Sabarakatiki — ELLOS COMEN GENTE Y YO LO SE

Ellos comen gente y yo lo sé
se comen a la abuela y tambien al bebe
Ellos comen gentle y yo lo sé

They eat people and I know it.
They eat the grandma and the baby too
They eat people and I know it 

This Puerto Rico-based punker quartet Sabarakatiki brings its listeners a raucous number that balances an upbeat melody, overdriven guitars, yelled-vocals and willfully absurd lyrics. A nimble Tony Lombardo bassline dances around the Ron Asheton chord progression and anchored by shuffling Grant Hart drums, all in the service of allowing vocalist Benicio Del Caro to do his thing. ‘His thing’ being outlining some sort of existential dread towards some unknown, unexplained terror. No matter, Del Caro plays for effect, very similar to Danzig’s gift of playing off the frightening as humorous.

In instrumental terms, the monster bass hook saves the day, providing needed flavor to the hammering guitar+drums combo and the mostly-shouted vocal attack. Despite the lo-fi production, the willfully in-the-red type of recording, and the over-the-top instrumental performances, Sabarakatiki displays genuine pop sensibilities and songwriting acument, though they are not quite at the level of fellow (and former) PR songcraft masters Davila 666. This track sounds like it’s been produced by Spot, and in a genre that prizes directness over overweight detail-gabbing, it’s a great compliment.

Despite being located in Puerto Rico, this group somehow most of all recalls late 80 Bay Area proto-pop punkers Jawbreaker and Samiam. Likely due to the roughshod vocal melody being so haphazardly juxtaposed against the ramrod, lo-fi bass/guitar/drum attack.

Sabarakatiki will provide outside listeners with an interesting entry-point into the Puerto Rican DIY punk rock community but they are decidedly lightweight. Sadly, the group appears to have lost steam a while ago, which is disappointing because on Ellos Comen Gente Y Yo Lo Se, these rock’and’roll true believers display the kind of sass and chutzpah that exists at the heart of all genuine rock and roll music. Maybe one day, they’ll come back to slay us all.

RIYL: Early Misfits demo tapes, early Dickies, joking around with your pals

Max Christenson Audio — YOUTUBE CHANNEL

My name is Max and I do everything regarding music and sound

Max Christenson is a German multi-instrumentalist who builds and records a number of acoustic and/or digital instruments including: an overtone flute, this modular, and various other types of noisemakers.

To be sure, this guy is not joking around regarding the noise he makes. You can observe this in how he outlines the distinction between the Duclar and the Duduk, both of which are wind instruments that, to anyone else, would just be funky clarinets. To him though, the difference is clear and it is necessary. Christenson takes this stuff seriously and invites his audience to do the same, to everyone’s benefit.

However, like most youtube channels, it is too varied for its own good, losing focus in the pursuit of maximizing its appeal (MCA includes tutorial videos, remixes, sampler stuff, along with improv jams and the channel shines best during the tutorial sessions where Christenson’s unvarnished enthusiasm for his collection of world instruments (and surely, some of which he has yet to invent), his musical acumen, and his endless patience for explaining the particularities are a winning recipe for producing engaging content.

There could be fun stuff in the future here and let’s hope that he doesn’t try to go down this route.

RIYL: Bob Brozman, David Byrne’s Building jam, postcollegiate whateverism, this video

Independent Music Blogs / Websites / Magazines / Publications that will review your underground music

LIST OF MUSIC PUBLICATIONS

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Celebrine — FRIENDS

Young man writes a letter
Let’s be friends forever

Superindieworld describes Celebrine as “goth opera” and the tag doesn’t mischaracterize this Moscow-based duo of electro aesthetes. Moody and preferring open-space atmospherics over sweaty electronica jam, with a notable exception of a rousing half-time to regular-time switch during the break section, Celebrine has landed with a fully-realized visual aesthetic.

They write their lyrics in EN, likely with the goal of reaching a Western audience, much in the same vein of contemporaries like globe-trotting popsters Pompeya. However, in this pursuit, their arty posturing (as evidenced by this well-directed video) dominates their tunes, which is a shame because this duo hints at a deep wellspring of new inspiration and a sense of invigoration that western electro/pop audiences could very well benefit from.

Keep an eye out.

RIYL: El Guincho — Bombay, intentional inscrutability

Plaj – GİT (live performance)

Güneş neden tepeden gitmiyor?     
Git git git                                            
Gitmez ki bu böyle                            

(Why doesn’t the sun descend?)
(Go, go, go)
(It doesn’t go this way)

Plaj means ‘beach’ in Turkish (and for some reason, musicians in Istanbul seem to have a strange preoccupation with the beach as a concept) but this group recalls December more than it does July. To be sure, this quartet is not quite on the level of similarly-minded globe-trotting acts within their community who also value the ethereal/cerebral over the physical/visceral. However, with Git, Plaj clearly signals that they’re prepared to get competitive on the global stage.

As a term and concept, “post-punk” died a long time ago (though musicians, critics and fans alike continue to kick the horse’s corpse) but many of its main indicators apply to these Istanbul-based arty DIY’ers. The group shares many of the same qualities that turned Fazerdaze into global indie-rock darlings and precisely none of their logistical advantages of geography and access to media outlets with enough clout to break them on a larger level.

Most shoegaze groups rely on the studio as an instrument unto itself, which is a difficulty for many Istanbul-based groups working in a place where studio time is expensive and salaries are low, not just for working artists, but for everyone. This is just a single entry in a long list of obstructions that DIY musicians working with Turkey and its diaspora face, in terms of breaking out into the great beyond (a goal for many of them, even if they don’t want to come out and say it). Perhaps as a result of these barriers, Plaj has constructed a sound that pummels within a genre that too often aspires to the delicate and the celestial at the cost of tangible physicality, which often results in wan, warmed-over pretension in the pursuit of mood and reverb-y toan. Plaj does not fall into this trap: this is a group that aims for the clouds but keeps its ears to the ground.

This woolly mammoth of a song bulldozes its way into the brain’s pleasure receptors, built upon lumbering drums+bass and controlled-anarchy guitars, all tightly thatched together with towering keyb lines. The icy vocal melody lands slowly but when it does, it burrows deep and stays there. This Istanbulite shoegaze act signals inevitability, fully confident in its approach and comfortable within its own skin.

Git builds the track brick-by-brick: a dreamy foundation atop a sturdy kick-snare beat and skittering drum fills for the rock-solid b-line to lock into, steady ground for the keyboard to create a foreboding atmosphere, all of which culminates in a fiery guitar-break at the track’s coda. Where most of the song aspires to ice-and-snow, this guitar workout huffs’n’puffs, it lunges and it sweats, allowing the group to strike a contrast and balance between the ethereal and the physical (a valuable contribution to the shoegaze genre, which, as previously mentioned, can too-often fetishize the other-worldly at the expense of the humanistic)

This arrangement and performance of the song grew out of an earlier-released demo tape that garnered the group critical notice within the burgeoning Turkish DIY community (the current drummer of this group may be the hardest-working man within a vibrant circle of working musicians, which includes similarly beach-friendly Palmiyeler, whirring enthusiasts Eskiz, and the insistently visceral Raws; not to mention breakout stars The Away Days and Jakuzi or the stalwart diaspora-tripping Baba Zula). Listeners are encouraged to note the differences between the original arrangement and this current performance. Where the former aspires to a kind of surf-twee sensibility, all bouncy guitars and cutesy, sunny male/female trade-off vocals, the latter dreams of death-by-snow avalanches.

Perhaps there was some kind of falling out between the vocalist and the original guitarist? In any case, an evolution has occurred from its earlier approach and we’re all better off for it. This band clearly exists now as a vehicle for the lead vocalist; however, to her great fortune, she has allied herself with a drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist (and good grief, can that guitarist rip) that have the ability to provide her tunes with instrumental muscle, aesthetic power and a stylistic panache that the previous incarnation lacked.

That being said, the overall mood of this song is difficult to pin down and a look at the lyric sheet sheds no light. They don’t seem to want to reveal anything about themselves beyond the self-assured quality with which they perform. On Git, they sound simultaneously triumphant and melancholy (though considering the political environment they’re working within, basically everyone within the art community has adopted a beaten-down type of post-apathy). Furthermore, this distant pose and implementation of aesthetic distance are all too common within the genre and Plaj would do well to work on finding an aesthetic that differentiates itself from this icy remove and something more human. If it doesn’t, oh well, these urban aesthetes have done its part for the burgeoning Istanbul indie circuit (and the genre, at large) by creating this towering triumph of a song. Maybe that’s enough.

Shoutout to Petri Kabi’s soundperson for doing a stellar job of mic’ing up this performance in a way that illuminates Plaj’s true power (except for that unforgivable fuck-up at 3:09-3:11)

RIYL: Big Black — Kerosene (but without the metallic overtones), Public Image Ltd (without the dub obsession and punk pretension), Swervedriver (without the macho glam aggression), UIX Design Seminars

Palmiyeler — PALMİYELER

Sahilde bekliyorum ben. (I’ll wait on the beach)

There’s hardly any surfing in ocean-less Turkey and next-to-none in Istanbul (though it’s not entirely bereft) but that’s not stopping these art-damaged ex-punks from riding along with a style that’s swept the globe since the early aughts.

To be sure, this track does not channel classic Ventures surf-rock riffage, nor is it the same kind of surf/punk amalgamation championed by Wavves or FIDLAR, instead the Istanbul-by-way-of-Izmir quartet pursues a decidedly neo-surf sound in the vein of Beach Fossils, mining this material deeply and with enthusiasm and a keen eye for authenticity, if not necessarily innovation.

What’s the value of innovation in a revivalist music though? Next-to-none. Recontextualizing old sounds to fit modern paradigms is the whole point and to that end, the group succeeds. They might not have access to the Pacific or the Atlantic but they do have the Bosphorus, and it sounds just as reverb-y and dream-y as any other group influenced by a large mass of seawater.

Palmiyeler rides a killer chorused guitar riff, such a crispy strat-into-a-twin tone that Mac Demarco would tip his cap, throughout the song, occasionally dropping out to share the spotlight with vocal turns. The rhythm section, a stripped-down bass+drums combo, plays inventive, agile lines to lay down an earworm-y foundation. The singer’s voice amply bolstered by the sunny instrumental attack adopts an affecting tone, which doesn’t cut through the mix so much as it floats above it.

Like their labelmates Eskiz, Palmiyeler also makes a brave choice in writing their lyrics in their own language, which will limit the appeal of their group, but keep their messaging true to their core audience. Finding a Western audience might be difficult for them but they refuse to beg for the attention, a move which should be applauded. That being said, don’t write this track off from finding mainstream acceptance, the music speaks the kind of language everybody knows.

Quick note: Palmiyeler translates to “Palm Trees”, a tree non-native to the area that occasionally flummoxes backpackers.

RIYL: Beach Fossils, Diiv, post-collegiate whateverism