|Illuminati Hotties — Kiss Yr Frenemies (May 11th, 2018)|
Illuminati Hotties — Kiss Yr Frenemies (May 11th, 2018)•◊• Local Los Angeles tenderpunk pioneers, illuminati hotties, is the creative outlet of Sarah Tudzin — a producer, engineer, and burrito aficionado hailing from the sprawl of Los Angeles. Armed with bright white shortveralls and a rotating line~up of Sarah’s bffs, illuminati hotties has been lighting up stages across SoCal since Fall 2016 with playfully interweaving guitar lines, relentless rhythmic momentum, and strikingly self~aware vocals. At first listen, illuminati hotties is a sun~drenched, irreverent volley with the onset of adulthood, but as the listener dives deeper, they will find an earnest consideration of musical phrasing and deliberately crafted wordplay regarding the complexity of love, loss, and skateboarding. illuminati hotties is looking forward to the release of their debut LP in early 2018.
•◊• Despite the pluralized nom de guerre, illuminati hotties is the creative outlet of Sarah Tudzin — a producer and engineer hailing from the sprawl of Los Angeles. illuminati hotties has been lighting up stages across SoCal since Fall 2016 with playfully interweaving guitar lines, relentless rhythmic momentum, and strikingly self~aware vocals. At first listen, illuminati hotties is a sun~drenched, irreverent volley with the onset of adulthood, but as the listener dives deeper, they will find an earnest consideration of musical phrasing and deliberately crafted wordplay regarding the complexity of love, loss, and skateboarding. Lauded as local “tenderpunk pioneers,” illuminati hotties has perfected the blend of sweetness and ferocity, of celebration and despondency, in their debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Album release: May 11th, 2018
Record Label: Tiny Engines
01 Kiss Yr Frenemies 0:57
02 (You’re Better) Than Ever 2:21
03 Shape Of My Hands 3:15
04 Cuff 4:48
05 For Cheez (My Friend, Not The Food) 3:59
06 Paying Off The Happiness 2:31
07 Patience 3:40
08 The Rules 4:55
09 boi 0:57
10 Pressed 2 Death 2:15
11 Declutter 3:56
First Pressing (Cassettes):
• 75 Red Tint (tour exclusive)
• 90 Smokey Tint
• 110 Black
• 125 Red Solid
By Ian Gormely, Published May 09, 2018; Score: 9
•◊• Sarah Tudzin didn’t set out to be a rock star. But in trying to hustle work for her day job as a producer, she caught the artist’s bug and stumbled into the role anyway. What was originally conceived as a collection of songs to show off her skills behind the boards is now the L.A.~based singer and guitarist’s debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies. And damn is it ever good.
•◊• Tudzin has tapped into a rich vein, mining similar musical territory as artists like Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail and Vagabon, a sort of nexus of DIY punk and indie rock whose spirit animals include Liz Phair and Kim Deal. Yet Tudzin wrote Kiss Yr Frenemies in something of a vacuum — Illuminati Hotties didn’t even play their first gig until half the record was recorded. These unique conditions birthed a record that balances slick riffs and hushed intimacy.
•◊• At first blush, songs like “(You’re Better) Than Ever” and “Paying Off the Happiness” feel like a fleeting sugar rush, but underneath the sheen are deep sonic and emotional layers, equal parts earnest and casually dismissive. Tudzin’s vocal range is thin, but she knows how to imbue it with emotion; sparser fare like “boi” or the slow burning “Declutter” might sound like rough voice memos, but their production (or lack thereof) only amplifies her vulnerability.
•◊• Kiss Yr Frenemies teems with hooks, as sure a sign as any of Tudzin’s natural gifts as a songwriter. But her skills in the studio ensure that everything here pops, whether it’s the pummelling chorus of “Cuff” or the shimmering guitars in “For Cheez (My Friend, Not the Food).” Then there’s kiss~off “Pressed 2 Death,” where she describes her own writing skills with the sound of a wailing finger~tapped solo while the song written by the object of her ire “sounds like shit.” Rarely do sharp comic timing and professional sound design skills come together. Rarer still is a song this funny, yet still grounded in real emotions.
•◊• A slick summation of much of the past five years in the DIY trenches, Illuminati Hotties simultaneously stand apart from their peers. Unburdened by expectations, Tudzin pieced together a fun, emotionally satisfying record that should become the sound of this and many summers to come. (Tiny Engines) •◊• https://exclaim.ca/
Chris DeVille @chrisdeville | May 8, 2018 ~ 12:46 pm | ALBUM OF THE WEEK
•◊• If you can appreciate the wit and whimsy that inspires a barely~scraping~by solo musician to name their project Illuminati Hotties, you will also probably dig that project’s debut album. Only halfway through her twenties, LA~based Sarah Tudzin has gotten as good at writing songs as she is naming bands and, not coincidentally, titling albums. Her new one Kiss Yr Frenemies (see what I mean?) marks the arrival of an unmistakable creative voice in indie rock.
•◊• OK, you might mistake that voice at first. Illuminati Hotties songs come in many sizes, shapes, and styles, with enough variation that they might not always register as the work of the same band if experienced in the wild. The lead~up to Kiss Yr Frenemies demonstrated as much: Lead single “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” which my colleague James Rettig wisely dubbed “a surf~pop shredder by way of Courtney Barnett,” was followed by “Cuff,” an ambient simmer that boils over into thunderous distortion bombs. Then came “Paying Off The Happiness,” a jaunty new wave/power~op track with a title nodding to Bright Eyes. Kiss Yr Frenemies also has interlude~length vignettes that call back to ‘60s girl~group pop (the opening title track) and invite you to a howling acoustic house~show sing~along (“boi”).
•◊• In the context of the album, this all coheres into something of a signature sound, multi~faceted though it may be. Across the board Tudzin’s tunes overflow with tiny flourishes and grand gestures, disciplined and concise yet beaming with the excitement that comes from taking leaps and tapping into your potential. She returns to some of her established modes once or twice, so that Kiss Yr Frenemies ends up toggling between darkly meditative slow~burns and brightly chiming pop~rockers ever so slightly tinged by retro elements. Consider these templates the night and day of Illuminati Hotties — and as in Genesis, the creator can look upon her creation and declare it good.
•◊• The versatility and sense of wonder remind me of Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People in a way, but Kiss Yr Frenemies is a more compact vehicle for a single person’s vision. This is a strange thing to say about an album half composed of ballads, but the best descriptor for Kiss Yr Frenemies is probably fun. It’s homespun and down~to~Earth even in most of its flashiest moments, like the lead guitar that comes bursting into the frame twice on “Shape Of My Hands” or the brass~inflected bombardment that closes out “For Cheez (My Friend, Not The Food).” Speaking of which, the moodiest, most epic composition here is called “For Cheez (My Friend, Not The Food).” There is room on her album for somber atmospherics and fart noises alike.
•◊• If the music is vibrant and charming, the lyrics are what push Illuminati Hotties over the top. Tudzin lends credence to the idea of the songwriter as a teller of short stories. Her words are the connective thread that ties her material together, all of it animated by her frank, self~deprecating, ultimately optimistic outlook on twenty-something foibles. She gives you scenes of heartbreak, of flirtation, of tender love both romantic and platonic, of social missteps and interpersonal friction and loneliness and confusion. She does this all with the warmth and approachability of a romantic comedy. Again and again, she finds a way to be sarcastic without sounding bitter and vulnerable without sounding insufferable. She is the kind of narrator you want to spend time with because you so identify with her humanity — and because kicking it with her sounds like a blast.
•◊• Consider “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” on which Tudzin wretches at the news that her ex is thriving while she struggles to get it together. As the beat goes bopping along, she sings, “All my favorite socks are getting holes in them/ All my favorite people got a load on them/ But I heard/ That you feel better/ Better than ever than ever.” Later: “All my jeans and hoodies smell like Parliaments/ All I wanna do is skate back to your bed.” Still later: “All the things I used to do are boring now/ All the baddest words I knew came pouring out.” It’s constructed with the parallelism of a poem, so it only makes sense that its refrain is so poetic: “It’s not to say that I’m unfortunate/ Or that I haven’t been succeeding/ But I’m a hushed and quiet resonance/ When I wanted to be screaming.”
◊•◊ Song after song comes loaded with lyrics that evocative. On “Paying Off The Happiness,” self~described “emotional debt” leads to actual debt when a cash~strapped Tudzin tries to atone for an awkward moment at the bar by buying a round of Stella and cognac for friends of friends. “Shape Of My Hands” hilariously depicts a short~lived fling: “Singing Conor’s songs at 4 in the morning/ While you were online shopping/ You said you need a better mattress/ I said I’m not staying long enough to see that.” On “Cuff” she communicates steely determination and loving support via little details like cuffed sleeves, gritted teeth, and a kiss on the cheek. On “Pressed 2 Death,” the one with the fart noise, she uses a different sound effect to stunt on a guy who only likes her when she’s sad: “I wrote a song on your guitar and it sounds like [heroic guitar solo] / You wrote a song on my guitar and it sounds like shit.”
•◊• It’s almost certainly true that Tudzin writes better songs than that loser. She’s writing better songs than just about anybody going right now, especially for someone just edging her way into adulthood. Kiss Yr Frenemies is a stellar introduction to her world, one that makes me want to keep following her story for years to come, until she’s old enough that a band name like Illuminati Hotties will seem even more gleefully absurd. •◊• https://www.stereogum.com/
•◊• Los Angeles~based music producer, mixer, and engineer Sarah Tudzin’s specialty is curating artists’ organic individuality from all ends of the genre spectrum. From working in the studio alongside major contemporary artists (Coldplay, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lady Gaga, Barbara Streisand) to hip, subterranean indie acts (Porches, !!!, Lower Dens, Mass Gothic), Tudzin continually showcases a fluency in stylistic malleability by way of audiophilic sonicism and resolute production vision. At Berklee College of Music, Tudzin honed her skills not only in music production and audio engineering, but also in songwriting and multi~instrumental performance.
•◊• She is currently contributing to the commercial music scene as a staff engineer at Woodshed Recording (http://woodshedrecording.com), as a production/engineering assistant to major mix engineer/producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio) at the iconic Sunset Sound, and also as a freelance producer and mix engineer. Other recent accomplishments include sound design on Grammy award winning Broadway musical Hamilton, her mixes featured on Sirius XMU’s Aquarium Drunkard segment, and performing throughout LA alongside local talent. — Courtesy of Jackson Wargo, 2016
|Illuminati Hotties — Kiss Yr Frenemies (May 11th, 2018)|