Tag: no wave

New Video: Trenton’s Joy on Fire Shares Sardonic and Explosive Ripper “Selfies”

Currently based in Trenton, noise rock/no wave/experimental rock/art punk outfit Joy on Fire — founding members John Paul Carillo (guitar), Anna Meadors (saxophone), spoken word artist Dan Gutstein (vocals) and a drummer — can trace their origins to Baltimore‘s art scene, where the band’s founding members originally met and started writing material together.

“Baltimore is a city where musicians of different stripes come together quite readily.  With the art college (MICA) [Maryland Institute College of Art] up the road from The Peabody Conservatory, trained jazz / classical musicians come together, in the city’s Station North Arts District, with self-taught musicians who bring other artistic disciplines into their music, a Talking Heads vibe,” Joy on Fire’s John Paul Carillo writes in a statement about Baltimore and its influence on the band. “In my case, while Anna was at Peabody, I was at The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, getting a degree in fiction writing.  Anna and I met in a basement jam session, and the band began then.  We still play the first song we ever wrote together, ‘Red Wave,’ which finally appeared on 2021’s Unknown Cities.

Meadors’ background as a classically trained saxophonist collided with Carillo’s love of experimental art rock and punk and creative sparks immediately few between the pair. “I knew pretty early on that a career in classical saxophone wasn’t for me; I met John during my sophomore year [at the Peabody Conservatory], and the world of weird rock music opened up for me,” Meadows writes. “I had been listening to this Terry Riley album for saxophone quartet and vocalist, Assassin Reverie, and fell in love with it, and John introduced me to the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, as well as the bands Morphine and King Crimson. There is this saxophone solo on King Crimson’s ‘One More Red Nightmare‘ that changed my life, it is so visceral, and it starts with just a long trill that is so simple and so perfect for the part. When Joy on Fire started, I was able to use the techniques I learned from jazz improvisation over this big chordal electric bass sound that John has, and it was such a thrill.”

Since those early jam sessions between Carillo and Meadors, the band has expanded to a quartet with the addition of Gutstein and a drummer while being remarkably prolific, releasing five full-length albums: 2015’s full-length debut The Complete Book of Bonsai, 2017’s Fire with Fire, 2019’s Hymn, last year’s Unknown Cities and Another Adventure in Red, which landed at #7 on Concrete Islands’ Albums of the Year list for 2021.

The Trenton-based outfit has toured up and down the Eastern Seaboard to support their recorded outfit with stops at Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, Boston’s The Middle East Café, Baltimore’s Metro Gallery, Asheville’s Asheville Music Hall and Shapeshifter Lab.

Joy on Fire’s seventh album, the Carillo and Meadors-produced States of America is slated for a June 11, 2022 release through their longtime label home Procrastination Records. The album’s material can be traced to a joint writing session between the band’s Carillo and Gutstein, which quickly “grew into monsters” as the duo turned loose song structures, ideas and lyrics into fleshed out songs. Most of the album’s material was recored at Princeton University‘s Studio B, where Meadows is currently a Ph.D. student in Music Composition.

The album will feature previously released singles “Anger and Decency,” “Thunderdome,” which originally premiered on Bob Boilen’s All Songs Considered and “Uh Huh,” which has an accompanying video that’s an official selection at 14 film festivals across the world, including LA Rocks Film Festival, London Rocks Film Festival and was a winner at the Obskuur Ghent Film Festival.

States of America‘s latest single “Selfies” is a neurotic, New Wave-meets-No Wave-meets-art punk ripper centered around a menacing Stooges-like groove, thunderous drumming, Gutstein’s sardonic, spoken word lyrics about the emptiness and vapidity of social media narcissism paired with Meador’s saxophone skronk and wailing that initially creeps its way into the arrangement and builds up in intensity as then song ends with an explosive and chaotic coda. The song captures the relentless need to be liked, seen as cool, successful and popular that’s inspired by the social media age in a way that’s startlingly accurate yet wildly hilarious.

‘Selfies’ began with a riff I had hanging around for a while, a riff that has a bit of a Stooges vibe, especially with the reverse delay on it, and when lyricist / vocalist Dan Gutstein joined Joy on Fire, I arranged it for vocals,” Joy on Fire’s John Paul Carillo writes. “Dan has some great lines in it, displaying his edgy sense of humor: ‘Happiest,” goes the refrain, ‘we were happiest / Lying to each other.’  The piece is a critique of narcissistic culture, with ‘Love is like gazing everywhere / Catching an echo with your hands…Why not, why not, why not selfies!’  The impossibility, emptiness, and sadness of trying to catch an ‘echo with your hands’ is (not) relieved by taking selfies, would be one interpretation.  Often in Joy on Fire songs, saxophonist Anna Meadors begins the song or at least jumps in pretty quickly.  This time, she lays out for the body of the song, and then just kills it over a vamp that drives to the end of the tune, with Dan then sneaking back in, like the sax has driven him mad: ‘La-la-la-la-la Selfies!’  The wild saxophone is a further Stooges connection.  The acidy vibe that Iggy Pop asked for from Stooges saxophonist Steve Mackay — Anna certainly has it here, and then some.”

The accompanying video for “Selfies” continues in a similar vein as the video for “Anger and Decency,” with heavy amounts of visual distortion and manipulation atop footage of the band performing the song and fittingly cuts to a number of video selfies.

New Audio: Memphis’ Optic Sink Releases a Tense and Neurotic New Single

Optic Sink — Nots’ Natalie Hoffmann and Ben Bauermeister — is a Memphis-based act that specializes in a genre-defying sound that morphs from cold wave to psychedelia to distorted noise rock, often within the same song. Thematically and sonically, the duo fragment and reassemble sounds, concepts and verbal constructs while attempting to find beauty in the journey despite what the final resolution may be.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for an October 2, 2020 release through Goner Records — and the album’s second and latest single “Exhibitionist” is a tense and minimalist track centered around arpeggiated synths and chintzy Casio-like metronomic beats paired with Hoffmann’s insouciant delivery. And at its core, is an uncertain and neurotic narrator, who’s rightfully a bit paranoid. “From the pressure to constantly commodify yourself, market yourself, appear to be a certain thing –– the BEST thing –– on social media, to the cold machine eye on the other side that is always watching, taking notes, fitting all of us neatly into its algorithm, and selling this idea of the best version of ourselves back to us,” Optic Sink’s Hoffman explains. “And the overwhelming evidence is that we’re buying it, but what are we actually paying for it?”


Currently featuring founding members Cynthia Sley (vocals), Pat Place (guitar) and Dee Pop (drums) along with newest recruit Val Opielski, the New York-based act Bush Tetras can trace their origins back to when Sley, Place, Pop and Laura Kennedy (bass) formed the band back in 1979.  Interestingly, their full-length debut Too Many Creeps was considered one of their scene’s defining moments as it accurately captured the vibe, feel and ethos of that scene’s particular moment.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Bush Tetras were an opening act during The Clash’s legendary, spring 1981 17 show run at Bond International Casino. After the release of their Topper Headon-produced Rituals EP, which featured the chart-placing “Can’t Be Funky,” Laura Kennedy and Dee Pop left the band and were replaced by Bob Albertson (bass) and Don Christensen (drums); however, the band broke up.

For the better part of the next three decades, the members of the band were fairly elusive, although interestingly enough, the band’s original lineup reunited on a couple of occasions — in 1995, which resulted in 1997’s Beauty Lies and recording sessions the following year, which resulted in a Don Fleming-produced album that was shelved when Mercury Records was sold. That album was finally released in 2012.

In 2005, Julia Murphy replaced Kennedy and they resumed playing and touring across New York. The band toured across Europe the following year. Sadly, Laura Kennedy died in 2011 after a long battle with liver disease. In 2013, Cindy Rickmond, a former member of Cheap Perfume, Grayson Hugh, Church of Betty and Unknown Gender briefly replaced Murphy. And in 2016, Val Opielski, a former member of Krakatoa, Walking Hellos, PSXO and 1000 Yard Stare joined the band.

Last year saw the release of Take The Fall EP through Wharf Cat Records, the first batch of new music from the band in over 10 years. Over the winter, Third Man Records cleared their Cass Corridor showroom floor, invited the band down to Detroit — and enlisted the help of Third Man Mastering’s Bill Skibbe and Warren Defever to record their recently released “There is a Hum”/”Seven Years” 7 inch. A side single “There is a Hum” is a slashing bit of post punk, reminiscent of Entertainment-era Gang of Four and Sonic Youth — but seething with a neurotic anxiousness. B side single “Seven Years” manages to be a mischievously anachronistic track that sounds as though it could have been released at any point within the past 30 years. The glitchy and spastic track features some blistering and energetic guitar work centered around cowbell-led percussion and a sinuous bass line. Both tracks find the legendary post punk/No Wave act boldly reminding the listener that although it’s been a while, they play with a fury, passion and purpose that many younger acts lack.







New Video: Up-and-Coming Miami-based No Wave/Post Punk/Art Rock Act Donzii’s Dance Floor Friendly Debut

Donzii is a Miami, FL (by way of New York)-based post-punk/art rock/performance art/no-wave act featuring Jenna Balfe (vocals), Dennis Brewster Fuller (bass), Monroe Getz (drums) and Nick DeLucca (guitar), and their debut single “Mines,” which was released by Grey Market Records earlier this year manages to sound as though it were released in 1982 as it consists of early hip hop-like backbeats, an angular and funky bass line paired with Balfe delivering surrealistic non-sequitur-like lyrics with a chilly yet aggressive nonchalance, and while dance floor friendly, the material manages to hint at an underlying dark yet seductive nihilism.  

Directed by Tara Long, the recently released video is like a Dario Argento-like fever dream that features the members of the band pointing out the very odd nature of routines, communing with nature and brooding artfully among other things. 

New Audio: Ice Balloons Return with Doom-Laden Animated Visuals for New Track

Over the past month or so I’ve written a couple of posts on the All-Star, no-wave, noise-punk act  Ice Balloons, an act comprised of a who’s who of contemporary indie rock as the band’s lineup features  TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone, Samiam’s Sean Kennerly, Fuckemos’ and Surfbort’s Sean Powell, Midnight Masses’ Giselle Reiber, Wild Yaks’ Dan Scinta and B.A. Miele. The project finds each member bringing disparate elements from their various primary gigs and creative pasts into their creative process but in a rather unique fashion. 

“Calypso Heartworm,” the first single off the band’s full-length debut Fiesta was a fuzzy and dissonant song with a rather untraditional and indiscernible song structure and while there are hints at familiar elements as there’s sort of a bridge and something that resembles a bridge and a hook, all held together by a propulsive and angular bass line, buzzing guitar chords and a trippy, kaleidoscopic vibe. The album’s second single “The Wasp” featured scorching guitar work, sizzling electronic laser blasts and distorted, howled vocals in an anthemic and blistering punk anthem from a broken and failing spaceship sent from a dystopian planet, much like our own. However, the album’s third and latest single “Fallen Family” is a hellish and doom-laden dirge, complete with down-tuned, rumbling bass, thunderous drumming and heavily distorted vocals. 

Featuring animation by Chicago, IL-based director Jim Trainor, the recently released visuals for the song are reminiscent of Matt Groening’s Life in Hell and Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto as it possesses a real dark irony. 

Last month, I wrote about the All-Star, no-wave, noise-punk act  Ice Balloons, an act comprised of a who’s who of contemporary indie rock as the band’s lineup features  TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone, Samiam’s Sean Kennerly, Fuckemos’ and Surfbort’s Sean Powell, Midnight Masses’ Giselle Reiber, Wild Yaks’ Dan Scinta and B.A. Miele. And while the band may be a side project from each member’s full-time gig, the project finds each member bringing disparate elements from their primary gigs and their pasts into the side project’s creative process; in fact, as you would have heard on “Calypso Heartworm,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming full-length debut Fiesta, the band specializes in a fuzzy and washed out dissonance paired with a difficult to discern song structure. There are hints at familiar elements — there’s something like a bridge and there’s even something like a hook and even verses — and it’s held together by a propulsive and angular bass line, buzzing guitar chords and washed out sounds. With a trippy and kaleidoscopic vibe underneath the cacophony of noise, “Calypso Heartworm” manages to feel anxious yet slack and chaotic.

“The Wasp,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming album, Fiesta was inspired by insects, after a hallucination caused by attitude sickness during a trip to Colorado, and the single features scorching guitar work, sizzling blasts of electronics and distorted, howling vocals to create a song that sounds like a blistering punk anthem from a broken and failing spaceship sent from a dystopian planet, much like our own.




Perhaps best known as one-half of acclaimed Brooklyn-based noise rock duo Talk Normal, an act that released two critically applauded albums, Sugarland and Sunshine and opened for the likes of Sonic Youth, Wire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zola Jesus among others, Andyra Ambro (vocals, drums) saw the breakup of the band, as marking a major shift in her own creative process and an opportunity to start something completely new with her solo recording project Gold Dime, which has been performing live as a trio — with  Jessica Ackerley and Ian Douglas-Moore — since 2014. Interestingly Ambro’s Gold Dime has received some attention nationally as the live trio have opened for Lower Dens, U.S. Girls and Xiu Xiu. And after several years of touring, writing and recording material, Ambro’s long-awaited Gold Dime debut Nerves is slated for a June 2, 2017 release through Fire Talk Records.

Self-produced by Ambro, recorded by PC Worship’s Justin Frey, mixed by Jonny Schenke and mixed by Ambro’s former Talk Normal partner Sarah Register, the album is a result in marked shift in Ambro’s creative process with the material reportedly consisting of much more exploratory and experimental compositions, and as you’ll hear on “Shut Up,” Nerves’ second single, Ambro’s sound manages to effortlessly alternate between swirling, hypnotic drone and wild and abrasive dissonance while held together by a propulsive motorik groove. Ambro’s ironically (and somewhat detached) deadpan vocals float over the mix. And while clearly possessing an almost neurotic and anxious tension, “Shut Up” in particular focuses on the challenges of confronting the struggles to continue creating meaningful, interesting art when there seem to be larger forces against you — and those forces push, shove and taunt you in every possible way.

Seemingly drawing from New York’s early 80s No Wave, art rock, noise rock and post-punk the song — and in turn, Ambro’s latest work — manages to do in a way that’s uncompromisingly, defiantly and joyously weird.