The standout factoid about Laura Stevenson is still a good one – her grandfather popularized the Christmas standards “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and her grandmother sang for Benny Goodman’s band – but it’s not the most interesting. The best thing to know about the Long Island songstress closely associated with DIY collective Bomb the Music Industry! is that she’s plagued with insecurity, at least according to some of her tunes. Considering Stevenson’s high-pitched, slightly infantilized vocals, she’s hardly a delicate flower; her tracks range from jazzy exuberance (“Barnacles”) to brink-of-vengeance solemnity (“I See Dark”). But between the band’s sweetly old-school tendency to post photos of Stevenson next to marquees bearing their name and the brutal self-doubt of songs like “It Ceases To Be ‘Whining’ if You’re Still ‘Shitting Blood,’” in which the singer bemoans the pressure she feels to write something good (“If you fuck this up, you fuck the record deal / And the respect of all our famous friends,” and the track eventually finds her imagining their tour van “and our fucking debt go up in flames”) it’s clear that this is a frontwoman unafraid to explore her own complications. And that’s a potent formula for greatness. – Justin Strout
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