The Rubens

Soul swelling, blues peddling, swagger surfer rock (whew!) pretty much sums up Australia's The Rubens. Composed of 3 brothers and their friend, this band excels with their extremely hook ridden songs.  Many will compare these guys to The Black Keys, but I think they actually have more of a Depeche Mode vibe. Lead singer Sam Margin has a laid back vocal delivery but can bring the songs home when he needs to.

The song "My Gun" has a slinky James Bond-style groove about a girl who has done some serious emotional damage. (I gave her the means, she had the will/ I kept on pushin’ for the kill/ I never thought she’d finish me/ As she shot me down and left me to bleed.) Trust me you will be singing this one for days. Their EP My Gun is on iTunes while their full length is only available in Australia...for now.

The Rubens- Facebook
My Gun-


Striking Matches

Simply put Striking Matches has spark. Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis provide exquisite harmonies on their debut self-titled EP. Many fans will come to know them from their song "When the Right One Comes Along" featured on ABC's Nashville (but sung with such restraint by Sam Palladio), but that is not where the discovery should end. These Matches are at their best when they are singing their hearts out about love lost.

On "When the Right One Comes Along" Zimmerman sings about the ease at which love should happen. ("What they're thinking/What you're feeling/You'll no longer have to guess/All those questions finally put to rest when the right one comes along") Another gem not found our their debut is "Not the One." Another brilliantly written ode to resigning to the fact that you are not the one meant to be with another. Striking Matches not only have the music and talent to make it big, but they also have the songwriting capabilities that will give them longevity.

Striking Matches- Facebook
Not the One-


Swear and Shake

New York based Swear and Shake is the rocking folk band led by the dual vocalists Kari Spieler and Adam McHeffey. Together they deliver down home, foot stomping numbers that are sure to meld with the Mumford and Sons loving crowd. 

Fan funded LP Maple Ridge provides an excellent intro into this band. "These White Walls" is a heartbreaking song about love lost. Spieler and McHeffey deliver lines like "I can hear the ringing still/You said you'd never love me and I know you never will" with such force that you have to wonder if they have lived it. I need much more of Swear and Shake in my life that's for sure. 

Swear and Shake- Facebook
These White Walls-


Hot Bodies in Motion

Hot Bodies in Motion are very accurately named. With their blues drenched rock, these guys from Seattle sure do know how to set a groove. Their EP Old Habits came out early last year a little under the radar, but it was filled with blistering songs like the lo-fi bombastic "Old Habits" and "Physics" which is filled with some great guitar work. Lead by Ben Carson's gritty vocals, this band really knows how to scorch a hook. 

Their new single "That Darkness" does what these guys do best, provide rock with a jolt of gritty blues.

Hot Bodies in Motion- Facebook
That Darkness-


A Lion Named Roar

I first heard of A Lion Named Roar after just stumbling upon them in one of those constant YouTube video clip loops. (We've all been there) At the time, I was impressed, but there wasn't really much in the way of actually purchasing any of their music. On November 27th, ALNR will put out their Foreign Land EP. While this isn't a full length album, they are following in the Imagine Dragons blueprint. Release an EP, gain some buzz, release the LP, BAM! Instant hit band. 

With huge hooks and a pop/rock sensibility these guys from Kentucky are clamoring to be heard. With first single "This Won't Last For Long," lead singer Chris Jackson soars on a song about cherishing moments as they come. "Noon" starts off with a western whistle and churns along with stiff swagger. "Remember Me"(a personal favorite) is filled with excellent lyrics about losing your identity in a relationship with a chugging beat. ("When days are gone and you're not around anymore will i remember me?") A Lion Named Roar could stand to roar a little louder at some moments, but this EP shows a ton of potential for a band that lives up to the hype.

A Lion Named Roar- Facebook
This Won't Last For Long-


Moon Taxi

Jam bands are not my thing at all. Usually I'm like let's get on with already. Nashville's Moon Taxi is different. They meld rock sensibilities with a country swagger and put on a jam band mask. With their latest album, Cabaret, Moon Taxi have found a genre busting mix of songs that is sure to get your toes tapping. Album opener (and highlight), "Mercury" is a Kings of Leon-esque affair with lead singer Trevor Turndrup sounding his raspy-voiced best, especially on the sky high chorus. The rest of the album is a rock/jam dream. Fans of Kings of Leon or Ponderosa are sure to love Moon Taxi. 

Moon Taxi- Facebook


Dominique Pruitt

Dominique Pruitt is your new summer siren obsession. Latest single "To Win Your Love" is soaked in retro surf guitars and has a bouncy beat. Pruitt has a slight rasp in her voice that really distinguishes her from other artists. I liken her to a poppy version of Best Coast. 

 She is currently recording her first album and if this single is any indication of the direction expect great thing from this girl. Discover her here first so when you hear her on the radio you can truly be ahead of the curve.

Dominique Pruitt- Facebook
To Win Your Love- 


Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter lives somewhere in between rootsy Americana and sensitive singer/songwriter all the while keeping the hooks and melodies at the forefront. His debut album feathers and fishHooks (out 8/28) is aptly named as many of his songs take on a rather outdoor open-air quality with acoustic guitar and mandolin. 

"Driveway Melody" is toe tapper worthy of a summer playlist. Baxter fills every inch of music with a nostalgic touch of Americana and his voice has that touch of rasp giving it a lived in quality. On the quiet "The Woman For Me" Baxter sings to those who are still looking for love with lines likes "Don't matter where I go/ Don't matter what I see/ I ain't never gonna find the woman for me." Rayland Baxter tells simple stories through heartfelt songs. A great combination in today's music landscape.

Rayland Baxter- Facebook
Driveway Melody-


X Ambassadors

Ragged guitars, throbbing bass lines, and hooks all over the place, give Ambassadors an edge over the competition. Most rock bands seem to forget that great music needs to have a melody that listeners want to come back to. Ambassadors gets that. 

Their new (to me at least, it came out in January) album Litost has many highlights and showcases lead singer Sam Harris' vocals with great ease. On the nostalgic track "Unconsolable" Harris veers back and forth from a falsetto to a full voice with great skill. He sings about trying to leave adolescence behind but somehow it always finds it way back to you. ( I hope we stay thick as thieves/ butter and bread/and I wish I could shout you out

"Bodybag" is harmony-drenched and a real change of pace with its laid back vibe. But its the title track that really showcases what these guys can do. Melding strings and acoustic guitar Ambassadors layer and build quite a sad song of self-torment. (which is exactly what litost, pronounced LEE-toast, means) With heartbreaking lines like, And how long must I stay? Will I lay by your side/ just to say that I'm yours/and you'll never be mine, Ambassadors proves that not only can their music speak for itself but they can write like no other. 

Ambassadors- Facebook


Youth Imperial

New bands bring a breath of fresh air to my iTunes, but when bands are so new they only have one single to listen to, it can be a real test in patience. Youth Imperial are a melodic alt rock band whom I can only judge on a couple of YouTube concert videos and the single "Lamplight." But sometimes, less is more. 

Led by the exquisite, bluesy lead vocals of Robbie Redway, Youth Imperial is your next great obsession. Youth Imperial create a mood; soulful, melodic, atmospheric almost. "Lamplight" is a low-key affair that simmers just below the surface during the verses, and lets go for the chorus. I've definitely had this song of repeat lately and demand to hear more from this very promising band. You can download "Lamplight" for free here.

Youth Imperial- Facebook


Delta Rae

Upon hearing "Bottom of the River," I was transfixed. Maybe it was down home stomps that carry the beat. Maybe it was the four part harmonies that so effortlessly weave in and out. Whatever it is, I'm sold. Delta Rae wear every bit of their North Carolina roots on their sleeve. I would best classify them as Ameriana folk rock. 

Their album Carry the Fire comes out this summer and from the two tracks I've heard, this group is the real deal. Made up of 3 siblings Ian, Eric, and Brittany Holljes and their longtime friend Elizabeth Hopkins, they trade off lead vocals and it provides such a change of pace for each song. Bright things coming for this group. Check out the killer (literally) video for "Bottom of the River."

Delta Rae- Facebook
Bottom of the River-


Max and the Moon

When you have a song called "Out of My Head," before you even press play there's an underlying feeling that it will stick with you all day. Max and the Moon have done just that. Blending vocal harmonies, danceable beats, and a backwards playing hook a la Missy Elliot, Max and the Moon have crafted pop/rock perfection. Much in the same vein as Foster the People, MATM lean a little more the folky side on other tracks off their new EP The Way I See

Lead by John Velasquez, this four piece from Southern California soak in the their Southern Cali roots on the Beach Boys-esque "Light House," filling the track with harmonies around every turn. Max and the Moon are a stealthy type. Their songs will find a place in your day when you least expect it, which could good or bad depending on how you look at. With songs this well crafted, it's definitely a good thing. 

Max and the Moon-Facebook
Out of My Head-



The Royal Sons

It's been another long while. I don't ever forget to update DFD, but I really only want to put on bands and artists that I feel are good enough. After randomly catching their OneRepublic mash-up on YouTube, I started traveling down the digital road to discover more music from The Royal Sons. Their type of music is very much in the same vein as OneRepublic. They have a pop/rock sensibility with a true singer/songwriter vibe. Lead singer Landon Maslyn has a voice that seems to cut through; it's very honest. On standout tracks like "Victim" and "Holding You Back" The Royal Sons paint a (very catchy) picture of relationships gone bad especially on the former with lines like "You're a victim in your own life...push me away because I'm close to you." If you're into emotionally charged vocals with a guitar driven melodies this is the band for you. All of their songs can be downloaded for free here.

The Royal Sons- Facebook
OneRepublic Medley-

Holding Me Back-


Alex Clare

 Mix David Gray, James Morrison, The Black Keys, and dubstep(?!) and you've got Alex Clare. This troubadour has such soul and sadness in his voice, it's a wonder that he isn't more well-known. That may be about to change. Clare's bluesy single "Too Close" was recently used in an Internet Explorer commercial (which is how I came across his music) and I have to imagine that many more discovered his music that way as well. 

His album The Lateness of the Hour is not available in the US (yet?) but you can get a few singles from iTunes, the aforementioned "Too Close" and the insanely catchy and bombastic "Up All Night." The latter finds Clare furiously recounting his partying ways "going on and on and on..." But it's on the soulful "Hummingbird" where he really finds his wings both musically and lyrically comparing his reluctant lover to a hummingbird hovering and as "I float near you fly away." 

Alex Clare may not be a household name yet, but by God he deserves to be. Just take one listen below and trust me, you will be searching for more.

Alex Clare- Facebook
Up All Night


The Jim Ivins Band

Shifting through all the music submissions here at Digging For Days can get a little overwhelming. You've got to be able to sort through all the PR hype to really find some great stuff. With that said, I usually always listen to bands that personally send some of their music for sampling. The Jim Ivins Band normally wouldn't have been on my radar but Mr. Ivins himself sent me their new album Everything We Wanted (available 2/25), and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

Kicking things off with properly is their first single "The Sight of Fire," with its soaring chorus and tale of self-destruction. With smart lines like "Funny how we kill ourselves when we try to feel alive," this is one finely crafted pop/rock song. And that brand of pop/rock is what Jim Ivins Band does so well. Everything We Wanted is filled with hook-y songs in the same vein. If you like the song below, definitely check out their new album available digitally in all the usual places.

The Jim Ivins Band- Facebook

The Sight of Fire-


Green River Ordinance

I never really gave Green River Ordinance a chance. I listened a couple of their songs a looong time ago and wasn't impressed. Fast-forward to today and I'm glad to say that I gave them a second listen. GRO are all at once dynamic, laid back, and hummable.

Their new album Under Fire is set to come out on February 28th and if their lead single "Heart of Me" is any indication, this is going to be an album full of growth. The songwriting is sharper, the hooks crisper, and it just seems like a stronger effort. "Heart of Me" starts with buzzed out guitars and really takes off with Josh Jenkins vocal delivery. (And they are giving the song away for free here!) Green River Ordinance is proof that bands sometime deserve another listen.

Green River Ordinance-Facebook
Heart of Me-


Good Old War

Good Old War specialize in breezy, folk-rock with incredible hooks. I first heard about them a few years ago with their self-titled album, and they are gearing up to release their brand new one in March. Titled Come Back as Rain, Good Old War are back with their summery flair in full force. 

Lead single "Calling Me Names" is quite the toe-tapper with lead singer Keith Goodwin really letting some person who has done him wrong have it. He rattles off lines such as, "Instead of making sense and talking like we’re friends, you think it’s a better idea calling me names" all over a jangly laid back acoustic guitar. If you haven't checked out Good Old War before, do yourself a favor and get some of their music to prepare for those lazy summer nights. 

Good Old War- Facebook
Calling Me Names-


Marianas Trench

It's been a while, I know, but I haven't been excited about any new band or artist in a while. Marianas Trench (while not new) are certainly worthy. Their new concept album Ever After, is a breath of fresh air. From beginning to end, there is not a bad song in the bunch. Each track is unpredictable with the epic opening number shifting tempos 3 times. (!) Lead singer Josh Ramsay is at the helm and delivers in spades. Ramsay's voice soars and is a thing to behold. One of the best vocalists singing right now (and arguably ever). Several times, he hit notes with such power that it literally gave me chills. 

Ever After does have a larger story to tell and while this theme lends itself to repeat listening, I prefer to just sing along. Stutter is an upbeat, hand-clapping, harmonizing masterpiece of pop music. Truth or Dare starts and stops with a breakneck beat. Marianas Trench are more popular in their native Canada but with songs this strong, they are just beginning to boil here in the US. 

Marianas Trench- Facebook