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Frankie Cosmos

The Transverso Guide to Pitchfork Music Festival 2017

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

Pitchfork Music Festival is an experiential embodiment of the magazine itself, topped off with all the sweat and smoke you reflexively sense when reading their articles. All the artists too cool for Lollapalooza descend on Union Park just a few weeks before in the publication's (and our!) native Chicago, and we've taken the liberty of condensing the lineup into a handy guide you can use to preview what's in store this weekend.


FRIDAY


Hiss Golden Messenger (Red Stage - 3:00)
What’s this? An artist who has some predominant twang and mountain revival gospel roots featured on the Pitchfork Musical Festival lineup!? Say it ain’t so! Anyway, trade in your dad hats for a decidedly more Stetson-y aesthetic, because Hiss Golden Messenger is bringing some much needed Americana grit to the ultimate poseur festival on the calendar. Coming off of 2016’s Heart Like a Levee, MC Taylor is one of the few aritists in rotation today that have become consistently better with each subsequent release. So, if you want some pickin’ music to mix things up before you see Vince Staples, then Hiss Golden Messenger would serve as an interesting pre-Crabs in a Bucket fare. (Sean McHugh)

Vince Staples (Green Stage - 4:00)
Rap’s current “Big Fish,” as far as hip-hop personas go and as his recent studio release Big Fish Theory suggests, is a strong addition to the festival and helps maintain Pitchfork’s reputation for diversified and well-curated lineups. Performances of Staples’ new material will satiate an audience hunger for hip-hop bangers, invigorating electronic beats, and recitable hooks. Those who have yet to hear the new album need not be alarmed as Staples’ latest release will easily captivate fans previously earned and win over new ones. [Editor's Note: Not to mention Vince Staples' feature was probably the best part of the new Gorillaz record, too.] (Ezra Carpenter)

 

William Tyler (Blue Stage - 4:00)
One of the prides and joys of Nashville, Tennessee, William Tyler is a man that everyone has heard but never realized. His unique brand of post-bluegrass/country music brings about a side of the Southeast that many have never considered. Concise and deft in his ways, Tyler and his backing band (typically consisting of members from Margo Price and Bully) elicit sounds and senses of a Southern sound making its way into a proud but creeping decay, with the slightest sliver of hope trickling through each and every one of Tyler’s fine finger picking. Unfortunately, Tyler drew the toughest slot share of fest going up against Vince Staples’ set, which will undoubtedly be the belle of the ball (festival). (Sean McHugh)

Thurston Moore Group (Red Stage - 5:00)
Undoubtedly included in the lineup as means for Pitchfork to retain its ties to the indy-establishment community, post-punk legend Thurston Moore will be a polarizing act for the festival audience. Millennials will either embrace Moore’s cultivated practice of ambient punk or rip their ears off entirely from a boredom induced by music they simply don’t understand. Guitar enthusiasts, avid fans of experimental music, and post-punk die-hards do not need any persuasion as to why they should not miss out on a performance by the Sonic Youth founding member. But casual Sonic Youth fans (whose favorite of their catalog is most likely Goo) and those unfamiliar with their work should be weary of lengthy, downtempo post-punk instrumentals that do little to win over impatient listeners. (Ezra Carpenter)

Frankie Cosmos (Blue Stage - 5:15)
Under the guise Frankie Cosmos, Greta Kline has established herself as one of the finest songwriters of her generation. Her intimate, earnest lyrics are as emotionally transparent as a diary entry and as charmingly frank as a gossip sesh with your best friend. Her hooks worm their way into your brain, often weeks after you first hear them. So even if you’ve never heard her, check out Frankie Cosmos on the Blue Stage. By September, you’ll know all their songs by heart. (Julian Axelrod)

Kamaiyah (Green Stage - 6:30)
Fresh off her appearance on this year’s XXL Freshmen Class cover (the only female MC, bafflingly), Oakland’s own Kamaiyah is riding a massive wave of well-deserved hype. Her incredible mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto is the perfect distillation of her bright, funky sound, which recalls Salt-N-Pepa and TLC but sounds completely singular. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more fun show at this year’s fest. (Julian Axelrod)

Dirty Projectors (Red Stage - 7:00)
Upcoming Dirty Projectors’ performances bear more of a loss than a win for avid fans. On one hand, you will have the new material featured on their recent self-titled LP at your disposal with the band’s signature electro-pop sound nuanced with the dancehall influence that has marked most popular music this past year. But sadly, you will miss out on the vocal and guitar contributions by hallmark member Amber Coffman, who left the band to begin a solo venture catalyzed by the disintegration of her relationship with former partner and DP frontman Dave Longstreth. Within the context of Pitchfork’s Friday lineup, Dirty Projectors will serve you best as a palate cleanser for headlining act LCD Soundsystem. They will do well to help you adjust from the hip-hop/R&B/industrial electronic acts (Danny Brown, Vince Staples, Arca, and DAWN) featured on the day’s lineup. (Ezra Carpenter)

Acra (Blue Stage - 7:45)
If ever there were a sound that would be simply and best described as being “creepy” while not being a post-punk emo band consigned to Warped Tour oblivion, Arca would be at the top of the heap. Alejandro Ghersi’s self-titled 2017 release is by far and away his best AND creepiest/WTF-iest. Where other records like 2015’s Mutant went for a more devilish production route, S/T is remarkably pop-y (if you can consider music that sounds like the revised soundtrack of Saw-meets-Antichrist to be pop-y) and insatiably listenable. If you want to impress even the Pitchfork-iest of wannabe scenesters at Pitchfork Fest this year, then sticking it out during Arca will almost certainly impress those strangers you desperately seek validation from! (Sean McHugh)

 

 

LCD Soundsystem (Green Stage - 8:10)
15 years later and they haven’t quite lost their edge yet. Like we wrote in our preview of Lollapalooza last year, LCD Soundsystem are about as good as a headlining act can get. Say what you will about their temporary breakup and subsequent reunion, you’d have to be heartless to sit through a live rendition of “Dance Yrself Clean” and not feel at least a decent hit of euphoria. With the introduction of new instant classics “call the police” and “american dream” to their set, plus some other unreleased tracks from the forthcoming return record American Dream (due out September 1 via Columbia / DFA), James Murphy and co will continue to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, even if New York still brings them down. All you have to do is show up. (Weston Pagano)


SATURDAY


Weyes Blood (Green Stage - 2:30)
A quiet, yet deserving member of the “next-wave” of west coast indie stars (as christened through association with Father John Misty and Ariel Pink), Weyes Blood is one of the most refined new talents in music. Orchestral compositions spread across infectious melodies make for a magnificent and beguiling live experience that settles quite nicely into the Pitchfork aesthetic. Decidedly more reserved than the delightful garage-ska of Jeff Rosen and the Rock chic of Cherry Glazerr, Weyes Blood is a nice mid-afternoon comedown on Pitchfork Fest’s second day. (Sean McHugh)

 

Mitski (Blue Stage - 4:00)
In-studio performances with various radio-stations and online media outlets have revealed a tasteful versatility in Mitski’s live performance arsenal. The artist behind 2016’s Puberty 2 is able to manage solo performances accompanied only by an electric guitar and amp, as well as support from drums and rhythm  guitar (in which case she hops on bass). Mitski Miyawaki is a true music virtuoso with proficiency in several instruments and a keen ability to curate a performance according to individual venues and audiences. It is always a unique opportunity to experience a grassroots independent artist taking on an outdoor venue and one would be wise not to miss out on her set. She pairs well with fellow New York-based independent artist Vagabon (also featured on the Saturday lineup) and will be a great primer for Angel Olsen.  (Ezra Carpenter)

Angel Olsen (Green Stage - 6:15)
The best Olsen sister of them all, Angel is set for a homecoming of sorts after leaving Chicago for Asheville, North Carolina back in fall of 2013. Coming off of last summer's rollickingly infectious "Shut Up Kiss Me" and the rest of her breakthrough album My Woman, it'll be worth stopping by the Green Stage for that single alone. (Weston Pagano)

 

Madlib (Blue Stage - 6:30)
If you are at Pitchfork Music Festival 2017 and actively choose to skip out on Madlib’s set then you are - to place it in layman’s terms - a loser. Madlib is an absolute and unequivocal of hip-hop, rap, house, electronic, chillwave, and everything else Pitchfork readers salivate over. He is the All Father of modern urban music. AKA Otis Jackson, Jr. is the go to collaborator for one of the most criminally underrated rappers of his generation, MF DOOM, and has created one of the greatest rap albums of all time, Madvillainy. I mean, come on, the dude has worked with Mos Def, Kanye, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, AND has been on heavy rotation in every DJ worth his or her weight in wax. Seriously, I cannot reiterate enough, if you are in attendance at Pitchfork Music Festival 2017 and you choose NOT to see Madlib, please do return. Go see Madlib, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, GO. SEE. MADLIB. (Sean McHugh)

A Tribe Called Quest (Green Stage - 8:30)
Hip-hop greats currently celebrating a late career second wind, and the life of esteemed emcee and former founding member Phife Dawg, will navigate through their performance by revisiting classic tracks and new material from 2016’s politically charged We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. Performing throughout the 2000s, Q-Tip developed an onstage presence that is more lively, energetic, and tenacious than anything from ATCQ’s catalog would suggest. Hip-hop heads young and old need not worry of whether or not these veterans still have the stamina to energize a crowd. Q-Tip’s mellow delivery and tack-sharp lyrics over Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s pristine work on the ones and twos are vintage hip-hop at its finest. (Ezra Carpenter)


SUNDAY


Kilo Kish (Green Stage - 1:00)
One of the coolest acts on Pitchfork’s lineup this year, Kilo Kish is exactly what someone like Kehlani wishes she could be. She’s the performance art contemporary of SZA and NONAME, and immediate associate of Vince Staples (AOTY?), so if that’s not endorsement enough, then you probably aren’t one for her set. Nevertheless, if you’re at Pitchfork Fest, you should go because her 2016 LP Reflections in Real Time kicks as AND she’s the only one playing during her time slot. (Sean McHugh)
 

 

 

Colin Stetson (Red Stage - 1:45)
Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, BadBadNotGood, Animal Collective, David Gilmour, Feist, Timber Timbre, Tom Waits, TV on the Radio. Yes, those are all bands that Pitchfork has an obsessive Stan-ism for, but they are also bands that have called upon alto and baritone saxophonist extraordinaire Colin Stetson for all their brasswind needs. On top of such a fact, Stetson’s live set and solo work is absolutely exceptional - he gerry rigs his own unique microphone apparatus (effectively a choker around his neck) that picks up guttural noises emanating not only from his core, but also his esophagus. His live set is all but a masterclass in circular breathing and live-sound MacGyvering, so if you’re one for DIY-isms, then Stetson’s set is a must see. (Sean McHugh)

NE-HI (Green Stage - 2:30)
Pitchfork is relatively light on hometown heroes this year, so make sure you show out for Chicago’s own NE-HI. The scrappy foursome traffics in sun-bleached, nostalgic guitar anthems that were custom-made for drinking on a friend’s porch. Their infectious riffs recall fellow Chicago mainstays Twin Peaks (who played Pitchfork last year) but NE-HI’s earnest tone sets them apart. The gang is holding down a prime spot on the main stage, so come celebrate their success by cracking open a cold one with these boys. (Julian Axelrod)

Isaiah Rashad (Red Stage - 3:20)
One of the best rappers working and yet somehow can’t seem to garner the respect of his contemporaries. He’s a southern rapper (Chattanooga, Tennessee) that managed to work his way into the XXL Freshman class of 2014, which included Kevin Gates, August Aslina, Vic Mensa, and some guy named Chance the Rapper (pre-spiritual revival) and Rashad STILL managed to murder the cypher. His post-2014 work has been equally as exceptional and under covered, but if you hit his Sunday set at Pitchfork Festival, you will hopefully convert to a Rashad disciple rather than Chance. (Sean McHugh)

Joey Purp (Green Stage - 4:00)
Joey Purp is yet another Chicago-based rapper that counts the like of Julien Ehrlich of Whitney and Mac DeMarco as fans; so if that isn’t Pitchfork-y enough for you, then you aren’t at Pitchfork. Otherwise, you should still check out Joey Purp because he’s a founding member of Savemoney (whose alumni include Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa) and he samples Drake’s “Gyalchester” on his song “Gucci Link.” That fact alone is worth hitting his set (and because his set is ultimately more interesting than Hamilton Leithauser, speaking from experience). (Sean McHugh)

Hamilton Leithauser (Green Stage - 4:15)
Because Rostam is never along for the live shows it can be easy to forget that The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser’s newest album is not technically a solo record. He and his live band, which includes former members of Spoon and White Rabbits, still do more than a sufficient job performing the duo’s fantastic I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, though. “I use the same voice I always had,” Leithauser belts out on “Sick as a Dog,” and despite the “extreme hiatus” of his original act there’s really no excuse to miss out on those world class pipes in any context while he’s still able to howl and wail with such passionate power. (Weston Pagano)

Pinegrove (Blue Stage - 5:15)
Arguably the greatest Bandcamp band to date, Evan Stephens-Hall and his Montclair, NJ cohorts bring their blue-chip millennial middle class spectral gazing to an otherwise lavish Pitchfork lineup (then again, the festival is the wannabe indie “tastemakers” wet dream). Anyway, Pitchfork is yet another festival stop on what has become a near two-year victory lap for Pinegrove highly lauded debut album Cardinal. There will undoubtedly be countless fervent and angst-laden Pingrovians, as the band’s faithful travel extremely well. Certainly a must see if you’re looking for more guitar and viscerality as opposed to the majority of Pitchfork’s beat-saturated 2017 lineup. (Sean McHugh)

The Avalanches (Green Stage - 6:25)
Most artists wouldn’t be able to come back from a 15-year hiatus. Then again, most artists aren’t the Avalanches. More than a decade after their seminal debut Since I Left You, the Australian group returned with another silly, sunny, sample-heavy sound collage in Wildflower. Even more impressively, they expanded their sound (including collaborations with Toro y Moi and fellow Pitchfork performer Danny Brown) while still sounding like they did in 2000. The group doesn’t tour often, so this may be your last chance to see them… until they drop their third album in 2033. (Julian Axelrod)

Jamila Woods (Blue Stage - 6:30)
Solange’s 2016 masterpiece A Seat at the Table earned her a much-deserved headlining spot at Pitchfork this year. But before you hear “Cranes in the Sky” live and ascend to heaven, make time to see another incredible 2016 R&B album come to life. Chicago singer/poet Jamila Woods gained widespread acclaim with her solo debut HEAVN, a deeply stirring and empathetic work about struggling to find peace amongst personal and political turmoil. It’s an invigorating record, and Woods brings the same mix of warmth and passion to the stage. (Julian Axelrod)

 

American Football (Blue Stage - 7:45)
The godfathers of American emo and native sons of Illinois (Urbana) who helped bring Chicago independent music into bloom in the late '90s have hit the festival circuit in support of their self-titled second LP (released in 2016 and not to be confused with their 1999 debut which was also self-titled…). Household name amongst indy/emo circles, Mike Kinsella has returned with the band’s original members to capitalize on 90s nostalgia and the hometown yearning for the unapologetic emotionality of their cult classic debut. Known for the technicality of their math rock sound, the sharpness and complexity of their instrumentals alone qualify American Football as a must-see. If not for their pristine instrumentation, see them to indulge in your forgone teenage feelings and perhaps buy yourself a PBR or some fireball to realize the sentiment.  (Ezra Carpenter)

Nicolas Jaar (Red Stage - 7:25)
Its highly likely that Nicolas Jaar is your favorite DJ-producer’s DJ, and yet somehow, most people who claim to be up-to-snuff on their scene knowledge leave him unabashedly unlisted in their “top-DJs-working” lists. So, if you wish to make up for past transgressions of not-listening-ness, then hit up Nicolas Jaar’s set. He put out one of the best experimental records of the decade in 2016’s Sirens as well as one of 2017’s best Boiler Room TV sessions. Go see him to prep for Solange, if you’re trying to groove instead of feel blue after American Football’s set. (Sean McHugh)

Solange (Green Stage - 8:30)
Pitchfork named Solange’s 2016 LP A Seat at the Table its number one album of the year. Her live performance is as visually striking as her music is provocative. Elaborate stage decor and lush wardrobe pieces create a medium that amplifies her songs’ conceptions of black beauty, assessments of race relations, and interrogations of the African American identity. A live performance by Solange is nothing short of an enriching experience sonically, visually, and intellectually. As Sunday’s headliner, she is an undeniable match for her festival headlining peers and has the potential to come out of the weekend as the best performer amongst them. (Ezra Carpenter)

Porches' Aaron Maine Discusses Dark Muscle, Escapism, and the Obsolescence of the Encore

Music InterviewWeston PaganoComment
Cover photo by Jessica Lehrman / Live shots by Andrea Calvetti

Cover photo by Jessica Lehrman / Live shots by Andrea Calvetti

"Do you believe in us? I'm scared about everything," Aaron Maine asked a tightly packed crowd in the narrow floor of Chicago's Subterranean dive. As he crooned he brandished cut flowers from a bouquet the openers left onstage like a child picking up an aspergillum, while others adorned his mic stand. A dedicated audience sang and danced along to songs about the protagonist's "loner hour," as if to answer they believed in Porches quite a bit despite - or because of - the aloofness they often exude.

Maine's New York-based project ushered in an era of change on their latest full-length, Pool. The group dropped the period from their name and signed to Domino Records. The subsequent new material unveiled a sharper production and more deliberate, danceable sound. Maine's girlfriend, Greta Kline - better known as Frankie Cosmos - left the band to pursue her own work. Maine went blond.

Transverso called Maine a few days after the show to talk about the tour and ask a few questions about the music and dark muscle he's brought along.


TRANSVERSO: How are you?

AARON MAINE: I’m good. We’re in Burlington now. Finally got more than five hours of sleep last night, so I’m feeling pretty fresh, and it’s beautiful here, so I’m feeling good.

Sometimes on Twitter before a show I see you asking for someone to host you. Is that what you did last night?

Yeah. It’s kind of funny; usually we’ll just stay with a friend if we have one in the city or get a hotel, but for whatever reason we just kind of reached out a few times on Twitter. It was sweet, [last night] they set up their living room with all these beds and we got in at 3 AM - we drove after the show in Montreal – and it was just nice to kinda chill there and wake up here where we’re playing and not have to drive today.

Have you ever gotten into any crazy situations doing that?

No. It’s funny, this is the first tour we’ve really done this, and last night was the second time. Some guy who we had never met offered his apartment in Boulder and that was kinda funny, being like, “Hello, thank you for having us.” We didn’t even play a show that night, we were just driving that day, but both people have been super hospitable and accommodating so it’s been fine. We got lucky. You can kind of tell, I guess, by looking at someone’s Twitter a little bit what to expect.

So you work under the names of several different characters. Am I speaking with Aaron Maine, Ronald Paris, Ricky Pepsi, or Ronnie Mystery?

Um, I guess I would say Aaron. Yeah. [Laughs] Or all of them.

A lot of your lyrics seem to grapple with a struggle between escapism and connection. You either “don’t want to be here” or you want to “be a part of it all.” You either want to be up in “The Cosmos” or “Underwater.” What can you tell us about that?

Wow, yeah, you just kinda nailed it, I guess. I don’t know, it’s just sort of… I feel like that’s kind of a big part of life; reacting to your surroundings and how they kind of inform how you’re feeling. I guess I just write about whatever I’m feeling that day. Or if some line pops into my head. I kinda like the theme of escapism. It’s like a constant thing, there’s always some kind of interaction happening between where you are and what’s going on around you and if you’re happy where you are or if you’re not and its seems like kind of an endless well of content. I guess it’s easier than writing about more specific situations. I guess I kind of feel like it allows me to inject some more abstract poetry, or like paint like a more abstract mood. So, yeah it’s just kind how I’m feeling most of the time. [Laughs]

Despite identifying with these alternative settings either in “The Cosmos” or “Underwater,” porches are pretty normal, down to Earth places to rest contently. Until you quietly removed it this year you even had a period at the end of your name which seemed to ground things even more. What’s the symbolism of that?

I don’t know. I’m not in love with the band name, Porches, to be honest, and I can’t really even remember what the thought process was of naming the project that. We probably just liked how it sounds. I grew up in the suburbs and I guess it probably came from just enjoying hanging out on the porch, which seems really conflicting with the way stuff is sounding now. I guess the way I see it it’s just a name.

And the period just seemed unnecessary, I guess, so we just started to not include it. It wasn’t that big of a decision. But yeah, it just seems to make sense to stick with [Porches]. Also, sort of why I’ve come up with all these other names like Ricky Pepsi and Ronald Paris within Porches is to kind of differentiate, even if it’s just for my own sake, the different chapters of the band and the sound and stuff. So while keeping the name I can kind of create what kind of feels like a clean slate by mentioning some other names for myself.

Is it strange seeing people sing and dance along to you singing about escapist things like your “loner hour”?

No, I really love that. I kind of planned on the juxtaposition of that more melancholic content adjacent to upbeat dance-ish songs. I feel like I don’t have that much control about what I’m drawn to write about lyrically, but I do feel like I can kind of choose what way to present that, and I just wanted to, especially with Pool, put some sort of thing out that people could definitely dance to and have a positive time during the live show, or, you know, even listening to it on the speakers and headphones. So it’s cool, it’s exciting. I feel like for a while the live show wasn’t like that, and it kind of demanded this other sort of attention from the audience to get on this weirder, maybe not depressing, but kind of angsty emotional level. We played a lot over the past five years and it takes a little time for the older fans to adjust to the new tempo and overall vibe of how the band sounds now, and it’s really exciting to see people kind of catching on and realizing it’s cool to dance and it’s encouraged, and slowly seeing the new direction catch on with the audiences. It’s really exciting.

Is it for that reason you usually avoid putting past material in the setlist, save for “Headsgiving” and maybe one or two more from Slow Dance in the Cosmos? Is it a conscious decision to move on, or do you just want to preserve the experience of the new material more in its entirety?

Yeah, I guess it’s a little bit of both. I think naturally I’m most excited about the most recent music that I’ve made, so it seems natural to me to kind of play most of that stuff. For a while there was a little more half-and-half - newer stuff and older stuff - and it felt like it kinda worked. There’s a way to kind of work the setlist to where we would start off with the newer kind of subtler arrangements and kind of ramp up to the older kind of like distorted rock songs. We’ve just been kind of learning the new tracks from Pool and that’s what were focusing on now, it’s what the press is focusing on now, so it feels good to play that stuff. And I like to throw in some older songs for, I guess myself and for the audience too, like stuff from Slow Dance. We actually learned "Daddies" and this is like the first tour that we’ve ever played that song live, and that’s an even older song, so it’s kind of fun to be able to pluck songs from different chapters from Porches, but I like playing the new stuff a lot.

I’ve seen a couple of your shows this cycle and “Shape” seems to be the only track off of Pool that you don’t play. Is there a reason for that? Personally, it’s one of my favorites.

Yeah, it’s one of my favorites too, we just haven’t gotten around to arranging it. It’s kind of like a trickier one to pull off live ‘cause it is so sparse and relies so much on production in the studio, but yeah, that will happen eventually. I really do like that song a lot and I think it would be cool to play it live.

I read the Pool track “Glow” was an evolution of a demo from years ago, and on Slow Dance in the Cosmos you had a track called “After Glow.” What’s the connection there? Is the latter a sort of sequel?

No, they were actually written pretty far apart. Most of the stuff on Pool, like “Glow” and “Mood,” I wrote those all around the same time, which was a while ago. Maybe like two years or something, which is kind of crazy to think about. But yeah, I was conscious of calling it “After Glow,” and they’re not really related, but I think you could kind of make them related if you wanted to think about it that way. I like the idea of some sort of weird continuity or reoccurring theme between albums or within albums, so there’s that.

I noticed you haven’t been playing encores. Is that a regular thing?

I’ve always had a really hard time with the concept of encores and the fact that as a band you might come to expect it. You even write, like you decide what songs you’re gonna play for an encore, if there is one, and it just seems like a sort of goofy showy thing; leaving the stage and waiting for the audience to call for you to come back. So last tour in the Spring I always felt like so awkward after and never wanted to do it. So it’s not like we we’re not doing encores, but I’ve just been saying “This is where we would end the set and I hope that you guys want to hear the rest of the set, but if it’s cool with you we’ll just play like three more songs - it would be great to just stay up here and finish out the set.” That’s kind of been the best situation for us so far, to just stay up there and play a 15, 16-song set and eliminate that weird encore thing. It seems like a joke.

Do you think the encore will become obsolete then and start to go away?

I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like it. It just seems like textbook now. I imagine in the past it used to be you wouldn’t expect that, and if it did happen it would be a really special thing, and you would come back out. I just don’t like how calculated it’s become, and it seems kind of flashy to expect it. I mean, I’m down if people do it, that’s all cool, but it always made me feel a little strange. So I’m glad that we figured out a way to kind of ask if they mind if we play a few more songs. I did do one last night, for some reason they will usually put on a song right after the last song to signify that the set is in fact over, but there was no song, and people were really yelling for an encore. So I did go back out and play a solo song which was fun and that felt better ‘cause I hadn’t planned on it and I had kind of told everyone that this was the set. But they really did insist, so that felt right.

How has it been touring without Greta for the first time this record?

Probably what anyone would imagine; it’s difficult to be away from her for long periods of time. She’s been touring this year with her new album, and luckily we have the same booking agent and most off the tours have overlapped for the most part, so where it could really get tricky and we could be away for four months at a time, it’s been like, I don’t know, two-ish at the most. So yeah, it’s hard, but it’s good that she’s doing the same thing and we both understand how it works. It’s kind of difficult to communicate and I guess it makes it a little bit easier to not take it personally if it’s hard to get on the phone or something. At the same time I think it’s been nice ‘cause towards the end when we were playing in each other’s bands it just got so hectic. We’d practice together with those bands each week and then we’d tour together and live together and that was a lot. It was fun, but I think it’s also nice to be able to both feel like we’re out there doing our own thing and looking after ourselves, and learning how to look after yourself is an important part of being in a relationship too. So it’s not perfect, but it’s got its perks and it’s got its downsides.

Is there a story behind the basketball imagery on the cover of Pool and in the “Be Apart” music video?

Sadly there’s not. There’s not much of a story behind the basketball. We just did some press photos with a friend up in the town I grew up in at a friend's pool. I actually had all the artwork kind of planned out and in the template and ready to go, and then I was editing the photos and kind of stumbled across that little cropped image of my hand with the basketball, and it just kind of spoke to me. I just kind of liked the deflated ball. It’s kind of like [The Creation of Adam,] the painting on the ceiling the Sistine Chapel where the hands are kind of out pointed at each other. I thought it had that kind of, I don’t know… you don’t really know whether the ball is drifting away or drifting towards the hand. And so I guess after that I decided on that. It just kind of made sense to put that imagery in the “Be Apart” music video, and I always enjoyed the way basketballs look in strange contexts. Actually, now I’m remembering, I always loved drawing them as a kid. It was fun to draw, so that’s really it; it’s just surface aesthetically pleasing to me.

You painted the cover for Slow Dance in the Cosmos, right?

Yeah, I studied painting at college for three years and would still consider myself as somewhat of a visual artist. I don’t think you can kind of decide not to be that, but yeah, I’ve always made drawings and paintings and stuff and enjoyed doing that a lot. It’s cool to have one part of the music be the visuals and I can kind of express that side of my creativity through that vehicle.

You’ve also created almost an entire clothing line's worth of Dark Muscle merch and have a strong sense of fashion as well. Is this an extension of your visually artistic expression?

Yeah, definitely. I really like the merch aspect of stuff and I’ve been getting more interested in clothes recently, so yeah, it feels really kind of perfect to have a vessel to make stuff under and a platform to sell it on. I’ve never really liked band t-shirts or merch so much; I’ll appreciate it for the graphics but I’ll never really wear a straight up band t-shirt. So I like the idea of either trying to like erase [Porches] completely the from the merch, or either have it be very subtle, and kind make stuff that I would like to wear. I also think its kind of fun to feel like you’re maybe in on something, like you know you’re wearing a Porches shirt but other people might wonder, “What is Dark Muscle?" I guess it’s just more fun for me that way. I get to play around with the idea of what merch for band supposed to be.

People often frown upon wearing a band t-shirt to see that band perform, but you could wear a Dark Muscle shirt to a Porches show and it would be fine.

Yeah, I like that.

You’ve also named your LLC Dark Muscle and used the term to describe your genre as well. What’s the story behind the name?

Dark Muscle just came from, I can't remember if I read it somewhere or if I just thought of it, but it’s a line in “Braid,” “I’ve got a dark muscle too,” and it’s just referring to your heart. I guess I like the idea of just thinking of it as a muscle inside of you that’s obviously dark, just kind of just thought it sounded nice. [I] thought it was funny to have the LLC be called that, and it’s just kind of developed from there. I don’t know if it’s a slogan or a brand.


Pool is out now via Domino Records. You can buy it here.

Frankie Cosmos Embraces Her Youthful Past for a Thoughtful Future on 'Next Thing'

Music ReviewCamilla GraysonComment

“Everybody understands me / But I wish no one understood me,” coos Frankie Cosmos mastermind Greta Kline on Next Thing. Through the swift but profound 28 minute runtime of her newest album she intimately sings of her relationship with others, her age, and herself, opening up her inner thoughts to the world. Generally, with songwriting this personal, artists risk their own vulnerability and judgment from listeners, but with Next Thing Kline manages to ride the line between private song making and a greater summation of the coming-of-age experience. Her poetic lyrics, although subjective and intimate, still carry some universal effect, and her simplicity evokes powerful empathy from the listener.

After a staggering catalogue of over 40 albums and EPs released on Bandcamp, Frankie Cosmos was finally thrown into success after her highly praised first official album, Zentropy. Leading lady Kline has always been the brains behind the operation - with her boyfriend Aaron Maine of Porches on drums - as she uses a natural inclination towards empathy to achieve painstaking emotional rawness. This ability to tap into subtle emotions could come from being raised by two actors, Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline; her innocent introspection is ironic and humorous, but maintains a serious relatability. Inspired by poet Frank O'Hara, Kline uses everyday phrases that could be straight out of her diary to create minimal pop goodness, and her anti-folk writing that emphasizes lyricism over instrumental polish is original enough to conjure up nostalgia and emotion from the listener as her everyday experiences convey a pure honesty that, when attempted by other songwriters, can end up muddled.

Next Thing is aptly named; while 2014’s Zentropy focused more on playful, nostalgic musings of growing up, Next Thing has a heavier feel of more mature, intricate emotion that comes with shedding the “teen” at the end of your age. Kline is now 22 years old, and her new music shows it. Sure, this recent album still has the same pairing of upbeat, pleasing electric guitar and tinny percussion, but it takes on a whole new range of emotions that Kline might not have possessed at 19. Zentropy had ironically emphasized sadness from her cliched declaration that she was, “The kind of girl that buses splash with rain,” or the line, “I am so clumsy / I think how repulsive I am to you.” It was fun and light-hearted, but often over-exaggerated her self-deprecating nature, while Next Thing’s emotional sentiments are more varied. Tracks like “Self Doubt” and “Too Dark” are still laced with youthful insecurity, but the album’s overarching tone of sadness contributes an increased depth. This new form of melancholy plays with concepts that feel a lot more like 22; confusion about the future and its expectations that come with age, insecurity about being a fulfilling friend or lover, and realizing that sadness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Three years after Zentropy, Kline still has feelings, but those feelings are finally felt confidently as she moves on to the next thing: self-assurance.

With poeticism that evokes rich imagery and a voice that meanders along the anchoring crispness of her instrumentation, Kline manages to differentiate herself from the hoards of lo-fi indie-pop artists of today’s scene. In the sharp album opener, “Floated In,” she uses her liquid vocals to captivate the listener, emphasizing the question, “What are you doing?” coupling it with echoing keyboard synths that balance her low melodramatic voice to create an overall gauzy melody.

“Fool” has timed crescendos that frame Kline’s wooziness in between contrastingly precise snare drum. “I’m 20” holds contrasting staccato picked guitar with floating background "Oo"s. “What If” has driving bass that keeps it upbeat, while “Interlude” and the album closer “O Dreaded C Town” have synths reminiscent of other bedroom pop artist, Florist, who she nods to in “Embody,” as Frankie Cosmos’s instrumentation continues to compliment the simplicity of her message.

“On the Lips” details watching David Blaine, when really it’s a song about falling in love with the idea of someone, while “I'm 20” sings, “I’d sell my soul for a free pen / On it the name of your corporation,” summarizing the overwhelming temptation to just sell out. “Embody” then offers sweet shoutouts to friends (including Eskimeaux’s Gabby Smith and Florist’s Emily Sprague) that represent the sweetness of friendship in your 20s, the type of friendship where you can see the “grace and lightness” of others, but recognize the personal goal to grow into and recognize yourself independently. Because of this it sometimes feels as if the listener is eavesdropping on a piece Kline wrote for herself and her close friends rather than an audience. She is quoted in Pitchfork as saying, “I’m gonna make [Next Thing] the most me thing ever, and scare off anyone who isn’t gonna like that. It was an exercise in staying true to myself," and she followed through, creating what is essentially is an intimate letter to herself with private meaning and inside jokes. Although the songs clock in at under two minutes, they each take on a presence of their own, making quite an impact with so little words in such little time.

The personal touches make this album Kline’s original narrative, but that does not prevent the listener from applying their own experiences to her music. In fact, hearing such personal experiences offers an insight into the tumult of someone else’s life, which, in a way, helps to reconcile the tumult of your own. She beautifully articulates the discomfort and newfound independence that lies in the transition between teenagedom and adulthood. These personable experiences of personal development are present throughout the album, and these bittersweet coming-of-age realizations only exemplify the widespread connection Kline feels towards her outside world.

In relation to Kline’s large portfolio of released work, Next Thing has a more direct and thought out message about what it means to be a young person. Even the seemingly unfinished lyrics of “Outside with the Cuties” was a conscious, matured decision by Kline. Her emotions face towards the future, and although she wishes that nobody understood her, she creates music that is universally relatable.