Saturday, April 16, 2005

[music] trad punk

Those who know me probably know my taste in music: I like punk, hardcore, Oi!, goth, industrial, EBM, some ska, some emo, with my roots in heavy metal... But I also like some classical, folk, world, and traditional, particularly Celtic-flavored. And I really like it when I find a band that manages to successfully combine hard rock/electronica with traditional/folk. Some bhangra comes close to this, but tends to be a little more influenced by electronic dance or hip-hop than I prefer - I like it, but I like something with a little more of an edge. Today, however, I really scored: not one, but two bands that fit this bill! There's this little record label in Minneapolis, MN - Omnium - that bills themselves as purveyors of 'hard trad'. I was already familiar with them through the band Boiled in Lead, one of the sources of inspiration mentioned in Emma Bull's modern rock n' roll fantasy novel War for the Oaks. I liked their stuff, but I didn't love it - but recently I stumbled across the website of Jane Yolen's son, Adam Stemple - and he's one of the founding members of BiL. This in turn led me back to Omnium, which in turn led me to: Viking punk! Okay, that isn't a fair description - but this album by Hedningarna mixes rock n' roll, electronic music, traditional instruments, samples (a chainsaw!?), and traditional Scandinavian tunes run through a decidedly un-folky filter. Think something kind of like Celtic folk, only darker. Much, much darker. Think dancing naked in a ring under a full moon, waiting for something... ancient to come. A very beautiful but not-necessarily nice something. This album would make an excellent soundtrack for just such a tableau. The next? Cossack punk! Unlike my use of 'viking punk' above, this is actually a dead on: take some traditional Ukrainian tunes (and some new ones heavily influenced by trad music), translate some Sex Pistols covers into Ukrainian, and get some brilliant musicians to play 'em, and you have The Ukrainians (this surprises you?) Seriously, this band is a side-project of the long-time UK progressive rockers The Wedding Present (in town for a show this past week - though I'm not so fond of their most recent stuff), and this album is a non-stop kick-ass punk rock stomp! In Ukrainian. Think 'Pretty Vacant' as you might imagine hearing it in a grungy little underground bar in Odessa or Kiev... Lots of fun. I ordered up a third album from them - the debut EP from a band named Felonious Bosch - it isn't as hard-hitting as the previous two, but still, it mixes medieval and Middle Eastern melodies with a smokey, bluesy-ish rock sensibility, and makes for an excellent listen. Almost all of Omnium's artists (and those of their sister companies) have MP3 and RA files (the MP3s are full-length tracks, while the Real files tend to be excerpts) for your perusal... Take a listen, and let me know what you think. Looking through the hardcopy catalog that came with the disks, I'm seeing a bunch of stuff that looks quite interesting. Categories: ; ; ;

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