Posts Tagged ‘Queens’

Jesse Malin had a shit year in 2018. His father, former guitarist, and producer all died. So his new album Sunset Kids, his first in four years, could have been a major bummer. Instead, it’s a celebration of survival that finds the New York City hardcore troubadour reflecting on life’s precious and fleeting moments.

“Shining Down” is inspired by Tom Petty’s final performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017, which Malin witnessed firsthand. “I act like nothing hurts/The bar becomes a church/A limousine or hearse and you don’t look back,” he sings over jangly Heartbreakers guitars and a euphoric chorus. In “Strangers and Thieves,” he teams up with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to memorialize their punk glory days, delivering a blast of power pop that floats along on a curlicue guitar lick. And in “Shane,” Malin salutes the longevity of the hard-drinking Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, blending his nasally whine with that of Americana chanteuse Lucinda Williams.

It’s the presence of Williams, who co-produced the LP with her husband Tom Overby, that ties Sunset Kids together. A master lyricist, she helps Malin refine and focus his own words, especially on the introspective “Room 13” and on their duet “Dead On,” a slashing blues-rocker that evokes Williams’ own kiss-off “Changed the Locks.” The seemingly odd-couple pair — he’s from Queens, she was raised in Arkansas — slap their way through the verses. “You talk like an angel/You spit on the floor,” Williams growls, before Malin answers, “but you look just like the girl next door.”

There’s some repetition on the album, three of the 14 tracks, including “Revelations,” have appeared in various forms on past solo projects, but only fans who’ve followed Malin’s career closely will notice.

“Meet Me at the End of the World Again,” released as a one-off single in 2017, benefits from the redo. Elevated by Catherine Popper’s funky Lower East Side bass groove, it’s a soundtrack to the apocalypse, a command to reconnect before it’s too late, and makes you believe that the P.M.A. (positive mental attitude) that Malin has been preaching for decades just might be enough to save us.

Growing up in Queens, Jesse Malin was all of 10 when he made his first public appearance with a band, performing Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite” at his public school—“I spit ketchup for blood,” he remembers with a laugh. He was a member of the Kiss Army in his teens but eventually graduated to punk, forming a band called Heart Attack—all of whose members were under 16—only to be told that punk had already peaked. “We went to an audition night at CBGB and they told us that we missed it all. Bad Brains had broken up, The Ramones were going power-pop, Blondie [was going] disco. They said, ‘Try something new like rockabilly or New Romantics.’ I said, ‘I’m not dressing up like a pirate.’”

He soon discovered that the genre wasn’t dead. It had simply sped up, grown more outspoken and morphed into hardcore, with bands like the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks taking the music to the next level. Heart Attack stayed together for four years, after which Malin founded the band Hope, which carried on until 1989.

But it wasn’t until he joined D Generation that Malin truly became a force to be reckoned with. The band not only opened shows for Kiss but also those other Queens natives, The Ramones (Joey Ramone became a close friend). They released three full length albums, an EP and numerous singles during their initial eight-year run. It was while making their self-titled debut in 1994 that Malin first connected with Bianco, who produced and engineered it. (The second album, No Lunch, was produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, and the third, Through the Darkness, was produced by David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti.)

“We wanted to make D Generation into a band that we felt we missed; we felt music had become really safe and funky, with people dressed up like they were farmers from Seattle with no style. We wanted to be in a band that was like a gang,” Malin says. The band was respected but never did cut through commercially. “The people that liked us loved us, but we became more of a cult thing and an artist thing. We had a few bad breaks, but also internally it was so intense. It could be like a five-headed love affair or a five-headed war.”

Malin eventually started growing creatively restless. And punk was also moving in a direction he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. “People thought punk was about swastikas and fascism until the Dead Kennedys said, ‘Nazi punks fuck off.’ Sometimes people misunderstand things,” he says.

After the demise of D Generation, Malin cut an album with a band called Bellvue, To Be Somebody, before making the difficult decision to go the solo troubadour route. “It was kind of nervewracking to call it Jesse Malin,” he says. “I was used to hiding behind four other people and writing for four or five other people. But I think there’s a real connection between punk-rock and folk, from Woody Guthrie to The Clash to Bob Dylan to Crass or the Dead Kennedys. It’s about a message and a couple of chords and an attitude. A lot of my friends that heard me do louder stuff would be kind of surprised when I first did more acoustic-based music. I had people going, ‘What the hell?’ But my real friends knew that I had liked Jim Croce and Elton John since I was eight, and Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen since I was 15. I like songs, whatever they are—the craft.”

His highly regarded solo debut, 2002’s The Fine Art of Self Destruction, was produced by D Generation fan Ryan Adams, whom he’d met in 1996. “It was a very personal first record,” Malin says. He followed it with The Heat (2004) and thenGlitter in the Gutter, which featured a guest vocal by none other than Bruce Springsteen, who took note of Malin’s debut.

“I got into Bruce Springsteen late,” he says. “In the ‘80s, I got into Nebraska, and I was like, ‘This guy’s a millionaire and he’s speaking the truth. It’s real and it’s dark and it’s about people on the street, and it’s believable and it’s haunting and it’s so good. And it’s just him alone.’” Springsteen invited Malin to do some holiday shows with him and agreed to lend backing vocals to Malin’s track “Broken Radio.

From there, Malin’s next move was an all-covers set, On Your Sleeve, featuring favourite tunes by classic rockers like Lou Reed, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Paul Simon, and a live album, Mercury Retrograde. His next full studio album, Love It to Life, arrived in 2010; that same year, he and the members of Green Day killed time with a short-lived band they called Rodeo Queens, releasing one song, “Depression Times.” His five-year break between solo albums was alleviated when a reunited D Generation released their first new album in 17 years. That band also embarked on a well-received tour with stops in London and the U.S., among them a couple of shows opening for Guns N’ Roses. One observer of the tour was Lucinda Williams, who had never seen D Generation during their heyday.

“It was a whole different side of Jesse,” Williams says, “and he was amazing. He had his shirt off, like Iggy Pop, and his microphone cord was long enough that he was able to go all the way to the bar from the stage and drink a shot of tequila and still make it back to the stage. He was great.”

Now 51, Jesse Malin still lives in Manhattan’s East Village. “I tried living in Los Angeles but, if you walk in LA, they think you’re a male prostitute,” he says. These days, he can often be found, wearing his trademark suspenders and newsboy cap, at one of the bars or clubs he owns a stake in. “We try to keep a little bit of old New York, New York going somehow,” he says about the establishments, which include popular destinations like Bowery Electric, Lola, Niagara and Cabin Down Below. “Going back to Queens and Brooklyn and places that I tried desperately to get out of, it’s strange to me that there’s now art galleries and gluten-free donuts. But I like that stuff, too. I just love making music and talking about music, then having a few drinks and talking even more.”

As Sunset Kids (titled after a children’s shop in LA—he liked the name, which nodded to his recent losses and nocturnal nature) began making its way out to fans, Malin was looking beyond his own neighbourhood, though. “We’re going to do a lot of touring behind this record,” he says. “It’s a privilege to play live after you’ve worked on a record; it’s an exorcism for me to get up there each night over some dirty microphone and spit out whatever it is. So I’ll be doing a bunch of touring around the world—Europe and Japan and the States—and then another record. I want to do something pretty quiet next time and really keep it intimate. And then I want to do a very physical record— something that can be played live. I want to make something that I can move my body to and that’s just completely fun and rhythmic but still aggressive. That’s what I’m thinking now. In between, as Warren Zevon said, I just want to enjoy every sandwich.”

For Ian Bernacett and Rose Vastola, the masterminds behind UV-TV, 2018 was spent writing and recording the 9-track LP while simultaneously uprooting from Gainesville and migrating north to New York City, where the album was finally mixed and mastered.

HAPPY unabashedly explores the tropes of letting go of the past with a amicable catharsis that proves they can evolve their sound without losing their edge. Despite the name, the overall tone of the record comes across as a moodier interpretation of their almost jovial punk attitude—with the title track exemplifying that HAPPY is a much more personal and thoughtful album from the band. Right out of the gate, the production is cleaner and more buttoned up, perhaps signifying that this record is more serious in nature.

While Ryan Hopewell’s charged drumming kicks off the first track, “Hide”, giving us the UV-TV energy we’re familiar with from previous records, stylistic nuances quickly prove that the band has been drawing on some deeper influences, including The Pastels, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Slowdive among others.

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As the arc of the album brings us to a more vulnerable place like on the track, World, it becomes obvious there’s a new kind of sincerity in their choices compared to the last two releases. By the final track, Falling Down, the entirety of the album has conceptualized the personal and musical growth of UVTV since we last heard them in 2017.

Gainesville-formed, Now Queens-based band UV-TV play classic indie-pop with a punk motor. Their 2019 LP, “Happy”, features Rose Vastola’s sweet and snarled lead vocals—offering tuneful pop pleasure in contrast with their pummeling rhythm section. There are hints of ’90s shoegaze, ’80s dream pop and modern punk, but none of these labels fully characterize their driving euphoria or moody punk-pop appeal.

The Band:

Rose Vastola – Bass, Vocals
Ian Bernacett – Guitar, Vocals
Ryan Hopewell – Drums

UV-TV “HIDE” Official Music Video from the LP “HAPPY” released on Deranged Records July 2019.

Queens, New York outfit Wives have shared powerful new single ‘Waving Past Nirvana’.

The band’s debased, electronic-leanings recall post-punk and cold wave, while emphatically occupying a space of their own. With perhaps more in common with The Residents than, say, Joy Division, their bold sound is pinned down by lyrics that veer from absurdist humour to dense philosophical wisdom.

Snapped up by City Slang Records, Wives released the two-part seven inch single in May. ‘Waving Past Nirvana’ is all slo-mo synths, a chugging rhythm, and a leering vocal that actually references Buddhist philosophy.

Frontman Jay Beach offers: “‘Waving Past Nirvana’ is a literal interpretation of the bodhisattva—one who has achieved the release, the awakened eye, and yet wants to trade it back for the painful life of desire because she/he/they predominantly feels compassion. This ‘entering back into the world’ to fight a fool’s battle is the essence of ‘Waving Past Nirvana’, and the video depicts one young woman’s journey along these lines.”

The video was directed by Milah Libin (Beach Fossils, Princess Nokia), who adds: “When I listened to ‘Waving Past Nirvana’ it evoked the beauty and the mundane in a never-ending routine. The closeness to finding some sort of fulfilment, or ‘nirvana’, that keeps bringing one back. It happens to all types of people, but particularly in New York where the beat is so fast and so many come here searching. It’s not quite sad; there’s something admirable in that search – a sort of dedication.”

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Wives debut LP, “So Removed”, opens with the timely and befitting lyrics: “Happy ever after / this place is a disaster.” According to Jay Beach, the vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter of the four-piece Wives, this is the track that best embodies their sound. It’s Drone-y, crammed with clever observations, and still catchy enough to make you forget the world is ending despite being told straight to your face. “Waving Past Nirvana” embraces my favorite sentence in the band’s bio, which describes the sentiment of their debut as “tethered to daily anxiety without resorting to cynicism.”

Wives’ creation story plays out much like their sound: a confident teetering and self-assured stumbling that somehow leads you to the exact right place. Beach, guitarist Andrew Bailey, drummer Adam Sachs, and bassist Alex Crawford were all embedded in New York’s DIY music scene working on their own music projects when the unraveling of a previous project and an uncanceled studio session lured them into the studio. Beach puts it succinctly, sharing, “It was a lot of fun and when we heard the tapes we were like, ‘Wow, that’s really good.’ So, we just became Wives.” The album was created over a two-year span of time with the friends taking advantage of stolen moments in the studio, never taking it too seriously and just following what felt and sounded right.

“When the four of us came together, it was definitely a unique sound none of us had hit on before in our other musical lives. I think everyone brings something quite unique to the table. I write songs that are, I guess, more traditional. Our bass player is a huge My Bloody Valentine fan, and his vibe is really shoegaze-ey, our guitar player is more modern. Our drummer Andrew is super into death metal and hip-hop. I know the sound of WIives makes a lot of sense because I know where everyone is coming from, but everyone is coming from separate places,” Beach explains.

The band got their start in Queens, New York City’s largest borough, and the nation’s most diverse large county. Much like Wives, it’s full of people coming from different places, but it plays out harmoniously.

“We have mad Queens love, and I think Queens is the best borough in New York by far,” Beach shares when asked about the backdrop of their start. “People are a little more chill in Queens; it’s a little more of a family vibe, and there are still many ethnic communities that are intact. There’s [a] flourishing Polish community and Eastern European community, little Bangladesh, little Nepal,” Beach says. “It’s like a good social experiment. Like let’s take the most diverse amount of people you can and, like, throw them into a place, and it mostly works out, you know?”

That organic coming together can be heard in tracks like “Even The Dead.” It’s anything but over-practiced or contrived; it’s exactly what you would hear live. “There are no overdubs, no nothing,” Beach shares when asked about the track. “We just started playing this one riff and went for it for those five minutes and recorded it on tape. That’s it. That’s the final track. Obviously that kind of lightning in a bottle doesn’t happen all the time. That’s rare. But when we have a piece, like, we really believe in, we just keep it. We don’t fuck with it. It might not be perfect. It might not be a No. 1 single but it has something, a spontaneity, that’s really hard to find.”

One of the albums poppier moments comes by way of “The 20 Teens.” Beach shares that while listening to A Flock of Seagulls playing at a Bushwick restaurant, he had the thought that all the lyrics might as well have been “This is the ’80s, this is the ’80s,” since the track seemed to embody the decade so well. He decided to square up to that track, and create his own version for the 2010s, full of references to people reading paper magazines and donning dungarees. The track starts with a sharp and inquisitive “some records are so twisted that they actually happened,” a line Beach found in an old journal he’d been writing in while listening to old 45s.

“You could say it’s positively ironic; I think in our songs there’s a strain of sweetness and nostalgia,” Beach says, and laughs, when I share that the songs seem like perfect listening for both pre-party and post-breakup. “Even though there’s also this stance of New York cynicism, it’s in there too,” he adds.

There’s something in the way Beach sings that makes your ears perk up. Like Lou Reed from a pulpit, it feels biblical. You can’t help but attempt to decipher messages hidden in the lyrics, something that could save us from our present-day chaos, or at least make us more comfortable with it. The album has moments of respite, but it magnetizes you back toward careful chaos. See, you can dance through a track like “Hideaway” and move to forget, but then the closing track, “The Future is A Drag” reminds you of the state of things again. Much like the bustling Queens borough, there’s a calm, but not without a commotion.

“When I’m listening to music, it’s more about just being here and now in this time and place and listening to these sounds. Sometimes it’s an old blues record, sometimes it’s a T-Rex record, sometimes it’s Vince Staples — whatever it is. There’s something that just gets captured sometimes that I call ‘the slow within the fast.’ To me, it’s the most amazing thing I can think of experiencing. It’s this marriage between rhythm and, I guess, melody and, not to sound lame, but there’s a shifting thing that happens on really good records like My Bloody Valentine or something like that, where there’s something shifting underneath your feet. The ground is shifting. It could be a fast song — hip-hop does it really well — or it can be a really shoegaze-y thing that’s slower. But, that’s kind of what we’re going for. We want to move people in the way we know is possible to be moved because we’re just lovers of music.”

Debut album ‘So Removed’ – Out now on City Slang

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The debut album of Wives! The Queens, NY four-piece is the latest fit into a long lineage of New York’s gritty, melodic-meets-punk.

Wives as a band came together by happenstance — a random realization amidst friends busy with other musical projects. Jay met Adam Sachs, Wives’ drummer, while interning at a New York recording studio where Adam worked as an assistant. The two became fast friends, their constant hanging out growing to include guitarist Andrew Bailey (DIIV) and bassist Gabe Wax, who’d eventually be replaced by another friend, Alex Crawford. All were embedded in New York’s DIY music scene through their respective projects, with years of playing house shows and booking their own tours under their belts. It wasn’t until a random day of extra studio time booked for another project that the four of them actually played together.

So Removed is grungy dark-wave, tethered to daily anxiety without resorting to cynicism. The noisy dissonance of Sonic Youth, the edgy hooks of early Pixies, and the clever, cerebral sneering of The Fall simmer as touchstones within the album, sharp and prodding at the details, pulsing with urgency. So Removed plunges into the void of unknown, a tangle of contemporary dread and optimism, mapping the gray areas of alienation.

Our new track ‘Hit Me Up’ is out now! check out our videos and newly announced tour dates!

‘Hit Me Up’ was written form the point of view of a New Yorker who can’t let go. His everyday reality does not jibe with what is going on in his head, and he’s holding onto a past that never existed in the first place.

Some are in search of modernity and clear virgin territories, others are content to follow the pack; others still decide to take the history of rock where the Pixies have left, a little as if you returned to the scene of your first gallon thirty after and nothing had moved. The kids of Wives, a quartet made in New York City poised to become the new darling of Queens, are part of this glorious category. Just one month after unveiling their first single, Waving Past Nirvana , their debut album is due out anytime soon.

With “The 20 Teens,” Queens, NY-based quartet Wives take a stab at writing a timely ode to the present. In an interview with frontman Jay Beach admits, “I heard a song by A Flock of Seagulls. My friend turned to me and said “why don’t they just call this song ‘the 19 eighties’, cuz when I listen to it that’s all I can think of.” I laughed and said I would write a song called ‘The 20 Teens’.”

“The 20 Teens” marks the band’s third single this year, a taste of their debut full-length So Removed which will be October 4th via City Slang Records.

Wives may have been the grittiest group encountered at NON-COMM this year, but “Workin'” shows off a different side to this Queens-based, grunge four-piece. With their rumbling guitars and singer-guitarist Jay Beach’s languid vocals, Wives weaves together a thick, bassy carpet of sound in this cut. A good old guitar chugging in a strident back and forth, a rhythmic part backwards I’m Waiting for My Man , schizophrenic words chanted in a nonchalant morgue, Workin is a little hymn that should make you stamp impatience until you know more (we’ll tell you soon) about the bright future of this bunch of dirty kids too good to be true.

They tell us: “‘Workin” was a poem written while having a nervous breakdown in a 3rd floor walk up in Brooklyn, NY. My inward turmoil became the outward predicament of all of us workin’ stiffs. The ground actually did turn over and the floorboards were shifted. It must have been a manifestation of something going on inside my brain, and all the visions were coming at me in stop motion waves. The band played this track in one take and it was so good that we had to keep it and adjust the vocals slightly to fit the contours, which is how the chorus came about. The chorus being more or less the macro view of what was going in inside of my micro consciousness. From the personal out into the universal, but only because of that great guitar line!”

The track is the sound of four men in a room, doing exactly what the song title suggests: ‘Workin”. The track grinds and grooves along in waves of squalling guitar and unwearying percussion, dragging your tired mind through the rest of your work day and out into the sunshine of freedom. Even when surrounded by chaos and stress, as described in the above quote, they haul themselves through it, finding musical and emotional strength in one another and reproducing it as the alt-rock juggernaut that is ‘Workin”.

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Debut album ‘So Removed’ – 4th October 2019 on City Slang

Back in 2017, the Gainesville-bred group UV-TV put out a killer full-length album, “Glass”, and and an equally exciting EP, Go Away. Today, they’re back with news of a new album, which is called “Happy”, and a change of scenery, with the group

If one’s been keeping up with the melodic punk music of UV-TV, then their new album Happy will feel like a natural evolution to the stripped-down, sped-up gazey, twee sound of past releases, Go Away and Glass (2017). For Ian Bernacett and Rose Vastola, the masterminds behind the band, 2018 was spent writing and recording the 9-track LP while simultaneously uprooting from Gainesville and migrating north to NYC, where the album was finally mixed and mastered.

The album explores the tropes of letting go of the past, with an amicable catharsis. Despite the album name, the overall tone of the record comes across as a moodier interpretation of their almost jovial punk attitude—with the title track exemplifying that this is a much more personal and thoughtful album. Right out of the gate, the production is cleaner and more buttoned up, perhaps signifying that this record is more serious in nature. While Ryan Hopewell’s charged drumming kicks off the first track, giving us the familiar UV-TV energy, stylistic nuances quickly prove that the band has been drawing on some deeper influences, including The Pastels, Echo And The Bunnymen, and Slowdive, amongst others. As the arc of the album goes to a more vulnerable place, it becomes obvious there’s a new kind of sincerity in their choices compared to the last two releases. By the final track, the entirety of the album has conceptualized the personal and musical growth of the band since last heard in 2017. UV-TV was born in 2015, in the chaos of Gainesville’s thriving DIY scene. With Ian Bernacett’s driving riffs and Rose Vastola’s rock-steady vocals, the two have a knack for writing solid, energetic songs with a sweetness that sticks in the head. As the band continues to push the genre boundaries across their discography, their roots are still deeply embedded in the prolific punk movement they’ve grown from.

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First single off the new record “Happy” out July 19th on Deranged Records

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We are super excited to announce a brand new band to the world and the City Slang roster! They’re called WIVES, they’re from Queens, NYC and they’re undoubtedly going to be your new favourite band. ⁣ ⁣ First single ‘Waving Past Nirvana’ is available on 7″ vinyl will drop on May 24th.

The quartet are the latest fit in a long lineage of New York’s gritty, melodic-tinged punk-hook-driven, grungy dark-wave that’s tethered to daily anxiety without resorting to cynicism. Both the noisy dissonance of Sonic Youth and the clever, cerebral sneering of The Fall simmer as touchstones within the band’s music.⁣ ⁣

New single ‘Waving Past Nirvana’ is OUT NOW

Tica Douglas is an artist that is able to pull the beauty from our desperations, weaving them into narratives that feel reassuring and real. Douglas gives us something to hold on to; acknowledging the ambiguity of the world with thoughtful prose and an unhurried, delicate structure that allows their ruminations to sink into our own perceptions of the world. Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help and Protect Us is a collection of lyrically-driven, sincere songs of comfort.

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all songs written by Tica Douglas 
vox/guitar/harmonium/farfisa/piano: tica douglas
synth bass: ryan dieringer
drums: alex tkill 
percussion (and drums on ‘familiar): lee falco 
guitar: kyle morgan

Queens, NY-based trio Raccoon Fighter has shared a second single, Adderall, marking the release of their new EP “Hover Craft”.

A blend of polished punk, psychedelia and lo-fi, fuzzy, garage bliss, it is a follow up to the excellent LVLR .

Queens NYC based Raccoon Fighter shoot laser beams out of their eyes, smoke fuzz boxes and swim in the sky with Alex Chilton. Back stroking with him in time to gritty 1970’s east village NYC, where they shoot pool/sniff glue with the New York Dolls and Television at CBGB’s. Their latest release Spiral Flag in the words of Alibi “comes off like a brawl between The Beatles White Album and T Rex’ The Slider” all the while putting their own modern twist on things, creating “a sound that’s both timeless and feels particularly of-the-moment” frequently compared to bands like the Growlers, Ty Segall, Tame Impala and Black Lips.

Since forming in 2009 they’ve shared the stage with Ex Cops, Joywave, Das Racist, Sunflower Bean, Spirit Family Reunion, Ski Beatz and The London Souls. The end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 brought the band good fortune as they landed a few TV placements, including two songs on the Showtime series Shameless, beginning with the season premiere and multiple MTV spots. Their upcoming EP ‘Hover Craft’ is due out on Papercup Music summer 2016.

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‘Hover Craft’ out August 26th on PaperCup Music

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Welcome to Treehouse Sessions: twice a month, we present exclusive live performances recorded directly to analog at Chicago’s Treehouse Studios.
Today’s episode brings you an exclusive two-song performance from the indie-folk band Weyes Blood, led by singer/songwriter Natalie Mering. They play “Summer” (also called “Summer’s Gone”) from the band’s newest album, “The Innocents”, and a brand new song called “Just Give”. Mering also sits down for an interview and discusses her time as an herbalist’s apprentice in New Mexico, living in Baltimore, and why Queens, NY should be the new Brooklyn.