With the passing of Awesome Fest and Riot Fest comes the departure of the long, hot, busy Summer. While a great deal of the country may be looking forward to the cooler months, with leaves of every imaginable autumnal hue rustling through the frigid evening breeze, the more nihilistic, Eeyorian (ed: …what the hell man? We talked about this.) among us are less optimistic about the coming weeks. With the arrival of Fall also comes a slight nudge, as we inch ever closer to our impending doom which is a certainty come early November. While our civilization’s waning hours may be a frightening prospect for some of us, there’s no reason why we all can’t enjoy these last few weeks of life as we know it with some radical tunes! This month’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp highlights six lesser known or new punk acts from an assortment of different genres! Something for everyone, guaranteed! Check out September’s sensational selections below and try to forget about all of the pain and suffering in your not so distant future!
From Fontana, California, this pop punk quartet has started to gain steam in recent months showing up on show flyers on almost a weekly basis. It’s no surprise that there’s an uptick in recognition though as 2015 saw the release of their first full length, The Arsonist, the House, and the Fire. While this freshman offering is filled with typical pop punk themes, the lyrics are more thoughtful than most of their counterparts. The dual vocals intertwine, feeding off one another, angsty pop lead with violent, gravelly backing vocals darting in and out. The harmonies are loose and a little sloppy but pop punk really shouldn’t be as tight and clean as it has become.We get a little too uncomfortable with anything that doesn’t have some rough edges to it. If it were precise and over-produced, wouldn’t that just be pop music? Sadly, their performance at this years’s Awesome Fest appears to be their last. If the rumors are true, let’s send them out in style! Their entire music catalog is available for ‘Name Your Price’, so go download something and blast that shit in commemoration!
Recommended Track: “Tell Me About the Rabbits, George”
If you’re looking for excellent folk punk, we would guess that Nashville, Tennessee is probably a great place to start. Though this talented troubadour plays folk, it’s nothing like what you’re used to. ‘Toy Folk’ as it’s been dubbed, incorporates normal folk fare like ukuleles, banjos, and the like, but also layers in the unique flair of xylophones and other unorthodox instruments that sound like they came out of a child’s toy box. More than anything though, it’s the songwriting that stands out. It’s highly intelligent with acerbic wit, while at the same time being blatantly honest and hyper-personal. The newest EP, Excalibur: Ruby Version was released back in the Spring and every track is a gem (except maybe the “Pokemon Theme” cover song, we can’t endorse that). Whether they be extolling the virtues of Anarchy or exposing the plight of growing up ignoring gender norms, each song is calculated and has purpose. Through the thirteen months that we’ve been doing this feature, we’ve never had a fight break out in the boardroom until the conversation began about which song to include as our recommended track. HR is still sorting through the bodies to get a casualty count but let’s just say that the softball team won’t be able to field the required nine players this year!
Recommended Track: “The Most Personal Song Ever Written By Me”
The commune of Poitiers, France is known mostly for it’s educational institutions but soon to be listed among it’s local treasures is sure to be this brand new melodic hardcore infused pop punk act. Their debut, four track EP, Viewpoints was released earlier this year, and although it’s their first studio album, something tells us this isn’t their first rodeo. One of the youngest acts this month, these lads still haven’t even celebrated their one year anniversary but despite their relatively young age, they still show an extremely high degree of proficiency and near flawless execution. The hooks are catchy and transition smoothly between faster melodic hardcore and the more deliberate skate punk riffs. One of the highlights for us though was the vocals. Other than a slight accent in a few parts, all of the songs are written and performed in English without anything being lost in translation. While being in English isn’t a requisite for recognition, the level of effort put into recording an entire album in a language that isn’t your native tongue deserves note, especially when it’s done to perfection!
Recommended Track: “Sophisticated Affliction”
Every time we stumble across a great hardcore crust act, they are invariably from NYC. The two have almost become synonymous. So, we weren’t shocked when we learned that this filthy five piece was birthed from the gutters of The Big Apple in 2009. Crustcore sometimes runs the risk of sounding repetitive given it’s simple nature, but this group shows a lot more variety in their music composition, often stretching outside of the standard breakneck thrash riffs that have become a calling card of the genre, showing more finesse and artistry than most of their contemporaries. Although we haven’t heard much from them in recent years (their last release was their debut, fourteen track LP, We Got This!!! back in 2013), we did notice a post on their Facebook page mentioning that a new album is in the works. They’ve also just posted some dates for an East Coast tour coming up in October so get out to see ’em if they’re in your neck of the woods! Until then, head over to the ‘Camp and pick up their fantastic full length for ‘Name Your Price’ (they also have pretty sick merch)!
Recommended Track: “Benjamin Swenson”
‘Los Angeles punks playing metal in a hardcore band’ is how our next act bills themselves. While that impressum may seem a little convoluted, it describes this quartet perfectly! Like a musical menagerie, their eclectic influences peek through in each of the six tracks on their debut EP, Panic which released April of 2015. Whether it’s the extended, flowing, metal infused interludes, the lo-fi, garage punk guitars or the violent, screeching hardcore vocals, you can hear the different genres explicitly. While blending nontraditional music is a skill unto itself, the musicality displayed is what really stood out most to us. For a great example of this, look no further than the highly evocative instrumental track “Everything Ends”. It’s so good that you don’t even realize that there aren’t lyrics until the end. Now, that’s talent! We had the pleasure of catching these guys perform live at a small show up in The Valley earlier this year and we can say with conviction, that they are just as brutal and unrelenting in person as they are on this EP!
Recommended Track: “Eat The Rich”
Is it just us, or does it seem like all of the best party punk is coming out of the Midwest lately? Hadn’t noticed?!? Well, to prove our point, may we submit for your consideration, Sheboygan, Wisconsin trio, Spruce Bringsteen! If their name wasn’t enough of an indicator, the song titles are a definitely let you know what you’re in for. “Killin’ My Buzz”, “Party On, Dudez” and “B.U.D.L. I.G.H.T. Lime!” are among the thirty or so tracks over four various studio albums (get ’em all of less than $15!). It’s obvious these three don’t take themselves too seriously, but they still manage to make excellent music. With droll, witty lyrics and uncomplicated, repetitive classic punk rock guitar riffs, these guys sound like an inebriated version of the Ramones…ummm…in a good way, of course! They’ve also recently added a new drummer, Noelle Stolp from pop punk prodigies Rational Anthem. Look, it’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it’s fun as hell and you get the feeling that they’re just playing to get some free beer and have as much fun as possible. Head on over and download some feel good party punk. The neighbors will love it, so be sure to turn it waaaay up!
Recommended Track: “John Locke”
***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.***