No Vocalists Required: 10 Need-To-Hear Instrumental Outfits


[via Giphy]

Prior to this gig, one thing we used to hate about the start of the new year was going back to work. Whether it was a dead end job or another semester of school, getting back into the swing of things always felt like an impossible task. 

No matter what we tried – an extra cup of coffee, going to bed earlier, less partying – nothing ever worked. That is, until we discovered the power of instrumental music.     

Before being turned on to the greatness of Sumerian Records signees Chon, the pure darkness of art metal act Pelican or even the smooth, delectable sounds of BadBadNotGood, we had foolishly left anything “instrumental” strictly to the world of hip-hop and jazz.      

Then, one day, struggling with whatever b.s assignment our professor gave us, we popped in a Caspian record and our lives were forever changed. With every smooth, vocalless track pumping through our earbuds, we felt completely immortal to daunting tasks and cringeworthy essays.      

Needless to say, since then, anytime we’ve felt the New Years Blues coming on, we have turned to the soft and elegant side of instrumental music. And, in hopes of helping your 2016 start off the way it needs to, below is a list of 10 need-to-hear instrumental outfits to help you survive the new year.  


Strawberry Girls

If you’re familiar with Dance Gavin Dance – and possibly even attended their recent 10-year anniversary tour – then Strawberry Girls should probably ring a bell. With former DGD guitarist Zachary Garren manning the six-string, Strawberry Girls has been able land a spot on Tragic Hero Records’ roster and release not one, but two jaw-dropping records. 


Describing themselves as a two-piece, turbo-prog band, Manchester outfit Cleft makes some of the gnarliest math rock around. Unfortunately though, for those just discovering this UK act, the duo has declared they will be splitting up soon – but not without a proper farewell and brand new album (hooray, we think?). To keep up with the pair of crafty musicians before they call it quits, you can check out their Pledge Music campaign here.  


Similar to Strawberry Girls, Polyphia has been creating quit the buzz for themselves in the Warped Tour community – and no, it’s not just because they made a music video about James Franco. Recently hopping on tours with bands like August Burns Red and Between The Buried And Me, it should only be a matter of time until these talented Dallas, Texas instrumentalists make a much bigger name for themselves.      

Sleeping Bear

Whether your band is from Baltimore, Maryland, Tokyo, Japan or even Moscow, Russia, one great thing about instrumental music is that it all speaks the same language. Proving just that is Ukrainian four-piece Sleeping Bear. Even though their Eastern Europe country isn’t known for having the largest musical influence, this post-rock outfit has been able to generate waves on Bandcamp with their impressive 2015 EP Pariae.       


Besides making beautiful Sea Dragon music videos in their spare time, San Francisco trio Covet also creates a polished and blissful blend of instrumental music perfect for anything life throws at you. Whether you’re looking to vibe out or get shit down, jams like “Pelagic” and “Hydra” will definitely help you achieve that goal.           

Jr. Clooney

With one of the best names on our list, there’s no denying the ultimate smoothness Jr. Clooney possesses. Churning out musical vibes at an all-time high, this St. Louis four-piece has discovered what it truly means to be cooler than being cool. (Sorry Andre 3000, the answer is not ice cold; it’s Jr. Clooney).


Fusing multiple genres into a tightly packed – and extremely flavorful – French baguette, France’s Quadrupède (or Quadruped in English) is quite the sensational duo. Taking synthy, space-like sounds and meshing it with ruthless fact-paced drumming, Quadrupède teleports listeners into a world only they can explain.     

Jean Jean

If instrumental music tends to be a bit too straight-forward for you and lacks the element of surprise, we recommend giving Jean Jean a try. With a pinch of everything from Horse The Band to Mario Bros., this delightful duo definitely keeps listeners on their toes. After one listen of their album Symmetry, we think you’ll understand what we mean.    


In addition to their unique two bass player setup, Chicago’s Monobody also provides listeners with a pretty rare and diverse sound. Finding ways to impressively combine jazz and math rock (among other various genres), Monobody is an audible delight any musician can appreciate.     


Rounding out our list is Canadian instrumentalist Aaron Marshall and his project Intervals. After an interesting few years as a full band – which even included a vocalist at one point (gross, we know) – Marshall has returned to his instrumental roots releasing a magnificent new record titled The Shape of Colour.