AUDIOFEMME PRESENTS: Backstage Pass with Parlor Walls

On International Women’s Day this year, Audiofemme curated a showcase of talented musicians to play the opening of For The Record, a portrait series showcasing women in the music industry shot by Ebru Yildiz, at Ridgewood venue TV Eye. Our videographer Molly Mary O’Brien shot a candid interview with Alyse Lamb and Chris Mulligan of Parlor Walls before their performance, as well as the live version of “Lunchbox” from their latest LP Heavy Tongue, released earlier this year.

Parlor Walls are veteran performers, having been active in Brooklyn’s music scene for nearly a decade. Lamb’s solo project EULA naturally evolved to fit the improvisational approach Parlor Walls takes to writing music, something you can hear on their 2017 debut Opposites, as well as the band’s two EPs, Cut (2015), and EXO (2018). Though Heavy Tongue feels like the band’s most deliberate collection yet, it’s still informed by the raw, collaborative exchange between Mulligan and Lamb, who are constantly finding new ways to transition between the songs in their live sets. Careening between explosive catharsis and slow, melodic builds, Parlor Walls keep audiences on their toes, and Lamb’s confident delivery is enthralling to watch.

Now that live performance is momentarily side-lined, we hope you’ll enjoy this clip from our IWD showcase. You can follow Parlor Walls on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Parlor Walls Juxtapose Beauty and Horror with Video for “Game”

Parlor Walls photo by Michelle LoBianco.

Post-punk darlings Parlor Walls weave a deadly spell in their latest music video for “Game.” The initial drone, followed by an unnerving pulse of a beep, reminiscent to a heartbeat on a hospital monitor, is almost as unnerving as the video itself. It comes from the band’s most recent LP, Heavy Tongue, released in February.

The Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Alyse Lamb and Chris Mulligan utilize an element of surprise in their videos, as well as in their multi-layered live performances showcasing Lamb’s electric guitar and Mulligan’s synth-savvy. The way they build each song in a live setting amounts to a slow boil, adding each new element slowly: first synth, then drums, guitar, and finally Lamb’s eerie vocals, laying out the vision in full.

“Game” has a similar trajectory, beginning with glitchy colors, bubbles floating up from the dark, settling on a woman’s masked face looming above a bathroom floor. It’s the repetition of those initial heartbeats that pull the listener in, the odd angles which make it difficult to see whether there is one woman or two, and then suddenly seeing both women, in early 1900s bathing suits. laughingly repeating the chorus into the frame. In that split second of a frame, we see they are beautiful to the eye, but what lengths did they to go to in order to achieve perfection? The song questions what beauty is, who defines it, and asks whether we can pull ourselves away long enough to make a difference.

Read our interview with the band and watch an exclusive premiere of “Game” below.

AF: Why do you make music? To feel something or to say something?

CM: Definitely to feel something. I’m sure Alyse is different as she is certainly saying something with her lyrics, but for me music is about expressing something you don’t know how to put into words. It’s like when you go outside at night and it’s warm and the smell of the wind gives you this overwhelming visceral reaction. You feel connected to something in a gut way. There’s no anxieties in that moment, time stretches out and goes silent. You feel present and have total perspective that we are in space right now but it is okay and not scary. Like I said, it’s a feeling I don’t know how to put into words without sounding like a 14-year-old stoner. But yeah, I hope to get to a point where I can make something and it gives someone that kind of reaction.

AL: I make music to process what is going on in the world around me – it helps me like a filter. It also builds connection. Connecting with one another is soooo important to me – it’s imperative for any attempt at harmony and understanding. I also just looove the physical aspect of playing as well – it shakes me up.

AF: When did you start writing music? And what was your first song about?

AL: I got a Casio keyboard when I was seven. I played around on that thing every day. My mom had a seamstress/costume shop in our basement and my first song was about her being in the dungeon weeping with the spiders. It was a sweet little tune with dark lyrics. Clearly I was watching a lot of Conan The Destroyer and Nightmare on Elm Street (shout out Freddy Krueger). In middle school/high school I would write a lot about my relationships, stresses and insecurities. I’ve always needed it.

AF: The band has gone through just a couple lineup changes over time. How have you and Chris’s musical relationship changed over the years? Do you write in a similar way to when you first started?

AL: When Chris and I first started playing music, it was very loud and very fast. We were exercising some demons. Eventually we settled on a mostly atonal, discordant landscape with sweet melodies hovering above. I love playing with harshness and softness and mixing it up. It has been a beautiful journey to examine all these little cracks and flows, and sort of let the tide take us where it wants. We keep digging deeper and deeper and uncovering new sounds.

AF: There’s a beautiful tension to your live performances, especially as you each settle into your instruments at the start of a song. Do you improvise at all during your concerts?

AL: Yes! We love improvising live. It keeps us on our toes, and it lets us read the room before going into our set. We always improvise transitions between songs too – it’s such a treat to hear what Chris has up his sleeve for the night.

AF: Your Instagram has a glitchy, 1970s LSD symposium vibe to it. How do visual arts play into your music? Are there certain fine artists you identify with as inspiration for Parlor Walls?

CM: Don’t know if this is considered fine art, but we’ve been obsessed with Triadisches Ballet by Oskar Schlemmer. It’s otherworldly and extremely simplistic at the same time. Better than any pop song.

AL: We are both visual artists so yes, it’s a large part of our process in Parlor Walls. Our album art, music videos, live visuals, merch… everything is connected. Chris found a bunch of amazing public domain footage from the 1950s and ’60s, very blown out and campy, and this has influenced some of our art for Heavy Tongue. I’m very much inspired by Dorothea Tanning, Egon Schiele, Kandinsky, Hen Douglass, and the composer Erik Satie.

AF: Tell us about the music video for “Game.” What’s the narrative here (or is there one)?

AL: The song is about my frustration/disgust with certain people in the spotlight pushing and pedaling toxic ideas and products to young people. It is unfathomable how some celebrities use their voice and platform for money and profit rather than making this world a better place. This directly ties in with body image – we are taught from a young age that we are not enough. There’s always something being pedaled to us to make us prettier or more beautiful (Jameela Jamil is deeply inspirational to me, she has been a frontline soldier in this fight!). I stumbled upon an article about Helena Rubinstein’s Glamour Factory of the 1930s. Women went to absurd lengths in the name of “beauty.” The video for “Game” reflects the grotesque and bizarre. I wanted it to feel like being trapped inside a horror house. I’ve co-directed a number of videos but this was my first solo directing project. Chris edited it, Emma McDonald shot it, and my co-star was Andrya Ambro (Check out her band Gold Dime). Chris and I run an art collective/production company called Famous Swords. This is our latest visual project.

AF: What music are you currently listening to purely for pleasure?

CM: Resavoir. That’s the band name and album name. It gives me that feeling I was rambling about in that first answer.

AL: Too Free’s new album is wonderful. They’re a group from DC.

AF: What’s your favorite NYC spot right now?

We recently played a show at TV Eye in Ridgewood. Check it out, it’s a beautiful space!

AF: I’ve left a Parlor Walls show. I’m having a drink with friends at my local haunt. What feeling or message do you hope I’ve left with?

Shaken up. Titilated. Feathers ruffled. Inspired to create.

Parlor Walls’ latest record Heavy Tongue is out now. 

RSVP HERE: Bad Waitress play Mercury Lounge + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

photo credit: Michael Amaral

I first heard about Bad Waitress from a friend who described their live set as “a 100mph party train ride,” and they have been on my radar to see their next grand return to NYC ever since. Hailing from Toronto, ON, Bad Waitress are Canada’s premiere alt-punk party band consisting of Kali-Ann Butala (vox/guitar), Katelyn Molgard (guitar), Nicole Cain (bass) and Eva Moon (drums). Today they have released “That Sedative,” their first single and video since 2018 (watch below), and this week they will be rocking NYC at Mercury Lounge on January 22nd with Castle Rat and Old Lady. We chatted with them about their experiences touring in the US vs. Canada and their upcoming trip to Las Vegas.

AF: What is the difference between touring in Canada vs touring the US?

BW: US has shorter drives… and a lot of signs for selling fireworks and Jesus.

AF: What are your favorite cities to play in the US and Canada? What’s the craziest drive you’ve ever done on tour? Craziest tour story in general?

BW: It’s hard to choose really! Every city has its own place in our hearts but so far Detroit, Brooklyn, and Montreal have been major highlights. Our craziest drive hands down was straight from Toronto to Saskatoon which lasted 32 hours. Still have nightmares of that… woof!

We have so many crazy stories. One that sticks out is the mysterious black eye Kali got after our weekend playing Fest in Gainesville. Still don’t know to this day! Playing Crystal Lake fest two years ago was insane too. Katelyn met a woman who was former world champion body builder and ended up crashing at a Christian retreat owned by said body builder’s father while Kali disappeared into the woods while on acid to softly fall asleep in a nest of pine needles.

AF: You’re playing Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas next May. What bands are you most excited to see? 

BW: We’re definitely stoked for Lunachicks. They are clearly a huge inspiration for our drummer Eva’s fashion sense. Haha. Also Cock Sparrer and Propaghandi.

AF: What other plans do you have for 2020 post-record release?

BW: We are playing at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan January 22 and also playing New Colossus in Brooklyn in March as well as SXSW and Pouzza in Montreal! So much to do!

RSVP HERE for Bad Waitress, Castle Rat, and Old Lady @ Mercury Lounge on 1/22. 21+ / $10 / Early Show (6:30pm)

More great shows this week:

1/17 Big Bliss, Parlor Walls, Painted Zeros, Free $$$ @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 Nation of Language, Lou Tides, and Cutouts @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 NY Night Train Soul Clap & Dance-Off with Jonathan Toubin and Lenny Kaye @ Market Hotel. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

1/18 The Hum Presents: Greta Kline (of Frankie Cosmos), Jillian Medford (of Ian Sweet), Emily Yacina @ National Sawdust. 21+ / $18 RSVP HERE

1/18 YACHT, Juiceboxxx @ Rough Trade. 21+ / $17-20 RSVP HERE.

1/19 Caroline Polachek (solo keyboard set + signing) @ Rough Trade. All Ages / Free / 2pm / RSVP HERE

1/21 Frankie Rose, Brandy @ Union Pool. 21+ / Free RSVP HERE

1/23 Water From Your Eyes, Sean Henry, Shadow Year, Sourdoe @ Trans-Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE 


RSVP HERE: A Deer A Horse Play Brooklyn Bazaar + MORE

Welcome to our new weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

This week A Deer A Horse are supporting The Art Gray Noizz Quintet featuring Lydia Lunch for one of Brooklyn Bazaar’s final shows. The Art Gray Noizz Quintet features Stu-art Gray Spasm of Lubricated Goat joined by members of Live Skull, Woman, Cabbages & Kings, Twin Guns and more; playing a set of all “unreleased collaborations and bastardized classics.” A Deer A Horse are perfect openers with their melodic 70s punk meets post rock sludge. They are constantly touring so don’t miss the opportunity to see them while they’re in NYC! We asked ADAH a few questions in anticipation of their show this Wednesday 11/6…

AF: What are your top 5 bands to see live?

ADAH: Daikaiju (they light their instruments on fire while they are being crowdsurfed around the room, they’re fucking insane).

Ono (when they perform you are transformed from an audience to a congregation and Travis is your preacher. You will follow him wherever he goes).

Minibeast (intense, relentless noise rock from providence, memers of Mission of Burma).

Blacker Face (soul, r&b mixed with aggressive noise rock, some of the most inventive shit we’ve seen in a hot sec).

No Men (you’re dancing so hard that you don’t realize you’re worshipping Satan, these heathens rule).

Black Midi (fresh operatic noise weirdness from far far away, best band we saw at SXSW).

Listen… so we know we already did six here, but also s/o Big Business for melting our faces off for a week in August! When they play the song “Horses” Coady leaps out of his seat to slam the cymbals as hard as he can at the end of the song and it’s fucking amazing.

AF: I read somewhere that The Shining is one of your biggest inspirations. What’s your favorite scene from The Shining and has that film influenced your live show?

ADAH: I think you must have misunderstood the article… We could care less about that terrible piece of drivel, we worship instead, The Shinning. It’s a true masterpiece, a horror classic, The Shining pales in comparison to The Shinning. And who could forget those words repeated into the ether “No TV and no beer make Homer something something”? Chilling.

AF: If you could ask Lydia Lunch anything, what would it be?

ADAH: Lydia Lunch is one of the most prolific artists out there.  I mean seriously, just scroll through her credits on Wikipedia, the list goes on and on. It’s insane how much she’s accomplished! We’re all creative people, but Lydia is on another level; it’s both inspiring and intimidating. So I would definitely like to know where she feels her drive to create comes from.

RSVP HERE for Art Gray Noizz Quintet feat. Lydia Lunch with A Deer A Horse and Conduit on Wednesday, November 6th @ Brooklyn Bazaar. All Ages / $10-12

More great shows this week:

11/2: Deli Girls, Murderpact, Safe Word, Beak Trio @ The Broadway. 21+ / $12  RSVP HERE

11/2: Pinc Louds (4-year anniversary), Los Cumpleaños @ Market Hotel. All Ages / $15 RSVP HERE

11/2: Goth Prom III:  Parlor Walls, Whiner, Daily Therapy, Meganoke, The Sewer Gators, Holy Wisdom LLC @ Rubulad. All Ages / $8 RSVP HERE

11/4: Swanky Tiger, Nihiloceros @ Mercury Lounge (early show). 21+ / $8 RSVP HERE

11/5: The SpeLcast Live Variety & Medicine Show @ The Living Gallery. All Ages / $5 entrance and hand writing analysis / $1 sense of humor, spells and tinctures / free bandaids RSVP HERE

11/5: Dead Tooth, Karaoke Mood Killer (tape release), Should’ve, Johnny Dynamite @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

11/5: Jenny Slate @ Town Hall, NY Comedy Festival. All Ages / $41 RSVP HERE

11/5: White Reaper, The Nude Party, Wombo @ Bowery Ballroom. 18+ / $15 RSVP HERE

11/6: No Swoon (Record Release), Big Bliss, Wooing @ Union Pool. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE


LIVE REVIEW: Dead Leaf Echo @ Knitting Factory

There is no doubt about it – Brooklyn band Dead Leaf Echo’s brand new LP Beyond Desire is a fabulous stew of shoegaze, ’77 punk, pedals and reverb. Released late last week by PaperCup Music, the band’s sophomore album is expertly produced and mixed, resulting in a sonic meal you can really chew on. It was for this reason I was excited to attend their record release gig at Knitting Factory Brooklyn last Friday (the 13th, of course).

Opening band Parlor Walls – a local duo led by the charismatic Alyse Lamb – were a delight with their art rock set reminiscent of Talking Heads, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Slits. Lamb bounced around the stage in black sequin hot pants like a delinquent Rockette. The band’s most recent LP Opposites was released in March, 2017, and is certainly worth a listen. Glancing at their Bandcamp page, I notice a genre tag more relevant to their sound (and far catchier) than any I’ve mentioned or thought of: “trash jazz.” It’s just a shame it wouldn’t work as knuckle tats.

Dead Leaf Echo took the stage and plunged into their web of sound. Unfortunately, the mix for the evening was a bit murky, and it was difficult to distinguish front man LG’s 12-string guitar from Ana B’s six string riffs. This of course, was not the band’s fault, and is a frequent setback when playing New York’s smaller venues (and sometimes its bigger ones, too. See: Terminal 5).

As much as I enjoy their new record, Dead Leaf Echo’s stage presence left something to be desired on Friday night. Their performance seemed a bit stilted and self-important, which surprised me given the inherent silliness of their music videos. Then again, one less-than-rapturous gig doesn’t say anything about Dead Leaf Echo’s career as a whole, and it certainly doesn’t tarnish the fantastic collection of songs that is Beyond Desire.