Posts Tagged ‘Best Albums Of 2020’

Women in Music Pt. III

Why We Love Them: We simply don’t deserve Haim. The world is far too broken to fully appreciate Women in Music Part III, the sister trio’s subtly spectacular third LP, which further establishes them as more than expert pop students-turned-teachers. Released in June, WIMPIII cuts to the center of a Fleetwood Mac and Sheryl Crow mix CD-R and extracts all its sun-kissed ‘70s soft-rock (“Don’t Wanna”), ‘90s California-pop (“Gasoline”) and a list of thrilling surprises — all courtesy of a band inadvertently shouldering a genre with their breezy brilliance. Though it isn’t just what the Haim ladies accomplish with their undervalued guitar, bass and drums that make them the year’s most vital band. It’s everything else; the psych-tinged Janet Jackson tribute that is “3 AM,” the pulsing exploration of “Now I’m in It,” which sounds like Savage Garden breathlessly dancing at a Robyn concert. Their song writing has only become more dauntless since Days Are Gone put them on the map and they help rock transcend its perceived limitations in 2020 without declining to rock altogether. We bow down to Danielle, Este and Alana, our three-headed summer girl.

These sisters had a hit a few years back and Iv’e always like their cool LA vibe but this album kicked it up a notch . This song is great but the whole album is worth a few hundred listens.

Finest Moment: Pick one: “Man from the Magazine,” a percussion-free middle finger to mansplaining journalists and their dumb-ass questions (“Do you make the same faces in bed?”) or the accidentally apt “I Know Alone,” whose opening line “Been a couple days since I’ve been out” has become a coronavirus quotable (despite being written months before the pandemic). Far too many people can relate to both

In 2017, the New York Times declared, “Rock’s not dead, it’s ruled by women.” Iterations of this thesis, equal parts tone-deaf and impressed with itself, have proliferated over the last several years, as the word “women” has been whittled down to a buzzword. Women have created complicated, vulnerable, muscular music since the dawn of rock, yet every few months, someone discovers it for the first time.

While there’s plenty of genre-hopping on Women in Music Pt. III—hip-hop, reggae, folk, heartland rock, and dance—HAIM has created an album that’s defined not just by exploration, but by their strong sense of individuality. Unlike the sparkling, thoroughly modern production of 2017’s Something to Tell You, this album’s scratchy drums, murky vocals, and subtle blending of acoustic and electronic elements sound ripped straight from an old vinyl. It’s darker, heavier fare for Haim, for sure—a summer party record for a troubled summer. Haim’s instincts to veer a little more left of the dial result in an album that strikes a deft balance between the experimental and the commercial, the moody and the uplifting. You’re unlikely to hear these songs on Kroger’s in-store playlist—on which 2017’s “Little of Your Love” seems to have become a permanent staple alongside the likes of “Eye of the Tiger” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”—but these songs are riskier, and ultimately that much more rewarding.

The best album of the Haim sisters’ collective career is a smorgasbord of genres. From the R&B worship of “3AM” and “Gasoline” to the Paul Simon-referencing “Up From a Dream”—via “Man From the Magazine”‘s raw-edged raised eyebrow—the record broadens the band’s horizons while also holding onto the core pop-rock sensibility beloved by their fans. Establishing them even further as the current torchbearers of long-haired California guitar music, Women In Music Pt. III is the record that believers have long known HAIM had in them.

On Women In Music Pt. III, Haim poke fun at the trope and prove its validity. They drift from boundless joy into hazy dream states, skipping around the vibrant streets of LA and then going through the motions in a fog. WIMPIII’s sound is similarly layered; R&B slow jams, country crooners, and melodic indie-pop build on HAIM’s soft rock foundation. Some of the album’s best one-liners and biting salvos confront the experience of being othered by men — during interviews, booty calls, relationships — but there’s no mistaking who’s in control.

Ganser released their debut LP Odd Talk in 2018 to favourable coverage from The New York Times, Billboard, and Stereogum. Building on their dissociative disorder namesake, the album’s tone vacillated between frenzied and contemplative, probing on questions of communication, intimacy, and avoidance. On Just Look at That Sky, Ganser further explores the personal inner climate of uncertain times.

Just Look at That Sky is full of poetic recitations about maintaining one’s sanity while the world caves in. The Chicago outfit’s second album contains the wide-eyed glare and off-the-wall energy of someone who’s close to the final straw and searching for the best way to cope. Its on-edge nature is quelled by surreal humour and dark playfulness, though Ganser leave plenty of room for existential spiralling, too. Meshing noise, art rock and post-punk, there’s a palpable sense of forward motion and doom, but it’s not a resigned doom—it’s a contemplative, purposeful doom that wouldn’t dare waste space on nihilism. This record starts strong with the pummeling “Lucky” and never lets up. Over nine tracks, Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman just batter you to death with good old fashioned punk rock, with a little bit of psychedelia and noise thrown in for good measure. With two lead vocalists, Alicia and Nadia, they put themselves above most other punk bands right away.


Either one can hold down that position with ease, and they even share duties on “Bad Form”. Punk isn’t really known for its great-sounding vocals, but Ganser is here to make you listen. Like most punk albums, this record can put you on the edge, and this year with most of us being there already, it feels like a fitting release. With witty and surreal lyrics dealing with many of the world’s problems today, Ganser tackles it all in stride. The record ends with “Bags For Life” bringing it all to a head speaking directly about the problems of how much the online world has taken over our daily lives.

And then there’s Ganser’s lyrics: manic explorations of worry and dread mark this record, the epic messiness of daily life in our damaged times attacked with sardonic specificity as often as generalized doom. Just Look at That Sky isn’t afraid to acknowledge that we’re all Extremely Online all the time, but rather explicitly owns it. These songs chart inner monologues of emphatic confusion, emotions already deeply felt further ratcheted up by the anxiety of always having too much information about other people, and always being just one tweet or status update away from knowing what everyone really thinks about us. This culminates in closing track “Bags for Life,” which imagines how online discourse might tackle a front-row seat for the end of the world.

These are songs that never shy away from ugliness and confusion, that believe embracing the totality of the self sometimes means leaning into our dickish behavior. In the past, some listeners have had trouble reconciling non-male voices with the sorts of topics Ganser writes about, but that comes to an end with Just Look at That Sky. Co-produced with Electrelane’s Mia Clarke and engineer Brian Fox, this is an assured, fully realized triumph of a record from an art-punk band that’s figured out how to focus on making great art, even if everything else around them falls apart.

Single taken from Ganser’s ‘Just Look At That Sky’ Album Ganser is Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman.

Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals) and Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals) met in art school, bonding over their shared love of The Residents, outsider communities, and transgressive filmmakers like John Waters and David Lynch. The hands-on, DIY craftsmanship honed in those years has carried over into a group that shares writing duties, collaborates closely on music videos and album art, and crafts Brechtian visuals to accompany their maximalist live show. Having shared stages with the likes of Daughters, Oh Sees, Algiers, as well as Modern English, Ganser is a band that refuses to be pinned down, four individuals of diverse backgrounds functioning with the collective consciousness of four people in uncertain times.

beach bunny honeymoon

Emo garage-rock becomes thrillingly new on this Chicago band’s debut, driven by the bracingly real song writing of singer-guitarist Lili Trifilio. Pop-punk torpedoes like “Promises” and “Colorblind” power through self-doubt in a way that makes post-teen romantic angst seem at once archetypal yet wholly original; Beach Bunny are college-age kids who’ve been playing together for years, so there’s a surprisingly amount of song writing chops and musical precision here, and when Trifilio gets what she deserves on “Cloud 9,” singing “I don’t want to seem the way I do/but I’m confident when I’m with you,” you can’t help but want to jump up and high-five her.

Honeymoon is the excellent debut album from Beach Bunny, the four-piece band out of Chicago. Recorded at the iconic Chicago studio Electrical Audio with producer Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Algernon Caldwaller), the nine songs on the LP burst with energy that capture their vital and life-affirming live shows. Songs like the swooning and anthemic singles “Dream Boy” and “Ms. California” encapsulate the highs and lows the exiting the honeymoon stage of a relationship.

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Beach Bunny found its initial legs in 2018 as fully formed fuzz-pop quartet, landing a streaming hit with the dark-witted body image paean “Prom Queen.” More so than on her earlier more-acoustic releases, Trifilio’s full-band version of Beach Bunny revealed a knack for infectious pop hooks played with a collaborative energy, which helped propel her anxious observations beyond mere folk confessionalism. The success of “Prom Queen” also helped the group net a deal with New York indie Mom + Pop Records, which offers up their full-length debut, Honeymoon.

Like the self-released EP that preceded it, Honeymoon capitalizes on Trifilio’s emotional honesty and strong melodic sense, but with a bolder production aesthetic, doing away with some of the lo-fi leanings of her previous output. Having spent the last couple of years gelling as a live band, Beach Bunny seem altogether more streamlined here, even flirting with elements of pop-punk precision on cuts like “Cuffing Season” and “Colorblind,” though without losing their indie charm. Most of the songs are up-tempo, with Trifilio taking a timeout on the introspective electric piano piece “Racetrack” and the more jagged “Rearview,” the latter of which is played entirely solo until its mighty final 30 seconds. Honeymoon is bookended by a pair of highlights in “Promises” and “Cloud 9,” two rousing tracks that connect squarely and showcase the best of what Beach Bunny can do.

There’s an endearing tenderness to Trifilio’s personal song writing style that mostly avoids emo clichés, and the band’s cautiously buoyant indie pop walks the line between sweet and muscular on this solid debut. The long-awaited debut LP “Honeymoon” from Beach Bunny follows their breakout hit with “Prom Queen” (65 million global streams). released February 14th, 2020 on Mom+Pop Records

The self-produced debut album from indie-rock four-piece Slow PulpEmily Massey (vocals/guitar), Henry Stoehr (guitar), Alex Leeds (bass) and Teddy Mathews (drums)—may as well have been written and recorded in another lifetime. The Madison-bred, Chicago-based band began work on their first full-length last spring, and they redirected their efforts after Massey was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease and chronic Mono; her newfound focus on self-care dovetailed with Slow Pulp fine-tuning their approach to song writing, parallel processes each rooted in accountability and communication.

Vulnerable yet defiant, ‘Moveys’ is ten moving tracks that are guitar driven with a real anthemic quality. Included is the powerful single ‘Idaho’ which is Massey’s account of overcoming her health struggles and finding self-acceptance when being constantly rejected by others:

“The diagnosis validated a lot of what I was feeling. I got tools for how to take care of myself better. The way that I internalize trauma is I will hold it in and not process it for a very long time, but writing songs is the one place where I can’t hide from myself. It just comes out whether or not I want it to or if I’m ready for it to. Figuring out how to write together, as a band, was like me learning how to take care of myself and learning how to communicate better.”

All kinds of bad things prefaced the making of Slow Pulp’s debut album Moveys: frontwoman Emily Massey parents endured a car crash—and then a global pandemic unfolded. Yet the songs that were birthed from these circumstances reverberate with sonic serenity and clarity. Lead single “Idaho” depicts a band reflecting and moving from darkness toward light; Massey’s voice is weightless while she sings the line “I’m losing all the while.” This sprawling ballad fuses indie rock with folk, which a lot of the albums seems to do. “At It Again” leans into indie rock, electrified and spinning from the beginning, and sticks out among the abundance of tamer songs it’s a burst of unrestrained frustration, and it’s refreshing.

Slow Pulp were often been categorized as “shoegaze,” and Moveys exhibits the Chicago band showing off their abilities in other realms. “Falling Apart” proves that they can create gorgeous, slow tracks that resemble Hovvdy or Lomelda; “Movey” showcases their desire for idiosyncrasy with upbeat keyboard effects celebrating the ending of a sad record. It can’t quite be summed up into a single genre, but it can be summed up as an evocative collection of songs that convey the ups and downs of being human. 

These new songs came together in earnest during the band’s fall 2019 tour alongside Alex G, but in March 2020, as they were finishing the album, Massey’s parents were injured in a serious car accident, requiring her to return home to Madison to care for them—soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic’s Stateside spread required her to stay there. The ensuing seven months of lockdown have distorted time almost beyond recognition. The band finished “Moveys” (its title, in part, a nod to the upheaval of its making) from afar, and it’s better than it has any right to be, a vividly realized debut with the bold, exploratory confidence of a mid-career release.

Many bands find it a struggle to gain attention and simply continue to exist in an environment that is so hostile to anyone other than acts with mainstream appeal and huge commercial backing. Indie rock quartet from Slow Pulp were facing these familiar problems the adjustments in Massey’s life led to a radical change in direction for the band and the sound of what has become their debut album ‘Moveys’.

Catch Slow Pulp playing UK shows during February 2021!

Sylvan Esso is Amelia Randall Meath and Nick Sanborn. A Band. With the swift demise of concerts as we know them this year, the live album has taken on a significance it’s not enjoyed for the better part of a half-century. So lucky were we that Sylvan Esso released “With” and its accompanying concert film a month into what felt like the end of everything good. Calling on a row of musician-friends hailing from Landlady, Hand Habits, Bon Iver, Mountain Man, and Mr Twin Sister, the already-great-live duo burn through a jaw-dropping set that recasts their catalogue with the warmth of eight further beating hearts, giving fans less of a reason to mourn the shows that could not be, but rather a glimmer of those to look forward to yet. 

Surprise! Our new “With Love” EP, featuring songs from the extra special From The Satellite performance, is available for streaming. Like its sister record “With” this album reimagines Sylvan Esso’s works as a full band, adding new layers and textures to these classic songs. The live version of “Free” at the end of this is hauntingly, intimately perfect. Twenty minutes and fifty eight seconds of sublime joy. The big band Sylvan Esso vibe is the finest thing there is.


This tour existed only to exist, not to promote a new album or celebrate a milestone. No, Sylvan Esso simply wanted to do something fun. For themselves, for their fans, and for us, their friends, who got easily roped into being in the ten piece band. We were all sent the song list in advance, with just a few written ideas of what some of us could do on each song, but largely it all remained open for interpretation and when we convened in the house to rehearse in Durham for the first time. On the first day we played the song “Wolf,” checking the pulse of the band, how would we sound together, how would we arrange together, and how much homework did everyone actually do? The first take of that song put everyone immediately at ease and also turned up the temperature. Because it went really well. We knew how good this could sound, how different it could be from the original recordings and how special that would feel for the crowd, and for us. “Wolf” ended up being the first song in the set. “Wolf” became the anchor, before the rocket ship would take off each night. Yes I know I made a boat analogy early. And now I’ve shifted to space. That’s an accurate representation of how this show ended up.

The first four days we would just keep chipping away at songs, written on a large piece of butcher paper on the wall in fat marker, and we’d cross them off one by one as we hit them. The first day was a dream because we learned five songs and they all sounded great. The second day was impossible, because we had to learn five more songs, and then suddenly the songs from the first day weren’t so perfect anymore. That’s the big problem with getting better. Your ceiling goes up, the standards rise, and the goods can always keep improving, which means, in more pessimistic terms, it can always also keep sounding worse. There were twenty songs to learn, so there was a lot of bucking and bobbing back and forth between feeling over-confident and supremely challenged. Sometimes that had to do with how hungry we were.


After the family style rehearsals concluded, we headed to Los Angeles for tech rehearsal. To get there involved thirteen of us, band and crew, flying on an airplane. Thirteen people each checking three bags. Thirteen people moving through the airport together is insane. It’s like a school trip. After the tour was done Nick and Amelia remarked on how ridiculous it was that we didn’t do any warm-up shows, how insane it was that we jumped into the fire at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a Frank Gehry designed space for the LA Philharmonic where a portion of the audience sits behind you. But we did it. For over two thousand people on night one, we did it, and we did it surprisingly well. We had our expectations set to cautious, because sometimes the first show can be a true disaster, it almost is supposed to be, but everyone cared so much and worked so hard and the stakes felt so high that somehow a meltdown just didn’t happen. 

The last two shows were homecoming shows in Durham, a little different feeling from the classic theatres, and these were the shows that were filmed for what you’re seeing here and now. I’m excited to watch it just so I can see the light show from the front. We were so sad when it ended but there wasn’t a formal goodbye. Folks trickled off to go home, and a bunch of us watched a movie the next day. It’s implied that we will be together again, we’re just not sure how or when. Those of us who don’t live in North Carolina feel ourselves threatening ourselves to move there, but I don’t see it happening for me. I like being called to serve and being swept into the vortex, then returning home to wait for the next vortex to assemble

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'see you tomorrow the innocence mission mission'

Lancaster, PA’s Innocence Mission have been making delicate dreampop for longer than that descriptor has existed, with Karin Peris’ heartbreaking voice forever the star of the show. Draped in aching melancholy, “See You Tomorrow” is among the group’s finest in a span over a 30 year plus career. Alternative folk act The Innocence Mission first gained recognition in 1989, when they found chart success with their self-titled debut album. By the time the band released their third album, Glow, in 1995, they had earned a zealous cult following that remains loyal to them to this day. Their songs tend to be exquisitely crafted, featuring ethereally beautiful acoustic-based music and hauntingly introspective and thoughtful lyrics, all combining into a sound that is at once delicate yet intense. The band, led by married couple Karen Peris (vocals, guitar, piano, organ) and Don Peris (guitars, drums vocals), originated when they first met in high school. Now, more than thirty years later, they (along with bassist Mike Bitts) are preparing to release their twelfth studio album,

Love. Connection. Community. Understanding. Most of us experience these aspects through the prism of family and friends. But not everybody can turn those feelings into song, especially not with the beauty and sensitivity of Pennsylvania trio the innocence mission, fronted by Karen Peris and husband Don. Following their Bella Union album debut “Sun On The Square”, which won the band some of their best-ever reviews, they have made another exquisite and touching album, “See You Tomorrow“.

This is a record steeped in awe and wonder, intense longing, sadness and joy; a rich sequence of songs that attempt to describe the essence of what makes us human. Sufjan Stevens, who has covered the innocence mission’s classic Lakes Of Canada, once called their music “moving and profound. What is so remarkable about Karen Peris’ lyrics is the economy of words, concrete nouns which come to life with melodies that dance around the scale like sea creatures.” The band recorded See You Tomorrow in the Peris’ basement (and the dining room where the piano sits). Karen wrote and sang ten of the album’s eleven songs, and plays guitars, piano, pump organ, accordion, electric bass, melodica, mellotron, and an old prototype strings sampler keyboard. Don contributes guitars, drums, vocal harmonies, and one lead vocal on his song Mary Margaret In Mid-Air. Fellow founder member Mike Bitts adds upright bass to four songs including On Your Side, the album’s first single.

With wistful strings and distant acoustic guitar, “On Your Side” sounds like the first chill of autumn.

Rising from the ashes of Brooklyn’s Grooms, Activity tread a similar dark, unsettling groove with krautrock rhythms, slashing guitars and creepy, surreal atmosphere. “Unmask Whoever” is doppelganger music for a parallel universe. This supergroup featuring members of Grooms, Field Mouse, and Russian Baths. Produced by Jeff Berner of Psychic TV. Mastered by Heba Kadry, known for her work with Bjork, Slowdive, Deerhunter, Japanese Breakfast, Cass McCombs, et al. Activity are an avant four-piece featuring Travis Johnson, and drummer Steve Levine, both from the band Grooms, bassist Zoë Browne from Field Mouse, and guitarist Jess Rees from Russian Baths. Their debut forms a casually menacing framework for lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws, and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. Lead single Calls Your Name, establishes the record’s spectral aura with nauseated electronic bells, and a relentless Geoff Barrow-esque drum beat beneath a half-sung, half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’s 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states. Allegorically, this speaks to the kind of opportunity for metamorphosis and positive change that’s possible when the depths of disillusionment are reached, an idea which permeates much of the album. Despite recurrent aches of discontentment, each track glows with radiant waves of catharsis while elegantly evoking jubilation and anguish within the same breadth, showing that the two are always around the corner from one another. For fans of Blonde Redhead, Clinic, Deerhunter and Broadcast.

“Earth Angel” is both sinister and sensuous and when singer Travis Johnson sings “I wanna fuck around” barely above a whisper, danger lurks.

Dana Margolin really has a way with words. She likes to roll them ’round and ’round until the meaning flakes off and there’s nothing but feeling left. With their debut record five years in the making, the Brighton collective provided us with an unusual take on somewhat-anachronistic indie, shaped by Dana Margolin’s quaking, often unpredictable vocal delivery. All the memorable peaks on “Every Bad” are characterized by Margolin’s unreliable insistence that, say, “everything’s fine,” while the jarring opener climaxes and ebbs with the repeated, impossibly tense line “Thank you for making me happy.” I don’t think you could possibly adapt the “This is fine.” meme more fluently into song writing.

As many of us have followed them around for years, we predicted big things for these Brighton locals but we never suspected they had something quite this special in them.

Songwriter Dana Margolin’s vulnerability has been her constant strength and despite the nuanced and difficult subjects she takes on in her songs, she’s always had some level of lo-fi production or guitar fuzz to shield her, thanks to the bedroom pop genesis of most of these tracks. however, on ‘every bad’, she unabashedly centres herself and the result is astounding. That’s not to say that the guitar fuzz and lo-fi production have vanished – far from it in fact. ‘Every Bad’ takes cues from nirvana, who mastered underpinning anxiety with abrasion, raincoats in their tendency to twist, turn and change a song without warning and pixies in their ability to turn the aggression of grunge into a diverse and supple sound. so yes, they are clearly inspired by the bands of their youth but on these familiar foundations, something uniquely dynamic has been built. the jagged instrumentation complements dana’s rugged vocals and authentic lyrics perfectly, matching the mood of each song and manoeuvring effortlessly to enhance a lyricist who tackles sensitive, esoteric and existential subjects.

On opener “Born Confused” the singer chants “Thank you for making me happy” for a minute and a half. It starts off a little wistful, then genuine. With about 40 seconds left the edges start to wobble and the mantra becomes a frenzied wash of anguish. By the time the song cuts out, mid-sentence, it sounds like an accusation, if not an attack.

She told Apple Music that the track “captures the feeling of frustration and trying to figure things out”, which is maybe the core of Every Bad. It’s full of direct contradictions, cocksure one second and confused the next. It does an incredible job of transmitting the anxiety of being in your mid-20s. I’m an adult, why am I still adrift? “Oh, I don’t know what I want/But I know what I want/Oh, I don’t know what I want/But…”. Despite this vulnerability, dana never softens her edges or compromises in her lyrics. her pronounced and very forthright uncertainty and confusion comes across as defined and unflinching – the only thing she can be certain of is that confusion. this is not music that moralises or offers answers to life’s big questions – it is here to express raw emotional response with no interest in resolution.
That refusal to offer an easy way out is what makes it both so personal and so relatable. we may not have experienced the same situations, but we’ve felt those same nameless, onerous emotions. these guttural anthems amass into a defining album that’s burst them out of their established Brighton bubble, got them mercury nominated and has firmly planted them in hearts everywhere.

‘Sweet’ by Porridge Radio, taken from their forthcoming album Every Bad released in March . The DIY Brighton outfit were called ‘slacker indie’ when they released their first full album. “Every Bad” shows that description had more to do with the garage they recorded it in than their motivation.

Shopping are propulsive bass lines, primitive disco-not-disco drums and guitar lines sharp as broken glass. The band was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), who’ve all done time in a plethora of notable UK DIY bands 

This is the fourth long player from Rachel, Andrew and Billy, with their adept lo-fi take on that mutant disco/no wave dance-punk sound. Shopping pull the neat trick of getting better with every album, leaving you restless to hear what they do next. Album centerpiece “For Your Pleasure” is a treatise on hedonism set to retrofuturist synthesizers and artificial handclaps; perhaps too frantic for the ’70s discotechques Shopping has conjured in the past, it would sound right at home in the cocaine ’80s. It resembles no other Shopping song before it, raising the ceiling for a promising band with plenty left to say.


Post-punk trio Shopping have long been heralded as queer icons of the London DIY scene—but things change. For one, Shopping no longer consider London as their home base: Guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk have relocated to Glasgow, while bassist Billy Easter is currently living in L.A. The trio is also shaking off their pared-down sound, instead choosing to embrace the possibilities of synths, beats and a polished studio feel.

The band is, obviously, still emblematic of queer artistic expression, but just maybe not in the way you were so sure that they were. On All or Nothing, Shopping’s fourth album since their inception in 2012, they deliver some of their most articulate, exciting songs as a group, while also eschewing some of the formulaic components of their music that made them so interesting in the first place. They teased the electronic-leaning sound of the album with singles “Initiative” and “For Your Pleasure,” but while many bands lose their edge when they adopt a smoother, synthier aesthetic, Shopping still remain punk in a restless and frenetic way—even when the guitars are put down.

I’ve always thought that Shopping are all about bringing a dance ideal to the punk aesthetic. Or maybe they’re all about adding a punk ideal to a dance aesthetic? I’m not really sure which it is, but I’m still really impressed with the result, an effortless blend that speaks to a perfect understanding of both forms, along with being a great collection of songs that make you wanna dance.

Relatively few artists have produced as many albums in as much time of equally high quality and interest, and the latest really showcases them at their most punchy and impactful yet. They really peak when they are all singing together.

With their 2018 debut Parts, Ohmme introduced a combustive art-rock style based on tightly intertwined dual vocals and improvisatory guitars, wringing sing-song catchiness from baroque complexity. On “Fantasize Your Ghost”, the Chicago band further explores this craggy terrain, with detours into noisenik squalls, Krautrock grooves, and chamber-pop delicacy. Core duo Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham (who has worked for the company that produces Pitchfork Music Festival) are most impressive in their sharp-tongued songcraft, whether confronting a distant partner or conjuring up a childhood reverie that juxtaposes hot lava and hot dogs—unsettlingly delectable. 

OHMME presents: “Fantasize Your Ghost” is a special concert film recorded live at Constellation in their hometown, Chicago. Bridging the gap between their frenetic live shows and their carefully crafted studio albums, the film presents their latest full length album in its entirety with the addition of their newest songs “Mine” and “Miasma” The show captures Ohmme with an expanded line-up featuring Nnamdï Ogbonnaya on drums, Ruby Parker and Quinn Tsan on backing vox and V.V. Lightbody on backing vox and flute.


Co-directed by Jake Saner and Lauren Pratt with set design by Delaney Stewart, sound by Dorian Gehring, movement by Ashley Robicheaux, and co-produced with Constellation, the film pulls you in close with the band, enveloping you in their music and their dreams.

Chicago duo Ohmme was started by Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham in the summer of 2014, combining their love for lush vocals and song writing with their love of experimentation and sound.

Released June 5th, 2020

OHMME is Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart
All songs written and performed by OHMME
All drums and percussion performed by Matt Carroll