Astronaut & Spacey: Friday Alternatives
Oh brother, the intergalactic jam squad is back with another installment of Friday Alternatives. After plunging through the black holes of the music scene, Spacey & Astronaut have brought back to Earth a stellar line-up of not-sold-in-stores tunes to kick off the first weekend back in the Valley. Hold onto your space helmets; things may get bumpy, as the duo have brought some harder, kick-in-your-teeth artists.
Who?: Hailing from Westchester, NY, you will find it hard to believe that Moving Mountains is only a four-piece. In their previous efforts, the group permeated a largely instrumental-driven style. Producing songs averaging around eight minutes, flush with carefully-climaxing ethereal segues, MM’s ability to incorporate a wide variety of instruments (the bassist actually switches between a bass guitar and an upright bass during live performances), listeners must remind themselves that it is not a symphony they are listening to, but an alternative band. In the first half of the group’s single “Where Two Bodies Lie,” (dropped last week) from their debut album on Triple Crown Records, Waves, the quartet shows movement towards a more mainstream, alt-rock sound. However, as the second half shows, they do not intend to abandon their roots, but develop a more comprehensive composition.
Selected Song: “Where Two Bodies Lie”
Similar Artists: The Appleseed Cast, The Receiving End of Sirens, As Tall As Lions
2. North Korea
Who?: North Korea, mysteriously rising from the ashes of Envy On The Coast and The Dillinger Escape Plan, wields an alchemistic style that is as equally as obscure. At times, singer Ryan Hunter dazzles listeners with scaling vocal harmonies, and right as your radio-rock friend starts to get into it, he switches to aggressive screams atop spastic southern guitar riffs. The band will be releasing their debut album, The Basement Tapes Vol. 1, on April 1 fo’ free. With the totalitarian attitude and crunching delivery of Rage Against the Machine, led by juggernaut vocalist Hunter, this group should not be looked upon lightly.
Selected Song: “Master Plan B”
Similar Artists: (Old) Dillinger Escape Plan, Rage Against the Machine
Who?: After witnessing a performance by this band over spring break (proudly sharing the same hometown of Lebanon, PA), the infectious intensity and huge presence that the four-piece brought to the venue immediately grabbed my attention. Despite having only released their debut EP, Over It, during this show, Shotgun No Blitz managed to establish a solid fan base, who were jumping on stage, joining vocalists Matt Rauch and James Wagner at the mic to sing/yell each and every word. The five-song EP is full of driving punk riffs and angry pop hooks, that at times surge into dual melodies.
Genre: Pop Punk
Selected Song: “You’re Not As Cool As You Think You Are”
Similar Artists: Van Atta High, Averman, Transit
With aberrant string arrangements and heavily progressive guitar work, A Lot Like Birds pushes the boundaries of genres and incorporates styles from their experimental, thrash, folk and indie roots. The resulting medley sends listeners through a train wreck of ambient build-ups and spasmodic episodes of hardcore inspired chaos. Spanning a broad musical spectrum, A Lot Like Birds has snatched cult stardom with kids who are fed up with the repackaged-for-sale alternative scene bands. Former Dance Gavin Dance vocalist Kurt Travis joined the Sacramento progressive band, A Lot Like Birds, back in January of this year. With Travis deploying the haunting vocal melodies he has become famous for, the band appears to be adding yet another interesting dynamic to their diverse style. A Lot Like Birds + Kurt Travis have recently released a demo to give the anxious fans a sample of what is to come.
After releasing two studio albums with Dance Gavin Dance, Travis was replaced by the original vocalist Johnny Craig. After much anticipation, Downtown Battle Mountain II was released this month featuring the original line-up, including screamer John Mess. The album has received mixed reviews, mostly of let down DGD fans who have built up the album far beyond what the band has delivered. Listeners can respect the soulfully R&B vocals of Johnny Craig, while at the same time still be mind-blown by the progressive guitar work of Will Swan. However, I can’t help but see the new album as lazy. Described as a more mature Down Town Battle Mountain, the new album painted the post-hardcore icons into a corner. Without progression, DGD has remained stagnant and proved to fans that there isn’t much space for them to grow.
Twitter: @alotlikebirds; @DGDtheband
Make sure to leave us any suggestions of any more hardcore-based bands that you’d like to see in future posts.