Album Review: Moaning, Moaning

Moaning is an apt band name for the type of aggressive, yet latently vulnerable music that its members create, existing somewhere between a resentful cry from pain as well as an escaped sigh of pleasure. After spending the last ten years developing their sound in the Los Angeles DIY scene, Sam Solomon, Pascal Stevenson, and Andrew MacKelvie signed to Sub Pop records and began working on their debut album, and with it their reputations for being post-punk wunderkinds were born – as well as their underlying desires to craft the sort of noise-heavy, lyrically personal and evocative anthems that seemingly any twenty-something can relate to their own personal ideologies, broken and weary from the increasing pressures of modern society.

There’s a specific mentality in millenials that if you’re not successful by the time you’re twenty-five, you might as well give up on your dream entirely. It’s an incredibly toxic, stunted way of thinking, even more so for those in a purely creative field, where it was always incredibly difficult to find success anyways. Of course, the threat of failure has never stopped creators from creating, and all cynicism aside, I honestly feel there has never been a better time to be in the creative field than right now, despite all of its frustrations – modern technology has made it so simple to readily express your thoughts and feelings, to do research on just about anything, and, most importantly, to seek both inspiration and solace from other creators. And yet, ironically, the struggle to somehow sculpt all of that into a stable living still remains.

This is the exact society that Moaning exist in, “one where the endless possibility for art and creation is met with the fear and doubt of an uncertain future” (Sub Pop),  a concept they express through simple, yet piercing language, and, perhaps fittingly, also mostly exists as a series of questions – in “Artificial” he asks either us, a past lover, society, or perhaps even all three “who is it for?/ was it thought through?/ can I have more?/ is it all for you?/ will you learn to share?” He asks similar questions to a faceless lover in the fervid, post-punk anthem “Don’t Go,” desperately wanting to know “do you care ‘cause I do?/ are you there ‘cause I am?” And finally, he begins the shoegaze heavy “Tired” in a bout of introspection, asking himself “is it in my head?/ is there anything to do?/ was it something I said?” And yet, through the smoldering wails of guitar and Solomon’s tired moan towards the end of each of these tracks, it’s clear these questions are all rhetorical, and will most likely never be answered. And ultimately, their frustrations with this sound most powerful and realized in the self-aware beast “Artificial,” where Solomon, surrounded on all sides by red hot, turbulent guitar, shouts “nothing is fair” before again falling captive to Stevenson’s disjointed bassline, and indirectly, the pressure to fully accept that observation.

With this album also came a lush production quality that Moaning hadn’t yet embraced due to their exclusively live presence over the past ten years, and there are moments – like the slightly bizarre, off kilter synth and elastic vocals of “Close” – where those experimental desires shine through, and, combined with their unique, youthful energy, they more than get away with it in the end. In fact, I kept wanting those desires to come back –  especially in the last half of the album – as tracks like “For Now,” “Useless,” and even closer “Somewhere in There,” while razor sharp in tone, ultimately sounded like angry filler, just a thick, impenetrable wall of sound, noise for noise’s sake.

The existence of these three tracks are especially frustrating, considering that Moaning already proved earlier in the album that they have the ability to flawlessly deliver a classic noise punk track, one with unpredictability, energy, and dimension, one that manages to check off every box on the list for all that they introduced at the beginning, being youthful angst, frustration with modern society, and yes, even heartbreak, and it is for these reasons that “The Same” exists as the clear stunner of this debut. Solomon begins with a deep, slurred drawl barely audible above the thick expanse of guitar and bass, then slowly grows in power, asking the most existential question of them all: “what’s next?” then provides the catch phrase of every twenty something trying to find success in their particular field – “we’ll see how it goes.”

It is the not knowing that makes it both incredibly exciting and incredibly frightening to be a creator, no, fuck it, anyone trying to make it in anything these days, and proves just how resilient the human spirit has to be in order to keep going – Moaning manage to sum it up in one simple phrase: “we’re the same, everything else has changed.”



photo by Michael Schmelling

Phum Viphurit – “Lover Boy”

YouTube algorithms are an insidious, but funny concept. After what felt like months and months of seeing the colorful thumbnail of Phum Viphurit’s single “Long Gone” – the lead single from his recently released debut Manchild – adjacent to just about every song I listened to, his newest single “Lover Boy” slowly took its place. I was beyond curious at this point, and as soon as I heard the hazy, wobbly surf guitar I both cursed and thanked our overlords at youtube for knowing me so well. Influenced by the likes of Mac DeMarco, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Stevie Wonder, the Thai born, New Zealand based twenty-one year old already sounds like a seasoned indie artist, from his natural, soulful voice to his control of guitar, and, most impressive, his production chops, composing, arranging, and producing the entirety of Manchild on his own. And yet, despite all the technical maturity, there’s still an addictive, youthful quality to the track that leaves you smiling, even long after the last note. Maybe I need to click on recommendations more often.


photo by Panalee Pattanapichai

serpentwithfeet – “bless ur heart”

The opening verse of serpentwithfeet’s most recent release reads like a poem – one that, despite the enamored manner in which it is expressed vocally, reads heavy, meticulous, and thoughtful, the result of careful, painful introspection throughout years of experiencing both love and the lack thereof. He first introduces his worries as an artist knowledgable in both these concepts, immediately and breathlessly, asking “when I give these books away, will my ink betray me?/ Will my stories resist wings and grow feet and convince men that I am boasting?/ Or will my psalms seek the company of lonely breaths?/ Will they inspire subtle lovers to kiss with mouths they don’t have yet?” Alongside minimal instrumentation, the soft, focused flutters of his falsetto reverberate with a tinge of sorrow, sweetened slightly with time spent in solitude.

“bless ur heart” is the first official tease of the experimental R&B perfomance artist’s upcoming debut album soil, described as “a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of musical youth,” a summoning of Wise’s days where he was unhinged and unfettered by musical structure, a complete hearkening back to his gospel roots. Despite its opening, in true gospel fashion the track is far from dismal, instead wonderfully and deceptively hopeful; Josiah Wise, through the subtle menagerie of piano, strings, and slightly off-kilter thumps of percussion that simulate anxious heartbeats, moves on from his moment of self-doubt to allow the feelings of infatuation consume him, asking how it is possible, as a human being in love, for him to “keep these love documents to myself,” to “restrict what’s given [him] life.” He repeatedly reminds himself – and, indirectly, the listener – to “keep a tender heart,” to remain open to love and all of its idiosyncrasies.

“bless ur heart” though tonally luxurious and scintillating, is ultimately the perfect depiction of what can result when one fully and fearlessly succumbs to their own vulnerability and capabilities for love, expressing exactly what that love should offer – to have the right to be soft and tender without fear of judgement, to possess the freedom to completely and irrevocably dissolve into another’s arms. Through the track, Wise seems to go through the motions, and ends up the victor on the other side, triumpantly telling the recipient of his emotions that he is no longer afraid – “I have the courage to share your love boldy.”

soil will be released on June 8th.


photo by Ash Kingston

Album Review: Ought, Room Inside the World

The creative freedoms of art-punk make it an incredibly fascinating subgenre of punk rock, able to be highly intellectual, or raw, brooding, and volatile, or, if you’re lucky, a wonderful amalgamation of the two. Montreal band Ought have been the poster boys for the anomalous genre of art-punk since their debut album More Than Any Other Day back in 2014, which mostly had to do with their impressive grasp on the genre – in fact, some say they may have even invented it due to their fearless, cathartic delivery, something that critics still like to relate back to the Quebec student protests that may have had a hand in their creation. Even a year later with the release of sophomore album Sun Coming Down – which sounded lighter and more colorful tonally – the quartet still sound wonderfully earnest in the themes of isolation, alienation, and the constant struggle and frustration with the monotonous minutiae of everyday life, and in Room Inside the World, the group’s most ambitious release to date, they not only elevate those same signature themes, but finally emphasize something that, until now, has been subtly coursing underneath, yet simultaneously coiled like a snake, ready for the right moment to strike – vulnerability.

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been a little (okay, very) biased towards Ought throughout the years, and that’s something that I’d like to expound before going into this album. When you’ve been in the creative sphere for the majority of your life like I have, there are many moments where you stop and think, with the utmost, unwavering conviction, that your words, your work, your creative pursuits, simply do not matter. I was a literature and creative writing major in college and started this blog around the same time, and while I was thrilled to finally be putting my entire being into what I was doing, even in my spare time, the thought that I would never find success with it lingered in my mind. It still lingers, to be honest. It’s frustrating – and even embarrassing at times – to be the one that repeatedly gets caught up in words and emotions to the point of over analyzation, to be the one that cares too much in a world where quick, lucrative thought and productive reason is repeatedly emphasized and rewarded. Bertrand Russell said years ago that “we think too much and feel too little,” and I have honestly never felt that more than today. When I first started listening to Ought, truly listening to the group’s smoldering, improvisational compositions, to Tim Darcy express to me his innermost thoughts and demons in such realized, poetic language despite the assertive manner in which he expelled them vocally, I realized just how important it was for me to continue what I was doing, to make sense of all the noise through varied forms of written word, and to do so as beautifully as one can despite it coming from a hollowed out place of strife.

Frontman Tim Darcy is no stranger to this process, nor is he a stranger to intense sensitivity and the vulnerability that comes along with it; his debut solo album Saturday Night touched on everything from the frustrations of the creative process to toxic masculinity, and in a lot of ways Room Inside the World seems to be a direct extension of those same themes, not to mention the amount of time spent on its creation due to the desire of it being a studio record rather than one that bordered more on being a live album. Sun Coming Down was recorded in two months and More Than Any Other Day was recorded in an unbelievable three days, Room Inside the World took the longest to record by far, at five months. However, that doesn’t mean that this album isn’t as raw and intensely improvisational than the last two – in fact, Darcy mentioned that with this project, they “didn’t want to lose that intensity, but really go deeper and think about craft.” As a result, the songs that appear on the album are patient and more drawn out, less in the way that sacrifices energy or intensity but more in the way in which they manage to appear even more thoughtful and respectful to their own work than ever before, existing as the well-ripened fruits of steady, consistent, collaborative labor.

Something that Ought has brilliantly managed to perfect is the delicate process of evolution as well as introducing it in a gradual manner, and the first three tracks are placed perfectly for a slow submersion into previously uncharted territory marked by varied compositional form. Opener “Into the Sea,” with its National-esque vocal and instrumental pacing, still sounds incredibly distinctive for the quartet the moment you hear Darcy’s frustrated, pained yell into the newfound expanse of echoed guitars and bass delivered by Ben Stidworthy, and the narrative is strangely synonymous with the pressures placed on the band (“these eyes that cling to you/ faked clean and washing through/ they seem to want something new/ fleeting, wanting, holding). “Disgraced in America” begins reminiscent of their Sun Coming Down days, especially with Tim Keen’s frantic drums and Darcy’s yelps (“What a blessing/ what an imitation/ what a blessing/ what an imitation), that is before he suddenly sinks into the melted pool of instrumentals halfway through and transforms his voice into the fluid instrument it always had the potential of being – also managing to make the word “demarcation” sound more sensual and poetic than it ever has, and perhaps ever will. With these two opening tracks they also give us a makeshift thesis statement for the album – that it will ultimately address intellectualism and creative, artistic desires and vulnerable emotions persevering and struggling to survive in a poisoned world stained with judgement and corruption.

One very important thing that you have probably already concluded for yourself – especially if you have been a fan of Ought since the beginning – is that it is near impossible to listen to them if you have an aversion to lyrical narrative. You cannot simply listen to these songs without at least glancing at the liner notes, without the burning desire to know exactly what Darcy is communicating, and they are especially piercing in Room Inside the World. The best tracks are the ones that tap into the frustrations of being soft in a world that rewards being stoic and detached, the ones where Darcy plays both the poet and the prophet.

“These 3 Things” has Darcy addressing the simultaneous passion and dread that comes with being easily susceptible to the fragile, excitable nature of inspiration and the creative process that spurns from it (“See your soul/ feel it sway/ hear the world screaming/ listen, your name”). He voices his frustrations with the process, wondering if he can be genuine (“Will I hear my soul?), but then calms down enough to explain the importance of letting inspiration flow freely, advising us before Tim Keen’s cinematic violin instrumentals “if you’re made of stone/ then turn into clay.” Stunner “Disaffectation” not only introduces the especially evocative 80’s inspiration the boys had this time around, but also solidifies their aggressive intellectual edge by the first mention of the philosophical term that is its namesake – the term suggesting that certain people are “psychologically separated from their emotions, and may have lost the capacity to be in touch with interior psychic reality.” It also brings to mind an affliction that simultaneous intellectuals and creatives may suffer from – the process of being so entranced by the pain and strife they endure and simultaneously actively seek out from other creatives to the point where their intense strength in being empathetic becomes a double edged sword, and soon it becomes harder and harder to escape from the feeling. In “Disaffectation” Darcy explains in a half-crazed, half-impassioned croon that he has “all these strange visions/ come to [him] at night” and he hears “with satisfaction” as they “sing the words [he] likes,” and with them he lays in bed, “high” on the feeling, afterwards bitterly saying that there is medication to get rid of this – “you can get it through the phone.” The anxious slew of bass and drums bounce up and down during these dense verses, providing enough bravado for Darcy to excitedly deliver an brilliant line, one where you can almost hear the satisfied smile that comes with it –  “disaffectation is holy/ it makes me feel alive!”

It is “Take Everything,” however, that most directly addresses this frustration of being too soft and too wrapped up in your own passions – those that are insidious in the way that they both bring pleasure as well as pain – as well as the track that houses some of the most beautiful lyrics Darcy has ever written. In a tired, lurching vocal delivery and inbetwixt snarling, growling guitars, he advises us once again that “when the feel of a flower/ keeps you at home for an hour/ throw it away/ there’s a garden there to be deep in.” He looks out for our well-being while perhaps at the same time reminding himself of his own creative flaws. It’s entirely possible to love something too much to the point of remaining inside yourself and showing utter disrespect to the object or concept you are admiring –  it is instead what results from that love, what is created as an extension of that love that should be rewarded.

Speaking of love, slow-burner “Desire” might be the most sensual song Ought has ever released, as well as the most self-aware. Beginning with dreamy flutters of synth and subtle distortion, we hear the most deliberate, softest vocal delivery from Darcy pour in before he resorts back to his signature, deep-throated drawl, delivering a narrative of equal parts romance and vitriol. He expounds a relationship that has long since deteriorated, repeating that “it was never gonna stay: throughout the track, and yet compares his love to a “moon in a basket of weeds,” remembers the “feel of [their] honey in the corner of [his] mouth.” Darcy, hurt but not broken implied by the immense inhumanity of this nameless person, “won’t accept the conceit any further,” promises to return it “in a fervor,” and like clockwork in comes the seventy piece choir that elevates his argument into the stratosphere.

Regardless of my own personal bias, Ought nevertheless remains as one of the most innovative, passionate, and intellectual bands currently working today, and it is simply because they prove that the written and spoken word, even in its most polarizing poetic and lyrical forms, still has meaning, importance, power. And now with Room Inside the World, they are more than willing to express the importance of drawing out as well as praising the feeling of vulnerability amidst a world of stoicism, indifference, and anger, expressing the sheer validity of the messier, more esoteric parts of the human condition when it is far easier to ignore them completely. The fact that they have again managed to tap deep into the inner workings of my soul – a place that I thought was impenetrable compared to my far more permeable heart – with those thoughts that I have had throughout my life as a writer but, ironically, could never put into words, is more than enough to make Room Inside the World among the few true works of art that I personally will not only consider a unarguable masterpiece, but one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.



photo courtesy of artist/ merge records

SALES – “Off And On”

Orlando guitar pop duo SALES specialize in breezy, minimal compositions that sound so effortlessly human and intimate its almost as if they’re always in the same room as you when listening to their music, albeit simultaneously so focused and entranced at the same time on what they create that it also sounds just barely out of reach. Their self-titled debut full length album, released back in 2016, was chock full of these emotionally duplicitous tracks, led by singer Lauren Morgan’s fluid, yet slightly sharp, flinty vocals and guitar as well as Jordan Shih’s synth production. Their most recent work “Off And On,” following the previously released track “Talk A Lot” follows the same aesthetic heard in the debut, but also sounds cleaner in its production, tonally somehow both wide open and meticulously stitched together in its many individual melodies. Morgan’s vocals reverberate against the thick walls of synth, able to sound both resonant and impassioned with the dense lyrical narrative she’s composed. Yet it is once again that current of melancholy, intended or not, that drives the track, and we can only hope it leads to another full length project in the future.


photo courtesy of artist

Nap Eyes – “I’m Bad”

Next week, Canadian indie group Nap Eyes will release their third full length album I’m Bad Now, the follow up to 2015’s Thought Rock Fish Scale. After sharing the first single in anticipation for the album – the country-folk ballad “Every Time the Feeling” – the quartet has returned with the almost title track “I’m Bad,” laced with a transparent and highly personal lyrical narrative, perhaps even the most personal the group has ever done. While the track still very much bolsters the same feelings of melancholy and nostalgia that appeared throughout their past work, there’s also a newfound current of super charged self-awareness that runs through the track, as Chapman refers to himself in the second-person, confronting and “diagnosing his delusions.” He laments in a tired, yet somehow fervid croon that “it doesn’t take much/ to topple your equilibrium/ you say you’re a hated son/ and disappointment haunts everyone.” He attacks his intelligence and abilities with vitriol and yet the track lurches forward despite it all, the melancholy surging in again more potent than ever. At times, however, that same carefree, lucid nature of the instrumentals can be close to heartbreaking, almost as if Chapman hides under the blanket of guitar and drums, but with the insidious desire for the listener to lift up the covers and get to the vulnerable center that nestles itself within the lyrics. Yet, there’s something oddly charming in the way this is orchestrated, and something so ironically clever in ending the track with the phrase “You’re so dumb” and following it up with such a killer guitar solo, Chapman giving us a sly wink and leading us to believe he’s not really as bad as they say.

I’m Bad Now will be released on March 9th.


photo courtesy of artist

Cloud Castle Lake – “Malingerer”

Dublin-based four piece Cloud Castle Lake is one of those incredibly rare, otherworldly bands that don’t simply make music – they repeatedly, brilliantly, and passionately create huge, fantastical worlds where unique, improvisational musings and musical components that simply shouldn’t work together in any other setting just do. Everything from Daniel McAuley’s sky-high, borderline inhuman falsetto croon to the fiery, jazz-inspired instrumentals that erupt from bassist Rory O’Connor, guitarist/pianist Brendan William Jenkinson, and most recently, drummer Brendan Doherty all border on something like a blatant evocation of the human spirit or divine intervention. And yet it’s possible that something so pure can also have a sharp edge of rebellion and strife, and that’s where “Malingerer,” the group’s newest masterpiece and title track from their upcoming debut album, unveils itself. Their most complex, esoteric, and sprawling track to date, harnesses an unpredictable, smoldering energy within its core, seemingly catering to the whims of the living and the afterlife alike due to its haunting nature. McAuley searches deep within his soul, really reaches around and claws at the edges, and flawlessly delivers a stunning vocal narrative, all while backed by a choir of equally impassioned voices, with no less than a massive barrage of eerie, yet enamored instrumentals keeping him afloat. It ultimately ends the way it begins, with soft, scattered musings, although its clear something painful has been accepted as an irrevocable truth, something that was worth the warlike clash of sound.

Malingerer will be released on April 20th.


photo courtesy of artist

Teen Ravine – “Hall of Horrors”

After sharing it late last year, this week Toronto dream pop duo Teen Ravine have released the music video for “Hall of Horrors,” the first track off their upcoming debut album. The album, described by members Nick Rose and Dan Griffin “as an exploration of physical and emotional alienation,” introduces these themes in the first track, composed of both light and heavy instrumental elements to create a potent aura of melancholy. Lush orchestrals, chimes, and soft guitar strums intertwine with a deep underlying bassline, individual rivers that all seem to converge into the deep ocean that is the bridge – where everything suddenly gets heavier seemingly both physically and emotionally. But it is the hazy, half-desperate, half-spellbound vocals that truly separates Teen Ravine from the rest, bordering on everything from impassioned to tired to haunting in the flick of a wrist. Perhaps the multi-faceted nature of the vocals comes from the track’s lyrical narrative, which deals with wanting to escape the past but not without being reminded of it every step of the way – hence the “hall of horrors,” a fun-house carnival attraction without the reward of the exit sign.

Teen Ravine:

In this song, we tried to capture the disoriented feeling of waking up in the middle of the night and not knowing where you are. Struggling to fall back asleep as your mind wanders to uncomfortable places. Feeling lost and reaching out for someone who’s no longer there. 

We live in a noisy world and it can be hard to find intimacy and compassion. It’s easy to emotionally detach and drift along aimlessly, a passenger in your own life. We wanted to create music for people to sink into themselves as they float in a warm bath staring down at their own weird naked body.

Teen Ravine will release their debut self-titled album on October 18th.


photo courtesy of artist

Support kidwithavinyl (or not, I’ll still love you)

As you may or may not know, for the past four years kid with a vinyl has been a one woman operation. Though I still like to pretend that this is a massive site with many contributors, everything over these past few years – and I mean everything – has been researched, written, and posted by me, from my bedroom, my dorm room, the library, you name it. I’ve learned a lot these past few years, including how to write and listen properly, connect with bands and artists, and mostly just about how much power music really holds in helping to transform someone’s life for the better, and, more recently, how it exists as a social, societal, and even political voice amidst a world of chaos. Honestly, I’m still learning about every aspect of the music industry, and how to be a better music fan and music writer, so I’m incredibly grateful that the blog has gotten as big as it has, and that we can reach so many people from around the world. I can only hope that it continues to grow, that we can continue to highlight these bands and artists that deserve to be recognized. 

I never really saw the point in buying advertising or asking for donations, mainly because this was a passion project when it first started, and for the most part, it still very much is. However, it has always been a dream of mine to make this blog a full time project, or at least something close to one, as it has also always been a dream of mine to be a writer and support myself that way (a lofty goal, I know). I have so many plans for the future – buying a domain name, for one –  longer blog posts and professional, in depth music criticism essays (many topics on the brain right now), more interaction with new and upcoming bands and artists, concert and gig reviews…and the list goes on and on. I’d love to make this a more serious, focused, consistent website, and your help would be invaluable and revolutionary in making that happen.

In that regard, I’ve recently made both a ko-fi and a patreon page for the site. If you like the site and visit it often, any donation in any amount would mean the world to me. And of course, there’s no pressure at all to donate. I absolutely love running this blog, and I will continue to do so no matter what.

Thank you so much for reading and visiting.

Paria ☆

Alfred Hall – “Pearl Diver”

Over the years, dream pop duo Alfred Hall seem to have perfected the art of the quintessential, yet effortlessly evocative indie song, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, at least in their native Norway (their debut album Wilderness was nominated for “Best Pop Album” at the Norwegian Grammys). Yet it was clear they wanted to establish their unique, passionate sound in the U.S., and their 2014 self-titled EP – their first worldwide release –  seemed to do just that, utilizing breezy, sun-soaked instrumentals and breathless vocals in stunning, expansive tracks like “Foreign Coast” and the upbeat, tribal-inspired “Safe & Sound.” Now, four years later, they’re back with “Pearl Diver,” what seems to be their most stunning track to date. Gorgeously multi-faceted in its composition, the track can easily be broken into several distinct parts, each with it’s own fantastical composition and narrative. The vocals during the verses, crisp and airy, hover gently above synth and meticulously chosen effects, creating the illusion of sailing above a watery coast – vocalist Bjørn Tveit follows a day in the life of a wistful pearl diver, telling him to “taste the cool morning air,” though inside he is missing an unnamed lover, and only she is on his mind. Then he, along with the instrumentals, dive deep under the waves, and that same synth suddenly becomes heavier and melancholy in tone, simulating intense oceanic pressure – and yet, our diver is unfettered, still thinking of her, still hopeful, explaining “Underwater/ Still your vision never blurs/ Underwater/ You’ve made plans for you and her,” adding that his “faith is worn” but he’ll “still turn every rock.” Soon we realize that she was his metaphorical pearl, just as beautiful, just as elusive – but before he can wallow, he’s thrown into a rocky expanse of guitar – provided by Hans Thomas Kiær – as if he is being pushed slowly to the surface for a breath of reality. And yet, we can only assume he will return the next day, searching for his pearl once again, continuing his perpetual journey towards contentment regardless of how deep he has to dive.

Alfred Hall is rumored to release an EP later this year.


photo by Pernille Wangsmo