Everyone has music they’ve loved forever. Maybe it’s that band that first got you into music or a local favorite that you see time and time again. But, finding new music can be difficult. Bands start and end with alarming randomness, and it can be tough to get a read on what’s happening in the now. But, the fact remains that these new bands do exist. Living in Chicago, I wanted to highlight some new music from the area. These are four bands that have recorded their first releases in 2013. All of them are strong showings. Check out these demos and then go check out the bands at a show.
Escalofrio – Demo: This Chicago-based outfit blazes through just over 8 minutes of hardcore punk and scarcely relents. They mix a 90’s style dual vocal attack with male and female vocalists providing point and counter-point. The singers work really well together and it doesn’t seem like a superfluous endeavor like with many who try the two vocalist idea. The music is tight and fast, starting and stopping on a dime. Equal parts Orchid, d-beat hardcore, and straight-forward nasty punk, it shifts seamlessly from aggressive slow parts to blasting speed with ease. The drumming on this recording is astounding, which is no surprise since Matt from Expendable Youth/The New Yorker is behind the kit. Tastefully short sound clips tie the whole thing together well.
The Valenteens – Emma Lee b/w Later: These two songs are not enough output by this band, but I guess that’s part of what keeps me coming back to this recording again and again. The guitars and bass are a noisy assault of pop gold. The simplicity of the guitars offers a perfect base over which super catchy vocal hooks grab you immediately. The bass sounds filthy in the best possible way and the guitars are just distorted enough. The drumming is busy to the point where it provides some interesting texture without overwhelming the pop melodies that are the stars of this recording. Whet your appetite for more Valenteens with this perfect blend of pop hooks and firmly rooted punk production.
Big Zit – Demo: From the moment you lay eyes on the bizarre scrawling that makes up this demo’s cover art, you know you’re in for something weird. And weird it is. Big Zit is certainly a hardcore punk band, there’s no doubt about that. The buzzsaw guitars lay a solid foundation and often get a bit noodley with some spastic leads and random solos. The drumming is fast, hard, and tight, but also contains some less straight forward subtleties when you least expect them. The bass and drums lock in perfectly, which makes sense considering the two musicians have been playing in bands together for a while. The bass playing on this tape is incredible, holding down the rhythm when it needs to and veering off onto its own path at just the right times. The vocals bring this tape to another level completely. The yowling, unintelligible shrieks are reminiscent of Bad Brains, but stand on their own as something pretty unique. The highest pitched portions on the first song can be a bit much, but vocals for the rest of the tape are pretty on point. All in all, a solid showing of totally interesting weirdness.
Carbonleak – Demo: Shoegaze. Dream pop. You hear about it all the time, but, as with many trendy genres, bands don’t often do it justice. Carbonleak does. This suburban band has it down to a science on their four song demo tape. Driving, somber melodies that don’t bore the listener to tears are this band’s forte. The vocals are subdued and borderline monotone, but fit the music perfectly. The guitar sound is noisey and slightly low in the mix, creating a jangly backdrop for the bass lines to be heard over. Still, the few guitar leads that Carbonleak does utilize will be stuck in your head for days. As is sometimes the case with this type of music, the bass is actually the star of the show here, weaving deftly between solid, backbone style riffs to interesting melodic leads (the song “Baptized” comes to mind). The drumming is stolid and tight, compelling without being showy. With this first recording, Carbonleak shows infinite promise in doing this genre exactly right. It’s moody, emotionally evocative, and engaging. I can’t wait to hear more.