Lala Lala Finds Purpose and Beauty in Transformative New Record "The Lamb"

The most fitting way to describe Lala Lala’s second record, The Lamb, is that it’s intentional. Intentional in its songwriting. Intentional in its instrumentation. Intentional in its production.

The Lamb reveals itself song by song to be a mature and beautifully crafted record. Songwriter and guitarist Lillie West was emboldened by a vision to create a meaningful work that reflects how her life has changed since Lala Lala’s debut. The 12 tracks represent an opportunity to absolve prior transgressions and meditate on how to truly live from here on out.

“It was intentional writing in a way that I had never done before,” West says. “I had never written in that way before, so it was interesting to see that I could do it.”

It’s a radical shift from the Chicago-based band’s first album, Sleepyhead, released in 2016.

“I was writing emotionally only, but I didn’t consider the recording process,” West says. “It just happened.”

The Lamb is different, mainly because West, 24, is different. She’s becoming sober, which she describes as a decision that she has to make every single day.

“In some ways it was challenging,” West explains of the process of going sober. “In some ways it will always be challenging. It was easy in that I didn’t have a choice anymore.”

West artfully sifts through these changes in “Water Over Sex.” Her ethereal voice glides over the words, “You think I’m good / Well I want to be gooder,” and she rejoices in the fact that she is “suddenly full / here is belonging.” Guiding the pulsing guitar, West traces her continuing transformation and finds comfort in progressing from her self-destructive past to her honest present.

It would be a disservice to reduce West’s path to sobriety and wellness to simply black and white. There will still be days where she struggles with addiction and times where she becomes even more paranoid than before.

“It’s not pretty or absolute,” she says.

Now, West is able siphon out her soul to explore the nuances of her sprawling feelings. She feels loneliness. She feels surprise. She feels love. Acutely self-aware, she connects and deciphers these intense emotions throughout the album to explore how far she has come and how much more she has to go.

But despite her resolve to make herself better, West grapples with being able to extend that wish onto those she loves. The driving chorus of “When You Die” is in essence a mantra: “Keep my friends safe night and day / Keep my friends safe now and always.” West simultaneously recognizes the security of a deep-seated desire to save one’s friends from harm but also the futility of it.

The album is bound by introspection such as this and is dotted with animal imagery, as if West has stitched together her own book of nursery rhymes.

One such song, “Dove,” is tender yet chilling to the bone.  West’s voice climbs from a low murmur to raspy angelic heights as she sings: “I did the right thing, / And for what? / For some prettiness / That I don’t believe.” After experiencing heartbreaking loss, West manifests her pain in “Dove” to make it the most emotionally devastating yet undeniably the most beautiful song on the record.  

The most distinct symbol, though, comes from the succinct album title itself: the lamb. The title ties together the storied strings of loss, love and, perhaps most importantly, metamorphosis.

“The album is about me relearning how to be a person after becoming sober,” West says. “I’m a lamb. I’m a baby sheep discovering other things for the first time.”

PREMIERE: John Cyrus’ Pop Fantasy ‘Party’s Over’


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by Scout Kelly


John Cyrus, a dream pop project from Nashville, is ready to share some new music in 2018 with a two track release, I Know I Know I Know, that will render you both melancholic and ready to dance. John Cyrus have often found their way onto my playlists for this exact reason. Their single, “Playin” from last year drew me in with an upbeat spin on the process of watching a love unwind right in front of your eyes when there’s nothing you can do about it.

The trio, made up of Nathan Klages, Darin Rajabian, and Madeline Privott, have a knack for making songs that don’t shy away from the part of the heart where anxiety and desire meet. Each song is something like a fantasy, where the musician and the listener both enter a world with fog machines and confetti. You want to dance with someone across from you, but you’re too scared to ask, so you wind up dancing alone.

“Party’s Over” is a lovely pop track that that details that paralyzing nature of emotions, how easily you can go through an entire story in your head before making a move, but before you know it- the party is over and everyone has to go home, even if you aren’t ready.


What I love about each John Cyrus track is the music often contradicts the mood. They offer a glimmer of consolation, hope, and an opportunity to dance out whatever gloom might befall the broken-hearted or emotionally-hungover.

Click here to pre-save the tracks and follow John Cyrus on Spotify


PREMIERE: Chicago-Based Experimental Band Ze'ev Releases New Record

Interview by Rivka Yeker

Ze'ev is comprised of Balto, Clyde, and Zack. The band deliberately bends genre and defies expectation of direction and influence. They are one of Chicago's most innovative bands, and GTP is filled with both chaotic twists & turns and smooth comedowns. Hooligan was able to sit and discuss the record itself and Ze'ev's overall sound / intention. 

 photo by Kelly Butler

photo by Kelly Butler


 

In what ways is this record different than your previous releases?

Clyde: Kismet, and our previous EPs were very much in the vein of longer drawn out instrumentals and a bit of what I was writing at the time as a small foundation. We were really just starting as a band and building our sound and still are. GTP is a result of what happens when everyone is involved in the writing process as a complete unit.

What message(s) do you want Ze'ev to give to your listeners? 

Balto: We literally tolerate no bullshit. We’ve had our fair share of experiences that have made us so tired. This is an album for a marginalized group made by a marginalized group and we hope for those who are struggling, you feel the love and support we have for each other in this album and take those positive vibes with you.

There is a lot of genre-bending in this record, which is so sick. How did you choose what kind of artists you wanted to be featured on the album since there is no one direction its going in?

Zack: Thank you. Our collaborators were all fellow artists who we've been lucky enough to meet and meld minds with over the years. While creating the record, we knew we wanted to have a full collection of voices driving home the themes on this record, not just our own, and we started contacting people who we knew would be able to take our concept and add their own perspectives, strengthening the overall message.

What makes something "Experimental"?

Zack: Experimental is a hard term to define in an overall sense, but I know Ze'ev uses this term as a description to rid ourselves of boundaries. All three of us bring so many disparate influences and experiences to this project and we never want an arbitrary genre label to hold us back. Saying we're an "experimental band" is a way for us to leave every idea we have on the table and never to be afraid to explore anything, musically or otherwise, that we vibe with. It's always been a goal of ours to shapeshift strictly based on our collective intuition, and in my humble opinion, you keep that communication open by allowing it to stay abstract and unlabeled.

I know your tastes vary. The album feels like a mix of skramz, post-rock, sludge, jazz, and twinkly emo. Who and what inspired the record?

Clyde: GTP stems from so many things. Inside jokes within the band, personal struggles, etc. We could talk forever about musical influences but Funkadelic, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Unwound, Charles Mingus, and of course, Lil B the Based God are deeply rooted in this album.

What do you hope people feel after listening to GTP?

Balto: I hope people feel love, peace, and patience while listening to this album and what I mean by Patience in particular is that I urge you to really hear what everyone has to say throughout GTP.

Bury Me at Mitski's Rodeo



by Katie Burke

In a dark bar, clutching a phone to my ear, is where I decide that Mitski has a catalog of my sins. Someone has pulled up Lonesome Love and it’s my first time hearing it. When she sings, Nobody butters me up like you do and nobody fucks me like me, I feel an immediate urge to call a lyft. To go home to my apartment, light a candle for myself and put my ass to bed.

The first thing I do when I listen to a new Mitski album is think about myself.

Listen. I do the thing we all do. I beg to relate to whatever it is that I find beautiful or interesting. I assign a relationship or an experience to each song, and then I make it mine. Mitski makes this, not necessarily easy, but wonderfully possible. Like honesty. Like shifting weight.

There is more of a pop aspect to this album than there ever has been in Mitski’s music. There are bops like, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me” interspersed between the expected guitar-heavy ballads like, “Geyser” or “Pink in The Night”. Songs to scream-cry to.

I want to talk about the bops. Get in your car, or get on the train, or the bus while you listen to “Why Didn’t You Stop Me”. Look out the window and feel how everything can move as quickly as your heart does. How buildings can turn to blur as quickly as you begin to feel the twinge of shame from the lyrics I know I ended it, but why didn’t you chase after me? You know me better than I do. So why didn’t you stop me?

Put your hands on your head. What you’re feeling is whiplash.

There are multiple songs that function like breaks between paragraphs. A breather. Songs under two minutes that allow your heart to relax, to mend from all her honesty. Like the line in “A Horse Named Cold Air”,

I thought I had traveled a long way
but I had circled
the same old sin

I need a week in bed.

The first time I heard Mitski was in 2014 when Bury Me at Makeout Creek was released. I wrote a review of it. I had never felt compelled to review anything before. I wrote that it made me feel young, like a teenager. I wrote that I felt thankful that I was no longer in my teens, but my twenties. How did I imagine this being easier? I don’t want to assign an age to this album. But there is definitely a clarity to the sadness. Imagine a light getting turned on inside a room which darkness’ you have already adjusted to. Everyone is always getting older.

We should be thankful that Mitski has let her art become this kind of time capsule. A museum of what she was feeling at the time, with enough room for everyone else to engage. Space to say, I have felt this way, I have placed my hand on something marked OPEN FLAME and felt satisfaction. I have made the same mistake. Again. And again.

This album says here is what your desperation can sound like; beautiful. Here is how you are alone, and that is how you are always winning.

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Stream Be the Cowboy below


The Internet’s Hive Mind Reestablishes Why They’re a Force to be Reckoned With

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Hive Mind is both a recorded antithesis to a potential career of following groupthought and a titular nod to the increasing sonic cohesion the collective has formed in their almost decade tenure of producing full-length projects for public consumption; The Internet has proven in the extent of that time to have moved immeasurable strides away from being the Los Angeles-based outfit known for its tangentiality to Odd Future. Syd Bennett remains the primary vocalist, lulling the 13-track LP into a melodic, neo-soul fantasy replete with Steve Lacy’s funk-oriented bass, backup vocals, Martians’ contributing synths and drums, in addition to Paige and Smith serving as multi-instrumentalists; this is by no means an exhaustive list of the sum of all their parts flowing together on this album.

The album sets off with “Come Together,” Syd stating, “They gon’ get us to come together / I forgot my pride / Stronger than your lies / Wanna get so high / Wanna live my life.” This could be an ode to the perservance warranted in many existential crises, but most obviously is an anthemic proclamation to the band’s return from a 3-year hiatus, each member taking time to release solo material in between their departure and Hive Mind. The return is polished, confident and reaffirming of their 2016 Grammy-nod for best Urban Contemporary album; and, in contrast with their respectively nominated, Ego Death, Hive Mind is stripped of the plentiful, attention-drawing features, the group holding itself together as a primarily self-sustaining project with the support of rapper Kauri Faux on percussion for “Hold On,” and Atlanta-native Big Rube providing spoken-word on “It Gets Better (With Time).”

The Internet still impressively stitches a multi-genre sound together of jazz, funk, hip-hop and more that pleases the heart and soul without necessarily needing to reinvent their own wheel; the collective has found a model that serves them perfectly and has spent time fine-tuning that sound over the years, through losing and gaining membership, that offers a maturation in structure that long and first time supporters can appreciate in unison.

Hive Mind’s second single, “Come Over” is a measured response to the trepidatious, modern-day, “Will they or won’t they?” led by Bennett in the first act, ushering Lacy into the second. Syd croons to a disaffected love interest, “I’ll bring the champagne / Don’t turn me down, babe / We can play Simon Says / Or watch TV in bed / Wake with the sunrise / Sleep in it’s all right / We ain’t even gotta sex.” This laidback single is interspered between songs like their third single “La Di Da,” which gives Lacy the driverseat and dives further into Funk, establishing a tracklist of high and low energy appropriate for any setting you find yourself listening to this project.

REVIEW: RUINS - Self-titled EP


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ruins


self-titled EP

Released June 17th on Dumpster Tapes.


by Colin Smith

Given local band Cafe Racer’s affinity for melodic noise, ambience, and krautrock rhythms, I was excited to hear one of their members, Adam Schubert, decided to launch a solo project.

Ruins started during a brief period between moving from a relationship to another three-flat with his Cafe Racer bandmates. In turn, Schubert’s songs carry the sound of impermanence and isolation.

The songs aren’t breakup blues, though. They sound more sorrowful and lonely on a deeper level.

The self-titled EP echoes the likes of Atlas Sound, Kurt Vile, and a bit of lo-fi Elliot Smith. “Watch It Go” in particular borrows from Atlas Sound and Deerhunter with its minimal guitar playing and a tambourine washed in reverb. The record, and this song especially, uses textures masterfully.

As Schubert recorded the songs off an iPhone (“with just about every delay plug-in”), the bedroom songs have a bit of distance in the production that feeds into the record’s muddled mood.

Because of the lo-fi recording process and format, there’s also an intimacy to the songs. “Going Blind,” which features an acoustic guitar and a banjo, you can hear Schubert’s hands hitting and strumming the instruments. 

At its core, the songs are still written mostly in the familiar, pop format, even if they’re masqueraded under a veil of artful noise. Still, both a strength and a weakness of the songs is the heavy use of repetition. Schubert builds a large space with minimal instruments but the atmospheric music may require a listener to be in a particular mood.

On its best moments, the songs off of the EP hit deep, emotional space. The harmonica at the end of “So Long” sounds like a one long goodbye. And it’s impressive what moods Schubert can sculpt with just a guitar, as the tracks only include two or three instruments.

Ruins’ self-titled EP is music to listen to while on the train and noticing all the people hooked to their devices.


REVIEW: Cosmic Johnny, 'Good Grief'


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cosmic johnny


"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:


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


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


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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: 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: 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: 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/


REVIEW: Listen to Family Reunion's New EP - "J"

 by  Ellisa

by Scout Kelly

I’ve been introduced to an EP that’s become integrated into my sacred, Virgo morning-routine playlist for the past few days. The tracks on “J” by Family Reunion, produced by the Milwaukee-based artist Tombo, are groovy, catchy, and dreamy.

The project is headed by 18-year-old Jackie Carlson, based out of Waukegan, Illinois. The EP opens with the song “OMG” that gives off a bummer-summer, surf-vibe, with its slinky guitar licks and catchy refrain that fades off into distortion. Each track has a little bit of a different feel – part soulful melodic, part surf synth-pop. I am particularly drawn to the track “Bitter” for graceful use of dissonance to bring the mood. This EP feels like looking in the mirror and getting lost in a daydream or driving around at sunset just for the sake of motion.

"J" TRACKLIST:
1. OMG
2. Heaven
3. Vacation
4. Bitter
5. Cavity (Feat. Tombo)

Keep up with Family Reunion on Twitter and Instagram.

REVIEW: St. Vincent's 'MASSEDUCTION'

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by Amanda Waters

Preparing for St. Vincent’s fifth LP, MASSEDUCTION, I found myself engulfed in the feeling of meeting up with a best friend who I haven’t seen in years. My mind was littered with questions such as,  “Will we still have anything in common? How much have they changed?” and the fearful, “Will we still like each other after all this time spent apart?” 

My love for Annie Clark has been my longest relationship— a tender and heartfelt 14 year old self fell in love with Clark’s first album discovered via MySpace. I found solace in Marry Me when nothing else seemed to make me go, “Yes, this was made just for me.” Following suit,  Actor, Strange Mercy, and the self titled St. Vincent were also monumental soundtracks to my formative years. My fingers crossed over and over for MASSEDUCTION to make me once again say, “This is the best St. Vincent album.”

The album’s first single, “New York,” was ever-promising and fulfilling for my wishes of tear-jerking heartbreak. Sadness, loss, and peppered-in profanity were rationed in perfect portions of being genuine and nonchalant. The lyrics were an all-familiar melancholy that we can recognize from Clark but the absence of her signature sound of shredding guitar was the first taste of what this new album would unfold.

Upon the releases of “Los Ageless” and “Pills,” I sat in my car and marinated in the new sound. Bumping rhythms and lyrics longing to stick to the walls of my brain were executed in an accessible form— ready for radio. Adjusting my mind from assuming St. Vincent could only deliver us whimsical wind instruments and a wailing guitar, I nodded with acceptance that songs can be despondent while perfumed with pop. 

A graceful transition from catchy bangers unfolded into our well-known friend in “Happy Birthday, Johnny.” First appearing as simply ‘John’ in Marry Me and a reintroduction as ‘Johnny’ in “Prince Johnny,” I am overjoyed to see my old love in a new form. I see flashes of it once more when I make my way to the tracks “Dancing With a Ghost” and “Slow Disco.” The structure mimics “I Put A Pearl In The Ground” and “Landmines” where we experience an instrumental interlude followed by a song that references the previous song title. 

By this point in the album, it is evident that I am being led down to its heart-wrenching core. “Smoking Section” presented itself in the most transparent and naked truth that I have experienced a musician taking me. I am amazed, terrified, and comforted that Clark made the decision to let us in on thoughts we all might have had but have been too afraid to confess. 

With her rise in fame and place in the spotlight, Annie Clark could have taken the route of locking us out on all of the sensitive subjects that were explored in MASSEDUCTION. Keeping true to herself with themes of mental illness, kinks, loss, love, and suicide - we are able to better digest these with a side of upbeat tunes. St. Vincent is just the same, but brand new.


Tracklisting:

  1. Hang On Me
  2. Pills
  3. Masseduction
  4. Sugarboy
  5. Los Ageless
  6. Happy Birthday, Johnny
  7. Savior
  8. New York
  9. Fear The Future
  10. Young Lover
  11. Dancing with a Ghost
  12. Slow Disco
  13. Smoking Section


Buy MASSEDUCTION on Vinyl here, or stream on Spotify today. All tour dates here.

REVIEW: The Winter Passing's "Double Exposure"

  COURTESY OF BRIXTON AGENCY

COURTESY OF BRIXTON AGENCY

The Winter Passing’s 2017 E.P., “Double Exposure,” starts out with a riot of sound, there’s a wave of feedback and crashing cymbals, layered over quick guitar riffs. Confronting the listener with a wall of sound is one of The Winter Passing’s specialties. It’s how they opened their 2015 release, “A Different Space of Mind,” which opens with jubilant drums similar to the Pixie’s “Head On,” as siblings Rob and Kate Flynn alternate vocals.

In the opening track of “Double Exposure” Kate Flynn’s clear, sharp soprano takes over the bridge admitting, “You’re the only place that I feel safe.”

The second track, “Significance” opts for a more mellow, contemporary indie sound with looser bass-lines and a more relaxed drum beat. The instrumentation acts in direct opposition with the lyrics wherein Flynn begs, “Stay with me/ I’ll try to be all you need.”

A level of growth is expected between any band’s first and second E.P. In comparison to their 2015 release A Different Space of Mind, their sound got tighter and more cohesive, but this cohesiveness does not lessen the unbridled joy that seems to seep through each track. These tracks tackle some tough subjects, such as struggles with depression and anxiety — but the music itself is almost triumphant. It perfectly demonstrates the disjointed axis that one inhabits while trying to find joy in the midst of anxieties.

On “Like Flowers Ache for Spring” Rob and Kate Flynn sing, “We don’t think about/ leaving the house,” amidst an upbeat pop-punk drum beat, and somehow inferred tension between the upbeat sound and the resigned nature of the lyrics perfectly exemplifies depression. It’s not just a cartoon-grey-skies Cymbalta commercial completely devoid of color or any happiness for eight to twelve months, it’s this feeling that when something good does happen it feels scary and weird.

Other stand out tracks include “E*Sca*Pism” which features only Kate Flynn and her organ. The notes of the organ are eerie and electronic inspired, similar to an early eighties no wave song or a Stevie Nicks B-side. Flynn is mournful as she admits, “I’m used to running/ away/ from the light of day,” as the notes of the organ circle around her vocals. The gentle looping of the notes mirrors the repetitive nature of anxious thoughts.

This album operates interestingly on a lyrical level. Rob and Kate Flynn each wrote the lyrics separately, eventually combining their separate writings to present two distinct narratives which intertwine to provide the listener with the lived experience of anxiety and depression. This speaks to the simultaneous universality and isolation of mental health struggles, so often people feel like they are alone in experiences with anxiety or depression, but in reality it’s an experience that is shared by millions of people worldwide.

There is a bombastic energy in the Winter Passing’s sound, they clearly love and believe in the music that they’re playing, you can hear it in the excited pop punk guitar riffs and Kate Flynn’s exalted vocals and it makes Double Exposure an exciting listen.

Oftentimes within D.I.Y. or punk scenes, anger seems like the default emotion. Granted, there are mile-long lists of things to be angry about, but this record exemplifies tackling heavy subjects with cautious optimism.

REVIEW: Paramore's "After Laughter"

  LINDSEY BYRNES

LINDSEY BYRNES

With the recent influx of pop-punk themed cocktail hours and emo nights, I’ve tentatively developed a theory that we’re living in a 2008 renaissance. I recently found the perfect pair of black skinny jeans that would make my middle school self drool, and I heard a new Panic! At the Disco song on the radio. Most importantly, three years after their self-titled release, Paramore released their fifth album, After Laughter.

This album marks the return of band’s original drummer, Zac Farro, and a new synth-infused sound for the band. The lead single, “Hard Times,” utilizes ska-inspired beats that are similar to Rock Steady-era No Doubt. It’s more upbeat than previous records, and it could be the band’s first true pop banger. It’s infectious, but a troubled lyrical reality lurks beneath the neon hues of the music video as  Williams sings, “All that I want/ is to wake up fine/ Tell me that it’s alright/ that I ain’t gonna die.” It may seem superfluous to note, but no amount of synths can conceal a tough situation where the ideal outcome is simply not dying.

In the follow-up track Williams asks, “Just let me cry/ a little bit longer/ I ain’t gonna smile/ if I don’t want to.” This is actually one of the healthiest impulses I’ve heard in song-writing. So often, people are quick to try and eradicate their negative emotions  rather than give themselves the space to actually feel them.

Come to think of it, providing a space for fans to actually feel things is one of the reasons why emo as a genre has continued to thrive within rock ’n’ roll. This impulse to allow is one of the reasons why Paramore was such a great pop punk band in the first place. I first found Paramore a decade ago (!!!), when they released Riot, a record that both blew my mind and presented me with my first real crush. I was struck by the edge of the riffs and the pounding of the drums, as well as Williams’ very real and complex articulation of a deeper sadness that I didn’t yet have a name for.

The idea of discontent hiding beneath pristine realities is an integral theme throughout Paramore’s discography, and this record is no exception. “Fake Happy” starts with the stray acoustic chords and segues into tighter funk-infused guitars as Williams muses, “I bet everybody here is fake happy too.” In this track, Williams contemplates the tenuous nature of happiness itself as she admits, “I should have known that when things are going fine/ that’s when I get knocked down.” It’s an undeniably honest sentiment hidden beneath a pop guitar hook.

The following track, “26” is actually a softer acoustic track, paired with a string orchestra. It’s an eventually decadent orchestration, but the ethos of the song is similar to “Misguided Ghosts,” off of Paramore’s 2008 release, “Brand New Eyes.” The idea that, “dreamin’ is free,” would seem cheesy but Williams makes singing “Reality will break your heart,” thus allowing the honesty to drown out what would otherwise be considered cliche. Williams’ ability to use raw lyricism to transcend cliches has always been one of my favorite things about her writing, it speaks to her upbringing as an emo fan, and devotee of Sunny Day Real Estate and Jimmy Eat World.

Williams’ emo heritage also appears as she sings, “I can’t think of getting old/ it makes me want to die,” on “Caught in the middle.” It’s a line that’s deliciously saturated with feeling — one that anyone who appreciated Pete Wentz’s 2007 eye makeup job will also appreciate.  Similarly, the decision to include MeWithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss on, “No Friend” is another nod to Paramore’s pop punk roots.

Yet, musically Paramore references more mainstream pop projects like “E*MO*TION” era Carly Rae Jepsen  or HAIM via bouncy ‘80s inspired bass lines. This combination of emo sentiments with pop-rock riffs is magical. This record did the impossible: it has provided the former emo kids/ current emo twenty-somethings a summer soundtrack that won’t depress the shit out of whoever is riding shotgun.

This record is successful because Williams maintains an unflinching level of honesty throughout. The fact that she refuses to compromise her confessional style of songwriting is one of the reasons why the band’s experimentation with a pop sound feels so seamless. Sure, there may be some synths, and the line up may have shifted, but the core ethos of honesty and killer pop punk riffs that made Paramore so remarkable when they released their debut record, All We Know is Falling in 2005 is still there.

There are many things I regret about eighth grade, writing a four-page essay about Paramore is not one of them. I always knew they could make a killer record. After Laughter is triumph.

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After Laughter

1. Hard Times
2. Rose-Colored Boy
3. Told You So
4. Forgiveness
5. Fake Happy
6. 26
7. Pool
8. Grudges
9. Caught In The Middle
10. Idle Worship
11. No Friend
12. Tell Me How

Stream Paramore's After Laughter on Spotify and Apple Music.