Hi! Hello! Here we are with some bite sized goodies and a taste of a some new things that we dug that came out in the last week (ish), quick fire responses to some great new music we think you should check out. This week lots of the crew—Chantal, Kate B, Kate H, Mike and Ray—weighed in on some killer songs and have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Bad Optix– Raid. Legions of punk fans have been holding their breath since 1989 for an Operation Ivy reunion. And while Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman have continued to play together for decades in Rancid and found great success, the rest of the members had not collaborated again in over 30 years. That is now a thing of the past as original OPIV vocalist Jesse Michaels (who more recently has also played in Classics of Love) and guitarist Tim Armstrong have joined together for a new band, Bad Optix.
Their first song is straight up jangly Jamaican ska, no punk yelling or distorted guitars in sight. Michaels and Armstrong trade off on lead vocals from verse to verse, backing each other up when not on lead, each lending their trademark gritty growls to the song albeit in a more subtle form. This is sure to have many fans buzzing about what is coming next and has almost definitely has renewed hope that OPIV may one day ride a beat up skateboard into their hearts—and onto the stage—again. This is the first release of the Hellcat Singles Club on Armstrong’s label Hellcat. [KH]
The Beths– Watching The Credits. Full disclosure, as anyone who knows me or has been following me on FTA or my socials already is aware, I am a full on unabashed Beths fan boy. Last year’s Expert In A Dying Field was my favorite album of 2022 (read our review). Evidently, “Watching The Credits” was recorded during those sessions and was left off the album because it “didn’t fit.” Whether that means it didn’t fit physically or thematically remains to be seen, but upon listening to this tune on repeat for the last 24 hrs, I have to imagine that there are innumerable bands out there that would KILL to have a song like this and to think it couldn’t make The Beths cut is simply mind boggling.
A fast paced sugary sweet power pop nugget, “Credits” doesn’t visit any new territory for The Beths, but it doesn’t need to. It follows their tried and true formula of smile inducing, sunshine provoking, crunchy/jangly guitar, harmony driven power pop which this band has down to a science. Check out pics from their recent sold out show at Brooklyn Steel. [RR]
Death Valley Girls– Feel the Colors. Anyone familiar with Death Valley Girls knows that lead vocalist and songwriter Bonnie Bloomgarden is searching our world (and all possible worlds) for meaning and inspiration, and she’s exploring new possibilities for existence again in their just released single, “Feel the Colors,” which is a stand alone follow up to their recently released full length, Islands In The Sky (read our review). This extremely danceable song delivers the band’s fantastic psychedelic-a-go-go fun while ruminating on the special perspectives of cyborgs.
Bloomgarden interviewed “cyborg activist” Neil Harbisson for the podcast Podsongs (along with creator and musician, Jack Stafford), and “Feel the Colors” shimmies and shakes with all the details she got from Harbisson about how the antenna planted in his brain enables him to perceive color in sound waves. (And yes, he really got that implant so that the British government would recognize him as a cyborg.) So if you’re seeing rainbows in the rocking fluctuations of “Feel the Colors,” don’t be alarmed, just ride the synesthesia wave, and consider yourself ahead of your time. [KB]
Hotline TNT– If We Keep Hangin Out. The now NYC-based indie band led by singer-songwriter Will Anderson has shared a new single from their just released tape, Spring Disco. “If We Keep Hanging Out” plunges into melancholy longing, with distorted vocals coming through a haze of exhausted emotion. “If we keep hangin out / I think your love will come around,” Anderson sings repeatedly throughout this lo-fi ballad, and you feel for the guy. Hopefully the unrequited nature of this love will turn around for him if he just keeps on. [KB]
LOCKSTEP– Weave. This Nashville trio debuted with a single in 2021, and are back with a new track that melds spacey post-rock with a doomy, heavy center. The drums really solidified this one for me, pulling the song from a dragging, meditative tempo to a pulse. Their debut EP Arrival will be out May 19th. [CW]
Panchiko– Until I Know. If Panchiko hadn’t lived up to the hype (little known CD from 2000 discovered in a used bin in 2016, goes viral, band reunites after 20 years) it wouldn’t be surprising: after all, how many musicians who never “made it” still have the chops after stepping away for so long? But a demo from all those years ago has finally been realized in its fullest studio form, and it does in fact justify the reappearance of the band. Buoyed by a really catchy main guitar riff and an almost breathy vocal delivery, “Until I Know” is what the band calls “top down cruising misery pop” and it helps keep the anticipation high for Failed At Math(s), which will be out May 5th. [CW]
Paul B. Cutler– For the Children. Producer and guitarist Paul B. Cutler (best known for his work with The Dream Syndicate and 45 Grave) delivers a blistering new song, “For the Children,” the first single off his upcoming LP, Les Fleurs. Cutler’s guitar work shreds through the track at breakneck speed, while underneath the vocals are whispering an intense social critique: “All around the world/ Little boys and girls / Sick of all the liars in this world.” In the claymation-esque video for the song, all of the adults appear two-faced, with glowing eyes and demon claws, as the distorted voices of a distant children’s choir back up Cutler’s mutterings and shrieking guitar. A perfect song to have in your ears on the days when the state of the world makes you want to give up, but somehow, you don’t.
Despite his long resume and years making music, this is Cutler’s first solo album and has been in the works since 2014. He shares:
“the philosophy I had while producing it, it’s punk. I come from the original punk, before it was a genre. Before it was a ‘sound.’ When I got to LA in 1977 there were about 20, maybe 30 bands and they all sounded very different. The Screamers, the Deadbeats, so many different takes on what music could be. There was no chance for commercial success so we all just did what we wanted. I never stopped. So philosophically I consider this punk rock, made in its original spirit although nobody would recognize it as such. I am a punk to this day.”
Les Fleurs releases in April via In the Red Records. [KB]
Salamander– Ride. The latest from Brooklyn’s very own amphibian band, this one sees them less in the glitchy territory of their EP tooth/waste, which was released earlier this year, and really leaning firmly into the dream pop side of their sound and more of a full rock band feel. You can catch the band gigging around BK and NYC and keep up with all of their happenings on their Instagram. [KH]
Shannon Minor Group– In Your Eyes. Last year I had the honor and the pleasure of being involved in a songwriting workshop involving a small group of fellow Brooklyn songwriters each writing, recording, and submitting a new original song each week to the group. This was my first introduction to the talents of Shannon Minor outside of her projects of which I was already familiar and in which she usually plays the less fronting role as drummer (Batsbatsbatsghostghostghost, The Senior Year, etc). “In Your Eyes” is the debut release from Minor’s new solo project, and it exudes a wonderfully stripped down beauty.
And one thing is clear, the hard hitting drummer and Booked By Grandma co-founder has traded in her sticks for an acoustic guitar and smooth sweet harmonies. There’s an honest and nurturing spirit to its tone that has almost a Joan Baez quality. You can hear each slip and squeak and slide of the guitars’ strings and resonant interplay reminiscent of the late Jim Croce, and its angelic melancholy washes over your whole body like a dream and a hug. I hope there’s more on the horizon from the Shannon Minor Group because if “In Your Eyes” is any indicator, we are in store for some truly special music to come. [MB]
Scowl– Psychic Dance Routine. The title track from Scowl’s soon to be released new EP, it shows the band continuing to expand their sonic palette away from the straight up hardcore they first gained attention for, fusing indie and alt grunge for an exciting new direction that channels bands the sound and rage of bands like Hole and Babes In Toyland. The accompanying video was directed by the band’s guitarist Malachi Greene and sees vocalist Kat Moss in a ballet studio dancing in a sequined outfit, performing her own dance routine, but things might be more than they first appear. Moss shares:
My perspective of being consumed as the version of myself that is “performing” has shifted dramatically, while simultaneously grappling the experience of being a feminine artist in a world that doesn’t always take you seriously.
I made an effort to change perspectives back and forth lyrically because I felt that would have the most impact with the message I was trying convey. ‘She’ll never be your animal, she’s got her own personal hell.’ In its simplest form I’m explaining that nobody can corner me into their perception of who I am and that I’ve got my own shit to deal with. By using ‘She’ I’m making it clear that I’m also speaking about a feminine experience. ‘Can’t handle your control, think of the love I’d give.’ is me begging the listener to relinquish the grip they have on me and questioning if they’ll allow me to be the earnest and vulnerable person I truly am.
Psychic Dance Routine will release in full on 4/7 via Flatspot Records. [KH]
Sorority Grrrls– Dead Babies On The Floor. This is the debut single from the new Newcastle, England based feminist punk band and it packs a grungy punch, wearing its influences on its sleeve. (I’m a big fan of the Pretty On The Inside font used on the cover art.) And while SG do make their influences known—bands like L7, early Hole, Bikini Kill and The Distillers—those earlier artists serve more as a guiding light to lead the way; this is a song that strikes a good balance to stand on its own without getting overly bogged down in what came before them either.
They also definitely benefit from the much better recording techniques available to DIY bands of today vs. the lower quality recordings of similar style bands in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s really nice to see the full circle coming around in the new wave of riot grrrl and feminist bands making music today, who are also much more inclusive in their approach than was often the case 30 years ago, an unfortunate part of the legacy of the original wave of riot grrrl. There will be a b-side to this single released later in April and it’s an exciting first taste of what this band has to offer. Looks like I’ll need to be planning a trip North next time I hit the UK. [KH]
Squid Pisser– My Tadpole Legion (feat. Yako of Melt Banana). You better hold on for dear fucking life the minute you hit play on this chaotic no wave-hardcore-noisy thrasher because it is going to give you whiplash. The band who self describes as “eviscerat[ing] the ego and and all things serene with their own vibrant form of vicious and mucky hardcore” who “[slam] down dolphin corpses at breakneck speeds” has certainly nailed it right on the head as to what their sound is like. And to make it even more of a wild ride, Yako of fellow masters of rapid fire experimental noise, Melt Banana, contributes vocals.
This is the title track from their upcoming LP and the video features alien like fish asking for money, weird baby dolls and masks that reminded me of the infamous nuclear mutant toilet dwelling nightmare creatures from the 1994 episode of The X Files, “The Host,” which, going on 30 years later, still kind of low-key scares me! My Tadpole Legion features a host of guest artists and was mixed by Kurt Ballou at Godcity Studios and releases in full on 4/14. [KH]
TEKE::TEKE– Gotoku Lemon. Pairing a groovy beat with their trademark interweaving guitar and flute melodies, the newest single from TEKE::TEKE’s upcoming Hagata LP is fun and funky. Singer Maya Kuroki extols listeners to try their ‘magic lemons’ (English translation: “Everyone come closer! / Divine effect, immediate remedy for all diseases! / Try these lemons, try them! / Try these magic lemons that wake you up with just one drop!”) over the backdrop of an animated collage video created by Kuroki and guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier. Hagata will be out June 9th on Kill Rock Stars. [CW]
TROLLER– Out Back. A superbly creepy track, where a ticking electronic drumbeat and hypnotic guitar strumming are overlaid with the contrasting, languid croon of bassist and singer Amber Star-Goers, who draws the lyrics out as if she is casting a spell. It all adds up to a dark, textured, haunting sound. Their new album, Drain, is out May 26 on Relapse. [CW]
War Honey– I Don’t Blame the Rats. I first became aware of War Honey when they released their debut EP Shard to Shatter on vinyl via Handstand Records at the end of 2020. More than two years later, the newest single by the quartet showcases the everlong and ongoing dance between Gaby Dana’s vocal prowess and the dense atmospheres surrounding Ben Fitts’s guitar work. The former band-campers, turned roommates, turned bandmates clearly know how to complete each other’s musical phrases in a way that only a prolonged shared creative space can foster.
Dana’s simmering operatic power and Fitts’ delicate ethereal melancholy are all the more enhanced beautifully by the dynamic rhythms rounded out by David Bloom (bass) and Ian Ackerman (drums). “I Don’t Blame the Rats” oscillates between creating air and suffocating the spaces through which it breathes. War Honey is a band that creates a lot of room in which they can play, and it’ll be curious to see where they take us next. [MB]
waveform*– Firework. waveform* play around with nostalgic emo, shoegaze and bedroom-pop sounds on this song, which all get turned on their head when the crescendo hits, recedes, and then returns again with a harder, grungy guitar sound. There’s a pretty nifty solo, too. This is the second single so far released from the upcoming Antarctica, which is out May 12th on Run For Cover. Read our thoughts on the first single, “Lonely.” [CW]