Album Auto-nalysis: The Ryne Experience’s ‘Hokey’

Album Auto-nalysis: The Ryne Experience’s ‘Hokey’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked our Ryne Clarke of UTC’s own The Ryne Experience to detail their 2018 debut album ‘Hokey’.


Ryne Clarke

A preface:


Ryne Clarke: This is my debut as a solo/collaborative artist and surely has made the biggest impact on how I record and make music today. This whole album sort of started with a big push of songs I had written in high school while still being apart of The Preservers. At that time, there just didn’t seem to be a good way to make what I wanted to be a solo record. So I sat on the songs and come fall of 2017, Jeremy Kargl (guitarist of the Preservers) and Corrina Wenger (bassist of the Preservers) went off for their first year of college, leaving me and Patrick Kargl (drummer of the Preservers) still at home.

Things started a bit slow but early November of 2017 I released my first single “Indie Rock Pop Star”. This song was sort of a joke about the genre of indie rock and was made with a handheld recorder and a laptop and is the only song to feature my friend Bill Baughn singing back up.

Right around the same time, the first formation of the band came together with Patrick on drums, myself on lead guitars and vocals, my friend Devin Falk on rhythm guitar, and Corrina’s brother Jerry Wenger on bass. We formed to make a music session video and got stuck with a terrible name, but hey, I guess that’s how it goes. Only now does the name seem to make more sense as a solo project.

In January of 2018, I put out another single called “Alone” and recorded it all by myself with a keyboard click and Pro Tools. This was the start of me getting creative in the studio to make a certain sound, and come April of 2018, everything would start.


1. “Space O”


RC: Sometime during the process of April to November of 2018 that I spent at Kargl Studios (Jeremy and Patrick’s house) to make Hokey, I acquired a fairly large tape collection and tape recorder from my buddy Mitch Petersen of the Alien Dogs, a punk band I was in for a few years. One of the tapes in the collection appeared to be a home made tape with the title “Space O”.

I popped the tape into my mini van player and thought it was horrible. Only later did I discover the Tascam 238 tape multi tracker recorded at double speed, so I popped the tape in there and ripped this 90 second synth part off it. It appeared to be in a relative key so I sent it out to a bunch of friends to try and play along with it. Whoever played the original piece, much thanks to you for the tapes and synth.

The end results of the piece were pretty atmospheric with my two friends Harley Kline and Devon Siciliano to talk over top, Dean Chittenden of Bedroom Ceilings played a key riff, my former radio co-host Sleeping Timmy added some acoustic guitars and vocals, and Corrina and Jerry added some bass. Surely made for a unique opening for the album.




2. “Weird Blues”


This is a song about depression and not being able to do really anything except lay in bed. I remember this being the first song that really pushed the idea for me to make a solo record with it being written in junior year. I made a demo previous for the original Hokey record that was going to be called “Oven Sky”.

The music was pretty straight forward for this one with a classic line up of myself on guitar and vocals, Jerry on Bass, and Pat on drums. Jeremy played a lead part I wrote for the song, Pat added piano and vibes, something he took more a liking to with this album, and I added a stylophone at the break. Recording the vocals was a day long process with a mushroom trip, making vocals a very weird thing to do. The vocals on this album were done in the bathroom at Kargl Studios.




3. “In Line”


I don’t exactly know what I wrote “In Line” about, but the only things that come to mind would be staying over at my ex’s house in the summertime and being confused. You know, teen stuff.

The music has the first formation of the EXP with Devin, Jerry, Pat, and me. You can hear Patrick grunt with the drum clicks in the beginning. This was a lead part I was actually proud of.



the boys


4. “Frosting “


Alright, first things first, this is about Pop Tarts. No sexual messages are hidden here. I wrote this one junior year as well and started playing it at high-school parties to much praise.

I knew I wanted to make the studio version ridiculous, so I brought in a bunch of goons to make the soundscape of the song. Mitch Petersen played the drums and rapped the main portion in the intro, Jeremy played bass, acoustic lead, and sang with me, and I sang and played guitar.

Then my pals Noah Houghtaling and Kevin Williams rapped in the background of the intro, Dylan White started the track, and Brendan Mane rapped in the middle, he can be seen at most of our shows performing this track with us live. You can hear Jeremy rambling at the end and he says “get the towels out of the house”: this refers to when Jeremy had a party and our friend Aiden got so drunk he puked all over himself and Jeremy’s sister’s bed, went to the bathroom to clean up, decided to take a bath, and flooded the upstairs bathroom by falling asleep in the tub and locking the door. Classic.




5. “Observations”


“Observations” was written about the stars and my day to day life of watching and observering. This was suppose to be a song with Bill Baughn with one of his songs and “Indie Rock Pop Star” to make a three song EP called Star Songs. This never ended up happening, so to Hokey it went.

This song marks my start of collaboration with my friend Mitchell Evink who approached me about being on the record to add some cello. I truly believe without Mitchell stopping by that this record and the future of the band would be ultimately different. We started tracking the song as a funk jam with Mitchell on bass, me and Jeremy on guitars, and Patrick on drums. We eventually settled down and got the backing track.

I played my grandpa’s acoustic that he gave me that I tuned to c# standard to stop the bridge from breaking off, overdubbed Mitchell’s bass (he was just starting off), and added banjo and organ. Jeremy added lead with a turd ball Fender strat that sat outside for years and played the organ at the verses. Mitchell added his cello and Patrick his drums. The finish piece was Jeremy’s mom’s boyfriend Pat Ball drilling in a guitar holder onto the wall, which I sampled for the track.

This track was also important because Jeremy had helped me with the vocals by encouraging me to add more harmonies to make the sound of the song bigger, a trick I ended up using henceforth.




6. “Gather Up Your Socks”


“Socks” is another junior year song and is about, well, laundry. 

The music was pretty fun to put together with a triple micing system on my acoustic with a pedal board and amp ran outside the room to make a textured sound. I used the Kargl’s house organ to compose my first real organ piece, and played bass as well. Mitchell added cello which deepened the dynamics of the song, and Patrick added a güiro, shaker, bongos, and tambourine to make a textured but quiet backbeat to the track.





7. “Slow Recession”


This is a track that I think doesn’t get enough attention on Hokey, probably my favorite on the record. The lyrics are about finding confidence in oneself.

The music was made pretty epic with Jerry playing bass and lead guitars, Patrick playing drums, myself on vocals and guitars, Mitchell playing cello, and our friend Sam Kenny playing trumpet on the track.

This track probably had the best engineering with Jerry taking oversight of the song. The trumpet parts Sam sent us were probably 12 different pieces we put together and you can hear him moving his fingers on the trumpet before the third chorus starts in a wisp sound.

I attempted to sing for this song the same day as the “Weird Blues” vocals tracking but found the song to be too much to handle at the time, I did notice the shrooms added a built in reverb/delay that I was hallucinating.



8. “Blue”


“Blue” is about being sad, sad boi high-school Ryne. This song ultimately was about the inevitable end of my high school relationship with Katie.

This was one of three songs to be started in my room prior to April of 2018, and finished at Kargl Studios later on. We used a mini club set on these three tracks which had a smaller kick that’s closer to the size of a floor tom with normal drum add-ons. I originally wrote a whole lead part for the song, but the solo was the only thing we kept for it. Jeremy added 12-string acoustic for the rest of the lead. Patrick added drums, piano, and a glockenspiel he got from school from being in band: a great sound for almost any track. Jerry played the bass per usual. This is the song I spent the longest on to get the vocals right doing countless overdubs to get the harmonies just right.




9. “Tiny Man”


This song was written by Corrina Wenger as a folk song about insanity (from what I can gather). I took her lyrics and made a new song out of it with more of a punk approach with a indie break, the only lyrics I wrote for this song.

The music is a Preservers reunion with all four of us on the song doing our thing with the addition of the electric kazoo solo at the end.





10. “Fishin'”


This song started as a joke Jerry and I started while doing the music session series we did at Kargl Studios in the winter of 2017. We would both play the organ and start singing nonsense and ideas of “Fishin'” came out one day. I took it home and finished it there. This is a poem-esque song about love.

The music turned out real folksy. My friend Adam Anderson dropped by the studio and I had him say all the stereotypical fishing things he could think of, then I spliced them together to put over my muted guitar chords in the beginning. I played acoustic, uke, harmonica, and sang. Patrick played drums and a rad key part, Jerry played bass, Jeremy played lead guitar and 12-string slide, and my friend Lindsey Garcia sang harmonies with me to make a standalone track. 




11. “The Morning”


This track is written about my first vehicle, my 1998 Chevy Venture minivan I had for two years. The verses are me singing to the van and the chorus is the van singing back. This was the first song I started for Hokey in early 2018 as a complete solo demo I released on a CD me and Mitch Petersen did called Demo Swan, featuring a beat-boxing song we did together.


While tracking “Blue”, I showed this track to Patrick and he added the mini club set over top of my demo, this being the reason why the timing is weird at the end of the song. Not much was changed bringing it back to Kargl Studios: I still played acoustic, bass, lead, and synth. The big difference was redoing all the verse vocals with Jeremy.





12. “Upstairs, Man”


This track is about my room in a broad sense of the song. This would later go on to be the name of my bedroom studio.

This would technically be the first song for Hokey, although I didn’t know it at the time. I wrote the song close to our first session we did as the EXP in November of 2017 and we worked it out just in time. We used the audio from the video and overdubbed vocals, and keys from Patrick. A very sporadic lead guitar from myself, but made the signature sound nonetheless.

You can hear Gabe Tower from the Alien Dogs in the background at the end of the track as he tells us the camera stopped working during the video.




13. “Eazy to Peel”


I always thought this was one of my goofiest songs with an opening line of “Bigfoot’s not real” but yet this track turned out very powerful. The lyrics aren’t about much except feeling like you are on the right path despite others who might think otherwise.

The music on this one has Mitchell playing cello, Jeremy playing lead for half the song (he tracked the song with me and Patrick and was still working out the verse parts), Patrick playing drums and epic piano part, Jerry playing bass and making pedal noises, and myself playing guitar with the shitty Fender, lead with my Gibson, vocals, and a theremin my neighbor cliff gave me for the noise section. I want to say the breakdown and end chord progression was worked out in the studio with a preamble to the next song in mind. The noise was a natural ending to the original take we had of the song, just adding to it.





14. “Your Sweet Love”


This song was definitely about my ex Katie, written in high school. Make it about whatever person you love if you so desire.

This song is special because it marked the official start of the Hokey sessions. It was April 1st, 2018 at Upstairs, Man and me, Devin Falk, and Mitch Petersen tracked the drums, acoustic, and lead all together in a single take. A perfect coming together of ideas. I later added synth, accordion, and vocals to the take to finish it up. The only part of the song recorded at Kargl Studios was Jerry’s bass part. On the album version, you can hear Jerry and Justin messing around with a bottle and some talking that’s disguised with reverb and delay. We would later take “Blue” and “Your Sweet Love” and put out our first CD single to promote Hokey which came out a month later in November of 2018.

And the rest is history!





The Ryne Experience’s ‘Hokey’ is available digitally and on CD directly from the band and on cassette via UTC. The band’s most recent album ‘Funky Town’ is also out now on digital, vinyl, CD, and cassette. You can read about ‘Funky Town’ via publications such as Yeah I Know It Sucks, Speak Into My Good Eye, Even the Stars, The Lowell Ledger, Local Spins, Houdini Mansions, SOMETHINGGOOD, WhiteLight//WhiteHeat, and START-TRACK. You can keep up-to-date with The Ryne Experience by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as their website A music video for the album’s title track, as well as a full visual album, are coming soon.

Album Auto-nalysis: kate can wait’s ‘Veraniegas’

Album Auto-nalysis: kate can wait’s ‘Veraniegas’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Puerto Rican folk artist kate can wait to detail her new album ‘Veraniegas’.




1. “green greenz”


kate can wait: Sometimes I write songs with an idea of what role they’ll serve on an album. My last album, howl youth, started off with a very slow and stripped down song, so I wanted to start this one off with a pretty sounding one that also featured some synths to show that this album wouldn’t just be vocals and guitar like the last one. I wanted the song to instantly grab someone’s attention and fortunately I managed to write something that featured all of the things I wanted. It was one of those magical moments where a song basically writes itself in a couple of minutes, so I’m really pleased with this one. As a side note, I like to pepper my a lot of my songs with references to other lyrics or artists that inspire me and this one has a few of those if you wanna find them.



2. “sal & oro”


KCW: Very much a transitional song for me, this was the first song I wrote for the album and the last song I ever recorded on my old laptop. howl youth had come out recently, so I felt like I had the time to experiment a bit with new sounds during recording. Contrary to how I usually go about recording music, I spent most of my time on the instrumental and made sure the guitar parts sounded as pretty as possible while keeping the lyrics and vocals simple.. Whenever I listen to this song I instantly think that this is what a post-rock KCW song would sound like, and while the song is very different from others on the album, I think it ultimately paved the way for how every other song would sound.



3. “fantasmeo”


KCW: This is the last song I recorded for the album: I think I finished it in very early June of 2019. Fantasmeo is Puerto Rican slang that can be translated a bunch of different ways, but the way I use it here is basically “I’m a ghost because I’m just a spectator in life instead of a participant”. I really wanted Veraniegas to be full of really pretty songs (which I thought my last album lacked), so I wrote this song that’s half-meaningless introspection, half-love song inspired by the poet Sappho. The chorus features some gender-neutral lyrics in Spanish, which I wish I could hear more of from other artists.





4. “le mat”


KCW: Of all the songs on the album, this one is the hardest to explain. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure where it came from. The lyrics are pretty personal and are related to a bunch of my previous songs including “somewhere, outside” from this album. I remember that while recording it, I wanted the vocals to sound like Liza Minnelli.



5. “obvio de que o sea full de que super literal”


KCW: This one’s a toughie. While recording the album I felt like I had too many ‘pretty’ songs that were full of harmonies and layered guitar parts so I decided that I wanted to record something more stripped down and bare, like my first few albums, as a sort of breather track. Of course what happened is that I ended up recording a song with the most vitriolic and personal lyrics I’ve ever written. It’s in Spanish so not everyone will get it, but the lyrics are about physical and emotional abuse and manipulation. I debated for a long time about whether or not to include it because sharing something so personal and painful about my life felt awkward. However, I wrote the song with a purpose and I ended up liking how catchy the melody is so, against my better judgement, I included it. So much for having a breather, huh?



6. “~out of heaven~”


KCW: Oddly enough, the second song I wrote for the album and the one that got me into full on recording mode for my next release. I love dark sounding music and neofolk in particular is one of my favorite genres, so I tried to make something that sounded spooky and haunting while also having some goth rock camp to it. I kind of wear my influences on my sleeve on this one, but I really enjoy songs like this.



7. “flor de bolsillo”


KCW: The concept for this one was very cute love song in Spanish. One of the fastest songs I recorded for the album: I think I wrote and recorded all of in an hour. It was a ton of fun to work on. Most of the lyrics are inside jokes and pretty imagery with a shout out to Odysseus and Penelope.



8. “solo c q no c na”


KCW: A song to listen to on a sober Saturnalia evening. I’ve had that main riff floating around for years and getting to finally use it in a song felt liberating. The lyrics are also some of my favorite I’ve ever written, mostly stream of consciousness stuff and some funny wordplay. My thought process for this song was ‘bossa nova-ish beat with Carla Morrison vocals’.





9. “somewhere, outside”


KCW: Another personal one. It’s hard to write about these types of songs but this one is about a period of time I’ve written about in at least a dozen of my previous songs including “le mat” from this same album and most of Emerald City Film Club. On it I speak a bit about my first time ever flying out of the country alone in search of freedom and meaning. The chorus actually predates the events in the rest of the song’s lyrics and it happened a little bit before all of the flights. It was one of the most painful, emotional moments I’ve ever had and I’ll never forget how much grief I felt saying goodbye.



10. “to be alone with you​/​/​2bAloewnWifU”


KCW: Before kate can wait, I made electronic music for about eight years and it’s a sound I’ve been wanting to incorporate into KCW since I started the project. While a few songs  of the other songs on here have synths in the background, for some reason I just felt like this song needed a heavy, electronic outro while I was recording it and just kept adding and adding until I was satisfied. I think the ending is a nice contrast to how chill and cute the rest of the song is. This is probably the KCW song most likely to get played in a Japanese cafe.



11. “orphan maker”


KCW: Probably the nerdiest song I’ve ever written and the third one I recorded for the album. The lyrics are about a D&D character and campaign and the music was inspired by epic fantasy video game bard songs and black metal, even if it doesn’t really sound like any of those things. I really wanted to get a big powerful choral sound for the vocals and ended up recording like 15-20 vocal tracks for the song, which took longer than I’d care to admit. I’d love to delve into this style of music more in the future, so I put this one at the end to make the transition to the next album easier. Shout out to Kord, the Stormlord!





kate can wait’s ‘Veraniegas’ is out now via Grimalkin Records and is available on digital, cassette, and lathe cut vinyl. Digital sales support kate can wait, cassette sales benefit the True Self Foundation in Puerto Rico, and lathe cut sales go towards the production of Grimalkin Records’ future release. You can read more on kate can wait and ‘Veraniegas’ from us on our January ‘Good Causes’ column. Be sure to follow kate can wait on FacebookTwitter, and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date with future work.

Album Auto-nalysis: Of House’s ‘Feelings’

Album Auto-nalysis: Of House’s ‘Feelings’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Nick Van Huis of Detroit dream/twee pop band Of House to detail their new album ‘Feelings’.


Of House


1. “It’s a Start”


Nick Van Huis: “It’s a Start” was the first Of House song I wrote. I had started writing the Of House music while I was still with my old band Young Punk. Young Punk was a much more experimental, ambient, R&B/future Soul band. I loved making that music, but I was still writing music like “It’s a Start”, which would not have fit with what we were doing. As a result, Of House became an outlet for me to write these simpler songs while I was in Young Punk. Originally I had no plans of releasing the music, I just wanted to get it down. It was only after Young Punk decided to take a break that I decided to release this music publicly. 

“It’s a Start” works as an album thesis. “I want to be Tarantino / But I feel like Michael Bay” speaks to the idea of having lofty ambitions and maybe not hitting them, or feeling doubt about what you are trying to achieve. Working on art alone can make you self-conscious about what you are creating. But ultimately you need to be comfortable with yourself and believe in what you are doing, which is what “It’s a Start” is all about.

Musically, I wanted Of House to reflect music that was more ‘rock’ leaning and put it to the metronomic/motorik beats that I really love. Something like Dinosaur Jr. mixed with Neu!, or Yo La Tengo mixed early Magnetic Fields — when they were using more drum machines. Marrying the hi-ii instrumentation with the lo-fi vocal production. A lushness that wasn’t too overproduced. “It’s a Start” definitely leans more towards a more rock sound, but I think it works as an album opener because it addresses lyrical themes heard throughout and preps the listener for sounds to be heard therein.



2. “Record Store”


NVH: When I was working on the music that would become Feelings, I got engaged, planned my wedding, and started my life with my wife, Amanda. Amanda would be — and still is — a very important part of Of House. Not only was she a sounding board for my ideas, she also sang on almost every song on the album. Her voice brings a softness that my singing voice lacks, and creates more of a dream pop vibe that I was shooting for.

“Record Store” is all about the excitement of being in a relationship with someone and sharing something you love with them. For me that was always trips to the record store. Getting new music and sharing it with someone you care about, learning about what they like and what you have in common, is something I really cherish about my relationship with Amanda. There are also Easter eggs throughout that mention bands and albums that we both really love.

“Record Store” was also the first song where the pieces of what I wanted Of House to be musically started falling into place. The repetition of the rhythm section is meant to wash over you, creating a trance-like atmosphere that the other instrumentation and vocals can play against. In my mind this created what I believe to be the first ‘realized’ Of House song.



3. “Ask Me to Run”


NVH: “Ask Me to Run” is another song about relationships and how you can get in your head about what you and your partner are thinking and feeling. “In my head / You are so mean / You are so cruel / But that’s just me”. If you only give in to those insular thoughts, you’re doomed. Through the lyrics I wanted to communicate that you can have doubt about a relationship, but that doesn’t invalidate the positive feelings you have about the other person. What matters is if they ask you to run, you do it despite feelings of doubt.

Musically, I wanted to incorporate the Highlife, Soukous, and Chimurenga music that I have always loved into an Of House song. This is especially heard in the breakdowns where layers of guitars weave around each other to create an almost orchestral sound. I’ve always loved Thomas Mapfumo, Kanda Bongo Man, and their contemporaries. If you are interested in the sounds in this song you absolutely need to listen to those artists and dig deeper into their catalogs.



4. “Pre-Coffee Contemplation”


NVH: Because the music of Feelings is a little scattershot, I wanted to create a few ambient instrumentals that could function as palette cleansers between groups of songs. The coffee songs function to break up the album into thematic chunks while also telling another story within the album. “Pre-Coffee Contemplation” evokes the morning hours before your day has really started and you can take time to reflect.





5. “Here 4 U”


NVH: “Here 4 U” is another song where the lyrics border on twee. The song is all about being there for someone no matter what they are going through. It’s a simple message of devotion that I wanted to convey in a really blunt way so the message wouldn’t get lost in translation. “Here 4 U” plays in the same sandbox as “Record Store” musically. The repetition of the drum machine and instrumentation wraps around you while the lyrics take you in. The synth lines showcase the first time I really started to use keys as a lead instrument, not using organs and pads that only fill out a song. Those elements are still there of course, but the synth gives the song a buoyancy that makes it more fun. “Here 4U” also has my favorite guitar solo on the album.



6. “The Man Upstairs”


NVH: The title of the song is a tribute to Robyn Hitchcock, who has an album with the same name. “The Man Upstairs” is a simple power pop song about how we all need to be kind to each other. Living in a city, even a relatively small city like Detroit, we are constantly surrounded by people but we don’t always connect with those around us. Just say hi to your neighbors. I think that’s an important message that gets lost too easily.

All of the elements of Of House songs are found in “The Man Upstairs.” Repetitive drum machine beats, lots of down stroked guitar chords played against jangly lead figures, fuzzed out solos, and hooky synths all come together to create a lush musical environment.



7. “Post Coffee Euphoria”


NVH: The second instrumental on the album. This was actually the first instrumental I had written while making Feelings. This song was where I came up with the idea for the coffee songs. After I wrote it it reminded me of the first moments after you have your coffee in the morning. When you feel motivated and like anything is possible. I’m a person that is very sensitive to caffeine so I really feel that surge of endorphins after that first cup of coffee.





8. “Just Words”


NVH: “Just Words” is the emotional centerpiece of Feelings. I made the choice to have only my voice on the song because it is me singing to Amanda. It is meant to deconstruct how I write love songs, detailing all the components that go into a devotional song. It’s also a plea. I may not always have grand romantic gestures, and we may want to tear each other apart from time to time, but I’ll always have words for her and I’ll always mean them. And sometimes that’s enough.

This is the first song that really leans into the shoegaze and noise elements that I had applied more subtly throughout the album. I wanted the bridges to be really forceful musically to back up what I was saying in them. I have to give a shout out to Stephen Stewart, my close friend and musician who mixed and mastered Feelings. This song was probably a nightmare to work with because it vacillates between really quiet to really loud on a dime. He did a great job mixing and mastering the whole album, but he really did a great job with this song in particular, making sure it didn’t break the eardrums of anyone listening to it. 

“Just Words” also has my favorite lyric on the album. “An ocean’s no ocean / Without a few waves”. Every relationship has its hardships, but those are an indelible part of any relationship. You can’t really enjoy the good times without making it through the bad. After all, “an ocean’s no ocean without a few waves”.



9. “Rise Up”


NVH: I wrote “Rise Up” right as the MeToo movement was starting to gain steam. This song is all about how men like me have to take shitty men to task. We have to actively help dismantle a system that was built to benefit us at the expense of others. We need to use our privilege to lift up others that don’t have the benefit of that privilege.

This song poured out of me in the course of an afternoon. I was so mad at the world, and especially those that could be so horrible to women. As I was writing the lyrics Amanda helped me better convey what I was trying to say. I had written a verse about how we all have mothers or sisters so we need to stand up for them. Amanda explained to me that you shouldn’t only be motivated to take action against violence or harassment because it happened to someone close to you. Those egregious acts shouldn’t happen to anyone, period. She not only helped me complete the song but she made me see the way I had been viewing these issues had been extremely limited. We shouldn’t need an inciting incident to “Rise Up”. We should do it because what is happening is wrong and that needs to change.



10. “Post Post Coffee Euphoria Crash”


NVH: I have an anxiety disorder. This makes me very susceptible to the effects of caffeine in both positive and negative ways. If “Post Coffee Euphoria” is the feeling you get after you drink your coffee in the morning, “Post Post Coffee Euphoria Crash” is the feeling you get when you’ve had too much coffee. We all know the feeling of having too much coffee and getting jittery. For me, too much coffee doesn’t only come with the jitters, it comes with the deluge of anxiety that comes when you’re feeling slightly off. The stacking guitar lines are meant to convey competing thoughts that you can barely contain as they bump up against each other, fighting for space, until it all crescendos and you can’t contain the madness happening inside you. This song, to me, best conveys what it feels like to fall into a downward spiral of anxiety.





11. “I Give Up”


NVH: The last two songs on Feelings are a thematic pair. Lyrically, I come back to the theme of self-doubt in the face of creation a lot with Of House. Because I write and record this music alone, it is all too easy to feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter or isn’t good enough. I like to work alone and create these songs in the ways I want them to be created, but it is difficult to not have a sounding board until after a song is completed. My process in Of House is to write and record a song, and then play it for Amanda and my band — who plays live with me and records the parts I write for new Of House songs. I know I can trust them to tell me the truth about things they like or dislike about a particular song, but “I Give Up” is about the moments when I‘m alone and before I reach out to other people. I like the creative control that working alone gives me, but when you’re by yourself it can be hard to not give in to your baser doubts.

Lyrically, that is all right upfront in “I Give Up.” This is the only other song that doesn’t have Amanda on it, and that was also a conscious decision. Because “I Give Up” is about the loneliness that can be felt as a lone creative, it felt appropriate to only have my voice on the song. This song also incorporates more of the dreamier elements that I try to convey in Of House songs. The synth line isn’t as buoyant as other Of House songs and mixes within the song as opposed to being the driving hook. The song isn’t all gloomy though. The extended outro works to be triumphant. Dovetailing with the positive message that is to come in “Get Free”.



12. “Get Free”


NVH: “Get Free” wasn’t the final song I wrote for Feelings, but it was always going to be the last full song on the album. This is the song where I loosen the shackles of self doubt just enough and I begin to feel good about what I am putting into the world. Of course, this being an Of House song, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are still allusions to self doubt and wondering if what I am making is good enough, but “Get Free” isn’t meant to completely cast those feelings aside. I’ll never get free of those feelings. They are a part of me and my artistic process. They can be frustrating and sad, but they also help me get to where I need to be in a way. There is no moment in the song where I truly “Get Free” but that’s ok. Getting free, to me, means incorporating into yourself those aspects that may feel counterproductive. That way you can go through them. There is never a true breakthrough moment in the song where everything crescendos and you can the song breaking free. But “Get Free” is meant to be more subtle than that. You don’t have to bust through a wall to get outside. Sometimes you just need to walk through the door.



13. “Post Post Post Coffee Euphoria Crash Resolution”


NVH: And that brings us to the end of Feelings. The last coffee song had to be a resolution. The feeling of calm when everything finally falls into place. When euphoric highs and anxious lows level out, and you are left with the calm that comes with knowing that everything is going to be alright. It’s not a huge cathartic revelation, it’s the small feelings that we feel most of the time throughout our lives. That’s what I hope people take away from this album. There are highs and lows in life, but it’s the middle where we live most of the time. And those are the “Feelings” that matter the most.



Roasted coffee beans, ground coffee and a Cup of hot coffee on a


Of House’s ‘Feelings’ is out now and available pay-what-you-want here. Be sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date with their music. For more words on Of House, you can check out our 8track, where we featured “Get Free”.

Album Auto-nalysis: The Rifle’s ‘Honeyden’

Album Auto-nalysis: The Rifle’s ‘Honeyden’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Nelene Deguzman of Tucson indie/psych rock band The Rifle to detail their new album ‘Honeyden’.


the rifle
The Rifle (photo credit: Josh Wallace)


1. “Starlings”


Nelene Deguzman: I like gentle beginnings. To me, this song feels like getting to wake up really slowly very early in the morning when you have the whole day to yourself.  Originally, “Starlings” and “Dyads” were written as one long track, but I love an intro, so we separated them into two. 

Time of day:  So early it’s still a little dark out



2. “Dyads”


ND: Feels like a nice slow morning in your own bed before a car ride in that good golden light, seeing changing landscapes.  

Time of day: The sun is just rising



3. “My Sweet Babe”


ND: This song is all sweetness and nostalgia.  It’s reminiscing over an old photograph while romanticizing the past and the future.  I wrote it for my now husband (Kevin) in lieu of vows for our wedding. Gross! I know! 

Time of day: Noon



Husband Kevin on the big fretted guitar, ‘Honeyden’ release show (photo credit: Christopher B. Riggs)


4. “The Garden”


ND: This song is silent, peaceful rage, yelling as loud as you can into a void, but also smiling because you look prettier that way. 

Time of day: 2 PM; still three more hours in the workday



5. “Orange Dream”


ND: I grew up experiencing vinyl and cassette tapes as a novelty. Something imprinted on me regarding albums being arranged in a side A and side B, so I like having a little instrumental interlude or musical intermission to separate two halves of an album.  

Time of day: Happy hour with tiki drinks



6. “Seventeen Stings”


ND: When I’m feeling really anxious, I try to tell myself wildly positive things, but those don’t really drown out the shadow voice in my head saying terrible things. Instead, I end up holding those two voices in my head at the same time which creates a very weird dissonance.  But also Kevin and I were once attacked by killer bees. True story. Been chasing that bee venom high ever since.

Time of day: When you wake up from a nap that’s gone way too long and it’s dark out, and you’re not sure the time or how long you’ve been asleep





7. “Are You Having Fun Yet?”


ND: Examining childhood wounds through the lens of adult traumas.  A conversation with a younger version of yourself. 

Time of day: 3:15 PM



8. “Joy Destroyer”


ND: Driving around, listening to news stories, feeling so bummed you think you can’t get any more bummed, but then the bottom drops out like a wallop to the stomach and it’s worse.

Time of day: 7 AM



9. “Visitation”


ND: This song was one of those funny situations in which I wrote the whole thing in one day, one sitting. Feels like inhabiting the world as a peaceful ghost in your own life.  Soft sheets, neon reflections.  

Time of day: 11:11 PM



10. “Paving”


ND: I just want to get away from the need to compete with other people, or feeling compared to the success of others.  I just want to be on my own single lane road where I don’t even see how fast or slow other people are going. I’m happy to carpool though. Maybe give comparisons the finger and go roller skating instead.  

Time of day: 8 AM on a Monday morning, but you’ve quit your job so the possibilities are endless





The Rifle’s ‘Honeyden’ is out now and available to purchase digitally from the band and on cassette via Burger Records. Be sure to follow The Rifle on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up-to-date with their music.

Album Auto-nalysis: Processions’ ‘Blush’

Album Auto-nalysis: Processions’ ‘Blush’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked frontman Phil Alfonso of San Antonio shoegaze/post-punk band Processions to detail their recent LP ‘Blush’.




1. “Runaways”


Phil Alfonso: Of all the songs on Blush, this was the last one to be written, literally a few days before we recorded it. The inspiration for the intro riff was loosely based on My Bloody Valentine’s opening riff to “You Made Me Realise”. We wanted to make a shoegazey-punk sounding track. The lyrics are pretty straightforward and basically it’s about packing up your things with your romantic interest and eloping together on a beach. 



2. “C-Section”


PA: I really dislike the name of this one. It was written and sung by our other guitarist at the time. The chord progression is based on a classic doo-wop I–vi–IV–V. The lyrics are incredibly sad. Musically, I love the swirly hazy sound this one gives out. Definitely one of the stronger tracks on the EP. The vocal tracking on this one was pretty entertaining. 



3. “Solipsist” 


PA: This one was an attempt to make a pop song. I took the name from a book I randomly found at the library and thought the definition of the world ‘solipsist’ was interesting. When performed live, it’s definitely ‘edgy’ and fast. The lyrics are about not paying attention and neglecting a loved one because you’re too self-absorbed. My favorite part is the outro, because it starts off folksy-sounding and then becomes this wall of sound. Also, if you listen closely to the ending arpeggios you can hear the metronome. Haha. (Live version)



4. “Blush”


PA: This is the song that got us a lot of attention within the shoegaze circuit. I like the sound of my voice on this particular track as well, I hit those highs in the hook very nicely. I always felt that this track was super unique within that shoegaze circuit. I can’t think of a single shoegaze song that has guitar shredding of this kind. I used to dislike the drum sounds on this whole record, but more recently I grew to love its unique tone. It definitely set us apart from some of our local contemporaries. (Live version)





5. “Slow Decay” 


PA: I love performing this track live, but I absolutely hate the recording of it. It sounds too monotonous for my own enjoyment and something about the drums always sounded off. I will say I enjoyed the guitar sounds in the recording a lot. Like “Solipsist”, this track is way better live and has more depth and dynamic to it. I will probably re-record it for a future release. The lyrics were about being sick in bed all day. 



6. “Ghosts”


PA: This is an interesting track. I love how dark it sounded in comparison to everything else we had done prior. I love the punchy bassline and the atmosphere of the song. It’s definitely a far cry to anything we had done on Blush. By this point musically, shoegaze became kind of a cheap tag and a lot of the bands were sounding the same, so we wanted to get our feet wet with darker post-punk sounds. (Live version)






7. “Dalliance”


PA: This song marked what would’ve been a great come back as a band after a two year recording dry spell. We had gotten tighter, more comfortable, and able to do more improv live. However, things started slowing down, practices became far and few. Writing this song was easy.  Unfortunately, getting all of my former mates to record this single was like pulling teeth and like all good things it sort of fell apart and we went our separate ways. I’m very proud of how this song came out and very happy many people enjoyed it. It definitely gave me the motivation to continue this project and I’m happy with the members I have now and we’re working extra hard to continue to make music.





Processions’ ‘Blush’ is out now digitally and on cassette via Z Tapes and is available to purchase here. Processions play Paper Tiger tonight in San Antonio in support of Dreamgirl. Be sure to follow Processions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud to keep up-to-date with the band.

Album Auto-nalysis: Machine+’s ‘Samsara’

Album Auto-nalysis: Machine+’s ‘Samsara’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Machine+ to detail their recent LP ‘Samsara’.




1. “Poor June”


Machine+: This was technically the first song recorded for the album. I wanna say back in January 2018, although it didn’t even come close to resembling the final version until mid-2019. It was originally written for a band I was a part of called Susurrate, but no one really thought it fit the mood of the EP we were working on, so I just continued tinkering with it while working on my other album Birds Can Sing. Thematically, I sort of consider it to be an overture for the rest of the album, brief moments of lo-fi indie, glitch, etc. Lyrically, it’s tangentially about cycles and habits, but with a lot of surrealistic imagery. I had a lot of doubts adding it because it’s probably the most experimental song on the album, but I thought it set the mood nicely and ultimately decided on including it. One more thing… I want to give credit for the intro to the album, it’s a chopped and screwed version of this song my friends wrote called “As They Ate the Soup”. They never released it, so I did a “remix” of it and thought it would be perfect as an opener to the album.

Inspiration: Oneohtrix Point Never, The Microphones, Mid Air Thief, Vaporwave, Chopped & Screwed remixes, Radiohead’s Kid A



2. “Alien Interference Blues”


Machine+: This was the song where I really knew I had a new album forming. I had songs ready before this one, but this was the first where I really went “oh yeah this could be an interesting direction for an album”. The opening glitch section was the first thing I made intended for a new album. I recorded some guitar on my phone really late at night and just stayed up until like 7 A.M. chopping it up bit by bit and by the time I went to bed it was pretty much finished. Then I realized it would work really well with this shoegaze song I had written a couple months earlier, and voilà, we have “Alien Interference Blues”. I actually didn’t do the last minute or so of the song until a few weeks before the album was out. I felt it needed a smoother bridge into “Soft Lights” and I ended up with this cool sound collage thing so I just let it play out. I think it’s fairly straightforward thematically.

Inspiration: Four Tet, Sweet Trip, Deftones (Saturday Night Wrist era), Jesu, Ground Zero



3. “Soft Lights”


Machine+: So “Soft Lights” was actually written for a different group project that sorta fell through before we finished, so I completely reworked and rerecorded it for Samsara because it was just too good of a song to just let fade into the wind. Once I had the Samsara version of the song completed, I realized it worked really well as a bridging of the gaps between Birds Can Sing and this (I’m completely obsessed with discographies that have these threads you can follow album to album picking up on themes and sounds that carry over and hint where the artist is going next), so it became the obvious choice for ‘lead single’.

Inspiration: Portishead, Slowdive, Duster, King Krule, Low



4. “Something Next to You”


Machine+: Originally conceived as nothing more than the outro vocals you hear at the end of “Alien Interference Blues” and “Soft Lights” and the ending glitch synth (without the glitches) at the end of the song, it really quickly became its own beast and I had to separate them. It’s the closest thing stylistically to my older albums with its sort of ripoff Teen Suicide Bandcamp emo thing it has going on. It’s the only song that was really written with an experiment in mind first and not a song, the ditty came later on. This and “Soft Lights” thematically sort of stab at this love in the face of apathy and growing cynicism and the cycles and circles that sort of thinking can lead you to.

Inspiration: Oval, Fennesz, OPN, Teen Suicide, Red House Painters, more Low and Microphones



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5. “Scruff”


Machine+: Which leads us right into “Scruff”, which is all about this kind of cycle at its lowest point, pure apathy split into five parts. Technically speaking, this is the oldest song on the album, the original idea being a super expansive 30 minute modern classical piece I was writing in like 2013 before I even started and it just slowly evolved into whatever you can call “Scruff” now. It was the song on the album that came most ‘naturally’ flowing from idea to idea, for some reason glitch just sits nicely against post-rock to avant folk to alt-rock and back again in my head. There’s probably six or seven different recorded versions I have of this song sitting in multiple different places and none of them resemble each other in the slightest. When I write songs, I don’t really go in with an explicitly composed idea, more like general outlines where I improvisationally fill in the details while recording. I think “Scruff” really represents that side of my songwriting the best and I’m very proud of how it came out despite the improv. Makes me wanna do more like this song in the future.

Inspiration: Uncle Meat by Mothers of Invention, Giant Claw/Death’s Dynamic Shroud, Gastr del Sol, Lost Salt Blood Purges



6. “Hold Me Baby Blue”


Machine+: The other song I wrote alongside “Soft Lights” for the group project that ended up falling through. Similar to “Soft Lights”, it’s a bit more simple than the other material, but I thought it would make the perfect breather track near the end of the album to interrupt the two mammoth songs. I honestly don’t have a ton to say about this one, it’s a fairly straightforward love ballad and production-wise it was much easier to put together than anything else on the album; guitar, lead guitar, MIDI drums and vocal.

Inspiration: basically just Mark Kozelek



7. “On the Mountain”


Machine+: Alright, and finally “On the Mountain”. Me and this song have some major major history. It was the first Machine+ song I ever wrote, on December 25, 2013, and it has followed me throughout the years begging for a place and a true recording, but I could never make it work. My first album Sketch My Apocalypse has a 10 minute version of it that is basically just noise; I tried doing an acoustic version on a now-deleted EP, but I wasn’t satisfied with that either. I tried recording a poppier version for Birds Can Sing and multiple shortened versions for various group projects. BUT. IT. JUST. WOULDN’T. WORK. So one day, I was working on a song and I decided “okay, let me do this for real”. I cranked the tempo WAY down and just kept playing and I was finally happy with it at the end of that day of recording. It was such a moment of closure for me to finally put down this song that has haunted me through project after project and it really fit the theme of the album being the light at the end of a very dark and isolated tunnel. The ending sound collage was the last thing I did to the album before uploading it on Bandcamp and it serves two purposes: one is bit more surface level as it bridges the album back to front, like the ending glitches of the song as it fizzles out are also the first glitches you hear when the album is ‘revving up’ in “Poor June”; the second purpose is a bit more thematic, I treat the sound collage as a sort of exorcism of the apathy and general bad feels that produced my last three albums, just a pure “get out, it’s time to start something new”.

Inspiration: Jesu, MBV, *shels,



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Machine+’s ‘Samsara’ is out now digitally and is available to purchase here through Bandcamp. Be sure to follow Machine+ on Twitter and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date with the artist. You can read more on ‘Samsara’ from us via Secat’s Bandcamp Roulette.

Album Auto-nalysis: ODAE’s ‘Ataraxic’

Album Auto-nalysis: ODAE’s ‘Ataraxic’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular COUNTERZINE feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track and provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked ODAE to detail their recent LP ‘Ataraxic’, out now via Very Jazzed.


Green Room 2


1. “What?”


Impressions and Sources: playing music with my friends; walking in a circle around my recorder and clapping in the backyard of my old house, feeling sentimental

This is one of my earlier forays into the composition process that kinda defined the sound of Ataraxic – basically I would make a thing, and then stretch it until its something completely different, and then use that as the source of inspiration. I’m not good at creating ideas out of nothing, so I took an unreleased dance track that I didn’t like, and changed the tempo from 160 or whatever down to 20 to see what would happen — the little percussive elements and drum loops took on this really great unpredictable stretchy-loopy character (each different pitch/stretch algorithm or whatever has its own unique and fascinating timbre. They’re meant to preserve a sound, but as Ableton’s limits get reached the sound starts to get destroyed. I love it.) once I changed the tempo, the dance track became this completely different fascinating downtempo thing, a progression got inspired from that, and I built the track.

For the second half, it felt right to add a recording of an improvisation my band Pretty Dad did at a park – I was remembering how it sounded and it gave off this energy I really resonated with. Vox recorded with a 15-dollar mic cause that’s all I had! With this and with other tracks, I kinda went up to the mic and pressed record, not knowing what I was going to sing – it’s very fortunate that the themes for most of the tracks ended up similar. I guess when you’re thinking about certain things all the time those things will impart themselves into what you do.



2. “Patienec”


Impressions and Sources: A squeaky fence outside St. Peter’s Basilica, heavily noise-reduced in Audition until only the pitch remained; moving into a new place and starting fresh; construction; a conversation with a friend, walking

Heavily edited Absynth preset, going crazy on the pitch knob on my keyboard, lol – had this really pretty loop going that inspired a melody – so I went and sang it.

The first dance section sampled a record I got at a thrift store, it was called Reeds and Percussion – I have it somewhere. I sample this record so much actually, haha. I love the biting transients of this section, it’s almost painful when I turn it up. To increase the uncanniness, I also automated the tempo up and down so it would shake you off a bit. Really delightfully uncomfortable to me. The ideas change really fast in this track, maybe a bit too fast in retrospect.

I love the third section of this track – I had a lot of fun with the free Oculus Binaural Spatializer VST (It’s everywhere on this album) – I pitched a sound up until it sounded almost like crickets and panned it around until it would give me ASMR – the meat of this section was inspired by the fun I had sitting alone with my Microbrute and my electric guitar as I was moving into my current apartment. I ran the guitar dry into the Microbrute and, with the oscillators turned off, used the arpeggiator with the analog filter to turn the dry guitar signal into this fantastic sounding percussive sequence thing. Almost every element of this section is recordings of the guitar-Microbrute jam. Also have some creepy phase-inverted sounds of me brushing my headset against the mic and breathing and stuff.

I asked my roommate/best friend/violinist of Pretty Dad to improvise to the track, and I grabbed a few percussive bits she did – it really makes the track in my opinion.



3. “Enby”


Impressions and Sources: ASMR ear cupping, ASMR whispering, Can – Mother Sky / Deadlock – Live in Soest (1970), Early CGI Facial Animation (1974), cherry mx blue spacebar pressing pause

Simple melody from inside Ableton, all other sources performed one at a time from my 404 with hardware FX, obscure media I had stored for Pretty Dad, deciding to incorporate it into something I had been sitting on for a while. Singing about wanting to open up, wanting to express myself more.



4. “Cascade”


Impressions and Sources: Church bell and pigeons in Italy; cars passing; crowd inside the Sistine Chapel; tram from the George Bush International Airport in Houston

A more fun track! Started out making a weird thing with a stretched-out recording of an old Casio keyboard I got at an estate sale, turning it into some sort of beat, then slowing down the tempo drastically like in “What?” – It became what the first minute of “Cascade” is – and then I let it be for maybe a month or two, forgot about it, rediscovered it, and then OOPS! Lost the project file… So I made a new project with the stereo mix of that first minute and decided I’d continue from there! The “drop” of this track where the whispering begins came from completely resampling and bootleg remixing the first minute – I don’t really remember what I did in too much detail. That shiny metallic character that the percussion has came from like six grain delays in sequence, high feedback, super short delay time, making some instances pitch the sound up, and others pitch the sound down – was rly inspired by SOPHIE when I was doing that.

The lyrics for this track are some of the few that I wrote down before recording – I was trying to write songs in the notes app of my phone during my spare time when inspiration hit, and then trying to match them to any track I was making if it fit. It ended up fitting here!

I cheated recording the guitar in the outro and recorded it one voice at a time because I can’t play guitar too well 😉



kalaid 3


5. “Petrol”


Impressions and Sources: Acoustics; fun and dance; in the bottom of a ferry engine blaring

This is a fun one. This is the last track I made, and it all happened in about a day or so. Was feeling really manic and was having a lot of fun stretching and panning and moving around this sample of “Acoustics” by Henry Kaiser and others – it sounds so similar to how Pretty Dad sounds, and everyone who listens to it thinks it’s a Pretty Dad sample. It’s really funny to me. Also sampled Stereolab on those drums. I hope I don’t get sued lol. Anyway, that sample in the beginning is what you hear in the middle as well, just heavily, heavily stretched. The Binaural Spatializer plugin really came in handy with this track – the way things bounce around left and right is really frightening to me. I’m really proud of it.



6. “Apatheia”


Impressions and Sources: It’s a Blue World; Thunder tube in an abandoned house; a bangin’ donk; a church bell and a crowd; the love of my life

This song I also wrote – It’s probably the most tied to the title of all the tracks. “Just let me speak with id today.” Surprisingly, this track was directly inspired by an Andrew Huang “4 PRODUCERS FLIP THE SAME SAMPLE” video. My partner was over and we were watching it and I was like “let’s do it do you have any samples for me babe” and they sent me a playlist they had been curating of things-to-sample. I found this:

and I made most of the track with them while we were spending time together.



7. “Passion”


Impressions and Sources: Minecraft; an orchestra; something bigger than me

The original version of this track was like 130 BPM faster. I had been sitting on this set of notes for probably two years. After experiencing my process with “What?” and other tracks, I tried to see what chance would give me with this. Immediately was inspired to flesh it out, something I had been struggling with since it was originally doodled. Really proud of the textures here. It incorporates all the production ideas I had been experimenting with up to that point. First, keeping the original fast tempo, printing a bunch of different reverb tracks of various wetness into wav files, panning it with the Binaural Spatializer, then pitching and stretching the reverb prints by slowing the tempo by %X00 – The primary synth is clean while the reverb glitches and stretches and warbles and beats with itself.

The vocals on here were mostly gibberish – I don’t remember what I said. “it’s a growing compound / great glory / indecipherable”. I loved the recording, though, so I kept it in – It felt right. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the ending sample.

So yeah! A lot of these decisions seem a bit frivolous to me, but that’s because I never imagined anyone would listen to it. I think you shouldn’t think too much about the stuff you’re doing if you are purely doing it for yourself in the moment. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me, I love you all! I have a lot of projects I’m working on, so I’ll be back.



ODAE’s ‘Ataraxic’ is out now digitally and is available to purchase here through Bandcamp. Be sure to follow ODAE on Twitter and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date with the artist. Further reading available via Tiny Mix Tapes (R.I.P.)

Album Auto-nalysis: Copper’s ‘Number Six Girls School’

Album Auto-nalysis: Copper’s ‘Number Six Girls School’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular Counterzine feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track, to provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Peter Obermark of Cincinnati power pop band Copper to detail the band’s recent album ‘Number Six Girls School’.


Peter Obermark of Copper


1. “Number Six Girls School”


Peter: The song is based on a true story from China’s “cultural revolution” purges of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when a lot of teachers, intellectuals, and professional people were rounded up and imprisoned or executed. I wrote it as a cautionary tale about the dangers of authoritarianism, and its insistence on ideological conformity. But I wanted the song to really rock—to counterpoint the grim lyrics with an up-tempo, rowdy feel. We layered a lot of tracks on this one—tenor and acoustic guitars on the quiet intro, and then George Cunningham’s twangy/over-driven Danelectro vamp when the song takes off.



2. “American Boy”


Peter: A true story about a young woman I knew in London, England of the mid-1970s. She had been raised by fundamentalist Christian parents outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, but escaped when she turned 17 and ran off to London. I met her in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, 1975, and we became friends. She had a thing for dressing in men’s clothes, and liked to “pass” as a man—and her parents had a hard time accepting that, which is why she fled when she could. I had originally conceived of this tune as a strictly acoustic ballad, but as it evolved in the studio, co-producers Chris Arduser and Matt Hueneman decided it would be fun to really let the song morph into a pop rocker after the first verse.



3. “Kellyanne”


Peter: My poison-pen love letter to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway—a Zen
mistress of obfuscation and gaslighting if ever there was one. I wanted to make it fun in a ’60s kind of way—really give a jangly, harmony-driven kind of feel to the song. The chord structure is utter simplicity, but the vocal arrangements and idiosyncratic guitar riffs make it sound more other-worldly than it otherwise would. We had two superb singers—Kelly McCracken and Hallie Menkhaus—who really ran away with the vocal harmonies on this one.





4. “Sleeper Cell”


Peter: A true story from my days as a street paramedic. There was a house of friendly heroin addicts my squad used to get called to on a regular basis for overdose emergencies, and we’d usually—but not always—get there in time to resuscitate them. Our producer/drummer, Chris Arduser, added a couple of dandy baritone guitar tracks to the opening hook—I wanted to give this song an elegiac, slightly country feel. The verses are meant to be dreamy, but I wanted a harder rhythmic edge on the choruses.



5. “Dread and Circuses”


Peter: A song about the current awfulness of American political and social life—the place where mindless reality television and vulgar politicians meet angry young men in polo shirts marching with tiki torches. We anchored the song with acoustic and tenor guitars, and then let George loose with his ’60s Stratocaster to give the song a playful, even mocking feel. The title,  of course, is a play on the ancient Roman axiom that one can always distract the restless masses with “bread and circuses”.



bread and circuses


6. “Radio Opticon”


Peter: I wrote this one about my son, Nathan, and his lifelong love affair with music and public radio. He was born with severe cerebral palsy, and in addition to keeping him in a wheelchair since birth, it has also left him with severely impaired vision. Consequently, the world of sound–music, NPR, Car Talk, and so forth, became his window on the world–his “opticon”– from an early age. This started out life as a mid-tempo tune, but as we worked it in the studio, it kept getting slower, harder-edged, and more eccentric. By the time we added the theramin track, it sounded almost like a parody of a sci-fi B-movie, and I love how this one came out.



7. “Bippy Can’t Be Bothered”


Peter: Not the kind of song I’d usually write—it’s a bit more punk-ish and knuckle-headed than my typical style—but it was just the mood that I was in at the time. It’s about that place where rural, southern Ohio prejudice meets Ayn Rand.



8. “What Happened to My Heart”


Peter: This one started as a very stripped-down tune—a single electric rhythm guitar track, and a couple of jangly hooks with a Rickenbacker. Like a cook who can’t stop adding ingredients, we kept finding more stuff to do on it—Chris started doubling the jangly guitar hooks with a baritone guitar, Matt added a crunchier Rickenbacker on the choruses, and Chris wrote a complex vocal harmony arrangement for Hallie, one of our backing vocalists. It ended up with a fuller and more nuanced sound than what we started out with.



9. “Slipping Out of Time”


Peter: A song about the interior dialogue of a man contemplating suicide—not just with
sadness, but relief and anticipation. I wanted the verses and choruses to capture the backand-forth pendulum of that dialectic—first, a meditation on past failures and disappointments, and then an ever-increasing exhilaration at the prospect of release. Thus, the song’s alternating between the subdued, tremelo guitar-inflected verses, and the fast build to an explosion on the choruses.



copper cd


Copper’s ‘Number Six Girls School’ is out now digitally and available to purchase through CD Baby and Bandcamp. As the image above suggests, it seems CDs are or will soon be floating around, so follow Copper on Facebook and Bandcamp for updates. ‘Number Six Girls School’ was also listed as Shosa’s #12 album of 2019.

Album Auto-nalysis: Tidal Babes’ ‘OMG’

Album Auto-nalysis: Tidal Babes’ ‘OMG’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular Counterzine feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track, to provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Lyndsi Austin and Chris Qualls of Los Angeles power pop band Tidal Babes to detail their recent EP ‘OMG’.


Tidal Babes (left to right: Chris Qualls, Lyndsi Austin, Danny DeLeon)


1. “OMG”


Lyndsi: When we first started the project, we really wanted to have everything lined up before we went public.  Aesthetic, pictures, socials, marketing and especially the music.  Because Chris (Qualls) is a songwriter/producer for Cutcraft Music/Concord Publishing, we were able to write and record 20+ songs before we even announced the band.  “OMG” was the standout of the first batch and we knew that we wanted to work up to it.  We basically worked for a year building up our online presence and Spotify numbers before we even considered releasing this one.  Our friend Conor Long made a great video for OMG and we made it the single/title track for the whole EP.  It’s been getting played on some cool radio stations out here in SoCal like 106.7 KROQ.  We’re actually releasing the radio edit this Friday with no “fucks” given.



2. “Hang”


Chris: This song is a lot of fun.  The whole idea behind Tidal Babes is writing every song in under an hour, so we don’t over think everything.  In sessions for Cutcraft/Concord we’ll spend the whole time trying to make every aspect of the song perfect.  It takes the fun out of it.  A writer’s initial idea is usually the best anyway, so we have a “trust your gut” policy with TB.  On “Hang” we wanted to do something Ramones-esque.  We wrote this one with my writing partner Eric Straube.



3. “Tamagotchi”


Lyndsi: This one gets stuck in my head all the time.  We wrote “Tamagotchi” with Johnny Robelot and Jen Rose from the LA grunge/punk band Keen.  It’s definitely got their influence all over it.  After we finished the demo, we kinda steered in to the grunge element with the frosting and the production.  The guitar solo is very Nirvana-inspired.  Lyrically, I love the weirdness.  I have a great memory of Jen and I sitting on their front steps on a sunny day smoking a joint and working out the verses. I would have never had the idea to write a song about ’90s digital pets on my own.  Such a fun song – thanks Jen and Johnny.



4. “Bam”


Lyndsi: To me, this is just California summed up in 3 minutes and 16 seconds.  A sassy girl drinking, smoking weed and not letting anyone tell her what to do. It’s empowering while also being lighthearted and fun.  Gotta live your best life and not get caught up in other people’s opinions.



5. “Gay for You”


Chris: This is a really special one to me.  This is also the only song that Lyndsi and I wrote on the EP without any additional co-writers.  I always love ballads, but we had to figure out how to make it work and maintain all the pop/rock, surf, punk elements that make up the Tidal Babes sound.  Since the subject is somehow still ‘controversial’ even in 2019/2020, we wanted the lyrics to be extremely conversational so that everyone could relate to them.  It’s about that moment where you’re with someone and you realize, “damn, I’m in trouble”.  When you like someone so much that they’re all you can think about.  When the rest of the world just melts away regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, social class.  Musically, I’m very proud of the transition into the bridge and how we use a key change to get to that last chorus.  It shows a little sophistication, in my opinion.





Tidal Babes’ ‘OMG’ is out now digitally and is available to purchase here through Nevado Music. Be sure to follow Tidal Babes on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date with the band. Further reading available via EARMILK, Rattler, Tattoo, Rock Your Lyrics, Rock Life Magazine, Folk N Rock, Pure Grain Audio, and Vinyl Chapters.

Album Auto-nalysis: Lemon Melon’s ‘Des Winks’

Album Auto-nalysis: Lemon Melon’s ‘Des Winks’

Album Auto-nalysis is a regular Counterzine feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track, to provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked Lincoln, England big beat plunderphonics producer Lemon Melon to detail thier recent album ‘Des Winks’.


Lemon Melon


1. “The Barydance”


Lemon Melon: Based on an excerpt from Don Quixote, the concept was to have a progressively building structure that became more intense as it grew. The original break was more of a straight-time funk groove, but I wanted the whole track to have an organically performed UK garage/two-step beat feel. The idea that Baryshnikov would refer to his own dancing as a brand seemed particularly funny, and the short quiet breaks were supposed to be similar to the vaudeville sketches where the entertainers would exchange a joke or two before resuming their song.



2. “The Greatest Song I’ve Ever Heard”


LM: This was assembled from a couple of old township jive records, rearranging sections that were more instrumental and putting a bigger beat behind. The lead voice was from a Kate McKinnon interview about a legendary band who made the greatest music she’d ever heard; I liked the idea that such a simple, pretty song could be considered the greatest song ever, it’s not that it couldn’t be the greatest, it just doesn’t seem particularly epic or dramatic enough to be the greatest. The brass section came from a very unlikely YouTube cover of a PATD track, but rearranged in a way that seemed to compliment the rest of the casual groove well enough.



3. “Tell the DJ to Put the Brasses On”


LM: Written around the reassembled parts of an old ska track (Basement Jaxx used the chorus of it for their debut album), the vocals were from an interview with Julia Shapiro and Courtney Barnett discussing how they worked, what their studios were like, etc. The repeated “yeah” in the refrain is a distorted line from the same interview, it worked way too well. The title is a bit of a misheard joke (brass disc), the thought that a song could actually become really cool as soon as the DJ “drops the brasses” (rather than, perhaps, the inverse). The intro was from a BBC radio interview with Haim that was so incredibly dorky (and cringe) I couldn’t resist using it. The brass came again from the same Youtube brass cover artist (a Van Halen cover this time), the clarity of the recordings is just so clean and since they’re brassapellas, they go with almost anything. I had another version with a totally different chorus based on a Blink 182 cover, maybe I’ll re-use it again in the future.





4. “A Halloween Scare (You’ll Never Escape)”


LM: Similar to the other Halloween tracks I’ve worked on, based mostly on old Soviet music or Parisian romantic music from the 60’s, with any non-Halloween sounding chords or melodies taken out. The Berenstain Bears are just too ridiculous not to use. “You’ll never escape” came from the last episode of Idiotsitter: it seemed to work. There was also some “Smoke on the Water” organ in the middle for drama; the ending was a re-creation of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a lot of the sound effects were from a YouTuber making foley sounds with his guitar.



5. “1000 Rooms”


LM: Based on an amazing Lizzy Mercier Descloux sample that had such an original sound to the piece, I couldn’t find any other music or genre that had such a great combination of jazzy soul and tropical ambience: I ended up having to write the song around it. The way the sample original was cut into place gave it an even more offbeat sound than it originally did, and I tried to program the drums in a way to accentuate this, so there’s never quite a downbeat, the rhythm is always moving and changing. The vocal sample is from the opening dialogue to a video game; every subsequent piece of dialogue seemed more confident and the character has more certainty, whereas this first piece of spoken word was so much more undecided and reserved. I liked the combination of spookiness and Caribbean, I think it gives the track a New Orleans voodoo vibe.



Lemon Melon’s ‘Des Winks’ is out now digital and is available pay-what-you-want here. You can also purchase their full, massive catalog for next to nothing right now (which we highly recommend). Be sure to follow Lemon Melon on FacebookTwitter, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud to keep up-to-date. You can read more about Lemon Melon via Acid Ted and The Devil Has the Best Tuna.