In my personal opinion, music started to get rather interesting when it entered the 70’s. Especially if you were playing under the banner of rock ‘n’ roll, which underwent such a transformation and much selective breeding in this time period, the offspring started to become indistinguishable from its ancestors. Many artists and bands from the ages have carved their faces into the course of history, some arguably more noticeable than others. Fast forward to present day, when St. Louis supergroup Tilts manufacture a good time rock ‘n’ roll crash course, borrowing (and not mention poking fun at some of their song titles) from some of the greatest to play the game. ZZ Top, Van Halen, Kiss. Only but to name a few. But somewhere along the line, this group got sidetracked in California and had a party with the stoner rock crew of Palm Desert. The end result is a tremendously fun, extraordinarily well-realised straight up rock album. Give Me All Of Your Loving (a rib on ZZ Top) is a riff-fuelled, groove-piloted vehicle travelling at speed with ass-kicking guitar heroism and enough swagger to make any man butt heads with the devil himself. Any person with an appreciation of rock ‘n’ roll or guitar music will find so much to enjoy from this talented bunch, and their 2012 self-titled debut is one of the most thrilling and complete albums you’ll likely hear for a good while.
Tilts’ debut and last year’s Cuatro Hombres can either be purchased in a digital format or as very limited edition vinyl, with stock levels running low, on their Bandcamp page for a fair asking price.
Crossover at times seems to be somewhat of a dirty word, only because bands can often transcend genres so much, that there simply isn’t a label or category to pigeonhole them into. No actual scientific research has gone into this, but it roughly gathers pace, and quietens down again shortly afterwards around the start of every decade. Not to say that some others don’t brew under the surface in between, but they seem rather few and far between. In the eyes of Colombus, Ohio’s Flesh Field however, their magnum opus came at the time Celldweller announced himself to the world and many an impressionable teenager with an internet connection (not to discredit his influence whatsoever, I am a big fan of his work for definite). Whereas Klayton can mask incredibly infectious pop songs in an electro-industrial facade, Flesh Field made a harsher, harder-edged discography for the darker side of the dancefloor. Smashing together an industrial attitude and a gothic aesthetic, with dark electro, sharpened metal guitar and pounding EBM, 2004’s Strain is a sprawling underground epic that sinks its talons deep and smothers listeners with a sinister embrace. The Collapse is excellence in its execution, the siren’s call elevating this stomper far beyond the realm of any shadow-shrouded industrial before it.
2004’s Strain is the only album available for purchase albeit rarely physically, but readily digitally. For any other of Flesh Field’s older material, you may need to do a little digging, but it exists out there.
An old saying goes that you never really know how much you miss something until it’s gone. That seems to be the curious case of the retrowave explosion, a movement of electronica producers embracing the warm synth driven beats and hooks of the 1980’s. Oft caught somewhere between a night’s drive mixtape and the score to Tron, the meeting of old school production values and modern age music distribution has truly helped this scene to thrive and flourish. And it shows no signs of slowing, garnering more mainstream attention year on year. Onto Florida residents Bourgeoisie, two brothers near the frontline of the movement. Neon Black, perhaps one of their most well known efforts from their self-titled debut of 2012, is everything you could ever ask for in a faithful reconstruction of the 80’s sound. Though more cinematic in its scope, the classic Moog modular synthesizer sound is present, more refined a la digital technology but as powerful as it ever sounded. The three minutes you spend are woven lovingly with layers upon layers of glowing analogue, ranging from the bright, complicated hook to striking detuned pads to add authenticity to the visage made here. Bourgeoisie are just two of the hundreds of producers now out there, but they are among the apex of the scene’s brightest and best.
Their self-titled debut and 2013’s album Space Tapes And Vice, as well as a few odd singles, can purchased for a reasonable sum on the brothers’ Bandcamp page.
If somebody said to you the words Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf, what would your immediate reaction to these words be? In the eyes of one Dennis Wedin, half of the brains behind ultraviolent romp Hotline Miami, you get it tattooed on your arm, then you make a music video for it. Of course this is three years or so late to this party, but Dennis Wedin, as well as co-creator of video game Hotline Miami, is also the voice of Fucking Werewolf Asso, the Swedish group that his music video belongs to. Where to start? Imagine an acid trip filled with your favourite 8-bit Nintendo characters at a music festival, and watch them get murdered and disembowelled by demented punk rockers with axes. It happens in the blink of an eye, but if you can bare it, it becomes an entertaining horror show. There is a musicality for writing catchy pop tunes underneath all the bleeps, boops, abrasion and screaming, it just so happens to be so frantic and hell bent on shock factor that it occassionally gets lost in translation. They still go strong to this day, having released a new album this year, but they remain a Marmite experience. I happen to find them deliriously entertaining, others may call it electronic noise torture. Your call.
The tune in question, known as Keep Your Adresse To Yourself ‘Cause We Need Secrets, can be found on 2011’s album Nittiotremo, but is available as a free download on their Bandcamp. All their other recorded material including this year’s Why Do You Love Me Satan? can be found in the same place. And for your enjoyment, the music video is also an interactive game which you can download from here, or you can watch here. It’s a bit special.
Post rock, or post metal in whichever way you want to view this band’s music seems provoke three kinds of moods for me personally. A soundscape that aims to transcend space, a soundscape that plays with our emotions or a soundscape that represents some kind of darkness or doomsday scenario. A Swarm Of The Sun definitely falls into the latter category of these moods. The musical workload masterminded by two Swedish gentlemen, drags rock music kicking and screaming into a chasm, with a black sky onset. Characteristically of this genre, it’s appropriately grandiose, Refuge fitting its title of warning signs to come from the apocalypse. It sounds monumental, like the shifting between Earth’s tectonics. Little time is given to adjust to the scale of the guitar barrage that begins, and fills 2010 album Zenith’s running time, all the while with dulcet tones trying hush the oncoming threat. There are quieter moments, filled with the echoes of strings plucked, resonating beautifully, yet it still maintains that air of foreboding, skilfully executed by these two undeniably talented musicians. Darkness rarely sounds this alluring and judging by the quality of their two albums in an eight-year lifespan, it rarely receives this much adoration too.
2010’s Zenith, as well as this year’s The Rifts and 2007’s King Of Everything EP are all available from A Swarm Of The Sun’s Bandcamp page, all for a small fee.
There aren’t that many bands in the world that are named from a line in a Jim Carrey film (Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls if you didn’t know), and for that matter, there probably never will be. Not that Carrey isn’t great at writing memorable words and phrases, but you give him the task of making a band name out of his entire filmography, you can bet this wasn’t his first choice. Medway, UK based cacophonists Whitedevilwhitedevil nonetheless channel the same breed of likable insanity into brutal downtuned sludge fight anthems, downed in enough sound to burst river banks. Whilst their recorded material is scattered across the shallows of Bandcamp, every song brings urgency and brute force into a two pronged guitar attack, and drums while grainy and amplified far louder than they should, smash and clatter well with them. Sometimes, a slight edge of pedal experimentalism leaks into their work, but do seem to be blue-moon natured occurrences. Fight Milk, a shorter tune in their arsenal from the A New Low EP, lays down a power house performance of crushing guitar blasts whilst drums go hell for leather, orchestrating the sheer chaos that unfolds. Oh, don’t forget those shouts. Instigating violence at its finest. These three gentlemen have a lot to look forward to in the future.
As already divulged, Whitedevilwhitedevil have all their recorded output on Bandcamp, just not all in one location, but EPs, demos and even a collection of Christmas covers are all available for a small fee. A New Low can be found here.
Some of the best kinds of music ensnare you for a listening experience unlike any other. Pink Floyd. Mastodon. Ozric Tentacles, if you know of them, just to name a few. Minnesota’s Maeth take cues in what makes these three bands world class songwriters, yet are very much their own unique beast, with extra emphasis on the beast. What you’re getting is a progressive metal band that are unafraid to take their music above and beyond tired barriers. The entirety of 2012’s Horse Funeral EP is one song broken into five segments in which the title track here, goes on as much as a flight as the rest of the album. Starting in space almost, sludge mode engages for an impressive show of strength and a surprisingly catchy riff, colliding head on with excellent off-kilter drums. The soundscape is then hushed into a repetition of that riff, supported by a gentle touch of bass before an ethereal flute takes hold of the proceedings. See, progressive music doesn’t get that spiritual sounding nowadays, but these gentlemen can take it there or wherever they please, as their near-leagues below sea level depth is astounding. Maeth aren’t musicians, they’re dreamweavers. Whether that’s a psychedelic tour of space, or a terrifying avalanche solely to crush, they deserve to breach their cult status as one of progressive metal’s most exciting new bands.
The Horse Funeral EP was only the beginning. Please go check out their 2013 album Oceans Into Ashes on their Bandcamp, as it expands the groundwork covered here into a fully-fledged masterpiece.
Regardless of what you think of hardcore nowadays, it seems needless to say that it’s all rather angry and violent. So when you have bands that take a lighter approach, yet still maintain that exceptional intensity and that unwavering devotion and passion to the craft, it deserves the same spotlight as any other hardcore band before and after. Hitchin’s Arms & The Man, are very much in that bracket. While their repetoire boasted a blazing array of bruising hardcore throwdowns, with an impressive hard rock flair and showmanship, their lyrics, well tales, are far more tongue-in-cheek. I’ll openly admit, at a local music festival I attended around five years ago, one of my fondest memories of that festival was this five piece screaming the immortal words, ‘I punched a wolf in the face, mate.’ Four, five years later, that glorious phrase from signature track Wolfpuncher has emerged in recorded format for the world to hear. Hi-jinx aside, these guys were the real deal. Unflinching, uncompromising, and all with a grin in tow, Arms & The Man serves as a reminder that no matter how seriously you take pride in your work, you gotta step back and laugh sometimes.
Sad fact: These gentlemen split up on my birthday this year, 26th February. Your punching of wolves in the face lives on in my heart. For this song, and occasionally as silly song titles, head on over to their Bandcamp, where you can purchase a couple of EPs and singles they’ve released over the years.
There’s a trend of bands or groups taking vowels out of their names, the problem is, it’s getting harder to distinguish if they are words or abbreviations. My guess with this Belgian electronic duo, is I haven’t a clue. All I’m interested in is the blurring between the boundaries of 80’s synth-pop, industrial and some colder, darker electronic ambient compositions. Sadly, the group have split has of 2012 (I’ve had a real morbid obsession with dead or defunct bands recently, fuck), but their music could just as easily score a factory production line as it could an EBM club. Although their murky, gritty synths and basslines prowled the seedy underbelly of the latter 00’s and early 10’s, there’s a satisfying timelessness to the drum machines and keyboard arpeggios. Not to mention, whilst the vocals take upon a harsh tone, it’s not excessively aggressive nor drenched in unnecessary distortion, unlike so many of the genre’s stalwarts. There isn’t an abundance of their material around the internet, but People Like Gods from the 2009 album of the same title, emphasises that perfect reproduction of the synth-pop/cold wave sound, whilst bleeding through shades of that EBM club floorfiller personality that other songs personify better. A true underground gem, this pair of Belgian producers, although gone on to pastures new, had a winning formula on their hands, it just seems a shame it never gained greater exposure.
2009’s People Like Gods and 2011’s Hardlines are available at most select online retailers, in a noticeably expensive physical format or digital mp3.
Very few bands I’ve listened to make me ask the question: Are they an indie band, or a punk band? Or even a very loud pop band? Actually Beast Make Bomb are the only band that’ve made me ask those questions. Defunct as of three years ago, the two guys and two gals responsible for this dose of sugar-charged, punk-injected indie pop hailing from four different cities in the States, were an underground sensation. Much of their output revolved around a fuzz-saturated guitar freight train, that could compare with many of garage rock’s greats, but they could also pen killer pop melodies, and even sweet but never saccharine ballads to showcase their multi-faceted abilities. Rough It Out, from free-to-download EP Sourpuss, is an upbeat rocket about failing to confess your love that has pace, a contagious chorus and searing hot guitar work to boot in just three and a half minutes that will leaving you smiling ear-to-ear. Beast Make Bomb could turn the struggles of teen life into a wonderland of positivity, punctuated with unforgettable melodies and the world, for what they didn’t know about this band, is worse off without them.
Sourpuss, as well as numerous other EPs and songs can be found on their Bandcamp page, either for a small fee or for nothing at all.