Artists & Bands
It’s always amazing to us how many fantastic musicians are out there creating songs and albums that otherwise would probably not get covered. We strive to chronicle their contributions to music in order to tell the story of the indie rock music of our times. Everyone’s covering ‘mainstream indie’ nowadays, and few are covering the amazing talent from the DIY and underground scenes.
Except for IRC, and we will continue to. Here are the latest artists and bands we’ve covered and links to the original post to listen to their songs and read their profile.
Top 2015 Indie, DIY and Under-The-Radar Artists and Bands
Fresh Tracks – The Davenports with ’69 Love Songs’ Singer Shirley Simms, plus Chasing Colors, Hillary Bratton, Eight Belles
The Davenports; Shirley Simms; Chasing Colors; Hillary Bratton; Eight Belles
A new duo from Iceland that you’ve gotta hear.
In the ninth installment of the wildly popular Best New DIY Music of 2015 series, we cover the following artists and bands:
Sound Is Lovv – Los Angeles, California
Margarine – Boston, Massachusetts
My Tribe Your Tribe – Kildare, Ireland
Serve The Sun – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ocean Glass – Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Hookspine – Lille, France
Beachmen – Salt Lake City, Utah
Bad Hounds – Akron, Ohio
Jaromil – Dijon, France
Tombstones In Their Eyes – Los Angeles, California
– GRRL PAL – Perth, Australia
– The Citie – Los Angeles, California
– Tigers In The Sky – Los Angeles, California
– Stereo Twins – Baltimore, Maryland
– Three Witches – Akron, Ohio
The Wild Young Hearts – Los Angeles, California
Starar – London, England
Ness – Long Island, New York
Ordinary Van – Fort Wayne, Indianapolis
Pelicat – Norway
Elder Flower – Arvika, Sweden
The Mondanes – Gothenburg, Sweden
Maven – Paris, France
Aether Street – Reno, Nevada
More Skies – Huntington, New York
Bad & The Ugly – San Diego, California
Jeremy & Lynee – Minster, Ohio
Birth of Joy
Transvaal Diamond Syndicate
A Victim of Society
Mary Goes Wild
Toro Y Moi
Death Cab For Cutie
The Mountain Goats
Pet Politics – Gothenburg, Sweden
Bud Collins Trio – Mansfield Center, Connecticut
Lascaux – Rouen, France
Babbling April – Dayton, Ohio
Hard Soul – Albany, New York
Forensics – London, England
Stella Got – Israel
Drew Gibson – Washington, D.C.
Virgin Mary Pistol Grips – Omaha, Nebraska
HAPPY good – Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Elad Eyni – Rishon Lezion, Israel
Atrium of The Fall – Topanga, California
Fringes – Ormond Beach, Florida
Russell Joslin – London, England
Dan Zdilla – Lanchester, Pennsylvania
Doug Balmain – Laramie, Wyoming
No Body – Olympia, Washington
Top Indie Rock Songs, 2007 – 2013
Other Popular Playlists featuring Artists and Bands
– Songs of Winter
– Songs of Spring
– Songs About The Moon
– Songs for Mom
– Songs About New York City
– Halloween Indie Rock Songs
– Indie Christmas Songs Compilation
– Valentine and Love Mixes
– Dream Playlist
– The Great Unknowns
– Singer-Songwriter Spotlight Series
– Bands to Watch
– In Dee Mail
– One Man Bands
June 2013 Artists and Bands
– June 27th – 7 Overseas Artists You’ve Gotta Hear – Profile/playlist feature highlights the following artists and songs they sent in for review – Metaform, James Kerr, Flat Ed, Matt Churchill, Heifervescent, Lillian Todd-Jones, and Reebosound.
– June 24th – Overseas Band Watch: Leeds, England Indie Rock Quartet China Rats – Check out three hot singles from the band that the UK music press is calling the ‘next Arctic Monkeys.’
May 2013 Artists and Bands
– May 29th – Overseas Band to Watch: Deco Pilot
– May 28th – Bands That Rock, Vol. V – Tsar, Dreamers, Eight Feet Deep, The Bitter Roots, and The New Self-Defense
– May 25th – Best New Music Releases, Week of May 21st – Daft Punk, The National, Dirty Beaches, Man or Astro-Man, Attic Lights, The Baptist Generals, Jessie Rules, Major Cloudz, Linda Draper, Radiation City, Talking Heads, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Shannon and the Clams, and Club 8.
– May 23rd – 2013 Sasquatch Music Festival Line-Up and Schedule of Artists & Bands – Includes four Spotify playlists for each day of the festival, featuring bands like Vampire Weekend, Sigur Ros, Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tame Impala, Surfer Blood, Akron/Family, Andrew Bird, Elvis Costello, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Tallest Man on Earth, Grimes, Shout Out Louds, The Postal Service, Cake, The Lumineers, Ariel Pink, Toro Y Moi, Dirty Projectors, The xx, Built to Spill and many others.
– May 21st – Recent DIY & Indie Debuts of 2013, Vol. I, featuring bands like Great White Buffalo, Tournament of Hearts, Make Haste, Constant Supply, Will and the Indians.
May 20th – Almost Missed: San Francisco Band Cool Ghouls’ Debut Album – A review, with song samples and a video, of the debut from the San Francisco retro psychedelic rock band.
…more coming soon
Discover awesome songs, albums, playlists and bands you’ve probably not heard before by perusing the following links (most of the songs in older posts are still active, since we encourage bands never to deleted song links once they are posted, and for all of the songs we host, unlike most blogs, we do not take down song files. However, it is getting increasingly expensive to maintain thousands of songs, starting from 2008-2009 to today; you can help us pay for the server and other costs by donating to us via PayPal, via the Donate button in the right hand column of this and every page. If you like what we’re doing and want to see more, every dollar helps us continue to be one of the top sources for indie music, particularly of unsigned/DIY and under-the-radar, on the web.
Some of the popular regular feature posts, series and playlists that profile great artists and bands include:
Great artists and bands are also featured in playlists like Best Summer Songs, One Man Bands, Indie Cover Songs, Halloween Song Mixes, Songs About New York, and the Singer-Songwriter Spotlight series. Since 2008, we’ve featured thousands of bands, and the archives contain over 10,000 MP3 songs, many of which are still active. Here’s the latest posts highlighting artists and bands that we think you’ll be happy you checked out:
* Update 1/19/13: We’ve resolved most issues with site accessibility and slowness. Should be much faster now. Thanks for your feedback and patience.
The Helsinki, Finland band Scarlet Youth is barely on the North American indie music radar; in fact, it’s almost like they’re flying stealth. Coupled with their raw talent, and their otherwise insufficient blogger or media coverage, made the Finnish band a good candidate for the Artist of the Week series. It didn’t hurt that their excellent new album, The Everchanging View, was dropped just last week. The full album, and other works by Scarlet Youth, are accessible to listen to near the end of this post. After starting with the two tracks the band sent in for review, we’ve managed to listen to all of their releases, and that is what really raised them to the standard of an Artist of the Week designation, or in this case, Band of the Week – a revived series that you’ll see throughout 2013. Artist of the Week profiles will continue to feature solo artists, ‘one-man (or woman) bands,’ and singers and songwriters – all mostly DIY.
Within a minute of listening to one of the album’s singles, “You and Me,” we were taken in by the band’s well-honed sound and their mix of shoegaze and dream pop that seems almost effortless. Of course, if you’re a fan of European shoegaze or dream pop, you’re most likely to dig Scarlet Youth’s music, but we can also see how they may appeal to people who appreciate of all kinds of music. Having now listened to the band’s full discography, “You and Me” is a good song to start with, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what is an extremely talented band that makes enchanting, beautiful music, and at other times, can knock out a great indie rocker.
The second single, “What It’s Worth,” is simply a gorgeous synth pop wonder that sails along on layers of dreamy synthesizers, soothing and gentle vocals, romantic acoustic guitar playing, a heavy bass line and mid-tempo drum beat. Overall, the song conveys a melancholic mood, and adds to the narrative set by the first song of deeply personal music about the trials of love, separation and relationships, a theme that runs throughout The Everchanging View. It’s hazy pop with hushed vocals, lush melodies, impressive song writing and recording, and a sound that is more C-86 than it is indie pop, Scarlet Youth is a band that fits the bill pretty well.
The band started out in 2004 when musicians Markus Baltes and Palle Pyyhtinen got together to experiment. But it wasn’t until 2007 that things took off after the duo decided to recruit three new members to accomplish the bigger, fuller sound they desired. The new additions included Marko Soukka (guitar), Riku H. Mattila (bass) and Jaani Peuhu (drums). Altogether, Scarlet Youth has among its lineup former members of bands like Iconocrash, ShamRain, Kemopetrol and Sidewaytown.
The band’s first release was their 2009 EP, Breaking The Patterns, followed in 2010 by their debut album, Goodbye Doesn’t Mean I’m Gone, released on Homesick Music, a small European indie label, and separately released in Japan. Listen to one of the top songs – “Catch Me When I Fall” – from the 2010 debut album, as well as a great single release that was not available on either LP or the 2009 EP. We can’t say that we listen to a lot of new shoegaze bands as much as the older favorites, but Scarlet Youth are a post shoegaze heyday band that does great justice to the tradition of what we consider one of the most sacred of alternative and indie music.
A terrific single the band recorded in 2010, “Note to a Stranger” is not available on Spotify, so we included it below as an MP3 to stream or download (this track will not be considered for the weekly Top 10 though since it’s a 2010 release).
“Note to a Stranger” – Scarlet Youth from single, non-album release (2010)
Want a change of pace? Fire up any playlist from popular playlist series like Best New Releases, the DIY-oriented In Dee Mail the self-explanatory Recent Releases We Almost Missed and profiles and songs of great, largely unknown and DIY bands via the 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear profile playlists.
7 Overseas Bands You’ve Gotta Hear, Vol. II – The Amsterdams, Mouth of Ghosts, Uncanny Valley, Mojo Waves, Thieves
It’s been a while since the last installment of 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear, which yielded a significant amount of interest, as did the first spin-off of the series, which focused on overseas bands. This second installment of the overseas edition marks the first ‘7’ series posting in quite a while, and hopefully we’ve put together a collection of bands here that you’ll enjoy and be glad you heard. The ‘7’ series is all about artists and bands, usually DIY, sometimes signed, who sent their music in for review via the submission form (located on the About page).
So why 7? Well, it’s a lucky number, and because 5 seems a bit too few (considering the number of standout submissions we receive) and 10 a bit too many for one post. And to boot, we like to do things differently. Most of the bands are DIY and have not been profiled anywhere online, let alone a site with more than a million page views a month. However, these bands are a little bit different in the fact that a few are popular overseas, but have yet to break out in the states.
7 Overseas Bands You’ve Gotta Hear
- The Amsterdams – Bucharest, Romania
- The Mouth of Ghosts – London, England
- The Uncanny Valley – Manchester, England
- Mojo Waves – Helsinki, Finland
- Esther – Sverige, Sweden
- Thieves – Auckland, New Zealand
- Silicon Ballet – Brussels, Belgium
The Amsterdams – Bucharest, Romania
Unsigned indie pop quintet The Amsterdams are not based in the Netherlands, but rather the capital city of Bucharest, Romania. The five members of the band hail from different cities in Romania, and met at the University in Bucharest. The band has a loyal following throughout Europe, but would like to make a splash on America’s shores. Why they haven’t already is a bit of a mystery to us, as are many artists we feature every month – and often the only major indie site on the web that does. Good music needs to be heard.
The band’s music is essentially indie pop and rock, but more recently, more experimental – clacking drum sticks, bass rumbles, exotic bird sounds, waves of synth notes, handclaps, sound effects, crashing cymbals, guitar licks, repetitive lyrics, and pitchy vocals. Since forming in 2006, they have opened for bands like Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Whitest Boy Alive, among others. The Amsterdams influences include artists such as Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Before launching into their newest single, “Sunology,” give a spin to two other songs like we dig from the band (and which offers a snapshot of their musical evolution since 2009) – the first from the 2009 debut LP, Adolessons that contains, among other songs, the standout track, “Laika” and the second, the single, “A Part of It” from the 2011 sophomore release, Electromagnetica. In addition to the band’s particularly impressive talents, you’ve got to give them credit for also having such a strong command of English (they sing in English, not Romanian) that they can come up with a creative play on words for a debut album title, Adolessons – which is silly to a degree, but thought-provoking and appropriate as well. In addition, we also included the music video (above) for the track, “Chased By Housewives.”
“Laika” – The Amsterdams from Adolessons (2009)
Just a few months ago, The Amsterdams released a catchy new song that may be a sample from a new album set to drop in 2013. The new single, “Sunology,” is a great track to warm you up and combat the winter dreariness, cold and darkness, and probably one of the best rarely heard songs of 2012 (more ‘rarely heard’ in coming weeks). In September, the band was the first band to perform during the premiere of Romania’s MTV Unplugged.
“Sunology” – The Amsterdams from Sunology single – July 19th
The Mouth of Ghosts – London, England
If you’re a Bjork fan, you might dig this latest single from the London band, The Mouth of Ghosts. The self-proclaimed indie/alt/trip-hop quintet got together last year. Their debut single, “When The Sun Sets,” reveals the bands’ sexy alt-rock textures and layers of atmosphere and intrigue.
The band prides itself on a unique creation – a fusion of alternative rock and trip-hop, with lashings of atmospherics and an underlying tension. Last year, founding band members Simon Langford and Marco Italia met vocalist Alla Seydalieva, matching her sensual vocals with haunting, ragged guitar melodies and moody bass thumping. Soon after, drummer Phil Page joined the band, followed by Valerie Deniz (vocals, synth) earlier this year to complete the outfit. This past August, the band signed with the small indie label, Red Dragon Records. The single ‘When The Sun Sets’ was released on October 29th 2012 (with “Close” as a B-side), and has already received support from BBC Radio 6 as well as numerous other stations throughout the U.K.
“When The Sun Sets” – The Mouth Of Ghosts from When The Sun Sets – Oct. 29th
The Uncanny Valley – Manchester, England
A three-piece DIY alternative rock band from Manchester, England, The Uncanny Valley formed earlier this year, and not long after, were chosen to open for the popular indie rock band Jeff The Brotherhood. That is a clear signal for any band that things are off to a good start. There are bands that have been working their arses off for years to get a supporting gig like that. The Uncanny Valley caught on so quickly in Manchester that they’ve been getting airplay throughout the U.K. recently. Based on the two songs they sent us not long ago, we can see (well, hear) why.
Guitarist Nathan Day tells IRC that the formation of the band was actually an elaborate “trick” that turned out to be a good move by all involved, unwittingly or not. “I self released music online under the pseudonym ‘The Uncanny Valley,’ which due to the beauty of the Internet, quickly attracted attention from two fellow college students and cleaners who I then semi-tricked into starting the band with. They asked if they could be session musicians for my music so I agreed with the intention of quickly persuading them to make it a full on band which happened pretty much straight away.”
Day describes the band’s sound as “dark and eerie rock and roll with punchy overtones.” He said the band’s top musical influences include Jeff The Brotherhood, The Dresden Dolls, Jeff Buckley, John Frusciante, and Nicky Wire.
Finnish Band Mojo Waves on American Shores
Mojo Waves is a rock trio from Helsinki, Finland, formed in late 2011 to pursue creating “the attitude and the spirit of what rock music used to be in the past.” It’s unpredictable, personal and energetic. Although influenced by vast amount of bands, their sound is unique, and impossible to categorize. Whether intentionally or not, there are songs like “Yeasayer” that sound like they were produced with a page torn from the musical textbook of Jack White – raunchy, raw, lightning-stricken garage rock grit hammered out with a menacing intensity.
Although the band has commented that they feel a “spiritual connection with the rock music of the past,” you do not get the sense that they simply lift sounds and styles as much as they creatively infuse them into their tracks. According to the band, the main goal of the band is to make their own personal songs that they can be proud of, and to perform as many gigs as possible.
“Live music is what music has always been about,” band member Mikko Matikka told IRC, “and that’s what the band loves most.” For a band that only formed a little more than a year ago, Mojo Waves show a lot of promise, and are easily a band to watch in 2013, as are every band featured in this series. Although they have not opened for another band that we know of , Mojo Waves count among their biggest musical influences artists like MC5, Truckfighters, Fu Manchu, and Brant Bjork. But it’s hard to believe those artists are the band’s only influences. Either way, this band rocks and are definitely an overseas band to watch in 2013.
“Yeasayer” – Mojo Waves from Enjoy, Don’t Destroy EP – July 4th
Thieves – Auckland, New Zealand
From Auckland, New Zealand, the DIY indie band Thieves released their self-recorded, produced and distributed second EP, Thieves 2, on August 18th. The talented young band, from the land of kiwis and the filming of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, belt out dark riffs and groovy rhythms, but their sound is a bit more complex than that. The band experiments with genres and sounds, and underneath the impressive noise is the revelation of some terrific songwriting. There are influences of indie rock, power pop, krautrock, post punk, all infused with defiant, yet well-crafted, harmonies, hooks, melodies and top-rate vocals.
“The potent ‘Microcosm’ opens the album and transports us back to the mid 80s where serious looking men in black made seriously brooding music (a la Depeche Mode, Killing Joke, or Echo & The Bunnymen),” wrote Under The Radar.
“Microcosm” – Thieves from Thieves 2 EP – Aug. 18th
Silicon Ballet – Brussels, Belgium
Following the release of the peculiar and ethereal EP, Utopia, the Belgium band, Silicon Ballet recently regrouped under the direction of Gareth Parton (Go! Team, The Breeders), to record an EP of new material. The first single is the title track from a forth-coming EP. The song, “Slowly, Slowly” is a dreamy, mellow ‘slow pop’ track that reminded us immediately of The Clientele.
The Slowly Slowly EP has yet to fully emerge from behind the shroud of mystery that appears to surround Silicon Ballet, but it’s fair to assume that if the rest of the EP is along the lines of the fine work of the title track, the EP should be rather special – “albeit,” the band told IRC, “hampered by delays in mixing, mastering, postal issues, etc. – metaphorically speaking, the view was well worth the climb.”
“‘Slowly, Slowly’ is embued with a gentle, elegance that says everything it needs to without raising its voice above a considered whisper…the regular plod of automata set against the organic ebb and flow of strings is a far cry from the chaotic Wilsonisms of [the] previous single ‘Sunglasses,’ or the spooked, nightmarish hubbub of Utopia, but an altogether stunning and welcome counterpoint to the pandemonium on the other side of the imaginary force field the song creates.”
Last February, the band released their debut five-track EP, Utopia, which includes a couple of standout tracks like “Victory” and “Sunglasses.”
“Slowly Slowly” – Silicon Ballet from Slowly Slowly single – Nov. 19th
Did you enjoy these bands? Let us know via the Comments box below, or via Twitter (@IndieRockCafe) and Facebook. There are many more great bands you probably never heard of before in the pipeline to be published in coming weeks and months, and plenty to explore and listen to via the archives. There are many entry points to archived posts and special playlists – via the frontpage categories, the tag cloud, the search box, the month-to-month drop-down menu in the right column – definitely no shortage of entry points to find more great music and bands.
Literally, you could spend half a year listening, reading and downloading songs from IRC and still not get to half of the artists and bands we’ve featured over the years – many who are under the radar – or another way of saying under-rated and under-appreciated, yet have put out some of the best music in the past five years since we started out as a place to share music with friends (never realizing it would blow up into the popularity IRC has today). We do this to share music with as many people as possible, as well as to provide an outlet for talented artists and bands that often get lost in the crowded field of bands trying to get a little love for their blood, sweat and tears. That’s why we do this. If you’ve been a long-time follower of IRC, you know what we’re talking about.
Originally from upstate New York, DIY musician Matt Script moved to Chicago a few years ago to further his career as a freelance composer, musician and artist. We were stuck right from the get-go by Script’s obvious talents as a songwriter and singer and musician. The track that caught our attention from his submission was “Erasmus,” with it’s bright acoustic guitar and harp playing and mixing, it’s uptempo style and winding melodies, not to mention Script’s agreeable vocals that demonstrate quite a range. We’ve been playing the song, and some of his other tracks, over and over again. The guitar playing reminds us a lot of a musician name Michael Hedges who used to play this type of feedback/looping effect back in the 1980s, but Script says he is not aware of Hedges’ work.
“Erasmus” – Matt Script from Thru The Noise
Script wrote “Erasmus” as a “therapy session” for the homesickness and isolation he was feeling for his native Buffalo while studying abroad in Rome. “I naively romanticized about the deep connections I would make with the [Italian] people only to find that I felt just as lost, if not more lost, than I felt in Chicago. The ‘games’ referred to in the song to what we have to do to fit into society just to feel included I guess. The chorus is a paraphrased quote from Augustus, the roman emperor, when he said, “I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” . I used electric, acoustic, and nylon string guitars.
The second track, “Called,” has a wonderful looping or feedback type of drone to it, and it occurred to us that at times Script sounds a bit like another Matt, that is, the artist known as Matt Pond PA. Not surprisingly, Scripts says that he is a big fan of Pond, especially his earlier releases, including the fantastic album, Several Arrows Later, which has been featured on IRC in the past.
“I’m huge fan of his,” Scripts said. “Several Arrows Later is one of my favorite albums. I like a lot of his earlier stuff. “Measure 3″ might be one of my all time favorite songs too. I think that’s fair to say [his influence] definitely ingrained in my roots.”
A talented artist is able to do a lot with just a few simple instruments, strong lyrics, computer programs, plug-ins and gear, a well-honed, natural voice, and a genuine talent for music. Script combines all of these elements with excellent results again and again. Another track that showcases the diversity of his skills is “The Noise,” a track that also include drums loops, electric guitar, crashing cymbals and piano. While he has been known to label his music “urban folk loop,” which is a new sub-genre for us, Script successfully dabbles with other influences, ranging from pop and experimental to rock and ambient.
“Called” – Matt Script from Thru The Noise
His looping effects on electric and acoustic guitars are impressive and refreshing because you don’t hear these particular effects often. He writes on this Bandcamp page that Thru The Noise “explores the role of noise in our everyday lives.” That may be a bit, and unintentionally, misleading conceptually because in that case one would expect perhaps the album would contain a lot of sound samples and effects of actual everyday noises; there are some, but not to the extent that that would be the summation of the album. It’s much more of a well-structure and instrument and vocals-driven album than the quote implies.
He also released a fantastic five-track EP in June called Permatransience, from which the next single, “Caught Up,” is taken. Another song from that EP, “La Di Di” is a cheerful, upbeat song that also sounds like a Pond-influenced track, and the Simon and Garfunkel-like acoustic track, “Once You’re Awake,” is yet another accomplishment by Script, as is the title track, with its almost Spanish guitar style playing and poignant lyrics. Each song is a unique example of Script’s impressive skills as a singer/songwriter and musician.
“Caught Up” – Matt Script from Permatransience
Interestingly, Script is also a member of the band Wait, What? , which was featured on IRC not long ago via the In Dee Mail profile series. Even more interesting, and most particularly to Harry Potter fans, is the fact that the band were recently tapped to play the music for one of the popular Harry Potter musical parodies by Star Kid Potter, a group of University of Michigan theatre students whose videos have gone viral in the past couple of years. Their official YouTube channel has already received a combined 140 million views worldwide and in the past couple of years have out paced Glee and Lady Gaga on iTunes. Script said the video his band is playing in for Star Kid Potter is in production now.
Script also has five other releases dating back to 2006 available to stream/download via his Bandcamp page. His favorite bands include The National, Fleet Foxes, Ratatat, The Black Keys, Grimes, and The Kinks. In fact, he said The Kinks’ 1967 album Face to Face, was his favorite of the band’s 30+ LPs.
From Winnipeg, Canada, the band Departures are perhaps one of the most understated new bands of 2012. The band’s constantly shifting post punk and indie rock influences are apparent in the tangle of angular melodies, layering of guitars, shadowy synths, understated rhythms, and vocals that range from hauntingly hushed to shouting, throughout their debut album, Still and Moving Lines, which has been earning the band the all-important ‘blogger buzz’ and increasingly, recognition from the more mainstream, established press.
“For a band that’s only one album in,” wrote Evan Minsker of Pitchfork, “it’s impressive that they can seamlessly execute so many sonic shifts.” Tim Sendra, who writes for the All Music Guide, gave the album 4.5 stars out of five, writing: “…most of the album is restrained and doles out its pleasures in less immediate fashion. It may take a little effort to get to the pleasures…but it is definitely worth it because Still and Moving Lines is an impressively assured debut.”
Still and Moving Lines is a ‘grower’ – generally, the more you listen to it, the more likely you’re bound to come to appreciate just how good it is. The song that stands out the most on the first spin is “Pillars.” The blazing, melodic guitar jamming countered with edgier power chords, frantic rhythms, crashing cymbals, and shouting vocals on “Pillars” makes it seemingly the most accessible tracks on the album.
The loudest, most energetic songs on the LP were wisely put back-to-back at the top of the track listing. But first, the opening track of the album is the haunting 72-second “At Rest, at Home,” followed by “Pillars” and “Being There,” the latter is a nearly five-minute onslaught of loud, distorted guitar layers grinding away, rapid-fire bass thumping, and furious drumming.
Departures takes the listener on adventurous, mysterious sonic journeys throughout the course of the 10-track LP, from melancholic electric experimentation, free form angular guitar jams and sluggish rhythms to full-on screeching, angst-driven walls of noise comprised of tangled, chaotic blasts of reverb and feedback. A couple of worthwhile examples include songs like “Cartwright, MB” and “Contempt.”
Another highlight (among many) on the album is the muffled “Winter Friend,” which conveys a sense of the frigid, isolating environment where nearly half of the year is spent indoors to stay warm. The song starts out with an erie, David Lynch meets X-Files sounding synth, and like other tracks on the album, it slowly builds momentum to a raucous climax. For the band members, the long days of darkness and confinement lend themselves to endless hours of practice, experimentation and honing their skills, which undoubtably facilitated the writing, recording and mixing of a superb album and one of the best debuts of 2012.
The standout song, “Being There,” provides total bliss for lovers of lo-fi post punk where fuzzy, noisy guitars are on a rampage, blazing away unabated. The track also has the best guitar solo of any other on the album. The rhythm section is an integral aspect throughout the album as “Being There” demonstrates – the rhythm is bold, energetic, and calculating, somehow exerting a controlled anarchy. Switching gears, the track “Sleepless” is one of the most upbeat songs on the album, with atmospheric synth riffs, bongo style drumming, some “ooohs and ahhhs” and the calming, hushed vocals of Nicholas Liang, who is often a backdrop to the near constant wall of sound found throughout the LP.
Of the instrumental tracks on the album, the most memorable and poignant is found within the sweet sounds of “Swimming,” a track that conjures up all kinds of relaxing, hazy summer day images, like floating on a raft on a peaceful river surrounded by orange walled canyons, and serving as a contrast to the icier recordings on the album. One of the best aspects of Still and Moving Lines, in addition to its overall brilliance, is that there is absolutely no pandering to appeal to a mass audience. After spinning the album a number of times, listeners may detect the warmth underneath what is often a cold, hard exterior, and possibly come to the conclusion that, in the final analysis, Departures are a jam band, and a very talented one at that. In addition to being one of the best debut albums of 2012, Still and Moving Lines has put Departures on our list for the breakout bands of the year.
To listen to more songs from the album, play Spotify embed below.
Mexico City Indie Pop Band, The Plastics Revolution, Releases a Stop-Motion Music Video Created with Instagram
The peppy Mexico City-based indie pop band, The Plastics Revolution, have been making news this week with the release of a colorful, stop-motion music video that was shot from hundreds of photos that were processed through the popular app Instagram. The band claims that it is the first music video of its kind to be made using Instagram.
San Francisco filmmaker Art Perez, who directed the video, says he shot a total of 1,095 still photos around San Francisco and processed them all through Instagram using various filters. The final effect has the feel of a video and is set to the likable, upbeat track, “Invasion.” The band’s Vimeo page reads: “Every single frame of this music video is an actual picture that we ran through Instagram. We never shot any video. We only shot still photography.”
Perez told the Huff Post: “I live in SF and it’s the perfect background for a colorful music video. No other city compares.” However, it’s not entirely clear from the Huff Post article how Perez is associated with the band or what type of camera was used to take the still shots since they were obviously not taken with an iPhone camera. That said, the flow of hundreds of story-telling photos makes it feel very much like a video. The music video is really an impressive accomplishment – fun and lively, richly textured, wonderfully choreographed and extremely well produced, especially to have been done with the aid of Instagram – a still photo app. In the past few days, the video has already had nearly 100,000 views.
Media Claims of ‘First-Ever’ Music Video Made with Instagram a Bit Misleading
There has been a bit of confusion floating around about “Invasion” being the ‘first-ever’ music video made with Instagram, as blogs like The Huff Post reported. London musician Ellie Goulding created a similar video in August after asking fans to submit Instagram photos to be used for the lyrics video of the song, “Anything Could Happen.” But clearly, the time-lapsed, story-telling timeline of “Invasion” is far superior and much more like a traditional music video, and therefore, may very well be the ‘first’ in that respect. The video for “Invasion” tells the story of a young couple’s adventures in San Francisco as they follow a map they found in an abandoned bottle.
The band’s official Vimeo page that hosts the video includes all of the credits in the making of the ‘InstaVideo.’ The band, in reply to comments left, wrote that they ‘shot’ in full Instagram dimensions of 1920×1920. They also claimed to have used Instagram filters like Amaro, Rise, X-pro II, Brannan, Nashville and 1977.
However, the band doesn’t seem interested in answering other questions in the comment thread about what equipment was used to take the still photos, since, the photos were clearly not taken with an iPhone or Android smartphone camera. The closest we could come to an answer was this shot from Perez’s own Vimeo page of his gear.
Make no mistake about it – the time-lapsed video, in which Instagram was one tool used to help create it, is fantastic. It also does justice in representing San Francisco’s varied and gorgeous environs – the natural, topographical, cultural, and architectural characteristics of the iconic city, one which was spurred by the world’s most famous gold rush, decimated by earthquake and fire in 1906, and rose from the ashes and rubble to retake its place as a world class city once again.
An official website for The Plastics Revolution is difficult to find (there is another band of the same name minus the pluralization of ‘plastic’), but they do have the Vimeo page and a Bandcamp page for those interested in hearing more music from the band’s two releases. They’re not entirely unknown. In March of 2011, The Plastics Revolution performed at South by Southwest in Austin and were profiled on the SXSW page, which included the song, “Karina,” their first single release.
“Kibera” – The Plastics Revolution from King Bono Vs. Los Flight Simulators – Aug. 29th
With a band name like The Crookes, it’s understandable to conjure up the image of a band of scruffy, rebel-rousing, hard-drinking young hoodlums stirring up mischief and banging out angst-driven punk rock songs. But instead, this Sheffield-based band delivers retro pop rock blended with elements of the C86 sound of the post punk era.
The Crookes first caught our attention some time ago with their second single, “Chorus of Fools,” a jingle-jangle tune with an infectious beat and rhythm, topped with just a touch of indie folk pop, and sprinkled with lyrics born out of English kitchen-sink literature. The band’s overall sound is decidedly The Smiths, Orange Juice, Coral, The Arctic Monkeys, and early Libertines. With the continuous flood of new wave synth acts seemingly coming far and wide, The Crookes offer a refreshing escape into the realm of bliss pop.
This summer, the band released their sophomore LP, Hold Fast, which demonstrates their love for mixing elements of alternative rock, post punk and heavily melodic indie pop/post punk as demonstrated on songs like “Where Did Our Love Go?,” and “Maybe in the Dark.”
In addition to a string of well-received singles, The Crookes raised their profile in the U.K. and Europe over the past couple of years by endlessly touring, hitting all the major U.K. and European cities with enthusiastic crowds to greet them. But they have yet to break-through in the U.S. Perhaps one song from the LP that aims to change that is the catchy track, “American Girls,” although it’s not among the top three standout songs on Hold Fast (listen to the entire album via Spotify).
For fans of jangly guitars, soaring vocals and light pop tracks with tinges of alternative rock, British style, the album is an enjoyable listening experience. The title track, “Hold Fast” and “Afterglow” (watch video above) are some of the more energetic, toe-tappers on the album, featuring high octane synths riffs and ‘ooh ooh’ sing along choruses. More tamed and deep, the spectacular track, “Sal Paradise,” shows off the band’s penchant for retro pop rock.
The Crookes’ Debut EP and LP Set the Stage for Their Popularity in the U.K. and Europe
The single “Chorus of Fools,” was released as a single from the band’s October 2010 release, Dreams of Another Day, an EP that raised the band’s profile in Europe and the UK, and started the momentum that snowballed in 2011 after The Crookes were featured as a Band of the Day in the The Guardian. On BBC Radio 1, popular deejay Steve Lamacq, who proclaimed in 2011 that The Crookes were his ‘favourite British band of the year,” described the band as having “ambition and flare and a singer with a beautiful voice; one of those special, poetic voices which dips and soars above their jangling guitars.”
The band’s 2009 debut double single , A Collier’s Wife/By The Seine, released through the Too Pure Singles Club (part of the Beggars’ Group label), was the fastest selling single ever for Too Pure, with all pre-orders selling out in a matter of days. But together with their 2010 debut EP, Dream of Another Day and especially their debut album, Chasing After Ghosts, released in March of 2011, that really got the ball rolling.
In the spirit of the season, here is a rare 2009 Christmas single, “It’s Just Not Christmas Without You,” from the band, which was not part of an official release. The song comes courtesy of ‘the Rolling Stone magazine of the U.K.,’ New Musical Express (commonly referred to as NME), which was one of the publications that initially helped launch the band into the spotlight on the U.K. indie music scene.
“It’s Just Not Christmas Without You” – The Crookes (2009)