I full on admit that FTA has woefully been missing the boat on covering singles, not because we didn’t want to, but because I kept telling myself “oh it’s a lot to keep up with all that is coming out on a regular basis and then review it all” which I (not so) deep down knew was just an excuse and a pretty weak one at that. But as far as new year’s resolutions go, I knew I wanted to make sure I was writing at least something every day (which I had fallen off doing the last few months) and besides that, I made another one to explore more new music in general just so I could broaden my own horizons and get to know more outside of what I was already listening to and discovering… which as far as things go, actually is a lot overall but I still felt like I was a step behind on keeping up with new releases or checking out enough new/new to me artists. Worthy resolutions for sure and ones that also meant by extension, the blog would benefit by no longer missing this proverbial boat because too much great music was passing us by and there really is no good reason for that. Besides, there is a certain beauty in a listicle and who doesn’t love one, so why not use the format to talk about new songs? Good idea right? RIGHT!
And so here we are! For right now, this is just me, myself, and I spouting some rapid fire opinions/thoughts/nerdy anecdotes on new stuff that came out over the previous week that I gave a listen to but the other contributors may eventually share thoughts too. Expect this post every Friday (so singles released that day will be included in the following weekly post) and don’t be shy to send suggestions on things you heard that you think we should check out too or to send in your material as well.
Now let’s get on with it, some singles I heard and enjoyed over the course of the last week…some are by artists I already loved and a few were new explorations/discoveries for me. All get my seal of approval for whatever that may be worth. Read on!
Allegra Krieger– Taking It In. Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Allegra Krieger has released the first single from her upcoming album Precious Thing. Featuring a conversational melody in the verse, Krieger has said the song is about “holding onto a moment in time.” The song is anchored by a repetitive and wistful ear worm in the form of a folky finger picked guitar line and the song begins with just this and Krieger’s voice. Soon other instruments peek around the corner and start to layer over top to build up the song- but never to a sweeping crescendo or intense level which is fine, I can definitely do mellow. The song is far too well produced to be considered bedroom pop, but it has a little bit of that undercurrent and I can see it appealing to fans of the style. And full disclosure, I had been completely unaware of Krieger’s music before I discovered this via Northern Spy‘s Instagram page on the day it was released and what a happy accident (of sorts anyway). The full length is due out 3/4 on Northern Spy and I’m very ready to explore more of what Krieger has to offer.
Cloakroom– Fear of Being Fixed. The new album, Dissolution Wave, by these heavy shoegaze greats is set to drop in just two weeks (1/28 on Relapse Records) and the third single “Fear of Being Fixed” came out this week along with a new video (watch here). This band is known for their dirgy, sludgey riffs and to me have combined the best parts of two of my favorite 90s bands, Hum (the giant guitar sounds) and Catherine Wheel (the vocal melodies), to create a sound that I want to return to again and again. You can bet I’m highly anticipating this album and their return to NYC.
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat– This Thirst. The first time I saw Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, they were still in their earlier bass/drums duo form with Schrader singing and simultaneously beating the hell out of a floor tom at the late great Death By Audio. Though the band is still made up of the core duo of Schrader and bassist Devlin Rice, they have grown significantly in terms of sound since then, adding a full drum kit along with other instrumentation. “This Thirst” is the first single from their upcoming new album Nightclub Daydreaming and is a groovy retro rock jam, featuring guitar and piano along with a jazzy twist on Schrader’s signature baritone lilt. The album is due out 3/25 on Carpark and the band will next play Brooklyn on 4/23 Union Pool. (I am torn between this show and El Ten Eleven the same night….this is going to be a very hard one to decide!) Watch the video below:
Frank Turner– A Wave Across A Bay. Frank Turner’s new album FTHC is due out 2/11 and ahead of it, he released a new single, this poignant tribute to his friend Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. Directly addressing Hutchinson throughout in the lyrics, Turner said this about the song “I still miss my friend Scott everyday. His passing left such a huge hole in so many lives. I wrote this song in his honour and memory” continuing that the song was “hard to write and record.” I got emotional even on the first listen through so I can only imagine being in the writing process and putting those emotions temporarily aside to lock it down in the recording studio- surely not an easy task. The song is on the new album and will also be released on a special 7 inch with proceeds going to Tiny Changes, the charity organization created in Hutchison’s memory to help those with mental illness. (See pics from Turner’s fall run of shows in NYC/NJ/Philly.)
Keefchamber– Blaze The Lord. I discovered this band at a house show this past summer (actually it was a garage. See pics here) and was immediately in thrall of them. Doom, sludge, blackened stoner metal, this band is a two piece bass and drum outfit but even without guitar, they have a wall of sound 10 feet thick. I’ve always been a massive fan of bass and drums (meaning the instrumental pairing, not the electro driven genre) and generally go for things a little more on the punk side of the spectrum but definitely will fuck with stoner metal so these guys easily snared me before the first song they played even ended. In my review at the time, I said they reminded me of a slower and doomier godheadsilo, which is an assessment I still stand by. I thought this was an instrumental song at first but then I realized there were vocals that were very low in the mix. I’m not sure if this is an intentional thing or not, but thinking about it after subsequent listens, it would seem that it was since it’s almost a darkly ethereal presence floating around somewhere in the distant mist of the song and it does augment the cataclysm swirling around it. Take a listen below and be the judge on that:
Los Bitchos– Pista (Fresh Start). Los Bitchos were a 2020 quarantine discovery for me and on the strength of their live KEXP performance, I was immediately hooked on their infectious cumbia inspired jams. I admittedly need to explore cumbia more in depth as a genre but I am a big fan of instrumental music overall which is what initially attracted me to their sound. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a full length, as they had not much in the way of available material at the time I discovered them, just a few singles that have since been taken down from streaming platforms to make way for the new album. But now the wait is almost over and their debut full length, Let The Festivities Begin! will arrive 2/5 on City Slang. The record was produced by Alex Kapranos (of Franz Ferdinand) and will feature a number of the songs from the KEXP session with other previously unavailable tracks and the band will embark on a UK/European tour soon after; hopefully fall 2022 will see them head to the States.
(And for those who are supreme punk nerds like me, you might be interested to know that Bitchos drummer, Nic Crawshaw, is also the drummer of Dead Arms, who are one of my favorite UK punk bands. Which of course also makes her even more impressive behind the kit when you hear the full range of her versatility as a drummer/percussionist.)
Mitski– Love Me More. This is the latest single from Mitski’s anticipated new album Laurel Hell (out 2/4 on Dead Oceans) and is a pure new wave inspired bop. Being a child of the 80s, I really couldn’t help but imagine myself zooming down the highway, wind in my hair circa 1986 with this song blasting on the car stereo.
Placebo– Try Better Next Time. A midtempo straight up rocker, I was a bit unsure about it at first and thought it sounded a little middle of the road for this band (a band I really love by the way), falling a little flat of my expectations. But a few more listens and I warmed up to it, Brian Molko’s signature warble and the driving bassline thawing my initial indifference. This is the latest single from the upcoming album Never Let Me Go and is now paired with the two previous offerings “Surrounded by Spies,” and “Beautiful James,” each song landing on a different feel. Given that each song seems to have it’s own vibe going on, I’m very interested to hear what the record sounds like and how it will coalesce into a full album.
Sasami– Say It. I admit I am pretty late to the party with Sasami. Before I heard this song, I had never really give her much of a listen, but lately I seem to be seeing her name all over the place so I told myself okay stop right now and give this artist listen. (Remember the resolution about broadening my horizons? Here it is in action.) I realize now it was a pretty foolish move on my part to not listen to her sooner but now that I have, I plan to get caught up quickly and have already started. After finally giving a critical listen to her when this single came out last week, I dug into her 2019 self titled debut which is firmly in the indie lane, while this newer material that is part of her upcoming album, Squeeze, is very markedly not. The material that has been released thus far has a harsh, driving, and riff heavy electro metal edge that at times is straight up shredder vibes (“Skin A Rat,” “Sorry Entertainer”) and at others is more industrial in feel (“Say It”).
I have to say, despite being a brand new fan of really mere days, I am still very surprised to hear the transition and wonder what long time fans made of it. I certainly enjoy the heavier sounds very much and think it’s an exciting direction for her to go in. All that being said, there is also the fourth song that was released, “The Greatest,” which so far (to me at least) is a real wild card in that it is not a metal jam at all, rather a solid alt rock song, so what the rest of the album is going to be like is anyone’s guess. But one thing is clear, a very adept, talented and surprising song writer was at the helm and this is going to be a very interesting journey once the rest of it arrives on 2/25.
Soul Glo– Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)((by the future)). This crucial Philadelphia hardcore band signed to Epitaph in 2021, and this week released the first single from their upcoming full length on the label, Diaspora Problems (out 3/25). A blistering hardcore ripper, huge lightening fast riffs chug alongside drumming that may be tempting to call frantic… which, granted may be outwardly true, but that is hardly a bad thing and most definitely doesn’t mean drummer TJ Stevenson’s execution isn’t incredibly precise and expertly controlled all the way through; they have some serious chops, making this drummer (aka me) a little (aka a lot) green with envy. Vocalist Pierce Jordan binds these musical elements together with rapid fire lyrics and screams and in fact is one of my favorite current punk vocalists, seamlessly fusing screamo style and a nimble hip hop flow into his delivery. And if this is just the first taste of the body of work to come, I absolutely can’t wait to get a listen to the full album in March. Watch the video below:
TVOD “Steady Crushin” ft. Chauncie Shamoni. One of Brooklyn’s most exciting live acts, TVOD has also been busy in the studio, first putting out the EP Victory Garden at the end of 2021 (one of my favorite releases of the year) and now has headed into 2022 with a brand new single “Steady Crushin.” A slightly more subdued offering compared to some of the other material, Shamoni provides the main vocal during the first part of the song with TVOD lead vocalist Tyler Wright not appearing until the halfway mark of the song. The two alternate lines from there on out as the music rises and reaches it’s crescendo with a brief synthy and guitar driven outro bringing the track home, one which I really can see turning into an extended jam session live. And speaking of that, I for one can’t wait to rock out to this song at a show (their recent January show was postponed and has been rescheduled for 3/2 at The Sultan Room. Tickets here).
Here we are, the very last day of 2021 and it was…a year. Ups and downs, ins and outs – suffice it to say, it was a pretty wild year. And throughout that year, A LOT of incredible music thankfully came into the world to help anchor us when times were hard and uplift us even more when times were brighter; I myself don’t know where I’d be without some of these releases. To celebrate this weird and wild year, I asked everyone on the FTA crew who wanted to contribute something to send in their lists on what moved them this year.
These lists come from each individual contributor as their own, so they serve more as personal snapshots into what we were all listening to and loved rather than a definitive list as one monolith called Full Time Aesthetic. We all have different tastes and things we love and we all bring just a little something different to the table to coalesce into our own slice of music nerddom on the internet. This blog truly is a sum of its parts and I am so lucky for everyone who contributes to it, all of whom have chosen to do so graciously and passionately, in fact that’s what makes me the proudest and most excited about FTA.
And while it’s true there have been many ups and downs as the world of music continues to navigate the pandemic, and even with things taking a darker turn again this last month with things being very precarious once again, I am very much looking forward to seeing what 2022 brings. I am hopeful for the world of music in both the DIY sense (which is where you know my heart always has and always will lay) and into the indie rock realm at large, that more incredible and vital music will be released and that somehow, some way we will be able to enjoy that music live. But you know that no matter what happens, this rag tag band of music nerds will be sharing plenty of our thoughts about music new and old with you.
Also on that note, I’d also like to say on behalf of all of us, thank you for reading this blog and supporting us in the first year of our existence. This project started out around this time last year as a pretty random idea I tossed over to Jenifun and it lived just among the two of us for quite a while. We spent some time getting it ready to go before it launched at the very end of June and we are just about seven months old now. The amount of amazing support in that time has been incredible and while there are still a lot of goals I have for this project, just where we have gone so far and the talented group of people contributing to it have made me beyond happy and grateful. So now, without further ado, our favorites releases for 2021!
All lists in no particular order/ranking, again it’s stuff we all really loved and that resonated with each of us. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Like many people, I had plenty of time on my hands during the early days of the pandemic. But instead of learning to make soda bread, I filled that time with a lot of music; Metz was one of the bands I listened to the most. I’d dig in for hours extensively on their back catalog, and then dove right into Atlas Vending when it was released in October 2020 (they were in my top five Spotify artists for both 2020 and 2021). And while I did very much enjoy seeing their KEXP at Home performance featuring songs from the album that aired in late 2020, I knew I definitely wasn’t going to be satisfied until I saw those songs performed live in front of me. But at that point, who knew if or when that was going to happen?
Flash forward to now, the very tail end of 2021, and I finally got that chance. I’d seen them twice before (see my pics from their 2018 boat show and OctFest 2019) and both times I left totally sated but at the same time still wanting even more. This is not a bad thing by any means, rather that they blasted me with such a wave of blistering and potent noise that I just wanted to keep that feeling going as long as possible; I found the same thing happened after this show as well. (And I do regret not going to the second night of this NYC run at Bowery Ballroom, but such is life when you happen to work in a music venue and don’t get many nights off to go to shows for fun instead of work.)
The trio was in top form as they took the stage, ripping relentlessly through a set spanning their four full lengths, of course most heavily hitting songs from Atlas Vending. They opened the set with the first five songs on the album before shifting to older material and a few other AV tracks, closing out with “A Boat to Drown In,” playing an extended jam (as on the album) before leaving the stage and not returning for an encore. In a set entirely filled with heavy hitters and highlights for me, I have to say I definitely enjoyed hearing the new material most but was also pleasantly surprised that they dipped all the way back to their 2012 self-titled debut with “Wet Blanket,” “Headache,” and “Get Off,” all favorite tracks. While I do wish they’d have gone into more of Strange Peace (honestly, they could have played the entire album and I’d have been pleased as punch), they did play “Mess of Wires,” which is also a big favorite that I was very stoked to hear.
Hayden Menzies is a total powerhouse on the kit and one of my favorite drummers (and visual artists); I loved watching him play
The openers for the night were FACS, who I had been completely unfamiliar with prior to this show, and who totally blew me away; I absolutely loved their set. Noisey/fuzzy/dark would all be perfect words to describe them and they also have the cheeky quips “almost Fugazi for goths,” and “Dub Like Jehu” in their Instagram bio, which regular readers will know had me saying “sign me right up for that!” I am planning to do a binge listen to their catalog to get myself up to speed before the next time they come back to NYC. As of right now, the band doesn’t know when that will be, their singer/guitarist told me after the show that they are recording in April and other than that have not made further 2022 plans. One thing I do know for sure is that when they do make it back to NYC, I will be there.
Preoccupations filled the middle spot of the night for a little bit of a sonic shift to more darkwave post punk territory between the two straight up noisier bookends of FACS and Metz. I had seen them in 2019 when they opened for IDLES (see pics I shot at that show for BrooklynVegan) and while I do admit I’m a more casual listener to their music, they put on a great set both times I’ve seen them.
This show came right in the middle of an incredibly busy time for me and it was my only night off in a two week timeframe, but I knew I had to carve out time to make sure I was there no matter what, and I am so glad I did. Metz is a band that continuously and welcomely challenges me as a fan and is at a creative level unmatched by so many others who try and fall short. I never get tired of listening to them even after hundreds of times now having heard those songs. This night was exactly the noise punk oasis that I needed to recharge my spirits, lifting me up to get me to the finish line of 2021. I know I wasn’t the only person who left the venue that night already excitedly looking forward to when they come back to town (hopefully) in 2022.
Watch Metz: Live on KEXP At Home performance (I also caught up with the rest of their KEXP performances on YouTube during the pandemic which I definitely recommend you do too.)
Metz setlist: Pulse, Blind Youth Industrial Park, Mirror, No Ceiling, Hail Taxi, The Swimmer, Wet Blanket, Framed by the Comet’s Tail, Mess of Wires, Sugar Pill, Headache, Get Off, A Boat to Drown In
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
We all need a midweek pick me up sometimes and what better way to get it than with some in your fucking face rock n roll??? I personally can’t think of a better way. Finding myself in the middle of a busy week, I was more than happy to leave all of that behind and enter into a rock oasis with Bat Fangs on a Wednesday night, with a nice shot of experimental alt noise from Beech Creeps to sweeten the deal.
This is what the Don Giovanni website has to say about Bat Fangs and their origin story:
Born of a shared love of hair metal, partying, and the reckless spirit of rock and roll, Washington D.C./ Carborro, NC duo Bat Fangs brings a fiery combination of shredderistic guitars and heavily harmonized hooks. Guitarist/vocalist Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) and drummer Laura King (Mac McCaughan, Speed Stick) united after playing a show together in their respective projects, with the goal of pushing Wright’s pop focused songwriting in a bolder, brasher direction. Taking up the primary songwriting role and shifting to guitar, Wright steps outside of the typical Ex Hex sound with Bat Fangs’ rowdy rock.
Their sophomore LP, “Queen of My World” is a reeling, rocking mass of guitar and vocals that serves as both a reclamation and a reevaluation of a sound that was once a breeding ground for a particularly egregious brand of cock rock dude-bro. Paying tribute to the glam rock and metal sounds of their youth while offering a modernized alternative to an era of music that deified toxic masculinity as a core value, Wright and King represent a new model of Rock Stardom that’s less about the Stars and more about the Rock.
I really couldn’t have said it better. I have loved listening to their recorded output which absolutely encapsulates this feeling and so much more. But it’s in their live performances that you can feel the real “shredderistic” vibes coming at you and go for you they do, going right for the jugular in the process. Watching Betsy Wright play, the only thing going through my mind was not “riffs for days,” but rather RIFFS FOR CENTURIES, and ones which would have any of those cock rock dude bros green with envy. I am 100% here for it and breaking away from the hyper masculinity of rock stardom and making our own spaces as women creating music that ROCKS and makes you feel like you’re at an arena show in late 70s (not that I was personally there for any shows in the late 70s, but you get the idea). You get this in spades with Bat Fangs.
Bat Fangs at Union Pool
As if Bat Fangs set wasn’t enough, the cherry on top was getting to see Beech Creeps open the show. The trio features members of Guided By Voices, Ex Models, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and is an explosive and experimental alt rock noise collision. The sound could best be described as teetering right on the edge of chaos but never quite falling off, and for sure it was just what I needed. I am also a little sad to admit that this show was actually my first time seeing the inimitable drummer Brian Chase perform; It was truly something to watch him and a big highlight for me. He is such a dynamic and expressive player, though I do suppose seeing him up close at a venue like Union Pool was the real treat, because even if I had seen him previously with YYYs, I definitely would not have gotten such an intimate look at his playing. He does with a three piece kit and one cymbal what many drummers with giant kits can’t even come close to. A drummer among drummers, it was truly magical watching him play.
I was supremely refreshed after watching these two powerhouse acts play, not quite ready to return to “real life,” but more resolved to do it anyway and get through it with a bit more pep in my step at least. This is the true gift of great rock n roll, one that keeps on giving and giving.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Full disclosure: Fisty are some of my favorite people and closest friends (and also features two FTA contributors, Chantal Wright and Rebecca DeRosa as their rhythm section) so I was pretty bummed when I found out they were playing a show this past Saturday with a few other bands I’m friends with after I had committed to something else (but it was definitely a very good something else- another show- LAPÊCHE, Desert Sharks, and Russian Baths– so a lot of friends there too! See pics from that one here) and wished I could somehow be in two places at once. That was not to be, but as luck would have it, the first show ended much earlier than I thought it would so I rushed out the door of the first venue to hot foot it over to Wonderville to make it just in time for Fisty’s set (while sadly missing Que Sick, Jane Doe Ensemble, and The Loneliers all of whom are great bands and friends).
And what a set it was. With anime projected onto the stage, it made for a cool and weird vibe. The stage at Wonderville is very small and at times seemed barely able to contain the band as they ripped and raged through a set of their classic tunes, lead singer Lola Johnson going so hard she was practically shooting flames from stage (and bleeding on her guitar too). Johnson is a powerful vocalist in her own right and is often backed up by the harmonies of DeRosa and Wright; along with lead guitar accent work by Heidi Garton, the moments with all of these elements converging are when they are at their strongest.
This was an unexpected treat for me to get to dash over to their show when I thought I’d miss it and really, there’s never a bad time to be had when I’m supporting friends and great DIY bands, that I can assure you.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)