Asher White "New Excellent Woman" LP
Asher White’s music is a complex and heartfelt reaction to the churn of our modern world. With tender intimacy and resounding anxiety, White takes a wide view through the lens of her own queer sexual politics and transgender identity; what does it mean to renew, to progress, to transform? What is lost, gained, or irreversibly altered?
At 22 years old, White has developed a massive self-released discography: over a dozen albums since 2015, each one started the moment the last one was finished. New Excellent Woman is a distillation of these experiments and discoveries, a new achievement in songwriting that stands astride the cracks in the earth and lopsided ground. Songs jump between styles like a pubescent sex drive, all locked together by White’s ability to pull melody out of chaos.
New Excellent Woman wanders a meticulous cut-and-pasted path paved by forebears like The Books and Animal Collective. It sounds like a live band, bursting with kinetic energy, but the album was constructed alone in her Providence, RI studio, where she arranged, performed, recorded, and mixed the record herself. The ingenuity of Dirty Projectors is laced with the catchiness and warmth of The Kinks, and maybe a dash of Elephant 6. It’s like an ADHD party and you’re the first to arrive.
New Excellent Woman is built from detritus, often quite literally: from the thrift store amplifiers and scavenged keyboards she uses to her penchant for discovering and sampling obscure YouTube videos into her songs. The thick fog of “Bedsong” is made up of little more than a Hammond organ found on craigslist and a few muffled drums piled with rags; opener “Ptolemy” uses a seemingly random video of teenage boredom as its textural and rhythmic backdrop.
The ceaseless march of our modern world can feel both awe-inspiring and abysmal. New highways and condominiums are erected in a matter of weeks as historic burial grounds are demolished. Even short TikToks seem to expire in real time. Asher White won’t change things, but New Excellent Woman gives us a fresh and poignant perspective of the shifting world around us through her eyes—and maybe a connection is the best we can hope for.