Gladie - Safe Sins (Cover Artwork)


Safe Sins (2020)

Lame-O Records

Cayetana are a beloved band. They created more space in punk for women and non-binary people lifting them out of the South Philadelphia basement scene and to a broader audience with their final release New Kind of Normal. As Cayetana was winding down, guitarist and singer Augusta Koch began playing shows under the moniker Gladie. These initial starts from Gladie were often Koch with just an acoustic guitar and a few electronic loops. If you were fortunate enough to catch those intimate performances, seeing the full evolution of the project with the release of Gladie’s debut record Safe Sins is a thrilling culmination.

Gladie is rounded out by Matt Schimelfenig of Three Man Cannon, Ian Farmer of Modern Baseball, and Pat Conaboy of Spirit of the Beehive. It’s impossible not to draw at least a starting comparison to Cayetana and Three Man Cannon in composition and defining vocals. “Twenty Twenty” and “A Place Far Different” respectively demonstrate this. Beyond that, Safe Sins opener sets the tone and theme with an ambient, synthy texture as Koch admits, “I don’t know what calm is / But I know what it isn’t." 

Contrasting the intentional lofi aesthetics on Safe Sins, there is a SoCal 90s pop-rock foundation. “When You Leave The Sun” shares sunlight with certain aspects of Bad Astronaut. “Even At Your Easel” finishes on a groove with Koch singing “We give them credit / We don’t owe them that much” that’s impossible for it not to catch the ear. Following track order, “Cosmic Joke” and “Paper Bags” space out in detached coolness in the same shade. The subtle acoustic guitar solos that punctuate each song wouldn’t be wrong coming from the softer and poppier sides of Everclear or Sugar Ray.

A stand out with any release featuring Koch are the lyrics and Safe Sins is no different. There is a clear shift in content from Cayeatana here by way of the process of exploring grief, the acceptance, and the contentment that follows. “Parlor” is a good example with the lyrics “Maybe someday time will intercept / And I’ll be able to grant my own success / To be happy.” Still, throughout Safe Sins the songs tell of the escapes we allow ourselves to process pain like getting high and the comfort of a body pressed against you like a personal heater. “We develop habits like busy people do / I am selfish, lazy, and guilty too” states Koch on “Twenty Twenty.” The stories told acknowledge those momentary escapes are part of emotional processing for many. All the while, the grief from what exactly remains undefined and relatable all at once with the personal and political interconnected.

Safe Sins finds Gladie setting its own path forward by encompassing how this project started and what it’s transformed into. The sum of all its parts feels like it hit the aim of its inception. A sunny album for heavy times.