I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, by the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based band Tigers Jaw, is an ode to living in the present. As this hectic era of distraction whirrs, ticks, swipes, and scrolls by each of us at an alarming speed, the ability to maintain a sense of priority for the human elements in our lives as well as a reflective understanding of self, remains a lost art. But here, the group has seized upon it. Tigers Jaw’s sixth album—and first for new label home Hopeless Records—finds members Ben Walsh (vocals/guitar), Brianna Collins (vocals/keyboards), Teddy Roberts (drums), and Colin Gorman (bass) at the height of their powers, fusing their collective skills with the synchronicity and energy the band honed over several years of non-stop touring. The result is a back-to-the-basement approach elevated by the unmistakable production of their longtime friend and collaborator Will Yip. The band’s most sonically ambitious and lyrically affecting album to date, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me sees a newfound freshness and creative freedom crystalizing the lush and dynamic world of Tigers Jaw.
Opening with the urgent strums of Walsh’s striking title track—featuring Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull on backing vocals—“I Won’t Care How You Remember Me” is a super-charged and emotional ripper about the importance of being direct and truthful with the people in one’s life. While at first the song seemed to be an unapologetically defiant statement, it ended up carrying a greater significance for the band, who rallied around it as a sentiment of a shared personal renaissance that sets the tone for the album, as well as the band as a whole. “This album is a hopeful time capsule of a band who has been through a lot together. It’s about growth, self-reflection, and figuring out how to be present in the moment to really take stock of what’s important, without getting sidetracked by the opinions of others or things out of our control,” Walsh says. “Tigers Jaw can get through anything and be stronger because of it. We’ve endured lots of change over the last 15 years, but a lot of things have remained consistent. We make the music we want to make, we push each other to continue evolving and growing as musicians, and we are so proud of where we are now.”
One of the biggest steps of the band’s evolution has been in songwriting; while their 2017 album spin found Walsh and Collins splitting the writing duties, I Won’t Care marks the first time all four members shared input. “I’m newer to songwriting, but the encouragement and collaboration that happened between us as a band while writing this record built up my confidence and excitement in being a songwriter,” Collins says. “Collaborating together not only pushed me as a songwriter, but it also reinforced how good it feels to be in this band.”
Gathering together on the heels of a long, intense stretch of touring in early 2019 to work on new material, the foursome found that their dynamic as musicians and friends was firing on all cylinders. The band was tighter than ever before, and considered the writing process a chance to get back to the band’s roots with all members in a room together working collaboratively toward a common goal. “We were tearing apart demos and making these songs the best representation of this group of four people that we could,” Walsh recalls.
Where spin was a moving soundscape replete with several dense layers of instruments and vocals, I Won’t Care pushes the elements of liveliness and human connectivity forward. Minimal layers and takes were used. “After touring so extensively and developing a really strong musical chemistry together, recording in that style seemed like the best approach to capture our band’s truest self,” says Gorman.
“Cat’s Cradle,” a thrilling synth-led number written and sung by Collins, tells the saga of a flamed-out friendship in just over two-and-a-half throttling minutes. “This song is about the realization that no matter how much love, effort and consideration you put into a friendship, sometimes it just isn’t enough to make it work,” explains Collins. “The lyrics touch on how being passive aggressive and not communicating true feelings can just lead to tension, confusion, and frustration in any relationship. I have the tendency to suppress my own feelings and apologize first, so with this song I wanted to acknowledge my own thoughts and feelings while moving forward from that type of dynamic.”
The aptly-named “Hesitation” describes “those sinking feelings of sensing that the person you love is beginning to drift away,” says Walsh. Originally brought in to the group to record in early 2019, Walsh’s song was re-recorded and changed—sometimes drastically—nearly a half-dozen times before reaching its final status. “That song is a testament that we put the work in and were willing to try new things,” Roberts says. Elsewhere, the slinky, groovy “New Detroit” evokes the Americana-tinged alt-rock of Gin Blossoms (a personal favorite of Walsh’s). “This song was conceptualized while touring Australia after starting a new relationship. I was reflecting on the previous Australian tour years ago when my home life was in a rough place, and that took over the entire experience. I felt mentally split between the two places, unable to be in the moment.” The charged “Can’t Wait Forever” and “Body Language” pair in yearning with Collins’s fuzzed-out “Lemon Mouth” and “Commit,” the latter a showcase for the rhythm section’s formidable talents.
The album ends with “Anniversary,” an anthem of solidarity that fades out on the strains of Walsh’s refrain: “We all fall apart in the same way.” It’s a compelling notion that serves as a reminder of our collective similarities, as well as a signal of Tigers Jaw’s undeniable union. “There’s no question that we are all best friends, or even deeper—like family,” Collins says. “We love playing music together and it feels so good to be in this band and have this camaraderie. We made this record for ourselves, together. We know who we are as a band, and we’re gonna keep doing things the way we want to do them and keep learning from each other and growing.”
The night before an L.A. recording session, Kississippi’s Zoe Reynolds spotted a flashy billboard ad for an auto repair shop; “Get In Tune,” it read, an imperative that felt like a call to connect and a call to get better. It took her mind to Bruce Springsteen’s iconic garage-set video for “I’m On Fire,” and almost immediately a new song began to take hold. With bubbly synth pads, atmospheric guitar swells, stacked harmonies and drop-out-ramp up drum beats, “We’re So In Tune” captures the synchronous excitement of new relationship energy in vibrant waves of sound, crashing and receding like an uncontainable impulse.
“A couple people have commented on how it’s NOT in tune,” Reynolds jokingly remarks, citing the Lorde-ian, shout-along gang vocals behind the chorus. “But it doesn’t have to be; I wasn’t in tune with that person, either.”
The song serves as the bar-raising first song on Mood Ring, Reynold’s second full length as Kississippi and first for Triple Crown Records. Like its opening track, the album is full of her trademark talent at channeling deadpan emotional observation into poignant musical metaphors. Kississippi comfortably filters pop grandeur, emo’s deliberate rawness, and Nashville’s studio largeness through a lens of punk camaraderie. Just like the album’s title suggests, Reynolds writes through a spectrum of shifting emotions: elation blending into insecurity and back around into gorgeous awe.
Originally a home recorded solo project for Reynolds to explore her folk songwriting on acoustic guitar, Kississippi cut its teeth touring on Fest-friendly pop punk, and the project solidified its emo cred supporting third wave genre progenitors Dashboard Confessional. But like her earliest songwriting heroes Cat Power and Liz Phair (who Reynolds describes as “vulnerable and weird girl rock stars, which was something I saw in myself”), Kississippi songs transcend genre, and lend themselves just as well to slick arena-ready production as they do rock instrumentation. After working closely with Philadelphia studio mainstay and mentor Kyle Pulley on 2018 debut Sunset Blush, Reynolds felt encouraged to explore the sonic possibilities in electronic-focused pop, taking inspiration from favorite bands like Beach House, CHVRCHES and Purity Ring. She learned to produce with studio software Reason, delving deep into its “fun synth sounds and weird tools” to develop the lushly-layered demos that would inform Mood Ring.
Mood Ring’s cover art—a saturated photo of chewed up, perfectly pink bubblegum displayed in a debonair blue corduroy ring box—evoked some of the outsized feelings Reynolds needed to write through. “I wanted to reflect on my youth while also growing,” she explains. “The album is nostalgic, bringing you back to having a childhood crush and sharing those feelings with your friends.” But like all nuanced pop, moments of brightness divert dark shadows, and the record also grapples with guilt. “I went through a lot of self-doubt while writing, and was trying to find myself.”
One of the record’s most startling moments of beauty, “Big Dipper,” uses serene wisdom to lament the difficulty of change, even change that’s right. Over subtle Wurlitzer and bright strums, Reynolds sings, “I’m a meteor shower glowing blue”—a line she wrote in the clarity of early morning over a mournful, airplane-penned chord progression. It’s one of several moments where she describes the romance of stars and the luminance of the sky. “Moonover,” about the complicated pull of an eclipsing love-at-first sight, combines disco bass, breakbeats, twangy guitar leads and glitchy samples with Reynold’s front-and-center, time-traveling plea: “If this is the future, let’s go back in time.” She’s also credited with playing a “Lexapro shaker and Guayaki can”—percussion she describes as “a little bit of the energy that was going into my body.” Finding levity and humor in overwhelming, powerful feelings—whether that’s through soaring harmonies or unconventional instrument choices—is Reynolds’ secret weapon, and helps turn even the darkest post-adolescent pains into buzzy earworms.
Most influential on finding this unique balance was producer Andy Park, whose diverse experience engineering and mixing for artists like Noah Gunderson, Death Cab for Cutie, Princess Nokia, and Now, Now drew Reynolds to him. “Andy really took major charge with the production,” Reynolds emphasizes. “The songs I brought to him were truly transformed.” Park added surprising overdubs on almost every instrument, and helped Reynolds uncover new levels to her vocal performance. “He does Ciara’s vocal production and acted almost as a vocal coach to me at certain points. There were things I did with my voice I had never tried and didn’t know I could do,” explains Reynolds, who’s long been renowned as a skillful singer but showcases her leveled-up chops across the record. “He’s a really smart guy, and he made it such a comfortable experience for me.”
Like the innovative pop artists she admires most, Reynolds wanted to push herself creatively, and challenged herself to co-write with Park and additional songwriters. “I used to want total control over all of my stuff—I think that came from being taken advantage of by men in the music industry, and people I played in bands with. But I have more fun when I’m working with other people,” she admits. Mood Ring boasts contributions from Park, illuminati hotties’ Sarah Tudzin (including “Get In Tune” and the ‘80s-inspired synthesized dance-along “Around Your Room”), Los Angeleno writer and producer Derek Ted (on three songs, including the sparkling, explosive guitar groover “Heaven”), as well as Phoebe Bridgers’ frequent sideman Marshall Vore (on the heartbreaking, spacious “Hellbeing”).
With an increased focus on delivering masterful, evocative vocals, Reynolds was thrilled to record alongside a Seattleite Wrecking Crew of in-studio musicians, as well as some friends contributing remotely. Featured players include: drummer Sean T. Lane (Pedro the Lion, Perfume Genius); guitar and bass shredder Jessica Dobson (Deep Sea Diver, Beck, The Shins); guitarists Sébastien Deramat (Cumulus, Special Explosion, Apples with Moya) and Zander Hawley (Honeywater); bassist Tyler Caroll (Allen Stone, Jonas Brothers); and pianist Josh Rawlings (The Teaching, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). Then there were the many friends on backing vocals (including co-writers Tudzin and Ted): Great Grandpa’s Al Menne, Bartees Strange, labelmates Foxing’s Conor Murphy, and Lisa Prank’s Robin Edwards (who Reynolds met at a Cumulus show while recording).
Finding space within the music scenes she admires has been a central focus of Reynold’s life as a musician; wanting a voice in Philadelphia’s then-male-dominated scene was an impetus to found Kississippi, and community support also motivates her work as a graphic designer for record labels and bands. The supportive trust between Reynolds and her collaborators—as well as her new team at Triple Crown—helped bring Kississippi’s songs and arrangements to great new heights. While Reynolds’ sure-footedness with synths, drum machines and pop hooks may seem like a departure from Kississippi’s earliest days, Reynolds promises, “I feel the emo and punk presence everywhere on this record.” Her adeptness at honoring and combining the musical styles she loves has resulted in an abundant album full of heart, humor and honesty. Gazing back at juvenile lust