Soundbites: New Music From Clever Girls and James Kochalka Superstar | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: New Music From Clever Girls and James Kochalka Superstar


Published November 13, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of Jacqueline Potter
  • Clever Girls

Egg Drop

Help yourself to an early stocking stuffer with James Kochalka Superstar's surprise album Eggs. The impish singer-songwriter hung up his hat in 2017 — well, he at least retired (mostly) from live performance. But that didn't mean the Burlington-based cartoonist was going to give up music completely.

The brand-new 12-track album features more of what you'd expect from the bizarro songwriter: bouncy, childlike melodies that cross into decidedly unchildlike territory. These include the profanity-laden hard-rock bangers "Teenage Cannibal" and "Fuck Shit Up," the latter of which begins, "We're here to fuck shit up / Let's fuck shit up tonight" over jagged guitar chords. Don't let Kochalka's general whimsy fool you. This is not music for small children — unless you're cool with your small children repeating the aforementioned lyrics.

"I wrote these songs super quick, just for this project, in about three days," Kochalka wrote in an email to Seven Days. He explained that frequent collaborator Jason Cooley (Blue Button, Bag of Panties) invited him to record to four-track cassette in his attic "like we used to do in the '90s."

Cooley explained via email that he just moved into a new home with an attic, a feature he hadn't had in-house since 1996. He added that he and Kochalka used to record regularly in the top-floor space.

"I wanted to have fun like that again, where he'd sing me a song, I'd learn it, and we'd record it right there," Cooley wrote.

Kochalka also revealed that he's been learning to play piano and that the new album features some of his first-ever piano recordings. (He recorded those instrumental tracks at home, because, as he pointed out in his email, he could not get the piano up into Cooley's attic.)

Eggs is available to stream and download at

Whatever's Clever

In other music news, Burlington rock outfit Clever Girls recently released the single "Remember Pluto" via EggHunt Records. It precedes a new full-length album, to be released in 2020. It's the first new music from the lauded band since its 2018 debut album, Luck. As sharp and charming as ever, the band, led by Diane Jean, pushes deeper into its twist-of-twang, grungy rock sound. In fact, the song sounds fuller and thicker than anything Clever Girls have released previously.

"'Remember Pluto' is about finding a way to acknowledge and dismiss your anxieties in a constructive manner," Diane Jean said.

A new Kayhl Cooper-directed video accompanies the track. As is typical for the Vermont expat director (he moved to New York City a few months ago), striking, verdant Green Mountain imagery envelopes his subjects.

Other publications are taking note of the new song, too. The track has been featured on blogs such as the Talkhouse and If It's Too Loud.

Clever Girls will presumably perform "Remember Pluto" at their live show on Friday, November 15, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge in South Burlington. Locals Zeus Springsteen open, and Maine rockers Weakened Friends headline.

Sweet Surrender?

Montpelier nightclub Sweet Melissa's is in trouble. According to a GoFundMe campaign published on September 25, the main problem is that a shift in ownership in 2018 plus "too many repairs and a few tax mistakes of our own" have led the business into more debt than it can handle. Seven Days reached out to representatives of Sweet Melissa's for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

On Friday, November 15, the club hosts a benefit concert, a save Sweet Melissa's event, if you will. The night, called Burly Babes, features a slew of beguiling burlesque artists ready to shake it like a Polaroid picture, including Ginge O'Lolly, Ruthless Retribution, Katniss Everqueer, Kitten MaPants, Libby Lawless, Domini'que Anjou, Molly Mack, Carolina Moonbeam and Innocent Ivy.

A closure of Sweet Melissa's, one of only two Capital City nightclubs with consistently robust music offerings, would be a big blow to Montpelier's creative culture.

We'll have more on this story soon.

Poking the Bear

Well, I done did it. I poked the bear, and it reared up on its furry haunches and let out a big old "raaawwwrrr." I'm referring to the recent change in the Seven Days club dates and my subsequent call for feedback. In case you missed it or have no idea what I'm talking about, the club dates used to be a bit of a jumble, and we've since reorganized them. And a few people have made sure to let me know that they are none too pleased.

Formerly, all manner of nightlife events were presented in a weekly chronological stream, broken up only by date and, within those sections, by region, and finally by venue itself. Now, they're broken up into five categories: Live Music, Open Mics & Jams, DJs, Comedy and Karaoke/Trivia/Etc.

Obviously, there were several pros to the old method, the biggest of which seems to have been: That's the way we'd always done it. But that's hardly a reason to keep doing something. See "smoking on airplanes" and "imperialism" for proof.

Perhaps I didn't stress this enough to begin with: The new organization method helps readers find the type of entertainment they're looking for more easily. Before, a reader would have to pour over the entire club calendar to locate all of the open mic nights in a given week. Now, they're easily located in their own section. Ditto for standup and improv shows, dance parties, karaoke nights, and trivia competitions.

I think people are understandably resistant to change. And I get that. Every time Gmail or Facebook or the Dish Network guide channel changes its layout, I'm incensed — for about a week. Then I get used to it and get over it. I'd like to invite any haters to do the same. To insist we go back to the old way is the same as flipping off all of the hardworking standup comedians, drag queens, trivia masters and other folks whose listings were formerly swallowed up by the one-size-fits-all approach of the old design.

Let's all move on together, shall we?

Listening In

If I were a superhero, my superpower would be the ability to get songs stuck in other people's heads. Here are five songs that have been stuck in my head this week. May they also get stuck in yours. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

When Saints Go Machine, "Reflection of You (Bloodshot)"

Holy Oysters, "Take Me For a Ride"

Goldfrapp, "Human"

Carly Simon, "Why"

Erlend Øye, "Every Party Has a Winner and a Loser"

Speaking of Sweet Melissa's