There’s plenty of things to be anxious about.
Human People make that clear on the latest single from their forthcoming record, Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears. “Black Flowers” starts off with an isolated drum beat that smacks of a 1960s girl group sound (think: “My Boyfriend’s Back”). Rather than hew to the sort of outdated heteronormative narrative that typified that genre, though, the Brooklyn band gives voice to internal anxiety about who is really to blame for one’s own problems. Singer Hayley Livingston oozes apathy as she asks some pretty heavy questions: “Am I lying to myself and maybe everyone else?” “What’s the point of living when you’re always alone?” “Where will you be when you’re already done with me?”
Musically, Human People aren’t breaking any ground here. It’s a catchy enough punk ballad that clocks in at just under two minutes. But the duality between the gravity of Livingston’s words and the indifferent tone of her voice elevates the song beyond its fairly standard structure, with charmingly ironic results.
Ultimately, “Black Flowers” doesn’t answer any of the questions it asks; they’re the kinds of questions best processed through true self-reflection, anyway. But any anxious person knows it’s easier to lean into despair and accept your capacity to ruin everything. Nobody can blame them for that—they’re only human.
Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears drops Friday via Exploding in Sound. Human People play Baby’s Alright on November 17 with Slow Pulp.
Sound of Ceres aims to mesmerize. The New York-via-Colorado synth-pop quartet brings its dreamy music to life with a unique live show, full of choreographed laser lights, reflective handmade costumes, and illusions inspired by early 1900s magicians. Founded by husband and wife Ryan and Karen Hover of Candy Claws, the Marina Abramovic-approved, outer space-bent group will perform at Alphaville for three shows this month in a residency for AdHoc. Each night will have an opener hand-picked by the band: performance artist Sarah Kinlaw on September 7, composer Dondadi (aka Connor Harwick of The Drums) on September 14, and a yet-to-be-announced “dream” artist for the final show on September 21.
Ahead of the residency, Karen Hover spoke to AdHoc about their psychedelic stage productions, touring with Beach House, and recording their latest album, The Twin.
You just finished a U.S. tour with Beach House, and you’re due to head back out with them to Europe soon. How was it playing with them?
It was great. We went out with them in May and we just did another chunk of time in August with them and it was great—really crazy venues that are way bigger than we’ve ever played before. It was kind of a unique experience to play in pretty opera theaters and ballrooms. [Beach House is] very light-oriented like we are so it was a very fun pairing. Basically we’re both very into visuals, but their set is a little higher-end because they have the budget to do that, versus ours, which is very homespun. It was fun seeing the two side by side.
Meg Remy’s favorite topic of discussion is repression. The Canadian-American musician behind U.S. Girls has been discussing it in her music for years, whether she’s singing about patriarchy or late capitalism. Her latest album, the incredibly funky In a Poem Unlimited, takes on some heavy subject matter over the course of its 11 tracks. On “Rage of Plastics,” woman becomes infertile after years of working at a chemical plant. On “Pearly Gates,” another surrenders her body to St. Peter as a means of entering heaven.
While that all may sound depressing, the music is the opposite. For In a Poem Unlimited, Remy enlisted musicians from the Toronto jazz collective Cosmic Range, whose horns and thumping bass bring on disco vibes as the singer croons about darkness. AdHoc caught up with Remy ahead of her Hopscotch set on September 6 to chat about crafting dance music that makes people think, the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, and how she stays afloat while touring.
AdHoc: In a Poem Unlimited caught quite a lot of buzz this year. What does it feel like to have more people paying attention to your music?
Meg Remy: I’m always a pretty skeptical person. Although I’ve maybe climbed another stair in terms of visibility, I’ll be curious to see how it translates this fall. The turnover rate with things is so quick right now. When I’m [playing] a sold-out show, or [I] see people singing the lyrics—[those] real life like examples feel exciting. It also feels very right. I’ve been working for 10 years on this project, and if I’ve been working for 10 years, I should be having some sold-out shows.
Speaking of sold-out shows, you played three of those in one night for AdHoc back in April. What was that like?
It was fun. It was very interesting to do it how it used to be done—you know, like The Beatles or Little Richard or jazz singers would do multiple sets in a night for months on end. You learn stuff about the stage that you’re bringing to the next set. It was wild to do it once and feel how exhausting it was and to be able to recognize that people’s entire careers were made up of, you know, three sets, six days a week, for six months.