The first installment of Hidden Gems for 2017 is hot off the press and the Orginal Content Team has continued their annual tradition of mediocrity. In celebration of another year of employment, they again mailed it in, offering up the least amount of featured artists since last January…way to go team… Luckily, we believe in quality over quantity and all five acts on the list this month are incredible! Even better though, we’re betting they’re not on your radar yet. So, let’s get ’em on there! Check ’em all out below!
Concept albums, when done well, can create a stronger connection with the listener than a traditional album. With cohesive story lines and vivid characters drawing you in deeper with every hook. Punk Rock Opera Vol. I is one of those albums. The brainchild of Mac Cagle, this epic journey follows a fictional punk rock band as they navigate their way through the 80’s Los Angeles punk scene. The music itself, as expected, is full of old school punk riffs and references to the era (like Reagan hate songs!). The second LP in the series was just released a couple weeks ago and while it’s not the long awaited Vol. II it is tied into the storyline. Titled Nerve Damage this eleven track full length is a product of the story’s band of punk protagonists, The Bad Plants. Go download both and count down the days ’til Vol. II hits with us!
Recommended Track: “King of the Downstroke”
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This four piece from The Steel City list themselves as pop punk and while it does have some pretty clean harmonies and catchy riffs, it’s not ‘bubble gum’ pop and definitely has a more aggressive edge to it. Almost a hybrid of pop and melodic hardcore, at times, they reminded us of veterans Such Gold, especially in a few tracks on their newest EP The World Won’t Wait For You. Although they’ve been around for about six years now, they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, just coming off of a month long East Coast Tour. Now’s a great time to get to know these Pittsburgh punks too, because their entire catalog (five albums) is on sale at Da ‘Camp for less than $4. We’re awful at math, but we’re pretty sure that’s a stellar deal.
Recommended Track: “Don’t Sweat It”
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Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota our next band sounds like an American version of The Sainte Catherines with gritty, chanting vocals, straightforward song structures and a street hardened sound that makes you second guess everything you know about Fargo (unless you’re imagining it like the movie, then you’re in the ballpark). The sound is spectacularly sloppy and always verging on the edge of total sonic meltdown, somehow miraculously being held together by some unknown force (although we suspect it’s probably the percussing prowess of Curtiss Hamende). The faint of heart may enjoy their semi-acoustic side project a little more. Windsor Diets has a demo set to release in a few weeks (preorder here) and it includes a few previously released songs that are performed at a far less frenetic pace, along with some new, previously unreleased tracks.
Recommended Track: “Windsor Diets”
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Despite the picture that we chose for the article which includes past members Green Jeans and Eric, our next act is a solo artist (the shot was just so epic that we had to use it, even if it was outdated). If crusty folk is your thing, then boy have we found a gem for you! Lansing, Michigan native, John Warmb (center) started this musical endeavor back in 2014 and released the debut, self titled LP that same year. The thirteen tracks come equipped with standard features like accordions, banjos and harmonicas but the writing is anything but standard, following in the lineage of Pat the Bunny and Erik Petersen. If Rent Strike isn’t quite folky enough for you (really, you sick bastards?) check out Mr. Warmb’s other project, JC & the Pennies which incorporates a lot more bluegrass and country. All are available for ‘Name You Price’ so go donate some money and get this poor guy outta the dumpster!
Recommended Track: “Jail Song”
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When UK ska stalwarts Beat The Red Light broke up in 2015, frontman/trombone player, Pook couldn’t just put down the brass. These days, when the High Wycombe native isn’t stroking the sax for The Filaments he’s writing and performing in his solo ska project. Look, we’ve featured one man bands before here on HGoB but nothing even comes close to this one. We were amazed by the depth of talent on the debut EP, Attack of the One Man Band which was released late last year. We found ourselves always eagerly waiting to hear what instrument he would play next from his mastered menagerie. Even more mind boggling though, was the amount of care and thought that went into each one of the six, intricately constructed songs (which aren’t short either, the average length being around three and a half minutes), ensuring a perfect fit when all the parts were layered atop one another in post-production.
Recommended Track: “Cancer”
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***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.***