Each month offers up a number of month-end lists that highlight some of the best full-length releases. These lists are seen on a number of sites across the internet. However, what often gets lost in the commotion of creating these lists are smaller, independent releases that come in the form of 7-inch plays and split albums. These releases could feature songs from emerging talent looking to leave their mark in music or from prominent artists working with friends and other acts to create unique offerings for fans. We at Bearded Gentlemen Music thrive on digging through smaller releases, demos, and other releases that underground music has to offer. Therefore, each month we look to shed some light on a number of diverse releases you may have missed. Everything from garage rock to black metal to post-punk, and in between, could make an appearance. Take some time to sift through our selection and find something you might like from the month of July.
Nail Polish – Half Right
Brother O Brother / Ghost Wolves – The Ghost Wolves
This vinyl-only EP proves The Black Keys and Jack White are not the only artists on the blues based garage rock scene! After putting out 6 vinyl releases on 3 different labels, the Indianapolis duo Brother O Brother, started their own label to streamline the process. It was only right their first release would not only feature themselves but their friends Ghost Wolves, the riff heavy duo hailing from Austin. Brother O Brother’s brand of sleazy garage rock combines elements of blues, gospel and even a hint of avant garde and it plays well live show theatrics. The songs featured here are more polished than previous releases but maintain the core mission statement that has granted them critical claim across the US. On the other side, Ghost Wolves put a far more dangerous spin on the blues rock vibe by pairing Wanda Jackson-esque vocals with early Zeppelin riffs. Both bands play to their respective strengths by delivering a release that will satisfy any fan of The MC5 as well as anyone searching for pentatonic rock jams that haven’t been featured in beer commercials.
In addition to being vinyl-only, Romanus/Fonoflo offer an assortment of collector variants including clear, splash, glow-in-the-dark and an extremely limited ‘money filled’ version that’s nothing short of amazing! – Aaron Cooper
Walking Man “Maybel/Masquerade” – Soul Step Records
It’s hard to describe just want genre Walking Man fall under. The Nashville duo is Appalachian folk one minute then psychedelic pop the next, and often within the same song! “Maybel” begins with a scratchy guitar riff that gives way to a dirty bass groove with Michael Jackson meets Michael Hutchence vocal hook. Later it deconstructs with a late 60s organ break and finishing with a triumphant return to the guitar opening but now with hand claps and whistles like any good Delta blues song should. “Masquerade” trades some of the brooding experimentation for sunny pop sensibility. The stomping beat, acoustic guitar riff ,subtle synth and whimsical flute solo, make this B side an instant ear worm suitable for your next liberating, cross country road trip. Soul Step Records have a knack for working with unique indie artists and Walking Man fit perfectly within the roster. – Aaron Cooper
Past Life – “Nothing Left”
After making a name for themselves with their debut EP earlier this year, Past Life teamed up with the New York indie label Greenway Records to put out this vinyl-only single, calling back to the days when Alternative bands traded their their brooding angst for sugar coated vocal harmonies. The title track “Nothing Left” and it’s B-side “I’ll Be Around” are reminiscent of both Superdrag and The Raspberries with jangly guitars and melodic hooks but never delve into self-indulgent nostalgia. Paying tribute to a long lost art of power pop while maintaining modern relevance is no easy task but Past Life have somehow nailed it with only two songs. It’s a testament to how much ground a band can cover without the eye-rolling pretentiousness that seems to plague so many bands of the modern alternative rock scene. It’s witty, a little snotty, but still a whole lot of fun. – Aaron Cooper
Dendritic Arbor / Infinite Waste – Split
Gloom Pit’s very first release came out on August 26th and was an enormous occasion. The inaugural split brings titans from the east coast and west coast onto a collision course resulting in one of the most punishing 7”s that 2016 will see. Dendritic Arbor from Pittsburgh bring your head through the ringer with “Ishi” and “Snakeoil”. These two songs will make you feel like you drank a gallon of coffee and were confined in a small room. Furious fun.
It is strange but the standout track for me is the instrumental interlude “Untitled” by Dendritic Arbor. In the midst of four killer grind-y, black metal-y and doom-y songs laid down by these incredible bands this curious noise haven lays. “Untitled” made me realize that alien abductions take 3:34 to happen. Riddled with eerie sounds of grinding metal bring images of a tool shed in the middle of a dusty, abandoned farm. Rusty shears and chains rubbing against each other in the wind. That is overwhelmed over the course of the track with ominous hovering sounds that invade your every ounce of being. Listening to in the dark with good headphones brings the most realistic abduction sensation I have experienced. Way more so than any movie I’ve seen.
Oakland’s Infinite Waste supplies two downright rippers. The band’s own description on their Facebook says they are blackened doom soaked deathgrind. I’ve never been good with describing sub genres but I liked and thought how they put it would be worth repeating. Once “In Life Till Rot” and “Suicide Room” finish your body won’t know what to do. Your legs will still be tapping despite the music being over. YOU NEED MORE! That’s the best part, just flip it back over. – Matt Jamison
Static is a City – The Somniloquist EP
Is this EP from last year? Yes! Is this EP from a band that broke up last year? Yes! Do I care? Nope. I run this site so I don’t need to follow the rules of new releases. So stick it. Here’s how I came across Static Is A City… Back in July Brandon Perras wrote about the amazing and totally underappreciated and last album from Dahlia Seed. Mr. Perras was nice enough to include some links of bands that Dahlia Seed band members had since moved onto. Well, Static is A City was one of them, but like I mentioned earlier they are broken up (are you paying attention?!). Chris Skelly played guitar in both of these bands and now plays guitar in a new band called Night Battles. Anyway, it would probably be more beneficial for me to write about a band that is still active, but I do what I want. – Jon
Carvist – Demo
Okay I’ll play by the rules. Here’s a demo from a band from Oklahoma City called Carvist that came out in July of this year. Judging by their Facebook page the three dudes in the band seem super young, but what they lack in age or lack in looking old in digital photos on FB they don’t lack in creativity, musicianship, or composition skills. There’s four tracks on the demo. I love the first two tracks, especially the first track “Zared’s Reprose/Halifax’s Enmity”. Is it Hum? Is it Slint? Is it Godspeed You! Black Emperor (I ask a lot of questions)? I don’t know, but it is dreamy, heavy, and makes me happy. Hoping for big things from Carvist in the future. The band has been hinting at a mastered more full length version of this demo so hopefully they won’t disappoint me. – Jon
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.