Tag Archives: indie rock

GP of the Week: Iwan Rheon

(Gif from khakicocky)

If the last episode of Game of Thrones left an ominous taste in your mouth, maybe this GoT actor and musician will help to lift your spirits again. Enter Iwan Rheon, the cold and calculating Ramsay Snow on-screen, but the gentle acoustic crooner off.

This isn’t Iwan’s first foray into music, as he’s been songwriting since the age of sixteen. He even has a resume that includes lead singer of a band, before he stepped away from music to pursue acting in 2010. Now he’s back in the game, and while he’s not the best, he does offer a uniquely humble and delicate approach to acoustic music.

His latest EP Release, Bang! Bang!, was strategically highlighted during the premiere of the last season of Game of

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Snow for HBO’s Game of Thrones

Thrones; however, his ethereal music may have been overshadowed by the brutality of his character on GoT. (Or just by the entire series in general, since that whole show can be pretty brutal.)

Bang! Bang! features whimsical pieces and abstract storytelling that paints a scene rather than creates a hook. His

accent is thick, making the lyrics a little indeterminable to us “Yanks” at times, but I find this characteristic endearing rather than unflattering.

In the hectic music jungle, Iwan is a dainty gazelle; his tunes are graceful and spirited, and they can pack an upbeat punch when necessary, but he does risk getting taken out by the other kings of the entertainment jungle. Still, he gets many points from me for keeping his music about the art, rather than trying to fit himself in a mainstream mold.


Check out the title track from Bang! Bang!, and let me know what you think in the comments below!




Indie’s Best Kept Secrets: Social Club

socialclub gamma rays san diego indie rock the indie sdEvery location, every situation, every scene has a “Best Kept Secret“. This past week, a friend said something to me that inspired the idea for this new feature. Each week, I’m going to showcase an extraordinary musician or band that is already doing big and amazing things with their craft. There are superstars in our very own backyard and we might not know it yet. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you in the loop, starting with the indie rock quartet Social Club.

I can still remember the day my mother gave me Coldplay’s Parachutes for Christmas.I remember squinting at the CD and thinking “Who is this?” The same could be said for Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane. Those were my first interactions with bands who would turn out to be amazing forces in the music industry. Everybody has a start, and just like the humble beginnings and initial “ah ha!” moments from those acts, San Diego has a few musicians who could inspire similar feelings of revelation. Little did I know, Parachutes was going to be a this-album-will-change-your-life kind of moment, and Songs About Jane is still a staple on my playlists to this day.

With that kind of introduction, enter So Cal rockers Social Club, the first band that I will feature in this series. When I heard their music over a year ago, I already knew that they were more than just talent. They had the kind of star power and energy that captivates you from the first listen. And in that short year, Social Club has managed to only further perfect their unique take on indie pop rock fusion, as seen on their debut album Gamma Rays. The smart rhythm sensibilities of drummer Jeff Litzman pulls the elements of the band together seamlessly; attention to detail soars through keyboardist Thea Tochihara and bassist James Spratley is right in step with the rhythm, driving the songs forward in an energy that is both listenable and danceable. (And yes, I said listenable. It’s a word and it highly applies in this case!)

Related: Sidewalk Serenades with Social Club

Add in lead vocals from John Levan, who sweetly croons in his upper register one moment while belting his heart out in the next, and you have a combination that I like to call sultry. Sultry is my absolute favorite quality in music, by the way. And Social Club is dripping with sultry goodness.

Their musicianship translates so well live that if you weren’t watching their instruments you’d swear they were playing the CD. And in this day and age, a band is only worth as much as it weighs live. Believe me, Social Club will not only command a stage, but also sound very good while doing it.

I would say I’m biased because I’ve had the chance to get to know these musicians over the past year, but I’m not the only one who sees and hears their talent. They were recently the winners of the MOFILM Texas competition, which sent them VIP style to headline an event at the South by Southwest Music Festival. But commendations aside, the music speaks for itself. Take a listen to Gamma Rays, available on iTunes, Amazon, and GooglePlay. Plus, you can get a free download of their single, “Slow Motion” via their website.

Check out this video for their song “Loosen Up”, produced by Helium Films USA.

Minus the Bear with the New Limb: Indie Spectacular

minus the bear the new limb ucsd price center san diego the indie sdEvery once in a while the ideal band combination comes around, and that moment has graced So Cal once again. On May 8th, The New Limb will be warming up the stage for headliners Minus the Bear, and it will be a match made in catchy-guitar-riff heaven!

Comprised of five musicians based out of California, The New Limb is kind of like an indie folk child if that child ran off and had a wonderfully adventurous affair with a rock star. With just the right amount of upbeat velocity and driving drum beats, coupled with an occasional penchant for electric riffs, this group creates one of those “sounds of the summer” — their mix tape INCONSISTENCIES boasts the kind of songs that can go on dance floors and on road trip playlists, alike. Most of the band members take turns tossing around vocals, seamlessly melding their voices in a chant one moment, or crooning over keyboards and tambourines in the next.

They’re quickly becoming a new favorite, and their sound is the perfect complement to Seattle-based Minus the Bear.

Related: Minus the Bear show review from the House of Blues

Definitely not new to the indie music scene, Minus the Bear has managed to amass a bit of a cult following, based partly on their unique sense of musicality, syncopated guitar melodies, and of course, lead singer Jake Snider’s famous affinity for serenading baby-making lyrics. But don’t let the sultry subject matter fool you — in the long haul, Minus the Bear is ready to get you on your feet and dancing, keeping the dynamics fun enough for a party, but mellow enough to simply enjoy the beautiful composition of it all.

You can check out both bands live on May 8th at the UCSD Price Center Ballroom, the biggest indoor venue on the campus. Tickets are available at the UCSD Price Center Box Office, and online at https://ucsdboxoffice.com/.

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Check out this latest animation video for Minus the Bear’s song “Listing”

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Imagine Dragons’ nearly sold out tour is our Guilty Pleasure of the Week

If you were looking forward to seeing up and coming indie darlings Atlas Genius and platinum-selling Imagine Dragons perform live this year, you might have to wait until next season — seeing as how the bands have currently sold out 19 dates on their tour. But there may be one more chance for Southern California to enjoy these two acts live…

Imagine Dragons performing live in Orlando. Photo courtesy Facebook
Imagine Dragons performing live in Orlando. Photo courtesy Facebook

I don’t think I could have predicted the amount of sold out dates on the Atlas Genius and Imagine Dragons tour this year, but it’s quite shocking. Hearing that the House of Blues San Diego was sold out made since: the venue really isn’t that big and these two bands are quickly outgrowing the smaller digs that they’ve selected for their tour. But upon further inspection, one will find that the bands have also sold out at least 19 dates, including shows in Boston, Portland, Anaheim, Canada and two dates in Chicago. Yowsa!

Tickets are still floating about on ticket resellers such as StubHub, which is great if you have anywhere between $114 to $350 to spare on one ticket alone. For most of us, that’s a little too steep for one night of fun, regardless of how much buzz these bands have generated. These resellers bring up the question of ticket scalping, making me wonder if this is some sort of inside job to monopolize the indie market on these bands. Ticket scalping is infamous for targeting big acts and major sporting events, but for two indie bands? It seems a little improbable. Or maybe that is my conspiracy theory side getting the best of me.

Regardless of all of this, there are still at least two chances for the Southern California crowd to see Imagine Dragons and Atlas Genius sometime before 2014. Tickets are still currently available for Santa Barbara and Bakersfield tour dates — and at the regular, face value price. That is, if you want to drive the approximate three hours to see them perform. (Honestly…I would and just might!)

But if those dates will turn out anything like the beginning of their tour, the tickets are sure to be gone very quickly.

In the meantime, there’s always the internet to quench your indie thirst for these two great acts. And with today’s release of Atlas Genius’ well anticipated full length album When It Was Now, you have all new goodies from this band, just waiting to be devoured.

Let us know in the comments below if you plan on attending one of the tour dates for Atlas Genius and Imagine Dragons!