The Friday Dispatch
Laura Misch, Bethany Cosentino, Snõõper and The Mint Chicks
Since the pandemic, saxophonist, producer and composer Laura Misch says that she’s been actively trying to be less tied to her laptop and be more out in the world. Wanting to move away from the homespun production style of her earlier work, she began to broaden her sphere of influence, seeking out other musicians, sound artists and theorists who had developed their own ways of interacting with the environments around them. “I began thinking more and more about sound in itself and not just what we enclose it in to create musical sound,” she explains, “and I’ve been going deeply down that line of inquiry over the past two years, feeling very much like a student.”
Along the way, Misch became invested in the experimental work of pioneers like Annea Lockwood and the late Pauline Oliveros, who did so much to establish the concept of ‘deep listening’ from the 1970s onwards. Reimagining the relationship between performer and audience to include the origin of every incidental sound it’s possible to experience, including our own thoughts, Oliveros believed that deep listening could “take us below the surface of our consciousness” and “[expand] the boundaries of perception.”
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Inspired, Misch says that she started thinking “in quite a philosophical way” about how to walk back the “big separation” between our screen-reliant lives and the world outside, constantly speaking to those who are willing to tune in. “I could go off on a huge tangent about people’s practices that I admire,” she says, grinning. “But if I’m talking about it in terms of the record [upcoming debut album Sample the Sky, due out in October], it’s more about how those approaches are woven into the production aspect, if that makes any sense. Like, if I pick apart the layering and the colours of the album, there’s such intention behind every sound that relates back to people’s ideas.”
I’ve got tattoo of Linda is right above “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” on my arm. I don't think there's a better voice that exists in the world than Linda Ronstadt. My favourite thing about her is that she didn't write her own songs, she just covered other people's material.
Maybe this is my own inner critic, but I'm very critical of myself if I don't play or write everything myself. I don't play or write everything myself all the time, and I've had to strip away these ideas that I'm not a musician if I don't do it all myself, or if it doesn't come directly from me.
Then I think about how Linda Ronstadt is literally my favourite artist and singer of all time. I worship at the altar of Linda Ronstadt, and I would never say she was any less of an artist because she covered other people's songs, because those songs belonged to her, she turned them into her own versions.
You listen to the Roy Orbison version of “Blue Bayou” – and it's fucking beautiful, because his voice is so gorgeous and so incredible – but then you listen to Linda's version and it feels even more like Linda's version than Roy's version, and it’s Roy’s song. It's the way her voice crescendos on this, but also in everything she does, it just builds, and then all of a sudden, she's singing in this full voice. I'm the person that will try to attempt this song to karaoke if I'm trying to show off. I can kind of get there, but on that big moment, I’m not fully there.
Have you watched her documentary? You have to watch it. It's called The Sound of My Voice and it's incredible. Her story is interesting and fascinating, and it's such a shame that Parkinson's has taken her voice from her and that she can no longer sing. It's a really moving story, I've watched it a million times. I've read her memoir a million times. I love Linda enough to put her name permanently on my body in a heart.
She was the queen of cool in that era, if you talk about impactful California songstresses, and Linda wasn't even from California, she's from Arizona, but she represented an entire scene of music. She was the Laurel Canyon Queen. She was the girl of The Troubadour, the IT girl of the Californian canyons. “Blue Bayou” is just insane. When I listen to it, I'm like, ‘How could anybody ever sing that beautifully and magically?’
A staple on Radio Disney, Ryan Beatty was initially marketed as the boy-next-door and a teen heartthrob – but this directly contradicted his identity and sense of self. Publicly coming out in 2016, weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting, it was in the same year he was legally allowed to release music again following the battle which followed the breakdown of his previous management and label deals. “At that point it felt more like bravery [than fear],” Beatty tells Best Fit, “and that did prepare me to make [my debut album] Boy In Jeans because at that point I was ready to celebrate myself. It almost felt like doing [music] as a career didn’t feel realistic, and it didn’t feel realistic to me until the past couple of years, but it feels like my DNA.”
In 2013 he visited London for the first time. “It’s a good place to wander,” Beatty says, having just made the short stroll from Holland Park and our photoshoot to lunch at The Ivy. “I don’t think I have a full grip of the city, but I’m starting to understand it a bit more,” he adds, “no street just runs straight for too long, so you’ll be walking and take a turn then everything looks completely different.”
With his latest album Calico the pendulum swings back to a more rudimentary place which despite its simplicity and comparative minimalism is no less impressive. “Prior to releasing this album I listened back to my first two and I’m just really proud of how singular each album is,” Beatty explains. “What I love is that I’ve given myself the space to explore every corner of myself and I want to continue to do that. I want to constantly be excited by the things I'm making. And that can mean it's inspired by a completely different genre. I never want to just be stuck on one thing.”
Something old, something new
Every week, one of Best Fit's writers or editors share their recommendations of two records they love - one from the past, one from the present. This week, Best Fit writer Elliot Burr on Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! by The Mint Chicks (2006) and Super Snõõper by Snõõper (2023).
After a rampage through albums celebrating ‘twenty years since the noughties’, it’s a decade that can now easily be considered Something Old. Weird. But on the plus side, those years were exceptional in bringing the creative kitchen sink to the masses, with the charts championing hip hop, French house, indie disco, and pretty much everything. On brand, New Zealand’s The Mint Chicks stood out amongst other great, noteworthy neon-clad dance punk proteges like Klaxons, MGMT and Dananananaykroyd, channelling frenzied instrumentation and The Ramones’ pop-styled punk through their self-dubbed genres ‘troublegum’ or ‘shitgaze’.
Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! helps out to understand what those tags could possibly mean. Having gained infamy for their usually terrifying live shows, brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson also managed to capture the time’s no holds barred thrills in a joint production with musician father Chris; the record features a hand-clapping singalong title track, fretboard workouts in “If My Arm Was a Mic Stand, Would You Hold My Hand?”, agonisingly fun chaos on “She’s Back On Crack” and a back-to-back masterclass of catchy garage rock in “Welcome to Nowhere”, “You’re Just As Confused As I Am” and “Walking Off A Cliff Again”. After their short-lived existence, Kody’s charismatic vocals and Michael Logie's bass would continue to shine in more subdued synthy pastures with Opossom, while Ruban’s Portland-based insomnia-induced project Unknown Mortal Orchestra continues to be one of the most cherished psychedelic acts. That whole Mint Chicks-related rabbit hole is worth following, and here’s where they perfected their craft, bursting with all the energy that defined rock’s last time in the sun.
Nashville’s Snõõper have made a name for themselves quicker than the speed of sound. Their somewhat self-titled debut album acts as a curated playlist of much-loved EP tracks and new creations, clocking in at a whiplash-inducing 22 minutes. Not one ounce of fat exists across 14 tracks of jagged riffs, toy drum sounds and staccato delivery from Blair Tramel, whose work as an early years educational teacher fuels the group’s attention-grabbing live shows, complete with playground chants and homemade polystyrene figurines.
Clad in sports gear, they poke fun at jocks and talk about microbes, microscopic animals and office equipment manufacturers to ripple me into a state of confusion, awe and happiness, as if they’re working with the precision of a medical surgeon. Drawing comparisons from fellow patrons of wackiness Devo or Primus, Connor Cummins’ guitar speeds along at Roadrunner pace, only slowing when they feel you should take a breath for what’s to come. How anyone can keep up is anyone’s guess. They’re fire-branding a whole new look for punky indie fare having already evolved into the blown-up superbeing that the album title suggests. Plus, with other contemporaries within ‘egg punk’ sprouting up fast, there are plenty of ways to get involved with equally quirky brilliance from acts like Alien Nosejob and Prison Affair.
We have three vinyl copies of Super Snõõper to give away - enter the competition here.
Dropping at midnight every Thursday, follow our 20-track playlist for a taste of the best new music from the most exciting breaking artists.
These are the songs our editors and writers have on repeat right now, taken from the hundreds of tracks released in the last seven days. Leading the selection this week are amazing cuts from Poolside, Lutalo, STRABE, re6ce and coverstar muva of Earth.