One of the best moments in music this year comes at the end of “Cactus Couch,” the centerpiece of Band To Watch IAN SWEET’s debut album, Shapeshifter. The song crawls to a syrupy slow after four minutes of clamoring. One of the band members goofily calls out for seltzer in the background. You can sense Jilian Medford take a deep breath, right before the band launches into a noisy squall. She bursts out: “There is nothing wrong with me, but everything is wrong with me, everything is wrong with me,” her words piling on top of each other, a battle between self-empowerment and a predisposition to take on all the blame.
It’s an echo of the very start of the song where Medford explicitly lays bare her flaws: “There is nothing wrong with me but portion control and quality/ I’m always hungry, but I never eat anything but candy.” Shapeshifter is about finding a balance between individuality and companionship, and the end of “Cactus Couch” has become a grounding force for me in the last couple of months as I’ve gone through a similar struggle. I’ve listened to it when I felt like my anxiety was overtaking my rational emotions, when the non-stop rattling of that conclusion felt like a mirror of my own headspace. It made me feel powerful and in control, even during times when I was likely neither. That moment is just one little piece of the emotional intensity that dominates the rest of Shapeshifter, unreservedly one of my favorite albums of the year, and you can now stream the entire thing via Spin below. Do it!
09/06 Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs #
09/07 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle #
09/08 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery $
09/09 Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium (Album Release Show) #
09/10 Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club $
09/11 Pittsburgh, PA @ Black Forge #
09/12 Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory #
09/13 Toronto, ON @ Drake Hotel #
09/14 Montreal, QC @ Brasserie Beaubien
# w/ Horse Jumper Of Love
$ w/ Diet Cig
Shapeshifter is out 9/9 via Hardly Art.