All photos by Edwina Hay
“We’re a Black, feminist punk band. That means we’re trans revolutionaries. That means we’re Black revolutionaries. That means we’re feminist revolutionaries. And, this is the real test,” drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone pauses for effect, “we’re working class revolutionaries.”
Big Joanie are everything they claim to be and more. Their lyrics are reflective and probing, digging deep and pulling us into the ups and downs of relationships and self-identity. On stage they maintain that sense of intimacy while building a big, welcoming tent. People lost their minds when the British trio performed at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn. The club buzzed with anticipation long before Big Joanie played. Even as the opening band, Frida Kill, ripped through their own sizzling set, they made it clear they were just as excited as the rest of us to see Big Joanie. Early in Frida Kill’s set guitarist Lily Gist declared, “We’re from here. Big Joanie is from across the pond. I’m going to hype them up the whole set!”
When Art Explains Art
by McKenzie Stubbert
For my album “Waiting Room,” I commissioned the painter Zachary Johnson to create the original cover art. It could have simply been a beautiful piece that, like many album covers, was incredibly vague. Instead, I got a portrait of myself that reflected back to me exactly what I had made: something far more autobiographic. Like a lot of music, my album drew inspiration from many places. But I never expected the album art to reveal to me what I had been trying to uncover.
This album took me seven years to complete. It began as a handful of unrelated pieces I slowly tinkered with, trying to find my so-called “voice.” I struggled to understand what I was making and what connected them to each other. Much of the music originated in film and other visual projects. I have been a full-time freelance composer for about fifteen years. Over the years, certain elements, moments, or, in some cases, entire works jumped out to me as rather personal and something I wanted to use for myself.
There’s a long history of people having one foot in the art world and one foot in the music world. The latest example of this is Monica Stroik, whose band Requiem, has a new album, titled POPulist Agendas, out this week. Think complex, blissed-out post-rock with a heady drone component. (The lineup also includes guitarist Tristan Welch and Douglas Kallmeyer on synthesizer.) The group got together during the pandemic and has continued to make work that is, in Stroik’s words, “media and genre fluid.” I spoke with Stroik about the group’s music and her own visual art — and where these worlds converge.
One sign of good fortune is having friends who recommend good music. They share links. They loan LPs. They call out across the store when you’re digging through the crates and they find that record you have to hear. My friends James and Steve go above and beyond. A promoter and club owner, they have set up countless shows for the musicians they most admire. They’re well versed in the jazz classics, but it’s the contemporary scene they celebrate most eagerly. They’ll tell you we live in a golden age of jazz, and they back it up. And whenever they ask, “You don’t know her/him/them?”, it’s not a judgment. It’s an invitation. There was an extra charge in their voices when they first told me about trumpet player jaimie branch.
The Providence-based Deer Tick has been playing together for twenty years, and to celebrate the release of its new album Emotional Contracts, its first in six years, band members have agreed to answer these questions for Vol. 1. Brooklyn. The introspective album, an amalgam of alternative rock, alt country, and Americana, features melodic songs with catchy hooks and sonic guitar loops, prevalent in the closer, “The Real Thing.” Many of the songs including “If I Try To Leave,” “If She Could Only See Me Now,” and “Running From Love” will be surefire sing-a-longs on the band’s 2023 North American Tour, which started on June 21 in Cleveland and culminates in Mexico in 2024. Their website has more information on dates and tickets.
I grew up listening to punk rock, No-Wave, and various types of experimental music in the basement of my parents’ home in New Jersey, where the now old-fashioned stereo system was located: two large speakers leaning against the wall at an angle on bar stools, turntable and heavy receiver mounted on a wooden stand between them. I went to Bleecker Bob’s and Generation records on the lower east side, or a small record shop, Things from England, a few blocks from where I lived in New Jersey, to pick up the latest new wave and punk records. I was thinking of these early experiences when I picked up Shotgun Seamstress.
I’m a longtime admirer of the music Matthew Robert Cooper has made, whether it’s as Eluvium or under his own name — or one of several other aliases and projects that have added to his impressive discography over the years. Eluvium’s new album (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality represents something of a shift for Cooper, who was dealing with health issues that involved changing the way he wrote. I spoke with Cooper about the literary influences underlying this new album, his thoughts on music and technology, and what he’s been reading lately.
The list of non-classical albums recorded in sacred spaces is small, but it’s led to some impressive sounds over the years. (Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Sessions is a particular favorite.) Grandbrothers, the duo of Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel, recently created their own entry in that category with their new album Late Reflections. Recorded in the Cologne Cathedral, the album takes use of the space’s unique sound to create something vast and immersive. I spoke with the duo about the process that led to the making of the album and the challenges they faced along the way.