It’s hard to ignore the classics, but it’s worse to overlook the rising stars. Each month, we pick five artists worth lending your ears to. December’s highlights up-and-coming acts changing indie rock, hip-hop and pop punk.
NOTES: Stuck between late night Denny’s and real jobs, Chicago’s very own Real Friends are a restless seedling of the DIY punk rock movement that’s brewing in the Midwest. Every cut off their latest extended play rushes to the forefront at a blazing pace, letting guitars and bass tear into each other while vocalist Dan Lambton yells out why he feels alone and why nothing feels right. But don’t overlook the quintet’s lyrical ability; it’s an underlined exclamation point on the band’s suburbia-inspired pop punk – where The Wonder Years meets The Movielife – with the highlight “Everything I Never Want To Be” being an agitated surprise that’s caught in despair and a fistful of chemistry.
NOW PLAYING: Everyone That Dragged You Here (Jan 2012 – Independent)
NOTES: Can rock get any more fierce? Instead of going for heavy reverb, Devin Therriault’s new project slapped with his first name spins around that classic pompadour pop at a Brooklyn speed. Up close, it’s Buddy Holly falling hard for The Strokes. The blistering tenacity mimics the unorthodox debuts of classic greats but the songwriting style – the bad boy snarl surfing over stiff rockabilly that looks you straight in the eye when your ears shut out everything else – is practically lethal. The rejuvenation for rock n’ roll is a tiresome tale but this 23-year-old makes a fine case, taking a baseball bat to the jukebox and letting degenerate, punk-fused rock out if its cage.
NOW PLAYING: You’re Mine (November 2011 – Frenchkiss Records)
NOTES: Beneath the illogical comparisons to The Weeknd, Los Angeles native Quincy M. Hanley is another piece to new West Coast hip hop. It’s just this particular piece is broken from a different mold that holds a tendency to float between edgy rap, soul and dark and confused drug romps and still fit. Unlike his co-horts (Schoolboy Q is a part of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy Crew), he can pull the reins on all three at any time and the aggressive delivery adds a new coating to the trip-hop outbreak. It’s not mainstream provocative or viral appealing, but the rich production and gloom-and-doom aura is as stylistically animated (“Gangsta In Designer (No Concept)”, “Druggys Wit Hoes Again”) as it is ominous (“Raymond 1969″), pumping life back into the term “street rap”.
NOW PLAYING: Habits & Contradictions (January 2012 – Top Dawg Entertainment)
NOTES: Their new record could be mistaken as one of their past releases but when you listen carefully, The Menzingers’ latest attempt holds a lot more emotion. The technique and the emphasis on simplicity is what makes their craft – accessible punk accompanied by this pure form of songwriting – so accessibly likable. It’s not quite Americana but it takes the sweat, blood and tears from the genre and convinces it to be more tough, tacking in sing-alongs and “rugged man’s poetry” to instill even more nostalgia. Line up recordings like “Ava House”, “Sculptors And Vandals” and “Good Things” next to what most kids in their
scene community are listening to and you can’t help but ask “Why?”. The plainspoken experimentation demands a voice, and this may be it.
NOW PLAYING: On The Impossible Past (February 2012 – Epitaph Records)
NOTES: The Bay Area’s hooked on fast scuzzy rock and Terry Malts are in the thick of it. In the same vein of Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, the trio have been have been causing quite a racket with what seems like an infinite string of shows all in support of their Slumberland full-length Killing Time, which most hope to be a jam-tastic tear into Joy Division’s infectious tone and San Francisco’s liking for grizzling up indie rock. If “Tumble Down” and “Nauseous” (see below) are any indication, most should be content – that is, if they can pick up their head from the floor.
NOW PLAYING: Killing Time (February 2012 – Slumberland Records)