Posts Tagged ‘Get Better Records’

Lande Hekt

Lande Hekt wouldn’t call herself a role model. That would be weird. But she is someone whose words have become important to a good number of people. Across two albums and a slew of short-form releases with Muncie Girls, she has earned a rep as one of the most interesting, emotionally engaging writers in UK punk.

Her first solo full length, which follows up last year’s “Gigantic Disappointment” EP, relies on the trust found in that relationship between artist and listener. “Going to Hell” details Hekt’s experience of coming out as gay, and ranges from the all-consuming uncertainty of the opener “Whiskey” to golden hue of “Winter Coat”. All the while she attempts to foster a feeling of community for anyone who sees themself reflected back by the songs.

“That was in my head not just when I was writing, but when I was trying to push the theme on the record,” Hekt says. “I didn’t have anywhere near enough queer role models in bands that I listened to, and it had a negative impact in terms of my identity. Trying to put more queer music into the world is important to me, because you never know who might hear it. They don’t have to be young, it could be anyone who’s struggling with coming out or anything like that.”

She adds: “Things have begun to change in the past few years, which has also probably been important for me, to feel comfortable in talking about it in a scene that’s more welcoming. Ten years ago, it would have been a massive thing and would have alienated you as a band. Now, you can exist within multiple different scenes while also being gay, and not be singled out as ‘just a gay band’. I think it has changed, but I was definitely damaged by growing up in a heteronormative scene.”

“Whiskey” is an important moment. Its place at the top of the order isn’t an accident, and it lays the table both thematically and musically, finding Hekt stuck between stations in a personal sense while calling on the indie-rock-literate palette that she utilises throughout. “Is it meeting someone who’s not into bands? Is it weird that they still understand?” she sings during the chorus.

“I wanted to set the scene with that song because it is the truest one on there in terms of the theme of coming out as gay, and the one that grapples with the subject,” Hekt says. “With the last Muncie Girls album I put the song that scared me the most at the beginning. I think it’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re going to do something, commit to it. If I’d have been half-heartedly like, ‘This record’s kinda about coming out as gay but it’s kinda not…’ Then people would be like, ‘Okay…’ It makes more sense to put it at the top as something to be proud of.”

Going to Hell was recorded pre-lockdown in the Adelaide Hills with the Hard Aches’ Ben David following a tour of Australia. It is a solo record in every sense, with Hekt playing almost every note. “It’s Ben’s studio, so we weren’t restricted to times of the day and stuff like that,” she says. “We were able to get a little bit more down than maybe I would have recording in a commercial studio.

“We tracked a guide guitar and vocals and then I played drums along to that, tracked bass over it, then guitar, then vocals. It was pretty intense but also really rewarding because it’s 100 per cent creative control, and fucking around was really fun. It was a super immersive experience and I think we both just got a little bit creative with plugins and effects that we maybe wouldn’t normally have used.”

Chiefly, Hekt and David sought out a sound that felt honest. The record is a treasure trove of nods to her influences – from the Sundays’ gauzy guitar tones to the ringing jangle-pop riffs that light up “December” and “Stranded” – but it’s not artificial or forced. Gear-wise they wanted to maintain a level of unfussiness, generally pairing David’s road-worn Telecaster with a Twin Reverb, and tried to pull out atmospheric threads that had already been woven into the songs.

“We kept it super simple,” Hekt says. “One combo at a time, not going through three amps at the same time. We wanted a true sound for the guitars, with those obvious effects on top. It wasn’t a gear heavy record. We weren’t spending ages working through different heads.” She adds: “When I demo I tend to use a lot of reverb and delay. We did have a conscious decision of using a lot of slapback on the vocals, and we didn’t want any dry guitars on there.”

The Jenga-tower layering of Going to Hell is similarly drawn from Hekt’s increasing interest in intersecting guitar parts. Nominally the bassist in Muncie Girls, she has in recent years begun to play second guitar live to bring out that element of their sound. Here, those melodic feints and counter-punches are pushed front and centre as her vocals cut through the hustle and bustle.

“With Muncie Girls I write the songs on an acoustic and demo a second guitar in,” she says. “We then develop them into the parts they’ll become. I want to eventually play these songs with a full band, having two guitarists. I do like layering. As Muncie Girls have gone along we’ve written more prominent second guitar parts, so that’s in my mind as a typical four piece rock band setup where you can play around with differing melodies. It becomes more of a textural thing, and that’s probably built into me now through Muncie Girls.

Going to Hell achieves its goals because of Hekt’s honesty and her way with a crunchy indie-punk hook. It just works, and in that balance it has the capacity to reach those who might need to hear it. “It does help to have people making music that’s relatable,” she observes.

Lande Hekt’s “Going to Hell” is out on 22nd January through Get Better Records.

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Probably best known as a member of Muncie Girls, Lande Hekt first caught our ear with last year’s EP, “Gigantic Disappointment”. That release was recorded in the Adelaide Hills, and when returning to Australia to tour earlier this year, Lande went back to the studio, and working with producer, Ben David, put down the tracks that make up her debut solo album, Going To Hell. The record will be released in January next year, and this week Lande has shared the first taste of it, in the shape of new single, “Whiskey”.

The first song that Lande has shared as an openly gay person, like much of Going To Hell, Whiskey focuses in on the experience of coming out. As Lande explains, Whiskey is, “about learning how to come to terms with being gay or, more accurately, realising that pretending you’re not gay can’t go on forever“. While there’s inevitable difficulties in coming out, here Lande seems to focus on the huge positives, think about, “how there were so many things that didn’t feel right“, and the realisation of the relief of living your own truth. Musically, Lande seems to borrow from a vast array of influences from the driving guitars that are pure Sharon Van Etten to the easy vocal style and the shimmering outro The Twilight Sad would be proud of.

The track concludes with Lande’s repeated pronouncement, “is it the feeling of not having to pretend?”, arriving like a striking realisation that happiness lies in understanding the freedom being yourself can bring.

Ahead of the release of her debut solo album Going To Hell, Muncie Girls’ Lande Hekt unveiled her knockout single Undone. The incredible harmonies, crashing drum cymbals and fiery riffs go hand in hand with the relatable, regret-fuelled lyrics. Describing the track, Lande says: ‘This one is about feeling sorry for yourself when you break up with someone that you weren’t even going out with.’

We’ve all been there.

Going To Hell is out January 22nd via Get Better Records.

Lande Hekt, who you might recognize as a member of U.K. group Muncie Girls, strikes out on her own with a contemplative and personal song about her experience of coming out. “Whiskey” tips its cap in the direction of The Replacements but remains unique to Hekt as she takes control of her life and drops the pretence of being anything other than herself. She’ll dive deeper into her journey on debut album Going To Hell, due in January 2021.

Lande Hekt’s voice in music is one that’s socially aware yet often introspective, drawing awareness to serious issues but at the same time baring her soul. Much of Hekt’s compositions act as a personal diary of what’s going on in her life at any given time. This is evident in her discography with Muncie Girls, the band which she formed in her hometown of Exeter as a teenager and have released two critically acclaimed albums to date. This knack of combining her own experiences and feelings whilst highlighting larger socio-economic issues has carried through to her more contemplative solo material, which began life in an EP ‘Gigantic Disappointment’, self-released in 2019.

“Whiskey” is the lead single off Lande Hekt’s debut album, “Going to Hell” out January 22nd, 2021 via Get Better Records

The new solo project of Joseph D’Agostino, formerly of Cymbals Eat Guitars (which broke up in 2017). His self-titled album as Empty Country is due out April 24th via Get Better and this week he shared another song from it, epic six-minute album closer “Swim.”

D’Agostino had this to say about the song in a press release: “SWIM = Someone Who Isn’t Me. It’s a character sketch, as many of the songs on Empty Country are. The narrator is a composite of several people I met or observed while living in Kensington, a neighborhood in Philadelphia gravely affected by the ongoing opioid emergency in the United States. One day my wife Rachel pointed out in passing that some of our neighbors had old faces. She didn’t mean ‘old’ in the sense that they were aging prematurely (though some certainly were), but that they had the faces of Dustbowl-era farmers we had seen in books and films. I began imagining a young man suffering from temporal dysphoria (feeling that one was born into the wrong era and strongly identifying with a bygone time), drinking and otherwise numbing himself to tamp down overwhelming anemoia and sadness. Robbing condos freshly erected in adjoining neighborhoods. Doing harm. Blacking out, driving drunk, hurting those he should love, but simply cannot. Dreaming of leaving forever the bricky mazes of row homes that open into wide empty avenues.”

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Released by: Get Better Records

Empty Country was originally due out last week on Tiny Engines, but when that label came under scrutiny due to late royalty payments to Adult Mom and other artists, D’Agostino decided to find a new label and delay the release to April.

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The modern post-punk landscape was in danger of becoming a reductive cliche of itself as it softened its spikes, but Philly trio Control Top are razor-sharp and full of fire in their delivery with their debut full-length Covert Contracts. It’s an extreme case of the personal, political and technologically terrifying converging at the forefront of the conversation as well as attacking your senses, with lead singer and bassist Ali Carter acting as the live wire mouthpiece with a maximalist current from drummer Alex Lichtenauer and guitarist Al Creedon downloading a surge of dark truths from their secret server. In the age of information overload, Control Top are here to tear down capitalist walls and the algorithms set up to pocket millions off of it one piece of the hate machine at a time. When it’s over, Covert Contracts has hopefully hacked a staying power in your brain as well.

If Siouxsie Sioux decided to join the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to make frayed-edge dance-punk, it would probably sound like Control Top. Ali Carter’s voice maintains the ethereal and haunting style of her predecessors, but with a channeling a contemporary aggressive force when she commands: “Quit your job today!” Diligently releasing new music for the past three years has paid off with their 2019 breakthrough tantrum Covert Contractsand they summarized early 2020 by releasing the one-off single “One Good Day,” as in wishing for one. In light of the recent national protests, they’ve spread awareness about Black issues and raised proceeds for the Philly Community Bail Fund and the Black and Pink Bail Fund. But it’s their feral tunes that make them Philly’s best contemporary punk band, so the Dead Milkmen better watch their backs.

“Betrayed,” from Covert Contracts, sums up everything you want to scream at the top of your lungs in 2020: “Betrayed by the nation, betrayed by the fight / Betrayed by the cronies on the left and the right.

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Empath’s stellar noise pop is a shimmering genre collage, cut with zig-zag scissors and pasted with a super-sized tube of glitter glue. The Philadelphian quartet’s forward thinking tunes continue to sound refreshing as ever on “Active Listening: Night on Earth”, dilating the infectious atmosphere of last year’s Liberating Guilt and Fear. Key cuts like the jolting opener “Soft Shape” and hands-down highlight “Roses that Cry” stitch synth bass and distorted samples, crooning vocals and inescapable melodies. It’s a slapdash scramble to “Rodeo Fever,” the stunning dream pop closer for Empath’s very solid debut release.

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Catherine Elicson : vocals and guitar
Emily Shanahan : Keys
Randall Coon : Keys
Garrett Koloski : DrumsReleased May 3rd, 2019 Get Better Records,