Top8 - 02/26/24

February 26, 2024 - 12:04 AM

It's been a whole week. Time is a flat circle and all that. I had this really good vegan chocolate with crushed coffee beans in it. I joined the entire city of Charleston at the Dinosaur Burps show at the Snack Institute the other night. Awesome show at a really cool venue.  I don't know what else you want from me. It's really late and I've been busy. I promise to do better next time.  Please send your favorite bourbon cocktail recipie to 

Velvet - Focus
Starting this week off, shockingly, with a shoegaze track. Velvet is squarely in my musical tastes. Noisy shoegaze with a jagged guitar sound. On the band's first album, they offer an admittedly bog standard shoegaze sound, but deliver it with such verve that no one could call it boring. Focus is atmospheric and ragged like the best of the genre. With bands like this just starting out, we are surely in a golden renaissance for dark and dreamy music. 

The Courts - On Yr Mind
We're easy creatures to manipulate. Maybe it's just me. No matter how many times I hear loud/quiet/loud, it works on my brain. Maybe there's some little part of me that thinks, "oh, maybe it won't get loud this time…." But you know it will. And for The Courts on their new single, On Yr Mind, it gets extremely, satisfyingly, loud. This is from a new EP called Is a Place, which is also fantastic. It looks like its early days still for this band – they have only put out a few singles in addition to this. I am looking forward to more from them. 

Marbled Eye - In the Static
Marbled Eye has been kicking around Oakland for the better part of a decade at this point. The new single is In the Static. This is post-punk revival with a splash of darkwave for color. Fans of bands like Wire, Static Fur, or Fontaines DC will find a lot to like here. The bass propels the band here with a bouncy drone that I love. Reverbed vocals and searing angular guitars round things out. 

The Staves - Never Leave You Alone 
The Staves do harmony. Perfect sibling harmony. Never Leave You Alone is honey sweet folk with a healthy dollop of Americana warmth. It might surprise you to know that the Staveley-Taylor sisters are actually from England. This reminds me of how the similarly golden-voiced First Aid Kit are sisters from Sweden. Don't get so lost in the vocal sound that you fail to pay attention to the lyrics. These two are writing about complicated feelings and tangled emotions. Perfect fodder for folk. The new album is going to be called All Now, and it represents the first effort without Emily  Staveley-Taylor. Her sisters carry on quite well in her absence. 

Marnie Stern - Sixteen
If you're a finger tapping female guitar player, you're probably going to get compared to Marissa Paternoster. Both broke out in the mid 2000's. Marnie Stern has had a pretty different career though, i.e., she's been in a late night talk show band.  Her new single is Sixteen, which has been released as a follow up to 2023's full album, Comeback Kid. There is a chaotic, prismatic quality to Stern's playing that feels completely unique to me. It doesn't even really sound like a guitar in some ways; more like a synth. For all this, it is still a very produced recording. It lacks the grit and fire of a band like Screaming Females. Stern is still very much worth a listen though.

Liquid Mike - Drug Dealer
Liquid Mike's album Paul Bunyon's Slingshot sounds like music made by people on drugs. And although I am not saying musicians should use drugs, I am also not not saying that. These are mostly short songs with wobbly, fuzzy guitars and distorted vocals. Think of bands like Pup and Fidlar, or Charleston's own Mediogres. The song I am featuring from the album is, aptly, Drug Dealer. There's a bit of Rozwell Kid or good era Weezer to be found here too. It's also less than two minutes, so even if you hate it, you hardly have much to complain about. 

Frank Turner - Girl From The Record Shop
I keep trying to make Frank Turner into the new Billy Bragg. And that's a part of him, to be sure. But there's also this really exuberant punk rock side. Which brings us to Girl From the Record Shop. This is more Pete Shelley than Billy Bragg. Turner rushes through the whole song in less than two minutes but still manages to drop specific band references and generally paint a pretty good mental image of the sort of record shop employee that the world needs more of.

Girl and Girl - Hello
Girl and Girl is a band a guy started with his aunt. I can't think of another one of those. The single Hello is released in advance of an album in May. This hits me as jangly emo with a distinctly garage vibe. There is a jittery, nervous quality in the vocal which suits the lyric. Vocalist Kai James seems moments away from a complete breakdown contemplating the impossibility of communicating any of this to start with. 


And this week's extra innings picks. Just a few older things I am listening to.

Father John Misty - Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings 

They Are Gutting a Body of Water - The Brazil

Justin Townes Earle - Can't Hardly Wait

Blossom Dearie - Manhattan

And a spotify playlist of everything here - Top8 - 02/26/24