ON THE RADAR!
Greetings everyone – I’m the ROCKthusiast Gilles LeBlanc, and this is Highly ROCKmended, where I attempt to play “cool curator,” proposing tunes you may not be all that familiar with for the purpose of adding them to your regular music rotation.
I give you fair warning, however – I only advocate stuff that I am truly passionate and enthusiastic about. For this inaugural edition, I thought I’d concentrate on bands that have recently come into hearing on my well-honed sonar, whose creative output has made this old-time rocker feel young again. Feel free to disagree with any of my choices, as long as you give everything a listen first. Interaction with readers is not only welcomed, it is wholeheartedly encouraged. Got a quick song suggestion? A full-blown article theme? Tweet ’em to me @ROCKthusiast or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are in the full throes of yet another British music invasion – One band who are looking to lead the charge from a guitar-based rock perspective is Palma Violets, who in the short time they’ve been together have been causing quite the row as people would say in their native London. They have the Rough Trade street cred behind them, the internationally renowned record label that has championed other garage revivalists such as The Strokes and The Libertines. The four-piece recently opened for The Rolling Stones in front of tens of thousands at Hyde Park, but have spent a good chunk of the year getting their feet wet in North America. Palma Violets are back for another extensive run of quirkily named venues this fall, and are also ready to set sail next February on the second annual Weezer cruise.
Jordan Cook (AKA Reignwolf)
Every year on the festival circuit, there’s always one artist who seems to play all over heck and creation, leaving audiences breathless and howling for more due to their buzzworthy performances. In 2013 so far, that artist has been Jordan Cook, the shy Canadian from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who metamorphosizes into the rabid, guitar shredding animal known as Reignwolf. He definitely embodies wolfish qualities like elusiveness when it comes to making music available, but an album under his new feral moniker is apparently on its way. Until then, we have to make do with Cook’s 2010 solo album of sorts, Seven Deadly Sins, which he’ll sometimes play songs off of on his own, drums included! Here’s hoping Reignwolf doesn’t stray from the ferocious template Cook has already established of gnashy blues rock, grunge, and a touch of hair-flaying glam metal.
Anyone who knows my music tastes even remotely knows I have a thing for 2-person bands; the garage punk blusier, the better! The White Stripes … The Kills … The Black Keys … The Pack A.D., the latter of which I thought were a bit of a rarity because they had two female members. That is until I learned about Deap Vally, a pair of California girls who weren’t influenced by The Beach Boys or Katy Perry, that’s for sure. Think more Led Zeppelin, but with the scuzz meter turned up to 11 (if such a thing existed). And these aren’t no half caff skinny latte guitar licks and drum beats – These gals have some meat on their bones so to speak, along with a generous but not overpowering dose of sex appeal…even though their video isn’t perfectly synced.
What could possibly be better than 2-piece extra spicy garage rock, you ask? How about if it’s sung en français?! Ponctuation (or Punctuation in English) are two brothers named Guillaume and Maxime who are looking to make their (exclamation) mark wherever in the world fast-paced, CBGB-style riffs and pounding beats in the style of The Cramps are appreciated. Ponctuation’s reputation in their home province is building steadily, having already played two of the biggest ROCKtravazangas anywhere in the Quebec City Summer Festival as well as Osheaga in Montreal. While their jumbo-sized sound borders at times on breakneck speed, these are two level-headed dudes with a rock solid grasp on R’N’R history. They may have named their surf and psychedelically-tinged record 27 Club, but it’s no death knell – Ponctuation intend to keep their Quebec-flavoured revival going for years to come.
If you ever wondered just how far-reaching the experimentally groundbreaking rock ’n’ roll of the late-’60s and early-’70s from punk pioneers like The Stooges and MC5 was on the world at large, look no further than Thee Attacks, four strapping young lads hailing from the Kingdom of Denmark. In a clear nod to the Ramones, each of them has adopted the last name of “Attack.” I’m not sure if Jimmy, Terry, Johnny and Ritchie met in school, but it’s obvious that they’re all graduates of the advanced retro rock program at the University of Copenhagen. Majoring in raw energy, they’ve successfully transferred their learnings into a sexually suggestive album called Dirty Sheets that saw its Canadian release earlier this year. It was recorded at London’s Toe Rag Studios, famously known for its exclusive use of analogue equipment. Now that’s #OldSchool!
You had me at “Ty Segall.”
As if this young San Franciscan wasn’t already busy enough, he’s formed a brand new band called Fuzz that sees him singing behind the drum kit not unlike another prolific guitarist in Jack White and The Dead Weather. In typical Segall fashion, Fuzz have already released a couple of 45s in anticipation of their self-titled, full-length debut on October 1st, to be followed by what’s sure to be a rowdy North American club tour. Fuzz doesn’t sound all that much different than what we’ve come to expect from Segall, only heavier, almost sludgy, like he got his amplifiers stuck in thick mud. If Fuzz’s preview tracks are any indication, Segall has clearly been inspired by Black Sabbath’s reunion, and channeled it into this project rather than his next solo album. (Out August 20th, BTW!)
They claim their new handle is an acronym for “Pathetic Use of Potential,” although there’s nothing pitiful about Toronto-bred band PUP. They’re punk rock with an ear for what makes the cool indie kids sit up and bark with approval, and know how to put on a doggone-good live show too. They used to answer to the name Topanga, but with the character made famous by Disney’s Boy Meets World set to return to TV next year, these smart mutts chose to make a change. What hasn’t changed is their focus to become a top dog in rock; PUP have an upcoming album produced by revered engineer Dave Schiffman, who’s taught tricks to everyone from Red Hot Chili Peppers to The Mars Volta to Rage Against the Machine. You could say this PUP is a litter full of promise!