REVIEW: Petal's Beautifully Cohesive 'Magic Gone'


petal
"magic gone"

Now available through
Run For Cover.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stream Magic Gone Below:


PREMIERE: Billie Aon, "Mid City Feeling"

2018-06-13 12_37_56.972.JPG

‘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."

INTERVIEW: Shawna Potter of War on Women

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

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

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

WarOnWomen.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_9422.JPG

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

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

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

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

Behind the scenes of Production Designer Olivia J. Laird /

Photo by Matthew Hollis

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

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

Watch the video for “Cellophane” below:
 

Follow Emily Blue on social media here:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

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


a2008443295_10.jpg

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/