Just DIY: Paul Weintrob, Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks


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When illness kicks in, with all the shivering and general over-heating, noodle soup is my lifeline. Not just comfort food, it is my figurative blanket, my little treat. And with this illness haunting me I have bravely explored what I think might be defined as the proper DIY side of contemporary music. Despite this being what I mainly do anyway, I’d like to shine a spotlight on self-produced, self-released and self-crafted music. Here draws the title of this “sub-section”. I like being in touch with bands who love to experiment and produce their own physical material. However, I need to warn you, what is described here is the the wicked side of independent music.

Paul Weintrob

People never really get what anti-folk is. Our companion Wikipedia states: “…the music tends to sound raw or experimental, it also generally mocks seriousness and pretension in the established music scene.” If we decide to go with Wiki, then Paul Weintrob’s James E. Holmes LP may actually make some sense. Spoken-word acoustic six-string-based tracks, spread with sarcasm (Chicken and its chicken-referencing melodies are just an example). It may all seem a bunch of socio-political-infused lyrics (Post-racial America) and lo-fi production (Istanbul). However, Paul Weintrob introduces random bits of country and distorted violins (Spootiskerry/ Loch Leven Castle/ Devil in the Kitchen feat. Henry M.), just to spicy it up. James E. Holmes LP is a pack of fast-paced tracks that manifests antifolk in the most genuine and sharpest way possible. Just like a punch in the face. Oh wait.

Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks

What about some loud music? And when I say loud, I mean loud. Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks is a Brooklyn three piece that mixes noise, proto-punk and experimental flashes. Out with their 5th release Bad Blood EP (on a cassette, how cool it that.), they deliver some rage-y punkish tunes, packed with a general fuzz. Despite the screaming vocals, the production is overall clear. Bluesy bass lines and garage-like riffs (Private Browsing) make the sound more complex and mature, whereas the lyrics tend to draw a bit into the swear-word-waterfall territory (Asshole and Slut). Passing on that and my general aversion to hardcore-esque screaming, I still appreciated the eclectic touch: Smile and Ribbon just made me crack up. A sparkling and soppy background, broken by helpless screaming, creates a fascinating oxymoron. And when a song makes you genuinely giggle, it has already conquered a little corner of your heart.

 

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