Wild Animals

Wild Animals: Spanish pop punk enriched by DIY ethics and politics.

wild animals

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One of the worst things that has happened to pop punk in the past twenty years was how the genre distanced itself from the DIY ethics it was born with. Strengthened by the catchiness of their vocals harmonies, by the approachability of their riffs and by the appealing image of an arguable rebellion, a lot of bands laid emphasis solely on the pop side of the genre, forgetting where it all came from.

It’s in this context that a band like Wild Animals, a three-piece from Madrid, is truly important. First off, their songwriting is excellent. They could have easily been released by Epitaph or Fat Wreck Chords in 1999. Their last record, Basements: Music To Fight Hypocrisy is comprised of ten melodic punk rock gems with ’90s emo nuances that hint to early Saves The Day and Jawbreaker. The play fast songs with unforgettable hooks, reaching the highest peaks when the vocals of lead singer and guitar player Jamie and of drummer Paula meet, like on their anthem “Avocado”.

The lyrics are flawless, as the band is not ashamed to sincerely share their personal stories. Like on “Heavy Metal Saved My Life”, where they recount how each of the band’s members got into punk and extreme music: Youth Of Today for Paula, heavy metal for Jamie, and Rancid and Propagandhi for bass player Fon, who also runs one of the most active DIY labels in Spain, La Agonia De Vivir.

And here’s where another fundamental aspect of the band comes into play. Rather than aiming to be released by major labels or try to tour with big American pop punk bands, Wild Animals have their roots in the hardcore and DIY scene. They sing about politics, play in squats, book their own tours, release their records with the help of self-managed labels from the whole world. By doing so, they bring the genre back to where it was born, and regenerate it with enviable freshness.

Wild Animals: Facebook Bandcamp

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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Bastos

Bastos: Romanian screamo band, formerly just instrumental, have now added vocals and channel late ’90s American screamo and emo.

bastos

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“Henry Parker” is the third track off Bastos‘ debut LP, ‘Second Favourite Person,’ and it’s possibly the best Italian emo song of the year. Frantic and twinkly guitars wreath around a raw yet powerful sound driven by ever changing drums. Heartfelt lyrics about an ephemeral and nocturnal love story are screamed with passion in the background of a present and dynamic sonic pattern.

The funny thing is that Bastos are not from Italy but from Romania. While the rest of their tracks are sung in English, the fact that “Henry Parker” has (slightly ungrammatical) Italian lyrics already suggests what some of the band’s main influences are. Raein, for example. The sound of the iconic Italian screamo band occasionally echoes on Bastos’ tracks, but it’s enriched by a taste for cheerful emo à la Algernon Cadwallader and math-rock guitars, delivering a product that is willingly raw but extremely rousing.

As a matter of fact, Bastos, who come from several places in Romania but are based in Bucharest, started playing a few years ago as a math-rock instrumental band. After a split with Pandrea released in 2014, ‘Second Favourite Person’ is the first album where they add vocals, and the mix between screamo and the math guitars they’re able to master is what makes it so great. There’s a Topshelf Records sort of vibe sometimes, but the honesty and the lo-fi urgency this record transmit connects it to ’90s emo and screamo, as if they’re taking back the genre to its natural DIY environment.

Bastos: Facebook Bandcamp

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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Cambodian Soul Sounds

Cambodian Soul Sounds: tracks, stories, and compilations highlighting Cambodian psychedelic rock & soul from the ’50s to the ’70s.

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Cambodian Soul Sounds is a Stockholm, Sweden-based label that shares compilations highlighting songs and stories from Cambodia’s thriving psychedelic rock and soul scene from the ’50s to the ’70s. The compilations, curated by Richard Rossa, raises funds to support organizations that are trying to preserve and rebuild Cambodia’s cultural life. My personal favorite is Vol. II, which includes what might be my favorite cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

From Richard Rossa via Facebook:

“The music scene in Cambodia during the 50s to the mid-70s was swinging hard! Khmer musicians of the era were influenced by western rhythm & blues, rock n’ roll, and music from Latin America. Musicians like Sinn Sisamouth studied these musical styles when traveling abroad, many Cambodians also tuned in these songs on US Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War and got influenced by the western sound.

The combination of styles and culture created a truly unique touch to the vivid rock music of Cambodia.

But…It all ended on April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. With many others – the artists were executed or sent away to prison camps to die. Cambodia fell into darkness.

During these years pretty much every original recording and master tape were destroyed. Listening to this music would have got you killed. But thanks to vinyl collectors who risked their lives concealing or smuggle their records out of the country there is still a bunch of them out there ready to be restored and archived for future generations to enjoy.

Cambodian Soul Sounds vol 1 is a compilation of old songs I managed to pick up myself when traveling in Cambodia. Even if the recordings presents a charming distorted sound, songs were also really low, but with a lot of high frequencies cutting through, making it somehow unpleasant at loud volumes. As a DJ and producer, I took matters into my own hands and reworked the recordings to give them a warmer and more suitable sound for your earphones or the DJ to blast at maximum volume at the local psychedelic soul party. Just as I do.

I am doing this because I know this music deserves a place in the context I am working in – as a Dj. It will help to find new listeners, promote and raise awareness of Cambodia as a whole. However, with its tragic history, this legacy needs to be treated with respect. I am doing this work to raise funds for project in Cambodia such as the work for music preservation and also to help disadvantaged children. The project is 100% non-profitable and every revenue from these track sales or streaming are going straight into these projects.

With this work, the lost musicians of Cambodia can continue to give aid back to their country long after they passed.”

Cambodian Soul Sounds: Facebook SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Trachimbrod

Trachimbrod: a new “indie” side to the Swedish-sung screamo.

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Glacial and glittering guitars, uniform and decisive rhythmic patterns, desperate shaking vocals on the verge of bursting. These are more or less the defining traits of screamo in Sweden, a country that is one of the most prolific when it comes to this niche genre. Bands like Suis La Lune, who have been pioneering this type of music in Stockholm for more than ten years, are known to every screamo fan in the world, but there are many Swedish bands that are quickly getting the international attention they deserve.

Trachimbrod is one of those bands. Their style is unmistakably close to the rest of their compatriots, but the quality of their music is outstanding. The band’s first album, ‘A Collection Of Hidden Sketches,’ came out in 2012 and was a real gem. Hoarse yet harmonious, with unforgettable guitar melodies emerging from a thick and icy sonic blanket, their songwriting felt unstudied and original, setting them apart from many similar bands in the world.

While their following split with Sore Eyelids showed worrisome chameleonic skills, resulting in them sounding way too similar to the dreamy shoegaze of their split partners, their 2017 comeback with ‘Leda’ is a breath of fresh air for Swedish and international screamo. It’s a soft-tempered record where atmospheric guitar arpeggios endlessly chase each other in a post-rock setting, reaching a climax only rarely and creating a dense emotional tension.

The singer – who also sings in the lively emo group I Love Your Lifestyle – switches his lyrics from English to Swedish this time, increasing the magic and the mystery of the band even more. Occasionally, he adds poignant clean parts that exalt the musical potential and versatility of the music, making ‘Leda’ a thorough record that will make it really easy to fall in love with this band.

Trachimbrod: Facebook Bandcamp

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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Oiseaux-Tempête

Oiseaux-Tempête: for fans of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and uplifting dread

Oiseaux-Tempête

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You know that feeling when you listen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you sense that the world is about to fold onto you and crush you and everything you’ve ever known, but somehow this is OK and in tune with how the world should be? Parisian band Oiseaux-Tempête knows this feeling, and they add a Middle-Eastern flavor to their uplifting dread that takes its time with you. Stick around for all of ‘AL – ‘AN ! الآن (And your night is your shadow — a fairy – tale piece of land to make our dreams)’ and you won’t be disappointed.

From Bandcamp:

“These are some live epiphanies improvised between Middle-East and Europe during the year of chaos 2016…Field recordings shot in Lebanon between March and October 2016…Poems by Mahmoud Darwish extracts from ‘The Offering’ and ‘Red Indian’s Penultimate Speech to the White Man'”

Oiseaux-Tempête: website Bandcamp Facebook

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Pastacas

Pastacas: Estonian “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”

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Ramo Teder is a 46-year-old dreamer and multi-instrumentalist from Viljandi, a small town in southern Estonia. He currently lives in Teijo, Finland, in the middle of a large national park filled with lakes, forests, and historical villages. Consequently, the presence of nature is felt so clearly in every song of his musical project Pastacas. This pastoral vibe, however, doesn’t reach the listener’s ears untouched: traditional music and nursery rhymes are decomposed and represented in a new and unexpected form.

The music of Pastacas feels like a complex and mystic journey into a place both familiar and unknown. The title of his last album, ‘Pohlad’, is Estonian for lingonberries. Each song is a short and immersive experience into old and fascinating Baltic tales. Guitars and mandolins are matched with old folk Estonian instruments such as the hiiu kannel, a particular four-stringed bowed lyre. Electronic beats and the repetition, inversion, and decomposition of both his instruments and his voice, though, push his music towards a surprising direction.

Teder himself defines his work as “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”, where nohik means “nerd” in Estonian. It’s a playful definition because this sort of futuristic approach to pastoral and folk music is not easy to label. What’s sure is that experimental music is rarely as emotional and homely as it is here. The same emotion relives in the skinny and heartfelt characters he draws for the artworks of his albums, and in the contemplative live shows, where he recreates his music by playing and looping all of the instruments he uses on the records, bringing the audience to the cold yet inviting forests he calls home.

Pastacas: Facebook Bandcamp

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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cibils

cibils: mysterious trip-hop from Trento, Italy

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cibils is from Trento, Italy and makes chill trip-hop. And that’s all the info I could find on this act – fitting for how mysterious and ambient the music plays out. Check out the entire EP, which is out now. All the tracks are strong.

cibils: Bandcamp

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Dem Juju Poets

Dem Juju Poets: bringing life, and a few DJ tricks, to Afrofunk

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Dem Juju Poets, aka David Hanke, is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes the idea of retro-sounding Afrofunk but finds that most modern takes are too bland to remember. The German DJ has been making solid Afropunk-inspired cuts since 2008, and his new album, with a lively flow that actually makes you wanna get up and dance, will further establish his name worldwide. The debut LP will be released April 21st via Matasuna Records.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“What initially started as idea for a DJ-duo project quickly turned into a new production outlet for German producer David Hanke. He is well known for his Northern Jazz, Funk and Afrofunk productions under various monikers ever since his first release back in 2008. The most recognized surely is his Renegades Of Jazz-alias.

After starting to fully embrace the Afrofunk vibe with his 2016-released Renegades Of Jazz album ‘Moyo Wangu’ as well as two Dem Juju Poets singles in the same year it’s now about time to release ‘Liberated Thoughts’ – the longplay debut for Dem Juju Poets which is scheduled for April 2017.

Having spent an influential part of his childhood in Arusha, Tanzania and engrained the music of East Africa, his sound combines these influences with modern, more club-orientated electronic Afrofunk productions which defines the core sound of Dem Juju Poets.

With ‘Liberated Thoughts’ Hanke refines his Afrofunk vision for 2017 informed by his experience as a DJ in venues all over Europe which naturally led to a more floor functional production approach.”

Dem Juju Poets: Bandcamp Website Facebook

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Adorno

Adorno: ’90s emo and post-hardcore mixed with Portuguese Saudade

adorno

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Between 2007 and 2012, Lisbon-born band Adorno released twenty songs spread across two EPs and six splits, like a book whose chapters came out quarterly on the pages of a newspaper. And just like a book, these twenty songs tell the story of a friendship expressed through uncompromised emo that is not detachable from the political values it was born with.

“We will be aware of our own contradictions and we will make mistakes. Don’t need regret,” they sing on their sixth song, “Life. Love. Don’t Need Regret”. It’s only one of their many incurably optimistic anthems, sundering the band from the stereotypes of their motherland Portugal, often associated with Fado music and sadder feelings, and showing traces of their necessary internationality. In their first year, the band couldn’t resist doing a full European tour after just seven shows between Portugal and Spain. And the fact that now the band members live between New York, Barcelona and Lisbon confirms such spirit.

Though, when describing the band’s lyrics, optimistic might not be the right term, as they are more motivational in quite an hardcore-inspired way rather than plain happy. But the sonic framework is different, certainly influenced by ’90s emo and post-hardcore but made more exotic by the particular ability of the band to create their own personal style. Tapering rhythms and beaming guitars steal the show, while the vocals went from the coarse screams of their first EP to the hearty and amicable imperfection of their latest works. Add a little bit of saudade, the nostalgic/melancholic emotion that is typical of the Portuguese tradition, and it’s enough to turn Adorno into one of the most memorable emo bands Europe have ever seen.

Adorno: Facebook Website

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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Svetlana Maraš

Svetlana Maraš: brilliant sampling work via Norient

Svetlana Maraš

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Svetlana Maraš excellent sampling work is the latest release from Norient, a Swiss online magazine that searches for contemporary music, sounds, and noises from around the world (just like us!).

From Norient’s Bandcamp:

“For her audio-visual cut-up composition MATTER OF FACT, Serbian composer and sound artist Svetlana Maraš has sampled, remixed and developed the interview material used in the Norient exhibition Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World.

Words and music, their fusion and their frisson, fascinate this artist, inspiring much of her work. She is less interested in word setting and more in exploring and distilling the sonic possibilities at the heart of spoken language and organized sound.

In this work, the ‘lyrics’ are entirely made out of snippets of interviews with people from all over the world; the recorded fragments divorced from their original contexts become rich in semantic ambiguity and ripe for alternative interpretations. This is the ‘me, me, me’ of the modern world and its’ egocentrism – dissected, juxtaposed, pilloried, criticized and sonified.

Commissioned by Norient and CTM for «Seismographic Sounds» exhibition at the CTM Festival 2016 Berlin, MATTER OF FACT premiered as an interactive installation.”

Svetlana Maraš: Bandcamp Website

Norient: Bandcamp SoundCloud Website Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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