Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This One Time At Bandcamp.com: Zlam Dunk

A couple weeks ago I posted about how I had decided to search bandcamp.com in order to discover some local Austin punk bands. You see, while I love all kinds of music, if you were to ask me what kind of music is my favorite I would say punk. What does "punk" mean though? To many, that is a loaded question and the answer really varies from person to person. For some "punk" is something that happened in the 70's when bands like The Ramones, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols railed against the excesses of 70's rock, disco, prog, and glam, and produced a stripped down, hard-edged, uncompromising soundtrack for those unsatisfied with the status quo. For others "punk" is something that doesn't even take hold until the 80's with bands like Bad Religion, the Dead Milkmen, and the Descendents coming onto the scene. For others still "punk" refers almost exclusively to hardcore punk, a louder, more aggressive form of music pioneered by the likes of Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Minor Threat. There a people who think garage bands are punk, that Green Day is punk, that emo music is punk, and that the 80's "New Wave" was punk. They're all right. They're all wrong. Fuck it! Who cares?

While it may be impossible to define whether something is punk or not punk, depending on who you talk to, I know what I consider to be punk. My personal preferences lean distinctively towards the hardcore branch of the punk family tree and encompass many of its offshoots. Since moving here and before beginning my search on Bandcamp, a number of Austin and Texas punk bands had been brought to my attention. These bands were actually a major impetus in my search as there seemed to be a common thread running between all of them: a certain garage rock like style and presentation. You can hear it in bands like The Marked Men and Bad Sports, that lo-fi garage-rock/protopunk sound that recalls punk music from the early days of the 70's. While certainly not bad, it wasn't what I was looking for and after hearing so much in that vein, I began to wonder if there was any punk music being produced in Austin that had a bit more of a hardcore bent or at least didn't ascribe to the extreme lo-fi aesthetic that seemed to be so prominent.

It didn't take me long on Bandcamp to find several bands that fit the bill for me in various ways and now, after having spent a couple weeks with these albums I'd like to give you my thoughts:

Noble Ancestry by Zlam Dunk
Bandcamp: zlamdunk.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @Zlam_Dunk

Of my recently acquired albums, this is probably my favorite. Noble Ancestry turned out to be exactly the kind of music I love: something different, but still somewhat familiar. Zlam Dunk play a tight, relentless brand of post-hardcore that's as technically impressive as it is danceable. While the album leads off with the anthemic "Vice" the tempo quickly shifts into territory that can only be described as dance music for hardcore kids. With the one-two punch of "Tomorrow in Twenty-Million Years" and "Midnight Runners" - a duo of songs whose driving beats, frenetic picking, and scorching synth practically beg you to move your body - Zlam Dunk recall for me the later works of DC's Q and Not U albeit with a bit more of an edge a la At the Drive-In and Fugazi or even Athens Georgia's Cinemechanica. When all is said and done Noble Ancestry is a well rounded experience with a lot of talent, power, and creativity on display. The band's next release, "Balcones", is due out on May 3rd.

Next: This Quiet by Markov ...

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