Summertime Blues, News, and Views: Newbandapalooza

It’s been a while since I sat down with a healthy chunk of MySpace bands and gave them the once-over. Whether you’re here to check out someone fascinating or gawk at a train wreck, you will surely be accommodated. I mean, it is MySpace after all.

If you or someone you know has a band with songs posted, feel free to contact me via email or just add me as a friend on MySpace. No, this is not a ploy to gather tons of MySpace friends in some manner to feed my ego. I really do listen to this crap music and evaluate it as such.

So, screw the news and forget the blues. Have a heaping helping of views, and let your ears prove to agree or disagree.

Your Band Here

Not really an unsigned band, but hey, they added me. Hailing from “Chicago, Illinois, Germany” (which sounds like one of the best industrial jokes I’ve heard in a while), this heavily stomp-flavored electro project fills most of your standards. I can almost exactly pick out the influences: the KMFDM guitar riff, the Icon of Coil warble, the fill-in-the-blank-with-anyone spastic twisting of knobs. Fun!
Positives: There’s a decent rhyme and reason for the sounds mashed together, and that’s definitely a plus in the electro. Sure, the sampling in “Dignity” is a bit over-the-top, but this happens. Not surprisingly, the best track posted is a remix by Endif. Collaborations usually tend to fix one anothers’ weaknesses.
Negatives: I don’t know that any of this stands out from the plethora of industrial bands recording in their parents’ basements. There aren’t a whole lot of new ideas, period. But at least the cliches sound good, and the occasional surprise does spice things up. As a whole though, it’s just far too forgettable.

Tomorrows Forgotten:
Warning: MySpace layout from hell. Anyway, here’s a nice little laid-back rock/emo band out of Minnesota, mild and unassuming, much like the state itself.
Aside from production (not all of it is finished being mastered), Tomorrows Forgotten fits right in with their signed brethren. If you’re into the emo, check ’em out.
Positives: TIGHT songwriting. Lovely lyrics. Anytime I don’t wince when a band is trying to be deep, an angel gets its wings; a few more are flying after running through their MySpace repertoire. I would have mistaken “Just Breathe” for a cover if I didn’t know better.
Negatives: Here comes the Gloomchen Broken Record Express: when you’re playing a genre that is popular and flooded, you must stand out. Tomorrows Forgotten is exchangeable with far too much already on the market. They have talent, but unless they find a way to make themselves singularly noticeable from the pack, it will take a lot to get out of MN.

Midwestern metal can be a severely mixed bag as the most talented folks tend to flee to a coastal area. But the guys of Denied are sticking it out in Wisconsin, a state with a much deeper metal scene than most realize (particularly in Milwaukee). Hey, if Slipknot could be discovered in Iowa, there’s hope no matter where you are.
Positives: Holy f*ck. HOLY FUCK! These guys are incredible. My jaw is just sitting on the ground. Take Black Label Society, make it much heavier, and make Zakk not such a drunk. Great song structure — every note falls exactly where it should — seriously, I’m blown away.
Negatives: They haven’t sent me a disc to review yet. Or played Minneapolis. Get crackin’, boys.

Jerich thee Darkitecht:
Gothic prog metal. There is no mistaking this sound right from the moment it starts playing, either. No derivatives, no trickery: it’s sullen, it’s syncopated, and it’s powerful.
Positives: Pretty stuff, very pretty.
Negatives: Whoo boy. I don’t know what the deal is but something is not right. It sounds very dated, there are too many cliche elements, it meanders worse than a 20 minute Dream Theater wank. There’s only one song posted, so other work might be better. But if this is demonstrative of the entirety of their works, someone’s got to put down the D&D manual and try something new.

Human Aftertaste:
AHAHAHAH! Move over, GWAR. Someone more ridiculously fun is coming to steal your spotlight, and they’re from Iowa. They just have to be seen to be believed, from hot pink stretch jumpsuits to mesh tank tops and pimp hats, all pumping out goofy hardcore and dark electro fun.
Positives: Oh come on. “Gay Satanic Sex Orgy” wasn’t written for historic critique. But their hilarious mockery of the Cher vocal effect in “Goodbye Horses” actually sounds pretty good in its own silly way, and “I Dig You” is structurally sound.
Negatives: Joke band, clearly, and all the pitfalls that come with such. They do hold their novelty well, though, rather than running it into the ground.

Reverend Poky Bunge:
Another joke band, I actually saw Reverend Poky Bunge perform this last new years. Their music? They’ve dubbed it “TARDCORE.” If that doesn’t at least get you interested, there’s no hope of you appreciating it. It also helps to know your Rush and other geeky garbage or you’ll miss half the jokes.
Positives: “Milk, milk, lemonade/Turn around, fudge is made” is the best chorus since grade school. When they nail a joke, they really nail it well.
Negatives: They’re pretty obnoxious and far from subtle, with a tendency to wear thin after four songs or so. The songs are quite unstructured and most elements exist for effect. It’s fun, sure, but not really great replay value. And sorry guys, “Corkscrew” just plain sucks.

Denmark! Marked as shoegaze alt-rock, honestly, what else of quality comes out of Denmark these days? Anyway, stereotyping aside, Windermere is representing well.
Positives: While I’m not a big shoegaze fan, I know what’s boring and what’s simply the genre. And Windermere is some good shoegaze. The vocals are very light and pretty floating over songs that qualify more as soundscape than anything else. Rather nice, yes.
Negatives: I don’t have much negative to say about these guys, honestly. They’re quite inoffensive. And I don’t know what a shoegaze band would do to stand out from the pack since that’s sort of against the whole principle of the genre, but they create a great atmosphere regardless.

Hardcore metal from Canada, fronted by one beastly sounding chick, Splatter really don’t sound like much else out there. If nothing else, man, it’s great listening to CM’s growly shrieks.
Positives: There’s one hell of an obnoxious hardcore cover of “Call Me” posted that amused me like crazy. And again, CM’s voice just makes the whole thing.
Negatives: It’s messy. They don’t mention how long they’ve been together but they could use some work on their song structuring and using to compliment their frontwoman’s distinctive voice. There’s flickers of promise, but it’s not out of the gates yet.

Sounding like something like Spock’s Beard tackling Opeth, Transient is a prog-metal outfit with clean and soaring vocals over a moody backdrop. Their influences — Pain of Salvation, Evergrey — are all over this bad boy.
Positives: “The Circle” is a bit rocky, but interesting. In fact, that could be said of most of the songs they have posted. It’s ambitious to say the least.
Negatives: It’s one thing to wear your influences on your sleeve, but it’s another to use them as a conglomeration to define your sound rather than letting bits and pieces drive your individual ideas. They need something that breaks them from this super-small niche; the audience for this type of music already has plenty to choose from.

As they mention themselves, “Garage-pop with piano, violin, cello, and mandolin.” Minneapolis sure does have quite the variety of musical acts, and Alameda recommends that pretty much all on their own. The first question, of course, is how much is gimmick and how much is actually musically viable?
Positives: They definitely have the “garage-pop” thing down pat. There’s a lot of Pixies feel, especially on “Old Self.” Perfectly pleasant music with a marketable gimmick.
Negatives: Is it a positive or a negative that most of the time you don’t realize there are strings in the band? On one hand, it’s blended well, but on the other, it loses that individuality that having the strings in the band in the first place would perpetuate. If the problem is just the production, then my gripe is production.

You can tell what sort of crowds are attracted to submitting for this column when we come across another gothic rock/metal band, no? Their banner reads, “music that disturbs the soul.” In other words, we’re definitely set for an aesthetic experience.
Positives: Aside from the production, “Idle” is probably the best offering they have posted on the site. The song composition across the board is very spotty at best, but they have some good ideas.
Negatives: “A Row of Bricks” sounds like a parody of Black Sabbath. Just don’t go there, guys. Aside from that, the production all over the place is just weird and goofy. Half of the elements are super-clean and the other super-sludged; the vocals are mixed very inconsistently (loud above the music, quiet behind it). It’s so distracting that it’s hard to hear if the song beneath is actually any good.

En francais, s’il vous plait. More gothic metal, this one’s fronted by a female and very reminiscent of The Gathering’s first few Anneke van Giersbergen albums. If I hadn’t seen their location in France, I would have guessed they were an Italian band, actually. Yes, I’m pointing at the Lacuna Coil fans.
Positives: GORGEOUS VOCALS. WOW. And that’s not to knock the rest of the band, either. These guys are offering something on MySpace that you’re lucky to get on signed labels in this age of pretty-girls-and-dark-metal. I am very impressed.
Negatives: The non-French-speaking people trying to leave French comments. Come to the MySpace page for the music, stay for the silliness that is MySpace.

That just about says it all, really.

The Rad Ones

Greg Wind, longtime reviewer, wrote a COLUMN! OMG!! He’s covering all the news that I skipped this week by focusing on MySpace, so go check ’em out.

Tom D’Errico has many good things to say about Black Label Society.

Mathan believes someone’s getting dissed, folks. It’s lovely food for thought.

I keep hearing about that damned Nacho Libre movie and cringing. Apparently, that was the correct reaction.

And I know my audience usually isn’t headed in this direction, but Sports Radio is really worth your time.

Meanwhile, Carla Lee amuses me with her dissertation on self-publishing.


Fact: I cleared out 2/3 of my MySpace backlog with this column.

Fact: I wouldn’t have such a backlog if MySpace didn’t suck ass most of the time and be too screwed up to properly stream. I feel like I won the lottery with only 3 hangups writing today’s column.

Fact: I lead a double life as an uncompensated band chauffeur. Awww, I love ’em anyway.

Fact: As I’m open with my opinions, I encourage you to be open with yours. If you’ve got email, you’ve got a soapbox.

Fact: I wrote all of this while in my pajamas.

Fact: Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock ‘n’ roll.

Out of the car longhair,