Album Review: Backxwash’s ‘God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It’

Album Review: Backxwash’s ‘God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It’


God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It

(Grimalkin Records)

The human experience, by its very nature, is personal and often painful, and yet institutionally, those with power and/or influence have seen it fit to allow additional, crushingly heavy layers of pain to be heaped upon individuals who don’t fit into the narrow mold of what they deem to be acceptable. This can be race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or a multitude of other things. Often it’s many. This occurs through bigoted law, socialization via government and corporate institutions (often working in tandem), and religion. It infects the working class, the regular people we see every day as innocent individuals are warped in the minds of others as objects of fear or hatred. It infects families. These people will project their insecurities on many things, but the go-to is often God. They will blame their failure to accept individuals outside of the assigned heteronormative binary on the supposed word of the Lord Almighty. They use God as a moral scapegoat.

The brutality we encounter aimed towards minority groups of all kinds is often visibly shocking, particularly in 2020 amidst the proliferation of social media and under an administration who openly emboldens those who would seek to inflict harm on those who aren’t like them. It’s physical violence. It’s horrific. It’s a big part of the picture. What seems to receive less attention, however, are the mental and emotional tolls: the suicidal ideations, the misplaced guilt, the understandable social paranoia. Zambian rapper/producer Backxwash’s God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It is an autobiographical account of her experiences as a black transwoman regarding mental health struggles, societal fear, and in particular, a family’s moral scapegoating of God when faced with their own’s true identity.

Backxwash’s music is often labeled as horrorcore, which is some ways accurate but also something of a misnomer as well. There is horror here, but it’s often of the self and psychological in nature, rather than aimed outwards and physical. The opening title track is as explicitly violent as she gets and it only goes as far as “Cross my heart and hope to die, I wish blood on my enemies” and “Mama keep telling me, ask the lord for forgiveness / I want war with these bitches, I want corpses and weapons“, approached with the broadness of someone very much reluctant to engage in violent acts, though delivered convincingly enough to allow an examination of the mask many black individuals put on so as not to show weakness to said enemies. In the same song, she makes reference to a drug-induced suicide attempt in more detail. What’s most telling about how it’s approached is that she’s understandably reluctant to fully re-engage with that moment, but still more willing to do so than clarify specific enemies or how she believes they should suffer for making her feel this way, even theoretically. It’s more vulnerable and heartbreaking than any soft sadboi hip-hop you’re likely to here these days, but the anger that propels it forward also gives it far more weight.

Following the opener are singles “Black Magic” and “Spells”, featuring Ada Rook and Devi McCallion both of Black Dresses, respectively. God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It is wisely not riddled with features given its insular subject material, but each contribution is meaningful and effective. Rook’s guitar on “Black Magic” gives the track a density, grind, and industrial heaviness that perfectly compliments Backxwash’s dark composition and seething vocals. McCallion meanwhile provides the hook for “Spells”, properly fey, drained, and ghostly given the occult-flavored beat. It’s probably a good time to note that unlike previous projects, God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It is fully self-produced (outside of the Hell and Heaven interludes from fatherfake and SKIN respectively). Following Deviancy and the news that Backxwash would take the reigns this time around, while “concern” is not the appropriate word, there was a personal acknowledgement that production-wise Flying Fisher and Sugeryhead’s beats for tracks such as “Devil In a Mosh Pit” and that album’s title track were more compelling than “Burn Me at the Stake”‘s. Any pre-conceived notions have been dismantled: as excellent as Deviancy was, God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It is a much more focused effort due to its consistent voice on production, which has been refined leaps as she seamlessly melds the heavier and more aggressive aspects of her past collaborators’ beats into her own witchy brew. Metal samples are prominent (Black Sabbath on the opener, for example), and fans of Lynchian psychological horror will be pleased to catch a clever call to Eraserhead.

Beyond the great importance of its pure conceptual material, the way its presented and delivered is what truly elevates God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It from a therapeutic writing exercise to a universally powerful classic that has the rare potential to actually help a wide array of listeners in profound ways. Backxwash is overflowing with charisma, but it’s not performative charisma: it’s relatability. While analogues can and will be drawn between tracks such as “Black Magic” and “Into the Void” and the work of Death Grips (especially considering both have received large base boosts via coverage from The Needle Drop) when hearing hooks like “I FUCK WITH BLACK MAGIC / YAH” and “I GO INTO THE VOID / FUCK!“, it’s important to remember that Death Grips are more performative and calculated than Backxwash, who puts forth a more grounded and potent picture of her experiences. If Death Grips makes pulp fiction, Backxwash makes biopics, but she doesn’t use that distinction as a “realism” crutch: she enforces it through her delivery. While “Into the Void” features the best hook on the album, it almost pales in comparison to the manic, confident verses which mix strength and fear until they’re indistinguishable, her voice a trembling yet immensely powerful force (“I’m paranoid that everyone is out to try and get me / I’m looking over shoulders as I’m passing through through the deli / Maybe cause my skin or maybe it’s the way I dress / I’m tearing out my limbs, I won’t make it till the next / I’m walking down the street, I’m anticipating death“). It never comes across “put on” in the way an MC Ride performance often does, crafting wild portraits of insane occurrences with blunt, crazed delivery yet complex prose that creates a disconnect. Backxwash is more inclined to call upon her own history and process it in real time and then magnify the voice of quieter traumas that go overlooked. There are some spots where it seems as though she’s trying to piece the words together as she says them, but it never veers into awkwardness or sloppiness. It’s just the relatable struggle to appropriately summarize emotions that are so twisted up, and sometimes connecting to that is more affecting than being presented with all the answers.

Though it’s often centered around difficult subject matter such as familial strain or misplaced guilt (not being able to be a big sister to her brother due to rejection from other family on “Adolescence”), paranoia (“Into the Void”), and drug use (“Black Sheep”), Backxwash still manages to squeeze in the very occasional spot of humor, such as the allusion to having a crush on Serge Ibaka on “Black Sheep”, without it being jarring. And while calling “Amen” anything resembling “levity” is quite a stretch, it can feel comparably so simply because it’s not anecdotal and instead a savage takedown of the opulence and hypocrisy of religious organizations donation-begging from poor folk so they can enrich themselves. The album closes on “Redemption”, which signifies a new clarity and self-acceptance, with Backxwash concluding that her redemption isn’t for the eyes of those who would reject her, but for herself, and it begins with relinquishing misplaced guilt over being herself (“Spend your whole life regretting this shit is pathetic / I wish I started sooner“).

It’s difficult to overstate just how vital this album is, and that’s not said lightly. It’s a time where art can feel frivolous as the world falls apart. Very rarely, however, there’s art that transcends being a great listen and ascends to being something that is or should be culturally significant. God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It feels like that rare art: devastatingly honest, creatively crafted, and hauntingly beautiful, it’s the type of thing that could save a life on the intersection of identity, and save the minds of those who’ve closed theirs to the plight of others before.


Favorite tracks: (All of them, but especially) “God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It”, “Black Magic”, “Spells”, “Into the Void”, “Amen”


Rating: Masterpiece


You can buy Backxwash’s God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It here or here.

Album Review: Pink Siifu’s ‘NEGRO’

Album Review: Pink Siifu’s ‘NEGRO’

Pink Siifu


(Not on Label)

There are some albums that we wish we didn’t still need. For every gay punk band, riot grrrl band, and many others, the music they make, the messages that they deliver is one that they shouldn’t have to repeat twice or more, if only the status quo was less oppressive to those they claim to love, respect and serve. NEGRO, like many punk albums, is one whose message is still vital due to what’s happening now. White-passing people express false oppression at black people showing literally as much pride in themselves and our art as they do in themselves, black kids are getting roughed up and thrown into jail by school policemen, black people still get shot, black women still get disrespected… and the same people who have oppressed us gleefully are the same one calling it disrespectful for crying out at the bullshit. NEGRO is one of those primal screams that came right when we needed it the most.

Those who have kept up with Pink Siifu’s sprawling discography knows that the last thing to do is box him in. He has released jazz records (referring to both his albums as iiye and as VCR@aol.jazz), punk records (more on that later), he raps over soul-sampling beats and also does avant-garde electronic albums (take a listen to his EP year 19803711967, for example). Pink Siifu’s projects all teach you to NEVER have expectations on what a black artist can do now. Hence, if you go into this NEGRO album expecting ensley part 2, you will be a massive fool for it.

Hell, this very fact can be proven by the orchestral blast of horns and free jazz drums in “BlackisGod,A Ghetto-sci-fi tribute”, which is a tribute to known Sun Ra-disciple and LA afrofuturist beatmaker/composer Ras G. Distorted screams of horns and manic drumming ushers the album in what is sure to clue you in on the fact that there will not be a single moment of rest and reprieve. What follows is Siifu taking on blown-out hardcore punk in a way that is not just angry, but passionate about what it is angry about. “SMD” and “FK”, two tracks from his FUCK DEMO sticks a middlefinger directly at white supremacy and its commitment to stealing from the have-nots that don’t share their color. “You wanna fuck with a nigga?“, Siifu screams on “FK” before eventually taking a breather to continue condemning police brutality.

Just when you think you got him pegged, Siifu trips out with “we need mo color”. Through NEGRO, what matters more than the music is the message: fuck white supremacy, fuck 12, know your roots and realize that your pride surrounding being black comes with having to navigate the hell of being black in a country that shows limited to no real respect for you as a human being.

For example of the far latter, news clips of police shootings compound on “ameriKKKa, try no pork” before eventually giving way to the frantic spoken word performance “run pig run” and all before he gives a little shout-out on “DEADMEAT” to Chris Dorner, a policeman who was murdered after being famous for killing other policemen and their families. The entire quadrifecta could easily be summed up in “Deadmeat”: “You treat me like I ain’t shit / Fuck y’all pieces of shit” and “I feel like eating ribs“. Yes, ribs.

To say that NEGRO is an album that explores black anger would be putting it too vaguely. It’s a cathartic scream after the maddening laughter for black people who have to deal with death anxiety, trauma, self-hatred and continued insults of their intelligence in America and a punch in the face to those who just want to hear him rhyme without truly hearing the point of his rhymes. NEGRO is an album that we wouldn’t need if overall situations were less like a predatory hellscape waiting to happen to all of us. If the lyrics “Pigs try to follow me / They tried to kill my family” weren’t a very likely reality. Not only among police, but the white person “joking” about calling the police on you for existing among them.

Considering the social landscape in America, we shouldn’t still need albums like NEGRO, but here we are, and to say we should be glad something like it exists at all feels like an understatement.


Favorite tracks: “SMD”, “FK”, “bebe’s kids,APOLLO (feat. Moor Mother)”


Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can buy Pink Siifu’s NEGRO here.


mynameisblueskye (all lowercase) is a bloggermusicmaker, poet, aspie, and an All-American original. When I tell you that you won’t find Nother one like me, I would really suggest that you take my word for it.

Medium Soft Shares “Waterfall”, Announces New Album ‘AM in the PM’

Medium Soft Shares “Waterfall”, Announces New Album ‘AM in the PM’

Today, we’re excited to share “Waterfall”, the newest single from UK singer-songwriter Medium Soft, as well as announce his follow up to March’s Paradise SlumsAM in the PM.

“Waterfall”, and by extension AM in the PM, represents a stylist shift from Paradise Slums, largely owed to the acquisition of a ’90s Technics keyboard bought with funds made from that record. As we continue to note, one of the most refreshing things about Medium Soft’s approach to the more lo-fi subsets of pop music is that it reaches beyond a hollow aesthetic and represents his personal circumstances: this time, he could afford a keyboard, so he’s going to use it.


medium soft
Medium Soft

And use it he does: on lead single “Waterfall”, there’s no sign of the nylon string guitar that defined the tropical escapism of Paradise Slums, instead favoring ’80s synth and city pop artists as inspiration, such as Hiroshi Sato, Bread and Butter, and Haruomi Hosono. The result is its own type of escapism still, reaching towards the pristine visage of the pop seen as the reflection of luxury life in Japan in the wake of the country’s economic boon in the ’70s and ’80s. Similarly to Paradise Slums, however, the recordings are of a more humble nature, reminding us such idealism is but a hazy dream to grasp at in our minds and slip through our fingers in reality. Fans of the aforementioned artists should appreciate “Waterfall”‘s cool, sparkling synths, but fans of modern artist Part Time should especially take note of where Medium Soft goes from here.


You can stream Medium Soft’s “Waterfall” below:


AM in the PM was named in reference to Medium Soft’s own sleeping patterns (largely awake at night and asleep during the day), as well as in homage to AM radio, where you’re liable to catch the occasional glimpse of pure pop magic obscured by a shaky signal and a poor timeslot. It’s yet again another perfect angle to cut for a man on a persistent yet gradual climb towards a better life via a communication of the beauty, peace, and happiness that isn’t, but should be. The album is tentatively planned for release sometime in June or July, and Medium Soft is currently looking for a tape label for release.


“Waterfall” is out now and available to purchase here. Be sure to follow Medium Soft on Twitter and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date with his music. You can read more about Medium Soft via our premiere of “I’m Fine, I Lied” or our review of ‘Paradise Slums’.

EP Review: Hunter Complex’s ‘Rain In Europe’

EP Review: Hunter Complex’s ‘Rain In Europe’

Hunter Complex

Rain In Europe

(Burning Witches Records)

In the Dutch underground electronica scene, Lars Meijer, aka Hunter Complex, has reached a cult status. Lars has been composing electronic, synth-based music for other 30 years, beginning by experimenting with synthesizer and putting his music out on homemade cassettes in the late 80’s. In the 90s as “Larz” Meijer released a couple of lo-fi electronic pop albums, and around 2000, along with Coen Oscar Polack and Jantijn Prins, Meijer formed Psychon Troopers, an electro-acoustic band mixing improvised and composed music who’ve released six albums. Around the same time, Meijer set up the label Narrominded and, along with Polack, formed the experimental lo-fi electronica duo Living Ornaments, a group for the more abstract side of Meijer and Polack’s musical outputs.

In 2008, Lars started recording his solo output under the moniker of Hunter Complex. In 2010, the Narrominded label released Hunter Complex, self titled, debut. A synth-pop and 80s new wave influenced album. In 2013, the follow up album Heat was released. A time capsule from the early 80s, awash with hypnotic techno-pop melodies and film score themes. We had to wait till 2019 for the Death Waltz label to release the critically acclaimed Open Sea, an album rich in warm, bright layered synths. In 2020, Dead Calm and Zero Degrees was released on Burning Witches Records, an album that is thematically similar to Open Sea as it was recorded at the same time, the ten tracks drenched in the wonderful nostalgic synthesizer sound that has become Hunter Complex’s trademark. On Dead Calm and Zero Degrees, Hunter Complex composes musical dreams cinematic, bright, fresh and warm. A sonically rich soundscape complex in its layers, yet deceptively simple in its hooks and rhythms and capable of filling a dance floor.

On May Day, Hunter Complex’s Rain In Europe EP was released. If you bought Dead Calm and Zero Degrees on Bandcamp, the EP was included, or it can be purchased from Burning Witches Records site.

Rain In Europe mines the same deep veins as the previous albums. The EP opens with “Street Value”, a gentle, positive opening track that builds up subtle patterns and layers towards a wistfully retro drum pattern that jams the song out. “When I Was In Africa” plays around with, almost, industrial sounding drum beats, with a decidedly hypnotic, metallic rhythm, robotic in nature until the blissful, swirling, building synths wrap around the rhythm, like a favourite blanket. “Coral Way” is full on early-80s synth nostalgia, a lost or imagined soundtrack that makes you hope that Lars Meijer might be approached to score a film. “Sleep Wave” is a delicious blend of synthwave and synth pop. There’s an intriguing feeling of two similar songs running simultaneously: together in rhythm and with very similar pads but with the crossfader being nudged expertly between them.

The EP ends on exceptional synth pop number “Television Sky”, which is designed to get the feet moving: a bass line driven classic. This is the upbeat, 80s soundtrack moment when boy gets girl or girl gets boy, the positive future moment applauded by squelchy beats and a bubbling bass. A truly infectious dance song.

Rain In Europe will only help to cement Lars Meijer’s cult status as one of the most innovative and interesting electronic composers. As Hunter Complex, his music is definitely nostalgic. If you’re not interested in synthwave music that’s tinged with an early 80s sound, then try something from Meijer’s other projects. However, if you think synth pop and synthwave never sounded better than on that old VHS tape, then you are in for an absolute treat.


Favorite track: “Television Sky”


Rating: Recommended


You can purchase Hunter Complex’s Rain In Europe here.


David Soulscorch is a music lover & music geek, radio fanatic, and sci-fi & horror fan who enjoys a spot of gardening & all thing Fortean. 

New Track: Max Gowan’s “My Kind”

New Track: Max Gowan’s “My Kind”

Written by Sarah Ross

“My Kind”, the first single off of Max Gowan’s upcoming album Last Companion, is a rich experience worthy of more than a curious stream. If this single is an indicator of the album as a whole, we are in good hands.The melody evokes the same emotions as the lyrics by themselves, striking somewhere between well-wishing and melancholy while resolving into a glimmer of hope.

Gowan’s vocals are soft yet meaningful. They feel poised, coming from the back of your throat as you say something earnest and personal. He works with the instruments rather than on top of them, letting each flow into its own soft rhythm as you walk through reminiscing on last year, being tired of oneself and trying to hold on.


Max Gowan

“My Kind” ebbs and flows between bright riffs and mellow moments balanced by soft backing vocals. This balance is in part thanks to the vocals of Caroline of Infinity Crush, whose feature verse and higher timbre fit delicately into Gowan’s sound. Her verse also brings us to the lyrical second person as she sings “now you’ve got a hold on me.” It’s pleasantly unclear who the “you” is; “you” can be directed towards the other voice or towards another person or thought altogether.

A good song tells you a story, whether lyrically, melodically or rhythmically, that is both identifiable as its own and yet relatable enough for you to immerse yourself in it. “My Kind” does not ask anything of you but rather pours a bittersweet, needed reminder of the everyday beauty of small talk and life’s ups and downs. 

Suffice to say, times like these can throw us for a loop. “My Kind”’s exploration of feeling down offers a sound that can perhaps serve as the next step in our emotional cycles. At the end of the day, no matter how I’m feeling, I want to move beyond pleasantries and extend a hopefully sincere “I’m doing fine, sending wishes back to you and your kind”.


You can stream “My Kind” below:


“My Kind” is out now on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music. The full album will be released June 5 via Z Tapes and is available to pre-order on digital and cassette now.


Sarah Ross is a freelance writer, editor at the Rival American and rising second semester senior at American University.

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 Premiere/Review: Dead Friends’ ‘Shirley’

Album Premiere/Review: Dead Friends’ ‘Shirley’

Dead Friends


(Wallflower Records)

Today, we’re excited to premiere the new LP from Edmonton rock band Dead Friends, Shirley.

The sound of Dead Friends is not one so far removed from the likes of many popular modern garage rock acts such as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and The Growlers, but it’s also not one that you’d find quite as often from their home country of Canada. The distance removed from larger scene centerpoints such as California lends the band a broader perspective than many of their contemporaries on their newest album Shirley, one that blends the usual suspects of the day with surprising touches that call back to darker, dangerous acts.


dead friends
Dead Friends (left to right: Jesse Ladd, Brian Musilek, Callum Harvey, Carter Mackie and Ellen Reade)

When it comes to more prolific genres of music, such as psych-garage-with-a-country-tinge, the devil is all in the details. One of the most striking on Shirley are the vocals, which may be one of the best identifiers for where Dead Friends land on the spectrum of this scale of bands: nearly all of it. When talking about lead single “Molly” in February, we mentioned Ben Wallers as a reference point while discussing the deep drunken drawl on display, but following the isolated bass soon joined by blaring organ and cacophonous percussion on opener “Honey Darts”, the energy and hookiness are more reminscient of early Cage the Elephant if layered in an extra cloak of shadow and an addtional layer of grit.

A fluctuation and melding between and of more widely popular and radio-ready rock music and black, exhausted cynicism is the story of Shirley. The following track, “Ennio’s Desert Dessert”, is similarly poised to easily catch ears, but proves more adventerous over the course of its runtime, starting with a doo-wop style melody and leading out with surf guitars. “Uncle Is an Eremite” is the song that sounds most like Shirley‘s cover art: a hazy Spagetthi western with electric-acoustic interplay, while single “Joy” is likely the heaviest track on the album, a chaotic swirling mass on the cusp of rampage that in its most manic moments reminds of The Gun Club. The second half of the album settles into more of a tradional pattern in the three song stretch of “1912”, “Campfire”, and “Wells” that earns the band’s most common RIYLs, but these tracks are bookended by two more deviations in the striking organ punk of “On the Mend” and closer “Dandelion Blues”, a stripped down acoustic blues piece that ends the album on a quiet, satisfying note.

Shirley is at its best when it’s trying new things, and Dead Friends manage to keep it fresh and engaging for the large majority of its duration. It’s easy to be exhausted by the sheer volume garage rock in the 21st century, but Dead Friends prove to be one of the handful of acts that make digging in the mines to find precious gold worthwhile.


You can stream Shirley in its entirety below:


Favorite tracks: “Uncle Is an Eremite”, “Molly”


Rating: Recommended


‘Shirley’ is out tomorrow, May 1st, via Wallflower Records. Be sure to follow Dead Friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Bandcamp to keep up-to-date on the release and future work.

EP Premiere: Plum Anderson & The Varunas’ ‘Jetplane 76’

EP Premiere: Plum Anderson & The Varunas’ ‘Jetplane 76’

Today, we’re thrilled to premiere an exclusive version of the collaborative split EP between synth jazz act Plum Anderson and psychedelic soul band The Varunas: Jetplane 76.



A loosely conceptual project based around the idea of being on a jet in the ’70s, Jetplane 76 is mentioned as being particularly indebted and in homage to ’70s soul music. Kicking things off with Plum Anderson’s “Losing Touch” makes it immediately apparent the swathe of influence is broader than simply that, featuring vocals with an affectation similar to British synthpop bands of the era and synth work that recalls the spirit of older soul music, but in form exists as something closer to 2010s synthwave. The Varunas’ side, including “Finer Things” from our own Banders compilation, is a bit easier to directly relate to the soul aspect of the concept, though each track on Jetplane 76 is collaborative to an extent and as such occupies space in a bizarre rift between the work of Curtis Mayfield, Fly Cruziero, and Neon Indian’s VEGA INTL. Night School, performed with the balance between earnest love and playful teasing of a Ween album: a far more compelling blend than even the artists might give themselves credit for. Our version of the EP here also includes two exclusive remixes, as The Varunas re-imagine Plum Anderson’s “Where Did Our Love Go?” as “sunshine tropicalia”, while Plum Anderson conversely takes “She’s My Nancy” and molds it into nightcore. Both are pretty weird, and we like weird a whole lot here.


You can stream Jetplane 76 in its entirety below:


You can also check out some wild ads for the project:



‘Jetplane 76’ is out now and as of this moment is a SoundCloud only release. Be sure to follow Plum Anderson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and The Varunas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date with their projects. Plum Anderson and The Varunas will be doing a livestream tomorrow for a release show, and have a contest to join the virtual Plum/Varunas smoking circle to whoever can smoke the most joints during one song. 

Tape Review: ‘AR001 Compilation Vol​. 1’

Tape Review: ‘AR001 Compilation Vol​. 1’

Various Artists

AR001 Compilation Vol​.​ 1

(Autolysis Records)

Jacksonville, Florida-based record label, blog, and podcast Autolysis Records put out their first sampler in February of this year, showcasing songs from the label’s current roster. It is their first physical release, limited to a run of seven copies. The unique approach of Autolysis is evident upon unboxing the tape, which is unmistakably hand-painted. So is each J-card. While many of the songs on this compilation can be found elsewhere in their catalog, the sampler works wonderfully as a standalone or as a quick introduction to the artists and styles found on the label’s releases.

“Drift”, an IDM cut from Plastic Spirit, opens the album. The track is punctuated by its deep, resonant kicks, and hard-hitting snare, the two of which beat out urgent, unpredictable rhythms that rise and fall in speed and intensity throughout. An evolving and mutating ambience builds around the twinkling of electric piano and the wah-like swellings of a resonant synth pattern.

Legal Threat’s first contribution here is an atmospheric standout , beginning with a loop of mechanical noise that builds into a stark  and dissonant soundtrack to the claustrophobic horrors of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”. A wonderful sense of space is achieved as a warbling, metallic clamor moves around the mix, ringing and reverberating like so many bells. With the foreboding title of “Subsidized Sunrise”, this piece rings out with otherworldly layers of noise and church-bell tolling and tintinnabulation before making its way gradually into a mystical and transformative out-come. This track comes from their 2020 EP Froon, released on Autolysis.

Legal Threat returns later on with “Someday”, a track in a totally different vein, taking the airy vocal samples of trip-hop and nu-jazz and pairing them with Kid606-esque breakbeat stutters. Sparse piano chords fill out the melody as the mix rises in action around a more straight forward Amen-break that is reworked into a frenzy before pulling back to give attention to a singular vocal sample.

Unkool Scam contributes two tracks to this tape, the first of which is a collaboration with Chaos Studio. A slow moving, enveloping down-tempo banger, “Into The Mist” builds up from a fuzzy intro into a head-nodding , laid-back groove, but is never predictable or short on lavish atmosphere. Spacey melodies weave in and out of the mix. A stop-start pacing and frequent breaks give time for the underlying orchestration to sink in before returning to the main beat. On the second half of the tape, the slow-mounting “If Only You Could See What I See Through Your Eyes” builds up over four minutes with a steadily throbbing kick and reversed snare beating behind dusty, haunted keyboards.

More than just an outlet for DnB, techno and some of the more progressive and genre-bending variants of electronic music, Autolysis is home to alternative rock outsider-artist Steye, whose contributions bring riff-driven song-writing and effect-drenched, live vocals to the table. The fuzzy riffing that drives Steye’s “Latch 5” gives way to an experimental vocal bombardment, evocative of The Butthole Surfers’ early “Gibby-tronic” vocal effects and contemporaries Ween’s use of pitch shifting. The speed and intensity of punk and alt-metal are to be found, with organs beating out chaotic tangents alongside spastic, effervescent synth squelches like you might hear on a track from Detroit’s Whirlwind Heat. Both of Steye’s offerings come from a self-titled EP from this year.

Built largely around the work of four artists, Compilation Vol. 1 is an instantly likable, varied sampler that explores the lines between lo-fi techno and instrumental hip-hop, idiosyncratic electronica, ambient, and experimental rock. It’s an appealing cassette in its unique design, an inviting introduction to the artists on Autolysis, and a memorably track-listed listen.


Favorite tracks: Legal Threat – “Subsidized Sunrise”, Unkool Scam – “Into The Mist feat. Chaos Studio”


Rating: Strongly Recommended


Dharnyk is an alternative rock and grunge enthusiast living in Louisiana and occasionally performing electronic music as Pink and Yellow.

Video Premiere: The Lice’s “Blank Tape on the Radio”

Video Premiere: The Lice’s “Blank Tape on the Radio”

Today, we’re thrilled to share the music video for “Blank Tape on the Radio”, the Banders single from COUNTERZINE favorites The Lice.


the lice
The Lice (photo credit: Hali Espinoza)

Long Beach “shitgazers” The Lice quickly followed up their April 1st album Hoarder House UFO (check our premiere of single “Serial Killer”) with another new track in “Blank Tape on the Radio”, a feature song on our very own Banders compilation. “Blank Tape on the Radio” is characteristically moody and minimalist with its dark bassline and cold percussive rhythms, but these rhythms are more immediate than ever. “Blank Tape” is about as ‘pop’ as The Lice get, which is far from a knock on the track: as compelling as their more odd material is, it’s nice to hear them flex the purity of their songwriting. The song seems to allude to a failing relationship of one sort or another, with lyrics such as “The chemistry’s all gone / Same old song / Bang your head against the wall / Knock it down” referring to the struggle to push back against communication issues, the following hook “At least I hear your voice / Blank tape on the radio” insinuating that the band may hear perfectly fine: the other party simply isn’t saying anything.

The video, like the one for “Serial Killer”, is made up of low-quality black-and-white footage. Rather than skating, however, it consists of slightly unsettling footage of a few men developing photos which reveal themselves to be of what we imagine as ancient man.


You can watch the video for “Blank Tape on the Radio” below:


You can also check out the band’s recent LP Hoarder House UFO:


You can stream and purchase The Lice’s “Blank Tape on the Radio” and the rest of ‘Banders’ here, stream and purchase ‘Hoarder House UFO’ here, and be sure to keep up with The Lice by following them on Instagram and Bandcamp.