This month we take a look at bands of varying styles and diverse qualities in order to obtain a broader perspective of underground music today.
Last month's article seems to have been reasonably successful, so we're ready for the next instalment. We'll be looking at a few more unsigned bands of varying genres, and that will include some metal and shred. I'd like feedback on which band is your personal favourite of those which are featured this time round. Perhaps it is best that I don't say mine outright, but it is probably going to become apparent after reading the article.Firstly we have Black Leaf Clover, a band that has a slightly greater average age than what I am used to, but I personally find the music to be enjoyable enough to feature. Head in a Basket is BLC's exemplary track, the chorus in particular worthy of one's attention. It's catchy without being cheesy, powerful without being exaggerated. I do feel that the band is lacking in studio know-how sometimes, but with influences ranging from Elton John to Megadeth, the band has got the right balance to stir any appreciative listener.
BLC is not without fault; the music could be criticized for lacking innovation at times, and although vocalist Kyle Twist's estranged cries are powerful, they are certainly more than redolent of that radio-rock friendly Nickelback sound.
What can your band learn from BLC? Just look at the photography gracing BLC's myspace page. This is top quality stuff that catches anybody's eye. The music alone might make the band seem competent, but the photography really helps to evoke the band's personality.I really like what Cormorant is doing. A black metal folk mix is just what the doctor ordered, and although the band's record label status is somewhat vague. I've decided to include Cormorant in this month's article. Fresh from a gig with Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame, Cormorant is ready for bigger and better things. I'm not sure what should be taken from the meaning of the word Cormorant, but one does notice that a cormorant is a greedy person.
Cormorant has an upcoming album, Metazoa, but for now you will have to satiate your Cormorant desire with existing digital media. With songs full of stylistic tempo changes, Cormorant is almost preoccupied, but never permits the band's stylistic diversity to belie the power of any one song. Whether Arthur von Nagel's vocals are growled or smooth, he is on form. The musicality of everything is never compromised. Just listen to Salt of the Earth to confirm this, and for some great tremolo guitar work, listen to Uneasy Lies the Head.
Cormorant has an excellent myspace page, full of information and digital media. What can your band learn from Cormorant? Well it's pretty obvious. Don't compromise your black metal music, and try your hardest to get a gig with Jello Biafra by February next year. Oh, and I dare you to play as effective a guitar lead as Nick Cohon does in Uneasy Lies the Head. This is certainly a band to monitor in the next few years, but just how much will Cormorant live up to the meaning of the band's name? How greedy are the members for success? Let's face it: Black Metal-Folk combinations just aren't for everyone.Have you heard about the 2009 Illinois Battle of the Bands Winners? The Con Men most certainly did not con their way to that title. This is some seriously accomplished blues music with generous helpings of trumpet, saxophone, and harmonica! Listen to the guitar leads in Love Me Baby; listen to the musicianship, and do not neglect Captain Jazz's suave bluesy voice. In a strange way the most impressive point about The Con Men is their ambition. Unlike other bands to which I have been exposed, The Con Men actually have a philosophy of action. After winning the Illinois Battle of the Bands, they recruited another Con Man, Evan Swanson, on keyboards, before hitting the recording studio to lay down some tracks. This is what being in a band is all about. It's the guitar solo in I'm not sure; it's the sheer genius of the name: The Con Men. Oh, and for a really, really gritty blues track, listen to Get It On. What can your band learn from the Con Men? You can learn from both The Con Men's great name, and also their prodigious musicianship!Check out Bill Peck and his band Exit the Ride. Peck is a shredder in the vein of his personal friend Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge). If you are aware of Tremonti's instructional DVDs, you have almost certainly encountered Bill Peck, who features. It is an honour to feature Peck in this article. In my discussions with him he has proven himself not only as an intelligent individual, but also a warm-hearted one who has true feelings for the music he and Exit the Ride produce. For great musicianship, check out Live Forever, a ballad that deserves to be mentioned here. Peck can shred with the best of them, but he also knows how to play rhythm guitar. His knowing when and where to play which note is a vital part of being any kind of musician in any kind of band. Having performed on multiple occasions with guitarists such as Rusty Cooley and Michael Angelo Batio, Peck is certainly someone from whom all UG readers can learn. His myspace page has many embedded youtube videos, all of which are worth a watch, even if you are not a shredder. The stand out track for me is There for Me. What can your band learn from Bill Peck? How about being the consummate professional? Peck knows his way around the business, and he certainly has credibility. His many endorsements speak for his prodigious skill when it comes to playing the guitar, one of his videos featuring 8-finger tapping. From Orlando, Florida, Exit the Ride is not just about Bill. Vocalist Sam has crme de la crme vocal chops, and rhythm section Ryan and Billy make sure that everyone is metronomic in their approach. This is one tight band.Finally, for a little bit of self-indulgence, meet punk tribute band Cash from Chaos. Hailing from West Lothian, Scotland, Cash from Chaos have toured as far and as wide as London and Las Vegas, but on the Saturday the 13th of February, Cash from Chaos took their collection of Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Damned, SLF, etc to Arbroath in Scotland. Cash from Chaos delivered track after track, doing their best to recreate the atmosphere and mood of the songs as originally recorded by 1970s punk legends, and received an energetic response from a crowd only too willing to partake in the band's antics. It may be done in good fun, but there remains something ruthlessly professional about this band. This isn't about five people generally old enough to remember the heyday of punk playing sloppy covers of songs they couldn't care less about. Particularly handy if you live in Scotland, Cash from Chaos is a must-see if you're willing to have fun. The next gig is in Bathgate at The Lounge on the 27th of March at 1930. Don't miss it! The term tribute' is thrown around loosely in today's gigging circuit, but not with Cash from Chaos.
That's it for this month. I hope you enjoy all of the bands. Give them all a listen, and whether or not you like what you hear, forward this article to as many people as you can. There's something in here for everyone! Keep suggestions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org and contact me if your band is good enough to feature. Add me on myspace.
- Samuel Agini