"The best thing about being in an underground band, is that you're constantly playing with, or talking to, other underground bands," Noisepicker guitarist Harry Armstrong tells Louder. As one half of the UK 'doom blues' duo, Armstrong has been working his way around the country's basements and backrooms in support of their brand new album Peace Off, and has racked up a hefty list of lesser-known underground favourites in the process.
"You're always arranging gigs, or recommending cool shit to each other – it barely leaves enough time in the day to actually make any underground music," he continues. "Somehow, these few have managed to do it, so with apologies to some horrific omissions that I'm sure will haunt me to the grave, here's my tips for bands to get off your arse and go check out immediately."
The Wild Claims
"I played with these guys last year and was really blown away. There was a beautiful nervous energy about their take on the blues and I was really glued to it. I'll be paying close attention to where they go next as the potential is astounding."
"Formed from the ashes of Heck, and probably already on most peoples' radar. Another band we've been lucky enough to share a stage with and they really know how to turn a crowd into a foot-stomping head-swinging ball of sweat. And they're very lovely people too! Can't go wrong with that."
"If you like it angry – and let's face it, who doesn't? – then this is one for you. Bristol-based and able to display the kind of ferocity that only results in absolute peace and focus within. Very loud. Very pissed off. Very sweaty."
"If you prefer your heavy with haunting post-rock passages, then these guys could well be your kettle of fish. They've been off the radar for a while, but have recently reformed, adding vocals to their previously instrumental mix, and are playing at the Noisepicker album launch party. A very rare excursion for them and I'm hoping it leads to more live shows as they've always been well worth a look."
"Let's get proper heavy. There's a ton of doom bands searching for the heaviest sound of all time, and these guys are the cream of the crop. You have to see them live to feel the full force power of this band. I drove them to Roadburn festival last year where they played two sets and totally destroyed the place. And the guitar player is Roland Scriver, who created the killer artwork that we used on the Peace Off album sleeve. The man's a genuine legend."
Old Man Lizard
"Saw these guys supporting Italian lunatics Zolle in Brixton last month and their sound made me make a note in my phone to remind me about them. The following day, Noisepicker went out on tour and my phone decided that life wasn't worth living anymore. Can't say I blame it – it has been living near my arse for a few years now! Anyway, I finally resurrected it a few days later, but a week's worth of stored information was lost, including what I wanted to remember about these guys. It's probably clear at this point that I'd had a few beers that night, but I've put them high on my list of 'must see again' so I can relive whatever it was that moved me so deeply the last time!"
"It's time for some prog. These guys put out an album a couple of years back that has had more repeated playings on my stereo than I can remember. Sleep Furiously has some of the most stunning production on it of any album I own – and they did it all themselves. There's a new album on the way, and I can't wait to hear it. In the meantime, check out the video for Wheezyboy and revel in its glory."
The Fierce And The Dead
"Another band I've been lucky enough to share a stage with. We both opened for Chuck Mosley the last time he played in London, and they are a very cool instrumental band. Really good knowledge of how to shape a song and keep it interesting without vocals. There's a new album on the way very soon so the time is ripe for checking them out."
"Great dirty groove with a hint of prog to spice it up. A lazy comparison would be early Tool, but they make their sound their own by mixing a few different styles. Their debut EP is out now and they're gigging regularly. GO!"
"Let's finish this off with the UK's finest punk band. They host the party of every year with the insanity that is Wonk Fest. Great songs with a very British feel to the tales they tell. Every time I see them play I leave grinning like a maniac. Their integrity and DIY attitude is something that all bands could learn a thing or two from. Go see 'em and you'll never regret it. Dinosaurs ARE wankers!"
Noisepicker's new album, Peace Off, is available now via Exile On Mainstream Records. Check out the video to single No Man Lies Blameless below: