Album of the Week: Please - Plush

Please. It's a word that when spoken can have double meanings - a polite way of asking or a forceful pleading. On the EP from Plush it straddles both - the five track release is a dazzling portrait of relationships, love and sexuality. With its gauzy sheen of surf-rock meets shoegaze, Please is a romantic and seemingly limitless dreamland.

Power isn't something women are often given, in anything, and that can prove especially true when it comes to relationships and speaking about our sexuality. But in Please, the members of this San-Francisco four-piece reclaim what's theirs. In our early glimpses of the EP we were left stunned with the display of ferocity of "Sheer Power," and the meaning behind it made it all the more significant. That reclamation continues throughout the recording, most notably on closer "Fixes." It's here that harmonies etched in fuzz defiantly declare "I don't wanna hold your head up/let you in/or care for your bed sores." And with such a beautiful swirled backing of guitars and drums, it makes the landing of the statements thunderous and powerful - the truth is, we're all choosing to stay,

Please is the innermost thoughts our hearts have all held, but we often never revealed. The unsettled anxiety that comes with musings on a lover who let you down ("Dreams of You"), pleading to not be left alone ("Please Don't Let Me Go") and the fear that you were never really loved at all ("Go2Bed"). These moments can be scary and dark, but Plush turns them into empowering confessions. Their seemingly unweighted and unhurried instrumentals are given their space to speak, and in doing so may inspire us all to reclaim what we've abandoned. 

Through the Tin Cans: Year of the Rabbit - Eskimeaux

Listening to music with someone else changes the dynamic of it completely. Their thoughts can influence your own, sometimes for better and sometimes for worst. That's the idea of this new feature - Through the Tin Cans. Three members of The Grey Estates staff come together and listen to an album, sharing their thoughts in real time via Facebook chat. From there, we invite you to take a listen, leave your comments and thoughts! We're kicking it off with Eskimeaux's Year of the Rabbit, and you're joining Lauren Rearick (editor and blog queen) and our two new contributors S. Frances Kemp & Sophy Ziss!! 

Graphic: Anna Gross 

Graphic: Anna Gross 

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Toon Tunes: Boys, Butts & Being a Girl : A Mix Inspired By Tina Belcher

Update: You liked this feature so much that Toon Tunes will now be a recurring feature and not a month by month thing. THANKS!

This weekend when I told myself I would write those two pieces and finish my actual paying work I found myself watching Bob's Burgers instead. Back in the day, we had this feature where every month we'd curate a really cool mix, and now feels like a great time to bring that back. These songs are all inspired by the queen - Tina Belcher. From kissing to butts and even Jimmy Pesto these are the tracks you may find on her mix. Happy May, and see you back here in June. 

Album: Talking Quietly of Anything with You - Free Cake For Every Creature

Words: S. Frances Kemp

Nothing is new under the sun for Free Cake For Every Creature. Childhood towns become big cities, muffins are a dinner food and being in your early 20s is scary. It’s ok to be sad and sometimes stress baking is the only actual solution to your woes. These little ideas about growing up and trying on life, make up the gooey center of Free Cake’s second full-length album Talking Quietly of Anything With You.

The album opens up with a song that shares the title of the album. Bennett is figuring things out for herself in the opening. The song starts with a simple chord progression and moves into hushed vocals. Bennett’s nervous, it’s her first summer in a city and everything feels new. This kind of simple sentiment is something I can relate to. It’s that feeling of finally being just old enough to comprehend that you’re on your own and it’s up to you to find your way, both in terms of topography and in the cheesy, metaphorical sense, as 20-somethings are beaten over the head with a copy of Oh the Place You’ll Go. The song eventually breaks into a quiet play between drums, guitar, and a second set of vocals.

Things never get more complicated, sonically, than the addition of a bass line or a set of drums nodding off in the back. That being said, things don’t need to. "So Much Strange to Give" is a highlight on the album and shows off the band’s ability to be musically versatile. It plays a little bit with some of the conventions of surf rock but is ultimately grounded in the tender pop lyricism that pulls this album together.

Bennett’s world under the Free Cake moniker is a simple and glorious one. Like most of the bedroom pop coming off of Double Double Whammy in the past few years it is about the diaristic quality. Talking Quietly presents a world where we talk about the things we draw and the little moments of bliss that come from riding your bike. It is an album that follows a tradition as old as Free Design in the 60s and popularized again in the 90s and early 2000s by bands like the Softies and Dear Nora. There is something so special, in an age of sound effects pedals and electronics about DIY minimalism. It’s evocative of the way we tell stories to our friends. It’s ok to dial it down once in a while. After all, Bennett would just rather draw chubby cows in her journal.

EP: Slow Approach - Julian

Slow Approach is the two-song EP from Julian and in its short running time it presents two very different facets of relationships, and each is a dazzling, stoic glimpse. 

On "Leaving For Now," vocalist Julia Leby seeks an escape, a place away from someone - "can't get you off my mind/I'm glad you're leaving me behind." In the song's methodical stillness, the unhurried guitar and drums from bandmates Andi Garnher and Cherrie Yu, they press ever closer towards that peace. The A-side to this two track release from Apollonian Sound acting as a dreamy hand, leading us deeper into solitude and the blissful release of it all -"dreamt of being alone again."

It's counterpart, "Hair," is shorter but still equally impactful, though this time its hoped that the person on the other side of this relationship displays even an inkling of care - "Do you think of me on your own....I bet you don't." 

EP: The Violent Bear It Away - Pop Empire

Cincinnati, Ohio continues to churn out the best in garage and psychedelic rock, and today we're excited to present an EP from the next promising act. Pop Empire are a "psych punk blues trio," and they're releasing a 4-song EP which we're premiering today. You can stream the EP below and read up about the record with words from the band.

Henry: 

I've been making music with other people and using the name Pop Empire since 2009, but this recording feels like a new beginning for the project. It is the first recording I've made with Ryan & Jake -- and Pop Empire's first release featuring a real live drummer. We're very proud of these songs we've written, and I think it's because these songs we're created through a collaborative process where we all brought something. Old-time Appalachian music was on my mind a lot when we were writing these songs, and all the songs are filled with musical and lyrical reflections of songs and books and images from our traditions and shared experiences. We play them in a style shaped by our common love of a steady heavy desert sound and by our local music culture.

We recorded these songs in our practice space in Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio, which we share with another band. The space is a concrete box in the basement of a big storage warehouse, and there's trash and cables everywhere, and the lighting is horrible, and the hallways stink, and actually they keep it uncomfortably warm all the time -- and we love it, because having this space of our own has meant so much to us individually and collectively. 

Jake

The Violent Bear It Away speaks its nature through the synthesizer drones that serve as much of its foundation -- simple tone squeezed, pressed, saturated, driven seemingly to the point of breaking through the air that conveys it, breaking out of the notes that compose it.

Ryan:

We like Rock n Roll and that's the kind of music we make. But it's hard to say what that really means anymore. So there's always this: we take guidance from something entirely ambiguous and permeable while filling an empty vessel with meaning. And this while working to make songs that are both fun and resonant in some introspective way, that translate well both in the context of a rowdy and moving live show and also when you're alone and the weather is shitty and maybe you're feeling like everything is just bad. These are two indispensable qualities of rock n roll music: it's what you want for a good time and it's what you want for an awful time. 

Pop Quiz: Audio Antihero

In the world of music blogging/music it's a rare and wonderful feeling to make a connection with someone that feels like a genuine friendship. I've had the honor of getting to know some really amazing people through TGE, and some really not so amazing people. One of those amazing persons is Jamie from Audio Antihero, a label that is really special. Today I'm so excited to bring you a Pop Quiz from the label, and a friend.

TGE: If you had the chance to release something from any artist who would it be?

Audio Antihero: I dunno, Johnny Foreigner are probably the best rock band in the world?

TGE: What are five of the last albums you've picked up?

A: American Government won’t let me get a job yet so I’m not buying very much right now but...

Adam Stafford - Taser Revelations

Beverly Tender - “Lord Mayor Makes 1,000 Speeches” tape

Yr Poetry - “Rocket Season”

Into It. Over It. - “Standards”

Also, your “Sugar Rush” comp. Which I love. (editor's note: see, best friends!)

TGE: Which famous horror movie remake would you most want to direct or cast?

A: I don’t think I’m qualified to do either but I usually enjoy remakes, even if they’re totally unnecessary. In reality, we should be remaking films which weren’t that great. I’m not just gonna be all “I think I can do ‘THE THING’ better than John Carpenter…’

I might like to see ‘Demons’ and ‘Demons 2’ (Lamberto Bava, 1985 and 1986 respectively) remade. I think they should still be in the same location, same time period with an Italian cast and crew...but just like 20% better? And maybe slightly less mean spirited too. I just started feeling sad after a while.

Another option is ‘Nightmare City’ (Umberto Lenzi, 1980), I might like to see it remade without any of the crazy misogyny and “it was all a dream...or was it?” stuff. I’m not sure I’d ever gotten angry watching a Horror film before this one. In reality, I think I just thought the title was cool.

TGE: Who would you cast in your dream horror film?

A: I always wanted to see Jean Claude Van Damme in a horror film, not like a really really good one, maybe a ‘Universal Soldier’ equivalent quality Horror film. Bad ass but silly.

But for a kind of supergroup horror film, I’d like to cast:

Bruce Campbell (sad dad who gets covered in blood at some point)

Jeffrey Combs (mad scientist who has his fucking reasons, okay)

Charlie Day (Jeffrey Comb’s assistant, he also has his fucking reasons, okay)

Ken Foree (cool dad with chainsaw)

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (wielding a pickaxe and no American accent)

Salma Hayek (astronaut)

Katharine Isabelle (playing the twin sister of her ‘See No Evil 2’ character)

Rolf Kristian Larsen (who absolutely will survive the film)

Kurt Russell (as some kind of libertarian survivalist, who embraces democratic socialism by the end) Rosario Dawson (fucking people up)

Zachary Quinto (any goddamn role he wants to play)

Jake Gyllenhaal (wild eyed and weird)

Maybe casting is actually a hard job?

TGE: You're putting together a playlist for Bernie Sanders to take the stage to..what songs do you include?

A: “Enter Sandman” by Metallica (probably fade it out after everybody gets the joke though)

“Bigger than Hip Hop” by Dead Prez

“Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young (He already includes this but I’d play it a second time)

“Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads

“Heart Heart” by Withered Hand

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

“Rich Kids” by CHUCK

“Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide (long version if he’s waiting for CNN/MSNBC to actually admit he won whatever primary because that takes all night)

“Be My Husband” by Nina Simone (cos I’ll be whatever he wants me to be)

“Because the Night” by Patti Smith (but i’d grab the mic and shout “SANDERS!” over the word “lovers”)

TGE: Give us an AA fun fact.

A: I kind of coaxed my wife into making Los Angeles a stop on our honeymoon last year so I could meet up with Tyler from Cloud. He made me british blend tea and laughed about it.

TGE: Since you've moved to the US what's been the most American thing you've seen?

A: Ted Cruz. And he’s Canadian?

TGE: What do you think one of the biggest misconceptions about running a label is?

A: That it’s necessary.

TGE: Describe your dream pizza.

A: Don’t dream it, be it.

But I dunno, beef, spicy pork, bbq sauce, onions, jalapenos and sweetcorn.

There’s this place in Miami called “The Original Big Tomato” that does an incredible Tangy Thai pizza. I just teared up thinking about it.

TGE: What's been one of your proudest or most surreal moments as a label?

A: Probably when one of my e-mails to Pitchfork actually got answered. 2013 sure was a dream year.

TGE: If you weren't running a label what other dream projects would you start?

A: I’d like to have a rad wrestling promotion. I’d make the American guys to lose to Scottish guys.

TGE: Give us one thing we should check out - anything at all.

A: Progress Wrestling is very awesome pro wrestling from London. Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay is the best. I’d like more Noam Dar and Mark Haskins there and a debut from Drew Galloway too. Yay, wrestling.

Album: Neurotica - Gland

Last week the trio of Gland released their full length album Neurotica, and it has basically been on repeat since then. The entire affair is brazen, breakneck punk at its best, with a collection of flippant jams like "Fuck the Cops", "Safe Space" and even an ode to "Drugs". The entire album is necessary summer listening, with a fuzzy, blown out, kick to your eardrums party that never rests. Gland is clearly having fun and we're just lucky to have gotten an invite to the shenanigans. 

video: Stag Hair Parlor Presents La Sera

My visits to the salon are a most sacred time because usually I decide I wanna do something drastic or I wanna hide my curls reach perfection. Once I even dyed all my hair blue, hated it and dyed it back immediately. ANYWAYS, it's why this video series from Michael Grodner is so cool! You can read his explanation behind it all and watch the first video of La Sera!

I've been going to Stag Hair Parlor for a few years now.  Danny and Lauren, who own Stag Hair Parlor, are musicians themselves, and they've always been supportive of Dirty Laundry TV and the shows we host around town. About a year ago, while getting my hair cut there, the idea came to me: why not have an artist come in and, while they get their hair styled, they can talk about themselves, their style and then perform?  I pitched the idea to Danny and Lauren -- they were into it and the rest is history. We've shot segments with Pearl Charles, La Sera and Hutch from the Thermals (coming soon).  Hopefully, in June we'll be shooting with Sadie from Speedy Ortiz. 

Guest Mix: Gender is Over (If You Want It)

Today we're proud to present a mix from a very special and important organization - Gender Is Over (If You Want It). You can stream the mix and read more about it and the organization below.

About the Mix:

This mix is comprised of an eclectic variety of transgender, non-binary, gender nonconforming, and cisgender musicians with whom the message Gender is Over! If You Want It resonates. It's our little way of offering back the visible support they've given us, plus, I mean, these songs are all awesome.

Some of the songs we chose offer a glimpse into the complexities around gender and how it affects us all, both as individuals and as part of a larger and very coercive system. Other songs are simply a showing of the beautiful work that such a diverse community is capable of creating. 

We wanted to end by paying homage to Bowie and Prince, two undeniably influential (though, of course, imperfect) individuals who paved the way for so much of the art and music we love.

Rest in Power. Rest in Purple. Rest in Personality.

Playlist:

  • Androgynous - Miley Cyrus, Joan Jett, Laura Jane Grace
  • They / Them / Theirs - Worriers
  • True Trans Soul Rebel - Against Me!
  • Driveway Birthday - Milk Teeth
  • Ugly Cherries - PWR BTTM
  • Shine Theory - Speedy Ortiz
  • Power - Eskimeaux 
  • White Light Doorway - Florist
  • The Movement - Fusilier
  • Squawk - Michete
  • Nightwatch - GRRL PRTY
  • Call It Off - Shamir
  • When Doves Cry - Prince
  • Changes - David Bowie

About the project:

Inspired by Yoko & John’s “War Is Over! (If You Want It)” campaign, this project comes from a lifelong frustration with normative binary gender roles, coercive gendering, and a belief in self-determination.

We think that society’s emphasis on assigned binary gender roles is harmful, damaging, and often violent, and this is a statement against that. However, by “gender” we don’t mean “gender identities” — we believe that people’s chosen gender identities & expressions are valid and should be respected! We also don’t intend for this to imply that we currently live in a post-gender world: gendered violence & gender inequality are very real and pressing issues that require lots and lots of work to dismantle. 

Self-expression and solidarity along with critical thinking and a desire to start conversations guide the project. The message is open to interpretation and people's perspectives are far and wide.

Proceeds from sales go to organizations that work in support of transgender & gender nonconforming people with special consideration for: youth empowerment, homelessness, mental health, incarceration, and structural racism.

Find out more about the project: genderisover.com | @genderisover