Album review: Alt Cape Suspenders

birdiebrackett on Bandcamp

Alt Cape Suspenders is birdiebrackett’s debut full-length album – the first of three released on the same day, including the deluxe/demo album – and it is a journey. birdiebrackett is the solo project of Luke Bravo, a Tulane student and Louisiana native. To partake in Bravo’s journey, though, headphones are required. Sonically and conceptually, it is both dense and dynamic. 

The album centers thematically around self-medication and the dark path that one can take in trying to help one’s self. That being said, the album sounds anything but dark with its catchy choruses and lovely harmonies. A good example is “My Baby,” a love song written from the perspective of a heroin addict. The songs “The Girl with the Black Hole Eyes” and “Talking to Myself Again” can stay stuck in my head for days on end. Dare I say, their melodies are addictive. 

This conceptual piece is not short on characters, with “Muffin Man” who needs to get his act together and “Ghost Boy” who’s just trying his best to be noticed. The production is full of flanged meandering guitar, lush synthesizers, harmonies on top harmonies, spread far and wide to create a full stereo soundscape. Admittedly, the songs can be somewhat difficult to distinguish; they’re are almost too cohesive. 

Concept albums are difficult to come by, and even more difficult to create. Alt Cape Suspenders is a very solid, very respectable attempt at one, and for that reason, I’ll say its overt cohesion is forgivable. On the surface, these are all songs that you can groove to; each one is a vibe. It’s the type of album you’d listen to while tripping on acid while laying under the moss-covered oak trees in Audubon or while drinking on a lazy afternoon, and in both cases, it showcases the irony of the album. It carries the same energy as a conversation between former addicts reminiscing, romanticizing their pasts while in rehab. Inevitably, those conversations end in a mutual acknowledgement that their joy was artificial, a desperate attempt at escaping pain. Their stories end with sobering denouements that justify why they stopped using. 

Which leads us to the only issue I have with this album: it’s hard to see its own justification. It is a beautiful, emotionally complex album, but I have trouble finding the song that tethers these drug-induced reveries to reality, no retrospective acknowledgement. Or maybe that’s the point. It’s hard to have a come-to-Jesus-moment when your instinct is to drown it out with “Schedule 1 substances,” as is sung about in “Talking to Myself Again.” After all, it’s not an aural anti-drug campaign. It’s art. You should listen for yourself.

Alt Cape Suspenders is available on Bandcamp as a name-your-price release.

Lurv!, a playlist

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

William Shakespeare, “All’s Well That Ends Well

Love, as stated in the Christmas cinema classic Love Actually, is everywhere. It’s in our personal lives, it’s marketed to us, we read works about it, we even listen to songs about the damn subject! I don’t need to tell you what love is, but I am gonna railroad ya with some fun facts about some of the songs on this extremely well-thought-out playlist.

Starting off with a bang, we have the 5’5 powerhouse and resident Mean Little Man, Van Morrison, who was apparently hiding from the Boston Mafia when this song was released! The Ronnettes? You mean the huge plot of Phil Spector to tokenize young black women, make money off of them, and then use his predatory nature to get the lead singer to marry him? Yes, but his “wall of sound” erases that in the music world. (He’s currently incarcerated, convicted of murder.)

But now, let’s move on to some happy facts. Yes, I have those too; I’m not just a Debbie Downer. “Ever Fallen in Love” is gay! Yes, GAY! A gay love song in 1978! Pete Shelley wrote it about another man he was living with at the time, and he later came out as bisexual. The first (widely considered) pop punk song is gay! Also, the drums were specifically set to that beat to imitate a heartbeat –– how cute.

Not to mention all of the amazing womxn on this playlist: FKA twigs (goddess), Joni Mitchell (badass), Lucinda Williams (poet), Linda Rondstadt (trailblazer), Empress Of (angel), and Mitski (all of the above). And a special shoutout to Brond from Just Friends, too! #BayAreaAroundTheWorld

Well, that’s all folks. I’ve exhausted the fun fact area of my brain. Just know this playlist is made with… love.

Kisses,

Juliana


Artist spotlight: DRTY BLND

ember warm by Rachel Kirkwood

On Thursday, DRTY BLND released her latest single “Bedroom”, which features an electronic pulse that will make you want to dance around your house in pajamas. The song was inspired by a night she spent with a lover, sleeping together on a mutual friend’s bedroom carpet while on a trip to Boston. As she further developed the lyrics, the song took on a more generalized narrative, becoming less about a particular instance and more about the exhilarating feeling of sexual tension and desire. Moreover, it addresses a commonplace dilemma for young adults and college students: trying to find intimate spaces while living an often communal, slightly nomadic dorm-to-dorm, lease-to-lease, hometown-to-hometown lifestyle. The echoed lyrics “Take me home tonight / I don’t want to leave this carpet / but I want our own bedroom” provide the song’s namesake, communicating the struggle of wanting to be alone with someone but not having a space that is fully yours.

DRTY BLND is a rising indie pop artist who can be found playing venues around Nashville, Tennessee. Gianna and I grew up together in the San Francisco Bay Area and were rarely seen as one without the other (except for her summers spent gigging around Barcelona, Spain with her high school band). Our friend group gave her the nicknames G and Bones, but she has chosen to go by the moniker DRTY BLND for all music purposes. DRTY BLND not only refers to the color of her hair throughout her childhood (and now, to an extent), but also her presence: reckless and fiery, with a hint of mystery.

She currently resides in Nashville, where she is pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology from Belmont University. While I often replay memories of her popping bottles of rosé Moscato on Northern California beaches and giggling at the dialogue of various sitcoms, I also have memories of her engaged in deeply analytical conversations, constantly dissecting topical concerns with each and every one of our peers. We share a star sign and the defining quality of a Virgo: completely unpacking and hyper-analyzing every situation, which is to say I’ve been on multiple ten-hour road trips with her and I can’t recall ever having a silent moment.

Matt Fox

My poem about her and us, “ember warm,” carries themes of neglect and the idea of home. The question posed – “what is home?” – is meant to contrast the typical conception of a home with the conceptions of home that Gianna and I share. The poem concludes that one definition of home, for me, is being with her – listening to music too loud, searching for the most striking Bay Area vistas we can find, and generally stirring the pot. I am not sure what her definition of home is, but she has expressed that her upcoming work will address more difficult topics, and I have good reason to believe her childhood experiences may be one of them.

DRTY BLND hopes to release a full-length album by summer 2020.  For now, you can stream “Bedroom” on Spotify and Apple Music

Links:
Instagram / Twitter

Playlist: Decay

“Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath,
And starts to set — but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!”

-Felicia Dorothea Hemans, “The Hour of Death”

The autumn season brings many exciting things to look forward to; the leaves changing colors, the holiday season, pumpkins, sweaters, Chameleon Cold Brew Pumpkin Spice Oat Milk Lattes, seasonal depression, a nice brisk cold that makes your face hurt when you’re walking and instantly regret getting out of your warm bed. What a cornucopia of stimulating activities! But seriously, fall represents the preparation for change that the winter will definitely bring and this playlist is here to keep you company. 

Not gonna lie, this is most likely the most depressing playlist I have ever made, subject matter wise. But the subject of decay is rather depressing, when first thinking about it at least, then you start thinking about the new life that is going to come and blah blah blah, you know this! Anyway, back to the music; some of these songs have upbeat tempos but have a dark subject matter, so I recommend googling some lyrics if you feel so inclined. They all have a subject matter that is a kind of decay, such as the decay of relationships, self, body, career, and even land. Finally, a few trigger warnings for people who are sensitive to these subjects: suicide, death, and self-harm. 

I hope you enjoy this mix of old and new. Hang in there!

Kisses,
Juliana

P.S. A fun fact: the song “Frame for the Blues” by Calvin Newborn was recorded in Memphis, TN at a rent party. When someone was short on money for rent, they would throw a party and provide music and free space for people to dance, people would pay to get in, then the host would have enough money to pay their rent along with the musicians that performed, “it’s a celebration in the face of looming tragedy, an optimism when the wolf is at the door.” (Fat Possum Records) How fun! These should still be a thing!

Published in Edition 2 of The Dilettante.

SP00KY, a playlist

As October ticks on, the days become shorter and the world (okay, the Northern Hemisphere) becomes colder. Scary movie marathons and pumpkin patches take over weekends once spent basking in the sun. Ghosts and ghouls take their posts, lining the streets and haunting sidewalks as if it were their civic duty.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with Halloween, a night filled with costumes and candy and jump scares. But perhaps what you’re less familiar with is Mischief Night, sometimes called Devil’s Eve. This night takes place on October 30th, and its origins can be traced all the way back to 18th-century Great Britain, where children played harmless pranks such as stealing or switching signs around town. It’s unclear as to exactly when the tradition made its way across the Atlantic, but reports of Mischief Night began popping up in newspapers in the U.S. around the 1930s to 1940s. These pranks shifted towards something darker, with vandalism requiring police intervention, but it was generally seen as a mere nuisance until the late 20th century. This quickly changed in the 1980s, when Detroit saw a night filled with violence and arson. By 1984, there were almost a thousand fires in the city, with arson continuing to escalate. The night was deemed “Devil’s Night,” and in 1986, a curfew was imposed for anyone under the age of 18.

While I certainly don’t condone violence, vandalism, or arson, I do believe that the Halloween season is one meant for terror and hauntings. Embrace your darkness! Befriend your inner demons! Let’s get spooky!

Description by Victoria Conway; Playlist by Juliana Meduri

september soundtrack

Now it is September and the web is woven.
The web is woven and you have to wear it.

Wallace Stevens, “The Dwarf,” The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens

I remember how I felt on the first of September, when I felt the slightest inkling of a breeze in the otherwise scorching New Orleans heat. It felt like a new beginning, an awakening, a rebirth. The past couple months have truly tested me, challenging both my strength and my sanity. I went through a breakup, my hardest one yet, and I lost several people who are very important to me. For the past two months I have grieved many losses, and I am still grieving. But with that first September breeze has come growth and acceptance, a windy path that I continue to journey along.

This playlist consists of a handful of songs that have served as my soundtrack to this bittersweet month. This playlist consists of hellos and goodbyes and I hope I see you soons. Late night talks with new people, crossing streets to avoid certain houses, yearning for a glimpse to remind me that it wasn’t just a dream after all.


ive been sad for ten weeks straight
i wish i did not have to wait
for life to move at such slow rates
i cant help but feel desolate

my mind and i go toe to toe
cause i cant know whats not been shown
i tend to not go with the flow
scared to get caught in undertows

Playlist: Womxn

“I won’t stop talking. I am a girl you have no control over. There is not a gag big enough to handle this mouth.”

Kathleen Hanna

There’s nothing that I can say about women that the people reading this do not already know. Women are some of the most powerful creatures that exist in this world. There would be no life at all without them. But one thing that you may not know is the term “womxn”. Quite simply, the term is used to include all womxn, not just cisgender, white, “of men” “women”. Our new world is for everyone, especially our brothers, sisters, and folx (people who identify as nonbinary with they/them pronouns) who reject the gender they were assigned at birth.

This playlist is comprised of all womxn artists. Although all are cisgender, some are womxn of color, queer, old, young, and even dead! No particular mood is needed for listening, only some open ears to hear theses womxn’s messages. But maybe make a cup of coffee (or tea, I don’t know your life), put on some headphones, let some tears flow if you feel so inclined. Or have a fat smile on your face! Maybe punch a wall? I’m just kidding. Or am I?

Kisses,
Juliana

P.S. Nina Simone is the first punk rock icon. DM me on Instagram if you would like to argue this claim.

Featured in Edition 1 of The Dilettante.