with Great Grandpa and The Spook School
Diet Cig are here to have fun. They’re here to tear you away from the soul-sucking sanctity of your dumpster-fire life and replace it with pop-blessed punk jams about navigating the impending doom of adulthood when all you want is to have ice cream on your birthday.
Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums) have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman’s previous band for a lighter. The New York duo have since released the infectious, 2015 ‘Over Easy’ EP that introduced consistent sing-a-long lyrics with thrashing drums and strums that never held back.
‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is the first full-length from the band and accumulates their tenacity for crafting life-affirming, relatable tales with a gutsy heart at their core. Luciano has the ability to write lyrics that are both vulnerable and badass, perfecting a storm of emotive reflection that creates a vision of a sweaty, pumped-up room screaming these lines in unison. Diet Cig make it okay to be the hot mess that you are.
But there’s also a deeper, more powerful fuck-you among the bangers that see Diet Cig grow into an unstoppable and inspiring force. “I’m not being dramatic, I’ve just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be” spits Luciano on “Link in Bio”; “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry” she yells on “Maid Of The Mist”. It’s the sound of a band doing things on their own terms.
Wrapping up ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ on Halloween 2016, exactly two years after they finished recording ‘Over Easy’ on Halloween 2014, Diet Cig’s first, full-length LP validates the experiences of punks who aren’t always accepted first time around; the punks who throw their deuces up at the dominating bro-dudes and ignite the importance of owning everything that you are.
Plastic Cough, the fantastic debut full length from Seattle WA’s Great Grandpa, is bursting with grunge and pop sensibilities focused around the legendary indie rock sound that’s dominated the Pacific Northwest music scene for the past three decades.
Great Grandpa began in Seattle in 2014 when guitarist & vocalist Patrick Goodwin recruited bassist Carrie Miller, drummer Cam LaFlam, and vocalist Alex Menne to form a humble rock band. Inspired by the pop-sensible alternative rock of the 90’s, and offset by a mutual love for noise and math rock, the group set forth to write and record their first EP.
During recording, guitarist Dylan Hanwright joined the group, solidifying the lineup. Great Grandpa began performing in the Seattle area in late 2014, frequenting the city’s DIY venues. In March of 2015, their debut EP Can Opener was released on Broken World Media. The EP was met with considerable praise, and has been described as “warm, slightly off-kilter grunge pop”, and “knotty, twisted, and warm rock music that’s as melodically satisfying as it is, at times, confounding.”
Great Grandpa began writing their debut LP soon after, and found themselves touring the western US and performing extensively in the Seattle area. Written in 2015 and 2016, Great Grandpa’s debut LP Plastic Cough continues to explore the sonic territory visited in Can Opener, exhibiting infectious melodies across a range of backdrops, from quiet bedroom-pop to explosive, anthemic rock. Plastic Cough is out July 7th via Double Double Whammy.
If a debut LP is an artist’s introduction to the world and their sophomore release is their now-or-never moment, their third is their most cathartic. Glasgow,Scotland’s indie pop optimists The Spook School, despite personal and political obstacle, made it out, and their latest full-length Could It Be Different? is here. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and feel-good realism; modern, dance-friendly indie pop fueling the fun. They made a name for themselves for their exultant and empowering pop, and now, they’ve shown real growth in nuance.
The Spook School are Nye Todd (guitar/vocals), Anna Cory (bass/vocals), Adam Todd (guitar/vocals) and Niall McCamley (drums). Since forming in 2012, they’ve released two records to critical acclaim: 2013’s Dress Up, a gender-binary eradicating release—noisy, cheery pop critical of social construction and its limitations, and 2015’s Try to Be Hopeful, a celebration of queer and trans identities from a place of newfound self-assurance.
Could It Be Different? Is, well, different—it’s a collaborative album of personal storytelling that works through life’s hardships with positivity—even at their most beaten down, The Spook School manage to find hope free of naivety. That’s clear the second the album opens with “Still Alive,” and its ascending chorus (and soon-to- be crowd favorite) of “Fuck You, I’m Still Alive,” written by Nye after surviving an emotionally abusive relationship. The song avoids villainizing the past, instead, it celebrates the present and welcomes the unknown future.
Could It Be Different? is a human release—a record full of the insecurities and anxiety that arrive after self-awareness, in learning something new and potentially frightening about yourself. But at it’s heart is joy—there’s no desolation on the LP, because The Spook School manage to find light in moments of darkness. All things glum must pass—even if hope comes only in the form of acceptance.
“We try to take sad songs and not shy away from them, but come out thinking ‘things will change.’ Otherwise everything would be dreadful and I feel bad enough as it is,” Niall laughs. “We need a bit of light in our lives.” Adam agrees, “We started this for fun. We want our shows to be fun. We want the people who come to our shows to feel welcomed, and to have fun. There’s a bit of party in our songs, no matter what the subject matter is.” Why cry when you can dance?