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 we have Chantal [CW], Emily [EA], Kate B [KB], Kate H [KH] and Ray [RR] weighing in on a big list of killer songs and they have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Activity– Careful Let’s Sleepwalk. Backed by an eerie marching snare drum that creeps along under Travis Johnson’s hushed chant and ethereal backing vocals descending down from some dark cloud, “Careful Let’s Sleepwalk” is the sound of looking over your shoulder. Johnson says that lyrically the song is “dream fragments, nights that all left me with the feeling of something being really wrong.” Activity will be touring starting in July, including a release show for their upcoming album Spirit in the Room at Baby’s All Right on July 16th. [CW]
Bush Tetras– They Live In My Head. The second single and title track off of the seminal NYC no wave/punk band’s first full album in eleven years, “They Live In My Head” begins as a ballad, with acoustic guitar underneath Cynthia Sley’s pained vocals. The sound here presents a very different Bush Tetras than what I’m used to, but showcases Sley’s dramatic prowess as a singer and lyricist. The chorus kicks in with panicked energy, speeding up, becoming more frantic every time we circle back to it, with RB Korbet’s bass line spinning and snapping like a viper. Sley escalates to a place of utter unhingery, practically barking by the end, repeating the words: “They live in my head / when they enter my dreams / life is not all it seems.”
The band has stated that “They Live In My Head” is “about people living in your head rent-free and how life is not all it seems—not quite a ballad, with its wild fast choruses, kind of like falling off a cliff.” Sley and fellow founding member/guitarist Pat Place lost drummer and longtime collaborator Dee Pop during the pandemic, and this new single reverberates with some of that grief. Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley joined as their new drummer last year, and produced They Live In My Head, which comes out on July 28 on Wharf Cat. Since recording the album, Cait O’Riordan (formerly of The Pogues) has taken over the duties on the bass. You can next catch the band live on September 15 at Le Poisson Rouge. [KB]
cumgirl8– gothgirl1. If you hadn’t told me this song was brand new, I’d think I was listening to a song birthed in a subterranean NYC nightclub at some point in the mid-1980s. Groovy, sexy, infectious and darkly weird, it’s an amalgamation of all the things this band does so well. This is the second single from their upcoming EP, phantasea pharm, and follows the awesome hazy post punk romp, “cicciolina,” a tribute to iconic Italian porn star turned politician Ilona Staller aka Cicciolina (read our thoughts).
On the EP, they share on their Bandcamp:
phantasea pharm was born out of an obsession with Ella Fitzgerald’s “Old McDonald” ahead of a show in Charlottesville, Virginia. The band decided to pay homage. [guitarist Veronika] Vilim dressed up in a cow leotard with pig accessories, [drummer Chase] Lombardo in a g-string and apron that read “The Grillfather,” [guitarist Avishag] Rodrigues became a lawn mower, and [singer/basisst Lida] Fox took on the role of a sexy rooster. “We went on stage that night and told everyone we were a ‘Fantasy Farm.’” They knew then that would become the basis of their new EP.
phantasea pharm will be released on 8/18 via 4AD.
Desert Mambas– In The Middle. This solo project of Foxx Bodies guitarist Bailey Moses is poised to release the debut EP …But It’s a Dry Heat later this month, and if the first two singles are anything to go by, it promises to be a slice of gentle, confessional dreamy pop. “In The Middle” finds Moses coming to terms with their identity as a trans nonbinary person. The bass is almost cloudy, while the guitar shimmers on top, making the production mirror the trepidatious uncertainty of the songs topic. Moses says “I wrote this song thinking I needed to be extra secure in my understanding of this identity in order to field all of the inevitably ignorant questions that would come my way. But the truth is, my gender is an ever evolving and beautiful thing. And as scary as it can be, existing in the nebulous middle space has been one of the most liberating parts of my life.” …But It’s a Dry Heat will be out on Kill Rock Stars Nashville on June 29th. [CW]
Ditz– Riverstone. These UK Noise punks put out one of my favorite albums of 2022 (and one of my most listened to), The Great Regression, and they have returned here with a brand new offering which is part of Suicide Squeeze’s “Pinks and Purples” digital singles series. It at first finds the band wading a bit more towards experimental electro territory, before tearing into the loud noisy punk they are known for at the 1:45 mark. Channeling the frustration of being burnt out on tour, vocalist Cal Francis shares:
“We wrote this track on a day off on our July tour. Caleb had recently bought this sub phatty and had taken it with him so we were trying to find anyway to make it fit in a track. I think we were listening to lots of death grips and hardcore that week. The lyrics were related to whatever we were talking shit about that day. Dirt cheap baccy and annoying invasive TikToks. It’s hard to recall.”
JOHN– Service Stationed. I was introduced to the London based JOHN, the grungy punk duo of John Newton (lead vocals/drums) and Johnny Healey (guitar/backing vocals) a few years ago by FTA webmistress, Jenifun, and have been a very big fan ever since, the combination of Newton’s distinct, gruff vocals and Healey’s frenetic guitar style hitting all the right places. They recently just announced their very first US tour (hitting NYC in late October at Saint Vitus) along with the excellent single “Trauma Mosaic.” Now even more good news has come from the pair who have announced their next album, A Life Diagrammatic, along with another stand out new track, “Service Stationed,” which features guest vocals from Leona Farrugia of fellow UK band, Ġenn.
With these newer songs, the band has shown they are ready, willing and able to branch off into exciting new directions from their earlier work and to break out of the traditional rock band mold. Healey saying plainly “We’re not just a rock band. There’s more to it than that” with Newton adding “We wanted to further explore the space and ambience of our instrumentation, to offer an album that deliberately pushes and pulls in a multitude of directions throughout its duration.” A Life Diagrammatic is due out 9/22 via Brace Yourself and the band’s own label, Pets Care. You can find all dates of their debut North American tour here; you already know where to find me on 10/26. [KH]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard– Dragon. King Gizz just Do! Not! Stop! And we don’t want them to, not if they keep putting out bangers like this one. Frantic guitar stylings and harsh vocals find the band in metal territory, while they sing of the “PetroDragonic Apocalypse” with “flapping wings weaving through / crocodile obsolete / flattened raze / spraying flames / blood curdle screech.” The ten minute song moves through various sections, including verses, chanted breakdowns, and Latin. Jason Galea provides the music video [warning for flashing imagery], saying “I wanted to explore a harsh distorted visual palette using my live visual setup mixed with PS1 cutscene inspired animation and studio footage I filmed of the band.” I’m going to be headbanging to this one for a while. PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation is a double LP (like I said, they don’t stop) and will be out June 16th on their own label KGLW. [CW]
Locations– Better Days. The Brooklyn based duo have released an emotional plea aimed at bringing attention to fighting climate change and pushing for climate justice. Using the framework of an emo-ish, alt rock song, the band is using it as an extension for their planned actions to take on one of the greatest crises of our generation. Check out their website to find out more information and how to get involved. [KH]
Mad Honey– Fold. On this track, singer Tiffany Sutcliffe’s rich voice is woven into the tapestry of fuzzy, moody guitars. Sutcliffe says the song “is about feeling like you don’t have control of your own mind and trying to surround yourself with the right people to keep you grounded,” which is reinforced by the lyrics “pirouette in a strange formation / don’t wanna get caught in the fold / don’t think too clear so I keep you with me / it’s good but nobody knows.” The music video is made up of candid footage and features some very nice cat and dog moments. This Oklahoma City band’s debut album Satellite Aphrodite (you know how sometimes you just really like an album title? I like this one) will be out on Sunday Drive and Deathwish Inc. on September 22nd. [CW]
PJ Harvey– I Inside the Old I Dying. The legendary PJ Harvey has announced a European tour, and with it she’s released a brand new single. “I Inside the Old I Dying” is just as strange and eerie as its unsettling title. The three-minute track, which will be featured on Harvey’s upcoming album I Inside the Old Year Dying, is ominous yet tranquilizing, with lyrics that are simultaneously biblical and occult. Accordingly, the animated music video, directed by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, is equal parts heartwarming and horrific, from its gorgeous, crude paper-on-paper stop motion (though I swear that dog was real for a sec!) to the harrowing tale it tells. Harvey says the song is meant to capture an “ethereal and melancholic longing,” and that it does, with its soft arpeggios and Harvey’s yearning, beseeching vocals drenched in reverb. The new album is out July 7th on Partisan Records [EA]
Pons– Coral King. The Brooklyn based no wave noise punks are hands down one of my favorite live acts currently gigging in NYC. After moving here from Vermont in 2021, they quickly established themselves as a group to watch with an intense, enthralling live show and a work ethic to match. They have played in just about every venue in NYC since it seems like and have toured all over the Northeast and beyond, always honing and refining their charismatic stage show, keeping it tight and nimble. While they remain a favorite band to see live, their recorded output has not been as frequent as their shows have been, something I have hoped would change.
It looks like that change may be on the horizon now as they recently released a new single, “Coral King,” and announced they have signed with Oliver Ackerman’s, Dedstrange. The label is home of course to Ackerman’s A Place To Bury Strangers as well as bands like GIFT, The Pleasure Majenta and Plattenbau (so clearly, some really good company). The band says the song is an “off-the-wall mix of theatrical noise rock and surreal psychedelia” and that sounds like the perfect way to not only describe the song but also the band as a whole. (I’ve also described them in the past as “frantic noise punk band that sounds like Brainiac and Hella had a baby that was raised by no wave wolves on acid.”) While the band has not yet announced a full length (fingers crossed for that for real), the single does coincide with a 10 week tour which will see the band bringing their killer live performance all over the US. We’ll unfortunately have to wait until August to see them again here in NYC, but I’m for sure looking forward to it. [KH]
PUP– How To Live With Yourself b/w Smoke Screen & Kill Something. Toronto’s favorite sons dropped a trio of songs this week and fans of the band ought to be ecstatic. All three are out takes from the 2022 LP, The Unraveling Of PUP The Band. To these ears, the highlight of the three is easily “How To Live With Yourself.” Oddly enough, it was the first song singer/guitarist/principal songwriter, Stefan Babcock wrote for Unraveling and its a pure unadulterated PUP punk rocking blast. Written in the band’s classic mold, it ultimately didn’t fit with where the band was going with the rest of the album, which to an extent was a premeditated break from the traditional PUP mold.
“Smoke Screen” starts off with a very sludgey death metal(y) intro before Babcock moves in with his dirgelike lyrics “When it all feels like it’s moving too fast / Light the fuse and lean into the blast” a throwback, in my opinion, to “Scorpion Hill” and the classic line of “and if the world is gonna burn, everyone should get a turn to light it up.” The last if the three, “Kill Something” is a slow burner that builds and builds at a snail’s pace before it finally reaches its crescendo, only to be punched in the gut when Babcock rolls into the chorus of “I want to killed something I love,” with the band chanting quietly in the background, “over and over and over.” Once again PUP knows exactly what buttons to punch to the make their cavalcade of fans very very happy. [RR]
Ratboys – It’s Alive. Opening up with a reverb heavy guitar strum and a pounding drum beat before vocalist, Julia Steiner jumps in with her lilting yet gritty singing of the opening lyrics, “Outside my window /The birds dance alone / I sit back and take it in / Like some sort of medicine”.
“It’s Alive” is the first single from the band’s upcoming 4th full length LP, The Window, but the first they’ve recorded start to finish with the current lineup. (Bassist Sean Neumann and drummer Marcus Nuccio are both relatively new-ish additions to the band.) The album itself has been a labor of love, having been worked on since 2020 with Steiner sharing “We spent 2020 demoing the songs, and spent 2021 practicing them.” Lyrically, “It’s Alive” feels very much to be a personal reaction to the isolation and forced solitude of the lock down period from which it was written. A reaction devoid of any anger or bitterness, instead one can’t help but feeling a bit hopeful hearing Steiner sing of being frozen in her house but looking to the stars above and knowing that there is still life to go on. [RR]
Shamir– Oversized Sweater. Acoustic guitar brings us into this steady mid-tempo alt-pop winner, with Shamir’s uniquely gorgeous countertenor voice rising above. Featuring an awesome sliding bass line, the instrumental break at the end will have you bouncing around, as his voice glides up into even higher falsetto territory. “Oversized Sweater” is the first single off of Homo Anxietatem, the ninth album from the Philly-via-Las Vegas-based eclectic musician, to be released on August 18 as Shamir’s debut on the venerable Kill Rock Stars label.
Shamir explained the history of “Oversized Sweater” in a statement:
“The first quarter of 2020 before lockdown I felt a lot of anxiety. I was fresh out the psych ward and had quit smoking weed and cigarettes cold turkey. I spent the first couple months of 2020 knitting this huge baby blue sweater. It’s basically a wearable security blanket that I used to channel all my anxiety into. I wear it all the time.”
The song is beautifully explored in an intimate video where Shamir dances around in his underwear in what feels like his childhood bedroom, the walls covered with posters of various music idols: Selena, The Buzzcocks, Snoop Dogg, Amy Winehouse. Shamir appears so beautifully vulnerable here, in both the video and the music; I want to wrap him up in that Oversized Sweater and just hold on. But that vulnerability fuels this prolific powerhouse of an artist, and I’m excited to hear the entirety of Homo Anxietatem later this summer. [KB]
Sharon Van Etten– Quiet Eyes. Sharon Van Etten works her lush emotional magic once again with this new single that’s featured over the end credits of the A24 film, Past Lives, a story of childhood friends reuniting in South Korea, directed by Celine Song. The beautiful ballad washes over you with shimmering vocals swelling with flickering harmonies. The expansive instrumentation includes acoustic guitar strums that provide the rhythmic bones for a repeated ascending piano line that’s echoed by what sounds like cello as the song builds. Van Etten’s lyrics stand strong and reflective as always: “Is this really a mystery life? / Where we only learn from our own mistakes.” On Twitter, Van Etten shared her love for the new film, which inspired the song: “The idea of past lives, who I used to be, what I could have been, people I lost touch with, parts of myself I lost along the way… is a beautiful, intangible, relatable concept that Celine Song so gracefully explores in her story, Past Lives.” Van Etten co-wrote the track with Mini Mansions’ Zachary Dawes, and Grizzly Bear members Christopher Bear and Daniel Rossen provided the film’s score. [KB]
Sweeping Promises– You Shatter. An ethereal synth line slinks above many layers of guitar and electronic patterns, with Lira Mondal’s ever-present bass groove deep in the underbelly. This second single off the forthcoming Good Living Is Coming For You (due out on June 30 via Sub Pop and Feel It Records) will get you bouncing and dancing around the room, but there’s an edge of malice driving the party. Mondal and Caufield Schnug offer only this statement about the song: “‘You Shatter’ is our ode to being a hammer.” Mondal’s fantastic voice achieves a sharper edge here than I’ve heard from her before, and it works perfectly with the violent suggestion of the lyrics: “How you are to me / You shatter / A distant memory /You shatter.” I didn’t think I could love the brilliant duo from Lawrence, Kansas more, but both this track and the previous single, “Eraser,” are showing them exploring exciting new territory with synthesizers and how they’re recording. I cannot wait to get my hands on the full record on June 30! Also, they’re gonna be at Music Hall of Williamsburg on August 10, and it’s not sold out…yet. [KB]
Teenage Wrist– Still Love (featuring Softcult). A duo since 2020, Teenage Wrist are still making grungey shoegazey alt-rock. On “Still Love” they are joined by fellow alt-rockers Softcult, also a duo (twin siblings Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn, who bill themselves as “music for mall goths”) who share songwriting credits. The song switches direction near the end, moving from lyrics that seemingly deal with self doubt (“I talk big shit / I got nothing to back it up / I’m the shame and the sin of men / the mistakes of my future son / but I still love“) over to an environmental theme (“will our children kill for water, will they ever see the ocean / when the oil runs out we’ll go deeper down the well“). Still Love is out on Epitaph on August 4th. [CW]
TVOD– Poppies/Since You Been Away. Brooklyn disco post punks and fan faves TVOD have just released a new double single, which pair nicely with the three previously released stand alone singles “Goldfish,” “Mantis,” and “Alien” from earlier this year. In addition to their time in the studio, they’ve been gigging hard around BK and beyond, really ramping things up over the last year or so, touring frequently and are indeed about to hit the road again supporting Thick (a band they also used to share members with in their earliest iteration). These songs have been staples of their live set and are always super fun to dance to, and now you can do it in the comfort of your own living room in your undies with your cat if you want (my preferred way to dance really) or on your morning commute bashing your way through slow walkers on the subway. No word yet on a full length from this crew, but I am primed and ready for when they lock that down. [KH]
Wombo– Thread. A far more laid back track than the preceding single “Slab” (read our thoughts), “Thread” finds minimalist guitar twirling around an easygoing yet persistent bass and drum line while singer Sydney Chadwick weaves a vocal thread of her own, breathy but not becoming lost in the music: “Wanted to be so small you could fit me into the palm of a hand, but there’s only so many things that can happen. Who was singing about loneliness?” The Slab EP will be out June 9th on Fire Talk. [CW]