Punk and Palm Trees: a syllabus week stay-cation

Columnist Morgan Magid takes a look at local music scenes around the country before the start of her new column for next week’s issue

By Morgan Magid | Aug. 26, 2015

Tags: Music Reviews


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We’re taking one last “stay-cation” before syllabus week ends to check out some rising local acts. These groups form critical parts of musical communities that allow genres to grow and expand organically. Many of these bands have toured their respective regions extensively, making the term “local band” undersell them a bit. Nevertheless, these groups deserve endless support because without them, we’d see a lot of genres die very quickly. If you want to see the music you love continue to get better, support the bands that will soon be carrying the torch.

Building these roots is critical. Unless they win a reality show or opt to become the next One Direction boy band thing, most musicians start out playing at basement and house shows. Because of this, it is so important to support musicians at this stage in their career. So go to a show at the back of a woodshop or in a church’s basement. (I’ve been to one of those, and it was super rad.) Expand your horizons and get out from behind your Spotify playlists and Beats1 radio.

1) The Rollups: Columbia, Mo.

Coming out of our very own budding CoMo music scene is The Rollups. Comprised of four MU students, the group released its self-titled debut album in March after recording it with our neighbors at KCOU. Strong pop sensibilities keep the record in high spirits. Even the dopey love song “Abbie,” with its muted instrumentation, feels light and airy. In the new semester, I’m interested to see how this band ends up combining their influences to create their own sound.

Where to start: “Only You”

2) Save Face: Central New Jersey

The speedy pop-punk will bring listeners back to the genre’s roots along the lines of The Vandals and Sum 41. Save Face released a short album last year, but their newest split album with My Heart, My Anchor demonstrates the band’s continued dedication to writing lightning fast, music that never holds back. With a hyper-aggressive style of punk, the group doesn’t shy away from merging with hardcore elements in many of its songs. This rawness brings tracks like “Brain” to life and will make Save Face a much-needed addition to your music library.

Where to start: “Brain”

3) A Will Away: Naugatuck, Conn.

Though they hail from Connecticut, A Will Away has quickly made a name for themselves within their tri-state area. The band’s newest release, entitled “Bliss,” shows exceptional growth and an incredible refinement of their pop-punk and rock-blended sound. A tone of honesty filters through each track alongside energetic guitar. The EP has a deeper range than most of your typical local releases and truly superb vocals polish every song quite nicely. The band’s 2014 split album with Buffalo’s Head North is also very much worth checking out.

Where to start: “Play Dead”

4) Scout Boys: Long Island, N.Y.

Long Island, New York, has always had a rich history of excellent and genre-defining hardcore and pop-punk bands. This storied tradition means local acts always seem to get really good, really quickly. “What If, Like When We Die…” is dark yet energetic, and demonstrates maturity in a genre not necessarily known for such themes. With both refined drum work and guitar playing, Scout Boys will give you the pleasure of supporting a local act without worrying about the quality of music you’ll be getting. If you like this, look for the upcoming full-length in the winter.

Where to start: “Spooky Basement Noises”

5) Gin War: Long Beach Island, N.J.

A truer strain of rock ‘n’ roll than some of the other bands on this list, Gin War employs romantic notions with wispy vocals on the “Half of a Good Plan” EP. Also originating out of the rich New Jersey punk scene, the four-piece weaves crisp guitar sounds intricately with poetic lyrics on tracks such as “Wink,” with an obvious passion. The indie aspects of the EP also shine through, as it certainly has a strong rock focus without crossing over into the hard-hitting, aggressive side of pop-punk.

Where to start: “Wink”

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