P E N
+ Yellowcard - Squirrel Flower - Zilched - SCOWL - Pitchfork 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS INTERVIEWS In Conversation with Squirrel Flower - Camryn Montebruno (6) In Purgatory with Zilched - Giliann Karon (20) Self-Compassion and Saloon Dramas: Cherry Glazerr’s Evolution as Documented in I Don’t Want You Anymore - Erin Christie (28) An Interview with Yellowcard’s Sean Mackin: Looking Back on 20 Years of Ocean Avenue - Ari Karnezis (44)
EDITORIAL Noah Kahan: Show Review and Live Gallery - Brian Mecinas (14) 2023 Release Radar pt. 2 (18) Issue 3.1 Playlist - Mari Cardenas (19) A Trip Down Penny Lane: Reflecting On My Journey in Music Journalism - Erin Christie (24) Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS is Sort of a Disappointment - Brandy Hernandez (40) Penny Puzzle - Mari Cardenas (50)
PHOTOGRAPHY Squirrel Flower Gallery - Camryn Monebruno (6) Pitchfork 2023 Gallery - Erin Dickson (12) Noah Kahan Gallery - Brian Mecinas (14) SCOWL Gallery - Camryn Montebruno (23) Black Country, New Road Gallery - Erin Christie (27) Cherry Glazerr Gallery - Emma Valles (28) Yellowcard Gallery - Ari Karnezis (44)
WHO IS PENNY? Founder & Editor-in-Chief Erin Christie
Contributing Writers Erin Christie (24, 28) Brandy Hernandez (40) Ari Karnezis (44) Giliann Karon (20) Brian Mecinas (14) Camryn Montebruno (6)
Contributing Photographers Erin Christie (28) Erin Dickson (12) Ari Karnezis (44) Brian Mecinas (14) Camryn Montebruno (6) Emma Valles (Cover, 2, 28)
Contributing Graphic Designers Mari Cardenas (50) Erin Christie Maddie Grey (19, 44)
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Hello again, Welcome to Penny 3.1! You might notice (based on the masthead) that this Penny issue was assembled with a bit of a skeleton crew, and that was honestly a bit intentional! I wrote a piece for this issue that essentially discusses how much difficulty I’ve had surrounding the motivation to create and contribute to this passion project, so I gave myself a task to combat that — I wanted to, for the most part, go back to Penny’s roots and construct this issue as single-handedly as possible. The resulting output took a lot of time, troubleshooting, and helping hands here and there, but ultimately, I think it does a great job of showing how far I’ve grown, and how far Penny has grown since I put out the first issue in the fall of 2020. A prevailing theme of the cover artist, Cherry Glazerr’s, newest record is nurturing one's past self as a means to heal. Though my journey in this process has different origins than Clementine Creevy’s, I employed these tools in a very similar way. While creating her new LP, I Don’t Want You Anymore, Creevy practiced self-compassion, looking inward to recognize how she’s grown, and creating this issue was akin to that cathartic, but hard experience, and it’s one I’m really proud of. I’m extremely excited to see how it’s content is received and to continue to work with such lovely and truly talented individuals on future issues moving forward. I’m hoping that this coming year will be a Penny Renaissance, a Golden Age after such a tough last few years. And I look forward to taking you all along with me on the ride! In summary, I’m beyond grateful for the continued support Penny has received even in times such as this when material is truly lacking. I think this issue has lit a fire under my ass and I hope it stays hot so I can have more to show you really soon. Here’s to the future xx
Erin Christie Penny Founder & Editor-In-Chief
IN CONVERSATION WITH
Words and Photos by Camryn Montebruno 6
Squirrel Flower is the nickname that Ella Williams gave herself at four years old, as well as the moniker for her ‘witch rock’ project. I always tell the story of the first time I heard her song “Conditions” coming up on a playlist I was listening to, followed by me ascending in the photocopy room at the job I had at the time. That was in 2019 — since then, she’s gone on to release three albums, a handful of EPs, as well as a beloved cover of Caroline Polachek’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings.” Currently touring her brand new album Tomorrow’s Fire, I sat down with Ella before her show at the Monarch Tavern in Toronto to talk about how the new record came together, drawing from the past, and solitaire.
There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding how being an artist is increasingly more difficult to sustain right now and I feel like you’ve spoken about that a decent amount but I’m wondering if there’s anything that you’re currently feeling is better, or if there’s things that bring you a sense of joy or optimism? EW: I think what brings me joy and optimism is just the actual act of making and sharing music itself. Everything around that can be so demoralizing and challenging and being on tour can be hard sometimes but at the end of the day the moment you get on stage and like, start to actually play and make music and share that with people, that’s the thing that really keeps me going, the music itself.
This tour just started so you’re not super far The first thing I was wondering is how putting Tomorrow’s Fire out into the world has been, especially considering that your first two albums were released in semi-lockdown conditions and that’s not the case anymore — how has the release been different? Ella Williams: Well, this is my first time releasing a record and immediately being able to tour it. It’s been a week since it came out and we’re playing our third show, fourth show technically, and just wasting no time. It really has felt like a literal release — I was like, so stressed up until the release date and just not sure how it would feel to have it in the world but the instant it came out I felt so relieved and the response has been like, a lot. I mean I didn’t really know what to expect but the response has been really special.
into it, but is there anything on this tour you’re really looking forward to? EW: Honestly this show! This is my first time headlining in Toronto. The last time I was here the show itself was good but it was like slushy horrible weather day and it was kind of miserable to be honest, so being back here is really cool and being able to play a headlining show here is really cool. I love Canada, like, a lot. I did Sled Island in 2019 and I met so many friends who are still my friends and I just feel a lot of love for Canadian musicians and the whole scene here. I’m also excited to play in Boston and New York, it’s a lot of cities I’ve played a lot of times, but it’s still exciting. What prompted the revisiting of “I Don’t Use a Trash Can” and how did you approach rerecording that? EW: So that was a song that I returned to after I started playing it live on tour over the past
few years to sort of ground myself and return to my past musical self and I really, really enjoy playing it on tour. It just felt really special to connect with my past musical self in that way and I wanted to try re-recording it. I didn’t know if it would work, I took the idea into the studio not being completely sure if it would work but it did and it felt really right and really special and it felt like the perfect way to start the album as a sort of reference to the past. Going off the whole idea of the past, between the re-recording and revisiting performance art you did in college in the “Full Time Job” video, I’m wondering if you could go more into the role the past plays in your work? Is it something you find yourself frequently drawing from or in conversation with? EW: Yeah, I mean I cover myself a lot, I do rerecordings of old songs a lot and I think part of it is me taking inspiration from my younger self which was like very just making art and music for the sake of the art and music and not thinking about anybody else seeing it or listening to it and being very playful in it and experimenting a lot. But as I get older I find it really important to connect with memories in a deep way and kind of allow the past to guide you through the present and where I’m going. I guess you kind of just answered this in a way, but are there any other older songs of yours that you feel have been given a new life throughout the years? EW: “Your Love” is one, that’s a single I released last January and it was a full band version of a song that I released as basically a demo I had made on an EP a year before. And then the song “Chicago” I released a few different versions of. I think that I’ve done it a third time but I can’t remember! On the new album specifically are there any songs that you felt kind of evolved in unexpected ways while you were making the album? EW: “Full Time Job!” That song almost didn’t
make it on the record, I threw it in the mix as just like a random demo. I didn’t think it would make it on, I didn’t really want to put it on, I wasn’t feeling too inspired by it and Alex, my collaborator, was like “You need to record this, we need to do it.” So we just fucking decided to record it and we did it in three hours and it turned out to be a banger and to be the lead single and one of my favourite songs to play live! So that was very unexpected. There are a couple of ideas that come up really frequently across your discography that I personally kind of tie together. I’m not sure if you do, but there’s the road and driving, and then also believing in or hoping for something better in the face of things that bring you down or, for lack of better wording, just kind of suck. What keeps you coming back to these things and why do you find yourself drawn to these ideas? EW: I mean I think these are things I’m not really intentionally writing about, it’s more just reflections of my life and reflections of the world around me and that comes through in my music of course because like, I write songs about what I’m thinking about and my surroundings. I feel like a lot of my songs are me holding up a mirror to my surroundings and I’m very influenced by the environment around me and I think that movement is definitely a central theme of my music as well as perseverance or finding light to help guide you through dark times. You’ve talked about “Alley Light” being more character-driven, which is also true for a few other songs, but with that song specifically, it’s pretty evident. I’m curious as to how you approach these characters and how they develop?
EW: With “Alley Light,” that was the first time. I’ve written characters into other songs before and I’ve been other people in other songs before a fair amount, but “Alley Light” was the first time I leaned into it fully in like, a really intense way. The song is about things in my life but through a completely different fictionalized lens and I wanted to not hold back and just fully dive into that and embody
a persona and do that with the video as well. I think embodying someone else can help you go deeper into your art when you don’t feel the need to be truthful and like, vulnerable and authentic all the time, you know what I mean? I think it can be very freeing to be somebody else and I don’t know, especially as a ~woman in indie rock~ I think people really often assume that everything is a fucking diary entry, and to write a song that’s like, very clearly using different pronouns from the pronouns I use and very clearly something that’s not my literal story it’s sort of saying “Fuck you!” so it’s empowering in that way. Were there any non-musical influences on the record? EW: Definitely, I wrote this whole record while living in Chicago and I think the energy of that area really seeped into the record, just like the industrial midwest and the landscape and they alleys and the buildings. Yeah that was a huge influence on the record. One final question based off of something you tweeted recently — how did solitaire change your life? EW: I would love to talk about solitaire! So I started playing over the summer, I had just gone through a breakup and was just feeling sad as you do, and I was on a plane to Boston to visit my parents and they had solitaire on the little plane TV and I was like “You know what? I’m gonna try this.” So I tried it and it was really hard! I couldn’t remember how to play, which was frustrating as fuck, but by the end I had figured it out which was a cool feeling, and then on the way back I played it again and I was so good because I had just learned and it just felt so amazing. So I bought a deck of cards and I would just bike around Chicago, find a field, and play solitaire and it was this beautiful therapeutic thing for me. There’s something about the way that you often get stuck in the game and you don’t know if you really are stuck and if the deck can’t go any further and you have to fold or if it’s just like, a perspective and perception thing and I think that’s a beautiful lesson.
Pitchfork Festival 2023
Captured by Erin Dickson 13
NOAH KAHAN Show Review and Photography by Brian Mecinas
Even from a mile away, a steady stream of cars could be seen making their way toward Arizona Financial Theatre alongside droves of enthusiastic fans, both young and old, on foot. Helping us start our August in the best manner possible, folk-pop singer-songwriter Noah Kahan brought his ‘Stick Season’ tour to Phoenix in what quickly became an event that could not be missed, with the show having sold out the 5,000 cap venue months in advance. Riding a well-deserved wave of popularity and virality after the release of the deluxe version of his most recent album Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever), Kahan has embarked on a sold-out North American tour featuring stops at numerous notable festivals and a headlining show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Armed with a setlist full of newer tracks off of the recent album, along with a small handful of older releases, there wasn’t a single fan that could have been left unsatisfied by the end of the night. Starting off with a warm greeting to the
packed theatre, Kahan immediately set the lighthearted tone for the show, introducing himself via the numerous monikers given to him by his large online fanbase: Zoloft Keanu Reeves, Folk Malone, and for that night, “Jewish Capaldi.” Picking up his mandolin, he then jumped into a soulful rendition of “All My Love,” drawing a wave of cheers and elated screaming from the crowd. He quickly built on this with energetic performances of “Everywhere, Everything” and “She Calls Me Back,” two of my personal favorites off of the recent album. Having the opportunity to hear this trio and see it directly through my camera in the photo pit was an experience that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Within just the first three songs, Kahan established an undeniably charismatic and powerful stage presence that brought the crowd into the vivid landscape that he had painted for us with his words and melodies. The only thing that could interrupt his momentum on stage was the fire alarm that began flashing right after he had finished treating his fans to a bright
performance of “Dial Drunk.” Though, even this couldn’t keep Kahan off of his feet for long as he surveyed the audience to decide which song to perform an impromptu acoustic version of, which was met with resounding chants of “Call Your Mom.” After starting the song’s first few lines by himself, Kahan’s voice was soon overpowered by that of nearly every person in the sold-out theater. The lack of stage lights due to the technical difficulty was barely noticeable once a sea of cell phone flashlights filled every gap imaginable in the room. By the time the stage function was restored, the near once-in-a-lifetime moment had been solidified deep into the hearts of every loving fan present. For just a few minutes, many individual attendees became one unified voice, and a beautiful one at that. It was rare to hear a song on the set list where the crowd wasn’t singing along to every word, down to the very last syllable. There are few artists that come to mind whose talent, charm, and melodic
serenading can command such intense power over the attention span of our generation. Noah Kahan is one of the most prominent, not to mention the funniest, in my opinion, as well as that of the majority of people present for the show. Personally, one of the most vibrant singalongs of the night was during “Homesick.” Despite the dry, desert landscape of Phoenix being as far away from the picturesque idea of the East Coast as one could get, there was no hesitancy as we all belted out “I’m mean because I grew up in New England.” Ending the show with the song that first launched him into the online spotlight, “Stick Season,” there were tears visible on the faces of many fans in the crowd. It was a testament to the raw, emotional influence of Kahan’s music. At the core of his music is his ability to communicate complex thoughts, feelings, and lived experiences in a way that anyone can connect and relate to. Every fan is eager to see what Kahan creates and chooses to share with us in what is sure to be a bright, successful future for his music career.
FALL FAVORITES a playlist from Mari Cardenas 1 hr 7m
Got Me Started....................................................Troye Sivan Sociopathic Dance Queen......................................Amaarae Two Worlds Apart..................................................Little Simz Set the Mood..............................................................MIKE band practice............................................................Ambré New Joy.......................................................Slauson Malone 1 West Savannah (feat. SZA).........................Isaiah Rashad, SZA X-RAY................................................................Jean Dawson Operator.............................................................Yves Tumor Sex With My Ex.......................................................Provoker Escape From The Killer 1994...................................Eyedress Disillusioned (with serpentwithfeet).Daniel Caesar, serpent with feet The Ages of Parades............................................Ian Cobiella Obvious...............................................................The Drums PDA.........................................................................Interpol Can’t Get over Me...................................................Take Van Trace Me Onto You................................................Title Fight Dull Boys........................................................Archy Marshall Curiosity................................................................Hello Yello Tightrope.................................................................Tinashe 19
In Purgatory with Zilched Interview by Giliann Karon Photography by Caroline Drallos
23-year-old Chloë Drallos, who performs music as Zilched, wanted to make music under a “meaningless name.” The grungepop artist originally went by “Zilch,” which evolved into Zilched following a few lineup changes. Her stage name helps separate her artistic pursuits from her personal life, especially since she largely uses her social media accounts to showcase just her music. She owes her sensibilities and connections to her hometown of Detroit. She grew up driving into the city to attend shows with her sister, then befriended other bands and booking managers once she started writing music of her own. Now that she lives in the city, she continues to give back to the local scene. About her second LP, Earthly Delights (released August 11), she says, “After suffering writer's block for about a year following the release of DOOMPOP, without performance or live shows being an option, my inspiration shifted from music towards the inner world of what I was reading, watching and painting. This led to the many literary and cultural allusions throughout the lyrics. Even after I wrote the title track, the songs worked themselves into these chapters of Paradise, Purgatory or Damnation. Calling upon all the beauty and the horror of the record’s namesake, I wrote directly from my heart’s perspective on this world.”
let the songs be what they were meant to be. I didn’t think about all I’ve set-up or genre in any way, and that led me to explore a different side of myself. At the end of the day, I want to end up making beautiful songs. In all honesty, I think having live shows stop and not think about being in a band led me to realize I don’t need to necessarily fill in the gaps between what Zilched does and what I want to do. I can just write how I feel and let the songs take form. If you think of the time between DOOMPOP and Earthly Delights, do you think growing up softened or hardened you? Z: Softened. I'm looking at ages like 16-17 until 20-21 and it feels like its own era. I feel a lot more like myself from before that age. I was a pretty innocent and hopeful child and a lot caught up to me when I was around 16. I got pretty angry, as a lot of people do, and I hardened myself up a lot. In the past few years, I’ve been able to shed that and be somewhere in the middle. It’s a much better
With the arrival of Earthly Delights, we chatted with Drallos to learn more. With the arrival of Earthly Delights, we chatted with Drallos to learn more. ----What triggered the shift between DOOMPOP and Earthly Delights? ZILCHED: I was having an identity crisis as a musician. It was a year into the pandemic and I still couldn’t perform, so I
place for me to be in. Agreed, there comes a point where you realize you don’t need to put up this tough exterior because we’re all going through our own things..You talk a lot about the concept of Purgatory and reclaiming space that once felt safe and sacred. How do you think your mix of grunge and pop allows you to straddle this center? Z: That’s just how I naturally operate and I’ve said this for a while. It’s just how I keep things in balance. I love a booming rhythm section but I love ethereal vocals. If it's gonna feel personal for me, there's always going to be some extreme dichotomy happening. Who did you listen to while writing this album? Z: A lot of different things because there's what you listen to when you're writing, and then there's what you listen to while you're doing sessions. was really going back in time a bit, as everyone was, during the pandemic. I was listening to so much Grimes and Arctic
Monkeys, I also listened to a lot of Beastie Boys and Nine Inch Nails, who inspired me to just be way more upfront and proud in my lyrics instead of self-deprecating. I love Joy Division. And I love Stevie Nicks so much. She's one of my favorite people. I still love Fleetwood Mac. It was this mix of me listening to a lot of my darker favorites, finding where Bauhaus and Stevie Nicks might meet. And still Grimes because I love weird and fun pop music. Last question, what’s your favorite lyric off the new album? Z: There's a couple songs with my favorite words. “Strike Gently” has a lot of my favorite lyrics. It was the first one I wrote and I had a lot of writer’s block, so I was taking notes from movies and books. I wrote a response poem with another song. It's just a collage of references. That one has some of my favorites. But there's a song called “The Rosy Crucifixion” that has some of my favorite lyrics as well. Earthly Delights out now via Young Heavy Souls.
Photographed by Camryn Montebruno
A Trip Down Penny Lane Reflecting On My Journey in Music Journalism Written by Erin Christie Whenever I’m asked how I “got into music journalism,” I have a fairly straight-forward answer: that I love music, and love writing, and wanted to merge my passions. Though that’s absolutely truthful, it goes a little deeper than that. I’ve been experiencing one of the worst creative dry spells I’ve ever encountered over the last few months, largely inspired by how much stress I’ve been under. In turn, my passion project, this website and publication, have tragically fallen to the wayside. I haven’t been writing at all for weeks, let alone for Penny, and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that my life might be moving in a direction where my ability to stretch myself as thin as I have been (between work, life, and creative pursuits) is no longer feasible or mentally possible. It’s an extremely empty feeling, confronting the looming threat of change head-on, and acknowledging the extreme left-hand turn it would be to move on with my life without this integral part of my identity intact.
What kickstarted my career as a music journalist is a little more complicated than just being a band-obsessed teen with a computer and a slight inclination for writing prose. To put it bluntly, I felt very alone in my adolescence, and that’s where the timeline truly begins. With my eyes glued to my screen during virtually every waking moment when I was in high school, I diverted my attention away from my loneliness by devouring any source of media I could get my hands on. Eventually, the Internet rabbit hole I found myself in led me to discover a few pivotal musicians that sparked joy in me and helped me find some form of structure when my left felt so directionless and empty. Aside from
enjoying the music itself, I fell in love with the entire essence of being a “music fan,” from digging deep into the YouTube archives for old Nardwuar interviews and live performances from Warped Tours of years passed, to checking out Tumblr threads dedicated to the historical and fantastical lore behind certain artist’s evolving careers. Within that practice, I not only found entertainment, but also community, and it felt nice to know that I was part of something that spanned across thousands of similar minds, each searching for something that I was too: belonging, comfort, and overall, fun. What’s blatantly unique about growing up in the “computer age” is that social media, even in the early 2010s, easily became a
a hub for a new type of interpersonal (and even intercontinental) interaction that those of generations past don’t have an equivalent to. Via words I typed out and sent into the ether via platforms such as Twitter, I eventually began making connections with people that later jumped into real life, and I still know and keep in touch with many of these same individuals today (even if just via the occasional IG DM). In getting close with like-minded and similarly motivated people in this way, I also became exposed to new ways in which I could express and channel my budding passion for music, with my peers’ means of expression serving as a blueprint for my own. I remember when a few “Internet friends” of mine started a little zine called Pop To It when I was maybe 16 or 17. The project came to be with a group of about a dozen different people, all of whom were connected solely via the Internet, each contributing different skill sets to the graphic design and illustration to poetry and writing. When I eventually became a part of the project too, I was unequivocally inspired by the initiative and the fact that my friends possessed the wherewithal and ability to create something that seemed so complicated with such ease. I had never thought that it could be done. Before this point, my only experience writing journalistically was within a position at my high school newspaper, where I would occasionally write op-eds and, if I got the chance, music review rundowns (I notably remember writing a review of Halsey’s Badlands the year it came out). Through Pop To It, I could truly write about almost anything I wanted, and it was a new feeling, to have the power to express myself through a medium I already loved and felt comfortable with, and to do so in a way where I could openly discuss my innermost thoughts, touch on my scarcely spoken-about adoration for music/fan culture.
This was just my first taste of writing about music with a dedicated purpose. Later, I noticed more and more friends I had made through our shared love of certain musicians were starting their own publications, too. And of course, I shot my hand up high when they asked if anyone wanted to contribute and help build their new projects. A handful of blogs I helped kick up during my high school years include Electric Daze Magazine, Uncover, Poptized, Lucky Archives, and Heart Eyes Magazine (where I served as managing editor for a time, as well). Here, I spent hours writing reviews of singles/albums I was enjoying, op-eds about music-related topics such as streaming platforms and music festivals, and even interviewing bands I looked up to. I fell in love with the ability to not only express my musicrelated opinions on a public forum, but also, with the purpose my writing served for the artists I wrote about — I was ultimately helping bands get the word out on their new releases, and that was a truly gratifying feeling that continues to motivate me to write now. Around this age, I also watched Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous for the first time and got absolutely hooked on the idea of being one of the cogs in the touring machine, writing articles and documenting a band’s life on the road like the protagonist William did in the film. Leaving that watching experience with a takeaway that gaining experience in the journalism field was as easy as being a music-loving teenager with a dedicated spirit and a little bit of elbow grease, beginning to write for these DIY blogs pushed me to keep striving toward the not-so-fantastical idea of following in the lead’s footsteps. As my portfolio grew and my love for music journalism expanded to a point where I knew I wanted to pursue it more seriously, I succeeded in begging my parents to allow me to attend Emerson College, where I later completed a
Bachelor’s in Journalism in 2021. During my time there, I spent essentially every class I took looking for a way to direct my coursework toward music in an effort to essentially kill two birds with one stone. Outside of participating in extracurriculars where I could also exercise my music-writing chops (including writing for the two radio stations on campus, in addition to a culture and fashion magazine), I additionally picked up music-focused internships on the side, writing for entities such as Bandsintown (who recently shuttered their blog), Brooklyn Vegan, and local radio promoter Do617. These efforts all culminated in my Multimedia Journalism Capstone project, for which I produced a video essay, audio piece, and written final story that each discussed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on different sectors of the music landscape. Throwing all of these separate pieces into a website led to what Penny Magazine is today, a publication that started in the classroom but became a real-life project of its own after I graduated. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge in journalism in my journey from Pop To It to Penny, and that Penny would not exist without the guiding light my peers shone when pursuing music journalism wasn’t even an idea swimming in my head. And while I’m wholeheartedly grateful for all of the creative opportunities I’ve been given in the interim between then and now, with Penny, I’ve finally been able to take the reins and prove to myself that not only am I capable and talented enough to get my writing out there within the parameters of a team outside of myself, but that I can do the very same within the frame of something I created on my own. It’s incredibly empowering, knowing that I can say that an idea I crafted and wanted to make real now truly exists and that it’s somewhat successful. Within the past year, it’s been really
challenging to admit that I’m burnt out to the extent that my passion for writing has diminished and that the status of Penny has become less certain. At the same time that I have big ideas for this publication and want to be writing at the same pace that I have in the past, I haven’t found myself actively jumping at the opportunity to work on said plans when I’m utterly exhausted and unmotivated after a long week at my day job. That said, in taking the time to document my journey in music journalism and reflect on my successes and hard work via this essay, the thought of throwing in the towel has become undoubtedly obscured — though it might logically make sense to take a break for awhile to recharge, what would feel worse is letting something I’ve worked on for a better part of my life fall to the wayside needlessly.
In wracking my brain to recall these memories in a stream-ofconsciousness format, I hope that I can possibly push myself to keep up the good fight, for the sake of Penny and for my younger self, whose dream doesn’t deserve to die in vain. Stay tuned for more from Penny, coming soon.
BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD
LIVE AT KNOCKDOWN CENTER SEPTEMBER 2023
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN CHRISTIE 27
Cherry Glazerr’s Evolution as Documented in
I Don’t Want Y Anymore 28
Self-Compassion and Saloon Dramas
You Words by Erin Christie Photos by Emma Valles 29
When asked how she would ideally translate the newest Cherry Glazerr record, I Don’t Want You Anymore, into its own a jukebox musical, Clementine Creevy’s answer was immediate: “I would love to picture it at a saloon in the late 1800s, but without all of the problematic elements of that era. It's also really weird and freaky and there's weird glob dudes,” she explained. Whether you’re picturing elements of Cowboys vs. Aliens, Spongebob at the Salty Spitoon, or a Julee Cruise musical break at The Roadhouse, the setting is ultimately clear and extremely specific, sure to have its fair share of classic western shootouts, sasparilla swigs, melodramatic rodeo clowns, and honky tonky heartbreak. In the I Don’t Want You Anymore version of this universe, however, we find Creevy perched on a saloon barstool with a journal in hand, skimming through the innermost thoughts she’s penned down in her tumultuous period of growth over the past five-ish years. From there, the curtains are drawn back and she begins her tale with the strum of a guitar and an earnest statement: “I’m addicted to your love.” ---
The very first Cherry Glazerr album, 2014’s garage-rock manifesto Haxel Princess, is undeniably raw, a byproduct of its truly youthful nature. With smart but understatedly infectious melodies and a laid-back, haunted house, punk-rock attitude, it cemented Creevy and co’s place among the LA DIY ranks from their infancy. Years later, these loveable
qualities can also be attributed to the latest CG output, but we see them in totally different ways: now, Creevy’s genre-defying instrumental inclinations and confrontational nature aren’t a result of her carefree naivety. Instead, this quality is much more intentional, serving as a callback to her roots and aiding her in portraying the lessons she’s learned about herself as a musician and as a fully-actualized person in the years since that 2014 kick-off. What’s most notably separate about I Don’t Want You Anymore, though, is Creevy’s honesty in admitting her imperfect existence: rather than avoiding earnesty by utilizing a protective lens of self-deprecation (though, the record does employ a healthy dose of self-aware humor), Creevy instead approaches her past with sincerity and emotive freedom, removing the veil and laying her truest self bare. “Shattered” is a great example of Creevy’s newly adopted transparency and ability to confront her past without caution. The somber ballad-esque crooner finds her in a moment of despair as she realizes she had lost part of herself in devotion to someone who wasn’t good for her. Here, Creevy hosts a heart-to-heart with a very specific version of herself, the Stuffed & Ready-era Clementine Creevy who found herself drowning in the midst of a not-so-healthy relationship: “Stuffed & Ready was really about me trying to claw my way out of a situation that I was in where I was unhappy and feeling really suffocated. I feel like those were kind of my ‘off’ years, and I’ve been really coming back to myself with [I Don’t Want You Anymore], getting back to my roots, which is one reason that I
really love it. It’s a combination of COVID, and the breakup, and slowly finding myself again.” The process of “slowing finding oneself” isn’t something that can happen overnight, and thus, Creevy made sure to take her time in the creation of I Don’t Want You Anymore. Generally, a key cornerstone of her artistic process is the idea of “striking while the iron is hot” and creating when it feels absolutely essential, connecting with a physical and emotional spark of inspiration to kickstart the process: “I get an overwhelming feeling all around me in my body. And then I'm just like, ‘it's time to go to the studio; I have in my heart and my soul and it's gonna come out today,’” she explained. While this slower-paced process aids Creevy in perfecting her craft, spacing out the rate of production also feeds into the true purpose of her material, particularly with I Don’t Want You Anymore. Here, she aims to unearth hard truths, confront difficult feelings, and embrace her own flaws and faults, a practice in the type of writing that can’t come about without a little time and a lot of elbow grease. Noting the material’s extremely personal content, Creevy was also extremely careful about who she brought into her world during the creation of the record, auditioning a gamut of producers in a series of sessions before finally finding the sense of comfort she was craving with Yves Rothman: “Yves was just someone who really got me, and who could really channel the best things that I have to give.” With Rothman, who is most known for his collaborative partnership with Yves
Tumor, she was aided her in crafting the record’s balance between extremes, where it exhibits moments of synthy ethereal noise and later, pumped up bass-heavy rippers. Aside from the guiding push of collaborators, Cherry Glazerr is a project also largely influenced by media, with Gregg Araki’s film canon having provided a huge basis for her new album’s tone and thematic basis. Araki himself is considered a pioneer of the greater film world, with his retrospective, boundary-breaking, and queer-centric films (such as The Doom Generation and Mysterious Skin) being considered unmatched cult-classics guiding directionless 20-somethings toward clarity in chaos. Described by Metropgraph’s Thora Siemsen as “the crown prince of queer slacker punk,” Araki is the perfect beacon of inspiration for Creevy, whose new album is essentially her own version of Araki’s dark and fucked up translation on the coming-of-age trope. Creevy specifically cites Araki’s 2004 film Mysterious Skin as inspiring much of the record, with track “Touched You With My Chaos” — on which she unravels and purges emotion via an earth-shattering sequence of screams — having come about following a viewing.
“It’s a combination of COVID, and the breakup, and slowly finding myself again.” 35
The aforementioned film is tragically dark and perhaps one of the most brutal in Araki’s catalog, providing a stunningly sobering finale in its intense portrayal of healing in the aftermath of childhood abuse. Akin to the confrontational and truly difficult path toward healing that the film’s protagonists endure, Creevy embarked on a parallel hero’s journey in the years leading up to I Don’t Want You
Anymore, resulting in the record’s final output as a form of apocalyptic selfexpose. While the record consciously employs a vide array of elements involved in the Cherry Glazerr canon — from smudged-out sludgy riffs, synthrock majesty, whispered airy vocalization, and upbeat kickdrum crescendos — it more distinctly punctuates on Creevy’s strength in creating a jarring, hard-hitting, and unrestrained look at her insides where she allows herself to truly process and to not feel shame for doing so in her own time. Despite the aforementioned darkness of the record’s source material (i.e. Mysterious Skin and her journey in confronting trauma with care), Creevy wants to make it clear that I Don’t Want You Anymore is perhaps lighter than most records in her catalogue regardless: “It’s a record where I’m reckoning with myself, and though it seems a lot darker, for me, it’s actually a much lighter release, and a much more cathartic one because I feel like I was in a much better place when I was making it,” Creevy explained. “I definitely think it feels heavier and more intense than anything I’ve ever made,
and I think that’s true, but I also think it’s like that because I felt more emotionally free during this process than I have in the past.” This very theme, self-compassion, is the thickest thread tying the tracks on I Don’t Want You Anymore together, largely signifying the level of personal growth and care that went into the process behind it. “Recently, I’ve tried to have a little more compassion for that ‘weird’ era,” Creevy continued. “For a minute, I was like, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?,’ but now, I realize that everything that happened is part of my story even if it was weird and messy.” As the record closes with its title track, Creevy sheds one last nugget of wisdom that she’s gained in these years of healing, expressing a moment of clarity that in truth, the most important and everlasting relationship she has is the one she has with herself — “In the end, you’re always holding me.” Here, she gazes into the mirror and extends an olive branch to herself, reveling in a newfound sense of selfadoration to replace the unhealthy obsession she had had for external love in the past. This hard-earned lesson is Creevy’s secret weapon in the process of not only moving on, but moving toward a new era for herself creatively. Ultimately, I Don’t Want You Anymore is a record born out of processing past trauma and learning to show oneself compassion, and despite it all, it still manages to feel much more like a dream than a nightmare. In getting back in touch with herself these past
“I definitely think it feels heavier and more intense than anything I’ve ever made, and I think that’s true, but I also think it’s like that because I felt more emotionally free during this process than I have in the past.” few years, I Don’t Want You Anymore is perhaps the most Cherry Glazerr of them all, a testament to Creevy’s resilience. In the example she sets, she also opens the door for listeners and fellow songwriters alike to look inward themselves, and to recognize that those fucked up, uncomfortable feelings they might also have don’t need to fester when they just might be fit for a truly killer rock song. --Listen to Cherry Glazerr’s newest record, I Don’t Want You Anymore, out now via Secretly. Catch Cherry Glazerr on tour next year and find dates at www.cherrryglazerr.com
Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS is Sort of a
Disappointment An Honest Review by
We all know Olivia Rodrigo. The ex-Disney star turned pop star overnight thanks to her hit single, driver’s license, which flooded the airwaves and TikTok for you pages back in 2021. Shortly after, she dropped “deja vu” and “good 4 u,” the latter of which cemented her spot in this so-called pop-punk revival. Amidst the flood of poorly written pop-punk songs that gained popularity on TikTok — most for being bad — such as Tramp Stamps’ “I’d Rather Die” and GAYLE’s “abcdefu,” Rodrigo’s attempt at pop punk was much more digestible and easy on the ears. Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR was met with commercial success and lots of love from fans. After the excitement of the pop star’s debut album and first tour, fans patiently waited for what was coming next. GUTS, Rodrigo’s sophomore album, was released on September 8th of this year. Her singles “vampire” and “bad idea right?” sparked a lot of online discoursespeculation about who her songs were about, especially “vampire,” and what caused this lyrical rage. It was almost reminiscent of the drama that ensued following the release of “driver’s license,” and was further charged by “deja vu.” The album stands at 39 minutes and has a tracklist of 12 songs, though the vinyl presses included secret hidden tracks. The album starts off with the punchy “allamerican bitch,” a feminist anthem where Rodrigo voices her frustrations with the unrealistic expectations put on women. Her “talky” delivery of lyrics backed by an electric guitar reminded me a lot of her SOUR track, “brutal” — similar theme, similar vibes, similar sound, similar song. The song itself is fine, though what really made it a flop for me was her attempt at “screaming” towards the end of the song. Rodrigo held herself back and refused to go all out, and instead resorted to a quiet, breathy scream that brought down the song and made it feel like a failed attempt at edginess. I couldn’t help but think of
Phoebe Briders’ shrieking in “I Know The End” or Ethel Cain’s painful scream in “Ptolomoea,” and notice how Rodrigo simply didn’t hit the mark. “bad idea right?,” another one of the singles, quickly rose to popularity on TikTok and was complimented by a beautiful, cinematic music video directed by Petra Collins. Despite the catchiness and hype, the song fell flat for me. Everyone loves a good “I’m still seeing my shitty ex” song, and the lyrics are quite cheeky. But, again, Rodrigo fails to go deeper. The lyrics sound like they were written by a Disney star who’s been allowed to use bad words. Rodrigo attempts to be very tongue-in-cheek, but it feels more like she’s holding herself back and now allowing herself to boldly talk about the topic of the song- hooking up with your ex. This results in a very teenager-ish and timid track. There’s no raunchiness or risk — it’s a very commercial, palatable track about hooking up with your ex. “vampire,” a cautionary tale of being preyed upon — both literally and metaphorically — was one of my favorite tracks from the album. What I believe makes this song better than the others, is that Rodrigo's storytelling in this track is so specific — it has an extremely personal element that her other songs lack. You can tell that this was written about a particular individual. I think this type
of songwriting is what helped make “driver’s license” and “deja vu” such hits — these songs also presented such an intimate story and all the little details that were important to her, which in turn helped give the listener insight into her mind and her life. Her songwriting on “vampire,” is a bit more imaginative and subtle compared to the rest of her discography- she uses language that really makes the listener understand what she went through, and it’s easy to sympathize with her. It’s a riveting tale and good storytelling. Rodrigo tears down her walls and defenses in “lacy,” another standout track for me. She lays out her insecurities for everyone to hear. Singing about perfect “lacy,” Rodrigo reveals her envy for this woman and reveals her own selfperceived flaws and the type of girl she wishes she could be. Like her work on “vampire,” what makes this track one of the better ones is that Rodrigo isn’t scared to strip down and reveal herself to the listener. She dishes out her insecurities and is honest. She admits that she’s no Lacy, and suggests it’s something
unattainable. It’s already such a relatable topic for any young woman or femme in the world, and she makes herself relatable by telling us that she feels the same way. Her self-pitying track, “ballad of a home schooled girl,” starts off fine with a nice guitar riff and classic pop-rock sound, but once her singing starts and you actually listen to the lyrics and process them, you realize just how poorly written the song is. It sounds like it was written by someone who was trying to emulate the mind of the average angry teenager — but totally failed. With phrases like “Everything I do is tragic, Every guy I like is gay,” it sounds less like meaningful songwriting and more like an attempt to engineer a trend-worthy audio snippet for TikTok. Her voice is also lacking on the track — the forced-bored, uninterested teen is giving faux angst. Her piano ballad “logical” was excruciatingly corny. It was my least favorite song on the record and it had some of the most simplistic and elementary lyrics I’d ever heard. “You got me thinking 2 plus 2 equals five, and I’m the love of your life…no love is never
logical…you lied you lied you lied.” It lacked any sense of depth or insight into her own connection to the theme of the song. It sounded less like a personal experience and more like a songwriter was tasked with writing a sad pop song about being used by a guy for (insert generic pop star).
from the album. Despite having a somewhat solid start, the album went so downhill. Frankly, half of the album was forgettable and lackluster — the songs were neither good nor bad; they simply didn’t stand out. The lyrics were so bland and unremarkable that a lot of the songs seemed to blend into each other.
“get him back” caught my attention because it initially stood out from the rest of the tracks. It had this folky sound that strayed away from Rodrigo’s sad popballad vibe and her commercial pop-rock sound as well. Her talk-singing and tone reminded me a bit of “Loser” by Beck. But the novelty of the track was short-lived as it inevitably lost its folksy charm after 40 seconds and morphed into another generic, pop-rock track.
I went into this album with a lot of hope — I wanted to love it so badly. Olivia Rodrigo is insanely cool and has established herself as an it-girl, always stunning the public with her grungy, alternative fashion choices and sweet demeanor. But, unfortunately, GUTS was sort of a flop. It felt like a sequel to SOUR- but not in an interesting or innovative way. It was more like an attempt to do the same thing and hope that it sticks with audiences. Rodrigo didn’t seem to grow at all after SOURneither lyrically or in terms of sound. She didn’t experiment or try anything new. She sang about the same things and same feelings, the only difference being the subjects or her songs and a heightened attempt of edginess that doesn’t feel natural or real. Of course, she’s still young and new to the game, and there isn’t a huge gap in time between both projectsso it makes sense why GUTS wasn’t as revolutionary or career-defining as I hoped it would be. Nevertheless, it was extremely disappointing.
“pretty isn’t pretty,” similar to “get him back,” was off to a great start because it was a bit different from the other tracks in the sense that it sounded less like Rodrigo’s other songs and more like an indie pop track. Unlike “get him back,” this sound was maintained throughout the entirety of the track. Though it did sound a bit like a lyrically bland, more upbeat version of “lacy,” “pretty isn’t pretty” was still a solid track that would be a perfect needle drop for a 2000s teen comedy. These were the most memorable songs
An with Yellowcard’s Sean Mackin: Looking Back on 20 Years of Ocean Avenue
Written By Ari Karnezis Photos By Ari Karnezis
Over the summer, pop punk fans across the U.S. experienced a blast from the past as Yellowcard embarked on a retrospective tour celebrating 20 years of their 2003 hit album, Ocean Avenue. From July 5th until August 18th, Yellowcard would perform Ocean Avenue in full as well as support their first release in nearly seven years, the five-song EP Childhood Eyes. Tour support would include fellow pop punk legends Mayday Parade and Story of the Year, as well as the self-proclaimed “Hot Topic Mumford & Sons” acoustic duo This Wild Life. Formed in 1997, Yellowcard consists of vocalist Ryan Key, violinist Sean Mackin, guitarist Ryan Mendez, bassist Josh Portman, and the band has recently toured with drummer Jimmy Brunkvist. After finding success with Ocean Avenue, the band cemented themselves as one of the most innovative and influential pop punk bands of the 21st century, and after a few breaks over the years, the band has now returned in full force. Shortly after this immense tour, violinist Sean Mackin took part in a short Q&A with us, reflecting on the last 20 years, how the band has grown, and what may be on the horizon. What was your initial reaction to Ocean Avenue’s success back in 2003? My initial reaction was shock and awe. It didn’t happen all at once, as I remember. “Way Away” was in this video game, then “Way Away” and “Ocean Avenue” were on the radio – then we were on MTV, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger into this giant snowball of a thing. I still look back with that same wonder and can’t believe we were a part of it. How have your songwriting (lyrical and instrumental) influences changed since writing Ocean Avenue?
Songwriting has changed immensely due to age and maturity, but we still rely on our initial love of rock ‘n roll to create Yellowcard songs. Much of the success of Ocean Avenue was attributed to MTV. Can you tell me from your perspective how the shift from video and television to streaming affected you as a part of the industry? There are so many factors that contribute to Yellowcard’s early success – most notably our fans, and their ravenous behavior to help get us to the next level. Back then there were also street teams made up of high school and college kids who would post flyers at their schools or call the radio and request our songs. Tell me about the general experience of playing these songs to so many fans for 20 years. Playing Ocean Avenue for these past 20 years has been life changing. It’s brought me to six continents and countless smiles in my whole life and I’m forever grateful. Looking back, have there been any changes to what the songs mean to you? A big change for me has been the song “Believe.” The original message of the song was very powerful, but we’ve made acquaintance with people in the military, armed forces and public service that have attached that song to harsh moments in their lives, and that evolution of the song and how helpful it has been to those people is really important to our band. Tell me a little about how this tour has been for you all so far and some of the people or fans you’ve met. This tour has been amazing – the biggest tour of our entire lives. It’s really shocking to have been idle for 7 years and come back to such an amazing warm welcome. It was fun to have the VIP sound check parties/experiences on the tour, where we were able to let some people kind of hear
what we do behind the curtain, and to have fans be onstage and get to see how powerful the audience is from that view. It was really special for us. You had a new EP, Childhood Eyes, come out just before the recent tour, your first release since reuniting in 2022. What have you learned since taking a break? I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned since Yellowcard took a break – and maybe it wasn’t
“learned” exactly – but I was just reminded of how many people love our band and our music. There was a sadness in 2016/17 because maybe we thought a good number of people overall didn’t care [about Yellowcard] – but now in 2023 it showed us how many people love and appreciate what we do. How would you describe the evolution of your sound over the years? I think the evolution of our sound is a tasteful updating and maturation while remaining true to a classic Yellowcard sound.
“This tour has
been amazing - the biggest tour of our entire lives” Can you tell me a little bit about what’s to come now after the release of Childhood Eyes and this celebratory tour? I can’t tell you because we don’t have a lot going on – I think moving forward, we’re able to focus on the quality of what we’re going to do, instead of just pure quantity, and I’m really excited about that. There have been a number of pop punk bands from local scenes who’ve greatly been inspired by you. Is there anything you’d like to say to those younger bands? I hope that they find something that is unique to their own band, and most importantly I hope that they work hard to fulfill all their hopes and dreams because no one is going to give anything to them. And good luck! And drive safely. Childhood Eyes is now available to stream everywhere, and fans can find the accompanying music video on YouTube.
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