Scrunchies - Ben Talmi - Monophonics

Scrunchies - Parallel.

Dirtnap Records recently announced the addition of Scrunchies to their roster, and now the band is back with a new single called "Parallel."

"We wanted “Parallel” to be like "Squirrel Song" by Shellac, and have these jarring, uneven measures to the verses." says Scrunchies vocalist and guitarist, Laura Larson, adding "I was also very interested in having Danielle do this Kim Gordon-esque deadpan call-and-response vocal delivery in the bridge, almost as a juxtaposition to the song's loose theme of both self-imposed and external hope + idealism vs turbulence + obstruction of being a woman making art during late stage capitalism."

Scrunchies is a Minneapolis, MN-based rock band formed by Laura Larson (she/her; guitar, vocals) and Danielle Cusack (she/her; drums, vocals). Larson earned notoriety early on, leading brash punk band Baby Guts. She is also currently a member of seminal dance-punk drums and bass trio, Kitten Forever. Cusack, raised by veterans of the 70s NYC art and music scene, also came to prominence in the Twin Cities music scene as a teenager with her indie grunge rock band, Bruise Violet.

Larson and Cusack began Scrunchies after mutual admiration of each others' bands as well as a short stint together in a Buzzcocks cover band called Buzzcuts (with Clara Sayler of Babes in Toyland). Both are passionate about encouraging young women and queers to find empowerment in playing music and embracing a DIY ethos.


Photo - Josh Goleman
Ben Talmi - Ralph & Mary.

Berkshires, the new album from Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer Ben Talmi. According to the artist, Berkshires is "a love letter to my hometown of Pittsfield, MA nestled between the mountain ranges and valleys of Berkshire County."

Ben is best known as an orchestral arranger for artists like Wild Nothing and Manchester Orchestra, but it's his nostalgic, down-to-earth songwriting that takes center stage here. Lead single "Ralph + Mary" bounces along with charming fingerpicked guitar and Talmi's signature string arrangements anchoring the track.

Ben notes, "Ralph & Mary'' is a true story about my grandparents who served in WWII and used my grandfather's GI bill to fund their diner, “The Sugar Bowl” which they ran for 40 years." Much of the album is dedicated to friends and characters from Talmi's childhood, and his appreciation for Pittsfield and the surrounding area shines throughout the album's eight tracks.

At its best, this record reminds me a lot of Belle and Sebastian with a hefty dose of Paris 1919-era John Cale thrown in as well. Many tracks (especially the lovely "Canoe Meadows") make brilliant use of a string quartet, and I really love Talmi's excellent ear for a catchy melody. In an age where screens and information anxiety seem to be inescapable, I hope that listening to this album makes you think back to a simpler time and place in your lives.


Photo - Emily Sevin
Monophonics - Warpaint.

Today, Bay Area-based Monophonics announced their upcoming full-length Sage Motel, out May 13th via Colemine Records. The world's premier psychedelic soul band, Monophonics, cordially invites you to attend the grand re-opening of the once thriving, once vibrant establishment, the legendary Sage Motel. A place where folks experience the highs and lows of human existence. A place where big dreams and broken hearts live, where people arrive without ever knowing how they got there. It's where individuals find themselves at a crossroads in life. The album announcement comes with a video for the first single “Warpaint.”

What started as a quaint motor lodge and a common pitstop for travelers and truckers in the 1940s morphed into a bohemian’s hang by the 1960s and 1970s. Artists, musicians, and vagabonds of all types would stop there as seedy ownership pumped obnoxious amounts of money into high end renovations, eventually attracting some of the most prominent acts of the era. But when the money ran out, The Sage Motel devolved into a place where you rent by the hour.

Sage Motel, Monophonics' fifth studio album since 2012, tells its story. Once again produced by brilliant bandleader Kelly Finnigan, the album captures a timeless sound that blends heavy soul with psych-rock. With their previous album, It’s Only Us, selling over 10,000 physical units and garnering over 20 million streams, Monophonics have built a reputation over the past decade as one of the most impactful bands in the country. It’s Only Us was praised by Billboard, FLOOD, Cool Hunting, and American Songwriter, who said “Take some Norman Whitfield-era Temptations, add Sly and the Family Stone circa There’s a Riot Goin’ On’s greasy funk, inject early 70s Curtis Mayfield Superfly, Marvin Gaye vocal dynamics and Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul dust, sprinkle in a pinch of Isley Brothers’ silky ballads and you’ve got a reasonable aural idea of the ballpark Monophonics are playing in.”

“Warpaint,” the leading single from Sage Motel, reveals the vices of each resident and confronts the struggles of substance abuse and addiction. Their warpaint becomes compulsory to face the day, tolerate the struggle, get through the hardest parts of the world, humanity, life and to fight the good fight. Cloaked in heavy riffs and robust vocals, “Warpaint” gives you the first look through the doors of the Sage Motel.