Maty Noyes Kisses Major Label Confines Goodbye with Debut LP The Feeling’s Mutual

I first met Maty Noyes at her all ages show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, on a cold December night in 2018. The early show had a hard out and tight crossover leading into the late night event. Over a recent Zoom call, Noyes recalls the infamous load in of cyberpunk go-go dancers dressed to the nines in gothic leather corsets and six inch heels, carrying dungeon whips. “I remember thinking, it’s okay, my fans are going to learn one day how the real world works,” she says. 

By that time, she’d already had an uncredited feature on the Weeknd’s breakout record Beauty Behind The Madness, written an international smash for Kygo, released two EPs, and racked up millions of Spotify plays on singles like “New Friends” and “Say It To My Face.” Under contract, the label machine built momentum but didn’t allow Noyes to evolve artistically. She was kept in a box, styled, dressed, and groomed to stay in the major label pop darling lane. That’s why her highly anticipated debut LP The Feeling’s Mutual, released September 3, is such a revelation; after years of working as a cog in the music industry machine while her team treasure-hunted for the smash hit to make her a star, Noyes decided to make it on her own by unleashing her talent on the world.

The Feeling’s Mutual breaks the mold of straight-forward electro pop; visually, Noyes embodies a classic Marilyn Monroe beauty, while embodying the power, grit, and strength of neon warrior princess. Noyes’ effortless vocals tie the cross-genre record together like a collage of musical chapters. “My dream would be to chart on like every radio station you know in every genre, all at once,” she says. “Because why not? It’s possible.”

And it’s been a long time coming, too. Noyes grew up in a small conservative town in Mississippi, never feeling like she fit in despite floating between different social groups – but music spoke her language. “I was fortunate enough to have a dad who played really great classic rock growing up. The Beatles were a huge sonic influence for me,” she recalls. “I knew from a very young age that I’d dedicate my life to music, even before I really knew I could sing. When I was twelve I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. Without much thought, a week later I was already writing songs. I just had a lot on my little heart that I wanted to get out.”

Her supportive mother offered incentives for performing. “Basically, she was like, I’ll give you fifty bucks if you play the show. And back then fifty bucks felt like a million dollars,” Noyes says. “A trembling twelve year old, I got up on the tiny stage at our local coffee shop, and sang in public for the first time. I was hooked.”

Uninterested in college, and a self-proclaimed old soul, Noyes convinced her parents to let her move to Nashville at the age of fifteen. Under the stipulation of taking weekly drug tests, financial independence, online schooling, and her promise to attend church every Sunday in her hometown three hours away, Noyes was granted permission to move out as a minor and follow her dream. “I moved to Nashville alone, the day I turned sixteen. I found a place, started babysitting and put a band together with two of my best friends. I was having the time of my life,” she says. “The music I wrote alone back then was so thoughtful and raw.”

In the heart of Music City, Noyes was poised for serendipitous stardom. “One particular night I ended up at a house party in a mansion. I had never experienced that level of wealth, and I suddenly ended up singing to the owner, as he’s accompanying me on the piano,” she remembers. “He turns to me and says ‘You’re really good, but I’m drunk. Why don’t you come back tomorrow so I can really hear your sing?’ The next day I show up, and he ends up being my manager for five years. Literally my first six months of living in Nashville, he and his partner got me signed to a record deal with Lavo, an imprint of Republic.”

A California girl at heart, after signing a publishing deal, Noyes started taking frequent writing trips to LA. She made the official move and got into the studio grind, writing every day with a new person, in a different genre. She quickly learned the nuances of pop music studio culture and found success as a top-line writer almost overnight. “I wrote a song called ‘Stay‘ and it was just like any other day. Suddenly it was picked up by world-famous DJ Kygo and got half a billion streams,” she says. “I’m not even an EDM artist. I didn’t even want that, but it just happened.”

Her ethereal voice was also featured on “Angel,” the closing track on the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness. Noyes had been working with producer Stephan Moccio via Interscope, who took the risk of asking Noyes to sing on the track without Abel Tesfaye’s permission. Her lush, captivating vocal runs send shivers down your spine, so it’s no surprise that Tesfaye loved her voice, and took it as an honor to break a new artist. But the credit went unlisted, as it would’ve disqualified her from winning a Best New Artist Grammy on her own accord; as a newly signed major label artist, she was already learning the politics at play in pop music.

But perhaps more dismaying was the fact that Noyes was prevented from releasing her own work as her label kept her under lock and key. “A lot of my friends would be hearing all this cool stuff I was doing, but the world would never get to hear it,” she says. Right before the pandemic hit, Noyes decided to cut ties, ditching the publishing deal and dropping her management.

“I’d lost a lot of that fearless independent girl from Nashville,” she explains of the move. “I ended up signing a one-album deal with a new label just to put music out in the meantime and keep creating. During quarantine, I spiritually got a fresh start. I started reconnecting with myself and writing intimate songs in solitude. I was regaining parts of myself that had been lost through my immersion in the industry.”

Releasing The Feeling’s Mutual “feels bittersweet,” says Noyes. “It was finished and supposed to come out two years ago. Sharing the songs with the world feels like a weight lifted off my chest. I can finally start to catch up with myself and feel authentic creatively. I’ve had to live with imposter syndrome.”

Finally free of the major label system, Maty Noyes has regained her autonomy, and her autobiographical lyrics embody her real-time emotional processing. There’s a sharp attention to detail within each sophisticatedly crafted song, and each has become a vehicle for Noyes to grow, heal, and evolve both emotionally and spiritually. “I feel so lucky as a songwriter, because if you stay true to the craft, you really get to see what’s going on with your inner world. You analyze and learn about your patterns, and your intention,” she says. “You get to view your life from a whole-story perspective. It’s like therapy, and a lot of people don’t get the chance to do that.” 

Stylistically, she tries on many hats, and while genre-bending in hip hop, psych-rock, electro pop, and classic jazz, she resonates brutal emotional honesty within each melody. When asked about her personal favorites, Noyes gushes over “Time.” “I love the guitar, and how it gives me a classic blues feel… it’s beautiful, and timeless. It’s the direction I’m heading toward; I’m really proud of that track.”

Lyrically, “Time” captures the feeling of falling in love without getting caught up in the fear of abandonment. It’s an ode to the fool, and fearlessly rushing into the unknown of infatuation and lust. “It’s the most beautiful time of the relationship, the lustful beginnings. This song says, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but we have this beautiful time right now – I want to make it so good, we’ll never forget it,” she explains. “My openness to love, it’s both my superpower and my kryptonite. Getting deep with another person acts as my truest inspiration, my drug. I’ve always been a serial monogamist.”

The silky Mark Ronson-esque samba-infused “Alexander,” another stand-out on the record, exudes a bittersweet longing. “Listening I was really impressed with the way it naturally flowed as such a classic melody,” she says. “It really takes you on an emotional journey.” The last chorus jumps up almost two octaves, a whistling falsetto looping and weaving around her swan song. Its video shows Noyes with a spiritual advisor in a mysterious Plague-Doctor-goes-to-Coachella mask; Noyes takes a magical pill and descends into her fantasy, a technicolor dream world, the depth of the deep sea, the underworld. Caressed by her ego, Noyes morphs into a butterfly, as she moves through floral dimensions of space and time. 

“I made the video for ‘Alexander’ with my friend Marcus, and took on the role of producer and stylist. He was a CGI guy, and had all the equipment and gear we needed. We shot it on barely any budget in my garage. I was so proud of the entire vision coming to fruition,” she says. 

One of the record’s most powerful anthems, “He’s Doing Your Job” is about being attached to an avoidant, “emotionally unavailable” person while another courts her. The chilling lyrics are direct, as Noyes plainly states her desires: “I need someone to ask how I feel/Someone who wants me to heal/Someone who’s holding my hand/When the anxiety gets way too real.” With an easy-going acoustic energy, the track unpacks attachment styles, addressing issues around having a despondent lover from both sides. “That song still gives me goosebumps,” Noyes says.

The Feeling’s Mutual is nothing if not relatable, so much so that it’s hard to believe Noyes was ever discouraged by her label from releasing candid material like this. But she’s taken it all in stride, and shares the hard-earned wisdom from her decade in the entertainment industry with eloquent poise, earnest grace, and a hint of her rebellious heart. “You’re gonna come across people who want to help you, and they’re going to speak in absolute extremes. They’re going to say there’s only one way to do things if you want to make it,” she warns. But Maty Noyes learned long ago that compromise didn’t mesh with her artistic vision. “Listen to your instincts. Don’t make decisions out of fear. You can feel in your soul when you’re crossing the line of your integrity. If it doesn’t feel true to your artistry, you shouldn’t do it.”

Follow Maty Noyes on Instagram for ongoing updates.

AF 2020 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums & Singles of The Year

In a year that’s been like no other for the music industry, it feels a bit weird to make a best of 2020 list – there have been no tours, venues and clubs across the globe are in danger of closing their doors for good, release schedules were shuffled beyond recognition, and musicians have had to find other ways to make ends meet while those in the U.S. await the next round of paltry stimulus checks. With a situation so dire, the metrics have changed – should we ascribe arbitrary value to the skill of producers, songwriters, performers, and the execution of their finished projects, or simply celebrate records that made us feel like the whole world wasn’t crumbling?

Definitively ranking releases has never been the Audiofemme model for looking back on the year in music. Instead, our writers each share a short list of what moved them most, in the hopes that our readers will find something that moves them, too. Whether you spent the lockdown voraciously listening to more new music this year than ever before, or fell back on comforting favorites, or didn’t have the headspace to absorb the wealth of music inspired by the pandemic, the variety here emphasizes how truly essential music can be to our well-being. If you’re in the position to do so, support your favorite artists and venues by buying merch, and check out the National Independent Venue Association to stay updated on what’s happening with the Save Our Stages act. Here’s to a brighter 2021.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders
      2) the Microphones – Microphones in 2020
      3) Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
      4) Megan Thee Stallion – Good News
      5) Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
      6) Amaarae – The Angel You Don’t Know
      7) Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
      8) Adrianne Lenker – songs/instrumentals
      9) Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
      10) Lomelda – Hannah
    • Top 5 Singles:
      1) Kinlaw – “Permissions”
      2) Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am”
      3) Little Dragon & Moses Sumney – “The Other Lover”
      4) Yves Tumor – “Kerosene!”
      5) Megan Thee Stallion – “Shots Fired”

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) Land of Talk – Indistinct Conversations
      2) Dehd – Flower of Devotion
      3) SAULT – Untitled (Black Is)/Untitled (Rise)
      4) Public Practice – Gentle Grip
      5) Cindy Lee – What’s Tonight to Eternity
      6) Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
      7) Benny Yurco – You Are My Dreams
      8) Eve Owen – Don’t Let the Ink Dry
      9) Porridge Radio – Every Bad
      10) Jess Cornelius – Distance
    • Top 10 Singles:
      1) Little Hag – “Tetris”
      2) Elizabeth Moen – “Creature of Habit”
      3) Yo La Tengo – “Bleeding”
      4) Caribou – “Home”
      5) Jess Williamson – “Pictures of Flowers”
      6) Adrianne Lenker – “anything”
      7) Nicolás Jaar – “Mud”
      8) Soccer Mommy – “Circle the Drain”
      9) New Fries – “Ploce”
      10) El Perro Del Mar – “The Bells”


  • Alexa Peters (Playing Seattle)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Deep Sea Diver – Impossible Weight
      2) Blimes and Gab – Talk About It
      3) Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
      4) Tomo Nakayama – Melonday
      5) Matt Gold – Imagined Sky
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Stevie Wonder – “Can’t Put it in the Hands of Fate”
      2) Tomo Nakayama – “Get To Know You”
      3) Ariana Grande – “Positions”

  • Amanda Silberling (Playing Philly)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Frances Quinlan – Likewise
      2) Bartees Strange – Live Forever
      3) Told Slant – Point the Flashlight and Walk
      4) Diet Cig – Do You Wonder About Me?
      5) Shamir – Shamir
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Kississippi – “Around Your Room”
      2) Sad13 – “Hysterical”
      3) The Garages – “Mike Townsend (Is a Disappointment)”

  • Ashley Prillaman (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
      2) Lasse Passage – Sunwards
      3) Megan Thee Stallion – Good News
      4) Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
      5) Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Megan Thee Stallion – “B.I.T.C.H.”
      2) Perfume Genius – “On the Floor”
      3) SG Lewis & Robyn – “Impact” (feat. Robyn & Channel Tres)

  • Cat Woods (Playing Melbourne)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Jarvis Cocker – Beyond the Pale
      2) Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine
      3) Run the Jewels – RTJ4
      4) Emma Donovan & The Putbacks – Crossover
      5) Various Artists – Deadly Hearts: Walking Together
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Emma Donovan & The Putbacks – “Mob March”
      2) Laura Veirs – “Freedom Feeling”
      3) Miley Cyrus – “Never Be Me”

  • Chaka V. Grier (Playing Toronto)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
      2) Joya Mooi – Blossom Carefully
      3) Lady Gaga – Chromatica
      4) Witch Prophet – DNA Activation
      5) Tremendum – Winter
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Lianne La Havas – “Green Papaya”
      2) Lady Gaga – “Free Woman”
      3) Allie X – “Susie Save Your Love”

  • Cillea Houghton (Playing Nashville)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Chris Stapleton  – Starting Over
      2) Brett Eldredge – Sunday Drive
      3) Little Big Town – Nightfall
      4) Ingrid Andress – Lady Like
      5) Ruston Kelly – Shape & Destroy
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
      2) Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am”
      3) Remi Wolf  – “Hello Hello Hello”

  • Eleanor Forrest (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
      2) Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA
      3) Allie X – Cape Cod
      4) LEXXE – Meet Me in the Shadows
      5) Gustavo Santaolalla, Mac Quayle – The Last of Us Part II (Original Soundtrack)
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) CL – “+5 STAR+”
      2) Yves Tumor & Kelsey Lu – “let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out”
      3)  Stephan Moccio – “Freddie’s Theme”

  • Gillian G. Gaar (Musique Boutique)
    • Top 10 Albums:
      1) Dust Bowl Faeries – Plague Garden
      2) Ganser – Just Look At That Sky
      3) Oceanator – Things I Never Said
      4) Loma – Don’t Shy Away
      5) Maggie Herron – Your Refrain
      6) Pretenders – Hate for Sale
      7) The Bird and the Bee – Put up the Lights
      8) Partner – Never Give Up
      9) Bully – Sugaregg
      10) Olivia Awbrey – Dishonorable Harvest

  • Jason Scott (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Mickey Guyton – Bridges EP
      2) Katie Pruitt – Expectations
      3) Mandy Moore – Silver Landings
      4) Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
      5) Cf Watkins – Babygirl
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Mickey Guyton – “Black Like Me”
      2) Ashley McBryde – “Stone”
      3) Lori McKenna feat. Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose – “When You’re My Age”

  • Jamila Aboushaca (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
      2) Khruangbin – Mordechai
      3) Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen
      4) Tycho – Simulcast
      5) Run the Jewels – RTJ4
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Tame Impala – “Lost In Yesterday”
      2) Phoebe Bridgers – “Kyoto”
      3) Halsey – “You should be sad”

  • Liz Ohanesian (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine
      2) Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
      3) Phenomenal Handclap Band – PHB
      4) Khruangbin – Mordechai
      5) TootArd – Migrant Birds
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Anoraak – “Gang” 
      2) Kylie Minogue – “Magic”
      3) Horsemeat Disco feat. Phenomenal Handclap Band – “Sanctuary”  

  • Michelle Rose (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
      2) Taylor Swift – folklore
      3) Shamir – Shamir
      4) Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
      5) HAIM – Women in Music Pt. III
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Porches – “I Miss That” 
      2) Annabel Jones – “Spiritual Violence”
      3) Wolf – “High Waist Jeans”  

  • Sara Barron (Playing Detroit)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Summer Walker – Over It
      2) Yaeji – WHAT WE DREW
      3) Liv.e – Couldn’t Wait to Tell You
      4) Ojerime – B4 I Breakdown
      5) KeiyaA – Forever, Ya Girl
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Yves Tumor – “Kerosene!”
      2) Kali Uchis, Jhay Cortez – “la luz (fin)”
      3) fleet.dreams – “Selph Love”

  • Sophia Vaccaro (Playing the Bay)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
      2) The Front Bottoms – In Sickness & In Flames
      3) Zheani – Zheani Sparkes EP
      4) Various Artists – Save Stereogum: A ’00s Covers Comp
      5) Halsey – Manic
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Charli XCX – “forever”
      2) Doja Cat – “Boss Bitch”
      3) Wolf – “Hoops”

  • Suzannah Weiss (Contributor)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Galantis – Church
      2) Best Coast – Always Tomorrow
      3) Overcoats – The Fight
      4) Holy Motors – Horse
      5) Suzanne Vallie – Love Lives Where Rules Die
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) CAMÍNA – “Cinnamon”
      2) Naïka – “African Sun”
      3) Edoheart – “Original Sufferhead”

  • Tarra Thiessen (RSVP Here, Check the Spreadsheet)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network – Ballet of Apes
      2) Ganser – Just Look At That Sky
      3) Death Valley Girls – Under The Spell of Joy
      4) The Koreatown Oddity – Little Dominiques Nosebleed
      5) Ghost Funk Orchestra – An Ode To Escapism
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Miss Eaves – “Belly Bounce”
      2) Purple Witch of Culver – “Trig”
      3) Shilpa Ray – “Heteronormative Horseshit Blues”

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)
    • Top 5 Albums:
      1) Lil Baby – My Turn
      2) A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats II
      3) Polo G – The Goat
      4) The Weeknd – After Hours
      5) Teyana Taylor – The Album
    • Top 3 Singles:
      1) Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”
      2) Roddy Ricch  – “The Box”
      3) Big Sean & Nipsey Hussle – “Deep Reverence”

Seven Songs Celebrating the Female Orgasm

Female sexual pleasure doesn’t get the attention it deserves, in the bedroom or in music. It’s traditionally been more common for male artists to sing about what turns them on, but that’s changing. With more and more female artists unabashedly singing about sex — and more male artists unashamed to admit they love pleasing women — women’s orgasms have come into the spotlight (no pun intended). Here are some songs celebrating female orgasms, from the subtle to the very explicit.

“Butterfly” by Crazy Town

Given that Crazy Town sings “I’ll make your legs shake,” I’m guessing they don’t just mean “come here” with the chorus “come, come my lady.” The lyrics read like an ode to a woman who is truly the narrator’s princess, paying homage to her “sex appeal” as well as the way she’s “always there to lift me up.” It’s nice to see women getting the respect (and orgasms) they deserve.


“Laid” by James

This song is fantastic in multiple ways, describing a woman who “only comes when she’s on top,” leading the neighbors to “complain about the noises above.” It also touches on gender-bending themes (“Dressed me up in women’s clothes / Messed around with gender roles”) that are accentuated by Tim Booth’s falsetto voice. The woman in the song is depicted as destructive, but they’re clearly both enjoying their “passionate love.”


“My Neck, My Back” by Khia

In this ode to cunnilingus, Khia is not afraid to ask for exactly what she wants: “Then ya suck it all ’til I shake and cum nigga / Make sure I keep bustin’ nuts nigga / All over yo’ face and stuff.” She concluded about the song’s popularity: “I guess the world is just nasty and freaky like that.”

“Get Sleazy” by Kesha

“Rat-tat-tat-tat on your dum-dum-drum / The beat so phat, gonna make me come, um, um, um, um, over to your place” might seem to just be expressing Kesha’s desire to visit a crush… if she didn’t then sing, “you really think you’re gonna get my rocks off.” I’d really love to hear whatever beat is having such a profound effect on Kesha.


“Get Low” by Liam Payne and Zedd

Don’t be fooled by Liam Payne’s innocent past as a One Direction member; this song is dirty as hell: “I’m right here, you know, when your waves explode… I like the way you touch yourself / Don’t hold back, I want that / When the water come down, I’mma get in that.” It sure sounds like he’s talking about squirting (not the same thing as orgasm, but certainly an adjacent topic).

“Sweetener” by Ariana Grande

As usual, Ariana’s being more sexual than the casual listener might expect here. Throughout the song, baking becomes a metaphor for oral sex, with lyrics like “Twist it, twist it, twist it, twist it / Mix it and mix it and mix it and mix it / Kiss it, kiss it, kiss it / You make me say oh, oh.” But the real kicker is when she sings, “I like the way you lick the bowl / Somehow your method touches my soul.” In case you were wondering, “licking the bowl” is slang for “licking cum from a girl’s pussy after she has had an orgasm,” according to the Urban Dictionary. Apparently, it’s the way to at least one woman’s soul.

“Or Nah” by Ty Dolla $ign Feat. The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, and DJ Mustard

Ty Dolla $ign leaves to mystery as to what he’s after, asking the object of his affections (if you could even use that word), “Do you like the way I flick my tongue or nah? / You can ride my face until you’re drippin’ cum.” You have to respect the way he asks for clear verbal consent. Still, I don’t recommend using these lyrics as pickup lines.


HIGH NOTES: 7 Songs About Cocaine That Will Make It Hard to Feel Your Face

When you think of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, cocaine is probably at least one of the drugs you think of. Celebrities, musicians included, have a reputation for snorting coke at their Hollywood parties, as well as in their daily lives — and they’re not afraid to sing about it. Here are some of the most notable cocaine references in music, both obscured and obvious.

“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd

This one falls into the “obvious” category. If you’ve ever done coke, you probably don’t need me to explain the meaning of this song. It’s right in the title: The Weeknd has ingested so much cocaine that he has lost sensation in his face. Indeed, the drug’s numbing properties are so significant, medical professionals have used it as an anesthetic. Still, “Can’t Feel My Face” can also be interpreted as a love song about numbing yourself to the pain of heartbreak, with lyrics like, “And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb.” Perhaps he is literally using cocaine to forget about the pain this relationship has caused him, because it numbs him emotionally as well. Deep stuff here.

“Casey Jones” by The Grateful Dead

This song describes famous railroad engineer Casey Jones “driving that train high on cocaine,” although there’s no evidence that he actually used cocaine during his fatal crash. Nevertheless, cocaine was a major influence behind the music. “I always thought it’s a pretty good musical picture of what cocaine is like,” Jerry Garcia said of the song in an interview for the book Garcia: A Signpost to New Space. “A little bit evil. And hard-edged. And also that sing-songy thing, because that’s what it is, a sing-songy thing, a little melody that gets in your head.”

“The White Lady Loves You More” by Elliott Smith

With lyrics about a loved one ditching the narrator for cocaine, this track is as depressing as you’d expect from Elliott Smith. Some have speculated that the “white lady” is actually heroin, as Smith’s addiction to heroin is extensively documented. Either way, it gives a raw and emotional account of what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone addicted to drugs.

“The Girl You Lost to Cocaine” by Sia

Sia shows the other side of being in a relationship with a coke addict by singing about leaving a partner who can’t get their shit together as the drug takes over their life. Gigwise called it a “strong, confident, infectiously melodic and immensely hummable romp through the highs and lows of Sia’s unique character and upbeat independence.”

“This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song” by System of a Down

This song doesn’t actually mention cocaine, though it implies it in lines like “we’re crying for our next fix,” interspersed between nonsense lyrics like “Gonorrhea gorgonzola” — perhaps the way one would talk on coke, with their thoughts racing haphazardly from word to word? The title reverses a common narrative about music making you feel like you’re on drugs, potentially conveying how high the band gets off music itself.

“Coke Babies” by Radiohead

These lyrics are so cryptic, it’s hard to say if the song is really about coke: “Easy living, easy hold / Easy teething, easy fold / Easy listening, easy love / Easy answers to easy questions / Easy tumble, easy doll / Easy rumble, easy fall / I get up on easy love / I get up on easy questions.” That’s it. For all we know, it’s about Coca-Cola. Reddit seems to agree that the meaning is a mystery, but it’s nevertheless one of the band’s most haunting and underrated songs, released as a b-side to the 1993 Pablo Honey single “Anyone Can Play Guitar.”

“Master of Puppets” by Metallica

This brutal depiction of drug addiction seems to be written from the perspective of the coke itself, with lyrics like “Taste me you will see / More is all you need” and “I’m pulling your strings / Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.” It could be any addictive drug, though lines like “chop your breakfast on a mirror” suggest that it is, in fact, about cocaine.

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Highlights from Bonnaroo 2017

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photo by Jorgenson Photography via Bonnaroo Facebook

Four years in the Tennessee heat. Bonnaroo 2017 was my fourth year heading to “The Farm” and despite grumbles over Live Nation buying the fest, Bonnaroo remained true to its core: filthy, socially conscious, and driven by the music.

After flying into Austin, we traveled up to Dallas to pick up the rest of our gang and then made our way to the rolling hills of Tennessee. Every year, we camp with the Reddaroo Groop: like-minded music nerds who know how to use the internet. Our Reddit friends organize elaborate drinking games, a craft beer exchange, and can be found dancing wildly each year to the left-hand side of the main stage.

Four days of non-stop music (the Farm doesn’t shut down at night) may seem intimidating, but Bonnaroo regulars know that it’s all about pacing yourself; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Naps throughout the day are required if one is planning on dancing back at The Grind in Pod 7 til 6am. Only a novice drinks craft beer all day (coconut water is a must-have). And if you’re not digging the show you’re at? Get up and find another. The lineup this year was dense, with impressive headliners like U2, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Weeknd; the undercards were equally stacked, boasting indie favorites like Cold War Kids and Glass Animals. We had to edit this list several times for length, a sure sign of a successful Roo.

July Talk dished out the sexual tension.

Thursday at Bonnaroo is usually the day to do a quick tour of the grounds, take inventory of the fried food vendors, and make friends with your camping neighbors (when Sunday comes, you may be out of beer, after all). However, our Canadian campmates talked us into trekking out early to see Toronto favorite July Talk. Singer Leah Fay’s borderline saccharine voice battles with guitarist and co-vocalist Peter Dreimanis’s guttural growl; the pair denies any private romance “for personal reasons” but the often physical, “Push + Pull” nature of their onstage interactions make it difficult to think of anything else.

The Strumbellas lifted spirits.

Canada hit it out of the ballpark this year, introducing the Bonnaroo crowd to The Strumbellas on Friday. The band’s 2016 release Hope is full of… well, hope. Despite the Tennessee heat, the audience danced and sang along as though they really needed those lyrics to feel true, the lines “And I don’t want a never ending life / I just want to be alive while I’m here” hitting close to home. The Strumbellas have been vocal about their positive vibes, telling AXS “We get a lot of really awesome messages from people, saying how the lyrics have helped them through hard times, like depression, or anxiety, or PTSD.” With a foot-stomping Americana sound to back it up, it’s no wonder they’re picking up fans south of the border.

In the shade with Michael Kiwanuka

The near-sunset set is always a coveted slot for performers, their audience sitting placid after a day of running around in the heat. After hitting up Tegan And Sara on Saturday, we moved over to the This Tent to watch Michael Kiwanuka perform. Songs like “Black Man In A White World” reflect Kiwanuka’s diverse background, having been raised by Ugandan parents in North London. Kiwanuka doesn’t shy away from the controversial, explaining in a recent interview with The Telegraph that “A lot of people who are way more famous than I am say they don’t feel obligated to speak out on important issues, but I do. One of the cool things about Muhammad Ali or David Bowie is that they always stood for stuff; it wasn’t uncool to believe in something and follow it through.

Dancing is required for Cage The Elephant.

Matt Schultz, the lead singer of Cage The Elephant, danced shirtless on stage, channeling a young Iggy Pop with his spastic, sexual movements. The crowd sang favorites like “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” “Cigarette Daydreams,” and “Come A Little Closer” word-for-word, their energy matching Shultz’s. Our group was so taken with their performance it was difficult to leave early for the Chili Peppers; we ended up splitting up (I remained bouncing up and down until my group dragged me away).

The Soul Shakedown makes Bonnaroo unique.

What sets Bonnaroo apart from a festival like Coachella? Many things, but the yearly SuperJam is definitely a gem unique to the fest. Each year, the SuperJam is curated by a specific artist or band. 2017’s SuperJam was presented by the Preservation Jazz Hall Band and featured performances from Chance The Rapper, Margo Price, Tank And The Bangas and more. “Hey Ya,” “Waterfalls,” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” were just some of the highlights from the horn-infused set.

Umphrey’s McGee Tears It Up (TWICE).

Shpongle was the reason my brother decided to go to Bonnaroo this year. I myself listened to Shpongle for hours in preparation for their late-night Saturday set. Due to visa issues, they couldn’t make it. Devastation. “After 18-plus years of performing more than 100 concerts annually, releasing nine studio albums and selling more than 4.2 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on their laurels.” Thus read Bonnaroo’s description of the band that would replace them: Umphrey’s McGee. I was not familiar (neither was my brother). Umphrey’s late night jam set made us forget our Shpongle woes (if only for a few brief hours) as we danced with wild abandon next to Bonnaroo’s hippie tribe.

Margo Price brings outlaw country flair.

On certain Sundays, the Reddaroo crowd doesn’t go into the festival grounds til dusk. This year, however, I had made a date with Margo Price. Price was cool as a cucumber, despite the grueling sun. She sprinkled tales of time spent in jail and her struggles as a musician in a male-dominated industry throughout her set. “Tennessee Song,” “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” and “Four Years of Chances” got the crowd on their feet and dancing. My attention was only diverted by a man struggling to dance with his scarf despite dropping it every few minutes.

Bonnaroo 2017 was chock full of outlandish characters, outstanding performances, and motivating messages. As I roamed the festival grounds, I couldn’t help but be moved by sentiments of love and community. “Some people may think [/fusion_builder_column][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”][Martin Luther King Jr.’s] dream is dead, but not at Bonnaroo tonight. Maybe the dream is just telling us to wake up,” Bono said passionately during Friday’s performance. As the Weeknd closed down the festival Sunday night, I looked around at the large crowd, singing at full voice into the darkness, and thought: We’re awake.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

PLAYING DETROIT: Gosh Pith “Gold Chain”

osh Freed (left) and Josh Smith of Goth Pith. Photograph: Kristin Adamczyk/Shane Ford

I first met Gosh Pith during their soundcheck last month at the Royal Oak Music Theatre while opening for JR JR. I remember walking across the stage and making a snap judgment on their appearance, assuming I knew what they were going to sound like (something I am guilty of time to time). I had almost made it to the stairs leading to the green room when Josh Smith released his voice into the empty theatre without music to back him. It was soulful. It was sincere. It was sensual. It was completely unexpected. “Did that sound alright?” Paralyzed with the realization that I was wrong (and happily so), the other half of the self-described “cosmic trap” duo, Josh Freed, interjected his sultry, carbonated, synth beats which moved me from my frozen stance of disbelief. Smith joined in, and I was suddenly, without wavering doubt, a Gosh Pith fan.

Last week Gosh Pith released “Gold Chain,” the first single on their independently released EP due out next year. The EP could rival The Weeknd, The Neighborhood, and likely any literal weekend or neighborhood. Freed and Smith seamlessly weave indie pop with alternative R&B with a tenderness and clarity that you’d only anticipate from seasoned multi-genre artists. “Gold Chain” is a balancing act, and Gosh Pith commits to handling the track’s softness and its expletive fervor with equal care.

“Gold Chain” shares a common thread with Gosh Pith’s overall catalogue: thoughtful and tapered production. Every element is purposeful and polished with enough room to breathe. When fusing electronic beats with guitar parts and poppy, melancholic vocals, it would be an easy out to over produce or to cram convoluted, excessive texturing into the track’s tight two minutes. The use of restraint is impressive, and allows the duo to shine in their respective lights bound by their synchronistic veil of tone, mood, and sincerity.

The most intriguing element of “Gold Chain” is also my only hangup, but because I’m so intrigued it’s more of a curiosity than criticism. The abrupt ending infuriated me at first. One second I was swaying my hips in my office chair feeling compelled to text my boyfriend something sexy and sappy (something I think Gosh Pith intended to promote) and then suddenly the song dead ends with a dreamy reverb guitar strum. I felt sort of abandoned. Upon a second and third listen I realized my anger was with wanting more. Not because they didn’t give enough, but because the story felt real enough to care. I eagerly await the second act, wondering if they’ll pick up from where they left off.

Listen to “Gold Chain” below.

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TRACK REVIEW: Coeur de Pirate “Wicked Games”

Coeur de Pirate Beatrice Martin

Francophone singer/pianist Coeur De Pirate (that’s French for Pirate Heart) recently released a new album of covers of her favourite English songs for the Canadian television show Trauma. Arguably, the best song on the album is her version of a track by another Canadian artist – The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games”. Coeur De Pirate, whose real name is Beatrice Martin, has released two full albums in French. Trauma marks her first full length English album, and it does not disappoint.

Martin is Quebec born and raised, which holds a particularly special place in my heart and is one of the main reasons I first started following her work a few years ago. When I first moved to Montreal, the only thing I listened to for the first six months (religiously!) were Martin’s first self-titled album Coeur De Pirate (2008), and her second album Blonde, released in 2011.

Those familiar with Martin’s work know that the common themes in her songs are heartbreak and unrequited love, and she delivers them with a sweet but painfully lovelorn voice. Her rendition of “Wicked Games” is no different; something about the way she sings it gives you the feeling that her heart is actually breaking at the moment. Armed with only a piano and her voice, Martin delivers a version of the song that will haunt you. Having been fortunate enough to watch her do her thing live (twice) in her hometown of Montreal, I can say that her talent is as mesmerizing on a stage as it is coming through speakers.

It is obvious that Martin wanted to strip the song into her own raw form; “Wicked Games” doesn’t sugarcoat anything and is as beautiful as it is hypnotizing. The original version of The Weeknd’s alternative R&B song is sultry, smooth and exquisite, but Coeur De Pirate was able to take the song to a whole new amazing level. Elsewhere on Trauma, Martin tackles Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”, Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille”, and the ever classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, though you should probably just play “Wicked Games” on repeat all day – just saying.

Trauma is available for purchase and download via the artist’s bandcamp. Check out Martin’s video below, and compare it to The Weeknd’s original.