I don’t recommend you take the Grammys seriously, ever—Rosalía’s perfect MOTOMAMI isn’t even nominated for Album of the Year, but Coldplay’s piss in the wind was. I’m not mad about it, you’re mad about it! (JK, I’m very mad about it.)
But I will take this opportunity to invite you to join me in rooting for the thrice-nominated Turnstile. I say this as I wear the sweatshirt I bought at one of the post-hardcore band’s shows last year, a sold-out gig in an absurdist Brooklyn outdoor club in the middle of the pouring rain. (They handed out ponchos to everyone.)
The band’s third album, Glow On—released in August 2021, but the Recording Academy is nothing but consistently ignorant about that sort of thing—spawned not just a slew of genre-pushing headbangers, but also accessibly engrossing ones. The Turnstile of yore was perhaps not the kind of band to receive mainstream attention; I mean, clearly it didn’t, since it took until last year for both the Recording Academy and Taco Bell to notice its catalog. But the Grammy-nominated tracks “Blackout” and “Holiday” are two examples of the stellar, singular work that Turnstile has been consistently putting out over the course of its 12 years in the biz.
That the group’s three nominations span two different genres is telling. “Holiday” is nominated for both Best Rock Song and Best Metal Performance, while “Blackout” earned a nod for Best Rock Performance. (Somewhat inexplicable to me, but well-deserved all the same.) The power of Turnstile is its ability to twist true pop melodies into something harder—pounding drums, metalhead riffs, and lead singer Brendan Yates’ undeniably pretty voice. It’s the mark of post-hardcore, which is what makes the genre so appealing to even Sad Indie Girls like me: Even as the music itself gets heavier, the vocals remain viscerally emotional.
For proof, just watch the band’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert from early last year, which immediately won me over. It’s not just because of the teddy bears attached to every wall as some adorable soundproofing. But the restraints of the at-home performance only highlight how tuneful the band’s quick little rock songs are—“Turnstile Love Connection” and “Underwater Boi” are genuinely moving, courtesy of 1980s British post-punk-style synth and drummer Daniel Fang’s propulsive rhythm section.
Chugging guitars may suggest otherwise to the metal-verse, but listen to the bridge of “Alien Love Call” and tell me this song isn’t heartbreakingly pretty. The effect only compounds when you see it live—there was nothing more life-affirming as a live music fan than standing in the pouring rain, singing “Can’t be the only one!” with hundreds of other fans.
This is all to say that the Grammys are hardly a tastemaker or bellwether or purveyor of good recommendations. But Turnstile deserves the press that this mainstream honor is clearly bestowing upon them. Real music-heads have been listening to the band for a while already, but it’s not too late for you to catch on, too. I don’t care if you’re a punk or a pop girlie—this is good rock ‘n’ roll, uh, music.