Let’s keep this intro quick since I still have my own piece to write and bolt onto the bottom of this very article. Today’s iteration of Missed Connections takes a look at some darkly varied rock, inky black metal, and upbeat indie punk. If you missed Part One, check it out!


HealthylivingSongs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief

Released: April 7, 2023


I make it a constant tradition of mine to check out whatever is on the current Roadburn lineup every year, despite never having attended it personally. No other festival is a better reference on great upcoming bands, in my eyes, and I made some solid discoveries via their lineup this year, including Predatory Void and Ashenspire. One of my favorites was the gorgeous Healthyliving, who put out their debut Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief this year.

A beautiful album that can best be described as sad rock (a label I use when the band’s overall vibe seems way more important to their music than your usual genre labeling) and is equal parts beauty and despair. The group features Amaya López-Carromero, who you may or may not know from her solo project Maud the Moth, as well as Scott McLean from Ashenspire and Falloch, so the talent is there. I find something extra spicy about emotional music with female vocals, and Amaya elevates Healthyliving to a high contender for the forefront of that particular niche which is already pretty stacked.

The album kicks off with the duo “Until” and “Dream Hive”, both of which were in constant repeat for me this year and are some of my personal 2023 highlights. They remind me of a darker Brutus that was led by Emma Ruth Rundle or something like that. So right up my alley, and a fantastic way to start a record.

There is a surprising amount of variety here, especially for a debut. The band’s particular brand of sad rock has the obvious shoegaze elements but you will find many passages that have a post rock flair to it, such as “Galleries”, a very haunting piece that illustrates this well. The following song “To The Gallows” has a very unexpected amount of technical riffs that I didn’t really expect were coming, giving the music some very welcome post metal and post hardcore elements. Amaya’s vocals on that song even remind me of Julie Christmas and her unhinged approach to chaotic moments.

“Bloom” is a huge favorite as well, a certified shoegaze banger that rocks out hard, followed by the acoustic-led “Back to Back” that is as personal as it gets. “Ghost Limbs” continues to tread on the shoegaze path, beautifully leading up to the great closer “Obey”. Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief is a short album (clocking at just 37 minutes) that believes that less is more, having unique-sounding songs that feel like their own thing and work very well together. Oh, and they manage to deliver a proper musical identity at the same time. That is one of hell of an achievement for a debut, if you ask me.

So once again the Roadburn curation has delivered. Not only presenting me this fine gem I would have taken long to come across, but serving as a catapult for Healthyliving to be known across the world. This is the kind of beautiful, diverse and special music that fans of pretty much anything rock related can enjoy, and if this surprisingly diverse, cohesive and beautiful music is their debut, you can be sure this is a band you want to keep tabs on.



Released: July 21, 2023

The Flenser

As a long time fan of heavy metal, I find that each year brings a different subgenre into focus for me. Last year was grindcore, the year before death metal, etc. By 2023, I had become nearly burnt out on metal. I hadn’t heard a truly great record in months. I found myself exploring synthesizers, ambient music, goth, world music, jazz, and noise during the first quarter of the year. Besides some hardcore albums, I was beginning to worry that I had gone soft in my old age.

Then the answer became apparent. Where could I find the atmosphere and experimentation I love while also satisfying the unrelenting rage simmering below the surface? Black metal of course, the one genre of metal that keeps exploring new ways to morph its evil sounds into more drastic and stark contrasts. While there are many great black metal releases this year, I and the team at Everything Is Noise overlooked the debut album by Agriculture.

The Los Angeles based four piece started via two noise musicians (Daniel Meyer-O’Keeffe, Kern Haug) jamming and riffing on the idea of using heavy music to convey the ‘sublimity of the human experience‘. In 2022, after enlisting help of another guitarist (Richard Chowenhill) and a bassist/vocalist (Leah Levinson) Agriculture released their debut EP The Circle Chant under the mission of creating ‘ecstatic black metal‘.

This seems to fly in the face of the genre conventions of misanthropy, depression, and trying to make the evilest sounding music possible to appease the dark lord. However, my favorite thing about black metal is its catharsis, the ability to use blast beats, tortured vocals, and tremolo picked guitars and transcend those malevolent feelings into a sound that is as paradoxically soothing as it is terrifying.

Agriculture picks up right where The Circle Chant left off on opening track “The Glory of the Ocean”, with melancholy slide guitars that would fit a sunny desert day until the wave of distortion sneaks up from behind like a dust storm. The first three minutes build like a rising tide until the drums and vocals kick in sending ripples of shock through your body as the narrator bellows joy in succumbing to the sea. Crescendos of guitar and almost exuberant screams evoke feelings of relief and contentment through the chaos. “The Well” follows with a cleanly sung interlude over gently strummed guitar narrating a mother watching the child of “The Glory of the Ocean” drown and resolving to save the child from death and in doing so, herself from despair.

What follows next is a three-part song, “The Look”, that makes up nearly half of the 31-minute album. Over these three tracks two things become apparent: Agriculture are very good at crafting riffs and movements that elicit feelings of triumph and joy, and they are creating a song cycle. Somewhat popularized by the Van Dyke Parks album Song Cycle, this is a collection of songs that are both musically and lyrically thematic. Different than a concept album which focuses on one subject and could have different musical themes throughout, a song cycle is a unique style of album making that is rarely seen in heavy music.

“The Look Pt 1” continues the lyrics from “The Well” as well as the chord progression turned up to 11. “Pr. 2” continues the musical motif, but switches up the order and delivery with more stops and starts and a slower, more plaintive conclusion. Lyrically the focus is turned to a plain outside of Dallas where the narrator is returned from loneliness and isolation from another unseen or unnamed entity. “Pt.3” finds the theme of escape from a fathomless depth turned inward – ‘Reach in your chest and pull out your heart’ we are told as the maximum effort of crescendos and elation caterwaul forward into an unhinged swelling of glorious mayhem. It is utterly transfixing in its noisy beauty until a floor tom hypnotizes back into the epic conclusion.

Any respite or revelry in the climax is short lived as the closing track “Relier” pummels forward. This is arguably the most traditionally black metal song on the album, its vocals in a deeper register, its speed sinister, its volume oppressive. Even the slow part, a disgustingly heavy bass interlude, feels massive. ‘This is the holy dark: outside/choices that you can’t make/how its beautiful to accept you/are a part of everything/with no control,’ she sings, ‘Trust! I call it God…’ revealing the unseen hand that rescued all the above characters, the interconnectivity that manifests in ecstasy.

Agriculture is a short album, perhaps rightfully so, packing so much into such a brief and intense experience, but its ambitions are well met. There is room for improvement in terms of transitions and a some more hooks would be welcomed, but overall, this full-length foray into ecstatic black metal shows a ton of promise. If they can keep up the soaring crescendos and emotive delivery, we could all find ourselves smiling at black metal rather than grimacing.

(It's your boy) David

Truth CultWalk the Wheel

Released: March 3, 2023

Pop Wig Records

The first thing you notice when hitting play on Truth Cult‘s Walk the Wheel is the infectious energy. I’ve listened to a lot of music this year – much of it based in punk or other vigorous heavy music – and I just can’t think of another album that filled me with more life than this one here. That I couldn’t review it upon release is a slight against this entire year as it’s one of 2023’s best in this lane of sound, but hey, that’s why I made Missed Connections six (6) years ago.

The second thing you notice when listening to Walk the Wheel is the dual vocals of Paris Roberts and Emily Ferrara, something somewhat uncommon in punk. Sure, you get gang vocals, call and response, even two vocalists doing their thing and playing off each other, but the complementary nature of what Roberts and Ferrara achieve is unique. Ferrara holds it down for the more cleanly sung, melodic side of things with great enunciation and delivery while Roberts handles gruffed-up yells and raw power, even giving off some Ian MacKaye vibes here and there.

“Naked in the End” is a great song to see this dynamic play off with Ferrara leading off vocals after some raucous guitar work starts the song off. Roberts takes over with the beginning of the chorus, and both finish off together with awesome layering where everyone – including all guitars (of which Ferrara also plays the bass) and drums – are so strikingly present in the moment. “Heavy Water” is one of the many, many highlights of Walk the Wheel, a melodic powerhouse with deft riffing, bass leads, and a catchy hook that makes good on the song’s title by flooding your memory.

If you want things a bit edgier, then “Clearskin” is where you’ll need to be. It’s much faster paced than most anything else on the album, but still teems with calmer moments for Roberts’ vocals to take center stage and make those quick, driving guitars more pronounced when they do kick up. I won’t lie either, that tambourine touch in the middle is nice as well, and the riff that follows right after and leads into a short solo is one of the best moments on Walk the Wheel. It’s just a fun-ass song. “Ain’t Rubbin’ No Shoulders” has some similar approaches too, but with some squeaky saxophone at the end.

Truth Cult come from Baltimore, a city that’s really putting its hardest, corest feet forward lately with other bands like Turnstile, End It, and Jivebomb (not to mention Ian MacKaye’s most popular bands Fugazi and Minor Threat are from Washington D.C. right near Bmore), and it’s clear as day that this band has found a neat niche among all the renewed chaos and prominence the city’s enjoying. Hell, they even have the hate5six cosign which is integral for more underground music getting out there.

I’m keeping this uncharacteristically short for me because time spent reading my bullshit on this band can easily just be spent checking out Walk the Wheel yourself which I highly, highly recommend. There’s not a weak song on here (please, PLEASE check out “What Is Time?”), it all resonates with great purpose and a sort of glee that you typically don’t find in punk, and I can’t imagine it not penetrating some of y’all’s AOTY lists if you like some variety in your punk music. Keep your eye on this quintet, y’all.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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