I went to a show at The Hideout on October 5, 2019. The line up was Girl K, Slow Pulp, and Deeper. This turned out to be a memorable show for me, but I’d only see that in hindsight. It turned out to be the last show I saw pre-pandemic. It was also the last show I’d see in Chicago before heading to the godless north that is Minnesota. I’ve been wanting to talk about Girl K for a minute, and I’m happy to finally have the chance. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say they are one of my favorite bands going in Chicago.
My introduction to Girl K was in 2019 when the Reader did a quick write-up sometime before the release of For Now. Originally a solo project for Kathy Patino, Girl K was already a full band by this time. I was first able to catch them at Empty Bottle in June 2019. It was a Divino Niño record release show. And, for as great as Divino Niño and Bnny are, it was Girl K who really reignited my interest in the music coming out of Chicago. I was solidly old and suburban by that point, so I wasn’t keeping tabs on much of what was “local” at the time. Aurora was a million miles away from Chicago when it comes to music.
Anyway, no one is here for storytime. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Girl K stood out to me because of how unabashedly pop they were. Chicago music has always bent towards experimental sounds. There is a lot of fuzzed out psychedelia influence in that city. There is a lot of post-punk. Girl K wasn’t making that kind of music, but they never seemed out of place in that context. Girl K Is For The People only cements that.
The first thing about the new EP that jumps out to me is the influence of New Wave. You could put “Hah” or “Departures” on any 80s themed playlist, and no one would flinch. The way Patino’s voice plays off the keyboard on the former is a thing of beauty. The other is how many great hooks they can fit in a song. This was true in 2019 when the chorus from “Speed Racer” embedded itself in my head, and it’s still true in 2021. Like, that “give me love, give me proof, show me trust, speak truth” line in the titular song is gonna fucking stick forever. And that guitar on “Real Mad” is such a killer.
Girl K Is For The People feels like a game changer for this band. Sunflower Court and For Now are both great, and I’ll love them forever. But this new record sounds like a band on the cusp of something big. There are a handful of bands from Chicago that will always sound like home to me. Girl K is one of them.
Indie pop gets little attention and even less acclaim. I don’t understand why. It’s not challenging in any musical way, but it’s a treat to see how bands exist within the parameters. We live in a post-Twee As Fuck world. It’s been codified and troped to hell, but it still has a vibrancy that a lot of punk offshoots just don’t. There has been a kind of renaissance in recent years with bands like Kitty Kat Fan Club and the Jeanines getting a fair amount of attention. Cape Chacon should be right up there with them, and I Can’t Muster It is a perfect addition to the indie pop canon.
Things start strong with a one/two punch. “All My Best Friends” lays out the thesis of the record, and “Crushin” introduces the conflict. Is that too “literary analysis” for a pop record? I’m just going to quote their Bandcamp bio then. “Indie rock that’s kind of like when you forgot your pencil in sixth grade but ur bff had an extra.” It’s a record about interpersonal relationships, both in celebration and reflection. “Antiques Roadshow” is about thanking someone for being great during a rough time. “LIbertarian” is about the challenge of staying friends with someone who is kind of shitty. It’s not super high stakes, and it’s relatable entirely for that reason.
My favorite thing about this record is how the songs aren’t structured like normal pop songs. I mean, shit, you might not even get a proper chorus in some of them. But the songs are still hooky as fuck. They also play with your expectations. Like, I’m going to go back to “All My Best Friends.” The song builds exactly how you would expect in the first verse. In a genre standard, a fast guitar part would have kicked in immediately. We get two more verses instead. But, goddamn is it great when that guitar kicks in right at the end. It makes an expected bit sound fresh as hell. It made me smile, and I love when that happens on the first song.
Cape Chacon weren’t on my radar, but they absolutely should have been. There’s sweetness to these songs, and a lot of heart. It’s pure bubblegum, and it fucking rules.
We’ve gotten in touch to share our new single, “Best Interests,” with you.
It describes people living in a state of nature deprivation, one person pulling the other out of the city and running with them to the coastline.
This song questions overconsumption, with its lust for capitalist greed and concrete.
What started out as a lonely guitar riff led to the whole band jamming on it, creating a fun and spontaneous experience that our producers Gus van Go and Werner F. rolled with.
Right now we are all being encouraged to consider the health of us as a community. Now is the time to be caring for each other and to learn from this experience so we can move forward with our collective planet’s best interests in mind.
There isn’t a lot to say on this one. I love the vocals, the music, and the overall vibe. This song is as close to a total package as anything will be for me. I like to type little blurbs about stuff I share in this feature. I don’t know. This is one I just like. It’s just a solid as fuck indie/pop type song. Maybe I should editorialize more, but ehhh.
Looking back at the religious upbringing that guitarist/vocalist Chrisy Hurn has – for the most part – since left behind, and gazing ahead at the person she hopes to become, “Have I Been Deceived” finds her further questioning “the shit I’ve held on to” in a dreamy country-rock sway.
Speaking on the new track, Hurn says: “Think about “Have I Been Deceived” as an open letter to God. This past year, I have been feeling like I was brainwashed. I was taught to think in a particular manner, taught to love in a specific way, taught to think about my body and sexuality in a specific (ahem oppressive) way, and quite honestly at the time, I ate that shit up. I was the girl in highschool trying to convert all my friends, telling everyone to stay abstinent, listening to every Christian band that sounded almost as good as the real thing. That was my entire identity. Throughout my twenties, this identity fell apart.
I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with who I was, so much that being around any type of Christian culture, makes me feel nauseous, or worse.
I want to let that go, I want to think clearly about faith, but I am afraid that I am not able to. I am afraid that I was gaslighted into loving something that is wrong or an ugly version of something that could be good. I don’t know who I am without my past. I don’t know who I am moving forward. I wish I had a more clear answer but I don’t; I am just here.”
Basement Revolver is a band who has been kicking around for a minute now. I posted one of their songs back in 2017. I always wanted to give them a proper write up, but I never did. I love fuzzy sounding indie rock, and their new single delivers that. It also adds a little country twang to the sound too. This particular song has a definite Cranberries vibe to it.
Lyrically, the song is also great. People who grow up in religious environments can really only go one or two ways. They continue with it, or they question and defy it. It’s a personal story that is always compelling to hear. Even in subtle ways.
Finally, the video is great. Stop motion is always a thing I’ll love.
Usually I post these with some press blurb from an email or something. I was not sent any press release for this particular one. Safer Off is a record I’ve been looking forward to, and I just really like this band. I’ll always love some good pop rock.
At the time, the lyrics were simply poetry I wrote in a journal during summer evenings spent in a remote Alaskan village. We were independently writing ideas/songs that neither of us necessarily intended to combine together; we weren’t trying to write a record. This poetry was a catalyst, and “River Song” as a whole naturally revealed itself.
I found myself inspired to write “River Song” while watching salmon swim in the streams. Their journey back to spawn is magnificent – one that brings life, but ultimately ends in death. Using the earth’s magnetic field, like a compass, the salmon return to their final resting place.
I was struggling to wrap my head around accepting the natural cycle of life. Seeing the salmon’s instinctual guidance drawing them back to their place of birth helped me discover where I needed to be.
“River Song” is not a story with a concrete ending. Ask yourself – do we really have a choice? Does instinct guide us home?
Sometimes you just want to listen to a pretty sounding song. Y’know?
Sarah Tudzin, as Illuminati Hotties, has made deceptively complex pop record. The sound is all over the place. There are some places where Kiss Yr Frenemies sounds like a more twee record in the Cub or Tullycraft style. It’s got a deep, ambient vibe that reminds of trip hop in a weird way in other places. The record has really sparse and tender moments that smash almost without warning into noisy punk parts. It doesn’t sound too jarring unless you’re really thinking about it. Like how the delicate, piano driven “Declutter” comes immediately after a indie/punk jam like “Pressed 2 Death.” Or how the vibey “Cuff,” which honestly made me look up Portishead to prove I wasn’t crazy with that earlier trip hop reference, comes right after “Shape Of My Hand.”
The overwhelming vibe of the record is mid-20’s ennui. Songs about love, relationships going sideways, needing more money, and just general dissatisfaction are all over this thing. If I’m being honest, the line “I’m Spending all my money at 7-11 and sleeping through the weekend” made me laugh in a very knowing way. Same with “I could probably use a fourth job.” The record kind of has a bitterness to it that offsets the more sweet sounding music in a really cool way. Like, happy sounding songs about how everything is just being kind of dumb sometimes. I feel like that is something anyone can relate to.
The elevator pitch for this record would be “wry observations of a young adult told over energetic indie pop.” It’s a great record for the summer, and I can’t imagine anyone not finding something to connect to. Also, the horn flourish on “For Cheez (My Friend, Not The Food)” is fantastic.
Athens based Post Lovers is a solo project created by Eleni Karageorgou. Post Lovers play short, indie folk tunes, blending a-bit-too personal songwriting with playful backing vocals, all set in a 90’s background. Their beneficiary musicians kindly contribute to both their rehearsals and live gigs. Post Lovers take a step at a time: girls, friends, lovers, post lovers.
Their first official release is the single “Melbourne/Going Anyway” coming out on August 1st through the 7-inch series “A Distant Victory Singles Club” via Inner Ear Records.
These indie pop songs always sound good in the summer. Is twee seasonal? Anyway, “Going Away” is the b-side on Post Lovers’ upcoming single. Both it and “Melbourne” are great songs. The 7″ will be out on August 1. It’s part of Inner Ears’ subscription series. You can check that out here.
“In Dreams” is also the new single by alt-rock band Night Talks. They’re from Los Angeles, born and raised, and they define their own sound as pretty lush, equal parts heavy and delicate. Regarding this song, front-woman Soraya said: “”In Dreams” is about having a terrible day and then realizing that you can, indeed, move past it. Everyone deals with really awful things in their lives, and we wanted this song to remind people that more often than not, you can move on and try to enjoy what life has to offer you. It just takes time.”
Night Talks is a pretty solid indie / alt rock band out of Los Angeles. “In Dreams,” the title track from their full length, is definitely one of the more mellow cuts from the record. It’s the closing track, so it makes sense. The full record is pretty solid. It’s on Spotify and Soundcloud, give it a listen
The email letting me know about this song had a gif of a dog rolling itself up in a blanket (like a burrito!). So, y’know, that was also pretty dope.