Σtella Incorporates Vintage Greek Sounds Into New LP Up and Away

Photo Credit: Dimitra Tzanou

With her latest album, Up and Away, out June 17 via Sub Pop Records, Σtella has been diving deep into the influence of mid-20th century Greek music. In a way, it is a rediscovery of music that had been a part of the Athens-based singer’s youth.

“When you listen to something since you were very young, you’re kind of sick of it in a way. You don’t give it much credit,” says Σtella on a recent Zoom call. But, perhaps like a lot of music listeners, those songs heard during childhood hit differently years later. Σtella herself returned to the music of artists like Grigoris Bithikotsis and Tzeni Vanou, both Greek singers who came to prominence during the 1960s. 

“Maybe it has to do with just the fact that it’s something that I listened to and it’s in my head, but I hadn’t found a way to recreate it or to appreciate it before,” she says. “Lately, I’ve been finding these songs that I was probably listening to when I was 10, because of my parents and their friends. I’m listening to these songs again now and I’m like woah, this is a masterpiece. But, it took a long time to listen to them like that again.”

Since the release of her 2015 self-titled debut, Σtella has developed a reputation for synthesizer-tinged indie pop. On Up and Away, though, she steers the music in a different direction, incorporating Greek instruments to create something that is, at times, extremely funky and a little psychedelic, giving a modern twist to classic sounds. 

The genesis of Up and Away began in 2018, right after Σtella finished work on her 2020 album, The Break. She had been listening to a lot of music from the Texas-based band Khruangbin, who themselves are influenced by global funk and psychedelic music. She met producer Tom Calvert, also known as Redinho, who had an interest in Iranian music and had spent time in Greece. “The stars were aligned,” says Σtella. “Initially, Tom sent me some instrumentals, which I really loved. I loved the vintage sound.”

To round out the production, they brought in Christos Skondras on bouzouki, a Greek musical instrument that’s part of the lute family, and Sofia Labropoulou on kanun, a zither-like instrument that’s used in Greece and throughout the Middle East. “Working with these two musicians really gave the album a lot of color and gave so much to the sound,” says Σtella. “I’m so grateful that we worked together.” 

With Skondras on the bouzouki, Σtella was able to create a vibe that reflects music heard in her formative years. “Growing up, I was listening to a lot of my parents’ old records and to a lot of bouzouki,” she says. “Bouzouki is carved in my head as a sound. Even on my past albums, I was playing guitars and trying to make them sound a little bit like the tone that the bouzouki has, but I was never brave enough before to actually record a bouzouki.”

She adds, “Because I’m Greek, for me, it’s also weird to choose an instrument that I’ve seen so much all my life and listened to my whole life.”

In collaborating with Calvert, though, she was able to do that. “I always say that I think it’s funny that a British person convinced me to put a bouzouki in an album,” says Σtella. 

Σtella crafted the melodies for Up and Away before the instruments were brought into the process. “What happened was something that happens in traditional Greek music with bouzouki,” she explains. “The bouzouki kind of follows the melody of the vocals. That’s something that’s pretty standard in old ‘50s and ‘60s Greek songs that have bouzouki.”

Progress on the album was slow moving, as Σtella and Calvert collaborated remotely while she was in Greece and he was in the U.K. Then, after completing work on the album, COVID-19 hit and Σtella learned that Arbutus, the label that had released The Break, would not be able to handle her follow-up. 

“I was devastated, obviously, in the beginning,” she says. But, Σtella adds, she made a decision to not get “too upset” about the setback and to start reaching out to people in search of a new label. “I think it took two months and I sent an insane amount of emails. I was emailing labels every day and people every day,” she says. In May of 2020, she heard from Sub Pop, who was already the publisher of her music, that the Seattle-based label wanted to discuss releasing Up and Away

For the album’s title track, Σtella draws from Greek musical history in a video that she directed, with illustrations by Yokanima and animation by Yokanima and George Kontos. The clip follows two Greek musicians as they leave a gig, encounter Nazi soldiers on a street and escape through a race track. It’s inspired by a true story from World War II.

Another highlight from the album is “Another Nation,” where Σtella turns up the Mediterranean funk heat while singing about her ambition to branch out as a musician. 

“When I was writing new songs, I was really hoping that I would, in some way, leave Greece,” says Σtella. “I think this song is about my excitement with the idea of leaving my country, not completely leaving the country, but trying to be in a more global conversation musically with this album, trying to be part of a bigger picture.” With Up and Away, she does exactly that. 

Follow Σtella on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

Vocal Powerhouse Shaina Shepherd Brings Seattle Together with “Never Be Another You”

Photo Credit: Rachel Bennet Photography

When singer Shaina Shepherd was growing up in Tacoma, she savored the opportunity to watch her mom sing in church. It was there, belting on-stage with the choir, where her mother would “shine”—and where Shepherd learned what was possible for herself, too.

“I could see her be her true self,” she tells Audiofemme. “[It] got me thinking about who I wanted to be.”

Today, Shepherd’s the one on stage, drawing in joyful eyes. Since moving to Seattle in 2014, she has turned heads as the powerful lead vocalist in Seattle rock outfit, Bearaxe, in her own Shaina Shepherd Band, and most recently, as the solo performer of “Never Be Another You,” a cover of the soulful 2016 hit from Lee Fields & The Expressions.

Shepherd’s version of “Never Be Another You,” released November 18th, is the result of a collaboration between major Seattle businesses Nordstrom and Sub Pop, the work of community-minded nonprofits like Black Fret and Africatown Community Land Trust, and the talent of a cast of additional Seattle music greats. “Never Be Another You,” is featured prominently in Nordstrom’s 2021 “Closer to You” holiday campaign and will benefit the Seattle nonprofit Africatown Community Land Trust.

Doing community work that brings together and benefits Seattle musicians and beyond is not an uncommon for Shepherd. In fact, after she moved to Seattle and began to get noticed in Bearaxe, she also began to develop an in-person and live stream concert series called Artist’s Way to benefit the local music industry that had been so disrupted during the pandemic.

“It happened because [local musicians] needed a gig. Our gigs got cancelled because of the pandemic and we just ended up building our own concert. That project has kind of continued throughout the pandemic and grew and… it also gave me an opportunity to continue to work on my craft and become a better singer through the concept we were building,” she says.

Artist Way’s impact attracted the attention of heavyweights on the Seattle music scene, like Ben London, founder of Seattle’s Black Fret, a nonprofit dedicated to helping local musicians thrive and whom Shepherd had previously connected with during her time with Bearaxe.

“During the pandemic I ended up getting to work with Ben a little bit more and he’s always trying to build opportunities for artists and musicians to get work. He built an opportunity to commission a song for Nordstrom,” she says. “They saw, and were inspired by, what I was doing in my community and building programs and also the way I sing. So they built this all-star band of people who are Seattle music legends. We just got in the studio and recorded a song. And the song turned out really great. We all loved it. Then Megan Jasper at Sub Pop said… they would put it out.”

The lively and uplifting single, which Shepherd recorded at ExEx Studio and Avast Studios in Seattle, features a cast of Seattle music greats including guitarist Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan Band, Sera Cahoone), Michael Musburger on drums (Damien Jurado), Ty Bailie on keys (MudHoney), and mastering by Ed Brooks (Death Cab for Cutie). And, per Shepherd’s wishes, all proceeds earned from the sale and streaming of the single are going to to Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT), a nonprofit based in Seattle’s Central District, which empowers and preserves the Black Diaspora community in the area through land ownership, development, and stewardship.

“I suggested Africatown because they have been, during this pandemic, during the protests over at CHOP, they have been really popping out to me and inspiring me to keep going, to keep moving. So I was like, my heart is telling me to get back to them and everyone agreed that they are awesome and doing great work,” explains Shepherd.

Shepherd will follow up “Never Be Another You,” with the release of her pre-recorded KEXP webcast on December 22. And, in 2022, Shepherd hopes to release a debut record with the Shaina Shepherd band, which formed after the shutdown.

“I want to put out a body of work that represents the times I’ve had through 2020. I have a whole bunch of tunes. When I was in the middle of the pandemic, I didn’t have anybody to play with. But I found these guys—James Squires, Dr. Quinn, and Nick Jessen. And you know… they’ve imbued themselves into the songs [I wrote by] myself in isolation.” says Shepherd. “So, shout out to my first band ever, and then shout out to Black Fret… and shout out to Sub Pop and Nordstrom for giving me the support that I needed to have some kind of impact. Seattle’s my hometown now!”

Follow Shaina Shepherd on Instagram for ongoing updates.


Welcome to Audiofemme’s monthly record review column, Musique Boutique, written by music journo vet Gillian G. Gaar. Every fourth Monday, Musique Boutique offers a cross-section of noteworthy reissues and new releases guaranteed to perk up your ears.

TEKE::TEKE’s Shirushi (Kill Rock Stars) is a wonderous musical potpourri. One minute it’s raging indie rock, next you’re dropped into a surf rock setting, followed by the kind of twanging guitar that brings an Enrico Morricone soundtrack to mind. It’s a whirling dervish of delightful sounds.

The seven piece, Montreal-based group started out as a Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi tribute act, assembled for a one-off gig at a psychedelic music festival (Terauchi being a legendary Japanese rock guitarist). The performance generated such excitement, they decided to stay together, quickly adding original music to the mix. The blend of Western rock gear (guitars, bass) with Japanese instruments (koto, shamisen, shinobue) gives the band a distinctive sound, unique and intoxicating.

Each number is rather like a mini-movie of its own. “Dobugawa” is a romantic, languid number, enhanced by the cool, whispery vocals of Maya Kuroki. But don’t be fooled; the wild “Barbara” comes tearing in right after, with Kuroki morphing into a bold, confident singer to match the propulsiveness  of the music. “Kizashi” has a hypnotic, industrial drone. The remarkable “Kaminari” starts out in a folk-influenced vein, before the sound drops out entirely, and a short flute line leads into a gorgeous, largely acapella vocal from Kuroki, before a sort of Euro-surf rock beat takes over (and all in four minutes!). This is creative cross-pollination at its finest, TEKE::TEKE busting through musical boundaries to come up with something truly imaginative.

Moon’s Shine is so mighty, you’d never guess such a thunderous sound could come from just two people: LA-based musicians Chelsea Dawn (vocals, drums) and Dan Silver (guitars, synths). The title track, which opens the EP, is a glorious stomper, Dawn delivering the good news with righteous fervor, as the musical backing steadily escalates from a single pounding beat, then ushering in the guitars, keyboards, and other noise to rock it all up. “Never Cross Me” is just as bracing, a fiery proclamation of strength. “When it comes to life experiences, we both have many stories to tell,” is how Silver puts it, “and some days you just don’t want to mess with us.” Point taken.

It’s not all sturm und drang; the rest of this release is more lowkey, though the intensity of Dawn’s vocals means there’s always an undercurrent of tension. “Sweetest Magic” and “My Oh My (I’ll Take You Home)” are love songs of exquisite yearning. “Down By the Water” is a slow-burning number about the true salvation that comes from within: “Down by the water, down by the sea/I found religion/the religion is me.” This is soulful gothic rock that reaches out and grabs you.

There’s a song on Chai’s third album, Wink (Sub Pop), that’s actually titled “Nobody Knows We Are Fun.” Well, that’s something that could only be possible if you’d never heard anything by this Japanese foursome (two pairs of twin sisters), as even the briefest listen to one of their songs makes it clear that their prime directive is to keep the party going.

In comparison to the exuberance of their previous albums, Pink and Punk, Wink is more restrained (the words “mellowest,” “minimal” and “introspective” crop up in the press release). This is a reflection of how the album was created, the band members collaborating over the phone and on Zoom, and recording using Garageband. “Donuts Mind If I Do” is a laidback ramble. “Wish Upon a Star” is a sweet lullaby, with singer Mana only backed by a single pulsating beat, a bit of keyboard, and vocal harmonies from the rest of the group. The cool “Maybe Chocolate Chips,” written by Yuuki, recasts her moles as chocolate chips (“I’m a fickle cookie/Bitter coffee makes it even more sexy”), with Chicago rapper Ric Wilson dropping in to add a bit of an edge.

Then there’s the flipside. The lively “PING PONG!,” with its video game beats and beeps, references a game the band members couldn’t play during the pandemic. The bright “ACTION” was inspired by watching TV coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US. The light pop of “It’s Vitamin C” (it opens with a giggle) is a breezy delight. This is a record that celebrates life’s simple pleasures, from salty salmon rice balls to wearing pink.

Seventeen years after the release of Talk Show, the Go-Go’s finally went back into the studio to make a fourth album, God Bless The Go-Go’s. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the album’s been reissued on Eagle Records. It’s a sweet pop treat that’s perfectly timed for summer release, providing just the right soundtrack for those carefree, sunny days.

The opening blast of “La La Land” is like an update of “We Got the Beat,” a pen portrait of Southern California life with its allusions to earthquakes and the vagaries of fame. This is a more robust Go-Go’s, the band’s musical chops tighter and tougher, songs like “Stuck in My Car” (another very LA experience) and “Throw Me a Curve” honed until they bristle. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong even drops by to co-write, play, and sing on the brisk “Unforgiven.” It’s the first time the album’s been released on vinyl, and the CD/digital versions feature two bonus tracks, “I Think I Need Sleep” and “King of Confusion.”

MUSIQUE BOUTIQUE: Jessie Wagner, Loma and MORE

Welcome to Audiofemme’s monthly record review column, Musique Boutique, written by music journo vet Gillian G. Gaar. Every fourth Monday, Musique Boutique offers a cross-section of noteworthy reissues and new releases guaranteed to perk up your ears.

You might have encountered Jessie Wagner fronting her NYC-based rock and soul band Army of the Underdog. Or maybe you caught her as a backing vocalist in the touring bands of artists like Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, Chic, Lenny Kravitz, or Duran Duran, among others. But now she steps out on her own with her first solo album, Shoes Droppin’ (Wicked Cool Records). It was, in fact, Wagner’s gig with Stevie Van Zandt that led to her being signed to his own label; he calls her an artist whose “music is eclectic and unique and impossible to categorize.” Which is what makes her album such a pleasure to listen to.

Shoes Droppin’ opens with the gospel fervor of the title track, which is based on Wagner’s own experiences in coping with the sudden ill health of a loved one, a situation that resonates even deeper today. “What have I done to deserve all this?” goes the song’s recurrent plea, matched by a wailing harmonica. But it’s a song rooted in strength; Wagner sings lyrics like “This burden has gotten too hard to bear/Tell me Lord, are you still there?” with such force, it’s clear she’s not going anywhere until she gets an answer. The thoughtful “Caretaker” honestly addresses the difficulties that arise when one has to step in that role. Balancing the angst is “Lover’s Lullaby,” a hopeful, gentle number offering comfort.

Wagner cites Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings as influences on “End of Time” and “My Darlin’, My Dear,” respectively, and she certainly hits the same retro-soul/jazz vibe that they do. She’s at turns introspective; “Great One” is an acoustically driven piece about artistic insecurity, a topic that’s also the theme of “Passin’ Me By,” something you might overlook as you’re carried along by the buoyant brass arrangement. Horns are even more to the forefront in “Over and Over,” a playful number about succumbing to temptation; “You might be the one to change my ways,” she teases. She closes with another confessional number, “What You Get,” a song about admitting one’s faults and vowing to do better, with the brisk beat underscoring its mood of forgiveness. Wagner’s warm, rich voice is a versatile instrument, making her able to navigate the realms of rock, soul, and jazz with ease. It’s a personal record, but one that has stories that everyone can relate to.

The music of Loma is the perfect musical accompaniment as the heat of summer gives way to the coolness of fall. It’s enigmatic, and a bit mysterious, creating a sense of anticipation for what might come next. Then there’s the album’s title, Don’t Shy Away (Sub Pop). It’s something that extends an invitation: don’t be afraid, come inside.

Loma was something of a side project between Cross Record’s Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski, and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg (Cross sings, and all three members play instruments). The group released a self-titled album in 2018, followed by a tour that climaxed with a set at Sub Pop’s SPF 30 festival (celebrating the label’s 30th anniversary). The band thought the show might be their last; as Cross put it, “It was the biggest audience we’d ever had. We thought, why not stop here?” But after they’d gone their separate ways, they found they missed each other. They also got a bit of unexpected inspiration when they learned that Brian Eno told a BBC radio listenership that he kept the band’s “Black Willow” on repeat. So what else could they do but reconvene?

This is an album that casts its spell in a slow, insinuating fashion. “Fix My Gaze” is the stark, cryptic, opener, Cross’ clear, high voice set against the spare instrumentation. This song of imprisonment leads naturally to “Ocotillo,” a droning, modern day road song, the steady beat eventually giving way to a cacophonous clatter as Cross celebrates her freedom: “All my ties are broken, I’m in wonderful disarray,” taking that last syllable up to the sky. Despite the omnipresence of synthesizers, there’s a strong organic feel to the record thanks to piano and violin, Cross’ clarinet, and the gorgeous harmonies of songs like “Thorn” and “Elliptical Days.” Appropriately, the final touch was given to Eno, who mixed the closing track, “Homing,” a number offering the calming feeling of a prayer. This album works like a tonic on the restless mind, drawing you in and leaving you refreshed.

Right Back Where We Started From: Female Pop & Soul in Seventies Britain (RPM Records) is the natural follow up to the label’s earlier set, Am I Dreaming? 80 Brit Girls Sounds of the Sixties. The title track is Maxine Nightingale’s soul pop classic that became an international hit, and sets the stage for a collection of enticing treats.

Well-known names pop up throughout. Yvonne Elliman, whose hits include “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “If I Can’t Have You,” shows off her harder-rocking side on a cover of the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” (with Pete Townshend on guitar). Dusty Springfield’s sublime rendition of “Spooky” is a masterclass in sophisticated cool. There’s the unexpected delight of discovering that Eartha Kitt actually covered Donovan (“Hurdy Gurdy Man”). Fans of the stylish ‘60s TV series The Avengers will note the name of Linda Thorson, who played “Tara King” on the show, delving into dreamy pop on “You Will Want Me.”

There’s even more fun to be found among the acts that are lesser known (especially in the US). Margie Miller takes the sultry “Fever,” and whips it into an uptempo slice of funk that’s irresistible (record collectors have paid over $100 for this single, so it’s great to have it available on a more reasonably priced collection). A powerful, versatile singer, Miller also appears on the poppy “Ninety-Nine Ways,” originally released under the alias Etta Thomas. Ruth Swann gives a Motown-flavored spin to “Tainted Love” (originally recorded by Gloria Jones; Soft Cell’s cover came in 1981). The wonderfully named Mother Trucker come on all bold and brassy on “Explosion in My Soul.” And you will never hear “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” the same way again once you hear the absolutely killer version by the Chanter Sisters, who also appear on this set credited as Birds of a Feather, burning their way through “Leaving the Ghetto.” As an added bonus, RPM’s usual great liner notes are packed with information.

Why It’s Time to Revisit 2000 Saint Etienne Album Sound of Water

Photo Credit: Rob Baker Ashton

Twenty years ago, Saint Etienne released Sound of Water. It was the fifth full-length album for the British trio of Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs and it was an ever-so-slight departure for a band that had spent the 1990s at the intersection of indie pop and dance music. On the jacket notes, music journalist Simon Reynolds wrote, “Saint Etienne understand that ‘lovely’ is the new edge.” At the time, the album was touted as a pop take on what was then happening in underground electronic music.

For Sound of Water, Saint Etienne collaborated with To Rococo Rot, the German band that had garnered its own following in the late ’90s for their post-rock-inflected electronic music. They also worked with Sean O’Hagan, of the bands Mircrodisney and The High Llamas, who had played on beloved Stereolab albums like Mars Audiac Quintet and Emperor Tomato Ketchup. With that line-up, Sound of Water was a very heady indie outing that would go on to foreshadow the emerging century in unexpected ways.

By the dawn of the 21st century, Saint Etienne was firmly established as a cult band. Stanley and Wiggs emerged in the early ’90s with “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” a radical transformation of the 1970 Neil Young song into a cover that was ethereal, groovy and representative of the era when rock, pop and rave lovingly collided. Originally conceived as a duo with rotating vocalists, Saint Etienne introduced Cracknell to the fold with their third single, “Nothing Can Stop Us” (Moira Lambert sang on “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”). As a trio, they would go on to create a body of work that often alternated between indie pop with a vintage vibe and contemporary dance music. They had their share of club hits, notably with “He’s On the Phone,” a collaboration with French singer Étienne Daho, and wooed the college radio crowd with their 1998 album Good Humor, released on beloved labels Creation in U.K. and Sub Pop in the U.S.

Saint Etienne was in the midst of a creative peak; the previous year, they had released the EP Places to Visit, which featured the wistful house track “We’re in the City,” known to indie film fans for its use in But I’m a Cheerleader. Just a few weeks after the release with Sound of Water, the band was featured on Paul van Dyk’s single, “Tell Me Why (The Riddle),” which remains their biggest international chart hit. With all that they had been doing, one might have expected for Saint Etienne to drop an album of dance floor bangers. Instead, they took time to hang out in the chill out room. It was a cool move from a band that had long been full of those.

Reviews, however, were mixed. Pitchfork said it was “ear-candy all the way through.” Meanwhile, AV Club remarked,” Saint Etienne has acknowledged a strong Krautrock influence on Sound Of Water, but it would be better off staying in touch with its inner ABBA rather than its inner Can.”

Even Stanley would have his own criticisms of the project. Nine years later, he reflected on the album in an interview with Pitchfork. “Coming into 2000, we were listening to a lot of electronica, some German and sort of West Coast electronica at the time, and we wanted to do something in that vein, production-wise,” he said in the interview, “And again, it could’ve done with a couple of things that sounded like singles.”

I loved Sound of Water upon its release and my vinyl copy has been a staple of at-home listening for many years. It’s an album best heard in its entirety, an eclectic collection that plays with everything from baroque pop (“Late Morning”) to bossa nova (“Boy Is Crying”) to IDM (“Don’t Back Down”), but always with a singular vision tying it together.

Even in the clubs, in those early years of the ’00s, I would drop “Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi),” perhaps the most accessible single from Sound of Water. Typically, I would play it early or late in the night. With a tight beat and melancholy atmosphere, that song lent itself to either warming up the indie crowd on the dance floor or calming people down near last call. In the middle of the night, though, I continued to gravitate towards “We’re in the City.” Listening to Sound of Water twenty years later, it’s striking to hear how the band seemingly predicted the avant-pop wave of artists, “vibey” DJ sets and “soft dance” playlists of the ’10s. It’s the band’s most prescient album and an essential one.

Timing is everything, and Sound of Water came out at a particularly odd moment. While 2000 was a stellar year for music, it’s also underrated. A small handful of albums – Madonna’s Music, Outkast’s Stankonia, Radiohead’s Kid A – would become instant classics. Other releases, like Peaches’ breakthrough album The Teaches of Peaches and Ladytron’s EP Commodore Rock, would cement the sound of the first decade of the new century. And some albums were so far ahead of the curve that it would take years to catch up with them. Sound of Water falls into that last category.

TRACK REVIEW: Marika Hackman “My Lover Cindy”

Don’t let Marika Hackman’s innocuous appearance fool you – this Brit has bite. The 25-year-old singer songwriter has been acknowledged for her moody, in-depth approach to folk music, landing her touring spots alongside the likes of Laura Marling. While her debut full-length, We Slept At Last, was glum and gorgeous, Hackman had another tone in mind for her upcoming sophomore release, I’m Not Your Man.

“I wanted to let rip and lose control,” Hackman said in a press release. “That’s the kind of music I’ve always wanted to make. When I was younger I wasn’t looking at Joni Mitchell. I was looking at Nirvana thinking, ‘I wanna be like that!’”

The artist has successfully achieved something coarser in her latest single from I’m Not Your Man – the snarling “My Lover Cindy.” Before you can taste the bitter core of this track, Hackman pulls you in with insatiable melodies. Her lithe voice suggests a safe space, priming you for a puppy love number with the opening lyrics.

“If I was a liar, I would call you my friend/Let’s hope the feeling’s mutual in the end.”

Hackman’s sweet yet rigid delivery floats atop tangy Johnny Marr-esque guitar riffs, making the nasty little chorus all the more shocking.

“’Cause I’m a fucking pig/I’m gonna get my fill/I’m gonna keep my eyes on the prize/And I’ll suck you dry, I will”

Hackman has suggested that the song is a critique of instant gratification in every aspect of contemporary life – even relationships – especially in a time when sex is a “throwaway thing.” The song’s rather unlikable narrator is clearly afraid of commitment, but isn’t willing to deal with the consequences associated with such fear.

Near the song’s end, small voices chant behind Hackman’s croon – as if they’re whispering in a lover’s ear, or dictating a late night booty call: “I’m not the one, I’m not the one, but I like you.”

It might be depressing, but “My Lover Cindy” is certainly a song for the modern romance.

I’m Not Your Man is out on Sub Pop Records on June 2nd.