Since releasing their sophomore LP Dirty Power, recorded with Eric Ambel (and featuring songs that figured on several DJ best-of lists) in 2019, Girls on Grass have downsized to a trio with original members Barbara Endes (vocals, guitar), Nancy Polstein (drums, vocals) and Dave Mandl (bass) and toured the northeast and southeast US. Dirty Power was followed by a 7" single, "Spill Your Guts" released October 30, 2020. The B-side is a punk-spaghetti-western explosion called "Who's Gonna Cry" which spawned a stop-animation video featuring the band as puppets heralding the fall of a certain maligned politician. The video premiered on The Big Takeover. Girls on Grass will head back to the studio in April to begin work on their third record.
Based around the songs of prolific songwriter/producer/singer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Jones, Constant Smiles finds the nexus of several generations of shadowy pop songcraft, merging the laid-back style of '70s singer/songwriters with elements of shoegaze, dream pop, and notes from the American indie rock underground. Constant Smiles operates more like a collective than a traditional band, with both the band membership and the overall sound of the music shifting from one release to the next. Jones and friends moved from synthy and reverb-saturated sounds on earlier albums to more direct, organic fare on 2021's Sacred Bones release Paragons but bounced right back into the synth pop realm on 2023's Kenneth Anger.
Constant Smiles began near the end of the 2000s, when Jones was living in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The project was shifting and free-form from the beginning, sometimes materializing as experimental noise and other times drawing on the influence of synth pop or chilly goth tendencies. Jones enlisted various friends to help bring Constant Smiles to life and often self-released recordings online. Digital-only releases like 2013's Maya Deren or 2016 releases including Constant Haze and Constant Dream came frequently, arriving with self-referential titles and a series-like presentation. The 2018 album Lost was a more fully formed statement with heightened production and songs that explored noisy synth instrumentation and moody lo-fi rock. 2019's John Waters was similar, with cold and distant instrumentation, but Jones turned more towards shambling bedroom pop on 2020's Control. Constant Smiles teamed up with the Sacred Bones label for the release of their 2021 album, Paragons. Paragons offered up the most immediate version of the project up until that point, stripping away the reverb haze that had been part and parcel of Constant Smiles' sound up until then. Jones' output remained as prolific as it was ever-changing, as he quickly followed up the direct indie folk sounds of Paragons with 2022's far more synthetic Kenneth Anger. Instead of the lo-fi ambient application of earlier work, the album brought together the band's newly clearer production values with layered melodic arrangements and a dynamic swirl of electronic and organic instrumentation.
The Human Fund is Connecticut's #1 pseudo-political three-piece neo-psychedelia indie garage punk orchestra