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Press Play: Connecticut's Underground Music Scene

 Press Play is a column by music writer Michael Hamad exploring the underground musicians of Connecticut. If you have new music to share, send it to  him at mhamad@courant.com.

  • Perennial: Art-Punk Ecstasy, In 20 Minutes Or Less

    Perennial: Art-Punk Ecstasy, In 20 Minutes Or Less

    Surf all 22 minutes of aggressive guitars, synths, bashed cymbals, throat-rattling hollers and highbrow lyrical references on “The Symmetry of Autumn Leaves” (Howling Frequency), a punchy, searing art-punk record by Conn.-Mass trio Perennial, in one straight shot. You’ll likely paddle right back...

  • Waterbury Indie Rock Band Mandala Dreams Of Breaking Free With 'Cash For Smiles'

    Waterbury Indie Rock Band Mandala Dreams Of Breaking Free With 'Cash For Smiles'

    ‘When my mind leaves my body,” Mandala singer Morgan Fasanelli sings, in an airy, drifting voice, during the lush, slow, dreamy introduction to “Motel Lobby,” a song that surfaces four tracks deep into “Cash For Smiles,” the Waterbury band’s second album. All told, across 10 tracks and 37 minutes...

  • Rising Jelani Sei Melds Body And Mind With Elements Of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz

    Rising Jelani Sei Melds Body And Mind With Elements Of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz

    On a sunny, cold afternoon, four members of Hartford-NYC band Jelani Sei — vocalist Kayana Guity, bassist Evan Lawrence, and guitarists Sam Smith and Scott White — gathered at the base of Talcott Mountain in Simsbury. For what they were about to do — ascend to the cliffs above, to shoot a music...

  • DJ ChumZilla Debuts New Album 'Get Off The Earth' On CTNOW

    DJ ChumZilla Debuts New Album 'Get Off The Earth' On CTNOW

    In the age of algorithms, DJs are the unsung heroes of musical discovery. I don't want to choose all of my own music anymore, and I won't leave it up to Spotify, so I turn it over to trusted experts, artists committed to digging through crates of records, reconfiguring sounds and sequencing them...

  • Hip-Hop Collective ClaS!ck Reveals Striking Differences On 'Contrast'

    Hip-Hop Collective ClaS!ck Reveals Striking Differences On 'Contrast'

    "Contrast," the third album by Hartford-area hip-hop collective ClaS!ck, released May 30, lives up to its title; the music is both world-weary and positive, expertly engineered and loosely delivered, outward-looking and deeply personal. The spare hook of the title track, sung by guest vocalist...

  • CT Rapper Apathy Talks Politics Of His New Collab With O.C.: 'Perestroika'

    CT Rapper Apathy Talks Politics Of His New Collab With O.C.: 'Perestroika'

    Conspiracy theories. Spanish Golden Age paintings. Crates of hip-hop cassettes, stacked high and thoroughly played. Freemasonry. Rambo movies. Such is the conceptual matrix of Apathy (also known as Chad Bromley), whose post-Demigodz career as a rapper and producer took off after the 2006 solo release...

  • As One Of Connecticut's Rare Screamo Bands, foxtails Presses Forward

    As One Of Connecticut's Rare Screamo Bands, foxtails Presses Forward

    A few weeks ago, foxtails, a downstate screamo band, journeyed to Hartford to perform at Sarah's Coffee House, an Asylum Street storefront that sometimes curtails evening coffee sales to host weekend DIY shows. The band was miscast that night. The evening, billed as Girls Night II, was meant to...

  • 'Super Talented' Foresters Debut Full Album 'House Stories' On CTNOW

    'Super Talented' Foresters Debut Full Album 'House Stories' On CTNOW

    Evan Nork, a teenager from Bethany, started writing songs when he was four. They stayed in his head until he could figure out what to do with them. "I wouldn't actually know how to translate them," he says. After learning a few chords on the guitar, "I had this huge bank of stuff to draw from."...

  • West Hartford Rapper L.E.X Makes 'Abstract Dreams' A Reality

    West Hartford Rapper L.E.X Makes 'Abstract Dreams' A Reality

    L.E.X — Antoine Alexander, 35, formerly known as A-Lex — populates much of "Abstract Dreams," his first full-length album released on April 5 — with visions of success, longed-for spiritual satisfaction and the desire to be heard. On "Intro," he raps about needing only enough income to survive:...

  • New Haven's No Line North Evolves With 'Dream Of Trees' Release

    New Haven's No Line North Evolves With 'Dream Of Trees' Release

    New Haven's No Line North — four educators, a communications specialist and a journeyman musician and writer — behaves as more of a collective of musical friends than a band. "In the span of a year, we never had the same lineup on stage, which was awesome," says bassist John Leonard. "It really...

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