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Sunday, March 07, 2021

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Music Mondays: What I’ve Been Listening To in October

<p><em>Graphic by YounHee Oh, The Collegian</em></p>

Graphic by YounHee Oh, The Collegian

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

Here’s the new music I’ve been returning to and thinking about the most the last month. And I hope you can find one of your new favorite songs here too. 

Touché Amoré - Lament

Post-hardcore outfit Touché Amoré have a special knack for making screamo music that’s incredibly listenable. Its sound design accounts for walls of guitars and Jeremy Bolm’s ragged vocals that sound as pained and Sisyphean as throwing cinder blocks at an old house to tear it down. The band is at once industrial and domestic. It clashes intense family trauma and struggles with spirituality in Bolm’s lyrics with the fire and brimstone cacophony in the band’s instrumentals. 

Their last proper album was 2016’s “Stage Four,” which was written after Bolm’s mother passed away. “Lament” is absolutely still dealing with that trauma. Dive into “Lament”’s lyrics at your own risk. You’ll find great depths and great darkness there, but Bolm also knows that feeling seen and heard can be one of the most powerful ways to dig out of a hole both for himself and for those listening. 

And to be clear, it’s not all despair. Bolm has profound recognition of the people around him helping him up, singing on separate tracks, “You make me resolvable,” and “I need reminders of the love I have,” the latter line paired with ascending group vocals. There are genuine moments of uplift here, and if you’re not typically into screamo or hard rock, this is a band that can be an entry point for punks looking for a little more edge.

Bartees Strange - Live Forever

“Kelly Rowland” is an acoustic Soundcloud rap, “Mustang” is an anthemic pop punk banger, “In a Cab” is a brief jazz jam set to an insomniac’s musings. And all that is in the first half of “Live Forever,” Bartees Strange’s debut LP. This is one of the most dexterous, clever and difficult-to-categorize albums of 2020. 

Earlier this year, Strange released an EP of covers of National songs. And early National songs, like “Mr. November,” definitely show influence on this album, but Strange packs so much else in here that’s it’s kind of hard to imagine him obsessing over any one artist that way. He’s absolutely an artist to obsess over, though, constantly reaching for new ways to express himself here and never sounding aimless in the process. 

Ziemba - True Romantic

I genuinely don’t know why this album isn’t a bigger deal in the indie music press, receiving only modest reviews so far. Ziemba is signed to Sister Polygon Records, a label that has managed to attract buzz for similarly small profile bands in the past few years from Flasher to Priests to Snail Mail to Downtown Boys. Ziemba isn’t quite in the same vein sonically — while those bands all revolve around post-punk or at least indie rock, Ziemba is essentially a chamber pop singer-songwriter project from El Paso artist René Kladzyk. 

But publicity and Spotify streams aside, these songs are amazing. Kladzyk belts as if she’s practicing for her local opera but still maintains a natural country flair to play to her Texan roots. Yet these are strange and awkward tales of love and loss, such as on the title track when she sings for a moment about when her lover rigged flowers to fall down on her when she opened a door, then in the next line describes the two of them “laughing about Syria for what seemed like hours?” Only Kladzyk seems to completely know what’s going here, but her world on this album overall is so enticing and sweet and decent. I expect to keep nestling into “True Romantic” as the months get colder.

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Róisín Murphy - Róisín Machine 

Would you like to dance once your roommate leaves for a late class and you’ve hit the 3 p.m. slump? You’ve been scrolling through Netflix again with no chance of discovery, likely to settle instead for something you’ve seen a hundred times. You want to break free. You want to get out, and yet you can’t. 

The escape is not on the screen but in your ears with Róisín Murphy. It has come from Northern England to make your hips move with the power of disco from another era, as if it never died at all. Let “Murphy’s Law” flow through you, because here, anything that can happen, will happen. Just move.

Contact opinions and columns editor Conner Evans at conner.evans@richmond.edu.

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