SURVIVAL GUIDE Expresses Feelings of Rage-Fueled Revenge With “Sour Sorrow”

“Emily brings to life a depth of emotion through her style of indie rock blended with hints of electronic and dream pop. You are captivated by strong vocals that take you on a musical journey.” – Music Junkie Press

“Whitehurst’s familiar vibrato and timbre carry whispers of her punk beginnings as her soprano vocals soar over electronic beats and synths.” – San Antonio Current

“Survival Guide may quickly end up in heavy rotation on your music device or record player.”  – San Francisco Chronicle

“For those looking for some passion behind an electronic soul, look to Survival Guide.” – New Noise Magazine

“…And that is one of the many qualities that I find the most endearing about M and Survival Guide. She is not afraid to take chances, yet does so while remaining a viable brand in the music scene.” – Jammerzine

“…[deathdream‘s] ethereal rock vibe wrapped in a poppish blanket makes it an easy listen.” – 100% Rock Magazine

Survival Guide


Survival Guide
Expresses Feelings of Rage-Fueled Revenge
With “Sour Sorrow” Video Out Today

Fourth Full-Length Album deathdreams
Out Now via Double Helix Records

NOVEMBER 16, 2023 (San Antonio, TX) – “It’s like a gritty indie film of heartbreak to add to the current collection — I love the way the videos each have their own feel, but you still have a sense that they belong together, much like the songs on deathdreams,” says Emily “Agent M” Whitehurst, vocalist of indie electropop outfit Survival Guide, about the concept surrounding her “Sour Sorrow” video, out today.

The cathartic song comes off her newly released fourth full length album deathdreams (release date: October 19, 2023 via Double Helix Records), and she says it was the first song she finished for the album. “It was an assignment for a combined songwriting and recording class I took online. I spent a lot of time telling myself it would be too hard to write an album as a solo artist (even though I wanted to), so this song means a lot to me because it represents when I finally sat down and took measures to do something about it.”

Coming to her while her emotions and grief were still raw, the lyrics for this “emotionally charged” breakup song flowed freely out of her. “I know breakup songs are nothing new, but this is one of the most vulnerable songs I’ve ever written, and I hope others out there can relate so I don’t have to cringe alone.” The video (out today) was done in collaboration with The Motivated Mind Group who had directed her three previous videos “Blood Perfume,”  “Lady Neptune,” and “Pie.”

“The production on this one was extremely stripped-down. Bryan [Heiden, video director] conceptualized, wrote, filmed and edited the whole thing! He wanted to take it in a different direction by doing mostly handheld shots and natural lighting. For most of this video I’m looking angry or upset, which was a fun acting challenge! The way Bryan edited it together makes it extra intense. I like that there’s so much implied in the story but there are still unanswered questions.”

SURVIVAL GUIDE’s “Sour Sorrow”

Produced by Bob Hoag (Dear and the Headlights, The Ataris, The Format) at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ, the songs on deathdreams came from “a handful of dreams” that involved Whitehurst’s own death in various ways over the last few years. “They’ve all been profound for me,” she says. “Because of this, it seemed natural to call the album deathdreams. I like the opposing imagery and feelings those words can conjure. I like how dreams can be interpreted as soft, sweet, or strange and death as dark and ominous. These descriptors fit various songs on the album as well, so it seemed like the right title for the collection.”

At times a darkly sonic and emotional hand grenade, and others a sparkly shimmering rainbow of rich melodies and textures, deathdreams is a tour de force that showcases the breadth and depth of Whitehurst’s songwriting, lyrical imagery, and vocal fortitude. “My favorite kinds of albums are the ones that take you places and have a song for every mood, so that’s what I made,” she says excitedly about the wide-ranging topics featured on the album.

Survival Guide album cover


  1. “Bad Little Seed”
  2. Sour Sorrow
  3. Pie
  4. Blood Perfume
  5. “Sharpshooter”
  6. Lady Neptune
  7. “wordswordswords”
  8. “Fight Me”
  9. “Don’t Feel Bad”
  10. “Stay Dead”
  11. “I’ll Picture You”

A former Northern California native now residing in San Antonio, Texas, Em is an electronic indie-pop artist with a background in punk. Her music obsession began with Green Day, leading her to a dreams-come-true life of punk rock as she traversed continents fronting the band Tsunami Bomb as “Agent M.” 

Over the years, her music gradually shifted toward synthpop in The Action Design, then further into the electronic indiepop realm as Survival Guide. Her danceable tunes evoke a sonic birthday cake: alternating layers of Depeche Mode, Metric, Peter Gabriel, and Grimes, with vibrant melodies and vocals as the icing on top. “Music is crucial to my survival,” she says wholeheartedly, adding, “Survival Guide is one woman trying to shape her own place in this world as a musician.”

Emily Whitehurst is the solo force behind Survival Guide. Her fourth-full length album deathdreams is out now via Double Helix Records. The video for “Sour Sorrow” is out today.

“Sour Sorrow” lyrics

Survival Guide
Photo Credit: Kat Carey

It’s so embarrassing to admit that I still feel sick
When our song comes on the radio
Flavor’s bitter like vinegar but you’ve been with her
For ages now, I know
I’m so tired of pining over you
If there was something I could do, I would do it

Parting is such sour sorrow
The taste you left with me
It’s a real tough pill to swallow
So hard to believe that it’s just 
Sour sorrow
Sour sorrow, now it’s just
Sour sorrow
When will this feeling leave?

I used to think I was oh so strong
I was never wrong
Never let a man get me down
Salty memories make my skin burn
When will I learn to forget you now?
I’m so ashamed that I can’t be happy for you
If there was something I could do, I could do, I would do, I would do it

Parting is such sour sorrow
The taste you left with me
It’s a real tough pill to swallow
So hard to believe that it’s just 
Sour sorrow
Sour sorrow, now it’s just
Sour sorrow
When will this feeling leave?

I told myself so long ago
Not to count on another soul
You tore my lungs out and let them go cold
There’s no use in saying it now

‘Cause parting is such sour sorrow
You meant the world to me
When we used to put on our show
Part of me believed 
Now it’s just sour sorrow
The taste you left with me
It’s a real tough pill to swallow
So hard to believe that it’s just
Sour sorrow
Sour sorrow
Now I’m just sour sorrow
Yeah will this feeling ever leave?

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