What is "Rad instro"? Well, I made it up, mostly because "Rad" rhymes with "Trad". There are other words you could use: "aggro" or in the college radio world there's "loud". This is the instro music that's all about power, speed and adrenaline.
Los Tiros - Expertos En Cagarla
For some reason this one didn’t click with me the first time around, but I gave it another chance when preparing for the Gremmys. I don’t know what I thought was missing on the first listen, considering they haven’t strayed too far from their first LP (which I loved). The formula is simple: instrumental gunfighter ballads at twice the volume and 3 times the speed. I mean, what’s not to love about that? It’s a relentless stampede from start to finish, and this time it’s a little bigger sonding and a little weirder, which some electronic effects on “Big Chief” for instance. It feels like UFOs landed in the midst of an indian ambush -- I’m all for that. The bottom line is Los Tiros are about as wild as it gets if you want a Western sound.
Bande de los Apaches - Bande de los Apaches
Bande de los Apaches play like you owe them something, I’m practically giving this honorable mention as an act of submission. Some super tight and trashy guitar with a menacing bass hum is punctuated by a warmongering brass section. That brass section never falls into some sort of mariachi or ska band territory - it feels desperate, like there’s something on the line. The lo-fi sound helps, though sometimes it goes a bit overboard (Slam Fire Shotgun for instance). Hoping to hear more from these guys soon.
The Intoxicators - Easter Eggs for Halloween
Loved the first LP from the Intoxicators, but this one absolutely tops it. It exudes confidence over some nimble guitarwork song after song, and though it’s built on a pretty no-frills surf sound they manage to keep it fresh with each track. It opens with “Frozen Cosssacks” which howls in your face from the first second, and though they dial the tempo back here and there, there’s always a burst of energy right around the corner. They’ve got that feeling of a band that’s perfectly in step with each other, and that’s always hard to say no to.
And the Gremmy goes to...
I’m not even going to choose one. This year one man in Ukraine was pumping out well-produced new material every 2 months, all of them worth listening to on repeat. They’re not all pedal-to-the-metal, but they’re rarely very slow, and when he gets up to speed it’s truly nuts. The most unhinged are in the wonderful reimagining of the soundtrack to the NES game Contra, and the aptly named Power Speed Turbo Racer EP. A lot of people can play fast, but the desperate wail of “Racer”, the menacing hum of “Valley of the Kings”, or the bright bounce of “The Last Wave” show that Amphibian Man’s got as many ideas as he does time on his hands.
At some point he’s going to have to slow down his release schedule (hopefully not the music itself), but in the meantime 2016 belonged to Amphibian Man.