steady strictures – meridian



Washer’s album Here Comes Washer has one of the strongest opening tracks I’ve ever heard. “Eyelids” grabbed my attention within about three notes when I first heard it, and I knew immediately that I would be listening to this band for a long time.

Despite loving the first song, I was still shocked when every song that followed it turned out to be completely solid and memorable in its own way. It’s almost ridiculous how good this whole album is. The guitar riffs, the drums, the vocals, and the lyrics themselves are all just unbelievably good.

“Eyelids” starts the album with a very simple riff that is repeated over and over. It is haunting and steady as it plays behind the disturbing delivery of the vocals. The sound of the ride cymbal is also very distinct and carries the guitar riff along seamlessly into its brief, fuzz-filled interludes.

It feels kind of arbitrary to talk only about a few of the songs since they are all worthy of discussion, but I definitely want to talk about “Porky” as well. The lyrics are what stand out to me the most in this song and here they are in their entirety:

got away for a long week in fall/and I know it’s you/couldn’t take it, my day-to-day/but I know I know it’s true/if you’d ask me to I would/move far away ‘cause/I hate this place when I’m not with you/it’s contagious/this fear of missing out/well fuck that I’m through/if you’d ask me to I would

There’s a lot to relate to in these lyrics, and the way they are delivered is amazing. Not being able to take the day-to-day and wanting to move far away are both frequently discussed subjects in songs, but this song is about a specific, personal crisis, and the desperation comes across clearly in the words and in the delivery of them.

“Figure Me Out” is similar in that respect. It begins with the lines “can you figure me out?/I’ve been thinking about you/do you scream and shout?/would it split you in two?” This is followed by the single line “I don’t wanna know” and then the lines “feel like I’m getting old/do what you’re told to do/I am bought and sold/and every trick is tried and true.” “I don’t wanna die” is then sung multiple times afterwards. These are very personal lyrics, yet I can relate to them simply because specific parts stand out to me.

There is also a “you” who is often addressed in these songs, and it seems like the speaker and this person are in a complicated relationship in which they are still getting to know one another. These songs do not come across as typical songs about love though because they are about so much more than that. They deal with other emotions that can get mixed in with love as well such as wanting to leave one’s current situation and even the general fear of death.

Washer takes these inner crises that many people have and can relate to and describes them in an interesting way. Sometimes the vocals are screamed, but they are never delivered in a trite manner as is the truth with the vocals that are sung more melodically. To be able to discuss common emotions and predicaments in new, interesting ways is a skill deserving of great praise.

If you don’t already know them, it is very likely that Washer is that new band you’ve been looking for.


steady business in a time of corporatized nostalgia
be sure the thoughts that close your throat
were never theirs but are your own

In a world where the Oxford-Dictionary has just named “post-truth” as the international word of the year and an orange-Cheeto-dust-frosted-reality-TV-star-billionaire has become President-Elect in the most powerful country on Earth; Washer us asks how to carve out a sliver of meaning in a world full of endless contradictions and seeming hopelessness.

In the Internet-age a person’s attention span is the most important commodity. Appeals to primal instincts and base emotions drive the economy. Facts and creativity do not. Imagination is no longer something inherent; it is something that must be bought.

it’s a tight rope to walk
to validate yourself and
not fall prey to someone’s
monetary demands

goes the final verse of “Pet Rock vs. Healing Crystal” reminding us of the near impossibility of the artist to maintain their personal integrity without becoming a commodity. However this sort of introspection also befalls the common man who must also sell a part of his soul into bondage with various corporations; whether it be for a job, shelter or food in order to participate in the so-called “American Dream.”

“Mend” and “Figure Me Out” were the two songs that struck me upon my initial listen. Anxiety fueled self-delusion and the incessant questioning of one’s own mortality is a sobering thought. Whatever the state of your mental health, Here Comes Washer is one of 2016’s best albums, and I know, I certainly don’t wanna die; not at least until the next Washer album comes out.

-Dr. D



I checked out Hovvdy on a whim when I saw they were connected to Pope (who I’ve now mentioned in multiple posts).

Their first full-length album Taster was the first thing of theirs I came across, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Checking out bands that are somehow connected to another band you already like can be a good way to find great new stuff.

Hovvdy has an approach that is vaguely similar to Pope in their vocals as well as their overall feel. Instead of having fuzzed-out guitars and a generally loud sound though like Pope often does, Hovvdy tends more toward the quiet side.

“Better” starts off the album very slowly and quietly. It is almost like the opening sentence of an essay in that it draws you in, but you’re still not exactly sure what to expect. It does, however, set the tone for the album with its almost whispering vocals and distinct yet very laid-back drums.

The following track “Problem” is where everything kicks off. The rhythm picks up a bit and a very catchy riff ensues. This song has been in my head for a long time, and I’m just fine with that.

“Try Hard” is another song worthy of mention because at that point in the album the mood shifts to having more of an electronic feel to it because of the synthesizers that are used. I think it was this song that made me realize how versatile Hovvdy is because “Problem” sounds similar to a Pope song, but “Try Hard” almost makes it feel like we’ve changed genres (in a good way). This is a perfect song to listen to while driving or walking somewhere. It is reflective and calming while also moving steadily forward.

I also want to mention “Pretend” because it carries on with the electronic feel. I was not really expecting this kind of approach, but it was definitely great to find it. I’m not sure why I wasn’t expecting it either, but Hovvdy does a great job of doing whatever they want and making it flow together coherently. The switch from “Can’t Wait” to “Pretend” is pretty significant stylistically. “Can’t Wait” has guitars playing distorted riffs and the drums providing a solid blues beat giving it a strong overall rock style, but once “Pretend” begins it’s like we’re suddenly listening to Youth Lagoon and that’s okay by me.

Much like the individual tracks I’ve mentioned, this whole album is reflective and dwells upon the past sometimes while sitting calmly and sometimes while walking or driving into the unknown.

Discovering bands like Hovvdy is why the search for good music is always worth it and also why I feel the need to share what I’ve found. It’s just too good to not say anything.

Frankie Cosmos

For me, discovering Frankie Cosmos a few weeks ago was like noticing there’s a trap door in the house you’ve been living in for years and then finding lots of things underneath it that you happen to need at that exact moment.

I’d seen the name included in the lineups for shows with other bands I’ve been following but had not checked them out. I started with their KEXP performance and then their most recent album Next Thing.

It took me about three seconds to like them. Sometimes I just instantly connect with a band, and this is certainly one of them. They quickly reminded me of Beat Happening with the general wistful mood of their music. The fact that this project was started by Greta Kline (under the name Ingrid Superstar) with lo-fi recordings also adds to the similarities between these two bands.

If you go to the bandcamp page for Frankie Cosmos, you’ll find an astonishing amount of music. I’ve only gotten to listen to a small portion of it so far, but it truly does feel like finding some kind of hidden, sonic treasure.

One particular album called Much Ado about Fucking contains both elaborate songs and some that are only around a minute long. Regardless of their duration, they are all heartfelt and have stuck with me over the last few weeks.

These songs are not only really fucking good but also inspiring. They show that a studio is not necessary to make meaningful music. A project does not need to be made in a specific way to be considered art. “Reading Hell Chipmunk” from Much Ado about Fucking blew my mind, and I’m glad she recorded it the way she did and got it out there for people to hear because it’s fantastic.

Even though this project began with just Kline, it is now a full band and has shifted to recording in a studio. Next Thing has some really great tracks and combines that Beat Happening feel with possibly a Belle and Sebastian approach. The songs are just as original as before, but now you can hear things better and there are more instruments.

“Floated In” opens the album with a calm riff and equally calm vocals. The song then picks up in tempo with catchy lyrics and a keyboard. “Fool” also has some incredible vocals that are sung with such relatable disappointment and fragility that it can be simultaneously heartbreaking and pleasurable to listen to it. “Sappho” also has intriguing vocals along with a driving bass line.

The years that Greta Kline spent making music alone really show through in Next Thing. She’s developed a specific feel to her work that is reminiscent of other bands but is also shaped in a way that is entirely hers. I’m really looking forward to listening to as much of her music as I can.

Attic Abasement

I first became aware of the band Attic Abasement mainly because their name caught my eye on YouTube. Their album Dancing is Depressing has some unforgettable tracks.

The opening song “Australia” is slow and somber. It feels like the kind of song you would write while sitting alone in the dark in front of a fire in the middle of fall. “How do I know that I’m alive?” is repeated over and over midway through the song. This is a powerful question to contemplate because the asker is basically wondering about his choices and examining his current life. He reaches a sudden solution (although perhaps a short-lived one) with “I think I’ll start a farm in Australia and take walks just to sit around blocking moonbeams on a desert or on a beach.” This section is then followed with “And that’s how I’ll know that I’m alive” repeated in the same way as before. It’s the kind of thought process someone goes through when sitting alone thinking or talking with a friend about his or her life. You know, maybe I’ll just start a farm somewhere…

This band’s lyrics generally seem to contain a good mix of blunt statements and metaphorical descriptions. “Sorry About Your Dick” starts with the lyrics “Lady, I’m sorry, but you married a dick, and you better just digest him before he turns to shit.”

“A Werewolf” has a great opening with a gradual buildup on the guitar and then proceeds to launch full force into the song with all the other instruments joining it. The first line “I distrust a mattress that smells like it feels” immediately grabs my attention and makes me wait eagerly for each successive line. During the chorus, the song slows down for the lines “I can be a werewolf if you want me to if you want me.” Slowing down for the chorus and then picking it back up for the verses really gives this song a momentum and feeling that keeps it vibrant. This is definitely my favorite song on this album. The lyrics mixed with the flow of the song and the subtle yet powerful guitar all make me keep coming back to it. “I know when it’s time to let the dog decide. When I find my hands tied, I let the dog decide. I can be a werewolf if you want me to if you want me.” It’s sad with an upbeat tempo and has a hint of humor to it, which almost seems to describe perfectly the ridiculous situations in which we find ourselves sometimes.

“Both of Me” starts with the verse “Some people these days spill all over the place and nothing at all is what they hoped things would become. They shrivel up and down they go to the very foam.” There is a sense of urgency in a lot of their songs that is similar to the urgency found in punk. Attic Abasement manages to create this urgency with more of a folk-based aesthetic, although they are certainly not a typical folk band nor are they a punk band.

This band is very unique in their approach and is definitely worth checking out. Their most recent album Dream News also has some great stuff on it. I just wanted to talk about this particular album because I connected the most with it after randomly finding it on YouTube. Give them a listen if you feel like it.

The Organ

I’ve probably been listening to The Organ for five years now despite the fact that they only had one full length album.

Grab that Gun, which came out in 2004, has a lot of songs I always return to like “Steven Smith,” which pulls you in with its organ intro and quickly gains momentum. It is a steady pace of wistful lyrics and riffs that I seem to be in the mood for whenever I see or think of that song.

“Basement Band Song” was the first song I ever heard from them. It’s catchy, desperate, and despondent. I remember listening to it over and over before giving any of the other songs a listen because I couldn’t stop. I too wanted a basement band and so it seemed appropriate in addition to the fact that it is a fantastic song.

The song I can never get enough of though is “There is Nothing I can do.” The opening starts with a bass line that is probably responsible for making me obsess over bass lines ever since. It was the first bass line that made me think, holy shit. There is also the sound of footsteps and windows being closed. Finally, some sort of curtain is drawn back and the bass becomes louder as if the listener is entering the venue. I think that’s ingenious because I always love how you can hear the distant sound of the bass when you are outside a venue while the band is playing.

When the guitar kicks in, it’s a bit shocking, but then you realize it’s the exact same riff only on the guitar and so it’s familiar. It’s hard for me to describe exactly why I like that, but I think it’s brilliant. In my opinion, the bass definitely makes that song, and I wish I could turn it up a bit more.

Most of their songs make me want to create my own music when I hear them. They are deeply meaningful but also very accessible in a way that inspires me to give it a try. A lot of their music just seems very fun to play. I love bands who have simple riffs but use them so effectively that they come across as intricate.

The Organ does this remarkably well, and they may have been one of the first bands I came across who did so. Mix that with Katie Sketch’s vocals, and you get a very intriguing band.

Unfortunately, they no longer play, but we still have their album to enjoy.

SPORTS – Sunchokes


By Dr. D and Sean Deveney

Some time last fall, I was doing late night research, or, as it is commonly referred to in most academic circles; procrastinating. My procrastination toolkit, as all essential toolkits should be, was rather simple: Speedy Ortiz’s “Taylor Swift” b/w “Swim Fan” and “Ka-Prow!” b/w “Hexxy. My Speedy Ortiz addiction began as any serious addiction does – as an innocuous habit. I was in the right place, at the right time, suffering from the right heartbreak. On this night, I was listlessly browsing Speedy Ortiz’s discography sidebar trying to psychically will new sonic material into existence, when a never-before-seen Bandcamp feature offered me recommendations based on my browsing history – SPORTS’ album Sunchokes – it had worked.

The band SPORTS, originated as a dorm-room quintet at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. It was among the first bands I shared with comrade Deveney after reconnecting last fall at college. Almost a year has passed since that fateful evening and Sunchokes is still queued up rather frequently on our respective stereo systems.

Artist reviews on Autonomous and Loud are typically written by the person to discover the band. However, under certain circumstances, when a band holds special meaning to both authors, a joint effort, such as this one, is undertaken. Please enjoy and don’t forget to comment below!

Dr. D’s Prognosis

As Apollonius of Tyana posing as Hermes Trismestigus once said: “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”[1] I firmly believe that this maxim can be applied as a framework for understanding the universal appreciation of music. The motivations and experiences of the individual can be empathized and understood by the many.

For me, Sunchokes is about one thing: abusive relationships and heartbreak. However, the side-effects of heartbreak, such as, struggling with PTSD from abuse, feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear, and depression, etc. are so universal in nature that they can also be felt and interpreted by the listener without relating to the direct theme of the material.

Certain types of projection performed by a listener who does not take an objective view and or place themselves in the role of the author can sometimes be damaging to the author of the music and result in their narrative being appropriated for causes they do not believe in or subscribe to. Continuing with the theme of Speedy Ortiz and Pavement on this blog, I will cite two examples from both bands:

Speedy Ortiz “Raising the Skate”

“Naw, you never knew me, man, not even a fraction
You just glimpsed your own reflection in a gold sheen

Pavement “Embassy Row”

I’m sick of the forms, I’m sick of being misread
By men in dashikis and their leftist weeklies

However, for both Sean and I, our intention is not to appropriate or diminish, but rather to relate our individual experiences and find comfort in SPORTS’ music even when there is no logical or causal relationship to the direct theme of the album Sunchokes.

 Sometimes a piece of music comes along and it perfectly describes a malaise or emotion you didn’t even understand you were experiencing; this is how I would describe Sunchokes. I still remember queuing up “Tiny Planets” for the first time and thinking, “oh great, lo-fi and four chords…” remaining rather incredulous as to the quality of the music I was about to hear, after all, it is Bandcamp and anyone can post anything… But as soon as Carmen Perry’s voice cut through the mix, I was sold. It was simple, it was clean, and it was gut-wrenchingly honest.

If I were to try and go through this album giving an analysis of each track, it would be futile, for the very reason that I would have to name each track chronologically and comment for each one, “someone has managed to write down exactly what I’ve thought and felt and not only that, they’ve done it well.” Instead I’d like to focus on one track in particular, “Where are you.”

While perhaps one could boast that this song is the catchiest of all of Sunchokes, it is also their most lyrically and stylistically advanced song of the album; finding refuge and maturity in its vagueness, its hooks and layering, and its cascading intermezzo before the coda. This song is perhaps my favorite because of how one can approach the lyrics. One can easily interpret the lyrics as accusatory. What exactly happened in your life that gives you the self-justification for behaving the way you do? Who are you? What do you want? Do you even know? Do you love yourself?

No, you don’t. You don’t have any reasons or justifications.

However, instead of taking the Personal Pronoun “You” at face-value, I tend to enjoy this song even more if I view the author as taking a Third-Person Omniscient approach, whereby the object remains the accused lover but can also become, interchangeably, the author his/herself.

Sunchokes is a painful journey about growing up and how much it sucks to fall in love with someone who doesn’t appreciate and requite your love. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

P.S. “You’re jerking off to Al-Jazeera and making your bed, and I could be at CrossFit like you but I’d rather be DED,” are potentially the greatest lyrics of all time.

[1] Scully, Nicki. Alchemical Healing: A Guide to Spiritual, Physical, and Transformational Medicine. Rochester, VT: Bear &, 2003. 321.

 Sean’s Account

It didn’t take me long at all to love their album Sunchokes. It still feels like the album grabs onto me as soon as I put it on and doesn’t let go until it’s over. It’s remarkably easy to listen to it in its entirety without realizing it.

“Tiny Planets,” the opening track, has a strong feeling of urgency and desperation and is an incredible hook for the album. The riffs are simple, the drums are basic, and the lyrics are well-crafted and very relatable. This is actually pretty much true for all of the songs on this album.

Even though I say it’s simple, it is simultaneously original and captivating. When I first came across it a year ago, I listened to it as much as I could. For some reason, it seemed like it was exactly what I needed to hear, and I can’t help but think back to that time as I listen to it now.

Last fall was stressful and the constant effort I put into schoolwork frequently felt pointless. I listened to this album as I walked back from work and as I headed out again ten minutes later to the library to write some paper due the next day about Freud or Marx and how the ideas we discussed in class resembled something that I saw in my own life in order to demonstrate my understanding of the material. A lot of those days involved going from one building to the next all in one rather small area, trying to support or critique an idea I wasn’t that passionate about in the first place for someone who had been studying the subject for longer than I’ve been alive, and trying to get away with doing the least amount of the assigned reading as possible in order to retain a vague understanding (if not the feeling itself) of happiness.

I didn’t go to any shows last fall. I guess I was busy doing all of that and forgot who I was. The only real contact I had with music was when George and I would send each other bands and also when we would occasionally jam. Music is basically everything to me, so this was not a happy time overall.

This band helped me deal with all of that. Putting on one of their songs genuinely felt like a breath of fresh air after being trapped in a musty basement. I don’t know if George remembers this, but we listened to what I’m pretty sure was the song “Where Are You” in his apartment with his roommate one night. In that moment, I remember feeling as though we were at a show because there was beer, great music, and people to appreciate it.

SPORTS somehow seemed to understand what I needed to hear and how to say it in a way that kept me listening intently until the end. The song “Clean Jeans” starts with “You take the same walk home from school every day, and I’m staying inside watching TV and hiding away. You’ve got a death wish. That’s not my problem. Whatever, so what if I’m boring? I like it that way.” Some of the lines in their lyrics just made me feel like they got it even if I was completely misunderstanding the real meaning. It honestly didn’t matter.

Their music is the perfect antidote to campus life. Just in that one song, the notion of taking the same, repetitive walk across campus every day and hiding away in your room are both addressed. If it’s not clear already to you why one would hide away, I can explain by saying that campus life gives some people a lot of anxiety. Especially on small campuses, you may often find yourself in situations where you really don’t want to encounter certain people or you just get extremely anxious for a wide variety of other reasons including the impossible amount of work you have to do, which leaves you no free time and eats away at your sanity.

SPORTS formed at Kenyon College, so I can assume that at least in some cases I may not be too far off in my lyrical interpretations. The song “Nowhere to Be” starts off, “Spend an afternoon on freaking out or staring at a screen. Something dull to cut my teeth on. I try to tell you I’ve been dying here, but I can’t put it into words. You’re not listening to me.”

It can be very hard to put into words without sounding annoying or lazy (as I’m sure I did). Having the privilege of going to college and all that shit does make you seem less entitled to complain when you compare your struggles with those of others. I’m just saying I found it to be a very isolating experience (despite being surrounded by tons of people) a lot of the time because our campus was filled with a lot of sports people, and there did not seem to be much of a space carved out for the freaks and weirdos.

I can only postulate that SPORTS gets their name from noticing something similar either on their own campus or just in general. Playing sports seems to be quite accepted in this culture. Our landscape is covered in various fields, courts, courses, and other such places, while independent music venues, record stores, etc. can be hard to find or are completely absent in some towns. It could very well be that they named themselves that because all of them do like sports after all. Their lyrics, however, suggest a mindset that strays away from those accepted activities thus making their name some sort of critique or comment about them.

SPORTS very quickly became my go-to band for the rest of my senior year. I was listening to them the other day and naturally started thinking about the circumstances I found myself in when I first discovered them. Things are different now of course, but the music still grabs onto me the same as it did a year ago.

SPORTS Sunchokes

June 5, 2014

Sunchokes 03:04

See Through Dresses

I saw See Through Dresses (from Omaha, Nebraska) at a really great show in August at the Skid Row Garage in York, PA. It was definitely the best show since Pope played there two months before (also reviewed on this site).

This band has songs that have been stuck in my head for weeks. Drag Scene is one such song due to its highly catchy nature. I have also skated while listening to this song many times, so that’s probably another reason it’s been in there.

The first song I ever heard when I checked them out on bandcamp before the show was Haircut. It immediately made me excited for the show because it reminded me of a certain sound heard possibly in bands such as Pavement or maybe Speedy Ortiz. It’s melodic in a way you wouldn’t expect or think is even possible. The bass also plays a prominent role in certain parts, which I love. The effect of having the loud guitars suddenly quiet down or stop altogether to make the bass stand out is something I will always appreciate very much. I also have to mention the song’s beginning or hook. When I heard it live, I got really excited because I recognized it immediately and already loved the song. The muted guitar and the vocals give way to a thunderous explosion that brings the rest of the song with it.

The song Johnny (the chorus in particular) reminds me of Slowdive with its dreamlike vocals. I had one of those instances with this song where I could remember how part of it went from the show, but I didn’t know the name of the song. After finding it, I listened to it many times because of its strangely haunting feel that is somewhat reminiscent of Slowdive’s Machine Gun.

I guess there are too many great songs to talk about, but I also want to say that the vocals on So Long, Charlie are fantastic. The bass and drums really power it forward too and make the almost four and a half minute long song feel like only a minute.

See Through Dresses put on pretty much exactly the kind of show I was hoping for that night. It was an energetic set that kept my head moving without me really needing to think about it, and it also included a Dinosaur Jr. cover.

I’d love to see this band again sometime, and I hope the rest of their tour went well.