Category Archives: 2016 Best New Releases

Great Indie Rock DIY Debuts of 2016, Vol. I – Buttness, Small Culture, Them Coulee Boys, Marvelous Mint, Nervouschain

It’s amazing how quickly everyone gets back to the day-to-day right after the end of the winter holidays. And especially this year – many people want to forget 2016, and some are terrified of what’s to come. But let’s not let go of the past year of our lives too quickly.

There are still some 2016 releases you need to hear, including this batch of fine debuts from a range of indie rock, folk, pop, and other genre and mixed-genre DIY artists and bands from across the United States, and Down Under.

In This Installment:

Buttness – Shymkent, Kazakhistan
Small Culture – San Diego, California
Marvelous Mint – Bellingham, Washington
Them Coulee Boys – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Nervouschain – Sydney, Australia

Don’t miss great songs and bands in series like the Best New DIY/Indie Releases of 2016; In Dee Mail; Fresh Tracks; Bands That Rock, and make sure to follow us on RSS; Facebook; Twitter and Instagram.

Check out IRC’s mega playlists on Spotify – like the ambitious, ever-evolving Best Fking Songs Ever or the gritty and odd playlist titled, Soundtracks for Films Quentin Tarrantino Will Never Make and Around The World – awesome indie/alt. rock songs about places on the world map.

Buttness – All Holes Are Black

At little moments on Kazakhistan indie rock band Buttness‘ single, “All Holes Are Black,” the title track of the band’s wonderful debut album, die-hard fans of The Cure will hear the undeniable influences of the Cure. But at the same time, and moreover, the song is totally unique, and alluring, as are many of Buttness’ songs.

All Holes Are Black is brimming with ringing pop rock guitars, grooving bass lines and perhaps more melodic hooks than we’ve heard from a DIY band in all of 2016.

Born in the city of Shymkent in 2010, the duo is made up of vocalist and guitarist Yeldos Zarpullayev and bassist Yerlan Akhmetov, both big fans of Radiohead and The Cure, which is evident on the superb, under-the-radar debut album released last summer.

Out of the gate is the slow-burning draw of the wonderfully strange lo-fi title track, highlighting Zarpullayev’s endearingly odd, and completely different, vocal styles, as well as deep melodic guitar hooks backed by Akhmetov’s terrific bass playing, and drum work from session drummers Ian Cronan and Calum Sneddon.

The next track the band wished to highlight from the melodic guitar-heavy 12-song release is the nicely inspiring, warm spring day-like instrumental, “You Are Fire,” complete with more heavy melodies and deep, brooding percussion. Other guitar-dominant instrumentals include the lazy “Flight”.

Other take-away tracks from the album include the airy guitars and upbeat grooves of “Let Me Join In Your Art”; the meandering guitars of “I Love Film”; the irresistible pop rock jamming of “So I Love You Heavens Now,” which turns out to be one track from the album that doesn’t sound like the rest in as far as Zarpullayev’s vocals.

Bonus Track: “You Are Fire”Buttness from All Holes Are Black

From track to track, the album is enjoyable in a totally alt. way. There are tracks like the semi sing-along standout track, “Tonight,” featuring more heavy power pop chords. The same is true on tracks like the playful “My Shadow,” featuring guitar hooks that remind us of The Byrds. Others like “Apparent Time To Shine,” shines through with its undeniably upbeat allure.

This album proves that these guys really love melodies with bright, 60s-influenced guitars and Zarpullayev’s memorable and endearing, vocal styles. The duo’s hometown, Shymkent, was known as Chimkent until 1993 when Kazakhistan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union. This must-hear album was recorded at The Green Door Studio in Glasgow.

Buttness on Soundcloud

Small Culture – Small Culture

Earlier this year, we featured some of the fresh music of San Diego-via-Hawai’i bedroom musician and one-man band Jerik Centeno, aka, Small Culture. In the past year, he has been making a name for himself in the San Diego indie scene thanks to his increasing number of gigs and new tracks like the joyous, party song, “It’s Too Late,” complete with horns and piano and the electronic dance-influenced “Apartime.”

MP3: “Apartime“Small Culture from Small Culture

According to Centeno, “Small Culture is a kaleidoscope pop rock band from San Diego California.” Centeo played all of the instruments – guitars, bass, synths, keyboards and drums – and mixed and produced Small Culture’s self-titled debut EP, dropped this past summer.

The SM moniker is used to describe the intimate culture of his home state of Hawai’i. Small Culture was formed as a result of a project started by his college classmate, Jose Escoto, who offered to mix some of Centeno’s songs.

Bonus Track: “Too Late“Small Culture from Small Culture

Small Culture on Facebook


Them Coulee Boys – Dancing In The Dim Light

Founded at a Bible camp, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin band Them Coulee Boys wonderfully craft a brand of Americana that blends bluegrass, folk, rock and roll, and even pop; mixing guitars, banjos, mandolins, and even a kick drum. The lead vocals of Soren Staff (guitar, piano) are some of the finest folksy lead vocals we’ve heard from a new DIY band this year.

Songs from Them Coulee Boys’ album, Dancing In The Dim Light, include the down-home folk and Americana heavy single, “I Won‘t Be Defined,” which shows off Staff’s remarkable vocals.

Other tracks, like “Mask,” completely switch things up. The first half of the song is a boozy, folksy spaghetti-western influenced track featuring Staff’s emotive vocals, and a stellar, and rocking, guitar, and banjo jam, from Beau Janke, along with Jens Staff on mandolin and Michael Aschbacher on bass and kick drum – good ‘ole story-telling and organic music from the salt of the earth.

According to Staff, “we seek to start a dialogue with their show. The songs are reflections duality of life.”

In addition to Staff, the band members include Beau Janke (banjo, piano, harmonica, vocals); Jens Staff, (mandolin, vocals), and Michael Aschbacher on bass and kick drum.

The band has opened for artists like Pert Near Sandstone, Dead Man Winter, and Charlie Parr, and consider their major musical influences to include Neil Young, The Avett Brothers, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Flaming Lips, and Dawes.

MP3: “I Won‘t Be Defined“Them Coulee Boys from Dancing In The Dim Light

Them Coulee Boys official website


Marvelous Mint – Behind The Times

Ranging from stripped-down guitar ballads to dense baroque electronic rock, Marvelous Mint features the writing and performances of Bellingham, Washington musician Willie Womack.

The idea for his one-man band and its colorful instrumentation and introspective lyrics came from, he says, “playing retro games with limited yet vibrant color palettes.”

MM’s sound is ever-shifting, yet at the heart of the songs remains the ‘signature style’ that Womack hopes to become better known for. Clearly his dreamy notes and beats on the unforgettable DIY single, “Your New Lifestyle,” are a direct and indirect results of Womack’s musical influences that include artists like Elliott Smith, Shiina Ringo, Tokyo Jihen, and Yasunori Mitsuda.

MP3: “Your New Lifestyle“Marvelous Mint from Behind The Times.

The single, and some of his other tracks, like the enthralling, “When You See Me Next,” coincidentally or not, remind us a lot of the indie acoustic pop band Matt Pond PA, who are one of our long-time favorite indie bands, and who appear in many of our playlists published during the past eight years.

Both tracks are from the debut LP, Behind The Times. Womack writes and records all of his own songs using guitar, keyboards, drums, bass and vocals.

Marvelous Mint on Facebook


Nervouschain – Weekdays

Musician, guitarist, keyboardist and electronic music enthusiast alike, Oleg Chernykh, who uses the moniker Nervouschain hails out of Sydney, Australia.

When not working his “rat race job,” as he says, he spends his time in his studio apartment creating electronic-heavy tracks that traverse sonic landscapes mostly in the realm of deephouse, house and chill.

MP3: “Friday”Nervouschain from Weekdays

The everyday work world is the focus of his debut EP, Weekdays; Chernykh’s five-track release features a different track for each work day of the week, with track titles predictably ranging from “Monday,” the opening frenetic track, through to “Friday,” the final, ready-to-party closer.

There are some really sweet grooves and grinds that are inspiring and well produced for NC’s first outing.

Bandcamp: Listen to more on NC’s Bandcamp page

Best DIY & Indie Rock of 2016, Vol. IV – Empire Machines, The smallest Creature, Computer Magic, GEMS, Castle Black

New installments of the Best DIY Indie Rock of 2016 will be coming out in greater regularity in coming weeks. This latest installment features a grand new indie rock single from Austin band EMPIRE MACHINES; indie folk/rock from Cyprus band to watch The smallest Creature; a return from a longtime love – Computer Magic; instrumental stoner psych jams from Seattle’s GEMS and hard rock from Brooklyn band Castle Black.

Empire Machines – Austin, Texas
The smallest Creature – Nicosia, Cyprus
Computer Magic – Brooklyn, New York
GEMS – Seattle, Washington
Castle Black – Brooklyn, New York


Empire Machines – “Scenes”

After establishing themselves during the past few years in the ridiculously competitive Austin music scene, the members of indie rock band Empire Machines have stepped up their game in a big way with the release of the epic, sprawling electronic single, “Scenes,” the first single from a new EP slated to drop in early 2017.

Empire Machines had some heavy hitters helping with the track’s production, such as Grammy-winning mix master Chris Shaw (Weezer, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf) and engineer Kevin Butler stationed at Church House Studios.

“We sent [Shaw] our music and told him we’d love to have help with a track [“Scenes”] we had in the works,” vocalist and guitar Matt Blackwell says.

“He got back to us and said he’d definitely love to mix for us. And him being a rock mix guru having worked on so many albums we love just had us over the moon, so it was damn cool to get his hands on this track.”

“This is a driving, dark, and bittersweet song about the hopes you have for a particular person in your life,” says Matt Blackwell, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist.

“The track was recorded in an old 1920’s church that had been converted into a studio, which made for a productive and cozy atmosphere to record in.”

Blackwell says that he and his band mates – Trey McKinley (bass); Matt Reynolds (drums); Kevin Garcia (guitar), and Keyle Garcia (keys) – had worked diligently and with great focus to get the final production of the track where they wanted it to be with the help of Shaw and Butler’s expertise.

If “Scenes” is any indication of what’s to come from Empire Machines’ new EP then we are eagerly awaiting its release, based on the band’s fantastic new single and past releases as well, which you can access via Bandcamp.

Empire Machines on Facebook
Empire Machines’ Official Website

The smallest Creature – Million

Beginning with mysterious and melancholic vocals, Radiohead-like minimalistic instrumentation, oozing reverb and lo-fi techniques, Cyprus indie rock power trio The smallest Creature‘s debut album, Million, is one of the most surprising and arresting DIY releases this year.

One of the first standout tracks, “Reboot,” meanders deeper as it progresses into an increasingly sprawling sonic world of swirling and intricate guitar playing from Stefanos Marnerides, plus, the thumping bass lines of Stephanos Nicolaou, the disciplined drumming by Icovos Stylianides – the band’s heavily melodic, ever-shifting instrumentation is nicely mirrored by Marnerides’ beautifully emotive, at times haunting – other times slightly encouraging – vocals.

It is not lost upon us that very few vocalists can connote such a range of emotions within the span of a few minutes.

“Reboot” IS simply one of 2016’s most mesmerizing DIY singles with musical talents of the band’s members on full display, weaving together a song weighted by reverb-heavy, melancholic vocals, spatial instrumentation – think Radiohead meets Muse and they jam with Stone Temple Pilots.

The smallest Creature are on a roll – the band’s latest video release (below) for the mesmerizing, melancholic song, “High Low You,” has a black and white, grainy, even repetitious quality that somehow works nicely with the song itself.

Another single, the booming “Enchanting,” also from Million, is one that is growing on us. Song after song on Million is further evidence that TsC are a band to watch in 2017.

The seeds for TsC sprung up back in 2007 when Marnerides’ performed a string of solo shows in New York City that eventually evolved when the three friends decided to become a power trio back in 2012.

Via Soundcloud: “Reboot” – The smallest Creature from Million (out Nov. 18th)

The smallest Creature Official Website
The smallest Creature on Facebook

Computer Magic – Obscure But Visible

The title of one of our favorite all-time female bedroom artists, Brooklyn songwriter, vocalist and producer Computer Magic‘s latest album release, Obscure But Visible, is in one part ironic; Computer Magic may be obscure, but definitely not off the radar.

She’s known within the farther reaches of the indie pop world as Daniel “Danz” Johnson, having broken through back in 2010, when IRC was one of the first blogs to feature Computer Magic’s early tracks, “On VHS” like “Electronic Fences” and “Running” – just prior to the period when her delightful songs started appearing on indie pop and ‘cosmic pop’ aficionados’ radars and blogs.

Her latest album features standout tracks like the gorgeous dream pop hooks, slow rolling beats and xylophone/synth keying of “Dimensions,” featuring the characteristics of a pop hit, as well as another potential mini melody-oozing hit single, “Been Waiting,” percolating with catchy beats, grinding keys and Johnson’s sweet, soft lo-fi vocals. Another notable track from the EP – which has had more than 800 Likes on her SC alone – is the semi-hypnotic space pop of “Lonely Like We Are.

Johnson’s video for the track “Fuzz,” (above) dropped last February, is definitely worth watching. She’s endlessly adorable, introspective and playful. While Computer Magic has been largely successful in Japan, Johnson maintains a cult following in the United States and Canada, which is why her album title is ironic – obscure, perhaps, but definitely visible.

Her major music influences include Broadcast, Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, Animal Collective, Stereolab and David Bowie. Born and raised in upstate New York, at the age of 15, Johnson started a music blog. By age 18 she moved to NYC to attend Hunter College, and soon began working as a DJ in clubs like Tribeca Grand Hotel and The Annex.

Stream: Obscure But Visible on Soundcloud

Castle Black – Losing Forever

Delivering eclectic and thunderous heavy rock sounds, powerful vocals and dark, dystopian lyrics, Brooklyn hard rock trio Castle Black’s new cinematic video – “Dark Light: A Plague Revisited” – is something to behold as far as music videos go.

“The song is essentially a song about cycles, kind of a dual story, equally applicable to relationships as well as to societal issues,” lead vocalist and guitarist Leigh Celent says. Celent is backed up by the talented bassist and vocalist Lisa Low and the powerful drummer Matthew Bronner.

“The whole idea is of the opposing forces – dark and light – coming in and out of one’s life,” Celent says.

“The parallel meaning of the song is being really unhappy with the state of affairs in society, breaking it down, trying to make it work for you and then completely destroying it all, trying to build something better.”

The video is the official video for the single from the band’s recently dropped sophomore EP, Losing Forever.

Castle Black’s sound is an inventive and stimulating mixture of genres, including classic rock, alt. rock, punk, post punk and grunge. The infusion of various genres also makes Castle Black’s style one of a kind.


Another new audio-only single, “Premonition,” is a perfect example of the band’s genre-bending talents. On this track, the band morphs into an indie pop/post-punk outfit, ripping out a hooklicious, melody-laden summertime track, complete with choruses containing the lyrics: “it was the summm-mer.” The track can grow on you.

“We’re not interested in being pinned down to a genre,” Celent says. “In fact, we specifically avoid that.”

The trio have been described as ‘the kind of band you want to catch on the way up’ (New York Music Daily), and compared to ‘hard-hitting beats reminiscent of Hole’s best songs,’ (Indiemunity) with Musically Fresh complimented the band for ‘capturing the NY sound with a subdued, crunchy garage-band sound with a slight L-7-esque edge to their own concoction.’

The band performs live regularly in New York City, the New Jersey shore, and the mid-Atlantic. Their songs have been played on both domestic and international radio shows, including Banks Radio Australia, Vulcan Sound Radio, Grrrl Power Hour, Rock Radio UK, to name just a few.

Castle Black’s biggest musical influences are The Dead Weather, Joy Division, Radiohead, and Slaeter Kinney.

Castle Black on Facebook


GEMS – Night Music

Based in the Emerald City of Seattle in the northernmost Pacific Northwest, the four-piece instrumental, kinetic electronic band GEMS mixes together deep, heavy grooves; sprawling keyboards, psychedelic riffs, and chunky dance beats on their latest release,Night Music, including the thrilling and mysterious, “Foli.”

The rattling drum circle vibe, and the high octane, dramatic retro synths and keyboards add subsequent layers to fill out the track with an epic, almost Kill Bill-like key riff that is poignant in its own right. The drums evolve into a more disco-y type of beats as do the keys, and then loop back to the beginning segments.

The band is able to create its own brand of unique and psychedelic ambience thanks to its line up of two drummers – Adrian Van Batenburg and Jacob Evans – and two keyboardists, Daniel Rapport and Gary Palmer.

Other tracks like the EP’s opener, “Half and Half,” glisten, twinkle and glimmer with high pitched keys and space synth pop melodies, followed by the more artistic, somewhat dreamy, “Vis A Veevs;” the bumping, spiraling “Pullover” (see video above); grinding dark keys on “Big Bass Woman;” the spooky and then tantalizing jams of “Zitano;” the enthralling “Wayne General,” and the heavier trance jamming of “Lapiz Lazuli.”

Night Music is a collection of songs about the night,” Rapport tells IRC. “It’s equal parts darkness and a foreboding quality, and equal parts the groove of a club at night and the sensuality of the evening time. All the music contained within is in some shape or form connected with the night.”

And that makes for one of the most intricate, complex, mysterious, sprawling, worldly, and even epic, DIY releases of the year.

In referring to the track, “Half and Half,” Rapport says: “The initial intro to ‘Half of Half’ reflects the sound of rain at night (something we have in abundance here in Seattle) segueing into stepping into the dry confines of an underground party.”

GEM’s members have collaborated on many projects, including with notable acts like Macklemore, John Grant, Blue Scholars, and Ormonde and The Kindness Kind. The concept behind GEMS, according to the band, is “to create an environment that allows for sonic experimentation and improvisation, while still retaining a feel that can only come about through an organic songwriting proces

This release is perfect for kicking back and really experiencing a work of art created meticulously by two drummers and two keyboardists. See these guys whenever you can for an extraordinary live experience.

Listen to more track on GEMS’ Soundcloud page.

GEMS on Facebook

Best New DIY & Indie Rock Music of 2016, Vol. III – Maps of Suburbia, Cheops’ Cave, Empire of Gold, The Modern Savage, La Historia

This is the third installment of Best New Indie and DIY Rock music of 2016, with installment IV already in the works. This time around, we have an incredibly talented, emotive band from New York City; a rising new indie rock DIY band from Sweden; more from LA alt. rocker Michael Dole; sultry alt. rock from Alaska, and an exciting coming up indie folk rock band from Illinois (or as Sufjan Stevens so popularized with the song, “Illinoise”). (The bands are not featured in any particular order.)

Also in the works – 5 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear; Best Indie and DIY Debuts of 2016, and many other posts.

In This Installment:

Maps of Suburbia – New York, New York
Cheops’ Cave – Hässleholm, Sweden
Empire of Gold – Los Angeles, California
The Modern Savage – Anchorage, Alaska
La Historia – Rockford, Illinois


Maps of Suburbia – Maps of Suburbia

New York City musician and songwriter Nicholas Perlman joined up with some friends in 2015 to form a new DIY indie band called Maps of Suburbia.

Perlman knew that he wanted to write and record songs with a diverse and distinct sound that vacillates between genres from alt. country and surf rock to folk and pop. Perlman, the lead vocalist and guitarist, is backed by Andy Porta on drums, guitar, and mixing-board sorcery, Seth Nicholson on bass, and Danny Flinn on bodhrán, with everyone lending their vocal talents.

The band dropped its self-titled, debut EP on June 30, featuring songs like the beautiful, “Highway One,” with its emotive, heartfelt vocals, heavily melodic acoustic and electric guitar parts, gentle drum and crashing cymbals.

Other tracks like the sombre song, “You Always Knew,” the boozy, Conor Oberst-like, “Friends, Lovers, Etc.,” the soft, yet somehow edgy, acoustic guitar (interesting tuning and nylon strings) number “Every Ghost” are all evidence that this new EP, and band, belong on the radars of indie folk-rock enthusiasts.

The other members of MoS include Andy Porta (drums, guitar, mixing); Seth Nicholson (bass) and Danny Flinn on bodhran.

Via Soundcloud: “Friends, Lovers, Etc.”Maps of Suburbia from Maps of Surburbia

Maps of Suburbia on Bandcamp


Cheops’ Cave – Old Not Gold

In 2013, five high school students from Hässleholm, Sweden, with similar tastes in artists like Foals, The Stone Roses and Makthaverskan, among others, began jamming together in their parents’ garages. They called themselves Cheops’ Cave.

Two years later, they were winning praise from the press, gaining followers, and, within less than a year, the members of Cheops’ Cave were traveling around Sweden performing at venues large and small.

Earlier this year, the band released their debut album, Old Not Gold, featuring a number of standout singles, like rocking lead-off track, “Get It Right,” with the type of energy, wit and raw talent of bands like Arctic Monkeys, which band bassist Erik Lundow, acknowledges is a huge influence on the band’s sound.

Listen to more from Cheops’ Cave via the band’s Soundcloud page. The band has just completed a new video for another standout track from the album, the irresistibly catchy single, “Grey End.” It’s probably the most memorable song on the album, and just sounds like a hit. We will be featuring the video itself soon.

“The song itself is about escaping your regular day life and finding your ‘grey end,'” Lundow says. “The term, ‘grey end’ is supposed to symbolize a distant place where everyone is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. It is also a state of mind that can help you reach out from your boring day to day life and make you desire something more out of it – something not really safe and structured.”

The band members, in addition to Ludlow, are August Rauer (vocals); August Olsson (guitarist); Sebastian Wihlborg (guitarist) and Marcus Brixne (drummer).

Cheops’ Cave on Instagram

Cheops’ Cave on Facebook

*Note: Will be featuring more Best Indie Debuts of 2016 later this week.


The Modern Savages – Unfazed

Perhaps one of the quietest great DIY EPs of 2016 so far has been Alaskan band The Modern Savages’ riveting alt. rock Unfazed. It’s risky, energetic, deep and overall one of the best DIY alt. rock EPs of 2016. We can only wonder what the response would be if the band was hitting the clubs in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco or LA for a year – very likely, they’d become a hot new band on the scene. And as this fourth release proves, they are not only talented, but they are very tight, musically and otherwise, as a band, and they’ve got their sound down.

The exceptional guitar playing on the EP from John Cripps and Matt Eley is one of the hallmarks of the band’s success – Cripps’ and Eley’s alt. and indie rock, with post-punk influences, playing styles are many things – hard, raw, complex, crunchy, haunting, and other times, shimmering, floating, ascending as they do so beautifully on the title track, featuring frontwoman Jenni May’s gorgeous vocal abilities, and the perfect timing of bassist Ivan Molesky and drummer David Devlin. The more you listen to the EP, the more you realize just how hard these musicians have worked to create a solid band, and how serious they are about making rock and roll that stands out.

Other tracks like the irresistibly captivating, funky and sultry, “More,” show again how adept the entire band is as a unit – May’s vocals are once again at another range, and once again electrifying. Unfazed is an EP that pays homage – the Alaskan way! – to the bedrock of the alternative/garage rock (“Animal Sounds”) movement, while also having the imagination, creativity and flexibility to create songs that are funky slow rockers (“Comet” sounds a bit like Gwen Stefani); ska-pop elements (“Go”); straight up indie pop, complete with catchy choruses (“Surrender”) and driving guitar post-punk and 80’s-influenced synth and blazing guitar rock (the seductive, “Rage City” and “June Bride”); other times, heavily melodic pop rock with layers and multiples of guitar and synth chord changes running throughout the album.

Unfazed is a perfect listen for indie rock purists who are loyal to truly talented alternative and indie rock artists and bands who are simply damn good, especially at a time when ‘indie rock’ itself has become more mainstream.

Someone needs to get these guys to come to the mainland and totally go for it. Naturally, things are picking up for the band, including landing praised performance slots at regional and state music festivals. Now it’s time to throttle forward to the mainland. The band is currently recording their fourth album.

Via Soundcloud: “More” – The Modern Savage from Unfazed

The Modern Savage on Facebook


Empire of Gold – Jack & Cocaine

A little over a month ago we featured the new music video for Empire of Gold’s single, “Intoxicated” from the recently released album, Crass. He’s just released the second single from the album, “Jack & Cocaine.”

Chicago musician Michael Jack Dole is the entire band and production team; otherwise known as the proverbial one-man band – behind Empire of Gold. He is also a huge fan of grunge and alternative rock.

Dole is also a man who doesn’t give a shit whether people like his music or not. As he contends, he’s a DIY musician who works a blue collar job by day. He refuses to change anything or to bow to anyone. His lo-fi, distorted punk-inspired garage rock sound is not something he does to satisfy the industry’s predetermined, cutter-cookie, over produced format that record execs and radio program directors want to proliferate.

“I will gladly wither away for the rest of my life in the warehouses I work instead of seeing my music be over-produced,” he says defiantly, without self-righteous indignation.

He gets a bit testy when it comes to this particular topic. Dole is not a fan of the endless refinements that go into modern popular music, where the line between human and tech/computer talent and skill sets is very blurry indeed these days.

“Fuck that cookie-cutter, overly produced and refined crap on the radio pumped with computerized samples of other peoples’ music, programmed beats, auto-tune and fake instruments.”

“When people listen to this album,” he says forcefully, “ I’d rather they hear the passion, rage and hard work of ONE man’s efforts, instead of critiquing or caring about the overall production value because it’s supposed to be raw and unrefined.”

As a tenaciously fierce DIY warrior and bedroom artist, Dole does not have and does not want access to a studio or a producer. Instead, he is self-trained on guitar, bass and a Mac mini with Logic Pro, a pre-amp, and some plugins.

“I don’t care about having a band,” he says. “Right now what matters to me is to keep improving my sound and production skills while retaining the edgy, unrefined sound I love so much.”

For the new album, Crass (named for “the sound I adore”), Dole is resolute in his stance of remaining true to his work, avoiding, at all costs, any noticeable sense of fine-tuning.

Songs like the standout, Nirvana-inspired, “Intoxicated,” and the tragic, blazing guitar and bass of, “Jack & Cocaine,” his newest single, as well as the sluggish, edgy, “No Sleep,” the 90’s alt-driven “Beautiful Mistake,” and the punk/garage rocker jam, “Dumb,” among others. The album, in total, has a blazing, buzzing, raw and angry sound.

“I like when people call my lyrics and my sound brash and crass,” he says, “hence the album name. I love my guitars *loud* like sludge metal, which is the biggest reason for the drums and bass being lower. I have always been driven by guitars more than anything. When I was a kid, I didn’t listen to lyrics, drums or bass. I was all about the vocal melody and riffs. I faded out the rest.”

His cover of Nirvana’s “Sappy,” he says, is a track he is ‘very proud’ of, adding, “I made it unique and it would be so humbling if, even in a small way, some Nirvana fans felt it was a good homage to the band, since I realize that it is a really high bar, and not one that many musicians aim for in fear of being ridiculed.“

Last summer, in June of 2015, Empire of Gold’s debut EP, Raw, was released. Crass is his new debut LP album.

Empire of Gold on Facebook


La Historia – Low Mimetic

The member of La Historia, an indie rock band from Rockford, Illinois, are (formerly of bands like Gods Reflex and The Braves), dropped their debut LP, Low Minetic, earlier this year, featuring standout tracks like the heavily melodic, “Please Do” and the more upbeat, poignant track, “Fall Right Through,” among others.

The album was produced by Mike Hagler (Wilco, Mekons, Neko Case) in Chicago at Kingsize Soundlabs. Band members are Kevin Schwitters (guitar, vocals); Jesse Carmona (drums, vocals); Phil Goudreau (guitar) and Luke Kramer (bass, vocals).

La Historia has toured the midwest opening for bands like Textbook, Joie de Vivre, Warren Franklin FFs, The Bollweevils, Les Jupes, with musical influences ranging from Jawbox and Superchunk, to the Replacements, and Bloom.

Via Soundcloud: “Please Do”La Historia fom Low Minetic

La Historia on Facebook

Best New DIY & Indie Rock Music of 2016, Vol. II – HYMNS, Cesar Maria, shy kids, March On Comrades, A-Mac DZ, Huckleberry, Rikashay

This is the second installment of the Best DIY Music of 2016, with many more to come. Don’t miss recent posts and playlist with oodles of amazing artists and bands you’ve probably never before. From London to Phoenix and Ontario to New York, and from Denver to Fort Wayne.

HYMNS – London, England
Cesar Maria – New York via San Francisco
shy kids – Toronto, Ontario
Huckleberry – Phoenix, Arizona
March On, Comrade – Fort Wayne, Indiana
A-Mac DZ – Denver, Colorado
Rikashay – Markham, Ontario

HYMNS – The London EP

HYMNS is a London alternative rock band formed by guitarist and vocalist Oliver Hooper, Giorgio Compagnone on bass guitar and backing vocals, Matthew Ash on guitar and Ben Edwards on drums. The band’s driving dark rock sound on tracks like “London” and “Masquerade” draw influences from bands such as Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Interpol and Queens of the Stone Age, and genres such as alternative, indie rock and hints of post rock. They remind us a little of Editors. The band’s new release, out now, is titled The London EP.

“The new EP explores themes of isolation, desperation and hope in modern day city living,” Hooper says. “It is a collection of songs that offer an honest commentary on the way we live and attempts to offer a pragmatic way forward.”

The band recorded their just released EP at Smokehouse Studios at the Tobacco Docks in London. Most of the songs were recorded live with additional vocal, guitar and synth overdubs added during mixing. The songs were tracked through a Classic 66 channel Cadac E type console, produced by Rohan Budd, and mixed in ProTools.

MP3: “London“HYMNS from The London EP

Via Soundcloud: “Masquerade“HYMNS from The London EP

HYMNS on Facebook


Cesar Maria – Cesar Maria

Cesar Maria (aka Sayzar Mareuh) is a New York City indie rock artist who is heavily influenced by a variety of genres including classic rock and post punk. A multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and producer, Maria has narrowed his sound into a splashy psychedelic blend of folk, glam rock and garage rock.

His talents as an artist set him apart from many of his DIY contemporaries. Take the lead single from his new release. The rebel-rousing, addictive, “Let It On,” from his new self-titled EP, reminds us of something like Bowie, T. Rex and Violent Femmes all together for one nerdy, rocking glam jam. Maria’s biggest musical influences also include Neil Young and Gram Parsons, also which are evident in his not-always-easy-to-pin-down sound.

MP3: “Let It On“Cesar Maria from Cesar Maria

Via Soundcloud: “The Answer“Cesar Maria from Cesar Maria

Cesar Maria on Facebook


shy kids – Lofty

Quirky indie chamber pop with sweeping and triumphant swells of ringing guitars, crunchy synths, booming percussions, joyous choruses dripping with melodic hooks are the hallmarks of Toronto indie band shy kids‘ indelibly catchy single, “Rockets.”

There is a twist though; towards the end of the track, things get a bit chaotic and psychedelic – like in The Beatles’ “No.9” kind of way – with backwards tape winding, sound effects, random voice clips and more before suddenly it stops without warning. The video for “Rockets“ is also a trip.

Another track, “Terminally In Love With You,” also from the album, Lofty, is beautifully melancholic, a total juxtaposition to “Rockets,” yet more evidence of the band’s collective talents. The members are Walter Woodman (singer/bass); Patrick Cederberg (guitar, piano), and Matthew Hornick (guitar, piano).

MP3: “Rockets“shy kids from Lofty

MP3: “Terminally In Love With You“ shy kids from Lofty

The band members are influenced by the following bands and artists: Broken Social Scene, Animal Collective, Queen, Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Fiona Apple, and The Beatles.

shy kids on Facebook


Huckleberry – Shasta City, Bad News Ricky

Phoenix indie rockers Huckleberry have managed to drop one of the best DIY singles we’ve heard so far this year – the inspiring and infectious, “Wild Ricky,” off of the band’s new EP, Shasta City, Bad News Ricky. It’s just got that certain spunk and energy to it.

Another track, “Shasta,” an ode to the beautiful majesty of Mt. Shasta in California, is a much different track, a folkish alt. country song that highlights the band’s diverse influences including The Avett Brothers, The Oh Hellos, Bird Dog, Grateful Dead, and Wilco.

MP3: “Wild Ricky“Huckleberry from Shasta City, Bad News Ricky

Via Bandcamp: “Shasta“ – Huckleberry from Shasta City, Bad News Ricky

Huckleberry on Facebook


March On, Comrade – March On, Comrade

In 2015, Fort Wayne DIY band March On, Comrade formed “out of the smoldering ashes” of the talented, disbanded Ordinary Van, and have been playing to sold out audiences ever since.

“Our live show contains programmed industrial lighting, extensive guitar effects, percussion, and layered reverbs,” says guitarist Ryan Holquist.

The band’s new self-titled debut EP features the band’s piano-driven, epic, and sprawling sounds, oozing with melodies and harmonies of indie rock with post rock influences on songs like “Shade,” and the awesome vocal work of bassist John Ptak, who has a mighty vocal range that enhances, not dilutes, the song itself.

The other accomplished band members of March On, Comrade include guitarist Charlie Davis, drummer Chris Leonard, and Ben Robinson on keys and. percussion. The band has opened for bands like Metavari and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and are majorly influenced by Sigur Rós and Radiohead.

MP3: “Shade“March On, Comrade from March On, Comrade

Bonus Track via Bandcamp: “Prism“March On, Comrade from March On, Comrade

March On, Comrade on Facebook


A-Mac DZ – The Gift of Music

From Denver comes the DIY band A-Mac DZ, fusing upbeat folk rock with reggae grooves, hip-hop flavor and jam band influences. The band just dropped their new album, The Gift of Music, comprising memorable tracks like the title track and the captivating, “Balance and Purpose.”

The band includes vocalist and guitarist Alex Mackenzie-Low; drummer Matt McElwain; keyboardist Karl Rivers; guitarist Billy Farmer; percussionist Jake Heym, and bassist Robby Sands. A-Mac DZ have opened for bands like Rusted Root, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and MarchFourth!, and count among their biggest influences Nahko & Medicine For The People, Dispatch, and Citizen Cope.

MP3: “Balance & Purpose“A-Mac DZ from The Gift of Music

A-Mac DZ on Facebook


Rikashay – All Alright

The Markham, Ontario indie pop band Rikashay dropped their debut EP, All Alright, last month, featuring the single, “Please!,” an indie lo-fi pop rock track that has an awesome hook that save the song from indie pop mediocrity.

The second track, the ska-inspired, “Carefree,” is a stronger song overall, and actually a lot of fun at an outdoor barbeque, partly thanks to it’s unmistakable Weezer influence. The duo is vocalist and guitarist Isaac Papineau and drummer Jaiden Crawford. And it’s no surprise the band are big fans of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Talent, Weezer, Mac DeMarco, and Less Than Jake.

MP3: “Please!“Rikashay from All Alright

Via Soundcloud: “Carefree“Rikashay from All Alright

Rikashay on Facebook

Best New DIY & Indie Rock Music of 2016, Vol. I – Deer Park, Starfinder, Vicious Kicks, Susan Hyatt

The first volume of the Best New DIY Music of 2016 – of the hundreds and hundreds of songs we’ve listened to so far this year – features artists and bands from all across the U.S., including cities like Seattle and Phoenix to San Francisco and Nashville, and in farer away locales such as Canada, England and Australia. And there is so much more coming so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

If you have been following IRC for a while, you may remember how crazy popular the 2015 Best New DIY Music series was – garnering, altogether, over 2,500 shares on social media; more than 87,000 views and hundreds and hundreds of MP3 downloads and streams.

There is some really amazing music and artists and bands to discover below – for most of you, the first time you’re encountering the musicians and bands listed below, including cousins of The Black Keys, friends of Tame Impala and guest appearances from indie rock icons like Ariel Pink, from professional musicians with amazing cover songs to bands reflecting the grit and abandonment of a post industrial society.

In This Installment:

Deer Park – Seattle, Washington
Starfinder – Chicago, Illinois
Vicious Kicks – Los Angeles, California
Susan Hyatt – Nashville, Tennessee
Human Buoy – Perth, Australia
MOSAICS – San Francisco, California
Joel Strauss – Kelowna, British Columbia
Gibberish – Los Angeles, California
Windmills – San Francisco, California

Note: Hypem has certain restrictions that totally eliminates posts from Hypem that contain over 10 mp3 links. OK, we get it may be too much of a load on Hypem, but why not display the first 10 instead of eliminating ALL of the songs from appearing at all for our followers? Hype Machine folks?


Deer Park – Quentin In My Vitamins

Based out of Seattle, the relatively new indie rock project Deer Park kicks out a Built To Spill-like alt. rock grit with mini theatrics on “Me Against The World,” just one of the riveting songs on Deer Park’s debut album, Quentin In My Vitamins.

Rob Auerbach, a cousin of Dan Auerbach (Black Keys), is the founder and main force behind Deer Park. In addition to writing and singing all of the songs, Auerbach played all of instruments – including guitar, bass and drums – and programmed, recorded, mixed and produced every song, including the cool-ass follow-up track, “Coffee.”

Auerbach’s favorite bands include Tera Melos, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and Cage The Elephant – not surprising at all when you listen to his songs. Deer Park has now expanded into a full band, with the addition of members Ben Jelinek, Brian DePartee and Jack David.

MP3: “Me Against The World”Deer Park from Quentin In My Vitamins

Bonus MP3: “Coffee”Deer Park from Quentin In My Vitamins

Deer Park on Facebook


Starfinder – “If I Were You”

With a blockbuster of 80’s and 90’s underground influences like New Order, The Cure, Joy Division and Depeche Mode, among others, Chicago musician Ian G (Ian Galloway) has just launched a brand new electronic music project, Starfinder.

As Starfinder, Galloway celebrates his love of new wave, synth pop and goth, and also draws from years of experience as a band member of several past and present punk, garage, and indie rock bands, including Porno Mags, whose self-released debut album peaked at #47 on CMJ in 2014. He is also a member of Chicago bands Witchfeet and Joy Shooters. Woah, dude, slow down.

Music was something that was central to his life from early teens.

“I got into skateboarding and in turn started hearing punk rock and early indie rock in skate videos,” he says. “I was immediately drawn to stuff like Dinosaur Jr, Fugazi, and Bad Religion.” In his later teen years, Galloway studied, wrote and produced electronic music in his spare time.


The tantalizing, New Order-influenced track, “If I Were You,” is the first single released by Starfinder, and his first venture into electronic based music, with, he promises, many more productions in the works. We’ve watched the song track on Soundcloud over the past couple of months, and it has picked up enthusiastic feedback from music lovers – always a good sign when the audience is engaging.

We know a lot about how to measure how an artist is received by fans, and one way is to look at their Soundcloud. For Starfinder to receive 50 positive comments on a track with approximately 1,200 plays says something profound about the excitement his music has sparked with a whole lot of music lovers in a very short time. That is rare.

Another track, “In The Dark,” sounds like another jem already with a cool vibe, prominent drum beat, catchy rhythm, echoey vocals and synth and guitar melodies and hooks throughout. We’d like to hear, however, a higher production value because the instrumentation, via production, is a bit muted; it should be bigger-sounding, in our opinion. And that’s why we say – promising artist.

MP3: “If I Were You”Starfinder

Soundcloud: “In The Dark”Starfinder

Starfinder on Facebook


Vicious Kicks – Los Angeles, California

Vicious Kicks is the Los Angeles songwriting duo of DIY songwriters and musicians Nzo Tiano and Ray Giron. The two friends, now in their early 20s, have been writing songs together since they were in high school, where they met and realized they had similar music interests.

Last week, VK dropped their new track, “Weekend,” which we think is one of the best DIY singles so far this year. Check it out for yerself and give love if you’re feeling it. Their top musical influences – hints of which you can hear in their songs – include Black Keys, Tame Impala, Cream, Foo Fighters, and Wolf Mother.

“It was an exciting track to work with,” Tiano says, “especially coming from our talented friend, Eric (a.k.a Yungwar1ock). He presented the song to us, and we immediately gravitated to the feel-good vibe by adding our own lyrical and creative embellishments.”

Vicious Kicks was officially formed last year, and soon after released their debut EP, Mayhem. The EP is full of hard-hitting, in-your-face pop rock on well produced songs like “Run” and the unforgettable, “Workaholic.” The guys also create their own artwork – and as you can see displayed above, is impressive, especially the new cover art for “Weekend.”

Another track, “Wicked Summer,” one of their first tracks, is a hard-driving, funky and celebratory track that is, as its title implies, perfect for the summertime.

MP3: “Weekend”Vicious Kicks

“Indie rock is rough on the edge, no holds barred state of mind that feeds on creating a sound that is not limited to mainstream expectations and limitations.” – Nzo Tiano

Vicious Kicks on Facebook


Susan Hyatt – Pin-Ups & Trumpets

Cover albums come out all of the time and the vast majority of them should have never been released. But in the case of professional musician Susan Hyatt, her new covers album, Pin-Ups & Trumpets, is simply exceptional. She worked on the album with famed Nashville producer Zack Leffew.

“I have always been a fan of David Bowie’s Pin Ups album,” Hyatt says. “This record is my Pin Ups, and includes some of my fave dark rock songs [when I was] growing up.”

Hyatt describes the album as ‘dark indie jazz’ where trumpets have replaced guitars. And somehow the duo pull it off, upping the ante for unconventional cover songs, or just cover songs in general, on covers from Motley Crue’s “Looks That Kill” to Marilyn Manson’s “The Dope Show,” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” to Judas Priests’ “Breaking The Law.”

“I chose the songs that I loved growing up, the ones I felt most connected to lyrically and melodically. The most challenging cover was Life in the Fast Lane. I am a huge fan of the original song and I knew in order to cover it I had to make it a total departure from the original. My ideas was to make it artsy and mellow like Nine Inch Nails meets Twin Peaks.”

Our favorite is her sensual and totally original cover of the late and great David Bowie‘s “Young Americans.” We are willing to take the chance to say that Ziggy Stardust would be proud.

Hyatt and Leffew have taken on a kick-ass collection of rock and roll favorites and given them a totally different spin that you’re not going to hear anywhere else. This is an album you want, because you’re likely to play it again and again. Hyatt is obviously a very accomplished, and cool ass, musician.

It’s so nice to have something so original – as original as one can be for cover songs. From soprano to sultry and seductive, Hyatt has a voice that allows her to explore almost any genre she wants and yet retain the brass roots of jazz and rock at the same time.

MP3: “Young Americans” (David Bowie) – Susan Hyatt from Pin-Ups & Trumpets

Bonus: “Looks That Kill” (Motley Crue) – Susan Hyatt from Pin-Ups & Trumpets

Susan Hyatt’s official website


MOSAICS – Year of Valor

The second single, “Freedom,” from San Francisco acoustic-electronic pop trio MOSAICS has an industrial electro edge with a wicked rhythm accompanied by sensual vocals.

The track is the follow-up to the success of the first single, “Year of Valor”, the title track from the band’s new EP set to drop on May 27th.

The album features a collection of carefully arranged and produced songs, and marks the debut of Bay Area vocalist Maryam Sadeghian, whose seductive vocals have added a layer of mystery and intrigue to the band’s music, which is decidedly more electro-acoustic than previous releases.

MP3: “Freedom”MOSAICS from Year of Valor

MOSAICS’ official website


Human Buoy – Animation Station

The spooky, funky “Period Of Maximum Excitability” is the new single from Perth, Australian indie psych band Human Buoy‘s debut album, Animation Station. The track is obviously meant to sound dark and ominous since the adopted subject matter is just that.

The song was written in Amsterdam after band founder and multi-instrumentalist Ben McDonald (who has worked with members of Tame Impala and POND), watched a documentary about the ‘collective consciousness’ of the world that suggests the sun’s activity “seems to freakishly mirror that of the population’s behaviour,” he said.

“It’s during the solar cycle known as the ‘period of maximum excitability’ when pivotal events such as world wars and revolutions most occur,” McDonald adds. And thus, the name and theme of Human Buoy’s debut.

One thing that would have made the song stronger, I think, is if that cool little guitar picking at the end of the track was woven in and out throughout the quieter realms of the song because it provides a little levity that is beckoning. But all around, it’s a solid track. While we dig this new single, we like the debut single, “Oxygen”, just a little more.

Animation Station features special guest appearances by Ariel Pink; Nick Allbrook (POND); Malcolm Clark; Ben Smith (Blud), and Shiny Joe Ryan. McDonald plays guitar, bass and synths, as well as produces and mixes. His biggest influences, he says, are David Bowie, Beck and MGMT.

MP3: “Period Of Maximum Excitability”Human Buoy from Animation Station

Human Buoy on Facebook


Joel Strauss – Songs For The Vaudeville Theatre

From the natural beauty of western British Columbia, the DIY Kelowna-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joel Strauss returns with a terrific new album, Songs For The Vaudeville Theatre, featuring the standout, heavily melodic and hook-filled “Vaudeville.”

The track, and the album, is meticulously arranged and produced, once again highlighting Strauss’ many talents as one man band, performing adeptly on guitar, bass and drums, among other instruments.

His wonderfully distinctive, high-pitched, somewhat nasally, vocal range is one of the best registers to come out the Great White North. Strauss’ influences include Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, and Leonard Cohen.

The idea for the concept album struck Strauss after he was reading about vaudeville. “That mix of creativity, expression and performance has me convinced that if I lived in the 1920s and 1930s, I would have been a vaudevillian myself,” he says. “There are sounds on this album that echo the sounds in music from the 20s and 30s – as if there is a piece of this history placed inside the songs.”

MP3: “Vaudeville”Joel Strauss from Songs For The Vaudeville Theatre

Joel Strauss Official Site


Gibberish – “Rudedue”

The track, “Rudedude,” is the newest experimental synth pop delight from Los Angeles duo Gibberish. At the helm, Derek Bromley uses his unique perspective on California pop together with Animal Collective-like sampling and effects and Panda Bear-style vocals and dubbing. Gibberish is currently working on a follow-up to their fine 2015 debut EP, Winter Coat.

MP3: “RudeDude”Gibberish

Gibberish official website


Windmills – “Go Without”

Windmills is the moniker of lo-fi DIY multi-instrumentalist Wayne Mills whose stimulating new track, “Go With,” from his new release The Black Rose, features more of the San Francisco musicians’ ‘classic Tascam Portastudio bedroom folk’ with influences as diverse as Elliott Smith, Circa Survive and Bright Eyes. The video for the track is also worth checking out.

MP3: “Go Without”Windmills from The Black Rose

Windmills on Facebook

Best New Indie Rock Releases of 2016, Vol. II – Ty Segall, METZ, DIIV, Night Beats, Half Japanese, M. Ward, Foals, Savages, Dr. Dog

This second edition of the Best New Indie Rock Release of 2016 starts off with a series of noise rock singles from good to amazing new albums from artists and bands like Ty Segall, METZ, Penetration Moon, Half Japanese and Night Beats.

In addition to lo-fi rockers, there are also new and terrific 2016 singles from artists and bands like M. Ward, The Besnard Lakes, The Senior Service, Foals, Fat White Family, Shearwater and NARCS.

If you missed Volume One of the Best New Indie Rock Releases of 2016, you’ll want to check it out. It features a new streaming playlist. There is also our new built-in playlist below, featuring the top indie hits out right now.

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

One of our favorite lo-fi garage rock bands, Ty Segall, dropped one of the top ass-kicking albums of 2016 so far with the release of Emotional Mugger, a release that unleashes yet another set of raw, biting and explosive garage rock mixed with psych effects, punk, and sparring guitar notes, booming bass rhythms and hard-hitting, uptempo beats.

With heavy influences, as always, from The Beatles’ psychedelic, pop and rock styles, and glorious guitar and percussive rock from days gone by, Emotional Hugger, is one blazing organism of wonderful, lo-fi, psych-soaked garage rock noise on songs like “Diversion,” the title track, “Candy Sam,” and the terrific “Breakfast Eggs.”

MP3: “Diversion”Ty Segall from Emotional Mugger on Drag City

METZ – “Eraser”

Sticking with the manic lo-fi, garage rock/punk of Ty Segall’s newest release, MENTZ kicks it up and knocks it down hard, with flesh to steel and sticks to skins on the split 7″ single, “Eraser” b/w “Pure Auto,” via Sub Pop. You know they rehearsed the balls off of these smoking tracks and the cops were called out a few times to pull the plug. How many complaints and evictions do you think METZ faced before finding a place where they could make this much magnificent noise rock?

MP3: “Eraser”METZ from Eraser single

Penetration Moon

Penetration Moon – Penetration Moon

The new-to-us band Penetration Moon kicks ass rock and roll Ramones style on the debut single “Sluts In The City,” from the self-titled new album out on Burger Records. Really loving the tits on that track. Penetration Moon has achieved a high bar right out of the gate, which is why we dared to make a reference, every so delicately, to our beloved Ramones.

MP3: “Sluts In The City”Penetration Moon from Penetration Moon on Burger Records

Dr. Dog – The Psychedelic Swamp

The title track from Dr. Dog‘s new album, The Psychedelic Swamp, is a different sound than most people are used to hearing from the popular indie rock band from Philly. It’s a more theatrical, psychedelic (surprisingly) rock sound that sometimes reminds us of artists from Meatloaf to The Beatles to a more pop sound from the band.

MP3: “The Psychedelic Swamp”Dr. Dog from The Psychedelic Swamp


DIIV – Is The Is Are

Another title track from yet another fine new album, DIIV‘s Is The Is Are is a driving, echoey key and drum lead track that sounds a little like Arcade Fire, but that’s OK – lots of songs sounds like parts of other songs or artists/bands. DIIV prove once again why they are a popular band.

MP3: “Is The Is Are”DIIV from Is The Is Are

Half Japanese – Perfect

Half Japanese‘s new single, “That Is That,” is raucous, distorted, lo-fi, garage rock with fast-grinding synths, and riveting sound effects to boot. There’s some Iggy and The Stooges gritty attitude in the lyrics and vocals, not to mention bumping bass, crashing cymbals and frenetic drumming – keeping right in line with the first half of this playlist featuring the best new releases of 2016.

MP3: “That Is That”Half Japanese from Perfect on Joyful Noise


Night Beats – No Cops

Seattle band Night Beats unleashes blazing psych rock with components of R&B, garage rock and prog with big hooks, evidenced by the single, “Sunday Mourning,” from the LP No Cops. The song chugs along with a heavy, upbeat bass and drum jam with raw grit. It even reminds us of The Kinks quite a bit.

MP3: “Sunday Mourning”Night Beats from No Cops on Heavenly

M. Ward – More Rain

The new album from the prolific M. Ward, More Rain, has received accolades from fans and critics alike. Not surprisingly. Above is the official video – complete with aerials over the southern California deserts and mountains – for the fantastic, uplifting, Paul Simon (post Simon & Garfunkel) like acoustic track, “Girl From Conejo Valley.” M. Ward continues to amaze.

MP3: “Girl From Conejo Valley”M. Ward from More Rain


The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum

The newest release, A Coliseum Complex Museum, from Montreal indie rock band The Bernard Lakes, and the lead single “Golden Lion,” harken back to the sounds of mid to late 60’s psych rock with 21st century guitar pedal effects.

MP3: “Golden Lion”The Besnard Lakes from A Coliseum Complex Museum on Jagjaguwar

Note: Heaven Adores You – Elliott Smith

See our review of Heaven Adores You


The Verigolds – For Margaret

San Diego indie band The Verigolds, who we originally featured last spring for the fantastic single, “Grunge,” have released their debut album, For Margaret, funded by Kickstarter. And we can see why there is excitement among their fans and followers. Songs like the infectious single, “Gloom,” make it a debut the band members can be proud of.

Foals – Birch Tree

The long awaited new album, Birch Tree, from Foals offers somewhat of a new sound for long-time fans of the band – there’s more programmed beats and bass (or at least sounds like it) and less of the stripped down rawness that we miss. The track and video for “Birch Tree” is one of the top highlights on the album.

MP3: “Birch Tree”Foals from Birch Tree

Fat White Family – Whitest Boy on The Beach

The Fat White Family kick out psych rock mixed with elements of rockabilly, surf rock and even event grade Talking Heads type nuttiness that is both sweet and punk at the same time with Johnny Cash rhythm all the way through. Totally original, crazy and fun.

MP3: “Whitest Boy on The Beach”Fat White Family from Whitest Boy on The Beach

Savages – Adore Life

The music video for the the UK frantic post punk outfit Savages’ newest single, “Adore,” from the band’s fresh release – Adore Life via Matador – has amassed more than 550,000 views in the past month. It’s a bit too Sinead OConnor-ish for our liking, but obviously there are people that love it, and we are huge Matador fans.

MP3: “Adore”Savages from Adore Life on Matador

NARCS – “Pig”

Noisy, dark garage rock guitars and rumbling bass and crashing drums bellow out of the new single, “Pig,” from the Leeds alt. rock UK band NARCS, ahead of their expected album follow up to their successful debut. Having performed at the Leeds & Festival, the band then went on to tour the UK and are definitely revving up for U.S. exposure and perhaps an east coast tour.



Shearwater from Jet Plane and Oxbow

A long-time local favorite in Austin, the band Shearwater with a continuation of their last album – 2012’s Animal Joy – featuring a collection of finely crafted pop rock songs that pulls clear influences of 80’s pop rock with driving rhythms, emotive vocals and hooklicious choruses and oodles of melody.

MP3: “Quiet Americans”Shearwater from Jet Plane and Oxbow on Sub Pop


The Senior Service – Depth Charge

This is a top rate instrumental, but more suited for a 1960s Italian spaghetti western B-film. The Senior Service is group made up of members from a broad swathe of other bands. The Mighty Caesars, The James Taylor Quartet, The Masonics: even one of Billy Childish’s groups, The Buff Medways.

MP3: “Hall of Mirrors”The Senior Service from Depth Charge on Damaged Goods

Best New Releases 2016, Vol. I – The 1975, SVIIB, Yuck, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective, Coastgaard, Her Magic Wand, Golden Daze

Two months have already been burned out for 2016. As is true with most years, the new album releases were slow to a trickle up until the past few weeks. Since, they’ve been coming out in rapid fire succession. So much so that it’s been really hard to keep up. But here are our picks for best new releases from signed indie artists and bands.

Best New Releases for Week of Feb. 29th with The 1975, Yuck, SVIIB, etc.

The 1975 have worked their way from piss-flooded dive bars to major venues in a few short years, and as the interestingly, and long-winded, title of their new album hints, there are stories of love to be told, integrated with groovy indie/alt. rock tracks like the irresistible “Love Me.”

“Love Me”The 1975 from I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

Yuck – Stranger Things

We loved Georgia’s noise pop band Yuck from the first time we heard them. The band’s third album, Hum, is a return to form that their sophomore album lacked – with the crazy energy and strong songwriting of Yuck’s debut, as evident on songs like “Hearts In Motion.”

“Hearts In Motion”Yuck from Stranger Things


School of Seven Bells – SVIIB

Amazing sounds fill SVIIB, the fourth, and alas, last, album from School of Seven Bells, following the 2013 death of Benjamin Curtis from cancer. It’s definitely an epic send-off from the popular dream pop duo. Interestingly, it’s a self-titled release. Under the circumstances, that seems fitting.

“Open Your Eyes”School of Seven Bells from SVIIB

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive

DC suburban band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down return with a new album, A Man Alive, that explores various genre mixing and issues of abandonment. The energetic and infectious stomp “Nobody Dies,” highlights Thao Nguyen‘s serrated vocals and the band’s specialized rhythms and melodies.

“Nobody Dies”Thao & the Get Down Stay Down from A Man Alive

Quilt – Plaza

The band Quilt returns with a new album, Plaza , featuring wistful psych pop grooves that makes the band sound more comfortable than ever, as displayed by the standout track, “Roller,” and the playful official video above.

“Roller”Quilt from Plaza

Her Magic Wand – Everything At Once

Parisian songwriter and musician Charles Braud dropped his debut album, Everything At Once, using the moniker Her Magic Wand last week. Brimming with stories that range from neurological conditions (“Everything At Once”) to isolation, Braud aptly crafts a compelling compendium of stories with a catchy electro-pop mixed with indie rock flavor throughout that he calls “melancholic pop.”

The album content, so wonderfully woven musically, also highlights the passing of time, and how it fades memories (“Blank Memory Track”), or even death as personified by a younger Robert Redford in a The Twilight Zone episode from 1961 called ‘Nothing in the Dark’ (“Harold Beldon”).

Braud pieced together all of the instruments that he recorded on separate tracks with the mixing help from audio alchemist Stephane ‘Alf’ Briat, who has mixed for bands like Phoenix and Air, and mastering engineer, Chab, who has mastered albums for Daft Punk and Etienne Daho.

Her Magic Wand draws inspiration from a mix of dream pop and electronica, a collision of genres that can be found in Lali Puna’s cover of Slowdive’s shoegaze anthem, “40 Days”, where the German outfit traded Slowdive’s guitars full of reverb for digital signal processing effects. The song had a big impact on Braud, who took the opposite route, shifting from computer music (his “magic wand”) back to fuzzy guitars and analog synths.

The first single, and title track, “Everything At Once,” received over 10,000 plays on Soundcloud, and thousands of views of the video.

“Everything At Once” – Her Magic Wand from Everything At Once

Her Magic Wand on Facebook


Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered

The popular Russian shoegaze band, Pinkshinyultrablast, just released their sophomore album, Grandfeathered, which is a feast for the ears for fans of dreamy, ethereal music. There are some surprises too for fans of the band’s widely acclaimed debut. Let’s just say PSUB is spreading its wings – as evidenced on the terrific single, “The Cherry Pit.”

“The Cherry Pit”Pinkshinyultrablast from Grandfeathered


Eerie Wanda – Hum

A perfect blend of 60’s pop and psych-tinged dream pop come together on the melancholic, summery single, “I Am Over Here,” from Eerie Wanda, the project of Croatian/Dutch singer and songwriter Marina Tadic with the help of the rhythm section of Jacco Gardner‘s band. Her debut album as Eerie Wanda, Hum, is a special treat of song after song of surprises and experimental and wistful musical explorations.

“I Am Over Here”Eerie Wanda from Hum


Purple Pilgrim – Eternal Delight

Australian duo Purple Pilgrim‘s debut offers heavily-distorted dream pop that is haunting and beautiful. The delicate, ethereal key notes, dreamy bass lines and heavenly, wistful vocals of the single, “Thru Every Cell,” is a nice recipe to chill with after a stressful day.

“Thru Every Cell”Purple Pilgrim from Eternal Delight


Coastgaard – Devil on The Balcony

Certainly the guys of Brooklyn indie pop band band Coastgaard had the beach in mind when writing their deliciously wistful and upbeat songs, created by well crafted pop songs brimming with sunny, guitar-dominate atmospherics and solid influences of surf guitars and melodies of the 1960s. The lead single, “Black White Fuzz,” is off of the band’s new sophomore album, Devil on The Balcony.

“Black White Fuzz”Coastgaard from Devil on The Balcony

“Loop The Loop”Bullion from Loop The Loop

Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

The new album, Life of Pause, from indie favorite Wild Nothing features longer, more emotive tracks than previous versions, displaying a maturity in songwriting and production. The title track is the official first single from Captured Tracks

“Life of Pause”Wild Nothing from Life of Pause

Animal Collective – Painting With

Baltimore psych pop heroes Animal Collective‘s tenth album, Painting With, is referred to by the band as “our Ramones album,” even though it sounds a lot more like Devo. But the point is taken – there is a more stripped down and simplistic Animal Collective here, but fans should not worry because there is still plenty of fat glitches, sweeping harmonies and tripped out pop rock melodies. Here is one of the top singles from the album, ”

“Golden Gal”Animal Collective from Painting With


Releases from Ra Ra Riot, Golden Daze, The Fall

The Syracuse indie band Ra Ra Riot turns up the passion big time on their new album produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. California duo Golden Daze‘s self-title debut album features layers of melodic shoegaze guitar ambience infused with late 60’s psych and shimmering effects. Veteran rockers The Fall are back and still kicking out the zany hard-edged post punk that has made them one of the best such bands ever.

“Absolutely”Ra Ra Riot from Need Your Light

“Salt”Golden Daze from Golden Daze

“Wise Ol’ Man”The Fall from Wise Ol’ Man

Flashback Track (1988 UK TV): “Big New Prinz” – The Fall official video


Wolfmother Left to the Wolves

It’s harder to take Wolfmother as seriously as we did with the release of their first two albums. Once they signed up to the major label of Universal back in 2010, the music, predictably, has suffered. Their latest album, ironically named Victorious (since fans and critics don’t really agree), has too much polish on it and not enough of the band’s previous underlying grit.

This is what happens again and again when a great band goes major. It’s bullshit. When the big money compromises your soul, what do you have left? Eventually, one way or another, it reflects on the music, which is evident on both of the band’s Universal releases. Not surprisingly, fans have left in flocks since the signing.

Australia’s once red hot rock band has pretty much been viewed as a sellout by many of the early, and most loyal, fans. When bands choose money over fans, it’s the beginning of the end. At least if the music had some of the same magic as their earlier days, there’d be something worth salvaging. But, it’s just mediocre.

(Lesson #1 in ‘Band No No’s’: Never abandon your first and most loyal fans. Never.)