Top8 - 03/04/24

March 03, 2024 - 10:21 PM

You know you're doing a good job at something when your boss tells you to do less of it.  So yeah, Top8 is going to every other week starting with this one. Being emotional will get us nowhere. You're just lucky they didn't get ChatGPT to write this. Please send condolences to

The full length Pissed Jeans and Mannequin Pussy albums are out. Also new stuff from local favorite Emmy Deal. One of the beautiful things about music is that, no matter when you check, someone, somewhere has just released an amazing song that will change someone's life. That's why you've got to listen to new music.

St. Vincent - Broken Man

I have been a fan of Anne Clark's music project from the start. And while I have never hated something she did, 2021's "Daddy's Home" really did not work for me as well as her previous efforts. I was also really let down by her production on the recent Sleater-Kinney album. Having said all this, "Broken Man" is a very strong return to form. Released ahead of a new album in April, "Broken Man" brings a heavier guitar sound back. Clark is one of those people like Prince who are amazing guitar players that everyone forgets about. I love a song that does something startling. When the fat wall of distorted guitar sound comes in, you might think for a second that your headphones blew up. By the time it comes back around, you're locked into her groove. Not only is this a tremendous return by St. Vincent, it's one her best yet.

Mannequin Pussy - Loud Bark

The fact is that I cannot spell mannequin and I can't say pussy on the air. In spite of this, Mannequin Pussy's new album, I Got Heaven, is surely one of the best of 2024. WTSQ has been playing the advance singles from this album as they've come out ("Sometimes" stands out as one of the band's best songs ever). With the release of the full album, I am leaving the singles aside for the moment and focusing on "Loud Bark". This track is a great example of what the band does so well. It comes in light, almost popish, and quickly gets down to business as vocalist Missy Dabice's punk perfect rasp goes from smooth to a shout. I don't know for sure if this was her intention with the lyric, but Dabice does indeed have a loud bark, and one would imagine, a deep bite to match.

Sonia Copple - Queen of Junction City

Music is not always easy. Some, like my dear friend Sonia Copple, wrestle with the unease of performance and the attention of even a small audience. I can't help but share this song with you though. If you're going to reduce "Queen of Junction City" to a genre, you'd probably list alongside other sadgirl/sadthey fair like the boygenius girls, Girl in Red, or Arlo Parks. The recording is startlingly intimate, almost uncomfortably so. This is the point – Copple is contending with quarter life uncertainty and existential questions as old as humanity. There is a struggle for identity and family that every single person alive faces. That those of us who are older still relate to these songs is probably a bad sign for the young – there are no real answers and nothing ever really works. It does get better, sometimes. And that spark of hope and resilience is at the heart of this song. Special note on this track, it's only on Bandcamp.

Sonia Copple - queen of junction city

Bob Vylan - Makes Me Violent

Bob Vylan is a band made up of two dudes – one goes by Bobby Vylan and the other goes by Bobbie Vylan. I love this kind of obstinate bucking of convention. The band has released a series of outstanding singles over the last few months in advance of a new album out this year ("He's a Man" is my favorite). The band is essentially a british punk act, but it draws influences from hip hop and UK grime. More important than their genre classification, Bob Vylan's politics and class consciousness. The modern world is exhausting. Many of us are barely hanging on and we watch as the rich live like feudal lords. A person could be justified in being so frustrated, so crushed by this that they feel violent. Yet, the band counters this with a call for no violence. Yet, in the face of this oppression, they call not for despair but for us to "stay and give them hell". This is something I can get behind. 

Bully - Atom Bomb

Alicia Bognanno's Bully has never been a shallow band. She's always offered heartfelt and moving lyrics paired with a passionate and often grunge-inspired sound. "Atom Bomb" is something different. This new Bully single is a slower, very emotional piano song. In a brilliant performance, Bognanno builds the intensity here entirely with her voice. There are a few strings thrown in to deepen the color. This is a truly devastating song, surpassing anything that Bully has done up to this point. "Atom Bomb" will stop you in your tracks. 

Emmalea Deal and the Hot Mess - Chasing You

One of the unqualified joys of my time with the radio station has been watching the development of Emmalea Deal from a kid with dreams and gifts into a serious musical presence. From the start, she's been one to try different things, and explore various styles. That's present and very effective on "Chasing You." This track reminds me a lot of 2000's pop punk, with its bouncy, pogo dancing sections. Also the subject of troubled and thwarted romance. Emmy's voice has always been one of her greatest gifts (not unlike Alicia Bognanno), and it supports the yearning, earnest quality here. With the scream-along chorus and upbeat feel of many of the best examples of the genre, the tone never goes dark. Note, this isn't on Bandcamp or Youtube, so I am just throwing a Spotify link here. 


Willi Carlisle - When the Pills Wear Off

If you've been listening to The Crows Nest, the Sunday Americana show I host with Andrew Adkins, you already know that Willi Carlisle is the real deal. An accomplished songwriter with a fine voice and a couple records under his belt, Carlisle is a part of a golden generation of songwriters who gained attention in the years following Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell's early efforts. In reality, all these writers are really traveling the trail blazed by John Prine. Like Prine, Carlisle is willing to stare addiction squarely in the face on "When the Pills Wear Off". This heartsick ballad of love lost to overdose will ring familiar to too many of us. Carlisle and his guitar are joined here with an extremely expressive string quartet. On a lesser song, the effect could be mawkish, but on this song it is exquisite. Besides addressing the opiate epidemic, Carlisle also offers us a frankly gay, and still very sweet and sentimental, love story. This is one of the best songs I've heard in years. Even if you usually turn your nose up at sad beard americana, give this one a chance. 

Cigarettes After Sex - Tejano Blue

Years ago, writing for another publication, I once described Cigarettes After Sex as being a sort of dream pop Ramones. I stand by this comparison. Both bands are aesthetic first projects with whole albums of songs that sound almost exactly the same. With the Ramones it was hyper-minimalist rock and roll played as fast as possible. With Cigs, it's dreamy, soft, nocturnal songs read out in Greg Gonzalez's fragile falsetto. The aesthetic extends to the band's visual design with moody, grainy, black and white photography being exclusively used. What else can I say? If you like this band, you'll like this track. If you don't, there's nothing here to change your mind.

And this week's extra innings, a few other things I've been listening to. 

Pissed Jeans - Junktime

28th Day - Pages Turn

Mazzy Star - Halah 

Spiritual Cramp - Nah, That Ain't It

And a spotify playlist with everything (but Sonia) - Top8 - 03/04/24


See also

Top8 - 04/01/24

Top8 - 04/01/24

Top8 - 02/12/24

Top8 - 02/12/24