The 1998 flick SLC Punk! entertained audiences with all kinds of counterculture cliques, and in doing so, they also exposed Utah’s more ingrained sociopolitical climate – that of Reagan-era republicans, yuppies, and the Mormon church. Whether or not the movie feels “authentic” to you, it’s not unreasonable to guess there’ve been plenty more who’ve felt oppressed in the SLC area since the turn of the millennium.
Take for instance singer-songwriter Hunter Prueger, who spent much of his life repressing his intrinsically gay identity under strict Mormon tutelage. Solo home recordings in Salt Lake City, borrowing from the DIY philosophies of noise music, provided Prueger with some much-needed solace. In 2022 Prueger’s project Middle Sattre (pronounced “sat-tree”) relocated to the so-called “blueberry in the tomato soup” here in Austin, Texas, and soon expanded into a six-piece, then eventually the experimental folk octet we know today. Unbound by obsolescent beliefs, this eight-piece continues to defy convention, even when it comes to how their instruments are played.
Middle Sattre embarked on their maiden tour last July, shared their first studio single “Pouring Water” in September, and followed that up with powerful pair of originals in November. All of this sets the stage of Middle Sattre’s debut album, Tendencies, out February 9th. At just shy of an hour long and sporting song titles like “I Once Felt Safe”, “Imperfect Hands”, and “Seven Years Since the Fall”, Tendencies is a deeply confessional saga of queer self-acceptance. That vulnerable, candid character glows throughout the record’s fourth lead single, “Hate Yourself to the Core”, releasing midnight tonight. Its lyrics chronicle Prueger’s deep-seated anguish, ideations of self-harm, and repeated depletions of self-esteem, and its gorgeous string sonics perfectly capture such shared experiences of disquiet. When combined, “Hate Yourself to the Core” sounds like a next generation Elliott Smith song that can comfort anyone who’s ever faced similar desperation.