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, EPs, and splits. 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 not found on full albums. Here at Bearded Gentlemen Music, we thrive on digging through smaller releases the underground scene has to offer. Each month we shed some light on a number of diverse releases you may have missed. From garage rock to black metal. Post-punk to country, anything can happen! Take some time to sift through our selection and dig on this!
Misþyrming / Sinmara – Split 10″
There has seemed to be an advent of Icelandic black metal fairly recently. A slough of bands have been churning out stunning displays of frigid might. Two Reykjavik bands that stand out are Misþyrming and Sinmara. The bands feature members of fellow Icelandic, or partially Icelandic bands like Martröð, Naðra, Skáphe, and Svartidauði. The pedigree is stout, the musical execution is ominous. Each band contributes a single track, Misþyrming with “Hof” while Sinmara unleashed “Ivory Stone.” – Cody Davis
Grizzlor / Godstopper – Split 7″
Drop the needle and right off the bat you know you are listening to Grizzlor. Their sound is unmistakable. Never shy about flashing their love of old science fiction is what sets them apart with their take on noise rock. The two tracks they contribute on this 7” are the perfect soundtrack for your next radioactive bug smashing field trip. Flip the 7” over and you are treated to two tracks from Toronto’s Godstopper. “Down Here For Long” is an aggressive little number that is helping me get over the fact that Fight Amp called it quits. Brash and in your face rock. Things get strange with “Cellophane”. They flip the script and sing an oddly pleasant ballad. Strange in a good way. Strange in a Qui way. Released by Corpse Flower Records on yellow vinly (limited to 300 copies). – Matt Jamison
Almost Pioneers – EP
With so much noise rock going into my ears everyday, it’s good to drop a needle on something a bit more relaxing every now and then. Almost Pioneers is a Denver based husband and wife duo that writes and performs the kind of music you would hear at a family get together or an open mic night at your favorite coffee house. Among the bare bones acoustic guitar, vocals, tambourine and the occasional violin, there’s zero manipulation controlling these songs. Each of the 4 songs gradually transition from perky country to emotional alternative folk. Without the crutch of digital effects or relying on a niche gimmick, the music is simple, clean and not defined by a single genre. There’s an endearing quality in this EP that I find comforting like catching up with an old friend. That’s something the singer/songwriter scene has been missing as of late. – Aaron Cooper
Moonwalks – A Little Touch Of Gravity 7″
“A Little Touch Of Gravity” opens with a psychedelic wall of noise before dispersing into an impressively chunky intro guitar riff. There isn’t a single second to think straight however, as an undercurrent of noise carries the track along. There is actually an astute balance of classic rock and roll and a more futuristic tone to the track, with the guitar riffs doing just enough to keep your focus dead centre just as the subtle space-rock nuances fire off in the distance. The vocals follow the theme of the latter, both distorted and incoherent but merely functioning as an added layer to what is already a mish-mash of sounds.
Side B is “Steam Train”, a less frantic affair than Side A. The guitars aren’t as overpowering and the backdrop of noise is a lot calmer. At around the halfway point the track morphs into an entirely new one; The drumbeat changes, the vocals becomes lighter and the guitar riffs constantly shift and alter, adding new layers each time. The calmest element of the track is actually the vocals, giving off the impression of Moonwalks being the eye of the tornado, embracing the chaos being created around them. – David Dring
Joy Orbison – Off Season/ Fuerza
Both of the tracks on Joy Orbison’s second batch in his “first new material since 2012” extravaganza due to unfold throughout the year were first aired on his fairly impeccable Dekmantel podcast last year. Here getting their official release via Hinge Finger, it’s suffice to say that Joy’s music is always as eagerly anticipated as it is ravenously lapped up.
‘Off Season’ cuts to the mechanical heart of his more banging output. A relentlessly sunken breakbeat march through swirling tough-as-nails circles and single-finger bleeps lead it into an eerie, analogue- synth driven mid-point recalling the spaciousness of ‘90s pirate radio favourites. ‘Fuerza’ aims for more recognisable humanity as early field recordings of London street- banter submit to an ever mesmerising, warm trajectory that smacks of glorious sunsets viewed by Hackney’s Oval Space balcony. Though still spiky, it has a clear heart and soul and is tinged with a more adult version of the same euphoria that Joy’s early 2-steps breakout had. – Jack Mckeever
Palace of Worms / Ecferus – Split 12″
The second sensational black metal split that was released in January comes from two newer forces in USBM. Forgoing typical blackened stigmas and bandmates all together, both Palace of Worms and Ecferus caught the metal community by surprise last year with a combined handful of highly unique releases. 2017 sees the two gifted musicians team up for a full-length split album with six songs that chip away at the mold of black metal’s standards. – Cody Davis
Burials / Exhausted Prayer – Split
Apes Who Looked Up, Rose Quarter Records, End Theory Records and Bathroom Industries unite to bring us the split full length from Burials and Exhausted Prayer. The first side is four tracks of craziness courtesy of Portland’s Burials. On their Bandcamp they state that in the beginning they had hoped to start a psych/prog band. Clearly the obscure death metal sound won out. However, the psych/prog influence is definitely there and adds an element that sets them apart from the crowded scene. These second side of the split flashes the psych/prog flare as well but Exhausted Prayer surrounds it with blistering black metal. These SoCal giants and PDX shapeshifters are a perfect match and this split is not to be missed! You can pick it up digitally via bandcamp and they have links to physical formats as well. – Matt Jamison
Transylvania Stud – Red Queen EP
Transylvania Stud is the side/solo project of Navaeh’s frontman Andrew Godfrey. As where Navaeh focused on Foo Fighters-esque alternative rock, Transylvania Stud is more about experimentation. The Red Queen EP may only be three songs but they work perfectly to establish the world Godfrey has in mind. Thunderous percussion, wall after wall of detuned guitars and the kind of bass that rattles the fillings in your teeth, all come together in a unique style that’s not easily found in today’s hard rock scene.
With spacey atmosphere and doom and gloom lyrics, the experimental apsect never kills the vibe set up within the melody. At the same time, the melody doesn’t take away from the darker elements. It’s somewhat contradictory to have hooks in this particular style of music, but Godfrey has managed to make it work. Fans of Failure and Kyuss just might have found their new favorite band in Transylvania Stud. – Aaron Cooper
Ricky Midnite – Saturn Deluxe – EP
Opening track “Saturn Deluxe I. Between Our Windows” is a rather minimalistic affair, beginning with a simple snare and bass trap beat interspersed with an array of laser sound effects for added atmosphere. It almost makes you feel like you’re out in space alone with the only sounds coming from your space craft. “Static Now” somehow manages to lower the tempo even further, quite like a heartbeat lowering almost to a complete halt. The vocals are incredibly distorted giving the feeling of not knowing if you’re hearing it through audio or just inside your head.
“Party Like a Ghost” is far more up tempo, bringing influences from the new wave genre from the 1980’s. I actually think this would benefit from a few more samples during the verses, but it does fit well with the overall minimalist theme of the album. “Midnightx” is arguably the stand out track of the record. The samples fit the track perfectly and the vocal hook is catchy. With the rise in popularity of trap music over the last year or so, it would be easy for anyone to hop aboard the bandwagon. What Ricky Midnite has done with “Saturn Deluxe” is take it down a notch and by leaving samples at a bare minimum, added a sense of foreboding and calm. – David Dring
Stellar Descent / Aylwin – Second Sequence
Yet another black metal split in this month’s best. Stellar Descent and Aylwin teamed up for an immersive, atmospheric black metal exercise with the funds from this split going to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to protect NPR and PBS. Stellar Descent, a duo for this album featuring Jon Rosenthal (Venowl, Footpaths) as bassist and an additional vocalist, brought a massive 30-minute song called “Moonrise.” Meanwhile, the California quintet of Aylwin delivers an equally entrancing 15-minute composition called “The Expiation.” Both bands make great use of soundscapes and calmer instrumentation to dovetail their segments of blackened fury. – Cody Davis
I don’t know anything about Mirrored Lips except for the fact that this group consists of three Russian females and that they make this crazy trudging yet surprisingly energetic noise / freestyle / punk type of music. There hasn’t been a ton of music that has grabbed me so far this year, but the opening moments of “Дорогой Хороший” was really something that pulled me in.
чичичи consists of only three songs, but each song really does move in its own dissonant kind of way. I have no idea what vocalist Lyusya is saying in these songs, but it seems political which would fit perfectly with the tone of these jams. Last note, I just found an interview with the band where they explain that the title of the EP, чичичи is the title of a nursery rhyme about a monkey who was selling bricks. So that’s dope. Here’s a live vid of the band because I like to break the format rules of this feature. – 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.