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Standout Track: No. 3, “100 Tears,” which starts out ominous and whisper-soft, like a Bedhead song, but builds to an almost peppy final section reminiscent of early Belle & Sebastian. Songwriter Richard Howard, 23, and his Arlington-based band call their music “flower punk,” but the term doesn’t quite fit. “We just wanted to play quiet music in people’s bathrooms,” Howard says of the band when it was just an acoustic project featuring him and his brother Jonathan. Now it’s a still-quiet six piece with drums, amps, and Johnny Ward, of Sterling, Va., art-folkies Pygmy Lush.
Musical Motivation: The song shouldn’t be mistaken for a bathroom jam. “I was playing guitar in my laundry room, and [Cigarette member] Evan [Natala] said, ‘Oh, whoa’ and liked it,” Howard says. “It evolved to the point where it’s not my song anymore, it’s a Cigarette song.” The group recorded this version of “100 Tears,” which will appear on a three-song vinyl release this fall, in a mansion in Richmond. It wasn’t exactly an environment you’d expect could produce something so quiet and strange. “A bunch of noise musicians live there,” Howard says.
Sound Therapy: “100 Tears,” Howard says, is “kind of about hitting rock bottom, then being aware of yourself and your tendencies, and trying to make something positive.” Fittingly, he describes Cigarette as its own therapeutic activity. “It’s a spiritual band,” says Howard, who recently quit his job so the band can embark on some longer tours this summer. “We all like hanging out, but when we get together and have this activity, it keeps us occupied in a good way, as opposed to succumbing to heavy substance abuse or becoming a doctor.”