Tag Archives: Q&A

Los Campesinos! on How Mental Health Struggles Informed “Sick Scenes”

Los Campesinos

Photos by Owen Richards

If a single moment is capable of defining a band, for Los Campesinos!, that moment occurs during a brief passage halfway through “I Broke Up In Amarante.” A fly-on-the-wall document of frontman Gareth Paisley’s mental health struggles during the recording of their new album, Sick Scenes, the track is rattling towards its heartening conclusion when Paisley’s voice suddenly drops away as he says, “Nah, you’re going to have to help me out here” and the gang-like vocals of the rest of band take up the mantle. It’s the aural equivalent of dragging someone through the final few meters of a marathon, a very human moment that encapsulates the spirit of togetherness that has seemingly pushed Los Campesinos! through hurdles that might have finished off other bands.

Sick Scenes, the band’s sixth album, is a weighty addition to the group’s catalog of fervent guitar-pop. Having left their label in the wake of previous LP, No Blues, the band took a step-back to try and define who they were and what they were doing. The result is a heartening and resolute record that really couldn’t have been made by anyone else.

We spoke to frontman Gareth Paisley about the backdrop to Sick Scenes; those aforementioned hurdles, the mental health struggles that informed it, and why they believe in themselves more than ever before.

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Awkward Energy’s Jack Lewis Is Struggling to Become an “Adult”

Awkward Energy

Photo by Tasha Bielaga

Portland musician Jack Lewis is the reluctant adult. He spent his first years out of college touring as a member of his brother Jeffrey Lewis’s band, but as time went on, he felt the need to push toward something else—even if he wasn’t sure what that “something else” was.

That struggle comes across loud and clear on his song “Please Don’t Step on My Flower Bed,” when he sings, “I should start acting my age.” “Flower Bed” is one of the five tracks that make up his newest EP American Lvov: EP #1 under the name Awkward Energy. Serving as chapter one of an upcoming LP—his first release in five years—Lvov is the first of three EPs of original songs and covers that Lewis plans to release every three months before sewing them together into a full-length album later in the year. The songs are lively and effervescent, with jangly guitar and lo-fi production that echoes the glory days of indie pop.

But for all the brightness in his music, Lewis still struggles with the realities of adulthood: How is an adult ‘supposed’ to act? What kinds of things is an adult ‘supposed’ to have accomplished? We spoke with Lewis about this push-and-pull, about achieving balance in life, and what impending adulthood looks like when you’re in your 30s.

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King Woman’s “Spiritual, Intuitive” Hard Rock

King Woman

When in doubt, open big. “Utopia,” the first track on King Woman’s debut album does just that, with Kristina Esfandiari’s somber voice coexisting alongside a huge boulder of a guitar riff. The song is heavy as hell, and has the swing of the best doom anthems.

Created in the Image of Suffering navigates a path between the crushing ambiance of atmospheric metal and the filigreed mood of shoegazey Goth—this won’t surprise fans of producer Jack Shirley, who helped birth Deafheaven’s Sunbather and Oathbreaker’s Rheia.

But what makes King Woman stand out is the magnetic, composed Esfandiari. She somehow finds the time to anchor two bands (Miserable is the other one) and keep a live schedule that’s intense in every way: Last summer, King Woman and Wax Idols signed up to open the Pentagram tour, only to quit due to “an overload of bullshit” from the headliners’ grizzled singer, Bobby Liebling. Esfandiari has since moved on in every way, including a relocation from the Bay Area to Brooklyn. Then again, she’s used to transcending hardship.

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The Dig Blend A Travolta Strut with Lou Reed Sense of Danger

The Dig

The Dig, a multi-hyphenate quartet out of NYC, is a band of brothers committed to making music on their own terms. With three songwriters, the project is a true collaboration Comprised of childhood friends Emile Mosseri, David Baldwin, and Erick Eiser, along with Mark Demiglio, who all bring their own distinct influences to the mix, the band hops genres like a DJ with a twitchy finger: dream pop, garage, post-punk, and a hint of psych-folk. With a list of influences ranging from Harry Nilsson to Betty Harris, they’ve absorbed enough of pop music history to make the leaps feel convincing.

The Dig’s latest, Bloodshot Tokyo, has a Travolta strut with a Lou Reed sense of danger. Trading the bedroom mellow of their previous work for shimmering synths and propulsive percussion, Tokyo is decidedly built for the dance floor. Now in his 30s and still saddled, as so many musicians are, with a day job, guitarist/vocalist Baldwin still has only the music on his mind. With Tokyo, the band has created their most accessible and engaging record to date.

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Ought’s Tim Darcy on His Intimate Solo Record, and Making the Political Personal

Tim Darcy

Photos by Shawn Brackbill

Tim Darcy, the front man of the Montreal-based ensemble Ought, has always been fond of writing lyrics that sting as much as the guitars that surround them. Yet on Saturday Night, Darcy trades in his tightly-wound and sharp, biting commentary for lyrics that are far more intimate. Like Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House or Devandra Banhart’s Rejoicing in the Hands, the album is permeated by a warmth that draws the listener into Darcy’s world. We caught up with Darcy in New York, where he is currently recording Ought’s follow-up to 2015’s Sun Coming Down, to discuss the personal nature of his new album, and how the politically-minded singer is evaluating the state of the union.

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