BRIGHTON: The Shondes’ Brand of Feminist Pop-Punk Has an Optimistic Edge

shondes

I love when I find a band that simultaneously rocks and makes me smile. Brooklyn’s The Shondes bring a unique outlook to their music—a feminist, Jewish punk band with catchy melodies, soaring violin, epic lyrics and earnest hopefulness. Their lead single, “Everything Good,” from their most recent album, Brighton, exemplifies this style. The lyrics are sweet and optimistic, supported by the romantic violin, but the energetic drums, fuzzy guitar, and lead singer Louisa Solomon’s powerful vocals give the song a punk edge.

The entire album is filled with incredibly tuneful melodies, a particular strength of the band’s songwriting, and the energy is overall a little 80s without the cheesy synths, reminiscent of Blondie, the Pretenders, and even anthem rock like Bruce Springsteen. Solomon’s voice in particular reminds me of Chrissie Hynde, with its ability to somehow be passionate and cool at the same time. And Elijah Oberman’s violin touches are always thoughtful and always strong—I especially love the pizzicato in “Wrong Kind,” a sing-along pop-punk anthem.

Other standouts on the album include “True North,” featuring a nod to their Jewish influences with the lyric “next year in Jerusalem” and an epic breakdown at the end; “Unstill Ones,” which is impossible not to sing along to between the background “oohs” and the “fuck that noise” refrain; and “Nightwatch,” perhaps their most adventurous offering. The guitar is gorgeous, the lyrics sweet and earnest, and the layering of ambient wails, violin, and sparse drums is tasteful and satisfyingly builds to the end. There is much to love about The Shondes and Brighton, from their inclusive and celebratory message to their catchy punk style—but ultimately, they simply make me happy and I like them. To me, that’s the joy of reviewing and discovering new music, and I’m thrilled to have found them.

SOUND: Catchy, energetic punk rock, with a little anthem rock thrown in; similar to Joan Jett, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Bangles, Bruce Springsteen

LISTEN TO: “Everything Good,” “Unstill Ones,” “Nightwatch”

Buy the album on Bandcamp

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Watch their video for “Everything Good:”

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SONGS NOT SILENCE: Bringing Female Musicians Together for a Cause

songsnotsilence

Last Wednesday I attended the last Songs Not Silence event of the year, a benefit series that has been going strong since April once a month at The 5 Spot. The series features all female or female-fronted acts and always centers on raising money for a cause. This month’s proceeds will go towards the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Oppostion, and all the artists, including the event’s founder Joanna Barbera, spoke very passionately about the need for our continued support for the Sioux tribe—even though they’ve had a recent victory, the fight is not over!

Barbera says the Song Not Silence series began as a way to bring awareness to the work of Thistle Farms and “real stories and experiences from the mouths of the women themselves.” For those who don’t know, Thistle Farms is an incredible organization that provides housing and employment for women recovering from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women produce a bath and body product line as well as artisan goods. “So each month, the ladies from Thistle Farms would set up a table and sell their products. About mid-evening, one would come up to the stage and tell their personal story, their history of drugs and sex trafficking and how Thistle Farms has changed their life.”

Last month was the first month Barbera branched out to other organizations, with November’s show featuring The Oasis Center, a local non-profit that provides programs for at-risk youth and shelter for homeless teens. She followed that expansion with this month’s Standing Rock benefit: “this month was special,” she says, “because I am very passionate about the happenings at Standing Rock.”

The all-female lineup was certainly formidable on Wednesday, with Lauren Farrah offering an intimate solo acoustic set as an “icebreaker.” Megan Palmer was a standout, as was her gorgeous song, “Stetson,” and the moving story that accompanied it—Palmer had breast cancer earlier this year, and the song centers on losing her hair and finding just the right Stetson to wear (and with it, her confidence and beauty). Becca Mancari’s full band set was lively and polished, and Joanna Barbera ended the night backed by two violinist/singers for some of the most inventive music of the evening.

I asked Barbera about the importance of having these female-centered benefits, and she responded that to her, it’s about women standing up for other women and supporting each other. “Society and mainstream media pits women against each other all too often. We compare and criticize ourselves and one another physically, mentally, socially, etc. I want to see more women working together—inspiring each other and building one another up. That was my intention: to bring us together and encourage each other to be our fullest, badass-est selves.”

Songs Not Silence returns to The 5 Spot in February—be sure to check it out, and we’ll see you there!

For more info on each of the featured musicians:

Lauren Farrah: Facebook

Megan Palmer: Facebook    Spotify

Becca Mancari: Facebook    Spotify

Joanna Barbera: Facebook    Spotify