Lauren Ruth Ward
With aged wisdom beyond her years, Lauren reminisces about her hometown of Baltimore, where her upbringing was what the songstress lovingly refers to as a “cocktail for being an artist;” She grew up splitting her time between a bohemian mother - “I’m very pragmatic, and she would call that cold and intense” - and some weekends with her father - “He’s a ‘healthy republican,’” she says with a laugh.
In 2015, Ward packed up her life and road tripped to her new home of Los Angeles. After a challenging, perfectionistic pursuit, Ward came together with a band: Liv Slingerland (bass), India Pascucci (drums) and guitarist and fellow songwriter Eduardo Rivera. “They all call me ‘Mom,’” she says with a laugh. “It’s like getting three new best friends that you’re giving the most personal part of yourself.” They’ve even got matching jackets.
Together, they created Ward’s debut album, Well, Hell, a nine track sampler of what she calls the band’s “four modes.” There’s the “heaven of the album,” “Did I Offend You?,” a sweet, airy, swiftly cadenced track which crescendos into a powerful chant: “You’re only breaking down/ you’re only breaking down/ you’re only breaking down.” Then there’s the “hell,” “Blue Collar Sex Kitten,” a full-throttle rock song that dives head first into distorted chords, sexuality - “I’m a dyke/ dated guys/ ain’t a crime/ won’t apologize for my tribe,” sings Ward - and a psychedelic breakdown that sounds like lucid dreaming. There’s the band’s acoustic mode, made up by breathy tracks like “Travel Man,” and finally Ward’s poppier side, heard on “Sideways” - a funky, retro take on soul-searching and feeling lost - and “Sheet Stains,” a bluesy ode to her fianceé, indie pop mega-star LP, who sings backup vocals on the track.
In some ways, Well, Hell is Ward’s second chance at a career doing what she loves most: creating. “I could totally have done a version of this in Baltimore, but not the way I’ve done it here,” Ward says of making music in Los Angeles. One thing’s for sure: there’s no telling what’s in store for Ward and company. “This is definitely a different life for me,” she says. “This is Lauren 2.0.”
Stick your head out the window and sniff the air: there’s a blizzard of badness brewing, and it’s not blowing over anytime soon. Sure, the political leaders, bullies, and other villains of various venoms are dominating the headlines, but these days the list of troublemakers extends well beyond the usual suspects.
From their home base in the Heartland, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s BRONCHO have a unique vantage point from which to survey the sins. Churning out thoughtful, nuanced rock and roll with an art school spirit and a punk rock heart since 2010, the band’s fourth album, Bad Behavior, finds them leaning into their strengths for their strongest effort yet. The new record reveals BRONCHO’s fly-on-the-crumbling-wall vision of our moral climate, complete with a reenergized, accessible sound and the charmingly sardonic, smiling-while-sneering delivery of singer and bandleader Ryan Lindsey.
Lindsey (vocals/guitar) and the band - Nathan Price (drums), Ben King (guitar), and Penny Pitchlynn (bass) - are a tight unit who have seen their songs featured at influential TV and radio and have toured the U.S. and Europe, including arenas with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, The Growlers, Portugal.The Man, and Cage The Elephant. In the gritty warehouse district of Downtown Tulsa they have carved out a physical place for themselves, an industrial blank space where BRONCHO can experiment with sounds, performance, visuals, and more. It’s where they recorded Bad Behavior with producer Chad Copelin in the first half of 2018, a controlled process that allowed them to work at their own pace and by their own standards, almost like a secret club.
Bad Behavior represents a picture of a band that have crushed their own commercial expectations and are doing what they want to do at their own pace. They’ve cleaned the slate and quietly made a return with urgent, bonafide pop songs. If you want to catch a whiff of Bad Behavior, simply stick your head out the window and breathe.