the HAMBURG-based ELECTRONIC MUSIC duo DIGITALISM have been around for more than a decade, but i only recently became aware of their CONTAGIOUS NEW ORDER-esque sound. to my ears, the tandem DJ / production duo JENS "JENCE" MOELLE and ISMAIL "ISI" TUFEKCI have created with their SYNTH-heavy sonic aesthetic something reminiscent of other MODERN ELECTROCLASH acts like LADYTRON, CUT COPY, HOT CHIP and THE KNIFE. that being said, all these acts have adopted a SYNTH POP sound that incorporates SAMPLING and TRADITIONAL pop SONG STRUCTURES into something that sounds both EXPANSIVE / EXPERIMENTAL and FAMILIAR, which is an INTRIGUING dynamic.
DIGITALISM is definitely worth checking out.
of course RANCID is one of the most CELEBRATED PUNK ROCK bands of MODERN times and for good reason, TIM ARMSTRONG and LARS FREDERIKSEN write some incredible songs and the band has an UNDENIABLE MUSICAL CHEMISTRY as well as PALPABLE PASSION and DISTINCT VISION for the COMMUNITY they have fostered over the past few decades. in my eyes they are not a BAND, but an AMERICAN INSTITUTION. like BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, WOODY GUTHRIE or BOB DYLAN. ive witnessed it firsthand at their shows. its an ongoing love affair between the BAND and their FANS, and at its heart are the PERSONAL REAL-LIFE NARRATIVES and INCLUSIVE messages of DEFIANCE, LOVE and COMMUNITY in their songs.
all that being said, it is incredibly INTERESTING to see how the individuals fair when pursuing outside projects. ARMSTRONG of course incorporated HIP HOP production and beats a la his commercially SUCCESSFUL TRAVIS BARKER-collaboration THE TRANSPLANTS as well as delved into his ska roots in his solo work.
FREDERIKSEN on the other hand seems more interested in the SOCIAL COMMENTARY tradition of FOLK music. it makes perfect sense that one of his first singles with THE BASTARDS was a cover of BRITISH singer-songwriter BILLY BRAGG's "TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT" about the defiant mentality of the overworked and under-appreciated working class. i will similarly point out the obvious and state that such a SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS thread was also apparent in the work of JOE STRUMMER of THE CLASH throughout his career. i think once someone is subject to the suffering of POVERTY and FOOD INSECURITY, it is something that doesnt leave you. ever. you look back at the work of WOODY GUTHRIE and he was singing about the DUST BOWL and the suffering it imposed on normal people. there is a through line i can discern. it would seem not to be the most commercially viable option to pursue FOLK lyrical and sonic influences in your solo work, but FREDERIKSEN has proved it to be an IDEAL and HONEST vehicle for his material outside his much LEGENDARY and much BELOVED main gig.
my hope is that he sticks with it and pursues this course over the long term. it would be nice to see how it develops over time. at the very least the solo work of LARS FREDERIKSEN is most definitely worth checking out.
i came across BREAKBOT, a.k.a. the FRENCH PRODUCER / DJ THIBAUT JEAN-MARIE MICHEL BERLAND, while researching ED BANGER RECORDS for a future DEER GOD RADIO episode. his music immediately caught my ear since it was reminiscent of SYNTH POP artists i deeply appreciate like CHROMEO and ROYKSOPP, which is INTERESTING since he has REMIXED for both in the past. BREAKBOT's sound is FUN, UPLIFTING and UPTEMPO with plenty of SOLID FUNK bass lines and WARPED SAMPLED embellishments. its ELECTRONIC MUSIC that makes you take notice and want to join in immediately on the KINETIC vibe, if only in the privacy of your bedroom.
definitely worth checking outl.
sometimes you put your ear out into the ether of the internet and it pays dividends. such was the case in discovering the NUMBER GIRL, the disbanded JAPANESE INDIE ROCK band from FUKUOKA on the southern island of KYUSHU. my immediate impression was that their sound had the CHAOTIC, DISSONANT and often ATONAL flair of SONIC YOUTH while maintaining CONVENTIONAL POP STRUCTURES a la HUSKER DU, THE REPLACEMENTS or THE PIXIES. this former group definitely walked the line between EXPERIMENTAL NOISE ROCK and TRADITIONAL AMERICAN INDIE ROCK.
which is fine by me because i am fan of that sound and NUMBER GIRL mined such in the late 1990s and early 2000s before their breakup. since then they have reunited on occasion for JAPANESE festival gigs, but insofar have pursued outside projects. here is hoping for new music from the group, who are definitely worth checking out.
LEGACY is a TRICKY thing. on one hand its nice to have a pedigree of QUALITY associated with the very mention of your name, but it can be LIMITING, especially when it comes to something as FICKLE and ONEROUS as AUDIENCE EXPECTATIONS.
like anyone else, i was pleasantly surprised to learn that KIM THAYIL (SOUNDGARDEN, THE NO WTO COMBO), KRIST NOVOSELIC (NIRVANA, GIANTS IN THE TREES, THE NO WTO COMBO), MATT CAMERON (SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM, HATER) and BUBBA DUPREE (VOID, HATER) were involved in a new project called 3RD SECRET, especially after hearing their first few releases online to learn that it was a bit of a sonic departure from the bands they're famously associated with. for starters 3RD SECRET is fronted by two women, JILLIAN RAYE & JENNIFER JOHNSON who both previously collaborated in recent years with NOVOSELIC in the decidedly EXPERIMENTAL ALTERNATIVE ROCK band GIANTS IN THE TREES.
with 3RD SECRET, the PHRASING and ODD-TIME SIGNATURE guitar riffage of THAYIL is UNMISTAKABLE, but the context is DIFFERENT. with the TANDEM VOCALS and SPARSE INSTRUMENTATION the effect is often PASTORAL and intriguingly FOLK-adjacent at times to my ears, something id never associate with the AGGRESSIVE ALTERNATIVE ROCK of SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA or the UNRELENTING HARDCORE of VOID. most of all, i have to say its just great to see them all in action with a CREATIVE vehicle that nods but is not beholden to their PAST. and honestly, from an outside perspective they seem like they are ENJOYING themselves, so more power to them.
im looking forward to what they come up with in the FUTURE, however long this current project lasts. 3RD SECRET is definitely worth checking out.
i first learned about the BROOKLYN-by-way-of-AUSTRALIA-and-INDONESIA DREAM POP group YOUNG MAGIC back when i was researching for a DEER GOD RADIO episode about the INDEPENDENT CARPARK RECORDS label. what stood out to me about their EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONIC sound was how delicately ETHEREAL and particularly EMOTIVE the VOICE of MELATI MALAY was. such a VOCAL PRESENCE was buttressed by a bed of sound that could be described as TRIP HOP-adjacent, with INTERESTING SAMPLES and SYNTH LINES juxtaposed with dreamlike HAZY texturing that effectively presented a BEAUTIFUL and articulate clarion call lifting from a deep void.
YOUNG MAGIC is most definitely worth checking out.
POST PUNK and INDUSTRIAL informed act THE SOFT MOON is the brainchild of one LOS ANGELES native LUIS VASQUEZ. raised by a single mother his upbringing was very much a PERIPATETIC affair throughout CALIFORNIA and 90s PUNK ROCK and 80s HARDCORE very much informed his musical interests. its intriguing that the LUSH, INTIMATE and ETHEREAL yet BLEAK, IMPOSING and VAST emotional DARK WAVE soundscapes, which bring to mind everyone from DEPECHE MODE, THE FALL, DRAB MAJESTY and KILLING JOKE to BAUHAUS and TWIN TRIBES, are all rooted in one dude. then again, you get the sense that his upbringing maybe made him more than a little INTROSPECTIVE and SELF-RELIANT.
having led a pretty NOMADIC existence myself for years on end living abroad, i identify with how his albums transition based on his new adopted surroundings in locales such as VENICE, OAKLAND, BERLIN and BROOKLYN among others. i look forward to seeing what VASQUEZ has cooked up next. THE SOFT MOON is definitely worth checking out.
sometimes i feel inspired by listening to LO-FI music that in terms of aesthetics is mining the deep well of MINIMALISM. that whole 'less is more' concept put in practice with lots of negative space. AUSTIN-by-way-of-ARIZONA GARAGE ROCK band HARLEM very much strikes that delicate sonic balance with MELODIC yet DISSONANT skeletons of songs that sound quite more POWERFUL than youd expect coming from this MINUTEST of INDIE ROCK trios. guitar, bass, drums and earnestly felt top line melodies that make their music soar.
not really sure what else you need. HARLEM, as well as all their splinter groups (DAYTONA, LACE CURTAINS, GRAPE ST and LAS ROSAS) are well worth checking out.
recently ive been totally entranced by the INTOXICATING sound of the GUADALAJARA-based three-piece INDIE ROCK / SHOEGAZE band NORWAYY, who have a intimately DELICATE yet emotionally POWERFUL sound that lingers long after the song ends in the best tradition of SLOWDIVE, JAPANESE BREAKFAST, BROADCAST, LUSH and MY BLOODY VALENTINE. i just cant get over how dynamic their sound is, from HAZY fragile verses to these commanding, VIBRANT widescreen choruses.
can't rant about them any more profusely. NORWAYY is definitely worth checking out.
upstate NEW YORK's THE BOBBY LEES are one of the most PROVOCATIVE and ENERGETIC GARAGE ROCK bands i have come across in quite a while. there is just something oxymoronic about their STRUCTURED and COMPOSED sense of outright LOOSENESS, as if the band is some kind of KINETIC high wire act, that brings to mind the likes of bands past such as THE STOOGES, THE NEW YORK DOLLS, 70s-era ROLLING STONES and even AT THE DRIVE-IN. part of that undoubtedly is due to the CHARISMATIC and UNHINGED persona of front-woman SAM QUARTIN, who looks every bit as committed as IGGY POP, POLY STYRENE, DARBY CRASH and LIAM GALLAGHER before her.
its just so cool to see this new generation of like-minded PUNK / GARAGE bands in THE CHATS, DEATH VALLEY GIRLS and AMYL & THE SNIFFERS pushing music forward while revitalizing past forms and genres to a new, more JUDGMENTAL and CLAUSTROPHOBIC DIGITAL AGE. looking forward to following this band for years to come.
in short, THE BOBBY LEES are definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
the BROOKLYN NOIR-tinged GOTH FOLK duo CHARMING DISASTER is a MINIMAL affair. armed with a VIVID imagination and modest setup that includes a UKULELE, ACOUSTIC GUITAR and a DIMINUTIVE single SUITCASE attached to a bass drum pedal. the SPARSE sonic elements effectively put the emphasis on the NARRATIVE-based lyrics and songwriting of one ELLIA BISKER and JEFF MORRIS, armed with a litany of literary influences ranging from the OCCULT, HORROR and MAGICK to ROMAN NOIR , TRADITIONAL GOTHIC FICTION and even TRUE CRIME.
we were lucky to have filmed and recorded them performing "BLACKSNAKE" and "DAYS ARE NUMBERED" as part of our pre-pandemic live performance series KREISCHER MANSION SESSIONS and have MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC to thank for making the introduction. lately they have been continuing a livestream program they initiated during the pandemic and are currently on tour nationwide in support of their most recent SUPER NATURAL HISTORY release.
personally i really appreciate their ARTISTRY and PRETERNATURAL LYRICAL eye for OBSERVATIONAL DETAILS and gifted ability to flesh out a THEME in a MEMORABLE, WELL-CRAFTED song. CHARMING DISASTER is definitely worth checking out.
one of the things i noticed almost immediately during my yearlong stay in YOKOHAMA a few years back was the RIGID SOCIAL FORMALITIES and FORCED POLITENESS of TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CULTURE. for some foreign visitors this state of affairs is a plus and a REFRESHING departure from WESTERN informalities and our INGRAINED SOLIPSISM. it only takes a second to be POLITE and by and large the JAPANESE take that second. but its CULTURALLY enforced and the INTENTIONALITY is not wholly AUTHENTIC if that makes any sense.
i was so relieved after my first month teaching in YOKOHAMA when my JAPANESE coworkers began lightly insulting and making fun me. it felt like a social barrier had finally been crossed where they werent forced to be so POLITE all the time. but what stayed with me throughout my time was how JAPANESE WOMEN were effected by this CULTURE of SILENT POLITENESS. in their CULTURE there is a MASSIVE YOUTH MOVEMENT encompassing and promoting all things YOUNG, CUTE and KAWAII. but what happens when one ages out of that? JAPAN has one of the lowest global birthrates, only surpassed by their neighbor SOUTH KOREA. it felt to an outsider like one was a prisoner to their own GENDER, which felt like a sorry CLAUSTROPHOBIC trap.
i say all this to contextualize the UNIQUE listening experience of KYOTO's OTOBOKE BEAVER, which was beyond THRILLING as their songs pedal between SWEET, HARMONIC interludes with PITCH-PERFECT MELODIC singing and CHAOTIC, HARSH, DISCORDANT noise a la MELT-BANANA and BIG BLACK. their music feels like a PRIMAL SCREAM that effectively sheds the NICETIES of a REDUCTIVE JAPANESE FEMININITY that renders them prisoner to ANACHRONISTIC CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS. it is nothing short of a REVELATION and one of the most EXCITING things ive heard in years.
definitely worth checking out.
JELLYFISH were one of the GREAT AMERICAN bands that never made it, putting out two OBSCURE records in the early 1990s. their sound was this highly ORCHESTRATED and HARMONIZED affair with SOPHISTICATED ARRANGEMENTS that made them akin to the more POPPIER side of the BRITISH INVASION or maybe the BEACH BOYS. during an era when the musical tide was more about a STRIPPED-BACK, AUSTERE AESTHETIC of SONGWRITING that supposedly relayed a more EARNEST and AUTHENTIC sound, its REFRESHING to discover a band that was more into LUSH, DECORATIVE SOUNDSCAPES that indulged in a genuine love of layered MELODY and BIG MUSICAL IDEAS.
guess JELLYFISH was just around at the wrong time. i can see their approach in bands MODERN INDIE ROCK bands that spend time on the EXPERIMENTAL and BAROQUE end of the SONIC SPECTRUM like KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD, DEERHOOF, THE FLAMING LIPS, MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER, THE DARKNESS, UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA and TAME IMPALA among others. it is a COOL sound well worth checking out.
first off, its pretty difficult to not already LOVE a band called GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH. its just not easy. much the same with other COLORFULLY BRANDED musical outfits like KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, THE THE, ENUFF Z'NUFF, PORNO FOR PYROS and TEST ICICLES. chances are if you are that BRILLIANT with your band name, the music has to follow suit, right?!
in the case of GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH, yes. this band has a HUMOROUS INDIE ROCK take on SURF MUSIC that seems to also incorporates aspects of CLASSIC SOUL MUSIC / R&B and LO-FI GARAGE ROCK. as if AL GREEN is fronting PAVEMENT but with a much more limited vocal range. not sure if this is band is still currently a viable entity or is on some type of semi-permanent hiatus. regardless, they are well worth checking out.
when i first heard the SPASTIC SONIC VIOLENCE that was THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN back in undergrad, the only band that even remotely prepared me for such an AURAL ONSLAUGHT was this EXTREME, MASKED HARDCORE PUNK band out of SAN DIEGO called THE LOCUST that a childhood friend had previously clued me onto my senior year of high school. both now DEFUNCT bands gleefully defied expectations related to both GENRE and SONG STRUCTURE, and have an INDIVIDUALIZED sonic AESTHETIC that is entirely their own. not exactly the easiest thing when your POST-HARDCORE and GRINDCORE peer group is often hyper-aware of and effectively made prisoner to genre prescriptions that limit ARTISTIC EXPRESSION.
the INTENTIONAL ANONYMITY of THE LOCUST provided a vehicle to truly go off the rails sonically. they were not alone in this decision, as artists around their time in different scenes like DAFT PUNK, THE AQUABATS and SLIPKNOT latched onto the same CONCEPT and ETHOS, which they probably got from either THE RESIDENTS, GWAR and/or KISS beforehand. you can still see such utilized in GHOST, SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL and even PUSSY RIOT for the PASSIONATE promotion of varying ARTISTIC and POLITICAL agendas. i believe that with THE LOCUST, such ANONYMITY enabled them to push their sonic inhibitions as far as they could take it, which was beyond EXTREME even by today's standards. definitely a band worth look back on and checking out again.
RIP GABE SERBIAN.
my instinct is to always call BULLSHIT whenever people speak nostalgically of a golden age of anything. truth is, every generation has talent. each generation also has an artistic mandate to push forward and expand the lexicon of what came before and keep the FRESH musical and LYRICAL EXPERIMENTATION going. JOEY BADA$$ is a BROOKLYN rapper that came on the scene a decade ago and was heralded as an GIFTED MC that was bringing back CONSCIOUSNESS and INTELLIGENCE back to a national scene dominated by MUMBLE RAP and fly-by-night SOUNDCLOUD artists that made the form DISPENSABLE (as argued by some OVERZEALOUS critics and old heads).
i dont know if i by into such talk, but in the past decade JOEY BADA$$ has proven to be a THOUGHTFUL and INTROSPECTIVE lyricist who much like his better known peers in J COLE and KENDRICK LAMAR, trades on a personal brand of HIP HOP that is focused on his lived EXPERIENCE (RELATIONSHIPS, PERSONAL LIBERATION, COMMUNITY, EDUCATION, etc.) and has lasted the test of time. to say i consider him in the same league as Q-TIP, TALIB KWELI, CHUCK D, BLACK THOUGHT or MOS DEF is beside the point and IRRELEVANT. i just look forward to following this guy for years to come. at the very least he is most definitely worth checking out.
i recently came across the ARGENTINE INDIE ROCK band LAS LIGAS MENORES and was taken aback by how INCREDIBLE their sense of MELODY was. the nearest analogue i could think of were the PIXIES, but lo and behold they have already recorded an INVENTIVE cover of their song "GIGANTIC." im a total sucker for bands that know how to utilize backing vocals to HAUNTING effect and such is the case with front-woman ANABELLA CARTOLANO and guitarist PABLO KEMPER.
its a UNIQUE sound from an EMERGING band definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i know its hard to believe now, but there was a brief moment when the JARED LETO-led ALTERNATIVE ROCK band 30 SECONDS TO MARS didnt suck.
in my opinion that moment was pretty much their first album. produced by the legendary BOB EZRIN (PINK FLOYD, LOU REED, PETER GABRIEL, KISS), their debut largely kept in check frontman LETO's UNFORTUNATE tic to over-sing and reach for ever higher notes when the song doesnt require it (as would happen on later releases). the songs are structurally AMBITIOUS and slightly PROGGY but with a UNIQUE sense of melody and MEMORABLE, CATCHY hooks. lyrically this album has none of the OVERWROUGHT and CLUNKY "message" songs of later releases. here it is all centered around a SPACE TRAVEL theme, which i am total sucker for.
sonically and stylistically their debut was like CLASSIC SPACE ROCK (HAWKWIND, PINK FLOYD) mixed with FAILURE and A PERFECT CIRCLE. it had both SCOPE and DEPTH, as well as AMBITION that it delivered in spades. for me it was a total breath of fresh air. in the years since this band has been nothing but an embarrassment. they come off as INAUTHENTIC HOLLYWOOD phonies play-acting what they think a ROCK band should be, and their new music seemingly comes from central casting, ever more BLAND and TEDIOUS with each new release. its like THE POLICE, but not in a good way.
they really need to call EZRIN again. errr, maybe like four or five albums ago.
im really digging the PUNCHY GARAGE ROCK sound of LONDON-based INDIE ROCK outfit GHOST CAR. their sound at times ranges from the TWEE and POWER POP and of the spectrum of MINIMALIST ROCK AND ROLL to full on SHOEGAZE with LUSH textures and waves of distortion. the constant is a penchant for strong hooks and MEMORABLE melodies
im curious to hear what they come up with moving forward. GHOST CAR is definitely worth checking out.
i recently came across a cassette copy of the TANG (DEFECTIVE TAPES, 2021) EP by local ASBURY PARK INDIE ROCK band NYLON at a record store i frequent in BELMAR. it was suggested to me by the owner of the place based on other past stuff ive gotten from there. with these types of blind purchases it is always a toss up, but ive been lucky in the past to be turned on to some truly great artists (THE GET UP KIDS, DRAB MAJESTY, BROADCAST, YEAH YEAH YEAHS, SWANS and TORI Y MOI for starters) in this manner.
with its SKITTISH, ANGULAR patterns and ENERGETIC, KINETIC, FORWARD-LEANING rhythms that seekingly shift without warning, the TANG EP to my ear has POST PUNK written all over it. this sense of EXTREME dynamics is readily apparent on the PROPULSIVE opening two tracks "NO BOTHER" and "CONGRATULATIONS", which have an almost classic JITTERY GANG OF FOUR or WIRE feel to it. which is a good thing. even though that sort of vibe has been repeated down the line by everyone from ELASTICA to BLOC PARTY to LA VIDA BOHEME, its a sound i appreciate and never tire of so i can look past its apparent DERIVATIVENESS.
as with all good EPs, the experience of listening to it functions as a aperitif, gently nudging the listener to seek out further material. so on that count this a very SUCCESSFUL release as now i am on the hunt for more material by the group including their previous self-distributed digital single and split releases on BANDCAMP. NEW JERSEY's NYLON is definitely a band worth checking out and keeping a future eye on.