Double Grave formed in late 2014 as the natural next step for three friends in Minneapolis. Theirs is a broad flavor of punk, tinged with pop and noise all while unafraid of a slow burning melody or sharp turn. Grounded in the honest and idol-free energy of basements across the country, there is a palpable determination and seriousness within the band, crafted over two relentless years of playing and recording. Their first LP “New Year’s Daydream” brought it all to a head, as they explored isolation, identity, romance, truth, and friendship.
The followup 7" "Empty Hands" (co-released with Forged Artifacts) saw the trio coalesce their sound into a polished noisy package, full of scuzz-infected songs that are simultaneously accessible and endlessly rewarding.
Placing cerebral and impassioned lyrics over a dynamic and discordant instrumental bedrock, Edmonton, Alberta’s Fitness emerged with their debut album -ing in February of 2018. Gaining attention for their unique sound, which incorporated wiry guitar progressions, melodic bass work, off kilter drum lines, and surreal takes on masculinity, self-image, and belonging, the band developed a small following in Canada. Charting on college radio from coast to coast, the album ended the year as the third most played record on Edmonton’s CJSR.
On Full Well the band shifts to a more polished sound while retaining their brand of eccentric art-punk. This is an album about coming to terms with the limits of one’s understanding. Informed by a close family member’s manic episode, another family member’s deteriorating memory, the Hebrew bible, and a university graduation, the words grapple with the confusion induced by an increasingly complex and perplexing world. And although the words are sung with the fervent conviction of a street side sermon, it is a conviction that quickly reveals itself as hollow as the words devolve into contradiction, irony, and frustrated rambling. Fittingly, the instrumental foundation for these rambling lyrics shifts restlessly throughout Full Well as the band moves abruptly through time, tempo, and mood changes, never allowing the listener the comfort of knowing full well where they are, or where they may be going next. Full Well releases March 5 on New York based independent label Sad Cactus Records.
Beggar’s Pitch, the first full-length album by Free Casino is the culmination of a two year journey that finds the band disposing of all musical inhibitions. Formed in 2019 in Rochester, and now residing in Brooklyn, Free Casino dare their audience to grow with them as their songs buckle and weave through every turn.
Presently, the three-piece draws liberally from the angular, playfulness of 90’s alternative rock, as well as the jagged fringes of contemporary post-punk. With a dense interlocking guitar sound married to casual pop sensibility, Free Casino’s unlikely approach on Beggar’s Pitch yields results that are equal parts catchy and abrasive. The lyric-crafting, too, speaks to the emotional range in the group’s writing. Vocalists Jake Denning and Sean Saville trade roles as absurdist narrators, existing at an ironic distance from their caricatures. Wavering from disaffected, to contrition, to plain boredom, the stories told through these lyrics carry a rhythm of their own.
Listeners will find Beggar’s Pitch to be an organic evolution of Free Casino’s sound prior. Tracks like ‘Slam Dunk Highlights’ showcase the band’s ability to heel-turn between contemplative and manic moods. ‘Search Engine,’ on the other hand, forces an incessant urgency, propelling the track to its nerve-wracking climax. The voice of Free Casino on Beggar’s Pitch can never be taken so seriously—but the trio’s range should be.
Egg is a whirling dervish of a record from the duo of Dana Lipperman and Judd Anderman. Across Egg, the dynamic guitar of Lipperman is a destabilizing force, rarely settling into a comfortable groove, and often perilously pushing forward while being pulled back by Anderman's grounding drumming. The first single "Shed Boys" enumerates this: Lipperman's guitar is a squall enveloping the relentless drumming, furiously articulating the pathos behind Lipperman's lyrics. Building on contemporaries like Palm, Krill, Pile, and Rong, Gorgeous began in 2017 but first met many years earlier, in 6th grade science class with Mr. Holland back in the pre-aughts. A shared love of weird, rippin' music brought them together and drove them apart many times before this current strange alchemy was achieved.
Hailing from varying musical backgrounds and different local bands from Providence, Rhode Island, Lookers are something of a darkpop supergroup. Their unique and all-encompassing sound moves between dreamy lo-fi ballads to dance punk anthems with an air of anxious but determined revelry. Fronted by poet Muggs Fogarty and songwriter Rafay Rashid, Lookers fills out their sound with Bryan Fielding on drums, Nick Politelli on guitar, and Florence Wallis on bass. Their first EP, “Mirage” was released on November 9th, 2019.
Tundrastomper is four childhood friends who live in Western Mass and love it. They follow in the DIY tradition of writing, performing, and recording unconventional music in conventional basements. Their ever intriguing body of work to date spans 2 LPs, 1 EP, and an experimental tape (their latest) titled "For Steffen Only" is a caterwauling and expansive trip through the Tundrastomper organism. It is not to be missed, and it is unlike anything before it (and possibly after it, but who knows...!).