Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Music From Micah Schnabel and Two Cow Garage!

In case you haven't heard, Micah and Shane are getting ready to release solo albums in addition to a new Two Cow Garage album. All of these sounds will be released via the Internetz, so watch this space as well as their Facebook page and new Bandcamp page. Each song is for sale for a dollar. I guess you don't have to buy it but since you'll want to listen to them more than five times consecutively like me, you kind of do.

First up for discussion are Micah's new singles. As Wolf pointed out at Ninebullets, these have a much heavier sound than Two Cow songs. What's interesting to me is that Micah's vocals are distinct on all three new tracks. Also, his two solo songs read like prose that were fitted to music, whereas "Let the Boys Be Girls" is lyrically tight and punchy as any Two Cow song.

Once again, Micah proves his uncanny telepathic link to my own brain. It feels like Micah's Realizations About Life happen at roughly the same time I'm having them. On the other hand, "Bang! Bang! Bang!" address political issues that are near and dear to my heart -- the fallacies of illegal immigration and, of course, the normative ideas imposed on us by, as Micah so endearingly puts it, "old, rich, white men."

Wolf and I have had a running conversation about the importance of including the voices and experiences of non-straight-cis-white-men (they don't all have to be rich) in our music coverage and, more importantly, this "scene." As a queer lady under the age of 30, I often feel like the odd one out at Two Cow shows. This is going to sound a little weird but I teared up when I heard the line about "let the boys be girls" in the song of that title -- Two Cow Garage always articulates my feelings better than I can, but it felt so good for them to acknowledge this aspect of my life as well.

Also, one of the tags on the song is "if you label me you negate me" and another is "whatever" which is pretty badass.

So like I said, I guess you could wait for the album to drop to buy these songs. But wouldn't you rather listen to them as much as you want instead?

Two Cow Garage -- Bandcamp, Facebook

Micah Schnabel -- Bandcamp

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quinn Tsan -- Good Winter

It might be a cliche, but the distinctive throaty timbre of Quinn Tsan's voice will make anyone stop in their tracks. Tsan sounds almost operatically trained, though according to her bio she spent most of her early life studying dance. She decided to switch to music, got a gig singing backup for Joe Pug, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Each song on the album is a meditative microcosm. Each has a distinctive sound, though they fit together as a whole. Its muted tones are ideal for a winter's afternoon (preferably Sunday.) "Oh! The Places We'll See!" is my favorite on the album -- it's musically and lyrically inventive and displays the astonishing breadth of Tsan's imagination. If you're finding yourself discombobulated with the start of 2015, Good Winter will help you slow things down for a little while.

Quinn Tsan -- Facebook, Bandcamp

Thursday, January 22, 2015

High Dive -- EP

It's basically not possible for me to lavish more praise onto the Bloomington, Indiana-based pop punk band. A side project of Defiance, Ohio, High Dive has consistently produced the kind of earnest, queer-positive punk rock that keeps me sane and gives me courage.

So far, the band's sound hasn't particularly changed from one album to the next, but I won't complain about that. The lyrics themselves are the main attraction here, and these meditations about entering into one's late 20s are as poignant as they are wry. The band has also added Ginger Alford to the mix, making room for some feminine energy in what's already a high and lonesome sound.

Like the band's other albums, you can pay your own price. But keep these guys touring -- they've got a lot of important things to say.

High Dive -- Official, Bandcamp

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


You've heard a lot of bands like Lovesucker, but you haven't heard them do music in quite this way. Lovesucker's self-titled EP is a forcefield of sleazy blues, southern rock, funk, and soul...all at the same time.

It's a short album but it packs a wallop. Lovesucker's got a distinctive take on delta boogie that's sure to make you return to it again and again. Zolton Von Bury's furious guitars will drag you down to hell while Crystal Crosby's soaring vocals will send you to the light. At the end of it, bleary-eyed, you'll wonder what exactly happened to you.

Lovesucker -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sleater-Kinney -- No Cities to Love

Rewind to October 2004. I'm a freshman in high school and I go the annual "Do you want to be in a band? Here are other people who want to be in a band meeting." This one guy -- an upperclassman who I had seen wearing women's jeans and a bow in his hair on my first day of school -- approached me to play in his band. I told him I was pretty bad at guitar. He said that was fine. They played riot grrl.


"You know. Riot grrl. Feminist punk rock. You won't need to know how to play guitar."


I'm pretty sure Gershon picked me out of the crowd because he thought I was gay and he thought I thought he was gay. At the time he was wrong on both counts.

We covered Sleater-Kinney's "Words and Guitar." I fell in love at first listen. I was definitely not skilled enough to play any of Sleater-Kinney's songs, so I took over Carrie's vocal parts. It wasn't just empowering to listen to women playing aggressive rock'n'roll -- it was, after all, 2004, so even though it was a thin playing field for women in rock, it at least existed -- but, more importantly, the fact that these women weren't singing a love song or an endictment of the Patriarchy (at least not in that moment) -- it was about how rock'n'roll made them feel, the same feeling it gave (gives) me. It was pretty profound. It's impossible to deny Sleater-Kinney's role in my personal bildungsroman.

I'm pretty sure every female-identified music journalist who writes about this album will start their review in a similar vein. Sleater-Kinney isn't just a lady rock band, or even an excellent rock band. They truly are a cultural force. It's so good to have them back. The "hiatus" or whatever you want to call it was probably healthy for the band. Whatever choice they make after they finish this tour will probably also be the right decision for them.

No Cities to Love is a complete 180 from their last album, The Woods. Where The Woods was earthy and organic, full of exuberant, lengthy guitar solos, No Cities pulls back. The music is tightly wound, anxious, and angular to the point of approaching math rock. That's to be expected, I guess -- the trio can't not be influenced by the electronica trends that have filtered into indie music in the last ten years. It might be fair to say that The Woods was the last great indie rock album of the decade. It was released just as Williamsburg reached its apex, when more kids were reaching for synthesizers and drum machines than guitars. "Bury Our Friends" seems to be a direct response to The Woods' "Entertain" -- the tastemakers still think it's 1984 without any of the bite, and now we're stuck "exhuming our idols" while our friends move on. It's the natural conclusion of a creative field that's more reliant on reviving the past instead of pushing for originality.

No Cities is anxious an anxious meditation about society and the self. There's a certain warmth and playfulness to Sleater-Kinney's previous work that's lacking here -- except for "Hello Darling," a playful 60s pop-like number that offers at least some explanation for the band's hiatus:

It seems to me the only thing
That comes from fame is mediocrity
How could you steal the things I love
Then keep it from me, just out of touch?


Sometimes the heat of the crowd
Feels a little too close
Sometimes the shout of the room
Makes me feel so alone

This represents, to me, another change in Sleater-Kinney's direction. While the band has always expressed its disapproval of modern society, or performed songs about depression and self-doubt, those emotions were never directed at the self. (I could be wrong...I only have Dig Me Out, The Woods, and Call the Doctor.) Sleater-Kinney's boldness is what makes me love them -- while I listen to plenty of people who talk about how shitty they think they are, it's disconcerting coming from this group of people, though certainly no less powerful or affirming.

This is already one of the best albums of the year, no doubt about it. Would I give it to a first-time listener of Sleater-Kinney? I'm not sure -- there are a lot of things I loved about the band that aren't here. But it's also okay that they're not here. There's plenty of admirable qualities in this album that would make any appreciator of music drawn to the band.

Sleater-Kinney -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Sub Pop Records

Friday, January 16, 2015

VIDEO: The Creak -- Silky Works the Night Shift

Hipster bluegrass band The Creak have put out a delightfully quirky music video for their latest masterpiece, "Silky Works the Night Shift." It goes without saying that they're great storytellers. Somebody in the band has recently discovered iMovie, it seems, and they're having a ball with it.

The Creak -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp