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.”
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.
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.”
Class Suicide: Mid-00’s Kenyan hardcore punk
Though not unheard of, established African punk and metal scenes are not well known outside the continent. If you’re going to start anywhere, start with Nairobi’s Class Suicide, a mid-00’s hardcore punk band often credited to be one of the first hardcore bands in Eastern Africa. Debut album Storm The Gates doesn’t sound pretty, but it does everything a punk record should do and is compelling in how it engages and surprises.
Read more about the history of Nairobi’s fascinating punk and metal scene via OkayAfrica.
“Class Suicide was a band that brought the heavy metal and punk rock sounds of Nairobi together for 2 brief chaotic years. A politically driven bunch of crusty fellows from far away en Afrique (Nairobi, Kenya) Croe (guitars & vox) and Gearz (Bass), both formerly of the punk rock band Impish, joined forces with Adam (vox) and Kwame (percussion) who had been playing in heavy metal cover bands in late 2003. Croe had a tape in his car containing songs from: W.B.T.D., Tragedy and Catharsis. The band found common ground in the sounds and style of crust and within 2 weeks already written a handful of songs and performed live. The sound is of deep guttural vocals and violent tones and rhythm. This is balanced by melodies and rhythm both confident and delicate. The band has forged these qualities together with their live energy on their debut release ‘Storm The Gates’ originally released in December 2005 on CD in Kenya.”
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.”
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.
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.