Spotify informed me that the genre that I listened to most over 2021 was Midwestern Emo. You might remember me talking about the genre in my post about The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. It is a branch of emo music that is usually characterized by unconventional vocals (sometimes whiny with moments of abrasiveness) and glimmering guitar lines, making it more approachable than some of the more hardcore-influenced emo bands. A friend of mine recently turned me on to the New York-based emo band Cloud District, and they fit in neatly with the whiney, introspective emo music that I have really come to enjoy.
Friday, December 31, 2021
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
In the realm of popular music, most songs are fairly short and feature relatively standard song structures. These simple structures, combined with an infectious riff or a catchy vocal line are used to get stuck in your head. As you can imagine, not every musical act is aiming for such accessibility. Chicago, Illinois’ doom metal band Bongripper is a prime example of this, eschewing vocals entirely and plumbing the depths of a riff for upwards to 30 minutes in a single song. Despite this, their songs are surprisingly compelling, slowly evolving over their lengthy run times, layering new elements at a glacial pace. The band is a four piece, consisting of Ronald Petzke on Bass, Daniel O'Connor on Drums, and Nick Dellacroce and Dennis Pleckham on guitar. Their ridiculous band name came out of a joke about Sleep’s Dopesmoker neglecting to use all of the space on a compact disc (Dopesmoker is a single, 63 minute song about the Weedians traveling to Jerusalem with bongs strapped to their backs). They set out to write a song that used all 80 minutes of a compact disc’s run time, and recorded their first release, The Great Barrier Reefer in 2006.
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Fall has always been my favorite season, with the air getting colder, the leaves changing colors, and the arrival of pumpkins, and specifically jack-o'-lanterns. I have found that the perfect companion to these times are the supernatural horror stories of authors like H.P. Lovecraft. A number of years ago, I came upon a record label, Cadabra Records, that specializes in releasing Spoken Word recordings of supernatural horror stories and weird fiction, all accompanied by spectral and eerie soundscapes.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
I find a certain appeal to brevity in music. There is something admirable about being able to express yourself in a concise manner, saying what you want to say and not overextending your welcome. Hardcore punk is a genre that is often associated with brevity, where most of the songs are short and pass with blazing intensity.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
When considering the genre of heavy music, I can think of no band that is more despondent than The Body. And perhaps most surprisingly, they are able to accomplish this without appearing overly heavy-handed or gimmicky. The piercing banshee wail of Chip King, set over the distorted hum of his guitar, and Lee Buford’s monolithic drumming is truly a unique and oppressive force. As a band, the Body have been pushing against the confines of the metal genre since their inception. They have been strong proponents of incorporating noise into their music, along with utilizing pop song structures and elements of electronic music. Their album I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer was built largely from spliced together samples of their older recordings, and many of their albums feature choral arrangements from the Assembly of Light Choir, demonstrating some of their diversity of their approach to making music. Furthermore, they are incredibly prolific and are constantly working with other musicians, releasing collaborative albums with bands like Full of Hell, Thou, Krieg, and Uniform.
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Disclaimer: This post describes a song dealing with violence toward children.
In my years listening to music, I have heard many songs detailing violent or disturbing subject matter. The list of metal bands singing about atrocities is almost endless, though not many of those songs actually feel unsettling. A lot of this is due to the fact that their exploration of violent subject matter is usually just for shock value and has no air of believability. The song “Dallas Beltway” by Chat Pile is one of the first songs in awhile that unnerved me.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Over the past few years, I have found that YouTube has very effective algorithms for helping me find exciting “Midwestern Emo” bands. Midwestern Emo is a subgenre of Emo music that takes more cues from indie rock than the hardcore punk that influenced most early Emo bands. While still being guitar-driven, the guitars are cleaner and less aggressive than those from hardcore punk. The vocals are often whiny and not what would conventionally be considered “good,” though that is made up for by the singers’ earnesty. Despite the genre name, not all the bands are from the American Midwest, with notable early practitioners like Sunny Day Real Estate being from Seattle. As with most niche musical genre tags, you can find scores of Reddit posts with people arguing over what band belongs in what genre. My description would almost certainly be ridiculed by “true” emo fans.