There are a slew of ways to find “new” music these days, so it can be pretty difficult to hone in on artists and performers from your neck of the woods. We can probably blame algorithms, advertising or whatever else the streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are using to push bands upon us. But you shouldn’t be out of the loop when the new, cool and experimental music is released.
Luckily, independent radio journalist Lyndsay Knecht has teamed up with statewide newscaster Becky Fogel to present ‘Cut In.’ ‘Cut In’ is a weekly segment that will be featured during the daily radio news show, ‘Texas Standard.” This segment airs on Thursdays during the ‘Texas Standard Round Up,’ but since Knecht is in North Texas – and a KERA alum – we’ll also be posting her recommendations on Art&Seek.
On today’s edition of ‘Cut In,’ Knecht introduces us to musician Leanne Macomber.
Leanne Macomber toured the world as the original keyboard player for Neon Indian. But let’s forget about that world for a moment and enter the ones she’s made: three projects reactivated, announced again with a new song from her side project The Girdles.
The Musical Trajectory Of Leanne Macomber
Fight Bite, born in Denton, is the vehicle for Macomber’s tenderly bewitching, heart-seasick pop songs. She and collaborator Geoffrey Louis recorded ten of them without computers and released “Emerald Eyes” in 2008, the same year Beach House’s “Devotion” came out.
Macomber’s range as an artist was already becoming clear. Before Fight Bite, she’d performed in delightfully irreverent acts like Christian! Teenage Runaway (writer Chris Mosley spoke with Macomber about that time for D Magazine). You can watch her yell-sing like Niagra from Destroy All Monsters, then switch to a feathery soprano while punishing a snare drum onstage with glam new-grrrl bandmates Julie McKendrick and Sashenka Lopez on either side. The layered, slow focus and elegance of Fight Bite showed Macomber’s depth and talent as a singer. It was the first shape in what would be a kind of gorgeous evolutionary pattern in her music.
Five years later, Leanne was in New York. That’s when she created Ejecta, a character whose nature is to be born over and over. And, in all of her promotional materials, she wore the same thing – nothing. It was a decision, she explained to journalists, that was both a facet of the character, completely bare and exempt from the structures of time, and a statement made in defiance to anyone who would define a woman musician by her clothes.
The music is at once disembodied and warm-blooded. The songs were written and sung by Macomber and eventually finessed with the help of producer Joel Ford (Ford & Lopatin, Oneohtrix Point Never). Together they’re known as Young Ejecta. “Dominae” was their first record and it was put out by Driftless in 2013. (The titles are translated in Braille on the sleeve of the vinyl, making tangible the corporeal-yet-distanced tension of the songs, and the longing in them to communicate.) There are straightforward condemnations of lovers: the blistering synth-pop hit “Jeremiah (The Denier)” covers a dark swearing-off of the past in glitter.
This week Macomber took us into yet another world she made – the world of The Girdles, from whom we’ve heard just two songs which were featured on Stereogum. Here we get the artist without a collaborator, passing us some fleshed-out cutesy sketches like a note. The song released Monday is called “Hard” and it’s something Lesley Gore might’ve written if she’d had a synthesizer.
I wrote to Macomber asking if we were hearing a song she’d first intended for one of her core projects.
“I wrote “Hard” as a Girdles song,” she wrote back. “But many Girdles songs start out as either children’s music or as little visceral exercises that don’t quite fit in the other projects.”
The sense of agency in the track – coyly messing things up on purpose, oops – is served by the video of Macomber karaoke-ing her own song, and by the fact that she filmed herself doing that.
“The karaoke room I shot in is crawling distance from my apartment. I end up there a regrettable amount. My neighbor Liz manages it. She called me at 3 a.m. on Sunday and said I could use it until closing.”
Macomber’s wielded a camera to protect her visions before, and she says we can expect to see more video from her soon – as well as a release “of some kind” before the year’s end.