Open collaboration between four members can be difficult to cultivate, but Bad Moves make it look effortless. Featuring members of The Max Levine Ensemble, Hemlines, Art Sorority for Girls, and Booby Trap, Bad Moves is a DC indie punk/power-pop powerhouse. All of its members contribute equally to songwriting duties, making tunes that are more than the sum of their parts. “One of the founding tenets of this band was to compose, arrange and perform such that it’s not clear who wrote what, and at times it’s not even clear who’s singing what,” says drummer and songwriter Daoud Tyler-Ameen, also of Art Sorority. Their latest single, "One Thing,” which we're debuting below, is exemplary of this doctrine: vocals from all members are delicately layered, their owners made an ambiguous part of the whole. While collaborative songwriting isn’t exactly a new concept, Bad Moves’ approach is fresh and purposeful. Catch them tonight at Warsaw with Jeff Rosenstock and Martha.
The music of Bill Orcutt is potent and sharp. With its oblong chords and erratic jumps across the fretboard, it’s a ravenous exploration of what guitar music can be, expelling notions of meter and structure to focus on feeling and timbre. Though it’s often lumped in with the American primitive tradition, it’s got a rawness and complexity all its own. After honing his chops in the ’90s noise unit Harry Pussy, Orcutt resurfaced in the late ’00s and began deconstructing nearly every style of old-timey American music. On his 2017 album, Bill Orcutt, which he released on his own Palilalia label, he takes on big band standards, hymns, jazz classics, and even Christmas tunes, warping and refracting them until they point toward the future instead of the past. We phoned Orcutt at his California home to discuss his recent switch to the electric guitar, how he settled on reworking classic American tunes, and tapping into the creative power of the unconscious.
AdHoc: I read you’ll be playing electric guitar on this tour, as you did on your self-titled release from last year. What made you decide to switch from acoustic guitar?
Bill Orcutt: I started on electric [guitar], so it feels good to go back and play it. It’s not completely different, but they are different instruments and require different technique.
All of my acoustic guitars are kind of beat up, so to switch to the electric was nice, because it’s a relatively new guitar that plays in tune without a whole lot of work. I was able to record at home and on my own schedule. I knew that I was going to rework the same material that I’d been playing for the last three or four years, with electric, so there was plenty of time to [set about expanding] that stuff.
As AC/DC, once put it, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll.” Not so for Sheer Mag, the Philadelphia power-soul riff factory who propelled themselves from DIY basements to headlining venue tours in just a few years. They aren’t seeking a spot on the music industry summit—just a sustainable future where they exercise full control over the band and and its music, from top to bottom.
Their unwavering independence is clear, from their self-distributed albums, to their raucous self-booked tours. That ethos is consistent with the band’s message: be yourself, against all odds. Tracks like “Nobody’s Baby” and “Suffer Me” subvert the casual misogyny often found in riff rock, swapping it out for a strong sense of identity and open-mindedness. “Keep me out of your fantasy,” bellows front person Tina Halladay on the latter “Can you give me that one luxury?”
Over the phone from her Point Breeze, Philadelphia apartment, Halladay acknowledges the subversive nature of their lyrics. “People like rock & roll,” explains Halladay, “but it didn’t always come from the best place.” Their debut self-released full-length album—Need To Feel Your Love, out last June—is about taking the power back. “It’s really cool to see people sing along to ‘Nobody’s Baby’ like they would ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’” she says.
Though it was released in October of 2016, Fraternal Twin’s Homeworlding is a record for Summer 2017. The contented feeling of the album’s breezy guitar lines and sweet vocals is contrasted by the overarching sense of yearning—for truth? for acceptance? for peace?—conveyed by the lyrics and chopped-up compositions. “The day won’t come / until I’m ready for it / so I don’t beg,” sings Tom Christie on “Big Dipper." We live in a world of unresolved conflict, but as Christie ultimately concedes, we have the ability to make it happen—this is, when we’re ready.
In the “Big Dipper” video, premiering on AdHoc today, Christie strums, sings, and stares in a nondescript wooded area. Directed and edited by Jake Lazovick, the clip captures the record’s conflicted feeling with emotive shots and deft editing. At the song’s apex, the video juxtaposes a leaf floating downstream with a tight shot of Christie’s deadpan face beneath the sky, reinforcing the anxious contentedness of a life adrift.
There's a live video of Aldous Harding performing single "Horizon" at Auckland, NZ's Whammy Bar rock club in 2016. She fidgets and sways on the foreground, pulling at her lip and nursing a menacing stare, delivering lines like "I broke my neck dancing to the edge of the world" with blood-curdling articulation. The performance is downright terrifying in a sort of Lynchian way, the emotion palpable without any context. "That was the gnarliest version," she recounts of the performance. "I'd drunk five cans of Red Bull."
Party, Aldous Harding's 4AD debut, is a meditation of sorts: on love, loss, pain and recreation. The narrative follows a progression that feels kind of akin to molting, with her and the listener emerging after the closing track, "Swell Does The Skull," with new skin—raw and pink with change. Following many festival appearances and a national tour with Deerhunter, American audiences are just getting hip to the New Zealand songwriter—just in time for her to be working on new music, which she says she's been playing at shows lately.