U.S. Girls is Illinois-born, Toronto-based artist Meghan Remy, who releases her new album Half Free on September 25th.
A captivating musical force, Remy has evolved from the raw, corrosive 4-track fidelity found on her early records to the unabashed art-pop of recent work (U.S. Girls on KRAAK, 2011; Gem, 2012). Her work has increasingly shone a light on her unique voice – at once both acidic and saccharine – with recent efforts managing to “widen and universalize her music without losing a drop of what previously made it so special and personal” (Pitchfork).
Half Free is Remy’s first album for 4AD and is her most realised yet, focusing on characters in everyday struggles, with narratives inspired by the work of director John Cassavetes and Bruce Springsteen. Throughout, Remy explores themes relating to abuse and gender inequality, whether the broken wife in ‘Sororal Feelings’ (a track loosely based on the character Nora Bass in Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter), or the exasperated war widow in ‘Damn That Valley’, soundtracked by its intoxicating combination of thick dub flavours and Wall of Sound dramatics.
Other tracks include the glam stomp of ‘Sed Knife’, a minimal song poem (which first appeared on a 7” back in 2012) recast here as a Misfits flavoured rocker; and the lush Cocteau Twins-laced 80s soul of ‘Navy & Cream’. Elsewhere, Half Free finds Remy ripping into Gloria Ann Taylor’s 70s deep-cut disco to create the wondrously dramatic heartbreak of ‘Window Shades’ (written after Meg watched the Katy Perry movie, Part of Me), before closing on ‘Woman’s Work’; a nagging, arpeggio-laced ode to Moroder that picks at themes of beauty, anxiety and paralysis in the face of ageing.
Part of a vibrant Toronto scene, both Meg’s husband Slim Twig (DFA) and Onakabazien (who produced three tracks here) have again been summoned for the U.S. Girls roll call. Half Free also features Amanda Crist (Ice Cream), who provides vocals alongside Meg on a number of songs including ‘Damn That Valley’ and ‘Woman’s Work’, and Ben Cook (Fucked Up, Young Guv), who worked with Meg on the track ‘Red Comes In Many Shades’.
Half Free is an enchanting document of life at the point when it feels most on its knife-edge.
“Fiver is the solo project of Toronto-born and raised singer and songwriter Simone Schmidt, known for fronting The Highest Order (a band that just released its debut album, If It’s Real, back in March, 2013) and the acclaimed country outfit One Hundred Dollars. No matter which name she is performing under, two strengths of Schmidt’s that immediately arrest you are that voice – awesome and haunting, strong as oak but sanded with sublime vulnerability – and the palpable Dust Bowl-thick instrumental air that fleshes out the mood of every song. Each is so commanding that it’s a testament to her gifts for bleak, poetic firepower and sure-handed nuance that neither crumbles under the magnitude of the other.” – Justin Wesley, No Depression
NOTHING BAND is the single cell faucet of multi-instrumentalist Max Nordile, currently of Oakland, CA. Nordile has done time in Uzi Rash, The Trashies, Wet Drag, and now serves in The Blues and Violence Creeps. Nothing Band has been “giving home recording a bad name” (Keith Rossen, Razorcake), since 2014, has produced 4 full length, self released cassette tape albums of “maximum ineptitude and ramshackle noise” (Dave Hyde, Terminal Boredom) and performs “angular and awkward” live shows of “it’s clearly not music” (Robert Collins, Terminal Escape) infrequently. Nothing Band is currently in the bathroom and kitchen finishing up its 5th, 6th and 7th albums.