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  • Los Angeles folk pop band Family of the Year appeared on our radar in December, thanks to a friend who turned us on to their brilliant, and addictive, 2009 release, Songbook.

    The LP is one of those albums that you find yourself loving more and more with each spin, and that you go back to again and again. The band is now one of our favorite new bands, and definitely a band to watch in 2010.

    Family of the Year, who hail from LA's Silverlake area, a hilly region east of Hollywood, are not completely unknown in the world of music. They played four shows at New York's CMJ last fall, and toured the U.S. in a RV that they lovingly call Rosie. But it was the release of Songbook that really put them into a new category of prominence.

    Moreover, last September, conductor Keith Lockhart, and singer-songwriter Ben Folds, selected the LA folk pop band out of more than 650 applicants to open for Ben Folds’ performance with the Boston Pops on Friday, on October 2, 2009, at Symphony Hall in Boston.

    "Let's Go Down" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

    There is some relevance to the band's name - it started as a project of brothers Joe Keefe (guitar and vocals) and Sebastian Keefe (drums and guitar), and Jamesy Buckey (guitar and engineer). The brothers, who grew up in Wales, first gained recognition on the local scene as part of the Martha’s Vineyard-based raw rock ensemble Unbusted. Not long after, they were featured in the Edgefest Cafe's broadcast on June 21 and 22, 2006, prior to the Boston Pops performances with My Morning Jacket.

    Family of the Year's assemble expanded with the addition of singer Vanessa Long, an Orange County, California native, and actor, whose feature films include XII, I’m On Fire, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Keyboardist Christina Schroeter, also from Orange County, is an entertainment public relations professional, and bassist Brent Freaney, hails from Long Beach, Mississippi. Contributing members include musicians Meredith Sheldon and Farley Glavin.

    Family of the Year's original name was Bogie Ogreton, but, at the urging of friends, family and their manager, they changed their name. Sebastian Keefe recently told Blast Magazine about the name change.

    "(Family of the Year) was nice-sounding, and we kind of evolved into a family, the six of us," Keefe explained. "We all live together in the same house and we all travel together … so it was kind of fitting."

    Keefe said the band's main influences - which are apparent listening to Songbook - are The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Crosy, Stills, Nash and Young, and Bob Dylan.

    "Feel Good Track Of Rosemead" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

    Mixing upbeat rhythms, sunny folk ballads, rich melodies, uplifting choruses, sweet pop harmonies, impressive story-telling, and even some dance beats, it's no wonder Family of the Year were chosen to open for Ben Folds and the Boston Pops.

    Because there are so many memorable, 'keeper' tracks on Songbook, it was quite a challenge to pick a few songs that stand out the most. We suspect that fans of the band who have listened to Songbook multiple times (and it's hard not to), face the same dilemma if asked to choose two or three favorite songs from the LP. Other standout tracks - and most songs on the LP are - include "Surprise," "No Good at Nothing," "Stupidland," and "Let's Be Honest."

    Family of the Year are selling their debut LP using the Radiohead model - basically name your price (minimum of $1). The CD version is $15 via their record label, Washashore Records.

    The band is performing tonight, February 1st, at the legendary Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles.

    "Summer Girl" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

    Family of the Year on MySpace

    Family of the Year on FaceBook

    Family of the Year on Twitter

    Here's a great interview with Sebastian from the blog, In Your Speakers.

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       February 1, 2010    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Arizona musicians Adam Mattson and Christopher James, known as the duo The Smiles and Frowns, really got our attention with their well crafted, simplistic pop melodies, instrumentation and beautiful, harmonic vocals.

    Since receiving their debut, self-titled LP last month, we've played it again and again. In fact, we fell in love with it so much, that it became necessary to step back and wonder how does one write a review of such a surprisingly terrific album? First off, they are so original that it's difficult to even begin to classify their sound.

    Each track on The Smiles and Frowns has its own charm, identity and story to tell. This release is easily one of the best indie music debut albums of 2009. Let's jump right in and fire up one of the album's many highlights, "The Echoes of Time."

    "The Echoes of Time" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    If you find yourself playing that song again and again, and eventually singing along, or even humming, you won't be alone. It's one of the catchiest, most memorable songs of the year. The song's appeal can also be attributed to its sweet, organic simplicity.

    The duo's contrasts are intriguing. For example, the guys switch it up on the next song, "Mechanical Songs," which starts off with a carnival like sampling before transitioning into a melancholic lo-fi ballad of sorts where the lyrics are at the forefront of the song backed only by guitar and some keyboard infusions. Interestingly, the song manages to pay justice to its title with a minimal reliance on instrumentation.

    "Mechanical Songs" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    Amazingly, there are very few reviews of this album to be found online. This was a shock, to say the least, but it also somehow makes it all the more special - like our little wonderful secret.

    The song, "Sam," is yet another example of the originality and honesty of The Smiles and Frowns' music. And this is also apparent in our Q/A (see below) with Adam Mattson. In true indie fashion, The Smiles and Frowns recorded their album in their own space using their own equipment, and proceeded to self release it on their own label, The Peppermint Hill.

    "Sam" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    While not everyone is likely to give the LP 4.5 of 5 stars as we have, that's fine because there is a certain appreciation and attraction for the professed stylistic influences of French cinematic music and rock and pop bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and Pink Floyd that swirl and twirl to create a wonderful collage of artistic music throughout the record. Seriously, if you can wear down an MP3 album by playing it too much, we're well on the way with this one.

    In the final analysis, it's nearly impossible to put into words the authentic appeal of The Smiles and Frowns' music, but it is yet another example of why we love great independent music so much.

    The Smiles and Frowns on MySpace

    IRC's Interview with The Smiles and Frowns

    Q: Who are your musical influences, past and present?

    A: It's impossible to list all the things that have influenced us...Well lets just say that all of the classic bands and albums have affected us. As for modern bands we like, just stop by our myspace page and dig around in our friends list and youll find plenty of brilliance. Damien Youth is a longtime favorite. And we recently were blown away by the artistry of R.W. Hedges, and we suggest checking both of them out.

    Q: What genre would you say your music falls into?

    A: A question like that can only be answered in regard to perspective. If you sit far enough back we might as well be just the same old classic pop/folk/psych band. But if you get up close and pay sincere attention, there is no one doing exactly what we are doing in the way that we are. So I'm glad to be such a part of tradition and revolution all at once.

    Q: What are your thoughts on how bands and musicians can make a living in
    time when no one knows how to make money on their music?

    A: This is tough to answer. I guess if there were only 10 bands on earth and there was no such thing as digital downloads those 10 bands would be rich. But there are a billion bands. Everyone and their brother is in a band. Music might as well be free these days because of how easy it is to get it, and how much of it there is. The only thing I can think of is for people to try to be more original and truly look inside themselves to find a more personal way to express themselves. That way, the art they are putting out will be more and more unique and rare, and it won't be something someone can just imitate. People can steal your face. They can steal your riff. But they can't ever steal your memories and your unique outlook, so I say look to those places for inspiration first, then worry about money later. Chances are if you tap into that personal thing in your art to that degree, money won't seem like such an essential part of being happy with your life.

    Q: What are some of your favorite songs/albums?

    A: Here are some songs, just off the top of my head, that we both enjoy:
    "Strawberry Tea" - Tiny Tim "The ABC's" - Dr. Dog "Land Of Oden" - Peter & Gordon "Cold Hard World" - Daniel Johnston "Chapi Chapo Theme" - François de Roubaix

    Q: When did you form your label; any other artists on the roster; or plans for such?

    A: The label (The Peppermint Hill) was first formed as a legal means of releasing music. But after awhile it seemed like a good idea to try to turn it into something more. We will just have to see how it goes. The only reason to do anything with it would be to get out more of the kind of stuff we think should exist and be heard.

    Q: What kind of equipment do you use to record?

    A: We have used all kinds. The realest of the real analog, and the fakest of the fake digital. We use things that are cheap and half broken and also some pretty high end stuff. We have been slaves to both the antique and the modern. But as far as specifics go, we have an old 1/2" 8 track reel to reel tape recorder, a Moog, various old guitars and basses, some effects pedals and tape echos, a tube amplifier, a banjo that everybody borrowed twice, and some old ribbon microphones. Its really just a big mix of all types of equipment from all eras, including modern technology.

    Q: How and why did you guys start recording together?

    A: We have known each other since high school, and both of us had a similar interest in music and art. Art with ironic twists and heavy escapism. We found ourselves in a band after several years of experimental recording and songwriting. It started off as just a means of self entertainment.

    Q: How would you describe your music?

    A: The current sound is a bit of a mix. There are haunted train ride songs, and children's theme music songs, psychedelic science fiction songs, etc. I guess it's mostly just a collection of experiments in sound, patterns, and melodies.

    Q: How would you describe your process for writing and recording?

    A: A lot of the songs are conceived melody first... as an idea forms, it springs forth from Adam into a micro-cassette recorder while banging down the road in a cupcake delivery truck. The melodies and lyrics are later fished out by us and then given a body. This is at least one way that our songs have found life.

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       November 29, 2009    5 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    avi buffalo mp3sEighteen-year-old Long Beach, Calif., guitarist and singer/songwriter Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, and his band, Avi Buffalo, have created quite a buzz within the indie music circles during the past year with their impressive folky pop hooks, intriguing lyrics and live shows. So it was no surprise to some when Seattle's legendary Sub Pop Records - home of popular indie artists like Band of Horses, The Shins, Iron and Wine, Grand Archives and Blitzen Trapper - signed Avi Buffalo to a record deal last month.

    With Isenberg at the helm, Avi Buffalo, consisting of Sheridan Riley (drums), Arin Fazio (bass) and Rebecca Coleman (keyboards and vocals), are now under the wings of one of the finest indie record labels in the business.

    Tonight, Nov. 2nd, Avi Buffalo will open for the wildly popular Vampire Weekend in a sold out show at the Art Theatre in Long Beach - clearly an indication of Avi's rising star status within the indie music scene.

    Things started to roll for the band after a couple of well received live performances in 2007 and 2008 led to a meeting with musician and producer Aaron Embry. Before long, Embry - who has worked with musicians like Elliott Smith, Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris - was recording Avi Buffalo's material.

    The result of this collaboration is evident on the band's label debut 7", due out next month via Sub Pop. The A-side track, "What's In It For?", is a jangly guitar driven song with a southern rock twang, and rounded out with well crafted, melodic hooks, Isenberg's high pitched and quirky vocals (think Wayne Coyne meets Daniel Johnston), and uplifting back-up choruses.

    "What's In It For?" - Avi Buffalo from What's in It For? 7" (2009)

    Isenberg begin recording home demos in 2006 when he was just a sophomore in high school (most of the band members recently graduated from high school; Riley is still a senior), and as recently as this past spring, he was mixing the demos using Macbook Pro Tools and SM58/57. In August, the band independently released five songs via their Bandcamp page, allowing fans to decide how much they would pay for each track.

    One of those tracks, "We Can't Try This Again," is a lazy, lo-fi acoustic strummer, featuring the following lyrics: no one ever said we can't try this again/brought it so high, brought me so high/spent too much time in there/don't know just what you saw. The translation is, perhaps, typical teenage disillusionment with the highs and lows of young love. Near the end of the song, a brief, but edgy, guitar riff shatters the dreamy soundscape, and closes with a chorus of whistling.

    "We Can't Try This Again" - Avi Buffalo

    If you like what you hear, you can purchase ($1 minimum) more tracks from the band, including "Distaste and Interest", Avi Buffalo's first song - written and recorded by Isenberg (when his moniker was Avi Buffalo before it became the band name) when he was only in the 10th grade.

    It's possible that some of these songs will make it on the track listing for the band's debut full-length album, planned for release in spring of 2010. Avi Buffalo lists musical influences such as Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Wilco, Panda Bear and Grizzly Bear. Isenberg recently told BeatCrave: "As much as I’d love to say we’re not pop, we’ve got some poppy stuff going on. I like the way hooks sound, and I like the idea of infiltrating minds with catchy stuff."

    We are looking forward to seeing Avi Buffalo open for the Grand Archives on Nov. 12th in Santa Cruz, Calif. In our review of the show, we will published more tracks from Avi Buffalo, including a couple of hard-to-find songs. In the meantime, listen to more songs on the band's MySpace page.

    Check out a HD quality video of Isenberg discussing his music, with studio out-takes, plus a video of the 7" B-side track, "Jessica" and a live recording of the song "Remember Last Time".

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       November 2, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir is not a gospel choir at all, but a rock band; and they're not even from London - their home base is Chicago. But the band's sound has an underlying influence of the post punk movement in the UK during the 1980s, with an indie rock predominance that includes joyous guitars, flourishes of horns and string arrangements and subject matter that ranges from disillusionment and betrayal to loneliness and STDs.

    In case you haven't heard, the band was involved in a terrible accident on September 24 in which all of the members were hospitalized. The band was traveling to Cincinnati for their next gig to promote their excellent new album, And The Horse You Rode In On. The police reports say the band's 1999 Chevrolet van blew a tire, causing the van to roll over "multiple times in the grassy median."

    The most seriously injured, Mark Yoshizumi, SYGC's bassist, was airlifted to hospital with leg, internal, and major head trauma injuries, where he is still listed in serious condition.

    We send our sincerest thoughts, and wishes for a full and speedy recovery for the band. If you want to help, the band is accepting donations to help off-set their medical bills, buy new instruments and equipment, and other mounting costs (via PayPal to There will also be a Halloween night benefit concert for the SYGC.

    Their new album, And The Horse You Rode In On, is brilliant! SYGC's MySpace page lists among their influences Ernest Hemmingway, The National Pop League, Jackson Pollock, "vegetarians, teenage punks and Daniel Johnston's honesty."

    "Tear Down the Opera House" - The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir from And The Horse You Rode In On (2009)

    "Stop!" - The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir from And The Horse You Rode In On (2009)
    Bonus (out of print): "Lamp Post" - The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir


    The next band in the Double Shots on the Rocks has been making a lot of buzz in 2009. They are LA's "tropical soul" band Fool's Gold, not to be confused with singer and songwriter Dan Folgenberg's back-up band of the same name from years ago.

    Fool's Gold's nucleus consists of Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov, and at other times is supplemented by musicians from We Are Scientists (an awesome band, by the way) and The Fall (legendary post-punk pioneers). Peasacov also plays in Foreign Born, one of our favorite "new" bands of 2009 thanks to their stunning LP Person to Person. The band considers among their main influences Afropop music.

    Fool's Gold debut, self-titled album dropped last month and has won critical acclaim from the mainstream press like The New York Times and music blogs, such as Pitchfork, and well, Indie Rock Cafe. Fool's Gold Luke Top hails from Israel and often sings in Hebrew on the band's exceptionally cheerful, infectious debut LP.

    "Surprise Hotel" - Fool's Gold from s/t debut (2009)

    "Nadine" - Fool's Gold from s/t debut (2009)

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       October 21, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    lowwaterindiebandBrooklyn band Low Water is an unsigned, indie rock band whose music conveys a sincerity and depth that is increasingly rare in an industry that too often relies on cookie cutter formulas, gimmicks and overly polished productions. Low Water's music has rightfully won resounding praise among radio stations, music publications and blogs, as well as national media such as PBS and NPR.

    Their new, self-released album, Twisting The Neck of The Swan, proves this is no run-of-the-mill Brooklyn indie rock band. Low Water deliver high caliber, soulful, melodic pop rock music that is refreshingly authentic, free flowing and memorable. Their moody, crisp songs are easily accessible to anyone who appreciates well crafted and honest rock and pop.

    Low Water's Twisting The Neck of The Swan is full of poetic lyrics, bright guitar riffs, pop experimentation and awesome vocal ranges that all pull together nicely on song after song. The opening track, "Voodoo Taxi," is melodic, catchy pop rock tune that people are probably going to play more than a couple of times.

    One of the album's stand out tracks is the dreamy, folk pop of "She Shined Down," one of the most Wilco-sounding (in a good way) songs in recent memory. Featuring story-telling lyrics, uplifting harmonies and perfectly time melodies and percussion, "She Shined Down" gradually progresses into a full-on band jam that last for about a minute until the song's triumphant end.

    A common MO, if you will, throughout Low Water's music, is how so often there are changes in tempo and style at different points within the same composition. And yet, every time, at every turn, it is done masterfully and somehow remains cogent and luring.

    Sometimes one of the indications of a great band is in their ability to create a long song that is actually engaging and enjoyable all the way through. In the case of the song "Charge," the band took a shot at an 11 minute experiment of Beatlesque pop rock, and pulled it off with amazing results.

    The song brilliantly shifts from cheerful pop melodies and old school guitar jams to dreamy choruses and 70's AM radio harmonies. There are a few points in the song when, if you're not watching the player, you might think the song is finished, and like a pleasant surprise, it continues on. There are not many songs this long that are keepers, but in my book, "Charge" is one of them.

    Even though the band gives the impression that they've been making rock music for a long time, band members, John Leitera (guitar and vocals), Dave Rubin (guitar), Joe Burch (drums) and Turner Stough (bass) only released their debut album five years ago.

    Low Water's 2004 self-released debut, Hard Words In A Speakeasy, was followed up in 2007 by the release of Who Said That Life Is Over?, featuring, among other impressive songs, the infectious pop tune, "House In The City," and the catchy, garage rocker "Brooklyn."

    Some of Low Water's biggest musical influences, according to Rubin, are Elvis Costello, The Kinks, George Jones, Spoon, and clearly, Wilco and The Replacements. The amazing thing about that is that you can clearly hear those influences in their music with such compelling, yet original, results.

    Rubin also cited Abbey Road (The Beatles), Marquee Moon (Television), #4 (You Am I) and Horsepower (The Phoenix Foundation) among the band's favorite albums.

    All things considered, Low Water is clearly one of the best unsigned bands in Brooklyn at the moment, and easily deserving of a "band to watch" declaration.

    "Voodoo Taxi" - Low Water from Twisting The Neck of The Swan (2009)

    "She Shined Down" - Low Water from Twisting The Neck of The Swan (2009)

    "Charge" - Low Water from Twisting The Neck of The Swan (2009)

    "House In The City" - Low Water from Who Said That Life Is Over? (2007)

    Low Water on MySpace

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       August 21, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    indie folk soft hillsSeattle indie folk pop band The Soft Hills blend dreamy melodies and sublime harmonies wrapped around introspective lyrics and seductive, rich vocals. While not completely obscure within the indie music circles, The Soft Hills' new EP, Painted World, has somehow slipped by the more popular music sites and blogs.

    Painted World
    features five solid songs that demonstrate the best of the ethereal possibilities of experimental indie folk mixed with pop. The EP is not overly produced or reliant on musical gimmicks - an increasing, and often unfortunate, trend in pop music over the past decade.

    The raw talent of The Soft Hills is evident on the opening track, "Apples," an airy and meandering ballad that takes to heart the power of original songwriting and production. The next song, "Spent," is smooth and sublime, graced with low-key acoustic guitar and piano, almost absent of extraneous percussion. As the song flows gently along, singer and songwriter Garrett Hobba unveils the somewhat ironic lyric, "you've been drifting too far."

    Hobba draws inspiration for his lyrics from 20th century literary artists, Eastern philosophy, and symbolic dreams. Fans of Mark Kozelek, the prolific singer and songwriter of San Francisco indie folk bands Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters take note; the likeness of The Soft Hills' sound and story-telling is, at times, remarkably similar, whether intentional or not.

    The sprawling track "Wandering" features ambient, rich harmonies, and the Belle & Sebastian-esque song "Hills Like White Elephants" is easily the EP's most up-tempo song. The record's last song, "Diamond Road," paints a lush Mojave 3-like sonic experience with hints of the folksy charm of Band of Horses. The only draw-back is that the song is a bit too long, clocking in at just under seven minutes long.

    The Soft Hills began their journey in 2007 when Hobba moved to Seattle and met up with drummer Caleb Heinrich. Soon the duo were joined by fellow Seattle musicians Brittan Drake on piano, guitar and bass and Brett Massa on guitar, bass and vocals.

    "Apples" - The Soft Hills from Painted World

    "Hills Like White Elephants" - The Soft Hills from Painted World

    Official website:

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       August 10, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Blindfold is a London based indie band from Iceland who play what is commonly referred to as 'cinematic indie pop'. The band's newly released sophomore album Faking Dreams is layered with artistic, textured and sprawling ambient rock songs that take the listener on a journey through hypnotic sonic landscapes. Fans of Icelandic indie pop will recognize similarities with other home grown indie artists like Sigur Ros and Sin Fang Bous.

    The band's frontman, founder and composer, Biggi Hilmarsson, described Blindfold's 'cinematic' sound like this: "We like building up songs with guitar crescendos and then pushing the mute button on all but 2 channels, we do it very roughly, but the outcome is often quite film-esque."

    Blindfold has already won praise in the UK press, but are still working on building a fan base in North America. The veteran UK rock zine NME - or New Music Express - called Blindfold's music "heart-harpooning melancholia beauty married to austerity."

    At times, Blindfold's music sounds similar to The Flaming Lips, Joy Division, and even Radiohead, as evidenced on songs like the fantastic "Don't Think It's A Sin" and the haunting title track "Faking Dreams". One of the measures of a good song is in its natural ability to evoke emotions. Blindfold does this again and again on Faking Dreams with songs like "Sad Face" (watch video) and the instrumental track "Wait".

    Of the number of stand out tracks on the album, the dreamy alt rock track "Falleg Depurd" is a mesmerizing single that drifts along on ambient guitar jams, percussions and vocals, patiently building and soaring to a delightful crescendo. After listening to Blindfold's new album a few times, it is clear why the English press is raving about their new release.

    In addition to Hilmarsson, band members are guitarist Svenni, bassist Teitur, drummer Jon Mar and Maddalena on cello. Attempts to locate the band members' last names have been exhausted; I guess it's on a first name basis kind of thing. Whatever the case, their music speaks for itself.

    "Falleg Depurd" - Blindfold from Faking Dreams (2009)

    "Don't Think It's A Sin" - Blindfold from Faking Dreams (2009)

    Get Faking Dreams now from Cine Pop Records

    Check out more on the Blindfold MySpace page

    More 2009 Bands to Watch:

    - We Were Promised Jetpacks - Glasgow, Scotland
    - Pet Lions - Chicago, IL
    - Coma League - Charlotte, NC
    - This Is A Shakedown - Cleveland, OH
    - - Hoboken, NJ
    - Klum - Monrovia, CA
    - - New Orleans, LA
    - - San Francisco, CA
    - Blind Man's Colour - St. Petersburg, FL

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       August 3, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    A nationwide commercial from Johnsonville Sausage that has been running for the past month or so has left plenty of people asking where they can get the song. So we did some digging and found the song is called "Roll On By" by OpusOrange, a music project by L.A. composer Paul Bessenbacher.

    In an IRC exclusive, Bessenbacher has made the unreleased song available for the first time. "Roll On By" is a catchy summer pop song that had some people guessing it was a new song from Vampire Weekend. Even though the song may not qualify as 'indie' (it is used in an advertisement), it has that unforgettable pop song charm - like a one-hit wonder.

    But what is even more exciting is that Bessenbacher, both in his professional career and with his band, has an entire array of impressive music to choose from. Bessenbacher has a unique talent for writing, composing and recording songs and music pieces that range from indie pop tunes to hypnotic film tracks.

    "For me, music can be therapy, storytelling, a job, or just plain fun," Bessenbacher said. "With all these, my work is destined to all sound different."

    Take for example the song "Surface" - a dreamy piano and percussion track that sounds like Pink Floyd blended with M. Ward. The song was featured in the indie short film David Shakes His Head by director Tamim Nashir. Another fine song, "Wait, Wait, Wait" (listen below), was recently used to promote the 2009 Stockholm Film Festival in Sweden. In addition to films and TV spots, Bessenbacher has also composed music for a number of television series including The Last Comic Standing, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and Stacked.

    Bessenbacher's musical background reaffirms his love of music and ability to wear many hats as a composer and musician. After graduating from Wheaton College Conservatory outside of Chicago, Bessenbacher returned to his native California and played live folk gigs with Waterworks, jazz romp with The David Yun Quartet and ska shows with Runforyerlife. He even opened for the popular band Skatalites.

    "Roll On By" - OpusOrange (for Johnsonville Sausage)

    "Surface" - Paul Bessenbacher for indie film "David Shakes His Head"

    "Wait, Wait, Wait" - OpusOrange - premiered at 2009 Stockholm Film Festival

    Update: Paul makes two more songs from OpusOrange available to Indie Rock Cafe exclusively.

    Later this week, in the next summertime playlist mix, IRC will premiere a new single from OpusOrange that should get some people talking.

    Check out for more.

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       July 29, 2009    3 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    wewerepromisedjetpacksScotland alternative pop band We Were Promised Jetpacks appeared on the indie music radar last year when the band went on tour with indie rock band Frightened Rabbit. Now the buzz around We Were Promised Jetpacks is getting louder thanks to their new debut album These Four Walls. The album features a mixture of alternative rock, post punk and indie pop music, at times reminiscent of the Editors, The Strokes.

    No good explanation can be found online for the origin of the band's name, but it does, and yet also does not, seem to fit. Prefix Magazine put it nicely: "Their name, though quite clever, indicates that they might traffic in the nerd rock of They Might Be Giants or the hipster pop of Phantom Planet. When the earnest voice of Adam Thompson first cuts through the thin veneer of dissonance that blankets nearly every song on These Four Walls, it is almost disorienting."

    In addition to Thompson, band members include Michael Palmer (guitar), Sean Smith (bass) and Darren Lackie (drums). The Glasgow band was 'discovered' when folks at Fat Cat Records - label of Sigur Rós, Múm, Animal Collective, The Twilight Sad - had heard some of We Were Promised Jetpacks music on MySpace while browsing the friends section for Frightened Rabbit (who, by the way, are also signed with Fat Cat).

    As one of the best debut albums so far this year, These Four Walls, demonstrates that We Were Promised Jetpacks are a band to watch.

    "Quiet Little Voices" - We Were Promised Jetpacks from These Four Walls (2009)

    "Conductor" - We Were Promised Jetpacks from These Four Walls (2009)

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       July 24, 2009    7 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Coma League is a Charlotte indie band consisting of singer and guitarist Ben Gelnett and drummer Kevin Markie. The duo began playing together last year and the style that emerged is a metamorphosis of garage rock, blues, lo-fi, alternative and folk as evidenced by their debut EP, This Could Be The Night on Kinnikinnik Records. Bassist Blake Raynor of The Stone Figs recently joined the band to play live gigs and work on the band's first full-length album.

    Coma League's sound reminds me of The Format and even Modest Mouse, which isn't much of a surprise since they list the latter as one of their main musical influences, in addition to Elliott Smith and Bug Hummer. When performing live, Gelnett likes to classify the band's genre of music as "crunk punk".

    "Pros and Cons" - Coma League from This Could Be The Night EP (2009)

    "Kiser Rolls" - Coma League from This Could Be The Night EP (2009)

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       June 23, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    thisisashakdownlovekillsOne reason Cleveland Rocks is because of the alternative rock band This Is A Shakedown! Clearly the band is one of Cleveland's best relatively new rock bands, and that's no short order in the home of the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.

    This Is A Shakedown! are on a tear thanks to the release of their debut full-length album, Love Kills, and and a hot new video (below) filmed using Photoboth on 21 Macbooks with built-in cameras positioned at various angles. The results are interesting.

    After listening to Love Kills, jammed with excellent, blistering rock songs, a number of times and seeing the big thumbs-up from others, This Is A Shakedown! is a 'band to watch' for alternative rock fans.

    This Is A Shakedown! sites musical influences as "anything that is dark and makes you shake your ass." But, more specially, lead singer and guitarist Brandon Zano names Soulwax, Brazilian Girls, The Presets and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

    The band's talented line-up also includes bassist Daniel Lee, drummer Stephen Nicholsen and Justin Jyilas on synthesizers and 'programming'. These two other songs sound like alternative rock radio hits to me.

    "Come And Cut My Heart Out" - This Is A Shakedown! from Love Kills (2009)

    "Radio" - This Is A Shakedown! from Love Kills (2009)

    Love Kills is available from Reversed Image Unlimited

    This Is A Shakedown on MySpace

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       June 7, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    pet lions epChicago band Pet Lions formed via Craigslist (photo by Eric Rejman)

    Chicago indie pop rock band Pet Lions was formed by guitarist and vocalist Karl Østby and bassist Shuhei Yamamoto. The duo began writing and recording music in October 2007. As they progressed, the lineup was rounded out thanks to Craigslist of all places with the addition of Tom Owens on guitar and keys and Matt Dahl on drums. In 2008, the band started performing gigs in and around the Chicago area.

    Pet Lions score a touchdown by perfecting classic pop rock sounds with a modern twist on their debut EP release, Soft Right (recorded with Brian Zieske). The group members list among their influences 1960's garage rock/pop of The Kinks, early Beatles, plus more recent bands like Phoenix, The Cure and My Bloody Valentine. Pet Lions are an indie band to watch in 2009-10.

    "Roman History" - Pet Lions from Soft Right EP (out now)

    "Propeller Plane" - Pet Lions from Soft Right EP

    Pet Lions' Official Website

    The new EP is available at iTunes, Amazon, and Digstation.

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       May 31, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Originally formed in Bloomington, Indieana in 2003, Odawas is a psychedelic and ambient rock band that make infectuous music with an indie folk influences. Their first EP, Vitamin City, was self-released in 2004.

    In 2005, Jagjaguwar Records released The Odawas first LP, The Aether Eater, which became an alternative favorite of that year. Their latest release, The Blue Depths, is one of the surprise alternative releases of 2009. Here's one of the album's many great songs.

    "Harmless Lover's Disclosure" - Odawas from The Blue Depths (2009)
    Odawas on MySpace

    Ice Palace is an indie band from Minneapolis who are touring with Cloud Cult and Say Hi. Ice Palace's new album, Wonder Subtly Crushing Us, will be released this week on Earthology Records. Their sound is best compared to bands like The Donkeys and The Subjects.

    "Thoughts/Facts" - Ice Palace from Wonder Subtly Crushing Us (out May 9)
    Ice Palace on MySpace

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       May 6, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Lima Research Society is a three-piece prog pop band from New Jersey consisting of the mysterious 'researchers' Ellen, Michael and Lima (last or real names? No idea).

    LRS creates tightly-woven, energetic pop rock nugs that adventure into experimental and indie rock territories with raw talent and fascinating results. According to the band members, their music is "experimental indie pop with some prog moments, like The Flaming Lips listening to too much Queen".

    Their debut album Don't Give Up, Don't Get Down was released on the Preemie Unicorns Attack! label in February. Since then it has grown on me. In fact, it is one of the best 'new comer' indie albums of 2009.

    Although I like just about every song on this album, some of the stand out tracks include the catchy, driving pop song "Our Nature is Relentess", the Black Sabbath-sounding rocker "Giant Moth - The Beauty of Things" and the jangly track "A Boy and His Genius" - that for some reason I think would be awesome for Conor Oberst to cover.

    The song "Rejoice" sounds almostly exactly like an original Flaming Lips' tune. Anyways, the bottom-line: If you like these two songs, you're probably going to enjoy the entire album. This band could spark a buzz in the 'indie scene' if the right people are listening and spread the word. And that's why I think they are a band to watch in 2009.

    "Our Nature Is Relentless" - Lima Research Society from Don't Give Up, Don't Get Down (2009)

    "A Boy and His Genius" - Lima Research Society from Don't Give Up, Don't Get Down (2009)

    Lima Research Society on MySpace

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       April 19, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    A band that sent me their music a couple of months ago makes seductive music that has grown on me during this time. They are called Klum from the Los Angeles area town of Monrovia, California.

    Their new release We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing is bound to be a big deal if the right people pay attention. Mixing lush layers of horns, keyboards, accordions, guitars, drums, bass and memorable vocals, Klum pumps out masterfully celebratory tunes with clear overtures to bands like Arcade Fire, Beirut and others. But no matter how many comparisons are made, Klum's musicianship, it still will not do justice to their potential impact on the 'indie scene.'

    How is it possible that Klum isn't occupying major space on blogs and mainstream music sites? From the first listening to now my tenth or so listening of Carelessly, I and others at the cafe are baffled how these cats slip under the indie radar (for the most part).

    Imagine: take all the most amazing sonic experiences you can think of and roll them up into one fat 'on-repeat' album. It's a musical adventure, a tour de musica, a trip of a lifetime. Tune in to these sample tracks from Klum's fresh release We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing. This is good stuff.

    As they say in their own profile: "Klum is constantly compared to many indie bands, but there has never been one distinction of who or what they sound like." Yup.

    "Bashing For The Kids" - Klum from We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing (2009)
    "Give Em Something To Die For" - Klum from We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing (2009)
    "NonBeliever" - Klum from We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing (2009)

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       April 6, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    There is an exciting, new two-man indie band from New Orleans named Caddywhompus (which means, basically, ass-backwards, broken and uneven) that officially released their debut "EPs" this week.

    My first taste of the band came earlier this month when they sent an email with a couple of songs attached. I was going to write about them weeks ago, but things have been backlogged here at the cafe. Nevertheless, after listening to their music for a few weeks now, Caddywhompus is officially an IRC band to watch in 09.

    Caddywhompus' sound comes at you with in-your-face exuberance of raucous noise pop hipsters. There are rave-like romps, driving drum beats, psychedelic infusions, and fuzzy, dreamy harmonies. Songs like "This is Where We Blaze the Nuggz"' and "Fun Times at Whiskey Bay" are perfect examples. Noise pop lovers will probably enjoy these songs and others including the interestingly-named track "Eat Chest" and the "...But Not Before A Show".

    There's one problem: There is another band that they sound like so much and I cannot think of that band's name. And yet I know if someone says it, I'll be like, "Dude! That's fricking it!" If you know, tell, please, tell. :-p

    "This is Where We Blaze the Nuggz" - Caddywhompus from "EPs"
    "Fun Times at Whiskey Bar" - Caddywhompus from "EPs"
    "Eat Chest" - Caddywhompus from "EPs"

    Caddywhompus on MySpace . Buy "EPs" from the band's official website.

    Here's an interview with the guys from Static Television

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       March 25, 2009    3 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    It was no accident. Back in January, after reading a post on the blog I Guess I'm Floating, we featured Blind Man's Colour as a band to watch in 2009.

    Not long after, Kanye West (yup, that Kanye West) gave a thumbs up to the band (and their art?) on his personal blog and linked back to our post. Needless to say, a nod from Kanye, and kudos from fellow bloggers, was enough to get the attention of various record labels.

    The St. Petersburg, Florida musical duo that comprise Blind Man's Colour is Orhan Chettri and Kyle Wyss. The guys create dreamy, trippy, chorus laden and synthesized electro pop with obvious influences from Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Animal Collective (more about that below).

    Last week, and not surprisingly, Chettri and Wyss announced that they had signed with Kanine Records to release their full length debut Season Dreaming this summer. We have been listening to the demos of Season Dreaming from BMC for six weeks now and look forward to the studio release.

    While those demos are no longer available on the band's blog, there are plenty of other songs available for free from the band's EPs 2006 - 2007 Recordings and Rainbow Faces to unreleased solo work recorded by Wyss under the moniker Chromatic Flights.

    Here is a selection of the band's downloadable songs from the band's free EPs.

    "Waterfall Freedom" - Blind Man's Colour from The Rainbow Faces EP
    "Heliocentrics (Tell Me Why I Fall)" - Blind Man's Colour from 2006-2007 Recordings

    The following video is the only known video featuring the band. It was filmed and produced by a fellow high school friend Sean Sekas for his digital film class.

    And the beat goes on; the duo also released four cover songs from Animal Collective's masterpiece Merriweather Post Pavilion. The covers are available as part of compilation produced by a group of independent musicians who met up on an Animal Collective message board. BMC's covers are quite impressive, as are a few others. Download Collected Animals.

    "Brother Sport" (Animal Collective cover) - Blind Man's Colour from the Collected Animals
    "Daily Routine" (Animal Collective cover) - Blind Man's Colour from the Collected Animals

    In case you missed the first posting we published on BMC, here is an awesome song - the one that really created the 'blogger buzz' about BMC - and a good indication of what their debut LP will sound like.

    "Jimmy Dove" - Blind Man's Colour from the upcoming release Season Dreaming

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       March 7, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Telekinesis recorded the songs below on this 1970's 8-track recorder

    IRC is launching a series of showcases featuring bands performing at the annual San Francisco Noise Pop Festival later this month, and South by Southwest in Austin next month.

    First up, we want to let you know about this exciting pop band from Seattle called Telekinesis. They are set to play at the Noise Pop Festival on February 27 along with Ra Ra Riot and Cut Off Your Hands.

    Telekinesis also has four sets scheduled at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March. After that, the band will tour with fellow Merge Records' artists Say Hi through the first week in April.

    Telekinesis is Michael Benjamin Lerner (drums, guitar & vocals) with Chris Staples (guitar), David Broecker (electric, acoustic & bass guitar), and Jonie Broecker (bass guitar & keyboards) joining him on tour. Walla and Lerner mixed each song to analog tape a day at a time, "with the ambitious goal of never over-thinking or sabotaging the spontaneous enthusiasm of the music."

    Even Ben Gibbard and the other Death Cabbies tagged Telekinesis as a "Band to Watch" in 2009 during a guest appearance on Stereogum. We second that, and for damn good reasons.

    "Coast Carolina" - Telekinesis from their upcoming, self-title debut release

    "February 5th 2008" - Telekinesis from their upcoming, self-title debut release

    Telekinesis MySpace page

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       February 10, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Blind Man's Colour, a duo of college students from St. Petersburg, Florida is officially on the indie radar for 2009 and we hope you'll agree.

    Currently unsigned, and looking for a label to call home, Kyle Wyss and Orha Chettri have a new album, Season Dreaming, which they are hoping to release soon.

    Wyss and Chettri have been making and mixing music together since childhood.

    "We've been playing together since 8th grade," Wyss told Indie Rock Cafe. We've always loved electronic music as well as really out there rock since we've met. We're looking for a record label to release our first album."

    Over the years, the duo have released a number of self-produced mixes of music they've recorded, but nothing serious enough that they are comfortable with as an official release. These tracks are available as downloads from their blog.

    The guys also have a great taste for music as witnessed in this mix for Olo Radio featuring songs from Evangelics, Of Montreal, Yo La Tengo and The Microphones.

    We think the guys have got something good going.

    "Jimmy Dove" - Blind Man's Colour from the album Season Dreaming

    "Taste" (Animal Collective cover) - Blind Man's Colour

    Blind Man's Colour MySpace page:

    You can download full zip files and MP3s from Blind Man's Colour and Chromatic Flights at their blog,

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       January 24, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    I've always been a sucker for indie bands that have great web sites, especially those that are built with Flash, despite it's limitations (such as embedded audio tracks - MP3, please). But The Spinto Band's new website is something to behold.

    The site has a starry-midnight-moon-glow theme going on, which is somehow with Halloween approaching. Right now, the content is a bit thin, but the band plans to offer new material each Tuesday up to the October 7 release of their new album release, Moonwink.

    MP3: "Summer Grof" - The Spinto Band from Moonwink

    Bonus Tracks:

    "Vivian, Don't" - The Spinto Band
    "Needlepoint" - The Spinto Band

    The site design and navigation in Flash is awesome, so check it out if you a fan, or are curious about the band.

    There are no official MP3s from Moonwink available, but there is a Flash stream for some songs on the album including "Summer Grof".

    The band's new UK label calls the album "11 tracks of bendy indie pop behaviour that very occasionally sounds like ELO being played backwards." We shall see, fluff masters.

    Last week, The Spinto Band signed with Fierce Panda Records after what the label calls "months of intense negotiations." The band exploded onto the indie rock scene in 2005 after their song "Oh Mandy" became an unexpected hit record.

    Soon, the band to watch were opening for established rockers like The Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Art Brut and Rilo Kiley.

    To up the ante for their latest release, The Spinto Band signed on producer/engineer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, Built To Spill, Billy Bragg, Mates of State) and mixing engineer Tchad Blake (Tom Waits, Los Lobos, Cibo Matto, Paul Simon).

    - The Spinto Band MySpace Page

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       August 30, 2008    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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