The ones who bemoan the fall of the music industry or something along those lines just don’t know where to look.
Below, find four energetic, diverse generally punk rock songs that take unique but captivating approaches to their target.
Scroll for — in this order — a crazy punk band with a trombone, funky contemplation, mathy instrumental heaviness, and maestros of noise.
Cheap City – “The Pierre Boulez Memorial Discothèque”
Put bluntly, the Massachusetts band Cheap City sound kind of crazy on “The Pierre Boulez Memorial Discothèque,” taken from their spring 2019 release Rats and Rascals — and it’s awesome. On a foundational level, they’re playing a kind of structurally and thematically irreverent punk rock, but oh boy that’s not where they leave it. This band utilize a wild array of instruments to accomplish their biting punk sound, and somehow, even through the range, they never really lose hold of that force tying them down to the concept of emotionally meaningful punk music. In this track alone, they’ve got a clear trombone portion, and overall on Rats and Rascals they include everything from a mandolin and banjo to a saxophone.
Although the brass might make one tempted to think as much, they’re not just playing ska — rather, they seem to have imbued a musical encapsulation of the sheer wildness of life with raw energy that makes this demand some attention. The vivid lyrical story on “The Pierre Boulez Memorial Discothèque” is like the perfect cherry on top of this wonderful strangeness, relating a tale of an “underground place… smartest thinkers and the coolest drinkers love to go” with the eventual refrain: “Get down with the sound!”
Really, do it:
Science for Giants — “Momento Mori”
At once, the music from the Texas group Science for Giants feels invitingly familiar and fascinatingly unique. On their late 2018 release Toil Mortal Coil, the band start off on opening track “Momento Mori” by seeming to funnel the almost playful energy of funky, oddly timed punk rock into something that proves hard to turn away from because of the breadth of the sound. The band attract your attention with their easily danceable, not too overwhelming tune and then they deliver a hefty dose of sonic and emotional weight. Not every band could pull off this pivot quite as effectively and grippingly as they do here, but the end result of “Momento Mori” proves great and subtly powerful.
The band are definitely ambitious, but they’re not so over the top that they lose you easily. Their grounded music carries a sense of relatable humanity, even in its dismissal of the most familiar textures and structures. The song ends up feeling like a storytelling exercise — it’s an invitation to reflect on what the band themselves call the “strange nature of existence,” and one of the unique things here is that Science for Giants let you accomplish that contemplation right where you’re at while having a great time.
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resistorchestra — “All I Ask”
Boston’s resistorchestra take a different approach, delivering a subtle empowerment on their track “All I Ask” off their late 2016 self-titled EP. The song’s entirely instrumental, which allows it to provide for a more open-ended listener experience, but it’s still not just a shot in the dark. The heavy music feels rather elevating when listening through. The band start out on perhaps familiar notes of heavy metallic hardcore or something along those lines and they utilize just the right amount of mathy technicality to keep the song and the listener going forward with a solid push. The track feels like just the thing a listener might really need to accompany them through their day — without even any words, it’s a subtle shot in the arm, jolting energy and delivering focus. While the band are clearly technically proficient, they seem to utilize that proficiency quite engagingly effectively and transform those elements into a powerful musical statement of determination.
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The Brankas – “Worms”
The noisy San Francisco group The Brankas launch right into what feels like the musical equivalent of hurtling down the side of a mountain on “Worms,” the first track off their early 2017 release that’s titled, in full: My Parkour Body Is The Paint And The World Is My Canvas. I Don’t See Obstacles, I See Opportunities. (The band explain it as an adaptation of a quote from a grade school yearbook.)
The song is on one level noisy punk rock, but The Brankas feel like they obey absolutely no boundaries, which makes it great.
The metaphorical (or literal if you try hard enough) cart that you’re in while embarked on the journey of “Worms” feels wooden and rickety, meaning that while rocketing down this musical mountain, you’ve got threat coming from all sides — right next to you and at the bottom you’ll hit eventually. Upping the power of this work — The Brankas keep their creation excitingly unpredictable. Towards the end of the track, they get all quieted down and “pretty,” keeping you on your toes yet again. Although there’s a steady stream of noise turning into intensity, you don’t know what’s around the corners of this song — and it’s perfect. Musical adventure feels packed into this track that can translate into a real permeating sense of turning the corner beyond the horizon you thought would forever stay just beyond reach. Getting to the bottom of that mountain via this song, you just keep on going.
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