Welcome to Daytrotter

Community is really important to us at IndieMuse, and I wanted to take a minute to feature one of our favorite websites that does a stellar job bringing together music lovers and keeping the independent community strong: Daytrotter.com.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daytrotter is a recording studio/website run out of a small midwest town, along the Illinois/Iowa border, called Rock Island. Most local residents there are unaware that Daytrotter exists, and have absolutely no idea that amazing bands from around the world go out of their way to visit their small town to record a live, studio session (everything is recorded to analog tape and released for free digitally on Daytrotter’s website). Their studio, called the Horseshack, can be found on the third floor of an unmarked building, over a pizza joint, in an otherwise pretty dead downtown area that hovers over the Mississippi River (or sadly, sometimes under when the river floods).

We’re experiencing a time in the world where everything moves faster than it probably should, and it’s easy for a sense of community to get lost in the shuffle. The down-to-earth folks behind Daytrotter are a diamond in the rough in that regard, as they are on a mission to preserve culture just as much as they are to release great music.

For example, Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending Daytrotter’s 4th Barnstormer tour in the Chicago area. It’s a chance to see a handful of indie bands, such as Sondre Lerche and Hellogoodbye — who are mostly accustomed to playing loud, large clubs — play music in a small barn. This intimate environment is a complete, almost cleansing-like, change of pace for everyone involved. And the genuineness completely shines through.

Thanks to Daytrotter, I was able to be part of a gathering of true, respectful music lovers who just wanted to appreciate the moment.  I didn’t see the wave of smartphones documenting the event that I normally do at shows, and there was complete silence from the crowd as bands played. It was basically a rare opportunity for everyone to let their guard down and hang out for a couple of hours.

Maybe it’s the perspective that comes along with living in a small town, where the pace of life is a bit slower, that gives the guys (and girl) behind Daytrotter the ability to follow through on their vision so well. But the part that is truly inspiring for me is the way that they’ve been able to share those values with the world, and create and curate these bright spots for other people who are looking for the same things out of life. It leaves a lot of hope for what the future can bring.



Sondre Lerche – Domino by sondrelerche

Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain (2010)

If you’re a fan of Midlake, Bishop Allen, or any band with that similar indie/folk sound, you’re going to love the Brooklyn band, Common Prayer. I’ve had two songs from their debut album, There Is A Mountain, on my computer for a while, but didn’t listen to the whole thing until recently. If I had, I most likely would have placed this on my Top 10 albums list last year.

Common Prayer was started by the former basist of Mercury Rev and founder of the band Hopewell, Jason Sebastian Russo. The band is a pretty big departure from his other ones, and I really love when artists aren’t afraid to branch off into new sounds like this. Since they are making the music they love, rather than just catering to current fans, it’s often some of the most creative work you’ll find from them.

And that’s exactly the case with There Is A Mountain. This is a pretty experimental album, though in a fun, folksy sort of way. All the songs have a different flavor. The opening track “commonprayer” is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in recent years. A few other favorites on the album include “Us Vs. Them” “Of Saints,” “Free Air” and “Everything & More.”

There Is A Mountain (2010):

Common Prayer - commonprayer (mp3)

Common Prayer – Us. Vs Them (mp3)

Site | Amazon



Auditorium – Be Brave (2011)

As of today, you can grab a copy of Spencer Berger’s great debut album, Be Brave. Last year I featured Spencer on IndieMuse when he was recording under the name Field; however, because of the surprising number of bands with a similar name, he decided to switch the name over to Auditorium.

Berger’s voice makes Be Brave one of the most unique albums I’ve heard in the past few years. In my mind, I place his style somewhere between David Bowie and Flight of the Conchords. A few of my favorite tracks include “Sunday,””I’m the Enforcer,” “Saturday Soldier,” and “Oh, My Desperate Soul,” although really, this entire album is solid.

Spencer is based out of Los Angeles, and first made a name for himself as writer and actor of the SXSW Audience Award winning film, Skills Like This. If you’re in LA tonight (1/18) and want to attend the release party, you can find the details here. He plays with a live band, made up of Justin Hogan, Chris Littler, Elizabeth Berger (his sister), Daya Wolterstorff, and BK Etheridge.

And remember this little advice from Auditorium’s Spencer’s site: You don’t have to call Spencer “Auditorium” in real life. He’s not like The Edge. In fact, if you called him “Auditorium,” he’d politely tell you to stop.

Be Brave (2011):

Auditorium –  Sunday (mp3)

Auditorium – I’m the Enforcer (mp3)


Site | iTunes

SNOWBABY- Summer, the Banshee EP

I’ve been meaning to feature the New Brunswick, NJ based band, SNOWBABY, on IndieMuse ever since seeing them play a house show in Washington DC (that Ben Cooper of Radical Face headlined).

If you’ve been following IndieMuse for a while now, you know how much I love xylophone, flute, shakers, triangle, and all those completely underrated instruments.

SNOWBABY is the kind of band that does an amazing job filling those needs! They are lots of fun.  They even have a recorder (which makes them contenders for my band)!

Their music hasn’t really been mastered, as you will hear, but it definitely adds to that lo-fi homemade sound I like so much.

Summer, the Banshee EP:

SNOWBABY- Summer, the Banshee (mp3)

SNOWBABY- Forest Hymm / You’ll be Warned (mp3)



Brite Futures

A few years ago I was at Seattle’s Capital Hill Block Party, and heard Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head for the first time. They were one of the first bands to play, and I just happened to be at their stage beforehand to see who would be playing over the course of the day. When I saw their name at the top of the list, I looked over to my friend and boldly declared “I have absolutely no idea who this band is, but we need to find out, so help us God.”

Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the slightest. The band’s catchy synth-pop sound is somewhat similar to Passion Pit (they formed a while before Passion Pit, pshhh), and they are super quirky. For example, one of their songs, “Beard Lust,” is the essential manual to having a beard. They are from Seattle, so a lot of the people there were their friends (or familiar with their music), and it basically turned into a big, 45-minute, dance party.

Believe it or not, after four years, the band decided to change their name to Brite Futures. “Why would they change from such a glorious name,” you ask?

We chose our band name on a whim when we were still in high school, and “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” has seen us through an unexpectedly amazing four years. Our love affair with Natalie’s name was like a summer fling that lasted… and lasted… and lasted… But now it is summer once again, and time for a change. Also, it has recently come to our attention that our muse Ms. Portman is not so keen on us using her name in ours… Ultimately we are lovers, not fighters, and our mamas didn’t raise no fools, so we feel it is time to move forward with a new name. We are BRITE FUTURES.

To fully appreciate NPSH Brite Futures you NEED to watch this video.


(mp3) Brite Futures – Dog Eared Summer

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (now known as Brite Futures)

Glistening Pleasure (2008):

(mp3) Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – L.A. Noir

(mp3) Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – Mouth Full of Bones

Site | Myspace

Neistat Brothers

photo credit: The Selby via NYmag

I don’t usually talk about TV shows here (mainly because I don’t watch much TV), but just wanted to give everyone a heads up on this really creative show that is premiering on HBO tonight called The Neistat Brothers. As the WSJ states, the show “is an eight-episode collection of wildly inventive short autobiographical DIY films made by Casey and Van Neistat ”

While I obviously haven’t seen the pilot episode yet, I’m very familiar with the Neistat brothers, and highly recommend you take the time to watch this. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s visual and quirky style, you’ll definitely appreciate this show. Casey and Van are masters of stop motion animation, and it’s a treat to watch their creativity at work. The show debuts tonight at 12 AM EST. So yeah, if you don’t have HBO, get it. And if you don’t have a TV,  steal one. Just don’t miss the show.

While the Neistat Brothers don’t necessarily get credit for it, they are essentially the godfathers of this new style of DIY homemade video making we see online. They were making high-end Youtube videos before Youtube existed, and simply had this vision for homemade videos before pretty much anyone. It gave them a huge head start and plenty of time to craft their work… which answers why these guys have an HBO show and you don’t.

Here’s a great video that’ll get you acquainted with the Neistat Brothers. This was a recent solo project that Casey made highlighting Chatroulette (when it was still all the talk).


Here’s a trailer for the HBO show:


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Fionn Regan

If you’re a fan of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Ben Kweller, or Sondre Lerche, you should check out Irish singer/songwriter, Fionn Regan. He’s a lively musician who places a lot of emphasis on his lyrics, continually balancing his quirky and dark sides.

In 2006, Fionn released his self-produced debut album, The End of History. He compares the album to opening a “lemonade stand,” saying that “no one really had any expectations, and then it took off.” Since then, he’s been doing quite a bit of touring, and just released his follow-up album, The Shadow of an Empire. It’s notably different than his debut, containing darker lyrics and a new instrumental approach, riding more along the lines of folk/punk, than his previous lush, folk melodies.

Like many of his fans, I probably prefer The End of History. But  I think both albums are great, and I can’t wait to see what Fionn has in store for his next album. I think it’s really cool that he stays true to his music, regardless of where it steers him, and that he still handles all the creative aspects of his music. He says, “if you work with a producer, it seems all the time is spent telling them what you want to do. I suppose until I meet someone with that Lennon and McCartney thing, who just gets it, I’ll do it myself.”

Fionn Regan is based out of Wicklow, Ireland. I read a few interviews with him, and am pretty fascinated by all the imagery he uses when he talks. He throws around quirky metaphors like it’s no one’s business. Such as the above example with comparing himself to a lemonade stand, or when asked why he became a musician: “You make a pact with something invisible. After that you can trip and fall into a river, or you can follow a lot of crayon maps drawn by demented people, but you still have to do it, because you’d suffer if you didn’t.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!

The End of History (2006)

(mp3) Fionn Regan – Put a Penny in the Slot

(mp3) Fionn Regan – Be Good or Be Gone

The Shadow of an Empire (2010)

(mp3)  Fionn Regan – Lord Help My Poor Soul

itunes | myspace

This video for “Be Good or Be Gone” is wonderful.


Little Joy – “Don’t Watch Me Dancing”

The LA band, Little Joy, has some really great songs that bring to mind one of my very favorite bands, The Velvet Underground. In particular, Binki Shapiro sings the lead vocals on the second to last track, “Don’t Watch Me Dancing,” and has a striking resemblance to Nico. It’s a beautiful song. And it only helps matters that they both have super weird names.

Rodrigo Amarante sings main vocals on most of the tracks, and reminds me quite a bit of another musician I like as well, Willy Mason.  Some songs that I enjoy in particular on the band’s 2008 self-titled debut include “Play The Part,””The Next Time Around,” and “Unattainable.”.  Seriously–I can’t get enough of Binki’s voice. Perfect for a Saturday.

S/T (2008):

(mp3) Little Joy – Don’t Watch Me Dancing

(mp3) Little Joy – The Next Time Around

myspace | itunes


Nathaniel Rateliff – “Boil & Fight”

Photo Credit: Jesus Christ

A few months back, Alie featured Nathaniel Rateliff on the site. His debut album, In Memory and Loss, is gorgeous. You should definitely check it out  (preferably while looking at the above photo) if you’re into that country-folk sound. I heard Nathaniel puts on a great live show, and I’m really bummed that I’m missing his tour this go around.

Nathaniel is currently based out of Denver, and I found this interview with the Denver Post to be pretty fascinating. Basically, Nathaniel had two bands, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Wheel (who we are currently featuring) and Born in the Flood. The record label Roadrunner (home to Nickelback), offered to sign Born in the Flood and essentially wanted to turn them into the next Nickleback. Rateliff, realizing just how much Nickelback sucks, knew that he wouldn’t be happy going that route, even if it brought him great fame and fortune. Therefore, he signed his other band to the more modest Rounder records–a 39-year-old folky label that is home to the Woody Guthrie archives, Nanci Griffith, and Delta Spirit.

Our friends at Yours Truly recently filmed  a live session with Nathaniel Rateliff, where he played “Boil & Fight.” It’s an intimate recording that took place on a back porch near Austin. Check it out!


In Memory and Loss (2010):

(mp3) Nathaniel Rateliff – Boil & Fight

Site | Buy | MySpace

Scott Avett covers Bombadil

Bombadil is a favorite over at IndieMuse–their album Tarpits and Canyonlands was on my Top 10 list last year. Simply put, they are a band worthy of everyone’s ears. It’s criminal that more people haven’t heard their music.

Instead of listening to a nobody like me though–consider this! Avett brother, Scott, recently did a video cover of Bombadil’s song “Marriage.”  Last time I checked, The Avett Brovers don’t cover just anybody.

I still can’t decide what I like more: the band’s music or their photos. As you can see below, their CD travels the world asking friendly strangers to capture his adventures. Everytime it comes home to the band they share the photos with the world to see.


(mp3) Bombadil – Honeymoon

(mp3) Bombadil – Marriage

Site | Store | iTunes | Myspace

see more photos on Bombadil’s Facebook fan page.