Stereogum’s 90 Favorite Songs Of 2018

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Each December, in an effort to celebrate outstanding achievements and commemorate The Year That Was, the pop culture media industrial complex foists lots of lists upon the world. We here at Stereogum are party to that deluge; we shared our collective conclusions about 2018’s best albums a week ago and have been More »

Half Waif – “Ocean Scope” Video

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In April, Half Waif enchanted us with her third full-length album, Lavender, a vivid collection of experimental synth songs that explore what it means to feel at home, reconciling with both longing and belonging. Today, she’s released visuals for the album’s undulating closer, “Ocean Scope.” … More »

The 50 Best Albums Of 2018 So Far

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Have you ever talked to your parents about what it was like to live through the late ’60s? National leaders were gunned down right and left. Entire generations were asserting themselves loudly. War was erupting, and nobody seemed quite certain why. People were walking on the moon. Hippie cults were chopping people up. A few … More »

Music Review: Half Waif – Lavender

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Half Waif


[Cascine; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

When possible, song and dance avoid each other. At some point, though, the acuity of songwriting must confront meter’s totalizing sweep. According to song, rhythm fails to appreciate the richness of language and line, whose contours simply can’t stand rhythm’s cyclic habits. A reckoning will be required. On her latest, Lavender, musician Nandi Rose Plunkett splits the difference, giving us gorgeous songwriting bathed in infectious synth pop. “She bargained for precision with rhythm and beauty,” writes Kathleen Stewart of some unknown object, and now I apply it to Half Waif, a project led by Plunkett, co-produced by David Tolomei, and supported by Adan Carlo and Zack Levine.

Words behave like beats on this record, raising the question: what isn’t a beat? Drops pervade the tracks. Is every beat a drop? Every drop’s a bounty, certainly, and nowhere as abundant as on “Lavender Burning,” a song about the space filled by a “strange kind of loving.” Here and everywhere, phrases settle into evocative patterns, with language catching on feeling — boredom, loss, longing — and feelings caught on thought. Notions arrive from varied angles: terse wordplay charged with motion on “Lilac House” or abrupt metric breakthroughs in deliverance of scattered visions on “Solid 2 Void,” where emergence doubles up on itself. Every other song propels us just as well.

If the order of the day is a wry humor that often frays into jadedness, this record’s landscape of sentiment courts no such wear. Sheer loveliness reigns eternal; the music’s outer emotional boundary is not cutting, just indignant, a place the music ventures only as needed. On the sparing “Back in Brooklyn,” for example, Plunkett’s voice traces its insistent limit. Word and beat edge themselves to a standoff, sizing each other up in the midst of a proclamation: “The farther away I walk/ The more I’m a whisper/ Listen for me now/ He’s gotta listen for me now.” The voice unravels, beats fade, words cease, and the synths arise to inundate the void with recognition. I once doubted there was any cure for being taken for granted; now I see it’s been here all along.

Album Of The Week: Half Waif Lavender

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Some songs are spells. The ones Nandi Rose Plunkett casts as Half Waif conjure meaning out of everyday human experience. Through her lens, a walk through the garden, a lover’s spat, or a moment alone becomes a catalyst for self-reckoning and sometimes, revelation. On Lavender, Half Waif’s third full-length album and most cohesive collection to … More »

Enough Apocalypse

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Half WaifThis place used to be a big part of Nandi Rose Plunkett’s life. This is where her life happened. Nearby, that’s where she lived as a young, hungry artist, fresh out of college and newly transplanted to the city. We pass a giant enclosed lot crammed with the tour buses you see crawling the streets … More »

Stream Half Waif Lavender

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Nandi Rose Plunkett has been recording as Half Waif since at least 2012, the date of her earliest Bandcamp release. A lot of that music has been promising, rewarding, even downright great. We’ve spotlighted quite a bit of it. But wow, with Lavender she’s really doing the thing. This album is what her whole … More »

Half Waif – “Back In Brooklyn”

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Half Waif impressed us a whole lot last year with her form/a EP, and her upcoming album Lavender is shaping up to be even better. We’ve already heard “Keep It Out” and “Torches,” and now Nandi Rose Plunkett has shared another new song called “Back In Brooklyn.” It’s a gorgeous, dynamic piano … More »

Half Waif Says Pinegrove’s New Album Skylight Is Still Coming Out, Band Is Already Working On The Next One

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Late last year, shortly after sharing a new single, Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall responded to a private accusation of sexual coercion by issuing a lengthy public statement apologizing for his behavior with women, cancelling a planned tour, and putting the whole band on hiatus. Nandi Rose Plunkett left Pinegrove last August … More »

Half Waif – “Torches”

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Last month, we got our first taste of the new Half Waif album, Lavender, with “Keep It Out,” which topped our best songs of the week list. Today, Nandi Rose Plunkett is sharing the album’s second single, “Torches,” and it’s just as great. It sputters to life, pristine and haunting. Plunkett’s voice is … More »