“Play Anything” is a monthly column exploring the best parts of the music world, from deep cuts and B-sides to new releases.
The Julie Ruin
The Julie Ruin was initially the name of a solo record penned by Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna in 1998. In 2010, Hanna formed the band with her former Bikini Kill bandmate Kathi Wilcox as a fresh way to re-enter the music scene. Hanna hadn’t released a new record since Le Tigre’s “This Island” in 2004.
The Julie Ruin’s first full-length record, 2013’s “Run Fast,” was imbued with the inherent excitement of a project launch. At the same time, the band was still trying to find its stride as a group of working artists. By contrast, “Hit Reset” is much more polished, the sound is tighter, and Hanna is on her toes spitting witticisms left and right.
In “Mr. So and So” she chatters about Hello Kitty, feminism, and mansplaining during the first few bars, backed by keytar riffs that would feel more at home on an ‘80s power ballad. This is Hanna’s glorious take-down of the male dominated aspects of the music industry circa 2016. She teases, “I love girl bands/ how they take command/ it’s a turn on/ you don’t have to know.”
As always, Hanna’s lyrics serve as a biting commentary on everything from contemporary feminism to temporary heartbreak. Yet, Hanna’s lyrics are also hilarious; lines like “I can play one-handed guitar/ while braiding my hair on a shooting star,” and pleas from audience members to “take your autograph to my women’s studies class” show there’s room for humor in both indie music and feminist discourse.
Much of this record is imbued with the same infectious energy of Le Tigre staples like “Deceptacon” and “My Art.” In the ennui and PBR-soaked landscape of “indie” music, this record has the potential to be both a pep-talk and a dance party.
“Get Olde Second Wind”
Run for Cover Records
Part berserk Nintendo, part indie-rock jam, Crying is a three-piece band out of Purchase, New York. The name is slightly misleading. This is not a band that makes standard acoustic tearjerkers; Crying’s sound, rather, is downright jubilant, bursting with unbridled energy — a thrilling combination of bombastic synths and kick-drums. Their anthology record, “Get Olde/ Second Wind” is a record that’s perfect to blast while your entire life goes to shit.
On “Vacation,” the lyrical apathy of “nothing makes the blood boil/ like a Costco run,” stands in opposition with the ecstatic guitar solos and bloops of the drum pad. Part of it feels weirdly familiar, like the Postal Service hopped up on amphetamines. Bits of lyrics heard amidst the bloops like, “What will be left of me when I’m 51” add a dash of anxiety; but this record is sonically immersive. It makes the listener forget any problems they could face once they shove their headphones in their pockets.
Stream on Bandcamp: http://mykeledeville.bandcamp.com/releases
Chicago’s own Mykele Deville experiments with the musical and emotional boundaries of the mixtape in his first release, “Super Predator.” Track one isn’t a song at all— it’s a sound byte of Hillary Clinton referring to young, black men as “super-predators.” Delville uses this as a lyrical launching point, using Clinton’s ignorance as a creative catalyst with laser-sharp precision.
A thoughtful lyricist, Deville remarks upon feelings of belonging and resistance with a poignancy that seems unfamiliar in DIY scenes, all while maintaining an impeccable lyrical meter. He quips the phrase, “Why do we wonder/ molecular blunders/ commonplace” with ease. He bounces between genres with equal ease, pulling from lo-fi, hip-hop, and more. The intro to “I Don’t Know,” sounds more like a glamorous Vegas standard, before Delville starts to rap.
The transient nature of Deville’s sound and lyrics create a carefully-crafted collage. As with any great mix tape, the songs flow seamlessly from one to the next, in a way that seems particularly crafted for the enjoyment of the listener. The amount of care that went into this project is evident. Everything is carefully thought out, from the track listing, to the number of syllables in a line. Thus, “Super Predator” nails the elusive realm of both thought provoking and danceable, summer jams with a cosmic conscious.