Every Friday, Atwood Magazine’s staff share what they’ve been listening to that week – a song, an album, an artist – whatever’s been having an impact on them, in the moment. Here’s this week’s weekly roundup!
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:: Forgettable – Sorority Noise ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
I’ve had a complicated relationship with Sorority Noise’s music. Following the rape accusation that came out against frontman Cameron Boucher this week, I’m comfortable severing all ties to any personal connection I’ve had with the band’s music. While it came as a shock and the sources were initially sketchy, the band’s recent decision to pull out of their European tour seems to all but confirm Boucher’s guilt. While the Reddit threads and Facebook comments continue to debate, I did a bit of reflection on Sorority Noise’s old music. Similar to looking back at old Louis C.K. routines and seeing some signs, I revisited Forgettable, the band’s debut. While the music doesn’t really stray too far from the standard fodder for pop punk lyrics, there are definitely some cringe-worthy moments that make Boucher’s “good duded” nature much darker. Where latter Sorority Noise albums would involve more reflection on depression, death, and addiction, Forgettable is the pop-punk cliché of an album about girls, and it wreaks of a certain brand of emotional male entitlement. Like revisiting early Brand New albums, there’s certain signs that spring up that make the album uncomfortable. Some are benign: “I thought I’d grow out my hair/to see if you’d notice.” Others are cringe-worthy: “Tell me again that you don’t wanna break my heart/and I’ll tell you again that it’s already broken.” Others are creepy: “I wrote you a book of poems, but you forgot to take it home.” Then we get to the “Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis” moment. “MvMvE” is a Brand New song that graphically describes going to a bar with the sole intention to rape. It was a popular Brand New song, but it also became a song that was dissected thoroughly when accusations came out against Jesse Lacey. (Ironically, Sorority Noise also covered this song). The “MvMvE” moment comes in “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs.” A song that it’s best is a somewhat embarrassing yet simple description of depression. At its worst, there are a few signs of abusive behavior. It’s a song where Boucher threatens to kill himself over someone breaking up with him: textbook abusive behavior.
For clarity, I don’t want to think “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs” was a real event that happened. I like to think Boucher got dumped, said, “okay,” and went home and wrote the song, but listening to it now brings out the same gross feeling when listening to “Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis.” It’s left me feeling disillusioned by a scene that I want to feel like I belong to without feeling complicit by supporting and relating to shitty guys. It’s a disgusting amount of entitlement that so many guys can write songs that really put things right in front of our faces then the songs become anthems.
So this week I listened to Forgettable. At first, I didn’t know why. Was this supposed to be a final listen before kicking the band to the curb? Was it some sort of macabre curiosity: the same reason people had to read into early Brand New records or why people listen to Charles Manson’s album? I think it was partially both of those things. I had to wonder why I didn’t suspect something like this before. This sort of thing has left me further detached from a scene I was already losing a grip on.
I’m left hoping that the accusations against Boucher aren’t true; it’s similar to how so many of us wished that so many accusations that come out weren’t true. No one deserves to go through what so many victims have gone through. Regardless, re-listening to Forgettable made me realize that even some of the people that seem like strong advocates for the right thing can still have some toxic and abusive tendencies that bleed through in their work, and if pop-punk wants to evolve in the right direction, the scene needs to abandon so many of their old tendencies.
:: Nicki Minaj ::
Alex Killian, Foster City, California
This week has been all about women rappers and I am living for it. Cardi B dropped her album Invasion of Privacy last Friday and we were blessed with two new singles by Nicki Minaj as well. Cardi’s album is more than solid, but it’s Nicki’s return that I’ve been on about and I’ve had both “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li” bumping all day. It’s tough to pick a favorite since they’re very different in both flow and beat, but I think “Barbie Tingz” is the more club-friendly banger. The beat is unpredictable and super fresh, with Nicki’s rhymes flowing smoothly and confidently on top. “Chun-Li” is definitely more of a sleeper, with a darker beat and vibe overall. Both showcase Nicki’s versatile flow and style, with that sly, clever wit she turns into a ruthless vibe on a dime. Honestly, I feel like both these singles not only further solidify Nicki’s position in the rap game, but also have the ability to convert previous non-Nicki believers and hold wide radio potential. They’re definitely some of my favorite singles by Nicki thus far and have me more than a little hype for her imminent album.
:: “1950” – King Princess ::
Kelly Wynne, Chicago
King Princess’s debut single “1950” is a song of unrequited love and how it relates to the LGBTQ+ community in the 1950s. Back then, they were unfairly subjected to unrequited love because they did not feel safe to express their feelings. The song seamlessly weaves this timeless heartbreaking feeling together in a manner that shows how unfair it can be to love and not be loved back; especially if you don’t have the freedom to express that love, never knowing, always wondering, what could have been. The lyrics and the message are one thing, but King Princess’s delicate, fierce voice matched with the melody will be stuck in your head all day, tempting a second, third and fourth playback.
:: Georgi Kay ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
Georgi Kay‘s aura is intoxicating: Currently based in Los Angeles, the British-Australian artist seems to have found the perfect balance between intimate and expansive. Her brand new single “Lone Wolf” has proven a salient point of entry into an artistry that indulges in deeper subjects without skimping on sound and flow: As starkly cold as it is invitingly warm, “Lone Wolf” is a brooding, introspective dream. Kay describes it as “accepting the fact that no matter how many good people you have in your life, they will never truly know and understand you as deeply and as intimately as you know and understand yourself. What’s so funny and oddly comforting about this truth, this realization, is that we have all felt this way or are feeling it right now.” She’s got a point: Who knows us better than we know ourselves? It’s the reemergence of our teenage angst, but this time, it’s here to stay: One cloud that will never fully lift, no matter how sunny the skies are. Kay’s 2017 singles “Scary People” and “Guilty Pleasures” are not nearly as beautiful nor as lilting as “Lone Wolf;” rather, they employ elements of EDM, house music and more to create bombastic dark pop anthems, a tone and timbre much closer to Kay’s 2016 debut EP than her 2018 single. If the subtle tonalities and ethereal soundscapes of “Lone Wolf” are any indication of the direction down which Georgi Kay is headed, then there is no doubt in my mind that she will become a mainstay of my 2018.
:: “Pristine” – Snail Mail ::
Nicole Almeida, Philadelphia
I’m in love with all things Snail Mail, and have been since I discovered her debut EP Habit in 2017. She’s so impressive, definitely wise beyond her years, and her guitar playing is exceptional. Since her first EP, which was written when she was 15, she’s gone on to amass a huge online following and signed with Matador. Important to note she is only 18 at the moment, which is even more impressive. “Pristine” is the lead single off her debut album Lush, set for release in June. It’s simultaneously a great introduction to and incredible development of Snail Mail’s sound, with emotional and beautifully raw lyrics and her signature guitar riffs. I could write about it a lot, but I don’t think it’d do the song as much justice as you listening to it, it’s really something special. I love her very very much, and am counting down the days for her record.
:: “High Five” – Sigrid ::
Kelly McCafferty, New Orleans
Starting with subtle beats and Sigrid sharp and clear voice, “High Five” immediately grabs your attention. The verse slowly builds to an exploding chorus, the ultimate feel-good moment of the song,
Oh, everybody loves a show
Lights on, they all go home
You won’t let anybody close
That high five is all you got
Ooh, they keep saying you’re the best
You ask and they say, “Yeah”
Ooh, when you add up all that’s left
That high five is all you got”
“High Five” observes those people in your life who are power hungry, who seem like they have it all, but ultimately because of the way they treat people beneath them and even surrounding them, they end up alone. It’s the anthem for the little guys, that know that having people around you that you can trust and love is more important than power and status. The musical cues and the melody of this anthem will have it stuck in your head all day – it’s been on repeat for me all week.
:: “Jet” – Citizen ::
Kelly Wynne, Chicago
This dark alternative track reminds me of my early days in the alternative genre. It’s got odes to heavier emo tracks, ones that really touch a sadness in your soul. It’s all found in sound, something current, yet nostalgic. It’s an easy track to get lost in, one with an uneasy lyrical line. In today’s rock scene, it’s similar to heavy/smooth band Manchester Orchestra in the dramatic tension evoking emotional release. It’s a track to enjoy, to experience, and a band, formed nearly 10 years ago, but ready to be watched.
:: Highly Suspect ::
Christine Costello, Limerick, Ireland
In the midst of my Coachella FOMO last weekend, I found myself addicted to the YouTube Livestream. One set in particular caught my interest, one of the any filler bands between main acts that very rarely get the attention they deserve, buried under the hype of big headline names like Beyoncé and The Weeknd. Brooklyn rockers, Highly Suspect, took to the stage on the Sunday of Coachella. Their influences were obvious from the first few opening chords; the heavy, unpolished rock of Royal Blood to the cynical songwriting of the likes of Twenty-One PIlots and even the Pixies. An intriguing mix of lively on-stage performance and bleak, honest lyrics. One of the few bands that resonated with me from the sets I saw, as I immediately took to Spotify and downloaded their tracks, ‘Serotonia’ and ‘My Name is Human’, both worth a listen. Highly Suspect are definitely an acquired taste, but if your music taste follows somewhere along the lines of The Pixies, Radiohead and Queens of the Stone Age, then these guys are a must-listen.
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:: This Week’s Features ::