Posted on April 15th, 2024

Two years after the release of their exhilarating debut EP, Chicago noisemakers Babe Report announce their debut album, Did You Get Better, set for release on May 31 with Exploding In Sound. Consisting of ten new songs, all wrapped in under half an hour, it's an immediate and breathless arrival from the newly emerging project comprised of former FCKR JR members Ben Grigg (Geronimo!, Whelpwisher) and Emily Bernstein alongside drummer Peter Reale (Yeesh) and bassist Mech.

Alongside the announcement, Babe Report unveiled the lead single "Turtle of Reaper," which premiered today as a first listen via FLOOD. The album's opening track bursts forth in a flurry of noise and energy for a thrilling two-minute jaunt of scorched vocals and frenetic drums. On the track's origin, Babe Report's Grigg elaborates: "This is an indictment of what often feels like fear-mongering in click-bait media. I mention the Nadig News in particular since they religiously publish crime reports. I honestly find reading those fascinating, but it feels like a way to keep people on edge and xenophobic. I’m sure that’s not Nadig’s intention (I actually have heard Brian Nadig is cool and I respect that a family-run print newspaper can exist in 2024), but it comes off that way sometimes. Especially since it is often printed alongside a column by mega-wang Russ Stewart. Anyway, the chorus is a call back to 12/31/99, when all the news told people to turn off their computers before Y2K, or else!"

Where the band initially existed as a lockdown-inspired duo, Babe Report became a fully-fledged four-piece on the aforementioned The Future of Teeth EP, with Ben Grigg and Emily Bernstein expanding their line-up to include Peter Reale on drums and Mech on bass. Such reinforcements grow exponentially here, and they come to define Did You Get Better. Both a bigger and more accomplished version of the band than we’ve heard to date, the album boasts a woozy concoction of 90s-drenched guitars and melodic grooves.

Recorded over just one weekend in November 2023, using several one-of-a-kind prototype mics at Radon Ranch - Ben and Emily’s humble basement studio - the songs here are both gripping in their immediacy and wholly intoxicating. Embracing disorder throughout, Babe Report funnel their influences into something both boisterous and exuberant; a thunderstorm trapped inside a bottle.

A tumultuous tale, the album is part snapshot of the band’s singular and curious perspectives but also of their surroundings in Jefferson Park, an area that is rife with inspiration. “We practice on Wednesdays when the hyper-local Nadig Newspaper is delivered. We invariably spend the first few minutes of practice reviewing the weekly, idiotic antics of our Alderman,” the band says, while also citing “women driving cars with manual transmissions, the cult of fame and personality, and dreams of throwing your severed body parts into the ocean” as part of the album’s idiosyncratic nature.

However it finds you or you find it, Did You Get Better finds a way to take the reigns, plowing headfirst into its journey and rarely looking back for approval, to even worry if anyone else is joining for the ride. Through its intense rushing and the occasional moments of cessation, it showcases a band in a bold and brilliant new chapter, highlighting the power of growth and collaboration in a way that feels considerably and endearingly forthright.


Posted on April 11th, 2024

Mandy–the solo project of Melkbelly’s Miranda Winters–today shared her new single “Forsythia,” the fiery, muscular opener of her forthcoming debut album, Lawn Girl. “This song is about the internal landscapes we create in response to our external locations. Forsythia (the shrub) has always shown up at the right times in my life – it’s easy to love and relate to because even at peak bloom it looks a little dirty. It's always somewhere in the background for me, follows me around,” she explains. “This song started in New Mexico but spends a lot of time in Providence RI, Wisconsin and Chicago.” “Forsythia” follows anthemic lead single “High School Boyfriend,” which saw praise from Rolling Stone (‘Songs You Need To Know’ playlist), Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, and more. Lawn Girl will be released on April 26th, 2024 via Exploding In Sound Records and is now available for pre-order.

Winters, as the voice of Chicago’s Melkbelly, has spent the past few years happily in her own shadow. While she has quietly written and occasionally released her own music for 15 years, she finally steps out into the bright light with the release of Lawn Girl. The album, a combination of older songs and newer creations, feels positively and endearingly alive–like a freeing of pent-up energy, an intimate rebuilding of the self. While Winters recorded and produced a number of the songs herself, she worked with Taylor Hales at Electrical Audio to feed those songs back into the studio, where they were re-recorded with room mics and worked back into the original versions. “I see it like photocopying,” she says of the process. “I’ve always loved working with photocopying and related printing techniques in my visual art because of the way everything decays and falls apart. It was nice to honor that on the record.”

Performed by an all-women band–Linda Sherman (guitar), Lizz Smith (bass) and Wendy Zeldin (drums)–the songs on Lawn Girl suitably find Winters ruminating on the idea of femininity; about her mom (who graces the album cover) and being a mother herself; her female friends; and what it means and what is required to make art and music in a female space intentionally.

Equally adept when recalling teen love as it is about reflecting on the relentless complexities of adulthood, Lawn Girl feels like both a beginning and an end: a line in the sand moment for a songwriter who has never stopped questioning where they are and how they got here. “When I think of these songs all together, I see the color green,” Winters says. “I’m seeing green for the very clichéd reason that the record feels like a rebirth, or a turning point, or a transition into a new phase of life. Some of this material has been floating around with me for a while, and I feel that by packaging it all up, I can say goodbye and move forward.”


Posted on April 10th, 2024

In the seven years since Maia Sinaiko and Susanna Thomson started Sour Widows, they have survived a litany of tragedies and tribulations. Sinaiko lost a partner to an accidental overdose just before the band began. Thomson’s mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer, which she lived with for four years before passing away in June 2021. As they prepared to enter Oakland’s Tiny Telephone in 2023 to make an album partly of songs about navigating those losses and the lives they shaped, more troubles mounted, including a traumatic breakup and Thomson’s father’s sudden cancer diagnosis.

Sour Widows has served as an essential outlet for Sinaiko, Thomson, and drummer Max Edelman, a way to process real-time woes so as to transmute them into something beautiful, useful, real, and lasting. It has been an anchor, too, keeping them lashed to reality as the world roiled around them. Revival of a Friend, the band’s entrancing and powerful debut album due June 28th on Exploding In Sound Records, is their collective testament to that process, an hour-long lesson in endurance that is years in the making.

Inspired by the folk singing of their youth, the grit and grace of Joni Mitchell, the slowly spiraling dazzle of Duster and Bedhead, and the steady angularity and sudden snarl of Slint, Revival of a Friend fully recognizes the arbitrary cruelty of individual existence and finds that some of the best ways beyond it are to share harmonies, a tangle of electric guitars, or a song that simply imagines hope somewhere on the other side. Methodically built over many years, the album is a poignant and gripping record about the pain of growing up and getting on with it.

Alongside the album announcement the band shares a video for the album’s lead single, “Cherish.” "’Cherish’ is a plea for love disguised as a curse against the world,” Sinaiko explains. “I started struggling with my mental health in my late teens, and the loss of my partner at age 21 - as well as the tumult of our relationship - exacerbated those issues. I was a very angry person, and I went through several years of being emotionally volatile. Both wanting to connect and be seen while being enraged at the state of my life, I would lash out just to make contact with someone, even if that contact was hurtful. To cherish something is to love it for all that it is. The song says everything I couldn't say to my family and friends in that grief-stricken state; I hope it can serve as a reminder that we all deserve to be cherished through our hardships, even when we are at our most difficult to love.”


Posted on April 2nd, 2024

[as seen on Stereogum]

Last month, Washer announced a two-song single called Come Back As A Bug, their first material since last year’s Improved Means To Deteriorated Ends. The indie rock duo shared “You’re Also A Jerk,” and today the other half, “Come Back As A Bug,” is out.

“‘Come Back As A Bug’ is about externalizing depression as a way to act outside of it,” vocalist and guitarist Mike Quigley said in a statement. “To carry on even if out of spite. It’s not necessarily optimistic, but I think there is a sort of agency in slogging through the rough shit, waiting for the sun to explode and wrap up this whole thing.”

The track leans into country twang, about which Quigley added, “I suppose it’s a little trendy now, but we did write it in like 2018 or 2019.” Hear it below.


Posted on March 29th, 2024

[as seen on Pitchfork]

Chicago noise-rock band Melkbelly are back with their first new music in over three years. The quartet has shared a 7" single featuring the tracks “KMS Express” and “Precious Cargo.” Listen to the new songs below (via Exploding in Sound).

According to Melkbelly drummer James Wetzel, “KMS Express” and “Precious Cargo” were created “directly in response to the void of live shows.”

Singer and guitarist Miranda Winters added:

"The songs are also about what tethers us to reality. Stuff like—the intense relationships between bandmates, having children, playing shows, love and a bunch of other visceral bullshit. Stuff lost during lockdown that we’re ready to figure out how to get back to now."