Extra Special- I Can’t Stay

Extra Special- I Can’t Stay

Extra Special “I Can’t Stay” (photo by Hayley Lohn)


Amelia Bushell (Grim Streaker and Belle Mare) is one of the more prolific and inventive songwriters of our generation. Her solo moniker Extra Special provides the perfect platform for her to occasionally step outside some of the character identities she’s created for herself in other projects and deliver a more honest and exposed slice of her experience.


The new single is a raw take on processing emotions and the meaning of life in the moments surrounding the wake of a tragedy. Bushell tells us “I wrote ‘I Can’t Stay’ shortly after my roommate passed away in the room next to mine. I spent a lot of time on the other side of that wall trying to process what had happened. All around me, life just seemed to continue on in the same way it always had. How could he have been here and then suddenly…not? It didn’t seem fair that someone so young and so cool, someone with so much potential, could be taken so quickly.”



Produced by Gary Arturrio at Studio G and featuring Louis Cozza on drums, the Brooklyn based Canadian songwriter has a beautiful way with words and melody that’s so uniquely specific (almost jarringly so at times) weaving between metaphor and direct imagery that perfectly construct the world of loss, and loneliness, and confusion.


Speaking about the influence of her roommate, Bushell explained “I desperately wanted something to escape to. Someone to talk to about life and death. And really wanted to get my shit together like they did. Turns out they didn’t have it together at all. I’ve had the space to reflect on that time in my life and I’m grateful to have music as a way of processing life’s hardships.”

This is the second single for Extra Special this year after the earlier release of “Reasons,” which has us really hoping there’s a new record on the way to follow up on 2020’s Lazy About It EP. But for now, spin the single and check out the back catalog of indie-pop tunes everywhere you stream music.




Premiere- TVOD “Mantis”

Premiere- TVOD “Mantis”

TVOD (photo by Jessica Gurewitz)


Fresh on the heels of the release of their recent single “Alien” (read our thoughts), and tearing back through our tympanic membranes like a siren, TVOD has landed back to earth and crashed its ship on the rocky shores of Brooklyn with a brand new single “Mantis.” “It’s the year of the mantis and everybody’s gone crazy!” This crunchy synth pop freak out party track has a bit of a classic retro sci-fi vibe that would feel quite at home on The Lillingtons’ Death by Television


The creature collective, that bills themselves as “more of a cult less of a band,” who are “hell bent on bathing in the blood of punk rock infamy” is led by monster front man, Tyler Wright, and features an all star cast of Brooklyn musicians from a myriad of other projects—Mem Pahl (Jeffrey Lewis), Lizzy Black (Fruit and Flowers), Jenna Mark (Tilden), Serge Zibrizer (Daddies) and Jason Wornoff (Vacant Company)—and as a group, they put on some of the most energetic and entertaining shows you’re going to find in New York or anywhere, really. Capturing some of that wild energy, the band hit the studio and are now in the midst of sharing a series of brand new singles, “Mantis” being the second release and we have your exclusive first listen to this dynamic new track!


“Mantis” (art by Secret Cobra Information)


Slightly spooky and just in time for Halloween, “Mantis,” is loaded with dark ear-worm hooks reminiscent of Hüsker Dü, Q and Not U and the secret Green Day side project, The NetworkComplete with sinister screams, groovy synths and a driving lead guitar line, the sing-along chorus will bore directly to the back of your brain and plug straight into your nervous system: “I’m in love with your body. I’m in love with the way you make me feel.


Said vocalist Tyler Wright on the track: “For a solid month, I was seeing praying mantises everywhere. It was the weirdest thing and since then, I have yet to see another one. I used them as the mascot for what felt like the end of times in NYC during the pandemic. Riding the subway home on March 14th 2020, when I lost my job, it felt like the entire world was about to explode, [and that] inspired a lot of the lyrics and tones in this song.”


TVOD performing

TVOD performing

TVOD performing

TVOD live (photos by Kate Hoos)


Whether or not 2022 is the year of the mantis, only time will tell. One thing though is for certain, Wright and crew are going to lure you in and then bite your head off. Listen to the song and watch the video directed by John Clouse below. 



“Mantis” hits all major streaming platforms on 10/26.


TVOD will perform on 11/5 at Alphaville with Jobber (get tickets) and release one more single before the end of the year. 


Keep up with the band on FacebookInstagram, Tik Tok and YouTube.


Venus Twins- RAXIS

Venus Twins- RAXIS

Venus Twins RAXIS


It’s no secret that I’ve been anticipating the release of the new Venus Twins album all summer, so when RAXIS finally dropped last Friday, it didn’t feel right to review it without going to the release show the next night at Alphaville. The Denton,Texas transplants—Jake and Matt Derting—are one of those bands that you just cannot truly experience entirely without seeing them live. They embody pent up unbridled young energy unlike anyone else in Brooklyn right now. It’s for that reason they are able to hold their own sandwiched between the intense fury of Bosco Mujo and the raw visceral showmanship of scene darlings, STUY. For any other band, that would be a death slot. But for Venus Twins, it was the perfect place for them to tear through their new record.


Cutting through the atmosphere like a machete in the jungle, RAXIS, opens with the whiplash stop n’ go movement of a six minute track “Falling On My Own Sword.” Chanting “6666667 6666666,” the dark lords of noise proceed to lay sacrifice at the altar of Venus brutally propelling the more structured but massive ripper “Return to Dust.”


Venus Twins performing

Venus Twins performing

Venus Twins performing

Venus Twins performing summer 2022 (photos by Kate Hoos)


The high octane twin blast/noise rock duo, are expert tension builders for sure. Every time you think “Mistmistmistmistmistmistmistmistmist” is about to boil over into total madness, they pull back the heat and allow the beat to simmer. The real prize however, if your ticker can handle it, is “God’s Machines.” Clocking in at over ten minutes, it is just as powerful and thunderous as its title would suggest. Providing very little room to catch your breath, the twins frantically weave in and out of time signatures with monstrous force. Only in the moments where there’s a brief lull, do you remember that you’re listening to just bass and drums. The rest of the time you’re hanging on for dear life as everything devolves into a wall of noise. 


To dust from bones and nuts to bolts, new record veers into some real sludgy jams but with lightning attack. It harkens back to the turn of the millennium anti-conformist sound of S.T.U.N., or the barely contained chaos of Hella with an undercurrent of early 90s The Jesus Lizard and bloodshot eyes glued to 120 Minutes at 2am. Whether subdued in the sparsely laid quieter moments tucked into the corners of “seeS recnepS” and “ANGEL32:35” or the rusted out metallic clinks and clanks that build and tear through like a tornado on “Light Catches the Rats,” Venus Twins have indeed swept in like fresh wind through the Brooklyn music scene and had a mob of kids on the the heels and tip-toes of their worn out sneakers.


I’ve said it before, but I think the sold-out RAXIS release show at Alphaville this past Saturday would only further continue to serve as a direct message to The Refused that Venus Twins are clearly the new Shape of Punk to Come. 


RAXIS is available now via all major streaming platforms.



Cameron Castan- Show Me

Cameron Castan- Show Me

Cameron Castan Show Me


If you’ve been paying any attention to the Brooklyn music scene at all the last year or so, you’ve probably seen Whiner frontman, Cammy Baby, go solo under their own name, Cameron Castan. That isn’t news. What is news, however, is that they recently released their long-awaited, much anticipated full-length debut, Show Me.


Also a member of the Baby & Dynamite duo project with Johnny Dynamite, Castan often exists in the overlapping world of Brooklyn indie musicians bringing back an 80s retro-vibe with a modern flair mixing a hybrid of electronic elements, synth sounds and live instrumentation.


But Castan is not Dynamite. Despite the proximities of shared projects, friendships, and current geographies, Cameron Castan is an artist all their own. Show Me deploys retro-sounding synth hooks and lo-fi basic percussion loops merely as a basic foundation to build some deeper lyrical themes buried within some darker pop bangers.


First single “Bright” got some attention back in the Spring when it first dropped, and I had the pleasure of catching them perform at TV Eye with Noah Swanson on live guitar while Cammy worked the crowd. Back then he told Bands do BK the song “represents that metaphorical ‘shutting out the light’ we all sink into from time to time…that feeling where you just wanna cut everything out that is going on in your life and the world around you and just vibe. I always find myself embracing the darker parts of myself and others and I wanted to try and capture that haunting nostalgic sound I see and hear as I lay down alone, close my eyes, and let my mind unravel.”



I’d say the rest of the record to some degree takes similar cues. Whether it’s kicking it with “Lucifer” or fading into the void with “Exquisite Corpse,” this record brings a beautiful splash of the macabre, casting a deep shadow across the work, allowing perfect little spaces for the light to poke through. Those brighter moments then carry a true weight and a force as “we’re all reaching out in the dark” for something better as Castan sings on “Thriving.”


Other times “Weightless,” a standout highlight (and yes all my cross-puns here are all quite intentional), Cammy really succeeds in striking balance between catchy pop magic and introspection of detachment, isolation, and loneliness.


Castan has already proven to be a songwriter of substance on record by way of Whiner’s catalog the last few years. But on Show Me, Cameron here has stripped back the dissonance of heavy guitars, and fuzzed out synths, opting instead for a leaner skeleton to lay his skin. I think coming out of the Whiner-verse is what sets him apart from other artists of similar style. Castan lures you in with catchy somber pop music, and by the time you realize you’re listening to something deeper, he’s already sunk his teeth into your heart.


Show Me is available now on all major streaming platforms.




Brook Pridemore- Glad To Be Alive

Brook Pridemore- Glad To Be Alive

Brook Pridemore Glad To Be Alive


I can vividly remember the night I met Brook Pridemore. It was many years ago in a shitty Brooklyn dive bar that’s now a shitty nightclub. Their stage banter was awkward and authentic. Brook shared their experiences regarding death, depression, and self-harm, with a seemingly singular focus simply to make sure no one in the room felt odd or alone. They played a song called “Guitar Bomb,” of which I’d later go on to pay lyrical homage in my band. Brook closed the set as they always do with “Thank you my name is Brook Pridemore from Brooklyn, NY”


But Pridemore, the Detroit native musician, is so much more. Internationally known, recognized across the US, and a pillar of NYC’s anti-folk movement, over the years I’d go on to hang out with Brook in countless basements and DIY spaces, stand on street corners and rooftops. We’ve played the same stages in numerous local venues, and we’ve shared meals and couches on tour. I’ve come to feel connected to them on a number of levels. Some obvious and some less so. Some we talk about and some we don’t need to.


But what’s far more interesting than any of my individual memories of Pridemore, is how their music impacts my collective experiences as a complex human being traversing this planet. Brook Pridemore the musician seems to be an endless mystery, a series of fascinating anecdotes sieved through different phases and prisms of perspective. Yet the human never wanders too far from completely relatable beyond expectation.


I’ve seen them acoustic and wired, solo and with a full band, but the one constant you will always get is a raw no-punches honesty quite unlike anything else you’ll come across in the Brooklyn music scene, and their new release, Glad to Be Alive, is no different. 



Almost Dylan-esque in its storytelling but with a Mountain Goats delivery, Pridemore’s use of imagery and rhyme (and sometimes lack thereof) is truly and uniquely their own. There’s a calm sadness that permeates throughout the record with lyrics such as “Sometimes I wanna leave the living, and I take a ride out to the beach. Wet sand could not be more forgiving. My problem not more out of reach,” from “Leave the Living”


There’s a wisdom to their words and and tenderness in their candor. Fans of Jets to Brazil’s Perfecting Loneliness era will appreciate the simple and delicate composition of hyper-specific detailed experiences that the same time somehow feel universal to the human condition. It’s romantic and beautiful and painful: “They’re lying if they tell you it’s a short life you’re living. It’s the longest thing that you’ll do… But the water wouldn’t take you away. It’s like you were determined to stay,” from “Charlie Watts”


Brook Pridemore

Brook Pridemore


Pridemore worked extremely closely with Ben Hozie (of BODEGA) on this project to get those rich textures with extremely stripped down instrumentation. Most of the record at its core is Brook’s signature acoustic guitar hugging the vocal. But the 15 track LP is dotted with blankets of fuzz, varied bass and percussion, and a lot of different elements on keys that completely define the tone of many of the songs.


They explained to Bands do BK that “Glad to be Alive was written in the (literal) dark and Ben Hozie and I brought it into the (figurative) light. The songs poured out of me at 3am (or later), like letting blood. Ben took the skeletal demos and transformed them into big pop songs. What was depressing/depressed became anthemic. If sad songs are nature’s onions, pop songs are nature’s caffeine pill. Most important to me, though, was the DIY aspect of Glad to be Alive. This is almost entirely Ben and I, working together in his bedroom on a simple interface. Making this record proved to me I can make a record at home, with just a couple of mics and a lot of ideas. The future of music is in our hands, and the future is now!”


It’s really hard to review this record by breaking it into its individual songs, it’s best listened to a collective whole. Not only are there A LOT of songs, but the LP unfolds like an autobiographical anthology of tales that tell a larger story of the artist. But even from the start, the title track sets the tone, laying out the verses to criss cross thin timelines between being dead and being alive. Sometimes the darkness is palpable, whether it’s in the haunting noises and jarring strings of “No Music” or through the prose itself of “The Man Who Tried to Kill Me.” Other times there’s a somber optimism and light of acceptance just short of regret: “I remember crashing east and west across your yard. The thing about Midwestern kids is that we make the most of it, and no one else goes even half as hard” from “Learned to Play the Drums”



To say Brook Pridemore is an interesting character is an understatement and a disservice. Over the years I have definitely found myself with more questions than I have answers. And they are the kind of person who would just tell you if you only asked. But even then, it’d still probably open up more questions for me. The longer I know them and the more I learn and more the I listen to their story through conversation and their music, the more I want to connect, and and the more I feel that connection straight into the center of my soul. 


Ever since that first night in that dark bar back in 2015, when I locked eyes with that odd fellow and we inadvertently became little pieces of each other’s strange stories, I can honestly say I am richer for having known them. Existence is strange that way. Sometimes we can play a small role in something that has a much more far-reaching impact in ways we don’t even consciously consider. At least one version of Brook Pridemore is glad to be alive, and I can honestly say I’m glad they are too.



Glad To Be Alive was self released and is available on Bandcamp and all major streaming platforms.