Illuminati Hotties | Let Me Do One More (Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless)

Photo by Lyssyelle Laricchia, courtesy of Grandstand Media

Let Me Do One More, the latest album from Sarah Tudzin, aka Illuminati Hotties, might be her most fully realized music to date. We all contain multitudes, right? Tudzin does. Her music has an inveterate weirdness, but it’s permeated with sincerity, and even sweetness. She’s adept at writing careening pop punk that knows not to veer too far onto the hard shoulder, and at juxtaposing it with atmospheric, intimate down tempo numbers. She calls it “tenderpunk.” Most of all, no matter what mode Tudzin writes in, her music is emotionally honest and socio-politically astute. That, plus her gift for hooks, makes her music compelling.

The album kicks off with “Pool Hopping,” a peppy, summery ode to both making the pool weather rounds, and seeing other people when your main fling can’t or won’t commit. It neatly showcases the Illuminati Hotties ethos and sound—pop punk bubbling with power pop, infectious basslines, and Tudzin singing lyrics that are at once confident and insecure in her sort of nervous-enthusiastic vocal style.

Weird is a feature, not a bug. The weirdest Illuminati Hotties songs tend to have titles to match. “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” initially lurches around like the half-awake spawn of Dead Milkmen and Talking Heads before morphing into a freewheeling, singalong chorus. And just when you, the listener, start to sing along, Tudzin hits the brakes and goes back to a herky verse, before giving way to a high energy grand finale, which sounds like the chanting of a warped high school cheerleading squad.

Love me, fight me, choke me, bite me

The DNC is playing dirty

Text me, touch me, call me daddy

I’m so sad I can’t do laundry

So I do a dabble where I dribble the babble, baby

I had it bad but now I’m back in the saddle, baby

An ex-terrestrial, I used to be grounded, baby

Pitiful puppy, pick me up at the pound now

I guess I’m too fun

I guess I’m too funny

If you’re not laughing, baby

Then you’re not making money

That’s not the only example. “Joni: LA’s No.1 Health Goth” (these are real song titles) is an acid-tongued, Farfisa organ-laced garage rock number about the kinds of people you hope not to meet in LA, or in social circles or scenes, in general.

Meanwhile, “The Sway” is an acoustic shuffle, a plea for a partner to hang in there through uncertain times and mental states, and to “share all your stains and your bruises with me.” Album finale “Growth” also showcases the stark, lowkey side of Tudzin’s music. Accompanied by 4-track tape hiss and lo-fi acoustic guitar, she laments loss, and how heartbreak is supposed to automatically encompass personal growth. Even when it mostly just feels like running over the same old ground.

Photo of Sarah Tudzin of Illuminiati Hotties by Courtney Coles

Each time I come home

I still look for a dog

It’s a force of old habit

It’s not that I forgot

For a second I’m alright

‘Till I realize she’s gone

I guess being an adult is just being alone

I’ll go back to the couch, let you stare at your phone

We’ll pretend this is normal

We’ll pretend this is growth

Many songs split the difference. “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” is more low key, sounding a bit like Elliot Smith covering Low, while reminding listeners that it’s not so easy to opt out of participation in a capitalist society. The jaunty “u v v p” mixes surf rock, swaying early 1960s vocal groups, and country twang, and finds Tudzin trading verses with Buck Meek, singing of two people whose orbits often cross, but never synchronize. It’s filled with the affectionate longing for someone who often, but not always, leaves you hanging—and is a tune that really gets to the wildly energetic yet thoughtfully empathetic heart of what makes Illuminati Hotties’ music tick.

Tudzin started Illuminati Hotties as a sort of living ad for her production and sound engineering for hire work, but it’s clear that between Let Me Do One More and Kiss Yr Frenemies, her 2018 debut as Illuminati Hotties, that this band and these songs are far more than just sonic subway posters, and that in giving her songwriting a home and a spotlight, she’s found a growing, eager audience of like-minded, big-hearted weirdos. | Mike Rengel

illuminati hotties 2022 tour dates – All Dates with Fenne Lily

2/8/22 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy and Harriet’s (IH only)

2/9/22 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (IH only)

2/11/22 – San Francisco – The Chapel*

2/12/22 – Los Angeles, CA – Highland Park Ebell*

2/13/22 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon*

2/14/22 – Tucson, AZ – 191 Toole*

2/16/22 – Austin, TX – Antone’s*

2/17/22 – Fort Worth, TX – Tulips*

2/18/22 – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge*

2/19/22 – Nashville, TN – The Blue Room at Third Man Records*

2/20/22 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade – Purgatory*

2/21/22 – Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall*

2/22/22 – Washington, DC – Black Cat*

2/24/22 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom*

2/25/22 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair^

2/26/22 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church^

2/27/22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Spirit^

2/28/22 – Columbus, OH – A&R Music Bar^

3/2/22 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern^

3/3/22 – Ferndale, MI – The Loving Touch^

3/4/22  – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall^

3/5/22  – Milwaukee, WI  -The Back Room at Colectivo^

3/6/22 –  Minneapolis, MN – 7th St. Entry^

3/10/22 – Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore Cabaret^

3/11/22 – Seattle, WA – Neumos^

3/12/22 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios^

*w/ Katy Kirby

^w/ Pom Pom Squad

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