Pop and Rock 2012: It's Getting Loud

Pop and Rock 2012: It's Getting Loud
Separated by musical backgrounds and international borders, a phalanx of young bucks were united in 2012 by a common purpose: the hard and fast delivery of decibels by the tankload.

Leading the vanguard are Cloud Nothings. Plucked from the nowheresville of Cleveland, OH, the trio possess a whip-smart angst that belies songwriter Dylan Baldi's 20 years. For all its knee-jerk cynicism, Attack on Memory is a statement record, saying that despite the ubiquitous hyperbole of advertisers, politicians and reality shows, not all young people can make a difference all the time. "I thought! I would! Be more! Than this!" yells "Wasted Days," capturing in sharp flashes a generational sense of underachievement, uselessness, "no plans."

Toronto noiseniks Metz, too, yell of getting "wasted" in the existential sense. On their five-years-coming debut, the Toronto-via-Ottawa trio pummel a chasmic groove that perfectly complements their riotous live show. "We grew up in the DIY punk scene," says singer Alex Edkins, "so we write songs that have to be played that way. There will be no unplugged sessions — it'd be awful stuff."

It's not all (anti) social commentary: gusted on windswept guitars and the boozy joy of misspent youth, Japandroids (pictured above) exude visceral punch. Repping carefree élan and shout-along choruses, however, they're the polar opposite of Cloud Nothings' guns-blazing aggression. Their sophomore LP matched reliably forceful mid-career efforts from bands like Torche, Cancer Bats and Titus Andronicus. Second records from P.S. I Love You, Pulled Apart By Horses and Sleigh Bells, meanwhile, scorched promising names deeper into the hard-rock coals. For Brooklyn's the Men, it was more a case of toning down than turning up: "[Our debut] Leave Home was about sound and tones — [with Open Your Heart] we were trying to do something song-based," singer-guitarist Mark Perro told Exclaim!

Indeed, there's a broad rejection of noise for noise's sake, and hidden gems from Sswampzz, Royal Headache and Teen Suicide signal a hive of sub-underground activity. Cancer Bat Liam Cormier offers his take: "I'm definitely seeing a resurgence in that scene. I don't know if people want a break from dance music — or if they're saying, 'Dubstep is just as heavy as bands like Machinehead, so I'll go listen to those!'

"Maybe the sleepy folk music that's been popular lately made people turn to heavier guitars. Me? I think it's rad that heavier rock is getting more popular." Sage words indeed.