Self check-ins are essential for survival and growth, especially as an artist. Brooklyn-based musician Jaime Knoth is currently going through one of life’s great reflection points, graduating college (congrats!), while simultaneously stepping out with her new solo vehicle Rock Solid.
Today, Impose is happy to premiere Rock Solid’s true debut single, “Doing Fine,” which is set for release on the Subletter / Something Solid split EP with June Gloom, kicking off the Exploding in Sound Tape Club: Year Two. The track is a brilliant acoustic-led portrait of Knoth taking stock of her life and drawing strength from past struggles as she shares below.
“‘Doing Fine’ is about being self-reliant, growing at your own pace, and being okay with needing help. I’d been having a really hard time in school, feeling alienated and worried- and ‘Doing Fine’ came along while I was coming out of that mental hole. I still have some work to do but my friends, the ones that help me grow, make growing up better. I hope I make my friends feel as strong as they make me feel!”
Stream Rock Solid’s “Doing Fine” below and pre-order the split EP, out June 15th via Exploding in Sound.
Post-hardcore bands have always been described in ways that make them sound joyless. They’re confrontational and uncomfortable, playing quiet-to-loud dynamic shifts like uppercuts aimed just below your chin. And by and large, that’s the framework Big Ups has been placed in. They’ve written songs that showed vocalist Joe Galarraga’s ability to shift between snarky spoken passages into lung-clearing shouts, with guitarist Amar Lal stomping on distortion pedals to punctuate those moments. But on Two Parts Together, Big Ups makes it clear they weren’t shouting you down, they were offering sharp, observational humor as loud as possible.
Out May 18 on Exploding In Sound, Two Parts Together is the Brooklyn band’s most streamlined batch of songs and their most transparent. While Galarraga’s lyrics still focus on mundane interactions, they read as curt in-jokes instead of combative screeds. “Look into the crystal and see what you wanna see,” he screams on “PPP,” and on “Fear,” he admits his anxiety about both the known and unknown. Each song drips with a bit of gallows humor, playing like Galarraga loudly declaring “We’re all fucked” with a crooked smile and hearty chuckle at the very end.
But what makes the songs on Two Parts Together pop is that, well, they don’t feel like two things smashed together. Lal’s riffs flow smoothly into one another, making songs that don’t try to smack you upside the head with heaviness as much as they expand and contract on a single point. “Tell Them” shows that, while Galarraga may be the band’s face, Big Ups has become an excellent stand-in for late-period Fugazi. But instead of strident political screeds, Big Ups assert that maybe we’re all just bumbling idiots trying to make things work for as long as we can. Galarraga’s lyrics aren’t didactic, instead serving like the kind of casual musings that are taken best as punchlines.
Punk quartet Big Ups have been Brooklyn mainstays for the better part of a decade. Formed in 2010 while the members— Joe Galarraga, Amar Lal, Brendan Finn and Carlos Salguero, Jr— were students at NYU, they have matured and expanded their brand of searing, yet deeply thoughtful post-hardcore in the years since graduation. On May 18, the band will release their third full-length record, Two Parts Together, an uncertain assessment of present and future existence.
“Imaginary Dog Walker,” the record’s closing track, is a sprawling and dynamic coda, ending Two Parts Together with unsettling doubt. The song finds Galarraga staring into a lake (a recurring thematic element of the album), wondering what lies beneath. “We all want the same thing/ And that is to thrive,” he declares, “So why hold our breaths/ Kill the life inside?” Propelled by vivid, destructive imagery, tense repetition, and agitated guitars, “Imaginary Dog Walker” is an aggressive-yet-meaningful meditation on the human experience.
New Noise Magazine is extremely stoked to be bringing forth the premiere of Hahaha from Yazan. The New Yorker of Palestinian lineage is releasing this via Exploding In Sounds records on April 20th, but the entire record can be heard below.
The blending of Hahaha is what brings Yazan to life. The nine tracks take snapshots of the life surrounding, putting forth the human essence into the atmosphere, backing the record with a relatable experience for all. The reflective guitar tone that immediately begins “Hahaha” opens the door for the vocal lines to expand and lead the way. “The Star” focuses on a more thick soundscape, with strummed notes ringing out within layers of feedback, slowing the pace down with a bombastic, soaring chorus. Each track finds the prowess of Yazan ripping through different lines of guitar work with ease, creatively tying ends together within the amount of intricacy. This is a really urgent record that shines a wonderful light on attention to detail and creating a narrative. Take a listen below.
Last month, post-hardcore four-piece Big Ups released the first preview of their forthcoming record, Two Parts Together, and today they’re back with a new single and video. No one does cathartic quite like Big Ups; their tension-filled songs tend to build menacingly until they combust into razor-sharp riffs and erratic vocals, and this new song, “Fear,” is no exception.
The accompanying video, made up of YouTube and tour clips pieced together by drummer Brendan Finn, is a montage of Big Ups shows dating as early as 2010. The nostalgic look back seems appropriate, considering that Two Parts Together explores liminality and the anxiety that accompanies the unknown. The video fades out over an ominous stretch of darkened highway while Joe Galarraga sings: “There is much to fear in the morning as the sky reflects the color of newsprint/ There is much to fear in the morning, much to fear at night.”
That being said, the video will make you want to dance (read: thrash around) in a sweaty basement somewhere and forget about life’s uncertainties for a moment. Here’s what Galarraga has to say about “Fear”:
"A lot of this album focuses on liminality and takes place in liminal spaces. “Fear” talks about the unknown and turns it into anxiety – dealing with uncertainties before going to sleep and the difficulty of navigating a new day when confronted with the harshness of reality. This was an interesting song to write because the second verse mirrors the first in such a way that attempts to make the anxieties of the morning and night indistinguishable. The video for ‘Fear’ was pieced together by Brendan using clips he found on YouTube, as well as videos that all of us have taken of our shows and tours over the years. Some of the video dates back as early as 2010; there is footage from our very first show included! It was a fun way to catalog and highlight some of our favorite shows, venues, tours, videographers, and memories, and we hope others can enjoy it, too."