Post-Independence Marathon – Arkansas

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Continuing our all-country trip across the USA – this time focusing on music of Arkansas!

Jump into PIM archives to hear mixes of music from Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana and more!

 

Benadriil

Synopsis: Passing down the royal punk torch from the punk greats like Tom Delonge and George Bush

Noisy, short and chaotic is how one can encapsulate the sound of Benadriil on their demo – yet beneath the grime there’s something interesting bubbling up. Whether its weird humor or a colorful artwork gracing their demo they clearly are interested in more than just bashing the hell out of the instruments (though there’s plenty of instrument-bashing to be found within).


Plvto

Synopsis: Representing Arkansas. I’m just saying what you’ve been feeling.

The most amazing fact to be gleaned from Plvto’s FB page is that he is still unsigned – that despite the fact that he’s clearly good at what he does. Record labels – are you listening out there?

It goes just beyond the music/flow/beats (though he’s obviously beyond adept at all three). There’s lyrical topics that are rarely brought up in mainstream hip-hop, such as mental health/alcoholism discussed in “Mt Sequoyah” off of his “Hangout 3” mixtape


Landrest

Synopsis: Some music makers…..some people, you know

While they don’t position themselves as a gothic or darkwave band (nor do they actively explain the origins/influences) there’s certainly something otherworldly about Landrest’s music. Sense that one gets from listening to their songs is that you stumbled upon a ritual taking place – much of it owed to female vocals, ethereal and floaty in nature they just scream “atmosphere”.


Okay Crawdad

Synopsis:  Soundtrack to rural decay and anthem of the 5th world. Doomed to roam.

Listening to Nothingmaster, debut EP from this one-man band, one can’t help but think of a less gnarly version of Hasil Adkins. 4 tracks on Nothingmaster are nothing but fun and you can even dance to them, but there’s also something slightly odd about it, a certain whiff of witchery to it all.


I Was Afraid

Synopsis: We like turning our amps up loud.

Do you like space rock? Bands from Arkansas? The band Hum?

Well if that’s the case then you are going to love the space rock band from Arkansas, I Was Afraid who kind of sound like Hum. I mean they don’t really sound a whole lot like Hum, but I was just trying to get you hooked into checking them out because they rule.

Bearded Gentlemen


Matthew McMurry (Host / Haunted Disco)

Synopsis: Et in fine temporum

Both Host and HD are brainchildren of Little Rock musician Matt McMurry, each exploring lonesome ambiance in its own special way – former being more minimal and latter being more jazzy/atmospheric. Much of his work was clearly influenced by a multitude of life events – as Matt points out in liner notes to “Goner”:

This is the result of what feels like holding my breath for 3 years, and looking back at those years from an observational point of view rather than an emotional one. Today I breathe a little easier, but I wouldn’t have ever gotten to this point were it not for the experiences I had.


The Wirms

Synopsis: Fayetteville, AR garage punkers

A duo of Skeezer Wirm and Teezer Wirm bashing out short but fun tunes – subjects ranging from movies to coffee. Their latest (“Wirms 2017: Make America Squirm Again” on California label Kerchow Records) proposes all kinds of solutions to current American crisis, all of them fun and brief (as they should be).


Liquid Skulls 

Synopsis: Songs made over long distances

Liquid Skulls is the recording moniker of Little Rock native Jimmy Spice, who makes grim, gorgeous and enigmatic music using synths, obscured vocals and beats.


Prahnas

Synopsis: Prahnas is not a misspelling of piranhas

Few people are capable of taking on challenge of defending a title of being the worst band in the city, but Prahnas (mostly a revolving-door project of Sharp Woolston) are tackling a task with gusto.

Their music could be considered pure punk-pop as long as you’re agree that Wesley Willis was (and still) is a true punk and Daniel Johnston wrote some fantastic pop songs.


Sumokem

Synopsis: heavy and slow

With a nod and a cough to the great ones: Sabbath, Sleep, Hawkwind and even a little Foreigner for those who wanna feel a lil something, Little Rock, AR’s Sumokem will reign down on your face with spurious riffs, smoked-out heaven-sent melodies, tribal, organic beats and passages of doom feels stretched out to cure for miles and miles as vocal harmonies soar across and into a most willing sky.

For fans of Pallbearer, Sleep, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and THC.


Marie/Lepanto

Synopsis: In the sunken lands of Arkansas along I-55, there’s a road sign that directs you to a pair of tiny, hardscrabble towns in the Delta. It reads: Marie/Lepanto.

“I’ve seen that sign forever, and always had those words, Marie/Lepanto, in the back of my mind,” says Kinkel-Schuster. “With it having the spatial/physical/psychological proximity to both of us, we figured there wouldn’t be a better time to bring it into play.”

For Johnson, the veteran singer-songwriter and longtime leader of Centro-matic, his union with Kinkel-Schuster, of Water Liars and Theodore, fits a pattern. In his work with South San Gabriel, Monsters of Folk, and Overseas, collaboration has long been the cornerstone of his creativity. Like his other endeavors, Marie/Lepanto was born out of a musical kinship and personal respect.

“Inverness” from M/L debut “Tenkiller” is a sweet ear candy bringing together traditional pop sensibilities, fuzz and distortion – somewhere in band heaven Uncle Tupelo is smiling while looking down.


Nouns

Synopsis: Polarviolence

The emo scene sure has changed those last few years and if Nouns represent the new wave then things surely look extra bright (its worthy to note that the band describe themselves as “powerviolence” and “aspie” on FB).

Regardless of the style/genre tag whatever it is that Nouns do is fun and feels a bit like being in a car crash simulator while being drunk on syzurpp.


Moonsong

Synopsis: Psychedelic pop from the past, the present and the future

Talking about Moonsong (not to be confused with Moondog) debut EP – its cosmic, its weird, its something else altogether and it sounds like something that could’ve been written in the 60s as much it could’ve been written now

A wondrous psychedelic experience–it is more successful in channeling the psychedelic garage rock of the 60s than the Flaming Lips. The short songs are filled with shifting melodies, psychedelic interludes, and moments of sheer weirdness. These 5 songs are filled with more ideas than 5 albums by some bands.


Witchsister

Synopsis: An all female/family band from Fayetteville, a violent mixture of rock and roll, punk, metal, and a wee bit o’ prog

Not only they are an all-female band, but it mostly consists of (very talented and very young) sisters and their cousin. And the music is very good too – traditional, but well-crafted rock’n’roll with tons of hooks (Led Zeppelin/Heart comparisons being completely on point). Here’s Fayetville Flyer commenting on their debut EP

Their EP includes five songs that pulse with a controlled ferocity and poppy rage. “Birthright” yowls and churns with some serious Runaways vibes before falling away into a classic rock-influenced guitar solo and drum breakdown. “Howlin” sounds like it has more current influences as the technical guitar lines and bass match each other under Stephanie’s vocals.


Becoming Elephants

Synopsis: Progressive Instrumental Thunder

Heavy heavy monster sound (to borrow a quote from Madness) is the best way to describe the music that this quartet is making – they don’t have any vocals, employ saxophone (as well as bass/drums/guitar) and were inspired by video games such as Castlevania, Mega Man and TMNT.


The Phlegms

Synopsis: Avery and Peter and Grant and Ethan

Somewhere in “Might Get Loud” documentary Jack White mentions that he’s using feedback to take revenge on all the people that bothered him in high school – something similar can be said about Phlegms, especially in case of their most recent (self-titled EP)

digest my insides you parasitic, pathetic, sac of sperm
plucked my feathers outside, after you broke my wings in the front yard

Parasitic

dip my nerves in a bucket,
don’t talk to me when we go out
dip my nerves in a bucket,
don’t interrupt to
stand by my side
don’t interrupt to, stand by my side

Peroxide/Full of Nothing

Some of that anger even turns to self (“I’m not a mime, I’m not even mine / it’s all in summary when I say I hate myself” go lyrics ) or nothing in particular (Plastic) but by far and large they all seem to be a middle finger to someone or something

Music isn’t too far behind – initially subdued many of those song explode in the way that resembles Pixies or some of post-punk bands from the 80s (Young Marble Giants being another good reference point).


Chinese Girls

Synopsis: The will of two men living in Arkansas (Tiny Mix Tapes)

Presented as a two LP set, the albums “Pop Life” and “Of’ showcase the original recorded output of Little Rock’s Chinese Girls, drums, guitar, keys, and vox from two men with amazing secretive musical pedigrees. If you can dream of an American take on New Zealand’s noisy Siltbreeze(d) pop, you are almost there, almost. It’s underground for the underground. It’s also psychic and essential.

Drawing Room Records

Within each of their albums, Andrew Morgan and Sam Murphy bounce around gleefully from heavy riffs to droning synths to acoustic meditations. In this way they recall some of the best underground rock from the decade before them—bands like Unrest and Trumans Water, who were unafraid to jump from style to style, and happy for albums to sound like multi-artist compilations rather than tightly-controlled statements.

Marc Masters / The Out Door

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