BANDZONE is an invaluable networking website for the Czech Republic’s flourishing music scene – and a great way for punters to discover exciting new groups. CzechHarmonies guides you through the labyrinth – and introduces you to six of the best Czech bands via their Bandzone pages…
Remember the original MySpace from the mid-2000s? When it was the go-to social networking website for new bands looking to grab an industrial-size fanbase? Before MySpace changed hands and the new owners messed with the format? Well BANDZONE looks to be, on many levels, the Czech equivalent of MySpace 1.0.
The strapline ‘Žijeme hudbou’ translates as ‘We live on music’ – and it’s fair to say that since its inception in 2004 many of today’s high profile bands would have struggled without the attention Bandzone has afforded them.
A websurfing music fan’s paradise, Bandzone acts as a shop window for up-and-coming Czech (and Slovakian) bands as well as long-established acts seeking to connect with a new generation. Just like the original MySpace, Bandzone is very conducive to a fruitful websurfing experience, where you can easily hop from bandpage to bandpage till you discover that fantastic new act you’ve been waiting for all your life, then play through their songs on a simple, user-friendly music player while perusing their blog and tour dates.
There are a few differences from the old MySpace – not least, the apparent absence of options for customising your band’s page into a retina-damaging kaleidoscope of garish designs, since all Bandzone pages seem to have the same uniform black background.
Meanwhile, where the old MySpace pages had that rectangular ‘Friendspace’ enclosure down the right-hand side, Bandzone has three rectangles down the left side: one for ‘Fans’, one for ‘Connected Bands’, and one for ‘Similar Bands’ (even if not connected).
Of course, as the Czech Republic’s population is a mere 10 million, and Slovakia’s population around 5 million, groups on Bandzone are unlikely to have seven-, six- or even five-figure fanbases (as many UK or US based bands used to boast on MySpace). Most have fans in the hundreds or maybe thousands, and it is surprising how much decent music is also produced by acts that have only a few dozen Bandzone fans.
What’s really great about Bandzone for non-Czech speakers is that you don’t have to understand the language to find your way around, as everything is so intuitive.
So what are you waiting for? Here are just six of the Czech Republic’s many outstanding bands, picked at random from Bandzone to get you started…
Based in Prague, Luno are masterful purveyors of measured psychedelic pop with a real emotional pull. Singer Ema Brabcová’s poignant vocals are reminiscent of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler at her very finest.
Check out: ‘Ankle Deep In A Swamp Of Lies’
Three-piece acoustic-psychedelic band with post-rocky guitars supplemented by cello. The music laps about your ears like a Radox bath you have just lowered yourself into…and leaves you feeling just as revitalised.
Check out: ‘Cathedral Cosmos’
Shoegaze Lo-Fi duo from Frýdek-Mistek. The jangling, phased guitar chords sound wonderfully nostalgic for the early 90s, but Divided’s songwriting is as fresh as today’s breeze.
Check out: ‘Star Rover II’
Stoner rock from southern Bohemia, with a nod to Queens Of The Stone Age and the Raconteurs, and a neat line in looped tensile guitar riffs and mind-bending chord changes. The Pooh, it seems, are named after Winnie-the-Pooh, not that brown stuff your dog left on the pavement. And they’ve certainly found the honey, musically speaking…
Check out: ‘Her NIce’
SUPER TUZEX BROS.
Gloriously dissonant purveyors of twisted broken chords and minor key angst. Their songs will temporarily destabilise your brain – in the best possible way, of course.
Check out: ‘Her Red Eyes’
FIVE SECONDS TO LEAVE
More southern Bohemian mayhem – this time featuring extended cavernous slabs of nebulous guitar – the sound of Mogwai crashing into Secret Machines and then exploding all over dystopian suburbia in a haywire alchemical reaction. You can imagine this stuff soundtracking some grim arthouse movie about surviving the apocalypse.
Check out: ‘Grace Is Gone’
Not all of the above bands are currently active or promoting an album – they were simply randomly picked from amongst the plethora of outstanding acts that the Czech Republic has produced in recent years. If you surf even a tiny fraction of Bandzone’s 37,000+ registered band pages you are bound to discover more treasures.