A substantial portion of my musical education occurred in my early 20’s. Luckily for me, the early 2000’s was a heady and electric time for all manner of underground rock music. While radio rock was still controlled by a very odd blend of nu metal growling and post-grunge groaning, I fell in love with every possible stripe of emo and punk. Sure, the music was still powered by plenty of guitars, but I really connected with the emotional energy more than anything else.

    MANIAC - Dead Dance Club

    So, when Dead Dance Club by MANIAC hit my ears, I was instantly transported back to the front seat of my 1997 Toyota Corolla.

    As I drove all over the greater Houston area listening to acts like Fifteen, MxPx, The Hives, The Strokes, and The Vines. Released in June 2018 on Dirt Cult / Hovercraft Records, this delectable record combined the buzzy sheen of ‘00s revivalist garage rock with the glammy goodness of ‘80s goth-pop. It veritably burst with the swagger second-wave punk rock, and to its credit, it never tried to be anything more than that.

    Over the 28 minutes, the band delivered 12 songs that bristled with punchy hooks, straightforward arrangements, and no-frills guitar rock. I was also impressed with the quartet’s crisp musicianship, in that for all the punk energy on display, you can tell that these gentlemen were locked in tight when laying the tunes to tape in the studio.

    I’m all for bands having fun during the recording process in hopes of capturing the passion of a live show, but I also appreciate that MANIAC opted to be professionals so that people like me could truly appreciate the stellar background harmony vocals, subtle lead lines, and superb drum fills.

    A strong middle third does the heavy lifting for the entire project. “Calamine,” “Modern Love,” “Children of the Dirt,” and “Living in Stereo” showcase the hard work these four guys put into creating guitar-bass-and-drums rock music that struck me as familiar in the best possible way.

    By aiming for classic instead of revivalist, MANIAC swerved wide of sounding reductive or retread.

    MANIAC Band

    Photo by Zach McCaffrey.

    So, yeah, I’ve heard the sounds presented on Dead Dance Club many times before, and I’ll return to them many times in the future. But what matters is that I will always vouch for a band that intentionally crafts a worthwhile update on a nostalgic sound without attempting to be sonic revolutionaries. Sometimes, you just want to listen to the comfortable sounds of good rock music without being pandered to or feeling forced to fend off soppy sentimentality. And MANIAC has delivered exactly that – and I couldn’t be happier.

    Adam P. Newton

    Despite all of the cliches you might have heard about the place, Adam P. Newton actually enjoys living in Texas – most of the time. He currently creates and curates content for a marketing agency, and in his limited free time, he writes a memoir about his journey through music called “Explaining Grownup Music to Kids.”

  • Move Over, Big Star—Here’s Zuider Zee

    Light in the Attic’s Collection of Unreleased Tracks Gives the Memphis Band Its Due

    There are plenty of good reasons why the Memphis-based rock band Zuider Zee never hit it big. Take their name, for example, which came from a Dutch bay that was dammed and turned into dry land, as mentioned in the children’s book Hans Brinker. (Not that the group’s earlier monikers—Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band; Black Brown Orange and Gray; Fair Murphy Wormwood—were any better.)

    There’s also the affinity that Zuider Zee’s singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter Richard Orange had for the British music of his era. Orange was enamored by Beatles-style songcraft as well as the sultry-sweet androgynous sounds of T. Rex and other glam rock bands burning up the English charts in the early ’70s. This put Zuider Zee distinctly out of step with their peers, the blues-rock and boogie bands that were gigging around the American South at the time.

    Perhaps most significantly, the band simply suffered from poor timing. After years of paying their dues—constantly playing live and sneaking into studios during off-hours—Zuider Zee were finally signed to Columbia Records at the exact moment drummer Gary Simon Bertrand quit the band. One self-titled album, ornamented with busy production, came out in 1975 and disappeared without a trace. (Its power-pop ingenuity did earn a fervent fan in Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.)


    But no one can say that Zuider Zee didn’t break through because their songs weren’t good enough. Zeenith, a new collection of unreleased recordings the group made from 1972 to 1974, has just been released by Seattle label Light in the Attic, and it reveals Zuider Zee to be the equals of the similarly overlooked Memphis band Big Star. These are glorious, chewy, tingling bits of power-pop—superior to the recordings the band officially released on Columbia, and some of the best American pop-rock craftsmanship of the era. While the group ostensibly recorded these songs as demos with no express purpose of releasing them, they’re fully fleshed-out, ingenious bits of record making, with inventive arrangements and the terrific, full-bodied studio sound of recordings made in Memphis and Nashville in the early ’70s.

    Part of Zuider Zee’s allure is Orange’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Paul McCartney. If you throw on Zeenith without telling your friends what’s playing, one of ’em’s bound to comment, “Wait, which Wings album is this?” And it’s no Red Rose Speedway or Speed of Sound, either—Zeenith is more like Band on the Run, with mini-epics like the gloriously riffy “Haunter of the Darkness” and the lovely, acoustic-based “Ackbar Didedar.”

    Offsetting the sweeter edges of Orange’s songwriting is an appealing nastiness, too—the feral quality of a young rock ’n’ roll band paying its dues comes through on the heavier tracks, reminding you this was a band that shared a single crummy house and skipped meals in favor of guitar strings. Fortune was never on Zuider Zee’s side, but hearing an amazing track like “After the Shine’s Gone” 45 years after it was put to tape suggests that maybe some is on ours.



    1984 has already been quite a year. The Donald, now a father for the third time, has finally seen Trump Tower up, running and open for business, and he’s in the middle of rebuilding the skating rink in Central Park. The Soviet army is on alert after President Reagan joked that we’re gonna begin bombing them in five minutes. 46-year-old Jack Nicholson won his second Oscar, for Terms Of Endearment. Apple dramatically introduced the Macintosh computer to the world with an Orwellian commercial directed by Ridley Scott, hot off his success with Blade Runner. And British new-wave outfit A Flock Of Seagulls released The Story Of A Young Heart, which—following 22-year-old guitarist Paul Reynolds leaving the group after it hit record stores—has turned out to be the last LP by the band’s original lineup.

    That is, until now. (OK, we’re back in 2018, McFly.)

    With Ascension (out June 29), Reynolds, Score brothers Mike (vocals, keyboards) and Ali (drums) and bassist Frank Maudsley have gotten the original band back together—with a little help from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The 12-track LP features A Flock Of Seagulls symphonically redoing all the hits—”I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You),” “Telecommunication,” “Nightmares,” “Transfer Affection”—plus other fan faves, primarily from 1982’s self-titled debut and the following year’s Listen.

    Given that A Flock Of Seagulls had two members who were hairdressers with a taste for the theatrical (and, kids, this is the early ’80s we’re talking about), videos played a big part of the band’s success in the U.S. thanks to frequent airplay on MTV. So it’s not surprising that the quartet already has a new clip from the new album, for the new “Space Age Love Song,” a 1982 top-30 smash in the U.S. that’s still essential ear candy from the greed-is-good decade. And if you don’t believe us, just ask Mike Score: “I knew when I wrote ‘Space Age Love Song,’ it was perfect,” he says. “And it was far beyond what any other new-wave band could do.”

    Unlike during the new-wave era, however, these days band members don’t have to all be in the same studio to make a record. Or, even, the same country. So shooting the video for “Space Age Love Song” also marked the true reunion for the foursome. “We made the record in separate studios around the world,” says Score. “So when we made the video, it was actually the first time we had been all together since 2004. It was a good feeling. That Seagull magic is still there.”

    What isn’t still there, though, is that patented A Flock Of Seagulls hair—hair so groundbreaking and unforgettable that it’s been referenced by name in films like Pulp Fiction and The Wedding Singer. These days, instead of that physics-defying waterfall that resided on top of Score’s head, he’s now rockin’ the cue-ball look. But like they say: Hair today, gone tomorrow.

    We’re proud to premiere the video for “Space Age Love Song” on magnetmagazine.com. Although it took a while, it will make you smile.


  • This Heat archival series continues with three EVEN HOTTER new releases coming this summer on Light in the Attic

    This Heat archival series continues with three EVEN HOTTER new releases coming this summer on Light in the Attic

    If you’re truly cool, you already know that, basically four decades ago, Brixton avant-post-punk trio This Heat put out three massively influential records records (1979’s This Heat, 1980’s Health and Efficiency, and 1981’s Deceit) that fused boring ol’ “punk rock” with everything from krautrock to dub to musique concrète and noise to industrial to Scottish bagpipe music (okay, good catch, that last one was a lie; just testing to make sure you’re truly cool).

    Since you’re truly cool, you ALSO know that the Light in the Attic label, with the “full co-operation” of surviving members Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward, began a comprehensive reissue campaign a few years ago with the intent of bringing This Heat’s seminal sounds back to the the steaming hot turntables of truly cool motherfuckers everywhere. 

    And now, that campaign continues with the announcement of three of the band’s even rarer, even OBSCURE-EREVEN FURTHER OUT OF PRINT releases, all of which are probably being cast in delicious wax even as we speak: Made Available (a compilation of super-early John Peel sessions from 1977), Repeat / Metal (a sort of unofficial “posthumous album” recorded in 1979-80 buy not released until 1993), and Live 80 - 81 (a compilation of “rough cassette tape recordings of European gigs in Tilburg, Nijmegen, Ärhus, Apeldoorn, Vienna and Rheims between April 1980 and June 1981”).

    But…just how RARE are these three albums, you ask? Well, Mr./Mrs. SNOOTY: The Made Avilable LP hasn’t been “available” on vinyl for 20 years, and the other two have NEVER been issued on vinyl before. All three of these badboys are currently being readied for your rapacious consumption on August 3 in a plethora of delectable format options (pre-order each of them from Light in the Attic herehere, and here, respectively). 

    And, needless to say, ALL THREE are somehow SIMULTANEOUSLY the most important record ever. Don’t even ask how that’s possible. (Besides, if you don’t already just intrinsically know, then you might not be truly cool.)

    Made Available tracklisting: 

    01. Horizontal Hold
    02. Not Waving
    03. The Fall Of Saigon
    04. Basement Boy
    05. Rimp Romp Ramp
    06. Sitting
    07. Makeshift Swahili
    08. Slither

    Repeat / Metal tracklisting: 

    01. Repeat
    02. Metal 

    Live 80 - 81 tracklisting: 

    01. Horizontal Hold
    02. Paper Hats
    03. S.P.Q.R.
    04. Triumph
    05. Aerial Photography
    06. The Rough With The Smooth
    07. Makeshift Swahili
    08. Music Like Escaping Gas
    09. A New Kind Of Water
    10. Twilight Furniture
    11. Health And Efficiency


  • At the Drive In, Nirvana, Melvins Members Feature on New Album

    Anywhere II also includes contributions from Minutemen’s Mike Watt, “America’s Next Top Model” winner Naima Mora, others

    • ROCK

    Anywhere is “an experimental music collective” founded by Christian Eric Beaulieu and Cedric Bixler Zavala (of At the Drive In and the Mars Volta). In 2012, they released their self-titled debut, which featured contributions from Mike Watt (of Minutemen and fIREHOSE). Anywhere have now released their second album as a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl, as Consequence of Soundnotes.

    The sequel, appropriately titled Anywhere II, features Mike Watt, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic (on accordion), Melvins’ Dale Crover, “America’s Next Top Model” winner Naima Mora, and others. Anywhere II gets a wider release on May 4 via ORG Music. Check out the full credits.


  • Digable Planets, “Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space)” [reissue]

    Digable Planets
    Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space) [reissue]

    There are certain albums that are intimidating to critique. Digable Planets’ Reachin’ is one of them, such was the poetry and grace of the concise body of work put together by Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mary-Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving in 1993.

    Lots has already been written about the album; for example, Reachin as a product of the group’s formation, or the deluge of jazz samples (most taken from Ishmael’s father’s jazz collection) that made the album sound mystical. But even today, commentary on the album often overlooks just how straight-up good it is. Reachin’ is intellectual, poignant, and meaningful, but it also swings with a relatively sparse (even minimal, if compared to current production values) soundboard underpinning it. 

    So what’s the secret? Well, actually, it’s the lyrics. No, it’s more than that—it’s the words themselves. Not just the couplets, but the way individual words are bolted together. As the menacing space oscillations of opener “It’s Good to Be Here” break into the cheery rap of “The ticky ticky buzz, the sun wakes the sky,” expectations are twisted and the album seamlessly moves between youthful vigour and beyond-years wisdom.

    With twenty-five years of hindsight, part of the ongoing appeal is how Reachin’ manages to feel increasingly optimistic, perhaps an unintended consequence of darkening times. This isn’t to say the album lacks vulnerability or uncertainty—far from it—and maybe the dignified intellectualism keeps it seeming bright; however, tragedies ebb throughout. The menace in the slowed-down Hamilton Bohannon sample on “Pacifics” adds to the chaotic mindset of city life, and the humbling treatment of abortion in “La Femme Fétal” is a perfect expression of tenderness, with its beatnik feminism and smoky noir organ chords.   

    Whatever the tone, Reachin’ forces a smile on the listener, and the New-York–via-Mars depicted is a palette of pastel greys and huge bleached-blue skies. “Where I’m From”is mellow poetry, proudly regaling the listener with staccato, bookish rhythms: “We be reading Marx where I’m from / The kids be rocking Clarks where I’m from / You turn around your cap, you talk over a beat / And dig some sounds, booming out a Jeep.”

    But there’s also a playfulness peppered across Reachin’. “Jimmi Diggin Cats” set-dresses the ’90s with the ’60s; it presents an alternate universe in which Hendrix digs the trio, the Black Panthers have a cartoon, and MC Hammer’s a pimp. It’s the kind of conversation you’d hear on a California campus, laid over rhythms that snap and fizzle effortlessly.

    Reachin’ is a marvel—an exercise in free-flow music with songs that roll out the speakers and will not be denied. If there’s a weakness, it’s in the eye of the beholder. There’s a complete absence of meanness and in its stead a joyful endorsement of thinking and self-empowerment—so if you crave aggression or bombast, this won’t work for you. But if you’ve an appetite for music as art, this album remains essential.


  • Mattiel's 'Just A Name' To Get UK Release

    Plus, European shows have been confirmed...


    Garage-soul talent Mattiel is set to give her 'Just A Name' album a full release through Heavenly Recordings.

    The label stumbled across the record following a recommendation, and it helped soundtrack their slow descent into winter.

    Taut soul grooves matched to lo-fi garage sounds, 'Just A Name' was spearheaded by Mattiel alongside Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley.

    Sitting somewhere between The Gories and The Staple Singers, The Sonics and Martha Reeves, 'Just A Name' will gain a UK release this summer.

    Check out a teaser below.

    Catch Mattiel at the following shows:

    27 London All Points East
    29 London The Lexington

    Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

    Buy Clash Magazine


  • BANDCAMP : Album of the Day: Hex, “The Hill Temple”

    The Hill Temple, the first album from New Zealand-based Hex, is named for a churchdevoted to the study and teaching of the tarot near Wellington, and is dedicated to the notion of empowering witches. The group—made up of Kiki and GG Van Newtown, who are married, and drummer Jason Erskine—blend punk, folk, rock, and classical music to create something powerful and enchanting. It’s also an album of extremes: The anthemic vocals in “Gardener’s Prayer” call to mind Black Sabbath, while “Sight Beyond The Line” has the melodic brightness of The Cranberries, and “Billboard”’s slowly-circling vocals and taut nets of guitar could have been plucked from an early Lush album. But while The Hill Temple is sometimes foreboding and other times energetic, it is consistently mystical.

    On “It Begins With A Man,” feminist anger is delivered via ghostly, strikingly soft vocals. Supported by a simple but unyielding bassline, its chorus speaks of a change led by sacred feminine knowledge and sisterly bonds: “He doesn’t know about our plan / A thread connecting us through time / Handed down from sisters past.” It’s hypnotic and entrancing. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, Kiki’s vocals swing from celestial to defiant, winding ominous melodies over heavy riffs. Lyrically, Hex encourage engagement with the spiritual, channeling it to create a force for good. On “The Moon,” the Van Newtowns chant: “I see you / I see the moon / Both reflectors of energy / But we’re in an original position / We are a battery of complex construction.”

    The title track brings the album to a solemn close. The final lyrics present a promising, united future—a continuation of the ideas offered throughout the album: “Around the central golden door / We rise together like a tower / Where we unfold like a flower / She takes your hand and I take yours.” With The Hill Temple, Hex step out of the shadows, and suggest that the mystical world still has an important role in navigating life, love, and conflict.

    -Isabelle Tolhurst


  • Video premiere: Logan Lynn, ‘My Movie Star’

    Logan Lynn
    Logan Lynn

    Score one for the piano man.

    The latest work from prolific and mercurial singer-songwriter Logan Lynn — the Portland-based writer, media personality and activist — comes in the way of “My Movie Star,” a 12 1/2-minute featurette soundtracked by three songs from Lynn’s forthcoming album. Co-produced by the songwriter’s champion, actor/comedian/radio host Jay Mohr, it tells the sweet story of an underdog lounge performer who might finally get his due.

    There’s good reason that Mohr, in talking about the 2016 album “Adieu,” called Lynn’s music “a victory for the broken bones and bruised hearts that support our heavy souls. For anyone that has ever felt disconnected, unheard, under-appreciated or unrequited …” Lynn’s open-hearted narratives have enjoyed wide embrace, especially in the Portland community (the Dandy Warhols have been a early booster, the Thermals’ Hutch Harris profiled him for the city’s alt-weekly) where the 38-year-old has become a mental health advocate and LGBTQ activist.

    Lynn’s full-length “My Movie Star,” out later this year, will actually be a multi-media double album, with remixes and covers — and it will feature collaborations with ’80s pop singer Tiffany, the Dandy Warhols, Jarryd James and Rian Lewis, among others. The 10-song collection was culled from Lynn’s “Steinway sessions” — writing sessions he streamed online for his fans. In recording them, GLASYS, the keyboard wiz who works with T-Pain, became a major player, and Mohr (“Saturday Night Live, “Jerry Maguire” and many others) not only co-produces but is co-writer on a couple of songs.

    “Back when my last record was about to come out, I did Jay’s podcast and the interview went super deep,” Lynn says. “From there, he was one of the first to review that album and we’ve been pretty inseparable ever since. When I started writing all of these new songs I was sending them to him because we were hanging out and he really organically started giving me feedback. That led to officially co-producing and, in some cases, co-writing the album with me. Jay completely inspired the process and pushed me into this exposed, really quiet place over the course of the next year.

    “At the end of the day, the songs ended up being all kinds of magic. The entire ‘My Movie Star’ project would not have happened without Jay’s belief in me and this unwavering vision he had of where my music was supposed to go next. He was right.”

    Speaking of going places, William Adkins stars as the actor in the video triptych, which follows Lynn from a lounge, to the city sidewalks to a freeway underpass. It’s tonic for anybody dreaming of finding their movie star, metaphorical or real, and for those who think movies should have a happy ending.

    ||| Watch: “My Movie Star”


  • KEXP: Read an Excerpt from Larry Mizell, Jr.'s Liner Notes for Digable Planets' Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)


    Twenty-five years ago this month, hip-hop group Digable Planets released their debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space). The landmark album, fueled by their hit "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," broke through the the Billboard charts and earned the trio one of the very first Grammys for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group. It cemented rappers Ishamel "Butterfly" Butler (who went on to form Seattle's Shabazz Palaces), Craig "Doodlebug" Irving, and Mary Ann "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira in rap history. This Friday, Feb. 23, Light In The Attic Records will reissue the record for its 25th anniversary. Included in the packaging is in-depth liner notes from writer and former KEXP Street Sounds DJ Larry Mizell, Jr. Ahead of the release, KEXP is sharing an excerpt of Mizell's piece, which includes a new interview with Butler reflecting on the record. Read it below.


    “My father taught me jazz, all the peoples and the anthems/ Ate peanuts with the Dizz and vibed with Lionel Hampton…”

    “That was all my pop,” Ish says. “That's all Big Reg. He was a saxophone dude—he didn't play, but he knew every saxophone player. It was just jazz around the house. He never really hated on hip-hop, but he was always like, ‘Man, please.’ When I was about ten, he was like, ‘C'mon, I'm taking you somewhere.’ We go see this cat in this little building, he comes out with a box—it's an alto sax. I'll never forget him putting it together. I'm blowing the shit in the car. I played alto sax all through middle school and early high school.”

    After his parents’ split, Ish’s life was divided between Seattle and the East Coast. He attended middle school in Baltimore, Virginia, Philly, and New York—“raised under the dim streetlights of four cities,” as he'd later relate. He came back home to Seattle’s Central District, where he attended Garfield High School—home of the Bulldogs, illustrious alma mater of Quincy, Jimi, and Bruce. (The “Dog House” is also world-famous for its jazz program.) Young Ish was already standing out. “When I first got to Garfield as a freshman, niggas was like, ‘Who is this cat?’” “Shit,” he laughs. “Comin’ home with some suede Pumas and Lee jeans and a Starter? What! Cats was rocking curls and shit, I had the short haircut with the parts. B-boy to the bone. Lee flavors with the Pumas, the Triple Fat Goose with the fur. I didn't really fit in—it was a rough couple of months at first! But then when hoop season started, cats was like, ‘OK, he's a regular guy.’”

    “Stirrin' up the ground with the sound of Doug E. Fresh/ and the hard rockin' kids that did it for the black/ with the Pumas on their feet and the bombers on their back...”

    In high school, Ish started rapping—he had a crew, making demos and rocking Garfield talent shows. “It was just, like, hallway superstardom! Cuz back then, making it in rap? That was like saying you were ’bout to go to the NBA, and you seven.” But hoops is exactly what took him back East, with a basketball scholarship to UMass—but his heart was still in his art. “My man George lived in my dorm and had a lil keyboard-slash-studio in his crib—I hammered out a few early Digable things in there. So I guess about ’88 or ’89 is when I started making some of what turned into Reachin’.” 

    Ish eventually left school and split back to Philly. “I was living in Wynnefield in this little apartment under my aunty’s house. I used to see this dude around Philly, he was just a weird lookin’ nigga with the orange dreads. He looked like an English dude or something!” That dude would be one of the city’s favorite DJs, King Britt—real name, no gimmicks—whose beloved weekly Silk City was a local hotspot. His inclusion in the crew (as their DJ) is usually treated as a footnote—but truth is, before the album’s recording, he played a crucial and practical role in the group’s development.

    “I needed to make duplicates of the demo,” Ish says, “and just, I knew this nigga gotta have a tape-to-tape, a dual cassette deck. I ain’t know him. I cold hit him up—he was working at Tower as the Dance buyer. Like, ‘Yo bro, you got a tape-to-tape? I’m trying to make copies of my demo.’ He said, ‘Yeah’; I go to his crib, and this mufucka’s living with a bunch of other DJs in this big-ass row house. He was already bossing up in the DJ scene in Philly. I’m like, ‘Who the fuck is this dude?’ 

    King recalls, “We talked a bit, and it was like we were cool for years. Ish had the demo tape of the album and brought it to the crib. It blew me away. It sounded more like how [Ishmael’s current project] Shabazz Palaces sounds now. It didn't sound anything like how Reachin’ came out. It was dirtier and more esoteric.” 

    If you wish you could hear this demo, know that you’re not alone. “Oh, if I could hear that once again in my life, man,” moans Ish. “King said he got one somewhere but don’t know where. I did like a box of 50 of them, and they were in these cases—I had pictures on the front, you open it up, and the left side was a slot for a video, on the right was a slot for a cassette. I had actually shot a video. It was just me doing shit, walking downtown, with me talking over the shit. The other side was the demo tape. I did the artwork for it, the crazy font—I was on it like that.”

    Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) - 25th Anniversary Edition is available for pre-ordernow.




    On its recent self-titled lp, Tucson-based psychedelic collective Trees Speak terraform long stretches of the 1-10 that carves through the Sonoran Desert into a cosmic autobahn. Led by visual artist Daniel Martin Diaz — whose work has been featured in Low Rider Magazine and Juxtapoz and comprises a large-scale installation at Sky Harbor Airport — Trees Speak incorporates work from players known for their work in groups like Giant SandCalexico, Black Sun Ensemble, and the Myrrors. Together, they build unfolding sound collage sagas that drift between foreboding electronic grinders, dreamy soundscapes, and pulsing, Berlin School electronics. Recorded live at Sacred Machine and Dust & Stone studios over a five-day stretch, the recordings capture players in the moment, their interplay untouched by overdubs or correction, but are manipulated, cut and paste-style, by Diaz after the fact. The results conjure up familiar touchstones like Cluster and Can, but take on their own unique, desert-inflected quality the spaghetti western “Ghost We Know” and shimmering compositions like “Everlasting” and “Reflections.” Even better is the searching, multi-part epic “Shadow Circuit.” It’s two parts stretch over entire sides of the double-lp, evoking prime Popol Vuh-style mysticism and sandy dread in alternating swaths. “If you pay close enough attention, the architecture of the natural elements is a sentient ecology of the cosmos,” Diaz writes on the band’s Facebook page. “And if you listen close enough, the inanimate structures of cellular life and cellular transmissions will speak clearly. Solar winds speak. Oceans speak. Computer servers speak. And Trees Speak.” Their dialog, as interpreted by Diaz and company is worth the listen. words/j woodbury 

    Trees Speak :: Shadow Circuit (AD edit)





    The Coathangers, Death Valley Girls, The Flytraps, Feels
    Visual projections & environs provided at every stop by Mad Alchemy Light Show & Burger! 

    2.19.18 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent

    2.21.18 - Eugene, OR - HiFi Music Hall

    2.22.18 - Vancouver, BC - The Rickshaw Theatre

    2.23.18 - Portland, OR - Dante's

    2.24.18 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile

    2.26.18 - Santa Cruz, CA - The Catalyst Atrium

    2.27.18 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up

    3.1.18 - Las Vegas, NV - Beauty Bar

    3.2.18 - Los Angeles, CA - 1720

    3.3.18 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar

    Dengue Fever, Winter, Summer Twins, Patsy's Rats
    Visual projections & environs provided at every stop by Mad Alchemy Light Show & Burger! 

    2.20.18 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent

    2.22.18 - Eugene, OR - HiFi Music Hall

    2.23.18 - Vancouver, BC - The Rickshaw Theatre 

    2.24.18 - Portland, OR - Dante's

    2.25.18 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile

    2.27.18 - Santa Cruz, CA - The Catalyst Atrium

    2.28.18 - San Diego, CA - Music Box

    3.2.18 - Las Vegas, NV - Beauty Bar

    3.3.18 - Los Angeles, CA - 1720

    3.4.18 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar
  • Television guitarist Richard Lloyd talks his new rock & roll memoir

    Punk-rock god and Television founding band-member Richard Lloyd discusses his new memoir Everything is Combustible

    Photograph: Courtesy GODLIS

    In the NYC music history books, Richard Lloyd is punk rock royalty. In 1973, Lloyd joined forces with Tom Verlaine to form the band Television—a guitar godhead tandem that put CBGB’s on the map with the release of 1977’s Marquee Moon, a classic art-punk shredder whose influence is stuff of legend, and a great source of classic NYC songs. Since departing from the band, Lloyd’s has proven to be master storyteller in many mediums. One of last year’s best music memoirs, Lloyd’s Everything is Combustibleis a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll-fueled romp, chock full of wildly entertaining vignettes culled from his five decade-long career. We spoke to the indie-rock legend about looking back and leaving NYC. 

    When did the idea manifest to write Everything Is Combustible? Why was now a good time to document your incredible journey?
    A long time ago, actually. But I had to wait until I left Television. I couldn’t be honest while I was in the band about certain aspects of it. 

    In your book, you rattle off one amazing story after another. How did you manage to have such attention to detail after years of substance and alcohol abuse?

    I got this voice recognition software that allowed me to tell my stories and then save ’em on the computer. The book was written without any typing. It was all written as oral stories. Whatever little stories I could remember, I put together. It was going to be like a little series of vignettes. I’ve told some of these stories pretty much all my life. I can’t help but tell stories. It’s my nature. I had a lot of fun in life. And I’m still having fun.

    In Everything Is Combustible, you recount a rather sordid tale about ménage à troisthat you claim [Television bandmate] Richard Hell got wrong in his memoir, I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp. 
    I think Richard couldn’t stand the truth, because I remember him fleeing from that event. The story afterwards was that she [our partner] had done half of Television and one couldn’t get it up and the other couldn’t get it down.

    You definitely have no qualms talking about sex in your book.
    There’s only so far you want to go before it turns into soft porn. But those are real experiences, so they deserve to be in there. It’s part of my life, and, if anything, I’m guilty of being honest. Sex is like a drug. It’s an athletic activity (laughing). It doesn’t necessarily have to have love attached to it; if it does, though, that’s wonderful, too.

    Considering your seemingly superhuman memory, were there any challenges you faced in writing the book?
    I like to say: You don’t have to have a good memory if you always tell the truth, because there’s only one storyline. If you start lying then you gotta keep the lie supported by other baloney, and your memory ends up gettin’ shot because your imagination starts to interfere with your actual memory. I never wanted that to happen, so I kept it pretty straight.

    Television, Patti Smith, the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads essentially built the stage at CBGB’s, putting punk rock on the map. Did you ever think of yourself as “punk,” or identify with the punk scene?
    We had already been playing CBGB’s for two-and-a-half years when Punk magazine showed up. That gave the journalists a handle because there were a couple of bands that bought into the punk thing—Ramones and Dead Boys, principally. So they lumped everybody into the handle of punk music. But eventually that dilutes itself and the music defines the word, rather than the word defines the music.

    In 2015, you moved from New York City to Tennessee after living here for decades. Why did you move?
    Our landlord bought us out of our apartment, and to get a reasonable space would have been insane. The Music Building guy bought me out of the studio I had. It was that or have my rent doubled, so I lost my studio and I lost the apartment. It didn’t make any sense to stay in New York for no reason other than to struggle. I’m not a wealthy man by any means.

    What do you miss about New York?
    I miss the pace. But it’s too crowded, and you leave your house and you get knocked down by tourists. You know what I really miss? Walking. In New York, I walked everywhere. 

    Back in the early days, you made ends meet as a sex worker on 53rd St and Third Ave, like Dee Dee Ramone allegedly used to. 
    [Laughs] When I was starving, it turned out to be a last resort and, I mean, what the hell. It’s like: What are you afraid of? Go do it. If you’re walking around with a fear of something, that fear is gonna penetrate everywhere. I don’t really have much fear. You gotta do what you gotta do and I’m not embarrassed by it. I don’t think Dee Dee was either.

    You’ve skirted and flirted with death so many times, as you tell in your book. 
    I’m like a gymnast in the circus! I think I’ve gotten more than nine (lives) already used up. I lived enough for ten people. It’s not over at all. I don’t believe in luck, so I believe that somewhere there’s some force that keeps me here, the life force that travels through me has more experience to undergo. Everybody suffers, so why not suffer to the utmost? You might get something good out of it.


  • HuffPost: Seattle’s A View of Earth from the Moon premieres new video for ‘Distance Runner’

    Seattle singer/songwriter Jonathan Fickes is behind A View of Earth from the Moon and its invigorating, classically Big Beat-kissed debut feels like a stunning emotional discovery; almost like seeing your existence for the first time from space. As he sings in the epic cloud-sweep of the single “Distance Runner,” ‘are you running away, or are you chasing something?’

    Fickes grew up in farmland Eastern Washington where he couldn’t suffer the region’s distinct lack of a music scene or any real culture at all, so he got a degree in music and moved to New York City for a couple years, playing folk music in Williamsburg — “chasing the ghost of Bob Dylan around Greenwich Village,” he says. “I came back to Seattle to join a band. That band broke up, then a couple more bands came and went, now here I am. Plus all my family lives here.” 

    Evoking his adoration of ambitious bands like Oasis, Tom Petty, Beck, Tame Impala, The Beatles, The Flaming Lips and others, and revealing years spent in the Seattle indie rock scene with To the Sea and The Fraidies, Closer to A Ghost is A View of Earth from the Moon’s bracing debut. It is full of rafters-rattling maximum power pop and lush, fully flowing romantic threnodies for people who have been aching for a big-sounding brokenhearted new masterpiece for a while. All eras of widescreen jangle are tapped; all flavors of vibrant power pop are robustly present. 

    “Distance Runner” is the third track on the album but the first choice for promotion. Fickes explains, “It’s a simple, driving, guitar heavy song with a great melody and a killer drum sound.” It also has many of the album’s big themes layered in imagery about seeing your own thoughts and beliefs from very far away.


    I’m a painfully nostalgic person. I spend way too much of my time thinking about my youth and remembering the perfect days of my childhood. This video is an unbridled manifestation of that illness, haha. I’m essentially running back in time to the town I grew up in and the friends that I made when I was a kid. We shot the entire video in one day. I had each location mapped out with the timing of each shot down to the minute. We had to make it from Seattle to my hometown of Moses Lake and arrive at my house exactly as the sun was going down and I can’t believe we pulled it off. It was actually a really moving experience for me. I love every person in the video and running from Seattle, through so many of the places that have been significant throughout my life, and into the arms of my best friends was horribly selfish but joyously heartwarming. And I can watch the video and relive it over and over again as often as I want. Oh, and I guess I hope it’s interesting for other people to watch too...
  • Talking Drummers: Patty Schemel & Barrett Martin Books Reviewed - Ned Raggett

    Ned Raggett reads and compares the autobiographies of two grunge era drummers from the bands Hole and Screaming Trees

    The truism is just that - time and perspective change things. It's incredibly easy for me to look back 25 years to 1992 and think about the 'Seattle bands' whether by recorded music or through the media or the live shows I caught. I did see Hole, but only a couple of times before Patty Schemel joined the band on drums. Never did see Screaming Trees, so I wouldn't've seen Barrett Martin drumming for them either. But it's a mere nothing to call songs like 'Nearly Lost You' or 'Violet' to mind, their respective performances on their chosen instruments as much a key part of the songs as Mark Lanegan's dark croon or Courtney Love's explosive snarl. 

    It was weird realizing this connection when I ended up with copies of Martin's and Schemel's autobiographies - two performers who were there, part of the 'scene', though a scene which was already diffuse enough in corners. I don't get a sense they ever crossed paths - Schemel mentions meeting a much earlier Screaming Trees early on in her story, if Martin mentions Hole it escaped me. But both were Washington state born and raised, born quite literally ten days apart from each other, raised on 70s rock & roll and beyond, both gravitating towards their chosen instruments when very young. Both tell stories of their youth, education, touring adventures and more besides in the course of their autobiographies - standard enough, you might think, but when you remember the stereotype that drummers are the 'slow' ones, it's more than helpful to get examples of two quite intelligent and thoughtful performers who, throughout, take their musical paths very seriously. Both teach now as well, Martin as a professor of music in Seattle, Schemel via tutoring and classes in Los Angeles, and both have partners in life they value heavily. You get a clear sense from the end of their books that they are happy to be on the particular paths and life courses they are now in.

    But otherwise, Martin's The Singing Earth and Schemel's Hit So Hard are two very different stories of two very different people. They're among the most intriguing books I read in 2017, without question, but I would say that Martin informs while Schemel moves. That's a reduction, certainly - Martin is as capable of showcasing deep emotion in his recounting as much as Schemel demonstrates her sharp awareness and perception. But they serve different purposes and showcase very different voices, and if anything, serve as clear reminders that, indeed, being locked in the past and one's own memories of a time does nothing but lock everything in amber. Martin and Schemel both, clearly, don't simply want to be there in those pasts either.

    In Martin's case, his book is the story of a continuing journey. He's very upfront about it, but it has to be said that it is good that he takes a chronological route, simply because The Singing Earthaspires to be many books at once. It is a personal memoir above all else, certainly, and it begins in easy fashion talking about his comfortable upbringing and musical encouragement, the story of a kid in a middle-class family doing well and finding a way to start pursuing his dream as he goes. There's a sense of cool but not cold confidence at work - and not a calculating one either. Rather, Martin gives a sense of being open to experience, and eager to consider and attempt new opportunities with his music as well as on the philosophical sphere as he goes.

    So his 'grunge' years, however defined, turn out to be a very small element of the whole - he dedicates himself to knowledge and learning about percussive instruments around the world, their significance on a cultural and, often, a spiritual level, as much as on a technical one. He travels widely from South America to Africa to the Middle East to Indonesia, as well as throughout America, and records and performs with musicians throughout the world. It might be glib to say he is a later generation's Mickey Hart, but there's a bit of that spirit out there, and Martin's very open about his sense of connectedness to the world, an almost primal spiritualism found via nature and the natural world, percussion as the heartbeat of the earth -- the book's title is clearly not chosen casually. Combined with the CD that comes with the book, showcasing the many bands and performers he's worked with, there's an unforced enthusiasm at play. 

    At the same time, The Singing Earth's telling how much of the story reads like so many others where a lucky enough guy from a rich country - and a white guy at that - has the means to go on these experiences and to create his own collage of them. It should be said that throughout he places an emphasis on wanting to make sure those he learns from are properly compensated, and more than once he dwells on the fact that he is only a visitor in a place that he can leave where all around him clear poverty is the norm. It's a welcome awareness that flavours the book, keeps it from being mere travelogue, geographically or spiritually. Still, whether it's an experience with ayahuasca in Peru or earnestly speaking of the history of the famed poet and sage Rumi, sometimes there's a bit of 'let me blow your mind' that crops up, often in sudden fashion. At one point, in a discussion of a venture he made to Cuba along with other musicians in the late 1990s, he spends ten pages delving into the Afro-Cuban spirits known as Orishas. It's very informative, certainly, but turns the book into an encyclopaedia chapter.

    You get the sense that this all comes from an honestly good place -- that he's not so much wanting to lecture people who would know about all this already on the obvious, but trying to convey much to those who would never think about it otherwise. Even the occasional repetition of stories or events feels conversational more than a big glitch. He wears his politics on his sleeve throughout, understandably grieved at 9/11's impact and how the Bush White House's invasion of Iraq in response just made everything worse, and finishing the book with unsettled thoughts after Trump's election and what that would mean for the world's environmental health. And ultimately, he doesn't want to seem to make his story about him - he eschews details of past romantic partnerships except in passing, quickly notes debates between him and his father on various matters, but prefers to spend more time remembering his Mad Season collaborator Layne Staley or his LA landlord - and noted percussionist himself - Milt Holland, for instance. And it's not a bad approach, but you do need to get used to his flow.

    If Martin is the earnest bro with a degree who earnestly really does want to take you on a trip, though, then Schemel is the reformed partier who will happily talk up some stories of the wild past, sure -- but will also tell stories to chill the blood along the way, not so much for entertainment as for an accounting. It is interesting to contrast Martin's blissed out vibes with his own drug experiences to Schemel's, because if drumming is one anchor of her story, addiction is the other, and it's not a pretty sight. And unlike Martin's personal-but-depersonalised approach, Schemel, with the assistance of Erin Hosier, is all about telling her own story from start to stop, a personal testament to life, joy, the absolute dregs, and survival. Hit So Hard, in sum, is simply not a book one should approach lightly or 'just' for the behind the scenes tales. If you want them, you'll certainly get them, but they're not why you should read.

    Even if Schemel's story didn't take the terrible series of turns as it did, though, it would be an engaging story in its own right. Schemel's depiction of growing up lower-middle-class in the seventies in suburban Washington, with parents who themselves were alcoholics and who would eventually divorce, as she grappled with understanding herself as a lesbian as well as first having drinks when she was still a pre-teen, has parallels among those of her generation which has underscored any number of novels, films, personal essays - a shared experience of awkwardness, struggle and self-medication shot through a seventies-into-eighties background. But Schemel's love for rock & roll and for drumming is just as powerful if not more so, another kind of fascination that gave her a further identity and sense of self. Her voice is an engaging one throughout, honest but not tendentious, often vivid in her sense of exact detail.

    Her story about how, like Martin, she found her way to Seattle and got to know many of the personalities there in the years before the big explosion is a great one. She recounts how she got to first know Kurt Cobain and then through him Courtney Love - he was the one to recommend Schemel to Love when a new drummer was needed in 1992 - and everything that resulted from that. There's any number of warm stories about Kurt, who she knew from 1986 on, and Love is clearly one of the most influential people in her life - the whole arc about how she joined the band, the crushing sorrow of Cobain's death and Hole's subsequent fame, and how she parted ways with them in a strained atmosphere (her last formal appearance was the Celebrity Skin cover, an album she in fact didn't perform on at all) makes for compelling reading, with plenty of anecdotes along the way. But beyond that, there's a real sense that, much like how Martin feels, Schemel feels a connection to drumming that is almost transcendent, a pleasure and an anchor all at once that she does not take lightly.

    But three other things take as much precedence in Hit So Hard. There's the story of her family -- her parents as she keeps in touch with them over time, most especially her father, a key voice of support and a person who can provide a bolt hole for her as needed, even as his own health begins to fail, as well as her brother, also a musician and also plagued by his own addictions. There's her romantic encounters and especially her longer-term partnerships, a careful and detailed accounting of those women who were with her in good times and bad, and more than once were catalysts for changes in either direction, sometimes both. Towering over it all, however, is her addictions: she first tried heroin in the late eighties, speaks of any number of drink and drug-fuelled stretches of her life and those of others, and at the book's blackest and bleakest, in the years after she left Hole, details a hardscrabble life on the fringes of society in Los Angeles, homeless, addicted, doing anything to get the next fix, conquering everything else she had ever loved or relied on. If this too seems a 'familiar' story now, that shouldn't mean simply dismissing Schemel's own accounting of it - it's a truly moving, cathartic account.

    That there is a happier ending is obvious enough thanks to the simple fact that this book exists, and by the end Schemel has found her way back, through her own will and through the help of others. It's glib to say it's a fairy-tale ending, but her discussion of how she met her now-wife Christina, the birth of their daughter Bea, her reflections on her parents and her mother through this lens and the fact that she and her brother continue to play together give a sense on how things can turn reasonably all right in the end if and when it all comes together. The final chapter especially gives a sense of how fragile it can still be when recounting how the terrible passing of Chris Cornell impacted her, and it underscores the sense of hard-won - and continual - work to come so far as she has. If Schemel's is the more heart-wrenching of the two books compared to Martin's, just because of the real pain she had to quite literally live through, then it's not to say that both aren't quite thoughtful reads at their best, portraits of artists as not-so-young people, and reminders to those of us who grew up 'with' them that they were always their own voices - and that those are good to hear, now, not simply then.



    Tooling through the Triple Rock jukebox with Dylan Hicks


    Dylan HicksWilson Webb

    “Constraints are important,” says Dylan Hicks, mashing down the imaginary buttons on the touchscreen of a digital jukebox at the Triple Rock Social Club.

    This late-model jukebox, unfortunately, offers a lesson in what happens when constraints are tossed out the window. The TouchTunes “interactive entertainment platform”—65,000 of which are located across the U.S.—can summon most any song you can think of. This can lead to what MBA programs call “analysis paralysis,” or at least a strong bout of self-consciousness.

    Hicks is lanky and laconic in a natty collegiate sweater, with longish salt-and-pepper hair hanging over his glasses, but this unstructured universe of infinite choices leaves him a touch flustered. “When there’s a hundred selections or so, you have something to work with. You’re asking, how do I want to present myself? You want to make the best decision...”

    “Right,” I offer. “Within a framework.”

    “Yeah,” he says. “With this, you can just play anything.”

    There’s a knack to selecting tunes on a traditional jukebox, and “A-24,” the lead single from Hicks’ new album, Ad Out, is a valentine to mastering that art. “It’s the best damn jukebox in the county,” Hicks sings in a High Plains drawl. “Got about 1,000 songs so you don’t get bored.”

    Since Hicks is not only a terrific lyricist but also a great writer about music (he was City Pages’ arts editor a little more than a decade ago), I figured it’d be fun to drag him out to a real-life jukebox and get him to punch in a few songs and talk about them.

    TRACK 1: “Clean Up Woman,” Betty Wright (2 credits)

    To narrow our choices, Hicks selects the “Queens of R&B” category, where one of his favorites, Betty Wright’s 1971 hit “Clean Up Woman,” is, through some divine algorithmic intervention, the first song listed. Hicks mashes down a PLAY button that’s as unresponsive as the keys on the crappy ATMs often found at bars, and soon Wright is warning everyone at the T-Rock about the clean-up woman who stole her man’s love.

    “I love a song with a conceit,” Hicks says. “Not every time, but if you can come up with a premise, you can try to enrich that.” And the characters on Ad Out—guys in bars, lovelorn dudes working menial jobs, boyfriends or husbands who may or may not know how good they have it—are often narrating their way through such conceits. When a sad sack charged with a moving violation testifies in court on “Asking for a Friend,” he rhymes “father’s charcoal suit” with “what the English call the boot,” in a manner that’s true to his ironic, deflated sense of his own refinement.

    “They’re beleaguered,” Hicks says of his narrators. “But not defeated.” The cover of Ad Out, appropriately, features a painting of John McEnroe, facedown in the clay at Wimbledon, toward the end of the worst day of his career.

    TRACK 2: “Cruisin’,” Smokey Robinson (2 credits)

    Hicks enters “CRUIS” into the search bar and Smokey Robinson’s 1979 hit is summoned before he can hit the “IN.” “It’s such a seductive song,” Hicks says. “It builds nicely, and it’s dramatic, but there’s no histrionics. And those high notes.” Smokey gets his face on the TouchTunes screen, but Hicks points out that Marv Taplin, the guitarist on the record, may deserve equal billing. “This is my favorite,” he says, as Taplin’s guitar glides beneath Smokey’s croon. “That guitar tone.”

    We get back to the idea of constraints. “That’s why I like rhymes,” he says. “I like the sound of them, but when you use them well, they create meaning—the rhyme scheme influences the verse. When you throw out rhymes”—here he shrugs—“you might as well be dealing with prose.”

    And Hicks knows prose. After a ’90s stint as a witty singer-songwriter, he went on a hiatus from music and embarked on a writing career, first as a critic and journalist, then as the author of two well-received novels.

    “I had a long break from performing,” he says. “But after a few years, I have a better sense for my voice. I have better pitch, and I know precisely my range. I didn’t know then, but I know now: two octaves, a modest baritone range.”

    On Ad Out, Hicks turns what he calls his “limited vocal range” into a superpower. His voice has a conversational quality that allows him to comfortably inhabit each of his characters. In the way his TouchTunes selections cut through the din of the Triple Rock, Hicks floats over Adam Levy’s ’70s R&B-flavored licks, Joe Savage’s pedal steel, Doug Little’s horn arrangements, and his own keyboard, all of which are tidied up and made AM-ready by producer John Munson.

    Hicks describes the sound as “roadhouse cabaret,” but his mix of R&B, country rock, and piano balladry would sound equally at home anywhere the sonic boundaries of the American songbook might unexpectedly bleed together: a backyard barbecue in Tin Pan Alley, or a secret honky-tonk in the basement of Radio City Music Hall.

    TRACK 3: “Slow Hand,” Conway Twitty (2 credits)

    We’ve gone as far as our three dollars will take us, and Conway Twitty’s up last. His gender-inverted 1980 cover of the Pointer Sisters song operates at the border of cosmopolitan country-pop and adult contemporary R&B.

    Hicks points to Twitty as an example of a singer whose vocal range changed over the course of his career, to positive effect. He started out as a country yelper whose voice jumped effortlessly into the higher registers, but by the time of “Slow Hand,” he’d settled into a mellifluous, vaguely seedy baritone croon that suited the spirit Nashville’s mellifluous, vaguely seedy era of sexual liberation.

    “I can’t touch these guys as singers,” he says. “But I hope the songs reflect the influence of these types of country and R&B songs in a way that seems manageable, and in a way that lets me sing like myself.” He grins a crooked grin, and clarifies: “Not loud.”

    Perhaps the most countrified song on the record (“I threw in a little Southern accent on that one”), “A-24” is assertive, but all in fun, the aural equivalent of Hicks’ full-bodied dance in Wilson Webb and Carolyn Swiszcz’s video. (Hicks bops through a cardboard wonderland in white pants and a blue T-shirt, reminding me of what Jack Handey called his “funny cowboy dance” in the “Deep Thoughts” segments on SNL.) It’s a song about stepping out into the commons and staking a claim.

    “You do all this stuff,” Hicks says, talking about performing music and also the act of publicly displaying your taste on a jukebox. “Even if you feel ashamed, there’s some vanity that wants to affirmed. It’s still kind of embarrassing.”

    Hicks continues glancing through the options. “Oh! I love this one.” He mashes down some imaginary key a few times, and the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” kicks in.

    On the right night, in the right bar, this song too could be A-24.

    Dylan Hicks & the Looming Crisis
    With: Molly Maher & Her Disbelievers
    When: 8 p.m. Fri. Oct. 27
    Where: Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge
    Tickets: $12/$15; more info here


  • '94Broncos - Black Irish Trap-a-Holics release "Come Clean"

    '94Broncos releasing new song in Celebration of O.J. getting parole

    '94 Broncos is Atlanta's asphalt-chewing tricked-out whip of dub-punk trap rock. Zack English (bass) is from Dawonsville; Jack Eggert (guitar/vocals) is from the Northside of Atlanta; and drummer David Pellum II is from Eastside (Atlanta zone's 6 to be exact).    

    Their debut Mixtape "Brazilian Stick-Up" out October 1st is four abrasive but soulful tracks from three moody dudes, cocaine infused and blissed out with a handle of Evan Williams. Jack English has been writing songs with best friend Fooshee for awhile; David was producing rap beats and never saw himself in a band.  

    "I asked a friend to come jam and he couldn't pick me up," David explains, "so Jack ended up picking me up. That was my first time meeting Jack on the way to go jam — I had just got off work and walking to the parking lot to look for a guy I never met before then I heard some guy Yell across the parking lot 'Hey are you David?'"  

    David and Jack would just jam for hours but never listened to other music together. They read Creative Loafing a lot and hit the punk scene to see what the hell was the hype about some bands. But the Atlanta punk scene turned out to be more underground than what people think. They practiced hard to be as tight as Neckbones. So when they got into it, their first show was a packed-out house of action.    

    And they promise on those manic concert thrills. They always have a rapper to try to add diversity to their shows. The mixtape opening cut "Monkey Man" also gets their show jumpin' up and down like the fans are on a trampoline. They tell the rapper "if shit fly don't stop and keep the party going." The rapper is always loved, and '94 Broncos extend the jam and make up songs on the spot, surprising everyone with their freestyling. "People can't believe it," David says. "Some guy was moshing at one our shows and nobody knew the guy but he was rolling around the ground. It reminded me of my granddad's church in Atlanta back in the day when people shouted and were 'filled with the spirit' during a service."   

    '94 Broncos is a reference to the O.J. Simpson escape vehicle that was in the infamous police chase, because while that was taking place Jack was on his way home from the hospital he was born a couple days before the chase.    

    The songs for the Mixtape were written during the making of our third release Acid Wash. All the songs had been recorded at the same time, working fast, and saving these four new ones for fresh vocals.     

    The title Brazilian Stick-Up is based on Ryan Lochte and other U.S. Olympians thrashing a gas station in Brazil and then dealing with it when that country's police showed up. "They lied and said they had been held up at gun point. Privileged Americans found themselves in something they can't get out of. The lesson here is don't lie."     

    Childish and Iggy Pop & the stooges. They all deeply dig Curtis Mayfield, 10cc, Outkast, Pastor Troy, Goodie Mob, Dj Toomp, Baby D, Lil Jon. Kilo Ali is their favorite Atlanta rapper. "We support anybody that comes from ATL. We are on the same team! Fuck that boom bam shit

    INSTAGRAM: @94broncosATL

    TWITTER: @94_broncos 

  • Three Imaginary Girls CD REVIEW: Stealing Sand by Transient Songs


    Transience. Traveling to escape customary life. Wandering. Vagabond impulses. Songs that were born and created throughout a determination to experience scenes and emotions outside of the routine experience. Sometimes, one must venture outside of familiar cities, states, countries, and climates in order to reflect upon the beauty of an otherwise uneventful daily existence. This is what comes to mind when hearing Stealing Sand, the new album by Seattle quartet, Transient Songs. That said, these kinds of things will likely grasp the listener when hearing their previous releases as well. Stealing Sand is the third full-length release from the band and it might just be their best release yet.

    Transient Songs, in this incarnation, includes Jon Frum, the principal songwriter, on vocals and guitar, Michael Shunk on guitar and keyboards, Dayna Loeffler on bass and Craig Keller on drums. This band gels and clearly has chemistry in both sound and performance. Stealing Sandencapsulates the sound of a band that sounds like they could have been recording their last album together. It is a vital statement that seems like it was hell-bent on being recorded. The songs, and especially Frum’s lyrics, seem to have been cultivated from an estranged perspective outside of himself that yet still comes passionately from within. The vantage point of the listener is thus removed and also extremely intimate. It is beautiful and painful and full of questions that cannot be answered, even after repeated listens.

    “Branches through the Trees” contains vibrato guitars and a stoned, driving melody that is almost hypnotizing, especially considering that it is only four and a half minutes long. “Lost in the Middle” is a kaleidoscopic, beautiful song that sounds like it could have been a classic album track by The Church. “Shoppin’ for Coffins” is perhaps the album’s centerpiece. It is a chilling and surreal song born out of a dream that is full of ghosts, questions, regret, and a general bewilderment of where the line between where reverie and reality intersect. Musically, it is a psychedelic, tight and succinct. “ There is too much uncertainty to fully connect the pieces. In Frum’s words, “The muse is always elusive.”

    “If the Summer Resigns” is reminiscent of Chicago’s criminally unknown melancholy pop outfit, The Chamber Strings. The title track, “Stealing Sand” recalls the breezy, melancholy sound of Transient Songs’ excellent debut, Cave Syndrome. “All Said and Done” includes some truly gorgeous cello and acoustic guitar interplay. It recalls a warm 1960’s sound of The Beatles or The Kinks. Just listen to the moving opening lines, “When it’s all said and done and you’re out of places to run/Chasing other peoples dreams away/You’re out on a limb, spinning your webs again/Did you ever think that luck has led you astray?”

    “Drug Dreams” is the biggest rock number on Stealing Sand and it fucking rocks. This is a classic garage rock song. This one comes from the day that your hangover wears off and all you want to do is start drinking again because being sober again is far more painful than the hangover is. The record closes with “Those Hidden Lakes,” which might be the best song on the album. It is a subtle and sad resignation where the mundane reflection on a day job and drab existence seems to become overwhelming. However, the song ends up being full of hope and an appreciation for all of the unsaid things that one takes for granted. It’s the perfect ending to a record that is heavily involved in a wide spectrum of complex human emotions.

    In short, Stealing Sand is a modern day classic. Transient Songs will be playing The Sunset in Ballard on the 28th of July. Mark your calendar if you want to see some inspired psychedelic rock and roll.


  • Carry Illinois' Effortless Talent Makes New Album 'Garage Sale' Endlessly Playable


    Carry Illinois' Effortless Talent Makes New Album 'Garage Sale' Endlessly Playable

    Carry Illinois - Garage Sale

    ‘Garage Sale,’ the new album from Carry Illinois, is a testament to the human experience. It’s a tour-de-force of emotion and takes you on an emotional journey with the band. For singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman, losing a bandmate last year was a paralyzing experience, but writing new music gave her hope. 

    She said, “I took some songwriting workshops about using songwriting as truth-telling” and felt a switch in herself. She said that the class made her realize the importance of writing about her genuine experiences because “that’s the stuff that people really connect to.” To draw on the tragedy the band faced, 'Garage Sale' became therapy. 

    Despite the surrounding circumstances, the album became an expression of hope. The songs life you up rather than depress and each one feels like a new experience. The album has so many different influences from vintage college-rock mettle to a little lush AOR that it’s impossible to get bored. Take "Years to Come," which plays midway through the album and catches a current of ringing new-wave guitars, marching choral drums, and Brill Building harmonies: It's a defiant gesture though relatively unadorned.

    By partnering with admired producer John Vanderslice, the band took a raw approach, focusing on emotion and instrumental nuance. Lehman described her experience saying, “I think John, immediately when he heard the music, knew making sure the vocals were right up front and the lyrics could be heard was top priority, and made me super confident recording with him.” 

    But Vanderslice defers credit entirely to the band. He said he mostly tried to stay out of the way and just capture the energy. He even went as far as to say, “The band was so good I didn't want to impose a production style.” 

    With top-tier production, raw emotion, and exciting nuanced tracks, Garage Sale is a memorable album about love and loss. It’s a ode to recovery and moving forward — a true inspirational ballad.

    Album out: May 12

    Rate: 9/10


    -- Lou Flesh

    Buy here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/siren-ep/id824269502

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