Nashville post-hardcore quartet Shell of a Shell share their emotionally fraught new single with Paste today (Jan. 30), “Away Team,” from their forthcoming debut LP of the same name due out Feb. 28 via Exploding in Sound Records.
Shell of a Shell is perhaps the most personal endeavor of frontman Chappy Hull, who also plays in deliciously raucous bands Pile and Gnarwhal. Away Team will no doubt flex Hull’s introspective songwriting instincts. “Away Team,” for example, is a devastating gleam of pre-apocalyptic anxieties that are definitely not exclusive to cult members at this juncture in time.
“This one is about a fictional woman in Heaven’s Gate having second thoughts before the day they were supposed to go on the comet,” Hull tells Paste. “The Away Team was what they called the group in the cult who were supposed to be reborn on Hale-Bopp while others stayed and were going to have another chance later in life. When I learned about Heaven’s Gate it was hard not to try to imagine myself in that tragic scenario and what would be going through my head, brain-washed or not.”
Shell of a Shell’s previous endeavor was the EP Already There, which was equal parts rhythmically controlled and bursting with untamable energy. Their first single for Away Team, “Knock,” was released earlier this month.
Check out the Paste-exclusive track below, then see if Shell of a Shell will be stopping by your city on their tour. You can preorder Away Team.
Sharkmuffin bring their Gamma Gardening universe to life with a five-part music video series. Released as an EP via Exploding in Sound Records, Gamma Gardening is Sharkmuffin’s first sci-fi rock opera. The story revolves around Serpentina, a dominatrix who takes a temp job as a receptionist and later has an affair with a genetic engineer. Together, they code a designer baby that can breathe underwater, talk to animals, and survive in outer space. The Atomic Gardening Society (this sci-fi world’s government) finds out, takes the baby away for testing and Serpentina meets an untimely fate.
"Receptionist" is the first video of the series. “The song was inspired by the time I temped at a tech startup as a receptionist,” Tara Thiessen (guitar/vocals) tells BUST. “In my downtime I got caught in a YouTube hole about CRIPSR and its implications on the future of our relationship with the world/our genome. CRISPR makes it cheaper, easier and more accessible to experiment on DNA, but it’s something humans have been doing for forever.”
Which brings us to the rock opera’s futuristic title. Thiessen explains, “in the 1950s, Gamma Gardening was a form of mutation breeding that developed over 2000 new types of plants, most famously spearmint and red grapefruit. They basically blasted plants with radiation to see what would happen.”
The video series stars Brooklyn based musicians Lyzi Wakefield (Gesserit) as Serpentina, Melissa Lucciola (Francie Moon) as the designer baby, Tine Hill (Gustaf) as a human test subject, performance artist Sylvea Suydam as the genetic engineer, and, of course, Sharkmuffin as evil government agents.
All videos are directed by Sharkmuffin & Lydia Gammill of Gustaf, shot by Eric Durkin, and edited by Sylvea Suydam. Watch below!
Over the past few years, Shell of a Shell has evolved from the solo recordings of guitarist Chappy Hull, who lent his strained vocals to the math-rock discography of Gnarwhal before joining the relatively tamer grunge rockers Pile for last year’s Green and Gray. The faction of Gnarwhal who isn’t currently jamming with a sludge metal band in a Louisianan swamp found an equally angsty songwriting outlet as his bandmate, as proven on his first collection of songs recorded with a full band, 2018’s Already There EP.
Shedding any excess reference points to Emergency & I, the Albinian post-hardcore of their forthcoming Away Team (perhaps not coincidentally, it was recorded in Chicago) sounds more at home within the Exploding in Sound canon. The first single, “Knock,” gives listeners an idea of the noisy melodies and emotional lyricism the record has to offer, confidently alleviating any concerns that this release might fall outside of the descriptor “pummeling” that’s promised by an EIS catalog number.
“‘Knock’ is a reminder to myself to try to be grounded and not become overwhelmed with emotions when unnecessary,” Hull explains of the song. “I used to and often still do get caught up in memories and funks that I would rather forget than learn from, but looking at them with a blind eye can be healthier than not having them at all. Taking time to actually work on things I want to work on rather than letting them get me down is a common thing with people I know and that itself is something I need to work on.”
Away Team is out February 28 via Exploding in Sound.
Under the tear-stained moniker Water From Your Eyes, Rachel Brown and Nate Amos make music that, like their name, pushes simple concepts towards inventive and imaginative ends. Like their peers in bands like the Cradle and Lily and Horn Horse, the Brooklyn duo makes eclectic, hard-to-define experimental pop, half digital and half not, that always takes familiar ideas to refreshingly new spaces. After several pleasant releases, their latest record, Somebody Else’s Song, combines the freedom of exploration with poignant introspection.
For all of Water From Your Eyes’ confidence in splicing different genres and feels from acoustic twee to indie-electronica, the emotional undercurrent of Somebody Else’s Song is more uncertain. The songs focus on the push and pull between the comfort of dreams and a hazy reality. This idea arrives promptly on the titular opener, when Brown admits, “I try to sing, I get the words all wrong/’Cause it’s somebody else’s song.” (Both musicians assuredly sing their own words on their respectively lovely solo projects, Brown’s thanks for coming and Amos’ This Is Lorelei.)
But the record is never bogged down by unease thanks to the pair’s impressionistic storytelling, dreamy melodies, and Brown’s bittersweet warble. On “Somebody Else’s Song,” their voice floats in a ray of sunlight over a simple guitar loop and a steadily tapping foot, evoking the wistful sing-speaking of K Records folk-poppers. But this tranquil soul-searching is shattered by “Break,” a 10-minute barrage of dizzying drum machine rhythms and creeping keys. Brown’s unvarnished vocals immediately grow cold, hardening into the stiff monotone of an automaton. Without anything resembling a concrete chorus, the track spirals confidently towards euphoric oblivion. “Break” seemingly shares little with its delicate predecessor. But the connective tissue is a yearning for connection, a theme that endures throughout the record.
Though the gear shifts are never as jarring as the transition into “Break,” across eight tracks, Somebody Else’s Song bends into new shapes as it dives into various sonic rabbit holes. The barebones title track is revisited in the back half of the album and blossoms into “Bad in the Sun,” a vocoder-soaked dose of electro bliss. Seemingly melancholic lyrics now feel full of potential, like a nightmare you can laugh off in the morning. A brief blip of harmonized vocals titled “Look” is transformed by a little bumpy guitar melody into the eerie closer “Look Again.” The song concludes with a painfully corporeal depiction of longing: a face gazing through a window at a chain-link fence in the distance, feeling the sensation of wires pressing into their skin.
The best manifestation of this internal conflict is “Adeline,” an off-kilter admission of all-consuming and possibly misplaced devotion. “Nobody else could make me leave me behind,” Brown sings, a heartbreaking, self-aware confession. While wading through Water From Your Eyes’ whims is a delight in itself, discovering the unexpected loveliness buried within is especially worthwhile.
For those still ruing the dissolution of Maryland post-hardcore trio Two Inch Astronaut, fret not—frontman Sam Woodring officially launched his solo career as Mister Goblin last year with the acoustic-heavy Final Boy EP, and is now following up the project with his first full-length, Is Path Warm? With electric guitar dominating the album’s eight tracks, IPW? feels like a slight pivot to angst-drained Midwest emo, sounding more in the vein of Topshelf Records than the post-hardcore tradition of Exploding in Sound.
Before its Friday release, Woodring is offering up an early stream of the LP, complete with commentary on each track, talking through references to creepy dog worship, cool gym teachers with cooler names, and everyone’s favorite Halloween, not to mention the joys of working with Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis and producer J. Robbins. Listen through and read along HERE.
Is Path Warm? is out November 22 via Exploding in Sound.