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Video of the Moment #2432: Diet Cig

 
By on Monday, 28th August 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

New Paltz duo Diet Cig released their debut album back in the spring. ‘Swear I’m Good at This’, out now on Frenchkiss Records, was just another box ticked for the highly tipped band who appeared at back-to-back SXSWs. You can read Carrie’s thoughts on the record through here. They’re now gearing up for another release entirely unrelated to their debut. ‘Harvard’ is a track taken from a 2015 EP of theirs, and they’ll be releasing it next month via a limited edition Fried Egg 12″ vinyl single, scheduled for release on the 8th of September. To celebrate the release and work up some anticipation, they’ve filmed a music video to go along with the song, directed by Emily Dubin. If you’re interested in sourcing the EP ‘Over Easy’ (get it?), you can get it from Father/Daughter Records. To read more of our past coverage of Diet Cig here on TGTF, use this link.

 

Album Review: Diet Cig – Swear I’m Good at This

 
By on Monday, 8th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Diet Cig album coverFollowing a string of early singles and back-to-back appearances at SXSW 2016 and SXSW 2017, suburban New York duo Diet Cig released their highly-anticipated debut LP ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ earlier this month. I didn’t catch them in Austin this year, but the brilliant high-energy set I saw them perform at Hype Hotel back in 2016 and the real-life hype that surrounded the band afterward had set a high bar of expectation for the album.

‘Sixteen’ begins the ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ with a classic American coming-of-age tale of teenage sexual activity in the backseat of a car. Alex Luciano immediately imparts a level of irony to the proceedings in the opening verse: “When I was sixteen, I dated a boy with my own name / it was weird, in the back of his truck, moaning my name while trying to fuck”. It turns out that this kind of quirky twist is characteristic of Luciano’s writing, showing up intermittently and when you least expect it.

It’s quickly apparent here that lead singer Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman are a sympatico pairing, and the album’s production, handled by Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co., makes the most of their sparse guitar-and-percussion song arrangements by diffusing the sounds and adding layers of backing vocals. Recent single ‘Link in Bio’ is a prime example, with one of catchiest melodies on the album and Luciano’s sugary-sweet voice displaying a surprising bit of flexibility.

Unfortunately, that moment of flexibility is fleeting, and though Luciano’s vocals are (thankfully) unmarred by any of the weird affectations female singers often adopt, her tone becomes monotonous very quickly. It’s puncutated by crashes of guitar-and-drum noise between vocal lines, but in comparison to the light pop vocal style, the instrumentation starts to feel ham-fisted before the album is halfway through.

By the time I reached the alliterative sequence of ‘Barf Day’, ‘Bath Bomb’ and ‘Blob Zombie’, I had started to tune out a bit, but Luciano’s lyrics did manage to keep my attention. Released as an early single from the album, ‘Barf Day’ in particular creates another clever juxtaposition, this time between the theme of coming into adulthood and the song’s childish title and repeated lyrics about wanting to “have ice cream on my birthday”.

The album’s central lyrical concept is found in lead single ‘Tummy Ache’, (reviewed here) when Luciano sings her catchy tagline “my stomach hurts / ‘cos it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt”. The album’s press release cites a quote from Nylon magazine as praise for ‘Tummy Ache’: “Vocalist Alex Luciano brings a lighthearted innocence to (‘Tummy Ache’) singing criticisms of the patriarchy in the most charming way”. But in the context of the full album, after 11 tracks of incessant whinging, her “charming criticisms” come across more like passive-aggressive mumbling.

In my opinion, the skirt referenced in the ‘Tummy Ache’ lyrics isn’t as much the problem as the general sonic attitude. I’ve never heard a real punk sound as resignedly whiny as Luciano does throughout ‘Swear I’m Good at This’. Saving this track, and especially this lyric, for the end of the album makes an unexpected, and somewhat disappointing final statement. I expected a lot more vigour and vehemence in Luciano’s feminist rebellion, but that energy never really materialises in the recorded version of these songs, certainly not in the way that it did onstage at SXSW 2016. There’s a lot to like on the album, including some really sharp lyrics, but the fact that Luciano felt the need to make the title statement ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ leaves me doubting her conviction on the subject.

6.5/10

Diet Cig’s first LP ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is out now on Frenchkiss Records. You can read back on all our past coverage of Diet Cig right through this link.

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2340: Diet Cig

 
By on Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Following a repeat appearance at this year’s SXSW 2017, Diet Cig from New Paltz, New York, just released their debut album last week. The duo’s ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is now available from Frenchkiss Records. In celebration of the release of their debut to the wild, they’ve unveiled another promo video from the album, ‘Maid of the Mist’. (For those unaware is the name of a special boat tour of Niagara Falls; I know this because my brother went on it and brought me back a plastic tumbler with rocks on the bottom, supposedly taken from the falls.) The animated video fits the poppy nature of the song well, which is a nickname for a girl who cries when her boyfriend tries to kiss her and he doesn’t know why. Yeah, with a high-pitched girl’s voice singing this, this is pop. ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is available now. To read more about Diet Cig here on TGTF, follow this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5or7cLuz_PE[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2308: Diet Cig

 
By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 10:00 am
 

Diet Cig are no strangers to SXSW: they made a series of appearances last year in Austin, including DIY Presents showcase at Hype Hotel the opening night Tuesday during the 2016 event. Building off the hype and attention of last year, the New Paltz, New York duo are pleased to announce their debut album ‘Swear I’m Good at This’, which is scheduled to drop on the 7th of April on Frenchkiss Records. ‘Tummy Ache’, an early taster to the forthcoming LP reviewed by Carrie back here, now has an accompanying music video ahead of their return to Austin for SXSW 2017.

Unlike the promo we posted yesterday from fellow New Yorkers Hiccup for ‘Teasin” that showed the shenanigans of adults working in an office, Diet Cig’s video chronicles young girl musicians and the trials they face on the way to a gig. Sure, theirs are first world problems, but the video has a more important message, emblazoned on the pennants the girls lovingly crafted ahead of getting to the show. Watch the video for ‘Tummy Ache’ below. For more on Diet Cig on TGTF, follow this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePnrP7sIH_c[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Single Review: Diet Cig – Tummy Ache

 
By on Friday, 20th January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

New Paltz, New York alt-rock duo Diet Cig are set to make a second consecutive appearance at SXSW this year, where they will usher in their debut LP ‘Swear I’m Good at This’. The album’s twee-titled lead single ‘Tummy Ache’ was unveiled last week, and as soon as I heard it, I recognised it from SXSW 2016, where Diet Cig had included it on their setlist at the DIY Presents showcase at Hype Hotel.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano and her bandmate, drummer Noah Bowman gave a strong, energetic performance that night in Austin, and the recorded version of ‘Tummy Ache’ is true to their vivid live interpretation. Luciano’s whiny, overly-saccharine vocal delivery is almost enough to set my teeth on edge as she sings of “trying to find my voice / surrounded by all boys.” But she does present a very deliberate and ironic dichotomy in the musical context of the song’s bright, bold power chords and confidently emphatic rhythms. She comes across as shy and almost apologetic, despite the brash musical setting, in the lines “I don’t need a man to hold my hand / that’s just something you’ll never understand”. The song’s catchy final statement “my stomach hurts / ‘cos its hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” is reinforced by increasingly intense background vocal layering as Luciano acknowledges both the outward conflict of a female rock star and her own inner turmoil.

Luciano certainly isn’t the first female frontwoman to tackle feminist subject matter in her songwriting, but based on the enthusiastically positive reception Diet Cig received last year, hers will be one of the most prominent feminist voices among showcasing artists at SXSW 2017. Keep an eye on TGTF for further coverage of Diet Cig as part of our focus on feminism at this year’s festival.

8/10

[youtube]https://youtu.be/vbXE_MmsZvU[/youtube]

Diet Cig’s debut album ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is due for release on the 7th of April via Frenchkiss Records. They are currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017 this March, but as always, the showcasing artist lineup is subject to change. For news and updates on SXSW 2017, please consult the festival’s official schedule here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Diet Cig is collected right back here.

 

SXSW 2016: Tuesday night’s DIY Presents showcase at Hype Hotel – 15th March 2016

 
By on Friday, 25th March 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

The Tuesday night of SXSW 2016 found me queueing on East 5th Street (east of the interstate) for the DIY Magazine stage at Hype Hotel. The street outside the venue was packed with punters headed for either the highly anticipated Hype Hotel showcase or the equally popular Fader Fort event just across the street. I waited in line for over an hour before finally getting into Hype Hotel, just as hotly-tipped American duo Diet Cig struck their first guitar chord and drumroll.

Diet Cig internal

Descending on Austin from New York, Diet Cig were the subject of much chatter in the queue outside the venue, and once I saw them on stage, I realized why. Frontwoman Alex Luciano introduced her bandmate Noah Bowman with the witty one-liner “this is your mom’s new boyfriend,” setting a deliberately not-so-serious tone for the evening’s festivities. The bratty lyrics to Diet Cig’s early tracks ‘Sleep Talk’ and ‘Dinner Date’ struck a chord with everyone’s inner teenaged self, and Luciano’s punchline “it’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt”, seemed remarkably appropriate to her vivacious but wildly irreverent personality. The stage at Hype Hotel at first seemed too large for the pair’s single guitar and drum kit, but as it turned out, Luciano was quite a spirited guitarist, running and jumping around the stage (dare I say it? even ironically?) like a high school cheerleader.

Partybaby internal

Even fresher on the music scene than relative newcomers Diet Cig, Los Angeles band PARTYBABY proved themselves straightaway as an act to be reckoned with. Comprising veteran musicians Noah Gersh and Jamie Schefman, the band premiered their defiant first single ‘Everything’s All Right’ just last summer, and they quickly followed it up with the equally pugnacious ‘Your Old Man’. Gersh and Schefman already have a full album prepared for release, and they chugged through their setlist at a frenetic pace. Despite the obvious aggression in their music, PARTYBABY were clearly determined to party as hard as they rocked, and the Hype Hotel crowd on Tuesday night seemed fully in favour of that idea.

Hinds

After a brief DJ set by Bleached, Spanish band-of-the-moment Hinds swept breathlessly onto the stage, appearing to be dressed for a slumber party rather than a gig. Co-lead singer Carlotta Cosials mentioned that the band had only gotten to town half an hour before their set, so perhaps their attire could be excused on those grounds. However, a slumber party theme isn’t entirely inappropriate to Hinds’ lo-fi and free-wheeling style, and despite their somewhat disheveled appearance, Hinds sounded much more polished than when I heard them at the British Music Embassy last year.  The ladies certainly appeared to enjoy their all-too-brief moment on stage as they raced through a set comprising tracks from their recent debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’.

Pumarosa internal 2

London synth-rock band Pumarosa played an equally short but sweet set, after apparently sorting through some sound issues before they were able to begin. Their playlist included ‘Lion’s Den’, which saw frontwoman Isabel Munoz-Newsome bowing her guitar strings with a fuzzy mallet, and the dramatic breakthrough dance hit ‘Priestess’, which has quickly become a personal favourite track of mine.  It might well have set everyone in the room into motion, except that we were all completely mesmerised by Munoz-Newsome’s own interpretive movements on the stage.

Jack Garratt

Pumarosa were followed by another British act, electro singer/songwriter Jack Garratt, whose Mercury Prize-nominated, Brit Award winning reputation had evidently preceded him to Hype Hotel. Having gained a fair few followers at SXSW 2015, Garratt played a blinding set on the Tuesday night that was in sharp contrast to the more muted tone I had heard from him on last year’s Communion showcase. His enthusiastic reception has been well and truly earned over the course of a year, and I was most pleased to see him having this kind of success on American shores so quickly upon the release of his debut album ‘Phase’.

Empress Of

The headline act of the DIY Presents showcase was American synth-based artist Empress Of, who is better known off stage as Lorely Rodriguez. Much like the electronic sound of Jack Garratt before her, Empress Of’s quirky dance pop belies the emotional depth of her lyrics, creating songs that are at the same time cerebral and intuitively visceral. Her show on the Tuesday night drew largely from her 2015 debut LP ‘Me’, and apropos to the album’s shimmery synths and ethereal vocals, this late night (er, early morning) set was swathed in hazy blue stage lighting, which cast a markedly chill vibe over the night’s final stretch.

 
 
 

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