00 or so miles north of Boston, you’ll find Portland, Maine.
Among its many awesomely quirky attractions (beyond dope AF lobster rolls, of course), the mini-metropolis boasts the International Cryptozoology Museum and even served as the site of the nation’s first chewing gum factory. Suffice it to say, the town possesses all kinds of character and charm. It also makes perfect sense as HQ for Weakened Friends.
Three alternative rock wiseasses and snack food connoisseurs, the trio—Sonia Sturino [vocals, guitar], Annie Hoffman [bass], and Cam Jones [drums]—first congregated in their adopted hometown during 2014. Sonia had recently relocated from Toronto and holed up in a house with Cam and a bunch of other dudes before witnessing Annie play live and asking her to join the band. As they released two independent EPs, Gloomy Tunes and Crushed, they stirred up a palpable buzz (between consuming sour spaghetti and causing trouble). Gigs followed with everyone from CHVRCHES and Silversun Pickups to Beach Slang and Juliana Hatfield as they made their 2017 debut at SXSW and earned praise from Vanyaland, CBS, If It’s Too Loud, and many more. A wiry, whimsical, and wild fusion of disarmingly pop hooks and fuzzed-out riffery that wouldn’t be out of place on the Reality Bites soundtrack or in a modern Brooklyn bar fueled this quiet rise.
“If something is ear catching and interesting, I’m drawn to it,” says Sturino. “I love pop hooks, but I have this truly weird and shaky voice. I started to embrace that, and I think people connect to the sound.”
For the uninitiated, they’ll definitely connect to the group’s 2017 single “Hate Mail” featuring J Mascis. On the track, a buzz of feedback slips into melodic guitar and an unshakable rhythm as the frontwoman captivates with the confessionally catchy refrain, “I hate everything you’re saying, get away from me. I hate everything we’re doing, it’s a waste of me.” It’s the perfect backdrop for an epic Mascis cameo.
“It’s about when I was miserable in this other band,” recalls Sturino. “This is the most important thing to me. I don’t live comfortably. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t have a lot of free time, because I’m putting all of my effort, passion, and self into music. So, it has to be the right situation. At the time, I just wasn’t working with the right team. The song is about those corrosive relationships with emotionally abusive assholes. J is a guitar god for indie rock. He’s an obvious inspiration, and he killed it.”
“Hate Mail” hints at a lot more to come from Weakened Friends. For Sturino, the band brings everything full circle. In tow with her best friend Cam and wife Annie, she encodes a powerful message in the lyrics.
“A lot of times, you hear expressions like, ‘Find your happy’,” she leaves off. “I think you should find yourself. Our music is about self-awareness and finding that. Sometimes, you’re having a shitty day. It can be hard, and that’s beautiful in its own way. In the North American mentality, if you’re depressed or sad, you have to just get rid of it. This is less about getting rid of that feeling and finding those things causing the feeling and dealing with them. It’s self-awareness, believing in yourself, finding yourself, and defining how you feel. That’s what this band is to me.”
Roz and the Rice Cakes
Roz and the Rice Cakes
Art Rock is a pretty broad term. Yet, when describing Providence, Rhode Island’s Roz & The Rice Cakes, the term Art Rock is not just appropriate, it’s dead center in terms of what they do and how they do it.
Under the stuttering time-changes, the crescendos and the complex arrangements, at the heart of these songs, there’s a simple pop quality that roots the band at a cross roads where Fleetwood Mac and Henry Cow mingle with Bettie Serveert and Gwen Stefani. Roz & The Rice Cakes is equal parts experimental and catchy, energetic and bookish, daring and sugarcoated. This new album, Devotion is a sonic leap for the band. Roz Raskin from the band says:
“Devotion was very different. We spent months working out the material, through multiple recording sessions at Big Nice Studio in RI with our good friend and engineer, and co-producer Bradford Krieger. This new writing process found us diving into a conceptual framework that explored the connections between humanity and the universe.”
If some of the sounds you hear on Devotion give you a cinematic sci-fi feeling, that’s not by chance. Roz continues:
“Sonically we experimented with synthesizers and electronic drums, sounds that reflected a bigger story reminiscent of music that connected with our youth, music we grew up with. I have been a huge fan of sci-fi since I saw “The Thing” at age 5. The aesthetic of the supernatural and unknowns of science fiction and horror definitely have been absorbed in to this album.”
Subject wise, Devotion is a more personal album for the band, while at the same time staying consistent with some of the themes established by the album’s sonic qualities:
“The record covers a wide range of subject matter in the human cosmos connection and is very much present in the current state of the world. ‘Do You’ unpacks the recent political climate and the complicit nature of silence and the long and painful history of marginalized peoples. ‘Somebody’ explores loneliness, a need for physical affection in the wake of heartbreak in the digital age. ‘NOVA’ discusses alcoholism and the need for escape. ‘East Coast’ examines the history of the world from the view of women, and watches civilization make the same mistakes again and again. “Revolving” unravels the affects of mass media production and absorption.”
Since 2008 the group has been touring the US non-stop, either headlining or supporting such artists as Girlpool, Passion Pit, Frankie Cosmos, Rubblebucket, SALES, The Low Anthem, Joy Formidable, Andrew WK, OK GO, Tera Melos and Man Man. They have played such national stages as the Newport Folk Festival and attended festivals from SXSW to O+.
Roz concludes, “This record was indeed a labor of love thus it’s name.”
Devotion will be out on Team Love on October 13, 2017.
Quiet Giant (Telegraph Recording Company) is a Connecticut four-piece that makes heavy, dreamy pop with heart. The band is Danielle Capalbo (guitar, vox), Jared Thompson (drums, vox), William James (lead guitar) and Mark Almodovar (bass), who together issue forth a memorable blend of haunting melodies, ethereal vocals and reverb-laden arrangements. Since forming in 2015, the band has played across the Northeast, including New London's I Am Fest. QG have released a well-received full-length record, loom, and in Spring 2017 a follow-up EP called You're In Heaven that trades swirling dreampop for heavier-hitting rock-and-roll.
In 2012, Sarah Golley attended a festival in New York City in which Fiona Apple performed. She was so enthralled and inspired by her vulnerability on stage that she decided to learn all of Fiona’s songs as a piano exercise. Through this, Sarah began to write her own music, which proved to work through the challenges and changes in her life after graduating college. With a goal to perform an original song in public, she began her career as an indie musician, but her performance roots dig deep.
Sarah began her journey into the performing arts with tap dancing. Next, she began piano lessons, and soon after that she began singing in several esteemed choirs. She’s always been a fan of musical theater, and has performed in many shows (Spring Awakening, The Full Monty, Rock of Ages, Gypsy). She studied classical voice, and graduated from The Hartt School of music with a degree in music education/ vocal emphasis. Sarah has spent the last four years teaching music at a special education school in Connecticut.
In 2015, Sarah began to arrange and record her songs by herself, in her living room, using Garageband. These recordings became her release “Weaving the Pieces.” Through this process, Sarah was able to break away from the musical structures she felt trapped behind, and incorporate several aspects of her various stylistic backgrounds. She’s no stranger to many different genres, and her training always manages to find its way into her art.