Week in Pop: Backwords, Empty Moon, Friend Roulette, Leisure, Lowbanks

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With CMJ taking over the indie entertainment news feeds, Impose’s Week in Pop brings you an exclusive listen and look at at the week’s rising upstarts, with first a quick news rundown. Ebola scares rocked Williamsburg’s The Gutter, which changed some showcase plans; SxSW dropped their initial 2015 lineup; while Brian Eno prepares to re-issue four 90s albums  (plus plenty of unreleased bonus goodies) via All Saints Records; FKA twigs’ Google Glass performance piece as advertisement; Andre Johnson aka Christ Bearer commutes self-castration into a career in stand-up; Sleater-Kinney box set buzz; Chief Keef got dropped by Interscope; Weezer’s fan-sourced surveys; Jack White to speak at Yale discussion roundtable on “Exploring the Rise and Fall of Paramount Records”; iLoveMakonnen attacked during performance at NYC’s SOB’s; Julian Casablancas let us know for the record that he DOES enjoy playing with The Strokes; while we sadly said goodbye to Orbital.

But next up, we are proud to present a round of conversation and world wide exclusives with Leisure, Empty Moon, Backwords, Friend Roulette, Lowbanks, Shotty, Buscabulla, Silk Rhodes, Boy + Kite, Death Records, co-curated by Exray’s, and more—in no particular order.


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Portland by NYC’s Leisure debut today the single and video for, “Mutual Lies”, filmed by Brian Echon and animated/edited by Fatos Marishta. Taken off their upcoming Gone Again EP for Track and Field Records, available November 25 in a limited cassette release — Frontman Jon Jurow brings along the top brass talents of bassist Alex Geddes from The Woolen Men, Royal Baths, Edibles, and Trance Farmers’ John Rau on percussion, Baltimore son Kevin Muhitch, with mastering and engineering credits from heavyweights like Timothy Stollenwerk, Eric Dante Sabitino, and Justin Frye. The result here becomes a woven world of rapid waving audio textures where the inner personal relationships between friends and lovers become a sonic experiment that turns cases of trust, and deceit into a motorik movement.

On “Mutual Lies”, Leisure tackles the subjects of friends, ‘frenemies,’ and all the weird Portland dramas that occur between the lines of passive aggressive posturing. “Mutual friends, turned to mutual lies, let’s not speak of this again,” Jon sings, and repeats as the memories of failed friendships are rekindled through revisited scenarios and situations. The “don’t want to stay” attitude marks the exodus from the Northwest town to the new Northeast digs in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Brian Echon’s video and Fatos Marishta colorful animations case moving neon colors throughout the green screen backgrounds, the instruments, and the performers that electrifies all involved to match the song’s whirling momentum. Leisure brings baggage of woe that is not just exclusive to Portland, Oregon; but deals with the interpersonal small town strife of friendship fall-outs that happen just because it’s something to do. The rye wit and sardonic humor on “Mutual Lies” hinges off recognizable situations everyone has been through at one time or another, even dispelling the weekend warrior mentality of the masses with lines like, “Saturday night is just another day.” Following the video premeire, join us as we got a chance to catch up with frontman, Jon Jurow:

Tell us about how Leisure was born, after cross-country travels, and then recruiting Alex Geddes, John Rau, and Kevin Muhitch for the band.

Leisure was conceived as a vessel for exploring audio/visual work I was envisioning at the time, social commentary and pure pop joy. Having spent the last few years working on inward electronics, I was searching for something more outward / direct. I wanted to challenge myself. Guitar and voice are still somewhat foreign to me. There’s nothing to hide behind. Putting this out there is something that’s very vulnerable.

In a group that has talents that come from the talent pools of The Woolen Men, Royal Baths, Edibles, Trance Farmers, etc; how do you find their collective gifts have enhanced Lesiure?

They are all incredible players and close friends. I came to them with the sketches/demos of the songs that would become the “Gone Again” EP and feel blessed that they were willing to back me and add so much to the project.

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What was it like recording the Gone EP with Mike Erwin in two days time?

Honestly I’ll say It was a great experience and Mike is an extremely skilled engineer. That being said, having only ever recorded alone/at home, it was also somewhat stressful to have time on my mind and a lot of really strong personalities in a room. There’s an immediacy to it that really translates well. These are all pretty much first takes. After this initial session we tracked two new songs in N Portland with Eric Sabitino that I just mixed down with Justin Frye of PC Worship/Gary War that I’m equally excited to have made it onto this release.

The cool-flashing-color effects on the video for “Mutual Lies” is perfect for that cerebellum twisting song. What was the behind-the-scenes magic at play with the visual treatment from Brian Echon and Fatos Marishta?

Brian is an amazing videographer based in LA. We met a couple of times and discussed the overall vibe/vision behind the song and he just kinda went from there as we only had 4 hours to shoot in this warehouse. Fatos is also pure genius and did all the final editing and animations. He showed me some footage, screen caps and shot edits back and forth ’til we arrived here. I really just completely trusted him to help create a visual reality to my narrative.

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Can you give us the report from the Portland indie scenes?

Ha ha I left Portland almost 5 months ago and have been out in NYC trying to recover!

Most of the people I originally met there have also since moved out here to NY, Montreal, LA or Europe. That being said there are truly a lot of super sweet and talented kids out there and still have fond memories of what that place used to be seven to eight years ago. EMA, Vice Device, Appendixes, Woolen Men, Tender Age, Jason Urick, Love Cop, Azul Toga, A.S.S.S, Antecessor, Shy Girls, Vektroid, WL, Litanic Mask, Pure Bathing Culture, Twins, and many more I probably don’t know of or can’t remember.

What will the Leisure full-length be like?

The second release is still very much in the formative stages, so to early to really say. I can say, lyrically it’s slightly less dark. Different takes on romanticism and escapism. I no longer necessarily wish for the world to end, though I’ve accepted that we’ve already gone way beyond as a species. I’ve fully accepted death and rebirth, which I can’t say I had when I wrote this record a year ago. Likely sparser, longer pieces as opposed to these which were meant to be vignettes. Smoother, more keys, more hi hats, probably completely different instrumentation on some songs.

I never want to make the same record twice.

Leisure’s Gone Again EP will be available November 25 from Track and Field Records.


Exray's Jon Bernson reports from Vessel XII.
Exray’s Jon Bernson reports from Vessel XII.

Exray’s emerged from the wreckage of the twentieth century with offerings like Ammunition Teeth Trust a Robot, and released their EP The _Dome on Bandcamp and Howells Transmitter. Serving as a sampler platter of three albums inspired by an elaborate concept built around the outer-reaches travels of Vessel XII that I’ll expound on in a moment. On the premier of “The Fall”, signals waves and frequency patterns criss-cross across plains of the astral and the earthbound corners. Seasons of summer, spring, winter, and fall are observed from objective outside points of views that observe the balances of water, sand, along with both the connected and disconnected bonds of human relations. These things exist in a floating unison that circulates the globes of galaxies known and unknown alike, where underlying underscores and attention abound through the synthesized surges from analog and digital synth currents. The exploration of these outer places mirrors that human quest to know more about the own mysteries of existence that are never answered.

The EP arrives on the heels of the announcement that Exray’s will present a multimedia exhibit at San Francisco’s distinguished de Young Museum in April of 2015, called “Vessel XII”. The result of collaborations with researcher Astrid Bly regarding exploration of the outer reaches of space has inspired material for three forthcoming Exray’s albums, with The Dome proving a twenty-minute audio preview of forthcoming events. We invite you to begin the experience with “The Fall”, followed by an interview with the visionary frontman/producer/outer dimension explorer Jon Bernson. You are also invited to indulge yourself in Exray’s co-curation, closing out this entire feature.

Give us a declassified outline of the Vessel XII undertaking.

As you may know, Vessel XII refers to a series of twelve television broadcasts that were received at various international locations between the years of 1986 and 2009. Each broadcast contains a message from an Earthly spacecraft (Vessel XII) that was sent to explore the outer reaches of our galaxy. Most people assume this is a science fiction story or a publicity stunt, but there is one researcher, by the name of Astrid Bly, who has been studying this set of phenomena for years. I was fortunate enough to meet her a few years ago at a Singularity conference. We hit it off and I was moved by her work. To make a long story short, she needed audio assistance for her project and all the gents here at Exray’s were happy to help out.

Astrid Bly's transmission from Vessel XII.
Astrid Bly’s transmission from Vessel XII.

So when you refer to the logbook entries, you are referring to these broadcasts/messages from Vessel XII?

Exactly. Each broadcast from Vessel XII contains one entry from their logbook, which is described by Astrid as the “diary / blackbox recorder of the spacecraft.” All of the entries seem to be dictated by the same crew member, who is known to us only as ‘Keeper of the Logbook.’

If my understanding is correct, track #4 of The_Dome is an excerpt from one of these broadcasts. Do you plan to share more of them?

That’s true. Technically speaking, anyone can track them down, if they are willing to travel the world and scour the deep channels of the internet. To my knowledge, Astrid is the only one who has found them all and assembled them into a coherent format. We’ve shared some excerpts with friends and a few experts in the field, but Astrid’s press conference and The_Dome EP are the first attempts to share these findings in an organized way.

Exray's Michael Falsetto-Mapp, in Vessel XII.
Exray’s Michael Falsetto-Mapp, in Vessel XII.

And what about the music? Are the songs from Vessel XII as well?

Good question. This needs to be explained. The first two tracks on The_Dome are songs that Exray’s wrote and recorded because we were inspired by Vessel XII and Astrid’s research. By helping her, we’ve become familiar with the logbook entries and realized that these fascinating reports are filled with ideas for songs and albums.

Let’s get specific! Talk to us about the making of the planet spinning descent of ‘The Fall,’ and perhaps the Camus connection to the idea of falling from earth, falling from grace, and falling perhaps, into new dimensions.

I will try to field all of these! “The Fall’ refers to logbook transmission #2. This is a particularly enigmatic broadcast because the title is never explained. In all likelihood, it has to do with landing on a planet that is covered entirely by liquid water. In our song, we refer to the fall as a season that the crew of Vessel XII no longer has access to (being that they live in space). As you can see, the title opens up a lot of unanswered questions, which is where I like to be when I’m writing songs. Yes, “The Fall” could refer to humanity’s fall from Earthly grace, and it could be a reference to Camus, or what happens to the body when it’s released from zero gravity. Until more information comes to light, everyone’s guess is as good as mine.

Exray's Jason Kick, from Vessel XII.
Exray’s Jason Kick, from Vessel XII.

What sort of spatial algorithms have you discovered by venturing into the deep ambient ether?

I think I can speak for everyone at Exray’s when I say that we’re better with algorhythms than algorithms. Bad jokes aside, Astrid handles the math and we handle the audio. Both are necessary. As NASA has recently disclosed, celestial bodies emit distinctive sound frequencies that the Vessel XII logbook refers to as ‘sonic signatures.’ Without going into detail, the logbook describes quantum leaps in Vessel XII’s navigational abilities as their mastery of interpreting sonic signatures increased.

NASA Space Sounds:

What’s next for Exray’s and the Vessel XII project? Any declassified findings you can share from your forthcoming adventures?

After many years of working in secret, Astrid plans to release all of the logbook entries at the Vessel XII residency at the de Young museum in April of 2015. She is very thorough. The next few months will be spent cross-checking all of the research and making sure she hasn’t missed anything. You have to understand that there will be hoards of skeptics and a small number of believers who will probably be insane. This places a lot of pressure on Astrid, but I think she’s finally ready to present her case, which has the ability to change the way we think about our future and the choices that lie ahead.

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Exray’s will release three albums of Vessel XII-inspired music. The_Dome is a sampler that includes pieces from each of these records. Beyond that, we are spending a lot of time figuring out how screen the actual broadcasts at the de Young, create physical replicas of the tools and objects described in the logbook entries, and inviting some worldwide experts to come and share their theories. We hope that this approach will garner more support for Vessel XII research and make Exray’s a contender for the Nobel audio prize.

Exray’s The_Dome is available now on 12 limited edition cassettes, via Bandcamp, with a free download of the EP available from Howells Transmitter.


Friend Roulette release new song, video, with live photographs from David Benson.
Friend Roulette release new song, video, with live photographs from David Benson.

Following up the release lineage that has given us Grow Younger, and I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head; Friend Roulette give us the video for; “Just Woke Up (Fucked Up)”. The legendary story about Matthew Meade’s traumatic experience of being hit by a car turned into the chance to group together the tight collective of, Julia Tepper, John Stanesco, Tlacael Esparza, Kyle Olson, and Nate Allen where there is no telling what fantasias are in store for you ears, mind, and body.

The video for “I Woke Up (Fucked Up)” gathers up hosts of vintage ads and film footage that is edited together to contribute further to the euphoria of Friend Roulette’s heady song. Images of space, shapes, triangles, carnivals, candy, animals, split-mirror images, and more all collect together to make the ultimate trip. The vintage views are edited in rapid fast collage editing that will satisfy all with ADHD related cognitive issues of perceptive, and will also induce an attention deficit disorder in all who enter the Friend Roulette looking glass. The events and excitement of all the great night befores are brought together like a series of stitched together scenes, and images that rapid flash before the mind in the re-collective reckoning that pieces together the chronology of events that contribute to our greatest hung over states.

Friend Roulette – Fucked Up from The Urchins on Vimeo.

Tell us about what the new recordings have been like for you all.

They were really fun because we worked on them with friends/musicians in bands we like and play with rather than a single producer. Julian & Carlos from Ava Luna recoded us at silent barn & Sam Owens from celestial shore is mixing it now.

How do you feel the band has grown in recent days, weeks, months and years?

Kyle (drums) Nate (bass)and Hot Juan (ewi) all have really long hair these days. Julia is writing a lot more of the lyrics now. Tlacael just started his own company, revolutionizing live electronic drums, replacing the electro drum pads that most drummers use now for something more natural to a drummer. It’s called Sensory Percussion check it out. Musically, well, you can hear it changing if ya listen. I guess we’re getting more simple.

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What are some of the stories that informed the single, “Fucked Up”?

Let’s just say it’s about partying too hard and the lingering feeling that comes with it. Waking up being perplexed and in pain from the night before.

I like how you all sonically create the a kind of onset of a narcotic effect. How did you all go about creating these designs of discombobulating effects?

We definitely did go for that on this track. The effects on the guitar and synths were definitely meant to be over the top. The song changes drastically every 10 seconds until the end when the same lyrics are repeated 20 times.

How was the vintage film found and edited for the music video?
A statement from Steph Gould & Jordan Doig, the directors of the video:

We searched through a lot of collections of archival footage, including old films, home movies and commercials, to find moments that we felt complemented the music. In particular we wanted to find imagery that felt a little bit twisted or disturbing. The result is a compilation of all these strange expressions and motions, that we hope follow and accompany this bewildering and hallucinatory voyage.

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What are you all excited about this Fall?

Were playing a show November 13 with our favorite band from Atlanta, Del Venicci, at Shea stadium. But we’re really excited to play at art Basel this December in Miami. We will be touring down & back from the 2nd – 12th & playing in all our favorite east coast spots. What up Richmond!?!

Other artists that you all have recently discovered?

Listen to my new favorite band, Haybaby! Also, if you haven’t heard Tiny Hazard yet, they are like a way better version of us. They’re doing half the tour with us in December.

Future Friend Roulette releases in the works?

The new album will hopefully be out in March. It’s called I. See You. Your Eyes Are Red. Beyond that, we’re about to start recording a new album of our friend, Matt Sheffer’s music. He’s been one of our biggest influences. He wrote all these songs we love but were never released or recorded properly, so we’re doing it for him. His songs are too beautiful for you not to hear them.


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Brooklyn band of friends Backwords debut their video for “I’m Not Lying (Shilly Shally version)” directed by Craig Webster at a DIY venue space in Bushwick. From their recent album, Nest, available now from Campers’ Rule Records; Backwords present the tightness of their family band style bond in a free and endearing manner that only bands that have been through it all together can posses.

Webster’s video for “I’m Not Lying (Shilly Shally version)” mixes rooftop pleasure with performance footage that makes the entire city of NYC seem like one big, little global village. What looks like a group of team building and bonding exercises finds the bands dressing up, dressing down, holding hands, bursting water balloons, slow dancing with each other — and all the things that strengthen the collective through group therapy/group love done naturally. There is a real raw, and underlying passion on “I’m Not Lying”, where Backwords exhibits an emotional honesty that shows the band committed to each other, themselves, working together in the name of a truth and beauty that is beyond the pretensions of ironic posing. Craig’s presentation of the free-spirited band also captures the connective intimacy between the group, where the lines and differences between family and friends become indistinguishable.

Backwords also wrote us this exclusive massive, and magnificent manifesto. Read it here in full:

We originally started writing batches of songs for the Nest album over two years ago. At that time, we were coming off two straight years of DIY touring — living out of our van, sleeping at campsites, rest stops or on strangers’ floors. Eating peanut butter or cans of beans and the like. We came to the conclusion that touring in this way, while fun and always exciting, was not a fruitful or sustainable path for the band if we wanted to keep things going in the long run. It was spiritually rewarding to be meeting so many artists and forward thinking communities around the country, but we’d inevitably end up shooting ourselves in the foot financially, breaking even on a three month stint if we were lucky, only to come home to Brooklyn with rent and bills piling up and personal commitments neglected.

At that point, Backwords had been a thing for a good 5 years. We had already released 4 records. we had done the touring like I mentioned. We did whole CMJ and SXSW thing several times over. We were playing great sold out slots at great venues here in NYC, sometimes even opening for bands we grew up listening to, but all told – we weren’t sure how to keep the ball rolling forward.

It started coming to a point where we were thinking, maybe we should just end this — kind of a ‘this is how far we were able to take it, but time to give it a rest.’ Some of us were getting married, some of us were having babies, and we were all pretty much flat broke by this point. But at the same time there was this batch of songs we were playing live. New songs with a bit of a new direction and larger rock and roll ambition to them. We had been writing and recording songs for five years, but something about this new batch felt different, like we tapped into a collective artistic vision we had never explored before. So we all kind of felt that this new batch of songs was too good to let go by the wayside. So in kind of a last ditch effort to save the band, or keep things rolling forward in a positive way, we put all of our mental and spiritual energy into recording what would hopefully be one last, great album. Something that could hopefully stand the test of time — something that represented the old Backwords of five to six years ago (with our roots in folk, psyche, and pop) but also something new for us, a more focused sense of intensity with maybe just a more rambunctious, carefree rock and roll undercurrent.

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In the past, we recorded things slowly over months in the privacy of our own lo-fi, low-budget home-studio. For Nest, we went to a proper recording studio for the first time which was in this large warehouse space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. We set up shop and spent one hot August week camped out, doing take after take around the clock, looking to capture the spirit of the songs live, with room mics all over, allowing for bleed in, and just capturing the essence of what these new songs were about.

“I’m Not Lying” was written by our bassist, Tim Pioppo. Always being big fans of Motown, we wanted to give the song a Phil Spector feel not just in the bass line and the drum beat, but in the vibe of the recording as well. We worked hard to achieve an almost retro, mono feel to the mix, with natural reverbs coming in from different mics in the warehouse, and then brought in some horn player friends of ours, to close out the song.

The video came about when a good friend of ours, the wonderfully talented filmmaker, Craig Webster, expressed some interest in working with the band on a video. We basically gave him the album and said, pick whichever song you’d like to work with, and the concept is all yours as well — we loved his work so much that we wanted to make sure he had totally free creative reign over the whole thing.

Craig gravitated toward “I’m Not Lying” and knew from the get-go that he wanted to work on a video for this song. He brainstormed concept after concept, and at one point we even sat down and watched our favorite music videos of all time together, spending practically a whole afternoon on YouTube from David Bowie to NWA to Dan Deacon to the Boss himself, Mr. Bruce Springsteen.

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In the end, the “I’m Not Lying” video came together kind of organically and did not really follow any of the concepts Craig had originally brainstormed. But in a strange way it ended up very much being a Backwords music video. We made a couple music videos in the past where the band is on some wacky adventure. For the song “Center of the Earth” we’re on this Wizard of Oz like journey through Prospect Park. For “And Then Sigh” we became medieval warriors aka — we joined a LARPING club in Prospect Park. This time around, it’s another silly, but endearing adventure going up to the rooftop, getting naked or putting on a weird costume, slow dancing awkwardly like a middle schooler, having a water balloon fight like a bunch of idiot kids, and getting a little emotional as the sun goes down.

We filmed it at the DIY venue space where Tim lives in Bushwick, a space and stage that has a lot of meaning for us — we once did a cover of the entire Neil Young album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere on that stage. And the roof scenes were filmed on the roof of that building as well. A lot of great people live there creating music, art, and developing or running their own venues and spaces around the city for art to happen in a real meaningful way, not the trust-fund-pseudo-hipster way that you are seeing all over the city now. So good things happen in and around that building.

All told whatever happens to Backwords, the people in it are lifelong friends. That doesn’t happen too often with bands I think, where A; you’ve stuck around for over seven, eight years but B; you’re still all really close friends with each other. We’ve been through it all together as a group, and it’s been said a million times, but being in a band is like being in a marriage. Somehow this one is still lasting — probably because we’re like brothers and sisters now. Hopefully a little of that feeling comes across in the video. As much as we tried for other concepts — the band being who we are seems to stand out the most — for whatever that’s worth.

Backwords’ Nest is available now from Campers’ Rule Records.


empty moon week in pop

Empty Moon is Lawrence, Kansas by Oakland, California’s Brendan Hangauer who debuts the holistic epistolary hymn, “Dear Life”. Leaving behind his Midwest band Fourth Of July after a decade and three albums for a new life and a new operating moniker — Brendan worked with Papercuts frontman and Bay Area recording hero to record his first proper solo album, The Shark, available November 4 from High Dive Records. As Empty Moon, Hangauer observes the changes, growth, ups, downs, and composites of character that work to greater understand the actresses and actors that play their part on the world’s grand theatrical stage.

“Dear Life” tells stories and offers up narratives about the way things shift and change over night. You can hear the strummed routes from Lawrence to Oakland where narratives of exhausted, burned out, and blown out chancers have their dicey gambles, and bets of uncertainty heralded in song. The song rises in different stages, initiated by the Brendan’s howl of, “down in the gutter”, ghost chases “in the graveyard in yourself,” to the lyrical human epilogue where “old lovers become, worried mothers, and bored to death fathers, but the trees still turn colors baby, bright orange and yellow…” Jason’s guidance allows Hangauer to develop his own arrangements into a larger audio amphitheater, where the scenes slide swiftly by that follow various roads of various characters proceeding on the blocked script plots that make up of a lifetime of experiences. We discussed the inspiration behind these musical illustrations with Brendan, immediately following the debut.

Tell us about your departure from Lawrence, Kansas (which I have always heard has a little indie community of interest), leaving Fourth Of July after three albums and a decade to start your solo project, Empty Moon in Oakland, California.

It was a tough move. Lawrence, Kansas is an amazing place. It was home to me for over 10 years. It has a great music and great people. Leaving Fourth of July was really hard as well. They are all my brothers (literally and from other mothers). I miss them all the time. I just woke up one day and realized I needed a change. My older brother and his family along with my dear friends Adrianne and Alex all we’re living in San Francisco. I always liked visiting and decided to give it a shot. I ended up finding a place in Oakland. I had a burst of inspiration with all the changes I was going through. I met Jason Quever through Dri and recored Empty Moon “The Shark” in his home apartment in Glen Park.

How had your time with Fourth Of July informed your solo work?

I was the sole songwriter in Fourth Of July so it is really just an extension of my songs. I didn’t want to call it Fourth Of July without my band.

How did working with Papercuts’ versatile Jason Quever help to bring out the sparse but evocative spaces and intimate places of Empty Moon?

Working with Jason was by far my favorite recording experience I have ever had. He is an amazing musician with an amazing ear. From day one I trusted him with making my songs sound the best they possibly could.

How did you go about adopting the name Empty Moon for your solo vehicle?

I chose Empty Moon because it is the name of the last Fourth Of July record. I wanted to take a part of Fourth Of July with me into the next chapter of my songs.

Tell us about the fervent epistolary prose and passion of the gorgeous and grandiose single, “Dear Life”?

I have always written very personal songs. Fourth Of July was break-up/relationship driven. With Empty Moon I wanted to branch out with my lyrics and my subject matter. In “Dear Life” I am telling stories within stories. Maybe it’s about five separate situations/people but it is put into one story line. I used this looser style of writing a lot on this album.

The latest and greatest from the Oakland sector of scenes?

Honestly, I have no idea. I am excited to have this album drop and get very involved in the Oakland music scene.

Best kept East Bay indie secrets that the world is just discovering, or hasn’t discovered yet?

Chilling at Lake Merritt!

Give us some notes on how the process of recording The Shark has been for you.

We recorded on the weekends for about 6 weeks. I had to take BART to Glen Park which is about an hour away from my place in Oakland. We worked very quickly. Jason and I realized we were on the same page right away. It was so productive. Like I said, it was the best recording experience I’ve ever had.

What is next for you after the release of The Shark, winter plans, projections and goals for 2015?

I have this idea of having a different band in all the major regions of the United States. That way I could just fly in and tour that region. I have booked a Midwest tour for November and have a great band lined up. I am looking forward to playing all of these songs live. I just want to get my music out there. Touring Europe has always been a goal of mine.

Empty Moon’s album The Shark will be available November 4 from High Dive Records.


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Getting their EP The Dogs ready for December 9, and just in time for x-mas; — ATL’s Lowbanks kick out the premiere of their fun and frantic jam, “Sleep for Days”. Working with producer Trey Rosenkampff of Chief Scout an Concord America notability; the hell rallying three piece of vocalist/electric-axe-wielder John Graffo, drummer Grey Duddleston, and bassist Christian Self make a run to the pound kennels and release the hounds into the sleepless, moonlight night.

The kind of garage rock antics that Lowbanks deal in is not your standard, predictable grunge and grit. John manages his vocals from the manic verses to the loud wailing chorus calls, as chord timings and arrangements shift and strike when you least expect them to. Not content to be fitted into any neat order, the first two minutes rocks like a dizzying performances at a DIY Atlanta venue, before the band completely transforms the song at the halfway mark into a surface dredging doom guitar section that sends the song down the river like a viking funeral. Lowbanks keep the energy at a maximum high, forsaking the pigeonhole standard rules of conformity for the Southern comfort of one of the most addict, yet blissfully erratic sounds you might hear all winter. After the debut of “Sleep For Days”, join us for our roundtable discussion with Lowbanks’ John, Grey, and Christian.

First off, before you even got to the production stages with Trey Rosenkampff; how many noise complaints & neighbors calling the cops did you get during the rehearsal session for The Dogs EP?

Christian “Selfish” Self: Just one actually!

John Graffo: Yeah, when we were writing the record, we played at the house Grey was living in at the time and his neighbors were actually pretty chill about us playing loud as hell all the time. We had a couple weird experiences though—one time some homeless dude was walking by the house and heard us playing and starting banging on the window to our practice space. We thought he was pissed, but he ended up just yelling at us for a while about how he wanted to play harmonica in our band.

Grey Duddleston: The only time we had the cops show was on, like, a Sunday afternoon and the cops ended up defending us and yelling at the neighbors for wasting their time, so that was pretty rad!

What possessed the three of you to make a pack of dogs your spirit animal on this wild EP?

John: I wrote “The Dogs” about this horrifying dream I had where I was being chased by a bunch of cops and they set these rabid hounds out after me, chasing me down and trying to rip me apart. I really liked the image of something so commonplace and innocent like dogs being able to manifest as this maniacal embodiment of fear, so I pitched it as the EP title and the guys were down with it.

Everyone talks about your live shows… how the hell did you manage to get that live chaotic wild-card element in the recording? How much did Trey help in this matter, either by reigning things in, or keeping it loose? Regardless, it’s loud, it’s reckless, and yet still super tight.

John: Thanks. We pretty much just spent a week in this studio our friend David Shepherd built, living off of coffee and booze and just messing around with our songs, trying different things to retain the energy we thrive on in a live setting. Plus, working with people we trust and that we’re friends with really helped.

Selfish: Yeah, working with Trey and Shepherd brought a lot to this record—definitely kept it loose and fun. We’d go lay down our parts and then Trey would come in with this big grin on his face like, “I’m gonna make this sound insane.” So it was definitely collaborative, but those guys really helped make everything sound exactly how we wanted.

What kind of Rip Van Winkle exhaustion contributed to the single “Sleep For Days?”

John: I spent a lot of nights crashing on Grey’s old couch. One of his roommates has the most bizarre sleeping patterns of anyone I’ve ever met. So I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep, and I started feeling like I was losing it, so I wrote “Sleep For Days” about the delirium and just overall mental strain after a few weeks of exhaustion.

Selfish: Yeah, our friend Mark is my favorite guy, but he’s successfully ruined all of our sleeping patterns.

There’s that drop in the final third of the song with what I am calling the ‘dirge of doom.’ Where the hell did this idea come from?

Grey: The whole record is pretty fast, so we wanted to do something that contrasted that a bit.

John: When I was first writing “Sleep For Days,” I didn’t really know how I wanted to end it, but when we were jamming together, and we just all sort of collectively were like, “oh shit, let’s make the end sound terrifying!” Then when we recorded, Trey helped us layer all these weird textures on top of everything that made it sound super sludgy and heavy.

Grey: Sludge city!

Give us the ATL report – who are your favorite ATL indie artists and groups that no one is repping yet?

John: Lets see—Concord America, Turf War, Chief Scout.

Selfish: Places To Hide, Man Up Yancey, and Houdinne.

Grey: Hello Ocho and Bodyfather!

What are the next big moves for Lowbanks?

John: Right now I’m working on planning a couple tours for next year around the Southeast and hopefully up the East Coast if all goes well. I’d love to make it out West, too. We are already deep into writing our next record, so hopefully we’ll be headed back into the studio between tours.

Selfish: Yeah, we’re just trying to hit the road and put out another record!

Grey: Starting a cult!

John: Yeah, come drink our Kool-Aid!

Lowbanks’ The Dogs will be available December 9 via Bandcamp.


Seattle by LA's Shotty.
Seattle by LA’s Shotty.

Seattle by LA Shotty have cut their chops at the EMP Sound Off! battle of the bands, working with Martin Feveyear, Johnny Sangster, and now prepping an EP series with producer Norm Block coming soon late 2014/2015. Premiering their music video for “I’m Glad It’s Over” Pat Moon, and Miles Frank tear through the claustrophobic repetitive boredom with minimalist chops that are doubled upon amplification of delivery. Cooped up in a performance space, the self-made video is a stir-crazy vacay with interspliced images of 16-bit boredom killers to entertain the idle time motif.

Seattle by LA Shotty have cut their chops at the EMP Sound Off! battle of the bands, working with Martin Feveyear, Johnny Sangster, and now prepping an EP series with producer Norm Block coming soon late 2014/2015. Pat Moon, and Miles Frank tear through the claustrophobic repetitive boredom with minimalist chops that are doubled upon amplification of delivery. Cooped up in a performance space, the self-made video is a stir-crazy vacay with interspersed images of 16-bit boredom killers to entertain the idle time motif. Edited in between Pat and Miles bouncing about the room, dancing on the drum kit, and anywhere they can; prepare for a seizure attack inducing flash of game play shots from 90s video game titles like, Captain America and The Avengers, Echo the Dolphin, Taz Escape from Mars, Garfield, Jurassic Park, Legend of Zelda, Lion King, Midway Arcade Treasures, Mortal Kombat, Pac Man 2, Shaq Fu, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, X Men, X Men 2, Zelda 2: Adventures of Link, and a few more we’re forgetting. Shotty stir up their own type of no-wave, utilizing an economy of their own tools to make their own kind of noise to break the boredom doldrums.

Shotty’s Pat Moon wrote us a manifesto on idle time, their music, 16-bit video game escapism, and the making of the song and video:

Whoa dude, I am so excited to be done writing this manifesto about our music video. Man, it’s gotta be interesting, and witty, and articulate, and colorful. And I’m definately not going to spell any words wrong.

Nope. This is starting to sound an awful lot like adulthood. Me and adulthood don’t get along. Seriously, I tried it and it didn’t work out. I just decided to go back to childhood. It’s been a lot easier. I get to throw tantrums and invent my own logic. That’s kinda what I wrote “I’m Glad It’s Over” about. Reality? I gave it a shot, we didn’t see eye-to-eye, now it’s over between us. And ya know what? I’m glad. I wanted to write a song around a single hooky riff and catchy reverbed-out vocal melody, a song that turns a twisted topic into a strange sort of boring time-stand-still nostalgia sing-along pop mega hit. Then I changed my mind and wrote ‘I’m Glad It’s Over’ instead. I like it better this way.

shotty week in pop 2

Then it was time to make a music video, and the band went into soul-searching mode. We met with a few video producers we didn’t vibe with to talk about making music videos that we didn’t really care about. We fired them all and began looking around the house for inspiration. Throughout our brainstorming sessions, my massive video game collection sat in the corner of the room, beckoning to us. Then we had the most genius, most lazy, most free, most perfect idea ever. And we made the music video we’ve always wanted to make.

We used a high tech new technique called “pointing an iPhone at a TV” to capture all the Sega Genesis footage. The live footage came from locking ourselves in our practice space with lots of toys and coffee. The whole video sprang forth naturally from our love of video games, cartoons, and carefree oblivious idealistic irreverent childhood sparkle-angst. Yeah, we could have made a music video trying to impress people. Instead, we followed our 16-bit hearts and decided to make a video that we knew at least two people would like. And it worked.

The song was originally written about rebelling against adulthood. Then it became a celebration of childish freedom. Maybe it’s not actually that deep, and it’s just a couple weirdos rocking out with their favorite video games. You should watch it yourself and tell us what you think.

Bed time. No more writing. This manifesto is done. I’m glad it’s over.


Buscabulla's Raquel Berrios, photographed by Zach Lewis.
Buscabulla’s Raquel Berrios, photographed by Zach Lewis.

From their Kitsuné self-titled EP produced by Dev Hynes; Buscabulla released their Alan Del Rio Ortiz video for, “Caer”. Frontwoman Raquel Berrios takes to the centered stage, commanding a world music fervor that mixes the South American sounds with the mood of Puerto Rico, with the Brooklyn by way of Dev Hynes school of pop experimentation as expression mode of design. Raquel herself has studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she takes to the video’s modern mix of twentieth century pop art with an eye sparkling hint toward the luxury line of audio leisure textures from the doors of tomorrow. Immediately following the viewing of the video, join us for our interview with Raquel Berrios:

What is the key in fashioning the diverse sounds brought from Puerto Rico into the Brooklyn textures of audio terrain?

The key? Perhaps a good collection of Latin vinyl as reference. As well as a sense of wanting to always have a balance between what comes from home (Caribbean culture) but still be revelant with where is our current residence. I think singing in Spanish is key as well.

What was it like working with Dev Hynes on the EP? How did he impact the recording and creative process?

His process is very organic and almost minimalistic. And fast! He let us be us, but added his touch. He played amazing guitar on most tracks and put dashes here and there throughout. He was a great mentor in knowing what to add and what to take off.

How did Buscabulla first begin?

It kind of started with me sampling records at home on garage band and making crazy demos. After I met Luis we were able to take those experiments to the next level. Then one day someone invited us to play a small show and it pushed us into really taking the project seriously.

Carrying a design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, along with being a new mother; how do all these things together inspire your arts from design, to music?

Ahh well. Risd is a cool yet expensive school ha ha. Still people that go there are mad talented! I think the design process even from back in architecture school on PR influences my work, working with context, balance and other elements of design. Being a new mom also makes you a mad hustler! So I’m going for it, baby in arms! Ha ha.

Raquel Berrios, photographed by Zach Lewis.
Raquel Berrios, photographed by Zach Lewis.

Tell us about the making of the glamorous, b/w video from Alan Del Rio Ortiz….it reminds me of vintage South American Franco pop found in the future in a film can time capsule of reels.

Alan just sat down with us to brainstorm and we just had a lot of crazy weird ideas. The filming and editing was a collaborative process of trial and error with beautiful cinematography. Alan being the dashful ringleader with the good eye.

Having released your self-titled on the fashionable Kitsuné imprint; what is next for Buscabulla?

Not sure yet, perhaps a second EP. We are working on a cover and some collaborations as well as a new video. Lining up some cool shows.

Favorite Puerto Rico artists that the world needs to hear that hasn’t yet outside of PR?

Jean Nada!

The Buscabulla EP is available now from Kitsuné.


vogue dots week in pop 2

Halifax duo Vogue Dots follow up their CSCN single “Way Out” with the Indica Records release of the Mauka EP via Indica Records. Having caught up with duo upon release of the single, we continue our conversations with Babette and Tynan to further explore the synergy from time spent in Belle Isle that contributed to the textures of their music that shimmer like the most prized textile fabric cuts. ”

“Way With Silence” walks you into what sounds like the opening to a full album affair, as Babette breaks the glasses that contain silence for big bandstand performance theatrics. “Tux” balances the bombast of the opener with a tuxedo dressed occasion that imagines elaborate fancy parties at lofty mansions tucked away in the recess of hills and far off mountains. And while you think you are accustomed to the pop schemes that Vogue Dots are dealing with, they turn the card tables over on “Jealous Arts” that envisions the beautiful sounding form of skip-tripping drum sequences and echoes that fashion themselves in with the arrangements of the more abstract—but cohesive effects. And then that’s when they hit you with it; the big number “Way Out” that aims all creative contributions into one large canon that ignites into the endless stretches of infinity right when you least expect. As you ponder what the upcoming Vogue Dots might entail, Babette and Tynan discuss things further in an interview following the EP stream.

First take us back to Belle Isle, and describe how that synergistic spark first became ignited to create Vogue Dots.

We initially started making music together by sending mp3’s via e-mail which turned into sharing Logic sessions as we were living in different provinces. After about 6 months we convened in Belle Isle (Spring 2013) to bring the songs we already had to fruition and start new demos. It felt really natural coming up with song/production ideas together – when we weren’t recording, we spent a lot of time listening to different records and sharing influences. Basically we had no distractions (being in such a rural place) so it was a really relaxed, productive and introspective few weeks.

Talk to us about the jump from Toska to Mauka, and what further developed with your connective chemistry.

When we started recording in Belle Isle, we were experimenting with a variety of elements – trying to reach an aesthetic we both liked and as a result of that we had a pile of songs with different moods and themes. Both EP’s are a bit subdued and melancholic so it made sense to release them as siblings – the songs on Toska are a little more playful while Mauka has more aggression and assertion to it.

Everyone between Montreal and Toronto are doing amazing things in the independent fields. What are some of the latest and greatest new artists and events that you have recently discovered?

When we were in Montreal this summer we saw Doldrums, Majical Cloudz, d’Eon, Watering at the Rialto – the energy in the room was unreal, probably one of the best shows we’ve ever been to. There’s a ton of great new artists we love here- Mozart’s Sister, Year of Glad, Cousins, Petra Glynt and Coco Barracuda to name a few!

vogue dots week in pop 1

What inspired those moodier terrains of this EP, like “Tux”, “Way With Silence”, that you then turn up with the dance-floor-twisting and rule inversions on the new arts of, “Jealous Arts”, and our already beloved single favorite, “Way Out”?

The moodier songs came fluidly – we were both needing a break from our separate lives at that point, so in retrospect those ones might have been a little more cathartic when we were writing them. It wasn’t difficult for us to produce the uptempo ones either – they’re still emotive for us, just more danceable.

What is next for Vogue Dots?

We head back to Belle Isle to record more songs in November, getting ready to put out a full length in early 2015.

Holiday plans for you both?

“Hanging out with farm animals and family in Nova Scotia.” – Babette

“Sleeping.” – Tynan


dissolve week in pop 3

Brian Wakefield from Melted Toys and EMOTIONAL recently started the imprint Death Records, and presents the the video for Dissolve’s “Where We Are”. Wakefield talked with us about the new imprint following the video, where Dissolve drapes the lo-fi dreamscapes into the cosmic corners of the mind.

Death Records label man Brian Wakefield talks about his new label, and the importance of imprints in this modern times:

From out of your work in Melted Toys, what brought you to start Death Records, and what was that ‘aha’ / ‘light bulb’ moment?

Starting a label has always been in the back of my mind. The moment I knew it was happening soon was when I came up with a name / idea and was talking to Rikky (Gnar Tapes n shit/memories/white fang) about it but I didn’t have all the resources. Rikky said I should work with Colin (Arlen, Macaframa) who at the time was about to start putting tapes out as well.

We both looked at each other like “Dang man, I guess Rikky is right.” Then a few weeks later I saw a local band called Smiles that blew me away. I talked to them after the show and traded info and a few weeks later we had their tape in the mail.

Importance of indie labels in this day in age in your opinion?

I am not sure there is any other kind of label that matters anymore. We should enjoy it while it lasts though. because it’s a time of transition culturally, as well as with the record industry. The way the record industry worked was a broken model and doesn’t really exist anymore. For all of us that grew up idolizing what it was to grow up in the 60s or late 70s/80s, to live on the fringe of society, to be true outcasts, is possible now.

Music is a drug – and most can’t get enough, some want it so bad they don’t even mind not paying for it, and that’s perfectly okay. I think most people know the best way to support a band is through direct contact (i.e shows or buying the physical recordings), and while it is vital for independent labels to supply these outlets, it’s also fun and keeps vagrants like us off the streets.

death records week in pop 1

That video for Dissolve you made is great for “Where We Are”, it has a real DIY minimalism that drenches the spaced out dream pop in audio/visual distortions…kind of reminds me of a lot of the dream pop coming out of Saint Marie Records, too. Tell us about the making of the video.

I had the idea of doing something basic because the song is so powerful. I didn’t want anything to try to compete with that. Visually I think Inna and Blaine look cool so I wanted to feature them, most the other videos I directed have a little story but this video is meant to be a visual treat. I had something more conventional planned but on the “Cutting room floor” (iMovie, in my living room). I decided to drop the plot and just to try and make it as visually stimulating as possible.

What’s next for Death Records?

We have two releases coming out this month. Cole Lodge, as well as Dissolve. After that we are putting out a zine/tape compilation combo! Featuring tons of SF artists (Justin Hager, Muzzy, Tika Hall, Jahnny Wobble and many more) as well as tons of local bands / friends like Petty things, TodaysHits, Tiaras, DSTVV, love cop, et cetera. There are also tapes from Cool Angels, Jerry Rogers, and Free Weed coming soon!

Other artists to look out for?

Tiaras, Michael & The Strangeland, Smiles, Silver Shadows,Healing Potpourri, Scraper, Motor Inn, Fleece, Danny James Pear, Cole Lodge, Louie Pain, Brogan Bently, Air Surgeon, Teenage Chain, Kokomo Hum.

Not so local section: Mike Collins/Salvia Plath/Silk Rhodes, Trance Farmers, todayshits, Jimmy Whispers, Street Gnar, Trail Blazer, Dr. Paul.

More fun things in store for Melted Toys that you can share?

Been working on my solo project Emotional with Ole (Melted Toys, Drums), coming out soon via Gnar tapes on cassette and Grabbing Clouds on vinyl!

Bay Area scene report?

The same time it feels like it’s dying here, it also feels like something new is bubbling. The garage rock bands all moved to LA, there’s nowhere to really live here anymore but if you listen close enough there’s still some super tight tunes seeping through the cracks. The best shows in San Francisco are mainly based around the vintage store VACATION. A lot of people feel the techies kinda won — but what can you do about it now? What are we gonna do now? Fuck them, I don’t wanna go anywhere.

Our neighbor, Oakland is thriving at the moment and has becomes its own entity that doesn’t rely on San Francisco at all, it may even be the other way around. I am hoping to wait out the techies, and that a new generation of college drop outs will rise up and spill beer all over this beautiful city once more.

Parting words of wisdom and intrigue?


Dissolve’s tape release show is tomorrow, Saturday 25 at SF’s Vacation, playing with the The Peels. More info via Facebook.



World/Inferno Friendship Society is the dramatiste circus network of derelicts, desperadoes, and an ensemble that totals over 40 lead by the flamboyant eccentric, Jack Terricloth. Premiering “Elegant Solution” off their November 11 slated album, This Packed Funeral for Alternative Tentacles; Terricloth and his band of multidisciplinary musicians (including Geoff Blyth from Dexys Midnight Runners, Black 47) take action on their grouses with a decidedly elegant flair.

Horns pianos and percussion swirl like a cold breeze entering the room, as Jack takes the center stage like a Mephistophelean character of clenched fist frustrations, and anger pointed at ancient orders. The proposal of “Elegant Solution” keeps up the class and trad charm working on over time, covering the brass tinted arts from Eastern Europe, through Spain, and middle east sectors to postulate a self-appointed/self-canonized order of sainthood. Or as Jack explained it to me the other day:

The song starts:

“It must be easy to not worry about anything…”

“No, actually it takes a lot of work.” which is another way of saying “Never mistake composure for ease”. Which is another way of saying “I’ve spent a lot of time and effort into making not giving a fuck into a lifestyle and your constant harping on details and reasons or laws why we can’t do things is really messing with my flow so relax and get in the Goddamned van.” I didn’t get into this to care about fire codes or to consult lawyers- but oh, the things we do for love.

You coming or what?

This Packed Funeral will be available November 11 from Alternative Tentacles


boy kite week in pop 1

Rising again after the recovery of Darvin Jones post-head trauma is Boy + Kite with a listen to their just released EP, Blueprint. The new songs celebrate with a new lease on life on “Either Way”, that basks in the guitar kissed unpredictability of life and time. The inverted look at the world, and appreciating the fragility, brilliance and beauty of life shines bright on “Turned Sideways”, while the closing song “Touching the Sun” makes an Icarus flight afforded by guitar propelled rockets that send sublime sweetness somewhere in the sky; knocking on heaven’s door. Following the listen, Darvin shared some insightful reflections on recovery, an alt rock and roll rebirth via Blueprint, thoughts on new resolves, writing/re-writing life’s road maps, and more in the candid piece following the EP stream.

Is Blue Print an alt rock n roll rebirth?

I was recently asked this question and if I had a new road map and resolve.

Well a very loaded question that I could write an entire book on. Basically, almost facing death, then a horrible divorce, loosing my child, my career, my band and suffering from post traumatic distress disorder as well as post concussion disorder has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. All the shit weighed me down and got me thinking why did I survive, I should have died, I want to die if this is my new reality. Then my resilient, strong-minded ambition kicked in and slapped me in the face. I defied Doctors expectations 100% in my recovery time and healing. After being told I should be bed ridden for 3 months and not active at all for another six was well impossible for someone as wired as me, so I simply said fuck that. Got the band back together, had to literally relearn songs and then write as many news ones in a very short amount of time to be released. We were given a second chance and opportunity came knocking on our door. So we all got to work and it was some serious song writing. I know for a fact the lyrics and orchestration of them was the biggest challenge. I wanted to say it all yet at the same time say nothing at all. I didn’t want to write a sob story or one of hope and happy endings. So, I feel like lyrically all the shit I went through is in there but craftily abstract and subtle, all a bit of a large puzzle but if you fit all the words together it paints a picture of tragedy, betrayal, anger, resentment, loss of hope yet the will to try and make some sense of it all and move forward.


streight angular week in pop 2

Streight Angular continues their multimedia campaign of fun thrills with the video for “Thank You Jesus for Alcohol”. Think old folk spirituals that pay tribute and testimony to something greater, Streight Angular features Keef loitering and carrying open containers about Boston while Al Polk directs the action. The song is a throwback to something that would have been a number one chart busting hit in the days of prohibition, and today lends some co-dependant support of liquid hope for the hopeless. Al described it for us like this:

It was written and recorded on the spot at Squirrel Cafe, a house show in Jamaica Plain. during a Christmas party. Everyone was drunk and singing along and their was a baby in the audience, it was wild. Anyway, the music video is pretty surreal, it follows this Punk dude around the city drinking at various locations. This track may be lo-fi, but it’s as badass as it comes. Think Johnny Cash meets the Violent Femmes.


Boating and bubbles with Carl Creighton, photographed by Alex Aaron.
Boating and bubbles with Carl Creighton, photographed by Alex Aaron.

Leading up to the December 17 release of Carl Creighton’s The World Is A Beautiful Place; Mecca Lecca boss Jonny Leather has started a weekly Wednesday music video campaign for each track off the album up until the release show at Rockwood Music Hall. The minimalist videos are made by Carl’s brother Craig, where we see the arcade toy-claw game of chance visual accompanying the guitar galloping, “Why Cry”. Carl’s sung lyrics of “you just have to try” are cleverly set to the futile frustration of trying to grab that plush joy of your youthful dreams. Carl described the whole thing to us like this:

My brother and I live on opposite sides of the country, but we meet in the middle in Minnesota to visit our mom about twice a year. And when that happens, we get up to a lot of high shenanigans. Like capturing the beautiful subtleties of American life with my brother’s HD camera. We’ll be releasing a video and song every Wednesday from my album The World is a Beautiful Place until the release date on December 17. It’s an invitation for people to take a moment and reflect on things they might not usually have time for.


silk rhodes week in pop 1

Silk Rhodes’ debut self-titled album for Stones Throw will be available December 2, and we have the video from the duo of producer Michael Collins and vocalist Sasha Desree spilling out their cool Casanova on, “Pains”. It’s that ‘please don’t go’ kind of emotive expression that is lost on the anger addled aggression era of break-up fare. It’s the pain that dwells inside someone after the break while basking in the sensational simulation and retelling of unfolding dramas and the kind of crooner pop ripped off from the styles of top shelf soap opera. Sasha joins us immediately following the video for an exclusive interview offering insights on their notorious mobile car-studio, Stones Throw album, and more.

Describe for us the genius of this urban legend about your ’97 CRV transformed into a recording studio.

While the first incarnation of the mobile studio involved a black light and a bunch of gear. The car setup was usually pretty simple, always included at least a microphone with a looper and vocal processor. It was a way of leveling the playing field so we could invite anyone into the car and instantly make music.

Sometimes we would drive around for hours making up love songs for people in the street — the car stereo made everything sound like a classic. We’ve done it in multiple cities with countless people.

How did this formative beginning lead to an album for Stones Throw?

Mike’s project Run DMT Had a song on a Leaving Records/Stones Throw compilation which got their attention. At the time we also were doing a song poem project — people sent in lyrics and we recorded songs for them —one of the songs from that catalog became Peanut Butter Wolf’s favorite tracks so he asked us to make a record for Stones Throw.

How has that car stereo-studio-trickery impacted what you all still do today?
We still do the car studio thing whenever we get the chance. Its the kind of thing that reminds you that you can make anything you want to; anything you can hear. On the car stereo the more minimal the songs were, the better they sounded- that definitely was on our minds making this record.

Like the clever word play of the name, what is it about this sort of deep web hedonism that has given us everything from nefarious global sales markets of the underworld to uh, announcing the new Aphex Twin album that captured both your intrigues?

I wouldn’t say it’s only the hedonism were interested in — We are both interested in the future of expression, the beauty, and increasing necessity to be able to be anonymous, and the importance of psychedelics. We love the world so much, and we want to have fun everyday we are alive.

What is it about the allure of discovering…

When the message of a song is clear and candid, and the delivery is earnest — no matter the production value it is — thing of beauty. But oftentimes the more lo-fi soul recordings are the best feeling, and our favorite funk and boogie tracks are the ones that have little imperfections — they’re just more personal. So much amazing music has been made, there are so many gems to uncover.

What are both of you listening to right now?

We are listening to a lot of Italian film music and 90’s/early 2000s rnb. Shai, Donell Jones and Piero Umiliani. Proud to release music at the same time as Mndsgn AND Knxwledge on Stones Throw — they are both amazing. Look out for more great music!

Post release holiday plans for Silk Rhodes?

We are always making new music — and will continue doing so all through the winter — keep an eye out for more videos and for Silk Rhodes playing live in a theater near you.

Silk Rhodes’ debut self-titled album will be available December 2 from Stones Throw Records.

Take a look at the Paul Demont video for, “The Set”, that kicks it old school, deluxe boombox style with AXEL F. (super duo comprised of J. Rocc and MED) off the Theme Music album available November 25 from Bang Ya Head Entertainment. Rocc switches from the decks to the mic, kicking it around town slinging some of that old boom bap with some newer jack currency.

UK trio White Royal released their “Notice” single from the EP of the same name available October 28 from Brooklyn by LA imprint, Color Station. Josh Hobson, Thomas Balmforth and Jonty Brown open up the electronic skies to provide indicators toward other alternate feelings, and places that exist in the lesser sung corners that loom in the mouse holes in the margins.

Following up their Morality Cuts EP, Honduras ask you to use your own clever “Illusion” on this delusion buster off their upcoming Break EP for Black Bell ADA. Patrick Phillips brings a hefty load of enlightened efforts to break through the veils and obfuscating hanging vines from the games and confused weirdness of a rioting world forever in some sort of revolt or another.

Because as if “Put Your Number in My Phone” hadn’t got us all giddy and unsettled already; more fun from the lo-fi/no-fi/new-fi king Ariel Pink returns with more strange sensations via, “Black Ballerina”, off the upcoming album, pom pom available November 11 from 4AD.

Watch out as our friend Al Lover provides a whole new spinning drum tripping remix for Elephant Stone’s “Echo & The Machine”, off The Three Poisons. The song dissolves into mantras sang in sustains like monks in a prayer chant, as the beat cuts in before sending the entire affair melting back down into the earth like a genie returning to the vessel confines of it’s abode.

Listen as Picture covers “Uncover” from Zara Larsson. Malmö, Sweden artist David Kyhlberg restructured dance music for us with the True EP a few years back for Cascine, and continues to experiment with taming the electronic embers from his synth creations that rise like morning fog from the earth’s cool surface.

Chicago’s Mister Suit polished up some oldies but goodies with the re-produced cuts that appear on the digitally released, Old Ones. Request to let the good memories roll linger onward on the plod and clap mechanical drum beat of “Remember Me Last”, full of forget me-nots that build off cues from early 70s styled singles. “Got To Be” is chock full of that electrical buzz that is found on much of today’s Mister Suit cuts that zaps full of life that expresses a fullness of being, extoling the genuine article of being, and embracing the very essence of the moment.

Off their collaborative 8LP from Moon Glyph, Halasan Bazar and Tara King th. first released the song, “Rot Inside” on the pages of Impose, and now give us the video for “Rot Inside”. The collaboration between the two alt-avant artist institutions are seen through the intimate lens from footage taken by Sebastien Tixier, edited by Lomostatic.

Stockholm’s Korallreven make time stop for a moment in infinity where things can electronically be experienced as timeless on, “Limitless”. From their upcoming album, Second Comin’ available November 4 from Cascine, they keep the club beats polite, and finely dressed a glimmering haze that surrounds the intriguing auras of the evening’s beckoning advances.

From Øreåsen, Norway; Beezewax lends an advance listen to their upcoming album,Tomorrow, available October 27. Touring through December 12, enjoy the self-help suggestion pop sweetness of “Hazzard”, the trans-Euro night drive of “In The Dark”, that pass through the various cycles of dream stages that lead to the infinite ever-after pastures of, “Forever”.

ATL supergroup Barreracudas (featuring memebers from Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Beat, Beat Beat and The Hiss) lent a listen to their upcoming Promises, Promises 7″ available October 28 from Oops Baby Records. The a-side of “Promises” drops that pre-punk super-70s sentiment of keeping the power intact in romantic racetrack pop intact, while the “nothing to lose” piano-pounding b-side of “Young and Dumb” keeps the stakes high, the opportunities endless, and the future doors left wide open.

Following up Let the Good Times Die, Betrayers dropped the video for their upcoming January 2015 slated single, “Love Rat”, from Mack Lamoureux, T. Salty, Fish Griwkowsky, and Evan Who—just in time for Halloween. Things get strange when a rat-looking DJ takes the controls, and the dwellers of the night drape themselves in drenched distortion and the memories of all those they have left behind and who have come before.

Check out the two part documentary on Underworld’s dubnobasswithmyheadman album after 20 years that features interviews and reflections with Rick Smith and Karl Hyde, as they ready present their classic live at Royal Festival Hall in 2014.

Check out part two of the Underworld doc here.

For those interested in some words from the Toronto noise frontlines, check out Dead Beat Productions’ mini-documentary, Untold Noise that features indie fun favorites like HSY, Soupcans, Thighs, insider looks at imprints like Wavelength, Weird Canada, Buzz Records, Pleasence Records, and lots of live, and glorious, blissful noise.


exrays week in pop 5

Hot off the heels of The_Dome, announcement of the upcoming “Vessel XII” exhbit at SF’s de Young Museum in April of 2015, and our recent informative interview; we now hand the reins over to Exray’s Jon Bernson for his Week in Pop co-curation:

William S. Burroughs, “Dead City Radio”

Most science fiction and speculative fiction lacks humor. Not here. Not him.

Carl Sagan, “Space Colonization”

No one can articulate why exploring space is meaningful and worthwhile like Carl Sagan.

Sponsored By Nobody, “Behind The Bullseye”

“Behind the Bullseye”; innovative theater from Kevin Doyle’s Brooklyn-based theater company, Sponsored By Nobody.

Best Nasa UFO Footage Ever.

As the title proclaims, this is the best NASA UFO footage ever.

The original ‘Solaris.’ Say no more.

Andrej Tarkovskij’s Solaris (full levitation scene)

Exray’s The_Dome is available on 12 limited edition cassettes, via Bandcamp, with a free download of the EP available from Howells Transmitter.

Keep up with Exray’s on the Exray’s XII website.