The Sad Tomorrows is a new band featuring a bunch of New Jersey veterans (some might say royalty!) from groups like The Ergs!, Night Birds, Black Wine, and Hunchback. While relying on the elegant melodies and top-notch songcraft that characterizes the members’ other projects, the Sad Tomorrows recall an earlier era of alternative music, before melodic punk bifurcated and calcified into indie rock and pop-punk. Their snappy, energetic, and open-hearted songs bring to mind 80s bands like the Lemonheads, Big Drill Car, Sebadoh, indie-era Goo Goo Dolls and Soul Asylum… artists that bridged the gap between Hüsker Dü’s angsty post-hardcore pop and the more polished and anthemic music of the 90s alternative rock boom.
If that boom were still happening, the suits would be lined up outside the Sad Tomorrows’ door, because tracks like “Forget It For Me Retail” and “Unsustainable Practices” sound like they could have slid into MTV’s Buzz Bin… you know, if they’d come out 30 years ago. While I’m sure the Sad Tomorrows would have appreciated the financial spoils of stardom, the underground feels like a more appropriate home for these four intimate, homespun slices of punk-pop bliss.
"(Ex-Vöid) have continued to mix sugary sweet harmonies with furious blasts of noise."
– The FADER
"Ex-Vöid puts all their chaotic energy right up front, McArdle burning her way through... knotty guitars and frantic drumming"
Don Giovanni Records has announced the debut album from UK power-pop punks Ex-Vöid titled Bigger Than Before.
Ex-Vöiddraw on guitar pop through the ages - The Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub - and attack it with the ferocity and economy of a hardcore punk band. Bigger Than Before will be released on March 25, 2022.
Bigger Than Before is the debut album from Ex-Vöid, the "dangerously melodic" pop group formed by Joanna Gruesome singers Lan McArdle and Owen Williams. Expanding on the “exuberant, hook-stuffed” (Pitchfork) compositions of their previous band, McArdle and Williams have written an album of solid gold power-punk tunes.
Even on more mellow numbers, the band have a way of pummeling the listener with an unhealthy quantity of hooks, harmonies and Thin Lizzy-inspired dual guitar solos.
Yet there’s also a delicacy to the vocal which brings to mind the eye-of-the-storm melodies of Bilinda Butcher which imbues the album with a kind of grounding ethereality. On tracks like lead single "Churchyard," McArdle and Williams’ voices blend and trill with a folk-like quietness while, down in the grubby engine room, bandmates Laurie Foster (bass) and Jonny Coddington (drums) thrash their way through noise jams, hardcore breakdowns and open-chord power-pop riffs.
Bigger Than Before was laid down live, with a few minimal overdubs, in just over an hour in Hackney, London. The songs were recorded without breaks, and Foster was reported to have “kept on playing even though his belt came loose and his trousers fell down”.
"Churchyard", the first single from Ex-Vöid’s debut album Bigger Than Before, is a 1:57 power-pop epic stuffed with hooks. Guitarist Owen Williams describes the single: “I wrote it when I was like 24 and living in Brighton. My friend and I were unemployed and we used to spend a lot of time drinking cans of lager and taking legal highs in a pet graveyard. It was boring so at the end we sing: ’I get so bored’ over and over etc.”
"Buckskin may be one of the last great undiscovered lost records." - Joe Steinhardt of Don Giovanni Records
“I wrote ‘Black Irish Indian’ in 1980, and released it in 1993, but maybe the song’s time and place is actually here and now." - CherokeeRose in 2021
Don Giovanni Records is reissuing two obscure and long out of print albums from Minneapolis songwriter CHEROKEEROSE. The albums - the long lost Buckskin and To All The Wild Horses - will be released on March 11th 2022, available for the first time ever digitally. It is also the first time Buckskin will be released on vinyl or CD formats, as it was originally issued as a limited run of only a few hundred cassettes in 1993.
Cherokee Rose's debut releaseBuckskin came together thanks to a kismet personal connection to a session engineer at Prince’s storied Paisley Park Studio. He liked her songs, and thought they should be recorded. Rose never even considered recording the informal, deeply personal material she had been penning. "I was a mom with three kids at home," she reflects. "I would have never thought I would ever record or play a show."
Rose was booked for piecemeal studio time at Prince'sPaisley Park Studio at off-hours: middle of the night and early morning sessions to get her songs committed to tape. The recordings existed in a sort of suspended-animation: issued as a small run cassette-only demo tape and sold at shows direct to a smattering of fans in 1993. No record label, no distribution. Rose doesn’t own a cassette deck on which to play it today. In fact, Rose hadn’t heard her earliest recordings in over fifteen years when she was approached to reissue them. Joe Steinhardt of Don Giovanni states "Buckskin may be one of the last great undiscovered lost records."
"I wish I could remember where I found Buckskin but I am always buying interesting and obscure looking tapes as it's how I've discovered some of my favorite albums of all time," Steinhardt continues. "Whenever I had downtime I would search for anything I could find about her, hoping to someday get in touch and find out more about the tape."
CherokeeRose in 2021
Whereas Buckskin was Rose's first demo tape and was largely missed, To All The WildHorses had some support and plays from reservation radio stations, and she toured coffee shops, art spaces, as well as Native cultural events and niche music festivals in support of it. However mainstream success still eluded CherokeeRose. Culturally, there seemed to be an impenetrable barrier from the place Rose was operating, and what at the time in the 1990s was considered to be popular music. As formats for how music is released and consumed changed over the decades, much of Rose’s earliest recorded output was relegated to obscurity for the fact that it seemed to exist in a vacuum.
Hearing the music that made up Buckskin and To All The Wild Horses today, Rose herself was transported back to the time and place in which the songs were written and recorded. The catharsis of discovering her cultural and racial identity coincided directly with the desire to express those experiences through songs.
Rose describes the experience of being a child, and constantly being asked “What are you?” and not knowing how to answer, as “debilitating.” The songwriting was more an attempt to express the desire to be connected to her Native, African and European roots. “I wasn’t a pop writer, and I wasn’t writing for commercial success. I was trying to craft a song because I had something to say about the chaos and difficulties surrounding cultural and racial identity.”
“I wrote ‘Black Irish Indian’in 1980, and released it in 1993, but maybe the song’s time and place is actually here and now,” Rose intimates. Such staggering self-awareness and personal reflection should come as no surprise from an artist who has spent decades considering her personal identity, her place within her own various ancestral histories and how she is informed by these three seemingly disparate backgrounds which unite within her own expression.
Buckskin and To All The Wild Horsesby CherokeeRosewill be released on March 11, 2022 via Don Giovanni Records. It is the first time either title will be available on digital streaming platforms, and the first ever vinyl and CD release for Buckskin. ‘Black Irish Indian’ is streaming now, everywhere.
"Patrick Haggerty is the REAL OG gay country artist." – Trixie Mattel, star of RuPaul's Drag Race
"[Lavender Country] is a tremendous feat, a remarkable act of bravery and honesty as well as a statement on the universality of love and lust and belonging." – Pitchfork, Best New Reissue Review
"Though Lavender Country has been out for 45 years, Haggerty has only recently found the level of awareness and subsequent queer-conscious dialogue around the album that he was hoping for when he first wrote (it)." – Rolling Stone
Couldn't be more excited to announce the (50 years in the making!) sophomore album from foundational queer country band LAVENDER COUNTRY. The album is called Blackberry Rose and it will be released on February 18th.
Led by principal songwriter Patrick Haggerty, it is the band's first album in nearly fifty years. Their debut self-titled album released in 1973 is universally recognized as the first ever country album to be released by an openly gay artist.
While Lavender Country was little known outside the Pacific Northwest in their time and only released one self-distributed album in 1973, they created a genuine cultural milestone; the first openly gay country album. Sponsored by the original Stonewall activists of the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, Lavender Country's self-titled release was the brainchild of Patrick Haggerty, whose experiences as a gay liberation activist during the Stonewall era shaped him into a tenacious political savant. Radically defying the conservative norms of country music, Haggerty turned to Seattle's gay community for song topics that addressed a wide range of political and social concerns, including institutionalized oppression and divisions of the working class, as well as more personal subjects such as the complications of intimacy and sexual identity. The album marked the genesis moment of creation for the entire queer country movement that today is booming with the likes of Lil Nas X, Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Paisley Fields and more.
Lavender Country was recognized in 1999 by the Country Music Hall of Fame for its contribution to the history of country music, and the self-titled album was re-issued in 2014 to much acclaim and fanfare, including a Best New Reissue review by Pitchfork, features in RuPaul's Drag Race, and a full modern ballet being choreographed and performed based on Lavender Country's songs.
Photo by Calvin Lum
The first single from Blackberry Rose is out today, and is a full-band Nashville Sound reimagined version of LC's classic "I Can't Shake The Stranger Out Of You" which was covered by RuPaul's Drag Race icon Trixie Mattel on her Grammy-nominated 2020 album, Barbara. The song is one of longing, a love song about missing intimacy in the most intimate moments.
Mattel described working on the song with Haggerty in a 2020 NPR interview as:
"Patrick was like 'well you have to understand, I was part of the first batch of gay men to actually come out. So we didn’t know how to be intimate and love one another, and look each other in the eye and be honest, we only knew how to hook up.' It’s an homage to those who paved the way."