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batsbatsbats ghostghostghost take us to church on new double-sided single

batsbatsbats ghostghostghost just released their newly birthed “From the Void” EP today and The DELI got the scoop straight from the batsbatsbats ghostghostghost's mouth on the new tracks—available on Bandcamp as we speak and streaming everywhere else soon—a perfect embodiment of BBBGGG's melding of otherworldly etherial soundscapes and earthy primal-scream-noise-rock-meets-doom-metal-sludge that also manages to capture the vibe of their phantasmagoric live shows which you’ll find some DELI exclusive lo-fi phone camera video footage of below…

…and best of all after the jump there’s an entertaining, informative interview with the entire band lineup (or more like “clergy") of Nicolette Johnson, Katie Ortiz, and Shannon Minor that’ll help you prep for BBBGGG’s official record release ceremony this Sunday night at Purgatory (Bushwick, BK) at which they’ll transform the halfway between Heaven & Hell space into the Church of the Void for the evening with ceremonial rites starting at 9pm sharp, preceded by a cocktail hour with other devotional acts spread across the night for all those with a cross to bear and/or a soul-baring confession to make so read on dear reader or skip ahead a few paragraphs if you're not so into …

the cinematic sub-genre known as “nunsploitation” which I’m guessing some of the sicker puppies amongst our regular readership know all about already (ok, most of you then!) that had its heyday back in the 1970s and hey let’s face it the Seventies were just cooler and kinkier and more intellectually fertile and more pervasively queer than any decade since—in broad pop cultural terms at least tho' the 2020s are looking pretty good so far—so we should all be thanking our lucky stars when a musical combo like batsbatsbats ghostghostghost comes along seeing how they tick off the boxes above as well in a 2023 kinda way…

…and oh yeah one of the members of BBBGGG wears a nun’s habit on stage (read more about it in the interview below! more an invocation of a “universal priestess figure” than a literal nun per se but I’m sticking with the conceit for now!) not to mention the band’s overall vibe is strongly reminiscent of the 1974 nunsploitation classic School of the Holy Beast 聖獣学園) written and directed by fêted Japanese auteur Norifumi Suzuki or at least it is in this writer’s mind, a fever dream of a movie that “allegorizes insularity, repressiveness, and patriarchy” but in a sexily phantasmagorically messed up way which is our first potential parallel but don’t worry you’re unlikely to be publicly lashed at a BBBGGG show where any bloodletting is purely of a socio-psychological therapeutic nature…

…a movie relating the timeless story of a very un-nun-like young woman who enjoys video arcades, hockey game, and one-night stands but who nonetheless checks herself in at the remote nunnery where her mother was murdered in order to find and take revenge on the perpetrators and in the process finds out the convent in question is rife with nun-on-nun debauchery (see the “nunilingus” scene above; WARNING: finger-lickin' libidinous monastics), blasphemous rites and sadistic cruelty (see the “flower flagellation” scene below; WARNING: nudity, bondage, bright red fake blood that still may make you wince)…

…but moving one step beyond the titillation and provocation at the core of any good exploitation flick (or record review-sploitation writeup such as this) Holy Beast is a feast for the senses full of painterly compositions and dynamic tracking shots and ravishing soft-focus cinematography (not to mention the lush atmospheric soundtrack) all of which makes the story feel less literal and more archetypal with critiques of Western-based religious hypocrisy and atomic warfare thrown in for good measure…

…all of which pretty much aligns with batsbatsbats ghostghostghost as witnessed in the opening invocation above performed at a recent live show at the Broadway where the band confronted their audience (not confrontationally!) with no barriers seemingly erected in between and where they set the tenor on the opening number where only Nicolette is playing a traditional musical instrument—a bass guitar cradled and caressed and danced with in tandem as if it's almost human...

....resplendent in religious garb and bondage gear (the band, not the bass, e.g., silk blindfold, choker, dog collar harness) and soon enough both Katie and Shannon have prostrated themselves on stage and then departing the stage entirely to venture into the audience over the course of a set that concludes with the Katie Ortiz lying flat on the floor in the middle of the room repeating an incantatory phrase, “when you love somebody you gotta watch them bleed," concluding with “I wanna feel f*cking anythingeveragain…” to rapturous applause and by this point I don't have to tell you it's a pretty damn intense experience even just baring witness...

…and while everything in this scenario points to heightened bodily presence at one and the same time BBBGGG inform their congregants “you are not your body” and then backed by pulsating industrial beats exhort them to “sacrifice your body” followed by the query, "don’t you hate my body, hate my body?”, with each phrase reiterated mantra-like and it's impressive how batsbatsbats ghostghostghost locate a charged liminal space between cinematic-style body horror and societal gender-based shaming and faith-based belief in transubstantiation with the latter brought to the fore as Shannon moves fluidly through the crowd during the set opener "Sacrificial Body" anointing every forehead in sight with ashen crosses...

…and hey if this the start of a new religion count me in and even if you’re doubtful why not get in on the ground floor of this thing while there's still potentially a chance to become one of the apostles or at least someone they regularly put on their guest list cuz their mashup of horror, sexual politics and religious fervor feels in line with the times and could strike a nerve in a mass cult kind of way (BBBGGG-Anon) and hey even if you’re only into them for the music and the spectacle they got some pretty fine hymns to learn and sing plus they're all about world-building clearly...

…with no true “lead” instruments or single front person to speak of which is bottom-up, little-d democratic (or maybe more like a Ponzi scheme?) cuz you know that when the bass guitar is often the lead part--even when the playing's as unique and inventive as Nicolette's, using a slide as both a percussive string-striking stick and as, well, a slide--then we're talking true equity and it’s kinda crazy that just a few years ago they were known as Meansiders and wrote songs in a more post-riot grrrl style calling out repellent creeps with satirical lyrical jabs and sick riffage so read on to learn more about their history and transformation into batsbatsbats ghostghostghost plus many other tidbits besides… (Jason Lee)


K = KATIE (guitar, vocals)
N = NICOLETTE (bass guitar)
S = SHANNON (drums, vocals)
D = DELI (querying, bloviating)

D: Let’s get the obvious question out of the way. Which would each of you rather be in real life—a bat or a ghost and why?

S: That’s t ough. I can’t pick one. Bats are so cute. Ghosts are so cool.

N: Ghost. If you think about all the benefits of being a bat—you can fly, scare people—ghosts can do all that sh*t too. But they can also walk through walls. Materialize and re-materialize.

S: Plus you live forever.

N: If ghosts exist, wouldn’t everything lives forever?

K: The one thing bats do that ghosts don’t do is that bats eat mosquitos. They’re awesome. They’re good for the environment. I’d be the ghost of a bat.

N: I love how silly and irrelevant our band name is. It’s a good contrast to the more serious side of what we do.

K: With our name…you either get it you don’t. [pregnant pause]

D: What led from the transition from Meansiders to batsbatsbatsghostghostghost?

K: We’ve been playing music together now for a long time, since 2015. It’s been awesome to grow as musician together. That being said, who we are as people, so much has changed since we started playing music together—what feels meaningful, what resonates. We kind of naturally and weirdly started going in this direction.

We’d were moving in this directly already then when Shannon was injured for a while and couldn’t play drums, Nicolette and me started writing a bunch of stuff together. It was cool as an experiment, but when it was the three of us and we kept going with it, it was clearly something really special, powerful. Having to write by ourselves, the two of us, made us reexamine our approach.

N: A lot of the new music was born out of necessity. We had a show scheduled. Instead of dropping it, Katie andI decided to rework some of our set and to write new stuff, to preform with a drum track and see if it worked. Those were the seeds. Once Shannon got back in she added in her perspective.

S: I was stoked about the new direction. I love playing heavy and loud.

D: Nicky, you have an unconventional bass playing style that’s really crucial to the Bats/Ghosts sound. How’d you arrive at it?

N: Technically it’s a slide that I play with like a pick. Instead of using it in my fret hand, like you normally would with a slide, I use it as a pick. But I get more attack than you’d get with a pick, while also using it as a slide sometimes.

D: What was the recording process like?

S: We worked with Jesse French [Tetchy, King of Nowhere] who’s incredibly talented. We’d been toying with different ways of recording this record for a while, had a loss of starts and stops. Once we got in a space with Jesse it came together much more easily, and quickly, than we had planned.

K: We’d been playing these songs for a long time which helped a lot.

S: The performance aspect strongly informed the recording too. We wanted to channel, to translate, the energy of our lives shows into the record.

D: Speaking of live performance, what inspired the more theatrical/performative turn you took in BBBGGG versus Meansiders.

S: The new confiruation was a great chance for me to get out from behind the drum set and to be a little more interactive. And to bring the audience more directly into the show. Pushing out of my comfort zone is a good thing.

N: And who doesn’t love a hot nun?

D: You can say that again.

N: At the outset we had a meeting and picked characters for ourself. All of the lore is building off from this archetypical characters we picked for ourselves. Shannon is the priestess, the religious guide. This went on to Inform a lot of what we do with the performances on the whole. Shannon wrote the opening prayer that we start our shows with.

S: With the newer setup, there’s not a load instrument. It’s cool how we get to all interact together, to lead together. It’s intentional for there to be no front person. It comes from playing together for so long.

K: It’s central to our lore. We’re a pantheon of ancient gods, divine sisters.

N: There’s a lot of religious influence. Visually, there’s some Judeo-Christian influence there. But we make sure it’s not anything too specific. Instead of just riffing on religion or doing it as a parody—making fun of religion or being “Satanic”—we wanted to create something new of our own.

The central concept is that we’re worshiping what came before everything, before there was anything. The actual Void when there was nothing— before time and before the Big Bang, the space that existed before the universe came into reality. It’s a bit of a lofty concept. [laughs]

D: Horror seems like it might be another influence. If that’s true is there anything specific—films, novels, whatever else—that may have informed your approach?

N: Ahhh I went to film school, total film nerd, which in a lot of ways informs what not to do instead of what to do. I’m really into doing new, interesting things that no one has seen before. A lot of the inspiration for the stage show is just us taking what you’d expect at a regular show in Brooklyn and trying to turn the performance on its head, make it more interactive, more artistic. To do something different than what you’ve seen done before, what you always see, informed by all the horror-related stuff I’ve grown up watching and following.

K: We all share a love for horror, and doom, and creepiness. Each of us has a bit of a morbid streak.

N: In this day and age, how you can not.

D: Katie, I was wondering about the lyrics to “Sludge Screams” which feel like they’re aligned with horror or maybe just anxiety. Is there anything you have to say about who you’re addressing in the song, or any more general inspiration behind the song?

K: It’s cool well it fit with the story and Lore that Nicolette had been developing, even thought I didn’t know about it when I was first writing the lyrics. But it became relevant after. It’s most just this sense of being lost in something. Lost in the void of something. Feeling very small and letting that feeling wash over you. And those moments of vulnerability in the song, they get transformed into a force of their own at the end.

D: Thanks y’all! Is there anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to speak on.

K: We’re doing our big release show on Sunday! It’s going to be more of an immersive theater piece than a traditional show. We’re holding a church service for the Church of the Void. It’s going to be unlike anything any of us have ever done either together or individually. And there’s a pre-service cocktail hour.

Now there’s a good incentive to come to church…




Alt Rock

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Mama Tried
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Alt Rock

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Hart Bar NYC

Night Spins spin their silver medals into gold on new Woohoo EP

I hope that Night Spins doesn’t take offense at my opening gambit here cuz they seem like swell guys and also it’s totally meant as a compliment as you'll soon see but nonetheless it bears pointing out that in the past year the band has come in second place in two, count ‘em two, music competitions…

…the first being a web series called No Cover produced by Hit Parader magazine at The Troubadour in West Hollywood that’s essentially a Pop Idol type show except featuring full on bands playing original music, and the second being Our Wicked Lady’s second annual Winter Madness competition held at the aforementioned Bushwick indie music mecca with a pre-selected “Sweet 16” of local bands going head to head in front of live audiences over the course of several weekends…

…and hey without a doubt placing second in either competition is extremely impressive--not to mention placing second in both of them--seeing as the Winter Madness drew over a hundred applicants and who knows how many bands tried out for No Cover not to mention celebrity judge Alice F*cking Cooper telling Night Spins lead singer/rhythm guitarist Josh Brocki that “you’re a rock star, man…it borders on funny and at the same time I’m believing all of it” after they performed their breakout hit “Knockin’” in the first round but what impresses me even more is who Night Spins ultimately lost to...

 …which in the case of Winter Madness was gonzo skronk-rockers Pons who are the only power trio we know of with two drummers whose overall sound and stage presence is something like Cannibal Corpse after having ingested the members of Sonic Youth (both Kim and Thurston must be pretty gamey) and contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease as a result to the point where I'd bet the avant-noise band would freak out Alice Cooper if they ever appeared on his show and nevermind Gavin Rossdale who would surely be found cowering under the judges’ table…

…whereas on the flip side the winners of the No Cover competition, The Native Howl, would be equally unlikely to emerge victorious at OWL Winter Madness tho' less due to their bluegrass meets thrash conceit (“thrashgrass" is pretty cool if you ask me) but more due to their (with all due respect) banjo-driven Mumford & Sons-meets-Dave-Matthews-on-speed vibes that wouldn't fly in that setting not to mention the growled Eddie Vedderisms of their vocalist that is if Eddie were auditioning for a nü metal band…

…and once again I must offer my apologize to Night Spins, this time for dwelling on other bands in what’s supposed to be their record review, but at least we’re finally reached the salient point which is that THERE IS NO OTHER BAND IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE THAT COULD POSSIBLY PLACE SECOND IN BOTH OF THESE COMPETITIONS EXCEPT FOR NIGHT SPINS or so I would contend and look, seriously, we’re talking about a Venn diagram overlap of one because what other band could possibly appeal to the almost diametrically opposed musical aesthetics of these two contests which if nothing else speaks to Night Spins' black swan uniqueness…

…in delivering feel good party-rockin’ vibes overlain with new wave angularity (not to mention the angularity of Josh’s hair) and/or blusey hard driving Southern rock swagger and/or Tom-Waits-meets-Iggy-Pop-fronting-Modest-Mouse street-preacher abandon (seriously, see them live) while at times veering into somewhat more menacing territory like on the aforementioned “Knockin’” which should’ve won the 2018 “Every Breath You Take” award for audience-pleasing songs about stalkerish behavior if such an award existed tho' to be fair it's more of a tongue-in-cheek, self-effacing song than Sting's slinky ode to watching every move you make and every cake you bake...

…serving as an extreme example of Night Spin’s overall predilection for potentially discomforting contradictions ("drench the house in gasoline / I promise I won't be mean") and multiplicity and moral ambiguity which let’s face it are deeply human qualities that must be acknowledged even if they make us uneasy, otherwise we’re all rigid walking pressure-cookers ready to blow at any moment, and along these lines this band of Brooklyn-based Southern transplants (hailing from North Carolina and Texas) has found a way to win over both East and West Coast audiences (and talent show judges) nevermind straddling the tricker divide between Northern vs. Southern which in light of today’s polarized cultural climate makes me think maybe the State Department should fund Night Spin’s next tour as a first step in healing this fractured, fractious nation

…but hey OK enough of my pontificatin’ cuz Nights Spins released a brand new record JUST TODAY called Woohoo, an EP of material recorded over the course of a weekend at a barn upstate, and I’m sure you all wanna hear more about their new music so let’s get right to it especially seeing as we solicited comments from Night Spins themselves--about whom it behooves us to tell you includes not only Josh (obviously) but also lead guitarist/co-vocalist Manquillan Minniefee who’s no slouch in the high energy/angular hair department himself, alongside a crack rhythm section made up of Andrew Jernigan (drums) and Jesse Starr (bass) both of whom do some vocalizing as well...


From the electronic press kit: This is the band's first self-produced group of recordings. With Jesse Starr(bass/vocals) at the helm, the band’s craft takes on new technical prowess as well. Having converted a barn in upstate NY into a recording studio, they were able to produce, record and mix the record that they envisioned. Mastering was then done by their old friend Joe Lambert...”Woohoo” celebrates our joys, triumphs, sorrows, and fears alike, all a part of our dance through life.

From personal correspondence: We really wanted to capture a moment that reflected us in a natural state of play; just the four of us performing in a room. No layered guitars or unnatural components, [an] un-pretty with a 5 o’clock-shadow kinda vibe. We found a big reverberant room in a barn, set up shop, and pressed record. The process of turning a barn into a recording studio over 2 days, spending the next two tracking everything we had been working on, and then spending a month mixing it, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in this journey.

On the EP’s three tracks:

WOOHOO - The song was formed in the first weeks of the pandemic when we retreated to a barn in upstate New York. Its theme rallies behind false pretense, “pretending it’s a holiday all through the storm, singing Woohoo!” which for us was justifiably the best way to appreciate our circumstances given that the world was devolving around us. It is a celebration of the shit show that is life.

The Deli says: Get ready for earworm city as the song opens with a “woo-hooing” battle cry that recurs throughout and if you’re gonna “spend [your] time playing make believe” one can only hope it’s in a make believe as happy as this one sounds even if there’s an underlying note of melancholy hidden underneath. Still, it’s the most joyous song to come out of COVID-19 that we know of.

CEREAL - touches on the frustrations of failure and deals with them through tongue-in-cheek creative dark fantasies that are fortunately never actualized.

The Deli says: A nice vibey mid-tempo rocker sung by lead guitarist Manquillan Minniefee that opens with the lines, “I got a left foot / I got a right foot / I got a hacksaw / to punish you real good” (now we’re talkin!) thus inverting the happy wish-fulfillment land of “Woohoo” into murderous fantasies that’s never come to fruition seeing as our protagonist is “just an insincere cereal [serial] killer” which ends up sounding like a personal failing and if you don’t pay attention to the lyrics and but only to the throbbing guitar and tension-filled, lusty tone of voice this sounds like a song of seduction (“we’re gonna go at in all night / in the back of the toolshed”) which I guess is the whole point.

BIG BLACK BOOK - having compounded fears and anxiety eventually reaches a breaking point, and that’s a good thing. Destructive release, but release nonetheless. The embrace of your dark side is an embrace of a part of you, and connecting with yourself leads to a deeper understanding and ultimate acceptance.

The Deli says: I remember this one from OWL’s Winter Madness and it was a standout even upon first hearing—a ranging beast of tension and release  (dig those heavy AF triplet guitar chords) where “sleepless nights full of bad habits” eventually turn one’s mind inside-out (like the seduction of “Cereal” fulfilled) and here you really feel the mental wavelength created by the pandemics's extended bouts of isolation and inward focus, alternately enticing and terrifying, where “all my dark wisdom’s seeping in” thanks to “open[ing] up the big black book” and finding your “own white rabbit” and while the latter image may suggest chemical adventures there’s something even more primal and elemental about this song imho as driven home by Josh’s frenzied vocalizing…

In conclusion: 
…and overall however brief in duration it’s quite a journey from the joyous escapism of “Woohoo” to the so-good-they're-bad habits of "Big Black Book" and one thing I like about this EP is it doesn't sound like was written by self-regarding “winners” but instead by underdogs and strivers and second-place finishers so there you have it and if the journey’s too short for you I’m sure Night Spins wouldn't mind me telling you there’s a physical edition of Woohoo available on CD (see the band’s Bandcamp natch) including not only the 3 new tracks but also the standalone singles released since their 2018 debut LP which means if you get both CDs then presto you own every Night Spins song ever released plus two exclusive live performances from Rockwood Music Hall in 2022 so go buy all the things and then say to yourself “winner winner chicken dinner”. (Jason Lee)


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