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Abbie From Mars proves she's really from Mars on "My Second Debut Album"

photo by Dari Malax

In light of the long history of Earthbound musicians who've claimed to be from outer space or possessed by aliens or made records role-playing as bisexual aliens and bisexual androids I wouldn't blame you for being skeptical about Abbie From Mars being from, you know, Mars, but I believe it. Abbie’s latest record My Second Debut Album has convinced me, and not only because she often sounds like a space alien trying to make “human” music with a “human” sounding voice and not always succeeding at it and thank goodness for that.

Because if you’re a Martian living on Earth and who hasn't subjugated the entire planet or blown it to smithereens yet then you’re probably here to do two things—to pass as human and to study humanity—so it makes sense the first track off My Second Debut Album, “Following Your Lead,” is about exactly these things (“you do the things I wanna do / so I made off with several tricks from you”) a song about aspiring to mimic Earthlings ("I'm watching all the ways that I act more like you / you said I get to to be an asshole someday too") as a means of participant-observation data collection.

Clues also abound in the music of “Following Your Lead” which opens with a synthesized five-note melodic motif (anyone ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind???) played over a syncopated beat and bass line to appeal to human ears and asses before dropping in some glitchy Martian riffs over the second verse with the ends result being a groovy interplanetary musical fusion.

The following track “Kittens Will Bite” shares some of Abbie From Mars’s research findings (“don’t touch the kittens / the kittens will bite”) and describes some of the difficulties in adapting to a carbon-based mammalian physical form (“I am trying to exhale but / you’re still touching me”) once again accompanied by glitchy electronics and butt-shaking rhythms with a nice fat funky guitar line provided Worst Sumo aka Andy Ciardella (more Martian collaborators!)

And speaking of butt-shaking rhythms, Abbie has developed a greater appreciation on this album for the art of the groove compared to her first album, Quick Universe Leap, which overall leaned more towards stuttering difficult-to-dance-to rhythms and sometimes no beats whatsoever (maybe that’s why the second debut is framed as a "do-over" that’s more avant-pop than pure sound art) but on the new one you get plenty of propulsive stripped-down grooves alongside the more experimental moments:

Abbie: “Oh oh oh. Oh boy. I love rhythms. I love percussion. Can you tell from this album that I’m a tap dancer? This song has a lot to do with breathing. I like to think the drums evoke a pounding heartbeat, or something. Rhythms and addictive. They’re easy to fall into, hard to leave.” 

And no I didn’t steal Ms. Mars’ field notes for the quote above but rather it came from her official Album Release Experience event held at the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church’s Stone Circle Theater and who else but a Martian would hold an avant-pop LP release party at a church tucked away in residential Queens although it’s true they’ve got some great programming at the theater like the Afrofuturist science fiction ensemble Organic Sounds of the Black Mind held over this past weekend which makes me think maybe the entire church is in reality a Martian temple (these Martians are everywhere!)

And here’s the other relevant thing to know is that the My Second Debut Album launch event was also an exercise in Martian data collection with attendees given a small booklet and a pen upon entering with the booklet containing not only track-by-track liner notes (very cool) but also research queries relating to each of the 12 tracks with blank spaces left to write in responses with queries including:

What’s the last dream you achieved—and thus lost?” “Please list a bunch of cool things you want to do over the next several weekends!! Weekends are extraordinary useful!” “There’s a thing you want; there’s something in the way. What do you do? How do you interact with that barrier?” “What’s the last sabotage you performed, and what did you do it for?” “What makes sex with you totally unique from sex with another person?” 

Head on over to the Deli’s IG page at @thedelimag for a full reproduction of the liner notes and audience queries if you're so inclined (hey, if they study us, we can study them!) but either way I'd say you can rest assured it’s mostly pretty benign stuff so we’re hopefully talking about more a gentle ET type vs. that nasty thing from The Thing so that’s good news for humanity at least (we could use some!) for however long Abbie's still hanging out on Earth and saving up to buy a new booster rocket during these tough inflationary times. 

And what’s more, we’re talking about a tap dancing Martian here and how many evil tap dancing aliens can you name? In the liner notes for “Tap Dance Interlude” (track 11) Abbie From Mars notes that “Ayn Rand (lol) wrote that tap dance ‘cannot express tragedy or pain or fear or guilt; all it can express is gaiety and every shade of emotion pertaining to the joy of living’” and indeed it’s a joy watching Abbie break out into a little soft-shoe during her live performances, deftly weaving her amplified dance moves into the rhythmic textures of the music, and you may be tempted to do the same.

And when you think about how any Martian planning to visit Earth must get to choose and/or design their own Earthling suit, could it be a coincidence that Abbie herself somewhat resembles 20th-century tap dancing legend Eleanor Powell who starred in a clutch of classic MGM musicals. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Martians in general consider Ms. Powell to be one of the more highly evolved exemplars of our entire species, especially compared with this devo-lutionary era, and plus tap dancing must hold a certain fascination for residents of Mars due to its gaseous surfaces and lack of music and Martians’ own lack of external limbs.

So here's hoping Abbie From Mars hangs out on this planet a while longer and writes, records, and produces a third debut album (btw this second debut album had a little mixing advisement courtesy of one Coff E. Nap, another obvious Martian pseudonym, but was otherwise entirely performed, produced, and mixed by our lead alien)...

...because not only does Abbie make some cool off-kilter songs, but she’s also a DJ who hosts a weekly three-hour radio show called Radioactivity at midnight every Saturday night on Jersey City’s WFMU—aka the “freeform station of the nation” aka the best radio station on Planet Earth—a show where Abbie not infrequently forgets to attempt to sound human which makes for interesting DJ segments, not to mention all the otherworldly music and other assorted hazy cosmic jive she sends out over the airwaves and into deep space no doubt for the benefit of her interplanetary brethren. (Jason Lee)


Flocks "find, fix, finish"

Flocks have released the latest single, "find, fix, finish", from their forthcoming album You Were Probably Younger Then.

For this single, the trio of Tom Buckley (drums/samples), Josh Jessen (synths/keys), and Stephen Patota (bass/guitar) are joined by Drummer Ben Sloan and vocalist Brianna Kelly to push their experimental jazz grooves even further.


Parlor Walls just hits different on Belly Up EP

photo by Michelle LoBianco

There’s a self-described “creative salad” take-out joint where I go to grab lunch sometimes when I'm working my day gig in midtown Manhattan (yes “The Deli” has a desk jockey job…so much for 24 hour rock ‘n’ roll hedonism!) and when I visited the other day and ordered my go-to order with spicy shredded chicken, warm grains, black beans, cotija cheese, avocado, scallions, tortilla chips, and marinated kale topped off with a drizzle of Mexican Goddess dressing I informed the “salad artisan” that while their menu is solid overall, this particular menu item is my fave and he sagely offered, “yeah, it just hits different” and I thought “wow, what an apt phrase for that certain je ne sais quoi that sets certain things apart in some difficult-to-articulate but undeniable manner whether it’s a salad or a sandwich or a song.” 

And so when I listen to the band Parlor Walls they remind me of this salad because their music just hits different in a way that’s hard to pin down—at once dread-inducing and ravishing—with pungent flavor notes like musically-marinated kale with cotija cheese and scallions as heard on their most recent EP Belly Up—an evocative title phrase that can mean either the act of sidling up to something appealing (“let’s belly up to the bar and enjoy a cold brewski”) or being in a state where one is hopelessly ruined or defeated (“my stock portfolio went belly up after the pork belly future market collapsed”) and it’s a paradoxical dynamic that's perfectly apt for the band.

Belly Up opens up with a tune called “In Knots” (shot off, limb for limb / just another day when / belly up, belly up / eyes are peeking, through your hands / it is in knots, it is in knots) that sounds like a sweater or a mental state or a lifetime of accumulated inhibitions just about to unravel but somehow remaining precariously intact for the durations of three minutes at least, a song that opens (and closes) with a few seconds of mellifluous vocal harmonies before launching into a buzzy sub-bass drone backed by tribal tom-toms and the sound of a smoke alarm with low batteries overlaid with thick gelatinous guitar chords smeared across the song’s surfaces.

So maybe you see what I mean by just hitting differently but if you don’t just keep listening. The next track “Work!” combines an undulating melody line with woozy, seasick textures and the titular exclamation to create an upside-down rewrite of “Whistle While You Work” updated for the neoliberal workplace while “The Lock” is chill-out music for paranoiacs and “Hour After Hour” is the perfect dance soundtrack for those same paranoiacs after ingesting a decent dose of electrolytes and vitamin C and who knows what else. Which are all just my own subjective song interpretations of course because Parlor Walls are likely to hit everyone a little differently you see… (Jason Lee)

For fans of: Guerilla Toss, Spirit of the Beehive, Portishead's Third

Parlor Walls are: Alyse Lamb: vox, guitar; Chris Mulligan: drums, samples; Andy Kinsey: bass, synth

Belly Up recorded at Marcata Studios & The Brick Theater; engineered and mixed by Kevin McMahon & Ernie Indradat

Upcoming live appearances: 6/23 Our Wicked Lady rooftop show
Live score for Nitehawk Cinema "First Nasty Women Feminist Shorts"



Band name: 
Elena Chimaera
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Venue name: 
The Windjammer
Band email: 

Marbin "Dirty Horse"

Avant Jazz group Marbin have released a new album called Dirty Horse.

This is the work of Dani Rabin (guitar), Danny Markovitch (saxophone), Jon Nadel (bass), and Everette Benton Jr. (drums).

Marbin will be touring for most of July and you can find all of the upcoming dates here.


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