We do a lot of roundups in the NUVO universe. Last April, we picked the 100 best Hoosier albums ever. In the fall, we put together a comprehensive guide to local record labels and their upcoming releases. Why, just last week, we compiled more than 60 places to karaoke in the Circle City.
This is one thing we know: We could never successfully round up all the local bands we love in Indy. There are simply too many.
But the five artists and bands we've profiled here have impressed us, in very specific ways. Whether it's through killer album release shows, manic dance parties, or irrepressible song writing, we're predicting big things for these artists and bands in 2015. We believe these are the young local artists you'll hear from this year.
We brought them all to the Sinking Ship for a full day of conversation and photos. Portraits are by Angela Leisure, with hair by Chie Sharp and makeup by Julie Powers.
SM WOLF has three releases brewing
Adam Gross' pop songs are usually pretty joyful — so much so that he named one of his bands Amo Joy.
But a couple of songs the singer and guitarist wrote in the last few years just didn't fit Amo Joy. They were darker, sonically and lyrically. So he set them aside for SM Wolf, a band that, at the beginning, really wasn't really supposed to be a band.
"It started because Adam just kept writing songs and kept recording them," SM Wolf bassist and Amo Joy collaborator Ben Leslie says during a recent conversation. "There was no plan for SM Wolf being anything," Gross agrees, who took his batch of half-written songs, finished and recorded them in a week, and took them out live.
Then, "the people went crazy," keyboardist Rachel Enneking says. SM Wolf was immediately embraced on a local level, so much so that the band says they've barely sought out shows, instead playing gigs they've been mostly asked to do. But how did Gross take his side project to full band?
"It was really when Mel started playing with us that we solidified," Gross says. Mel is his wife Melanie Rav, who took over drum duties from James Furness. With the addition of Rav, Leslie and Enneking, SM Wolf became a regular on all sorts of bills in venues all over Indy. They perfected their set of psych pop by not being perfect, Gross' songs fuzzing out onstage through four bodies. Local label InStore Recordings released a 7-inch of those initial, quickly recorded songs; design duo Brain Twins created an animated video for their track "King of The Suits." They practiced. And practiced.
"Last year was all about having fun and just seeing what we could do and what people would be responsive to, and this year we have a really solid direction with it," Enneking says, "and we're ready to take the lead."
The band has a variety of releases percolating, including a full-length, finished last fall, their half of a cassette split due out on Jurassic Pop, and a super secret project that the band won't give many details on, except to say with unison laughs, "we can't say." They're plotting corresponding live dates.
At recent Indy shows, the band has played snippets of the new stuff live; it all fits right in to the rest of their irrepressible live set. But listening to their recorded tracks on record — especially the new songs for the split, which are the first the band recorded all together, rather than by Gross solo — those three new songs channel a looser, larger energy. It's the sound of a band settling into themselves, of a solo project unspooling into something much bigger.
It's exciting. We all think so.
"We're all on the same page, the energy and goals we have behind [this band]," Rav says. "We have all this unreleased material —" Leslie starts. " — and we're ready to launch," Enneking finishes, happily.
— Katherine CoplenNext: Sirius Blvck's major album