Premiere: The Rare Occasions Claw for “Control” in Explosive Song on Xinjiang & Injustice

The Rare Occasions © Ari Soto
A blitz of feverish indie rock bliss heralds The Rare Occasions’ return on “Control,” their bold new single about the ongoing crisis in Xinjiang, China.
Stream: “Control” – The Rare Occasions




A blitz of feverish indie rock bliss heralds The Rare Occasions’ return on their bold new single. Turning a critical eye toward the ongoing crisis in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, “Control” levies a heavy critique into a furious outpouring of rich, impassioned sound.

Control - The Rare Occasions

Control – The Rare Occasions

little vulture come down from your nest
until you catch your own
the world is not impressed

you built a culture of lies;
a fortress fit for no other

so is it any surprise
when there’s shit to uncover?
own the sonnets sweeping
through their heads

move the sand that blocks
the roots you wish to spread

all you need is control;
eyes at every corner

there’s nothing you couldn’t know;
not a speck of disorder

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Control,” The Rare Occasions’ first standalone single since their debut album Into the Shallows‘ release in 2018. The trio of Brian McLaughlin, Luke Imbusch, and Jeremy Cohen (following guitarist Peter Stone’s exit last year), The Rare Occasions have been on Atwood Magazine‘s radar for well over the past four years; we have premiered their songs “An Actuary Retires” (2015) and “Physics” (2018), and watched them leave their native New England for Los Angeles’ bright and sunny pastures.



“This is our first release as a three-piece, ever since our guitarist Peter Stone moved back home last year (we’re all on very good terms and Peter is working on some really amazing new music of his own),” McLaughlin tells Atwood Magazine. “We’ve been reconstructing our sound, playing shows in a bunch of very different settings, and figuring out what really connects with people. We sing three-part vocal harmonies, make a lot of noise, and just have fun with it. Earlier this year we did an acoustic version of “Call Me When You Get There,” and now with “Control” you can hear what we’ve been up to in our little home studio. It’s been a blast creatively, and I think this first song is a good introduction because it has aspects of both our old sound and our new sound. We’ve recorded five other songs and we’re working towards a full-length record for next year, but we wanted to give our listeners a brief glimpse into the music as we complete it.”

Described by Come Here Floyd as “refreshing [and] intuitive” and by Vanyaland as a “garage rock band who riffed and slashed their way into our hearts,” The Rare Occasions have always had a knack for overdrive and dynamic juxtaposition. Recent years have seen the band grow into a sleek machine of tight, fierce sonics balanced by raw human thought and emotion. Their niche is one where broiling left-of-center rock meets intellectual stimulation and curiosity.

“Control” is, in that regard, quintessentially The Rare Occasions: The perfect marriage of unleashed musical energies and critique.

McLaughlin describes the track as “bigger, weirder, and more colorful;” with its turbulent chorus and delightfully alternative melodies, “Control” erupts with a fresh, yet familiar drive.

buildings glisten all around
cities rising from the ground
buildings glisten all around
cities rising from the ground
but I know the shape of your heart
when you drag them out in the dark
The Rare Occasions © Ari Soto

The Rare Occasions © Ari Soto



From a lyrical in-depth perspective, “Control” casts a shadow on China’s record on human rights and the country’s re-education camps in Xinjiang. “Learning about the situation in China has forced me to reflect more deeply on the issues of mass incarceration and the history of colonization in our own country,” McLaughlin explains. “We want to increase awareness of the Uighur camps in Xinjiang specifically, while also leaving room for the listener to examine their own society and experiences through that dystopian lens. I’ve visited Shenzhen recently several times for work. The city is beautiful and has all the markers of a booming modern economy, yet (at the time) my colleagues claimed to know nothing about the protests in Hong Kong happening less than 20 miles away. This incongruence was particularly jarring for me, and I’ve grown to appreciate some of the freedoms I had previously taken for granted.”

We want to increase awareness of the Uighur camps in Xinjiang specifically, while also leaving room for the listener to examine their own society and experiences through that dystopian lens.

“Control” is angry, but (for lack of a better word) controlled: “Paranoia led you to detain more than a million getting in your way,” McLaughlin howls in direct reference to the goings-on in Xinjiang. “You feel that commerce pulsing through your veins.” While the song specifically hones in on China, its cutthroat lines apply to all injustices “perpetrated by those in power,” per the band.

The Rare Occasions © Ari Soto

The Rare Occasions © Ari Soto



little vulture come down from your nest
until you catch your own the world is not impressed
you built a culture of lies; a fortress fit for no other
so is it any surprise when it breaks it breaks it breaks it breaks
and I know the weight of war
said I know the weight of war
I’ve held it off before
still I cave
I cave
I cave

Maybe “Control” will inspire you to take action and call your political representative, encouraging them to speak up and take a stand against the Chinese detention of the Uighur community in Xinjiang. Perhaps it will light a spark for you to learn more about the current situation (helpful links here and here). No matter what, “Control” promises to inject its ruthless, unapologetic garage rock intensity into our ears and our lives, moving us to feel the same passion and urgency The Rare Occasions are feeling right now.

Stream “Control” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “Control” – The Rare Occasions



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Control - The Rare Occasions

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com