Featuring Ashley Kossakowski on bass, Johanna Kenney on guitar, and Roger Cabrera on drums, Groupie make contemporary garage rock with nods to 1990s riot grrrl sound and a political edge. On “5 Year Plan,” a song from their forthcoming sophomore EP, Validated, the Brooklyn band ruminates on what it means to be successful and the unachievable expectations that we often put upon ourselves. Over pulsating bass, precise drum patterns, haunting harmonies, and yelps, Kenney’s vocals convey feelings of confusion and vulnerability, which the song ultimately reinterprets as a source of empowerment.
“‘Five Year Plan’ encompasses the contradictions of our modern lives and the push and pull of doubt vs hope,” guitarist Johanna Kenney told AdHoc via email. “[The new EP takes the] first EP into a deeper, moodier exploration of vulnerability and resistance. We strive to challenge what it means to be a rock band in an industry that is still largely white male dominated,” echoes bassist Ashley Kossakowski.
Open collaboration between four members can be difficult to cultivate, but Bad Moves make it look effortless. Featuring members of The Max Levine Ensemble, Hemlines, Art Sorority for Girls, and Booby Trap, Bad Moves is a DC indie punk/power-pop powerhouse. All of its members contribute equally to songwriting duties, making tunes that are more than the sum of their parts. “One of the founding tenets of this band was to compose, arrange and perform such that it’s not clear who wrote what, and at times it’s not even clear who’s singing what,” says drummer and songwriter Daoud Tyler-Ameen, also of Art Sorority. Their latest single, "One Thing,” which we're debuting below, is exemplary of this doctrine: vocals from all members are delicately layered, their owners made an ambiguous part of the whole. While collaborative songwriting isn’t exactly a new concept, Bad Moves’ approach is fresh and purposeful. Catch them tonight at Warsaw with Jeff Rosenstock and Martha.
Once Mina Caputo gets going, she admits, it’s hard for her to stop.
“There are no simple answers,” Caputo tells us over the phone, her thick Brooklyn accent softening to a whisper for a moment.
Caputo is apologizing for digressing from a question, but her apology could also function as a maxim for the 44-year-old musician’s personal journey.
Caputo is best known for fronting Life of Agony, a heavy metal band she started with bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z in the summer of 1989. The group distinguished itself from its contemporaries by combining aggro, distorted guitar rock with Caputo’s vulnerable lyricism, which clashed with the hyper-masculine frontmen of the era.
And while the band developed a cult following and garnered modest chart success, Caputo struggled with substance abuse and feelings of gender dysphoria. She quit Life of Agony in 1997, pursuing a solo career and making a demo with the short-lived pop group Absolute Bloom. Following the release of a Life of Agony comeback album in 2005, Caputo's difficulties worsened, ultimately prompting her to seek medical care and begin gender-affirming treatment. Caputo came out as transgender to friends and certain family members in 2009 before coming out publicly in 2011. In 2014, she played her first official gig with Life of Agony as Mina.
As she finishes her seventh solo studio album, and prepares to record another record with Life of Agony, Caputo chatted with AdHoc about her tough upbringing, her songwriting process (or lack thereof), and why she doesn’t want to waste time convincing you to like her.
AdHoc: How do you think your upbringing influenced your art?
Mina Caputo: My childhood was a mess. I never really had a chance to be a child. I had a very destructive family. I think it prepared me for life’s punches and curveballs and tragedies, and inspired me to believe in things like the art of letting go and surrendering. You know, I’m not planning to go to my grave looking like Beyoncé, all fresh and new and gorgeous and beautiful.
This earthly time and life is about wearing and tearing, and getting into it and getting into the muck and getting dirty. Everyone’s fixing their life, fixing up a pretty picture to get in their grave, you know what I mean? The cars, the picket fences, the dogs, the kids, every gadget, every phone—every fuckin’ this and that. Everyone’s putting that much more energy into the fakeness of life. And I think my childhood, or childless childhood, prepared me to really come at life swinging and protect myself.
The tragedies—this whole life, which feels like a completely different life altogether—have definitely prepared me to be strong. To focus on the good, to believe in joy, believe in humanity, believe in myself, believe in my negativity, believe in contrast, believe in all the dualities of life. I literally just adhere to my own energy, vibration, and frequencies. I have to. The conversation with what’s going on in the world today—you get quickly derailed from your own human nature. I try my best to stay away from that whole kind of life.
The music of Bill Orcutt is potent and sharp. With its oblong chords and erratic jumps across the fretboard, it’s a ravenous exploration of what guitar music can be, expelling notions of meter and structure to focus on feeling and timbre. Though it’s often lumped in with the American primitive tradition, it’s got a rawness and complexity all its own. After honing his chops in the ’90s noise unit Harry Pussy, Orcutt resurfaced in the late ’00s and began deconstructing nearly every style of old-timey American music. On his 2017 album, Bill Orcutt, which he released on his own Palilalia label, he takes on big band standards, hymns, jazz classics, and even Christmas tunes, warping and refracting them until they point toward the future instead of the past. We phoned Orcutt at his California home to discuss his recent switch to the electric guitar, how he settled on reworking classic American tunes, and tapping into the creative power of the unconscious.
AdHoc: I read you’ll be playing electric guitar on this tour, as you did on your self-titled release from last year. What made you decide to switch from acoustic guitar?
Bill Orcutt: I started on electric [guitar], so it feels good to go back and play it. It’s not completely different, but they are different instruments and require different technique.
All of my acoustic guitars are kind of beat up, so to switch to the electric was nice, because it’s a relatively new guitar that plays in tune without a whole lot of work. I was able to record at home and on my own schedule. I knew that I was going to rework the same material that I’d been playing for the last three or four years, with electric, so there was plenty of time to [set about expanding] that stuff.
Self-described Brooklyn “funk-punk” group Operator Music Band create songs awash in layers of crescendoing synth and jagged guitar riffs, with sung-spoken lines and hypnotic, motorik drumming serving as an anchor to the songs’ grooves. The band’s first album, Puzzlephonics I & II–released earlier this year–served as a stunning introduction to their slightly off-kilter brand of funk; their new EP, Coördination, brings their synth experimentation and their sense of rhythm to the forefront. Lead single “Realistic Saturation” begins with the warm sound of a strummed guitar and an insistent drum beat (courtesy of Ava Luna’s Julian Fader), but a few seconds in, synths come in from every angle, and with a myriad of textures–washed out, bleep-bloopy, low and horn-like. “Communicator 4,” after riding a snare- and bass-based groove, switches it up halfway through the song for a faster, rhythmic synth trip. The five songs on the EP keep on hurtling forward until their too-short ends, the sound of a band that has the musical chops to ride a beat forever but the restraint to keep us wanting more.
Local Brooklyn by way of Connecticut indie-rockers Furnsss released a self-titled tape today, their first major release since Silent Gold in 2015. Lead by songwriter, guitar player, and singer Brendan Dyer, the band has crafted six well-composed indie rock highlights. Songs like “Roll With It” and “Drag” are loud and sweeping, with crunchy guitar riffs that sound like something out of early Pavement. Other tracks feature rhythms that nod to contemporaries such as Hoops, Swings, or Mac Demarco. Speaking with AdHoc about the new release, Brendan casts a wide net of influences, including Michael Jackson’s Bad, which he says inspired the swinging rhythm on “Divine.” Overall, Brendan has constructed a great rock tape, one as concise and focused as it is compelling.
As AC/DC, once put it, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll.” Not so for Sheer Mag, the Philadelphia power-soul riff factory who propelled themselves from DIY basements to headlining venue tours in just a few years. They aren’t seeking a spot on the music industry summit—just a sustainable future where they exercise full control over the band and and its music, from top to bottom.
Their unwavering independence is clear, from their self-distributed albums, to their raucous self-booked tours. That ethos is consistent with the band’s message: be yourself, against all odds. Tracks like “Nobody’s Baby” and “Suffer Me” subvert the casual misogyny often found in riff rock, swapping it out for a strong sense of identity and open-mindedness. “Keep me out of your fantasy,” bellows front person Tina Halladay on the latter “Can you give me that one luxury?”
Over the phone from her Point Breeze, Philadelphia apartment, Halladay acknowledges the subversive nature of their lyrics. “People like rock & roll,” explains Halladay, “but it didn’t always come from the best place.” Their debut self-released full-length album—Need To Feel Your Love, out last June—is about taking the power back. “It’s really cool to see people sing along to ‘Nobody’s Baby’ like they would ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’” she says.
As intimacy becomes radical, the sensible becomes sensuous. Lubricated by sweat and the moisture of breath, AsThe River At Its Source, Villads Klint's first outing on Jens Konrad Barrett and Hjalte Lehmann's Petrola 80 label, trembles with an erotics of sensation whose quivering quiddity—across domains of sight, touch, and sound—makes explicit the sensousness of affect. Constituted by its glaring aposiopesis—the unarticulated verb ought to disclose what the river does at its source—the EP by the Copenhagen-based Minais B attunes itself to the telluric contours of its sonic ecology in order to feel out its own action, its own doing.
In this aporia, this unspoken yet not mute space of inquiry, the record reaches out into intersubjectivity, through the flickering of whisper, the "swaying and singing" of sabulous sybilance that snickers and slithers as spittle that slips from lips to ears. In its atmospheric drool, its tingling and atomizing drip, the onslaught of ASMR kisses and shivers, the record writes over itself, stuttering into an acidulated palimpsest that sunders and splices itself anew. Like muscle, the sinews of Minais B's sonic reticula striate and strengthen into a tissue that binds, a tissue that seduces.