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

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Trachimbrod

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

Trachimbrod

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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

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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

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Anti-Corpos

Anti-Corpos: feminist lesbian hardcore via São Paulo

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The original goal of a genre like hardcore punk has always been to change things, fight injustices, and give a voice to those who are oppressed. However, it feels like with time, the hardcore scene has become a niche built for white males, with many live shows turning into a gym for violent people, a phenomenon that has inevitably pushed others away from the scene and from its great potential. It’s in this context that the importance of Anti-Corpos, who define themselves a feminist lesbian hardcore band, becomes evident. They epitomize the original spirit of hardcore.

Anti-Corpos are from São Paulo, Brazil, and they might be the angriest band you’ll ever hear. No triggered double-kicks, pompous guitar riffs, or carefully faked screams. Only real and necessary anger. Their urgency is evident in the strident vocals of singer Rebeca Domiciano: she needs to scream and to get things off her chest. It feels like her voice, while refusing to precisely follow her band mates fast-paced tempos, can actually make a difference.

Their latest full-length, released in 2015, is a great example of political hardcore. It’s titled ‘Forma Prática de Luta’ (‘Practical Way Of Fighting’) and contains eight short and intense tracks that talk about police brutality, patriarchal abuse, and finding ways to resist to any kind of oppression. The lyrics are in Portuguese, but they barely need to be translated, seeing how energetic and heartfelt everything sounds. In their live shows, this anger is even amplified while male chauvinist violence is not tolerated. It’s what hardcore should simply be like, now more than ever.

Anti-Corpos: Facebook Bandcamp WordPress

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49 Morphines

49 Morphines: the unpredictable tension of South Korean post-rock

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Sometimes music can be so vivid and graspable that it allows the listener to create a visual representation, like listening to a record soundtrack a movie that doesn’t exist. ‘Partial Eclipse,’ the only full-length release by 49 Morphines, is one of those albums.

This post-punk five-piece started playing in Seoul, South Korea in 2003. In spite of a 14-year-long career, their discography only consists of one EP from 2004 and the aforementioned LP released in 2008.

49 Morphines play an impeccable mix of screamo and post-rock, similar in a way to their Japanese neighbors, Envy – yet this sound is more complex and particular. The contrast between soft and explosive is less balanced and predictable. At first, an Explosions In The Sky-like tenderness leaks through quiet and poignant guitars that never feel comforting, as the violence that comes before and after is unprecedented. The rhythm gets fast, crammed with ever-changing drum tempos and frantic guitars equally inspired by hardcore and metal. The listener’s awareness of the upcoming tempest is enough to turn even the softer moments in a vortex of tension and anxiety.

It’s been nine years since the release of ‘Partial Eclipse’, and meanwhile, some of the band members have started new bands; Noeazy plays a particularly furious type of metalcore while Jambinai mixes post-rock with traditional Korean folk instruments. Yet 49 Morphines still play a couple of shows every year, and they might even release something new in the near future according to an interview from last year.

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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

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Cocaine Piss

Cocaine Piss: Steve Albini teams up with one of Belgium’s best bands to beef up punk for 2017

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Kurt Cobain once said that the only producer Nirvana could have accepted to work with was Steve Albini, because he was the only one who could give the band a great sound while keeping it natural and raw. And so it makes sense that a band like Cocaine Piss would choose to head to Chicago to work with Albini himself for their latest record, The Dancer.

Cocaine Piss perfectly epitomize the original spirit of punk; they’re loud, reckless, provocative and aren’t afraid of being hated. They come from Liége, Belgium, a city that has seen the growth of a large number of crust punk bands such as Hiatus, but they don’t seem to be influenced by dark tones or d-beat drum rhythms.

Instead, they try to retrace a certain musical primordiality that perfectly pairs up with the relentless wildness they show on the stage. It’s hard to figure out what kind of people they could be in everyday life, but every time their singer, Aurélie, grabs the microphone, she turns into a raving beast. Everything she does – consciously or unconsciously – ends up shocking the audience in an authentic yet unexpected way.

Her lyrics are savage and fun at the same time. Take “Average Romance” for example, where she mercilessly screams: “You got married sent résumés swallowed some pills still no fun!”. And it’s really hard to choose which of their songs is the most crudely realistic. Everything in Cocaine Piss is meant to shock and surprise the audience, and if you add a good amount of fun to all of that you have the perfect recipe to keep playing punk in 2017.

Cocaine Piss: Facebook Bandcamp

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Зарница

Зарница: pronounced “zarneetsa,” this is danceable Moscow punk filled with post-punk influences and irreverence.

Зарница

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Russian screamo has always had a few defining characteristics carving out its own place and fanbase all over the world: a certain tundra-inspired post-rock influence, dark yet hopeful and moving atmospheres, epic guitar riffs, and broken-hearted screaming. It’s a recipe that repeats itself over and over but rarely gets boring. Therefore, it’s quite a surprise to find out that Зарница, a new Russian all star band featuring members and ex members of well-known screamo and post-rock acts such as Namatjira, Sen Deni (from Minsk, Belarus), Totoro, Маяк and more, doesn’t play screamo.

Зарница, which means “summer lightning” and is pronounced “zarneetsa”, is a four piece based in Moscow. On their first EP released in 2016, В доме престарелых, one can certainly find a lot of influences that necessarily derive from the musical background of the band’s members, especially when it comes to the ultra-melodic and uncontainable guitar riffs. However, the post-punk driven rhythms and the drunken La Dispute vocals change the settings of Зарница’s imagery, and the final result is much more similar to early The Cure or to Makthaverskan.

The contagious liveliness of Зарница, together with their queer-oriented appearance at their own concerts, shows just how much its members needed to get off the dark tones and themes they were used to. Their songs are summer tales about being bored, getting drunk on wine, and missing the last metro home. But behind the excitement of their fans jumping at their shows, an almost unnameable fear grows through the band’s disco-punk riffs: it’s the fear of growing old and tired, of forgetting youth’s pleasures and ideals, and most of all of the always disquieting Russian winter approaching every time the summer ends. Honestly, though, Зарница’s music is warm enough to survive that as well.

Зарница: Facebook VK Bandcamp

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██████ (nic)

██████: a band with no name (pronounced “nic”)

██████ (nic)

In 2012, when the live recordings of a Czech band called ██████ started assembling lots of listeners in the close-knit European punk/metal scene, it was their name that caught most people’s curiosity. Just a black bar, no words, no sounds, and impossible to search for on the internet. And when said black bar would appear on a flyer, some would think of a mistake, some of a band that was yet to be announced, even when the caption would (vaguely) specify what all of this was about: black metal from Plzeň.

One year later, the five-piece released a four songs demo and clarified that their name should be pronounced “nic”, “nothing” in Czech. However, with their music finally out, the peculiar name was not their only trademark anymore. Their sound turned out to be just as obscure: atmospheric black metal with melodic yet uncompromised and dissonant shapes of screamo and post-metal. Since 2013 was also the year of Sunbather, several comparisons with Deafheaven came quite naturally. But ██████ do not try to sound like any band in particular. Their melodies come from their musical background, their atmospheres from the foggy hills of western Bohemia, and their darkness from the wet and narrow basement where they started to practice in their hometown.

Their songs – named with plain and simple Roman numbers – are breathtaking, but always have something macabre and clammy that keeps them from being fully explosive. It’s as if they’re visually set in a claustrophobic forest grown on lo-fi recordings, anxious and nihilistic lyrics in Czech, cursed blast beats and muffled guitar riffs. The well-conceived union of all of these elements reached its peak in the two tracks – one is more than fourteen minutes long, the other is their most poignant and emotional one to date – recorded for the split with their Michigan-based friends Old Soul in 2014. In just a few years, ██████ managed to create their own style of black metal, and it goes way beyond the hype behind their name.

██████: Facebook Bandcamp Blogspot

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Laibach

Laibach in 1983, photo by Dušan Gerlica

Laibach

The small Slovenian mining town of Trbovlje is famous for two things: the tallest chimney in Europe and Laibach. Since their beginning in 1980, Laibach – named after the German name of the capital Ljubljana, back then part of socialist Yugoslavia – has become one of the most provocative bands the world has ever seen.

From the creation of the ambiguous art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (which acts like a nation and even prints its own passports) and the usage of Malevič‘s black crosses as a symbol to their ’20s avant-garde-inspired performances and their simil-fascist and socialist aesthetics, which led them to define themselves as “totalitarian rock”, Laibach have constantly tried to shock their audience. During the ’80s, they received a few bans – and luckily for them, Slovenia was the least rigid Yugoslav republic – but even when their country became independent, they didn’t stop provoking and focused on the concept of Europe.

Over the course of 37 years, the band has released eight studio albums and several singles, compilations, and soundtracks. After the purely industrial sound of their beginnings, they slowly started borrowing elements from classical music and displayed a certain interest in covering popular songs, drastically changing the atmosphere and intention of the original tracks. Take “Opus Dei (Life Is Life)”: originally called just “Life Is Life”, an enthusiastic anthem in the name of life itself by Austrian band Opus, it was turned into a disquieting eulogy of power.

By projecting totalitarian aesthetics to capitalism and consumerism, the Slovenian band managed to remain actual throughout the decades and influenced a large number of bands, the most famous of which being Rammstein. In 2015, they gained a certain international attention after their performance in North Korea: they’ve been one of the few western bands to ever play in Pyongyang, and even if they had to heavily review their set list to please the authorities, it makes sense that they were the ones chosen to perform there.

Laibach: Website Facebook Twitter

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