Top8 - 05/27/24

May 26, 2024 - 02:38 PM

Welcome back to Top8! I hope everyone has had a good holiday weekend. For most of my life, I haven't been lucky enough to work a job where I got any holidays off (I even used to work on Xmas). In the last few years that's changed, but I can't forget that a lot of the things we like to do on a holiday are possible because someone else didn't get that day off. Walk with kindness and compassion, kids. Tip your bartenders and baristas.

I am really happy to have seen so many people out for Fife Street's second anniversary event. I am also really overjoyed to see our dear friends with Folklore Music get to celebrate their grand re-opening here in the People's Building. The amount of work that these guys have put into their new shop is really astounding. I am so proud of them and look forward to enjoying their future success. There are so many great things happening in Charleston. We may not have a dozen of whatever thing you're into, but the one or two we do have will be world class.

Finally (and more specifically to the purpose of this column), it has been a really great couple weeks for new music. Lots of really interesting new things and great new tracks from people I already loved. If you like to begin your missives with a digression, please send them to

Martha Skye Murphy - Pick Yourself Up

Martha Skye Murphy's new track "Pick Yourself Up" is one of my favorite types of things. It's a sort of melange of several identifiable influences, but turned into something that is also really personal and original. There's an intimate, whispery, electronic Kate Bush element which hooked me from the jump. But then Murphy hits you with something closer to Florence + The Machine or Joanna Newsome – a soaring vocal which eventually becomes positively operatic. This is a track for your headphones, you'll hear all these little clattery sounds in the background, and a bunch of stereo pans that feel like they are straight out of the golden analog era. Murphy is releasing her long awaited full-length next month, so stay tuned for more.

Noun & Radiator Hospital - Lesson Learned

In case you didn't know, Noun is the solo music project of Marissa Paternoster (of the dearly departed Screaming Females). Teaming up with Radiator Hospital 's Sam Cook-Parrott creates a really interesting combination of two geniuses. Paternoster seems to mostly be handling the instrumental element here, while also contributing a few vocal flourishes in support of Cook-Parrott's lead vocal. This is a track that seems to share very little with the best known tracks from either Screamales or Radiator Hospital; It's nocturnal sounding, reverby and synth-heavy.

Knocked Loose - Piece By Piece

Once you get outside of the doldrums of top 40 radio or the pop music factory creations, you start to find these bands with enormous "underground" followings. Knocked Loose are a band who you'll never hear on radio outside of indie stations like WTSQ. You won't see this band selected for a beer commercial or an iPhone ad. Yet you'll also never find a more rabid or intense fanbase. "You Won't Go Before You're Supposed To" is the band's third album and it presents a hardcore/metalcore sound that's managed to evolve a bit without losing the ferocity required by the genre. I am focusing on the track "Piece By Piece" here. One of the things that I love about this band is that vocalist Bryan Garris sings in a high enough register that he's actually intelligible over top the ridiculously heavy instrumentation that this band puts down. I will be honest, Cookie Monster vocal bands are kind of boring and silly to me. Knocked Loose bring something that's just as hard, but also manages to convey a lyric. I love that. If you listen closely, you'll also be impressed with the precision of the production here. This is not a messy cacophony of noise. but a careful assemblage of super-aggro pieces which come together to make something that's more than the sum of its parts.

Horseburner - Hidden Bridges

Not only is Horseburner one of the best metal acts going today, they are from West Virginia, and they are really cool dudes. They have a new album dropping soon, and this track, "Hidden Bridges", is one of two singles released so far ("The Gift" is also amazing). I think the core of Horseburner's sound is stoner doom with melodic elements. The new stuff feels like it's leaning even more into the melody and reaching into the vein of 80's metal. I think this actually fits them really well. Dynamic range is essential for this kind of music and the band nails that on "Hidden Bridges", giving the fills, flourishes, and solos, room to shine, but still presenting a face-melting, soul-crushing, loud-as-fuck blast of metal. Don't sleep on Horseburner. This is a band that plays around Charleston-Huntington fairly often. You've got a chance to see one of the best metal acts out there, right here in West Virginia.

Billie Eillish - Lunch

I am going to try to say this with as little cringe as possible – I have been playing Billie Eillish since before she was cool. And she is still really cool. There are not that many modern pop artists who I can get into. Usually the lyric feels trite. The music is boring. The whole thing feels like a factory creation scientifically designed to give you one (1) FDA recommended serving of "music". There's no emotional depth. Simply put, I don't believe them. I do believe Billie Eillish. And bless her for writing and recording, "Lunch", an absolute banger about lesbian lust and cunnilingus. I'd like this song a little bit even if it wasn't good, simply because I think that representation matters, and anything that makes queer kids feel less alone in the world is ok by me. But it is good. It's catchy. It's expertly produced by Eillish's brother Finneas. Billie has a smaller voice than some of her contemporaries, but she's smart enough of a performer to give herself space to deliver the sort of breathy, slightly stoned vocals that she excels at. This is another instant classic. 

The Linda Lindas - Found a Job (Talking Heads Cover)

If you were on the internet in 2021, you probably saw the video of The Linda Lindas performing "Racist, Sexist Boy" at the LA Public Library. If you haven't been paying attention to them since then, it might be easy to dismiss the band as an ''industry plant" or a viral video from three years ago. The fact is that they've become a really legit band. They have toured quite a bit and played shows opening up for legendary bands like Bikini Kill – all this before the youngest members of the band were 14 years old. All of this is to say that you should check out their new cover of "Found a Job" by Talking Heads. Their reading of the song is brimming with enthusiasm and joy. This is a band who have spent time playing together and function well as a unit. That said, the real standout here is bass player Eloise Wong who really had her work cut out for her playing the Tina Weymouth part. I love a cover that does more than simply microwave the original and The Linda Lindas deliver with this.

Crack Cloud - Blue Kite

Crack Cloud are one of those bands with so many members that it seems likely that some of them have never met. Most of the band reportedly met while in drug recovery programs up in Canada. Crack Cloud call themselves art punk which certainly fits. They also sound a lot like the punk acts that were being called New Wave in the early 80s, before "punk" calcified into a genre of bands who sounded like The Ramones or Black Flag. "Blue Kite" is a single released in advance of an upcoming album. The instrumentation is surprisingly complex and layered with synths and guitars supporting the vocal. The lyrics are the key though. The band sings about lives of struggle and the horrors of addiction. This is punk rock for a reason though. This is a music of resilience and defiance.

Girl and Girl - Call A Doctor

I have a special weakness for 'nervous boy' music. Bands like The Modern Lovers, Elvis Costello, Car Seat Headrest, or Restless Eric. The nervous boy in question here is Kai James and the band is the Australian act Girl and Girl. I found the song "Call A Doctor" arrestingly great. I stopped what I was doing and listened to the whole album (also called "Call A Doctor). This could end up being one of my favorites of the year. The title cut is a twitchy exploration of obsessive worry and possible hypochondria. When things are hard, it's never one single thing that is the cause. It's always a ton of different things. Even though the character and timbre of the song is pretty different, it reminds me a lot of "Hospital" by The Modern Lovers. Both possess the lonely desperation of a flurry of worry contrasted with a medical concern.

And this week's extra innings, just a few more things that have been on my mind. 

The Modern Lovers - Hospital

Doc Watson - Deep River Blues

John Lee Hooker - It Serves You Right to Suffer

And a playlist of everything.

Thanks for listening and reading.


See also

Top8 - 02/26/24

Top8 - 02/26/24