by tori cote When I was in high school I worked in a bakery. While I loved the hustle and bustle and obviously the cupcakes, I wasn’t a fan of my fake-tannedtiffany-ringed female coworkers. In addition to their tanning, they all blasted country music and wore a lot of colorful crocs, so generally speaking I had probably one friend at the bakery. Therefore, I found myself in my own little world a lot and played with frosting for hours on end. I think after eating my 6th fruit tart of the day by myself and making an icing tower/ castle, I realized I could probably bake for myself without hearing about who got drunkest at Country Fest. I think that when some people are stressed they clean their house, get drunk, or make-out with a rando. While I have been known to do any of these things when I need a release, I found that baking makes me feel best. Music and baking are two things that have always made me feel a little bit better, so it’s only natural that I would enjoy listening to music and baking simultaneously. For me (and lets be real, for most people) high school mostly sucked. While a lot of my friends cried and had break downs because of the stress that comes with graduating high school, I found myself baking. And when I wasn’t baking, I was at shows. Baking was a way for me to create time in order to relax and find new music. The activity as a whole was a release for me. I guess in some ways I owe my sanity to strawberry muffins on Sundays and Amy Winehouse. Here’s a playlist for you and a recipe that makes my dad like me a little more. CHOCOLATE CHIP WALNUT COOKIES THAT ARE FROM THE INTERNET BUT WITH MY OWN SPIN: Ingredients: o 1 cup butter melted in the microwave (usually like 30 seconds) o 1 cup white sugar o 1 cup brown sugar o 2 eggs o 2 teaspoons vanilla extract o 3 cups all purpose flour o ½ teaspoon salt o 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (use lindt; thank me later) o 1 cup chopped walnuts (you can used half but flour will get stuck in the crack yet life goes on)
Directions: o Preheat oven 350 o Whisk together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar in a big bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Put the salt in your little potion. Now put in the flours, chocolate chips, and walnuts. o Your batter is probably going to be sticky but if you taste it, then you will see that it rules. Use a spoon and drop them on a greased oven sheet. They are going to look a little silly because they are too sticky too roll, but they are going to taste like a piece of heaven o Bake your babies for 10 minutes and check on them. Use some judgment; if they don’t look like they are done they give them another two minutes. I think you know how you like to eat your cookies am I right? o Kiss your cookies and then eat them.
THE BEST COOKIE PLAYLIST EVER: “Stronger Than Me” – Amy Winehouse “Hotel Song” – Regina Spektor “Click, Click, Click, Click” – Bishop Allen “Strawberry” – Paul Baribeau “Cat Fancy” – Tacocat “Elephant King” – Yellow Ostrich “Phonetics” – Reptar “Lovers Lane” – Hunx and his Punx “Burn Bridges” – Dom “Hey Willy” – Shannon and the Clams “Just a Girl” – No Doubt “Always on Time” – Ja Rule
Always remember, after you have made your treats and eaten to your hearts content, don’t forget to share your treats. I have found that giving my friends yummy treats makes both my friends and I pretty happy. The act of giving away something that you made from scratch is rewarding for both parties. The giver is happy to share what they have created, and the receiver is honored to have something that someone has put hard work into. I’m not saying that you can’t eat ten cookies, but maybe give one of your besties a cookie too. Even though people say that they don’t have a sweet tooth, I am convinced that there is a baked good for everyone in the world. People come together to eat breakfast, dinner, and lunch so it only seems natural that they could come together to eat a scone. It’s important to create but it’s also important to share. Sharing is caring. Now eat up.
cassette essentials by rafael grafals
What I’m presenting here is a small list of my cassette essentials, or in other words, some of my favorite tracks from some of my favorite tapes released by some of my favorite labels. There’re a lot of favorites going on here. I love everything on this list with all my heart so enjoy! PS: To make this more fun for everyone, every cassette mentioned in this list is still available for sale through the labels mentioned / will be available soon. Infinity Crush – “stumble pretty” (stumble pretty - Songs From The Road Records [Out of Print], Rerelease on Birdtapes Soon) The title track from Infinity Crush’s first tape release remains as one of my favorite songs to come from the Maryland duo. “stumble pretty” is one of the few songs on this tape that features Dan Cordero on harmonies and those few moments always pay off. Lyrically we’re graced with some of Caroline’s best work and while the recording is noticeably more lofi than other Infinity Crush tracks, that lofi sound just offers a bit of charm. gossimer – “On Glass” (Brioche Rib - Holy Page Records) Brioche Rib’s opening track is nothing short of stunning, featuring some beautiful guitar tones and a clarinet accompaniment that feels more than welcome. Jennifer’s layered vocals offer a haunting touch to this already perfectly crafted song. While “On Glass” flaunts its minimal sound there’s still a lot to love about it and it all comes down to Jennifer’s attention to detail and texture. Brioche Rib seems to be gossimer’s debut album with her bandcamp only housing demo versions of tracks from this album. With such a stunning debut I’m looking forward to whatever she releases next. TV Girl – “Laura” (Lonely Women EP - Self Released) These LA pop geniuses dropped the Lonely Women EP earlier this year and “Laura” proves to be one of the standouts. This song alone highlights what TV Girl is so good at doing. The melodies and leads are ridiculously catchy and with lines like “But if we’re only gonna die / Or worse get middle aged / Then what’s the use?” they show they’re not scared to throw a bit of humor into their art. Camp Counselors – “02/05/11” (Huntress -Snowbeast Records) Seeing as Camp Counselors is a side project of Kyle Reigle (Cemeteries), I was fully expecting Huntress to contain the haunting and eerie elements of his previous work. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the blissful ambience and electronic driven production found all over this album. Once you give it a listen you start to wonder why Kyle wasn’t doing this all along. Reigle’s vocals seem like a perfect fit for the dense, lush synthesizers at work on this album and I feel like “02/05/11” displays this best. It’s a gorgeous listen from start to finish. Mandarin Dynasty – “Stark Ivory” (Perpendicular Crosstalk - Bridgetown Records) Perpendicular Crosstalk came out a while back but seeing as there are still copies left over on Bridgetown Records I was happy to be able to add it to this list. “Stark Ivory” is another one of those tracks that displays a lot of a band’s character and works as a perfect introduction to their music. Retro pop influences are found all over this song as well as harmonized humming and backing finger snapping. Much like the rest of Perpendicular Crosstalk, “Stark Ivory” is charming in its production and sound. Lyrics feel especially strong here (“Drag a razor across my face / To impress – No, for my own sake”) and toward the end we get some glitchy and distorted effects for good measure.
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Single of the
This week’s pick comes from the 7” Julia Brown released with Birdtapes. It features studio recordings of a few songs, including “Library.” It serves as a nice contrast to the original recording. It holds the same sentiment from a different perspective. Enjoy at cool.bandcamp.com! 6
brown an interview by the miscreant
Julia Brown have spent recent weeks on the road, touring along good friends, with tapes and 7”s in tow. The band has received notability with lovely pop songs like “Library.” They boast beautiful instrumental arrangements, and distinct recordedto-tape analog approach to their music. It’s no surprise that they have caught the ears of so many fans, along with fans of other projects associated with the group.
Here, Sam talks about the band’s recording processes, their favorite bands, and their friends who they make music with. Enjoy Julia Brown’s music on their Bandcamp at cool.bandcamp.com. 8
The Miscreant: How did you guys all meet? Sam Ray: Well, I met John and Alec through some mutual friends a few years ago and we started hanging out a lot after that. I’ve known Caroline since around 2008-2009, when I was getting ready to graduate high school. She went to school nearby and we’d talked on Myspace (haha) about each other’s music before playing something together. We worked together some after that before falling out of touch until around the same time I met Alec and John. Dan I’ve known since we were both in 8th grade. We were best friends since then but both moved away for a long time (New York, Boston, Florida, and North Carolina, between us) before Dan finally came home to Maryland this winter and joined the band.
The Miscreant: Who is Julia Brown, your namesake? Sam: A friend! We just wanted to use her name since it’s a lovely name for a band and she was gracious enough to let us.
The Miscreant: How would you describe the scene where you are in Maryland? How does Julia Brown fit in? Sam: I would probably describe it as “not great”, thought it’s not terrible or really bad either. I don’t think we really fit in with much going on at all, but I don’t dislike what’s going on either. I love the more experimental side of things in Baltimore, but aside from that there’s not a lot that that’s interesting. There just isn’t a lot happening in Maryland. I’m hoping to move to New York (where else?) in our future but that depends on money (and in other members cases, school and leases and etc) so we’ll see. The people in Maryland are wonderful though, and until recently so were some of the show spaces/DIY venues before they almost all got shut down.
The Miscreant: Who would you describe as your main musical influences? Who have you each been listening to a lot lately? Sam: If I had to give an abridged list of bands… probably Cotton Candy Collective/Laurel, Rocketship, The Unicorns, Attic Abasement, Coma Cinema, Pants Yell!, Beat Happening, Heavenly, The Wrens, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (the first album & tape club in particular), and a ton of others hm. There’s too many different things in my life musically, it usually comes back to pop music of some kind (particularly the weird, affected lofi kind I
guess, judging from this list). Sarah Records & K/Slumberland always factor big into things. Aside from that, I’m always listening to a lot of other stuff, from r&b/rap (the only two genres i really keep up with religiously) and general radio pop, Taylor Swift, the like. Aside from Yeezus, the new Freddie Gibbs album is probably one of the best things that’s come out this year. The new Shannon & the Clams, new Colleen Green, new Hunx. Pretty much everything Hardly Art’s touched this year has been genius. The new Zomby album is phenomenal. Ciara’s Body Party still hasn’t gotten old, somehow. I went through a three week period where I only listened to Julie Doiron (and Eric’s Trip). Drake’s been killing me with new singles (Girls Love Beyonce!!) and I’m excited about his album. Beyonce’s “Grown Woman” leak (why is that not a single already?). Shlohmo & Jeremih was probably the most exciting collaboration this year for me & I’m still playing the song. I wish I could even begin to do justice to what I’m listening to lately but I can barely even sum it up this much.
The Miscreant: You guys are pretty big proponents of analog media. What was your gateway into vinyl and tapes? Did you come into it on your own or rifle through your parents’ collection? Sam: My parents each had a modest collection of records (my mom’s was actually quite cool, with a lot of new wave/no wave and punk stuff, Ian Drury, Jim Carroll’s band, etc) but I don’t think it really had any impact on me. By the time I was interested in music on any kind of personal level, the record player we owned (and the speakers with it) were broken anyway. I think I really got into analog stuff when I started releasing music online in like 2010 or so. That’s when I learned there was a whole culture of music and art beyond what was typically considered “underground” or whatever. Pitchfork wasn’t the end all, be all of “hip” music (though I don’t discredit Pitchfork at all) and any rad blog I came across might introduce me to something totally unique and cool I’d never have heard otherwise. And a lot of the time, I could reach out and talk to any of the people releasing it and get to know them, maybe work together, or just learn from them. So many of these albums and eps were being released as tapes too, through cool labels often run by people I knew as well. All of this combined made it very easy to justify spending ~5 dollars on a tape for music that I loved, wanted to support, wanted to own, etc. And when I could, I’d buy records with the same justification. But the idea of directly supporting an artist or label I love and respected, while also having something to own was super exciting and I still think it’s so important. Records (and tapes) shouldn’t just be cheap little commodities, in my mind. They’re things to hold, collect, and connect to. Physical releases should be beautiful, with the same amount of
love & effort put into the actual physical product and packaging as is put into the music on it. Why release it otherwise? I guess I got into tapes, records, etc because I love the idea that music is still art, and not disposable. I don’t want to make disposable music, so I don’t want to relegate my music solely to a disposable medium.
The Miscreant: Each of the songs on to be close to you was recorded on tape in a different place, at different times. Where were some of the songs recorded? Sam: Well, not every song was in a different place, but there were certainly a lot of places that came into play. Our friend Abby’s house in North Philly was a big part of it – recording there in this big empty room in the winter and fall. My own bedroom, basement, etc. My mom’s house, alone, in winter. Alec and John’s house in College Park, in the winter. Drums there. Drums at my house. Etc. Whenever friends were around, we’d try and get them involved. “Hey, sing this vocal part with us,” “Hey, play keyboard on this if you don’t wanna sing.” We even got our friend Justin Blackburn (who is an incredible, incredible poet & writer) to record the coda to the opening track simply cause he was there. He just cackled, and we kept it, cause it’s great. I got kind of obsessed with involving everyone I liked in the project. I waited for my friend Aaron (who I’ve known since high school but he currently lives in Philly) to come home and visit so I could have him record a harmony on “tv show.” I waited for weeks. He came home, and he ended up having to go to the doctor, then falling asleep all day the next day. I was going insane. I wanted to finish the song. But I forced myself to wait, and I’m glad I did. Aaron and I have been singing together since we were kids – since before I even learned to sing. He’s got the most beautiful voice and I’ve never found one that blended better with my own. I love the portability involved with lo-fi recording, and I hope to utilize that again in whatever we do next – even if it’s less portable than just a boombox/ tape player, I want to involve a lot of friends in the project. That’s kind of how it’s been for me since high school. I wanted to be close to you to be a kind of DIT (do it together) album with all the people I’d been making and writing and recording music with since I was a kid and all the others who joined in along the way (like Mat and Delaney from Coma Cinema, or Abby and Ryan from Pill Friends, etc).
The Miscreant: On your two releases, to be close to you and the studio 7”, you present listeners with two very distinctive sounds. How do you hope listeners interact with the lo-fi and hi-fi versions differently?
Sam: Our plan as a band was always to establish our intent/sound/etc with a sort of lo-fi love letter, mission statement, whatever. to be close to you was originally intended to be a sort of four song or less “demo” but the instant I finished the first track for it, I knew it was going to be a lot more than just a demo. I was in love with the sound – I still am. John was actually in Mexico for awhile while we were recording, or getting ready to record most of it, so while waiting for him to come home and record drums for “library” and “i’m falling in love,” I ended up recording a ton of other songs that made their way onto the release. It just kind of ballooned into this big thing and I’m so happy it did. Anyway, our plan was to release a 4 track or less lo-fi thing, then a more studio-recorded hi-fi thing (probably an album). We ended up doing it backwards, with a lo-fi album (almost album, anyway) and hi-fi 7”. The sounds are very different, though the core writing and ethic is very similar. Both releases involve tons of our friends (including recording the 7” our friend Sean Mercer, who I’ve been working with since I was 16). The biggest thing that recording hi-fi allows is room for the arrangements to grow & be fully heard/appreciated. Since I’m in love with arranging songs and on to be close to you it all kind of lost itself in a blurry rush of sound, it was nice to get to experiment with more clarity. It also taught me so much about recording, arranging, singing, etc. I don’t really want for anyone to look at the two releases as exclusive – like “Library” existing on both doesn’t mean one version of “Library” isn’t the real version, or one is the demo. The hi-fi version (and 7” all around) definitely give a better indication of our live show, to the extent you can actually hear drums, bass, etc, and I think that’s nice probably, but I’m in no way trying to negate the charm of the original recordings either, or turn my back on that method.
The Miscreant: What made you choose to record those certain songs in the studio? Before we released to be close to you we’d already decided what songs to record – “Library” was the first choice, since we all kind of felt it no longer fit with to be close to you and would definitely benefit from a better quality recording. Before we did to be close to you with a boombox, we were going to record it with a 4 (or 8) track and have it more properly mastered. I still think that would have fit “Library” better than the boombox, but it was the last song we recorded and I like carrying an aesthetic across a release. So, we worked it in, and we were happy with it, but definitely felt it deserved a better version still. We chose “I wanna be a witch” for a similar reason – the original being a really roughly arranged guitar-guitar- tambourine song done through a tape player. We’d been playing a live version of it with cello, viola, glockenspiel, and more structured & lush harmonies since before we broke up teen suicide, and it was always our intention to give it a proper recording one day. “The
way you want” was actually done just for fun/to get done without the intention of being on the 7” but we loved the recording so much we snuck it on anyway.
The Miscreant: How did you get connected to Birdtapes? Sam: Again, when we were still working as teen suicide, Tyler approached us about doing a 7” release of our ep goblin problems and since one of our dreams was to have a 7” pressed, we followed up on it with him even though his label was brand new, etc. We met up in Brooklyn during CMJ in 2012 and he was awesome and incredibly knowledgeable about it all, so we went ahead with it and it was the smartest decision we’ll ever make, probably. When it came time to release the Julia Brown cassettes (and plan the JB 7”) it was only natural to continue working with him. Working with Tyler is a dream.
The Miscreant: You’re currently on some tour dates with Coma Cinema/Elvis Depressedly. Who are some other bands you’ve been playing with regularly? Sam: Hmmm, I don’t know if there are any we play with too regularly. We play with Alex G a lot when we can (he rules). There’s not a lot going on, so at this point we mostly jump on shows when our friends are around. There are a lot of bands I’d love to get to play with more regularly, though, like High Pop, Mutual Benefit, Olive Drab, Yohuna, pretty much everyone who was at FMLY Fest Brooklyn (and Boston).
The Miscreant: Since releasing to be close to you, you’ve toured around the East coast; do you have plans to play any shows nationally? Sam: It would be a dream come true, but I’m pretty much never booking any tour again until we have some kind of agent, because booking a tour on your own (or with only help from friends) is hell. Not really, but it’s been a pretty tough process that I think took a lot out of everyone involved. And we haven’t even played it yet. But wow, I would love to play all over the country, west coast, Canada, even Europe, wherever. The world. Traveling rules. I’m excited just to get to see a few places I’ve never been before this summer.
The Miscreant: What else does the future hold for Julia Brown? Sam: Who knows!!!! Hopefully good things.
Missing you by olivia cellamare
When my girlfriend left to go on holiday my first thought was, “How am I going to get to the station on Monday?” I’m used to her obnoxiously loud alarm (she can sleep through it, I have no idea how) It is like a foghorn; utterly vile to hear. Especially at 7.30am. She left on Friday. Early Saturday afternoon I realised I was going to be without the person who keeps me as normal as a person can be. I’ve also learnt the words to songs I probably shouldn’t know the words to. I cried at a documentary about turtles. I even ended up finding the first 3 minutes of the new One Direction video hilarious. Being left alone for this amount of time hasn’t really gone in my favour; I’m just glad I have a job to go to because otherwise...well, let’s not go there. This is for those who find themselves without their love for a few days. Who seem to watch turtle documentaries and weep. Come Sunday I realised I could make the most of being home alone. I could finally kick start my Hip Hop career that never was. But as you are about to find out; it didn’t just stop with Hip Hop. 10. Pharcyde – “Runnin’” // I think I just sat and had this on repeat. I couldn’t move. I listened to it over and over. I repeated my favourite parts and harmonised on the “Can’t keep runnin’ away” part. I’ve loved Pharcyde for as long as I can remember, and I challenge anyone to not relate to even just one of their songs. Especially the brilliant Passin’ Me By. I didn’t choose that song because that’s been recited by me far too many times. I’m just glad no one has heard. The saxophone part in Runnin’ is insane. My girlfriend has a saxophone in her wardrobe. I am tempted to take my rendition to a new level. 9. Sunshine Anderson – “Heard It All Before” // She had a song called Lunch Or Dinner; that was a delight also. I have some strange dance to this, I can’t describe it but it is for the best that no one ever sees it. However when I sing this, I feel in my heart that I am Sunshine Anderson. I sing every part- the backing vocals are given a lot of attention. Sunshine’s ad-libs aren’t ignored either by me. Totally generous. I urge anyone who hasn’t heard this song in a while to just play it SO loud and pretend that you are mad at someone. That truly makes the performance of this. 8. Mary J Blige – “Real Love” // She started a movement with this song that I grew up on. There is so much that I love about this song, but you have to just sing your heart out on the chorus. It doesn’t matter if you sound awful. Just watch the video and learn the dance routine. If you want to sing awfully at the same time too, then maybe we should start a group. Can it just be 1992 again please?! 7. De La Soul – “Buddy” // Any song that features Q-Tip, Jungle Brothers, Monie Love AND Queen Latifah has just GOT to be one of the best songs ever. When I rap along to it, I take it upon myself
to do every verse. I know some parts more than others. So of course I have used my week alone wisely to learn this song off by heart. One verse to go. This song has everyone I loved in Hip Hop on it. Especially Monie Love. “I won’t lie. I love B-U-D-D-Y.” Brilliant. 6. D’Angelo – “Brown Sugar” // Quite frankly the most attractive man EVER. EVER. Even when he let himself go a bit, D’Angelo was still one beautiful man. His music has the same level of soul that is found in the greats, you know who they are. The smoky Jazz club vibe it has is incredible. You nod your head in time and wish you were as cool as D’Angelo. His debut record is one that I still treasure, and this song is perfect to sing to when you try and cook a meal for one. I just really really love D’Angelo. 5. Mos Def – “Ms. Fat Booty” // Mos Def will ALWAYS be one of my favourite Hip Hop artists. Black On Both Sides is one of the best records ever made. Everything he has done outside of music has been incredible. He’s an inspirational figure with something of worth to say. This isn’t my favourite of his, but it is one I really enjoy attempting to rap along to. Personally, I feel like I do a good job. “Playing Sade’s Sweetest Taboo, all my other plans got cancelled.” YES. 4. A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario” // Purely for Busta Rhymes’ verse; this song is amazing to recite in the living room whilst cleaning. It’s amazing to recite at any time. But Busta’s verse on this is INSANE. A Tribe Called Quest is probably my favourite Hip Hop group. The way they go back and forth with their lyrics makes it difficult for you to decide if you’re going to be Phife or Q-Tip. Just go for the sensible option-be both! 3. Foxy Brown – “Foxy’s Bells” // I can recite this word for word. I’m sort of proud of this. I love her husky voice and the way she just didn’t care; she will always be one of the best female rappers ever. She had a style that was distinctive and it is obvious that so many still try and copy what she does. They never will. Pretty sure I could. In fact I do, when no one is around....”Shine like Pledge.” WHAT. 2. Aaliyah – “More Than A Woman” // It isn’t my favourite Aaliyah song, but it is the one I know the dance routine for. Sometimes I don’t feel like singing or rapping by myself. Sometimes I just want to have a nice dance. She’s my favourite female singer of all time (and yes I have an Aaliyah tattoo that I wear with pride!) and I firmly believe that style of music she made was ahead of her time, and since her death R&B just hasn’t been the same. One In A Million proved that she was doing something so futuristic, and will always be one of the best R&B records ever made. The dance routine to More Than A Woman is one of her easiest routines, perfect for those who are clumsy movers! 1. Mariah Carey - “Dreamlover” // 90s Mariah is the best thing. From Emotions to Fantasy; every song is wonderful. Even the ballads are excellent. However there is one song that just makes me move my limbs in a questionable fashion- Dreamlover. I learnt the dance routine to this when I was younger. I may have tried to do it again this week. I only know certain parts, and I think it is for the best if I keep it that way. Just for now. I’m not ready for a world tour just yet.
TYPHOON WAVES by kaycie miltenberger
There is music I like because it makes me want to dance. There is music I like because it is beautiful. There is music I like because it is silly. There is music I just don’t like. But then there is music that moves me. It is binding, terrifying, painful, irresistible, haunting and altogether breathtaking. I can’t let go of music like that, regardless of the heinous associations it inevitably has. That music, those musicians know something incredibly personal, something I had never before been able to articulate, feelings I never wanted to acknowledge. Music like this makes me sweat, it makes me tremble and it distresses me a great deal. I would, of course, prefer to pretend the feelings this music evokes never happened, but it is nothing short of a necessity. This is the music that has kept me alive in the most trying times. There are artists who do me a service in writing one song that is powerful enough for me to take interest in their other work. Then there are those who consistently produce lyrics time and time again that violate me, bathing in my vulnerability. Typhoon is the champion of this violation. An eleven-member ensemble hailing from the great Portlandia, Typhoon knows a thing or two about the human condition. Their first two albums, Hunger and Thirst and A New Kind of House, got me through what was hands-down the most difficult year of my life. They were everything I needed. From “Summer Home” to “Starting Over.” the music gave me all the room to grieve I needed and then seamlessly got me back on track--by which I mean, out of bed. As I eagerly await the release of their forthcoming album White Lighter, I can only hope their success comes in droves. The two released tracks “Dreams of Cannibalism” and “Young Fathers” are nothing short of masterpieces. Perhaps with eleven band members you are guaranteed success, but I’m convinced it’s something more than that. It’s a group of people who have really felt things in their lives. The music will move you. Listen.
WHAT I THINK FESTIVALS ARE LIKE by heather newkirk
#realtalk: I have never been to a music festival before. I’ve always wanted to, but it’s always been an issue of timing, money, and/or distance. There was never one line-up that I was really thrilled about. I keep telling myself that one day the perfect line-up will come sneaking onto my doorstep, and I will pack up everything and run to it, but until then, this is how I imagine it to be: It’s 3PM and I’m sweating. I can’t do anything but sweat because I’ve been in and out of crowds since maybe 10AM, but I can’t remember because I’m still a little fuzzy on this morning. I think I might still be drunk now, but I have to remember to try to stay alert because Friend #1 decided to pop a Molly or eat a shroom or try some up and coming drug that I’m too out of the loop to know about. Friend #2 politely declined on Friend #1’s drugs, but did indulge in a pot brownie. The sun is beating down on us as we bop our bodies to the bass line, trying to ignore the girls in front of
us who are getting a little too into it. The guys aren’t much better. The guys are either awkwardly nodding their heads, or dancing irregularly against the beat. It’s endearing to #2 as she looks on at a group of friends dancing in their own little circle. The band line-up is filled with groups that we all sort of know. There’s that band that has a single that’s played in every commercial nowadays, and the band that played a Tiny Desk concert that your friend sent to us. There’s that rapper who’s trying to stay relevant, and there’s that washedup rock band that peaked while we were in middle school. There’s that woman who’s crazy talented with instruments, but is completely overlooked by mainstream radio. There’s the duo that only uses computers. There’s the band that you’ve been telling me to listen to for months, but I just couldn’t get into. There’s the guy who sings in a range much higher than mine, but it’s oddly soothing. Decisions, decisions. After the concert ends, I struggle to move onto the next performance because a heavily tattooed man walked by, and you know that he didn’t shower. HOW CAN THEY CHARGE FOR SHOWERS? That has to be illegal in some way. The air is filled with weed, cigarette smoke, and body odor; all in all, not an ideal situation. Waif-like girls walk by in crop tops and short shorts, and men in heavy glasses and plaid button ups follow. Everyone has at least one tattoo or five piercings, and everyone is willing to tell you about them. I turn around to try and find Friend #1 and #2. #1’s not looking too hot and has resorted to lying on what used to be a nice patch of grass. She stares into the sun as people step around her in their Toms and their Birkenstocks and their Chucks. #2 has started chatting with a man with a purse. They’re talking about how much they love the next band, how the discography has inspired their lives, how they had seen the lead singer before and felt an instant connection. He shows her a strange tattoo of an owl eating a scroll, and tries to explain its obscure reference to a song. All I want to do is lie down in a vat of ice, but I scoop #1 off of the ground and motion for #2 to get a number or get moving. We settle into the next crowd, and the sun is setting. We barely make it in time to hear the get a good spot. All of the lights lower except for one. The drum starts out slowly, and the guitar begins to play a familiar hook over and over again. The crowd is electric and our collective mouths start grinning. We know what song this is. Eyes widen, feet start tapping, and heads start bobbing. I excitedly jump up and down as soon as the beat picks up, and sing every word at the top of my lungs, just like everyone else. I look around at this mélange of sweaty, dirty, happy people and somehow I feel right at home.
WHAT I THINK pitchfork WAS LIKE by cassandra baim The last time we spoke, I treated you to my last moments in Syracuse before I hit the open road to start a new life in Brooklyn. However I took a bit of a detour between central New York and the big city to travel back to my homeland—the great city of Chicago for the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival. I almost didn’t go, knowing that I would no longer be calling Chicago home, but then Pitchfork released their headliners: Bjork, Belle & Sebastian, and R. Kelly. The opportunity to see one of the most formative bands of my adolescence and an R&B legend/walking punch line in the same weekend? I’ll take it.
I joined a few of my close friends and wandered around Union Park for three days catching the sets of over twelve amazing bands. Friday started with Woods. They took the time during their set to have long instrumental interludes that offered some of the best harmonica playing I’ve heard in recent memory. Perpetually adorable wood nymph/harpist Joanna Newsom played some of the least dance-able music of the weekend, but held her audience at rapt attention for her entire set with her incredible voice and humble stage presence. Her fifty-minute set had many of her old songs, including my favorite “Sadie,” and a few new ones. She joked about playing mostly her older songs, saying, “You didn’t come here to hear my new ones.” Twenty-three year old Canadian Mac DeMarco kept the audience entertained with jokes between songs and a hilarious medley of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Metallica, The Beatles, and Limp Bizkit. Björk, the Friday headliner, had nothing short of an epic performance. I know one Björk song (“Hyperballad,” the only song that other peripheral Björk listeners know as well), but I still enjoyed her set thanks to her costume (I didn’t know where the glittery feathers ended and her body began), special effects, and humility. After every song, she said “Thank you!” in this high-pitched voice that was so cute I felt the urge to put her in my pocket and keep her with me forever. When the festival executives cut her performance by twenty minutes due to continuous lighting and thunder overhead, she announced to the audience “We Icelandic think this is nothing.” Savages, a post-punk revival band comprised entirely of four badass women, killed it on Saturday afternoon. I felt a little hazy during their set and had to step away from the crowd, but I felt their rock n’ roll power reverberate through the entire park. I meandered over to the other side of the park to catch Low before running back to hear The Breeders. Though I wish Kim Deal hadn’t left The Pixies, I loved their set. Saturday’s standout was Belle & Sebastian. I’ve been a huge fan of the twee superstars since my early teenage years, and I felt like I’d waited a lifetime to see them live. They opened with “Judy Is a Dick Slap,” and played everyone’s favorite songs from Dear Catastrophe
Waitress, Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, The Boy With the Arab Strap, If You’re Feeling Sinister, and The Life Pursuit. Everyone on stage seemed elated to be there, and Stuart Murdoch pulled about fifteen people from the audience on stage to do some backup dancing during “The Boy with the Arab Strap.” When they closed with “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” and did “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” as an encore, I admit I wept a little (ahem, a lot. “It’s just the rain!” I shouted at my friend who pointedly stared at the tears streaming down my face at the end of the night). I got to the park early on Sunday to get up close and personal with Waxahatchee, the moniker of songwriter Katie Crutchfield. Waxahatchee provided the summer soundtrack for my roommate and I, and we stood and watched her play from her heart as her adorable twin sister sang along to every word from the VIP area to the right of the stage. Sadly, I had to miss the second half of her set to run across the park to see the timeless Yo La Tengo, who proved that rock and roll has no age limit. The weekend ended with a literal bang (pun absolutely intended). We waited in anticipation for R&B living legend R. Kelly to perform. When he did, he was decked out in a dazzling sparkled shirt and accompanied by a large gospel choir. His set was nothing short of spectacular. He opened with the kitchen-dancing favorite “Ignition Remix,” and then performed all of his hits (including quite a few songs I knew well without even knowing they were his). He made up songs on the fly, referencing the sexual nature of his music, and showing complete disregard for any authority that tried to censor his lyrics and performance. His enthusiasm for his performance matched the audience’s, everyone was there to party, and he delivered. He ended with “I Believe I Could Fly,” and as hundreds of doveshaped balloons flew through the air, I too believed I could fly. As the park cleared, the first part of “Trapped in the Closet” played over the loudspeaker, and I felt really fortunate to have witnessed such a legendary performance. Pitchfork represents everything I love about Chicago—it’s clean, it’s organized, and everyone (artists and attendees) is beyond elated to be there. I hadn’t been to Chicago in about seven months,
and I forgot how friendly we are when we’re grouped together. As I waited for Waxahatchee to start, a nice young man in front of me offered to trade spots so I could see the stage better. He was generous and friendly, striking up a conversation with my friend and I about our various festival experiences, and how Pitchfork compares to Chicago’s other festival, the massive three-day marathon Lollapalooza. More than everything I love about Chicago, Pitchfork represents everything I love about festivals and concerts in general. I love live music more than anything, and I’m always looking for opportunities to go to the concerts of the bands I love, and shows for bands I haven’t even heard of, so I can continue to expand my personal music library. Pitchfork is welcoming to both artists and attendees, and offers so much of what is possibly my favorite aspect of live music: camaraderie. Nothing makes me feel more connected to music than sharing it with the thousands of other fans that surround me. Even though the festival is sponsored by the blog well known for being one of the more authoritative (others say “pretentious”) figures in music, none of that mattered. At the end of the day it wasn’t about who heard it first, or the whether the record scored a five out of ten or a ten out of ten, it’s about hearing the music you love for the first time or the fiftieth, and sharing it with people who care about it as much as you do.
Cassandra’s Dream Pitchfork Fest Line Up 2014 Green Stage: Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, Grizzly Bear Red Stage: Mates Of State, M. Ward, The Submarines Blue Stage: Night Beds, Cayucas, Majical Cloudz 23
In Which I Ponder Homesickness by joe makowski
In May of this year I made my first ever mixtape and I am truly sorry. For all of my DIY evangelism, for all of the spray paint and hair gel I went through in my adolescence, I had never once recorded a cassette tape for another human being until now. The tape in question is thirty minutes long and begins with a song called “Kamikaze” by the Teenage Burritos. As an introduction, I included a recording of Jello Biafra rambling at a concert in 1982. The Teenage Burritos are probably the greatest living rock and roll band and you should go watch them play tonight. Prior to this endeavor, I moved from New York to Texas. Rochester to Dallas. In the days preceding my departure, I promised myself that I was smart, flexible, and that I would be fine living on the wrong side of the country. It wasn’t until my plane banked wide over the DFW metroplex that I realized the depth of that fallacy. My home had been forest, lake, and rolling hillside. North Texas presented itself to me as a dusty brown flatland for hundreds of miles in every direction. Scant on vegetation, but abundant in six lane highways and luxury cars. I immediately knew that I was insignificant in this place and that shook me. It had only taken six hours to remove myself from my city, my university, a cozy apartment, unrequited love, and the worst academic quarter in recent memory. I was confused and I had a cold. The cold was actually an allergic reaction to Texas’ native flora and would linger for weeks. My credit card was pushing its limit and I knew next to nothing about my new job. I didn’t want to be here, but I didn’t want to be at home either. I quickly established a simple routine. I would punch the clock during the week, then spend the weekend seeking out people like me. I wanted to find and befriend every single Texan with a love of reverb and pizza. On a whim, I drove to the spring festivals in Denton and Austin and snuck into shows. I ate a double double from In-N-Out and ordered my fries animal style. I finally got to hang with Burger Records and I encountered the nicest people while I was homeless at SXSW. I compulsively interviewed every band I could get in front of my pocket Tascam and, in a span of days, danced to more performances and met more musicians than I had in my entire life previously. But I was alone. And I wouldn’t let myself forget it.
Ultimately, I think that is what led me to the mixtape project. I had encountered many new bands and exotic ideas and yet had nobody to share them with. I’ve been radio DJ since high school and losing my audience has been uncomfortable to say the least. I hoped that making a kickass tape and mailing it to my friends back home would allow me to continue sharing the weird and wonderful music I find as well as create a tangible connection between myself and the people I care about. I had also been watching High Fidelity a lot, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. The next step was to simply buy a tape deck, order a few dozen blanks, and hide in my bedroom for a weekend taping, tweaking, and retaping. When I couldn’t bear to listen anymore, I made six copies and mailed them to friends in five different cities back on the East Coast. The project assumed the name “Baloney Tapes” and in the liner notes I included whatever stray thoughts were occurring to me as I listened to each tape get dubbed. Once the packages were mailed, I assumed that everyone would hate all of it and that I would consequently lose all of my friends. The song selection would be too predictable, the transitions too clumsy, and the mood of Side B would be too morose. Fortunately, that was not the case and it’s now the end of July. I’m preparing to head back to the northeast and I’ve just finished my third tape in what has become a monthly release. Unbelievably, there are now a dozen people who actually want to listen to playlists curated by me. I still do not really understand it, but I’m working on my fourth and final tape as I write. I could not be more in love with what is, by all outward appearances, an idle hobby of a wayward northerner lost in Texas. Tapes rule.
BALONEY TAPES #1 A 01 02 03 04 05
Teenage Burritos High Pop Dumb Talk Hunx Gap Dream
B 01 02 03 04 05 06
Whatever, Dad “Warsh” Modest Mouse “Mice Eat Cheese” Eternal Summers “You Kill” The Lovely Bad Things “Honeycomb Cocoon” Modern Baseball “Look Out” Shannon and the Clams “Sleep Talk”
“Kamikaze” “ssSips” “Drag Queen Racer” “Your Love Is Here to Stay” “Generator”
illustrated by DIANE BAYMORE
Nothing’s Sweeter than Summertime by mary luncsford
I wish we’d find this cemetery already, I think as we wind through the back roads of Indiana, and Lanie says to put on “American Honey.” I was miserable when the summer started. The whole last month of school slipped past in a sort of stressful blur with a lot of tears and anxiety and longing, like everyone’s high school graduation, right? While this sounds like the beginning of some coming-of-age tale about THEBESTSUMMEREVER, it really isn’t. It’s been an average summer i.e. sleeping in, binge-watching shows, and riding bikes. The only distinction is it’s my last summer as a kid, and even then, I don’t feel like much of a kid. In a lot of ways, I’m still pretty miserable. I am in this major transitioning point in my life that I have to pretend to be excited about or else people look at me funny. There are really two things that have made this summer worth something. That would be music (duh) and my friends. I have a lot of really supportive friends, but I want to talk about the four that I find myself with on most days of the week. Lanie, Kelly, Hannah, Julia and I have basically been glued together since the beginning of summer. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. It just sort of worked out in that way the universe does when it gives you exactly what you are going to need to keep chugging onward. It is with these girls (minus Julia who is busy studying at Yale (Yeah, I know.)) that I went on my first road trip without parental supervision. We drove up to Michigan and spent a day by the lake, followed by a night of sleeping in a cramped car while raccoons stole our breakfast supplies. We’ve seen movies together, made various baked creations, eaten a lot of ice cream, talked about boys, and thrown a lot of arm punches. We’ve spent countless hours trying to find Stepp Cemetery, because what else are four teenage girls in Indiana going to do at three in the morning? It was on one such excursion that we listened to “American Honey,” by Lady Antebellum. There was something just right about the sticky summer night and the windows rolled down driving along to this song. It’s all about the good old days and growing up. “She couldn’t wait to get going, but wasn’t quite ready to leave.” Leave it to a country song to say exactly what needs to be said. And just like that, we had our undeclared anthem. I think that’s my favorite part of summer: Listening to music in car rides with good friends. It doesn’t matter what time of day or really where we’re headed. This is what summer, and I assume most of the good parts of life are like. Not worried about where we are. Only who we’re with. When this summer started, I fully expected to be lonely and sad and to wait patiently for whatever awaits me in the fall, but now we only have a month left together, and I don’t want it to end. I’m afraid of losing this group, this feeling that the ordinariness of the summer is what has made it so great for me. This beautiful sprinkler-fight-s’more-making-dance-party summer chock full of Taylor Swift and Shania Twain because pretending not to like that music is just too tiring. We drive past the same farm house for what seems like the millionth time, looking for this cemetery, our heads sticking out the window, hollering and singing to the current song on the radio and I whisper, “There’s nothing sweeter than summertime,” and I mean it. I’ll miss you guys.
by andrew mcclain
Okay, so, for what it’s worth, I self-identify as a “hip-hop” person. I follow hip-hop like some folks follow sports - and it’s a decent comparison because they’re both fast-paced games with players that rise and fall and defect to other teams. There’s a lot of political movement through styles of production, regional dominance and cross-pollination. Hip-hop is exciting because it’s always observably different than it was three years ago, and, unlike any other genre of music, the zeitgeist is always fresh, for better or for worse. The cool thing about it is that it’s very open to change and accepting of weirdos, but trying to buck the zeitgeist too hard sends the message that you’re not willing to play the game. There are rules in this game: First off, you have to play well with others. The hip-hop world is everexpanding because of its collaborative culture - the credits of any given album or mixtape reveal a network of featured guest rappers and producers that leads interested listeners into a dense, connected universe of weirdo MCs, weed rappers, trap rappers and singers of autotuned hooks, all of whom are connected by fewer than six degrees of separation (probably like four). White dudes like myself often get into hip-hop for its aggressive, dangerous-sounding qualities
because we never connected emotionally to metal or hardcore (plus, older white people are terrified of rap music). A lot of us are also seeking something “authentic” and raw that might be challenging for the general population to process, which is a feeling that I think we’re all familiar with. Chicago is having a moment right now, or so says the hip-hop zeitgeist. Gun violence among Chicago’s youth is the worst in the nation and the issue gets very little play in the news, though it’s telling enough that residents of Chicago’s South Side have been calling their city “Chiraq” lately. This environment has given rise to “drill,” Chicago’s own sinister take on Southern trap music. Bleak, simplistic and aggressive in a way that draws easy comparison to punk rock, drill artists like 17-year-old Chief Keef and producer Young Chop caught national attention through Kanye West last year with his remix of “I Don’t Like.” Taking into consideration what I said about a desire for something hard, “authentic” and raw, it’s easy to see why Keef and his crew get a lot of love from hip-hop blogs; at its best, it has the intensity and urgency of a Black Flag record, (and your dad definitely doesn’t get it) but at its worst, it lacks emotional depth and sonic variation in the same way, and actually seems to advocate violence - a salient point that is often glossed over by journalists who’d like to imagine that there’s a disconnect between actual gun violence and popular music that glorifies it, even when there’s a high concentration of both in Chiraq, Drillinois. Yet, there’s a school of thought amongst white devils like myself who are active in writing about hip-hop that holds up trap and drill styles as “more authentic” because of their boldness and relative inaccessibility to other white folks, and we resent rappers that we perceive to be pandering to white audiences (see: Lupe Fiasco, Childish Gambino). Hip-hop should be radical. Hip-hop shouldn’t be comfortable. Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” is very different, and that’s why I’m surprised that it’s my favorite album of 2013. It’s against the violent Chicago backdrop that South Side (West Chatham, specifically) native Chancelor Bennett made “Acid Rap,” his studio mixtape, released just after his 20th birthday in April. The album opens with a gospel choir hook that was nabbed from an ancient Kanye West mixtape and reinterpreted as a triumphant juke jam with (what sounds like) real piano, bass and horns, and Chance smiling audibly as he comes in with a “We back / and we back.” Even without all these elements, Chance’s exuberance alone could be said to buck the zeitgeist. Listeners might mistake Chance’s raspy, high-pitched flow for Lil Wayne turning verbal donuts at nearly the rate of Earl Sweatshirt, deftly stacking up internal rhymes and tying them up with flourishes of Chicago slang and half-sung hooks that somehow succeed in doing Kid Cudi better than Kid Cudi. The sheer musicality of the album is unheard of in today’s climate - even Kanye, who started his career in a shamelessly polychromatic way recently turned towards the bleak and monochrome.
Most mixtapes suffer from a lack of a cohesive sound (there’s that rockist value) and sound disjointed because of very different sounds brought in by very different producers. Producer Nate Fox (who currently works construction jobs in rural Pennsylvania) executive-produced “Acid Rap,” producing five of the album’s thirteen tracks, carefully choosing and editing the rest of the instrumentals to make them work with each other. Now, I took a shot at Childish Gambino earlier for being fairly benign as a rapper, (that’s an entire essay in itself) but I should acknowledge that he was one of Chance’s earliest supporters, and receives several shout-outs throughout the album (including one very clever “Troy & Abed” joke on the first track) and his featured verse on “Favorite Song” is pretty good. The features throughout are excellent: speed-rap veteran Twista, Vic Mensa, Action Bronson (who bizarrely namedrops three relatively obscure coaches from collegiate athletics) and a really stunning spot from Noname Gypsy, a female MC and Chicagoan. There’s another major perspective in music criticism (also perpetuated by white dudes) called “rockism,” (via “sexism,” “racism,” “ageism”) that wrongfully tries to evaluate hip-hop through the same lens as rock and pop music, holding up the “cohesive” LP as the ideal medium for music, favoring “intelligent” lyrics. Rockist praise of a hip-hop album often praises the fact that “it’s different,” the subtle implication being that the critic thinks that most rap music is scary and unintelligent. “Acid Rap” just happens to succeed on rockist criteria, so I hate to praise it for its substance, cohesion and musicality, so I’ll praise Chance instead for balancing these attributes with youthful irreverence and dense Chicago slang (to “hit a stain” is to steal something). Chance certainly spits out some goofy rap cliches, but always with a tongue-in-cheek, technically impressive twist. The rest of the time he’s vulnerable and sincere in a way that consistently gives me cold chills and makes me think that he might be the most dynamic rapper I’ve ever heard. The best example of this is “Paranoia,” the third track, (bizarrely “hidden” inside the second track) a haunting, skittering, low-energy song produced by Nosaj Thing in which Chance addresses the violence in his neighborhood in spare, plain-spoken couplets that have a frightening immediacy to them: they murkin’ kids they murder kids here why you think they don’t talk about it? they deserted us here where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? somebody get Katie Couric in here probably scared of all the refugees looks like we had a fuckin’ hurricane in here we shootin’ whether it’s dark or not I mean, the days is pretty dark a lot down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a fuckin’ parking spot
Then he quietly sings a simple sentiment that I’ve never heard put so plainly in a hip-hop song before: I know you scared you should ask us if we scared too The entire album is haunted by the death of Rodney Kyles Jr., a close friend of Chance’s who was stabbed to death two years ago. The loss of his friend looms large, even on upbeat tracks where Chance says he “hasn’t been himself since Rod passed.” The album, true to its name, takes cues from the psychedelic experience, shifting moods like an acid trip. The closing twelve minutes of the album are intensely dark, introspective, and ultimately very hopeful. From the very beginning of the album there is a hopefulness, and acid is seen as a catalyst for self-improvement, with the choral mantra “I’m gonna be (so good) even better than I was,” as Chance examines his own brokenness and addictions. “Acid Rap,” to me, encompasses almost everything: love, addiction, soul samples, loss, violence, honesty, empathy, talking to your parents, listening to Frank Ocean, and knowing that you’re good, but you’re gonna be so much better.
WANT MORE MISCREANT? As I write this, Lizzy and I are sitting in my bedroom. We’ve been wrapping up this issue the past couple of days. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and The Miscreant is in full swing here in Brooklyn. Thank you so much to everyone who submitted to this issue. It’s been great to have so many new contributors with every issue. As Miscreant HQ settles in here in New York City, we hope to meet more of you lovely folks to send in your Rob Gordon-inspired lists, stories, and musical musings. I’d also like to sincerely thank Sam and Julia Brown for providing such a wonderfully in-depth interview. I got the chance to see the band perform at Shea Stadium a few days ago with my friends LVL UP, as well as Coma Cinema and Alex G. It was a great time. I’ll never get over watching a couple do a dirty dance to “Library.” It was magical. Also, it was so great to so many friends out and about! I can’t wait to have hangs on hangs with you all at future shows! Now, miscreants, it’s time to start cooking up the next installment of the zine! Submissions for Issue 43 are due August 21! So, send in your top ten songs to play at the coffeehouse you work at, your concert photos from your favorite shows at Big Snow (a venue that will be more than missed), your interview with your dad’s blues band, anything to do with music. No previous writing experience is required. Email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also send us any questions you might have about getting involved with the Miscreant! Also, look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more! Check out the Miscreant video series Sad Kids Club at www.smarturl.it/SadKidsClub. And remember to read and enjoy all of the back issues of the Miscreant at issuu.com/themiscreant. Love, The Miscreant PS - Be sure to check out all the show posters included throughout the issue to see Miscreant bands and other folks we love.