Aesthesys

Aesthesys: Russian instrumental post-rock

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There’s a lot going on in the music of Aesthesys. Most of it on paper – Interpol-like driving guitars, pretty chimes and strings, your favorite prog drummer – shouldn’t work, yet everything blends so well here. The Moscow-based outfit knows exactly what it’s doing, for it’s had years to develop its chops from its earliest days as Nik Koniwzski’s one-man project to now being a fleshed-out band.

From Bandcamp:

“[we’re] an instrumental outfit hailing from Moscow, Russia, performing a mixture of post-rock, ambient, neoclassical and progressive music.”

Aesthesys: Facebook Twitter SoundCloud Website

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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Molly

Molly: for fans of Jawbreaker, Beach Slang, and Dinosaur Jr.

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The music video teasing Stay Above, the new album by Molly, is simple and irritatingly hilarious. It shows a phone reproducing their new song “All About” inside of an empty Tuborg glass, the track sounding muffled and distant, interrupted halfway by an abrupt phone call. Towards the end, though, the sound gets rid of the natural distortion and acquires its true powerful nature. At the same time, we see the band standing in front of some burning brushwood, creepily staring into the void.

A video like this already says a lot about Molly, a furious rock band from Copenhagen. It shows that they don’t take themselves too seriously, that they can have fun with their own music, but more than anything it shows how good their songwriting is, even when the music can be barely heard. The Danish trio is clearly influenced by Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and Jawbreaker, but rework these influences in a personal way, assisted by some effective Social Distortion sounding vocals.

Reworking, though, does not mean modernizing, and Stay Above is obstinately anchored to the 90s sound. It is Molly’s third record, but it seems like it’s the one that can allow them to be noticed by many more people than before, also thanks to the hype of bands like Beach Slang, which turned punk-informed 90s rock into something more recognizable and accessible even to younger kids today. This way, Stay Above has all the potential to become one of the most loved albums of the year.

Molly: Facebook 

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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Autumn Sweater

Autumn Sweater: for fans of Protomartyr, Interpol, and Joy Division

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Luxembourg’s Autumn Sweater takes everything I love about Protomartyr, Interpol, and Joy Division and meshes it all together quite beautifully. The band’s Facebook mentions that their interests include tacos, turtles, ’70s men’s fashion, and Aladin on Super Nintendo, which are all very punk things.

Autumn Sweater: 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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I Cani

I Cani: the once obscure electro-pop persona now embraces Italian pop

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“Ho paura di tutto, soprattutto dei Cani,” sings Niccolò Contessa on Glamour, the second and central album in the discography of his one man project. It translates to “I’m afraid of everything, especially of I Cani,” and it gives an idea of the complex love/hate relationship between a songwriter and the obscure electro-pop persona he started building six years ago and that reached way more people than he could have dreamed of.

The story of I Cani started in 2011 with the first album Il sorprendente album d’esordio de I Cani. Back then, no one knew Contessa’s real name, and he performed his live shows with a paper bag on his face. What everyone learned to know were his songs, written and produced in his bedroom; catchy synth-driven post-punk gems with brilliant and keen lyrics describing the contradictions of Italy and Italians, with a particular focus on the place where he comes from, a northern neighborhood of Rome.

Ironically, autobiographical elements and a taste for grotesque situations and characters were the keys that led his lyrics to be sung along by the whole indie scene. But he didn’t stop there. A few years later, he got rid of his anonymity and started pushing his career towards a new direction, somewhat close to cult ’80s Italian singers such as Lucio Dalla or Franco Battiato.

His latest album, Aurora, released in 2016, is a display of his newfound maturity. He basically revisits Italian pop. His songs become more conventional, the production hints to dance rhythms, his lyrics reflect his own personal growth. While some of his early fans were disappointed, Aurora is truly a great example of what modern Italian pop rock should sound like, but with the addition of occasional wild synths that he can’t seem to survive without.

I Cani: Facebook Youtube SoundCloud

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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Memória de Peixe

Memória de Peixe: Lisbon duo blows up the math rock formula by adding jazz and an excellent use of looping

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I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like Memória de Peixe, the Lisbon duo (Miguel Nicolau on guitar and Marco Franco on drums) that manages to sound like five bands together making glitchy, jittery math-rock without any of the pretention and with so much joy and wonder. If you’ve heard another band like this, I’m sure they don’t sound nearly as fun.

From Bandcamp:

“It’s a world of fantasy, adventures, final bosses, super-heroes, lonely comets, space odysseys and angry quarks falling in love with dead pixels.

Scientifically, “Himiko Cloud is a nebular gas cloud that is thought to be a protogalaxy, caught in the act of formation”. “Himiko” is also the name of our anti-gravity fish, that aggregates stories. Andy Singleton, an artist based in UK, created a sculpture of our friend “Himiko”, incorporated with amazing maglev technology.

Our Artwork was created by Carlos Gaspar, paintings representing a map to our songs. Also, the songs were made based on stories created by our own”

Memória de Peixe: Facebook Twitter 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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Wild Animals

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

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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.

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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

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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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