8track: Happy Out, Francis of Delirium, The High Ceilings, jxss, MUNDAZE., Crisco Dreams, Secret Knives, Tilly Dent

8track: Happy Out, Francis of Delirium, The High Ceilings, jxss, MUNDAZE., Crisco Dreams, Secret Knives, Tilly Dent

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Happy Out, Francis of Delirium, The High Ceilings, and jxss, while Program 2 features music by MUNDAZE., Crisco Dreams, Secret Knives, and Tilly Dent.


Program 1


A1: Happy Out – “Deadhead 2”

happy out
Happy Out

Kicking things off with some noisy boys from Donegal, Ireland, we have Happy Out with “Deadhead 2”, the middle selection of their ‘Deadhead’ trilogy. While we certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call the angsty drunk-punk assault of “Deadhead 2” subtle, there’s a definite deftness to the way guitarist Ciaran Coyle crafts addictive and cathartic melodies of distortion, just as sure as he spills pained, slurred vocals all over that canvas of controlled chaos. It’s packaged tightly, even if the actual sound invokes an image of barely legal rowdy boys stumbling out of a pub after one too many rounds. The band note their influence and support of acts such as Titus Andronicus and Idles frontman Joe Talbot, which makes sense, but we’ll add “PUP but less indebted to pop punk and more indebted to 90s-early 2000s noise rock” to that list as well. “Deadhead 2” comes from the band’s debut conceptual EP Is, Was, Wasn’t, which is available to purchase here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A2: Francis of Delirium – “Quit Fucking Around”

Francis of Delirium

Next, we have “Quit Fucking Around”, a catchy, youthful, and energetic indie rock jam from Luxembourg-based band Francis of Delirium. The band’s first true single following an April 2019 demos release, “Quit Fucking Around” is a clear and direct anthem seeking to shake a young generation out of cyclical, negative thinking. 18 years old, frontwoman Jana Bahrich speaks to herself as much as she does to the rest of Gen Z when she acknowledges the struggles against hopelessness when you feel as though you’ve “lost the controls to [your] own game” in a mess of a world largely made for you by preceding generations, while still insistent that these thoughts won’t make the situation better, cutting through the defeatist self-talk with the belted chorus of the song’s namesake. “Quit Fucking Around” comes from the band’s upcoming April 2020 EP, but the single is available pay-what-you-want here right now. (socials: website, Facebook, Instagram)


A3: The High Ceilings – “On the Line”

high ceilings
The High Ceilings

Following a song born of helplessness and frustration, is yet another song born of hopelessness and frustration (it’s a mood a lot of us are maybe kinda feeling right now): The High Ceiling’s “On the Line”. “On the Line” harnesses that frustration differently than “Quit Fucking Around”, however, embracing bitterness and railing against those who would attempt to dictate and grandstand regarding the behaviors and opinions of others. The High Ceilings’ scoff at those who would present themselves as infallible, with vocalist Ben Horder noting “everybody’s got a point of view, everyone’s got some shit stuck underneath their shoe” and stressing the importance of acknowledging your own issues before going after others with moral impunity. The sound and melodies themselves, however, are much lighter and breezier than you might expect, blending Australian favorite jangle pop with bits of grit from folk and country rock: a cool, refreshing wind, with some little specks of dirt occasionally smacking you in the face. It’s The Clean, pissed the fuck off, with a harmonica: it’s pretty good. “On the Line” is available to purchase here, and the band look to release their debut LP Murrah Hill early this year. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A4: jxss – “crooks”


Closing program 1 is “crooks” from Toronto-based singer-songwriter jxss. “crooks” is a crunchy, tense shuffle of a lo-fi noise pop tune relaying the inner battle with anxiety: fitting, as it sounds the type of track to nervously pace around the living room. jxss waxes on how it controls her, from preventing her from going out when she otherwise might want to, or speaking out, bemoaning that whenever she musters the the emotional wherewithal to “tear [its] walls down”, it simply “knock[s] [her] out”, “always [having] [its] way with [her]”. It’s an energetic track, but introverted and slightly jittery, aided by fuzzy, distorted guitars and brief, sudden rhythm shifts. “crooks” is out now and available to purchase here(socials: Twitter, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: MUNDAZE. – “Happy”


So program 1 was a lot of hopelessness, bitterness, and anxiety. Luckily, we start with California indie pop band MUNDAZE. and their song “Happy”! Great, right!? Time to get cheery! Welp… nope. This bouncy, twangy little gem is about anti-commercialism, depression, and the “fake-it-til-you-make-it” approach to happiness! Yay! The band run through all the things we’re told should make us happy: houses, cars, days at the beach, each one leaving them feeling as empty as the last: the house is not a home, the car can’t take them to a place where they feel better, etc. Ultimately, they find solace in “an eighth of weed and smok[ing] it til [they] make believe [they’re] so happy”. This Santa Cruz, country-flavored, laid-back, escapist stoner pop joint comes from the band’s late 2019 album Tangerine, which is available pay-what-you-want here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B2: Crisco Dreams – “Skater on the Lake”

crisco dreams
Crisco Dreams

As much as we keep saying we don’t like to pick favorites on these, we keep picking favorites on these: “Skater on the Lake” from Baltimore indie country band Crisco Dreams is a gorgeous and intimate ode to taking time for yourself, characterized by its naturalistic poeticism, soulful, earthy vocals, intricate acoustic guitar work, and tasteful, selective use of steel pedal. It’s a bit like a great The Tallest Man on Earth song, though the lyrics less abstract and Nicky MB’s vocals more of a classic croon compared to Mattson’s gravely whine. He sings “there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing” when speaking of activity with others, rejecting invitations so he can “skate on the lake”, while still appreciating the thought and noting he’ll be free another day. A grounded, superbly written tune wielding relatability and a bit of near undefinable magic: if songs were coffee, this would be our choice blend. “Skater on the Lake” is available to purchase here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B3: Secret Knives – “Simple Bliss”

secret knives
Secret Knives

Next up, we have Wellington, New Zealand’s Secret Knives with “Simple Bliss”. Riding on top a wave of a twinkling, looped piano and rhythmic shaker, Ash Smith’s shaky, childlike vocals paint in vivid watercolor morbid imagery with neurotic purpose (“I shiver and I feel a fever / See my head beneath the cleaver / To the butcher I request / Make sure my mess is elegant!”) followed by harsh blasts of noise. On several levels, it feels reminiscent of the earlier work of Avey Tare, particularly Spirit They’re Gone Spirit They’ve Vanished: take the elements of the sprawling “Chocolate Girl” or “Alvin Row” and cram them into a pop song little under four minutes, you might get something like “Simple Bliss”. Also of note is this incredible music video: a psychedelic odyssey fueled by the experimental animation of New Zealand On Air. “Simple Bliss” comes from Secret Knives’ album Snuff, available digitally and on cassette via Prison Tapes here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B4: Tilly Dent – “Castle of Sand”

tilly dent
Tilly Dent

We close out this 8track with “Castle of Sand” from London singer-songwriter Tilly Dent. This isn’t the first time we’ll compare an artist to Elliott Smith, and it likely won’t be the last, but perhaps we should be a bit more specific: not Roman Candle era, more Figure 8 era, still deeply affected by sorrow and anger, but not so much violent and raw, more close and achingly clear. “Castle of Sand” sounds sweet, with Dent’s soft vocals leaning into you as the guitar melody weaves its way into your subconscious, so intrusive you can hear the strings creak as Dent shifts his hand on the neck. The lyrics, however, are black: existential dread and nihilism, the line “Castle of sand / Built but to fall / Look at your life / It means nothing at all” waxing on the futility of persisting through life when ultimately, it all crumbles like grains of sand. It’s achingly beautiful, but also, it just aches. “Castle of Sand” comes from Dent’s debut EP available here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


And the playlist:

8track: S3LF, Toko Joyce, Thrillhouse, Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo, Dear Moon, Mollie Coddled, Great Wave, Vain Pursuit

8track: S3LF, Toko Joyce, Thrillhouse, Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo, Dear Moon, Mollie Coddled, Great Wave, Vain Pursuit

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by S3LF, Toko Joyce, Thrillhouse and Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo, while Program 2 features music by Dear Moon, Mollie Coddled, Great Wave, and Vain Pursuit.


Program 1


A1: S3LF feat. Jai – “Don’t Think You Want It”


It will forever be a small tragedy that this Friday night party hip-hop gem courtesy of Sacramento rapper S3LF is being shared by us on a Saturday, but alas. “Don’t Think You Want It” is smooth. Silky smooth. And sly. S3LF effortlessly rides an impeccably groovy and infectious beat (courtesy of production duo Mind Majors) while dropping lines in reference to Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” and seducing the song’s subject. Basically, it’s a “get drunk and fucked” hedonistic pop rap banger, but a real classy one, and when R&B vocalist Jai delivers the sung hook, not a single panty remains un-dropped. You can here more from S3LF here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A2: Toko Joyce – “What Do I Know About Stars?”

toko joyce
Toko Joyce

And now we have a Sunday night song! We just can’t get anything right, can we? Next, we have “What Do I Know About Stars?” from Antwerp five piece Toko Joyce, a funky dance-punk number contemplative of how little we know about the universe. If you’re a Talking Heads fan, especially of the Songs About Buildings and Food era, here’s you new favorite song: Byrne-isms abound, especially in the guitars and vocals, and we can’t forget to mention the bongos. Yes, bongos, the only truly good instrument, make a glorious appearance on this quirky, philosophical ass shaker. The video is simple but good fun as well, green screening the windows of a room and rotating the settings of Earth and outer space to create the illusion that the band are flying through the sky as they play. You can check out more Toko Joyce here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A3: Thrillhouse – “One of These Days”

Thrillhouse - Press Photo

Following the Talking Heads-indebted Toko Joyce, we have… another band that probably appreciates Talking Heads! Alright, Thrillhouse are a little less on the nose about it with their debut single “One of These Days”, and are probably more Speaking in Tongues Talking Heads, but there was still no way we wouldn’t do these two back to back. “One of These Days” is definitely less spastic and eager, pushing a thick bass riff to the front and locking into a cool, easygoing groove. This isn’t to say there aren’t more chaotic moments: there are, particularly when the guitars burst forth with noisy blasts of distortion, but these moments are more impactful due to the generally relaxed movement of the track. I sent this one to my aunt and she mentioned that it reminded her of Miami Vice, which might have been aided by the DIY diorama music video in which a plastic toy car coasts down a road at slow, scenic pace surrounded by knick-knacks and memorabilia: plastic dinosaurs, Transformers, etc. Our favorite moments included when the car is abducted by some Bionicle-looking monstrosity and when it drives into GoldenEye 007 N64 cartridge, showing gameplay footage. “One of These Days” is Thrillhouse’s only track right now, with more to come in 2020, and you can keep up with them here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A4: Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo – “Hold Me Down”

Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo (photo credit: Emily Burtner)

Closing out program 1, we have “Hold Me Down” from Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo. If you’re familiar with Body Meat (whose Truck Music made Secat’s top 40 albums of 2019 list), Pedazo comes from the same Philadelphia scene of glitched out experimental R&B, incorporating footwork rhythms and elements of trap, with a blaring horn-like instrumental hook while drums erratically shuffle underneath. Pedazo’s vocals are something of a peculiar high-pitched mumble: an introverted delivery among the wild, extroverted production. You can also find touches of influence from folktronica, freak folk, and neo-psychedelia at moments, particularly when acoustic guitar and a sample of chirping birds emerge partway through, as well as the beat switch into the trance-inducing ending. “Hold Me Down” is off of Pedazo’s new LP ¿Pero Like Cómo E’tá?, released just yesterday at a price point of whatever-you-want. If it weren’t for that though, we might suggest holding out: just like Body Meat in the past, the album is set for release on cassette on Citrus City “soon” (a must buy, at least for us). (socials: Twitter, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: Dear Moon – “Queen of Silence”

dear moon
Dear Moon

Opening program 2, we have “Queen of Silence” from Scandinavian electro-rocker Dear Moon. Described as good fit for Alternative Nation if it were still around, there’s some truth to that statement: Dear Moon in form alone are perhaps closer to a more mainstream brand of alternative rock than you might be used to hearing from us, but there are a number of details that keep things interesting, namely the raw, rough-hewn vocals, rhythmically complex drums, and the massive 80s-esque synth passages. The band also recorded “Queen of Silence” in a living room in hopes of capturing a more lo-fi sound. Ultimately, what’s fascinating about “Queen of Silence” and Dear Moon is the oddity of making arena rock at home while also smashing together ideas from multiple past decades of popular rock music together. “Queen of Silence” is currently the band’s only released recording, but another single and full-length are planned for 2020 and you can keep up with their music here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B2: Mollie Coddled – “Love Deprived”

mollie coddled
Mollie Coddled

Next, we have the Leeds-based Mollie Coddled with her latest single, “Love Deprived”. Certainly an attention grabbing choice, it begins almost faster than immediately, Mollie already partway through her opening “hey” as the song opens, giving an immediate impression of urgency to a track that is otherwise a light and adorable slice of vintage soul pop. Comparison to Rex Orange County and especially Clairo are inevitable and invited by Mollie herself, which is far from a negative. Not everything needs to redefine music as we know it: being absolutely lovely is more than enough. If Mollie is deprived of love, there is something seriously wrong, so go give her some by checking out her other excellent single “Honey”, maybe throwing a couple bucks her way, and keeping an ear open for future work. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B3: Great Wave – “Sorry, Darling”

great wave
Great Wave

Scranton, Pennsylvania shoegaze band Great Wave are next with their second and most recent single “Sorry, Darling”. The shoegaze standards are here: hushed, sugary vocals and gauzy textures stacked on top of each other until they become near impenetrable. However, the depressive vocal register drop downs leading out of the chorus into ominous instrumental passages, as well as the cacophony of the final section, with clattering percussion and swirling, warping guitars swallowing up the song’s form like a vortex of dark matter, create a somber, eerie tone that helps to distinguish it from much of its ilk. You can pay-what-you-want for both of Great Wave’s singles, “Sorry, Darling” and the preceding “Garlic & Sage”, on Bandcamp(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B4: Vain Pursuit – “On and Off”

vain pursuit
Vain Pursuit

Closing out this 8track is “On and Off” from New York’s Vinny Ball aka Vain Pursuit. There were originally hopes to release Vain Pursuit’s Disease of More EP through our on-its-last-legs label branch before life happened and other things didn’t. For this song, I had even conceptualized and written up a script for a potential short film/music video featuring a gender swapped 1980s high school house party where a couple slow dance under neon light, alternating red and green, each crying tears red and green as well: when one cried green, the other cried red, shifting back and forth, never on the same page at the same time. It captures perfectly the bombastic angst of tumultuous teen love, where every little thing is so complicated and feels like the end of the world: slow moving, every detail stretched out, massive synths awash in nostalgic memories of messy romance, and pained, dramatic vocals. It’s almost cheesy, it’s almost too on-the-nose, but it’s entirely too earnest, charming, and emotionally effective to dismiss as such. Maybe everything happens for a reason. As we lack affiliation with Vain Pursuit, we can now say from an unbiased perspective: “On and Off” is an early SOTY candidate. Disease of More is available pay-want-you-want here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


And here’s the full playlist:

8track: NPVA, Synesthete, Akkodha, Megachoir, Low Kick Collective, Transpacifica, Zap Holmes, Whettman Chelmets

8track: NPVA, Synesthete, Akkodha, Megachoir, Low Kick Collective, Transpacifica, Zap Holmes, Whettman Chelmets

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by NPVA, Synesthete, Akkodha, and Megachoir, while Program 2 features music by Low Kick Collective, Transpacifica, Zap Holmes, and Whettman Chelmets.


Program 1


A1: NPVA – “Difficult Choice”


Russian producer NPVA starts off this edition of 8track with a “Difficult Choice”. It opens with the rhythmic clanging and rattling of metal before synths begin to pulse under the surface, building tension. A loud, quick marching drum beat then emerges, and the synths begin to rev like a motorcycle, winding up and further feeding the listeners anxiety. You can feel your muscles tighten, your skin get a little chillier, your heart rate rise a bit: an able soundtrack to a slasher film scene in a factory or cold storage, the killer skulking about as the soon to be victim hides and flees for their life. “Difficult Choice” is only one of four NPVA singles so far, including the awesomely alien “3Ga”, and you can listen to more of their work here(socials: Facebook)


A2: Synesthete – “Slow Burn”


Next, we have “Slow Burn” from New Yorker Synesthete. A much warmer track than the preceding “Difficult Choice”, Synesthete notes an inspiration from Goldroom, namely the desire to capture the feelings of summer — “waves, the slow setting sun, and warm nights”. It’s in the balmy glow radiating from the synths, washing away your worries. We imagine the track as a simple, beautiful two day cycle, with each day beginning with a daytime stroll on the sunny boardwalk capped off with a radiant and bedazzling nighttime fireworks display. You can check out more of Synesthete’s music here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A3: Akkodha – “Goodnight From Andromeda”


We keep things nice and cozy shifting into Philadelphia musician Akkodha’s “Goodnight From Andromeda”. We mentioned we saw “Slow Burn” as a two day cycle: then perhaps “Goodnight From Andromeda” is the peaceful dream connecting each day. Landing somewhere between dream pop and space rock, it’s led by a gentle acoustic guitar melody and backed by swirling synthesizers and the sounds of nighttime nature. In your dream, your slowly rise from your bed and begin to float, drifting upwards towards where the fireworks just danced: their light has now left the sky and you soar in their stead. “Goodnight From Andromeda” comes from Akkodha’s album Escape, which you can pay-what-you-want for here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A4: Megachoir – “Air Pockets”


No peaceful dream can last forever: we close out program 1 with “Air Pockets”, another eerie piece of industrial electronic this time courtesy of Megachoir. “Air Pockets” may not be as directly tense or foreboding as “Difficult Choice”, but it may be creepier. Rather than there being something bad about to happen, it already has. There’s something in the air on “Air Pockets”, and that something is a mangled, disembodied voice: a garbled voicemail that found its way to Megachoir years ago, the sender still unknown to this day. So yeah, it’s fucking haunted. This is haunted music. Beyond that, it’s glitchy, brooding, cold, tribal, and gives us the heebie jeebies in the best way. “Air Pockets” is from Megachoir’s recent album Samizdat Season Vol. 1, which you can purchase here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: Low Kick Collective – “One Who Seeks an Exit”

Low Kick Collective

We return to Russia with our program 2 opener “One Who Seeks an Exit” from Low Kick Collective. The deep, rich tones of the saxophone on this dark jazz piece are front and center as the star, but the bass directs tone, slinking in its front half before letting loose in a funkier middle section, then sliding back into its sinister groove. Towards the end, the drums and strings grow more wild and chaotic prior to the emergence of a warping electronic drone that closes it out in an attempt to swallow the band. “One Who Seeks an Exit” is from the collective’s album Exhale, available to purchase here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B2: Transpacifica – “NOPAC”


Flying over to Ireland and shifting gears to something more ‘refreshing’, we have Transpacifica and their synthwave jam “NOPAC”. “NOPAC” comes from Transpacifica’s concept EP New Cascadia, which imagines “a beautiful forest community in the mountains, where the air is clean and fresh, the water runs crystal clear and the sun brightens the world through the leaves of great trees”. In that sense, it is similarly interested in synth-induced escapism as its more hazy, past dwelling genre brethren. However, rather than look backward and inward, it looks forward and outward to a place and future still possible, with synths as bright, clean, and clear as the sun, air, and water it looks to evoke. You can listen to the rest of and purchase New Cascadia here(socials: Facebook, Twitter)


B3: Zap Holmes – “Dishs Do Dishs”

zap holmes
Zap Holmes

Next, we visit Sweden and the experimental trip hop of producer Zap Holmes’ “Dishs Do Dishs” (yes, we spelled that right). There’s both a playfulness and a sadness to this one: running sink water creates a backdrop, while the beat clatters like the banging of pots and pans. The other elements of the instrumental, namely the mellow but slightly ‘off’ synths and the jittery rhythm of the drums, come together to form an domestic atmosphere that skirts the line between cozy and disquieting (Holmes notes: “The song is about battles in a relationship. Who’s gonna do the dinner, who’s gonna do the dishes. Nobody does it. Everything gets fucked.”). When everything does get fucked on “Dishs Do Dishs”, at it’s most busy, it is glorious. “Dishs Do Dishs” is from Shudda Wudda Cudda, which you can listen to and buy here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B4: Whettman Chelmets – “But I Need to”

Whettman Chelmets

Finally, we close with the most recent track from COUNTERZINE regular Whettman Chelmets, “But I Need to”. The pre-release single for the upcoming I Don’t Want to Let Go, but I Need to Let Go, the third of a memory-based trilogy of releases beginning with Doesn’t Remember… and continuing with Long Read Memories, “But I Need to” relates to the struggle to move on from the past, which is reflected in its sound and composition. It’s claustrophobic and suffocating, as if being smothered by a blanket, yet also warm and comforting, just like that same blanket. Soft and harsh. Light and heavy. As it swells, it becomes almost too much to bear. He doesn’t want to let go: but he needs to. I Don’t Want to Let Go, but I Need to Let Go releases January 31 and is up for pre-order now, with tapes via Misophonia Records, while digital and CDs are available direct from Whettman Chlemets. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


Update: playlist now available

8track: Blossomers, Tiny Tiny, William Lawrence, Supertandad, Gardensnakes, HOTMOM, BEX, Of House

8track: Blossomers, Tiny Tiny, William Lawrence, Supertandad, Gardensnakes, HOTMOM, BEX, Of House

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Blossomers, Tiny Tiny, William Lawrence, and Supertandad, while Program 2 features music by Gardensnakes, HOTMOM, BEX, and Of House.


Program 1


A1: Blossomers – “Pseudophilia”


To kick us off on this edition of 8track, we have a quirky and flamboyant indie rocker from Austria’s Blossomers. “Pseudophilia”, the title track off of their recent debut album on Hinterhof Records, means “the love of the fake”, and seems to take aim at the delusions involved when imagining ideals, including those in regards to relationships. The chorus “Pseudophilia / You’re the real thing / I can see you / But I don’t feel a thing” implies some pretty heavy philosophical ideas, namely that many ‘healthy’ relationships lacking in emotional conflict are superficial as partners see the complexities and baggage each other carry, but mutually ignore them in order to maintain peace, preferring superficial “ooh baby, ooh la la”s to true emotional engagement. The sound here is pretty fascinating too: you can hear the influence of Latin rock on the rhythm of the verses, while a later, heavier section featuring soaring guitars is reminiscent of alternative metal. Despite looking like Adam Rose’s metrosexual cousins, there’s a lot of depth to Blossomers thematically and musically. You can listen to the rest of Pseudophilia here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A2: Tiny Tiny – “Contempt”

boone tiny tiny
Boone Williams of Tiny Tiny

Somerset, Kentucky’s Tiny Tiny are up next with their track “Contempt” from their Stripes EP released less than a month ago on Definition Of Records. Two things quickly capture our attention with this one: the bitter nihilism of lyrics such as “Got a match, man / Light it up then / Build it up just to tear it all down again / And that’s the price of / Believing / Gouged eyes look so deceiving / And you’re so proud then / Of nothing / Just a baby playing in your shit there / Do it this way / Hey, that’s where the money is / Nothing ever really made a difference anyway” contrasted with Boone Williams’ soft, earthy vocals, as well as the oddly warped electronics skittering beneath the lead melody, hinting at an ambition beyond standard indie pop. By the time the mouth sounds and tribal rhythms of the chorus emerge, it’s undergone a total shift into a blend of psychedelia, freak folk, and electronica handled tastefully enough to never feel convoluted or overwhelming. Awesome stuff, and you can hear more of Tiny Tiny and Stripes here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A3: William Lawrence – “Back From Where I’ve Been”

William Lawrence

From William Lawrence’s latest album Slow Dancing on a High Wire, the pastoral dream that is “Back From Where I’ve Been” is our third track of Program 1. A bright and airy slow moving country crooner, the verses are characterized by bright and soaring steel guitar, a steady, echoed drum, and Lawrence’s weary yet soulful vocals, but the song’s beauty truly soars during the instrumental passages where the brass and woodwinds join in and meld together. The result is euphoric, and you can listen to the rest of the lovely Slow Dancing on a High Wire here. Lawrence is also the drummer for The Felice Brothers, and you can check out their most recent album Undress here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A4: Supertandad – “Tumble”


Portland’s Supertandad sees us off of this program on a drifting storm cloud with “Tumble” from his GoodGrief single. Written after his brother had a drug relapse, it’s steeped in a depressive tonal atmosphere and reverb-induced confusion, capturing both the shock and emotional drain the news gave him. Be warned: this is a dark, very unhappy song, with lyrics referring to it being better if he hated his brother and dreaming of drowning. If the idea of Elliot Smith returning to us to make a shoegaze record sounds appealing to you, Supertandad should be right up your alley, and you can check out more of his music here(socials: Instagram)


Program 2


B1: Gardensnakes – “Sssnakeskin”

Joey Vanderslice of Gardensnakes (photo credit: Adam Altman)

Well, a lot of Program 1 was a bummer (in a good, therapeutic cry way). Let’s try something a little more ‘fun’ with a big fuckin’ raucous garage punk jam in Gardensnakes’ “Sssnakeskin”. The brainchild of Joey Vanderslice, Gardensnakes put forth a rocker rife with fat, fuzzy riffs and unhinged vocals attempting to break through the wall of sound like a muffled scream. It starts slow and groovy, but by the end it’s mowing you down like a freight train. Sure, there are a lot of bands doing this kind of thing, but that only stands to show how impressive Gardensnakes are for being the catch of the day when there are so many fish in the sea. You can listen to the rest of Gardensnakes’ self-titled debut album here(socials: Instagram)


B2: HOTMOM – “Crutch”


Carrying over the propulsive momentum from the end of “Sssnakeskin” are Austin, Texas’ HOTMOM with the blistering hardcore of “Crutch”. The lead single from their upcoming Crass Lips EP Stupid Vegan Band, “Crutch” is pure, bottled raw aggression smashed over your dome. The band refer to themselves as “dum vegan liberal propoganda”, which, let the record show, is one of our favorite strains of propoganda, especially when it’s this violent. We normally don’t condone crowd killing here at COUNTERZINE, but this makes me want crowd kill MAGAts. Stupid Vegan Band is out January 24 and is available to pre-order here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B3: BEX – “Hope You’re Warm”


Asheville’s BEX bring us back to the sad stuff with the lead single from their upcoming EP Don’t Mess With Bexas. “Hope You’re Warm” was written in the wake of and based off the experience of losing a friend: the grief, as well as the regret. Direct lyrics such as “Lights flicker and doors creak / I think it’s you telling me / You made it through”, “Wish you warned someone / Wish I had replied”, and “I miss my friend and I’ll see / Or hear your voice again someday” hit hard, and the sound exists somewhere between the land of dreams and reality, active and clear enough to imbue the surreal aftermath of a loved one passing with unavoidable, unmissable devastation. Don’t Mess With Bexas releases Valentine’s Day, February 14 and is available to pre-order here(socials: Facebook)


B4: Of House – “Get Free”

Of House (in motion)

We close things out with Detroit’s Of House and their song “Get Free” off of their album Feelings. Featuring the beating heart of a steady drum machine, hushed, blended male/female vocals, thick, chunky guitar chords, and a simple but effective synth hook, “Get Free” is about perseverance against the burdens the world places upon you. It’s not grandiose in the traditional sense: the moment that they bust out for a big moment and “get free” never truly comes over the course of the song, but you can still feel their strength and positivity rumbling, undeterred. That’s what life is really: you never truly “get free” in the literal sense, but the constant rally to do so is empowering and liberating in its own way. What I’m trying to say is this one is both a bummer and uplifting, which is pretty cool. You can listen the rest of and pay-what-you-want for Feelings here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)

8track: Jared Doherty, Spring Teeth, Tender Tones, Lyndsi Austin, The Hatchets, Jon Cocker, Cyd Williams, Ocean Onyx

8track: Jared Doherty, Spring Teeth, Tender Tones, Lyndsi Austin, The Hatchets, Jon Cocker, Cyd Williams, Ocean Onyx

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Jared Doherty, Spring Teeth, Tender Tones, and Lyndsi Austin, while Program 2 features music by The Hatchets, Jon Cocker, Cyd Williams, and Ocean Onyx.


Program 1


A1: Jared Doherty – “Keep the Balloon”

Jared Doherty

Opening up this 8track is Kamloops (what an awesome name for a city) singer-songwriter Jared Doherty and his single “Keep the Balloon”. An important factor to consider in psychedelic music is provoking the imagination, often by way of stimulating it into conjuring a visual representation of the sounds we’re hearing. We see the unmade music video on this one: hazy film of a child at a carnival, holding a balloon limply waving along in the wind low to the ground to Doherty’s slightly shaky vocals and warbling, squeaking synths until SUDDENLY!… the child loses their grip just as the song erupts into loud, textured guitar noise. Condense the lengthy, surrealist epics of Mercury Rev’s Yerself Is Steam and Boces into a more contained space (maybe a balloon?) and you might end up with something similar to this. Beyond “Keep the Balloon”, Doherty’s solo catalog is limited to his 2018 album Small Window as of now (available on cassette), but you can also check out his band Mother Sun if you want to take another trip. (socials: Twitter, Instagram)


A2: Spring Teeth – “Winter Year-Round”

Spring Teeth

Nothing quite gets us pumped like a catchy ’90s style alt-rock jam with big, noisy riffs and infectious melodies and hooks, and Finnish band Spring Teeth deliver the goods with their single “Winter Year-Round”. The lyrics are simple but uplifting to match the energy of the performance and serve as something of an “it can get better” pep talk to the depressed. If you’re into Superchunk and bands of that ilk, this one’s a must-listen, and you can listen to the band’s other single “Land of Bones” here(socials: Facebook)


A3: Tender Tones – “Strangers From Ultra”

tender tones
Tender Tones

Next up is the ultra-catchy synth pop of “Strangers From Ultra” courtesy of Manon Deruytere and Maxime Pargaud, the French duo of Tender Tones. Quietly rumbling guitar, paired vocals, quickly pounding drums, and a huge ’80s-like synth-propelled chorus make this one a total nostalgia bomb. “Strangers From Ultra” for Stranger Things? The music video’s got some real manic energy as well: almost as much flailing as I do when I listen to this. You can listen to more Tender Tones here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A4: Lyndsi Austin – “Dancing in the Dark” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

lyndsi austin
Lyndsi Austin

Tidal Babes’ Lyndsi Austin makes a quick return to COUNTERZINE, this time with her solo cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”. Produced by Tidal Babes bandmate Chris Qualls, it operates within the same general synth pop framework of the original while slowing things down and imbuing it with a feminine touch. The result is familiar, but more ‘sultry’ and distinct enough in its approach to merit existing alongside the original. This is is Lyndsi’s only solo track as of now, but you can follow her on Bandcamp for future updates. And go ahead and check out her band’s Album Auto-nalysis of the OMG EP while you’re at it. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: The Hatchets – “Great Chorus”

The Hatchets (photo credit: Koryn Bennett)

Opening up our second program, we have “Great Chorus” by Milwaukee rockers The Hatchets. Starting with a base of quiet tension that builds and builds until it bubbles over at the “great chorus”, it’s a song of triumph: crunchy, wailing guitars, swelling horns, and active organ all aid in forming a grand atmosphere that draws you into to joining the refrain along with the smoky-voiced vocalist. “Great Chorus” comes from The Hatchets’ album The Uncounted Blue Jillions, which you can buy here digitally or on vinyl. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B2: Jon Cocker – “Green Blue”

jon cocker
Jon Cocker (photo credit: Richard Shashamané)

Next up, something a bit more subdued and contemplative in English singer-songwriter Jon Cocker’s “Green Blue”. Cocker’s excellent acoustic guitar playing, freewheeling sense for melody, soulful vocals, and intimate recordings on not only “Green Blue” but his entire self-titled EP make it easy to draw comparison between him and Nick Drake. As he sings “All my love fades to grey”, you feel the muted reality of heartache: no spectacle, just a lingering lack of colour. You can check out the rest of Cocker’s incredible EP here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B3: Cyd Williams – “Low”

Cyd Williams (photo credit: Hans-Jørgen Hersoug)

What if the The Cure were… sunny? Well, you might find yourself with something similar to our next track, “Low”. You can hear it in the guitar riff of the chorus on Copenhagen indie popper Cyd Williams’ single, but a slight tonal shift flips the sound entirely on its ear and creates a fascinating juxtaposition. We have to mention Cyd’s voice as well, which is just the right mix of “charmingly boyish but not childish” to have him blow up if it hits the right ears. He’s gonna be a heartbreaker, and you can condition yourself in advance by checking out more of his music here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B4: Ocean Onyx – “Wave of Dark Matter”

ocean onyx
Ocean Onyx

Finally, we close with a beautiful dream pop song with just a slight twinge of country from Swedish songstress Ocean Onyx. Consisting of gently drifting acoustic guitar (with the occasional twang of an electric), moody, airy synths (aside from one static-y one that likes to perk up and tickle the eardrums), and one of most gorgeous and soothing voices we’ve heard in a while, “Wave of Dark Matter” is a gentle wave deserving of being ridden on repeat. Check out more Ocean Onyx here to extend the length of your spirit massage. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


Somehow, it worked out again that every song is on Spotify, so here’s the playlist, kids. Not huge fans of the Big Spot here, but necessary evils and whatnot:

All Rap 8track: XANAKIN SKYWOK, One Line to an Angle, The Letter Noon, Mouse Sucks & Cranklin, Blazin Jayne, Ricky Wolfe, 3ple B, Wes Phili

All Rap 8track: XANAKIN SKYWOK, One Line to an Angle, The Letter Noon, Mouse Sucks & Cranklin, Blazin Jayne, Ricky Wolfe, 3ple B, Wes Phili

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by XANAKIN SKYWOK, One Line to an Angle, The Letter Noon, and Mouse Sucks & Cranklin, while Program 2 features music by Blazin Jayne, Ricky Wolfe, 3ple B, and Wes Phili.


Program 1




Don’t ever let anyone tell you COUNTERZINE is in good taste. However, we recall the John Waters quotation there is such a thing as good bad taste and bad bad taste” when considering Bay Area rapper XANAKIN SKYWOK’s single “Macho!”. Riding a “SUPER CATCHY MEXICAN BEAT” of jazzy trumpets and hi-hats that hit so hard you could call this track “Chancla Flocka Flame”, SKYWOK raps on nachos, tacos, and a “booty shakin’ like it was a broom”. It’s relentlessly dumb, but it’s also relentlessly fun. And relentless is the key word here: SKYWOK’s delivery is pure unbridled energy that’s nearly impossible to not get swept up in. His vocal chords may be completely shot five years from now, but SKYWOK is unconcerned with what ifs and all the better for it. It also opens with “damn, my stepmom got the fattest ass” and closes with “shout-out Ariana Grande, she got no tits”. God-tier idiocy right there. You can listen to more XANAKIN SKYWOK via his SoundCloud(socials: Twitter, Instagram)


A2: One Line to an Angle – “Break In/Out”

One Line to an Angle

Shifting gears to something a bit more ‘tasteful’, we have “Break In/Out” from London rapper/producer duo One Line to an Angle. A compelling fusion of conscious hip-hop, grime, and industrial, “Break In/Out” sees David provide a murky and neurotic beat that backdrops the frenetic urgency of Costi’s flow. It’s an operation: in the shadows, while everyone’s sleeping, One Line to an Angle set out to break in and be a disruptive force to your imaginary peace until they break out from the oppression you won’t acknowledge. The duo list a wide array of influences from Metallica and FKA Twigs to KRS-One and The Doors, but the one that really rings true to us is Kate Tempest. We’re also hearing a bit of clipping., which is of course never a bad thing. You can listen to more One Line to an Angle here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A3: The Letter Noon – “New Design Order”

the letter noon
The Letter Noon

Next up, we have the product of a meeting in Italy between Iranian producer Shirman and Miami rapper Emma Effers, The Letter Noon. And what would you know, the product of the product is about products! The project’s recent single “New Design Order” touches on the marketing and production obsessed world we live in, the effects of outsourcing, as well as the shift from physical to digital marketplaces. We don’t usually like to play favorites on these, but hell, if you ONLY have 3:35 to listen to music today, we’d advise this one: think Aesop Rock with less lyrical obfuscation and better hooks, or A Tribe Called Quest in a digital-era Trojan horse. Check out more The Letter Noon here. Seriously, it’s good shit. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A4: Mouse Sucks & Cranklin – “Eugene”

mouse sucks
Mouse Sucks

Wrapping up our Program 1 is our third rapper/producer combo, Canadian rapper Mouse Sucks and Brooklyn-based producer Cranklin. “Eugene” is the resident ‘sad boi’ of this 8track, opening with a hazy instrumental and Mouse Sucks singing “You held my hand by the lake / you told me things weren’t so great”, bursting into a hip house section of repeated “Why can’t we ever do something for free? / Why’s it always feel you want something from me?”s, and then finally calming back down. It replicates the feeling of a burst of anxiety amidst what should be a peaceful moment well, and fans of Tyler, the Creator’s recent work should find a lot to like. You can listen to more Mouse Sucks here and more of Cranklin’s production work here(socials: Mouse Sucks; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Cranklin; Twitter)


Program 2


B1: Blazin’ Jayne – “Bad Too”

Cover art for Blazin’ Jayne’s ‘Sagittarius Season’

Alright, now it’s time for some real southern “fuck you, pay me” sexual ass club rap courtesy of Houston’s Blazin’ Jayne and her Sagittarius Season single “Bad Too”. “Where we from they sip lean and bang, screw”, “Don’t ever get your ass beat over weak strokes”, and “Bout to put this pussy on him like an outfit” are just select few choice bars from this money and dick-oriented banger, but more than anything, I’ve been saying the “I’m a bad bitch, my bitches bad too” hook out loud far more often than you should hear from a scrawny white boy. Also “I’m the GOAT, bitch I’m Stevie Nicks”. Basically, good bars. Very good bars. You can check out the rest of Sagittarius Season here, but regrettably, we could not find her Cash App. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B2: Ricky Wolfe – “This Is Ricky”

Ricky Wolfe (photo credit: Laura Davis)

Hello. Hi. This is Ricky. No, not me. Him. Up there. With the dual ping pong paddle action. Ricky Wolfe’s “This Is Ricky” introduces us, the listener, to Ricky as he raps about himself and his motivations over a soulful beat composed of gospel vocal samples (“This song started as a challenge to myself–could I make a dope beat from just these vocal samples and flow for 2 minutes straight?”). Our early impressions? Ricky seems like a very nice man with a very nice flow. If an introduction alone just won’t do, you can get to know Ricky better by listening to his new EP RICKY here(socials: Twitter, Instagram)


B3: 3ple B – “John Wick Interlude”

3ple B
3ple B

Next up is a track from South African rapper 3ple B, and make sure you pronounce her name “Triple B” and not “Threeple B”. Based on “John Wick Interlude”, she does not seem the type to put up with shit. While the “interlude” portion of its title feels misleading given how fully realized it is, the “John Wick” is entirely apropos: 3ple B is out to murder kill annihilate, in particular other female rappers who’d rely on a man to rise rather than forge their own power and take what is owed (“I taught you how to be the man so you don’t depend on ’em”). 3ple B projects an incredible strength on this diss, and you can find further strength within the rest of her Verification EP. (socials: Twitter, Instagram)


B4: Wes Phili – “Shady Gentlemen”

wes phili
Wes Phili

Lastly, we have “Shady Gentlemen” from Philadelphia rapper Wes Phili (who we’d gather has a personal connection to his hometown). “Shady Gentlemen” is about as pure and undiluted as rap gets: once Wes gets going after the brief “burgers and fries” intro, it’s nonstop straight bars, no hooks over a jazzy lo-fi instrumental that crackles and pops. This one’s for old heads, as Wes cites a love of and influence from artists such as Black Thought, Nas, and Mobb Deep. If want to learn more about Wes Phili you can check out this 2017 interview courtesy of Broadtube Music Network and if you want to hear more, you can check him out on Bandcamp(socials: Instagram)


I don’t know how often we’ll do this in the future, but for this one, it made too much sense. We’ve compiled this 8track into a short Spotify playlist that you can follow below:

8track: Char & Crock Taylor, The No. 44, Carter Fox, Baltimore, Emeraldd, kelz, Elder, Panther Hollow

8track: Char & Crock Taylor, The No. 44, Carter Fox, Baltimore, Emeraldd, kelz, Elder, Panther Hollow

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Char & Crock Taylor, The No. 44, Carter Fox, and Baltimore, while Program 2 features music by Emeraldd, kelz, Elder, and Panther Hollow.


Program 1


B1: Char & Crock Taylor – “It’s the Lo”

Kicking off this 8track is a hip-hop collaboration between Dallas rapper Char and Queens rapper Crock Taylor. “It’s the Lo” precedes the release of their upcoming project Supervillain Stories and we’d wager is the opener, introducing the listener to the ‘Lo-Fi Gang’, which seems to be their own League of Supervillains. The beat courtesy of Save Allen is smooth with a kick like a good whiskey and Char and Crock Taylor’s bars are as cold as the ice in the glass. Sure, we’ve heard supervillain rap from MF DOOM and Czarface, but when it’s done this well, keep it coming. You can listen to more Char and Crock Taylor via SoundCloud by clicking on their names in this sentence. Yep. Proud of you. (Char socials: Twitter, Instagram; Crock Taylor socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B2: The No. 44 – “On the Ground of Grounds (There Is a Bed)”

The No. 44

Gearing up for the release of their debut album Reflexive // Repeater on January 31, The No. 44 deliver a propulsive, pedal-to-the-floor rock ‘n’ roll rager in the form of “On the Ground of Grounds (There Is a Bed)”. The consistent, driving forward momentum of this one along with the guitar tone and pedal effects make a comparison to early-mid 2010s Oh Sees (though with more singing and less yelping and trying to devour the microphone) pretty easy, so that’s what we’ll do. You can check out The No. 44’s material on Spotify and they just dropped their album’s second single “Here We Are” today. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A3: Carter Fox – “Zombies in the Forest”

Carter Fox

Philadelpia-based producer Carter Fox is a familiar entity to us here at COUNTERZINE, from back when we unofficially-officially premiered his track “Nethergate” in a mix curated by Biblioteka Records. If “Nethergate” was a precious, twinkly lil drift through space, “Zombies in the Forest” is wet. It’s wet. It’s a slow chase through a muddy river in the rain with the zombies swiping at your neck in an ’80s B-movie horror. But like, a real groovy one. You can stream Carter Fox’s discography on Spotify or SoundCloud(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A4: Baltimore – “Bubble”


Closing out Program 1 is Belgian band Baltimore’s “Bubble” (say that 87 billion times fast). A huge psychedelic pop song with, you guessed it, a bubbly synth lead, “Bubble” is about those who live inside a bubble and believe everything’s fine because the ills of the world aren’t apparent in their immediate vicinity. Considering the band’s geographical location and recent political events, we are dubbing this genre ‘post-Brexit pop’ until we hear otherwise. Tight, stable drums give this one a real solid post-punk backbone and it gets all jangly at the end, which is great. You know how we love the janglies. You can check out and buy Baltimore’s tunes here(socials: Facebook)


Program 2


B1: Emeralld – “You Sang”


A true International Band of Mystery, we know precious little about Emeraldd, the artists behind our next track “You Sang”. We know they’re a three-piece from London; we know some dude named Al Grant is in the band (presumably the frontman); and we know they kinda kick ass. “You Sang” is a hyper-addictive blend of dance-punk, noise pop, and indietronica that absolutely refuses to sit still. I tried to count the number of shifts in this thing on my hands and I had to chop my friend’s fingers off and sew them onto me (sorry, mate) and the lead riff has burrowed its way into my subconsciousness to probably never go away. Also the vocalist kinda sounds like the dude from Soul Coughing, which is sick. You can not only stream, but DOWNLOAD FOR FREE Emeraldd’s catalog on SoundCloud.


B2: kelz – “Passerby”

kelz (photo credit: Diane Lac)

It’s not often we find ourselves falling in line with large swathes of the blogosphere, so the fact kelz’s “Passerby” is having a lil mini blow-up right now and we’re fully on board is a testament to how universally great it is. So many ‘chill’ songs are dull: exceedingly few manage to merge relaxation with a catchy melody or an active groove. “Passerby” does both with gently plucked acoustic guitar and a shuffling drum beat respectively, with some ambient synth work and what sounds like a sample of a chirping bird coloring the track as it progresses. I am soothed, but not bored. You can check more of kelz’s tunes here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B3: Elder – “The Commute”


Next we have the lead single off of Brisbane band Elder’s upcoming debut album on 4000 Records, “The Commute”. While most definitely not Fairhaven’s Elder, the two bands do share something beyond the name in common: they’re pretty damn heavy. Elder’s billed as “progressive jangle”, and while that paints part of the picture (namely the guitar tone and the way “The Commute”, well, progresses), it does little to prepare you the oppressively thick and dark atmosphere the band put forth and “The Commute” has as much in common with post-punk, gothic rock, and even doom metal as it does with prog or jangle. Nobody puts Elder in a corner. You can check out the rest of their catalog including their great 2018 Cyril EP here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B4: Panther Hollow – “Mars”

Panther Hollow

You know what Townes Van Zandt’s Sky Blue taught us last year? That there’s entirely not enough lo-fi country. Luckily Queens singer-songwriter Panther Hollow is here to supply with his latest single “Mars”. Quite the departure from his Atoms in the Universe EP released earlier in 2019 (a pretty creative set of indie rock jams that we’d also easily recommend), “Mars” sees him stripped down to acoustic guitar, tape hiss, and his voice to deliver a raw, twangy crooner. Favorite part in this one is the self-harmonized vocal that comes in on the second of the three verses that make up the song. You can pay-what-you-want for “Mars” and check out the rest of Panther Hollow’s catalog here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)

8track: Charcoal Burners, Witchbrew, Wilson Hernandez, Dali, The New Pollution, Quinton Barnes, Sewnshut, Ebril

8track: Charcoal Burners, Witchbrew, Wilson Hernandez, Dali, The New Pollution, Quinton Barnes, Sewnshut, Ebril

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Charcoal Burners, Witchbrew, Wilson Hernandez, and Dali, while Program 2 features music by The New Pollution, Quinton Barnes, Sewnshut, and Ebril.


Program 1


A1: Charcoal Burners – “The Verlaines and Husker Du”

Andrew Spittle (of Charcoal Burners)

Today, we kick off 8track with “The Verlaines and Husker Du” from Dunedin, New Zealand’s Charcoal Burners, and everything we just wrote lets you know exactly what to expect with this one. Hailing from Dunedin themselves as well as making reference to well-known purveyors of the Dunedin sound, Charcoal Burners put forth a fuzzy lo-fi jangly post-punk tune with sugary walls of guitar noise. Frontman Andrew Spittle’s sweet vocals aid in the track’s dreamlike quality, but the powerful, tight drums give it a kick in the ass that helps keep the listener grounded in the conscious realm. You can pay-what-you-want for the track along with the rest of Charcoal Burners’ catalog here. (socials: Facebook)


A2: Witchbrew – “Tangled”


Tallahassee, Florida producer Witchbrew’s “Tangled” is our next track, and this one’s a trip. Aiming to “provide ambience with a psychedelic element”, Witchbrew pulls together quick, consistent drums, bubbling keys, and vocal hums to craft something akin to a tribal hymn or summoning ritual (just swap out the incense for LSD). The result is a vivid, hypnotic trance of a track aiming for its listener to transcend. Multiple tracks off of his album Caritas Mea have been making the rounds on Spotify playlists, and you can stream the full album here. (socials; SoundCloud)


A3: Wilson Hernandez – “Stoli Soda Sprite”

Wilson Hernandez

We’ve featured the adorably smol jangle pop hits of Wilson Hernandez before, both in the Album Auto-nalysis of his band Tennis Club’s LP Pink, as well as the music video premiere for that album’s single “Ghost Cops”. This time around, Hernandez is striking it solo with his Last Sunday EP on Spirit Goth’s net label BIRTHDIY. Standout track “Stoli Soda Sprite” encapsulates in a minute twenty-four everything that distinguishes Hernandez’s signature songwriting style: light, bouncy earworm melodies, cute twee vocals, and lyrics about being a bum, doing drugs, and loving girls. How’s that for your subversion of punk rock? You check out and buy the full EP here, and be sure to check out Tennis Club too. They’re pretty great. (socials: Instagram)


A4: Dali – “The Fire”

Dali (left to right: Olivia Green, Daniel Chan; photo credit: David & Dennis Films)

Australian indie pop duo Dali close out program 1 with “The Fire”, an obscenely catchy tune that refuses to settle for that alone. Production is the best kind of lo-fi, with every element clear but with a light, warm hiss (like watching old films with the grain). Olivia Green delivers a soulful vocal performance and between that and guitarist Daniel Chan’s noodly, twangy lead riff, this is basically a country song. Like a classic western filtered through pop musak. That’s not all! You like tape music? Of course you do! And you’re gonna love the section immediately after the first chorus. This is really creative stuff that still feels super accessible, and Dali are definitely an act to keep an eye on. You can listen to and buy the rest of their self-titled EP here or stream it here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: The New Pollution – “Nonstop” (Drake cover)

The New Pollution

We don’t like Drake very much here at COUNTERZINE. Hell, we usually don’t even like covers: too many artists settling for less-than imitations. However, New York no wavers The New Pollution proves that two wrongs DO make a right with their skronky rendition of Aubrey Graham’s “Nonstop”. When he found time in-between sliding into the DMs of underage female celebrities, Drake churned out this lukewarm, low energy banger, only for these kids to finally make it good by gloriously mangling the shit out of it. It’s noisy, it’s chaotic, and it’s oh so disrespectful: halfway through they abandon Drake’s lazy bars in favor of Peter Frampton’s “(I’ll Give You) Money”. You can pay-what-you-want for the now definitive version of “Nonstop” here, and same goes for the band’s debut live album Live​!​? at Creative Corner on WEATNU Records here(socials: Twitter)


B2: Quinton Barnes – “Domestika”

Quinton Barnes

While we don’t like Drake, we LOVE Grimalkin Records and their recent roster addition Quinton Barnes. ‘Loosey’ “Domestika” introduces Grimalkin fans to Barnes with a sensual synth-laden slice of alternative R&B, with lyrics such as “Wake up, wake up / I want to dedicate my life to you / They can’t shake us / We’ll lock ourselves away just to see it through” painting the image of love between two people who find comfort in each other and life at home when the outside world won’t accept them. If this is what ‘didn’t make the cut’ so to speak for Barnes’ upcoming March album, there’s every reason to be incredibly excited for what’s to come. You can listen to and learn more about Quinton Barnes via his website and follow Grimalkin Records to keep updated on the album. (socials: Facebook, Twitter)


B3. Sewnshut – “Perceptive Waste”


Next up is the centerpiece of Norwegian downtempo producer Shewshut’s debut self-titled album, “Perceptive Waste”. Characterized by its constantly evolving melody of electronics that manage to be almost plucky while still maintaining the duller ambient tones the genre is known for, “Perceptive Waste” is danceable, IF you can keep your head in the game. There are also some textured droney growls that pop in and out, so concentration is key! More evolved lifeforms may be better suited to that task, but us Earthlings can still have our synapses tickled by its shifting, off-kilter groove. You can buy Sewnshut here digitally and on cassette. (socials: Facebook, Twitter)


B4: Ebril – “Ailium Road”


Finally, we close with a lovely track from Canadian singer-songwriter Ebril, titled “Ailium Road”. A slow, stripped acoustic guitar-led track accompanied by sparse ambient synths and what sounds to us like the flowing water of a stream, “Ailium Road” manages to be both magical and earthy, as if Ebril were some sort of gentle forest spirit. Though cryptic, it’s also haunting and heartbreaking: lyrics such as “Someone who took you / it came out your mouth / someone who hurt you / it came out my mouth” give us an idea of what this is about and it’s, uh, pretty heavy. For more Ebril (and also something a bit different), we also recommend the dream pop of “Mercury” and “Running to the Next Bus Stop”. (socials: Instagram)

8track: Aloysius Scrimshaw, Praed, Imp of Perverse, Inning, Tyler Osmond, No Museums, Rondald James*, Day & Dream

8track: Aloysius Scrimshaw, Praed, Imp of Perverse, Inning, Tyler Osmond, No Museums, Rondald James*, Day & Dream

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by Aloysius Scrimshaw, Praed, Imp of Perverse, and Inning, while Program 2 features music by Tyler Osmond, No Museums, Rondald James*, and Day & Dream.


Program 1


A1: ΛᄂӨYƧIЦƧ ƧᄃЯIMƧΉΛЩ (Aloysius Scrimshaw) – “Hella Fresh”

ΛᄂӨYƧIЦƧ ƧᄃЯIMƧΉΛЩ (Aloysius Scrimshaw)

ΛᄂӨYƧIЦƧ ƧᄃЯIMƧΉΛЩ, better read as ‘Aloysius Scrimshaw’ for us mere mortals, is The Dead Musician (whatever the hell that means), making ‘post-music’ (whatever the fuck that is). As such, you’d expect his new single “Hella Fresh” to be an odd beast, and you’d be right on the money. Industrial might be the closest thing to an apt descriptor, but elements of blackgaze and darkwave also make their way into this bizarre march of a track to create something nigh unrecognizable as he growls on about destroying “a genre of music” and “boys of soy”. We can’t quite tell if Scrimshaw is taking the piss or not, which makes this all the more compelling. The best comparison we can conjure? Maybe Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”, if Manson wasn’t a normie. “Hella Fresh” is hella weird, but also hella not boring. In fact, we’d say it’s hella good, and you can buy it for all of two quarters on Bandcamp. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A2: Praed – “El Khawaga”

Praed (left to right: Raed Yassin, Paed Conca)

“El Khawaga”, the second track off of Lebanese duo Praed’s Doomsday Survival Kit, is also the second track on this 8-Track. Taking inspiration from chaabi, free jazz, and electronic music, “El Khawaga” is a hypnotic brew of an instrumental grounded by consistent yet active quick march drums and alternating electronics as Paed Conca’s clarinet freely dances on top. With 13 years together and shows and festivals across the globe under their belts, they’ve had a lot of experience fine tuning this distinctive style, made evident as every element bleeds together seamlessly when one ingredient out of place could break the trance “El Khawaga” puts you in. Doomsday Survival Kit is out on French label Akuphone and is available to purchase digital, CD, and vinyl (limited pink and standard variants) here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A3: Imp of Perverse – “Despair Puff”

imp shannon
Imp of Perverse (photo: Shannon Lochridge)

Are we biased? Well maybe, but despite our past history with Austin’s brilliant multi-instrumentalist psych rocker Sean Lochridge, we have nothing to do with “Despair Puff” beyond thinking it kicks the shit. While he’s a drummer first and foremost given his past with bands such as Sherry, the Halfways, and π, if it makes sound, chances are Lochridge can wring something special out of it. Case in point, the killer fuzzed-out riffs pushed to the front and center on this one while his signature complex rhythms pound away in the back, low enough to get you to lean in closer but wild enough to whip your neck around in dangerous ways and hushed vocals float like clouds between the spaces. Be sure to check out the trippy DIY vid made with friendos as well, and you can pay-what-you-want for the single here. (socials: Facebook, Instagram)


A4: Inning  – “Aix en Provence”

Evan Frolov of Inning

Closing out the first program, we have Inning, a Charlottesville, Virginia band with their recent single “Aix en Provence”. Named for a small French university city which Evan Frolov visited on a backpacking trip post-college graduation, it’s a rich and almost daunting pop track propelled forward by a quick electronic drum melody and broad strokes of cello before a sudden shift where the cello is left to stand on its own, symbolic of the spontaneity and independence inherent to the excursion. “Aix en Provence” is only one of 10 Inning singles released since last year’s D.C. Party Machine EP and while we don’t have a hard confirmation, we’d imagine that based on the last three sharing artwork, a new EP or full-length is on the way. You can pay-what-you-want for “Aix en Provence” (and the rest of Inning’s catalog) here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: Tyler Osmond – “Time Gets Wasted”

tyler osmond
Tyler Osmond

We kick off the second program with a sweet little tune called “Time Gets Wasted” from 16-year-old Tyler Osmond, a North Carolinian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with mature pop sensibilities well beyond his years. The intro slowly swells with the quiet buzz and rumble of guitar while drums pitter patter just above and bright tones wash over the track, giving the song a sense of sonic depth that feels as though it could swallow you whole. Immediately after, the chorus comes, bursting forth with a vocal performance full of boyish charm punctuated by single chords to create dramatic tension. There’s only one verse, provided Tyler’s brother and co-writer Sammy (of Mother’s Friends), which is more muted and earthy in tone by comparison, before it explodes once again into the sunny chorus. It’s a simple song, but that’s only to say there’s no excess fat: an essential quality of the best pop music. Osmond’s had a pretty busy 2019 with EPs Dark Pink and Orange Summer preceding the release of “Time Gets Wasted”, and you check it all out via Spotify or Apple Music. (socials: Instagram)


B2: No Museums – “The Bell Horse”

no museums2
No Museums (circa 2016)

Edmonton’s No Museums (fka Twin Library) are gearing up for the release of their ninth album Moths (to be released this Friday, the 27th) and early single “The Bell Horse” has us looking forward to what’s in store. A simple but expertly executed lo-fi jangle jam coming in at a mere 1:42, “The Bell Horse” begins its march with acoustic guitar, bass (wonderfully audible), and drums before stacking a gentle piano melody and finally the climactic, noisy electric guitar. Fans of Guided by Voices and especially C86 bands like The Wedding Present should love this one, so keep an eye on their Bandcamp for the release and check out the other pre-release single “An Engine Submerged” here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter)


B3: Rondald James* – “Enter-Net”

Ronadald James*

While our next track “Enter-Net” largely plays out as a captivating hybrid of alternative R&B and conscious hip hop, we might assume ourselves that Rondald James* has a background in slam poetry. Riding a soulful and airy instrumental courtesy of Darkcloud, James* hits high and low vocal beats with ease, switching up his flow regularly without ever forcing it and appropriately highlighting impact words. The lyrics represent his experience with the internet, social media in particular, and take the form of an overwhelming stream of terminology in constant flux, itself symbolic of the relationship. The key lines here are “yeah I know they love you on your URL, tell me know they feel about you irl” and “we’re not people, we’re just profiles“, which may read as a bit “we live in a society” for some, but that doesn’t make it ring any less true in a modern world where people have such divided online and offline personas that they can no longer tell which is the real them. James* doesn’t seem to have a storefront at the moment, but you can keep up with his music via his Spotify and SoundCloud. (socials: Twitter, Instagram)


B4: Day & Dream – “Paralysis by Analysis”

dayand dream
Day & Dream (left to right: Mike Fassano, Erik Jan, Abby Amaya, Peter Frizzante)

Finally, we have the sweet and subdued anthem of introversion that is Day & Dream’s “Paralysis by Analysis”. Accompanied by video of an elegant trapeze performance under red light, the song drifts gently, drenched in reverb, as vocalist Abby Amaya softly sings as a recluse, stricken with an inability to act or interact as she over-analyzes every situation, preferring to be alone in her “echo chamber”. The tones on this one are as pretty as you’ll hear, but the direct relatability is what’s particularly striking (though I am speaking as an anxiety-riddled homebody so your mileage may vary on that front). “Paralysis by Analysis” is from late-summer singles pair Fading Summer (appropriate), available to purchase here. They also recently released a new single entitled “Hidden Cinema”, which you can check out here. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)