Project Youth: Punk Rock Istanbul
Sure we all want to be The Clash and Sex Pistols, but how about actually sounding like them? To have that same sense of urgency and smirk? That’s the classic British punk sound and feel I hear from Istanbul’s Project Youth. I really enjoy all of Middle East for its politicalness and its desire to sound fun and alive. It feels like this group is on a mission to do something, even if that mission is just to destroy or declare that nothing matters. How punk.
“Veins of ’77 punk and early British Oi! Featuring members from two local punk bands; Poster-iti & Sabotage.”
CROCODELIA: psychedelic surf rock from Taiwan
Of course, when you think of fuzzy garage surf-rock, you think of crocodiles. Taiwan’s CROCODELIA, a band formed around 3100 BC, knows this, so they have perfected the art of the freakbeat with this excellent six-track EP. You can pick up Out Of The Swamp via Bandcamp.
Sabir: Performers of MDM – Middle Eastern Dance Music
Sabir plays sleek, Mediterranean dance-influenced My Morning Jacket, stripped-down, dance beat-heavy Tame Impala, or lively Israeli wedding music. Or all three. Or more. Take your pick. MDM (Middle Eastern Dance Music) can mean different sounds to each person and no one is wrong. This band doesn’t mind bending those rigid genres rules, and they’re all the better for it.
The band’s full-length debut is out September 9th.
“סאביר صابر is an instrumental band of six, playing MDM – Middle eastern Dance Music. [Their] music is a mixture of original Mediterranean pieces with elements of rock, electro, and hip-hop.”
Phil From Accounting: a special project from yours truly
If it seems like my recent posts have been getting shorter, there’s a reason: I’ve been busying recording music with my band! I play guitar in Phil From Accounting. We’re a punk-rock trio where we all sing and write songs together. We just released our first single, “Carrie,” last week, which you can listen to below.
Our debut EP will be out next month. Stay tuned!
From our Bandcamp:
“‘Carrie’ from ‘If You’re Reading This, Please Call Mom,’ out September 2017. Released August 18, 2017. Written by PFA. Brady Gerber: guitar, vocals. Amanda Webster: bass, vocals. Jamie Williams: drums, vocals. Produced, mixed, and mastered by Oliver Ignatius at Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen in Brooklyn, NY. Logo by Scott Carr.”
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.
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.
Tapestry: Singapore Emo and a Back-to-Basics Raw Sound
When listening to Tapestry, a glorious and heartbreaking band from Singapore, time stops. Take “A Set Distance”, for example, the sixth track off their latest full length I Hope You Never Find Me. “The joy of living is gone,” dramatically sings Syed, the band’s vocalist and guitarist as the song starts, while the band weaves a delicate post-rock motif. Not long after, the song erupts in a furious explosion that preserves the same drama. Assisting the main vocals, passionate screams percolate through the rhythm: they sound raw, woolly and ultimately reminiscent of the unpretentious screamo of fifteen years ago.
These screams are a spark in the work of Tapestry, that surely owes a lot to Midwest emo. Bands like American Football or Penfold ongly helped the band define their sound, giving them a point of reference. But Tapestry takes emo very seriously, not as something they copied from the States, but as something to live for. The constancy of their releases is a proof of that. Since their first 2012 EP, the trio has worked hard to perfect their formula, refusing to adhere to new trends and sounds.
Their last songs, released on a split with Michigan-based Coma Regalia, are a further evidence of such enviable coherence. “Strings & Azimuth”, in particular, is one of the best tracks the band has ever released. There, Syed talks about spending two years away from home due to the compulsory military service in Singapore. Even if the song is centered around a very specific theme, there’s a certain universality within it. And also the revelation that at the moment it’s “unconventional places” such as Singapore that offer some of the most interesting emo bands in the world, possibly due to the fact that the issues they cover are more transferable to the defining poignant traits of the genre–while being rather distant from the Western imagery.
IAH: ambient stoner metal from Argentina
Imagine if your favorite stoner metal band was more ambitious and listened to more Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you’ll get something like Córdoba’s IAH. There isn’t much to find on the band, but I enjoy everything I’ve heard so far.
Molly: for fans of Jawbreaker, Beach Slang, and Dinosaur Jr.
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.
Kabreet: hard rock riffs meet Arabic scales and rhythms.
Kabreet is a Damascus-based indie band that combines hard rock riffs and Arabic scales and rhythms. You can hear a love for classic Western rock (think Rush, Guns & Roses, Led Zeppelin, etc) that’s blended with the traditional sound of its land and telling the stories of its own home.
“[This is] an indie rock band from Syria, based in Damascus – capital of Syria. [they play] mainly alternative and indie rock sung in arabic lyrics. [The band] concentrates mainly on the daily life of the Syrian youth, while the music is a mixture of alternative / indie rock and middle eastern musical elements, scales and rhythms.”