soul-punks the black tones smash fascists in new game

Growing up in the 90’s with semi-strict but formerly radical parents was weird when it came to video games. Mortal Kombat was off-limits for being too violent, but Wolfenstein was A-OK cause you get to “smash the fash.” [In hindsight, this was sound policy — I’m sorry about that tantrum, mom.] Seattle alt-rock sibling duo, The Black Tones, takes the cathartic power of fighting 8-bit white supremacists into the 21st century with They Want Us Dead, the video game they created as a tie-in for their new single. It’s a browser-based, old-school, side-scrolling fighter game with the option to play as either Eva Walker (guitar and vocals) or Cedric Walker (drums). Through a handful of pixelated levels, you duke it out with tiki-torch-wielding alt-righters, the Klan, and straight-up Brown-Shirts, all while a chip-tune version of the group’s new single, “The Key of Black (They Want Us Dead),” keeps you pumped. Ahead of the game’s release, AFROPUNK checked in with Eva about transforming their song into 8-bit action.

Where did you get the idea for the game?

We loved video games when we were kids. So when one day about a year ago my boyfriend Jake and I were talking about the band having its own game, the idea to fight hate groups was a no-brainer. We came up with the idea to use the Kung-Fu template, that old NES game, and Jake reached out on Facebook and our programmer Corey Kahler answered the call. He introduced us to David Brender who designed the characters and levels.

How does the game tie-in to the song “The Key of Black (They Want us Dead)”?

The game’s music is an 8-bit version of that song. And the song itself is about these people who want us dead simply because of us being who we are, Black. This can relate to people with other identities as well though — Queer, Muslim, Trans, whatever. It’s about these hate groups that are infiltrating the police department, politics and so on.

What was your favorite game growing up?

We really liked Super Nintendo games like Super Mario World, Starfox, Donkey Kong Country, Tetris Attacks and Smartball. As well as Playstation games like sports games (EA sports), and action games like Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear was like a movie, it was intense!

Any plans for a sequel?

If someone wants to give us money to do a sequel, we’ll keep making them. Otherwise this might be it. Jake is chiming in here and saying he’d love to see the game modified for cell phones but that would take an investment.

Do you have any more music coming out soon we should be on the lookout for?

Yeah! Next year we’ll have a full-length record coming out, which will include “The Key Of Black.” We worked on most of the music with the legendary producer, Jack Endino, also known as the Godfather of Grunge. We’re very excited to get it out into the world!

Check out They Want Us Dead and pick up The Black Tones’ latest single on the group’s Bandcamp page.

love blossoms ‘from the grave’ in militia vox’s latest

Just in time for Halloween, you say? Militia Vox is back with another haunting ballad, this time in the form of “From the Grave, From the Heart,” a brooding electro-industrial rock track.

The New York-based musician known for her darkly ambient grooves and industrial rock flair, Militia Vox brings heavy drama and theatricality to her engrossing musicality, and her latest is no exception. A ghostly visitation for Cupid, Militia Vox says the song came to her in a dream:

“I could hear the music and sounds so clearly. I saw my own death and my ghost came back
to tell a loved one not to be afraid, but that I couldn’t move on without them.”

“When I woke up, I had to put it down (record it) immediately. But there was an initial fear of writing like a swan song or Lacrimosa, because I have so much more to say and make. But I had to get this out of my head and share it.”

Photo by Kevin Vonesper

voodoo rocker militia vox conjures a haunting, yet healing remedy for grief in her latest single, “ [ air ]”

Industrial rocker Militia Vox has been cooking some new music this summer. The industrial rock goddess and AFROPUNK Brooklyn performer just released the video for her voodoo heavy jam, “[ AIR ]”. A darkly ambient industrial track about loss that will simply leave you breathless. “Recently, within the span of a month, I lost 5 people that truly effected my life. 3 of them were like family,” Militia Vox says. “Their loss has been mind-bending. While thankful to know them while they were alive and having spent formidable years with some of them… I’ve been hit with the slow, dull and rude reminder that there simply is never enough time. ”


Photo by Lou Roole

take the trip of a lifetime with psychedelic-blues duo mescalines’ ‘brazilian voodoo exportation’

The latest from Brazilian psych-blues duo Mescalines isn’t an album as much as it’s a long rambling walk through unfamiliar terrain. Their instrumental jams revel in open spaces, taking circuitous routes before evaporating.

The interplay between drummer Mario Onofre and guitarist Rubens is easy and open, rarely rising to tension but always full of interesting twists and turns. Highlights like “Samba de Essauouira” and “Homem Chuva” highlight a lowkey symbiosis, while the band is never better than when they focus on painting vivid sonic landscapes like the chilled out standout “Diaspora” and the twinkling stars of “Travesseiro de Nuvens.”

Brazillian Voodoo Exportation is an album you can get lost in. Like the best adventures, you come out the other side a little different than how you went in. It’s out now from Quadrado Mágico.

‘sorry to bother you’ soundtrack features janelle monáe, the coup, lakeith stanfield and many more…

‘Sorry To Bother You” opened on Friday the 13th to an electrifying response form audiences, and now writer and director Boots Riley’s band ‘The Coup’ just released the first single off the film soundtrack. The song is titled ‘OYAHYTT” and features ‘Sorry To Bother You’ star Lakeith Stanfield, who drops a verse in the second half.

‘The Coup’ will be releasing the soundtrack for Riley’s directorial debut, featuring the likes of Janelle Monáe, Killer Mike, E40 and more. ‘Sorry To Bother You’ also happens to be the name of the band’s 6th studio album.

Sorry To Bother You is out in theatres nationwide.

escape the chaotic political climate with psychedelic-soul rockers con brio’s slice of paradise, ‘explorer’

“Don’t the sour make the sweet taste sweeter?”

Psychedelic- Rock and Soul septet Con Brio pulls off a surprising trick on their latest release, Explorer. Hiding just beneath the breezy pop hooks is a deep reservoir of serious musicianship, and moments of urgency and smart social criticism. It’s the rare album with a pop sheen that hides a deeper message.

Starting with “Saddle Up,” the band showcases a skill at dense layering. The song builds from spaced out electro R&B into an anthemic coda anchored by a deft horn section. The first half of the album is heavy on the poppy come-ons, but the band always interjects the songs with surprising touches, the old school soul hook that bursts out of “Texas Summers,” the compellingly understated horn licks in “Body Language.” And then “Heart Shaped Box” announces the album’s powerful second half.

Let me digress for a second to say that this is probably my favorite Nirvana song, and I’ve heard “Heart Shaped Box” covered more times than I can possibly count. I’ve never heard a band take the song and make it their own in the same way. So I don’t say it lightly when I say this is probably the best cover of that song I could possibly imagine. Damn. “Royal Rage” marks the band’s first big statement song; a track about frustration, hopelessness, and rebellion in the age of American fascism, that has far more to say than a song with as strong a hook as it has should say.

“United State of Mind” is the star of the show. A bouncy rhythm and retro soul feel that looks to find hope in a time when hope is in short supply. Where most of the songs have hooks and production touches that look to the future, “United State of Mind” looks back to 60’s soul and early funk to make a point about the modern age that would have made the Immortal Saint Gaye proud. That the album closes with tracks called “High Spirits” and “Feels Good,” sets the band’s mission statement. “Royal Rage” aside, this is an album about trying to find the joy in life when the world is a slowly spinning dumpster fire. I didn’t realize how badly I needed this record when I spun it the first time, but Explorer maybe the most essential pop record of summer 2018.

Stream it above, and catch Con Brio on tour now. Dates and tickets are here:

this masked and mysterious trap/hip hop/rock group throw tradition out the window and challenging the status quo

Don’t let right wing pundits convince you that the voice of the artist isn’t crucial in times of political turmoil. Art is a renowned tool of resistance and Trap/Rock/Rap group Monsters On The Horizon are joining the age-old tradition of using music to challenge the status quo. This group is creating an alternative lane for ‘Art x Music x Connection’ by subverting traditions in music relating to production and marketing. Taking a page from the likes of Daft Punk and The Gorillaz, the group wear masks to conceal their identities in our current age of social media and over-exposure. The mystery surrounding the group adds to an existing allure built on a reputation of releasing albums on Halloween and Friday the 13th.

“We, as Monsters On The Horizon, are here to challenge the status quo and encourage a new perspective. We believe in music and art as a vehicle to awaken ideas and desires in others and promote introspection and observation of the world around us. Mr. Scary is a culmination of that belief, specifically in creating a dialogue with respect to the many issues plaguing society today”

Their newest single ‘Mr. Scary’ drops tomorrow on Friday the 13th, bringing with it a blend of Trip-Hop, Trap as well as Urban and Rock and Roll vocals, delivering a soundscape that exudes a sense of power and even resistance. Most bands have to build their name touring the NYC bars/club circuit but Monsters on the Horizon keeps to their ‘tradition’ of throwing tradition out the window by having a monthly ritual event that started with 13 friends and now hosts hundreds and features other underground musicians.

Monsters On The Horizon are AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands contenders and have shows on Tuesday July 17th at Coney Island Baby 169 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 w/ Beauty in The Machine. Saturday August 4th for the Get Carried Away Music Festival which will be on a Yacht departing from Brooklyn Army Terminal 140 58th St, Brooklyn, NY, and and a mini tour for the Salem Horror Movie Festival October 10th – the 14th in Salem Massachusetts.

Bring your masks.

reach a death-defying climax with psychedelic singer kayla starr’s ethereal ep

Kayla Starr’s music charts the previously unknown territory lying between psychedelic rock, pop, goth, dreampop, and R&B, so it’s fitting that her latest EP is called Exception to the Rule. It’s a dreamy, hypnotic affair, dripping with melancholy and seismic distorted bass.

The EP is at its best when Kayla Starr pairs her ethereal voice with raw and noisy sounds. Opening track “Say You Will” builds from a haunting guitar line into a threatening bass, before she launches into the reverberating stratospheric chorus. The song carries a menace that never quite erupts, sustaining an unearthly tension through the end. “Deepest Sea” brings Kayla Starr’s sound into nearly metallic territory, with howling noise enveloping her voice. The song reaches a death-defying climax while earth shattering waves of distortion swirl around her voice.

The depth of production, and the nuance in Starr’s voice make this the kind of EP that rewards (and maybe even demands) listening on repeat.

premiere: this rock-n-soul stunner’s music has a life of its own in the irresistible “wondering wanderer”

Olivier St. Louis is a D.C.-born, U.K.-bred Rock-n—Soul stunner that caught the ear of AFROPUNK veteran Laura Mvula, who he just got off tour with. Aptly named after his upcoming debut LP ‘Wondering Wanderer’, the album’s lead single is a blissfully self-assured rhythm and blues track with an inner life-force of its own. Deliberate, confident, soulful, and wonderfully understated, St. Louis takes listeners on a flight we’re all-too-willing to let him play pilot.

“In a world buzzing with the ever increasing noise of the web; silence to find “self” is becoming a space of imagination,” Olivier St. Louis tells AFROPUNK. “With fear of failure and the lie of instant success, individuality is more dependent on subscription rather than the sum of one’s influences. Now realizing the “authentic you” is less “whom am I?” and more “who am I like? “. The vale of virtuality thickens. Stepping out on a REAL limb is now just “too risky”. Within this binary Babel exists the ‘few’. Those with a sense of purpose, who despite imminent pitfalls, are willing to wander the desolation of the unknown in search of real meaning.”

Photo by Sven Marquardt

get the power to face the everyday bullsh*t with pop punk diva g matthews’ ‘superhero’

The superheroes on G Matthews’ new album might not spawn billion dollar franchises (or leave billions of dollars in damage in their heroic wake), but that doesn’t make them any less epic. Superhero is a celebration of the ordinary people who face all the bullshit the world has to throw at them and live to fight another day.

With massive anthems like “Keep On Going,” “Leap Of Faith,” and “Not Tonight,” it’s an album that flips the script of alt rock into messages of empowerment without losing an ounce of power. The best songs on the record tend to be the ones that look the darkness straight in the face without blinking. From the dissonant hardcore guitars of “Leap of Faith” to the miles deep groove of “Things You’ll Never Know,” there are nods to classic post-hardcore and emo buried beneath G Matthews’ massive pop melodies. The album’s highlight though is “Choices,” which adds some 8-bit flourishes to a propulsive punk rock song about overcoming anxiety, and I’m just very much here for it.

The Dark Knight memorably called Batman the hero Gotham deserves, not the one it needs. G Matthews’ Superhero is both. We all need some anthems to remind us that the daily fight is worth fighting, and we all sure as hell deserve it.