Today, we're excited to debut a track from Casey's new solo project, Greatest Champion Alive, which crystallized during a trying time. The band’s bio reads that Casey, “started Greatest Champion Alive while he was recovering from brain tumor surgery last year. The project moved around in different wobbly forms until it all made sense while he was touring in Japan, alone in a hotel room. He put the songs together, sent them to some of the best musicians he knew, and came out the other end ready to blast what he’d been working on." He has now decided to loop us in on the fun.
"Same Light," the first single from Greatest Champion Alive, is a funky, pop odyssey that has the potential to become a total earworm, with its punchy keys making way for Casey's gentle voice. The song also has strong basslines that keeps the song afloat on a pillow of cloudy grooves. Casey told AdHoc over email that, “the more warped I could make the keyboard sound, the further behind the beat the hi-hats were, the better it felt when I’d listen back.” Regarding the lyrics, he said, “it’s just about the differences in people but ultimately what ties everyone together in the end. Crazy stuff ya know, lights and things, bing bang bosh.” This song’s warmth and fuzziness will encapsulate you – check it out below.
When an artist remixes a track, it can come out of the process bearing little resemblance to its former self. This new Yoke Lore remix by Blondage, however, uplifts the original without throwing away its meat. Blondage replaces the song’s dark synths with a more percussive tempo, adding on punchy drums and synth choruses that amplify the track’s underlying melody. It feels like a new pair of shoes, primed for the dance floor.
“Sometimes I'm afraid to play someone else's game for fear of losing or coming up short,” Adrian Galvin of Yoke Lore told AdHoc. “All I can do is me, I feel as though sometimes I'm relegated to my own instincts. This remix takes ‘Goodpain’ to the opposite side of the ring for me. It goes against all my better judgment and I love it.”
In 2018, artists face an unspoken mandate to “connect” with their fans, feverishly reminding us of their existence via social media and near-constant press coverage. With non-stop access, the distance between us, the consumers, and them, the artist, narrows. But the closer we get to the artist, the less focus we seem to put on the art itself. It’s the disavowal of these games that makes a band like Royal Trux so refreshing.
Royal Trux began as a creative and romantic partnership between Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty in Washington, D.C. in 1987. From the get-go, sonic accessibility was never a Truxian priority. Their earliest records, like their self-titled debut or ambitious sophomore double-LP, Twin Infinitives, can make for a challenging listen, mostly due to Royal Trux’s penchant for atonal noise rock and extended, lo-fi jams. Later records would expose the band’s deconstructionist tendencies as they toyed with ’60s rock on Thank You, ’70s rock on Sweet Sixteen, and ’80s rock on Accelerator. These records add up to a body of work defined not just by Hagerty’s guitar fuzz and Herrema’s snarling lead vocals, but by a guarantee of unpredictability.
You won’t get to know and love Royal Trux by subscribing to their email newsletter or syncing their songs on Spotify—they don’t have a newsletter, and their music is conspicuously absent from the streaming giant. And judging from their behavior onstage and in interviews, they don’t seem particularly interested in being understood.
In advance of Royal Trux’s upcoming appearances at Market Hotel in Brooklyn on January 19 and January 20, we spoke to Herrema about the band’s preference for letting the art speak for itself. They’re not going to micromanage the listener’s experiences with superfluous context and direction. To get a sense of what they’re about, you have to commit yourself to digging. But even if you do, Royal Trux doesn’t really give a fuck.
Hether Fortune is drawn to the darker things in life. It’s a fascination you can trace to her teenage years as a self-described “angry punk,” or her work with her lovably gloomy rock band Wax Idols. Recently, she’s ventured into painting portraits, rendering friends, historical figures, and her fellow artists in pale and deep hues. Her paintings grapple with the moments of grief and joy in life, as well as the notion that the ghosts that haunt you can also provide inspiration. Ahead of her book release party on January 11 at Union Pool, where Fortune will read from her first collection of poetry, Waiting in Various Lines (2013-2017), she spoke to us about her portrait of Anaïs Nin, which appears on the cover of this month’s zine, and the therapeutic possibilities of painting. Fortune and her band Wax Idols will also perform with Future Punx and Desert Sharks on January 12 at Elsewhere.
Brooklyn’s Kolb has followed a circuitous path to his first EP, Making Moves. Kolb, first name Mike, moved to New York to pursue a degree in opera, but quickly became enamored with Brooklyn’s DIY scene. His single, “Car Song,” sees Kolb deftly straddling both worlds, with a snarling guitar and driving backbeat propelling his soaring, theatrical vocal take. The track builds up to a noisy climax, complete with droning strings and, of course, car horns. I especially love the staccato, catchy-as-all-hell guitar solo that precedes the song’s ending; when you consider the song's complexities, it’s playful in its simplicity. Kolb chatted with us ahead of the release of the EP, which is out on February 9th via Ramp Local.
Profligate is the electronic project of Philadelphia-based Noah Anthony. Throughout his many releases—including the upcoming Somewhere Else, out January 5th on Wharf Cat Records—Anthony toes the line between industrial grime, haunting ambient, and dancefloor pop. In AdHoc's review of 2016's Abbreviated Regime, we noted his "richly euphonious songs that are both deeply transformative and spiritually moving." Ahead of his record release show on January 19th at Secret Project Robot, we asked Anthony to share some songs he's had on repeat this year; he responded with twelve songs that, in his words, are a mix of "new discoveries [he's] had in steady rotation over the past year or so, along with some other perennial favorites." Check out his playlist below.
If brevity is the soul of wit, Juan Zaballa is one clever fellow. As Tall Juan, the Argentinian rocker emulates garage rock heroes like the Ramones with sprint-to-the-finish-line songs that rarely stretch beyond two minutes. His new EP, Joya Nedo, begins with a sample from a boxing match, as the ringside bell dings three times and an announcer says, “And here we go, round one!” With that, it’s off to the races for “Nine To Fight,” which gingerly gallops forward for one minute before the drums kick into overdrive. As quickly as it comes, the screaming crowd from the boxing match fades back in and the song is over, but the fight of the album is ever present. The title itself stems from a larger sense of fighting that stretches beyond its allusions to boxing. According to Tall Juan, "Joya Nedo is an expression me and some people use from where I was born [in San Antonio de Padua] when something is ok, or cool. On this EP, I wanted to talk about transvestism, this area in Jackson Heights called Vaseline Alley, where with friends we used to go at night just to check it out. Or about getting mad by not being free to immigrate or emigrate somewhere. About fights or when people don't know what they want and they try to make you unsecure."
While Joya Nedo retains the lo-fi energy of Tall Juan’s debut LP from May, Olden Goldies, the production is a little cleaner and offers a more balanced mix. It's easy to pigeonhole Tall Juan as a Ramones worshipper, but the Far Rockaway transplant’s guitar chord progressions outmatch the Forest Hills band’s in terms of complexity, even if it’s only by a little bit. The strongest of the four tracks also happens to be the EP’s longest. Clocking in at 2:12, “Out Of Town” allows Zaballa a little more space to immerse the listener into the rockabilly song’s slacker love story. “With nothing else to do, I guess I will follow you,” Zaballa sings, embodying a head-bopping Mac Demarco.
Brooklyn-based psych-folk project Olden Yolk, led by Shane Butler of Quilt and Caity Shaffer, haven’t been together for very long, and then only intermittently; a cursory search through their Bandcamp page shows a couple songs released in 2013, and a very haunting tribute to Butler’s mother released earlier this year. Their new track, “Takes One to Know One,” showcases a band that sounds, both musically and conceptually, mature beyond its years. It starts off with a loping, minor-key acoustic riff, backed by haunting strings, followed a driving backbeat and then Butler and Shaffer's circuitous vocal melody. As the song tumbles on over its eight-minute runtime, it takes on a hypnotic, trance-like quality, one that its accompanying music video—full of flashing stock images of old New York—captures perfectly.
"'Takes One to Know One' is a play on [a] phrase typically meant to assign blame through commonality," Butler and Shaffer said of the song. "Its use in the song is closer to an acceptance of our collective situation rather than a belittlement of it. It was written in our hometown of New York City--an iconic place whose icons (monuments, buildings, public art) are continually morphing and breaking down, shifting whatever former meaning had once been assigned to them. Some moments hit right when you feel like the 'writing's on the door.' The song, written during an especially jarring year of disillusionment, explores the process of finding solace in passing visages—a stranger's smile on the subway or the beauty of haphazard graffiti on a brick-laden wall. The song cycles around a group chant at the choruses. Its instrumentation is highly inspired by the percussion style of Jaki Liebezeit (of the German group CAN), a favorite of ours.”
Do Make Say Think are an instrumental post-rock group from Toronto, Canada whose music is defined by its weaving guitar lines and atmosphere of dread and exaltation. Now over 20 years old, the group recently released Stubborn Persistent Illusions, their first album in eight years. Ahead of their headlining show tomorrow Saturday, December 2nd at Murmrr Theatre, multi-instrumentalist Justin Small shared a playlist of what he described to us as “essential and influential non-post rock jams every post rock fan should hear.” Check it out below.
Self-described Brooklyn “funk-punk” group Operator Music Band create songs awash in layers of crescendoing synth and jagged guitar riffs, with sung-spoken lines and hypnotic, motorik drumming serving as an anchor to the songs’ grooves. The band’s first album, Puzzlephonics I & II–released earlier this year–served as a stunning introduction to their slightly off-kilter brand of funk; their new EP, Coördination, brings their synth experimentation and their sense of rhythm to the forefront. Lead single “Realistic Saturation” begins with the warm sound of a strummed guitar and an insistent drum beat (courtesy of Ava Luna’s Julian Fader), but a few seconds in, synths come in from every angle, and with a myriad of textures–washed out, bleep-bloopy, low and horn-like. “Communicator 4,” after riding a snare- and bass-based groove, switches it up halfway through the song for a faster, rhythmic synth trip. The five songs on the EP keep on hurtling forward until their too-short ends, the sound of a band that has the musical chops to ride a beat forever but the restraint to keep us wanting more.