Today, we’re thrilled to share the latest single and music video from Canadian experimental R&B songwriter and producer Quinton Barnes, “How I Feel”.
Despite the year’s circumstances, 2020, at least artistically, has been quite the year for Grimalkin collective member Quinton Barnes. Between the critically acclaimed AARUPA (which we premiered earlier this year and was included as a Bandcamp ‘Album of the Day’ shortly after release) and a full remix version of that same album which saw it re-imagined in equally potent form, the Ontario artist has managed to keep busy in meaningful ways and shows no signs of slowing down, as indicated by his latest single, “How I Feel”.
“How I Feel” comes from Barnes’ upcoming album As a Motherfucker, due later this year, and stands as another immaculately produced and forward-thinking take on R&B that similarly pays homage to and updates the past. We’ve compared Barnes to Prince before and it continues to apply when listening to “How I Feel”‘s sexually-charged lyrics and its throbbing syncopated rhythms, initially pulsing underneath an otherwise airy soundscape before eventually growing busier, more enthralled, a little over a minute in as layered vocal tracks frenzy over each other amidst the organized chaos of a glitched tapestry, conveying the perfect mess that is the feelings between two people. The video, recorded on a cellphone, largely consists of a passionate interpretive dance, effectively marrying the DIY ethos of Barnes with his flair for the elegant.
You can listen to and watch the video for “How I Feel” below:
Quinton Barnes’ “How I Feel” is out now on digital through Grimalkin Records here. Be sure to follow Barnes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re excited to premiere the newest album from Connecticut-based singer-songwriter LIT. MAJOR, Generosity.
The third album released under the LIT. MAJOR moniker, Generosity is pitched simply as “an album of new songs written & recorded in isolation during the spring of 2020”, which might seem innocuous enough if you were reading this 10 years from now. Having recently lived through whatever the hell the spring of 2020 was, however, this roughly translates to “quarantine album”. In a sense, all albums coming out now are quarantine albums, though we can rather easily sort out what happens to be released now from what has been deeply characterized and formed by the fear, depression, regret, frustration, and loneliness the circumstances of the world today have created in some and amplified in many others. Generosity is an example of the latter: a set of stark folk pop with focuses on self-reflection, the sad realities of the world we live in, and the points of intersection between the two.
The album’s opening title track introduces the listener to the slow burn approach of LIT. MAJOR, as well as the subtle yet peculiar blend of intimacy and theatrics he frequently delivers on Generosity. The song addresses a search for the titular generosity amidst all the reasons to “stay down” during a bout of insomnia implied to either be instigated or made worse by his brain’s inability to stop churning on the bad, looking for even the smallest positive distractions such as TV or podcasts to fend off hopelessness. There are threads throughout Generosity that suggest LIT. MAJOR holds views akin to optimistic existential nihilism, where he hasn’t found ‘meaning’ and isn’t particularly confident he ever will, but still actively seeks it out or tries to craft it for himself, and this track is one of those stronger threads. The composition is sparse and eased gently along by acoustic guitar, while LIT. MAJOR’s vocals do a lot of heavy lifting in defining his sound, with clarity and strength of his voice and vibrato sounding near Disney prince musical-like while tonally carrying a weariness that those characters would never hit upon.
“Mothers”, meanwhile, is one of a small handful of tracks that looks back, seemingly referring to a childhood boyfriend and an acceptance of sexuality. There are some striking swells that intermittently pop up in what is again a largely subdued and skeletal composition, but that minimalism highlights the impact of those moments. Another track laden with bitter nostalgia is perhaps the strongest on the record: “Tough One”. Featuring banjo by Luke Janke (who also contributes to “Beth”, one of the more brightly toned and animated pieces) and ‘atmospheres’ by Daniel Bernas, “Tough One” is both one of the most full-sounding songs on the record as well as its most heartbreaking, recalling an instance in which a friend at “Seven or eight / Maybe we were nine” confided in him about abuse. When he eventually told and it got out, his friend said they lied, but he still wonders (“But I fear you told the truth / I think of you, and of him sometimes / And I wonder what he might be getting up to”).
There’s a lot of sad singer-songwriter music being passed around right now, perhaps more than ever, but Generosity does well differentiating itself due to how plain spoken and naked its presentation is in a sea of similar content that struggles to reach similar levels of honestly, and a voice that just hits the ears better than most others. If you’re looking for vulnerable folk music to help spur on your own episode of existential self-reflection, this one is definitely a good pick.
LIT. MAJOR’s ‘Generosity’ is out tomorrow, July 3rd, on Community Radio Tapes and is available to pre-order now digital and cassette. You can follow LIT. MAJOR on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re honored to premiere the latest single from prolific California rock band Osees, “Blood on Your Boots”.
First off, yes: Osees are the same John Dwyer-led outfit kinda first known as OCS in the early 2000’s, then ‘officially’ first Ohsees, then The Oh Sees, most famously afterwards Thee Oh Sees, (maybe still?) currently Oh Sees, and on this track, Osees. Osees seems to have been adopted by the band as a side moniker, though the through line between data points we have so far is vague when it comes to differentiating an Osees track from an Oh Sees track. ‘Osees’ debuted last year with one of the band’s more left-field efforts in The 12″ Synth, a collection of two 20-minute progressive electronic odysseys, but synths are where the similarities begin and end between that project and the punchy punker “Blood on Your Boots”.
The opener on the upcoming Girlsville benefit compilation Be Gay, Do Crime!, which seeks to raise funds for Prism Health in Portland, Oregon, “Blood on Your Boots” may just be the closet thing to a straight up punk track the group’s produced since at least 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last. Marching forward with deliberate, righteous fury, “Blood on Your Boots” still allows the more eccentric elements of Osees’ recent work to shine through on the looped progressive main riff and the noisy clusters of electronics skittering below the surface. Dywer’s signature crazed and just intelligible vocals cry for revolution across its minute-and-forty (“Just remove their heads / And the rest are sure to die”), setting the tone for an eclectic assortment of rage-fueled punk rock.
You can listen to Osees’ “Blood on Your Boots” below:
Be Gay, Do Crime! includes 19 tracks, including the likes of acts such as Gen Pop, UK Gold, UV-TV, Blues Lawyer, The Primitives, Special Interest, and more. You can also listen to Gen Pop’s “You Can Chew” below:
‘Be Gay, Do Crime!’ releases August 1st and is available to pre-order here now on digital and cassette. You can follow Osees on their website and on Dwyer’s label Castle Face, and you can follow Girlsville on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Today, we’re honored to premiere Not Your Dog!, the upcoming album from Christchurch digital hardcore artist Internet Death.
Last year’s Mega Sony Death Kill!, the debut effort from the now 16-year-old New Zealander Finlay Anderson, was the work of someone who was absolutely pissed, though not without apt reason. Anderson began his foray into the world of music as Internet Death with the sentiments “Antifa / Punch a Nazi til I die” and “You need to find some love in your heart / But first, you need a fucking beatdown, cunt” and we’re pleased to say that Not Your Dog! does not see him chill the fuck out, but rather ramp up the aggression to a near unfathomable degree in a blistering electronic slaughter that claims white supremacists, cops, gun fetishists, and any breed of destructive moronic asshole as bloody scalps to wave with pride.
Though its pace is more deliberate than what ultimately ensues, the opening title track of Not Your Dog! quickly sets a tone of brutality redirected at those who inflict it themselves without thought or provocation, laying out heavy sheets of harsh, cluttered electronics as he screams “I’M NOT YOUR BITCH! / NO I’M NOT YOUR FUCKING DOG!” with every breath in his lungs in beat with an industrial stomp. After a sample break which mocks the alt-right fielded concept that “conservatism is the new punk rock”, it morphs into what can be described as bouncy techno, gleeful but darkly so as Anderson dances among the guts of his enemies.
“Cyber Ghouls Must Feed!” represents a shock to the system of a wholly different variety. In fact, to call it digital hardcore is misleading: it’s much closer to digital death metal, a minute and a half of rapid fire drum machine blast beats and soul swallowing growls. Single “Name of the Law!” is perhaps the most worthy of the traditional hardcore label, propulsive and vicious in a way that few songs can claim to be. “Fucckk!” meanwhile opens with an unhinged vocal meltdown fractured by a glitchy passage before re-visting the ideas first planted on the latter half of the opener. It’s on tracks such as this and “Suspect Nxmber Nxne!” where comparisons to Mindless Self Indulgence feel most appropriate with their zany compositions, though it’s not a stretch to say Internet Death, who is, again, only 16, approaches his material with considerably more maturity. MSI could often slip into shock jock territory for the sake of it, whereas while Anderson is a big fan of colorful language, he’s quite a bit better at the justification for it. As a whole, the eccentricity of Not Your Dog! may actually be more in line with that of The Garden’s brand of political bizarro punk.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t bring attention to “Will Change!” and closer “Paradox!”, both of which mark moments of comparative levity. “Will Change!” is still quite forceful in the delivery of its message, yet still mark a moment where melody takes lead over rhythm. “Paradox!” however, ends the album on a rather relaxed note with a vapor-touched drum and bass instrumental. The infer messaged is that by the end of Not Your Dog!, 20 minutes straight of shouting about all the dumb shit in the world, Anderson is exhausted. He doesn’t want to be angry anymore, he wants things to be better (though he’ll stay pissed as long as he has too).
It’s hard not to be incredibly excited for the future of a kid with this much versatility, vision, and most importantly, passion. A bonafide soundtrack to the revolution once the heads start rolling, Not Your Dog! is top grade “punch a Nazi til you die” music.
You can stream Internet Death’s Not Your Dog! below:
Favorite tracks: “Not Your Dog!”, “Name of the Law!”, “Will Change!”
Amidst the social unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, one of the most recent and public incidents in a long history of police brutality informed enforced by the roots of systemic racism, one tiny bright spot has been the world of independent music of support. That said, for many, it took this to re-examine how they operate and what more they could be doing. Many of the steps to take should be obvious to many, but the shift from exclusivity to inclusivity takes more than a few weeks of support that dissipate as addressing inequality no longer feels “topical”. That fear is very real, that the passion we see right now will fade into nothingness. While it is expected and understood that it may not be as encompassing in the months to come (though it may be, if continually given reason to be), the fight for equality must be persistent. It is multi-layered, it is intersectional, and it must be addressed as such.
One of our favorite labels, Grimalkin Records, issued a statement today that includes helpful and incredibly reasonable suggestions on how white individuals in the DIY scene can not only be inclusive now, but implement inclusivity more thoroughly and permanently from here on out. We at COUNTERZINE suggest reading through this statement below and brainstorming ways in which you can better support those who have been underrepresented. There are steps to this, and we’re far from perfect ourselves, but steps need to be taken. Think about in what ways, however small, are you able to support you fellow human beings who have not seen support for so long.
Read Grimalkin’s statement below:
You can learn more about the Grimalkin collective via their website.
Today, on Juneteenth, the day of emancipation, we bring to you The Blackwashing, an eclectic assortment of 24 tracks from some of the best and brightest black underground artists going today.
Conceptualized and spearheaded by mynameisblueskye and his new label ASAS in partnership with staple independent label Z Tapes and ourselves, The Blackwashing was coined as such as something of a counterattack: to whitewash has been to obscure, often by the whites who take social and political power and craft the narratives to fit their agendas. In response and in this context, to blackwash is to to reveal, to shine a light upon what and who has been ignored. Socially, it seems as though we may finally be at the point where what were previously open secrets regarding the systemic racism stitched into the very fiber of our nation’s institutions are now simply open, impossible to ignore for even the most passive among us. Similarly, with this compilation, we hope to spotlight black artists who in many cases have received but a fraction of attention that they deserve.
That’s not to say everything on The Blackwashing will be unfamiliar: there’s a good chance you’ve heard Kimya Dawson’s stark, harrowing 2015 spoken word piece “At the Seams” before, though if you haven’t, today’s a good a day as any as it’s still depressingly relevant five years later (and updated for The Blackwashing). Elsewhere, you’ll find sounds and perspectives that run the gamut, from The Cocker Spaniels’ funk-infused indie rocker “Snuff Film” which tackles the uncomfortable fact that it took something as disgusting as the George Floyd murder and its mass circulation to finally get people’s attention en masse, the zany and chaotic art pop of Jhariah’s “Split”, the Freaky Friday race-swap punk of Imani Coppola’s “Woke Up White” where she makes use of her newfound privilege to get away with all the dumb shit white people get away with, the seven-minute experimental synth hop epic of Savan DePaul’s “Final Flight of the Dying Cicada”, the ingenious blend of synthwave and brass instrumentation on the soulful “Shiparound” from Model Decoy, and a beautiful cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “You Don’t Have to Cry” from Citrus City’s Shormey. And that, as you might’ve been hearing a lot recently, is just “the tip of the iceberg”.
Yes, this one is “political”, and yes, it has to be. How could it fucking not be, at a time where the festering wounds of social and political inequality have been displayed for the world after having been poorly, sloppily hidden for far too long? It’s time to apply disinfectant, clean out the puss that is a law enforcement system whose roots were first planted deep in the soil of racism. To those who think this started a few weeks ago, this might sting a bit, but you best buck up. We’ve waited too long to heal: it’s time to get started. We hope The Blackwashing can provide a soundtrack to that healing.
You can stream The Blackwashing in its entirety below:
‘The Blackwashing’ is out now via ASAS, Z Tapes, and COUNTERZINE and is available to purchase digitally through Z Tapes’ Bandcamp. All proceeds will be donated to and split between the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Bail Out, Community Justice Exchange National Bail Fund, Homeless Black Trans Women Fund, and You Good, Sis.
Today, we’re excited to premiere the newest track from Philadelphia bedroom pop artist Port Lucian, “20z”.
Queer musician (and self-described “hermit) Portia Maidment, Port Lucian follows up earlier 2020 singles “Give It Up” and “Full Control?” with “20z”, a track most obviously inspired by turning recently turning 20 and the combination of uncertainty at that age as well as the psychological angst involved with feeling like you should be more certain at that arbitrary milestone. More specifically, Maidment examines these feelings through the lens of “long car rides [they] would take to Oberlin every weekend from Cleveland, and the timeless sort of feeling that going down the highway gives [them]” back when she lived in Ohio. Ultimately, “20z” is a track about time sneaking up on you when it feels like you’re trapped still in some sort of rift, whether it be the highway or anywhere you’re left to contemplate where you are in life and where you think you should be.
In terms of form and texture, it’s tempting to compare “20z” to music of Beach House with its thick haze of reverb, delay, and fuzz, though while it’s a generally gentle composition, there is notably more sporadic anxiety present than in much of that Baltimore duo’s work. The delay effect applied to Maidment’s vocals in particular could be described as “dreamy”, but disorienting may be more apt, spaced a bit further than many similar tricks implemented by artists going for a purely relaxed and nostalgic sound. Combine this with a surprising fade out-and-back-in and a rhythm which is both more active and tense than much of what the dream pop/shoegaze world offers (and undergoes a notable shift around the midway point) and “20z” ends up a surreal reflection of nostalgia’s decay amidst existential dread and the unknowable future.
You can stream “20z” below:
Port Lucian’s “20z” releases tomorrow, June 19th, and will be available for purchase at her Bandcamp. You can follow Port Lucian on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit their website to keep up-to-date with her work.
Today, we’re thrilled to share “Spun, Pt. II”, the new track from NYC ambient/drone artist Leaaves, as well as announce his upcoming album on Strategic Tape Reserve, 12 Worlds.
It feels like just yesterday that we first covered the music of Nate Wagner in our premiere of “This Is a Frozen House…”, and then we remember it’s been 10 months: enough time for him to release cassettes with Feels So Reel (Caught, the tape from which the aforementioned track comes), Personal Archives (December’s Viennese Period), and Alien Garage (February’s Moon King). Considering the prolific purveyor of experimental instrumentals’ tendency to travel the tape label landscape, it seemed only a matter of time before Wagner teamed up with our favorite German ferric material disseminator, Strategic Tape Reserve. After more than two dozen projects, Leaaves’ now prepares for the release of 12 Worlds on the imprint.
Wagner, a guitarist by trade, makes music stands out among the STR pack, if largely due to its relative strait-laced focus on beauty when contrasted against the oddity of conceptual compilations centered around Nordic-walking and Welsh audiobooks. Whettman Chelmets might be the closest comparison on label, though if Chelmets is more Boards of Canada-meets-Godspeed, Leaaves’ work is closer to that of Basinski. “Spun, Pt. II” is a gorgeous minimalist guitar piece, looped and disintegrated as it were. There’s an air of cold that persists from “This Is a Frozen House…”, but if that track was the sounds of freezing over completely, “Spun, Pt. II” is more akin to a cool, gentle wind on an otherwise sunny day: more refreshing than chilling.
You can stream Leaaves’ “Spun, Pt. II” below:
12 Worlds tracklist:
“Limits of Distance”
“Entering the Heart”
“Spun, Pt. II”
“I Don’t Want to Grow Older”
’12 Worlds’ releases June 19th, cassette and digital, on Strategic Tape Reserve and is available to pre-order here now. Be sure to follow Leaaves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud for further updates.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Den of Sin! I am your lovely host, TS Denizen, the denizen of the Den of Sin. Afford me the time to provide you with a brief summation of my story. I am not of the planet you call Earth. I hail from the planet Sinestra. On the planet Sinestra, I, along with many of the other Sinestrians, were not permitted to express our true selves. Our Elders believed there was a correct Way to Be that all Sinestrians were duty bound to adhere to, whether this Way to Be was the Way we Were, or not. The oppression of my soul was too great to bear! So I stole a space pod of my World and flew it to the nearest inhabited World which my Elders deemed Sinful: Earth. Here, I fell in deep love with Earth culture, and Earth music in particular. Each song was an undiscovered reflection of my own soul! And so I established this Den of Sin to share with you myself, others, and most importantly, yourselves.”
The Den of Sin is a program that mixes elements traditional music radio with scripted radio drama. We play rock music from the indie-ground within the context of a sci-fi black comedy. Throw John Peel and Ed Wood in a blender together and the resulting blood smoothie hopefully tastes something like this show.
Episodes fall under different categories. “Experiments” are the “main” series. These episodes are scripted and add to the Den of Sin multi-verse in tangible, story-related ways.
“Studies” are interview episodes. A guest comes on and one of the characters asks them questions about who they are and what they do, and the guest selects the playlist.
Regardless of your poison (or if you like to roll the dice and mix like me), I hope you find something in the Den that is to your liking.
TS names their Frankenstein bitch, accidentally orders a hit, discovers their inner music producer, and learns that slavery isn’t very gorgeous.
“I’m Shot” MAMA
“Astro Zombies” Misfits
“Slave Girl” Lime Spiders
“Boys Girls” Clorox Girls
“Perks and the Thrills (Pills)” Constant Mongrel
“It’s So Big It’s Fluorescent” M.O.T.O.
“I Am Romance” Flesh Lights
“You Know How to Love Me” Phyllis Hyman
“Sex Stuff” Shawn Kosmo
“Blood Drips” Teledrome
“Top Slut” Timecopz
“Invasion” Lamprea Explosiva
“High on Pot” Bean Head and Donutboy
“Sex” The Urinals
“Raw Meat” Black Lips
“Play It Cool” Kurt Baker
“Savage Affection” Cheater Slicks
“Filthy Fuck” Brainbombs
“See Inside” Factums
“Wounded White Dove” Timmy’s Organism
“The Phyllis Kopper Auditory Torture Regimen” TS Denizen
“Permission 2 Love” Volunteer Dad
“Karaoke Love Song” (from “The Happiness of the Katakuris” Soundtrack)
“This Is Pop?” XTC
This is an archival episode originally released May 10th, 2016.
So I got this cool little 7″ four song multi-artist compilation from It’s Trash! Records the other day (along with some others) exclusively featuring punk bands from Hamilton, ON. On the A-side we have tracks from Flesh Rag as well as Jimmy and the Jerks, and on the B-side we’ve got Get off the Cop and Noble Savages.
Flesh Rag’s song “I Gotta Go” is a bouncy garage rock number just leaning into punk territory characterized by simple, loud drumming and a jagged guitar riff. The groove’s pretty good on this one.
Jimmy and the Jerks’ track “Critical Mass Critical Trash” is my least favorite here. I’m usually not much of a fan of vocals being mixed as loud as they are here when it comes to the garage and/or hardcore varieties of punk, and the drumming’s pretty plain. The bass is definitely on point though.
The real winners are on the B-side. “Joy Device” by Get off the Cop has a sick cowpunk jaunt of a riff driving it and the vocals are real gross, just like I like ’em. It moves along with that swagger, then explodes into cacophony, then retreads back. Dynamics and the mix of styles on this one are awesome and I can’t say I’ve heard much quite like it.
“She’s So Serious” is Noble Savages’ contribution. It’s pretty straightforward punk, but the “She’s so so so so so so serious” chorus gets me shouting along, and guitar tone is raw, like stripping metal. Good stuff.
Noise Pollution is a fun little sampler of what Hamilton’s punk scene has to offer. It probably won’t change your life, but it’s definitely worth a listen. Nothing offensive, two good songs, and a real gem in “Joy Device”.