The New What Next: Issue #42

The newest noise for your listening pleasure!

The 1984 Draft
Dayton, Ohio
Makes Good Choices | Aug. 24 | Poptek Records
RIYL: Midwest livin’. Sports references. Marital bliss.

Photo by Rachele Alban

The most important responsibility of a football team’s general manager is to make good choices when the annual draft comes around. Having good decision-making abilities and being a good judge of character can impact the quality of the product on the field. Such is the case for sports-loving band The 1984 Draft. Makes Good Choices is festooned with appreciation for the past, present, and future. Vocalist Joe Anderl’s lovely mother adorns the album’s cover, though he says the best choice he’s ever made was marrying his wife—smart answer, dude! “Ultimately,” he elaborates, “the story here is one of growth, redemption from past mistakes, and learning how to continue to make good choices so [my] wife, kids, and friends end up with the best version of me they can get.” Musically honest, homecooked Midwestern melodic punk is the name of the game, but it’s all elevated by Anderl’s charm and ability to make the listener truly give a shit. This is powerful stuff, indeed.

Active Bird Community
Brooklyn, New York
Amends | Sept. 14 | Barsuk Records
RIYL: Big, bold tunes. Temporal awareness. Feeling things.

Photo by Eleanor Petry

Amends does a peculiar dance, sounding both retro and fresh. Active Bird Community are wonderfully loud and emotive, bridging the gap between ’90s indie rock and 2010s emo-tinged grunge. It’s certainly different than your standard quiet-loud stock template, and it’s made all the better by vocalist and guitarist Tom D’Augustino’s raw lyricism. Amends reckons with the past in an optimistic way, but “I think that ‘hoping for a better future’ part is really important too,” D’Augustino says. “Once you contend honestly with the past and you kind of get that squared away, the future isn’t so threatening. I think we all feel empowered by what we made together. We feel stronger as songwriters but also as a group of friends who have spent most of our lives together.” Active Bird Community are certainly chirping to the rhythm of their own avian heartbeats and should appeal to anyone looking to really care about the loud music they’re enjoying.

Oakland, California
Of Alternate Spaces | July 1 | A-F Records
& Get Better Records
RIYL: Aggressive sonic expression. Inclusion. Tearful open eyes. 

Photo by Britton Assink

Everything about Coherence and their amazing debut record is crystal clear—coherent even. The group’s post-hardcore is filtered through a ’90s emo lens, but it feels violent and candid like the best of the current crop rising out of the underground. Their music is a collective outlet, a means of connection to the audience, and feels like an invitation into a dialogue rather than a sermon from the pulpit. “We try to interact with people in a conversational way, ideally inviting moments that aren’t about an audience being performed at but rather creating a space to share stories and explore ideas that everyone is a part of,” they explain. “It feels especially important to do this with people who have been historically—and often continue to be—excluded from these spaces. This is something most of us have experienced a lot, feeling excluded or marginalized even in these spaces specifically for weirdos, but [we] have also had magical moments that have helped us feel at home.” Inclusion is rarely so clearly rendered, and Of Alternate Spaces is a fantastic first impression.

Dollar Signs
Charlotte, North Carolina
This Will Haunt Me | July 13 | A-F Records
RIYL: Raging against the debt-machine. Relatability. Lulz.

This Will Haunt Me exemplifies how to pull off sardonic wit without sounding like a sarcastic asshole—with an oddly charming party punk vibe to boot. Dollar Signs’ self-labeled “student loan-core” rages against regret on an album about weddings, pop songs, crying, and the Electric Slide. This charisma stems from vocalist and guitarist Erik Button’s likeable and relatable word choices. “I always try to think of writing lyrics as a mix between writing poetry and telling my friends a story about something that happened to me,” he says. “I’m not a huge fan of lyrics that are just endless complaining, so I try to make my thoughts and feelings fun and digestible. I would call my approach, ‘songified gallows humor.’” Despite containing a song literally entitled “Waste My Life Away,” Dollar Signs’ personality and hilarious tales of frustration are essential listening for any disillusioned punk fan.

Dropout Kings
AudioDope | Aug. 10 | Napalm Records
RIYL: Unapologetic rap-metal. Varsity jackets. Bringing the heat.

Taking your craft seriously is a good idea, but taking yourself seriously? Overrated. AudioDope is the rare rap-metal record that doesn’t bow down to nu-metal nostalgia or concern itself with anything other than having a good time. Dropout Kings’ tales of everyday struggle fuse progressive metalcore riffs with seriously impressive hip hop. The band’s trademark look came as an accidental afterthought, but it’s easily the most metal trip to Michaels ever. “Originally, we were going to go with the NWA look, repping hometown sports teams, etc.,” they explain, “but when we did the video for ‘NVM,’ we had the idea of using varsity jackets, which fit the band name. We bought blank ones, went to the nearest Michaels, and stuck some letters on them. The rest is history.” It’s that self-awareness—and willingness to embrace alternative solutions—that makes Dropout Kings’ debut so memorable. Rap-metal hasn’t sounded this fun in a long time.

The Drowns
& Los Angeles
View From the Bottom | Aug. 31 | 1984 Records
& Live! From The Rock Room & Bypolar Records
RIYL: Staying hella posi. Never losing hope. Your buddy, Rev.

If you feel drowned but not out, The Drowns are the band for you. View From the Bottom explores the rising water—and stress—levels of everyday life, with a focus on the seeking out the lighthouses in the storm. “The three of us have been good friends for a while now, [and] that sense of positivity is just a part of all of our daily routines,” vocalist and guitarist Aaron Rev Peters shares. “In dark times like these, you have to remind yourself that the world isn’t all bad. We just write what we know, and currently, we are seeing horrible things happening around us every day.” View From the Bottom is a record that meets the listener where they are and offers a helping hand to a world very much in need of hope. Thankfully, the melodic punk backbone—with doses of folk and Americana—is stellar too.

Brooklyn, New York
By the Grace of Blood and Guts | Aug. 10 | Aqualamb Records
RIYL: Existential angst. Noisy melodicism. Fiery riffs.

HAAN come across like a band who wish to create as much listenable noise as possible, with dense compositions that are much more melodic than they have any right to be. Indeed, By the Grace of Blood and Guts is about as hook-filled as something this noisy can scientifically be. Treading at the edge of reason both musically and thematically, HAAN embody the roots of their Korean-culture-inspired name: a nod to living under a perpetual and oppressive feeling of ennui, an indefinable ache deep in the soul. Vocalist Chuck Berrett—who kills it on the record—explains, “The overall theme of the album kind of follows a human consciousness down the spiral of indulgence, indifference, and nihilism, which I think is a fairly common reaction to the sensationalism and the varied idealisms of an overstimulated society.”

Low Dose
Low Dose | TBA | Self-released
RIYL: Soothing chaos. Tape decks. Quivering with anticipation.

A low dose sounds rather wimpy and ineffective. However, this new grungy post-hardcore quartet bring a very different word to mind: potent. Sometimes a drug—or a band—can be so powerful and efficient, you just need one drop to get righteously healed. That’s what Low Dose—who rose from the ashes of Fight Amp and Legendary Divorce—was for vocalist and guitarist Itarya Rosenberg. The band are not just an outlet but a sort of treatment for recent trauma. Put succinctly, “To be honest, I am not sure how I would have gotten through a very intense and difficult transition in my life without the band and this record,” she says. While their full album has yet to be released, the first small dose—the cassingle “For Sure” b/w “Right On,” released July 21—is an intoxicating blend of rock and metal styles, with a punch and power that feels wholly unique. These tracks should be FDA-approved on efficacy alone.

New York
Megative | July 27 | Last Gang Records
RIYL: Toads. Locusts. Laughing in the face of annihilation.

Photo by Ty Snaden

“Apocalypse, in Greek, means ‘disclosure of knowledge’ or ‘uncovering’ or ‘revelation,’” Megative vocalist Tim Fletcher notes. Surprisingly, the band’s diverse dystopian dub punk isn’t dreary or depressing. Instead, this assured and astoundingly fun record revels in the shared knowledge and discovery of how fucked we truly are as a society. Megative touches on our dark times and the unveiling of ignorance. Yet, the cross-continental band embrace the end with a wonderfully enchanting style that will serve as the perfect soundtrack to our impending extinction. “Megative write songs about characters caught in various aspects of the sickness,” Fletcher adds, “and it’s actually a hell of a lot of fun—and funny too.” Like the best end-times preachers, Megative’s unique take on reggae is sure to recruit quite the flock.

Odd Robot
Fullerton, California
Amnesiatic | Aug. 3 | Wiretap Records
RIYL: Gallows humor. Earworms. Retrofuturism.

Photo by Paul Silver

Humorously, Amnesiatic is particularly unforgettable. With a sound that’s bright and bubbly with just enough punk edge and grim realism, Odd Robot are truly one abnormal android. One part power pop, one part Midwestern punk, the band masterfully mix light and dark, catchy hooks and depressing shit, satire and exaggeration. “I never cared for dark-sounding songs with dark lyrics. Spare me the razorblades,” vocalist and guitarist Andy Burris laughs. “I’d rather laugh about terrible shit—or make a mockery of it at least.” The record deals with what Burris jokes are the finer things in life: absent-mindedness, lust, depression, atheism, booze, finding joy in others’ defeat, and lost love. This is one hilarious and emotive automaton.

Apple Valley, California
Meet Is Murder 7” | July 6 | Indecision Records
RIYL: Animal rights. Teeth-gnashing ferocity. Not being an asshole.

Ursula—the band, not “The Little Mermaid” villain—have a style that can only be described as the musical equivalent of a balanced, dense sonic stew—and it’s vegan to boot! Vocalist Whitney Marshall asks, “How do you stay woke in a sleepy world?” and Meet Is Murder wrestles with that witty frustration. “We try our best to spread a positive message, even with all the fuckery that gets thrown at us, generally speaking,” she adds, “but I have sort of given up on people too.” It’s precisely that maturity—knowing when to care and when to let go—that elevates the record’s resonance. Plus, the music is mighty tasty, with a frenetic yet carefully measured mix of ferocious styles spanning punk, hardcore, and metal. This is thoughtful aggression and purposeful noise. The riffs are packed in like sardines, but Ursula would prefer to let those fish live.

Warm Drag

Los Angeles
Warm Drag | Aug. 31 | In The Red
RIYL: “Twin Peaks” dream sequences. Good trips. ’70s seduction.

Photo by Mark Champion

“I hope our music conjures a strong visual experience and takes the audience into mysterious places,” Warm Drag vocalist Vashti Windish notes. The ethereal, evocative moodiness of their debut LP recalls worlds like ours but ever-so-slightly off. The music is throbbing and addictive, the hip-shaking beats contrasting beautifully with the distinct, distant feeling the duo concoct. It’s a perfect road trip record for those times when the world around you feels vacant yet alive. Windish concurs and elaborates, “I love to look out the window and contemplate the contrast of beauty and darkness in the passing landscapes, rundown strip malls, and open sky. There’s a calm, almost therapeutic feeling that comes over me, and my mind always wanders to the themes of the record.” This masterful record will surely evoke similar feelings, if you give it the chance. Warm Drag are certainly a band to watch.


Saint Paul, Minnesota
Stranger Here | Aug. 17 | Facedown Records
RIYL: Grace. Peaceful storms. Rain that washes away the pain.

Life is all about weathering your own personal and existential storms, and Facedown’s latest signees wrestle with this notion wonderfully on their debut full-length. Stranger Here tackles the times and places where vocalist and guitarist Justin Hieb felt like he didn’t fit in, along with his ability to find grace and a path forward at the end. “I guess what I’ve learned from writing this record is that despite struggling with personal identity or feeling like you don’t belong, there is something higher than all of this,” he says. “Instead of despairing about how I don’t belong anywhere, I try to remember that I am here, therefore, I was meant to be here. I have a purpose here. Call it faith or the power of love or whatever. Humans have the responsibility to be good caretakers of the world and everyone in it.” Stranger Here is a visceral, emotionally-charged grunge-gaze journey to redemption, as impressive musically as it is thematically.

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