New Music Monday: Aurora Nealand

Wandering around the streets of New Orleans, which is the best way to experience New Orleans, you’re just as likely to encounter Aurora Nealand playing soprano sax on the corner of Frenchmen and Royal with her traditional ragtime band, The Royal Roses, as you are to pass a club in the Quarter and hear the inventive, political art-pop she makes as a solo artist under the name Monocle. The intersections of Nealand’s music, and the ease with which she traverses the two, bottles some of the essence of the Crescent City. She revels in the tradition of bandleading, leaning on both musical and physical theater training as frontwoman of the Roses, but also tinkers away at the thoroughly modern, unnerving-in-the-best-way work she creates as Monocle. Nealand says her first Monocle record, to be released in April, has been brewing for years as she’s worked on other projects and built her career on streetcorners and clubs in New Orleans. What’s most impressive about that fact is that “Whistleblower,” the album’s first single, couldn’t be more timely. Either Nealand is prescient and had this song ready years ago, or she has seamlessly integrated a politics of kindness (the name of the record is KINDHUMANKIND), empathy, and revolution into the direction her solo work will take. Everything Aurora Nealand works on feels essential, whether it’s fashioned after a genre that peaked a century ago, or built entirely out of the technology and political circumstance of today. 

Here’s the video for Whistleblower: 

WHISTLEBLOWER from belovid on Vimeo.


And a taste of the Royal Roses here: 

by Katie Presley
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Katie Presley is a writer and editor currently based on the East Coast (help, how did this happen??). She's been with Bitch in one form or another since 2010, when she started as a New Media Intern, and most recently served as Bitch's first and only Music Editor, from 2016-2017. Past resume lines include Assistant Producer for All Songs Considered at NPR Music, panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour, and bylines at NPR and Ms. Katie is also a doula and herbalist, and writes a blog on herbal medicine, "The Herbal Apprentice." She also co-founded the first full-spectrum doula organization in Texas, The Bridge Collective. She is also a late-comer to being a Dog Person, but currently lives with four cats. 

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