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], Mike [MB] and Ray [RR] weighing in on some killer songs and they have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Anohni and the Johnsons– Why Am I Alive Now? A gorgeous and emotional third single off of My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross, released on July 7 via Rough Trade/Secretly Canadian. The new record is Anohni’s first full album in seven years and her first album in over a decade with The Johnsons. “Why Am I Alive Now?” begins with acoustic guitar and a single-note wandering piano line as Anohni’s uniquely beautiful voice floats in, singing the painful words of the song’s title. The music builds in intensity slowly, with the drums and bass joining in with a soft latin jazz groove, and electronic piano sparkling at the edges. Rob Moose—who has worked with Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver, Miley Cyrus—plays strings on the track. Euphoria actress Hunter Schafer directed the accompanying video which features three exquisite trans women in diaphanous gowns running through an abandoned industrial complex, a sad ocean in the distance. The song and the video are stunningly haunting and moving in that particular Anohni aesthetic that her fans have come to know and love. I can’t wait to get lost in the entirety of My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross. Welcome back, Anohni! We missed you! [KB]
Baby Got Back Talk– I’m Sorry I’m a Moron, But Also, Help. The NYC-based “D-I-why?-because-we-gotta punk party” band Baby Got Back Talk rocks out with this new single from their forthcoming EP, Wince, Repeat. The guitars jolt out from the first second, with several different catchy hooks, and vocalist/bassist G’Ra’s smooth tenor shimmers on top of this raucous bash of a song. The track takes you on a journey, playing with dynamics, with a lot of quick stops where the instruments fall away and you get to really enjoy the vocals before the band comes charging back in to shake you again.
G’Ra described the unfortunate event that inspired the song in a statement: “Rhi, our synth op, is a master baker of ~infused~ desserts by day. One time they left some of their handiwork at my apartment and I mistook a cookie that Rhi made for a normal cookie. As a result I became painfully, unbearably high for the first time in my overwhelmingly straight-edge life. When I realized my mistake, I texted the band group chat ‘I’m sorry I’m a moron, but also, help.’ We thought the immortal phrase was a fitting title for our new single, which is about hoping for compassion even when you know your problems are your fault.”
The video takes you on an adventure through one long unbroken shot following G’Ra and bandmates in what seems like a basement club, offering pool tables and spilled games of Jenga, ending with the group rocking out in a psychedelic black-and-white striped room. Wince, Repeat is due out July 21st on Wiretap Records. [KB]
Be Your Own Pet– Goodtime. Fabulous mid-aughts garage outfit Be Your Own Pet have blessed us with their third new single of the decade after what had been a 14-year hiatus. “Goodtime!” is as invigorating and spontaneous as the exclamation point suggests, and not without a healthy dose of lead singer Jemima Pearl’s classic tongue-in-cheek passive-aggressive sarcasm for good measure. “I don’t wanna be left behind / when everyone else is having a good time!” she sings, but I don’t think anyone’s getting left behind: Pearl’s iconic spoken-word rants and brilliant lack of subtly are ‘00s BYOP staples, and this catchy commentary on FOMO, aging, and responsibility picks up where they left off. “And that’s another thing,” Pearl bemoans in the song, “No one ever calls me! / Is everyone hanging out without me? What the fuck!”
It’s that familiar forthright insecurity that they have always sprinkled throughout their tracks, adolescent, almost—but apparently dreadfully grown-up too. Be Your Own Pet barely had the chance to scratch the surface of their brilliance in their short time together all those years ago, and “Goodtime!” is an example of what their unique style and killer songwriting techniques can do with a decade of new perspectives under their belts. The video, directed by Luigi Sibona, is itself ageless and vividly fun—the type of fun you might fear you’re missing out on when you’re older and saddled with responsibilities, but also the type of fun that Be Your Own Pet knows you can always find no matter how many mortgages you have. And sure, maybe the days of Becky’s envy-fueled teenage homicides are over, but I think Pearl and the band’s thirty-something punk rock shenanigans will be just as outrageous. “Goodtime!” will be featured on BYOP’s new album Mommy, out 8/25 on Third Man Records. [EA]
Becca Mancari (featuring Brittany Howard)- Don’t Even Worry. This one is a feel-good mid-tempo pop pleaser from the Nashville-based singer/songwriter Becca Mancari. Gorgeously layered strings blend with electric guitar strums, while Mancari’s voice floats over it all, supported in harmony on the verses by their Bermuda Triangle bandmate, Brittany Howard (also of Alabama Shakes). The vocals merge in unison for the reassurance of the chorus, as they both sing, “Don’t even worry, I’ve got you.” Mancari intends the song to be an anthem of support for the underrepresented, as well as a tribute to the friends who stay close in tough times. In a statement, Mancari said, “Hey, I know that the world often says it’s not made for us, and I know that this weight can be too heavy sometimes, but when you’re down and feel lost I will carry you through it, and vice versa, because we don’t give up on each other, and I got you.” The video, directed by Sophia Matinazad, features Mancari and Howard rocking out in the countryside, driving around in a pick-up truck laughing, and finally smashing glass bottles and jugs with baseball bats. It’s a lot of fun. “Don’t Even Worry” is the second single Mancari has released off of their upcoming album Left Hand, out on Captured Tracks on August 25. [KB]
Blanket Approval– Happy Alone, Pt. 2. Brooklyn indie rock band Blanket Approval’s newest track is jazzy and fresh. A pleasing blend of groovy guitar solos, moody synths, and delightful harmonies, “Happy Alone, Pt. 2” is danceable and hip, almost psychedelic in a way that reminds me of of Montreal. “Can I reconstruct this fragile self-esteem? / Can I take this moment just for me?” — A hypnotic ode to loneliness, the song is infectious in its subdued joy. It’s hard not to feel a little gleeful listening to it without anyone else around, because the lyrics are relentlessly liberating: “I wanna have some fun / with my identity,” goes one verse, “Lay bare in the sun / nothing feels so free!” Definitely the kind of thing you can dance to alone in your room. I mean, I’m not saying I did. Also not saying I didn’t. But, like, you could. Hypothetically… Anyway, you can catch Blanket Approval on tour right now, and at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC Saturday, July 22nd. [EA]
Blonde Redhead– Melody Experiment. The pensive second single off of the upcoming Sit Down for Dinner launches you into a vibrating landscape of echoing synth and staccato guitar, with Kazu Makino’s bass pulsing steadily underneath. The soft beauty of Makino’s vocals contrast with the sharp betrayal reflected in the lyrics: “How would you feel if I kept you secret? / I didn’t know what I was afraid of / Well I felt somewhat abandoned / I felt abandoned myself, didn’t I?” Makino describes the song as a conversation between two people who understand their relationship differently: “One is questioning the intentions, integrity, and consequences of one’s emotions and actions. She is hypersensitive. The other keeps things simple, allowing himself to go with the flow. Musically, I was able to find something that is quite true and natural to myself, and now I want to continue on this path.” Makino, along with her bandmates, the Italian twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace, will be touring the US, UK, and Europe this summer into fall to support the release of Sit Down for Dinner (via section 1 on September 29th), coming to Brooklyn Steel on November 10th, and making a special appearance at a vinyl and dinner bundle event at Public Records on September 28th. [KB]
Blur– St. Charles Square. As much as I love Blur (they are the hands-down winner of the Britpop Wars if you ask me) I never got around to listening to 2015’s The Magic Whip, and honestly forgot it existed, so news that they were releasing another album surprised me much more than it should have. But now I’m playing catch-up, and the second single from the upcoming The Ballad Of Darren is great. Featuring a Graham Coxon guitar riff that’s just as catchy as any of their vintage work, it’s fun and weird like the best Blur songs are. What do the lyrics mean? “‘Cause there is something down here / and it’s living under the floorboards / it’s grabbed me round the neck with its long and slender claws.” Who knows! What I do know is that Blur fucking rules and they don’t even seem that much older, which is kind of unfair, because I feel old as shit when I remember buying their Best Of video compilation on VHS and pausing a lot during the “Girls and Boys” video at seventeen. Godspeed, dudes. [CW]
The Clientele– Claire’s Not Real. When I pressed play on this single, I wondered if I had accidentally hit one of the “coffee shop jazz” YouTube videos I use for background atmosphere in the mornings. Very chill and very gentle, the latest single off of the upcoming I Am Not There Anymore (out July 28th on Merge) incorporates bossa nova beats with guitar and strings to evoke a hazy mood. Known for using imagery in his songwriting, singer Alasdair MacLean says of the song: “I was in Cercedilla in Spain in summer 2020…There was suddenly a rain of ash and an orange glow on the horizon, and I read on my phone that nearby Ávila was burning with forest fires. This moment found its way into several songs on the album.” Coincidentally, our own skies now fill with smoke above, so stay inside this weekend and bliss out to this track while waiting for The Clientele to stop by on tour at Bowery Ballroom on August 10th. [CW]
Divide and Dissolve- Want. The intro track to Systemic, the newest album from Melbourne, Australia’s Divide and Dissolve, “Want” uses looping, anticipatory sounds to twine into listeners ears and prime them for the record to come. Saxophonist/guitarist Takiaya Reed says: “Want’ is a deep dive into longing within a decolonial framework. We can want many things, but how will it happen? What is necessary, what systems must be broken in order for people to live?” The accompanying video drives this point home, spinning along with the music (a warning for those who may have issues with flashing or spinning imagery). Of the video, director Sepi Mashiahof says “the concept for the video emulates this kind of infant yearning for worlds beyond our current heartbreaking reality. There are so many beautiful textures above our heads that are inaccessible (as there are so many desired modes of existence that are inaccessible), and the rotation emphasizes the limbo of what that desire feels like. Trying to reach something, but succumbing to the loop of failure. Still, that infant yearning is persistent, and that compliments the need for hope and cements the importance of idealism as essential tools in our greater struggles for liberation.” Systemic is out now on Invada, and the band will be touring Australia and Europe this summer. (Watch out for North American dates; they impressed us when they opened for Low.) [CW]
Jeff Rosenstock– Doubt. It wasn’t long ago when cryptic “Wingding” messages started popping up on Rosenstock’s socials. After much back and forth conjecture on the interwebs, Jeff and crew dropped “Doubt,” the second single from his forthcoming Hellmode LP (release date 9/01/2023). “Doubt” starts off with an unassuming drum beat from Kevin Higuchi before we get a quiet floating guitar riff (more indicative to a band like Real Estate than Jeff Rosenstock) which proceeds into a melodic and meandering vocal from Rosenstock. It’s not until almost the 3 minute mark that we are clubbed over the head with the skronky guitar which we’ve come to know and love from him. Then it’s the sing along chorus of “You gotta chill out with the doubt, the doubt, the doubt” over and over until the song runs its course to a “slow motion breakdown”. And just like that what appeared to be a kinda big departure all of a sudden is warm, fuzzy and most importantly LOUDLY familiar. [RR]
Linnea’s Garden (featuring Carissa Johnson)- In The City. This fun psych-rock-meets-disco track will get you dancing. The song is a collaboration between Boston-based glam punk band Linnea’s Garden and the Brooklyn-based indie rock artist, Carissa Johnson. Inspired by late nights in Brooklyn clubs, the essence of “In The City” is well-captured in a dizzy video where we follow Carissa and Linnea (vocals/guitar of Linnea’s Garden) through a wild night of dance floors and graffiti-coated bathrooms in various BK hotspots (including Our Wicked Lady). The flirtatious vibe here is beckoning, as the lyrics reflect: “Come up and see what you want.” The single is out now via A Diamond Heart Production/Cocoon Songs. [KB]
Onesie– Anemone in Lemonade. A power pop pleaser that plays with dynamics, stops and starts, showing off Ben Haberland and company’s abilities to create a variety of guitar-drenched sonic landscapes. The track begins with jangly guitar and a slithery bass line, Haberland’s strong vocals sitting on top in the mix. Then all sounds drop out except for a quiet guitar, but then the band surges back, more rocking than before, the guitars more distorted. “Anemone in Lemonade” moves much like the sea creature of its title, turning in on itself to hide in some moments and then exploding out again with unexpected new color. Liminal Hiss (due out on Totally Real Records/Pillow Sail Records/Kool Kat on August 18) is the third full album from Haberland, drummer Josh Inman, and bassist Rob Lanterman, and they’ll be celebrating on 8/18 at The Sultan Room with Irrevery and Strange Neighbors. [KB]
Ratboys– The Window. The title track from Ratboys upcoming fifth studio album, “The Window” has an epic sense, building from a quiet beginning to kick into the band’s classic indie-country sound about a minute and a half in, until the climax is nearly fist-pumping. Singer and guitarist Julia Steiner uses the image of the window as something to look through and pass through but that also separates, singing “I saw you through the window / we locked eyes and the window / was open, felt the wind blow / I looked in, and I felt you with me.” Of the song’s themes, Steiner says it deals with the death of her grandmother in 2020. “She didn’t have Covid, but because of the pandemic my grandpa wasn’t able to visit her in person at the nursing home to say goodbye. He ended up standing outside her room and saying goodbye through an open window. A lot of the lyrics are direct quotes of things he said to her in those final moments.” The cinematic tone of the song is reflected in the poignant video. The Window will be out August 25 on Topshelf Records, and Ratboys will be at Bowery Ballroom on September 27th with Free Range. [CW]
Slow Pulp– Slugs. On this ode to summer crushes, the beat ambles along at a moderate pace as the song takes its sweet time, with fuzzy guitars and singer Emily Massey’s casual croon blending into each other. Apparently the chords derive from one of the first songs guitarist/producer Henry Stoehr ever wrote, one for his own sixth grade crush, something I find charming. Slow Pulp lean into the summer theme on the video as the Chicago-based band road trips through the desert. Their new album Yard will be out on ANTI- September 29th, while the band hits NYC on November 1st at Bowery Ballroom. [CW]
Two Man Giant Squid– Progress. Chalk another one up to the unpredictability of progress. One thing that is starting to become quite predictable, however, is Two Man Giant Squid’s ability to deliver sing-along bangers chock full of triumphant hooks you can move to. The Mitch Vinokur solo moniker turned-fice-piece storm of chaos, just dropped a post-punk bass drum groove driver full of big guitar slices landing somewhere between Jim Carroll Band and Vue. When dared in undertaking the follow up to their beloved Fall 2021 earworm hit “Versechorus,” Two Man Giant Squid accepted that challenge, and that’s “Progress.” [MB]
Wetsuit– Local Celebrity. This song tells an embarrassing Craigslist origin story involving a long distance relationship, an ex-boyfriend opening for Surfer Blood, and the Mercury Lounge. There’s just something about Allison Becker, vocalist and guitarist for Substitute Scene Records’ newest addition to the roster, Wetsuit, that just somehow screams good times and fond memories; past, present, and future all bottled tight, and wrapped up in a mop of curls and one hell of a powerful voice. An accompanying music video blending actual footage from her 2004 Bat Mitzvah seamlessly intercut with a faithful recreation of the momentous occasion amongst her bandmates and friends.
The indie rock quartet—rounded out by guitarist Anders Nils, bassist Paul DeSilva, and drummer Stephen Cadieux—lures you in with its Midwest bedroom-pop sensibilities. But there’s a fire beneath its familiarity. The guitar work between Nils and Becker burn and grumble organically ambling their way between dreamy and hazy. Relentless yet unassuming in its attack, DeSilva and Cadieux drive and shuffle the song’s pocket like pillow-fight creating space for the vocals to really shimmer. Beyond the raw force and unique quality to Becker’s voice (which brushes up against the old-school country trill and warble of legends like Patsy Cline and Rosalie Allen), she employs an impressive emotional range and lyrical honestly that cuts through the track with poise and control. [MB]
Worriers– Trust Your Gut. Following Warm Blanket, their home-recorded album released earlier this year, Lauren Denitzio and company return with “Trust Your Gut,” the title track off their first studio album in years. The high-energy song will get you bouncing with driving guitars and punchy synth lines, Denitzio’s crystal clear voice soaring over it all. They described the writing and recording process as a lot of fun, and the track has a positive message of trusting yourself. The video, directed by Chelsea Christer, was inspired by the film Empire Records, and depicts Denitzio and friends throwing a party to save a local queer bar. On the song and video, Denitzio says, “I thought it would be a good match for the video to be an interpretation of Empire Records where we’re saving a queer bar instead of a record store—just a fun way to claim space and community and see yourself in something when outside forces are working against you. Queer interpretations are some of my favorite things to talk about, and I’ll never turn down a chance to incorporate queer joy into our work!” The full album, Trust Your Gut, will be released via Ernest Jenning Record Co. on September 15, featuring band members Atom Willard (Against Me!, Social Distortion), Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady), Frank Piegaro, and Cayetana’s Allegra Anka. [KB]