The Next Big Thing

Justin Symbol & Co. have created the sound of a creepy, carnal journey through the mind of a lost soul.

Enough emphasis cannot be put on the importance of new artists. In today’s music world, anyone can record an album, release it, and record videos—the whole nine yards. It is much more difficult to shine through the competition and attract an audience who has any genre of any music they like already at their fingertips.CD sales have fallen dramatically, and many artists are now doing digital-only releases. While that may expand your potential audience, if you are not reaching the cornfields of Mid-America, you’re not really being heard. When hearing new music as a critic, I tend to hate “rehash”: music already done, now being performed from just a slightly different angle. Nothing really new, but just enough like the old to keep you interested.

On the other hand, when I come across a new artist or band that really excites me, I want to make sure everyone I know hears them, too. I drive my friends crazy with my tendency to fall hard for certain new acts, bringing forth sonic places I’ve either never been, or have been before, but now that world has expanded. I look so forward to discovering what I always call the Next Big Thing.

Since the 1980s, I have has an ability—a sixth sense, if you will—to know the Next Big Thing when I see it. I don’t know what happens, really; I just get a very strong, personal attachment to certain things I hear. Maybe it’s the musician in me. Either way, since the beginning of bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison, Queensrÿche, Marilyn Manson, and many others, I knew from the first time I heard and saw these acts that they would become huge stars…and they all did.

So I feel I have a pretty good ear (and eye) for those new artists inheriting the torch of certain genres. I’d like, if I may, to share two of them with you now.

Justin Symbol and the God Bombs

Originally known as simply Justin Symbol, this artist is a breath of fresh air on the industrial music scene. Mixing styles from pop, techno, and industrial metal, Symbol and his cohorts have created a sound that, while not necessarily dancefloor friendly, is a creepy, carnal journey through the mind of a lost soul. His first full-length LP VoidHead showcases his ability to stay melodic, while twisting sounds that capture the listener. Lyrically bleak and at times deviant, this album is on the forefront of the new underground scene of NYC. First single “Purgatory” is an acid-like experience, with haunting vocals and special guest Daisy Berkowitz (formerly of Marilyn Manson) on lead guitar. With the right push and the right tour, Symbol may just have what it takes to become a very important artist. (Justin Symbol and the God Bombs are on tour right now.)

Scarlet Sails

The new project from ex-Dresden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione and his wife, Moscow-born vocalist Olya Fornia, is a welcome change from one of the masters of Punk Cabaret.( Let’s be honest: Amanda Palmer is one talented girl, but, without the drumming of Viglione, she would have been considered a mere street performer.) Gritty yet refined, the style of this band is one to experience. However, if you are looking for the Dresden Dolls Part 2, keep moving. The material here is much more approachable, yet melodic and deep enough to really hold the listener’s interest. Future from the Past is an emotionally sonic blast, equipped with a song for every emotion. Vocalist Forina possesses pipes Palmer could only dream of. From the album opener “As I Am,” the band pulls you into its eclectic world—and it’s a great trip.

In a day and age where the market is flooded with new artists—and my office is flooded with CD from artists I’ve never heard of—these two acts have caught my eye as acts to watch in 2017. When I come across anyone else, I’ll certainly let you know. | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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