By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
In 2010 Karate Bikini released the EP A Demonstration. As the name implies, the four-song release was a glorified demo, but it was enough for the RFT to coronate the band as the city's Best Rock Band back in 2010. That wasn't hype then, and it certainly isn't now. With its debut full-length, Sauce of the Apple Horse, to be released in 2012 and plans for more frequent performances thereafter, Karate Bikini is a name that you soon won't be able to avoid.
Sauce is a release that stands to vault Karate Bikini into the same group of veteran acts that fills out its members' résumés. It builds on what the band has already done, which is to create manic, luscious rock and power pop in the tradition of acts such as the Kinks, Big Star and the Byrds. An early mix of the album cut "Medic" reveals an infectious tune that would be at home on an early dB's record — if you ignore the flute and twangy guitar solo, that is.
Karate Bikini turned in one of the best local performances of the year at the KDHX (88.1 FM)-sponsored Bob Dylan tribute in May. Its set was highlighted by a cover of "Like a Rolling Stone" that carried, note for note, the electric desperation of Dylan's epic original. It will be a treat to see the band playing more of its own tunes with the same fervor on stages all over St. Louis in 2012.—Chris BayLittle Big Bangs
In addition to the nihilistically clever moniker, WFC? brings tight musicianship, blistering riffage and an in-your-face attitude to the St. Louis punk scene. With all of its members having been active in local hardcore bands for years, WFC? does not carry itself like a new band at all, but rather a finely honed one. Playing fast hardcore punk that borrows influence from bands such as Poison Idea, Infest and Tear It Up, the four-piece cuts like a rusty scalpel on record, annihilating and infecting anything it touches. Its live shows are almost unsettling; Lead singer Gus Theodorow growls and barks like a rabid animal, spitting lyrical hatred in an off-kilter and sincerely angry fashion. Jimmy Eberle plays his guitar like he's trying to snap it in half, drummer CG keeps pace at a speed best described as "frantic," and bassist Kevo Gash provides the band's thick backbone. Early 2012 will see the release of WFC?'s debut EP, and a two-week East Coast tour is in the works just in time for spring. —Daniel Hill