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 Oakland, Seattle (two times!), Portland and New Orleans.
Josiah Johnson, “World’s Not Gonna End,” Oakland
Essential link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DStV1dgaSg
Perhaps more than any other time in history, we need to hear this message. Sure, things seem bad now, but the earth is going to continue to spin and each of us, with luck, will be okay. That’s what Josiah Johnson, former member and co-founder of The Head and the Heart, tells us. Johnson, who has been through his own fair share of tumultuous personal trials, is back with a new solo album. It’s a poignant collection of songs meant to buoy and reassure.
Warren Dunes, “Come Find Me,” Seattle
Essential link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex7X8O_b6HY
Another family band from the Emerald City, Warren Dunes strikes visually as front woman Julia Massey plays two keyboards at once, and often in a Seattle Supersonics jersey. The band strikes musically with their songs, a blend of cooing lullaby and electrified funk. Always with their pet plant “Doug” in tow, Warren Dunes, named after a state park in Michigan where band members and brothers Jared and Dominic Cortese grew up, brings the mirth of outdoors wherever they play.
Tres Leches, “Nieve,” Seattle
Essential link: https://tresleches.bandcamp.com/track/nieve
This bi-lingual band of multi-instrumentalists writes songs about the amorphousness of the spaces we occupy. Whether writing songs about a trans-like state of depression or finding a physical state that feels like home, Tres Leches offers its signature spooky shred to each work it records. Take, for example, their latest single, “Nieve,” which is about pushing through hazes both internal and external for the sake of hope. The track – part-blues, part-punk – is all heart.
Y La Bamba, “Ojos Del Sol,” Portland
Essential Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wnDyOHPxrE
Moving from rock to folk, Y La Bamba is a stroll through the dry countryside. Carrying a bottle of water and a bottle of wine, you listen to the crackle of the wind against the sand. Cacti stand stalwart. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the moon when the cooler night takes the sky. With hope, some wine will remain. And all the while, Y La Bamba will whisper in your ear, telling you what the gods hum as they water their gardens.
Pony Hunt, “Sun Rays,” New Orleans
This band sounds like they brush their teeth with ghosts and carve jack-o-lanterns with their fingernails. The haunted majesty that stitches together the music of Pony Hunt is enough to keep your mind in wonderment for weeks on end. Some musicians and songwriters seem most at home around a campfire with only tails of terror to tell their compatriots. This is a band comprised of those types of people.