The Bands That Rock profile and playlist series has been one of the most popular playlist series on Indie Rock Cafe over the past couple of years. This new edition of Bands That Rock features mostly DIY bands, but they all do one thing the same – they rock out with the kind of raw rock power we love. But most of these bands are practically unknown and under the radar. Not anymore. With so many electronics, samples, synths, drum machines, and so on in so much music these days (and plenty of it that is terrific and featured on IRC regularly), it is more important than ever for hard-working, talented, and original rock bands – that pay tribute to the roots of hard rock – to get the notice they deserve.
Lions For Real – Nashville, Tennessee
For the past couple of years, Lions for Real, a gritty, high energy rock band based in Nashville, have been making in-roads within the emerging alternative rock scene of a city long associated with country music. As the band members worked hard at honing their sound and paying their dues, Lions For Real was booked as the opening band for shows from popular bands like Cage the Elephant, Little Big Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gov’t Mule, and Brother Cane. The members of Lions For Real include among their top influences artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.
Lions For Real’s raw, melodic, and excitingly original sound, apparent on songs like “It’s On” and “The Movement.” In the two years since their formation, the band has been gaining attention from industry insiders from New York City to Los Angeles – including Hollywood-based record label, Werewolf Heart Records (Ryan Gosling’s Dead Man’s Bones, Ima Robot), who signed Lions For Real briefly in 2012. When that partnership fell apart, Lions for Real decided they preferred to go at it DIY-style, and subsequently released their debut EP, Heathens, in July of 2013.
“The Movement” – Lions for Real from Heathens
“It’s On” – Lions for Real from Heathens
Tijuana Bullfight – Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles hard rock band, Tijuana Bullfight, known in the LA music scene as the band to popularize what is referred to as the “SoCal Sludge sound,” will release their sophomore album, aptly titled Southern California, in February. TBF’s latest album demonstrates the significant experience and contributions of core band members Anthony Binikos and Mark Atienza to the southern California ‘sludge’ sound with clever fusions of southern California rock, punk, metal and indie.
“With so many clubs and promoters in LA mashing different styles of music,” Atienza told IRC, “we had to cater to a different audience at every show; it evolved from there. LA is a big mash pot of different styles of fashion, music, art and lifestyle, kinda [sic] like one big ‘sludge.'” Recently the band put out a cover version of the Psychedelic Furs’ track, “Heaven.”
The band’s ability to answer the demand for a mashed, multi-genre hard rock sound, and to do so in a completely original way, with their famously raw, dynamic and powerful sound, have made Tijuana Bullfight popular and influential within LA’s booming rock scene, and led to bookings with bands like Ween, The Cramps, Ratt, Palo Alto, Cage 9, The Dollrots, Kittie, Revolver, Skinnie, and One Size Zero.
It wasn’t until the release of the band’s 2012 double-single, “Fat Baby/Red Head,” that we were introduced to the band. Even though they formed in 2003, Southern California is only the band’s second album. But like their debut, it’s busting out with rip-curling energy and gusto. Among the band’s top musical influences include artists like Bad Brains, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Failure, Beatles, Rolling Stones, QOTSA, Foo Fighters, Oasis, and Mastadon. Fans of those bands will likely dig TBF’s sounds.
“Desire” – Tijuana Bullfight from Southern California
“Fat Baby” – Tijuana Bullfight from 7″
“Red Head” – Tijuana Bullfight from 7″
One High Five – Long Beach, California
One High Five is a DIY rock and pop punk band from Long Beach,, California. After the band received airplay on Los Angeles’s 106.7 KROQ‘s Locals Only program, they were invited to play their first show at the famous Viper Room, where High Voltage Magazine tweeted: “There’s a party on the stage, and it’s called ‘One High Five!'”
Since then, singer/songwriter David Sauer has taken the party across the United States, overseas to China, and into the ears of rock ‘n rollers on three continents. The music blog, Muse’s Muse, called them a “force to be reckoned with” and Hear Me Out wrote that One High Five “stand out above the rest.”
One High Five’s sound is based in layers of guitars, orchestration and harmonies that combine to create a genre-blending musical adventure, that pay tribute to Sauer’s influences including Green Day, The Beach Boys, NOFX, Superdrag, Electric Light Orchestra and CAKE. His lyrics reflect personal experiences and encourage listeners to challenge themselves and push through battles of hopelessness and despair. The band has opened for artists like Green Jelly, The Wellingtons (Australia), Red Bacteria Vacuum (Japan), and The Steelwells.
Songs are written in Sauer’s head and flushed out with plenty of repetitive thoughts and manic pacing; he records demos at his studio and collaborates with a rotating crew of friends and strangers for the band’s live shows. The fuel that rockets One High Five is Sauer’s value of hard work, passion and resolve. The impact can definitely be felt on their eclectic and energetic debut album, Here, Hear!
“Fully Operational” – One High Five from Here, Hear! – Feb. 19th
“Tear Down the Wall” – One High Five from Here, Hear!
BRUCE! – Wollongong, Australia
Loud blazing guitars, brash rhythms, growling bass lines, aggressive drumming and passionate driving vocals are the pillars of BRUCE, a gritty heavy metal indie rock band from Wollongong, Australia comprised of Michael Curley (vocals /guitar); Mick Brady (vocals /guitar), Luke Armstrong (vocals/ bass) and Elwyn Brindle-Jones (vocals/drums). The band major music influences include Queens of the Stone Age, Turbonegro, The Bronx, Ted Nugent, Regurgitator, and The Misfits.
This four headed beast was born from the ashes of rock trio Hytest (which toured Europe with Nick Oliveri in Mondo Generator back in 2010), and have been honing their craft ever since, resulting in the production of 13 songs recorded with Jonboy Rock at Megaphon Studios in Sydney, which became the band’s self-titled debut album.
“Money And Go” – BRUCE! from BRUCE! – May 2nd
“Someday” – BRUCE! from BRUCE!
Atlas Complex – Miami, Florida
Miami DIY band Atlas Complex was formed by Phillip Bower in 2009. and had a lot of musicians going in and out, until June 2012, when the current line up got together and started weekly jams and writing original material.
In January of 2013, after a couple of local gigs, the quartet decided to record live in the warehouse where they practice, and the first six original tracks were completed and released two weeks later on Atlas Complex’s debut EP, Moon Within. As a totally DIY band, their artwork and website were developed by the band vocalist, Chryz, and the recording, mixing and mastering of the EP was produced by guitarist Phillip Bower. Currently Atlas Complex is working on recording a full LP, and booking more local gigs to continue to grow. The band’s major influences include Nirvana, Tool, Radiohead, NIN, Satriani, and A Perfect Circle.
“Attack” – Atlas Complex from Moon Within – Jan. 12th
“Seattle” – Atlas Complex from Moon Within