Category: women who kick ass

New Video: Rising Punk Act Kills Birds Releases an Uneasy and Furious Ripper

Rapidly rising Los Angeles-based punk act Kills Birds — currently founding members Nina Ljeti (vocals) and Jacob Loeb (guitar) with Fielder Thomas (bass) — was founded back in 2017 as a sort of secret musical side project for the band’s Ljeti and Loeb. The project evolved into a full-fledged band with the addition of Thomas. And since then, the members of Kills Birds have received attention locally and elsewhere for crafting material centered around jagged, post punk-like guitar driven melodies, slow-buying dynamics, and Ljeti’s urgent lyrics and delivery.

Kills Birds’ 2019 self-tiled full-debut, which featured the feral and uneasy “Volcano” was released to praise from the likes of NPR, Nylon, The Fader, The New York Times, Paste Magazine, Chicago Tribune. And they’ve been championed by the likes of Kim Gordon, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, who invited the band to record their forthcoming sophomore album at this Studio 606 — and to join Foo Fighters for their November 10 Mexico City show. (I’m jumping ahead here but the tour also includes a December 14, 2021 stop at Elsewhere’s Zone One. You can check out the rest of those tour dates further below. They’ll also open for Sleigh Bells during their October national tour.)

Since I mentioned it earlier, Kills Birds’ sophomore album Married is slated for a November 12, 2021 release through Royal Mountain Records/KRO Records. Recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, the album is a brutal, intense and deeply personal account of an abusive romantic relationship fueled by struggles with power dynamics. While being deeply personal and cathartic, the album sonically oscillates between quiet and loud dynamics in a way that’s beautiful, aggressive and devastating.

“Rabbit,” Married’s first single is centered around alternating explosively loud sections featuring chugging power chords and thunderous drumming, Ljeti’s howled vocals and quieter sections centered around Ljeti’s hushed whispers. Sonically and thematically, the song evokes the shock, awe, revulsion and shame of a narrator in the middle of a dysfunctional and abusive relationship that has her questioning herself and self-worth. Plus, the recognition that this particular relationship is a defining moment of her life — one of which, every relationship of her life will compare in some way or another. The entire affair is devastating honest and unsettling.

“Lyrically, ‘Rabbit’ is about the experience of being in an abusive relationship with a powerful person,” Kills Birds’ Nina Ljeti explains. “To be with someone who was praised by the public, but hurt you (and others) in private really eviscerates your self-worth. There’s nowhere to turn for help. Like many people who share this experience, this particular relationship defined the majority of my young adulthood, and I’m still dealing with the emotional consequences of it.”

The band’s Jacob Loeb continues, “‘Rabbit” was the first song written for the new album. Despite being one of the harder-hitting songs on the record, it was originally written on an acoustic guitar at Nina’s house. The goal was for the chorus to have an almost disorienting quiet/loud dynamic which really came to life when we plugged in and all practiced it for the first time. We tried to make the chorus start so quietly that the listener feels like something went wrong with their speaker and has to kind of lean in to hear Nina singing before the repetition of “how could I?” abruptly and violently re-enters, startling them and making the emotion visceral.”

een film crew filming the band during a rehearsal take, which also includes someone oqccaiosnally pulling out a light meter. Intimately shot, the visual captures the band’s feral live energy — with Ljeti being an explosive and furious presence. Lteji, who’s an award-winning filmmaker herself says “It’s interesting to be on the other side of the camera for “Rabbit”, especially since the concept of the video involves an unseen crew doing a rehearsal take of our performance. though i had no problem relinquishing control as a performer for Susie (the director) it’s not something i’m really used to anymore. so it’s an exciting challenge.” The entire band adds “For ‘Rabbit’ we wanted to depart from the lo-fi aesthetic of our first record and come back with something that was super vivid, bold and direct. The idea was to capture the raw energy of our live performance, particularly from Nina, in the sterile and stilted setting of a film set, with the camera itself becoming this kind of ominous force that manipulates and distorts what it captures.”

Rising Los Angeles-based coldwave/darkwave/dark synth-riot act Violent Vickie — Vickie (vocals, production) and E (guitar, production) — have released material through a handful of labels including  Crunch PodEmerald & Doreen RecordingsRiot Grrl Berlin and LoveCraft Bar, which the act has supported with tours with Atari Teenage Riot‘s Hanin EliasThe Vanishing‘s Jessie Evans, Trans XThem Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons and others. The duo have also played sets across the US and European festival circuits with stops at Insted FestSolidarity FestShoutback Fest and Gay Prides and Ladyfests. 

Their single “The Wolf” was featured in a National Organization for Women film. Violent Vickie’s Vickie was also interviewed for the documentary GRRL as part of the museum exhibit Alien She. Adding to the band’s growing profile, their album Monster Alley was voted best album by KALX. And if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that their latest album Division, which featured the dark yet dance floor friendly “Circle Square” was released last September.

Since the release of Division, the band has been busy writing and recording material, including their latest single, a Mazzy Star-like take on Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire” centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar and Vickie’s plaintive vocals fed through gentle amounts of reverb. Sonically, the track is a marked departure from the chilly, dark and aggressive coldwave and New Wave-inspired tracks they’re known for, while retaining the longing of the original.

New Video: Fotoform’s Hallucinogenic Visuals for Brooding and Atmospheric “Running”

Deriving their name from a mid-century avant-garde photography movement, Seattle-based post punk outfit Fotoform — longtime collaborators and married couple Kim House (bass, vocals, synths) and Geoffrey Cox (guitar), along with newest member, former Death Cab for Cutie and The Long Winters member Michael Schorr (drums) — can trace their origins back to the formation of a previous project, the dark, goth-adjacent dream pop act C’est la Mort shortly after House and Cox married.

Specializing in what they dubbed “pointy-shoegaze,” C’est la Mort released their full-length debut through their own Dismal Nitch label, as well as various compilation tracks, including a limited split 7 inch with Stars for American Laundromat’s The Smiths’ tribute Please Please Please. After a series of lineup changes, House and Cox re-emerged as Fotoform in late 2016.

ouse and Cox released their Fotoform self-titled debut in 2017. Supported with tours of the West Coast and Europe, the album received airplay and praise both locally and nationally: Album single “I Know You’re Charming” was featured as a KEXP Song of The Day. The self-titled album was voted as one of KEXP Listeners’ Top 90.3 Albums of 2017 and it landed on several year-end lists, including The Big Takeover and Part-Time Punks. Building upon a growing profile, the band followed up with 2018’s Part-Time Punks EP, which was selected as one of The Big Takeover’s EPs of 2018.

Blue,” which was recored for voter outreach and the Christmas-themed “They Say It’s Always Lonely” to benefit local food banks. Both singles found the trio expanding upon their sound with the addition of synths. The trio went into the studio with Evan Foster to record the material for their forthcoming sophomore album Horizons in early 2020. And as a result of pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions, the Horizons sessions resumed a year later with Foster — and with Matt Bayles recording drum parts.

Slated for an October 15, 2021 release, Horizons reportedly finds the band pivoting even further from the towering wall of guitars-based sound of its predecessors towards a much more nuanced sound drawing equally from shoegaze, dream pop and post-punk: Pairing synths with layers of guitars and driving bass, the band’s sound seems indebted to the likes of The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and others.

Horizons’ latest single, the brooding “Running” serves as a taste of what listeners should expect from the new album: atmospheric synths, swirling layers of guitars, driving bass lines, thunderous drumming and soaring hooks paired with House’s ethereal vocals. Essentially, the new single sees the band pairing patient, painterly textures with forceful motorik pulse in a way that makes the song feel — and sound — like a slick mesh of Garlands-era Cocteau Twins and Souvlaki-era Slowdive.

“‘Running’ was the first song we wrote with the new lineup (myself, Geoff, Michael), almost a statement of purpose as we rethought how we approached our sound and writing,” Fotoform’s Kim house recalls in press notes. “With one less guitar we had more space to play with and fill- or intentionally not fill. It was inspiring, and in some ways freeing, to reconstruct and re-envision everything. I’d just started playing around with a drum machine and 16-track at home, and this one was a result of really stripping back everything to the bass and vocals and then building it up from there. 

“At its core ‘Running’ is about peeling back the layers to connect with your innermost self. Summoning the courage, patience and stillness to distill it down and uncover what truly matters, to listen to our hearts and tap into the subconscious,” House says. “It’s about facing fears and insecurities and having the courage to go after what will truly make you happy (or “make your heart happy” as my dad would say), which oftentimes might be in the opposite direction of what we’re running toward, whether in relationships, life paths and choices, etc. The hardest thing sometimes is to look deep within and listen to ourselves, to follow our instincts and face what we may know is true but are too afraid to admit for fear of change, risk, loss, disappointment, or failure.”

House adds, “On a personal level, ‘Running’ was written in the midst of a period of significant change and reflection. I had just left my role as Footwear Design Director at Nordstrom. It was a whirlwind of a job I held for many years – one which required lots of travel in the US and Europe, intense long hours, and barely enough room for other passions or pursuits. It was rewarding, but almost all encompassing.”

The recently released video for “Running” manages to emphasize the brooding and trippy late night vibes of its accompanying song — all while being gorgeously shot and slickly edited.

Besides the new album, the trio — much like the rest of us — is looking forward to getting back to live shows and touring. They’ve also been writing and working on new material, including a split 7 inch with Savage Republic.

New Video: Amyl and the Sniffers Release an Explosive yet Vulnerable Ripper

Acclaimed Melbourne-based punk act Amyl and The Sniffers — Amy Taylor (vocals), Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) — formed back in 2016 and shortly after their formation, they wrote and self-recorded their debut EP Giddy Up. The following year, saw the release of the Big Attractions EP, which was packed as a double 12 inch EP with Giddy Up released through Homeless Records in Australia and Damaged Goods in the UK.

The band exploded into the international scene with a set at The Great Escape Festival, a series of sold out London area shows and a Stateside tour opening for JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. They added to a busy year with a headlining tours across both the UK and US before signing to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless Records for distribution across Australia and New Zealand and Rough Trade for the rest of the world. The year was capped off with a Q Awards nomination for Best New Act and won the $30,000 Levis Prize.

storm, and then promptly released their self-tiled, full-length debut to critical applause globally while further cementing a feral and anarchic take on ’77 era punk. Adding to a breakthrough year, Amyl and the Sniffers won an ARIA Award for Best Rock Album. 

too, Mötorhead and Wendy O. Williams, Warthog, Power Trip, Coloured Balls and Cosmic Psychos. Taylor’s delivery and lyrics were inspired by her love of hip-hop and garage rock.

se with sick green walls. It sucked but it was also nice. We spent heaps of time in the backyard listening to music, thrashing around in shorts, eating hot chips. The boys had a hard time being away from the pub and their mates, but it meant we had a lot of time to work on this record. Most of the songs were really intuitive. Main thing, we just wanted it to be us. In the small windows we had in between lockdowns, we went to our rehearsal space, which is a storage locker down the road at National Storage Northcote. We punched all the songs into shape at Nasho and for the first time ever we wrote more songs than we needed. We had the luxury of cutting out the songs that were shit and focusing on the ones we loved.

ur for two years, you get really good at playing. We were a better band and we had heaps of songs, so we were just different. The nihilistic, live in the moment, positivity and panel beater rock-meets-shed show punk was still there, but it was better. The whole thing was less spontaneous and more darkly considered. The lyrics I wrote for the album are better too, I think. The amount of time and thought I put into the lyrics for this album is completely different from the EPs, and even the first record. Half of the lyrics were written during the Australian Bushfire season, when we were already wearing masks to protect ourselves from the smoke in the air. And then when the pandemic hit, our options were the same as everyone: go find a day job and work in intense conditions or sit at home and drown in introspection. I fell into the latter category. I had all this energy inside of me and nowhere to put it, because I couldn’t perform, and it had a hectic effect on my brain.

y brain evolved and warped and my way of thinking about the world completely changed. Having to deal with a lot of authority during 2020 and realising my lack of power made me feel both more self destructive and more self disciplined, more nihilistic and more depressed and more resentful, which ultimately fuelled me with a kind of relentless motivation. I became a temporary monster. I partied more, but I also exercised heaps, read books and ate veggies. I was like an egg going into boiling water when this started, gooey and weak but with a hard surface. I came out even harder. I’m still soft on the inside, but in a different way. All of this time, I was working on the lyrics. I pushed myself heaps and heaps, because there were things that I needed to say. The lyrics draw a lot from rap phrasing, because that’s what I’m into. I just wanted to be a weird bitch and celebrate how weird life and humans are.

ounding like a dumb cunt. So anyway, that’s where this album comes from. People will use other bands as a sonic reference to make it more digestible and journalists will make it seem more pretentious and considered than it really is, but in the end this album is just us — raw self expression, defiant energy, unapologetic vulnerability. It was written by four self-taught musicians who are all just trying to get by and have a good time. 

is an Australian car show and the Nanny cares about social issues and she’s read a couple of books, and Mr Sheffield is drinking beer in the sun. It’s a Mitsubishi Lancer going slightly over the speed limit in a school zone. It’s realising how good it is to wear track pants in bed. It’s having someone who wants to cook you dinner when you’re really shattered. It’s me shadow-boxing on stage, covered in sweat, instead of sitting quietly in the corner.”

Earlier this month, I wrote about Comfort To Me’s first single, “Guided by Angels,” a riotous, mosh pit friendly ripper centered around Taylor’s frenetic energy and punchily delivered vocals, buzzing power chords and a pub friendly, shout along with a raised beer in your hand hook. But underneath all of that, “Guided by Angels” is fueled by a defiant and unapologetic vulnerability and a rare, unshakeable faith in possibility and overall goodness; that there actually are good angels right over your shoulder to guide you and sustain you when you need them the most. Comfort To Me’s second and latest single “Security” is a Highway to Hell-era AC/DC-like anthem full of swaggering braggadocio, boozy power chords, thunderous drumming, shout along worthy hooks and Taylor’s feral delivery. Interestingly, much like its immediate predecessor, the song is fueled by a rare and infectious earnestness and vulnerability for most punk rock with the song’s narrator boldly and unapologetically declaring that they need and are looking for love — right now!

nuing the band’s ongoing collaboration with John Angus Stewart, the cinematically shot visual for “Security” follows Amy Taylor in a cemetery at dusk in a blue bubble coat and jeans dancing and bopping through the entire video’s run. Much like the video for “Guided by Angels,” we’re reminded that Taylor is an atomic bomb of furious and frenetic energy, exploding across the screen.

New Video: Rising Artist Alewya Releases a Club Friendly Banger

Dubbed “this decade’s triple threat” by Love Magazine, Alewya is a rapidly rising London-based singer/songwriter, producer and visual artist. Born in Saudi Arabia to an Egyptian-Sudanese father and an Ethiopian mother, Alewya has spent her life surrounded and nurtured by diaspora immigrant communities: she grew up in West London and after spending several years in New York. she returned to London. Upon returning home, the rising British artist developed and honed her ear for music through the sounds of the Ethiopian and Arabic music of her parents and the ambient alternative rock albums pop her brother.

lation of the Saudi-born, Ethiopian-Sudanese, British-based artist’s name from Arabic to English into “most high” or “the highest,” and interestingly enough, her work generally is thematically concerned with transcendence. She sees her music as an accessible space for her and her listeners to connect on a deeply spiritual level — with her work challenge the listener to remember the last time that they felt truly connected to themselves and their emotions. “I want to move people to themselves. I want them to feel the same way that I felt when I had a taste of a higher power and felt there was a presence over me,” Alewya says. “I want people to feel that.” 

nking Timbaland-like mesh of trap, reggae and electro pop. Since, the release of “Sweating,” the rising British artist has been busy releasing a handful of equally self-assured singles, including her latest single “Spirit_X.” Featuring around skittering, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, arpeggiated synths paired with Alewya’s punchy delivery in which she alternates between fiery bars and sultry crooning. The new single sonically is indebted to the relentless energy of classic drum ‘n’ bass music, and manages to evoke the sensation of getting lost in thumping beats and strobe light.

“I know that the rave can be utilized as ritual and ceremony to transform, uplift and energize a person,” Alewya explains. “I love giving visceral experiences. I love drum and bass for that specific reason. ‘Spirit_X’ encompasses all of the above in my way.”

Directed by the artist and Simon Lane, the recently released video for “Spirit_X” follows Alewya as she wanders a subterranean maze of abandoned tunnels before encountering an underground and extremely communal rave from a dystopian future that seems very familiar — and defiantly pro-Black. Visually, the video references The Prodigy’s “Firestarter.”

New Video: Combo Chimbita Release a Gorgeous Visual for Meditative “Todos Santos”

Acclaimed Latinx group Combo Chimbita — — Carolina Oliveros (vocals), Prince of Queens (synths, bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta — features members of New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio and is a sort of related side project. Interestingly, the members of Combo Chimbita can trace the origins of their genre-mashing sound, which feature elements of cumbia, electro pop and Afro-futurism, to their experiments with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Park Slope, Brooklyn-based club Barbes. Most of that experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that would eventually lead to their self-recorded, 2016 full-length debut El Corridor del Jaguar.

Unsurprisingly, the members of Combo Chimbita have cited Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism as a deep influence on their work and overall aesthetic — with the New York-based Latinx group crafting their own take, one, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. “The idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future,” Combo Chimbita explain. “It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

2016’s Lily Wen-produced sophomore album Abya Yala found the band further establishing their Afro-futurism-inspired take on cumbia and other traditional Colombian folk styles. Shortly after the release of Abya Yala, the members of Combo Chimbita began to receive attention locally and elsewhere for their live show, led by Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence. Eventually, the acclaimed Latinx group caught the attention of ANTI- Records, who signed the band to the label and released their third album 2019’s Ahomale.

Much like countless others, the pandemic wound up putting the act’s plans on an indefinite pause — but they used the time to write a batch of singles, including their latest, the slow-burning “Todos Santos.” Featuring atmospheric synths, skittering beats, a sinuous bass line, hypnotic four-on-the-floor-like drumming, expressive guitars, Afro-Colombian percussion and Oliveros’ yearning vocals, “Todos Santos” finds the act continuing to effortlessly and seamlessly mesh the ancient with the hyper contemporary.

e Mother of all Orishas in Yoruban tradition — and guardian of the ocean, representing home, creation and love. “Todos Santos gave us an opportunity to situate our instruments in such a special place, out in the open near the ocean, with no people around, just listening to the wind and watching the birds,” the band’s Prince of Queens recalls. ““It generated a peaceful & tranquil energy, which reflects our capacity to heal and to forgive, something we often lose sight of through the hustle of day-to-day life.” Dilemastronauta adds “The track’s hypnotic drumming was done in collaboration with Grammy-nominated percussionist Philbert Armenteros, a Cuban-born Babalawo and dear friend to Combo Chimbita who helped us perform this special homage to Yemaya.”

Directed by Iván Vernaza, the recently released video for “Todos Santos,” is the second of a series of visuals accompanying news Combo Chimbita material that follows the journey of Colombian sisters in a non-linear storyline that began with
“Mujer Jaguar” The videos were filmed and produced in Cali, Colombia at the beginning of a national uprising that has seen the government respond with violent repression against its citizens. “Mujer Jaguar” followed a young woman, whose fiery presence was connected to the current resistance across Abya Yala. “Todos Santos” is a gorgeously shot, nostalgia-fueled fever dream centered around an interconnected community of women, who guide and love the video’s roaring and passionate protagonist.

e surrounding mountains, we knew this song would be healing, purifying, and hopeful. Those maternal characteristics are something we wanted to evoke through the single and its video, recognizing that the young girl who roared in ‘Mujer Jaguar,’ had a process of learning and unlearning, of guidance and autonomy, which she uses to confront life,” Carolina Oliveros explains in press notes.

New Video: Rising Los Angeles-based Act Mini Trees Releases a Surreal Visual for Infectious “Carrying On”

Rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lexi Vega is the daughter of a Cuban-born father and Japanese-American mother. The uniqueness of her identity has been an ever-present and constant tension within her life: Vega never quite fit in within the predominantly white, suburban Southern California communities of her childhood. And she had few around her, outside of her immediate family to understand the generational scars caused by internment and exile.

When Vega was just five, her father, a professional drummer himself, committed suicide. Understandably all of those traumas set in motion, questioning of Vega’s own self-identity throughout the course of her own her life. As an adult, the rising Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist played drums in a number of projects for several years before starting to write and record material with her solo recording project Mini Trees in 2018.

person and as an artist, fully in control of her vision — while providing her an opportunity to process, persevere and grow. Over the next two years, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist wrote, recorded and released two EPs: 2019’s debut Steady Me and last year’s Slip Away.

Understandably, with ample time to work on music as a result of the pandemic, Vega found herself ready to progress creatively while challenging many of her own long-held beliefs and notions about her identity. Originally envisioned to be her third EP, her forthcoming full-length debut Always In Motion features relatable and crafted indie pop songs that acknowledge collective anxiety about life’s seeming improbability while pointing out that life always keeps pushing you forward — for better or for worse.

centered around dense layers of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook, Vega’s achingly plaintive vocals and propulsive four-on-the-floor. “Carrying On” can trace its origins to a trip to the desert, where Vega struggled to reconcile her sense of the world with the actual reality in front of her, especially during a time when everything felt unbelievable and surreal. And while sonically — to my ears — bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay San Mei, the new single features a narrator, who’s struggling with the inability to carry on, because she’s absolutely certain that somehow, someway the other shoe will drop no matter what she may try to do.

motions of everyday life — from getting up out bed, brushing her teeth, eating, working and even playing music. But at some point, the video’s protagonist recognizes that something isn’t quite right and tries to escape.

“I wrote ‘Carrying On’ in the middle of 2020 when I was out in the desert escaping the city and reflecting on the unsettling new way of life we all had to adopt during the pandemic,” Vega recalls. “Despite how in some ways life had begun to feel mundane again, there was a constant underlying fear that everything could unravel at any moment. In a sarcastic tone, the song questions my ability to hold it all together. We tried to capture this sentiment with the music video, displaying a character who is being led through the motions of day-to-day life, but beginning to recognize that something isn’t quite right.”

Always In Motion is slated for a September 17, 2021 release through Run For Cover Records.

New Video: Rising Post Punk Act Menthüll Release a Haunting Visual for Brooding and Cinematic “Profonde Tristesse”

Formed last year, the rising Gatineau, Québec-based indie electronic/goth duo Menthüll –Gabriel and Yseult — have quickly established a retro-futuristic sound that draws equally from New Wave and electro pop paired with lyrics written and sung exclusively in French.

The Hull-based duo’s releases have received praise and accolades globally. Building upon a growing profile in the Francophone music scene and in the global post-punk and goth scenes, Menthüll’s latest single “Profonde tristesse” continues a run of brooding and cinematic material that sounds — to my ears, at least — indebted to John Carpenter soundtracks and the early 4AD Records catalog paired with vocals delivered in a wispy and ethereal French.

Interestingly, the accompanying visual aesthetically reminds a bit of Jorge Elbrecht: the viewer sees a classically-inspired marble bust superimposed in the foreground of a misty forest that gradually burst into a explosive conflagration.