I’ve found over the years that the eras that I consider the “best” for the sort of music I listen to happen to correspond with the same years that I happen to be paying attention the most closely. Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve naturally concluded, as one who’s been blogging about music nearly every week during that period, that we’re in a pretty solid era of microgenre-bending rock music right now, with fantastic bands or acts popping up every few months. Here are 10 that I’m really into that I want you to be into as well (all names link to the individual band’s sites):
1. TIMES NEW VIKING – (pictured here) Scattered but harmonious, joyful but ear-bleeding, TNV are the 2007 equivalent of the late 70s UK DIY bedroom recording movement crossed with that berserk 1979 Half Japanese triple-LP box set, with dueling male vs. female vocals rattling off of every surface. Their new CD “Presents The New Paisley Reich” blows away their (excellent) previous efforts and is the early favorite for record of the year around these parts.
2. JOSEPHINE FOSTER – Strange and ghostly folk chanteuse who can hit the upper registers & the lower depths as well as any Maria Callas you care to put forward. She never stands in one place too long and may be an acquired taste, but once acquired, wow. She bends vocal notes and guitar chords in ways that generate shudders and deeper wisdom. (warning – her most recent CD-R hints at a very experimental record to come later this year; I suggest starting with “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You”).
3. THE WOODEN SHJIPS – The prototype band for what I’d want “psychedelia” to sound like in 2007 – heavy but nimble; referential to the flipped-out greats while not overly apeing them; and full of layered, screaming keyboards, guitar and revved-up, droning sound. Only two small-form records in (a 10” and a 45), and they’ve already built up a cult-like following, of which I am a member.
4. NOTHING PEOPLE – Also mining the weirdo garage/psych vein are California’s Nothing People, but they do it in a much more lo-fi, splayed-out, guitar juggernaut sort of manner. Their 2006 EP is a godsend, and hopefully portends a lot, lot more to come like that.
5. PSYCHEDELIC HORSESHIT – Columbus, Ohio-based genre-crappers who play with such confidence and fuck-it panache they remind me of a pumped-up early FALL minus the repetition, but with all the bizarre cut-ups and decided lack of recording quality. I guess you’d call it really loud folk, but sometimes they explode into total noise, and that’s not very folky, is it? Just one and a half 45s so far, both fantastic.
6. THE TIME FLYS – The standard-bearers for punk rock right now, as far as I’m concerned, but these guys + gal are so goddamn fun they can probably even connect to a much wider, non-punker audience (though some people just HATE ‘em!). I compared them to the NY Dolls and old Texas punks earlier in the month, and was corrected by one wag, who said he heard RED CROSS’ “Born Innocent” more than anything else. Bingo! That’s why I like ‘em so much!
7. CHEVEU – Way cool, experimental French garage punk band who’ve already developed a reputation for complex, dirty, gruff songs built around simple, exploding riffs and a variety of tempos. These guys seem to have nothing but upside; I’m totally stoked to hear what an LP from them might sound like.
8. PISSED JEANS – It’s hard to pull off a sound that reminds this particular late-thirtysomething so much of his ear-bleeding youth & the bands from it, but these guys do it, approximating Black Flag, Drunks With Guns and the Laughing Hyenas with every monster riff and every tortured scream. It doesn’t sound dumb, it doesn’t sound dated, it sounds totally raw & alive and worth savoring. Please tour!!!!
9. MISS ALEX WHITE – She’s slipped under too many radars for my liking, which is a crime since every record she’s put out so far is a blast. Tuff, tuneful garage rock that constantly reminds me of some of the late 70s Masque bands from LA like The Eyes, The Bags and The Weirdos or slightly later ones like UXA.
10. CORTNEY TIDWELL - Guaranteed to be loathed by 75% of those of you reading this right now – but I shall soldier on. Miss Tidwell is an up-n-comer from Nashville who I read about & then downloaded a couple tracks from a few weeks ago; her m.o. is to graft exceptionally sparse arrangements & her lovely vocals onto to a template of OPAL-ish, even COCTEAU TWINS-ish melancholy country & electronica. Yeah, I know! Electronica! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! I recommend downloading her track “Eyes Are At the Billions” and proceeding from there. The album’s got more gems like that one.
Honorable mention – SIC ALPS, A-FRAMES, FRUSTRATION, THE BLACK LIPS, SKYGREEN LEOPARDS, CLOROX GIRLS……who else?