Celebrating its 13th year, Pitchfork Music Festival makes Chicago's Union Park its home again for the weekend of July 20th. With less than a month left, Hooligan writers have come together to highlight some of this year's non-men playing the festival who have undeniably proved to be music's emerging artists right now and forever - with performances by legendary talents like Chaka Khan, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Courtney Barnett, to rising artists like Syd, Ravyn Lenae, and Lucy Dacus, we've put together the perfect list of must-see sets throughout the weekend, our favorite lyrics, and why you're gonna dig them.
by Tim Crisp
An unforgiving early afternoon sun is an ideal set piece for experiencing the relentless attack of Chicago rockers Melkbelly. The quartet plays a brand of Breeders-influenced grunge, with squealing guitars that beat down on your ears, while vocalist Miranda Winters seeks to give you nightmares with her all-seeing command. Crunchy low down guitars center the songs while everyone works to add to the fury. It’s the product of DIY veterans from several subsets of your host city’s music community, with members’ previous projects spanning from dark folk to jazz to noise. The music of Melkbelly is chaotic and deliberate, foaming at the mouth to insight discomfort while you, the listener, can’t help but ask for more.
Favorite lyrics: “Concrete is raw, concrete is cold / This slouch is weighted too” - “R.O.R.O.B”
You’ll dig it if: You came for feedback and paranoia
by Rosie Accola
Lucy Dacus’ sophomore release, Historian, is one of the most well-crafted records of 2018. The tracks move seamlessly between upbeat laments (“Addictions”) and gritty, rock ‘n’ roll treatsies (“TimeFighter”). Dacus’ is a master lyricist, incorporating a sense of narrative that mirrors the structure of a short story rather than a song. In “Nonbeliever” she sings, “You threw your books into the river/ told your mom that you’re a nonbeliever./ She said she wasn’t surprised/ but that doesn’t make it okay.” Other songs like “The Shell” contemplate the merits of making art, a good old existential crisis accompanied by some killer riffs. What’s not to love?
You’ll dig it if: You’re in the middle of a compelling short story collection or a break up, you know the merit of a good air guitar solo, you’re enraptured by the vast unending beauty of the south.
Favorite lyrics: “Freeze frame, tidal wave in the passenger side/I'm still a nervous kid/after all this time” - "Addictions"
by Rivka Yeker
Singer-songwriter Julie Byrne takes you back to quiet memories we reflect on during train commutes and long car drives. Her humble voice, while filled with power, rests as a lullaby, quietly soothing and calming the nervous system. She sings of an arms-width loneliness, a songwriting trademark, riddled with the vastness of emotion and physical distance. Her most recent record Not Even Happiness resembles the strange discomfort we feel when we find love, after spending so long being alone.
Favorite lyrics: “Couldn’t hold my misery down, not even for you / It bore me on all the places I ever gone /I grew so accustomed to that kind of solitude /But I long for you now even when you just leave the room” - “Sleepwalker”
You’ll dig it if: You like Mazzy Star but folkier, poetry, falling into a deep self-reflexive trance
The former sultry and sexy R&B singer from The Internet recently wowed us with her Solo album Fin. Syd has a slick, sexy, and confident sound that immediately puts you into her trance. You might know her from any of the three albums she put out with The Internet and is now truly finding and defining her own sound. Fin, while a hot album, is especially exciting for queer listeners as Syd explores some sensual moments in tracks like “Drown in it “ or “Body”. Her decision to go solo is an important moment for queer visibility in rap and it will be exciting to see how she continues to wow us with her talent. This is definitely the show to pull up with a boo or crush. The romantic and intimate energy of this album is sure to promise a vibey time.
Favorite lyrics: “The bed is your stage/Take it away/Put on a show/Put on a play/Don't ask babe/know I'm your number one fan babe “ - “Body”
You’ll dig if : You like sexy and sensual music, you liked The Internet, if you appreciate all the nuances of R&B.
The deeply affecting Julien Baker combines her raw, yearning vocals with ruminations on faith, sobriety, and mental illness. Her journey of self-reckoning, revealed both on sparser first album Sprained Ankle and the lush follow-up Turn Out the Lights, expound upon mental illness and an ever-changing sense of self-worth. But despite the oft-heavy lyrics and subject matter, Baker’s folk-tinged music has a certain warmth to it, inflected with hope: beyond the vulnerable tracks, on Turn Out the Lights’ final song “Claws in Your Back,” she tells us: “I take it all back, I change my mind / I wanted to stay.”
You'll dig this if: You want to hear intimacy
by Sara McCall
With their debut LP Masterpiece (2016), the four-piece Brooklyn band showed up with powerful guitars and punchy drums, pandering to both folk and alt-rock audiences. However, it’s Big Thief’s most recent release Capacity, which shows off a kind of control and composition that bolsters the band as serious musicians, changing the landscape of folk music. Listening to either album, Masterpiece or Capacity, entirely through bears with it a catharsis— between guitars soft and harsh, lyrics that hide and reveal, vocals that whisper and yell these songs sweat with an intensity and depth. Singer-guitarist Adrianne Lenker sings heavy-heartedly of family dynamics, love, trauma, beauty, and corporeality whilst co-writer and guitarist Buck Meek creates an unassuming but complex musical backdrop for Lenker’s alluring voice, offering a gorgeous new folk, a new representation of the midwest — an almost myth-y one that lives in shrapnel, headlights, oak trees, boyfriends knives, blood and long stretches of highway, oh and lots of reverb.
Favorite Lyrics: “There is a child inside you/ who is trying to raise a child in me/if you want to leave/ you just have to say/ you’re all caught up inside” – "Mythological Beauty"
You’ll dig Big Thief if you party to Frankie Cosmos but wake up to Sharon Van Etten —specifically Tramp at 7:30 am.
by Cody Corrall
Courtney Barnett’s sophomore studio album Tell Me How You Really Feel provides a rambling retrospective on her personal evolution as well as her identity as a songwriter. Barnett cemented her cult following with her often monologue-like lyricism in her debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit as well as well as her two EP’s: I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris and How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose. Barnett’s strengths lie in her lyrics, which are equally poignant as they are nonsensical, and are underscored by strong psychedelic and rock sensibilities throughout the album. Tell Me How You Really Feel discusses the complexities of rape culture, relationships and what it means to be at a loss for the right words - even when there are so many bubbling at the top of your tongue.
Favorite lyrics: “I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them / I hold my keys / Between my fingers” - “Nameless, Faceless”
You’ll dig it if: You like the folksy lyricism of Angel Olsen’s Sister, the tender rock’n’roll of The Cranberries’ Tomorrow, the guitar stylings of Margaret Glaspy’s Emotions and Math and the emotional retrospective of Lucy Dacus’ Night Shift.
by Rivka Yeker
I said, “I want something powerful, dark, and feminine,” and someone dropped Zola Jesus onto my lap. Her music is a wall of sound, a climactic crescendo all rooted in a goth influenced pop foundation. Her is the combination of Lana Del Ray and Chelsea Wolfe, which allows for a cryptic yet bold sensation. I envision an intricate and intense dance number choreographed to all her records, especially when the strings and choir paired with electronics all create a full body listening experience.
Favorite lyrics: “Take me to the water / I am not free but I am sorry, I am stone /
You should know I would never let you down” - “Soak”
You’ll dig it if: you loved Evanescence, goth shit, you love feeling your body entirely moved by sound.
by Charia Rose
British born and bred, Nilüfer Yanya has made guitar centric music sexy again. A delicious smoothie of jazz, pop and indie-rock, Nilüfer has created a world all her own with her EP’s Plant Based and most recently, Do You Like Pain? The music feels like a dream; sounds that would play softly out of a 10th floor apartment on a breezy summer evening, t-shirts sticking to sweaty skin after a long, joyful day. Her lyrics take on a storytelling quality, making that cool, loose vibe all the more vivid. There is a infallible confidence in the music, her self-taught guitar style leading the way with slick riffs taking center stage.. Her vocals remind you of the void Amy Winehouse has left; that jazzy alto timbre creating a sense of raw passion. Nilüfer takes the notions that guitar music is dead, gives a hearty “fuck you” and creates something all her own.
Favorite Lyrics: “You just watch that coming tide / We won't even have to shout / 'Cause not even words can find a way out / You just relax and I'll kill the time” - “Keep on Calling”
You’ll Dig it If: Your favorite Amy Winehouse tracks are the stripped down demo versions, indie-rock with soul, music that takes you on a journey.
Bops to Get You Started: “Golden Cage”, “Baby Luv”, “The Florist”
circuit des yeux
by Rosie Accola
There is something about Hayley Fohr a.k.a Circut Des Yeux’s voice that reaches into your bones -- it’s rich and raw, born to tell a story. I first saw Fohr two years ago at Thalia Hall when she opened for everyone’s goth-rock Godfather, Peter Murphy. From the moment Fohr picked up a guitar and started to sing, I was enthralled. I’d never seen someone command their voice as a vocal instrument with as much strength and precision, it reverberated through the venue from the rafters to the historied floorboards. Fohr worked with a pedal board and guitar to create a multifaceted sound piling seemingly endless layers onto reverb and vocals with a thoughtful intensity. I imagined that this was how audiences felt watching Patti Smith get her start in the ‘70s, as if they were witnessing someone experiencing a revelation onstage, letting their voice and their guitar take them wherever they needed to go.
Favorite Lyrics: “There is something deep/ inside of you/ something that’s worth reaching into” -- “Do the Dishes”
You’ll Dig it If: You’re into artists with an alt. Country vibe, “Horses” is still one of your “Top 10 Greatest Albums”, You like your narratives and your pedal boards to be stacked.
by Violet Foulk
LA-born indie rock duo Girlpool, comprised of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, released their sophomore LP Powerplant last spring. The record is chock-full of delicate vocals churning out poetic lyrics, paired with steady, powerful guitar chords. The band’s sound has become fuller since their debut track, ‘Ideal World’ in 2015, which had no drums, singing “Put me on a food stamp / And a Hallmark card / Tranquilize me with your ideal world.” Powerplant is home to more genius songwriting, beginning with the ethereal first verse of ‘123’ that quickly builds into a powerful introduction to the band’s completed new sound. The record includes a total of twelve cohesive tracks; highlights include pretty title track, ‘Powerplant,’ and the steady drumbeat-driven closer, ‘Static Somewhere.’
The duo just dropped a new single, ‘Picturesong’ - an unexpected collaboration with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. Beginning slowly, the track is a slow-building melodic dream featuring the classic vocals known of Girlpool, with a climax of hazy guitar chords at the bridge.
Favorite lyrics: “You say you'll cut your bangs / I'm calling your bluff / When you lie to me it's in the small stuff” - “Cut Your Bangs”
You’ll dig it if: you love driving with the windows down, blasting spunky indie artists like Adult Mom and Diet Cig.
by Charia Rose
With the voice of a whispering angel, Kelela (pronounced Kuh-luh-lah) has set the r&b world on fire with her EP Hallucinogen, and now, her debut studio LP Take Me Apart. Her vocals slip through lyrics of redemption and heartbreak with an ease so stunning it may leave you in awe, whispering, “what the hell” to yourself over and over (maybe it’s just me!). In a renewed era of whisper queen r&b, Kelela has a depth to the softness of her voice. It’s a bird calling you awake, harmonies filling you like a warm broth on a cool day; her voice is comfort. She sings with a brutal honesty, songs like “All the Way Down” take on the rollercoaster of overthinking a relationship before leaning in and no longer “giving a fuck”.
“Altadena” serves as a love letter to the often forgotten black and queer folks hustling to get by.
Deciding at 29 to quit her corporate job to pursue music, Kelela embodies the notion that following the things that uplift and embolden you can turn into something beautiful, healing and completely you.
You’ll Dig it if: You like crying, soft bops, Solange, stacks on stacks of harmonies, queer black women laying their hearts open so that, we too, feel seen.
Favorite lyrics: “That other thing is you keep holding back / All the light you keep brings out the darkness in me / You're so bottled up inside / Spell it out before we divide” - “Turn to Dust”
Bops to Get You Started: “All the Way Down”, “Take Me Apart”, “LMK”, “A Message”
kelly lee owens
As any well versed Pitchfork goer knows, making it for the artists earlier on in the day can be a difficult feat; however, you will seriously regret not making it for Kelly Lee Owens’ set. Owens is a producer, songwriter, and singer from Wales who got her start working with artists like Daniel Avery. Her first EP Oleic, which dropped in 2016, features songs governed by a strong beat and impressive synth-work, reminiscent of old-school garage. Her first self titled album came out in 2017 which takes dreamy synths and layers Owens’ eerie voice on top of it all. The album itself shows great range, tracks like “Bird” are bops which instantly turn my bedroom into a club dance floor; whereas, tracks like “S.O” are so moody and captivating that they put me in a semi-meditative trance. Kelly Lee Owens helps me embrace my inner club kid.
Favorite lyrics: from the track Anxi. (feat. Jenny Hval) “I have come to believe family and reality/Keeping it together, keeping it together/This is the narrative of reality”
You’ll dig it if: You really liked the movie “Party Monster” and spend your free time watching old videos of illegal raves.
by Cody Corrall
Chicago native Ravyn Lenae echoes disjointed poetry over bubbly, dizzy and colorful instrumentals. At just 19 years old, Lenae is already making a name for herself with three EP’s and has spent the last year opening for Noname’s Telefone tour and SZA’s CTRL tour. Her most recent EP, Crush, is a dreamy collaboration with 20-year-old producer Steve Lacy that questions intimacy and romance in the digital era. Lenae’s vocals are ephemeral: they seem to float over Lacy’s guitar grooves as they explore their various musical styles and find harmony. In 5 songs, Lenae is able to encapsulate a longing for closeness that has been lost in an online age of romance and the expectations that come along with it.
Favorite lyrics: I get jealous / When you don't wanna give this a chance / But then you wanna hold hands (what do you want?) / I get jealous / When you can move around how you please (Ooo, you never thinking of me) - “4 Leaf Clover”
You’ll dig it if: You like the android soul of Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, the groove of Steve Lacy and The Internet’s single Come Over and the disconnected dystopian romance of Rina Sawayama’s EP Rina.
by Rosie Accola
Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore release is aptly titled Soft Sounds from Another Planet. Singer/ guitarist Michelle Zauner creates lush soundscapes that ooze extraterrestrial synth that calms and elevates your consciousness. If aliens had a five star spa, they’d pipe Japanese Breakfast through speakers in the lobby. Rather than ambient, I’d pose that Zauner’s songs have the capacity to transport the listener, these songs don’t just create a mood, they take the listener to another astral plane. As a lyricist, Zauner has a talent for exploring the most intimate nooks of a weathered partnership, several of the songs on this record deal with themes of , domesticy and what it takes to really stick around. On “12 Steps” Zauner sings, “So tell me, "I can’t blame you, we let love run its course/And it's a little bit lonelier/I don’t blame you / It's just our love ran its course/ and that's a little bit hard." Yet, rather than succumb to a bout of cynicism over the tenuous nature of human connection, Zauner uses the innately fragile nature of relationships as a source of strength, reminding us all that it’s incredibly brave to just… show up.
Favorite lyrics: “We aren't bound by law/We aren't bound by anything at all/Just you/If you decide to show/Just if you decide to show up on time” -- “Jimmy Fallon Big!”
You’ll Dig it If: You’re directing your own queer rom-com in your head, “Stranger Things” makes you wish synths accompanied your every waking moment, you like it when your rock ‘n’ roll feels a little celestial, you have big dreams and thoughts about how everything’s cosmically connected.
This is a performance you really won’t want to miss. It’s been two years since the release of her debut album Telefone, yet I still find myself constantly returning to this masterpiece. Noname’s raps, like poetry put to music, are weary yet hopeful. She tells tragedy and beauty together in a way that draws you in and really resonates in the soul. With features from Chicago locals like Akenya, Saba, and the Mind, Telefone is a deeply intimate project that captures and narrates the energy of Chicago and in a very important way. With the announcement of a new album Room 25 this performance is sure to be a magical one.
Favorite lyrics: “I used to have a name that look like butterflies and Hennessy/ I’ll trade it up for happiness but joyful don’t remember me” - “Sunny Duet”
You’ll dig it if: You love rap and the Chicago sound and appreciate music that finds itself at the intersection of art and the political. If Smino, Saba, Chance the Rapper and Tierra Whack are your sounds then you’ll definitely bop to Noname
by Charia Rose
With a career spanning over 40 years, Chaka Khan is a name that, if you were raised in a home filled with an appreciation for funk and simply good music, you know. A vocal powerhouse who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Prince, Quincy Jones, and other artists that we can only classify as legends, Chaka has reinvented herself throughout the many years and changes in the industry. She has transcended funk to rock to jazz to dance as easy as the deep breaths she takes before a well supported note. There is no denying her influence on the industry, her ability to fuse multiple genres into timeless bops and tear jerkers that artists are still sampling today (“Through the Wire” by Pre-Kardashian-Slavery-Was-A-Choice Kanye West may come to mind). Seriously, she is responsible for one of the longest running “who did it better” arguments between music lovers: Chaka or Whitney’s “I’m Every Woman”?
Even if you don’t know her catalogue, there is no better history lesson than experiencing one of the original Divas live.
Favorite lyrics: “And without me you'd stumble / And without you I'd fall / Without each other we would not be at all” - ”I Know You, I Live You”
You’ll dig it if: You appreciate legends, want to hear vocals that will blow your wig back, love funk and find yourself saying “man, they don’t make em like this anymore!”
Bops to get you started: “I’m Every Woman”, “Tell Me Something Good”, “Through the Fire”, “And the Memory Still Lingers On (A Night in Tunisia)”
ms. lauryn hill
by Charia Rosie
Ms. Lauryn Hill is another level of iconic. She released one solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill exactly 20 years ago, and the world has been turning differently ever since. Her life has been one worthy of a biopic; baby daddy drama, tax evasion and taking fashionably late to an extreme that makes Mariah Carey look like Father Time. Regardless of all that, Ms. Lauryn crafted some of the most memorable moments in r&b and hip-hop (she was rapping and singing her own hooks before the men could figure out autotune). Songs like “Doo-Wop [That Thing]” tackle the conversation of how both men and women can damage each other in relationships. Her songwriting ability has never ran from brutal honesty and consistently questions society and how we exist within it. Her life is her own, and her decision to leave music at the apex of her career because she wanted to live a new life is empowering beyond measure. Being the sole female member of the hip-hop trio the Fugees, her contributions of thoughtful and rock hard bars have made her one of the most respected female MC’s of all time, and in my humble opinion, one of the best to ever do it regardless of gender identity. Her voice is so deep and rich it’s like drinking a good cup of coffee, with just a dash of Bailey’s. She may not be on the stage at the exact start time, but stick around and you might hear a live mash-up of her hit “Ex-Factor” with the song of the summer, Drake’s “Nice For What”. You will realize that even after all these years, she needs no introduction and has always been worth the wait.
Favorite Lyrics: “Woe this crazy circumstance / I knew his life deserved a chance / But everybody told me to be smart / Look at your career they said, / ‘Lauryn, baby, use your head.’ / But instead I chose to use my heart” - “To Zion”
You’ll Dig It If: You appreciate 90’s hip-hop neo soul, respect legends, believe that music can be healing and uplifting
HOOLIGAN MAG x PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL 2018
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.
little bear is bringing an entirely new sound to what seems to be a genre-fluid scene. little bear's upcoming EP features some of Chicago's own (Burns Twins, Yomi, and Sol Patches) and they have performed with Ric Wilson. Their music is a blend of sounds, instruments, and rhythms all defying any sort of expectation people may place on them. There is only Aaron Kisslinger's voice, which is a melody in itself, horns, synth, and poetry.
listen to the debut single below:
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:
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:
Now available through
Run For Cover.
by Violet Foulk
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:
‘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."
"tell me how you really feel"
Now available on MOM+POP Music.
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) *
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
"there is a presence here"
Released April 13th, 2018 through Other People Records.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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: