In 2016 Toronto noise-rock behemoths METZ teamed up with Boston post-punk legends Mission of Burma on a split single for Record Store Day. METZ contributed a cover of “Good, Not Great,” a track from Mission of Burma’s 2006 album The Obliterati, while Mission of Burma covered METZ’s 2012 anthem, “Get Off,” from their self-titled debut. The split 7” was limited to 4,000 copies worldwide. Now for the first time ever these songs are available digitally; for Bandcamp Friday starting today, December 2nd, and in all other DSPs on December 20th.
METZ celebrate ten years of their massively acclaimed self-titled debut this year and will embark on a “10 Years Anniversary Tour” where they’ll be playing the album in full. Dates begin on December 7th in Phoenix with stops in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Portland, St. Paul, and Chicago. Please find a full list of dates below. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.
To further celebrate the 10th anniversary of METZ, in October Sub Pop released a deluxe edition of the album on all streaming services. This updated, thirteen-track album features the original ten songs along with new versions of “Wet Blanket,” “Wasted,” and “Get Off” from a 2013 BBC Radio 1 session at Maida Vale Studios with host Huw Stephens.
10 Years Anniversary Tour Wed. Dec. 07 - Phoenix, AZ- Valley Bar + Thu. Dec. 08 - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom + Fri. Dec. 09 - Oakland, CA - The New Parish + Sun. Dec. 11 - Seattle, WA - Neumos + Mon. Dec. 12 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge * Thu. Dec. 15 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club * Fri. Dec. 16 - Chicago, IL - Metro *
Today, Friday, December 2nd, John Waters is releasing “It’s In The Book” b/w ”Proud New Father,” his new audio-only release, available on a 7” single pressed on gold vinyl and at all DSPs worldwide through Sub Pop. This single features Waters covering a stand-up routine recorded and made famous by midwestern-US comedian/actor/musician Johnny Standley in 1952.
“It’s In The Book” is Waters’ attempt to portray, in Waters’ words, Standley’s “persnickety, droll, intellectually superior comic monologue,” a part song, part exhortation on the subject of Little Bo-Peep in the manner of a revivalist preacher. The original version of “It’s In the Book” was a huge, surprise hit upon its release in 1952, rising to #1 on the Billboard chart and selling over 1 million copies.
Its follow-up, the nursery rhyme gone-wrong, comedy routine, “Proud New Father” (released the following year in 1953), would not fare as well– perhaps due to its gory details. Waters recounts, “It may be the first sick joke I heard as a child.”
As in the original versions, the two Standley homages include gratuitous laugh tracks. Produced by Grammy-winner, Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, The Good Ones [Rwanda], poet Raymond Antrobus, Zomba Prison Project), Brennan states, “That recordings of dead people prompt living people to laugh is one of the more surreal aspects of recorded medium. That often identical canned laughter tracks have been used redundantly on countless albums and sitcoms for decades is all the eerier.”
This single follows the release of Waters’ “Prayer to Pasolini,” his tribute to the legendarily controversial Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, that was recorded by Waters and Brennan at Pasolini’s murder site on the outskirts of Rome. That single was released as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club Vol. 6 series on Waters’ 75th birthday, April 22nd, 2021.
Waters jokes that he chose to press the new single on gold vinyl so that he can at last be able to claim, “I’ve made a ‘Gold Record’.” The Pope of Trash is currently traveling the US performing his annual A John Waters Christmas comedy tour, which resumes tonight, Friday, December 2nd in Eugene, OR at McDonald Theatre, and ends Thursday, December 22nd in Baltimore, MD at Baltimore SoundStage (a hometown show which sold out months in advance). Tickets for the remaining tour dates are on sale now.
“A John Waters Christmas” Tour Dates Fri. Dec. 02 - Eugene, OR - McDonald Theatre Sat. Dec. 03 - Los Angeles, CA - The Vermont Hollywood Sun. Dec. 04 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern [SOLD OUT] Mon. Dec. 05 - Austin, TX - Paramount Theatre Tue. Dec. 06 - Dallas, TX - Kessler Theater Wed. Dec. 07 - Denver, CO - The Soiled Dove Underground Sat. Dec. 10 - Providence, RI - Columbus Theatre Sun. Dec. 11 - New Orleans, LA - Civic Theatre NOLA Mon. Dec. 12 - Santa Fe, NM - Lensic Performing Arts Center Tue. Dec. 13 - Chicago, IL - Avondale Music Hall Tue. Dec. 14 - St. Louis, MO - Sheldon Arts Center Sat. Dec. 17 - Buffalo, NY - Asbury Hall at Babeville Sun. Dec. 18 - New York, NY - City Winery [SOLD OUT] Mon. Dec. 19 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse Tue. Dec. 20 - Asheville, NC - Diana Wortham Theatre Wed. Dec. 21 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere [SOLD OUT] Thu. Dec. 22 - Baltimore, MD - Baltimore SoundStage [SOLD OUT]
Hot Hot Heat’s Make Up The Breakdown: Deluxe Edition is the newly remastered and expanded version of the group’s breakthrough full-length and will be available again on vinyl, just in time for the 20th Anniversary of its release, on Friday, December 2nd, 2022 from Sub Pop.
Make Up The Breakdown was produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth) at Vancouver, BC’s Mushroom Studios with additional engineering and mixing from former Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla at The Hall of Justice in Seattle, and released on October 8th, 2002 as a ten-track album. For this deluxe edition, Make Up The Breakdown has been expanded to twelve tracks and now includes “Apt. 101” and “Move On,” two tracks only previously available with a UK-only single for “Bandages.”
Make Up The Breakdown earned praise from the likes of AllMusic, who called the album “an addictive, densely packed pop gem that ranks among 2002’s best albums,” and Pitchfork agreed, including it at no. 20 on “The 50 Best Albums of 2002.” The official videos for “Bandages” and “Talk to Me, Dance With Me” saw regular airplay on MTV. Meanwhile the singles saw huge support at Alternative Radio, with both songs going to no. 1 at the KROQ in Los Angeles.
More on Make Up The Breakdown… To be lost and naked in the city one time is an embarrassment, a mistake not to be repeated. Lost and naked in the city, again - that is a lifestyle, a conscientious series of decisions that leaves one vulnerable to all the dizzying highs and brutal hangovers that come with being ready to transcend the limitations of a small town or a parochial punk mindset or just years upon years of repressed self-loathing. Or, as Hot Hot Heat singer/keyboardist Steve Bays puts it, “leaving the womb of teenhood and having no idea what to do with all that freedom.” This is what Make Up the Breakdown sounds like because this is what it was like to be in Hot Hot Heat.
This is not a phase of one’s life that can be recreated or even revised; even Bays admits that he had to shelf his fully digitized, “re-envisioned” and technically “better” version of his band’s beloved debut out of respect to its fans. But to hear these songs again and remember is even more powerful with the wisdom of distance, to recognize the little pivots that, unbeknownst at the time, changed everything. If Bays isn’t offered a solo deal after uploading crude solo synth-pop songs to Napster, Hot Hot Heat are only remembered as one of the many promising DIY bands in Victoria, British Columbia that broke up before anyone could take them seriously. If Dante Decaro fails to hold his liquor during one fateful Victoria house party, he never meets Bays; instead, Decaro and Paul Hawley stay up until 1 PM the next day playing Beatles covers and Hot Hot Heat’s classic lineup becomes solidified. If Dustin Hawthorne doesn’t play his bass through a crushingly loud Sunn amp or if they can afford a decent PA, Bays doesn’t develop a high-wire yelp that can cut through the noise. If Sub Pop A&R Tony Kiewel doesn’t hear the band’s name in a coffee shop the day before Bays sends an unsolicited email, Hot Hot Heat are rejected from every indie label that got their demo. If Bays’ mother doesn’t unexpectedly advise him to follow his dreams and sign with Sub Pop, he takes a desk gig as a creative director.
The precariousness of Hot Hot Heat’s existence extended to the creation of Make Up the Breakdown itself. If Bays doesn’t have a pen and a cocktail napkin while riding the ferry to Mushroom Studios, the lyrics to “Get In Or Get Out” never get written. If producer Jack Endino doesn’t insist that they record “Bandages” first, Bays probably changes the hook and writes a second verse that robs their hit single of its unstoppable momentum. If the band brings their beloved Juno-6 synthesizer, they never get a chance to use the creaky Hammond organ responsible for their most recognizable riffs - the ones that earned them countless critical comparisons to the excitable, angsty new wave of The Cure and Elvis Costello and XTC, rather than West Coast art-punks like The Locust or The Rapture and Modest Mouse that they are listening to and partying with.
Hot Hot Heat stayed true to Hawley’s initial conception of the band - “we can make pop music, but we have to screw it up in some way.” Their past incarnations as hardcore, death metal and second-wave emo found subtle ways to emerge throughout an album that aspired to be Victoria’s Help!. In the past, “the goal was to never play a chord progression that had been played before,” and that melodic ingenuity manifests in the whiplash key change on the chorus of “No, Not Now.” As Bays described the Victoria straight-edge hardcore milieu, “if the crowd’s not moving, you’re not a good band.” The same principles inform the arm-flailing rhythms of “Save Us S.O.S.” and “Talk to Me, Dance With Me.”
Over the next two years, Hot Hot Heat went from playing to seven people in Boise to festival crowds of 50,000; being lazily compared to Robert Smith to sharing backstage jokes with Robert Smith about those comparisons; learning multi-track recording on the fly to spending $350,000 in a Los Angeles studio to complete 2005’s Elevator; getting added to BBC Radio 1 and almost immediately banned because the mass delusional hysteria of the Iraq War led grandmas in the UK to believe “Bandages” was endorsing state violence. But to describe Make Up the Breakdown as an “instant classic” is flattering and misleading - nothing was preordained about its success or its resonance, and from the first grinding, giddy notes of “Naked in the City Again,” Make Up the Breakdown is reanimated with the blind, beery exuberance that set them apart from the urban ennui and wasted elegance that would come to define the “New Rock Revolution” of the early 2000s.
Though they shared the same stages and magazine covers as The Strokes and Interpol and the Libertines and the Killers, Hot Hot Heat made for convincing underdogs, the people’s champs - what could born rock stars know about the catastrophic romantic rejection of “Oh Goddamnit” or the crippling small-town angst of “Get In Or Get Out”? Though Victoria was largely marooned and could only absorb the essence of the indie scenes in San Diego, Vancouver and Seattle, it’s a microcosm for the widespread culture clashes playing out in Make Up the Breakdown.
The past 20 years has flattened the narrative of the early 2000s - one day, it was all nu-metal and rap-rock and goatees and the next, skinny boys from New York and the UK in tight jeans playing tighter songs about sex, drugs and druggy sex (or sexy drugs). Make Up the Breakdown told the truth about those caught up in this awkward growth spurt - cross-armed, straight edge kids were now going out to the bars, trying to get laid, unironically enjoying pop and causing all manner of romantic and idealistic conflict. As much as Make Up the Breakdown was slice-of-life scene reportage, Bays intended it as trenchant cultural criticism - “I was getting tired of the in-fighting and small town mentality,” he recalls. “If you don’t like your hometown, leave and I bet you’ll find the same problems wherever you land. You gotta find your peace.” Most likely, you will find it drunk and naked in the city again - again.
Praise for Make Up The Breakdown: “Every step of the album is a joyously bold, emotionally rounded one all of which betrays a cleverly veiled melancholia. From ‘Get In Or Get Out’’s crypto-jazz keys to the cowbell-driven studied cool of ‘Talk To Me, Dance With Me’, it’s a record that shakes all preconceptions from the tree, and should be talked about in hushed tones by self-congratulatory, music aficionados 20 years from now.” ★★★★ ½ - NME
“Crucially, Hot Hot Heat have also learned the art of the three-minute pop song. Make Up the Breakdown zips by in a giddy blur of taut punk-funk grooves and insanely catchy choruses. Highlights such as ‘Bandages’ and ‘Get In or Get Out’ sound like lost classics buried in 1982 and only recently disinterred.” ★★★★ - The Guardian
“The Victoria, Canada, quartet’s debut LP is one long indie/new wave rave-up, all spring-loaded guitars, stabbing organs, and footloose drums…the band bashes into every chorus like they’re smacking a pinata full of blood and chocolate (8/10).” - SPIN
“This frenetic foursome from Victoria, Canada, presides over a colossal jousting match between synths and guitars that is liable to leave its audience breathless…With Steve Bays’ faux-tortured vocals (Robert Smith on antidepressants?) providing the narration, listeners might want to rage, or they might want to disco. Or maybe both.” ★★★ ½ - Los Angeles Times
Hot Hot Heat Make Up The Breakdown: Deluxe Edition
King Tuff shares a wild video for “Portrait of God,” the rollicking new single from his recently announced new album, Smalltown Stardust, out January 27th via Sub Pop.
“If you were to ask me what my religion is I would say 3 things: Music, Art, and Nature. Those are the things I’ve dedicated my life to and which bring me the purest of joy,” Thomas explains. “Often when I’m making art or music I feel something guiding me- call it god, call it Magic, call it Jim… whatever it is, it makes me happy! My god is probably something totally different than yours, and that’s a beautiful thing! I was thinking about that one day, so I wrote this song. What does your god look like? Is it a frog sitting atop a mushroom? A fifteen headed cobra? A swirling vortex? Old white guy with a long white beard is the only wrong answer!”
At the core of Smalltown Stardust lies Thomas’s desire to commune with nature on a spiritual level. Images of the natural world, from blizzards to green mountains to cloudy days, fill the songs and create a setting unmistakably far away from Los Angeles, as evidenced in the “Portrait of God” video, shot in the rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula. “It’s one of my favorite places on Earth, perhaps the most magical forest I’ve ever seen! It was honestly hard to concentrate on making the video when there was so much mossy love around us,” says Thomas. The video, directed by Nicola and Juliana Giraffe, co-stars SASAMI, who also co-wrote and co-produced the album.
Last month, King Tuff announced the album with a video for the title track “Smalltown Stardust,” which Consequence praised as “a triumphant return,” Rolling Stone called a ‘Song You Need To Know’ and Paste named one of the ‘Best Songs of the Week’ saying it’s “warped in unexpected ways.”
King Tuff is hitting the road next year in support of Smalltown Stardust. The North American tour kicks off March 1st in San Diego, CA and wraps April 7th at Joshua Tree, CA with a show at Pappy and Harriets. All dates below.
SMALLTOWN STARDUST TOUR DATES:
March 1 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
March 3 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
March 4 San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
March 6 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
March 7 Vancouver, BC @ The Wise
March 8 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
March 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
March 11 Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
March 15 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
March 17 Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
March 18 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
March 19 Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
March 21 Washington, DC @ DC9
March 22 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
March 23 Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
March 24 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Hall
March 25 Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church
March 28 Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
March 29 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
March 31 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
April 1 Minneapolis, MN @ The Turf Club
April 3 Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
April 5 Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
April 6 Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
April 7 Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s
There are times in our life when we feel magic in the air. When new love arrives, or we find ourselves lost in a moment of creation with others who share our vision. A sense that: this is who I want to be. This is what I want to share.
It’s a fleeting feeling and one that Kyle Thomas, the singer-songwriter who records and performs as King Tuff, found himself longing for in the spring of 2020.
But knowing he couldn’t simply recreate this time in his life at will, Thomas—who hails from Brattleboro, Vermont—set out to write a love letter to those cherished moments of inspiration and to the small town that formed him. The one where he first nurtured his songwriting impulses, bouncing ideas off other like-minded artists. The kind of place where the changing of the seasons always delivered a sense of perspective and fresh artistic inspiration. Where he felt a deeper connection with nature and sense of community that had once been so close at hand.
“I wanted to make an album to remind myself that life is magical,” he reflects.
The result is Smalltown Stardust, a spiritual, tender and ultimately joyous record that might come as a shock to those with only a passing knowledge of the artist’s back catalog. On Smalltown Stardust, Thomas takes us on his journey to a place where past and present collide, where he can be a dreamer in love with all that he sees. Images of his youth abound.
While so much of Smalltown Stardust invokes idealized traces and places of Thomas’s past, the album’s recording process made his communal vision a reality. Thomas’s Los Angeles home in 2020 formed a micro-scene of sorts, with housemates Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth recording their own heralded albums (2021’s Fun House and 2022’s Squeeze, respectively) at the same time. A shared spirit dominated an era spent largely on the premises, with Thomas serving as engineer and contributor to both records, and Ashworth working as co-producer on Smalltown Stardust. Thomas describes the time with a fitting metaphor: “I’ve always thrived around other people making things. You want to bloom with each other.” Ashworth’s contributions are vital to the album: she co-wrote a majority of the record and contributed vocals, arrangements, and instrumentation to each song. As Thomas notes, “I tried to follow her vision a lot. It helps to open your world to collaborators. You always get something completely different than you would have expected.”
In the end, Smalltown Stardust is not merely a nostalgia trip. In making the record, Thomas not only conjured a special time in his life, he found new inspiration, surrounded by a small circle of collaborators and a sense of love and wonder for nature. If the first King Tuff record was content to merely state Thomas was no longer dead, Smalltown Stardust is a paean to what that life means. A statement of belief and a hymnal to the magic still to behold all around us. “I’m a different person now than I was 20 years ago when I first started it. But oddly, when I first started the band, it was more like this,” he says. Which is to say, things have come full circle.
Weird Nightmare’s gloriously distorted cover of The Troggs’ 1966 classic bummer ballad, “Our Love Will Still Be There” is out now. “British Invasion is a really big part of my musical DNA” shares Weird Nightmare’s Alex Edkins. “The Kinks, The Troggs, The Pretty Things are my go-to comfort music. I wear their influence pretty heavily on my sleeve on at least a couple Weird Nightmare songs, “I Think You Know” and “Lusitania” come to mind. The Troggs, and all the American garage bands they influenced, make distorted pop that, to my ears, sounds like the precursor to punk. Loose, gritty, immediate, and heartfelt.”
This new cover follows the band’s self-titled full length debut, as well as the double A-Side split, “I Think You Know” w/ “Bird With an Iron Head” with friends Ancient Shapes, in addition to the recently released single “So Far Gone.”
Weird Nightmare are currently on tour opening a batch of US dates w Archers of Loaf, before and then after Edkins heads out on a special 10 Years Anniversary Tour on the US west coast w METZ in December. See below for a full list of dates.
Weird Nightmare Tour Dates w/ Archers of Loaf: Fri. Dec. 02 - Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw Wed. Jan. 11 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace Thu. Jan. 12 - Detroit, MI - El Club Fri. Jan 13 - Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge Sat. Jan 14 - St. Louis, MO - Delmar Hall Sun. Jan 15 - Nashville, TN - Basement East
METZ 10 Years Anniversary Tour Dates: Wed. Dec. 07 - Phoenix AZ - Valley Bar # Thu. Dec. 08 - Los Angeles, CA- Teragram Ballroom # Fri. Dec. 09 - Oakland, CA - New Parish # Sun. Dec. 11 - Seattle, WA - Neumos # Mon. Dec. 12 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge # Thu. Dec. 15 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club * Fri. Dec 16 - Chicago, IL - Metro *
# w/ Kowloon Walled City * w/ Spiritual Cramp
What people have been saying about Weird Nightmare: “The debut Weird Nightmare album from METZ guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins is a hook-filled set of blown-out power-pop with distorted guitars, punchy rhythms and bright pop melodies.” - KEXP
“The tension between chaos and order sparks gripping theater on songs like “Searching for You,” a descendant of “Anarchy in the UK,” the grunge-inclined “Lusitania” and the atypical, eight-minute ballad “Holding Out,” which suggests an angsty sleepwalker. Whatever the groove, Edkins sounds like a man on the verge of spontaneous combustion.” - The Big Takeover
“Weird Nightmare is all about hooks and melody. Still delivered with levels in the red, but these are ultracatchy powerpop songs first and foremost, and really good ones at that.” - Brooklyn Vegan
“‘Weird Nightmare’ is Alex Edkins giving us an access all areas pass to his creative process. It’s an invite no-one should decline.” - Northern Transmissions
“Weird Nightmare isn’t something that will have listeners running away or falling asleep. Edkins’s 10-song tracklist is a fun, energetic and zany concoction of sounds and textures that recall his main band while simultaneously taking things in fresh directions.” - Exclaim!
“If having fun and being free was what Edkins most wanted to come through on the recording of Weird Nightmare, he undoubtedly achieved it on his delightfully distorted and warped debut solo album.” - Exclaim!
“On the 10 tracks that comprise the project’s self-titled Sub Pop debut, Edkins revels in magnetic hooks and brighter, sunny melodies, exploring explicitly an aspect of his songwriting that had previously been mostly implicit.” - Treble
“…Weird Nightmare will bring a little noisy sunshine to your day.” - Narc