Indie Rock

Dotia's "Misery" makes good company for peripatetic seekers and dreamers

The artist known as Dotia (aka Jamie McVicker) is what you could call a peripatetic artist, “peripatetic” being a term you may wanna learn for your SATs if you happen to fall in the younger end of the Deli demographic. Which is to say Dotia’s done a good deal of traveling in the span of her twenty-and-not-so-many-something years much like the traveling minstrels of yore. 

To wit: the now Brooklyn-based-singer-songwriter-pianist-guitarist first moved to NYC from her native Naples, Florida in Fall of 2016 to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Drama Division, before leaving in December 2017 to pursue music, moving to Detroit and forming a band and playing local gigs, then moving on to Vermont to live in an old family home, recording four singles and her first EP with Andrew Koss, and then back to Florida to ride out the pandemic where she ended up writing and playing music with musician/audio engineer/newfound friend Ian Horrocks who’d traveled East from Atlanta to do seasonal farm work and ended up being her bandmate and record producer, and after nearly decamping to Copenhagen to join her friend Emme in the City of Spires, Jamie instead made her way back to NYC with another friend who was also returning to Gotham. Got it? Good!

 So it’s no wonder that Dotia’s songs have a restless unwilling-to-be-hemmed-in quality. Or that on her new EP, titled Misery (out today!), the cover image depicts a cluster of brightly-colored balloons straining skyward but thwarted by a heavy lead weight attached to their dangly bits which pretty much explains the source of the misery in question.

 Or, if you still can’t figure it out from the cover image and the aforementioned details, the first song on the EP (“Lilith”) should do the trick because it’s named after the first woman on Earth who soon got tired of Adam hogging the TV remote and declared the Garden of Eden to be a crashing bore thus hitting the road for bigger and better things which made her beau Adam none too pleased (ergo, Eve) and ditto The Great Patriarch in the Sky who shape-shifted Lilith into a demon and an Eve-trolling Garden Snake (typical patriarchal move: pitting one woman against another even when only two of them exist on the entire planet!) but still she continued to outmaneuver the The Most High, fully owning her newfound “demonic” identity as the very embodiment of the Divine Feminine and a moon-lovin’ phase-shifting fertility goddess who was eventually written out of the Bible of course.

Or as Dotia puts it herself, “Lilith in this song represents the rebellious feminine spirit and has no desire to be contained or overlooked” and from its opening strains you can feel the otherworld atmospherics wash over you that you’d expect from a deity-defying moon goddess who looks over all the world's “beatific consorts / creeping among living things” and who “chooses separation / over constraint any day” and hey I’m not trying to set the bar too impossibly high here but the song does make me think of “Sara”-era Stevie Nicks crossed with the modern day magical mystery psych folk of a group like Still Corners

Dotia · <Singles> May 202And I haven’t even mentioned yet how “Lilith” contains a couple of my favorite couplets of late: 1) “Do not tempt her / she’s got long legs and a short temper”; and 2) “Blind dragon viper of the night / drinking all the dregs of the wine (yeah we’re the dregs of the wine)” so clearly you don’t wanna mess with Lilith unless you really mean it, imbued as she is with the serpentine intensity of your traditional “film noir” siren like equal parts Lana Turner and Lana Del Rey.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet how “Lilith” contains a couple of my favorite couplets of late: 1) “Do not tempt her / she’s got long legs and a short temper”; and 2) “Blind dragon viper of the night / drinking all the dregs of the wine (yeah we’re the dregs of the wine)” so clearly you don’t wanna mess with Lilith unless you really mean it, imbued as she is with the serpentine intensity of your traditional film noir siren like equal parts Lana Turner and Lana Del Rey.

The next song on the EP is the title track “Misery” and basically it’s like the flip side to “Lilith” describing how a mortal woman deals with outside forces trying to hold her down (Dotia: “[it’s] a closure song written to reassure oneself that a previous lover was going to be nothing but miserable company and a black hole that takes everyone down with them”) and therefore it makes sense for its mystical vibes to be mixed with a more Sheryl Crow-ish kind of groove (“You laced my dreams with expired antihistamines”) building up a nice head of steam in the instrumental outro of the song. 

And hey before I forget lemme roll the not-quite-final-credits as provided by Dotia herself: the Misery EP was recorded in Naples and Atlanta with songs written and recorded by Jamie/Dotia and Ian Horrocks producing and contributing various instrumental parts. There’s also live drums played by Hunter Keslar and additional lead guitar by Darickson Gonzalez. The EP was mixed by Ezra Pounds and mastered by Danny Kalb.

And finally, spiritual assistance was provided by Shit Show Studios, a New York City multi-media creative collaborative co-founded by Jamie/Dotia and her friend Emme Kerj (see above, Copenhagen) under the guiding principle of “Come As You Are” designed to provide artists of various stripes the freedom to explore free of inhibitions: “By making room for spontaneity and open-mindedness…voices or subtle messages become legible; by allowing chaos and mess to come and go as they please, true beauty begins to stand out and oppose the non-important elements."

Which all segues nicely into the last two songs on Misery which allow for a more un-Lilith-like relinquishing of control. “Shy Fruit” is about a relationship “forbidden by present circumstances and hidden by an obstructed view,” a song of waiting in vain that floats wistfully by over its three-and-a-half-minute running time (“My shy fruit are you ripe yet?”) with “Exit 3” serving as a flip-side extension of the same theme, a “diary-like…angrier ending to the previous sweeter/softer song” that sees a potential paramour missing every exit to his destination, driving off into the night but never fully escaping. And how perfect is it for a record inspired by a peripatetic’s misery at being locked down—literally and metaphorically—to end on an endless highway to who knows where…? (Jason Lee)


Emblems "Virgo"

Emblems have released a new single called "Virgo". This is the first new music from the quartet of Matthew Stevens, Ian O'Brien, AJ Griffith, and Jared Cummans since their 2017 album Hide & Seek.

You can catch Emblems at The Burlington on May 27th with Static Palms, Nowhere Days, and Cloudforms.


On new single EDNA shows some love to the "Junkyard Dog" within us all

photo by Ada Chen

 Junkyard dogs get a bad rap. Sure, they’re prone to being mean and vicious with a spooky demonic stare just like those Rottweiler hellhounds in the Omen movies (graveyard dogs and junkyard dogs share a close bond!) but it’s very likely more often the case that the “junkyard dogs” in question are in reality more agitated and anxious than they are mean just for mean's sake, not to mention being afflicted with cataracts and living off whatever discarded scraps they can scrounge up whilst being deliberately mistreated by their owners as a means to turn them hostile and aggressive all the better to guard their master's junkyard. 

Which just goes to show how we’re all products of our environment. The Brooklyn-based four-piece Edna clearly understand the complexities at play as they’ve just released an emotive, empathetic song about a “Junkyard Dog” (Favorite Friend Records, click above to listen) and really its about time somebody did. Edna is led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Michael Tarnofsky who is noted for his “imagistic songwriting [which] drifts through crowded bars and city streets…highlight[ing] conversations between couples at the end of their ropes and strangers learning what they have in common” and who better to write a song about the "junkyard dog" that lives within us all, mangy but unmalicious, just trying to get by to the best of our abilities. Or as Mr. Tarnofsky puts it in the climatic chorus, “Yeah, I’m nervous / yeah, all the time” which only makes one feel sympathy for the poor mutt.

But it's not all down to lyrics because the shaggy dog story of Edna’s “Junkyard Dog” is just as ably conveyed though the sensitive musical strains of Nick LaFalce on bass and drums (recorded shortly before drummer Andrew Rahm joined up) with Justin Mayfield also on guitar. And you can just tell the song is going to hit you “right there” right from its opening moments with the boys in the band building an understated-yet-ornate citadel of sorrow constructed piece-by-piece from a mere electric piano drone, strummed acoustic chords, chiming guitar harmonics, woozy drums ‘n’ bass and an insistent bent-note guitar figure that’s less bark and more (emotional) bite that sounds for all the world like a dog’s mournful moan at the moon. 

And so when the lyrics enter declaring that “if God’s living in me / he’d better start paying rent” you already understand the mindset at play and anyway who wants the Almighty squatting in his or her head especially if He’s just gonna leave it all junked up with “Guitar World magazines and old cigarettes” and it’s no wonder when it comes to the song’s haunted subject “you can talk in your sleep, bark like a junkyard dog / tell a lie like Marvin Gaye sings a song” because let's be frank who wouldn't react this way under such difficult circumstances and check out that cool little fury-collapsing-in-on-itself-in-futile-form guitar line that literally depicts the “bark” in question which says it all really.

Final "fun fact" side note: The familiar image of the savage junkyard dog was in no small part popularized though Jim Croce’s 1973 #1 hit single “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” which depicts its title subject as an alpha male from the South Side of Chicago (“the baddest man in the whole damn town / badder than old King Kong / and meaner than a junkyard dog”) who nonetheless gets his comeuppance in the final stanza. And with no disrespected intended toward the deceased, or to another great songwriter to boot, we owe it to Edna for rehabilitating the image of the junkyard dog as more being akin to Old Yeller after getting bitten by a rabid wolf than to the devilish Cereberus standing guard at the gates of Hades. (Jason Lee)

N.B. Edna celebrates the release of "Junkyard Dog," the first in a series of singles to be released in the coming months, with a live show on Friday, May 13th (tickets HERE) alongside Atlas Engine, Matilde Heckler, and Kayla Silverman at The Broadway.


Indie Rock

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Oslo “Loma Prieta”

Oslo has released the first single, "Loma Prieta", from his forthcoming debut full-length album, Great Places, which is due out on May 20th via Christmas Records.

This is the work of multi-instrumentalist TJ Horansky, and the single is accompanied by the video below.