Failed Fables EP
Upon hearing this EP for the first time, I immediately messaged the band on Facebook and apologized for not including them in my top local song picks for 2022 in LEO. If only I had heard them a few weeks prior, it most certainly would have been in there. Bad Wires is one of those bands I had heard a lot about but hadn’t gotten around to checking out until recently, and I was floored when I did. With unique polyrhythmic structures and stop-on-a-dime timing changes, this hits like a tornado with riffs, thunderous bass and pounding drums flying at you in every direction all at once. Not an easy sound to categorize, with elements borrowed from metal, thrash, stoner rock, punk, industrial, and hardcore. If you can imagine a mix of Young Widows, Jesus Lizard, Melvins, Helmet, Prong, Ministry, and The Minutemen, then you’re on the right path. A ridiculously huge sound for just a three-piece. Failed Fables is made up of 4 tracks; one new studio track called “Senile 20 Something”, and 3 tracks recorded live at Headliners Music Hall in 2021, (these are “Countryman” which is a new track, then “Hail The Unholy” with its off-key intro of “Riff Raff” by AC/DC, and “Attention Economy,” both off their debut album Politics of Attraction). All four songs just absolutely smoke! The band already has big plans for 2023, including a new EP and shows at SXSW. In the meantime, you need this!
Don. The Poet
“I was ghosted by the girl that I loved and all I could think was, ‘are you serious?’ says Louisville, KY’s Don. The Poet regarding the inspiration for her latest single “R U SERIUS,” (to be released on Feb. 21). The track itself is a melodic rap song built around an infectious beat and lyrics dealing with self-growth and moving on after the end of a relationship. Known for her powerful and emotive performances, Don. The Poet’s vocal and songwriting abilities absolutely shine here by incorporating smooth-flowing raps, soulful singing, and spoken-word poetry into this track. Erykah Badu is obviously quite the influence here, as one can certainly picture the queen of neo-soul herself performing this song. The production here is flawless, as the vocals, bass, drums, and keyboards all sound crystal clear while all ebbing and flowing together seamlessly. With Don. The Poet’s unique lyricism and wordplay, she has truly crafted a captivating track here that will keep listeners engaged and hooked from start to finish and stay in their heads long after the song is over.
Letters of Acceptance
We’re barely into the new year, and I can already tell you that Shadow Problems 1 is going to land on more than a few best-of-2023 lists. Letters of Acceptance is a four-piece Louisville/Lexington hybrid band whose sound is straightforward yet genre-defying at the same time. It’s a wonderful mix of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, The Violent Femmes, The Zombies, The Wallflowers, and T-Rex, with an underlying vibe of The Grateful Dead and the spirit of early Beatles all at once. Five tracks of rich, hook-laden guitar melodies and serene vocal harmonies that intertwine and meander in equal measure, backed by lyrics that find mystery and absurdity in the everyday. LOA seems to have a knack for being able to create extremely catchy rock songs combined with pop sensibilities, but they do it in such a laid-back kind of way that you get completely lost in the music and lose track of just how well-crafted these songs are and how much talent is behind them. All five songs here are bona fide smash hits just waiting to be discovered. 20 blissful minutes of warm, bright, upbeat, carefree music to turn up and lose yourself in. LOA has a very lofty goal of putting out three releases this year. I’m not sure how they are going to top this EP, but I sure am looking forward to hearing them try. If the feeling of complete contentedness had a soundtrack, this would be it!
LISTEN: Shadow Problems 1 EP (Spotify)
Like the titular character Arceus, who is the creator deity for the entire Pokémon universe and can change its type to be the most effective against its opponent, Louisville’s Lucid Rapture operates in the rap game much the same way; creating his own style while also being able to switch it up when necessary. Mixing the low-toned, mumbly speaking tone of Eddie Vedder with the plodding, steady flowing lyrical delivery of Juice WRLD and the experimental beats of XXXTentacion, Lucid Rapture has succeeded in creating a sound all his own. With its 808 bass drum-led beats giving a solid nod to trap and the so-called Soundcloud Rap of the previous decade while at the same time paying homage to Grunge and alternative rock, all the while remaining modern, fresh and innovative. With just a little over two years making and publishing music under his belt, Lucid Dreams comes out hitting hard on his debut album opener, (and arguably best track), “Game of Thrones” and never lets up from there. Another highlight is the hauntingly dark, acoustic-driven ballad “Farm,” which further highlights Lucid Rapture’s versatility as a performer. With lyrics running the gamut from personal to video games, all peppered with KY-specific references, and flows ranging from laid back and mellow to in-your-face, this is grunge rap done right.
LISTEN: “i am Arceus” (Spotify)
“Twist” and “Immolate” singles
After repeated listenings of their previous two singles, “Writhe” and “Vivisect,” as well as their 2021 debut album “Static” over the past few months, I thought I knew what to expect from New Albany trio The Histrionics. And I was wrong. “Twist,” which the band describes as “a romantic, Lovecraftian abomination of a song,” certainly catches the listener off-guard with a jangly ska-meets-bossa-nova rhythm that has the aesthetics of both early 80’s alternative and early 90’s grunge, kind of like if Nirvana covered The Smiths. Guitarist/singer Quinton Byrd’s rich, crooning, baritone vocals really shine here, giving off a strong Ian Curtis (Joy Division) vibe. The band’s forthcoming single “Immolate,” (release date: 2/24), uses a huge, pounding, almost tribal rhythm to build up tension “that eventually explodes into an unbridled expression of pain and envy, going from charm to mania,” as the band describes it. Underpinned by bassist Rylan Lamb and drummer Phoenix Hardy, this is a dark, driving, forceful tune that simultaneously skirts the edges of grunge, hardcore and goth, while finding Byrd’s vocals going from a Jim Morrison/Danzig-esque style to full-on hardcore shouting. Both tracks (as well as “Writhe” and “Vivisect”) are part of a bigger picture: a full-length concept album revolving around codependency, predestination, and apparently, rollercoasters, entitled “You Are The Ugliest Part Of My Body” (tentative release date of 3/30). The Histrionics are definitely a band you’re going to want to take note of.
LISTEN: “Twist” (Spotify)
Following closely on the heels of the single “El Toro” released in November, Turbo Nut is back with their debut full-length album Turbo Nut Forever. 10 tracks of beautiful, dreamy, free-flowing Louisville greatness! Seriously, not only is there no filler here, there’s not even a wasted moment. This album is as solid as they come! From the post-punk album opener “Dregs,” the jazzy “Menology” and “Outlaws,” the wonderfully bizarre “La Baleine” (sung in French, no less), and the punky album closer and fan favorite “Rats Ass,” you’d be hard pressed to pick a standout track among an album full of standout tracks. And it is certainly a unique sound that Turbo Nut has perfected here, skirting the edges of post-punk, shoegaze, jazz, dreampop, lo-fi and new wave, but never enough to definitively classify them under any of those genres. One of the great things about this band is you’re never quite sure where they are going to go with a song. They can and often do stop on a dime and completely change up the tempo and even the style of the song unexpectedly throughout these 10 tracks. And a beautiful job recording and producing this album by Anne Gauthier at La La Land Sound, (who, coincidentally, also did The Histrionics’ singles reviewed here as well), giving it a rich, warm, expansive sound that really brought out each instrument brilliantly. Turbo Nut Forever is an absolute joy of an album to listen to.