On Thursday night, my emu was emo with Mickey Blurr, Hit Like a Girl, Haybaby, and Boyscott.
I went up to Middletown to see these four young indie bands at MAC650 Gallery, a space owned by the North End Artists Cooperative. MAC650 schedules slates of experimental, art-rock, and post-fusion-everything bands a couple times a week, and you can check out a lively restaurant scene before the show.
This may qualify as a hidden treasure. I would never have found it if I hadn’t been chit-chatting with musician acquaintances on Twitter about how tough it is to get heard, right when a musician I’ve followed for a while (probably as friend of a friend of a friend) tweeted about music and shows, and I figured maybe it’d be easier to get heard if someone listened. So I did, went to the show, had a great time, discovered talented bands that weren’t on my radar, and now also know where to go to hear out-there experimental music on other nights.
Post-grunge art rock is mysterious, engaging, and charming. I’m reminded of The Church (there’s a 90s reference) with more punk anger and a greater love of the kind of movies where the subtitles confuse you because the puns work best if you speak both French and Japanese.
First person to make one of their songs viral on Tumblr by editing it over video from a niche fandom, I will personally send a dozen cookies to.
Hit Like a Girl
This core of this New Jersey-based alternative-rock emo-pop band is Nicolle Maroulis, who writes the songs and also runs No More Dysphoria, a not-for-profit organization that helps transgender people pay for the medical aspects of transitioning.
Savor the lyrics. Maroulis writes from a point of view of intense vulnerability (both in love and out of it), with a rawness of pain and joy that’s both cathartic and confrontational. Live, the band sound channels rage and strength for speaking out.
An upcoming new album (They Get There, out June 7) has this Brooklyn band on the road.
Ordinarily, when I read terms like “post-nap sludge” in a band’s description, I figure they’re kidding around. No, this sound is so literally post-nap sludge that I’m mildly embarrassed not to have invented the term myself. The bass-heavy instrumentation, moving through tunes with the majestic torpor of dinosaurs in mud, provides the sludge, while Leslie Hong’s soaring vocals provide the post-nap wake-up call. The overall effect captures the surreal experience of coming half-awake with sleep paralysis (the literal post-nap sludge).
The party emo you need when you can’t stay in bed on a rainy day. Dance around your room, singing along about how miserable you are.
I’m 90% sure the metamorphic rock description on the band’s Facebook page is a joke, but it also contains its grain of truth. Instrumentally, songwriter Scott Hermo Jr.’s songs hearken to the moment between the collapse of New Wave and the rise of grunge, when organic guitar energy came to the forefront but hadn’t turned into a solid mass of guitar noise, when alternative rock unashamedly included pop beats and energy.
Lyrically, the songs mix and match vivid images (that sound like they literally happened) with metaphors that give the feel of those movie scenes where the script reads like a slice of life but all the dialog will turn out to have meant something deep 45 minutes from now. Put this together, go climb a mountain to the energetic music while singing along with the most depressing lyrics, and if it doesn’t change your perspective for the better, go climb another mountain. That’s metamorphic.
All in all, a great night!