Spill! interview with Philadelphia's littler: limited cassette EP "get a life" (number4door) out now!

Littler photo by Amy June Breesman, (www.amyjunebreesman.com)

The repetition on the twangy opening guitar riff of littler's addictive single track "College Legs," takes a pause on the beat, and all at once, the rest of the song smashes into the room it fills with a wild and explosive, bratty style, that ebbs in fits and bursts of jarring rock'n'roll. The band's crunchy sound and mixture of garage and punk is addictive, the writing is catchy and clear, and lead singer and guitarist Madeline Meyer's vocals easily slide between quiet and harmonius to a dark and deep menacing growl ("College Legs," and "Sleeptalk") or squeal ("Didn't Ask") to match moods for each song on the band's debut EP, "get a life."

Released in cassette format on Glaswegian independent label Number4Door (also home to past releases with Amanda X, Coasting, and Mannequin Pussy, among others) and limited to 50, the cassette and online versions feature artwork by local artist and musician Perry Shall (Hound) who used the band's songs as the inspiration behind the fun, colorful, and strangely menacing design that fits the EP's temperament. While "Demigod" explores reacting to a person with an inflated sense of self, "You're a big shot, a demigod, you're a big shot, and you know it," need and emotion split hairs on "Sleeptalk," a reflection on telling the person you love your secrets while they sleep (or, keeping them awake for selfish reasons.... mostly because you can't sleep yourself). We loved the ideas behind the lyrics on "Bedroom Culture": who do you invite into your bedroom, what kind of person are you when you are alone, who do you show this 'personal' side of yourself to, or do you keep it all to yourself? The songs on the EP show both a mixture of spirited youth and tongue-in-cheek self-preservation with a score to match. 

Along with singer and guitarist Meyer, the band features Dan Colanduno (Slow Animal) on guitar and vocals, Ivy Gray-Klein on bass, and Robyn Campbell on drums. They have played just over a handful of shows in the city, and we hope to see more of them soon. In the meantime - order their new cassette EP at the Number4Door website (oooh, fancy; European!) or the band will also have some available at upcoming shows or through their bandcamp (soon).

Girl About Town: Your new EP just went live last Monday on your bandcamp, and in cassette format on Number4Door (a label based out of Glasgow in Scotland). Number4Door has also released cassettes by Amanda X, Coasting, Mannequin Pussy (and more). How did you get to know the label and is it a limited release?

MM: I think the label heard about us through the website The Le Sigh who had done some of our earliest reviews and I had just started writing for. Gus (Number4door is just one guy) approached us, and I knew about his work with Amanda X and Toxie and was really excited to work with him. So far it's just 50 tapes but depending on how it does, we'll see if we want to do a second release.

How did the members of littler meet?

MM: Ivy and I met at a summer writing program in New York in high school. We somehow maintained contact despite her living in Maine and me in Los Angeles.

IGK: Dan was actually one of the first people I met when I moved to Philly for college.

DC: We met because I contacted her online in an attempt to get into a college show that was exclusive to college students and their guests. Ivy responded (despite the fact that my Facebook picture was a screenshot of Brad Pitt) and was able to get me in the show.

MM: A few years later, I was attending college in Ohio and had a show in my house that Dan was supposed to play with his other band, Slow Animal. Ivy had sent me a text earlier that day saying that they were friends and Dan and I had to hang. The cops showed up and they never played but it's okay because we date now. I moved to Philly a year later and met Robyn through my old roommate Rachel. Robyn was wearing this great shirt (which I now know she refers to her as her "L.A. Shirt") and I just knew if we were going to be friends that I was doomed to not dress better than her.

RC: I remember hearing her talk about covering "Flagpole Sitta" and was like, damn, that lady's cool (in my head). (I don't know if I ever told her that.) But anyway, a few months after that we ran into each other and somehow the subject of me playing drums came up. I was still pretty self-conscious about it at the time because I think maybe like one person had ever heard me play before, but Madeline and Dan both had this "I'm sure you're great" attitude that was pretty encouraging. They’d already been playing with Ivy so things just kind of fell into place.

How long did it take to record the EP and write the songs? Was there a specific sound that you were looking for in this recording?

DC: The recording process was done in pieces. We tracked all of the drums in a day. Then we went back and added the other parts whenever we had free time.

MM: I think it probably took two months to write, record, and mix the EP? We're all new to this so I think when we first started I was just so excited to be making music that I wasn't all that critical of what it was. By the time we made "Get a Life," I was like, okay, I want this to be a little faster and a little more raw. Also, a lot of music I listen to has ladies with really nice, high voices. Mine isn't like that and I think it took me a while to be comfortable with it, but this tape was a good exploration of leaning into it.

Bands can be partial to the type of gear they're using. What instruments does the band drool over, or what do you love about what you're using now in how it helps you to achieve your sound?

DC: We like Fender Strats and the twang that comes with it. As far as everything else, we kind of just take what we can get. We currently are using a crossbreed of mine and Robyn's drums. I still use my dad's Japanese knockoff Les Paul guitar. I also have a cheap Peavey combo amp that I bought from someone on Craigslist, but it sounds fantastic. But gear is overrated. Any instrument can sound good if you play it the right way, or if the sound of it compliments the songs you write. (if you have a shitty guitar, write a song that's favorable to a shitty guitar; Mac Demarco made it work.)

IGK: I started playing righty on a hand-me-down bass, but after some self-reflection, I quickly realized that was just never gonna happen or else my brain might melt. So my Danelectro is the first bass I bought, but it's been a very loving dynamic. I still feel really indebted to certain peers of mine for helping me embrace my left-handed-ness. Though I haven't been playing music for a long time, I'm so grateful for all the support I've received thus far.

What was the band's favorite song to record for the EP and what makes it so special?

RC: I think I'd have to say "Sleeptalk" was my favorite for a couple of reasons. It wasn't completely finished when Dan recorded me on drums, so I feel like there were still some questions about how it would sound exactly; but the general idea was there. We talked about it and basically were like "we want it to sound like this" and just tried something out. Not to be like, "oh, we're such free spirits!" or anything -- I'm sure bands do that all the time. But I had never recorded anything before so it felt weird and cool to not have all the details.

Actually, I remember being concerned that it was going to sound too surfy. But it doesn't! Hearing it all together once everyone finished recording made me so happy because it was like this unexpected little gold nugget that I really liked.

"Sleeptalk" was also the most challenging song for me as someone who's relatively new to drumming. I tend to tell myself I can't play something if I think it's too complicated, which is a terrible attitude to have but very real. I'm getting more and more comfortable, but at the time it was a little intimidating, so it felt really satisfying to push myself and see results.

MM: I think my favorite song to record and write was "Didn't Ask." I'm still new to writing lyrics, creating melodies, and arranging things and this was one of the first times that it just flowed super naturally. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I'd just read this article on the lack of narratives surrounding female hitchhikers and was really just thinking out loud. That and the recording process felt really organic, like it was just intuitive. Art isn't always like that for me.

IGK: I don't know if I have a favorite per se, but I am consistently in awe of Madeline's lyrics. Whenever she shows us new stuff she's written I think of that scene in "Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains" when that teenage girl describes the titular band as, "[Saying] things I've always wanted to say and I haven't been able to." Which is to say, it feels really special to be playing with musicians I admire and to be able to help propel this collective message.

What has been the most positive thing about the local scene for your band?

RC: In general, I'd say support and encouragement. I wasn't around for First Time's the Charm, but the fact that any band can get its start in an environment like that, where PhilaMOCA is completely packed with people who are so excited to watch new musicians and clap even when they fuck up, is incredible. Along the same lines, the DIYPHL PA share (which they used the FTTC money for) is, like, one of the best ideas ever. Ten bucks is such a small price to pay to have this thing at your disposal. Now anyone can put on a show! That's so cool! It's important for a scene to strive for accessibility and inclusiveness. And it's kind of an endless process but I think Philly is working on it. In Littler's case specifically, since 3/4 of us are new to our instruments, it's nice to be around people who are rooting for us rather than saying "get the fuck out of here, shoobies!"

MM: Yeah, for those of you out there that don't know, we got our start at First Time's the Charm, a year ago, which was a show curated to include people new to their instruments/new to a band and prioritizing women, people of color, and trans and queer individuals. It says a lot that our inception is immersed in our community and the opportunities they've given us. Thanks guys!

What's next for littler?

IGK: We're debuting a new track on a forthcoming compilation by The Le Sigh, which should be a really neat collective of bands.

MM: We just want to get back to writing new songs and playing shows! Obviously we're so excited to have this EP out but it'll just be nice to move forward and keep doing things. We’d also love to be able to figure out a tour in the future but y’know who knows?

Littler - bandcamp / number4door / facebook

Spill! Interview with Positive No's Tracy Wilson and Kenneth Close (Negative Fun subscription series + Little Black Cloud, Teargas Rock, Fall Line Fest and more)

This past week was the culmination of all the hard work that Positive No's guitarist Kenneth Close and vocalist Tracy Wilson put into Richmond, Virginia's Fall Line Fest (both have been part of the planning committee), but, helping to put together the details of a two-day festival is just one aspect of the duo's nature. Positive No are part of a larger, homegrown scene, supporting other Richmond artists in the process through their community work, and outsiders through Tracy's record label.

No's Wilson runs Richmond-based independent label Little Black Cloud which has been around since 2007, and at the end of August celebrated the label's eleventh release, with a 12" for hardcore band, Teargas Rock (ex-Born Against/Life's Blood), and a special release of a 7" for their own band on the independent label, Negative Fun out of Raleigh, NC. Positive No's Negative Fun release is part of an exclusive 'Subscription Series' launch for 2014 which began in June and has so far released singles by Bad Daddies, and Midnight Plus One, as well. 

The hardcore and punk background and 'do it yourself' aesthetic is just one more embracing side of a band that boasts its lead singer from early 90s post-hardcore band Dahlia Seed (NY/NJ), and recent-post, electronically-induced Ringfinger. We first met Positive No when they came to play a show in Philadelphia. After attending their intense performance, and listening to their first EP, "Via Florum," we have become a huge fan of the group's solid post-rock sound. The band's EP, Via Florum, was recorded this past year with J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Office of Future Plans) at his studio, Magpie Cage, in Baltimore, where the band plans to also record a full LP later this year and early next - to be released in early 2015. As running a record label and being in a band have been Wilson's raison d'être, we thought we would start with a Little Black Cloud:

Girl About Town: Tracy, is starting a label, something that you would recommend?

Wilson: "Nooo. It's pretty much about being super anal retentive and doing things efficiently. There's nothing about putting out a record that's ever absolute... there are always a hundred hurdles whether it's financially, checking up with pressing plants because with Record Store Day they are more behind than ever, and meeting timelines. [Actually] Teargas Rocks played a weekend worth of dates without records, and meanwhile they were playing these shows to celebrate the release of this record. It's kind of my worst nightmare. Though, if you have absolutely no pressure on yourself to do things in a timely or successful manner, you should absolutely have your own record label. While it's very empowering and exciting to have it all in your hands, it's also a financial burden and stress that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy."

Something that you can really appreciate in working with Negative Fun as another independent label?

Wilson: "Absolutely! I think in general, I'm always in awe of anybody who likes the music I'm a part of enough to want to release it. It's such a huge compliment that anybody would want to invest the time and energy and money and to put out something that someone else is doing, and Chris [DeFusco] is really one of the nicest guys on the planet to make that. I haven't met his other partner, but I can only assume that he is also as fantastic as Chris is. It's such a relief to have a time out, not have it in my hands, and to actually be able to think about making the music, and not pressing plans, cover art, and the inserts. For once, it's just about the music, which is a really big treat, and then to have Chris be such a super-swell, guy, is just really cool."

How did you meet Chris?

Kenneth Close: "God! Twitter? [laughter]

Chris knew a friend of ours from Richmond named PJ Sykes whose band, Hoax Hunters was working with Negative Fun to put out their full length. I want to say that Chris was looking to do the singles club and PJ [Sykes of HH] had given him a couple of recommendations of bands in town, that he might want to work with...which is how our name came up and how Hot Dolphin came up (They also have a single coming out through the subscription). Chris had bought our EP, he had posted about it...through Twitter, through his blog and stuff, so we kind of got to know him through that."

Wilson: "It's crazy that, really, social media (in a lot of ways), introduced us to some amazing people: like yourself."

I definitely feel really fortunate that we had the chance to meet and connect online and then in person. Positive No has fast become a favorite of mine. It's really great that Negative Fun is putting this together - as such a large undertaking, there is definitely a lot of work that's gone into it. Are the two songs that you have for the 7" the last of the 'older' material that you'll be using before the new album?

Close: "I guess it depends on how you define 'old'… the new album will be comprised of material that were in the first batch of songs written that didn't end up on Via Florum, and a few more older songs of Tracy's that we think are going to fit in. Some nice, kind of slower, quieter, songs that we didn't really have... darker tracks. For the most part, probably half the record that was written over the course of the last year, and the other half has just started rolling over the past couple of months."

Positive No playing Safety Meeting in Philadelphia earlier this year.
Photo credit: Daniel Imperiale.

Positive No was hoping to have the album finished for late this year, but due to a few member changes (a new bassist and drummer are being brought up to date) have been very busy indeed. Close elaborates, "We're definitely 2015 now. We might get it recorded in this calendar year, but... Yeah, I think...any time you change a member out, you want to play a lot of shows, you work a frightening amount of hours if you have a job....I just thought we would be a lot further ahead by now... I think there was a bit of, not necessarily writer's block, just that, the songs that we were coming up with were....." and, in true couple-style, Wilson finishes Close's thoughts on the delay, "We were very careful in the songwriting for this.... I mean, it's come quickly - but not so quickly that we had twelve or fourteen songs written in one month... it's definitely taken six or seven months of really fine-tuning things, especially with new member - having him fit into the way we write that made sense for him, and vice versa. Then just to be able to afford to record is difficult because the label [Little Black Cloud] is 'me.' I'm barely breaking even most of the time, so to also be able to pay for vinyl and recording is hard."

For Positive No's 7" release party with Teargas Rock, they played at an alternative venue called Black Iris. Close told us a little bit about this historic local venue and artist-run business.

Kenneth Close: "They write songs for... I don't want to say commercials - it's a lot more than that. It's actually a bunch of musicians from a bunch of different bands from the 90s and early 2000s that started their own music production house. It's a three-storey building and on the bottom floor there's a gallery and a performance space."


As well as being on the creative team for this year's Fall Line Festival (in its second year running), guitarist Kenneth Close is also the one behind Positive No's design work when it comes to band-related ephemera. Close was keeping the design for the 7" under wraps right down to the wire this past month but, we were assured, had it well in hand. The two new tracks released on the 7", "Automatic Cars" b/w "Slumber Sequence," are essential and strong tracks on their own, but each with unique differences. The A-side for Automatic Cars is absolutely the strongest vocal from Wilson, with a forceful growl that slides into Wilson's tremendous and husky vocals on the chorus. The guitar work is the light against a heavyset bass line and a sonic background of noise, and the breakdowns at both :40 and 1:40 with only vocals and drums are terrifically set. Tracy Wilson tells us more about both songs, below:

What was the feeling that you wanted to evoke, both with the songs and the look of the cover?

Wilson: "Well, I guess I'll start with the songs, which is kind of an interesting turn of events. It started with my Ringfinger record. I had this little Zoom RT-123 drum machine and I had written a bunch of demos that included "Automatic Cars." It didn't fit in with any of the other material, it was too...'rock sounding,' and in my head, I envisioned a sort of....like...noisy...Fugazi...kind of thing. It just didn't really work with my more 'electronic' record. I always hoped that the song would have another life, and amazingly when we brought it to practice, it ended up actually working.

The B-side, "Slumber Sequence," is...from the...early...90s? I think? I had never really had a lot of confidence as a songwriter when I first started learning how to play guitar, and it was right around the time that Dahlia Seed was happening. There were probably fifteen songs that I never did anything with and I was too shy to really bring them to the band back in the day. A few years ago while we were in the process of moving into our new house, we found a bunch of my old cassettes. We were slowly going through some of the tapes and a few songs sort of...captured our interest again. Kenny was like, 'I don't know why you never did anything with these; we should try to rework a few of them.'

These songs were recorded on my answering machine as I didn't have a four-track at the time. I would shove a guitar pick in the 'record' section so it didn't stop and then I recorded the song that way. The end result is that we had this truly terrible cassette versions of the song to try to work off of. Bringing this song back to life was sort of like rebuilding a faded puzzle out of new parts.

Lyrically "Slumber Sequence" is probably one the few songs that I've gotten abstractly political about and my disinterest in 'big box' religion telling people how to live their lives, especially with gay marriage being such a huge topic over the last couple of years. Virginia keeps wobbling back and forth between almost passing the marriage law and then rescinding their decision. It's been really frustrating when we have so many wonderful gay friends who would love to get married as well as have access to their partner's health care or insurance plans. It is so sad that that this equality still isn't available to everyone in our country.

That's a really long-winded answer!" [laughter]

Are these songs more indicative of what is coming for the new album? Your vocals on the A-side, especially - as they lean toward a growl, showing your Dahlia Seed background coming through. Was it a throwback to this original material being from so long ago - and was this your intention, or did you push yourself to get this sound and make it heavier?

Wilson: "I think, recording Via Florum, I was coming out of a decade of recording in an apartment building, and having to be really self-aware of how loud I was being. I did not want to bother my neighbors so all of my Ringfinger record is very hushed. In Dahlia Seed I sung very loudly but I definitely went to this very quiet head voice when I began making music again at home. It wasn't until we started playing live again that I could certainly rediscover the loud voice that I had lost in the decade since. Then after my accident from several years ago (being hit by a car), it affected how I heard sounds in my head and the volume of sounds I could be exposed to. In general, being loud was not really an option when we first started the band, and then as I healed, and could handle more loud volume, I, myself, became louder too. It was a process that included rediscovering my old voice and getting my strength back from the accident.

I'll let Kenny talk about the art for the 45 that we didn't get to, because we kind of skipped over you! Basically, these songs are just a hint of what's to come on the full length."

Close: "Artwork-wise, I think you'll see... It's clearly by me. I think there are some pretty typical views that I tend to incorporate in a lot of the artwork that I do, but it's almost the exact opposite of Via Florum. It was what we wanted to do, and needed to do for two songs that didn't really feel like they fit on the EP. I had an idea to make it super-duper complex, and it just wasn't going to be as interesting as I thought it was on the front-end so I diverted back to the original idea which was a simple take on lyrics from Automatic Cars."

Wilson: "I don't even know what it's going to be - I haven't seen the final version quite yet."

So does Kenny usually keep his artwork for the band secret from you?

Wilson: "No...I get brought in during stages to see if he is on the right path. We weirdly have such a similar visual goal that I just kind of let him do his thing."

Close: "I like to bring Tracy and the others in just to make sure that they don't feel like it's out of left-field or completely off as it's being worked on.  For the most part, the constructive criticism results in a better end product, so I appreciate the contributions that the band makes. Typically, I think they let me 'roll with it.'"

Wilson: "I think it's really special to have a band situation where we get to be creative on two levels. I know that other bands might not be as fortunate to have the fine artist-type in the band, so it's really amazing to be able to make these sounds together and then Kenny can also create visuals exactly the way we'd hoped them to be. I know for record-buying people like myself, large cover art is really important, so to have somebody to be able to bring that vision to life within our own band is an honor."

You recorded Via Florum at Magpie Cage with J. Robbins. I am a Jawbox fan from back in the day - I would see them every time they came through Detroit. Are you working with J. again?

Close: "Yeah. The goal would be to record with J. again. That was a 'pretty' big deal... we're the same way, and can't believe that we're working with the guy from Jawbox, and he's still writing these really cool songs..."

Wilson: "J. is a 'pretty' big deal at our house too..."

Jawbox's "Dreamless" is easily still one of my favorite songs.

Wilson: "We didn't have to explain anything to him. I worked with him for Ringfinger plus I've known J. since basically high school. We have run into each other for years through music and have remained friendly over the years but you just don't know how that's going to work in the studio. I enjoyed working with him so much when I did the vocals for Ringfinger, that I kind of pitched the idea of trying to do Via Florum with him. It was really comfortable. It's so nice to not have to explain what you're trying to go for and J. got it immediately. He seemed as giddy as we were as we started to record and it feels really nice to have somebody you look up to be super excited about your recording process in a way that didn't seem like he was in it to earn his day's money with us. He was a really valuable, creative force in the whole process."

It's great that you'll get to work with him again. I'm sure you're really excited about that.

Wilson: "Hopefully January, is what we're trying to aim for, it's all about saving our pennies to make that happen."

Close: "Yeah, we worked pretty freakin' hard this year to pay off the last recording, which I think we are literally a show away from doing."

Wilson: "We have the new t-shirts ready too. Every little bit helps."

Close at Merge Fest 2014 (above) showing off his handiwork!
Photo by C. Marcoux inside Carrboro's beloved Cat's Cradle venue.

I loved the concept that you had for the Kim Gordon-inspired, "GIRLS INVENTED PUNK ROCK NOT ENGLAND" t-shirt that you have for sale on Little Black Cloud's label store to help raise funds. It's such a perfect inspiration in format to help you get your project closer to where you want it to be.

Wilson: "People also love stuff that doesn't necessarily have to do with 'the band,' which is kind of funny too."

When I received mine, I also loved that it came with a document talking about the inspiration behind the shirt, and why you decided to sell this particular idea. It is a really engaging merch and business idea, and I think it's a real blessing when you can mix the two - even when one isn't necessarily directly related to the other... speaking of mixing the two, that reminds me that you are both involved in the committee for Richmond's Fall Line Festival. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement there?

Wilson: "I'm on the board and I'm also on the booking committee, as well as the logistics team."

How long has Fall Line Fest been around for?

Wilson: "This was our second year. We really wanted to create a festival that reminded people what a special city we have when it comes to the music, art, and food community. The two day event also follows the footprint of our First Friday art walk."

As we closed out our hour long chat with the duo, Tracy took a moment with me to note that she is having so much fun, and the end result, the end reason for doing anything at all has always been, and will always be, the music, and that without the support of fellow musicians and artists they would not be doing what they were doing with such success. She is thankful for that, and humble. Take a listen to Positive No's Via Florum EP and you'll hear it too: even though Richmond wasn't her home town growing up, you can tell that she's made it into her home, with references from the historical to the political; a surprise, support, or a friend is always around the corner.

Positive No
- band site / little black cloud / negative fun / facebook

Spill! with Amanda X - new album "Amnesia" (Siltbreeze) out now! Tour dates, interview, and more.


Amanda X's new album "Amnesia" was released at the end of July on Siltbreeze Records. Although the meeting between band and label owner may not have necessarily been clandestine, the pairing was meant to be. The new album was recorded with talented super-engineer Jeff Zeigler (Uniform), who was able to help the group achieve the heavier sound that they were looking for on their new album, guitarist Cat Park went on to say, "I knew I wanted rip roarin' guitar. That's all I wanted. I didn't want the bedroom pop sound or the 'jangle.' I am well over the 'jangle.'".

The woozy guitar and vocal harmonies of opening track "Guatemala" evaporate and fume over a crushing melody and set a tone for the rest of the album, and when heavy thumping beats go on to take up the chorus behind the wail of "My heart will break!" on "Dream House," you feel it, and deeply. The bounce of "Things Fall Apart" is effortless and catchy in a singular style, with a fuzz bass line that chugs solidly, also easily making it one of the album's more 'pop' numbers even as it laments itself. Beyond the heavier rock elements of tracks like "Tunnels," "Parsnip," and "Low and Mean," there are some deeper cuts on the album, and with bittersweet roses like "Nothing Wild," "Paranoia," and the fat and chunky guitar lines of "Woke Up" the album songwriting soars. It was surprising to hear the lightness of "Friendly Tones," ending the album, but it makes sense in its context of traveling through a tunnel of relationship heartbreak, only to find that you've made it to the other side. This is an album of depth from a group that we hope to hear much more from. 

You can find Amanda X on tour this month (the band plays NY this Friday and Philadelphia this Saturday), and read more about the band and their collective experiences in the studio and on and off the road, below:

Upcoming Amanda X Tour Dates: 
FRI AUG 8 @ Death By Audio // NYC
  w/ Two-Inch Astronaut, Wing Dam, Cousin Brian
SAT AUG 9 @ PhilaMOCA // Philadelphia PA
  w/ Cassilis, Dog on Acid, Buffalo Buffalo
TUE AUG 12 @ Ace of Cups // Columbus OH
WED AUG 13 @ SoundPony // Tulsa OK
  w/ Lizard Police, Bitchcraft, The Daddy-O’s
THU AUG 14 @ Burt's Tiki // Albuquerque NM w/ Mannequin Pussy
FRI AUG 15 @ The Congress // Tucson AZ
SAT AUG 16 @ Kensington Club // San Diego CA w/ Beach Day
SUN AUG 17 @ Gal Palace for Summer Bummer // Los Angeles CA
  w/ Girlpool, Mannequin Pussy, Slutever, Tonopah (day)
SUN AUG 17 @ The Echo // Los Angeles CA
  w/ Beach Day, Crisis Arm, Airs (night)
TUE AUG 19 @ The Hemlock // San Francisco CA w/ Beach Day
WED AUG 20 @ The Nightlight // Oakland CA w/ Beach Day
FRI AUG 22 @ The Know // Portland OR w/ Beach Day
SAT AUG 23 @ The Electric Owl // Vancouver BC w/ Beach Day
SUN AUG 24 @ The Rendezvous // Seattle WA w/ Beach Day
THU AUG 28 @ Minnehaha Free Space // Minneapolis MN
FRI AUG 29 @ Fury Frat House // Chicago IL w/ Clearance
THU SEPT 11 @ Underground Arts w/ Shonen Knife, Habibi
SUN OCT 5 @ Union Transfer w/ Cloud Nothings, Tyvek

Amnesia Track Listing:
1. Guatemala
2. Dream House
3. Things Fall Apart
4. Tunnels
5. Nothing Wild
6. Parsnip
7. Low and Mean
8. Paranoia
9. Trouble
10. Woke Up
11. Friendly Tones

Girl About Town: Your new album Amnesia was released on Siltbreeze on July 28th. As well as being based locally, what has being involved with such a legendary independent like Siltbreeze meant to Amanda X?

Tiffany Yoon: Tom Lax (the man behind Siltbreeze) has been a figurehead amongst record heads in and out of Philly for over the past two decades. I make it a point to say that he is just one man, because so many people approach us saying, "what are THEY like?" or "What's it like working with THEM?" It's been incredibly informal and downright chummy working with Tom. We all go out to dinner, talk records, talk bands/shows, recipes, what's been going on, etcetera. Then here and there we talk about whatever needs to be talked about for the record and for the band.

TJ has become a real friend to all of us and we're absolutely honored to join the likes of Blues Control, Harry Pussy, Tyvek, The Yips and that killer Guided by Voices 7" "Get Out of my Stations." I feel like we're at a point where we all have a lot to learn from each other. Tom hears about newer bands from us and he shows us bands or recordings we've never heard of. Also, he is a marvelous chef and connoisseur of good eats in Philly.

Initially, I was concerned we didn't fit Siltbreeze. I knew Tom through some mutual friends but not very well, so of course I was completely flabbergasted when TJ texted me saying, "Hey Tiff, down to do an LP if you are." I dropped my phone after reading the text. We were still trying to find our own identity as a band at that point. We were getting to know one another, our instruments and our sound. Tom had faith in us, which really gave us some confidence at the early stages of the band.

Tom has been known as 'the taste maker' for years. He's brought light to obscure and sometimes weird ass bands that no one's ever heard of, and has expanded everyone's palettes along the way. So when I say I didn't know if we 'fit' Siltbreeze, it was because I didn't think we were up to the standards. On a side note, I have to admit that I've been on a huge kick with Australian bands over the past 2-3 years, so just talking with Tom about bands and music has been a real treat.

Having Tom as a supporter and friend of Amanda X has been unparalleled. He believed in us at such an early stage and has continued to support our endeavors in more ways than just the label backing. He's come out to sweaty dingy basement shows when he really doesn't need to and he's talked us up to bands that I couldn't even look in the eye if I actually met them in person. In short, It's meant a lot to all of us to have such a legend like TJ give a shit about anything we do.

What was your writing process like for "Amnesia" compared to your first EP? Was there more intention in what you were writing for the album material or was it just about having new songs?

Cat Park: I don't think we had a lot of ideas on what we wanted to sound like. I think we had more ideas on what we didn't want to sound like. I knew I wanted rip roarin' guitar. That's all I wanted. I didn't want the bedroom pop sound or the 'jangle.' I am well over the 'jangle.' I think we were just writing songs and then including or omitting them as they worked with the group we liked.

You recorded your new album with Jeff Zeigler at Uniform here in Philly. What's the most surprising cut on your new album for each of you sound-wise that came from recording with Jeff?

Cat: I think "Things Fall Apart" was the most surprising. It was the first song we wrote after "Ruin The Moment." We thought it didn't have the same aesthetic as the rest. Jeff sort of rekindled our love for it and now we play it live again.

You have a tour coming up next week. What is the most positive and negative thing that comes out of touring or playing outside of Philly for you?

Cat: We all loving meeting people. I love finding out about new bands. Exploring new places. Finding out more about Kat Bean...

What's your favorite track to play live right now and why is it a fave?

Cat: I still love playing "Parsnip." It is short and sweet and I can play that guitar part in my sleep by now. I thought it would get boring, but it never did.

Conan, Fallon, or Meyers? What's your favorite late-night television cocktail? Who would you try to talk into a beer-run post-show after party?

Cat: We don't have cable, but I've always loved Conan. We could hang hard with Conan. I think he's the most original out of the group.

Top ten 2014 summertime jams for the tour? Who controls the tour vehicle radio?

Cat: We switch off with the radio. I force them into all the pop-punk they can handle. To stay awake I dip into highschool Cat jams. Rancid, No Doubt, Dillinger Four, The Replacements, Less Than Jake, and probably Piebald. Tiff, by far the most cultured out of all of us, will put on something crazy and Kat will usually put on Enya or Pearl Jam... or Kate Bush.

Which song from Amnesia has the most challenging or conceptual content? Favorite lyric/wordplay?

Kat Bean: I don't really think we consider ourselves 'lyricists.' I see what we write musically as the machine that happens to make lyrics work. No part is more important than the other. I enjoy writing harmonies and I feel like a lot of vocal play between Cat and I is present in Amnesia. Finding that balance between all of those pieces (guitar, bass, drums and vocals) was challenging originally. We spent a lot of making this record tightening up everything which is apparent between Amnesia and our EP, Ruin the Moment. "Guatemala" and "Nothing Wild" are perfect examples of this. "Nothing Wild" is probably my favorite song on the record and I remember when Cat showed it to me for the first time and all of those harmonies popped into my head. It was so exciting.

When I sing sometimes a melody would seem to work, but would sound too obtuse or abrasive or maybe didn't have enough bite... But sometimes things like that work and that balance is very delicate, especially maintaining that when we play it live. i.e. Dream House.

Conceptually, I find Parsnip really challenging. I still cry or get teary-eyed when I play it sometimes. It was a strange time in my life - I wanted to be so giving and fresh and new for this person [who] I thought was so deserving of the World and everything good in it, and wanting to be part of their life in any capacity. In those lyrics there is a lot of hesitation and fear, but also this childlike naivety and curiosity as if even though things have been wrong before, they most certainly could never be bad again.

I feel like picking out certain lyrics as favorites is kind of strange. I see them as a whole. The context is completely dependent on the other lyrics to complete the thought. Like one side of a conversation, or just two sentences of a story - you need all the pieces to see the big picture.

With that being said, I have picked some lyrics that I am particularly partial to on the record (which consequently are my favorite songs to play and I think are both good examples):

".... and all the world around me/will close up like a book/it will fit into a tiny box/with no strings left loose" (Nothing Wild)

"I am human now/I am mortal in the most uncomfortable way/and I feel so weird/sitting and wishing you were here" (Parsnip)

Which date(s) on tour are you looking forward to the most? Why?

Cat Park: I am looking forward to Tulsa. Never thought I would say this. The Lizard Police dudes rule and there is this band The Daddy-O's that reached out to us and wanted to play with us. They're not all 21 yet, so we got Lizard Police who is booking the show to add them, but they have to play outside of the bar. On top of that, The Daddy-O's live in a warehouse (I think) and we are going to play an all ages show afterwards. It's just a lot of effort for us and I really appreciate it.

What's your favorite thing to do in Philly in the summer?

Cat: Drive out of Philly and go to the beach. I like going to Phillies games, getting water ice, and standing in the Logan Square fountain.

Amanda X
    - bandcamp / siltbreeze / summer bummerfacebook

Spill! with Old Lacy Bed (2670 Records, Japan)

Old Lacy Bed (l-r): Yumi (guitar), Meeko (guitar/vocals), Hitomi (drums), Nattsu (bass)

Old Lacy Bed are set to release their brand new EP "Little Girl" on 2670 Records out of Osaka, Japan on August 6th, 2014. This independent label is home to a limited roster of different groups from all around the world. From the sweet guitar pop of West London's Colour Me Wednesday to the grittier pop sounds of label mates Nights from Cleveland, Ohio, and to the solo efforts of Nights' lead singer Jenna Fournier (among others). Old Lacy Bed fits so well within the label's ethos, while also bringing their own brand of discordant and shimmery pop to us directly from Nagoya, Japan; a short destination that is a little over two hours away from the home-base of the label, itself.

Although Old Lacy Bed's english lyrics take turns at awkward moments, the measure and meaning of each sentiment remain on a true course - and what is 'true' pop music without meaning and sentiment? On light opener, "Little Girl," Meeko sings her favorite track about finding a childlike persona and being happy with the everyday (to make it great, and dream of 'light' things) while airy backing vocals, a bouncy bass, and an egg shaker all move to an open-pop beat. "Only Time Passes" and "Vivid" are two of the band's most dissonant pop tracks, weaving blissful high guitar notes in with Meeko's vocals and a darker sounding, and low rhythmic beat, while contrasting the darker moments with handclaps (Vivid) or in the climax of the driving melody (Only Time Passes) where Meeko's vocals practically have lift-off on the pre-chorus and chorus (it's a lovely mixture of dark to light here). The track "Coastlands" is by far our favorite, from its punchy-whistle opening all the way down to its unforgettable stuttered double-beat and 'Na-na-na-nahh' pop chorus. The understated, beautiful and almost plaintive track, "Take A Short Breath," (Old Lacy Bed's favorite track to play live) lets the album breath, and when closing track "Happy Happy Happy" comes in, it's like sunshine shimmering through curtains with its uptempo beat, while lyrics wish bittersweet ('a double dose of') happiness, loyalty, and love to an old friend that is moving on.

Cover, CD, and lyric art and design by NYLON Japan illustrator "Walnut," more here: http://walnut-illustrations.com

Little Girl Tracklisting:

01. Little Girl
02. Only Time Passes
03. Coastlands
04. Vivid
05. Take a Short Breath
06. Happy Happy Happy

Members of Old Lacy Bed took turns answering emails and offering up more context to their humble beginnings as musicians, and then, together as a group; going on to discuss their videos and the excitement of making music and recording songs for their latest EP "Little Girl". Read more, below: 

Girl About Town: Old Lacy Bed - what made you think of that name for your band, and what is the inspiration of your sound?

Meeko: The band name was meant to invoke an old lace bed and other nostalgic memories of a girl's childhood days. When we sound out the name, we take special consideration to the mood surrounding the sound. As for creating our songs, we get our inspiration from movies, books, other music, the arts, and basically anything that's creative. We think these things are indispensable when creating music.

What city do you each live in?

Meeko: Every band member lives in Nagoya. Nagoya has fewer indie bands of our genre than say Tokyo, or Osaka, so we hope to rock out even more with our music, even in Nagoya. Also, Nagoya has the world's largest Planetarium! It's always crowded, so I haven't even been once yet...ha ha!

Hitomi: Nagoya is right in the middle between Tokyo and Osaka. I went to both Tokyo and Nagoya to do live shows, it's a good place to go and see live performances!

Tell us about the band members (what instruments each of you play) and how did all of you meet?

Meeko: I sing in the band and I play guitar. When I was younger I studied piano, and in all levels at school I was in the brass band. My parents gave me an acoustic guitar for my 16th birthday, and I created an original song with it even though I didn't get a guitar's chord. The high school was by correspondence....I didn't even need to physically be there, so I started a band while working at a music store [and] every single day I was surrounded by music.

I started out going solo, but I wanted to do an all-girl band, so I began asking around in the university music circles and other fellow band members, and that's how I met the current members. Everyone is very individual, it's very interesting, we all get along really well!

Yumi: I play guitar and shakers (in Little Girl). When I wanted to perform in a band, an upperclassman in my college circle, Meeko, invited me into the band.

Nattsu: I play bass. I was introduced to the band by Yumi, and I became a member.

Hitomi: I play drums. I formed a band during college and there was an opportunity to perform together with Meeko in a live show and that was our first meeting.

How did the videos come about? Who directed them and came up with the story lines for the videos?

Meeko: The designer, Yuta Sekiyama, wanted to do that video, so he came to us with the idea and put it into action. He was the one who first discovered my music while I was still at the stage where I was just recording it at home and uploading it on the web, and he was the one who led me to become active in this band. He lives in Tokyo, so we planned out the video via Skype.

I got a whole bunch of cool ideas from him. For example, in “Little Girl” there's a scene where we all trample on glasses. When I first heard of that idea, I thought it was crazy! (smiles)

“Coastlands” was originally planned to be filmed at the beach, but it was raining on that day so we had to make extensive changes to the story. It turned out to be our best video we did, so we're glad everything worked out.

Hitomi: “Little Girl” was shot in a place called Meiji Mura and “Coastlands” was shot in a town called Osu in Nagoya. During the shooting of “Little Girl” it was so cold I thought it was going to snow, so I was shivering as we filmed. When we filmed “Coastlands” it was raining, my hair was messed up, it didn't go to plan... both of them were quite eventful. But, it is also good memories. Anyways, which member do you think was the rain bringer?!?

Where was the new album recorded, and who helped you to record it?

Meeko: We recorded our album at “Voxbox Studio” in our hometown. The reason that I had asked the sound engineer Fukai to do it [is that] he had done some recording for my previous band. We also referred to advice from Hajime of our label who also helped to conduct this recording.

What was your favorite thing about the recording process?

Meeko: I love the tension I feel when I play my guitar and do the vocals during a recording. What I am as a person up until that point is exposed for all to see, so that nervousness feels right, in fact.

Yumi: I like how when during the mixdown after the recording, all the members will discuss and decide upon the imagery of the completed song. We are usually very easygoing, but during that time the discussions become very serious and that is when I can feel their love for music!

Nattsu: It's the most exciting when during recordings, we each record from our instruments one by one, layer those sounds on top of each other, and make our music.

Hitomi: I always get anxious when we record (not being used to it), we bought heaps of candy before we went into the studio to record OLD LACY BED, I love creating a feeling of excitement like bootcamp. I play drums, so I finish my recording first, but, from then on as the music develops, I love that I can relax and watch that all go on.

Which song is your favorite song to play live? Why?

Meeko: I love to play “Little Girl” during live performances. I have a lot of emotional attachment to that song, so it means a lot to me, but it's also simple so I can be relaxed while playing it.

Yumi: I love to play “Take a Short Breath”. This one of the very few Japanese language songs our band has. It easy to follow the rhythm, and gives a happy feeling when it performed.

Nattsu: I love to play “Take a Short Breath,” too. I like how there's a combination of two guitar parts, and how the drums and the base are in perfect rhythm, so it feels really good playing those songs live.

Hitomi: It's “Little Girl”. When I joined as a support member of OLD LACY BED, it was the song I most liked when I heard the demo (at first I joined as a support member). It made the shooting of the video memorable, as usual I still like live performances the best.

Old Lacy Bed - band site / 2670 Records

Spill! GRETCHEN LOHSE on new album "Primal Rumble", and February 1st Record Release (In Store)


Gretchen Lohse's lone first full-length "Primal Rumble", released in December 2013, is a captivating album filled with a lovely writing style that prods playfully at the listener in both verse and song.  It's really wonderful to hear Lohse toe the line between light and dark so effortlessly, with an almost breathless ease as she sings each melody.  We can't help but think of Nick Drake or Simon & Garfunkel where Lohse's songs are concerned, but this certainly doesn't define her, and on our album favorite "Rings" she captures the unlimited space between her story and a song that serenades nature with such a sweetness and warmth that it makes you believe you could be there walking along with her, "a simple tune I found written in your rings", she hauntingly sings. 

The Philadelphia native is a seasoned multiinstrumentalist, arranger and talented songwriter that has featured in local groups Arc In Round, Yellow Humphrey, Spinto Band, and Nightlands.  It seems as though this album has been a long time coming for the musician, with songs ranging from introspection on love, to ghostly reveries, and poetic musings, and utilizing many of the musicians that she's worked with in the past who are familiar with her style: it all just...fits.  Gretchen took some time recently to answer a few questions for us, and since the album release she has also put out a really beautiful and re-imagining of "Walking In The Air", a cover of one of the songs from the animated and haunting children's story, "The Snowman" (which you can also download from Lohse's soundcloud).  Don't miss out on this very talented musician's debut LP via bandcamp, or purchase a cassette tape release of her album via Humble Twin Records.  

See Gretchen Lohse perform live in Newark, DE, where she'll celebrate her album release at Rainbow Records (54 E. Main Street, Newark in Delaware) along with Doug O'Donnell (ex-Dr. Dog) and Carol Cleveland Sings!  This event is a FREE all-ages in-store and begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 1st.

GIRL ABOUT TOWN: This is a Winter release for your work - did you time it that way and do you feel as though the songs fit the season?

Gretchen Lohse: It wasn't my original intention to release it in the winter. I was actually hoping to put it out in the autumn, but got busy and had to wait. Looking back, it does seem fitting.  For me, winter is a time for introspection and self evaluation. Everything outside is stripped down and simplified. The songs on Primal Rumble echo this feeling.

I love the imagery for your album cover, did you choose which artifacts would go into your space suit or why and how did you come up with the idea of the suit?

Thank you! I was inspired by an old photo of France Gall, where she is dressed in a space suit and opening a box to reveal wires and knobs. Instead of electronics, I thought it would be interesting to have the box filled with simple objects, artifacts of an earlier time.  Each item corresponds with a song on the album.

You've worked with quite a few other locally-based bands. Was this release something more comforting and esoteric for you to take on (one voice versus many)?

It was. There's something that really speaks to me about songs with simple arrangement and I thought that's what this group of songs really needed. Certain pieces require room to breathe.

Did you play all of the instruments on the album, and as a multi-instrumentalist - what has been your favorite instrument to learn and play?

I was aided by a lot of talented folks on this album! Many of the instruments were played by me, but I had a lot of help. My favorite instrument to learn so far is the guitar - it was so empowering. Before I learned guitar I wasn't really able to write my own songs. I had to rely on other people to help me.

What has been your favorite song to play so far (lyrics vs. sound) and why?

Probably Spider at the Gate. It's really fun to sing and I always like songs with a spooky feeling the best.

What is your favorite thing about Philly?

Even though it's a city, the music community is warm and loving and makes it feel like a small town. I'm constantly being inspired.

Album Tracklisting for Primal Rumble:

1. All Around River
2. Two Travelers
3. Garment
4. The Role of Rabbits
5. Ornament of the Enamored Heart
6. Rings
7. Bonesetter
8. The Cuckoo
9. Spider At The Gate
10. Primal Rumble

Gretchen Lohse - bandcamp / soundcloud / facebook