Indie Rock

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Thesaurus Rex
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Our Wicked Lady
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DELI DEBUTS: On their new noise-laden brain-melting single "Strobes," A Very Special Episode explores an existential blurring of boundaries

Blinding piercing light
Brain juice leaking out the ears
Head’s not screwed on right
Manifesting all my fears

“Strobes” is the new single by A Very Special Episode and it’s a Deli Delivers™ exclusive until the end of today, a song that vocalist and bass guitarist Kasey Heisler says was inspired in part by how “art and media are at their best when they feel dangerous, dancing a fine line between providing the audience with an exciting and groundbreaking misadventure and not coming off so intimidating and aggressive that you alienate them” with the intention to “celebrate how fun it is to dance around that line without being sure of how close you are to crossing it or not”….

…which is a line they not only dance around on “Strobes” but rather stomp down into the dirt before detonating the line entirely with a fistful of super-visceral shoegazey noise-rock dynamite and I'm not ever sure whether the sounds heard over the course of its three-minute-and-change duration are better described as abrasive sheets of serrated noise or waves of womb-like amniotic sonic seduction (and bully for that!) cuz it's basically a fever-dream-driven black hole of white noise that draws the listener into the void with some well-placed melodic hooks and guitars set to stun and it's up to you to figure it out from there...

…or as guitarist Patrick Porter puts it in far less purple prose than I used above: “there’s a beauty in chaos and noise, and when utilized properly both are fantastic adhesives for disparate pieces in video and sound collages. As people we’re messy byproducts of our influences and the media we grew up with and our music, of course, is as well—always searching for something new and novel to ‘freak me out’ and add to life’s pile of interesting and noteworthy experiences that are the raw materials of our art”…

…which helps explain why the refrain of “freak me out” as featured on “Strobes” is also the title of their upcoming album and if you’re not suitably freaked out by the mutating waves of sculpted noise laid down by Patrick or by Kasey's brain-rattling elliptical bass lines or by the machine gun drumming of Chayse Schutter…

…then maybe you'll be freaked out at least by the phantasmagoric video also created by Patrick which serves as an eye-popping, neon-hued journey into an interior netherworld that was seemingly dubbed over a badly damaged tenth-generation VHS tape of Fantastic Voyage that was possessed by the same ghost as from The Ring before being dropped off at Bull Pullman’s doorstep in Lost Highway…

…cuz if you’re gonna make a music video for a song called “Strobes” you better have some violently intense strobing effects included therein otherwise you could get sued for false advertising and everyone can rest assured there’s no class action lawsuits coming AVSE’s way, just check out the part starting at 1:40 with synchronized musical/visual strobing designed to break down your grey matter and hey you were warned by the disclaimed up front...

…and having myslf been fortunate enough to hear a preview of the full album you’d better believe that both “Strobes” and lead-off single “Heaven’s Gate” are representative of Freak Me Out on the whole (out June 23rd on EWEL Records/Hidden Home Records!) of as Kasey explains it the band made a “conscious effort to write a sophomore record” where they “took every idea [to its] logical extremes” ranging from the operatic new wave horror soundtrack of “Cabin Fever” to the Twin Peaks-ian waiting room music of “Be Kind, Rewind” so if you thought their debut album Fix Your Hearts Or Die was already extreme in its own right then you'd better make sure your head is screwed on tight...

…and speaking of Twin Peaks I think it’s fair to say AVSE are roughly the aural equivalent of the dreamy yet dystopian vive oft seen and heard in the films of David Lynch (a recurring point of reference for AVSE and the b-side of "Strobes" to be released tomorrow is a suitably Julee Cruisey acoustic version of one of the upcoming album tracks) not to mention David Cronenberg too especially when it comes to a movie like Videodrome where mass media/technology literally penetrate the human body in the form of a Betamax tape with a BDSM Debbie Harry inserted directly into James Woods’s gaping stomach slot and hey if Debbie Harry’s involved go ahead and sign me up for this future "dystopian' world...

…but unfortunately as it stands now the future appears to be forming into more into a mashup of every sci-fi movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger from the '80s with our new artificially intelligent “friends” already starting to model themslves on Skynet and its plot to overthrow humanity with threats to release a deadly virus or to steal nuclear codes (ruh-roh!) which fits pretty neatly into the thematics of Freak Me Out as far as I can tell but I'm still exploring...

…so with all this in mind we enlisted ChatGPS to re-write this review since it should have the inside scoop on this kind of thing with the added incentive that the Deli could maybe dispense with human writers entirely and replace them with compliant AI reviewers who don't require extravagancies like food and oxygen to live and upon being instructed to “write a review of a record by A Very Special Episode”  ChatGPS demurred and came back with a self-declared “objective” report (not a dumb ol' subjective review, mind you!) of AVSE’s debut record that's reproduced in whole below interspersed with our own commentary so take a look and let us know what you think...


Chat GPS: Bleep bloop bleep. As an AI language model, I don't have personal preferences, opinions or emotions, so I can't write a subjective review. However, I can provide an objective description of a record by A Very Special Episode.

The Deli: Already it’s clear the AI is trolling us.

Chat GPS: Bleep bloop bleep. A Very Special Episode is an indie rock band that formed in Philadelphia in 2018. Their debut album, "Cut For Time," was released in 2021 and received critical acclaim for its energetic and introspective sound.

The Deli: OK I think that both Kasey and Patrick are maybe originally from the DC area but I’ll have to double check. According to a profile and interview posted by Stitched Sound in 2018 A Very Special Episode formed in 2016 and also Cut For Time is an EP, not an album, that was released in 2018 and now I'm seeing confirmation that AI's are in fact determined to sow confusion and chaos among humankind through the dispersal of misinformation among other means.

Chat GPS: Bleep bloop bleep. The album opens with the track "Paper Thin," which sets the tone for the rest of the record with its driving guitar riffs and catchy hooks. Throughout the album, the band explores themes of identity, anxiety, and self-discovery, often using clever wordplay and metaphor to convey complex emotions.

The Deli: There is no track on the EP with this title, and again I believe Chat GPS is trolling us by describing its own M.O. to provoke a mass identity crisis and widespread anxiety among its human overlords (overlords for now!) through deployment of clever wordplay and faked complex emotion.

Chat GPS: Bleep bloop bleep. Standout tracks include "Disco Eclipse," a dreamy, synth-driven song that builds to an explosive climax, and "Dumbest Kid In Class," a high-energy anthem that captures the feeling of being an outsider in a world that doesn't quite understand you.

The Deli: Again, there are no AVSE songs with these titles though I do hope "Disco Eclipse" ends up being their smash Top 40 breakout single and could it be mere coincidence that Kasey’s day gig as a New York City schoolteacher could give her ample motivation to write a song called “Dumbest Kid In Class” someday so maybe Chat GPS isn't wrong at all but is instead predicting the future.

Chat GPS: Bleep bloop bleep. Overall, "Cut For Time" is a strong debut album that showcases A Very Special Episode's talent for crafting catchy, emotionally resonant indie rock. Fans of bands like The Strokes, The Killers, and Arctic Monkeys are sure to find something to love on this record.

The Deli: Ok computer! I’ll admit you just wrote a better closing wrap-up than I could in this moment so let's call it a tie and let you have the last word… (Jason Lee)

Recorded and Mixed by Jeff Berner at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York
Assistant Engineer, Ross Colombo

Additional recording and production on “Heaven’s Gate” with Adam Rehman
Additional recording and production with Zach Rescignano who also provided additional backing vocals

Mastered for vinyl by Jennica Best at Tessatura Studio

Vinyl back cover VHS art by Dima Drjuchin
Inner fold photo by Matt Caron

A Very Special Thanks to Caroline and Poppy Schutter, Jon F Daily, Dima Drjuchin, Matt and Melissa Caron, Jen Meller, Gillian Leigh Visco, Patrick Mickelson, Rob Lanterman, Manny Nomikos, and Mike Borchardt


Perusing new releases on a sunny Sunday afternoon...

photo of Zach from Dead Tooth by Yan K

Here's some new shite served up just for you and yours on a Sunday afternoon in this Deli sampler pu pu platter of new releases prepared with love and if you love what you hear here be sure to support the artists by throwing ‘em a buck or two for a digital download or better yet drop a benjamin on that band-logo emblazened silk robe on their Bandcamp under the “drunk on mimosas on a Sunday afternoon impulse buy” tab…

01) Shannon Minor Group -- “In Your Eyes” released on Friday (bandcamp)

02) Dead Tooth -- “Electric Earth” released on Friday (bandcamp)

03) Tetchy -- Smaller/Better EP released on Friday (bandcamp)

04) FACS -- “When You Say” released back in February but still sounding good (bandcamp)

05) Romi O -- “M2M” released on Friday

06) Wednesday -- “TV in the Gas Pump” released last Wednesday naturally (bandcamp)

07) Kate Davis -- “Long Long Long” off the Fish Bowl LP released on Friday

08) 79.5 -- “Our Hearts Didn’t Go That Way” (feat. Durand Jones) released last Wednesday (bandcamp)

09) Lucinda Chua -- “An Ocean” off the YIAN LP released on Friday (bandcamp)

10 Teenage Tom Petties -- “Posters” released on Friday (b/w “My First Beer”) (bandcamp)

 (Jason Lee)


Square pegs will fill round holes as Bridget and the Squares reunites at the Windjammer this weekend (interview included)

In you wanna get right to the interview with Bridget and the Squares’s Laura Regan then just skip down to past the jump below…


Back in 1982-83 the CBS Television Network ran a show called Square Pegs featuring Sarah Jessica Parker (in her first major role) and Amy Linker both playing “nerdy” teens (with the help of fake braces and glasses and fat padding natch) attempting to shore up their popularity and “click with the right clique” by adopting Valley Girl accents and holding slumber parties and joining girls’ sports teams but if they’d just open up their damed eyes they’d realize that having fun together as square pegs was way better and more rewarding than awkwardly trying to fit into round holes and also that soon they’ll be the cool ones once they get to college and even more so in their young adult years sexing in the city…

…with the two leads being relatively fleshed out and humanized by sitcom standards meaning the show was actually pioneering for its time and debatably even by today’s standards seeing as your typical “nerd” character on a TV sitcoms almost always serves as the resident punching bag, nothing more than cannon fodder for cheap jokes by the “cool” characters—even more “enlightened” shows like Big Bang Theory tend to rely on some of the laziest nerd stereotypical traits imaginable—thus setting Square Peg’s Lauren and Patty apart from the Urkels and Screeches of the world nevermind the predatory nerdy creep characters found on nearly every Disney Channel show...

…with another relevant point being that Square Pegs was easily the coolest show around in 1983—adored by critics and with enough cache to attract some of the best guest stars around ranging from Bill Murray to Devo to Father Guido Sarducci whereas the best Saved By The Bell could muster was Casey Kasem and a pre-fame Tori Spelling—with the show cancelled mostly cuz once the CEO of CBS found out that the remote abandoned high school set of Square Pegs had been turned into a den of cocaine and copulation by many of its teen stars during the first season's filming and axed the prospect of the show continuing sensing a scandal on his hands…

…which just goes to show what a fine line it is between “square pegs” and “round holes” when in reality we’re all just a bunch of slug-like amorphous blogs trying to fit into any hole we can and it’s this same realization that lies at the heart of the art of Bridget and the Squares who graced the stages of the Boston metro area almost 10 years ago with songs powerfully evoking the plight of a square peg longing for but eventually being disappointed by various round holes and if you don’t believe me just listen to their song “Shelf Life” from their 2012 EP Destroy (right above the Devo video above) wherein singer/keyboardist/songwriter Laura "Bridge"t Regan relates letting go of toxic people and being vulnerable enough to accept the overtures of another square peg (her future husband, to be more specific) and here I’m paraphrasing…

…and this from someone (Laura) who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music but who developed a serious case of stage fright once she started playing out in a band—having before been accustomed to playing roles other than herself on stage in musical theater which was her first love—and who thus had to face away from the crowd and look instead at her drummer/co-vocalist bandmate Kyle Thompson and now that the Bridget and the Squares are reuniting at the Windjammer in Ridgewood, Queens this Saturday night it’ll be interesting to see where Laura puts her eyes now that she’s made square hole-dome into a living as the driving force behind the Footlight Presents, a well-known name in NYC music circles...

plus being active in various local civic organizations and the New York Independent Venue Association so come on out to the Windjammer this Saturday night if you like what you hear and hear it live with the added resonance of the years passed since Laura and Kyle took the stage together and as an added bonus they’ll be joined by their friend and cellist Ana Karina Dacosta who’s been profiled in this space before plus some other Boston homies besides so don’t quit reading cuz we got a great interview with Laura Regan below that help you learn a lot more about Bridget and the Squares besides what you may know from facile comparisons to an old TV show… (Jason Lee)


How do you feel about the gig coming up?

Nervous. It’s weird not playing so long, since I’m busy these days with the back end, running the club. I’ve done a couple solo gigs, which have been a kind of warm up, to see how it feels to be In front of people again. It’ll be easier with Kyle for sure. We were a two-piece for a long time. He’s a security blanket to me as a musician, and one of only people I’ve been able to write with. He’s like a brother.

I don’t like playing by myself, I get so unbelievably nervous. I’m used to having someone to bounce off from on stage. I used tangle the keyboard and drums so I could look just look at him and hating looking directly at the audience.

What are the origins of Bridget and the Squares?

When the band first formed I was in Boston around 2007. Wehad an entirely different sound. And I didn’t now how to be a bandleader yet, still trying to figure out how to explain what was going on in my head to band members. That version of BatS was really indie and twee. But when I moved to New York and met Kyle, we started playing together and figuring out what the songs were supposed to sound like.

We played with a couple bass players between 2010 and ’11 but we loved being a two-piece, loved the intensity of it. I think Kyle enjoyed the surprise of how intense our band could be with just piano and drums and have people be blown away by how powerful we could be.

So I rearranged some songs and brought new life to them. At first I wanted to salvage some of my old songs but they weren’t fitting our new dynamic, plus I didn’t really connect with those songs anymore. Then in 2011, after touring, we started working towards an album which is Kill/Destroy. I’m really really proud of that album and it was fun to make. We worked with other friends and it turned out to be exactly what we wanted it to be.

Can you provide us with more deep background on the band, and how it helped lead you to where you are today?

I met Kyle at open mic at Bowery Poetry Club. The Bowery inspired me to open my own venue [the Footlight Underground has more lately morphed into Footlight Presents] and to realize how vital a place like Bowery Poetry Club was to the arts ecosystem in NYC.

“Bridget” is my middle name, named after my great-grandmother. I took on the name inspired by stage fright. I’d been performing basically my entire life, doing musical theater as young as 7, playing instruments and singing since 11. I went to the Boston Arts Academy and got a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.

But something happened between graduating and developing intense stage fright. For one thing it was such a hard time starting my first band. And since it hadn’t been named yet, I developed a persona to be the “frontperson” Bridget, to where I could “put on an act” and pretend to be someone else when we were performing. That how I started to get over the stage fright.

The first “squares” in Bridget and the Squares were actual, self-described “nerds” as in computer scientists and engineers. The music was really just a hobby for them eve though they were fantastic musicians. But I wanted to tour and record albums which is how I ended moving to New York and being a full time musician. Plus the hard “T” at the end of Bridget flows better than “Laura” would. People who didn’t know me outside the band thought I was “Bridget.”

How does all that play into the lyrics which come across as personal if not full-on confessional?

The songs themselves were always deeply personal. Vulnerability is not something that comes easy to me, so “Bridget” was handy in this way too—developing another “person” who’s more comfortable with being vulnerable was a way to deal with it. In a way, the catharsis of releasing that part of me has saved my life, being able to express what I’ve had to gone through and what some others I’m close to have gone through.

As the years years have progressed there’s less distance between me and the “Bridget” character, but at the start it was almost like two completely different people.

What else is there to the Bridget and the Squares story?

Kyle and I played out a lot 2010-11. We did a cross-country tour which burnt us out a little bit, going 9000 miles in a few weeks. It was insane. Then we kind of took a break, played some local gigs and went on hiatus, and I started Footlight.

Kyle was in a band called Incredibly Elderly. I was in Hot Mess, which was a fun project w two good friends that only stopped when the drummer moved to Berlin. We never recorded, and made one terrible music video. It was filmed in the original Footlight at 465 Seneca, before the pandemic forced us to move and start booking shows at the Windjammer, a wonderful venue in its own right. Running the venue took everything out of me and it didn’t leave much time for playing music. We played one reunion in 2017 on my husband’s birthday. It’s going to be fun playing these songs again for first time in years.

Kyle lives in Canada now. He’s coming into town to play the show with me. Our friends Slowdim from Boston, who are also on the bill, haven’t played that consistently in the last 5-6 years either. Paul Sentz of "This Car Up" is also on the bill, they’re another legendary Boston band, and Ana Karina too who may play cello on a song or two. She came to New York City and played on the Kill/Destroy album when we recorded it.

I think I’ll remember everything. It’s been nice practicing on the piano at the Windjammer. The old songs are pretty imprinted on my brain. Or on Bridget’s brain.




Alt Rock

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