The force is strong with noise rock.
What’s so good about noise rock? Well, it’s dissonant, heavy as fuck, and full of tongue in cheek sardonic humour. Expertly straddling comedy and earnestness, the genre has been on the go for well over thirty years at this stage, and includes luminaries such as Big Black, The Jesus Lizard, Big Business, and WHORES. Despite its age, the genre is still going extremely strong, with bands popping up left, right and centre and a dedicated fanbase that is nearly as enthusiastic as the shoegaze fans. Those people are nuts.
We love noise rock here at Overblown, so we sat down and made a list of ten bands that are really boiling our cabbages at the moment. Make sure to comment and tell us how awesome/atrocious our list is and suggest bands we missed.
1. Buzz Rodeo
Hailing from Germany, this trio explore a rather refined version of noise rock that delves seamlessly into art rock and post punk too. ‘Arkansas’, with its angular rhythms and Teutonic cadence on the vocals, is as abrasive as it is melodic employing feedback and fuzz with an expert touch. It’s the lead track from Buzz Rodeo’s debut album Sports which came out in June 2015. The rest of the record isn’t half bad either. Keep an eye out for their next release, Combine, which is out in May 2017 and promises to be quite a gem.
One of the things that drew us to this Widnes, UK trio Mums is their sterling sense of humour. From the album sleeve of their most recent release, the Land of Giants LP, to the playfulness of their enormous, sludgy, noisy riffs they’re just seriously good craic. Another thing that drew us was the humbling ferocity of their tone, which feels like it is coming from inside your own body when you listen to them.
Careening out of Brighton in the UK at a ferocious pace, DITZ combine feedback noodling oddness, enormous hardcore inspired riffs, and a rather sardonic vocal delivery that creates a sound that is so ferocious and tongue in cheek that it is the perfect salve for those bored with po faced humourless groups. Somehow they sound both world weary and invigored. The result is a sound that possesses real, intrinsic purpose and vigour. Seriously, they’re as of now one of our favourite bands.
4. White Spot
Marcus Lemoine is a machine. White Spot is the Louisiana man’s one person project to explore as much noise and sludge as any individual can muster. With four albums under his belt since August 2014, he is stupidly prolific too. His most recent, I Had The Best For A Little While, is our stand out favourite. Encorporating anguished vocals, a pace that is imposing and rigid, and feedback doused riffs, the album is an ordeal akin to making your way through a Neurosis record or a Cormac McCarthy novel. Difficult, but ultimately worth it.
5. Punching Swans
We probably could have included this Kent, UK based outfit just for their name. For some reason the mental image of punching swans is hilarious to us. I think because of their necks. On top of this, they’re also a special kind of oddball awesome. as their track ‘Pecked to Death’ is testament too. Remember Bobcat Goldthwait? Ever wonder what it would sound like if fronted a jagged and idiosyncratic noise rock band? Wonder no longer. It sounds like Punching Swans. And it’s awesome.
What’s enjoyable here is the inclusion of little weird bleeps and bloops and other such atmospheric nonsense. Also, Leeds outfit Cattle have a wonderful command of dynamics effortlessly moving from more restrained bass heavy sections to an explosion of gloriously fuzzed out distortion. There’s also a slight funk to preceedings that is normally missing from the rigid soundscapes of noise rock. They just released their debut album, Nature’s Champion, in December of 2016 and it is a mighty blast. It’s like horror/noise rock. Creepy stuff.
Nopes hail from Oakland, have one foot in the melody of Nirvana, and another in the off kilter melodies and dissonance of more ‘traditional’ noise rock. That’s not all though, on album opener ‘Screens’ they veer off into cow punk while elsewhere they experiment with the pace of early hardcore, and the slow sludginess of the more murky proponents of early grunge. There’s something quite slippery about these chaps, somewhat like the aural equivalent of getting slapped with a wet fish. In this instance, that’s a compliment.
8. Sofy Major
These French noise rockers place the vocals quite near the front. An unusual approach, but with a vocalist that is somewhere between Ian MacKaye and King Buzzo, you can see why they would take that option. These lads also seem to enjoy a big chorus, which is a welcome change of pace in a genre that often seems a tad unconcerned with hooks. *Disclaimer: Sofy Major have been on the go since at least 2010, so they’re not exactly ‘new’ per se. Still. Who cares. They’re savage.
Everyone seems to love GRIZZLOR, and with good reason. Their shtik is extremely tongue in cheek, and wonderfully noisy. Take ‘I’m That Asshole’ for instance. It bemoans having to go visit relatives during one’s free time, “You have to use up all your free time / to visit your family / because if you don’t / you’re just that asshole / I’m that asshole.” What’s not to like about that kind of curmudgeonly crankiness? Musically, the group head for stop start rhythms and general awkwardness that complements the tetchy nature of the lyrics. Good times.
Kansas City’s BUMMER are anything but a bad time. Their latest track ‘King Shit’ is nearly three minutes of squealing feedback, thunderous drums, and vocals that recall a dictator giving a particularly rousing speech. Drifiting into metal in places, the song is aggressive, confrontational, and very bloody good. They’re going out on tour with WHORES. soon which is pretty damn cool too. Hopefully, they’ll get down to business and record a full length soon.