"Must Be Nice," the first single from Chicago band Varsity's forthcoming album Parallel Person, has a title that comprises a double meaning. The title phrase is habitually "bandied around sarcastically," says singer and keyboardist Stephanie Smith. But she says it can also be an ultimatum, as in: "I must be nice in order to be liked/noticed/not be considered a b****."
The Philly art-rock band Palm seems to delight in being collaboratively weird. Bandmates Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert bury their lyrics in singsong melodies and fractured, jittery guitar parts — both of which appear in constant, if antagonistic, communication with each other. The frenetic songs are made slightly more surefooted by bassist Gerasimos Livitanos and drummer Hugo Stanley, but the rhythm section's confrontational energy often undermines its own attempts at stability.
"The value of Death," wrote songwriter Sean Bean, of Boston's Bad History Month, in a dense, intimate introduction to new album Dead and LovingIt,"is that it's an infallibly reliable fixed point on the horizon to navigate by when I'm lost at sea."
Some of us are verbal processors, who feel like certain vexing issues just can't be solved until we've exhaustively enunciated every angle. The hope is that the act of explaining a problem aloud will draw out a perspective previously unseen; sometimes you just have to start a sentence to see where it will lead. On "Let Down," from the four-member Gingerlys, Jackie Mendoza and Colin O'Neill's call-and-response vocals feel like two sides of a conversation with the self, an attempt to sketch the contours of tangled relationship in search of a way out.