Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sleepwalk

I had to bid farewell to my car of the last 12 years this morning, my wonderful little Kia Soul.  I also had to buy a new one this morning as well, and now i'm stuck with a car note again.  Le sigh.  Anyhoo, here's some great throwback music from Chicago band Sleepwalk.  The new "Out of Focus" EP has got a little bit of grunge, a little bit of shoegaze, and some hints of emo.  Check out "Lucky to Be" below and snag the cassette here from the band.


Daily Jam - Four Hearts in a Can

Do you have that part of you that just wants to get lost? To get in your car, to go out for milk or cigarettes, and to never return? To pull off of the freeway and turn onto a lonely road that leads to…somewhere? Or nowhere. There’s this little piece of me that wants to drive into the desert, a beautiful, serene sunset to one side of me and an ominous, terrifying stormfront to the other. Nothing in front of me but road. And nothing behind me but dust and more road. I’m not running from anything, I just need some quiet. I just need to breathe. Alone in my thoughts. Alone in my head. Alone in my car.

Pinks and oranges and blues and yellows. The universe turns into an array of colors before me, the result of light and particles and different wavelengths. And I drive onward, windows open, wind and the remaining sun on my face, the hum of the engine and tire tread on pavement, until I’m reset. Until I’m restored. Until…

…I’m back.

Cue up “Four Hearts in a Can” from Smog’s 1996 album The Doctor Came at Dawn, and start the engine. Check the gauges, and the fluids, and the gas. Then go.


Friday, July 12, 2024

Mica Levi

Here's a pretty and sprawling new track from composer and musician Mica Levi.  "Slob Air" is cinematic and wistful, and also feels like some 12" extended version of a college pop radio single from 35 years ago.  Check it out below and get it here from Hyperdub.


Galaxie 500

It sure would be cool if old school Boston indie band Galaxie 500 were to reunite and give me a chance to see them live.  At the moment, there's nothing like that in sight, but at least we're getting a sweet new collection of B-sides and rarities with the upcoming "Uncollected Noise New York '88-'90."  Check out the previously unreleased "I Wanna Live" below and pre-order the LP here from Silver Current Records.


Friday Horror Trailer - Ghoulies II


Daily Jam - To the End

My wife and I got married almost 16 years ago in an outdoor service cheekily dubbed the “Lakeside Inferno” by one of my groomsmen, a party held on a 90+ degree day in September by a lakeside vista to cap off about 9 years of dating, which is a kind of surreal thing for me to think about. So much has happened since then. But you should have seen us. Younger. Skinnier. Me with a stupid haircut. We had it all. And now we’re fast approaching a quarter century of being together, and if there’s been any kind of constant in all of that time, it’s been my attempt to get her to listen to and enjoy all of the music I love.

Before the wedding, we spent weeks trying to agree on a song for our first dance. And I enjoyed every second of that long and winding discussion, as we spent many a warm evening drinking beer, wine, or cocktails while I played track after track on the stereo at home. I forget how many tunes we considered as serious contenders, but there were certainly a few. Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)” was a frontrunner for a while, but eventually fell to The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You,” the song we both agreed felt right. That being said, I pushed hard for one of my favorite Blur songs, the wonderfully slinky “To the End” from 1994’s Parklife.

Recorded with additional uncredited vocals from Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier (another favorite), the song plays like a melancholy slow dance between two longtime lovers (here played by Sadier and Blur front man Damon Albarn) who have been through it all together, seen everything, and have maybe grown a little distant from each other as the years have passed them by. But they’re still together. And they’re still in love. It’s almost like a last dance.

Ultimately, we went another direction as we were in the market for a first dance, but you can bet I'll be playing “To the End” when it’s comes time for our last.

“You and I collapsed in love. And it looks like we might have made it. Yes, it looks like we’ve made it to the end.”


Thursday, July 11, 2024

Flesh of Morning

It's always a bit surprising to me that we have a little darkwave synth pop scene here in Austin.  Probably because it's so fucking hot, and the genre is an icy one.  Anyway, local darkwave act Flesh of Morning just dropped a new track for our listening pleasure.  Check out "The Devil in Me" below and get it here from A La Carte Records.


Kelly Lee Owens

UK electronic artist Kelly Lee Owens has a new album heading our way in October.  Check out the danceable new track "Love You Got" below and pre-order the "Dreamstate" LP here from dh2.


Daily Jam - Atomic

Like a whole lot of folks I know, I used to be in a band. I think we were pretty good too, not world shattering by any means, but we were definitely getting better before things went south and we imploded. We played some shows, recorded an album, and filled our rehearsal space with so much cigarette smoke, it makes my lungs wheeze just thinking about it. But one of the things we never did, and I'm regretful for it to this day, was become part of a larger scene. We neglected to join a likeminded group of peers, freaks, and musicians with which to spread our sound and our art. And that sucks. Who knows what kind of mythmaking we could have enabled and been a part of? Maybe after disbanding, the stories and rumors would have remained, local pop culture lore spread by word of mouth and hazy memory.

But we didn’t.

All of this is probably my fault, as I can fall into my own idiosyncratic antisocial quirks every now and then, or maybe there just wasn’t a scene to fit into. We can’t all be the New York punk rock scene of the 1970's I guess.

Man, to have been around then and there to hang out at CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City and see early performances by The Ramones or Talking Heads or Television or Richard Hell or Suicide or The Heartbreakers. To watch the scene unfold. To exist in the peripheries of punk rock Americana and experience the mythology firsthand. Each band as legendary as the last, sometimes before even taking the stage, and the stories, stories, stories, collections of truths, half-truths, and bullshit that somehow just all made sense. Patti Smith’s sexuality or Dee Dee turning tricks or Debbie Harry having narrowly avoided being murdered by notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, the mythmaking was alive and pulsing, along with bass lines and amplifiers and heartbeats rattled by too much cocaine.

Where was all this shit in Austin 20 years ago? We should have been playing shows with a host of other weirdos, writing songs together, popping pills, drinking whiskey and cheap beer, and writing our own histories, mythic art rock deities to be remembered forever by other weirdos.

But we didn’t...

...which brings me to Blondie, the hippest punk/new wave/disco hybrid act to have ever graced the stage and our home stereos, and their disco pop banger “Atomic.”

I don’t really have any more to add here, so let’s just listen to the song and remember how fucking cool Debbie Harry and the band were.

Still are.


Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Magdalena Bay

We've got some new pop coming or way at the end of the summer from LA duo Magdalena Bay, so get those bodies ready to dance.  Check out new tune "Image" below and pre-order the upcoming "Imaginal Disk" LP here from the band.


Daily Jam - Something Happened to Me Yesterday

My dad passed away a little over 15 years ago. That’s a really odd thing to consider, as it feels so long ago, but also like this ever-present thing, an event I’d rather not have define my life, yet one that holds a permanent position within my psyche nonetheless. It’s like it’s always just on the periphery. And there are a million different things that can make me think of him every single day.

That’s a good thing though. I love to remember my dad, and I treasure each and every memory I have of the man, but I'm also cognizant of the fact that in the immediate aftermath of his death from lung cancer, I was way more wrecked than I ever let on. And in so many ways it stunted me, left me overly numb, unable to feel, running in place for all time.

That was something that took me a while to shake myself of too, and not a mood I have any desire to return to. Coincidentally enough, writing about it over the years was one of the things that helped me move forward, my dad, and death, and grief surfacing in many of the first articles I wrote for the now defunct online magazine Joup (the site in which this column originally appeared). It turns out, there was a lot of solace to be found in listening to and writing about music.

Oh, having a couple of kids of my own helped too.

I don’t broach the subject of my dad’s passing much anymore, but if I'm going to write about The Rolling Stones’ “Something Happened to Me Yesterday,” it’s unavoidable. It’s a song that will forever remind me of him, and kind of a quirky oddity too, both in and of itself and as part of my dad’s repertoire of pop songs.

My dad’s musical tastes were predominantly folk, bluegrass, and Dixieland jazz. He’d occasionally make forays into rock n’ roll, country and western, or pop, and he’d generally take a liking to a showtune here or there, but he rarely wavered from those big three. And man, that bummed me out when I was a teenager. At 15 or 16 years old, I began to go through the old man’s records, hoping to stumble upon some veritable trophy case of cool old music, and while I admittedly can dig on some of it now, as a snot-nosed kid, I was appalled at the paltry selection that laid before me. Other friends were able to sift through their parents’ collections of ‘50s rock and doo-wop, ‘60s soul and psychedelic pop, or even some ‘70s rock like Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin if their folks were a little younger, and there I was with The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Dukes of Dixieland, and the Osborne Brothers’ plucky rendition of “Rocky Top.” The latter was even played at the funeral, and while there are dozens of memories and emotions attached to it now, I still can’t stand that damn song.

But then, out of nowhere, my vinyl perusal turned up Between the Buttons, the 1967 album from The Rolling Stones, and I thought to myself, “Thank God, a real album.” I pulled the record and turned the cover to check the track listing to discover that I knew exactly one song on the thing, the hit single “Ruby Tuesday.”

On his records, my dad used to mark little stars next to the tracks he was particularly fond of. There was no mark next to “Ruby Tuesday.” There was however, one next to the album closing song, and so I gave it a listen. Now, here I am writing about it.

Listening to “Something Happened to Me Yesterday,” it was immediately evident as to why this particular Stones song was up my dad’s alley. Beginning with a short trumpet ditty, the song bobs and bounces along on a steady beat, Mick Jagger singing a bunch of nonsense, while piano, whistling, and a horn section all chime in before the song morphs full on into ragtime jazz. It’s basically The Rolling Stones playing a New Orleans jazz tune. And it’s wonderful.

Further investigation into my dad’s record collection would turn up other gems over time (Melanie’s “Look What They’ve Done to my Song Ma,” The Mike Curb Congregation’s “Burning Bridges,” and so on), but that Stones song was the first to really make me appreciate some different genre tropes and how they could be applied to pop music. And really, I was also just stoked that there was a cool record in the mix.

“So, if you’re out tonight, don’t forget, if you’re on your bike, wear white...”


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

TR/ST

We've been hearing a lot more noise from LA by way of Canada darkwave synth pop artist TR/ST than we usually do over the last few months, it was making me wonder if a new album might imminent.  And it is!  New album "Performance" is due in September.  Pre-order it here from Dais Records and listen to new single "All at Once" below.


Daily Jam - Video Games

This column was originally published in 2019.

Nostalgia. I write about it in some form or another a lot here. It’s this ever-present thing, a constant hum in our pop culture that surfaces in the music we listen to, the TV and movies we watch, and the books we read. It’s in our advertising, our fashion, our cuisine, forever coloring our senses and perceptions in that rose-tinted fuzz of fond memories. For better or worse, nostalgia is everywhere.

I don’t think it was always that way, or at least if it was, it was more subtly so. But for the last 50 years, American culture has just been awash in the stuff. Beginning in the 1970's when the Baby Boomers started to come of age, entertainment and popular culture shifted their focus to that generation’s viewpoint and experience (for white people at least), a trend that would continue into the next decade with a veritable explosion of ‘50s-tinged art. The Boomers’ love of that decade brought us wave after wave of nostalgic entertainment, be it television (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley), film (Back to the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married), music (Sha Na Na, George Thorogood), literature (Stephen King’s It and The Body), and more. Eventually the ‘50s buzz gave way to the ‘60s buzz, giving us bell bottoms again and a revival of psychedelic pop with the Paisley Underground in California. And as the Boomers continued to age, so too did the nostalgia, gradually shifting the focus again to Gen X and the Millennials, which in turn brought us pop culture steeped in the vibes of the ‘70s and then the ‘80s. Meanwhile, the 90’s continues to threaten its imminent comeback (it's already here).

What I'm getting at is that at least for the last five decades, our insatiable taste for that nostalgic high, that constant drip of warm fuzzies, the result of our fleeting feelings and memories of childhood innocence and wonder, has been THE dominant cultural force in our media consumption. I’m guilty of it just as you probably are, getting sucked into the recent movements of ‘80s-inspired pop paraphernalia, be it the homages to the old Amblin movies I watched as a kid or the recent revival of synth horror scores. I guess it’s kind of cathartic. An escape from our present. A screen to hide away our reality for a little while. For our parents, it was Vietnam, Watergate, the recession, gas shortages, and so on that ran through multiple bursting bubbles, drug wars, AIDS epidemics, corruption, and the disintegration of the middle class. And now, it’s housing crises, endless war, climate change, authoritarian government, and that motherfucker Trump. (And now Covid, genocide, and world leaders with dementia.)

We need our escapism, but it’s kind of like we’re stuck in a cycle, the bad shit hidden by good memories over and over and over again. Whether or not that’s benign or ultimately harmful or stunting, I have no idea.

Somehow, this all brings me to Lana Del Rey.

In 2011 while sifting through some music blogs, I came across what appeared to be a homemade video compiled of a bunch of random pieces of pop ephemera: old super 8 footage, clips of old movies, cartoons, celebrities, and skaters, and soft lit shots of a chanteuse, looking aloof and feeling seemingly out of time. The melancholy melody playing alongside these images, and the soft and yearning vocals singing themes of undying, obsessive love; the grainy camera shots, the aesthetic that felt like five decades colliding all at once, and the pouty, botoxed lips...it was all too much. “Video Games” hit my psyche like an atom bomb. I wasn’t alone.

Upon the viral success of the “Video Games” video, Lana Del Rey (nee Lizzy Grant) went through an epic cycle of fascination, hype, praise, more hype, backlash, criticism, and aplomb with greater speed than probably any artist ever before her. She was adored. She was despised. She was accused of inauthenticity, of being a corporate creation. And she was everywhere, be it appearing in another vintagy video for a new song or bombing spectacularly on Saturday Night Live. But what really got lost in all this hype and backlash and blogger drama, was that the song is really damn good. It swims in nostalgia, every aspect of sound and vision feeling like an homage to something, anything, everything. It invokes memories you didn’t even know you had. And it makes me wonder if some people got turned off by it because maybe they felt like it was manipulative.

Who knows? Her career certainly didn’t suffer from any of it. And over a decade later, as her sound expands, her whole aesthetic has remained pretty much intact since that video arrived in 2011.

As for the rest of us, we’re going to ride this nostalgia train into the sunset, the cycles of homage and remake and revival turning again and again until our kids and our kids’ kids are all nostalgic for different versions of the same thing, an endless desire to grab hold of something lost or forgotten, something pure. That is if the planet survives.

(Cue the warm and fuzzy childhood memory here.)


Monday, July 8, 2024

Tycho

August is set to bring us new summer synths from San Francisco based electronic artist Tycho.  Check out the pool party or sunset drive vibes of "Phantom" below and pre-order the "Infinite Health" LP here from the artist.


Daily Jam - Femme Fatale

It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I got in to The Velvet Underground (eternal gratitude to my dormmate for making it happen). I was aware of them, knew some of Lou Reed’s solo work, and understood how important and influential they were, but had never really sat down to absorb any of it. Then my roommate brought home The Velvet Underground and Nico and everything changed.

That album’s a masterpiece, and it’s probably not even their best record (Loaded possibly?), but it’s mix of pop and noise and poetry, along with Reed’s New York swagger, Nico’s icy croon, and Andy Warhol kitsch makes for an absolute monument of sound, a record that naturally didn’t sell, but that affected everything that came after.

At any given moment, I have a different favorite song from the album, but the one that really grabbed a hold of me first was the Nico sung “Femme Fatale,” a kind of quirky little nugget that felt like a detached version of ‘60s pop music. It somehow manages to be warm and glowing and cold and aloof all at the same time, and like the rest of that wonderful record, led me to extended works of Reed and Cale and Nico.

Listen below, our Daily Jam.


Sunday, July 7, 2024

Skee Mask

Here's some soothing ambient electronica from Munich-based producer Skee Mask.  New album "ITLP19 - Resort" is out now.  The vinyl is unfortunately already sold out, but you can download the album from the artist here.  In the meantime, listen to the album opening "Hedwig Transformation Group" below.


Daily Jam - Mindray

My parents were still living in Midland, Texas when I was in college, and I spent many a Friday or Sunday evening, especially around the holidays, driving between Austin and home. A lot of the time, I wouldn’t even get on the road until after 7PM, putting me in the West Texas burg sometime between midnight and one in the morning. And out there on the highway, after the sun had gone down, it’d just be me, the moon and the road, and my case full of CDs to play me into the fading horizon. The five-plus hour drive never really bothered me so long as I had my music with me, songs and albums to soundtrack the time as the twisting, winding paths of the hill country soon gave way to the long stretches of emptiness into the desert. It was peaceful. It was cathartic. It was me-time.

It's summer, and 25 years ago, I might have been getting ready to go, packing up my stuff, or pulling onto the freeway, on my way to see my mom and dad. And I might have been listening to “Mindray” from Lusk’s 1997 album Free Mars. I was probably listening to “Mindray.” I listened to “Mindray” quite a lot. And you should too.


Saturday, July 6, 2024

The Waeve

The Waeve, the UK duo of Graham Coxon (Blur) and Rose Elinor Dougall (The Pipettes), are readying their sophomore album "City Lights" for release this fall on Transgressive Records.  Check out new tune "You Saw" below.


Daily Jam - Forever

This column was originally published in 2018 in those lovely days before Covid-19.

I used to never get sick.

Oh sure, I'd catch a little bug every now and then, but usually only once every couple of years, and I'd always recover quickly, some 24-48 hours later the last remnants of cold or flu or whatever just fading away. I didn’t miss school. I didn’t miss work. Hell, when I was smoking, I didn’t even stop doing that, switching over to Menthols like a good little idiot who thought he’d live forever.

But now?

Now I catch something every single year, often more than once. I get laid out. I get miserable. And I hate the world and everything in it. I’m sick right now to be honest with you, battling what started as a mild flu a month ago and then turned into a walking pneumonia. Medication. Antibiotics. Z-Packs. Cough drops. Mucinex. Inhalers. I’m a walking medicine cabinet. And all I do is cough. You can hear my chest rattling, the mucous and phlegm just refusing to let go. There’s so much nasty shit in there. I’m exhausted. Fatigued. A walking husk of a former person. It seems like it’s lasted an eternity, like it’s never going to end, like it will always just be. And I am just so fucking tired of coughing. I’d do anything to make it stop. These last five years have seen me get ill more often than the 20 years prior. What happened?

Oh yeah. I had kids.

Whatever my kids pick up and bring home, whether it be from school, or daycare, or a friend’s house, or just from being five and two finds its way right into my bloodstream, my nasal cavity, my throat and lungs. And it nests there. To top that off, we took the boys to Disney World in October, so let’s go ahead and add all of the germs and bacteria that the tens of thousands of people there sent us home with into the equation. There’s also the airplanes and airports to contend with. Basically circumstance created a perfect storm of disease for me to wander into, and I did it.

I’ll be here forever. So I'm going to listen to “Forever.” From The Charlatans’ (that’s The Charlatans UK for us here in the States) 1999 record Us and Us Only, first single and album opener “Forever” has just the right amount of organ groove to at least correct and comfort my mental state even as my body slides away into oblivion.

Cough.


Friday, July 5, 2024

Friday Horror Trailer - Jaws 2


Echodrone

Here are some post-rock vibes for your Friday from San Francisco band Echodrone.  Check out "Tranquility" below and get the new "The Curvature of Sound" LP here from the band.


Daily Jam - An Ending (Ascent)

Brian Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent),” from 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, is easily one of my favorite pieces of music of all time, probably top five even. It’s just so wonderfully moving, a haunting and beautiful instrumental that could score just about any moment in time, from bittersweet elation to quiet despair. It can bring tears just sounding as it does without any discernable context whatsoever, just the notes, the melody, the sound. And I love it for that. That feeling is about as close to god as I'm ever likely to feel.

I wish I could remember what my introduction to Brian Eno was. More than likely, the Trainspotting soundtrack’s use of “Deep Blue Day” is what sealed the deal for me, that song’s lush melody paired with the images of Ewan McGregor swimming in a toilet burned forever into my brain and psyche. But maybe it was Eno’s production work through the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s instead, seminal records from the likes of Talking Heads, U2, or David Bowie subliminally speaking the man’s musical majesty to me. It’s also possible it was his time in Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry’s long running project being one of the many bands I explored when I began diving head first into glam rock. Or maybe it was his 1978 album Ambient 1: Music for Airports, that record being one of immense fascination for me and some of my friends in high school, its minimalist approach to music the antithesis of any and everything else we were listening to at the time. One other instance that could have been my introduction to Eno was the exuberant cheerleading of the man’s work by this weird guy I went to high school with. I can’t remember his name, but he was tall and awkward and wore the same puffy, orange jacket every single day, even if it was 100 degrees outside. He constantly extolled the virtues of Brian Eno’s entire catalog, and I guess maybe I decided to believe him.

But whatever it was, Trainspotting or the weird guy in the orange jacket, I'm glad it happened. It led me to “An Ending (Ascent),” and for that I am eternally grateful, a debt that can never be repaid.


Thursday, July 4, 2024

Night in Athens

It's hot as hell here, and we had to adjust some plans today due to a Covid-19 exposure earlier in the week.  So far, we're all still good, but we can't have my mom hang out with us today anymore just to be safe.  Anyhoo, back to that heat.  It's not even noon yet, and i'm sweating my ass off, so let's try to cool down a little with some chilly darkwave from UK artist Night in Athens.  Check out "Words Unspoken" below and get the "Wasted Reflektions" LP here from Wave Records.


Daily Jam - Shake Your Rump

This column was originally published in 2018.

In light of an unearthed 27-year old interview with Kurt Cobain that surfaced a few days ago wherein the artist revealed a less than supportive view of white people in rap music, I thought it a good time to put some Beastie Boys on this proverbial endless loop. Cobain’s opinion wasn’t wrong, though it was a reflection of the time. Being that the interview was taken during the era of Vanilla Ice, he had a point. And while Cobain didn’t say the word, he did note the decades of appropriation, cultural and musical, of white artists spinning their own versions of black music, be it jazz or blues or rock n’ roll or hip-hop, and often profiting from it on a far grander scale than any of the originators ever did.

Appropriation. I’m kind of divided on the whole topic. I’ve always felt that an artist should draw inspiration from any source or well available, so long as your soul is in it. There are all manner of world music elements from across the globe that I find in western pop music that I just adore, and while I guess you could call that cultural appropriation, to me it just feels more like inspiration. And as far as rap music is concerned, it pissed off and scared suburban parents, so of course white kids were going to be into it. And it was just a matter of time before they started making it too. I guess what makes the difference is if you love and have respect for the source material, if you’re appropriating because you feel it in your heart and soul, and not because you’re trying to make a quick buck or be cool or different or something. Inspiration, not exploitation. And this is going to sound very ‘90s of me, but at the end of the day, just don’t be a fucking poser.

I think this is maybe why we never heard any of that noise about The Beastie Boys. It was obvious that they loved the sound. They loved the art. They loved the culture. They loved the music. And in 1989 with the release of their sophomore album Paul’s Boutique, they began to cement a legacy. They did it right, and we love them for that.

So, without further ado, let’s “Shake Your Rump.”


Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Kite

Swedish synth pop band Kite are taking all their singles from the last couple of years and compiling them into one place, remastered and full-length versions for the upcoming album "VII."  This is wonderful news.  Pre-order the record here from Dais and listen to the propulsive "Changing" below.


Dummy

Hey dummies, we've got new music from Dummy coming our way in September.  The LA band mix elements of shoegaze, psychedelia, and more to make a nice little alt-rock stew.  And it's good for you too.  Check out new tune "Nullspace" below and pre-order the upcoming "Free Energy" LP here from Trouble in Mind.


Smush

Unless i'm being led astray by some music writers on the internet, from what i understand, the kids these days are getting into shoegaze and slowcore music thanks to TikTok.  I'm all for it.  Here's a young group from Vancouver that makes music to my ears.  Check out "If We Didn't Cry" by Smush below and download their new "If You Were Here I'd Be Home Now" album here.  Also, pre-order the vinyl here from Zegema Beach Records.


GRIVE

Here's some new moody, smoky, and kind of sultry alt-rock from French duo GRIVE.  Check out "Wait and See" below and pre-order the band's upcoming "Tales of Uncertainty" LP here from Talitres.


Daily Jam - Lust for Life

This column was originally posted in 2018.

A night in 1998: skipping a class...coming home early...cigarette with the neighbor...Jack and Coke...dinner with friends some place that doesn’t card...meeting at someone’s apartment...weed and beer...a house party somewhere...packs of smokes...whiskey...bourbon...beer...tacos...more weed and beer...something stronger...accidentally setting fire to the backyard...almost crashing a car...another party...stealing a keg...running through the park...skinny dipping with strange girls...a quick stop at a corner store for more cigarettes...whiskey...bourbon...beer...more weed and more beer...making out with a stranger...passing out in a bathroom...waking up...acoustic guitar jam in a hot tub...nudity...passing out again...waking up again in a strange bed in a strange house...throwing up...water and smokes...another joint...a haze that slowly fades to black until I awake back at my place...dizzy...nauseous...tired...hair of the dog...and somewhere Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” plays.

A night in 2018: leaving work...picking up kids from school or daycare or Grandma’s house...sit-ups...walking the dog...getting out dinner...picking up a little...folding laundry...reading homework with the kindergartener...making dinner...cleaning up...doing dishes...watching kid shows on Netflix or Prime or cable...putting up laundry...spacing out on social media...bathing the kids...pajamas...arguing about bedtime...picking up toys...reading bedtime stories...five more minutes to play...games...Legos...action figures...wiping down the kitchen counter...telling another bedtime story...watching the last five minutes of the game...carrying a sleeping toddler to his room...watching some ‘80s trash horror movie on Shudder or Prime or YouTube...enjoying one strong, dark ale...letting the dog out to pee one more time...turning off the lights...setting the alarm for 5:30AM...lying down in bed...sore...aching...tired...shutting my eyes...and somewhere Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” plays.

A night in 2038: ???...???...???...???...???...???...???...and somewhere Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” plays.


Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Geneva Jacuzzi

LA electro-pop artist Geneva Jacuzzi has a new album of dancey synth jams heading our way at the end of August.  Get those butts ready to shake, listen to "Art Is Dangerous" below, and pre-order the "Triple Fire" LP here from Dais Records.


Hiatus Kaiyote

Melbourne, Australia's Hiatus Kaiyote make a weird, often indescribable, mix of noise rock, R&B, soul, and funk that can sound like a heart swelling so big that it explodes.  Their new album "Love Heart Cheat Code" is out now on Brainfeeder.  Get it here and listen to the album closing "White Rabbit" below.


Xiu Xiu

I love that for almost 25 years now, LA band Xiu Xiu have been steadily churning out weird album after weird album, over two decades of wild noise for the masses.  New album "13" Frank Beltrame Italian Stiletto with Bison Horn Grips" drops in September.  Pre-order it here from Polyvinyl and listen to "Common Loon" below.


Daily Jam - Those Were the Days

Our song to listen to endlessly today is the Paul McCartney produced 1968 English language reinterpretation of the old Russian folk song “Those Were the Days,” sung by Welsh folk singer Mary Hopkin. The song has always felt almost overtly nostalgic to me despite my having no real personal connection to it. Maybe my dad had it on a mixtape or something. I don’t know. But I love it nonetheless. All songs should be that way.

Listen below, our Daily Jam.


Monday, July 1, 2024

Feeling Figures

Here's a new one from Montreal indie band Feeling Figures.  Dig on "Swimming" below and pre-order the group's upcoming new album "Everything Around You" here from Perennialdeath.


Daily Jam - Romneydale

In some form or another, I’ve been living in my head for as long as I can remember. Sure, I join the real world from time to time, meet people, make friends, get married, have kids, and occasionally experience the kind of existential dread that only living in a crumbling society or dying world can evoke, but eventually I return to the daydreams. I’m always back in the fog. It’s like staring at a blank canvas, contemplating the paint, the strokes and layers forming in the ether before creating an image, or looking at a page or screen, the letters and words gradually assembling into meaning. But it’s also not so romantic, the pretentions of an artist rather than the cold reality, a simple mode of escapism.

It’s just so much easier to pretend than to be.

In some other alternate reality, maybe I’m a successful writer, or a musician, or a filmmaker, cartoonist, psychiatrist, marine biologist, politician, ninja, astronaut. Or maybe I’m not. Probably I’m not. Probably I’m just floating along imagining I’m all of those things like I do here.

Though I hope I’m the ninja.

Anyway, daydreaming and pretending and living in your own head works best with a soundtrack, something to make it all the more cinematic, all the more false. And nothing works for floating around all day for me quite like the funereal folksong of “Romneydale,” a bit of crusty, lo-fi Americana from the 2011 album The Outside Room by Natalie Mering’s project Weyes Blood…or sometimes Weyes Bluhd…or sometimes Weyes Blood and The Dark Juices. But mainly just Weyes Blood.

“Romneydale” is a surreal and heady piece of psychedelic folk, six minutes of aimless wandering in a trancelike state. There’s something almost ominous about the song, the gentle guitar strumming and bits of chime and ambience carrying an old world weight beneath them while Mering’s ghostly, haunting, and cooing vocals float in the air like unsettled dust, disturbed by the shuffling of solemn shoes, a dirge for a lost middle America. But there’s also this kind of melancholy and soothing call to come back home, back to the warmth of your blankets, back into the arms of a loved memory. And maybe stay there for a while.

Back to my head with me.


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Being Dead

Austin's Being Dead are back in September with new album "EELS," this time around with producer John Congleton behind the boards.  May the quirkiness abound.  Listen to "Firefighters" below, which bounces around from jangle pop to psychedelia to art pop and beyond, and pre-order the record here from Bayonet.


Rider/Horse

New York band Rider/Horse make the kind of warped and twisted punk rock that half feels like old sound reverberations rattling around in the inner recesses of your ears, remnants from last night's concert spent way too close to the speakers.  New album "Matted" is out on Friday.  Get it here from Ever/Never Records and listen to the album opening "Combing the Horse" below.


Daily Jam - Fire Woman

There are so many bands and artists out there that I will never get the chance to see perform live due to death or circumstance or whatever. I’ve made my peace with that, but there are an equal amount of bands and artists out there right now that, for whatever reason, I just haven’t seen perform either. And it’s a damn shame that one of those bands is The Cult.

Starting in England in the early ‘80s as kind of a post-punk-goth-rock thing under such monikers as Southern Death Cult or just Death Cult, the song stylings of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy eventually morphed into something more rock n’ roll oriented, a hard rock and metal revival of loud, crunching guitars and pelvic thrust energy. By the time their 1989 album Sonic Temple came out, The Cult were cruising on their stateside success, touring with the likes of stadium acts like Aerosmith and Metallica, and racking up a ton of radio play with their fist-pumping single “Fire Woman.”

I didn’t get to see them back then. I was ten.

The band would eventually break up in the ‘90s, get back together, go on hiatus again, reunite, reassemble, reconvene, and so on, but remained completely off my radar, despite “Fire Woman” holding a place of prominence in the car stereos of my friends and me.

I still didn’t see them. Honestly, I don’t even know if they ever came to Texas.

And then in 2012, they played a free show at the Waterloo Records day party during the South by Southwest music festival.

And I still didn’t get to see them…but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Evidently, I was not the only one jonesing for a little Cult action, the trek west through downtown Austin from another music venue I’d spent the early afternoon at allowing way too much time to pass, and way too much valuable space to fill up at Waterloo. The day party at capacity, a fenced in lot of asses and elbows, I was forced to move on, the prospect of listening on the other side of the barrier proving to be too depressing. I ended up going to eat some Cajun food down the street instead.

And rocking “Fire Woman” forever more.


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Uniform

Back from the coast.  Back from the beach.  Back to 100 degree weather.  And back to the grind on Monday.  So here's some appropriately despairing music from New York's Uniform and their upcoming "American Standard" EP.  Check out the noise on "This Is not a Prayer" below and pre-order the record here from Sacred Bones.


Daily Jam - L'uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo

This column was originally published right before Halloween in 2018.

I’m going to be out of the office next week, right during my most favorite time of the year, and so it seems like today is the day for a Halloween-themed entry into the annals of songs I ceaselessly entertain myself with. Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, the combination of autumn weather, horror movies, ghosts and ghouls, pumpkin ales, and adolescent debauchery being things I would take in full time if it were so possible. And I used to pride myself on my costume effort before the boys came along and the focus shifted to them instead. Some of my past disguises include:

    - Kurt Cobain
    - Hunter S. Thompson
    - Token Goth Guy
    - Shaggy from Scooby-Doo
    - Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman from The Lost Boys)
    - A Mad Scientist
    - A Bear
    - A Werewolf
    - Courtney Love

And for my sons:

    - Chewbacca
    - Freddy Krueger
    - Ash (from Evil Dead)*
    - A White Tiger
    - A Vampire
    - A Skunk

This year, it’s looking like I’ll be repeating the werewolf, my wife as a witch, and my boys as ninja and some cartoon character named Catboy respectively.

Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that I love, love, love Halloween and everything that comes with it. But let’s get to the music.

From a man who really needs no introduction and whose catalog of work has been inspiring me for years and years and years, Italian Maestro Ennio Morricone’s score for Dario Argento’s directorial debut, 1970’s The Bird with The Crystal Plumage, ranks as one of my all time favorites. Though he’s most well known for scoring spaghetti westerns, Morricone actually provided the soundtrack to quite a few giallos as well, utilizing his usual penchant for combining and mixing styles into something uniquely his own. The Bird with The Crystal Plumage is no different, shades of psychedelia and choral harmonies crafting a surreal and unnerving tapestry of sound, and very notably so on the haunting “L'uccello dalle Piume Di Cristallo.”

So let’s all enjoy some wonderfully eerie music from a master of the craft and take in these last few days of the Halloween season before we have to wait all over again. Watch a scary movie. Eat some candy. Carry out that murder you were thinking about. And have a Happy Halloween (even if it's still June).

*That one is quite possibly my masterpiece.


Friday, June 28, 2024

Friday Horror Trailer - Saw

 

Daily Jam - Pets

This column was originally published in 2018.

“My friend says we’re like the dinosaurs, only we are doing ourselves in much faster than they ever did.”

I don’t know if I ever would have believed that a 30-year old lyric from Perry Farrell would ultimately wind up being as prescient as it seems to have become, but here we are. From the self-titled debut of Farrell’s post-Jane’s Addiction project Porno For Pyros, “Pets” is a wistful lament on the state of humanity and its inevitable, self-attributed demise. And if you’re like me, and you’ve been paying attention to climate scientists, or just reading the recent articles from the New York Times or The Guardian, then that demise appears to be just over the horizon.

It angers me. It scares me. It depresses me.

And my mind keeps going to my sons, and the whole thing just angers, scares, and depresses me even more. We are on the precipice of a mass extinction event, and all for the sake of a few more dollars in the pockets of a bunch of rich old white men. And there’s a whole horde of us who are just too stupid, stubborn, or corrupt to ever care.

So while Farrell was 100% correct about us and the dinosaurs, he was way off in believing that we’d “make great pets.” We’d be awful pets. We’d just end up shitting all over the rug again and again and again. Horrible.

-----

It’s difficult not to despair. I know I need to fight and scream, but it’s hard to do so without feeling like it will all end up being pointless in the end. But fuck that. I love my kids. I love your kids (even the shitty ones). And I’m going to have to do everything I can to remain steadfast in my duty to provide a future for them.

Please join me.

Here are some sites with information on how to donate your money, time, rage, and anxiety to help. It is quite literally the least we can do.



Thursday, June 27, 2024

Daily Jam - Help Me When You're Gone

Have you ever been to one of those Christian stores? They’re these weird little gift shops that trade in religious iconography and nick-nacks, a showroom full of tables, racks, and shelves stacked and stuffed with books, Bibles, trinkets, shirts, crosses, and chachkies. Jesus freak paraphernalia. Salvation through consumerism. Praise be to the lord.

Growing up in conservative small town Texas, these kinds of stores were pretty prevalent, popping up in strip malls and shopping centers all across the desert, as I’m sure they did (and still do) throughout the whole of the Bible Belt too. That doesn’t make them any less odd. Or off putting. The combining of one’s religious beliefs or spirituality with capitalism and commerce just stinks of avarice and hypocrisy to me, a reverence of money and gold that goes against every lessen and tenet that that religion is supposed to espouse.

I went to a Christian private school for eight years. I know what I’m talking about. Christian stores are not good.

That being said, some of these stores also sold Christian records, tapes, and CDs, an assortment of mostly dull and saccharine pop artists who might occasionally crack the Top 40, but who were ultimately deemed acceptable by the hordes of overbearing parents and adults thumping their Bibles at school and community events across the county. Most of these albums were bad, but serviceable I guess, laughable attempts at rock n’ roll and popular music practically oozing with the wrong kind of earnestness, parables, and devotion. Yuck.

But naturally, I eventually stumbled upon a Christian rock band that I liked.

California band Starflyer 59 began in 1993 as one of the original signees to Christian label Tooth & Nail Records. The band’s early sound was wholly indebted to the shoegaze of the early ‘90s, though by 1997’s Americana, they were working a more radio friendly kind of pop rock into the mix as well. And I ate it up, despite the group’s holy and innocuous origins. Honestly, I just kind of ignored all of that. The penultimate track on Americana, the floating and moody “Help Me When You’re Gone,” might be about Jesus. Then again, it might not be. Lyrically speaking, lead singer/head Starflyer Jason Martin’s songwriting was ambiguous enough that it could go either way.

And I’m okay with that. It helps the medicine go down or whatever.

It’s just too bad I had to go into one of those Christian stores to buy the thing 25 years ago. The things we do for our aural fixations. Praise be to God.