Matthew Peabody and Mike Kegler share a long history, one that spans bands and orchestras and college jam sessions. The Missing Chums is a continuation of that musical synergy. Along with keyboardist Matt Douponce and bassist Henry Van Loon, the band cranks out jumpy, lo-fi rockers. The title track to their debut album, Out of the Gates, is an anthem of uncertainty. I’m guessing this great flood will wash your conscience clean, Peabody warbles over furious strumming, handclaps, and tambourines. The excellent Cover It Up is more brazen, steeped in the ˜80s with big distorted guitars, rock steady drums, and Peabody’s loosened croon. The Chums’ music is raw and unrefined, equal parts nervous energy and swaggering hooks. On Yes You May isolation and desire creep in, but by Moving Target the group has pulled out the tambourines for a low-country jig. Life’s tough. Still, every underdog has its day.
Bands like Sunshine Factory rarely lock eyes with their adoring fans, since they’re often staring down at the ground, transfixed by their art. Such is the effect of shoegaze”a style of music known for its hypnotic blend of guitar dissonance and indecipherable vocals. But Sunshine Factory bring the vocals more into the forefront so you can actually sing along. And you’ll want to. My Sugar Cane is noise pop with gossamer vocals, undulating soundscapes, guitars that send up drifts of fuzz and keyboards that sound like they’re short circuiting. On Domino, Sunshine Factory takes you through distortion and clarity, merging raw post punk with haunting, gothic instrumentals. Twisted in Clover harkens back to the early ˜90s when atonal guitars were king. Surges of jarring feedback and vocals that double as opiates”those are the kind of diametric opposites we can get down with.
Andrew Varner calls his music pop with a purpose, meaning it’s meant to provoke and inspire, not just show off his proficiency on piano. But there’s no hiding those skills”all of Varner’s songs contain expertly-wrought piano melodies blended with soft beats and bright strokes of electric guitar. Autumn Leaves introduces you to the singer-songwriter’s dusty voice, fluid fingers and tender-hearted lyricism. On the polyrhythmic How To Be Alone, he takes turns ratcheting up the guitar to a fever pitch and downshifting into an easy, mid-tempo amble. Lest you get the idea that Varner’s from the Bruce Hornsby school of rock, skip over to Let Me Down for dynamic, driving post-punk. Yeah, there are some nice cascading piano parts in there, but there’s plenty of jagged edges, too. Even pianists get to be badasses.
Like the French duo Justice, whose single DVNO seems to serve as the inspiration for their name, D.V.N.O. want you to dance. But unlike Justice, the Floridian band isn’t going to lure you to the floor with big disco-electro beats. They do it the old fashioned way, with guitars, drums, and energy that’s off the Richter. You & I Together is a manic jitterbug of gritty guitars, rock steady drums, and adenoidal vocals (think Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat). Stylistically, D.V.N.O. walks the line between gutsy dance rock and emotionally charged pop-punk, a combination of Taking Back Sunday, The Strokes, and The Black Kids. On the emo end of the scale you have tracks like the turbulent One Last Time. But with Dance With Me it’s back to what the band does best: frantic, percussive rock with a lot of heart. Lovelorn spazzes, manic dreamers”this one’s for you.