Chasing Fridays: Candy, Spirit of the Beehive, Midwife, and more

I review a hardcore album that caught me off guard, and then dig into new singles from two of my faves. Plus, a couple deeper recs.

Chasing Fridays: Candy, Spirit of the Beehive, Midwife, and more

Heyo, it's Friday, and you know what that means for Chasing Sundays. Well, maybe you don't, because I actually didn't publish an edition of Chasing Fridays — my weekly round-up of music criticism and (sometimes) gig reviews — the last two weeks. I was traveling and away from my computer for one of those, and then last week I instead used the Friday slot to publish My Favorite and Least Favorite Music of 2024 (so far).

This week, Chasing Fridays returns. I haven't actually seen live music since I caught the Knocked Loose tour in late May, which is an abnormally long showgoing drought for me. However, this weekend I'll be seeing Kim Gordon, and then the following week I'll be catching six or seven shows in an eight-day span, so you'll surely get to read about some of those in the corresponding edition of Chasing Fridays.

This week, I wrote a review of the bonkers new Candy album, one of the coolest hardcore records I've heard this year. Then, I dove into new tracks by Spirit of the Beehive and Midwife, and chased that with some slowcore/bedroom-pop recommendations. Check it all out below.

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Candy - It's Inside You

Candy are in a weird place in hardcore right now. In the late 2010s, they were one of the trendiest, most cutting-edge bands in the scene, playing a form of staticky, sleazy hardcore that was cool and arty enough to get them eyes at music publications, but still hard enough to earn approval from the mosherati. Their 2018 LP, Good to Feel, is one of few late-2010s hardcore LP's that feels like a consensus classic, but the band lost a lot of their momentum over COVID lockdown, and have since felt on the wrong side of a generation gap.

In the post-COVID era being ruled by Mindforce, Drain, Sunami, etc., Candy's cryptic Integrity-core feels a little out of step, and their ear-achingly abrasive 2022 return album, Heaven Is Here, seemed to earn them more shrugs than nods from a hardcore landscape that just wants dancing music. Heaven Is Here seemed to do well among 35-year-olds who still think Full of Hell are at the forefront of the genre (fwiw I liked the album), but I wondered if Candy's time as a vanguard hardcore act was in the past, and I wasn't exactly hankering to hear the singles from this new album, It's Inside You. Once I heard the record, though, I was pleasantly surprised that a) this album fucking rules and b) it doesn't sound like a dejected course-correction.

The industrial-metal elements that Candy brought into the fold on Heaven Is Here are still present, and the band aren't compromising on their experimental tendencies. "Love Like Snow," featuring moody clean vocals from Fleshwater singer Mirsy and Matrix OST production from electronic producer mmph, is an achingly pretty industrial-pop tune that sounds like if MSPAINT wrote a song for the Crow reboot. The next track, "Dehumanize Me," is spliced with mechanized drums, post-apocalyptic feedback, squelchy basslines, and lyrics about "mechanical warfare," but the groove is still chuggy enough for anyone to able to mosh to. The push-pull between chemical spill blast-beats and lurching mosh grooves is what made Good to Feel so enduring, and It's Inside You has the same structural momentum — except the poles are even more extreme.

"Short-Circuit" and "Faith 91" boast the most knuckle-dragging parts they've ever written, and they're sure to satisfy dancefloor denizens who were left scrambling by the freakishly immobile blazes on Heaven Is Here. Like all hardcore albums that reach the 30-minute mark, I think the last gulp of It's Inside You is challenging to swig, and the one-two finale, "Dancing to the Infinite Beat" and "Hypercore," sound more like drum 'n' bass remixes than conclusive album cuts. Even if I don't find myself completing the record on every go-around, I'm happy that Candy found a way to challenge themselves with unconventional songwriting, while also delivering the floor-snapping breakdowns and flame-throwing riffs that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

Spirit of the Beehive - "Let the Virgin Drive"

You ever hear a song and think, "Hm...I don't know if I like this." And then you listen again and think, " not for me." And then you listen again. Because you care so deeply about the band's back catalog that you feel they deserve however much effort it takes to, if not enjoy, then at least understand what they're doing now. But then you still don't quite get what they're going for. You ever have that experience? That was me with this new Spirit of the Beehive song.

And then later that night, many hours after I'd run through "Let the Virgin Drive," as I lay my head down on the pillow, I heard that weird-ass auto-tuned voice from the chorus pinging around my cranium. The voice — sung in an entirely different key from the main hook, I believe — that I had found irritating and perplexingly disruptive to the song's flow the first few times I heard it. A voice I straight-up didn't like, that I almost felt ruined the song. Yeah, that voice was stuck in my head, and it remained there the next morning when I stepped into the shower. And it remains there right now as I'm writing this. And now I like it. I like the whole song, actually.

Spirit of the Beehive's music has never just rewarded repeated listens — it's demanded it. Their 2017 LP, Pleasure Suck, intrigued me from the jump, but it took north of 20 go-arounds to fully make sense of its bipolar flow; ecstatic pop songs sustain for one verse or chorus and then veer off-road into busted-muffler shoegaze or droopy slowcore. It's a record that dangles its fruits above your mouth yet rarely lets you take a bite, and 2021's Entertainment, Death has the same dynamic. Hypnic Jerks, their 2018 psych-pop/shoegaze masterpiece, is a half-step more "accessible," and I hear some of its Deerhunter-y warbles in the Byrds-iest moments on "Let the Virgin Drive."

But then there's that middle section where the whole song deconstructs into a puddle of kaleidoscopic mutters and oblique samples. I still don't get that part. To me, it almost ruins the song. I can't wait to feel completely differently about it when I crawl into bed tonight. That's the rush of being a Spirit of the Beehive fan.

Midwife - "Killdozer"

The easiest artist to compare Midwife to is Grouper. Clearly, Midwife mastermind Madeline Johnston is indebted to the ghastly drone-folk of Liz Harris. Most people would call Grouper autumnal music, and imagine most Midwife fans feel the same way about hers. For me, Midwife is summer music. There's a sticky, humid quality in her delay/reverb-ridden vocals that evoke the feeling of trying to fall asleep in a stuffy room without air conditioning. It sounds like sitting by a late-night bonfire that's about five degrees hotter than it needs to be on a 71-degree evening, and the sweat on your arms is attracting mosquitoes.

That's what Midwife's music makes me think of, and this new song "Killdozer" is no exception. It's one of the most wearily tuneful tracks I've heard her sing, a foggy hymn built around simple acoustic guitar strums, a filmy piano lead, and Johnston's black-and-white coos. A few summers back, I listened to Midwife's 2021 album Luminol while romping around through the brush behind the lake house my family stays at in upstate, NY, and the music just made so much sense to me in that context. I can't wait to do the same thing while listening to "Killdozer."

Joyer - Night Songs

Some good tunes on here! This band are finally coming into their own after some sluggish slowcore albums that didn't pique my interest in this incredibly saturated field. "Wake Up" is what I wish Horse Jumper of Love sounded like, and "Star" is a wistful folk-rocker that kind of reminds me of Dehd. Now I need to see this band live to see if they truly have the juice, but I'm much hotter on this than I was prior Joyer releases. ​

Hooky - Mirage

We recently did an episode of Endless Scroll about Julia's War, the outside-the-box DIY label helmed by They Are Gutting a Body of Water frontman Doug Dulgarian, who've issued many of the most crucial shoegaze projects of the 2020s. It was a fun excuse for me to dive deeper into their prolific catalog and listen to some stuff I hadn't heard, and this Hooky album from earlier this year stuck out. The duo make fizzy, lo-fi indie-pop that sounds like if Alex G made music on broken children's toys. Obtuse but still infectiously catchy, it's a refreshing take on a style of bedroom-y slow-gaze that's absolutely seeping out of the underground these days. If you wish Joyer were kookier, or if Alex G still sounded like he did in the DSU era, check this out.