Alt-country outfit Ohtis enlist the voice (and production skills) of beloved Detroit artist Stef Chura for their audio-visual fuckboy call-out “Schatze,” released digitally at the end of January (a 7″ vinyl is available for pre-order ahead of its February 26 release via Saddle Creek). Starting out like a guided meditation accompanied by Fred Thomas’s ambient track “Backstroke,” the brief moment of Zen is promptly squashed by the unrelenting, familiar chimes of an iPhone. The messages come rolling in, narrated by lead singer Sam Swinson – “I do/do what I please/it’s my Shatze/it’s my treasure/it’s not difficult, I do it with ease.” Chura replies to Swinson’s apathetic admission with an appropriate “Fuck you very much sir!” – a line that serves as a mantra throughout the song.
It’s an appropriate and timely catchphrase for the past few years we’ve had as a country, bleeding from the effects of men who think they can get away with anything. But recently, we’ve also seen slow steps towards a reckoning – lies coming apart at the seams, survivors stepping forward to bring their abusers to justice, and the grand finale of a bigoted predator being removed from office. And although the villain in this song doesn’t exactly sit in that rung of evil, he serves as a symbol of that one guy – or guys, and the toxic culture that enables them – we all know that just really, really sucks.
“It’s a story about a fictional character and his faults. As I see it, crafting this song as a cultural commentary, but through the lens of humanity and humor, makes for a more accessible listening experience,” explains multi-instrumentalist Nate Hahn (pedal steel guitar, guitar, bass, keys, trombone). “We hope that this encourages more people to listen and reflect on the issues explored.” Those issues range from binge-playing video games, cheating on your significant other, and just having a general air of entitlement and indifference to one’s surroundings. “The title is a reference to a friend’s cat who’s a vicious beast of the same name,” adds multi-instrumentalist and producer Adam Pressley.
Granted, an unruly cat is arguably a much easier beast to tame – or at least tolerate – than the character than Ohtis creates in “Schatze” – a self-obsessed, vape-loving, mask-hating gamer blob that admits things like, “I’m a piece of shit/I just think I’ll get away with it.” Chura’s gritty vocals are the perfect counter to Ohtis’ Frankenstein douche and serve as a sort of accountability angel. She says that the collaboration came together naturally, as Pressley was playing in her band at the time and the two had talked about working together. “We kinda jokingly tossed the idea around about the collaboration,” says Chura. “I really like Sam’s singing voice and was down for it. Then one day they just kind of hit me with the actual song. The rest is rock ‘n’ roll history, baby.”
Hahn adds that having a female voice on the track was essential to rounding out the song’s message. “From the beginning, it was clear that the story needed to be told from both sides of the relationship,” he says. “We loved working with Stef because she’s a friend of the band and she’s the rockinest.” Aside from contributing her voice, Chura also co-produced the track and prevented the band from “keeping some silly digital DJ Khaled style vocal chopping we had in the track early on in the process,” according to Pressley.
While the song is a slight departure from Swinson’s deeply personal lyricism on Curve of Earth, the character in the song serves as a self-aware caricature of what we can become without actively checking ourselves. “I think it’s incredibly important that everyone takes stock of the way they might act in relationships and how actions could affect other people,” says Swinson. “Hopefully it can bring about some self-reflection in people as to how they could be better to the people around them.”
Outside of the commentary on personal relationships, the song also nods at the fact that white men have historically gotten away with doing evil shit, and a lot of them still do. It also nods at the role – however divisive it can be – that the internet has in unveiling the truth (or spreading lies) about people. The video even sneaks in a text from “Ohtis” reading, “do you liek ariel pink?” a reference to his troubledreputation and recent “cancelling” after he was spotted with John Maus at the pro-Trump rally preceding the insurrection. And while the members of Ohtis are galaxies away from being caught at a MAGA gathering, Swinson admits that they still have work to do when it comes to deconstructing the patriarchy. “There are definitely lingering bits of toxic masculinity from our conditioning that we can still identify and ultimately hope to carve out of ourselves in the process,” he says. “ [We] have no problem being self-deprecating about that.”
Whatever your opinion on call out/cancel culture may be, this song and video serve as a relevant reflection on the moment we’re in – a chaotic e-landscape swirling with accusations, accountability, and assholes. For the listener, maybe it’s an opportunity to reflect on how you act in your relationships. Maybe it’s just an excuse to say “fuck you very much sir” a lot. For me, it’s both, and I’m better for it.
Every year I keep a running list of new album releases. The idea is that I’ll have new stuff on my radar, along with a go-to playlist if I’m feeling adventurous (or bored) and want to hear something new. This year that list grew to nearly 9,000 songs, and I’m still adding stuff I missed from this year to it. When it came time to make my year-end list, I had some ideas about what would be on it, but I decided to do something more immersive than I’d done years prior (basically narrowing my list down to ten albums). This year, I decided to rank every record I listened to that came out in 2019, resulting in a list of more than 200 albums. That’s a lot, certainly. It’s my job, of course, to listen to music. But what was more mind-boggling was that, when I made a separate list of albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to or simply didn’t stick in my mind, it was more than double that number. Y’all, a lot of music came out in 2019. And a lot of it was really, really good.
I think our list at Audiofemme is unique in that it gives each of our regular writers (and some of our contributors) complete ownership over their favorites, and that makes our list unusually eclectic. That’s especially true this year; last year’s lists featured a lot of love for Mitski and Janelle Monae, while this year’s lists were so disparate there’s very little crossover from list to list. So while it’s hard to choose one overarching narrative around who slayed hardest this year – Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen releasing the best albums of their careers, Big Thief releasing two amazing records, Jamila Woods and FKA Twigs going big on concept albums – I think we all know that person was Lizzo.
Marianne White (Executive Director)
Top 5 Albums:
1) Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
2) Big Thief – Two Hands
3) Boy Harsher – Careful
4) FKA Twigs – Magdalene
5) Cate le Bon – Reward
Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)
Top 10 Albums:
1) SASAMI – SASAMI
2) Hand Habits – placeholder
3) Crumb – Jinx
4) Pottery – No. 1
5) Orville Peck – Pony
6) Cate le Bon – Reward
7) Kim Gordon – No Home Record
8) Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
9) Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
10) Big Thief – Two Hands Top 10 Singles:
1) Sharon Van Etten – “Jupiter 4”
2) SOAK – “Valentine Shmalentine”
3) Jonny Kosmo – “Strawberry Vision”
4) Mineral – “Your Body Is the World”
5) Drahla – “Stimulus for Living”
6) Mattiel – “Keep the Change”
7) Girlpool – “Minute in Your Mind”
8) Charlotte Adigéry – “Paténipat”
9) Weyes Blood – “Andromeda”
10) Palehound – “Killer”
Mandy Brownholtz (Marketing Director)
Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
Summer Walker – Over It
Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Mannequin Pussy – Patience
Raveena – Lucid Top 3 Singles:
Summer Walker – “Anna Mae”
Solange – “Binz”
Jamila Woods – “ZORA”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Guayaba – Fantasmagoria
2) Ings – Lullaby Rock
3) The Black Tones – Cobain & Cornbread
4) Lemolo – Swansea
5) Stephanie Anne Johnson – Take This Love Top 5 Singles:
1) Lizzo – “Juice”
2) Karma Rivera – “Do More Say Less”
2) Heather Thomas Band – “When I Was Young”
3) Stephanie Anne Johnson – “Never No More”
4) Sarah Potenza – “I Work For Me”
5) Ariana Grande – “Thank U, Next”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
2) PUP – Morbid Stuff
3) Kim Petras – TURN OFF THE LIGHT
4) Microwave – Death is a Warm Blanket
5) Caroline Polachek – Pang Top 3 Singles:
1) Jess Day – “Rabbit Hole”
2) Ashnikko – “Hi, It’s Me”
3) Saweetie – “My Type”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Yola – Walk Through Fire
2) Louis York – American Griots
3) The Highwomen – The Highwomen
4) Sara Potenza – Road to Rome
5) Rising Appalachia – Leylines Top 3 Singles:
1) Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
2) Louis York – “Don’t You Forget”
3) The Highwomen – “Crowded Table”
Top 5 Albums:
1) The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
2) Harry Styles – Fine Line
3) Brittany Howard – Jaime
4) MARINA – Love + Fear
5) Death Mama – High Strangeness Top 3 Singles:
1) Sam Burchfield – “Blue Ridge June”
2) Pip the Pansy – “Siren Song”
3) 5 Seconds of Summer – “Teeth”
Top 5 Albums:
1) YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy
2) Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy
3) Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
4) DaBaby – KIRK
5) NF – The Search Top 3 Singles:
1) DaBaby – “Intro”
2) Polo G – “Pop Out”
3) Lil Baby – “Yes Indeed” (feat. Drake)
Top 5 Albums:
1) Palehound – Black Friday
2) Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
3) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
4) T-Rextasy – Prehysteria
5) Leggy – Let Me Know Your Moon Top 3 Singles:
1) Mannequin Pussy – “Drunk II”
2) Charly Bliss – “Chatroom”
3) (Sandy) Alex G – “Southern Sky”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
2) FEELS – Post Earth
3) Francie Moon – All the Same
4) Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
5) Crumb – Jinx Top 3 Singles:
1) Dehd – “Lucky”
2) Bodega – “Shiny New Model”
3) Y La Bamba – “Entre Los Dos”
Top 5 Albums (in Chronological Order):
1) JANITOR — She Hates The Hits
2) Haybaby — They Get There
3) Holy Tunics — Hit Parade Lemonade Supersonic Spree
4) Bethlehem Steel — Bethlehem Steel
5) Francie Moon – All The Same
6) SUO – Dancing Spots and Dungeons
Top 5 Singles (in Chronological Order):
1) Big Bliss – “Contact”
2) Gesserit – “Silence”
3) Vanessa Silberman – “I Got A Reason”
4) New Myths – “Living Doll”
5) Miss Eaves – “Swipe Left Up”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
2) (tie) Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence // K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
3) !!! – Wallop
4) Yacht – Chain Tripping
5) Chromatics – Closer to Grey Top 3 Singles:
1) Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”
2) Roisin Murphy – “Narcissus”
3) Boy Harsher – “Come Closer”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Xiu Xiu – Girl With a Basket of Fruit
2) slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
3) Boy Harsher – Careful
4) Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
5) Sylvia Black – Twilight Animals Top 3 Singles:
1) Squarepusher – “Vortrack – Fracture Remix”
2) Coyu & Moby – “I May Be Dead, But One Day The World Will Be Beautiful Again”
3) Cocorosie – “Smash My Head”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Bad Books — III
2) Pedro The Lion — Phoenix
3) Laura Stevenson — The Big Freeze
4) An Horse — Modern Air
5) Black Belt Eagle Scout — At the Party With My Brown Friends Top 3 Singles:
1) Kevin Devine – “Only Yourself”
2) Rain Phoenix feat. Michael Stipe – “Time is the Killer”
3) Sigrid – “Strangers”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Stef Chura — Midnight
2) Angel Olsen — All Mirrors
3) Lisa Prank — Perfect Love Song
4) Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated
5) Cheekface — Therapy Island Top 3 Singles:
1) Caroline Polachek — “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”
2) Priests — “Jesus’ Son”
3) Lana Del Ray — “The Greatest”
Top 5 Albums:
1) The Highwomen — The Highwomen
2) Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center
3) Various Artists — Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
4) Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
5) J.S. Ondara — Tales of America Top 3 Singles:
1) MUNA — “Good News (Ya-Ya Song)”
2) Lizzie No — “Narcissus”
3) Noah Gundersen — “Lose You”
Top 5 Albums:
1) King Princess – Cheap Queen
2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
3) Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
4) Kim Petras – Clarity
5) Charli XCX – Charli Top 3 Singles:
1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
2) FKA Twigs – “holy terrain”
3) Charli XCX – “Gone” feat. Christine and the Queens
Top 5 Albums:
1) Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations – Precession of a Day: The World of Mary Nohl
2) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
3) Sudan Archives – Athena
4) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
5) Sigur Rós – Sigur Rós Presents Liminal Sleep Top 3 Singles:
1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
2) Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry on Home”
3) Lizzo – “Tempo”
Top 5 Albums:
1) Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love
2) Mariee Sioux – Grief in Exile
3) Carolina Eyck – Elegies for Theremin & Voice
4) Julia Kent – Temporal
5) Rhiannon Giddens – There is No Other (with Francesco Turrisi)
Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
Mal Blum – Pity Boy
Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
Durand Jones and the Indications – American Love Call
Tony Molina – Songs from San Mateo County
Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated Top 3 Singles:
Brittany Howard – “Stay High”
Angel Olsen – “New Love Cassette”
Jacky Boy – “Get Along”
The year’s end is ripe for self-reflection, and the decade’s end, even more. It is easy to get inside your head; to obsess over the past and the things that may have been different had you kissed that person, taken that job, gone home just a little earlier that night. It’s more difficult to let things go.
Stef Chura’s sophomore LP Midnight is a step forward, away from the past, and it sees her rejecting old habits for new ones at every turn. Produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest, Chura speaks fondly about how working together was truly a collaboration. Like Car Seat Headrest’s re-recording of Twin Fantasy, some of the songs on Midnight are rewritten demos, and in both cases, adding new people into the mix makes these songs feel less alone. Their parallels don’t stop there; both artists have evolved by mixing their vocals closer, letting themselves be truly audible for the first time. Being open-minded to different angles and approaches let Chura explore musically what she’s been doing lyrically for years, whether that’s an added layer of percussion, or just having a second guitar player, or a few years of confidence to add a new perspective.
“Scream” explores those shifting points of view right away; it examines the concept of an idealized self and idealized versions of other people – so basically, Instagram. Chura is “dreaming of being nice,” yet longs to reveal her truest self, her fears, her frustrations, to someone else who will really see her (“You know me / But I’m lonely” she sings, laying that disconnect bare). Guitars, like lyrics, start and stop staccato – unfinished thoughts, so as not to offend, perhaps. She’s reintroducing herself to listeners and revealing something new about herself all at once.
Indeed, there’s something familiar about the tone of Midnight. Younger artists tend to be musical polyglots – drawing from every era, songs they remembered liking growing up. The entire history of a band can be read on Wikipedia in a matter of minutes, their entire discography just a click away. That’s become a strength: you have Car Seat Headrest namedropping Frank Ocean, James Brown, and They Might Be Giants in one song. You have Soccer Mommy covering Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and collaborating with Snail Mail on a rendition of mom car mixtape favorite Goo Goo Dolls. In ways that don’t feel obvious, Midnight draws from everything before Chura’s time. “They’ll Never” has a very college rock guitar jangle, while “All I Do Is Lie” feels like a spiritual sequel to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” thanks to Chura’s Karen O-esque warble. The album even ends with a cover of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face.”
Though she takes it in new directions, Chura is never totally unmoored from her past. “Love Song” uses a short and conversational approach reminiscent of some of her earlier work, and displays the trademark nervy humor (“Before I forget / Oh, they told me to write you a love song”) that initially endeared her to fans. On a more serious note, “Sweet Sweet Midnight” is about dreaming of a friend who passed away, waking to remember they’re not there; it was this person’s death that motivated Chura to record her 2017 debut Messes – a step toward a risk because, you know, life is short. The song muddles along, feeling its feelings. Yet the catharsis of the song is huge – Chura and Toledo shout-sing together, a key change so fast it’s like a splash of cold water.
“They’ll Never” is another kind of goodbye, one for an era and geographic location of Chura’s life. It’s an elegy, but also a damnation: “They’ll never tear this place apart.” Chura’s vowels stretch and waver, lyrical phrases stop and restart in places you don’t expect, like finding your belongings in a room they’re not supposed to be. Her lyrics are confessional, but you’d never know; they’re obscured on multiple layers on purpose. She understands them, but we can form our own impressions and opinions about them.
Chura is more overt on the album’s lead single “Method Man,” a side-eye to a man “Ripping up a box of books / He says I’ll never understand.” It’s measured for just over a minute, then a mood change – something driving, something wild; a repetitive, slightly off guitar tone persists throughout, a cluster headache of sound. Her sonic spontaneity may put her at odds with the predictable titular character, but it’s wise not to get too comfortable with Chura, who often takes the most unexpected routes available. On the whole, Midnight offers a goodbye to old ways, to old friends, old places. Letting go isn’t always about leaving it all behind; sometimes it’s about reexamining things from a new perspective and running wild with it. Midnight means a new day has started, after all.
Though some form of International Women’s Day has been around since 1909, the holiday celebrating women around the world has really gained traction over the last decade. This year’s theme was #BalanceForBetter, seeking to promote a more gender balanced world. Here’s how our favorite ladies in the music world celebrated.
Cardi B made a playlist on Apple Music for the occasion, featuring visionary women (including Grace Jones, Madonna, Tina Turner, and Solange).
Ariana Grande tweeted a short video by director Hanna Lux Davis, reminding everyone a few tweets later “it ain’t feminism if it ain’t intersectional.”
Rihanna looked powerful in a black blazer.
Miley Cyrus shouted out some of her favorite bad ass bitches:
… while Lady Gaga paid tribute to her mama.
Maggie Rogers and Mavis Staples both reminisced via this photo with Phoebe Bridgers and Brandi Carlile.
Dua Lipa had some tea for those who fall short of protecting human rights.
And Micropixie released a video for Como Mínimo (#YesIsTheMinimum), from her upcoming LP Dark Sight of the Moon, out April 9.
The Fallout of Leaving Neverland
The explosive HBO Documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged child abuse, Leaving Neverland, aired last weekend, and unsurprisingly, folks are divided on its message. Though the allegations are nothing new (Jackson settled a child abuse case out of court in 1994, and was acquitted in a similar case with a different victim in 2005) the harrowing testimonies of two men who say they were abused by Jackson when they were 7 and 10 are hard to dismiss. Radio stations have pulled Jackson’s enduring pop hits, The Simpsons producers have pulled iconic episode “Stark Raving Dad” from the syndication due to Jackson’s guest voice over, and a Chicago run of biographical jukebox musical “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was cancelled, though its team said this occurred due to scheduling difficulties and that they’ve set their sights on Broadway in 2020. Jackson’s daughter, Paris, seemed unfazed in a series of tweets in which she told folks to “chillax” – implying that even if Jackson’s legacy took a huge hit, his $500 million estate would ultimately be unaffected by the doc (though they’d previously filed a lawsuit to block it from airing). Meanwhile, debate continues to rage regarding blame placed on the victims’ parents, the degree to which Joe Jackson’s horrific behavior absolves his son’s various issues (including the alleged child abuse) and, of course, the idea that Jackson himself is an innocent victim of a slanderous campaign. One thing is certain: Jackson’s story is ultimately one of the saddest in pop music history, taking into account his tarnished childhood, various tabloid scandals, untimely death due to physician-sanctioned drug abuse – and it’s only compounded by the suffering of his alleged victims.
That New New
Solange has blessed the world with the (semi) surprise release of When I Get Home, her follow-up to 2016’s show-stopping A Seat at the Table.
Cementing their legacy as Jersey’s favorite pop punks, The Bouncing Souls released the second single from their forthcoming 30th anniversary EP Crucial Moments, out March 15. Their massive tour kicks off the next day at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall.
Vampire Weekend have shared two new tracks from their upcoming Father of the Bride LP, out in May
Mac DeMarco announced his next record Here Comes the Cowboy with a single called “Nobody,” giving Mitski fans a little déjà vu; both artists (and their shared PR team) say it’s just a coincidence.
Bedouine is back with a one-off single that reflects on the aftermath of her gorgeous 2017 self-titled debut.
SOAK has released another lovely singled from April 26 release Grim Town., announcing some US tour dates (including two at SXSW) to go with it.
Alan Vega’s final recordings have been released to benefit the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which provides teaching materials to educators seeking to engage students by teaching pop music history. The Suicide co-founder passed away in 2016.
Everyone loves a corgi – and that includes illuminati hotties, who are very honest about the fact that sometimes doggos are are the only thing keeping us in a mediocre relationship. They’ll be in Austin next week for SXSW.
Stef Chura has announced her sophomore record Midnight with its lead single “Method Man.”
Blushh shared a one-off single to get folks pumped for their upcoming SXSW dates as well.
Toronto punks Greys have announced third LP Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, out May 10, sharing its first single “These Things Happen.”
Rick from Pile remains the biggest babe in all of DIY indie rock; this week the band released their latest single and announced forthcoming LP Green and Gray, out May 3.
In other DIY news, Patio ready themselves for the April 5 release of Essentials with their latest track, “New Reality.”
NOTS have seemingly recovered from their recent lineup changes and shared the first single from their upcoming LP 3, out May 10. Two of its members are also releasing an LP this year as Hash Redactor.
The National have announced a new collaborative project with director Mike Mills entitled I Am Easy To Find. It’s essentially an hour-long companion album to a 24-minute short film of the same name starring Alicia Vikander. The first track on the album, “You Had Your Soul With You,” has some guest stars as well – Sharon Van Etten, Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, The Brooklyn Youth Choir, and longtime David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey lend vocals. The band have announced a bunch of tour dates with Courtney Barnett and Alvvays supporting.
Local Natives released two videos this week, one of which stars Kate Mara. Both will appear on the April 26 release of Violet Street, a follow-up to 2016’s Sunlit Youth; they’ve previously announced a slew of tour dates.
Sky Blue, a posthumous collection of unreleased material from celebrated singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, arrived March 7 to commemorate what would’ve been his 75th birthday.
Kishi Bashi returns with new LP Omoiyari on May 31, and has released the album’s first single, “Summer of ’42”.
Charly Bliss have shared a video for “Chatroom,” the second single from their upcoming record Young Enough, out May 10.
CupcakKe keeps it topical with a new single entitled “Bird Box,” referencing the recent Netflix horror movie and the Jussie Smollett controversy alike.
Having penned Grammy-nominated hits for Ariana Grande and Janelle Monae, Tayla Parx is poised to break out on her own with a highly anticipated solo debut on Atlantic Records, We Need to Talk, out April 5. Her latest video for “I Want You” follows earlier singles “Slow Dancing” and “Me vs. Us.”
Christian Fennesz, who records electronic music under his last name, returns to basics with a new 12-minute track called “In My Room,” from forthcoming 4-song LP Agora, out March 29.
Ahead of the April 12 release of No Geography, The Chemical Brothers share a video for “We’ve Got To Try.”
Festival faves Marshmello and CHVRCHES have collaborated on a sugary new single titled “Here With Me.”
Dido’s first record since 2013, Still on My Mind, is out today; her first tour in fifteen years hits the US in June.
The Prodigy singer Keith Flint was found dead of apparent suicide at the age of 49.
NYC concert-goers spontaneously burst into song on the ACE platform following a sold-out Robyn show at MSG.
Speaking of Robyn, she’s been announced as one of the headliners for Pitchfork Music Festival, which takes place in Chicago from July 19-21. HAIM and the Isley Brothers top Friday and Saturday’s bills respectively, with Stereolab, Mavis Staples, Belle & Sebastian, Earl Sweatshirt, Pusha T, Tirzah, Kurt Vile, Low, Julia Holter, Rico Nasty, Neneh Cherry, Snail Mail, Khruangbin, Soccer Mommy, Amber Mark, CHAI, and more set to play as well.
While we’re on the subject of festivals, Variety has leaked a potential lineup for Woodstock 50 and it’s not exactly overflowing with “heritage” acts; Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, and Black Keys look like likely headliners.
Elton John tweeted an definite release date in October 2019 for his upcoming memoir.
Massive Attack have rescheduled some of the North American Mezzanine reunion tour dates due to illness.
You can buy the hospital gown that Kurt Cobain wore during a legendary 1992 Reading Festival Nirvana performance for a mere $50,000.
L7’s Donita Sparks emerged as a hero when, in true punk fashion, Marky Ramone and Johnny Rotten nearly came to blows at a panel discussion on upcoming John Varvatos and Iggy Pop-produced Epix docu-series Punk.
Morrissey is taking his upcoming covers record California Sun to Broadway.
Taylor Swift stalker Roger Alvarado was arrested for breaking into the pop star’s home again, fresh off of a stint in jail for the same charge (bringing his Swift-related arrest total to three).
Arcade Fire will reportedly cover “Baby Mine” in Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo remake, and it’s a real family affair.
Mark your sundials – Red Hot Chili Peppers will stream a live concert from the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt on March 15.
This Saturday, April 21st is Record Store Day, a 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
When you’re new to the music industry, it can be really tough to crack the top ten of a critic’s year-end list. Oftentimes, the artists with the most accolades are established entities releasing their third, fourth, or tenth album, having a massive comeback after a decades-long absence, reinventing their sound or finally finding a niche and boring down into it, or waving goodbye for good.
And while old favorites (usually) deserve the attention they get, the unfortunate flip side of that is that newer artists sometimes get lost in the tide, even when their debuts manage to make some waves. Sometimes, the freshest new sounds are branded as novelty simply for their newness. And while a nascent artist’s staying power can only be proven over time, 2017 seems to have produced a flurry of future stars. Here are a dozen albums that threaten to disrupt the zeitgeist.
SZA – Ctrl (Top Dawg/RCA)
The long-awaited debut from neo-soul chanteuse Solána Imani Rowe, better known as SZA, has been well worth the excruciating process that brought it to fruition. Following three acclaimed EPs and co-writes on tracks from megastars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, SZA hunkered down in earnest to begin writing Ctrl, then under its working title A. Mired in the anxiety of producing something that would live up to the hype she’d already generated for herself, she painstakingly wrote and rewrote some 200 tracks; it’s rumored that her record label actually had to confiscate the hard drive which housed her material just before the LP’s June release, because otherwise, SZA may never have settled on anything. Lyrically, the album reflects SZA’s indecision as it relates to the process of coming into her own womanhood and navigating its attendant relationships and self-discovery, but ultimately lands squarely as a radical dissertation on feminine sexual power – the kind that demands respect, exacts revenge, and fucks solely for the sake of pleasure. SZA’s scathing honesty is softened by luxuriant, sometimes unusual production choices that bridge gaps between genres as far ranging as indie rock and trap, her infectious patois exhorting baes and besties to spark blunts and eat tacos one moment while questioning their motives the next. Whether channeling Tisha Campbell’s Gina or sampling the matriarchs of her own family, SZA dazzlingly represents the millennial iteration of strong female identity, and Ctrl is her powerful mission statement.
Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps (Dead Oceans)
As confessional singer-songwriters go, Angeleno twenty-something Phoebe Bridgers has an uncanny knack for rendering unforgettable heart-piercing details that, while they feel hyper-personal, evoke the kind of universal emotions capable of stopping listeners dead in their tracks with recognition. One potent example is “Funeral,” which begins with Bridgers planning to sing at a dead friend’s wake. Later, in a moment of listless, empty depression, she chides herself for moping with the starling realization that “Someone’s kid is dead,” but in the choruses, she resigns herself to “being blue” all the time; in another verse, she laughs off suicidal ideation while strings soar softly behind a delicately strummed guitar. Bridgers’ wispy voice has just enough grit to direct unexpected expletives toward cops in the midst of what is essentially a love song, or to implore a long-distance lover for nudes in “Demi Moore,” or to open “Motion Sickness” with the nonchalant vitriol of a line like “I hate you for what you did/And I miss you like a little kid.” Having made friends with the likes of Conor Oberst (who makes an appearance on “Would You Rather”) and Ryan Adams, the prospect of Bridgers whittling her songcraft into an even sharper point might be almost too much to handle.
Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens (Smalltown Supersound)
With its almost synaesthetic qualities, Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous debut taps into something subconscious, mysterious, and utterly absorbing. Its evocative sparseness gives the record the homemade warmth of a newish, naturally intuitive producer; much like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (who released her similarly lush sophomore LP The Kid this year), Owens builds worlds from the breathiness of her voice and a keen sense of depth, space, and light. Owens has a surprising ability to cull new sounds from familiar instruments, teasing an intangible nostalgia out of rarefied air. She can induce a trance with cascading marimba (as she does on “Bird”) just as easily as she does with droning sitar (on nine-minute closer “8”). Counterbalancing clubby numbers like “Cbm” (color, beauty, and motion) with dream pop bliss-outs like “S.O” and “Keep Walking,” each of these ten tracks radiates its own frequency squarely aimed at providing a blunted body buzz that feels satisfyingly therapeutic.
Sophia Kennedy – Sophia Kennedy (Pampa)
If ever there was a sucker for quirky art pop, I’m definitely one, and if ever there was a record that oozes the polka-dotted plastic charm of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Sophia Kennedy’s self-titled debut is it. With joyous abandon, Kennedy indulges every whimsical tendency she has to offer – husky vocals, playful poetic panache, and plucky piano lines abound – and then goes on to deliver “Being Special,” a direct ode to embracing her weirdness despite the isolation it can sometimes create. It’s as if Kennedy is attempting to soundtrack her own cartoon musical, replete with the occasional slide whistles, warped gongs, boingy spring sound effects, and gurgled psychedelic asides. But Kennedy isn’t all kitsch, using that buoyant energy to boost darkly observed truths about herself, her peers, and the everyday scenes that play out in the city around her.
Kelela – Take Me Apart (Warp)
Following up her explosive 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me with a studio debut four years in the making, Kelela pulls no punches on Take Me Apart, daring listeners and lovers alike to get to know her inside and out. Backed by fluttering Technicolor production, Kelela’s contemplative and deeply sensual turns of phrase explore desire and disappointment in equal measure. Minimal beats from collaborators Arca, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Jam City put Kelela’s buttery soprano front and center, making each of her missives seem that much more urgent, those sentiments hovering in the liminal spaces where fantasy meets reality.
Sloppy Heads – Useless Smile (Shrimper)
Produced by Yo La Tengo’s James McNew (and featuring YLT biographer Jesse Jarnow, along with Ariella Stok and Billy the Drummer), Useless Smile tickles all kinds of indie pop sweet spots. Not since Times New Viking has a band so gloriously vacillated between punch-drunk lo-fi ruckus and delicious post-shoegaze psych jams. Though album opener “U Suck” makes for an annoyingly juvenile introduction, that track turns out to be a false flag for what’s to come: the gentle, laconic reverb of “Suddenly Spills;” the smoky twang of “Always Running;” the interplay of insouciant organ and rumbling drone on “I’ll Take My Chances;” the title track’s hints of Mazzy Star meets K hole. When it comes to amalgamating the sound of a late-Nineties/early-aughts college rock royalty, Sloppy Heads certainly don’t slouch.
Bedouine – Bedouine (Spacebomb)
The songs on Azniv Korkejian’s debut as Bedouine are simple affairs that beg a hushed reverence. They are snapshots of moments you’d want to bask in, unsuspecting until they open and flourish like a rare night-blooming orchid. Listening to them feels similar to the comforts of coming home; the irony is that their progenitor spent most of her life globe-trotting. She was born in Aleppo, lived on an American compound in Saudi Arabia, and spent her adulthood bouncing between Boston, Houston, Austin, Savannah, Lexington, Kentucky and Los Angeles, where she currently resides and works as a sound editor on film projects. And though she’s adopted a moniker that harkens to her Middle Eastern heritage and her nomadic history, her self-titled debut is where she finally puts down roots. Working with Matthew E. White at Spacebomb Studios, Korkejian crafted timeless, traditional-sounding folk songs with an introspective, almost off-the-cuff approach that makes for a stunning introduction.
Sheer Mag – Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns RC)
Since 2014, Philly quintet Sheer Mag have been hard at work, reinventing Seventies classic rock with modern, punk-inflected ethos. Three bracing EPs and lots of buzz for their beloved live sets have certainly helped audiences acclimate themselves to the band’s lo-fidelity leanings, and Need to Feel Your Love delivers AOR’s feel-good trappings in abundance. But perhaps more importantly, nestled within that unabashed pastiche are truly subversive songs of protest railing against Trump-era policies of doom, death, and destruction. Tina Halladay’s snarl is truest when threatening corrupt politicians on “Expect the Bayonet” and most resilient when paying homage to the Stonewall rioters on “Suffer Me.” Gone are the problematic trappings of a genre that was always notorious for excluding voices like Halladay’s, and while she may not be interesting in soothing the white male rockist egos of yesteryear, Sheer Mag makes music that’s got the same soul.
Stef Chura – Messes (Urinal Cake)
2017 turned out to be the year that Detroit-based musician Stef Chura cleaned up. Re-working her best Bandcamp songs from some seven self-released albums, Chura made molehills into mountains on Messes, and then stood upon their peaks, yodeling her biting lyrics in the curious warble that’s become something of her trademark. Clearly informed by a love of the ‘90s alt-rock Chura grew up on, the album has some folksier inertia as well, like the iridescent “Human Being” or its final aching track, “Speeding Ticket.” Chura claims that she’s a perfectionist, but the album’s best moments are those that are flawed – say, when her voice cracks or she slurs her lyrics. Paired with the candid nature of her songwriting, this realism ultimately makes Chura more relatable. If Messes were a mirror, it might be cracked and dirty, but it would absolutely reflect the beauty of a chaotic life well-lived.
Nick Hakim – Green Twins (ATO)
In 2014, Nick Hakim posed a simple question via the title of a two-part EP: Where Will We Go? Already bursting with potential, it took three years and a stint at Berklee College of Music for Hakim to find his direction, but the sprawling, euphoric Green Twins makes it clear he’s on another plane entirely. Surreal grooves float in a warm haze of unexpected, quirky production flourishes that make them endlessly endearing; stray piano here, a distended vocal loop there, an occasional burst of brass, doo-wop drum machine reverb throughout. But it’s Hakim’s soulful croon that connects and cuts the deepest, his breathy register perfect for the many intimate realizations that comprise his love-stoned lyrics. Green Twins has the same homemade eccentricity of vintage Ariel Pink or Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but Hakim’s music feels far more earnest, more inventive, and certainly more dreamlike, an opportunity to poke around in one man’s gauzy, pulsating subconscious. Due in large part to those sensual qualities, it activates an almost instinctual response to stay and explore a little longer.
L’Rain – L’Rain (Astro Nautico)
Though multi-instrumentalist Brooklynite Taja Cheek’s solo debut turned into something of a treatise on mourning, it’s not as immediately obvious as say, Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked At Me. That’s because Cheek was almost finished with L’Rain when she lost her mother Lorraine (from whom she takes her stage name) to sudden illness; it’s comprised of Cheek’s field recordings and Soundcloud snippets going back several years, making it somewhat tricky to pin down. Certainly indebted to free jazz as much as it is bedroom-produced dream pop, fluttering vocal loops rewind through spritely guitar arpeggios, Cheek’s vocals like some version of herself refracted, a Gaussian blur of her matrilineal roots. The soupy “Bat” gives way to a tumultuous vignette of “Alive and a Wake,” which itself gives way to a field recording of a storefront church on “Benediction,” which then gives way to the album’s mesmerizing carousel of a lead single, “A Toes (Shelf Inside Your Head).” This collage-like assembly amounts to a dizzying meditation on the inexorable march of time, its fragments wafting in and out like distant memories; in that way, it’s a fitting tribute to loved ones lost, even if L’Rain keeps those parameters pretty loose.
Hoops – Routines (Fat Possum)
Though its title suggests stability and even monotony, Hoops’ debut record was born of anything but routine; in fact, it’s the direct result of founding member Drew Auscherman shaking things up. Initially conceived as Auscherman’s direct to four-track solo bedroom recordings – Hoops’ three cassette-only releases are now available as a compilation – he welcomed longtime pals Kevin Krauter and Keagan Beresford into the fold. It wasn’t a move solely meant to up the ante on Hoops’ salt-of-the-Earth Midwestern image, though all three are the sort of nice Indiana boys you’d introduce to your mother; as a trio, they co-wrote the songs on Routines and swap instruments with aplomb when playing live. Signing to Fat Possum also put some legitimate dream pop shine on Auscherman’s formerly lo-fi affair, though the project still retains its homemade charm. While Auscherman may have been set in his ways, it was a wholly newfound approach that made Hoops a breakout band in 2017.
Established in 1926 to prevent unlicensed dancing in NYC bars, New York’s “Cabaret Law” is finally on its last legs after City Council voted Tuesday to end it. Many have been quick to point out that the antiquated law is like something out of Footloose, inappropriate for such a progressive, cosmopolitan city. While the law has been less strictly enforced since Rudy Giuliani used it to crack down on “rowdy” nightclubs nearly two decades ago, it still a red-tape nightmare for venues, bars and clubs – especially, say its critics, those run by and for marginalized groups, such as LGBT, Black, and Latinx communities. Now that City Council has voted to repeal, Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to approve the measure to officially end the 91-year old restriction.
The Country Music Association Bans Questions On Gun Rights, Then Rescinds its Gag Rule
Next week is the annual Country Music Association Awards, and the organization drew criticism this week when it warned reporters covering the event not to ask artists about so-called sensitive issues – specifically, “gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like.” They threatened reporters who defied these guidelines with loss of credentials and removal from the event, but eventually rescinded the gag order when taken to task by artists and media via Twitter – including the show’s host, Brad Paisley. While the country music scene has often touted gun ownership rights, a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival last month has caused some musicians to reverse their opinions and call for stricter gun control. To compound to issue, the head of the powerful country music PR firm that represents NRA Country (as well as artists like Dolly Parton and Kid Rock, who have since severed ties) is embroiled in a sexual assault scandal.
“I’m sorry, I’m in the middle of the desert,” Stef Chura tells me, after our call has dropped off for the third time. Chura, who has been on tour with her band since August 28th, is driving through Texas to meet up with Jay Som in El Paso. Then, she tells me, they’ll “maybe go to a hot spring.” They were hoping to go camping, but it’s raining now.
My whole call with Chura is like this: casual, wandering, warm. As we catch up before her Columbus show at Skully’s Music Diner on 10/4, she tells me about the “hard Canadian bagels” they ate in Montreal, and the park they relaxed in before their show. Another time, Chura recalls, they played at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which she describes as “ a crazy museum, and the venue is a little stage inside the actual art piece.” Next she mentions a time that the “sex shop” located next to their venue had a “tunnel of love” made up of a rickety bridge and turning swirly lights. But not all of their tour has been this fun and breezy. Chura describes a show in Madison, Wisconsin, when a man walked up in front of the crowd to heckle her. “He can really play!” the man shouted, referring to Chura’s touring bassist, Collin Dekuiper. “Can you play like him?”
At a different gig, Chura says, “I was standing right next to [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Dekuiper], and the sound guy walked up to the stage. And I could tell he wanted to talk to the bass player so much more than me.” Things like this “just happen,” Chura tells me. But at this point in her career, Chura is too focused on her music to talk about her gendered experiences in the music industry for long. “I think I’m starting to get bleaker as I get older,” she says.
And the music that Chura makes is worth focusing on. Messes, her debut album, is pointed and thoughtful, with expansive arrangements and rumbling guitar riffs. Since the release, Chura and her band have recorded a live EP with Audiotree – recordings with as much air and sprawl as Messes, but infused with the urgency captured during a live performance. Lyrically, Chura drifts through and between varied characters, scenes, and metaphors. “I don’t write in a story-line,” she tells me, “so a lot of the songs are more chaotic for me […] one verse will be about one thing, and another part of the song will be about something completely different.”
What pulls Chura’s lyrics together, however, is her continued exploration of the power dynamics that mold and complicate human interactions. Chura says that when she wrote Messes, she “thought about the songs as having such different content, [but] when they were all together and I was talking to more people about the songs, I realized that there was a theme that I hadn’t expected to be there. The songs are not mostly about romantic relationships, and [are] mostly about power struggles in my life.” Yet Chura’s work is not always read within this nuanced framework. She tells me about one review of Messes’ stand-out “Slow Motion” that particularly impacted her after the reviewer read the song as about “a crush and romance.” “I was super devastated that that’s what my whole music career was going to be like,” she says, “that people were going to think I was just some love-struck girl, writing about my crushes.
A deep-dive into her work reveals that Chura is anything but “love-struck.” While examining power and control, Chura never loses her grasp of intentionality. It’s this self-awareness, nestled within her densely descriptive lyrics, that drew me into her music in the first place. “There you were / Falling through / my hands like sand,” Chura sings on “Faded Heart.” It’s a spare lyric, but an effective one––dry, textured imagery balances the saccharine potential of the song’s title. In fact, Chura tells me, that lyric was inspired by a Joni Mitchell documentary she found at the dollar store.
“It was a really amazing documentary to be only a dollar,” she says, laughing. Chura explains to me that the documentary explored, in part, one of Mitchell’s romantic break-ups, and the letter that break-up produced. In the letter, Chura says, Mitchell wrote “something like: ‘if you hold sand in your hands too tightly, it will just fall through.’” That image stuck with Chura, eventually insinuating itself into the album. But Chura’s approach to the lyric, as always, was rooted in something more complicated than just a crush. “I wrote that song about my friend who passed away,” she says.
Chura’s on the longest tour of her career right now, but as she talks, she seems as motivated as ever. “We’re playing new stuff right now,” she says, “and we’re actually making a new record when we get [back] to Detroit. We definitely have enough stuff for our new album.” Along with the new material, the band has tweaked a few things for their performances: adding bass lines where songs didn’t have them, etc. “Also,” Chura jokes, “I pause ‘Time to Go’ to do the splits. “
Along with recording the new album, once home in Detroit, Chura will pick up her karaoke business, which gets put on hold during tour. “[I’ll] have three nights at a couple of bars throughout town,” she tells me. She’s a true karaoke believer: organizing each night doesn’t stop Chura from participating too. “You really have to [sing] the song you’re feeling,” she says. And right now, what she’s feeling is “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. “It’s such a good song!” she says, laughing. “It’s a song that nobody wants to know the lyrics to but they do. And it’s a little embarrassing.”
Chura tells me that the new album, like Messes, will mix new songs with older material. “I was feeling pressure that all of the songs had to be brand new,” she says, “but that’s not true. It’s kind of nice to work with the old stuff.” Opening up the time-frame of the album has worked for Chura before. “Speeding Ticket,” the oldest song on her debut album, is an understated recording with devastating, visceral lyrics.
At first, Chura says, she was “ashamed” to tell people she had written the song ten years ago. But she still really likes playing the song. “I’m not really bothered,” says Chura. “I was self-conscious at first but […] it’s a good song.” It’s true––it is a good song. Listening to “Speeding Ticket” feels like the few sleepy moments spent under covers after waking up, or the quiet warmth of a day inside during winter.
I think about how long Chura has been writing, and how many opportunities she has had to stop. Ultimately, this is what I love about Chura’s music, and about the unaffected, thoughtful way she speaks over the phone: she has put a lifetime of work into constructing her sound and her songs, and she knows it.
Quickly rising as Detroit’s DIY pensive pop priestess, Stef Chura and her captivatingly peculiar lo-fi sensibilities shine and burn playfully in her latest video for “Spotted Gold,” the third single from her debut album Messes due out January 27. Chura’s candy-colored, battery acid coated disharmonious world beckons late 90’s MTV feels complete with pop-star commercialization and her signature voice, which teeters between collapse and eruption, finds its visual counterpart in “Spotted Gold.” The colors change quickly like the tuning of an old television set as does the wardrobes of Chura and her bandmates as if to But the most strikingly unsettling element is the montage of
The colors change quickly like the tuning of an old television set as does the wardrobes of Chura and her bandmates. But the most striking element is the montage of rapid-fire imagery depicting activities that are considered taboo (smashing a mirror) and bad judgment calls (pouring milk on a laptop) to completely self-destructive behaviors (drinking poison and playing finger/knife roulette) all of which end as badly as one might imagine. The aesthetic is clean, perhaps even sterile, but in Chura’s sugary torment, is messily sincere. It’s easy to interpret “Spotted Gold” as a mischievous night out or miscalculated reckless relationship but the lyrics: “Spotted gold turned black and blue” reveal that perhaps Chura’s sand-in-the-eyes, hand-on-the-stove universe is less of a lark than it is a tale of emotional masochism and that when a good thing goes bad, well, maybe we are more in control than we think.
No, your toaster doesn’t need a bath. Keep tinfoil out of your microwave and check out Stef Chura’s series of unfortunate events in “Spotted Gold” below:
There’s something unidentifiably exciting about Stef Chura. It would be an easy out to say her warbled, playful vocal contortions are the key to her aforementioned excitability, which are undoubtedly fearless and perfectly flawed. Last month, I referred to her vocal playground as one crafted by Karen O meets Johnathon Richman, but with the recent release of “Slow Motion” off of her up and coming album Messes, I can see how I quickly generalized her aesthetic. Chura creates space and fills it with confessionary uncertainty. What Chura is doing is entirely all her own.
“Slow Motion” encapsulates personal frustration and manages to make a lo-fi cry for clarity anthemic for anyone who has ever wanted to control the speed of their own reality. The lyrics “you bottle/me in your pocket and explode/give me something/and I don’t know what it’s for/and right when it starts/ to feel like home/it’s time to go” paints an universal exploration of impermanence in feeling comfortable with ourselves as individuals, as well as our comfortability as a piece of our respective social quilt. With Ryan Clancy on drums and producer Fred Thomas on bass, Chura’s vocals are practically framed by the jumpy, hazy rhythms allowing her to use her beautifully tortured voice to maim and repair parts of the song at her leisure.
The video, which is a desaturated Microsoft Paint snack party in Detroit’s UFO Factory bathroom (inarguably the most popular bar bathroom for selfies) poses Chura as an unenthused guest of honor surrounded by balloons, toilet snacks, and a listless oversized stuffed bear. Shot by internationally acclaimed digital artist and Detroit implant Molly Soda, “Slow Motion” is a vivid collaboration between wanting to feel part of a whole and wanting to fall apart, whisked together with whimsy and an old screensaver from the 90’s. The party gets tripped out and psychedelically rambunctious as the guests go crazy with silly string and happy face balloons that seem melancholic in context. The video is a play on party culture and for Detroiters, gives a voice to an iconic space while touching base with those deep-rooted sad girl vibes, that need someone like Chura to portray with sincerity and unapologetic malaise.