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], Mike [MB] and guest writer Badger [BC] weighing in on some killer songs and they have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Activity– Department Of Blood. With eerie backing vocals and a beat that bubbles up from underneath, this track puts me in mind of Amnesiac-era Radiohead ala “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors.” It’s a dark, menacing song, as Travis Johnson sings “whatever the lord is came to me.” He explains “the song is loosely about a lot of things, but one of them is the feeling of knowing you’re being manipulated by something way more powerful than you and also knowing you can do absolutely nothing about it.” Following on the heels of the equally anxious-sounding “Careful Let’s Sleepwalk,” these singles have me excited for Spirit In The Room, which comes out August 4th on Western Vinyl. Activity will be holding their album release show on July 16th at Baby’s All Right. [CW]
Bad Luck– Safe to Say. The NYC quartet of Dominick Fox, Joe Fox, Charlie Caruso, and Michael Sichel just dropped a hot new video for their latest single “Safe to Say” from their upcoming EP Books On Tape out August 11th via Take This To Heart Records. The high contrast video is super slick, looking like a cross between an episode of Severence and Cold War housing from the Soviet Bloc. Drop ceilings and maybe drop D, their heavy rhythmic riffed two guitar attack is reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American, while melodically nodding toward Saves The Day’s more sabertoothed Through Being Cool in all the right ways. [MB]
Big Bliss– Tell Me When You’re Ready. The newest single from NYC’s own Big Bliss is brisk and electric. Once Tim Race—who started the project with his brother Cory in 2018—starts singing (after a brief, twangy intro), he does not stop till the outro. It keeps your heart rate up, and Tim says a lot in three minutes—so much that I almost wonder when he has the chance to breathe, which lends itself to the track’s restlessness. The lyrics are clever, eloquent phrases that I would need a thesaurus to think of in between basic human observations like “I’m nauseous and scared.” It invokes a sort of inner turmoil, a battle between logic and chaos. Reluctance of acceptance, knowing something in your logical mind but denying it in your emotional one. “Face it / please don’t call it a crisis / because I have a name for it now / I have a name for it now,” goes the supremely catchy and yet haunting chorus. Post-punk guitars and a fervent, tireless drumbeat lie beneath the poignant vocals that explore addiction, denial, and recovery—a topic that is not new to Big Bliss—to create a distinctly energetic and passionate tune. [EA]
Dethklok–Aortic Desecration. I’ve always sort of felt like people who got really into Dethklok’s music—including Brendon Small—were sort of tricking themselves into something. That a kinda-good-but-not-that-good melodeath band would become a major economic and cultural powerhouse is pretty self-evidently the main joke of Metalocalypse, and for its best years (its first two seasons as a quarter-hour gag series, before they started leaning into the continuity) that’s all that the tunes really aspired to. And while Small proved his for-real chops when the bonafide rock opera that concluded the original series ended up being a damn fine piece of longform rock music, I’ve still never been a fan of the show’s shift to sincerity. So maybe it’s a good sign for the upcoming movie that this particular track is classic Dethklok: a slightly funny, slightly good piece of stylistically accessible death metal that will probably be attached to something significantly funnier, but as it stands is a pretty incomplete text. [BC]
Glimmer–Self Destroyed. Following the dissolution of local favorites Dead Stars, members (and cousins) Jeff and Jaye Moore decided to keep going, forming the new group Glimmer. And we are thankful they didn’t hang up the towel—their debut single “Self Destroyed” proves they still have things to say and music to make. Deftly melding grungey sounds with pop sensibilities (their Bandcamp bills them as “grungegaze”) their sound is both throwback and evolution. Jeff’s trademark crunchy guitar is present and tracks off into an almost reckless sounding mini-solo (he handled bass duties as well on the recording, although Glimmer is performing as a quartet) with his vocals melding into the music smoothly, while Jaye’s drums accent perfectly, lighter to carry the verses and giving weight to the harder parts of the song. Watch their Instagram for more new music and upcoming shows. [CW]
Islands– Life’s A Joke. “Islands Are Forever” Nick Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds) has been known to proclaim, and I can only hope it’s true. The latest music from the Canadian musician carries on from 2021’s Islomania, being catchy and fun, almost tropical, topped with Thorburn’s moody voice singing phrases like “one day your horse is up the next it’s been put down / nothing seems to matter anyhow” and “fuck your god / he closed the window and shut the door” over an almost comically upbeat tune. I’m pretty sure Thorburn has neverbeen ina bandI didn’tlike and his songwriting never fails to satisfy. And That’s Why Dolphins Lost Their Legs will be out on August 25th (happy birthday to me!) and Islands will be at Bowery Ballroom on September 23rd. [CW]
LEONE– I Wanna Be.Brooklyn’s LEONE is bringing sexy back. The trio single handedly responsible for at least doubling the sensuality quotient among the shaggy faced Brooklyn indie rock scene this past year, Richie Leone (vocals, guitar), Tarik Merzouk (bass), and Brian Del Guercio (drums), return with a new single and video, directed by Beth Fletcher. Full of dark cabaret and vice, it unfolds its secret desires manifested in the sordid underbelly of NYC. Duplicitous in its power dynamics, danger and desire exhilarate each movement and every turn. The twist and pull, the allure of the performer just outside reach. The lines between total freedom and lack of control are as blurry here as the whiskey soaked vision of Leone himself. The piece is as visually cinematic as it is lyrically poetic, and aurally flawless in tying those elements together. It ends with with a gasp, a classic cliffhanger of imminent peril, leaving us to wonder what will become of our hero… or villain? [MB]
Mandy, Indiana–The Driving Rain (18). With this track the experimental Mandy, Indiana draw close to being club-ready, as a looping drum beat chugs along under synthy layered voices. I can imagine this one appearing on a Nightride FM mix someday. The accompanying music video by producer/guitarist Scott Fair consists of what he calls “found anime footage;” it’s an established method to loop anime in the background of synth mixes on Youtube nowadays, but I do wish they had sourced the clips in the credits. The band has added US tour dates recently and will be at Baby’s All Right on December 2nd for their first ever show in NYC; their debut album i’ve seen a way is out now on Fire Talk. [CW]
Palehound– Independence Day. In advance of their new album Eye on the Bat, out 7/14 on Polyvinyl Records, Palehound has released a brand new single. Just in time for, well, Independence Day, “Independence Day” is somber and elegant. El Kempner’s catchy acoustic riffs combine with their fierce-yet-delicate, almost folksy vocals and poetic, engaging lyrics to create something explosive yet subdued. The accompanying video is of fireworks, but they are not the focus—peripheral, and such is the sense I get from this song, which seems to remind us that not all epiphanies need to be loud and volcanic. Of the track, Kempner says:
“The ending of a relationship that spanned the majority of my twenties illuminated a forked road that daunted me. In the aftermath of our breakup, I found myself dwelling on what that other life would have been like and who I would have become had we chosen differently, or even if circumstance or tragedy had chosen for us.”
Eye on the Bat is out 7/14. Palehound embarks on a US tour this fall, and will play Bowery Ballroom 10/19 with Philly’s Empath. [EA]
Shred Flintstone– Blue 42. The New Jersey rockers are back with a killer new EP out next week, and just dropped hot lead single “Blue 42” to tide us over until we can get our next full fix. Now a tight as nails quartet, this newest Shred endeavor is full of slow crunch and heavy fuzz. Veering a bit from some of the psych and garage elements they’ve showcased on previous releases, frontman Dan Barrachia alongside Ozzie Silva (drums), Ben “Slam Cheddy” Petty (bass), and Charlie Pants (guitar) show a clear evolution in songwriting as well as an evolution in production this time around. Think more Placebo meets early Silverchair (thanks to Silva’s thunderous and controlled attack behind the kit) without abandoning their signature tough-in-cheek twist of fun that makes them so uniquely Shred Flintstone. [MB]
Slowdive–kisses. Shoegaze greats Slowdive sound less fuzz-mode here and more into dreampop, evoking bands they themselves influenced like Wild Nothing or Real Estate. It’s a sort of lightweight, melancholy song, with echoing guitar plucking along under the reverb-drenched vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell (“I know you dream of snowfields / floating high above the trees / living for the new thing / sometimes the new won’t do.“) It’s a beautiful song and a logical progression from 2017’s self-titled comeback album. everything is alive is out September 1st on Dead Oceans; Slowdive will be on our side of the pond at Webster Hall for two shows on September 27th and 28th. [CW]
Who Is She?–MoviePass. Let me tell you, it isn’t often that a song makes me laugh out loud. But this one did, and you probably will too. It’s about that wonderful, disastrous moviegoing app that took us all by storm back in 2017. It was too good to be true, wasn’t it? So is this song. Surfy pop-rock intercut with a spoken-word monologue, one side of a conversation that we all had at the time but that is also are worthy of a comedy show (“And I didn’t go to business school or anything,” goes one of these moments, “But it was an unsustainable business model.”), “MoviePass” proves that the supergroup, made up of Robin Edwards of Lisa Prank, Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt, Bree Mckenna and newly Emily Nokes, both of Tacocat, can make an absolute bop out of anything. The video, by animator Violet Crabtree, is fabulous too, a stop motion fantasy world of movie theater snacks and slightly off-kilter yet unbridled joy. But there’s a clear message behind the silliness: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”
The band shares:
“This song is about existing in this brief, beautiful glitch in time where we could see as many movies as we wanted in the theater. MoviePass was the one that got away, a love that burned bright and fast, and knowing it’s over but wishing you could go back. Movie theaters also are significant to Bree and Robin, who both worked as popcorn-scoopers in their early 20s.”
If I may do the anecdote thing: I myself was working in a movie theater in 2017, and for us, MoviePass was hell. It made all of our lives harder and created a lot of frustration from staff and customers alike. Still, though, even I look back fondly at that simpler time. For me, this song invokes that wistfulness, a longing for those pre-pandemic days, for a time when it seemed like truly cool and useful things were still coming from the Internet and not the threat of annihilation by artificial intelligence. MoviePass can represent a lot of things, and this wonderful, relatable, ridiculous track reminds us: whatever it is, take advantage now. Because you never know how long it will be around. Who Is She?’s new album Goddess Energy is out August 25th on Father/Daughter Records. [EA]
Noisy postpunk band, A Very Special Episode, are staples in the Brooklyn DIY scene known equally for their work ethic, striking visuals and intense live shows. They are on the eve of releasing a brand new album, Freak Me Out, which incorporates themes of horror, cults and their intersection with pop culture. We were intrigued so we sent some questions over to the band which bassist/vocalist Kasey Heisler and guitarist Patrick Porter were nice enough to answer for us. Find out more about the band and the album below:
Tell us a bit about who you are as a band.
Kasey: Three doofuses having fun and trying to start a fire hoping other people will come to the party and hang with us.
You draw upon movies and other music for influence. What are some of the influences for this record and for the band in general? Can you talk a little about how those outside influences shaped the writing of Freak Me Out?
Patrick: Personally, I’ve been very inspired by the two feature films Beyond the Black Rainbow and Mandy by Panos Cosmatos. They’re like the world’s slowest but most visceral roller coasters. As best I can I’ve tried to recreate the experiences and emotions those two movies have given me as I’ve watched them.
How much actual self-discovery went into the making of this record?
Patrick: Well, we ended up booking both chunks of studio time before all of the actual songs were written so that provided very fertile ground for self discovery. Thankfully it resulted in success (we think).
What was your favorite thing about recording at Studio G?
Kasey: Everything about it felt legitimate and special but I would say mostly it was working with Jeff Berner and Ross Colombo, and how collaborative the experience got to be with them in finding the sound and all the weird ways we could get there.
Patrick: Like Kasey said, it was a blast working with Jeff and Ross and it was also nice recording within walking distance of our home. It was also just really fun playing with all their pedals and equipment for overdubs.
How much does the Brooklyn DIY community tie into your identity and your sound as a band. And can you speak a little to that?
Kasey: I feel like we really found our sound and identity the more that we began to find our community there. And have you ever been to a show to see your friends and they kick so much ass it makes you mad and jealous?? That can be incredibly motivating.
Patrick: Everyone in the scene is so creative and constantly pushes us to think outside the box on how to expand our sound and step up our game. It’s like our peers give us permission to feel brave enough to take risks and make bold choices in our tunes, and I hope we do the same for them!
The world is tough to navigate a lot of the time these days, and it can be hard to stay motivated. How do you stay inspired to keep going and doing what you’re doing with all the bullshit of life coming at you and the challenges of being independent musicians on top of it?
Kasey: I am fairly bad at staying motivated when things around me become difficult but Patrick is always using everything around him to inspire new musical or visual ideas and he ends up inspiring me the most.
AVSE live at EWEL (photo by Kate Hoos)
What do you get up to outside of the band?
Kasey: These days it’s mostly band stuff, but being a TV couch potato is an origin story for me and my tendency persists for sure. Good TV, bad TV, I’m here for it.
Going back to movies, got any hot recommendations? Some obscure or cult classics we should know about?
Patrick: I recently watched Infinity Pool, Skinamarink, and Barbarian—all of which are new releases I recommend. I also really did fall into a Criterion rabbit hole recently; Brand upon the Brain is an incredibly weird silent movie from 2006 that really stuck with me that deserves more eyes.
If you could interview any cult leader from all cults throughout history, who would you interview?
Kasey: I got really drawn into NIXIM through The Vow on HBO as a lot of people did and I would love to interview Keith Raniere just to find out how he was persuasive enough to get a bunch of fairly successful people from around the world—including working actors and filmmakers living in LA—to move to Albany.
If animals were cults, what cult would cats be and what cult would dogs be?
Patrick: Cats and dogs already have their own well established cults; have you talked to a passionate cat or dog owner? They may not have a well defined name but that doesn’t mean they aren’t already a thing. For more proof, ask Kasey or myself at the next show you see us at the crazy things we’d do on behalf of our cats.
Would you rather be in a money cult or sex cult?
Kasey: Money cults are less terrible but sex cults get all the attention…
Patrick: Is there any such thing as a consensual sex cult? Probably not…
Do you believe in aliens?
Patrick: If they’re out there and we made contact they’re probably more weird and horrible than we can possibly imagine so I’m glad we haven’t yet.
Would you spend a year on Mars (all expenses paid)?
Kasey: Hell no, I don’t even know how I’m gonna be on tour for the better part of a month.
AVSE live at EWEL (photo by Kate Hoos)
Flash forward to a few months from now and the record is out, and everyone is buying it hand over fist, how will you be sure this whole thing wasn’t actually a grift?
Kasey: At that point, will it matter? One man’s grift is another man’s self discovery after all.
Patrick: While it’s definitely not a grift, there’s no sure fire way to prove it. That said, I highly recommend the vinyl combo with the tote bag.
Freak Me Out releases in full via EWEL records on 6/23/23
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 Mike [MB] weighing in on a big list of killer songs and they have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Allegra Krieger–Lingering. If NYC were a song, this would be it I think. Lingering is genuine, literal, and pretty in a gray, urban kind of way. “As I rounded the corner, it smelled like piss and garbage,” Krieger sings, “As the crosswalk counts down / flashing orange and red / crossing over Canal.” In the simple video that reminds me of my childhood hanging with my friends on the LES, she dances and skips down a sunny urban street. The video and the song are both honest in their depictions of the city, in its trash and its grime, its shuttered storefronts and its pungent smells, but also in its potential for joy. The city looks small here.
It’s a brilliant video: I actually didn’t notice that anything was strange until my second watch, I was so focused on Krieger’s lovely song—nothing is quite as it seems. Here, NYC isn’t some mystical land of opportunity—it’s our home, our lives, and we make our own fun. “I get so tired, always running around / keeping track of the time,” Krieger croons as the video slips into a glimpse of clear blue waves, “When I wanna slip into that fragile place / where I exist without a body.” Haven’t we all felt like that after a day out in our noxious concrete wonderland? Krieger’s new album I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane is out July 21st on Double Double Whammy. [EA]
Amaara– Bright Lights. A floating dream of a song with Amaara’s steady and beautiful voice drifting over a wash of synth, guitars, and bass and drums holding steady at mid-tempo, “Bright Lights” also takes you through a very meta video (behind-the-scenes or making-fun-of-behind-the-scenes), revealing Amaara deconstructing and performing the tropes of her own imagination. “Bright Lights” is the second single off of Amaara’s upcoming debut album Child of Venus out on July 7 via Lady Moon Records. [KB]
Andrew Hung–Find Out. With a compelling beat and hypnotizing vocals, this track from Andrew Hung is a dance number but in its own way, weird synth noises curling around to become catchy, drawing out movement (and maybe some finger snapping. Hey, I can dance alone) and becoming denser and more lush as it builds to climax. Hung (formerly of Fuck Buttons) does it all, handling writing, performing, producing and mixing duties on his latest album Deliverance, which will be out on August 11th on Lex Records. [CW]
ANOHNI and the Johnsons– Sliver Of Ice. Fans of ANOHNI know what to expect from her—delicate music, stark emotions, and a powerful, gorgeous voice—but that doesn’t stop each release from being a revelation. Her first album since 2016 deals with loss and possibility, and those themes are at the forefront on the single “Silver of Ice.” ANOHNI says of the song: “A friend of mine expressed to me in the final months of his life that the simplest sensations had begun to feel almost rapturous; a carer had placed a shard of ice on his tongue one day and it was such a sweet and unbelievable feeling that it caused him to weep with gratitude. He was a hardcore kind of guy and these moments were transforming the way he was seeing things.” The friend isn’t named in that quote, but elsewhere in a press release ANOHNI shares she was remembering some of the last words Lou Reed shared with her. My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross will be out July 7th on Secretly Canadian and Rough Trade. [CW]
Big Girl– Forever.The latest chapter of the upcoming album Big Girl vs GOD has been given a name and now bears the weight of existence “Forever.” And forever, as lead singer Kaitlin Pelkey can attest, can mean a lot of things and feel alot of different ways. Coping with the recent loss of her mother permeates much of Pelkey’s songwriting on BGVG, but none strikes quite so hard as this heart-wrenching ballad. Musically the track is gorgeous, full of dreamy melody, silky strings and a powerhouse vocal. The track lyrically unfolds like a letter drowning equally with all the love and regrets her mother can never receive. “I could have tried harder. I could have been a better daughter instead of a martyr,” Pelkey sings. “We had the times of our lives. Don’t think twice” It’s as much a celebration as it is an apology, often times both and almost always everything in between.
The video, directed by first-time filmmaker Brandon Flynn, is a journey through that tender pain and grief. It takes you right up against Pelkey’s raw sadness and presses your face against the glass. Intercutting with haunting video images of her parents’ wedding day, it twists your insides apart watching these two worlds of past and present collide until Pelkey finds herself desperately wandering inside the video itself searching for some sort of lingering phantom connection to hang onto.
From the perspective of a finite existence, it’s an infinite pit of sadness. Her voice almost breaks against waves of anger and sorrow, as she specifically punctuates those weighted words, “All that’s left in your place is your shape and your name and the stain of a life that’s not forever” [MB]
Being Dead–The Last Living Buffalo. This track is deceptively joyful…or maybe fortifying, exhilarating. Like we’re heading somewhere exciting. The kind of thing you’d hear in a Western during a montage of horseback riding amongst wide shots of desert and orange sunsets. The marching band-esque snare almost sounds like the hooves of a frontiersman’s steed making his way out west. The first comparison that came to my mind was Secret Tunnel from the 2000s cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender.The Last Living Buffalo’s accompanying video calls the forthcoming When Horses Would Run “the first buffalo-endorsed album.” It’s silly—but the song and the video are also haunting and persistent. Like I said—we’re heading somewhere exciting. Well, we’re heading somewhere, at least.
“Onward, buffalo, alone!” go the harrowingly repetitive lyrics. “Onward, no herd, I heard / you killed them…” But the lyrics get darker as the sound gets lighter, “I see a buffalo lying dead on the floor / (fur for fashion, fur for fashion).” The tension rises, we start to get antsy, waiting for some release…Where are we going? Founding band member Gumball says Last Living Buffalo is “about the universal human fear of being alone and/or being skinned alive.” In the last minute of the song, it’s suddenly angry, howling—no, literally, there’s howling—fuzzy, sludgey guitars and agonizing screams of “YOU KILLED THEM!” while a baby buffalo stares at us. The shift in mood just makes it all the more chilling. The Last Living Buffalo will appear on Being Dead’s debut album When Horses Would Run, out July 14th on Bayonet. [EA]
Buffalo Nichols– You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond. Carl “Buffalo” Nichols recreates the blues for 2023 with 808 programming, samples, and synths—as well as skillful guitar playing—topped off with his deep, soulful vocals. “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond” (an eerily beautiful version of the Blind Willie Johnson song) is the first single off of The Fatalist, his second album due out September 15 via Fat Possum. The Milwaukee, WI-based musician explained his new take on the classic song in a statement: “A traditional song made modern. Which aspects of ‘the Blues’ are essential? Is it a melody? A certain vocabulary? Delivery? Instrumentation? Is this still a blues song? And most importantly: who gets to decide? I tried to reimagine the blues with this song as if it were allowed to grow and progress uninterrupted, uncolonized and ungentrified.” The mysterious video for the track (directed by Samer Ghani) presents Nichols approaching a church at night, intercut with shots of him playing the song in low flickering light. Nichols is touring the US this summer, and will play Mercury Lounge on September 22. [KB]
Cinema Cinema–Walk Into The Ocean. Building like a swell of waves over less than three minutes, with drums pounding like the surf and Ev Gold whisper-roaring “I wanna kiss the mouth of ocean! I tell you, I wanna walk into the ocean… into the ocean, if that’s the exit then I’ll take it,” this experimental track is very different from the throbbing, raucous “War On You.” This makes for an interesting preview of their new album Mjölnir, which features Gold on guitar and vocals, his cousin Paul Claro on drums, percussion and winds, and Thor Harris (of Swans, Shearwater, and Angels of Light) on synths, percussion and drums. Mjölnir will be out via Nefarious Industries on July 14th. [CW]
Eaves Wilder– Better Together. This song starts out delicately, with Wilder’s gentle voice sweetly singing of “blissful confinement / peace and quiet / give me solace, silence / yeah that’s how I like it.” But as the song builds toward a fuller sound, so do the lyrics wonder “but we’d be better together / don’t you agree? and you always say that it’s a losing game / but why not play it with me?” Wilder says that “Better Together” takes the perspective of two narrators, “one who is skeptical of love and one who is trying to convince them otherwise.” The single is available now on Secretly Canadian, as is her debut EP Hookey, released earlier this year. [CW]
Frankie and The Witchfingers– Mild Davis. The lead single from the LA quartet’s seventh album is both simple and complicated, featuring jagged guitars twining around in angular riffs and deft rhythm work from new members Nikki “Pickle” Smith (formerly of Death Valley Girls) on bass and Nick Aguilar on drums, with soaring vocals over a 7/4 meter. Singer Dylan Sizemore says “I wrote ‘Mild Davis’ in a moment of feeling pessimistic about what technology is doing to our society, especially as AI is creeping to the forefront more and more. But then the bridge comes from a more optimistic perspective, where it’s questioning whether we could reboot the whole system and start all over.” Taken all together, the sum of these parts is a potent, trippy track that doesn’t get lost in itself. Data Doom will be out on September 1st on Greenway Records and The Reverberation Appreciation Society. Catch them live at Warsaw in Brooklyn on September 30th. [CW]
The Hives– Countdown To Shutdown. Kicking in with an ascending riff into classic Hives rock n’ roll, this second single from the upcoming comeback album features a seriously catchy bassline underpinning the verses and a chaotic business-themed video directed by SNASK. Singer Howlin’ Pelle presents the track as “The countdown to the financial collapse? The countdown to the weekend bender you’ve been waiting for? The countdown to your favorite sports competition? The Hives have you covered with Countdown To Shutdown. A versatile banger for all your summer rock needs.” In-fucking-deed. The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons will be out on FUGA on August 11th. We caught their recent NYC show (their first here in 11 years, see pics) and they are returning to NYC for a show at Brooklyn Steel on October 30th. [CW]
Lutalo & Lomelda– Darkeve Duet. A multiinstrumentalist originally from Minnesota who, after some time here in NYC, now lives and creates in rural Vermont, Lutalo’s debut EP from last year Once Now, Then Again is being released on vinyl on June 23rd. Fans of that EP will recall “Darkeve”; “Darkeve Duet” is a reimagining of the song from Lomelda that re-explores it delicately, a gorgeous, experimental track that weaves two voices together in a tapestry. Lutalo cites Lomelda as an influence, saying “it was a full circle moment to have her being willing to help with this track.” Lutalo will be touring the Midwest this fall. [CW]
Nara’s Room– Rat. The latest drop from the sometime-solo project, most-of-the-time band, Nara’s Room, is out now via Candlepin Records. A bit more polished in its execution, this jangly indie-rock gem from the mind of Nara Avakian is still chock full of lo-fi saturation in all the best ways we love them for. You can hear all the whistles and pops of guitar strings in its quieter moments but when it gets big and loud, its rich sonic layers nestle between the cracks of triumphant drum rolls and slam in like a hurricane.
“There’s a rat in my belly and it’s trying to tell you something” sings Avakian who also directed and edited the music video, shot on their famed around Brooklyn camcorder by Heather Jensen. It gives some major Real World/Reality Bites vibes with that signature Nara’s Room VHS BetaMax doc retro style. Starring a couple Sony Walkmans, a flip phone, and an Etch A Sketch, the the video follows the deadpan-faced band from White Castle, to the rock show and back up across Brooklyn rooftops. If only emotions were served up as easily as an order of chicken rings. “What else can I say….? What else can I do…. ?” [MB]
Sangre– Chainlinks. This Brooklyn based punk/grunge band is newer, having first hit the scene in late 2022. Now they’re here with their debut single, “Chainlinks,” and it has impressive production, sounding broad and full; this is no lo-fi demo tape that might immediately come to mind when thinking “first release from a punk band.” The chuggy riffs and vocal delivery would have fit right into 1993 era grunge radio play and it serves up serious 90s vibes (in all the best ways). This is a nice first taste of what this band has to offer and I’m ready for more. A music video will be released for the song on 6/17. [KH]
Sarah Mary Chadwick– Shitty Town. A reflective, piano-driven ballad with punishing and poetic evaluations of everything in life that has fallen short, Chadwick has described the track as a “leaving a place kind of song.” The lyrics reflect the futile inner turmoil of wanting to change the past: “I watch through the window at my life / It seems to function/ but who’s driving / this shitty car?” The song’s video creates a world where the song is a low-budget black box production of what “Shitty Town” might be as community theater; melodramatic with small technical effects, but every player putting forth maximum (if not flawlessly artful) effort. “Shitty Town” is the first single off of the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based Sarah Mary Chadwick in advance of her eighth full-length release Messages to God (out September 15 from Kill Rock Stars, and executive produced by award winning producer,Tony Espie). [KB]
Strange Ranger–Way Out. Strange Ranger’s forthcoming album Pure Music was recorded in a cabin in upstate New York, and this song definitely has cabin in upstate New York vibes. Way Out is a delightful indie rock track that’s dreamy but also frenzied, vocals whispering over each other in airy harmonies. The lulling chant of the verse is hypnotizing, and the chorus is ethereal and satisfying. Bandleader Isaac Eiger explains:
“I wrote this one while going through my memories of being a teenager in Montana and then it got all biblical for some reason. We produced it at the house in the woods and I remember feeling extremely alert, almost manic working on it late at night. At the time, we thought of it as a sort of condensed Talk Talk song, but I’m not sure if it ended up that way.”
Strange Ranger will be heading out on a North American tour and plays DROM on August 4th. Their new album Pure Music is out July 21st on Fire Talk. [EA]
Thick– Doomer. Brooklyn punks and hometown heroes, Thick, have released a brand new stand alone single, a mid tempo power pop rocker that shows new growth for the band and sees them channeling their frustrations too.
Singer Nikki Sisti shares:
“This song screams exhaustion. It’s about knowing what you could do for someone but being too burnt out to do. It’s the opposite of self-abandonment, it’s choosing to stop giving so much and hoping that the other person can find it within themselves to do the work and grow.”
This is the first recording without their longtime drummer Shari Page, the kit being helmed here by Mannequin Pussy drummer Kaleen Reading. Will Yip provides his signature crisp production, making the song sound rich and full with the band sound bigger than ever before and a long way from their rawer DIY house show roots. That’s hardly a bad thing though, and shows a new maturity and depth of sound, an exciting peek perhaps into Thick’s next era. The layered guitar work really shines, with the catchy leads standing out in particular. The band is currently on tour in the US and will head to the UK for some dates before they return to NYC for a show on 7/22 at TV Eye. [KH]
Vagabon– Can I Talk My Shit? The ever-evolving New York musician Laetitia Tamko aka Vagabon flirts and entices in this danceable indie pop tune, the second single off her third LP Sorry I Haven’t Called out September 15 via Nonesuch Records. The lyrics begin with Vagabon asking the song’s title, and then she proceeds to sing her truth (aka talk her shit for real): “I got way too high for this / I’m riding on a wave too low / Never found myself through the smoke.” The song has a fun video where we get to see what it would be like if she ran a towing company in the desert, complete with her looking gorgeous in a silver bustier while dancing in a junkyard. Vagabon tours the US this summer (playing Hudson Yards on July 12) before heading to Europe to accompany Weyes Blood in the fall. [KB]
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.
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.”
In addition to being available digitally, the band is releasing a very limited run 7inch which will feature a remix of the song on the B-side by BABii. Pick yours up now directly from the band. [KH]
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]
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 have the scoop on plenty of new tunes, give ’em a listen!
Be Your Own Pet–Worship The Whip. These Nashville punkers are back after 15 years, and while they sound polished they also still sound as frantic and vital as ever. This song may seem sexy at first (“lick it up baby, lick it clean / you eat it up baby / you worship the whip“) but frontwoman Jamina Pearl Abegg reveals the underlying meaning is “about the right-wing authoritarian personality.” Mommy will be out August 25th on Third Man Records; the band will be touring this fall and appearing at Elsewhere on October 21st. [CW]
Blonde Redhead– Snowman. The beloved NYC-based rock trio of Kazu Makino and twin brothers Amadeo and Simone Pace have created a floaty dream-pop track that feels like spinning in the first soft snow of winter. Sparse rhythm guitar echoes, as the drums hold a steady beat underneath, building in intensity and rhythmic complexity as the song goes on. The gorgeous layered vocals are front and center, with Amadeo Pace taking the lead. “I got inspired to write a song that only had two chords and a melody that would live and float between them,” Pace writes. “‘Snowman’ is about how it can be a blessing or a curse to be invisible and undetectable, and how it’s something we all feel and desire at times.” The track is the first lead single off of Sit Down for Dinner, Blonde Redhead’s first album in nine years, due for release on September 29 via Section 1. [KB]
Claud–Wet / Crumbs. Claud’s new single “Wet” is a dreamy, energetic, synthy pop tune, refreshingly polished but still very much “bedroom”. The lyrics are catchy, and the chorus in particular is achingly relatable for anyone who’s been forced to accept an insincere “I’m sorry” to preserve a relationship. “That’s not an apology,” Claud sings, “But I’ll take what I can get.” Meanwhile, B-side Crumbs is a subtler, more delicate piece that barely exceeds two minutes (perhaps fitting, a little song about “the little things”). Some more great, simple lyrics here, with clever juxtapositions between the cute and the dangerous: “The little wings on the little bugs / I’d kill for you.” You can catch Claud live at the Bowery Ballroom September 12th, and their new album, Supermodel releases July 14th on Saddest Factory Records. [EA]
The Clientele–Dying in May. The second track released off The Clientele’s upcoming album I Am Not There Anymore, “Dying in May” is an exhilarating, anxious dream. Listening to it, you feel like something is always about to happen: there’s a tension behind that cello, some inexplicable pressure, unease in that quick drum beat juxtaposed with a droning mellotron that just keeps building and building but never quite relieves you. Featuring repetitive vocals and no guitar, it’s something experimental for the 32-year indie pop veterans. Songwriter and vocalist Alasdair MacLean explains:
“There was no way in hell I could play guitar along with these rhythms, so I scored out a simple melody which would leave space for the drums, and be something the bass could latch on to. By the end, the words go over and over, like someone beside themselves with grief. Hence the title. It’s a harrowing subject, but I think it’s presented with love — the song hopefully opens it out and lets some air in. It feels like an exorcism for me.”
He also notes that the drums and instruments are in different time signatures, “I almost feel I could dance to this, but not quite.” This song falls into the uncanny valley of music, which seems to be exactly the point. Almost familiar, but something’s off: “The memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood…” MacLean says the album explores, “…or even knowing who or what you are.” I Am Not There Anymore is out July 28th on Merge Records, and The Clientele will be playing the Bowery Ballroom on August 10th. [EA]
Cut Worms– Ballad Of The Texas King.Brooklyn based singer songwriter Max Clarke goes by the name Cut Worms and his latest song, “Ballad Of The Texas King,” is the first single from his forthcoming eponymous release out in July. Recorded at Onlyness Analog in the Hudson Valley with the help of Rick Spataro (Florist), “Texas King” harkens back to quieter, more peaceful days both sonically as well as lyrically. Upon hearing the tune initially, my first thought was how much the tune reminded me of “Life In A Northern Town,” the 1983 hit that put Dream Acadamy on the map. As for the lyrical content, the song itself seems to be a letter of advice from grown up Max Clarke to a young Max. The combination of light breezy folk rock with the story Clarke tells works quite nicely.
Cut Worms will be playing a Friday night residency at Union Pool in July and if “Texas King” is any indication, these sets ought to be quite special. [RR]
Grrrl Gang– Spunky. If—like me—you’re a fan of Bratmobile, LeTigre and the seminal riot grrrl sound of the 90s, then this one is going to tick a lot of boxes for you. The title track from the Indonesian groups upcoming full length (due out this fall via Green Island Music and licensed to Kill Rock Stars in the US) is indeed spunky, living up to its name and packing a snarky (and inspiring) punch with lyrics like “I was born in the pit / I gave birth in the pit / I never shave my pits / let me swallow your spit.” The song relates the experience lead singer Angeeta Sentana had during a manic episode.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world, untouchable. I do things without thinking, always chasing after that feeling of instant gratification. I feel extra confident in myself—to a point of grandiose thinking—and that I could do anything,”
The song comes paired with a fun video that sees Sentana inspiring the protagonist of the video. This first taste of Spunky was bratty and tart, I can’t wait for more. [KH]
Jess Kallen–Exotherm. The title track from Jess Kallen’s new album is both laid back and catchy, while Kallen spins a tale of their pet turtle (“my pet turtle likes the space between the flower pot and wall / feels like a hug without really being held at all).” By the end it’s clear the song is really a metaphor for closeness (“we’re all the same / just digging holes and trying to run / and nobody knows / but you understand / all the exothermic / parts I am.“) The fun music video features a cameo from the turtle as well. Exotherm will be out June 21st on New Professor Music. [CW]
Kristin Hersh– Dandelion. On this brand new track, Hersh’s one-of-a-kind vulnerable voice sparkles over lush cello lines, sparkly glockenspiel chimes, and thoughtful acoustic guitar strums. The slow and reflective “Dandelion” pulses sultry like a summer daydream, and is the first single off of Hersh’s new solo album Clear Pond Road (her first full-length solo release since 2018’s Possible Dust Clouds). She described the inspiration for the song: “Dandelion’s main image is climbing a fire escape up to my dressing room in an alley outside a club I was playing (I’ve never needed to invent metaphors; they’re everywhere)…Anybody in love is always climbing to those eyes, you know? We’re voyeurs because we can’t ever know the beloved as completely as we want to.” Clear Pond Road releases on September 8 via Fire Records. [KB]
The Mary Onettes– Forever Before Love / Future Grief. Two brand new singles from the Swedish quartet, the former starts off with a twinkly, gothic jangle straight out of a 70s horror movie (it reminds of Suspiria, for some reason). And I suppose it makes a lot of sense that the track combines elements of yesteryear with today’s indie pop staples, since songwriter Philip Ekström says the song “is about finding the way back to yourself after a very long relationship. The process of trying to connect with the person you were before that.” The second track, “Future Grief” features guest vocals by Agnes Aldén, who also wrote the song’s verses while Ekström wrote the choruses. It doesn’t sound disjointed at all, though, and in fact their voices and words work together in a wonderful medley of airy guitars and entrancing harmonies. [EA]
Middle Aged Queers– This Song is Sponsored By Absolute Vodka. This California punk band is known for their sarcastic and cheeky takes on many things and here, they pull no punches as they let you know exactly how they feel about the corporatization of Pride month and “multinational corporations…clean[ing] eleven months’ worth of dust off of their rainbow logos” A true Bay Area classic pop punk ripper, it’s rough around the edges in all the right ways and the snark oozes out in sardonic glory with lyrics like You’ve got a gay boss man / at your startup so you’ll be marching /At this years pride parade / they’ll put a rainbow on your logo / You’ll walk your city blocks / Marking the anniversary of / When a fearless leader named Tim Cook / Threw the first brick at Stonewall.
The song certainly may be funny, but it addresses a subject that is no laughing matter. Queers are having our rights stripped away on a daily basis, where are these corporations the rest of the year when they aren’t trying to shake us down for our money? Yeah, I don’t know either. Fortunately there are bands like MAQ to help us through when shit seems the bleakest and I don’t know about you, but I need that levity to keep on surviving in a world that wants me dead. And I need a good soundtrack to keep me laughing while I point my very gay middle aged middle fingers at the hollow Pride pandering. [KH]
Oceanator– Part Time. Brooklyn’s Oceanator just hit the road with Gladie and AJJ— after coming also just off the road for a brief run with Laura Stevenson. I mention this because, with all of the touring Oceanator does (and they seem to be on the road forever), it’s hard to imagine when they find the time to get to the studio to record new music. Yet this week we were blessed with a new single from Elise Okusami titled “Part Time” and much like my favorite track, “The Last Summer” from last year’s remarkable Nothing’s Ever Fine LP,“Part Time” is already sounding like a front runner for THAT song that’s just perfect for hanging with friends, chilling out and enjoying summer fun.
Opening with a bouncy bass and drum beat the song immediately makes you want to dance. The rhythm section is soon joined by a synthy keyboard riff which brings to mind a rollicking yet subtle farfisa feel. And when Elise’s distorted guitar takes over during the chorus, I dare anyone, be they standing or sitting not to be rocking back and forth to this one. Cowritten by Okusami and Cheekface’s Greg Katz, “Part Time” sure sounds and feels like a great summer of ’23 hit. [RR]
Onesie– What You Kill. A thoughtful mid-tempo pop song about trying to survive the hellscape of late-stage capitalism, “What You Kill” is the first single from Brooklyn-based band Onesie’s third LP Liminal Hiss, due out August 18. The track shows off songwriter/guitarist/singer Ben Haberland’s jangly guitar hooks, including a very cool 80s-esque outro that gets more expansive and dancey. Haberland teamed forces with the Turkish artist Ertugrul Yaka to create the song’s video. Haberland says, “I loved the animated video he did for Julia Shapiro a few years back. When it came time to bring this darker Onesie song to life, I DM-ed Ertugrual and we started corresponding on the concept over a couple months. It’s ironic how our language and distance barrier was transcended by the very technology that can make us so miserable. His work really captures what I was feeling when I wrote the song.” [KB]
Palehound– My Evil.Queer artist El Kempner aka Palehound recently announced a brand new album, Eye On The Bat (July 14, Polyvinyl) and shared the rocking first single “The Clutch,” (read our thoughts). Now they have released the second song, which incorporates a video that uses the interesting framework of The Sopranos to come to terms with, as Kempner tells it, “the extremely humbling experience of realizing that yes, you are the asshole.”
“I found myself acting in ways I was ashamed of, and realizing how capable I was of hurting somebody when I was trying so hard not to. Sometimes when you try so hard to be a “good person” you’re actually swinging so far and recklessly that you make a full circle back to being a shithead. It can be very hard to forgive yourself, and this song is a portrait of that struggle for me.”
On the video:
“When I got the idea to make a video based on the intro credits of Tony driving through Jersey, I knew I had to do it with my friend Richard Orofino. He’s possibly even a bigger Sopranos fan than I am and he did an incredible job mapping out a lot of the original locations from the show, including Tony’s house that we see at the end of the video. This whole thing was super DIY, just me and Richard (and his camcorder) having the time of our lives and being embarrassing superfans. It’s not exactly shot for shot of the original but, to brag for a sec, I’m truly amazed at how close we were able to get it.”
They will also hit the road this fall in support of the album and play NYC on 10/19 at Bowery Ballroom. [KH]
Protomartyr–Polacrilex Kid. As an appetizer for their new album, Protomartyr have released a live performance of one of its tracks (and part of The Marty Singer Telethon), with the band surrounded by a chaotic complement of clownish characters. “Polacrilex Kid” features a rolling, unrelenting drumbeat punctuated by spiky guitar and singer Joe Casey’s half-yell as he states “I’m back” and asks “can you hate yourself and still deserve love?” Casey says the song was inspired by “the quit smoking/start smoking again tilt-a-whirl—the song title is a reference to the chemical name for nicotine gum. Formal Growth In The Desert will be out June 2nd on Domino, and Protomartyr will play two shows at the Bowery Ballroom on June 15th and 16th. [CW]