Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Yellow K
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop
Halfway through Little Big League's "Year of the Sunhouse," some dope asks Michelle Zauner whether she's still "playing basement shows with the band—doing the music thing?" She roars back, "Well yes I fuckin' a-a-am!" Her pride was justified. The underrated Philadelphia four-piece were among the best of their kind, playing knotty, effervescent indie rock that confronted darker themes like sexual violence and infidelity. Shortly before that single's release in late 2014, Zauner's mother was diagnosed with cancer.
Pure indie pop, like regular pop, is hard to pull off. It has to target interesting topics, it has to win your heart after those initial listens, and it has to get you to sing along months later, a point at which most pop listeners turn the dial for something new. Most importantly, reputable pop must phrase its contents in a way that’s entirely original.
What originally began as a side project from her punk band Little Big League has become a powerful creative force in its own right for Michelle Zauner. Psychopomp , the first full-length release from Zauner’s one-woman project, Japanese Breakfast, juggles spacy soundscapes with insistent, driving grooves. For the most part, the record pulls off this balancing act seemingly effortlessly and with style.
While not playing with her shoegaze band Little Big Leagues, Michelle Zauner did what a lot of musicians do during breaks. She made more music, spending time on songwriting exercises and bedroom experimentation. Released under the name Japanese Breakfast, the recordings showed a lot of promise, all of which is realized in full on her first widely released album, Psychopomp.
Welcome to the dark underbelly of the pretty unfair industry cycle that shoves Radiohead and Queen Bey and Views and that Apple Music independent contractor Chance the Rapper down our collective throats. You can’t really engage with music in 2016 without knowing about those records, but now that ….