For now, I give you three, count 'em: three, new noise-makers that all remind me of my favorite quote from Lester Bangs. Because noise can have meaning, and sometimes seemingly meaningless noise has the most meaning, and sometimes distortion isn't just the means, but the ends, here are some bands Mister Bangs may have appreciated.
"Because properly conceived and handled noise is not noise at all, but music whose textures just happen to be a little thicker and more involved than usual, so that you may not hear much but obscurity the first time, but various subsequent playings can open up whole sonic vistas you never dreamed were there."
From Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung (1988) by Lester Bangs
Brand spanking new and straight out of Philly, Pale Blondes serve up woozy, hazy post-punk with a considerable amount of style. I caught them live when they recently played Mojo Main in Newark, Delaware. Instead of a kick drum, the drummer was banging on something I'm pretty sure he stole from a marching band. Their rail-thin singer clasped the mic stand for support from inebriation as he exuded volumes of sound and charisma that far exceeded his stature. It was a compelling performance for a band that concentrated on recording an EP before really trying to book any shows. Available for free download on their BandCamp profile, the self-titled EP is short and drives directly to the point with four songs all roughly two minutes long. Distortion and compression are the primary aural themes, but the production is quality. It's clear that Pale Blondes set out to intentionally make the most of noise, molding it as they will and then getting it the hell over with. Well worth a stream, if not a download, go listen to the Pale Blondes EP.
The new album from No Age, Everything In Between, released last month to much deserved acclaim. I certainly wholeheartedly approve of it. The monotone vocals, thrumming chords, and rapid beats for all their strident sounds are almost comforting in their consistency. Randy Randall's vocal stylings are reminiscent of the nonchalant, fuzzed out approach that defined early garage and punk bands, which I appreciate. However, No Age has considerably more emotional range, and sometimes even sound like they care about the music they're making, which I appreciate even more. In particular, longer songs, like Glitter and Valley Hump Crash, that take a little extra time to develop various elements display a sophisticated level of complexity and attentive song-writing. Of course, if you're feeling apathetic, lost, or confused, your ears are more likely to find Everything In Between appealing. Track five, Common Heat, with the lyrics "everyone around you knows you're in trouble" strikes alarmingly close to home for me and mine. The more I listen to this album the more I feel that No Age has managed to musically articulate the current state of my generation in it's dilemma of realizing young adulthood. Too much? Give them several undivided listens, and we'll debate it to death.
Who's a sucker for lo-fi and boys from Cleveland? This lady right here. But, don't let my biases detract from the awesomeness of Cloud Nothings. With a full-length planned to officially debut this winter, an introductory compilation of early recordings entitled Turning On, released today on Carpark Records, a mighty fine label indeed. It is wonderfully and audibly the results of Dylan Baldi, a mad gifted 18 year-old with heart, playing around on cheap recording equipment and a computer in his parents basement. Though the songs are performed live with a full band, they are truly solo creations filled with cohesion, intimacy, and personality. They are also super catchy. Don't be surprised if refrain after refrain sticks in your brain, and you catch yourself passively mouthing lyrics as your head nods along in time. Various rumblings and official bios suggest that future recordings from Cloud Nothings will not be so saturated in lo-fi production. I'm anxiously looking forward to anything Baldi decides to do, but I hope he won't get too polished. Half the romantic appeal is that the music sounds like it's source, DIY and young, ambitious and loved. Nonetheless, I'd recommend you keep the hotbed of new talent that is Cloud Nothings on your radar in the coming months.