10 rock albums I recommend on eMusic
A companion to the rock list, here’s ten great but terribly obscure rock albums still on eMusic and not on any of my previous lists. Those who insist on English lyrics are in for a rough ride, I’m afraid, but these have my 100% seal of approval as stuff that makes me not miss Merge at all. I hope you’ll add yours before it’s too late.
1. “Imaginary Walls Collapse” - Adam Stafford (2013). His 2018 album veers more into chamber pop and freak folk, but here he’s putting his penchant for loops to work in sole service to rocking. Probably the hardest title on this list, or at least more straightforward than #9, but still not hard enough for many, I’m sure.
2. “Perfektan Dan Za Banana Ribe” - Via Talas (1980s?). As I put it on my website about its label, Sarajevo Disk, if you believe this is from 2019, I’ve got a used Yugo to sell you. From the sound of it, this must be a lost new wave classic. Clocking in at just half an hour, I’ve listened to it way more than most anything I’ve downloaded in the past month…very tight and catchy while just dated enough to kick in nostalgia for a Soviet satellite I never knew.
3. “Leti” - Fixme (2016). The Shins are an obvious point of reference for these guys, who mostly sing in Russian, though I can hardly tell when they switch back and forth from English so much. Harmless, soft indie rock will have you rowing in the clouds too.
4. “El Mar en la Calle” - Fasat Alfa (2014). Thanks to @idiotprogrammer for the tip, I’d already sampled and downloaded another album on their label, Armatoste Brazo Discográfico, whose albums are all 99 cents. It just goes to show that sampling for greatness is far from foolproof, as their quasi-punk sound didn’t appeal to me in 1-minute blips, but their album in full really leaps out of the speakers. Two others to try by them, and I’d gladly pay more than the pittance eMusic asks.
5. “S/t” - The WAiiT (2016). Fans of post-punk simply must try this. Alternating charmingly obtuse male and female vocals all in English with Chinese accents that really fit the angular guitar work, they’ve definitely got a fresh, new take on rock & roll. (I lied…this is in the ADDENDUM to my East Asian Studies list.)
6. “Endless” - FJIERI (2009). Italian prog rock album has grown on me with time at least as much as my surprise to find it on the brute force eMusic label quest after having forgotten about it for years in my iTunes library.
7. “Tiqsimuyu” - Chintatá (2017). Somewhere between a long EP and a very short album, this one also benefits from being a 99-center that, if I’d known it’d be this fresh and exciting, I’d gladly have paid much more for. Ritmos Latinos, a funky fiddle, and various other surprise instruments keep the hardness of the progressive rocking here from getting out of the tasteful range.
8. “Опыт очарования“ - Акульи Слёзы (2019). Shark Tears is the English translation of the name, Akul’i Slozy for those like myself not versed in Cyrillic. This is half an hour of almost ridiculously blissful dream pop by a quartet of ladies who I’m guessing don’t represent Russian pop music as a whole. Too much going on to be shoegaze, IMO, but their previous album has been called that with this one not far off (and some songs really are). Not the most original sound, but it sure works to lose oneself for a while. RIYL Beach House, obviously, though this is clearly more rock than electronic. https://www.emusic.com/album/209403644/-/-
9. “Milk” - PeroPero (2015). If you’ve found the list too tame and conventional so far, try the frenetic, condensed electronic microprog of this album for a total aural palette cleanse. Turntable scratches and samples have to run to keep pace with hard, driving guitars, and there’s really too much action in these songs to imagine what a typical vocalist might add if s/he could even sing a line edgewise in the unrelentingly delightful cacophony. Happy to say also that it’s not unrelenting and knows when to take a breath and torture a guest vocalist. This might be a top choice for someone who wanted to hear a newish, experimental rock album, and I would never have come across this or its tiny label Darling Berlin if not compiling all those massive lists, so hooray for side benefits. Only the borderline metal of the titular single goes too far for me.
10. “S/t” - Tiny Taste (2017). Waiting until the middle of the second track to introduce vocals reminiscent of Les Claypool at times was probably a good move to allow this classic psychedelic rock to percolate a while. It has that old vinyl sound of several decades ago, and with the cover as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually is an oldie. Get the good-old-boys together for brewskis listening. Rust-belt rockers, please accept my offering of apology for the bad metaphor in the label list.
I’d love to do more than ten, but funds are limited, after all, and I’m not about to vouch for albums I haven’t heard all the way through.
Even if you have no albums to add, I’m really curious how many of you already have or at least have heard of these ten. Much of the appeal of eMusic for me has always been finding stuff that very very few people have heard of, and that might be all that’s left. But it’s also possible that with a shrinking pool, nothing is actually completely unknown anymore, as all once-dark corners are now explored out of necessity. The ones that are in AMG have few or no ratings, so kudos to those who already knew.