In a mesmerizing departure from the ordinary, musician Andrew Rinehart is igniting the stage with Charm School, crafted in collaboration with Matt Filip, Drew English, and Jason Bemis Lawrence. Together, this dynamic quartet isn’t joking around with the release of their caustic debut EP, “Finite Jest,” — out today.
Rinehart (né Andrew Sellers), acclaimed for his folksy songwriting and notably collaborating with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, now ventures into uncharted terrain. The band embraces a grittier, more ferocious punk and hardcore direction, infusing their sound with a surge of adrenaline. Shedding previous conventions, they fearlessly evolve with a raw and intense energy.
The album bursts to life with “Non Fucking Stop,” a scathingly sardonic exploration of the artifice and perils surrounding rich kids tumbling into the murky abyss of the entertainment industry. The searing lyrics and unapologetic sound capture the essence of disillusionment and frustration, exposing the dark underbelly of an industry fueled by excess and hollow ambitions. This track channels Sonic Youth, Fugazi, the Dead Kennedys, and Pixies. With an unrelenting rant, Rinehart expertly dissects the deceitful façade with a potent blend of disgust and pity. “Non Fucking Stop” becomes a manifesto of sorts, a rallying cry against the superficiality and shallowness that too often dominate performers. With biting wit and righteous anger, the track serves as a wake-up call, urging listeners to question the illusory glamour, and instead seek genuine meaning amidst the chaos.
“Simulacra, “with its pulsating rhythm and seductive sprechstimme, serves as a razor-sharp dissection of contemporary politics. Emanating from a place where the B-52s, PIL, The Fall, and Gang of Four might find a shared sonic playground, the beat compels a dance as it drills into the zeitgeist.
Rinehart and company intricately weave in themes borrowed from Jean Baudrillard’s mind-bending masterwork, Simulacra and Simulation. The track offers a pointed critique of our society’s deepening sense of alienation, intensified by the relentless exposure to illusory depictions of reality. It also subtly insinuates a prescription of antipsychotics for our metaphorically schizophrenic society.
“’Simulacra’ is our attempt at skewering the politics of now over a good dance beat,” says Rinehart. “…The song addresses our society’s profound sense of disconnection resulting from our constant interaction with fabricated representations of reality. Aka the disquieting fact that these counterfeit depictions of life are increasingly valued over reality itself, and the even more troubling reality that social media companies are profiting handsomely from this exploitative situation.”
The album takes a u-turn with the blistering breakup song Year of the Scorpion, delving into a turbulent and complex relationship, filled with deception, lust, and regrets. The narrator fell in love with someone who changed their demeanor, engaging in promiscuous and risky behavior. Despite the person’s assurance of honesty, their femme fatale allure was driven by financial gains. The reference to a “fake blonde killing Bobs and Toms” implies manipulation and harming innocent individuals to achieve personal goals. The plea for the person not to be too far gone reflects the narrator’s concern for their well-being despite the pain they caused. The refrain of “A scorpion’s gonna do what a scorpion does, it is what it is, it was what it was” emphasizes the fatalistic nature of the relationship, suggesting that the person’s actions were inevitable, and the narrator must come to terms with the reality of their past.
Face Spiter continues the trend of skewering the world of social media, influencers, and talentless fame chasers riding the coattails of the fleeting folly of foolish youth. The repeated refrain of “Show up, show off” underscores the need to display oneself before beauty fades or weariness sets in. However, beneath the surface, the song criticizes the subject’s calculated and ego-driven behaviour, suggesting that they are too concerned with their image and public persona, resulting in a sense of arrogance and self-importance that prevents genuine connection.
The final track, Finite Jest, dives into the complexities of a tumultuous relationship that began with hope and passion but eventually unraveled into disappointment and illusion. The opening lines suggest that the person left their previous life to be with the narrator, but their connection quickly deteriorated, leaving only painful memories and shattered dreams of a once-idealized love. The lyrics explore the oscillation between fear and ecstasy, revealing a rollercoaster of emotions within the relationship…one fraught with challenges and contradictions.
Listen to the EP below and order here:
Charm School was produced by Andrew Rinehart, and mixed by Nick Roeder and Andrew Rinehart.
Hailing from Louisville, KY, Sellers’ musical journey has taken him through the vibrant DIY music scenes of both NYC and LA. Along the way, he co-founded The Body Actualized Center in Bushwick and organized shows at Basic Flowers in Downtown LA. Now, with Charm School, Sellers embarks on a profound return to his punk and hardcore roots—the very genres that laid the foundation for his musical consciousness during his formative years.
Drawing inspiration from influential bands such as Slint, The Jesus Lizard, Nation of Ulysses, and Fugazi, Charm School reflects a deep-seated connection to the raw and unapologetic spirit of punk. Sellers’ musical evolution comes full circle as he channels the energy and intensity that ignited his passion for music as a teenager. This newfound revival takes him back to the essence of his creative identity, infusing Charm School’s sound with a genuine and heartfelt homage to the roots that shaped him.
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