Tag Archives: Diet Cig

April 5, 2017 — “Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig

Diet Cig

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig (2017, from the forthcoming album Swear I’m Good at This).

Diet Cig is a pop-punk/indie-pop/cuddlepunk duo from New Paltz, New York. They are Alex Luciano (guitar/vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums), and they’re one of my most favourite special new bands. You may remember that I’ve raved about them before here, in 2015, and here again last year. I also had a lot to say about their scorching and exuberant set at Hopscotch 2016. It was, by far, my favourite set of the festival. Beach House was great. Beach Slang was awesome. Car Seat Headrest was a lot of fun. Wye Oak was brilliant. I saw Kid Millions about five times, and he was amazing. All of those and everything else paled in comparison to the Diet Cig set. They were the thing that I was most looking forward to at that festival, and they exceeded my expectations by miles.

A few months ago, I was delighted to see their debut album on the list of new releases for 2017. The album — Swear I’m Good at This— comes out on Friday via the magnificent Father/Daughter Records. That label, if you’re scoring along at home, is home to many of the bands that have made my year-end lists over the past couple of years. I know I didn’t actually publish a list for 2016, but there’s a few Father/Daughter albums this year that have already secured spots in my 2017 year-end list. This is one of them.

I’ve managed to get my ears on Swear I’m Good at This a couple of days early, and I absolutely love it. It’s got everything that I loved about the Over Easy EP, but it’s even better.

I’ve listened to most of the album already and I love all of it. But when I got to “Bath Bomb”, I couldn’t go any further. I had to keep playing the song again and again. And again. It’s got the quiet/loud/quiet/louder thing going on. It’s got all the bounciness and sheer joy that I’ve come to expect from Diet Cig. And it’s about lying in the bath for a long time until your fingers prune.

Because the album isn’t out yet, there isn’t a sharable audio of the song, but there’s a video of them playing live in some studio. It’s slightly cleaner and brighter than the DIY sound of the album’s version, but don’t hold that against it. It’s brilliant. This is that song:

“Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig

I love that it starts quietly with just a tiny bit of fuzz in Alex’s gently played guitar while Noah plays the kit with mallets. It builds to a low roar before getting quiet again. After she yells “I’m sorry”, the hammer drops and all sonic hell gloriously breaks loose. Noah switches to regular sticks and Alex goes into full “loud” mode. In the album version of the song, she yells “I’m sorry” off mic. It’s muffled, almost as if she’s in a different room. During the quieter bits of the album version, you can hear a little bit of buzz from some piece of equipment, which gives it a bit of a bedroom recording quality. Compare those things to the lush, bright quality of this version. As cool as this version is, I really prefer the rusticity of the album version.

The band is on tour of the US this spring, and you should absolutely see them if you have a chance.

You can pre-order Swear I’m Good at This on vinyl, CD, cassette or digital download via Bandcamp here.

How the Diet Cig show was nearly ruined by some knuckleheads

Yesterday was a long and exciting day at Hopscotch. You can read all about my Day Two adventures here. The takeaway is that I’ve seen Kid Millions three times this weekend, that Beach House sounded Great, that Beach Slang really impressed me, and that Diet Cig was my favourite thing of the festival so far. And it’s not even close.

As I’ve said, I really love the Diet Cig EP Over Easy, and I had already decided that I was going to see Diet Cig no matter what else happened. I had very high expectations, and they were actually exceeded.

Alex was bouncing all over the stage. She seemed to be bouncing higher than she is tall, and with an unbelievable amount of energy. I haven’t seen that kind of bouncing since the 1990s. She was clearly having a good time, and the audience was certainly feeding off of her enthusiasm. This means that the crowd was bouncy. And then a bit moshy. Yes. Another mosh pit broke out.

There was a lot of banter. At one point, she said that they were loving it here, and that she had eaten some shrimp and grits that changed her life. Later, she thanked the crowd for being so enthusiastic. She said something like “You guys are great because you know that moshing is cool as long as it’s safe”.

As their set progressed, and as Alex continued to bounce all over the stage, people were getting increasingly into it. Unfortunately, there were three bozos who were there together and a fourth guy who was by himself who were taking it too far. They were all about ten feet away from me. It was beginning to get rowdy. There was a lot of pushing, and it wasn’t the good kind. Bouncing and bumping into each other is one thing: incidental contact is just part of that game. Aggressively shoving people is quite another.

Then, I saw something that I haven’t seen since I saw Ian MacKaye stop a Fugazi show in 1996 to address some rowdy audience members. Alex stopped right in the middle of a song to specifically address those knuckleheads. She said words to the effect of “I like that you guys are having a good time, and I know I said I like moshing, but you’re being too rowdy. Don’t ruin it for everybody else”. The rest of the room appreciated that, and the ogres seemed like they got the message. Spoiler alert: They didn’t.

Only a few minutes later, they were at it again with the aggressive shoving and all that. The female bartender had had about enough, and she climbed up on top of the bar to deal with those miscreants. She grabbed the solo guy by his neck and gave him some sort of tongue lashing. Still perched on top of the bar, she got the attention of one of the three rabble-rousers, and she gave him some sort of lecture that ended with “Do you understand me?” She also got nose-to-nose with another one of the three. But she never did confront the biggest and most aggressive of the three. The crowd gave the bartender a big round of applause for her efforts. All the while, the show went on.

By the end of the set, the bartender had actually come all the way over the bar into the crowd, and was boldly standing right in the middle of those three troublemakers. One of them was trying her patience a little bit, but they remained pretty calm for the rest of the set. It looked like one of the guys actually apologized to her. The way the bartender handled that, I figure she must have a couple of boys at home.

At the end of the set, I did overhear one of those dudes mumble something like “What a bunch of pansies”

Those guys were selfish, and they weren’t even thinking about how their antics were annoying the rest of the audience. Not to mention, dangerous. Despite the distraction that those knuckleheads created, it was an amazing set, and I don’t think I’ll see anything better on Saturday.

The point is, you should have fun. But you should know that there are limits. When you’re preventing other people from having fun, you’ve gone too far. If a performer stops the show and addresses you specifically and asks you to calm down, you should calm down. And you should be embarrassed rather than indignant. If a bartender asks you to cut that shit out, you should cut that shit out. That rule applies any day of the week.

Notes from Hopscotch16 Day Two

I’m back from a very long and very eventful middle day of Hopscotch. Feel free to revisit my notes from Thursday.

Every year on the Friday of Hopscotch, I get up early and watch the Carolina Hurricanes participate in an informal practice. They’re not allowed to have any team personnel present, and they have to rent the ice on their own dime, but it’s always fun to see the boys skate. The season is a month away, and training camp hasn’t opened yet, but those informal practices are pretty much like what they would do during the season. This year, there was only going to be a very small group of guys, and I felt like crap Friday morning, so I skipped that tradition in favor of more sleep and more writing.

Kid Millions and Mary Lattimore

Kid Millions and Mary Lattimore

I finally got downtown at about 12:45, just in time to see drummer extraordinaire Kid Millions play a collaborative day party set with the badass harpist Mary Lattimore at Kings. I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course I saw Kid Millions play with his drum ensemble Man Forever on Thursday night, and I loved it. i just didn’t know how his style would work with a harpist. As it turns out, he played in a very restrained way, while she used all sorts of effects pedals and loops and things like that. Whatever expectations I did or didn’t have were certainly met. And then some. It was a beautiful set. I ran into a couple of old college friends, and that was nice, but by the time that set was over, I was definitely ready for lunch.

I’ve made it a Hopscotch tradition to eat at Beasley’s Chicken and Honey at least twice, and I demolished my chicken and waffles like it was my job.

I walked around a little bit with no real agenda. I walked into Beach House’s sound check, and for some reason, they had a handler who was shooing away anyone who was attempting to take photos.

Thayer Sarrano

Thayer Sarrano

I caught up with my Hopscotch buddies Kyle, Bronce, and Jake at Boxcar barcade, where there were a bunch of day party shows. I had wanted to see Secret Guest again, but by the time I got there, they were done. I played a few arcade games, then stuck around to watch a few sets. First was Fk Mt, an indie punk band, who I think are from South Carolina. Then came psychedelic folk/goth band Thayer Sarrano. That set was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Somehow, I had it in my head that she played Hopscotch last year. It’s not the case. By the end of their set, it was after 5:00, and almost time to head into City Plaza for the big headline show with Beach House at the top of the bill. I didn’t really plan it this way, but I had only had one beer to that point.

Before heading over to City Plaza, I went to my car to change out of my sweat-soaked shirt and into my shirt that commemorates the Mark Kozelek incident from two years ago. I sat in my car for a little while with the AC running while I downed a Gatorade from my stash and snacked on some cheese crackers. I also took that time to make a quick phone call to my girlfriend, who isn’t along for the ride.

The Dead Tongues

The Dead Tongues

First up in City Plaza was the Asheville band The Dead Tongues. I didn’t know anything at all about them, so they weren’t on my radar. I guess you could call them an Americana band. What they were playing was pleasant, but it just didn’t move me at all. Speaking of moving, I was up very close to the front for their set because I kind of wanted to be close for Beach House. I knew that I had zero interest in the middle act Anderson Paak, and I knew that it was going to get very crowded for that, and I just didn’t want to be crammed in there, so I got out of there.

I found my friends again, and we watched Anderson Paak from the back, behind the sound desk. His set has elements of rap, R&B, heavy rock, and some other things. He sings, raps, plays drums, and captivates his audience. I’m not denying his skill set or his charisma, but whatever it is that he’s doing just isn’t for me.

There was a very long pause between the Anderson Paak set and the start of Beach House, and I was getting a bit restless and a bit hungry. I went over to the Jimmy John’s right there in the Plaza and got a quick bite to eat. Then, we waited. And waited some more.

Finally, Beach House came on a few minutes after their scheduled start time of 8:45. Because we were so far away, because there was a lot of stage fog, and because I don’t have a proper camera, I wasn’t able to get any good photos of them. Victoria Legrand came out wearing a hooded cloak, and she kept it on for a while. With the smoke, the dim lights, and all that, there wasn’t much to see. The sound, however, was fantastic. As great as they sounded, and as excited as I was to see them, I was also anxious to get the night moving along.

Just as we were moving out of City Plaza, some dude walked past us and totally fell out. I don’t know what happened, but police were there immediately, some of his friends were there, and some strangers were there to help out. Literally within seconds, people were handing him bottles of water and sandwiches. He was down for a little while, but sat up, and was talking, and seemed lucid. I think it must have been just like what happened to me three years ago at Hopscotch.

Kid Millions and Jim Sauter

Kid Millions and Jim Sauter

At about 9:45, I ducked out of there and headed over to Fletcher to see Kid Millions (again, I know). This time he was playing with noisy saxophonist Jim Sauter. He’s in a freeform/improvisational band called Borbetomagus. There’s another saxophonist and an electric guitar in that band. They’ve put out a ton of records since 1980, but I’ve never heard of them. Sauter played through some effects pedals and created a bunch of feedback. Kid Millions did his thing on the drums. It was pretty amazing. I had to leave early, though, because there was stuff that I wanted to see.

Beach Slang

Beach Slang

Beach Slang and Car Seat Headrest were playing back-to-back at CAM. Mary Lattimore, Adia Victoria, and Julien Baker were playing back-to-back-to-back at Nash Hall. I really wanted to both. They were both a pretty long walk from Fletcher, but the walk to Nash is a little further. The walk between those two venues is so long that it would preclude bouncing back and forth. I had also promised a friend at home (who is a huge Beach Slang fan) that I would see Beach Slang for him, so I opted for the two sets at CAM. Normally, I avoid that place because the sound has been really awful there in the past, but there weren’t any problems this time.

Beach Slang was everything that I expected them to be and then some. Their longtime drummer quit (or was asked to leave) the band earlier this year, and later on there was also a rumor that they were breaking up, but they’re very much together, and very good. They were energetic, tight, and a bunch of fun. It’s often said that they sound A LOT like The Replacements, and I’m fully on board with that. They actually played a show recently where they covered the entire Pleased to Meet Me album, and I’ve learned that they frequently end shows with a cover of “Can’t Hardly Wait”. They didn’t do that on Friday, but they did a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” midway through their set. At the time, that was the most fun set of the night.

Next was Car Seat Headrest. I was pretty excited about that, but I was only able to stay for about three songs. They were good, but I wasn’t into it enough to keep me there. I had other things to do.

When the Hopscotch lineup was announced, I was really excited about Diet Cig. I decided that I was going to see them no matter what. I made the short walk over to Deep South, which is often filled to capacity. I didn’t have any problems getting in, but it was a pretty packed house. I’ve listened to Diet Cig’s Over Easy EP about a million times, and it always puts me in a good mood. The songs are quick, bouncy, and fun. It’s all reminiscent of cuddlepunk bands and punkgaze bands of the early 1990s.

Diet Cig

Diet Cig

As much as I like listening to their EP, seeing them perform was so much better. Frontwoman Alex Luciano was bouncing all over the stage, smiling, and radiating good vibes. Unfortunately, because of all her bouncing, and because I was near the back of the crowded room, and because she’s so tiny, I couldn’t get a good photo. Anyway, she looked like there was no place on earth she would rather be. She said she was having a great time in Raleigh, she was enjoying the festival, and she said she had some shrimp and grits that “changed (her) life”. As an audience member, you can’t help but get caught up in that kind of enthusiasm. Their loud, fast, bouncy songs and her exuberance fed the crowd, and that was a good thing. Until it became a little too much. I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but in the interest of wrapping this up, I’ll just say that things almost got out of hand. I stayed for their whole set, then lingered for a bit to say hello to them. It was, by far, the thing that I’ve liked the most so far.

On my walk from Deep South back to my car, I found $5 on the ground, which eased the pain of the fact that they’re actually charging people to use the parking deck this year.

I continued my Hopscotch tradition of stopping by the Pie Pushers pizza truck for a couple of slices before driving back to the hotel.

All in all, it was a really great night.

In a short while, look for some details about the events that transpired at the Diet Cig set.

September 2, 2016 — “Cardboard” by Diet Cig

Diet Cig

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Cardboard” by Diet Cig (2015, from the Over Easy EP).

Diet Cig is an indie pop/cuddlepunk/twee duo from New Paltz, New York. You may recall that I wrote about them last January in advance of the release of their debut EP. I said that the song “Scene Sick” reminded me of Camera Obscura. At the time, I hadn’t heard the rest of the EP, but I correctly guessed that it would be one of my favourite EPs of the year. The rest of the EP is less twee, more cuddlepunk, and I really loved the whole thing. It’s reminiscent of loads of early 1990s cuddlepunk bands. I’m reminded of Tiger Trap, and to a lesser extent, Tsunami. And if you knew me in 1994, you know that I absolutely wore out that self-titled Tiger Trap album.

Alex Luciano (vocals/guitar) and Noah Bowman (drums) may not be the most gifted musicians, but whatever they lack in raw talent, they make up for in charisma. They’re scrappy, energetic, and really fun. It’s authentic. I’d much rather see that than some really gifted but uninteresting band. Oh, and they’re also adorable.

When the Hopscotch lineup for this year’s festival was announced, I was almost as excited to see Diet Cig on the list as I was to see Beach House and Sylvan Esso. They immediately went to the short list. The “I’ve got to see them no matter what else is going on in that time slot” list. As it turns out, there is a bit of a decision to make. Diet Cig is playing Friday night at midnight at Deep South. Meanwhile, Julien Baker will playing at midnight over at Nash Hall. I really want to see both. In the footprint of Hopscotch, those two venues are about as far away from each other as they could possibly be (five blocks over and four blocks up), so there’s no likelihood of doing both.

Anyway, here’s today’s song:
“Cardboard” by Diet Cig

At just a shade under two minutes in length, it’s on par with the other songs on the EP. The brief breakdown at about 1:10 sort of reminds me of a similar brief breakdown just past the halfway point of the Tiger Trap song “Super Crush” (which was always my favourite Tiger Trap song). The bouncy and loud/calm and quiet/bouncy and loud structure is just part of what makes it so much fun.

You can buy a digital download of Over Easy via Bandcamp here.

Hopscotch is next week! Check out the full lineup here, the schedule here, and all of the ticketing information here.

01.18.2015 — “Scene Sick” by Diet Cig

Diet Cig

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Scene Sick” by Diet Cig (2015, from the forthcoming EP Over Easy).

Diet Cig is an indie pop/twee duo from New Paltz, New York. That’s a small town of 14 thousand people situated about 80 miles north of the city and about 100 miles west of Hartford, Connecticut. There’s a branch of SUNY there, where the criminally underrated actor John Turturro earned his undergraduate degree. The town’s most famous person, though, was two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world Floyd Patterson. He was born in a microscopic town in western North Carolina, but grew up in New Paltz, retired there, and died there in 2005.

I don’t know anything about this band other than that their debut EP is set to be released on February 24 via Father/Daughter Records. I learned about them the other day when I was writing that post about their labelmates Anomie.

If you like the first two Camera Obscura records, you should love this band. Or at least you should love this song. That’s exactly what they remind me of. And that’s awesome. If you knew me back in 2004, you know that if you got me talking about music, I wouldn’t shut up about Camera Obscura.

The forthcoming EP contains five songs, which Stereogum has called “stone cold classics” and a “heart-stopping debut”. Read the whole review here.

“Scene Sick” isn’t FCC friendly, but the kids in college radio stations are clever enough that they can make a radio edit version, and it’s sure to be a big hit. It’ll definitely be in A rotation around my house. It’s only 1:46 in length, but this just might be the most fully-clothed two minutes of fun that you’ll have in 2015.

This is that song:

“Scene Sick” by Diet Cig

The music sounds like Camera Obscura. The words sound like Camera Obscura. If I didn’t know better, I would think that this is an unreleased track from Underachievers Please Try Harder (2003).

I’m sick of hearing about your band
I don’t wanna hear about who you think I am
I don’t care, I don’t care….
I’m sick of hearing about your scene
I’d rather talk about something more exciting
I don’t care, I don’t care….
I just wanna dance
I just wanna dance
Come on take my hand.
Fuck all your romance
I just wanna dance

Perhaps the kids in Camera Obscura would have said “never mind your romance” instead of “fuck all your romance”, but it still sounds and smells like a really REALLY good Camera Obscura song.

From what I’ve read, there’s plenty more amazing stuff in the five-song EP. I’m certainly looking forward to it very much. This song, and probably the whole EP, will be on infinite repeat as soon as I can get my grubby mitts on it. For now, the soundcloud file will have to do.

It annoys me to report that this won’t be released on vinyl or even on CD. The only physical release of this will be a limited-run pink cassette tape. I really hate this obnoxious cassette revival trend, and although I typically strongly encourage the purchase of physical copies, I can’t do that here. You can pre-order your digital copy of Over Easy from their bandcamp page here.

After the release of the EP, Diet Cig will go on a US tour in March.

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