Photo Credit : Zach Hertzman // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Speed Queen marks the return of Little Scream (a.k.a. Laurel Sprengelmeyer). Her followup to 2016’s Cult Following arrives October 25 via Dine Alone Records is available to pre-order now. Today, CBC Music is sharing the lyric video for Speed Queen’s all-too-real opening song “Dear Leader”, featuring cameos from The National, Arcade Fire, Superchunk, Holly Miranda, Leif Vollebekk, Mélissa Laveaux, and more.
“This is a lyric video made up largely from crowd-sourced submissions from friends around the world, from São Paulo, Paris, and Barcelona to Des Moines, all shot on a phone,” says Sprengelmeyer. “Many artists are pictured, but many are people I encountered while working on the video with documentary filmmaker Shannon Walsh. She and I approached people on the street and heard many interesting stories along the way, from the native man from Bella Bella who told us about being told to “go back to where you came from” (he jumped and replied, “I’m here”), to a man paying homage to lost friends at the AIDS memorial at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, to a group of young people returning from a rally to support LGBTQIA rights.
Much of the protest footage was shot by Shannon herself while in Hong Kong during the Umbrella Movement protests of 2014.
I would like to use the launch of this video to raise awareness about the 1000 Cities initiative—something being spearheaded by musician and environmentalist Becky Foon (pictured in the video) and Jesse Paris Smith. It’s a simple concept with a powerful message: If 1000 cities around the world adopt Paris climate accord standards, the world can still meet its global emissions targets. The idea is not to just sign a petition, but to get involved in supporting and advocating for zero-emissions targets with specific timeline commitments in our own cities and communities. It’s a way of empowering all of us to be part of reversing climate change.”
MORE ON SPEED QUEEN
On her third album, Little Scream offers us a reflection on class and poverty in America. Speed Queen began as bits of prose written while touring her last album across North America – observing the slow entropy of the US, ruminating on her own low-income upbringing in a flyover state, and, as she says, “taking it all in from the privileged position of being a new Canadian.”
The title, which alludes to the opiate crisis, actually refers to a washing machine. Little Scream says, “When you’re struggling, nothing says you’ve made it more than getting your own washing machine. Speed Queen is about the dream of making it, and feeling desperately close but missing it.”
The album is gently accusatory. She doesn’t let herself or any of her listeners off the hook. In “Privileged Child”, she reminds wealthy people who like to adopt the style of the poor and working class that “poverty’s a feeling money just can’t buy.” On “Dear Leader,” she reminds those opposing migration that “when the waters rise, it’s gonna be you, Miami,” warning them that when they’re needing help, “…you will ask your God, but he’ll be busy getting risen, and the rich will be too busy buying stock in private prisons—that’s where they’ll send you for talking about socialism.” The biting commentary served with a sense of humor softens its presentation but doesn’t detract from its power. This is a theme throughout Speed Queen, where humor and warm heartedness prevail despite some of the darker subjects touched upon.
Montreal-based songwriter and guitarist Laurel Sprengelmeyer has been playing music under the moniker Little Scream since 2008. In 2011, she released The Golden Record, which Pitchfork dubbed “a stellar debut” and NPR called “an absolutely captivating record.” It was included in NPR’s Best Albums of 2011 list, and the New York Times evoked its “hints of the divine,” including Little Scream as one of the best new acts to follow at SXSW. Her second album Cult Following, which features guests including Sufjan Stevens, Mary Margaret O’Hara, and Sharon Van Etten, earned Little Scream new band of the week status from The Guardian and received five stars from Bust Magazine. Cult Following included the catchy Prince-inspired single “Love As A Weapon” which, according to the liner notes, she and her sister hoped would buy their mom, a cleaning woman in Illinois, “unlimited gift certificates to the Red Lobster.”
Since the release of Cult Following, Little Scream has stayed busy as a member of Richard Reed Parry’s Quiet River of Dust, touring with and co-writing songs from the albums Vol. 1: This Side of the River and Vol. 2: That Side of the River. A natural collaborator, she has appeared as a vocalist and/or guitarist on recordings for The National, The Barr Brothers, Will Butler, and Saltland, among others. She has appeared on two Red Hot compilations as well as charity singles to benefit the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Standing Rock.
Speed Queen release shows will be announced shortly.