During the course of the pandemic, many artists were robbed from usual promotion, DIY networking and moments of celebration like proper record releases, or viral live gigs. Nonetheless, thousandsof independent artists persevered and continued to create and release music throughout the year thus far. Our today’s guests, German alt rock infused post hardcore band KAAK, remained super active and have managed to release 12 new songs and 12 music videos in support of the new recordings. They DIY marathon took them on the right trail and today they are live with their debut LP “SCHREI DOCH“, which is out next Monday, December 6th.
Today, we’re giving it a special treatment with the first listen and the band’s special list of top courageous rock bands that helped widen the scope of the genre and kept their craft distinct, unexpected and exciting.
On the new recording from KAAK, big 90s infused guitars meet a dirty sound-asthetic and forcefully delivered vocals. Lyrically, singer Leon Kaack touches on issues like self presentation, posing, image neurosis and self-abasement. Sometimes hypnotically spoken, but mostly angry, intense loud and switching in between melody and shouting. KAAK follows a substance over style philosophy. No song sounds like the last and neither do any of the 12 videos, who range from dirty rock performance to live sessions, comedic skits and artsy deep cuts.
Top 10 rock bands that resist falling into place in a growingly conservative scene
“Look, it’s complicated.” – says Leon. “Nothing else in this world makes me feel more alive, yet it seems that the longer rock music in all it’s facets stays relevant, the more conservative everybody gets. Although the original spark of rock, punk, metal and hardcore was rebellion against dusty values and closedmindedness.
Still, there’s certain codes in scenes, which tell you how to sound, how to look, how to think and especially what NOT to do if you want to be accepted by gatekeepers and scene leading figures.
So here’s some guitar bands that sound like they sound and talk how they talk and thereby sometimes even turn the playing field around, setting new trends through not doing what everybody else does.”
ETID have been a pretty contradictory musical recipe from the beginning. Southern Rock influences merged with hardcore punk?! That sounds off reading it, but they did not care about any seeming contradiction and managed to develop into one of the most unique, quality hardcore bands there is – from the very unique lyrical approach to the stylistic mixture of their influences through to their idealistic values not compromising their cowboy boots and beards. LOVE IT!
Okay, before you shout at the screen: I know, that there is not a more hipster-praised band on this planet than Radiohead and it’s not even a guitar driven band anymore, but hear me out for a sec. Just the fact, that their fourth album is a VERY experimental, weird, deconstructive, dark and hard-tolisten-to album, really says something. After „OK, Computer“, Radiohead was pretty much on the top of the alternative music world and more than peeking into mainstream culture. Just having the courage to follow it up with KID A, is worth a mention in this list. Apart from that: Any big act, that doesn’t make the same album a million times and manages to stay good, deserves a bit of praise I think.
I know I’m kinda swinging for the fences here, but please, stay with me. I think Metallica ist the single prime example of a band not giving a single F**K about public opinion. Say what you wnat about their music, the whole Napster thing or Lars Ulrich drumming, but After Master of Puppets they seemingly pissed off half the world with every release, because they refused to be put into a specific bucket of music and image and just did whatever they were up to, and in my little value system, that really deserves a lot of credit!
4. Drug Church
Their spotify-bio says, that „Drug Church are a glorious contradiction.“ and that puts it pretty well. When I first heard their EP „Swell“, it sounded like slowed down 90s college emo guitar music with the wildest hardcore punk voice straight from a well equipped recording garage. It’s far from bland college punk, it’s also not classic hardcore and also far from being what you would expect from being right in the middle of those two. Tough to explain, but definitely a great example of not fitting in in a great way!
5. Touché Amoré
While being a hardcore-hipster-favourite, Mr. Jeremy and his emo gunslingers (sorry) were a pretty drastic revelation for me. They’re combining a very poetic, yet direct lyrical style, free of the usual hardcore buzzwords and clichés with a VERY raunchy and dirty voice und high energy drums, but very Indie-sounding and intricate guitar parts. Probably due to my peers view of musical boundaries, Indie and Hardcore were two extremely opposing forces to me, but they seem to merge perfectly here. To some people, that might not be as surprising or revealing, for me that was a world-shaking discovery!
Okay, this might be an obvious one but still it can’t go unmentioned, because QOTSA might be one of the most creative rock bands out there. I still haven’t been able to really decode how they manage to be so multi-faceted and crazy while sounding so coherent, but that’s exactly the reason they fascinate me so much. So many good songs, so many weird and crazy moments, I can’t even begin mentioning them. Thank you Josh Homme for what you do, please don’t ever stop!
BMTH seem like the very definition of being ahead of the curve. No matter what, they anticipate and feel trends, movements and asthetic cultural changes before they begin to surface and are couragious enough, to just go through with, although not yet proven „right“ yet. Their album SEMPITERNAL is still a masterpiece and one of the rare examples of combining heavy guitar music with electronic sounds without being a total cringe-fest!
“The Shape of Punk To Come“ was so ahead of the curve, nobody really got it at the time and the band disbanded shortly after it’s release. It’s not only a radical political statement, the band itself admitted to it also being a middle finger for the growingly conservative and artistically uninclusive hardcore scene of that time, which the band felt very opposed by. If you don’t know this album, please give it a listen – it’s basically the Radiohead of hardcore, which many very influental and popular rock artist still use as a reference for their own records.
Listener are not the most popular band, but they definitely inspire me a lot. Their first records are a more beat oriented ambienty spoken word thing which then evolved into a more guitar-driven rock outfit. Minimalistic, heavily melancholic, weird, intense and very dynamic and unlike anything I’ve ever heard.
Yeah, of course! Ian MyKaye is the OG of opposing hardcore-values out of his own moral compass. And while Minor Threat is and will almost be extremely important, Fugazi has to be the one for this list. The man himself stated, that Fugazi was a project built on the objection of just making music. no boundaries, no image, no business, no musical cheat code – just playing. And what could be more rebellious coming out of being one of the originators of such a lean, image-driven and morally strict scene as the hardcore scene, and then opposing it in a very artistic way. Long Live Fugazi!