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.
A few months ago, AdHoc shared Honey Harper’s debut single, “Pharaoh.” The track—a slow-burn country tune that was ten years in the making—kicks off his debut EP, Universal Country, out now on Arbutus Records. Harper, aka London-based William Fussell, has a knack for carving out a wistful, nostalgic space within his lyrics and melodies. On the mournful “Secret,” Fussell seems like he’s one drawn-out syllable away from breaking into tears, singing, “How long must I belong to this?” The country-western “SOFR” chugs along with the help of a soft drumbeat and weeping pedal steel; one imagines the song wafting from a jukebox in a low-lit bar, everyone staring into their half-empty glasses. The songs draw the best out of the genre Harper chooses to constrain himself in: an art both immediate and indelible in its vivid evocations of longing.
This piece appears in AdHoc Issue 23. Download a PDF of this zine at this link.
Life is complicated, and so are the Downtown Boys. Like the roses that adorn the cover of their latest album, Cost of Living, their genre-exploding punk sound embraces beauty and crudeness, softness and thorniness. On stage, frontwoman Victoria Ruiz seethes about capitalist exploitation and white supremacy while speaking vulnerably about her experiences as a woman of color—sometimes all in one breath.
The Providence four-piece’s thunderous new album bolsters these revolutionary messages with a new sonic clarity, one that sets blistering guitar riffage and Ruiz’s condemnations of the Trump administration front and center. Ahead of their upcoming show on November 17 at Brooklyn Bazaar, Ruiz spoke to AdHoc about the gendered and racialized labor of resistance, as well as the challenges of inhabiting a musical space that commingles English and Spanish language lyrics, punk and Mexican tejano music.
AdHoc: Downtown Boys is getting quite a bit of press around the new album. How has all the attention altered your approach to recording and releasing music?
For a lot of us, this was our first rock band like this. So after six years, we’re gonna be a little bit more refined. We wanted to break away from being typed solely as a punk band; we have always felt like we’re part of many genres, and not fully part of any genre. We also think about [creating] a sound that opens the accessibility to the music.
We’ve always been influenced by Sun Ra Arkestra, a lot of Tejano music, and Mexican music—a sort of elegant chaos. And I think we seek people who are looking for that elegant chaos—and a message, and a space that you can’t quickly define [using] labels that you already know.
Clearly, we’re in it because we believe in the people who believe in us and are part of a bigger community and collective power. We’re committed to proclaiming our messages of protest and crystallizing our dissent. Still, I think our growing platform has both motivated and challenged our message and what we believe in. When the message gets too set in stone, we try to transform it and find a new dimension [within] it.
Local Brooklyn by way of Connecticut indie-rockers Furnsss released a self-titled tape today, their first major release since Silent Gold in 2015. Lead by songwriter, guitar player, and singer Brendan Dyer, the band has crafted six well-composed indie rock highlights. Songs like “Roll With It” and “Drag” are loud and sweeping, with crunchy guitar riffs that sound like something out of early Pavement. Other tracks feature rhythms that nod to contemporaries such as Hoops, Swings, or Mac Demarco. Speaking with AdHoc about the new release, Brendan casts a wide net of influences, including Michael Jackson’s Bad, which he says inspired the swinging rhythm on “Divine.” Overall, Brendan has constructed a great rock tape, one as concise and focused as it is compelling.