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. Hence our Sevens and Splits column!
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!
The Best Underground Music of January 2018:
Timeshares – On Life Support (self-released)
My favorite album of 2015 was Timeshares’ second LP Already Dead. A collection of songs about growing up and moving forward no matter how painful it is. It was something I was dealing with in my personal life and the album spoke to me. Instead of personal growth and accountability, On Life Support encourages the rest of the world to do so.
The title track tackles the fragile white male ego and the hostile environment America finds itself in. While media outlets humanize Nazis and the president encourages hatred and division, the rest of society wonders if banning together is even worth it. Throughout four tracks, On Life Supports showcases lyrical progression just as much as instrumentation. Keys and 12-string guitars fill out a new Wilco-esque vibe while maintaining their core sound. While not as punk as previous releases, it’s obvious Timeshares are in this for the long haul, even when the cultural theme and title say otherwise. – Aaron Cooper
Carrolhood – S/T (self-released)
When musicians from bands that you like start “other projects”, you always assume that it’ll be good. For example, the Breckenridge brothers from Thrice, Riley (drums) and Ed (bass), started up Less Art with a dude who should be able to sing hardcore vocals. But, he can’t. Thrice is pretty much my favorite band, but Less Art just didn’t do it for me. Sorry guys.
Anberlin. UnderØath. Two incredible bands. Two game changers in their respective genres and scene. However, Anberlin is no more and UnderØath is apparently starting back up. Nathan Young -(ex-Anberlin drummer – and Tim McTague – UnderØath guitarist/vocals – have teamed up with keyboard/electronic genius Reed Murray. They are Carrollhood.
What they should sound like is a mixture of what they have done, and it kind of is, but really, Carrollhood is a new amalgamation. A little bit of Anberlin flare and a dose of UnderØath atmospherics. Yet, what really drives this new project band to new heights and sounds is this dark and fast-paced dreary rock element with those on point electronics! If those are Tim McTague’s vocals (and aren’t they?!), then wow! The guy produces something so original with his voice! Add to that the lyrics laced with dark macabre, sexual dire and odd profanity, and we have a brand new whirlwind of mystery and strength.
In the vast sea of new and old bands and artists trying to make another mark, Carrollhood has ‘made’ a mark; already. With a 5 song EP called S/T they have started something that might continue the parallel that their older bands launched. Succeed or fail, here we go. Welcome to Carrollhood. – Jeremy Erickson
Dunes – Dunes EP 2 ( self-released )
Dunes have returned with their second EP, which they’ve called Dunes EP2 (I guess you’re going for a Led Zeppelin vibe here lads). This five track EP is a perfect follow up to the previous release by picking up from that EP and running with it. Dunes brand of blues-rock infused with a stoner vibe is infectious. Especially tracks like “Seapig” and “Hulk” which are slowly but surely turning into my favorite Dunes songs. Each track is to the point and never outstays it’s welcome which is all you want from a rock band. With this being said, “Seapig” is currently haunting my dreams. Dunes EP2 is currently available exclusively through the Dunes Bandcamp page. – Eddie Carter
Heiress & Great Falls – Split 7 (The Mylene Sheath)
The Mylene Sheath put together a collection of 7″ records featuring Heiress and friends. The collection is called Restless Aim and it includes a split with fellow Seattle superheroes Great Falls. The Heiress track is called “Last Nail”. Its every bit as heavy and soul demolishing as you would expect from these bearded monsters. Over the course of three minutes, it feels as if the entire building is collapsing around you. It is a slow burner ending with the last bit of light being snuffed out by the rubble. However, when you flip the record it is akin to Popeye crushing a can a spinach.
You will dig out of this rubble in no time because the Great Falls track, “Sigwalt”, puts you in hyperspeed. Uncontrollably all of your limbs will start moving at the pace of a rat that drank four cups of coffee. You are going to want to have this tasty nugget in your collection if you are a fan of loud music that makes you feel uncomfortable. – Matt Jamison
Las Rosas – Christa / Lost Cat (Greenway Records)
One of my favorite thing about New York’s indie scene is the playing field of psyche-rock. The city is full of bands who embrace experimentation in their own unique way. And the NY-based, vinyl-only label Greenway Records has a finger firmly on the pulse of that scene. With release after fuzzy release, Greenway has built an indie scene empire by showing garage bands the love and care they deserve.
Ahead of their upcoming LP, Las Rosas offers up the perfect introduction to their candy-coated psyche with Christa/Lost Cat. Both tracks feature all the shuffling rhythms, distortion, and trippiness found in most psychedelic rock, but with a fine layer of power-pop. The sing-along hooks elevate the droning guitars and lyrics that could be about the girl who got away or the underground drug of your choice. If these 2 tracks speak for the upcoming LP, Las Rosas just might have one of my most anticipated albums of 2018. – Aaron Cooper
Big Bliss – Contact / Override 7” (Exit Stencil Recordings)
Known in some corners as the hardest working band in New York City, Big Bliss is a trio spearheaded by brothers Cory and Tim Race who was out loud, melodic post-punk. Their new 7” via New York’s Exit Stencil Recordings, is full of propulsive rhythms, hazy vocals, and jangly guitar lines.
Opening with “Contact,” Tim’s guitar swirls around as Cory rides his hi-hat, the band crashing into the chorus. It’s an interesting single, full of nerves and tension. But the B-side is where things clicked for me. “Override” kicks off Cory riding a beat and Tim’s guitar fuzzing. But here bassist Wallace May’s instrument comes to the fore, pushing the melody forward against a droned out backing. It builds to a frenzied pitch, packing a ton of energy into four minutes. Their debut’s coming sometime this year; I know I’m curious about the full length. – M. Milner
Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors – Traitors Club Year 1 EP (self-released)
Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors are a Texas-based rock band making waves in the UK with their own brand of Rock & Roll. By somehow mixing the music of Cheap Trick and The Wildhearts, they have a pure sense of rock ‘n’ roll simplicity. These tracks were originally released exclusively for their fan club (a term Hamilton hates) with two tracks being released to the club each month. This EP works as a taster for those people who are not members of said club. To be honest, it’s a fantastic advertisement while showcasing the talents of the band.
“I’m So Glad” has been released as the lead single with a Mrs. Pacman themed video. Lyrically Hamilton talks about a failed relationship ending with a huge sigh of relief. Out of the remaining six tracks, “Sick & Tired” is my favorite, as it looks at the end of a companionship. With many songs to heal the brokenhearted, and honestly so close to the bone, Traitors Club Year 1 has more hooks than one band should legally be allowed to own. I love this band so much! They’re arguably the best thing to come out of Texas for such a long time. You best join the Traitors Club now! – Eddie Carter
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.