at the risk of sounding totally off-based, its been a long-held observation of mine that women are often constrained in music, especially ROCK N ROLL, with heteronormative views of FEMININITY as defined by men. that and their sound must not threaten that concept as well.
what i love about CARRE CALLAWAY and her unique brand of ALTERNATIVE ROCK / INDIE ROCK songwriting is just how brash and unfiltered she comes off. there is a real sense of abandon and CATHARSIS and just genuine EXPRESSION that comes off completely AUTHENTIC and seemingly based in REAL-EXPERIENCE. i dont sense any coy affectation or need to play submissive for the camera, and by extension a certain audience. she is playing on a different field that is very much reminiscent of PATTI SMITH.
QUEEN KWONG is definitely worth checking out.
i mean first off, with a name life FULL OF HELL, what is there not to like about this absolutely brutal PENNSYLVANIA / MARYLAND GRINDCORE band?
what i love about this band is the blistering intensity of their music, they seemingly relish punishing the listener with their unrelenting waves of blast beats and pummeling riffage to the point of abstraction. on that front it makes total sense that they did a collaborative effort with noted POST ROCK outfit MERZBOW who likewise explore and juxtapose irregular sonic textures.
again, FULL OF HELL is beyond brutal but there is a sense of composition and serious intent just below the surface. most definitely worth checking out.
photo & text by nacrowe
originally a collaborative effort with her then-spouse, AESOP ROCK, DIRTY GHOST is essentially for all intents and purposes the NEW WAVE / POST PUNK influenced solo work of SAN FRANCISCO songwriter ALLYSON BAKER.
personally i just find the brashness of their music fun and intoxicating. to my ears it is just no-nonsense ROCK AND ROLL in the tradition of some of my favorite all time bands from DEVO to THE STRANGLERS.
definitely worth checking out.
POM POM SQUAD is a fierce BROOKLYN INDIE ROCK band and the creative outlet of main songwriter and ORLANDO transplant MIA BERRIN. we were fortunate enough to cross paths at the QUEENS venue TRANS-PECOS a few years back where we filmed them for our OFF THE M live performance series. there is a very real pathos to her songwriting and performances which coupled with the damaged cheerleader imagery presents a femininity that is both intensely vulnerable and fiercely independent. i would put them in the tradition of challenging ALTERNATIVE ROCK / RIOT GRRRL / PUNK ROCK acts like THE BREEDERS, L7, THE KILLS, DUM DUM GIRLS, HOLE, JOAN JETT and especially BIKINI KILL.
during the pandemic BERRIN was featured in a WASHINGTON POST article (linked HERE) and recently they have signed to the GERMAN independent label CITY SLANG and are set to release their third release DEATH OF A CHEERLEADER next month. it so cool to see them progress from afar. interesting to see where they go from here. definitely worth checking them out.
recently discovered this LONDON-based group LOS BITCHOS that specializes in CUMBIA of all things. their instrumentals are super-catchy and infectious and seem to be a genuine celebration of the genre rather than some well-intentioned but crass cultural appropriation that (let's face it) has been the case too often in the past by other artists (cough, cough, PAUL SIMON).
members range from SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, URUGUAY and ENGLAND which makes this a multi-cultural affair. totally recommend you check out their infectious grooves and enchanting guitar melodies. well worth it.
NAILS is BRUTAL. unrelentingly BRUTAL.
i was watching an interview with (now sole remaining original member) frontman TODD JAMES the other day and he was making plain his band's mission of conveying one emotion: ANGER.
no bullshit, NAILS is one of the most sonically punishing GRINDCORE / DEATH METAL bands ive come across in years. out of OXNARD of all places. no nuance or subtlety, no fat left on the bone, just uncompromising METAL carnage.
check them out. youre welcome.
CHICANO BATMAN is an eclectic INDIE ROCK outfit out of LOS ANGELES that has a real killer feel-good, laid-back vibe, almost like an after hours lounge band with killer FUNK / R&B chops and deft LATIN JAZZ percussion. the more i listen to them, the more i can suss out their affinity for 60s PSYCHEDELIA, POWER POP, PROG ROCK and all things CLASSIC ROCK with a distinctively diverse ANGELEÑO edge.
to my ears they sound totally original with a relaxing ambience that makes them the perfect antidote for the comedown from an energetic night out.
definitely worth checking out.
JOSH FREESE is renowned as a studio musician of the first order having recorded and/or toured with the likes of everyone from A PERFECT CIRCLE, STING, NINE INCH NAILS, PARAMORE, THE REPLACEMENTS, WEEZER and GUNS N ROSES to BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. and that credits list literally goes on. and on. but id argue that primarily he is known as the longstanding drummer of both the LOS ANGELES PUNK ROCK band THE VANDALS and the legendary NEW WAVE band DEVO.
less known or celebrated are his solo records and the one-off songs hes done over the past few years. they are often very brief, super catchy and hilarious. they are also normally off-the-cuff affairs with an almost FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE-esque POWER POP sense of melodicism and pop construction that seem designed to primarily embarrass his friends or make an ass of himself.
FREESE is an uber-talented musician that is literally capable of anything. i just love the fact that when he chooses to write and release his own material that it literally has nothing to do with his day job in tone or demeanor. definitely an artist worth checking out.
i recently came across the BRITISH POST-PUNK / INDIE ROCK band SHOPPING and have come to appreciate not only their angular riffs and infectious circular melodies, but also their quirky and highly original videos.
to my ears their sound seems to split the difference between GANG OF FOUR and TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB. its also a pleasure to hear and ENGLISH band that does not shy away from their native accents. too often that is the case, which is a curious phenomena dating back to THE BEATLES.
anyway, great band definitely worth checking out.
maybe it comes from them being CANADIAN and not taking themselves too seriously, but HARDCORE PUNK band CANCER BATS to my ears seem to enjoy themselves. there is a real sense of abandon and dare i say it, fun, in their music, which is not often the case with bands that skirt genres such as METALCORE, POST-HARDCORE or even SLUDGE METAL as they do. i always wanted to see them play because they just come off like an inclusive bunch while absolutely melting your face off with prime intense METAL riffage.
that and they are unafraid to acknowledge their influences. case in point their alter-egos BAT SABBATH who tour, record and perform straight BLACK SABBATH covers that basically draws the through line between the iconic METAL band and PUNK ROCK.
cool band well worth checking out.
sometimes you come across something that feels like both an extension and an innovation from what youve heard before. MDOU MOCTAR plays a hypnotically, percussive style of electric guitar that is deeply rooted in the TUAREG culture of his native NIGER. to my ears it sounds reminiscent of music i heard when living in KUWAIT and traveling throughout the MIDDLE EAST and parts of NORTH AFRICA. i dont know if it is the scales being used or the rhtyms, but MDOU MOCTAR inexplicably has somehow melded his ethnic music traditions with what could pass for INDIE ROCK. it is quite striking.
its interesting and entirely original and i invite anyone and everyone to check out the music MDOU MOCTAR.
i was recently listening to an episode of THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC and this song "WAVES OF DEVOTION" immediately caught my attention.
i learned it was by the modern FRENCH music producer and recording artist RONE and the more i investigated his work the more i discovered a discography of consistently delicate, catchy and incredibly inventive sonic textures and melody lines.
this is the type of artist i am constantly seeking to unearth. so definitely check out the incredible solo and collaborative work of RONE.
anything SHOEGAZE or DREAM POP, especially when it is well-constructed and executed, hits me right in the sweet spot. whether it is LUSH, NO JOY, SLOWDIVE, JAPANESE BREAKFAST, MY BLOODY VALENTINE or BEACH HOUSE, i enjoy discovering bands that make ethereal, impressionistic, guitar-based music that use feedback as a means of washing over and smothering you to blissful oblivion. that is a sonic experience i am always game for.
i cam across TORONTO's TALLIES recently and i could not be more taken by their intoxicating jangly yet echo-and-reverb-drenched sound. and then there is that voice. guitarist and vocalist SARAH COGAN is someone to look out for in the future.
great promising young band well worth checking out.
i have to say i was a bit late to the game with SOLANGE.
and im not gonna lie, her obvious association with her famous sister probably influenced my overlooking her career in general. but recently i came across her excellent recent two albums WHEN I GET HOME (COLUMBIA, 2019) and A SEAT AT THE TABLE (COLUMBIA, 2016) which have me convinced that she is this generation's FUNK / NEO-SOUL by way of HIP HOP interpretation of the likes of ERYKAH BADU, NINA SIMONE, JILL SCOTT and MARY J BLIGE.
her music feels fresh, adventurous and progressive while maintaining a sense of rootedness in the best threads of traditional R&B. im definitely on the lookout now for what she does moving forward.
POTTY MOUTH is just punchy powerful POP PUNK perfection.
i'm a sucker for great melodies and this WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS band delivers. almost a send back to the 90s heyday of the genre or better yet this is straight up CHEAP TRICK. forget 90s POP PUNK, this is almost 1970s POWER POP.
most definitely worth checking out regardless of the recent lineup change. and im a little biased since i spent countless hours in NORTHAMPTON (where they hail from) checking out record stores way back in high school.
my ongoing gripe with INDIE ROCK in general is its interiority and self-containment. it always felt low-stakes sonically as well as conceptually. seemed like people were reusing and reordering the same toys in the sandbox over and over again afraid of what their peers might think if they attempted something with a sense of risk or, dare i say it, ambition.
this is not the case with AUSTRALIA's EMPIRE OF THE SUN, a collaboration between LUKE STEELE (THE SLEEPY JACKSON) and NICK LITTLEMORE (PNAU) which on the face of it seems to be in danger of falling on its face with their gimmicky easter-influenced garb and iconography and over the top baroque artwork.
but it doesnt. the hooks are there and its kitschy without being lame in the least. in fact, it almost dares you to mock it because of its ambition. if you fall into that trap then the joke is on you for being a superficial moron.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN is an example of having ambition without pretension. definitely worth check out.
i know that JOHNNY MARR is an internationally beloved INDIE ROCK "god-like genius" whose work with THE SMITHS has made him an icon to millions. he has likewise also experienced an amazing career as a journeyman collaborator who has performed and recorded with everyone from THE THE, BERNARD SUMNER (of NEW ORDER), KIRSTY MACCOLL, OASIS, MODEST MOUSE, THE TALKING HEADS, BRYAN FERRY, THE CRIBS, JOHN FRUSCIANTE, THE PRETENDERS to even the noted film composer HANS ZIMMER.
i think what gets lost in that extended discography is the creative streak he has been on with his solo career for the past decade. if you havent done so already, definitely check out and investigate the man's solo work. then again we are talking about JOHNNY MARR here, it was already ordained to be great.
can't believe this actually happened but THANK YOU so much to JOHNNY MARR for reposting us on twitter. it is definitely the coolest thing ever and we appreciate it.
there has been a number of bands over the years that have been influenced by the sonic minimalism of THE WHITE STRIPES and the two person setup they popularized. i'm not saying they invented that format, but there is no doubt that other artists like DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, THE BLACK KEYS and ROYAL BLOOD definitely took notice.
ROYAL BLOOD to my ears sound like a more polished version of the aforementioned (and previously profiled HERE) DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 with a similar BASS/DRUM/VOICE triumvirate of sonic assault as opposed to the GUITAR/DRUM/VOICE of THE WHITE STRIPES and THE BLACK KEYS.
who knew a bass guitar with an octave pedal and cave man drumming sounded so HUUUUUUGE. definitely worth checking out.
if there is one thing i love its musicians that bring the FUNK. for whatever reason this hasn't been a big concern in music outside of HIP HOP and DANCE music for a long time. i don't get it. maybe artists think that somehow making your rhythms sonically adventurous and unpredictable and, you know, fun to listen to makes them less serious? again i don't get it.
but thank god there is CHROMEO, a CANANDIAN duo who are not afraid to bring the FUNK in all its variations during its 70s and 80s heyday. not that they are retro or looking back to recapture a moment. to my ears they sound like right now, or at least a sound that should be mimicked moving forward.
great hooks, great songs, great production. cannot push this band any harder. definitely check them out.
i always love discovering bands like SAN FRANCISCO's GET DEAD. hats off to FAT MIKE at FAT WRECK CHORDS for signing and promoting bands like this. yes they sound reminiscent of THE CLASH and RANCID at their most REGGAE and DANCEHALL-influenced peak, but along with that melodicism is a great voice in that of frontman SAM KING who sounds like he is gargling razor blades as he skanks.
i really appreciate that dynamic. their music is definitely funky and well-crafted yet powerful and confrontational. definitely worth checking out.