The art-rock festooned psychedelia that festers within "The Grasping Straws," and frontwoman Mallory Feuer shouldn't come as a surprise by now.
The band and their industrious founding members have been steadily making a name for themselves in a scene that is as daunting as you'd expect from a musical metropolis like New York City.
Still, since 2012, they've captivated the hearts of fans with their trade lysergic-reflecting instrumental choreographies, and in 2015 they'd receive international recognition through their debut full-length release, followed by a successful tour around the United States.
The latest endeavors in the realms of art-rock and psychedelia come as an outlier from their previous. It's a compact sonic package designed by the frontwoman of The Grasping Straws, and it renders-up like a testament to the auteur the leading lady of this band has become.
On "Quarantine Halloween," Mallory Feuer takes the soloing limelight for a bare-bones acoustic ballad, and though it presents homely at first, the sonic poetry that comes appended manages to hit like a potent dose of subjugating psychedelia.
With a run-time of just under two minutes, this eclectic track reaches listeners as a sarcastically jovial discussional piece pertaining to ersatz republicanism and the social stigmas that we all buy into: "for Halloween, democracy is dressed up like money, who's a sheep? We're all dressed as sheep, consuming news like candy." She sings with a nonchalant temperament with her soft-tethered tonality that can be described best as magnetizing.
At the same time, a doubling of her electric intonation lingers from the voids of the mix, harmonizing, and accentuates each poetic patter she diffuses over her acoustic guitar, like a half-hearted bard ruminating over the dismal fate we face as a society: "try to find a scary movie, scarier than this reality, I hear the ghost of Allan Merrill, singing "I Love Rock and Roll."
When she riffs over her guitar, the infatuating melody takes hold like a sinuous growth of kudzu, latching onto your senses as her fingers slide down the frets to produce an unprecedented sense of cabaret-inspired relaxation, with a subtle dose of that feeling Queens of the Stoneage were creating on "If I Were A Teenage Hand Model," back in 1998: gritty, but assured with its place in the realms of rock, psychedelia, and art.
When the final lines land ("quarantine Halloween, be someone else to be your real self, post an Instagram story, so people know you're cool,") and Mallory evaporates back into the hazy voids of her mix, singing about the dismal nature of society, and drawing a spotlight on the uneasiness people attribute to their own skin—using Halloween to dress-up their inner demons—it's easy to see why "The Grasping Straws" are the band New York City has been drooling over since 2015; and with a frontrunner like Feuer, you simply can't ignore it.
Can you walk us through some of the inspirations behind "Quarantine Halloween" and why you chose to go about performing this song as a solo-acoustic act?
I woke up on Halloween this year with an idea of this song in my head. I spent the day playing around with it and thinking about how with the pandemic virus, the high death toll, and the state of our democracy in America, this is by far the scariest Halloween I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to see if I could write, record, and mix the song by myself in one day, and I think performing it as a solo-acoustic track is emblematic of what musician life in isolation has been like. There are two voices, and they are both my own.
What sorts of emotions lead to the performance you've captured on "Quarantine Halloween?" Do you feel like these emotions are a reoccurring influence in your artist process? Why or why not?
When I was recording “Quarantine Halloween” at home, I had feelings of fear and frustration with a bit of a satirical misbelief of the ridiculousness of it all. I often find myself writing about situations that frustrate me—I recently finished writing a song about wealth redistribution, and how capitalism is the antithesis of freedom: “what’s free about conformity for money?” Another recent song was about how disorienting it can feel to live with so much less human connection, and so much more virtual connectivity. Writing gives me an outlet through which I can process my emotions and share them with my community.
When it comes down to the underlying message and the intent behind "Quarantine Halloween," what were you aiming for, and why did you feel now was the best time to divulge that anecdote?
I felt a sense of urgency to create a song that would capture this moment in time in a way that seemed relevant and poignant. I wanted to finish it and get it out as soon as possible so it could be close to Halloween and still evoke the same feelings as it did when I wrote it.
If you could say a few words that would enhance the experience you set out for your fans within "Quarantine Halloween," what would you feel the need to say?
This song mentions rock legend Alan Merrill, whom I met at the Sidewalk Cafe when I used to work there as a sound engineer. His love for rock & roll is an inspiration to all of us. He was the first person I knew who died from COVID-19, and I think of him all the time.
What has been keeping you inspired throughout 2020?
Angela Davis, Rachel Cargle, Layla Saad, mantra-based meditation, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron/morning pages, yoga, the Mahabharata, intuitive eating, and computer programming have all kept me feeling inspired. Additionally, the artists and musicians I’ve come to know through the local NYC music scene are an endless source of inspiration as they continue to find creative ways to release new content. I’m also super excited about my collaboration with experimental video and performance artist Erica Schreiner- the music video she created for the first single from our upcoming EP literally moved me to tears. The track along with the video is set for release on December 21st.