Was it so long ago that the now infamous duct-taped banana at Art Basel made headlines around the world? When you listen to The Flower Pistils’ (Emma Gies and Micah Huang) art-pop single “Oooh Banana,” you feel you are eating it yourself. The song experiments with electronic influences and suggestive themes that defy the group’s usual indie-pop label; fuck labels. Mechanical but groovy, abstract yet profound, you can savor the single as you like. As the rhythm trots and intensifies its pace, you cannot help join it—what else would you like for a weekend treat? Stream “Oooh Banana” below for a taste of fantasies born out of exquisite sounds. – René Cobar
The music of Brooklyn-based indie pop duo Tallbird is a consistent blend of idiosyncratic and sincere, marked by joyful subject matter expressed in a manner that’s warm and, occasionally, fluorescent. Take new single “Battery” as an introductory smattering of the band’s colorful approach to sound collage — bombastic horns, a marching rhythmic core, and sweet vox by Erica Marchetta-Wood converge in maximalist fashion, yet the sound is never overwhelming and feels ever-familiar. It’s fitting then that the song’s subject matter deals with having an extremely extroverted friend who can be, in a sense, a “bit much” at times; give it a listen below and keep an eye out for Tallbird’s forthcoming record Lost Pet Poster Temple out September 25. Photo by Erica Marchetta-Wood
There’s no real song of the summer this year, given the limitations upon any sort of activities where someone might blast said song of the summer from a car radio or a boombox or a beachfront DJ setup. But that’s not going to stop musicians of all kinds from trying to make one. Disco Shrine, aka Persian Barbie, has a new track out called "Future Memories", and it’s a crunchy track that mixes dream pop with headbanging rock to create a tasty summer cocktail of a song. The accompanying music video gets its vintage look from being filmed on a Nineties-era camcorder in locked-down LA. For anyone looking for a fresh addition to their summer playlist, even if that playlist won’t leave the confines of their own home, "Future Memories" is one to pick. It’ll appear on Disco Shrine’s upcoming debut EP xoxo, disco later this summer. Take a look at the video for "Future Memories" below. – Will Sisskind
SituationChicago is a project from Quiet Pterodactyl is a designed to help support the "independent music venues of Chicago so artists always have stages on which to perform". They released is fantastic complilation consisting of a mixture of new and live recording from local artists both big and small today, July 31st.
The complilation features contributions from the like of Marcus Atom, Rich Jones, Justice Hill, Ok Go, Jeff Tweedy, White Mystery, and so many more.
Max Subar has released a self-titled EP today, July 31st, via bandcamp. For the month of August he will be donating all earnings from bandcamp sales to Sista Afya, a local nonprofit organization with the mission of sustaining the mental wellness of Black women.
This is Max’s third album and was recorded last year with the help of Jason Gordon Ashworth (electric, fretless and upright bass), Chet Zenor (electric guitar), Sam Subar (drums and percussion), Jacob Slocum (sax and flutes), Ben Phillips (trumpet), and others.
This is the work of Michael Slovenkay (Vocals/Guitar), Christopher Bartone (Guitar), Jim Drake (Bass/Piano/Backing Vocals), and Jonny Drake (Drums/Organ/Backing Vocals).
The CDC called…and boy, do they have an update for you.
Like many Austin-area musicians, The Blowies were sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneously cut out of a just-canceled South by Southwest festival and reeling from an indefinite delay for the release of an album that’s already finished, the political punk duo parted ways and headed for isolation – but not before hitting up Rock n Roll Rentals to secure enough gear to convert their respective shelters into studio spaces. From there, Sam Thompson and Tucker Jameson set out to see what would become of collaborating from afar.
When another local act began gathering the necessary ingredients for a compilation record that would spotlight Austin artists affected by the SXSW cancelation, to be titled LOST X LOST WEST, ThompsonandJamesonrespondedtothecall.TheBlowiesself-producedsomenew music in isolation with the help of their rented equipment and a ProTools free trial, and “CDC” was born – an irreverent and sassy track with just the right dash of practicality for a mask-or-be-masked world.
The Blowies have a sound one part Ramones, one part Sex Pistols, one part Joan Jett (they recently released a pitch-perfect cover of The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb”). The energy in their music is partly manic but never unsettling – the two aim to be political when they write and to attack topics with a tepid sense of neutrality, and maybe a tinge of anarchy. The Center for Disease Control was a perfect catalyst for their energy: wildly politicized by leaders and the media alike.
To hear Jameson put it, “We…set out at the beginning of this project to have a voice that spoke to current events…We have an angle on it. And usually, it’s not your typical angle; it’s not taking…any particular side in the argument but it’s pointing out the absurdity of it all in a palatable way, in a fun way.” “CDC” takes these tropes and props them up with added humor that sears the song into memory by playing on our collective pandemic hysteria (“The CDC’s got an update for me / Cozy on up to Mr. Clean”).
Satirical analysis of current events is critical to this writing duo, so much so that they are fighting to release their delayed album “sometime before the election” so as to capitalize on cresting momentum. For a band christened by an American flag-clad blow-up doll, the high stakes could matter less, though. It’s more about the absurdity of it all.
They profess inspiration from both modern Americana and Van Morrison, and Briscoe hit the bullseye on their new single, “Sailing Away”. The inspirational muses are wisely chosen, too; much of Van Morrison’s early works morphed from singer/songwriter odes drenched in the warm notes of Irish folk music to psychedelic works more in line with what the Wilson brothers were cooking up – and modern Americana, as broad a genre as it may be, has a whole branch that swings down into Texas Country Rock; the two musical stylings mesh swimmingly because the writing pushes the listener to really feel what the singer is feeling, and in turn focus less on what is being said.
“Sailing Away” beams in like an easy Galveston breeze over some finely-plucked guitar strings. The first chorus lays down the groundwork for a nicely built-up second chorus that beefs up the instrumental, while the narrator’s tone is bright and saccharine. “She told me she was leavin’,” he sings with an aching drone, a wail that tugs at your shirt from behind you as you walk away.
Whether or not he just goes back to sit on that sandy and sunny European beach, our narrator surely is going to lose the girl he wants. She’s leaving, and he’s out on the ocean of his own mind, sailing away. But is she sailing away, too? Is he really leaving her? The back-and-forth of perspective, especially when it shifts so quickly, is engaging; it lends an endearing quality to the narrator’s story, even if he is too sun-dazed to notice he’s told the same story three times.
Briscoe is the project of Austin-based musicians Philip Lupton and Truett Heintzelman. Lupton wrote “Sailing Away” and first released performance videos on his personal YouTube channel in 2017, before partnering with Heintzelman. “Sailing Away” ups the production quality from their recent releases and points them in a clearer direction going forward for more Americana surprises.
Quarantine failed to shoot a dose of productivity into our collective societal vein, but there are some among us who are managing to come out on the other side of the shutdown with something to show for the time spent. This month, The Band of Heathens uncage “Black Cat”, the stirring lead single previewing their seventh studio album, titled Stranger, due to be released this September.
The Heathens know a thing or two about serendipity; the three founding members shared billing at Momo’s as individual singer/songwriters and, according to bandmember Ed Jurdi, “organically” began playing together as The Good Time Supper Club. The band formed in earnest after a misprint in a local paper (and some clever guerilla marketing on behalf of ardent local fans) dubbed the group The Heathens, and the name stuck.
On “Black Cat”, The Heathens tackle serendipity of a more genealogical kind. As bandmember Gordy Quist tells it, “‘Black Cat’ is based on the true-ish legend of Augustinal Fonseca, the great-grandfather of an anonymous concertgoer.” The legend goes that Fonseca came through Ellis Island and discovered an “underground fighting ring in New York City around the turn of the last century” – and that he killed a panther in the ring after rising in the ranks. The Heathens are particularly adept at telling stories, true or otherwise, about strangers; considering the title of their forthcoming record, a special attribute of “Black Cat” is its nature as historical fiction in the very words of a stranger.
“Our friends at Song Confessional sent us the story from a ‘confession’ at the Newport Folk Festival,” Quist tells American Songwriter. The confessor claims to be Fonseca’s grandchild and that Fonseca lived to be 99 years old – and all the details unspool in the song, lovingly embellished by Quist’s pen. To helm production for the epic tale, The Heathens enlisted Portland native Tucker Martine, a former collaborator of The Decemberists and Modest Mouse.
“Black Cat” is fittingly slinky, with Quist’s mangled tenor navigating the sweeping drums in commanding sequences, framed by Jurdi’s falsetto issuing a stark reminder to the listener: “Know where you come from.” When focusing on where someone else came from, there is room to step back and breathe. Quist explains that the band is a “microcosm” next to their fans and that Stranger is a vehicle to demonstrate strangerhood within the music industry. If “Black Cat” is a harbinger for more lucid narrative-building from The Heathens, then we all might as well make ourselves comfortable.
The band formed ten years ago in Mexico City as El Mañana and released two albums. Since 2013, Fernando de Buen (guitar and vocals), Ben Geissel (drums), and Celeen Rusk (keyboards) have called Chicago home and are now releasing their first new music since 2014’s Muertos.