by Billy Brat (@buckgooter)
Having toured for years now in bands like Buck Gooter, Candidate Demo, and Valley Slander I’ve shared bills with many bands whose music has stuck with me. Some get more play and exposure than others. Below is a list of six bands I’ve jammed with in the last year that you probably don’t know about. Some are old friends, some are new. Enjoy.
I’ve played a few shows now with Bleeders, a band of miscreants from Kutztown, PA. They have a fresh, “z beat punk” sound with feminist lyrics, no wave-ish vocal stylings, and an intriguing effected guitar tone (easier to notice live than on this recording). Speaking of live, I’ve witnessed them deliver some incendiary sets. Heard a dude explain one antic as “…the singer went up to every male in the audience and stared into his eyes while she rallied against the patriarchy. Most intense thing I’ve seen.” I’ve seen worse but that was cool. I thought it was cooler when Brenna, the singer, pulled out a knife between songs and said she was ready to castrate any sexual predators in the audience that remained in the room. No one left so I guess that says good things about the audience? Or maybe Bleeders just inspire that sort of fear that makes unforgivable monsters slink further into the shadows of nothingness? Let’s hope so.
PS - Here’s some choice lyrics from the song “Kink Shamer”, words I’ve been thinking a lot lately and words I think everyone should take to heart:
“i don't give a fuck
who you fuck
how you fuck
where you fuck
why you fuck
you're not special“
Chicago's Wei Zhongle, whose name was supposedly derived from a misheard/misread Chinese statement, really boggled my mind when we rocked a gig together. In fact, “wei zhongle” sounds like words my brain comes up with when trying to make sense of this band. Maybe that’s a little extreme but I’ll describe the scene: effected virtuosic clarinet, brilliant basslines, nimble drumming, delay guitar with all the repeats turned up for maximum plinking, and mellow but not annoying vocals. Soaring arrangements but distilled into primarily pop concision on the album Nice Mask Over An Ugly Face. This recording is laid back, lush, beautiful, alien but strangely familiar. It’s like prog infected power pop from the 80s. Big Country meets Gentle Giant!? It doesn’t make any damn sense but it sounds real good and HITS, dammit! And let me say, in the live setting this band cuts a striking image and has a lot of fire. They’re touring with Cloud Becomes Your Hand in July 2016, which is a good tour mate for them and could give you some idea of what we’re dealing with here, but Wei Zhongle’s got their own thing going for sure that shouldn’t be missed on account of arriving fashionably late to a show.
Curse is the hard(est?) touring synth doom two piece from Baltimore that has been igniting my brain since their inception. This is a band that plays truly doomed synthetic dirges, marches, and techno-ish dance pieces, inspirational and beautiful. Singer & synth controller Jane and drummer & synth controller Logan have been piloting their Curse across the continental USA for years now spreading darkened joy and dance to every doomed hamlet in the territory. Seriously - this band has embarked on multiple tours that are two or three months long where they play places like South Dakota and Harrisonturd and god knows where else in between. Musical messengers, true believers in their craft and they should be. Theirs is a perfect, unique synthesis of doom metal and industrial techno with howling, tortured vocals and mellow deathrock chanting passages. I always wanted to put out Curse’s first album on vinyl but I’d already spent all my money on the Mounds record (see below). Catch Curse now and start enjoying life under these ever darkening clouds.
“Mounds is a synth prog duo of Tom Hohmann (ex-USASISAMONSTER) and Alfred Turner from Ann Arbor, MI”.
So goes the promotional byline I wrote for Mounds to hock the first vinyl release I helped fund. That says nothing and everything about the band. Mounds forever, forever Mounds. I’ve seen this band since their inception and have toured with them extensively. They are to music as ancient aboriginal earthworks are to humankind: a magnificent treasure. Tom’s incredibly insightful, narrative lyrics over top driving synth and drum progish-rock explorations is truly mana from whatever gods deem it possible for us to have music. They recently toured the USA with Acid Mothers Temple where they sounded incredible and were met with enthusiastic responses at each town’s rock n roll hole. Well, DUH! I was sent a few rough mixes from the new album and proceeded to listen to them a couple times a day for probably a month straight. It’s gonna be a banger, people! Catch up at the links above. Fuck it, I’ll go ahead and say what I’ve been thinking forever:
“Mounds - Ann Arbor’s greatest musical export since The Stooges.”
Shared an evening with dog quite a few times, rapturously I might add. What could be better than two brothers on freq’d out guitar and drums crushing out some kind of frantic mantra rock while one or TWO ladies masterfully bark and grunt over top the instrumental forays? Sounds like a nearly unlistenable formula but dog’s songs come off quite catchy and danceable! Everyone’s boppin’ when dog’s a rockin’ - whether the stage is in a basement in the breadbasket of the Confederacy or in the Bronx. Need party music for wasteland Earth? dog’s got you covered.
On Buck Gooter’s first tour we played a shed in the middle of nowhere in southern VA. The only audience other than the guy that booked the show was a cameraman that told me we must get in touch and play a show with a band from Philly called Northern Liberties. Shortly thereafter we made our first acquaintance with the Northern Liberties boys and we’ve been great friends ever since. Working with indomitable focus and spectacular cohesion since Y2K, the brothers Duerr on drums and vocals and Kevin Riley on POG’d out bass wizardry have churned out some of my very favorite albums of all time. Just pack all of their records up into a box and label it “Desert Island Discs” and you’ll be set with your bug out bag. Live: forget about it. Just don’t even worry about trying to make sense of it and watch these heroes at work, going hard and warping minds exponentially. When you open your eyes from headbanging and find Justin Duerr in you face with a torso draped in marching drums don’t say I didn’t warn you. This band is unequivocally the real deal. I can’t state that more emphatically. Get with it.