In this – the age of the Coronavirus – many of us are stuck at home, isolated with only TV screens and the glow of laptops and phones to keep us connected. In other words, there isn’t much to do.
However, one thing that is available to us all is the wide world of recorded music. And now is as good a time as ever to get to know some bands you may not have heard of but ones that you will assuredly enjoy, dear reader.
So, buckle up and get ready for a digital ride around the continental United States with stops in Nashville, Seattle, Los Angeles, Durham (North Carolina) and Catskill (New York).
Ashland Craft, “Trainwreck,” Nashville , Essential link
As the great writer, Maya Angelou, says, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” So, when Ashland Craft tells us in full voice, “Baby, I’m a trainwreck,” we should believe her. She’s too much speed, she’s twisted steel, she’s a cloud of smoke, she tells us. But, somehow, we can’t keep away. And Craft knows it. That’s her power. She tells us and we keep coming back to her, wanting the wreckage.
Black Ends, “My Own Dead,” Seattle, Essential link
While this song by Seattle “gunk pop” group, Black Ends, shows up on a compilation from an Oakland record label, the spatial particulars don’t matter so much when it comes to this rugged sonic masterpiece. Black Ends front person and principal songwriter, Nicolle Swims, has a voice like imagination incarnate. Her music is the end of a rainbow shining on a pile of balled up tissues. If grunge prince, Kurt Cobain, was still alive, he’d have this song playing in his Walkman.
Oozelles, “Refill the Swamp,” Los Angeles, Essential link
Impending doom shoots from electric guitars. Perile pours from the bass. Trepidation drips from the drums. Oozelles, with their song, “Refill the Swamp,” have created the sonic equivalent of Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bat. The Los Angeles-based dark rock band is an amalgamation of members from other City of Angeles bands. But, in Oozelles, each shine like a diamond in the light of a full moon.
Camp Saint Helene, “Mother,” Catskill, Essential link
During quarantine, many have chosen to fill their hours and days with as much work or stimuli as possible. While some disengage during crisis, others throw themselves into tasks (hello!). But that’s where songs like “Mother” are so important. The track is a palate cleaner, a much-needed break, a respite in the madness of concerted distraction. The Camp Saint Helene song is buoying, rejuvenating, appreciated.
The Muslims, “Gentrifried Chicken,” Durham, Essential link
At the heart of it, punk music is about a conversation. The music often stems from a group of people who, until now, haven’t been heard. So, they’ve made screaming into a heart-pounding, intoxicating art form. Durham, North Carolina band, The Muslims, participate in this punk rock conversation as if they hold PhD’s in the subject. They do. The band is as necessary as any and all should be listening.