NEWS ROUNDUP: St. Vincent Producing Sleater-Kinney LP, Woodstock Returns, & More

sleater-kinney and st. vincent, hollywood, ca, jan 2019. photograph by jonny cournoyer

New Year, New Music

By Lindsey Rhoades

Sleater-Kinney is in the Studio… Producing an Album with St. Vincent

If this tweet didn’t warm your riot grrl heart, we don’t know what will. Though details are scant (no official release date, no title, no tracklist, no leaked audio) Sleater-Kinney announced via Twitter that St. Vincent mastermind Annie Clark is producing their next record, the follow-up to their return-from-a-decade-long-hiatus-instant-classic No Cities To Love, released in 2015. The tweet came with a photo so amazing we thought we were dreaming: four of our favorite female musicians sitting at a mixing board, their expressions saying only one thing: Y’all are not even ready for this amazingness. Though it’s officially become our most anticipated release of the new year, other artists aren’t slouching – keep reading below for the veritable onslaught of recently released jams. But first…

Woodstock Will Return in 2019… Can it Compete With New Festival Lineups?

Break out the patchouli – Woodstock is coming back for its 50th anniversary. The original founder, Michael Lang, announced Wednesday that he’s planning to book multi-generational artists with an activist bent for a weekend-long festival in August at a racetrack called Watkins Glen; meanwhile, another Woodstock Anniversary fest helmed by LiveNation at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the original site of the 1969 gathering) was already in the works. No artists or ticket prices for either fest have been announced, but our heads already ache at the thought of sorting out nightmare radius clauses.

Woodstock, of course, has already had some disastrous anniversaries – most recently Woodstock ’99, which ended in rapes, rioting, and violence. But perhaps the bigger challenge than putting that memory behind them will be simply competing for audience numbers in an over-saturated festival market. Coachella announced its lineup, including headliners Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande, onm January 2. This week, Bonnaroo announced they’d also be hosting Childish Gambino as a headliner, along with Post Malone and multiple sets from jam band stalwarts Phish (this prompted Forbes to beg the question: Why isn’t Cardi B’s billing higher?). New York’s own Governors Ball has once again invited The Strokes (who have played the fest before but not headlined), as well as Florence + The Machine and Lil Wayne to play their top spots, with Tyler, The Creator, Nas, Sza, Brockhampton and more rounding out the bill. And though it’s not strictly a festival in the same sense as those mentioned above, SXSW has begun hyping the first handful of buzzworthy acts who’ll play showcases all over Austin in March, including Amanda Palmer, Swervedriver, Ecko, The Beths, and Wyclef Jean.

That New New

Kehlani has a new song featuring Ty Dolla $ign; “Nights Like This” will appear on a mixtape due in February, which is itself a precursor to a new album due sometime this year.

Girlpool have a new album coming out February 1st, and have shared the title track, “What Chaos Is Imaginary.”

Ex Hex is finally releasing a follow-up to 2014’s Rips, called It’s Real (out March 22 via Merge). Their first single is “Cosmic Cave.”

Sharon Van Etten will release her first album in five years, Remind Me Tomorrow, on January 18. This week, she shared a video for “Seventeen,” after previously sharing “Comeback Kid” and the absolutely stunning “Jupiter 4.”


Mineral are releasing new music for the first time in 20 years, including this video for “Your Body Is The World.” The song appears (alongside “Aurora“) on a limited-edition 10” that comes with a hardcover book commemorating the Austin band’s 25th anniversary.

Beirut release Gallipoli on February 1; Game of Thrones actor Ian Beattie plays a kind of klutzy knight in the video for “Landslide.”

Pedro the Lion shared “Quietest Friend,” a companion video to “Yellow Bike.” Both singles appear on the group’s first record in over a decade, Phoenix, which you can stream now in full via NPR.

Priests have announced a new album, The Seduction of Kansas, and shared its title track. The LP comes out April 5 and they’re doing a huge tour around it.

FIDLAR ironically manages to Skype in their entire LA crew in a video for “By Myself,” from their forthcoming LP Almost Free (out January 25 on Mom + Pop).

Cherry Glazerr shares “Wasted Nun” from Stuffed & Ready, out February 1 via Secretly Canadian.

Deerhunter released the third single, “Plains,” from Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? but Bradford Cox is worried no one will listen to the record in its entirety when it comes out January 18.

Also releasing an album on January 18, experimental rock duo Buke & Gase premiered the title track from Scholars.

End Notes

  • Attention Brooklyn! Early aughts rap-rock one-hit-wonders Crazy Town are inexplicably playing Sunnyvale on February 23rd. Sorta wondering if it’ll just be one forty-five minute set of “Butterfly” played over and over.
  • If you’ve got kids, or have simply interacted with one in the last year, you’ve probably had “Baby Shark” stuck in your head at some point. But this week made it official – every toddler’s number one jam appeared for the first time on Billboard’s Hot 100, making it one of the few children’s songs to do so.
  • A documentary on Lifetime called Surviving R. Kelly aired the first week of January, and with it has come some new hope for victims seeking justice. The doc has prompted a kidnapping investigation in Georgia, more victims have come forward, and Phoenix, Lady Gaga, and Chance the Rapper have all recently released statements apologizing for working with R. Kelly in the past. Chance recently appeared on Sesame Street and admitted in an Instagram recap that he saved someone’s life by pulling them from a burning car last April, so we think his karma may be in the clear.
  • In a rare interview, Frank Ocean shared his very respectable skincare routine (and some other stuff) with GQ.
  • Risqué rap sensation CupcakKe (real name Elizabeth Harris) made some worrisome allusions to suicide on social media, prompting her hospitalization – but she seems to be on the mend, having released a single on Friday called “Squidward Nose.”
  • Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was a big winner at the Golden Globes last Sunday, taking home Best Picture and Best Actor for Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury – all in spite of its negative critical reception. Honors for Best Song went to Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga duet “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born.



Welcome to the second installment of “Only Noise,” in which Madison Bloom writes a memoir with music. 

A mixtape is something Generation Y shouldn’t grasp the importance of. Despite the small number of people who claim to prefer the sound of tape, mixtapes today are largely leveraged as devices of kitsch and nostalgia. There is of course the tape renaissance in the cottage punk industry. Once declining tape-manufacturing plants such as National Audio Company are finding newfound profits in reel-to-reel, and brands like Urban Outfitters are eager to get in on the “vintage” trend. The clothing retailer made a gesture towards analog at last year’s Northside Festival, stuffing press goody bags with a neon green compilation tape featuring artists such as Blanck Mass and Juan Wauters.

But truth be told, most people born post compact disc proliferation have never had a pressing need for a mixed tape.


There was a patch of time in the late nineties when the good people at Subaru neglected to outfit their Foresters with the leading method of musical consumption: a CD player. My mother owned such a Forester, and though in hindsight I realize the simple solution would have been to purchase a CD player, the decision was well out of my 12-year-old hands.

At the pinnacle of my musical discovery, as well as the inception of my aural snobbery, this absence was an abomination.  Living as we did in bumfuck Washington, we were out of range for all of the cool radio stations like KEXP and 89.9.  All we had was classic rock, Top 40 (not so great in 2000), and 107.7 The End, which boasted that ambiguous, doomed banner “alternative.” The End was given to playing Papa Roach, Disturbed, and the state-ordained daily quota of Nirvana.

It was ok, but when something truly abysmal came on, there was nowhere to run.  The car at that time, just on the cusp of mp3 players, kept you captive with your music more than most situations, which was the beauty and the burden of being on the road.

I began to do what any other pre-teen would have done in the decades prior: I made mixed tapes.  I didn’t need an authentic childhood void of the internet, compact disks, or Napster to understand how these things worked. I’d seen High Fidelity.

I was in a unique position as a kid in the 90s who actually knew what a vinyl record was.  I was, as all kids are, egocentric, and having admired my Dad’s 4,000 plus record collection for as long as I can remember, I would go to sleepovers and birthday parties wondering: where are your Dad’s 4,000 records?

And yes, I too fetishized the faux nostalgic from a young age.  I blame the amazing stories my parents told me about growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  They had “used up all the fun,” as my mom puts it.  I wanted to pay a nickel for a candy bar, and have a paper route, and take acid with my high school teachers.  I wanted boys to make tapes for me!  Fantastic tapes filled with songs I’d never heard, the J-cards meticulously filled in with ball-point pen renderings of hearts and music notes alongside the painstakingly written song titles, artists, and run times.  The cassettes would have themes, and clever titles winking at some hilarious inside joke.

But there were no boys. There were no tapes.  So, like an independent 12-year-old woman, I made my own goddamn tapes.

The first was simple in its purpose: songs for the road. Or, as my strained, blue Bic handwriting declares: “Songs For The Ramblin’ Traveler.”

This isn’t going to get less embarrassing.

So deprived I was of decent music in the car, that I overcompensated with flamboyant, and horrible titles. The music however, wasn’t so terrible. Side One included Bob Dylan’s “Peggy Day” off of Nashville Skyline as well as “Radio Radio” by Elvis Costello. Neither was directly related to driving lyrically, but sonically they possessed a forward-motion needed for a good car song. Just uplifting enough to keep your eyes ahead.

Side Two, was far less forgiving. I can’t say the exact year this tape was made, but it would have come to life amidst my obsession with two bands: Social Distortion and The Wallflowers.

The former was certainly the catalyst for including Mike Ness’s cover of “Six More Miles,” originally by Hank Williams, which, unbeknownst to my young ears, was not about driving, but dying.

More true-to-form road trip lyrics could be found in the Wallflowers selections, namely “Back To California” and “Shy Of The Moon.” Yes. There were two.

But the tape to end all tapes was the love dedication tape that I, in all my teen melodrama, made for myself.  Having just seen Brokeback Mountain, I was inspired.  So much so, that I entitled my mixtape-to-me: “I Wish I Knew How To Quit You.”  It is perhaps the cringiest thing I have ever done in my entire life.  But I would like to clear up one thing: it wasn’t about self-love; it was about a puppy-love deficiency…I was essentially pretending that there did exist a boy who had made me such a tape.  Like when Cher in Clueless sends herself flowers.  Sort of.

There was no shortage of Social Distortion tracks on this tape either.  Side A touted their more critically acceptable era with “Another State Of Mind” off 1982’s Mommy’s Little Monster.  The song itself was about being on the road, on tour specifically, and missing someone back home. Side B found them a decade later with “When She Begins” from Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell.

The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl” would have also been on there, since at the time I truly thought that it was a sincere love song. The irony of my choices continued with “Mama You Been On My Mind” by Dylan and Costello’s “Allison.” It took me years to realize that both were snide reprimands of former lovers. One could posit that this tape full of “love songs” might serve as a breakup tape in later years.

Despite our necessity for them, we didn’t have many cassettes in the Subaru, and at some point I must have become bored of making my own. Maybe I simply ran out of subject matter.  Besides love songs and car songs, what else did you have to work with in life?  This was clearly before the explosion of hyper specific playlists via Spotify, which delve into such heady themes as “Hipster House Party” and “Chillimatic.”

Aside from my mixes, the car’s center console held but a Queensrÿche tape (very rarely played) and a copy of Queen’s greatest hits. The latter was bootlegged and wore a clean J-card sans songs titles and start times. As kids, Queen meant only one thing to my sister and I: “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In fact, Queen didn’t even mean that. Queen meant Wayne’s World.

Sometimes on the 20-minute ride to school, all we wanted was to bang our heads to the bridge like Garth and Wayne. We knew that part of the movie by heart, the little air-drum fill right after Freddie Mercury belted: “so you think you can stop me and spit in my eye?!” We couldn’t ask for a better start to the school day. But instead, the entire ride would be spent rewinding, fast-forwarding, ejecting, flipping, reinserting, fast-forwarding, that tape, usually to no avail. We could never find the goddamn song, but on the extremely rare occasion that we did, riotous cheers were unleashed from the backseat, and oh the headbanging.

As much as I prattle on about the relationship between music and memory, I similarly cannot pry the thought of cars from songs. Driving, riding, cruising – it’s the ultimate American experience. Still, but in motion. Speeding ahead, but inert in your seat. Always moving forward, and yet forever framed between the past and future. I’m not someone who speaks of “being present” all that much, but that really is where the present lies in its most distilled form: en route. It’s no wonder the road, the car, and the open highway, have long been recurring themes in not only American music, but film and literature for decades. And if we are so bewitched by the journey, how could we possibly resist a soundtrack?

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Queen’s “A Night at the Opera”

Queen Audiofemme

I have been listening to Queen ever since I can remember hearing things. The short drives to our swim practice in the summer were accompanied musically by some Queen album my mother had lying in the car. The one in particular I can recall as having stuck with me at the most susceptible time in my life was A Night at the Opera. I am sure this is the case for most people hearing Queen for the first time, as this album contains the one and only, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Many a Waynes World-esque sing along has been partaken in on my end, and I’m sure as you’re reading this, you’re recalling similar drunken nights at a party or a bar. When the first harmonizing vocals come on, you can’t help but stop whatever the hell you’re doing and shut up for a second. You then continue to butcher the song into oblivion.

Their 1975 fourth studio effort was, and is, their most prominent album in their catelogue as a band, debuting at #1 in the UK and #4 in the USA. It also took the name from a Marx Brothers film of the same name, which I as a Marx Brothers fan was ecstatic to find out about a few years ago. Additionally, the album was the most expensive one made at that time. Besides “Bohemian Rhapsody”, A Night at the Opera saw the release of other infamous hits such as, “You’re My Best Friend”, a pop ballad now featured on car commercials, and “Death on Two Legs”. The latter was one of those “F-you” songs written about the ex-manager who screws you over, which has been disputed by said manager in a tell all book, and then re-disputed by the band members. Personally, I see it as a great breakup song or if you were wrongly fired for some reason, as I always was when I was younger. At least in my eyes.

Queen isn’t just all about Freddie Mercurys’ amazing showmanship and crazy vocal range, which in itself is something to write about. But also, lends a chance for the other band members to showcase their talents. Brian May is undoubtedly one of the greatest guitar players in existence, and a modern day wizard. He also is a brilliant songwriter, as he penned some of my favorite songs on the album, including the sci-fi guitar ditty “’39” and the multi-layered, Biblical-influenced epic, “The Prophet’s Song”. Their drummer, Roger Taylor, was keen on writing high-energy hits from behind the kit, including “I’m In Love With My Car”. There’s no real theme to the album, and there doesn’t need to be one. Every song on it’s own has the classic Queen sound, with the multi-tracked harmonizing and inclusion of random instruments that blend perfectly with the song.

Queen continued to make classic albums and even went on to write the soundtrack for the movies Flash Gordon and Highlander, in all of their campy goodness, which Queen was perfect for. The death of Freddie Mercury in 1991 brought a break in Queens’ stride. They put together a benefit concert for Mercury in 1992, which independently accounted for some well-known performances by extraordinary artists like David Bowie, Robert Plant, Elton John, and many more. Their tongue-in-cheek attitude towards music will stand the test of time, as they continue to influence modern days artists, even inspiring some to take their stage name from songs (Lady Gaga, from “Radio Ga Ga”). A Night at the Opera is a definite milestone in the music world and and opened my eyes to other artists before and after them, but I always come back to Queen.

Here is Queen performing a medley of “Killer Queen” (a track on their previous album) and “I’m In Love With My Car” in Montreal in 1981.