On Saturday, December 19, Bottom of the Hill will be bringing an abundance of talent to their stage for what is the most stacked lineup I’ve seen at the venue all year: Michigan sad-rockers Pity Sex, LA garage-pop star Colleen Green, and Brooklyn bedroom-to-band singer-songwriter Eskimeaux. Any of the three artists could conceivably be the headliner, and they all truly deserve to be. Read below for a brief introduction to each of the musicians before getting yourself a ticket to what is sure to be a fantastic show.
As playful, noncommittal, and somber as their name suggests, Pity Sex prove enduringly appealing despite their languid veneer. Vocalists Brennan Greaves and Britty Drake trade morose lines about their faltering confidence and colliding faults under gutter-drenched guitars so hazily recorded that it sounds as if the band lost interest in playing their songs before they even stepped into the studio. Although seemingly casual in their carelessness, you would be hard-pressed to find a band trying twice as hard succeeding in making music half as viciously impactful.
“Don’t come too close/Don’t try to know me/Cause there’s nothing to know,” is how Pity Sex introduces itself on their debut album Feast of Love. It’s the type of self-deprecation that detaches the speaker from the statement — so universal in it’s sentiment shared amongst anyone who has ever quietly doubted themselves. Over the course of the record’s ten tracks, Pity Sex dispel any sense of reservations they might have about how they feel, refusing to apologize for their clarity of voice. You’ll get drawn in, easing so effortlessly into the band’s ooze of anguish and angst, or you’ll resist and fight back — a conversation they so willingly invite when they shout: “I’ve got a loud mouth, so drown me out.”
“I’m sick of being immature, I want to be responsible,” Colleen Green proclaims to open her third album, this year’s insular I Want to Grow Up. The record can be initially off-putting, with Green coming across as the biggest bummer in the corner of a scuzzed-out house party, breaking the illusion of youthful indulgence with biting self-awareness in conversations all but just directed at herself. The lyrics are raw — vulnerable in their openness but assertive in their honesty. Each track digs deeper into her psyche, nervously scratching at her inability to keep a conversation, stop doing things that she knows are bad for her, and commit to a meaningful relationship.
I Want to Grow Up is a breakthrough for the introspective rocker, taking the immediately catchy fuzz of her previous record, 2013’s Sock it to Me, and raising the stakes considerably. Gone are the idealistic odes to her boyfriend, replaced here with austere fears as potent as “once you get to know me you won’t love me anymore.” The most distressing part of listening to Green bare her perturbed soul over the course of the album’s 37 minutes is how as a listener you realize her soul looks an awful lot like your own. Green is the reflection at 2am in the bathroom of another stranger’s home, as throbbing bass fights its way in through the walls and you see what you really look like when the blur of other bodies isn’t there to distract you. The illusion can seemingly keep you steady as you deliberately lose your own balance, but Green will still be in that corner of the room when you want to try and stand up straight before the night’s over.
Gabrielle Smith will gently wreck you. A member of the Brooklyn art collective The Epoch, Smith formed her principal project Eskimeaux in 2007 whilst simultaneously collaborating with contemporaries such as Told Slant and Frankie Cosmos. Her sophomore album, O.K., echoes the brilliantly homespun nature of the acclaimed latter songwriter, but injects it with a more direct emotional weight. Smith is a uniquely perceptive voice, delivering tender whispers with the detailed craftsmanship blacksmiths reserve for swords ordered by kings. She twists clear narrative webs out of poignant fragments of self-reflection, conveying them through a sonic palette equally rich in unconventional hues as it is in primarily colors. Smith hardly needs to raise her voice to devastate a room, but when she does let out her impassioned howl it can absolutely shatter a cognizant consciousness.
Each song on O.K. is lovingly constructed, collectively assembling an immaculate whole. Passages such as “Cause you’d run my back ‘til the skin smoothed out/Smoother than the glass that the sea spits out,” and “Everything I said, spewed like sparklers from my mouth/They looked pretty as they flew, but now they’re useless and burnt out,” read like works of classical poetry, but hit with a more vivid liveliness. Smith has permanently inked my mind with dozens of lyrics that absolutely floored me the first time I encountered them, and continue to wrestle within me as I further reconcile them with my own experiences. This is a record that when given a small plot to grow, graciously returns as an orchard.
Pity Sex, Colleen Green, Eskimeaux
Bottom of the Hill
December 19, 2015
$13 Advance/$15 Door, 9 PM