My Favorite New Band: Madeline Kenney on Dante High

"I'm hesitant to use regular music verbiage to describe it... so I made a pie chart instead."

Nov 16, 2018
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For My Favorite New Band we ask an established artist to tell us about their favorite new artist. This installment is by Madeline Kenney, who writes about Dante High.

Kenney released her sophomore album, Perfect Shapes, last month via Carpark. Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes produced Perfect Shapes, apart from "Overhead," which was produced by Ben Sloan instead of Wasner. Previously Kenney shared a video for Perfect Shapes' first single, "Cut Me Off" (which was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as a creepy self-directed video for another new song from the album, "Overhead" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week), a lyric video for "Bad Idea" (which made our Songs of the Week list as well), and the audio for "Perfect Shapes." Perfect Shapes was recorded in Durham, NC in January 2018, just five months after the release of her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing, which came out in September 2017 via Company and was produced by Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bear.

Read on as Kenney writes not only writes about her favorite new band, but produces a pie chart as well.


Sometimes I feel like my life is a raging trash fire-one Big Wrong Turn descending into nothingness, slowly petering out into a predictable obsolescence. Those are the days I listen to Nick Drake and eat popcorn all day.

On rare occasions, however, if I have enough coffee and get dressed at the right hour, I come up with a thousand ideas before lunchtime, punch-dancing around my house until 3 p.m. when I remember I haven't eaten yet. Lately I've been soundtracking that mood to a lot of Christine and the Queens (those new singles destroy me), but a new bright light has strobed its way into my life and let me tell you, I'm reeling.

My friend Ari Picker, in my current home of Durham, North Carolina, put out his new self-titled album as Dante High on October 1st, and it's a revelation. I'm hesitant to use regular music verbiage ("dancey," "'80s inspired", "synth-driven", "A-ha") to describe it... so I made a pie chart instead.

"Frustrated" is a perfect song. I've listened to it 12 times today.

The video for "Green Swamp" is an aesthetic revelation. I want the line "gotta gotta work, gotta get paid" tattooed across my chest.

The album isn't all fist-pumping and synth hooks, oh no-the modest eight tracks nestle in a few melancholy ballads for those of us that need the help of pan-flute samples to remember what love means (that's me, I need that).

There's this part of me that wants so badly to be a spandex-clad pop star jumping around to a never-ending hi-hat/snare beat; dripping sweat into a wireless mic, pointing at the crowd and locking eyes with you, yeah, you! For now I still hide behind a guitar and a facade of gear, but I'm hoping if I sonically inject Dante High into my veins enough, my punch-dance dreams will one day make it outside the boundaries of my bedroom.

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