Karate, Guns & Tanning, a brand-new band from the Midwest who seamlessly fuse elements of riot grrrl-influenced shoegaze, post-punk, psychedelic dream pop and new wave into one cohesive sonic force. With members hailing from Indianapolis and Louisville, the LGBTQIA-inclusive band will be self-releasing their merciless debut album ‘Concrete Beach’ on March 26th (Bandcamp pre-order).
To coincide with the announcement (and ahead of the first official single Graffiti Children on Feb 2nd), Karate, Guns & Tanning is releasing Concrete Beach’s fierce album opener Fire as a Bandcamp-exclusive single, along with its hypnotically dark, surrealist music video, courtesy of visual artist Andrew Knives. Fire is a ripping new wave-tinted post-punk track powered by technicolor synths, melodic distorted bass and dreamlike lyrics that were inspired by Marc Chagall paintings and Grotesque art. Check out the video clip via YouTube below.
Karate, Guns & Tanning (named after a sign above a strip mall in Plainfield, IN) is the culmination of a 15-year collaboration between two intuitive shoegaze goth witches, Valerie Green (she/her, Indianapolis) and Paige Shedletsky (she/her, Louisville), who initially met in Colorado in 2005 while waitressing together at a creepy diner fit for a David Lynch set. Despite Green moving back to the Midwest in 2009, they maintained a cross-country songwriting process over the years; once the pandemic hit, they recruited friends from the Indianapolis music scene — guitarist Joy Caroline Mills (she/her) and drummer Daniel Guajardo (he/him) — to join the band. In typical 2020 fashion, the album was recorded entirely remotely, and some members of the band had never actually met in person until after the album was completed.
‘Concrete Beach’ was born out of restlessness and pent-up aggression, further intensified by the ambient dread of the early months of the pandemic. That fierce energy is palpable on standout moments like the rousing, militaristic cries of Hot Bots, which envisions a hostile AI takeover and culminates with a distorted kazoo solo, as well as the synth-splattered Badlands, a nightmarish vision of a doomed journey into the darkest heart of the desert. The song’s harrowing denouement is meant to represent a car flipped over in the sand; a sputtering sample of the 1970s country classic Convoy signifies the detuned radio, still blaring into the futile chaos while the wheels are spinning. Breaking Teeth, with its metallic guitars, gritty bass and chanted rally cries of Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! (not to mention some blazing guitar solos from Mills), evokes the hyper-distorted noise-pop clamor of Sleigh Bells. The track describes an underground fight club, where a match is happening and the crowd is screaming, blood and teeth flying through the air.
Meanwhile, Artifacts roars to life with pounding, Bonham-sized drums and hyper-processed vocals that serve as another instrument in the mix. The song was meant to evoke the unsettling feeling of being trapped by something not quite tangible. “I wrote this before quarantine,” Green says, “and it ended up being super relevant.” Elsewhere, the band’s experimental dream-pop past is resurrected by the lush and soaring pop smarts of Zenith, a minimalist cut inspired by the SpaceX launch. ‘Concrete Beach’ may be the culmination of all those years of Shedletsky and Green trading tracks back and forth with little more than a band name and a GarageBand setup, but with the addition of Mills and Guajardo, it became a passion project for the group during the most destabilizing year in modern history.