Our newest correspondent, Brian, is dedicated to punk rock. He put together this primer to help any newcomers to the scene find some awesome bands. Enjoy!
Whether you were aware or not, this past weekend Austin Texas was in total chaos … the Chaos in Tejas music festival that is. Few harbingers of summer arrive with as much unbridled fury and aggression as Chaos in Tejas, when some of the heaviest and loudest bands from all over arrive in central Texas for several days of shows throughout the city. In the aftermath of such a brutal onslaught you may very well be saying to yourself, “My life doesn’t have enough loud, aggressive guitar rock in it. Surely there must be bands around here that can fill this void.” Indeed there must be and indeed there are such bands right here in Austin. If you’ll allow me to indulge myself I shall take you on a whirlwind tour of 9 hardcore and punk acts from the Austin area that I have recently been turned onto:
This band is easily one of my favorite finds of 2012. With tight precision Markov explore a detailed sonic landscape on their debut LP This Quiet. Evoking aural images of hardcore mainstays like Hot Snakes and Refused, Markov prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are a force to be reckoned with in the local scene. This Quiet is a whirlwind blend of razor sharp riffs and tight compositions hurtling around like a kid in a circle pit and when all is said and done this energetic, aggressive album begs for repeated listening.
Markov will be playing at Red 7 on June 8th as part of the School of Rock Classic Metal Show.
On the heavier end of the spectrum in the punk and hardcore world come Impalers. Featuring members of Austin’s Mammoth Grinder and Houston’s Hatred Surge, Impalers lean towards the crustier side of punk. Hard and fast, but sharp and jagged like the edge of a serrated knife, Impalers offer anthemic and heavy rock music scored by growling vocals and the occasional piercing guitar solo. For those looking for something with a little meat, Impalers have a couple EP’s on offer through their Bandcamp site and if you missed them during the Chaos this weekend, keep an eye out for them around town in the future.
3. The Butts
I know the name of this band doesn’t inspire much confidence, but after listening to their LP Second To All I’m willing to forgive them the sophomoric moniker. Truth be told, that sophomoric angle is part and parcel of what makes The Butts a fun band to listen to. Combining aggressive rhythms and pop hooks with an almost angsty cynicism, The Butts play a frenetic brand of punk reminiscent of 80’s heavy hitters like The Descendants and Husker Du. When all is said and done they may be a little rough around the edges in some places, but they’re aiming in the right direction and obviously having a good time doing it. Personally I couldn’t ask for more.
4. Bad Chapters
Bad Chapters is one of several local bands I came across a couple months back when I decided to comb Bandcamp for the kind of punk music I love, but had yet to stumble upon here in Austin. Their Edge of Collapse LP is a dark, crunchy auditory assault firmly grounded by impassioned vocals and a healthy dose of rage. With a riotous sound that conjures images of Hot Water Music playing Fugazi riffs, Edge of Collapse grabs you by the throat and begs to be heard. Bad Chapters’ brand of hardcore recalls the hallowed punk scenes of the 80’s and 90’s, but (drawing from a toolbox of varied techniques and stylistic nuance) still manages to feel fresh and innovative.
5. Zlam Dunk
Having recently written a review here at OVRLD of Zlam Dunk’s latest release Balcones, I think you may have an idea of how I feel about this band. Zlam Dunk play what I like to describe as “dance music for hardcore kids.” The technical noodling, dueling vocals, scorching synth and driving rhythms present in Zlam’s music just hit me in all the right ways. The mathy guitar hooks and that certain ineffable, insistent quality in the vocals manage to hook me with little effort at all and make me want to move. It goes without saying that Zlam Dunk are easily one of my favorite locals bands of 2012 and a blast to see live. I hope they don’t go away anytime soon.
Zlam Dunk will be playing at Red 7 this Thursday June 7th.
StumbleDrunk’s recent EP Collusion may be a departure from the mellower Menzingers/Gaslight Anthem-like story-telling on their Monday Evenings LP, but it’s one I’m totally on board for. Compared to their debut, Collusion comes from some darker place and the result is five tracks of aggressive, technical guitar music that follow a well-worn map of excellent punk and hardcore styling from over the past 15 years. While Monday Evenings certainly has its place, I’m very pleased with this new direction and hope to hear more in this vein from StumbleDrunk in the future.
7. Just Sayin'
“Short, loud, and fast.” If my description of Just Sayin’s debut EP Do Something seems terse, don’t take that as a bad thing. In just under eight minutes this band delivers seven tracks of pure adrenaline. Featuring current and former members of Austin hardcore, punk, and metal acts such as: Cutting Losses, The Zoltars, Dead Times, Losing Grip, and The Red Death, Just Sayin’ have the pedigree and power to plow through your skull with a cyclone of sound that will leave you on your knees.
8. The Capitalist Kids
This was another of the groups that I stumbled upon while searching Bandcamp recently and after listening to their latest 7”, “Sarah” b/w “Ayn”, I was hooked. It wasn’t just the sarcastic yet fun songs about Sarah Palin and Ayn Rand; these kids could play. While Green Day comparisons may come first and foremost to people’s minds when listening to The Capitalist Kids for the first time, there’s more going on here than meets the ear. Sure, that pop punk polish is certainly there, but for me the real guts of this band’s music lie in a combination of Bad Religion’s socio-political commentary and the humor of the Dead Milkmen. Ultimately all these elements come together to create fast, fun, satirical punk music with plenty to offer the cynics and optimists alike. In addition to the aforementioned EP, The Capitalist Kids have a couple albums on offer through Bandcamp and a new full-length on the way any day now. Stay tuned to OVRLD for my review once it drops.
9. We'll Go Machete
What’s not to love about a band that takes its name from a Lester Bangs quote? For me the answer is: nothing at all. We’ll Go Machete combine Quicksand-like grind with the ferocity of early Jawbox to create a noisy, vibrant hardcore sound that chugs and thrashes its way right to your core. There’s a bite and precision at play in We’ll Go Machete’s music and it’s been honed to a fine point. The result is a taut performance that simply won’t be denied, as piercing vocals jab at you with ominous lyrics set to the crashing cascade of jangling guitars.
This list is merely a scratch on the surface of what Austin’s hardcore and punk scenes have to offer and though I’ve only just begun to plumb its brutal depths you can be sure that I’ll be back with more before long.