Some of 2018’s biggest and buzziest bands came out of the woodwork this week, particularly Snail Mail, who dropped a new single and album announcement, and Sunflower Bean, who released their sophomore record, Twentytwo in Blue, on Friday. Scroll to read Paste’s features on both, and an interview with another young band poised for greatness, Shame. In the studio, we hosted artists young and old — like really old — and reviewed the best new albums and singles. Here’s everything you need to know about the past week in music.
Marybeth D’Amico: Great and Solemn Wild Review
Marybeth D’Amico’s final album Great and Solemn Wild exists almost like a mirror image of the most recent Mount Eerie releases. Released quietly late last year thanks to a crowdfunding effort led by the artist’s friend Pat Byrne, this record of raw folk songs was informed by the cancer that took her life in 2015. Recorded to a two-track tape player in her New Jersey home, the nine songs captured here were meant only to be demos, skeletons to be fleshed out by a studio effort when her strength returned. When it became clear that the opposite was going to happen, D’Amico and Byrne decided to take inspiration from other home-recorded masterpieces like Nebraska (she covers “Reason To Believe” from this album) and Roseanne Cash’s 10 Song Demo and release this rough-hewn recording as is. —Robert Ham
Sunflower Bean: Twentytwo in Blue
You can hear the confidence radiating from opening track “Burn It,” which swaggers in a classic-rock style as Julia Cumming sings about the constant of change, as well as the title track, with its overcast vibe and gently gorgeous melody. “Independent, that’s how you view yourself now that you’re 22,” Cumming sings, sounding at once graceful and stronger than ever. —Ben Salmon
Preoccupations: New Material
Preoccupations kick things off on a decidedly ‘80s note with “Espionage,” the synths, skeletal beat, and Matt Flegel’s dramatic vocals sounding like a twisted, bleaker version of Depeche Mode. It’s dark and grinding, but still so danceable it could be an alternate soundtrack the scene in The Breakfast Club where they’re all gettin’ down—cue Judd Nelson hanging off of that weird hand statue thing. On “Decompose,” the unrelenting, singular beat from Mike Wallace’s drums and the solitary, swiped chord of some kind of eastern harp are softened by Flegel’s pointedly dreamy vocals, the only relief from the cyclical, driving rhythm getting beaten in to your skull. Sonically, “Disarray” takes a nod or two from the “Disorder” version of Joy Division. Lyrically, it’s a study in harnessing the chaos and discord of life, while acknowledging the futility of doing so. Flegel sings the title over and over, making a pattern of a word whose definition means exactly the opposite. —Madison Desler
Snail Mail: ‘Pristine’
“Pristine” continues the personal, intimate feel of Snail Mail’s first EP, Habit, which was written in Jordan’s suburban Maryland bedroom. But “Pristine” aims a bit higher, with soaring choruses and crisp guitars crafting a shimmering backdrop for Jordan’s musings on young love. “Don’t you like me for me?” she sings. “I know myself, I’ll never love anyone else.” —Loren DiBlasi
Video Age: ‘Hold On (I Was Wrong)’
First Pop Therapy single “Hold On (I Was Wrong)” is a regret-fueled dance track, with Ross Farbe’s melancholic lyrics riding the wave of bouncing, bubbling synths. “Tonight I’m on my own / Thinking how I done you wrong,” he sings. A slinky beat and glittering flourishes make the song equal parts futuristic and nostalgic. —Loren DiBlasi
This is the Kit: ‘By My Demon Eye (First Go)
In 2017, This Is the Kit released Moonshine Freeze, a keen, intimate collection of minimal folk. Prior to the album sessions, songwriter Kate Stables, who helms the project, recorded four bare, acoustic versions of four Moonshine Freeze songs. Previously unheard, those four songs will soon be released as Moonshine First Goes, out March 30. “It was a time of finishing off songs, working out arrangements and looking for drum patterns in preparation for burying ourselves in the studio to get the album recorded,” Stables says. “I like hearing these early versions again. It totally takes me back to that time and those places.. Formative times.” —Loren DiBlasi
Soren Bryce brought her soaring indie rock to the Paste studio this week. Bryce, recently dropped by her label, discussed her current artistic transition, and played three songs: two brand new ones and an old favorite.
Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery stopped by in advance of his new record, Sweet Decay. He played four songs, including earnest new single “Chicago,” written after a wild night in the Windy City.
The Oak Ridge Boys
It’s rare that our studio hosts a band that’s existed for for almost 7 decades — okay, that literally never happens. Except this week, when country and gospel group The Oak Ridge Boys treated us to some of their glorious harmonies.
Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan Is Still Doing It For Herself
On June 8, Snail Mail—which is Lindsey Jordan’s brainchild but performs as a quartet—will release their debut album, Lush, via Matador. Now out of high school and pursuing music full time, Jordan still isn’t sure about all the attention, but she’s definitely sure of herself. In her recent interview with Paste, she spoke honestly about recording Lush, her identity as an openly gay woman, and how she’s changed her approach to making music now that so many people are listening. Despite the hype—which she admits has forced her to “grow up” and sometimes puts her in a “really weird place”—she is smart, capable and fully in control. “I didn’t care if anybody heard [my music] before,” she said. “Now I don’t really care how people take it, but I do care what I feel about the music that I’m putting out.” —Loren DiBlasi
Sunflower Bean on Youth Culture, the Future of Rock, and Why Everything Isn’t Spotify’s Fault
Even if Julia Cumming is having trouble summing up the moment she’s living through just now, she and her bandmates have drawn a decent sketch of it on their sophomore album Twentytwo in Blue, which is out March 23. (The title references the fact that Cumming, Kivlen and Faber have all, by now, turned 22.) “Crisis Fest,” a Thin Lizzy-ish anthem, is the album’s youthful rallying cry, touching on student debt and, in general, the anxious times we’re all living in, where “every day is a missile test.” It’s about what it’s like to be young in this political and economic climate. —Beverly Bryan
Can a Great Young Band Survive the Industry in 2018?
Since releasing their debut LP, Songs of Praise, back in January, British post-punk quintet Shame have rapidly emerged as one of the most buzzed-about young bands in the world. Words like “angry,” “energetic” and “explosive” have been thrown around in discussions of their music. Paste’s Madison Desler extolled the group’s “tightly-wound, jittery guitars, mile-a-minute hi-hat and exquisite bleakness.” The adjectives don’t really do them justice. A contagious energy courses through Songs of Praise tracks like “Concrete” and “Gold Hole,” but Shame really have to be experienced live—at full volume, and with ringleader Charlie Steen lurking around the stage, smiling, shirtless and dripping with sweat, often balancing the mic stand on his shoulders or crowd surfing while bellowing to devout fans. —Lizzie Mano