Julie Christmas

December 28, 2011

I love juxtapositions and if you ever toyed with the idea of what Bjork fronting Queens of the Stone Age would sound like you should definitely listen to Julie Christmas debut album The Bad Wife! Released in November on Rising Pulse Records, the album is her first solo effort (she handles vocals in Made Out Of Babies) and offers up nine tracks co-written with members from Candiria, Victory at Sea and Tony Maimone.

Basically a very original take on stoner rock, the music is at times lush and other just pure brutality with a nice experimental edge to it. There’s a great contrast between Julie’s sometimes pixie-like vocal sweetness and the sheer heaviness of the music itself that’s just awesome! Bringing to mind Josh Homme‘s more quirky musical endeavors – if you’re into the Desert Sessions series you’ll love this – I was pretty blown away by this album and highly recommend it. Available on iTunes, CD and vinyl too!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://juliechristmas.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.myspace.com/juliechristmas

Cynarae

December 28, 2011

More outfits that blurs the hardcore/grindcore line (with hints of Black Metal) is Portland noisemakers Cynarae. Not as high-speed as recently reviewed Heartless, their self-titled debut EP offers up six intense tracks of aural violence with growling vocals and nice tempo shifts, sometimes bordering on sludge.

With influences ranging from His Hero Is Gone to Joy Division (!!!), the band actually reminds me a bit of Swedish death metal band Grave. The recording is tight with nice, punchy production and should be interesting for fans of extreme metal. The EP is also available on a limited edition cassette.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://cynarae.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/cynaraekittenmachine

For those wanting a bit garagey flavor to their roots rock, Canadian artist Buddy McNeil and his Magic Mirrors got two albums, one EP and one digital track’s worth available on their Bandcamp. Their recent full length Introducing Once Again… takes classic Americana roots, injects it with some healthy late sixties/early seventies Rolling Stones and adds a (at times) very Hives-sounding vocals on the thirteen tracks offered.

At times a bit too clean-sounding for my tastes, the band still has a firm grip on classic American rock with some smooth ballads, nice rave-ups and a couple more country-flavored tracks thrown in for variety. Buddy himself has a nice screaming style to his vocal delivery and their fluid material is sure to have something for everyone.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://buddymcneilandthemagicmirrors.bandcamp.com/
Website: N/A

Psychic Teens

December 27, 2011

For a healthy dose of noisy, goth influenced punk/sludge check out The Psychic Teens debut EP Teen. Bringing to mind classic 90’s noise rock outfits like Helios Creed, the band harkens back to old 80’s goth rock and offers some nice punk energy to the doom and gloom, giving it a nice energetic vibe I usually miss in the genre.

Sparse production (actually I thought they lacked the sea-of-reverb that was common back in the days), nice monotone quality to the vocals and the occasional noise outbreak makes these guys stand out nicely compared to other outfits in the genre. Released on vinyl as well there’s two rough-mix songs available as a free download!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://psychicteensnetwork.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/psychicteensnetwork

Cellophane Folks

December 27, 2011

Chilean five-piece Cellophane Folks offers up something I’d like to call “garage indie” on their debut EP Late Nite Show. Nine tracks blending the sort of modern stylings of The Strokes with some Weezer pop sensibilities (especially fifth track Bermuda’s Triangle that reminds me of the latter’s Say It Ain’t So), they have a definite UK indie feel and remind me of a more laid back Jacob’s Mouse.

Nice hooks, occasional noise, some cool post-punk dance floor rhytms and good lo-fi production, check ’em out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://cellophanefolks.bandcamp.com/
Websitehttp://www.facebook.com/cellophanefolksmusic

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

December 27, 2011

For a true slice of unique music I can highly recommend pan-Asian project Yamantaka // Sonic Titan‘s debut album YT//ST. Downright impossible to label, the band is a collective formed by performance artists alaska B and Ruby Kato Attwood mixing up tons of influences in order to create what they themselves call Noh-Wave operas.

A blend of stoner, electronica, industrial noise and Chinese folk music, I was blown away by this outfit’s sheer creativity and even though it certainly won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, just give ’em a listen and discover something truly out there!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://yamantakasonictitan.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.ytstlabs.com/

Gross Magic

December 27, 2011

For a blend of UK indie, grungy US pop and a slight Bowie-influence, make sure you check out the Teen Jamz EP from British outfit Gross Magic. Sweet, lush new wave-ish melodies served up somewhat lo-fi with nice, grungy guitars and soothing vocals.

Perfectly underproduced sort of minimalistic yet catchy pop that manages to combine hooks with non-fomulaic music. Also available as a 12″ EP on Sounds Of Sweet Nothing.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thesoundsofsweetnothing.bandcamp.com/album/teen-jamz-ep
Website: http://www.myspace.com/grossmagic

Angry Snowmans

December 22, 2011

Well, ’tis the season as they say and Canadian punkers The Angry Snowmans offers up not only one, but two releases of X-Mas spirit with their self-titled debut album and follow-up What We Do Is Festive. According to their own bio, the band is made up of “disgruntled, displaced Elves of the North Pole who are telling the world about Santa’s abusive practices” by covering classic punk/hardcore “hits” from the Old School days.

Absolutely nothing new – UK pop punks The Boys did the same thing under the Yobs moniker almost 30 years ago – it’s well executed with nice production (some of the songs having way better sound than the originals) and pretty funny to hear as an old punker ’cause you get everything from The Adolescents Kids of the Black Hole and Black Flag‘s Six Pack (“Egg Nog”!!!) to Angry Samoans Lights Out and The Germs What We Do Is Secret. Fun and nostalgic (although I personally missed Out There by F-Word).

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://angrysnowmans.bandcamp.com/
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angry-Snowmans/156536597705132

Strawberry Heritage

December 22, 2011

Just like all the studio magic in the world can’t turn awful music into hits (well, it used to be that way), no amount of tape hiss or lack of decent recording equipment can take away the impact of great songwriting. Grand Rapids trio Strawberry Heritage is a perfect example with their seven track EP The Demo Tapes that might actually have gained from it. A sort of low-key mix of indie and heartfelt folk music performed with guitar, banjo, percussion and some occasional violin it was presumably recorded live, giving it a homey, honest feel that’s really endearing and makes you focus on the songs themselves.

Totally unproduced you still get treated to some really nice music with hooks and a down-to-earth quality that suits them perfectly. Available as a free download you should definitely check these guys out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://strawberryheritage.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Strawberry-Heritage/323347821015080

Kurt Baker

December 21, 2011

For a slice of classic US powerpop sounds make sure you check out Kurt Baker‘s latest release Rockin’ For a Living. A former member of The Leftovers, Kurt started a solo career in 2010 emulating the sound of 80’s greats like The Romantics, Paul Collins Beat and The Knack – gaining favorable press in the process. With crispy clear production and great instrumentation, the EP offers up six tracks so perfectly executed you’d swear you’re listening to a lost 12″ EP from the 80’s.

We’re talking loud Rickenbackers, genial simplicity and tons of (retro) charm. Hailed by everybody from Ben Weasel to Larry Livermore of Lookout Records, the album is packed with hooks, nice sing-alongs and leaves you wanting more. If Hollywood decides to do a remake of Valley Girl this guy should handle the soundtrack.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://kurtbaker.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://kurtbakermusic.com/