What's Your Sound - Featured

NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has always cared about new talent, quality music and giving those a platform who deserve the attention, but even our mail inboxes are stodged way too often. However, we’ve always tried to find new ways to write about fresh and exciting music. That’s why we introduced the ‘What’s Your Sound?’ series to the NBHAP microcosm a few months back. And now we made it even more efficient, thanks to the power of SubmitHub.

What’s Your Sound? is the possibility to showcase your music, present it to our readership and a larger audience in general. Using what artists submit to us via our SubmitHub profile the NBHAP staff will pick five thematically related tracks and present them in a weekly installment. We don’t just want to throw together a bunch of music without context; instead, each new installment will have its own umbrella theme, giving artists a possibility to tell us about how their music relates to the bigger picture, while encouraging you to dig deeper and discover similar bands as you read along.

Many articles have been written about the alleged demise of rock music in the 21st century. While some of them have even gone that far to declare the death of rock’n’roll for good, most would agree that the genre is undergoing a period of reorientation and renewal. Guitar music doesn’t currently have the impact and reach it had 10 years ago or in the 1990s — hip hop and sample-based electronic music are dominating the top positions of charts and prestigious playlists. But over 70 years after the genre’s inception, there’s still bands in the underground that are trying to give old-fashioned alternative rock music a new twist, either by taking inspiration from what came before them or attempting to pursue new aesthetics altogether. Discover five of them below.

Dama Scout – All In Too

Although sonically gritty, London/Glasgow-based trio DAMA SCOUT skillfully jump between melodic, propulsive and hypnotic moods. All In Too is a brilliant showcase of the different textures you can get out of a traditional rock setup.

Increasingly so many lines are blurred in what constitutes a ‘genre’ – so it’s hard to be too specific about where innovations are within one. However – the way many people approach writing and recording is ever-evolving because of new technologies and some of the most exciting new music is produced in bedrooms where the limitations of that environment force the writer to inadvertently arrive at original ideas & sounds.

DAMA SCOUT seem to have no trouble doing so, with All In Too shifting from noise-pop to krauty passages garnished with angelic multi-part female vocals; while some references might be recognizable, the band’s style as a whole seems to stand very well-defined.

It often seems a challenge for new ‘guitar music’ to not be too nostalgic or throw-back. Neither of those are bad things though and it certainly seems that the course of ‘guitar music’ commercially relies a lot on those safety-nets. However artists who are pushing what you can do sonically or creatively with the genre are probably our favourites. It’s also an exciting time for women in bands and you can see a wave worldwide of great female artists finally getting closer to the recognition they deserve in such a male-dominated industry. Music is for everyone.

The Great Dictators – Flipside

Danish alternative rock trio THE GREAT DICTATORS certainly were thinking big during the writing of their third album Women, released in November last year. Attempting to pen a classic rock record, they ended up with an answer to a confusing media landscape’ where talented acts who’d like to challenge and enlighten their listeners‘ are a tough act to follow. Album cut Flipside is a slow burning ballad, blending distorted guitars and distant trumpets into an ambience that could best be described as dazed. Dragut Lugalzagosi’s soulful vocals perfectly blend into that backdrop, conveying a feeling of both relaxation and tired euphoria.

Art, a versatile culture and basic good taste have been under heavy fire in the western world in recent years. Strange political events, reality culture and social medias have all arguably been too dominant and it’s almost impossible to turn on the radio and listen to anything but quite mind-melting sounds. But we’re optimistic and we see rock music as part of the cure to a society having trouble finding its way. We need music that challenges people, brings them together, makes you wiser and comforts you at night. It shouldn’t dumb you down or be too easy to digest. Fortunately it seems like the world is open yet again for a new influx of good rock music. And if we can we will help getting that door kicked wide open.

Suburban Haze – Keepsake

Australian four-piece band SUBURBAN HAZE exhibit a fair share of humour in their video to Keepsake. Featuring a charming portrayal of singer Paul Pickles and his bandmates in a ninja-movie mockup blended with occult imagery, the band successfully capture the spirit of their music: unconventional with several twists and turns along the way, but always with an eye on accessible anchor points. With Keepsake, it surely is the emotive delivery of Pickles and guest singer Rachel Maria Cox which manages to balance the angular guitar work with the relaxed backdrop in the middle section of the track.

I think one of the best things to start happening to alternative rock lately is that ‘emo’ isn’t really the dirty word it used to be. It’s great to see bands are really embracing heart on sleeve songwriting again. Guitar technicality was so bawdy and over the top for such a long time that bands seemed to really strip every song back its bare basics but I think the new generation of alternative songwriters are finding ways to bring technicality back to the instrument without it sounding like audible masturbation. Some of my favourite Australian bands doing both these things are Oslow, Jacob and Safe Hands.

Sweet Tempest – Empty Box

Although SWEET TEMPEST have previously been compared to the likes of COCTEAU TWINS and BEACH HOUSE, the Danish duo’s distinctly groovy sound only bears limited resemblance to those acts. With the exception of some 80s hallmark elements — tremolo guitars drifting through the soundscape, metallic vocals — SWEET TEMPEST‘s dream pop is nostalgic as much as it is upfront. Luna’s vocals hover above the song’s slick groove, conveying emotional distance with self-assurance. In this light, a statement like ‘we only ever listen to ourselves and we have no idea where we’re going as we don’t even know where on earth we are’ should be taken with a grain of salt.

Mister and Mississippi – HAL 9000

Hailing from Utrecht, the Netherlands, MISTER AND MISSISSIPPI are showcasing a decidedly 70s sound. Resting between bouncing drums and an aggressively distorted bass line, Maxime Barlag’s snotty voice in HAL 9000 gives the track just the right amount of defiance to give the track an edgy twist among a sea of revivalists following the vein of TAME IMPALA and the likes. MISTER AND MISSISSIPPI are embarking on a tour of Germany and The Netherlands in spring, which, unsurprisingly, is the band’s favourite environment to discover new talent.

I think the most important and fun way to see innovation and new things happening is to visit a lot of concerts and festivals. Not only the big events but also in your local bar or in the more underground clubs. But also a lot of media on the internet is very helpful sometimes.

Their assessment of rock music’s future, however, reads not necessarily as a statement of resignation, but rather as a warning:

There are still a lot of big guitar based rock bands that sell-out big arenas. But because guitar music doesn’t get much radio airplay anymore, most bands heavily rely on their fanbase that they built up twenty years ago or by some classic masterpiece album that made them immortal. But in about 50 years, when this generation is gone, I think guitar based rock music will slowly fade away

If you’re interested in listening to more up-and-coming artists, be sure to check out NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s Daily Tune Playlist on Spotify, featuring all tracks we recently covered. And of course, share your music with us via SubmitHub.

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