Spin it round, flip it & reverse it

Old bands are so lame. They have lengthy discographies, few lineup changes and somewhat embarrassing Christmas special appearances. Old bands start out so well and then just fizzle out to wrinkly versions of their former selves (a la Rolling Stones perhaps?). This week at Spin It, Carlye and Brian will pick their favorite up-and-coming new bands. Get your Soulseeks and LimeWires warmed up; here are two new bands to check out.

Brian: O’Death

This Brooklyn band, still unsigned, has managed to capture the admiration of bloggers, hipsters and music enthusiasts in the past year. Playing banjo, accordion, electric violin, trombone, ukuleles and junk, the six members of O’Death create a folk-revival sound as wonderful as it is scary.

Howling and barking vocals with crashing percussion make each track sound like a tormented soul wandering the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. Head Home, O’Death’s debut album, hardly seems like it was recorded in a New York studio; in a cellar around a bathtub serves as

a more appropriate locale. The songs at times are frightening, but underlying the screeching fiddles and screaming accordions is a pop sensibility driving each unique track.

Having recently toured the country for the first time, great reviews have followed wherever they roamed. O’Death’s sets are one part haunted house, one part punk-rock mixed within the classic sounds of folk and bluegrass.

Neo-folk or folk-rock, or whatever it’s called now, has become a stale and predictable genre.

A girl plays the violin, a dude sings about forests and the bassist looks like he was in a hardcore band until last week. Oh … there’s a xylophone too, awesome. O’Death takes something old (like Civil War old) and makes something incredibly new. Folk isn’t a sensitive man’s game anymore; it’s for those of us who’ll knife someone for looking at his banjo funny. O’ Death will beat you to the ground and haunt your dreams … so buy their CD from insound.com or iTunes!

Carlye: The Pnuma Trio

Now, I may not know any underground indie up-and-comers, but when it comes to the jam band scene I predict that the next band about to hit it big is … The Pnuma Trio.

Comprised of Lane Shaw on drums, Alex Botwin on bass guitar and Ben Hazlegrove on keyboards, The Trio’s jazzy, upbeat jams are equally driven by guitar, drums and keys, balancing out long stretches of music that otherwise might go astray. Their sheer talent is apparent throughout their entire CD Live From Out There, undeniably proving that these three guys may just in fact be the future of popular jam music, with their solid drum beats, soothingly addictive melodies and heavy syncopation that sounds so off, yet so dead on.

Now, although I’ve been pegged as a hardcore “hippie-music kid,” I truthfully only regularly listen to Phish and Umphrey’s McGee, and tend to just dabble in two or three other jam bands. (I bet it’s because I like free-flowing skirts and Birkenstocks.) I’ve always been over-critical of bands in this genre for never-ending digressions that seem to go on forever, dragging out an original concept into an overextended jam that is exceptionally easy to lose sight of. Although I don’t typically favor jam bands that have solely wordless music, the structure and containment of Pnuma’s jams prove me completely wrong, providing their listener with tunes that suck you in by grabbing hold of your attention span, rather than dissipating your interest after only a minute or two.

The Pnuma Trio’s interesting fusion of rock, jazz, funk and other styles is easy to listen to, and even easier to love. Their sheer talent and tremendously catchy tunes remind me of my favorites, and hell, I just can’t wait for the day when I get to say “I told you so!”

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