"For as long as I can remember, ever since I was a very little girl, I’ve had this feeling inside of me that I was bad. The things I wanted, the things I did, the way I looked and the things people did to me, it was all evidence of the fact that I was bad. “Am I a lemon?” Daddy Issues’ guitarist and vocalist Jenna Moynihan muses on “Lemon,” the third track from the Nashville band’s debut full-length album Deep Dream. “I’ve been sucking my thumb and I think I’m sour.” The way she sings the line, the tight desperation at the start of the question, how the first syllable of “sour” pulls smooth and long while the second goes blunt and low, it sounds so familiar to me, like my voice. Not my actual singing or speaking voice, but my voice. Over the course of the album, Moynihan calls herself lots of things: sour, stupid, unimportant, a bummer. She says she’s just a “motel” for some guy, says she doesn’t play guitar that well. On “I’m Not,” penned by drummer Emily Maxwell about her history of childhood sexual assault, Moynihan wails Maxwell’s lyrics about how she’s not great, how she’s no use and she feels dumb. And while you might think hearing raw self-effacement to that degree would be wearying, in fact it feels fucking amazing. Because what Daddy Issues does, in naming and saying all those feelings, is remove the shame. And losing the shame that comes with being a woman is one of the most significant ways to claim your power, which is exactly what each and every song on the fearless, clear-eyed, unapologetic Deep Dream does in one way or another. Exemplified by impossibly sharply observed single “In Your Head,” a kiss-off to an ex that describes in brutally accurate detail what he probably imagines her life is like now without him, Deep Dream is what it feels like to be the smartest person in the room and still not have the power to get the respect you deserve from the men you’re spending time with, because they’ve had a whole lifetime of being conditioned to get what they want and you’ve had a whole life of being expected to shrink and contort yourself to fit into their world. And Daddy Issues both lays out that reality in clear, unflinchingly honest detail and bashes it all to pieces with shrieking scuzzy guitar and howling, snarling dismissals of all the bullshit." -Paste
Punk foursome Nihilist Cheerleader’s first show was at AthFest 2014—on the festival’s KidsFest stage. Usually reserved for high-school bands who specialize in Weezer and Led Zeppelin covers, it’s surprising that a band that’s come to be known for its strong social message and hardcore antics got its start next to a bounce house. But everyone has to start somewhere, and Nihilist Cheerleader took the stage—under its original name, Bent—and performed “Bleach Boy,” a song that highlights the unjust actions of white, male authority figures. While she’s not sure the audience understood what was going on, bassist Leora Hinkle fondly remembers a group of small children asking for her autograph after the show. “It was kind of embarrassing, but hey, the little kids loved us,” she says. Nihilist Cheerleader started when singer and guitarist Flynne Collins and her friend Lewis Gutierrez got together as teenagers to make “shitty music.” “It was really bad,” says Collins. “But I loved it anyway. It was great having our own little shitty thing to hold onto.” Not long after that, they asked Hinkle to join the group. Guitarist Dylan Loftin rounded out the lineup. “I was very opposed at first,” says Hinkle. “There was nothing recorded yet—it was the very early stages [of] the band. I was nervous to join because I hadn’t played bass in about a year, because I was recovering from cancer. I hadn’t done any music stuff at all, really. Then I gave it a shot, and it worked out. We recorded our first EP in Lewis’ bedroom.” That EP, Parkour, was fun, if rough around the edges. While it was received well by early fans of the band, Hinkle and Collins don’t look upon it too fondly. “It’s very poorly recorded,” says Collins. “It’s intentionally a lo-fi record, but we weren’t very confident at the time. We were very much amateur musicians at that stage.” The band's follow-up, 2016's Truth or Dare EP, brought Nihilist Cheerleader a lot of the hype it has enjoyed over the past year, but the group didn’t exactly expect that response. “We recorded that EP in about four hours,” says Collins. “It was the first time we were paying to record, and we were all really broke, so we wanted to record it as fast as possible. We went into the studio to make something that was really personal. We never made it expecting anyone else to like it but us.” While the EP was released quietly in January 2016, over the course of the year it started attracting listeners. “The more people listened to it, we started to get some significant attention,” says Hinkle. “I think when we won the Flagpole [Athens] Music Award [for Upstart of the Year] is when people really started paying attention to us. People liking that EP was kind of a happy coincidence.” After Truth or Dare, the band went through some changes. Gutierrez left, making way for Charlie Gumby to join on drums. “We’ve grown a lot as musicians together since then,” says Hinkle. “We’ve kept that lo-fi sound, but we’ve developed our songwriting and instrumentals to a whole different level.” Now Nihilist Cheerleader is prepping its debut full-length album, Riot, Right?, set for release in the coming months. According to Collins, the process of making the record has been both more strenuous and rewarding than the fast-and-loose approach of previous projects. “We’re putting a lot more into the songwriting for this album, so it’s taking a lot longer than it used to,” she says. “The songs are a lot more complex. We’re putting more thought into not having every song sound the same. We’re a lot more perfectionist this time around, so we’re taking way longer to make sure songs are to our liking.” Hinkle elaborates on the album's sound. “There’s a lot more emotion on this album. Not just in the instrumentals, which are more intricate and thought out, but also in the vocals. Flynne is touching on a place where she hasn’t been before, sonically.” Hinkle and Collins describe the album's sound as a mix of pop-minded dance-punk with the occasional foray into the heavier sound of Nihilist Cheerleader’s previous material. The album is politically minded, with songs that tackle tough subjects like the death penalty, and an updated version of “Bleach Boy” that more accurately reflects the dangerous type of power we’ve seen take hold in the Trump era. One of the more difficult parts of the recording process, according to Hinkle, was capturing the band’s essence. “There are a lot of musicians who are incredible live, and it’s hard to capture their energy in recordings,” she says. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to [do]… I don’t think it will ever be the same—you have to see us live to fully understand us as a band—but we’re gonna try.” The group is known for its intense performances, and Collins and Hinkle promise things will only get crazier once they begin touring around Riot, Right? this summer. “We used to be really stiff on stage. Now we get a little wild,” says Collins. “I like performance art, and I like to conceptualize different stunts to do on stage. Lots of stuff, like drawing on each other with lipstick and spanking our guitar player. I plan to up the ante as much as possible as things move forward.” Collins and Hinkle say they cherish the time they’ve had together as a band, and are excited for where Nihilist Cheerleader will go once Riot, Right? is in people’s hands. “I wouldn’t be involved in music at all right now if it weren’t for this band,” says Hinkle. “Flynne pushing [me] to pick music back up at a point in my life that was very uncertain—it made a huge difference.” For Collins, the band has given her a necessary boost in determination and heart. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confident in myself or what I’ve been doing,” she says. “I’ve been honored to get so much support from people on this. Nihilist Cheerleader is definitely the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.” -Flagpole
Man Up, Yancey
"Over the past year, Man Up, Yancey has rode a wave of changes: More shared songwriting between singer Yancey Ballard with guitarist John Pierce and bassist Grahm Naylor, a rotation of drummers (currently Ryan York), ‘90s damaged heartbreak ditched for a queer cruxed post-punk style. Not to say queer narratives weren’t always present, however, Yancey Ballard’s journey beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy has altered the band’s path fairly dramatically. “I feel like this video is like a sweet kiss goodbye to my voice," Ballard says. "[It] made us have to write all new songs because my voice changed so quickly, changing the style I sing in because it is constantly getting lower. I’m not able to hold a note most of the time so I do more spoken word now. I feel like it's affected how I think and write as well but I don't even know how to articulate that.” “Oversensitive” is a portrait of post break-up anxiety, the most yearnful number on last year’s Blue Fuzz EP. The earlier “Opinion” video explored the dissonance of self-perception, both directed by Decatur native Cory Ferreira and assisted by Dorian McNall and Ari Fouriezos. Mica Levine’s performance in “Oversensitive” switches between femme rage and sultry complacency, Ferreira noting: "The psychotic break references two ideas of self, and that’s not to exclude the implication of another character, especially through the dual layout of the video.” Man Up, Yancey is one of a few bands upping queer visibility in Atlanta's local music community that for has long been cis-led, often male and often straight. With a fresh set of songs to be released later in the spring, the band’s newly developed sound contributes to a long history of Southeast jangle pop (cue Pylon and the 1980s Athens post-punk sound). As these older tracks are no longer performed, “Oversensitive” is a last documentation into the Atlanta band’s past, their fruitful beginnings now clearing way for future developments." -Creative Loafing Atlanta
"Lois Righteous grinds out fast-paced low-fi punk tracks thick with fuzzy guitar and a riot grrl ethos. This Atlanta trio rocks party anthems and love songs along with feminist calls-to-action. Raise your Highlife to the dismantling of the patriarchy."
"There is a laid-back ease to Femignome’s lo-fi punk that could easily be misconstrued as nod-and-wink slacker rock. The music is loose and — on the surface, at least — blissful in a manner that goes down easy. Tracks like the infectious opener “Teenage Monster” and “I Hate High School” are coated in caustic humor, taking swipes at societal norms while navigating the emotional land mines of youthful unease and despair with songwriting that is both clever and catchy. But, to put it simply, guitarist/vocalist Anna Jacobson is far too earnest to associate with a genre built on enshrouding irony and detachment in music that is breezy and relaxed. At times it feels like she can’t quite contain her enthusiasm and all that excess energy spills over into her vocals resulting in an assortment of yelps, squeals, and screams that puncture her hooks and lend the album an air of unpredictability. And it’s that tension — the one between Jacobson’s zealous entreaties and Femignome’s casual, swinging grooves — that makes Anxt so compelling. At their core, these are simple songs rooted in ’60s pop and early ’90s alt-punk that feel warmly familiar, and it only takes a few listens before the urge to sing along sets in. Currently, Femignome’s trajectory is pointing towards a steep incline and Anxt‘s infectious melodies and effortless cool will only accelerate the group’s ascent. There are only a handful of moments over the course of a year where you can hear and feel a band begin to separate themselves from the rest of the scene, and this is undoubtedly one of them. Anxt is snappy, smart, and exceedingly entertaining." -Immersive Atlanta