Welcome JR SLAYER to the Memory Music team! You can now stream the title track to the band's new EP "NOT ROTTEN" and watch the music video below:
The full EP drops September 9th digitally. Click here to stream the song and learn more about JR SLAYER below.
Cody Votolato first created JR Slayer (pronounced jay-arr, not junior) as a character and an illustration, a simple, aimless piece of imagination. Over the years, JR Slayer grew to become more and more, a part-time creative catch-all for Votolato after decades of working full-time in the music industry. Now, Votolato is proud to present Not Rotten, JR Slayer’s debut release on Memory Music.
Not Rotten is a five-track indie rock EP that tracks the experience of falling into earth-shattering love—the sort that safeguards its participants from the cruelty and cold of the world around them—and the simultaneous elation and fear that come from inhabiting such bliss. It’s about the possibilities that are unlocked when we care about and show up for others and ourselves in equal measure. Opener and title track “Not Rotten” celebrates this possibility on its bubblegum guitar-pop chorus: “All of the things we thought were rotten/Are suddenly just forgotten,” Votolato croons over a soaring guitar lead.
“There’s so much bad shit in the world, there’s a lot of bad things happening,” says Votolato. “But when you fall in love with someone, you have this feeling that all that stuff can disappear momentarily. Everything goes away but you and this person, and your feelings about them and yourself.”JR Slayer comes years after Votolato’s pivot away from full-time music work, on the tail end of decades between bands including beloved Seattle post-hardcore outfit The Blood Brothers, Jaguar Love, Head Wound City, Telekinesis, and Cold Cave. Blood Brothers began when Votolato was 15, and at the time was his main and only source of income. “I got fairly burnt out trying to make money as a musician,” says Votolato. “I was struggling for a very long time to have music make me money and be my career. It turned into this very toxic relationship with music.”
He vowed to leave music industry life behind, but continued to write and play music at his own pace after moving to Los Angeles in 2016. Soon, friend and collaborator Andrew Martin pushed him to solidify JR Slayer. Another friend booked a show for JR Slayer at the Hi Hat, and Votolato started performing again. The process solidified the desire to record and release his work. “I really wanted to reconnect with music in the way that I did when I first started playing music, which was more about just needing it to survive in an artistic and soulful way, as opposed to needing it to survive financially,” says Votolato.Jason Klein (Deaf Club), who plays bass on the record, introduced Votolato to Will Yip, who produced Not Rotten at his Studio 4 in Conshocken, Pennsylvania over two sessions, months apart, in 2021. Votolato credits Yip with many of the album’s melodies, which Yip would hum and Votolato would learn and record. “It was a very traditional producer and artist relationship and process,” says Votolato. Ben Walsh (Tigers Jaw) played drums on the record, and Votolato’s sister Brandi Jo Votolato sings alongside Cody on the record.After the bright, semi-sweet introduction of “Not Rotten” (“I think the world is gonna die before I do, and if that’s true/I just wanna spend the rest of my time, right here, sitting next to you,” goes Votolato’s opening statements) comes the driving radio rock of “Back When,” soaked with washes of power chords and peaceful nostalgia. “Please put your hands in mine, we’ll walk the stretch of time,” Votolato invites.
“The Only One You Are Left With Will Be You” ratchets up the tempo on a mid-Oughts indie rock banger that wrestles with the difficult work of self-acceptance. “The Fade Out” doubles down with a thrill of Hot Fuss-ready synth-and-guitar rock underneath Votolato’s pleas to keep outrunning the past and old fears: “All time moves slow/Don’t let the tortured days behind you grow,” his voice soars on the chorus.
The piano and acoustic ballad “You Will Never Be Alone” closes the EP with an earnest, desperate pledge to see things through for the long-haul, even as things feel overwhelming: “Take your time to feel it out/I’ll stay right by your side.”
Not Rotten from JR Slayer is a celebration of the feelings, words and musics that give life color and energy to break through the bleakness. It’s due out September 9th on Memory Music.
You can now listen to Kayleigh Goldsworthy's electric new album Learning to be Happy in full! A project years in the making, "Learning to be Happy" shows all sides of Goldsworthy's expert songwriting, from the huge choruses of album opener "Losing My Mind" or "Overambitious" to the more intimate and folky "Better." Check out the record in full now and pre-order your copy of the vinyl, scheduled to ship next month.
Kayleigh will be donating all net proceeds from release day Bandcamp sales to Planned Parenthood to support their mission of protecting women's reproductive rights.
You can see Kayleigh Goldsworthy on tour with Kevin Devine and Kississippi right now - dates here.
By early 2020, Kayleigh Goldsworthy had finally figured out who she was. The long-time hired-gun musician from Syracuse and based in south Philadelphia, who had spent a decade backing up the likes of Dave Hause, Bayside, Frank Iero, and others, was ready to commit fully to a solo career of her own work. The day after New Year's Day 2020, Goldsworthy started recording her second solo LP, seven years after her debut Burrower, with Will Yip at Studio 4 outside Philly.
Then everything changed. The job and life Goldsworthy had pursued since her teen years was ripped away: tours, shows, studio time, even band practices and writing sessions, all gone. Along with those went away a hard-won sense of self. All those things that had given Goldsworthy the confidence and push to believe in herself and her work disappeared.
“I had figured out who I was,” says Goldsworthy, “then this whole thing happened, and I had to figure out who I was again.”
These are the conditions that created Learning To Be Happy, a story of undoing and becoming that begins at what Goldsworthy thought was the end: that assuredness and strength of January 2020. This story unspools over a thrilling, winding saga of scrappy, arena-ready pop rock, charged pop punk, and acoustics-and-piano balladry. The LP’s 10 tracks are often heavy and sometimes dark, but always relentlessly confident and hopeful, threaded through with the sort of bruised optimism that rewards all those who do the difficult work of wrestling with what it means to be happy.
“Learning to be happy is a process of learning how to be yourself,” says Goldsworthy.
At the end of the day, this is immensely personal work. That’s why the cover of Learning To Be Happy is a shot of Goldsworthy, alone in the frame, her face adorned with rhinestones and glitter, backgrounded by a dark, vivid, shifting fuschia. The photo, like the record’s songs, are designed to feel like one has stepped into “a room full of light:” “It’s your little zen den,” laughs Goldsworthy. “I want you to feel happy.”
The songs’ aesthetics reflect this ethic, too: anthemic earworm melodies, carried like a triumphant banner on Goldsworthy’s crystal-clear voice, ride atop bombastic drums and guitars, recalling the best parts of mid-’90s to early-Aughts radio rock and pop. The approach is the product of a realization: “What’s the point of dedicating your life to this craft if it’s not fun?”
“Life is too hard to take yourself and your art too seriously,” says Goldsworthy. “We all need to find joy and a bit of laughter in the things that make life weird.”
The initial January 2020 sessions for Learning To Be Happy yielded three tracks, including lead single “Overambitious” alongside “Better” and “Happy Again.” Goldsworthy called in Joe Godino (The Menzingers) for drums and high school bandmate Aaron Garritillo on bass on these three, then she and Yip completed the remaining seven tracks, finishing tracking in November 2021. Goldsworthy handled vocals, guitars, synths, and keys, while Yip took on bass, drums, percussion, and backing vocals, forming what Goldsworthy describes as “the most badass, efficient two-person band ever.”
“Losing My Mind” opens the record with crunchy, wide-open, coast-roadtrip chording before Yip’s drums thunder in behind: “Day after day I think I’m losing my mind/Day after day remind myself I’m alright!” soars Goldsworthy’s chorus vocal. The somber acoustics of “Better” lead into the keys-led, defiant, boundaries-setting electro-pop of “Keep The Light On:” “I won’t keep beating myself up/‘cause you never called during the end of the world,” reckons Goldsworthy quietly.
“Overambitious” follows, the track that Goldsworthy says is the thematic cornerstone that gave her the self-confidence to build this LP. “I never raised my voice, I’m still learning how to use it/And then there’s boys like you, whose voices echo all the rooms,” sings Goldsworthy on the verse over guitar crunch. The chorus floors the pedal with a firework melody: “You didn’t want to believe what I always liked about me/I’m just a little overambitious!”
The quiet, finger-picked reflection of “Call Your Mother” follows with a plea for low-key internal work rather than loud declarations of intent. It unfurls behind Goldsworthy’s soft opening gambit: “Can we all stay quiet once?” Later, the mid-tempo churn of “Boomerang” soundtracks the painful process of letting someone back into your life, time and again, expecting them to have changed and the outcome to be different, only to be wounded anew. “You’re Good” comes next, a bittersweet, cheeky pop rock assessment of someone who becomes better only after they leave your life and find someone new. “I’m so happy that you’re good/Yeah I’m happy that you’re good, to her.”
“Little Ghost” closes the LP just with grand piano and Goldsworthy’s voice, a final post-mortem on the record’s adventures. Ghosts are all we have left of the people we leave and are left by; they haunt us at familiar restaurants, subway stations, venues, corners of our bedrooms. To someone else, we are those ghosts.
As both a record and a philosophical concept, Learning To Be Happy is, as Goldsworthy puts it, a never-ending waxing and waning: it is tumultuous and messy, not clean and final. The process is the point, and the next step is to share these songs live. At her shows, Goldsworthy wants everybody to be friends, for the experience to be casual and awkward and funny, just like the trials and errors of learning to be happy. She’s not any different than the people listening to her songs, trying to figure out how to feel better.
“I’m just your realistic friend that has a lot of feelings,” she says.
Welcome Queen of Jeans to the Memory Music Family! Hiding In Place is the first new music from Philly's Queen of Jeans in nearly three years, and the EP finds vocalist Miriam Devora doing just that—hiding in place. Time both stood still and flew by when her longstanding job at a community-run movie theatre ground to an obvious halt in 2020.
Limited color vinyl versions of the new EP are available in the Memory webstore now. The pressing features the 4 song EP in full as well as three bonus vinyl-only songs from the band's 2021 Covers EP.
1. Hiding in Place
2. Why Hide
3. Was I Ever
4. The Wait is Over
5. Teenage Dirtbag (Vinyl Only)
6. I'm The Only One (Vinyl Only)
7. Actor Out of Work (Vinyl Only)