NEWS ROUNDUP: Allegations Against PWR BTTM, ACLU’s Rockstar & More

  • PWR BTTM Cancel Release Show Following Allegations

    Over the past few days, allegations of predatory behavior and sexual abuse were made against Ben Hopkins of PWR BTTM, and an anti-semitic photo of Hopkins from 2011 has again resurfaced. While the former was previously addressed by the band, many fans were taken by complete surprise regarding the allegations of violated consent, despite the fact that some of their peers state they were warned about this behavior months ago. The Brooklyn band T-Rextasy is one of them, and has cancelled their July tour with PWR BTTM. Tonight’s Rough Trade release show for Pageant has also been cancelled.

    While the band has not outright confirmed or denied these allegations, they’ve released a statement that includes the offer for victims to send an email to an account that will allegedly only be accessible by an as-yet unidentified mediator. This has sparked further criticism as well as a discussion about accountability; Jes Skolnik does an amazing job of breaking it down via Medium.

  • Meet The ACLU Employee Who Is Also A Rockstar

    Pinky Weitzman is the deputy director of the ACLU, in charge of helping the organization adapt to the modern age. She’s been described as one of its “greatest digital minds.” She’s also a touring member of the Magnetic Fields, and performs with other big-name musicians and in musicals. Instead of taking a break from the ACLU to go on a Magnetic Fields tour, after the election, she decided to take on both roles simultaneously. Read the NBC feature on Weitzman here.

  • Pink Floyd’s Animals Inspires Protest Art

    A Chicago architect wants to relieve the city- at least for a day- of seeing the Trump Tower logo. Jeffrey Roberts is still seeking the city’s approval for his “Flying Pigs on Parade,” which entails tethering several huge, gold, inflatable pigs to a barge to block the letters of Trump’s name. The project was inspired by Pink Floyd’s use of a pig balloon for their 1997 album Animals, and Roger Waters has given Roberts his approval and permission. 

ALBUM REVIEW: Future Islands “The Far Field”

“It’s not easy, just being human, and the lights and the smoke and screens,” sings Sam Herring on Future Islands’ latest record, The Far Field. It isn’t. Our lives are a sloppy amalgamation of highs and lows, love and hate, obsession and apathy. In essence, this record faces this reality head on: it’s a devastatingly beautiful case study on love and infatuation, the thin line that separates them, and the sting that comes close behind.

Musically speaking, this is the Baltimore band’s final descent into straight indie-pop. With five albums under their belt already, it’s difficult to find anything else to reinvent, audibly speaking. And so they dig deeper, doing what they do best even better – pairing impossibly catchy tracks with deeply moving, emotionally insightful lyrics. Yet the catchiest songs on the record – “North Star” and “Shadows” (featuring Debbie Harry!) – are not the most compelling. It’s because they lack the sheer emotional depth and the stark truth of the other tracks that hammer home the difficulty of our humanity. We fall too easily; we fail to stay neutral by our very nature, and oftentimes that hurts us.

This becomes apparent right off the bat with opening track “Aladdin,” on which Herring sings “I built a ship for two / It waits for me and you” before he asks “Is it real?” He wants, he builds the ship, he projects the relationship he wants onto whomever “you” is before he can even really know what “you” thinks or feels. And don’t we all do that? It’s the way we idealize situations and people; we imagine the reality we’d like to live in, all the while forgetting that’s not how life works. And when actual reality crashes down upon us, it hurts.

This obsessive imagination touches on nearly every track of the record, opening scab after scab while you realize you’ve felt every feeling he describes. “Beauty of the Road” captures the way it’s sometimes hard to remember the last time you saw someone because you never imagined it could possibly be the last time, boiled down to one wistful line: “I never thought you’d really go.” On “Cave” he sings “All I hold is all I own,” one of those rare moments on the record where he removes his rose-tinted glasses to face the stark reality of our solitude. We can’t make anyone do or feel anything, and our suffering is often a direct result of refusing to accept that. It’s those light and smoke and screens he mentioned earlier – life is by nature uncertain, and this uncertainty is uncomfortable to live with. But he acknowledges our ability to let go of this, to accept the fact that we can’t control anything but ourselves. On “Ancient Water” he sings “Too many wasted days and nights, obsessed with the flickering moments of my life, forgetting what giving and living can be–what it can mean, first forgiving myself…” It’s the moment we realize rumination doesn’t serve us, that we aren’t chained to the memory of what was and that we’re “strong enough to be free.”

After all of this – the idealization, the denial, and ultimately the self-realization and forgiveness – the greatest irony of all is that the last word on The Far Field is “stay,” leaving us to wonder what it would be like if life actually worked that way. It’s a moment of terrifying realization: that no matter how much we say we’ve gotten over it, our past is still a vital aspect of who we are and it’s nearly impossible to truly let anyone go. It may seem as easy as asking them to stay, but Herring’s lyrics remind us that life’s beauty resides in the complications.

The Far Field is out now via 4AD. Check tour dates here.



With a name inspired by a Kafka story, it makes sense The Harrow would be well-spoken. Yet even with the bar set high the mysterious Brooklyn coldwave/post-punk band impressed with their bewitchingly intelligent interview. The Harrow is Vanessa Irena (vocals, synth, programming), Frank Deserto (bass, synth, machines), Barrett Hiatt (synth, programming) and Greg Fasolino (guitar). They are currently working on an upcoming LP that we’re already gnawing to hear. I spoke with our Artist of the Month about gothic art, nerdy influences, and selectivity of gigs.

AudioFemme: How did you guys meet and form a band?

Barrett: We all seemed to have traveled in the same circles for some years, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time for this band to come to fruition. Frank and I became close friends during our previous band, and we had shared stages with Greg’s previous band as well. Vanessa and Frank met through their respective DJ gigs, and the timing just felt right. Frank had some demos kicking around, I jumped in and we started fleshing things out. We then invited Greg to add his signature sound, and Vanessa was the perfect last piece to the puzzle.

AF: Who do you look up to as musical inspirations?

Frank: As far as sound is concerned, bands like Cindytalk, And Also the Trees, Breathless, Cranes, For Against, and of course, The Cure and Cocteau Twins are hugely inspirational, as well as most of the players in the French coldwave and early 4AD movement. Belgian new beat and ’90s electronica have been influences that I’m not quite sure have fully manifested yet, but are definitely something I’d love to explore further in the coming years.

Greg: For me, the 4AD sonic universe is definitely a place we all intersect and Cocteau Twins are the ultimate touchstone. As a musician, I am particularly influenced by classic ’80s post-punk bands like The Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Banshees, Bunnymen, Sad Lovers & Giants, and The Sound, as well as ’90s genres like shoegaze (Slowdive, Pale Saints, MBV), trip-hop (Massive Attack, Portishead), and alt-rock (Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley). Lately I am very inspired by a lot of modern neo-shoegaze bands, who seem to be carrying the torch for dreamy, effects-heavy music now that much of the post-punk revival has dissipated, as well as more atmospheric metal stuff like Agalloch and Deftones/Crosses and creative, hard-to-categorize bands like HTRK and Braids.

B: I’m not sure if I can get through an interview without mentioning Trent Reznor, but he has always inspired me, through his recording methods as well as his choice of collaboration, and just his general attitude towards music. Of course: David Bowie, Chris Corner, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, The Cure. I do have a tendency to lean on bands from the ’80s.

Vanessa: I’m a huge fan of Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife) and Elizabeth Bernholz (Gazelle Twin). These days I’m mostly listening to techno and textural stuff (Ancient Methods, Klara Lewis, Vatican Shadow, Function, Profligate, OAKE, Adam X, Mondkopf, etc.).

AF: What about other artists: poets, painters, writers – who else has influenced your sound?

F: Literary influences are as important to me as musical influences. There’s the obvious surrealist and nightmarish nods to Kafka, but other authors such as Isak Dinesen, Robert Aickman, Albert Camus, Charles Baudelaire, and William Blake have inspired the lyrics I’ve written for the band, some more directly than others. As for art, the same applies; Francis Bacon seems almost too obvious to mention, but his work is incredibly moving. Francisco De Goya as well. I’m also drawn heavily to bleak, medieval religious art, usually depicting the crueler aspects of Christianity. Perhaps a bit cliché as far as gothic influences are concerned, but lots of imagery to draw upon.

B: David Lynch, John Carpenter, Jim Jarmusch, Anton Corbijn, just to name a few. These guys paint wonderful pictures through film, and I always find it very inspiring.

V: Frank and I have pretty similar tastes in art, so I definitely agree with him on the above, but I think it’s worth mentioning that we’re also all a bunch of huge fucking nerds. I’m not ashamed to admit that lyrical inspiration for me can come just as easily from The Wheel of Time or an episode of Star Trek: TNG as it does from Artaud.

AF: What do you credit to be your muse?

F: My bandmates.

G: Posterity.

V: My shitty life/Being a woman.

B: Dreaming.

AF: Blogs love labels, but how would you describe your music?

F: I don’t ever attest to reinventing the wheel. We all draw from different influences and I mostly consider our sound to be a blend of shoegaze/dream pop, 4AD, and early ’80s post-punk vibes. We generally err on the dreamier side but have no qualms with getting aggressive if the mood calls for it. At this point in the game, creating a new sound is out of the question, but our varied tastes and interests have led to some cross-pollination of genres that hopefully proves to be interesting amidst dozens of modern bands operating in a similar medium.

B: I’m still trying to get a little saxophone in there.

AF: Will you speak to the darker element of your style?

F: Operating in this medium is less of a conscious choice for me than it is a catharsis. Therapy in a sense – a method of expressing otherwise unpleasant thoughts and feelings to make something creative, rather than letting my shadow side consume me.

B: Darkness is way more interesting. And real.

AF: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

F: At this point, the idea of collaborating with someone famous is an overwhelming thought. Sorry for the cop out, but I can say that we’re looking forward to some collaborations from some of our peers, both original and in remix form. More on this as it develops!

B: Sorry Frank, but I’m going with Pee-Wee Herman.

AF: Will you tell me about your current LP you’re working on?

F: We spent the majority of 2014 hunkering down and working on the record. We recorded Silhouettes in piecemeal form over the course of the year, layering synths and guitars and drums as they fell into place. The record is currently in the can and is being mixed as we speak by the uber-talented Xavier Paradis, and will hopefully see release this fall via aufnahme + wiedergabe.

AF: How does it differentiate from previous work?

F: The new record is incredibly diverse – there are ambient segues, the occasional industrial/hip-hop hybrids, and plenty of other eclectic sounds to go around. There are more complex rhythms that are the result of Vanessa and Barrett’s superior drum programming talents, for starters. We also took turns writing lyrics this time around, with Barrett, Vanessa, and I all contributing. It’s truly The Harrow as it’s meant to be – a band hitting their stride as a full working unit with equal love and collaboration driving us.

AF: Can we expect any live shows for you in the future?

B: While we enjoy playing live from time to time, it isn’t the primary focus of the band. We are at points in our lives where making the music is more important and rewarding in and of itself than performing it on stage. Our goal with the band leans much more toward the creative side. When we do play though, we want to make sure it is an event, and something to look forward to, not just the typical four random bands on a Tuesday night thing.

Watch The Harrow’s music video for “AXIS” below.

Future Islands Release 4AD Sessions, Add Tour Dates

Future Islands

Long regarded as one of Baltimore’s hardest working under-the-radar bands, Future Islands have hit their stride in 2014. They’ll be heading out on another tour in support of their breakout album on 4AD, Singles, and though they’re playing some of the biggest venues they’ve ever headlined, shows in L.A., Portland, Boston, NYC, and London sold out in record time. There’s good news though – Future Islands have scheduled additional dates in many of these cities, but act quick; tickets are likely to go fast.

Last week, Future Islands unveiled a series of performance videos produced in conjunction with 4AD. A string quartet and brass section fill in lovely renditions of “Doves” (see below), as well as “Sun In The Morning,” “Seasons (Waiting On You),” “Light House” and “A Song For Our Grandfathers.” The beautifully shot sessions were directed by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, the duo behind recent Nick Cave documentary “20,000 Days On Earth.”

Future Islands US Tour Dates:
Nov 20 – Los Angeles, CA at The Wiltern – SOLD OUT
Dec 1 – Columbus, OH at LC Pavilion – SOLD OUT
Dec 10 – Portland, OR at Crystal Ballroom – SOLD OUT
Jan 6 – Boston, MA at Royale*
Jan 7 – Boston, MA at Royale* – SOLD OUT
Jan 8 – New York, NY at Terminal 5*
Jan 9 – New York, NY at Terminal 5* – SOLD OUT
Jan 10 – Philadelphia, PA at Union Transfer* – SOLD OUT
Jan 11 – Philadelphia, PA at Union Transfer*
Feb 10 – Honolulu, Hawaii at The Republik
Feb 26 – Atlanta, GA at Variety Playhouse
March 30 – London, UK at Roundhouse
March 31 – London, UK at Roundhouse – SOLD OUT

*Operators and Wing Dam supporting

SHOW REVIEW: Twin Shadow

It was not without drama that I came into a ticket to Twin Shadow’s second of two sold-out NYC performances.  I’d planned to skip both sets since tickets were $22 and one of them was at Webster Hall, which I kind of hate.  But a friend of mine who’d gotten tickets in advance had just turned thirty, thrown a temper tantrum, and bailed, so I found myself at Music Hall of Williamsburg.  I’d seen Twin Shadow play a CMJ show at Le Bain in October 2011, with the twinkling ribbon of the West Side Highway unspooling across giant glass windows behind the band.  I’d ruined a suede skirt by spilling wax on it in attempt to light a joint in the bathroom; I’d also embarrassed myself during the dance party afterward when I toppled sideways in uneven heels at the very moment I’d finally caught the eye of the tall, bearded dreamboat I’d been spying all evening.  As it turns out, he had a girlfriend anyway.

But I’ve come a long way in the last year, and so has George Lewis Jr., the man behind Twin Shadow.   He has released two albums to tons of critical acclaim (including Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music for this year’s Confess on 4AD), survived a motorcycle accident to have an epiphany that majorly influenced the songwriting and recording of his sophomore album, and headlined a two month tour across the United States and Canada.  The MHoW show was the second-to-last stop on that tour, and the fact that Lewis is a bit fatigued from it all was likely a factor in his somewhat bitter between-song banter.

Twin Shadow’s songs have been compared to just about every pop band from the eighties, and it isn’t hard to hear why.  2010’s stellar Forget, produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, was all airy synths, anthemic choruses, bouncy bass, and shimmering guitar riffs.  These parallels also grew out of Lewis’ personal style, in which leather jacket and pompadour were de rigueur.  With lyrics hopelessly meant for chanting (namely that moment in smash single “Slow” when Lewis croons “I don’t wanna believe / or be / in love”) it was pretty inevitable that Twin Shadow would blow up, and when Confess was released it was apparent that he’d stayed on that same trajectory and managed to amp up the nostalgia factor even further.

Honestly, Confess is almost too over-the-top for me.  In certain moments, like personal favorite “Beg For The Night”, it takes the form of giggle-inducing orchestra hits which are somehow still endearing.  But on album opener “Golden Light”, the backup vocals sound so much like the closing theme from Lost Boys that I can’t even see past it to enjoy the rest of the song, which is unfortunate since without that, it would actually be really lovely.  Slowly but surely, however, Confess has grown on me; it’s something in the transition of Lewis’ low, sultry moans into easy falsettos, the urgency and desperation on songs like lead single “Five Seconds”, the heartbroken but detached callousness of pretty much every lyric Lewis has ever penned.

That cockiness is something that Lewis may as well have trademarked at this point.  While his swagger is not unwarranted, it certainly permeates every aspect of his persona, from song to image to stage banter.  I had always assumed that it was a bit put on, but last night’s show may have convinced me otherwise once and for all.  When I saw him less than a year ago, he didn’t say much and mostly kept his eyes trained on the floor while he hunched over his guitar.  Friday’s performance was an entirely different thing – he wore his mohawk slicked back, jumped around on stage with his guitar swinging, and belted out his most raw lines with fierce bellicosity.

[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”]

Twin Shadow, image courtesy of BrooklynVegan

It started in a low-key manner, with a slow, stripped-down solo performance of “The One”.  A guitarist, keyboard player and drummer joined him on stage and they moved through a setlist featuring the four best tracks from Forget and all but three cuts from Confess.  While “Slow” was incredibly disappointing (he sang choruses out of turn, feedback screeched), “Castles In The Snow” had to be the show’s highlight; the live version was huskier and grinding in all the right ways, with basslines blaring and buzzing.  But even in the more rote performances, something intense was happening, at least to me, most notably during his performance of “Run My Heart”.  So much of Confess is seemingly infused with a summery mood; it was birthed in Los Angeles, where Lewis fled to escape brutal Brooklyn winters when he was writing and recording the album.  But its darker power comes from what happens when the sunshine fades, from that realization that summer is ending and that with that death, romanticism is doomed.  When Lewis sang “This isn’t love / I’m just a boy / you’re just a girl” it acted as a grim reminder to that harsh reality.

Between songs, Lewis rewarded Brooklyn with some backhanded compliments, then promised to move back and abandon his 3,000 square foot loft in Silver Lake (and its jacuzzi) if the crowd screamed loud enough for him.  So not only is he actually cocky, he also doesn’t seem to realize how a bragging about his success might sound to a bunch of folks who paid slightly inflated ticket prices just to dance at his feet.  He made this trespass up slightly by unleashing a bunch of gold and black balloons on the audience, but the kicker was closing out the show with a cover of “Under Pressure” dedicated to openers Niki & the Dove (who I’d missed).  The cover was rather epic and he proved his chops in performing it shockingly well, ensuring that it will be all anyone really remembers about this show.

[/fusion_builder_column][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”][jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”1222″]

All in all, Twin Shadow’s live shows are a tad sloppy compared side-by-side to the obsessively glossy production on his records, but Lewis, let’s remember, is relatively new at this.  He has toured extensively in the last few years, and if nothing else has come out of it, he’s certainly perfected his rock’n’roll idol swag.  Even if this moment doesn’t last much longer than it has, his penchant for making ultra-nostalgic records will ensure his place in the collective consciousness of everyone who came close enough to touch it.  And he’ll be sneering back at us, telling us all how hollow it really is with tears in his eyes.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]