Automatic’s fresh post-punk energy excites at KCRW’s Apogee Studio session Los Angeles-based Automatic, born out of the L.A. DIY scene, brings all their post-punk feminine energy to the Apogee Studio stage, fresh off the release of their new album 'Excess.'
LOS ANGELES, CA — The year is 1989. I’m coasting down the Pacific Coast Highway, headphones on, ocean breeze in my face under the cool late summer glow. It’s the city of artists and dreamers, believers and shakers, and protectors of the earth. Cue Automatic, the post-punk revival indie music trio seems to have carved their own style of art-rock music in today’s modern world.
Comprised of Izzy Glaudini (synths, vocals), Lola Dompé (drums, vocals), and Halle Saxon (bass, vocals), the three-piece act holds it together with some really impressive musicality. Still, beyond that, the real catch with seeing these women live is that within their three-piece entourage, all three women have the opportunity to shine and pull their weight — and pull the weight they did.
During their live Apogee Studio session with KCRW, Automatic commanded the stage with mesmerizing ease. The trio seems to combine the worlds of Riot Grrrl and late 1970s post-punk grunge with a New Wave flair. Their sonic soundscape is synth and bass-heavy at heart, with lyrics that are simple and catchy yet capture a sense of disillusionment, as they are three young women making art in a time where the world and what we knew of it has been turned completely upside down.
Their new album Excess, which was released on June 24 of this year by Stone’s Throw Records, is the follow-up to their debut 2019 album Signal, which became a KCRW favorite and Top 10 Album of the Year. Their comeback returns fresh out of the pandemic and offers up a fresh and focused sound.
In songs like “Signal,” with its catchy bass loop that slides over a punchy and rhythmic drumbeat with fun post-punk garage synths, their sound is purely addicting. It reminds me of playing an early 2000s video game like Tony Hawk’s Underground with its angsty punk-rock roots as Izzy sings:
“Going left or going right, you can’t decide
To slave away another day from 9 to 5
Oh look at me, machinery of modern life
Turn off an on, it’s not enough to be alive”
Their robotic synths and bass lines are commanding, and their punchy drumbeats are enticing. Relying heavily on a guitar-less sound, Automatic mesmerizes with the command of their instruments and sound. Lola Dompé’s drumming and vocals are felt and palpable; Izzy Glaudini’s synths and frequently monotone vocals work well, as she throws in some kitschy sound effects, hand claps, and even a shaker, as in songs like “Venus Hour” and the more melodic “Turn Away” from Excess. What proved most exciting for me, personally, was seeing Halle Saxon throw down her fatty, percussive bass lines with a certain discipline and ease. It was her strong attack and command of her instrument that really brought it all together, for me.
Automatic is an exciting L.A-based trio you need to look out for because, in a time where we are bombarded with new releases and TikToks every single day from every corner of social media, it’s refreshing to come across a new act that is making music — and making it well. Not only does this trio play their instruments with particular ease and focus, but they’re passionate about themes like climate change, corporate greed, and sexism. And they’re doing their part to say something against it.
As stated in their live interview with KCRW’s Program Director of Music Anne Litt, the band mentioned that with the pandemic, they felt “the pressure was off.”
“Our first record was just our first songs we ever played together — innocent,” they said. “There was so much other heavier things going on in the world [and] we weren’t so egotistical to think, ‘Okay our second LP has to be like this!’ We got to write for the sake of letting off steam.”
As a first-time listener to the band, I came in with zero expectations. As a lover of live music, real instruments, and even moreso a female band of instruments, I was pleasantly surprised. Automatic balances a fine line between underground post-punk and pop with distinctly feminine energy, which is something I feel Los Angelenos and beyond will eat up. And, with their cool dystopian L.A. modern meets 1970s counterculture aesthetic, these girls deliver — and make playing in a band look so damn fun.
With accolades opening up for bands like Tame Impala, Osees, and Bauhaus — and not to mention that Lola is the daughter of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins — the band seems to have a promising and exciting future, with a slate of shows touring nationwide this fall.
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