Sunny War

Posted on Posted in Features

Strolling down the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Southern California, one needs both a curious mind and a certain set of blinders. Mobs of tourists and pushy people trying to peddle their sometimes good, often mediocre mixtapes quickly gets old. Get too jaded, though, and you’ll miss the impromptu drum circles and jams, the guitar-playing roller-bladers, and the bizarre wackos that give the area its famous bohemian character. Over the past Winter Break, one busking musician pierced my aural veil enough to seduce a backpedal. Her bluesy guitar and almost-raspy voice, rich with an airy openness, pulled me in for a […]

Tchamantché – Rokia Traoré (Throwback Review)

Posted on Posted in Album Reviews

Earlier this month, Malian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Rokia Traoré released her sixth full length album, Né So (“home,” translated from Bambara). It notably features Led Zeppelin bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and freak-folker Devandra Banhart, but to me the most intriguing part of their presence on the album stops at reading their names in the credits. With the exception of a track or two, the album feels tired–a word I have never considered listening to any piece of music Traoré has put out to date. I cut her some slack though for being such a badass and working […]

“Earth to Heaven” – Esperanza Spalding

Posted on Posted in New Tracks

I’ve heard many musicians flaunting their quirky knowledge about the similarities between metal and jazz, but never would I have guessed that jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding would be the one to manifest that connection for me. The wrenching snare crack and thick first notes of “Earth to Heaven” feels like all good metal should–like I’m locked down as brick walls explode themselves on me, albeit in a somewhat meditative way. Rhythmic and harmonic suspense–seriously, the tight and strenuous harmonies will seize your muscles–keep the intensity driving through the two verses until the rain clouds pass and Spalding’s sweet voice serenades […]

Valentine’s Day Special

Posted on Posted in Features

Whether you’re in for a classic consumerist’s red roses date, a nihilist fuck with your kind-of lusty acquaintance, a wistfully quiet night spent nursing your budget wine, or a hot-to-trot orgy, I’ve got you covered with this 14-piece assorted box of diddies. Let’s start where the fireplace kindling first murmurs and red wine glosses the polished glasses. You want to seduce? Shut up and let the experts take over, dear. Whether your homemade recipe of love requires hands-on cooking or not, let D’angelo make explicit that thick, velvety cloud engorging your minds To go with your rose petals, $15+ bottle […]

It’ll All Be Over – The Supreme Jubilees (Reissue Review)

Posted on Posted in Album Reviews

The Supreme Jubilees released It’ll All Be Over their only album in 1981. Straddling gospel and disco, it soars in the funky heavenly rafters of church. The opening track “Do You Believe” goes down smooth and sultry like the chocolate pudding of your dreams. That laid-back drum beat, accentuated organ, and liquid funk guitar mesh themselves together into a silky blend that snuggles the senses. Dim the lights, cast the rose petals, and allow these warming tones to get it steamy. Yes, the lyrics plea for the salvation of a friend’s and your souls in Jesus Christ’s resurrection and that […]

“My Baby Don’t Understand Me (Live)” – Natalie Prass

Posted on Posted in New Tracks

Back in January of this year, Natalie Prass unleashed her fully-orchestrated, genre-touring, wham-bam of a debut album. Matthew E. White of Spacebomb Records co-produced her self-titled stunner and by the sound of it, heavily influenced the instrumentation that propelled Prass’ record into the sweet sonic cosmos (he’s credited with horn arrangements while strings belong to Trey Pollard). The orchestration sounds delightfully similar to that which supports White’s own records; in fact, the players may be the same since Spacebomb belongs to White. The band plays in lockstep precision–a feature kept consistent on Natalie Prass’ second release of the year, an […]

Try to Be Hopeful – The Spook School

Posted on Posted in Album Reviews

Try To Be Hopeful rallies anthemic pop punk against heteronormativity and binaristic gender constructions. It’s queer bubblegum sonic bliss for people who still believe in punk as one of the most concisely radical art forms out there. “Burn Masculinity” proclaims The Spook School’s intent from the album’s front lines. First, singer Nye Todd gets real in a verse self-reflecting on his complicity and role in oppression as a white, transgender man: “I’ve got to accept that I’ve inherited a history / of persecution and abuse / And I’ve got to accept that I’m inheriting a privilege / that I should […]

A Night With Ratboys

Posted on Posted in Features

Exactly a month ago, a friend and I trekked northward from Des Moines up to Ames, Iowa. It was Fall Break 2k15 and we had decided a couple weeks previously to check out a house show. A bunch of stellar bands were on the ticket, but we were both especially excited to witness the Topshelf Records post-country newcomers Ratboys. A couple days prior to the show, I sent out an email to the band hoping to lock down a quick interview. I was thoroughly pleased to receive  a very enthusiastic follow up.  I met up with guitarist/vocalist Julia Steiner and guitarist […]

“T.I.W.Y.G.” – Savages

Posted on Posted in New Tracks

After having just caught my breath from their epic, 37 minute noise rock collaboration with Japanese noise group Bo Ningen, Savages have begun releasing music again. The confrontational, highly political post punk four piece released the second single from their upcoming album Adore Life earlier this week. “T.I.W.Y.G” is a blistering, 3:00 minutes of Savages pushing the limits of their sound.   The song opens with unintelligible guitar feedback that quickly is supplanted by a full, driving bassline. Lead singer and Savages figurehead Jehnny Beth echoes the rhythmic syncopation of the bass with the song’s threatening mantra – “This is […]

“Lust” – Willis Earl Beal

Posted on Posted in New Tracks

“I want to emphasise that fame and fortune, that’s not where it’s at. It can give you a lot of things; it’s given me a way to express myself, but at the same time what I’m doing now – riding my bike, making music alone – that’s the way I started out. That’s what I know.” Taken from his interview with the Guardian, Willis Earl Beal’s reflection on his current state confesses a sort of resigned contentment. Returning to his musical roots means freedom, but also in his case, a place of poverty and displacement. Beal grew up in Chicago before […]