There is something both steeped in ritual and forms at the same time exciting and unexpected when I encounter a new band I really like…
The Perfect Start To The Show
In my mind’s eye, if I were to imagine the kind of punk band I like most...I would be sitting in a random audience at some hole in the wall in some nondescript building…..The only cool thing in the room would be the beverages and only for the few seconds after we received them from the intimidating sarcastic bartender.
Out of the stage shadows would emerge one band member, the bassist, bass slung low...A pounding catchy bass-line would emerge from the magic created in the vortex between his or her fingers, the bass, and the amplifier.
The pounding hooky bass line would almost be a half-step slow - like it was teasing the explosion to come….Then a singer would emerge, and start the party with something like a Ramone's style countdown….184.108.40.206...as a guitarist emerged and then after 4…..BOOOM, song explosion, about four times faster as the bass player, singer, guitarist, and suddenly present drummer challenge eardrums, speed barriers, and mortality…..catharsis.
If the band was really good, they would provide all of these moments, but something more would happen too….with Kurt Cobain, unfortunately, you could feel the that the joy was laced with something much more complicated (yes, I saw Nirvana in OKC many years ago). With Steve Albini you knew he just didn’t give two fucks about what anyone else thought...With Fishbone it was pure joy….with the Ramones it was never breaking character no matter what (they were there to destroy...pure and simple...or else Johnny would kill them)....With the Sex Pistols it was knowing the whole thing could melt down anytime...I loved a Denton band called Baboon because you could always tell something special was about to happen when their lead guitarist got a little smug smile on his face.
So, anyway, in music there is predictability, there is build, there is form...but there is also that indecipherable something that makes one band (that basically does the same thing as the other bands) different...special...memorable. Maybe it is something they add sonically, or a divine spark, or a singer’s problems….whatever it is, it creates a spark.
By special, I 100% do not mean successful (at least not in the conventional sense)...I mean the Replacements were special but not particularly successful...I would still rather see them drunkenly self-destruct live than see most bands play perfect sets.
Which brings me to today….
So, I am looking through the Stereogum “Album of the Week” section (I check a bunch of sites pretty regularly)...I listen to the stream of album of the week pick...the Album “Me” by Empress Of….Perfectly fine, I would even say I enjoyed listening to it.
The next artist linked below is a New York City band called La Misma and the link was to a stream of their new album Kanizadi (a band that I knew absolutely nothing about)….I had nothing better to do, so I clicked on the link...then I clicked on the link to the stream of the album...and……
Guitarist plays a riff….bass player starts playing what seems like a low strung bass...about a millimeter slow...building…...building...singer starts...I can’t understand a thing she is saying but wow does she sound cool saying whatever the hell she is saying…
And the spark is there...it is there….turn it up if you don’t believe me.
Not saying it’s the best ever...just that it was electric.
As my head bobs, and my feet tap, and I start smiling...I look back at the information by the link….
The singers name is, and I could not make this up, Nay Viera-Rosario and she sings in Portuguese...WTF
I am not sure why but that is about as punk as it gets. Frankly, I could care less what she is saying, she sounds badass.
She is a badass...and so is her band
So, La Misma Rules?
I doubt very seriously La Misma will ever sell out any major shows (I hope they do)...but, as I listened and relistened to Kanizadi I was taken back to the feeling I got when I first fell in love with punk and post-punk
I am not even saying that Kanizadi is even a very good album...It is not…I might not remember it in a few weeks, but I will remember them...and I will remember that there was something special there.
I suspect they will be increasingly interesting, and I would 100% go see them live
There are moments of pure joy in music.
There are moments of pure joy in music and in the discovery of new music.
I remember digging in bins in record stores, finding potential gems, and sometimes connecting in just this way….That moment when you are like YESSSSS!
It is also really cool, that me or you can look down lists of new releases, bypass the chosen pick, and find something that connects with us on a much more personal level.
Curation vs. Discovery
In the story I just told, Stereogum curated the album I really liked...I mean it was part of a list of albums released this week...but credit where credit is due, they started me down my path.
But, in another sense it was discovery….I listen to every album I can until I find the stuff I love.
There are also different levels of curation, and apple music and some other sites are starting to build what I would consider to be walled music gardens.
Sometimes I really appreciate curation, when I find curators who seem to be fellow travelers or when they educate me about music I don’t entirely understand.
It is much easier to kick back and let someone else do the work...The music still sounds great..But, there is something amazing about listening to something that you found that has that spark.
I would hate to lose that feeling of discovery that everyone who has ever been a real DJ can tell you all about...Music is extra special when you find it through your own efforting...I don’t know why, but it’s true...I still love hearing what the culture merchants cook up on sites...I mean hell, I make playlists on this site all the time….But, I would never want listening to my playlists to prevent you from finding your own music and making your own cool playlists out of the things you found.
I am not even saying that I FOUND everything on my playlists, I try to tell the stories of how I encounter the music I love on a pretty regular basis here...All I am saying is that I hope you get music from me….and that you find music I have never heard...music from out of the great void...music that can’t possibly be that good...that takes you to that place where music is an exercise in pure joy.
For me, right now, that place is called La Misma...Who knows what it will be next week or next month...but for now, I will be hanging in La Misma.
I would give you links, but they are not on most of my sites, I would check the Stereogum link to the stream.
What did you think of La Misma? What recent albums bring you pure joy? Would love to hear what you like, leave a comment!