Mar 132020
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Brass Against

Protest music is back, spread the word!

The bio for Brass Against on Spotify tells it all: “In this politically challenging era, it’s time to stand up against the machine. We want the music we perform to sound inspiring and resonate with people’s emotions, encouraging them to act.” Their style is a mix of big band and sick bars. The band does have their own original music, but they are known for their covers, like those of the band they paid homage to in their own name, Rage Against the Machine.

Brad Hammonds, leader of the Brass Against group, was inspired to return to protest music as Donald Trump started amassing power. He told Louder, “I know when I listen to political inspired bands I get really energised, especially Rage.” Same, Brad. Same.

And as alluded to, Rage Against the Machine is no stranger to protest music (or covers, for that matter). The band members have been vocal about their anti-authoritarianism and have used their platform to advocate for their beliefs. They have held protest concerts at both the Democratic National Convention (in 2000) and the Republican National Convention (in 2008), which led to both violence and police action. Rage Against the Machine is back to raging, reuniting for a world tour nine years after they have last played together and twenty years since their last full tour. Proceeds from the tour will go to charities, including those that advocate for immigrant rights.

I encourage you to work through Brass Against’s full three albums when you need a little fuel for your hate fire, but we’ll go through some highlights here.

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Mar 112020
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

The Holophonics

I am converted; ska punk is rad. You might think this is a wacky genre that could only be found in the depths of Every Noise at Once, but the genre has roots in the ’70s UK rock scene and has made its way into mainstream music with bands like No Doubt (think “Spiderwebs”). Ska punk is apparently on the verge of a revival this year, with The Interrupters opening the joint tour of Green Day, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy this summer.

The Holophonics are a sextet from Texas who both make original ska punk music and bring spa punk flair to covers. Since the band formed in 2018, they have released a whopping 14 cover albums, cleverly labeled “maskarades,” including one just released at the end of February, amongst their original work. I did a deep dive into their expansive discography and now will gladly take you on a sonic tour. You are going to hear a lot of opinionated horns and a lot of assertive vocals, and it is going to be glorious.

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Jul 022019
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Handmade Moments

Anna Moss and Joel Ludford make up Handmade Moments, a jazz folk duo formed in 2014 after the break up of their original band Don’t Stop Please. Moss and Ludford developed a following in Arkansas and started to travel across the country performing. Unfortunately, in 2016 they hit a major setback when they were both involved in a serious bus accident, requiring time off from touring to recover. However, this recuperation period spawned their album Paw Paw Tree, released in 2018.

This duo has chemistry and a myriad of instrument capabilities; throughout their repertoire of covers, you’ll see them play saxophone, ukulele, guitar, upright bass, even beatbox. Whether it’s soul, funk, or hip-hop, Handmade Moments have the talent to tackle both classic covers and unexpected ones. Here are some of their best.

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May 172019
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

The Dollyrots

Power couple Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas formed the Dollyrots, a pop punk band, in 2000. The oft-quoted origin story sets the scene for their musical style:

“We were watching the 2000 presidential election results, and at four o’clock in the morning, when we found out that George W. Bush had won, Luis and I were like, ‘The world’s probably gonna end anyway, and I don’t want to go to med school,’ so we thought, ‘Let’s just do the band.'”

Honestly, who hasn’t felt the same urge recently?

If you are “fashionably socialized” you may have at least heard of The Dollyrots’ biggest hit, “Because I’m Awesome,” in one of the variety of television shows, movies, and commercials that featured it. Along with releasing original music consistently over the years, The Dollyrots have covered a wide range of songs that span genres and decades of origin. Here is just taste of what they have to offer cover-wise.

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Feb 162018
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

jade bird covers

On the 25-track David Bowie tribute album Howard Stern’s show released this week, many of the names were familiar: Billy Corgan, Dawes, Peter Frampton, etc. One that didn’t ring a bell was Jade Bird. But her version of Bowie’s Hunky Dory deep cut “Quicksand” was a surprising highlight. I wondered how I was so late to discover her.

Turns out, I wasn’t. Despite running in such heady company, Jade Bird (her real name) has only released one EP so far. But things are moving fast for her, and by the time she releases her debut record, she might not be so under the radar any longer.

She was just nominated for the BBC Sound of 2018 which, if you’re not in the UK, might not mean much. But it’s as good a measure as any of who might blow up in the next year. Winners in the past decade include the then-little-known Sam Smith, HAIM, and, oh, Adele. Hell, the losers include The Weeknd, King Krule, and Savages (and that was just in one year!). Continue reading »

Mar 242017
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

emm gryner

In Canada, and among elite musicians, it seems foolish to claim that the work of Emm Gryner flies under the radar. She has a dozen and a half releases to her name, not counting the ones with the folk trio Trent Severn (where she sings and plays bass) and the hard rockers Trapper. She’s played with David Bowie’s band and opened for Def Leppard. Nelly Furtado named her album Science Fair as a desert island disc. Bono was once asked what songs of the previous 20 years he wished he’d written; Gryner’s “Almighty Love” was one of the half-dozen or so he named.
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