Pop punk greats and Brooklyn faves, Thick, have announced a new album, Happy Now, and along with it released the first single, “Loser.” The song is a catchy romp with crunchy guitars and sugar sweet harmonies, seeming at first to lament the woes of being a loser, but digging a little deeper, it’s more a song saying that it’s okay to be less than perfect and that you can find your strengths to shine no matter who you are or what other people say: “Do you think that I’m a loser? I love when people tell me I should quit,” summing it up perfectly.
The song comes with a hilarious new sports themed video that was directed by FTA contributor Jeanette D. Moses (who also directed the video for “Mansplain”) and features the band training hard for a softball game, pushing themselves to the limit while being egged on by their over zealous coach, played by Gillian Visco (of shadow monster) complete with a “There’s no crying in baseball” t shirt. If you squint behind the plate, you’ll also see more FTA crew talking smack (aka yours truly).
The full album is set for release on August 19 via Epitaph Records. The band will embark on a fall tour with Skating Polly to support the album starting September 7. Watch the video below.
In the life and times of Kate Hoos, few other bands have meant as much to me as Fugazi has. I’ve listened to them probably more than just about anyone else and being a serial completionist, I’ve also kept up with pretty much all of the various projects the members have done before and after the band—and not just the obvious ones that involve Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto like Minor Threat, Rites of Spring and Coriky. I’ve also listened to and loved the deeper cuts like Joe Lally’s work in Ataxia and all of his solo records (in particular the first two, There To Here and Nothing is Underrated), as well as Brendan Canty’s work with Lois Maffeo on The Union Themes. I’ve been invested in this group’s output for close to 30 years—be it together as a unit or as individuals or in collaboration with other groups of people. All of which led me to standing on the outdoor patio of Union Pool under the threat of impending rain (that fortunately didn’t arrive until much later) to see Canty and Lally performing in their latest creative venture together, The Messthetics.
While I’ve been a long time fan of the work of Canty and Lally, this was actually my first time getting to see either of them perform, bad timing and circumstance always finding ways to keep me from shows at previous points. (And yes, I am old enough to have seen Fugazi play, things just never worked out.) To say the wait was well worth it would be an understatement. Particularly to see Canty playing up close—and with a much busier and more intricate style than he employed in Fugazi—as well as incorporating his signature ships bell much more often, it was a true delight for a fellow drummer to see. And to witness the rock solid connection of this rhythm section was truly unparalleled. They have a musical bond that runs back over 35 years and is as deep and unwavering as any I have seen.
But though I love Fugazi, they are not the only link/attraction to this band for me because as some readers may or may not know, I also love experimental and instrumental music. Guitarist Anthony Pirog rounds out the trio and is a major figure in the jazz and experimental scene in Washington DC, adding many layers of rich nuance and colorful complexity to the air tight rhythms laid down by Canty and Lally. I’m not as well versed on jazz I admit, but I have in more recent years explored a little bit more from that world and more avant-garde genres, so getting to see his otherworldly guitar skills was also quite the treat. Pirog may just be the personification of “play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell” mentioned by Chuck Berry In “Johnny B Goode,” since he makes it look entirely effortless while he does things many other guitarists (including this one) can only dream of.
They have a sound that is hard to nail down as rock, jazz, and post hardcore elements are all there, with of course a strong experimental bent, and I even hear perhaps a bit of a surf vibe in the main driving riff of “Serpent Tongue.” Suffice it to say that there’s just a lot to sink your teeth into and despite the pedigree and depth of the three musicians involved, no single element overshadows another and it all blends together in a seamless and entirely unique to them way. I was pleased in particular when I first heard them that they chose to keep the band instrumental as there is just such a special and unique quality to instrumental music in general, regardless of genre or style. I love getting lost in it and applying my own feelings and emotions to the sounds I’m hearing rather than having a road map laid out for me by a lyricist.
They played a set that was a mix of songs from their first two records 2018’s The Messthetics, and 2019’s Anthropocosmic Nest, as well as some new as-of-yet unreleased material. Special guest saxophonist James Brandon Lewis joined them for the beautiful and lilting “Once Upon A Time,” and for the final untitled song which was also new (referred to as “New Single” on the setlist). With the inclusion of that new music, one can hope that a third album is already in the works and will arrive sometime this year.
SAVAK opened the show and really were the most fitting band that could have done so with their own links back to the Dischord/DC scene. They have almost as impressive a resume as The Messthetics, featuring former/current members of Holy Fuck, Obits, the Cops and Edsel. To add to that, James Canty (aka Brendan Canty’s younger brother) filled in on drums and comes with his own long list of musical accomplishments, having played with The Make-Up, Nation of Ulysses, and Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. They always put on a great set and I was happy to hear a lot of their newer material from their latest album, Human Error/Human Delight, which was released this past April. They also hit one of my favorite of their songs, “I Don’t Want to Be Defended,” which appears on their 2017 album Cut-Ups.
I don’t tend to use words like “heroes” when I think of the musicians I love and respect the most, that feels trite at the end of the day and frankly abstract. But if I were going to use words like that to describe any musicians, the four members of Fugazi would be deserving of that title. Their music and their message shaped so much of who I am and it was a dream come true to see even two of the members perform in such an intimate setting. Even more so, it’s wonderful to see when musicians are humble and all around nice people and don’t feed into egotistical notions even when they could. I say this because I was introduced to Joe briefly by a mutual friend and he graciously chuckled when I joked that I had “maybe listened to an old band he was in once or twice” and I saw Brendan chatting with quite a few fans as he packed up. They didn’t go hide in a green room, they were out interacting and engaging with folks before and after their set. As a fellow musician I know how taxing that can often be, but as a fan I always appreciate it. There’s no bones about the fact that this show was a special day for me and one I won’t soon forget.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Long running electro hard rock duo, The Kills, made their return to NYC this past weekend, playing some of their first shows since 2019. These dates—along with a trio of shows on the West Coast (including two headline dates and one opening for Jack White)—were in celebration of the recent deluxe re-issue of the 2005 album No Wow. The time away did nothing to slow the band down and they gave a powerhouse performance built off of the undeniable chemistry of vocalist Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince, keeping their fans locked in rapt attention with a palpable excitement buzzing in the air. They played a robust 15 song set made up of many songs from No Wow along with fan favorites from other albums, including one of mine, “Doing It To Death,” and then returned for a four song encore to close out the night.
This was actually my first time seeing The Kills play live, as I admit I was a bit of a late comer to their music, and after that I somehow always missed their shows here. But I wasn’t a stranger to Alison Mosshart and her work, as I first became aware of it all the way back in the late 90s via her pop punk band during that time, Discount. I saw them play a DIY show in NJ in late 1999 (it may have been early 2000, my memory is a little hazy on the exact timing) so it is a unique thing to be able to see one performer that early in their career and then again 22 years later, and to witness the growth in that time. Mosshart commands the stage with her slinky, smooth voice and her fervid dance moves, playing perfectly off the sultry guitar riffs that Hince lays down.
I definitely took a moment to think back to that earlier show a few times between songs, and the more reserved front person I saw at that time, and just became enraptured with the joy in seeing the exceptional and engaging performer on stage before me now. I have also very much enjoyed her vocal delivery in The Kills far more than I did in her Discount days. And not that they were a bad band, they were not by any means. But The Kills are much more my speed than pop punk these days and I must say the sound/style absolutely suits her much better as well.
“Doing It To Death”
“Fried My Little Brains”
Brooklyn post punk band Bodega opened the show and they are always a fun time, getting themselves and the audience riled up for the party. Playing many of the songs from their latest release, the stellar Broken Equipment, they did indeed get the audience riled and ready. Drummer Tai Lee is a sight to see, putting 1000% into their performance each and every time and I found myself having to remember to watch the other band members and take photos of them too. They will return to Brooklyn to play a headlining gig at Brooklyn Made on 8/27.
This show was one of the highlights of the first half of 2022. Let’s just hope another 20 years (or even three years) doesn’t pass before I’m able to see this captivating duo play again.
Setlist: No Wow, U.R.A. Fever, Murdermile, Kissy Kissy, Impossible Tracks, Rodeo Town, Baby Says, Love Is a Deserter, Telephone Radio Germany, The Last Goodbye, Black Balloon, Hard Habit to Break, Doing It to Death, Pots and Pans, Monkey 23
Encore: Heart of a Dog, At the Back of the Shell, Future Starts Slow, Fried My Little Brains
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Hello and welcome to FTA’s list of what we are excited for this Bandcamp Friday, aka every music nerds favorite day! A few of us weighed in on what we’ve been into lately and we’ve got a nice selection goodies we think you should check out. This Bandcamp Friday is in honor of Juneteenth and will mark the 3rd year that the company will be donating 100% of their share from downloads to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (read Bandcamp’s full statement). BC Friday will skip August before returning September 2nd, and following through on the first Friday of each month until the end of the year.
Tell us what you dug and what you downloaded in the comments.
Kate Hoos- Editor In Chief
BLKVAPOR– Vaporising. There’s a lot to BLKVAPOR’S sound—emo, punk, noise—and it all coalesces into something that is uniquely them. This Baltimore based outfit also puts on an explosive and enthralling live performance and are without a doubt a band you need to be keeping your eyes and ears on.
Keefchamber– DIMO. I saw this two piece sludgey doom metal band last summer at a house show in NJ and they shook the fucking walls from start to finish. There may only be two of them, and no guitars in the band, but their sound is gigantic, a slow and demanding dirge that relies solidly on droning, heavily distorted bass lines. They also make no bones about their love of green, with many of their song titles and artwork referencing the bud. At least a few times a month ever since that show I’ve wondered aloud “when will I get to see this band again?!” and would very much like to change my drought in having seen them again this summer. They have scant few releases online but I’m also hoping that changes soon too.
Sons Of Kemet– Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do. This formidable UK jazz group recently announced that they be “closing this chapter of the band’s existence for the foreseeable future” after they wrap up their 2022 touring commitments (likely because all four members of the group are busy with many other collaborations and solo work). While this is disappointing for sure, I am glad the members are continuing with a variety of other things and am especially glad I got a chance to see them a few months ago at Webster Hall for a spectacular night of expressive and contemplative jazz fusion. They leave behind a legacy of four exceptional albums, including this, their 2015 opus. They will play their final NYC show on 7/31 at Central Park Summer Stage.
###– Nasilno. I very recently discovered this Croatian instrumental post hardcore/noise/atmospheric rock band via a music group on Facebook. While it’s not good for much these days, Facebook does manage to come through in this department and I do enjoy the few groups I’m in on there to discover old and new things alike, this one being a big standout for me. I’ve long loved instrumental music and getting lost in the different textures and sounds in a way that I can’t find myself doing with music that contains vocals and lyrics. This is on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite releases of 2022. And if you were wondering how to say this bands name, apparently it is “pronounced” by hitting a random object three times.
Kevin McGann- Contributing Photographer
Failure– Wild Type Droid. This alt rock cult favorite from the 90’s is back on tour to support their latest full length album and will be playing Warsaw on Friday 6/24.
Fortezza– Windmill. Some post-punk garage rock courtesy of North Carolina and currently on tour.
GOAT– Requiem. Swedish experimental psych rock at its finest – GOAT’s last full length release.
Kapput– Carnage Hall. Glasgow 6-piece that combines post-punk percussive beats with keys, sax and swagger and have been touring with Squid.
Mike Borchardt- Live Correspondent
Bartees Strange– Wretched. Bartees Strange has received no shortage of accolades from the biggest press publications and successes on the biggest stages these past two years, and that’s simply due to the fact that he remains so damn authentic. “Wretched,” the latest single off his brand new record Farm to Table is just that. Bartees has always surrounded himself with people who keep him honest, and he reflects that right back to his audience with rich sounds and warm textures that are unassuming and just connect on every fiber of the human experience. It’s nerdy. It’s real. And it’s strange.
Ganser– People Watching. My earworm love affair with Ganser started a few years ago. As a fellow Chicagoan, I am partial to Chicago bands, especially when they are awesome. Their new single “People Watching” is dark and driving seemingly effortless and ambivalent in its catchiness. The angular movements poke and prod in all the right places. They’re the kind of band that makes you want to buy a t-shirt and continue to wear it long past laundry day.
War Violet– Get Away. From the imagination of Jummy Aremu, War Violet has evolved over a handful of years, functioning almost as a fly-over of the beauty and truth in musical experience. Compressing both time and reality, what once started as an almost 1960s Nico-esque folk solo project has expanded its sound to include a collective of orchestral textures on their upcoming record.
Anyways, Supercrush put out one of my favorite albums of 2020 with SODO Pop, and a couple of weeks ago they dropped Melody Maker, an EP which strictly speaking, simply does not disappoint. The band has a knack for hook infused catchy power pop and they do a fantastic job at sticking to the known formula that clearly works. Check them out.
Viper Club, the modern alt-rock outfit from Phoenix, AZ have released a video for their infectious new single “Come Thru” and we have your first look. The song will be on their upcoming release Club Mix, and has a gritty, sexy cool glam feel throughout, reminiscent of the 80s LA rock scene and more contemporary acts like Royal Blood.
The band had this to say about the song via a press release “At its core, it’s simply about connecting with someone and hooking up” The video was shot in Chandler, AZ, relying heavily on the visual aesthetic and performance shots instead of being more narrative, and was shot on film by Cory Davis of Yellowbox Films, a frequent collaborator with the band. Lead singer Jackson Vanderpol elaborated on this saying, “The raw, grainy aesthetic fit the vibe of the song perfectly and really ushered in the new era of Viper Club visually.”
Stay tuned for their record Club Mix which will be released later this year. You can keep up with all of the bands happenings on their Instagram page.