There’s a hip hop scene that’s been brewing for decades in an area dominated by plastic pop music. While most artists chase the dollars attached to cheesy radio- and tv-friendly splashes in the pan, a coterie of artists have been innovating underground and developing something new.
We’re talking, of course, about South Korea’s undergroup hip hop scene. Local artist Keith Ape hit it big earlier this year with his video “It G Ma” and broke into the American hip hop market. Keith is turning into a global trap star, with plans for more releases soon.
Moondragon is a retrowave synth project by Troy Simpson of Pensacola, Florida. The debut album, Man And Machine, contains a dozen tracks of perfect 1980s synth nostalgia. The music focusses on impressive machines and the people who pilot them.
A new voice from the Midwest comes from songwriter Matt Mooney. He’s introducing or perhaps just reworking a modern interpretation of a Ziggy Stardust-esque persona with his alter-ego/stage name Royal Holland. He’s just self-released 2 of 3 eps that tell a tragic story of young love lost through death and the sky kingdoms’ tyranny. In the songs, he tries keep her memory alive and also deals with his surmounting grief.
“I’ve been in many bands over the years like local favorite Koala Fires, but this is the first time I’ve ever branched out as a solo act. It began by simply busking with my guitar and writing a lot of songs. I developed some backing tracks that had some dance beat elements to them and was starting to flesh out the tunes in my head. This was the basis for Vol. 1 – The Maze,” Matt shares.
The “Pizza King” video is simple enough: Matt and his guitar shot upward. And he’s just this big scraggly hipster dude with a huge-ass beard, and you’re wondering what kind of lumberjack songs you’re about to be subjected to and why the fuck it’s called “Pizza King”.
And then he starts singing …
… and this angelic voice drifts above his guitar, singing perfectly-crafted Americana about isolation in the midwest. And you start to learn more about the song and that’s it’s by this Cincinnati-based band called Wussy and you want to look them up, too.
And Royal Holland keeps singing.
And all you want to do in the whole world is be driving to Terre Haute with the windows down in the summertime listening to this song on repeat the whole way.
ScotDrakula is great for people who enjoy getting high in the back seat. Also, early glam looks before they were fashionable, sort of a burned-out early 80s punk aesthetic. As well as strong guitar riffs, tambourines … and did we mention getting high in the back seat?
He printed 200 copies of vinyl for his debut EP, ScotDrakula.
Americana noir band The Peach Kings have been making a hot style of psychedelic rock for the past few years. With a raw vibe and raucous stage presence, the vintage sound and aesthetic is a nod to classic cult movies and directors like Lynch, Tarantino, and Andersen.
Seriously, folks. Their sound is raw and the songwriting impeccable.
Beware: if you click this link, your speakers will explode with joy.
Matt is a hardworking musician from central Pennsylvania that writes good songs. He has produced numerous EPs on his own as well as with his band, Vintage Heart. He’s a classic folk singer who writes amazing, vivid lyrics and crafts solid songs. He enjoys string accompaniments.
Leimer grew up in a small suburb just south of Kansas City. For years, he wrote most of his songs in his bedroom – first with The Telephone Takes — a live, acoustic album that Leimer recorded on his iPhone 4 and released as a freshman. That was before attending a summer workshop called the Grammy Project in 2013. There, he met a number of musicians who, like Leimer, were young and eager to leave their mark.
Months later, when he began recording Postcard at the Weights & Measures Soundlab studio in Kansas City, many of those new friends joined him. Jason Moss, NYC-based on-the-rise mixing engineer lent his help. Local singer Gracie Schram (and Charlie Peacock protege), 21 year-old producer Max Griffith, banjo player Fritz Hutchison (of the Kansas City band She’s A Keeper) and a three-piece horn section of UMKC Music Conservatory graduates, all participated in making Postcard. Even so, Leimer wrote the songs from a personal place, reaching into his high school experience for a tracklist that veers between love songs, acoustic numbers, groove-based pop tunes and poignant tributes to home.
“This record represents a big chunk of my high school years,” he explains. “It’s everything that you face while growing up. All my friends came together and played on it, or helped me with artwork, or helped out with production. It’s just a bunch of friends helping each other out.”
Get your weekend started right with some gypsy-punk from Blackwater Jukebox. They’re an LA-based group who seem to have had some deranged adventures in Australian wine country with a (fictional?) character known as Lazarus Scamp. You can read more about their misadventures here in a blog post entitles “Blood Cults of the Barossa”.
You will read classic descriptions of their work, such as this:
Their track “Hangman Two-Step” is an obvious hybrid of the over-exposed “Gallows Pole” and Django Reinhardt’s terribly clichéd “Minor Swing.”
Truer words have not been spoken. Also, the song and the energy of the group is quite thrilling and enjoyable. Download it for free here:
We’ve got a dark track today about life on the streets in the American ghetto. The song and video are brilliant, if difficult to watch, about a young kid coming to terms with his inner city life and slipping constantly into day dreams about how he wishes his life could be.
The track comes from Brookfield Deuce, a hip hop veteran from the Bay Area. In 2010, Duece was involved in a drive-by shooting in front of his home where his car was hit with over 15 bullets but he wasn’t hit at all. Days later, Duece was convinced God spared his life to show him that his calling was to tell the story of his neighborhood, Brookfield Village, and the stories of the worlds unspoken for. He began working with producers Ryan “DJ Project” Watts and Joel “The Profit” Weston with hip-hop collective Dominant Genetikz. Watts and Weston’s production style opened the Duece’s mind, helping him become a more conceptual auteur with social, economic, and political subject matter.
Forebear combines cinematic indie rock with a unique voice and spectacular harmonies. Scott Goldbaum (formerly of Wise Cub) leads the band with beautiful vocals and melodic guitar, while classically trained Molly Rogers’ adds her viola. Mike Mussleman (drums) and Nick Chadian (bass) round out the four piece with one of the most methodical rhythm sections in indie rock today. Their lyrics capture the struggle between our interpersonal crises and living in the age of constant awareness of global tensions looming overheard.