Dick Texas Processes Grief with Debut Single “Flies”

Photo Credit: Jamie Sanchez-Skriba

There is no one way to grieve. Losing someone you love is one of the hardest parts of moving through life, and it often alters the way we see the world and ourselves. Valerie Salerno’s new solo project, Dick Texas, was formed out of a need to process her own grief and find a cathartic way to deal with the deaths of two of her closest friends. “I think that grief is something that just sticks in you,” says the Grand Rapids-based artist. “The best way to deal with it is to just put it into music. It just completely listens to you.” 

In her first single as Dick Texas, Salerno uses dark synth tones and distorted recordings of her late friend telling a story to paint a portrait of her unique experience with grief. Before starting this project, Salerno played in Sojii, a noise-rock outfit that often prioritized a harsh sound over identifiable lyricism. She says that part of starting Dick Texas was fueled by her desire to be fully heard. “In a band, I kept hitting this wall where I couldn’t be heard musically and creatively,” says Salerno. “So, I was like, I’m gonna sit down and write all these songs by myself so I cant blame it on anyone else.” 

This was in the spring of 2019, right before the pandemic started. She had decided to quit Sojii and start experimenting with synths. Shortly after, two of her best friends passed away. “Flies” deals with the painful fallout surrounding this tragedy and the exceptionally poignant agony of grieving in near solitude. “Never realized how full I was when I could always find you out there,” Salerno sings, starting the song with a familiar echo of taking loved ones for granted while they’re still here. She explains that the first lyrics for the song were spurred when she and a few friends were clearing out their late friend’s room. 

“We were walking through [his] room, cleaning out his stuff and the air felt so palpable and thick and tangible,” Salerno says. That’s when she wrote down the song’s first lyric in her notes app: “The air in the room can’t hold its own head up.” It’s a perfect way to encapsulate grief – as if the air is absorbing the darkness around it and falling prey to the same sadness as the people who are breathing it in.

Salerno explains that although she sang in Sojii, a lot of it was screaming, and even that was often drowned out by other instruments or loud feedback. She says it’s been refreshing to have control over how her words are received. “Words and literature are my first love,” says Salerno. “I didn’t start playing music until I was ten but I was reading and writing before that so it’s really special to have that [voice] heard.” And while Salerno’s lyrics are poetic, she makes sure to communicate exactly what she’s feeling without fluff or euphemisms. “As a person, I hate small talk. It literally gives me panic attacks,” Salerno shares. “I don’t think I’m special in my loss and pain; I think everyone feels those things. People should feel better about being able to share them.” 

Although Salerno’s right about the universality of loss and grief, her ability to distill the complexities of these feelings into a three-minute song is something that doesn’t come around often. She honors her friends by preserving the humanity of their relationship – the fights, the drunken nights and the feeling of home that comes when you’re around true friends. “I wish we could argue again/In flesh and blood/With words that cut/Like we’ve done before/Got a lot of poison in my soul.” Salerno lets herself miss every part of the friends she lost, to the point where she realizes it’s consuming her. “I wanna do more than just miss you,” she sings in a voice that mirrors the monotone of emotional exhaustion. 

“Flies” is the culmination of Salerno’s grief, anger, sadness and resolve to heal. After a months-long bender of grieving with friends and loved ones, she turned to her music as an alternative coping mechanism. “I sat down and was like, okay, I’m not gonna drink anymore, I’m not gonna feel bad for myself. I’m just gonna start putting those feelings into music,” she remembers. “Flies” (and its intro, “Prelude to Flies”) are the first iteration of that healing process and a sobering reminder to love your friends while they’re still here. 

Follow Dick Texas on Instagram for ongoing updates.

The Stools Press Energy of In-Person Shows to 12″ Vinyl on Live at Outer Limits

Photo Credit: Noah Elliot Morrison

The last time I attended a Stools show was on February 14th, 2020 at Outer Limits Lounge. Somebody in the audience passed out after their first song and I left because it was stressing me out. People were freaking out, but turns out the guy just had low blood sugar or something – he was fine. That being said though, if you’re gonna pass out at a show, it’s probably gonna be at a Stools show. The Detroit-based garage rock revival band is known for their high-octane performances that feel like having a front row seat to a drag race. These invigorating shows are what drive people to see bands live in the first place, and are undoubtedly what fans have been missing the last fifteen months of shut downs. Luckily, The Stools – Will Lorenz, Charles Stahl and Krystian Quint –  have just released their first 12” Live At Outer Limits, which brilliantly captures their rapturous performance and is almost as good as the real thing. 

The album was recorded on December 28th, 2019, and released digitally in May 2020; the vinyl came out a few days ago and has already sold out on their Bandcamp, but you can still grab a copy via Big Neck Records. The band seems genuinely surprised by this success. “I am always surprised when I see so many orders come in, because I really don’t know what to expect,” says Lorenz. “Without playing shows all the time, it’s easy to forget that people outside of our little bubble exist and buy records too! I hope some of the success is due to the snapshot in time aspect of it, a little more than we originally intended though since you can’t see us play for now.” 

Lorenz says that the choice to press their live show wasn’t exactly scientific, but simply due to the fact that it was their longest release to date; the band has favored releasing their songs four or five at a time on small runs of 7″ EPs, including 2019’s When I Left (via Third Man Records), as well as Car Port (via Goodbye Boozy Records) and Feelin’ Fine (via Drunken Sailor Records), both from this year.

He also credits the band’s endearment to local punk bar Outer Limits as a driving force. “As a band we share a love for live albums as well as Outer Limits Lounge in general,” says Lorenz. “Everybody who works there is great and the sound is always perfect. We just waited until we had a chance to fully book our own show there [to record], but we had had the idea for a while.” 

For a band that started out as a manic idea between Lorenz and Stahl, the Stools have reached many milestones faster than some bands ever do. You could make any number of assumptions of why this is, but if I had to guess, it would be because of the band’s genuine chaotic energy. At a time when it felt like garage rock was giving way to shoegaze and “indie rock” (whatever that means), three young guys from Grosse Pointe, Michigan bonded over a shared love of the White Stripes and Black Flag. These influences (as well as youthful angst and energy) are palpable in the band’s live performance. 

The record encapsulates the punk microcosm that resides within Outer Limits Lounge. Nested on the outskirts of Hamtramck, MI – a tiny city that lies within Detroit City Limits – the bar literally and figuratively emits the “outcast” vibe that is historically associated with punk rock music. But, once inside, the humble digs serve as an oasis for “music nerds,” fringers, or pretty much everyone. It’s cool but not exclusive, messy but unthreatening. The Stools’ baby-faced frontmen encapsulate these dichotomies and their music serves as an allegorical safe space welcoming rejects of all kinds – or anybody who wants to scream along in their car. 

Follow The Stools on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

The Leave Me Alones Waver and Warble on New EP

leave me alones new ep
leave me alones new ep

“Do I make you more interesting?” asks The Leave Me Alones lead vocalist Hayley on the Oakland band’s new EP, Be Alone. 

This line, from opening track “Bad News,” is a testament to the strength of this EP’s lyrics, which pack their punch not with poeticism so much as the bracing directness that garage rock is known for. The Leave Me Alones have honed that sound over a collection of demos released in 2018 and another EP, Race to the Bottom, released in February of this year. Taken together, the band embraces the pithiness factor that attracts people to the genre; that nose-to-nose attitude that lounges between the rage of punk and the obliqueness of indie. That is, if you can make out the lyrics in the first place. 

The vocals on Be Alone are imprecise — they have a 90’s flair, each word sliding into the next. So rarely does any line end on a bite that sometimes choruses and verses tangle into each other like strands of windblown hair. This is quite apparent on track two, “Choices,” where Hayley sings lines like “How can you watch my back/if you wont take your eyes off yours” in an almost-warble. This doesn’t seem particularly accidental, per say — it’s more so that The Leave Me Alones clearly don’t have a lot of desire to slip into the more polished garage/indie rock that has become popular, especially in Europe (Catfish and the Bottlemen, early The 1975, the US’s White Reaper).

The vocals and the instrumentals can occasionally feel a bit disjointed, like band members separately rehearsing their contributions in the same space before coming together to see if it works; inevitably some of it does, and some of it doesn’t. But this roughness smooths down after a few listens, and the heart of the project comes out, especially on the jangly mid-tempo title track, where Hayley and fellow band members Marc (guitar), Damian (Bass), and Dasha (drums), let the vocal inflections support the emotion of the song rather than hiding it. 

“You’re way out of anything,” Hayley sings. “[That’s] exactly what I do too/I can’t be mad at you.” There it is, so simple: the EP is like a chastising letter to someone, but one where you constantly backtrack and doubt your own anger, because you know on some level that you were the one to turn the fan on before the shit flew at it. 

This rock with a dash of soul-lite treatment seems to be a good landing place for the Leave Me Alones. It can be heard in the next track as well, which wisely waits until the halfway point to unleash a killer fuzzy guitar riff and this lyric: “It’s my turn to fuck someone over.” A fun line indeed, but one that could have come across as a little posturing if they had used it through the whole song.

Still, I wonder what would come from the band if they fully leaned into the rage, or fully into the self-effacement. As it stands now, the EP gives of a sense of uncertainty. “Either way I wanna punish you,” Hayley sings on “Be Alone.” But it doesn’t sound like a promise.  

PREMIERE: Nikki & the Phantom Callers Share “Motor Run”

Photo credit: Jaysen Michael

Nikki & the Phantom Callers have a unique sound that blends alt country with indie rock and old-fashioned ’60s pop. The Atlanta quartet’s latest single, “Motor Run,” embodies this eclectic style; the band refers to it as a “sunny garage-pop anthem with Southern rock swagger.” In the upbeat, catchy track, lead singer and guitarist Nikki Speake’s expressive, rich voice describes the excitement of a long-distance relationship with lyrics like, “Don’t worry honey / I saved all my money / to meet you out on the road.”

Speake has played in a number of other bands, including garage-rock power trio Midnight Larks and the all-girl psych-rock outfit Shantih Shantih. Her current group is about to release its debut LP, Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me), on April 3. We talked to Speake about her new album and the musical, religious, and professional background that’s inspired her work.

AF: What inspired the song “Motor Run”?

NS: This is probably one of my only really light-hearted songs. It’s about a long distance relationship. That type of romance is never meant to last, but is a unique experience of talking and making plans to drive all night, and the thrill of seeing each other when the timing works out. You never get the chance to grow apart, as much as fade away, but you’re more focused on living in the moment.

AF: What else is your new album about?

NS: These are a collection of songs I’ve written over the past 20 years, so it’s not one concentrated theme as much as a journal of my life. I tend to write songs as free therapy, so it’s my way of working through whatever I’m feeling at the time, be it grief or heartbreak.

AF: What’s behind the title of the album?

NS: When I was a registered dietitian at Emory Hospital, I worked in the geriatric dementia and psychiatric ward, and it was a crash course in worst-case mental health issues for me. I would almost every day come back to my cubicle and cry as I wrote charts on my patients. Many days, though, they were so sweet and loving and just appreciated anyone taking the time to talk with them.

One day, when I was checking on the dementia patients, a lady called me over and motioned me to come in close, and she said, “You see all these people?,” pointing around the room, “Everybody’s goin’ to hell, but you and me.” It really floored me, and I never forgot it. I think I told her I was honored. I wrote a song about my time there, with the same title, and wanted to name the album that too. I feel like, in a strange way, it holds hope of solidarity in a world that seems to be falling apart, even more now than ever.

AF: Did your experience as a registered dietician influence your music in other ways?

NS: I am still a registered dietitian, but experienced three layoffs since 2012, my most recent being June of last year. On my last day of work, one of the kitchen staff told me, “This is the Universe’s way of telling you that you’re on the wrong path, so why aren’t you listening?” I really did take that to heart and know that my true love is music, even though I enjoy helping people.

I think being an RD, especially in the hospitals, helped with my music by keeping me grounded and in tune with the issues people have every day; so many are lonely and sick at the same time, and you are really their confidant during those times. It’s one thing to work solely in a creative field, and it’s wonderful, but I do think you can easily become out of touch.

In the end, though, I would often be too emotionally drained to write or play music when I was a clinical RD. I never got used to having patients die, or see their families grieve. That’s why my heart really goes out to all the doctors and healthcare workers, especially during this pandemic.

AF: You play a really unique style and mix of genres — how did you develop it?

I think a lot of it comes from growing up in a small town, before internet, and being curious about music and yearning to hear more than what’s on the radio. Going to Auburn University introduced me to people from all over the world, and their musical influences, and I fell in love with it all. I love country and I love rock and pop; I love it all!

My attention span is too short to pick one thing, but I try to combine it into something unified. That’s why I love playing with [guitarist] Aaron [Mason], [bassist] Anna [Kramer, who also plays in Shantih Shantih], and [drummer] Russell [Owens] so much. We have similar tastes, but different backgrounds, and they are so creative. I feel like the songs would just be shells without us all weaving in our own influences.

AF: How else has your upbringing in rural Alabama figured into your music?

NS: Growing up in a Southern Baptist family and going to church three days a week, that imagery has seeped so deeply into my subconscious; it’s part of me. A lot of it was pretty scary as a kid and lit up my imagination with questions — so much talk of blood, death, sacrificial lambs, eternal torture, and pain in fire and brimstone.

From the get-go, you’re told you’re a sinner and that this life isn’t as important as your afterlife. It was even more prominent in my grandparents’ generation, who were such a huge influence on my life. I remember finding an old photo album with photos of dead relatives at their funerals, but that was common practice back then. My grandmother even has old newspaper clippings of Hank Williams in his casket, so it was a cultural and generational thing. People just don’t do that any more, or want to be remembered that way. So, I guess growing up with this kind of worldview comes out in my songs, but more in a way that recognizes the poetry in the darkness of it all.

Follow Nikki & The Phantom Callers on Facebook for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: February Releases Showcase Motor City’s Diverse Sound

Still from Mega Powers’ “Virtual Boy” music video

If there’s anything 2019 has to offer so far, it’s a wealth of releases that followed in the new year. February was an especially prolific month for Detroit artists, following in the wake of January’s month-long hangover and a few spring-feeling days that turned into a polar vortex. Likely, these artists spent much of this winter hibernating in home studios, scheming their next moves. Ranging anywhere from Britney Stoney’s ephemeral R&B to angst-fueled post-punk from Paint Thinner, these releases crack the surface of the city’s diverse sonic landscape.

Britney Stoney – “Richy”

Britney Stoney’s evolution as a songwriter comes to a full blossom with “Richy.” Following her 2015 experimental indie-pop EP Native, she released ’80s inspired dance tracks”Grip” and “O.D.” “Richy” leans further into the electro-R&B sphere, with production by Jon Zott of Assemble Sound. Stoney’s smooth vocals are at the forefront of the track and deliver a simple message: “Love me before I go away.” Undulating synths and driving percussion echo the urgency of her voice. However, Stoney’s words are less a plea and more of a demand, reminding the lover in question that she’ll keep dancing no matter what the outcome.

Palaces – Palaces

Alt-disco quartet PalacesSean McGraw, Cat Cobra, Rachel Balanon, Dave Cliburne released a new self-titled record bursting with synth-powered indie pop that pulls from the past’s infinite toolbox without feeling contrived. The songs are tinged with perspective, nostalgia, and even a bit of sarcasm, yet remain worthy of any retro dance party.

Mega Powers ft. Jade Lathan – “Virtual Boy” Music Video

Detroit producers Eddie Logix and Pig Pen make up Mega Powers, a slow-burning electronic project built on collaboration and experimentation. The latest visual for their song “Virtual Boy” is a prime example, as it repurposes a short film called “Flamingo” by artist Michelle Tanguay and filmmaker Andrew Miller that Mega Powers had soundtracked. Even at half of the original film’s 8-minute run-time, the clip manages to tell a story all the same via soft projected images and psychedelic lighting.

Paint Thinner – The Sea of Pulp

Post-punk outfit Paint Thinner released their debut record, Sea of Pulp, via ŌBLĒK. Recorded with Bill Skibbe (Protomartyr, The Kills, Jack White), the album is as clean sounding as a garage-punk record can/should be while exuding elements outside of what you would expect. Yes, we hear tense guitar riffs and heavy distortion (in fact, there’s a song called “Distortion”), but scattered throughout the heavy musical catharsis, there are moments of psychedelia and complex lyricism. There’s even a moment on “Soft Features” when vocalist Colin Simon channels Jonathan Richman circa Modern Lovers.

Sammy Morykwas ft. noMad, King Milo & Khalil Heron – “Into The Skies”

Detroit producer/rapper/songwriter Sammy Morykwas released the second of a long line of collaborative tracks he plans to unveil in 2019. After years of working under monikers and as a ghost producer, Morykwas is ready to take the credit that has long been due for his old-school style R&B and hip-hop production. “Into The Skies” is a contemplative track that features three artists from the underground rap scene. Morykwas is heard singing in the hook, a new role for the producer. Whether he’s behind the scenes or front and center, Morykwas has a knack for creating addictive hooks and beats that stick.

PLAYING ATLANTA: The Howling Tongues Premiere New Single “Daily Dose”

When The Howling Tongues hit you, you know it. Atlanta’s brazen sons of rock ’n roll — Davey Rockett, Nick Magliochetti, Brandon Witcher, Thomas Wainright, and Tylor James — are best known for their signature garage rock-inspired records and over-the-top, bombastic performances, and made their name in the darkest, grimiest rock clubs around the country before taking the stage with Bon Jovi at State Farm Arena in May 2018. After spending most of the last decade wearing out the roads and leaving fans dazed and confused, the quintet is back and better than ever with a series of singles preceding their newest recording project.

Audiofemme caught up with lead guitarist and producer Nick Magliochetti and drummer Tylor James for the premiere of their newest single, “Daily Dose.” They’re gearing up their last show of the year, The Howling Tongues “It’s Not A Christmas Money Grab” Show at The Earl on December 20th. Read on and get ready to party with rock’s most devoted disciples.

AF: You’ve been together for over seven years, and friends even longer than that. What’s your secret to longevity?

NM: The fact that we were friends for so long before really set us up to be able to communicate more openly. We live together and do a lot of things together, when a lot of bands don’t go that far with their relationships. We’ve kinda just been rooted in that for so long, it’s become second nature.

AF: What’s been the biggest change within the group since you started? 

NM: I think the biggest change has been streaming and availability of music. The modern DIY scene had just kind of started when we were starting out as a band. We were selling a ton of CDs in the beginning. Now with Spotify and Apple Music and others, our big sellers are vinyl and other merch items. I think Spotify is a tool that artists can use nowadays to promote themselves.

TJ: And sometimes we can charge money to go play somewhere.

AF: How do you keep the creativity flowing and evolving? Do you ever feel musically stagnant, and if so, how do you get beyond it and keep creating? 

NM: We try not to put ourselves into a box when we’re in the studio, but more into a situation where a song can come out. Whether someone writes a part on an instrument that they’re not used to, or has a strange idea for a song lyric or title, that’s the stuff that’s inspiring. Having lots of options and infinite time is the real killer of creativity.

TJ: And you’ve just gotta keep listening. Everyone’s gonna get stagnant once in a while, but that can be limited by constantly seeking inspiration, whether it’s music or otherwise.

AF: “Daily Dose,” and your last single, “Fever Dream,” are a step away from the sound you trademarked in 2016 with Boo Hiss. What new sounds and techniques are inspiring you guys for these latest songs, and how important to you is it to maintain The Howling Tongues’ sound? 

NM: With Boo Hiss, we wanted to be more bold and daring and take some chances. We’re all about creating moments in songs and on stage, so this is really us taking that ideology and diving even further into it. We’re always trying to push ourselves and continue to make the kind of music we love. We are always pushing the studio to the limits, using different equipment and things that might be unique. Sometimes the stuff that’s broken or almost broken can be inspiring and create a really cool moment in the track. I think we did some of that with these latest singles.

TJ: I don’t know if I could cite one sound or technique specifically, but we try to never be afraid to just play around with shit in the studio until we stumble into something we enjoy playing and hearing back. The Howling Tongues’ sound is free to change as we change; we’re not Aerosmith. 

AF: How has the creative process changed for you guys? 

NM: Since we have our own studio, it’s good for us to put a little pressure on ourselves and create deadlines. If we don’t do that, then we sit on stuff for a long time, which is easy to do that because of infinite studio time. If you limit that, it forces you to make decisions and that usually leads to some pretty cool stuff happening.

AF: What’s been the proudest moment for you as a group over the last seven years? 

NM: Every time we release something new is a proud moment for all of us. That’s what gets us most excited. We want to keep making music that people can turn up really loud and get lost in it for a moment. That’s what gets us going.

AF: How has the Atlanta music scene impacted you as a band? What’s your favorite part of the music scene here? 

NM: The Atlanta scene has been amazing. We have seen so many bands come and go in seven years of being a part of the scene. Plus it’s so diverse in Atlanta. There are a lot of bands with their own unique sound, and that creates interesting shows here in Atlanta.

TJ: There are so many different and fun places to play, and some good promoters in the city that are willing to give a young band a shot.

AF: What inspired “Daily Dose?” What was the writing process like? 

NM: I wrote the main riff on a bass guitar and wouldn’t stop playing it until the rest of the band joined in. It developed into this really funny jam and it kind of has this Jekyll and Hyde thing going on with the verses and the choruses being one and the end being a faster different feel.

AF: What’s your goal, moving forward? You’ve already toured the country, opened for Bon Jovi, and released an EP and two full-length LPs. What’s next? 

NM: I think for us it’s always going to be to keep creating and pushing ourselves to be a face for rock ’n roll music. If we can inspire someone to pick up a guitar or drumsticks, then it’s all worth it for us.

TJ: I want to get a big corporate sponsorship, like Olive Garden or something.

Keep up with The Howling Tongues on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and if you’re in Atlanta be sure to stop by the Earl on 12/20.

PLAYING DETROIT: Fred Thomas Mourns Former Friendships With “Altar”

As the former leader of Saturday Looks Good To Me and bass player in His Name Is Alive, Fred Thomas might easily be considered Southeast Michigan’s godfather of indie rock. Ever prolific, his third solo record in four years, Aftering, is set to drop this Friday. Ahead of that comes a video for his single “Altar,” a visual representation of conflicting feelings – joy and isolation. Thomas says the song is a “remarkably personal” recount of a time where he felt ousted from a group of friends in a small town. The song’s cutting lyrics paired with the disorienting visual accurately capture the lonely state of not knowing where you belong.

“The song is about a situation where you feel ostracized by people that you know, people that you thought were your friends,” says Thomas. “Where things have switched from ‘everything’s cool, everybody’s my friend’ to ‘oh, everybody hates me.’” In the video, Thomas and his band – Anna Baghina (guitar), Erin Davis (bass), Stefan Krstovic (drums), Emily Roll (synths) – alternate between clean-cut euphoria and dirty catatonia. The scenes are meant to juxtapose that ecstatic time of belonging and community and the dull pain of estrangement. “Every attempt was made to hold on to that dislocated magic,” Thomas sings, acutely recalling what it’s like to hang on to the skeleton of a support system.

For anyone who has felt abandoned or burned by a friend (or multiple friends), this song hits close to home. Thomas’s penchant for conversational lyricism and poignant metaphor has the ability to draw out the deepest buried memories. “Those nights were spent/
Digesting the ashes of a dead friend/Putting barricades in place/Cultivating contradictions/Drinking whispers,” Thomas sings, listing all the necessary ingredients for a burned bridge.

But, however dark Thomas goes in his writing, he always intends to imbue his work with some levity, which the video makes obvious through the band’s outfits and awkward thrashing. “I want there to be humor and absurdity in everything I do,” he says.

Aftering comes out this Friday, September 14th via Polyvinyl. Check out his tour dates below.

09/16 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk (Indoor) + [SOLD OUT]
09/17 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs) +
09/19 – Detroit, MI @ Outer Limits Lounge
09/20 – Detroit, MI @ Third Man Records (In-Store) *
10/10 – Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR #
10/11 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl #
10/13 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle #
10/14 – Raleigh, NC @ Kings #
10/16 – Norfolk, VA @ Charlie’s American Cafe #
10/17 – Washington DC @ Songbyrd #
10/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle #
10/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right #
10/21 – Portsmouth, NH @ Book & Bar #
10/23 – Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola #
10/24 – Toronto, ON @ Baby G #
10/25 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig #
10/26 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle #
11/30 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza +
12/01 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios +
12/04 – Oakland, CA @ 1-2-3-4 Go! Records
12/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Hi Hat
+ w/ Owen
* w/ Kat Gardiner
# w/ Anna Burch & Common Holly

PLAYING DETROIT: This Summer’s Hottest Releases You Might’ve Missed

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Summer Like the Season released “Wakey” in July via PopMatters. Photo by Allen Zhang.

As we all know, it’s impossible to keep track of all the incredible music being released on a regular basis, even on a local scale. Instead of focusing on one particular release, I wanted to do a roundup of some seriously solid Detroit artists who released music in June & July. This list spans all genres and shows the deep complexity of Motown’s musical landscape.

Soviet Girls – Filled Up With Nothing EP

This local indie-rock outfit – comprised of Anna Baghina (vocals/guitar), Jonathan Franco (vocals/lead guitar), and Devin Poisson (drums) – released their first set of songs this July and it is a goddamn treat. Teetering somewhere between garage rock and the bright, smart songwriting of the ‘60s (think Beach Boys, early Jonathan Richman), Filled Up With Nothing is a collection of masterfully simple songs, encapsulating the emptiness that lost love, adulthood, and, well, just plain old life can bring, but somehow makes it sound…fun? Enjoy.

Nebr, The Tiger – “w&b”

Detroit hip-hop artist Nebr, the Tiger released an escapist anthem called “w&b,” which stands for “weed and brews.” Sure, it may not be the most cryptic song on the planet, but it’s obviously fuckwithable. Who couldn’t use some weird and a nice brew in THIS economy?

Saajtak – Hectic EP

Consistently impressive art rockers Saajtak offered up their Hectic EP, and it is nothing sort of a sonic masterpiece. Lead vocalist Alex Koi gives a transcendental performance with her ethereal vocals, bending between operatic and punk rock. The title track evokes the mood of its namesake and meditates on the tumult of undying, unhealthy love. “If You Ask” incorporates heavily syncopated beats a la the band’s drummer, Jonathan Taylor. The 7-minute opus is a gorgeous and haunting journey through a myriad of emotions.

Mango Lane – El Diablo

Superfunky indie new-wave group Mango Lane shared single “El Diablo,” a couplet of FTW tracks that will save any shitty day. Its A-Side is a catchy, meaning-fits-all song impossible not to sing along to. The B-Side, “Vacation,” has the same weightless beat with a more grounded theme – wanting to enjoy a vacation but being mentally plagued by responsibilities.

JMSN – “Talk Is Cheap”

Christian Berishaj, a.k.a. JMSN, is a rare and underappreciated jewel of Detroit’s R&B/funk scene. “Talk Is Cheap” is a clap back at all the bullshitters that waste our time – in work, love, friendship, whatever. Berishaj’s no-bullshit message could be easy to miss when delivered by his sweet-as-sugar falsetto, but sinks in deep to anyone who is truly listening.

Summer Like The Season – “Wakey”

Writer, drummer, producer, and all-around talent Summer Krinsky captures restlessness on “Wakey.” What started as a solo effort in 2014 has blossomed into a beautifully balanced quartet complete with Tasha Peace, Scott Murphy, and Sam Naples. The group makes what they coin as “indie art rock bizarro pop,” and I couldn’t describe it better myself. Treat your anxiety-ridden insomnia with “Wakey.”

Legume – Shrug LP

Shrug is a summery, light-hearted, and freaking cute record from local indie-outfit Legume. Channeling some vintage Fleet Foxes vibes, Liam McNitt joins forces with Arman Bonislawski, Paige Huguelet, and Alex Murphy to craft the windows-down sunshine record of choice.


PLAYING DETROIT: AM People Release ‘Songs for The Mourning’

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Photo by Madeline Toro

Detroit-based three-piece AM People released their debut LP Songs for the Mourning on June 15th, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to accompany the woozy heat daze of summer. The record is a seamless collection of apathetic punk songs, running into each other like strangers at a crowded bar and eventually landing on an unmade bed, room spinning.  

The band — Kyle Akey (drums), Niobe Marasigan (bass), and Ryan Gumbleton (guitar) — describe themselves as “punk goths who go to the beach,” and Songs clearly reflects that. Marasigan and Akey’s vocals are delivered sans any trace of emotion, seemingly detached from the words they carry. However, genius lies in simplicity when it comes to the songs’ lyricism. Instead of clouding their music with hidden metaphors or pretentious vocabulary, AM People just say what they really mean. What a concept.  

The subject matter ranges from unrequited love to budding friendships. The band injects “Friend Request” with playful, melodic guitar as Gumbleton and Akey exchange vocals like a musical game of catch. As simple a concept as making a new friend is, it seems novel in a world full of heads-down-screen-stares and constant paranoia. “Friend Request” makes human interaction cool again and recalls the warm fuzzy feelings that come with making a new friend. “I have been learning more about you,” sings Gumbleton. “What I have learned so far is pretty cool.”

“Back and Forth” epitomizes the many stages of unrequited love – infatuation, rejection, spite, acceptance. It also suggests that maybe, sometimes, what we mistake for love is just another attempt at filling the void. The lyrics, “I was searching for a meaning / I was holding on to a feeling,” suggest that love can be used as a distraction or temporary band-aid for whatever is lacking in our lives. Then, when it doesn’t work out, it’s back to the numb merry-go-round of self-discovery that often plagues the mind. The band mirrors this cycle musically, with a recurring guitar riff and hypnotizing vocal melody.

By intertwining monotone, self-aware statements with sunshine-y guitar riffs and ironically cliche couplets, AM People accomplish the approachably cool sound of their matter-of-fact indie brethren like Parquet Courts or fellow Detroit troupe, Deadbeat Beat. And like any good record, Songs for the Mourning lulls the listener into a trance, pulling us farther away from reality and making our daydreams as clear as water.


PLAYING DETROIT: Stef Chura Celebrates Record Store Day with Limited Edition 7″

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photo by Ashley Schulz

This Saturday, April 21st is Record Store Daya day that brings us back to a time when the only way you could hear your favorite artist’s new song was by purchasing it on seven inches of vinyl from your local record shop. That’s exactly how Detroit indie-rocker, Stef Chura, wants us to celebrate the annual homage to vinyl culture. Chura, who released her striking debut album Messes in 2017, is pressing a thousand copies of a new 7″ that includes two songs that didn’t make it onto the LP. Both of the songs – “Degrees” and “Sour Honey” – were produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest and show Chura’s range in emotion, voice, and musicianship.

“Degrees” is a weighty, haunting rumination on mortality that shifts between delicate verses and a blazing refrain. Chura says that the song was originally a plucky folk song, but Toledo had the idea to take it in a Janis Joplin “Ball and Chain” direction, adding gritty layers of guitar that conjure up the image of towering flames.

Falling on the opposite end of the spectrum sonically, “Sour Honey” is a stripped-down solo affair that features Chura’s flickering, elastic vocals accompanied by Toledo on piano. The bare, vulnerable sound is an appropriate match for the song’s subject matter – insecurity and hyper self-awareness.  “I wrote that song when I was working at a strip club in Detroit as a cocktail server,” says Chura. “It was about the visceral, super physical feeling of complete embarrassment and humiliation. I think I used to suffer from a lot of social anxiety and miscommunications, and it was just a very cat-fighty atmosphere.”

The 7″ is a Record Store Day exclusive, which means you’ll only be able to pick it up at your local record store. Chura will perform at Detroit’s Third Man Records in tandem with the release, followed by shows in Cincinnati and Bloomington. Listen to “Degrees” and see Stef Chura’s upcoming tour dates below.

Saturday, April 21st @ Third Man Records Cass Corridor – Detroit, MI
Wednesday, April 25th @ MOTR Pub – Cincinnati, OH
Thursday, April 26th @ The Bishop – Bloomington, IN


PLAYING DETROIT: Deadbeat Beat Release New Single “Bar Talk”

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photo by Eileen Lee

Detroit garage rockers Deadbeat Beat released their single “Bar Talk” this week, and it is a chillingly accurate portrayal of bar-scene anxiety. The band – made up of Zak Frieling, Alex Glendening, and Maria Nuccilli – stays true to its trademark lo-fi sound on the single, with thrashing drums and warbled guitar. Glendening’s blasé delivery recalls proto-punk pioneers like The Modern Lovers and early New York Dolls, mirroring the mundane nothing-talk that inevitably results from seeing the same people at the same bars night after night.

Glendening says he wrote “Bar Talk” at a time when he was frequenting the same bar and felt disillusioned by the social scene. “I was experiencing paranoia from being at the bar too much, and having many ‘acquaintances’ that I didn’t actually know,” says Glendening. “Some nights, no one would talk to me. Other nights, people would want to know all about me and pretend like we had been longtime friends. I’ve since learned that this is just what happens at bars, but at the time it was pretty stressful for me… Also, at that time I was trying out becoming comfortable with being gay while hanging around a bunch of straight people at punk shows.”

The singer’s aforementioned paranoia is made apparent throughout the song, lyrically and musically. “You talk slick, but you’re full of dirty tricks,” Glendening sings to nobody in particular, before the song slows to a distorted crawl. The cloudy stupor is lifted as the song ends, only to transform into the sonic version of the spins, as Glendening decides to close the night with one last drink.

While the song undoubtedly captures the unpleasant cocktail of social anxiety mixed with overconsumption, it also serves as a dizzying metaphor for those meandering through the clusterfuck known as “your twenties” and a comforting reminder that punk rock is not dead.

Deadbeat Beat will head out on a mini-tour starting April 5th with stops in Columbus, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Detroit. The Detroit show will be part of a John Waters Birthday Bash where DBB will open for one of their favorite bands, Hunx & His Punx. See the tour dates and listen to “Bar Talk” below.

4/05/18 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
4/06/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Pharmacy w/ don’t
4/07/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville w/ Bodega
4/08/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Glove w/ don’t
4/20/18 – Detroit, MI @ El Club w/ Hunx & His Punx[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

PLAYING DETROIT: Prude Boys Get Frisky in “Talking to Myself” Video

What do you get when you cross a water balloon fight and karaoke with one of Detroit’s most beloved dive bars? Well, you might get the latest video from garage rockers Prude Boys. The visual for their latest single “Talking to Myself” finds DIY babes Caroline Myrick, Quennton Thornbury and Connor Dodson delivering what they do best: curiously catchy, retro zombie rock whilst smoking in one of the most Instagram’d bathrooms in the 313, Hamtramck’s own Kelly’s Bar, of course.

Shot by the incomparable Noah Elliott Morrison, “Talking to Myself” encapsulates the typical midweek bar malaise of a tipsy Motor City. From an American Beauty Mena Suvari rose petal moment featuring a bearded, intoxicated patron to fence climbing, backyard wrestling and local karaoke superstars, Morrison’s visuals make a perfect marriage with  Prude Boys’ sound. It might be the shiny guitar licks or Myrick’s shimmering warble, but “Talking to Myself” delves into a fun kind of lonely. The track would feel just at home on the soundtrack for the film Clueless as it would on an episode of Netflix’s Millennial dating diary Love. Prude Boys channel montage pop with “Talking to Myself” – crafted masterfully to fit all shapes and sizes of crises.

Sing along, alone (of course) to the latest track from Prude Boys below:

PLAYING DETROIT: Blood Stone “Friends ‘Til the End”

Detroit’s DIY rock scene has developed a penchant for teenage nostalgia and candy-coated wickedness. Clumsy with playful misconduct, Blood Stone is the latest quartet to make lo-fi faux innocence their M.O. Their newest track, “Friends ‘Til The End” could be sweetly committed or in need of being committed as our sinister siren confesses she’ll “laugh so hard when the fire starts” while insisting that though they call her a witch she’s “not one of those.” Masked in fuzzy guitar and Strokes-esque percussion, Blood Stone hands over their proverbial red flags with an arsenic-laced cheek kiss, making “Friends ‘Til The End” seem just a touch too permanent.

B.F.F. is the new R.I.P. with Blood Stone’s latest below:

TRACK PREMIERE: Sad Baxter “Doubt”

When I was first introduced to the music of Sad Baxter, via 2016’s Weirdy, I realized they filled a void I didn’t even know existed: here was a band that was not afraid to go full grunge, and the payoff was great. Dirty guitars, heavy backbeats, and a Cobain-like growl mixed with a delightfully bizarre view of the world made the duo (Deezy on guitar and vocals, Alex on drums) instantly endearing.

Their newest song is “Doubt,” a split-single release on Cold Lunch Recordings with fellow Nashville band The By Gods. According to Deezy, the drums and guitar were tracked live in the same room to get a realistic sound. She also gave us the inside scoop on the track’s meaning:

“The song is about someone who catches your eye, but soon you realize they are nobody you would ever really consider spending more time with. But, for whatever reason, you find yourself still curious about them. You can’t quite figure them out, which is probably what keeps you around. It doesn’t feel healthy. You don’t even like them as a person. It’s not good, but you can’t help it.”

“Doubt” opens with the unsteady bend of a whammy bar, the wavering of the guitar reflecting Deezy’s misgivings as she gradually recognizes her mistake: “Your mouth on mine is something I should do without/And I don’t know who you are.” Just as the realization hits, the chorus brings an eruption of energy and emotion. It’s the song of the summer for those who pick the worst person to crush on, and you can hear it below.

The duo is also currently on tour- check out the full list of summer dates:

6/16 Bowling Green, KY – Tidball’s
6/17 Nashville, TN – Fond Object (4th Ave)
6/18 Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s 
6/19 Asheville, NC – Sly Grog
6/20 Atlanta, GA – Mammal Gallery
6/21 Chapel Hill, NC – The Cave
6/22 Richmond, VA – Canal Club
6/24 Philadelphia, PA – PHARMACY
6/25 Portland, ME – Oxbow Brewing
6/26 Boston, MA – Charlie’s Kitchen
6/27 NYC – Gold Sounds
6/28 Cleveland, OH – Maple Lanes
6/29 Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe
6/30 Cincinnati, OH – The Comet
7/01 Louisville, KY – Third Street Dive
7/17 Bloomington, IN – Blockhouse
7/18 Chicago, IL – Mutiny
7/19 St Louis, MO – The Sinkhole
7/20 Kansas City, KS – Bubba Spins Flop House
7/21 Denver, CO – Lion’s Lair
7/24 Seattle, WA – The Funhouse
7/25 Portland, OR – Ash Street
7/26 Oakland, CA – Stork Club
7/27 San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern
7/29 Los Angeles, CA – Silverlake Lounge
8/01 Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone
8/04 Nashville, TN – The East Room

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Monograms Discuss New ‘Silencer’ EP

Originally a solo project created by Brooklyn musician Ian Jacobs, Monograms is now a fully fledged band. Their latest release, Silencer, explores a grittier side of hook-filled pop music by distilling it with elements of lo-fi garage rock. There’s a sense of dreaminess that hangs over the entire EP, akin to looking through the haze of a smoky room. It gives Silencer a cohesive feeling, though the four songs were each recorded in different studios with varying lineups.

It begins with the surfy guitar riff of “Sharp Teeth,” with angsty, drawn out vocals that float dreamily over fuzzy guitars and a solid beat, as they reiterate a romantic plight: “Your smile, my disaster.” “Ok Promises” falls on the opposite side of the spectrum as an upbeat, dancey track with a breathless chorus. “Radio Controller” is slightly toned down in comparison, but still retains some of its energy in nervously descending guitar lines, while “Trails” is a straight ahead ode to late night living that ominously declares, “I’m just a vampire.”

Ian filled us in on how Monograms became a band, recorded Silencer and found the EP’s awesome cover art. Read on below:

AudioFemme: Monograms originally started as a solo bedroom project. How did you make the transition to a full band?

Ian Jabcobs: I wrote the songs that ended up becoming the first EP and recorded them as just a whatever-fun-get-some-songs-out-of-my-head kind of thing. I played a few shows solo with drum machines, and a buddy of mine asked if he could play some real drums. It took me about two seconds to realize the songs were a lot more fun with others in the room, so I just kept adding people and now Monograms is a four-piece band. 

I’m still the main song writer, but the other dudes in the band create a lot of things, especially during the live show, that I could never replicate. We have some new songs that have been much more collaborative, which I’m super stoked about.

AF: Each song on this EP represents a different lineup of Monograms, and was recorded during a different session. Can you elaborate on the different lineups, and your recording process/experience?

IJ: The four songs are a mix of about a year and a half of recording sessions, most of which started at home and then finished at different studios around Brooklyn. It was an interesting ride, because this was all during that time the lineup was changing and expanding.  All the tracks are from really different landscapes and head spaces, but I was just writing stuff, not thinking about a release. A couple of the tunes are from the drum machine days and some were written as a full band. It really wasn’t until just a few months before the EP was even released that I thought, hey, maybe I can make an EP out of these four tunes. So I did.

AF: Can you tell me about the Silencer cover art?

IJ: I follow a bunch of mixed media visual artists online… when I saw that image I knew right away I wanted it to be the cover. I liked that it was a person that’s there… but not really there. Also the theme of a few songs on Silencer are about how words and talking can be sort of meaningless sometimes. And I think that the imagery goes along with the EP title. 

I’m actually way more interested in what it means to other people. I think that’s honestly the biggest reason why I liked it so much. It’s simple but says something loud that’s open to interpretation.

AF: What are your major influences, musically and otherwise?

IJ: That’s kind of a tough one to answer cause I honestly think everything you do or see is an influence. For better or worse, it’s in there somewhere. I also listen to a lot of things all the time – modern hip-hop and books on tape not excluded.

AF: I feel like there’s a sense of dreaminess that connects the entire EP – is this intentional? To what extent are the songs inspired by your own life and experiences?

IJ: I don’t know if the psych/dreamy stuff is intentional but it’s definitely there. It’s a huge part of a lot of the music I listen to, but it’s probably just a sense of me trying to get my subconscious to write, it’s easier to do that when you can zone out a little. I think that’s where I want to be. Thinking but not too much, or at least not realizing it. Thinking is overrated. That said, all the songs are about my life experience, currently in progress.

Silencer is out now; listen below and download the EP here.

TRACK REVIEW: Stonefield “Sister”

Life is tough, and sometimes you need a dense track to complement that type of outlook. If you’ve found yourself in need of this type of song lately, then search no further than Stonefield’s track “Sister.”

It’s the perfect descriptor for a quartet of Aussie sisters who have been playing together since the youngest was only seven, the eldest just fifteen. The Findlay siblings hail from Victoria, and though their latest LP As Above So Below was released in their home country last year, it was only made available in the U.S. earlier this month, along with two special edition singles for “Changes” featuring “Sister” as its b-side.

Elementally, the track is comprised of hard-hitting guitar chords and heavy, spine-tingling synths that do well to perpetuate a sobering, hardened perspective. It’s a grungy garage rock track that would go well with a dreary rainy day or a bleak political atmosphere. One of the most exciting elements of this family band is that they create music that can sound wildly different on a track-by-track basis, which is expertly showcased in As Above So Below. Like a heavier version of Haim, these sisters are poised to take over America, having recently completed their U.S. tour supporting fellow psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Check out “Sister” by Stonefield via Soundcloud below.

ALBUM REVIEW: SKATERS “Rock and Roll Bye Bye”

Following their departure from Warner Brothers, New York-based SKATERS are back with the release of Rock and Roll Bye Bye, out on March 24 via their very own Yonks Records. Undeniably, tracks from 2014’s debut, Manhattan, have held up their refreshing vibrancy three years later, but this supernal sophomore release deviates from their characteristic high-energy grit, while maintaining the same artful authenticity of a true New York garage rock band.

Though significantly lower-energy, Rock and Roll Bye Bye isn’t a major departure from their repertoire, as previously released tracks like “Mental Case” have fit right into their setlists since 2015. Where the band’s growth comes through the most is via their sonic experimentation, like the seemingly strange synth-infused interlude “Clip art link 1 Bubbles” that effectively transitions right into another post-punk tune.

It seems like SKATERS are out to prove that DIY doesn’t need to be crass or rough.  Rather, the back-to-the-basics air that has surrounded the band since their inception only makes it more engaging to watch them grow.  For this record, they’ve also collaborated with the likes of director Shoot J Moore and stop-motion artist Cameron J L West for music videos as delightful as their cultivated sound.

Lyrically, the band proves that they’ve eased right into a simplistic sophistication. On the short and sweet “Song 19 (Revisited),” singer and songwriter Michael Ian Cummings groans, “And you cry on/While he just laughs along/And this is why I can’t help but choose to move on.” The apt self-consciousness prevalent throughout the lyrics on this record shine best on “I’m Not a Punk” where Cummings shows that he knows how he’s being perceived, speak-singing, “Something tells me I’m just not good enough/Can your mother understand?/I’m not a punk, I’m a punk rocker.”

A highlight of the record is “Criminal,” where bongo drums and piano riffs offer a flashy new layer to their innate lo-fi effortlessness.  Enlisting producer Albert DiFiore (MGMT, Beck), SKATERS have refined a project full of nuance and meticulous crafting, with festival-ready songs that you’ll still want to experience in an intimate setting.

From the soft alarm sound in the opener “Just Like Your Mother” to guitarist Josh Hubbard’s swirling echoes that close the album’s last moments, Rock and Roll Bye Bye is melancholic but pretty, self-aware but unassuming, youthful but mature. Driven by Noah Rubin’s mod drum beat, the eponymous track defines the band’s apathy towards their path: “At seventeen, the band forms/all my friends moved onto higher education/By twenty-one, in the work force/On stage alone/Got stuck with rock and roll bye bye.”  Though with a polished record that fights back against the sophomore slump, it sounds like these guys getting stuck with rock and roll doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.


TRACK OF THE WEEK: Cotillon “Alex’s Room”

Starting off with distorted guitar and indistinguishable background conversation, Cotillon’s latest single “Alex’s Room” sets listeners up for relaxation and nostalgia with this chill, fuzzy garage rock tune. It also may have listeners wondering, who is Alex, and why is anyone in his room?

The song is restless from the first line, as frontman Jordan Corso sings about a loss of inspiration and distraction from his passions, and it remains as such throughout its short two and a half minute span. It’s a soundtrack that channels frustrated youth sick of explaining their choices to their parents as they deal with hitting dead ends on the path to finding themselves and following their dreams. Like a teenager waiting around for a friend to rescue them from boredom, Corso waits listlessly for Alex, lost in ennui and taking stock of his wasted life as time slips away.

Similarly, we’ll be waiting impatiently for Cotillon’s upcoming sophomore album The Afternoons, out via Burger Records April 21st. Corso recently relocated from the West Coast to New York City and considers The Afternoons to be his “New York” album, pulling inspiration from living in a small New York City apartment and the romances, ups, downs, and in betweens he weathered in that time.

Listen to “Alex’s Room” below.

PLAYING DETROIT: Prude Boys “The Outlaw”


When the sandy shores of a zombie beach party meet the salty lawlessness of a vintage wild west shoot-out, you would likely find yourself galloping within the Tarantino-lite dreamworld crafted by the latest tracks from garage pop threesome Prude Boys.

The Outlaw, though only two tracks long, make for a grungy Lee Hazelwood x Nancy Sinatra reboot while garnering imagery of seduction and escape with their uniquely refined and playful nostalgia. The opening riff from the titled track is reminiscent of The Dandy Warhols lick from “You Were the Last High” but in Prude Boys uptempo context feels urgent and authentic surrounded by vocalist Caroline Myrick’s haunted warble. Wildly expressive without much deviation, “The Outlaw” is genre-less and toggles between what feels like fantasy cinema and curious reality like a chase through the Hollywood backlots and sound stages, dipping in and out of backdrops of ghost towns and real life coffee shops.

“You Plague My Dreams” follows “The Outlaw” with a jutting rock tale of a lingering lover. Tormented by wanting to stay but the unfair crimes of still hanging around even while deep into the R.E.M cycle, our antagonists find ways to make resentment soft and make guitars sound as though they are slamming doors. Though a little less obvious in its cinematic tonality than the EP’s opener, “You Plague My Dreams” finds itself in the closing credits territory which is apropos for a band with a knack for seeing the bigger picture.

Saddle up and get rowdy with the latest from Prude Boys below:

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TRACK PREMIERE: Citrus & Katie “Sludge”

citrus and katie

Citrus & Katie’s latest track “Sludge” embodies its title, dredging its way through your system and sitting contentedly in your ears. It’s parts garage rock, funk, soul, and pop, making for an upbeat fusion track that’ll leave you smiling. For the most part, “Sludge” is true to its name as a slow moving track, until the end when it really picks up pace, kicking up the rock ‘n’ roll vibes and ending on a fun note. Take a listen to it below! Their new album, NSTYLDY is out this month.

EP REVIEW: Del Caesar “EP 2”

Del Caesar - EP cover art high-res

This week, the thought of getting out of bed and doing anything at all filled me with dread; scraping together thoughts and words about an album was the last thing I wanted to do. I feel for any band releasing music this week, I really do. Everyone feels terrible, and everyone’s mind is definitely not on music. But what originally drew me to Del Caesar makes me glad I’m writing about their latest release, EP 2, even now.

EP 2 opens with the jaunty “Like They Always Say,” which has an energy that defies the fact that it seems to loosely take place the morning after a bender. “Lie To Me” has a catchy call and response chorus that lodges pleasantly in the brain, while “Never Be Alone” is a moodier, soulful track that opens with perfectly complementary guitar parts.  “I’ll Bet” so encapsulates the sound of a 60’s/70’s love song it’s hard to believe it’s not a cover.

Their sound is true-to-the-original, decades old garage rock, with melodic bass lines and fuzzy, psychedelic guitar solos. There are flashes of the Stones in the vocals, which contain a hint of a playful sneer, and glimpses of T. Rex in the guitars. It truly feels like listening to a different era, which, at the moment, means a nice escape from reality. I highly recommend that you do yourself a favor this weekend and check out this album. Here, you can even listen to it below:


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 whitemystery.com press photos page
Taken from the whitemystery.com 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. 


PLAYING DETROIT: The Gories Return!


Forged from the weightiness of post-war blues and the primally riotous audacity of 60’s garage punk, Detroit‘s scuzz rockers the Gories return to their hometown his Friday. Mick Collins, Danny Kroha and Peggy O’Neill formed the Gories (sans bass) back in 1986 and released three records between 1989 and their tumultuous break-up in ’92. During their undisclosed reign as underground groove-punk royalty, their influence was more wide reaching than their dismal record sales or crusty notoriety. Like true punks, the Gories’ reputation was marred with scowls and “wtf is this shit” variety, mostly due to their raunchy, primitive approach to rock. It’s an attitude that would later have Detroit’s prodigal son and father of Third Man Records, Jack White, exclaiming that the Gories “made people with Les Pauls and Marshall amps look like idiots.”

After a 17 year hiatus (during which punk died, was reincarnated into radio-friendly sewage, died again and is only now beginning to wear its old skin) the Gories reunited in 2009 for a European tour and again in 2010 to hustle their grime across North America. Since then they have played a handful of shows, though sparingly, but enough to remind us that true punk never really dies and what the Gories have given us is more than half-assed nostalgia on life support; it’s a tantrum.

Oozing with sexual deviance, masked by the hip-shaking, beer-bottle smashing juxtaposition of aggravated shimmy and shake, “Nitroglycerine,” from the band’s sophomore record, I Know You Fine, But How You Doin’ manages to box the un-boxable sticky, sweaty, no-fucks-given tale of Detroit’s premier garage punk pioneers.  A perplexing mix of John Lee Hooker and the Cramps, the Gories hoot and howl while channeling some Velvet Underground-level chaos as the guitars suffer battling seizures, and the drums find home in a constituent heartbeat-beat reminding us that the band’s homeostasis, although compromised, is far from expired. The lyrics “She’s volatile/she’s my baby”  are delivered with some 1950’s innocence or doo-wop cadence but is quickly dismantled by a rapid-fire sex-beat that keeps us guessing even 26 years later.

Get weird with the Gories 1990 video for “Nitroglycerine” below and catch the Gories with Pretty Ghouls, Mexican Knives and Trash DJ’s at El Club Friday August 5th, 2016 | Tickets $20

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