Tape Review: Sir Babygirl’s “Crush on Me”


Sir Babygirl

Crush on Me

(Father/Daughter Records)

Hanover’s renaissance bi Kelsie Hogue has shifted professional creative focus several times over, from theater to hardcore bubblegum music to comedy, and now, electropop with Sir Babygirl. While this career trajectory may imply a lack of focus that does occasionally show itself on her debut album Crush on Me in the self-indulgent reprisals and outro, for the six ‘main’ songs, her wealth of diverse artistic experiences inform each other to craft brilliant sing-into-your-hairdryer-in-front-of-the-mirror pop with captivating dramatic flair and playful self-deprecating humor.

Crush on Me sounds a lot like the soundtrack to an imagined ’90s teen movie, and as much as it recalls turn-of-the-century radio pop (Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera are listed as influences), one gets the sense that records such as Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville and Team Dresch’s Personal Best may have also played a role in forming the unapologetic DIY queer pop princess that is Sir Babygirl. Most of the songs’ lyrics involve Hogue poking fun at herself as a veiled expression of her hurt (a hangover from her work as a comedienne) and involve dating struggles, party anxiety, being a bad friend, and relationship difficulties in general. Vocally, she teeters back-and-forth between art pop and emo/pop punk: the rising, layered self-harmonies on “Heels” recall Coffman and Deradoorian on Bitte Orca, while songs such as “Everyone Is a Bad Friend” and “Pink Lite” bring to mind Hayley Williams of Paramore fame. The album as a whole is riddled with huge, emotional out-pours of breathy, belting angst and skittering, paranoid electronics, which feeds into the idea of Crush on Me being a conceptual anthology centered around feeling awkward and awful, but still finding a way to love yourself. “Heels”, “Flirting with Her”, “Cheerleader”, “Haunted House”, “Everyone Is a Bad Friend”, and “Pink Lite” make up an incredible set of tunes, each one overflowing with an abundance of personality and infectious melodies.

As great as the core material is, the reprisals of “Flirting with Her” and “Haunted House” disrupt what would otherwise be a steady stream of sticky bubblegum pop bangers. They’re interesting in the sense that they less reprise the songs themselves and more the themes associated with them, and they’re well-produced, but they also feel like padding within the context of such a brief album. Regarding the title-track outro: it’s an outro. It’s not nearly as irritating as the meme-like video version (there are only about ten seconds of dull trap beat, siren synths, and high-pitched, repetitive vocals before transforming into something far more likable, as opposed to the full track), and the message of self-love is nice, but it’s still rather under-cooked. These only make up about four minutes of Crush on Me though, and are nowhere near egregious enough to derail it.

Crush on Me isn’t spotless as is and knowing how close it would be as a six song EP is a bit frustrating, but what’s a compelling pop artist if not flawed and a bit frustrating? Sir Babygirl is assuredly compelling, at her best creating hyper-addictive, funny, and emotionally honest modern electropop that’s unlikely to be topped by anything in its lane this year, and she’s at her best far more often than not. If you want to make a theoretical stretch, you could even make the argument that Crush on Me’s diversionary reprises and outro are important in their own peculiar way. Considering the thematic through-line of not simply accepting, but loving your imperfections and reveling in being a bit of a hot mess, perhaps such seemingly unnecessary missteps are in fact very necessary in painting the portrait of Sir Babygirl. Whether you subscribe to that philosophy or not, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much when you’re in the midst of being enraptured by Hogue’s charm, wit, and affinity for a killer hook.

Not to project too much into the future, but if Hogue does decide to “ride out” her crush on the Sir Babygirl project instead of taking up Yu-Gi-Oh! or canoeing, big things are in store.


Favorite tracks: “Haunted House”, “Cheerleader”



Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can purchase Sir Babygirl’s Crush on Me here.

Tape Review: “Splixtape”


Various Artists


(Hypnic Jerk)

Splixtape is one of an opening trio of tapes from new Alabama label Hypnic Jerk, featuring the talents of psychedelic soundscape artists Prana Crafter, ragenap, Tarotplane, and Horse Apples.

The A-side belongs to Prana Crafter and ragenap. If you follow independent psychedelic music, Prana Crafter’s attachment to this project is likely to be the first thing to stand out about Splixtape. Having swelled up a decent cult following the release of Bohdi Cheetah’s Choice and Enter the Stream last year, he stands as the ‘big name’ here and turns in a couple of predictably great tracks in “Creek Born Mind” and “Daydream in the Arvo Sun (Vision of Captain Trips Cruisin’ Shotgun in Sun Ra’s Ship)”. “Creek Born Mind” has floated around for a while since 2016 as a single and in 2017 as an inclusion on the For the Love of Chris Tressler digital compilation, finding a home on Splixtape nearly three years later. Its age has done nothing to wear on its atmospheric beauty: balancing reverb-soaked electric and acoustic guitar work against each other, awash in ethereal ambiance and the sounds of a running creek, it induces a peaceful, meditative high. “Daydream in the Arvo Sun (Vision of Captain Trips Cruisin’ Shotgun in Sun Ra’s Ship)” plays with many of the same elements, but is a looser, more overtly experimental piece, particularly when morphing into a off-kilter organ solo around the four minute mark which brings to mind an acid trip at a carnival.

ragenap is Joel Berk of sweetblahg, but this project itself is a bit of a mystery. However, that doesn’t preclude him from having what might just be the best track on Splixtape, “mag-nette drags thru”. It opens with warm, relaxed post-punk guitar, intermittently punctuated by twinkling synths before building into an ambient/post-rock piece, and then further mutating into Eastern-flavored psychedelia.

On the flip-side, Tarotplane and Horse Apples contribute a couple of spacey ambient works in “The Hallelujah Rain, Or Sky Mountain & Masking Tape in Endless Agreement” and “A, C, A, C, A, C, A, C, B (x4)” respectively. Tarotplane’s track aims straight for the stratosphere with its wild guitar solo emerging from the clouds like a rocket towards the end of its runtime, while Horse Apples’ replicates the effects of a fistful of mood stabilizers: gentle, steady, and precise.

Perhaps even more striking than the individual allure of each track is how well they all play off of each other, remaining distinct while still forming a cohesive whole that’s rare regarding four-way splits. They feel a bit like scores to scenes from the same film.

Splixtape hits on just about every note a compilation should hope to, introducing the listener to new artists (in the case of ragenap, in the truest sense: I can’t find any other music under the moniker), working as an introductory overview of the types of sounds you can expect from label Hypnic Jerk, all the while coalescing into a release you could easily mistake for collaboration rather than compilation, achieving uncommon sonic unity. A great tape for those looking to take a sprawling, drug-induced walkabout through the forests and the skies.


Favorite tracks: “Creek Born Mind”, “mag-nette drags thru”



Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can purchase Splixtape here.

Tape Review: Curling’s “Definitely Band”



Definitely Band

(Copper Mouth Records)

In 1991, Spin notably flew in the face of conventional wisdom when they named Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque as their album of the year, over perhaps the most culturally impactful album of the entire decade, Nirvana’s Nevermind. The decision was met with confusion: Nevermind was the sound of the future, the catalyst for massive overhaul in the landscape of popular music. Bandwagonesque? Sure, it was a great record, but it certainly didn’t set the musical world ablaze. We’re talking about a 27 year old album that peaked at #137 and to this day has yet to receive a gold certification being named as the best of the entire year by one of the biggest music publications of the time, over Neverfuckingmind by Nirfuckingvana. Bandwagonesque was affectionately referred to as Big Star’s 4th by the press of the time, which is something of an implicative double-edged sword.

What does this all have to do with Curling’s Definitely Band? Well, if Bandwagoneque is 4th, you can call Definitely Band Big Star’s 5th (alongside being so much more), and what Spin said about Bandwagonesque for 1991 applies to Definitely Band for 2018: this is the best album of its year.

If you’re to believe all things come in cycles and Bandwagonesque is the reincarnation of the mostly straight-forward #1 Record, then Definitely Band would most closely resemble Radio City: adventurous and quirk-riddled, simultaneously half-broken and flawless. Keyboards are warped to sound nearly like flutes (“Flutter”), perfect pop songs dissipate halfway through their life cycles and re-emerge as saxophone solos lightly decorated with twinkling guitar notes (“Bloom”), and “Four” (only “Four”) is sung entirely in Japanese for no real discernible reason aside from the band feeling like it.

This could all wind up sounding unfocused, and on a surface level it may seem that way, but that’s the point. Definitely Band is a melting pot of influences and a celebration of every great pop band of the past fifty plus years. Big Star might be the most immediately apparent, but while Bernie Gelman’s vocal tone and delivery in particular are frequently dead-ringers for Chilton’s own sweet, evocative croon (check “Pleasure”‘s downtrodden, echo chamber acoustic open and give yourself goosebumps as you attempt to rationalize that he has not been taken over by the departed) and they possess an equally brilliant sense of melody, Curling pick ingredients from the creative gardens of The Beach Boys (reverb, baroque instrumentation, heart-swelling melancholy), My Bloody Valentine (hushed, oft-obscured vocals buried under walls of sugary guitar fuzz), Television (complex Verlaine-esque riffs, rhythms, and structures), and many more to create a distinctive cocktail potent enough to knock you flat. Definitely Band sounds like everything before it and nothing before it, all at once.

Definitely Band is also very much anachronistic. The entire album was mixed and mastered in mono, an unorthodox choice ever since the early ’70s (even Big Star’s catalog only features one song in mono: Radio City‘s “O My Soul”), which aids in evoking a nostalgic warmth that gives it the feel of a record from that period (though it would be artistically impossible back then). Nostalgia is a huge thematic force throughout the album, both musically and lyrically. While the tones, effects, and compositions show a clear appreciation for music’s history, the lyrics also seem to focus on the idea of achieving enlightenment and self-actualization through observation of the past, and using that knowledge to build something new. Curling never truly pine for days gone by, but deeply understand their role in the formation of the days to come. It all matches up exceedingly well.

To a power pop fan in the 2010’s, Definitely Band feels like everything, because it manages to be everything within the span of 34 minutes. The past, the present, the future. New, fresh vegetation given vibrant life by the soil of the dead. Persistently idiosyncratic without ever sacrificing an ounce of emotional resonance or melodic infectiousness. Pop rock’s to-date ‘final form’. Is this the sound of the future? It should be. Turn your 1991 Spin quizzical faces this way:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” – Definitely Band


Favorite tracks: (All of them but especially) “Radio King”, “Flutter”, “Bloom”, “Mallow”





Rating: Masterpiece


You can purchase Curling’s Definitely Band here.

Tape Review: Pink Midnight’s “R​-​DA​-​Epoch”


Pink Midnight


(Misophonia Records)

Considering the story behind Pink Midnight’s debut effort, it should come as no surprise that it’s a draining listening experience both emotionally as well as physically. Chronicling Lee Wade’s fight with lymphoma (from symptomatic all the way to remission), R-DA-Epoch represents the physiological and psychological toll taken when your body turns against itself and your only recourses are radiation, will, and hope.

Walls of droning dark ambient stretch and twist the innards to symbolically replicate Wade’s nausea, ebbing and flowing through periods of bilious dulled tones and harsh, violent bouts of agonous noise, while high-pitched, arrhythmic electronics loop, subtly shifting in pitch and pattern to portray anxiety (in a more literal sense, it likely represents a hospital heart monitor). While drenched in sick sweat and riddled with infection, cramped by claustrophobia and shrouded in paranoia, there’s a notable liveliness and fighting spirit that quietly peeks through the viscous muck of discomfort, pain, and fear. R-DA-Epoch‘s cover art looks as though it were ripped straight from a comic book or manga, and in a true-to-life way, this is a classic tale of ‘superhero vs. supervillian’, where after a long, arduous battle, the hero stands triumphant after kicking the villain’s ass and sending them packing with their tail tucked between their legs.

R-DA-Epoch is not the easiest thing to sit through, which is a credit to the project. It effectively translates one of the most terrifying situations a person might find themselves in: being rough itself comes right along with that. However, while it may not be pleasant in the traditional sense of the word, it is a palpable work of art that is very easy to hold in high esteem for its ability to suck you into that hospital with Wade and, eventually, come out the other end with a greater appreciation for health, life, and music.


Favorite tracks: “Heart Scan and Chest X-Ray”, “Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma”



Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can purchase Pink Midnight’s R-DA-Epoch here.

Tape Review: HAWN’s “For a Ride”



For a Ride

(Strategic Tape Reserve)

The Coen brothers are visited by the ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Camus, and Alan Vega. Hunter says to the boys, “Hey, let’s go for a ride”. Albert says, “Why not? Maybe stuff will happen”. Alan says, “We can make some spooky weird bleep-bloop music about it”.

They hop into the ’71 Eldorado in the dead of night, loaded up with mescaline pellets, and embark on a road trip through small town America. The people and happenings are twisted, absurd, and ordinary. They can’t tell what’s the mescaline and what’s reality. It’s all the same. Reality is what you perceive it to be. Morning never comes. It just gets darker, and warps further, until their minds, the crux of the very universe, are slowly eroded by the psychotropics, or the digital apocalypse, or the small, pointless, heartbreaking interactions between people.

HAWN’s For a Ride sounds like this, and more to the point, electronic Americana where the face of America is melting away and all that’s left is the raw code. John Craun’s layered synth soundscapes blur the lines between glitch pop and no wave, while Micheal Jeffrey Lee’s sung-spoken falsetto vocals work desperately to wring emotion out of lyrics written like prose from The Stranger: cold, blunt, slightly cryptic philosophical observations, mostly pertaining to mortality. You’ll find the reading of wills, the discovery of decapitated bodies, narrations from cadavers, conversations with men who wished they’d spent their time differently, etc. The surreal and mundane bleed into each other until they’re completely indistinguishable.

For a Ride is deeply unsettling, much in the way No Country For Old Men or Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” is. It’s also deeply fascinating and deeply addicting. Craun’s production is pristine, Jeffrey Lee’s folktales are haunting, and together they make for an incredibly powerful anthology of narratives and scores that peel back the flesh of humanity and parse through the zeroes and ones that make us tick.


Favorite tracks: “Still Above the Ground”, “King”, “Cody Matthews”




Rating: Essential


You can purchase HAWN’s For a Ride here.

Tape Review: Whettman Chelmets’ “Giant Eyes & Infant Steps”


Whettman Chelmets

Giant Eyes & Infant Steps

(Girly Girl Musik)

The first tape of 2019 from prolific and versatile Joplin instrumentalist Whettman Chelmets, Giant Eyes and Infant Steps, is a gentle autobiographical concept EP soundtracking the early moments of parenthood, most notably the muddled mishmash of emotions and states one experiences, including exhaustion, confusion, fear, and joy. It’s a complex balance to capture, but it’s struck well between its soft ambient/drone synth swathes pulling you towards rest, and weary, echoing post-rock guitar melodies quietly piercing through the clouds to stir you from a half-sleep (particularly notable on “TFW It’s 4:00 A.M. and You’ve Already Been Up 3 Times”). In contrast to the yin/yang harshness of Whettman Chelmets’ previous two tapes (the crushing industrial nihilism of Annihilate Your Masters and the blindingly hopeful shoegaze radiance of Alas… The Sun Is Shining, and You Are Still Alive), Giant Eyes and Infant Steps is generally more tonally subdued and intimate, allowing its compositions plenty of room to breathe unobstructed by walls of sound. Much of the EP could be categorized as the sounds of insomnia-induced delirium, which helps to accentuate closing track “She Says Dada”, a bright, bubbling, euphoric electronic piece (complete with baby talk samples) representing the moment your child first verbally acknowledges you, the priceless reward for stumbling and pushing through those sleepless nights.

Trippy, yet comforting and personal, Giant Eyes and Infant Steps is a transportive tape brimming with bewilderment and wonder, absorbing you into its snapshot scores of dropped pacifiers and first steps. Depending on your own life experiences, the melding of moods evoked will either come across as all too familiar or completely alien, but regardless, they’ll be recognized as beautiful and a little scary: just like parenting.


Favorite tracks: “She Says Dada”, “TFW It’s 4:00 A.M. and You’ve Already Been Up 3 Times”



Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can purchase Whettman Chelmets’ Giant Eyes and Infant Steps here.

Tape Review: Period Bomb’s “Lost and Found”


Period Bomb

Lost and Found

(Already Dead Tapes & Records)

Period Bomb’s Lost and Found is a demo tape, except it’s not. Everything is rough, odd, almost skit-like, and yet fits together perfectly in a fully realized form, much like a patchwork quilt (perhaps battered with a few unseemly stains on it). Whether by design or not, you could call it a loose concept album about demos, much like The Residents’ Commercial Album is a loose concept album about pop music.

There are no perfect comparisons that can be made between Lost and Found and other albums, but Commercial Album is better than many. Much in the way that album took the core structural ‘requirements’ for radio-friendly music and warped them into a near unrecognizable form, Lost and Found takes the vague defining characteristics of demos and warps them into almost the opposite: while a demo is often an under-cooked sales pitch for what could be, this is an over-cooked statement on what will never be. Artistically, nothing feels ‘demo’ about this, it’s simply the form it takes. Voicemails about period blood and smelly vans, brief musical thoughts cut off before they’re allowed to meander too long, clips of the band literally ‘taking the piss’, weirdo superstar cameos from R. Stevie Moore and Ariel Pink, as well as a handful of more ‘fully formed’ art punk tracks such as “222” and “Rot w/ U”, all work together to conceptually encapsulate the iconoclastic D.I.Y. ethic. Lost and Found as a title may represent the idea that these recordings didn’t have a home, but now have found a home in each other. On a deeper level, however, thinking about the lost and found, it’s where misfits are put in a box. When you sort through the lost and found, you’re unboxing these misfits. In this case, misfit ideas. In that sense, Lost and Found serves as an unboxing of the ideas some might restrict or dilute, in the hopes that you’ll find something interesting and well-loved to take home and to heart.

It’s not an immediate listen: there’s a lot to sift through and the traditional sense of polish is not to be found here. If you’re willing to put in the work, however, look past the scuffs and dirt (or better yet, appreciate and embrace them), there’s a treasure trove of cool stuff to be unearthed.


Favorite tracks: “Status Quo”, “Rot w/ U”



Rating: Strongly Recommended


You can purchase Period Bomb’s Lost and Found here.

Tape Review: Slush’s “Birthday Breakfast 2001”



Birthday Breakfast 2001

(Personal Militia Records)

Among the several definitions for the word ‘slush’, several words stick out between them: melted, mud, grease, trashy. So it’s fitting that Wisconsin’s Slush serves as something of a melting pot, an amorphous, stinking punk stew comprised of the weirdest and crudest elements of the weirdest and crudest alternative bands spanning from the late ’80s to the early ’00s. It takes a special band to make the moronic stimulating, and Birthday Breakfast 2001 sure is evidence of Slush being ‘special’.

You’d have a hard time pinning down Slush’s sound to that of just one band, but a handful that come to mind include NoMeansNo, Butthole Surfers, The Dead Milkmen, Primus, and Ween: technically proficient and creatively ambitious bands who filter their talents through a lens of absurdity and indecency, partly to ward off snobs, partly in the spirit of art imitating life (and vice versa) and that meaning that art should be a bit bizarre, chaotic, unrefined, and maybe even not all that ‘important’. “Star Wars” is a vicious and vitriolic rant about the series’ prequels being underrated when compared to the overrated sequels, complete with funk transition. Elsewhere, you’ll find songs about drinking bugs, throwing up on boats, looking for lost dogs, and more than one involving feet. Birthday Breakfast 2001 more or less loosely stays within a framework of wacky experimental hardcore garage punk, but there are also two more laid back electronic interludes in “Papa Murphy’s Pizza” and “Dads”, the latter perhaps being the funniest track on the album as the band members’ fathers introduce themselves over a floating, ambient, elevator music-like composition (“I’m Tom, I’m Stone’s dad, and I live a life of microaggressions”).

Birthday Breakfast 2001 is an excellent example of when not taking yourself overly seriously does nothing but work in your favor and aid in your ability to be creative. As silly as it is, it certainly can’t be called lazy, and there’s a constant sense of anticipation and unpredictability as you listen throughout the album’s brief run-time. It almost feels like Slush have no idea where they’re going next, so how could you possibly know? It may not be the most textbook ‘important’ album to come out this year, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more fun and inventive punk record, and that’s pretty important.


Favorite tracks: “Toe Biter”, “Star Wars”, “Oh Where Oh Where Has My Dog Gone”




Rating: Essential


You can purchase Slush’s Birthday Breakfast 2001 here.

Tape Review: Newagehillbilly’s “Amulet”




(Sara Laughs)

The latest tape from Baltimore noise/electronic/experimental veteran Newagehillbilly is a terrifying twenty minute tapestry of textures formed from mangled and magnified chunks of distorted tape vore, cybernetic infections, haunted static, and blown-out, brain-juicing feedback, forming the Four Horsemen of the Amulet Apocalypse. While assuredly harsh, Amulet is less concerned with alienating listeners with sheer volume and pitch and more interested in crafting a horrific, yet engrossing atmosphere via dynamic composition: Amulet is never ‘quiet’, but it’s not afraid to become ‘quieter’ to manipulate the listeners into slowly and unwittingly dropping their guard in order to enhance the impact of its most powerful and cacophonous outbursts, and there’s a great amount of push-and-pull among its elements, behaving much like a demon attempting to escape a cursed object by means of various different tactics, efficiently testing formulated ratios of auditory violence until the seal relents at the perfect one and the fiend is free to wreak havoc in the open. By the end of “Amuleto”, the goal appears to have been achieved, as the first and only words of the tape are heard, then swiftly washed over and swallowed up by evil before the world fades to oblivion.

As daunting as that all may sound, Amulet is versatile, evocative, immersive, and again, by genre standards, palatable. If harsh noise is not something you’re accustomed to, you could pick worse places to start, and if it is, there’s plenty here to sink into and appreciate.


Favorite track: Release should be experienced as one whole piece


Rating: Recommended


You can purchase/download Newagehillbilly’s Amulet here or here.

Tape Review: Get a Life’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt”


Get a Life

Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt

(Forged Artifacts)

Despite the title, Get a Life’s Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt does not present itself as a work of traditionally lofty ambition, and Chase DeMaster certainly doesn’t present himself as a model savior of independent rock music. If anything, he presents himself as a bit of a fuck up, botching chords and lyrics, espousing the merits of unemployment and frivolous spending, and playfully splashing about in the waters of stagnation, disillusionment, and isolation. If that doesn’t sound ‘polished’ or ‘mature’, that’s because it’s not. What it is though is honest. Relatable. Normal. Human. Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt proudly displays its flaws like merits badges in a way artists, and people in general, are often terrified to do, especially when these flaws might seem too mundane to explore with great depth. Get a Life revels in the mundane, the dull, day-to-day struggle to make your life worth living not according to anyone else, but solely to yourself, and is absolutely thrilling because of it. It feels like a beautiful accident, a perfect storm, a microcosm of the ordinary, quiet hopelessness of modern American life and an absurdist laugh and shrug in the face of it all.

A healthy dose of ADD-riddled slacker savant pop genius certainly doesn’t hurt its cause either.

Opener “Get a Job” sets the tone for the tape and serves somewhat as the ‘Get a Life theme song’, a anthemic march in opposition to ‘getting a life’. Chords awkwardly buzz, warp, and rattle as if emitted from a oft-used toy (exactly how DeMaster sees his guitar), as DeMaster shouts the rally cry “I’M GOING NOWHERE FAST / HIT ME UP IF YOU NEED A RIDE”, inviting listeners to join him in attempt to abandon the stresses involved in feeling like you constantly need to move forward on tracks you don’t really want to be on. The next song “2050”, imagines him thirty years in the future after having worked within the confines of modern American capitalist industry: ideas and plans that never reach fruition, money slowly accruing interest in a bank account that you never spend because if you do, you stop accruing interest and you need it for when your owners lose use for you, etc. First World Problems, but real problems, the things that help ensure security but stifle hopes and dreams, the enjoyment of life, the whole ‘point’ of life to begin with.

“What You Deserve” and “All Fun No Gum” really bring to the forefront a lazy, but apt comparison that could be made between Get a Life and The Strokes. DeMaster’s vocals sound eerily similar to Julian Casablancas on these tracks, minus the need to try to sound ‘cool’. The Strokes were also never quite so fucking loud as Get a Life is on “What You Deserve”, an absolutely massive noise rock banger and ode to spending what you have (and what you don’t) while you’re still able to enjoy it and haven’t completely wasted away yet. “All Fun No Gum” is a sad, but ultimately hopeful tale of DeMaster looking back on childhood and the lie we’re told as kids: that we can be anything we want to be. The song compares identities to costumes, pointing out that not everyone can even afford to dress up as who they’d like to be, let alone actually be who they’d like to be. The hope comes in the acceptance of this: letting go and allowing yourself to just be ‘you’, no matter if the world might find ‘you’ weird or unspectacular. The A-side closes on “Slow Me Down”, a track about persevering through hardships where DeMaster makes it clear that his faults and emotional wounds will never heal or go away, but he’ll live on not in spite of them, but because of them (“Don’t I look good with this limp?”).

On the B-side, we open with “2 Plus 2 Equals 5”, a joyful, spastic jamboree crammed with memorable melody after memorable melody, adorned with spirited piano garnish and initially jarring, seemingly tangentially shifts that smartly loop their way back into cohesion. “Here Comes the Fun” is a bright, chiming jangle number that manages to call back to the clothes motif established in “All Fun No Gum”, with a section about DeMaster selling his shirts to an Australian on Etsy and joking about how the new owner gets to have his fun now. What follows is probably the most whacked out track on the album, “Spotless”. It alternates between bouncy, cutesy indietronica style passages that transform into gigantic, heavy, doom and drone form waves of noise, electronics, and modulated vocals, symbolizing the ups and downs of DeMaster’s relationship with his girlfriend.

Then we have “Dungeon”:

There are not adequate words to express just how plainly and profoundly ethereal and devastating this song is. It’s a swirling, floating, ungraspable cloud of sound and emotion written simply, almost vaguely and with multiple meanings, so as to work like a Rorschach. It hurts though. Every variation hurts. It sounds like losing people you care about to me, at least mostly. It still feels like there’s more there.

Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt is messy, confused, and deeply personal in a way not heard in indie rock since Twin Fantasy. What makes this all the more remarkable is that even more so than that record, this feels like lightning in a bottle, brilliance via moments of unfiltered simplicity and purity. Each song here was written and recorded in a day each, not to be fussed with, leaving all of its wonderful quirks and foibles intact. Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt is not a masterpiece by design.

Nonetheless, it is.


Favorite tracks: (All of them, but especially) “Get a Job”, “All Fun No Gum”, “2 Plus 2 Equals 5”, “Dungeon”



Rating: Masterpiece


You can purchase Get a Life’s Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt here or here.