If you were at the sold out Quasi and Bat Fangs show at TV Eye this past Thursday, March 16th, there is a 100% chance that you absolutely got your face rocked off. With both bands bringing a unique set of bold sounds, audience members had the pleasure of getting to witness legendary Quasi drummer Janet Weiss deliver thunderously precise beats with band mate Sam Coomes getting funky on a variety of electronic instruments (including keyboards hooked up to guitar pedals) while Bat Fangs commanded plenty of head bangs with no shortage of shreds.
This also marked the first NYC show in several years for Quasi and considering what Weiss has been through over the past four years, a sort of reclamation of her power as a remarkable and iconic musician. In 2019, Weiss left Sleater-Kinney after 24 years due to no longer being considered a creative equal during the recording of their ninth studio album, The Center Won’t Hold. Less than two months later, she was seriously injured after being in a car crash in her Portland, OR neighborhood. And of course in 2020, the entire world ground to a halt during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing her behind the kit again was nothing short of incredible as she and Coomes powered through 90 minutes of material from over 20 years of albums.
Janet Weiss of Quasi at TV Eye
Quasi’s 22 song set list included tracks off Featuring “Birds” (1998), Field Studies (1999), Sword of God (2001), When the Going Gets Dark (2006), Mole City (2013), as well as their most recent release, Breaking the Balls of History (read our review). While Coomes and Weiss stuck mostly to performing, they did provide a little stage banter, including some self-deprecating remarks from Coomes who claimed he wasn’t much of a funny guy.
The weight of Weiss’ influence could be felt before and after the show—as I enjoyed some pre-show tofu banh mi nearby, I overheard someone chatting about how excited they were to see their favorite drummer. After the show, I met a couple from Australia that followed Quasi around several of their East Coast dates. And after waiting more than an hour after the show and making some new friends at the venue, I got to meet Weiss myself, who kindly signed the drum sticks I’ve had since high school when I was on drum line.
North Carolina/DC based rock n’roll outfit, Bat Fangs, made an ideal opener as they complemented Quasi’s indie sensibilities with an 80’s hard rock flare. Lead singer/guitarist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura King also provided plenty of powerful beats and certainly commanded the room’s attention with their set of energetic tunes.
We are so glad that Quasi is back in touring action, and that Bat Fangs shared the bill with them. You definitely should not miss either band when they come to your town and you can rest assured that we will be catching them again as soon as we can.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Amanda Meth)
Setlist: Queen of Ears, California, Rotten Wrock, I Never Want to See You Again, See You on Mars, Under a Cloud, Shitty Is Pretty, The Rhino, Do You Love Me Now? (Breeders Cover), You Fucked Yourself, Seal the Deal, Death Culture Blues, Doomscrollers Encore: Our Happiness Is Guaranteed, The Happy Prole, It’s Raining, Riots & Jokes
On February 17, 2023, beloved New Jersey heavyweights Screaming Females released their eighth full-length record, Desire Pathway, out into the world. The record’s name refers to the natural occurrence of an unplanned trail that develops due to repeated erosion from human or animal foot traffic through a specific area. “Maybe there was one in your neighborhood growing up, a corner where everyone decided it took too long to go around, so they made their own pathway to cut through,” says singer and guitarist, Marissa Paternoster. “There’s this cool unsaid group consciousness that comes together where everyone decides, this is the right way to go.”
Now in the eighteenth year of their inception, the band show no signs of slowing down and are continuing to forge their own path with plenty of epic shredding and bellowing along the way. It is safe to say that Screaming Females are one of the best bands out there and they are able to keep creating excellent music by leaning into their strengths and knowing which direction to push their sound. In thirty-three minutes and thirteen seconds, Desire Pathway addresses the difficulty of letting go, the perceived safety of isolation, and allowing oneself to mourn.
Worth noting are the parallels between “Brass Bell” opening this LP and “Glass House” kicking things off on their 2018 release All at Once, as both songs are predicated on being stuck in a controlling, undesirable relationship with no ability to dream past the present. Romantic hardship is a recurring theme throughout Paternoster’s work with the band as well as in her solo work, which I wrote about last year.
“Mourning Dove” was one of the album’s singles and its here that Paternoster gets candid about her experience with immense heartbreak. Catchy and reflective, the song features a shifting emotional arc as Paternoster works through her grief. She shares, “It is seldom that any Screaming Females song is about just one thing. ‘Mourning Dove’ is the only exception that I can really think of, a song about being profoundly in love while simultaneously being profoundly heartbroken.” The music video for the track features the band performing onstage in front of a backdrop designed by Paternoster (who is an incredible illustrator as well as musician), with dancers fluttering around with pairs of white wings on their backs in the later part of the video.
With ten songs over the course of the album, what emerges are various forms of relating to vulnerability. In “Desert Train,” Paternoster wants to protect herself from being hurt, proclaiming that she’s “a freight train in the desert dragging chains.” On “So Low,” she poses a series of questions pertaining to the perceived diminishment of her worth, ”If your car spun out while I was at the wheel/Would you keep me anyway?/If I broke both knees while I tried to kneel/Would you keep me anyway?”. Sonically, one of my favorite tracks is “Beyond the Void” which features a grungier tinge with ballad-like vocal delivery.
This was also their third record to be produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam, Foxing) and was recorded at Minnesota’s legendary Pachyderm Studios where PJ Harvey made Rid of Me and Nirvana made In Utero. While the record certainly is polished, it is still distinctly Screamales. The album art of paths cutting through dense neighborhoods in black and white was also designed by Paternoster, who has created all of the band’s past album covers.
Desire Pathway is a tight and well-written album from one of the best bands out there. We are so glad to see that Screaming Females are still going strong after all these years and can’t wait to catch them on tour soon!
Desire Pathway is out now via Don Giovanni and is available on all major streaming platforms.
In her latest full-length release, Down Rounder, Canadian indie-folk artist Cat Clyde delivers a beautiful collection of songs guided by cycles of growth and renewal. A soulful respite from the hustle and bustle of life’s demands,this dynamic record offers plenty of meditations on what it means to embrace an existence that pauses to trace the outline of a bird’s shadow mid-flight rather than worrying about getting ahead in the rat race. Firmly rooted in matters of the natural and spiritual world, Clyde returns to themes common throughout her past discography—2017’s Ivory Castanets and 2019’s Hunters Trance—with pronounced intention and plenty of room for swaying softly. “Connecting with the natural environment around me inspired a lot of these songs, and sonically I feel like this record is very grounded as a result,” Clyde says while talking about the album’s thematic bend. “I wanted these songs to sound raw and rough, but also placed-together in a way that created—a simple beauty, like the changing seasons or a setting sun.”
The LP opens with “Everywhere I Go,” a song that sets a solid foundation for launching Down Rounder as a record that celebrates change. As she considers the many ways in which renewal occurs, Clyde gets expansive by making references to various cycles such as “tides that roll” and how “fire licks the wood to ash.” The lively chorus of “There goes my skin/Shedding again/I keep walking on a path that never ends” is layered against a lively array of instruments including tambourine and violin, steeping the song deep in an abundance that is representative of Clyde’s essence.
Cat Clyde (photo by Strummer Jasson)
Featuring ten songs in just over half an hour, this is certainly an album meant to be savored rather than sped through. From the glistening sounds of creek life in “The Gloom” to the softly strummed guitar licks accentuating “Hawk in the Tree,” there is a deeply vast soundscape supporting every song. The record’s pacing is well-balanced and by combining rich instrumentation with stellar lyrical composition throughout, Down Rounder lends itself to be an exquisite body of work.
The most upbeat song on the record, “Papa Took My Totems,” addresses the destructive nature of the patriarchy with a danceable melody (the track was released as a single at the end of January, which we previously covered here). According to Clyde, “Papa Took My Totems” explores the “ravaging effects of colonialism, the state of the environment, and masculine-dominated society at large,” and was inspired by in part by her Indigenous Métis heritage. “There’s a lot of sacredness that’s being destroyed in the world, and that’s difficult to deal with sometimes. Totems, to me, feel like places and things that are important and real, to witness the destruction of things like that is devastating.” The video for the song shows Clyde performing alone in an empty theater with clips of her sitting in various seats looking into the camera interspersed throughout, proudly reclaiming her own power as a woman and person of Métis descent.
Releasing “Mystic Light” and “I Feel It” as the other singles helps show how varied yet cohesive this album truly is. While “Mystic Light” is bright, rich, and airy, “I Feel It” is stripped down, with Clyde singing against a backdrop of piano and cello with the sound of rain sprinkled throughout. Both songs examine the topic of release in relation to illumination, with the sun shining brightly in the former track and setting in the latter single.
The illustrious imagery, brilliant instrumentation, and robust vocal delivery of Down Rounder is able to glisten thanks to the production work of Tony Berg, who has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music including Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, and Phoebe Bridgers. Recorded in Los Angeles’ Sound City Studios, Clyde laid down the entirety of the record in six just days, yet the album sounds far from rushed. The February 17th release date is fitting as well for the album’s ethos as the beginning of Spring is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere and many are about ready to transition out of Winter.
Down Rounder is a wonderfully lush album that rejoices in all the beauty that life can bring. We are so glad that Cat Clyde is continuing to sow her musical seeds in 2023 and just as the sun gives life, we can only expect things to grow bigger and brighter for Clyde in the coming days.
Sundown in Oaktown is the debut album by triton., a musical project by Scott Murphy. With the concept of space being a vital tenant of the record, Murphy’s Hawaiian roots shine brightly throughout while also leaving plenty of room for the darker tones of life in Oakland, California. It is undoubtedly well-balanced and relatable with songs about how it feels to uproot your life in “_tiki_”, trying to stay out of trouble in “_jingletown_” and grappling with homesickness in “all_is_vanity.”
The album spans twelve tracks in just over 40 minutes and manages not to be rushed without dragging. Many of the songs like the opener “_bougainvillea,” sound like they’re being performed by Murphy on a seashore with a guitar in his lap. As he reflects on his new life 2,000 miles from home, he sings “I’ll figure it out/just like I always do” while addressing his shortcomings. The fastest song on Sundown in Oaktown is “orchids” which is written from the standpoint of looking back on life from the inside of a fast-moving BART train. Murphy is transparent about his mental health struggles in many songs and “orchids” does so in a way that warrants forgiveness rather than pity: “I’m sorry my place is a wreck/I just wanted it to match my head/I’m alone again in this bed/staring at the ceiling/thinking back on what you said,” he sings against upbeat keyboards, guitar, and drums.
Having grown up in the Bay Area and gone to college in Oakland myself, I can relate to much of what triton. alludes to throughout the album. Oakland has been at the forefront of artistic and social movements for decades but since it has become one of the most expensive places to live in the US (due to gentrification and inadequate rent control laws), it can often be difficult to make a living through creative means. In a press release, Murphy’s describes the experience of how living in Oakland informed the record clearly as he “saw lines drawn everywhere, neighborhood to neighborhood, rich to poor, and began his new life, trying not to slip between the cracks, and lose himself in a city that will spit you out or swallow you whole. Living paycheck to paycheck, Scott started writing music under the name triton. as a way to make sense of his fractured identity, combining the gentle sounds of his youth with the roar of city traffic, car alarms, and broken windows.”
On Tuesday, January 25th, long running political dance punk band, Downtown Boys, and Brooklyn grunge rock band, Oceanator, delivered highly energized sets to a tightly packed room at Brooklyn’s Union Pool. This show marked the fourth of the “Free Tuesdays” winter concert series that kicked off at the start of the year and which runs through February, hopefully continuing for many seasons to come like their “Summer Thunder” series has.
Oceanator opened the show and performed mostly tracks off their latest record, Nothing’s Ever Fine (one of our favorites of 2022), as well as an exciting brand new tune. Frontwoman Elise Okusami generously provided plenty of guitar shreds onstage as bassist Dylan Lapointe and drummer Jahari Fleetwood laid out the beats during their eight-song set. This show also marks their last show in the US before heading out on a three-week long European tour with post-hardcore band La Dispute in April. They have been touring vigorously over the past year, sharing stages with acts such as Pile, Jeff Rosenstock, and Queen of Jeans among others and have steadily been releasing music over the past few years. We wish them well during their time abroad and can’t wait to catch them back around town again!
Unless you’re a certified Grinch, it’s impossible not to have a good time at a Downtown Boys show. Congruent to their ethos is a sense of sustained community, and that definitely came through at Union Pool, thanks to the band and everyone else who was in attendance at the show. At the start of their set, singer Victoria Ruiz requested that audience members allow others who “may not have as much body mass in the vertical department” as them to be in front. Many obliged and what ensued was an hour full of singing, dancing, sweating, high-fives, fist pumps and good vibes in a room full of familiar faces and new friends alike.
Downtown Boys at Union Pool
Between songs, Ruiz also brought attention to issues regarding abortion access on demand and for any reason, white supremacy, Palestinian liberation, and capitalism, which much of the band’s music addresses. There were fourteen songs in the set, with highlights including the pairing of “100% Inheritance Tax” and “Wave Of History,” to kick things off and “Monstro” at the conclusion of the set, all from 2015’s Full Communism. In between those strong bookends, several songs from both albums made their way into the set with massive reaction to favorites like “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas),” “A Wall” and their lively cover of Selena’s “Fotos Y Recuerdos.” Before the song’s start, Ruiz proclaimed, “You might think it’s a Pretenders cover, but it’s not! It’s a Selena cover!” They also included their high octane cover of the 1987 classic “Poder Elegir,” by Los Prisioneros, explaining the legacy of the influential Chilean band before beginning.
From the epic sax solos of Joe DeGeorge to the fast-paced southpaw drumming of Joey Doubek and slick infectious guitar riffs from Joey DeFrancesco, there was no shortage of talented musicianship onstage backing up the powerhouse vocals of Ruiz. Bassist Mary Regalado was unfortunately sick so could not play the show but a fill-in bassist, Tony, was able to step in to fill her shoes and they did an incredible job. Ruiz went down into the crowd multiple times during the band’s set, trading places with several audience members who happily made their way to the stage to dance, sing and cheer along. At the conclusion of the set, fans were not quite ready for the night to end and shouted for more. The sweaty and exuberant band members didn’t leave the crowd hanging and quickly returned to the stage to give us one more, playing their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s iconic 1984 hit, “Dancing In The Dark.”
Although this show was not their first since the start of the pandemic, Downtown Boys have not performed very much over the past few years so this was quite a special occasion. Their next show is a sold out abortion funds benefit this Saturday, January 28th at Bowery Ballroom (read more), where they’ll be playing with several other artists including Horsegirl, Katy Kirby, Weeping Icon and Wet. We are so glad we were able to catch them at such a small venue tonight and look forward to rocking out with them again soon!
Scroll down for setlists, pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Oceanator Setlist: Morning, Bad Brain Daze, Solar Flares, A Crack in the World, New One, Stuck, From the Van, Evening
Downtown Boys Setlist: 100% Inheritance Tax, Wave of History, I’m Enough (I Want More), Lips That Bite, Promissory Note, Fotos Y Recuerdos (Selena cover), Tonta, Poder Elegir (Los Prisioneros cover), Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas), Break A Few Eggs, Because You, L’internationale, A Wall, Monstro Encore: Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)