STORRY – Intimate Abuse video

Posted: August 3, 2022 by Kat Meow in Pop, R&B, Storry, Toronto
Storry

In another “near miss,” I almost made the mistake of sleeping on STORRY. Hailing from Toronto, this self-produced songstress and JUNO award nominee putting out eclectic R&B and pop. “Intimate Abuse” is her latest offering, celebrating real love thriving in the shadow of abuse. STORRY’s voice simmers with impassioned thriving. She is a soul child picking apples from the tree planted long ago by Mary J. Blige.

Front and center is resilience learned from being coerced into the sex industry. It’s a bravely unpopular position to take. It is an uphill battle against big-moneyed interest that has been successfully marketing itself as empowering rather than endangering. “Even well-meaning family members would tell me not to share my experiences,” she writes, “because there’s a lot of shame and victim-blaming when it comes to abuse and the sex industry.” STORRY’s biggest asset is her willingness to tell her story – despite a world that silences people like her. Brava.

Check out the video for “Intimate Abuse” below, and a dozen more on her YouTube.

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Art by Scarlett Flynn

During my annual May/June burnout I ended up sleeping on some incoming tunes that needed to be heard, but I knew I had to go back to through the inbox for May release “Sour in the Sun” by Scarlett Flynn. Woozy bass and keys paint a downtempo portrait behind Flynn’s enigmatic voice. It sounds a little like Kate Bush fertilized Portishead’s egg sac. It’s another song ruminating on lockdown ennui, a common theme these days, but Scarlett Flynn presents it through a “horror of choices” that color the illustration vividly: “I haven’t decided yet/celery or cigarette/to sour in the sun or split the water/to reach for the gun or the stars.”

The track comes off Scarlett Flynn’s upcoming solo album Living is Hell. This is her debut after fifteen years of co-lead vocals with pop/folk outfit Running Red Lights. Check out the video below, too.

Scarlett Flynn BandcampScarlett Flynn WebsiteScarlett Flynn Linktree

left to right: Eric Dover, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Tim Smith

From the minds of melodic masters comes a new bag of dreamy alt-rock tunes. The Lickerish Quartet is comprised of Jellyfish alumni Eric Dover, Roger Joseph Manning Jr, and Tim Smith (the fourth member of the quartet must be WE, the listeners). Unlike Volume 1 and Volume 2, THREESOME: Volume 3 is spacier and dreamier, and perhaps a little dark. Written pre-2017 and subject to pain-in-the-ass COVID logistics, these guys outfitted their home studios to record, mix, and finalize this collaboration, and the results are gorgeous.

The EP takes off with pop-rock bopper “Fortunately.” The song is a call to awaken from the fear of the underworld and live in your choices in the present. The keys and harmonic background vocals give it a really dreamy affect. There’s some sinister imagery in the song (“a powerful child who tortures then grieves.” sticks out to me) but it juxtaposes with the sweetness of the melody to create a kind of feel-good agnosticism, if that’s a thing.

The second track, “New Days,” is a spaced out hippie jam that sounds like the grandchild of ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky with touch of indica. Heady and woozy, the lyrics seem to tell of reflection and periods of transition that come and go in one’s life. The way the lyrics have a monotone affect really help the bridge come alive. This one is meant to be enjoyed while laying on fresh grass during a “purple orange” sunset, after an afternoon fadoodle (if ya catch my drift).

It took me a minute to dig the third track, “You All Alone,” because it does that thing where the drums sound out of sync with the song and it takes a few bars for it to snap into place and start rocking. But from there, the different flavors of sound marinate and that’s when the song really starts to soar. Suddenly there’s a surprise turn and the tune ends with an unexpectedly dramatic energy. I didn’t expect it to become my fave of the EP, but this one really grew on me.

The EP ends strong with “In The Meantime,” a familiar lamentation for anyone who feels caught stagnating in the world as it is while darkness looms on the horizon. The lyrics ask, “Where do we go in the meantime? When all of our love’s by the wayside/Turning my cheek to the sunshine we go down without a fight.” Perhaps delicately political, perhaps not, this tune feels a lot like waiting to hit bottom so we can start climbing back up again. Is it powerlessness or patience? It is hard to know.

Time and time again, the alumni of that beloved gelatinous aquarian pop group create sounds that make the mouth water. Smart lyrics and psychedelic pop sounds make THREESOME Volume 3 a great addition to an alt-rock playlist.

The Lickerish Quartet: THREESOME Vol 3TLQ WebsiteTLQ Instagram

Les Cooper knows how to set the mood. Hailing from the Toronto area, this multi-instrumentalist and producer has a long history of orchestrating ambivances through working with musicians, symphonies, and television shows. With his new release Noise, Cooper uses his decades of skills to paint portraits of uncertainty. Gentle but tinkling rhythms and a solid emotional core make Noise a really flavorful listen.

Noise starts with “Stranger,” a tune that gets a little deeper under my skin with each play. The album’s second track, “Noise,” shimmies with a bossa-nova flavor and hummingbird vocals of Caroline Marie Brooks. Despite its anxious lyrics, it vibes more like abandoning Saturday evening plans for Hulu rather than braving the outside world. It ends up being a standout track, the most upbeat of the bunch, and the one with the “date night with the boo” flavor. It’s also a great showcase of Cooper’s vocals, which are warm with a touch of elevating rasp.

Gorgeous video for Best Of You by Anne Douris

“Best of You” is a thoughtful nodder about being stuck under the weight of others’ good intentions, when the world, even at its best, can be smothering. “And the world pulls you ’round/and the sky pulls you down to the ground,” Cooper illustrates, that illustrates powerlessness to one’s routines. Further, “Keep It Down” seems like an answer to “Noise,” like the far end of a relationship when curling up doesn’t seem like the safe place it used to be. Cooper conveys that sense of and tension isolation in his lyrics. It rolls with a country melancholy played on something with a bow (“cinematic strings” he calls them in a blurb). Together, these three songs seem to (in my mind) illustrate the conflict of whether internal spaces are fences or prison walls, or perhaps a bit of both.

Noise is a great record for lovers of acoustic guitar sounds with not-too-much electrical diddling. It’s just so carefully put together that it’ll draw you in and trap you. I get flavors of Massive Attack and later-years Talk Talk. Check it out.

Noise LPLes Cooper WebsiteLes Cooper Instagram

Eaddy and TheOGM of Ho99o9

Cut to a chilly Saturday night at Bowery Ballroom. The stores are closed, but whole street glistens with spray-painted names and signs. A young *somebody* in a hand-altered hoodie is having his photo and video taken by onlookers. A clown-faced goth waits for her friends in front of a tequila bar. Randoms donned in black get their last burn of rolled flower before getting their wristbands. Some fresh-faced kid tries to take a piss in the waning daylight while his friend stands guard. New York City.

I’m mostly a stranger to the many worlds of hip hop. Until recently I hadn’t found that band that gave me an “in” to start really looking around the alternative hip hop universe. Then M-S-G OG Soda invited me to a free show one Halloween night to see Ho99o9, a band he saw open for Korn. Holy fucking shit. I got to watch TheOGM tear a wedding dress off of his body while being assaulted with the most guttural cyber-queer industrial noise I have ever heard. It was glorious and terrifying at the same time. So when Soda told me they were coming around again, I knew I had to be there.

The show starts with Baseville, a duo of New Jersey locals known as The General and Hoddy the Young Jedi. It didn’t take long until the crowd jumped into a frenzy and a pit opened up. Baseville’s beats are deep and deliberate and throbbing with noise, and it suddenly occurs to me how close punk and hip-hop really are in terms of attitude and rage. “Never Nothing No More” sticks in my head as a song with a kind of frustrated gravity, while one of their other tunes held a repetitious refrain of “I’m working” that that caught me as a little mischievous. The songs rang quick and short and burned with noisy undertones. The set ends, and Soda comments about already seeing a bloodied face in the men’s room. “He’s like, ‘do I need stitches? Do I need them yet?,'” quoting a stage diver worried about the impact of his head wound on his viewing experience. That kind of night.

I had no idea what to expect from N8NOFACE, only knowing that my friends heard good things. I’m burning up the last sips of a vodka double when up on stage comes this man with a glorious moustache and crazed expression. He simply declares “I’m N8NOFACE and this is synth punk.” Seconds later this man is shouting his stories of drugs and sobriety, murder and suicide, all over fast-paced darkwave synths. Who the fuck brings Xymox to the hip hop kids? N8NOFACE does, with an austere DIY setup and his own devilish madness. He pulls his shirt up over his own head and beats his own face while screaming in a kind of excited rage, as if reveling in his self punishment. He switches between devil horns and post-punk shimmying. His gruff facade fits right in with the gangster genre, but he’s got a sense of humor about himself, too. There’s also something nougaty he’s trying to show you in his mentions of lost friends, or his request for kindness at his sole acoustic number. I immediately swarmed his table and bought the good shit. N8 is one to watch.

N8NOFACE

Then came 999. Past mixtures of punk and hip-hop were never my flavor, but the two genres become blood brothers here. Eaddy ironically sports an L.A.P.D. tee to poke at the law, a favorite song topic. The cacophony is noisy and rhythmic, and the crowd pumps in time. Someone jumps on stage at the start, brandishing a shirt that says “God is Gay” to “a roar of enthusiasm,” as Olivia Cieri of Invisible Oranges writes. Stage jumpers make OGM and Eaddy light up. “Motherfucking Action Bronson” they call one tattooed fella who jumps into the crowd. I worry that the crowd parted for his landing. Dark thumping beats vibrate the brain stem during fan favorites like “Bone Collector” and “Battery Not Included.” At one point, Hoddy sits on the side of the stage watching the show, still in his orange jumper, before using his Young Jedi mind tricks to make eye contact with the pit and launch himself into the crowd. I swallow my last double so I can free my hands to pump with the crowd.

A brief interlude as we approach the end of the show and TheOGM lights a joint and sways softly to Crystal Waters’ legendary house track, “Gypsy Woman.” I see his head and shoulders hanging backward in a cloud of smoky ecstasy, thick dreads falling down his back, *feefeefeeling* it. The lyrics thicken now that they’re nestled between Ho99o9’s biting assaults on police brutality, politics, and dystopia. He then smiles and then flirts at Eaddy, who strips off his teeshirt to reveal a tattooed musculature. Eaddy responds with a grin. TheOGM is repulsive and divine… and terrifyingly sexy.

Ho99o9 is just full of these wild juxtapositions, sometimes darkly comedic, causing them to pull up a really diverse crowd. “Punks, goths, queers and queens,” Soda says, noting the sprawl, a melting pot of subcultures others would think too insular to meld like this. In front of me, a duo of elder punks make space to avoid of the clutches of the pit. Across the floor, rave kids in bunnies and rainbows talk to hip-hop kids in all black streetwear. Kids in Los-Angelean baseball jerseys share the floor with platform-boot goth girls and genderfuckers, all united by the horror and political rage and dirt of lives lived in America’s economic taint. It seems it’s the one thing we all have in common.

Hoddy & Baseville BandcampBaseheadTV Youtube

N8NOFACE BandcampN8NOFACE Linktree

Ho99o9 InstagramHo99o9 Website

Conduit of Humanity is less of a band and more of a collective. Spearheaded by alt-popper Fred Jeske and engineer Joe Maydak, Conduit of Humanity is a vehicle for 90s-style alt and prog collaborations with various artists through the magic of COVID-era dropbox technology. Their newest project, Siren Songs from Another World, is a lamentation on the grim state of the environment, healing from disasters, and our fears for the future.

Siren Songs starts with “Shine Out,” an alt-rock flavor reminiscent of Veruca Salt thanks to Candice Latimer’s vocals. “Shine Out” is replete with drum flourishes and a bit of discord to keep you on your toes. Female vocals seem to take center stage on Siren Songs. The third track, “Hoaxes,” features Latimer again, also remixed in a downtempo style to great effect by Lexi Stern later in the album. The sixth track, “Another World,” is beautiful and mellow in its lamentations, adding a bit of organ and another gorgeous female vocal contribution from Stern.

Themes of environmental disaster travel through the album. “Our Saving Grace” is a pretty but despairing piano and guitar number lamenting humanity’s penchant for self-destruction, a theme that continues into epic “Sirens Sing.” Moments of this one sound like Heavy Metal soundtrack classic, “All Of You.” It seems appropriate considering Heavy Metal’s dystopian themes, and considering that Conduits of Humanity started as a result of a Todd Rundgren festival in California’s ever-at-risk Redwood Forests.

Mellow and proggy, Siren Songs From Another World is good for curling up on a gray day to ruminate on the big picture.

Conduit of Humanity BandcampConduit of Humanity InstagramRescord Recordings

I was doing some tourism in Oaxaca last February. Oaxaca is a punk town, painted in street art and radical graffiti. It’s not without reason – Oaxaca is a locus for economic and racial inequality in Mexico. Music and art posters are wet-glued to the same walls where spraypaint scrawls decry the harms of capitalism, femicide, and state violence. While I ate up the daytime’s offerings of street art, punk, and culture, I couldn’t get out to see much of the musical nightlife. Nonetheless, I snapped pics of these two posters of bands coming through town that would help me savor some of what Oaxacan music kids might listen to between making rad art and bucking the system. These two posters go back to a small party scene called the Gothic Oaxaca Underground, who seems to host all these dope little shows with bands mostly hailing from Mexico City. So I decided to dig into some flavors of the Mexican goth scene (bands only) and see what’s shaking en la discotheque.

Leonora Post-Punk

Leonora Post-Punk was touring behind the release of their new EP, Polvo. It’s very stripped down monotone goth descendent of Joy Division. It’s just enough for a stomp and a bob if you’re in that kind of mood. The EP’s sexy third track “El Contraluz” was recorded at Mexico City’s “Hipnotize Festival” in 2021. The fourth track of Polvo, “Torpe” grew on me most.

Leonora Post Punk BandcampLeonora Post Punk Instagram

Stockhaussen

Stockhaussen is the composer Angel Kauff, who composes dark electric music. I listened to their latest release, “Musica Electronica Oscura,” with some enthusiasm. It’s minimalist synth travels at fast pace, creating an energetic series of songs, but without too many vocals. “Let’s dance Tonight” probably pounds the floor into a sweat frenzy. Kauff does well to build atmospheric tension. Moments feel like twilight in the batcave – just the way I like it.

Stockhaussen BandcampStockhaussen Instagram

Werner Karloff

Werner Karloff’s Atemporal EP just came out in March. Even a passing knowledge of Werner Karloff’s two namesakes is enough to pin the tail on this artist. Danceable and darkly monotone, Karloff’s beats are just upbeat and accessible, and the vocals are nice in that German art-rock kind of way. Fifth track “Visitas” builds such good atmosphere and instantly sticks out to me.

Werner Karloff’s BandcampWerner Karloff’s Instagram

Schrödinger

Schrödinger keeps up the post punk tempos but is more a grandchild of Bauhaus than anyone else. Their debut, Last Days on Earth, is solid start to finish. “Visions” is a track that one could play for a goth fashion show, while “Murder” hits like an early Cure remix. To be fair, it’s because the vocals do sound faintly of a young and very distant Robert Smith. “Dying Sun,” the album’s tenth track, plays a lot more with guitar tones and is pretty gorgeous on its own, evoking lots of emotions, and should not be missed.

Schrödinger vis SwissDarkNights BandcampSchrödinger Instagram

P.R.E.Y.

P.R.E.Y. is a Oaxaca-based darkwave artist who makes some interesting and engaging keyboard choices on their self-titled Demo. It has an arty fashion flavor that has me seeing them play behind models stomping in black dresses. The vocals have a smooth chocolatey element that sticks out. “Knees Pain” is a standout track.

P.R.E.Y. BandcampP.R.E.Y. Instagram

Fledgling but upwardly mobile, Mexican goth is developing an interesting scene with new vamps who are adding some creative new entries to today’s worldwide Goth Revival. Spare some pennies for the up and comers via Bandcamp if you’re feeling sassy. But if what you’re looking for is some goth playlist clout, you’re sure to find some in the Mexican goth scene.

I need to throw some love at this duo. Hailing from an empty cargo freighter wired with black lights and a subwoofer the size of a Chevrolet (California), Male Tears are fresh off of their second album Trauma Club and are still going strong with new single “Domin8.” More Xymox than Depeche, “Domin8” is a cigarette-length goth-night-at-the-club stomper – 98% ethically-sourced pure cacao darkwave. Sturdy and kinky, the groans of “capitulate” and “rid me of my soul” reveal masochistic self-loathing, but that beat is all thrust, baby. Male Tears, comprised of duo James Edward and Frank Shark, seem to be mixing their potion a little better with each release.

Also check out the fun aesthetic on their recent video for Trauma Club banger “Model Citizen.”

Male Tears BandcampMale Tears InstagramMale Tears Linktree

Now this crew puts on a one-of-a-kind show. Hailing from Los Angeles, this five piece has a cult following for their raucous combination of punk and funk, and for good reason – behind the space-punk aesthetic and DIY ethic is otherworldly musicianship. Being that the critical mass of the band is educated in jazz and are prone to inventiveness, their new live album Live at the Echo becomes a whirlwind of genre-bending talent and high energy fun. They know how to yank a person out of their head and onto the Space Barn, where all that matters is sweat, dance, and joy.

Live at the Echo captures their lunacy from the get. Compared to album versions, songs take on faster speeds and add unique musical elements that ensure no live show is ever just “playing the album.” They remind me of the phrase “tight but loose” from Led Zeppelin’s canon. Thump shows give you the sensation that anything can happen. Maybe it’s an otherworldly sax solo on “Alien” that saxophonist Henry Solomon thought of in the moment. Or it could be keyboardist Paul Cornish adding a random classical undercurrent in the middle of “Flamingo Song.” Maybe it’s Logan Kane’s utterly ridiculous bass skills that make me wonder where he’s hiding his extra fingers, because there’s no way he’s doing all that with just the ten. You don’t know what you’re going to get, and sometimes the mix is so brash and unexpected you go the fuck? but only long enough to realize it’s working, and boy aren’t you glad you just experienced something you never experienced before?

And what is life but a series of moments – as a culture of humans watching our own mortality slowly decline on devices that eat away at our consciousness, wouldn’t it be gnarly to be able to experience the unexpected with awesome results for a change? We are a people that desperately need to start living to the beat of Henry Was and his drum kit and his slick kshhhhk kshhhhk bounce. There’s this part on “Space Barn,” you can hear it, where he does this *tibbytibbytap* and it palpates my brain stem. There’s an endless number of spicy little flourishes.

And then there’s Lucas Tamaren. Lucas is a maestro of the crowd’s energy, leading the Space Barn passengers through the highs and lows of the journey through his vocals and guitar. It’s Lucas that is the chief songwriter, so lots of these lyrics and melodies are infused with his comedic sensibility while also being so easy to grasp and relate with emotionally. Songs have this disarming honesty that’s wrapped in self-affirmation and even optimism. And then he fucking screams into the microphone. Because why not? Don’t you just want to scream sometimes, too? His screaming is not abrasive, it’s cathartic, and it’s inflected just right between his speech-singing and random scatting and the occasionally very lovely singing.

If I had to choose, I would suggest music-lovers watch the live video. Firstly, the video allows sixth Thump Ben Benjamin to showcase his essential contributions to the Thump aesthetic in the form of visuals. The show is reframed as a rebellion against the digital lobotomization we’re experiencing as un/willing participants in the soul-deadening metaverse (she says, after losing an hour to useless yet hypnotizing Facebook reels). It turns out rebellion looks a lot like dancing your jiggly ass off and shaking the numbness that bogs us down in the blue screen light. It’s this aspect of the Thumpaverse canon that gets me, because having universal worldwide super-villains lets me see Thumpasaurus as heroic underdogs. Secondly, Lucas is an absolute madman and he never stops. As a front man he is charismatic as hell, and his drag is giving constant face every time he twiddles something glorious on his guitar or delivers a lyric in character. You can also catch members of the band giving each other glances as they whip out new skills, perpetually impressed with each other, as if to say “check this shit out… no check this shit out.” Director Oliver Salk captured all of that electricity.

Keep ears (and eyes) open for a uniquely beautiful version of “Beta Lupi” with Paul Cornish giving it a baroque (the fuck?) accompaniment, and a surprise version of “Lovin’ You” you might otherwise only find if you peruse the deep corners of their Youtube. (That said, go peruse the corners of their YouTube). Live at the Echo is worth 90 minutes of your loosest socks-on-a-hardwood-floor dance energy, and is a proper analogue until the Space Barn sets down in your own neck of the woods.

Live at the Echo (Youtube)Thumpasaurus InstagramLive at the Echo (Spotify)

Trying to write while neck deep in the grind means sometimes good tunes fall through the cracks. Here I’m going to offer my inbox some relief while sharing worthy musical goodness with you lovable clickers. Five tunes not to miss coming right up!

Opeongo – tragedy

Artwork by Patrick Decourcy

Opeongo’s voice is so uniquely clear that it paints “tragedy” in bold colors.  His tone is sweet and vaguely nasal that it feels like Steve Harley, making “tragedy” feel very glam. It nods so good and demands your attention.  The lyrics tell a grim story of Canadian-indigenous genocide, but end in the potential for hope as voices like Opeongo’s try and remember history so it never repeats.  It’s gorgeous and sorrowful, and that voice will stick to you.

Listen to “tragedy”Opeongo FacebookOpeongo Bandcamp

Down With Space – We Were Strangers

“We Were Strangers” has a post-punk drum flavor and an electro agenda.  The chorus has that kind of foot-stomping energy that is completely magnetic.  The result is a pop tension that feels a lot like 1am with four drinks in the gullet, about to make a very exciting bad decision.  Vaguely nostalgic, exacerbated by the video’s visuals as the viewer perpetually leaves everything behind. There’s just something about that combination of tones that is so compelling.

We Were Strangers VideoDown With Space InstagramDown With Space Bandcamp

Lydia Persaud – Good For Us

Soulful, smooth, and cool as hell, Lydia Persaud’s “Good For Us” is the flavor of self-care and new clarity. Simple rhythm and delicate guitar let Persaud’s voice wash over and cleanse the soul as she sings the praises of time away from one’s lover. The video sees Persaud smudging away the bad vibes and spending some much-needed personal time with her besties. Send the other half out for groceries and roll out the bath bombs to melt into this one.

Good For Us VideoLydia Persaud InstagramLydia Persaud Bandcamp

John Orpheus – House of Cards (Radiohead Cover)

It’s hard to top an original, but John Orpheus gives and old favorite new breath in his Afro-pop cover of Radiohead’s “House of Cards.” Capitalizing on the original’s minimalist percussion, Orpheus adds delicate Caribbean rhythm that gives the song a new optimism. His vocals feel a bit like Phil Collins at moments. Refreshingly honest, video director Patrick Hodgson illustrates the tune with images of real couples in love, from the joyful to the mildly erotic, which capture the (often underrepresented) love shared in a long-term relationships.

House Of Cards by John Orpheus VideoJohn Orpheus InstagramJohn Orpheus Bandcamp

Agath Christ – Blood

It starts like a post-punk electro tune until the beat takes on this off-kilter syncopation that rests on the border between darkwave and electro jazz, if there is one. Noisy and tense, “Blood” is trying desperately to break through the weighted chains of our algorithmic technological oppression. “Blood” is visceral, and stressful, and so very easy to connect with if you’ve ever felt overburdened by the world as it has been engineered. Visuals show (what I interpret as) sufferers escaping their homes to find the last vestige of land free from the looming pressures of technocracy, only able to find rest by laying in the woods in snow. I get it – screens can start to feel like prison walls. Engage with this one.

Blood VideoAgath Christ InstagramAgath Christ Bandcamp

Try ’em out! Let me know what you think in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.