(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 115: Whitney’s Playland

Whitney’s Playland

Whitney’s Playland is the pandemic-era project of Inna Showalter and George Tarlson, longtime friends and veterans of the music scene (Grandma’s Boyfriend, Blades of Joy, Modern Charms).Whitney’s Playland is named after a defunct amusement park at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. Inna Showalter and George Tarlson met in high school in SF’s Sunset district when Inna sang in the choir and George played in the orchestra. Having worked together on previous projects, they reunited with their new LP Sunset Sea Breeze recently released on vinyl by Meritorio Records and cassette by Paisley Shirt Records (all cassette orders come with extra tape A Day At The Fair Demos and B Sides). The backdrop is 90’s and 00’s college radio, interspersing acoustic and distortion, synthetic orchestra and the like. Their music is about the usual things in life: love and loss, sometimes with a wry and sardonic angle. The result is a dreamy pop landscape reminiscent of Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, The Sundays, and Dinosaur Jr. The band expanded into a four-piece in late 2022 with the addition of Evan Showalter and Paul DeMartini.

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(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 114: Panic Pocket

Panic Pocket (©Carl Farrugia)

Panic Pocket are long-term BFFs Sophie Peacock (synth and vocals) and Natalie Healey (guitar and vocals). They formed the band in 2017 for London’s First Timers Festival and soon became a DIY sensation, releasing their debut EP Never Gonna Happen with Reckless Yes in 2019.
Panic Pocket are recognised for their cathartic musical storytelling, wry sense of humour and undeniable charm. For their first album, Mad Half Hour (out tomorrow, May 26th), the British duo have found a new home at Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey’s Skep Wax. Expect indie-punk-pop exuberance, monster hooks, killer harmonies and lyrics that are so truthful they hurt. “Me and Rob first heard Panic Pocket during lockdown and played their first single again and again.” says Skep Wax co-founder Amelia Fletcher (Heavenly/Catenary Wires/Swansea Sound) of their newest signing. “We were delighted that they wanted to do their first album with us – and agreed to play live with us at the Heavenly shows in May. Panic Pocket know how to turn anger and humour into brilliant pop songs.”

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(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 113: Alex Pester

Alex Pester

At just twenty-two years old, Alex Pester has already established himself as a prolific singer-songwriter hailing from Bath, England. He has released three albums to date (Devotion, 2019, Seasons, 2020 and Lover’s Leap, 2021) each displaying his immense talent as a musician and songwriter. Influenced by the Incredible String Band, the Beatles, Robert Wyatt, Animal Collective, Harry Nilsson, and The Microphones, among others, his music has been described as dreamlike, hypnotic, and magical.
Better Days, his fourth album, will be out on Violette Records on May, 26th. It is Pester’s most accomplished work yet, showcasing his mature songwriting, complex arrangements, and exquisite attention to detail. The album features ten songs that range from instrumentation with vintage sounds to storytelling passages to suggestive sound experiments and acoustic caresses.

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(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 112: Lisa/Liza

Lisa/Liza (by Alexa Clavette)

Lisa/Liza is the songwriting project of Liza Victoria, developed within Maine’s strange and wonderful DIY music scene. She has toured nationally with Jens Lekman and Advance Base and shared bills with Angel Olsen, Kaki King, Lucy Dacus, and Julie Byrne. Lisa/Liza’s catalog spans ten years, with The First Museum, her debut album, out in 2014, three albums on Orindal Records (Deserts of Youth in 2016, Momentary Glance in 2018 and Shelter of a Song in 2020), a single released through Mexican Summer’s Looking Glass, and a spate of self-released home recordings. Her songwriting invites traditional folk guitar-playing and lyricism into dream-like domains, directing memory’s imperfections toward restoration and healing. Her latest album, Breaking and Mending, out April 28, again on Orindal Records, the heavy, open-ended waltzes of her past work assume a more linear form, as Lisa/Liza carries on her tradition of shedding light on personal trauma and life’s greater mysteries through song. Questions about love and the natural world are met with moments of clarity, sparked by recollections of Judee Sill or John Prine. Above all, Breaking and Mending deals in dualities and the beauty of self-reconstruction, as carefully underlined in the opening track Felt Twice: “They tell me/ the body minds/ they said that, the mind was the body, Well each time that I fell, I felt twice, What else can I tell everybody?

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(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 111: The National Honor Society

National Honor Society

Seattle indiepop band The National Honor Society found themselves facing the problem of isolation. In 2020 they recorded their debut album, To All The Glory We Never Had, which was well-received. So what to do for the follow-up, when the world is forced into isolation? “This was a new process for everyone in the band as it was the first time any of us had recorded an album remotely,” says frontman Coulter Leslie. “Having always historically gone to studios, there was the fear that maybe that unique studio magic or energy wouldn’t be there, but what we found was that the unlimited time we had to record our parts really allowed us to explore ideas and to go in different directions that we might have, had the clock had been ticking. So I think that’s why you’ll hear a little more adventure in this record as compared to our first.” Thus was born To All The Distance Between Us, released April 10th via Shelflife/Discos de Kirlian/Subjangle Records, an album that carries on the band’s formula of dreamy pop and rock. The National Honor Society is Coulter Leslie (Lead vocals, guitars), Jerry Peerson (Lead guitar, backing vocals) Andrew Gaskin (Bass, backing vocals), and Will Hallauer (Drums).

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