Much is always being written about Indie musicians and Indie bands, but there are so many great Indie acts out now – especially this year, it seems, it’s harder than ever to keep up. But keep up we shall, and we must, because after all: who wants to miss out on all that talent?
But first, just what is Indie music? Most folks, yours truly included, think of it as music that’s produced independently from major commercial record labels, but it can also include a do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing. Both Portland and Seattle boast a healthy share of excellent Indie artists.
Here are a few Indie releases by bands from the Pacific Northwest, other parts of the country and the U.K. you’ll want to get better acquainted with.
STAY: Dinner and a Suit
If alternative rock that’s energizing without being overpowering or over-mixed is to your liking, you’re sure to love the smooth, fresh sounds of Dinner and a Suit. With an even bolder approach than their 2012 “Since Our Departure” album, their new “Stay” EP boasts 4 polished tracks.
“Can’t Get Enough” is a steamroller of a song with edgy guitars and passionate vocals – think Coldplay or U2. Within the first 24-hours of hearing it, it became a favorite – I even foolishly checked Billboard to see if it was up on the charts, but alas!
This band needs more exposure, and here’s to Portland Radio Project for doing just that. Dinner and a Suit features great, original arrangements as well as outstanding vocals by Jonathan Capeci. You’ll also love Drew Scheuer; he’s powerfully precise and tasteful, a style of drumming that’s a winning combination.
Can’t Get Enough
From whence comes the band’s name, you might ask? Musicians Jonathan Capeci and Joey Baretta are cousins; their great-grandmother was a seamstress who made and repaired clothes during the Great Depression. When the factory she worked for threw away suits she’d take them home and spend her free time mending them. Times were tough, so this kind soul made it a practice to invite people who were down on their luck to her home, where she spent time with them and cooked them meals. As they were leaving, she’d give them one of the suits she was finished working on. Family members said people left her home with “dinner and a suit” – hence, the name.
Dinner and a Suit band members are: cousins Jonathan Capeci (vocals/guitar) and Joey Beretta (guitar/vocals), long-time friend Anthony Genca (bass), and Drew Scheuer (drums).
Their new “Get You Back” starts out as a pop-rock dreamscape and explodes into classic, cool rock at the chorus – think The Killers but you may grow to love this band even more. “Stay” was released just last month, and they also have a cool holiday song out right now, “Feels Like Christmas.”
Although originally from New Jersey the band has since relocated to Nashville. You can read more about Dinner and a Suit and check out their music on iTunes, or at their website.
EXROYALE: Extraordinary electropop
Finding EXROYALE’s music is like tapping into a mother lode of golden sunshine on the darkest day of winter. This Portland-based band has just 4 fresh electropop singles out thus far, but what exceptional tracks they are.
EXROYALE’s band members each have their own projects. All songs are written by award-winning songwriter/composer, two-time Grammy performer, session musician and producer Josh Schroeder. In June, EXROYALE did a short tour playing in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Las Vegas with a 4-piece band consisting of Jason Carter, drums; Silver Sorensen, bass; Miranda Vettrus (Áine Aura), keyboards, and Schroeder, guitar, keyboards, vocals. They played 9 showcases at the SWSX music fest in 2011.
With even a quick listen to these tracks, Schroeder’s exceptional musical instincts are quite evident. From whence does he draw inspiration?
“I’m not sure what inspires me to write music because it’s different every time,” says Schroeder. “Sometimes it’s cathartic, sometimes it’s exploratory, sometimes it’s about people, life experience. I like the idea of exploring deep Space, the unknown, love, sex, triumph or sadness through music. These days for me it’s about sitting with a guitar and keyboard and letting myself become absorbed in an idea… usually I’ll stumble onto an idea that will naturally take me to places that I think are innate in my sensibilities as a songwriter – partly because of my aptitude – but it has as much to do with my having written songs for a very long time,” he adds.
With its breezy tempo and lilting falsetto, you can’t go wrong with “Give it Up.” It’s fun, flirty pop at its best and brightest.
And don’t miss the popular and lush “Lovesick Youth,” an outstanding, upbeat production with a great R&B vibe on all the choruses.
While it’s far simpler fare instrumentally, EXROYALE’s “Stuck In My Head” allows Schroeder’s voice to be heard even more closely; he’s a smooth singer with an impressive range. Shades of Broken Bells, and James Mercer, perhaps? Additional shout-out for “Without It,” another dreamy, very accessible track that should find an easy audience if given half a chance.
In addition to some excellent music you get great art, as all of EXROYALE’s single tracks feature artwork by the talented Ben Parslow.
“He’s essentially creating the visual counterpart to the music I’m making…I typically just give Ben a song and let him run with whatever ideas come to him,” says Schroeder, “I love his work so much.”
Find EXROYALE’s music on iTunes .
Kicking up cool alt-vibes with the UK’s Victory Kicks
Victory Kicks is a tight 4-member band from London with great energy and fun chord changes. Their new “The Young Flood” EP was released just last month; at first listen, you might find Victory Kicks’ music somewhat reminiscent of Coldplay’s early “Yellow” days.
The band releases all its records independently on their own label, Unmanned Aerial Vinyl (loving the name, guys). Their newest EP bears 7 tracks, all written, recorded and produced by John Sibley. A rather prolific band with 3 releases to their name this year, Victory Kicks are self-starters who record all their music in a home studio.
“I think a big part of what inspires me is the excitement you get from recording something new, having made something from nothing,” says Sibley. “As soon as a record comes out I’m usually well into working on a new one.”
On this newest release likely the most accessible tracks are “I Got Drunk (I Called You),” which has been featured on some UK indie stations, and the bold exuberant “One Day Nation.”
One Day Nation
You might also be drawn to their somewhat mysterious “Last Night.” Is it about love, infatuation, or paparazzi? We’re not sure, but it’s another interesting track. “Most of the lyrics I write are willfully a little ambiguous,” says Sibley. “I like the idea that a song might mean something completely different depending on who is listening to it – that’s one of the great things about music,” he adds.
From Seattle: masterful blues band Ayron Jones and The Way
Ayron Jones and The Way is a 3-piece blues-rock band from Seattle; Ayron Jones can really sizzle on blues guitar.
Their album “Dream,” already out a year, received high marks from Seattle-area media and Ayron Jones and The Way have been the opening act for Train, Michael Franti and most notably, B.B. King. They’re currently in the studio recording new material.
Have a listen to “When Will I Learn.”
When Will I Learn
Like to party? Ayron Jones and The Way have a New Year’s Eve show coming up in Yakima, WA.
For more info here.
Portland’s Lost Lander anticipates new release in New Year
Although Portland’s Lost Lander released their fine “DRRT” two years ago, it succeeds so well in being both original and accessible it’s a release worth mentioning. We would’ve enjoyed lobbing a few softball questions their way, but didn’t hear back from them on Twitter. Their “Cold Feet” track is one of the most popular from their Drrt debut; have a listen.
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“Afraid of Summer” is a shimmering melancholic track that’s stunning, beautiful, original. Are you getting the feeling this band might get along famously with Washed Out and singer-songwriter Ernest Greene? Let’s hope they cross paths someday and put on a show together.
Afraid of Summer
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Lost Lander can rock out, too – as evidenced by their cover of Springsteen’s brooding “State Trooper.” Extra-credit points for their subtly interactive website with its lovely imagery.
Lost Lander recently made an announcement to their fans that they’re busy working on a new album due in February of next year. Meantime, this stellar band has several upcoming concert dates that include Enterprise and Wenatchee, Oregon, and Seattle.
Look for tour dates on their website and find their DRRT album on iTunes.
Add new music by Indie Bands to your holiday shopping list
The holidays are approaching and music is a gift that keeps on giving long after it’s been received; during these dark months of the year, it’s quality music that can be especially uplifting. Pick up the music of an Indie artist or two as gifts for friends and family, or for your own Christmas stocking.
Support Indie music!