i havent attempted to hide my contempt on this platform for all things SACRAMENTO. having lived in that area for my senior year of high school i was convinced that nothing relevant ever came out of there with one exception: DEFTONES. that changed over the years to include both CHELSEA WOLFE and DEATH GRIPS.
DEATH GRIPS when they came out roughly 10 years ago had that whole HARDCORE, DIY ethic and a sound that split the difference between grating INDUSTRIAL production with dissonant layered distorted guitars and an almost post-modern, unpredictably kinetic HIP HOP sense of production.
to my ears it seemed like they took the most abrasive sounds out of all those traditions and cooked them up into an uncomfortable, unfolding concoction that was absolutely abrasive yet, strangely, entirely listenable.
probably the most revolutionary rock(?) band in terms of sonics of the last ten years. like next level RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.
definitely check them out. but stay please stay away from SACRAMENTO. redneck country.
this legendary INDIE band that came together in the wake of another iconic proto-DEATH METAL band DEEP WOUND, definitely does not need any publicity or fanboy admiration from me, but that is exactly what I am going to give DINOSAUR JR.
in all honesty they came into my consciousness in the early 90s when i was in 4th grade, partly by their quasi-hit "Feel The Pain" that was on regular rotation on local station KROQ and partly by the accompanying grotesque shirt my dad got at BLACK HOLE RECORDS in nearby Fullerton that i still have. crazy.
but when i really got into them was later during my high school years when i was attending boarding school in WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, only a few cities north of Amherst where they are from. much like any other place i landed in, i pretty much sought out the local culture and all points led to vocalist/songwriter/guitarist J MASCIS.
what i love about their sound is the understated ferocity of it all. you really get the sense of how much J MASCIS just adores swimming in glorious feedback and barely contained dissonance, yet the songs are delicate, whimsical and melodic. i very much appreciated that dynamism and it makes perfect sense how such influenced later ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands. seeing them live, as well as J MASCIS solo/THE FOG shows, it is almost absurd how loud it all is. the only other band i can recall off-hand that was that loud was the almighty MOTÖRHEAD. for me, the sound of J MASCIS playing guitar or hearing his voice reminds me of brutal WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS winters and surviving algebra half a world away from my family. when i hear their music it reminds me of isolation and oddly, comfort.
i cannot recommend their work highly enough. check out DINOSAUR JR.
cover by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent secret, unannounced episode of DEER GOD RADIO that celebrated recording artists i've written about in the CHECK OUT THIS BAND section of the DEERBLOG over the past year. writing about music and exposing artists i admire is a passion of mine so this is a special episode for me. more to come!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
years ago in the mid-2000s when i was in college a classmate that was much much cooler than me had an extra ticket to see this TORONTO INDIE band i'd never heard of with an odd name, DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, play at the BOWERY BALLROOM.
when we got their and i saw the drum and amplifier setup my heart sank and my first thought was "shit, not another lame WHITE STRIPES clone" (cough, cough, i'm looking at you BLACK KEYS). man was i wrong. the bassist had this thick tone that sounded like multiple amps being pushed to their limits with what had to be an octave pedal set to the brown note. it was thick and gnarly and somehow the dude kept it the grooves tight and ultra-solid with the drums. the dummer just screamed his balls off. it was a great show and sadly they didn't release another album for 7 years, as this show was in support of their seminal YOU'RE A WOMAN, I'M A MACHINE release (LAST GANG, 2004).
i'm happy that they're back now and kicking ass. definitely suggest you check out their sound, even if they are CANADIAN.
what i love about the IRISH INDIE ROCK band TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB is their unmistakeable sense of melody, especially with their single guitar line motifs that lock in with syncopated drum patterns that are eerily reminiscent of AFROBEAT. it really makes for an infectiously danceable sound that is both intoxicating and wholly uplifting, even if some minor keys get thrown in the mix.
in my mind it is challenging to think of artists that are truly upbeat and positive yet not corny (NILE ROGERS, GEORGE CLINTON and DAFT PUNK come to mind immediately).
check them out and see what i mean.
i came across DEATH VALLEY GIRLS while reading HOLE drummer PATTY SCHEMEL's recent 2017 memoir HIT SO HARD (DA CAPO, 2017). the band consists of her brother LARRY on guitar.
anyway, its droning psychedelic garage rock that splits the different between STONER ROCK and 70s CLASSIC ROCK. so obviously it kicks ass. check them out.
photo manupulation by nacrowe
WEEZER gets a lot of love and deservedly so. RIVERS CUOMO is a talented (if trouble and inconsistent) songwriter and a generational talent.
but i always felt that MATT SHARP got overlooked. he was WEEZER's founding bassist whose falsetto was as much a part of the sound of those iconic first two records as CUOMO's nervous croon and his idiosyncratic lyrics celebrating KISS, SURFING and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
THE RENTALS was SHARP's side project that later turned into his main creative vehicle after later leaving WEEZER during their extended hiatus following PINKERTON (DGC, 1996).
their debut album, RETURN OF THE RENTALS (MAVERICK RECORDS, 1995) plays on the POWER POP-indebted sound that WEEZER mined to great effect, yet has a decidedly more droll, assured tone and demeanor. fun fact: MAYA RUDOLPH was a touring member for this album's tour cycle.
regardless, THE RENTALS are definitely worth checking out.
an atmospheric power-trio that absolutely crushes, MARRIAGES is made up of current members of RED SPAROWES and DRAB MAJESTY. to my ears they split the difference between the dynamism and baroque songcraft of A PERFECT CIRLCE with the scale and titanic ferocity of POST-METAL icons like ISIS and PELICAN.
deeply affecting and my hope for the future of aggressive rock-based music.
originally i was tipped off to second generation NIGERIAN/BRITISH rapper LIL SIMZ by none other than our house engineer LJ BEATS. recently i went back and revisited her stuff and was taken aback by how great her stuff is. great delivery, deft tempo shifts and a wicked sense of humor.
its always sick when you discovery a new voice and unique lyricist in HIP HOP, a genre where rappers are constantly aping one another. LIL SIMZ is the shit. check her music out.
GREG KURSTIN is one of those invisible musicians/producers that has enormous sway in the pop universe. its almost like not knowing who the FUNK BROTHERS are or THE WRECKING CREW were, yet they both undoubtedly shaped modern music arguably on par with THE BEATLES.
KURSTIN has worked with everyone from ADELE, SIA and BECK to HALSEY, FOO FIGHTERS, KENDRICK LAMAR, GWEN STEFANI and LILY ALLEN among many, many others. classically trained and a HARDCORE kid from back in the 80s, his range is basically endless. he basically takes whatever is there and just intensifies it, which is probably why he is responsible for most of his clients biggest hits. if i had to describe his production aesthetic without using the word invisible i'd probably say it was "orchestral" or "lush" in nature. listening to one of his productions is rewarding after many listens due to the fact that there are always little artifacts and easter egg-like little nuggets of sonic goodness. its perfect pop with lots of little chaotic bits thrown in for texture.
THE BIRD AND THE BEE is his longstanding, unabashedly INDIE POP passion project with singer and collaborator INARA GEORGE and they are well worth your time checking out. even their HALL & OATES cover album, seriously. your welcome.
i don't even know how to properly describe the work of FKA TWIGS. i'll try.
to my ears her music is an eclectic mix that splits the difference between TRICKY, BJÖRK and late-career RIHANNA. its catchy with electronic, TRIP HOP-esque flourishes but is entirely unique in its delivery and visual presentation. it is my belief that her and GRIMES are basically the most forwarding-thinking avant-garde artists, irregardless of gender, out right now in the pop world.
definitely worth checking out.
im an absolute sucker for a great pop hook.
i was reminded the other day of piano-based songwriter ANDREW MCMAHON and specifically his work in SOMETHING CORPORATE and JACK'S MANNEQUIN from the early 2000s and i was taken back again by how expertly crafted those songs were. great melodies, sharp (sometimes caustic) lyrics, interesting textures and soaring choruses that payoff lyrically and sonically. the dude definitely has a way with a pop hook.
not really sure why he didnt blow up bigger than he did since id argue he far outshone whatever POP PUNK was doing at the time. if anything, he is the millennial version of ELTON JOHN.
do yourself a favor and check out the numerous projects MCMAHON has done over the years.
MORNINGWOOD are one of those bands that i never understood why they didn't blow up bigger and have more success than they did. led by mercurial singer-songwriter CHANTEL CLARET, who has gone on to do great solo work as well as collaborate in EURINGER with husband JIMMY EURINGER of MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE fame, they had a sound indebted to both 70s POWER POP and classic BRITISH INVASION song-craft.
i remember being aware of them in the early 00s when lots of similar bands such as THE GOSSIP where gaining attention, but i thought MORNINGWOOD stood above the ROCK REVIVAL pack for their humor and way with a hook.
definitely check them out.
cover by nacrowe
when i was in VENEZUELA i came across CHILEAN SYNTHPOP singer JAVIERA MENA and her soothing brand of INDIE POP that probably lies somewhere on the spectrum between the sonic experimentalism of LYKKE LI and the brash immediacy of CHARLI XCX.
her earlier material is more acoustic driven in the style of early SHAKIRA, but worth seeking out as well. she has a new LP coming up soon so look out for that and check out her music below.
brooklyn R&B/FUNK trio THE VISIONS go way back with DEER GOD. back to the days of the former [the end] studio in greenpoint where they were recorded and mixed by our engineers.
they definitely have a sound that channels classic PRINCE with their lilting falsettos and supporting harmonies that really set a chill vibe. all while keep the groove as a live ensemble on their instruments. they are quite the live band and having witnessed their labor intensive recording process firsthand i can attest that they work very hard to produce harmonies this easy on the ears.
recently they put out a new single "ONLY ONE" which you should definitely check out below or hit up their BANDCAMP for further info.