THE BLOW / EMA (co-headline)

The Blow is Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne. We made a new Blow album, called The Blow. It happened like this: we met in Portland in 2004, hooked up in 2006, started itching for new surroundings and moved to New York City in 2008. Around that time we started performing together live as The Blow, with Khaela onstage and Melissa working from behind the audience, manipulating the visual and aural elements. After a few years of swapping ideas and watching them grow and breed new ones, we decided, "Fuck it, why not record a record together?" So we went together into the wordless realm and were there for a couple of years, fusing together the landscape of sounds and samples and waves and sensations that make up The Blow.

"It's a dizzy synthetic love-jam with some deeply smart lyrics." --Stereogum

After the success of Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014’s prophetic The Future’s Void, EMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon – a generic apartment complex in a non-trendy neighborhood, with beige carpeting and cheap slat blinds.

She returns with a portrait of a world both familiar and alien: The Outer Ring, a pitch-black world of half-empty subdivisions, American flags hung over basement windows, big-box stores and strip malls and rage. In a year dominated by working-class alienation, EMA — a Midwesterner who has never lost her thousand-yard stare — has delivered an album that renders American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.

The Outer Ring is the suburban world of people who’ve been pushed out of city centers by stagnating wages and rising expense, forced up against rural communities swallowed by sprawl. It’s far more diverse than traditional images of “the suburbs” – vape shops and living-room hair salons exist next to Mexican grocery stores and Dollar General. But it’s also more deeply marked by poverty and tension, and by the anger that comes from having your story and your struggles erased from the narrative.

Songs like “I Wanna Destroy” (which shares a title with her 2015 MoMA PS1 exhibition) and “Down & Out” flicker between self-loathing and nihilism — an anger born of pain from being neglected by those in power, but no less alarming when we realize that “the kids from the void” might burn the world down.

The voices we hear in these songs — druggy, surly societal outcasts; Byronic blue-collar nihilists bringing down fire — speak to a rebellion that’s typically reserved for men. Think Bruce Springsteen’s similarly bleak outlaw portraits in Nebraska, or the quintessentially American (and quintessentially dudely) voices of Jack Kerouac or Charles Bukowski.

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