Nothin’ Matters And What If It Did

25 Jun

HCK Nothin Matters

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Thee Tsunamis

“Drag”

Thee Tsunamis-Optimized

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If I end up remembering anything about 2014 it will be for two things; binge eating a case of donuts every five weeks like a meth addict fresh off of work release and ripping Delirium and Dark Waters (Magnetic South) to the point that I name checked them into every fringe point of conversation (oh, you like Halloween? Have you heard of Thee Tsunamis?).

For all that my love came to expect and anticipate from these rad chicks outta Bloomington,IN I still cannot believe how much of a progressive step forward Saturday Night Sweet (Magnetic South) is in craft and in texture. Where DATS found itself winsome in it’s DIY garage-pop tone, SNS feels like the ending scene in Just One of the Guys where we find out that Joyce Hyser may have been the cute boy next door type when strutting around looking all Ralph Macchio with tube-socks shoved down the front of her pants but when push comes to shove, and she finally rips that tux off, we realize as she stands topless on the beach that yes in fact she is a total babe and we all should be ashamed for not having noticed her intelligence sooner when clouded by hormones and a stunning soundtrack. The lessons we learn in life. What I’m saying is Thee Tsunamis have gone from being the cute next door types to being legitimate members of the rock n roll scene and it all comes into clarity on this latest record.

I’m tired of females dumbing down their music to not upset the scene aesthetic to feel accepted, I’m tired of quasi-feminist teenagers pretending they are fighting gender stereotypes which cause condescension while playing right into them as if by being a choice it is some outspoken representation of freedom. SNS is what happens when a band spends less time trying to paint an image for themselves and more just sitting in some hot-ass practice-space shaping songs to represent both their progress and their arrival. No longer do Thee Tsunamis want to be where the boys are, they’ve cleared that hurdle, now they are just another band in a van hoping the saturated dream really isn’t a sham, success or failure comes now at the hands of fate, not in the wake of mediocre talent cheerled by ambition and childish understanding of a very complex and defeating path to navigate.

If there were one track more likely than the others to get burnouts on the level it should be”Drag“which shows these dudes putting their usual Cramps homage on bong-ice and giving the middle finger to burger bands walking around like they are the only musicians on the planet able to hone in on that mid-sixties surf-psych revival spreading like a yawn in homeroom. How nice it is to find a band pulling on those strings of nostalgia without making me nauseous by it. I’d say we’ve come far enough into 2015 to start mentioning best albums, well consider this my write in.

Bonus:

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The Tsunamis – Bandcamp | Facebook | Magnetic South

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Flesh Panthers

“Elevator Girls”

Flesh Panthers-Optimized

Every single song Flesh Panthers have given us has been a consistent juxtaposition of angsty noise and loosely technical craftsmanship. It’s more of the same on their latest offering.

I’ve listened through the new self-titled record (Dumpster Tapes) three times already and it is everything we would hope it to be, less motivated for a single, more ambitious in the way of proving exactly who they are. Grab a copy, play it for your friends, be cool.

As far as I can tell; this is the first record Dumpster Tapes has ever put out on vinyl, signifying a new step in a rad direction for a label that has earned it significantly.

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Flesh Panthers – Bandcamp | Facebook | Big Cartel | Dumpster Tapes

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Dumb Punts

“Hey You”

Dumb Punts-Optimized

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As I pieced together the In Defense Of Lost Causes post I found myself diving headfirst into some Aussie wormhole which has been gloriously hard to pull myself out of. There are so many rad bands putting out album after album of gnarly rock n roll, reaching the point where I’m carrying this delusional belief of Australia being basically the world in which the Daggers exist in Thrashin’. If, in fact, that is the case then Dumb Punts would be their version of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (if you haven’t seen the movie then hold your breath on that being a shitty reference).

Dumb Punts just dropped a new record Coupla Couplas (Pissfart Records) last month and although “Hey You” may be what gets me the most stoked for these dudes, it was originally not going to be included on the record (now it’s a bonus) here’s some other noise they have made on the level you’ll dig:


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Dumb Punts – Bandcamp | Facebook | Pissfart Records

 

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Küken

“Black Rose”

Kuken

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For the love of god check out Küken‘s S/T record (Dumpster Tapes) .

Thrash Punk? Descriptors suck man and I’m stuck throwing them around like they actually mean something. How in the hell does one talk about four hundred bands a year and not find themselves feeling like all of the most fitting words were already spent on lesser bands when a group this dope finally comes along?

There’s a symmetry in how they sweat, I could listen to each drop crashing down onto analog all day. It’s not even what they sound like that gets the coffee streamlining to my heart it is what they are not; they aren’t a band trying too hard, they aren’t a band pompously believing they are doing something new and entertaining, they aren’t a band pretending to be better than they really are. Not to downplay the fact the rhythm concepts are accessibly intelligent, because of course that plays into Küken’s greatness, but at the core it is simply stripped down, reel to reel sounding, rock n’ roll made by a couple of dudes who would probably be alright to have a beer with.

I put this song up simply for it being track one on a record I’ll be playing perpetually for the next few weeks. The cassette release is limited to 100 copies and the vinyl has 400.

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Küken – Bandcamp | Facebook | Dumpster Tapes

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Raw McCartney

“Midwest Eject”

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Raw McCartney feels like an after hours party you were probably too fucked up to stop into but did anyways, it’s four in the morning in some green lit basement, you know no one but the records getting spun kill so you kind of just go with it hoping the cops don’t show up and you don’t blackout but either way things will probably be alright.

I’ve been geeking about music for a long time and I can say without a doubt the most prolific artist I’ve ever come in contact with is Jacob Gardner. I saw the dude go from busking six hours a night, talking with star struck eyes about Devendra Banhart while playing The Black Keys covers in front of a bagel shop in Indianapolis, to landing some sweet SXSW spots last year and opening for every gnarly band that stops through Indiana (ie, Jeff the Brotherhood, Cheetah Chrome, etc,…) which although may not seem much in comparison to the major label dreams everyone assumes musicians have but when you pride yourself on the strange and kick the modus operandi to the curb the way Raw MacCartney does, the ceiling for your ambitions isn’t exactly high just wide. The dude has a vision,talent, and the ability to surround himself with ideal musicians to walk the path with, although it’s taken half a decade for this incantation to arrive, it’s been absolutely worth the wait.

I went back to Indianapolis last week and stopped through some venues to check the local talent out, the annoyances I had while living there came back ten fold… why are they so hellbent on being weird instead of good? It’s gross for the most part. I saw one drummer playing a bucket and some spoons, another guitar player going through two amps (probably for “true stereo” or some shit) when one would have perfectly sufficed to scream his jazz chords bathed in slap-back. I don’t want to go into some rant about their fear of failure fueling their need to be different, who has time for that, I mention it only to point out that yes every now and then a band such as Raw McCartney does rise out of that cesspool to blow our minds.

With so much dynamic texture to their noise I can’t help but think Zappa would have signed them to Bizarre just from the guitar tone alone, not to mention the thin lo-fi drums tic tic ticking in the back, the way everything falls over itself when the vocals come in, The Spits like driving bass, the lead so frantic with energy that every single touch is a solo waiting to rail off over everyone else but never quite does.

There’s a hint of danger, a spot of terror, where are they taking me and will I be able to escape once we’re there. They sound like a Saturday in Fountain Square before the yuppies moved in, back when the cops only ever showed up two hours late, when you didn’t worry about parking only about being robbed. They sound like freedom and J.X. Williams films, like the sort of band Darby Crash would have formed if he’d been born in the midwest during the 80’s. Raw McCartney are proof that the future does exist in all its dangerous glory.

You can grab a Midwest Eject 7″ via Italy’s Goodby Boozy Records here. Case-in-point, these dudes could get six labels in Indiana to put their shit out on vinyl but they go through some obscure yet respectable label out of Italy, there’s a high premium on weird out of the midwest, this is quite possibly the only band it’s worked out for thus far.

Raw McCartney – Bandcamp | Facebook | Goodbye Boozy Records

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The Raydios

“Brand New Kid”

The Raydios

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Tokyo’s The Raydios rail so hard it is practically uncomfortable listening to their noise without having a leather jacket on or someone else’s girlfriend under my arm. They hit inherent cool as good if not better than any band state side and they seem to pull it off with far less effort, probably been that way since day one (ahem Flowers Travellin’ Band) but my knowledge is minimal.  If I never again hear someone talk about creating or dying “scenes” it would be heaven but until that fabled reality comes into existence I’ll say the most snuffed and solid ones which come to mind are ocean locked. No one seems to get that, you don’t move somewhere and create shit, you have to feel relatively helpless in connection to the world and you have to be living on the poverty line.

Something about being nihilistic and starving creates the greatest “alive in the moment” “if we go down we go down together” “nothing matters and what if it did” rock n roll…. The best kind. The kind that happens out of necessity to release all the frustration you have with your own ineffectual limitations in the face of a world which has already forgotten you not out of some burning desire to prove how cool you are. Those are the moments where Guthrie comes out of, where blues hit stride, when the power shuts off in Brooklyn and Bambaataa and Richard Hell become a figure head of a movement. You need a reaction, not a bunch of dudes with trust fund money buying Fender Jaguars because Cobain did. What I’m saying is if we’re waiting to see a band like The Raydios rise out of San Francisco it is a slow train coming.

Australia, Japan, these are the places hungry eyes should look, there’s salvation in the records they collectively are creating, we’d be far better off if we were mimicking what was coming out of there rather than being hellbent on trend setting, watching history with fiendish eyes trying to jump in on the circle a few steps ahead of where it plans to repeat. The Raydios get that, they plug in their amps, they half-way tune their guitars, and nothing but perfection and unpretentiously pretentious anthems are gifted to us.

It’s strange having spent the first twenty years rallying for progress in sound, buying into trend after trend after trend to suddenly be so enthralled by that static sound of power chords with a purpose (mainly free beer) that’s been intrinsically evolving without ever losing shape or soul, no other form of music this side of classical has managed to do that. This comes from the fact that every other genre always has the late twenties dudes talking about how this guy or that guy is the reinventor of free-form jazz or something, that’s never the case with rock n roll, there’s always been that inclusive, “let this be our thing” sort of awareness where instead of propping up heroes we crucify them. Then again I just finished Please Kill Me for the fourth time and that always upsets just how in touch with reality I am.

Either way The Raydios have been doing this for fifteen years without selling out (whatever the fuck that means anymore) and without seeming bitter or weary to still be doing it. I wish that wasn’t some unicorn like exception but these dudes truly are rare. I’m glad they’ve stuck with it, I hope they are too.

The Raydios – Facebook | Twitter | Slovenly Records

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The Sun Machine

“Sound of Decent”

The Sun Machine

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Look, I’ve gotten a lot of drugs from a lot of people in my lifetime but this latest dude rules beyond all measure. How many guys can you call up for some front-me-til-friday bud and end up leaving with a pocket full of local tapes?  Once he sent me off with a fuzz pedal for the hell of it. Seriously, what kind of planet am I living on? Beats the hell out of fighting off meth heads or someone’s angry step-mom as in every other town I’ve lived.

It’s not fate by a long shot or anything but when I’d already written most of this review of The Sun Machine and one of those free tapes just so happened to be their latest Drag City there was a brief circumstantial kismet in the air. Like the universe was giving me a pat on the back for doing a good job, as if what I’m doing were noble and just.

So I stumbled over the first record from The Sun Machine some time last year and found myself skipping through tracks waiting for “it.” They were a band obviously unaware of each players strengths, not mature enough to skate around each of their own weaknesses, and too early in the process to make a giant sounding song better yet an entire captivating record. There was potential, that was apparent, they just hadn’t figured how to draw it to the surface. I’m not being negative here, every band has a beginning and rarely is it an expressive mind blowing occasion, typically it’s just that first stone on a path to discovery. A little more than a year and a half later and it seems like they collectively found Jesus, Drag City shows a band born again, tried by the flames of Austin and ready to be an important part of a scene in need of their presence.

I caught them live for the first time maybe two months ago when my buddy Zach Cooper (The Gory Details) invited me out to catch their set at Spiderhouse, expectations were low, I really just planned on drinking a few beers and hanging with homies. I even drug my feet about going in once their set started up and probably missed the first song or so. My favorite bands in town only keep my attention for maybe four songs, I stood through The Sun Machine’s entire set digging it completely. There were some rough spots, a few instrumental mishaps, a break between two songs that felt annoyingly long, yet their groove felt welcoming to fall into.

They stole my attention with solid songs, managed to sell their personalities (something only The Bad Lovers seem to do well in town) and tied it all together with a wall of tight instrumentation played with notable presence. I’m probably stoked the most about how their set was actually rounded rather than the a-typical fast or slow version of the same song as is the case with other great local bands (ie, Fleshlights, OBNII’s, Annnabelle Chairlegs, etc….). If these dudes shuffle across the country anytime soon make sure to catch them, they impress with every passing second.

The Sun Machine – Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

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The Blind Shake

“Holy Road”

The Blind Shake - By Angel Delgado Reyes

The Blind Shake – By Angel Delgado Reyes

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Fly Right (Slovenly Recordings) is basically a thicker, more precise, Seriousness (Learning Curve Records) on some chill weed. The record isn’t exactly soft, it’s more like they finally quite caring about looking cool.

Fly Right isn’t my favorite record they have put out, obviously feelings may change after walking around in it for a while, “Holy Road” though is definitely my favorite song their hands have made; Droney without falling victim to the current quasi-psych trend, dripping guitars holding hands in tandem with the lyrics to the very end, vocals threatening out of the gate to wash off into some dribble of reverbed nothingness only to remain bold and charming, and the whole thing clocks in at a minute and twenty eight.

I realize it is far from a novel or new concept but The Blind Shake have an important place in music at this precise moment. It’s real rad to see a band work so hard for so long and still seem to give all of themselves to their craft. How many bands can we say that about? Thinking deeply we might each come up with, what, maybe twenty bands to get defensive over, I’m real glad these dudes exist.

The Blind Shake – Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Slovenly Recordings

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Rolland Hazzard

“Here To Stay”

Rolland Hazzard

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I’ve had a RADnotBad draft written up for Rolland Hazzard for six months now, each time I talk to the dudes about it they keep telling me to hold off until the new record is ready. Who knows if that unicorn will ever appear but at least we’ve finally got a new single from them so I’m running with that for the time being.

If I were still a virgin, fifteen, and this were Almost Famous, Rolland Hazzard would be my Stillwater. I met these dudes two years ago, the band I was playing in at the time practiced in the same space at Superpop Records (now Sweetheart Studios) as they were finishing up their album Young Girls (which has apparently disappeared from the face of the internet despite being solid as hell). Most people never stick with us, they felt like brothers since the very beginning. That’s the kind of dudes they are, they make you feel like family.

In the time which has passed since this band has earned my absolute respect one show at a time. I’ve seen them play for ten people at the Carousel Lounge two years ago to a sell out crowd at the Gypsy Lounge in December and never once have they been any less than humble about the success, more so every single show, regardless of night or venue, they show up with the same confidence you would expect from a band playing their third capacity gig at Madison Square Gardens. I’ve never seen a band show up even close to the way Rolland Hazzard does. Supposedly Bob Seger was like that early on, I could see these guys being on his level some day…. and for the exact same reasons; Great presence, large yet simple lyrically driven songs, and the ability to make nearly any crowd that shows up appreciate what they are doing.

Unless you’re an asshole you’ll love these dudes; they’re not garage, they’re not angsty, they’re not skuzzy, which keeps a certain demographic in this city from giving them a second glance,  they’re just real Topeka people looking to have a good time and they just so happen to know their way around a stage and studio like they were born for it.

There are incredible bands in Austin making mind blowing music but there are only two bands I would put my entire retirement pension (which at this point is a box of Yo MTV Raps cards and a few hundred VHS tapes) on the line for and that’s Annabelle Chairlegs and Rolland Hazzard. I’ve been chasing bands around and pretending to play guitar for a long long time and I’ve come to realize that what I lack in charisma or personality I make up for with spot on band predictions. Rolland Hazzard are about to skyrocket into the social ether whether the Hotel Vegas crowd is ready to concede to it or not, there are no keymasters to success and art is not a democracy, Rolland Hazzard are the complete package and rightfully so.

They’ve got a tour slated for the fall and there’s been talk of hitting Europe towards the end of the year as well. As soon as I know, so will you.

Rolland Hazzard – Bandcamp | Facebook

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Banditos

“Still Sober (After All These Beers)”

Banditos-Optimized

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The homies are doing big things!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even though the entire world is catching wind of these guys to the point a small site such as HCK! really doesn’t make a difference for them, it seems worth noting one last time what I know about Banditos; they‘ve been grinding it completely day in and day out for years now, they are super positive and open people who make everyone they come in contact with feel like best friends even when only running into them a few days out of the year, they’re completely humble, and most importantly their collective talent blows any two bands on this week’s list out of the water.

Every now and then a band makes it out without selling their souls, Banditos are one of those unicorn bands. It breaks my heart a little every time I see rad friends grow out of reach through success, at the same time though there is this appreciation, like the ending of Good Will Hunting when Ben Afleck walks to Matt Damon‘s door for the last time. That is spot on how it feels. There are great things waiting for these guys, it is nice to see the world not ignore everyone who matters to me. Most importantly though, I’m glad a decent label such as Bloodshot Records were the ones to swoop them up instead of one of the vulture labels, their future is so bright!

Banditos – Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bloodshot Records

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Frankie & The Witch Fingers

“Lou Reed”

Frankie And The witch fingers

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Maybe it’s the fact that the Allah-Las disappointed me so much with their last effort or possibly it is some manifestation of my desiring Cosmonauts to cut out all the drone bullshit from time to time, whatever the case may be Frankie & the Witch Fingers get me stoked for getting it right when everyone else is just trying too damn hard.

Like Thee Tsunamis, Frankie & the Witch Fingers are out of Bloomington,IN. Only these dudes are actually smart enough to jet from that shithole of wasted effort and flavor of the week hype (keep keepin on Apache Dropout maybe someday the world will realize what you’ve been offering it) so now they call Los Angeles home and should be positioned to actually do something other than stroke each other’s egos until breaking up. by doing so

Despite the fact that Pitchfork has already caught wind of these dudes and tossed down a few crumbs of recognition for their “Vibrations” video I’m not yet ready to leave it to those bastards steering the ship to make or break this band because frankly they just don’t get it anymore (probably never did). It’s like they sit on the steps of Urban Outfitters and jot down every band they hear patrons mention on the way in and out and that’s who they write about. Can’t Coachella just go ahead and announce next year’s lineup early so they have a stack of bands to regurgitate hype about for the rest of the year?

I digress, as usual, this is a great band worthy of far more than having the scarlet label of “psyche” pinned to their chest. They may fit loosely into the mold of the current 60’s throwback trend but it does not define them and their music far exceeds being discarded/heralded for similarities.

Bonus: Drummer Glen Brigman put out two solo tracks in March and they are solid.

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Frankie & the Witch Fingers – Bandcamp | Facebook

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Lexi Len & The Strangers

“The Junkie’s Wife’s Blues”

Lexi Len

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Lexi Len‘s still got a few years ahead of her before she will blow any of our doors off, her Favorite Things record is a streak of hopeful ambition worth getting into but really more of a landmark to use for an artist still unsure of the footing they’ll use to climb out of Indiana. It’s fine to be critical here, because underlying the entire record is a very pointed awareness that she is onto something pure and honest and just needs either a few more years to be tried by the fire of the road or a few more douche bags to come through and wreck up her life a bit, after all it is country and those are the factors which make greatness.

“The Junkie’s Wife’s Blues” though is one of the best songs I’ve heard in years. Their is not one mixed lyric or out of place lead line, this song could single-handedly put a band on the stage at The Grande Ole Opry, or at least it would if the only good (heavy emphasis on good) bands they let play there weren’t limited to being over sixty years old. Explaining how dark the days have been for the last twenty years in country music could take me days to fully type out, thank god not everyone has given up hope yet.

I’ve played this song twice a day for going on three months now and you should too, what a great piece of craft. Honest, perfect, pointed, and actually about something people, at least in my circle of life, can fully relate to. I’m so glad I stumbled over this record. I hope she keeps at it, there’s a world waiting for more of this style of music and very few babes with enough grit to take to the task, Lexi Len could truly be important someday.

Lexi Len & The Strangers – Bandcamp | Facebook

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Drunk Mums

“Nanganator”

Drunk Mums

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Well I’m yet to mention these dudes for a single person whose heard of them and that is downright offensive. Drunk Mums rule in every way possible and still have yet to caught the attention of hardly anyone outside of their hood in Australia. Or maybe I just hangout with a bunch of burnouts who think that the only good bands left in the world live within ten miles of them. I’ll say the later is probably most likely.

Plus, if we’re being honest I hadn’t heard of them until January of this year so I’m just being another asshole in a world of assholes pretending that my awareness of a band is the catalyst for their success or something. As I often say, I’m not fooling myself into believing anything I put up on HCK! makes a damn bit of significant difference for these bands, great music will find the right ears with or without some slub on a laptop’s help, but if in twenty years I’m telling my nephew about this rad band I wish was still around I want to do it with a clear conscience that I did everything I could to get them a few more dollars into their pockets to keep the dream alive. I like to pretend it makes some kind of difference if even it’s only to let the band know that someone out their is actually paying attention.

So I’ve made up a list of why these dudes rule…. to simplify my love here’s the top 3:

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Drunk Mums – Bandcamp | Facebook

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The Rubs

“Round We Go”

The Rubs

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Finally a full length from a band that’s been getting me Viagra hard for way too long. A cross between Bad Sports and Snake Flower 2 with just enough Chicago youth mixed in to not have them sounding jaded. They’re currently piecing together a tour heading west to honor the release. I’ll let ya know for sure if they make it down to Austin. Although loosely released already, the new record pointedly titled The Rubs Are Trash will fully come into existence in July. The wait is killing me!

The Rubs – Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

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The Zoltars

“16-17-18 Living”

The Zoltars

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The Zoltars are a sleeper band out of Austin. They lack the flash or socialite narcissism it takes for bands to become staples of the local spotlight but they are damn good and everyone knows it. They are also one of the harder working bands in town, continually progressing their sound, touring, going from the always spot on CQ Records to the all-coveted Burger Records, playing rad shows, the whole bit, and yet every time I have one of their songs playing in my car or at work someone (who most likely has already seen them play twice) is asking who they are. So it goes with great music I guess. I’m not sure when the full record will be released but you can pick this track up alongside a bunch of other solid noise as part of this Burger Records Sampler.

Zoltars – Facebook | CQ Records

 

Khun Narin

“Lam Phu Thai”

Khun Narin

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If you haven’t figured it out yet,  I’m a huge supporter of the legalization of marijuana and Phin bands who can play a single song for four hours and keep my attention the entire time. The two are related I think. Anyways, turns out Khun Narin went and actually put out a record after all the hype from their youtube video sharing the rounds with bros such as myself so after all the happiness they’ve brought to my life it would be a true injustice not to share what they’ve put out into the universe.

Khun Narin – Bandcamp

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All songs are used expressly for promotional purposes. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed contact us at heycoolkid@yahoo.com

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