Johanna Warren Shares Her Favorite Carpark Releases

Before dropping her new LP tomorrow, she praises releases from Speedy Ortiz, Animal Collective, and others.
Johanna Warren Shares Her Favorite Carpark Releases

Before dropping her new LP tomorrow, she praises releases from Speedy Ortiz, Animal Collective, and others.

Words: Mike LeSuer

photo by Jeff Davenport

April 30, 2020

Carpark Records celebrated twenty years of business last year, and show no signs of slowing down. They’ve currently got new LPs from The Beths and Spacemen 3 co-founder Sonic Boom on deck, though of equal anticipation is the growing discography of Carpark imprint Wax Nine, founded by Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis and her mom. The label dropped a new record from Melkbelly a few weeks ago, who are the only band to release LPs via WNR—until tomorrow, when Johanna Warren releases her latest collection of songs.

With a title lifted from Dungeons & Dragons, Chaotic Good expands her repertoire of soft folk and piano balladry, at times experimenting with an ambling narrative primitivism, with the opening “Rose Potion” sounding vaguely descendent of fellow Jo Newsom, at others recalling the rousing choruses of a Mitski, as on the climactic “Twisted.” In short, Chaotic Good is exactly what the title promises.

Before the full LP hits shelves tomorrow, Johanna took a sec to offer up a few words about her favorite predecessors from the Carpark discography, sharing vivid memories and perfect metaphors to carefully detail her affection for five of her favorite records from the label. Read what she has to say below—and if you purchase any of the albums on Bandcamp tomorrow, all proceeds go directly to the artist.

Chaotic Good is out tomorrow, May 1, via Wax Nine—pre-order it here.

Speedy Ortiz, Foil Deer

Like all my favorite music, this record keeps you guessing and defies any attempt you might make to pin it down. Epic shredding. Vocals doubling mathy guitar lines. Pretty and gritty in equal measure. Evocative, consistently surprising poetry (the opening stanza of “Raising the Skate” taught me two new words: hypnic and diaristic). Speedy is a life-affirmingly great band, and it’s been a real honor working with Sadie this year.

The Beths, Future Me Hates Me 

Makes me feel like I’m the reject protagonist of a ’90s alternative rom-com about to get my lucky break. It’s so pop part of me wants to hate it, but then it’s just undeniably very good. It’s like a perfectly balanced recipe: sparkly sweet hooks, an acidic kick of fuzz and noise, rounded out by the earthy bitterness of self-loathing.

Animal Collective, Campfire Songs

What a charming thing, to make a record live in one take on a porch outside at night. A beautiful portrait of potential energy—the buzzing electrical thrum of connectivity inside a seed just when it’s beginning to germinate, or in this case, between a group of people who are about to explode as a massively successful band but haven’t quite figured it out yet. Indispensable for solo naked LSD dance parties.

Beach House, Devotion

I just put this record on and was instantly sucked through a nostalgia wormhole back to my weird little bedroom in Red Hook with peeling yellow wallpaper, building a miniature junkyard planet for a stop-motion animation in 2010. I went to a Beach House show in NYC that year. I was so moved by Victoria’s presence, which struck me as powerfully genderless at a time when I was feeling particularly tortured by the shackles of performative femininity. I waited around after the room cleared out, and when I saw Alex come back out to wrap cables, I shuffled up to the foot of the stage clutching a copy of my band Sticklips’ first CD, which I asked him if he could please give to Victoria. He said, “Oh, sure, hold on, she’s right over here.” 

She came out with my CD in her hands and I immediately burst into tears. I don’t remember what exactly I said, but something to the effect of, “That was so amazing and I want to be where you are but it feels very far away and I have no idea how to get there.” She knelt down on the stage to look me in the eyes. What she said was so smart and sensitively attuned to what I needed to hear at that time: “Everything you see up here—the lights and projections and fog machines and whatever—that’s all aesthetics. It’ll come. You just keep writing your little songs.”

Melkbelly, PITH

This record synesthetically smells to me like that specific magical mix of spilled beer and ash and dust and sweat that accumulates on the floor of a punk house basement by the end of the night. I’m so happy someone is making music like this in 2020, and honored to call them Wax Nine kin.