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Poem: “Mommy I’m Lost”

Mommy I’m Lost

By Sarah Al-Shimary

 

 

 

 

And I stuck my thumb

And I stuck my thumb

Inside

Inside the peach pie she made

She made

Sucked the viscous jam clean

Clean and condemned myself

Myself to a

To a

To a

To a

Cinnamon hell

Hell

The Voidz at The Velvet Underground, Toronto

The Voidz at the Velvet Underground, Toronto

All photos were taken by Kristen Manza on a Yachica FX-7, 35mm camera

Looking into the new wave of DIY music

For the first time in music history, we are seeing a generation of artists who have never lived in a world where the internet did not exist. What’s unique about my generation of young creators is that from an early age, we used the internet to learn how to do, well, pretty much everything. With an endless supply of information at our fingertips, the result is a growing community of DIY artists, often grouped into what is known as “bedroom pop.”

Clairo, via Happy Mag

There’s something inspiring about a young musician being able to not only teach themselves how to make music, but also how to record it, and ultimately build a fanbase on their own. In 2018, we’re seeing a massive number of teens and young adults who are doing exactly that and achieving enormous success doing so. Popular lo-fi pop artist, Clairo, is one such success story. In 2017, she recorded “Pretty Girl,” which garnered over 22 million views on YouTube. Clairo attributes her success to the Youtube algorithm, which boosted her video to “recommended” feeds everywhere.

Cuco, via NPR

20-year-old Cuco, who rose to success with his song, “Lo Que Siento,” started mixing his music in his own car. His romantic, dream pop-infused tunes, which drift in and out of Spanish and English, earned him a large online fanbase very quickly. Cuco’s music draws from a mix of styles and artists, including the likes of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala and Ariel Pink, in addition to jazz and Chicano rap.

Though the term “bedroom pop” is often used to encompass the new wave of artists releasing their own music, there has been some pushback for the label being restrictive. In a sense, it puts these artists in a box, while many of them are still releasing demos, and before they even get the chance to put their best work out there.

Nevertheless, the style that groups these artists together is really just a reflection of the time we’re living in. With songs that sound like throwbacks to past decades, reinvented with technology, the genre truly represents the diversity of modern music. At the center of it all is the internet, which has not only given these artists the tools to channel their creative energy, but has also just given them a place to exist.

Milo Greene at the Constellation Room, Santa Ana

Milo Greene at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana
October 19, 2018
All photos were taken by Amie Pham
Digital, Canon 50mm

 

November playlist: nostalgic indie folk songs for fall

Album art by Griszka Niewiadomski

The spooky season may be coming to an end, but the beautiful Autumn season is still alive and well! There are only a couple more weeks until Thanksgiving, which calls for a soft and nostalgic indie folk playlist. Usually, as soon as November hits, people will begin playing Christmas music, but the Thanksgiving season is one all on its own and deserves a playlist that does it justice.

This playlist reminds me of music I would listen to walking home from school years ago on a crisp Autumn day. Although the mellow mood is maintained throughout, there is a wide variety of genres and sounds that anyone could enjoy. The playlist starts with a piano instrumental from Olafur Arnalds, then transitions into artists like Vampire Weekend, Hozier and Grizzly Bear. My favorite is “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, it is the perfect short little song driven by harmonies and reverb. And no Autumn playlist would be complete without classics from Bon Iver, Bright Eyes, and Death Cab for Cutie like “Skinny Love”, “First Day of My Life” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”. This soft and sweet playlist creates a sense of nostalgia you can’t describe, but can only feel, so grab a cup of hot apple cider and press play.

Follow the playlist on Spotify here

Dog Days: Inner Wave, Banes World, and Michael Seyer

Dog Days: Inner Wave, Banes World, and Michael Seyer

Pictures are from Ottawa, Ontario at The 27 Club (July 25th) and Schubas Tavern in Chicago (July 28th)

All pictures were taken by Kristen Manza on a Yachica FX-7, 35mm camera

Album review: Public Practice | Distance is a Mirror

via Pitch Perfect PR

New York new-wave is alive and well with Public Practice. The Brooklyn band rose from the ashes of post-punk group WALL in their debut EP, Distance is a Mirror. The EP, released through Wharf Cat Records, is arguably one of the most thrilling releases from a new band in 2018. In just four songs, it conquers a David Byrnes-esque style of punk with a dancy sound that nods to ’70s disco.

The opening track, “Fate/Glory,” is already a strong enough introduction for the band, with its energetic bass-line and pulsating vocal performance by Sam York (WALL). A seamless transition to “Bad Girl(s)” boosts the overall pop-appeal of the album and gives it some weight with politically charged lyrics. “I won’t play your game / I don’t need your shame,” says York, as she shrugs off social expectations about womanhood and feminism. “Foundation” presents us with the meaning behind the album’s title while throwing in some serious Talking Heads vibes with its deadpan delivery. Distance is a Mirror sends us off with the tremendously catchy “Into the Ring,” a strong ending to an album that effortlessly captures the legacy of New York City punk.

Buy the album on vinyl here.

Catch them at one of the tour dates below:

Nov 30 – Black Cat / Washington, DC

Dec 03 – Beachland Ballroom & Tavern / Cleveland, OH

Dec 04 – Hideout / Chicago, IL 

Dec 05 – Ace of Cups / Columbus, OH

Dec 06 – A Red Wheelbarrow / Paterson, NJ 

Dec 07 – Saint Vitus / Brooklyn, NY 

 

New artist: indie rock trio, “boygenius,” and their debut EP

photo via Instagram

Made up of respectable solo musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, “boygenius” perfect the art of melancholic indie rock in their new EP. The EP is set to be released November 9 via Matador Records, but a few songs from it have already been floating around.

Wrapped in a tender folk melody and bittersweet nostalgia, “Me & My Dog” is a song that seems to reminisce on the good parts of a relationship – like losing sleep over makeout sessions – while moving on from the insecurity it caused.

“Bite the Hand” is a ballad about doomed romance, shrouded in self-depreciation that reminds me of a track from Daughter’s Not to Disappear. The chorus echoes, “I can’t love you how you want me to” as the moody guitars leave the listener in a trance.

“Stay Down” takes an even more vulnerable turn, as it recounts more painful events of what appears to be a violent relationship, with lyrics that hold a double meaning – “I wasn’t a fighter ’til somebody told me / I had better learn to lean into the punch / So I don’t hurt as bad when they leave.”

With their stripped-down sound and lyrical rawness, boygenius are the new indie-folk band of your dreams.

By Lera Pentelute via NPR

Listen to the songs from their EP here:

Against The Current performs at the Roxy Live: Past Lives Tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photo credit: Sancho Zho

There are 30 minutes left on the clock for Against The Current to make their debut in Argentina. One can feel the adrenaline begin to increase among the crowd (of no more than 100) in the back of the bar, La Viola, better known as the Roxy Live, in Buenos Aires. After waiting over a year since the original date was canceled, the excitement can be observed in the fans who do not stop dancing, shouting and begging for the minutes to pass faster. 

The lights diminish as the first notes of their most recent single, “Personal,” begin to bounce around the corners of the room. Even though the song has a sad connotation since it was written for a friend of Chrissy Costanza (the lead singer of the band), who died last year, you could only feel the exaltation and joy of the audience and the band.

Following a similar sentiment, they continued with “Voices” which talks about the struggle one may have with their own demons. It shows the great influence of rock bands over pop, keeping a mysterious sound that manages to have you on the edge of your chair, but with meaningful lyrics that leave you thinking.

From there, the energy would only begin to increase with songs from their debut album, In Our Bones. They start with “Runaway,” which mixes both rock and pop elements, leaning more toward the latter with its catchy “summer song” melody. “Talk” was the song in which Costanza began to interact with the audience, asking them to join her toward the end of the chorus, shouting “Talk, talk, talk.” The audience did so without reproach, fully energetic, jumping and stretching their arms up to the rhythm of the song. In an interview with Upset Magazine, Costanza mentioned that “Talk” is about “being inexplicably and irrationally addicted to someone (…) It’s about breaking the cycle and pointing out all the things they thought you did not care about.”

When finalizing this song, the band answered a tradition, something very typical of the Argentinean crowds: Cancha’s songs (Like “Against The Current, a feeling, a passion” or the classic “Olé, Olé”) which were originally confusing for the band. After it was explained, you could see their admiration toward the public for wanting to share it with them. “That’s so sweet, I feel honored,” Costanza said with a slight pink tint on her cheeks.

They continued with the song “Running With The Wild Things” which raised the energy of everyone in the room even more. The song talks about the pressures and expectations of society. Chrissy sings about societal standards and how they do not usually accommodate creativity or the breaking of the mold. The goal of the song is empowerment—to encourage the audience to reject the pressure instead of giving in to it. It is the song that introduced the band in their debut album and one of their strongest. It mixes two elements that are seen separately in their other songs—the acoustic and the electronic, creating a massive track, full of atmosphere and giant guitar punches.

“One More Weekend” creates a feeling of nostalgia. It almost turns out to be a proper party track that develops at a subtle rhythm until it explodes in pure pop.

The band shifted to a quieter sound, with more sentimental lyrics in “Almost Forgot”. Starting with the chords of a guitar and a much softer tone, the song continues to pick up, and as more layers are added, the electro-pop feel of the track is amplified.

“Chasing Ghosts” is next, slowing down the rhythm slightly, using guitar lines and electronic percussion while referring to two people who meet for a short period of time but eventually, and unwillingly, separate.

They close the melancholic narration with “Brighter”. Constanza asserts that she does not need an excuse to set the world on fire, while the subtle but rhythmic synthesizer chains intertwine under her soft vocal tone.

During a brief pause, the band members converse and laugh with the people who went to see them. From trying to remember the correct way to pronounce a word that Constanza vaguely remembers from her high school Spanish class to the name of a meat and mashed potato meal that Ferri (the drummer), prepared in 5th grade for a school project. They finish the break by asking the crowd to tweet them lunch recommendations.

The next thing you hear is the first notes from “Come Alive” as the adrenaline increases again in a matter of seconds. The song had not been released officially yet, but that does not prevent those present from knowing every word. It follows a similar theme as other songs from the band, talking about the internal demons that one carries.

Photo credit: Sancho Zho

The familiar electro-pop sound makes another appearance with “Strangers Again,” the last song off the new album they played that night. It tells the story of leaving behind young love, a theme that contrasts with the joyful energy of the simple rhythm. They followed with “Gravity,” one of their most popular songs. They use the metaphor of gravity to show how the person you sing about is your all, but now that they’re gone, you feel completely lost.

“Demons” was presented as the last song of the night. It starts subtle and quietly, focusing on a very close combination of percussion and synthesizers before finally exploding into a surge of hope—one that is hard to find when listening to Constanza talk about her demons. The lights go out, but the curtains do not close after the band leaves the stage, giving hope to those who pray that it is not over yet. The eyes of the audience light up when Costanza comes back raising two fingers in the air. The first chords of “Blood Like Gasoline” are heard loudly on the speakers and the screams become deafening as everything is accelerated by pulsating rhythms and sharp guitar strikes.

The ending really comes in the form of “Wasteland” and an electronic beat that places Costanza on a mix of guitars and precise percussion. In front of the choir, an artificial accumulation leads to what almost looks like a fall, but eventually goes out and introduces the next verse. The band says a subtle goodbye and leaves the stage for the final time. The lights turn on and the security guards try to direct the audience out of the venue while they shout “one more and we will be gone”. 

Bad Times at the El Royale: Not that bad, but not that good either.

Image via WhatCulture

Bad Times begin when four strangers — a priest, a mediocre singer, an appliance salesman, and a mysterious yet glamorous young woman — are checked in to the El Royale hotel by a nervous manager. Throw in a tied up sister and a cult leader, and it makes for a fateful night full of violence. Each character is seemingly on a quest for redemption, but in all, the movie lacked in substance and character development.

As I was watching the unfortunate hotel guests, I didn’t know who to root for. Each character didn’t seem to have enough skin in the game for me to root for them, yet I didn’t hate any of the characters enough to wish for their demise. I knew it was going to be a bloodbath as soon as the puppy was killed; that is, the appliance salesman/secret FBI agent, the only character that is blatantly good and therefore expendable. But with a character that is seemingly good, he wasn’t believable enough for me to be surprised. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the sexy, cult-leader, Charles Manson rip-off played by Chris Hemsworth. However, he didn’t disgust me enough to make me hate him.

The Big sister/little sister duo played by Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spainey had the story

Photo via Popsugar

line with the most girth. The big sister, Emily, was trying to save her little sister from her cult-leader boyfriend, but the story was more about losing a lifelong bond between sisters. With that, I expected the betrayal by the younger sister, Rose, to feel much worse. When each of these characters is killed off one by one, I’m not emotionally invested enough to do anything other than shrug.

The maintenance closet character, Miles, played my Lewis Pullman, is a strange and nervous young man, but not weird enough. Throw some more Norman Bates vibes in there, make us think he’s a psycho killer, and THEN make us feel like assholes when we realize the truth about his past and his traumas. The whole movie was just SO CLOSE. The singer character, Darlene, played by Cynthia Enviro, has a story with a lot of potential but unfortunately it came across as incomplete, a summation that could honestly be made about every character in the story.

Photo via IndieWire

For a film with so much violence, none of it is gratifying. The build up around the hotel itself wasn’t enough for me either. Why is it this weird place in which people watch? Why is it this omnipresent “management?” The entire film came off as campy, pulpy, and relying on aesthetics to hold its head above water. It tried to allude to too many 70s references, but with no grounding in reality, it looked like a director who didn’t want to take anything off his mood board.

Rating: 3/10

A few good jokes here and there. Bitchin’, washed up 70’s aesthetic, but not substantial enough to make up for poor storytelling and character development.

Charly Bliss’ “Heaven” is grunge meets pop perfection

Charly Bliss recently released the fuzzy new single, “Heaven,” their first song since their 2017 debut album, Guppy. The Brooklyn band brilliantly combines grungy, distorted guitars with dreamy vocals to produce a track that is instantly sticky. The highlight of the song is front-woman Eva Hendricks’ distinct voice, which is both sugary sweet and fierce at the same time.

“Heaven” is a simple, straightforward song about unmatchable glee. ““I’m up here / I’m so high / I feel everything / I feel nice.” Hendricks describes “heaven” in just a few words – a place where she is untouchable, she can’t win and can’t lose. “Heaven” emits a nirvana-like feeling that is passed on to its listeners. It’s 90s-tinged indie rock at its finest.

Photo by Matthew Shelter
Listen to “Heaven” below

 

Spooky alternative and punk songs for October

It’s that time of the year again. And while we are getting ready to celebrate the favorite holiday of every young goth, we are usually left without an appropriate soundtrack. Listen, we love “Thriller” and we can’t forget about “The Monster Mash,” both of which are accompanied by their own signature dance routine. (You’ve definitely done both at a Halloween party.) Nevertheless, they get old after a while. There are so many great songs that may not be directly affiliated with Halloween, but are still distinctly creepy in their own ways.

The playlist begins with one of the most iconic post-punk songs of all time. The shrill, piercings sounds of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” — an ode to the 1931 horror classic Dracula.  This song is over nine minutes long and only gets more unsettling as you listen. Another favorite of mine is The Cure’s “Fear of Ghosts.” While almost any song from The Cure can arguably fit on this list, there is something especially eerie about this one, with its whispering chorus and haunting lyrics.  The last track — “Dead Alive” by The Shins — is a fun, more upbeat one that you definitely want to add to your own Halloween party playlist.

Follow this playlist on Spotify.