Does it smell like a school gymnasium in here? Info/tix
It's tempting to praise Mitski Miyawaki's most recent albums, Puberty 2 (2016) and Be The Cowboy (2018), for their brevity alone. Mitski tends to pack her ambitions into tracks that barely run longer than two minutes, creating powerful vignettes that thrive on specificity and humanism. Take the second track of each album: Puberty 2's "Dan The Dancer," with its punchy guitars and a melody that doesn't give a damn about your beauty standards, imagines a rich backstory for an inconsequential yet intimate moment with a lover. Be The Cowboy's pulsing "Why Didn't You Stop Me?" covers the crushing realization that comes when a soon-to-be ex calls your bluff. Her most acclaimed single, the soaring "Your Best American Girl," explores the insecurities of dating someone from a different background. Beginning with a single with a single strum, hushed and husky, the song crescendos into fuzzy distortion, simmering down between the choruses with masterful control.
Mistki has never seemed more comfortable or flexible than she does on Cowboy, seamlessly blending the mostly forgotten orchestral sounds of 2013's Retired From Sad, New Career In Business, and the rockiest influences from the subsequent year's Bury Me At Makeout Creek, moving from disco-tinged bangers like "Nobody" to delicate piano ballads such as "Two Slow Dancers." With this level of virtuosity, it's hard to imagine a scene we could be flung into that would not ring vital and familiar, begging to be further explored before were lurch into the next. —Caleb Oakley
Melina Duterte of opening band Jay Som invests just as much complexity into her own approach to pop songwriting and production, usually with more of a bright and pillowy touch. "O.K., Meet Me Underwater," recorded during the sessions for 2017's Everybody Works but released later on a 7-inch, takes just a few lines to sketch out an emotional gulf Duterte isn't sure how to cross—"I've been away, but I haven't changed / Can't say the same, you've gone your way / You think too much, your time is up / I'll be a friend, just tell me when"—and she wraps it all in an at once delicate and powerful mix of dream-pop and funk. Tender, at times playful, but never trivial, Duterte pulls together a wealth of melodic ideas on Everybody Works, from the shout-along vocals of "The Bus Song" to the slinking and stretching guitar hooks of "Baybee." Jay Som released the Adult Swim single "Simple" in February and is working on a new record, so here's hoping for some new stuff in the set here. —Scott Gordon