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.”
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.”
Gatitx Discos: “friendship without borders”
You guys, I’m in love. Gatitx Discos is one of my favorite newer indie labels, based in Lima, Peru and putting out excellent cassettes from bands around Peru, Chile, and Argentina. From fuzzy noisepop to shoegaze to straight up punk and everything in-between, there’s something here for everyone. I encourage a full listen to a few new favorite bands.
“One is the anniversary edition of the label, made in Lima, Peru, in cassette format limited to only 30 copies. Participating Peruvian, Chilean and Argentinean bands, is a kind of homage to friendship without borders.”
The Daydream Fit: The Dutch outfit stays close to its ’90s emo roots but have expanded its sound
Is there anything more bittersweet than a band going on hiatus or breaking up after releasing their best work? It isn’t rare, though; at times, the effort of releasing something outstanding is draining, it damages the personal relationships inside a band, or it makes its members realize they don’t have so much time to put on their musical project anymore.
When it comes to The Daydream Fit, a criminally underrated band based between Enschede and Utrecht, in the Netherlands, it’s unsure what the cause of their hiatus was. What we know is that their last self-titled EP is a rare gem in the contemporary emo scene, a mind blowing work that would have deserved a lot more attention.
The Daydream Fit is the second record by the Dutch outfit – the first was a three-songs EP resembling bands such as End Of A Year and characterized by a contagious freshness. Their last work is longer, with six songs graced by a masterful production that brings out the band’s ability to write songs that are seemingly simple but are written with a passionate attention to detail. The record is rich with references to the ’90s. On the second track “Stick To Yr Lies” it’s easy to hear the youthful urgency of Moss Icon, while on “New York City Tonight” there’s even a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitar player Lee Ranaldo.
But most importantly, it feels like it’s the approach of The Daydream Fit that comes from a different era, untouched by the contradictions of today or by the pressures of appearing a certain way. The band focuses on their music in the most genuine way possible: not only they play precisely what they want to play, but they also have the means to do it, and the result is truly poignant and brilliant.
YOGOHOWSHIAO: the art of the somber soundtrack
I love the quiet space YOGOHOWSHIAO creates with just a keyboard – like I’m in a Taiwanese sequel to Lost in Translation and I’m looking out at the dark skyline or an endless countryside and thinking of my own reflection that I caught in the elevator mirror. The SoundCloud has more upbeat, frantic electronic music as well, but I’m all here for any music that makes me want to sit still and close my eyes and transport me to some unknown place in my mind.
PAST: Warsaw post-punk meets ’80s goth
You don’t need to speak Polish to understand the attitude and aesthetics of PAST, a post-punk band from Warsaw that started playing in 2011. Sure, their lyrics are a fundamental part of their work, focusing mostly on the current state of the world with a certain disillusionment – but with an ever present glimpse of hope. But all of this information can already be grasped by carefully listening to the powerful voice of Gosia, the band’s lead singer.
There’s something in her beautiful vocals that manages to bear the band’s spirit and captures the listener. Her strong harmonies stand above the ravenous and dystopian sound of their new record, Czarno/Biela (Black/White), while fitting perfectly in it at the same time.
On their Bandcamp page, PAST assert they play music “so that they can run away from norms and mediocrity.” Mediocrity in particular, or rather refusing it and fighting it, is central to their work, and that is not something to be underrated. While clearly fond of cold post-punk, the band renovates the the dark ’80s sound and modernizes it in a sparkling way.
Cutting synths often fill the space, invigorating the album with an unusually wide range of colors, while an omnipresent bass and blossoming guitars add a precious depth to the band’s compositions, pushing the band towards a roaring punk urgency with the help of fast-paced and never monotonous drums.
All of these elements turn Czarno/Biela into an exciting and epic ride, one that creates an atmosphere that owes a lot to the German post-punk of thirty years ago. It’s post-apocalyptic, but with a sizable dose of emotions and curiosity for all the possibilities that this type of music can offer.
Avital Raz: “Making people uncomfortable since 1996…”
When I listen to Avital Raz, I hear the traditional folk storytelling of artists like Bob Dylan with a modern twist and some dark humor. The Israeli singer-songwriter, now based in Sheffield, tells poignant stories with simple acoustic playing and some nice orchestral touches. Read up on her fascinating career so far here.
“a vocal artist who travels across many genres. Her songs may resemble old English lute songs, Indian Classical Ragas, Cabaret, Blues or Eastern-European Jewish melodies. A multi-cultured get-together of many strange characters, all rolled up into one quirky singer-songwriter.”
Luna Abu Nassar: Dawame sounds like a dream both calming and sinister
Dawame, Luna Abu Nassar’s second album, sounds like a dream on the banks of a Tel Aviv river, with echoes of different voices and instruments coming in and out as sounds of nature set a calming scene. Her extra touches add a somewhat sinister, deep blue feel that’s very compelling. She could easily be one of the musical artists at the end of the new Twin Peaks episodes.
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.
Frequency Asia: The podcast celebrates its first anniversary with an excellent greatest hits collection
I’m kicking myself for just finding Frequency Asia, a podcast and label that finds the best modern sounds of Asia. Learn more about them here. Its Vol. 1 compilation from two years ago is an excellent introduction to what the podcast covers, from thrilling guitar rock to dreamy ambient jams and everything in between.
“Frequency Asia has been around a year now, so I thought we should do a compilation to celebrate. Frequency Asia Vol. 1 takes 22 songs played on the podcast over the first 30 episodes and brings them to you on tape or via the magic of the internet.
This is some of the best underground music that Asia has to offer, from psychedelia from Thailand to instrumental hip-hop form the Siberian tundra, to Malaysian noise rock and Indian sludge, this compilation should hopefully have a little bit of something for everyone.”