School’s back in session, and campus radio stations are powering up to once again break cool bands, uncover unique sonic diversions, and provide a one-of-a-kind soundtrack for your semester ahead. And the best part is that college radio stations really embrace regional sounds. That’s why we’re expecting a great new selection of hot tracks as we take a weekly look at different college radio Top Tens.
We’re sure getting a wild selection out of the students running the free-form KDVS at University of California, Davis. This university was actually a big draw for plenty of bands that made a big impression back in the early days of what became known as College Rock. It wasn’t quite Athens, Georgia, but you can still find plenty of music geeks praising the likes of ’80s bands like True West, Thin White Rope, and Game Theory. (Game Theory’s first album just got reissued, too.)
Davis still has plenty of sharp local acts, too. We’re hoping those guys in Calling Morocco are still around. But for now, let’s concentrate on the current Top Ten at KDVS, which is rocking some seriously cerebral stuff from a wide range of years–plus some samples before you start listening to KDVS for more…
The God In Hackney: Cave Moderne (Junior Aspirin)
Describing themselves as “prehistoric future music” and awash in Neanderthal imagery, England’s four-piece The God in Hackney hammers out atmospheric soundscapes consisting of “chants, drums, guitars, synths, shells, earth, teeth, bits of tree and crap music apps.” Their debut actually lumbered up the charts last winter, but it keeps taking over the snake brains of all those who converge around it–and has evolved into the first dominating album of the new semester.
Zeek Sheck: Joinus (Resipiscent)
Slow-burn Chicago freak rock goddess Zeek Sheck uses noise loops, war whoops, big band instruments, and psychedelic occult spells to violate all notions of musical order and bewitch listeners who have a no-limits appetite for adventure.
Feelings: Ends Meat (Urinal Cake)
Detroit garage rock as filtered through ’90s grunge and Britpop, Feelings deliver much more than nostalgia–no matter how familiar it feels to once again be simultaneously foot-stomping and shoe-gazing. That’s their (relatively) new single “Mantras” above.
Gentleman Surfer: Blalks (self-released)
Gentleman Surfer began as a multi-instrumental solo project for freewheeling Northern California drummer Jon Bafus, who’s manned the kit for multiple esteemed outfits through the years. The group has since evolved into a polyrhythmic, near-prog power trio, with Jon driving from behind his drumsticks.
G. Green: Area Codes (Mt. St. Mtn)
Sacramento scrappers G. Green’s second album comes on sounding like a more nuanced, maybe even mature version of the band, but only in ways that enhance the power of their post-punk rage. That includes a tendency for bad words, like the NSFW title of the above video.
Half Japanese: Overjoyed (Joyful Noise)
Half Japanese have been college-radio faves since the ’80s, and the lo-fi art-pop duo have just emerged from the lair of underground legends with their first album in thirteen years. The record’s produced by Deerhoof’s John Dieterich, and Overjoyed makes good on the promise of its title.
Melchior/Walker: “Sad Son in Law” b/w “I Could Sit Here Forever” (Kill Shaman)
Dan Melchior (Lloyd Pack, Dan Melchior Und Das Menace) and Russell Walker (Pheromoans, Lloyd Pack) team as a duo for a 7″ single, and the second side is even spacier than the first.
German Army: Jivaro Witnesses (Burka For Everybody)
Scarily prolific and, frankly, just plain scary, darkwave industrial outfit German Army storms again with another slab of droning synths, slow-thunder basslines, sludge drum machines, buried vocals, and an overall air embodied by the title of the album’s breakout composition, ‘Sexual Cycle of Human Norms.”
Golden Pelicans: Golden Pelicans (Total Punk)
Slam yourself to a barrage of sun-scorched punk from Orlando’s most ornery neo-safety-pin brigade, as exemplified by their rave-up “Pissing in a Puddle of Puke.”
Ulsers: Remember Them (Wallaby Beat)
It seems that KDVS isn’t above some ’80s nostalgia–but they skip the California sound for some weirdness from Australia in 1980. The sonic archaeologists at Wallaby Beat records have reissued this EP from the Ulsers, who rocked out with minimalist guitars, cardboard box drums, harmonica, saxophone. The result was (and remains) mad vibrations of sheer originality.