Katie Von Schleicher’s Bleaksploitation was an accident, years in the making. While interning at Ba Da Bing Records, owner Ben Goldberg offered that she make a cassette for the label to release. It could be anything, demos or a live performance, but she took it a bit more seriously than Goldberg intended. The result was her first self-produced and engineered effort, a strange, hazy, pop-laden tape. Doing her own press under a pseudonym and referring to it as an “album,” Von Schleicher garnered enough attention for Bleaksploitation to see it released on vinyl in Spring 2016.
On her debut full-length, Von Schleicher strikes again on the magic that comes from her warped and uncompromising sound. Shitty Hits channels the bright, sunny radio burners of the 1970’s, songs you drive to, carefree, and songs you can cry to.
From start to finish, Shitty Hits confronts feelings of isolation and powerlessness. Opener ‘The Image’ (named for Daniel Boorstein’s The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America) finds Von Schleicher at bottom, struggling for perspective: “The image runs and runs together / I’m glancing at it on a screen / I can’t tell you how I feel / It runs and runs together / I’m standing beneath it.” Overheated vocals, distorted drums and unwieldy guitars push back, unrelenting. Von Schleicher fights to get out of her head the way Springsteen tries beating it out of town. Shitty Hits doesn’t tackle grandiosity, but mediocrity; the struggle of being deeply flawed and unmistakably human.
Conjuring the home recorded sound of Paul McCartney’s McCartney or Jeff Buckley’s Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, Shitty Hits was created on a tape machine at Von Schleicher’s childhood home in Maryland. Where Bleaksploitation courted a kind of sonic nihilism, Shitty Hits shows confidence and growth. It ends in unflinching self-realization, as Von Schleicher sings “Where is everything I hold to be true? / When you feel like you’re a door they’re knocking on / Or worse, that no one passes through / Do I hold my life? / No one’s gonna sell it back / Over my head.” Words form the questions, answers are given in sound.