For years the duo She Keeps Bees — songwriter, singer and guitarist Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlant — has carved songs simultaneously asperous and velveted, pieces of minimalist rock 'n' roll driven by Larrabee's sensibility of volume and restraint, and bedrocked by a gifted, cashmere voice.
With the unabashedly political "Our Bodies," Larrabee directly addresses what she perceives as pernicious, immediate threats to health care. "I wrote this song last year ... as I watched my mother's fight become my own," Larrabee writes of the song. "While writing, I tried to evoke the voices of my ancestors to help me say, 'We will not be punished or denied health care, and we will not be silenced.'" (A vote on the new health care bill in the Senate was delayed yesterday until after the July 4 congressional recess.)
The song follows a familiar structure for She Keeps Bees, a quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamic that allows Larrabee's arcing guitar work to gleam. "Let me liberate me," she entreats.
The band has never shied away from engaging directly, unrelentingly, with the darkest sides of politics and social justice. On "Wasichu," from the group's previous full-length Eight Houses, Larrabee sings a lament for cultures and communities forcibly robbed of their identities, including the stolen, or lost, or vanished generations of Native Americans and the indigenous peoples of Australia. As well, "Our Bodies" follows the release just earlier this month of the pointed "Head of Steak."
Moments ago, Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and renegotiate U.S. participation in the accord, making good on a campaign promise.
Jessica Larrabee, the singer, guitarist and songwriter of She Keeps Bees, a Brooklyn-based two-piece, wrote a song addressing the issue of climate change, "Head of Steak," and shared her thoughts on the news of Trump's withdrawal for NPR Music. The band is donating proceeds from its forthcoming EP with the song.
"As a musician, I claim no expertise on these matters, but am moved by actions that deepen kinship and understanding with each other and with our only home, Earth. In addition to the many steps already taken by the current administration to roll back Obama-era environmental policies, today's decision by the President to leave the Paris Agreement is devastating.
"For our survival, our dear Mother Earth requires balance. I wrote 'Head of Steak' to channel my anxiety and anger about climate change denial into something productive. Increasingly, it seems that profit outweighs our rights to clean water and a healthy environment, so we're donating all the profits from the first year of sales of our new EP to organizations we believe are trying to help restore balance."
She Keeps Bees are gearing up to release a new two-song 7″ on July 8 with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood and EarthJustice (pre-order). It features the songs “Our Bodies” and “Head of Steak.” Here’s what singer Jessica Larrabee says about it:
“Head of Steak” confronts the anxiety and anger I feel over climate change denial and my empathy for future generations left to deal with preventable catastrophes. The lyrics are explicit, which is fitting, because I find the current administration to be completely vulgar. “Our Bodies,” the A-side to be released later this month, focuses on women’s rights to healthcare.All profits from the first year of sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood and EarthJustice.
“Head of Steak” premieres in this post, and it’s a nice dose of grungy indie rock that suits the lyrical content well. Listen below.
She Keeps Bees’ last two NYC shows (in March and April) were also benefits for Planned Parenthood and EarthJustice. They’ve got more shows coming up, including another NYC show on June 20 at Rough Trade with The Heavy Howl and Bel Aviv (tickets). All dates are listed below.
Since the release of “Somewhere Somehow”, Oddnesse’s delicious take on shoegaze has been making waves online. With a sun soaked melody and beautiful vocals, the track is an uplifting and stunning dream pop song.
The accompanying video is equally dreamlike. As the camera pans around we see Oddnesse in different situations in different rooms, creating a hypnotising experience. A perfectly surreal visual to the song, it’s creativity shows the exciting artist that Oddnesse is, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
In 2015 we called her an “avant-pop newcomer”, now in 2017 releasing new music, LA based Egyptian-Italian producer and vocalist Kidä is still very much avant-pop, much less newcomer. Alongside living in Los Angeles and New York, Kidä has spent time studying in both Montreal and London, her futuristic and otherworldly vocals effectively reflective of her itinerant and eclectic upbringing.
Previously a backing singer for artists such as Pharrell, Natasha Bedingfield and Carly Simon, and inspired by the likes of Aaliyah and D’angelo, Kidä is no stranger to the industry, a trait evident within her music.
Her latest track “Girls”, is equally as whimsical as her previous tracks, employing a spellbinding falsetto that oozes seduction. It provides an exciting window into her forthcoming EP, due later this year.
The LA-based rocker redefines the modern rock landscape with an envelope-pushing, boundary-blurring new EP.
Modern rock is mostly stale, biding its time until a crossover hit sticks onto the wall of mainstream pop. But Oddnesse is here to completely change the game, blending lo-fi independence and shape-shifting guitar and piano tones into an intoxicating blur. Her angelic and potent vocal is light as a feathery but carries the weight of the world: the darkness seeps into her lyrics with brawn and delicacy. Her stories engulf your senses, particularly on such standout tracks on her new EP as "Scream" (featuring a spine-tingling guitar bridge) and "Somewhere Somehow," decorated with a dirtier, flesh-cutting Hinds feel.
Then, on "Incoming Call," she channels the sensuality and grit of Alanis Morissette--circa Jagged Little Pill--with a more breezy bite. "Swim to the Shore," meanwhile, sits in the front of brain; "oh, come on, it can't be that far, listen to the trees, look up at the stars, oh, come on, it can't be so deep. If you're afraid, I'll let you hang onto me," she maintains. All four songs have all been stealthily trickled out in the past several weeks, now culminating into a cohesive and provocative set. When it sounds like she doesn't care, that's actually, in fact, when she cares the most. "There's no silent way to the shore. There's no holding back. This is war," she demands on "Scream," the newest addition to her growing catalog. "Does it consume you?"
Oddnesse uproots what is easy to assume about rock music, deflecting cliches in favor of burning bridges and reclaiming the landscape as her own. Her work is grounded in urgency and a daring resolve to shatter the glass ceiling, unapologetically. "The greatest pop star there ever was," she claims on her Facebook page. And admittedly, you won't find any argument from us.
The poet then offers some remarkable insight into not only this EP but her entire life's journey. "These songs are my chariot. I wanted the photographs to echo the strength I found in bringing them to life. Guiding everything, I sought naturalness, simplicity and confidence--with the occasional twist of magic. I wrote from the perspective of something deeper, older, bigger, more all-knowing than myself," she tells us. "I found power in my ability to endure the heaviness of the truth and the darkness of the unknown, to accept the end of things and stay calm through a storm, a fall, an unraveling. According to my parents, I've been having existential crises since before I can remember and I feel in some ways, so very old. But I also find my innocence in the part of me that won't say no to a beautiful melody when it comes knocking at my door."
And with a flourish, Oddnesse gives the world some tremendous, life-changing art.
20-year-old Kidä's seductive soundscape is an unexpected blend of musical influence. With Egyptian and Italian heritage, and a father who owned a vast vinyl collection of international music, Kidä (aka Ava Leoncavallo) grew up listening to the likes of Ballake Sissoko and Ravi Shankar, while in her teen years she grooved to D'Angelo, Christina Milian and Aaliyah. Drawing on a varied collection of sound has led to Kidä's avant-pop vibe.
Born in New York, she later moved to Los Angeles where as a teen she sang backing vocals for Pharrell, Natasha Bedingfield and Carly Simon. More recently, she made the decision to leave architecture school in London to focus on music. "Snakes" is the first single off Kidä's upcoming debut LP and each shift in sound provides a glimpse into her eclectic sonic universe - a place where R&B, pop, soul, and global beats all pulsate on a smooth, sexy vibration. We recently had a chat over Skype about misogyny in the music industry, singing Chaka Khan covers in a closet, and the story behind her debut single.
Read her interview with I-D here.
Although Noah Kwid is no stranger to the music scene, he has recently set out on his own, and is revving up to release his 4-track debut solo Transit Music EP on November 25th. Despite the fact that it’s now autumn – or maybe in spite of that fact – we’ve got the exclusive premiere of his track “Spring” right here.
Quirky, layered instrumentals hit staccato notes, serving as an introduction to Noah’s sung/spoken vocals. They set the tone for the song by embarking with us on an a narrative journey, notable lyrics being “I am the ocean, I am the sea.” When the synth hits, there is a distinct 80’s throwback feel to the song, and we’re taken back to the days of after school PBS specials and bright, geometric illustrated visuals dancing in our heads. Stereogum noted “a competing sense of light and dark,” which holds prevalent over the duration of the track. We’re big fans of the white noise sound mid-track, and the fact that we can’t quite place the best way to enjoy “Spring”.
But we’re definitely about introduce it to an undisclosed family member of an older generation tonight at dinner.
Finding new artists is easier than ever, but this creates a problem: it's harder than ever to filter through it all and keep tabs on what's really good.
With so many artists popping up every day, it's impossible not to miss out on some fresh faces and new sounds. With that in mind, we'll be highlighting our favorite new acts each month. Here are the best new artists of August.
The Moon Baby
The Moon Baby's "Witch" may be the most unique song you hear all week. If you're not feeling the first or second movements, hang tight—the Wise Blood collaboration takes a number of twists and turns in under three minutes, turning to elephantine trombones and syrupy vocals to keep things exciting.
It's a song about "feminine majical [sic] energies," according to its creator. "Wise Blood is a genius and we do for each other musically what we can't do for ourselves. It's a true collaboration every time.”
If you are unfamiliar with the new music discovery app Cymbal and consider yourself a music fan... You're missing out big time! We at Future Gods have never really been keen of music discovery through algorithmic platforms such as Pandora, but we are obsessed with what Cymbal brings to the table. Think Instagram for music, Cymbal taps into both Spotify and Soundcloud, lets you follow friends & influencers (labels, blogs, promoters, college radio, etc) and brings a social aspect to the table.
Think of our CMJ as a coming out party of sorts and for this party we teamed up with Terrible Records, Pigeons & Planes and Cameo Gallery to bring have together some of out favorite artist of the moment including Le1F, Empress Of, PORCHES, Deradoorian, Kirin J Callinan, OKAY KAYA, Jimmy Whispers, Kaya and more.
The party is at Cameo Gallery this Friday, October 16th, 5pm and is FREE. We suggest you arrive early though because it should fill up fast.
Until now, we’ve only known kaya through her SoundCloud and Tumblr accounts. For a while it was difficult to find a picture of her, leaving us to focus on her music—fragile, fractured lullabies delivered over delicate production, sometimes electronic-based (“Untitled”), sometimes just simple piano (“i dont know what i’m doing anymore”).
This Friday, kaya is emerging from the Internet for her first show, and later this month she will release the Lux EP on SoundCloud, followed by an official release on Future Gods in early 2016. “Shiver,” produced by TOBIAS, is our first taste of Lux, and it’s everything we could have hoped for and more.
Let kaya enchant you with “Shiver” below, and catch her at 6pm at our CMJ show in partnership with Cymbal and Terrible Records. The show goes down at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn on Friday and the lineup includes Porches, Le1f, Deradoorian, Empress Of, Okay Kaya, and more. Full details here.
It doesn’t really matter that Liphemra’s “did u cry” only has two lyrics — “Did you even cry? Did you even try?” — because accompanying bursts of experimental pop-rock work as verses of their own. LA-based Liv Marsico is the brains behind the project, and her intricate instrumentation characterizes her frustration just as well as words. Marsico’s vocals simmer as added background noise as well, and the whole track swirls like a tornado of eclipsing sounds that somehow achieve equal balance. The track is taken from Liphemra’s debut EP, set for release in March. Listen below.
We've been into this off-kilter Pittsburgh music maker for a minute and this latest track—lifted from his newly released Babylon EP (out via Hope Sick Cola)—doesn't disappoint. The sinister, pulsing electronics, and Priscilla Sharp's twisted, eerie vocal manipulations are perfection, and they're complemented here by director Keith Musil's surreal, yet playful visuals. Who wouldn't take home a severed talking head? Then, about halfway through, "Cretin's Club" turns into a goddamn party of a track, taking place in what sounds like an abandoned fairground.
Here's what Musil had to say about his inspiration for the video: "The audio filtration on Priscilla Sharp’s voice prompted the severed head concept. I thought, 'This is totally what a severed head would sound like if it could sing.' Originally the severed head character was meant to mouth the lyrics, but that idea quickly got thrown out because videos that depict actors lip-synching someone’s song never seem to work.
"I think the suggested relationship between the severed head and the dancing husband is a lot of fun! I can imagine this guy, on multiple occasions, drunkenly trying to get rid of the annoying head while his wife is at work or something. The head’s addiction to alcohol and childish demeanor is also behavior she must have learned from the husband character."
Just watch. This is rules.
A/S/L is an emerging LA based producer making the sort of sun-tinged house music you'd associate with the West Coast city. The Away from you EP will be the first release for A/S/L and will feature four varied house tracks including the one in question here, "3934 km." "3934 km" is a thumping cut that opens with a looped female vocal sample and faint chords, before a raw, galloping rhythm lurches forward, providing the body for the rest of the track to ride on. Away from you will be released on June 16, with "3934 km" available as a free download below.
Chris Laufman returns with his latest batch of weird pop.
As Wise Blood, the Pittsburgh-based musician twists samples and his distinct, bluesy vocals into anachronistic pop collages. After releasing his long-gestating solo album Id on Dovecote Records and taking time to produce for fellow Pittsburgh artist the Moon Baby, Laufman has returned with a new Wise Blood EP.
“Over the past year I have taken time to focus on different aspects of my music, largely focusing on the production end,” he writes. “A combination of wanting to better articulate my own sound and an urge to make tracks for others has opened the door to opportunities and collaborations around the world.”
That collaborative spirit is on display on Babyland, a Wise Blood release that — for the first time — features other vocalists, namely the Moon Baby and Priscilla Sharp. Otherwise, the six-track EP has the same hypnotic, playful-yet-ominous quality that Laufman favors.
The EP is due out on May 5 via Hope Sick Cola; stream it below. A mixtape is planned for later this year, with another LP to follow in early 2016. Back in 2013, FACT spoke with Wise Blood about the process behind Id, why he lives in Pittsburgh, and why he’d love to hear his songs in commercials.