NEWS ROUNDUP: Bikini Kill Reunion, Toto Forever, and MORE

photo by Tammy Rae Carland

Bikini Kill Sells Out Reunion Shows in Minutes

Girls to the front! Earlier this week, Bikini Kill’s original members – Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, and Kathi Wilcox – announced three reunion shows: 4/25 at the Hollywood Palladium; 5/31 at Brooklyn Steel; and 6/1 at Terminal 5. The band has been officially broken up since 1997 (they played “For Tammy Rae” at a book release party for Jenn Pelly’s 33 1/3 Raincoats tribute in 2017) though Wilcox and Hanna still play together as 2/4ths of The Julie Ruin. Bikini Kill have been steadily releasing vinyl reissues of their back catalog via their own eponymous imprint, as well as archiving materials – zines, flyers, demos, artwork, merch, personal photos – from the dawn of riot grrl, a movement they basically invented. But the “tour” announcement was definitely a pleasant surprise.

The punk band drew criticism, however, because tickets were only available through AES’s ticketing platform AXS, which of course left some fans out in the cold, even as scalpers began posting tickets via secondary markets in excess of $900 (face value was just under $50 with service fees). The band immediately announced a second L.A. show for April 26th; it sold out just as quickly. It’s certainly possible that more shows could be announced (particularly in New York, Hanna’s homebase) but it’s always a bummer to have to hit refresh dozens of times to no avail. At least there are plenty of YouTube clips from Bikini Kill’s heyday.

Toto Forever

When Toto penned their only number one hit, “Africa,” released in 1981, they probably didn’t think about the tune’s longevity. Sure, it’s catchy, but no one could’ve predicted its late-exploding popularity as the lyrics made their way into countless memes and TV shows like Stranger Things and South Park boosted recognition. Now, thanks to Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf, “Africa” is never going to go away – because he’s erected an installation in the Namib desert, in which six solar-powered speakers play an MP3 of the song on a constant loop.

Siedentopf told NPR that the installation was “supposed to be a bit like a treasure that only the most loyal of Toto fans can find.” Indeed, it could be anywhere along the West Coast of Namibia, as the desert stretches some 1200 miles along the coast. Being a desert, the area is “nearly rainless,” and its name is derived from the Nama language, implying “an area where there is nothing.” And while it isn’t one of the two specific African landmarks mentioned in the song (Kilimanjaro/the Serengeti), maybe the installation will finally put Namibia on the map for Toto devotees.

That New New

Panda Bear teamed up with Dean Blunt to create the video for “Token,” from PB’s upcoming LP Buoys (out February 8 via Domino).

James Blake dropped a new album with very little fanfare; stream Assume Form below.

Weyes Blood hasn’t officially given any details on her forthcoming record, but she’s shared its first single, “Andromeda,” which was produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado.

HEALTH is slated to release VOL. 4: SLAVES OF FEAR via Loma Vista Recordings on February 8 and have shared its blistering second single.


Dawn Richard (aka D∆WN) shared “sauce” from her forthcoming LP new breed, which is currently streaming over at NPR ahead of its January 25th release.

Experimental found-sounds duo Matmos celebrate the upcoming release of Plastic Anniversary (and 25 years as a band) with first single “Silicone Gel Implant;” they debuted some of their latest compositions at a Yo La Tengo Hannukah show this past December.

Swedish punks Makthaverskan are putting out a new 7″ and have shared its A-side, “Demands.”

SPELLLING shared “Under the Sun,” from forthcoming Sacred Bones LP Mazy Fly (out February 22).

Following a few sold-out reunion shows, San Jose art rockers Duster are back in the studio and have released their first single since 2000 album Contemporary Movement.

Xiu Xiu shared a disturbing video sequel to the equally disturbing “Scisssssssors;” both singles appear on Girl With Basket of Fruit, out February 8th.

Cardi B teams up with City Girls in a video for “Twerk,” which seeks to reclaim the booty-shaking dance move for black women everywhere.

Along with additional details about their upcoming collaborative album Lux Prima, Karen O and Danger Mouse shared the LP’s next single, “Woman.”

Lastly, we can’t get enough of this Leggy track from their upcoming LP and are super pumped about their January 23rd show at Baby’s All Right with Daddy Issues and Desert Sharks.

End Notes

  • Lana Del Rey, Jared Leto, and Courtney Love starred in a Gucci commercial released this week, soundtracked by Link Wray.
  • Cardi B posted an expletive-laden political rant via Instagram on Wednesday, criticizing the government shutdown. It’s already been remixed by the Autotune the News dudes. Belcalis Almanzar 4 Prez in 2o20!
  • Panorama Music Festival is going on hiatus as parent company AEG looks to secure a new location.
  • Sony has finally dropped R. Kelly in light of the disturbing allegations of his behavior toward women. Scrutiny has intensified for the artist since Lifetime aired their much-discussed Surviving R. Kelly documentary earlier this month.
  • Matt Daniels has updated his chart mapping the largest vocabulary in hip-hop, with Aesop Rock topping the list. You can toggle it so that it shows only members of Wu-Tang Clan, who clocks in at #5 (the GZA’s solo work is ranked one spot above, at #4).
  • Speaking of the Wu, there’s a documentary coming to Showtime in the spring that features the iconic NYC rap crew.
  • Bandcamp is opening a brick-and-mortar outpost in Oakland in February.
  • Gladys Knight has agreed to perform the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII on February 3rd. The soul singer made some controversial statements about Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback whose police brutality kneeling protests left him a free agent. The halftime show will be headlined by Maroon 5, with special guests Big Boi and Travis Scott.

TRACK REVIEW: ZZ Ward feat. Joey Purp “The Deep”

After not seeing many releases from ZZ Ward since her 2015 EP Love and War, her new single “The Deep” is a refreshing sound for sore ears. “The Deep” finds Ward returning to her roots (alongside MC Joey Purp), channeling the blues and soul sound she’s known so well for. Her throaty crooning and twanging guitar deliver a sobering and dark message about being stuck in a toxic relationship. It conveys feeling trapped while also wanting more from a partner that, deep down, one knows they shouldn’t be with anymore. It’s vulnerable and honest, not trying to hold back anything or avoid the sensitive subject for fear of making anyone uncomfortable. It finds Ward singing about being at a precipice: remain where you are, or leave and explore the unknown. Regardless of the chosen path, both options are scary when you’re that deep into something so debilitating.

The song samples The Charmels’ “As Long As I’ve Got You,” which was also most notably seen in Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” In a correspondence with The FADER, Ward explained that she saw something haunting in “As Long As I’ve Got You,” which she felt spoke to what she wanted “The Deep” to articulate.

Ward is expected to release her next full-length This Means War sometime later this year, so take a listen to “The Deep” below while waiting for more news on that.



Last Superbowl, while Peyton Manning cradled the Lombardi Trophy and showered Budweiser with delicious, beery shout-outs, Jersey boys Billy the Kid and Nickey Knoxx (of Camden and Trenton, respectively) were huddled around their family televisions with baited breath. A music supervisor had more or less greenlighted the duo’s song, “Champion” for use during the annual football bonanza, but as as lives go, those of professional musicians are rife with uncertainty. Plans are made and changed, nary a certitude. At last, they both heard it: their track echoing behind Manning’s words while confetti rained down in Levi’s Stadium. And just like that, Epoch Failure (pronounced epic) turned over a new leaf.

Joanie Wolkoff for AudioFemme: What was that fateful moment like for you guys?

Nickey Knoxx: I was about to give up and zone out cuz the show was wrapping up, but then while Peyton Manning said something about going home and drinking a lot of Budweisers, all of a sudden I heard our song. I definitely lost my shit.

Billy the Kidd: I mean, Superbowl is the mecca of American sports. I’m gonna be honest, I’d been drinking tons with my family and I just teared up.

The American American Dream came true!

Billy the Kidd: We always say we didn’t do too bad for two kids from the inner city.

Nickey Knoxx: When I was growing up, my mom- being from South Carolina- listened to a lot of country and gospel…Dwight Yoakam, Dolly Parton, Travis Tritt, Donnnie McClurkin, James Brown, Reba McEntire… I’m a Brown American. My mother’s Native American and Black and my father’s Black and Puerto Rican with a Jewish-German mom. So, I am the melting pot.

Billy the Kidd: I’m just Puerto Rican, first generation American. My dad’s a South Philly guy, so I grew up on Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, a lot of Harlem renaissance swag, also Bellamy Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, the Bee Gees, Bon Jovi and Metallica. Every Friday my dad would pour a glass of gin, smoke a cigar and listen to the Stones on vinyl for hours.

 So you guys cut your milk teeth on American music?

Nickey Knoxx: Definitely. Then, when we started exploring other music in high school it was all hip hop- Biggie, Naz, Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Tupac, Jay Z. My sister also got me into rock and a lot of Prince.

Billy the Kidd: I loved all the heavy hitters in rap but I also got into punk and pop. It’s just that at the time… well, you can’t tell people in the hood you listen to five white boys singing in harmony. I love Iggy Pop, too. Saliva, Limp Biscuit, Slipknot- I went the rock route.

Your live performances are bursting with kinetic energy. Did seeing any of your influences in concert shape how you carry out your music in front of an audience?

Nickey Knoxx: We go apeshit! After watching all those pop-punk bands growing up, seeing the energy those guys bring to the music- the way they pour their heart and soul into it- that’s what we do. We end up chest-naked.

Billy the Kidd: You could say we get that full blown rock energy combined with the hip hop demeanor. It’s urban pop: full of hooks but still very much blended with hip hop elements, because this is the time we live in. We’ve got a dope drummer- Mad Mike- and our bassist Lowdown Dirty Shane and DJ Big Jay. We’re each other’s hype men.

Is it possible that a band name like Epoch Failure might come across as… anti-hype?

Nickey Knoxx: We’re from the inner city and we’ve been on this musical journey together for four years together. It’s been a new epoch for our failures (laughs)… but we’re gonna make it epic! I’ve lived on both sides of life but it’s what made me and it’s what made Billy. It gave us the drive to see the other side.

What does the other side look like?

Billy the Kidd: Music is a grind. You have to treat everybody you meet like a somebody because you never know what they’re gonna bring to the table. I think young musicians need to know not to quit their day job. If you’re an artist, living by the skin of your teeth can’t work that way…. but as Will Smith said, if you focus too much on plan B, you’ll forget about plan A. The dream is music. To live it, breathe it every day, wake up and do it.

What do you do to supplement your music career?

Nickey Knoxx: I’m a combat photographer in the US Army. Billy is an electrician.

Billy the Kidd: Our day jobs feed our creativity. My work is blue collar- it’s the way I was raised. It motivates me. When I get off of work I’m all dirty and grimy and sweaty and I just want to go home and make the best song ever, so that maybe tomorrow I won’t have to go and get dirty and grimy and sweaty.

Did anyone in particular transmit this wisdom to you?

Billy the Kidd: When I was in seventh grade and my grandfather was ill and on his way out, he said, “Never give up.” Whether you’re making music or in the military or marketing or flipping burgers… be the best fucking burger flipper there is. Have some pride. We were meant to be great in what we do. A guy with a million dollars could have a penny attitude, so stay humble and dream big.

Nickey Knoxx: The best advice I ever got was to floss my teeth and wear underwear. Clean underwear make the world go round.

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