WORDS: LUCA CESCON
After having headed out to the golden state last month (and subsequently almost being trapped out there, thanks Covid-19), we found that this State is more than just a place of Hollywood studios, beaches, and some of the best places to skateboard on a global level. Having had preceders such as Black Flag, through to modern day punk outfits such as Culture Abuse, California has once more before the epicentre of the punk community, and here’s 11 bands that prove just why.
NUDIE MAG (PASADENA)
FFO: Weezer, Anxious, Culture Abuse
Featuring members of Twitching Tongues, Gods Hate and Like It Or Not (to name just a few projects), Pasadena power-trio Nudie Mag have been laying down dreamy pop-rock in the vein of Weezer and The Rentals for the better part of two years.
After a well-received 2019 Demo EP, the band’s first full-length ‘Our Milk’ dropped in March on Triple-B Records. Delivering earworm hooks, shoegaze-oriented riffs once the choruses start and plenty of Buddy Holly-esque dreaminess, Nudie Mag’s current catalog is full of summer vibes that will transport you to the California landscape.
URBAN SPRAWL (SAN FRANCISCO)
FFO: The Flex, Big Cheese, The Fight
Five-piece raw and furious hardcore-punk act, Urban Sprawl unveiled their first demo in 2018. The band’s new 7” is due to be released in the coming months via Revelation Records.
Heading from San Francisco, Urban Sprawl are a relatively new band that can really draw your attention if you’re into hardcore with super-fast punk riffs and uncompromising attitude. The urgency of punk is wisely added to the pogo-inducing hyper direct and uncontrolled hardcore roots, with tracks like Devastation and Prison Nation drawing stylistic parallels to current-state UKHC.
GULCH (SANTA CRUZ)
FFO: CANDY, Mobile Terror Unit
With eleven tracks released so far, Gulch are already the next big name in the hardcore-punk scene. Hands down one of the best live acts in recent history, reminiscent of Black Flag-era HC.
Santa Cruz’s very own Gulch are no more a brand new band for hardcore and punk listeners. After a bunch of releases, this ferocious outfit deployed all its musical aggressiveness into live shows, which skyrocketed the band into the firmament of the biggest festivals in the United States. Fast, punk-oriented with obscure lyrics, Gulch are rapidly becoming the modern Black Flag, showing no mercy with every track of their discography. In-your-face attitude with heavy mosh guitars parts, Gulch won’t disappoint your need for raw music.
THESE STREETS (MODESTO)
FFO: Harm/Shelter, Gassed Up
Modesto’s heavy hitters These Streets are one of the best metallic hardcore outfit coming from the Californian underground scene. Started in 2013, this project brings together the heaviness of European-located bands (BDHW Records roster especially) with the heaviness of crazy metal-influenced guitars riffs and vocal choruses. Two years ago the band released a live record, Live From The Gutter, delivering their aggressive sound to their audience with the same strength of their records.
FFO: Restraining Order, Wild Side, Pummel
Fullerton straight-edge outfit Dare have been carving their own path since 2017. Their latest two-track drop ‘Welcome To The OC’ provides fast, old-school hardcore vibes.
Dare are one of those bands that are cementing the new wave of straight-edge hardcore in the U.S. The quartet have been showing how to express unity for some years now, becoming one of the best acts on the Reaper Records roster. Following the old-school roots of the genre, Dare are showing how to do ‘by the kids, for the kids’ hardcore without compromises. Along with bands such as Odd Man Out, Magnitude and Ecostrike, this Californian outfit is raising the flag of straight-edge culture higher than ever.
HANDS OF GOD (SAN JOSE)
FFO: Judiciary, Division of Mind, Vamachara
Since 2016, Hands Of God have been showing unrelenting force in the hardcore scene. After a bunch of releases, they teamed up with Flatspot Records in 2019.
San Jose’s Hands Of God really know how to produce heavy stuff. Undoubtedly one of our favorite hardcore bands at the moment, this act doesn’t need any introduction for hardcore fans into Vamachara, Three Knee Deep or Inclination. Super heavy riffs and a non-growl vocals style that literally helps this band to raise its personal sound’s bar. Their latest two-track promo marks a new and exciting beginning for this metallic-hardcore outfit.
JAWSTRUCK (SANTA CRUZ)
FFO: Initiate, No Right, Mortality Rate
Santa Cruz hardcore at its finest, Jawstruck are one of the most interesting bands to come out of the area in recent years.. Hardcore in the vein of Mortality Rate and No Right, with furious vocals style delivered by singer Chelsea Esperanza.
Heading from Santa Cruz, this young outfit is growing fast with its blend of new-school vibes and more metallic inspired breakdowns and riffs. Esperanza is one of the best vocalists in the game, providing a furious vocal assault that will leave you speechless.
WOLVES (LOS ANGELES)
FFO: The Chariot, Gallows, The Catharsis
Los Angeles chaotic hardcore band Wolves started their musical adventure back in 2011. After a couple of years, this Californian outfit decided to take a break, coming back to the stage just a year ago.
Fronted by Joe Calixto, L.A. chaotic hardcore quartet Wolves are finally back after a long hiatus. After having released a bunch of records, the band pulled the brakes until last summer; a new Instagram page appeared and the band decided to start playing shows again. A Californian act not to be missed if you’re into noisy and aggressive hardcore filled with punk attitude and The Chariot-oriented guitars riffs.
FFO: Bane, Go It Alone, Berthold City
Bay Area melodic-hardcore act Tuning has been following the roots of Bane and Go It Alone since its beginning back in 2018. Their new promo single, Bitter Wind, was released in February.
Following the path of legendary bands such as Bane and Go It Alone, Oakland’s outfit Tuning has been making its bones with a good amount of shows and full-length Hanging Thread (released on Unity Worldwide Records) which was positively received by critics. After the February release of Bitter Wind, the band is gearing up to unveil more new material. Tuning are definitely one of our favourites when it comes to melodic hardcore with passionate lyrics.
SCOWL (SANTA CRUZ)
FFO: Buggin, Firewalker, Result of Choice
Only a year in, Santa Cruz-based Scowl have rapidly garnered attention thanks to their old-school punk attitude. Two EPs released thus far and a huge amount of fury in each track.
Fronted by singer Kat Moss, this young Santa Cruz outfit will surely draw your attention thanks to its old-school attitude. Furious bass lines and raw vocals that echo the days of hardcore-punk back in the ‘80s. Despite the flowers on their EPs, Scowl are here to destroy every basement and stage with a clear Black Flag-oriented way of playing their songs. Their latest release ‘Reality After Reality…’ will make you stomp your feet to the ground as never before.
DEATH LENS (LOS ANGELES)
FFO: Fake Problems, Black Lips, Fake Tides
LA four-piece Death Lens have been creating their own brand of garage rock and lo-fi punk for about ten years. Dreamy vibes under a sky of ‘70s guitars tunes.
If you’re looking for a good band to be played during a basement party, we suggest Death Lens. This four piece lo-fi garage rock act will bring you the party with its dreamy yet somewhat ‘70s atmospheres. Absolutely one of our favourite bands in this genre, Death Lens have been consistently creating their own way of playing music for “barbecues, driving down a highway or during a raging pit”.
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