Pressing Concerns: Leor Miller’s Fear of Her Own Desire, Charles the Obtuse, Low Praise, Dan Lurie

Welcome to the Thursday edition of Pressing Concerns! Today we’ve got four brand new records to talk about: albums from Leor Miller’s Fear of Her Own Desire, Low Praise, and Dan Lurie, and an EP from Charles the Obtuse. It’s been a busy week on Rosy Overdrive: on Monday, we looked at new albums from Daisies and The Ashenden Papers as well as reissues from Heavenly and Pigeon Pit, and on Wednesday I shared my thoughts on a bunch of albums from 1981 that I listed to for the first time ever last month.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can visit the site directory to see what else we’ve written about lately. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

Leor Miller’s Fear of Her Own Desire – Eternal Bliss Now!

Release date: May 19th
Record label: Candlepin
Genre: Experimental pop, lo-fi indie rock, dream pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: We Don’t Fuck

I’ve written a lot about Candlepin Records on this blog over the past year, as the cassette label has put out a lot of great contemporary 90s indie rock-inspired music as of late. Their latest release is maybe the most adventurous one I’ve heard yet from them. Leor Miller is a New York-based singer-songwriter who’s been making noisy, hazy rock music on her own for several years now–there’s a ton of EPs and albums on her Bandcamp page dating back a decade. Eternal Bliss Now! is mostly a guitar-based album, but it’s not one that lives entirely in the world of indie rock. I can hear how Miller has been inspired by non-rock genres (hip hop, electronica, and hyperpop, per her bio) in presenting these songs, even as she approaches them from an indie rock perspective.

“Crown of Thorns / Cacophony of Birds” opens Eternal Bliss Now! with one of the most electronic moments, a blaring piece of psychedelic synthpop that nevertheless features Miller’s surreal words front and center. Single “We Don’t Fuck” follows it up with an eerie, frayed take on bedroom rock (it feels wrong to call a song that opens with “We don’t fuck / But I give birth to myself in your truck” a pop song, but that’s what it is). Miller explores some lo-fi indie rock in the middle of the record with the slowcore-ish “Shrieking Matter” and the wobbly “Marijuana Goldmine”. “Sunrise” is the song that rivals the album opener in its use of electronic elements–Miller’s AutoTuned vocals and piano-synths place this somewhere between today’s pop music and that of the 1980s.

It’s towards the end of Eternal Bliss Now! that I think Miller really hones in on what the record’s title is doing (and it seems, at this moment, that it’s also key to note that her moniker is “Leor Miller’s Fear of Her Own Desire”). “I Don’t Wanna” is the album’s quiet, acoustic sort-of-title track, and the way Miller lets the song float on for five minutes really allows the unapologetic nature of her simple realizations be understood. The song begins with Miller discussing what she wants and doesn’t want for herself (like the line that gives the album its title), and she ends by landing on “We need freedom”. Miller closes the album by continuing this thread on “Become One”, a song that encourages, and in fact argues for the necessity of, probing beyond one’s self in order to realize one’s self. “You and I are gonna find the truth / One day you and I’ll become one from two”. (Bandcamp link)

Charles the Obtuse – Charles the Obtuse

Release date: May 15th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Synthpop, indie pop
Formats: Digital
Pull Track:  I’m Glad He’s Dead

Charles the Obtuse is Charlie Wilmoth, the West Virginia-originating, Los Angeles-based professional gambler whom Rosy Overdrive’s readers will know from his work with power pop group FOX Japan and synthpop duo Oblivz. The five song Charles the Obtuse EP is his first work as a solo artist, and his first entirely electronic project. It picks up the more synth-based thread that Wilmoth had been exploring on his last two records (Oblivz’s Uplifts and Managers EPs), but he doesn’t have guitarist Andrew Slater to lean on here. Charles the Obtuse’s songs are brief (they range from about one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minutes), and Wilmoth’s stated influence of The Magnetic Fields’ The Wayward Bus is borne out here–these are not dense psychedelic soundscapes so much as discreet synth-based pop songs that get busy, but not overwhelmingly so.

Wilmoth may be experimenting with the instrumental side of his songwriting, but Charles the Obtuse’s songs are packed with plenty of lyrical subjects and themes that will be familiar to longtime listeners–soulless capitalism, suburban decay, paranoia, and at least one potential horror movie plot. “Gated Community” is a Wilmoth all-timer, the narrator observing a ritual sacrifice while mainly feeling glad that it’s not his lawn that’s getting messed up (“What happens in our gated community / Stays inside our gated community”), and the way-too-catchy “James from the Suburbs” is a slightly-more-direct excoriation of a Type of Guy who holds all the power and capital in the world and still finds a way to whine about it (the last non-chorus line, which I’m absolutely not going to quote here, is my favorite one). 

The always-moving scammers in “Better Come Up” are served well by that instant, over- the-top synth explosion in the chorus, while the curious, drum machine-pounding “Feeling My Way Around” is the one song where Wilmoth hints at what a Charles the Obtuse record that wasn’t as intently focused on being immediate might sound like. Still, the EP ends on one last killer pop song, the impossibly cheery “I’m Glad He’s Dead”, which has lived in my head rent-free ever since I first heard it. Wilmoth ends Charles the Obtuse by explicitly encouraging the listener to cheer, celebrate, and toast the death of some asshole (deliberately kept vague, so you can break this one out on any number of occasions). It’s both a good argument and a good soundtrack for such a party. (Bandcamp link)

Low Praise – Dressing

Release date: May 19th
Record label: Medium Friends
Genre: Post-punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Forget That It’s Summer

Low Praise are an Oakland-based post-punk trio made up of guitarist/vocalist Chris Stevens, baritone guitarist/vocalist Warren Woodward, and drummer Andrew Marcogliese. The band released a couple of EPs in the late 2010s, but Dressing is their COVID-delayed full-length debut album, and what they’ve finally put out is a lean piece of post-punk-influenced rock music that flexes its power trio muscle. Dressing has a garage band energy, and it doesn’t fall cleanly into the “Devo-core/egg punk” or “low-voiced guy with brute force backing music” camps that mark most modern post-punk groups. Dressing is pleasingly varied, jumping from downcast 90s indie rock-sounding moments to perky, locked-in dance punk, but the band don’t lose their energy throughout the album.

Dressing kicks things off with the rhythmic “Forget That It’s Summer”, a rhythmic, hypnotic, and inspired piece of post-punk that sets a high opening bar. Although Low Praise don’t revert to dance-punk that cleanly again on the record, it informs some of the other tracks, like the glam-flavored “Supermind” or the nervous-sounding closing track “Entertainment”. Elsewhere on the album, Low Praise show off their garage rock side, like in the roaring “Gate”, and the mid-tempo “Angela” is probably what their idea of pop music is. Some of Dressing’s best moments come in some of the less immediate songs, like “Time Is Calling” and “No Way”, which are really just some rock-solid indie rock guitar jams. These songs don’t go out of their way to be accessible, but Low Praise do have a way of wringing melody out of what they’re playing. (Bandcamp link)

Dan Lurie – Making Life Worthwhile

Release date: May 16th
Record label: Literal Gold
Genre: Folk rock, lo-fi indie rock, psychedelic pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: New Order of Living

Dan Lurie is a Minneapolis-originating, Portland-based singer-songwriter who’s been making home-recorded solo albums for over a decade now. Making Life Worthwhile, his latest record, is his first made in a recording studio and with an outside producer–Cameron Spies (The Shivas, Reptaliens), who also contributed synths and bass guitar to the album. Making Life Worthwhile sounds like a record really made in the studio–Lurie’s background is as a folk-influenced bedroom rocker, and that sound is present on the album, but the record also incorporates lush, vintage pop rock and even some 80s synth-led pop music.

Making Life Worthwhile starts off brilliantly with a slow-building, bubbling synth-aided indie rock anthem in “Applying the Rule of Reason”, which sets the scope for the record. The excited, bursting earnestness of “New Order of Living” continues the album’s hot opening and also features an infectious refrain. “Feeding the Intellect” is the first big left-turn moment on Making Life Worthwhile with its grooving bassline, slick delivery from Lurie, and some well-placed synth accents. On floating pop songs like “Regeneration” and “Little Grains of Sand”, Spies’ arrangements are on full display, adding several more dimensions to Lurie’s songwriting. Spies’ assistance also enables some of the weirdest moments on Making Life Worthwhile–the oddball studio pop of “Superior Superiority Super” and the synth-funk of “Exalting the Ego”. Lurie has put together a record that skillfully avoids any dull moments. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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