Monday, October 26, 2009

Punk, Rap, Goth, and Other Goodies, Some for Free

Originally posted on December 18-20, 2007

Punk rock and rap are not musics that occupy a huge place in my everyday listening. Yet today there’s where we’ll be. Going back to the downloads (see December 18th entry), I again randomly chose twelve free downloads, as yesterday, this time in the genre Punk Rock. I figured once again that if anything was going to be happening garage-wise, there should be something in this batch. There were some that were highly derivative, forgettable, juvenile, or just plain ordinary. But there were some gems too. This is what I liked:

Have Nots “Cornerstone” (Boston, MA)—We have very fast punk-ska on this one. It begins with a nice chord progression and riff and there’s a good balance between the riff and the vocals.

The Bloody Turncoats “To Her Damned Tool Store” (Minneapolis, MN)—It begins with an interesting banjo-like guitar line, almost punk-bluegrass, and bass joins in. More guitars enter and the beat is a fast punk two-step. It’s folksy, has nice vocals and contrast. The second part sounds surf-punkish in the guitar break, then back to “A”. Different and musical.

The Cremators “The Best is Yet to Come” (Helsingborg, Sweden)—wow, some heavy rockabilly punk with really hot guitars and a fast old-timey back beat. A little like a raw punky Brian Setzer combined with Motorhead vocals—really primal. The mix in the end is a little too hot on the guitars, but no big deal.

The Radioactives “Sin City” (Muenster, Germany)—A four-chord fast punk progression begins this one. The vocals sound good, the band doing a tight loud punkout. There’s a nice chorus, then back to the chord progression part again.

The Trauma Dolls “Good Boy” (Norfolk, VA)—A classic tale of oppressed youth with a rather pedestrian three chord progression in a pretty fast rock mode. The vocals are sardonically Punk and stand out. “Be a good boy and do what we say; if you’re a bad boy we’ll lock you away.” Well it sucks, but in a classically Punk fashion.

That’s enough of that for now. How about a rap CD that just came out? Lupe Fiasco is a rapper from Chicago and his Atlantic CD Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool has much going on. He is one serious dude, and he tries to tell it the way he sees it. In a way, he’s a budding Bob Dylan of Rap. Some people won’t like to hear so much truth. He looks down on the media centered phony horse crud of today’s glamor Rap and show biz in general. He takes apart the veneer of the romanticized gangster ghetto and shows it for what it is. The raps are strong, the music solid and nice vocal appearances by others come through to contrast with his tuned and timed blasts on convention. Check out “Dumb it Down,” “Put You On Game,” “Superstar” and “Streets On Fire” for chilling doses of reality. This could be big; really big; it should be big, you dig?

(December 18, 2007:) I promised earlier that I would take a look at some bands that are offering free MP3 downloads on As I mentioned in that entry, this is part of the Creative Commons movement. In the interests of promoting their band and getting exposure, these musicians encourage you to download and listen, then maybe buy a CD or complete download of their latest. The music is grouped by genre and also by band.

I started off by somewhat randomly selecting bands in the category called “Experimental Rock.” Now if anything was going to be different, I figured this was a good place to start looking for it. My selection was based on “track of the week,” “track of the month,” and the bands whose tunes had made the top twenty or so and agreed to free downloads of that song. (Some bands let you listen free but not download). I downloaded 12 tunes in that category and listened five times to each. Here are the ones I thought interesting:

Acedia “Guilty”—From Frederick, Maryland, Acedia begins with a bass riff and backbeat. A male vocalist of a kind of quasi-Emo sort sets the tone, which is pretty gloomy, then follows a big chorus with spooky guitars, synths and echoes behind the vocals. There are some out guitar and synths after the second chorus. It’s slightly gothish. Memorable and rather nice.

Brown Whornet “Stepdad’s Cane” (Austin, TX)—It starts with Zappa meets Chicago, then things get different with a Pink Floydish middle that sports psycho guitars, odd vocals, drums doing something interesting. Then there’s an echo-heavy metal riff w/ more unusual vocals, a metallic percussion thing and another riff, then back to the chorus. It gives you an unexpected jolt with that chorus and middle section. A well thought-out track, I think.

Doron Deutch “Moving On Again” (Tel Aviv, Israel)—A back beat and interesting percussive string effect with acoustic guitar and echo make this track stand out from the first. The singer is dramatic, whispery. Another moody cut, well arranged.

Elika “You’re Not Safe at All” (Brooklyn, NY)—begins with electronic beat tracks that are not mushy (to me an important thing!). The electric guitar has an almost Surf like purity to it. The lead female singer is haunting. Then the chorus has big droning guitars and the vocals remind me of a short-lived band called Whipped Cream, a kind of retro, post-sixties sound that nevertheless speaks to today and our everyday fears. The third part has some odd electronics and the hook title line. Maybe a little late in the song? Nevertheless, this is dynamic music. Somebody sign these folks!

Johnny Does Dallas “Change Me” (West Hollywood, CA)—Indian drums, bass and wah-wah guitar set up this song. The vocal is fuzz-effect filtered. The drums come in with a heavy rock beat and work well with the Indian percussion. An oddly filtered guitar takes a melodic role in part. The vocals aren’t especially distinguished, but there is a nice energy on this one.

Kinky Chimps “Morning Sun” (Ashford, Kent, England)—These are some spacey chimps! Electronics, echo and singing that sounds like it is coming out of a bottomless pit segue to backwards guitars, a psychedelic riff, and bluesy psycho-harmony vocals. Get out your beads. The song does have a nice melodic feel to it.

Spanish Force “I am the Moon Master” (Staten Island, NY)—A synth/guitar duet in a minor key sets out the tone with heavy backbeat coming in. The lyrics are Hitchcockian weird, and the music is interesting. Guitar blasts of arpeggiated two chord minor modes punctuate, then there’s almost a vaudevillian moment, then an odd march. Quite creative.

Sphincterwolf “Of Miricles (sic)” Newcastle, England—I don’t know about that name, but there are some effectively dense, shimmering guitars on this all-instrumental blow-out.
Well, that’s a sample of the “experimental rock” category. It is not disheartening to hear this music. I’ll have more for you from other genres in the next few days.

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