LA Indie Musician Hand Habits’ New Single ‘Placeholder’ Is Quietly Seething

LA-based indie musician Hand Habits (real name Meg Duffy) has shared the title track from their upcoming sophomore LP, Placeholder. Duffy, who was a longtime session and tour guitarist for Kevin Morby before starting Hand Habits, writes with devastating acuity about the experience of feeling like a “placeholder” — someone’s second choice, a seat warmer, “an exchange for what you had.”

“If you’ve ever held someone’s seat in a theater, if you’ve been a bench warmer, if you’ve ever placed a reserved sign on top of a tablecloth, if you’ve been an ‘extra’ or a ‘stand in’ for something, you’ve experienced what being a placeholder feels like to some extent. You observe,” Duffy told NPR Music. It’s a lonely condition, but one that most people can relate to.

The video for “Placeholder” matches the track’s melancholy, quietly fuming mood. Duffy explores an old fishing boat and pier, out all alone on the water, but the loneliness is pierced by moments of weirdness. Just after singing about flipping the script on the person who made them feel like a placeholder, Duffy stumbles across a severed fish head and kisses it, an act of defiance (and just a really odd, cool visual moment).

Hand Habits’ sophomore album, Placeholder, is due out via Saddle Creek on March 1. You can pre-order it here, and watch the video for “Placeholder” above.