Archive for July, 2020


Ela Minus’ Megapunk

The gradual release of a record whets my appetite. Anticipation towards a grand collection of thematically and musically in sync songs is what still draws me into full-length albums.

Ela Minus, the Colombiana-born NYC-based producer haunted my thoughts with her eerie, yet lyrically optimistic slow-burner, “they told us it was hard, but they were wrong.” single. An absolute headbanger of a cut with its throbbing beat underlying all six minutes as Ela in a weightless, methodical tone conveys the necessity of optimism.

She’s returned with her latest, “Megapunk”, a formidable anthem aimed at incompetent politicians dragged through the gritty, strobe-heavy club. Ela doesn’t hesitate to share her agitated state as she rallies the troops:

you don’t want to understand/ you’re choosing to lead us apart/ but against all odds/ you still won’t make us stop.

Here she accelerates to a dangerous velocity following a driving beat interwoven with techno-heavy Zeros and Ones; throughout she chants, “You can’t make us stop!” as the pulsing and racing hits hard from start to finish.

Surprisingly penned last year:

When I wrote this song last year, I was worried it would lose context if not released immediately. I could not have been more wrong. This is the perfect time to put this out. We have to keep going. Ánimo y fuerza.


Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)

Strong records from debut artists hooked me in 2019 while on a multi-year blog break. One was Black Pumas, a sensual, soulful duo out of Austin, TX. With a dynamic frontman in Eric Burton, with enough charismatic smoothness of an Otis Redding with plenty of young volcanic James Brown energy. Live, he’s there to perform, put on a theatrical-like production through movement, running his voice through various registers, and complementing Adrian Quesada’s neo-soul beauty.

“Black Pumas made you something special.” was in my inbox this morning.

“Fans First”, is Spotify’s feature where listeners of specific artists get first dibs on various offerings; gig access, t-shirts, and pre-sales of upcoming record releases.

“11 bonus tracks including unreleased originals, live recordings, and four cover songs” jumped out in a “Fans First” email. I’m a completist for artists that move me. Their debut consisted of 10 tracks. Every song is warm and inviting, possesses the ability to make you feel and move through poetic lyricism advocating for love and unity; and perfect dinner music. Additional Black Pumas excited me. A sense of urgency came over me as the scarcity of this release was highlighted:

“This Fan’s First pressing is limited to 1000 copies worldwide, pressed on an exclusive color and only available while supplies last.”

Sold, Spotify. Artists have no idea how important their art has been to push us through these troubling, unknown times. I know that a vinyl release is a piece of art. This purchase is an enhancement to my listening experience, and more importantly, a small token of appreciation for all Black Pumas do.


A Gravity-Free Dream Through Hollywood

What if you were in charge of scoring movies with your masterly curated soundscapes? A dream job for most. I would have to steal other artists’ creations. Those who can receive a script, or even view footage to be scored, and then sit down to create a composition evoking what one wants the viewer/listener to experience is other-worldly. So I will take Gold & Thorns “Hollywood” creation and stockpile it when Anthony Gonzalez of M83 and Stranger Things come together in a new found underworld and require an aural accompaniment.

Perhaps it’s the minor synths, the backing beat accentuated by pulses of shimmering light with androgynous vocals floating over this dream-pop novella that make me wants to close my eyes and drift off to an alternate reality. Or the 80s tones invoke what we would envision for an emotional rollercoaster of heartbreak descents and precipitous ascents where we are on the verge of losing all control while experiencing a terror-inducing chase where the scene quickly cuts to darkness.


Chicago Got Lucky (Draft Resurrection)

A draft created in 2013. Even though its contents were about two former 90s Chicago acts, I found connections to them this year. Loud Lucy, a bright and powerfully expressive trio, created a cohesively formidable debut record in 1995 and vanished almost as quickly as they stepped onto the scene. Earlier this year, I discovered their one and only record was on Spotify after believing MP3s were my only listening source. Then Fig Dish, a witty power-pop quartet fronted by Blake Smith, a serial band founder who has given me countless listens over two plus decades. Smith contributed to “High, Wide, and Stupid” off Local H’s latest record Lifers.

A lost tribute album re-emerged this month: Wikipedia reminded me of its existence while researching oddities. You Got Lucky is a collection of Tom Petty songs reimagined from various artists of the 90s. Two former staples in my Chicago rotation were enlisted for this covers record.

Loud Lucy, a trio signed to Geffen Records was a one and done act. Their debut Breathe was a collection of 12 tracks that showcased the bands ability to rock, create tracks with sudden acceleration around Christian Lane’s excitable vocal range, and made me question why this melodic guitar-heavy act disappeared. Cover or not, this is an additional Loud Lucy track; and one with Veruca Salt’s Louise Post on backing vocals.

Loud Lucy :: Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

The alt-power pop quartet Fig Dish showcased their high-energy Chicago sound over the course of two whip smart, consistent full-lengths. On this rendition, the quartet remove the brightness of Petty’s original for a slow-burn care of chugging guitars, a formulaic 90s crunch, and sludgy feedback that when at its apex is ready to burst out of the gates with the furious pop propulsion Fig Dish excelled at.

Fig Dish :: Don’t Come Around Here No More


Workman’s Sound Check!

Hawksley Workman is doing a sound check of sorts for tomorrow’s 3rd installment of Hawksley Night in Canada EP 3. The local Victoria radio station, Zone 91-3, understands we miss live music. Thanks to their Micro Virtual Zone Show, a unique live performance of Hawksley’s latest single, “Just a Dream” has been shared.

Thanks to video wizardy, Workman showcases this song’s multi-layered ingredients that create this whimsical, throwback four on the floor single:

Hawksley Workman :: Just a Dream (Micro Virtual Zone Show)

On Sunday, 7/26, at 3 PM ET, the one-man jam is bringing his theatrical-like pop exuberance to us. It’s a basement show, one where deep cuts and fan favorites will be performed. He’s so confident in his chosen set-list that he’s already shared it:

Purchase your entrance into this intimate basement extravaganza here.


Waterhouse In PioneerTown, CA

The lack of live music now is a constant reminder of our current state. Thankfully, great artists are performing virtually for me. Their performances vary; duos plugging in and tearing the roof off, singer/songwriters adorning a guitar and making his father-in-law’s basement his stage, and Nick Waterhouse spinning dusty 45s during cocktail happy hour.

The electrifying, ability to absolutely smoke in front of a live audience Waterhouse debuts his Live at Pappy & Harriet’s: In Person From the High Desert today. An eclectic, career spanning collection of 18 songs cut back in another era, that of October 2019, in Pioneertown, CA. The hip conductor of all things vintage and timeless is accompanied by his full band consisting of lively brass, lovely and sexy backing vocals, and a mission to set this intimate venue ablaze.

As a native Californian, Nick pays tribute to the 60s garage act The Seeds. On “Pushin’ Too Hard”, Waterhouse ups the intensity of the original with a pulsing Hammond, explosive rhythmic section, surfabilly guitar freakout, and Nick’s excitable vocals. Their reinterpretation is an exemplar of what a cover can be.

Nick’s desire for this timely release:

I hope to put you all in another place and another time when you put this on. This record is not simply a live album, my intent was to give you a club record…it is loose and a little wild and a little rough around the edges…..the nexus between honky tonk and night club that makes up the very core of what I’d been doing out on the road for the past decade.

Spotify’s Release Radar knows me. If I can’t walk into a venue today and jack my core temperature up through close proximity to other folks, cuttin’ circles around the dance floor, and letting all my worries melt away, I can drop the needle on Nick’s latest release.


Danger, Pity, & Fear

Sean Nelson, the frontman and songwriter of melodic, always witty alt-rock band Harvey Danger is an intelligent and accomplished artist. His creative work is multi-faceted; Editor-at-Large of The Stranger, author of a 33 and 1/3 series book, journalist, and dabbler in film. A Renaissance Man of sorts with his greatest talent being creating smart, liable to explode rock music.

Harvey Danger is an act I strive to be a completist with. The songwriting, Nelson’s acrobatic vocal delivery, that 90s formula of soft verses building up to a barrage of driving guitars and aggressive instrumentation are everything I adore on their Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? LP. Luckily, the session that birthed this record didn’t stop at 10 songs.

The B-side to their radio-friendly single, “Flagpole Sitta” is “The Ballad of the Tragic Hero (Pity and Fear)”. A rarity that could have sandwiched seamlessly between “Wooly Muffler” and “Private Helicopter” on their debut; it’s full of smart aleck wordplay downplaying Greek philosophers’ relevance, that deliberate and low sing-speak build to cathartic-like wailing; chock full of Nelson’s ecstatic, maniacal sounding laughter as he delivers a tale of downfall conveyed over boundless energy only Harvey Danger was capable of producing.

This B-side originated from what I consider one of the most under-appreciated records from an act most know of but not many heard.

The Ballad of the Tragic Hero (Pity and Fear)


Guards “So It Goes”

Bongos might be the great motivator we all need during this period. They hit hard, create a fun how can you not be bouncing around right now rhythm. “So It Goes”, from LA-based duo Guards is an example of a master class in these percussive Swiss Army knives.

Their latest single is a hypnotic nod to the bright and explosive melodies of the 60s. A song that would fit in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, or complement a backyard BBQ your hip parents might have thrown. This pop-psychedelia has a carefree approach and start to finish intensity that screams move.


Wait, I know that song!

If it’s all been done before, why are artists still creating? For many, it’s a passion, one that is so life-affirming that nothing else exists to fulfill this need. Most pull from somewhere or someone when in need of inspiration. They listen with intent while searching for their muse; their next song can be created using a brief sample of perhaps Ballin’ Jack’s “Found a Child”.

The New York Times have assembled 15 tracks of pop songs we know. But we know only a fragment of each song via the samples pulled by artists like Beastie Boys, Beck, Daft Punk, etc. The artists we know up close and personal found inspiration within a break, an intricate and infectious drum hit, dirty guitar riff, or brash horn stab, amongst other sonically creative elements.

You May Not Know These 15 Songs. But You’ve Heard Them.

After perusing the album covers, taking in funky jams of yesterday, and hearing songs I truly never heard from front to back, I’m yearning for an As Heard on Radio Soulwax mix.


Ana Tijoux’s “Pa Que”

All this music is available no matter where we reside. You want to explore a new genre, easy; curious what people in Belgium think is hot today, you’re a few clicks away; looking to dabble in a new language and use music as your motivator, queue up some Chilean protest rap simmered in Puerto Rican spices. Ana Tijoux, the French-borne, Chilean MC/songwriter who made a large entrance on Julieta Venegas’ “Eres Para Mi” single in 2006, shares “Pa Que”. Her songs have purpose, she’s one to push for social change through sharp, fierce rhymes over motivational rhythms and beats.

This demonstration of the injustice surrounding us today is one created to move to. Ana recruited Puerto Rico’s PJ Sin Suela to energetically color all of the textures interwoven within the almost four-minute message. The tag-team duo peacefully rhyme back and forth over cumbia, reggaeton, and a blazing merengue beat. Challenging to passively listen without a head nod or desire to shake, though Ana and PJ aggressively request we step up and take action with them.

Upcoming Shows:


July 2020