We here at FTA have been long time fans of the London based JOHN, the grungy punk duo of John Newton (lead vocals/drums) and Johnny Healey guitar/backing vocals). They have been mentioned in our Bandcamp Friday picks more than once, made our recent favorite two piece bands list and are always in heavy rotation at FTA headquarters, particularly 2019’s Out Here on the Fringes. They have toured extensively in the UK and Europe with the likes of some of our favorites— IDLES, Metz, and Mclusky— and I know I definitely have been anxiously awaiting my own chance to see them live over on this side of the Atlantic.
So you can imagine I was thrilled at the news that they will soon be making their “maiden voyage” across the pond and onto the hellfire shores of ‘Murica (with one Canadian date) for a 15 date tour this October, including a stop in New York at Saint Vitus for the final show of the run.
Along with the tour announcement comes a brand new song and video, “Trauma Mosaic,” which sees them pushing forward in the exciting new direction they began exploring last year with “Theme New Bond Junior,” (read our thoughts), and continues in this more subtle approach for the band. It’s not a totally radical shift though and they do stay true to the sound that is their foundation, but they have broadened the expanse of that sound and the perceived limits of a two piece punk band in the process. Newtown holds his signature growl back a bit to show off his vocal range nicely, the satisfying gruffness kicking in as the guitars intensify and the song hits the soaring choruses. I’ve loved getting to hear another side of this band who as it turns out, are just as great at pulling back and riding a feeling as they are as crafting rip roaring shout it out punk anthems. The song does just that, the last nearly three minutes spent on a building jam that hits a fever pitch in the waning minute before things settle down once more and we’re left to contemplate as the guitar echos away.
Newton shared about the song and video:
There’s a deliberate, claustrophobic repetition to the earlier stages of the song/video, which mirrors the very human tendency to obsess in cycles of thought — it’s certainly something we
both struggle with as individuals. If you take the title more literally, we all contain a patchwork
of images sewn together from the past, and these memories are used as a map of survival
within our present. These primal instincts seem overloaded nowadays, and we
become open to be haunted by even the slightest reflection.”
The song also comes paired with a video directed by Newton and the band’s long time collaborator Paul Grace. Watch the video below and scroll down for all North American Tour Dates.
Cool Kids Belong Together: A Tribute to “Fever To Tell” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (art by Dima Drjuchin)
Being a true music nerd who cut her teeth and cemented her music tastes/habits in the the 90s and early 2000s, I am a huge fan of a comp to tell a story—of a scene, of a label, of a moment in time—and a covers comp is perhaps the best way to tell the story of a landmark album and the impact it had on a city. And even more than that, the mark it made on the cultural landscape of DIY music within that city and how its legacy continues in the scenes that exist today because of it.
Just in time for the 20th anniversary of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut album, Fever To Tell—which was released on 4/29/2003—the Brooklyn music community has created just such a comp to pay tribute to, and tell the story of, the album and the creative seeds it sowed, inspiring countless musicians in the two decades since to blaze their own musical paths and forge unique sonic identities. Twelve bands in all have left their individual marks on each song from the now classic album, interpreting the songs in new and compelling ways, just as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did with their fresh retelling of rock music that ended a decade of grunge and nu metal, and helped kick off an indie rock revolution.
Jon Daily (who plays drums in Kissed by an Animal and sings in The Black Black) is instrumental in running the DIY spot East Williamsburg Econolodge aka EWEL which also serves as the nucleus for the scene that created the comp. He shared that the idea arose like many great DIY ideas do, when shooting the shit after a show: “A handful of us were just talking after an Econo show one night and the idea of putting out a cover album compilation came up. We thought it’d be a fun project and a good way for a bunch of us all to be on a record together. I always loved comps when I was younger and first discovering independent music. It was a great way to hear a bunch of bands and I would usually end up getting a full length from one or two of the bands on it. We wanted to do a record by a New York band that we all loved and that was perfect the entire way through. Kasey (from AVSE) suggested Fever To Tell, and we pretty much all went, ‘Yeah, that’s the one’.”
And thus began the process of coordinating the project, picking the bands and doling out the songs as well as recording, all of which speak to the commitment all of these bands have to DIY and the special place it holds in our lives. Working around full time jobs, partners, kids in some cases, and numerous other commitments, the bands all came together to make this comp a reality. Daily shared on the selection process: “We asked bands that were around Econo Lodge—hanging out there and playing shows there. Unfortunately there were more bands we wanted involved than there were songs on the album so we originally planned to ask other bands to do other YYY tunes, but the project started ballooning and we had to limit it to the twelve songs on the album. Hopefully we’ll do another comp soon and we can get more bands involved. Once we had all the bands on board we asked them to rank three or four songs from the album that they wanted to do. And then we just kind of mixed and matched to get to a place where we felt like everyone would be reasonably happy and where we felt like we’d have a cool mix of styles and approaches.”
The comp also got the blessing of the band and Daily told us that drummer Brian Chase was “very supportive and got that we were doing this from a place of love,” adding “I was really impressed that he listened to all of the songs and he seemed to be into it.”
Daily also related that the album was an big inspiration to his younger self and said, “Today, being an active musician in the DIY Brooklyn scene, and being a part of making this tribute, really feels full circle for me. While the records I make with my bands don’t have the impact that FTT did and don’t sell even in the same ballpark as that record did, the fact that I’m part of a community that can come together and make this record is mind blowing to me. If people take one thing away from this release, I hope it’s the power of community. There’s no way I could have done this by myself, nor would I have wanted to. It’s the support and the excellence of craft of the people in this community that made this happen.”
Perhaps most poignantly, he also reflected on the place of love that made this tribute possible and what it means to be creating DIY art and music in an increasingly hostile world, in a city that has so radically transformed—and not for the better—since Fever To Tell was released: “To me, the DIY ethos and the community around that is so important right now. We are living in a world that is increasingly dominated by global media. We are constantly inundated with incredibly talented people pushing their very highly produced entertainment at us with tons of money fueling that push. It’s very easy to feel like nothing we would make is worthwhile because it won’t be able to compete at that level. But it’s so important for us to express ourselves in creative ways, because if we can’t, that energy ends up coming out in destructive ways,” a sentiment anyone who has a creative bone in their body can surely agree with.
He went on to say “I find the act of creation to be incredibly soothing—it helps me feel worthwhile on this very crowded planet where it is very easy to feel not good enough and unvalued. I see the creation of art in a local community as part of a self fulfilling creative cycle. Just because I can’t write a song that gets a million plays on Spotify does not mean it’s not worth it for me to write that song. It’s worth it to me, and it’s worth it to the community that I live in, because it helps me feel good, and I use my own good feelings to support those around me to make their own art and so forth and so on.”
This comp is indeed full circle and beyond for the musicians who had a hand in making it, a true love letter from the DIY community of NYC. You can’t ask for a more fitting tribute than that.
Cool Kids Belong Together is available now for digital pre-order from EWEL Records and has also been pressed as a limited run vinyl edition for Record Store Day available in local shops or direct from EWEL.
And here we are with Part Two of our SXSW coverage! Be sure to check out Part One.
DAY 4 – Thursday, March 16th 2023
Thursday afternoon was a late start, beginning in the Red River District where we popped into The 13th Floor to catch Militarie Gun, an LA hardcore band that formed in 2020. Through their thrashes and screams comes a real sense of tenderness being conveyed by lead singer Ian Shelton.
The Plastic Picnic guys and I enjoyed some free hard seltzers at a random spot and then sought the promise of shade at Stubb’s, where Sunflower Bean was in the middle of their set. I realized the last time I saw them play was their EP release at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn in 2015. At that time, I had no idea who they were yet, but the friend who brought me was pals with Julia Cummings and promised a good show. There was even a little mosh pit. On stage in Austin, Cummings was wearing what looked like a horse hair collar around her neck, the words “unsigned” emblazoned in black across it.
Up next was a band I was unfamiliar with, but quickly learned were Austin darlings from the early aughts: Voxtrot. They are a five-piece indie band, somewhere between the sound of early Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys, that had reformed not long before SXSW. After breaking up in 2010, their set at Stubb’s was part of the reunion they started last year with a short East Coast tour that hit NYC in September 2022 at Webster Hall.
I next crossed over east to Low Down Lounge where my favorite identical twins were playing back to back sets with Die Spitz—a noise-punk match made in Hell.Venus Twins is comprised of only bass and drums, and Jake and Matt Derting are the only twins I know that lean into the whole telepathy thing. I first saw the two play at the Brooklyn DIY spot Rubulad just before the pandemic and have been hooked on their explosive music ever since. Their 2022 album RAXIS is a tight production but their live shows are a whole other beast. It makes sense that the brothers champion Venus, the hottest fucking planet in the solar system.
A SXSW highlight for me was getting to see Die Spitz up front and personal. It’s thrilling to recognize the band you’re watching is fronting the next wave of Kathleen Hanna’s and Joan Jett’s in the post-pandemic era. For a relatively new band where the median age is 19, this group of four is catching fire in the local Austin scene. The lead singer has the face of an angel and the voice of Satan. The bassist looks ecstatically possessed. The guitarist and drummer swap instruments effortlessly. What is it about this band that makes me think of blood? Fresh meat up on the industry chopping block? Or in the teeth of the very youthful, very hungry?
In any case, when Cyndi said girls just wanna have fun, I’m pretty sure she imagined a Die Spitz live show.
DAY 5 – Friday, March 17th 2023
Cheer Up Charlies made another easy day for me with their excellent line up of grunge, punk, and noise bands. Brooklyn-based Native Sun was a great way to start the day, these guys are notorious showmen and their midday set on the outside stage was jarringly loud—vicious for the hungover crowd. My eardrums have still never recovered from the last show I saw of theirs with my friend and fellow photographer Nico Potosme at The Dance before it closed for good in 2019. Watching frontman Danny Gomez lose it, you have to wonder what kind of toll it takes on someone to exorcise themselves over and over for their music. Of course shows like these are always the most fun to shoot; guitars being thrown, bodies rolling off stage…one man’s hazard is another man’s opportunity for a really exciting shot.
Model/Actriz played the outdoor stage again and with their tour dates selling out the way they are, I wasn’t taking a free show for granted even if I had seen them earlier in the week. That grinding bass detune Aaron Shapiro does was especially good this set.
Enumclaw was up next. A Tacoma band with excellent shoes and an honest sound, their tenderness caters to anyone with emo tendencies. You could feel the hometown angst dripping off their music and it kind of made me wish we were at a house show sipping warm beer from cans in the dark.
I tried to catch Gargoyle, a friend’s new EBM/synthwave project, at Hotel Vegas but got confused and lined up for the wrong indoor stage. Instead I caught the tail end of another Miss Grit set, but the happy coincidence kept me from queuing in another long line. Sorry Gargoyle, next time!
Avoiding said long line, I didn’t leave the room when the next band got on stage and ended up getting to see a really fun show by Le Couleur, a Montréal based band I hadn’t heard of before but belong side by side with French electro disco artist of a similar psychedelic caliber like L’Imperatrice and La Femme. The lead singer and keyboardist, Laurence Giroux-Do, had all the energy to match the Baltimore Ravens cheerleading outfit she was wearing and more. The crowd ate it up, welcoming the opportunity to finally get to dance like it was a proper nightclub, not a dive bar in the middle of SXSW. This was definitely the most fun show I saw outside of the punk/noise genre during the entire festival and it was a great way to end the night.
DAY 6 – Saturday, March 18th 2023
Dawn of the final day of SXSW. I couldn’t call it a slog, it was too enjoyable and too full of good musical surprises to complain about, but it did feel way longer than it actually was. I was glad to be on Plastic Picnic’s show schedule for the last day because having three sets already booked removed a lot of waffling over what shows to see.
First up, a twenty minute drive south to the Do512 Presents showcase at Far Out Lounge. While the band loaded their gear into the green room, I got to give my online friend Aarvi a big hug for the first time IRL. We connected over Instagram after realizing we had both been taking photos of Plastic Picnic at their 2019 show in the basement of the old Songbyrd Music House in Washington DC. After finding out we were both at SXSW earlier in the week we made a point to meet up at this show.
Aarvi was hyped for the band just about to play, an indie rock band called Personal Trainer from Amsterdam. I was impressed they managed to get all seven members on stage, let alone all the way from The Netherlands. Their music was somewhere between Cake’s kooky, Franz Ferdinand’s panache, and Pavement’s earnesty; the effect was an entertaining genre-bending whirlwind.
Plastic Picnic has been together for several years now, all past and present members are PNW transplants that moved to Brooklyn for music. Their shimmery sound is surf-pop dreamy and consistently about love, loss, or more often both. Despite this, the average person has been known to sway, or even occasionally dance to, their self proclaimed sad songs. They’ve been compared to The 1975, Tame Impala, and Alvvays. I know these guys too well to feel comfortable writing about them more extensively but their Far Out Lounge show was a well played set to a full room.
Afterwards I watched Sorry Mom, who have a ridiculously irreverent song called “I Fucked Yr Mom” that I was happy to finally see live. Their other tracks are more serious but still tongue in cheek, with a grittiness reminiscent of Le Tigre, GRLwood, and Destroy Boys. Their debut album babyface is being released May 12th of this year.
Before driving to Plastic’s next show in East Austin I caught the tail end of Dream Wife’s set outside. Classic, unapologetic femme punk at its finest.
The next stop was an outdoor show at Fair Market but the weather was weirdly cold and dreary at that point in the day. The venue was being sponsored by an energy drink called C4, most of which were too tooth achingly sweet to enjoy. Oh, and there was also no food, no alcohol, and no water available once inside the gates. The band had sound checked in the morning but to little effect; the sound engineer had seemingly deleted their settings. All these things led to a lukewarm showing for Plastic Picnic, but honestly, by no real fault of their own. Afterwards a few fans stopped by the stage to say hi and buy some merch before we were all quickly and unceremoniously kicked out of the space…but at least it was a paid gig.
After getting to Seven Grand, the last venue of the night, we watched a band from Chicago called Free Range play an acoustic-forward, very mellow set. In the vein of Why Bonnie and Hand Habits, their music is something I’d put on after getting home from a long day; quiet, intimate, and reliable.
Plastic Picnic played the last set of the night (and my SXSW experience) and it was a relief. The set went smoothly, there was a good crowd and I had fun shooting with a new filter. Our friend Nicole from NYC came to see the show and we all celebrated afterwards. I can’t remember how we all got home, but what matters is we did. The next day Plastic Picnic hit the road for Idaho’s Tree Fort Festival and I was left with a mild hangover and the gargantuan task of going through all 128 GBs of photos I had taken on my trip.
It was nice to end the marathon of bands I saw with some familiar faces. All in all, my first time in SXSW was great, if a little hectic. While I was grateful for the free badge, I don’t think having one is necessary. The unofficial shows are worth flying down for alone, especially if you have friends with you. I’m no stranger to going to shows solo, but after this I can really appreciate that the experience of live music Is better when sharing it with a buddy or two. After SXSW 2023, I now have a very long list of new music to listen to from different parts of the world, a roster of new friends, and a lot of photos I’m proud of to look back on. If you stuck around this long, thanks for reading!
Rebelmatic has the reputation of being one of the hardest working bands in NYC and it’s for good reason, this quartet is always staying busy and on top of their game. They almost single handedly kept the punk scene alive and thriving during the darker days of 2020 with their series of outdoor popup shows featuring some of the best and brightest local talents in NYC, giving a much needed outlet to a community of punks that was lost without shows and spaces to gather. They’ve kept their momentum up as the live music world has stabilized and also put out an excellent EP in 2022, Mourning Dove.
Listen to their latest single “Amnesia” below (read our thoughts) and scroll down for tour flyer and all dates.
5/1- Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
5/2- Dayton, OH @ Blind Rage Records
5/3- Newport, KY @ Southgate House
5/4- Bloomington, IN @ Nightshop
5/6- Green Bay, WI @ Lyric Room
5/7- Chicago, IL @ Moonrunners
5/8- Detroit, MI @ Smalls
5/9- Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant St
5/10- Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
5/11- Washington, DC @ Quarry House
5/12- Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
Hello and welcome to FTA’s list of what we are excited for this Bandcamp Friday, aka every music nerds favorite day! A bunch of us weighed in on what we’ve been into lately and we’ve got plenty of goodies old and new for you to dig into over a wide range of genres. But don’t take our word for it, dive into these tracks/albums and judge for yourself. Feel free to let us know what you think and tell us your suggestions.
Bad Waitress– No Taste. I went to see my friends Gustaf in the UK around a year ago and they were on tour with the Toronto based band Bad Waitress, who I had not previously been familiar with but who turned out to be the 90s throwback alt rock band of my dreams. Very much looking forward to seeing them in NYC.
The Dog Indiana– Burnt Ends. I’ve really been into heavy, noisy shit lately and this Vancouver, BC trio scratched that itch big time for me. Their new album Burnt Ends was released right in the middle of a really thorny and difficult time of loss and confusion for me; the sludgy riffs, mondo screams and bulldozing drums gave immediate sonic identity to how I was feeling, a rageful salve to help process some difficult and confronting emotions. Another Canadian band I need to head directly to NYC ASAP.
Happy Death Men– Famous Plane Crashes. I discovered this band very recently and once I heard the frayed riffs of “Kyle,” with its high distorted bass clamoring out on top while the vocals scream What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean? What the fuck do you mean? before the song skidded roughly to a stop, I was instantly hooked. This is their debut EP and while it just came out, my greedy ass is already ready for a full length. Let’s make it three for three and get this crew to NYC too.
Chantal- Contributing Writer
Chime School– Chime School. Hooky, jangly pop out of San Francisco.
Ossifer– Suppressed Mirth. Alt rock from “a trio of old school Tallahassee weirdos.”
In honour of Adwaith and Panic Shack recently playing SXSW/US dates (see our coverage from New Colossus Fest and SXSW), I have decided to prepare a Welsh list. | Er anrhydedd i Adwaith a Panic Shack oedd yn chwarae yn yr Unol Dalethiau dw i wedi dewis i baratoi rhestr o fandiau Cymreig.
Ellie Turner– When the Trouble’s All Done. I knew next to nothing when I stumbled upon Nashville artist, Ellie Turner’s most recent effort, When The Trouble’s All Done. Honestly, I still don’t know much about her besides the fact that she has put out an album that reminds me of sitting on the front porch with a couple of old friends, strumming guitars and singing songs on a warm summer’s night. Those times when you play through the mistakes, ignore the gaffs and just play for the sake of playing. That’s the kind of folk album that Trouble’s is. Recorded live in the studio, Turner says that her and producer Jack Schneider recorded the album direct to tape, playing each song until they felt they got the right take. In this case the right take might not have been the perfect case but in true unadulterated folk music, perfection is rarely a prerequisite but sometimes it just happens. Turner has succeeded with this collection in offering up a perfectly imperfect set of heartfelt, inspiring and moving folk songs.
Purling Hiss– Drag On Girard. I remember seeing Purling Hiss at the original Brooklyn Bazaar back in the day and being bowled over by Mike Polizzi’s ferocious attack on rock and roll. I’d go as far to say that back in 2013/2014 I freaking LOVED this band. And then pooof! They kind of fell off my radar to the point that I’d kind of forgotten them. Then low and behold out pops Drag On Girard and all those former feelings towards the band are back like they’d never been gone in the first place. There’s no new ground broken with this one but that’s just fine. Girard is the kind of album that sounds and feels like it was recorded literally in somebody’s garage. And that’s by no means a slight on what I hear. Quite the contrary, it’s a compliment to Polizzi and crew that they can still make in your face, tried and true garage punk rock with no pretentious posturing. Rock and roll the way it was originally meant to be, loud, rambunctious and rebellious. I can almost hear somebody’s father somewhere yelling from his recliner in the living room to “turn that noise down!” Fuck that, TURN IT UP!
The Reds, Pinks and Purples– The Town That Cursed Your Name. The Reds, Pinks and Purples is the latest incarnation of San Francisco musician/artist, Glenn Donaldson who has been putting music out in various guises for some 30 years now. He started releasing music under the RP&P moniker in 2019 and has released six full length LPs since then. This latest effort picks up right where last year’s Mountain Lake Park left off. Donaldson’s output with RP&P is always very cinematic in nature and this one is no exception. It’s melancholy and sweet and flows like a rose petal down a babbling brook in the springtime. It’s lush and ephemeral and at points just plain beautiful. As I’ve already mentioned with Donaldson’s prolific output and the cinematic atmospheric feel of each recording, I’m at the point where I like to think of the Reds, Pinks & Purples as the aural equivalent of a long running binge worthy streaming television series. With each LP building off of the last, taking you to places you’d not thought of before. This latest one proves that Donaldson has plenty more to say and do with this project and we are lucky that this is the case.
The Whiffs– Scratch ‘N’ Sniff. The Whiffs’ second LP proves that a band doesn’t have to be from one of the coasts to be making really good punk/indie music. Hailing from that hot bed of rock and roll, Kansas City, MO, The Whiffs’ new one is a straight up, in your face, hard edged punk power pop collection. They self describe themselves as “RIYL to The Rubs and The Replacements,” which I can’t argue with but to my ears, the sound the first sound I hear is that of former Brooklyn band Nude B