Experimental: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees

The 2014 Riverfront Times Music Showcase will be held this year on June 7 in the Grove! Think of it as St. Louis music's own official holiday and consider this the season. Throughout May we at RFT Music will be making our cases for all 140 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, so that you will be able to make a fully informed decision with regards to your vote. Read on and get yourself acquainted, and we'll see you at the showcase!

See also: Vote Now For the 2014 RFT Music Awards


Britches' snotty noise-rock brings to mind the no-wave movement of turn-of-the-'80s New York, when bands like the Contortions and Theoretical Girls combined punk rock with atonality and jarring textures. Where those bands reverse-engineered noises from conventional rock instruments, Britches capitalizes on the infinite sonic palette provided by modern-ish technology. Head-scratching tones ("Is that a wind sample or some kind of phaser?") create chaos over droning, mechanical-but-not-electric drum beats, and singer Martin Reutter has the panache of a cult leader -- that is, when he's not screaming his balls off. -Ryan Wasoba

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click to enlarge Experimental: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
Provided by Catholic Guilt

Catholic Guilt

Catholic Guilt masterfully manipulates sound and environment, often incorporating costumes and props with ritualistic properties that temporarily transform venues -- and basements -- into mystical temples for the criminally insane. Sean Burk, Joe Stein and Nick Zengerling share a relaxed psychic connection onstage, riding each other's weird entropic trips on an ever-rotating set of instruments. Catholic Guilt has rejected the tedious tyranny of song structure and setlists; no two performances are alike. This commitment to spontaneity demands some reciprocity from the group's fans -- audiences must abandon preconceived expectations of what a show should be, allowing the synapse-scrambling stylings of Catholic Guilt to invade their brains. -Jenn DeRose


The Conformists

A purveyor of rock both chopped and warped, the Conformists' sets tend to play out like a series of musical inside jokes, but not necessarily for fun -- the band shows what an alternate future might look like had the Jesus Lizard and Melvins rose to mainstream fame. But even in that context, the Conformists would still be a sideshow. Songs hit with considerable heft, feeling massive and heavy without the masculine pandering of modern metal. Drummer Pat Boland brings a surgeon's precision to the kit, matching the band's texture with sharp, specific beats while both guitar and bass occupy bold tones within wiry riffs. Repetition is present, but mostly meant as a tool to confuse, and before the listener catches on to the act the band has moved on. Recommended for the A.D.D.-addled child within us all. -Joseph Hess


Experimental: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
Mabel Suen

Skarekrau Radio

We can count the number of no-wave cults in St. Louis on one hand, with one finger. Skarekrau Radio resembles some sort of rock band perverted by cross-dimensional forces. The drums are force fed into a morphing body of guitars while vocals flow like free-form poetry. The resulting songs feel loose-fitting but rarely devolve to complete, atonal noise. There are hooks to be had here, and while some sing-song chorus might creep out from under the muck, Skarekrau Radio remains an acquired taste. And what of its cultlike shows rife with bare skin and debauchery? Drink the Kool-Aid. You might like it. -Joseph Hess

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Fervent riffing wraps guitars in an audible conversation where tone and texture take precedence over musical notes. That isn't to say Yowie isn't musical -- the structure tends to reflect classical forms over modern rock. While both sinewy guitars manage to fill out a full body of sound, the drums glue the chaos with busy beats. Yowie invokes blank stares from the casual showgoer -- is it free jazz or prog-rock? It's neither, you yuppie. The band represents something stalwart for St. Louis: In 2014, new music can still be completely original. -Joseph Hess


Previously: - Metal - Electronic (Eclectic) - Cover/Tribute Band - Emo/Post-Hardcore - DJ - Noise - Hard Rock - Folk - Hip-Hop (Solo) - Soul/Funk - Indie Rock - Psych - Americana - Country - Pop - New Band - Indie-Pop - Singer/Songwriter - R&B - Jazz - Hip-Hop (Group) - Garage Rock - Blues