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As Soccer Mommy, Sophie Allison Sings Herself Clean

Gray and ceaseless rain has made it a terrible time to be in midtown Manhattan during a Thursday rush hour, but a perfect day to be with Sophie Allison, known as Soccer Mommy, who makes melancholy music that sounds just right in bummer weather like this. “I call my songs ‘emopop bangers,’ ” she says over pizza and a slice on Eighth Avenue, about twenty blocks above and a few avenues over from where, until last year, she lived in a Union Square dorm as an NYU student. The Parkland shooting debate was raging on TVs around us, with high schoolers not much younger than her fighting for their lives on gun control, a reminder of how powerful and powerless you are when you are young: fueled by passion but not always permitted to use it to change things. “Everyone is depressed. Not everyone can relate to getting fucked-up, not everyone wants to drink, but everyone feels these things, so everyone can connect,” she says. “Kids are just sad.”

Rainy days and national strife aside, with her “emopop bangers,” Allison expresses just how frustrating and exciting it is to be an adolescent, no matter where and when you are one. The twenty-year-old musician (not a kid, not yet a middle-aged adult) with chipped purple-black nail polish is back in town from Nashville, Tennessee, where she has lived with her parents in her childhood bedroom since dropping out of college last year, and being here stokes memories of isolation, the grist of the Soccer Mommy music that she wrote right here in her dorm, just her and her guitar. “I hated New York the first year. It’s so lonely and so overwhelming that you get depressed,” she says. “I didn’t go out a lot. I never went to parties. I spent a lot of time indoors in my room. But I was working on music all the time.”

There’s something noble about songs on Soccer Mommy’s new album, Clean, in which she explicates what so many of us do but would be embarrassed to admit to: comparing oneself unfavorably to a partner’s past romances. “It’s strong to admit, ‘Yes, I have issues. I’ve suffered too,’ ” she says. “Not to be strong by lying, but to be strong in admitting it.” She has been dating the guitarist in her band for about a year and a half, and when she stands onstage with him, she’s often singing about their life together, the twists and turns her mind has gone through, particularly when they were first dating. “I feel like the reason I can do that is because there is a broader audience,” she says. “If I had ten people listening to my music, my boyfriend would be like, ‘Uhh, what’s up?’ It’s less personal when there are thousands of people.”

The idea of thousands of people (or at least 500, about the crowd size she’s been playing to on tour as the opening act for Phoebe Bridgers) staring back at her while she plays is new: Soccer Mommy was born in 2015 as a bedroom pop project with releases online, but it took her until the summer of 2016 to play live shows. “I was in school, and I wasn’t trying to do a tour,” she says. Allison had been used to making music privately and personally, coming up with melodies and lyrics since she can remember, starting when she picked up a toy guitar at age five and wrote a silly song called “What the Heck Is a Cowgirl?” She was so young that her hands weren’t big enough yet to always make the sounds she wanted to. “It was hard to stretch to a C chord,” she says.

She began to take lessons, graduating onto a baby acoustic, and even started a band called Chemical X with a neighbor in fourth grade. “I started getting good at twelve,” she says. “I just always liked it — I didn’t want to play piano. I wanted to be a rocker.” She was an Avril Lavigne–obsessed tomboy who grew up in Belmont/Hillsboro, a college neighborhood (her dad ran a lab at a Vanderbilt University) in Nashville, and would go to Southern Girls Rock Camp — an incredibly fruitful resource dedicated to nurturing young women — every summer. “Every year I would get my hair done up in a mohawk — full-on teased and sprayed up,” she says. “I knew that I would play music my whole life.”

When high school ended in 2015, nerves led Allison to the safe path of college — hoping for a degree in music business — instead of creative pursuits. “I always had it instilled in me that I would go to college, and I have terrible anxiety, so if I didn’t, I would have been like, ‘Am I going to die of poverty?’ ‘I’m going to die’ is what would happen in my mind,” she says. But right before she left for New York, she also uploaded the first Soccer Mommy songs to Bandcamp. “It felt good,” she says. From the beginning, she displayed an adept hand for quiet rage (she calls it “apathetic anger”) and lyrics that use metaphor and symbolism to address her own problems in a way that others can relate to, like on Clean’s “Your Dog,” in which she admonishes herself for being a puppy always at the beck and call of a past boyfriend (a guy from high school), while also detailing her efforts to overcome this predilection for subservience in her newer relationship. “Metaphor makes it stronger: I don’t want to be an animal that you drag around, like a pet,” she says. “In a relationship, I want to pamper someone and I don’t focus on myself. Just being a dog: lovey and there when you want it, but when you wanna go out with your friends, the dog sits home all night.”

She developed an audience online over her freshman and sophomore year, big enough toward the end that she felt confident in her decision to drop out of school, though success and visibility have presented their own problems. “It’s horrible for anxiety — my anxiety for body issues is at an all-time high. I ask fans, ‘Please don’t make comments about how I look.’ It’s always a compliment, but it makes me aware that I’m being watched all the time. I’ll see a picture of myself that a fan posted and I’m just like, I look terrible,” she says. “I deal with it. I’ll keep doing it until I die. It’s a constant struggle, trying to be OK with not being perfect, between wanting to keep this confidence that I somewhat built up while also going through this period where I’m being judged constantly.” Her songs, as introspective as they are, have also caused her to discover some unpleasant realities. “The album is about the period I went through finding myself, and it’s terrifying that I did because I found a monster. I found a crazy person trapped inside my body,” she says, laughing. “No one is going to fix you as a person. I’ve had so many therapists, and none of them worked — they can’t crack me. Because I’m so fake to them. I go in and I don’t tell them.”

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Still, it’s radical to see a young woman stand onstage and sing her sadness, which Allison knows because of how inspired she herself has been by other women’s strength in vulnerability. “I love the scene in movies where the woman goes insane. I feel like I’m going fucking crazy and it feels so liberating to see a woman be fucking crazy,” she says. “Like Britney Spears shaving her head. That’s such a great moment, because she was this beauty icon and she was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to shave my head off and you’re all going to call me crazy but then you can’t control my body anymore.” Though as a kid she loved TRL-friendly contemporaries like Britney and Avril (and Taylor and Paramore!), she later evolved to bands from before her time, like Nineties-ascendent Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Neutral Milk Hotel, who were important to her when she was going through much of what she writes about on Clean and, in their subtle skill at channeling angst and ennui, are nostalgic touchstones for her music now. “Even though I discovered it on my own time, even though I didn’t see it get released, it reminds me of high school,” she says.

She also feels a sense of camaraderie — or at least a sense of place—in an indie moment that has increasingly come to be led by not just straight white men, but acts like Mitski and Vagabon and Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, as well as Phoebe Bridgers, the woman Allison is currently opening for. “I’ve never met an indie female artist or female-identifying artist or nonconforming artist that has been rude to me. At all. Ever. Just supportive, or at least just nice,” she says. “People are connecting with us now because it’s more emotional. It’s more honest and it’s more crushing, especially if we are being honest about that feeling of wanting to be perfect but not being perfect.” She’s become increasingly political about where her stresses come from. “These issues have been caused by patriarchy: suffering from trying to be appealing or pleasing men in your life, the validation you’ve been wanting since you were a kid,” she says. “But I’m honest about the fact that even though I am against the patriarchy, I still feel the things that it’s given me.”

Lately, driving around the country in a Subaru Outback with her backing band (she alone is Soccer Mommy, but she tours and plays live with her boyfriend, Julian Powell, on lead guitar, Nick Brown on drums, and Gabe Wax on piano, the four of them taking turns behind the wheel and listening to horror story podcasts on YouTube to pass the time), she’s taken more control of her own circumstances, with an increasing success that has allowed her to, among other things, stop eating junk food. “Now we get $15 a day per diem, so we can get good stuff like Thai and sandwiches.” She’s also had to take more effort to preserve her throat so she can use it every night, though she admits she can make do with whatever comes out of her mouth: She tells me that many of the vocals on Clean were actually recorded when she was really sick with sinus problems. You’d never know that was the case considering how compelling she sounds on the album, but she doesn’t always hear it that way. “I hate my voice. When it’s crisp it sounds good, but other times it’s just a little weak,” she says. “My voice just gets weak.” Maybe that’s not always a bad thing.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES

Honoring Molly Haskell: A Critics’ Duet on “Nashville”

This week, the New York Film Critics Circle gave a special award to Molly Haskell, one of America’s foremost film scholars and a pioneering feminist critic. Haskell, author of the essential study From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies and other books (including a recent one on Steven Spielberg), wrote for the Village Voice throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. As a tribute, all this week we are featuring selections from our archives. (You can read our earlier post of her review of Gator here, and our post of her review of The Story of Adele H here.) Today we are offering this 1975 dialogue/joint review with Andrew Sarris of Robert Altman’s classic Nashville

A Critics’ Duet on “Nashville”
June 9, 1975
By Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell

We decided, for reasons that will become apparent, that the most appropriate way to review Nashville was through a dialogue between the boss critic and his first stringer. May we also suggest that since a lot of the pleasure of Nashville lies in discovering it for yourself and watching how it comes out, you avoid reading this or any other reviews of the movie until you’ve seen it.

Prologue: I (Molly) go to a morning screening which Andrew cannot attend. I come out dazzled, stimulated, exhilarated by the sheer talent on display, and relieved that the film is not, as I’d been led to expect, a put-down of redneck America (bein’ Southern, I’m sensitive to such slights) or an exploitation of the country music scene to make easy political why-we’re-in-Vietnam parallels. There’s a little of both, a line too directly drawn from Dallas to Nashville (of which more later), but these elements are strongly modified, even redeemed by the music itself, the true star of the film. It is after all, a musical, a Chaucerian musical pilgrimage whose Canterbury is Nashville, I tell Andrew, and it helps to have a feeling for country music.

Andrew (dubious): Well, why don’t you review it then?

Molly (delighted): Okay.

There is a subsequent evening screening which both of us attend. From the brilliant opening credits — in which magazine-cover pictures of each of the major performers is flashed on the screen while a caller, jamboree style, announces them — I can sense that the audience is not “with” the movie the way they were at the earlier screening. They don’t laugh at the jokes or dig the music. I glance at El Exigente, normally a big laugher. Finally he laughs uproariously. It is at a song rendered by Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson), “the King of Country Music” in Robert Altman’s vision of Nashville. The song — “For the Sake of the Children” — is so artfully sincere in its hypocrisy that it serves as a primer for the Puritanism of the Bible Belt.… The film ends. We leave quickly and furtively, talking of other things. Outside.

Andrew (nodding, impressed): That was really something when Barbara Harris started scat-singing at the end as if she’d been a country singer all her life. Who would have thought she had it in her? And all through the picture she’s just moping around, a rag doll that suddenly comes to life. What a finish!

Molly: But didn’t you love the beginning, the electrifying and savage scene in the studio: Haven Hamilton is sitting on his throne, encased in glass, his emasculated Ivy League son and his mistress sitting in attendance, while he records one of those righteously jingoistic ballads (called “200 Years,” lyrics by Gibson himself!) which is so absurdly irresistible. Then suddenly he interrupts the spell he himself has so carefully cast, to lash out crudely and brutally at the pianist, “Frog” (Richard Baskin, who arranged and supervised the music for the entire film). To me, this establishes the whole power structure and pecking order of the film, the steely grip of this slimy, fascinating little tyrant who presides over the folks here at home, and fans out yonder of country and western.

Andrew: I like the very beginning and I like the very end, but I find a lot in the middle very ordinary. People have been telling me for weeks that the movie is very “novelistic,” and I think I know what they mean. It’s all these characters lurking in the background of one shot and then suddenly lurching into the foreground of the next shot. But for me “novelistic” is not just network, but nuance too. Altman has given star billing to 24 performers, but he’s cheating on at least half a dozen of them. Bert Remsen as Star, for example, is one of the Altman regulars, but all he does here is chase half-heartedly after Barbara Harris. Or Jeff Goldblum as the Tricycle Man. He’s more a visual figure of style then a character. And when you think about the link-up to Easy Rider and the Kennedys and the fact that Nashville turns out to be part musical and part murder mystery, then a great many figures in the background turn out to be suspects in some impending violence. But I’m not knocking the movie itself, just some of its advance critiques. I hate to go out on a limb after only one viewing, but Nashville strikes me as Altman’s best film, and the most exciting dramatic musical since Blue Angel. And, like you said, it’s the music that puts it over.

Molly: I think that the power and the theme of the film lie in the fact that while some characters are more “major” than others, they are all subordinated to the music itself. It’s like a river, running through the film, running through their life. They contribute to it, are united for a time, lose out, die out, but the music, as the last scene suggests, continues. It diminishes them, as death itself diminishes us, and ennobles them. And it’s the people who live and breathe country music who are finally less ridiculous, less hollow, than the “sophisticates” who condescend to them: Michael Murphy’s advance man and Geraldine Chaplin as the bleeding heart BBC reporter.

Andrew: I think Altman and his script-writer Joan Tewkesbury try to have it both ways with the condescending characters played by Michael Murphy and Geraldine Chaplin. On the one hand, these two characters give us a lot of information, a lot of exposition. They keep the plot moving. On the other hand, they’re presented as cruel, brutal, supercilious outsiders, and so they become easy targets for the audience. Geraldine Chaplin’s snobbish snoop is the most irritating character in the whole movie (though I think that Shelley Duvall’s L.A. Joan runs a very close second, and gives country music groupies a bad name besides). Michael Murphy’s political PR man is something else again. He plays very much the same kind of role he played in McCabe and Mrs. Miller. As much as any member of Altman’s stock company, Murphy represents the malignant system. Still, I can’t help wondering if there isn’t a little bit of Altman in Murphy, a little of the same sharpness and cruel candor. It strikes me also that so many Altman movies end with a kind of ritualized death, not a Peckinpah slaughter, but a very selective sacrifice. Think about it — A Cold Day in the Park, Brewster McCloud, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Images, The Long Goodbye, Thieves Like Us, and now Nashville. It is certainly a pattern, and I suspect that it is more a religious pattern than a political pattern.

Molly: True, they are often innocents, idealists, and — here — a neurasthenic, exotically feminine country music princess (incarnated rather than “played” by Ronee Blakley, herself a singer), a white-clad Ophelia whose psychic disorder is expressed in those odd, uncoordinated hand gestures. The idea of ritualistic tragedy is explicitly fostered in the setting of the last scene, a plaster of Paris temple that has given Nashville the epithet of the “Athens of the South.” There is the tragedy, and then the catharsis, as life, in the form of song, resumes. Then there is the huge shot of the American flag, imposing a political conclusion that overloads the ending, and seems unsubstantiated. Even seeing the film a second time, and realizing how carefully the “assassination” has been prepared for in parallel cutting and dialogue and images of violence, it still does not seem inevitable, at least not on the level of national sociopathology. The assassinations that we have lived through are both too specific and too elusive to be appropriated in the nightmare vision of any one artist.

But the fatalism does seem apposite on the individual, or religious level. As Blakley — whose character is loosely based on the real-life country singer, Loretta Lynn — sings a song of lost innocence (and, did you notice, the sun that shines on her is actually blocked momentarily by a cloud?) we feel not so much that America was a paradise, now corrupted, but that each of us must experience his own personal loss of innocence, as we “outgrow” the roots, the family, the “folk heritage” that spawned us.

As to the cruelty, yes, it’s there, but it’s constantly held in check by compassion and a kind of awe, an awe which confers dignity. And the best scenes combine all these elements: Haven Hamilton’s barbecue party; and the scene in which Keith Carradine sings “I’m Easy” and consummates an affair with Lily Tomlin’s voluptuously sane and moving Nashville matron over the heads of the listeners in a café, among whom are three of his former bedmates.

Andrew: Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine are the real heart of the picture, the oddest of the odd couples that make it take off; she, all soul, he all heel, but somehow with the right chemistry to make his song-seduction, “I’m Easy,” work with the same flirtatious frenzy as Marlene Dietrich’s “I’m Falling in Love Again.” Tomlin and Carradine are marvelous, of course, and multi-faceted as characters. It’s Carradine who makes the one anti-Vietnam crack, and Tomlin who mentions Easy Rider, but just when you think you have them typed, they uncover another layer of feeling. I liked Cristina Raines as Mary, the odd girl out in several triangles, but cool and loving at the same time. She and Tomlin help counterpoint Carradine in the “I’m Easy” scene, and turn a smoky café into an arena of yearning sexuality.

A few points in passing: Since this is Nashville rather than Memphis, the blacks don’t figure prominently, but Robert Doqui as the streetwise Detroiter named Wade and Timothy Brown as the church-bred Southern country singer set up an interesting and potentially explosive contrast between two types of black adjustment to a white world, one surly and unyielding, the other relaxed and resigned. The old cutaway cliché of montage in the musical actually works to Altman’s advantage in Nashville since most of his characters are either performing or attending performances. It gets a bit strange after a while. There are very few real extras. Altman has created his own world and called it Nashville. In California Split, Elliott Gould and George Segal were surrounded by nobodies. In Nashville every nobody is a potential somebody. Altman even drags in Elliott Gould and Julie Christie as the real-life celebrities we know as Elliott Gould and Julie Christie. But Karen Black is simply stunning — not as Karen Black, but as the bitchy country singer Connie White. And all around the movie people are the authentic country music people, and a bit of authentic country, and Altman seemingly suggesting that we are all in one form of showbiz or another, and that it all ends badly, but not without the hope of regeneration. A very visceral movie, and it works, and I can’t figure out why anyone ever thought it could be in trouble.

I’ll tell you what, Molly, I’ll do a blurb on it.

Molly (the unfranchised freelancer, sighing): No, you go ahead and do the review.

Andrew (sensing discontent in the ranks): I have a better idea. We’ll do it as a dialogue.

Molly (taking what she can get): Okay.

And so we did. But we have only scratched the surface.

 

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Seven Things to Know About ‘Disney Princess’ Natalie Prass Before Her Brooklyn Debut

Natalie Prass’s first full-length record has been out for a week, and two words have been repeatedly thrown her way now that her songs are out there for the world to hear: “Disney” and “princess.” As Brooklyn Vegan pointed out, nearly every single paragraph gushing over her pristine soprano, elaborate instrumentation, and timeless songwriting style has recalled the chipper, wholesome, preternaturally pretty melodies of the heroines of our favorite cartoon musicals. It’s easy to see why every critic from Vogue to Pitchfork listened to “Why Don’t You Believe in Me” or “You Fool” and pictured Prass getting dressed by bluebirds in the morning or using a fork for a hairbrush: Her voice is up there with those of Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Pocahontas before her. Thankfully, she’s in 3-D.

Still, who’s the gal beyond the “Part of Your World” comparisons? There’s not a whole lot out there about Prass, even though she seemingly appeared on the front page of music internet overnight. Of the venues she’ll be playing on her first headlining tour in support of the new record, Rough Trade is the latest to sell out, and she’ll be heading there February 6. Prass will go on to support Ryan Adams on the European leg of his tour shortly following her Brooklyn date, so we got to know the enticing indie talent before Pixar goes and digitizes her in an attempt to craft an indie answer to Frozen.

1) The Disney comments are all compliments, as far as Prass is concerned. She’s heard it before, as far back as three years ago, when the initial listening party for her album took place. “It wasn’t a surprise, to be honest,” she laughs. “You know, the record’s been tracked for a while. When we finished tracking it in 2012, we had a big listening party for everyone that was involved in the record. It wasn’t mixed or anything, but we had this party. Everyone heard the closer and said, ‘Wow, this is a Disney song!’ I’m completely aware of that. I think it’s a compliment! Who doesn’t love a really good Disney princess song?! [Laughs] I think it’s cool. I don’t take any offense to it. Bring it on. It’s great.”

2) You may recognize Prass from Jenny Lewis’s road band, as Prass joined Lewis for her tour in support of 2014’s The Voyager. She learned a ton from Lewis in their time on- and offstage, specifically with regard to how to run a happy ship when you’re fronting a band full of people living out of suitcases for months at a time.

“I was a sponge, just soaking up everything,” she recalls. “I learned a lot about being a sideman and a supporter of an artist, and how that’s so important, to just be a rock for this artist. Jenny doesn’t need any rock — she’s so strong and such a professional — but I learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or if you have the worst day of your life, you have to go onstage, because that’s your time to let all that go and give the best show you can. And then after the show you just crash. She was just so good to us. She always made sure that we were taken care of; she was very attentive to our needs. I thought that was amazing of her. I’ve heard horror stories from other friends with different artists, but she was always on point. I’ve never had the opportunity to bring a band out [until now], but I’m definitely going to be like that. This is who I want to be as a bandleader.”

3) Speaking of being a bandleader, this tour marks her first outing fronting a full band. “The last [couple of] times that I played in Brooklyn, it’s was just me solo, or me and one other person,” she says. “I’m really excited to get to focus and relax and sing and play. I can communicate with them onstage and we can feed off each other. Sometimes it gets a little lonely when you play by yourself. The band is so good. We don’t really play the same thing every night. There are little subtleties we explore. That’s pretty exciting for us, too.”

On the next page: “I kind of wanted to write my own ‘Jolene.’ ”


4) Virginia is for lovers, and she’s one of them. Prass spent nearly a decade honing her songwriting chops in Nashville but fell in love with Richmond while working on Natalie Prass, which she recorded in her new city. Instead of unpacking from tour with Lewis, she just packed the rest of her stuff, left Music City in the dust, and settled in the Virginia capital just a couple of weeks ago. “I lived on a tour bus for a while, and I’ve been wanting to move to Richmond ever since we did the record,” she says. “I was so impressed with everyone I was meeting. The city was so beautiful. I love the energy. Sometimes there’s so much involved. It just kind of kept not happening. When I went on tour, all my stuff was in storage and I was living in a bus, and I was like, ‘This is my time to move, and I’m doing it now.’ I’d been thinking that for a while.”

Still, she credits Nashville as one of the chief muses responsible for her musical growth, and she can certainly hear the city’s pull on the record. “Nashville had a huge influence on my songwriting, no doubt. It’s kind of hard for it not to, as it’s a musician’s town. It’s everywhere. You’re learning so much, especially in your twenties when you’re experimenting and it’s your time to throw everything at the wall. Nashville’s definitely in my record, no doubt about it.”

5) Strings, woodwinds, and blaring brass are all present on Natalie Prass, but not necessarily in her live show. “We have the traditional rock setup: drums, bass, guitar,” she says. “I play guitar and keys, and then Trey Pollard plays guitar and keys. He co-produced the record and did the string arrangements. So the sound is obviously not an orchestra — there are no horns — but we’re very aware of that. We definitely have incorporated those horn lines into the show. It sounds different, but personally, I think that’s exciting. From what I’ve experienced, doing this for a while, people want to hear what the record sounds like. I think that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with that. But we’re definitely doing what’s appropriate, you know? We don’t have octopus arms! [Laughs] We have to tone it down. It sounds great. These guys are insanely skilled and have amazing, unbelievable ears, and it’s just such a joy playing with them, because we can build and get really quiet. It’s just an amazing band.”

6) This may be her first full-length, but she’s got two EPs to her name and years of material to work with. Don’t expect a one-dimensional set: Prass has been at it since long before 2009, when she released her first EP, Small and Sweet, and her setlist reflects that. “The thing is, I had the EPs and everything, but this is my first full-length, and I knew I didn’t have the resources or the platform to present my songs in a way that would reach a lot of people…That was the hardest part for me, when I realized that this record was coming out in 2015. I was like, ‘Whoa, I have to play some really old songs.’ I was psyching myself up: ‘It’s OK. No one’s heard these songs.’ I mean, people have, but not to this degree, so it’s fine. It’s been nice to visit these old memories, these old songs again.”

7) Some of these songs are difficult to perform, given the album’s themes of heartbreak and unrequited love, but “Christy” may take the cake as the weirdest tune for her to revisit onstage. “I didn’t listen to the record at all when I knew it was going to be kind of shelved for a while,” she says. “I just wanted to keep working on other things, and then when we brought it back out to mix it and master it, it did bring up a lot of old, unfinished feelings that I had just put away. With ‘Christy,’ we’ve been doing that one with a string quartet when we can — we’ll have the quartet in New York. I had written that song because I kind of wanted to write my own ‘Jolene,’ and then the song wound up coming true. It wasn’t true at all. It was just a story. It’s pretty broad, but yeah: Somebody started dating my one true love, and yeah, that happened. It was really hard. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. It sounds silly now, but at the time I couldn’t believe it was happening. That one always feels really haunting and mystical to me whenever we play it.”

Natalie Prass plays Rough Trade NYC on February 6. Tickets are sold out, but you can find them on the secondary market.

See also:
Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice Give 7 ‘Non-Hits’ to
Song One
Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean Were Stuck in Paris on the Biggest Day of Their Career
Six Sleater-Kinney Songs to Hear If You Think You Don’t Like Sleater-Kinney

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The Old and the Horny: What Tammy Needs to Know

Tammy WhyNot (Lois Weaver) has been on the comeback trail so long that she’s started to think about growing old. A self-described trailer-trash blonde, Tammy long ago traded in her Nashville career to become a lesbian performance artist, after getting into the “wrong car” with the “right girl” in a Memphis parking lot. Now, after more than 35 years as a downtown icon with the pioneering Split Britches company, this drawling belle is joined onstage with a dozen new friends — real folks Weaver has met in workshops at New York City senior centers. The topic of What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex, The Concert Tour is, of course, sex. Specifically, how to stay sexy and love yourself in the golden years. Tammy quizzes the audience about their mores and delivers heartfelt ballads, but the real stars are her seniors.

These New Yorkers are black, white, Latino, and Asian; they’re gay, straight, widowed, celibate, and (surprisingly) libertine. But most of all they’re hot — because experience always is. Donning boas, neckties, and leopard prints, the vibrant ensemble sings, dances, shares stories, and gives tips for remaining randy into late life. Carmen and Jorge show off salsa moves. Tom reads his stunning poem. A geriatric couple recommends daily lovemaking. “I want to be that badass,” said a twentysomething woman sitting near me. We all do. As Tammy puts it, with hardly a trace of sourness, “This lemon’s still got a whole lot of juice.”

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JEFF The Brotherhood

Behold Nashville’s local rock royalty in a true clash of the titans! JEFF the Brotherhood, arguably Music City’s most beloved brotherly grunge duo, and Diarrhea Planet, another local six-pack of guitar-wielding punks, have been playing together since Glenn Danzig’s house was the primo place for house shows, fueling one of the country’s most thrilling, restless rock scenes since way before Jack White even built his Third Man Records compound down the street. Besides releasing five original LPs via Infinity Cat Recordings (which they founded with their dad, songwriter Robert Orall in 2002) and putting out countless works by other artists (Be Your Own Pet, Diarrhea Planet, PUJOL, Heavy Cream, Ed Schraeder’s Music Beat) on the same label, JEFF just released their new EP Dig the Classics in September via Warner Brothers, which features covers of the Pixies, Beck, Colleen Green, My Bloody Valentine, The Wipers and Teenage Fanclub. In a shit-storm of flying beer cans, mystic shredding and long hair, their live show will be a chance for outsiders to crowd surf on a gnarly greenwave and catch a rare glimpse of some underground Nashville magic.

Sun., Oct. 12, 8 p.m., 2014

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CULTURE ARCHIVES Living MUSIC ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

JEFF The Brotherhood

Behold Nashville’s local rock royalty in a true clash of the titans! JEFF the Brotherhood, arguably Music City’s most beloved brotherly grunge duo, and Diarrhea Planet, another local six-pack of guitar-wielding punks, have been playing together since Glenn Danzig’s house was the primo place for house shows, fueling one of the country’s most thrilling, restless rock scenes since way before Jack White even built his Third Man Records compound down the street. Besides releasing five original LPs via Infinity Cat Recordings (which they founded with their dad, songwriter Robert Orall in 2002) and putting out countless works by other artists (Be Your Own Pet, Diarrhea Planet, PUJOL, Heavy Cream, Ed Schraeder’s Music Beat) on the same label, JEFF just released their new EP Dig the Classics in September via Warner Brothers, which features covers of the Pixies, Beck, Colleen Green, My Bloody Valentine, The Wipers and Teenage Fanclub. In a shit-storm of flying beer cans, mystic shredding and long hair, their live show will be a chance for outsiders to crowd surf on a gnarly greenwave and catch a rare glimpse of some underground Nashville magic.

Mon., Oct. 13, 8 p.m., 2014

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All Them Witches

For being the first American group to be signed to the German psychedelic/stoner rock Elektrohasch Records, All Them Witches sound pretty damn American. The Nashville-based group deals in doomy, heavy-hitting reverb and sludgy guitar work colored by bluesy Southern rock elements and the occasional wild card harmonica cameo. ATW released their debut and second albums in quick succession in 2013, establishing both the band’s wide net of influence–hard rock, the blues, and psychedelia enter into their configuration in about equal measure–and their ability to synthesize many styles into an engaging, headbang-ready sound.

Thu., Aug. 21, 9:30 p.m., 2014

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Kings of Leon

While this Nashville quartet’s star has dimmed somewhat in recent years, Kings of Leon remain reliable standard bearers for a particular strain of Southern rock masculinity, a blythe, hard-livin’ authenticity both beguiling and curiously remote. Big beards, big hooks, throaty howls, a solid sense of pacing: what’s not to love here? Arena-sized meat’n’potatoes doesn’t get much better, and maybe more important, they’re not fucking Mumford & Sons.

Fri., July 25, 7 a.m., 2014

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Brandy Clark

Brandy Clark is a Nashville songwriting veteran who had given up on a solo career, until the labelhead of a tiny Dallas-based label Slate Creek Records, Jim Burnett, helped push her to release her own album. 12 Stories was practically met with glee by critics—the songs tell stories that are nuanced, often bleak takes on American life, but they’re peppered with hope and determination. Clark has an excellent grasp on her own throaty alto range, and the resulting combination has been setting the country music scene ablaze. Expect heartfelt lyrics delivered with wry passion and an undercurrent of humor. Her first single “Stripes” was a raucous, catchy number that bemoaned a cheating ex, but stopped short of jealous murder because of a distaste for prison fashion—redneck rage meets southern decorum, the perfect match.

Fri., June 20, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Patty Griffin

The veteran folk singer/songwriter has stayed on the ride since her 1996 debut with A&M, taking her own personal struggles and stories and using them to tell bigger ones with her inimitable songcraft. While Griffin’s music has shifted from aerial folk to rootsy, wind-swept Americana over the course of seven albums, she has created a diverse body of work unified by her unmistakable voice and its ability to deliver powerful, unpredictable songs with bittersweet insight and well-crafted lyricism. Besides winning a Grammy and becoming a member of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, further cementing herself as Nashville royalty, she has been touring in support of American Kid, released in May of last year. Opening for Griffin on the summer leg of the tour is Parker Millsap, a 20-year-old fellow tunesmith based out of Oklahoma known for his blend of blues-rock and thought-provoking storytelling. Millsap may be a little green, but after touring with Patty Griffin, he’ll be more than equipped to follow her example and stay on the ride.

Thu., June 5, 8:15 p.m., 2014