Tapebenders – Chasing Ghosts

Self-released, 2014

This reminded me of the sonic rock of Abandoned Pools, the guitar strumming of Sensefield, and the vocals of Doug Martsch, which is certainly not a bad thing. Mostly loud with enough energy to fill a stadium, Chasing Ghosts occasionally retreats to quieter, spacey atmospheres, as the band play both sides of the equation. File this under progressive psyche/alt-rock, as well as unknown band you need to familiarise yourself with.

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Protest The Hero – Volition

Razor & Tie, 2013

PTH’s brand of progressive metal is at a new creative high on their 4th album, with vocal acrobatics, furious guitar licks, and a kinetic rhythm section that shifts from intense metal to pianos and violins. Taking an in-depth journey into punk, ’80s metal, prog-rock and hardcore, there’s a skilled use of melody versus jarring abrasiveness, as each song finds a new identity while still being tied down to their trademark sound. This one should bring in many new fans, and for good reason.

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Chris Forsyth – Solar Motel

Paradise Of Bachelors, 2013

Forsyth calls his work ‘Cosmic Americana’, and if by that he means mesmerising guitar rock that is both experimental and artistic without pretension, then I have to agree. Divided into four parts, the tracks run long in both duration and ideas, but never out stay their welcome. From classic rock wailing to prog-rock meandering to creative indie-rock, this one has plenty of textures brewing, with a constant influx of sonic surprises.

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Halaska – Mayantology

Self-Released, 2013

Calling this math rock might be a severe understatement; Halaska’s idea of song structure puts them in a league all of their own. This first LP is beyond experimental, and moves on with a post-everything feel while alluding to free jazz, avant-garde rock and moments of carefully calculated noise. One might think something this meticulous would alienate the listener, but somehow Mayantology is instantly catchy – and don’t even get me started on that rhythm section…

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Karnivool – Asymmetry

Density, 2013

At over an hour long, Australia’s finest spread their wings on their third album, going from thick, pounding, and vocally harsh, to serene, experimental, and even pop-influenced. Tempos are constantly fluctuating, as are the textures, so you get a mix of atmospheric versus direct, charged versus soft. With their recent success and plenty of anticipation for this record you’d expect an excess of vocal hooks and melodies, but instead they deliver precise, atypical music that focuses more on tribal-esque percussion and prog-rock ideas. A fascinating listen, and much respect for not going the expected route.

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Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows

Rodriguez-Lopez, 2013

An Omar Rodriguez-Lopez project (The Mars Volta, At The Drive-In), this might be his most immediately accessible work yet. It’s still prog-influenced, but with melodic punk influences and sweet female vocals courtesy of Teri Gender-Bender (Le Butcherettes). Occasionally dipping into hazy indie-pop, there’s also a lot of dark synth, iconoclastic guitar work and hypnotic beats. One of the best things Omar’s done since At The Drive-In, which of course is saying a lot.

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