Posts Tagged ‘Durham’

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Prefab Sprout have reissued four albums on vinyl, via Sony Legacy. The ’80s sophisti-pop group was formed in 1977 by brothers Paddy and Martin McAloon, releasing their debut album “Swoon” in 1984. The Durham natives became a mainstay in UK music, going on to release a total of 13 LPs. Prefab Sprout date back to 1970s art-rock; leader Paddy McAloon was sent a rejection letter by Brian Eno’s record label in 1976. They didn’t release their debut album “Swoon” until 1984, by which time the lineup had solidified. Paddy McAloon was joined by his brother Martin on bass, Neil Conti on drums, and Wendy Smith on backing vocals.

Paddy McAloon is a great pop writer, and Prefab Sprout have released a lot of great material.There are different theories on where Prefab Sprout got their name. My favourite is a misheard lyric from Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood’s 1967 hit ‘Jackson’ (“We got married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout”).

The four records will be reissued – “Swoon” (1984), “From Langley Park to Memphis” LP (1988), “Jordan: The Comeback” LP (1990), and compilation “Life of Surprises:The Best of Prefab Sprout”  (1992).

All of the remastering was overseen by Paddy McAloon, the groups’ songwriter. Prefab Sprout enjoyed some commercial success in the 1980s and early 1990s, but have been relegated to the status of cult band ever since. It’s a shame, as McAloon is a very talented songwriter; he’s able to integrate complex chord structures into catchy pop songs, and his lyrics are often filled with clever wordplay and his preoccupations with mortality, religion, and stardom.

Prefab Sprout Swoon

Paddy McAloon expected debut Swoon to be bigger than Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but it’s a demanding listen; songs like ‘I Never Play Basketball Now’ are packed with crazy chord sequences, delivered with a touch of post-punk rawness. Swoon is the album equivalent of an over eager puppy – its songs are stuffed with complex chord changes and time signatures, and precocious lyrics. At the same time, the production is far less elaborate than later albums, and it’s more of an indie guitar album than their later work. Swoon is a highly original record, melding various styles into one unique vision, resulting in a sophisticated sound the band could claim as its own. It has been sited as a strange fusion of Aztec Camera and Steely Dan, which makes sense, but ultimately Swoon proves too complicated for simple comparisons.

Some fans swear by Swoon as one of Prefab Sprout’s best albums, but it took me a long time to warm to it, as there’s so much happening. ‘Cue Fanfare’ is a good example of the album’s dense and skewed nature, with its references to “Playing for blood as grandmasters should,” and McAloon’s yelped falsetto and synthesizer stabs. ‘Don’t Sing’ was the single, and it’s probably the most accessible song, while under the busy arrangement, ‘Cruel’ has a torch song vibe.

Swoon is a polarising album since it’s so unique.

Prefab Sprout Steve McQueen Two Wheels Good

Steve McQueen/Two Wheels Good, 1985

Prefab Sprout streamlined their sound for their next album released in 1985 “Steve McQueen” the band prospered over the next five years. Their biggest hit was the 1988 novelty ‘The King of Rock’n’Roll’ – McAloon later told the New Musical Express that “it’s a bit like being known for Yellow Submarine rather than Hey Jude”.Prefab Sprout’s best-known album opens with a rockabilly-tinged song named for country star “Faron Young”. The song opens with the word “antiques” – apparently McAloon had written the music but was struggling for the lyrics, and asked then-drummer Michael Salmon for a random word to spark his lyric-writing process. “Antiques” leads into one of my favourite Sprout lyrics; “As obsolete as warships in the Baltic”.

Even more powerful is “Goodbye Lucille No. 1 (Johnny Johnny),” sung from the perspective of a man trying to make a close friend get over a girl who has rejected him. The words are frank and painfully realistic as McAloon doesn’t sugarcoat the dialogue. He rips into his buddy’s futile romantic fantasies and lets the hard light of reality shine upon him: “Ooh Johnny Johnny Johnny you won’t make it any better/Ooh Johnny Johnny Johnny you might well make it worse.”

Steve McQueen was re-titled Two Wheels Good for the US market after legal difficulties with McQueen’s estate; it established their career in the UK after ‘When Love Breaks Down’ became a successful single on its third release. The major change for Prefab Sprout’s sophomore effort was Thomas Dolby collaborating as their producer; Dolby had spoken favourably of ‘Don’t Sing’ from Swoon, and the band contacted him to produce their second album. Dolby chose his favourite songs out of 40-50 songs that were bought to the table by McAloon , and provided a lush production job that complements the literate lyrics – Wendy Smith’s vocals are processed in ways that sometimes make her sound like a synthesiser. The precociousness and frenzy of Swoon is toned back, and while there are still complex chord changes and lyrics on Steve McQueen, it’s a lot more accessible.

Steve McQueen has two clear halves; the first side is built around accessible and upbeat pop songs, while the second side is more esoteric. The hits on the first side include the rockabilly of ‘Faron Young’, and the perfect pop of ‘Appetite’, while the title ‘Goodbye Lucille #1’ apparently refers to the fact that McAloon had written a full album of songs with named Goodbye Lucille. There’s more clever pop like ‘Movin’ The River’ and ‘Hallelujah’ on the second side, but there’s also slowed down material like ‘Blueberry Pies’ and ‘When The Angels’.

The key figure behind Prefab Sprout between 1985 and 1990 was producer Thomas Dolby. The tech genius added a sophisticated synth sheen to McAloon’s compositions, and treated Wendy Smith’s voice to sound like another instrument. ‘Appetite’ is among my favourite from the album’s first side, the primal urge of lust presented with sophistication. Paddy McAloon claimed that he was ‘probably the best songwriter in the universe’. He wasn’t far off the mark. This album is a collection of beautiful, atmospheric, catchy, moving, thoughtful songs, treated with one of the best production efforts Thomas Dolby has ever done – and that’s quite something. Wendy Smith’s simple, soaring backing vocals and Dolby’s very personal keyboard sounds suit Neil Conti’s crisp drums, Martin Mcaloon’s deep bass and Paddy’s complex compositions perfectly. Dolby and the band struck something very special and undefinable on this album that they haven’t quite been able to recreate on their following collaborations.

Steve McQueen was re-released in 2007 with a bonus disc of eight newly recorded acoustic versions by McAloon. They’re gorgeous, and underline how strong the material on the album is.

Prefab Sprout From Langley Park to Memphis

From Langley Park to Memphis, 1988

Paddy McAloon’s always had a sentimental streak, but it’s rendered palatable by his musical and lyrical sophistication. The music video for ‘I Remember That’ situates the band in an early 20th century jazz club. The lyrics are sharp enough not to wallow in romantic nostalgia; “there’s nothing pathetic listing clothes she’d wear/If it proves that I had you, if it proves I was there.” I only had room for one pick from 1988’s From Langley Park to Memphis, but I would have liked to include McAloon’s affectionate ribbing of Bruce Springsteen on ‘Cars and Girls’.

Even though Steve McQueen had some production sheen, it was essentially still an indie guitar album. From Langley Park to Memphis takes Prefab Sprout in a more adult contemporary direction – McAloon has stated that he was writing show tunes during this period. There’s an Americana theme, with songs like ‘Hey Manhattan’, lyrics like ‘Hot Dog! Jumping Frog! Albuquerque’, and the Springsteen pastiche of ‘Cars and Girls’. Following on the success of Steve McQueen, it’s also a more high profile release, with cameos from Pete Townsend and Stevie Wonder.

There’s some strong material here, but From Langley Park to Memphis is less than the sum of its parts – the sequencing where the first side is clearly stronger than the second, the adult contemporary sheen from a variety of producers, and the novelty hit ‘King of Rock and Roll’ all detract from the album. There are at least a couple of top tier Prefab songs here – ‘I Remember That’ is a beautiful piece of gospel infused pop. While it’s hard to know if ‘Cars And Girls’ is an affectionate tribute or a gentle take-down of Springsteen, but either way it’s a strong song in its own right. There are pretty melodies like ‘Nightingales’ and ‘Nancy Let Down Your Hair For Me’, but the awkward rock of ‘Golden Calf’ hurts the momentum of the second side.

Released in the middle of their 1980s’ peak, Langley Park is a key Prefab Sprout album, but it’s not quite the towering achievement that it could have been.

Protest Songs Prefab Sprout

Protest Songs, 1989

Protest Songs was originally scheduled as a followup to Steve McQueen – it was announced for December 1985, but wasn’t in stores until 1989. It’s low-key, with an indie guitar-pop sound, but it’s a substantive entry into the band’s catalogue. I particularly enjoy the opening track, ‘The World Awake’, which presents a typically complex McAloon song in a low-key arrangement.

Protest Songs does open with some upbeat, accessible songs; the opener ‘The World Awake’ is one of my favourite Prefab Sprout songs with its bizarre backing vocals and insistent hook, while the affectionate advice of ‘Life of Surprises’ is hooky and energetic. There’s more pointed current event commentary than usual – ‘Diana’ discusses the Princess of Wales, while ‘Dublin’ concerns Irish politics – while McAloon returns to his common themes of mortality with the low key conclusion of ”Til The Cows Come Home’ and ‘Pearly Gates’.

With its low key nature, Protest Songs has aged gracefully


Jordan: The Comeback 1990

The sprawling Jordan: The Comeback is their masterpiece. The group lost momentum after Jordan, as record company miscommunication sabotaged the followup album, Prefab Sprout’s output slowed after this 1990’s ambitious double album Jordan: The Comeback, but there have been gems among the later releases. The double album Jordan: The Comeback allows McAloon space to explore some of his lyrical obsessions; over its running time, he examines Elvis Presley, death, and God. The wonderful crashing drums after the organ solo at the beginning of ‘Scarlet Nights’ still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – as do Jenny Agutter’s ‘I want you’s’ on Wild Horses. Sublime, and even better now in its remastered form ‘Scarlet Nights’ is arguably the most uplifting song about dying ever recorded; “This is where you’ll wake/To find the river, Jordan, flows.” Group mastermind Paddy McAloon covers the gamut here, ranging from incisive takes on American legends (Elvis and Jesse James) to love songs both wistful We Let the Stars Go and self-assured Looking for Atlantis Jordan climaxes with One of the Broken, a singular plea for compassion in which McAloon assumes the character of none other than God.

The Ice Maiden’ was inspired from youthful memories of watching ABBA on TV, but it quickly escalates an examination into mortality. “Death is a small price for heaven” is the most memorable line. Driven by an electronic pulse, it packs a lot into a little over three minutes; Wendy Smith’s prominent vocals, a dramatic key change, and Paddy McAloon’s chunky guitar riffing. It culminates in screams before abruptly segueing to the whimsical ‘Paris Smith’.

Prefab Sprout Andromeda Heights

Andromeda Heights

Andromeda Heights is a concept album about stars, but there are plenty of love-struck lyrics as well. Drummer Neil Conti had left the band by this point, and there’s not much of a band feel to most of the tracks. Often the orchestral instruments that augment the band are more pronounced, although the orchestrations aren’t as interestingly as on McAloon’s 2003 solo album, and they’re more about adding warmth and lushness. The sentimentality that was often present on Prefab Sprout’s earlier albums is much more pronounced on Andromeda Heights.

Andromeda Heights is one of Prefab Sprout’s weaker records, but my favourite Prefab Sprout is outtake from it is ‘The End of the Affair’. It’s more sentimental and string-laden than most of Prefab Sprout’s work, but it’s a beautiful tune. Prefab Sprout have some other great b-sides too; other notable efforts include 1985’s ‘Donna Summer’ or the rocking ‘Nero the Zero’.

Prefab Sprout also have plenty of interesting non-album material which has never been collected onto CD – early singles like ‘Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)’ are well worth tracking down, ‘The End of the Affair’, originally written for Cher. Rumour has it that McAloon has albums full of unreleased material, including a concept record about Michael Jackson and an album full of songs titled ‘Goodbye Lucille’.

Prefab Sprout hadn’t released an album of new material since The Gunman and Other Stories in 2001, so 2013’s Crimson/Red is essentially a collection of the best songs McAloon had written in the previous twelve years. It’s recorded solo by Paddy McAloon in his home studio, but it’s much more professional sounding than the demos of Let’s Change The World With Music, and it’s easily Prefab Sprout’s strongest release since 1990’s Jordan: The Comeback.

Prefab Sprout CrimsonRed

Crimson/Red, 2013

The band’s latest release was Crimson/Red back in 2013, as well as a vinyl reissue of McAloon’s 2003 solo album “I Trawl the Megahertz” earlier this year. By 2013, Prefab Sprout was effectively a name for Paddy McAloon’s solo endeavours; he played all the instruments and provided all the vocals for ‘Billy’. There’s a great bass-line and his vocals have barely aged. McAloon typically uses complex chord structures, but ‘Billy’ cycles through the same five chords for its entirety. Its breezy and fun, with McAloon charmingly cycling the subject’s name between “Bill”, “William”, and “Billy”.

Paddy McAloon has grown a long white beard, but he still sounds youthful – he even makes the word “assholes” sound exquisite. 2013’s ‘The Best Jewel Thief in the World’ is impressively energetic and melodic. It’s McAloon’s best song of the 21st century, even though it’s hamstrung by a poor music video; the fan-made version (presented below) is much better.

‘The Best Jewel Thief in the World’ is an immediate winner, a hook-laden and energetic piece of pop, while the disarmingly simple ‘Billy’ is warm and immediate. There are shout-outs to fellow songwriters, with ‘The Songs of Danny Galway’ covering Jimmy Webb and ‘Mysterious’ about Bob Dylan, while ‘The Dreamer’ is straight-out beautiful. There are also some memorable lyrics like “Adolescence – what’s it like? / It’s a psychedelic motorbike / You smash it up ten times a day / Then you walk away.”

If we’re being picky, there are a few too many slow songs, but Crimson/Red is an definite comeback from Prefab Sprout and worth the attention.

The reissues are available now with a new album titled Femmes Mythologiques incoming later this year.

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Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) have shared a brand new song, “Fear of Heights.” It follows “Fortune,” a new song they shared back in November . “Fear of Heights” is a bit more subdued than “Fortune” but soars on the strength of Wasner’s always sublime vocals.

Wasner had this to say about “Fear of Heights” in a press release: “This song’s central metaphor likens the deepening of a relationship to the feeling of ascending to the top of a very tall place. There’s something to be seen (or learned, or experienced) once you arrive, but for some there is also a fear that increases with every step upwards. You say it’s worth it for the view, but it’s impossible to know if that’s true until you get there to see it with your own eyes.”

For the first time since 2012, Wasner and Stack are now both living in the same city together, Durham, NC (home to their label Merge Records), which has allowed for renewed creativity and led to the band recording last summer. There’s no word yet on a new album.

Wye Oak released their last album, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, back in April 2018 via Merge.  Since their last album, Stack launched his solo project, Joyero, releasing his debut album as Joyero, Release the Dogs, in August 2019 via Merge. Wasner, meanwhile, has been touring as part of Bon Iver’s band. A previous press release promised that the JOIN tour dates will feature an expanded live band and will find them not just performing Wye Oak songs, but also ones by Joyero and Wasner’s Flock of Dimes solo project.

The single, “Fear of Heights,” is out now on Merge Records.

John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.


The Mountain Goats have digitally released their “Welcome to Passaic 7″ which has “Passaic 1975″ from this year’s In League With Dragons on the A-side and the awesomely-titled “Get High and Listen to The Cure” — an unreleased song from the sessions for 2017’s Goths — on the flip

The Mountain Goats new release “In League With Dragons”. Singer-songwriter, author, and podcaster John Darnielle started The Mountain Goats in the ‘90s with just an acoustic guitar and a boombox, but over the years he expanded the band’s sound and lineup, and now — backed by Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas — he’s supporting this new album which is a far cry from his earliest material.

In League With Dragons, a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired record featuring fantasy settings and characters. It’s also an album, according to a conversation on the I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats podcast, about getting older.


Released April 26th, 2019

The Band:
Jon Wurster – drums & percussion
Peter Hughes – bass
Matt Douglas – woodwinds, guitars, vocals
John Darnielle – guitars, vocals
Thom Gill – guitars
Johnny Spence – organ, Memorymoog, piano, Wurlitzer, synth
Bram Gielen – guitars, piano, synth
Owen Pallett – piano, organ, guitar

Dan Dugmore – pedal steel on “In League with Dragons”

Vocal arrangements on “Younger,” “In League with Dragons,” “Waylon Jennings Live!” and “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” by Robert Bailey, performed by Robert Bailey, Everett Drake, Jason Eskridge, and Michael Mishaw

Strings arranged by Owen Pallett,

Martha album cover

After sharing the excellent, “Heart Is Healing” back in the middle of the musical dead-space that is December, we kind of knew those loveable Durham scamps Martha were up to something exciting. This week the quartet have confirmed the April release of their third album, “Love Keeps Kicking”, as well as sharing the title track from it. The record will be their first on their new musical home, Big Scary Monsters.

Accompanied by a sci-fi alien invation pastiche video, a metaphor for the War Of The Roses or athlete foot depending on how you look at it, Love Keeps Kicking, is a tale of the universality of heartache, as Martha put it, “what better metaphor is there for the inevitability of a broken heart than the swift kick of a giant disembodied foot?” Musically, it continues the subtle evolution showcased on Heart Is Healing, the anthemic-punk they do so well, given a poppy, almost country twist courtesy of prominent bassy-pulse and occasionally fabulously bombastic guitar-soloing. Sure, heartbreak could be lurking round any corner, yet with Martha’s break-up album to guide you through,

Our third album, also entitled ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is released April 1st via Big Scary Monsters and Dirtnap Records (US).

‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is Martha’s new single, out 28th January 2019. Available everywhere digitally via Big Scary Monsters / Dirtnap Records.

John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life. The mountain goats are John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas.

They have been making music together as a quartet for several years. three of them live in North Carolina and one has moved back to Rochester. their songs often seek out dark lairs within which terrible monsters dwell, but their mission is to retrieve the treasure from the dark lair & persuade the terrible monsters inside to seek out the path of redemption. as Axl Rose once memorably asked, in the song “Terrible Monster”: “what’s so terrible about monsters, anyway?” this is the question the Mountain Goats have been doggedly pursuing since 1991. they will never leave off this quest until every option has been exhausted. thank you. vinyl cut at half-speed mastering. album recorded at Blackbird Studio in Nashville tn & produced by Owen Pallett.


Releases April 26th, 2019

Jon Wurster – drums & percussion
Peter Hughes – bass
Matt Douglas – woodwinds, guitars, vocals
John Darnielle – guitars, vocals
Thom Gill – guitars
Johnny Spence – organ, Memorymoog, piano, Wurlitzer, synth
Bram Gielen – guitars, piano, synth
Owen Pallett – piano, organ, guitar

Dan Dugmore – pedal steel on “In League with Dragons”

Vocal arrangements on “Younger,” “In League with Dragons,” “Waylon Jennings Live!” and “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” by Robert Bailey, performed by Robert Bailey, Everett Drake, Jason Eskridge, and Michael Mishaw

When Beat the Champ came out, a wrestler named Sasha Banks tweeted at me: “Where’s my song, @mountain_goats?” As a territories guy I had to learn her story. I said I’d finish the song by the end of the tour; it took a little longer than that.

Last night Sasha Banks wrestled for the Money in the Bank title, and while she didn’t take it home this time, I’ve learned enough about where she came from and how she got to where she is now to say with confidence: the sky is the limit for you. Your walk is just beginning and the day will come when all your setbacks look like steps on a ladder.

Jon Wurster and I recorded this song at Chris Stamey’s place last week — that’s Chris on bass; I last worked with Chris on the Moon Colony Bloodbath DP. Thanks to Chris for making this happen and to the Boss, Sasha Banks herself, for inspiring us all – to learn about you and to write this song was a real honor for me.

Dedicated of course to Sasha and to everybody who’s even had a hint of what it looks like when your dreams start pushing their elbows through the gauze into the real world of blood & sweat & bone.

The MGs always take care of their fans, they don’t have to do a ot of the things they do and they always do it with quality writing and craftsmanship.
Released June 18th, 2018
John Darnielle – Guitar, keys, vocals
Jon Wurster – Drums and Percussion
Chris Stamey – Bass

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Since 2016, Durham, England’s Pale Kids have carved out a place of their very own in the punk scene. While they may draw comparisons to Martha—the fact Pale Kids recorded an EP in Martha’s house cements it—but, across their assortment of splits and EPs, Pale Kids have built a space for their own voice. Since the beginning, the band’s been vocal champions of their queer identities, while wrapping their pop hooks in short, bombastic punk songs. With the release of Hesitater, a new three-song EP coming March 23rd on Father/Daughter Records, the band takes another step forward, writing the strongest melodies of their short career, while still crafting lyrics that pack a meaningful punch.

While Hesitater is the latest offering from Pale Kids, it also features one of the band’s earliest songs in “Gloom.” The track is about fighting against the despair that filters into one’s daily life, using a bouncing backbeat as a means of shaking off the doldrums. Closing out Hesitater is “Samson,” which examines a past relationship with a softer, tempered outlook. It begs the question, can you make something work if you forgive and forget, or is such a thing even possible? Taken as a whole, Hesitater proves that Pale Kids are finding their own space in their scene, and creating whip-smart punk at a time when it’s needed most.


John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends,hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.

Last month, my cover of “Riches and Wonders” with Jherek Bischoff was unleashed on the world via the podcast “I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats”. It’s receiving a lot of praise from Mountain Goats fans, which means a lot to me. Jherek and I churned out both the arrangement and recording in only a few days last summer, then recorded the podcast with John Darnielle and Joseph Fink a few days later. It’s been hard to keep the project a secret for all these months! Such a fun gig! And an honor. 

You can listen to the song Here I am going to be extremely “tacky” and suggest that if you like the song enough that you think you’ll listen to it more than once, Please download it – Jherek and I receive a portion of the royalties, and I personally am insanely broke finishing up my epic music video and covers album without the help of a day job . Buying the song also supports the podcast. We are all busting our asses to make things, and I can speak for all of us when I say we appreciate your support.

Meanwhile, my covers album is taking forever , Although it’s Very close to completion – two more songs need a bit more mixing, and one of those songs is giving us a lot of hell, as it’s a pile of just Eliza voices, I’m open to input. I’m all ears – no pun intended). As a result, I’ve decided to release a song or two from the project as singles prior to completion and release of the album as a whole. Because not getting content out into the world regularly is making me feel completely insane. So keep your eyes’ n’ ears peeled for the first single, a cover of Rufus Wainwright’s “The Art Teacher”, another epic collaboration with Jherek Bischoff


When you listen to Sylvan Esso singer and lyricist Amelia Meath talk about the band’s new album, “What Now”, you quickly learn how profoundly she’s motivated by love. There’s the love of magical sounds and the euphoria she feels when music “lifts you off the earth.” There’s the love for the audience, of connecting with and freeing them through song. And, especially for Meath, there’s the love of dance and of feeling the body (literally) become the music.

The release of What Now, we asked Meath to share some of the stories behind the new songs. She revealed a lot about what went into each track, but also reflected on the kinds of things that can keep her up at night, like whether being in a band matters when there’s more important work to do, how she’s sometimes sad when everything is awesome and how flagrant sexism in the music industry can ruin everything.

“Lyrically, this is mostly me talking to myself. Hilariously enough this song is on the radio now, but at the time I was feeling an immense amount of pressure to write new songs for What Now even though we were still mid-cycle on our first record. Most of the song is spent accusing myself of trying to become a successful musician when there are so many other important things to be doing other than sucking up to the man, trying to get America to think you are cool. Also — getting on mainstream radio is like trying to join a secret society, particularly if you are female. Stations have literally come back to us saying that they already have ‘a female vocal’ in their playlist.

5. Kick Jump Twist

“This is about jumping through hoops trying to get people to love you. Be it practicing your dance moves and sexy face in the mirror, or prepping your audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s a song about how we perform our lives — and also, about being in a band and touring forever.”

6. Song

“My favorite manifestation of heartache is wanting to be a piece of music. As in, actually being so filled with emotion and energy that you leave your human body and transcend into pure melody. For real. That is what this tune is about, as well as the reality of being in love versus what love songs and rom-coms tell us love is like — how sometimes a song can make you feel more in love than the real thing. Or at least it gives you a moment to completely feel it, without distraction.”

7. Just Dancing

“I wanted to talk about how Tinder has made it possible to only go on first dates forever. How all of the sudden it is completely possible to be in control of how potential romantic partners see you. How if you wanted to, you could be your own most ideal version of yourself. But you would have to keep on changing who you were dating to keep that beginning of a relationship feeling. How you could live in this false image of yourself, reflected through your partners’ eyes, never landing.”

8. Signal

“It’s about life mimicking technology and technology mimicking life. Searching for truth and honesty in a sea of noise. How, despite all the changes to the ways we go about it, we all still want the same thing any human has ever wanted: to be, connect with other humans and feel understood.

9. Slack Jaw

“Everything is awesome — and I am still sad.”

10. Rewind

“This is about me watching scenes from movies over and over again when I was a kid, learning turns of phrases and dance moves, and how to be a person. The chorus is about repeated viewings on VHS — how when you are rewinding something the picture dims and when you press ‘play,’ the room floods with light again. It is about building your personality from media, and then slowly dismantling it to become an honest human and an amalgamation of your influences from family, friends, movies, music and idols.”