The Sounds of St. Louis: America's Most Slept On Music Scene
Above photo by Chris Bauer.
St. Louis has a mostly nationally ignored music scene. The Gateway to the West was once a crucial stopping point for tours of every size, and for good reason. Being vaguely equal distance to Kansas City, Chicago, and Nashville, if you were a band on the road a decade or more ago you were making a stop in St. Louis to play the famous confines of Mississippi Nights or The Creepy Crawl (both of which are now closed). Every genre fad surged with local talent yet almost none seemed to ever take it to a national level. I’m sure other than Story of the Year, very few California or New York natives could name a band they have heard of from STL. However, in the last few years there has been a shift in the scene. In conjunction with nationally publicized civil unrest, the downtown located venues rightfully earned the national reputation as a prime location to have your van/trailer stolen. This caused many venues to relocate to the outer neighborhoods of the city or to shut down all together. This shift to safer area has sparked a small resurgence in the scene. It appears as more national bands are starting to visit these new locations more local bands are starting to form. Venues such as The Firebird, The Ready Room, and The Demo and their promoters have been steadily building back the city’s reputation as a staple stop of any tour. As a direct result bands, Foxing and Choir Vandals, have been picked up by national labels offering prime example of just how unique the sounds of St. Louis are in this generation. Throughout this article I will be spotlighting a few bands and their recent or upcoming releases, showcasing just how foolish it is to be sleeping on St. Louis in 2016.
Family Medicine: Arch-town Veterans
The name may be relatively new but the members are no strangers to the scene. The majority of the four piece have been playing alongside each other for over a decade. I was given early access to Family Medicine’s upcoming release entitled, “The Truth Is I Have Lost Touch With All Those That Care About Me”. Drummer, David Gilley, had this to say: “This is meant to be a loud, fun album musically with deep cutting lyrics”. This band truly has one of the most unique sounds you will ever hear. The best way I feel I could categorize them would be a new generation of post-hardcore, but that still feels extremely lacking. Their range of sounds stretch from The Get Up Kids, Cruel Hand, I Am The Avalanche, Saves The Day, American Football, and mewithoutYou. The lyrics are next level with topics spanning from random sexual encounters, to dealing with the realization of who you really are and fighting with your own mind. The band recorded with Adam Cichocki, of the band Gatherers, at Timber Studios in Bayonne, New Jersey. A release date has not been set for the full length but you can tease yourself with a few tracks available here.
Family Medicine will be participating in one of the city's most popular events known as "AUCW" or, An Under Cover Weekend. AUCW is an annual concert series that features original local bands, not cover bands, performing secret tribute sets. Tribute sets this year include: The Black Keys, Modest Mouse, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and many more. Family Medicine will be performing as emo legends Brand New on 9/29/16. The concert series will take place September 29, 30, and October 1 at The Firebird.
Welcome Home: The Boys from the ‘Burbs
Photo by Chris Bauer.
“Just Happy To Be Here”, Welcome Home’s freshman full length, was released only three days prior to writing this and I can promise you, without exaggeration, I’ve already listened to it in entirety over 30 times. This album is pure pop-punk gold. The band formed roughly a year and a half ago and has since toured through fourteen states playing over forty shows this summer. I can't believe this band is local let alone not already a part of the No Sleep or Run For Cover line ups. While talking to vocalist, Nick Pirrone, my mind was completely blown having learned that the majority of this band played their first show as Welcome Home and that one member started learning his instrument simply to be a part of the band. This album is so polished and mature I would have guessed these members to be well seasoned in the scene. These ten tracks could easily hold their own when compared to similar sounding bands, A Day To Remember and Mayday Parade. If you enjoy pop punk this is your new favorite band, period. The blend of sounds of The Starting Line and The Story So Far give the impression that this album was created by some Bill Nye magical algorithm as opposed to five young guys from the St. Louis suburbs. “Just Happy To Be Here” is streaming here and the album release show is set for 9/9/16 at The Firebird with Choir Vandals, Make Room, and Avoid. Be sure to check out their video below for “Wait”, which was filmed by STL area native Alex White of Studio 6 Productions.
Monkh: Jack of All Trades, Master of All
Photo by Alex White of Studio 6 Productions.
Boundaries simply do not exist for Daniel “Monkh” Horrell. This folk/blues/psychedelic composer can and has graced virtually every stage of every venue in the city alongside artists of every genre. It’s not even uncommon to see him performing on his hip-hop label-mates recordings and live sets. His first solo EP, “Headlines” was released via Doorway Records in February of 2015 and features extremely powerful topics accurately depicting the middle class of St. Louis as well as the entire country. Monkh is a preacher of truth, justice, and peace and his music speaks volumes about life in this city. The musician is also very active in giving his time to fighting the heroin epidemic through countless volunteer hours with local non profit Hero Inside. We are patiently awaiting a full band release but for now “Headlines” is streaming here. Be sure to check out the video of an incredible solo loop pedal performance of his song “I Swear” here.
Bike Path: The Melting Pot
Photo by Cole Weiche.
St. Louis has been described in its own right as a melting pot and if there was one band to portray the city’s scene it would be Bike Path. I dare you to listen to the bands long awaited full length, “Blue + Blonde”, and try to categorize them for me. Each song has a completely different vibe. The album kicks off with “Desire Lines”, a beautiful emo jam combining similarities of American Football and Motion City Soundtrack. In “Majesty”, the second track, we are given a different member as the main vocal and now we have vibes of Pianos Become The Teeth and Foxing. This continues throughout the album. There isn’t a front man, a single style, or genre. In fact, you could have given me this album on some generic CD-R and I would probably think it was some incredible mix of multiple bands. Bike Path has earned the reputation as one of the most known bands in the scene through their constant show activity. On any night if the week you could stumble upon them in a venue, bar, basement, or even some barn show out of the city. In fact, you can catch them at “Barnfest 10”, a killer DIY music festival with a cult following. I attended Barnfest 1 and I'm extremely excited to make a return for sing alongs to "Violet, the First Time" while getting drenched in sweat and PBR. Be sure to check out this short documentary of the festival here. It's one of the greatest things about the resurgence of the St. Louis music scene. Bike Path's "Blue + Blonde" is incredible and is streaming here.