It’s Bandcamp Friday, the day each month when everyone’s favorite digital music marketplace waves their fees for all purchases made from artists utilizing their platform. The majority of every purchase made on Bandcamp goes to the artist you’re buying from on a normal day. However, more money reaches them today than any other.
The company has announced that they will continue this fee policy for the first Friday of each month at least through 2021 (or however long it takes for it to be safe to attend indoor concerts again). Good news for you. Great news for the artists you love.
Because the New Noise team (and me in particular) are hopelessly obsessed with new music (hence the name of the magazine, duh!) a list of recommendations has been assembled for your perusing pleasure below. If anything sounds piques your interest, you can buy and/or stream the album via the media players provided below each write-up. It’s really that simple. Why would I lie to you? No reason. Have fun!
Marinero – Hella Love (Hardly Art)
“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” The playwright William Shakespeare once penned this line to conclude a romantic encounter between his most famous, and fateful, lovers. It’s hard to think of Jess Sylvester’s (aka Marinero) leaving his home city of San Francisco for Los Angeles with emotions that are any less wounded than those expressed by the great bard.
His latest album Hella Love, is as much an homage to his hometown as it is an arrow through Sabastian’s proverbial heart. Or his heart rather. This is especially true, since the choice to leave was apparently made for him.
The ruthless logic of real estate investment and tech entrepreneurship has simply cannibalized the Bay Area since the ’70s, leaving no room for any conception of freedom or community which does not directly benefit the processes of extraction that has been put into play there. Particularly hard hit is the Mission District where Jess grew up with his family, and where his mother was employed at a bakery. Nods to his mother’s work as a fixture of Jess’s youth, float along a cool and buoyant, Chicano-soul groove, giving this ode to a panaderia a patina of paraíso on the track “Nuestra Victoria.”
Jess excels at melding elements of chamber pop with tropicalia and Latin soul, his personality and distinctive sense of melody providing songs like “Luz del Faro” and “Beyond the Rainbow Tunnel” a transportive and emancipatory zeel. Hella Love may be about physically leaving San Francisco, but it’s clear that Jess’s heart is still there, and likely always will be.
Pixel Grip – Arena (Feeltrip)
Every day is a battle—another field of carnage in a god damned war. Chicago-based, goth-disco-demolition queens Pixel Grip understand this as well as anyone, and it is why they have named their second album Arena. The “arena” referenced here is both real and metaphorical.
There is a sentiment given voice on this album that in order to preserve one’s identity as a queer person, one must engage in a constant struggle and balancing act. A battle that attempts to claim steady ground in the fluctuating current of presenting one’s self as a subject with the agency as well as one’s one greatest masterpiece, and the projections, degrading sexualization, and objectification that such a display of will elicits from the wider culture.
Arena is a much harder album than Pixel Grips’s previous releases, something that the band readily attributes to the experience of living through 2020, an absolute nightmare for most people the indignities of which were intensified to aneurysm inducing levels of frustration when we were all asked to bear witness to celebrities and do-nothing, politicians telling everyone that “we’re all in this together” over social media from their visibly posh homes and condos, while the rest of country was forced to ponder how it would even be possible to afford rent and basic necessities after all available sources of income had been cut off due to the pandemic.
EBM bombs like “Alphapussy” slap like a leather crop on bare skin and express a quantum of sexual frustration that is heavy enough to collapse a star. The nightmare house track “Demon Chaser,” featuring Chicago-local queer personality Monāe, feels like a musical interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, where the descent through each ring of Hell reveals a new cornucopia of kink and enticing self-indulgence. Goth industrial tracks like “Dancing On Your Grave” keep the mood heavy, balancing out the lighter touch of ghostly synth-wave explorations like “Pursuit.”
You still might not be able to hit the clubs in most places around the country, but no one’s going to stop you from pouring yourself a chalice of sparkling wine and cranking up Arena in your apartment this weekend.
Robert Finley – Sharecropper’s Son (Easy Eye Sound)
Sharecropper’s Son is both the name of Robert Finley’s latest album and a very literal description of the man who made it. Robert’s family were sharecroppers down in Louisiana during the first half of the 20th Century. If you don’t know what that was like, I encourage you to read up on it. I don’t time for a history lesson today, but long story short, it was not a fun way of making a living.
Robert developed an interest in music at a young age, and after returning home from a stint in the army, he worked as a carpenter and began playing blues, soul, and gospel semi-professionally. That is, until glaucoma robbed him of his eyesight and forced him to retire. Robert continued to busk, however, and in 2015, he was spotted by some artist advocates with Music Maker Relief Foundation while performing outside of an Alabama music festival.
The kind folks over at MMRF helped Robert get his name out there again and passed his music around to some warm-hearted industry types who could help him break back into music as a profession. Now 67, Robert has two Dan Auerbach-produced albums to his name, one of which is Sharecropper’s Son.
Your mileage may vary, but to me, this is some of Robert’s best work yet, as well as one of the best country albums of the year. I particularly like the blues-chord brace and hard-times shuffle of “Country Boy” and howling, soul-funk downpour of “Starting To See,” that latter of which will sweep you up in a rising tide of clear-eyed hope.
Now let this be a lesson to all you kiddos out there. Tenacity can sometimes pay dividends, even when you’ve been dealt a bad hand.
Ridgeway – Give (Self-Released)
Someone whose musical taste I generally trust described Ridgeway’s sound to me as “punkgaze.” My own, initial impression of their music was to tag it as some kind of emocore, but with how hotly contested that particular label has been as of late, it’s best to avoid dropping the “e” word if you can help it. Ridgeway appears to agree, telling Surviving the Golden Age that they sometimes tell people that they sound like Nirvana, and other times, the Cure. This is both very funny, and not wrong.
Ridgeway’s sound on their most recent album, Give, has an understated intensity to it. There are big, booming guitars that reveal themselves like blooming orchids. Drunken melodies that wash by you in hazy shades of blues and greens atop grooves that are as steady as a stone in a stream. “Hilstreet” wraps brassy driving rhythms in lavender soft guitars in order to appetizing spill hammering hooks like crushed valium all over the chipped and tiled floor of your heads interior, and “Soothing” has an urgent and torturing element to its hot, windy drafts of pert and emphatic guitar chords.
Ridgeway’s Give dropped a while back, but they’re working on some new material, so consider this your invitation to brush up on their sound ahead of their next release. Have at it!
Las Hiedras – Contradicciones (Self-Released)
Las Hiedras are an Argentinian punk band fronted by three women with a phenomenal amount of attitude: bassist Lau and guitarists Mar and Maru, all of whom sing, shout, and antagonize as if hearts were on the verge of exploding and they have to get every last one of their thoughts, grievances, and secrets out before the clock in their tickers hit kablamo!
On their debut LP Contradicciones, Las Hiedras refreshingly revive ’90s era Lookout Records style skate-punk and late-’70s, British power pop. Some people may say that’s basically the same thing. I say Tomato, tomahto, and punks, punx.
Fans of Mr. T Experince, Groovie Ghoulies, Auntie Christ, the Buzzcocks, and the Undertones are going to find a lot of this record to their liking. There are also some nods to riot girl on Contradicciones in the form of some early Sleater-Kinny reminiscent grooves and vocal work of “Nada de vos” and the slicing leads on “Ya no soy.”
What really helps tie these songs together, though, is the horn section. Yes, these three punk rock heroines are backed by an alto sax that provides eccentric counter melodies and smooth, brassy textures that help to distinguish this album from all others in its lane of punk revival.
Let Las Hiedras creep up your garden wall and into the drain trough of your heart. You’ll be glad you did.
Monobody – Comma (Sooper Records)
Chicago post-rock and jazz fusion group Monobody celebrate the growth they’ve experienced as artists and acknowledge the delicate balance of personalities and talents required to make a band work (and work well), on their third LP, Comma. In keeping with the theme of beautiful-but-fragile things, every track on Comma is named for a different species of butterfly.
“Sylphina” captures a wondrously fluttery quality in the interplay between Conor Mackey thin and bright guitar work and Colin Clauson’s flowy, patterned synth melodies. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya’s driving but dynamic drum work is allowed to entirely set the pace with delightful results on the bombastically palatial “Atala.” Elsewhere, the helixing grooves of bassists Al Costis and Steve Marek give tracks like the curious and indulgent “Mimic” a deeply conversational tone.
Monobody really hits their stride when the talents of their respective players mesh into a single, seamless thread, best exemplified by the space-age, lo-fi future funk of “Harvester” and the nimbus surfing, soul-search of “Cloudless Sulphur.”
Monbody’s latest LP is probably one of the more unique records released this past spring. Your only viable excuse for not listening to it is if you’re in an actual comma.
TEKE::TEKE – Shirushi (Kill Rock Stars Records)
What started out as a tribute to famed Japanese guitarist and surf rock pioneer Takeshi Terauchi eventually evolved into a seven-piece, psychedelic extravaganza with a lush, cinematic character. TEKE::TEKE are a Montreal-based band that include a number of members who were actually born in Japan, and whose combination of talents and insights truly transcends regional differences as well as the limitations of linear time.
The music on their debut album Shirushi at times suggests that it has been lifted wholly from the specific combinations of soul, surf, and psychedelia that permeated the popular music of Japan in the ’60s and ’70s, but with a warped, playful, and openly mischievous quality that could only be possible in a world in which Cibo Matto and Stereolab exist as antecedents.
“Kala Kala” has a melody that leaps around willfully and slips between the cracks in its own foundation only to reappear at unexpected intervals and in disguise, as if having fallen through a trap door in the ceiling and into your path by mistake. “Barbara” ambushes you in a hall of mirrors where a staged concert is also being filmed, presumably for a ’90s Japanese sitcom, where the clashing sensations of lights, sounds, and on cue audience reactions quickly cause you to lose touch with reality and set adrift to float through what feels like one of Paul McCartney’s daydreams.
Oddly, “Barbra” isn’t even the most sinister-sounding track on the album; that honor goes to the thorny weft and sticky swing of the ominous slow burn “Kizashi.” Sinister is not the aim on Shirushi though, variety is, as the expansive sparkling latitudes of “Sarabande” and the sandstorm of sonics that is “Meikyu” should make clear.
Shirushi is a vibrant and unique album that you stop whatever you are doing right now and give your full attention to. I know that’s a lot to ask in this day and age, but trust me; it’s worth it.
Spectral Wound – A Diabolic Thirst (Profound Lore Records)
Spectral Wound have really stepped it up for their third LP, A Diabolic Thirst. The Montreal band have markedly honed their ability to write a riff. The song structures feel all-around tighter than on their previous releases, as do the performances. And the melodic elements of their melodic black metal sound flow with unnerving consequence, like the wind rippling through the edges of a funeral shrowd, laid over someone who should be dead, but who you have the sneaking suspicion is not.
Spectral Wound have advanced enough in their style on A Diabolic Thirst, that I think it’s even fair to say that they’ve transcended most of the Dissection comparisons that you could have lobbed at them earlier in their career. On this release, Spectral Wound has become a genuinely evil and loathsome magus of the dark arts of sound, one who is striking their own path through the wilderness that is black metal’s entry point into the human soul.
You can and should follow them. Although, be forewarned. The challenge is not in tracking the arch of Spectral Wound’s passage, but in finding your way back in their new home.
Led to the Grave – Pray for Death (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
Massachusetts death metal band Led to the Grave packs a lot of into their latest EP, Pray For Death. So much, in fact, that it’s hard to believe that it’s only two tracks long! Hearing that, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that each of these songs have a LOT of parts. That’s not what’s important, though. What matters is how all these parts come together. By god, to they come together.
Frankenstein knew not a monster as hideous as the golem that Led to the Grave have raised before you here. This unforgivingly brutal album will scar your meager flesh in ways that will cause several reconstructive surgeons to quit their profession in shock and frustration.
Pray For Death begins the carnage with the ruthlessly rotten death-thrash of the title track, and then proceeds to zip you up for delivery to the coroner on the eviscerating “No Salvation” which combines harsh, At the Gates style melo-death with the pulverizing thrust of Kreator into a perfect storm of harrowing riffs and steel cutting grooves that will unmake you where you stand. This album is a fucking beast!
CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP – Tarantula Daydream (Self-Released)
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, it becomes apparent that you haven’t heard shit. CHOP x7 are an anarcho-industrial-grindcore project whose songs are comprised entirely of synthesizers, scraped together samples, drum loops, and someone shrieking into a microphone with the gain turned all the way up. It’s completely bonkers and indisputably savage.
It’s low-hanging fruit, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s accurate—CHOP x7 sounds like the Locust having a nervous breakdown. The project’s latest LP, Tarantula Daydream has a discernable animal-rights agenda, in addition to taking a deserved aim at cops, bootlickers, racists, racist apologists, aging hipsters, Q-people, social media personalities, and large, vertical slices of the American populace who could credibly be described as either purposefully sheltered and willfully ignorant.
It’s a little incredibly how many people the person behind this project identifies as in need of a good scolding. They are expressing a lot of valid frustration, though, and it’s pretty cathartic to witness. And this is all besides the actual music on Tarantula Daydream, which, as I said before, is just bananas in the best kind of way. Harsh, menacing, dynamic, and idiosyncratically composed. I’m here for it, folks. I may listen to nothing else for the rest of the day.