On “Thinning,” Snail Mail’s singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan, reckons with a gale-force low with a disarming directness. Her vocals, delivered carefully and veiled by reverb, hesitate between a desire to surrender to or push herself out of the haze of feeling unlike herself. The track, a highlight from last summer’s Habit, has received a video, directed and shot by the band’s drummer Shawn Durham. The video features Jordan performing the song in different locations around her native Baltimore and Maryland. The shots fixate on inbetweenness. You can watch dawn and dusk unfold into day and night throughout the video. It feels like a psychogeography—with the video’s cemeteries, parking lots, ponds and fields serveing as a map and index for the song’s sense of stuckness. In one striking moment, Jordan stands silent in a dark field while behind her people play frisbee—a burst of life proceeding indifferently to the struggle Jordan has documented in song.
Uniform released a powerful and harrowing video for "The Killing Of America," the NYC duo's second single off Wake In Fright, out yesterday on Sacred Bones. Its timing could not be more poignant—the video, which gives a hauntingly straight-forward look at the realities of gun violence, arrives on the day of President Trump's inauguration and casts yet another eerie shadow on the nation.
The video's concept was influenced by Isao Hashimoto's piece on nuclear weapons titled "1945 - 1998"— a simple map of the United States with a relentless ticker that counts off the never ending series of mass shootings the country has experienced. "Our video intends to present basic figures surrounding a complicated subject," says Uniform in a press release. "We do not wish to moralize and we offer no answers. Instead, we ask the viewer to use this data as an aid towards formulating their own conclusions."
Girard Freeloader, the newest album from Norwegian Arms, is a travelogue record. It charts the wanderings of the band’s sole member, Keith Birthday, from Peru to Washington state to Toronto to New York and his hometown, Philadelphia. The tracks have their roots in psych-folk, often based around Birthday’s distinctive mandolin-playing. But the realization of this music is forward thinking and contemporary—drawing from soul and electronic pop and, in the process, approximating what ‘80s Peter Gabriel might’ve sounded like if he were plopped into 2017. On album highlight "Visions", a tricky, time-signature warping verse gives way to a dizzying hook that somehow conjures proggy mysticism and contemporary R&B all at once.
Girard Freeloader is out now via Mutual Crush. You can stream the record in its entirety below. Norwegian Arms will be touring in support of the record starting this Sunday and be performing alongside Dominic at Shea Stadium on February 4.
Post-punk outfit YOU. recently left the busier confines of New York City and moved to frontman Trever Millay’s hometown of Detroit to record their latest LP, Bouquet. They seem to have benefitted from the change in urban scenery, with a bigger studio space and fewer stresses to compete with writing and recording. Still, the ominous video for “Hagion” trudges through dreary soundscapes suggestive of urban decay. The track begins by layering synths and guitar strumming on top of a churning bassline; bursts of drum beats punctuate the drum machine percussion. A bleak kaleidoscope lights up the screen as a toy doll floats in and out of the frame, and Millay broods, “We slave and we fight / For you, now.” Then the bassline rises, the strumming stops, and YOU. suggest light at the end of this tunnel. Whirring walls of sound sweep in and out, and more complex guitar layers on. But the original bassline returns, guitars strum monotone once again, and YOU. fall back into the murky depths from which the track began: “Without you, again / Without you, my friend."
This article originally appeared in AdHoc Issue 17. Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. (Those of you outside New York City can order a copy here as well.)
Hi! My name is Stef Chura. I live in Detroit and play in a group under my own name. I was in NYC recently for a New York minute (heh... I couldn't help myself), and I got to sit down and talk with Priests, with whom we’re going on tour in February. They’re a punk band from D.C. who have been self-releasing on their own label, Sister Polygon, since 2012. Talking to the group’s four members—vocalist Katie Alice Greer, drummer Daniele Daniele, guitarist G. L. Jaguar, and bassist Taylor Mulitz—for AdHoc, I learned a little more about the ins and outs of their label and what is was like for them to record their first full-length album, Nothing Feels Natural. They also shed some light on life in D.C. during “Pizzagate” and the armed invasion of beloved local venue Comet Ping Pong, where Taylor and Daniele work.
Stef Chura: When did you guys start Sister Polygon Records?
Katie Alice Greer: We started Sister Polygon to put out the first Priests seven-inch, in 2012. We wanted to own the means of production for putting out our music as much as we could. We all bond over music together, so the idea was to also put other stuff we really love out in the world.
Did Sister Polygon immediately grow into this bigger thing?
Daniele Daniele: It’s grown in spurts. First, it was just our stuff, then Downtown Boys, Shady Hawkins... And then around the time Pinkwash’s Your Cure Your Soil came out, in 2014, we were like, “We’re gonna be a label that does lots of stuff.” So we figured out how to distribute music, do press for releases, and things like that.
Katie: Before we would be like, “We made a cassette!”
Taylor Mulitz: “Go team!”
Daniele: We had 300 cassettes in our closet, and we were like, “We’re a record label!”
Upstate NY resident Cal Fish has done a good deal of traveling—both literal and sonic—over the past few years, as a member of the dreamy psych-pop act Turnip King and in live sessions with Jerry Paper's jazz band. Now the guitar and flute ace is preparing to release a debut record that's just as melodically oriented as his collaborative projects but which foregrounds his knack for intricate, woozy sonic layering. The video for "Autobiography #4," the second single from Cassette Traveler, is an amalgam of home videos, found footage, and clips from American politics that maps Fish's emotionally charged lyrics onto a broad and dark landscape. This is his fourth version of the same piece, made alongside video installations and two-channel video performances, and it's apparent that the music and visuals were conceptualized in a process of mutual feedback. Broken guitar riffs and pitch-shifting synths osmose into the VHS static, bestowing a sense of unrest, of helplessness against a shifting climate. Still, the whole piece retains the familiarity of a home movie, and there's comfort in "a belief in return."
There’s a heaving lurch in “Sick,” a symptom of Palberta’s tight austerity, and deconstruction of pop songwriting. Rather than rely on any sort of hook, by most standards, at least, the band utilizes a mantra, repeating a word, phrase, or even inflection, until a few things happen:
1. The mantra is manifested as a sonic force
2. The mantra has lost its semantic quality
3. The mantra’s repetition becomes comfortable, familiar, and reassuring
It may seem strange that a composition as quick and hyper-composed as “Sick”—it boasts a runtime of less than a minute and a half—can prove emblematic of the power of incantation, and yet, that uneasy, hypnotic repetition is the well from which the song draws power. I can almost hear myself joining in the chant, before the vocals break off, and I'm left nodding off to a spindly groove, and a final lithely-picked guitar lick.
Set to release their eleventh studio album FORGET on February 25 on Polyvinyl, art-pop masters Xiu Xiu debuted the video for their latest single "Jenny GoGo." The animated video is equally adsurd and foreboding as crude animations dance across a television static background for an eerie viewing that nudges you just out of your comfort zone. Lyrically dark yet cheeky verses like, “Too dead to be this dumb/ Too dead to be this young” steadily grow from whispers over drone-like synths until they explode into pulsing shrieks for a visceral throwback to coldwave.
For the past half-decade, Priests have been an anchor of their native-D.C.’s music community, releasing music by local or otherwise likeminded bands like Snail Mail, Downtown Boys, as well as Priests-related side projects including Flasher and Gauche, via their label Sister Polygon. After releasing their excellent Bodies and Control and Money and Power with Don Giovanni, the band is gearing up to release their debut full-length, Nothing Feels Natural through their own label. The album’s title track channels the urgency that’s characterized their previous music through a dizzying melodic arc to create a bracing anthem about the struggle to realize yourself against seemingly irresistible forces.
Listen to “Nothing Feels Natural” below. The record is due out January 27 via Sister Polygon Records. Priests will be kicking off a tour in support of the record with an anti-fascist benefit concert in DC on the day of the inauguration. They’ll be performing in New York with Snail Mail at Brooklyn Night Bazaar on January 28.
After practically touring non-stop for two years, New York duo Diet Cig finally announced their highly-anticipated debut album, Swear I'm Good At This, due April 7 on Frenchkiss Records. Following up 2015's Over Easy EP, Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman return with more earnest and unapologetic punk when we need it most. The first single "Tummy Ache" is unstoppable, utilizing Luciano's soft yet commanding vocals for a track that you can't help but sing along to. "Trying to find my voice," she reveals. "Surrounded by all boys." She doesn't need to yell—it's her vulnerability that speaks volumes.
The band will take their high-energy act across North America this spring, playing a handful of pre-release dates including at set at this year's Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco on February 22 and shows during SXSW before kicking off their tour on April 5. Diet Cig will head to NYC early in their cross-country trek, hitting up Baby's All Right for two back-to-back shows on April 7.