One of the weirdest things humans do is to classify half of all humans as niche. As though women's shit isn't real shit-as though menses and horses and being internet-harassed aren't as interesting as beer-farts and monster trucks and doing the harassing. That's why Tacocat is radical: not because a female-driven band is some baffling novelty, but because they're a group making art about experiences in which gender is both foregrounded and neutralized. This isn't lady stuff, it's people stuff. It's normal. It's nothing and everything. It's life.
The four actual best friends-Emily Nokes (vocals, tambourine), Eric Randall (guitar), Lelah Maupin (drums), and Bree McKenna (bass)-came together in their teens and early baby twenties and coalesced into a band eight years ago, and you can feel that they've built both their lives, and their sound, together. Hanging out with Tacocat and listening to Tacocat are remarkably similar experiences, like the best party you've ever been to, where, instead of jostling for social position, everyone just wants to eat candy and talk about Sassy Magazine, sci-fi, cultural dynamic shifts, and bad experiences with men.
Tacocat's third studio album, Lost Time (an X-Files reference, doy), is their first with producer Erik Blood. "I would describe him generally as a beautiful wizard," Nokes said, "who, in our opinion, took the album to the next level. Wizard level." Blood's sounds are wide and expansive, bringing a fullness to the band's familiar sparkling snarl. The Tacocat of Lost Time are triumphantly youthful but also plainspoken and wise, as catchy as they are substantive. "Men Explain Things to Me" eviscerates male condescension with sarcastic surf guitar. On "The Internet," they swat away trolls with an imperiousness so satisfying you want to transmogrify it into a sheetcake and devour it: "Your place is so low/Human mosquito."
One of feminism's biggest hurdles has always been that it isn't allowed to be fun. Tacocat gives that notion precisely the credence that it deserves, ignoring it altogether and making fun, funny, unselfconscious pop songs about the shit they're genuinely obsessing or groaning over: Plan B, night swimming, high school horse girls ("they know the different breeds of all their favorite steeds!"), the bridge-and-tunnel bros who turn their neighborhood into a toilet every weekend. And, eight years in, Tacocat have built something bigger than themselves. They've fostered a feminist punk scene in Seattle so fertile it's going national and rendering the notion of the "girl band" even more laughable than it already was. There are no "girl bands" in Seattle anymore. There are just bands and everyone else. "Women," Nokes jokes. "They're just like us!"
Surf Curse is Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubeck, who started their project in a basement in Reno, Nevada before going to Los Angeles to become a fixture of the DIY scene anchored by internationally-renowned venue The Smell, eventually linking up with likeminded groups like Girlpool, The Garden, and Slow Hollows. Their music is anchored with a blend of punk and pop elements heavily influenced by the pulp of 80’s, cult and arthouse cinema. Coming a few years after the boys broke out with 2013’s Buds LP and Sad Boys EP, their new album Nothing Yet marks not a return-to-form but a significant step forward from a group that has grown older, more mature, and more effective as songwriters.
Starcrawler are a Los Angeles rock & roll band formed one year ago when Arrow de Wilde first met Henri Cash on the high school yard in Echo Park. The rhythm section of Austin Smith and Tim Franco came soon after, found on the streets of Hollywood. They play rock & roll music heavy and loud and their incendiary performances resemble the children of the Cramps, the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, and Alice Cooper.
"Ants," a song they recorded days after first playing together, was quickly discovered by London DJ Matt Wilkinson and debuted on Apple Beats One radio just as the band were playing their first few shows. The DJ loved it so much, he played it twice in a row. Soon after, it found its way to Sir Elton John, who spun it on his "Rocket Hour" radio program, as well as to Zane Lowe, who played it to further accolades. Much media interest both from the music and fashion worlds has quickly followed. "Ants" & the forthcoming "Used to Know" are from an early session recorded by Steven McDonald (Red Kross) and document the unhinged beginnings of the group taking their first steps into the public eye. They have only now found the time to take a breath and are recording their more fully realized debut LP at Pax Am studios in Hollywood with Ryan Adams producing, due out later this year.
As a group, Starcrawler embodies that strange archetypal mojo that one finds in certain gangs of young rockers, only once or twice a generation; all the while still kicking and screaming as they sprint toward finding something new and entirely of their own. The band consists of Arrow de Wilde on lead vocals, Henri Cash on guitar, Austin Smith on drums, and Tim Franco on bass.