Peterborough, New Hampshire
Monstrous Brood has the psychedelic ’60s San Francisco ballroom sound down cold—from the slow-burn journey to a musical crescendo and then back down again, to the goofy guitar effects, to a drummer who adores pounding crash cymbals during the “loud bits,” to the impassioned near clams on the energetic solos, to the multiple thematic passages. What a fabulous trip!
Sherman Oaks, California
A driving, punkish, and wonderfully dumb chord progression kicks off “Cruisin’” with a big fat bang, and, as the tune unfolds, more and more shred-o-rific moments make the scene. There are even a few psychedelic bits, and a main melody that’s bright and happy and rowdy enough for an X Games theme.
Dr. Rage & the Uppercuts
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
“Hey, Lil’ Sister”
A silly name and a clichéd song title don’t make for a brilliant introduction, but the Doctor unleashes one hell of a tortured, bluesy yowl, and he plays a mean-ass guitar. This tune also turns Led Zeppelin sideways with a dash of Black Crowes, and that’s pretty damn close to bliss.
This is rather conventional modern metal with some cool-ish environmental/electronic elements, but guitarist Tom Martini pulls everything out of the ho-hum bin with his soaring melodic sense, stinging and buzzy tones, and tasteful phrasing. Martini also understands the value of space and understatement—which means he kinda deserves a medal or something.
“Neo Tokyo 179”
Beware. This avant-garde shred and noise fest could quite possibly melt your brain. It’s stupid fast and unrelenting—like rush hour in Tokyo just about the time everyone’s caffeine kicks in. And that’s the point: As an art piece, this is a brilliant evocation of a musician’s environment.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A druggy Nico/Velvet Underground vibe surrounds this indie-esque tune as it drifts between sleepy arpeggios and distorted crescendos. Some people will dig the artfully pitchy vocals, and others will cringe at the out-of-tune bits, but the atmosphere created by the voice and guitar is stark, honest, and, ultimately, compelling.
Balawan & Batuan Ethnic Fusion
This unique, world-shred-jazz-prog hybrid is performed by Iwayan Balawan on a dual-neck guitar amidst a flurry of Gamelan percussion. Balawan taps, does whammy tricks, uncorks speedy licks, and conjures some very sick sounds throughout the rhythmically complex piece. It’s quite a yummy feast.
The “Bravery on the Edge of Crazy” award this month goes to Shand Walton, who, when he was playing around the Bay Area, was one of the most naturally gifted electric guitarists I’d ever seen. Now, he’s doing a one-man band thingie in Texas, and it’s raw. Dare a listen, and be transported back to the juke joint days.