5 Montreal Bands You Should Listen To Now

This month marks an important date in the realm of music: the tenth anniversary ofArcade Fire’sFuneral—an album that would go on to define a new era of suburban dwelling and independent rock, while also shining the limelight onto one of the most overlooked and vibrant music scenes in North America. Here’s a list of five up-and-coming Montreal acts you should check out.

1. The Besnard Lakes—The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night: “And This Is What We Call Progress”
The Besnard Lakes are living proof that buzz can sometimes take awhile to build. Formed in 2003 around the husband and wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, the psychedelic quartet has been releasing lush, atmospheric shoegaze rock for more than a decade. But, these Montreal experimentalists’ unyielding and brave pursuit of the complicated and unprecedented has resulted in some of the era’s best under-the-radar albums and secret gems.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/thebesnardlakes


2. Half Moon Run—Dark Eyes:“Call Me In The Afternoon”
The band’s confessional and raw songwriting and gorgeous harmonies have earned them comparisons to indie rock legends Of Monsters And Men,Local NativesandYoung The Giant. But the group’s reputation as a live band precedes them. Half Moon Run’s performances, while oversized, maintain an open sense of intimacy and addd a layer of depth that showcases the group’s advanced arrangements and instrumental techniques.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/halfmoonrun


3. CTZNSHP—Doom Love: “Heartbreak Kids”
With choruses as sharp as their cheekbones and attire, it wasn’t hard to fall for Montreal newbies CTZNSHP—but this self-released single and opening track from the group’s debut LP demonstrates an intriguing sense of maturity and instrumental wisdom. Formed around a soaring melody, the track mixes hazy dream-pop rhythms with fuzzy crunch cymbals for five billowing minutes of prolonged electronic-rock euphoria.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/ctznshp


4. Smokes—Unlucky EP: “Deer In Headlights”
These hardcore Canadian outcasts formed this reckless indie experiment in 2012, but the sore-throat yowls and jangly guitar lines on the trio’s debut The Unlucky EP sound like lost transmissions from the underground rock scene that gaveModest Mouseits career jump start. “Deer In Headlights” is an orchestral and dramatic meltdown of electric guitar fuzz and soaring violin solos that walks fine line between a musical breakdown and total transcedence.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/smokesmusic?ref=br_tf


5. Our Friend And The Spiders—Walk Me Out: “Your Ghost”
Montreal’s answer toKings Of Leon, Our Friend And The Spiders writes catchy, post-punk rock tunes that take you back to the likes 2008’sOnly By The NightorSpoon‘sGa Ga Ga Ga Ga. The quartet’s anthemic choruses and triply guitars, paired with frontman Mathieu Morin’s peppy, yet firm voice, make a play for our hearts and minds in this introduction track “Your Ghost.” May be too early to call the game, but sounds like another victorious battle cry in the ongoing Canadian indie renaissance.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/oftsmusic?ref=br_tf

5 Songs You Must Hear Before August 2014 Ends

Sometimes the world of rock can get noisy and chaotic as hundreds of hopeful up-and-comers and experienced legends release new material each month. Don’t fret about filtering through it all though. Here’s a list of five song releases in August that you should listen to before the month comes to a close.

1. Iceage: “The Lord’s Favorite”

The first release from Iceage since last year’sWounded Hearts has all the hallmark heavyweight punches of the Copenhagen punk quartet’s previous material. Jagged, rickety guitar riffs? Jive drums? A woozy sense of nostalgia? All present and in full, proper form. But frontman Elias Rønnenfelt’s lucid and raw vocals (I look into your eyes/ This is hard, bewildered stare/ Part of me wants to hurt you) and churning industrial guitar progressions hint at a darker undercurrent of doom and gloom for the group’s forthcoming work. We’re excited.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.


2. Alt-J—This Is All Yours: “Every Other Freckle”

English math rock trio Alt-J know that the true soundtrack to the panicky buzz of young love and lust isn’t bubblegum pop and falsetto-riddled soul, but rather a taste of jagged and disoriented rock. And fortunately “Every Other Freckle” strikes the right balance for the latter, walking the tightrope between moody synths, wiry guitar lines and full-out fuzz meltdowns.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

3. Happyness—Anything I Do Is All Right: “You Come To Kill Me”

South London trio Happyness has been one of the best discoveries from this year’s summer tour and festival circuit, blasting out a knockout array of lo-fi, surfer-rock, ‘90s-based hooks and breezy symphonies. Happyness’ latest release “You Come To Kill Me” – a bonus track on the group’s upcoming EP—continues to spread the joy. Kicking off with a whirl of Pavement-styled guitar swipes before trampling through a jungle of high-speed riffs, the single thrives in its straightforward edge, but it also incorporates enough humor below the surface to have listeners coming for more.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

4. The Wytches—Annabel Dream Reader: “Digsaw” 

Album opener “ Digsaw” is the first glimpsee into the year’s most mystery-drenched group’s bubbling cauldron of psychedelic rock. Wytches vocalist, Kristian Bell sounds aggressive and brass as he sings out, “You spin and you wind through the canyons and find/ that you span right back where you started,” over a fury of strutting drums and guitar trembling. The new album has once again brewed up quite the buzz for the English three-piece outfit—yet, their success remains underpinned by an unspoken knowledge and acceptance that the group has still yet to peak.


You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

5. The Color And Sound—Peace of Mind: “Cigarettes”

Straddling post-punk and campfire folk, The Color and Sound is a wildly experimental collaboration that results in a loud and captivating sound. The Boston six-piece spent most of 2013 honing its catalogue for the re-release of its debutThe Spring tour EP,but now, with the ink still drying on their recently singed deal with Black Numbers, The Color and Sound release the first warning shot of their second album. “Cigarettes” is a loud, high-energy slab of punk-folk, but the group manages to maintain a sense of intimacy and closeness between the loud and thudding drums and guitar charges with perfected harmonies and raw vocals.


You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

5 Songs You Must Hear Before July 2014 Ends

Sometimes the world of rock can get noisy and chaotic as hundreds of hopeful up-and-comers and experienced legends release new material each month. Don’t fret about filtering through it all though. Here’s a list of five song releases in July that you should listen to before the month comes to a close.

1. Drenge—Drenge: “People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck”

The debut album from Infectious Music’s latest champions—twenty-something-year-old brothers and rock ‘n’ roll fanatics,Eionand Rory Loveless ofDrenge—fits perfectly into the label’s catalogue of melodic, over-driven alternative rock. Opening track “People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck” is a trashingheadbangerof careening guitar solos, crashing cymbals and vocal growling. Now, that’s one impressive introduction.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

2. TheVaselines–V forVaselines: “One Lost Year”

They crawled out of Glasgow in 1986 armed withshogaze-guitarsand glitzy, fuzz-pop beats.Kurt Cobain’s endorsement of the duo as his “favorite songwriters of all time,” made TheVaselinesan instant household name, but it’s the Scottish pair’s affable indie charm and knack for composing timeless, playful hooks that has reserved them a seat in the spotlight—even after 28 years. Welcome back.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

3. Twin Peaks—Wild Onion: “Strawberry Smoothie”

“In the blizzard honey, you’re a hound/ You’re headed nowhere with eyes glued to the ground,” breathsTwin Peak’s frontmanCaidenLake James over sonic-garage hooks that ebb and swell until they’re eclipsed by a violent burst of woozy, guitar transcendence.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

4. Interpol— ElPintor: “All The Rage Back Home”

Over the years,Interpol’s calling card has always been post-punk melodrama— shared both out of the sincerity and artistic arrogance. Although the first cut from the New York indie-rock prince’s forthcoming albumElPintoroffers up an unprecedented sense of humility (“I keep falling, maybe half the time”) from frontman Paul Banks, “All the Rage Back Home” still demands rapt attention from its listeners withgothed-outswipes, shrill guitars and piercing vocal support.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

5. Bloody Knees— Stitches: “Daydream”

“I’m drunk, I’m giving up/ I’m afraid I’ve become stuck,” growls Bloody Knees’ frontman Bradley Griffiths on “Daydream,” the first track to be revealed by this English quartet. Between searing riffs and blasts of pop-punk euphoria, big things await.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

10 Boston Bands You Should Listen To Now

The transient nature of Boston has inspired a diverse, cutting edge and restless music community unlike any other. From the basements of Somerville to the bars of Cambridge, here’s a list of ten up-and-coming acts you should check out from this cultural hotspot.

1. The Field Effect—“Jenny (It’s Getting Late)”

The first official release from The Field Effect since its 2012 debut LPCartographyis a staggeringly confident and high-energy slab of indie-rock ecstasy, with a story line that perfectly captures the all-too-familiar, cliché moments of young adulthood. “It’s getting late and I don’t want to be alone,” croons guitarist/vocalist Doug Orey, “She’s looking at me and I want to take her home.”https://www.facebook.com/thefieldeffect

Website: https://www.facebook.com/thefieldeffect


2. Rebuilder—Rebuilder EP: “Everything That I Hate”

“I see the cop cars/My head is spinning,” shouts Sal Ellingto on the opening track of Rebuilder’s 2013, self-titled EP: an outburst of dissonance, reverb and ’90s skater-rock. Fortunately, the song’s structure is not as troubled as its protagonist. Arranged around big hooks and a sing-a-long chorus, “Everything That I Hate” is the ultimate post-punk comfort food.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/RebuilderBoston?ref=br_tf


3. Yellabird—Debts: “Tired Eyes”

Brilliantly loud and raucous Boston two-pieceYellabirdreturn with this thudding, bluesy cut from its forthcoming LP,Debts. A promising sign of things to come.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/yellabird.band


4. Kal Marks—Life is Murder:“Life is Murder”

What started as a solo musical effort on the part of New Hampshire native Carl Shane has transformed into a wailing (and deeply-tormented) musical wildcat that reigns over the jungle of Boston’s grunge scene.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/kalmarks


5. Twin Berlin—Sleezebrain: “Buzzkill”

“Raw and belligerent rock born out of anxiety and self doubt, executed with a confident, sarcastic swagger,” reads the description on garage-rock outfit Twin Berlin’s Facebook page. Rightfully described, the Boston trio’s music catalogue is a destructive storm of piercing howls, thundering percussions and rumbling guitars. Don’t say they didn’t warn you.


6. Goddamn Draculas: “Ham Trapper”
Grab your torch and pitchfork! For Goddamn Draculas’ premiere single is clearly the work of some dark, twisted magic: it’s a dingy, gothic stomper saturated in eery growls, cascading metal guitar riffs and glam-punk thrills.
Website: https://www.facebook.com/goddamndraculas

8. BlackbuttonAM Clouds, PM Sun:  “AM Clouds, PM Sun

The first taste of Blackbutton’s “AM Clouds, PM Sun”—released by the grunge-rockers in February as a part of itsStripper Series—might just scorch your tongue. Burning heat rips through the near-four minutes of feedback explosions and industrial guitars on this torching single. Ah. Hurts so good.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/BlackbuttonMusic

9. The Color and SoundThe Spring Tour EP: “Graves”

While many have declared emo-pop a dying cause (along with Pete Wentz’s signature, slick hairstyle circa 2005), The Color and Sound aren’t ready to let the party die just yet. Punchy guitar rock hooks matched with call-and-response vocals keep listeners hooked on this closing number of the group’s debut LP, but don’t distract from their’ true charm and wit as they chant out clever one-liners like,“My head is a cave/Where I’ve digging graves for you and me.”

Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheColorAndSound


10. Krill—Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears: “Sweet Death”

Krill has come a long way since first stumbling out of its headquarters in Jamaican Plain. Armed with a unique brand of experimental punk-garage noise and backed by the likes of Pitchfork, StereoGum and Allston Pudding, the trio has become a beloved staple of Boston’s music scene.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/krillforever

10 Ithaca Bands You Should Listen To Now

Consistently ranked as a top destination for college students, Ithaca, N.Y. has gained over the years for its “natural beauty, intellectual stimulation and small-town charm.” But another of Ithaca’s alluring draws is its fabulous, homegrown music scene. Here’s a list of up and coming acts and songs you should check out from this booming city.

1. Second Dam—Swimming: “Brick By Brick” 
Lead singer K.C. Weston is a fierce, yowling force of nature on this ambitious single from Ithaca College indie collective, Second Dam’s 2013 LP,Swimming.

2. Monoculture—Wreathed Youth: “Laying Down/Tremblin’” 
The upstate New York power duo’s debut LP,Wreathed Youth,is stacked withThe Civil Warscall-and-return-style harmonies and breathtaking melodies. Sweetest of all is this easy-rock jam, which sounds like a radiant slice ofAni DiFrancocirca 2000 preserved in a jar of honey.

3. Jimkata—Feel in Light: “Beat the Curse”
The fifth LP from electro-rock gurus Jimkatawith its warm, breezy cuts like album opener, “Beat the Curse”helped jumpstart spring in this gorge-filled town. Listen now and you’ll be humming these pop jams til’ Thanksgiving.

4. Bombtree—“Doppleganger”
Josh Burns and Co. are one of the most badass, energetic live rock bands in upstate New York right now. Need proof? Check out this Bombtree high-energy, garage rock single, which serves up a meaty rhythm section smothered in a thick layer of punk and pop toppings.

5. Gilmore boys—Future Unlike Any Past: “The Light Inside”
Listening to this slow-burner from Ithaca via Boston contemporary-folk trio Gilmore Boys is the equivalent of sinking into a warm bath while being serenaded by a smokey-voiced, violin-playing chorus of Alex-turner look alikes. Ah, life is good.

6. Batista—Mixtape: “Urban Disposal”
Of all the lo-fi rock gems Ithaca/Brooklyn fearsome-threesome have spit out since the inception of Batista, this quirky, tongue-in-cheek,Dinosaur Jr.-esque thread has become an instant favorite.

7.Participation Trophy—Dead Batteries/Gold Spray Paint: “You Don’t Even Deserve This Song”
As Pat Benatar reminded us, love is a battlefield. And apparently no one knows that better than Participation Trophy’s founder, James Manton, who hit us with this new, heartfelt folk-punk ballad. “I can’t see straight anymore/After what you did to me.” Hurts so good.

 8.The Bibliographers—“Andromeda”
Enjoy Tame Impala/Alt-J? Check out this brand new, local trio—a spaced-out project based in shoegaze, indie, folk, explosive electronica, and good ol’ rock’n’roll.

9. Wolf House—Wolf House: “Young Goodman Brown”
Acoustic lovers, brace yourselves. The latest release from Wolf House is majorly mesmerizing—a spooky late night brew of dazed strumming, trembling vocals and dreamy hooks.

10. Mouth to Mouth: “Teeth”
Indie shredders Mouth to Mouth have landed on the Ithaca scene with tightly wound freak-glitch hooks, rolling bass-lines and scuzzy guitars. Let there be fuzz!

Purchase a CD and buy concert tickets from each band’s website, and let us know in the comments which tracks made your list!



5 Songs You Must Hear Before June 2014 Ends

Sometimes the world of rock can get noisy and chaotic as hundreds of hopeful up and coming acts, alongside music legends, release new material each month. Don’t fret about filtering through it all though. Here’s a list of five song releases in June that you should listen to before the month comes to a close.

1. Parquet CourtsSunbathing Animal: “Instant Disassembly” Even heard through the inflated expectations and demands brought on by 2013’s indie-smash hit Light Up Gold, Parquet Court’s sophomore album is an undeniable success. While the group has never shied away from over-the-top guitar storms and experimentation, as evidenced in its bold, lead singles, “Bodies” and “Black and White,” the album’s true magic is tucked away in its final moments. With cathartic crescendos, bombastic rhythms and outlandish hooks, “Instant Disassembly” pushes the alternative rockers’ limit from rugged provocation to deep introspection—propelling Parquet Courts to its most ecstatic and grandiose height to date.

2. Spoon – The Rent I Pay A soulful, stompy little teaser from Spoon’s forthcoming album They Want My Soul, “The Rent I Pay” comes on like a honky-tonk revival of Iggy Pop’s “Some Weird Sin.” Blasting guitars meet hard-edged rhythms as Britt Daniels delivers a sensuous, grooving masterpiece, yelping out: “Everybody knows just where you been going/ Everybody knows the faces you been showing/ And if that’s your answer, no I ain’t your dancer.” Clear-cut and in-your-face loud, Austin’s favorite indie-rock crew are back dishing out a tasty slice of sour indie-rock for its opening course.

3. Circa Waves – Circa Waves EP: “Young Chasers” From jittery guitars to rousing choruses, these Liverpool natives never needed a hype machine to make their latest single worthy of repeat spins. A Strokes-worthy blast of upbeat indie-pop clatter, “Young Chasers” sees Circa Waves frontman Kieran Shuddall’s disembodied vocals build from a low rumble to a charging overhaul of yelping and sugar-rush hooks.

4. Foxing—The Albatross: “Rory” Foxing’s debut is long on ambition, with sweeping guitar ballads and unique piano crescendos that rival the grandeur of U2 and Coldplay. But what sets these Missouri post-punk princes apart from their influences and inspiration is the big-hearted warmth and sincerity of Conor Murphy, who maintains a heartbreaking sense of humility and vulnerability as he screeches out the track’s closing line: “Why don’t you love me back?”

5. Jack White—Lazaretto: “Just One Drink” More brilliance from the bottomless musical vaults of rock maestro, Jack White. “Just One Drink” is the centerpiece of White’s follow-up album Lazaretto—a beautiful, enduring and groundbreaking monument in the modern blues-revival. Constructed around super-charged riffs and skyscraper-sized guitar crescendos, White’s new and energized sound is louder than ever.

Purchase a CD and buy concert tickets from each band’s website, and let us know in the comments which tracks made your list!

LIVE REVIEW: Morrissey, Boston, MA

Countless love affairs have been born in the low, sultry echoes of Morrissey’s croon. The ex-Smiths frontman and his poetic tales of despair have inspired everything from cartoons to off-Broadway plays, and even the relationship between Tom Hansen and Summer Finn in 500 Days of Summer. Above all though, Morrissey’s music has brought to the world an unbreakable sense of camaraderie and intimacy in a group of outcasts, loners and hopeless romantics often shunned by the mainstream.

The British heartthrob’s longstanding importance and legacy was clear this past weekend as a crowd of more than 2,500 shuffled into Boston’s Opera Houseon Saturday, June 7 to catch a glimpse of the mope-rock king. Even today–nearly three decades since he first took the indie-rock scene by storm–Morrissey was still greeted with the same level of commitment, hysteria and adoration that he received during his early musician days.

Often considered one of the most cinematic (and not without mention,controversial) concerts, the evening started off surprisingly low-key. With no opening act scheduled to replace singer-songwriter Kristeen Young, who had, just days earlier, announced her departure from Morrissey’s tour, audience members were left to stare at an empty stage for nearly 90 minutes.

Finally, however, the magical hour of 9 p.m. struck. The lights in the theater went out and the curtains peeled away to reveal a photoshopped backdrop of Queen Elizabeth giving the middle finger—igniting a booming applause, which, like the night’s star, never wavered.

Morrissey came bustling out to the title-track of his former (and to the dismay of many, never-to-be-again) band’s most iconic album,The Queen is Dead. Oozing with self-confidence, Morrissey enraptured fans as he whipped up dust with his microphone cord, pranced across the stage in manic outbursts, only to dramatically collapse in the spotlight to belt out: “Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?”

Pausing just long enough for guitar changes, Morrissey and his political rock crusaders charged full-speed ahead through the set list, constantly switching between songs everybody likes (“Trouble Loves Me”), to hidden gems that hardly anybody ever notices (“Certain People I Know”). Occasionally, the brooding singer would take a break from his heaving melancholy and swooping ballads to introduce a few sharp selections from his forthcoming LPWorld Peace Is None of Your Business, the title track of which features the bold lines: “Police will stun you with their stun guns/ Or they’ll disable you with tasers/ That’s what government’s for”.

Also striking a political note was the doom-laded “Meat is Murder.” Accompanied by provocative and grisly footage of slaughterhouses, Morrissey and his band plunged through churning guitar solos and pounding drums for a dark, nightmarish scene that fully captures the iconic nature and spirit of Morrissey and his emotionally-charged gigs.

The most mesmerizing sequence of the night, however, came in the form of a double-shot encore, where the soulful crooner took to the tinkling piano of the Smiths’ classic “Asleep,” only to crank the noise back up for the rowdy “First of the Gang to Die,” where fans, as part of tradition began to scale the stage, in attempt to get a hug from their beloved, acid-tongued champion.

Oh, Morrissey, old friend, may your light never go out.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert ticketshere.

ALBUM REVIEW: Parquet Courts ‘Sunbathing Animal’

Everything got a lot livelier when Andrew Savage and his Texas punk gang showed up, bustling with attitude and shooting off wisecracks far wittier and faster than any band out there. From inception,Parquet Courtshad declared only one goal for the group’s career: to overwhelm and overthrow a music scene starved for “emotional honesty” with raging guitar freak-outs, thought-provoking lyrics and a swooping sense of melodrama, as seen in popular band  singles, such as  “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time.”

But even after releasing the 2012 long-winded epicLight Up Goldand burning up the underground tour circuit, and not without mention, the coveted stage ofLate Night with Jimmy Fallon, it turns out Parquet Courts were just running a warmup lap. For its sophomore effortSunbathing Animal, the Brooklyn-based quartet charges through a hot-oozing stream of hard-hitting rock grooves and battering-ram guitar blasts.

Sunbathing Animal opens with three minutes of skittish, zig-zagging and eccentric fury. “Bodies” is the sort of uproar most bands would want to place strategically before or just following the album’s climax and mid-point, but for the hyperactive and raging Parquet Courts, every song represents a new height and peak moment for the group. And, so forward they march.

Second track in line is “Black and White”—a bluesy rock gem, which takes a dark and unexpected turn when Parquet Courts frontman changes paths on the six-lane highway of his mind, shifting from provocation to introspection. “Is the solitude I seek a trap/ Where I’ve been blindly led?/ Tell me, where, then do I go instead?” the indie-rock crooner howls out, before being swept up by a dizzying lo-fi rush that eases listeners into the free-ranging and sprawling nature of the album’s middle core songs, like “Dear Ramona” and “She’s Rollin’.”

For the title track, Parquet Courts snap off cruise control and press full force on the gas to reach the brain-scrambling pace of this four-minute, power-chord mosher. Built on splintering guitar leads and dueling riffs, “Sunbathing Animals” has a rabid energy and crazed exuberance that just may earn it the title of being Parquet Court’s most inventive and experimental single to date. Nevertheless, the real highlight of this 13-song masterpiece comes in the form of aVelvet Underground-esque guitar ballad. Lasting just over seven minutes, “Instant Disassembly” is a breezy, slow number with a old-time-rock edge, anchored by a downtempo bass line and melodic strumming, and later joined by a forlorn organ progression, where Savage whimpers: “Catch me now as I sink into darkness I thought to be extinct/ Shield my eyeballs as the curtains were torn and shed a light so bright/Shining like the day I was born/Mamasita, take from me what I stole.” Its near-perfect electric heartache that will inspire a public love affair not only with the blues rock revival and experimentation, but Parquet Court for years to come.

Sunbathing Animalis scheduled for release on June 3. You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

Source: http://www.infectiousmagazine.com/album-re...

5 Songs You Must Hear Before May Ends

Sometimes the world of rock can get noisy and chaotic as hundreds of hopeful up and coming acts, alongside music legends, release new material each month. Don’t fret about filtering through it all though. Here’s a list of five song releases in May that you should listen to before the month comes to a close.

1. Brave Bird—T-Minus Grand Gesture: “Rekindle”

Brave Bird first first rose to popularity in 2011 with a slew of comparisons to the emo-rock kingsBrand New, but the Ann Arbor trio really made its own name in this sweeping guitar stunner. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Lieu’s sultry voice slinks along the languid guitars as he pours all his self-loathing and loneliness into the autobiographical tune. The awkward perils of teenage angst have not been displayed in such agonizing specificity since the early days ofWeezer. Enjoy.


2. Sharon Van Etten—Are We There: “Your Love Is Killing Me”

The Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s recent fourth albumAre We Theresees the starlet embrace larger-than-life, crushing power ballads and float through a bottomless river of heartache. This track—built on a melancholy string of piano notes and forlorn drum thudding, steers Etten’s aggressive vocals as she howls: “Break my legs so I won’t walk to you/ Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you/ Burn my skin so I can’t feel you.” The princess of break-up soundtracks strikes again.


3. The Magic Gang—“She Won’t Ghost”

This latest track from Brighton’s The Magic Gang may be their most straight-ahead rock single to date—but with their twisted touch, it’s still safely off the mainstream radar. Frontman Kristian Smith sing-a-long hooks and Angus Taylor’s body-slamming guitar riffs are smothered in a sheet of dark cymbal noise, cooking up a dark classic treat so deliciously messy that listeners will beg for seconds.


4. Merchandise—USA ’13: “No You and Me”

Merchandise’s music is often met with a hyphenated “post”—post rock, post-punk, and even post-hardcore. But, “No You and Me” paints the Tampa trio as innovators of new genre, which thrives in a pool of untamed hyperactivity and emotion. Clocking in just over 6 minutes, the track takes its time teasing out the knots and tangles of its progressive hooks, before bursting to life in the final stretch with a grandiose-guitar swing.


5. Slow Club—Complete Surrender: “Tears of Joy”

Suddenly armed with juicy bubble-gum pop jangles and soulful lyrics—not to mention a new tinge of heartache blues—Sheffield folk-rock duo have grabbed national attention with this new, beautiful opener track from their upcoming, still-in-progress third album. A slow-burner, the single navigates through an artfully crafted hypnotic sprawl of disco-funk rhythms, electric guitar and trademark vocal interplay.

Fighting for Citizenship

By  | May 1st, 2014 | Buzzsaw Magazine


Military recruitment sends immigrants into combat

At the height of the Iraq War in 2007, Jesus Palafox was busy fighting his own personal battle in Chicago: navigating through the system of higher education in the United States as an undocumented citizen. Hoping to study at a four-year institution, Palafox recognized that he faced a monumental challenge of financing the entirety of his college tuition without financial aid or the support of state or student loans — and in many cases, the support of the community at large.


“My guidance counselor told me there’s no way I’m going to college,” Palafox said. “Right there, you have a barrier.”

Palafox is one of an estimated 2.1 million people who are placed in a state limbo following graduation from the U.S. public school systems, due to a lack of proper documentation, authorization and the financial mechanisms to seek higher employment or education in the country, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Recent discussions on Capitol Hill and across the nation have aimed to generate legislation to supplement this burgeoning sector of society. Of the biggest legislative namesakes is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — DREAM, which would allow undocumented young immigrants a chance at citizenship provided they attend college for at least two years or enlist in the military.

But the idea of the U.S. military acting as a fast track to citizenship has raised many ethical and moral questions, and has left even traditional immigration reform proponents asking what are the true intentions of the legislation, as well as who will benefit the most from it.

Over the last decade, America’s “All Volunteer Force” has been put to the test on whether it is a long-term sustainable system that can continue to retain and meet the country’s growing demand for military labor. With two long and increasingly unpopular conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and almost 1,000 military bases around the globe, the U.S. armed forces have been stretched to its limits.

The Pentagon has responded to this gradual decline and crisis in military recruitment with several techniques, ranging from tweaking ad campaigns, lowering recruitment standards and even increasing signing-bonuses. But beyond these Band-Aid solutions, the U.S. military has started to draw out a long-term strategy to maintain its massive global presence: immigrants and foreign nationals.

Going back to the Clinton administration in the ’90s, which oversaw the beginning years of an era of that would mark the largest migration in U.S. history, there was a recognition in the Pentagon that one of the largest and most promising military-age groups in the coming decades could be immigrants, both legal and undocumented.

The practice of recruiting and enlisting immigrants is nothing new for the country, which has traditionally filled critical roles and gaps in its ranks with immigrants, Margaret Stock, a retired Lt. Col. in the Military Police and current immigration lawyer at Cascadia Cross Border Law, said. In fact, Stock said, it is only in recent decades that the U.S. has severed its ties with this historical practice — adopting increasingly strict immigration policies and ramping up security on its borders due to perceived threats of national security from foreigners.

This, Stock said, has only further agitated the country’s “complex, bloated and arbitrary” immigration system, by cutting off a traditional pathway to citizenship. Additionally, it has also closed off the army from a growing and critical group of military-aged youth with the high-tech and foreign language skills necessary to maintain security in a globalized world.
“We could have stopped the attacks on 9/11, except that we didn’t have enough people who spoke foreign languages,” Stock said. “The U.S. had intercepted a whole bunch of communications from the terrorists talking about their plans of attacking the United States, but the interception hadn’t been translated because they didn’t have enough translators to listen to the recordings and translate them.”

In a time when the U.S. immigration system and military recruitment services are experiencing high stress, Stock said recently proposed legislation, such as the DREAM Act, could provide relief to both systems — offering recruiters access to a previously off-limits group and immigrants new opportunities to pave their way forward in the country.

Nevertheless, while the DREAM Act would offer unprecedented opportunities for undocumented immigrants, Rick Jahnkow, the program coordinator at Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, said its not entirely patriotism that has crafted the legislation, nor is it only a patriotic fervor that would drive undocumented youth to seek citizenship through the military if the bill were to pass. Rather, Jahnkow said legislation like the DREAM Act will create a loophole that only further exposes and exploits an already historically exploited socioeconomic class.

“Project YANO has now started looking at the immigration side of [militarization], because we see that as another community that is going to feel disproportionate pressure to carry the burden of war and militarism,” Jahnkow said.
Jahnkow said the military thrives off what is known as a “poverty draft” — a system of recruitment that sells the military as an attractive career option or steppingstone to further education in communities with either real or perceived limitations and options for mobility.

“What happens is that quite often people who are disadvantaged in terms of economics or education feel they have very few choices in the world,” Jahnkow said. “They will basically rule out being able to go to college and getting the benefit of having a degree. And then a recruiter will come along and convince and tell them that ‘you don’t have to go to college,’ ‘you don’t have to do these things,’ ‘you don’t have to worry about a job and income — I’ll provide that for you.’ And it sounds really good and attractive.”

Palafox said that as a high school student he was repeatedly approached by military recruiters in the hallways. He said the recruitment process continued outside of school, too. As a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public schools are required to share the contact information of enrolled students with military recruiters, unless the student’s parents submit an opt-out form — something that is not necessarily advertised. This resulted in a constant ringing in neighborhoods throughout the city as recruiters called, all with the same message:

“They asked me ‘What do you want to do?’ and ‘Where do you want to go for college?’” Palafox said. “And the first thing they would then tell me is that they would pay for it.”

While Palafox is barred from accepting any recruitment advances because of his citizenship status, he said that based on his experience, it is evident how the military puts more pressure on particularly vulnerable socio-economic groups throughout the Chicago Public Schools, which he described as one of the most “militarized” districts in the nation.

Immigrants and various ethnic groups in Chicago, Palafox said, have been the targets of mass militarization — or a process in which a community gradually comes to be controlled by or dependent on the military or militaristic values — in the school district. The militarization of the city’s immigrant and ethnic population, Palafox said, can be seen in everything from over policing in particular neighborhoods to the school district’s military education programs like the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or the Middle School Cadet Corps Cadet. According to the Chicago Public Schools Department, the city houses the largest JROTC program in the country, with more than 10,000 cadets, 93 percent who are African American or Hispanic, enrolled in programs at nearly half of district’s high schools as of February 2014.

In a school district of 400,545, the military has recognized its struggle to mass appeal to a critical group of military age youth. Palafox said he fears passing the DREAM Act with a military component was in many ways a “strategic move” to open the floodgates to an overlooked and untapped group of homegrown talent.

“In 2009, the Department of Defense did a study on how to enlist more Latinos and youth into the military,” Palafox said. “One of the things they found is that a lot of young people could join the service, but there was one problem: a lot of them were not residents. The DREAM Act really became a recruitment tool.”

Even with an education option, Palafox said the DREAM Act is not yet the progressive immigration reform the media and critics have heralded it to be. Without the creation of loan based financing or alternative programs for immigrants to help them understand their options, Palafox said, most beneficiaries of the DREAM Act will seek permanent residency through the military — fueling the economic force that currently threatens their daily lives with the fear of deportation.

Muting the Whistle

By Marissa Framarini | April 3rd, 2014 | Buzzsaw Magazine

How punishing whistleblowers undermines American democracy

It’s already 26 minutes into the Government Accountability Project’s American Whistleblower Tour stop at Syracuse University on Wednesday, March 27, when Thomas Drake first breaks his paralyzed trance from ground to scan the crowd that sits before him.

“You can’t understand Snowden without understanding me,” Drake declared, a 56-year-old former senior executive at the National Security Agency, in his opening words of the night. “You can’t understand what he has disclosed and exposed that has ignited a global conversation debate without understanding my case. In many, many respects, I was Snowden before Snowden. You just didn’t really hear about me.”

Drake sat tall and forward — his posture just as firm as his words. It’s the kind of cool and hardened demeanor that comes directly from years of retaliation, brutality and struggle after exposing the waste, abuse and fraud running rampant in the NSA back in the mid-2000s. Blowing the whistle on the agency would earn Drake a spot on the United States ever-growing list of enemies, as well as a 10-count indictment, which included five charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 — a piece of legislation intended to be used against spies. If convicted, Drake would have faced up to 35 years in prison.

Eventually, on the eve of his final court case, all the charges were dropped.

To Drake, though, his story is a part of something much larger than a court hearing — it’s a test on whether the nation’s expanding and increasingly secretive bureaucracy is beyond meaningful accountability. His fight is just one battle in a critical war between whistleblowers and journalists, who continue to push for a more open society, and a government, joined with various private and public organizations, who are far more committed to shrouding its activities. And it’s something that Drake fears will, like his court case, never fully air to the public.


For Thomas Drake, September 11, 2001 changed everything.
The day of the World Trade Center attack marked Drake’s first full day of work as a civilian employee at the NSA — an agency that was, in many ways, becoming obsolete. With the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the agency no longer had a clear target or mission. As Drake told The New Yorker, “Without the Soviet Union, it didn’t know what to do.” More problematic though was the NSA’s lagging technology, which failed to keep pace with the changing of times towards new digital technology and resulted in a mountain of data. The 9/11 attacks would highlight the United States’ failing security apparatus, leaving the NSA humiliated and scrambling to correct their “failure,” and meet the newfound and increased urgency for ramped up militarization and national security, both internationally and domestically.

In response, the United States government, in partnership with the NSA, would start to construct the foundations for the “Homeland” — a powerful and bloated national security state, which profits off ongoing war and thrives in secrecy.

But in a day and age of Wikileaks, secrecy is not something one just stumbles upon — it’s something that is created by strict government oversight and rule. While freedom of information has been an age-old battle, the Internet is changing rules, as well as raising the stakes. Lucy Dalglish, the former executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and current dean of the University of Maryland journalism school, said this resulted in a government crackdown over information.

“This debate and this problem have been going on forever. The difference is that there are far more classified documents than there were before. Classification decisions are being made too readily,” Dalglish said. “[The Government is] classifying way too much and you have got some knee-jerk reactions to what has been reported, and when people panic, they just sit on records more than they have in the past.”

Dalglish fears that this “far left oversight,” which incentivizes classification, has and will continue to deprive the public of important critical information they need to judge policy and operational systems, and allowing misconduct to go unchallenged. She said in this classification state, many rely on whistleblowers to come forward with this critical information.

The government has taken additional measures to ensure a culture of secrecy, however. Now engaged in what some critics are calling a “double-barreled” assault and war on whistleblowers and journalism, the Obama administration has overseen more prosecutions of whistleblowers than all other presidents combined. As the price of secrecy continues to rise, the administration continues its chokehold on the press, subjecting journalists to ramped-up surveillance and threats. From smear campaigns to high-profile and costly court cases, the government has set up a system of punishment for those who come forward with unpopular ideas and inconvenient facts.
It’s a form of political punishment that Drake knows all too well.

In the weeks following the 9/11 attacks and some of his first few moments with the NSA, Drake, a strong and open critic of the program, stood witness to the fundamental development of Trailblazer. This new system stripped the old programs of their unique security features, which aimed to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens by “anonymizing” and encrypting data until a warrant was issued. Trailblazer also required billions of extra dollars in funding, but nevertheless, it was the colossal system the NSA was looking for — granting absolute and total power to the agency.

Drake grew “disillusioned, then indignant,” by the awful truth that his own government was “committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” essentially “unchaining itself from the very constitution it had taken an oath to uphold.” Drake started to make his concerns known through sanctioned methods, by going to his superiors, filing complaints with the inspector general and even testifying in various courts and in front Congress.

However, Drake’s supervisors were not only dismissive to him, but fully complacent in the agency’s illegalities and prepared to fight against anyone who threatened to dismantle and what was being constructed as the basis for today’s multibillion dollar system of national security and surveillance.

“[There were] extraordinary costs that I paid within the system before I even went to the press. I was severely retaliated against since the early beginning.” Drake said.“There are enormously vested forces that do not want the status quo disturbed.”

Rather than finding support, Drake was met with retaliation, he said, in the form of verbal abuse, threats, eventual job termination, as well as a string of court trials, house raids and investigations. Furthermore, he was painted out to be an traitor and enemy of the state. Essentially, the NSA criminalized Drake and his disclosure of the NSA’s programs, which in and of themselves, were criminal.

Although Drake was eventually cleared of all charges, his reputation was already destroyed, being painted as a “traitor” of the United States.

“I had no career,” Drake said. “I was indicted before the court declared so. No other attorney would come to my defense. I had run out of money. I was bankrupt, broken, and blacklisted. Anybody that knew me in terms of my personal life, including family, shunned me.”

Jesselyn Radack, a former ethics attorney at the Department of Justice and now the legal adviser to both Drake and Edward Snowden, faced a similar reprisal when she disclosed in 2002 that there was what she believed to be an ethics violation during the interrogation of John Walker Lindh. Lindh is a United States citizen who joined the Taliban and was captured during the invasion of Afghanistan. Radack said to the GAP conference attendees that her decision to go to the media had numerous implications. Radack was referred to the State Bar Association, temporarily sidelining her legal career. She was also placed on the “No-Fly-List,” which is essentially created to bar individuals who pose a threat to intelligence reporting from flying into and out of the United States.

“I failed to realize that by turning over emails — unclassified emails — over to the media that I have unleashed the full force of the entire executive branch,” Radack said. “And if you think that’s an exaggeration, I would have you consider the fact that I was subsequently put under one of the first federal criminal leak investigations.”

As Radack told it, she has turned “radioactive.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Cloud Nothings ‘Here and Nowhere Else’

It took Cloud Nothings five years and three albums to finally perfect the melodic schizophrenia captured on Here and Nowhere Else—an 8-track compilation of fast guitars, amplified drum loops and dazed-out melodies.

Produced by John Congleton, who has worked with the likes of Dismemberment Plan and St. Vincent, the Cleveland trio ditch the sloppy aggressive song style of its 2012 groundbreaking LP Attack on Memory to revamp its sound into a 32-minute tightly wound, classic garage rock set list. Nevertheless, despite the clean cuts, the album is jam packed with twists and turns as Congleton presses an expansion of Cloud Nothings’ rhythmic palette. 

The album opens with white noise headbanger jams “Now Here In” and “Quiter,” which grind together to generate the raucous punk screamer “Psychic Trauma.” A standout track, “Psychic Trauma” starts as a slow paced, mid-tempo indie scuzz, until the chorus kicks in, unleashing a storm of electric guitar licks and thundering drums as lead singer Dylan Baldi sneers: “I can’t believe that what you’re telling me is true/ My mind is always wasted listening to you.” This music apocalypse experienced in “Psychic Trauma” sets a new, raw tone for the band, both emotionally and musically, providing the proper transition into the punk-fired ballads that dominate the second half of the album.

The Cloud Nothings wind down its bold return with “Pattern Walks,”the album’s longest, and arguably, heaviest track. Clocking in at just shy of seven and a half minutes, “Pattern Walks” stretches out with a seething guitar rumble and grumbling bass groove, running into a wall of hazy reverb and squelching feedback that segues into the charging drums introduction of the group’s foot stomping lead single “I’m Not Part of Me.”

The single showcases Cloud Nothings true and sincere potential—its rhythms stripped of excess, and Baldi’s lyrics both snappy and introspective. The track’s chorus demonstrates Baldi’s considerable growth as a lyricist, as he cries out, “Leave it all to memory of what we did when we were young/ And now you could just leave me on my own/ Moving toward a new idea/ You’re not what I really needed.”

Here and Nowhere Else marks another great leap forward for Cloud Nothings, as they continue to hone and develop its own unique sound. Fast moving, riotous and bold, the album captures Cloud Nothings confidently delving into a new melodic and textural sound that will have listeners hooked and looking forward to what is to come.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here

4 Overlooked & Underrated Albums Of The Last 20 Years

While it will always be known as the year of Green Day’s Dookie (and rightfully so), 1994 was far grittier, funnier and weirder than the Billboard charts would let on.

Here’s a list of four albums you might have forgotten about or never heard of to begin with, but that should be equally celebrated this year as they round respectively into their 20thanniversary.

Grant Lee Buffalo:Mighty Joe Moon—September 20, 1994


Grant Lee Buffalo’s first major-label album didn’t seem promising at first—a little known Los Angeles trio trying its hand at New Age alternative, vintage folk and blues metal guitar. ButMighty Joe Moonwould become an instant cult classic, hosting a 13-song compilation mix of guitar ballads and stark punk rock that takes listeners on a journey from the giddy, puppy love, to heart-crushing despair, and back to hopeful optimism. It’s the perfect pre-made mix tape.

Key tracks: “Drag”, “Honey Don’t Think”.

Sebadoh:Bakesale—August 23, 1994


The ‘90s opened the floodgates to innovation and invention, resulting in a spew of silly and mute genres—and of them, lo-fi may be one of the most misunderstood. But Sebadoh, with backing support from the likes of Guided By Voices, really did pioneer a whole new style of music, fusing together the playful emotive vibes of Buddy Holly with the distorted guitars and blown amps of the Velvet Underground. Today, Sebadoh’s art- guitar fuzz has spread to all corners of pop and rock, inspiring some of today’s top acts, including Best Coast and Speedy Ortiz.

Key tracks: “Skull”,  “Not Too Amused”.

Suede:Dog Man Star—October 10, 1994

The darling rock princes of London, Suede claimed Britpop and glam rock as its own playground in 1994 with more ambitious flair and personality than any artist or group. Suede really had it all: songwriting skills, sexual innuendos, wisecracks and sugary vocals. They also had guitar master, Bernard Butler, in what would mark his last hoorah before leaving the group indefinitely. They were just a group of blokes out to conquer the world—and they did so with this artfully crafted grand synth-pop opera.

Key tracks: “Heroine”, “My Dark Star”.

Jawbreaker:24 Hour Revenge TherapyFebruary 15, 1994

“This is my condition: naked and hysterical,” cries out Jawbreaker’s lead vocalist, Blake Schwarzenbach on “Condition Oakland”, the mid-point of the group’s third LP.

Well, as it turns out, a mid-life crisis can serve both as excellent motivation and great artistic inspiration. Channeling his inner turmoil, rage and hysteria, Schwarzenbach and his team produced this 11-song electrical noise storm that features epically sweeping guitar hooks and tampered-down dissonance, setting the stage for the early days of post-rock emo. If Jawbreaker is never to return, “24 Hour Revenge Therapy” was enough. Thank you.

Key tracks: “Boxcar”, “In Sadding Around”



By Marissa Framarini | March 6th, 2014 | Buzzsaw Magazine

The Haunt buzzed with the clamor of conversation and clinking glasses, but was still only a quarter full an hour before experimental pop ensemble Cults was due to take the stage for its first-ever Ithaca gig on Feb 18. But as soon as frontwoman Madeline Follin stepped on stage, the space was filled to the brim— teenagers climbing atop the sticky, alcohol-soaked booths to catch a better view at the indie-poppers as they melded together New York noise with California stoner-vibes for a night of divinely inspired indie-rock madness.

Cults has come a long way since stumbling out of the underground clubs of NYC to record its self-titled debut album in 2010. Relying almost entirely on word-of-mouth promotion, the group slowly cultivated a loyal fan base, eventually being swooped under the wings of Pitchfork and legendary indie rockers the Pixies.

At 9 p.m., noise-rock group Mood Rings swaggered onto the stage to shake the room alive with a wave of rock-reverberation. Setting the tone for the night, the shoegaze quartet plowed through a 40-minute set of trippy guitar shrieks, breathy vocals and stuttering keyboards. Frontman William Fussel was the real entertainment, however, taking occasional breaks from the set to engage in some carefree hair-whipping and witty banter about starting a cosmetic line before scooting off into the background.

After a 20-minute layover, Cults were finally cued onto the stage as four screens of white fuzz—playing off the cover of the band’s second album, “Static”—lit up. Met with generous applause, the indie-pop duo slid right into the psychedelic clamor of its latest popular hit “High Road” which segued into the electro-rush of “Abducted.” In a call-and-response fashion, frontman Brian Oblivion puttered between guitars and keyboards as Madeline Follin wailed out, “He broke my heart because I really loved him/ He took it all away and left me to bleed out, bleed out.”

In performance, Cults’ live sound — hardly dull to begin with — is tempered with a new, dramatic shade for the night as Oblivion and Follin venture across the stage through a laser maze of blue and green swirling lights. Lesser-known tracks like “We’ve Got It” and “So Far” heat up in the friction of live performance, and Oblivion occasionally breaks free from the group’s signature reverb in blasts of joyful guitar solos. Meanwhile, fan-favorites such as the finger-snapping waltz “You Know What I Mean” and retro ‘60s girl-group sample mix “Bumper” are transformed by Follin’s lustrous vocals, which bounce between jangly xylophone-styling and guitar hooks.

The highlight of the night came at the conclusion of the show, when Cults returned on stage for a three-song encore, including their summer-y hit “Go Outside”. Starting off in a swirl of percussive elements and sugar-coated guitar licks, the track climaxes into a full-fledged, sing-along anthem as the crowd joined Follin in chanting the end line: “I think I want to live my life and you’re just in my way.”

Despite what the name suggests, Cults are far from being stuck underground. While their stage set is intimate and simplistic, the group’s performance is passionate and lively and its music larger than life, offering up a unique twist on what a pop show can be and mean.

SXSW 2014: 5 Must-See Live Acts

Each spring, hundreds of bands make the journey to Austin, Texas for the annual South By Southwest Music Festival, transforming the city into a mecca of music discovery. But with a proposed 2,100 performers slated to perform at the festival’s 28thedition, taking place, March 11-16, its not hard to feel overwhelmed.

To ease the pain of decision making, here’s a list of 5 unmissable acts.

1. Wolf Alice

What started as a solo musical project of singer Ellie Rowsell has transformed into a full-fledged rock experiment declared by BBC Radio 6 as the single most blogged about act in the U.K. for 2013. Now a four-piece, alternative-rock outfit, Wolf Alice rides into SXSW on a wave of critical acclaim from across the pond, thanks to its ‘90s style reverb and progressions that showcase Rowsell’s powerful vocal prowess.

2. Casual Sex


I wouldn’t recommend typing the group’s name into a Google search, but if you’re at the SXSW festival, scooting over to Casual Sex’s set is in your best judgment. Heralded by critics as “the best Scottish band since Franz Ferdinand”, the Glasgow quartet serves up a main course of dark-wave synths and a side of punk edginess. Its lyrics witty and rhythms playful, Casual Sex offers a new melodic and funk variance that will have festival attendees spilling into the nearest dance floors.

3.The Men (Brooklyn, New York City USA)

Swimming against a current of ‘80s shoegaze revival and low-profile namesakes, The Men emerge from its underground Brooklyn lair as one of the most refreshing punk groups of the decade. Adventurous and bold, the group draws from a wide range of influences, including country, metal, and the likes of the Buzzcocks and Fugazi, to create a sound that delivers moments of sonic rage and rock euphoria.

4. Diarrhea Planet

After leaving 2013’s SXSW festival as one of the most talked-about bands, Diarrhea Planet return a rather more experienced group in the act of guitar shredding—and possibly even more hyped up. But don’t be hasty in writing off the Nashville punks as sell-outs because of their growing appeal. Diarrhea Planet refuses to become a tiresome cause—jam-packing its songs with layered guitars, angular riffs and sing-a-long hooks that are sure to result in a high-energy, must-see performance (and a few stage divers) in Austin.  

5. Band of Skulls

It’s been two years since Band of Skulls last put out an album, but the English sludge-rock trio is readying their third album, Himalayan, for release on March 31. In other words, there’s high probability some of the new songs will be slipped into the band’s SXSW set list. But even if the group decides to stick with the hits, Band of Skulls is justly renowned for its energetic and old-style rock performances.

Other notable acts: Drenge, Capsula,The Mary Onettes, INVSN, Parquet Courts, Big Ups, Black Lips, Cymbals, Cloud Nothings, Vaadat Charigim.

Check out each band’s website to purchase a CD, and buy concert tickets for SXSWhere.

Review: Radical album trims length

By Marissa Framarini — Staff Writer

Published: February 19, 2014 

Following a mainstream wave of ’90s post-punk nostalgia and low-profile namesakes, Speedy Ortiz took back the reigns of the underground rock ’n’ roll scene with its 2013 debut, “Major Arcana,” blending together distorted guitar progressions with a stream of witty and vulgar lyrics. Now, fewer than seven months later, the western Massachusetts alternative-rock pop brigade is back and breaking down melodic barriers, dropping “Real Hair,” a follow-up EP that proves Speedy Ortiz is leading and setting industry trends, rather than just following them.

Only four songs, “Real Hair” keeps its runtime short, and guitar-riffs tightly wound to make room for frontwoman Sadie Dupuis, who specializes in slinging insults and biting metaphors that can have listeners cracking up at one moment and crying all in the same chorus. “Real Hair” showcases the 25-year-old songstress at the top of her game, as she sneers over some “bonebag” she fell for, only to be found in the next song cackling out witty quips like, “And I don’t want to listen when he tries to talk/ I stare at his flapping jaw.”

The album is jam-packed with twists and turns to match Dupuis’ careening mood. Opener “American Horror” begins with a seething guitar rumble, only to dive into a jungle of charging drums and knotty, angular riffs. Plunging forward, “Oxygal” is equally sinister and dark, with its heavy guitar thrashing that exposes Dupuis and her wounds, causing her to cry out, “And who wants to sleep by her who death becomes/ Someone who sleeps with her neck in reverse/ It’s only me.” Constantly switching its sound, Speedy Ortiz refuses to be pigeonholed or labelled as a second-coming of a tired sound, shredding their way forward with a new melodic variance.

The EP’s closing songs, “Everything’s Bigger” and “Shine Theory,” continue to unravel with Dupuis, her vocals dipping below a crescendo of distorted guitar, briefly resurfacing for a powerful foot-stomping chorus before being pushed under by a smoldering drum build. Anchoring the set, the songs tease listeners with a hint of the experimental, lo-fi punk sound that can be expected from the group on its next full album.

Running just 13 minutes in length, “Real Hair” offers a fast-moving, riotous and impressive range of sound that marks another great leap forward for these newcomer indie rockers.

Review: Unimpressive electronic sound diminishes rock group’s appeal

By Marissa Framarini — Staff Writer

Published: January 29, 2014

“It’s the last time around,” sings Young the Giant’s lead vocalist, Sameer Gadhia, on the opening track of the band’s second album. The line serves as a fair prediction of just how much airtime the group’s sophomore slump, a 50-minute mixed-bag of awkwardness, cheesy-electro pop and overblown vocals, will get.

“Mind over Matter” is a large step backward for the Californian-quintet, which experienced mainstream success back in 2010 for the chest-thumping smash-hits “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.” Instead of using the four-year hiatus to build on its signature, arena-shaking guitar riffs, Young the Giant decided to mix things up for its return — switching labels and dusting off the old organ and keyboard to experiment with a new, ready-to-party digitized sound. While daring, the band’s effort falls short of producing anything memorable.

The first half of the album is dedicated to a slew of pop-trash, with lead singles “It’s About Time” and “Crystallized” featured back to back in a slow moving, never-ending string of synth-based power ballads. Gadhia’s soulful vocals, the band’s strongest weapon, are lost in a wash of skittering percussion and trembling mid-range guitar licks and hooks that do little to distinguish or introduce a new track — twisting and churning, but never fully developing.

The album’s midpoint, “Firelight,” provides some relief from the overwrought and high-energy synthesizers that dominate and skew the band’s eccentric sound. An acoustic affair, “Firelight” offers up minimalist rhythms and an eloquently peaking blend of melodic guitar and vocal harmonies. But the track is only a fleeting moment of beauty as the album progresses to “Camera,” a keyboard-driven, hyper-pop selection where Gadhia sputters out the cringe-worthy lyrics, “I used to know what made you wet/ Now I’m searching for it.”

Call “Mind over Matter” a creative leap for Young the Giant, but the album is uninspiring — moments of ambition and experimentation notwithstanding. The band’s new and alternative sound offers up some late-night grooves and danceable beats, but ultimately, the album is unexceptional and disappointing for fans searching for the band’s hard indie-edge.