Category Archives: featured music

Jersey Strong: A Dive Into the Garden State’s Underground Metal Scene

Disrespecting New Jersey (occasionally to one’s peril) has become something of a national pastime, especially for people who occupy the two big metropolitan centers—New York City and Philadelphia—between which much of the Garden State is sandwiched. Whether it’s the unique accents, perceived culinary transgressions, that cursed reality show, or the idiosyncratic slang (shoobie, go home!), Jersey gets a rough shake from those who don’t understand or appreciate its quirks—or who have never seen anything outside the Newark airport. Most of the state is a far cry from the greasy urban blight the Sopranos made famous (though they did bury Paulie Walnuts down in the Pine Barrens nature preserve where I grew up). 

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Shelter Press is a Haven for Experimental Art in All Its Forms

shelter press

“Releasing something that couldn’t exist without us—that’s why we continue,” says Bartolomé Sanson, who co-runs the Shelter Press label with ambient ASMR auteur Félicia Atkinson. Seven years in, there’s already plenty that wouldn’t exist without them: career-defining LPs by Atkinson, Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, and jazz savant Eli Keszler. There are also art exhibitions staged in geodesic domes, queer sci-fi novellas, and a creative manifesto penned by a who’s who of the experimental music pantheon including Atkinson, Drew Daniel of Matmos, Jim O’Rourke, and more.

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Eight Artists Making Music Built on Buchla Synthesizers

Illustrations by George Wylesol

The history of modular synthesis is so long and tangled that it’s difficult to pinpoint any one creator. But any realistic history of the instrument must include Don Buchla. Buchla’s electronic instruments never achieved the market penetration of widely available models from Moog or Roland. Just take a look at the Buchla 100, the model he built on commission for the San Francisco Tape Music Center with a $500 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1963. A hefty silver cabinet studded with cryptic dials, multi-colored sockets, touch-sensitive panels—and, shockingly, no keyboard—it resembled something you’d find on the deck of the Starship Enterprise rather than what you’d find on stage or in a recording studio.

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Album of the Day: Cerebral Rot, “Odious Descent Into Decay”

The Seattle band Cerebral Rot—featuring members of Warpvomit, Caustic Wound, Chronic Tomb, Acid Feast, and Fetid—sound just like their resumé would suggest. Their debut LP Odious Descent seems optimized for one thing, and one thing alone: making music that’s as foul and disgusting as possible. Cerebral Rot cherry-pick the nastiest bits of doom, sludge, black metal, crust, d-beat, and, first and foremost, old-school death metal. It might be pure, unadorned aestheticism, but you can’t deny their eye for the uniquely revolting.

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Hidden Gems: Amy Denio, “No Bones”

In our series Hidden Gems, writers share their favorite Bandcamp discoveries.

Over the last three decades, Seattle-based musician and composer Amy Denio has built an impressive resume. She’s played with musically diverse ensembles like Tone Dogs and The Tiptons Sax Quartet, written scores for theater and soundtracks for films, collaborated with musicians all over the world (including KMFDM, Derek Bailey, and Matt Cameron), and won multiple awards. She’s a consistently adventurous writer and improviser, injecting a vast array of sounds into an unpredictable oeuvre.

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Big Ups: Triple B Records’ Sam Yarmuth On Six Bands He Wishes He’d Signed

Sam Yarmuth

There were two albums that introduced Sam Yarmuth to hardcore: Bane’s Give Blood and Converge’s Jane Doe. And there couldn’t be a better representation of the intermingling dichotomies of his label, Triple B Records, than those two quintessential releases.

Although Bane was formed as a side project by then-Converge guitarist Aaron Dalbec, and Give Blood and Jane Doe were released just two months apart from one another on the same label (Equal Vision Records), their respective sounds were worlds apart by the hardcore measurements of 2001. Bane’s rugged and yelly melodic hardcore anthems were embraced by stagedivers worldwide. But those were rarely the same kids who’d be head-walking and swinging dangerously to Converge’s violent breed of punky metalcore. It took a couple decades for hardcore’s pointlessly rigid factions to come together and universally accept the diversity within the idiom. And the roster Yarmuth has assembled through Triple B Records has been instrumental in bridging that divide. 

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Knife Wife Is the Future of D.C. Punk

Knife Wife

Photo by Vanessa Dos Santos

“I don’t want you to like me / I just need you to blow me” is probably the last thing someone visiting the Smithsonian American Art Museum would expect to hear echoing through the halls of the prestigious institution. So when Knife Wife took the stage last March as part of a Luce Unplugged concert series and sang exactly that, the result was—to say the least—amusingly incongruous. But Knife Wife’s deadpan delivery of explicit content wasn’t the only shocker; the band’s age was, too—two of its members are still in high school. Their raw energy and blatant disregard for their home city’s often sterile professionalism brings to mind the legendary history of D.C. punk in the ‘80s.

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On Her Debut for Brainfeeder, Salami Rose Joe Louis Goes Sci-Fi

Salami Rose

Photo by Fabrice Bourgelle

In science fiction, the most outlandish and perplexing stories often manage to hit the closest to home. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, for instance, wraps a relatable coming-of-age story in a wild tale of imminent alien attack. Books like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash detail impossibly dystopian societies that now seem alarmingly plausible. The plot around Octavia E. Butler’s prescient 1993 novel The Parable of the Sower revolves around an evil president, whose campaign slogan is—no joke—“Make America Great Again.”

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