Of all the dread I feel for the upcoming four years, one of the pettiest and least important is a mirror of the way music was often written about during the second Bush Administration. While I can’t specify any particular piece from back—the Iraq War began a long time ago—I have a vague recollection of thinkpiece upon thinkpiece about where are the protest songs, why aren’t musicians standing up, and by god, where the loving shit was Bob motherfucking Dylan.
There’s obviously nothing inherently wrong with hoping for your favorite artists to use what little power they have and speak out against injustice through their work, but there’s also a bit of superiority in this sentiment that I fear will become amplified and, eventually, meaningless in the era of performative wokeness. To preemptively counter the notion, I also want to emphasize that feeling good however you can is important and one of the many jobs of art is to soothe and provide relief, and even to offer escapism when reality demands. That can be, I think, just as edifying as music that explicitly protests an event or a regime, and sometimes more life-affirming.
And so I suppose it feels appropriate to me, right now, that we’re debuting a new song by Teen Vice, a New York band with proclivities to both pop and punk and voices from a dream. I’ve been writing about singer Tammy Hart’s music since we were both young Portlanders during the Bush Administration, when she was making vehement and Southern-tinged acoustic punk tracks; in Teen Vice, she teams up with fellow punk vets May Dantas (Dirty Cats), and Derek Pippin and Joshua Ackley (The Dead Betties). Together, they’ve released a handful of lovely kinetic tracks and in “Out of Excuses,” they hit a sweet spot of harmonies and crescendo that’s both calming and enveloping. It’s also a fine reminder to keep it a hundred—“I’ve never wanted to prove anything to you”—and take no bullshit. It’s got a lot of heart, which for right now is the thing that I, and maybe you, most need.
If you’re in New York, Teen Vice is playing at Pianos tonight; a good excuse to keep your head up and get your mind off things.