Begone 2015! 2016’s here now. This is the future. Weird.
Hopefully you spent the whole of December being generally gross on someone else’s sofa watching Gogglesprogs, or lying swaddled in a sea of chocolate-stained blankets while reading that KonMari cleaning book, because living out your grossest self is what December is for – and also because last night’s New Year’s celebrations has cleansed you of all your sins. According to societal cliche, you are now new. That’s the rules.
Let me take advantage of your blank slate of a mind and introduce you to a small round of the best music from the past month. Some of it talks privilege, some of it screams about sexual objectification, and some of it just howls about gross dudes – but all of it is inspiring. Here’s to 2016.
I promise I won’t reference The Pixies first off every week, but this lot from Gainesville, Florida, have totally nailed a Frank Black sound-a-like, grisly lyrics/hooky guitar line combo and male/female vocal interplay that is undeniably reminiscent of Boston’s best.
Band members Meredith Kite and Lara Lookabaugh also host a radio show dedicated to female-fronted music, Female Trouble. They did an excellent interview last year about their show and being female musicians, talking not playing music till their mid-20s, the lack of girl bands, and their ultimate female role models. Read it here.
They’ve recently been picked up by Parquet Courts’ label, Dull Tools, and their EP will be out 15 January.
Death Vacation are Brooklyn-based crust punks with a feminist message that’s thrillingly unapologetic. “Choosing not to shave our body hair, it’s hard to be happy, let alone with yourself. My body. My choice,” growls vocalist Michelle over a chunder of push-pull drums and guitars on Object, a anthem against sexual objectification. “I’m not your baby. I’m not your sweetheart. I didn’t dress this way for you. Look me in the eyes, instead of determining my cupsize.”
Michelle also curates Not Just A Boys Club, a fest “set up to showcase bands (as well as artists) who have at least one member who identifies as either female, genderqueer, non binary, trans, etc” in New Jersey. The first one went down a storm at the end of last month and there’s already another in the works.
“Pop interventionists. Genre making legends.” is how Sydney’s Dilemmas bill themselves on Facebook, and I guess we’re just going to have to take their word for it as there’s fuck all other information about them on the Internet.
This, their first EP (as far as I can see) nestles scrappy, heavy, riot-grrrl-y choruses that take the piss out of corporate culture (“I don’t wanna go to work! My manager’s a fucking jerk! I wanna stay at the party!”) next to fervid heart feels (“Aaah, so alone,” sighs the bridge of Lettuce (Be Less Alienated). “How far must my roots grow before they reach the earth?”). Excellently unfiltered.
Here’s a “jam about the willful destruction of ego” to start your year off right. Another Brooklyn outfit, this four-piece have been in a bunch of different bands but they’ve been operating as the excellently-named Huh since 2014. Their sounds is self-described as “modern rock and roll with whiffs of mid-’90s nostalgia”, and this song deals with privilege that you’re born into and that you’re hyper-aware of.
“I born a liar, took everything I could, I was born expecting a table full of food,” reflects Tia Vincent-Clark. “I was born so happy, sucking on a silver spoon. Now I’m older I see I’ll pay for it”.
There’s even a bit of a scat singing in it that isn’t deeply offensive. A feat and a half.
Granny is a fucking cool name for a band, #ladies is a cool tag to put on your Soundcloud, and “granny made an egg for you <3” is a cool way to introduce your very cool new EP, EGG.
In its six songs EGG runs through chill reflections on rejection (Bummer, Text Me), grossed-out call-outs of the pretty but dumb (Coke Slut), and almost too real love songs about those stupid fuckers you accidentally fall for every time (Punk Hunk). Although I’m pretty sure Granny are cooler than all of us, there’s more than enough relatability here to go round, especially for girls.
Usually one half of duo Slutever, Rachel Gagliardi has gone it alone on Take Me To Honey Island, six songs of fuzzed out, heavy, heartfelt pop punk.
There’s an a deeply cheering video for second song Sad, directed by Emily Alben, available too. Watch several varieties of ‘sad girls’ shrug off their respective sorrows and get stuck into ice lollies, swimming pools and and a hefty dose of female friendship. Similar vibe to Bey and Nicki’s Feeling Myself video, and just as heartening.
Okay, maybe this doesn’t rail against anything in particular, but it’s sweet and shiny and made by two girls who obviously have a lot of hope in their hearts for 2016 and maybe that’s all we need to survive this torrid season of beetroot juices, predatory advertising and self-unacceptance.
SO – Philadelphia alt-poppers Amanda X have offered up a supremely timely love song in the form of the affectionate New Year. Yes, it’s syrupy; yes, it’s got glockenspiel and sleigh bells in it; but it’s just rough around the edges enough to make sure those Lindors you’ve been scoffing over Christmas stay firmly in your stomach.
“All I want for New Year’s is to smile from ear to ear,” wishes Cat Park, “getting lost again, as the minute hand, turns midnight”. Siiigh. Hiya, 2016.