indie rock cafe

Bringing back a sound: The Rassle. Photo by Jimmy Fontaine

The Rassle is a recently-formed New York City rock/post-punk band composed of former band members from two other great NYC rock bands, The Virgins and the The Young Lords.

So naturally, when The Rassle's Erik Ratensperger (and ex-Virgins member) sent us a couple of songs, we had hightened expectations, and what we heard in those two songs, and a couple of other tracks via the band's MySpace page, were enough to make it clear to us that we were hearing a terrific new band.

Ratsenperger joined with Mark Solomich and two brothers, Blair and Reed Van Nort, of the now-defunct band The Young Lords in January to form The Rassle. The guys must have had some idea that their new band would be something special, after all they had pretty much known each other for a couple of years from playing shows at various New York rock clubs.

The band's disciplined, yet adventurous, rock sound is edgy and catchy at the same time, and has somewhat of a post punk-pop rock revivalist charm heard clearly on songs like "Celebrate The Days" and "Wild Ones," conjuring up comparisons to legendary bands like Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy and Big Star. But more people are likely to compare The Rassle with one of the biggest "indie" bands of the past year, Philadelphia's Free Energy.

"Celebrate The Days" - The Rassle

Since we've been playing these songs from The Rassle over and over again, it wasn't a stretch to put them near the top of the Bands to Watch in 2010 list. It wouldn't be a surprise to us one bit if you're reading about The Rassle on Pitchfork, and even The New York Times, in the next few weeks. The band's unofficial EP has summer time written all over it.

Ratensperger told IRC that the band have been offered residency at New York's Pianos next month, are talking to some labels, planning to tour and working on material for a debut LP that is expected to drop later this year. We say that if they're ready to do Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, or any other big best fest this summer, organizers might just want to give the band a call. That's a bit ballsy with only four songs to go on, but we just have a good feeling about this band.

"Wild Ones" - The Rassle

"Born Free" - The Rassle

The Rassle on MySpace
,, Twitter and Facebook

A little background
: The Virgins formed in 2006 and within a matter of a year opened for Sonic Youth and Patti Smith, performed at big music festivals, and even made it on to Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008 for the track, "Rich Girls." Although things have been pretty quiet for the band since their widely acclaimed debut, self-titled EP (2007) and LP (2008), The Virgins have not announced any plans for a new album.

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   April 24, 2010    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Today we are excited to add three additional, and very talented musicians, to IRC's on-going One Man Band series. The three artists - Canada's Ben's Imaginary Band, Cologne, Germany's 200 Lurkers, and Davis, California's Brad P and the Son of Sam - each have a unique style and sound, and they've also pretty much done everything that resulted in the songs below by themselves. We hope you agree with these picks. You can also browse all our past One Man Band features, with MP3s that are still working (we try to make sure all year-plus old MP3 links are still active).

Benjamin Romvari
is one of the most talented one-man band artists we have heard in the past year. His one-man music project, ironically named Ben's Imaginary Band, sets the tone for songs that are lyrically ironic, morbid and hopeful, but musically soft, dreamy and mellow.

"The band, not being a real band, consequently never formed," Romvari said. "And so, there is little to tell about its history. I’ll say I came up with the name...after going through many other names."

At the age of six, Romvari's parent bought him a violin from a thrift store and enrolled him in lessons. But Romvari stopped taking lessons after a year. Years later, at the age of 15, he rediscovered his musical interests by practicing on an acoustic guitar "with the same intention any 15-year-old boy [who] picks up a guitar [has] impress a girl."

Eventually, Romvari began singing and playing an electric guitar as a teen and was encouraged by friends and family. He began to acquire "low-end" recording equipment and writing songs.

In 2007, Romvari selected some of his favorite songs and put them on his DIY LP debut, Nocturnal Fables and Illusions. Last, year he followed up Nocturnal with a debut EP, where his music really stood out, especially after listening to the EP a number of times. And of course, the credits for achieving such a memorable set of songs goes up when you consider that one person did all of the writing, singing, playing of instruments, recording, mixing and promotion himself.

"The Magical Floating Bed" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Trust EP (2009)

Romvari's talent is undeniable, even eye-opening. His songs are lush with dreamy melodies, mellowed out, sluggish glaze, heart-felt lyrics, and even melancholy (on the song "Emerald Dream Thief," which somehow reminds us a bit of Melpo Mene), but in a beautiful way, like artists such as Nick Drake and Elliott Smith were so good at.

The artists that influenced Romvari's music the most are diverse from Frank Sinatra to Harry Nilsson, The Beach Boys and The Beatles to The Pixies, Radiohead, Nirvana and Aphex Twin.

"Emerald Dream Thief" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Trust EP (2009)

Some of the lyrics are light, and some are head-scratchers (or just ironic?): - "I'm in love/with a girl/Who sometimes leaves this world/Cause I can't find her some days" (from the song "Emerald Dream Thief") - and some songs are fairly gruesome: "When I was four years old/We had a burnt black pellet stove/And one day I found a frail female mosquito/And I don't know if she knew but I thought/she could do with a little more warmth/So I let her go on top that old black stove/And I watched her dance her life away" (from the song "Perspective of a Mosquito").

"Perspective of a Mosquito" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Trust EP (2009)

"Slapback" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Trust EP (2009)

Here is a pair of two of our favorite songs from Ben's debut DIY LP, Nocturnal Fables and Illusions.

"Underwater Waltz" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Nocturnal Fables and Illusions (2007)

"The Last Living Man" - Ben's Imaginary Band from Nocturnal Fables and Illusions (2007)

Ben's Imaginary Band on MySpace

The 200 Lurkers is the moniker of Cologne, Germany musician Philip Hoffman. His music has a wistful, melancholy feel, but is buoyed by an innate sense of whimsicality that is reflected in the delicate instrumentation and Hofmann's unique voice.

Charmingly off-kilter melodies carry along lyrics full of exceptional imagery: with all manner of references to exploding beehives, celestial bodies, and birds with nacreous wings, they often depict a duality of the ordinary miraculousness of life wrapping around a pearl of bitterness and loss.

Hoffman, who records in his home studio, counts among his musical influences Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Leonard Cohen, Loney Dear, Phoenix, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Laura Veirs, James Yorkston, among others.

He has garnered a small, but dedicated, fan base worldwide in the past three years. Musically, the 200 lurkers straddle several genres from twee pop to new folk to alt-country; Hofmann is fond of incorporating unconventional musical instruments and technologies (such as water glasses, children's toys, distorted recordings of his or his friends' voices, or archaic drum machines), and each song is of its own character and temperament, defying easy classification. We are really loving his music; check out the free tracks below, and tell your friends.

"The Last Guest" - 200 Lurkers from s/t debut

"Dialogues" - 200 Lurkers from s/t debut

"Spacewalk (Live)" - 200 Lurkers from live show

200 Lurkers official website

brad p and son of sam

We're going to go back to late last summer to tell you about a musician, who at that time released a batch of songs with the moniker Brad P and the Son of Sam. We were really impressed with the songs, but just never got around to featuring his music. He is Brad Petering, a college student and musician from Davis, California.

After the dissolution of The Gingersnaps in 2009, Petering sent out on his own and to create and produce a number of songs he had worked on personally. And like most one-man (or woman) 'bands,' Petering played all of the instruments, including guitar, bass, keys, drums, in addition to programming, editing and mastering the tracks.

Because of the reaction from many people, including his parents, to the "Son of Sam" (a notorious New York City serial killer in the 1970s) aspect of his band name, Petering told IRC that he will retire the name. However, what came from that lo-fi experimental period last year were a few terrific tracks, even though they are somewhat thematically morbid.

"Girl in a Box", the album's lead single, is a first-person account of a man who, keeps his girlfriend in a box. That's definitely not going to go over well with some people, but let's not try to be too serious here; it's just a song, and it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

According to Petering's own bio, he realizes some people will be offended by this material:
"Despite the grim subject matter, don't expect any existential naval-gazing - Brad P and the Son of Sam oozes with Petering's trademarked deadpan irony."

Interestingly enough, Petering has opened for artists and bands like Citay, Calvin Johnson, Drew Danburry, Da Bears, and his former band, The Movers and the Shakers. The later band, which made some great music, are now disbanded.

According to Petering, some of his biggest influences include the Velvet Underground, Fiery Furnaces, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Adam Green, Beat Happening, Elf Power and others.

Download the album for free on the Brad P and the Son of Sam MySpace page.

"Girl in a Box" - Brad P and the Son of Sam from s/t EP

"Nothing" - Brad P and the Son of Sam from s/t EP

"Crazy Weekend" - Brad P and the Son of Sam from s/t EP

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   April 15, 2010    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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As we continue on with various Bands to Watch posts, today we are featuring two "new" fascinating one man bands, Richmond, Virginia's Battle Flags and Brooklyn's Alex Walker.

On a regular basis, we receive in the mail surprisingly fantastic music from completely DIY, independent, artists and bands that just about no one has ever heard of, and in many cases, who have hardly, if ever, been written about on a music blog or online magazine.

In fact, we have featured probably hundreds (at this point) of such artists and bands, many of them reviewed in playlist mixes like Music In Dee Mail, Singer and Songwriter Spotlight Series, and Band of the Week profiles.

Official video for Battle Flags' new track, "Siren Songs"

With 2010 nearly at full throttle, the music is piling up. But some of the submissions we've received already stand out from the rest - as of this date, perhaps a dozen or so that we will be featuring in the coming weeks here on IRC, and others that we've already featured (there are many MP3 nugs in our archive posts if you don't mind clicking around a little).

Today we present two one-man bands from two completely different places and circumstances. Yet they both have a couple of things in common, the most notable being that they do it all - from writing and recording music, to playing all of the instruments, mixing and producing the songs, to distributing and marketing their albums. When you think about it, there is no way to not be in awe of someone who goes totally DIY - no band, producer, engineer; little to no financial backing; no fancy recording studio full of expensive equipment, and so on.

One of the finest examples of this type of totally DIY artist that has really wow'd us is the one man band, Battle Flags. Based in Richmond, Virginia, Battle Flags crafts semi-psychedelic electro-pop sounds and harmonies reminiscent of the so-called "surf-rock" resurgence that has risen to prominence in the past year or so.

With that context, it must be noted that Battle Flags really stands out as an Artist to Watch in 2010, particularly within that loosely defined genre that many trace back to bands like Animal Collective, and further back than that to the Beach Boys records of the late 1960s.

Listening to Battle Flags' songs, you'd think this was an established synth-drum band who are already known to thousands, or millions, of music lovers, have been featured prominently on all the big blogs and music sites, toured to packed venues and so on. Not in this case; the relatively unknown Battle Flags is entirely the work of college music major Jack Budd.

While Battle Flags is not completely obscure - there have been some mentions and reviews in publications like DrownedInSound and Brick magazine - his name recognition has yet to catch up with his talent. Battle Flags' biggest exposure to date has been opening for The Walkmen and Lake Trout.

After Budd sent us a few tracks via email from his debut LP, Color Engine, we have literally been playing thesongs again and again for the past week or so. The first track, "Siren Songs," (watch official video above) could easily be an "indie" spring/summer hit on The Hype Machine, and the song that puts Battle Flags on the map. "Siren Songs" is one of the stand-out, surprise DIY tracks of the year. It entices the casual listener to soak in its hazy, warm sun-drenched synth pop sounds, raspsy, reverb-heavy vocals and dubbed choruses. Don't be surprised if you end up playing this track again and again.

"Siren Songs" - Battle Flags from Color Engine (2010)

On "We Don't Operate," Budd employs his genius yet again with electro pop rhythms, hand-clapping, layered and looped vocal harmonies and chants, raw drum beats, and even referee whistles. The result is an amazing and irresistible affect, that like its predecessor, "Siren Songs," is instantly enjoyable and memorable; another fantastic addition to the coolest summer mixtapes of 2010.

The seed for Battle Flags was sowed while Budd was crafting stencil graffiti in a small bedroom in Richmond in 2007. Eventually he began constructing rhythms and samples using pots, pans, shovels, living room chairs and even empty beer kegs. Budd added his high pitch, but captivating, vocals, samples and effects and other elements until he had enough tracks that he was comfortable to send them to us to share with all of you.

"We Don't Operate" - Battle Flags from Color Engine (2010)

If there is an album that you should hear this month that you would have otherwise probably never known about, it's Color Engine. You can listen to short samples of all the songs on Battle Flags' official website, and buy the full album (officially released on March 8) as well.

Battle Flags on MySpace


Next up, Brooklyn's Alex Walker is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who creates layers of sounds, campfire singalong choruses, doubled-up samples and strong back beats with injections of quirky synth notes, as evidenced on the song, "Trust The Fire." Guest vocalists include Matt Whyte (Earl Greyhound), Brian Grosz (Dogs of Winter), Anthony Yacobellis (Nice New Outfit), Shelly Watson and Alyson Greenfield. This track has an uncanny resemblance to the sound of Iceland's popular one-man band, Sin Fang Bous.

Walker's experience as a writer, producer and accomplished guitarist for NYC rock band, Aloke, and bassist for chamber group, Electric Kompany, demonstrates the breath of talent and skill, not to mention his reptuation for hours and hours of practicing.

"Trust the Fire" - Alex Walker from Trust The Fire (2010)

And yet another side of Alex Walker - classical guitar

On the heavy grooves of "Caught Starin," the listener is exposed to a different side of Walker, where his work, as he describes, "exists as an alchemic distillation of the classical guitar repetoire, the rock n' roll cannon, a childhood in the 80s and 90s (and all the trappings of that era), a love of hip-hop, jazz and other American improvisational trends." This song is darker, haunting, and even somewhat mechanical. The album, Trust The Fire, was officially released on March 2nd. Download Walker's other work at Lapdance Academy.

"Caught Starin" - Alex Walker from Trust The Fire (2010)

Alex Walker on MySpace

Other Playlist Mix Series You Might Like:

- Bands to Watch (2009)
- One Man Bands
- Best New Releases
- 2009 Indie Rock Songs
- 2008 Indie Rock Songs

- Songs About New York City
- Dream Playlist
- Songs for Mom
- The Great Unknowns
- Quickies

- State of Music
- Best Rarely Heard Indie Songs
- Summer Indie Rock Mixes
- Songs of Winter
- Songs of Spring
- Songs About The Moon

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   April 1, 2010    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

It's not a stretch that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would be high on the list of bands to see at SXSW in 2010, even though they are definitely not indie (they're signed to a major label), yet rule in the minds of many alternative-to-heavy rockers. The band's new album proves their status in the rock world. The band keeps pumping out exciting rock songs with all the right elements to keep their original fan base engaged, and reach new fans. The music speaks for itself.

"Conscience Killer" - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club from Beat The Devil's Tattoo


March 19th at 11:00 at La Zona Rosa
March 19th at 4:30 at Cedar Street Courtyard

- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on MySpace


Kanine Records (Grizzly Bear, Surfer Blood, The Depreciation Guild) has steadily been building a solid roster of bands in the past few years. One of their most recent family members, are the shoegaze pop band Princeton of Eagle Rock, California.

The band has climbed up quickly since the release of their 2006 DIY EP debut, A Case of the Emperor's Clothes, followed in 2008 with their second EP, Bloomsbury. Last year, their debut LP, Cocoon of Love was released to critical acclaim and a growing following of fans.

"Calypso Gold" - Princeton from Cocoon of Love (2009)

"Korean War Memorial" - Princeton from Cocoon of Love (2009)

Bonus tracks:

"Ms. Bentwich" - Princeton from Bloomsbury EP (2008)

"The Waves" - Princeton from Bloomsbury EP (2008)

Princeton shows at SXSW:

Mar 18 2010 12:30A CREEKSIDE LOUNGE

Princeton on MySpace

Real Estate

New Jersey band Real Estate are returning to SXSW for their second year. Plus, the band released their much anticipated debut LP in November to a great deal of positive reviews. The LP is definitely one of the best debuts of 2009. Check out our review of the LP and then come back here to listen to two additional songs not included in the release review. This band is truly amazing and unique and just about every track on the LP is a keeper - can't say that about most debut albums. Anticipate big crowds for their shows at SXSW next week.

"Suburban Beverage" - Real Estate from s/t debut (2009)

"Black Lake" - Real Estate from s/t debut (2009)

Real Estate Shows at SXSW:

Mar 17 2010 1:00A Underwater Peeps house show
Mar 17 2010 4:30P Forcefield Party @ Red 7
Mar 18 2010 3:00P Other Music show @ French Legation Museum
Mar 18 2010 9:00P 2908 Cole Street w/ Woods, Pocahaunted, Beach Fossils, Eternal Tapestry, Silent Land Time Machine
Mar 19 2010 12:00P Ground Control Party @ Urban Outfitters
Mar 19 2010 2:00P Pitchfork Party @ Emo’s Jr.
Mar 19 2010 11:00P Gorilla Vs Bear/ Mexican Summer @ Klub Krucial
Mar 20 2010 2:00P The Mohawk, Mog Party
Mar 20 2010 6:45P Fader Fort
Mar 20 2010 11:45P Woodsist Showcase @ Red 7

- Real Estate on MySpace

Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood definitely fall into the new wave of surf rock bands during the past year or so. The West Palm Beach, Florida area band broke through last August after putting on a much-talked-about show at Brooklyn's Bruar Falls, and subsequently, during last falls' NYC CMJ festival. The band relentlessly toured throught 2009, including bills with Art Brut and Japandroids. Within months of literally becoming a band, Srufer Blood were making it on to many music blogs' and sites' "Bands to Watch" lists. Heather Phares of the All Music Guide wrote warmly that Surfer Blood "fuse sunny surf rock charm with indie rock cool." In January, the band released their excellent debut LP, Astrocoast.

"Swim (To Reach The End)" - Surfer Blood from Astrocoast

sxsw showcases

Surfer Blood SXSW Shows:

Mar 17 2010 4:00P Waterloo Records (live free instore)
Mar 17 2010 11:45P The Wave Rooftop, Kanine Records SXSW Party
Mar 18 2010 1:00P Club Deville (Insound SxSw Party)
Mar 18 2010 3:00P The Parish (NPR SXSW Party)
Mar 18 2010 5:45P Sled Island Party
Mar 19 2010 1:00P La Zona Rosa: Village Voice SxSW Party w/ The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Superchunk, The XX
Mar 19 2010 5:30P Emos (Pitchfork SxSw Party)
Mar 19 2010 10:00P Lustre Pearl (Filter, Dickies SxSw Party)

- Surfer Blood on MySpace

The Drums

The Drums have busted through in the past year to praise from bloggers and the music press, not to mention enthusiastic fans. It's easy to get lost in the vast ocean of "hot, new" indie bands from Brooklyn nowadays, but The Drums have definitely carved out their little piece of home turf with their decidely catchy, post punk/pop sound. The Drums are considered by some to fall into the so-called "surfer indie rock" that has been attributed to other bands like, ironically enough, Surfer Blood, Real Estate, Holiday Shores, all of which are also favorites to be seen at this year's SXSW fest in Austin.

"Let's Go Surfing" - The Drums from Summer Time EP

"I Felt Stupid" - The Drums from Summer Time EP

The Drums SXSW Shows:

Mar 19 2010 1:00am NME Showcase @ Latitude
Mar 19 2010 3:45pm FADER FORT
Mar 20 2010 10:00pm Stubb’s Showcase

- The Drums on MySpace

Bands that Should be at SXSW 2010: The Swimmers: We plan to feature this band in the near future. They are good. Also, The Canon Logic; see our review for perspective on that. Other bands that would have been cool to see at SXSW, but apparently won't be there, include Pete and the Pirates, Frank Ferdinand, Sigur Ros, The White Stripes. Getting conflicting messages of whether The Ruby Suns are showing or not. While they are doing one show, more slots at SXSW of The Morning Benders would be a good thing.

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   March 12, 2010    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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It sucks when good bands break up. In the past year, we've seen a number of bands split, and the band members go their separate ways, including Page France, the awesome indie duo The Format, the sensational band, The Sun, and a relatively unknown (in comparison to their talent), but fantastically promising, New Faces.

Seattle's New Faces split in November of last year, sending mini-shock waves through the Puget Sound music community. In a post on their MySpace page on Nov. 16th, the following statement was issued: "Due to irreconcilable conflicts, we have decided to break up. We want to thank everyone that supported us...Sorry there wasn't a second album."

The New Faces received a flood of critical praise, especially in the Seattle area, with the release of their debut EP in 2007, and their debut LP, Two Years, in 2008. They had an undeniable gift for enthralling music, a sound refined beyond their time as a band, and a potential that could have made them international rock stars (if they wanted it) - those are not usually characteristics of a fresh, unsigned, totally DIY band.

"My Alarm" - New Faces from Two Faces (2008)

"She's Like The Snow" - New Faces from s/t EP (2007)

"Ms Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" - New Faces from Two Years (2008)

But with as much promise as New Faces had, and the praise of music critics throughout the Northwest and beyond, it's a blow to all music fans when a spectacular band ends before they hardly got started. In 2008, the Seattle blog, Sound on the Sound, proclaimed: "I'm often asked what are the best new things I’ve been hearing...In the New Faces, I finally feel without reservation that I have an easy (and good) answer to that question."

Artists and bands that influenced New Faces: David Bowie, The Smiths, The Libertines, Interpol, The Strokes, The Clash, Franz Ferdinand, The Rakes, The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Arctic Monkeys, New Order, Violent Femmes, Joy Division, NWA, The Cure and XTC.

When the punk pop band The Fake Fictions announced in January on their official website, "The Fake Fictions are done. It has been a wild ride. We played our last show on Nov. 20, 2009..." fans of the band were understandably disappointed. The band had delivered a steady stream of edgy, engaging albums and EPs since their formation early last decade.

Thankfully, however, the band has been good enough to offer much of their music as free MP3s, spanning a total of seven releases.

"Parallel World" - The Fake Fictions from Magic Infinity EP (2010)

"Laugh Track Loser" - The Fake Fictions from Les Faux Fictions (2008)

"TV Snow" - The Fake Fictions from Krakatoa (2009)

The Catholic Comb, only months after announcing work on a new album, Halloween Street, suddenly broke up last summer. In a non-explanatory post on their MySpace blog, dated August 4, 2009, and titled, 'Comb Over', the band wrote: "We are no longer a band. Sincere thanks to anyone who ever supported us in any way." The Catholic Comb were Adam Dishart, Daniel Awand, Ryan Rene Wansley and Andy Rice, all from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The band first rose to national, and in some cases, international, recognition with their 2005 single, "Sixteen to Twenty-One," which was later used as the soundtrack to a Corey Duffel skateboarding video.

"Sixteen to Twenty-One" - The Catholic Comb

The band described their music as "a morbid bicycle ride." But that doesn't begin to explain the far-reaching, intoxicating sound they had cultivated, and which was being gobbled up within the circuitry of the underworld alternative rock network.

The past year has seen plenty of evidence of culture's long-standing obsession with vampires, whether in film or music, but somehow most people missed out on The Catholic Comb's splendid track, "Vampire Life."

Not surprisingly, the song is all about the dreaded existence of life as a vampire, but with a musical twist that infuses acoustic pop, prog rock and goth to create a song that is hard to pin down, and even harder to ignore. Despite it's subject matter, the song is intriguingly bright and melodic.

The lyrics of "Vampire Life" fit perfectly with the tempo of the song, while being slightly ironic and direct: "I go out at night/I eat what I like/I sleep where I might/the vampire life..." Hmmm, is this The Smiths slowed down to a ballad pace or The Cure with folksy abandonment?

"Vampire Life" - The Catholic Comb from s/t 7"

The Catholic Comb on MySpace

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   February 25, 2010    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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When we first heard Portland, Oregon's The Dimes' splendid album, The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry, in December (after the band sent us some tracks), we were quickly head-over-heels, and since that time, the LP has become one of our favorite releases of 2009.

The album serves as a history lesson (or "musical Cliff Notes") of early Boston, and the people and events that shaped American history. There are songs about the Great Boston Fire of 1872 ("Damrell's Fire"); Clara Barton ("Save Me, Clara"), the Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross; Abigail Adams ("Abigail, Don't Be Long"), the wife - and woman's rights advocate - of the second U.S. president, John Adams; the prolific Concord born writer, philosopher and historian, Henry David Thoreau ("Walden and the Willow"), to name just a few.

"Damrell's Fire" - The Dimes from The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry (2009)

The Dimes' lush harmonies and unforgettable melodies are heavily influenced by the band's musical mentors, including Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles. The Dimes' first LP, The Silent Generation, was released in 2007, and received national and international acclaim, with enthusiastic reviews from SPIN, NPR, Under the Radar, The BBC, The Oregonian, and many others. Similar positive reviews for The King have also brought the attention of The Dimes to a growing number of music lovers, bloggers and mainstream art critics.

The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry (album cover above) showcases singer-songwriter Johnny Clay's, and the band's, incredible talents, featuring a baroque assortment of instruments, sixties pop sensibilities, and delightfully simple arrangements that solicit repeated listening.

"Abigail, Don't Be Long" - The Dimes from The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry (2009)

For their sophomore release, the band turned again to the genius of engineer Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Death Cab For Cutie, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney), and a continuing appreciation for uniquely American historical themes that began with The Silent Generation.

If you like the songs featured in this post, we strongly recommend visiting The Dimes' store. A purchase of The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry also comes with a free copy of the EP, William Dawes and Other Forgotten Jems.

"Celia's Garden" - The Dimes from The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry (2009)

"Walden and the Willow" - The Dimes from The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry (2009)

Bonus: "Catch Me Jumping" - The Dimes from The Silent Generation (2007)

Check out the accompanying interactive Flash map of colonial Boston that ties in nicely with the release of their latest album. This is a band that really understands how to use the opportunities presented by interactive media to engage with their fans and market their remarkable music to a wider audience. We can only hope that the band's popularity will continue to grow so that they will embark on a national tour, and give more of you a chance to see them perform live.

The Dimes on Twitter

The Dimes on MySpace

The Dimes on Facebook

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   February 15, 2010    4 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Los Angeles indie alt rock artist Fox Fagan, a native of Australia, catches many people's attention with his upbeat pop rock and intriguing lyrics. The EP, which has been added to playlists of more than 50 college and non commercial radio stations across the U.S and Canada, features Fagan’s tasty brand of indie pop and a British swagger reminiscent of the old English punk rockers.

At times, Fox Fagan sounds a tiny bit like the old Arctic Monkeys, most especially on the song "Wouldn't Change A Thing," clearly one of the best tracks from his Never Fall in Love with a Stranger EP, available for free at Other songs like "Shelia" are reminiscent of 70's AM pop radio. Again, another original talent that most people will never know about, and that's that we do this.

"Wouldn't Change A Thing" - Fox Fagan from Never Fall in Love with a Stranger EP (2009)

"Shelia" - Fox Fagan from Never Fall in Love with a Stranger EP (2009)

Fox Fagan on MySpace


In November 2008, Detroit area musician Jason Zito lost his job as the auto industry began crumbling around him. With a huge mortgage, a family to care for, and no new work coming in, he locked himself in his studio, crafting songs that echoed his situation. Those songs became the album (Scary Noises) Gods Stand Up!.

Zito calls his project Jellyeyes, a moniker (and the album title) taken from Shakespeare's King Lear, which he had buried his head in for several weeks prior to the album's creation. Jellyeyes art rock/folk pop can be roughly compared in style and sound to Bon Iver, Wilco and Sigur Ros. He has previously opened for bands like Elliott and The Great Fiction.

"The Dead Girl and The Sandbox" - Jellyeyes from (Scary Noises) Gods Stand Up! (2009)

"Coming For Me" - Jellyeyes from (Scary Noises) Gods Stand Up! (2009)

JellyEyes on MySpace

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   January 16, 2010    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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hostathebandThere are still plenty of fantastic songs and albums from 2009 that we're catching up to, and we suspect that will extend into the first couple of months of the rapidly approaching 2010. Wow, it's almost a new decade; let's hope it is a better one than the 2000s - for everyone. You might want to check back daily over the next few weeks - not only do we have barrels of great 2009 music you probably have never heard in the pipeline, but also additional alternative and indie Christmas songs; best songs and best albums year end lists and lots more.

This week's Band of the Week is Hosta, a folk rock band from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Admittedly, it took us a while to get around to featuring this band; the more we have listened to their self-titled debut over the past half year, the more it has proven itself as one of the best under-the-radar debuts of the year. It's baffling that the rest of the blogosphere, if you will, missed out on what is a fantastic album from start to finish.

Hosta is a trio of musicians: Iris Shepard (bass/vocals), Greg Moore (guitar/keyboards/vocals) and Randy Kehne (drums). The genre-bending band mix blues, ska, folk and experimental rock to create fun and interesting songs with likely comparisons to Weezer (and to some extent Pavement; hear "Hope You're Not Sorry"), which is especially evident on the geo-centric song, "Cali," and the quirky, ska-infused, "Secret Self."

Greg Moore
Band member Greg Moore is also a Fayetteville artist

While the band primarily tours in the Midwest, we hope they will come out to Cali (actually, someone easily gives themselves away as a newcomer when they call California 'Cali,' sort of the same idea as calling New York, "The Big Apple," or D.C., "Washington, DC"). Hosta were awarded the Northwest Arkansas Music Award in the category "Best None of the Above" this year. We strongly recommend getting the entire LP if you like the songs featured below.

"Cali" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

"Secret Self" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

"Hope You're Not Sorry" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

Hosta on MySpace

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   December 10, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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New video for Wiretree's song, "Days Gone By"

We have not been able to stop playing one of 2009's most brilliant pop albums since it crossed our radar a few weeks ago. The album title is Luck from the incredibly talented Austin power pop band Wiretree. If you love masterfully crafted, infectious, melodic pop with vintage 60's and retro hipster underground influences, chances are you'll want to add Luck to your CD collection.

Fans of the Matthew Sweet, Paul Weller, Velvet Underground, The La's and Elliott Smith are the most likely music lovers to turn on, and tune in, to Wiretree. It is bands like Wiretree that keep our faith that independent music is far from dying out.

Wiretree is Kevin Peroni (vocals, guitar, keys), Rachel Peroni (bass), Joshua Kaplan (guitar), and Daniel Blanchard (drums). Their debut, a self-titled EP, was released in 2005 via their own independent label, Cobaltworks Music. In January of 2007, the band released their first LP, Bouldin. If you enjoy Luck as much as we do, you'll want to get their debut album as well.

There are so many wonderful songs on Luck that it was hard to pick only the three tracks we've presented here; choosing just one is nearly impossible. The LP gets better with each spin, which explains why we've been listening to it so much. See the video above for the upbeat and catchy song, "Days Gone By."

The track, "Back in Town," is one of the band's best songs; a mix of 80's style power pop guitar riffs, xylophone chimes and passionate vocals that you might just find yourself listening to again and again. "Falling" is a sweet, drifting pop song about love and longing that would be great for a movie soundtrack or a Valentine's mixtape. The hooks and choruses of "Satellite Song" makes it one of the many standout tracks on the album.

"Back in Town" - Wiretree from Luck (2009)

"Falling" - Wiretree from Luck (2009)

"Satellite Song" - Wiretree from Luck (2009)

"Big Coat" is an irresistible hook-driven masterpiece that reminds us a lot of Elliot Smith, yet it is brilliantly original. Other great tracks on Bouldin include, "Travelin' On," "Summercity," and "Feel Me."

"Big Coat" - Wiretree from Bouldin (2007)

It is always surprising to us that when a remarkable LP is pretty much missed by the majority of popular music blogs and websites, which is a big reason why we choose Bands to Watch that are, for the most part, unknown to even die-hard indie music fans.

It's not that Wiretree haven't been praised by other publications and blogs; it's just that they haven't received the wider exposure their music deserves. The blog, Absolute Powerpop, writes that Luck retains the band's "signature sound yet broadens it to point where I could see the intelligentsia of indie rock and the poobahs at Pitchfork giving it a thumbs up if they take the time to check it out."

Why a label like Sub Pop, Merge or Asthmatic Kitty haven't signed this band is baffling, to say the least. But, in the end, that doesn't matter; we have Wiretree at the top of our 'lesser known bands' lists with four and five stars in iTunes for most of their songs. We can only hope that more people get to hear this fantastic band.

Get Luck via iTunes

Wiretree's official website

Stream more songs on Wiretree's MySpace page or their official website.

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   December 2, 2009    3 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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What happens when a band with a major record label deal tosses it away and puts everything on the line in a bold move to return to their independent roots? The answer in the case of the rock band The Sun is simple: they create a masterpiece album.

But The Sun's split from Warner Bros. was not trouble-free nor fool proof - two band members left as a result, legal battles ensued and major disagreements with management were just some of the fallout in the wake of their decision to sever their contract and go indie.

“We hawked the gear, we sold the van, we squeezed as much as we could out of the label (Warner Bros.) and severed all ties,” The Sun's singer and guitarist Chris Burney said of the break.

In the aftermath of their former lives as big label artists, the remaining band members teamed up with Spoon producer Mike McCarthy to work on their second - and reportedly last - LP, Don’t Let Your Baby Have all the Fun, which was officially released as a free download on November 10th via Free is great; but this is one record we'd gladly pay for, so if a vinyl edition comes out (please!), we'll let you know.

The Sun formed in 2001 after Burney wrote and recorded a tape of slick, gritty garage rock demos. With songs in hand, Burney recruited New Bomb Turks' drummer Sam Brown and Floatation Walls' guitarist Carlos Avendano to start a band. All three members dropped out of Ohio State University in Columbus to make music full-time. Eventually they were joined by another FW member, Brad Fosblom, on bass, and Brad Caulkins, on keyboards and guitar. (Subsequently, Avendarno, Fosblom and Arendt left the band to pursue other projects.).

In 2001-2002, The Sun began recording with Wilco's Jay Bennett in his Chicago. Within in few months time, the band signed with Warner Bros. and released their debut EP, Love and Death, in February 2003, followed two years later by their first LP, Blame It on the Youth. But the LP, despite its solid collection of songs, was a commercial failure, and the remaining band members - Burney, Brown and Caulkins - were uncertain of what would happen next.

Sometime in 2008, McCarthy contacted the band to express interest in producing their next album at his Austin studio. "I was a big fan of their first record," McCarthy said. "I was surprised [Blame It on the Youth] didn't become a huge, big, big deal."

"It was the first time that the band felt natural to me," Brown said. Even though other labels, including Merge Records, demonstrated interest to distribute the album, the band's manager deliberately delayed its release, apparently with the hope to elaborately promote it as a self-release - a formula that has worked well for other artists.

Frustrated by the LP's state of limbo, the remaining band members started giving away Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun at their 2008 ComFest performance, until its official release earlier this month via RockProper. Essentially giving up hope that the LP would be released by a label, Caulkins left to join LA's Afro-pop band, Fool's Gold.

The LP's first single, "So Long Sundays," blends catchy rhythms, high octane synthesizers, raspy vocals, and edgy lyrics, resulting in an seductive garage rock hit (and probably the most "Spoon-sounding" track on the LP.)

"So Long, Sundays" - The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

"The Goddess," is one of the most memorable tracks on the LP, and frankly of the latter half of 2009. The bright guitar riff alone hooks you into the grooves of the song's T. Rex-meets-Pavement sound. As it marches along enthusiastically for two and half minutes, the song suddenly ends, followed by a 40 second acoustic interlude ("A Prayer Before Dawn") which ends abruptly with a burp and a giggle.

"The Goddess"- The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

As you listen to this album, you can't help but notice how much fun the band is having, and it rubs off, as evidenced by tracks like new wave leaning recording "Cold Hands"; the epic, melodic pop rock of "In Perfect Time"; the danceable, excited, "Watch Out," and the lo-fi urgency suspense of "Alien."

"Cold Hands (Clap Louder)"- The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

"In Perfect Time" - The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

It's just too bad the band does not plan to record another album together. During the past year, Caulkins stated he has no interest in playing with The Sun again; Burney started a new band called Adult Fiction, and a record label, Eastern Watts; Brown continues to tour with RJD2 and has embarked on his new power-pop project, You're So Bossy.

If you enjoy the C86, glam rock and post punk music genres of the 1970's and early-to-mid 1980's - all of which paved the way for so much of the alternative and indie rock we enjoy today - you're probably going to love Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun. This LP is simply a masterpiece, and a decade from now, it will be regarded as a underrated classic. We can only hope that the band will reunite to record more music and set out on tour in the near future; absent that wishful-thinking, The Sun have left us with at least two amazing albums.

The Sun on MySpace

The Sun's Official website

Get The Sun's new LP free

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   November 25, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Andy Mitchell is a one-man band from Middlesbrough, UK who serves up a remarkably full rock sound for one guy. An unsigned artist, Mitchell writes and records all of his songs himself, as well as sings and plays all of the instruments, including guitars, bass, keyboards and programmed drums. Last year, Ultimate Guitar magazine took notice, naming Mitchell one of the "Top Unsigned Acts of 2008."

His recordings, he told IRC, were made in his bedroom and bathroom over a number of months. "I had taught myself guitar in 2006, but officially it all started in early 2008 while I was at University. For my final year dissertation I looked at new ways to market music and created an album of my own to use as an example. It earned me a first class honors, and encouraged me to continue making music and albums." For someone who only started playing the guitar a few years ago, Mitchell's work proves he has a natural ability to make impressive alternative rock music. We'll be watching this guy for sure!

"Why Remember Me" - Andy Mitchell from Of Nature & Minimal Means (2009)

"Aspire" - Andy Mitchell from Of Nature & Minimal Means (2009)

Andy Mitchell's official website
Andy Mitchell on MySpace


Eric Dina is a New Port Richey, Florida musician who goes by the moniker of Oh, Mountain. He a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, percussion, mandolin and violin. Dina's unpolished, lo-fi instrumental recordings also include various sound effects and samples with interesting results. Oh Mountain cites among his influences The Books (especially the album "Lemon of Pink"), Dosh, The Microphones and Mount Eerie.

"I favor percussion and the sound of thick drums a lot and in cases more often than not I started a recording with nothing but a simple floor tom beat," Dina told IRC. "In a sense, its easier for me to hear a melody when I know what the drums will sound like. Through the years I have acquired more and more instruments and recording equipment to sort of expand the way things sound." We like Dina's refreshingly original and organic sound very much.

"Bear's Beat" - Oh Mountain, single release (2009)

"No. 2" - Oh Mountain, single release (2009)

Oh Mountain on MySpace

Wicked Scream is the moniker of the one-man alternative rock project by Charlie Dorrell from White Lake, Michigan, a rather obscure singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer. Signed on by Coy Boy Records, Wicked Scream is currently in the process of becoming a "three to four-piece ensemble," Dorrell proclaims with the hope to "inspire anybody influenced by under-produced, raw & gritty rock." So far, so good.

Wicked Scream's debut EP, Earwax Casket, contains songs like the hard rocker "Kleptosis" and the Nirvana-like acoustic track "Bluesy." It will be interesting to see what this one man project that may eventually morph into a full band will deliver for their first full length release, and whether they are able to make progress in their quest to "bring back underground rock and take down mainstream rock." Unfortunately, neither he, nor his label, have any solid information online (other than non-optimized MySpace page); and therefore we have no artwork or photos to present.

"Bluesy" - Wicked Scream from Earwax Casket EP (2009)

"Kleptosis" - Wicked Scream from Earwax Casket EP (2009)

Wicked Scream on MySpace

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   November 22, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Brooklyn musician Brad Oberhofer (photo via

Continuing on with IRC's post-CMJ coverage, it is puzzling as much as it is refreshing that musician Brad Oberhofer isn't more well known within the arguably saturated indie rock genre.

At first examination of the huge, rhapsodic sound of his work, one would never guess Oberhofer records as a solo artist. A drummer and vocalist primarily, Oberhofer crafts a big sound all on his own, blending various instruments and electronic samples to pump out energy charged, erratically arranged, and somewhat danceable rhythms and melodies that feed off of experimental and traditional influences, making his music both accessible, and unclassifiable, at the same time.

In 2006, Oberhofer left his native Tacoma, Washington - where he studied classical music - and moved to Brooklyn. Since that time, he has been recording at home, and playing small venues in and around the New York City metro area. He was a featured artist at The Den last month during NYC's CMJ.

Oberhofer's music runs the gamut of indie sub-genres, from noise pop to dance punk, and even "freak folk." Take the song "Dead Girls Can Dance"; now, imagine Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) crashing into Wavves. And, "I Could Go," with its whistling, oohs and ahhs, vocal layering, smashing cymbals, and somehow catchy hooks, is, all at once, mysterious, engaging and strange.

The track "Away From You" is another example of Oberhofer's memorable, eccentric sound. If you're walking around the East Side one of these days, and you hear a distinctive howling, whistling and clashing of sounds, it might just be Oberhofer playing at a small bar, or even, a grocery store.

As we've seen with so many one-man bands featured on IRC, Oberhofer writes and records his music on his own, plays all of the instruments, and even distributes and promotes his work. When he performs live, he is often accompanied by Clyde Kurtis on drums and Andrew Heaton on guitar and keys.

"I view recorded music and live music as two completely separate art forms," Oberhofer told IRC, "so I try to make sure each have their own distinct advantages." His musical roots, he says, trace back to "competitive freestyle rapping in the 5th grade," his classical music training, and an appreciation for bands like The Unicorns, Hella, Clues and Okay.

In describing the Brooklyn 'indie scene,' Oberhofer said: "I think there are an insane amount of ridiculous bands that all have super good ideas to the point where I find myself questioning whether or not it is possible to innovate. They deserve to explode as they please. And by explode, I mean 'blow up'."

The songs included here are off of his self-titled, self-released EP, some of which were recently remastered. What do you think?

"I Could Go" - Brad Oberhofer

"Dead Girls Dance" - Brad Oberhofer

"Away From You" - Brad Oberhofer

Oberhofer on MySpace

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   November 8, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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