Shilpa Ray- Bootlickers of the Patriarchy

Shilpa Ray- Bootlickers of the Patriarchy

Shilpa Ray “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy”

 

New York-based artist Shilpa Ray has just released a timely must-listen with “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy,” a 2-song single featuring the title track as well as a remarkable cover of Ministry’s “Effigy (I’m Not An).

 

The beauty of Ray’s work lies in her ability to make straightforward music with striking social commentary and serious staying power. Ray wrote the title track specifically in reference to Senator Susan Collins and how she chose to benefit from the exploitation of other women. From her Bandcamp page, Ray explains: “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy’ was written about Senator Susan Collins and her infamous press conference after the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford hearings. It’s about women who succeed from undermining the success of other women or choose to gain success from exploiting the oppression of other women. This is a character who has taken many forms throughout history, the kind of woman who seems perfectly content playing Gamma to the Alpha male. “Bootlicker” is my direct challenge to the notion of “women supporting other women,” and the falsehoods and unrealistic expectations that comes with a statement like that.” 

 

The song starts out with a slow, soulful, and almost dreamy sentiment. Opening with the lyrics “Bootlicker Bootlicker/Bootlicker Bootlicker/I see you looking cute/with that life vest on,” Ray cuts straight to the point of criticizing her subject in an enamoring fashion. Her voice is strong and melodic, akin to the kind of vocalist you would hear belting her heart out in a jazz club. But Ray clearly has a lot of asses to kick and in “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy,” she uses her musical ingenuity to create a song that is both catchy and gets a searing message across. While the song starts out at a slower pace, it switches gears into a fast, 80s inspired electro-rock track halfway through with every lyric from the first half being repeated in a more urgent fashion before ending with a variation of lyrical repetitions and leaving the listener feeling just as outraged and disappointed as she is. “You think you can sell solidarity? Bitch, don’t patronize me/You held a press conference the day/you sold your sisters out.” As the singular vocalist on the track, Ray also needs no backing vocals to aid in the song’s composition or add to its effect.

 

Additionally, it is worth noting that “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy” is written in a way that avoids falling into a pit of cheesy political commentary. Ray is no stranger to incorporating current events and cultural signifiers into her work, as these are the pillars of her past releases. 

 

Shilpa Ray performing

Shilpa Ray performing (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

On the B side of “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy,” is a cover of Ministry’s “Effigy (I’m Not An),” which Ray rewrites as “I’m Not an Effigy.” The track is considerably less poppy than the original recording but is restyled in a manner that greatly complements the preceding single. Subject-wise, it’s fitting as the B-side to the single as it explores the topic of bodily autonomy with lyrics such as “You are the only person I know/I get you round to people who are on the go/Well you took me to a picture show/And what’s the first thing that I see/Them burning pictures of me head to toe, hey!” Ray’s voice is fitting for the cover, as she stretches her inflections and gets the message of the song across meaningfully and effectively and could very well be mistaken for an original if the listener were not familiar with Ministry’s work. The cover is also the first official recording with Ray on guitar, as she strums a variety of notes coinciding with additional vocals, screaming, and bass from Flossing’s Heather Elle. Brooklyn-based engineer Jeff Berner also contributed on the bass synth, tambourine, and Moog.

 

On choosing this song Ray elaborated: “Well, why not do a cover of your influences as a B-side? I was obsessed w/ the Ministry album ‘With Sympathy’ when writing tracks for my upcoming album. It is the record Al Jourgenson has stated multiple times that he’s ashamed of most, which is saying a lot considering this man’s autobiography. I teamed up with my friend Heather Elle of Flossing, formerly of post punk bands Bodega and The Wants for this collaboration. It’s my first official recorded track where I’m playing guitar, so as the saying goes, it’s never too late to pick up a new instrument and get totally lost in it.”

 

On the single’s cover is Ray, styled in a blonde wig with a contemplative expression, looking straight up as she dons dark red lipstick with her teeth not showing and her eyes affixed to the space above her, wearing visible mascara and light eyeliner. Tonally, she is tinted yellow against a red background, symbolizing or perhaps signifying how little things have changed over the course of the past several decades as there is a serious 50’s vibe going on with the aesthetic. And Ray, made up like a movie star, is ready to deliver the performance of her life, except just calling it a performance would be a great disservice—Ray is actually ready to kick some serious patriarchal ass.

 

If “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy” turns out to be part of a larger body of work from Ray, then it should be considered highly anticipated. Ray is really good at creating songs that are not only relevant but incredibly catchy and original. In 2021, her work is just as necessary as ever while still managing to encompass a sound that spans previous decades. Shilpa Ray is a force to be reckoned with and we’re lucky to be along for the ride.

 

Find Shilpa Ray on:

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

 

“Bootlickers of the Patriarchy” is out now on all streaming platforms via Northern Spy Records. The single is also available as a 7inch vinyl single pre-order (though due to the ongoing vinyl shortage, the records will not ship until August 2022).

Sub*T- So Green

Sub*T- So Green

Sub*T So Green

 

Fresh off two singles released earlier this year, Sub*T are back with a self-released four-song EP. So Green is a great sampler for the band, but works well as a release on its own without feeling thin. A two-piece consisting of opposite coast residents, Jade Alcantara and Grace Bennett, the band recorded the EP in Nashville with producer Alicia Bognanno (of Bully), although they are no strangers to trading song ideas and recorded parts online when separated by distance. According to an interview in Alternative Press, Alcantara and Bennett met online, bonded over music, and decided to learn how to play guitar so they could form a band together. 

 

The opening track on So Green, “Bruce Banner,” is a bit deceptive — more upbeat than the rest of the EP, with the refrain of “I was so green” a reflection on youth rather than Hulk-like anger. The real meat of the EP for me is in the other three tracks, less catchy and less straightforward, perhaps, but weightier. The clever, vulnerable songwriting brings to mind 90’s Guided by Voices by way of pre-Bob Rock Veruca Salt. Through fuzzy riffs and twisting guitar lines, the musical layers belie the two-piece nature of the lineup, and the vocal harmonies between Alcantara and Bennett are well-placed. (I have to hope that their live shows push the vocals forward in the mix, because I think they drive the songs.) 

 

Sub*T

Sub*T (photo by Kenzie Davis)

 

A highlight track is “Fur on Porcelain;” from the lines “I’m notoriously surrealist” and “am I just a found object”, one must conclude the title is a reference to Méret Oppenheim’s 1936 sculpture Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure), while the listlessness of the lyrics (“I’m willing, I am never able / always thinking, never saying”) point more at the impracticality of a fur teacup, and not the more erotic interpretations usually leveled at the piece.

 

There’s quite a bit of looking back here, both in sound and nostalgic lyrics, but Sub*T are poised to move forward with this first EP. Stream it on November 19 on Bandcamp or Spotify, and check out the band on YouTube. If you’re in Brooklyn, you can catch them with Been Stellar, Computerwife and Dinoboy at Elsewhere on November 21st.

 

 

 

Ernesto Hex- Stellar Vista

Ernesto Hex- Stellar Vista

Ernesto Hex Stellar Vista

 

Ernesto Hex’s Stellar Vista is a dynamic and adventurous record, offering many danceable beats mixed in with the occasional melancholic moment. Written during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stellar Vista alludes to some of the world’s darker days while still managing to create a limitless dreamscape.

 

Stellar Vista is comprised of eight songs and clocks in at 34 minutes and 19 seconds, with songs averaging around 4-5 minutes in length. Hex does an excellent job at creating songs that contain varied and unique tones, even throughout a single track, which is quite impressive. The album is opens and closes with songs that are upbeat and danceable, starting with “Babetown USA,” and ending with “Ultra.” Between those two tracks are six songs that shape Stellar Vista into a funky and enjoyable listen with plenty of moments for reflection, longing, and escape. 

 

The album opens with “Babetown USA,” a summery anthem-type song that is quick to draw in the listener with extremely catchy synth and a chorus about looking into the eyes of the person you’re with and having them look right back at you. “Summer! Summer!/We’re cruisin’ Babetown USA/Stunner! Stunner!/Court-side seats so we’re on display/I look in your eyes, you look in mine too/You wanna rule the world?/I’d fucking love to!” fills the song’s chorus and is perfectly sing-along-able. Danceable and airy, “Babetown USA” is not only super fit for summer but also makes a welcome listen in the cooler months of winter when a track like this is needed to brighten the day. 

 

The title track is the second song on the album and offers a more surreal experience, leaning heavily into synths and two kinds of vocal styles—slow and more serious in the beginning and then higher-pitched towards the end. Reflecting on tracking order, it also makes sense to place the title track right after the faster-paced opener to show the listener that this album is not going to be at all homogenous. There are several different themes and styles incorporated cohesively throughout the album that make it quite an enjoyable and refreshing listen. Given that this record was created during the pandemic, it is also worth noting that Hex did an excellent job at creating a body of work that manages to provide great breathability rather than solely reflecting upon the despair of the times. There is a bit of melancholy to be found in “Edge of the World,” though, as the song closes with a heightened repetition of “Now the world is on fire” after more slowly reflecting on the passage of time.

 

Ernesto Hex (photo by Thomas Kater)

 

For only being eight songs long, Stellar Vista does not rely too heavily on any one theme. Songs such as “Riley” and “More Than Yesterday” cover topics of love, with the former track being the funkier of the two and the latter serving more straightforward rock n’roll with guitars and keyboards. “OD on Sunshine” is a song about being out in the sun a little too long and “Children of the Night” offers some contrast with lyrics about how “the walls can hear you.”

 

The album closes with “Ultra,” a futuristic and upbeat song that features the use of robotic vocals and a complex combination of keyboards, synth, drumming, and guitar. “Don’t ever forget the ones who got you here” sings Hex along to an upbeat tempo that is just begging to be danced to. This song is about honoring your roots while not letting the world turn aimlessly and is an absolutely outstanding end to the record.

 

Stellar Vista is an ambitious and beautiful record that proves Ernesto Hex to be an extremely talented and original voice in music. Listen to it on a bright summer day, a cold winter night, in the middle of a pandemic, or anywhere, really.

 

Find Ernesto Hex on:

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube

 

Stellar Vista is out now via self release and is available on all streaming platforms.

 

Snail Mail- Valentine

Snail Mail- Valentine

Snail Mail Valentine

 

If there’s one line from Snail Mail’s latest release, Valentine, to sum up the ethos of the record, it would be “Nothing stays as good as how it starts”  from “Forever (Sailing).” In Snail Mail’s sophomore LP, Valentine, singer Lindsey Jordan holds back zero punches to the heart with an album that details the waves of relationship grief through candid lyrics and a sonic dynamism. The record opens with the chill-inducing title track, whose chorus proclaims “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine? You’ll always know where to find me when you change your mind.” It’s safe to assume that Jordan herself is the narrator here, cementing her permanence in spite of her ex’s best efforts to erase her. This strained romantic tension sets the tone for the rest of the record, which weaves through ten songs in just 31 minutes and 36 seconds. And while there is absolutely no shortage of feelings to be sorted through by Lindsey Jordan, she communicates with vast efficiency and a poignancy tinged with sadness and rage.

 

Whereas Valentine is centered around the bitter end of a relationship, her 2018 debut, Lush, explored the other side of the romance coin that Valentine has minted. Lush is predicated on a love that Jordan is trying to develop but finds to be a struggle. Both albums are candidly honest and beautifully original—what’s glaringly obvious through both works is that Lindsey Jordan is masterful at dissecting her own feelings and communicating her heart’s tribulations in a straightforward manner. Valentine picks up right where Lush left off and there is not a single beat that has been skipped.

 

When it comes to the themes of grief that are present throughout Valentine, anger, resentment, acceptance, denial are all to be found throughout the ten songs that comprise the record. Jordan cuts right in with the title track, saturated with feelings of resentment and denial, as she shouts “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine? You’ll always know where to find me when you change your mind” The title track,Valentine,” is the album’s heaviest song and lays a strong foundation for the rest of the record. While the chorus is the loudest, its tempo oscillates between somber and angry, with Jordan proclaiming “I ruined me for you” at the end of the song before repeating how much she adores her ex. The outro is crucial to understanding the dynamic of the relationship Jordan had with her ex and how far she is from moving on.

 

Snail Mail performing in 2017 (photo by Edwina Hay)

 

While Valentine starts out on the angry and heavier side, the songs to follow cycle through stages of depression, reflection, and finally acceptance with a softer tempo. Notably, the album’s fifth song, “Forever (Sailing),” is a soft dreamy track that features funky guitars and catchy synth. In the lyrics, Lindsey reflects back on her time with her ex and what they went through together. So much destruction/Look at what we did/That was so real/And you don’t just forget.” In the slightly more upbeat track of “Glory,” Jordan dives into the more complicated dynamics of love with the brilliant juxtaposition of “you own me/you owe me” throughout the song, which has a bit of a 90’s alt bend.

 

There are a number of symbolic elements present throughout Valentine, including the color light blue as well as references to Madonna paintings and reaching a state of nirvana, all which work to make the album as cohesive as possible. Perhaps most striking is the figure of Mia, who is mentioned a few times throughout Valentine, first in “c. et. al” and later the title of the tenth and final song of the record where she serves as the title of the record’s final track. While Mia may not be the name of an actual person, she symbolizes the love that Jordan had for her person.Mia, don’t cry/I love you forever/But I’ve gotta grow up now/No, I can’t keep holding on to you anymore/Mia, I’m still yours.”

 

Valentine’s cover features Jordan in a cupid-esque outfit wearing a beautiful pink blazer with a corsage on her left with a frilly white and black pinstripe blouse and a black bow tied around the neckline. She is positioned against a light red background and has a serious and confident expression, looking straight into the camera with her mouth slightly open. The cover is extremely fitting for the album, effectively communicating along with the title that this is an album about heartbreak. Snail Mail has yet again proven herself to be an essential and resonant voice in indie music with a penchant for penning her feelings and experiences in a manner that is captivating, well-thought out, and quite catchy.

 

Find Snail Mail on:

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Valentine is out now on Matador Records and is available on all streaming platforms.

 

 

 

 

Julia Shapiro- Zorked

Julia Shapiro- Zorked

Cover art for “Zorked,” the new solo album by Julia Shapiro

Zorked (adj.) – what happens when you end up thunderbaked, as in extremely stoned–or in any situation where you feel not sober. You can feel so tired you’re zorked.

 

The dictionary-style entry for the title of Julia Shapiro‘s latest solo effort, Zorked, defines the word but also goes a long way toward previewing the feel of the album. There is a stoner feel about the record — not as heavy as stoner metal, or as meandering as psychedelic rock, but somehow fitting right in with those two genres while not belonging to either of them. Rather, the music here can be loosely classified as shoegazey-dream pop.

 

Shapiro is well-known as a multi-instrumentalist, singing and playing guitar in Chastity Belt and Childbirth, and drumming in Who Is She? Her first solo record, Perfect Version, came out in 2019. After eight years in Seattle, it was time for a change, and Shapiro moved to LA…in March of 2020, which had to be a disorienting and isolating experience.

 

 

Julia Shapiro performing

Julia Shapiro performing in 2017 (photo by Edwina Hay)

 

 

From the outset, Zorked has a dark tinge, with the lead track “Death (XIII)” beginning with throbbing guitars and Shapiro’s voice echoing out from behind them: “This is the end.” But overall, the record is less ‘apocalypse’ and more ‘never-ending sigh.’ In “Hellscape,” the verses speak of unpleasant, edgy boredom: “Wake each day / stare at my phone / the burden of being alive” and “take a walk / call a friend / the burden of staying awake.” It’s a combination of laziness and anxiety I think is extremely relatable.

 

Not everything is distortion; some tracks show a folk influence, and are suited to the woods. There are tremolo-laden solos (”Someone”) a spoken word track (”Reptile, Reptile”) and really interesting chord progressions (”Do Nothing About It.”) With no tracks over five minutes the record doesn’t get bogged down. 

 

If a city is a sound, I didn’t really hear LA in this record, at first, until reading the press release for the album via her Bandcamp which calls it “a wasteland melting in slow-motion,” and that I definitely hear. Where Perfect Version was less heavy, more of a romp, these tracks feel endless. Not meandering, but without firm resolution. And that’s a perfect analogy for life these days — stoned and trying to figure out a direction, while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

Zorked is out now on Suicide Squeeze Records, and you can check it out on Spotify or Bandcamp here.

 

Laura Jane Grace- At War With The Silverfish

Laura Jane Grace- At War With The Silverfish

At War With The Silverfish by Laura Jane Grace

 

In less time than it takes to sit through a sitcom, Laura Jane Grace delivers seven incisive and eclectic tunes on her new solo EP, At War With the Silverfish. It ends before you’re ready but stays with you long after its 15 minutes are up.



Musically, the record never stays in one place long, but Grace’s lyrical prowess ties it all together. “Not gonna win/but I’m in the game,” she sings on the opening tune “Three of Hearts,” probably capturing a lot of people’s mindsets at the moment. Things get a little lighter on “Lolo 13” and its description of a dream about love interests, real or imagined (“Are you flirtin’?/I’m still not certain”), who are lost forever in the bright light of morning. Insistent kick drum punches and 4-on-the-floor beats pulse throughout, pushing but not overtaking Grace’s lightly hypnotic strumming.

 

She detours into a bit of baroque pop with “Electro-Static Sweep.” Deft string arrangements provide some of the titular “sweep,” as does Grace, as she croons the verses and pours on a bit of melodrama for the chorus. Her simple acoustic strumming and the loose drumming keep the tune moored on a solid dirtfloor groove. 

 

Laura Jane Grace performing

Laura Jane Grace performing in 2019 (photo by Kate Hoos)

 

“Day Old Coffee” is perfect powerpop. There are some thrilling Paul Weller vibes here and Grace’s lyrics are the stuff of pure punk brilliance—endearingly snotty, grimly funny, completely relatable, and totally devastating: “Day old coffee/microwave to boiling/pour it on my eyeballs/and boil my dumbshit brains out.” This song could last 10 minutes and never lose its impact, but just as you’re ready to scream the chorus at the top of your lungs one more time, the tune ends abruptly. That’s how you do it.

 

She returns to the simple acoustic-and-voice arrangement for “Smug FuckFace,” allowing the focus to rest squarely on her lyrics, which, again, seem to sum it all up in one poignant bummer of a couplet: “Hey, you, sitting there with your smug fuckface/Will anything ever be good again?”

 

Most tunes on At War With the Silverfish don’t adhere to a neat verse, chorus, verse structure. Some are just a few lines of brutally insightful lyrics atop simple and affecting music that either makes you stomp your feet or hang your head. It’s where many of us are at now: stealing joy where we can but also battered by the world. We get what Grace can give us right now, and it is a deceptively deep well.

 

At War With the Silverfish is out now on Polyvinyl Records and is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.