New Track: Alien Chicks – ‘Cowboy’

A riotous fever dream of a song, ‘Cowboy‘ by GIHE faves (and ‘Ones To Watch‘ for 2023) Alien Chicks has themes of regret, confusion and self blame holding up its foundations. The track has a surreal feel to it that echoes the way these feelings surface in the subconscious; amorphous and jarring.

The song begins with a mellow vibe. Soft, low vocals float over music that complements them, but it’s already moving at a fast pace. The beat is quick, with a sense of tension coiled within it that hints at what awaits as the song ramps up to the chorus. The repeated “I am nervous” gets neither louder nor faster, but you can feel that tension growing within it – subtly but still noticeable, until it crashes into the discordant clash of the chorus.

The structure echoes the feelings that the song captures – regret and blame and self-doubt often creep up on you. The way they fester under the surface until it feels like they’ve been triggered by the most insignificant of misfortunes – a cut lip becoming the final broken straw that allows a broiling and chaotic eruption of emotions to burst through. The lyrics are chaotic; they take you on a bizarre journey that sucks you into the weirdness of it until, seemingly spontaneously, it makes its own unique sense. It captures that dreamlike feeling of reality being visible but not quite within reach. 

The juxtaposition of the gentler verses, versus the hectic instrumental clashes in the chorus, throws you around. The theme of intense confusion is as much baked into the tortuous lyrics as they are the cacophonous sounds.

‘Cowboy’ ends abruptly, jolting you sharply out of the journey it’s on and back to reality. It feels like you’ve lurched out of its dream, left alone to recalibrate with just threads and whispers left behind. Throughout the track, you can feel the way that a wide variety of different genres have influenced Alien Chicks’ music style; they’ve been combined in ways that jar, but with obvious intention. It’s a carefully constructed and instantly immersive song that knows exactly how it wants you to feel and nails it. A perfect example of the relentless funk-fuelled punk-rock that this unique South London trio are able to create.

‘Cowboy’ is out now via Slow Dance Records. Make sure you catch Alien Chicks live sometime soon – it’s an incredible experience! Details on their UK April tour below, and tickets for their Lexington headline show on 19th April here.

Kirstie Summers / @ActuallyKurt
Photo Credit: Lauren Cremer

Track Of The Day: The Famous Daxx – ‘Treetops’

A deceptively light tune, ‘Treetops‘ by The Famous Daxx has layers you won’t notice at a glance. Inspired by fairy tales, the song has a playfulness in its music combined with heart-wrenching pain in the lyrics, which deconstruct the stories we take for granted as being light-hearted just because they are told to children.

‘Treetops’ is set long after the story of Hansel and Gretel’s abandonment by their father. It is sung from Gretel’s perspective as she laments the death of her brother at his own hand, after finally succumbing to the trauma of his childhood. The song makes a statement about masculinity and mental health, and its impact on men’s lives, whilst also being an exploration of how it feels to love someone struggling with their mental health and the conflicting, long lasting emotions that tragedy can trigger.

It’s a gentle song; the vocals are soft, and flow delicately over almost playful slide guitars. The sorrow in the words and the darkness of the subject matter overall is hidden by the air of lightness in the music, which itself acts as a challenge to our perception of stories. Much like the original tale, the sweetness of the sound masks the suffering at its core.

‘Treetops’ doesn’t have a happy ending. In the same breath that Gretel resolves to speak out, she fails to break the cycle – “This time I will speak my mind / I open my mouth but nothing comes out” – leaving her pain lingering in the air. The track is profound, but doesn’t pretend to have answers to the helplessness Gretel feels; it laments that all Gretel’s love ultimately couldn’t save her brother from his pain, and knows there isn’t an easy solution that can be condensed into a three minute song. But it leaves you with the undeniable conviction that it’s worth the work it will take to find one anyway.

‘Treetops’ is out now, ahead of The Famous Daxx’s upcoming debut EP TFD.

Kirstie Summers
@actuallykurt

Photo Credit: Hannah Mason

Track Of The Day: The Empty Page – ‘Dry Ice’

Inspired by pre-lockdown nightlife, ‘Dry Ice‘ by Manchester’s The Empty Page is a love letter to the sweaty, hedonistic club nights that, despite the world gradually opening up again, haven’t quite returned to their former glory.

From the first bars, the track captures the essence of glowsticks in a dark room, the woozy joy of seeing their shine blurred by smoke and alcohol. But the sweetness of it is underlined by a sad sense of nostalgia brought on by the sheer distance of the memory. The lyrics follow the narrative of a night out, but in a way that feels like the hungover snatches of it that flash back to you later on; the verses capture those moments that stay with you one at a time, a blissful blur of strings and synths between them.

The Empty Page have chosen their moments perfectly – they’ve selected those liminal experiences that stay with you because of their simplicity. The smell of sweat and hairspray spilling out into the fresh air through an open door, the luxury of dressing up only to mess up that perfect outfit before you get home, the carbs you desperately need on your wobbly way home. The track hits those universal moments that are never the highlight of a night out, but are the very familiar beats that it’s all too easy to feel nostalgic about now. All these elements throughout the verses culminate in the pure hedonistic joy of being lost in the chorus; the wailing vocals and screaming guitars ramp up into that heady moment of pure euphoria when you forget who you are and just get caught in the crowd and the music.

‘Dry Ice’ highlights the magic in those simple moments. It effortlessly recreates the sense of togetherness that comes from being in a room full of strangers dancing as one. In the limbo between pre and post pandemic activities, the song is both a celebration and commiseration, with a conflicting but captivating emotional kick.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt

Track Of The Day: Weekend Recovery – ‘Chemtrails’

Weekend Recovery’s latest track, ‘Chemtrails‘, is a direct response to the rampant spread of misinformation, both on unregulated social channels and in the mainstream news media. From start to finish, the song captures the emotional journey of watching dangerous lies spread through your community. It takes the frustration and annoyance of that experience, and condenses it into a few minutes of unbelievably catchy music.

‘Chemtrails’ hits heavy from the start, with fuzzy guitars, throbbing drums and lyrics delivered in a way that aches with feeling driving them. By titling the track, the band have created a clever metaphor that bleeds into its structure – it takes a conspiracy theory popularised by tools spreading misinformation, and uses it to critique those exact tools. It’s a fun parallel that shows the group’s skills when it comes to crafting lyrics with depth, nuance and sharp commentary.

The lyrics strike that delicate balance between being relatable, while still capturing a specific moment. A huge proportion of the people listening to this song will know the exhaustion of hearing another tired cover of Freebird at an open mic; it wouldn’t surprise me if the band (perhaps each member individually) and every one of those listeners will have the face in mind of a specific bland performer who finally tipped the scales and made Freebird unlistenable for them. These words are fuelled by vocals soaked with feeling – there is an initial aggression to them that captures the rage you feel seeing people legitimise dangerous lies. They relax into an almost spoken section heavy with sarcasm that is cathartic to hear. These are bookended by upbeat, bouncy lines that let you fall back into the space where, if nothing else, you have to laugh at the situation. The strings ramp up to the climatic finish to wrap all those emotions into a powerful scream, which swiftly drops back into the bouncy vocals before it implodes like your mental health after too much time in the wrong corner of Twitter.

In ‘Chemtrails’, Weekend Recovery have captured the nuanced anguish of being caught in a constant untrustworthy news cycle, and made it catchy as hell at the same time.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt

Photo Credit: Keira Anee Photography