SAD13 and THIN LIPS
Diet Cig are here to have fun. They’re here to tear you away from the soul-sucking sanctity of your dumpster-fire life and replace it with pop-blessed punk jams about navigating the impending doom of adulthood when all you want is to have ice cream on your birthday. Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums) have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman’s previous band for a lighter. The New York duo have since released the infectious, 2015 Over Easy EP that introduced consistent sing-a-long lyrics with thrashing drums and strums that never held back.
Swear I’m Good At This is the first full-length from the band and accumulates their tenacity for crafting life-affirming, relatable tales with a gutsy heart at their core. Luciano has the ability to write lyrics that are both vulnerable and badass, perfecting a storm of emotive reflection that creates a vision of a sweaty, pumped-up room screaming these lines in unison. Diet Cig make it okay to be the hot mess that you are.
But there’s also a deeper, more powerful fuck-you among the bangers that see Diet Cig grow into an unstoppable and inspiring force. “I’m not being dramatic, I’ve just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be” spits Luciano on “Link in Bio”; “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry” she yells on “Maid Of The Mist”. It’s the sound of a band doing things on their own terms.
Wrapping up Swear I’m Good At This on Halloween 2016, exactly two years after they finished recording Over Easy on Halloween 2014, Diet Cig’s first, full-length LP validates the experiences of punks who aren’t always accepted first time around; the punks who throw their deuces up at the dominating bro-dudes and ignite the importance of owning everything that you are.
It’s very strange (“Or not strange at all! Hi!” says feminism) that most of the music we funnel into little girls’ ears—even music written by former little girls—is about how women are petty, pretty garbage whose only valuable function is to hold perfectly still in men’s boudoirs and wait for intercourse. “I wanted to make songs that were the opposite of ‘Genie in A Bottle’ or ‘The Boy Is Mine,’” Sadie Dupuis says of Slugger, her new solo album under the name Sad13.
“Songs that put affirmative consent at the heart of the subject matter and emphasize friendship among women and try to deescalate the toxic jealousy and ownership that are often centered in romantic pop songs.” What!? Songs for women that actually champion women’s autonomy, reflect women’s desires, listen to women when they talk, and let women be funny and normal and cool, like women actually are?
After being born, which she totally nailed, Sadie grew up in New York City, toured internationally with a professional children’s choir, then bounced around Massachusetts before eventually landing in Philadelphia “like every other feminist punk.” She has an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, likes comics WITH AN ALL-CAPS PASSION, has written for Nylon and Spin, and is mega-beloved for her rock band Speedy Ortiz. Most recently, finding herself disillusioned with a lifetime of misogynist radio pop and yearning for the megalomaniacal autonomy of a solo project, Sadie/Sad13 churned out Slugger in a two-week fury.
Slugger is a pure solo effort. Sadie didn’t just write and sing and play guitar, she recorded and produced the record herself in a subletted bedroom in Fishtown—a not insignificant act of feminist defiance. Despite millennia of evidence to the contrary, women in music are still relentlessly pigeonholed as, essentially, decorative. Sure, you can be a girl singer, or a girl tambourine player, or, once in a while (the height of novelty!), a girl drummer, but a girl producer? A girl engineer? Cool X-File, Mulder! Sadie steers Slugger with a serene sure-footedness, vaporizing that old lie better than any howling polemic ever could. The best revenge is to do your work.
Slugger's musical touchstones are vast and varied: contemporary pop à la Charli XCX, Santigold, Kelela, Grimes; folk songwriters Karen Dalton and Connie Converse; ‘90s trip-hop; riot grrrl (duh); plus Sad13’s feminist indie and punk contemporaries like Tacocat, Waxahatchee, Mitski, and Bully. Slugger shouldn’t feel like a revolution, but it does—in both content and execution. This is fun music about real shit.
Only two members of Philadelphia trio Thin Lips are related by blood. Nevertheless, when three people stick together for over a decade through endless tours, countless band incarnations, and hundreds of recording sessions, they may as well be considered family. At the very least, they will be seen together on major holidays; but instead of hiding presents under a tree, they’ll probably be playing a basement show in Duluth. This is the case for Chrissy Tashjian, Kyle Pulley, and Mikey Tashjian, known collectively as Thin Lips.
Spend some time with the Tashjian siblings individually and you will quickly notice their admiration for one another. They’re a long way from covering Korn songs in their parents’ basement after school, and now the pair in their early thirties can’t stop talking about how proud they are of the adults they’ve become--Chrissy ever the admirer of Mikey’s sympathetic heart and boundless goodwill, Mikey continually praising his sister for her relentless support of the queer community, as heard on the opening track of Chosen Family.
Enter Kyle Pulley, Thin Lips’ in-house recording engineer and lifelong Tashjian tourmate. Pulley grew close to the Tashjians during an extended stint at Big Mama’s Warehouse in North Philadelphia, a music collective that functioned as the original location of his burgeoning recording studio, The Headroom, and as a home base for Kyle, Chrissy, and Mikey’s first band. It was here that the trio learned to live together, cook together, and write together.
Naturally, the next step was touring. Eventually, as Chrissy, Kyle, and Mikey’s laps across America became more frequent, they realized that their once modestly-sized chosen family was growing across state lines. The love and tolerance they had learned in the warehouse was not insular; in fact, the trio began discovering like-minded communities of queer artists and musicians tucked into every corner of the country.