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.
I love love. Love shapes movements and inspires incredible music. I give love in all five love languages (true and tested, I assure you). I love bearing witness to the love all around us, and cherish the meaningful relationships bonded by the infinite compassion and steadfast accountability that we know and call love. Love transcends intimate partnerships, but for those adoring couples, I love y'all too (soooo happy for you, really). I am also a hopeless romantic (emphasis on hopeless); I've executed my fair share of wildly outrageous romantic gestures, and before those relationships crashed and burned, have been fortunate enough to receive a few too.
Considering this, one could easily assume that I love Valentine's Day. It is afterall, a day to celebrate love. Now I'm not one to yuck someone's yum: if you love Valentines Day, I want you to love it. And yes, as you have probably assumed, I am currently quite single. But my friends, I have a proven track record here: even in my past (generally toxic) relationships I never marked this holiday. The commercialization of complex emotions never quite sat well with me, nor does the exclusive nature of the day, and the heteronormative norms it historically perpetuates. I also prefer to express affection on my own terms, not that of our corporate overlords.
And so, with all my love, I bring you Bandifesto's (anti)Valentine's Day playlist. 💗
"Even in the Tremor" by Lady Lamb
Our queen is back, and she's all about love(ing herself). Three years since her last record, Maine-raised Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Aly Spaltro, better known by her stage name "Lady Lamb" released Even in the Tremor, her first single from her forthcoming album of the same name, due to be released April 5th on Ba Da Bing Records. Lady Lamb's 2016 Tender Warriors Club stands not only as a beautiful composition, but an incredible testament to resilience sprung from pain.
Mostly acoustic, this previous record represented a departure from Lady Lamb's well-known experimental sound. Even in the Tremor signals a shift back to the artist's roots, and it's brilliant. Dare I say, no one writes music like Lady Lamb. Her songs are cinematic; one long take featuring dramatic plot twists, complex characters, and superb attention to detail. Even in the Tremor opens with a deep pulsing rhythm as Lady Lamb's soulful vocals describe romantic escapades across the world, "We bathe in the blood moon in Berlin / Make out in cathedrals, Montreal to Madrid." Yet as so many love stories go, this one concludes with tragedy. The choruses provide context, as the present is haunted by both the past and future; “If ever I forget how much love there is/ It’s just I’ve become fixated on all of the love I’d miss."
"Siri, Open Tinder" by CHILDBIRTH
There is an all-women punk supergroup called CHILDBIRTH and they wrote a song about Tinder. Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt (guitar, vocals), Bree McKenna of Tacocat, (bass, vocals), and Stacy Peck of Pony Time (drums) combined forces to make more magical no-shits-given music. Staying true to theme, they only perform in hospital gowns. Their entire 2015 album Women's Rights is a work of art, using humor as a coping mechanism to address our seemingly hopeless state of affairs.
In a society that still shames and blames women regardless of the circumstance, Siri, Open Tinder is one of those tracks that makes us all feel heard. Shapiro's punk draw completely personifies the monotonous process of swiping through countless uninteresting men on dating apps, as McKenna interjects with the direction, "Trout guy (Swipe left!) / Tech bro (Swipe left!) / Dick pic (Swipe left!) / Chacos (Swipe left!)." This song is not only hilarious and accurate (Note the lyrics: "Group Shot (Which one are you??)") but it also affirms that women are indeed sexual beings, on Tinder, albeit mostly disappointed with the selection.
"You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit" by Tacocat
Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Tacocat has been making music since 2007. One part of the afore-mentioned supergroup CHILDBIRTH, Tacocat is Emily Nokes (vocals, tambourine), Eric Randall (guitar), Lelah Maupin (drums), and Bree McKenna (bass). Rather than executing the classic punk drone, Tacocat is pop punk in execution with high-energy ruckus compositions. You Can't Fire Me, I Quit is everything any Valentines Day-loather could ask for.
Launching with an undeniable riff that hooks you instantly, vocalist Nokes brings us into a conversation with someone who just broke up with her. Clearly, they are an asshat: "You're impossible / Always have been / When they ask you / What will you tell them?" Nokes repeats back the predictably infuriating response "I'm a mess / You're amazing." As it stands, this is a typical break up song with killer rhythm guitar. But the heartbroken reclaim their power in Tacocat's universe. Nokes pointedly sings "Baby, you should take me back / So I can tell you that... / Woah / You're not breaking up with me / I'm breaking up with you, actually!"
Now that my friends, is sweeter than any box of chocolates.
"In Love or Whatever" by Future Teens
"I could be alone forever / Or maybe fall in love or whatever" are unequivocal anti-Valentine's Day lyrics, and they're by Future Teens, a self-described “bummer-pop” quartet from Boston, Massachusetts. Their 2017 full-length Hard Feelings features ten tracks of romantic misadventure, miscommunication and mistakes. In Love or Whatever is so good because it's so complex.
At first listen, it may feel confident; adopting a nonchalant "I could care less" attitude towards relationships. But when you dig deeper, there's a creeping vulnerability, a broken heart and deep fears behind the strong facade: "It might help me to forget her / If I could fall in love or whatever / Don’t want to be alone forever / I should fall in love or whatever."
"Bright Cloud" by Nana Grizol
Bright Cloud ends our (anti)Valentines Day mixtape with optimism found in unlikely circumstances. Nana Grizol is one of the kindest bands out there. Founding member Theo Hilton came to music as a young queer person residing in a small town. Through music, the artist found both a sense of solace and community. Queer struggle, love, and resilience-- lived experiences often neglected and stigmatized, come to life through Hilton’s songwriting, as does a palpable kindness.
Nana Grizol manifests their mission with emphatic folk angst paired with a fierce brass section. Bright Cloud opens with vulnerability and unassuredness. The lyrics describe a newfound solitude, existential circumstances, and the longing for someone missing. Yet ultimately, Hilton reminds us to embrace the unknown: "There's comfort in change / Some things'll be different / Some things stay the same."
Don't you ever forget how dumb Valentine's Day is, and how special you are, every single day. From the bottom of my bitter heart, Happy (anti)Valentine's Day, fam.
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.