While some of you jerks were out having fun at fests, I was chained to a laptop that was chained to a desk that was chained to a bunch of other chains (we really need to clean this place up) in the DyingScene basement with nothing but Bandcamp for company and a bucket of fish heads for sustenance. But despite this hardship, I have scoured the corners of Bandcamp and found six bands from all over the place (all right, maybe more than half are from the midwest, shut up, you can make these decisions when you’ve been chained up with fish heads) which were absolutely the best bands I heard while definitely not on an ether binge or in a fish head-induced fever dream! Please don’t ask how I sneaked in the ether. Uh, anyway, music below!
With “Fast & Loose,” The Von Tramps have released one the most fun EPs I’ve heard in years. The Minneapolis trio (don’t let the photos fool you) writes catchy pop punk songs, with most songs on the EP having their own flavor. The title track, “Fast & Loose,” is exactly that. “Peaked in High School” and “Episode One” are amusing personal digs, with the latter full of Star Wars references for disappointment. Any time someone can work “Chewbacca” into a doo-wop breakdown, I’m sold. “Wir Konnen Nicht Deutsch” (“We Don’t Speak German”) is a stomping, let’s-keep-the-beer-flowing-and-the-show-going anthem. “Mexicola” and “As the World Sleeps” are sweet, slower songs that give me feels. The band has only been playing the odd show here and there this spring and summer, as they have an LP releasing in September on Hotdish Records. I’m definitely looking forward to what they’ll put into a full-length album. The EP is on the steep side for this feature – $10. If you pull the trigger, I recommend getting the CD. It’s the same price as the digital version, but you get the CD, digital version, and if you’re a stately gentleman that vapes while wearing a werewolf mask like I am, they throw in some swag.
Recommended Track: “Fast & Loose”
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Bonus! The video for “Fast & Loose” lives here!
I didn’t know what to expect with Detroit’s Daisys. Punk, emo, melodic hardcore from a lgbtqa+ perspective. What’s going on here? All of it. And I love it. And “emo” is generally a red flag for me. But their writing style is a brutally honest, almost stream of consciousness that I can definitely get behind. “Raw” is definitely the first adjective that comes to mind with their writing. Daisy’s vocals are somewhere between holding my hand and punching me in the face. I can hear echoes of the Replacements and Black Flag. As someone who deals with depression, I can definitely relate to this album. “Boxcar” is a low-key folky-sounding song that makes me remember being young and screwed up (I’m just old and screwed up now). “Tied Up, Wasted,” and “Septic” are more upbeat in sound but still maintain a level of lyrical darkness that gives me hope for the future of punk rock. At pay what you want, you can’t go wrong with Daisys “Guest Room.”
Recommended Track: “Tied Up, Wasted”
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I should hate this band. But I don’t. They’re catchy, pop-heavy punk. But they have just the right amount of synth and hooks that they remind me of The Hippos. The straightforward pop punk riffs and vocals also bring up ghosts of Mest, god help me. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, I’m going to leave that legwork to you. Totally worth it, though. Anyway. This is the kind of super-polished, hooky pop-punk I would have hated ten years ago, but Games We Play doesn’t try to hide what they are, and I appreciate that. They have a tight, polished sound I can appreciate. And those synths kick me right in my aging 80s-loving heart. At pay what you want, you can’t go wrong for a listen.
Recommended Track: “Trouble”
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Allow me to set the scene for you. The lighting is dark, but warm. Rose petals have been spread across the bed. Fine champagne chills in the corner. Then every 90s Epi-Fat band bursts into the room, has an all-night, coke-fueled orgy, and in the morning, nothing remains except a beautiful glistening baby named Silly Sally. I’m a big fan of the classic Epi-Fat sound, and this band nails it like cheap furniture I’ll break when I visit your mom. Listening to their most recent EP, “No Tales to Be Told,” has me finger drumming and banging my head while doing sweet vape tricks at my cat and makes me forget about all the poor decisions I’ve made in my life that have led up to me writing this and the previous sentence. You can grab their EP and their album, “Minor Fights & Major Fears” for $5.60/5 Euros each. Throw another Euro each on the pile and you can get the CD as well.
Recommended Track: “Vital Revelations”
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Delicious power pop punk lightly drizzled with synth and I’m pretty sure I can smell a little of The Copyrights in there. Unfortunately, this band only comes in bite-sized morsels – they only have two songs on bandcamp. But they’re both catchy as hell, and Starter Jackets makes excellent use of color schemes and Kevin Costner and Charlie Sheen motifs. Both “Outlets” and “I Suppose” are pay what you want, and mention an upcoming debut. You can catch them at the Bloated Kat Records Bloated Saturday 2 in Iowa City, Iowa on August 25. If you happen to see a dude there in a werewolf mask and vaping, give him a kiss on a cheek or a knowing wink.
Recommended Track: “I Suppose”
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I brought you in fast & loose with Minnesota, and now I’m going to give you a folksy easing out the way we came in. Beno is a folk/indie singer-songwriter from Minnesota. The sound of his solo songs give me Mountain Goats vibe, particularly “The Rambler” and “Die.” I’m glad I didn’t have any whiskey in the house when I listened to “The Rambler,” because I would’ve just scowled a lot and threw things. In a good way. Each song is $1, or you can get an album of everything except “Belly Up” for $7.
Recommended Track: “Belly Up”
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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.***