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“Necessary brattiness” is the motto for Speedy Ortiz’s dauntless new collection of songs, Twerp Verse. The follow-up to 2015’s Foil Deer, the band’s latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they’ve endured from society’s margins. But like many of these truth-tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being “outrageous and practical” in order to be heard at all.
“You need to employ a self-preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world,” says Dupuis. “I call it a ‘twerp verse’ when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish — like a Lil Wayne verse — but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth.”
Twerp Verse was tracked in Brooklyn DIY space Silent Barn, mixed by Omaha legend Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) and mastered by Grammy-nominated engineer Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beck). The record pulls from the most elastic pop moments in Squeeze’s Argybargy and the seesawing synth-rock of Deerhoof and the Rentals. With Dupuis on guitars, vocals, and synths, supporting guitarist Andy Molholt (of psych pop outfit Laser Background) now joins Speedy veterans Darl Ferm on bass and Mike Falcone on drums — and together they accelerate the band’s idiosyncrasy through the wilderness of Dupuis’ heady reflections on sex, lies and audiotape.
Dupuis, who both earned an MFA in poetry and taught at UMass Amherst, propels the band’s brain-teasing melodies with her serpentine wit. Inspired by the cutting observations of Eve Babitz, Aline Crumb’s biting memoirs, and the acute humor of AstroPoet Dorothea Lasky, Dupuis craftily navigates the danger zone that is building intimacy and political allyship in 2018. Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch — in the White House, Hollywood and beyond — the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme “Lucky 88,” and casts a side-eye towards suitors-turned-monsters in the cold-blooded single “Villain.” Closing track “You Hate The Title” is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy — in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. “You hate the title, but you’re digging the song,” Dupuis sings wryly, “You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong.” Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, Twerp Verse rings clear as a bell.
Two Inch Astronaut
Two Inch Astronaut has been playing in one configuration or another since 2009, though founding members Matt Gatwood and Sam Rosenberg’s musical relationship dates back to the early 2000’s. Beginning as an acoustic and cello driven side project, they quickly evolved into making rock music as a trio. After three well received full lengths released on Exploding in Sound Records (with praise from Pitchfork, NPR, Stereogum and more), the Wheaton, MD based trio (including Andy Chervenak of Grass is Green) return with Can You Please Not Help, the band’s fourth album since 2013. The prolific trio have created their most nuanced and vibrant recordings yet; leaning on their pop strength while remaining true to their propensity for tangled chord progressions and unpredictable rhythms.
The album was once again recorded by one of the band’s influences, J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels), at the Magpie Cage in Baltimore, Maryland. Two Inch Astronaut just keep getting better and Can You Please Not Help is built around pop-centric exploration and reflective songwriting.
«Wha? Piggity Pink?» — Nina Ryser
With the EP Piggity Pink, Jazz Adam, Nina Ryser (Palberta) and Ricardo Balmaseda continue Old Maybe's descent into whimsically absurd experimental rock by delivering five sizable cuts that touch on, as Adam says, themes of «pigs, pink, purple, Scientology, self-hate, forced femininity, lethargy, and the sub / dom dynamics that appear in relationships.» Beautifully recorded under the hand of Paco Cathcart (The Cradle, Big Neck Police) at Bottom Bell House in January 2017, Piggity Pink picks up where 2016's Oblio EP left off-- elevating Jazz Adam's compositions and comic deliveries with fresh, jagged no-wave inspired arrangements.
With more than one year as a band under their belts, and writing more collaboratively than ever, Old Maybe deliver a refined pallette, maximizing the impact of piercing guitar licks with found sounds and the utilization of more overdubs. Longer song lengths allow ideas to fully develop, letting the opposing grooves present themselves in glorious contradiction. Tracks like «Metal June» and «Ugly Love Me», see Jazz Adam deliver way-out lyrics with an energetic flow and cadence supported by a rock-solid rhythm section. Overall the aesthetic is gritty, in your face and yet still shines in it's levity and comedy, never taking itself seriously but presenting a product that was undoubtedly crafted with pride.
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