King Tuff shares “Tell Me,” the third single from his anticipated new album, Smalltown Stardust, out January 27th via Sub Pop. The pop gem, which features backing vocals from the album’s co-writer and co-producer SASAMI, perfectly encapsulates Kyle Thomas’ knack for melody and songwriting prowess.
“Almost every song in the world is about love, yet somehow there’s still not enough love songs,” says Thomas. “And if you took all the love songs in the world and added them to all the love songs that haven’t been written yet, well, there still wouldn’t be enough. There’s always room for more love and there’s always room for more love songs. Love is an endless well, you can do love songs about people, nature, passion, frustration, animals, joy, madness. Most of my songs are love songs, and I like it that way. But I’m still not satisfied! I want more! I want more love! And I want you to have more love! So here’s ‘Tell Me,’ a love song.”
Smalltown Stardust is “an album about love and nature and youth,” Thomas explains. It’s 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, as evidenced by the album’s new single “Tell Me.” 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.
King Tuff’s 2023 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 Hall
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.
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.
DEBBY FRIDAY will release GOOD LUCK, her supernovic, full-length debut on CD/LP/Digitally worldwide (ex. Canada) on March 24th 2023 through Sub Pop. The album, which features “SO HARD TO TELL,” “I GOT IT,” “SAFE,” and the title track, was co-produced and mixed by DEBBY FRIDAY and Graham Walsh (METZ, Holy Fuck) at Candle Recording Studio in Toronto, and mastered by Heba Kadry in New York.
Of the cosmically sublime lead single “SO HARD TO TELL,” FRIDAY offers this, “I have a lower register and speak with vocal fry so I don’t know what came over me when I made this track. I have never in my life sung like this before and I had no idea I could even make these kinds of sounds with my voice. There’s no pitch effects on ‘SO HARD TO TELL,’ it’s all me.”
The video, co-directed by Kevan Funk and DEBBY FRIDAY, sees FRIDAY in prismatic view. Roaming through rocky hillsides, psychedelic forests, ancient stone temples and more, FRIDAY is luminescent and multitudinous - the many versions of herself synthesizing into the shape of a burgeoning star.
DEBBY FRIDAY’s international headlining tour dates and festival appearances in support of GOOD LUCK begin January 21st and currently run through May 6th, 2023. Highlights include SXSW (March 15th - 18th), and shows in the US, Canada, and UK. Additional live performances for 2023 to be announced soon.
Sat. Jan. 21 - Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa w/ Pelada Fri. Feb. 17 - Toronto, ON - Boiler Room Wed. Mar. 15 - Austin, TX - SXSW Thu. Mar. 16 - Austin, TX - SXSW Fri. Mar. 17 - Austin, TX - SXSW Sat. Mar. 18 - Austin, TX - SXSW Fri. Mar. 24 - Montreal, QC - Phi Centre Sat. Mar. 25 - Toronto, ON - Garrison Wed. Apr. 12 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios Thu. Apr. 13 - Seattle, WA - Barboza Fri. Apr. 14 - Los Angeles - Zebulon Sat. Apr. 15 - Vancouver, BC - Cobalt Wed. Apr. 19 - Brooklyn, NY - Babys Alright Thu. Apr. 20 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle Wed. May 03 - London, UK - Corsica Studios w/ Grove
GOOD LUCK is available now to preorder from Sub Pop. LP pre orders from megamart.subpop.com, select independent stores in North America, the U.K., and E.U., will receive the limited Loser edition on metallic silver vinyl (while supplies last).
About DEBBY FRIDAY’S GOOD LUCK: The usual boom-and-bust cycles of growing up – breaking down, gathering the strength to get up, fumbling hard, doing it all over again - can feel unmooring, to say the least, but, and according to DEBBY FRIDAY, its tragedies and glories need savoring. Losing illusions, gaining expectations; getting deep into the private, soupy kaleidoscope of what’s possible and what’s futile – GOOD LUCK, her debut, and supernovic, full-length album, is built on welcoming the journey’s complicated drops and mountain highs with something more like grace.
Nigerian-born, then an emigré to bits of Canada - from Montreal to Vancouver to Toronto - DEBBY FRIDAY’s roamings through space and time really began when the sun fell. Nightlife was her emancipation from the toughness of home life, and she fell into it, body and soul, totally seduced. Raves til sunrise; house music in unknown basements and warehouses – the lure of the party was the perfect escape. “I was like a little club rat,” she laughs. Her adoration of the world that it opened for her came in “almost in a sensual way.”
Things that feel good sometimes do fall apart, though. In 2017, after DJing for less than a year, her life just sort of imploded. Parties started getting less functional. Nothing was going the way that she wanted it to go. So she gathered her things and embarked on what would turn out to be the first of a few of her coming-of-age stories – a wave of bildungsromans. “Personal issues: mental health stuff, substance abuse stuff, stupid love;” she lists, but the way FRIDAY says it, it seems as if she’s grateful for the valleys she had to walk through in order to see the version of herself we get today. After making the decision to stop herself in her tracks, she pulverized new paths for herself forward. Late-night YouTube tutorials on music production led to an EP, BITCHPUNK, and BITCHPUNK led to her first public performances, and all that gave way to a second EP, DEATH DRIVE. Her art endowed her with the strength she needed to move on. “This is what I was born to do,” she goes. “It came to me so naturally and instinctively. I felt just so clear, focused, and in my power in a way that I’d never felt before up until that point.”
So what does it take to hone that power? Discipline - routines, rituals; an MFA, practices of writing and filmmaking, and music-making that guide a person from one day to the next - but something close to mysticism, too. FRIDAY’s serious, long-term relationships to the study of astrology, psychology, and philosophy allow her to move through the world, relate to others, and get closer to what’s inside her. She believes in what emerges. She believes in making the unconscious, conscious. She wants to be in dialogue with the darkness.
It’s why GOOD LUCK works like such a study in entropy. On the surface, you’ll hear hints of Santigold’s dub dazzle, the MIDI-crush of Death Grips, but less obviously the plaintiveness of directors like Eric Rohmer, or the grotesque decadence of later-era Sylvia Plath. (Juno Award and Polaris Prize-nominated composer Graham Walsh adds a sort of heft and pull to the genre-flexibility on parade here: think of it a little like Sevdaliza meets FKA Twigs.)
Few do it like her, though. If lucid, acid housey, high-BPM tracks like “I GOT IT” - accompanied by Chris Vargas of Pelada / Uñas - has her cocksure and vainglorious about her “big ol ego” and “red blood libido,” a crushing track like “LET U DOWN” (“I been your Brutus, your Judas / I’ve been so wrecked and so ruthless”) doesn’t hesitate to explore the lower ends of the emotional register. She’s drawn to certain keys and moods (the brooding D and F minors, for instance, are all over this album) to suggest melancholia and darkness. However, the lead single, “SO HARD TO TELL,” sees FRIDAY totally shed all of her signature industrial tropes, to deliver a completely out-of-pocket, totally assured, falsetto pop song. Sounding like little that has come before in her catalog, this track is a crucial signifier in FRIDAY’s development.
The album GOOD LUCKwill be co-released with a short film of the same name, co-directed by FRIDAY and Nathan De Paz Habib (past work includes Eroica, based on Chino Amobi’s novel of the same name). It’s a story of individuation. It’s a love story about a woman and her masked beloved, but outside of the accompanying-but-stand-alone visual, it’s all a willing, yearning investigation into what goes on behind the veil of sadness, of cruelty. Because knowing the darkness is the only way to understand the light, but also the greys and the blues and the in-between states. FRIDAY’s explorations in GOOD LUCK – delving down into the muck of nuance - are a kind of courage.
DEBBY FRIDAY GOOD LUCK
Tracklisting: 1. GOOD LUCK 2. SO HARD TO TELL 3. I GOT IT 4. HOT LOVE 5. HEARTBREAKERRR 6. WHAT A MAN 7. SAFE 8. LET U DOWN 9. PLUTO BABY 10. WAKE UP
On February 24th, 2023 Bria will release her follow-up EP Cuntry Covers Vol. 2 on LP/CD/DSPs. On the heels of the release of her cover, “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” (Paula Cole), comes the reimagined version of the late and great Loretta Lynn’s iconic song “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”
“We wanted to reimagine all the confidence and assertion in Loretta Lynn’s version into an upbeat and frantic pop song” shares Bria. “One that reminded me of my seventeen-year-old self when I heard it for the first time.”
You can watch the official video which was directed by Andrew Matthews here.
Bria has confirmed two live shows, performing songs from Cuntry Covers Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. The first of these performances will happen on March 9th at Zebulon in Los Angeles, CA and the second at March 18th at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON. Additional shows to be announced soon.
Tour Dates: Thur. Mar. 09 - Los Angeles, CA - Zebulon Sat. Mar. 18th - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern
About Cuntry Covers Vol. 2: As its name suggested, the intimate and sultry Cuntry Covers Vol. 1. was always going to have a follow-up. Cuntry Covers Vol. 2 is every bit as potent as its predecessor whose noir-inflected alternative country-rock stood in sharp contrast to the singer’s commanding delivery as leader of post-punk revivalists FRIGS. Debuting the project in 2021, the languid, reverb-drenched Cuntry Covers Vol. 1 saw her artfully collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Duncan Hay Jennings and reimagining a carefully picked collection of Americana anthems.
Vol. 2 pushes the envelope further and harder. Encompassing feverish takes on tracks by Gillian Welch, Paula Cole, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Robert Lester Folsom, Glenn Campbell – by way of Nick Cave – and the late, great Loretta Lynn, Bria’s deliciously dark approach shimmers through these six startling songs.
Created during a break from Salmena and Jennings’ work in Orville Peck’s world-conquering backing band, Vol. 2 was recorded directly after Peck’s second album and Bria’s US tour supporting Wolf Alice. Embracing contrast, the sunny circumstances in which Vol. 1 was made were flipped on their head. Instead of a bucolic barn in the Canadian countryside, they recorded the new tracks in chilly Toronto, huddled together in their tiny makeshift home studio, with Jennings at the controls. They enlisted the help of local Toronto musicians Lucas Savatti (FRIGS), Simone Baril (US Girls, The Highest Order, Darlene Shrugg, Partner), Andrew Manktelow, and frequent collaborator Jaime Rae McCuaig.
While Vol. 1 was Bria’s attempt at subverting country music’s conservative roots and primarily white and heterosexual agenda, here the emphasis was on experimentation. While Vol. 2 might be less personal, it’s just as idiosyncratic, with half of the reversions staying true to the originals and others taken to a dierent universe entirely. Building on the tried-and-true/bold-and-new duality of Cuntry Covers’ first oering, Vol. 2 delivers a deeper dive into the duo’s brilliant alchemy of traditional and contemporary reinterpretations. The added experimental flourishes, from dizzying electronica and pulsing bass to sax-driven soul, take Bria’s new EP into previously uncharted territory, signaling a thrilling new step in Bria’s adventurous evolution.
What people are saying about Bria: “It’s an other-worldly take on the Karen Dalton standard…” [“Green Rocky Road”] - Clash
“Where Dalton’s original is quite lo-fi and scratchy, Bria have added some fidelity and warmth to it through golden-strummed guitars and a lackadaisical but precise beat.” [“Green Rocky Road”] - Beats Per Minute
“It’s the the third track that’s truly mind-blowing, however. An ode to the late, great trailblazer, Loretta Lynn, Bria turns the classic ‘Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Lovin’ On Your Mind) into a vibrant pop song that ABBA or The Primitives would be proud of.” - The Rodeo
“Salmena’s raspy tinged voice provides a depth of longing and fractured tenderness on her cover of Karen Dalton’s track, “Green Rocky Road.’” [“Green Rocky Road”] - Ears to Feed
“The band’s version should will win over any Jennings fans, or fans of old country.” [“Dreaming My Dreams Of You”] - Northern Transmissions
“Cuntry Covers Vol. 1 seamlessly drifts between classic country references and a new perspective of reimagining what country could sound like” - Tonitruale
Bria Cuntry Covers Vol. 2
Track Listing: 1. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? 2. When You Know Why You’re Happy 3. Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) 4. By The Time I Get to Phoenix 5. I Dream A Highway 6. See You Later, I’m Gone
Sullen the Gorilla takes a solitary hike through “Nowheresville,” the official video and new single from Quasi’s Breaking the Balls of History, the duo’s tenth-album and label debut for Sub Pop.
Breaking the Balls of History will be available on CD/LP/CS/DSPs on February 10th, 2023. The album features twelve-tracks and was produced by Quasi and John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Unwound, Treepeople, Team Dresch) at Rob Lang Studios in Seattle, engineered and mixed by Goodmanson, and mastered by Bill Skibbe at Third Man Mastering.
Quasi is supporting Breaking the Balls of History with a headlining U.S. tour hat begins on the album’s release day, Friday, February 10th in Boise, ID at Neurolux and ends Tuesday, March 28th in Pittsburgh, PA at Club Cafe. The tour will feature support (select dates) from the likes of Yuvees (Feb. 10th-20th), No. 2 (Mar. 2nd-4th), Shaylee (Mar. 4th), and Bat Fangs (Mar. 14th-28th). Tickets for these shows are on sale now.
Fri. Feb. 10 - Boise, ID - Neurolux ^ Sat. Feb. 11 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court ^ Mon. Feb. 13 - Albuquerque, NM - Sister ^ Wed. Feb. 15 - San Antonio, TX - Paper Tiger ^ Thu. Feb. 16 - Houston, TX - White Oak Music Hall ^ Fri. Feb. 17 - Austin, TX - The Parish ^ Sat. Feb. 18 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada ^ Mon. Feb. 20 - El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace ^ Wed. Feb. 22 - Phoenix, AZ - Rebel Lounge Thu. Feb. 23 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy and Harriet’s Fri. Feb. 24 - Los Angeles, CA - Zebulon Sat. Feb. 25 - Oakland, CA - Starline Social Club Sun. Feb. 26 - Sacramento, CA - Starlet Room Thu. Mar. 02 - Vancouver, BC - Fox Cabaret # Fri. Mar. 03 - Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern # Sat. Mar. 04 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge # ! Tue. Mar. 14 -Boston, MA - The Sinclair % Wed. Mar. 15 - Kingston, NY - Tubby’s % Thu. Mar. 16 - Ridgewood, NY - TV Eye % Fri. Mar. 17 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s % Sun. Mar. 19 - Durham, NC - The Pinhook % Tue. Mar. 21 - Atlanta, GA - 529 % Wed. Mar. 22 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn % Thu. Mar. 23 - Nashville, TN - Blue Room at Third Man Records % Fri. Mar. 24 - St. Louis, MO - Off-Broadway % Sat. Mar. 25 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle % Sun. Mar. 26 - Columbus, OH - Ace of Cups % Mon. Mar. 27 - Detroit, MI - Third Man Records % Tue. Mar. 28 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe %
Quasi’s Breaking the Balls of History, featuring the aforementioned “Nowheresville,” along with the official videos for “Doomscrollers” and “Queen of Ears,” is seeing early praise from the likes of Brooklyn Vegan, who say, “[Queen Of Ears] Has all the Quasi earmarks: pointed lyrics, jagged melodies, skronky organ, bashing drums, and Sam & Janet’s distinctive harmonies.” Stereogum says “Lead single “Queen Of Ears” finds Coomes and Weiss bashing away on their keyboard and drums, respectively, lending a raw edge to an otherwise bright and poppy song. The backing vocals are clutch on this one.” Meanwhile, of “Doomscrollers,” MOJO offers this “Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes here switch on all their chaotic McCartney/Malkmus energy for a state-of-the-planet address.” Finally, Shindig! calls “Doomscrollers” “A punchy blend of state-of-things stream of consciousness and melodic brightness signals the much-awaited return of Pacific Northwest legends Quasi.” Breaking the Balls of History, was included in Pitchfork’s “The 34 Most Anticipated Releases for 2023” (see January 9th story).
Breaking the Balls of History can be preordered now from Sub Pop. LP preorders from megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers in North America, the UK, and Europe will receive the limited Loser edition on pink vinyl.
Tracklisting: 1. Last Long Laugh 2. Back in Your Tree 3. Queen of Ears 4. Gravity 5. Shitty Is Pretty 6. Riots & Jokes 7. Breaking the Balls of History 8. Doomscrollers 9. Inbetweenness 10. Nowheresville 11. Rotten Wrock 12. The Losers Win
On April 7th, 2023 the inimitable, enduring, one and only Mudhoney (vocalist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison, and drummer Dan Peters), will release their latest and greatest, Plastic Eternity, on Sub Pop. 2023 is the 35th anniversary of both Mudhoney and Sub Pop, and an incredible new album by the label’s flagship band is the perfect way to mark the occasion (well, that, and with an update on the progress of the sewage tunnel boring machine bearing the band’s name…). Recorded over nine days at Crackle & Pop! in Seattle, WA with longtime producer Johnny Sangster, Plastic Eternity is a heady run through all the proto-genres of guitar rock with a keen eye on the inanities of the world in the 2020s.
Mudhoney has shared an official video for Plastic Eternity’s first offering “Almost Everything.” Frontman Mark Arm says the song “was originally known as ‘Gopal.’ It had been sitting in the recording device at our practice space for years and we avoided erasing it because we always loved its swinging Escalator groove.” Directed by Arturo Baston, the visual for “Almost Everything” is a surreal and interdimensional journey of a character that never stops transforming. You may even transcend the limits of space, time and form yourself while watching this video! WATCH NOW.
Mudhoney has scheduled a 14-date, Australian tour beginning Friday, April 14th and ending Friday, May 5th, 2023. The late-spring spring run will include shows in Byron Bay, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and more. Additional dates for non-Oceania fans and followers to be announced in the coming months. Please find a current list of dates below.
Fri. Apr. 14 - Coolangatta, AU - Coolangatta Hotel Sat. Apr. 15 - Byron Bay, AU - The Northern Sun. Apr. 16 - Brisbane, AU - The Zoo Thu. Apr. 20 - Marrickville, AU - Factory Theatre Fri. Apr. 21 - Belford, AU - Gumball Festival Sat. Apr. 22 - Wollongong, AU - AOW Uni Bar Sun. Apr. 23 - Canberra, AU - ANU Kambri Thu. Apr. 27 - Melbourne, AU - Corner Hotel Fri. Apr. 28 - Castlemaine, AU - Theatre Royal Sat. Apr. 29 - Torquay, AU - Torquay Hotel Sun. Apr. 30 - Melbourne, AU - Cherry Bar Wed. May 03 - Adelaide, AU - Lion Arts Factory Thu. May 04 - Perth, AU - The Rosemount Fri. May 05 - Margaret River, AU - The River
Even More On Mudhoney’s Plastic Eternity: The world is filling up with trash. Humanity remains addicted to pollution despite the planet getting hotter by the minute. People are downing horse dewormer because some goober on television told them it cured COVID. Tom Herman of pioneering avant garage band Pere Ubu still doesn’t have his own Wikipedia article. The apocalypse, it seems, is stupider than anyone could’ve predicted.
Fortunately, the absurdities of modern life have always been prime subject matter for Seattle-based band Mudhoney. The foursome take aim at all of them with barbed humor and muck-encrusted riffs on Plastic Eternity, their 11th studio album.
Mudhoney (vocalist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison, and drummer Dan Peters) remain the ur underground group, their gnarly primordial punk stew and Arm’s sharply funny lyrics as potent a combination as they’ve been since the band’s formation in the late 1980s. From taking on climate change from the perspective of the climate if the climate tried to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix (“Cry Me An Atmospheric River”) to a driving rock and roll song about taking drugs meant for livestock (“Here Comes the Flood”) to a classic punk attack on treating humans like livestock (“Human Stock Capital”), Plastic Eternity is a heady run through all the proto-genres of guitar rock with a keen eye on the inanities of the world in the 2020’s.
The recording of Plastic Eternity delivered several firsts for the band. With Maddison planning on moving his family to Australia, Mudhoney was forced to work on a deadline, booking nine days at Crackle & Pop! in Seattle with longtime producer Johnny Sangster. Since the pandemic had made it impossible for them to convene in their practice space for nearly a year and a half, this meant they were going in to make a record with an assortment of half-forgotten riffs and nascent ideas rather than fully-fledged, well-rehearsed songs.
This was unusual for a band used to writing songs by “standing in a room and looking at each other and playing,” says Arm. “We had the time and space to think about things as we were doing them, and to make a kind of course correction—to use a fucking terrible cliche.” They built “Flush the Fascists” around a looping synth line, broke out a harmonizer on two tracks, added a vocoder to “Plasticity,” and even created a protest song out of a spontaneous jam on “Move Under,” the chorus of which Arm calls “something the Runaways might have come up with if they were us.” “Undermine the foundations/ Of the lies that they repeat,” implores Arm on the chorus. “You gotta move under/ Until it all comes down.”
Plastic Eternity also marks the first time Mudhoney has given writing credit to anyone outside the band, thanks to Sangster, whom Arm calls “a brilliant musician and way more adept at musical theory than any of us,” stepping in at times to offer advice on where the songs could go.
Also unusual for Mudhoney: Plastic Eternity contains two genuine love songs. The first is for the aforementioned Tom Herman, one Arm’s favorite guitarists and the protagonist of “Tom Herman’s Hermits.” Then there’s closing track “Little Dogs,” a paean to the simple joys of hanging out with tiny canines, and one in particular: Arm’s Pomeranian, Russell, whom he couldn’t bear to give up after fostering him, sure that any other owner wouldn’t allow the little fellow to “let his freak flag fly.” No irony here—just gratitude to a little pal in dark times.
So it seems, despite its mordant delivery and crusty exterior, Plastic Eternity is not just a rebuke to the constant attacks on our intelligence and our planet—it’s an ode to the connections we make with other living beings. What is the persistence of Mudhoney but a testament to that? When asked why they continue making records nearly four decades after forming, Arm’s answer is simple.
“We like each other and we like being in a band together,” says Arm. “Some people have poker night or whatever the fuck, and they have the excuse to get together with their friends. For us, this [band] is that. This is what we do.”
Mudhoney Plastic Eternity
Tracklisting: 1. Souvenir of My Trip 2. Almost Everything 3. Cascades of Crap 4. Flush the Fascists 5. Move Under 6. Severed Dreams in the Sleeper Cell 7. Here Comes the Flood 8. Human Stock Capital 9. Tom Herman’s Hermits 10. One or Two 11. Cry Me an Atmospheric River 12. Plasticity 13. Little Dogs
Lael Neale returns with her beguiling new full-length Star Eaters Delight, which will be available on CD/LP/CS/DSPs April 21st, 2023 worldwide from Sub Pop. The album, which features the highlights “I Am The River,” “In Verona,” “Must Be Tears,” and “Faster Than The Medicine,” was written by Neale, with arrangements and production by Guy Blakeslee. The recordings were made on cassette in Virginia and mastered by Chris Coady in Los Angeles.
Star Eaters Delight reveals an expansion of Neale’s sonic collaboration with producer and accompanist Blakeslee and arrives on the heels of her Sub Pop debut Acquainted With Night, which won international acclaim for its crystalline vocals, clever songwriting, and excellent use of Omnichord to build a world of beautiful reveries. That album saw praise from the likes of Uncut, MOJO, Loud & Quiet, The AV Club, Stereogum, SPIN, and earned “Best of 2021” placement from Under the Radar, Les Inrocks, Aquarium Drunkard, Gold Flake Paint, Still Listening, Secret Meeting and more.
Photo credit: Alexandra Cabral
In April of 2020, Lael moved from Los Angeles back to her family’s farm in rural Virginia. Looking at the world from a distance and getting in tune with her own rhythms, she wrote and recorded steadily for two dreamlike years, driven by a need to make order out of chaos. Forged in isolation, Star Eaters Delight is a vehicle for returning, not just to civilization, but to celebration. She explains: “The unbroken silences on the farm compelled me to break them with sound. This album is louder and more external, calling out to the world.”
Album opener “I Am The River” melts the ice with a dynamic explosion of minimalist transcendental pop clearly descended from the Velvets branch of modern music’s family tree. Watch the official self-directed video for “I Am The River.”
Lael Neale is also sharing her international tour schedule for 2023 in support of Star Eaters Delight which begins April 22nd in Los Angeles at Permanent Records Roadhouse and currently runs through May 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. For the US run, the tour will have stops in Washington, Austin, Nashville, Tucson, New York, Northampton, and Philadelphia. Tickets for these shows are on sale now.
Sat. Apr. 22- Los Angeles, CA - Permanent Records Roadhouse
Mon. Apr. 24 - Phoenix, AZ - Trunk Space
Wed. Apr. 26 - Austin, TX - Chess Club
Sat. Apr. 29 - Nashville, TN - drkmttr
Wed. May 03 - Washington, DC - Comet Ping Pong
Fri. May 05 - New York, NY - Public Records
Sat. May 06 - Northampton, MA - Parlor Room
Sun. May 07 - Philadelphia, PA - Dolphin
Mon. May 15 - Manchester, UK - The Castle Hotel
Tue. May 16 - London, UK - The Lexington
Wed. May 17- Paris, FR - La Boule Noire
Thu. May 18 - Tourcoing, FR - Le Grand Mix
Fri. May 19 - Brussels, BE - Botanique (Witloof Bar)
Lael Neale still has a flip phone and there were no screens involved in the creation of her new record Star Eaters Delight.
The album is her second for Sub Pop and reveals an expansion of her sonic collaboration with producer and accompanist Guy Blakeslee.
In April of 2020, in the wake of transformations both personal and global, Lael moved from Los Angeles back to her family’s farm in rural Virginia. Looking at the world from a distance and getting in tune with her own rhythms, she wrote and recorded steadily for two dreamlike years, driven by a need to make order out of chaos. Forged in isolation, Star Eaters Delight is a vehicle for returning, not just to civilization, but to celebration.
She says, “Acquainted with Night (recorded in 2019, and released in 2021), was a focusing inward amidst the loud and bright Los Angeles surrounding me. It was an attempt to create spaciousness and quiet reverie within. When I moved back to the farm, I found that the unbroken silences compelled me to break them with sound. This album is more external. It is a reaching back out to the world, wanting to feel connected, to wake up, to come together again.”
Album opener and lead single “I Am The River” melts the ice with a dynamic explosion of minimalist transcendental pop clearly descended from the Velvets branch of modern music’s family tree.
“Lael is always telling me to play fewer notes,” says Blakeslee, whose spare yet cinematic arrangements create an ambient space in which Neale’s clear and unaffected voice can explore familiar themes in an unexpected way. Subtle but potent references to Shakespeare, Emerson and the Bible (which she hasn’t read) swirl together with deeply personal musings and touches of wry humor, always more optimistic than cynical.
“I like to use archetypal language because I want to get a rise out of people. I want to trigger a response. A single archetypal word carries more weight and punch than an ordinary word. Jesus means more to us than Joe,” she notes.
Album centerpiece “In Verona” is a sprawling gospel dirge in which the narrator-as-newscaster chants hypnotic incantations to lament a society plagued by divisions and hypocrisies, reimagining the Montagues and Capulets without mentioning them by name and cautioning the listener to “cast no stone.”
Lael continues, “The past few years have seen more mud slinging & finger pointing than I’ve witnessed in my life. When I found myself getting drawn into the fray, this phrase became a mantra helping me seek higher ground and a broader perspective.”
“Faster Than The Medicine” gallops across a misty imagined English countryside, frenetically propelled by the drum machine built into Neale’s signature Omnichord, while the bittersweet “Must Be Tears” invokes Nico with its pulsing Mellotron strings.
While this is a record about polarities- country vs. city, humanity vs. technology, solitude vs. relationship - the deeper intention is to heal; to come to terms with our differences and put the broken pieces back together again. Lael’s affinity with the Transcendentalists has to do with her quest to hold onto sovereignty over her own mind. In a time when our devices are constantly flooding us with information, opinions and propaganda, Lael is intentional about what she takes in - hence the flip phone and the cassette recorder.
She claims to be a minimalist “not because I don’t like things, but because I value freedom more.”