Release Date: July 5, 2019
Kokoko! is a collective of artists from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They use instruments fashioned from trash to create sounds for a musical style that blends electronica with dance punk. The synths layered on by their French producer Débruit also gives it an 80s freestyle dance pop sound. Kokoko! makes refreshing music that functions equally well at a dance club or a political protest.
Album: Cut & Stitch
Artist: Petrol Girls
Release Date: May 24, 2019
- Big Mouth
- Weather Warning
I have a soft spot for punk rock that features women’s voices shouting over shredding guitars. The Petrol Girls website bears the tagline “Raging Feminist Post Hardcore from the UK and Austria” which about sums it up. And while the shouted lyrics may not always be easy to understand, I appreciate that they’re saying important things, the emotion behind them is clear.
The Monthly Mixtape for May will take you on a journey!
Sarah Pagé :: Ephemeris Data
Kick it off with some experimental harp music.
The Silver Lake Chorus :: Tabu
Follow up with some tight choral harmonies and hot rhythms.
Black Pumas :: Colors
Then slide into some classic psychedelic soul.
Sass :: Spoiled by Rotten
Nex, some aural time travel to 1991.
Sleater-Kinney :: Hurry on Home
And while you’re in the 90s, pick up Sleater-Kinney and bring them to the present to work with St. Vincent!
Is there any great new music I missed along this journey? Let me know in the comments!
Album: It’s Real
Artist: Ex Hex
Release Date: March 22, 2019
- Tough Enough
- Cosmic Cave
- No Reflection
- Talk to Me
This is the second album (following 2014’s Rips) from the Washington, DC based trio of Mary Timony on guitar, bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris. It’s got a mix of 80s punk and hardrock with touches of power pop and 60s girl groups thrown in. There’s nothing quite original here, but it is a well-crafted collection of raging guitar solos and sweet harmonies.
Artist: The Specials
Release Date: February 1, 2019
Favorite Tracks: B.L.M, The Lunatics, Blam Blam Fever, 10 Commandments, The Life and Times (Of a Man Called Depression)
The Specials, the 2 Tone UK ska revival band from the 1970s and 80s, are back with a new album! I remember back in the 1990s, the band released Today’s Specials, which was good enough but since it was all covers it felt more like UB40’s Labor of Love than anything The Specials had done before. Encore has three covers, but the rest of the album is new material. And just as they did back in the Thatcher Era, The Specials have something to say to our times with tracks focusing on Black Lives Matter, gun violence, and women’s rights (the latter with guest vocals by Saffiyah Khan). The opening track is firmly in the disco genre which made me wonder what I was in store for, but the rest of the album falls into the more expected ska/reggae/punk sounds. I’d say overall, that the album is hit and miss, but tracks like “B.L.M” and “10 Commandments” make the whole thing feel more relevant than one would expect from a 40-year-old band. The deluxe version of the album features live versions of The Specials’ classic tunes.
Album: Cost of Living
Artist: Downtown Boys
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “A Wall,” “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas), “Lips that Bite” and “Clara Rancia.”
Thoughts: The Providence-based, bilingual punk band is back with an energetic new album filled with hard riffs and pointed lyrics. I particularly like it when the horns kick in. This is the music for our fraught political times, filled with anger but leavened with hope.
The new release from D.C. punk band Priests is dark and cynical and features a casually violent video. It seems all too fitting for our times.
The lo-fi punk band from London DIRTYGIRL offers “Transition,” a track with a tight power pop sound and vocals reminiscent of early Liz Phair. It’s off their Junk Food EP released in October, and made known to my by The Sounds in My Head podcast.
Bilingual socialist punk rock with horns from Providence? Sign me up!
“Wave of History” is the lead track off the Downtown Boys most recent album Full Communism.
Minneapolis punk rockers Kitten Forever have a new album 7 Hearts out on March 25th. Here’s the video for their song “200X”.