Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I did my music columns so I’m doing a bit of a rebrand. Genrefvckery is my tag/column name for everything music related, and this is my July 2020 roundup for new music! This column is going to focus on indie and alternative music, but is very light on the concept of ‘genre’ otherwise. So you’ll see Honest Heart Collective and Pussy Riot next to each other, but no Taylor Swift.
Nursery-rhyme melodic vocals war with brutal hardcore, driving guitars and biting lyrics on this track from Death by Stereo. While there aren’t any available lyrics yet, it’s hard to imagine that “the world is great, things are fine, we’re all dying just in time” isn’t a pointed commentary. The balance of different energies on this track is brilliantly done and my favourite new track of this month.
Pussy Riot has always put their money where their mouth is (getting arrested by Putin is a pretty good way to prove your punk cred) but this song – and its video, which has captions with the lyrics – just doubles down on their sheer courage. This is a scary, electropunk song that clocks in at under two minutes in proper Ramones style, that starts with a chant of A-C-A-B. In case you weren’t sure what they meant by ‘Riot’.
The post-hardcore trope of a melodic/sung chorus with screamed or guttural verse vocals is a cliche at this point, but it’s a cliche for a reason – it works well, and Sleeping with Sirens does it better than most. Talking to Myself is an ode to the darkest parts of depression, and suitably enough, it’s angry rather than melancholy. There’s even a wry nature to it – “to everybody doing good, I wish you well, I hope you never have to go through this hell”.
On the topic of mental health, Rarity’s ballad “Worn Down” feels like a song about two people suffering from mental illnesses they can’t explain in a relationship with each other. The chorus goes in circles – “I think I’m mean to you/what are you gonna do now/I think I see through you” – and it’d be concerningly toxic if there wasn’t such real regret and confusion in the singer’s voice.
I don’t usually come to post-hardcore for inspiration and determination, but the lyrics of this song from 11|34 are surprisingly motivational, all the more so for the grinding guitars behind them. “And I know I’m not okay, but I’ll make it anyway, face my fears,” is exactly what I needed to hear. This song suffers slightly from a generic opening that leads into a surprisingly fun post-hardcore track. I think I’ve heard that guitar opening on ten songs released in the last month alone, and the track deserves better.
A sweet pop-rock song with folk influences, Honest Heart Collective’s new single betrays their Canadian identity in the best way possible. Canadian folk-punk has a certain sound to it, and this heartfelt song about tattoos and friendship has Thunder Bay written all over it. It’s not a song that pushes boundaries, but it will get stuck in your head when you least expect it.
al Riggs is a non-binary, autistic queer musician who makes heartfelt indie music that lurks on the boundary between folk and emo – somewhere between Dashboard Confessional, Cavetown and Frightened Rabbit. “Boyfriend Jacket, Boyfriend Sweater” is a sweet, lowkey love song from their upcoming album, a collaboration with guitarist Lauren Francis, and comes with – pinup art of a sexy orc? I’m into it.
I’ll admit, I can’t figure out whether or not McFly is mainstream these days. I’ve been a McFly fan since 2005, so that warps my perspective a lot. Still, Happiness is a boppy, upbeat track that’s jazzy and danceable in a way their stuff hasn’t been in a while. The big band element is reminiscent of All About You, although more upbeat, and it’s nice to see that after a hard stretch, they’re feeling positive.
This is a fun track, although it doesn’t really feel like a Stars track. It’s hard to believe this is from the same band that gave us ‘Dead Hearts’ and ‘In Our Bedroom After The War’, but I’m intrigued to see how it fits in with the wider album. But from a sheer musical perspective, it’s fun to listen to, multilayered and glitzy with a sense of something approaching.
Admittedly, I find this an odd choice for a single. It’s very standard for a Seether song, down to its disdain for religious institutions and grunge aesthetics, and doesn’t say much about what the new album might hold – especially after 2017’s Poison the Parish. But I find it growing on me, and the chorus has that grungy “fuck you, I’m still standing” energy to it that I love so much.
Somebody that I Used To Know – Three Days Grace
This is not a cover I ever expected to happen – let alone like. It’s not the first harder-edged cover of Somebody That I Used To Know out there, but if 3DG is good at anything, it’s cutting straight to the angst-dripping heart of the matter, and it certainly does so here. And besides, the more covers that are done of this song, the less I like the original. It’s so. Clean.
Havukruunu is a new band for me, but I’m enjoying their blend of folk elements with black metal, especially on this album. While translations of underground metal music are hard to come by, there’s an epic nature to the songs on here (especially the title track and Kuin Oinen Meri) that, paired with the incredible album artwork, gives away some of the inspiration. I’m particularly in love with the grand, bardic choral vocals that open the album. What a way to hook a listener!
Crickets is a recently formed indie supergroup featuring members of MEN, Le Tigre and Faith No More, and as somebody who listens to none of those bands, I’m very impressed by this album. “Drilled Two Holes” is bassy, rhythmic and ever so slightly unsettling, with vocals reminiscent of Metric in their heyday, and the synth undertones run through the whole album, insistent and ever so slightly demented.
Babybird is an altpop musician hailing from Great Britain, and Once We Have Destroyed Ourselves We Shall Build A New World is his first mid-COVID release. Trancy lo-fi beats serve as the backdrop to his soft vocals and simple, hypnotic lyrics, but the real attraction is the short but eerie title track, which sounds like it belongs on a movie soundtrack. I also enjoy the inclusion of the 3-track mixtape, which blends all three together – that said, it makes for a short EP. I’ll be checking out more of Babybird’s work, which probably deserves the moniker experimental more than ‘pop’.
fish narc combines trap beats with guitars and a punk sensibility, and his deep, disaffected vocals help bring it all together. A previous collaborator with the late Lil Peep and a member of the ‘GothBoiClique’, this is fish narc’s debut album, and it’s a hell of one – distorted guitars and depressing lyrics don’t let up for a second, and get a lot of power from being catchy. ‘SNOWFLAKE’ and ‘MY BEST’ are standouts, but the wildness on the title track is also fun as hell to listen to . Genre? What’s that? fish narc’s just doing what he likes to do.
Indie synth-pop outfit The Naked and Famous are the most familiar to me through singles ‘Punching in a Dream’ and ‘A Stillness’, so the album Recover is a little more gospel-ish than I’m used to. It’s good, though, and very feel-good in a sincere way. Plus, the electronic rhythms that keep the pulse going are intact and better than ever, pulling the whole album together. It feels like a happy coincidence that an album about recovery and determination is coming out during such a hard time for the world, especially with its candy-sweet energy.
See you next month for August’s releases! If you like the work I do, consider subscribing to my Patreon or leaving a tip at my Ko-Fi.