For a long time, the only thing I wanted to write about was music. Then, sometime last year, I realised that I no longer wanted to do that. For reasons that are too many to get into here, I fell out of love and forcing myself to sit down and put words on a page wasn’t helping. So, I stopped and Ramblings About became Ramblings About Wrestling. However, in the last few months, that passion has started to come back again. I’m not going to stop writing about wrestling, but suddenly I feel the need to put words to the page about bands that rock. So, that’s what I’m going to do! Every now and then I am going to pick out three albums that I think are awesome and ramble out my thoughts. Hopefully, you’ll find something to listen to. If not, well, sorry I guess?
A group of teenagers playing metal with a Māori influence. That’s quite the elevator pitch and, honestly, it could go either way. Thankfully, at an age so young that it makes me want to punch them in the throat, Alien Weaponry have released a damn fine album. If you miss Roots-era Sepultura then you need to get your hands on this because much like those Latin rhythm sections made that band sparkle, the Māori influences here make this album feel unique.
And in some ways, that’s a trick of the light. Because as good as it is, this is not unique. They are a band who are wearing their influences on their sleeve. From the already mentioned Sepultura to Slipknot there are moments where you will hear your favourite artists bursting through these young men. Which is okay for that very reason. They are young men. Go back and listen to Pantera’s Kiss stage to see that early career hero-worship isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The important thing is that Alien Weaponry do have something different. They have a sense of identity that runs not just through the music but the lyrics too. There’s a political roar here that is wise beyond their years. If they can lean into that rather than into the worship of what has come before then, they have the potential to be something extraordinary. When they’re releasing albums this good while members of their band are 15 (they could only play Bloodstock this year because it happened during the school holidays), it’s surely a matter of time before Alien Weaponry are surpassing their older peers.
There aren’t many father-daughter acts in alternative music. Outside of Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne deciding to ‘bless’ us with their cover of ‘Changes’, it’s a route not many have mined. Sorry, it’s probably a crime to remind people of that. I’ll cheer you up by pointing you in the direction of The Exbats, a father-daughter garage rock duo who have a big old streak of punk in there too.
On their second album, the duo has nailed a sound that is hard to put down on paper. It has an almost nostalgic feel in its warm fuzzy production, but underneath that, it’s bristling with fiery energy. Lead singer (and the daughter in this equation) Kenny McLain has a naivety to her voice which contrasts directly with the sharp lyrics where – among other things – she talks about wanting to fuck Mr Bucky (whoever that might be).
A situation that you might imagine would have been a bit awkward for her old man, Inez McLain, who provides the drums. You’ve got to assume he’s okay with it, though, because he’s the one holding this all together. It deliberately feels very DIY and like these songs have been written and recorded in someone’s bedroom. That makes the role of the drums all the more important. Whether it’s during the quiet sweetness of ‘Iolaus’ or the bite of ‘I’m A Witch’, it’s their steady rhythms that keep these tracks moving forward and prevents them from meandering off into obscurity.
The Exbats are one of those bands that I stumbled upon without any knowledge of them and fell head over heels in love with. That always makes an artist special. You feel like they’re yours and that you are tied to their success. However, even removing that feeling from the equation, this is the kind of album that should wriggle its way into everyone that hears its life. What starts with a casual flirtation quickly becomes a full-blown affair, and you’ll be all the better for it.
Talking of bands I fell in love with out of nowhere, illuminati hotties came into my life for the simple reason that I reckon it’s the best band name I’ve heard in a long time. How can you not want to check them out?
Thankfully, this was a relationship that proved to be more than skin deep. The second Kill Yr Frenemies transitioned from the quiet fragility of the opening title track into ‘(You’re Better) Than Ever’ I was hooked. They are one of these beautiful bands that write perfect little slabs of introspective melancholy and wrap it up in songs that you want to sing and dance to. If you turned off your brain, it would be the perfect summer album, yet it’s equally as suited to wandering around in the rain feeling sorry for yourself.
Which shouldn’t turn off those of you who started reading this because of Alien Weaponry and are wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do with this recommendation (although I shall accept that this we’ve gone on quite the journey through these three albums). illuminati hotties identify themselves as tenderpunk pioneers, and underneath the tender, there is a sharp punk edge ready to catch you off-guard. The sneer as Sarah Tudzin declares ‘you wrote a song on my guitar and it sound likes shit’, on ‘Pressed to Death’ might not be enough to convert the most ardent lover of the heavy, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there.
illuminati hotties are another band that feel special. The second I listened to this album I wanted more, and it’s been on constant rotation ever since. There’s a track here for every mood and a lyric that connects with every situation. It’s great, go listen to it.