Premiere: BANK BROKE by Skuff Micksun

By Izzy Braico

If Skuff Micksun’s new single, “BANK BROKE” is anything, it is energetic. The song even begins with the likes of a motivational speech: 

“Alright, let’s try and be positive, okay? Okay,” he says. 

Throughout the last few years, Micksun’s upbeat energy and positive vibes have amassed him a following of over 50k on TikTok. And it’s easy to see why– the enthusiasm and emotion that he brings to his music seems ripe for everything from dance videos to background music. “BANK BROKE” is practically manufactured to go viral.

Although Micksun has many other singles under his belt, this marks the first single off his EP Wrapped Up In Wind, due out later this year. This will be the first longer work that he’s released since 2020. 

About the track, Micksun wrote, “I had recently quit my job and checked my bank account which triggered the first lyric and title of the song, ‘BANK BROKE.’ It felt so good to get that raw emotion of being down and out into a song that feels hopeful and upbeat.”

As someone who once had their card declined on a $3 coffee, I can relate. 

“’BANK BROKE’ is a voice in your head that just won’t let you quit no matter how hard things get,” he continued. “We’ve all been in what seems to be impossible positions and I think many people will relate to that feeling. Simply, an anthem for the people who are really trying to crawl their way out of a hole.”

These days, it’s easy to resign yourself to the doom and gloom that pop up everywhere you look like a futile game of whack-a-mole. Micksun’s ruthless optimism provides a refreshing change of pace.

“BANK BROKE” will be released on Wednesday, March 8th. Check it out here. Click here to check out Skuff Micksun on Instagram.


Is Abe Vigoda Dead? Yes. No. Probably. 

A Review of trust blinks.’ New Album, Streaming Now

By Izzy Braico

When we got an email in our inbox asking us to put out a piece on Is Abe Vigoda Dead, the new album from LA-based trust blinks., my interest was immediately piqued. 

I’m not much of a movie buff, so I hope you will excuse my not recognizing the name of the album, or knowing whether or not Abe Vigoda is, in fact, dead. 

When I did a little digging (a Google search), though, I found out that he died in 2016. And with that mystery solved, I found myself asking, ‘What could that name possibly mean?’

I’ve come to the conclusion that I may never know for sure. 

Could it be like a kōan from the practice of Zen, attempting to prompt some sort of revelation in the simplicity of the question, the finality of its answer? Could it be a question of what it really means to die? 

Could it be a reference to an inside joke made in someone’s garage to which we, the listeners, can never truly be privy? 

It’s safe to say that I’m not quite sure whether Abe Vigoda is dead— at least not in whatever sense that Ethan Hoffman-Sadka asks us through this latest installment in his project, trust blinks.

And I didn’t know Abe Vigoda, so I can’t necessarily speak on whether he would have liked this Alex G-esque album had he been around to hear it. But I do. 

Boy, do I. 

An instrumental introduction, titled, “Intro,” plain and simple, pulls the listener in before the raspy, almost whispering vocals of the second song on the album, “Arm’s Length.” Dark and melodramatic, the angst in “Arm’s Length” is nearly palpable. 

It’s awesome. 

The lyrics are simple, delivered with a sort of even-tempered melancholy, but powerful in their ability to evoke the feeling of missing someone you haven’t lost yet. The mournful swelling of the horns from Rubin Hohlbein nearly clouds your vision as you’re sucked deeper and deeper into the world of Abe Vigoda. 

“Untitled 3,” despite its unassuming name, delivers at our proverbial doorstep a level of only slightly muffled intensity unmatched by the other tracks on the album. This is the kind of song you’ll wish you had during your first breakup. The kind of song you can only really understand when you find yourself staring up at your ceiling fan in the late hours of the night.

My favorite song on the album, though, is “Double or Nothing.”

The track features Jolee Gordon, whose voice is as arresting as it is beautiful. Her voice becomes haunting when paired with Hoffman-Sadka’s, who does the rest of the vocals on the album (and most of the instruments, too).

The song is so soft and ethereal that the lyrics are made all the more heavy; it almost physically hurts when Gordon sings, “I’m double or nothing, but mainly nothing.”

Near the end of the song comes an assortment of loosely related sound bites, an element which some might say has become a bit trite in Shoegaze as a genre. 

But here, in a song which already feels so intimate, these clips draw you in and refuse to let you go. 

There’s so much more I could say about this album— how the music video for “free time!” is as funny as the song is earnest, how I can’t get the riff for “Is Abe Vigoda Dead” out of my head, or how the last song, “closed,” bookends the album in a way that feels like saying goodbye to an old friend. But I’ll let you make up your own mind.

If you asked me whether Abe Vigoda was dead before I listened to this album, I would give you the short answer: yes.

If you asked me now, though, after I’ve spent so much time in the little world that trust blinks. has created for us, I would tell you that you’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself.

Check out trust blinks.’ Is Abe Vigoda Dead, out now on Bandcamp and Spotify, and watch the music video for “free time!” here.

Find them on Instagram at @trust.blinks


What’s All the “Worry” About?

By Izzy Braico

Introspective and profoundly ethereal, “Worry” is the second single from Las Vegas native Joey Miceli in anticipation of his upcoming album, The Standard Portrait.

Although the deep pulse of the beat and captivating vocals make “Worry” sound primed for radio play, they do not disguise the simple poetry of Miceli’s lyrics. The song evokes the emotional turmoil of loving someone else and the fear that comes with it. 

“It’s a tragedy/that I believe/I am just a friend/in your eyes again.” 

The song, though it reads as deeply personal, is still intensely relatable. We all know what it’s like to stress over what someone else thinks of us, especially when we care about them deeply. 

“Worry” follows Miceli’s anxieties about love as he wonders whether he can ever truly be “enough” for the person he cares about.

As Miceli describes it, “Worry” is about the fear that comes along when it feels like a relationship is going too well, about the kind of bliss that makes you think that things can only go down from there.

Could there be something that they’re not telling you? Can you ever really fulfill them?

Miceli doesn’t offer us answers to those questions. In fact, he doesn’t even try. 

As I understand it, “Worry” isn’t about telling someone that you’ve got it all figured out, but that you care enough, at least, to let it drive you crazy. 

To chase your fears down the rabbit hole.

Check out Joey Miceli’s new single, “Worry,” out now on all streaming platforms. The Standard Portrait will be dropping March 10– keep your eyes peeled for a White Noise interview with the artist to be released the same day.


Controlled Explosions: We Have to Talk About Good Game

By DJ Jelinek

Dissecting Good Game’s 2018 EP “Good Luck Have Fun”

I found Good Game hiding in the depths of my Spotify Discover Weekly. Their top rated track, “Cheating the Nasa Space Physical,” snuck its way into my speakers one day while doodling in my sketchbook. It was my first impression of this self-described “Gender-Euphoria” Math-Rock/Pop Club. 

From the jump, Good Game ricochets your head off of the instrumental with mechanically incredible skill. The vocalists keep you busy by waterboarding you in the washing-machine of convoluted lyrics in this full three minute and twenty-seven second song. Needless to say, it’s very aptly named – fuck, now I’m hooked. I think the point that caught me off guard was the fact that they only have seventeen-thousand monthly listeners on Spotify currently.

With a sound this underrated, I had to venture into Good Game’s latest official release: their difficult-to-follow 2018 EP “Good Luck Have Fun.” Addy Harris has the easiest vocals to spot, with Brock Benzel pumping in extra vocals as a treat. Nate Sherman injects another into the mix, while Dan Getty takes up the drumset. The team is rounded out by Chance Wells with a deep bass guitar. Benzel also did the mixing, mastering, and guitar for this release. The EP was “recorded and engineered underneath a skyscraper” by Daxa Angresh (quote their bandcamp).

Geez, Good Game. That’s a lot of fuckin’ utility.

I’ve been finding it difficult to put into words exactly what “Good Luck Have Fun” is to me. It’s one of the reasons I’ve put off this review. It’s a bright and open presentation, but the feeling I have left after is only empty. For the sound that’s produced I don’t feel empowered, honestly I just want to give my Grandma a hug after listening to this. Behind childish auxiliary, a bright guitar, and airy vocals is anxious nostalgia. “Good Luck Have Fun” makes me feel uncomfortable in the best way possible. This EP feels like a mask; what are you hiding from me?

Good Game creates a sound that conjures imagery of a beautiful partly-cloudy sky demonstrating the massive expanse of their environment. It’s like watching a paper airplane flutter wildly out-of-control on a windy day. There’s amazement, but also a sense of apprehension. Directionless and out of control. It’s hard to understand in the moment what you’re experiencing, but when you take a step back there’s a lot of detail you have yet to uncover.

I think the most interesting aspect of this work is the lyric writing. It makes my poetry brain go brr. To reiterate, these lyrics are incredibly convoluted. Good Game weaponizes confusion against the viewer to amplify themes of self-worth, productivity, and the passage of time. “Good Luck Have Fun” loves to question typical societal institutions and norms: the American dream, sleep regulation and disorder, time management, and mental health. These are mostly concepts that can’t be described with concise statements through a simple two-and-a-half minute song.

They tackle qualitative ideas with quantitative semantics, which serves to add to the confusion. Words like “crystals, symmetries, prolificity, lust indeterminate.” Mostly terms relating to science and math, specifically geology. To couple this idea, the cover, shot by Brock Benzel, is literally a window with general mathematical equations on it. Maybe that’s why each work feels so off putting to me. How do you describe feelings using terms relating to calculations and categorization? I suppose that’s also a question to ask western medicine about, but I’m far from a psychiatrist.

“Why don’t you write a song about it;

that’ll really change things, won’t it?

Won’t it?”

You also gotta love self-deprecating writing: it really shows off the modesty of these artists and their battle with self-worth. Good Game has been the perfect band to satisfy my recent genre craze. Along with my ever growing love for Math-Rock, I’ve been addicted to small artists recently. I love seeing the underrepresented perform their work, they always have something more interesting to say compared to mainstream artists.

Good Game is like a rocket: a controlled explosion blasting off into the stratosphere through blue skies reaching something-or-nothing. In the best way possible, it’s okay to feel stupid when listening to their work. Not every bit of art has to make sense. Sometimes, in the moment, it just feels right. What is Good Game to me? Honestly, they seem like just a bunch of burnt out star-children from Pennsylvania.

Keep an eye out for Good Game and any future tours that might come through your city. Last year, an upcoming album was teased back in March. As of RIGHT NOW they’ve dropped this statement on their most recent post: “Prepping for the last couple recording sessions for the album.”

Favorite track: First Snow

Rating: 5 out of 5.

New Singles Out Now from Great Value Jesus

By Izzy Braico

Big Things Coming Soon is the newest work from Normal native Noah Renken-Kapatos, performing under the name Great Value Jesus. The album follows the semi-autobiographical story of coming of age under the hateful watch of a step-father and the difficulties that come with complicated family dynamics, especially for young people still lost in the drift of trying to establish their own identity. The album attempts to capture life in all its vicissitudes, presenting an artistic representation of how the good times mingle with the bad. The full 19-track album, spanning genres from indie rock to lofi hip hop, is set to be released January 6th. For now, we have a few singles to tide us over: “Slacker Song”, “Chillin”, and “Trippy Tiptoe Tango”. 

Slacker Song

“Slacker Song” opens with one of the more entertaining introductions to a song, and especially to an album, that I have heard in my 20 short years on Earth. 

“My name is Noah Renken-Kapatos,” the artist says over the strumming of the bass. “And I don’t suck dick.”

“It’s okay if you do, though. Word to your wives.”

With a punchy melody and a dash of angst, “Slacker Song” introduces us to the protagonist of BTCS, who here takes on the role of the burnout who just can’t seem to straighten out his life, however he might try. And that, I think, is the simple tragedy that makes “Slacker Song” a perfect introduction to this album– the awareness that something is deeply wrong with your life matched with a feeling of being powerless to fix it. This theme carries through the rest of the album as our protagonist navigates complicated emotions and relationships, but in “Slacker Song,” we’re introduced to this idea in a deeply relatable way. This song invites us into the world of our protagonist, asking us to examine the innumerable ways in which we, ourselves, have failed to live up to our potential.

The lyrics are composed of simple language and a largely defeatist attitude, qualities which give the song somewhat of an adolescent feel. What differentiates this song from similar ones of the genre, though, is the faint implication of hope, of regaining autonomy: “I feel my life just slipping away/ I’ll get back one of these days.”


The next single from BTCS, “Chillin” diverts from the rest of the album stylistically. This is a bold thing to say, because it’s hard to pinpoint a stylistic throughline in this multi-genre work from which to divert. I’ll say it anyways.

Over a trap beat and heavy synthesizer, “Chillin” suggests that we just “…relax and sit back.” Where “Slacker Song” asks us to sympathize with the protagonist as an artist, “Chillin” asks us to sympathize with him as a friend. Rather than being invited into the protagonist’s world, we are asked to share it, creating a sense of intimacy that strengthens the value of the vulnerable content in the songs to come.

When Renken-Kapatos repeats the line, “We chillin,” it seems to be equal parts statement and question: we are asked to participate in this world, to consider our relationship with its author– will we accept?

Still, the rhetorical appeal of the song is subtle and does not detract from the song’s ability to get stuck in your head. “Chillin” is skillful in the way in which it avoids masking harsh realities with levity. No, instead it acknowledges the way in which contrasting moods must work in tandem through the course of BTCS.

Trippy Tiptoe Tango

The final single from BTCS, “Trippy Tiptoe Tango” is the first song which delves into Renken-Kapatos’s relationship with his step-father, the person who he describes as first bully.

“You’re a wicked, wicked kind of mean,” he laments.

The song’s title describes the delicate dance required to grow up around a domineering father figure, and the scars that linger after every misstep.

“Walking on eggshells all my life leads me to bleed,” he continues.

Seeing as the concept of the album is centered around healing from his relationship with his stepfather, it’s not surprising that Renken-Kapatos seems to pour his soul into this song. Especially following “Chillin,” the song is slow, sad, and deeply personal. Still, there is a kind of empowerment in the way Renken-Kapatos is able to issue an artistic “fuck you, too” to the man who told his mother, “Look me in the eyes, tell me you love me more./ Love me more than your only son.”

There is a sort of salvation in the line, “I’m done with you.”

The album Big Things Coming Soon by Great Value Jesus is scheduled to release on January 6th, 2023. Keep an eye out for a White Noise interview with the artist on the day of its release.


Fraternal Twin Searches for a Signal on “Cloudsong” EP

By Jarrod Sage & Sarah Levin

After long hibernation, New York’s Fraternal Twin comes out of the woodwork with four jangling dreamscapes that trace languid trails between brooding and meditative on their newest EP Cloudsong. From the heady longing that pervades “Reaper” to the title track’s circumscription of pensive reflections, Cloudsong brings a lot to the table without getting oversaturated with dream pop’s typical sensibilities. 

Track 01 – Words

In an age where songs featuring soft, psychedelic guitar lines are mostly just building material for playlists with titles like “chill kickback indie mix” or “shower lol,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult for artists associated with that sound to establish themselves as more than just white noise. Musicians wanting to avoid relegation to a slot between Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” and “Locket” by Crumb usually just unmoor from the sound altogether.
However, on this EP, Fraternal Twin commits to dreamy guitar tones and leverages the sound as a backdrop for a more meaningful performance. “Words” opens the project with a welcome departure from the typical comfort of vibey psych-rock without sacrificing any of the genre’s stylings. It’s not uncomfortable per se, but it’s something that feels just peculiar enough to keep your attention – a certain coldness in the mix that defies the typical warmth in guitar tones from other beachy, psychedelic projects like Turnover’s Good Nature or Sugar Candy Mountain’s 666. This coldness persists throughout the project, but as you move through the four songs it gradually thaws until you’ve suddenly reached the final track, the ice has given way, and you’re wrapped in a tone that hits like finally leaving your jacket behind on spring’s first day. “Words” is the very necessary opener for this, ensuring complex themes and emotions within the lyrics that don’t get lost in glitter and reverb.

Track 02 – Afterlife

Earlier in the day when I wrote this, I was listening to “Afterlife” while biking to school. As it buzzed in my ears, a firetruck blared past the crosswalks up ahead. It took me a moment before realizing the Doppler shift of distant sirens was outside my headphones and not just a part of the mix – there’s a drawl in the dreamy guitar slides that captures the same sense of something fast approaching and whooshing through, something that passes you by as quick as it came. And yet, the sound somehow still hovers longer on the latter half.

“Afterlife” lets you slip into its sound more than “Words,” which makes the sense of longing in Tom Christie’s vocals all the more poignant. Seductive and sedating, its dreamlike state mirrors the comforting haze of delusion. As I listen to this project, I find that much of the lyrical substance orbits ideas like the anxiety of wishing to know and the discomfort in actually understanding. Until the last minute, though, it feels like maybe you can just simmer in the languor of longing, ignorant of the world outside your headphones and its passing sirens. In contrast, the final minute of “Afterlife” is explosive – you don’t even realize until it’s already igniting in riffs and percussion that evoke cuts from Palm’s Rock Island: there’s a powder keg of brooding tension that’s been building in the slow yearning and saudade that characterizes the EP up until this point.

In a way, it feels like a sort of reckoning.  

Track 03 – Reaper

“Reaper” showcases a similar vibe to “Cloudsong,” with a repetitive guitar riff backed by moody synths. However, this song deals with a new type of emotional language – a more existential tune. The track perfectly captures the essence of late night driving and reflection.

“In the end nobody knows / 

I seek the thought to keep it out of sight /

Oh, will you take a drive with me?” 

The exiting guitar melody encapsulates conversation between bass and guitar, leading to the perfect potion of shoegazesque magic. The lyrics distinctly remind me of early MGMT, with strange themes fitting in like a puzzle piece to fit the structure of the song. 

“Oh will somebody come to take me apart / 

Before they bring me back into the dark / 

Reaper, I wonder /

Reaper, why don’t you speak up?”

A reaper being the personification of death, this song battles with the idea of mortality and anguish. The darkness forms a tone that engages the listener, while also oddly calming the atmosphere around the headphones. This juxtaposition of saddening language mixed with relaxing melodies is exactly what’s needed for a delightful, dreamy tune. With clear production and a unique sound, they use their lyricism in a way that invites listeners to simply relax. “Reaper” is a hazy hue of subdued elements that washes away the foggy atmosphere. It captures the soul of this EP with its longing questions and earnest lyricism. I’m glad that bedroom pop is not a dying genre, with the latest from Fraternal Twin proving to be a promising point of that. 

Track 04 – Cloudsong

Title track “Cloudsong” closes with an eclectic synth that pierces the EP straight into focus. The lyrics serve as a prose for cloud sighting, matching the calming vibe of its echoing rhythmic pace. The slow tempo mixing with the depth of the lyricism curates a musical climate that elevates any emotion you’re already in prior to listening. The lyrics shape the song at the beginning, similarly to how clouds shape the sky. 

“It was curling into view /

And I was wrong /

I couldn’t place the shape of it /

Then it was gone.”

Synonymous with Beach House and Mazzy Star, Fraternal Twin showcases their artistic expression through this riveting outro track.  As the song progresses, Fraternal Twin internalizes the connection between cloud watching and finding oneself. The steady drum beat mixing with the heavy reverb salutes itself to these changing lyrics which examine perception as a whole. Something about this song portrays a safe feeling. A feeling of conscious relatability that is fearful to admit.

“If nothing seems the way it is /

Then who will see me out here?”

There is something about music that speaks for the unspoken, that expresses for the expressionless. “Cloudsong” is the song to put on when you need to walk off your own feelings. It is the song to put on when you need to clean your apartment on a Sunday afternoon after a crazy weekend. It is the song to put on when you need to focus on nothing but a piece of art, and it is just that, a piece of art. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 7th, 2022. | The full “Cloudsong” EP by Fraternal Twin releases November 11th for digital purchase and streaming. In the meantime, check out their latest music video, Spotify, or Instagram for more!


Blood Orange: An Underrated Genius of the Music Industry

By Isabel Crabtree

I’m sure you’ve heard the names ASAP Rocky, Carly Rae Jepsen and Solange. But I have to ask, have you heard of Blood Orange? Dev Hynes, the man behind the stage name, has written and produced for some of the music industry’s top artists, including the previously listed musicians.

Dev Hynes started in the dance-punk trio, called Test Icicles (an interesting name choice, to say the least). They released their first album, For Screening Purposes Only, in 2005. The album was praised for its uniqueness and grew in popularity in the indie music scene. Despite the success of their first album, the group never put out a second one. Only a year after their first album, 2006 marked the end of Test Icicles. In an interview with NME, Haynes said, “We were never, ever that keen on the music.”  

After the trio split apart, Dev Hynes didn’t become Blood Orange overnight. In 2008, he became Lightspeed Champion, releasing his first album, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, a melancholy album much different from his previous work. Hynes released a second album under Lightspeed Champion, titled Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You. Both albums were well-received for their production and songwriting quality. Around this time, Hynes started picking up a lot more attention.  

2011 was the year that marked Hynes’s switch from Lightspeed Champion to the infamous Blood Orange. In August of the same year, Coastal Grooves was his first album released under this new identity. Although the names were different, Hynes maintained his alternative music style. However, Blood Orange has more of a classic R&B/soul sound with plenty of layered synthesizers to pull it all together.  

Hynes’s talent speaks for itself. However, with the help of social media, Blood Orange’s music found a new audience. TikTok has provided a platform for many musical artists. Because of the app’s high number of users and quick video-sharing style, musicians have found fame and recognition thanks to TikTok. Blood Orange’s song, “Charcoal Baby,” became a popular song to feature in TikTok video edits. One of the most liked edits (23.0k likes to be exact) is a Gone Girl x American Psycho mash-up that’s amassed 142.3k views. A Coraline edit featuring the song received 53.9k views and almost three thousand likes.  

TikTok aside, Blood Orange currently has 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify (this number seems to keep growing). On YouTube, the music video for “Charcoal Baby” reached 2.9 million views. Although these numbers are impressive, I think they should be higher (I’m biased, I’ll admit). Blood Orange has a similar music style to Tame Impala, but they’re getting nearly 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify compared to the 3 million stated earlier. Heck, Blood Orange even remixed Tame Impala’s hit song, “Borderline.” Hynes’s artistry needs more hype.  

Let’s take a step back to talk about Hynes’s hit song, “Charcoal Baby.” Yes, the base drop makes an epic video edit, but the song is so much more than that. The message behind the lyrics and music video is just as powerful as the instrumental behind it. The song begins with a spoken Janet Mock quote, “You ask me what family is, and I think of family as community. I think of the spaces where you don’t have to shrink yourself, where you don’t have to pretend or to perform…” 

“Charcoal Baby” sends a message of unity. You get to choose the family you want and you’re never alone. At the start of the song, Hynes sings, “When you wake up/It’s not the first thing that you wanna know/Can you still count/All of the reasons that you’re not alone?” This song is beautiful. The combination of trumpet, flute, bass, and synths all work together perfectly. It makes you feel like the music is wrapping you in a hug, which is very comforting and relaxing. In a sense, you feel like you’re not alone, which is exactly what the song suggests. If you’re looking to add a vibey song to your playlist, I suggest this one: 

Hynes has performed with award-winning composer, Philip Glass, at Carnegie Hall (yeah, you heard that right, Carnegie Hall). Interestingly, Hynes grew up classically trained, and he has mentioned that classical music is what he mainly listens to. In 2019, Hynes released his first classical album, Fields.  

Blood Orange has an impressive resume when it comes to collaborations. Just within the past year, Blood Orange and Paul McCartney put out the song, “Deep Down.” You know Paul McCartney, a member of one of the most successful boy bands of all time (cough, The Beatles).  

Other notable mentions of artists Dev Hynes has worked with include Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, Nelly Furtado, FKA Twigs and ASAP Rocky (and that’s just to name a few). 

Although Blood Orange has gained well-deserved recognition of its own, Dev Hynes has been a prominent songwriter and producer in the industry for years now. Most people don’t know about the geniuses behind their favorite songs. You can hear the passion and talent in every song Hynes touches. His uniqueness and broad skill set will make him a driving force in the industry for years to come. If you haven’t listened to his music yet, what are you waiting for? 


Why Are There So Many Men in Hardcore?

Most of us have heard about how punk originated in the 1970s, but often overlooked is the hardcore subgenre. Hardcore came out later within the decade as a result of the rise in popularity that punk music ushered in. Bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat were often considered classic punk bands that helped shape hardcore into its own subgenre. Following along in the footsteps of the punk movements, these scenes were very focused on breaking social norms and allowing everyone a safe space to express themselves, no matter a person’s race, gender, or sexual orientation. From the 80s to the 2010s, hardcore was barely a blimp on the musical radar outside of intimate shows within tight-knit communities. Music was being made, and artists were gaining recognition, but until recently, these contributions and recognitions were not being recognized or acknowledged by anyone outside of these small groups. 

One of the most significant factors that led to hardcore’s popularity is the DIY ethic within the scene. Hosting house shows, playing in intimate spaces, and building local communities helped bring new people into the scene and helped keep people around. This specific scene was also built upon keeping a safe space for people who may have been outcasts in “normal” society or people with alternative lifestyles. In a similar fashion to punk, the motto has always been to be a welcoming place for everyone to have fun and be a part of a community of others who also do not fit in. One of the biggest ways that many people found a place within hardcore was through the “straight-edge” community. People who are straight-edge live a lifestyle where they completely abstain from recreational drugs and alcohol usage. This is a hugely popular lifestyle for a lot of hardcore musicians and fans alike, and many spaces are accommodating and safe for them. However, they are not the focus of this and there is a big issue within hardcore that I’m concerned with. 

When I first started listening to hardcore music, I was enjoying the music and discovery of all these cool bands, but I had a big question as I kept diving in: where are all the women? Not even just women, but anyone who isn’t a man, because there seems to be close to none. There’s an article published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies that talked about this phenomenon. Women were rarely on stage performing and the audiences at these shows were largely male-dominated spaces. This journal was published in 2012, but over a decade later, not much has changed. Sound and Fury, a hardcore music festival in southern California, held about 5,000 people at an outdoor event to see bands who are gaining popularity within the hardcore and punk scenes. However, when looking through the lineup, there were very few non-men performers. I’ve attended a few local hardcore shows within Illinois, and most of the acts I’ve seen have been all male performers and the crowds have also been largely male-dominated. There’s plenty of non-men online who are constantly talking about hardcore music and supporting each other within the scene, but I also know that there are quite a few people who are apprehensive for various reasons. Through experience and speaking to others, there’s some ways that hardcore scenes need to be adjusted to make the space more welcoming, and really promote the message that everyone is welcome and safe to be here. 

One of the ways that non-men can be invited into hardcore would be to make it clear that they are welcome.  One of the biggest ways to make people feel more welcome would be to encourage a safe scene by condemning abusers and de-platforming them. Hardcore and pop-punk have an accountability problem where friends of abusers love to protect their friends with a “well they’ve always been good to me” kind of mindset and allow them to remain within the scene with little to no real consequences. Since non-men make up the majority of assault victims, I completely understand the apprehension to attend shows where abusers may be present or spend money and time listening to artists who are abusers themselves. Adults are free to make their own decisions, and people aren’t perfect, but if you are someone who wants to create and encourage a safer space, one of the easiest steps to take is to get rid of the people who make it unsafe. 

Another huge way to welcome marginalized groups within hardcore would be to promote the talented bands made up of these people. You don’t need to intentionally only listen to bands with non-men in them for “diversity,” but if you explore social media and musician pages like Bandcamp and Spotify, you’re bound to find some really cool bands that aren’t just white men. My favorite thing to do is search through the “Fans Also Like” section on Spotify because I can find some new music, and there are a ton of underground and less popular bands and artists in these sections just waiting to be discovered. When I found artists who I could relate to, singing about things that I understood, I felt represented and seen, which made me really want to continue supporting those artists. There’s something for everyone, and I highly encourage branching out because you might find your new favorite band right in your own city or state. 

Hardcore has a bright future ahead, and the scene is growing larger everyday. Sound and Fury festival in southern California was held at the biggest venue it’s ever had. This scene is also expanding into punk and rock, with bands like Drug Church, Anxious, and Koyo being brought on tours and introducing people to more hardcore music. However, the scene is not going to get bigger if it continues to be only a safe space for men. There needs to be a serious culture shift, and it needs to be widely adopted across each local scene and in the larger music scene as a whole. Rock, punk, and alternative have consistently been promoting women in rock for the last few years, and it’s time for hardcore to step up and join them. There’s no need to become mainstream if there isn’t a desire to, but there is a need and a want to make the people who are already hardcore fans feel more represented and welcome within. 

I’ve included a playlist with some of my favorite hardcore acts featuring people from marginalized groups with a special focus on non-men.

If you’re looking for some bands to start with or just want some new music, this is for you! 

Lily Hoveke | Music Columnist (they/them)

Hi, I’m Lily! I’m currently studying sociology and psychology, and I’m really passionate about music. I have a collection of plants and love to read in my spare time. When I’m not writing, you can probably find me at a concert, or anywhere that has iced coffee! | @lily.0802

AJ Gardner | Photographer (they/them)

My name is AJ. If I’m not taking pictures at a live show I’m playing roadie, trying to help find venues to book, or performing myself! In school, I am studying to be a teacher for blind students. Unlearning ableism and creating accessible environments are things I am passionate about and I am always open to new perspectives. | @ajdgphotography | Portfolio


At Face Value’s Latest LP Requires Closer Look

By Ryan Cox

Baltimore-based pop punk group At Face Value’s newest endeavor has fully cemented them into the contemporary emo-revival scene. Packed with dramatic breakdowns and memorable hooks, Clouds Are My Neighbors emphasizes modern pop stylings without completely sacrificing instrumental complexity. The album is a cleanly-produced salute to genre pioneers such as All Time Low and A Day to Remember (they both start with A?) that tap into the part of you that never wants to grow up.

At first glance, this newer release reveals little to the listener. The album cover almost suggests an electronic sound with the glitched-out figure in the middle. Zooming in closer reveals a bird’s-eye view of an urban cityscape embedded within the effect overlaying the man’s neck pillowed silhouette. It’s a really cool cover design; I hope they end up doing physical releases since the scaled-down version we see on Spotify doesn’t really do it justice. After pressing play, you begin to get a feel for what the group is really about: hooks and breakdowns à la Sum 41.

The band is very in sync on this record; every instrument gets a chance to shine at least once which makes the listening experience more personal. The vocals are expressive, soaring high above the rest of the mix and taking the listener along with them for the journey. The thunderous drums keep the tracks lively and energetic and make for an impressively consistent performance. “Distress Signal” really showcases the band at its peak.

Lyrically, we get a dynamic range of themes across the record with equally varying degrees of success. The lyrics are hedonistic at times, relishing those summer nights spent with friends drinking away your problems. Sometimes, they’re longing and passionate, reflecting on the regret of losing someone you once loved. Other times, the themes are inconsistent with what the rest of the band is playing. The track “Analysis Paralysis” exemplifies this. The song is about the woes of social anxiety and rumination over past mistakes, but the instrumental’s poppy progression and upbeat tempo masks this sort of theme. However, other songs contain genuinely insightful observations, such as “Walk Away.” The vocalist’s dejection about the end of the relationship is skillfully mirrored by the rest of the band.

The more punk-centric songs follow a pattern of tension-and-release, writing melodies and verses around a powerful and kinetic hook. Though it works especially well on songs like “Swim” and “Three Days,” others feel as though they are padding time until they reach the breakdown. This paradoxically makes that explosive hook feel less deserved and undermines its intensity. While the destination of the song is always important, it is the journey there that makes it rewarding. If this was better acknowledged, I feel there would be more memorable moments, as there are many tracks that left little to no impression.

It is apparent that the group is eager to wear its influences loud and proud. The recurring love-musings through a high pass filter and twinkly guitar riffs adhere strongly to the scene with which they identify. Though it makes a strong statement about their creative intentions, their performance feels restrained as a result. With such skilled musicianship, you’d want some room for experimentation so you can see what they are truly capable of. Sadly, there isn’t really any creative flare. At one point, I thought the beeping in the beginning of “I’ll Wake Up on the Otherside” would become a part of the track’s rhythm as the drums began to synchronize with it, but I was left disappointed when the sample cut out as the verse hit. Not many liberties are taken, and what you’re left with is a polished, carefully rehearsed tribute to a bygone era.

At its best, Clouds Are My Neighbors instills the same rebellious attitude that pop punk bands of the late-00’s did. At its worst, it leaves us unaffected and wanting more. Overall, not a bad album, but I definitely blinked at least 182 times while listening.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Songs that made it into my playlist:
  • Swim
  • Walk Away
Songs that made me grimace:
  • Sloptart
  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Pulling Teeth

What Are You Listening To: A Playlist of ISU

By Sarah Levin

It was a boiling hot, sweaty, and excruciating day within the Illinois State University campus. White Noise editor Izzy Braico and White Noise music columnist Sarah Levin (me) hurdled towards the infamous Bone Student Center to ask people the most creative question on planet Earth … a question that has never been asked before on a college campus … 

What are you listening to?

I asked five students, each with an extremely similar taste. These were the results. 


This track off My Chemical Romances’ 2002 debut album “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love” oozes with angst in the best way. As someone who, surprisingly, was never a huge MCR fan, I appreciate the gems hidden throughout their earlier works. Let’s be real here, MCR is arguably one of the most influential bands of the 2000s. Listen, I’m not going to write paragraphs about the impact MCR has had on music… just go to any social media platform ever made and they will do just that for you. Instead, I’ve decided to tear this song apart that an innocent ISU student was just listening to while doing their homework outside of The Bone Student Center. 

Infamously, this track was born after lead singer Gerard Way witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks firsthand. Way emphasized that he was inspired to create My Chemical Romance to spread a sense of togetherness after the tragedies. While also using music to cope with the mental scarring caused by the attacks, “Skylines and Turnstiles” expresses the process of collective grief and shock. 

The song begins with a powerful guitar riff that calls out to be heard. It pierces my headphones in the best way possible; as if it was made to be played in an arena. Way’s vocals supply the perfect mixture of anger masked within the music and energy that cannot be fully contained. The lyrics yearn to be known by the listener.

“We walk in single file, we light our rails, and punch our time / Ride escalators colder than a cell”

The subtle nature of this song creates the distinguished absence of performativity. This is not a 9/11 song that is meant to bring out toxic nationalism, like some music negatively accomplished after the attacks. “Skylines and Turnstiles” personalizes grief in such a way that connects with the listener and begs to be heard.

Although I’m still not a MCR “stan” by any means, I can appreciate that this 3 minute and 23 second song is relevant enough to cause people to jam out around their college campuses all while being pestered by random music columnists on a sweaty Tuesday afternoon. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Yes, this is the song that is blowing up on TikTok, and yes, it slays. As it’s known, trends stem from reworking the past decades in postmodern ways. A decade ago we saw the reimagining of the 1980’s aesthetic, with jean jackets coming back in full swing and 80’s inspired music swinging back into action with musicians like Bleachers, The Killers, The 1975. Around five years ago, 90’s inspired bubblegum pop formed a new wave hyperpop, which was caused by the resurgence of 90’s inspired fashion making a return. As we continue to remodel cultural trends, it is apparent that the “y2k” aesthetic is in full force, but this time with a maximalist twist.

However, the year 2000 feels like it was far too recent for music to use it as inspiration. Why make new y2k music when we can go to Spotify and listen to Britney Spears? “B.O.T.A” is so damn catchy because it is refurbished and polished in such a way that gives us the perfect amount of y2k nostalgia while still being fresh. This track gives listeners what they want – it feeds our daydreams of clubbing in the year 2003, solidifying our Myspace account, flipping our phones shut after use.

Ahhh, missing a time when I was literally a toddler

Artist Eliza Rose spoke to NME about the success of the track, saying “[B.O.T.A] was a bit too cutesy: I liked that element because I wanted that ‘90s nostalgia, but then I felt it needed some grittiness, too.” Rose explains exactly how I feel about this track. The grit and rebellion of the early 2000s mixed with the cuteness of the 90s comes together to produce a 2022 dance anthem that has stormed social media and enhances what hopes to be the newest, upcoming trend: fun music.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


The rise of female rap in the last ten years is astonishing. Dallas rapper Asian Doll comes from a childhood of struggle, with poverty and parental figures in and out of prison. This struggle, along with overcoming it, makes her bad bitch energy even more encouraging. This specific song has the ongoing theme of having one’s eyes on the prize and prioritizing success, with verses recognizing the mindset that females have to go through within the music industry.

The new trope of emphasizing money and success over finding a man entertains the new wave of femininity that gives power back to women. Women, especially entertainers, can exist without pleasing a man’s ego. However, with this new wave comes the notion of women supporting women, which is extremely positive. The thing about this song that I dislike is the lack of lyricism about women support.

Any bitch got a problem, we can match off / Shorty said she was real, take that Mac off / Same city, same hood, bitch, you mad fraud”

Now here is where I draw the line. Ragging on other women because of the amount of “Mac” she wears goes against the entire revolution of new wave femininity. Bullying women based on the amount of makeup they wear is purely internalized misogyny. Instead of using energy to hate on other women, we can collectively hate on deserving men. Rappers like Megan Thee Stallion and Lizzo are great examples of making music that uplifts women without tearing others down. I understand that Asian Doll is a newer rapper, and she has to appease the patriarchy to make her mark. Yet, her potential is unmatched and she obviously has the talent to prove that.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Look, I thought it would be funny to review a baseball podcast, but then I listened to exactly 2 minutes of a 2 hour long podcast and thought to myself, hell no. As someone who grew up with an older brother who was (and still is) obsessed with the White Sox, I’ve heard enough baseball statistics in the hallways of my childhood. I would fight over the FM radio while my brother would beg to listen to the game on the scratchy, hoarse AM channel covering some other ball game. Now as I listened to this podcast, I realized that I do not know jack shit about this sport. I know embarrassingly nothing about it, to be honest. The baseball podcast started speaking on the Yankees – original, right? They mentioned something about how the Yankees are good, or bad, or good, I don’t know, I really don’t know baseball. I think they started explaining their differing opinions or something. Then, they started explaining their similar opinions on the same team. Then, they differed again. This must’ve gone on for hours…. HOURS.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


This track on West’s “Jesus is King” is notably inspired by Christian themes of purity, honor, and respect for a higher deity. Sung by songwriter Ant Clemons, “Water” is simplistic and forward. With a smooth bassline clearly inspired by psychedelic rock and the overarching use of gospel music, this track metaphorically describes the nature of the liquid element and its power. 

Now, Kanye West is a public figure that causes people to have many, many differing opinions. His sudden and semi-unexpected religion fascination in 2019 with the album “Jesus Is King” sourced Christian values as a major inspiration for West. As for this song and my own personal opinion on it, it’s good! It’s good in the sense that it expresses a love for religion in a way that is respectful, catchy, and somewhat universal. However, knowing West has a radical past, it is hard to fully take the song “seriously.” West’s turn to religion seems hypocritical to me, at least, since he is a man who has many wildly secular beliefs, like materialism and consumerism. In an interview with Zane Lowe, reviewed by Joe Price of Complex Magazine, “[West] revealed that he asked people working on Jesus Is King with him to not have premartial sex while working on the project.” 

Just like that, West takes it too far. Yet, all radicalism aside, “Water” is a nice tune. It is calming due to its background noises of water flowing and the satisfying rhythm of West’s slow rap. I understand that most people listen to music for this exact reason; calmness. West makes music for this type of music consumption, good beats, nice rhythms, pleasant rhymes. I’m all for separating the art from the artist, and West is a prime example of that. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.