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New Music Review

Notable Releases of 2022 (So Far)

As artists continue to reassemble themselves after being perpetually shut inside for over a year and a half–many of them refusing to release music until they’re able to tour again–new records in 2022 are continuing to illuminate what each artist’s process of self re-examination looks like in light of the pandemic.

Here is a list of some my favorite records of the year so far by womxn and non-binary artists.

Guerilla Toss: Famously Alive

This is the sound of Guerilla Toss at their euphoric peak. Lead singer Kassie Carlson has spoken at length about taking an active role in her self-healing in the midst of 2020 lockdown, and that sense of peace is apparent on the album in the most quintessential Guerilla Toss way, complete with driving percussion, schizophrenic synths distorted to high heaven, and lyrics about treating the body as a sanctuary rather than a prison.

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Sunflower Bean: Headful of Sugar

Just in the last few weeks, Sunflower Bean has gained legions of new followers since their song “Moment in the Sun” was featured in the viral web-comic-turned-Netflix-series Heartstopper–a therapeutic gift to the LGBTQIA+ community if there ever was one–just in time for their album release, too! And for people already familiar with the band’s work, this record is an undeniable breakthrough. I got to hear Headful of Sugar in advance of the release, and I was utterly floored by every artistic decision, from Julia Cumming’s euphoric melodies on the breezy dancefloor paean “Post Love,” to Nick Kivlen’s starry Marquee Moon-esque guitar solos on “Who Put You Up to This,” and the immediate, clashing orchestrations on the dystopian “Roll the Dice.” This album is an entirely new introduction to the trio who’ve been proclaimed “the hardest working band in New York City,” and they deserve every ounce of meteoric success that’s headed their way.

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Wet Leg: Wet Leg

Consider my muffin buttered. Ever since their 2021 debut single “Chaise Longue” went viral, Isle of Wight post punk duo Wet Leg have been touted one of the most promising new bands of the decade by nearly every music publication in existence. Lead singer Rhian Teasdale’s trademark sardonic and hilarious lyrics (“Suck the life from my eyes/It feels nice, I’m scrolling, I’m scrolling, ahhhhh”) paired with Hester Chambers’ accented downstrokes make for a potent elixir, combining all the driving musical elements of our favorite garage rock revival bands (The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) with the introspective, belly laugh-inducing lyrics of their whip-smart ’80s forbears (Delta 5, Gang of Four).

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Warpaint: Radiate Like This

Recorded and pieced together from separate locations in the midst of lockdown, Radiate Like This is a wholly different Warpaint experience. Each dreamy track is sparse and ethereal with eerie, warm tones. Each band member’s respective parts are layered together masterfully in equal measure. Hearing Emily Kokal’s soft and inviting croons on the lead single “Stevie” feels like the most warm and enveloping hug from a dear friend I haven’t seen in ages. It is the perfect reintroduction to the band after their six-year hiatus.

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Chelsea Jade: Soft Spot

When Chelsea Jade isn’t writing songs for global pop stars, dancing in Lorde’s music videos, or creating graphic designs for bands like Deafheaven, she’s building an immersive world of buzzing and intelligent pop. Whether she’s musing on vulnerability and desire on “Optimist,” waxing philosophical about the concept of idol worship on “Superfan,” or bringing listeners to the dance floor on “Best Behavior,” it’s obvious that in addition to knowing exactly what she’s talking about, Jade has also had a blast making this album.

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SASAMI: Squeeze

Squeeze opens with “Skin a Rat,” a violent sludge metal polemic on the perils of late capitalism with Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren on drums. If that alone isn’t enough to get listeners onboard with this project, I don’t know what is. SASAMI is an agent of pure chaos on several cuts on this album. But she balances the chaos superbly with a capacity for restraint, as can be heard on sparser cuts like “Call Me Home,” and “Not a Love Song.” But my favorite has got to be “The Greatest,” which achieves a perfect middle ground between both extremes. If this album doesn’t get to the top of everybody’s “Best Of” lists by the end of the year, I will riot. That’s a promise.

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Mitski: Laurel Hell

Named after the dense laurel bush thickets in the Southern Appalachian mountains, emotional entanglement is the most prescient theme on Laurel Hell. Mitski reflects on her turbulent, co-dependent relationship to music on tracks like “Everyone,” and “Working for the Knife.” Laurel Hell is also her most sonically expansive record yet, from the warm synth pads to the clashing pianos, clanging percussion, and soaring guitar feedback that is at times dissonant and overwhelming. Mitski knows that her painstaking self-awareness is both a strength and a hindrance. She’s not yet comfortable fitting into that liminal space between the two, but she’s working on it. And isn’t that all we really can do?

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Live Music Review

Live Review: Guerilla Toss at TV Eye

Raw, uninhibited chaos has always been a hallmark of the live experience for neo-psych noise pioneers Guerilla Toss, and their April 29 show at TV Eye was no exception. Their openers LLVX and Operator Music Band served as excellent primers for the audience with minimal ambient, jazzy grooves. But as soon as Guerilla Toss took to the stage, all bets were off. Frontwoman Kassie Carlson emerged with the rest of the band in tow, gently swaying from side to side with her hair flowing in the wind machine, awash in hallucinogenic fever-dream visuals that decorated the projector behind her.

The audience was immediately immersed and awestruck within the first three minutes of their set as Carlson led the band through the opening number, “Famously Alive,” a slow-building vocoder-laden track off their latest album of the same name. This was then followed by the slithering synth groove, “Cannibal Capital.” But the minute the band launched into their unhinged post-punk ode to aliens, “Betty Dreams of Green Men,” they blew the lid off the place. Carlson inched closer to the crowd and gave one of the audience members upfront a nudge and a shove as if to say, “Let the riotous moshing ensue!”

Specific highlights of the night were getting to hear Carlson’s doomsday cheerleader dance polemic “Meteorological” live, in addition to watching bassist Zach Lewellyn rock from side to side as he played like he was David Byrne doing the shaky knees in Stop Making Sense. The energy in the room was vibrantly positive as the band made their way through several of their beloved hits and deep cuts, the audience alternating between high-energy thrashing, friendly body-slamming, and belting their hearts out along with the band on songs like “Famously Alive,” “Wild Fantasy,” and their immediate, cacophonous cover of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” that closed out their set.

So here’s the takeaway: If you go to a Guerilla Toss show, there are two guarantees. One: It doesn’t matter how many basement punk gigs you’ve been to; here you’re going to perspire like you never have before in your life. And two: if you’re upfront, the venue platform is low, and there is a mosh pit behind you, be prepared to get shoved onstage ass-backward… a lot. It’s a proper punk frenzy with schizophrenic disco synths and an overload of sleek bass grooves with wah-wah effects. And it’s heaven.


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Live Music Review

Live Review: Colleen Green at The Sultan Room

When it comes to crafting irresistibly catchy guitar pop with serious character, nobody weaves sardonic lyrical humor with ruminations on emotional detachment quite like Colleen Green. After a six-year hiatus following the critical success of her 2015 sophomore album I Want to Grow Up, Green tapped indie producer extraordinaire Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Hinds) to help bring to life her long-awaited third album Cool, a collection of fuzzy earworms that touch on isolation, adult responsibilities, and troubles with modern day communication.

Now on her long-anticipated North American tour supporting the album, Green played an intimate set at the Sultan Room in Bushwick last night on a bill with Dropper, Shred Flintstone, and Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser, three extraordinarily charismatic and rambunctious acts who served as excellent hypemen for the audience before the main act. When the time came for Green to grace the stage, she emerged wearing a simple white top and black shorts to match her signature black Strat with “Happy Birfday Jeff” scrawled on the front.

Long known for DIY minimalism and playing solo sets with a drum machine, this tour marks Green’s first time ever playing with a full live band, which includes Mike Hunchback on rhythm guitar, Michelle Tucker on drums, and Jay McGuire on bass. Green maintained a hilarious rapport with the band, and was unafraid to correct mistakes. At one point Tucker started to rip into a drum solo on “Grow Up,” until Green abruptly yelled “STOP!” and the entire band laughed it off before quickly restarting the song.

A few specific highlights of the night were “You Don’t Exist,” and “I Wanna Be a Dog,” two pop-rock ragers off the new album with twangy guitar tones and irresistible hooks, the latter interpolating the refrain from the Stooges classic “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog.”

Before the band launched into the final song on the setlist, “TV,” Green announced that it would be their “last song” with a wink and air quotes, indicating that there would indeed be an encore. She later re-emerged by herself to play one final song with her drum machine, popping on her signature Wayfarer-style sunglasses that have now become an unmistakable marker of her aesthetic.

Green isn’t necessarily a “showy” performer, and being showy is rarely ever necessary when you have a palpable stage presence. What makes Green such a convincing performer is the fact that she plays to her strengths. Her impassioned belting, charming charisma, and emotional bliss was firing on all cylinders last night, making her performance truly memorable. To borrow a humorous quote made by Dropper’s Andrea Scanniello earlier that night: “Colleen Green fuckin’ rips!”


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Live Music Review

Live Review: SASAMI at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Like Rina Sawayama crashing a Harley on speed, SASAMI has set a gold standard for wholesale showmanship on her latest tour supporting her newest album of nu metal-inspired paeans. The former classical composer-turned-indie-icon took the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday. Her backing band were the first to emerge, three long-haired men who looked like distant relatives of Slayer, all three of them donning royal blue hooded cloaks.

SASAMI was quick to follow suit, looking like a medieval vigilante princess in a frilly white bodice and corset along with fishnets and a leather harness. Her entrance was met with an eruption of cheers from the demographically diverse crowd of indie kids and queer BIPOC pop and metal fans. One male audience member threw out a suggestive comment about her looks, which was quickly shut down by a corral of boos from surrounding concert-goers. “KILL HIM!” SASAMI jokingly sneered in response, making it abundantly clear that she’s not afraid to mobilize her following to annihilate anyone who threatens to exploit her or her fans.

After attentively tuning her Gibson Explorer, she opened her set with “The Greatest,” a slow and towering cut that immediately set the mood for a liberating two hours of SASAMI ripping and roaring through a searing lineup of hair-raising tracks off her expansively cathartic sophomore album Squeeze, which included a violent thrash cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Sorry Entertainer.” Squeeze was written to express the beauty and violence of the human condition through fuzzy walls of metal rage, with assistance from Megadeth’s drummer Dirk Verbeuren.

Throughout her raucous set, SASAMI commanded the stage with outrageous antics that teetered on the edge of self-destruction. This included bellowing and coughing through blood-curdling screams, sticking the amp cord in her mouth and gyrating as if she’d electrocuted herself, violently ramming herself into her bandmates, mounting the drum-kit to jump on her guitarist’s back, and engaging in elaborate choreography that evoked the motions of a shaman calling to the spirits in a protective ritual.

The energy in the room was radiantly positive as SASAMI clawed her way through each song, her dedicated followers relishing every second they had in her presence. In the middle of her set she beckoned her opening act Zulu, a powerviolence metal band from L.A., to join her onstage, who joyfully grooved on the sidelines for the rest of the show.

Near the end of SASAMI’s set she got close to the verge of tears, expressing her immense gratitude for the sense of community she’s found at her shows. This was topped off with a heartfelt shoutout to her queer fans who feel understood and valued through the anger and deliverance expressed in her music. There is nothing subtle about SASAMI, and this live performance only solidified her promising output.


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Live Review and Q&A: Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge

As her name would suggest, the musical output of Trophy Wife—the solo project of 21-year-old Berklee student McKenzie Iazzetta—is inherently subversive. Her songwriting and her distinct vocal delivery constantly contradict one another, with lyrics where she leans into the role of the austere and unaffected “cool girl” trudging her way through the endlessly messy charade of daily life. Take songs like “Involved,” and “Knife Fight” for example, where Iazzetta wails through gritted teeth, “I didn’t mean to get excited, I didn’t mean to get involved,” and “I do not need it, you were only a test in the first place, try me, try me, try me.”

These lyrics function as a form of protection against ever being perceived as emotionally damaged or wounded, a similar technique employed by her contemporary indie predecessors like Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Snail Mail, and Japanese Breakfast. But don’t be fooled by the text. The strained cracks in her voice give her away every time. It is this naked vulnerability and juxtaposition of earnestness and defensiveness, hopefulness and despondence, infatuation and disgust, that makes her songwriting so compellingly sincere.

I caught Trophy Wife on Wednesday at The Mercury Lounge on a bill with Charles Irwin and Sub*T. She was the first of the three acts to take the stage, donning her best babydoll grunge getup while she attentively tinkered with the tuning pegs on her baby blue Fender Jazzmaster before leading her band through the opening number of their setlist, “Ask Me Anything.” 

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge. Photo by Isabel Corp

Throughout her eight-song set, Trophy Wife performed every song on her latest EP Bruiser, as well as an unreleased song called “Baby’s Breath” and an enthralling cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ classic lovelorn ballad “Maps,” which she was quick to deem “the best song ever written.” It was a gorgeous tribute to the NYC garage rock legends that evoked the same visceral growing pains Karen O had to be feeling when she wrote the song close to Iazzetta’s age. 

One of the most enjoyable highlights of the performance was the undeniable chemistry between Iazzetta and her live band. Near the climactic end of their closing number, the seven-minute long opus “I’m Getting Better,” her guitarist Mario Perez shredded violently on his back while her drummer Michael Martelli continually thrashed his head wildly as he played, throwing his entire body into robust snare hits that would make you think he was chipping away at cement. But none of this detracted from the captivating pull Iazzetta had on the audience, her spellbinding croons and dreamy guitar strums grounding and centering the rest of the band in a divine form of dynamic synchronicity.

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge (Christian Pace on bass, Michael Martelli on drums). Photo by Martin Garcia

A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Iazzetta prior to her set at the Mercury Lounge to discuss the icky feelings of growing up that inspired Bruiser, her love of Liz Phair, and how re-recording a song she wrote at nineteen allowed her to forgive her younger self. 

You’re currently pursuing a degree at Berklee. How has it been balancing school life and the responsibilities of a working musician?

Luckily it’s easier if you go to music school. It’s a lot of time management but it normally works out well since most of the shows I book are on the weekends. 

If you could morph into any rock star, living or dead, who would it be? 

Probably Mitski. A close second would be Fiona Apple, but she’s got enough bullshit to deal with already. I wouldn’t exactly want to live through her particular circumstances. 

I understand that you grew up listening to several artists in the Lilith Fair lineup (Liz Phair, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos). Who in that camp has influenced your writing the most? 

Definitely Liz Phair. I had the song “Johnny Feelgood,” in constant rotation as a child because my mom would always play it. She chronicled the trial-by-fire way of navigating life in a very blunt and tongue-in-cheek way that I really gravitate to as a songwriter. 

How did you go about writing and recording Bruiser?

I already had a batch of songs written and one of my roommates Micah said, “You should definitely record these.” Micah played drums on the record and got his friend who runs a studio to let us use the space. We had rehearsed the songs a bunch and showed up to the studio with a really fresh and open mind. It was all done in a weekend. 

My favorite track on the EP is “I’m Getting Better.” What did the process of bringing that song to life entail? 

I just sat down one day and thought “I really needed to write a longer song,” and it ended up being twice as long as I anticipated. That one came together the smoothest. All of the vocals were done in three takes before we layered them. We really just wanted it to sound like it was being delivered “through gritted teeth,” and for listeners to feel that tension and sort of hold their breath. 

What made you decide to re-record and repurpose “Knife Fight?” 

I just didn’t feel like it sounded like me anymore. The first one was recorded when I was nineteen. I was still figuring myself out when I first wrote it and didn’t think the song was as fully-realized as I wanted it to be. 

Do you still resonate with that song now? 

I wrote it a long time ago, so it’s not so much that I still resonate with it now, but more that I can better understand what I was feeling at that time. I can look back at that time with more perspective and this new version is sort of an ode to baby me. A way of forgiving my younger self.  

Trophy Wife at The Mercury Lounge. Photo by Isabel Corp

What has been the most interesting takeaway listeners have had from this EP? 

I think what’s been really cool is that listeners have made all these thematic connections between all the songs that I never noticed until they were pointed out to me. I was using a lot of sarcasm as a defense mechanism and deflecting blame in these songs, basically “cool girl”-ing my way through the trial-and-error situations of everyday life. 

You’ve received many comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Snail Mail. Does that ever put pressure on you? 

Not really. I have my own thing, but I think it would be pretty flamboyantly egotistical to claim, “No! I’m not influenced by that at all,” because that’s obviously not true. I can definitely see the parallels, because I make music that is a certain flavor of coming-of-age with a tinge of anger, which is very on brand for them. It’s certainly flattering that I’m even receiving those comparisons at all.

Finally, what’s the best thing to listen to to get hyped up before going onstage? 

Definitely Wednesday. They’re a shoegaze band from Asheville, NC and I’m obsessed with their latest album Twin Plagues


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New Music Review

Marissa Nadler Wraps Listeners in Ghostly Embrace on ‘The Wrath of the Clouds’ EP

Marissa Nadler officially staked her claim among the greats in 2014 with her sixth studio album July, where she made a strong departure from her indie folk roots and showcased an ability to juxtapose the sinister and surreal with the mundanities of everyday life.

Today Nadler unveils her new EP, Wrath of the Clouds via Sacred Bones and Bella Union. A companion project to her 2021 album Path of the Clouds, Wrath of the Clouds consists of of three songs from the vaults Nadler had written during her last album cycle and two covers. Throughout the EP, Nadler continues to make waves with her distinctive spectral acoustic compositions and ghostly croons evocative of a David Lynch dream sequence.

Photo by Nick Fancher

The opening track “Guns on the Sundeck,” is an ominous six-minute epic written from the perspective of the historic RMS Queen Mary, a British transatlantic ship that carried military personnel in World War II. The ship was purchased by Long Beach in 1967 and has served as a paranormal hotspot for California tourists ever since. Over sparse acoustic strumming and ambient strings, Nadler’s delivery is controlled and unwinding all at once as she laments, “Fall ’67 was her last hurrah, then they painted her like a movie star.” Then comes the knife-twisting refrain: “‘I miss the ocean,’ she said, ‘It’s nice in the sun, but I need a break from the dead people.'”

“Some Secret Existence,” chronicles the disappearance of Dottie Caylor, an agoraphobic woman who was dropped off by her controlling husband at the Pleasant Hill BART station in Walnut Creek and was never seen again. “Dottie never went outside/She hadn’t since that terrible July/Did she do it for revenge, or did she have some secret existence,” Nadler ponders over an uncoiling tunnel of ghostly synths and a simple finger-picked acoustic arrangement.

“All the Eclipses,” is a bone-chilling dream pop duet with Amber Webber from Black Mountain. While Nadler’s cover of the Alessi Brothers’ “Seabird” remains faithful to the original, her take on Sammi Smith’s “Saunders Ferry Lane” trades the Western twang and spare country drumming of the original for Nadler’s unearthly cadence and a piercing drum machine that could cut glass.

A self-confessed lover of true crime, Nadler urges the subjects of these stories to become agents of their own freedom, whether that be an old haunted vessel or a woman who vanished in 1985. In the great country tradition of women like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton infusing stories of helplessness with agency and control, Nadler’s sympathetic songwriting and penchant for experimental ambience is what truly makes this EP shine.


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Mitski Battles Insomnia on New Single “Heat Lightning”

Forgiveness is uneasy ground to tread. How do we forgive without giving the transgressor a pass? Perhaps we’ll manage to convince ourselves that the purpose in forgiving is for self-preservation and we really aren’t co-signing what happened to us. But why is it always more difficult to forgive ourselves?

Mitski ponders this invariable question on her forthcoming album, Laurel Hell. “I needed songs that could help me forgive both others and myself,” she confessed. “I needed to create this space mostly for myself where I sat in that gray area.”

Yesterday, Mitski unearthed the album’s spellbinding third single, “Heat Lightning,” which was preceded by the equally arresting “Working for the Knife” and “The Only Heartbreaker.”

“Heat Lightning” is a blossoming rumination on guilt-induced insomnia. “And there’s nothing I can do / Not much I can change / Can I give it up to you / Would that be okay?” she muses over pulsing synths, orchestral string swells, and dynamic reverb-drenched piano melodies. The song closely echoes the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” with its screeching guitar parts and Moe Tucker-like drum arrangements.

When asked what her intentions were on her upcoming album, Mitski answered, “I wrote what I needed to hear, as I’ve always done.” And the unrestrained urgency on “Heat Lightning” only further cements her uncanny ability to transform affliction into exaltation.

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Mae Krell Wades the Waters of Recovery with “phantom limb”

After a two-year hiatus from music, queer folk singer-songwriter Mae Krell returned this year to continue tugging on the collective heartstrings of their devoted listeners and fans with the singles “are you sure,” “colorblind,” “rest stop,” and “snow.” Their newest single “phantom limb,” was released last week.

“phantom limb” swells with crisp acoustic plucking and echoing walls of reverberating piano. The soft instrumental accompaniment and melancholy tonalities of Krell’s voice evokes the style of Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers.

Throughout the song, Krell unravels their shortcomings in the process of recovering from addiction. “You’re still here like a phantom limb/An itch I can’t scratch cause I’ll tear off my skin,” they sigh in a sorrowful lilting vocal delivery over scintillating production.

“People often expect me to be ‘healed’ now that I’m sober, not realizing that my disease will continue to trail behind me for the rest of my life,” Mae revealed. “‘phantom limb’ speaks to my recovery, and what it’s like to choose to carry something difficult with you instead of letting it go untreated.” 

I know what it’s like to love someone who struggles with addiction, and this song is a stab-in-the-heart reminder that no matter what a person does to help their recovering loved ones, there really is no way to understand a person’s relationship to substance abuse unless you’ve lived through addiction yourself. Krell has lived that experience, and their transparency in “phantom limb” is honest without diminishing the struggle nor overstating it.


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Anne Bennett Ascends with “Hell Couldn’t Keep Me”

Combining downtrodden bluesy lyrics with western gothic acoustics, Salem-bred singer-songwriter Anne Bennett’s new single “Hell Couldn’t Keep Me,” was released on October 28th, closely following her previous singles “Heavy Hand,” “Deep in the Shadows,” and “Highway Boys.” Despite being new to the game, Bennett has already managed to carve out a distinctly unique musical identity inspired by her roots in Witch City.

Inspired by Bennett’s ongoing fight to rise above her opponents, the song came just off the heels of Bennett being forced to rebuild her online presence from scratch after her Instagram account was targeted and hacked by online scammers.

“I wrote ‘Hell Couldn’t Keep Me’ because I was tired of being knocked down by certain people in my life. This song is my way of giving them the middle finger. No matter how hard you try to push me down, I will push through, because I never give up. I am more relentless than Satan himself. So powerful that Hell can’t even keep me underground,” Bennet explained.

As the song progresses, Bennett’s towering vocals glide over menacing acoustic strumming, tunnels of ominous feedback, and rattling percussion. Her domineering vocals strongly emulate PJ Harvey (who is one of her definitive influences), specifically To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire.

The way the release of this song aligns with Bennet’s fight to regain what she lost after being taken advantage of only makes the calculated anger in her breathy vocal delivery almost prophetic. But if anything’s certain, messing with Bennett will not bode well for anybody.


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War Honey Release Critically-Acclaimed EP ‘Shard to Shatter’ on Vinyl

War Honey, the multi-hyphenate five-piece band from Brooklyn, have blown every other promising young band out of the water with their debut EP Shard to Shatter, and their most recent single “Skinless,” a rumination on the past, present, and future blurring together as a result of the mind-numbing monotony of the pandemic.

Shard to Shatter was digitally released in December 2020 and was physically released on vinyl today via Handstand Records. I gave it a listen for the first time this past week and all I can say is Man. Was I late to the party.

This EP is an unpredictable amalgamation of sprawling ambient slowcore jams and bluesy existential shoegaze psalms that were recorded during the most stringent Covid lockdown periods of 2020. The titular opening track immediately draws the listener in with its spaced-out echoing soundscapes. Frontwoman Gabrielle Dana’s haunting melodies evoke the soulful passion of Ella Fitzgerald and the darkly desperate warbles of Chelsea Wolfe, enveloping the listener in a ghostly rapture as she croons and belts the lyrics “Not one more inch of my skin/Not one more piece of dream/Not one more shard to shatter.” Ben Fitts’ weeping guitar solo at the end sounds like it’s been submerged under water, heavily drenched in reverb.

“Even Sleep is Exhausting,” equally showcases Dana’s unrelenting passion and fury on the lingering traumas of sexual assault (“Invaders raging around my fortress/I don’t notice, I don’t notice.”) Her elongated vocal runs evoke the well-trodden vocal traditions of American soul against distinctly Western Gothic instrumentation by the band. Her ability to unwaveringly hold on to each note for an extended period of time is extraordinary.

The instrumental interlude “Psychopathic Performance Art,” is a terrifying intermission with cavernous psychedelic walls of sound. It sounds like the band is playing at a drug party in a lavish mansion shortly before descending into hell, ending with a sample of Tennessee reverend Jimmy Snow’s 1950s sermon where he claimed that rock ‘n roll was part of the devil’s plot to corrupt America’s youth.

On the final track “Landmine,” the vocal harmonies and guitar feedback cross-pollinate to create an almost suffocating sonic atmosphere. Rife with existential pandemic-wrought anxiety, Dana laments the gutted futures of generations to come whose oppressors use religion rationalize their behavior (“Oh what a cruel game/We all seem to hold to religion/It’s all just a scrimmage.”) It’s the perfect eulogy for a slowly decaying earth, an equally unsettling yet strangely comforting reminder of the impermanence of all forms of life.

Shard to Shatter is now available on vinyl via Handstand Records.


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