A 2nd Stereogum Christmas Show featuring Charly Bliss
Mannequin Pussy, Remember Sports
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
This event is 18 and over
If it's true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Bliss-an NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue cover-can pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom, a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui.
Though Charly Bliss has been a band for over half a decade, the path that led to their first full-length record, Guppy, has been anything but straightforward. As the story goes, the band officially started when frontwoman Eva Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox, both just 15, crossed paths at a Tokyo Police Club show in New York City, but the ties within the band go much deeper than that. "It's kind of insane and hilarious," says Eva, "Sam is my older brother, so obviously we've known each other our whole lives, but all of us have been connected to each other since we were little kids. Dan Shure and I dated when we were in our early teens and he and Spencer went to summer camp together. Dan and I broke up years ago, but eventually he'd become our bass player. The reason we all get along so well has to do with the fact we share this ridiculous history. We are all deeply embedded in each other's lives."
After spending years playing shows in and around New York City, the band eventually released an EP (2014's Soft Serve) and scored opening gigs for the likes of Glass Animals, Darwin Deez, Tokyo Police Club, Sleater-Kinney, as well as a touring spot for their own musical forebears, Veruca Salt. Even though the band had amassed a sizable fanbase and a reputation as a truly formidable live act, the goal of making a full-length record proved to be a fraught series of false-starts. Given their propensity for making hooky, ebullient pop songs, the band often felt out of step with what was happening around them in Brooklyn. ("We weren't weird in the right ways," says Sam). They eventually set about recording an album on their own-and then recording it twice-before figuring out what had been staring them in the face the entire time. "We basically had to come to terms with the fact that we are, at heart, a pop band," recalls Spencer. "Before, it was always trying to decide which of the songs would be more 'rock' and which would be more poppy, but we eventually realized we needed to meet in the middle, we had to create an ecosystem where our loud, messy rock sounds could co-exist with these super catchy melodies and pop hooks. It was really about realizing what we're best at as a band."
The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss' sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengths-a combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and earworm melodies is a testament to the band's commitment to the art form of pop songwriting. Opening track "Percolator" sets the tone-all power riffs and yo-yo-ing melodies playing against Hendricks' acrobatic vocals, which veer from gentle coo to an emphatic squeal:
I'm gonna die in the getaway car! I would try but it sounds too hard!
It's a vibe that carries throughout Guppy, a record that shares an undeniable kinship with 90's alt-rockers like Letters to Cleo and That Dog-bands that balanced melodicism, sugary vocals, and overdriven guitar turned up to 11. It's an aesthetic that Charly Bliss both embraces and improves upon in tracks like "Ruby" ("We actually wrote the guitar solo by sitting in a circle and passing the guitar around, each of us adding our own notes," says Fox) and "Glitter", the record's first single. "I wanted to make a song about being romantically involved with someone who makes you kind of hate yourself because they are so much like you," says Hendricks, "A fun song about complicated self-loathing that you could also dance around your bedroom to-that kind of sums us up as a band, actually."
"Pop music can actually be very subversive," she continues. "The lyrics that I'm most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feeling-feeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. It's possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline."
Guppy is a record that doesn't so much seek to reinvent the pop wheel so much as gleefully refine it. "People forget sometimes that expressing joy is just as important as examining despair," says Shure. "People need joy, especially right now. We're all about writing tight pop songs, but also giving people this super enthusiastic release. These songs are kind of the sound of expressing something that you can't really contain. These are songs you play really loudly when you need to freak out."
Just to let you know. Philadelphia's Mannequin Pussy shred. So if you don't like bands that shred, tread lightly over these next few paragraphs. Tread. Lightly. There are no half measures.
These three shredful people (that's Marisa mastering the vocals/guitar - and how about Thanasi's guitar skills too? - don't even get me started on what Kaleen does to the drums) make the punk rock. You want wails? You got it. Riffs? Check. Thunder booms? Yes, please. Are you also interested in hearing pretty melodies that are sometimes buried under the noise but are there just the same and therefore make the shreds all the more beautiful? How about run-on sentences? Yes. That sounds lovely. I'll have all that.
As of this dynamic writing, the band recently released a new EP (on August 18th in the Year of Depend Adult Undergarment) called "Kiss Me Tender" and I'm sorry to say... it shreds. Those of you still reading who don't like bands that shred have two options as I see it. #1: Stop reading this. #2: Get yer head out of your ass and get into bands that shred. Both are equally good options.
If you chose Option #1: I wish you the best of luck in all your future non-shredding endeavors (although, of course, I'm talking to nobody since you've already stopped reading).
If you chose Option #2: below is the Mannequin Pussy EP that I recently referenced two paragraphs above. You're welcome.
But you really shouldn't thank me. I just copied and pasted the embed code. Tough work, to be sure. A music blobber prepares. But Mannequin Pussy are the ones who created the damn thing. And they are good peeps for doing so.
(Look for their debut full-length to be re-released VERY soon via the lovely people at Tiny Engines, too.)
In summation, I'm not sure if you have heard, but Mannequin Pussy shred.
It took more than two years for all of the pieces to come together for Remember Sports’ forthcoming third album. In the time that has elapsed, Carmen Perry (vocals, guitar), Jack Washburn (guitar), and Catherine Dwyer (bass) have relocated from the tiny Midwestern college town of Gambier, Ohio, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, adding new drummer Connor Perry and retiring their original nom de plume, SPORTS, along the way. Slow Buzz, out May 18, 2018 on Father/Daughter Records, is the latest evolution of a band known for its dedication to friendship and ability to carve out revelatory scuzz fueled tunes that make you want to grab your closest buds and dance your cares away.
Slow Buzz centers around a break up and comes at a crossroads for the band. The record is the first official release under Remember Sports, a moniker that functions as both a question and a command, which foreshadows all of the deeply personal emotions Carmen experiences at the painful end of a good relationship. Carmen’s writing is diaristic and intimate; hearing this record is a strange amalgam of both melancholy and joy. Brazen and energetic as ever, Slow Buzz is a record that is a paradox. It celebrates both the sanctity and joy of friendship in the same heartbeat as the grief attached to moving on from something difficult and nostalgic.
Recorded in Valatie, NY by Evan M. Marré (Russel the Leaf), Slow Buzz is the band’s first release as a solidified group, and fittingly the first record on which they had the luxury to experiment and expand upon their live sound. The result is an album that is expertly layered in its sonics: Slow Buzz focuses intently on all of the nuances of arrangement and production that Remember Sports has fine tuned over five years of playing together is their most ambitious record to date. Come for the high energy dynamism, stay to have your heart broken.