Emerging New York-based indie rock outfit Anna Sun — Samantha Aneson (vocals, guitar), Nikola Balać (drums) and Andrew “Swhogs” Shewaga (bass) — can trace their origins to the breakup of their first band together Satin Nickel back in 2020. When Satin Nickel broke up, Aneson began incorporating her own original material into her repertoire and recruited her former bandmates to bring the material to life.
With the release of their debut EP Extended Play earlier this year, the band firmly established a songwriting approach centered around Aneson’s diary-like lyrics: Sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes heartbreaking, the songs find Aneson digging deep into the tricky dynamics of relationships while finding an underlying sense of optimism.
Overall, the EP thematically captures the small victories and overwhelming anxieties of living in our very strange time. The EP’s latest single, “What A Shame” features Aneson’s Chrissie Hynde-like vocals paired with shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while being remarkably accessible, the song is influenced by heartbreaking — and very real — circumstances: The song as the band’s Aneson explains was written as much-needed catharsis, as she was forced to accept the bitter reality that she was losing her mother to dementia. In some way the song and its narrator seems to be desperately trying to hold on — despite everything going absolutely wrong. Sometimes all you’ve got to keep you from cracking up, is the hope that something better will come
“I’ve grown to love the dichotomy of pain and lightness in art. How one can make the other so much more pronounced,” Aneson says. “I was in a place (am forever in a place) of begrudgingly agreeing to this reality that’s been forced upon me. Having to move forward without railing against existence for doing something that once seemed so unimaginable. Having to find light in my nightmare.”
Directed by Kay Day and the band’s Aneson, the recently released video for “What A Shame” features a heartbroken Aneson painting her face like a clown. She winds up going through a hellish day: First she walks through what appears to be McCarren Park with an urn. When she gets to the river to dump ashes, the ashes get blown back into her face. She later gets mugged at knifepoint. She encounters a street musician and forgets that she was just mugged — and has no money. She later meets up with a boyfriend in the park, when all of the video’s villains see her — and then attack her. And then when she tries to escape, she gets hit by a car. Throughout, Aneson tries her very best to keep going, to keep feeling positive about something. If it feels familiar, it should. Life would be unbearable if we didn’t do so.