Here’s the scoop on the latest album releases from your favorite Gainesville bands. Did your band release an album within the last six months? How about your friend? Your girlfriend? Your mom? We’d love to hear them all. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to some of your tracks. Put “For the Record” in the subject line.
SLUGAGE: Down the Street Somewhere
Released/ digitally: July 11, physically: October
Recorded at/ “The Sweat Lodge,” Brian Ray’s House
Sounds like/ Parquet Courts, The Misfits, The Sonics
Inspiration/ Weezer, Regina Spektor, Bomb the Music Industry!
Key tracks/ “Tuesday,” “House Broken”
Where to get it/ slugage.bandcamp.com
Bass, Vocals/ Anthony Herrera
Drums/ Christian Herrera
Guitar, Vocals/ Alu Soto
Guitar, Vocals/ Vitor Viana
Witness any Slugage set and you’ll notice even the most angry song performed with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s rare for these fellas to keep a straight face on stage.
“We’re like the Naked Gun of punk bands,” said Vitor Viana, guitarist-turned-bassist and one half of the band’s songwriting duo.
This playful attitude pervades many of the tracks on the band’s second release, “Down the Street Somewhere.” Recorded in three days, the music melds influences as varied as Black Flag and Regina Spektor into an EP about “leaving, relationships and nothing at all,” says guitarist Alu Soto.
Change and growth were on the band’s mind as they recorded these songs and moved to Gainesville from Miami earlier this summer. Slugage’s first local release reflects a step forward for the group. After an additional year of playing and writing together, their performances and creative process are more focused compared to their previous effort, “You’re Welcome.” The difference lies in the fact that, as opposed to “You’re Welcome” – where producer Ben Katzman helped finish about half the material as sessions progressed – this time, the band went into the studio with every song completed.
The added rigidity helped. These are aggressive songs with melodic sensibilities that reflect a duality in the group’s sound. This split character can be attributed to the band’s shared songwriting duties. In numbers such as “Tuesday,” written by Soto, you’ll find many examples of vocal harmonies and guitar lines indebted to surf-rock and ‘60s groups, like The Sonics and The Rascals. Viana’s material, especially the standout “House Broken,” features short, compact riffs and raw vocals that recall proto-punk Johnny Thunders and hardcore pioneers Minor Threat.
A change of scenery wasn’t the only adjustment Slugage had to contend with in moving up to Gainesville – they also left behind former bassist Anthony Herrera, who studies in Miami. Slugage continues as a three piece, and what eases the transition is the personal friendship and musical kinship between the trio.
“We all enjoy and respect what each person has to say musically,” said drummer Christian Herrera. “It’s like we’re each other’s house band, now literally under one roof.”
DUNGEONS & DAGRONS: Wizard Stix
Release date/ October 19
Recorded at/ Casa Bazooka Recording Studios, Miami
Sounds like/ 1994, Lightning Bolt, Hella
Inspiration/ Giraffes? Giraffes!, Rush Noumenon, Foals
Key tracks/ “Fire Ant Juice,” “Per Degaton”
Where to get it/ http://dagrons.bandcamp.com
There seems to have been a recent explosion of “math rock” bands in Gainesville. These are bands that employ frenetic percussion and disorganized, experimental guitar riffs. But why is this chaotic genre becoming so popular? Basically, it’s because math rock sounds really bizarre.
But what is math rock exactly?
“Some people think that if you hear a little bit of guitar tapping in a song, that makes it math rock,” said Raian. “No. No. No. There is so much more to it than that.”
Typically, a math rock song will include unexpected tempo and key changes, as well as irregular scales and time signatures. While most rock music is eternally bound to 4/4, (that is, four beats per measure) a math rock song can have a measure with two beats, then four, then two, then seven. Or any other crazy combination you can think of.
“Math rock completely avoids the universal rules of music that no one ever thinks about, yet still manages to sound good,” said Pedro.
Which is the whole point of Dungeons & Dagrons. At one moment, their songs can radiate a nostalgic melody reverberating at a lava lamp tempo and then suddenly morph into symphonic finger-tapping at warp speed. If anything, Dungeons & Dagrons is reminiscent of a schizophrenic Nintendo-64. For example, “Fire Ant Juice” opens with a series of glitchy sound effects above mountainous, chugging guitar riffs, giving way to an optimistic march in changing time signatures.
Despite their frantic and frequent tempo and tonal changes, Dungeons & Dagrons would still consider themselves to make “party math rock.” Their music somehow succeeds in combining unexpected musical patterns with beats that are hip and danceable. This is obvious at their live shows, where the floor shakes irregularly under the feet of the crowd, moving in unison to the splattering, scattered beat of Pedro’s drums. It is also remarkable that, aside from the main movements of each song, much of their live music is created on the spot. Even the seasoned music lover’s mind will be blown to pieces by the improvisational tornado of this spazz-rock duo.
MSNRA: Nocturnal EP
Recorded at/ Medusa Sound Studios, Gainesville
Sounds Like/ Hieroglyphics, Arrested Development, The Roots
Inspiration/ Black Star, Cannibal Ox, Erykah Badu
Key Tracks/ “Dessert,” “Trails in the Sky”
Where to Get It/ At shows
Emcee/ Abimbola Akinsiku
Emcee, Guitar/ Zach Thomas
Emcee, Drums, Production/ Alexander Crook
Keyboards, DJ, Production/ Dillard Wiseheart
Guitar, Bass, Synth, Production/ Tristan Whitehill
Vocals/ Shara Lunon
Vocal, Mariama/ Ndure
Vocals, Violin, Clarinet/ Theron Gray
MSNRA stands for moon, stars, sun and the Ra.
“The name is us; it’s duality; it’s yin and yang; it’s day and night. It’s all encompassing – everybody has something they bring to the table, and we balance each other out,” said Bim Akinsiku, one of the group’s emcees and founding members.
The “Nocturnal” EP is the collective’s first project as an eight-piece. MSNRA’s lineup has doubled since their first show; the group’s growth has contributed to a sense of community that is paramount not only on these songs, but in their philosophy. The tunes implore you to remember where you come from (the group repeatedly champions Gainesville and the fact that these beats are all Gainesville-produced). They profess self-empowerment and self-respect, deliberately constructed to work outside the sound and content of mainstream hip-hop.
“Dessert,” produced by emcee Alex Crook, features an instantly recognizable organ line and tasteful guitar. It explores the liberation that comes with discovering your proverbial voice (“I couldn’t see until these songs/I’m not alone”).
“Trails in the Sky” includes gorgeous choral backing vocals reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Its lush bassline anchors the song and creates an introspective mood in which simplistic subject matter is scorned (“Rest in peace one dimensional emcees”) and the individual empowered (“Risin’ out of dust and it settles down to Mars/every single one of us is made up out of stars”).
It isn’t easy to reconcile the creative drive of eight different minds, but MSNRA manages to both reflect a diverse set of influences and express a consistent message: the promotion of positivity, knowledge and respect. Respect for each other’s creative space is crucial to their harmony in songwriting and live performance.
From the outset, MSNRA was never intended to be limited to the original four members. Akinsiku and Crook envisioned a continually growing, full-band, live experience. In fact, their first show was an Elestial Sound album release showcase for two future members, Tristan Whitehill and Dillard Wiseheart.
“They just watched that show, saw us doing our thing and wanted to join,” said Akinsiku.
The group isn’t getting complacent, either – they continue to push their sound in new directions and have begun exposing their music to new ears. They just completed an eight-date tour, which hit Athens, Baltimore and New York City, among other spots. Their first full-length record is also on the horizon.
“This EP is supposed to be ‘the night before,’” said Crook. “And if this is night, then our upcoming album is the ‘day.’”