Best of 2021: Cynthia Sley Loved White Hills’ Angst This Year

The Bush Tetras vocalist talks the new singles from the New York psych-rock band.

I love White Hills. I saw them perform once and they’re great. I’ve been listening to their new single “Stop Mute Defeat” — I love their sound.

They’re kind of tied with IDLES — IDLES put “Too Many Creeps” on a compilation they made for MOJO Magazine in November, and I started listening to them. They’ve got this new release out called Crawler. I love them, because they kind of have that throwback sound — like The Fall, or Bush Tetras-y.

But I love to have a girl in the band. I feel like it’s a little bit of slim pickins’ there, because it’s still very male dominated. I always get excited to hear a girl singing or girls playing — in my mind, I think I assumed there would be a lot more girls joining the forces. 

Another White Hills single is “Puttin’ On the Pressure.” It’s got an angst. This year, everyone has this thing where, they can’t put their finger on their anxiety. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends, and they’re feeling pressure, they’re feeling this anxiety that they don’t know what’s gonna happen next. That’s very COVID. It’s this underlying, pervasive anxiety.

I’m just happy that people are actually releasing things — we wrote a lot of songs during COVID, and it’s nice to know that other people did too. It’s a very cathartic thing to do. 

As told to Annie Fell. 

As lead vocalist of the Bush Tetras, a seminal post-punk band in New York  City, Cynthia Sley produced some of the most distinctive aspects of the Tetras sounds. Sley’s vocals were half spoken, half sung and in songs like “Too Many Creeps” and “You Can’t Be Funky” she repeated simple phrases creating a hypnotic monotony similar to Pat Place’s guitar rhythms. “Too Many Creeps” was a mainstay of the infamous early ’80s New York “No Wave” club scene.