If you’re anything like me and have had days where nothing good is coming out of your speakers due to repetition and an overall lack of musical talent out there, it might be time to flip the dial, switch gears and wrap your ears around something better. Here’s a look at some underground bands you need to hear. If they don't work for you, just go back to the same lame drab some radio jockey gets paid to play in rotation.
At long last, the fresh return to musical goodness we’ve all been craving after a couple decades of listening to bands trying way too hard. This Venice, California-based quintet features musicians who are virtuosos in their own individual right with a close-knit synergy to their sound that links them like brothers to a teet.
Terraplane Sun has a new EP “Friends” just released in late 2012, a consortium of vastly widespread tracks with zero panic and precise sound placement, which arrived quickly after their 2011 debut “Coyote,” a saloon sounding benchmark of western rock.
The band has been up and down the west coast on tour like a couple of newly deflowered teenagers experimenting with recreational stimulants, and now they’ve got L.A. by the goodies and they’re not letting go, as the rest of the west is quickly catching on. Don’t be the last to find out about them, because they’re even better live and their shows are only getting bigger.
Possibly the most energetic, spirited, love-infused family of unrelated musicians, The Mowgli’s, have been on the rise since 2012 with their power rock ballads, harmonizing vocals and high-energy sing-alongs.
The group consists of eight members, any of which is likely to hone the microphone throughout the show. Their 2012 five-song EP “Love’s Not Dead," leading off with the single “San Francisco,” is a reminder to its listeners that love is the word and it’s easily spread by this musical bird.
The new songs are bringing the group a hefty bunch of musical appreciators as they begin to tour hallmark venues more heavily, including the Los Angeles Troubadour, in the coming months. If you didn’t catch them on Jay Leno, it might be because of your hatred for Jay Leno, but don’t let that stop you from checking them out and getting to know them when they come barreling through your town.
This harmonious blend of three burly Connecticut men has a reminiscent sound (and visual), as if the Black Keys fornicated with Bon Iver, a strange threesome for sure, but makes music with weighty bass lines that is transcendent to the tip, simple and soothing to the ears but also sophisticated in its structures.
Lead man Josh Rheault left L.A. for the east coast after his former band mates in The Brobecks split, one of which joined Panic! At The Disco. From there, Mercies transformed what was once a storage barn for hanging tobacco into a crafty woodsman recording studio, featured in their video for the single “Stranger.” It’s about like what you’d expect Ron Swanson to jam in, should he host a private show for the most loyal Duke Silver fans.
The band used the space in recording their 2011 freshman release “Three Thousand Days” and their follow-up EP, a sonic landscape titled “The Ballet.” They’ll be running amok on the east coast in spring of 2013, road-tripping from New York to Tampa. Be sure to catch them if you’re in the area, otherwise check out the music and wait your turn.
An unlikely blend of southwestern symphony has been educating the ears of Arizona in how indie rock can sound, despite the state’s low rankings in education. The group opens its doors to some uniquely arranged sounds with a no holds barred approach to Phoenix rock, with anything from the viola to the tuba coming onto its stage.
Joined by former Strange Young Things singer Corey Gloden, arguably one of the best in frontman showmanship, the band is standing tall on the backs of its three releases since 2008, the newest entitled “Family Portraits: Calm Mutiny,” featuring seven tracks of unforgotten western twang and assuring vocals.
If you aren’t sold yet on western gypsy symphony or classical gothic hypnotists, then these flowing sounds that can lift you up off your feet for hours will. Ghostlight Orchestra has the ability to reinvent classic songs you’d normally rarely listen to and make it your own personal Jesus, a truly inventive throwback to deeply rooted music in the best way possible, along with their originals. They are currently in studio recording their debut album.
The carrying vocals from former Audiovent singer Jason Boyd and pianist Nikki Brown are the heart and the soul, surrounded by a miniature orchestral (no, not tiny instruments or people) that sways its sounds like that of a gypsy opera or intense ballroom dance.
Still in its early stages, the seven-piece group holds much promise with a nice run of originals mixed with a few renovated covers, including a broken down “Thriller” and the Christmas classic “O Holy Night.” Ghostlight Orchestra can be seen in small venues around Los Angeles as the word continues to spread of these wandering musical souls.
Chicago’s grooviest duo of stripped down swagger will make She & Him sound like Who & Cares. Formerly of headlining bands HelloGoodbye and You, Me and Everyone We Know, this currently simple rhythmic take on music is a departure from the members’ usual wailing past; an ode to the basics.
The two released a pair of EPs in 2012, both of which restrain from throwing in the kitchen sink in the name of easy-going rock, are products of melodically and vocally driven light rock tunes. The Return Fight is highly enjoyable on a sunny afternoon with a glass of lemonade. Do just that.
The return of one of the southwest’s strongest underground rock bands has not yet cooled to a simmer, as The Black Moods continue to rock the socks, pants and underoos off of every man, woman and child in their local area. Too much?
Former local guitar hero Joshua Kennedy, a man with the hair of Robert Plant and the axe playing of Jimmy Page, left his indie rock band Violet Wild a few years back to rejoin his original Black Moods project. The group released a self-titled record in late 2012, one that stinks of cigarette smoke, Jack Daniels and the love juices of all its fans.
The band rolls on heavy guitar playing and dark-seeded melodies. Conquering some of rock’s most historic monuments like The Viper Room and the Whiskey a Go-Go, The Black Moods are here to stay. If you like rock in the raw, this might be your preferred brand.
Local L.A. duo Filip Nikolic and Jeff Paradise are a self-proclaimed “daytime disco” team, bringing a new merger of genres to the surface, perfect for the light of day. The two met nearly a decade ago, but hadn’t released any official music until 2010, an EP titled “Do You Believe,” which picked up immediate credit.
In the summer of 2012, the duo released their first full-length “Pacific Standard Time,” a set list of daytime anthems for the regular poolside junkie that goes down light and smooth like any fresh summertime cocktail.
For the rockers in all of this, it’s a refreshing break from the regular head banging and fist pumping, as Poolside is exactly where your mind will go from the moment the sound hits your cerebellum, whether you’re at your office desk or face down in a giant puddle of chlorine.
New to the Arizona music scene as of 2012, Rose Colored Eyes is a classic blend of some good old fashioned three-man rock ‘n roll. Simply put, if you love live music and you love to rock out, you’ll love Rose Colored Eyes. It’s simple mathematics.
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Taking a short hiatus after several years of touring, What Laura Says is the freshest thing in Arizona since the burrito stand. This five-man ensemble of boundless, soul-squeezing love sounds is known for its jazzy light rock psychedelia.
The band has always been the talk of the town in the southwestern states, an area known for little else other than desert dust storms and the occasional margarita. After two full-length albums and an EP released in 2011, the band is on leave, but their music continues to stream like wild flowers after a good spring rain.
Check them out, get your groove moving and be ready for their triumphant return. For starters, try on their debut album “Thinks and Feels,” a spirited collection of hip, harmonious audible snapshots.