BAND OF THE MONTH: High Up Premieres “Alabama to the Basement”

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Photo by Andy Lachance

Ever been to a karaoke night and heard a voice rise up that actually sounded… really good? Christine Fink has one of those voices. She’d relegated her talents to karaoke nights in crowded Alabama bars – that is, until her sister Orenda, well-known for her work with Saddle Creek mainstay Azure Ray, dragged her into a bigger spotlight.

Christine moved to Omaha to form High Up with her sister, brother-in-law Todd Fink (also of The Faint), Josh Soto, and Matt Focht. This month, they released a self-titled four-song EP that blends classic Southern rock and soul, with a little punk vibe thrown in for good measure. Thematically, its songs capture longing and love in the tradition of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, but also critique the Capitalist machine with sassy bangers like “Two Weeks” and “Your System Failed You.”

Whether belting out a protest anthem or crooning an ode to a crush, High Up is a band that feels good to listen to, like slipping on a favorite jacket you haven’t worn in a while. Their debut album You Are Here, slated for release next month via Team Love, continues along the same lines, mixing up bluesy, heartfelt ballads and raucous shout-along refrains, like on album opener “Alabama to the Basement,” which we’re premiering below.

The song is a celebration of letting go and rocking out, with clear autobiograpical vibes regarding the band’s origin story. As a kid in middle school, there were certain songs I would set my radio to wake me up to; this song has that same rush, that energy you need to fight through another day, or push through a shitty situation on your way to something better. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that that tonally runs the gambit from high energy cheer to soulful sorrow.

We sat down with Christine to talk about loving your parents music, what it’s like writing with her sister, and when we can see High Up out on the road.

AF: You’re originally from Birmingham, Alabama correct? What did you grow up listening to as a kid?

CF: Yes, born in Birmingham, but spent varying years of my life in other towns – Ashville, Oneonta, and Muscle Shoals. My parents exposed me early on to stuff like Pink Floyd, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Hank Williams, Graham Parsons and the like. I was really into oldies as a kid – Frankie Valli, Beach Boys, etc. My first real exposure to soul I think was when I saw Smokey Robinson on Sesame Street in the late ’80s. I was never really the same after that. As I grew older, I developed a taste for punk and indie as well, and all those styles kinda melded to form my tastes as an adult.

AF: I always find it funny when people initially reject their parents music, only to come back to it later on with more perspective. Music can be so interesting when styles collide.

CF: Absolutely. I don’t remember really ever having disdain for what my parents listened to. They have great taste! Of course, they might remember differently!

AF: The story goes that your sister and band member, Orenda Fink, saw you perform karaoke in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. She was blown away and immediately thought you should start a band together. Was this a scary proposition?

CF: I jumped at the idea. It was really a big reason for me moving to Omaha to begin with – giving up the corporate grind and pursuing more creative endeavors. I’ve always had such great reverence for Orenda and her work, and wanted a chance to work with her creatively. The scariest part is probably the financial instability of playing music more or less full time. And rejection of course. But those fears come with the territory and the rewards outweigh the risks in my eyes.

AF: What were your go-to Karaoke songs?

CF: I love trying out all genres, so I pepper in a little bit of everything. My go-tos are usually midnight train to Georgia – Gladys knight and the pips, whole lotta love- Led Zeppelin, sometimes I’ll throw in some Radiohead or Dolly Parton for kicks.

AF: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting process for High Up? Is there a lot of back and forth between you and Orenda? Or does she take lead when it comes to composition?

CF: Orenda does the bulk of the songwriting, but I co-write and we have a few other co-writers. The whole band collaborates on the tunes to varying degrees. It’s very open and collaborative.

AF: I love the video for “Two Weeks.” It really nails the playfulness and soul of the band. What was the production process like?

CF: Thanks! We recorded the video over the course of two days I believe? Harrison Martin directed and filmed and we had so many friends help. It was a blast and very low stress. It’s important to have a good time and we wanted to reflect the good vibes of the group who gathered to help us. It was a relatively quick and easy process because of the professionalism and talent of everyone involved. The scariest part was probably me having to stand on the table without busting my ass!

AF: “Blue Moon” really hit me in the gut. Can you give me a little background on its genesis?

CF: It hits me too to be honest. I’ve struggled with mental illness most of my life, and the song is really a way to express an almost constant sinking feeling, of feeling like I’ve exasperated those I care most about. There’s a little glimmer of hope in there: “I can’t take it much longer… Or so I say.” Because I can, I hope we all can, and can learn compassion, patience and love for those in our lives who are struggling.

AF: It’s wonderful that you felt comfortable sharing that kind of emotion. I myself struggle with anxiety and depression. It can be comforting to hear someone else’s journey. Were the lyrics difficult for you to share with the band? Or was it more of an unburdening?

CF: I feel like not sharing that emotion would be disingenuous. It’s who I am and I’ve gotten such comfort from other musicians who have been brave enough to open themselves up. Orenda and Morgan Nagler of Whispertown actually wrote that song for me, culled from many tearful admissions on my part. They took what I was experiencing and their reactions to it and wrote the song. It was heartbreaking to read for the first time, but also very cathartic. I’m so very grateful for their talent and ability to fine tune my messy emotions.

AF: Many of the songs on the album take their subject matter loosely from the Bible, such as “Glorious Giving In.” How does spirituality (or your reaction to it) play into High Up’s themes and material?

CF: I can’t speak for other members of the band, but I don’t have any kind of religious belief system. I love religious iconography and many of the allegories associated with religion, but I don’t subscribe to the actual belief system. We use spirituality and references of such because they do speak to the human condition a lot, and I appreciate that. I’m more of a nihilist, with a heavy dose of the Golden Rule.

AF: Can we expect to see High Up on tour soon?

CF: Yes!! We have a nationwide tour in the works for the month of March in support of our first full length, You Are Here, which comes out February 23rd on Team Love

AF: What do you hope the audience takes away from a High Up show?

CF: Lots of merch! Just kidding… My goal is to entertain and connect. I want people to have fun, get mad with me, get sad with me, laugh and cry with me. We’re all pretty fucked up, right? And so many times we feel like we’re the only ones, but we’re not. It’s important to reach out to others and say hey, you’re not alone, we can get through this together. If you can dance and sing along through the anger and tears, so much the better.

Preorder High Up’s debut album You Are Here via Bandcamp, and be sure to check them out on tour this Spring.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

ALBUM REVIEW: The Harrow “Silhouettes”


When Audiofemme last spoke to The Harrow in February, they were working on an upcoming LP Silouhettes, which was mixed by Xavier Paradis, was released last week, and it’ll give you chills: the moody, atmospheric music creates a shadowy world for Vanessa Irena’s drawn-out, longing vocals. Intricate drum machine programming is provided by Irena, Barret Hiatt and Frank Deserto (Hiatt and Deserto also play synths, and Deserto contributes a steady undercurrent of bass as well), and Greg Fasolino plays haunting guitar parts.

The Brooklyn band cites artists like The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Massive Attack and Portishead. Like Deserto said in their Band Of The Month interview, “We generally err on the dreamier side.” In songs like “White Nile,” that means a gentle, chime-like melody, but on songs like the ominous “Darling,” it sounds a bit more like a nightmare. They take a break from the dreamy sound with “Feral Haze,” a bouncy, almost-playful track with a spoken-word chorus that insists “Animals, we’re animals.”

One of the album’s best tracks is “When The Pendulum Swings,” which contains the line that gives the LP its name: “Speak softly, I hear laughter/Step gently, I see silhouettes.” The bassline is heavy and driving yet melodic, and sparse flourishes of guitar lighten the track’s brooding mood just slightly. With this song, and the rest of Silhouettes, The Harrow shows us that darkness can be beautiful. And as Hiatt said in their interview, “Darkness is way more interesting. And real.”

You can check out “When The Pendulum Swings Below,” and purchase the album here.

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.





fenster Audiofemme

This month’s Band Of The Month is the Berlin quartet Fenster, whose new album we can’t quite get enough of. It comes out March 4th on Morr Music, and is garnering raves already. Be sure to catch these guys on one of their many tour stops (listed below) including a handful of SXSW shows. Here are our thoughts about the elusive German lo-fi group’s forthcoming album, The Pink Caves: International quartet Fensters sophomore collection, The Pink Cavescreates its own reality: self-contained, rich, surreal. Vocals and instrumentation feel entirely synched in their intent, and draw together a lush and layered aesthetic that’s as unspecifically visual as the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. That uniformity makes sense, considering the nuts and bolts of the way the album was put together: the group (Jonathan Jarzyna, JJ Weihl, Rémi Letournelle and Lucas Chantre) laid down the tracks on this album simultaneously, in an East Germany cabin with its wiring rigged to distribute different elements of the recording process over four rooms. So while the album retains all the polish of a studio recording—more polish than many studio recordings, actually—you do get the feeling of togetherness listening to The Pink Cavesas you might expect to find in an especially well-orchestrated live show. I wouldn’t call it spontaneity—on the contrary, every move the group makes in this album is palpably deliberate. However, the music maintains remarkable cohesion throughout. The Pink Caves‘ seamlessness makes it a little difficult to find a point of entry into the album. The world the group imagines is so self-sufficient, it’s hard to locate Fenster in any one era or style. The lyrics, while subtle, feel directed towards high philosophy, and a brief investigation will tell you that The Pink Caves seeks to grapple with an imaginary heaven that is at once both pointless and triumphant for the fact that it exists only in your mind. This idea weaves in and out of the music, but is often buried pretty deep: so closely do the instrumentals parallel this concept of spaciness and alienation that it’s often hard to grasp what the group’s aiming for. Without focus, the music becomes aimless and melts into a swirling, crushed-velvet panorama that’s mesmerizing, but leads to nowhere. The male-female call and response duets go a long way towards humanizing the album. In these sections, The Pink Caves takes on a sweetness that mellows out the stark, albeit beautiful, passages . Although I was too distracted by the gorgeously complex fabrications taking place in opening track “Better Days” and the suavely faraway vocals of “In The Walls” to crave more narrative, when the duet in “Mirrors” showed up, it occurred to me that having a more clearly delineated vocal line structure may be exactly what The Pink Caves is missing. There’s no danger of any listener mistaking Fenster’s musical landscape for ordinary, and there could never be, even if all of the album’s vocals were as accessible as they are on “Mirrors.” Using vocals as a foothold would strengthen the album’s philosophical bent, too: The Pink Caves’ message lies layers deep, like a shadow always turning around a corner before it’s fully in view. Though this contributes to the album’s dystopia, that aesthetic wouldn’t be lost if its foundation were more explicit. In fact, the experience of listening to the album would benefit from having a narrative guide through its dreamworld.  Listen to “Mirrors,” off The Pink Caves, below via Bandcamp: We had the opportunity to chat with Fenster regarding life, love, inspiration and music, of course. Here’s what they had to tell us: AF: Bones is such a different sounding album than The Pink Caves.  While the latter is difficult to assign to any genre, Bones seems to be more folk-pop influenced.  What inspired digressing towards the abstract?

 Bones was our first record, made in a state of pure naive bliss. We had never played a show before and it came from a world that was really all in our heads. I guess it was a record that really reflected that time, the influences we had gathered as individuals and the special chemistry between us and our producer. It was very much a winter record and very much a Berlin record for us. It was made in a basement and recorded with one old Russian ribbon microphone. We wanted to capture the simplicity and dark playfulness of morbid dreams, coupled with the sounds of the city and the sounds of objects we found that inspired us, like shovels and slamming doors. After that record came out and we started touring a lot, our world sort of exploded. Everything we thought we knew was kind of turned upside down, and we encountered so many extremes. We were exposed to so many new places and people and music and we just took it all in I guess, whether it was conscious or subconscious I think the world changed and shaped us both as people and as musicians. When we decided to take a break from touring and compose and record a new album, we found that the influences and instruments we had been inspired by simply changed and instead of trying to recapture that minimal innocence, we embraced this new world we felt emerging, following the different aesthetics we were drawn to, which were maybe more psychedelic and wobbly than before.
 AF: You have New York and Berlin listed as places the band members hail from.  What has been the most rewarding aspect of having those different perspectives?  Do you find your sound changing in relation to the geography you inhabit?
JJ is a born and raised New Yorker, Jonathan is half Polish and from Berlin, Rémi and Lucas are from France and our producer Tadklimp is Greek. I guess the music has benefited from not really belonging to one place although Berlin is a sort of Never Never land at the moment where a lot of different people from different places seem to collide, so Fenster definitely owes its existence to what Berlin is right now. It’s hard to tell if that has really shaped our sound but I guess it always adds some kind of dimension when different cultural references and backgrounds meet.
 AF: Your website is almost as dizzying as your music.  What is the story behind some of that imagery?  The bone-headed dinosaur, the man bent backwards, the religious icons…
The website was made by our friend and collaborator Florian Sänger who embodies a particular kind of understated genius that one rarely encounters. The inspiration for the imagery came out of long afternoons spent in junk shops trolling through crumbling children’s books, medical encyclopedias from the last century and religious propaganda pamphlets. We wanted the website to be an entrance into the world of the album which for us meant a creepy dream logic where Jesus is on street signs and men float through the air. After we handed over the piles of collected materials to Florian, along with some images from our own dreams, he basically channeled it all into that website. Word.
 AF: What contemporary bands are you most interested in collaborating or playing with?
 Ahhhh there is so much good music being made at the moment, but there are two artists that are particularly inspiring to us… Connan Mockasin and Sandro Perri.
 AF: Your music exists in a space that is difficult to label; because of that it is difficult to imagine your songwriting process.  How do you typically commence the creation of a song? Its kind of different every time…some ideas have been festering for years, some just appear out of the clear blue sky. But our process is that once we have collected enough little bits and pieces of ideas, we go somewhere and make little pre-recordings or sketches of each song with all of the arrangements mapped out. We write and re-write lyrics dozens of times, singing and reading them out loud to see if they stick. Its important for us not to judge the creation as its happening, that comes later in the recording process when things become more concrete.
 AF: I attempted researching what Fenster meant.  Aside from a last name it appears to refer to a tectonic window.  Also, maybe some sort of tape?  Where did you get the name? Yeah, Fenster means window in German. A window fell on JJ’s head when we were recording Bones, but other than that we just like that its kind of an empty word, an object you look through instead of at.
 AF: I read in Morr Music that you are fans of post-apocalyptic novels.  Any favorites?
The Drowned World by JG Ballard is a classic and as for post human novels, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
AF: Given the change from your first album to your sophomore, where do you see your direction going in the future?  Sonically speaking.
Sonically speaking, the next record will probably be completely different than the last two. We don’t like repeating ourselves, and at the same time we can’t force things…we like to sort of let them happen naturally and somehow be true to where we are in our lives at the time.
AF: What have you been listening to most recently?
Basically everything…Milton Nascimento’s 80s stuff, Fleetwood Mac (mostly Tusk), 70s Turkish disco, The Art of Noise, the new Japanther record, Caramel by Connan Mockasin, Impossible Spaces by Sandro Perri, sleazy french composer Francis Lai, Carol King!, Aphex Twin always, Kendrick Lamar, just discovered the album Trans by Neil Young, German krautrock legends Holger Czukaj and Irmin Schmidt…
AF: Do you find that what your listening to greatly effects your songwriting, or do you try to separate the two?
Everything that goes in has to come out somehow…The world and books and movies and music and stuff all play a part, but some things are more influential than others. Sometimes you hear, see or read something that unscrews something in your brain and you feel inspired instantly and other things leave you totally cold but maybe these things also contribute somehow. It’s mysterious and unpredictable and we like it like that.
 AF: The Pink Caves is an interesting album because at on instant it is romantic, another mournful, and then the song changes and you want to dance.  It also has so many digital and instrumental intricacies that it’d be a shame to miss them.  Given the dynamism of the record what environment would you say is the best way to listen to it?  Headphones?  Live?
Wherever you listen to it, definitely listen to it loud! Maybe because we watch so many movies it feels like some weird soundtrack to a film, so listening to it  while driving in a car or riding your bike or your horse around town could be cool. It’s definitely worth trying to listen to it as a whole album. That’s at least what we were going for because we personally really love records that take you on a trip.
 AF: You mention finding interest in graveyards, and religious iconography.  Surely being from Berlin and New York you must have some favorite cemeteries and cathedrals.  Care to share for your fans with the same taste for the macabre?
There is a truly crazy and macabre cathedral in Portugal made of bones and skulls and decorated with a golden skeleton called Capela de Ossos and a church outside of Prague in Kutna Hora that is decorated with intricate sculptures made of human skeletons that were apparently designed by mad and blind monks. Paris is always a fun place for graveyards and Vienna has more dead inhabitants than living ones.
 AF: Where does your fascination with the strange, morbid and mystical come from?
Its sort of engrained in everything…you just have to look for it. We like the autumn, its the time of year when everything dies. Dried flowers are just more beautiful, more timeless. We’ve always been really fascinated by cults, by movements of people that believe something so strongly they would die for it.  The mystical is actually just another way of looking at the ordinary. Some people see a mirror and find it endlessly fascinating and mysterious and some people just look at themselves.
AF: I was watching your music video for “Oh Canyon.”  It’s certainly proof of your sense of humor.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of Wes Anderson’s imagery, but what did you guys have in mind while making it?
 Our good pal and long time collaborator Bryn Chainey who has made three videos for us came up with the concept which was to make a sort of fake documentary about the “Amateur Cosmozoology Society” exploring questions like, “space, what is that?” and the history of animals being catapulted into the cosmos to try to figure out what’s out there. The found footage he incorporated of monkeys holding hands and cats freaking out in zero-gravity spaceships is absurd and fascinating. Science!
 AF: You’ve been consistently lauded for your ability to render songs both sweet and eerie.  Is there a band mate who contributes to one aspect of the sound more than the other?  Basically, who is the creepy one in the band?
Maybe the band has a mind of its own that’s greater than the sum of its parts…we’re all huge Cronenberg fans and we like sci-fi a lot. Keep it sexy, keep it spooky and keep it real in 2014. Peace and love.
AF: WE SURE AS HELL WILL!!  Thanks for speaking with us and congrats on being named AF’s band of the month. Much love to you, from NYC to Berlin.

The Pink Caves is out March 4th. Go here to read more on the band and listen to more of the new album! Below, watch the teaser for The Pink Caves.



NYC band Daytona has been a long time in the making. The trio released an EP—Storm So Long—back in 2012,but on the full-length debut that came out this past September, Daytona’s brand of bouncy, garage pop comes through in all its high-energy, jubilant glory.

A few years ago, bassist Jose Boyer, drummer Christopher Lauderdale and guitarist Hunter Simpson lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The three became friends, and occasionally played together, though they were all active in separate bands. Each of these groups—Harlem, the Wild Yaks, and Siberians—had already earned stripes as high-energy garage rock, churning out anthemic riffs and epic, overarching vocal melodies. Independently, the three musicians followed a similar credo: their music was loud, catchy, and chaotic. In combination, Daytona could easily have continued along the garage rock trajectory.

Not so. Moving to New York must’ve gotten the trio in touch with their philosophical side, or maybe the new lineup put the group in the mind for a little melancholy introspection. While Daytona has kept their straightforward structure and catchy beats, Storm So Long offered sharp lyrics laid over an intricate backdrop of guitar lines that meander from feel-good to nostalgic, and wistful, shimmering vocal harmonies. The melodies shift easily between moods, and at their most ethereal, live up to the carefree warmth of the band’s name.

“We were certain that it was the name of an Indian chief,” Simpson explained in an interview with‘s BTR Live Studio. The Florida city seems like an odd thing to name your East Coast rock band after, but for Daytona, the choice was half aesthetics, half process of elimination. A little research disproved the Indian chief theory. In fact, the beach that boasts the nickname “Spring Break Capital of the World” is named for its founder Mathias Day, Jr., who financed the area’s beginnings as a beach community in 1871. Day lost the land less than a decade later after encountering financial ruin, but his name lives on. “We liked that disconnect,” Simpson added, “between your expectations and the dorky reality of things.”

An initial listen to “The Road,” the first track off Daytona’s latest album, yields a powerful, joyous road trip vibe, brimming with danceable melodies. At its core, though, the music will last you past the party and into the dreary next day. The music is complex and elastic; it’s filtered through its surroundings. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes uplifting, Daytona’s self-titled album hits the spot.

Listen to “The Road”, and “Honey” here:



“You’re the love of my life and I hate you.”

If you’re wondering why Bushwick’s The Denzels sound so surfpop-y and West Coast garage-y, it’s because they’re originally formed in California. Their relocation to Brooklyn was a smart move for the indie rockers, who quickly got involved with the local DIY scene and self-released their debut EP, Slow Death, in 2011. Their sound has been Real Estate-esque from the start, serving up straightforward, upbeat pop melodies that you can’t help but tap your feet to.

Less than a year after their debut, the band signed to Brooklyn label Admirable Traits and released their sophomore EP, Easy Tiger. The five songs retained the effortless catchiness that the band had a clear aptitude for but fleshed out their sound and songwriting with tunes like “Rae Rae” and “Cure,” which captured a certain, sweet poignancy within their unabashed pop. The band’s last release, “222,” took a turn for a harder, unwieldy sound, with the guitar shredding instead of plucking along and lead singer Tommy Hinga donning a strident, angry tone—none of Easy Tiger’s “ooh”s or “aah”s in sight.

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Now, The Denzels are returning to form with their 7” single, “Blow,” set for release tomorrow, Dec. 3. The single sees the band reengaging with the surfy pop they do so well, but this time it’s a little more languid and confident. The two songs on the record take their time, both of them clocking in at over four minutes whereas the majority of the group’s previous work stays safely in the two to three minute mark. The second track, “Self Talk,” is a rose-tinted ditty that, much like all of The Denzels’ tracks, hides its somber lyrics. “We are not designed to find someone we like, we compromise,” sings Hinga.


With two EPs and two singles under their belt, The Denzels have honed their craft well. We’re patiently waiting for The Denzels to release a full-length album, but until then, you can listen to their new tracks here:

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