I have to be honest with you here, readers: when I see a "bands to watch in (insert year here)" list, I usually give it a cursory look, wretch in disgust, and x out of it as quickly as possible. Not because the bands are awful, because they're bland! Almost every list focuses on some flavor-of-the-week indie-rock or punk-rock bands we'll all forget before the year even ends.
So instead, dear readers, I want to point out some bands to you to watch this year who are off the beaten path. I'm talking about weird bands here, doing something interesting and, if not new, at least different from what everybody else is doing. Even if you don't love them, you probably won't forget them in 30 seconds.
5. The M Machine As someone who doesn't like very much mainstream dubstep this side of the pond, The M Machine is a breath of fresh air. Most dubstep has become a game of how much macho bass heaviness you can produce, how deaf you can make your listeners, how much you can confuse their ears.
The M Machine takes a classicist approach to dubstep, using the genre's trappings only to serve the greater melodies of their music, which are cohesive and beautifully built behind the vocals. They take all the best elements of dubstep and synthpop and combine them for a sound even people who hate what the genre has become can enjoy.
4. Black Jungle Squad Black Jungle Squad is a hip-hop collective with some of the most interesting production going right now. Their beats are completely out there, going from deep cut dub reggae to Blue Velvet samples to heavy noise. They have all the elements of classic hip-hop, sometimes employing beats that Nas would have killed in 1994.
But what sets them apart on their new mixtape Black Jungle Radio is that this is hip-hop like nobody else is doing it right now. Not even classicists that wish they were Nas in 1994 are doing things this interesting with their music. These guys have absolutely no future in the mainstream, but for true hip-hop heads and record collectors, they'll be a dream come true.
3. CityCop Screamo isn't normally a genre known for intense experimentation. In fact, it pretty much all sounds the same. A cacophony of screaming, melodic intense lead guitars, and heavy, distorted, driving rhythms. If you're into that, like I am, that's great. But CityCop takes it someplace it has never been before.
CityCop replaces those lead guitars with acoustics, played flamenco-style every now and then, and leads through bizarre diversions into psych folk and jazzy soloing. It sounds like screamo meets Comus or Weather Report at times.
2. Bosnian Rainbows The latest project from noted weirdo couple Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (formerly of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In) and Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes), this one experiments with synth sounds, echoey drums, Teri's bizarre voice and dancing, and Omar's trademark screeching, jagged guitar noise to make something akin to a fucked off version of new wave.
Fans of Rodriguez-Lopez's previous projects might struggle, but if they spend enough time with it, they will find that it has a similar appeal as all of his work. It just pushes things simultaneously forward and backward to create a pretty interesting new sound.
1. Buke and Gase
Making pop music, but completely defying any of the traditional aspects of pop music, Buke and Gase throw in beautiful vocal melodies from vocalist Arone Dyer, sometimes even running them through autotune, which might fool one into thinking this band has any semblance of normality to them.
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But their songs instead take the angular path, twisting through verses and choruses like they're obstacle courses. Their jerky rhythms are made not by any traditional instrumentation, but by a "buke," a six-string ukulele, and a "gase," a combination of a guitar and bass, both homemade instruments.