(ranked, you’ll notice, not in a numerical list. Because screw you, mainstream music industry with your arbitrary ranking of art!)
This blog is really a thinly-veiled daily indulgence in my own ego, so today I thought I’d do away with the veil altogether, and tell you about things that I like.
I love these guys because they defy genre, and their music has progressed as much in about three years as other bands take a decade to do. Their first album is perhaps their most aggressive, synth-free record, and introduces us to the characteristics that make them unique: delayed, or even non-existent, choruses in favour of more atmospheric intros and melodic verses; and a reluctance to use drums to just keep time.
I’m not going to suggest that all it takes to be a great punk band is a striking name and an explicit, aggressive couple of songs, but Die for the Government basically makes those two traits alone into an art form in and of itself. There’s no just an anger in the lyrics, but a general rejection of things like melody and time, that’s edgy enough to be powerful, yet not overdone to the point of rendering the record totally devoid of musical skill.
The Canadian noughties hip-hop scene in general gives me hope for a genre plagued by discrimination, excessive sexualisation, eye-rolling attempts to be ‘shocking’ and catfighting, but DL’s first album is perhaps the most polished of the scene. It’s musically dark and lyrically mature, and even includes crazy things like a French verse and a female rapper. One criticism is that the tracks aren’t very diverse, and can melt into one, but that just means there’s more of a good thing.
Another more recent band (who’ve I’ve seen live and was uncharacteristically starstruck by when I met them afterwards) who are progressing from a punk-with-synths sound to a synths-with-guitar-riffs one. Their lyrics hit the Rise Againstean window of being personal enough to have meaning, yet broad enough to be relevant to anyone listening who’s been pissed off at something. Also I kinda want their singer’s hair. Such pink. Very edge.
I’d like to comment on the lyrics from this Norwegian black metal band, but honestly I can’t because they’re in Norwegian and are screeched to the point of being incomprehensible to actual Norwegians (not kidding). Still, the energy and sense of melodic chaos they manage to get across on MP3s is stunning, like a pile of Picasso paintings hurtling through the Earth’s atmosphere and exploding on your shitty Apple earphones, incinerating everything in a fifty-mile radius with fire, brimstone, and some rather poignantly abstract imagery.
An Australian trio who managed to release two albums in ten years, then two within like half an hour of each other, Wolfmother’s self-titled debut is basically a lesson in how to write kick-ass riffs, and build an entire album from there. Seriously, this site ranked the riff to Joker & The Thief as better than efforts from Pink Floyd, Rage Against The Machine, and Led Zeppelin. The vocals are an appropriately clashing wail, and the whole thing is heavy enough to be interesting, yet without breaking the amps with Kvelertak-style insanity to the point that you can’t get through the whole album without needing a break involving some tea and several blankets.