Modern Love: Early Hives Meets Iceage Meets Norwegian Lyrics
Possibly due to its dark and cold winters and the lukewarm midnight sun of its short summers, Scandinavia is a land of harsh and juicy oppositions when it comes to music. The most famous artists that come out of here are either writing some of the catchiest melodies ever composed – think of Abba and A-ha – or playing the darkest and most terrific metal in the world, with a large portion of them playing black metal.
While often being included in a scene that prefers heavy and fast music, Modern Love from Oslo clearly belongs to the first category. They play a sort of peppy and distorted punk inspired by ’80s patterns, yet the real secret of the band, active since 2012, lays in their ability to write captivating melodies capable of surmounting the language barrier – their lyrics are in Norwegian, yet they sound almost intelligible to any English speaker for the enthusiastic nerve they hold.
Their geographic provenance can actually be heard quite clearly on their last album Tross Alt. Not just because of the lyrics, but also because the sonic references on the record definitely points towards the Northern countries of Europe: there’s the charisma of The Hives from Sweden, but also the primeval punk energy of Iceage from Denmark.
And like The Hives, Modern Love are at their best during their live performances. The singer wriggles on the stage, making eye contact with the crowd at every word he sputters with a ’77 punk vibe. Unlike the first wave of punk, though, he spreads only positivity in between the songs, turning his band’s show into a spate of “free hugs” and motivational words; to fight indifference and offer an example of what a real (modern) love should actually look like.
Meridian Brothers: “Futuristic Tropicalism” from Colombia
At first, Meridian Brothers’ psych-folk might sound kitschy and novel, especially to someone unfamiliar with one of Bogotá’s most beloved avant-garde acts. Perhaps as kitschy and novel as the album cover shown above. But there’s an urgency throughout the excellent ¿Dónde Estás María? – listen closely and you’ll hear the same fuzzy, driving grooves that you hear in your favorite Vampire Weekend songs. It might be weird, but you can’t say it’s lazy or not well written. And this band has been doing tropicalia longer, and better, than any late ’00s indie band still trying to be relevant.
¿Dónde Estás María? will be released on September 8th.
“The boundary-pushing Colombian group returns to Soundway Records with another unique album: dreamy psych-folk, blending traditional Latin rock with tropicalia, and lush string and choral arrangements.
Meridian Brothers’ sound is a huge palette of influences and inspirations. Drawing from traditional Latin rock (including Colombian, Argentinian and Mexican) as well as Brazilian tropicalia, for this album Alvarez incorporates string instruments – in particular the cello, both bowed and plucked – a timbre rarely used in his previous works.”
Masters Of This Land: “The soundtrack to the stories in your head”
Amir and Youssef, two members of the Cairo post-rock band Go! Save The Hostages!, have started a new band called Masters Of This Land, a deeper dive into the “post” part of their music. And I really like it. At moments I feel like I’m listening to Explosions In The Sky, still with hints of the ambient punk from their former band.
The band’s self-titled EP was just released via the Egyptian Cyrdaeb Music label.
“Debut EP by Go! Save The Hostages! members Amir and Youssef. Wanting to deviate from the typical rock band instrumentation established by GSTH, MOTL instead focuses on blending guitars and synthesizers, creating audio sculptures and soundscapes to write the soundtrack to the stories in your head.”
Cantilever: “a bunch of old man and father who love Proto punk and post-hardcore”
Cantilever is the most recent addition to Malaysia’s post-hardcore scene, getting together just within the past year and making its name around Kuantan. If you enjoy At The Drive In and any band that enjoys getting gritty, both sonically and literally (the band’s interest is “fighting in the store room”), you’ll enjoy this new debut demo collection, The Fall: The Rise.
Mdou Moctar: Niger guitarist soundtracks a Tuareg Purple Rain
Our love of Tuareg guitars is pretty obvious, so of course I have to write about Niger’s Mdou Moctar. Also, I recently (two years late) started listening to the original soundtrack for Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, a Tuareg film reimaging Prince’s Purple Rain in the Saharan Desert. This explains why the album cover looks so familiar and why I’m drawn to this record.
The album was produced by Christopher Kirkley, the man behind the sahelsounds project we often cover here.
Moctar kicks off his US tour next month and will be in New York in September and October. Full dates here.
“Rocking soundtrack recording from “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red in it,” a revolutionary story of guitars, motorcycles, cellphones – and the music of a new generation. Original compositions from Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar from the film about his rise to fame in the city of Agadez. From the raucous heavy psychedelic to the beautiful pentatonic sublime. Includes original compositions and reverb heavy intermissions film score.”
Bankrupt: melodic punk rock from Budapest
There’s a lot to like in Hungarian punk rock band Bankrupt, from the driving beat of the drums and guitar to the English dub-like keys and horns. You can hear a lot of the Ramones, the Descendents, NOFX, and the Misfits in these melodies and lyrics. Long live hooks!
“Inspired by the best moments of punk rock history, [this] Budapest based three-piece delivers a unique blend of old school and new school melodic punk rock, tinged with some punkabilly, rock and roll punk, and garage rock. Regardless of what hype is going on right now on what was earlier called the punk rock scene, [they] stick to the music they like, and continue writing songs that sound the way punk rock was meant to be. This is the sound of Riot City and it sweeps you away with the speed of a rocket.”
RAKTA: experimental all-female post-punk from Sao Paulo
For those who are familiar with the new waves of raw post-punk, RAKTA shouldn’t be a surprise. For those who aren’t, they could be a good starting point. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to define whether this all-female band from São Paulo in Brazil really belongs to any actual current wave, but categorizing them is certainly not a priority anyway. Like they claimed on an interview with CVLT Nation, “we are not attached to any [genre], and this is what we are trying to advocate.”
One of the most impressive features about RAKTA is the primitive nonchalance with which they go from horror soundtrack sounding synths and mystical intertwined vocals that repeat echoed hex mantras to walls of oppressive percussion that stand in obdurate opposition to the seductiveness of the most popular rhythms coming from their homeland. Their music belongs to a dark ritualism that isn’t traceable to any genre-related framework, and that often flows into a devilish and fascinating tableau resounding with noise, drone, and even electronic music.
Even when their experimental fury shatters common post-punk structures, though, there’s always a certain hypnotic feeling that allows the listener to remain focused and attracted to their sound. Over the course of a six-year long career, the band improved their formula with each release – most of them being cohesive EPs with powerful and defined aesthetics – and reached their peak with III. On the album, released by Iron Lung Records in the States, five long songs create a sonic universe that is truly unique in today’s music world and which perfectly represents what RAKTA are about.
Ecoute: a sketch of slow and melodic Israeli jazz
What starts out as slow, Sketches Of Spain-like jazz turns into a twisting dance of Arabic melodies and grooves. That is the power of Ecoute‘s music, aided by a whole string and horn section and Inbal Jamshid’s beautifully sung poetry.
Beeswax: Indonesian emo greats return with new music
Of all the bands on the Emotion, No compilation, Indonesia’s Beeswax was, until now, the hardest to track down. Not anymore! Recently, The Display premiered the new song “The Loaded Ashtray” and announced that their third LP is coming out soon.
The Malang four-piece has a great sound very much indebted to the specific emo and alternative bands they cite as influences (Casket Lottery, Braid, Cap’n Jazz, Maggat, Mock Orange, American Football, Title Fight, Pswingset, and Texas Is The Reason, to name a few).
From The Display:
“It has been a long time since the four-piece emo act released any new material. But now the wait is over as Bagas Yudhiswa (guitar/vocal), Iyok (guitar/vocal), Putra (bass/vocal) and Yayan (drum) have unveiled a new single titled “The Loaded Ashtray”. The song which is the first offer from the band’s upcoming third album displays an equally saddening thought as any other tracks. With their signature twinkling guitar sound, [the band opens] up about the memory of those who are gone.”
Class Suicide: Mid-00’s Kenyan hardcore punk
Though not unheard of, established African punk and metal scenes are not well known outside the continent. If you’re going to start anywhere, start with Nairobi’s Class Suicide, a mid-00’s hardcore punk band often credited to be one of the first hardcore bands in Eastern Africa. Debut album Storm The Gates doesn’t sound pretty, but it does everything a punk record should do and is compelling in how it engages and surprises.
Read more about the history of Nairobi’s fascinating punk and metal scene via OkayAfrica.
“Class Suicide was a band that brought the heavy metal and punk rock sounds of Nairobi together for 2 brief chaotic years. A politically driven bunch of crusty fellows from far away en Afrique (Nairobi, Kenya) Croe (guitars & vox) and Gearz (Bass), both formerly of the punk rock band Impish, joined forces with Adam (vox) and Kwame (percussion) who had been playing in heavy metal cover bands in late 2003. Croe had a tape in his car containing songs from: W.B.T.D., Tragedy and Catharsis. The band found common ground in the sounds and style of crust and within 2 weeks already written a handful of songs and performed live. The sound is of deep guttural vocals and violent tones and rhythm. This is balanced by melodies and rhythm both confident and delicate. The band has forged these qualities together with their live energy on their debut release ‘Storm The Gates’ originally released in December 2005 on CD in Kenya.”