grlztoy’s “green!” EP shows the versatility of an uber-talented new indie band

grlztoy’s “green!” EP shows the versatility of an uber-talented new indie band

Another band I’ve seen pop up in my socials a bunch is the band grlztoy of the DMV area, made up of Theo Zamani (lead vocals, guitar) and Molly Izer (drums). Their EP green!, released last June, is an assured and confident debut I think is worth listening to for anyone into indie pop/rock.

For a release that’s only 12 minutes long, grlztoy easily establishes themselves with just six tracks. The opener, the title song, is only a minute long but still establishes a calming, slightly psychedelic mood through the guitars and slightly echoed drums. It’s ultimately just an intro to the EP, but it still feels complete. Each song carries the same vibe established in the intro title track, creating a hazy, colorful, summer night atmosphere. 

The next three songs, “spring (untied shoes)”, “say when”, and “wavelength” are all a showcase to both members’ talents. Throughout the album, Theo’s singing is wonderful, clearly inspired by both a lot of 90s and 2010s indie singers, but she still almost equals those obvious influences in her abilities. Her voice is sweet and soft, but is still expressive when it needs to be. She carries a song like “say when” by sounding sweet and romantic in a way that’s earnest and never anything but genuine. Molly’s drumming is also consistently great, giving each song a fun, up-tempo groove. Her style varies neatly from cozy indie rock (“teenage dirtbag”), sort of bluesy (“keychain piano”), to garage power pop (the totally killer “wavelength”). 

Admittedly, the band is still very new and occasionally some songs could use more substance (ex. “keychain piano” being clearly a mess-about band jam but still entertaining) or space to breathe. Still, despite having room to grow, green! is a kind of first release that makes you excited to see where the band will go next.

scott guild’s plastic: the album is an abstract but intriguing slab of art-pop

scott guild’s plastic: the album is an abstract but intriguing slab of art-pop

Plastic: The Album by author/musician Scott Guild is hard to approach. It’s a companion piece to Guild’s debut novel of the same name that came out in February and recounts the book’s story. I haven’t read the book, and I’m not one of those nerds that read books for fun (though I am, admittedly, still a huge nerd), so I’m judging the album entirely on its own merits. 

While it seemed difficult initially to come at the album with solid reference points as a way of comparison, this sort of lore and mythology filled album isn’t entirely uncommon. Famous experimental pop icons like Kate Bush and Ethel Cain have made albums composed of songs made up of recurring characters, storylines, and extensive backstories that invite more analysis into the lyrics than a usual album. Even more mainstream musicians have done this, such as Taylor Swift on Folklore and Evermore, two of her most acclaimed albums. An album like Plastic can absolutely succeed without prior knowledge of the novel’s storyline and can work simply on the music itself.

For the most part, I’d say it’s an interesting and captivating, albeit not super accessible, listen. Guild is backed by more experimental musicians for support, like Cindertalk (a collaborator of Son Lux and My Brightest Diamond) and Stranger Cat (a collaborator of Sufjan Stevens, another good example of successful concept albums). With a murderers’ row of artsy musicians behind the album, it makes sense the genre is a touch hard to figure out too. Calling it just “art-pop” is simple, but a little too easy. I’d say it’s more of a mix of orchestral chamber music and downtempo electronica, with more focus on vocal performances and wispy atmosphere than rhythm.

When I say Plastic isn’t super accessible, I don’t mean this as a bad thing (I literally listen to Björk in my free time! Did I mention I’m a huge nerd?). I mean that in a sense that it’s better to approach the album not in a traditional sense, but more in the way of theater, opera, or something that demands your fullest attention when experiencing it. Guild mentioned he didn’t set out to make something contemporary and intended something more cinematic, which I think the album succeeds on.

Okay, now the actual music, which is mainly composed of strongly performed and composed ballads. Stranger Cat’s vocals (as the lead character of the novel) really elevate the material, creating a strong emotional quality that’s consistently captivating and brings out the theatricality that the material is going for. Songs like “Boytoy” and “Fiona” excel on the quality of her voice alone, and she provides enough depth to keep you invested in her performance even if you may not understand what’s going on in the story.

The production, as I said, is an interesting mix of electronica and orchestra. Plastic’s atmosphere is built largely around airy electronics that add to the dystopian future setting of the story. It has a dreamlike quality that can occasionally turn eerie, such as the echoey drum machines on “The Absence” that add to the tone and mood. The orchestrations are also sharp, adding to the dramatic elements of songs like “A Doll’s House” and “Worth the Loss”. There’s some interesting textures added in the instrumentation too, such as the glassy percussion on “Lightning” and the driving acoustic guitar on “Until They’re Home”. 

As I said, Plastic can be difficult to grasp for a casual music listener, but that’s the intent behind it. It’s a rewarding experience when given serious intent and your best attention when listening to it, and works as a fascinating listen even without knowing the source material.

Check out the playback from Friday’s album release here.

deconstructing demetri martin: demetri deconstructed

deconstructing demetri martin: demetri deconstructed

Demetri Martin released a new Netflix special on Tuesday, the first of two to be released on the streamer this year.
Before it had been out for 24 hours, I watched it twice.

For those who knew me 10-15 years ago, this hardly comes as a shock. My family enjoyed his comedy when I was is teenager. I believe we were eating Ben & Jerry’s pints for dinner and watching Demetri when guys from a neighboring school came over and asked us (the twins) to homecoming. (My parents were cool and once in a while, we got to eat ice cream for dinner. What of it?) It’s no surprise that lines of his dry comedy are what we both chose as our senior quotes in the yearbook. My sister even surprised me one year with tickets to his show for our birthday.

I didn’t realize until now how much I was missing Demetri’s unique brand of comedy. Sure, I have always followed him on social media, but he’s not one of those comedians who lives on his page either. He has built a seemingly quiet life with his wife and two children in California, releasing books, acting, writing, producing, and doing voiceover work between comedy gigs. Yes, we got a well-formed special every few years (2004, 2007, 2012, 2015, 2018), but we have been left to clips, quirky one-liners, and small peeks into his personality since the last special – Demetri Martin: The Overthinker – released in 2018.

So when Demetri Martin: Demetri Deconstructed popped up on my television, I waited mere hours to enjoy it with my parents. And then I went upstairs and watched it again.

First of all, the effort he puts into his intros is actually admirable. If you’re wondering about his use of black and white in his latest special, it’s explained before he even takes the stage. He uses his voiceover talents to help the audience identify his thought process, recognize – and relate to – his idiosyncracies, and make layered jokes. It seems to allow him a structured vulnerability, the affinity for “off-handed” comments that are planned, but well-timed comedically.

Demetri’s choice to incorporate drawing and other forms of art he enjoys in his set is – and has always been – bar none. Sure, iconic comedians have brought additional talents to the stage. (Acts like Bo Burnham, TIm Minchin, and others enjoy singing during their comedy acts. I’ll be watching Steven Martin’s doc soon, and have always admired his picking talents.) Demetri has always drawn representations of his jokes. His method includes charts, graphs, and tables, not-so-subtle reminders that his comedy is very unique.

I have to admit, I didn’t see subpar ventriloquy as the new trick in Demetri’s toolbelt I would enjoy. His spot-on impersonation of a demon from hell – and I have to specify that it is not the devil – was impactful because of its silliness and relatability.

Demetri is also known for using music in impactful moments. It is common knowledge/widely thought that he would play guitar and other musical elements throughout his sets so that executives at Comedy Central and elsewhere couldn’t edit his material to their liking for public airing. In this way, he kept more of his artistic integrity on jokes that were always widely family-friendly. Now, the threat of artistic integrity might not exist as much for Martin. But he does incorporate fun jazz beats throughout his set, giving impact to the punchlines and guiding the audience into a more relaxed and intimate-feeling environment.

While I don’t want to give away any big pieces of his set, I will say that this special commands your full attention. Jokes about Bitcoin, tic tac toe (brilliant, in case anyone is wondering), crowd work, self-deprecation, industrial strength scented trash bags, logistics, and well-known phrases can be expected. Lighting is artfully used to enhance his dramatic readings of hilarious, “mysterious” thoughts. And he accomplishes all of this while looking like – and having the energy of – someone much younger than himself.

If you love curious, intricate, silly humor that you can quote around (most of) your family, Demetri Deconstructed will accomplish this for you. Check it out on Netflix now.

rachel burns sets your weekend on fire with release of what a nasty woman

rachel burns sets your weekend on fire with release of what a nasty woman

Rachel Burns knows passion. She knows intensity, appreciation, humor, and life. Her music has reached a unicorn “pop-soul-cabaret” genre-bending classification, relatably inspired by her everyday life. As a mother of two and cancer survivor, she could just as easily sing the blues — and most likely very beautifully. Instead, she takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to her art, the culmination of which comes to a head with her new EP release, What a Nasty Woman.

From the very first staccato notes of “Mansplainin'” – which any female-identifying human can probably identify with – through the weight of “Triple D’s” (pun intended), and through to the fade-out of wild-west inspired “Sundown Of The Macho Man,” you are in for a damn treat. Burns has brought just as much sass to her sound as she has talent, and these songs will have you revving up for the weekend the right way. (HELLO to her amped-up version of “All Shook Up”!)

“I like to empower people to empower other people. I’d like to uplift us all with this project,” Burns shares. “When I would dress up as Wonder Woman, I held up a giant sign that said, ‘Time to bust out the golden lasso of truth’ in glitter. Wonder Woman’s superpower was telling the truth. The truth is really powerful; it can break down all kinds of barriers, and I think that’s the kernel of a lot of my music: Truth telling. We’re going to laugh, dance, and be real – and not pussyfoot around anything!”

And pussyfoot she does not. Double entendres like the reference to fingers as “flacid, flimsy” and “soft, limp” in “Tiny Hands” and the entirety of “Triple D’s” are scattered across the 6-track EP, adding just as much joy and giggle to the aftermath of your listen as inspiration and empowerment. Her impressive vocal range is displayed to perfection on What a Nasty Woman, from the soft disposition of “Pollyanna’s Lament” to the deep, guttural performance of “Tiny Hands” and beyond. With nostalgic instrumentation that sets the stage for her theatrical, all-encompassing songs, you may just find yourself with an earworm or two.



  1. Mansplainin’
  2. All Shook Up
  3. Triple D’s
  4. Pollyanna’s Lament
  5. Tiny Hands
  6. Sundown Of The Macho Man
colony house brought down the house (er… the truman in kc) with their cannonballers tour

colony house brought down the house (er… the truman in kc) with their cannonballers tour

On Thursday, March 16th, Colony House brought their Cannonballers Tour to The Truman in Kansas City, Missouri. Pop trio Little Image opened the event, bringing the energy up high enough that the crowd was jumping up and down in unison halfway through the set. For a mid-week show in the midwest (in the snow, mind you), that was enough to have me convinced that even the opener has some lasting power.

Colony House took the stage to a warmed-up crowd, many of whom seemed to genuinely know every word of their music. From the first chords of “Landlocked Surf Rock” through the honest lyricism in “Learning How to Love,” and through on into “Man on the Run,” the crowd was 100% engaged in the performance. (Not even the building blizzard seemed to bring them down.) Fan favorite “One of Those Days” felt a bit anthemic, as the crowd came together in vulnerability and a sense of togetherness.

The 22-song set list was to die for at best, and inspiring at worst. About midway through the event, they did an endearing rendition of Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit,” a song it seems the crowd – aside from just myself – will never quite tire of. Nostalgic surf rock favorite “You Know It” was the perfectly placed last performed track, allowing the band to assure us that they will be back again.

Keep up with Colony House here.

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

You People has been the talk of the town, as the cast has been on a larger-than-life press tour. Most late-night talk show hosts have been clinging to the idea of an Eddie Murphy revival. The stacked cast stands on its own even without the comedic talents of one of the most storied celebrities of our time. Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are the parents of Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill), who has recently met and fallen in love with Amira (Lauren London), the daughter of Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). The supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Rhea Pearlman, Taco, and Sam Jay, among others. 

The Humor in You People is Often Clunky and Uncomfortable

The plotline centers on the way people of different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds look at each other. Everyone has preconceived notions of the way the world is and how it should be. While none of the characters are outright racist, microaggressions that they may never have intended can rear their ugly heads. And this movie created plenty of opportunities to observe this behavior.

Ezra finds himself experiencing a series of unfortunate events stirred on by inherent racism, as does his betrothed. Akbar always imagined his daughter marrying a black man, and his disapproval of Ezra is palpable from the moment they meet at Roscoe’s to discuss the idea of marriage. 

The filmmakers chose to have Ezra want to impress them so badly that he missteps and comes off as insensitive as well. This begins with his choice of eatery and the fact that he is proposing the idea of marriage during his first meeting with the family.

While Ezra struggles to level with Akbar throughout the movie, Amira has similar issues with the Cohen family. Ezra’s sister takes a romantic liking to her and his father – who has an affinity for Xzibit and wants the world to know about it – chooses to serenade her with John Legend’s “Ordinary People” in an awkward first meeting moment. His mother? Well, she is on a whole other level, leaning into the “diversity” the family is engaging in a little too much. 

Admittedly, the Plotline isn’t Entirely Believable

The plotline goes a little bit too far when Shelley and Akbar take it upon themselves to attend the bachelor and bachelorette parties for their in-laws. These scenes actually make the viewer think, “Why didn’t their significant others or children put a stop to this?” This is the piece of the movie that came off as too wild, too unhinged. The discomfort felt during these scenes could have easily been portrayed in other, more believable ways. Plenty of moms have made themselves seem off-the-rocker on the hunt for a bridal gown or at a bridal shower, for example.

But that might be the exact point the writers are trying to make. These ideals are antiquated. The atmosphere they create is uncomfortable. And sometimes you have to sit through the discomfort to truly understand the message of a movie. Race struggles are still at the forefront of the conversation in America, still. It can be difficult to find humor in it, and it is something we should all be working to fix. This commentary and this perspective are necessary because change doesn’t come unless we get uncomfortable.

Have you gotten a chance to check out You People yet? Maybe you can help me find a new discourse for it… and get it out of its lower-rated category on Rotten Tomatoes.