New Audio: Taleen Kali Returns with Shimmering “Tomorrow Girl”

Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, poet, essayist, visual artist, Dum Dum Records founder, and JOVM mainstay Taleen Kali (she/they) has made a career out of crafting romantic punk songs that are simultaneously cosmic, dreamy and defiant, and informed by her Armenian heritage and her parents’ birthplaces of Lebanon and Ethiopia. But its all underpinned by Kali’s desire to seamlessly fuse her cultural heritage and identity with the sounds of the modern countercultures she grew up embracing and exploring as a musician and singer/songwriter.

Kali’s music career started with a stint in Los Angeles-based band TÜLIPS. After TÜLIPS closed up shop in 2016, she stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist, eventually touring across the US with Ex Hex, Alice Bag and Seth Bogart

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay’s solo debut, 2018’s Kristin Kontrol-produced Soul Songs EP was recorded at Hollywood-based Sunset Sound Studios. The EP, which found Kali’s long-held riot grrl ethos maturing into a multifaceted punk sound and approach with elements of noise pop and New Wave was  released to praise from BUST Magazine and Stereogum, who likened her sound to a contemporary BlondieSoul Songs was also included in Pitchfork‘s Guide to Summer Albums and LA Weekly‘s Best Indie Punk Albums. 

Kali along with her backing band followed up with an unplugged version of Soul Songs and covers of The Supremes‘ “Baby Love” and Garbage‘s “#1 Crush.” She also recorded a two-song pandemic project called Changing with her TÜLIPS-era producer Greg Katz.

Taleen Kali’s Jeff Schroeder and Josiah Mazzaschi-co-produced full-length debut Flower of Life is slated for a March 3, 2023 release through Kali’s Dum Dum Records. Sonically, the album reportedly sees the rising Los Angeles further cementing her fuzzy and noisy take on psych punk paired with vocals that run the range of femme punk and shoegaze siren. 

Over the past year or so, I’ve written about the following album singles:

  • Album title track “Flower of Life,” a grungy psych punk ripper centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, soaring organ chords and Kali’s sneering delivery paired with mosh pit friendly hooks and choruses that sonically was a bit of a synthesis of My Bloody Valentine and riot grrl punk. “‘Flower of Life’ was a spiritual concept I held onto for a long time before writing this song,” Kali explains in press notes. “The flower is a fractal, a cycle, ever blooming, ever decaying. 
  • Trash Talk“, a jangling Brit Pop-inspired anthem centered around a chugging motorik-like groove, fuzzy power chords, Kali’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks and a sneering “fuck off” attitude towards haters, trolls and toxic bullshit that almost anyone can relate to. “‘Trash Talk’ is a track that speaks out against haters, trolls, and toxic bullshit in the hope that it gives a voice to anybody who’s been silenced or worn down,” Kali explains. “I wanted to write a song that embodies my favorite jangly Brit-pop songs and the energy of ‘do no harm, but take no shit.’”
  • Fine Line,” a Too True-era Dum Dum Girls-like confection centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a forceful and driving rhythm section paired with Kali’s plaintive delivery and her unerring knack for well, placed, rousingly anthemic hooks. “‘Fine Line’ kicks off side B of the record. I wanted tTo explore the ways we feel marked by love and pain. How much of an impact the smallest of impressions can make. And how they can feel when they fade,” the JOVM mainstay explains. “I wrote this song in the summer of 2018 right when the last album Soul Songs was coming out. The process of putting out my first solo record was so strange and cathartic that a handful of new songs just came spilling out during that time, and this was the first one. I really wanted there to be a demarcation for side B of Flower of Life so ‘Fine Line’ is written in a minor key, setting the tone for the 2nd half of the album.”

Flower of Life‘s fifth and latest single “Tomorrow Girl” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor with the song being a shimmering Too True-era Dum Dum Girls-meets shoegaze-like pop confection featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, Kali’s gorgeous and achingly plaintive delivery paired with a driving rhythm section and enormous hooks. Much like its predecessors, “Tomorrow Girl” is rooted in personal, lived-in experience and hard-won wisdom.

“‘Tomorrow Girl’ is about finding your future self when the present isn’t cutting it. I wrote this song when I desperately wanted change. Sometimes when we want change we seek the wrong kind of love, we take drastic measures, we make dumb mistakes,” Kali explains. “This song is my dumb mistake. There are so many punk songs titled ‘____ Girl’ and I wanted to write a song in that tradition from a female POV. So, it’s a song about a girl, but we don’t know if the subject of the song is a love interest or if it’s the narrator having an inner conflict, which I wanted to leave purposefully vague; an inherently queer song.”

New Video: The Floral and Femme Punk-Inspired Visuals for Taleen Kali’s “Half Lie”

Last month, I wrote about Taleen Kali, an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, who’s best known for being a member of TÜLIPS, and as  you may recall, after the band broke up, Kali decided go to solo — and within a relatively short period of time, she developed a reputation for being one of her hometown’s next big artists, as she’s opened for the likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest.

“Half Lie,” the first single off her soon-to-be released Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, has received to attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, and it shouldn’t be surprising as it’s a decidedly New Wave-like take on noise rock that will remind some listeners of Gothic Tropic,Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts — but while interestingly enough nodding at Go-Gos and others, complete with an infectious, arena rock hook. And much like “Lost & Bound,” “Half Lie” reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous.

Centered around a concept devised by its director Leila Jarman, the recently released video is all about bright, springtime colors and as Kali told The Grey Estates,  “The video for ‘Half Lie’ is all about floral femme with a punk rock edge…it expands on the theme of the song, which is about half truths we hear from others, and the lies we tell ourselves. In the video, we celebrate the journey into new truths, turning them into ceremonies. The visuals depict lush rituals performed by some of my favorite L.A. artists, Madison René Knapp and Kayla Tange, who lead us up into the grand spiritual unveiling at the end.”