It’s been a great first year blogging and supporting hundreds of great bands and labels here on IDIOTEQ! Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to do a little roundup of some of the most notable records from this past year. As you might have noticed, we have already dropped a number of great roundups from various artists and labels, and the good news is there are plenty more!
We have identified a lot of amazing talents across worldwide music scenes and while working with artists from all kinds of different genres, is seems that more and more of them have a unique angle on what engaging through music means today, no matter what style they represent. Southern California’s Wiretap Records has been one of the most interesting newer punk rock / alt rock labels in the States in recent years, with ideas and thinking that fit good old DIY ethics, and a great feel to diversifying in sound and style to great effect. We have teamed up with the label’s founder Rob Castellon, who has shared his top 9 records released this year. Scroll down to checkk it out out, listen and get his first hand commentary. Also, feel free to check out the labels’ fresh Free Sampler Compilation, just posted online and available below:
2017 has been a whirlwind of a year in terms of pop culture and politics in the states. The one thing that has been a saving grace for us here at Wiretap Recs has been continuing to meet and discover new artists/bands that we believe in and can get behind what they’re trying to convey with their music. We were fortunate to help release 9 records this year (6 LP’s and 3 EP’s). The common theme of believing in each record and if it moved us, then we’d get behind it. We also worked with some awesome fellow international labels to extend each band’s reach overseas including Big Scary Monsters, V4V Records, Epidemic Records and Hanger Records. 2018 will be our busiest and most ambitious year to date. With new records on the horizon from Odd Robot, Avenues, Wolves&Wolves&Wolves&Wolves, and new additions to the roster like Breaklights, Harker and more… we’re excited for the coming year!
Here’s a few words on each record we had the honor to get behind this year.
Kamikaze Girls – “Seafoam”
After following their debut EP ‘SAD’ in 2016 that spoke on subjects of mental health, the Leeds, UK based duo pull elements from punk, emo, grunge and riot grrrl to create an album that seems therapeutic in many ways and serves more of a declaration of hope for people who suffer from mental health issues. The entire record is both gut wrenching and uplifting with a huge sound, full of guitar fuzz, distortion. “KG Go to the Pub” is an anthem on males being inappropriate within the scene/shows, while “I Don’t Want To Be Sad Forever” brings the record to a feeling and sense of hope. To say we were honored to help release ‘Seafoam’ alongside Big Scary Monsters (UK) is an understatement. Seafoam is one of those albums that will continue to be discovered years from now. In a year when society is in it’s most inappropriateness in history, Seafoam spoke to us personally and are so very much proud of the record Lucinda and Conor gave us.
Odd Robot – “A Late Night Panic”
In April, our friend Paul Silver sent us a link to a record that had just went up on Bandcamp that actual day, from Fullerton, CA’s Odd Robot. The band had been likened to a SoCal version of The Smoking Popes. Mixing pop punk and power pop, and that immediately sparked a chord with me. Odd Robot come pretty damn close to resonating with Popes’ fans with a twist that makes them their own blend of Popes’esque with elements of Jawbreaker, Green Day and the like. Singer Andy Burris’ lyrics are on point on the album and after just one listen through the record, I had messages Andy and expressed interest in releasing the record. 13 songs in just under 32 minutes. “A Late Night Panic” is contagiously some of the most catchy power pop/punk songs I’ve ever heard and to have them in our SoCal backyard makes it even more special.
I’m Fine – “Never Knowing Best”
New Orlean’s has an awesome punk scene. Since 2011, I’m Fine have called NOLA their home and shared the DIY scene with bands like PEARS, Donovan Wolfington, HiGH, Thou and more. Mixing sounds from punk, indie, post hardcore and emo… Our buddy AJ from The Punk Site summed up “Never Knowing Best” nicely… “I’m Fine are a band that wear their influences proudly on their collective sleeves, their sound has a resemblances to bands such as Latterman, Gnarwolves, Cursive and At The Drive In, but that isn’t the end of the story, they incorporate different elements and styles into every track making Never Knowing Best an unpredictable beast of an album. “
Gender Roles – “Planet X Ray”
After connecting with Kamikaze Girls in Leeds/London in 2016, we dove into what was going on the Leeds/Brighton, UK DIY punk scene. Through the power of the lovely web and social media, we’ve been blown away at so much great stuff coming out of the UK DIY scene and that’s where we came across Gender Roles. “Planet X Ray” is a blast of Indie-Punk big drums and fuzzy guitars on songs like “Skin” and “Chemicals”. The band landed a spot on this year’s FEST 16 and traveled to the states this year, and caught some people’s attention at their sets. So stoked to see whats next with these fine mates.
Regarde – “Leavers”
At the start of the year, the members of Regarde reached out to me from Italy about helping release their new album they had just wrapped up recording with Jason Maas of Defeater. I immediately fell in love with the record. Indie/Emo/Post Hardcore that sounds like Turnover, Citizen, Basement. ‘Leavers’ is a mix of indie punk with post hardcore elements. It’s a hodgepodge of emotions and feelings thrown in an album with dirty sounds, guitars covered with rust, heavy drums and the high-spirited voice of Guido Dal Prà. By the time the album was releases in October, it had almost been ready for a over a year… it just felt like a Fall album and I’m glad we waited to release in the Fall. It’s a beautiful record and I want you to love this record as much as I do.
Portkey – “A Life That Is Giving”
I stumbled upon Portkey from a Facebook Group where singer Tyler from the band posted “Hey, anyone with a label open to hearing the new Portkey record?” I replied saying ..sure. Send it over. The next day, he sent it over and by the week’s end, we had agreed to help release the record. Hahaha. I’ve always been a firm believer that when a record grabs you and makes you feel something, trust your gut and go with it. It immediately reminded me of an album like Pinback’s “Summer In Abaddon”, but done in a more emo-indie feel, and partly Angels & Airwaves esque, with Turnover. On the 10-track LP “A Life That Is Giving”, the band dishes out emotive melodies, with raw/honest lyrics of self reflection, and a heavy dose of off kilter drums that provide the backbeat of a wistful indie-emo debut album. There’s always a few records you feel didn’t get enough or the proper attention for whatever reason. Whether it’s a lack of funding to bring a team of PR, marketing, lack of touring, or just plain lack of social media, etc.. you never really know what will resonate with an audience… but we’re really proud of this record as a whole to be part of the Wiretap catalogue. It deserves more listens and a larger audience.
Elijah Newman & The SideEffects – “All I Found (Was A Ghost)”
Can I just say I love Elijah Newman. I had the chance to spend a few days with the Knoxville/Nashville, TN raised singer/songwriter in September when he drove over 2,000 miles to play the Wiretap Anniversary Show in California. And he made that drive alone. This kid can smell and taste life on the road and spending some time with him proved he was meant to be part of the Wiretap family. Elijah was friends with Bassist Jake Jones from fellow Wiretap band Wolves&Wolves&Wolves&Wolves, who encouraged Elijah to send in tracks of his new record to us for interest. His song “Come Back Home” is exactly that type of track that gets stuck in your head and you’re ok with that. Catchy folk-punk in the style of Frank Turner or Dave Hause. Having his music been featured in TV shows including an episode of CBS’ Elementary, Elijah is one of the most grounded and genuine people on the roster. With a new record on the way in 2018, we’re excited to see what’s next. And he also joined Wolvesx4 full time as their full time guitarist…. so you’ll be hearing lots from him in 2018.
Slowkiss – “Ultraviolet”
Santiago, Chile born, English-speaking, female fronted 4 piece. I stumbled upon their song “Pink Death” on Bandcamp one day and was immediately drawn to their mix of Alternative Rock, Indie, Punk, Garage, Grunge, Noise Pop, & Shoegaze melodies. Ultraviolet is a noisy darkness of shoegaze with “scream-in-your-face” punk rock and ethereal-sounding pop – in a most original way. Some of my favorite records growing up as a teen were from bands like Silverchair, Lush, Elastica, Veruca Salt, so this was right up my alley. Now Los Angeles based, the band is hard at work on their follow up record.
HiGH – “Evil Gene”
HiGH are another New Orleans band that I’ve had my eye on since their last full length Bummer Burner that I loved. Craig Oubre (guitar/vocals) had been feeding me mixes and demos of the new tracks and I was blown away. The record is great and I love that a picture of Isidore’s (vocals/bass) father, Marco, is the album cover. Go listen to this record… its fantastic!