Can we say how grateful we are to have live music again?
Loamlands is a distorted country music outfit based in North Carolina that places queer storytelling at the forefront. Their music intimately grapples with identity, pronouns and experiencing a queer existence in both modern-day and historical southern culture.
LOAMLANDS IS A PROJECT BUILT OUT OF A LOVE OF SOUTHERN QUEER CULTURE AND A DESIRE TO LISTEN TO AND TELL STORIES OF QUEER COMMUNITY USING ASPECTS OF STORY TELLING FROM TRADITIONAL ENVELOPE PUSHERS THAT CAME BEFORE US. WE’RE OBSESSED WITH ELDERS AND DISTORTION. WE HOPE SOME OF THESE STORIES CONNECT WITH YOU AND PRESERVE / REFLECT OUR LIVED QUEER SOUTH.
Lez Dance, the sophomore full-length from country-folk band Loamlands is a genre-bending record exhibiting the narrative-heavy lyrics lead singer Kym Register is well-known for. Many tracks are intentionally bare bones, pushing raw vocals from Register to the fore font. With a multi-instrumental foundation featuring cello, trumpet, pedal steel, and more, the album’s tempos and song structures vary and are not prescribed to rhythm sections or click tracks. Feat. Theo Hilton and Robbie Cucchiaro of Nana Grizol and Nora Rogers of Solar Halos.
On June 30th, 2017, Don Giovanni Records released Youth Detention///(Nail My Feet Down to the South Side of Town), the third full-length album by Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires.
Call it Youth Detention for short. A double LP spanning 17 songs, it is the band’s most ambitious work to date — a sprawling and visceral record given to both deep introspection and high-volume spiritual uplift.
Where The Glory Fires’ previous LP Dereconstructed (2014) sought to dismantle one-dimensional notions of Southern identity and culture, Youth Detention has a similar, but more personal intent. “It’s about dismantling myself and the narratives that I’ve taken on,” explains Bains. “It’s an examination of youth and the processes through which we begin to consider ourselves, our identities, and what various communities we belong to or are in tension with.” Often, the songs detail moments in which cultural boundaries and biases become apparent — scenes in which systems of privilege and oppression become visible, particularly as they relate to race, class, and gender. Everyday settings — a church, a ballpark, a cafeteria — are revisited again and again, to explore these fleeting moments of revelation from different perspectives and roles. It’s a record defined by accumulation. Stories, images, and thoughts pile up to create confusion and cacophony in the narrative.
Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee at Battletapes with engineer Jeremy Ferguson and producer Tim Kerr, Youth Detention captures the band in raw form. Each song was cut live to tape, with the four performing in the same room without headphones or baffling. The result is thoroughly human, with Lynn Bridges’ mix retaining the band’s live energy and looseness at the expense of a few out of tune strings. The Glory Fires’ music draws deeply from punk, but also soul, power pop, country, and gospel. It’s equal parts careful curation and geographic inheritance. “It’s the sound of my place,” says Bains. “I want to know it. I want to argue with it. I don’t want to be a band from anywhere that could be doing anything. For me, that’s what punk is about — figuring out who I am and how to be the best version of myself. I can’t do that by pretending to be something I’m not.”
The songs are deeply rooted in Bains’ experience of his hometown, Birmingham, AL. Youth Detention depicts a Southern city in the decades surrounding the turn-of-the-millennium: in the throes of white flight, urban disinvestment, racial tension, class struggle, gentrification, gender policing, homophobia, xenophobia, religious fervor, deindustrialization, and economic upheaval.
The lyrics could ring true anywhere, though. The South exists in the world and, like the South, the world is increasingly beholden to many of these same tensions and forces. The songs on Youth Detention are meant as small acts of resistance to those systems. Documenting minor moments — the refusal to sit quietly through a display of bigotry, the act of quieting down and listening to somebody’s struggle, sticking up for friends targeted for their difference — that, hopefully, serve as the beginnings of a more profound awakening.