PLAYING DETROIT: Double Winter Release Earnest Debut LP It’s About Our Hearts

There aren’t many bands that can cultivate a loyal and almost cult following before even releasing a full record, but Detroit psych/surf-rock outfit Double Winter is one such band. After years of playing around the city, the band finally self- released its debut LP, It’s About Our Hearts, on March 31. The record’s beachy riffs, sentimental melodies, and charming honesty is a welcome distraction from COVID-19 chaos and leaves us longing for the spring we don’t get to have. 

Vittorio Vettraino (guitar/vocals) says that the decision to release the record in spite of the global health crisis was made spontaneously. The group was set to have a release party at beloved Detroit venue UFO Factory on March 26th, which was obviously canceled due to the state-wide stay at home mandate. “We decided a couple of days before, let’s just do it,” Vettraino says. “None of this was really planned… We had a record release planned but after we rescheduled that, we were like, should we still just release the album? Like, why not. 

“It’s a weird time but we were like, we have to get it out there,” adds Holly Johnson (bass/vocals). A weird time indeed. In fact, I’m talking to the band via Zoom video call, each of them quarantined in their respective homes, reminiscing about the years it took to finally get this record out to the world. “We’ve had it ready for months now, so it’s not new to us, but it’s weird that people are hearing a lot of this for the first time,” Johnson adds.  

Though compiled relatively recently for the band’s debut, some of the songs on It’s About Our Hearts have been written and played live for years, giving the band time to fine-tune their sound and perfect their playing. “I could pretty much play these songs with my eyes closed now,” says Morgan McPeak (drums). The group’s rehearsal time was extended even longer than they anticipated after their first attempt at recording the record in 2018 didn’t go as planned. “We originally recorded a lot of these songs and decided to re-record them and that didn’t happen until like a year after,” says Johnson. “Some of the songs were newer on the first one and we knew we could record them better and that was a really good decision.”

So, in 2019, Double Winter took a second try at recording with engineer Ben Collins (Minihorse, Matthew Milia, Stef Chura) at an old church-turned-recording-mecca about half an hour outside of Detroit, Willis Sound. Collins, who is a friend of the band, turned out to be a much better fit for their sound, capturing the energy of a live Double Winter show. With a spacious and acoustically immaculate tracking room, Willis Sound is the type of studio that bands like Double Winter – whose chemistry is almost equally important to the chords they are playing – dream of. 

“The first place we recorded, we were all so isolated that it didn’t really feel like we were playing together,” says McPeak. “I get the benefits to recording that way…but it just didn’t sound like us anymore.” The second time was a charm for the band, though, and yielded a record that showcases years of friendship, countless gigs, and a settling of genre. “I feel like with this piece, it does span across several genres but we’re getting better at sort of funneling it in,” says Johnson. “It’s just showing that we’re getting more dialed into what we play and produce well together, it’s been really fun learning that, too.” 

So what, exactly is the sound that best describes Double Winter? The best way I can put it is blase-but-sincere doo-wop psych, and I know I sound like an asshole. Genre labels aside, It’s About Our Hearts is a sweet and well-crafted ode to generations of good music — from Yo La Tengo to the Shangri Las. A body of work that could only be created by artists with a non-pretentious but impressive palette. It’s about all the little things that are actually big things and make up a life – heartbreak, friendship, fucking up, realizing it a little too late. And, since we all have a little more time to reflect right now, we might as well do it to some damn good music.  

VIDEO PREMIERE: FIJI-13 “Mansplain It To Me bb”

Minnesota is a cold place, full of winter warriors trudging through the streets in search of bars with hot tunes. On first listen, FIJI-13 sounds like anything but Minneapolis: they are peppy, surf-infused, and upbeat. Yet on a closer listen, the reality of life seeps through. “Mansplain It To Me bb,” the first single off of FIJI-13’s new EP Heavy Breathing, swings a bat at the patriarchy with a level of sarcasm that’s pretty impressive.

Sisters Hilary and Heidi James handle lead vocals for the band, as well as writing the scathing lyrics heard on this latest track: “Explain to me how to throw a football pass, and what kind of pants look best on my ass.” It’s a stripped down middle finger of a song that could easily be picked up by a studio looking for the perfect female empowerment track to promote the next Reese Witherspoon box office smash (or the original Goldie Blox Commercial).

We sat down with Hilary, Heidi, and their drummer Steve Crowley to talk about how they came to land in the Midwest and why sex positivity is the word.

AP: I have to start out the interview by telling you all: I’m from Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Steve: That’s in Minnesota!

Heidi: And that’s maybe all we know about Fergus Falls.

AP: That’s about all anyone knows about Fergus Falls. Are all three of you Minneapolis born and raised?

Hilary: No, we’re all from the far reaches of Midwestlandia. Sort of. Steve is from Milwaukee. Heidi and I are from Denver via Southeast Asia.

AP: Southeast Asia? Alright, we need backstory. Tell us a little bit about how the band formed and how you ended up in Minneapolis!

Hilary: Steve and I met at a bar in Iowa City and became buds. Heidi and I have known each other our whole lives, as we are sisters. We wanted to start a band but didn’t know how to play “rock band instruments” so we each picked one and learned how to sort of play them.

Heidi: Oops we didn’t really answer your question correctly! We all just moved here post-college cuz it seemed like a cool spot and we’re gluttons for weather punishment.

AP: Your sound is much more surf than snow. What inspired Fiji-13’s sound?

Heidi: First off, can we use “more surf than snow” in some bio stuff please?

Hilary: Well. None of us know how to surf but we thought it would be funny if we sounded like we could. Also we really like surf rock bands.

AP: I love that garage band / punk feel. What artists inspire your music?

Hilary: A wide range, from local Minneapolis punk bands like Kitten Forever to Sleater Kinney to the more melodic surfy/grungy bands like La Luz and Guantanamo Baywatch, and Ty Segall. Minneapolis has a really amazing and supportive punk and garage scene, which has definitely influenced our sound.

AP: Your new single “Mansplain It To Me bb” is a fun song about a painfully real problem: Mansplaining. Steve, can you tell us a little about the writing process on this one?

Steve: They sent me a video of themselves playing that song the day they wrote it and I immediately knew it was a smash hit.

Hilary: He is very good at telling us everything we never needed to know. JK, Steve is great.

AP: I’d ask where the song comes from, but as woman I think I know. It feels incredibly organic. As sisters, is it easy or difficult to write lyrics together?

Heidi: We actually don’t do a lot of lyric-writing together. We usually come to each other with songs that are mostly complete, but we do some edits and help each other through the parts where the words aren’t totally right.

Hilary: Sometimes we’ll come up with themes of songs together and then one or the other of us will pick it up and work it out.

AP: Who took the lead on “Mansplain It To Me bb”?

Heidi: I did. Hilary titled the song though.

AP: Your new EP is titled Heavy Breathing. What kind of subject matter can we expect from the album?

Hilary: The subject matter is mostly sex positive songs. As women (who spend a lot of time in the music world/in the normal world) there is such a frustrating difference between how people view sexuality and sexualization between binary sexes. Those songs are an attempt to normalize and be honest about that and poke fun of it all in a way.

Heidi: It’s almost like we’re blowing things out of proportion in order to make the point clear that people need to just chill out about women as sexual beings.

Hilary: There are also some songs on the album that are basically just big ol’ “fuck yous” to the patriarchy.

AP: I love the approach of using humor to tackle something considered taboo or controversial. Have you been able to perform the songs live?

Steve: Hell yea. We play a lot of shows in Minneapolis and around the midwest. We just got back from a little extended weekend tour two days ago. We love playing and bopping around in the car playing shows with our friends.

AP: Can we expect more tour dates coming up?

Steve: Yes. We plan to tour more in spring and mayyyyyybe winter. Heidi and I are teachers so there are very specific times that we are able to have time off to tour.

[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”][Eds. note: Here’s what they’ve got coming up!

  • 9/16 @ Eagles Club in Minneapolis
  • 9/23 @ Maximum Ames Fest, Ames, IA
  • 10/14 RELEASE SHOW @ Triple Rock in Minneapolis]

AP: Final question: I’m a music fan, a tourist in Minneapolis proper. Where do I go to see some killer tunes?

Heidi: One of our favorite places to play and go see bands is called Eagles 34. It’s like a functioning Order of the Eagles club for veterans, filled with the amazing neon and taxidermic eagle art, weird thrift-store decor and $1 jello shots every night. They have three different stages so you can go on a weekend and hear three very different shows, from Polka or Zydeco bands filled with old couples dancing, to wild heavy metal shows, to bedroom synth pop and more. Also they have the nicest bartender in the world there. Really everyone there is pretty dang nice.

The Homestead Records will be releasing FIJI-13’s new EP Heavy Breathing on October 13th.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

ALBUM REVIEW: Hinds “Leave Me Alone”


Any simplicity in the music of Hinds is made up for in sheer attitude. Except for “The Garden,” most of their music videos feature footage of the members goofily singing along to their songs. The Madrid band’s personality is just as easily translated on Leave Me Alone, a fun, loose, and effortless album of lo-fi garage rock that will make you really, really want Hinds to be your new best friend.

The band started with Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote, who share guitar and vocals. Cosials will layer her sugary voice over Perrote’s deeper, tougher tone, then the two will split apart into different ideas or sing the same a beat apart. It’s a style that comes close to the disorganized side of casual, which makes it all the more endearing. After writing songs under the name Deers, Cosials and Perrote added bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen, but were forced to change their name after another band threatened legal action. They’ve maintained a sense of humor about it, though: on their website, there’s an animated video game where you click your mouse to make a running deer jump over the band (hit a chili pepper, and you turn purple).


Their lyrics touch on the trickiness and frustration of dating with the same wry humor, warning about a girl who hides her flaws with “She always burns her warts… don’t let her waste your smile” and imploring a clueless crush to make a move on “Chili Town” because “I’ve been touching without hands/ Because you’re deaf and blind.” They provide a perfect balance between romance and independence, made clear through “I’ll make it simple, I don’t play no games/ I could be your baby, but I’ll be your man,” and on one of their best songs, “Bamboo:” “How could I show you without looking freaking mad/ That I am not always gonna be around/ And how could I show you without loosing all our time/ That I am not always gonna run behind.”   

Leave Me Alone comes out tomorrow, but is currently streaming on NPR. In anticipation of its release, the band played a karaoke show at Palisades on Wednesday, inviting fans to sing their songs for them. Maybe Hinds just want to be our friend, too?

OPENING LINES: Snap Q&A w/ The Yetis

the yetis

For this column, we preview the opening acts of live shows we’ll be covering, to give exposure to the up-and-comers we’re most excited for. Our preferred form is to do off-the-cuff “snap Q&As” with them, to get their thoughts on anything from the mundane to the absurd. For this installment, we spoke with Nick Gillespie, from PA-based indie rock band, The Yetis, who will be performing before a sold out crowd tonight at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, opening for The Drums. Catch what they had to say about Bigfoot’s gender and playing live with a shirtless elderly man from Florida.

Audiofemme: Are there any Yetis from history for whom you have a particular affinity/really identify with? And I know this might be a contentious question, but do you believe that Bigfoot is male or female?

 The Yetis: I guess we like the Himalayan explorers in history like Sir Edmund Hillary or the guy who lost all his toes and fingers only to conclude that the yeti is just a bear. Bigfoot is probably a guy but he definitely has a Bigfoot girlfriend.
AF: I saw that you’re from Allentown Pennsylvania, which is actually the 3rd largest city in PA. What is the music scene there like? Do people ask you a lot if you’re from Amish country because they don’t know any better?
TY: There’s not really a music scene. In high school there was nothing to do but drive around and play garage rock so that helped us focus on being creative. Allentown isn’t that close to Amish country, we don’t get asked that a lot, but the Amish are interesting to say the least.
AF: What sets you guys apart from the abundance of surf pop bands that are cropping up these days (we could answer this one for you but we wanna hear your thoughts!!)
TY: We don’t really consider ourselves surf pop that much, just rock and roll. We like surf music a lot so we use elements from that in our music. Our surf songs started out more as jokes or something that was exotic to us.
AF: What’s your most memorable live performance?
TY: The two times we’ve played at Baby’s All Right opening for cool bands (Hinds and Hidden Charms) were amazing so we think tonight with The Drums will top that. But we play a lot of bars and one time a guy gave us $90 to play one blues song with some old fat guy from Florida who took off his shirt and sang. We went crazy.
AF: If you could bring back one person from history to attend your show tonight at Baby’s, who would it be?
TY: We would bring back King Tut.
******Check out their irresistible rock jams TONIGHT at Baby’s All Right, opening for The Drums.

ALBUM REVIEW: Girl Band “Holding Hands With Jamie”


Holding Hands With Jamie by Girl Band is a beautiful mess, more musical noise than noisy music. Guitars squeal like pieces of metal screeching together in a car crash, the bass rolls up and down the fretboard wildly, and as well as some brief singing, vocals come in the form of screams, growls, shouts and intense monologues. There is structure, but it’s threatening to disintegrate at any moment. You’ll think you’ve identified a melody, only for it to come crashing down.

Whether singer Dara Kiely is remembering an encounter with a doctor who likes Abba on “The Last Riddler,” being honest about his vanity by drawling “I look crap with my top off” on “Pears For Lunch,” or vocalizing about something that isn’t quite intelligible but can be understood viscerally, every song on Holding Hands With Jamie is as riveting as it is challenging to listen to. However, the album’s standout track, possibly because of its weird, sad, disturbing and amazing video, is “Paul.” It starts with an ominous, surf-y bass line and relentlessly simple drums. Kiely seems to be talking himself in circles as the track builds and builds, until it can’t anymore and just explodes into the noise and feedback that’s been crackling in the background (As for the plot of the video, it’s better to just watch it than read about it).

If it sounds like the Irish rockers are on the verge of completely losing it at any moment, it’s on purpose. The album takes on an important context when you learn that it was inspired by the time leading up to a psychotic episode Kiely went through two years ago. Listening to Holding Hands With Jamie definitely feels like taking a break from reality, but Kiely remains in control the whole time. He’s admitted his inspiration for the album in interviews, so he’s obviously not ashamed of his past struggles, but he’s gone a step further by taking control of them, reframing them and sharing them on his own terms. The result can only be described as cathartic. And awesome. And noisy.

Holding Hands With Jamie is available now via Rough Trade; check out “Paul” below.


LIVE REVIEW: Plague Bubonika @ Trash Bar

Plague Bubonika

Meet Plague Bubonika. They play thrash-psych-surf-rock, so basically the auditory form of eating sand as a wave tosses your body-surfing ass: oh fuck I think I might die but this is really fun. Fitting for their sound, I was introduced to them in a rad turn of cosmic events, a Twitter friendship and micro family reunion at Williamsburg’s Trash Bar – a perfect night for the memory shelves as the music venue is slated to close due to raising rent price. The show caught you off guard in that sense where you had to hold your breathe as you felt something important was happening. Strings popped off a guitar, the boys conjured a new one from the arms of the sweaty audience and continued playing with a mere brush off the shoulder. Plague Bubonika is Tony, Dreamy, Atilla Hunk and Zacky Boy coming live from Wilmington, DE. As if it wasn’t a rockin’ special time already, they dedicated a song to yours truly, which I must shamelessly brag about and request you listen to below.

The take away from this post is that nepotism is fine with the talent and originality to back it up, and journalists are attention seeking narcissists who can absolutely be won over. Oh yeah, and get sick on Plague Bubonika without losing eye contact – I see big things ahead.

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TRACK REVIEW: Penicillin Baby “Stick It Out”

Penicillin Baby

Meet Nashville-based Penicillin Baby. They recently released a new single ““Stick It Out.” These psych-pop rockers (Jon Tyler Conant, Charlie Davis, Taylor Lowrance, and Wesley Mitchell) describe themselves as “Space-Trash.” Listening to the single, one wonders if they are indeed from outer space, sifting through the Southern-infused surf rock vibes that burst with classic punk inclinations. Note: causing writers to wonder if you are space aliens is always a good thing; Earth is overrated. As Hesh told Christopher on The Sopranos, “Now that is a hit.”

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LIVE REVIEW: The Muffs @ Del Monte Speakeasy, Venice CA

The Muffs reunion


These days, it seems no one is impervious to nineties nostalgia, least of all Burger Records, who release Whoop Dee Doo on July 29th, the first album of new material from grunge-pop aficionados The Muffs in ten years. The three-piece, consisting of lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Kim Shattuck, bassist Ronnie Barnett, and drummer Criss Crass, is scheduled for several West Coast Burger-sponsored bashes, including this past weekend’s Burger Beach Party USA at the Del Monte Speakeasy located in the heart of Venice.

Arriving a bit late for sets from labelmates Audacity, The Tyde, The Aquadolls, and Collen Green, my peers and I descended into the dimly lit bar decorated with twenties style lamps and red leather couches. The crowd consisted of people of all different ages, sporting every style from summertime surf grunge to bohemian fifty-year old mom swag. Once The Muffs took the stage it became clear that they’re touring veterans; you could tell immediately that they have been performing together for years. Perhaps best known for having had their cover of “Kids In America” (originally by Kim Wilde) featured in one of my most favorite movies, Clueless, the band has gone through numerous lineups and released five records via Warner Bros. and Reprise Records, but have always retained a bouncy, feel-good vibe.

Kim had a huge smile on her face the whole show, aggressively singing upbeat surfer rock songs to a crowd of moshing admirers. Their new material, much in the vein of their early catalogue, is comprised of perfect riffs made with power chords we all know and love, hard hitting bass lines, and drum beats that make for some truly inspired head-banging. Though The Muffs’ set was about 45 minutes long, it felt like only fifteen minutes in which both the band and their audience had a blast. Kim’s banter in between songs consisted of making fart jokes and recalling times on past tours where she “made out with a lot of girls.” Their onstage presence perfectly accompanied their clever, humorous, and emotion- driven songs, which made for an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying show. There’s no word yet on whether a national tour will happen, but The Muffs are playing a few more Burger shindigs, listed below. In the meantime, check out lead single from Whoop Dee Doo, “Up And Down Around.”


Sunday, July 6 – Oakland, CA @ Burger Boogaloo (Mosswood Park)

Saturday, July 26 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Saturday, Aug. 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ Burger a-Go-Go (The Observatory)