Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers
Mercy Union, Control Top
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers
Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers will release their Bloodshot Records debut album Bought to Rot on November 9th, 2018. Pre-order on digital, CD, or vinyl LP here.
Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers are Laura Jane Grace, Atom Willard, and Marc Jacob Hudson. Grace is a musician, author, and activist best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me!. Willard, also of Against Me!, is a drummer who has played in iconic punk bands such as Rocket from the Crypt, Social Distortion, and The Offspring. Devouring Mothers bassist Hudson is a recordist and mixer at Rancho Recordo, a recording studio and creative space in the woods of Michigan, and the sound engineer for Against Me!.
To say musician, author and activist Laura Jane Grace has had a defiant career would be the understatement of the year. Whether being accused of leaving the DIY punk scene to pursue a major label career over a decade ago, or courageously challenging people's conceptions of gender identity with a bombshell Rolling Stone article, Grace has remained a daring and influential cultural figure in her over 20+ years of creating dynamic art across various mediums. Sure, she’s bound to worry some fans with her decision to press pause on Against Me! to release a more intimate singer-songwriter leaning solo album under the name Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, but her artistic motivation cast her determination in steel.
The seeds of this project were initially sown when Grace, Hudson and Willard introduced the band on a small run of dates in 2016 that included Grace delivering impassioned readings of journal entries between stripped-down Against Me! songs, most of which were featured in her critically acclaimed memoir Tranny: Confessions Of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. Coming off the cycle for Shape Shift With Me, Against Me!’s latest full-length studio album, and a North American arena tour with Green Day, Grace was asked to perform a Mountain Goats cover on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and it was then that she received a massive sense of renewed momentum overall.
Although it’s a step and a twist away from Against Me!’s sonic blueprint, there’s still a kinetic punk energy that vibrates throughout. These compositions are looser, stripped, but with a melodic pop immediacy pushing to the fore.
Four friends from New Jersey decided to come together over the past year in a basement. Over their countless meetings in the shadow of Manhattan in Jersey City, the four members of Mercy Union – Jared Hart (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Rocky Catanese (lead guitar), Nick Jorgensen (bass) and Benny Horowitz (drums) – pushed their creative limits through endless riffs and backbeats, and in the process, the band was born.
While navigating topics as heavy as the air in that tight basement, these musicians blended their individual styles into a unique and wistful sound that moves one's soul. From the driving & sweeping centerpieces, “Young Dionysians” and “Silver Dollars,” to the dreamy, romantic twang of “Layovers,” The Quarry is influenced both by the timeless music of the band’s home state as it is the classic tradition of punk, soul and Americana music. There is something familiar about the music presented here; it’s not quite déjà vu or nostalgia but it harkens back to the music cherished during one’s formative years. The Quarry washes over you – it is nothing you’ve heard before and has the comfort you didn’t know you needed. Hart had the following to share about the album and what it represents to him:
"'The Quarry' embodies the human thought process. It represents the ability to look
at your life and memories from the outside, and hopefully gain some perspective.
These songs explore elements of worry, gratitude, loss, and self-worth. It's a record I've been hesitant to approach until the right pieces fell into place."
With an infinite number of miles under their collective belts, thanks in part to their previous projects which include The Gaslight Anthem, The Scandals, and Let Me Run, Mercy Union sought to road-test The Quarry immediately. In the months that followed the recording of the album, the band supported acts such as California’s Racquet Club (feat. members of Samiam, The Jealous Sound), John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday, The Menzingers and Dave Hause on various tours and one-off gigs. Mercy Union has recently been shredding around the Northeast and will be performing at The Fest in Gainesville this fall.
Appearing in various forms in the Philly DIY music scene since 2015, the post-punk trio Control Top is a tribute to persistence and evolving through doing. Amid periods of dormancy, stylistic forays and lineup changes, singer/bassist and founding member Ali Carter was determined to keep the project going after the release of the band's demo tape. In 2017, she recruited drummer Alex Lichtenauer (HIRS, Get Better Records) and guitarist Al Creedon (Bleeding Rainbow, I IM EYE MY). Lichtenauer was searching for a new project to get involved in, while Creedon was rediscovering electric guitar after years of playing noise and electronic music. Together, they forged a clear identity, blending diverse tastes to create music for a time beyond despair and naïveté. Covert Contracts--their debut full-length recorded, produced and mixed by Creedon--will be out in 2019.
That’s the thing with post-punk. There’s so much a band can do under its umbrella. The Slits and Devo, Glenn Branca and Siouxsie and the Banshees--these artists are all wildly different yet found a home in a genre that resists definition. Control Top gets inspiration from these wide-ranging pioneers yet remains true to the post-punk ethos of anti-imitation and the drive to create a new remedy to modern ills. The urge to resist conformity is stronger than ever, and the need for urgent, relevant music is just as strong.
“Control Top play fast and hard, and there’s wildness in Carter’s voice, so it’s almost like they’re a runaway train of a band. But there’s no chaos in the way they play. Instead, their sound is tight and crispy and impeccably constructed. It’s tension and release all at once.” - Stereogum