Written by Ida V. Eskamani
Bandifesto is a home for music that moves us. Music that shapes the most impactful moments in our lives and the most powerful movements in our communities. Keeping up with the infinite amount of frontier-forging, soul-stirring, movement-making music is certainly an overwhelming challenge. But beyond any challenge, we cherish the exchange of meaningful music. From our hearts to yours, here’s our mini-mixtape of music that’s moving us, presented by Ida V. Eskamani. We hope it moves you too.
“Suck The Blood From My Wound” by Ezra Furman
Here’s to revolutionary love. I only recently discovered Chicago-raised Ezra Furman’s decade-long discography. Why our souls took so long to cross paths only the universe knows, but I’m making up for lost time.
“We Should Fight” introduced me to Furman’s tenacious vocals, blaring horns, and folk-punk inclinations. With rapturous defiance, a crica-2008 Furman exclaims “I’m not a monster / I’m a human being, whoa / And I'm the greatest thing you've ever seen!” A queer artist who defines gender identity on his own terms, Furman embraces the full spectrum of gender expression and rejects traditional definitions of masculinity. One of my favorite Furman quotes revolves around his own unpacking of self, where he concludes “I guess I just do being a man different than some.” The artist is also devoutly Jewish, often donning a kippah and observing the Sabbath while touring. While constantly employing new sounds and themes, Furman draws inspiration from his lived experiences, with songs signaling solidarity with the downtrodden and demanding basic human dignity.
Furman’s 2018 release holds these core values through vivid storytelling. Transangelic Exodus is a concept album detailing the journey of supernatural queer lovers on the run from the law. The lovers are introduced in the opening track “Suck the Blood From My Wound.” To the sound of triumphant drum punches, we are introduced to “the Angel,” a migrant and recent hospital escapee. Lips bleeding and wings shedding feathers, the two are runaways, driving towards state lines in the most traditional of muscle cars (a red Camaro) with a love that rejects convention. “Let the law pronounce its' petty assertions / They've been outsmarted by a couple of urchins.” Furman executes vivid lyrics with a rebellious tone.
Thematically, the track marries new wave with celebration rock to create a joyfully defiant sound. The songs continues to narrate their journey, as the characters find resistance in their love and redefine their future. Furman exclaims “Angel, don't fight it / To them, you know we'll always be freaks.” They don’t know what the future holds, but in this moment, on the highway and off the grid, they are free. Transangelic Exodus is a vivid journey. Suck the Blood from My Wound is the beginning of this transgressive love story.
"Gaslight Anthem (The Song Not The Band)"
by Thin Lips
Here’s to our chosen families, and the records inspired by them. A punx band out of Philadelphia, Thin Lips are not new to collaboration. The band cherishes community and actively cultivates those relationships through their art. This may in part why the name of their upcoming record, due to release July 27th is titled Chosen Family. The album art features a collage of diverse and remarkably characters, inspired to epitomize the “gay Sgt. Peppers” (a tweet that made my week).
Their newest single, amazingly named “Gaslight Anthem (The Song Not The Band)” speaks to our demons while serving as an audible manifestation of chosen family. The track launches with a steady riff that erupts with a thunderous clash. Chrissy Tashjian’s voice enters the scene shortly thereafter, her earnest vocals immediately planting deep roots in your mind. I am a sucker for distinct vocalists; Tashijan always executes lyrics with an innate vulnerability and essential angst.
But Thin Lips latest offering features not only Tashijan; it welcomes guest vocals from some of the band’s most talented friends: Frances Quinlan of Hop Along, Brendan Lukens of Modern Baseball, and Zoe Reynolds of Kississippi. My friends, Thin Lips have brought us a goddamn punk supergroup. The band's Mikey Tashjian is deliberate on the drums, Kyle Pulley similarly spacious on the bass, perfectly accompanying these powerhouse harmonies. Standalone, the song is fantastic. It signals growth anchored in the band's core sound. But this song was made with collective love, and there's nothing more special. With this latest release, Thin Lips continue to build anticipation for their forthcoming record with a satisfying track that is meaningful as it is revealing. Chosen Family (the album, not your community) drops this Friday.
"Survival" by Adult Mom
Here’s to vulnerability, and the strength that inevitably comes with it. Adult Mom is the stage name of musician Stephanie Knipe, a young genderqueer artist who speaks to systematic struggles through their own lived experiences. Survival is the current track on repeat in my mind, off their 2015 album Momentary Lapse of Happily. Knipe describes this album as written “…after three consecutive breakups that forced me to become a being other than myself, and soon, I was myself again.” Of this particular track, the artists describes it as pertaining to “queerness, parents, abuse, surviving.”
This song opens directly to the point, as Knipe muses “I don’t know if my mom loves me anymore / She says that I am changing / I am not what she bargained for.” As Knipe so often does, these lyrics are simple yet forthright. Knipe is sincere in regards to their struggle, linking their own survival to their rebirth as a genderqueer person “I cure the pores of my skin / I leave no room for anything / I survive because I have died.” I’m in constant awe of Knipe’s ability to say so much with so little. They end the song with devastating honesty: “And maybe in a year, I will learn to love the fear / And maybe in a year, I will not feel like a bad queer.”
In interviews, Knipe shared their struggle with self acceptance, for “not being androgynous enough, for dating cis-men, not being out to their parents.” Though they knew they did not align with the gender binary, Knipe hesitated to come out as “queer” because they didn’t always fit into a perceived definition of what that means either. Knipe now embraces their queer identity, and songs like Survival remind us all of the discrimination that occurs at home as well within marginalized communities.
As a musical composition, Survival is captivating. The song bounces, with upbeat riffs that perfectly compliment Knipe’s ethereal vocals. The track features a distinct keyboard composition which adds a layer of somber affect to otherwise effervescent vibes. We feel at peace, but only by accepting an unavoidable sadness. By surrendering to what we cannot control, we're surviving.
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.