CITY: Traverse City SONGS THAT GOT US: "Frost," "Redlights" MYSPACE ADDRESS:myspace.com/s4lem RECORD LABEL: Iamsound
WHY THEM? Nurturing a dark and murky aesthetic that mixes smoke machines, strobe lights, ethereal female vocals, and tricksy crunk beats, Salem's music somehow conjures an image of a rave in the rain in a dense forest peopled by cloaked pale-skinned degenerates. Synth washes coat the grimy proceedings in a layer of redemptive hope, a gauzy wrap around the menacing vortex of each of their songs — which also have hip-hop mixtape feel in their underpinning beats. Of all the bands we've nominated here, Salem are the most intentionally enigmatic, with a shrouded back story that ambiguously alludes to drugs, prostitution, and homelessness (and of course there's the matter of them having an early EP titled Yes I Smoke Crack).
BONUS BIT! Most hip music types know them primarily for being the band that got booed off the stage twice during SXSW this year — perhaps because their Sisters of Mercy–ish stage show suffered in broad daylight, or perhaps because, in the testimony of many witnesses, they just weren't any good. But screw that: anything disparaged that much must be worth checking out, right?