A raunchy, cylinder-shaped ginger of Eastern European ancestry might not be the first dude you'd peg for rap stardom, but that's exactly the mantle Action Bronson is on the verge of possessing. Over the last few years, the 28-year old Queens native has become one of hip-hop's most charismatic and colorful new characters, thanks to his wicked sense of humor, a buffet of impressive releases and the rare knack for updating cherished East Coast aesthetics into indisputably modern music. While the name Action Bronson might be new to some, he’s been shaking up the worlds of food and music, two massively powerful New York City institutions, for years. But this is just the beginning for the Bronsoliño. Whether he’s grilling octopus with Seth Meyers, hanging out with his celebrity chef friends like Mario Batali, or performing at music festivals around the world, Bronson is determined to make his mark.
The Menzingers' eagerly awaited fifth full-length After the Party is available now. The album arrives as the follow-up to the Philadelphia-based band’s widely acclaimed Rented World. Produced by Will Yip (Title Fight, Balance & Composure, Pianos Become the Teeth), After the Party taps into the Menzingers’ everyman romanticism to reflect on getting older but not quite growing up. Throughout the album, singer/guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May, bassist Eric Keen, and drummer Joe Godino offset that deeply nuanced songwriting with anthemic harmonies, furious power chords, and larger-than-life melodies. “We spent our 20s living in a rowdy kind of way, and now we’re at a point where it seems like everyone in our lives is moving in different directions,” says May of the inspiration behind After the Party. Adds Barnett: “We’re turning 30 now, and there’s this idea that that’s when real life comes on. In a way this album is us saying, ‘We don’t have to grow up or get boring—we can keep on having a good time doing what we love.’” “Bad Catholics” follows the release of After the Party’s lead single “Lookers,” which premiered on Noisey in August.
The trails that Brooklyn’s Big Thief—Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums)—take us down on Capacity, the band’s highly anticipated second record, are overgrown with the wilderness of pumping souls. After last year’s stunning Masterpiece, Capacity was recorded in a snowy winter nest in upstate New York at Outlier Studio with producer Andrew Sarlo. The album jumps right into lives marked up and nipped in surprisingly swift fashion. They are peopled and unpeopled, spooked and soothed, regenerating back into a state where they can once again be vulnerable. Lenker’s songs introduce us to a gallery of multifacted women and deal with the complicated matters of identity — at once dangerous and curious, though never unbelievable. Lenker shows us the gentle side of being ripped open. Tricked into love, done in and then witnessing the second act of pulling oneself back together to prepare for it to all happen again, but this time to a sturdier soul, one who is going to take the punches better than ever before and deal some jabs and roundhouses of their own. The album is thick with raw, un-doctored beauty: most of the songs on Capacity were played for the first time in the studio and were recorded the same day. “There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker explains. “The songs search for a deeper level of self-acceptance, to embrace the world within and without. I think Masterpiece began that process, as a reaction from inside the pain, whereas I feel Capacity examines the pain from the outside.”
Attention came swiftly following Speedy Ortiz’s 2012 Sports EP on the Boston-centric label Exploding In Sound, and with good reason. Massachusetts-based songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ knotty, lyrically dense songs were fully realized by her bandmates, with intricate guitar lines crisscrossing over Darl Ferm’s fluid bass and Mike Falcone’s precisely executed drumming in a way that was simultaneously catchy and jarring. After the success of its 2013 Best New Music-honored debut full-length Major Arcana, the band formalized its assault through a year and a half of relentless touring with bands in whose brainy-slash-brawny legacies it followed—among them Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Ex Hex, and The Breeders. In 2014, the band added guitarist Devin McKnight of the Boston-based post-punk group Grass Is Green, whose guitar parts both match and challenge Dupuis’. Speedy Ortiz’s second proper album—Foil Deer, recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn when the band wasn’t pushing forward on its hectic 2014 tour schedule—comes out on April 21, 2015. The songs represent a leap forward, possessing a lightness that mirrors Dupuis’s post-grad school outlook; they also have a deliberate nature to them, one that emanates from extra studio time and more experimentation with the band’s essential form. (Ferm contributes a few unexpected guitar parts; Falcone’s vocal harmonies zing in with more force.) Speedy Ortiz possesses big-tent rock swagger and punk’s restless yet intimate spirit in a way that makes the impulses seem identical; while the quartet can still command crowds at festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival, they also relish playing Boston’s teeming basements alongside the city’s next generation of bands. That willingness to push not just forward, but in all directions, makes Speedy Ortiz one of rock’s most exciting outfits.
People often wonder why Philadelphia's NOTHING are so damn loud. In the case of many artists, the volume stems from a preoccupation with negativity, misanthropy and the human condition. But while NOTHING's attitude lines up with these ideas, their personality isn't one that the band picked from a list of cliches. Instead, it's one that's been molded by the band's own experiences, from family troubles and personal tragedy to a string of bad luck that Murphy's Law would balk at. And that volume, rather than a selling point, is the only way the band has been able to translate the difficulty of real-life events into musical form. NOTHING frontman Domenic Palermo got his start as the brains behind the late 90s/early 2000s hardcore/punk act Horror Show in the crime-riddled neighborhoods of Frankford & Kensington in North Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Horror Show's existence was cut short In 2002, when Palermo was incarcerated for an aggravated assault charge (to which he pleaded self-defense) and subsequently served a 2-year prison sentence. After getting out of prison and working the next 5 years under watch of Pennsylvania parole board, Palermo took a lengthy hiatus from music, entering a period of personal reflection that led him through a maze of death, negativity and uncertainty. Nicky returned to music in 2010, and founded NOTHING with the release of the demo Poshlost (named for an intense and quintessentially Russian form of spiritual banality).
Be leery of any punk band with initial ambitions that go beyond just playing shows with their friends. Sure, great bands ascend beyond basements and handmade demos all the time, but the best acts start with little consideration for the outside world. The groups are their own insular worlds, where the reward comes from the process, not accolades and riches. And the bands that thrive on their own artistic satisfaction usually wind up being the bands that are able to grow beyond the donation jar into sustainable successful musical careers. Their charisma is contagious, their songs exist outside of fads, and their spirits can weather the inevitable ups and downs of life as touring musicians. Such is the case with the Atlanta trio The Coathangers. When The Coathangers started up in 2006, their aspirations were humble. “I think all bands in their early twenties start for fun,” says guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel when talking about their early years of cheeky no-wave and irreverent garage rock. But Julia and her bandmates Meredith Franco (bass/vocals) and Stephanie Luke (drums/vocals) were serious about their craft, and that combination of modest outside expectations and absolute dedication to their music made for exhilarating live shows and contagious records.
Kiran Gandhi, known by her stage name Madame Gandhi, is an electronic music artist and activist based in Los Angeles. Having gained recognition as the former drummer for M.I.A. and as the iconic free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon, Madame Gandhi now writes music that elevates and celebrates the female voice.
The Recording Industry infrastructure as we traditionally knew it has collapsed. There are an overabundance of new acts and mainstays all trying to figure out how to exist as the market place to hear music expands but the value of music, and market place shares have decreased. How does a world-traveled, seasoned band survive without folding like so many have as the "industry" playing field continually changes? In ten years of living in relative obscurity to the mainstream pop cultured music audience Lionize has garnered a reputation as an explosive live act and recording group amongst fans, concert- goers and legendary musicians across the globe. Lionize are taking 100% control of their destiny by going back to their roots and taking a page from the DIY Handbook. Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Scream, Gov't Issue - all Washington, DC area bands never needed the hand of a major label, radio play or main stream exposure to gain a powerful reputation as completely independent and self-sufficient artists. Lionize will begin a journey into their 10th year with a renewed sense of purpose, taking the cue from their predecessors who smirked at the term industry and make their own rules when it comes to recording and getting their music to their fans.
Thin Lips, huh? A rock/roll type indie band who place a whole lot of value on humility, kindness, and erudite riffage. Following their fledgling EP, Divorce Year, with the release of their first full-length record, Riff Hard (Kyle Pulley/ the Headroom, May 2016), Chrissy Tashjian steers Thin Lips down the middle lane of pop sensibility, while simultaneously testing the boundaries of some pretty wild licks, bud; backed by rhythm keepers Michael Tashjian (drums and Chrissy's younger brother), and Kyle Pulley (bass/audio engineer). 2017 finds the band coming off a European tour and split record release with friends, Modern Baseball and the Superweaks, as well as pre-production for a forthcoming full-length record to be released on Lame-O Records.