Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock

notes from the trenches: a sonic experiment

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The good news is that Tuareg rock n’ roller MDOU MOCTAR’s magnum opus Afrique Victime debuted at the end of May, and my God! I’ve been absorbing it like a thirsty sponge. Rock n’ roll is alive and well—but, contrary to popular belief, it’s not inhabiting the form of Maneskin. It’s in the form of Mdou Moctar. 

Mdou Moctar and his band performing tracks off of their recent album, “Afrique Victime.”

The bad news: I spent the past week conducting a sonic experiment that pretty much blew up in my face. In an attempt to learn to like some of the light, cloying varieties of pop music currently saturating radio airplay these long summer days (and nights), I bought myself a copy of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. It’s a record belonging to the “noise/drone” genre, sandwiched in the musical history books in between the engineering mess Bowie made of the Stooges Raw Power and the first Dead Boys album.

But, the roaring, keening, banshee shriek of machines must have been the balm of Gilead my troubled soul needed, because my plans to turn my musical taste away from Funhouse-era Stooges and towards Ariana Grande backfired. I think…I think I’ve fallen in love with Metal Machine Music. What was basically an attempt to be a better friend (you can only moan so much about your friends’ party playlists before they stop inviting you to the aforesaid parties) absolutely backfired. I now have even less tolerance for Ari than I did before. Merzbow, here I come. 

Anyway, in other Very Important News, last month L.A.-based punk band the Linda-Lindas signed to Epitaph Records. The band (an all-girl, Asian American and Latinx quartet composed of sisters, cousins and friends–the oldest member of which is 16, and the youngest, 10) recently caused a stir in the alt scene with their righteously angry single “Racist, Sexist Boy” (drummer Mila de la Garza explains the song’s origins in the video linked below.)

The Linda-Lindas, live at the L.A. Public Library.

HINDS are embarking on a tour of the USA this September. It’s 22 glorious days with Future Islands and Modest Mouse, and if any of my American cousins are reading this, go bless yourself with tickets. For those stuck on this side of the pond, Hinds are making the trek from sunny Spain to the constant drizzling rain of this angry little island in 2022. I’m sure tickets will go with the speed of a cheetah taking down an antelope after a weeklong juice cleanse, so be sure to snap them up as soon as they go on presale. 

Ana Perrote of Hinds shot by @neelastica.

Squid (a band originally hailing from Brighton, but currently working from London) released their full-length debut, Bright Green Field, last month. It’s received a deluge of worthy praises, and I’m more than willing to add to them. Some have described the band’s style of playing as punk-funk, and others say it’s post-punk.

(I don’t know why they say post-punk, because Squid’s signature sound is very much rooted in the present. And aren’t we all? Unless, like Billy Pilgrim, some of you lucky stiffs have become “unstuck in time,” we’re all here in 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, passengers on an increasingly hotter spaceship Earth and members of an increasingly unhinged so-called society.)

But we have music, and good music is a balm for suffering in a way that alcohol and therapy can never hope to touch. So thank you for the new albums—to Mdou Moctar, the Linda-Lindas, Squid and all the other musicians slogging it out on the battlefield of expression for their art.

Yours in solidarity and Bandcamp Fridays,