Leah Wellbaum always seems to be up to something. Whether it be releasing music with her band Slothrust, or with her side project ANMLPLNET, or rereleasing music with Slothrust, Wellbaum is constantly creating, reimagining and pushing her sonic bounds. Perhaps this slightly manic creative energy is what fuels Slothrust’s antsy garage rock — the kind of grungy music that almost commands you to mosh, if you’re into aimlessly tossing your body around.
“I’ve made five full-length LPs now — four with Slothrust, and one with my side project ANMLPLNET.” Wellbaum says. “As time has gone on, I’ve become increasingly less precious about the music that I write and record. It’s the process that’s gratifying, and being overly concerned about the outcome while you're creating makes for a less present experience. To me, part of why I play music is to try to stay present and grounded.”
Seeing Slothrust perform live is different than your typical punk show. The band is clearly a unit — drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann are incredible musicians in their own right, and the three players nonchalantly produce a tight-knit sound — but Wellbaum makes it clear that this is her stage, her show, her crowd. The frontperson entirely requires your attention, with seamless, masterful guitar work and controlled yet unruly vocals.
In Slothrust’s bio, Wellbaum is described as an unrepentant aesthete. I’ll save you the time I personally spent googling that phrase, despite being a communications major, and let Wellbaum explain what it means to her instead. “I’m devoted to making work that creates little worlds you can live inside,” Wellbaum says. “I’ve always been interested in the way that art and music can be used to evoke sensations that cannot easily be put into words.”
Slothrust’s most recent album, The Pact (2018), is a direct window to Wellbaum’s inner-landscape: a craggy expanse concerned with humanitarianism, politics, environmentalism and relationships gone sour. One song in particular, “Planetarium,” touches on the irony of humanities’s selfish nature, as we destroy the planet we live and depend upon, while simultaneously being obsessed with recreating and revering nature.
‘“Planetarium’ started as a phone note with just my voice and an electric guitar unplugged,” Wellbaum says “It's funny because it's almost exactly the same as the final version, but, once I brought the guys into the song, they suggested an arrangement that evoked the blues and jazz traditions of everyone taking a solo. In the first version Slothrust did of this track, we all trade solos for as long as we please before going back into the hook. We tightened it up for the album, but we sure do love improv.”
Despite having just released The Pact in late 2018, Slothrust has already given one of the album’s singles, “Double Down,” a 2019 mix. The velocity of Slothrust’s fourth album has pushed the band to revamp what it’s just created, producing ever-changing art. Wellbaum, Gorin and Bann have been on the road since the album’s release, but it’s clear that won’t stop anytime soon, and that it also won’t stop Slothrust from continuing to create.
“Slothrust is always continuing to work on new original songs as well as covers. You can count on us to get back in the studio once we are off the road. That being said, we’re usually on the road,” Wellbaum says.
After taking a break from the internet to enjoy another weekend at Shaky Knees Music Festival, we are pleased to continue to highlight the 2019 lineup with Mipso. Releasing its fifth album, Edges Run, in April, the band took over the stage at SK ‘19 this past weekend with its electric energy and North Carolina-infused sound. — Erin Patrick
You just released your fifth album, Edges Run, in April (congrats!). How do you feel that this album is different from previous albums?
It feels wild to look back on the years we've been making music together and have the albums as milestones. This one is a kind of settled, introspective record, taking stock of where we are individually and collectively. I think it’s the product of us having been a band for what feels like a long time now; we’re like 1000 shows in together, over about 7 years. So we’ve kind of run a long road, so, like any relationship, we were in that place of questioning why we were in this relationship together, and what it meant and what was important about it.
Simultaneously, we were reflecting a lot about the November election; I think the final recording session was inauguration day. Those things were definitely looming and we were confused and angry, and had maybe larger implications to our doubts than we’d previously had. So to us, these tunes are that reckoning; not all of them, but most of them, and I think even the ones that have a sunnier disposition — if you got in deep with one of us about them — I think they’d show a dark undercurrent. We were also more confident exploring some new sonic areas with this record. I think those are obvious, but what wasn't obvious until we got deep into the session was that we'd need some space to let them shine. Hopefully that space is around enough to make that clear.
How long did it take for Edges Run to come to fruition? What is your creative process like when it comes to creating an album?
Our process has changed for each record. We're actually writing the next record currently, and doing a massive revisit and recalibration of our process. For Edges Run, we had a number of tunes leftover from our Coming Down the Mountain session that we thought would be well suited to bringing to Todd Sickafoose, the producer of the record. We also had a lot of hooks for that record that we fleshed out in the studio, as well as a number of co-writes that happened either immediately before or during the session. It was a wild mixture of the many ways a song can be born, which I think adds to the magic we thought we were finding throughout. From the start of the gathering and writing process, to the release, we had been working on the batch of tunes for about two years, I guess.
How has your musical perspective shifted as a band, and where does that leave Mipso today?
Our sound and creative process have been changing from the moment they began. There definitely isn't a set sound or writing formula we're bound to. I guess we started with a shared interest in exploring the traditional musics of North Carolina. Initially that had a pretty strong bluegrass and old-time bend, though now we are more on the folk/americana side of things, but our focus on songs has stayed consistent. We like moving people with stories and feelings, and as we've grown and experienced more music — individually and collectively — the sound has opened up a bit to what we find most true and important in the moment.
Your ties to North Carolina come through in your lyrics, which often reference southern landscapes. How has the south, and both its traditions and progress, influenced your music?
I think we are definitely a product of our home state — and the contradictions, or tension, we sometimes feel between our past and traditions, as well as our progress and fluidity, is something we think about a lot. We wouldn't be the musicians we are without the specific roots that you can find in the traditional music of our state. And we wouldn't be the people we are without the moral backbone we've tried to hone in on that lets us raise our voices when we see something deeply wrong happening. For better or worse, both of those things have brought us some attention, and we're happy to keep riding the line between the two, while staying on what we see to be the better side of it.
Which acts were you excited to be sharing a lineup with at this year's Shaky Knees?
So many! I've been hoping to see Sharon Van Etten on this tour, been waiting a long time to see Natalie Prass and Lucy Dacus, and always love checking in on Rayland Baxter and Jim James. It was an insane lineup.
This year marks Shaky Knees sixth year as a festival; it started from humble beginnings as a two-day event in the original Masquerade’s backyard, and has since then exploded into a full-blown corporate festival, complete with world-renowned headliners and fans getting the Shaky logo tattooed for free admission. And while the growth is exciting, it sometimes becomes difficult to keep up with every act on the bill. That’s why, last year, Sad Girl Co. started our Fine Print series. It places prominence on those names, listed in small font at the bottom of lineup posters, that you may otherwise gloss over. So, no need for glasses — settle in, and read up on the Fine Print sets you can’t miss at Shaky Knees ‘19.
From its start, playing out of a house on Duncan Lane, Austin’s Duncan Fellows has made a name for itself in the band’s hometown. Duncan Fellows’ 2017 release, Both Sides of the Ceiling, is a captivating set of tracks of movable indie dance beats. “And the sun was coming up, so sweet / Even though my breakfast tasted bitter / My OJ was fresh squeezed, baby,” lead singer Colin Harman effortlessly indulges on the care-free track “Fresh Squeezed.” Duncan Fellows makes it easy to kick off this year’s fest, bringing its weird, Austin energy to Shaky Knees. — Katie Lipsiner
Vancouver-based Peach Pit is an easy excuse to dip out of work early on Friday. Since releasing 2018’s full-length Being So Normal, Peach Pit’s melodic pop sound continues to create a strong, intimate introduction to the warmth and freedom that the summer months hold. Its self-titled song “Peach Pit” is a slow jam about summer love: “It's been a long season through / This rotting fruit with you,” lead singer Neil Smith smoothly sings, nodding to the emotional struggle of having a partner with a sweet exterior, while hiding their true feelings and emotions in the pit of their soul. With impressive guitar licks and sharp percussion, Peach Pit is a true salute to summer indie goodness. — KL
For lovers of Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine and the — dark, often cavernous — punk-rock from the group’s last album nearly seven years ago, Bad Books’ spot on the Shaky Knees bill is monumental. For many Atlantans, Andy Hull’s (Manchester Orchestra) distinct voice seems to evoke a nostalgia for early 2000’s indie rock, and the unbridled emotion of your late teens and early 20’s. Bad Books’ two albums give into this sentiment. Kevin Devine’s expert songwriting and trademark introspection lend an important thoughtfulness to the group; although he’s released music since 2012’s II, we’ve seen much less of him in the past few years. Devine’s appearance with Andy Hull, partnered with Bad Books’ freshly released single “I love You, I’m Sorry, Please Help Me, Thank You,” is a promising sign for all that’s yet to come. — Erin Patrick
Los Angeles-based Wallows is fairly new on the scene, bringing its brand of West Coast indie rock. Often danceable, and more often appropriate for a day on the coast, Wallows is a perfect addition to a festival that comes just as the Atlanta heat is cranking up. The group of 20-somethings make it clear through their music that they know how to have a good time, but that’s not to say that albums like Nothing Happens — released just this March — aren’t packed with opportunities for the listener to be introspective. The debut album from the group is well-composed, with an opening and closing tracks that feel like well thought out bookends. Wallows’ performance at Shaky Knees is sure to be one full of buzzing energy, perfect for the band’s 3 p.m. slot. — EP
Shredder of emotions and guitars, Virginia’s Lucy Dacus returns to Atlanta to share her gorgeous — sometimes funny, sometimes crushing — work. Fresh off a busy year of supporting her sophomore album, as well as collaborating with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker on boygenius, Dacus is pushing into 2019 with a seasonal singles series. Throughout the year, she’ll release seven songs, each timed to a different holiday. So far, Dacus has shared a springy cover of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose,” for Valentine’s Day, and a poignant original song, “My Mother & I,” for Mother’s Day. Dacus’ career only recently gained traction, in 2016, but the ferocity of her approach to music makes her set one you’ll regret skipping out on. — KG
Who are you seeing at this years Shaky Knees? Let us know over on @sadgirlco_
If you look only at the title of the most recent album by Brooklyn outfit Bellows, you might expect to hear some of frontperson Oliver Kalb’s more stripped down, primitive tracks. On the contrary, The Rose Gardener is Kalb’s most dynamic work thus far, and it’s the fullest the five-piece has ever sounded.
Sitting in EAV bar and venue, 529, amongst residual cigarette smoke and the sounds of opening band Another Michael, I talked to Oliver about his new album, his path to Bellows’ more complex sound, and the process of coming to terms with bouts of misanthropy and the changing New York DIY scene.
Sad Girl Co.: Looking back at your first LP, does it feel like the same band to you? How do you feel like you’ve evolved?
Oliver Kalb: I was thinking about that album recently — I made it when I was 18 and had never self-recorded before. It was something I learned how to do over the last few years or so. I still respect the challenge that I put myself through for that album, which was to make an album without any electronics or synthesizers and see how full I could make it. It’s definitely not where I’m at sonically anymore or how I’d make it now, but it’s fun to look back at it and see what mistakes I made that led me to where I am now.
SGC: When I listen to that album versus The Rose Gardener it’s two different moods for sure. You mentioned that you never typically record in a studio, was that the same for this album?
OK: None of the Bellows albums have been recorded in a studio. It’s kind of my way of controlling things sonically. Our second record took a really long time because there were certain sonic ideas that I wasn’t entirely sure how to orchestrate. I didn’t necessarily have the means to accomplish these ideas; it felt like there were sort of insurmountable obstacles that I couldn’t get over, so I was constantly troubleshooting. Now, those are things that would be more or less easy for me, so it’s interesting to hear the difference.
SGC: How did you decide that you’d solely self-record your music?
OK: It’s pretty boring, but I got a MacBook that had Garage Band on it, and I started screwing around on it, got a USB microphone, and literally recorded on a USB microphone and it would sound — at least at a time — incredibly crisp. Hearing my own recorded music really led me to want to do more with it.
SGC: The Rose Gardener to me seems to have a more diverse sound than your previous releases. How did you make those sonic choices?
OK: Yeah, I think that when we made Fist & Palm, there were certain ideas that I was trying to accomplish that I was a beginner at. I’m really proud of the songs on that album, but when I listen back to the recordings I think, “I could’ve done this better.” I feel like with The Rose Gardener I kind of wanted to vindicate certain ideas that I couldn’t get across on Fist & Palm. I think of The Rose Gardener as a more developed cousin of Fist & Palm.
SGC: Thematically, the album seems to express both anger and resilience. What were you thinking when you made the album?
OK: I made this album during a paranoid and angry period of my life. I felt bitterly disconnected from the New York music scene that seemed to have been overrun with power grabs and petty people. It felt kind of gross and I felt lonely and misanthropic. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone in my community. I think I worked through that in writing the album, but at the time it felt like an emergency. I felt like I was done with the world that I’d just poured 6 years of my life into. I turned to the album to express the things I didn’t feel like I could say out loud.
SGC: What’s your personal favorite track on The Rose Gardener?
OK: I think my favorite song on the album is “Count ‘Em Down.” I felt like that was one where I compositionally pushed me to a place I’d never gone before. But I think my favorite song to play live is “What Can I Tell You About The World?” I think that’s one of our most un-fussy songs, and that song in particular feels like it can channel a mood that’s a bit higher than some of the other songs on the album that fall into an angsty genre.
SGC: As far as your album art goes, do you create it yourself?
OK: I create all of our album art. This one is definitely the one I’m most proud of. I initially wanted to draw a full folding rose bush with plants curving around little scenes from the album, but I’m not an illustrator and my album covers are usually done in the most naive way. I found I wasn’t great at drawing plants.
I think I was on Tumblr or Pinterest or something, and found a weird medieval screed that was a prophecy of the antichrist, and it was extremely creepy and had roman numerals in these little boxes. There was something about it that was so obsessive and demonic. I wanted to synthesize the prophetic, demonic quality of it into something more pertinent to the album. I envisioned it as a grid with different pieces of the album throughout. I used a lot of sort of disparate imagery that together formed a feeling of unease or chaos that I think underlies the album.
One of 2019’s most sonically diverse releases, The Rose Gardener swings from bedroom pop to folk to synth-pop, and shows Kalb’s developing mastery of DIY production.
Just as it was for Kalb himself, the album is a powerful tool for resolving one’s own anger and resentment, and acknowledging that it’s OK to feel those emotions. The modern world often lends itself to misanthropy and, like Kalb, we can all fall into pits of bitterness from time to time. This LP is the what you should press play on when you’re ready to face those feelings head-on.
The Rose Gardener is out everywhere to stream and purchase, and Bellows is currently on tour with Chicago-based band Another Michael.
As the temperatures rise, and we near the start of festival season, it’s only appropriate that the number of live shows also grows. Luckily, Atlanta has a healthy music scene, with a diverse range of genres and musical perspectives, as well as endless options of venues to choose from. So, as the pollen count continues to break historical records, you may as well enjoy some live music while hiding out inside.
College radio has long been a haven for the weird and wonderful; a foundation for music discovery, curated by the most strange and spectacular members of the next generation. Georgia Tech’s student station, WREK 91.1 FM, is bringing this sense of sonic unearthing to life, by partnering with The Bakery for WREKtacular 2019. This year’s fest lineup is chock-full of experimental electronic and deconstructed club acts, featuring DJ sets from Rabit, TRAXMAN and Leonce, along with live performances from MHYSA, SCRAAATCH and Celines. Support college radio’s esteemed lineage by discovering new music and dancing your ‘lil heart out. — Kristy Guilbault
Moving from London to Los Angeles to Chicago, where she attended the Art Institute of Chicago, Lillie West began Lala Lala after being inspired by the DIY scenes in the cities she moved through. West uses music as a way to examine relationships, and come to terms with things like addiction and the loss of those close to you. Opening for Phoebe Bridgers’ and Conor Oberst’s new project, Better Oblivion Community Center, Lala Lala will perform tracks from 2018’s The Lamb. Her second LP is emotionally straightforward and musically uncomplicated. The album teeters on lo-fi bedroom pop at times, but West’s voice is more rough than sugary, and the hooks she produces are more comfortable in a dive bar or warehouse than between bedroom walls. — Erin Patrick
Massachusetts’ Boy Harsher released Careful just last month, and already the album has received critical acclaim as a standout DIY electronic album in a time where that’s hard to come by. The duo creates dark pop that is both groovy and reflective. Often described as “minimal synth,” Boy Harsher does a lot with a little. From the beginning of Careful, the listener is immersed in an almost cinematic soundscape; as the album continues, you find yourself beginning to dance, but in the dark. The music Boy Harsher creates feels personal and private, and even as the groove picks up, each track feels like a secret whispered with lips to ear. — EP
Atlanta’s blis. is no stranger to the dark stages of the emo scene, making its takeover at The Masquerade — alongside a collective of fellow locals MIGHTY, Tenth Row and Pike Co. — all the more inviting. Growing its sound through a culmination of experiences, the members of blis. have created powerful narratives through its songwriting and stage presence. Blis.’ debut full-length album, No One Loves You (2017), was a long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s stark EP, Starting Fires In My Parents House. Through the band’s sonic-melancholy screams stripped down tales of dark intimacy. Blis. embodies the friendship and community that drives Atlanta’s arts scene, making the band a true local powerhouse.— Katie Lipsiner
In an era of constant contact and a 24/7 newscycle, it’s easy to get swept up in the constant chaos of the world. Hand Habits offers refuge from the digital storm, with mesmerizing songs touching on mental health, heartbreak and the need for taking a deep breath. Duffy’s second album as Hand Habits, placeholder, is a polished step up from the band’s 2017 debut, yet retains the same sense of humbleness and sincerity.
Opening for Hand Habits is Atlanta’s Jordan Reynolds. Under the moniker Rose Hotel, Reynolds creates expansive lo-fi pop, which expands past the walls of her bedroom through the addition of trumpet, flute, vibraphone and backing vocals from fellow Atlanta musicians. Reynolds recently announced the forthcoming release Rose Hotels’s debut full-length album, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes, due May 31. — KG
New York musician Caroline Rose’s transformation between albums is absolutely remarkable. First known for take on Americana, with America Religious and 2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid, Rose’s latest release, LONER (2018), elevates that twang with raging rockabilly. LONER was created out of Rose’s dissatisfaction with the misalignment of her musical sound and her personality. Feeling as though her project didn’t properly represent herself, Rose pivitted to something louder and funnier. With songs about death, misogyny and late-stage capitalism, LONER dives deep into Rose’s dark sense of humor. — KL
Meg Remy, of the moniker U.S. Girls, was successful in bringing us one of 2018’s most interesting R&B-adjacent albums. In A Poem Unlimited is a rolling wave of sound, as Remy incorporates everything from synth to horns to strings, all adorned with her rhythmic, dark vocals. Nearly every track is danceable, while also under a veil of something duskier. Tracks like “Rosebud” seem to draw influence from dark, 80’s disco-pop — think Kate Bush. “Rosebud” leads into “Incidental Boogie,” a grimy, guitar-coated track that feels like the climax of the album. A U.S. Girls live show is bound to have you bending your knees and shaking your head to a slow groove that feels at home in a Roadhouse scene from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. — EP
Who are you catching this month? Let us know over on Instagram.
Settling into a long-term relationship can be anxiety-inducing. It’s easy to psych yourself out when trying to wrap your head around the idea of being with someone for the rest of your lives; it’s even easier to self-sabotage by assuming you or your partner will eventually wreck the relationship, so why not just nip the bud now. Maura M. Lynch grapples with this sentiment on Blush’s new single “Forever Is A Long Time.”
The Brooklyn-based quartet — comprised of Lynch (vocals, guitar, keys), Jonathan Campolo (vocals, drums), and Pill’s Nicholas Campolo (vocals, guitar, keys) and Andrew Chugg (bass, keys) — released its self-titled, debut album in 2017. Now, Blush is back with a dual single, “Forever Is A Long Time” and “What Do I Have To Lose,” in tandem with the deluxe version of Blush. Sad Girl Co. spoke with Lynch, via Email, about using demos as a makeshift diary, Blush’s new sound and what’s next for the band. — Kristy Guilbault
Why did you decide to release the demos, and why at this time?
I’ve always had a special thing for demos, and I really love listening early versions of my friends songs. These demos date back to some of the first little doodles I made when I got my first delay pedal. I just wanted to preserve them in some way because they feel really weird and raw — it’s just the sound of me having fun alone in my own world.
What do “Forever Is A Long Time” and “What Do I Have To Lose” mean to you?
They’re two of the first songs I’ve written since we put out the album over a year ago. I started this habit of coming home from work and recording little guitar demos as voice memos on my phone, just kind of washing the day off of me. These two songs came from those little sessions.
With the previous songs, I had literal years to kind of get comfortable with the idea of how to record them and share them — we recorded these almost within the same month as making the at-home demo. I think it’s a good experiment of me getting more comfortable with putting music out there, and even with the production of both songs, making them more voice-forward.
What's next for Blush?
Despite originally hailing from Bowling Green, Ky., it hasn’t taken Jordan Reynolds long to settle into the Atlanta music scene. Reynolds’ 2017 EP, Always A Good Reason, served as an intimate introduction to Rose Hotel, with minimal instrumentation supporting Reynolds’ soft vibrato. Since then, Rose Hotel has slowly unfurled — transitioning from a solo project to a full-fledged band, opening for locally and nationally recognized bands and working on a comprehensive album.
Rose Hotel’s debut full-length, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes, due May 31, is the band’s most ambitious project to date. The album features contributions from 11 different Atlanta musicians — members of Neighbor Lady, Material Girls, Karaoke, Shepherds and Palm Sunday — with flutes, trumpets, vibraphone and backing vocals reinforcing Rose Hotel’s introspective soundscapes.
“It’s a record about running from nostalgia, but also leaning into it,” Reynolds says in a press release. “It’s about transitioning through life, learning from the different phases we endure.”
Last summer, Reynolds embarked on a three-week emotional pilgrimage, in the form of a solo road trip. She had just finished the then unnamed album, and was coming into her own while healing from heartbreak. The album’s title resulted from a conversation with a fellow musician Reynolds had met while traveling. Sitting on a blanket at Postock — a music festival hosted on a farm in Wisconsin — the two women discussed their lives, and Reynolds’ newfound friend shared a piece of enlightenment.
“She said, ‘And finally, I told myself, I will only come when it's a yes.’ As soon as she said that, I felt this heat radiate all over my skin; it resonated so much with me at the time and what the record was about,” Reynolds tells Sad Girl Collective.
Reynolds has partnered the announcement of I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes with the release of “10 K.” The album’s lead single is an effervescent expansion of Rose Hotel’s lo-fi, bedroom pop roots, with darker, shoegaze leanings. Directed by Reynold’s friend Jayme Powell — another Bowling Green transplant — the song’s accompanying Super 8 visuals pay homage to the band’s old and new hometowns, of Bowling Green and Atlanta, respectively.
“I wanted to capture the bittersweet nostalgia of moving away from home, mixed with the excitement of experiencing a new city and moving forward in life. It sort of feels like a home movie in a lot of ways, and the song feels like that to me too,” Reynolds says.
With one foot in Kentucky, and one in Atlanta, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes not only marks Rose Hotel’s debut as a full band, but also Reynolds’ debut as a full member of the Atlanta DIY scene. — Kristy Guilbault
As the name suggests, Sister Species is a family affair. Formed by sisters Emily and Abby Kastrul, the Minneapolis-based chamber pop outfit channels its emotional experiences with the local arts community and mental health into experimental pop music.
“We pride ourselves on writing thoughtful arrangements that both stretch and give reverence to the pop genre,” Emily says.
Sister Species creates its artful music through the communication of emotions, exhibited throughout the band’s 2018 release, Heavy Things Do Move. The narratives and dialogues that the Kastrul sisters employ throughout Heavy Things Do Move, and the ability to create tear-jerking tracks like “Olive Branch,” catalyzes conversations surrounding personal mental health struggles. SGC spoke to Emily and Abby about Heavy Things Do Move, the importance of connecting with your emotions and what’s next for the band.
Interview by KT Lipsiner
SGC: Which song resonates most with you from Heavy Things Do Move?
Abby: That’s a tough one. If we’re getting topical, I think hearing “Flatline” sparks the most joy for me, but that might be an ego thing more than the content. I can’t believe we made an album that I actively enjoy listening to after spending so many hours making it. As far as the content I put forward, everything resonates with a different part of myself, whether that part is active, dormant or gone. It’s wild to track how you relate to songs differently as time passes.
Emily: Totally. Some songs, like “Olive Branch,” were really about moving through a feeling, whereas some other songs are spaces that I’m more interested in staying and returning to. “Mississippi” continues to resonate with me — the Mississippi river is my go-to spot when I need a place to reflect, whether in Minneapolis or elsewhere. I had the pleasure this winter of spending a few weeks in New Orleans (with my synth-pop trio Betazoid), which is where I started writing “Mississippi” in 2017. I know there are a million songs about the river, and probably a million more just about the river in New Orleans, but being at the end of the river always makes me reflect on what it means to live at the beginning of the river, where we live. When I was at the mouth of the river again this winter, I kept finding that final verse in my mouth: “Oh Mississippi / how I’ve combed your edges / like fingers thru a lover’s hair / now I am tangled / in awe of your ending / so I’ll pour my excesses in / till I forget where we begin.”
Abby: Of the songs Emily’s written, “That Dries Out, That is Dust” is both my favorite and the one I am able to connect with most. This album has so many tender, processing, moving-on songs coming from very different places between the two of us — it’s intense, in a good way, to have all of those feelings smashed together, sharing 33 minutes of sound space.
SGC: What do you want listeners to take away from the album?
Emily: I hope that they’ll remember that heavy things really do truly always, definitely move. A lot of the songs on this record came out of struggling with loss, or change or conflict. The phrase “heavy things do move” is a line from “That Dries Out, That is Dust,” and it’s been a helpful reminder for me as I move through various feelings.
Musically, my hope is for listeners to both feel welcomed into our musical world and to feel their ears stretched; I think there’s enough catchy moments for casual listeners, and then a lot of juicy nerd moments for all of the juicy nerds among us. I also hope that people can see their own stories reflected in these songs, even though they’re written from a very personal perspective. We tried to add enough metaphor and groove that there’s space for people to project their own journeys onto it.
SGC: You describe your genre as “femme chamber pop.” How does that play a role in developing your tracks that deal with mental illness and emotions?
Emily: Using our large orchestration (i.e. the “chamber” in chamber pop) to add different flavors, layers, and textures to our songwriting helps set up multiple ways for people to connect with the emotions present in our songwriting. Like, maybe some people are able to connect to the harmonies, whereas other people lock into the drum and bass groove, and others are more moved by shimmering trumpet parts. Our lush instrumentation provides a more abstract way to access these deeper concepts that we’re writing about.
We’re intentional about dynamics — choosing when to go full-throttle and when to be sparse. One of my favorite parts of this album is ending both Side A and Side B with solo tracks that Abby and I each sing with piano. Those two tracks (“Swallow Me Whole” and “That Dries Out, That Is Dust”) communicate our vulnerability really effectively. I don’t think that vulnerability is lost in the more epic orchestrations, but the contrast of those songs with the other pieces makes them feel extra tender and raw to me.
SGC: As sisters, why did you choose to work together, and what’s the deeper meaning behind it? How has this shaped your musical perspective as a group?
Emily: We’ve all played together for so long and been in such intimate spaces… Our drummer and one trumpet player are siblings, too, and and all of us have lived with at least one other person in the band. It almost feels like we’re all siblings at this point.
The name Sister Species comes from the term for the closest related species that are still considered distinct species. I have a background in biology and was really inspired by the concept of species, and how hotly scientists dispute the lines between different species. Musically, a lot of our songs wrestle with being in relationship to others, whether it’s with the natural world, intimate partners, another part of ourselves, etc.
Abby: There’s also that piece of our songs being distinctly different, but with the addition of our bandmates we’re able to make them fit into a cohesive project. The name came before the cohesion, but the intent was always there.
SGC: These tracks feel like therapy, and one that you can choose to partake in alone or with your closest friends. How did you find your inspiration for your writing on Heavy Things Do Move?
Emily: Yes, writing this record was definitely therapy! We made a lot of jokes with Jason McGlone — who recorded and mixed the record — that he was our band therapist. Also, when we practice, we always do a group check-in, which is a classic group-therapy introduction.
Abby: My writing on this is more relationship focused. More so my relationship with myself and what’s around me than with others, but there’s a pretty sick breakup song in there too. I think a lot of my writing on this album is about anticipating loss, the anxiety around it, letting go, oscillating between those feelings. It’s ultimately an exhale, though, when all is said and done. A really satisfying, big, all-the-air-in-your-lungs-yawned-out exhale.
Emily: Writing some of these songs felt like spells. Like, if I sing this same line 100 times, will my feelings shift? Some of the songs on this record we started writing as long ago as 2013, so there’s a lot of terrain that I drew inspiration from along the way: intimacy, vulnerability; maple syrup, sunrise on no sleep; the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, the end of the world; swimming, touching and not touching; time alone, friends having hard times,new love; monarch butterflies, touching plants, thaw, summer ending, Lake Superior.
There’s obviously a lot of metaphor in my songs about the cycles of natural world mirroring the cycles of my own body, such as letting go, change, etc. There’s also a lot of songs about trying to make sense of shifting boundaries and friendships in my own life.
Abby: Yes to boundaries. There are a lot of under, and over, tones about establishing personal boundaries and reevaluating standards of what makes a thriving, healthy relationship, in any context — romantic, platonic, with yourself.
SGC: Where do you find yourselves focusing your energy in 2019?
Abby: For me, my creative energy has shifted from music to baking, as I work to get my bakery (Bakery Box) off the ground and into commercial space, not to mention kneading many kilos of doughnut dough by hand because my mixer keeps eating gears. I’m really thankful that Em’s been doing all the behind-the-scenes work to keep everything churning.
Emily: Now that some of the excitement and stress of releasing the record has started to subside, I’m finding space again to write new material. We’re an independent band which basically means I do everything from booking, to promoting, to figuring out who will press the vinyl, etc., and then I also work full-time running an afterschool program for teens. So needless to say, during the hype of releasing Heavy Things Do Move, I barely had time to think, let alone sit with myself long enough to nurture new songs. But now I’m feeling ready to dive back in and start slowly introducing the beginnings of new songs to the band. I’m excited to see how the new songs will get fleshed out.
With the new material we’re starting to work on, I’m hopeful that some of it can be used in collaboration with artists across discipline. We grew so much from our collaboration with choreography-duo Hiponymous and filmmakers LoonarCity, and are scheming up ways to incorporate more dance and visual elements into our performance.
Check out more from Sister Species HERE and
As a city steeped in Southern hospitality, it’s only appropriate that Savannah built a festival to accommodate artists passing through on their way to SXSW. Aptly named Savannah Stopover, the three-day music festival not only aims to give artists a space to play before tackling the beast of a music conference, but also to give consumers a unique opportunity to stumble upon new artists.
Attendees will take advantage of Savannah’s open container laws, venue hopping all weekend to catch over 80 acts, beers in hand. And while one of Stopover’s core values is music discovery, it’s still easy to gloss over the bands listed in small fonts at the bottom of the lineup poster. As part of our running festival series, we’re magnifying the fine print of Savannah Stopover to highlight the artists you can’t miss at this year’s fest, which kicks off Thurs., March 7.
Atlanta electro-punk trio Shouldies plays Savannah Stopover to celebrate the March 8 release of their first full-length album, :), via Savannah’s Graveface Records. Frontperson Yancey Ballard has contributed numerous projects to the Atlanta music scene, but with Shouldies, Ballard has found their stride. Alongside John Pierce (Post Hunk) and Daniel Eberlein, Ballard has mastered their brand of dusky synth-pop, accompanied by vocals that at times stylistically border on spoken-word. Shouldies’ music is honest in ways that poke and prod at you, forcing you to look inward, while also inviting you to bust your weirdest move. — Erin Patrick
Following the release of her single “Room Temperature,” — and announcement of her forthcoming album Atlanta Millionaires Club, due out May 24, — Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Faye Webster will softly command the Stopover stage. The single incorporates Hawaiian-influenced slide guitar and Webster’s twangy vocals, producing a unique country-meets-islands vibe, which Webster translates into the accompanying self-directed music video for the track.
Her artist eye formed during her brief time at Belmont University, and was then furthered along with the help of the Awful Records family; Webster has shot lush portraits for Atlanta hip-hop royalty, like Killer Mike, Migos’ Offset, Lil Yachty and more. This passion for visual composition has bled its way into Webster’s aural work, such as the silky visuals for the album’s lead single, “Kingston,” which bounces from scenes of delicate flamingos to a trio of sequin-decked skaters in matching blond bobs. Webster’s two island-inspired singles point not just to the impending warmth of summer, but also to more sunny tunes this year. — Katie Lipsiner
One of the traits that makes Chicago standout from other Midwestern cities is its grit. Sure, much like their heartland neighbors, Chicagoans are kind and patient people, but their city can also be callous and unforgiving. If you soften the bitter edges of punk with Midwestern charm, the result is a Deeper song. The Chicago-based quartet released its self-titled debut last year, an album which boasts pinpoint instrumental precision and monotonous speak-singing vocals. Despite forming in 2014, Deeper’s live performances rival those of acts who have been together for decades, echoing the tight knit nature of the friend-group-turned-band. The post-punk outfit shapes jagged sonic renderings of afternoons stuck in gridlock traffic and the chasmic gap between liberal millennials and modern American ideology, descending listeners into profound introspection. — KG
After playing supporting roles in Charleston’s SUSTO for three years, Jenna Desmond and Corey Campbell decided to set off on their own and create Babe Club. The duo recorded and produced their most recent single “Hate Myself,” which roughs up dream pop vocals with fuzzy guitar riffs. The single is somewhat of an ode to Babe Club’s Charleston roots, featuring collaboration from fellow Chucktown artists, like the vocal harmonies from Camille Rhoden (She Returns From War) and percussion from Julius DeAngelis (The High Divers). Although Desmond and Campbell have years of experience honing their sound together, the best is yet to come for the duo via Babe Club. — KL
Influenced by the sky of their hometown, Winnipeg’s Living Hour whisks soft clouds against vast blues skies with three-part vocals, guitar, trombone and brushed percussion. The dreampop five-piece released their sophomore full-length album, Softer Faces, on March 1, pushing the already seemingly endless bounds of Living Hour’s sonic landscape. Lead vocalist Sam Sarty (vocals, trombone, keyboard) pulls listeners in with nebulous melodies akin to those of Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, creating the perfect aural pairing for a sunset over the Savannah River. — KG
Spring is here, and the arrival of a new season is an opportunity to take stock of those resolutions you made at the beginning of the year and shed your callous, winter skin. Whether this is done through a change in lifestyle or sonic revelations, March gives us a chance to grow and refresh. We’ve heard this throughout the new releases of 2019, so follow suit and expand your musical horizons this month. Listen to something new, and support those silver and gold artists by checking out some shows this March.
Read more below >>>>
Berlin-based, Swedish artist Molly Nilsson is a believer in — and a master of — the DIY scene. From the start of her musical career, she has handled her own booking and promotion, in addition to producing her own music; in 2009, Nilsson started her own label, Dark Skies Association. Now, Nilsson has eight albums under her belt. The most recent, 2018’s Twenty Twenty, is an acknowledgement of the often unbearable twists and turns of our modern world, and an attempt to maintain some motivation and joy despite it all. Nilsson is proficient in producing dark pop that is both bouncy and reflective; she gives us glimpses into her experiences — the seemingly mundane ones, and the milestones.
Opening for Molly Nilsson is Atlanta’s electro-punk trio Shouldies. The show prefaces Shouldie’s upcoming tour and the release of their first full-length album, :), via Savannah’s Graveface Records. Frontperson Yancey Ballard has contributed numerous projects to the Atlanta music scene, but with Shouldies, Ballard has found their stride. Alongside John Pierce (Post Hunk) and Daniel Eberlein, Ballard has mastered their brand of dusky synth-pop, accompanied by vocals that at time stylistically border on spoken-word. Shouldies’ music is honest in ways that poke and prod at you, forcing you to look inward, while also inviting you to bust your weirdest move. — EP
Creating a world around melodic dream pop, Montreal’s Anemone thrives on emotional catharsis. The quintet’s February release Beat My Distance is a driven, coolheaded step forward from 2018’s Baby Only You & I EP, adding lucious vibrance to the group's psych-pop and melodic rhythms. Frontwoman Chloé Soldevila’s lyrics teem with longing for human interaction, resulting in music built to bear your soul and dance to. — Katie Lipsiner
Making SGC’s 2018 overlooked albums list, The Beths provided us a with refreshing a refreshing hybrid of pop punk and indie rock last year, with Future Me Hates Me. Members Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce and Benjamin Sinclair exhibit their instrumental mastery on the album, ripping through guitar solos on songs like “Happy Unhappy.” Tracks like “Uptown Girl” display both percussive skill and hook-writing talent, as Stokes sings, “I will go out tonight / I’m gonna drink the whole town dry / Put poison in my wine in hope that you’re the one who dies.” She punches every word with clenched fists, in a voice that seamlessly transitions from head to chest. — EP
“If there’s a cool spot in hell / I hope you get it,” Matthew Lee Cothran sings during the hook of “Weird Honey,” and he carries this blithe energy throughout the rest of Elvis Depressedly’s discography. Cothran and Delaney Mills have been creating lo-fi pop under the moniker for just short of a decade. The duo has been laying low for the past couple of years, but Elvis Depressedly vows to make a return in 2019, complete with two headlining tours and new music. This will be Elvis Depressedly’s first release since 2016’s Holo Pleasures / California Dreamin’, and it’s sure to mark a period of growth and reflection. — KL
Since releasing As If to Say I Hate Daylight in 2011, Bellows has moved farther and farther from its original, lo-fi bedroom pop sound to something more refined and fleshed-out. Throughout this evolution, the group has managed to hang onto its DIY roots and the light, airy folk tone that makes a Bellows song identifiable. However, on 2019’s The Rose Gardener, Oliver Kalb brings us sounds that we haven’t heard from Bellows before, like the dancey, electronic bridge on “The Tower.” Kalb and Bellows bring a refreshing sincerity to the live show experience, and create a safe space to let both your pain and your joy breathe. — EP
Atlanta five-piece Yams Club is taking over 529 with their jazz-infused indie rock. The band originally started writing music during high school, drawing on how the fundamentals of familiarity can play a role in the musical process. Yams Club released its debut EP, Behind the Light, in June 2018, and has left listeners longing for more this year. “Like a moth drawn to a flame / Am I going insane,” vocalist Jade Thames bellows on the lead track “Flame,” coupling themes of anxious desire with hazy percussion. Yams Club pieces together different genres to make a sound all its own. This young Atlanta band is one to look out for. — KL
Korean-American DJ, producer, rapper and artist Yaeji (Kathy Yaeji Lee) is a force to be reckoned with. She has released a plethora of EPs and singles since 2016 that combine elements of hip-hop, synth-pop and house music. The sound that she has curated is not only entirely her own, it shows her versatility and breaks through the notion that an artist must stay within the bounds of a specific genre. Hopping from English to Korean and back again, her vocals rarely reach a volume higher than a forceful whisper. The juxtaposition of her bold merging of musical styles with her soft-spoken vocal timbre is powerful — she is both tender and strong, and the listener can’t help but pay attention. Although songs like “raingurl” and her cover of Drake’s “passionfruit” lean toward house music, Yaeji’s message is more weighty than superficial. She sings about hurt, change, betrayal and the balance of both her American and Korean influences. That she can create a track like “One More” that is simultaneously haunting and at home in a club reveals Yaeji exactly as she is: a renaissance woman. — EP
Folk trio Mountain Man released its stand-out second album, Magic Ship, in 2018 to critical acclaim. The 35-minute LP is nestled perfectly in the appalachian folk genre, and shows off the sugary, breathy voices of the three members: Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath (Sylvan Esso). Tracks like “Baby Where You Are” and “Slow Wake Up Sunday Morning” have a sound that seems to mimic the way fog settles on blue ridge mountains — they are both light and heavy, with a chill and an unmistakable feeling of being almost home. On “Boat,” the trio brings us something more traditional, a song for campfires and porch gatherings. While the guitar on the album is beautiful and welcoming, we hear some of the most impressive sounds on the a cappella tracks, like “Bright Morning Stars.” The talents of Sarle, Sauser-Monnig and Meath are undeniable, and the three women are will undoubtedly bring us more critically-acclaimed music in the years to come. — EP
Under the moniker Homeshake, Montreal songwriter Peter Sagar has constantly been evolving his lo-fi synth-pop identity. Sagar’s latest release, Helium, swaps out his signature dreamy synth for darker dancehall elements. The album’s singles, “Like Mariah” and “Nothing Could Be Better,” gave listeners a taste of what was to come, following Homeshake’s breakout album Fresh Air (2017). Helium retains Sagar’s relaxed sound, while adding in darker R&B beats to create the ultimate dance tracks. — KL
After releasing its self-titled debut album in early 2018, post-punk trio Moaning are back in Atlanta with more melancholy synth-pop. Cutting its teeth in the L.A DIY scene, Moaning relays experiences of love and distress against a uniquely darkly driven sound. The band’s debut is sharp and enthralling, and hopefully points to more music in the future. — KL
She Returns From War is Hunter Park’s Homecoming
by Kristy Guilbault
Setting aside religion and politics, it’s hard to not fall in love with the beauty of the south. Rolling hills, towering trees and nearly year-round warmth embrace visitors in an organic hug of our famous hospitality. With elevated humidity and Spanish moss draped over every tree branch, coastal cities such as Savannah, Mobile and Charleston bring a witchy energy to classic southern charm.
She Returns From War — the cosmic Americana project of Charleston’s Hunter Park — embodies this magnetic phenomenon by fusing country, blues and rock elements. Park best exhibits this on her latest full-length release, Mirrored Moon Dance Hall, most notably on “Swamp Witch.” The track further explores Park’s southern roots, and the solace she’s found through rituals, divination and songwriting.
Park grew up in South Carolina, raised by her beloved grandmother, whom she refers to as “mom.” Throughout her life, Park has watched the powerful female figures around her practicing resilience, inspiring the band name She Returns From War, but Park also gained strength through her own set of tribulations. In early high school, she embraced her identity and began transitioning, which wasn’t widely accepted by her classmates, but familial support and creating music helped guide Park through the process.
“This is going to sound weird, but have you ever been on a road trip, and there's that moment when you're driving home and you're like, ‘I've learned all these things about the world and how it works, now I'm going to go home, and I'm going to apply them to my life?’,” Park says in an interview with Refinery 29.
You can see her newfound freedom in live performances; Park exudes buoyancy, wit and strength. She gives off an overwhelming sense of electric grit, pointedly singing, “Took awhile for you to figure it out / Circlejerking with the scum of the south / I think that’s light too bright, I think it’s burning you,” with a sparkle in her eye, on “Fingerprints.” She Returns From War is a culmination of Park’s identity, passion and life experiences; it’s a reminder that, regardless of labels, you can walk through fire and not be burned.
Catch She Returns From War at SGC Presents Saturday, Feb. 23rd at The Earl.
Interview by Kristy Guilbault
Women, POC and non-cisgendered musicians took over the year-end lists in 2018, but the arts community still has a ways to go in regards to proportional representation and recognition of those who have long been overlooked. It’s far too common for a band’s sound to solely be judged based on the members’ identities, which, while important to shaping musical perspectives and lyrical narratives, a creator’s gender, orientation and lifestyle doesn’t have an end-all effect on the quality of their art. It should go without saying, but female-fronted isn’t a damn genre.
Atlanta’s Chick Wallace describes itself as “salty girl pop,” which rejects the boxing in of marginalized artists. Catchy vocal melodies, punctuated by Melanie Paulos’ vibrato, and fuzzy guitar riffs bring a distinctive grit to the band’s fitful sound. “I want to write about experiences we all face through the lens of femme and queer perspectives, without being lumped into the artistic sad girl, manic pixie dream girl category right off the bat,” Paulos (vocals, guitar) says.
Chick Wallace’s musical and social perspective is informed by the inclusivity and diversity of the East Atlanta Village music scene. Artists who frequent the smokey, hallowed stages of the Earl and 529 have created an eclectic subculture that champions intersectionality, tenacity and getting rowdy. Chick Wallace embodies this community by supporting the artists around them and crafting sharp sonic commentary.
The band made their debut in 2017, with The Chick Wallace EP, a five-song exploration of briny pop-punk. The band has undergone a few lineup changes, but believes that Chick Wallace has finally settled into a groove with its current roster: Paulos, Ryan York (drums), Tim Sherrill (guitar) and Alex Glick (bass). Part of that cohesion is due to the group switching up their writing process. Paulos used to bring complete songs to the table, but Chick Wallace now writes as a group, introducing a sense of congruity to their signature sound.
Chick Wallace will continue to push the bounds of its songwriting this year, with a new EP on the horizon and a handful of upcoming live dates. The quartet demonstrates the truly progressive nature of the EAV community, by supporting and highlighting the queer art and diversity that make Atlanta’s arts scene invaluable.
Catch Chick Wallace at “SGC Presents” Feb. 23rd at The Earl.
February is coming in hot on “full power mode” with a jam packed month of amazing musicians touring through Atlanta. February, at its very core, is about the celebration of love in all of its weirdest + wildest forms. Whether that be applauding the shifts you encounter, good or what you perceive as to be bad, or simply performing small acts of self care by attending your favorite shows to dance the night away, February has some good energy surrounding the path to giving and receiving more and more love in your life.
With so much music happening this month in Atlanta, we somehow narrowed down a few favorites to spotlight on this month’s concert guide for February.
Read more below >>>>
After releasing Heater in January via Citrus City Records, Atlanta’s True Blossom is ready to officially debut its album at 529. Led by guitarist Chandler Kelley and singer Sophie Cox, the five-piece mixes ‘80s synth with ‘70s disco elements, setting the band apart from the conventional pop scene. Heater’s lead single, “Baby,” teems with disco hi-hats and Sophie Cox’s emotional dream-pop vocals. True Blossom is currently busy planning a spring east coast tour, wrapping up a music video (keep your eyes glued to the group’s social pages) and tracking its next release, but satiate your appetite for funk-tinged pop at 529 in the meantime. — Katie Lipsiner
Slightly ahead of the release of Copeland’s forthcoming album, Blushing — due out Feb. 14 via Tooth & Nail Records — the band’s tour, with support from Many Rooms and From Indian Lakes, will be all the more invigorating. Blushing is Copeland’s first full-length release since 2014’s Ixora Twin. To celebrate the album announcement, the group has released three new tracks. On “Pope,” a voice softly whispers, “Did you dream about anything last night?,” repeating the phrase over entrancing violin. These singles beautifully retain elements of Copeland’s past discography, while also pushing their sonic boundaries. — KL
Atlanta-based group Yukons released its first full-length, South of the Equator, just last year. The trio has dug its heels into the local music scene in the past couple of years, bringing unique and engaging Latinx-influenced punk rock. Yukons will be back at 529 on Feb. 15 with lo-fi four-piece Kibi James, Chicago’s Fran, “space baby rock” quartet Pinkest and DJ Florista. The trio will perform songs from South of the Equator, giving a performance that will undoubtedly be as biting and wild as it is thoughtful, as the group uses music to unapologetically express both its pride in, and struggle with, its members’ identities as Latinx, queer artists in the south. — Erin Patrick
Based in Los Angeles but with roots in Philadelphia, both coasts inform the sound of Mt. Joy. The indie rock five-piece’s first full-length release came last year, following a string of single releases dating back to 2016. The self-titled LP was a long time coming, as a couple members of the band have been playing music together since high school. While Mt. Joy falls within the indie rock realm, its sound can be described as soulful and leaning toward alt-folk. It’s music that feels familiar even upon first listen; it’s comforting and brings on bouts of nostalgia. — EP
It’s been three years since Little Tybee’s last full-length release, but a handful of recent shows and a 2018 single perhaps point to something on the horizon. Atlanta’s own folk-pop outfit has been a staple of both the DIY and social activism scenes. In addition to contributing violin and viola to Little Tybee’s eclectic and seemingly boundless sound, Nirvana Kelly serves as Georgia Artists for Progress’ executive director. The nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization focuses on encouraging political action through art-affiliated events, such as last October’s “Turn Up the Turn Out” partnership with the Bakery, during which Little Tybee performed. So, if supporting local (and extremely talented) artists doesn’t feel good enough already, Little Tybee’s mission to further Georgia’s progressive politics certainly sweetens the deal. — KG
One of Sad Girl Co.’s goals for 2019 is to further our mission of fostering community and catalyzing discussion, by turning that self-expression safe space into something more tangible. As our first step towards making this happen, we’ve partnered with three ____ acts/bands/artists to host our very first event at the Earl. Punk four-piece Chick Wallace, Charleston’s She Returns From War and southern-pop outfit The Underhill Family Orchestra will perform, and donations will be collected for immigrant and refugee advocates Tapestri. The nonprofit is dedicated to ending violence and oppression in immigrant and refugee communities, using culturally competent education, community organization, direct services and southeastern advocacy to stop destructive norms from continuing into the next generation. — KG
Bringing a sense of urgency to indie pop, The Aces stole the hearts of listeners across the country with their 2018 full-length debut, When My Heart Felt Volcanic. The LP overflows with heartfelt lyrics and groovable beats, making it the perfect soundtrack to mending or breaking hearts. Comprised of sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, and childhood friends McKenna Petty and Katie Henderson, the all-female quartet has a refreshing way of weaving confident pop with familial bonds, solidifying the notion that women are not each other's competition. — KL
Brooklyn duo (once trio) Wet plays at Aisle 5 toward the end of February, following the 2018 release of its second LP, Still Run. Since the group’s first EP in 2014, Wet has been slowly but surely solidifying its sound and making a name for itself as a one-of-a-kind pop/electronic outfit. Comprised of songs written and performed by Kelly Zutrau and Joe Valle, Still Run presents a fuller sound than previous releases, with tracks that have been lived with, molded and remolded by time and experience. Zatrou’s buttery voice can be heard atop hooks and percussion that are often danceable, and you’ll finding yourself tapping your toes even as she sings about the tenderest of emotions. — EP
Dev Hynes is more than just a musician, but an artist able to create a world of “ugly beauty” all his own. Working under the moniker Blood Orange as a producer and multi-instrumentalist, Hynes’ fourth album Negro Swan is a vision of intersectionality, inclusion, Hyne’s personal battles with mental health in the black community and the role that music plays in unfurling those narratives. Capturing the toxicity hurled towards marginalized communities in the current political climate, Negro Swan unveils swirling R&B landscapes of all-consuming bliss and anxiety, while also creating art and love within it. — KL
Who are your top picks to see this February? Let us know!
Ahead of our collab show with headliners The Underhill Family Orchestra at The Earl on Feb. 23rd, the band takes us through their debut album, the challenges of working together from different states, and striking balance among music and other career pursuits.
Bringing southern progressive pop to the forefront of their 5-part harmonies, The Underhill Family Orchestra brings fluid southern elements from their family roots of the delta area. With three lead singers — Joelle Rosen, Steven Laney and Ben Cook — and additional vocals from Roy Durand (Drums) and Joe Grove (Bass), Underhill captures that warm family feeling. After putting out its debut album, Tell Me That You Love Me, last May and touring across the country, Underhill has continued to challenge itself by continuing to work together, despite some members living in different states, and striking a balance between the band and other creative pursuits.
Creating a successful place among the booming Atlanta music scene, The Underhill Family Orchestra has been able to put all its heart and soul behind the diverse and inclusive spaces the scene has to offer. As a DIY hub, Atlanta’s creative community has offered support and encouragement, especially to frontwoman Joelle Rosen. “Mixing your career and passion can be really scary but also really rewarding,” Rosen says. “I kind of bounce between the scary and rewarding on a daily basis.”
As a musician and editorial photographer, Rosen is constantly working to merge her place on the stage and behind the camera. Experimentation and gut instincts play a huge role in Rosen’s career and lifestyle, as her creative pursuits weave and entangle themselves in her path. Rosen finds that her “Patsy Cline on Vacation meets ‘70s couch” personal style translates into her “retro dream grunge” editorial aesthetic, which then finds its way onstage with the band. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I think just experimenting and trusting yourself goes along with getting to know yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Rosen says.
Underhill’s debut album, Tell Me That You Love Me, serves as the band’s introduction and propels these themes of growth and balance, through soulful tracks and cry-worthy narratives rooted in New Orleans elements. Rosen’s has familial ties to the delta, which trickle its way into the album with interludes of her grandmother speaking. One excerpt at the end of the album extends the ancestral bonds, as Rosen’s grandmother laments the loss of her husband over homemade gumbo, describing her last days with him.
Underhill’s strong communication and ability to listen to each other's diverse personal tastes has an effect on the group’s songwriting, since each bandmate contributes to the process. Underhill’s music is personal, combining past inspiration with present day feelings. “Chickasaw Fields” is one track especially teeming with memories. “I remember sitting in my old living room years ago when Steven came to me with the idea. I love the Johnny and June back-and-forth verse style and think it’s definitely a quintessential Underhill vibe,” Rosen says.
The Underhill Family Orchestra continues to change, but the familial ties remain. The band is currently working on their sophomore album, on which they plan to experiment with more unorthodox instrumentation while retaining lyrical themes of love and loss. Whether playing together in Alabama, Louisiana or Georgia, The Underhill Family Orchestra will continue to share vulnerability and warmth with their listeners.
Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan began making music together as close friends. The duo soon came into their own as Ratboys, after discovering their musical compatibility, and mutual love for a good melody and intimate storytelling. The Chicago-based group is now two albums and multiple EPs into their career, with no signs of stopping.
We chatted with Steiner after her opening set for Soccer Mommy, in November of 2018, at Atlanta’s Masquerade. Sitting amongst the cigarette-smokers and abandoned tallboys outside the venue, we talked about Ratboys’ past 3 and a half years of touring, and what comes next.
Sagan and Steiner began collaborating musically during college, after finding each other in a niche group of artists at Notre Dame. While their sound has evolved, it remains centered on melodic songwriting, infectious energy and pangs of nostalgia. Steiner says the most noticeable change in their sound was between 2015’s AOID and 2017’s GN. GN presents tracks that are more storied and nimble, including their well-known hit, “Elvis Is in the Freezer.” Electric guitar is more present on their second LP than their first, taking Ratboys beyond an alt-country or indie band, to something less tame.
The most recent release from Ratboys, GL, may only be a 4-song EP, but it’s packed to the brim with evidence of a more dynamic sound to come on their next full-length release. Steiner notes that her favorite track on the EP, “You’ve Changed,” is one that she’s wanted to record since high school. The song has aged well, seamlessly carrying over from the heaviness of losing friends and enduring dramatic changes under the spell of high school angst, to the impermanence and constant oscillations of your early-to-mid-twenties.
Ratboys expects its third LP to come this year, but the duo hasn’t set a date yet. Steiner and Sagan typically use a stream-of-consciousness approach to songwriting, but they have trouble writing on the road, making it difficult to pin down a release date. Some of the tracks are finished, though, and they describe what they’ve recorded so far as having more “live show energy” than anything prior. Despite the writing setbacks due to touring, Steiner says some of her most creative song ideas come during the fast-paced routine of soundchecking, night after night.
Starting in April, Ratboys will be going on tour with PUP, opening for the punk band for a five month stint. This tour comes as a precursor to the next album, and is evidence that Ratboys is expanding their breadth of sound into something that is more punk-fueled than indie rock-based.
The end of the year is a time for looking back at milestones — the events and moments that began or bookended a day, a week, a month. That often means thinking about the music that soundtracked a season, or the song that you listened to on loop.
Underneath the lists of critically acclaimed albums, there are releases still to be recognized. This list just scratches the surface of a year that was full of up-and-comers, political and social commentary, and the slow but sure leveling of the industry’s playing field.
*NOTE: These albums are listed by release date.
The Buttertones — Midnight in a Moonless Dream
With London Guzman’s entrancing sax and Richard Araiza’s melancholy vocals, Midnight in a Moonless Dream is a heavy addition to The Buttertones’ discography. The Los Angeles five-piece’s latest album picks up right where they left us in 2017, with their third full-length, Gravedigging — a tasteful crossover record of surfer rock and psychobilly. Midnight in a Moonless Dream has a mystifying way of creating an ominous environment: “Zigzag my way through a Saturday night / Look in the cupboard/ Winks and smiles /Put me down if my skin turns crimson / Other me is my soul’s seedy underbelly,” Arazia boisterously sings, against chaotic drumming, on “Winks and Smiles.” Employing psychobilly, punk and surfer rock elements, the Buttertones give rock some much needed TLC by highlighting some of the genres overlooked subcultures. — Katie Lipsiner
illuminati hotties — Kiss Yr Frenemies
Sarah Tudzin, the brains and brawn behind illuminati hotties, has an impressive repertoire of past musical collaborations and projects. From sound design for the original broadway recording of Hamilton; to studio time with acts like Porches; and serving as a production assistant and sound engineer for the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio, Tudzin understands what elevates an artist’s sound. Kiss Yr Frenemies, the band’s debut album, is evidence of that knowledge. It’s a living and breathing “tender punk” record that both yells and whispers about everything from dive bars and failed relationships, to needing to take on a fourth job to “pay off the happiness.” Tudzin starts off short and sweet with the title track “Kiss Yr Frenemies” but quickly transitions to “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” a self-aware song that teeters between a danceable melody and an angry outburst. The entirety of Kiss Yr Frenemies seems to be a pendulum, swinging vigorously but seamlessly between sweet and salty. — Erin Patrick
The Beths — Future Me Hates Me
There are few things that I love more than a good pop-punk hook — bonus points if it packs a sardonic one-two punch — and The Beths’ debut album checks all the boxes. Future Me Hates Me is an efficient way to kill an hour, along with the inflated self-esteem of your annoying ex. Frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes winds her way through the pains of new crushes and old loves, with nonchalant vocals à la Courtney Barnett. “Little Death” details the heart-fluttering burden of falling for someone, while “Uptown Girl” soundtracks a frenzied night out, complete with drinking too much and wishing the worst upon the asshole that broke your heart. With Future Me Hates Me, Stokes manages to refreshingly bare her soul without being overly earnest. — Kristy Guilbault
Big Red Machine — Big Red Machine
Big Red Machine is the product of 10 years of musical exploration by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner of The National. The warm and provocative self-titled album is the first release from the new artist collective PEOPLE — a project comprised of Vernon, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and two industry entrepreneurs, Tom and Nadine Michelberger. Big Red Machine is proof of what Vernon has long believed and embodied — there is creative power in numbers — as are PEOPLE and Vernon’s Eaux Claire festival, which both center on collaboration between artists. This album demonstrates the glitchy, digital elements of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, but with warmer tones and an aura of tranquility, rather than the unpredictability that often accompanies an avant-garde electronic album. Each track seems to move with centripetal motion; Vernon and Dessner don’t necessarily provide anything concrete. There aren’t standout “singles” on the album, and there aren’t quotable lyrics. Big Red Machine is one cohesive piece — an artistic exploration that is best consumed wholly. — EP
Mothers — Render Another Ugly Method
Following up their 2016 full-length debut, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, Mothers has returned with Render Another Ugly Method. The complex album drastically compares to the delicate tenderness of When You Walk, with monotone vocals and alluring rhythmic rock. Frontperson Kristine Leschper has an undying talent for exhibiting how mundane tasks of the body can be. “I’ve been practicing / Extreme forms of distraction / Brush my teeth / As an act of desperation / Show me a beauty routine / To erase me completely,” Leschper slowly serenades on album opener “BEAUTY ROUTINE.” Render calls out the numbness of the status-quo, with invigorating lyrics and discombobulated song structures, making it an all-consuming but equally all-important listen. — KL
Shannen Moser — I’ll Sing
Hailing from Philadelphia, Shannen Moser made her studio debut just last year, with Oh, My Heart. The album demonstrated her songwriting prowess and unmistakable vocal talent, specifically in the realm of new folk. Moser quickly followed the 2017 release with this year’s I’ll Sing — a LP that feels like a natural next step in her discography. Where artists often fall short, writing folk songs that feel inauthentic and jaded, Moser brings something fresh that can’t exactly be nailed down. Whether it’s her sugary yodel, her honest narrative or the mid-fi instrumentation, just two albums in to her career, Moser has differentiated herself. — EP
Yowler — Black Dog In My Path
Maryn Jones began writing under the moniker Yowler as a creative outlet, after moving to Philly created too many logistical challenges to continue actively working with Columbus, Ohio’s Saintseneca and All Dogs, but the project has slowly eclipsed her more collaborative works. Yowler encompasses both the muted complexities of Saintseneca and All Dogs’ plucky dissonance, all the while carving out a space entirely of her own. Jones’ 2015 debut, The Offer, quietly contemplates her newfound isolation, but the follow-up, Black Dog In My Path, takes a darker, more aggressive turn. Opening track “Angel” sweetly showcases Jones’ unique vocals, paired with acoustic guitar and minimal instrumentation. From there, heavily distorted guitar and thundering percussion take shape, such as on “Where Is My Light?,” peaking during the deceptively dancey track “WTFK” as Jones monotonously states, “Sick fucking world, and where do I get off (Where do we get off?).” With more substantial instrumentation, Black Dog In My Path deviates from the soft simplicity of Yowler’s debut, providing layers for Jones’ emotions to permeate. — KG
Basement — Beside Myself
For just short of a decade, British underground rockers Basement have been bringing their A game. So, how does 2018’s Beside Myself stack up against their impressive discography? To put it simply: damn well. Between the release of their 2016 album, Promise Everything, and Beside Myself, the band uprooted itself from the UK, to make music in the U.S. As their fourth record, Beside Myself brings an introspective revitalization to Basement’s seemingly gloomy exterior, such as on “Disconnect” and “Be Here Now.” The album is a testament to the fact that no matter where Basement’s members find themselves in the world, they always kill it. — KL
Miya Folick — Premonitions
There’s something weirdly wonderful about the detachment felt throughout your 20’s — the recurrent existential crises, scattered heartbreak, and oscillation between desperately needing time alone and craving socialization — but sometimes the isolated independence gets to you. Miya Folick’s latest release, Premonitions, offers manic musings on leaving your 20’s that you can simultaneously dance and cry to. The album concurrently opens and emotionally peaks with “Thingamajig,” a gorgeous, burgeoning ballad that addresses the sting of recognizing you were in the wrong. But the fun lies in “Stop Talking,” a funky, blunt address to a friend to drop the boy who’s “just not very nice to you.” As the sonic summation of your most fleeting years, Premonitions is the much-needed antidote for 2018, a year that seemed to drag on for an eternity. — KG
What are your overlooked albums of 2018? Let us know over on @sadgirlco_.
November is for getting out to vote, protecting your friends’ rights, and enjoying some cannot-miss concerts. Atlanta is making national news as Stacey Abrams continues to make headlines and give hope to many.
In the midst of this political atmosphere, make sure to take time for yourself and enjoy some sick concerts coming to Atlanta.
Read more below >>>
Nov. 3 / Girlpool / The Masquerade
Girlpool is back in motion since their 2017 album Powerplant after releasing two new songs this October, “Lucy’s” and “Where You Sink,”devoting this Fall to touring with PORCHES. Co-vocalists Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker each bring out ghostly harmonies on these tracks, with a Nirvana-like intro on “Lucy’s” coincides with the soft moodiness of “Where You Sink.” “You look like a kid from outer space / Always trying to plan your next escape,” Tividad serenades on “Where You Sink,” bringing up the everlasting theme of figuring things out while feeling a bit lost.
Nov. 13 / Half Waif and Sandy (Alex G) / The Masquerade
Nandi Rose Plunkett brought us one of the most unique and affecting releases of the year. Under the moniker Half Waif, she released Lavender, a record that talks candidly about both love and loss, and everything in between. Lavender is glitchier and more dynamic than anything on Kotekan or Probably Depths, and Plunkett’s voice seems stronger than ever, too. She coos softly but strongly, and begs and pleads with us to listen to her -- and it’s impossible not too. This November, she brings the album to life at The Masquerade alongside Sandy (Alex G).
The former DIY-scene artist has become an indie staple in the past few years, consistently bringing us genre-breaking, unique releases. With a sound that teeters from freak folk to punk rock, his 2017 release Rocket merged these sounds more than ever, and showcased some of his most melodic and innovative tracks to date. Half Waif and Alex G are sure to put on a show full of star power that swings from tender to raucous.
Nov. 14 / Mitski / The Masquerade
Over the course of her past two LP releases, the mononymous artist Mitski has rocked and expanded the playing field of the ambiguous genre of “indie rock.” Throughout her rise, she has maintained her authenticity and shown musically that she has more than one side. She consistently lays herself bare, whether it’s screaming into her guitar, or singing delicately atop thick instrumentation. Her highly anticipated 2018 release, Be The Cowboy is the perfect example of Mitski’s versatility. In place of her usual noisy rock breakdowns, are tracks that seem more composed, with an emphasis on piano and clear inspiration from 80’s disco, she has mastered the happy-sad feeling that her fans crave. Her fourth studio album shows us a more confident and romantic Mitski who has taken ownership of her sadness and her solitude, and knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want. This mood is evident in songs like “Lonesome Love” as she slowly crescendos into the line: “Nobody butters me up like you; nobody fucks me like me.” A live performance of Be The Cowboy is bound to be the same: a slow crescendo with a cathartic payoff.
Nov. 16 / Ty Segall (Solo) / Terminal West
The king of rock is back in Atlanta at Terminal West on a solo tour, something special to be seen if you are a regular at Segall’s mosh-filled events. The solo tour will give die-hard fans a chance for a more intimate setting with the psychedelic rocker, offering up a space for new and old tracks from a vast amount of discography. After quietly released his fifth album of 2018 on October 18th during an opening reception for his art show “Orange Rainbow” in Los Angeles, Segall sold a limited amount of 55 tapes also title Orange Rainbow. There is no telling what will come from this mastermind of hard hitting guitar riffs and chaotic vocal rhythms. While Segall has already give us three albums in 2018 let alone- Freedom’s Goblin, collab albums with GØGGS and White Fence, and an all-covers masterpiece entitled Fudge Sandwich, we wait patiently to take the stage on November 16th here in Atlanta.
Nov. 19 / Jim James (Solo) / The Tabernacle
The My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James has been busy making 2018 one for the books. From announcing his short but motivational “Future is Voting Tour” in swing district college towns, to recording an amazing rendition of “Over and Over” with boss bad rocker Angel Olsen, James has proven that he is a progressive and caring music man. After releasing his 2018 solo album Uniform Distortion, James announced a follow-up album just three months later. Uniform Clarity, features acoustic versions of the songs from Uniform Distortion. As heavy rock anthems turn into light-heart acoustic melodies, it’s crazy to think how much Jim James has accomplished this year, and what the future still holds for his music career. As Jim James prepares to take the stage on his solo acoustic tour, we are reminded that these albums reveal each other's rawness and realness of James’ craft to compel great stories into thoughtful songs.
By: Kristy Guilbault
Sometimes in the midst of chaos, the best thing to do is freeze. Nashville’s Kayla Mickelsen explores this phenomenon on, “Try,” her latest single: “Why do I try, when I don’t mind?,” Mickelsen muses on the song’s chorus. Her warbling vocals reflect the oscillation between apathy and turmoil.
“The song came about as a literal spit up of words; the whole thing lyrically is a stream of consciousness,” Mickelsen tells Sad Girl Collective. “Normally, I’d go back and edit something like that, but it worked for this song. The song, to me, represents an internal conflict of trying so hard and also feeling like nothing really matters at all."
“Try” leisurely arrives as Mickelsen’s second single, from her debut album due out early summer 2019.
Listen to the dizzying track below.
Saintseneca’s newest album Pillar of Na brings a simpler sound from the five-piece than previous releases have demonstrated. However, streamlining their recording and production process doesn’t mean sacrificing their signature creative instrumentation. The group’s fourth album is a look at endings, and the memories that lead to them. Listening to Pillar of Na means reconciling your own past and recognizing the need to move forward.
The reconciliation isn’t always somber, though – the overarching feeling is a fond nostalgia, and an acceptance of finality.
>> Read our conversation with the band below >>
Tell me a little bit about your journey from your last record to Pillar of Na. What sort of changes can listeners expect in your sound? What sort of growth?
In the past we created dense recordings with literally hundreds of layers. Maybe sometimes I got a little carried away. I wanted these songs to breathe. I tried to keep this record as minimal and raw as possible, while retaining some mysterious and surreal textures. I wanted to hear the room, to hear the air and the space. We tried to create a document that wasn't overly manicured. The unanticipated moments that might be “accidents” can be the most honest and beautiful. I wanted to provide space for that kind of thing to happen.
How did Pillar of Na get its name?
Pillar of Na has a braided meaning. It is a reference to the Old Testament story of Lot's wife. While fleeing a Sodom and Gomorrah, as the cities are being destroyed, she is warned to not look back. She does, and turns into a pillar of salt. Na is the chemical symbol for sodium. Na is the nonsense song lyric "na na na." It is the passive decline, "nah.” I liked connecting this to the expression "being a pillar," as in, Stalwart, a bastion of universal nothing.
You guys are known for using an array of unique instruments in your music -- what sort of instrumentation is found on this album?
Some of of the more eccentric instruments are mandola, bouzouki, hammered dulcimer, mellotron. We also had the opportunity to bring in some folks to play flute, piccolo, bass trumpet. An exciting moment was bringing in a string quartet with members of the Omaha symphony.
Many of the songs on the album seem to deal with mortality and the way we handle it. Is that where your mind was when writing this record?
The overarching theme of the record is memory. Death and mortality certainly can be a part of that. Death is punctuation; endings are an inflection point. As we move forward, we're constantly looking back, forced to reconcile the present to the past. I think those moments of punctuation often facilitate the conjuring of old memories.
On “Timshel,” you sing the line, “Good-hearted Christians / Whip out their weapons / Push them against some sinner’s side.” In the current social and political climate, this seems like an overt statement about where things stand. What did you have in mind with this lyric and this song?
I'd say that line is more about how beliefs can be weaponized, which certainly happens in today's social climate. I first encountered the word "Timshel" in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The characters are studying the tale of Cain and Abel from the Old Testament. Cain murders Abel out of jealousy, after God prefers Abel's sacrifice to Cain's. Timshel is a hebrew word God says to Cain referring to "Sin lying in wait at the door" — it translates to "Thou shalt triumph over it." In East of Eden, Steinbeck translates it to "Thou Mayest.” I liked how Steinbeck's characters grapple with the notion of inheriting these ancient flaws. They wonder if they are doomed to perpetuate the same mistakes, or if there is hope of transcendence?
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about this album, tour or the band’s direction as a whole?
We're on tour, come say hi!