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Sincere Engineer (Deanna Belos) is the band for everyone who's ever felt like quitting but gets through it anyway. It is for everyone who's had big dreams lead to feeling disillusioned and cynical, yet found a few hours to play in the sunlight. Bless My Psyche is a collection of vignettes about everyday failures, insecurity, anxiety, and the prosaic things we do to push forward.
Recorded in their hometown of Chicago with long-time collaborator/producer Matt Jordan, Bless My Psyche is the follow up to 2017's Rhombithian, and continues to juxtapose hopeful expectations and the disappointment of reality through wry and witty lyrics and catchy indie punk. "I think my music is relatable, and I hope it makes people feel like they're not alone," shares singer Deanna Belos. "I do it because it's fun, and I don't want to do anything else."
Bless My Psyche is a dynamic journey into Belos' psyche, one that is in a constant battle between the desire to be motivated to succeed, the daily exhaustion of working life, and the crushing weight of the anxiety of it all. "Trust Me" finds Belos digging her own grave in a cycle of the same mistakes, via a defiant punk anthem that serves as the "grand introduction" to the album. "Recluse in the Making" forlornly captures the inevitable self-sabotage as Belos sings, "Ain't it just like me to let my life pass me by, to never once even try."
However, in classic Sincere Engineer fashion, this isn’t a depressing album—it just talks about depression. Bless My Psyche is chock-full of songs about drunken debauchery and wild nights that feed the soul, even if the "hurricane of misery" comes full force in the morning. Tracks like the driving indie anthem "Coming In Last" remain self-deprecating, yet hopeful and wistful for the future. While "Dragged Across the Finish Line" is half about not letting the successes of others demotivate you and half about recognizing that sometimes you need to help your friends and sometimes they need to help you. With songs meant to be sung loudly in a sweat-laden, crowded venue, Sincere Engineer has crafted an album for an entire community to hold onto.
Tom Freeman, the Brooklyn-based British artist and musician known as Covey, has had a weird year. He did a Tour to Nobody, playing shows in rural locations across the American northeast for, well, nobody. He recorded the audio and video, turning the audio into a record called Tour to Nobody. He also created a TikTok account, via which he began sharing the figurines which would adorn the cover of his next LP. In a matter of weeks, over one million followers were tuning in to learn about (and swap theories concerning) the increasingly intricate semi-fictional universe Freeman is building through his music.
Enter Covey's new full-length record, Class of Cardinal Sin. The record's cover features a diorama depicting what, at first glance, appears to be a simple class graduation photo, complete with a blackboard with white lettering at the front. Upon inspection, though, the classmates are in disrepair. Some are missing limbs, others are casting satanist spells, and most have a human body beneath the head of a creature. Still, they're dressed and arranged like students, grotesque and miserable. The home, the class photo, the songs: these are all part of a network of synapses that comprise Class of Cardinal Sin, refracted through Freeman's acerbic, wrenchingly sharp storytelling. This storytelling is backed by major-key melodies realized on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, warbling keys, and percussion that shifts from gentle to titanic.