This second installment of the Best New DIY of 2015 features a wide diversity of unsigned artists and bands with brand new singles, EPs and albums out now that you’re not likely to hear anywhere else but on IRC. From Brooklyn and Austin to Brisbane and Manchester, the artists and bands in this new playlist post of the best new DIY run the gamut from riff-tearing rock and glittery synth pop to spiraling psychedelic and acoustic folk.
In This Issue
Empire Machines – Austin, Texas
Silas Fermoy – Brooklyn, New York
Voir Voir – Bethelem, Pennsylvania
ONFIILM – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Modern Chair – Auckland, New Zealand
Them Bruins – Melbourne, Australia
DROLL – Boise, Idaho
Disco Fiasco – Oulu, Finland
Selina George – Rockville, Maryland
Concetta Abbate – New York City
Greg Chiapello – Brisbane, Australia
Empire Machines – Animal Skin EP
Empire Machines is a four piece indie rock outfit from the band-saturated, musical breeding ground of Austin. Founded in 2009, the band first gained recognition in the competitive environment of the Texan state capital in 2011 with the release of their self-titled debut EP. We were among the first blogs toback then. Fast-forward to 2015. Without realizing that we had nearly forgotten about them (it’s easy, alas, to forget about bands we love because we hear so many in the course of a year), Empire Machines dropped their follow-up EP, Animal Skin, on February 3rd.
While the three-track Animal Skin has flown largely under the radar just about everywhere else, it clearly reminds us of why we dig the band’s blend of heavily distorted, yet blazing, guitar riffs, catchy alternative rock rhythms, dark psychedelic tones, and big-sounding drums paired with minimalistic melodies on singles like “The Plan” and the EP’s title track.
“I think indie rock spans a bunch of different styles of rock, usually with a tendency to take more creative routes and sounds,” lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Blackwell said. Other band members include Trey McKinley on bass; Matt Reynolds on drums, and Bruce Smith Jr. on lead guitar.
“The Plan“ – Empire Machines from Animal Skin EP
“Animal Skin“ – Empire Machines from Animal Skin EP
Opened For: None provided
Musical Influences: Radiohead, The Beatles, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Arctic Monkeys
Twitter handle: @Empire_Machines
Empire Machines on Facebook
Silas Fermoy – Clouds That Dropped You
After moving from London to California when he was only 16, DIY songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Mash immediately got involved with producing hip hop music in the west. Four years later, he made the cross-continental move to Brooklyn where he began writing songs and playing the guitar. Soon after, he created Silas Fermoy and recruited band members for live shows. With the release of his first EP, Chapters, in 2012, he toured the United States, making a stop in Austin to perform at South By Southwest.
Fast forward to last summer – Mash found himself with a number of new songs that he was eager to get into the studio and record. He recruited former Elefant drummer Kevin Mcadams and producer Jason Cummings (who also played guitar and bass on the EP) of The Cutting Room Studios. That was the starting point for his new EP, Clouds That Dropped You, which features uptempo, melodic pop hooks with dance beats floating on top of warm synths on songs like “Passed Time” and “Feet Wont’ Keep You,” that you’ll find are difficult to get out of your head. His sophomore EP was dropped on February 27th.
“Passed Time“ – Silas Fermoy from Clouds That Dropped You
“Feet Won’t Keep You“ – Silas Fermoy from Clouds That Dropped You
Opened For: Hunter Hunted, Various Cruelties
Musical Influences: The Mary Onettes, Stars, Beach House, Blonde Redhead, The Stills, Delta Spirit
Twitter handle: @Silasfermoy
Silas Fermoy on Facebook
“Indie rock is music that doesn’t follow the basic rules or guidelines of what typical rock should be; it’s produced with an edge and not pulling on the typical strings of “baby left me”/”baby came back”. – Joshua Mash
Voir Voir – There Are No Good Goodbyes
Voir Voir started after it began. In the creativity-fertile Lehigh Valley town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April and Matt Molchany discovered a fitting respite from their previous bands and the summer heat in 2012, writing and practicing songs together, and incorporating tones and textures that were part of their natural and artificial surroundings. The couple’s work remained under wraps even though they drew inspiration from the local DIY music scene.
By 2013, they had recruited a couple of other band members and began recording and performing their demos live after being billed to open for touring bands like Drowners, Slingshot Dakota, and Lewis & Clarke. It was during these performances that the band realized they were moving in the right direction. Thus, they self-released their debut album, There Are No Good Goodbyes, in February. The raw energy and musicianship, the passion and the talent of the DIY band is evident on ‘slacker rock’ songs like the title track and their first single, “I Wanna.”
– Voir Voir from There Are No Good Goodbyes – Feb .27th
– Voir Voir from There Are No Good Goodbyes
Opened For: Drowners, Slingshot Dakota, Lewis & Clarke
Musical Influences: Built to Spill, The Pixies, Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse, Pavement
Voir Voir on Facebook
ONFIILM – Shade Single
ONFIILM is a new DIY post punk duo from Ottawa, Canada, founded by musicians Jordan Craig (vocals, guitar, violin) and Aaron Sager-Yung (guitar) in 2014. At first spin of their new, seven-minute blazing track, “Shade,” it’s not out of the realm of probability that some listeners could think they might be listening to a previously unreleased demo from Jane’s Addiction. But it’s not. It’s ONFIILM.
The pair make no bones about their long-time admiration of Jane’s Addiction’s big, electrifying trademark sound. Nor should they. ONFIILM’s sound is a mix of post punk, shoe gaze, psych rock, and what they call ‘abrasive blues.’ The result is a highly charged sound that the guys contend takes “the listener down a dirty, but sparkling, intergalatic black hole, and into a magical plane of shoe gaze psychedelia. The lyrics are terrestrial, but the vibe is extra. ”
The band released the “Shade” single on February 12th and are preparing to drop their debut EP something in the next few months. In the meantime, the band also sent us a raw, live and unreleased track, “The Good Ones.”
“Shade“ – ONFIILM from Shade 7″
“The Good Ones“ – ONFIILM
Opened For: Country, Alpha Strategy
Musical Influences: Jane’s Addiction, Spacemen 3, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Angels
Twitter handle: @onfiilm
ONFIILM on Facebook
Modern Chair – Tokyo Compression EP
From the mysterious world of New Zealand, rock veterans Wayne Bell and Andrew Thorne recently released a three-track EP, Tokyo Compression, as the newly-formed band Modern Chair, which has demonstrated that these aging-gracefully gents can certainly rock and roll, as evident on the EP’s raucous title track, and the follow-up single, “Vampire Squid.”
After many years of performing on albums and on tour with New Zealand rock royalty such as Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga and Gin Wigmore – opening for artists and bands like Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, The Cure, and Paul McCartney – Bell and Thorne are also studio owners with a long list of TV, commercial and session work to their credit.
“But that’s not necessarily real music,” Thorne said. “Music to me is doing things purely because you like the noise. A Les Paul through some fuzz pedal into an old AC30 [amp] melting your face just feels good.”
Bell chimes in, adding: “We wanted to do something big and driving [with Modern Chair]…if called upon, both of us can play some fairly fiddly stuff on our respective instruments. But, at this stage, that’s pretty much redundant. What’s ultimately satisfying is a groove or a melody that gets stuck in your ear and a band that makes you feel like you’ve arrived home. The modern age seems to be about celebrating individuals in ‘art’. I’d like to think Modern Chair is about celebrating the art in individuals.”
That’s certainly what Auckland‘s newest hard rock duo have achieved with Tokyo Compression. The fuzzy guitar riffs, gritty vocals, scuzzy bass playing, and big-sounding drums are exactly what the duo were aiming for. The EP was recorded and released within two months (during New Zealand’s summer).
“Tokyo Compression (Lets Go Tokyo!)“ – Modern Chair from Tokyo Compression – Feb. 18th
“Vampire Squid“ – Modern Chair from Tokyo Compression
Opened For: None yet; but in previous bands – Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, The Cure, Paul McCartney
Musical Influences: Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, NIN
Twitter handle: @Modern_Chair
Modern Chair official website
Music Video for ‘Tokyo Compression’
Disco Fiasco – Golden Hats
Stepping out of the shadows of obscurity, Oulu, Finland electro rock dance band Disco Fiasco have been making waves in their home country for the past year now. Formed in 2013, they dropped two EPs in less than two years. Fast-forward to now: these young lads have just released their new hip-shaking track, “Chance to Dance,” the second single from their debut album, Golden Hats, released last month. Increasingly a band to watch in Finland, the DIY quintet performed at Finnish music festivals like Qstock (Oulu, FIN) and Buktafestivalen.
It’s almost impossible not to imagine that the album’s title track – with it’s poppy hooks, lush grooves and flourishing keys – sounds somewhat like an 80’s keyboard rock tune from a band that emulates Devo and Duran Duran. Disco Fiasco features Karri Hurskainen on drums; Topi Kilpinen and Joonas Juntunen on guitar; Santeri Koppelo on vocals, and Jami Myllykoski on bass.
– Disco Fiasco from Golden Hats
– Disco Fiasco from Golden Hats
Opened For: None yet
Musical Influences: Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club, Wombats, Satellite Stories, Metallica
Twitter handle: @disco_fiasco
Disco Fiasco on Facebook
Them Bruins – Them Bruins EP
Born nearly three years ago in Melbourne, Australia, the youthful, hard-hitting, and fast-driving garage rock band, Them Bruins, blaze out of the headphones at 100 miles per hour with a relentless inferno of crunchy, raucous guitar riffs from Ben Woodmason; fuzzy, brooding bass lines from Jimmy Campbell; ferocious drumming from Tim Woodmason and wicked, snarling vocals from Joel Griffith, on noisy, chunky tracks like “Walk The Line” and “Black Widow” from the band’s self-titled debut EP. Paying homage, completely in their own distinct way, to idols like Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and The Strokes, Them Bruins are one of the best new overseas DIY rock bands to hit the shores of the United States so far this year, and we can only suspect that they’ll grow in popularity throughout 2015 if all the right pieces fall into place.
“Walk a Line“ – Them Bruins from Them Bruins – Feb. 1st
“Black Widow“ – Them Bruins from Them Bruins
(Watch the “Black Widow“ music video on YouTube)
Opened For: DZ Deathrays, British India, Children Collide, Kingswood, and The Bellrays
Musical Influences: The Strokes, At The Drive In, Bloc Party, Queens of the Stoneage, and Nirvana.
Twitter handle: @ThemBruins
Them Bruins on Facebook
DROLL – A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings)
Situated in Boise, Idaho, DROLL, is a new ‘anti-folk’ musical project of Storie Grubb (guitar, uke, percussion, vocals and harmonica), featuring Matt Vorhies on accordion. On February 1st, DROLL released the magnificently melancholy debut EP, A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings).
We have been really moved by Grubb’s intensely emotive vocals, intriguing story-telling and lyrics, and his sublime, folksy acoustic instrumentation that exudes what sounds like a lifetime of sadness and reflection. There’s something undeniably innocent and beautiful in his song craft; in fact, these songs have really stuck with us, and we’ve played them again and again, which has resulted in us liking them more and more with each spin. He is uniquely his own artist, and while he listed musical influences to include Magnetic Fields, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Grubbs’ stands alone in his own world of musical expression and songwriting.
For example, take into consideration the following verses from the poignant song, “The Land of 2,000 Hands,” which is apparently about a mother who died of a heroin-induced suicide:
She couldn’t come back even if she wanted to…
Momma’s on the window sill,
Cybil’s counting out her pills,
Momma’s thinking, she’s no good for anyone…
– DROLL from A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings)
Prior to dropping A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings), DROLL unassumingly released a five-track, self-titled EP on January 9th via Facebook, featuring tracks like a ukelele and accordion instrumental, “Ode to Zach,” a Nick Drake-like instrumental, “Sing With Me,” and other deep, heart-breaking ‘anti-folk’ compositions like “Names,” “Paycheck to Paycheck” and “Anything,” the latter with lyrics like “Such a sad, stupid thing to fight/you’re beating on my floor/And there’s the chords you took for Bride(?)/he’s beating down my door/No, I won’t be just another fly for you to eat.”
“Names“ – DROLL from A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings)
We don’t know if Grubb is channeling Nick Drake and Elliott Smith – legendary, yet tragic, figures of the ‘sombre folk’ genre – but he sure strikes a chord on song after song that has us reminiscing. The preface to the DROLLS EP on Facebook notes: “…if you’ve ever had a broken heart or lost something you love…”
“I’ve been playing in a rock and roll band for the passed four years and wanted to get back to my roots,” Grubb told IRC, adding that DROLL aims to create “simple, lyrical and melodic music that reflects the many ways I feel about life, war, religion and art…and sometimes love.”
– DROLL from A Durty World (The Bedroom Recordings)
Opened For: None Yet
Musical Influences: Magnetic Fields, Black Francis, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Belle and Sebastian, and Peter Gabriel
DROLL’s on Facebook
Video: An interesting music video for “The Morro Rock, Part One (Like My Father)”.
Selina George – South of The Border
At the age of 20, Rockville, Maryland, singer/songwriter Selina George displays the deep insight and perspective on life that one would expect from someone twice her age. Her gorgeous, yet mysteriously pained, vocals maintain an innocent quality that ironically work well with her lyrics and musicianship. On splendidly beautiful songs like “South of the Border,” George’s lyrics, vocals and musical skills on guitar immediately signal a DIY sensation in the making that is just under the radar, but that we suspect won’t be for long once more people hear her creations. “Who is that?!” we thought, as have other unsuspecting listeners in the cafe. There’s something fitting about the otherwise misplaced samples of exploding fireworks in the background, that intertwine with haunting melodies and lyrics of long distant love denied, that the give the song an arresting allure, while simultaneously conveying the tribulations of an aching heart.
“I speak strictly from the heart, and my songs are very real to me, and everyone who hears them,” George told IRC. “The way I see it, music is my therapy, my release, and my call to action. These songs are my legacy.” George began writing songs and playing guitar when she was 16 years old.
Her musical influences are varied and include artists like Jhene Aiko, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and Pink Floyd. She labels her music in more than one genre – folk, soul, and ‘acoustic mellow.’ On February 21st, George self-released her self-titled debut EP with help from her boyfriend producer, Robin Smith.
“South of the Border“ – Selina George from South of the Border
Opened For: None Yet
Musical Influences: Jhene Aiko, The Beatles, Aluna George, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and Pink Floyd
Twitter handle: @TheSelinaGeorge
Selina George on Facebook
Concetta Abbate – Falling In Time
Calling New York City home, songwriter and singer Concetta Abbate released her debut album, Falling In Time, on February 15th, from which the orchestral pop track, “Thought Thieving Hen,” is taken. It’s a short, but sweet, song track, which is fitting considering the title of the album. The song is also like a tune we could imagine hearing in the Wizard of Oz if the movie were filmed in 2014. There are even more songs – that mix elements of jazz, classical, experimental, pop and electronic – on the album that should be satisfactory to any listeners who are smitten by the single we included in this short review of Abbate’s debut album.
“Thought Thieving Hen“ – Concetta Abbate from Falling In Time, Pocket Sized Songs
Opened For: Archipelago String Quartet, Inti and the Moon, Ember Schrag, Susan Alcorn, Janel and Anthony, Lola and the Wolves
Musical Influences: Bjork, Emiliana Torrini, Karla Khilstedt, Hildegard Von Bingen, Arvo Part
Twitter handle: @concetta.abbate
Concetta Abbate on Facebook
Greg Chiapello – Hot Coffee single
Brisbane musician and Hey Geronimo and Montpelier collaborator, Greg Chiapello, released his debut single “Hot Coffee” on February 4th and announced a national tour of Australia supporting artist Megan Washington.
The joyful track has an addictive charm and hook-heavy chorus, which was one reason it was an IRC Song of the Day. “Hot Coffee” was produced by Brisbane-based producer/session musician Graham Ritchie (Airling, Emma Louise), and engineered by Matt Redlich (Ball Park Music, Hungry Kids Of Hungry, Emma Louise). It’s the perfect tease track for a forthcoming album that we’re looking forward to hearing as soon as it’s dropped.
– Greg Chiapello from Hot Coffee single
Opened For: Megan Washington
Musical Influences: Babaganoü and Montaigne
Twitter handle: @gregchiapello
Soup – Soup EP
The DIY band, Soup, is a Manchester, England indie psychedelic band that rips a page from Syd Barrett‘s tenure with Pink Floyd before Barrett allegedly “lost his mind” by taking too much LSD and was replaced by Roger Waters. The Barrett channelling, if you will, is most apparent on Soup’s track, “Colour Coded,” from the Soup EP, a five-track “introduction to the full 13-track album” that can be streamed here.
“Had I not been asked to be a guest vocalist on what would have been the first Paris Angels‘ album since the early 90s,” Andy Whitaker, lead vocalist and guitarist said, “this project in it’s current incarnation would have never come about.” After Paris Angels disbanded last year, bassist Oz Cooper and Whitaker continued experimenting in the recording studio, bringing “the mighty Dug McLeod in on drums,” for the recording session. The current Soup line-up includes Oz’s brother, Dan Cooper, on drums, Elliot Wheeler on guitar and Chad Whitaker on keys.
– Soup from Album
Opened For: None yet
Musical Influences: Melody’s Echo Chamber, Miracle Fortress, The Chameleons UK, New Order, Beck, Simeon, Syd Barrett
Twitter handle: @Soupband
Soup on Facebook
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