I consciously try not to be that grumpy old dude who’s constantly complaining about how awesome things were when I was a young’un. As far as I’m concerned, musically, things are only getting better. Media fragmentation and the demise of the record label business model have shattered the entertainment landscape, weeding out those doing it for a paycheck and forcing the next generation of the truly dedicated to throw themselves out there and face the consequences. A lot of really cool demos have crossed my laptop this year, forcing me to reconsider my outlook on the pending collapse of all civilization as we know it into a Taylor Swiftian apocalypse of musical suck. The kids are alright as long as they keep banging out music this inventive. Here are five unsigned bands that won me over in 2010.
5. No Gang Colors
This is Your God
This is your god, and he really hates your ass. He insists on torturing you with electronic amalgams of clicking grind and harsh, psychedelic white noise. This is what would have happened if Justin Broadrick didn’t totally abandon grind for industrial post-Napalm Death. Encomiums to weed and power tools seem like a great way to lose a finger, but it’s also a perfect way to spend 11 minutes of your life.
Two minutes. That’s all it took for New Jersey’s Amputee to cement themselves firmly in my affections. Yes, they sound like Assuck. No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The fact that I could listen to their four song demo about three times before I finished typing this makes it all the better.
3. Standing on a Floor of Bodies
Teaching Pigs to Sing
Rising from the ashes of Thousandswilldie, one man band Standing on a Floor of Bodies ear rape four minutes of your life with an all bass ’n’ drum machine assault on your higher cortical functions. It’s got all the atmosphere of a suffocating horror film soundscape crammed into seven claustrophobic songs that won’t let go until those tentacled abominations in the basement decide they’re done with you.
Part man. Part machine. All power violence. Ryan “Body Hammer/Rational Punk” Page and his Robocop friends set out to torture hardcore with their seven track demo. Every instrument rattles against the others like clashing pots in an earthquake-addled kitchen producing a delightful racket of impassioned, urgent hardcore. And their most recent offerings have only spiraled off into more aggressive, abrasive directions.
1. Satellite Sleep
Satellite Sleep’s three songs of aquatically-tinged Australian hardcore just keep getting better with each listen. For a demo, the band just nailed that perfect somnambulant atmosphere, rising above the rest. This is what Eraserhead’s lady in the radiator sequence would have sounded like if it were filtered through post-millennial hardcore. Everything is hazy and disorienting but wonderfully riveting all at the same time.