Jeff Rosenstock is a household name in the New York area, particularly in Brooklyn. Touring in support of his new record, POST—, he sold out his Warsaw date so fast that another needed to be added. In his thirties, Jeff has fans both older and younger. Teens crowded the front row, pressing their bodies against the barricade to be as close as possible. Their eyes were on the band as they set up, smiles slowly creeping up their faces and eyes widening.
Before the band made their official entrance, the Foo Fighters’ “The Best of You” boomed over the speakers with only one line on repeat: “the best.” The entire audience chorused those words at the top of their lungs, fists pumping, invisibly puncturing the air.
Tearing into “USA,” POST—‘s first full track, the mayhem immediately began.
A Jeff Rosenstock show is like one collective headbang. The crowd sways and undulates back and forth like a wave with the force of fans crowdsurfing, jumping, pushing, and shoving. Beer dribbles down chins and over the mouths of metal cans in the midst of cheers while heads furiously nod to the beat, hair swinging like violent vines. Sweat beads across foreheads, bleeding down into soaked shirts. Rosenstock himself is a direct participant, a man of nonstop movement who spends more time in the air than he does with his feet planted on the ground.
The majority of the setlist consisted of both POST— and 2016’s WORRY. Every song was sung in unison, both band and crowd uniting in perfect harmony.
Towards the end, during “We Begged 2 Explode,” Rosenstock grabbed the mic and jumped into the pit, making his way down the front row where his youngest, most elated fans were located. He was not only singing to them, but with them. Their eyes sparkled while their grins shone in the light. They were hurriedly taking selfies and videos, excitedly waiting for Rosenstock to come to their particular spot.
At one point, Rosenstock suddenly disappeared. Everyone looked at each other in confusion. From the back of the crowd, there was a lot of noise and a brief clamor, causing the audience to turn around. Rosenstock had somehow gotten to the balcony in the very back of the venue by the front doors, saxophone in hand as he began to play. The crowd roared, and did so a few moments later, when Rosenstock jumped in and joined them, surfing on the weight of their hands.
Making his exit soon after, Rosenstock left the audience wanting more. That wasn’t a problem, however; many of them, as exhibited by a show of hands, were returning to see Rosenstock again the following night.
The Brooklyn based rock band Language, just released their latest EP Plymouth via Good Eye Records. The rock band consists of Omar Afzaal (guitar), Charles Sloan (bass) and Wes Black (drums). After self-released EP’s, Plymouth is the product of their signing with Good Eye Records. Plymouth has five tracks, including the title track “Plymouth.” The album encompasses all things rock and kicks off with the track “Where To.” With no vocals and only lasting at 1:21, “Where To,” holds up to its name. It really serves as an introduction to the band’s sound which include notes of bass, guitar, and a steady drums. “Game Piece” shows off the band’s vocal talents, far-reaching as they are. The band’s vocals remain gritty and angsty with true rock feel. “Fingers small, in a father’s hands,” Language sings on “Game Piece.” The song has a punk-rock feel and definitely is something to jam out to.
“Plymouth” remains creepy at first, with a distant sound of buildup to the drop of the beat. The song soon changes pace halfway with calming vocals– “Landed on a new rock, kinda like the old one.” I believe that the “rock” is in reference to Language’s new album, their signing with Good Eye Records, and coming full circle as a band and artists. Plymouth remains the band’s “new rock.”
Breaking out with his first ever full length album full of energizing anthems and inspiring lyrical loops, is Nashville native Taylor Cole (Chalaxy, Creature Comfort) and his music project Tayls. The self entitled album, Tayls is his greeting to a wider demographic of fans who he hopes to inspire with his commitment to insane fun and beautiful art. Although this indie project has gathered a great following since the very first single, this new release is surely going to push his popularity over the edge as he dives even deeper into the sound profile that he has created for himself. From a humble start to his current standing at the top of thousands of fan playlists, Tayls has created a movement composed of self-empowering music that is both easy to listen to and incredibly intricate.
The instrumental talent that is demonstrated captures the attention of listeners instantly. Coupled with the intense and pumped-up vocals that match the mood set by the music, Tayls can do no wrong as his lyrics pack a “powerful punch” of exciting empowerment to the individual. Known for overenthusiastic live performances, it is clear that Tayls was able to focus the same energy into the recording sessions. Although fans won’t be able to experience all of the lights, dance moves, drag queens and giant swan dives that have become essential elements of the live performance, the music on this album speaks for itself.
Layered with subtle scream vocals, there is no doubt that this album is going to pull in fans of The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes and everything in between. As this project continues to deepen its understanding of its unique sound, Tayls is sure to pick up fans throughout the world who are inspired by the out of the box lyrics and fast paced rhythms.
Tayls is available now. Keep up with the project here.
Deafman Glance is 28-year-old Ryley Walker‘s latest album, out May 18th via Dead Oceans. The album consists of nine tracks, each one a little different from the next. “22 Days,” the second track on the album is perhaps one of my favorite tracks. “22 Days” has a slow jazz instrumental intro for at least a two minutes, rendering the song tranquil, yet engaging. What sounds like a purely instrumental track at first, “22 Days” has help with Ryley’s vocals. “But I gave myself 22 days to come up with a master plan,” Walker sings. “And people can be so plain, with the power to re-arrange,” remains my favorite line. What seems like a tale of despair at first, the piece is soon picked up and flips gears to upbeat jazz, rock, and then slows back down again. “Can’t Ask Why” is yet another beautiful track on Deafman Glance. Like “22 Days,” the instrumental lasts for a while, except instead of jazz we hear wind chimes. In fact, the wind chimes are incorporated throughout the song. “I can’t sleep at night,” Ryley sings ironically, as if the chimes are the things will put him to sleep. “Telluride Speed” sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale with light sounds of a flute. Like a fairy tale Ryley sings “I threw a a rock at your window.” The track is sweet, innocent, and makes you feel at home.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Deafman Glance is the variety of sounds and instruments that Walker incorporates into each song. Inspired by the sounds of the city, Walker says:
And it’s more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears. Everybody here’s always hustling. Everybody who talks to you on the street’s always got something they’re coming at you with. It’s the sound of strangers dodging one another. And landlords knocking on doors to get rent that people don’t have. But it’s eerily quiet at night. This record is the sound of walking home late at night through Chicago in the middle of winter and being half-creeped out, scared someone’s going to punch you in the back of the head, and half in the most tranquil state you’ve been in all day, enjoying the quiet and this faint wind, and buses going by on all-night routes. That’s the sound to tune in to. That’s the sound of Chicago to me.
Deafman Glance is out now. Keep up with Ryley Walker here.
Chicago’s own Hidden Hospitals is excited to share the release of their new album Liars, which is officially out today. “Razor Blades” is the first track to kick off the album, and shows off Hidden Hospital’s pop-punk flare. “I want it all but everything won’t fit,” proclaims the band. The track remains angsty with lines like “rush to the razor blades” and “haunted crosses” highlighted among others. The title track “Liars” is very ethereal, more reminiscent of outer space. “Liars have lips who call out love,” the upbeat electronic pop track sings. “Liars” remains upbeat and funky, but with a sad lyrical message.
My personal favorite track is “Better Off”. On this post-apocalyptic track, Hidden Hospitals touches on the aftermath of a relationship and the toxic environment one can get caught up in. “I didn’t know what we had started, I couldn’t see the pieces then- pull us close found us toxic/how misleading it had been,” the band shares on a painful but truthful experience with listeners.
On the album, vocalist Dave Raymond says: “Sound is language, and our fluency and vocabulary 2018 is vast. Why not use it? I can make a guitar do anything, we can make a drum kit say or control anything, and that’s interesting to me. It’s the feeling of “kid in the garage with their amp turned all the way up.” I’m forever chasing that, and LIARS is the most recent expression of what got me there.”
Pop can sometimes feel like an afterthought in the rock and country-saturated musical landscape of Nashville, but Thursday night’s show at the East Room made it clear that Nashville’s pop scene is anything but marginal. POP MONSTER (a dual release party for local artists Whoa Dakota and Athena, hosted by Popsquad) showed that pop in Nashville is as varied and exciting as the people involved can imagine it to be. Four artists with unique takes on the different shapes pop can take proved what the Nashville pop scene is truly capable of: churning out emotionally nuanced and stylistically ambitious bangers.
Athena by Elisabeth Donaldson
Meaux opened the evening strong with her sensual electro-pop, a fusion of soulful and experimental sounds that provided an effortlessly changing landscape for her rich voice to traverse. Her powerful pipes and impressive dance moves energized the room as she stalked the stage in a split length red cape. Color-shifting gauzy lights set the tone in the room, a cozy dream cave that looked as if it had been styled by the collective efforts of Prince and the Little Prince. Between sets the alchemy in the room was maintained through a mixture of 90’s throwbacks and electro-pop, the dreamy vibes in the room conducted by the cotton candy stellariums (made by Athena) hovering moodily above the crowd.
Next was Soren Bryce, a Brooklyn local who’s no stranger to the Nashville music scene. Soren’s writing and performance seems to transform to keep up with the rapid pace of her own ever-expanding taste. It’s a testament to how talented Soren is that she can take a left turn away from the fantastic music on her last unreleased EP (largely synth-based) to the more guitar-centric rock we heard on Thursday—and accomplish it so effortlessly. Clearly there’s no genre of music that Soren can’t master, as demonstrated by her fantastic set: a grungy pop punk watercolor that borrowed from Kurt Cobain, Lorde, Joe Jackson, Elliot Smith and Fiona Apple without ever losing its own distinctive style. Soren’s varied influences find her a sound all her own, as well as a gravity at the mike that holds the center of any room she’s playing for. The thread that weaves through her stylistic choices is always her voice, melodic with an expansive range that she wielded precisely like a scalpel to cut through the colorful fog in the venue.
Athena played third in a powerhouse performance that you’d never know was her debut effort. She was right at home in front of an audience, prowling the stage in silver spandex like a modern day Xenon, an early 2000s fever dream kicking through pink fog clouds in Adidas stripes. Athena approached her performance with a fierce vulnerability, swinging from charm to rage to melancholy in a way that always felt authentic. She brought the crowd into her circle of trust and pulled them along for her journey—and despite (or because of) the emotional depth each song was catchier than the next, equal parts Paramore and Nelly Furtado, Athena bopping around the stage with her heart in her hands. If this was only her first show, I’d recommend showing up for Athena’s second show.
Soren Bryce by Rhea Foote
When Jesse Ott aka Whoa Dakota took the stage, she wasn’t afraid to own the space, immediately splaying herself out on the attached runway while the crowd encircled her. The show also served as a release party for the new single “Right Now” off of her upcoming album “Patterns,” but she saved that for the end of the show, satisfying the audience in the lead-up with her electrifying and adventurous performance. Her bold, anthemic sound imbued all of her songs with an epic energy, getting the crowd dancing and hollering along with her as she navigated the room in her floral bodysuit. It had the feel of a good block party—the raucous happiness, variety, community energy. Whoa Dakota delivered with their surprise guests, hauling Alanna Royalle and Jung Youth out of the crowd to sing and rap respectively alongside her, with Robert Gay joining on trumpet and Anthony Jorissen on sax. During “Patterns,” the hit for which a music video recently came out, it seemed like the whole room was bellowing all the words alongside her. The show’s joyful climax was a surprise birthday celebration for Ott’s 28th birthday, including a rendition of the birthday song led by friends from Pet Envy and Molly Rocket, and punctuated by an amazing display of cupcakes this reviewer found to be delicious.
Whoa Dakota’s ambitious, ecstatic performance was the perfect series of exclamation points on which to end the evening. Each performer showcased a different side of pop music and played to the infinite potential within Nashville’s nuanced pop scene. It was especially heartening to see a fantastic, well-executed show that just happened to be led both in front of and behind the scenes by female talent. Without billing itself as a girl power show, POP MONSTER reminded us that there’s a surplus of talented women with vision leaving their marks on the Nashville music scene—and with shows this collaborative and joyful, we should definitely be supporting that.