Tag Archives: DIY

PUNK’S SAVIORS: THE FIGHTING LEAGUE

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Vanity Fair did an interesting article about a month back entitled, “Why Punk Scene Would Have Hated Today’s ‘Punk Nostalgia’”. The article attacked modern punk’s recent consumerist leanings and called upon old school punk troubadours like Patti Smith and The Clash to set the story straight. ’70’s punk musicians played with a passion; they were new and indignant, and they spawned revolution. Today’s punk just doesn’t have that inherent sense of urgency present in “Know Your Rights” or Blank Generation. At times, modern punk comes off as privileged-white-kid-whining. But never mind the  bollocks, here’s The Fighting League! These Australian bros pride themselves on their angsty-teen  “tropical punk.” Their skateboard-punk sound is sloppy yet refined, like a Minutemen-Fugazi birth child. When listening through Tropical Paradise, expect Tony Hawk nostalgia; the album will fit nicely to some vintage Natas Kaupas or Bones Brigade highlights. However, the band’s most refreshing quality is their give-no-shit attitude. They play what they want, how they want, and they don’t give no god damn. It’s an attitude entirely refreshing in a world where wearing a Black Flag t-shirt is now considered conformist.

-Ryan Ricks

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Too Hard to Find by Travis Bretzer

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The chubby Asian kid in School of Rock hit it right on the money when he famously said, “People in bands are cool.” It’s a goofy but true statement; people in bands are monoliths of cutting-edge coolness. Who didn’t think the Stones were cool when they ditched their Beatles hairdos and prom night suits for shaggy DIY haircuts and raggedy skinny jeans? Or when Lou Reed gave the industry a big middle finger by releasing 1975 avant-garde masterpiece, Metal Machine Music? Musicians are badass. It’s indisputable. And it’s time to welcome Travis Bretzer into the hip world of musical badass-ery. The under-appreciated 2010 hidden gold, Saucy Tasters oozes with such cigarette burning hipness that one can’t help to feel cool when listening to it. “Too Hard to Find” is a bumbling garage rock tune that sounds like an Exile on Mainstreet-Nuggets lovechild. Bretzer has a unique voice that epitomizes hipness. Jagger, Casablancas, Iggy are obvious influences and Bretzer wears them on his denim sleeves with refreshing confidence. Just one listen to Saucy Tasters and you’ll want to quit your day job, pick up a drug habit, shave one side of your head, and return your Polo hoody for a denim jacket. It is an incredibly hip sounding record but it never falls victim to pretension. It’s catchy and gorgeously melodic. Definitely look forward to future releases from this guy.

Coalition by Iceage

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It really sucks reblogging a song that’s already featured on huge independent music websites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, but I couldn’t help myself with this song– for punk’s sake, I felt it deserved recognition. One thing that really irks me and hopefully any other avid follower of modern music, is when someone declares a genre “dead.” When Tupac and Biggie were killed, the “rap is dead” slogan took on an all too common occurrence in the musical world. When Sid Vicious died, some people were so foolishly distraught that they claimed the knell of punk had rung. But how could one artist sum up an entire genre? A genre is made up of all the tiny little  idiosyncrasies of the artists that fall under them, not by one single artist. “Coalition” by Iceage is proof that punk is not dead. It’s a ferocious track filled with sweaty buzz-saw like guitars, pounding drums, and singer, Elias Ronnenfeldt’s Danish growl that is as crooning as it is violent. “Coalition” captures Iceage in a most fragile stage; the song feels like it could collapse at any second, leaving nothing but the band’s noisy amp feedback and angry refutation of corporate conglomeration in a boiling practice space in the middle of industrial Copenhagen to hear.”Coalition” is a ferocious rocker that returns Iceage back to their conventional punk roots and restores power and grit to today’s modern music.

-Ryan

Best Songs of 2012

25. It Ain’t Over by Shad

Because no other hip-hop song was this soulful and redemptive.

24. Let’s Start Over Again by The White Wires

Because women can be anybody’s problem– even garage punk badasses.

23. River by Pangea

Because this is the catchiest rock n’ roll song of 2012.

22. Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware

Because Jessie Ware’s voice has the ability to cure any terminal illness.

21. AWWWKWAARRRDDD by FIDLAR feat. Kate Nash

Because being awkward has never been this cool.

20. Grown Up by Danny Brown

Because Danny Brown gets it. 

19. I’m God by Clams Casino

Because no other producer changed the sound of electronic music as drastically as Clams.

18. Sorry by T.I. feat. Andre 3000

Because Andre is still just as crispy as he was in 2003.

17. Higher Ground by TNGHT

Because no other song of 2012 was this loud and obnoxiously addicting.

16. Turn It Around by The Men

Because The Men are never afraid to make their own album.

15. Thinkin Bout You (Ryan Hemsworth Bootleg) by Frank Ocean

Because this song morphed the scruffy barista into a flashy stockbroker. And this is the best remix of 2012.

14. With Just One Glance by Nicolas Jaar feat. Scout LaRue

Because the saxophone is finally cool again.

13. There He Go by Schoolboy Q

Because Schoolboy is arguably one of the thuggest, dirtiest, and hardworking rappers out there.

12. Work It Out by Twerps

Because nostalgic beach noodling is never this confident and beautiful.

11. Heaven by The Walkmen

Because these guys obviously shop at J. Crew. Oh, and they’re responsible for one of the best songs of the year.

10. Fuckin’ Problem by A$AP Rocky feat. 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar

Because this song is applauded at the hipster bar, the fraternity house, Compton, and suburbia.

9. Make It Known by Foxygen

Because Ray Davies, Lou Reed, and Sgt. Pepper would be proud.

8. Wait by Airhead

Because this is one of the few abstract instrumentals that didn’t fall victim to 2012’s pretentious production.

7. Same Love by Macklemore feat. Mary Lambert

Because gay rights activism has never been so eloquently spoken in music as in “Same Love”.

6. Reagan by Killer Mike

Because no other hip-hop song sounds like a Harvard history professor’s lecture.

5. Song For Zula by Phosphorescent

Because this band has never sounded so eager to change the world.

4. The Fall by Rhye

Because the new xx album was underwhelming.

3. Swimming Pools by Kendrick Lamar

Because party music has never been this good. Ever.

2. High Fantasy by Lace Curtains

Because Austin is the best city in the world.

1. Climax by Usher

Because conception has nearly tripled since this song’s release.

Atonal Eclipse of the Heart by The Ambulars

The DIY scene is something of a lie. Yes, anybody can pick up a guitar, press its strings, and strum, but not everyone can make music. No matter how “punk” it may seem to say that music can be created by just about anyone, it is simply a false statement. DIY comes alive through work ethic, not attempt. So what constitutes a great DIY band? Two things: passion and talent. Anybody can strum a G-C chord progression, sing mediocre lyrics through a tape recorder and release bedroom copies of the “single,” while simultaneously hailing to be the newest “lo-fi” sensation. It takes true talent to be a good  lo-fi artist. The Ambulars, a pop-punk trio from Philadelphia cooked up DIY’s sweaty blue collar grit while adding a little ingredient of their own: infectious pop on their excellent new album, Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel. “Atonal Eclipse of the Heart” is what would happen if Superchunk and MXPX had a baby. The guitars are grungy and fuzzy yet never stop being melodic, the vocals are pleading and hurt, and the melody is one-hundred percent pop. The lyrics are an interesting take on the archaic theme of the break-up, with lines like, “It’s so intangible for some I used to hold,” and “when I’m lying like a child in your arms, every now and then I fall apart.” The most gripping aspect about “Atonal Eclipse of the Heart” is its familiarity; each listen contains a nice feeling of deja vu. The Ambulars feel very 1999-2001 era with their rowdy pop-punk melodies and catchy pop choruses. “Atonal Eclipse of the Heart” is a refreshing take on an aging genre.

-Ryan

First Day of School by Soulja Boy

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You know that old dude who works at the record store who complains about true music’s disintegration? The one in the tattered Led Zeppelin t-shirt religiously scanning the “oldies but goodies” section, picking out used Boston and Bread LP’s with a nerdy sweat riddled brow. He’s the guy who claims that “rock” died when John Bohnam did and says that Bruce Springsteen was the last “true musician.” I wonder what the hell this guy would think if I tied him to a chair and forced him to listen to Lil B’s new 852-track mixtape. He’d probably piss himself in anger and denounce the eccentric artist as the guy who singlehandedly killed music. But if you think about it, Lil B is as punk as they come. His DIY ethic, his “I’ll do what I want and if you don’t like it then fuck off” attitude, and his obvious passion is 110% punk. He’s probably the “truest artist to date.” Now saying he’s the greatest musician ever is outlandish; he most certainly is not. His mixtapes and albums are enduring to say the least. His attire and his attitude is so out there that it may put off conservative listeners who are used to traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus pop. Soulja Boy, the rapper/hypebeast responsible for 2007’s club banger, “Crank That,” has taken the hip-hop DIY ethic and morphed it into a much more approachable and accessible form of music; think of him as Lil B training wheels. “First Day of School” is a boastful, semi-stream of consciousness tune that’s got Soulja word-slaying couplets regarding his clothes and “freshness.” The production is crisp and dramatic. A piano loop righteously taunts Soulja’s boastful lyrics and the MC fights right back, spewing line after line about how much swag he’s got. His delivery is undeniably southern, sounding similar to Andre 3000 choruses or Lil Jon rants. Soulja Boy is by no means the most talented MC in hip-hop but he doesn’t try to be. He just does his thing. But did Johnny Rotten know how to sing? No. Did Sid Vicious know how to play bass? Hell no. And that’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to be a Whitney Houston to be a singer. You don’t have to be the next 2Pac to rap; you’ve just got to be yourself, and that’s exactly what Soulja Boy is doing on “First Day of School.”

-Ryan

Amenamy by Purity Ring

Ah, internet buzz. It’s awesome and horrible at the same time, it exposes great music in an easy, accessible way yet it has spawned a terrible throw-it-away, instantaneous culture. It’s like the five year old at the grocery store begging his mom to buy candy, “I want it NOW!!” But what happens when the band behind the buzz, the Best New Music accolades, and the numerous music festival bookings actually have enough talent and obscurity to stay “relevant” in today’s aggressive approach toward art and culture? A real “band” emerges, not just a collection of MP3 singles. In early 2011, Purity Ring, a Canadian synth-dream-trip-hop duo released a collection of MP3’s that tore through the blogosphere, gaining the group massive amounts of buzz. They played a couple of shows and then seemingly disappeared into the studio to write their brand new debut, Shrines. During this quick period of absence, one could easily lump Purity Ring into the buzz band cemetery along with other countless victims like Black Kids and more recently, Best Coast. Shrines is a pretty good indication of the band’s ability to break through the fluctuating nature of the hype. “Amenamy” is a tripped out, ethereal, glow of electronics. The beat skitters along like a southern hip-hop anthem, the 808’s pounding in a head-bobbing craze. The electronic synths twinkle and illuminate in cyclical patterns that illustrate colorful circles in your head. Megan James’ vocals deliver like a sirens, enticing and dangerous. Purity Ring’s finest aspect has to be their intriguing use of vocal pitch shifts. Nearly every song on Shrines features Burial-like vocal shifts throughout but contain enough variation that they feel entirely different from each other. Overall, Shrines is a pleasing take on buzz-based music and proves that Purity Ring have the ability to beat the instant gratification of the hype world. After all, who would want to have a record library of just 45’s?

-Ryan

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/46736757″>Pure</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/jackgermain”>Jack Germain</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>