INTERVIEW/EP REVIEW: The Adventures Of The Silver Spaceman


The thought of an adventuring spaceman evokes images of daring travels and wild adventures. But in Zach Ellis’s world, the distance of space is an opportunity for some serious reflection. You can see the whole world from space, and at the moment, the world doesn’t look that great. That gives an ominous tone to The Adventures Of The Silver Spaceman‘s latest release, Electric Earth. It opens with the title track, a song that quickly gains momentum with rapid-fire lyrics and snaking guitar lines that feel as though they’re pulling you down a dark, twisting hallway. Well- placed dissonance creates a visceral sense of unease. But, the dark vibes are balanced out with gentler moments like “Expulsion,” a soaring, hopeful track with brimming space and self-awareness. We spoke to Zach about the recording process, how Electric Earth was inspired by the current times and, of course, space.

AUDIOFEMME: I really love the production on this EP, especially when it comes to the vocals. Can you give us some insights into the recording process?

ZACH: Thanks so much! The recording process on this record was by far the simplest we’ve ever done. You can partially thank Amy Schumer for that. We booked an all day session at Studio G in Greenpoint with my engineer Andy Swerdlow, but the session got turned into a half day because apparently, she needed to do a last minute voice over session for her show. So we ended up cranking out the whole EP in the latter half of the day thinking maybe we’d book another half day to finish, but we ended up not needing it. It took about 6 hours. We did it live. It’s really the antithesis of my earlier work… I used to record everything myself and add layer upon layer and get super anal about editing to sound just right. This record is super raw.

I did a few vocal passes into a U47 with a little slap echo in the monitor and that was pretty much it. It was so awesome recording into that mic. Andy, our engineer, says it’s the best mic in the world.

Andrew Bailey, who plays in DIIV, was with us during the session and I asked him if he’d want to add to the madness at the end of “Breath of Fire” and he was super into it. He’s since joined the band.

I sense a dystopian vibe to the whole EP, but particularly the first song, “Electric Earth.” Can you tell me the message behind the song, and what inspired the lyrics?

So glad you’re paying attention. Yes, Electric Earth is kind of my personal mantra for navigating a dystopian world. Things are so crazy right now. We’ve literally got villains in towers with henchmen. Money is controlling everything and in the hands of complete sociopaths who are deciding what we eat and how we interact with each other. It’s hard to navigate and real easy to lose touch entirely.  It’s so easy to live in a bubble where the climate is controlled by corporate media and lose touch with the reality of what we as humans are meant to be experiencing. But, eventually, the bubble is going to pop. The music is about staying in touch with what’s important and real through it all… physically, emotionally and mentally remaining sharp and connected to mother nature. 

Your release show was also a benefit for Standing Rock. Do you have any thoughts about the situation over there?

So many thoughts and feelings. This nation has been so unkind to its indigenous peoples. And after sweeping them under the rug by pushing them to the far corners of the United States, we now want to destroy the little bit of land we left them by installing a pipeline to transport a completely unsustainable energy source from one place to another? For what? So the filthy rich oil barrens can die alone in their mansions leaving their children a big house in a broken world. We need to learn from indigenous people now more than ever. We need to live in harmony with each other and with the land. I want to do what I can through music. 

Your bio states that you’ve been compared to “Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Nick Cave, and a millennial Neil Young.” Do these artists reflect your musical influences? 

Steve Malkmus and the Jicks/Pavement are actually a relatively new trip for me, which a lot of people find hard to believe. Nick Cave as well. He scares me; I love it. Neil Young is a huge, huge influence. I learned a lot about how to use my voice through his songs and in my opinion he’s one of the most prolific, badass artists alive. As far as other influences, Fugazi sets me free [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”][and] Gang of Four, Television, Explosions in the Sky,  Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Tom Waits, Antony and the Johnsons and Joanna Newsom. 

I tend to listen to mostly friends music. They’re the real influence. Sir Kn8, Hila the Killa, Lost Boy, Sam Yield, Yairms, Pecas, Parnhash and Coe, Nic Lawless. There’s so many incredible artists just out there relentlessly making quality stuff outside of the mainstream. Listen to these artists!

If you could go to space, would you do it? Which planet would you choose?

Of course! Me and my dear friend Sir Kn8 are already planning a kickstarter campaign to record a record out there. Neptune would be cool because it isn’t made mostly out of ice!

Electric Earth was released on 12/2. Check out the EP below![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


the black black

Adjusted I by The Black Black is a fresh, edgy take on post-punk and garage rock. Guitar riffs snake and snarl over heavy bass, but the serious topics the EP explores are balanced out by dancey drums. Their three songs acknowledge the strangeness of existing and growing up in the modern age without being dragged down by it. The culmination of this sound is “Personal Pronoun,” the EP’s standout track.

“Thematically, it’s kind of a break-up song, a song about the replaceable nature of relationships,” the band’s singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jonathan, told us. “Sometimes, you’re replacing the relationship but not the person, and the people blur together.”

Adjusted I is out now. Read the rest of our interview with Jonathan and check out “Personal Pronoun” below.

AudioFemme: Let’s start with your band name. What inspired The Black Black?

Jonathan: It’s actually a name I thought of before I had the band. There were all these bands that used “black” as the first word of their name, and it was kind of a reaction to that. Like The Black Keys, or The Black Eyed Peas, or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or The Black Eyes. I felt like it was used to make a band sound tough. So I was just like, “Oh, we’re the Black Black.”

It turned out to be a really bad name. It was a bad idea because there’s no words in it- there’s just “the” and “black” and “the” doesn’t count. In an internet age, you can’t search for it at all. I wouldn’t use it again. (laughs)

It definitely wasn’t hard to find you on Facebook, if that helps.

It’s better now, but for the first two years, it was impossible.

So, Adjusted I is a t-shirt!

Our EP is a t-shirt. I love saying that: Our record is a t-shirt.

How did that idea come about?

Our last record came out in 2014 and was on vinyl, and it just… it takes a lot of time to get vinyl. Pressing plants get backed up and it’s very expensive.  I have no interest in CD’s because I feel like CD’s are garbage- and often times you’re at shows and kids are like, “Oh I want to get something… but I don’t have a record player.” Well, I don’t want to sell them this record that they’re never going to play. That just wore on me awhile and we had the idea, we can put the record out sooner if we don’t do vinyl. It’s cheaper, it’s quicker, and everybody wears t-shirts. You’d buy a t-shirt for that price anyway, and you get a record too.

My favorite song was “Personal Pronoun.” Can you expound on its theme?

That’s actually my favorite song too…  Sonically, that song got the idea of what I wanted this band to sound like closer than any other song we’ve ever had. Thematically, it’s kind of a break-up song, a song about the replaceable nature of relationships. As you’re getting older, and had various numbers of different relationships, sometimes, you’re replacing the relationship but not the person, and the people blur together. And the whole thing can blur together as you get older. It’s not just one or two, it’s three or four. Or more.

Is your song “Territorial Trappings” a Nirvana reference?

It is a Nirvana reference; it’s a reference to “Territorial Pissings.” I guess the primary reason for that was there’s a line it that’s “You gotta figure it out, you found a better way.”  That’s a reference to the lyric  “Gotta find a way, gotta find a better way.” And thematically, the title just works for it. It’s about getting trapped by your surroundings.

Now Adjusted I is out, do you have any upcoming plans or projects?

We actually recorded two EPs at the same time, so there’s another that’s already finished called Adjusted II. That’s a sequel to this one, kind of. It’ll have similar themes and artwork.

INTERVIEW + LIVE REVIEW: White Mystery Plays Market Hotel

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Taken from the press photos page
Taken from the press photos page

Seeing a show at the Market Hotel can feel like gaining access to a secret club. Though obviously, anyone can go, you’ll pass a few confused first-timers milling around Mr. Kiwi before they spot the side entrance on Myrtle. If the show is sold out, you have to wait on a narrow staircase as the bouncer waves patrons in a few at a time, controlling the flow of the crowd. But once you make it inside, you’re privy to a unique view of the JMZ, the tracks of which wrap around the venue’s walls of windows, silently racing past the bands.

It feels like a different world. That’s why it was the perfect place for last Thursday’s show, which featured three garage rock bands with a very vintage lean: Shannon And The Clams headlining, Big Huge opening, and in the middle, White Mystery.

A brother and sister duo from Chicago named after an Airheads flavor, White Mystery are Alex White on guitar and vocals and Francis Scott Key White on drums. Their seamless live performance is due to their bond as siblings as well as their rigorous tour schedule, which they’ve documented extensively on the band’s website in a dizzying, endless list.

Alex has a voice that is high and piercing, seemingly from another dimension: a shocking ray of pure sound that defies tone and pitch. She materializes riffs, chords, and licks from her Rickenbacker with an effortless air, incredible considering the power behind her playing. During “Sweet Relief,” she and Francis switched places, with Alex taking a seat at the kit to provide a bass drum beat to her brother’s turn at the mic during a fast-paced monologue. Rarely has a band been so determined to make sure that every single person in the audience was having the time of their lives. Looking around, it seemed like everyone was.

Before their show, Alex answered some questions via phone about touring, gear, and her role as Vice President of the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy. Read our conversation below: 

AudioFemme: When was the last time you played in Brooklyn?

Alex White: I think we counted that we’ve played Brooklyn almost 50 times in the last nine years. We’re from Chicago, so it’s kind of a blur, but I’m pretty sure the last time we played was at the Archeron.

You’ve definitely done a lot of touring.

For eight years, yeah. We’ve played almost a thousand shows.

In videos of your performances, I’m always surprised how full your songs feel considering there’s only two of you. As a duo, is it ever a challenge to fill space when playing live?

I would say the biggest struggle with being a two-piece is tackling the long drives when you’re on tour. That’s why for this one, we brought two people from Chicago with us to split up those drives. Filling up sound… being brother and sister, it’s natural to us. We have a musical dynamic where when Fran goes high, I go low, and vice versa. With good songwriting, you could be one person and make something sound really full. 

Is the Rickenbacker your main guitar?

Yeah, although this year, I played this 1971 Gibson SG for a couple of shows. The Rickenbacker I got when I was 15 years old, and I bought it brand new. It’s definitely an awesome instrument. Rickenbacker still makes everything here in the United States… they’re very fine instruments and I’m 31 now so I’ve had it for, like, 15 years. It might also have to do with that full sound you were talking about- on that guitar, you can really squeak out a lot of different sounds on it.

Do you use a  certain effects/pedal setup?

Yeah, actually, this year White Mystery released a guitar pedal called Fire Keeper. It’s a fuzz pedal I helped design with Daredevil pedals. That’s the only pedal I use. There’s a cool article in She Shreds about it.

I know you’ve previously listed a lot of classic rock influences like The Who, MC5, and T. Rex. Are there any particular artists you’re really into right now?

Yeah, I’ve been listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival quite a bit… kind of on repeat, you know? Where you find these songs that really work for you, like “Down On The Bayou” and “Fortunate Son.” I’ve also been listening to the Troggs a lot. They’re a 1960’s garage band and they were highly influential to bands like The Stooges. And now here we are in 2016 – way later – and they’re still such an influential band. 

You’re the Vice President of the Recording Academy‘s Chicago Chapter. What does that job involve?

I got elected into the position, for the second time. The Recording Academy is an organization that’s for music professionals; engineers, producers, full-time musicians can join, and it has a lot of benefits. There’s MusiCares, which is a charity part of the music academy for musicians who are in need; like their instruments were stolen, or their house burns down. Quite a lot of it too is that we lobby Congress for musicians’ rights… Just trying to make sure that the musicians are able to continue making a living, so it can be an actual career and not just a hobby. And a lot of that has to do with fair pay. [/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”][I] just try to be a good leader for that community. And for the Chicago chapter, that actually covers the whole Midwest, from Minnesota to Ohio, Michigan down to Missouri. We’re just trying to improve the quality of people’s lives, basically. That’s the goal.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

LIVE REVIEW: Girl Band @ Baby’s All Right


I’ve recommended Girl Band to a few people who were skeptical before they even listened – because of their name. I understand, because I felt that way too. According to an interview with the Quietus, that’s intentional, as they admitted “it’s a stupid name” they came up with to annoy someone at a bar. There are some other implications the name applies, whether those are intentional or not. like, is four dudes calling themselves Girl Band an attempt at self-deprecation, a compliment to the female sex, or a statement on how gender can define a band? But their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie washed all those thoughts away in a wave of noise, and it no longer bothered me.

The only things that worried me before their show last Thursday at Baby’s All Right were if their live show would be comparable to the amazing chaos of their album (especially after they had to cancel their previously scheduled Brooklyn shows due to health issues), and that I had decided that the sold-out crowd was going to be one giant mosh pit.

I was wrong; most people stood totally still, fixated on what was happening onstage. “Ooh, I think this is what they call a noise band,” someone behind me said a few songs into the set. And yeah, that’s a good place to start if you’re trying to describe Girl Band. They are definitely noisy, Alan Duggan’s guitar sounds like a machine, and some songs like a musical car crash. For most of the show Duggan and bassist Daniel Fox were just two bowed heads of messy hair, elbows moving mechanically, while singer Dara Kiely kept his head upwards, directing his tortured lyrics in the form of shouts and howls towards the ceiling above him. In the middle of it all, drummer Adam Faulkner looked oddly serene. Though they’re intense, there’s a sense of humor buried under their music. This is especially apparent in their cover of “Why They Hide My Bodies Under My Garage,” which is basically its own genre of scary dance music. The only lyrics are the title of the song, repeated endlessly over an increasingly frantic techno beat until they lose all meaning. 

Holding Hands With Jamie is based on a psychotic episode Kiely went through, which is bold enough as the subject matter of an album, but something else entirely when they sing about it in front of you. It’s almost shocking to see someone bare their feelings like he does, briefly embodying insanity without totally becoming consumed by it. For a weirdo like me, watching Kiely dance around the edge of the abyss, looking in, and then reporting back on what he found was one of the best performances I’ve even seen from a frontman. I just wonder how he does it night after night.

Read our review of Holding Hands With Jamie here.

VIDEO REVIEW: Marissa Nadler “Janie In Love”


Though the message comes in the form of a lush song, Marissa Nadler shows the dark side of love in the video she directed and animated for her song “Janie In Love.”

Nadler turns the concept of love into an unnatural force, one that breaks its target into pieces. “You’re a natural disaster,” she croons. “You touch and the earth will crumble/ You speak and hurricanes attack.” The black and white video includes stop-motion footage that is both beautiful and unnerving: a winged doll with its parts scattered across the ground, faces of sand and dirt that appear and dissolve, a snake-like creature made of clay that pulses and changes shape. We see clips of the singer walking in a desolate forest, but her face is mostly obscured by shadows, or blocked by her arms. Animated leaves fall and collect at the bottom of the screen, and the video ends with snow falling in the forest.  The love referenced in “Janie In Love” does not end with flowers blossoming or the sun shining, but cold and darkness, making her message clear: This love was doomed from the beginning.

Marissa Nadler’s Strangers is out now via Sacred Bones. Order the album here and listen to “Janie In Love” below.

Catch her on her North American tour, dates below:

July 8 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court ^* (tickets)

July 9 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge ^* (tickets)

July 10 – Omaha, NE – Reverb Lounge ^* (tickets)

July 11 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th St Entry ^* (tickets)

July 12 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle ^* (tickets)

July 13 – Detroit, MI – El Club ^* (tickets)

July 14 – Toronto, ON – Drake Hotel ^* (tickets)

July 15 – Montreal, QC – La Sala Rossa ^* (tickets)

July 16 – Hudson, NY – The Half Moon ^*

July 19 – Boston, MA – Great Scott ^* (tickets)

July 20 – Providence, RI – Aurora ^* (tickets)

July 21 – NYC – Bowery Ballroom ^* (tickets)

July 22 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s ^* (tickets)

July 24 – Washington, D.C. – DC9 ^* (tickets)

July 25 – Raleigh, NC – Cat’s Cradle Back Room

July 26 – Atlanta, GA – The EARL ^* (tickets)

July 27 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa ^* (tickets)

July 29 – Austin, TX – The Sidewinder ^* (tickets)

July 30 – Dallas, TX – DADA ^* (tickets)

August 1 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar ^* (tickets)

August 2 – San Diego, CA – Casbah ^* (tickets)

August 3 – Los Angeles, CA – Echo ^* (tickets)

August 4 – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel ^* (tickets)

August 5 – Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library ^* (tickets)

August 7 – Vancouver, BC – Cobalt ^* (tickets)

August 8 – Seattle, WA – Barbosa ^* (tickets)


EP REVIEW: Phosphene “Breaker”


phosphene is the experience of  seeing light when none has actually entered your eyes; it’s where the phrase “seeing stars” comes from, and common causes include rubbing your eyes or being hit in the head. It’s the perfect name for the indie shoegaze trio from Oakland, whose latest EP, Breaker, is the sonic equivalent of a light in the distance. Sometimes it’s a warm glow, like on “Hear Me Out,” or flickering, like on “Ride.”

On one of Phosphene‘s best tracks, “Rogue,” it’s like neon sign, steady and bright, with a surge before burning out completely. The lyrics will resonate with anyone who takes the subway, though they namedrop the Bay Area’s version of the MTA: “BART is rocking me to sleep/ It keeps reminding/ Me of the loves I can’t keep.”  There’s a nice current that runs through the five songs, all wrapped up in a dreamy haze, worth checking out when you need to light up your life a little bit. Check out Breaker by Phosphene, below:

NEWS ROUNDUP: Music Festivals, YACHT, & Other Music Closure


  • [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”][Insert Joke About YACHT’s PR Stunt Sinking Like The Titanic]

    Earlier this week, you may have seen some hasty news reports about YACHT taking to Facebook to ask fans not to watch a sex tape of the couple that was leaked by a third party. They received an outpouring of sympathy, and a few hours later, stated they would be selling the sex tape as a way to take control of the situation. Some of their celebrity friends had tweeted about it, but no parts of the video could be found online, and the website selling it appeared to have crashed. Then the truth came out: it was all a hoax. Last month, the band had pitched the terrible marketing ploy to the publication Jezebel. In an email, the band stated, “In the days leading up to the video’s release, we’re going to pretend we were hacked…then try to “get out in front of it” and sell the sex tape, fake a server crash, etc.” When the it became widely known that the whole thing was a way to hock a new music video, the sympathy they received quickly turned to outrage. Even their PR company distanced themselves from the band. Nice try, YACHT.

  • NYC Record Store ‘Other Music’ Is Closing

    The East Village record, which regularly hosted live performances, announced this week that it would be closing on 6/25. The store opened it 1995 and outlived the chain music store Tower Records. The label associated with the store, however, will continue. Check out a video of Frankie Cosmos playing at the store last week:

  • Music Festival Announcements

    Summer is almost here! Don’t miss out on some great music, in the great outdoors in New York and beyond. Here are some festivals that recently released their lineups:

    • Hopscotch Music Festival – From 9/8-9/10, Raleigh, N.C., will host such acts as Erykah Badu, Beach House, Andrew Bird, Television, Converge, Big Freedia, Kelela, Baroness, Twin Peaks, Beach Slang, Julien Baker, Lavender Country, and many, many more. One day tickets will go on sale this summer; three day passes are already available.

    • Destination Moon – Its website describes the event as “dedicated to providing an immersive artistic experience with the smallest possible ecological footprint.” The event takes place 6/17-6/19 in Wurtsboro, NY and attendees have the chance to see artists including Antibalas, Delicate Steve, Porches, Moon Hooch, Sam Evian, You Bred Raptors? and more TBA.

    • Roots Picnic – Rolling Stone describes The Roots as “the hardest working band in hip-hop,” and if you feeling like going slightly out of state you can catch them in action. They’ll be backing Usher and hosting Future, Leon Bridges, Kelhani, Lolawolf and more at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia on 6/4.

  • Speedy Ortiz Announce New EP & Single

    “Death Note” is the latest Speedy Ortiz single, from their upcoming EP Foiled Again (Out 6/3 via Carpark Records). The song is named after an anime series, and its plot revolves around a notebook that kills anyone who has their name written in it.  Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis notes: “The song is about writing through your depression as a way to get better, and how in that way a death note can be kind of love letter to yourself.” Check it out:[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

EP PREMIERE: Sam Greens “Rugs”



Premiering today on AudioFemme is Sam Greens’ new EP “Rugs.” In addition to composing his own experimental music, the Philadelphia artist has also worked as an engineer, and produced or mixed for variety of artists including Neef, Tunji Ige, GrandeMarshall, Rome Fortune and Spank Rock. His latest release, the EP “Rugs,” will be released May 13 via Rare MP3s and Grind Select.

My favorite kind of electronic music is the kind where you can’t immediately identify the human behind it. That’s why “Rugs” is so endearing; it sounds like a robot gained sentience but instead of overthrowing the human race, it decided to make some sick beats instead. 

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot of personality. Each track creates a distinct mood, from the celebratory “Soft Rugs” to the tough “SJMZ” (which features guest artist Jonah Baseball). Another local electronic artist, Moon Bounce, contributes soulful vocals on “Annuals,” while “Riding Shotgun” features a catchy refrain with a jazzy background. There’s an underlying, but not overwhelming quirkiness to the five songs. Production is more focused on creating the perfect atmosphere and letting choice elements stand out instead of throwing a million meaningless details into each track, and the result is as interesting as it is chill.

Grind Select focuses on interactive listening experiences, and this EP is no exception. Just follow this link, and you can create a digital drawing that pulses and changes color with the beat of “Soft Rugs.”

Listen to our exclusive stream of Rugs below, and pre-order it here.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Radiohead, Prince Tributes, & Grimes


  • Radiohead is Back!

    After erasing their social media presence, the band returned with their new single, “Burn The Witch.” Um, it’s awesome. The accompanying video looks like a cutesy stop-motion animation, until things take a darker turn (as the song’s title suggests). The animator states that it was inspired by the European refugee crisis. Radiohead has also announced tour dates, including Madison Square Garden, Primavera Sound Festival, Secret Solstice Festival, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival and Lollapalooza. Read our review of “Burn The Witch,” and check out the video below.

  • A Brief Roundup of Prince Tributes

    It’s been two weeks since Prince died, and plenty of tributes have been performed. Here are some highlights:

      • The touching tribute: One of Prince’s best songs is “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which opens with the line “It’s been seven hours and 13 days since you took your love away.” In honor of Prince, US radio stations coordinated to play the song at 5:07pm, 13 days and seven hours after his death. Stations all over participated in the event, initially started by the Minnesota public radio station The Current. Prince originally wrote the song in 1985 for The Family, who was signed to his Paisley Park label; on May 4th, they released a re-recorded version in memory of Prince under the band name fDeluxe.

        [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”]

        The ensemble tribute: both the cast of Hamilton and The Color Purple have paid their respects by covering “Purple Rain.”

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        The big name tribute: Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen both performed Prince covers after his death. The ex-Beatle performed “Let’s Go Crazy,” while The Boss played “Purple Rain.”

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      •  The bizarre tribute: Mac DeMarco released a video covering “It’s Gonna Be Lonely,” accompanied by some interesting characters.

    Grimes Makes A Spectacle On Late Night TV

    Grimes brought dancers, dizzying background graphics and musician Hana Pestle to The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. She performed “Flesh Without Blood” from her latest album Art Angels, and said in an Instagram post that it was her first time performing in a corset. Check it out: 


  • Bad News For Musicians

    If you’re not a rockstar, you probably don’t have to worry about this. For the rest of you, take note: a recent study revealed that musicians die 25 years younger than the rest of the population. Conducted by the Australian psychology professor Dianna Kenny, the study “examined the lives and deaths of 12,665 musicians and stars from all popular genres who died between 1950 and June 2014,” and found that musicians were more susceptible to suicide, homicide, and accidental deaths. You can read the report here.



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Photo by Olivia Jaffe

Just because a story doesn’t have a happy ending, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be told: that’s the main message I got from the music of harpist Cristina Black. As well as choosing a unique instrument, she offers a unique perspective as a storyteller. Her songs range from satirical on “Drunk Rich People,” where she pokes fun of those who have replaced real joy with wealth and booze, to tragic on “Alvarado,” where she uses a lullaby-like melody to piece together the story of a man murdered in her Los Angeles neighborhood.

Cristina took a break from music to answer some questions about her introduction to music, how she learned to incorporate the harp into modern songwriting, and her personal style. Check it out:

AudioFemme: The harp is such an amazing instrument, but not often used in today’s popular music. How did you start playing it? 

Cristina Black: It was my mother’s idea. I think she just wanted to be soothed and amused on a daily basis, so she put me on the harp at a pretty young age. I’ve gone in and out of playing it seriously since then. At times, it has been a bit of an albatross. I most recently picked it back up about three years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles, and it’s been propelling me forward and upward in this insane spiral. My mom was onto something, because this thing is cool. It is a healing medium… I didn’t realize that until relatively recently. Now, I am obsessed with it. We’re together every day, me and my harp. My friends get jealous.

AF: What about playing music, in general?

I started banging on the piano and begging for lessons at age four. That’s how it started. I studied classical piano, voice and harp up through high school. I also play baritone ukulele, which served as a cheaper, smaller stand-in for a magical instrument when I was separated from my harp. The ukulele made it possible for me to write songs because I could think about music on a much more basic level. Restriction can be inspiring… ask Jack White.

AF: What are your thoughts on fellow harpist Joanna Newsom? 

CB: I idolize Joanna– not just because she’s one of the greatest songwriters of our time, a virtuosic harpist, and superhuman vocalist, but because it really never occurred to me that I could, as a classical harpist, be a modern singer-songwriter. They don’t tell you that when you study classical harp. They’re just like, here’s the repertoire, practice it until you die. There is very little creativity involved, and you certainly don’t learn to sing and play at the same time. Joanna showed me it could be done in a cool way. I’m going to see her live next week by myself because I get so emotional at her shows, it’s too embarrassing for anyone to go with me.

AF: Your website states that you are often compared to Nico, Fiona Apple and Joni Mitchell. Are these your main influences? 

No, not really. I love those ladies, but I think people like to compare female artists to other female artists, like it’s a category. I get it, but my musical influences are much more diverse than just cool ladies. I am actually influenced by the moon, mostly. I’m a double Cancer, I can’t help it.

AF: Alex Chilton played on your debut album. How did he get involved in the recordings?

CB: Alex was a friend of a friend. I’d been seeing him around for years when I lived in New Orleans. So when I went to make my first record, The Ditty Sessions, I had this crazy idea that he could play bass because all the other bass players I knew were more jazz or funk oriented and he was obviously a master of the modern pop song. So my friend talked to him for me. He saw that one of the songs was called “Drunk Rich People.” He said, “Well, that’s a good title, anyway.” And then he showed up at the studio and played on the whole record. I was almost crippled by gratitude. His blessing was this beautiful shield for me. I felt protected from criticism because Alex liked my songs.

AF: You’ve already worked with well-known artists such as Father John Misty, but if you were to start your own all-star band, who would be on the roster?

CB: Lately I’ve been dreaming about writing songs for Lana Del Rey to sing with me playing harp. Richard Hawley producing. Please, Universe?

AF: Do you have any upcoming projects or shows you’d like to tell us about?

CB: I’ve been working with a young LA artist named Melusine. She has this angelic voice that makes all your hairs stand straight up, and she writes songs that sound amazing on harp. We’re going to record and perform together really soon.

AF: You’re also a fashion writer. How do you describe your personal sense of style? Are there any fashion trends that you feel strongly about?

CB: I’m like a crazy witch who wandered down the darkest, most expensive alley in Paris and got lost. Onstage and off, I’m the same. I’m always in ghostly gowns and high heels. I wear a shit-ton of black. Perma-red lips. Jewels out the ass. Label whore. That’s the real me.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

NEWS ROUNDUP: The Politicization of Music, RHCP, & Radiohead


  • Beyonce & the Politicization of Music

    Though Beyonce’s Lemonade contains unlimited potential for trivial gossip (Who is Becky?), the visual album is way deeper than that, as explained in The Rolling Stone here. Music has gotten a little more political lately, with artists canceling shows in anti-LGBTQ states or performing in support of political candidates (well, mostly Bernie Sanders), but when Beyonce weighs in, you know we’ve reached the peak of the politicization of music.

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  • Red Hot Chili Peppers Accused of Sexual Harassment

    Julie Farman, who worked at Epic Records in the 90’s, wrote a blog post detailing a “fucked up” experience she had during a meeting with members of the band. Farman wrote she was inspired to speak up after Amber Coffman broke her silence about Heathcliff Berru earlier this year, and blamed “the misogynistic culture of the music industry that kept [/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”][her] from speaking up in 1991.”

  • Watch White Lung’s Video For “Below”

    The band plays in a dark theater, their only audience a handful of Marilyn Monroe impersonators who are brought to tears by the performance. “Below” is from White Lung’s upcoming album Paradise, out on May 6.

  • Levitation Festival Is Cancelled

    Artists including Animal Collective, Courtney Barnett, Ty Segall, Ween and many more were scheduled to play the festival, which was cancelled due to dangerous weather in Texas.

  • A New Radiohead Album Might Be In The Works

    The band is promoting it in kind of a creepy way: sending fans in the UK leaflets that say “We know where you live” and referencing the early 2000’s song “Burn The Witch.” It’s the latest sign that a new album is coming, after they announced a world tour and registered the companies Dawn Chorus LLP and Dawnnchoruss Ltd. When it comes out, it’ll be the band’s first new album since 2011’s The King Of Limbs.

  • Blink-182 Are Back?

    The pop punk group replaced Tom Delonge with Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio and released the first song from their upcoming album. California will be out July 1st, but “Bored To Death” was just presented to the internet in the worst way possible: a lyric video. Seriously, why do bands use these things? Anyway, here it is:


NEWS ROUNDUP: If You’re Reading This, You’re Not At SXSW


  • If You’re Reading This, You’re Not At SXSW

    Right now, scouring Twitter for music news is a basically like opening up Instagram and seeing that all of your friends have thrown a party without you: everyone is having the time of their life in Austin, TX. There’s two more days left, but here’s a brief rundown of the highlights so far:

  • Old-school acts are still a big deal: Charles Bradley brought a serious dose of soul to the festival, Iggy Pop  played a 22 song set with his new band, and country legend Loretta Lynn  made an appearance.
  • The Obamas were thereMichelle stated that she won’t be running for president, and also about her “Let Girls Learn” initiative on a panel that included Missy Elliott, Diane Warren, Sophia Bush and Queen Latifah. The President focused on how technology relates to government matters in his keynote interview.
  • Vince Staples aired some grievances with Spotify: The streaming service has been criticized for how little it pays the musicians who host their music on the site. As Staples told the crowd during his performance, “Listen to your favorite album 2,000 times so everybody can get an album sale.”
  • A picture is worth 1,000 words: for photographic coverage of the festival, head to Paste Magazine, which has some great snapshots of artists from the first, second, and third day of the festival.

  • There Are Still Cool Things To Do In NYC

    ….& we recommend these shows this weekend:

  • Christopher Owens (of Girls) @ Union Pool – Tonight

  • Dr. Dog & Hop Along @ Terminal 5 – 3/19

  • Pile @ The Silent Barn – 3/20

  • Also, Glitterbust Shared A New Video

    The project is a collaboration between Kim Gordon and Alex Knost of Tomorrows Tulips. A few weeks ago they debuted “The Highline,” and now there’s a video to go along with the track:

NEWS ROUNDUP: New Tracks, New Kendrick, & SWSW


  • New Tracks By New York Artists 

    First up is “Your Best American Girl” by Brooklyn’s Mitski. The song is from Puberty 2, which will be released via Dead Oceans in June. It’s a sorrowful track about living up to expectations, full of soaring highs and the squeal of feedback amongst quieter moments.

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  • Monday was Leap Day, which is special day for Leaplings, the kids who were born on February 29th and finally get to celebrate their real birthday. Dan Arnes, the frontman of Leapling, is one of these people, and to take the “holiday” an extra step further, announced the band’s upcoming album Suspended Animation and debuted “Alabaster Snow.” Check it out below:

  • Parquet Courts are releasing their upcoming album Human Performance on April 8th. On Wednesday, they performed another new song, the cowboy-tinged punk “Berlin Got Blurry,” on Conan. Check out the official video below, which features the band exploring a foreign land.

  • Yeasayer are also releasing a new album (Amen & Goodbye, due out on April 1st) and shared a new track this week, “Silly Me.” I miss the “kind of folky in an apocalyptic” sound of their first album, but this song has a pretty good groove.

  • The Cost of SXSW

    Many bands view Austin’s SXSW festival as essential for gaining any notoriety in the music industry, but schlepping bandmates and gear to Texas can also be stressful and expensive. Is it worth it? You may have read some thinkpieces that may you want to hide your wallet, but you should read Ed Rodriguez’s take on the matter on The Talkhouse. Rodriguez, who plays in Deerhoof, argues that there’s a cheaper way to do the showcase, or any tour. Read his article here.

  • Kendrick Lamar Drops New Album

    After what appeared to be a Spotify mishap that gave away the track list, Untitled Unmastered was released as a follow-up of sorts to To Pimp A Butterfly. Buy it here.


EARLY REVIEW: Museyroom “Pearly Whites”

musey AudioFemme


Museyroom is named after a reference from Finnegans Wake, James Joyce’s last book that is widely regarded as having an experimental style meant to “recreate the experience of sleep and dreams.” According to the Brooklyn trio, it describes “a sort of alternate dimension the group would create with its musical output, sonically mirroring an unexplored, variable universe.” 

Like the plot of the book, the band’s upcoming album, Pearly Whites, is elusive but captivating. Their sound seems to exist in two worlds at once, due to the seamless mix of ancient and modern elements. Mournful organ, Victorian-esque keys and harp-like guitar plucking will give way to electronic drums or synth. Long, drawn out harmonies give the feeling that the band is holding on to the past as the floorboards tilt and they’re thrown into the present, while the oohs and aaahs on “Ranger” sound like a haunting by friendly ghosts. They tag themselves with the phrase “future nostalgia,” and rightfully so.

Jack Donovan’s voice has this pleasant, conversational quality to it, making even the gloomiest lyrics sound like they’re not so bad, from his lament about a “miserable routine” on “Ballad” or an experience of being “down on your knees, trying to breathe/ On wet tiles in the bath” on “Sleeper.” Pearly Whites has some ominous undertones, but they’re buried under a haze of soft guitars and gentle melodies; the album is pretty and calm on the surface, but for those who want more, there’s plenty to find if they dive to the bottom. 

Pearly Whites will be available on March 25 via Grind Select. Check out their video for “Ballad” below.

NEWS ROUNDUP: FKA Twigs, Kim Gordon, & Brian Eno


  • FKA Twigs Performs On Jimmy Fallon

    Watch the relentlessly unique FKA Twigs give a stunning performance of her song “Good To Love” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

  • Stream M. Ward’s More Rain

    The singer/songwriter’s easy, smoke-filled voice has an undeniable charm. More Rain features guests such as Neko Case, k.d. Lang, and Peter Buck. You can stream the album on NPR ahead of its March 4 release date, and check out the video for “Confession” below:

  • Brian Eno Announces New Album

    “Humankind seems to teeter between hubris and paranoia: the hubris of our ever-growing power contrasts with the paranoia that we’re permanently and increasingly under threat… Somebody, something is going to take it all from us: that is the dread of the wealthy.” That’s a quote from Brian Eno explaining his upcoming album The Ship, which will be available via Warp on April 29. In the meantime, check out a song from his last release, Lux:

  • Kim Gordon Forms Glitterburst 

    The former Sonic Youth bassist has started a new project with Alex Knost, the guitarist from Tomorrows Tulips; it’s called Glitterburst, and their first album comes out on March 4. Check out their song “The Highline,” a spacey, droning track that morphs into the controlled chaos which is slightly reminiscent of Gordon’s former band.

  • Robert Pollard Shares “I Can Illustrate”

    This was a great week for new releases; among the artists sharing new music or announcing new albums is Robert Pollard, known for his solo work and his Guided By Voices project. “I Can Illustrate” is from his upcoming album Of Course You Are, and it’s an incredibly catchy track from the offbeat, prolific songwriter. The album will be available in full on March 4.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Car Seat Headrest “Vincent”


The video description for Car Seat Headrest‘s “Vincent” is simply: “Will plays the guitar while a guy has a bad time.” That’s about as concise as anyone could get, but the song is layered with a lot more meaning, imagery and emotion. It looks like Will Toledo, the creator and frontman of Car Seat Headrest, has given detailed explanations of the song’s lyrics online, but in the context of the official video, the words tell a story about how and why one drink can turn into way too many.

Scenes switch between a house party where Toledo performs and the apartment of “Vincent”‘s main character, a guy who looks like he’s been working in an office all day. It’s not clear if the party is something he’s trying to relive, or just in his own head. As the song begins with long, deliberate strums of distorted guitar, he pours himself a drink in his empty house. He looks sad when he’s sober, and Toledo repeats, “Half the time, I want to go home.” Then the booze kicks in, and so does the music: There’s the long, drawn-out static of guitar feedback, restless drums, and the sadly serious vocals of Toledo immersed in it all. Horns swirl around his voice when he chants, “It must be hard to speak in a foreign language/Intoxicado, intoxicado.” The band knows how to pull back and surge ahead at the right moments, and does so frequently, never settling until “Vincent” is over. It’s chaotic and messy, and embodies the video’s character as he loses restraint and gets completely wasted. At one point he unpacks a suitcase that’s filled only with liquor, a clear metaphor about replacing emotional baggage with booze.

Though the video is pretty dark, there are moments of subtle humor, like when the main character drunkenly cuddles a cat or when Toledo refers to playing a guitar as “holding a noise machine.” The video ends with the guy stripping down to his underwear and staggering to Toledo’s microphone as the crowd looks on, disgusted. If this last scene accompanied a different song, it might have comedic potential. But, instead of relieving the tension by making it a laughable moment, “Vincent” reaches for something that’s uncomfortable, but better.

Drink responsibly, kids.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, & Daytrotter Festival


  • Father John Misty Stars in Lana Del Rey’s “FREAK”

    In the 11-minute long video, the two go on a hike before dropping acid. The last few minutes are slow motion footage of people frolicking in a swimming pool, set to a gentle piano ballad. According to Father John Misty, the video was inspired by a time he took acid at a Taylor Swift concert. Uh, sure it is. Read our review here.

  • Inaugural Daytrotter Downs Fesitval Starts Next Week

    What is Daytrotter? They bring in fairly well-known artists for recording sessions featuring alternative or reworked versions of their songs, and sometimes brand-new material. And from February 18 to February 20, they’ll be hosting a music festival in Davenport, IA featuring artists such as Lizzo, Mothers, and Curtis Harding. Check out a Daytrotter session from the Alabama Shakes below:

  • Beyonce Drops New Video, Internet Explodes

    There’s not much left to say about Beyonce’s “Formation;” she released the song and video the night before the Superbowl, but didn’t stop there. After her halftime performance, she announced a 2016 tour and a new, upcoming album. Trying to buy some cheap tickets? Good luck.

  • Happy Valentine’s Day From Paul McCartney & … Skype?

    Nothing says “Rock & Roll” or “I Love You” quite like corporate sponsorship. Skype is introducing some new love-themed Mojis, and the company put Paul McCartney to work recording their sound effects. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for some desperate artist to do a MailChimp collaboration.

  • OK Go Release Video For “Upside Down & Inside Out”

    “Gravity’s just a habit that you’re really sure you can’t break:” OK Go is known for their off-the-wall music videos, and “Upside Down & Inside Out,” which was released yesterday, is no exception. It features the band literally bouncing off the walls in zero gravity along with some dancing flight attendants. While the song was included on the 2014 album Hungry Ghosts, it’s safe to assume to the delay was necessary to rehearse in that crazy setup.


ARTIST INTERVIEW: Behind The Scenes With Thundera


I met with Thundera on January 19 at Smash Studios in Midtown, where they practice weekly. I got there a few minutes late and could hear through the door that they were in the middle of a song. I awkwardly stood outside, debating whether I should wait for the song to be over. Even muffled through the door, they sounded great- hard, steady rock that gives a nod to punk without relying on the simplicity that is sometimes a cliche of the genre. Finally, I walked in.

Thundera formed in 2011, their first practice sessions starting that Spring. After a string of bad luck with bassists, they decided to stop looking for one about a year ago, and remain a trio: Rissa on vocals, Marianna on guitar, and Bruni on drums. Rissa and Marianna met at City College of New York, where Marianna is finishing her last semester, and Rissa just graduated. After some hesitation (“I get nervous about these things”), Marianna answered a flyer that Rissa put up. Marianna’s sister then found Bruni on craigslist. “She was looking for a used car, though,” Bruni jokes.

We could faintly hear the sounds of a cover band start practicing in the room next to us – it sounded like they were playing a bad version of “Roxanne.”

Bruni said that she had been looking for a band for awhile before meeting the rest of Thundera, but hadn’t had much luck. “Some Craigslist ads are really weird…  there was always some weird angle to it. Some people get really specific. Like – we really love Meg White or whatever. So you have to kind of look like her. And you have to play this way, the way she did in this concert. It’s not a costume party!”

Rissa’s flyer mentioned the bands she was hoping to find a common interest with potential bandmates: Joan Jett, The Clash, (Well, I like The Clash,” she clarified) Iggy Pop, and Bikini Kill. Though those groups are the band’s foundation, Marianna admits a love for grunge acts such as Soundgarden and Nirvana, and Bruni has eclectic tastes – except for thrash metal. After a brief discussion about whether early Metallica falls under that genre, she clarifies, “They’re still audible in their early stuff. I mean when people are singing like, rarghgargharhga.”


The way they chose their name fits the trio’s playful, laid-back vibe: they drew names out of a hat. Potential titles include The Swirls and The Electronics, but Thundera, which was Bruni’s suggestion, was chosen. Was it rigged? “Maybe,” Bruni laughs. “It was her hat,” Rissa adds.

The cover band next door began an attempt at Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

Rissa says they try to play two shows a month; they’ve played venues like the Paper Box, Bowery Electric, The Fifth Estate, and The Grand Victory. When I ask them what their favorite venue is, Bruni jokes, “Madison Square Garden. I like the way they treat me there,” before agreeing that it depended on the venue’s sound. “We’re really lucky, because we know a lot of female bands,” Bruni said. “We play a lot with the same bands, because we’re kind of all grouped together in the Riot Grrl/punk scene. Other shows that we book independently, we’re kind of the only girls.”

“It’s a nice little community to be a part of,” Rissa adds. But, being in a working band takes, well, work, Bruni says:  “People want to say that they’re dedicated to music, but because it’s something artistic they also wanna say they’re not tied down to it. But you have to be really serious about it if you want to get anything out of it. It’s like having another job.”

I asked Thundera about their recordings on Reverb Nation, and they collectively groan and describe the recording process as “a weird set-up.” At the end of 2015 they recorded 11 songs for their next album, were starting the mixing process the weekend after the interview. Hopefully, they said, it would be done by the summer.

For a good idea of the band’s sound, check out their performance of “Thundera:”



TRACK OF THE WEEK: Perhapsy “All My Soul Swallowed”


Perhapsy is the main musical project of Derek Barber, a musician from Oakland, CA who has also contributed to bands like Astronauts, etc., In Watermelon Sugar, Chyristian Rawk, Anna Ash and The Winston Jazz Routine. “All My Soul Swallowed” is the first single from Perhapsy’s upcoming sophomore album, Me Tie Dough-ty Walker.

The track is a serene look at the end of a one-sided relationship, starting out with a psychedelic swirl before settling into an easy beat. Guitars are heavily featured in the song, playing simple but rhythmically interesting parts under Barber’s soothing voice. His tone expresses sadness at a friendship’s end (“The ashes raining down on me and you”), but not surprise (“You needed someone to come to, and I knew it from the start/ Now that this friendship’s over, I’ll pretend to play the part”).

 Me Tie Dough-ty Walker is set for release on March 3rd. Check out “All My Soul Swallowed” below!

ALBUM REVIEW: Hinds “Leave Me Alone”


Any simplicity in the music of Hinds is made up for in sheer attitude. Except for “The Garden,” most of their music videos feature footage of the members goofily singing along to their songs. The Madrid band’s personality is just as easily translated on Leave Me Alone, a fun, loose, and effortless album of lo-fi garage rock that will make you really, really want Hinds to be your new best friend.

The band started with Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote, who share guitar and vocals. Cosials will layer her sugary voice over Perrote’s deeper, tougher tone, then the two will split apart into different ideas or sing the same a beat apart. It’s a style that comes close to the disorganized side of casual, which makes it all the more endearing. After writing songs under the name Deers, Cosials and Perrote added bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen, but were forced to change their name after another band threatened legal action. They’ve maintained a sense of humor about it, though: on their website, there’s an animated video game where you click your mouse to make a running deer jump over the band (hit a chili pepper, and you turn purple).


Their lyrics touch on the trickiness and frustration of dating with the same wry humor, warning about a girl who hides her flaws with “She always burns her warts… don’t let her waste your smile” and imploring a clueless crush to make a move on “Chili Town” because “I’ve been touching without hands/ Because you’re deaf and blind.” They provide a perfect balance between romance and independence, made clear through “I’ll make it simple, I don’t play no games/ I could be your baby, but I’ll be your man,” and on one of their best songs, “Bamboo:” “How could I show you without looking freaking mad/ That I am not always gonna be around/ And how could I show you without loosing all our time/ That I am not always gonna run behind.”   

Leave Me Alone comes out tomorrow, but is currently streaming on NPR. In anticipation of its release, the band played a karaoke show at Palisades on Wednesday, inviting fans to sing their songs for them. Maybe Hinds just want to be our friend, too?

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Wolkoff “New York Grand”


Captivating by design: That’s how Joan Wolkoff describes a lover in “New York Grand.” And just like she was, the song’s video pulls you in with images that, on the surface, are bold and pretty. But, you’ll realize they’re too perfect to be real when the backgrounds fracture and fall apart, and Wolkoff shifts and dissolves from one persona to the next as she sways. The music, including a gentle shower of synths and a heart beat-like bass, attempts to cover up the existential crisis she faces: “I fight for you, tear myself in two,” she whispers as she morphs, from blending in with beige wallpaper, to a bold, modern look, then covered in glitter and draped in a headscarf. Finally, all versions of her blur together as she becomes lost in the search for someone else’s ideal of beauty and perfection. 

Originally from Toronto, Wolkoff now resides in Brooklyn. “New York Grand” is the final video from Wolkoff’s Talismans EP, and was directed by her sister Zoe. Check out the video below:

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Frontwomen

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Courtney Barnett from Melbourne, Australia, performs during the NPR Music SXSW Showcase at Stubb's in Austin on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

2015 was a great year for women in music. Specifically, for women who front a band as both a singer and guitarist. While we’ve reached a point where it’s not totally necessary to point and shout every time we find an amazing band  led by a female musician (it’s becoming one of the best trends in music); it feels pretty good to remind everyone how much girls rocked this year. So, here’s a list of the best frontwomen who released albums in 2015, ranked alphabetically.

Alicia Bognanno (of Bully)

Feels Like (June 23, 205)

Bully released their debut album this summer, the tough-but-tender Feels Like. The Nashville band is led by vocalist/guitarist Alicia Bognanno, who previously studied audio engineering at Steve Albini’s studio. She’s just as great when it comes to recording her own music – Feels Like was recorded live in a few takes, and her brutal, raw vocals are the highlight of the record.

Courtney Barnett

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (March 20, 2015)

Courtney Barnett seemed to come out of nowhere with her song “Avant Gardener,” and then suddenly be everywhere. Though she comes across as a bit soft-spoken, she screamed and shredded through her Terminal 5 show this summer (while still mixing up the set with her quieter, more introspective songs like “Depreston“). The concert opened with Speedy Ortiz and Torres, two other groups on this list, making it one of the best lineups for women guitarists I’ve seen.

Ellen Kempner (aka Palehound)

Dry Food (August 14, 2015)

Ellen Kempner is a vocalist/guitarist (although she played everything but the drums on her debut album Dry Food) who performs under the moniker Palehound. As a songwriter, she’s nailed a self-aware approach that’s heavy on imagery. For an example of her guitar skills, check out “Molly,” a song where she layers playful, melodic parts with harsh interjections of distortion and makes them fit together naturally.

Frances Quinlan (of Hop Along)

Painted Shut (May 4, 2015)

Frances Quinlan of Hop Along has a voice that’s as tortured as it is mesmerizing, whether she’s singing about waiting on the table of an ex’s new girlfriend or her guilt from her inaction in a crucial moment. Reading about the stories that inspires her songs give them even more meaning and depth, though nothing expresses it more than her voice.

Katie Monks (of Dilly Dally)

Sore (October 9, 2015)

You could say that Katie Monks is Dilly Dally‘s vocalist, although her voice is more likely to be coming out in a scream or rasp. Her longtime friend Liz Ball shares guitar duties in the Toronto band, who released their debut album Sore in October. Check out “The Touch” to see just how far she’ll go to nail the right emotion for a song:

Mackenzie Scott (aka Torres)

Sprinter (May 5, 2015)

Mackenzie Scott sings and plays guitar under the alias Torres. Her Spring release, Sprinter, was impressive not just because of her voice, but her ability as a songwriter to channel and transcend emotions like quiet rage in a few minutes of sound. For proof, watch “Sprinter” below or one of the best songs on the album, “Strange Hellos.”

Marissa Paternoster (of Screaming Females)

Rose Mountain (February 24, 2015)

Yeah, we know: Players gonna play, but the Screaming Females weren’t fucking around when they covered Taylor Swift for the A.V. Club; they won the site’s award for best cover song this year with their version of “Shake It Off.” Unlike the original, there was no prancing around or mugging for the camera. Marissa Paternoster was all business with her deep voice and replaced the spoken-word bridge with a badass guitar solo that was way, way too short.

Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz)

Foil Deer (April 21, 2015)

On Foil Deer, Sadie Dupuis showed off her bravado and quick wit with lyrics like “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” Live, she ups the definition of boss to pulling off jagged, unexpected guitar lines in some of the best outfits (and coolest socks) you’ve ever seen. And, her band has been using their success for good, by going on a tour to support the Girls Rock Camp Foundation, and creating a hotline for concert-goers to report unsafe or discriminatory behavior.


No Cities To Love (January 20, 2015)

Sleater-Kinney is finally back, and as an added bonus, contains two frontwomen in one band. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker do equal singing and guitar playing.

Veronica Torres (of Pill)

Pill EP (March 17, 2015)

I saw Pill open for Parquet Courts last week, and they made quite an impression. Their sound is dry and sparse, with saxophone and guitar adding an occasional cool breeze. When Veronica Torres started their set by shouting “Por mi, por mi casa, y lo que quiero saber” over and over, the entire venue became silent.

Victoria Ruiz (of Downtown Boys)

Full Communism (May 4, 2015)

The Providence-based Downtown Boys are led by a pretty fierce lady, Victoria Ruiz. Their name is inspired by Springsteen lyrics, and on Full Communism they cover “Dancing In The Dark,” but that isn’t to keep things light: When she sings the line about starting a fire with a spark, their delivery sounds just as political and urgent as the rest of their work.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]



The main members of  Lithuania are involved in other, vastly different projects: Dominic Angelella plays in the psych-rock band DRGN KING, and Eric Slick plays drums with Dr. Dog. The pair have been friends since meeting at Philadelphia’ UArts, and though it took a decade of collaboration, they made a high-energy, raw album about their friendship, appropriately titled Hardcore Friends. After the record’s release in September, they went on a tour with Beach Slang that ended late November. After their set at The Knitting Factory last night, they shed some light on topics like when the next Lithuania album is coming out, what makes a hardcore friend, and what they think about Steely Dan. Read the interview and check out their album below.

AudioFemme: You guys played a new song tonight, “Holy Water?”

Eric: “Holy Water,” yeah. We’re doing a new record, hopefully in the Spring. We already have about eight, nine new songs. The whole tour we just did with Beach Slang, we’ve been rotating these songs. It’s super exciting. It took us a long time to get the Hardcore Friends project to complete itself and this one’s coming along a lot faster. We worked on it on and off for about ten years. 

AF: Whose hands are on the Hardcore Friends album art? Is that you two?

Eric: It’s ours, it’s Dominic and myself. It’s a fake blood handshake- that’s all corn syrup. We shot that cover in the winter of 2015. We were outside, doing the handshake, and it was… gross. Corn syrup all over your hands is gross, especially when it’s freezing. It wasn’t as glamorous as the shot looks.

AF: Since you and Dominic have been friends and collaborators for so long, what’s your definition of a good friend, or a hardcore friend?

Eric: The title is kind of a pun, because we grew up going to hardcore shows together. We had been through everything two friends could go through in the course of our friendship, and so when it came time to title the record we thought it would be appropriate to not only name the thing Hardcore Friends but to also have a song about the trials and tribulations of our friendship. So yeah, a hardcore friend is someone who’s loyal, somebody who will be there for you until you die.

AF: How was your tour with Beach Slang?

Eric: It was amazing. They were so gracious to take us out. We had an amazing time. Nothing bad happened, except that our heater broke in our van, so we were freezing cold from Michigan all the way to Boston.

Dominic: I had a moment with their record, because I hadn’t listened to it before we went on tour with them, because it wasn’t out yet. And when we got back and did Thanksgiving and put it on I was like, “Holy shit.” Because live, they’re so great, they’re so powerful, but the record is a totally different thing.

AF: And you said the next Lithuania record is coming out in the Spring, right?

Eric: We’re going to start demoing on Monday, and then probably record sometime in the Spring, and then hopefully it’ll come out in 2017. That’s my guess, or the end of 2016. I’m just gonna say it, and put it into existence, so that we get it done. And not wait another ten years before something happens.

AF: Will Ricardo (Lithuania’s touring drummer) be playing on that record?

Eric: Oh yeah. We’re going to fully integrate him. Hardcore Friends is only Dominic and myself, with some added guests here and there. We’re gaining more confidence with Ricardo on drums, and we’re excited to explore that realm. He’s so talented, and generous, musically.

AF: As a drummer, do you give him a lot of direction? Or do you let him do his own thing?

Eric: The whole thing with Ricardo in this band is for me to relinquish my control, and my more obsessive drum tendencies. I’m not going to direct him, I just want him to figure it out for himself. And so far, he’s been intuitive and I love what he does.

AF: Which do you prefer, being behind the drumset or fronting a band?

Eric: Apples and oranges. They’re so different. One offers a direct line of communication with the audience, and one’s a little bit abstract… being back there is kind of weird, sitting down and playing a bunch of weird circles. It’s a pretty abstract concept. But being upfront, you can make eye contact with people, and connect, and it’s just a totally different experience. Not better or worse. Both are great.

AF: You two met at UArts; did you study jazz guitar there?

Dominic: I did, yeah. It’s weird how much I still think about it when I play, even in this band. The stuff you learn sticks around. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Eric: Yeah, I was improvising last night, and it brought me right back to when I used to do it all the time. Or even when I’m playing with Dr. Dog, it comes out.

Dominic: Whenever I see you play with them, I just think about Steely Dan, because you’re just playing sick, seventies Steely Dan stuff. Everyone is doing their thing but you’re just doing this shuffle.

Eric: I do think about Steely Dan a lot, so that’s very astute. I think about Steely Dan way more than I should.

Dominic: As we all do. We’re working on a podcast about Steely Dan.

AF: Just about Steely Dan?

Eric: Yeah, Exclusively. “The Danvinci Code.”

AF: That’s amazing.

Dominic: That’s what we’re going to focus on next year.

AF: Speaking of Dr. Dog, it seems like in recent years- maybe after you toured with The Lumineers- you’ve been playing way bigger venues, like Madison Square Garden, and Terminal 5.

Eric: Yeah. We did Madison Square Garden over the summer, and we’re doing Terminal 5 in March. It’s something I still don’t know how to process. I have no idea how we did it. We’re about to tour, two weeks on, two weeks off for the next couple of months. This year we’re going to have a pretty crazy stage production and do new songs.

AF: Do you think you’d get restless if you weren’t involved in more than one project?

Dominic: I used to feel that way. I used to do three to five projects at once. And then recently, I’ve been really into focusing on one, as long as that thing is active. As soon as it isn’t active I need to do something else. It’s been cool, figuring out how to sustain yourself on only music. It’s a hustle, but it can be really rewarding. 

AF: I’ll wrap this up with one more question: What bands or records are you into right now?

Eric: There’s a band called Palm that I can’t get enough of, and Cass McCombs, we can’t get enough of. He’s where we both meet. Dominic and I completely agree on Cass McCombs. We should do a commercial.

Dominic: Like a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, where you’re the proggy Zappa guy and I’m the beer-rock dude. “We don’t agree on much, but what we do agree on is Cass McCombs.”

Eric: There’s so much music to listen to.

Dominic: There’s a quote, like “I would gladly give up my space in a band if there could only be 100 bands.” And occasionally I’m like, maybe I feel that way.. But I don’t really. I wouldn’t want to stop playing.





ALBUM REVIEW: Stove “Is Stupider”


Self deprecation abounds on Stove’s Is Stupider. It opens with “Stupider,” followed by “Stupid,” and later on, “Stupidest” and “Dumboy.” The record art labels Side A as “Side Stupid,” and Side B as “Side Beer.”

But for Steve Hartlett, who wrote all the songs and played all of the instruments on Is Stupider, stupid doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of knowledge, but maybe isolation, and a lack of identity; Hartlett created Stove after the dissolution of his former group, Ovlov. Stove is a combination of the words Steve and Ovlov. The struggle to find himself is a theme that runs throughout the album. It starts with the 20 second opener “Stupid,” which explains “Don’t  know who I am/ So I act like who I’m with.” He then addresses himself (or possibly a cat with the same name) on “Wet Food,” asking “Steve, where’d you go?” And “Dusty Tree” made the perfect Thanksgiving soundtrack, as it explores alienation from one’s own family: “Don’t you feel a bit insane planting your family tree? All the way the water never finds the seeds to grow.”   

Stove is lyrically introspective. Musically, the project is rough around the edges in the best way possible, with elements of grunge and post-punk. The music mopes a bit on songs like “Wet Food” and “Lowt-Ide Fins,” but bursts with energy on “Aged Hype” and “Dusty Tree.” Hartlett’s voice is earnest, if a little sad at times, and has a Guided By Voices-like ability to completely own moods and feelings for a few minutes at a time. Check out “Wet Food” below and you’ll see, he’s the smartest kind of stupid there is.