlooked artists and bands to keep us busy for 100 years. It’s not surprising at all that they listed Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Butch Walker and Two Door Cinema as some of their top influences. The band has opened for bands like Attaloss, 100 Monkeys, Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, among others.
“Back to Buffalo” – Ocelot Robot from Etheldo – Sept. 26th
“Undercover” – Ocelot Robot from Etheldo