REVIEW: Cosmic Johnny, 'Good Grief'


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"good grief"

Now available via Bandcamp.


Cosmic Johnny has created an existential crisis you can dance to. The Boston four piece has a firm grasp on penning hooky melodies and mathy guitar riffs that stay in your mind all day.

Their latest album, Good Grief, is a visceral embodiment of the early twenties itch of suburban youth. Ironically, the album is a joyous tribute to life. Despite the focus on fear and anxiety, it finds a way to be brave in the face of it all. The lyrics are gritty and honest, openly discussing mental health in ways that are remarkably unafraid.

Standout tracks: “Theme from Good Grief,” “Hell is a Basement,” “Resentment,” and “Houston”

The first track, “Theme from Good Grief,” acts as the perfect introduction to the album. It’s like an opening paragraph of sorts, covering reclusive tendencies, lack of social connection, and the inability to open up. In what feels like a discussion within one’s head, Mike Suh goes back and forth between ideas. The guitars play complimentary broken chords leading into fuzzy stabs that answer one another. The recurring themes taking the place of recursive thoughts.

“And you never had a good time hanging out with the party kids/ But you never had a good time on your own.”

Hell as a concept first appears in the album’s third track, “Hell is a Basement.” The song immediately drew me in, with an intro reminiscent of Minus the Bear’s “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey.” What follows is an achingly clever comparison of basement parties to the pits of hell. Suh describes their awareness of the mortality of everyone in the room. But even with such morbid themes, the song is lively and practically begging to be danced to.

“Resentment” recounts the unwanted downward trajectory of a relationship, overlaid with a relationship with regret and drinking as reactionary escapism. The song feels drowned in guilt, with the arms of hindsight keeping them submerged. “It might be my fault/ for not knowing how to look at you/ without this sinking feeling.”

The song takes an incredibly powerful turn in its refusal to continue living with crippling self-doubt. Suh indignantly states that “the back of the mind is not a nourishing place to live.” Finishing with the repeated refrain “I just want to live.”

The main riff in “Houston” climbs up in a series of arpeggiated notes only to rise and fall a half step at the end. It’s a theme mirrored in the lyrics’ exploration of the bounds of knowledge within ourselves and the universe. An exploration of how understanding is in some ways unattainable. Even in moments of clarity and bouts of productivity, there will always be unanswerable questions.

In a period of sleeplessness, Suh describes their lack of connection to the world and people around them. Picking apart individual personhood, they give in to the dread of meaninglessness and dissociation.

Yet in the repetition of the words “we’re all alone,” I can’t help but feel a sense of connection. Even in the prospect of our lives being inconsequential, there is beauty found in being together through the mess of it all.

Perhaps the best part of this album is the way the band presents opposing concepts, both musically and through lyrics. The sense of joy is placed side by side with dread, memory with loss, meaninglessness with purpose. It is in these comparisons that Good Grief is able to raise the subject of existence in a way that is still hopeful.


Stream Good Grief Below:


REVIEW: GRLwood, "Daddy"


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GRLwood
"daddy"

Now available on sonaBLAST! Records.


Many have described the Louisville duo GRLWood in terms of riot grrrl, and certainly guitarist Rej Forester’s singsong-to-scream vocal stylings against dissonance surf rock riffs lend to that comparison, it would sell their incredibly unique sound short to pigeonhole them into a certain sound or the aesthetic trappings that come with the riot grrrl name. Daddy, their debut album, invokes the B-52s as much as Bratmobile — a sardonic quality you can dance to as much as you can scream along with.

What stood out to me throughout Daddy were the ways GRLWood plays with tone and tempo in their songs. “I’m Yer Dad” leads off with a soft repeating of the phrase, while the drums and staccato guitar build the tension until the vocals reach a frenzy, bouncing from a scream back to the initial singsong cadence. The lyrics play off masculine tropes, mocking man caves and muscle cars alike from the perspective of the dad in question. The following track, “Nice Guy,” follows this pattern of parody as well. In this way, Forester embodies these incredibly loathsome kinds of men, and turns their catchphrases “all of the bad guys get all of the good girls / and I just don’t understand why they won’t fuck me” into weapons against them, skewering them on their own rhetoric.

On “Clean,” Forester begs the questions “who you gettin’ clean for?” She repeats it several times over before the track comes to a head in an earth-movingly volatile chorus, before dropping back to the gentler tempo of the first verse with a soft “woah oh". All of the songs seem to follow some variation on this; vacillating wildly between softer dissonant moments and then escalating all at once into something explosive, almost manic, and undeniably powerful.

There’s an overall hectic feeling to Daddy. The frenzied energy of trying to capture the anger and frustration of existing as a queer person is palpable in not only every scream, but in all of the subtle tongue in cheek quips as well.

Whether the frustration expressed is from trying to get a girl you’re pining over to dump her loser boyfriend (“Bisexual”), or a sarcastic response to the ignorance we’re bombarded with every day from those outside the community (“Vaccines Made Me Gay”), GRLWood delivers rage in a way that is attractive without seeming pandering or too polished up. It’s not contrived anger, it’s so deeply real and deeply felt. Listening to this album, it’s easy to forget that this band only has two members — they deliver an all encompassing sound, larger than life in order to best express all of the intricacies dealt with in the subject matter.

Daddy is an incredible album for someone who wants more rage in their pop music, or who doesn’t want to compromise melody or fun when they seek out heavier queer musicians. As a debut, it’s explosive, it simply does not sound like anything else right now and there’s no doubt that GRLWood is on the precipice of something truly great.


Stream Daddy Below:


REVIEW: Petal's Beautifully Cohesive 'Magic Gone'


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"magic gone"

Now available through
Run For Cover.


Kiley Lotz, under her moniker Petal, dropped the beautifully cohesive record, Magic Gone today via Run For Cover Records.

Lotz, who spent most of her life as a closeted queer person, has become very open the last few years about her sexuality and the accompanying mental health struggles she has been facing. Taking three years to write and perfect Magic Gone, taking a break to benefit her mental health by returning home to Pennsylvania for therapy, Lotz has grown immensely and tackles so many difficulties of adulthood within this record.

Overcoming these lows, as well as experiencing high points such as touring with Julien Baker and Kevin Devine this past year, helped inspire two distinct sides of Magic Gone that fit together perfectly. Precisely, Side A (titled Tightrope Walker) includes songs she wrote before entering treatment, with Side B (Miracle Clinger) featuring songs she wrote in recovery.

The record begins with Lotz’s catchy anthem and first released single, ‘Better Than You,’ in which she sings with a sense of urgency, naming the daily struggles artists face while trying to “succeed” in the music industry. The beautifully melodic ‘Tightrope’ follows, detailing a light Lotz actually saw in the sky while driving one night, prompting an analyzation of the wiggle room in which she gives herself to succeed or fail. “The truth is just a piece of coal dressed as gold,” she sings softly, but defiantly.

I was delighted to discover the return of the track that made me fall in love with Petal’s music years ago - ‘I’m Sorry,’ from her debut EP Scout, released in 2013. I challenge you all to listen to ‘I’m Sorry,’ especially in the context of the new record, and not admire Lotz and the journey she’s embarked upon as a musician. Although a slightly more polished rendition, the ballad and its lyrics remain as beautifully sorrowful as the first day I heard them. “When did it get so personal? / I can’t remember, even though I try,” she sings delicately over faded, steady guitar strokes. “Just like a black hole / We collapsed and all / Of our friends stayed in orbit / Because we lied.”

Magic Gone also welcomes the return of ‘Comfort,’ the heartbreaking title track from Lotz’s Comfort EP, released this past September. Title track, ‘Magic Gone’ is also a standout, “The magic gone, and that solemn look upon your face / That says, ‘we’re finally growing up,’” she sings earnestly. The harrowing truth is, right now we’re all growing up, slowly but surely feeling the magic slip from our fingers.

Closing track, ‘Stardust’ has stuck with me in a different way since the first time I played it. Building up slowly from a delicate piano ballad, the track grows to an emotional new height, guitars exploding under Lotz’s desperate singing, “Now we’re living in shitty apartments with mismatched dishes, unlike our parents / Maybe we’d make good parents? / Maybe not, I can’t say / I can’t say I didn’t love you,” she calls out cathartically.

Sonically perfect in every way, while encapsulating Lotz’s own personal journey facing many of her demons, Magic Gone has set the bar high for us all to let ourselves feel and learn.

“Really feeling what it’s like to be completely heartbroken, instead of just pushing it down so deeply, allowed me to see the true strength in vulnerability. That acknowledging pain, struggle, loss and heartbreak, is strong. That being out is strong. That being ill takes strength all it’s own.” - Kiley Lotz


Stream Magic Gone Below:


PREMIERE: Billie Aon, "Mid City Feeling"

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‘Mid City Feeling,’ the painstakingly authentic debut single from Billie Aon, is premiering today on Hooligan. The track is built on the struggle of finding yourself, and taking the time to become comfortable with your chosen path.

After writing nearly three records worth of music, Billie boldly decided to scrap it all, turn the page and write about their struggle in a more honest way, while drawing inspiration from artists across the board from Cheetah Chrome to Patti Smith to Iggy Pop.

Billie chose to take the suffering of their lowest point and spin it into gold in the form of ‘Mid City Feeling,’ and there’s still more to come. Keep your eyes peeled for their debut LP, releasing this fall.

Stream ‘Mid City Feeling’ and read more about the inspiration behind the track below -
 

“'Mid City Feeling’ represents a particularly blue period for me. It was a time I was having a lot of issues with my identity and struggling to realize what it was I wanted to do — typical mid 20’s shit, I know. It was a transitional period. I shut out a lot of people and put up a lot of walls because I needed to heal. I was living in Mid City as a recluse, feeling down and out, pumping my body with copious amounts caffeine and Dole, and trying to plot my next move. Somewhere along the line hiding out and making these records, I lost all my confidence. ‘Mid City Feeling’ sums up this time and helps me turn the page.”
- Billie Aon

All proceeds from the digital release of ‘Mid City Feeling’ will benefit Red Light Legal.

"Red Light Legal provides direct legal services, legal representation, community education, and effective policy advocacy to sex workers in all corners of the industry. We advocate to reduce the stigma, discrimination, and violence associated with the sex industry, particularly for those who face intersectional oppressions due to racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and classism."

REVIEW: Courtney Barnett, "Tell Me How You Really Feel"


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courtney barnett
"tell me how you really feel"

Now available on MOM+POP Music.


by Anna DiTucci-Cappiello

On first listen, Tell Me How You Really Feel is a perfect summer record. Songs associated with summer are typically near nauseatingly upbeat and positive, evoking images of beaches. Barnett explores a more wistful sound, turning the trope of summer music sideways while delivering strong, surf influenced guitar riffs and deadpan vocal delivery that made her initial effort so well-loved. By panning away from introspection, Barnett turns the focus on to those around her. She speaks of the perceptions of friends, lovers, strangers, and all in between while still baring herself vulnerable yet confident manner.

One of Barnett’s strong suits lies in her lyrics. They convey a wry wit, speaking of personal interactions that have the possibility of being near-universal while also maintaining specificity — there’s a genius to being able to do that well without pandering, and she hits the nail on the head in that regard. This is seen again on “Nameless, Faceless,” exploring what it means to be a woman making art in the current social climate. Barnett bottles the tumultuousness and anger of creating under patriarchy and delivers it in a straightforward package.

“I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” speaks to the dichotomy in interpersonal relationships that nearly any non-man will be able to relate to. If you aren’t nurturing and self effacing, you’re classed under ‘bitch’ — angry, bitter, only worthy of scorn from others. A sense of exhaustion comes of that as the last lines ring out, "Put up or shut up, it's all the same / It's all the same, never change, never change.”

This type of lyrical prowess shines through on “City Looks Pretty.” Lyrics like "The city looks pretty when you been indoors/For 23 days I've ignored all your phone calls/And everyone's waiting when you get back home/They don't know where you been, why you gone so long.” will ring too true for anyone prone to bouts of self-isolation. This all is bookended by an impossibly catchy melody, assuredly leaving you dancing in catharsis while singing along to “sometimes I get sad/ it’s not all that bad.”

Sonically, Tell Me How You Really Feel verges on a very retro vibe, but it isn’t forced or hokey. Directness as explored in the lyrics is anchored by psychedelic inspired guitar riffs and simple yet evocative drums, ensuring the message she crafts are delivered successfully and pointedly. It’s rock and roll and folk and pop all simultaneously, interweaving the best things from all genres — sing-song melodies in the choruses, full but not extravagant guitar solos, and an extraordinarily clever storytelling ability.

On Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett finds the middle ground, panning away from introspection while still sticking true to the hallmarks that made her first album so well loved. Overall, Tell Me How You Really Feel is a summer album for the melancholic. Those who spent the winter indoors leaving texts on read and cancelling plans, can step out into the sun with this as their soundtrack — a smart, catchy record that feels as warm and complicated as the changing of the seasons.


Stream Tell Me How You Really Feel on Spotify:


COURTNEY BARNETT TOUR DATES

UK and Europe
Sat 25 May - Belfast at BBC’s Biggest Weekend (tix)
Tues 29 May - Leeds at O2 Academy (tix) +
Wed 30 May - Brussels at Ancienne Belgique (tix) +
Thurs 31 May - Utrecht at Tivoli Vredenburg Ronda (tix) +
Sat 2 June - Glasgow at Barrowlands (tix) +
Sun 3 June - London at All Points East Festival (tix)
Mon 4 June - Manchester at Academy (tix) +
Tues 5 June - Bristol at O2 Academy (tix) +
Wed 6 June - London at Roundhouse (tix) +
Sat 9 June - Paris at Bataclan (tix) +
Sun 10 June - Luxembourg at Den Atelier (tix) +
Mon 11 June - Berlin at Astra Kulturhaus (tix) +
Wed 13 June - Cologne at Live Music Hall (tix) +

USA and Canada
Fri 6 July - Winnipeg, MB at Winnipeg Folk Festival (tix)
Sat 7 July - Des Moines, IA at 80/35 Festival (tix)
Mon 9 July - Toronto, ON at Danforth Music Hall (tix) ^
Tues 10 July - Toronto, ON at Danforth Music Hall (SOLD OUT) ^
Wed 11 July - Ottawa, ON at Ottawa Blues Festival (tix)
Thurs 12 July - North Adams, MA at MASS MoCA (tix) ^
Sat 14 July - Columbus, OH at Newport Music Hall (tix) ^
Sun 15 July - Louisville, KY at Forecastle Festival (tix)
Tues 17 July - St. Louis, MO at The Pageant (tix) ^
Wed 18 July - Kansas City, MO at Truman (tix) ^
Fri 20 July - Chicago, IL at Pitchfork Music Festival (tix)
Sat 21 July - Minneapolis, MN at Surly Brewing Festival Field (tix) ~#
Sun 22 July - Edmonton, AB at Intersteller Rodeo (tix)
Tues 24 July - Washington DC at The Anthem (tix) ^#
Wed 25 July - Brooklyn, NY at Celebrate Brooklyn Prospect Park (tix) ^#
Thurs 26 July - Portland, ME at State Theatre (tix) #
Sat 28 July - Newport, RI at Newport Folk Festival (SOLD OUT)
Sat 29 Sept - Denver, CO at Ogden Theatre (tix) ++
Sun 30 Sept - Denver, CO at Ogden Theatre (tix) ++
Tues 2 Oct - Phoenix, AZ at The Van Buren (tix) ++
Wed 3 Oct - San Diego, CA at The Observatory North Park (tix) ++
Fri 5 Oct - Los Angeles, CA at The Greek Theatre (tix) ++
Mon 8 Oct - Seattle, WA at Paramount Theatre (tix) ++
Wed 10 Oct - Vancouver, BC at Vogue Theatre (tix) ++
Fri 12 Oct - Portland, OR at Crystal Ballroom (tix) ++
Sun 14 Oct - Oakland, CA at Treasure Island Music Festival (tix)
Wed 17 Oct - Milwaukee, WI at Pabst Theater (tix) ++
Sun 21 Oct - Boston, MA at House of Blues (tix) ++
Tues 23 Oct - Philadelphia, PA at The Fillmore (tix) ++
Thurs 25 Oct - Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works (tix) ++
Sat 27 Oct - Austin, TX at Stubb's (tix) ++

Australia and New Zealand
Fri 17 Aug - Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (tix) *
Sat 18 Aug - Metropolis, Fremantle (tix) *
Weds 22 Aug - The Tivoli, Brisbane (tix) *
Thurs 23 Aug - Sydney Opera House (tix)
Sat 25 Aug - Sydney Opera House (tix)
Weds 29 Aug - The Powerstation, Auckland (tix) *
Thurs 30 Aug - Opera House, Wellington (tix) *
Sat 1 Sept - Festival Hall, Melbourne (tix) *

% with Palehound
^^ with LALA LALA
+ with Loose Tooth
^ with Vagabon
~ with Lucy Dacus
# with Julien Baker
++ with Waxahatchee
* with East Brunswick All Girls Choir


GET ON BOARD: A Celebration of Women's Skateboarding featuring The Kills at House of Vans Chicago


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 All photos by  Cody Corrall

All photos by Cody Corrall


by Cody Corrall

Skateboarding is no longer a boys club. Dozens of women varying in age, race and experience level congregated at the House of Vans in Chicago on Saturday night for a girl’s skate jam. The event, known as “Get On Board,” aims to encourage young women to not only to start riding, but to use skateboarding as a tool to promote confidence and self discovery.

Members of The Skate Kitchen, a New York based skate collective, were invited to the event and were grateful that safe spaces for women in the skateboarding scene existed. “It was an incredible experience having so many girls in a safe space,” they said in an Instagram post. “It's so gratifying to be learning alongside so many passionate ladies.”

Skateboarding has a powerful impact on Nina Moran, a member of The Skate Kitchen, and it has the ability to empower others. “When a girl starts skateboarding, something magical happens” said Nina Moran in her TedxTeen talk. Skateboarding is not just an hobby or a sport. To many, skateboarding can be a lifestyle, and that comes with tight knit communities. This is especially so with women in the scene, who often stick together and build a strong community to engage with their passions in safe environments.


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The venue was decorated with murals and artwork by Robin Eisenberg, a graphic illustrator based in Los Angeles. Eisenberg was one of the first women artists to collaborate with Thrasher, the renowned skateboarding magazine. For the event, Eisenberg designed and painted the space with various women on skateboards and sold prints and pins at the artist market.

The event closed with a performance by British-American rock band, The Kills. The duo, composed of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, performed at the skate jams in Brooklyn and Chicago. Mosshart credits her ties to skate culture growing up for her interest in music and her success today.” I loved the artwork on decks and I loved all the punk rock music that went with the imagery,” Mosshart said in a personal essay. “I skated just to hang out and then at one point [my friends and I] decided to form our own band, at around 14.”


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Mosshart is stage presence personified. She contorts her body and whips her hair, chaotic but purposeful — moving perfectly in tune with Hince’s guitar. Mosshart and Hince are opposites on stage: Mosshart dons thigh-high black boots and can’t stand still as she spitballs intense lyrics while Hince is cool and collected, accompanying Mosshart’s wild side with leather loafers. And yet, Mosshart and Hince are effortlessly in tandem — no doubt due to having 18 years of working together under their belt. They know each others idiosyncrasies like the palms of their hands, making for an eccentric performance.

Get On Board encourages young women that all you need to skate is to pick up a board, fall down and get back up again. What needs to happen next is to figure out how to maintain this sense of community outside of this event, so that skateboarding can be fun, accessible and life changing to women everywhere.


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INTERVIEW: Shawna Potter of War on Women

“They don’t care if you live, they don’t care if you die / It's only ever been about control,” Shawna Potter sings defiantly in the lead track of feminist punk band War On Women’s new record. Capture The Flag is hauntingly relevant, and there’s really no issue too controversial for Shawna to scream into the faces of the crowd before her. It’s just enough to get you angry while making you happy that a band like War On Women exists. 

The record, released earlier this month on Friday the 13th, is an impeccable collection of twelve bold tracks. Taking a short break from fixing equipment at Big Crunch Amp Repair & Design in Baltimore, Shawna chatted with me about performing these raw new songs live, collaborating with riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna, the inevitable end of Warped Tour, and the importance of keeping shows safe. 

I was no stranger to War On Women and what they stand for - the band is well known for their feminist activism and admirable history of standing up and literally screaming in the face of injustice. They first caught my attention last summer, when they played Warped Tour and Shawna called out The Dickies’ frontman’s sexist and foul stage behavior in a Noisey op-ed. 

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I first ask Shawna how she feels about Warped Tour calling it quits this year, and she replies with a laugh. “I have a lot of feelings about it,” she begins. “I do feel that it is an important thing for young people all over the States, especially in non-metropolitan areas, to have access to music. To be able to see shows and see their favorite bands and discover new ones. But I think, overall, it’s a sign of music changing. What’s popular is changing so much and economics are changing so much. It’s a very hard model to sustain. You can’t just do the same thing for 25 years and expect it to work.”
    
Not to mention, the final Warped Tour lineup follows the unfortunate pattern of previous years, featuring only four bands with women members, out of over fifty bands total playing the festival. Not only is it discouraging, but it also creates an unsafe environment for non-cis-men fans in the audience. This is why, last year, Shawna brought Safer Scenes out to Warped Tour. A nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a safe space for everyone at concerts by ending sexual assault, Safer Scenes is doing the most important work. 
    
“Unfortunately, bystander intervention still needs to be taught,” Shawna says. Although, nothing discourages her -- it only drives her passion to help more. In addition to co-founding Safer Scenes, Shawna also helped form the Baltimore chapter of Hollaback!, an organization dedicated to ending harassment. “Right now I’m trying to concentrate on teaching venues how to become safer spaces and teaching people how they can interrupt violence when they see it, especially at shows. That’s my biggest focus when we’re not on tour. I plan to keep doing that, and now that we have this new record, we also have a workbook associated with it that can be taught in classrooms.”
    
The workbook, based off the themes and lyrics of Capture The Flag, can be purchased online for a small donation and is intended to be taught at a college level.

Buy the workbook here.
    
“I’m really proud of ‘Lone Wolf,’ and ‘Anarcha,’ because they just feel really important right now,” Shawna tells me, after I ask her what her favorite tracks from the record are. “They’re both about these really important issues. I’m happy with what I was able to get out and how I was able to talk about it, plus the songs are really heavy but still kinda catchy. Of course, it’s also weird and complicated, because ‘Lone Wolf’ is relevant every day. There’s gun violence every day. It’s almost difficult to feel good about it, when you know that you wrote the song about this terrible thing that keeps happening.”
    
“But, one thing that’s great, is that today they actually started taking down the J Marion Sims statue in Central Park, which is what the song ‘Anarcha’ is about,” she goes on to tell me. I had never heard of J Marion Sims, although I’m sure I’ve walked past the statue before, probably more than once. “He’s credited as being the father of gynecology, but all the groundbreaking research he was able to do and the techniques he was able to create were because he borrowed or bought women that were slaves and experimented on them. Anarcha is one of the only names we even know of the women he experimented on. We know these women were in pain, but they were enslaved. Anesthesia wasn’t widely used at the time, but when it was, it was definitely more likely to be used on rich white people. We’re still living in a time where people think that people of color have a higher tolerance for pain and therefore they don’t believe them when they say they need more medicine. It’s great to see that we can maybe stop celebrating all of these old white men that were celebrated because they lived in racist times,” she says. Is it coincidence that New York City took down the J Marion Sims statue mere days after War On Women’s record became available to stream? We’ll never know.
    
‘YDTMHLT,’ another gem from the album, features vocals from ex-Bikini Kill frontwoman and riot grrrl, Kathleen Hanna. After meeting back in 2016 at Riot Fest, Shawna and the band knew right away that ‘YDTMHLT’ was the perfect song for her to join in on. “It just seemed kinda scrappy and sassy and it’s about being okay with yourself at a young age, and it seemed perfect for her. I already had the parts that I wanted her to sing, but the whole section where she’s going off and talk-singing in the middle -- she totally made that up on her own. That’s all her, and I was really stoked that we got to use it and have a classic Kathleen Hanna moment,” Shawna says. Another track from Capture The Flag features vocals from Joanna Angel, an adult film actress and friend of the band's bassist, Sue.
    
As Shawna is a female punk vocalist, a dramatically underrepresented area of the music industry, I made sure to ask what advice she has for other female and non-men musicians who want to speak their minds à la War On Women. “Well, first I want to say that we also should be hearing from trans men,” she immediately corrected me. “Trans men are men. I want to make sure that they don’t feel forgotten, as well as non-binary people that aren’t femme. So what I think you mean is ‘non-cisgendered men,’” she said. “And you should definitely include this part of the interview, so maybe people will realize they misspeak sometimes, too.” An important point and something I hadn’t considered much in the midst of my anger toward underrepresented female artists in the scene, I’m beyond pleased that she calmly communicated my error to me and encouraged me to include the conversation.
    
Eventually getting into the answer to my initial question, she says, “We’re clearly a very political band, putting ourselves out there and making ourselves vulnerable to hate and trolls and misogyny. People from marginalized groups definitely don’t have to do that, especially if they don’t feel safe enough to do so. But I do think that everyone would benefit from hearing their perspectives and their stories. Start a band just like all these cisgender white dudes do,” she says, sparking a laugh from me. I know far too many of these bands. “All they’re doing is talking about their feelings, and who they’re dating, and stuff they like and don’t like, and nothing’s wrong with that -- it’s just that that’s all we get to hear. I love to hear music about these normal everyday life things from everyone else. Because they’re going to be different and it’s always beneficial to have other people’s struggles heard and represented.”

“So no,” she continues, “You don’t have to call Trump a racist in a song like we do, or talk about punching Nazis or whatever like we do. But you still have a voice worth hearing.”
    
And when it comes to supporting these artists, both financially and otherwise? Shawna has something to tell you -- you have to do it. “If people want more media made by women, made by people of color, made by trans and non-binary folx and people of the LGBTQ communities, they have to buy that media when people make it. You have to put your money where your values are.”

“Let’s keep music diverse! As audience members and as media consumers we have a lot of power and if we can show that there is money to be made when someone is not a cisgendered white man, then guess what? Festivals are going to be more likely to book bands like that,” she says.

And it’s true -- for every complaint about underrepresentation in festival lineups, there are bands out there who need our support and engagement to get to the level of playing these festivals. “If you listen to all these bands and there’s one or two records you just keep coming back to, then buy the physical copy! Or donate to the band! Or make sure you tell ten different people to go to their show and buy merch! Something’s gotta give, otherwise they’ll just go away,” she says.
    
War On Women confronts the tough stuff in Capture The Flag, but they’re not done there. Reach out to Shawna and the band to come to your college and speak about bystander intervention and safer scenes. Buy the band’s workbook, and spread their message like wildfire. 

REVIEW: Nature Shots, "Foreclosure"

With a title that evokes the feeling of an ending and despair of sorts, Nature Shots’ Michi Tassey draws out the beauty in finality interspersed with a dreamy look as to what’s next. This is the first recorded solo effort from Tassey, who is otherwise occupied with the notably more guitar heavy, emo-adjacent People Like You. 

Were there to be a single word to encapsulate Foreclosure, it’d be “ethereal.” However, the beauty of the album comes from the fact that it can’t be boiled down to a word, or a genre, but instead shines through the layering of emotions. Massey is able to clearly convey sorrow, longing, and desperation in a way that savors them but doesn’t wallow. Her voice is wistful, yet powerful, and the piano that drives the songs is compelling, creating an encompassing sound that’s simultaneously minimalistic by using the negative space between the instruments as an instrument of its own. 

There’s a church like tone throughout Foreclosure, the songs playing out like a distorted hymn. It’s not a strict or traditional religious vibe, but draws from the kind of desperation that can turn one to prayer, to seek out comfort where no tangible one can be found.  “What is the Word for When You are Screaming but No One Can Hear” starts out with a tense note repeated and blooms into arpeggios and fades in and out, punctuated by dissonant guitar and and Tassey’s voice compelling you, “mama, mama, mama, please don’t cry.” 

“Fickle Folly” does a perfect job as a final track, evoking a near playground like melody. “I still hear you singing to me,” rings out as the lyric that closes the album, turning towards a hope in loss and in an ending, while still letting that sorrow be felt wholly. 

Foreclosure is a breathtaking collection of songs and a solid initial solo effort from Tassey. It serves catharsis not through ferocity or anger, but a kind of complex yearning. Even with all of the layers, musically and emotionally, the album serves up something tangible and whole — no easy task when taking on the nuance of loss and grieving.
 

 photo by  Adam Frizzell

It serves to be noted that this album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Cam Boucher, albeit before his recent outing as an abuser and unsafe person. I, and Hooligan on whole, do not endorse Boucher in any way and actively condemn instances of emotional, physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Instead, let this serve to focus this on Tassey who was unaware of these actions during the process of making Foreclosure.

INTERVIEW: prior panic "finicky things"

 prior panic's debut lp  "finicky things"

prior panic's debut lp "finicky things"

prior panic started as a solo project in mid 2016 by lead vocalist and cellist Julia Fulbright. Their debut album, “finicky things,” was released on March 30, 2018. The band consists of Fulbright, guitarist and background vocalist Otto Klammer, and drummer Zachary Ellsworth. 

Fulbright has played the cello for over ten years now and is classically trained.

“It's been super interesting to me watching the way my playing has shifted over the years,” says Fulbright. “I'm classically trained as an acoustic cellist, was super involved in a few local orchestras in middle and high school, and when I was 16 I did a Berklee summer strings program where I learned how to play in different styles (bluegrass, jazz, some really cool international stuff as well) + a ton of new playing techniques. I also learned how to play cello and sing simultaneously! I started to teach myself a lot of covers the year following and went to a 5-week Berklee program the next summer before my senior year of high school. I started writing my own music and playing some shows in Dallas, TX (my hometown) before I moved up here for school. Once I started college I got a 5-string electric cello, and it took me awhile to really fall in love with it (very different to play from acoustic cello) but by the time I started writing songs with it, it clicked and now I play it significantly more often than my acoustic. That said, I actually took it out for the first time a couple of weeks ago and recorded a cello track for a new Palehound song, so I'm really excited about that!”

Fulbright played solo with their cello from October 2016-March 2017 before they put together a full band. The lineup has changed since the first show, along with former Boston band Dent. After taking some time off from Boston and music for mental health reasons, a consistent theme in prior panic’s debut album finicky things, Fulbright stayed with family in Texas over the summer of 2017. When September rolled around they booked a few full band shows and started writing/practicing with original drummer Francesca Impastato (she/her/hers) and current guitarist Otto Klammer (they/them/theirs).

“I met Franny when I was at Berklee working on a session for one of Otto's production projects,” explains Fulbright. “Otto recorded, mixed, and engineered a soundalike for Angel Olsen's Shut Up Kiss Me. I was the vocalist and Francesca played drums, and when I was looking for a drummer to work with she reached out. Otto's been one of my closest friends since my first year at Berklee (from which I'm currently on leave, not sure if I'm a dropout yet!!!).”

Klammer played bass in Dump Him and Dazey and the Scouts, who are some of Fulbright’s friends in Boston, but this is Klammer’s first time playing guitar in a project.

“We gigged a lot locally during the fall and winter and in October and November we recorded and released our first full-band single, No Need to Rush. In January, Franny left to tour with her band Macseal and immediately after joined Oso Oso on their tour with Tiny Moving Parts as their touring drummer! So Zachary Ellsworth (they/them/theirs) took over, and they've been absolutely killing it. They learned all of the parts super quickly and wrote some of their own. Zack is also a Berklee student who I mostly knew as a friend of a friend, but they reached out when I posted looking for a new drummer and it was a great match immediately. Zack recorded the album with us and we've had a steady lineup (finally) for about 4 months now!”

Fulbright refers to prior panic’s music as “gay cello rock.”

“In terms of ‘gay cello rock,’ it kind of started off as a meme-y but straightforward self descriptor. I think the instrumentation of prior panic is a big component of what sets us apart on a local level, and I'm a queer millennial that can't stop describing myself and everything in my life as gay, so gay cello rock feels accurate and silly and right in a lot of ways. To me, being forward with my queerness is really important! I didn't have a lot of queer representation growing up in Texas on a personal or artistic level, and I had absolutely no trans people in my life. There was no real grasp on the concept of nonbinary gender identities for me before I moved to Boston, but even having access to that language and a queer/trans community I think saved me in a lot regards. Being able to come out as both gay and trans made it possible for me to be comfortable in my body and my art. Maybe if I saw that it was okay to be “This Way” growing up in any of the media I consumed that I would have had an easier time in middle and high school (and even early college). Sometimes I just feel like screaming I'M GAY from the top of a mountain and in a lot of ways my music seems like a pretty good outlet for that energy. My gender and sexuality play into my music the same way they're a part of every other aspect of my life, I think. Only a few of the songs on 'finicky things' technically touch on my same/similar gender attraction (or romance in general) and one song ("shape + space") explicitly explores transness, but almost every track is a reflection of mental health obstacles I've encountered and had to manage over the past two years.”

Fulbright says creating this album was a really fun and new process. The record is comprised of eight songs they wrote over the course of the last 18 months, so there is “a lot of range in content and musical growth over the course of different tracks.”

“It actually was initially a kind of spooky ambient electronic project, but it quickly developed into an outlet for songs I started writing on my electric cello,” says Fulbright. “Part of the challenge of preparing to record the album (at least for me) was making sure all of the songs were up to par with each other in terms of quality, It was challenging and a lot of work for a single weekend, but it paid off really well. It was a super collaborative effort, which is a really cool development after spending so much time making music by myself.”

prior panic’s lyrics read like intimate poetry, from “a twin size bed comes with its set of charms/let's smoke for two/through an entanglement of legs and arms/i can't see you,” from float to “i never knew the weight of seeing myself sink to rock bottom/i hold that weight like i'm cradling a newborn child” from still here.

Fulbright’s wildly powerful voice is smooth as the instruments accents their hard-hitting words. One of the standout tracks on the album, farewell ADL’s, refers to the routine activities that people tend do every day without needing assistance such as eating, bathing and dressing. Fulbright belts out “my sugar rush, i'll ride your high throughout the night/i'm restless, searching for something to compromise...i'm naked standing in the storm/trying to prove i can create my own warmth.” This track holds the weight of Fulbright’s exploration into mental health, the center of the powerful storm of finicky things. This is where listeners find an oasis, a landing strip to breathe and feel connected to someone who understands.

“Last year specifically was fairly traumatic in a lot regards, and the majority of the tracks on the album were written during and shortly after the worst of things,” says Fulbright. “It's kind of emotional and difficult sometimes to revisit those feelings, but finally sharing this album with the world feels amazing. Being queer and mentally ill is hard as fuck but the two go hand in hand so often. I think being open about being gay and being trans and (in my specific case) struggling with bipolar 2 and generalized anxiety disorder can help create community and support systems for people feeling isolated by these components of their identity. I think in that way all of my music is inherently queer; it chronicles the arc (and recovery from) a queer person's really awful and frankly life-threatening major depressive episode, and I think my gender and sexuality feels play a lot into my mental health (in both negative and positive ways!). Talking about is hard. But opening up the door for those discussions feels so crucial to me in the process of trying to normalize gender diversity, sga, and stigmas in regard to mental health, specifically mood and personality disorders. I see a lot of discourse in my leftist communities about identity politics and I see a lot of negativity toward them in some regards. I think narrowing politics by harping specifically on identity (without any real substance) is pretty useless, but I also feel that developing an awareness of identity in society and the way it plays into literally EVERYTHING (politics, poverty, personal dynamics, truly anything) is crucial in building systems that support oppressed people. Going super off track here, but what I'm getting at is that it's important to me that readers and listeners feel heard and represented in media. You're not alone in whatever you're going through, and if you can find that through music, that's amazing. If those messages are accessible especially to younger audiences I think it can contribute to really positive conversations. If I can make anyone feel more at home in their body and brain, that's reason enough to keep doing what we're doing as prior panic. There's a lot of great development for visibility of marginalized artists in Boston that gives me a lot of hope (there's still a LOT of work that needs to be done), and being a part of that feels very rewarding. I don't represent everyone in the conversation, but I hope our music can provide a sense of relatability and comfort for folks with identities that may intersect with my own.”

 

 

REVIEW: Many Rooms "There is a Presence Here" Debut LP Engenders Beauty That Instills Faith in a Universal Order


856664.jpg

many rooms
"there is a presence here"

 

 

Released April 13th, 2018 through Other People Records.


by Ava Mirzadegan

There’s a feeling I get within the depths of my body when I hear music that I know I will connect with, similar to musical Stendhal Syndrome. An effervescent wave flushes up from within me, my skin rises to form mountain ranges, and I become immersed completely. It is a rare feeling, but I felt it the moment I began listening to There is a Presence Here, the debut LP from Many Rooms.

The project of Houston-based musician Brianna Hunt is a captivating series of revelations from a mind that is caught between faith. Hunt’s musings on divinity and nihilism speak from the visceral root of fear of the unknown - perhaps the most inherent human emotion. Yet in spite of this great unknown, There is a Presence Here engenders the kind of beauty that can instill faith in a universal order.

The opening track, “Nonbeing,” starts off with lyrical post-rock-esque guitar and dreamy vocals asking the question “what if I die and nothing happens?” It is a question that Hunt explores in every song, begging for meaning. She is painfully aware of the fleeting nature of the physical world around her, a sentiment that becomes clear in songs like “Which is To Say, Everything.” She speaks to the nameless “you,” an epithet for those who have passed on.

Even in the face of mortality, Hunt draws upon the courage to live fully. “Dear Heart” is a conversation between Hunt, her heart, and God. “Why did you refuse to answer me/ I’m trying to be more honest,” she cries, her quick diminuendo and tone capturing the desolate essence of spirituality. The song’s refrain acts as an affirmation. “Courage, dear heart.”

The piano in “Hollow Body” lifts and transforms the track into an airy soundscape. A left hand plays a simple four note bass-line while lightly tapped keys evoke the chiming of a chapel bell. Her bare voice gliding effortlessly above the spacious bed of sound - a tone that is recreated in “The Nothing.” The sixth track questions the existence of an omniscient and benevolent God that cares for every prayer that is brought to his ear. Hunt repeats “do you look into all those scars?” until a shaky hum takes the melody from her tongue. Uneasily, she states “I know that you won’t leave.”

The title track is carried by the resonance of a piano and layered vocals. Wearily, Hunt discusses the fragility of her body and mind, culminating in a request for the grace of God. A second voice comes in to sing another melody, creating polyphony appropriate for the question “When there’s nothing left/ Is there room in your chest?”

Through Many Rooms, Hunt is able to reach beyond the confines of her corporeal body. There is a Presence Here is a devastatingly raw expression of the human spirit. The album, released through Other People Records, is now available to buy or stream online.


Stream There is a Presence Here on Spotify:


REVIEW: Future Teens "Hard Feelings" / Vinyl Now Available


  Hard Feelings  Vinyl Pressing Available through  Take This To Heart Records  / Co-released with Pine Box Records

Hard Feelings Vinyl Pressing Available through Take This To Heart Records / Co-released with Pine Box Records


by Tim Crisp

What started as a joke has now completed the full 180 degree turn for Boston’s Future Teens. The group formed around Daniel Radin’ intentions to play a 3-song set at a 4th of July party in 2014. Each step that’s followed has been a movement away from those lighthearted plans. A two-piece became four, then a couple of EP’s, and a debut record, Hard Feelings, in 2017. The record has now been pressed to vinyl and re-released by Take This To Heart, as Future Teens moves forward, as real as it comes.

Hard Feelings is a bright, charming LP rich with hooks and feelings. Radin and co-vocalist Amy Hoffman’s songs concern themselves with the smaller details of modern romance, giving insight into the particulars of life as it is today. “Been spending too much time on dating websites,” Radin sings on “In Love Or Whatever” following up with, “maybe I should just do something / figure my life out.” The second part encapsulates much of the mood that hangs over Hard Feelings. It’s the feeling of sliding into one’s mid 20s, when aimlessness starts to become unsettling, like you really should start to figure things out. But, where does on begin to start such a task?

Radin’s vocal melodies are effortlessly catchy and his soft tenor sits atop a set of earworm pop songs. Hoffman’s melodies are a little more jagged, offering an excellent mix-up from Radin’s more ABAB structures. “Learned Behavior” is similar to “In Love Or Whatever” in spirit, chronicling life after graduation. However, it works as a build, hitting catharsis as Hoffman proclaims, “I wonder if self-loathing is learned behavior / if so can I unlearn it too?”

Future Teens’ songs are mostly light-hearted, even when exploring deeper feelings. The guitars are bright and warm, lending themselves wonderfully to the four chord bounce of “What’s My Sign Again?” and to slower and heavier numbers “Expiration Dating” and “Kissing Chemistry.” The two slow jams, clocking in at just under six  and five minutes, are among the album’s highlights. “Kissing Chemistry” finds Hoffman analyzing the ends of a relationship over arpeggiated guitars. The song is expertly navigated, holding out on the payoff before tension boils over into an explosion of guitar layers. “Expiration Dating” is similarly withdrawn, utilizing a loud/quiet dynamic that stretches itself without getting long in the tooth. Radin clocks in with an excellent vocal performance, though it feels like a moment when bigger problems could be addressed. While it fits within the album’s themes of the difficulties pertaining to modern romance, a composition like this could handle a topic a little more profound than forgetting to text someone back. Everything doesn’t have to be life or death, though, and the take away from Hard Feelings is hardly disappointment. Rather, this is another step in the right direction for a band brimming with promise.


Stream Hard Feelings on Spotify:


REVIEW: Haley Heynderickx at Lincoln Hall


 MORGAN MARTINEZ

MORGAN MARTINEZ


by Sara McCall

Beneath cerulean light, sans band (at home in Portland), a composed and graceful Haley Heynderickx opened her solo set with “The Bug Collector” — a symbolic tale of an effort to spare a loved one of the paranoia and anxiety that plagues them.

Following a reverent applause from the crowd, the artists’ deep and round voice earnestly declared “I don’t like writing romantic songs.” By “romantic”, I’d guess she meant “flowery” or “lovey-dovey”, because the driving force of Heynderickx’s writing style is how beautifully and romantically she writes about the unromantic parts of love.

With lyrics like “Fate is a sundress, / ripped at the thigh” or “I showed you a body like a cluttered garage” or even the playful interior monologue of her most popular song “Oom Sha La La” it’s no wonder Heynderickx easily awes her crowd.

Later on she bantered, “I realize I have this curse that, when people date me they find their soul partner right after.” Sympathetic coos erupted from the crowd, only to be met with “Oh no it’s okay. I feel like I’m helping.” Heynderickx then launched into, “Show You a Body” - a song known for its haunting mantra, “I am humbled by breaking down.”

Heynderickx is absolutely right— she is helping, her recently released record I Need to Start a Garden, helps. It helps if you’re healing from any kind of separation: from a partner, from your city, from your youth.

 MORGAN MARTINEZ

MORGAN MARTINEZ

I Need To Start a Garden is a kind of emotional “spring cleaning” of one’s identity— a real-time account of which perspectives and behaviors from our past can stay and which must go.

Heynderickx’s lyricism and lush use of imagery make her one of my favorite new singer-songwriters. The minimal (but not at all lesser!) nature of Heynderickx’s performance commanded a level of attention and dedication from the audience that is seldom given to the opening act. It was a feeling more akin to witnessing.

Haley Heynderickx is easily my favorite new singer-songwriter, and one whose name I’d wager will continuously pop-up in the months to come.


REVIEW: Goat Girl's Self-Titled Debut Album


 Photo by Holly Whitaker / Courtesy of  Chromatic Publicity

Photo by Holly Whitaker / Courtesy of Chromatic Publicity


by Ava Mirzadegan

Goat Girl doesn’t care what you (or your fancy hair) think. The South London band’s full-length debut is a dose of cyanide with apathy on the side. With drowsy vocals and eerie backing accompaniment, every song seems straight out of the Peaky Blinders soundtrack. Each of the album’s 19 songs act as vignettes of unrest and despondence.

The first track, “Salty Sounds,” gives a taste of what the album has to offer. A slightly de-tuned piano plays a dingy half-step circus tune, leaving the listener uneasy for a minute. Similarly, most of the album’s songs are under or around 3 minutes long, allowing the constant shift between sonic landscapes and subject matter.

Album standouts: “Creep,” “Viper Fish,” “The Man,” “I Don’t Care Pt. 1,” “I Don’t Care Pt. 2”, “Throw Me a Bone,” and “Tomorrow”

Unemphatically violent, “Creep” addresses the pervasive experiences of women on public transport. The outline of a bass guitar is colored in by a fiddle, giving a western ghost-town vibe, while Lottie’s voice drawls about the scummy behavior of a fellow passenger. “Creep on the train/ I really want to smash your head in.”

The fourth track, “Viper Fish,” is spurred along by a stop-and-go drum beat, lingering drones, and two-part vocal harmonies. The song picks up with fuzzy guitar licks and jangly chords as they implores the listener to find an antidote to phallic influence and “this accumulating smoke.” The build up consists of the repeated phrase “Don’t shed a tear/ we all feel shame.” It crescendos into an abrupt transition into the next track, an echoey spoken word piece.

Despite the song’s title, “The Man” is less about a man than it is about shifting the romantic narrative of heteronormative gender roles. The declaration “you’re the man for me” is more empowering than infatuated in nature, asserting a more active stance in the relationship. Lottie is telling said man that she’s made her decision… and he might have what it takes to be her’s. The music video, a clever reversal of Beatle-mania, shows the four piece establishing their dominion over countless fawning fanboys.

Perhaps the most up-beat song on the album, is the guitar-driven “I Don’t Care Pt. 1.” It is a  jagged ballad of apathy, punctuated by snare drum and tambourine. Reciprocal guitar and bass riffs make way to the cathartic chorus, “I don’t care.” Picking up a few tracks later, “I Don’t Care Pt. 2” has an equally 50’s-style country-tinged guitar. A continuation of the chorus is followed by heightening hums.

In a modern gothic-folk take on 70’s acid rock, “Throw Me a Bone” warns against concession prizes. “If you throw me a bone/ then I’ll throw you back a sharp stone.” Goat Girl isn’t looking for a pat on the back or a participation ribbon. They’ll earn what they work for, no thanks to anyone- a theme that is mirrored in the album’s final track.

“Tomorrow,” demands for the rightful destinies they are entitled to. A drab look into the future of “all work and no play,” Goat Girl refuses to be a fool for tomorrow. They are both regretful and unsatisfied in their remembrance of giving up their yesterdays. “I was born to be a dancer/ I won’t take no for an answer.” Teetering off into a field recording of birds and wildlife, the album ends on a semblance of optimism and hope for the future.

Goat Girl is a collage of feminism, politics, and just plain badassery. In what reads like an erratic series of journal entries, the band of young Londoners takes you on an unsettling merry-go-round of despair. The album was released April 6th on Rough Trade Records and is available on all streaming platforms. They will also be coming stateside for a handful of support dates with Parquet Courts this summer.

Stream Goat Girl on Spotify:


GOAT GIRL TOUR DATES

April 12th Liverpool, UK @ Shipping Forecast
April 13th Dublin, IE @ Grand Social
April 14th Sheffield, UK @ Picture House
April 16th Birmingham, UK @ Hare & Hounds
April 17th London, UK @ Garage
April 19th Leicester, UK @ The Cookie
April 20th Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
April 21st Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
May 5th Hebden Bridge, UK @ Trades Club
May 14th Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
May 15th Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique
May 16th Paris, FR @ L’Espace B
May 23rd Boston, MA @ Royale*
May 24th Providence, RI @ Fete Ballroom*
May 25th Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall*
May 26th Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount*
May 27th Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Theatre*
May 28th Detroit, MI @ El Club*
May 30th Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre*
May 31st Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line*
June 1st Lawrence, KS @ The Granada*
June 2nd St. Louis, MO @ Ready Room*
June 3rd Nashville, TN @ Basement East*
June 5th Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel*
June 6th Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle*
June 7th Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club*
June 8th Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
July 21st Thirsk, UK @ Deer Shed Festival
August 16-19th Brecon Beacons @ Green Man Festival
Sept. 6-9th Portmeirion, UK @ Festival No. 6

* supporting Parquet Courts


REVIEW: Queen of Jeans Record Release at Underground Arts



By Arthi Selvan

If falling in love seems hard, then falling in love with four people on the same night seems impossible, yet watching Queen of Jeans perform at Underground Arts for their record release show on March 31 felt like gaining a handful of new crushes. Their album, Dig Yourself, follows the story of a romance, either with someone else or with yourself, and has a ‘60s school dance, first love feeling to it. Dig Yourself is just as much about a romance with someone else as it is having a relationship with yourself. As the band states, Dig Yourself has two meanings -- it means to love yourself and all that entails but it also means to move past the surface layers of yourself and analyze what’s underneath.

Falling in love with a band that can shred on stage is not a hard feat to accomplish. The three founding members of Queen of Jeans, Miriam Devora, Mathson Glass, and Nina Scotto had all played in other bands but each were made into an accessory and told to hold a tambourine in the back of the band. This misogyny still follows them as they all left their previous acts to form the formidable band they’re in now with drummer Patrick Wall.

The band says that the misogyny they feel as a band comprised of women is something they use to “ignite a new, more assertive energy that has only [continued] to empower [them].” Unlike their previous arrangements, all their talents are prioritized in this band. It is evident that each member holds significance to the music being produced. This shows through with their choice of having backup vocals. Devora, the lead vocalist, may sing most of the lyrics but the harmony vocalists, sung by guitarist Glass and bassist Scotto, bring the band and album an airy, ethereal feel which is reminiscent of 60’s pop bands.

The nod to 60’s girl groups is satirized by the backup vocals, roles primarily held by only women while the instruments and lead vocals were played and sung by men. Backup vocals once started as a subpar misogynistic role, but Queen of Jeans uses them as forefront of their music.

As a romance progresses, there are the natural highs and lows of the relationship which are tracked in this album as well. The album starts with the upbeat single “More to Love”, released at the end of January, which notes the beginning of the relationship. The melody is buoyant, similar to when you first fall in love. The fourth track on “Dig Yourself” is one of the slower songs on the album. Stripped of the bass guitar and drums, Devora’s heart-rendering voice sings with Glass and Scotto, “you are never alone with me, you say / You’ll never be alone with me / you can try, you can try, but you won’t succeed / you’ll never be alone with me.” A soft tempo song that is less sorrowful and more similar to a more familial or platonic love, one that seems everlasting. The song is backgrounded by the sounds of waves crashing on a beach.

It is followed on the album by a single released a month before Dig Yourself’s debut, “U R My Guy” which embodies 60’s girl groups, without the misogynistic part. While the lead singer proclaims “you are my guy”, the harmony singers softly carol “he’s so fragile when he belongs to me” flipping the sexist stereotypes usually put forward by all male bands singing love songs.

This indie-pop harmonic quartet proves they are a band that needs to be paid attention to through their killer live sets. With only an EP out, their musical abilities earned them a spot in WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival, Made in America, and SXSW and helped them win a full US tour with Balance & Composure and From Indian Lakes. It is no secret why they have been gaining such popularity before their debut album even released. Watching Glass shred during “Sick Day” during the record release show felt transcendent. Instead of her hitting every single note, it was like her and the guitar were playing and riffing off each other. The second to last song of their set, all the members except for the front person put down their instruments and left the stage, leaving Devora some time to express her gratitude to the audience but also to her family.

She dedicated the next song, “You’re Never Alone” to her supportive family and started strumming on her guitar as Glass and Scotto came to join her on stage with only their vocals. Together, they serenaded us with the same emotion that went into writing the song. Unadulterated by most instruments, the band felt raw and honest with utmost sophistication.

Queen of Jeans’ debut album feels like the coming of age story for this dreamy quartet from South Philly. Their full album was released on the March 30th everywhere through Topshelf Records.

Stream Queen of Jeans Dig Yourself below:


TOUR DATES

w/ Pianos Become Teeth, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid To Die
4/27 - Raleigh, NC @ Imurj
4/28 - Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
4/29 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
5/1 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda
5/2 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/4 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
5/5 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg
5/6 - San Francisco, CA @ Slims
5/8 - Portland, OR @ Holocene
5/9 - Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
5/11 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
5/12 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
5/13 - Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
5/14 - Nashville, TN @ Exit/In

w/ Oso Oso
6/29 - Amityville, NY @ Amityville Music Hall
6/30 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Park Brewery
7/1 - Washington, D.C. @ Songbyrd
7/2 - Cleveland, OH @ Mahall's
7/3 - Indianapolis, IN @ Hoosier Dome
7/5 - St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
7/6 - Springfield, MO @ Outland Bar

w/ Citizen, Oso Oso, and Teenage Wrist
7/7 - Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th St
7/8 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
7/9 - San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
7/11 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
7/12 - San Diego, CA @ The Irenic
7/13 - Los Angeles, CA @ Sound & Fury Festival
7/14 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Lodge
7/15 - Berkely, CA @ Cornerstone
7/16 - Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst Atrium
7/18 - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne
7/19 - Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
7/21 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
7/22 - Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
7/23 - Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room
7/24 - Dekalb, IL @ House Cafe


REVIEW: KAINA's Debut EP "4u"

 Music Video By  Dennis Larance

Music Video By Dennis Larance

Kaina Castillo is a 22 year old first-generation Latina rising in the Chicago music scene. After being mentored by Chicago natives like the O’My’s, the mega-magical singer’s multidisciplinary work around the city has finally brought her to a sound all her own. Castillo released her soft and soulful debut R&B EP, 4u, on March 16. The 3-track compilation, "cry," "happy", and "4u", produced by longtime friend Sen Morimoto takes you to a warm world dripping with Castillo’s honey vocals. This EP is a follow-up to her collaborating with the Burns Twins on sweet asl. Castillo was recently a direct opener for Kali Uchis at Concord Music Hall, Jamila Woods at House of Vans and played Mamby on the Beach in 2017.

"happy" is Castillo’s first music video, and with visuals by Dennis Larance and design by Kevin Shark her flowery aesthetic is brought to life. She is bathed in a calming blue light as the camera zooms in on her glittery eyeshadow and wavy dark hair. Plant life surrounds the black-romper clad crooner as she holds flowers and vines, looking like Mother Earth herself. Castillo is here to bless us with a project that is perfect for these upcoming starry summer nights.

The EP flows seamlessly as tinkering piano notes float below Castillo’s hauntingly beautiful voice, giving the listener the sensation of gliding through water. It is easy to know the words of Castillo’s lullabies, each sentence folding into the next. In cry Castillo sings “Sunny day won’t take your love for granted / Just stay this way there’s nothing better than you in the worth that makes the bad things get much better / Oh I hope and pray that things will never fade.” She ends the number with a rhythmic homage snapping as she encourages listeners ‘lean with it and rock with it’ with her.
 

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REVIEW: Emily Blue's Music Video Release "Cellophane"

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Chicago’s Emily Blue creates some of the catchiest bubblegum pop tunes I’ve heard in a while.

Her self-described “glitchy pop” is refreshing as hell -- think FKA twigs meets Sylvan Esso, with technicolor aesthetics and the modern twist of calling out the faults of the patriarchy. Her newest track, “Cellophane” takes her poppy sound and vintage feel to the next level while simultaneously smashing (literally, with a bat) these patriarchal standards. The accompanying visuals, out today, were produced/edited/directed by Sarah Zelman (Zeltron2020). Met with the infectiously catchy song, produced by Max Perenchio, “Cellophane” is an exciting precursor to Emily’s forthcoming EP, *69.

“Cellophane,” which just dropped last week, pokes fun at the patriarchal power dynamics we sometimes experience in relationships. “Don't you wish everything was still wrapped up in cellophane? / Put it by the door and walk away; / I'm just hoping that you see it and you call someday,” she confesses charmingly in the chorus. “Do you still want me, do you still need me in your arms, / or is there somebody else you’re dreaming of when I'm gone?” her dreamy voice soars in the second verse.

 Behind the scenes of Production Designer  Olivia J. Laird  /  Photo by Matthew Hollis

Behind the scenes of Production Designer Olivia J. Laird /

Photo by Matthew Hollis

The video follows Emily between two lives -- a housewife and a singer. It flashes back and forth between her cleaning and cooking, and singing into an old microphone, all with the colorful retro look and feel of the ‘50s. The mood changes, however, with less than a minute left of the video, when Emily drops her Jell-O cake and all hell breaks loose.  She begins to trash the house, smashing furniture with a bat to the soundtrack of glitchy synths and one last chanted chorus. If we’re being honest, we’ve all been in a relationship at one point or another that made us want to take a bat to the house.

Although the video takes place from a ‘50s housewife’s point of view, the team behind it met under sheerly modern circumstances, as director Sarah Zelman explained. “I met Emily and every member of my crew separately through Instagram. I think that we are in a renaissance of art enabled by social media where creators can find other like-minded people and network in new ways.”

Watch the video for “Cellophane” below:
 

Follow Emily Blue on social media here:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

REVIEW: Emily Yacina's "Katie" EP Confronts The Complex Questions of the Human Condition


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emily yacina
"katie"

Released February 10th on Bandcamp.


by Ava Mirzadegan

A little over a month ago, prolific bandcamp musician, Emily Yacina, released a three song collection entitled Katie. Short and bittersweet, Katie is seemingly simple yet laced with the complex questions of the human condition. The album art, a magic 8-ball icosahedron with "K A T I E" written on it, evokes the finding of an answer in the album's namesake.

On the first track, "Good graces," Yacina's voice mostly stays within the higher end of her register, accompanied by soft guitar strums and lilting synth harmonies. As the song goes on, the flow of energy builds and releases: a sonic representation of emotional tide lines.

"I come clean I want you on my team/ even if you’re miles ahead.” Her words describe the sensation of longing in the face of separation. Whether that separation is emotional or physical, Yacina's meditation can be applied to fit any experience.

"Where are all the certainties I knew?" she asks, of no one in particular. Her question setting the tone of the mini-album, with the theme reaching beyond feelings for a person into a more existential longing.

Either by way of serendipitous circumstance or clever circumspection, the second track, "So easy," clocks in at 1 minute and 23 seconds.

The song depicts the experience of falling in a love so effortlessly perfect that she is filled with questions of how it could be. "You hold my heart still/ how'd you find me here?" An instrumental passage fills the stillness before Yacina's voice returns to say "wipe the sugar off/ my mouth with your hand/ here I fall for you."

On the nominal track, "Katie," she sings about the fortitude of her emotions and desire for an omniscient view of the world around her. It’s a concept she's sung about before, in "As We Go" off her 2011 release, Reverie.

The final track brings back a focus on the past and present. She notices "a penny from 2010 is buried in the dirt." The reflective morbidity of the line is almost buried within the song itself, which is lighter at first listen.

"But I'm in the sky instead." Floating among the clouds, Yacina is grappling to maintain footing, using Katie as a means for grounding her.

Alternating between the strumming of muddy chords and arpeggiated picking, the tonal rise and fall are especially poignant. A shift during the last verse from ascending to descending notes reflects the return to reality in another's arms.

Katie is a well-thought-out body of work that exemplifies Yacina’s willingness to delve deeper. It’s available on Spotify and bandcamp, as a pay-what-you-can album. While you’re at it, spend some time with her other releases — you won’t regret it.

Keep up with Emily Yacina on Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


REVIEW: Kississippi's 'Easier To Love' Vocalizes Strength, Change and Vulnerability


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'easier to love'

Sunset Blush available April 6th.

MEGAN THOMPSON


by Arthi Selvan

Kississippi’s new single, ‘Easier To Love,’ makes you want to twirl around a sunlit apartment, spring breeze coming through the windows, wearing the outfit that makes you feel like the hottest person in the room, and hanging out with just yourself and your cat. The catchy lyrics have me singing along with the front-person, Zoe Reynolds, “Up to now I’ve given all I got / You can always keep it if you want / I’ll make myself easier to love” while reminiscing on all the relationships I’ve been in where I’ve been told that I am hard to love.

In conjunction with their December release of the single “Cut Yr Teeth”, these singles feel more grown up than their 2015 EP We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed. While the softness of this Philadelphia-based band is still apparent in this new single from their new album, Sunset Blush, which will drop on April 6th, there’s an ever-feeling presence of refinement.

The parts that helped this band score an opening spot on Dashboard Confessional’s US tour hold true: strong vocals, poignant lyrics, solid drum beats, melodic guitar riffs, and rhythmic bass lines, but all cultivated into one powerful single about celebrating independence and careful vulnerability.

The single starts off with cool synth overtones and brings in elements that allow Reynolds’ voice to sound more unadulterated. The climax of the song takes a pause before the crescendo of head-banging drums and reappearance of room-filling vocals. This gives this single, and hopefully the new album, a more sophisticated feel, like they have graduated from the dreamy lo-fi punk to the powerhouse pop punk that is about to take over music.

Catch Kississippi on tour with Dashboard Confessional and Beach Slang below:

3/26 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
3/27 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
3/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
3/30 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
3/31 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
4/02 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony
4/03 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
4/04 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
4/05 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
4/06 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
4/07 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
4/08 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada Theatre
4/09 – Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall
4/13 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre
4/14 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
4/16 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
4/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
4/18 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
4/20 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blue
4/21 – Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Palladium


REVIEW: Bristletongue's 'Femme Florale' EP Beautifully Conveys Love and Loss


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by Violet Foulk

If you aren’t listening to Illinois four piece, Bristletongue, you need to start.

Following similar footsteps of melancholic slowcore songwriter Julien Baker, with the added full band aesthetic of groups like TWIABP&IANLATD or Nervous Dater, Bristletongue takes only four tracks to wrestle with the fragility of loss and despair in their beautifully cohesive debut EP, Femme Florale.

Released only six months ago, the band’s first track “Thistle Among Roses” is an ode to self-doubt and heartbreak. Vocalist L Morgan, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, sings, “I am nothing special, a mediocre voice and song” over a backbone of somber guitar melodies. “Was it worth the wait / To see me on my way?” they croon as the instrumentals pick up. “Daisy Chain” follows, as they sing lightly over a heavier guitar line, “I keep dead daisies / They keep me company / When you leave quite hastily / When you tear your roots out clean.” The lyrics, although emo at their base, become layered with L Morgan’s seemingly classically trained vocals.

“Dandelion” and “Ivy Creep” start out slow and delicate, but are no less extraordinary. “My love, the wall I climb / Mortar and vine intertwine / I’m sorry for the mess I am,” L Morgan agonizes. “Lest we forget / Loving me was not your best bet,” they sing sorrowfully at the end of “Ivy Creep.”

Bristletongue conveys love and loss in only four songs, no less. The flower motif that follows the EP is beautifully done, and the band’s next release will surely be another remarkable work.


Keep up with Bristletongue below:
https://bristletongue.bandcamp.com/album/femme-florale
https://www.facebook.com/bristletongue/
https://twitter.com/bristletongueIL
https://www.instagram.com/bristletongueil/


G-Eazy at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

 all photos by  Mike G. 

all photos by Mike G. 


A matte black tour bus parked behind a barbed wire fence, a line full of fans winding through the surrounding streets, and the hum of excitement carried through cold air, G-Eazy had touched down in Chicago.

With Kevin, his personal barber parked outside the venue, front and center inside of a silver camper serving as a pop-up barber shop, you immediately understand going to a G-Eazy concert is a multidimensional experience. It is not just music and dance, it is his own world.

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As night falls, the rambunctious crowd grows impatient. In due time, the sold out venue opens its doors to the awaiting fans, and the night begins. The lines flood through the warm lobby, up the gold and blue tiled staircase, and onto the main floor of the breathtaking Aragon Ballroom.

With support from Anthony Russo and Phora, the opening acts showcase their talent flawlessly. Not long after, the crowd is ready when the lights dim, and with the haunting words, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beautiful & Damned” are spoken by none other than Halsey, cueing Act I of a three part show.

Emerging from the smoke filled shadows, clad in black and leather, G-Eazy steps toward a center stage mic stand. Scanning the enormous crowd with a villainous smirk, the Oakland based rapper kicks off the most impressive production of his career.

To showcase the highs and lows of living a rock-n-roll lifestyle, as well as the dual personality he believes is caused by being a Gemini, G-Eazy has split his production into three separate acts, the first being “The Beautiful”, the second being “The Damned”, and inevitably finishing with “The Epilogue”.

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G-Eazy closed out the night with his song ‘Eazy’, and reunited with the stage one last time sporting a personalized Cubs jersey for a two song encore. Jumping off stage, joining the fans, and eventually whipping his jersey into the crowd, G-Eazy has yet again proven to be the top tier performer he has always cut out to be. From selling mixtapes on the corner, to selling out shows worldwide, Gerald Gillum is the must see performer of 2018.

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