Fall colors and fall flavors… which means Pumpkin Spice, apparently. Enjoy new music this week, ranging from the contemplative tones of Max Nunes’s Sundaes and h. pruz to our jaunty Song of the Week ala Johanna Rose and the strident feel of Christie Lenée’s latest. Pumpkin spice will come and go, but there will always be more music.
Song of the Week: Johanna Rose – “Use It Up”
This little ditty comes strutting along from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where Johanna Rose built a treehouse during the pandemic and called it home – a survivalist strategy to simultaneously deal with the loss of touring income and Vermont’s housing shortage. Rose’s new EP, can’t love you from the ground, is an earthy earthly delight, written and (mostly) recorded at the treehouse and brimming with the very sort of organic Americana you’d expect. But Rose’s tuneful howl has a personality all its own, making her EP sound unlike most of what comes across our desks at CQ. “Use It Up” seems to be about acceptance of circumstances; we have choices in life, and we can either meet situations head on, the way they present themselves, or walk away. As Rose puts it, we can “… make do or do without.” Rose took time out of their schedule to answer some questions for us, so we’ll have a Q&A up tomorrow. In the meantime…
Amy Martin – “Chamomile & Whiskey”
Fiddles waltz rather gloriously through this character study of a weathered waitress that Martin holds up as a mirror, reflecting the weariness that comes with experience and heartbreak. Martin seems to be saying that even though the trajectories of our lives might be different, there are always threads of similarity to be found between us if we’re willing to look.
Christie Lenée – “Coming Alive”
Exuberant and empowered sounding, the title track from Lenée’s sixth album (out 11/18) echoes the 1990s production work of John Leventhal (Shawn Colvin, Rosanne Cash). Taking an acoustic song and building a driving arrangement around it, Lenée sounds mighty refreshed, and her guitar playing—for which she is internationally celebrated —is on point! Let the contagious energy sink in…
Charles Mercy – “Menthol Cigarettes & Prom Queen Regrets”
An air of mystery surrounds this slowly unfolding film project, a Gothic American Lesbian Western, from which we keep catching glimpses through songs off the soundtrack. This latest one features vocal work from Queer From Here mastermind Lauren Tabak and it’s a total left-fielder in all the best ways. Taking a lo-fi casio pulse and mixing it with fuzzy guitar and weary girl-group vocals, the song is steeped in vintage sounds that could only be combined in a modern world. Meanwhile, the refrain, “Love is a thing you don’t choose to do/They might call you crazy, you might act a fool,” speaks to the character’s lawless mind-frame. There’s something dissociative in the notion of love being a ‘thing,’ as opposed to a feeling or an emotion. This one’ll haunt you.
h. pruz – “Old Car”
The opening track from Hannah Pruzinsky’s debut EP, again, there (11/4, Oof Records) is enchanting with a whipsery, lilted vocal and a gently propulsive finger-picked pattern. “Old Car” exudes intimacy with delicate bits of melodic joy. Based in Brooklyn, again, there was written during time spent away from the city, and the rural environs definitely inform the EP’s hushed tone. The narrative, meanwhile, complements the cyclical patterns in the music with an ongoing sense of push and pull as h. pruz attempts to make sense of and come to terms with their queerness. Listen close – it’s compelling.
Sundaes – “wander through”
“I like it when you wander through my mind.” Who brings the memory: is it us, conjuring somebody’s presence in our head? Or do people wander through us by the will of their spirit? This sweet little tune from Max Nunes’s project Sundaes is a romantic daydream, a hopeful song that Nunes recorded just recently but was written a long time ago while he was just learning to play guitar. Listen when you’re lonely.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.