1. “Zeek and Axl Rose” – Automotive High School. The softer side of AHS’ fuzzed-out pop/pop-punk is just as hooky in a completely different way. The band is quickly moving up my “to-watch” list for 2013.
2. “Graveyard” – LVL UP. I keep a special place in my heart for video-game inspired music, and LVL UP’s punked-out geek pop is right in that space.
3. “Not a Riot” – Permanent Makeup. A wiry, low-slung, yelled punk tune with a neat guitar solo. No, for real.
4. “An Inter-dimensional Spat for the Right to Walk Away the Victor” – Hectorina. Not for the faint of heart or ear, this is a math/garage/post-punk/pop tune that is complex and almost entirely unique. If Queen and The Mars Volta got together, they’d both agree on this. Maybe.
5. “Hurricanes, XO” – Beat Radio. Is there ever not a market for enthusiastically fuzzed-out pop tunes?
6. “Come On. Stand Out.” – 7Bit Hero. A giddy slice of Australian electro-pop.
7. “Fame is for Assholes (Feat. Chiddy)” – Hoodie Allen. It finally happened.
8. “Tiny Kiss” – Hey Anna. This indie-pop tune is whimsical and propulsive, with memorable guitar work.
9. “Sandblonde” – The Bear & The Sea. I am here to state that I never stopped loving chillwave.
Awkward Age‘s self-titled 7″ is four tunes of straightforward three-man pop-punk. It takes less than eight minutes of your time, because Vic Alvarez and co. don’t mess around. They throw down hooky guitar riffs, wicked bass lines, rapid-fire drumming and melodic vocals. But it’s not all chord-mashing; they find the time to kick in an unexpected breakdown during “In Montreal,” and there’s a tiny guitar solo in “You Can’t Deny This,” and … okay, the rest is chord mashing. And it’s great, because they know that you don’t have to pad the run-time to improve the quality. If you love pop-punk without girlishly high vocals, try out Awkward Age.
From Dick Dale and “Wipeout” to the Pixies and the San Francisco garage-rock explosion of late, surf-rock has been the ground zero of some wild, wild music in many eras. Charlotte’s Hectorina continues the tradition, mixing surf, prog, punk and garage rock into a zany amalgam. The band’s Hey Hey Safety Man EP crams all of that into three slices that (also) clock at just under eight minutes.
In that span, they find time for three drum solos (one in “Beware of the Red Ape,” two in “K-Town Makes a Comeback”), frantic howling (“Beware”), a straight-forward rock bit (the opening of “Dirty Carl’s Majestic Barba”), and noodly experimental guitar bits (everywhere). By the time you wrap your head around everything that’s happening, it’s over. They say they’re writing a “double-album rock opera entitled Collywobble sometime later this summer.” I can’t even imagine what they’ll come up with to fill a canvas that large, but after this EP, I’m willing to stick around and see. If you’re up for something different, give this one a shot.
Greek rockers The Finger have been releasing song after song from their upcoming full-length album, and title track “I Don’t Believe My Eyes” is the latest. The dark, mysterious tune has a great groove going for it, meshing well with the alto female vocals. The slinky, forceful bass melodies power the song through to the big pay-off—and it is big. You should be looking forward to their album.
Developing: Dylan Gilbert, whose career Independent Clauses has been following for years, is prepping a rock opera with a new band named Hectorina. The band has released two of the tracks at their Bandcamp, and it’s safe to say that they’re heavy on the rock. There’s a ton of different influences thrown in, so this could get very interesting.
New year, new run: I’m going for the New Orleans Rock’n’Roll (Half) Marathon in March. I know, I was astonished that such a thing existed too. Apparently “alternative, classic and punk rock to blues, jazz and soul” will be played at every mile. This sounds like the greatest idea ever. And I’ll need some workout music, so here’s RunHundred‘s top tracks from December: