Alt Rock

New Myths "Bad Connection" new music video

DURING THESE TIMES when most of us are feeling more than a little disconnected, New Myths' “Bad Connection” hits some kind of sweet and sour spot. And while virus as metaphor does feel a little on the nose--alongside mentions of being “frozen in time” and “folded inside”--I can attest to the fact that although New Myths put out the song (just barely) post-pandemic it was written and performed well before any hint of what was to come existed. Anyways a slightly closer listen to the lyrics, and a viewing of the video, reveals the song to be more likely about the foibles of mass media and modern tools of communication and disturbed mental states. But what's crucial on another level is how it throbs with a nervous energy and a forward momentum that’s sorely needed--I remember seeing them live a couple times in the beforetimes and when drummer Rosie Slater belted out her banshee wail on the song's hook while still rocking out behind the kit it was pretty damn energizing--so consider this single a shot in the arm.

Because the people demand it: here in one convoluted, name-dropping sentence is how I’d sum up New Myths. Neon-hued both visually and sonically, this power trio’s combination of intense electro-rock sonics, pop savvy, punkish energy, glam theatricality, and occasional gothy moodiness is something like the lovechild of Shirley Manson and Marilyn Manson who’s now all grown up and going to her first orgy with a guest list that includes the Hanson brothers circa “MmmBop” and the full cast of the Josie and the Pussycats movie during which a DJ is slated to spin tracks by Republica, Elastica, and Veruca Saltica to set the proper mood. (If there's any major label reps out there looking to hire a professional blurb writer just slide on into the Deli’s DMs and I’ll hit you back.)

Speaking of all things neon-hued, New Myths released their music video for “Bad Connection” last month and true to form it’s pure adrenaline. I mean, sure, maybe you’ll never get to see Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in a movie theater. But this video contains enough video-within-a-video high concept moolah shots in the span of five minutes to fully scratch your meta movie itch. In a clip directed by prolific music video director and underground filmmaker Dylan Mars Greenberg (her filmography includes 2016’s Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space starring Janeane Garofalo) the trio of Brit, Marina, and Rosie take on roles ranging from a ‘40s Andrew Sisters style singing group (makes sense given how they can rock those three-part harmonies) to an ‘80s Pat Benetar type band to a Beastie Boys "Alive" homage all in convincing and rapid fire form.

The vid also features a substantial cameo appearance from Tish and Snooky, the legendary sisters on the scene who were active in NYC glam and punk circles in the 1970s. Tish and Snooky aka the Bellomo Sisters took on backing vocal duties in a Blondie-adjacent band and co-formed their own group known as the Sic F*cks (standout track: “Chop Up Your Mother”) and right around the same time in ‘77 they opened the first punk rock fashion store in the country, on St. Mark’s Place, called Manic Panic. And if that name sounds familiar you’re not mistaken because out of the store came the Manic Panic assortment of hair dyes that blew up big time and helped turn many once-average local mall rats into insta punk rockers and new wavers (and goth-ers and ravers) in the ‘80s/‘90s/2000s which is what DIY is all about after all. Power to the Peroxided People.

So suffice to say, New Myths cover a lot of ground in their "Bad Connection" music video. Now if only they’d made some references to the Roaring Twenties and dressed up as flappers it’d be the complete package but I suppose it can wait until the next video. Just so happens I’ve got a side hustle as a music video consultant so maybe have your people call my people... (Jason Lee)

photo credit: Andrew Segreti

 

   

Shadow Monster livestream from Our Wicked Lady

Duo acts carry a certain mystique to this day. At all times just a single city bus mishap away from solodom, they’re like the two-piece-chicken meal deals of rock ‘n’ roll (sure it’s a meal but it's sure to be on the value menu). Rock ‘n’ roll duo acts tend to adhere to a certain minimalist aesthetic by design but often follow a brutalist aesthetic as well by showcasing BIG drums and BIG guitars--the “value” part of the meal--or even BIG keyboards like in Quasi or Matt & Kim to take two very different examples. And also if you’re brave enough to play in such a stripped down format you’d better have some BIG hooks and BIG stompin’ and rockin’ rhythms to keep your listeners engaged--we’re talking about the special herbs and spices here.

The group that’s most often credited with pioneering the two-piece "rock ‘n’ roll value meal" format--by the way there’s a guy whose name rhymes with “Frack Site” who cites them as a major influence--is a little group called the Flat Duo Jets. On the band’s 1985 demo cassette (In Stereo) and 1990 self-titled debut album, Dexter Romweber (guitar/vox) and Chris “Crow” Smith (drums) kick up a cloud of Southern-fried psychobilly psychosis that’s hard to resist or serve with a cease and desist.



And now to the subject at hand, Shadow Monster is a two-piece rock combo from Bushwick, Brooklyn that’s taken up this baton of late and they wield it admirably. Unlike a number of high profile acts in Musical Duos-ville who spice up their sound with programmed drums and sequenced keyboard parts (we love ya Ravonettes, Kills, et al.) Shadow Monster do without these musical equivalents of coleslaw and curly fries. No side dishes, here’s your chicken and biscuit thank you and come again!

With a sound that recalls classic mid-90’s shiz--not the Jonah Hill flick tho’ that was cool, I’m talking stuff like Juliana Hatfield’s Only Everything or Sebadoh’s Bakesale--Shadow Monster relies less on overwhelming force and more on well-constructed tunes and songwriting. For instance their 2019 album Punching Bag opens with a hook-laden eponymous song that’s a swaying mid-tempo jammer about “rolling with the punches” and the masochism implied by the phrase that builds to a climax with Gillian Visco’s vox and guitar spinning into the ether with the support of John Swanson’s gallivanting drum fills.

Next comes a more upbeat number called “Temporary Love” that starts with some quick-strummed acoustic guitar but which turns out to be one of those it-sounds-happy-but-it’s-about-darkness-and-doubt-and-romantic-dysfunction songs which is always a good combo. Over the full course of the seven songs on the rekkid you continue to get a decent range of moods and styles but with some consistent lyrical themes such as (according to their official bio) “themes of loss, depression, and isolation.” Hey, I feel seen! No surprise then that track six titled “Lovegun” isn’t a Kiss cover. But it should be obvious anyway--for one thing the title’s written as one word and also it’s not about Paul Stanley’s c*ck. But instead it’s more of a wistful lighter-waving song which it's always good to have one of those and so it's more like their "Beth" except the drummer doesn't sing this one.

Shadow Monster perform live tonight at beloved BK hot spot Our Wicked Lady meaning they have portable heaters on their rooftop bar. If you're in the vicinity you may want to consider making a reservation to watch the band from the club’s aforementioned heated rooftop where you can order drinks while the band rocks away downstairs and watch it on video feed. Masks and social distancing required you know the drill. Or alternately, and more easily, you can catch them livestreaming on the club’s Youtube, Facebook and Instagram channels or give Friendster a try cuz you never know. (Jason Lee)

   

Pom Pom Squad's "Last Christmas"

Pom Pom Squad’s cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas” is the best version of the Eighties seasonal perennial at least since the one Crazy Frog did (Ariana Grande pffft) but did Crazy Frog add a dramatic soliloquy to the George Michael composition or curse out the song’s errant lover-to-never-be at its conclusion? I think not. The CGI amphibian went top-ten in both Sweden and Belgium with the song in 2006 which makes me think PPS should be a lock for a top-five chart placing at minimum.

Band frontperson & Orlando-to-Brooklyn refugee Mia Berrin (pictured) heightens both the wistful melancholia and the implied tension of the original version and plus the Pom Pom’s update advocates staying at home for the holidays so win-win. And while you’re at home you can pop in the new “Simply Having A Wonderful Compilation” compilation (released last friday) into your virtual CD changer alongside Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album and that Hanukkah record from last year with Haim and Flaming Lips and Jack Black and Yo La Tengo and have yourself a grand ol’ time.

“Wonderful Compilation” featues Pom Pom Squad alongside a full slate of indie small-stars all wishing you a dream-poppy, grungy holiday (sample title: “Santa Is A Neocon”) but with the occassional foray into 16th-century caroling which all makes sense since it’s a co-production of indie mainstay Father/Daughter Records alongside Wax Nine, the latter of which being both a sister label to D.C.’s Carpark Records and a friggin poetry journal which is the brainchild of Sadie Depuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13, the latter of which having been discussed in the post right before this one so you see how everything in the universe is connected.

But before closing just two last words about Pom Pom Squad. And those two words are "Heavy Heavy" for they are both of those things.

   

Alt Rock

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White Cliffs
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Sad13 "Haunted Painting" and poetry on the beach

Listening to Sad13’s second full-length album called Haunted Painting takes me back to my six-or-seven-year-old self and a trip to visit my aunt and juvenile delinquent high school cousin in the Spray Tan State and in particular our trip to the Disneyworld Industrial Complex widely known as the home of animatronic dead presidents and Johnny Depp singing “Yo Ho” to all the ladies. 

Of course it’s also home to the Haunted Mansion and all those paintings in the entrance hallway where when you look at them at first it’s like some baroness or something stretched out on her fainting couch but then before your very eyes she transforms into a spooky apparition like Medusa with snakes sprouting out her head or who knows what but some or other creepy character for sure and then you blink and it’s back to the baroness. Then before you know it you’re riding along in your bumper car and you look up into the mirror on the opposing wall and there’s a goddamn hitch-hiking ghost sitting on your head. That sh*t blew my six-or-seven-year-old mind.

 

Haunting Painting reminds me of all this. Band frontlady Sadie Dupuis--good name for a baroness, she also belongs to a band called Speedy Ortiz--pulls out all the stops and the starts on this album. What I mean by that is that many of the songs start off as one thing and then go around a corner and suddenly transform into another sonic apparition entirely. Like the single “Ghost (Of A Good Time)” that starts as a synth-based new-wavey “slappin’ bop” (sorry for the technical terminology there) but then a couple minutes later the groove suddenly drops away and a brief berserker guitar part swells up and ushers us into what sounds like a waltz for a haunted ballroom and soon there’s some beautiful harmonies and counter-melodies building layer upon layer before if finally goes back to the first section like nothing ever happened. You see what I mean about the portraits.

 Pull-quote: Sad13’s Haunted Painting is a pandemic Pet Sounds for shut-ins. The future’s looking febrile, indeed!

All in all even with all the charming pop elements this is a real headtrip album--headphones strongly recommended--there’s so many little ornate curly-cue details on the record that it rewards repeat listens. Ms. Dupuis & Co. reportedly recorded this album across roughly a half-a-dozen-or-so studios and they picked up whatever odd junk store odds ‘n’ ends they could wherever they went and that’s why you hear things like glockenspiels and pennywhistles (disclaimer: you may hear neither of these) which together with all the asymmetric twisty melodies and time-signature changes creates a cool funhouse mirror vibe. Relevant note: Sadie made it a point to work exclusively with female sound engineers on all the tracks which is a role that’s still a male-dominated enclave of the recording industry today so yea!

Be forewarned going in that, much like your average nominal “fun” house, there’s some scary stuff lurking in the dark even if all the shiny surfaces and candy-coated textures may distract you from the stuff. Except for when the dark stuff occasionally bubbles up to the surface like near the end of “Ruby Wand” which is mostly a straight-up Baroque electropop number until towards when it goes all haywire for a minute. Oh, and don’t listen to or read the lyrics if you don’t like the dark stuff. 

It’s all somehow insular and mind-expanding all at once. The whole aesthetic applies equally to the videos released alongside the album which are equal parts silly and creepy and strange and ornate. To give a couple examples on “Ghost” Sadie Dupuis goes all Cindy Sherman with the multiple personas who look right into your soul both seductively and ominously, and the video for “Hysterical” that riffs on the whole entire-movie-taking-place-on-a-computer-screen premise of 2014 social media horror flick “Unfriended” but updated here for the Zoom age. Also, Sadie essentially admits over the course of the video that she’s been stalking Wallace Shawn for ages so we’ve got some incriminating evidence for when Wallace goes missing.

Finally, I should mention that our fearless bandleader is based in Philadelphia and not New York City. But that’s ok I’m just going to go ahead and claim her as ours because Sadie’s life-altering turning point was self-reportedly when she transferred colleges from M.I.T. to Barnard, and changed her major from mathematics to poetry in the process, which led directly to her songwriting career. Yea Barnard University!

And finally finally the other reason to write about Sad13 at this very moment is that they’ll be appearing tonight as part of the No Bummer All Summer “Virtual” Beach Party with Sadie doing a “beach read” of her poetry--Could that be a Zoom background or the real thing? You be the judge!--as part of the evening’s lineup of performances, activities, and specials organized by Montreal shoegazers No Joy which all starts at 8PM EST. Check out details and get your tickets here. (Jason Lee)