With all of the hubbub surrounding Pokemon last month, we totally forgot to celebrate the one year anniversary of Hidden Gems of Bandcamp! August will mark the start of our sophomore year for this monthly article. My, how the time flies! After looking back at the past twelve months, we realized just how incredible our little scene is. Here’s a few mind blowing statistics from our first full year: Nearly 100 up and coming and lesser known punk acts were featured; Bands from five of the seven continents have been highlighted; Across those five continents, we’ve had acts from over twenty different countries. Now, who says our scene is dying?!?! Celebrate with us by checking out this month’s entries below!
The streets of Wasau Wisconsin are familiar with folk punker, Michael Strike, having played the part of music venue many a frigid night. But in the the fall of 2014, when he released his solo single Quiet Pines the world got their first look at him. Since then, the God Damn has organically evolved around the solo singer with the addition of Tif Gniot on the drums and Brad Beilke on bass. This loosely based trio have become the ‘static’ members of Michael Str!ke and the God Damn Band. From the very first notes, exhaled from a rustic accordion on first track from their most recent LP The Long Story, we knew we would be fans. But beyond the skillful musicianship, we became fan of the band’s mission, “The goal of The God Damn Band is to promote unity and cooperation throughout the global music scene, and to welcome any musician or performance artist to share the stage with them.” The troupe is made up of many different ‘regional’ members, so as they travel, spreading their message, the sound changes from stop to stop depending on geography. You can even go their social media sites and get tabs, chord charts, etc and join them next time they come to town!
Recommended Track: “Crossroads”
We don’t get to spotlight too many Celtic Punk acts, but boy have we found a doozey this month! Hailing from Rochester, New York this four piece blends Gordon Lightfoot-esque folk and street hardened, double cask, celtic punk. While you may think it an odd combo, it works in a most masterful way. We enjoyed these Upstate upstarts so much that we’re breaking the rules! One of the chief tenets of this monthly feature is that all of the music is supposed to be less than $5 or so, on occasion, exceptions are made. This is one of those exceptions. We figured we’ve saved you so much cheddar over the past year that you can swing a few extra bucks! In addition to fusing the more traditional celtic and folk genres, these guys also incorporate some rockabilly, hell there’s even some dope classic rock guitar riffs on a few tracks. The banjo is sharp and crystal clear, stinging through the gut thumping upright bass. Steve Ladue stays busy on the drums, never stopping, filling in every available spot with something even if it’s just a few quick taps on the high hat. Talent is on display all around, proving that the ‘Rising’ may extend well beyond ‘Easter’.
Recommended Track: “Join or Die”
The scene in Denver, Colorado is quickly outpacing other, more traditional markets with regard to home grown, quality punk acts. This young pop punk quartet from Ft. Collins, just outside of the Mile High City, is just another example. While the vocals sound a bit like Motion City Soundtrack front man Justin Pierre, that’s where the similarities end, with the music itself sounding more like classic 90’s Epi-Fat than anything. Although the tracks sound like traditional skate/pop punk songs, most of them are double the length of what most of their influencing bands would write. The unique vocals are subsidized by clever backing vocals and complex harmonies. Between each release, they show massive leaps in growth and maturity (musically speaking of course). Add to that, extremely high production quality and you have yourself a superb pop punk gem. A lil birdy told us that they just finished up shooting a music video for a new song “Shots Fired” which is set to debut in September, so keep an eye out for that. Until then, go pick up their entire catalog of music for about five clams, you can’t beat that kind of bargain!
Recommended Track: “Pants on Fire”
This trio from Adelaide, Australia has only been around about three years or so but they have already perfected their unique skate punk sound. With loose stringed, heavy bass licks and odd high pitched, wailing guitars that sound like they’re filtered through a tin can, these Aussies weren’t content with the status quo. Much like quickly rising, Reno punks Boss’ Daughter, this act gives the evolution of pop/skate punk a slight nudge with their debut, five track EP Seizure the Moment, released earlier this year. Also similar to their aforementioned American counterpart, the vocals from Dan “Possum” Jenkins are sloppy and earthy, sometimes showing a folk/country twang to them. The transitions are flawless and tightly composed, which is especially notable because of the pace at which these dudes from Down Under execute. The breakneck speeds that may trip up other acts, seems to them, second nature. The one exception to this rule is “Designated Driver Blues” which is a skate punk anthem wrapped in a mostly bluesy, acoustic shell. These guys have excellent range, reaching outside of their comfort zones on many occasions (see: “Pirate Song” which has outstanding tubas in it!) and never faltering once through it all. $5 AUD nets you this one!
Recommended Track: “Mt. Everest”
Fighting out of Chicago, Illinois, by way of Seoul, South Korea, Assassination Squad is by far one of the more intriguing bands we’ve featured and put our Research Department to the test. Here’s what we were able to dig up: They started their existence in South Korea as a trio, enjoying success in their native land and releasing a few EPs, a full length, as well as a handful of splits. But then, for reasons unknown, the band relocated to Chicago, Illinois and added new members from the area. The only remaining original member is Dave Larry, a Korean-American (Dave also started Hangari Cords, a label that aims to bridge the gap between the Korean and American punk scenes). This is another act that may be a little outside of our self imposed price threshold, but all of the albums are excellent bang for the buck. Take for example their newest LP Sibal War, which has eighteen killer tracks for only $10. All of their music features simple, unpretentious lyrics, which are often humorous, tongue in cheek references to Korean culture, wrapped in raw, old school hardcore vocals and music. Almost every track has a line or two that are sure to incite a sarcastic grin. By far, one of the most fun bands we’ve covered!
Recommended Track: “Know Your Rice”
Melodic Hardcore from Bali, Indonesia isn’t something we’ve written before, but there it is! We love seeing just how far reaching this beloved genre of ours can be. Despite being around a little over five years now, this quartet who all met in school while sharing their love of hardcore music, just released their debut, ten track LP, Present and The Future Of Life this past Spring. After giving it a listen, we knew instantly that this was a more tenured band. The level of skill, from the top down was way too high to be a younger, green act. The bridges are catchy, while still maintaining a hardcore edge to them and the transitions on guitar are impeccable. Most of the songs feature heavy doses of dual vocals throughout but the unique, high pitch of lead man Kijo keeps things from sounding stale. Youth of Today was listed as one of their influences and throughout listening to them, we struggled to find a more apt comparison. While most songs are in English, our favorites were the ones sung in their native tongue. Those seemed to have a little more passion to them, more authenticity. Scoop this one up for $7 over at the ‘Camp, but you can also head over to their Facebook page and download their 2011 Demo for free!
Recommended Track: “Impossible is Nothing”
**If you’ve missed any of the gems that we’ve unearthed in prior months, stop kicking yourself! We’ve archived them for you. Check out past month’s editions here. You may now resume kicking yourself.