Laura Stevenson has experienced a lifetime of joy and pain since her 2019 album The Big Freeze. Due out August 6 on Don Giovanni Records, her newly announced self-titled studio album follows the heartbeat of these life-altering events. From the excitement and tribulations of giving birth to her first child during the COVID-19 pandemic to the powerful rage born from a turbulent situation in which someone she loves was harmed and nearly killed, the new collection is a dynamic and heartbreaking celebration of life. It was produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Hop Along, Dinosaur Jr.), and features longtime collaborator and bandmate Jeff Rosenstock on guitar. While it is often emotionally heavy, Laura Stevenson never strays from its true motivating force: love.
Unleashed with a high-octane video -- directed by visual artist Christopher Hainey and starring fashion model and molecular biologist Leslie Bembinster -- ferocious lead single “State” is an emotional and visceral embodiment of the waves of rage which powerfully and aptly open the record. Laura explains, "Someone I love was hurt and almost killed by another person and I was so absolutely consumed with this level of rage that I had never known before and it was really powerful and frightening but somehow freeing when I was willing to just let it wash over me."
The journey that this new collection of songs takes the listener on may be a familiar one for anyone going through the stages of grief. “Mary” sees Stevenson alone at her piano, recalling the long drive to the scene of the crisis, an agnostic bargaining with holy figures to save a life. On mid-album highlight, “Sky Blue, Bad News” Stevenson punishes herself for things that were ultimately out of her control, going over events in her life that lead up to this moment to figure out why all of this was happening. All this uncertainty and darkness is juxtaposed against her warm vocals and bright melodies.
“The album was written as a sort of purge and a prayer,” Stevenson says. When it finally came time to record, she was pregnant with her first child. “It was a very intense experience to re-live all of the events of the previous year, while tracking these songs, with my daughter growing inside me, reliving all of that fear and pain and just wanting to protect her from the world that much more. It made me very raw.”
The album follows Stevenson’s 2019 career milestone The Big Freeze, celebrated for its “finely detailed, wrenchingly intimate songwriting” (All Songs Considered), and a 2020 NPR Tiny Desk (counted as one of the year’s 20 Best). Recorded at The Building in Marlboro, NY, Laura Stevenson is a sincere portrait of a human heart in all its vibrant colors. More than anything, it is about bearing one’s whole self in the face of those you love—uncomfortable, and exposed, but vital, present. Here.
We are incredibly excited to announce the a album from Chicago-based rock band of yearning IZZY TRUE - titled Our Beautiful Baby World - out July 2, 2021. The album was recorded at beloved midwest music venue Rozz-Tox in Rock Island, IL by Ian Harris.
“I ended up choosing the title Our Beautiful Baby Worldthis year as a kind of prayer,” says guitarist/vocalist Izzy Reidy (pronouns they/them). “When I get very sad about the world, I find comfort in zooming out to the macro, universal level. On that scale, humanity is so young, so small, still learning, and full of possibility. When I think of it that way, I feel so tenderly towards humanity. All of the things it does to hurt itself are not its fixed nature, I have hope that it is (very slowly) learning to be gentle.”
In creating Our Beautiful Baby World, the pacing of Izzy True’s songwriting process has slowed down since their prior Don Giovanni releases -- Sadbad (2018) and Nope (2016). Arranging with bandmates Curtis Oren (they/them pronouns- bass, sax, flute), and Samuel H Goldstein (they/he/she pronouns- drums), Reidy says they’ve grown as musicians together, and their songs were given space to grow, too. OBBW exhibits eleven rock songs of melded collaboration, expressing the deepness of acceptance. These are the band’s most dynamic compositions to date. Reidy also being a cartoonist - which is evident in the fuzzy imagery and storytelling held within their songs - hopes the album to “sound like a bad drawing of a rock record.”
There’s a desire to find okayness in this harsh world, with images of angels, open pastures, and ghosts of old friends and lovers looping around Reidy's twanging yet patient vocals. The inspiration for the soft-hard dynamics that make up OBBW come from Reidy’s love of Thin Lizzy, along with the blending of the band members’ strengths and histories: Curtis as a courageous experimental musician in the DIY circuit as well as a fellow organizer with Reidy in the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, and Sam’s expertise as a hardcore drummer. These influences commingle and translate to a thrashing around; a sound filled with wonder.
The music video for "New Fruit" is debuting today, and features handmade costumes and props and Izzy's pet Axolotl. It can be seen below.
"They were one of those bands that were a prequel to what the future was becoming. Feminism, human rights, animal rights, environmental protection, gender issues... Spitboy was singing about these issues 30 fucking years ago. I’m so grateful to have witnessed it."
- Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day
“A lot of people don’t want to go to a punk show and get a lecture, but we didn’t care. We want to be a band for women in the scene and while we’re at it, we’d like to tell the young men a thing or two and maybe prevent harassment, prevent rape, or get people thinking about these issues. We knew that we were alienating some people, but the music was loud and fast and angry, so it was as combative, and we just thought, we’re never going to break into a major label. That wasn’t our aim, so we didn’t really spend a lot of time worrying about that.”
- Drummer / lyricist Michelle Cruz Gonzales to LA Review of Books, 2018
Spitboy blazed trails for feminist musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond during their brief but impactful life, touring the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Releasing records on labels such as Ebullition, Allied Recordings, and Bay Area punk institution Lookout Records, they stood solitarily against what, at the time, was an almost entirely male-dominated sub culture of punk and hardcore. Formed in response to the homogenized masculinity of the late 1980's and early 1990s scene, their brash and abrasive style of music was paired equally with their confrontational live shows, and unwillingness to tolerate preconceived gender roles and social norms within the punk scene, and American society at large.
The release of the discography Body Of Work (1990-1995) marks the first time the entirety of Spitboy's recorded output is being made available on digital streaming platforms, and will be packaged in a limited edition double LP on red marble vinyl, the layout of which features extensive liner notes written by Vique Simba, and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (who often played shows with Spitboy),and includes graphic design by Martin Sorrondeguy (of Los Crudos and Limp Wrist).
Spitboy's legacy is just as powerful today as it was thirty years ago, and their lyrics - unfortunately - still as poignant. Though today, we now have words and names for the concepts they were writing about then: toxic masculinity, gender non-conforming. Concepts that are now mainstream in western culture. As Vique Simba writes in her liner notes for the discography, "I valued their lyrics, their politics, their sense of community, their ethics, their commitment to punk, and their art. I felt like they could change the world. I also felt like I could change the world. We need this. We will always need this."
One of the most unique and powerful voices today, Korean-American artist Andrew Choi has announced his fourth album as St. Lenox, Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times, due out June 11 on Don Giovanni Records / Anyway Records. It will be available across platforms as well a limited edition 500-copy vinyl pressing with a special metallic gold label. The collection is, as the title suggests, an album about religious hope and religious doubt. A progressive, queer, spiritual record tracking the great American religious drift of the 21st century. On lead Easter single “Deliverance” out today, Choi’s distinctive vocals welcome you into his world as he swings from pole to melodic pole over sparkling piano & driving synth beats.
In equal parts adoration and heresy, Ten Songs of Worship finds Choi reflecting on past experiences with religion, in the face of great social upheaval and uncertainty. Now a Manhattan attorney with a PhD in philosophy, Choi meditates on the modern angst of people disillusioned with the church, but whose memories of it still retain some color and meaning in modern times. It is at turns lush and raw, with gorgeous and impressionistic instrumentation orbiting around his forceful, intense vocals and the autofictional words that they carry.
Just like life itself, there’s a lot to discover in these ten songs, providing plenty in terms of revelation. However, Choi stresses that this music is less about siding with political agendas that many associate with religion and more about evoking the feeling of worship itself, right down to these ten songs’ instrumentation.
“I’m not particularly religious, but I grew up in a religious household,” he explains. “I pay attention to what’s happening, and it’s weird seeing the turn it has taken over the years, from a distance. I understand why people have moved away from the church. But at the same time, I also understand why people are religious. These songs are me dealing with religion, but not really in a critical or negative way. Instead, I want the music to help people remember the hopeful feeling that I remembered, when I was growing up in the church. If that’s the starting point, then maybe people can see themselves being religious again. Maybe I can see myself being religious again. I’m not sure.”
Listening to St. Lenox’ Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times is an immediate experience, capturing your full attention in a generous and benevolent way that stays with you long after the last note plays.
"He belts out his regrets with uncanny melisma, like John Darnielle channeling Tony Clifton.
As odd as it sounds, it's a genuinely affecting affect." - NPR
"Choi's voice is one of the most striking instruments in music today [...] His subject matter is equally transfixing and unique, a mix of queer love songs, protest music, and savvy observations about the modern American experience." - Stereogum
"St. Lenox's ... creative pursuits have resulted in some of the most unique and unconventionally thrilling pop music in the late 2010s.” - AllMusic
"Love, Death, & Photosynthesis is such a generous text. One that offers both a timeline and a soundtrack of living. One that populates a world with people who could easily be your kind of people, immersed in days and nights that could be your days and nights. I loved this book for how it acts as both an intimate profile of a time and era, and also a mirror through which a reader can see their own history, their own affections, and their own music." -Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
"Bela so beautifully writes about the connection between love, identity and an underground music scene- if music’s been the way you’ve made sense of the world this book will move you to tears." -Matt Sweeney, VICE/Guitar Moves
"A beautifully vivid, heartbreaking tale of friendships cut far too short." -Steve Turner, Mudhoney
During the heyday of the late '80s indie underground, high school sweethearts Bela Koe-Krompecher and Jenny Mae Leffel moved together from small-town Ohio to the big city of Columbus to pursue education and a dream of something more. When they arrived, the two met Jerry Wick, a prickly malcontent and lead singer of the punk rock band Gaunt, and the trio quickly forged a contentious friendship that would be challenged for the next 20 years by addiction, mental illness, homelessness, divergent whims and tragic paths. They bonded over their obsessive love of music, especially the scrappy, welcoming world of independent labels and bands, where heroes could be a neighbor, a bartender or even a know-it-all behind the counter of a record store. Through the label Koe-Krompecher and Wick launched, and the music Leffel made, these three friends gained fans nationwide and garnered unexpected critical acclaim from The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, SPIN and more while sharing the stage with bands like Superchunk, Mudhoney and Guided by Voices. At its heart, Love, Death & Photosynthesis is a story of the love between friends and the power of music to pull people together—often in spite of themselves—in the universal search for connection.
“Love, Death & Photosynthesis is an incredible look at friendship, loss, creativity, and growth. Koe-Krompecher writes beautifully about the thrill of loving music, booze, late nights.....and facing everything that comes next. Throughout the story, he is able to honor the two very important friends he lost, who burned bright but left early. In explaining the ways they touched him and changed his life, he delivers a great reflection on grief and a hopeful tale of moving forward. Really amazing, super moving and, of course heartbreaking. A story beautifully told and does a lot to honor to both Jerry and Jenny."
- Craig Finn, The Hold Steady
“…a wild, real tender combination of Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Michael Azzerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life. Hell, 'Love, Death and Photosynthesis' isn’t even a book—it’s a juke box, the wonderous kind that you find in a dive bar and that seems, suddenly, to contain every song you need to hear.”
-Daniel A. Hoyt, author of This Book is Not For You
In the early 1990’s while working at Used Kids Records, Bela Koe-Krompecher partnered with Jerry Wick to create the independent record label Anyway Records. During the following decade, Bela was involved in Columbus’ underground music scene as a writer, concert promoter, and continued his role as the head of Anyway Records. In 2009, he began a popular blog chronicling his involvement in the burgeoning midwestern music scene and the characters who inhabited much of the national underground music world. He has since written three graphic comics based on his stories and experiences, which have been compared to the likes of Harvey Pekar, Nate Powell, and John Porcellino. In addition, his writing has appeared in the awarding winning book Malls Across America, as well as the publications Shredding Paper, Raygun, Dagger, and 614. Bela continues to champion new artists through Anyway while working as a social worker, professor, and guest lecturer in Columbus, Ohio.
Bela Koe-Krompecher’s New Book Love, Death & Photosynthesis Chronicles The Lives of Several Friends In the Midwest Independent Rock Scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s. It Is A Story of Friendship, Death and Ultimately, Survival.