AF 2017 IN REVIEW: The Year Sharon Van Etten Saved Me

It’s pretty much a general consensus that 2017 was an amazing year for music. It seemed like every week, a new album would emerge, challenging the way people think about and make music. But even with an endless ocean of new songs being fed to me every day, I kept coming back to the same album time and time again: Are We There, by Sharon Van Etten.

I wish I could say I have no idea how this record slipped through the cracks of my discovery in 2014, but I know all too well. To put it kindly, I was a late bloomer when it comes to my taste in music. Growing up, my parents would listen to Top 40 radio or, in my Dad’s car, Air Supply’s Greatest Hits album on repeat. The only saving grace was my mom’s love for Carole King, whose Tapestry album will be forever ingrained in my memory. So it was left up to me to broaden my own musical horizons, and I didn’t always do the best job. Let’s just say, I was listening to a lot of Trey Songz in 2014.

Fast forward to early 2017 and I’m 22-years-old, fresh out of college, living 3,000 miles away from home, trying (and failing) to cope with a recent breakup. Needless to say, shit hit the fan. In this scenario, there wasn’t enough wine, phone calls to my mom, or meaningless Tinder hook-ups to make me feel better. But there was Sharon Van Etten. I first heard her music while sitting in a coffee shop in Portland, Oregon, half-reading The Old Man and the Sea, half staring mindlessly at strangers – yes, it got that bad. “Holding Out,” from Because I Was in Love came on, and I was mesmerized – thank god for Shazam.

From that moment on, I delved into Sharon’s enchanting body of work and never looked back. Each record served a different purpose, reaching into a different part of me that needed healing. Because I Was in Love gave me permission to wallow in self-pity while offering a glimmer of hope and resolve in the distance. It actually felt good to let myself cry, pretending every word was written just for me, and letting Sharon’s infallible voice give me comfort.

If Because I Was in Love was my tool for confronting the pain of loss and loneliness, Tramp helped me to forget about it altogether. Van Etten’s more warbly and airy tracks like “Warsaw” and “Serpents” acted as a numbing potion for my emotions, while “We Are Fine,” eased me back into reality, telling me everything was going to be okay. Somehow, I believed that sentiment more when it was sung by Sharon, rather than offered with a pity smile by a friend. You know the look.

When the pity party and escapism were over, Are We There was left to pick up the pieces. Sharon’s revealing descriptions of abusive relationships helped me understand how you can continuously be drawn to something that you know is wrong for you. In my case, that was holding on to a person that didn’t love me anymore. I got to a point where I was so enraptured with my partner, that when he was gone, part of my identity was, too. It was hard for me to admit this to myself at first, but “You Know Me Well,” taught me how to “turn into yourself again and reach on out to become your true self.” And that’s what I did.

Are We There gave me the gift of self-awareness; admitting that I was giving someone else power over me is what ultimately gave me the strength to change it. It gave me time to grieve over my breakup, but then urged me to cut toxic behaviors and people out of my life – with my fair share of relapses. But most of all, it reassured me that I’m not the only idiot out there who let myself become completely overwhelmed by love.

Thank you, Sharon.

ALBUM REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten “Are We There”

Sharon Van Etten



“I can’t wait ’til we’re afraid of nothing,” sings Sharon Van Etten, in her silvery and harmony-braided way, on the opening track of her new album Are We There. “I can’t wait ’til we hide from nothing.” The song– “Afraid Of Nothing”– has a sweeping clean-slate quality to it: it’s a fresh start, a New Year’s resolution. Maybe it’s the lyrics, or maybe it’s the flourishing, diva-esque piano chords, but there’s weight to this beginning. With its very first chords, Are We There establishes a low center of gravity. These songs are sturdy, they’re in it for the long haul.

That’s the power of skillfully deployed vocal acrobatics and complete mastery of your subject matter. Big, theatrical romantic breakdown has long been at the core of Van Etten’s musical landscape, and her sharpest tool is a voice that can be bent but never broken. Her albums–there are four of them now, beginning with 2009’s Because I Was In Love–are stories of how she uses the latter to navigate the former, a journey that the title of this latest record suggests is still ongoing.

And on Are We There that path is as satisfying and surprising as ever. Van Etten’s major themes haven’t changed much, but her aesthetic has expanded in every direction. On some tracks, like this album’s opener, she traverses an Adele-esque range and corresponding sense of drama–her sadness so straightforward it’s almost cloying–but elsewhere, her voice is stretched to its strange outer limits as pain gives way to blood-letting.

Just look at “Your Love Is Killing Me,” only three songs into this thing. It is possibly my favorite cut on the album, and it’s a great example of the far end of Van Etten’s sweet-spooky spectrum. The song begins with a vaguely militant beat that reappears in the chorus as triplets of crisply pissed off snare rapping. Then there’s her voice, so stridulent at its apex that she barely sounds human. “Break my legs so I won’t walk to you. Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you,” she sings. This goes on: “Burn my skin so I can’t feel you. Stab my eyes so I can’t see… you like it when I let you walk over me.” Behind the exorcism, behind the declarations of brokenness, there’s powerful orchestration–swirling guitar lines, cycling piano chords–backing up these words.

Van Etten’s speaking voice is downright cute, and sometimes, listening to her talk, it’s easy to imagine that she sings love songs of the quietly forlorn, tea-drinking-while-moodily-gazing-out-windows-onto-overcast-skies variety. And though there’s plenty of sadness on Are We There, it never sounds neutered: even the songs that never rise above a whisper come with the reminder that they know how to snarl.

Are We There ends on another highlight: the deceptively simple, deceptively sweet “Every Time The Sun Comes Up.” Van Etten arranges the lyrics into a sing-song-ish pattern, like a riddle, and the mood straddles optimism and gloom. There are flashes of self-contained thoughts, like the coyly meta “People say I’m a one hit wonder, but what happens when I have two?” Then the song settles into a kind of moody anti-love song, with “I washed your dishes then I shit in your bathroom.” Listening to the song feels like being inside Van Etten’s head, trying to follow a string of thoughts and fluctuations that aren’t explained or organized into a performance. It’s the most interior song on the album, and in a way, it’s also the most obscured. The journey from the album’s opening track “Afraid Of Nothing,” which is a performance not only in its theatricality but also in the sense that Van Etten has a specific audience–the complicated, ever-present love interest that has ravaged and fascinated her music since she began playing publicly.

But by this album’s end, we feel that Van Etten isn’t on stage anymore, but is right beside us, spilling her guts in a less organized, and perhaps more mundane way. That doesn’t make her guts uninteresting–the evocative snippets that we get on “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” are some of the most intriguing on an album full of compelling lyrical lines. Mundanity, in Sharon Van Etten’s case, is anything but.

Are We There dropped on May 27th via Jagjaguwar. Go here to buy it via iTunes. Watch the great and profoundly depressing video for “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” below:

MUSIQUE BOUTIQUE: Natalia King, Bitch, and Songs of Yoko Ono

Welcome to Audiofemme’s record review column, Musique Boutique, written by music journo vet Gillian G. Gaar. The last Monday of each month, Musique Boutique offers a cross-section of noteworthy reissues and new releases guaranteed to perk up your ears.

“Well, they call me a hard-headed woman/I tell ‘em ‘I work at it every day’” is the proud, take-no-prisoners opening line from the title track of Natalia King’s latest album, Woman Mind of My Own (DixieFrog Records). It’s an album reverberating with the unvarnished power of the blues — despite most of it being recorded in Paris, where the Brooklyn-born King is now based.

At its heart, the blues is an expression of profound human emotions, and King’s album resonates with deep feeling. “AKA Chosen” is a stirring song of self-empowerment. “Once was part/but now I’m whole,” King sings, as the simple guitar opening gives way to a stomping beat and lively backing chorus. “Forget Yourself” seduces with an insinuating tenor sax solo. “So Far Away” is a compelling portrait of estrangement in a relationship. “Play On” cleverly uses gambling metaphors in its dissection of the game of love, as a moaning slide guitar hints of the danger that may lie ahead. Along with her own songs, there’s also an interesting selection of covers; a reflective rendition of John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses,” and a wonderfully intimate version of George Michael’s “One More Try.”

State of the world got you down? A little Bitchcraft (Kill Rock Stars) will lift those spirits. “You’re the man, you’re the man, you’re the man,” Bitch sings in the song of that name, ending the litany with the telling reminder, “Well, I’m the woman.” Yes, she certainly is. The artist, formerly one half of queercore duo Bitch and Animal, has created an album that delights and dazzles, from the bright pop of “You’re the Man” (with its rallying cry “In the underground, the most amazing sound/We sing through everything that tries to cut us down”) to the stark, brittle sounds that percolate in “Easy Target,” to the soothing harmonies of “Polar Bear,” which imagines the natural beauty of a world without humanity.

She’s as much a visual artist as a musician. Check out the eye-popping video for “Hello Meadow!” – the explosive color and rapid-fire editing match its pointed lyrics attacking the corporate greed that’s destroying the natural beauty of our delicate planet. The more somber “Nothing in My Pockets” dissects the nature of heartbreak with the liberal use of black light and streaks of day-glo paint. Aurally and visually, Bitchcraft casts an enticing spell.

This month marked Yoko Ono’s 89th birthday, on February 18, and in celebration of that event comes a new tribute to her work, Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono (Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records/Chimera Music). The various artists compilation was conceived and curated by Ben Gibbard, lead singer/guitarist of Death Cab for Cutie, in hopes of generating new appreciation for her work.

Ono was originally a visual artist, and, more enigmatically a “conceptual artist,” as demonstrated by such “instructional poems” as this — “Painting To Be Constructed In Your Head: Observe three paintings carefully. Mix them well in your head” (from her book Grapefruit). Not coming from a traditional rock or conventional pop music background gives Ono’s music its unique quality; she’s made up her own rules about how she wants to make music. Hence the nursery rhyme in the middle of “Dogtown,” a song that benefits greatly from Sudan Archives’ cool delivery.

There’s also an undercurrent of sadness in much of her work. It’s understandable in a track like the haunting ballad “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do” (a beautiful performance by Japanese Breakfast), which was written in the wake of the murder of her husband, John Lennon. But it’s also there in “Run, Run, Run,” which predated that tragic event, in which a “run to the light” becomes a “run for your life;” Amber Coffman’s rendition has a decided Americana vibe. Other contributors include U.S. Girls, Thao Nguyen, Sharon Van Etten, and The Flaming Lips, making for an imaginative collection honoring an equally creative artist.  

AF 2021 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums & Singles of The Year

If you went into 2021 with high expectations, you weren’t alone. Even if it was hard to feel optimistic this time last year, it certainly seemed as if things could get no worse. Live music did return, after all – though with the appearance of Delta, and now Omicron, the joyful noise comes with a caveat. After sixteen months of having to livestream shows (fun, but not the same) little could stop me from attending shows in person; wearing a mask as an extra precaution felt like no big deal, even if no one else was doing it. But luck (and vaccines) feel like the real reason I emerged unscathed from dozens of risky experiences, and with performances on the horizon canceled once again, maybe it’s wise to enter 2022 with slightly lower expectations.

There’s always recorded music, anyhow. Maybe the tumult of the year just has me personally feeling a bit unfocused, but it seems as though I barely scaled the mountain of this year’s musical offerings without getting a bit buried in the avalanche of releases – ones that had been pushed back, ones that were created in lockdown. I’ll be playing catch up well into the new year, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t gems I connected with almost immediately, and very deeply. And that’s what I’ve heard across the board, from those in the industry as well as casual music fans – is that our favorites this year stayed on heavy rotation, as we latched onto music that accurately reflected our moods, which evolved moment to moment and of course happened to be different for all of us at any given time. What does that mean for year-end lists? Audiofemme has always compiled an eclectic list, including favorites from each of our contributors without overall rank – consider any repeats to be the best of the best. But this year, the list seems even more diverse, meaning there’s a wealth of weird and wonderful music below to discover, dear reader. Thanks for sticking with us through another wild year.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) PinkPantheress – to hell with it
      2) Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime
      3) Low – Hey What
      4) Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales
      5) Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
      6) Dawn Richard – Second Line: An Electro Revival
      7) Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take
      8) aya – im hole
      9) Flock of Dimes – Head of Roses
      10) Tyler, the Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
    • Top 5 Singles:
      1) Japanese Breakfast – “Be Sweet”
      2) Loraine James (feat. Eden Samara) – “Running Like That”
      3) Hand Habits – “More Than Love”
      4) Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen – “Like I Used To”
      5) Julien Baker – “Faith Healer (Half Waif Remix)”

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) Low – Hey What
      2) Tirzah – Colourgrade
      3) Nana Yamato – Before Sunrise
      4) Emma Ruth Rundle – Engine of Hell
      5) Jane Weaver – Flock
      6) Tonstartssbandht – Petunia
      7) Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams
      8) Squirrel Flower – Planet (i)
      9) Veik – Surrounding Structures
      10) Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
    • Top 10 Singles:
      1) Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen – “Like I Used To”
      2) Special Interest – “All Tomorrow’s Carry”
      3) Squid – “G.S.K.”
      4) Julien Baker – “Bloodshot”
      5) Mandy, Indiana – “Bottle Episode”
      6) Remember Sports – “Pinky Ring”
      7) Cedric Noel – “Comuu”
      8) Gustaf – “Mine”
      9) June Jones – “Therapy”
      10) MAN ON MAN – “Stohner”

  • Mandy Brownholtz (Marketing Director)
    • Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
      Spellling – The Turning Wheel
      King Woman – Celestial Blues
      Macy Rodman – Unbelievable Animals
      Marissa Nadler – The Path of the Clouds
      Kinlaw – The Tipping Scale
    • Top 3 Singles (in no particular order):
      Often – “Deep Sleep”
      Mannequin Pussy – “Control”
      Spice – “A Better Treatment”


  • Alexa Peters (Playing Seattle)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) Wye Oak – Cut All The Wires: 2009-2011
      2) Dori Freeman – Ten Thousand Roses
      3) Isaiah Rashad – The House Is Burning
      4) Fawn Wood – Kåkike
      5) Carmen Q. Rothwell – Don’t Get Comfy / Nowhere
    • Honorable Mention: Mike Gebhart – Co-Pilot 
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Doja Cat (feat. SZA) – “Kiss Me More”
      2) Mitski – “Working for the Knife”
      3) DoNormaal – “Baby May”

  • Cat Woods (Playing Melbourne)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Deap Vally – Marriage
      2) Mod Con – Modern Condition
      3) Laura Stevenson – Laura Stevenson
      4) Joan As Police Woman – The Solution is Restless
      5) Black Country, New Road – For the first time
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Black Country, New Road – “Sunglasses”
      2) Lana Del Rey – “Dealer”
      3) jennylee – “Tickles”

  • Liz Ohanesian (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Hackedepicciotto — The Silver Threshold
      2) Saint Etienne — I’ve Been Trying to Tell You
      3) L’impératrice — Take Tsubo
      4) Pearl and the Oysters— Flowerland
      5) Nuovo Testamento — New Earth
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Midnight Magic – “Beam Me Up” 
      2) Jessie Ware – “Please”
      3) Gabriels – “Love and Hate in a Different Time (Kerri Chandler Remix)”  

  • Gillian G. Gaar (Musique Boutique)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Dolphin Midwives — Body of Water
      2) Sarah McQuaid — The St. Buryan Sessions
      3) Low — Hey What 
      4) Witch Camp — I’ve Forgotten Now Who I Used to Be 
      5) Full Bush — Movie Night
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Maggie Herron — “Sweet Lullaby”
      2) Sleater-Kinney — “High in the Grass”
      3) ONETWOTHREE — “Give Paw” 

  • Jason Scott (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Jetty Bones – Push Back
      2) M.A.G.S. – Say Things That Matter
      3) Lyndsay Ellyn – Queen of Nothing
      4) Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed
      5) Christian Lopez – The Other Side
    • Top 5 Singles:
      1) Hayes Carll – “Help Me Remember”
      2) Jake Wesley Rogers – “Middle of Love”
      3) Adele – “To Be Loved”
      4) Carly Pearce – “What He Didn’t Do”
      5) Kacey Musgraves – “what doesn’t kill me”

  • Michelle Rose (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Alex Orange Drink – Everything Is Broken, Maybe That’s O​.​K.
      2) Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
      3) Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed
      4) Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World
      5) Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Blonder – “Ice Cream Girl” 
      2) Mitski – “The Only Heartbreaker”
      3) Kristiane – “Better On Your Own”  

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Polo G – Hall of Fame
      2) Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud – The Plugs I Met 2
      3) Megan Thee Stallion – Something For Thee Hotties
      4) Pooh Shiesty – Shiesty Sessions
      5) blackbear – misery lake
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud – “Thanksgiving”
      2) Lil Nas X (feat. Jack Harlow)  – “INDUSTRY BABY”
      3) 24kGoldn (feat. Future) – “Company”

  • Jamila Aboushaca (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed
      2) Snoh Aalegra – Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies 
      3) Lil Nas X – Montero
      4) Darkside – Spiral
      5) Blu DeTiger – How Did We Get Here EP
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Kaytranada (feat. H.E.R.) – “Intimidated”
      2) Kacey Musgraves – “simple times”
      3) Snoh Aalegra – “In Your Eyes”

  • Sophia Vaccaro (Playing the Bay)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Aly & AJ – A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun
      2) Julia Wolf – Girls in Purgatory (Full Moon Edition)
      3) Megan Thee Stallion – Something For Thee Hotties
      4) Lil Mariko – Lil Mariko
      5) Destroy Boys – Open Mouth, Open Heart
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) daine – “dainecore”
      2) Julia Wolf – “Villain”
      3) Doja Cat – “Need To Know”

  • Sam Weisenthal (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take
      2) Katy Kirby – Cool Dry Place
      3) Mega Bog – Life, and Another
      4) Ada Lea – one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden
      5) Olivia Kaplan – Tonight Turns to Nothing
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Charlotte Cornfield – “Drunk For You” 
      2) Dora Jar – “Multiply”
      3) Joe Taylor Sutkowski, Dirt Buyer – “What Luck, Goodbye”  

  • Sara Barron (Playing Detroit)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) PinkPantheress – to hell with it
      2) Summer Walker – Still Over It
      3) Erika de Casier – Sensational
      4) Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales
      5) Adele – 30
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Lana Del Rey – “Dealer”
      2) Liv.e – “Bout It”
      3) SZA – “I Hate U”

  • Eleanor Forrest (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams
      2) CL – ALPHA
      3) My Life As Ali Thomas – Peppermint Town
      4) Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
      5) Remember Sports – Like a Stone
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) FKA twigs (feat. Central Cee) – “Measure of a Man”
      2) Sabriel – “Pulse”
      3) Lexie Liu – “有吗炒面 ALGTR”

Melbourne’s Taylah Carroll Preps Debut and Shares Third Single “I’m Not Sold”

Photo provided by Taylah Carroll.

Born and raised in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs, Taylah Carroll recalls entertaining her family and friends with musical performances from an early age, often until her audience relented and sought escape. It was never Carroll who ended a performance. Now, larger audiences have started to take notice – Australia’s Triple J radio station, responsible for discovering and championing many new and upcoming artists, has likened her sound to Sharon Van Etten, Jeff Buckley, and Mazzy Star no less.

Carroll’s music is intimate, genuine and confessional. “I drink too much coffee, I don’t sleep enough,” she sings on latest single “I’m Not Sold,” revealing that she buys things just to have things to hold, but that it isn’t satisfying a deeper need. Without the rampant post-production polish that can remove all human fingerprints from music, there’s an old-fashioned vibe to Carroll’s songs. Not Victorian, mind you – but her gothic-edged romanticism is redolent of Nico’s Velvet Underground days, with the pared-back storytelling skill of folkie Joan Baez.

“I think I would describe my music as alternative folk meets rock. I think especially the stuff I’m writing lately leans more into rock. [It’s] a bit darker and I’d say there’s a focus on lyrics,” Carroll says. In 2019, she released two songs – “Sometimes Good People Do Bad Things” and “Vermont” – but there’s a lot more to come from this rising star.

Before Melbourne’s first lockdown, Carroll had been preparing to start pre-production for an album with producer Tim Harvey. It was essential to Carroll that she work with people who could honour her vision and enhance her sound rather than try to impose their style on her. Carroll reached out to Harvey (who has also worked with Jade Imagine and Gena Rose Bruce) through a mutual acquaintance. “We worked on the three singles I’ve so far released and we regularly catch up and talk ideas. He’s a very gentle soul. I can say very little about where I want a song to go, and he just knows.” The two worked together in Harvey’s home studio, in addition to Soundpark Studios in Northcote (in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs). “It’s a really lovely space – really close to home, which is nice,” she says. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has changed her plans for releasing the album.

“That was incredibly frustrating. I’ve had everything ready for a while now,” she shares. “We’re still fine-tuning what will end up on the album because I’ve been writing. I need to work out what fits with the theme of the album, to ensure it’s cohesive – the rest will be for the second album! There’s three [more] tracks ready to be mastered and released.” This includes her next offering, “To Please You,” a song about the challenge of making choices versus letting life happen, and sacrificing authenticity for the sake of not rocking the boat. Carroll has felt the struggle to maintain her own perception of the world whilst also loving and honouring the perspective of people around her.

“I’m Not Sold” was inspired by Carroll’s fear of failure, a quarter-life crisis of sorts. “I was in a long-term relationship that I’d been in since I was 17, so there was pressure building in that. I felt like 25 was looming. I feel like I should have done all these things by 25 and felt this pressure to have gotten all my ducks in a row by that age,” Carroll explains. “I’d also internalised this pressure that I felt from the music industry to be young, and I’d given myself a finite period of a year after my degree in psychology to do my music in before returning to do my Masters.” Though she hasn’t gone back to school yet, her music career is certainly picking up. Just as her childhood performances would continue until her audience finally left, Carroll is built for endurance. She believes work, faith and dedication will ultimately prevail.

“The way I deal with periods where I focus on something stressing me out or affecting me adversely, I focus and feel it, feel it, feel it and let go. Then it doesn’t evoke the same response in me anymore when I think about it again,” she says.

“I’m Not Sold” features Jade McInally on drums, Damian Meoli on bass, and Harvey on lead guitar, but her live band, which played the Corner Hotel in Richmond this past weekend, is shaping up to look a little different. Carroll met Ruby Whiting, who plays synths and keyboards in the live band, via bass player Sean Gage (also with Foreign National) whilst Gage and Whiting were dating. Cassie Kumashov plays drums – she had been in Hot Springs when Carroll first saw her and felt that her “emotive, feeling-based” drumming was the perfect fit for the band. Carroll and company will support Olympia at the Gasometer on the 20th of January, and are slated to play Federation Square towards the end of January, in Melbourne’s central city district.

Carroll’s intentions for the next video clip may challenge those close friendships, if the athletic requirements prove necessary to make art. She’s working on a video clip for the next single with Nick Mckk, who’s collaborated with Julia Jacklin, Estella Donnelly and John Butler Trio. “The ideas are still in the works,” says Carroll. “I really wanted to have the band in this one, but it’s a really fast song; I wanted to record in double-time then put it into slow motion, but that would mean everyone playing an already fast song twice as fast. So we’re nutting that out at the moment.”

Later this year, the album will be finalised, and in the meantime, her next three singles are scheduled for release in February, April, then July approximately. “Provided all goes to plan, which normally it doesn’t!” admits Carroll with a laugh. Whatever happens, we’re sold on the soulful folk singer, and can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Follow Taylah Carroll on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

How Support From Her Sister (and Aaron Dessner) Brought Eve Owen’s Debut LP to Life

Don’t Let The Ink Dry, the lush, haunting debut album from British singer-songwriter Eve Owen, is a testament to how far young women can go when they feel supported. Struggling with loss and alienation at school, Owen spent her summer holidays in Hudson, New York with The National’s Aaron Dessner, recording some forty tracks over the last three years in his Long Pond Studio. Twelve of them would end up on Ink; Dessner’s purposeful electronic flourishes expand Owen’s deeply thoughtful lyrics and emotive vocal delivery that can’t help but remind one of Sharon Van Etten’s earliest albums.

“Aaron was so kind in letting me be myself.  I know that sounds really simple but for me that was a really big deal,” Owen says of their work together. “In other situations I have felt like I have to project this person who isn’t necessarily me, and I think why I was so comfortable in that space was I knew I could tremble and choke and shiver and I could show all my nerves but I wasn’t embarrassed by it.”

But before Owen met Dessner, her biggest champion was, without a doubt, her older sister Hannah. The two grew up singing Taylor Swift songs at the family piano, though as they entered their teen years their interests began to diverge. Eve began expressing herself via original compositions, while Hannah gravitated toward musical theater and eventually went to film school, where she’ll complete her studies next year. In the lead up to the release of Don’t Let The Ink Dry, the two collaborated on a series of four music videos that inadvertently documented Eve’s growing confidence and artistic growth. “I think that was due to our relationship, and due to my happiness just with the album in itself,” Eve says. “I’ve definitely grown to be proud of [the songs], which is a really nice feeling.”

“I think if I’m being honest, there was no plan before we started,” Hannah admits. “We were very aware that we wanted to explore different tones and styles and personalities and characters within all four of the videos, cause the songs are all so different. I recently watched back all four of them, and I actually think they really speak to the journey that Eve’s been on.”

That journey is one of a sensitive, soft-spoken young woman who once struggled to fit in finding her voice. In the first video, a somber, stuttering, black and white stop-motion clip for “She Says,” Eve twirls around an empty room with little company save for a posable artist’s mannequin, her eyes wide and a little sad-looking. The soaring piano ballad, written when Eve was just fourteen, sees her inhabiting a character feeling loss and abandonment from a family member. “It’s not actually about my family,” Eve says. “I was just interested in the idea of how abandonment from anyone is such a strong, overwhelming feeling. For the video, we wanted to show that it was about the hunger for connection and being so desperate for relationships, you find it in ways that aren’t obvious or normal, like creating your own connections with inanimate objects. I think the stop motion really works in that favor, because I get this feeling watching it where everything’s a bit off, like you’re trying really hard to connect and do what everyone else is doing but it’s this awkwardness that doesn’t quite feel natural.”

Hannah painstakingly shot each frame as a photo on iPhone before editing them together. “There were these snapshot moments – Eve was having to hold [poses] for a long time while I was doing my thing. When we played it back it was almost surreal actually, cause you’re not witnessing that in real time, we speed it all up. It was an interesting way to work for the first video because it forced us both to just slow down and think about the song and what the first video was going to be.”

The other shoots were more free-flowing, with no set schedule. Eve says her sister’s direction put her at ease in a way she couldn’t have been with another director, and by extension, it’s easy to live vicariously through the intimacy of their relationship. It’s a rare treat to see so much of a nascent artist’s personality so viscerally and immediately, and Hannah’s videos offer just that. The next one they shot, for the aching, lilting “So Still For You,” follows Eve across a desolate beach just as the sun dips below the horizon; before a backdrop of purple clouds, Eve slams herself into the sand, a literal interpretation of being stuck in a suffocating relationship.

“As Eve’s older sister, we knew this was gonna be a really special time of Eve releasing these songs. We’ve watched her grow up with these songs for such a long time – finally, people are gonna hear them,” Hannah says. “I wanted to get that rough part of her, the willingness to throw her face in a pile of mud and be free with it, because there’s something quite definite about handing songs over into the world – [it becomes] somebody else’s and they’ll do what they want to do with it.”

Shot in the beginning of January, Eve said it was freezing. “I didn’t even have boots or anything, I was just in trainers in the mud,” she recalls. “I made a mess of everything!” As much as it’s a portrait of Eve, Hannah’s behind-the scenes presence is strongly felt, too. “It was 25 minutes of just like pure sister relationship, because I’d be shouting at her, like, ‘Smack your face in the mud a bit harder!'” Hannah says with a laugh. “Eve would be like, ‘I don’t wanna do that, I wanna do this!’ and she’d run away from me. It was just a total push and pull of both of our personalities but it kind of came across in these kind of wild, very natural and raw moments.”

Hannah appears on camera in the video for “Blue Moon,” alongside Eve in snippets of home movies from their childhood. These are interspersed with shots of Eve setting up for gigs, tuning her guitars, goofing off, recording in Hudson – a documentary, essentially, of Eve’s whole life. “By that point, there was a little bit of curiosity in the air of people online wondering about Eve’s journey, the album coming out with Aaron, who she is…” Hannah says. Eve had contributed lead vocals to “Where is Her Head,” from The National’s 2019 LP I Am Easy To Find, but had otherwise remained mysterious until the rollout for Ink began.

Comparing the old footage to current-day “miming and mucking around,” Hannah was surprised to see how little had changed in Eve’s mannerisms over the years. “Seeing how prevalent it is from when she’s like four years old, when she’s feeling like a camera’s on her, she acts in a certain way that’s been the same. We got to a point in the edit where I was really just being led by her, who she is and who she has become and letting those different moments of Eve and where she sat in different points in her life, kind of talk to each other.”

“When I was watching the first cut I got this overwhelming sense of me now sort of singing this song to my younger self,” says Eve. “The chorus goes, ‘I’ll never let you break/I’ll clean up your mistakes.’ I love that idea of looking back at your past selves and going, don’t give up just yet, it does get better and you do get happier.” It wasn’t her original motivation for writing it; the soulful number is more about accepting love as a beautiful feeling, even when it’s unrequited. “I watched it and was like, that is so new to me, but it feels so right.”

It’s almost as if these three videos act as the ingredients in a recipe for artistic birth: “She Says,” seeks inspiration; “So Still For You,” is a hefty shake of raw emotion; “Blue Moon” the dash of support needed to turn that spark to fire. The fourth and final video Hannah and Eve made together, for “Mother,” is the culmination of all of that. Eve rummages through stories she wrote and art she made as a child, sometimes finding interesting through lines (the final track on Ink, called “Lone Swan” has an eerily similar title to a tale Eve penned in year seven, “The Lonely Duck”). She displays it all in a makeshift gallery, overwhelmed at some points by its volume. One gets the sense she must have felt the same way sorting through all the tracks she’d recorded with Dessner, assembling the worthiest for her debut.

“‘Mother’ was the video that had the most friction between the two of us in terms of where we wanted to go, cause it was the first song where I had quite a strong idea of what the song was about and what it meant to me, and that wasn’t at all how Eve had set out wanting that song to feel for other people,” Hannah says. “It was just kind of a weird moment where the song became the third person in our relationship. We had a lot of sit-down conversations about the video, and I think, in a really lovely way Eve had become more confident and comfortable with the idea of visually portraying what a song means as we made [the other] videos. We were having like, proper, kind of intense discussions about ideas and what it meant to [both of] us, and we kind of mashed that together.”

But, Eve says, much like her recording process with Dessner, she always felt listened to and appreciated working with Hannah. “I never felt like I had to shout or do something that wasn’t in my character to get a point across,” she says. “The whole collaborating thing is very new; I feel lucky that Aaron and Hannah are very kind toward the process, but still straightforward.”

Don’t Let The Ink Dry came out on May 8th via Dessner’s 37d03d label, which has mostly released side projects from established indie artists, like Big Red Machine, Dessner’s collab with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, or Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s joint effort with Aaron’s brother and National cohort Bryce. It’s a startling debut by any metric, each song offering a distinct and salient experience: the ghostly atmospherics of “Tudor;” the urgent, Radiohead-esque “After The Love;” the salient imagery and fluttering drum fills of “Bluebird;” and the gut-punch of “29 Daisy Sweetheart,” as heartbreaking a tale of loss as any written since Sleater-Kinney’s “The Size Of Our Love.”

Eve says that at first, she didn’t realize she was making an album with Dessner at all. “I was so into this idea of just having a fun time and creating for the sake of it,” she explains. “I never recorded with the idea that it would be on an album and people might hear it one day. It felt so personal that I was going, let’s just record this so we don’t forget it. Aaron saw things in songs that I would completely dismiss. That was a really important lesson to learn, that what I find interesting and good about a song isn’t the same as everyone else.”

Hannah says it’s hard for her to pick a favorite, but that Dessner’s production choices often made her jaw drop after having lived with the acoustic versions for so long. “Those songs not only tie to my life but also my experience of watching Eve and what she was doing and how she was feeling and what place she was in. All of those moments are equally really powerful for me,” she says. “There was a natural ebb and flow growing up – one of us will take quite a big step forward, and it will kind of naturally happen where the other person will [follow]. In the last couple of years, we’ve come together to this point where we’re both going through really exciting times, doing things that I think would have scared us a couple of years ago.”

“What I instinctively feel is that our sisterhood is so like, solid,” Eve adds. “All these things that we’re trying out are just sort of, in a lovely way, phases, or explorations. It feels to me that we’re very intrigued by what we can do next, but we’ve always got that surety of our sisterhood that will carry us.”

Follow Eve Owen on Facebook for ongoing updates.

AF 2019 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums & Singles of The Year

Lizzo press photo by Luke Gilford, courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Every year I keep a running list of new album releases. The idea is that I’ll have new stuff on my radar, along with a go-to playlist if I’m feeling adventurous (or bored) and want to hear something new. This year that list grew to nearly 9,000 songs, and I’m still adding stuff I missed from this year to it. When it came time to make my year-end list, I had some ideas about what would be on it, but I decided to do something more immersive than I’d done years prior (basically narrowing my list down to ten albums). This year, I decided to rank every record I listened to that came out in 2019, resulting in a list of more than 200 albums. That’s a lot, certainly. It’s my job, of course, to listen to music. But what was more mind-boggling was that, when I made a separate list of albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to or simply didn’t stick in my mind, it was more than double that number. Y’all, a lot of music came out in 2019. And a lot of it was really, really good.

I think our list at Audiofemme is unique in that it gives each of our regular writers (and some of our contributors) complete ownership over their favorites, and that makes our list unusually eclectic. That’s especially true this year; last year’s lists featured a lot of love for Mitski and Janelle Monae, while this year’s lists were so disparate there’s very little crossover from list to list. So while it’s hard to choose one overarching narrative around who slayed hardest this year – Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen releasing the best albums of their careers, Big Thief releasing two amazing records, Jamila Woods and FKA Twigs going big on concept albums – I think we all know that person was Lizzo.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    2) Big Thief – Two Hands
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) FKA Twigs – Magdalene
    5) Cate le Bon – Reward

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)

    Top 10 Albums:
    2) Hand Habits – placeholder
    3) Crumb – Jinx
    4) Pottery – No. 1
    5) Orville Peck – Pony
    6) Cate le Bon – Reward
    7) Kim Gordon – No Home Record
    8) Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
    9) Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
    10) Big Thief – Two Hands
    Top 10 Singles:
    1) Sharon Van Etten – “Jupiter 4”
    2) SOAK – “Valentine Shmalentine”
    3) Jonny Kosmo – “Strawberry Vision”
    4) Mineral – “Your Body Is the World”
    5) Drahla – “Stimulus for Living”
    6) Mattiel – “Keep the Change”
    7) Girlpool – “Minute in Your Mind”
    8) Charlotte Adigéry – “Paténipat”
    9) Weyes Blood – “Andromeda”
    10) Palehound – “Killer”

  • Mandy Brownholtz (Marketing Director)

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Summer Walker – Over It
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    Mannequin Pussy – Patience
    Raveena – Lucid
    Top 3 Singles:
    Summer Walker – “Anna Mae”
    Solange – “Binz”
    Jamila Woods – “ZORA”


  • Alexa Peters (Playing Seattle)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Guayaba – Fantasmagoria
    2) Ings – Lullaby Rock
    3) The Black Tones – Cobain & Cornbread
    4) Lemolo – Swansea
    5) Stephanie Anne Johnson – Take This Love
    Top 5 Singles:
    1) Lizzo – “Juice”
    2) Karma Rivera – “Do More Say Less”
    2) Heather Thomas Band – “When I Was Young”
    3) Stephanie Anne Johnson – “Never No More”
    4) Sarah Potenza – “I Work For Me”
    5) Ariana Grande – “Thank U, Next”

  • Sophia Vaccaro (Playing the Bay)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    2) PUP – Morbid Stuff
    3) Kim Petras – TURN OFF THE LIGHT
    4) Microwave – Death is a Warm Blanket
    5) Caroline Polachek – Pang
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Jess Day – “Rabbit Hole”
    2) Ashnikko – “Hi, It’s Me”
    3) Saweetie – “My Type”

  • Cillea Houghton (Playing Nashville)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Yola – Walk Through Fire
    2) Louis York – American Griots
    3) The Highwomen – The Highwomen
    4) Sara Potenza – Road to Rome
    5) Rising Appalachia – Leylines
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
    2) Louis York – “Don’t You Forget”
    3) The Highwomen – “Crowded Table”

  • Luci Turner (Playing Atlanta)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
    2) Harry Styles – Fine Line
    3) Brittany Howard – Jaime
    4) MARINA – Love + Fear
    5) Death Mama – High Strangeness
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Sam Burchfield – “Blue Ridge June”
    2) Pip the Pansy – “Siren Song”
    3) 5 Seconds of Summer – “Teeth”

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy
    2) Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy
    3) Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
    4) DaBaby – KIRK
    5) NF – The Search
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) DaBaby – “Intro”
    2) Polo G – “Pop Out”
    3) Lil Baby – “Yes Indeed” (feat. Drake)

  • Amanda Silberling (Playing Philly)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Palehound – Black Friday
    2) Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
    3) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    4) T-Rextasy – Prehysteria
    5) Leggy – Let Me Know Your Moon
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Mannequin Pussy – “Drunk II”
    2) Charly Bliss – “Chatroom”
    3) (Sandy) Alex G – “Southern Sky”

  • Tarra Thiessen (Check the Spreadsheet)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    2) FEELS – Post Earth
    3) Francie Moon – All the Same
    4) Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    5) Crumb – Jinx
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dehd – “Lucky”
    2) Bodega – “Shiny New Model”
    3) Y La Bamba – “Entre Los Dos”

  • Natalie Kirch (Pet Politics)

    Top 5 Albums (in Chronological Order):
    1) JANITOR — She Hates The Hits
    2) Haybaby — They Get There
    3) Holy Tunics — Hit Parade Lemonade Supersonic Spree
    4) Bethlehem Steel — Bethlehem Steel
    5) Francie Moon – All The Same
    6) SUO – Dancing Spots and Dungeons
    Top 5 Singles (in Chronological Order):
    1) Big Bliss – “Contact”
    2) Gesserit – “Silence”
    3) Vanessa Silberman – “I Got A Reason”
    4) New Myths – “Living Doll”
    5) Miss Eaves – “Swipe Left Up”


  • Liz Ohanesian

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
    2) (tie) Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence // K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
    3) !!! – Wallop
    4) Yacht – Chain Tripping
    5) Chromatics – Closer to Grey
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”
    2) Roisin Murphy – “Narcissus”
    3) Boy Harsher – “Come Closer”

  • Lydia Sviatoslavsky

    Top 5 Albums:
    1)  Xiu Xiu – Girl With a Basket of Fruit
    2) slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
    5) Sylvia Black – Twilight Animals
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Squarepusher – “Vortrack – Fracture Remix”
    2) Coyu & Moby – “I May Be Dead, But One Day The World Will Be Beautiful Again”
    3) Cocorosie – “Smash My Head”

  • Tamara Mesko

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Bad Books — III
    2) Pedro The Lion — Phoenix
    3) Laura Stevenson — The Big Freeze
    4) An Horse — Modern Air
    5) Black Belt Eagle Scout — At the Party With My Brown Friends
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kevin Devine – “Only Yourself”
    2) Rain Phoenix feat. Michael Stipe – “Time is the Killer”
    3) Sigrid – “Strangers”

  • Erin Rose O’Brien

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Stef Chura — Midnight
    2) Angel Olsen — All Mirrors
    3) Lisa Prank — Perfect Love Song
    4) Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated
    5) Cheekface — Therapy Island
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Caroline Polachek — “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”
    2) Priests — “Jesus’ Son”
    3) Lana Del Ray — “The Greatest”

  • Katie Wojciechowski

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Highwomen — The Highwomen
    2) Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center
    3) Various Artists — Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
    4) Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
    5) J.S. Ondara — Tales of America
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) MUNA — “Good News (Ya-Ya Song)”
    2) Lizzie No — “Narcissus”
    3) Noah Gundersen — “Lose You”

  • Micco Caporale

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Orville Peck — Pony
    2) Boy Harsher — Careful
    3) Lingua Ignota — Caligula
    4) Heterofobia — Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder
    5) Knife Wife — Family Party
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dorian Electra – “Flamboyant”
    2) Orville Peck – “Dead of Night”
    3) Solange — “Binz”

  • Jason Scott

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Allison Moorer — Blood
    2) Gabriella Rose — Lost in Translation EP
    3) Emily Scott Robinson — Traveling Mercies
    4) Girl Wilde — Probably Crying EP
    5) BHuman — BMovie
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dua Lipa – “Don’t Start Now”
    2) The Highwomen – “Redesigning Women”
    3) Katy Perry — “Never Really Over”

  • Ysabella Monton

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) King Princess – Cheap Queen
    2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    3) Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
    4) Kim Petras – Clarity
    5) Charli XCX – Charli
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) FKA Twigs – “holy terrain”
    3) Charli XCX – “Gone” feat. Christine and the Queens

  • Holly Henschen

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations – Precession of a Day: The World of Mary Nohl
    2) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    3) Sudan Archives – Athena
    4) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    5) Sigur Rós – Sigur Rós Presents Liminal Sleep
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry on Home”
    3) Lizzo – “Tempo”

  • Erin Lyndal Martin

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love
    2) Mariee Sioux – Grief in Exile
    3) Carolina Eyck – Elegies for Theremin & Voice
    4) Julia Kent – Temporal
    5) Rhiannon Giddens – There is No Other (with Francesco Turrisi)

  • Rebecca Kunin

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Mal Blum – Pity Boy
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Durand Jones and the Indications – American Love Call
    Tony Molina – Songs from San Mateo County
    Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    Top 3 Singles:
    Brittany Howard – “Stay High”
    Angel Olsen – “New Love Cassette”
    Jacky Boy – “Get Along”

NEWS ROUNDUP: Grimes is (Sort of) Back, RBMA Announce 2019 Shows, and MORE

Grimes photo by Eli Russell Linnetz

So, About Grimes…

Where to begin? Claire Boucher (who turned 31 on Sunday and now prefers to be addressed as the italicized, lowercase letter ‘c‘) gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal; between the very odd conversation and her recent Instagram posts, it seems like she’ll be appearing in our News Roundups for a while, so buckle up.

First of all, she’s officially announced a new Grimes record. It’s called Miss_Anthropocene, and revolves around the concept of  the “anthropomorphic goddess of climate change,” according to her own Insta post. She describes the character thusly: “A psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/ beauty-Queen who relishes the end of the world. She’s composed of Ivory and Oil” and continues, “Each song will be a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a Pop star Demonology. The first song ‘we appreciate power’, introduced the pro-AI-propaganda girl group who embody our potential enslavement/destruction at the hands of Artificial General intelligence.”

In the same post, she also hinted that there might be an EP coming soon as well, which would ostensibly contain some of the stand-alone stuff she’s been working on while putting the LP together, like “Pretty Dark.”

On to the interview, which is behind a paywall I can’t afford and don’t want to pay to a conservative pub, so bear with me. c wants to “kill off” Grimes in a “public execution” because she feels limited by the branding she created back in 2009; her vision of herself as an artist is much more expansive, necessitating a Game of Thrones-esque book that will create a “lore” around her art and music. “It’s super, super pretentious,” she notes.

Reiterating her Instagram post, she says that she aims to make climate change “fun” with the new record, feeling that people ignore it largely because it makes them sad. Her solution to this dilemma is a series of “apocalyptic PSAs” in which she sits nude at a Last Supper-style dining table eating species on the brink of extinction, like a big bloody elephant head. You know, fun.

The album features an epic love ballad called “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” which Grimes says was inspired by the Assassin’s Creed movie trailer rather than her relationship with Elon Musk, whom she all but refused to talk about. She did say she “loves him” but was “simply unprepared” for the attention/criticism that dating him has brought her. WSJ did quote an email Musk sent to them about Grimes, saying, “I love c’s wild fae artistic creativity and hyper intense work ethic.”

Grimes tweeted that she was mostly pleased with the interview, but that generally she hates doing them because “it’s like fighting a battle with a fake version of urself to see who the public believes more.”

Red Bull’s NYC Music Academy Lineup is Here

Taking place across NYC throughout May every year, Red Bull Music Academy has become one of our favorite non-festivals – the lineup is always diverse and well-curated, with an eye on slightly more obscure avant-garde acts playing off-the-beaten path venues. Now in its 16th year, the programming for 2019 has been announced, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

For one thing, RBMA will host breakout Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía for her first live appearances stateside. Her stunning 2018 album El Mal Querer flips Flamenco on its head, and the elaborate visuals that characterized her gorgeous visuals will likely make their way into the two performances scheduled for the newly-reopened Webster Hall.

Also performing over two nights, FKA Twigs returns to NYC for her first shows here since 2015, when Red Bull staged her vogue-opera Congregata in an abandoned hangar. This time, she’ll take over the Park Avenue Armory’s similarly cavernous drill hall. She hasn’t released new music in a while, so we’re curious to see what form these shows will take.

Four more women will bring immersive shows to the fest: Harlem’s own Teyana Taylor presents House of Petunia, a “spectacular audio-visual experience spearheaded by her all-female production company, The Aunties, featuring provocative stage design and mesmerizing choreography from a world-class team of dancers;” Tierra Whack headlines New York for the first time at the iconic Rainbow Room with “quirky and surreal stage design” that mirrors her surreal “Whack World” project; composer and sound artist Holly Herndon premieres the live iteration of her forthcoming album PROTO, “incorporating a fluid ensemble of eight vocalists, Spawn (a nascent machine intelligence), machine learning specialists, choreographers, and visual artists;” and Moor Mother weaves sound and history together with a “large-scale performance” she’s curated alongside an installation by Black Quantum Futurism, both of which are based on the race riots that engulfed America in the “Red Summer” of 1919.

More from RBMA’s press release:

Additional Red Bull Music Festival New York shows include: Rapper/producer JPEGMAFIA, who will showcase his gritty and abrasive beats with a dynamic live show in-the-round; NYC’s Onyx Collective bringing together their notable friends from the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, soul, and R&B for a free and unreplicable performance of intense, genre-expanding jazz at one of New York City’s beautiful parks; and the festival closes with Nyege Nyege Night featuring a propulsive and bass-heavy set from Ugandan DJKampire who – after laying the bedrock for the creation of safe party spaces for women and the LGBTQ+ community at home – will  make her US debut, co-headlining with rising singeli duo MCZO & Duke.

Tickets are sold for individual events and can be purchased here.

That New New

Speaking of Red Bull, break out that Hennessy – it’s Jenny Lewis Day, bitches.

Fresh off her Tim Presley collab DRINKS’ sophomore LP and tour, Cate Le Bon has announced her next solo album, Reward, out May 24 via Mexican Summer, with lead single “Daylight Matters.”

Nearly fifteen years after the release of their collaborative EP In The Reins, Calexico and Iron & Wine have reunited to record a full-length, Years to Burn. “Father Mountain” is the first single from the LP, out June 14 via City Slang.

Damien Jurado shared a new song from his stripped-down acoustic record In The Shape of a Storm, out April 12.

Juan Wauters has released the first single from Introducing Juan Pablo, out May 31. “Letter” was written in 2015; the record as a whole is something of a companion piece/prequel to his recently released La Onda de Juan Pablo LP.

Surprising no one, there’s a second volume to Broken Social Scene’s recent Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 EP on the way. Vol. 2 is out April 12 and its first single is “Can’t Find My Heart.”

Papercuts released a new three song EP, Kathleen Says, this week.

Lizzo and Missy Elliott have collaborated on a track, so music is basically over. Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You is out April 19.

Building on the momentum of recent single “Not What I Thought,” Somalia-born, Toronto-based vocalist Amaal brings the heat with another scorcher, “Coming & Going.”

Czarface, a hip-hop and comics collective featuring Inspectah Deck, has just released a collab LP with old Wu-Tang buddy Ghostface Killah. Czarface Meets Ghostface is out now, and so is this rad video for “Powers and Stuff,” seen from the POV of a very good boy.

Obliques are back with their first single since 2017’s “Instant Pleasure.”

Reptaliens’ sophomore LP VALIS arrives on April 26 – on cassette and limited edition pink vinyl. Watch the video for “Venetian Blinds” below.

Kero Kero Bonito released a video for “Swimming,” from last year’s Time ‘n’ Place.

Fat White Family return with a new video directed by Roisin Murphy. “Tastes Good With The Money” will appear on their third studio album, Serfs Up!, out April 19.

Plague Vendor unleash their new John Congleton-produced Epitaph Records LP By Night on June 7, and have shared a rowdy video for the raucous first track “New Comedown.”

Ibibio Sound Machine have a new album, Doko Mien, out today, and have shared a video for “Wanna Come Down.”

The latest video from Colombian breakout “Artist on the Rise” Elsa y Elmar is a journey, fam – and “Ojos Noche” is the Spanish-language alt-country bop you didn’t know you needed. Her next LP Eres Diamante arrives May 17.

Analogue special effects make for some gorgeous visuals in the dreamy new single from Heather Woods Broderick, who releases her newest album Invitation April 19. She’ll open for longtime collaborator and bandmate Sharon Van Etten at Webster Hall May 4.

Following the official announcement of her April 5 release Titanic Rising (and a video for “Everyday“) Weyes Blood shares a video for the album’s next single, “Movies.”

Tame Impala has released a new stand-alone single, “Patience,” to promote a headlining Coachella spot, numerous other festival appearances, and Saturday Night Live debut on March 30.

Honeyblood, now the solo project of Stina Tweeddale, releases their third LP In Plain Sight May 24, and have released a lyric video for “Glimmer.”

Here’s a ripper from new Queens-based band WIVES, who drop a two-part seven inch on City Slang in May.

Wes Miles unironically sings “Got the crew back together/Feels like it’s been forever” on “Bad To Worse,” the first song from Ra Ra Riot since the 2016 release of the LP Need Your Light; it’s produced and co-written by Discovery cohort Rostam Batmanglij.

End Notes

  • Iconic surf guitarist Dick Dale, best known as the man behind “Miserlou,” passed away on Saturday at the age of 81.
  • Myspace deleted your shit.
  • Did you know that Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst hosts a jazz night at Los Angeles club The Black Rabbit Rose every Thursday? Lady Gaga does – she showed up last week to perform some Frank Sinatra covers.
  • San Francisco’s Outside Lands have announced the semi-retired Paul Simon as a headliner and reveal the rest of the lineup on Tuesday.
  • Woodstock 50 has official released their previously leaked lineup.
  • The Lollapalooza lineup has been announced; we’d save you a click thru and tell you who’s playing except that it’s literally the same bands playing every other festival, but in Chicago.
  • Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner will bring a topsy-turvy version of Berlin event PEOPLE called 37d03d (get it? good, because it’s annoying to type) to Red Hook’s Pioneer Works; it’s a five-day residency featuring experimental-ish musicians like Vernon, Dessner, Sinkane, Boys Noize, Greg Fox, Shahzad Ismaily, and others, culminating in two performances on May 3 and 4.
  • The David Lynch Foundation, which brings transcendental meditation to sufferers of PTSD, have also announced a lineup for their benefit showcase on May 17 and 18 at Brooklyn Steel, featuring Wye Oak, Garbage, Phoebe Bridgers, Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem, and more.
  • Presumably riding high on Pepsi’s Super Bowl endorsement, Cardi B has filed paperwork to trademark “Okurrr.”
  • In other Cardi B news, she’s been announced as part of the ensemble cast for Hustlers, a movie about vengeful strippers based on this New York Times article.
  • The Wyld Stallyns have announced a most excellent reunion.
  • Madlib squashed some rumors that his collab EP with the late Mac Miller (dubbed “Maclib”) will see ever the light of day.
  • Questlove is teaming up with SF-based vegetarian “meat” purveyor Impossible Burger to created a Questlove Cheesteak sold at sports stadiums nationwide.
  • Democratic Hot but actually pretty centrist presidential candidate hopeful Beto O’Rourke has unveiled a unique platform: reuniting the Mars Volta.

NEWS ROUNDUP: SXSW 2019 is in Full Swing, New Music, and MORE

CHAI are the buzziest band at this year’s SXSW.

SXSW Takes Over Austin

It’s been a bit of a slow news week, with what seems like 9/10ths of the music industry in Austin for South by Southwest. If you haven’t been, it’s not structured like a traditional festival, with bands scheduled to play certain stages; rather, the entire city is engulfed by musical chaos and madness, with showcases in bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies, record stores, the middle of the street, literally anywhere you can plug in audio equipment (and a few places you cannot). While some bands only play a few of these parties, there are a good number of bands who try to play as many times in the span of five days as is humanly possible. And we haven’t even gotten to the zany marketing maneuvers pulled by start-ups and tech companies and big name brands alike who act as sponsors, adding a little extra overwhelm to an already overwhelming situation.

This year, the big buzz band appears to be CHAI, the matchy-matchy Japanese quartet that just released their genre-bending debut PUNK to Best New Music accolades. Before the festivities got underway, Father John Misty played a surprise set at Netflix’s Speakeasy. Flying Lotus has been teasing his return via what looks to be sidewalk graffiti. Surviving Beastie Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock discussed their forthcoming memoir Beastie Boys Book in an enlightening keynote where they revealed they’ll be starring in some Spike Jonze-directed shows in Philly and Brooklyn to promote it. Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) crashed a Q&A with everyone’s favorite House Rep, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ask some questions about climate change. John Boehner came to bloviate about weed legalization now that he’s got money in the game (he was formally against it). A volunteer was caught scalping $1,650 festival badges (who pays this amount? is that even real?). Oh, and some people showed some films.

That New New

Vampire Weekend’s Jonah Hill-directed jaunt through several Manhattan delis has finally arrived; it inexplicably features Jerry Seinfeld and Fab 5 Freddy and to be honest makes me extremely dizzy.

Y’all still on board with Grimes? Frustrated that her album is taking too long, she’s decided to start dropping demos on the regular starring avatars she made up, sorta like Gorillaz, according to the text posted on YouTube below this first clip, in which she plays a character called “Dark” performing a track called “Pretty Dark.” This is what happens when you hang out with Elon Musk.

Holly Herndon is definitely on track to usurp Grimes’ weirdo pop throne with her latest single from PROTO, out May 10 on 4AD.

Frankie Cosmos announced the release of a digital only collection of piano-driven songs she recorded without her backing band, called Haunted Items, by shared its first two tracks; she plans to release the others gradually over the next few weeks.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are evidently looking to get in on that “Baby Shark” market with the video for the title track to their upcoming LP Finding Fishies.

Carly Ray Jepsen serenades a very handsome ginger boi in the video for “Now That I Found You.”

Anderson .Paak had shared the first single from his forthcoming Ventura LP (out April 12). Its title is a reference to Lebron James and ref whistles pepper the jazzy track, but the political lyrics go much deeper than sports chatter.

Gold Panda surprise-released a collection of spoofy house tracks under the moniker DJ Jenifa.

End Notes

  • If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the art of distortion for J. Mascis, now’s your chance – he and the other members of Dinosaur Jr. are hosting three days of workshops known as Camp Fuzz in upstate New York at the end of July.
  • Most of the Glastonbury lineup has been announced – the legendary British festival will feature headliners the Cure, the Killers, and Stormzy, with Janelle Monáe, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Tame Impala, Lauryn Hill, Vampire Weekend, Christine and the Queens, the Streets, Rosalía, Hot Chip, Lizzo, Sharon Van Etten, Kamasi Washington, Jorja Smith, the Chemical Brothers, Cat Power, Neneh Cherry, Low, Kurt Vile, Interpol, and more playing further down the bill. More bands will be announced in the lead up to the June 26 opening day.
  • The Roots have announced the lineup for their annual Philly festival
  • Smog frontman Bill Callahan will embark on a rare US tour in June and July.
  • The Lou Reed Archive opens at the New York Public Library today, so they’re issuing 6,000 limited edition library cards featuring Mick Rock’s iconic Transformer portrait.
  • If you’ve still got a tape deck, you’re in luck – Björk is re-releasing all nine of her albums on candy-colored cassette tape.

NEWS ROUNDUP: International Women’s Day, Leaving Neverland, and MORE

Maggie Rogers, Mavis Staples, Phoebe Bridgers and Brandi Carlile meet at Newport Music Fest. Photo by Danny Clinch. The artists shared this photo along with messages of empowerment for International Women’s Day via Twitter.

It’s International Women’s Day!

Though some form of International Women’s Day has been around since 1909, the holiday celebrating women around the world has really gained traction over the last decade. This year’s theme was #BalanceForBetter, seeking to promote a more gender balanced world. Here’s how our favorite ladies in the music world celebrated.

  • Cardi B made a playlist on Apple Music for the occasion, featuring visionary women (including Grace Jones, Madonna, Tina Turner, and Solange).
  • Sharon Van Etten and Courtney Barnett both appeared as a guest curators for Amazon’s music streaming platform.
  • Ariana Grande tweeted a short video by director Hanna Lux Davis, reminding everyone a few tweets later “it ain’t feminism if it ain’t intersectional.”

  • Rihanna looked powerful in a black blazer.

  • Miley Cyrus shouted out some of her favorite bad ass bitches:

  • … while Lady Gaga paid tribute to her mama.

  • Maggie Rogers and Mavis Staples both reminisced via this photo with Phoebe Bridgers and Brandi Carlile.

  • Dua Lipa had some tea for those who fall short of protecting human rights.

  • And Micropixie released a video for Como Mínimo (#YesIsTheMinimum), from her upcoming LP Dark Sight of the Moon, out April 9.

The Fallout of Leaving Neverland

The explosive HBO Documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged child abuse, Leaving Neverland, aired last weekend, and unsurprisingly, folks are divided on its message. Though the allegations are nothing new (Jackson settled a child abuse case out of court in 1994, and was acquitted in a similar case with a different victim in 2005) the harrowing testimonies of two men who say they were abused by Jackson when they were 7 and 10 are hard to dismiss. Radio stations have pulled Jackson’s enduring pop hits,  The Simpsons producers have pulled iconic episode “Stark Raving Dad” from the syndication due to Jackson’s guest voice over, and a Chicago run of biographical jukebox musical “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was cancelled, though its team said this occurred due to scheduling difficulties and that they’ve set their sights on Broadway in 2020. Jackson’s daughter, Paris, seemed unfazed in a series of tweets in which she told folks to “chillax” – implying that even if Jackson’s legacy took a huge hit, his $500 million estate would ultimately be unaffected by the doc (though they’d previously filed a lawsuit to block it from airing). Meanwhile, debate continues to rage regarding blame placed on the victims’ parents, the degree to which Joe Jackson’s horrific behavior absolves his son’s various issues (including the alleged child abuse) and, of course, the idea that Jackson himself is an innocent victim of a slanderous campaign. One thing is certain: Jackson’s story is ultimately one of the saddest in pop music history, taking into account his tarnished childhood, various tabloid scandals, untimely death due to physician-sanctioned drug abuse – and it’s only compounded by the suffering of his alleged victims.

That New New

Solange has blessed the world with the (semi) surprise release of When I Get Home, her follow-up to 2016’s show-stopping A Seat at the Table.

Cementing their legacy as Jersey’s favorite pop punks, The Bouncing Souls released the second single from their forthcoming 30th anniversary EP Crucial Moments, out March 15. Their massive tour kicks off the next day at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall.

Vampire Weekend have shared two new tracks from their upcoming Father of the Bride LP, out in May

Mac DeMarco announced his next record Here Comes the Cowboy with a single called “Nobody,” giving Mitski fans a little déjà vu; both artists (and their shared PR team) say it’s just a coincidence.

Bedouine is back with a one-off single that reflects on the aftermath of her gorgeous 2017 self-titled debut.

SOAK has released another lovely singled from April 26 release Grim Town., announcing some US tour dates (including two at SXSW) to go with it.

Alan Vega’s final recordings have been released to benefit the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which provides teaching materials to educators seeking to engage students by teaching pop music history. The Suicide co-founder passed away in 2016.

Everyone loves a corgi – and that includes illuminati hotties, who are very honest about the fact that sometimes doggos are are the only thing keeping us in a mediocre relationship. They’ll be in Austin next week for SXSW.

Stef Chura has announced her sophomore record Midnight with its lead single “Method Man.”

Blushh shared a one-off single to get folks pumped for their upcoming SXSW dates as well.

Toronto punks Greys have announced third LP Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, out May 10, sharing its first single “These Things Happen.”

Rick from Pile remains the biggest babe in all of DIY indie rock; this week the band released their latest single and announced forthcoming LP Green and Gray, out May 3.

In other DIY news, Patio ready themselves for the April 5 release of Essentials with their latest track, “New Reality.”

NOTS have seemingly recovered from their recent lineup changes and shared the first single from their upcoming LP 3, out May 10. Two of its members are also releasing an LP this year as Hash Redactor.

The National have announced a new collaborative project with director Mike Mills entitled I Am Easy To Find. It’s essentially an hour-long companion album to a 24-minute short film of the same name starring Alicia Vikander. The first track on the album, “You Had Your Soul With You,” has some guest stars as well – Sharon Van Etten, Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, The Brooklyn Youth Choir, and longtime David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey lend vocals. The band have announced a bunch of tour dates with Courtney Barnett and Alvvays supporting.

Local Natives released two videos this week, one of which stars Kate Mara. Both will appear on the April 26 release of Violet Street, a follow-up to 2016’s Sunlit Youth; they’ve previously announced a slew of tour dates.

Sky Blue, a posthumous collection of unreleased material from celebrated singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, arrived March 7 to commemorate what would’ve been his 75th birthday.

Kishi Bashi returns with new LP Omoiyari on May 31, and has released the album’s first single, “Summer of ’42”.

Charly Bliss have shared a video for “Chatroom,” the second single from their upcoming record Young Enough, out May 10.

CupcakKe keeps it topical with a new single entitled “Bird Box,” referencing the recent Netflix horror movie and the Jussie Smollett controversy alike.

Having penned Grammy-nominated hits for Ariana Grande and Janelle Monae, Tayla Parx is poised to break out on her own with a highly anticipated solo debut on Atlantic Records, We Need to Talk, out April 5. Her latest video for “I Want You” follows earlier singles “Slow Dancing” and “Me vs. Us.”

Christian Fennesz, who records electronic music under his last name, returns to basics with a new 12-minute track called “In My Room,” from forthcoming 4-song LP Agora, out March 29.

Ahead of the April 12 release of No Geography, The Chemical Brothers share a video for “We’ve Got To Try.”

Festival faves Marshmello and CHVRCHES have collaborated on a sugary new single titled “Here With Me.”

Dido’s first record since 2013, Still on My Mind, is out today; her first tour in fifteen years hits the US in June.

End Notes

  • The Prodigy singer Keith Flint was found dead of apparent suicide at the age of 49.
  • I would unironically love to attend one of these West Coast Man Man shows featuring “Friday” singer Rebecca Black.
  • Gayle King interviewed R. Kelly for CBS regarding the sexual abuse allegations against him, prompting an explosive on-camera outburst from the singer that has been widely discussed. We’re so tired.
  • Swedish black metal band Watain have been banned from performing in Singapore due to their “history of denigrating religions and promoting violence.”
  • NYC concert-goers spontaneously burst into song on the ACE platform following a sold-out Robyn show at MSG.
  • Speaking of Robyn, she’s been announced as one of the headliners for Pitchfork Music Festival, which takes place in Chicago from July 19-21. HAIM and the Isley Brothers top Friday and Saturday’s bills respectively, with Stereolab, Mavis Staples, Belle & Sebastian, Earl Sweatshirt, Pusha T, Tirzah, Kurt Vile, Low, Julia Holter, Rico Nasty, Neneh Cherry, Snail Mail, Khruangbin, Soccer Mommy, Amber Mark, CHAI, and more set to play as well.
  • While we’re on the subject of festivals, Variety has leaked a potential lineup for Woodstock 50 and it’s not exactly overflowing with “heritage” acts; Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, and Black Keys look like likely headliners.
  • Elton John tweeted an definite release date in October 2019 for his upcoming memoir.
  • Massive Attack have rescheduled some of the North American Mezzanine reunion tour dates due to illness.
  • You can buy the hospital gown that Kurt Cobain wore during a legendary 1992 Reading Festival Nirvana performance for a mere $50,000.
  • L7’s Donita Sparks emerged as a hero when, in true punk fashion, Marky Ramone and Johnny Rotten nearly came to blows at a panel discussion on upcoming John Varvatos and Iggy Pop-produced Epix docu-series Punk.
  • Morrissey is taking his upcoming covers record California Sun to Broadway.
  • Taylor Swift stalker Roger Alvarado was arrested for breaking into the pop star’s home again, fresh off of a stint in jail for the same charge (bringing his Swift-related arrest total to three).
  • Arcade Fire will reportedly cover “Baby Mine” in Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo remake, and it’s a real family affair.
  • Mark your sundials – Red Hot Chili Peppers will stream a live concert from the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt on March 15.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Webster Hall Reopening, R. Kelly Arrested, and MORE

Webster Hall is Reopening!

It’s always sad when an iconic New York venue closes, but Webster Hall’s story has a happy update. The 130-year-old venue was shuttered in August 2017 for renovations when longtime owners the Ballingers sold it to AEG. That means Bowery Presents will be handling bookings, and the show schedule looks pretty sick, starting with a christening from punk poet laureate Patti Smith on May 1. Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Sharon Van Etten, Big Thief and Built to Spill are some of the acts slated to play over the next six months or so, and that’s just the initial announcement. The New York Times got a sneak peek into the renovations, and it seems like the $10 million plus project focused mostly on accessibility, with a revamped entryway and the addition of an elevator, as well as updates to the bathroom and soundsystem. Much of the characteristic fixtures in the ballroom were left unscathed, though we’re guessing the floor will no longer feel like it’s about to cave in when the mosh pit gets too rowdy. The Marlin Room will become a lounge, and there’s no word yet on what’s going on with the basement stage. The venue will still have a capacity of about 1,400 – making it an essential part of downtown nightlife once again.

R. Kelly Arrested, Bond Set at $1M

Following increased scrutiny after Lifetime doc Surviving R. Kelly aired earlier this year, the R&B star was arrested in Chicago on Friday and charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four separate victims, three of whom were minors when the abuse occurred. One of the most disturbing pieces of information to emerge in Saturday’s bond hearing was that Kelly met one of these victims at his 2008 trial for child pornography, of which he was acquitted; like the trial a decade ago, some of these charges stem from the discovery of a sex tape in which Kelly appears to perform sex acts with an underage girl. His bond was set at $1 million, and that may be the tip of the iceberg – Kelly is also under investigation by multiple federal agencies for sex trafficking, and it looks likely that there are more victims who have yet to come forward. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of their nightmare.

That New New

Audiofemme favorites Sharkmuffin shared rollicking new single “Serpentina,” the first single from their Gamma Gardening EP, out April 5 via Exploding In Sound. We couldn’t be more excited – love you, Tarra & Nat!!!!

While this video for Kate Bush’s cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” isn’t exactly new, it hadn’t been released since its recording in 1991. The video comes with the announcement of a four-disc rarities and b-sides compilation called The Other Sides, which will be available March 22. In other Elton John news, his biopic, starring Taron Egerton, comes out May 22.

Tierra Whack is back with single “Only Child,” her first release since blowing up with Whack World.

Helado Negro is currently on tour with Beirut as he prepares for the March 8 release of This is How You Smile; he shared a video for single “Running” this week.

Ella Vos shared an intimate self-directed video for “Empty Hands,” which follows her through the last day of two years of treatment for lymphoma. The single appears on her latest EP, Watch & Wait.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will release Gnomes & Badgers, their first album in five years, on March 8. The TG Herrington-directed clip opens a poignant dialogue about the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Marissa Nadler released two new songs – including a duet with John Cale – via new imprint KRO Records, who will release the single on heart-shaped vinyl this spring.

CHROMATICS are back with “Time Rider” and a slew of tour dates, but no official release date for an album, which they’ve been teasing for some time now.

Priests released a lyric video for “Good Time Charlie” from their upcoming album The Seduction of Kansas, out April 5 via Sister Polygon.

Empath have announced their debut LP Active Listening: Night on Earth (out April 2 via Get Better Records), and shared its first single, “Soft Shape.”

Alex Lahey will finally release a follow-up to 2017’s excellent I Love You Like a Brother. It’s called The Best of Luck Club and is slated for release via Dead Oceans on May 17; “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” is the first single.

TEEN are streaming Good Fruit ahead of its March 1 release over at NPR, and have shared a video for “Pretend.”

With her band Wax Idols on an indefinite hiatus, Hether Fortune has shifted to solo work with the release of single “Sister.”

Shady Bug shared “Whining” from their sophomore album Lemon Lime, out March 8.

Los Angeles noiseniks HEALTH have released their fourth collaborative single since September, this time featuring JPEGMAFIA.

We’re obsessed with “TGM” from 18-year-old newcomer Ebhoni, who reps her Toronto home and West Indian roots all at once.

Palehound kicked off their tour with Cherry Glazerr by releasing a new single called “Killer.”

Indie poppers Pure Bathing Culture  shared a lyric video for “Devotion,” the first single from their forthcoming LP Night Pass, out April 26.

If you’ve ever wondered what Mountain Man’s Molly Sarlé sounds like on her own, take a listen to her debut single, produced by Sam Evian. She’ll play some shows with Mountain Man cohort Amelia Meath when she joins Sylvan Esso for a few shows in their recently-announced WITH tour.

Nilüfer Yanya’s debut album Miss Universe drops March 22. Her latest single “Tears” follows alt-pop bops “In Your Head” and “Heavyweight Champion of the Year.”

Former Shudder to Think frontman Craig Wedren has had an illustrious career scoring film and television, so it’s no wonder the clip for his vibey rework of “2Priests” (from last year’s Adult Desire Expanded) is so gorgeous.

We have a feeling Aldous Harding’s low-key pilgrim dance from “The Barrel” video might catch on well before Designer arrives via 4AD April 26.

Legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr shared a video for latest single “Armatopia” to promote his upcoming North American tour in support of 2018’s Call The Comet.

End Notes

  • Breakdancing could become an Olympic event by 2024.
  • Moogfest has announced the “first wave” of its 2019 lineup, featuring Kimbra, Martin Gore, Matthew Dear, Lucrecia Dalt, GAS, Ela Minus and more.
  • Wilco have also announced the lineup for their bi-annual Solid Sound Festival, taking place June 28-30 in Massachusetts. There will be several sets from Jeff Tweedy solo and with the band, as well as appearances by Courtney Barnett, Cate Le Bon, Tortoise, Jonathan Richman and more.
  • Detroit musicians will be the first recipients of Tidal’s new $1 million endowment program.
  • The 1975 took home British Album of The Year at the BRIT Awards for A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, and called out music industry misogyny in their acceptance speech for Best British Band.
  • Stereolab have added a ton of reunion tour dates to their Primavera Sound and Desert Daze appearances, and announced reissues for seven of their records. The band has been on hiatus for a decade.
  • Tom Krell of How To Dress Well launched his label Helpful Music with an EP from Calgary’s Overland.
  • W Hotels have also recently launched a label, releasing two songs with Perfume Genius to benefit Immigration Equality. Watch a mini-doc about the collaboration here.
  • Lydia Loveless took to Instagram to detail sexual harassment she has suffered since signing to her label Bloodshot Records; her abuser doesn’t work at the label, but attended all social events having to do with it as the partner of one of the label’s founders, who has since left the imprint.
  • Someone decapitated Puff Daddy’s wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Times Square.
  • Michael Jackson’s estate is seeking to block the production of HBO’s Leaving Neverland with a $100 million lawsuit; the two-part doc follows the story of two men who say their were abused by the King of Pop as children and is set to air March 3rd & 4th. Watch the trailer here.
  • Stereogum published this handy rundown on the drama that’s dogged Royal Trux’s reunion tour, as well as the release of White Stuff, still scheduled to come out March 1.
  • My favorite Eric Andre gag is getting his own TV special. Thanks Adult Swim!

NEWS ROUNDUP: St. Vincent Producing Sleater-Kinney LP, Woodstock Returns, & More

sleater-kinney and st. vincent, hollywood, ca, jan 2019. photograph by jonny cournoyer

New Year, New Music

By Lindsey Rhoades

Sleater-Kinney is in the Studio… Producing an Album with St. Vincent

If this tweet didn’t warm your riot grrl heart, we don’t know what will. Though details are scant (no official release date, no title, no tracklist, no leaked audio) Sleater-Kinney announced via Twitter that St. Vincent mastermind Annie Clark is producing their next record, the follow-up to their return-from-a-decade-long-hiatus-instant-classic No Cities To Love, released in 2015. The tweet came with a photo so amazing we thought we were dreaming: four of our favorite female musicians sitting at a mixing board, their expressions saying only one thing: Y’all are not even ready for this amazingness. Though it’s officially become our most anticipated release of the new year, other artists aren’t slouching – keep reading below for the veritable onslaught of recently released jams. But first…

Woodstock Will Return in 2019… Can it Compete With New Festival Lineups?

Break out the patchouli – Woodstock is coming back for its 50th anniversary. The original founder, Michael Lang, announced Wednesday that he’s planning to book multi-generational artists with an activist bent for a weekend-long festival in August at a racetrack called Watkins Glen; meanwhile, another Woodstock Anniversary fest helmed by LiveNation at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the original site of the 1969 gathering) was already in the works. No artists or ticket prices for either fest have been announced, but our heads already ache at the thought of sorting out nightmare radius clauses.

Woodstock, of course, has already had some disastrous anniversaries – most recently Woodstock ’99, which ended in rapes, rioting, and violence. But perhaps the bigger challenge than putting that memory behind them will be simply competing for audience numbers in an over-saturated festival market. Coachella announced its lineup, including headliners Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande, onm January 2. This week, Bonnaroo announced they’d also be hosting Childish Gambino as a headliner, along with Post Malone and multiple sets from jam band stalwarts Phish (this prompted Forbes to beg the question: Why isn’t Cardi B’s billing higher?). New York’s own Governors Ball has once again invited The Strokes (who have played the fest before but not headlined), as well as Florence + The Machine and Lil Wayne to play their top spots, with Tyler, The Creator, Nas, Sza, Brockhampton and more rounding out the bill. And though it’s not strictly a festival in the same sense as those mentioned above, SXSW has begun hyping the first handful of buzzworthy acts who’ll play showcases all over Austin in March, including Amanda Palmer, Swervedriver, Ecko, The Beths, and Wyclef Jean.

That New New

Kehlani has a new song featuring Ty Dolla $ign; “Nights Like This” will appear on a mixtape due in February, which is itself a precursor to a new album due sometime this year.

Girlpool have a new album coming out February 1st, and have shared the title track, “What Chaos Is Imaginary.”

Ex Hex is finally releasing a follow-up to 2014’s Rips, called It’s Real (out March 22 via Merge). Their first single is “Cosmic Cave.”

Sharon Van Etten will release her first album in five years, Remind Me Tomorrow, on January 18. This week, she shared a video for “Seventeen,” after previously sharing “Comeback Kid” and the absolutely stunning “Jupiter 4.”


Mineral are releasing new music for the first time in 20 years, including this video for “Your Body Is The World.” The song appears (alongside “Aurora“) on a limited-edition 10” that comes with a hardcover book commemorating the Austin band’s 25th anniversary.

Beirut release Gallipoli on February 1; Game of Thrones actor Ian Beattie plays a kind of klutzy knight in the video for “Landslide.”

Pedro the Lion shared “Quietest Friend,” a companion video to “Yellow Bike.” Both singles appear on the group’s first record in over a decade, Phoenix, which you can stream now in full via NPR.

Priests have announced a new album, The Seduction of Kansas, and shared its title track. The LP comes out April 5 and they’re doing a huge tour around it.

FIDLAR ironically manages to Skype in their entire LA crew in a video for “By Myself,” from their forthcoming LP Almost Free (out January 25 on Mom + Pop).

Cherry Glazerr shares “Wasted Nun” from Stuffed & Ready, out February 1 via Secretly Canadian.

Deerhunter released the third single, “Plains,” from Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? but Bradford Cox is worried no one will listen to the record in its entirety when it comes out January 18.

Also releasing an album on January 18, experimental rock duo Buke & Gase premiered the title track from Scholars.

End Notes

  • Attention Brooklyn! Early aughts rap-rock one-hit-wonders Crazy Town are inexplicably playing Sunnyvale on February 23rd. Sorta wondering if it’ll just be one forty-five minute set of “Butterfly” played over and over.
  • If you’ve got kids, or have simply interacted with one in the last year, you’ve probably had “Baby Shark” stuck in your head at some point. But this week made it official – every toddler’s number one jam appeared for the first time on Billboard’s Hot 100, making it one of the few children’s songs to do so.
  • A documentary on Lifetime called Surviving R. Kelly aired the first week of January, and with it has come some new hope for victims seeking justice. The doc has prompted a kidnapping investigation in Georgia, more victims have come forward, and Phoenix, Lady Gaga, and Chance the Rapper have all recently released statements apologizing for working with R. Kelly in the past. Chance recently appeared on Sesame Street and admitted in an Instagram recap that he saved someone’s life by pulling them from a burning car last April, so we think his karma may be in the clear.
  • In a rare interview, Frank Ocean shared his very respectable skincare routine (and some other stuff) with GQ.
  • Risqué rap sensation CupcakKe (real name Elizabeth Harris) made some worrisome allusions to suicide on social media, prompting her hospitalization – but she seems to be on the mend, having released a single on Friday called “Squidward Nose.”
  • Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was a big winner at the Golden Globes last Sunday, taking home Best Picture and Best Actor for Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury – all in spite of its negative critical reception. Honors for Best Song went to Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga duet “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born.

NEWS ROUNDUP: RIP Charles Bradley, #TakeAKnee & More

  • RIP Charles Bradley

    Though he was able to tour up until the very end, even after battling stomach cancer, renowned soul singer Charles Bradley passed away over the weekend. He was 68. Nicknamed “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” Bradley was inspired by James Brown from a young age but didn’t release his first album until six years ago. He made a living as a handyman and by impersonating his idol until being discovered by a Daptone Records founder. Watch him perform below.

  • Musicians Take A Knee To Protest Police Brutality

    After Trump insulted football players who chose to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against our country’s police brutality, encouraging NFL owners to fire them, many musicians expressed solidarity with the players. Stevie Wonder was one of the first, kneeling before his set at NYC’s Global Citizen Festival. Other artists who participated include Pharrell Williams, Eddie Vedder, John Legend, and more. Read more a complete account of the situation here

  • Other Highlights

    Watch new videos from Princess Nokia and William Patrick Corgan, Spotify knows your musical secrets, Justin Timberlake will get a second chance at a Superbowl performance, a holographic Frank Zappa is going on tour, Thurston Moore made a techno record, listen to new music from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Angel Olsen, collaborations from Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile, Michael Cera/Sharon Van Etten, and Radiohead/Hans Zimmer, a concert hall created by an algorithm, and it’s way too early for these artists to release Christmas music

TRACK REVIEW: Grim Streaker “Guts”

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Grim Streaker photo by Isobel Shirley

Grim Streaker is a new project formed by members of Dinowalrus, The Teen Age, Belle Mare, and Hiccup. Last week they released their first single, “Guts,” produced and recorded by Mike Kutchman (Parquet Courts, WALL and Sharon Van Etten). 

Though they’ve just released one song so far, the noisy punk track contains the energy of several. “Guts” races full speed ahead, brakes screeching just enough to not fully careen out of control. Like their name, Grim Streaker’s first single gives young angst some levity by injecting a dose of dark humor, in verses that mirror each other perfectly. “Oh, I hate your mom/ I hate her good, she’s such a slut,” it begins, only later to declare, “Oh, I hate your dad/ I hate him bad.” Amelia Bushell voices her fiery scorn over frantic flashes of guitars and a heavy, determined beat. There’s something particularly pleasing, especially now, about looking around and not just declaring that everything sucks, but yelling it as loud as you can. For those without a stage, “Guts” is the perfect catharsis. 


NEWS ROUNDUP: Northside Fest & Opening/Closing Venues


northside news

  • Northside Festival Continues This Weekend

    That means, there’s amazing shows everywhere. From Greenpoint to Bushwick to Far North East Williamsburg, or whatever the newest, cool made-up neighborhood is. Feeling overwhelmed? We even wrote you a guide to cool shows. Look at how much fun everybody had last year:

  • Other Music Farewell Shows

    As we’ve written about before, Manhattan record store Other Music will be closing at the end of this month. But, you can catch an awesome goodbye show at Bowery Ballroom on 6/28. Performers will include Yo La Tengo, Julianna Barwick, Sharon Van Etten, Frankie Cosmos, Helado Negro, Menahan Street Band, Matana Roberts, and John Zorn’s Simalacrum (with John Medeski, Matt Hollenberg, and Kenny Grohowski). Check out this performance by Regina Spektor at the store in 2009: 

  • New Brooklyn Venue Opens, Two Set To Close

    The Glove held their soft opening on Wednesday, and Facebook posts state that their calendar will be opening soon. From the venue’s page: “Members of The Bohemian Grove present a new space: The Glove… an experimental venue, theater, gallery, and multimedia studio space.” It is located in Bushwick between the Kosciusko and Gates stop on Broadway.

    However, posts today indicated that both the Grand Victory in Williamsburg and Secret Project Robot in Bushwick will cease operating at their current locations, because of rising rents.

  • Stream Mitski’s Puberty 2

    The Brooklyn-based singer songwriter has received rave reviews for her new album, Puberty 2. It comes out next week via Dead Oceans, but you can listen to the stream on NPR and check out the video for “Your Best American Girl” below.

  • Lithuania Single Benefits ‘Women Against Abuse’

    This week the band premiered “Kill The Thing You Love,” a song that wasn’t included on their last album, Hardcore Friends, but will be released as a single. All proceeds from the song will benefit ‘Women Against Abuse,’ an organization that provides domestic violence services. Listen to the song on Post-Trash, and check out our interview with the band here.


ARTIST INTERVIEW: Huw Bunford of Super Furry Animals


“I keep forgetting I’m on a boat!” Huw Bunford, lead guitarist of Wales’ Super Furry Animals, is sitting in a booth on the Hornblower Infinity, 4 Knots’s designated artists lounge for the one-day festival on Pier 84. “Sorry, I just saw the horizon go up and down (laughs).” It is mildly unsettling trying to hold composure for an interview while feeling the slightest swells rock us left and right. All around are musicians snacking on buffet cheeses and crackers, chatting and ordering drinks from the bar. In all honesty, I keep forgetting we’re on a boat too.

Bunford, or as he cordially introduces himself, “Bunf,” is soft spoken, gracious, and exceedingly kind. These are not three adjectives that leap to mind when one imagines a rock star who’s been in the biz twenty-odd years. There’s a lot more ease about him – a casual uncertainty regarding the future that typically marks bands in their first year. Perhaps it’s the well-rested temperament of a man whose band has just emerged from a six-year hiatus.

Super Furry Animals are not only touring again for the first time since 2009, they’re also riding high on the deluxe edition rerelease of their 2000 album Mwng (pronounced Mung as I learned the hard way). The record, sung entirely in Welsh, was anomalous not only to the band (all prior recordings were in English) but also to the U.K. music industry of the time, which was strongly steeped in Britpop.  But as opposed to the Beatle-ific, Kink-centric nods from contemporaries such as Oasis and Blur, Super Furry Animals took on everything from funk to psychedelic, to space rock. Their diverse sonic anatomy makes it difficult to solder them to any specific time period – which may be why a reissue and a resurrection is so appropriate.

Bunf was kind enough to take the time to answer a few pressing questions, and chat about iTunes, wltimate painting, and SFA’s biggest fan.

AudioFemme: Welcome back to New York!

Huw Bunford: Thank you.

AF: So you’re back from a hiatus, you just played Glastonbury, and you’ve reissued Mwng after 15 years; what’s it like touring together as a band now? Is there a different dynamic?

HB: No. It’s strange really, it’s just like none of us have been away. It’s a very bizarre feeling. Before we did Glastonbury we did a short tour just to publicize Mwng really-the reissue-and there were about eight dates around Britain, and that was the first time we’d played for six years and we rehearsed before it and Cian [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Ciaran: keyboards, synths, etc] said when he walked in the first day, he looked in and our roadies had set up everything exactly as we’d remembered.

AF: It’s like when you talk to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and it’s as if no time has passed.

HB: Yeah, it’s very strange.

AF: What was it about Mwng in particular that you wanted to rerelease it instead of other records in your archive?

HB: Well, one thing about this is that there was no plan, it’s quite shambolic, a super loose idea where we had a few record companies like Sony and Domino who mentioned doing it years ago, and we sort of just never got our shit together and sorted it out. And then for some reason a year ago a guy from Domino bumped into Gruff [Rhys: lead vocals, guitar] and said “oh, we never did get that reissue….”

AF: I’ve read about it and I love that you all just say “oh we just forgot….”

HB: (laughs) Yeah, basically we were all just like (looks quizzical) “oh yeah….” But it just seemed right at the time. The idea of [reissuing] Mwng came out and Domino really jumped on it and was really amazing, and they made a really nice pressing. And Kliph Spurlock, who used to be the drummer for Flaming Lips is a massive fan-

AF: I would assume that the Flaming Lips may have been a fan of yours…

HB: Yeah, Kliph is, he’s a superfan. I first saw him in a gig in Lawrence, Kansas and I didn’t know who he was and he knew all the songs, all air drumming. So he then compiled a lot of outtakes and ATPs of Mwng so [the reissue] has about six sides. So that was worth pushing…worth doing something around it.

AF: I know one of the defining features of Mwng is that it’s sung entirely in Welsh. Looking back do you feel like that’s made a mark on contemporary Welsh music? Is it a thriving tradition or kind of an oddity?

HB: No, no, Wales has got a thriving musical scene, the Welsh language has its own radio station, and a lot of quite amazing bands really…a lot of young bands that really hold their own against anybody. And it’s healthy, you know, it’s not contrived I don’t think in any way, even though it’s a language that you might not associate with pop music, but it doesn’t matter really. In the end in a way, ironically, when we finally played America it was only when we came back and toured Mwng that’s when audiences in America thought ‘oh, these aren’t Britpop then’ because we’d been slightly lumped in by association.

AF: Which is so funny to me because I could not think of a further diversion from Britpop…

HB: It’s probably just because Creation [Records] and Oasis were out then and we came out then…I could see why people would sometimes think it…but not when they heard us (laughs). Once we started playing they were like “Oh, no, right.”

AF: What are you listening to now? Are there any new bands that you’re excited about or do you just go to the classics?

HB: Yeah, I like some new ones. Have you heard of Ultimate Painting?

AF: Yeah! They’re fantastic!

HB: Yeah, they’re amazing. I love them. And um, Van Etten.

AF: Sharon Van Etten? She’s great.

HB: I’m kind of into Soundscapes as well, though they don’t really figure much in the Billboard 100, but yeah, it’s kind of weird…and documentaries as well…that’s what I listen to and watch really.

AF: This is actually paraphrasing something Gruff said from about 2009, but it was regarding the fact that you guys have always been a very album-centric band, and that was a time period when people really constructed albums from start to finish as a whole composition. And now we really are in this era of individual downloads. How do you feel as a band kind of in those two spaces? Do you feel like there’s even a chance for bands to have longevity anymore based on that?

HB: Well, no not really. I suppose to be cynical it’s a completely different business model now. Cuz in a way that’s how everything effects everything in the end, unfortunately. You know peoples’ habits change, technology has in a way pushed that into the way people have changed. There’s a small little niche for vinyl…it’ll never die out, because I think bands love to do albums in the end. If you’re a band you might not want to just stop at one song, even though the record company does…

AF: I know bands will continue to make albums, I just wonder if there are any bands that we listen to now that we’ll still be excited about in 15 years…that I question a lot. I hope, but I don’t know.

HB: Yeah, I know what you mean, because there might not be enough…

AF: Attention span.

HB: Yeah, it’s kinda crazy. I mean there’s so much new stuff and then you get indie music, which is almost quite generic indie music, and then you get other indie music which is really out-there indie music and you can always see subtle differences and I think that’s because there’s just more of it. And I suppose peoples’ tastes become more sophisticated. We keep getting more sophisticated with our tastes.

AF: Some of us do….

HB: Well, yeah, but when you think about it it’s inevitable. Pop will eat itself.

AF: Not to age you guys with this statement, but as a pre-internet band-

HB: Oh, yes. We’re proud of that.

AF: I’m sure, I mean I would be if I had a band. Pre-internet. But, how do you feel about streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music? It’s complicated…

HB: Well, yeah, it is. It’s a minefield really isn’t it? Some bands like U2 totally missed the point spectacularly and put out everything on iTunes and get a separate contracted deal with Ttunes for a zillion pounds but make it look like “hey, we’re giving it away!” and it’s a lot of massive bands that do that, so it must be quite difficult for bands who are starting out now if the precedent is: ‘give it away and something might happen’ it’s a very upside down business plan. You can embrace it as a way of getting something out there. When we were around starting, you’d have to have a press officer, you’d have to have an agency, all these kinds of things which were all parasitic of the record company, but they needed them to be there and the whole apparatus would work and you’d get onto morning shows and TV shows. But now that’s all out the window. I think that people were just too slow to realize it…if you stand still in this game you die.

AF: Yeah and once your standing you’re not even there for that long.

HB: Yeah. That’s hard.

AF: I’ve read interviewers ask you guys about how having kids has affected your careers, but I’m curious to know how you guys have affected your kids with music. What kind of stuff are they listening to?

HB: Well now they’re just about getting to that age where they can really see what we did. Before they were a bit too young. They didn’t get it. So now they kind of, my kids are beginning to see that.

AF: Are they like ‘dad’s cool’ or are they kind of embarrassed?

HB: Yeaaaah, my kid’s eight-they’re all under 10 so still young, but you know, they don’t have any qualms saying ‘my dad’s a rock star’ to the milkman or something like that (laughs) that’s what they see, you know. But it’s funny you know, you try and downplay it but it’s sweet.

AF: I guess my last question would be, what’s next for you guys? A new album?

HB: Yeah, it’s just super loose. We don’t know. We’re taking it a week at a time. Well, not really, we’re doing almost like a festival tour up until the end of the season really. And then after that we’ll do something next year like the festivals and some of the things we didn’t get a chance to do, and that’s about as far as we’ve really stuck our necks out. But it’s good; it’s a nice feeling.

AF: But that’s nice, not being stressed out.

HB: Like I said, you know, people don’t really listen to albums anyway, so wha’ts the point of writing one? (Laughs)

AF: I do!!!





TRACK REVIEW: Heather Woods Broderick “A Call For Distance”


Heather Woods Broderick has played a supporting role for artists like Laura Gibson, Sharon Van Etten, Horse Feathers and  Efterklang. Now, the Portland composer/multi-instrumentalist is releasing an album that is solely hers.

“A Call For Distance” is a stand-out track from Glider. It’s a slow-burning song that gradually adds layers of Broderick’s vocals, the plucking of guitar strings and the rattle of a drum. The music rises and settles naturally, like the tide flowing in and out. Broderick’s voice is soft, but compelling as she asks for “A call for distance…to force a change without a name.” Her ability to perfectly layer her vocals shows that though she’s backed many other artists, she really only needs herself.

Glider will be released on July 10th through Western Vinyl. Check out “A Call For Distance” below:



Mackenzie Scott is primed to explode. Making music since 2012 under the moniker TORRES, that explosion might refer to her combustible stage performance or her rocket-like trajectory as she prepares to release her sophomore album Sprinter on May 5th via Partisan Records. After her self-titled debut garnered near-unanimous acclaim and got her noticed by the likes of Sharon Van Etten (who invited her both to guest-star on SVE’s Are We There as well as tour with her in support of the record), the Brooklynite snagged production help from Rob Ellis, who’s best known for his work with none other than PJ Harvey.  It’s easy to draw comparisons between TORRES’ sound and that of Polly Jean; both women have a raw, aggressive approach to both vocals and lyrics that’s particularly stirring. Though Scott was born in 1991, the grunge-era influence can be felt in every searing guitar riff and in every powerful, distorted utterance.

NPR, Rolling Stone, and a bevy of others have named TORRES on their lists of must-see acts at SXSW, but even if you can’t get down to Austin, you can check out the video for latest Sprinter single “Strange Hellos,” directed by Casey Pierce. As the song’s title suggests, the track and its accompanying visuals are a healthy mix of beckoning and foreboding. Dramatic lighting illuminates Scott’s steady gaze, the musculature of her voice and silhouette mirroring one another in the opening verses. By the time the jagged riffs of the chorus open up, Scott’s face is bathed in projections from 2001: A Space Odyssey as she bellows “What’s mine isn’t really yours/But I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

TORRES isn’t stopping with SXSW, she’ll be taking much of the US and parts of Canada by storm as she tours in support of Sprinter this May and June. Dates for the tour are below.

Tue-Mar-17 Austin, TX Ground Control Party at The Mohawk – SXSW
Wed-Mar-18 Austin, TX Central Presbyterian Church – SXSW
Wed-Mar-18 Austin, TX Pitchfork Party at The Mohawk – SXSW
Thu-Mar-19 Austin, TX AV Club Party at Cheer Up Charlie’s – SXSW
Fri-Mar-20 Austin, TX Culture Collide / Doc Martens Party at Bar 96 – SXSW
Sat-Mar-21 Austin, TX The Wild Honey Pie Party at Scoot Inn – SXSW
Sat-Mar-21 Austin, TX Under The Radar Party at Central Presbyterian Church – SXSW
Mon-May-04 Saxapahaw, NC Haw River Ballroom
Wed-May-06 Nashville, TN The Stone Fox
Fri-May-08 Dallas, TX Club Dada
Sat-May-09 Austin, TX The Mohawk
Mon-May-11 Scottsdale, AZ Pub Rock Live
Tue-May-12 Los Angeles, CA The Echo
Wed-May-13 San Francisco, CA Bottom Of The Hill
Fri-May-15 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
Sat-May-16 Seattle, WA Barboza
Sun-May-17 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl
Wed-May-20 Minneapolis, MN 7th St. Entry
Thu-May-21 Chicago, IL The Empty Bottle
Fri-May-22 Detroit, MI UFO Factory
Sat-May-23 Toronto, ON The Garrison
Wed-May-27 Brooklyn, NY Baby’s All Right
Thu-Jun-25 Allston, MA Great Scott
Fri-Jun-26 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
Sat-Jun-27 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle
Sun-Jun-28 Washington, DC DC9
Tue-Jun-30 Durham, NC The Pinhook
Wed-Jul-01 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Thu-Jul-02 Chattanooga, TN Rhythm & Brews

BEST OF 2014: Best Tracks from NYC Bands

There were a lot of great songs released in 2014, and many came from bands who are from New York City (or, like many of us here, just currently call it home). Here are some of the year’s best tracks from the city that never sleeps.
Ava Luna: “Plain Speech” from Electric Balloon (Western Vinyl, March) 
Ava Luna is an eclectic quintet based in Brooklyn. Practically three tracks in one, this hipster love song involving fixies is an example of how the band can switch seamlessly from funky, offbeat rhythms to heartfelt, soulful anthems. Expect a new album from them soon.

Celestial Shore: “Gloria” from Enter Ghost (Hometapes, November)
This Brooklyn-based band released their second, more polished album in November. On Enter Ghost’s second track, they transition easily from complicated drum beats and snarling guitars to soft melodies. “Gloria” builds up and pulls back constantly, never quite resting on any one type of sound.

Hospitality: “I Miss Your Bones” from Trouble (Merge Records, January) 
The trio’s second album toes the lines of psychedelic/garage rock and guitar pop with songs about the subtleties of relationships and everyday insecurities. “I Miss Your Bones” is one of the album’s most energetic tracks, with shifting rhythms, perfectly synced guitars, and spot-on lyrics sung with Amber Papini’s charismatic lilt.

LVL UP: “DBTS” from Hoodwink’d (Double Double Whammy/Exploding in Sound, September) 
LVL UP’s hometown is Purchase in Upstate New York, but they’ve recently joined the roster of emerging Brooklyn bands. They’re masters at crafting quick songs, sung with a tired drawl and lively metaphors reminiscent of David Berman. Hoodwink’d is a short, bittersweet showcase of mid-twenties angst.

Mitski: “Townie” from Bury Me At Makeout Creek (Double Double Whammy, November) 
How do you describe Mitski? You could say she’s like Brooklyn’s edgier version of Angel Olsen, with more grit and fuzzier guitars. That’s not all, though. With lyrics like “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony” and “I’m holding my breath like a baseball bat,” you can’t help wanting to know exactly what’s going on in her head.
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Parquet Courts: “Ducking and Dodging” from Sunbathing Animal  (What’s Your Rupture?/Mom & Pop, June)
These punks originally from Texas play an intense form of something falling between blues, punk and rock. They recently turned Webster Hall into a mess of mosh pits and attempted stage-diving, which reached its best point (or worst, if you were the incredibly unamused bouncer) with “Ducking and Dodging.” The lyrics are more spit than sung, punctuated by sharp guitar chords and a constant, pounding bass.

Parkay Quarts: “Pretty Machines” from Content Nausea (November 2014, What’s Your Rupture?)
Andrew Savage and Austin Brown made this list twice, with another recently released album under a slightly different name. “Pretty Machines” has a catchy, bright guitar hook, Savage’s deadpan vocals, and a surprisingly uplifting horn section. Every verse in the song is a quotable gem, with lyrics such as “ Whiskey sips upon me as my secrets escaped/ In the skyline of hell there are no fire escapes.”
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Sharon Van Etten: “Taking Chances” from Are We There (May, Jagjaguwar) 
Known for being kind of a downer, Are We There is probably not an album you want to listen to when you’re in a good mood. “Taking Chances” was the album’s first single and one of its best tracks. Van Etten’s sleepy voice, gloomy guitar and electric piano make this a good song for days when you’re not quite ready to force a smile.


BEST OF 2014 ALBUMS: Kelly’s Picks

lana-del-rey-14032160071. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
I’ve been on the Lana Del Rey bandwagon ever since I heard “Dark Paradise” (we’re all just pretending that her second album, Paradise, never happened, right?). Lana delivers all of the slow-burn goodness found in Born to Die and that fans expect from a follow up. She kicks things up a notch with tracks like “Money Power Glory” “Florida Kilos” and “Fucked My Way Up To the Top” but keeps her dreamy California cool reputation with songs like “West Coast,” “Cruel World” and “Shades of Cool.” It’s the perfect combination of what we loved about Lana, but matured and honed to perfection.



2. Tennis – Ritual in Repeat
In 2013, Tennis released an EP called Small Sounds, which was so good that I couldn’t wait until they released the next full album. In September, they finally obliged, and it was worth the wait. In the last few years, the band has taken themselves from a fun, 80’s girl vibe heard in Cape Dory and honed Alaina Moore’s voice to make an even bigger impression, first on Young and Old and now in Ritual in Repeat. They’ve only gotten better over time, and Ritual in Repeat is the most enjoyable album yet. The catchy and upbeat “Never Work for Free” and “Viv Without the N” pair perfectly with the hopeful “Bad Girls” and “Solar on the Rise” to form a complete, solid album.


3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Bombay Bicycle Club has always been a fun rock band, but So Long, See You Tomorrow cemented them as seriously fun (and seriously good) alternative rockers. The standout track is “Home By Now,” which pairs Lucy Rose and lead singer Jack Steadman for a R&B duet, closely followed by “It’s Alright Now,” “Carry Me” “Whenever, Wherever,” and “Luna.” It’s difficult to even pick out a non-catchy track among the listing—a well-rounded, enjoyable collection.


4. Mothxr – Various singles
OK, so this isn’t actually an album. But in interviews, the band has said they don’t plan on releasing an album, but rather release singles whenever they feel like it and I’m obsessed with the four they’ve given us this year so they belong on this list. I fell in love with them during a CMJ 2014 performance and can’t stop talking about them now. Frontman Penn Badgley (yes from Gossip Girl) leads a funky, jazzy, sexy soulful band. During their live shows, Penn grooves along to the music, and it’s hard not to do the same when listening.




5. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
An embarrassing confession: I first heard of Lykke Li from the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. But thank goodness I did because even though that franchise was a disaster, I was introduced to such a great musician. It had been nearly four years since Lykke gave us Wounded Rhymes, and she didn’t disappoint with a follow up in I Never Learn. The album is definitely an extension of her signature haunting croon, and even feels a bit darker and more melancholy than her previous work. Even though it was released in May, I recently discovered it’s a great album to listen to on dreary winter commutes into the city.


6. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Are there more depressing song titles than “Your Love is Killing Me,” “I Love You But I’m Lost” or “Nothing Will Change”? I doubt it. But Sharon Van Etten makes the depression feel so good—probably because most of us can relate in some way to the mournfulness she projects. And her voice itself doesn’t hurt. A full, sometimes breathy voice gets into our heads and refuses to leave. Luckily, we don’t want it to.


7. Banoffee – EP
While not a full-length album, the EP itself has me excited enough for whenever they’ll make their debut. I sadly missed their CMJ performances in October, but I’ll catch them another year because I’m sure Aussie Martha Brown is going to be killing it for a while. The synthetic beats on the tracks combine with R&B melodies and her dreamy vocals to create a fun, funky jam.


8. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
I first saw Sylvan Esso when they opened for Volcano Choir in 2013. While they performed, I realized that they sounded good, but I was a bit thrown off that a group so focused on synth loops would be paired with Volcano Choir. Given more time to reflect, it makes sense to me now. Their debut album has been topping the charts for best of 2014 lists, and it’s clear to see why. Those synth loops are catchy, as are Amelia Meath’s sweet vocals.


9. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
It’s not surprising the St. Vincent turned out a stellar album this year—Annie Clark has been making them for a while now. I admit to being a little wary of “Birth in Reverse” when it first premiered, but I’ve since come around, and enjoy it just as much as the rest of the album. It’s guitar heavy and sounds like futuristic robots should be performing it. I mean that in the best way.


10. The Antlers – Familiars
The Antlers came back this year bringing their signature moaning vocals and smooth, swelling beats. The Antlers has always been one of my favorite artists to belt out while driving at night, and I’ll probably test that out with this album next time I get the chance. Peter Silberman’s voice is a kind of lonely moaning that is best projected when you’re by yourself.

BAND OF THE MONTH: Leverage Models


“My only rules were that I would shut my conscious impulses as much as possible (my impulse to interrogate and analyze every gesture, ponder what imaginative impulse every sound was for, worry about what outlet would be used to release the music) and just make,” Shannon Fields has written, regarding his approach to music and his new project–and AudioFemme’s Band Of The Month!–Leverage Models. Fields’ creative impulses and internal landscapes are at the heart of this group. Friends and cohorts appear on Leverage Models’ self-titled debut, too, in such high and ever-evolving numbers that trying to count them would be futile, but Sharon Van Etten, Sinkane and Yeasayer all number among Leverage Models’ contributers. Fields, who dreamt up his first band, Stars Like Fleas, in 1999 and played under that name for nearly a decade, has always been inclined towards collaboration.

Listening to Leverage Models is a fantastically colorful experience, so much so that the first few times through the album feel like being in a brand new, exotic and densely stimulating city–it’s hard to have concrete thoughts on the music when you’re so busy just trying to take it all in. In a wonderfully interior journey, Leverage Models presents a mostly-joyous, always-elaborate layering of futuristic soul music, electronic riffs and repetitive vocal lines that sound more like instrumental licks than voices. It’s hard to see the seams of this album: the music’s many aspects seem like they must have simultaneously sprung, fully formed, into being. Since the album bears so little comparison to anything else in its category, finding the songs’ trajectories requires enough listening to get past just being dazzled by the bright lights and shiny metals, but once you do, the album is actually pretty accessible. Some of the songs, like “Sweet” (with Sharon Van Etten) are surprisingly catchy, with strong R&B influence and an endearing sense of excitement swelling beneath the melodies.

In the fifteen-odd years he’s been recording–first with Stars Like Fleas, and now Leverage Models–Fields has put out only four full-length albums, with a few years’ space between each. It’s easy to see why: each complex, densely compiled release packs a hefty wallop. None more so than Leverage Models, which feels like the summation of the full five years Fields took to create it, with an elegant blend of complexity in its instrumental arrangements and sweet simplicity in its intent.

Listen to the oh-so-stunning, “A Chance To Go”, here via Soundcloud


If you can’t catch Leverage Models at our SXSW showcase this Wednesday, cozy up with Shannon right here instead! Audiofemme got in touch with him and asked him a few questions about music, and the internet, and resurrecting his teenage self who would then listen to the new album. Here’s what went down:

AF: Tell us about the process of beginning your new project, Leverage Models. How did you want it to differ from your work with Stars Like Fleas? What inspires your music writing?

Shannon: Leverage Models didn’t really begin deliberately. Stars Like Fleas was a very large family of musicians that was so emotionally volatile, and so draining to keep afloat that when it finally ripped itself apart I just moved to the country and started spending all day in my home studio with absolutely no agenda except to find something to glue myself back together with. I suddenly had a surplus of time and space to create in. But also this sort of crushing weight of having a part of my identity, something I’d built for almost 10 years (Stars Like Fleas, my life in Brooklyn) vanish overnight. I felt free of the albatross it had become for me, but also a huge wave of “what now?” anxiety. The only way I could handle that was to entirely avoid thinking about the “what now?”, or about who I am or what I had to offer anybody. So that was a pretty radical change to my creative process. With the Fleas, the creative process was analytical to the point of compulsion – it was 2 parts sound creation / performance and 98 parts self-interrogation, willful deconstruction, avoidance of any convention, avoidance of anything that might work in an immediate or superficial way for anybody.  And I don’t regret a moment of that. But Leverage Models originated in my just making songs that made me feel better and that I enjoyed living inside, without questioning anything (because at the time I had no intention of doing anything with those songs). Honestly, this was and still is straight up therapy….an approach I hadn’t previously had much respect for.  I don’t want to suggest there isn’t still some of that going on with Leverage Models, but I try to keep the higher functioning parts of my brain out of the room until it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture of an album, or a mix. Until then I let the lizard parts of my brainstem drive the bus. I think I’m more interested these days in the logic of craft and folk art rather than the trappings of modernism, that constant privileging of newness and confrontation of norms, so Leverage Models focuses much more on the shared conventions of pop music and just trying to be disciplined about writing and arranging well. (That said, lyrics are a different conversation entirely….a different ballgame, and equally important to me).

AF: Now that the album has been out for a few months, how do you feel about it? Do you have a favorite song? 

S: I spent a year on the record and I’m completely happy with it. It’s not the record I would make today, but it’s a good snapshot where I was at a year ago, and I’m proud of the response I’ve gotten from some of the people whose opinions I care the most about. I don’t actually listen to my own records and can’t say I have a favorite song. Right now my favorite song to play live is The Chance To Go.  With most of the songs I wrote and recorded them predominantly at home before bringing in the band to replace demo arrangements. But The Chance To Go came out of a live improvisational session with the band. One morning we woke up, I described a groove to the band, and maybe 15 minutes later we had that song. It feels more spontaneous and live than other things on the record because it is. Also….A Slow Marriage is one that ages well for me….it might be the most open, direct and personal…it feels simultaneously vulnerable and synthetic…which is how I feel most days.

AF: How do you feel about music in the digital age? Would you go to war in order to save the internet from extinction?

S: I’m a little bit confused and alienated by the new relationship to music that the culture has. Music is a little more of a disposable lifestyle accessory and a little less precious then it was when I was a teenager. I don’t know that I have a strong feeling about whether that’s a good or bad thing….I guess it’s a mixed bag, like all change. It’s what culture does. That said, I might not have any kind of social life or a career without the Internet….it’s easier to do everything (except make money), including just talking to people…which has always been difficult for me. It doesn’t carry over into performance, but offstage I have a crippling amount of social anxiety. So email is great. And I think when I moved to the country my music career might have been over in a pre-Internet world. Now it matters much less where I live.

AF: You’ve picked out of the way spots to do a lot of your recording, and Leverage Models was recorded in a farmhouse outside of Cooperstown, NY. Why do you choose such remote locations?

S: Ha!…because I live in that farmhouse in the country outside of Cooperstown! My band lives in Brooklyn but I left before Leverage Models happened. I record mainly in my home studio, in between barn chores (my wife and I are breeding horses) and other work around the property. Splitting my days between physical labor and creative work gives me a rhythm that’s really healthy for me. I feel like a better person for it…even if that’s sentimentalized nonsense, it’s a fiction that helps me get through the day. And I just feel physically and mentally more stable. NYC was breaking me. Also, I should mention that I generally record the full band and mix at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY, — mainly because D. James Goodwin, who runs it, is someone I trust and have a longstanding relationship with. He’s a powerful creative human and he gets me.

AF: What are your strengths as a musician? Would you say you have any weaknesses?

S: I’m not putting my head in either of those nooses. Is this a job interview, Annie?

AF: If one of your songs (while you’re in the process of writing it that is), were a small child (or pet), would you say that it would have a mind of its own or would it generally stay in line and follow the rules?

S: Oh I’m probably training feral animals here, metaphorically speaking.  In my writing process I make a conscious effort not to know where I’m going when I begin a song. Sometimes I do try to generate ideas by throwing myself curve balls (horrible cliché’s, instruments and mixing choices that are steeped in cheesy baggage, pastiche, etc.) but mainly I just work really fast and intuitively up front…so fast I don’t have time to question what I’m doing….following my reflexes and my pleasure centers. I write/record in manic highs and edit when I’m miserable. Then if I’ve painted myself into a corner, finding my way out usually leads to something that’s better than it would be if I tried to really over-direct and control the process.

AF: If you could have any person, living or dead, real or fictitious, listen to a song off Leverage Models, who would it be? What do you think they/it would think about that song?

S: Hmmmm….the only thing that comes to mind would be my teenage self. And….I really have no idea what I would think. But I think I’d be pretty down. I would probably question all the slap bass.

AF: If you could experience your own music through one of your other senses, which would it be? What would it taste/smell/feel/look like?

S: Can I experience someone else’s music this way? That seems like a pretty heavy gift to use in such a self-indulgent way. I’m a little food-obsessed. I think Maurice Fulton’s music would make for a pretty satisfying combination of salt, heat and sweetness, without a lot of heavy starchy proteins.

AF: What is one of your favorite cities to perform in? Do you have any weird tour bus necessities?

S: We’re lucky to get a bar towel and some hot water on a hospitality rider and we tour in my 2008 soccer-mom minivan, packed so full of shit none of us can move our legs. I look forward to having weird tour bus necessities though.

As for chosen cities, I just like performing anywhere that people seem hungry for music and aren’t so self-conscious that they’re afraid to move their bodies at a show. But to be honest, I was just as uptight and self-conscious for a long time. It took a long while to get to the point where I really internalized that I am going to die – I think that’s what it pivots on – and was able to full let go of all those kinds of very Midwestern, probably very male inhibitions. So we love playing smaller towns that are usually passed over; where you play to a small crowd but everyone who comes up to you is grateful and excited. It makes me remember being that kid in Kansas City…remembering the feeling you have – living in what you think is the ass-end of the universe — when you see something that changes the game for you, turns a light on, makes the world feel suddenly larger and more nuanced and more capable of possibility and not limited to the values of whatever oppressive cool-crowd you’re stuck under, shows you a way out or inspires you to remake yourself. Anyway, we seem to find a lot of these places in the south. On our current tour, D.C. (a huge house party with a few hundred people, put on by the Lamont Street Collective), Asheville NC, Charlotte NC, and Jacksonville FL were all surprisingly bonkers. I just like to feel like I’m making some kind of real connection with every person there. If I don’t, I feel like a complete failure as a performer and as a person…no matter how much people might have liked it or how ‘on’ the band was. I always take crowd reactions personally, I’m very motivated to feel that connection, even when I know I’m doing things onstage to actively bait or confront them a bit (which happens).

AF: Do you have any words of wisdom for Audiofemme? Any secrets you’d like to divulge?


1.  No wisdom, but a thanks to Audiofemme for helping to provide a balance to the music journalists’ boys club. I’m not sure boys clubs are our scene. I’m used to getting threatening looks in boys’ clubs.

2.  I’m very good at keeping secrets. You first.




Track Review: “Taking Chances”

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten has gone a great distance musically, and probably emotionally since we first heard the sad, minimal, unpolished and vulnerable laments of heartbreak on Because I Was In Love back in 2009. It was pretty clear right off the bat that Sharon Van Etten had some serious musical chops, but after listening to her two subsequent albums (Epic, Tramp) it isn’t hard to recognize her staying power and ability to grow as a musician. Because I Was In Love introduced us to Van Etten’s angelic yet powerful voice, and amazed us with the singer’s ability to glide instantly and effortlessly into bone chilling falsettos. In the past five years, Sharon Van Etten has steadily gained strength as a vocalist, songwriter and instrumentalist.

If Sharon Van Etten’s newest single, “Taking Chances” is any indication of her upcoming album Are We There (May 27th), we can expect further development in production quality. “Taking Chances” is by far her most instrumentally complex and rhythmically dynamic release yet. “Taking Chances” wastes no time with its development as a heavy bassline and steady percussion color the song from beginning to ending. Van Etten’s electric guitar explodes during each chorus with rhythmically strummed power chords.  On “Taking Chances,” Sharon Van Etten draws from a number of instruments ranging from the omnichord and the organ to the electric guitar, bass and drums. While there may be more going on than ever before, the vast array of instrumental elements succeeds in drawing even more attention to the main attraction: Sharon Van Etten’s vocals.

One notable change on “Taking Chances” is the uplifting lyrical content. When discussing Sharon Van Etten’s music, most people allude to (perhaps too much) her personal romantic history, which has apparently been her main musical inspiration. Well, if “Taking Chances” is any indication, it appears that things are looking up for Sharon Van Etten. Lyrics are still cynical and skeptical (no need to think on our own now about it // sitting on the porch looking for a way out, touched on me deep, that’s why I’m still here, why do we think that we know plight), yet they hint at optimism (even I’m taking my chances on you). Compared to her earlier music, “Taking Chances” is downright cheery.

While the new Sharon Van Etten may sound miles away from the musician that she was a mere five years ago, after stripping down “Taking Chances” you can find all of the trademark Sharon Van Etten qualities that we fell in love with. The falsettos have only become firmer in quality while her lower register has mastered a stylistic element that sounds both cutting and breathy simultaneously.  Like many singer/songwriters, Sharon Van Etten lets the world in with her deeply personal and autobiographical lyrics. What sets her apart is her ability to do this exceptionally well.

Sharon Van Etten will grace us with her presence early this summer with shows at The Music Hall of Williamsburg (June 12) and The Bowery Ballroom (June 13, June 14). Get those tickets if you know what’s good for you.

We’ve Been Had: The Walkmen’s Final Show

The Walkmen at Union Transfer

It wasn’t supposed to be about The Walkmen.

What started as a fundraiser for Philly’s very own High Line-esque project (known as The Rail Park and every bit as awesome) became something different entirely when Peter Bauer (The Walkmen’s organist and bass player) announced last week via a Washington Post interview that the band had absolutely no plans to make a new record, tour, or really be much of a band in the future at all.

“We really just have no idea,” Bauer said. “I don’t think any of us wanted to write another Walkmen record. Maybe that will change down the line, maybe it won’t, maybe we’ll play shows. I think it’s weird to make a hubbub about something if there’s nothing to really make a hubbub about.”

He went on to include sentiments that have been echoed by other members in the band – that because they’re not the “archetypal rock band where everyone lives in an apartment” but in reality have lived in different cities since the release of A Hundred Miles Off in 2006, getting together for a show is more like Thanksgiving or a bachelor party or a family reunion.  In the fall they played a short stint in Europe, and the summer prior saw them added to several festival line-ups, including Brooklyn’s Northside.  With each one-off they left behind wives and young children, saying goodbye to one family to be embraced by a family of a different sort in what must have been an exhausting cycle.

When the “indefinite hiatus” was announced, there were two shows left on The Walkmen’s calendar: one in D.C. at new venue Dock 5, and the gig at Philadelphia’s gorgeous Union Transfer.  Up to the moment they took the stage, it remained a benefit show for Rail Park as scheduled, supported by a full roster of all-star acts.

Sharon Van Etten was joined by Adam Granduciel (of The War On Drugs), Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler for a three-song harp-inclusive set comprised of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”, Van Etten’s own “I’m Wrong”, and Big Star’s “Thirteen”.  Philadelphia’s Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night gave an impassioned performance, Busch stating between songs that in all her dreams, a project like the Rail Park was the best thing she could imagine for Philly.  Spank Rock’s similarly short but charismatic set blended into a rousing performance from Sun Ra Arkestra, led by Marshall Allen.  The stage was filled with nearly twenty vibrant jazz musicians, clad in glittering garb, horns lifted to Saturn (the claimed birthplace of the group’s now deceased founder) in an incredible performance that fused free jazz, ragtime, and big band sounds.  All this after a fully catered shmooze-fest where I binged on fancy cheese and pumpkin mousse.

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The celebratory tone changed only slightly when The Walkmen took the stage for what would be the last time until who-knows-when.  Members of Sun Ra Arkestra remained to provide brassy accompaniment for “Red Moon” and “Canadian Girl”.  Ever the charismatic frontman, Hamilton Leithauser’s voice was in top form, his gangly form outfitted in a blazer and tie per usual.  Matt Barrick’s indefatigable drums ricocheted throughout the venue, punctuating Paul Maroon’s confident guitar as well as Walter Martin and Bauer’s turns on bass and organ.  They performed dutifully but never dispassionately.  There was no question that as a whole, the group was leaving behind a legacy as one of indie rock’s most exciting and skilled syndicates.

In looking at a typical Walkmen setlist, there was nothing wholly out of place in the band’s chosen sequence of songs, which included material spanning the band’s fourteen-year run.  But it was hard to escape the feeling that it was curated specifically for a farewell show, seeming at times like a mixtape you’d give to someone you were dumping.  Cast in this last light, the latently wistful themes and lyrics about looking back stood out and took on a whole new tone.  From the hopeful line “You will miss me when I’m gone / But the happy music will carry on” in “Canadian Girl” through the world-weary “All the years keep rolling / The decades flying by” in “On The Water” to the anthemic “And my heart’s in the strangest place / That’s how it started / And that’s how it ends” bellow of “In The New Year” the set could have been a manifesto as to why the band was choosing to leave its spotlight.  And that was just in the first few songs.  They spoke for themselves; when Leithauser mentioned the break-up early in the evening he was almost dismissive of the gravity of it, encouraging the audience to have a great time and celebrate along with them.

And The Walkmen did parlay a well-deserved celebratory attitude.  The sardonic undercurrents, delivered as always with a trademark sneer, gave a sense simply that no one had wanted to overstay their popularity as a band.  In The Washington Post, Bauer put it this way: “It’s been almost 14 years now.  I think that’s enough, you know?”   There hasn’t been a dramatic blow-up or falling out – it’s just that all five members of The Walkmen are ready to go their separate ways.  No one is interested in becoming a band that tours for all of eternity, on into their older years.  Instead, everyone is focused on solo projects.  Leithauser has collaborated with members of Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend for an album slated for spring release.  Bauer speaks emphatically about his upcoming solo record Liberation!, a psych-tinged project released under his full name that sees him not only playing guitar but actually singing.  Martin is releasing an album of “cleverly done” children’s songs (Leithauser’s description), Maroon’s doing soundtracks for an unnamed documentary.  And Barrick will likely go in a completely new direction, having shot beautiful photos of the band’s tours, street performers in New Orleans, and his family life among other subjects, now finally able to focus more acutely on that passion.

The Walkmen at Union Transfer

A victory lap was in order, and the last half of the set was just that.  “We Can’t Be Beat” provided the build-up – Leithauser’s voice arced easily over the crowd on the line “It’s been soooooo  loooooong but I made it through” before ending the set with what could arguably be considered their most triumphant swan song, “Heaven”.  He literally lifted a fist into the air during bouyant cries of “Remember, remember!” and the rest of the song was just as sentimental: “Our children will always hear / Romantic tales of distant years / Our gilded age may come and go /
Our crooked dreams will always glow”.  Those feeling particularly nostalgic need only watch the video for the track, which collages archival photos and footage from the band’s career.

Amid thunderous (and maybe even some tearful) applause, they returned to the stage for “138th Street”, a fitting ballad about growing up from Bows + Arrows, serving as further explanation to anyone still in need of a reason for the hiatus, or maybe a reminder that life unfolds no matter what antics you pull.  The crazy things we do as kids recede into memory someday, not unlike that one time, in the spring of 2006, when I spent twelve hours wasted on the lawn of OSU’s campus during a little event my good friend Ahmed Gallab had organized (appropriately called Springfest).  The Walkmen headlined that year, somewhere around the eleventh hour of my drunkenness.  I think I was dancing on top of a speaker when a girl I didn’t know ran by, grabbing my arm.

“Hey,” she said, breathless.  “Wanna dive off the stage with me?”  Well, yeah.  I did.  So we ran backstage, and then onto it, past Barrick and Bauer and Leithauser and Martin and Maroon and leapt into the crowd.  It went by in a blur.  I don’t even remember what song they were playing – just that at the time, they were one of my favorite bands.  On the walk to legendary Columbus divebar Larry’s (RIP to that place), I “knew everyone I saw” so to speak, and everyone had seen me do it, and we all had a pretty good laugh, right there in the streets.

Sometimes, I really am just happy I’m older.  Seven years later, the twinkling, ramshackle piano line of “We’ve Been Had” stirred fans at Union Transfer.  Leithauser introduced the song as the first the band had written, back in the day when the boys really were that archetypal band making a go of a music career by moving to New York, living together, running amok, not knowing where the road would lead.  Everyone shouted those iconic lines along with Leithauser: “We’ve been had /I know it’s over / Somehow it got easy to laugh out loud”.  The jangling melody stretched longer as Leithauser introduced his bandmates “for the last time in a long time”.  Then he made the rounds down a runway set up for the fashion show that had been part of the Rail Park fundraiser, shaking the hands of fans who stood alongside it.

For years I’ve taken The Walkmen for granted, assuming they were a band that would be around forever.  I basically “grew up” listening to them. Not in the way that you grow up dancing in your diapers to your parents’ Beatles records, to be sure.  But these songs were with me throughout my twenties, as I made my way through college, out of Ohio, adrift in the wilds of Brooklyn, and into some semblance of adulthood.  And Wednesday’s show was every bit the reminder of just how good a soundtrack The Walkmen made for anyone going through that process, because they were honest and true in their songwriting as they went though it themselves.  As their narrative ends, the relevance of that contribution only skyrockets.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

TRACK REVIEW: “Forgiven/Forgotten”

jag246.11183There has been much attention and discussion circulating around the name Angel Olsen, from her critically acclaimed album Half Way Home released just last year, to her now infamous, “blood-curddling” performance with Kentucky native singer-songwriter Will Oldham  (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) back in 2010.

 The Midwestern indie-folk singer and guitarist has drawn comparisons to contemporaries like Sharon Van Etten and the 50s era songstress Connie Converse, but Olsen has crafted (and perhaps even perfected) her own amalgamation of indie-folk influenced Americana. Half Way Home exhibited Olsen’s spellbinding vocal range as she serenaded us with everything from soft-spoken hums to blasts of soulful croons that join the likes of beloved country singers such as Patsy Cline.

“Forgiven/Forgotten” is the first single from her upcoming release on Jagjaguwar Records, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, produced by John Congleton (the unsung hero producer behind records by Modest Mouse, Okkervil River and William Elliott Whitmore). “Forgiven/Forgotten” displays Olsen’s impressive range once more, this time through the exhibition of  a number of haunting, distorted chants. She veers off from her trademark Folk-Americana genre, but fear not, as she also knows how to orchestrate an energized, pop-driven indie song that mirrors a cross between the Pixies and Funeral-era Arcade Fire.  Olsen masterfully crafts an innovative, alternative-influenced version of the undeniably catchy pop song, the kind you wish you’d stumble across more often.

Angel Olsen’s new album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness is due out 2/18/2014, and her tour kicks off next week. For now listen to “Forgiven/Forgotten” right here, via Soundcloud: