The Independent Music Community Saw So Much Wonderful New Music Released In 2021

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Independent artists and acts are the backbone of the music industry.  There is no denying this truth.  Today’s independent artist/group/act could be the next big name, given the right support.  Keeping that in mind, it is only fitting that the independent acts out there get just as much attention at year’s end as their more well-known counterparts.  That is why Phil’s Picks makes sure to present a list of the year’s top new independent albums each year, including this year. 

This year has seen so many wonderful new independent albums, too.  Up-and-coming rock act Mason Hill, for instance, is on the verge of breaking out thanks to its new album, Against The Wall.  On another note, an act, such as The Grease Traps makes it a presentation that could make it one of the next big names in the realm of neo-soul/funk/R&B with Solid Ground.  It is another record that made this critic’s year-ender list, along with Steadfast’s Transmitters.  Between these records and so many others, this year saw so many notable new independent albums.  They are all compiled in the list featured here.

As with every other list that Phil’s Picks presents annually, the list features the year’s Top 10 new albums and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Those honorable mention titles are included because they each offer something enjoyable in their own right and are no less worth hearing than any of the others featured in the list.  That should be fully understood now.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Independent Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS

  1. Mason Hill – Against The Wall
  2. Ryan Hamilton – 1221
  3. Marc Ribler – The Whole World Awaits You
  4. Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems – Still Dirty
  5. The Grease Traps – Solid Ground
  6. Walking Papers – The Light Below
  7. Grand Royale – Carry On
  8. The Straddlerz – The Straddlerz
  9. Willamena – Broken Songs: A Compilation
  10. Drones – Our Hell Is Right Here
  11. Steadfast – Transmitters
  12. Liar Thief Bandit – Deadlights
  13. The Swaggerlies – The Last of the One and Onlys
  14. Skarlett Riot – Invicta
  15. The Fifth – The Fifth

That is all for this list.  It is just a snapshot of the mass of notable new independent albums released this year, too.  It collectively serves as another reminder of the importance and place of independent music. 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Drones Gets Socially Conscious In New Single, Video

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Drones opened the new week with some new music.

The band premiered its new single, ‘Please Vacate The Planet’ and its video Monday. The song is the sixth single from the band’s latest album, Our Hell is Right Here. Its premiere follows that of the album’s other singles, ‘Live and Let Live,‘ ‘Learn,‘ ‘Josephine,’ ‘Our Hell is Right Here‘ and ‘Epitaph.’ All of the band’s singles are available to stream and download here along with the rest of the album.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Please Vacate The Planet’ is a solid punk style composition. The vocals and instrumentation in whole are shard and precise throughout the song.

According to a prepared statement from the band, the song’s lyrical theme presents a message of social consciousness. That consciousness is in regards to humans’ impact on the planet.

“‘Please Vacate The Planet’ is about the devastating impact humans have on Earth,” the statement reads. “We are like leeches sucking the life from the planet. We build and destroy, consume and discard so rapidly that it’s impossible for the rest of Earth’s life to remain intact. The population is growing so fast that sometimes it feels like the best thing to do is just get rid of us altogether…”

The video for ‘Please Vacate The Planet’ is a relatively simple presentation. Presented in black and white, it features the band in a studio setting, performing its new single. A variety of camera angles and effects is used to enhance the presentation and the tension in the song’s lyrical theme and the energy in its musical arrangement.

More information on Drones’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones’ Latest LP Deserves A Spot On Any Critic’s List Of 2021’s Top New Indie Albums

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

More than three months ago, independent rock band Drones launched the campaign to promote its new album Our Hell is Right Here.  In the time since, audiences have been presented with almost half of the album in the form of singles.  To be precise, the album consists of 13 songs, so it’s close.  Those singles, five in total, have painted a strong picture for the record, presenting content both musical and lyrical that will reach a wide range of listeners.  One of the songs that best supports that statement comes in the form of the album’s single, ‘Epitaph.’  It will be discussed shortly.  The album’s latest single, ‘Live and Let Live’ is another example of why the album’s content proves appealing.  It will be discussed a little later.  The album’s title track is one more example of what makes the album stand out.  It will also be addressed later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s content, the record in whole shows it is deserving of consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums.

Drones’ new album Our Hell is Right Here, its first since the release of its 2018 album Exile, is a presentation that is an equally positive introduction for audiences who might be unfamiliar with the band and its work as it is to the band’s established fan base.  That is proven from start to end of the 41-minute presentation through its musical and lyrical content alike.  One of the songs that most clearly supports the noted statements comes late in the album in the form of its single ‘Epitaph.’  ‘Epitaph’ presents a musical arrangement whose stylistic approach and sound that emo and emo-punk fans will find familiar and welcome.  The sense of urgency in the arrangement exhibited through the guitars, the general tempo and front woman Lois McDougall’s vocals engage listeners immediately.  Even the tone in her voice adds its own touch.  That whole pairs well with the song’s lyrical theme, which McDougall herself said centers on the topic of mental health, to make this song even more accessible.  That is because the noted lyrical content will reach so many people who are dealing with their own mental health struggles.

The song’s message addressing the very real and very serious issue of addressing mental health comes right from the song’s lead verse, which finds McDougall singing, “Curses line my spine/But I’m the luckiest fuck in town/Got nothing to weigh me down except for the devil inside my mind/Bruises on my tongue confess the lies that we try to hide/I guess there’s nothing left for me to say except goodnight.”  This in itself is an easily accessible statement.  This is someone saying that he/she may look OK on the outside, but is so weighed down emotionally/internally.  The commentary continues in the second verse, stating Wildfire is all that I desire inside/Forever pine the ghost of my pride/You better believe it/Will I ever be satisfied?/Someone is calling out my name but I can’t seem to place the face/Epitaph reads “- ‘18”/Still running this hopeless race.”  That “wildfire” that is noted is a metaphor for just wanting to feel alive.  The remainder of this line is the statement of someone trying to balance his/her thoughts and that inner struggle.  The song’s final verse continues that inner emotional struggle as it states, “What stays before these eyes is all of my design/So how do you still crawl inside?/So much for out of sight/I’m not ungrateful… just a little lost.”  Given, there is no real resolution here, but that is okay.  So many people today still do not have that resolution, either.  In lieu of that resolution, what audiences get here regardless, is a statement overall that will help those people relate and in turn receive some form of musical and emotional therapy through this statement.  Keeping that in mind with the fact that the song’s musical arrangement pairs as well as it does with the song’s lyrical content, that whole creates its own engagement and entertainment.  To that end, it is just one way in which the album shows its strength.  It is just one of the songs featured in this record that shows the record’s appeal.  ‘Live and Let Live’ is another example of what makes the album stand out.

‘Live and Let Live,’ the latest single from Drones’ new album, is an up-tempo composition whose frenetic drumming, driving guitars, steady bass and equally strong vocals come together to make the whole one of the album’s most notable tracks so far.  It is a very sharp, well-produced composition that is right up there with some of the best garage-punk style works of today and even days gone past.  The energy in the song’s arrangement does well to help work to drive home the discussion in the song’s lyrical content about social acceptance of one another regardless of gender, age, or any other factor.  As McDougall stated of the theme, “‘Live & Let Live’ is for anyone who has ever felt trapped in their own skin.  We’re all born with unique bodies. We don’t have a say in what they’re going to look like, yet for some reason, we’ve built a society where we’re judged based on our appearance – The colour of our skin, our height, our hair colour, our sex, our body shape. Try to see past what’s been drilled into you by people’s contrived views. We have to actively work to fight those deeply ingrained preconceptions because we are all unique, and most of us have felt the damage of unfounded opinion in some way.”  In other words, we need to get past our existing bias and change how we see things, because the world has changed.  The manner in which the message is conveyed here does well to help translate that message.

The message begins with the statement, “This shell it weighs me down/Why do we come in peace to strangers/But loathe others of our own?/Sometimes the skin doesn’t fit right/Like one button skipped/And you can’t fight the overwhelming urge to hide/Just be yourself/There’s no-one else.”  It continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “If you ain’t got nothing positive to say/Your double negatives will fix it all/Genetic inheritance/Luck of the draw/Don’t sweat about the physical/Chased through a jungle of poison tongues/If you play the lion, they will run/The golden ratio is unremarkable.”  What this is ultimately doing is poking fun at those who are less educated and just want to make others feel bad while at the same time telling others to be brave and stand up to the bullies.  It is a message promoting self-confidence.  To that end, this song’s lyrical message is sure to connect with listeners as much as that featured in ‘Epitaph.’  When this song’s uplifting message pairs with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole therein makes this song another clear example of what makes Our Hell is Right Here a   strong overall presentation.  It is just one more example of what makes the album worth hearing, too.  The record’s title track is yet another of the record’s most notable works.

‘Our Hell is Right Here’ is a unique musical presentation.  Over the course of its more than three-and-a-half-minute run (three minutes, 32 seconds to be exact), the song puts  forth an arrangement that melds elements of punk and metalcore for a whole that really reaches out so much to a wide range of listeners.  It is just one more way in which the record’s musical content serves its own positive end for this record.  When the fire in the song’s arrangement joins with the song’s lyrical theme, which focuses on the matter of abuse of power, the song gains even more traction.

The topic of abuse of power is one that is wholly relevant now more than ever.  What has happened in America over the course of the past four years is proof of that.  Now given, this song is not directly aimed at the heinous words and acts of Donald Trump, but could just as easily apply to him just as much as any corrupt leader anywhere in the world.  In the case of this song, the statement is more of a broad commentary not just related to politics, but to those who would abuse power in general.  It opens with the lines, There are things that burn and things that don’t/Some die and some that won’t/So petrified I’m neither one/We’ve got a lot in common but I wish we didn’t have this/They say “me too, me too”/That’s it/One hand on my shoulder/One holding your hair/Whispered “Your secret’s safe with me.”  This comes across as a statement by someone who is seeing everything going on and pointing out all the corruption, whether it be political or even by someone with power, such as an abuser.  It is a strong statement.  As the commentary continues, the speaker becomes more disillusioned and discouraged, stating, “Buried it so deep/And now the spring has come/I can’t seem to recall the scent/The heroes of my youth unveiled their carved out eyes/Why am I so surprised?/The colours are fading out/The more I learn about the world, the sadder I become/How did it take so long for me to learn the truth?”  Later in the song, the anger and frustration is turned seemingly to the religious leaders of the world, with the lines, “You knelt down at the altar/Confessed to heal the pain/As if our faith would save us/No it was all in vain.”  Things ultimately end with the subject left feeling completely disenfranchised, stating, “Your words sank in/My heart begged for fact/Truth hit like daggers until my world collapsed/Revealing our worst fear – Our Hell is right here.”  These indictments will echo in listeners’ minds, unquestionably.  When this impact is considered with the impact of the song’s musical arrangement, that whole makes this song that much more powerful.  When the song is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the record clearly shows its strength and appeal.  To that end, the songs noted and not noted here make the album in whole a viable candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums.

Drones’ new album Our Hell is Right Here is a surprisingly strong new offering from the independent rock band.  It is a presentation that will appeal equally to the band’s established fan base and to those less familiar with the band and its body of work.  That is proven collectively through the record’s musical and lyrical content.  Each of the songs examined here serve to support those statements.  They show that the record’s musical arrangements and lyrical content alike will connect easily to the noted audiences.  The same can be said of the songs not noted here.  All things considered, the album ultimately proves to be among the best of this year’s new independent albums.  Our Hell is Right Here is available now.

More information on Drones’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones Debuts New Single, ‘Live and Let Live’

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Independent punk rock band Drones debuted the fifth single from its new record this week.

The band debuted its new single ‘Live and Let Live‘ Tuesday. The song is featured in the band’s forthcoming album Our Hell is Right Here. Its premiere follows that of the album’s other singles, ‘Learn,’ ‘Josephine,’ ‘Our Hell is Right Here,’ and “Epitaph.’ All five singles are are streaming here. Pre-orders for Our Hell is Right Here are open.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Live and Let Live’ is an up-tempo composition whose frenetic drumming, driving guitars, steady bass and equally strong vocals come together to make the whole one of the album’s most notable tracks so far.

The lyrical content featured along with the song’s musical arrangements take on a very heavy social topic, which front woman Lois McDougall addressed during a recent interview.

“‘Live & Let Live’ is for anyone who has ever felt trapped in their own skin,” she said. “We’re all born with unique bodies. We don’t have a say in what they’re going to look like, yet for some reason, we’ve built a society where we’re judged based on our appearance – The colour of our skin, our height, our hair colour, our sex, our body shape. Try to see past what’s been drilled into you by people’s contrived views. We have to actively work to fight those deeply ingrained preconceptions because we are all unique, and most of us have felt the damage of unfounded opinion in some way.”

More information on Drones’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones Releases New Single, ‘Learn’

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Independent punk rock band Drones debuted the fourth single from its new record this week.

The band debuted its single ‘Learn‘ Tuesday. The song is featured in the band’s forthcoming album Our Hell is Right Here, which is scheduled for release Feb. 12 through Thousand Islands Records. Pre-orders are open for Our Hell Is Right Here.

The new single’s premiere follows that of the album’s first three singles: ‘Josephine,’ ‘Our Hell is Right Here‘ and ‘Epitaph.’

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Learn’ is a fiery, emo-punk style composition. The pairing of the instrumentation and vocalist Lois McDougall’s vocal delivery style makes the arrangement in whole a work that will appeal to fans of bands, such as The Used, Set It Off, and others of that ilk.

The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement focuses on the familiar topic of dealing with difficulties in relationships, according to McDougall.

“Learn is about the desperate struggle to make a failing relationship work,” she said.  “You can feel that it’s not right but you still care about the other person. We seem to make the same mistakes over and over by assuming we know what the other person is thinking, so communication stops. We keep trying to force a relationship to work with someone that we’re just not meant to be with. If it’s more of a struggle than not…it’s not worth it. You should never diminish any part of yourself for someone else because, ultimately, you’ll end up resenting them.”

More information on Drones’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones Debuts New Single, ‘Epitaph’

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Independent punk rock band Drones debuted the third single from its new record this week.

The band debuted its single ‘Epitaph‘ Tuesday. The song is featured in the band’s forthcoming album Our Hell Is Right Here, which is scheduled for release Feb. 12 through Thousand Islands Records. Its premiere follows that of the album’s first two singles, ‘Josephine‘ and ‘Our Hell Is Right Here.’

Pre-orders are open for Our Hell Is Right Here.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Epitaph’ presents an approach and sound that emo and emo-punk fans will find familiar and welcome. The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement follows the same contemplative line presented in the album’s current singles.

Singer Lois McDougall talked about the song’s lyrical content during a recent interview.

“‘Epitaph’ is the emo anthem of our new record,” says McDougall. “The umbrella term ‘mental health’ is so widespread and complex that it can be hard to pinpoint the exact problem that one person is experiencing. That’s why conversation is so important to try and unwrap the layers of each individual‘s struggles. Personally, I’ve done a lot of exploring over the last few years to try and find out which wires are crossed for me and since writing this song I have finally found some appeasing answers. A diagnosis can really help free you from the spiraling mess that depression can cause, and writing Epitaph was just one step of that process for me.”

More information on Drones’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones Premieres New LP’s Second Single; Album Pre-Orders Open

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Independent punk rock band Drones debuted the second single from its new record this week.

The band debuted the title track from its new album Our Hell Is Right Here Tuesday. Its premiere follows that of the record’s lead track, ‘Josephine’ and its video last month. Pre-orders are open for the album, which is scheduled for release Feb. 12 through Thousand Islands Records.

The band’s new single features elements of metalcore and punk together for a unique arrangement that stands on its own merits separate from its predecessor.

The lyrical content featured in the band’s new single focuses, according to information about the song, on abuses of power. The song features a guest appearance by Petrol Girls’ member Ren Aldridge.

More information on Drones’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://thisisdrones.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drones Debuts New Single, ‘Josephine,’ Companion Video

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records

Independent punk rock band Drones released its first new music in two years this week.

The band debuted its new single ‘Josephine’ and its companion video Tuesday. The song and its video are the group’s first new music since the release of the band’s concept album Exiled in 2018.

Drones’ new single is a pure pop punk work in regards to its musical arrangement. The power chords are there, as are the familiar nasal vocal delivery that is so trademark to so much pop punk.

The lyrical theme featured in Drones’ new single is a stark contrast to the song’s catchy musical arrangement, according to vocalist Lois McDougall.

“Growing up in Britain with its normalized binge-drinking culture, I never thought much about the fact I was relying on alcohol to feel relaxed and to have fun,” said McDougall. “It wasn’t until recently that I was forced to tear myself away from it and realized how badly alcohol had been affecting me and my relationships.”

“I wasn’t in control and was abusing myself with alcohol to try and suppress my depression,” added McDougall. “People started referring to the intoxicated me as ‘Josephine’. At first this was funny. Josephine was a clown. But there’s nothing funny about self-abuse. This song is about me realizing that. Alcohol can be great, but if you don’t feel like you can say no to it, it’s time for a change.”

The claymation video that accompanies Drones’ new song was created by animator William Davies. It features McDougall and her band mates as astronauts on an alien world. The group is welcomed by a group of alien iguanas (yes, iguanas), who end up turning on the group after getting drunk on an unidentified drink.

‘Josephine’ is available to stream and download here. The song was produced, mixed, mastered, and engineered by Tim Kramer at Signal House Studios.

In other news, guitarist Rob King recently announced his departure from Drones. Thom Tain, who performed with Drones during its Upset About To Break Tour in 2018, has replaced Tain.

Drummer Mitchell Thomas spoke warmly of King in discussing King’s departure.

“Rob has been a huge asset to this band and his performance style has come to define Drones’ sound,” he said.  “We all remain the best of friends and, although we are incredibly sad to see him go, we wish him the very best with all his future endeavors. We’d like everyone to join us in welcoming Tom aboard. He will be taking the reins on guitar duties and is already smashing it in rehearsals!”

Drones’ new album is scheduled for release in February 2021 through Thousand Islands Records. An exact date is under consideration.

More information on Drones’ new single and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://thisisdrones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dronesuk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DronesUK

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.