There is an interesting background level of darkness I’ve been noticing increasing in music the past several months. While most of these bands are latching onto the tried and true tropes of the Peter Murphy voice, a ripping off later day Cure riffs — Steph Sweet has brought an interesting and new sound to this area.
With powerful vocals, and swirlly and crunchy guitar riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in a late 90’s britpop, yet grounded somewhere more in the early 80’s. “All The Things” is dark, broody, a little strange, but also interestingly an ear worm that will grab you and not let go.
Rebecca Lou’s “Take Ur Time” is one of those interesting songs that picks and choses little bits and pieces from all over the history of rock, and puts together something new.
From the vocals that remind me of an underground 80’s rock song, to the fuzzed out guitars of mid-90’s alternative rock. The song is a hodge podge of all these interesting tried and true sounds, but it never comes off as something that is slapped togther without ryhme or reason.
Solid hooks, great production and an extremely tight band “Take Ur Time” feels like the start of something interesting.
CATSIGNS’ blissful version of psych-pop is infectious and sunny, without slipping into overwrought cliche. Typically drug songs can really start veering towards the later, as bands think that they’re being more clever than they are.
However, “Smokin The Clouds” is right up front with the subject matter, and decide to focus on the quality of musicianship rather than the tittering appeal of how some will react to the lyrics.
Between the woodwinds and the guitar tone, I can’t really think of another song that has come around recently that has this authentic feel of the ’60s without feeling like aped pastiche.
With a great riff and clever lyrics, Glamper’s “Life Finds a Way” lives in an interesting world between a tongue in cheek send-up and a sincere tribute to everybody’s favorite Spielberg dinosaur movie Jurassic Park.
A fuzzy catchy track, that has definate earworm posiblities. The band isn’t short on interesting physical formats either. Avaliable soon through their BandCamp page they’re releasing a 8” lathe vinyl with a real amber-trapped mosquito inside.
Rule #1 when doing a cover, don’t cover the Beatles. It’s just too hard to mess up, and there’s already so many of them out there that they’ll get lost in the mix. However, if you do have an interesting take on a song in their massive hits catalog, it’s a worthy gamble.
Deal Casino did just that with their cover of “Dear Prudence”. Their fuzzy minimalist take on this out and out classic does justice to the original while putting their own mark on it. What else can be said than pulling off a successful Beatles cover? Check it out.
Lauran Hibberd’s “Hoochie” is sweet and crunchy and going to be caught in your head the second you hear the opening chords for at least the next few weeks. In a world of a serious lack of emotionally honest feeling pop rock songs, “Hoochie” is a stand out track.
I’ve been down a small rabbit hole of listening to her music on YouTube and the hype surrounding her is well earned and deserved.
There’s a fine line that a band takes when covering a song, trying to stay true to the original while bringing something new to the table so it doesn’t sound redundant. This is a very hard line to stay on, especially when covering someone as iconic as Warren Zevon, but The Pretty Flowers have some how even made the song sound somewhat their own.
Coming off their new album covers Golden Beat Sessions this take on Warren’s song, puts the rest of the album high up on my radar of things to check out, and I highly recommend you do the same.
Back to Pop Occulture are the UK’s FALSE HEADS and like their previous efforts, this is a buzzy poppy alternative rock song with a solid foundation in the roots of rock. As I said in my previous reporting on the band, if you have Iggy Pop singing your praise, you definately can’t be doing too many things wrong.
Their new song / video “Slease” is a growling and energitic stomp that is catchy enough to grab attention while the song itself is well crafted and produced to the point where it really delivers the goods.
Self described as a combination of the psych sound of the bay area with the sounds of New Order, isn’t very far off the mark of this interesting gem that got sent to me the other day. Very well produced, accessible but haunted this is one of htose weird songs that addapts itself to the mood that you’re already in rather than the other way around.
If the Breeders had been 10% more into shoegazer, Blushing’s “Dream Merchants” would have sounded right at home on Pod EP, the song is full of shimmering hazy melodies that will worm there way into your head without feeling either too pop or too abstract.
From digging around on their Bandcamp page it looks like they have already amassed a small body of work, something I’m excited as we all must be to check out what else the band has put out.
Miami’s Glass Body has a very unique sound that I can’t quite put my finger on — with riffs straight out of the Black Sabbath songbook, the song is heavy, but not brutal — with vocals that sound like they’re coming from a different dimension, in all the best possible ways. It’s a unique and “out there” while still remaining somehow catchy throughout.
I haven’t had enough time to really sit with the release that this came off of. The somehow rightfully entitled “Apathy” Though it’s currently on their Bandcamp. I’ve given it a couple of spins and it’s definitely something that will make you wonder where the hell it came from, but not before making you wonder where it’s been all your life. Highly recomended.
Did you ever wonder what Jay Reatard would have sounded like if he wasn’t so depressed all the time? Well wonder no longer, because that’s the exact impression that Bee Bee Sea’s “Be Bop Palooza” gives me upon the first note of the first time that I listened.
High energy and rock solid hooks, “Be Bop Palooza” is infectioius and will be stuck in your head for days, but it’s something that you should be happy about. They don’t make songs like this anymore. Well, I guess B.B.S. did, so I’m wrong there, but go and listen to this.
Honestly, this is one of the weirdest submissions that I’ve ever gotten — simply because when I got it the band’s bio was their Wikipedia article. Which should be a little bit of a hint that the band already has a bit of notoriety. The first time I heard The Starfires “I Never Loved Her” was collected on an mp3 compilation of dark garage rock songs from the 50’s and 60’s, though now it’s been collected in this new Pebbles comp which features some really great tracks. The Starfires are one of those bands that will always make you wonder what they could have accomplished if they got more attention in their time. Though the artifacts that they left behind are well worth celebrating.
If there’s two things that I’m a sucker for it’s haunting vocals, and Daniel Johnston. So this is one of those “you got your peanut butter in my chocolate” Recese commercial moments that is just the perfect storm of things that can really appeal to me as a listener.
Backed by another Johnston cover, Haunted Summer has released a great single that would appeal to even non-fans. Definitely worth the listen. Check it out.
The Exbats have been on my radar for a while, they’re one of those bands who’s infectious energy just pulls you in from the first chord of the song until it throws you back out into the real world just a few moments later.
Feeling slightly more 77 British punk influenced than a lot of their other work, “2027” is one of those raw tracks that will be caught in your head for the next several months after listening to it. Their new album on Burger is something that will demand to be listened to.
Not the typical sound that we cover here at Pop Occulture, but over the years I’ve held tight to one simple philosophy. If you don’t like Mississippi John Hurt, I don’t like you.
Done in a style recommencement of musicians like early Bob Dylan or William Elliot Whitmore, Niel Brooks’s take on the classic Mississippi John Hurt song “The Angels Laid Him Away/Lous Collins” is organic and honest in a way that gives the song an air of authenticity that is refreshing. Even if the song is one of the world’s most famous murder ballads.
It seems like northern Europe has been spawning a lot of my new favorite music for the past several years. It’s an area that didn’t really pique my interest until now, but it’s becoming a hot bed of some great new music.
Energetic and savage The Healthy People’s new song “Animals” calls back to an early erratic punk sound that could have been an early X single. With a mountain of raw attitude, it’s that will help you get through this long cold winter.
Brooklyn, NY, QWAM’s new “Mail” is an energetic anthem about next to nothing. The song is a mall-pop anthem on antihistamines, I can’t underestimate how much of an earworm this song is, and the fact that I’m running around singing about how my brand new shoes aren’t fitting is a little embarrassing, but it’s well worth the public embarrassment when people catch me singing it.
Somewhere between the fuzzy pop of Buzzocks and the sonic perfectionism of The Killers, Rock Europa’s “People in my Head” is a frenetic blast of pop punk that feels both timely and a vintage slab coming from any of the last 40 years.
If you’re looking for possibly one of the most fun songs I’ve heard in quite sometime this is deinately the track that you should be checking out!
The song title itself kinds of shows off the dichotomy of the song itself, going from gentle to brash with an interesting vocal interplay that never lets the song go stagnate.
In a world where nice little buzzy pop-tunes are becoming more regular, it’s good to hear a song in this vein that has interesting lyrics with a dark playful nature that feels a little more out there than many of the other bands out there.
Closeness is a project by to alumni of the mid-west high-water mark of greatness Saddle Creek Records, while I have written about this song in particular before, I just wanted to write about it agian as there is now a video to go along with what can only be called one of the most interesting and a band with the greatest potential of any band in the mid-west today.
And all this coming from a reviewer who actually paid for a copy of the album.
Previous post on this song.
In the run of this blog, there have been very few times where I have featured bands that many would consider more in the electronic field. Not because I don’t enjoy it, and not just because I try to focus on genres that aren’t typically covered by a lot of the other blogs out there. The truth is that I also get a perverse satisfaction in breaking the form from time to time, so that the few people who would notice such things would know it’s got to be something that is above and beyond a lot of what is out there today.
One such electronically orientated artist that I have previously featured the band The Faint, a band that has been one of the most defining bands not only of the mid-west, but also of the early 2000’s in general. Along with their early label Saddle Creek and then label mates Azure Ray, it’s hard to tell what the state of independent music would be in America today.
Bringing together the husband and wife duo Orenda and Todd Fink CLOSENESS is their first collaboration together since their marriage. The EP a synthesis of all that the electronic and noise underground has to offer in a cohesive if not catchy and tuneful matter. Harkening back to a lot of the great experimental bands from the post-punk era. (Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, or more recently The Knife to name a few.) Definitely worth checking out from Graveface Records.
Heartthrob Chassis has a slow churning, swirling sound that is both tough and in your face as well as withdrawn into it’s own sonic space that is both unique but completely relatable. It’s drone and thud sound hinting at a long lineage in underground music.
Fronted by Margaret Doll Rod formerly of Demolition Doll Rods, this is definitely going to be a band to keep an eye out for.
Somewhere between the high emotionalism of PJ Harvey and the slow throb of The Velvet Underground comes the pulse of Dish Pit “Family Man”. A slow churning, heavily distorted song that you can’t help yourself but be drawn into it’s weird mystery.
The song has a disconnected swagger that you can’t quite put your finger on that is both refreshing and rooted in a timeless sound that’s undeniable.
What do you get when you combine The Death Valley Girls, Iggy Pop, Troma alum Kansas Bowling behind the director’s chair and an homage to Andy Warhol?
My favorite video in years. Now I wish that I could say that I read all these little bits of information off of their press release for the video, but no. I believe that this video was made just for me, because it captures the complete randomness of the things that I am interested in — and you should be too.
I can’t say a bad thing about any element going on here, especially the song. Gritty and haunting “Disaster (Is What We’re After)” might be the best song that I’ve ever heard from the band, possibly ever. If you haven’t heard the Death Valley Girls before, what the hell are you doing reading my ramblings here? Press play!
After that go buy every Death Valley Girls album, once you’ve done that — go buy Kansas’ BC Butcher, and if you don’t own at least 50% of Iggy’s discography you’re dead to me anyways.
Mirah is one of those musicians that will always have such a special place in the panthion of musicians that I enjoy, that it would be almost unfair of me not to say something about her new release “Understanding”. The new album is a perfect album for fans both old and new.
The track that really strikes me is “Lighthouse” who’s lo-fi drum machine sound recalls sounds dating as far back as her first releases for K back in the early 2000’s. The album is definately a little bit of everything that is way more than I can unpack without it becoming a tedious treatise about how great Mirah still is after all these years. When what you really should be doing is listening to it, rather than me.
Sharkmuffin’s “Liz Taylor” is a smartly written song with witty lyrics that you could put haeds to heads with nearly any band and it would come out on top. All this dones’t really matter however, because it’s just a damn good song.
Catchy and possibly one of the tightest performances that I’ve heard in a while, “Liz Taylor” has both a nice snarl and great pop hooks. This track is coming off their latest reissue, Tsuki. Tsuki I’d hightly suggest that all of us track it down and give this one a spin.