Behind the Hoots: February

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Braids – photo by Landon Speers

“There Are Ways To Get What You Want” – Astral Swans (Lyrics by Matthew Swann)

Kill the weakness in your mind, son. Find someone who’ll rip their heart out to give to a cold asshole like you. To a cold asshole like me too who takes, and takes, and takes. 

Matthew Swann’s bedroom door was accidentally left open by an inch and as a result we hear the songs that make up All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson. Or at least that’s what it sounds like. The crisis that we grapple with within the confines of our bedroom squeeze out from the space left by the door and sound exactly how they are meant to: bare, honest, uncertain, and complex.

Due to its length, “There Are Ways To Get What You Want” is barely an opening song. More so a brief preface that sets the album’s tone. Its graphic nature is just one example of the stark imagery that inhabits the record. As Swann sings, “…to give to a cold asshole like you,” the faint synth/guitar reverberation in the song’s background reaches its peak. The gentle, bass note heavy, guitar plucking suddenly feels hopeful and lighter. Kind of like when you realize you have found someone to save you.

– Laura Stanley 

“Old Magic” – Del Bel (Lyrics by Lisa Conway)

That old worm’s got a big, big mouth and I know he’d like to eat ya. We’ll dig you a hole in the family plot, I bet they’d all love to meet ya.


In an album full of enigmatic lyrics, Lisa Conway really grabs the listener’s attention when she goes literal. There’s a reason this lyrical couplet has been quoted in so many reviews—it’s downright scary. Several vague phrases come before this, like “How general, go gentle…” but this phrase stands out especially because the instruments drop away; it’s just Conway’s voice, and there’s nothing you can do to escape. As if the idea of being eaten by a worm (that wants to eat you, no doubt) isn’t creepy enough, Conway goes all in on the death imagery and will probably make you check under the bed before you go to sleep.

Michael Thomas

“Miniskirt” – Braids (Lyrics by Raphaelle Standell-Preston)

It’s like I’m wearing red and if I am, you feel you’ve the right to touch me. Cause I asked for it. In my little mini skirt, think you can have it? My little mini skirt, it’s mine, all mine.


It was hard to pick just one passage to highlight from “Miniskirt.” Despite her reputation as a keen musical diarist, Raphaelle Standelle-Preston’s words have never felt this deeply, bravely personal. Her lyrics take dead aim at the double-standards of body image and slut-shaming, sexual objectification, manipulation, “man-hating,” and the violences both physical and emotional that have been and continue to be perpetrated against women and families. These are things that are impossible to reduce to a hashtag or a trite euphemism. As the song builds to its chorus, the chains and weights of Standelle-Preston’s frustrations seem superheated, melted, reforged into something glowing with power.

– Chris Matei

“Universe” – Faith Healer (Lyrics by Jessica Jalbert)

Oh the universe takes you by the nape of your neck and keeps you hanging on by a thread and then whatever until your dead.


Full disclosure, I’m friends with Faith Healer.

With the driving, Velvet Underground-esque pulse & monotone delivery of Faith Healer’s “Universe”, it’s easy to accidentally glaze over the specifics of the lyrics. It’s the kind of song that can transport you, maybe to a long forgotten road trip, and you’re just watching the scenery melt away out the window, trees keeping time, traffic wizzing by, lakes evaporating. And all of a sudden Jessica Jalberts chorus hits you: “oh the universe takes you by the nape of your neck and keeps you hanging on by a thread and then whatever until your dead”.

And you might think, damn, she’s right. Truthful nihilism. Like Jalbert says, “the earth moves never ending”: we end, we hang on some thread, scrambling til we’re dead. Watching this world pass us by, with a fine view from our eyes. But what are we going to do in the meantime?

Doug Hoyer

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