Posts Tagged ‘California’

“dirt” is the latest EP from Hand Habits, the song writing project of Meg Duffy. Sometime guitarist with Kevin Morby

Comprised of two songs, “4th of July,” a simmering swell of chaos and beauty and “I Believe in You,” a favourite of Duffy’s from the Neil Young canon, the EP finds the songwriter exploring themes of growth and finding ways to let go of the parts of their past that no longer serve them.

After cutting their teeth in the upstate New York d.i.y. music scene and several years of session and touring guitar work for Kevin Morby, and a long list of other artists, Duffy released their debut album “Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)”, a home-recorded, self-produced work that announced the project as a full-time affair.

While their follow-up album “placeholder” saw them working with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studios and garnering praise from such outlets as NPR which called the work “their most fully realized statement” and the Los Angeles Times which praised the work as a “virtually seamless country rock album, with verses moving fluidly into choruses that travel unimpeded across sparkling, architecturally sophisticated bridges.” dirt showcases an artist returning to the fertile creative ground of their home.

However, this time around home-recording didn’t necessarily mean working in isolation. Duffy had relocated to a shared living situation in Los Angeles with musicians Sasami Ashworh and Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), which also housed Thomas’ studio. The resulting songs showcase this creatively collaborative environment, with Ashworh co-producing the lead single and Thomas co-producing “I Believe in You.” Such is the strength of this relationship, in fact, that this new single just may serve as a bridge toward a greater body of work the three will ultimately create together.


The resulting EP illuminates the songwriter’s attempts to evolve beyond the confines of their past. As they put it, “‘4th of july’ feels like trying again, rolling around in the wreckage of the past and finding new ways out of the maze of memory.”

The sonic texture of the song complements this lyrical journey, with a simple and sparse introduction marked by a slow burn crescendo hinting at the rupture to come, followed by an ecstatic wail of transcendent emotion. Fittingly, it concludes with a reprise of the beginning but this time altered by new sounds, suggesting a new perspective.

Similarly, Duffy breathes new life into the Young staple, adding a foreboding weight and impact to the long-familiar words. For Duffy, the process of recording and the song’s themes of growth through trust dovetailed perfectly.

As they note, “There’s a foundation, and when there’s a foundation there’s opportunity to reimagine structures; physical and otherwise.”

Also check out this Session Meg Duffy performed for “Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe” 


Releases February 19th, 2021

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Composer and former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman has shared a new song, “Sorry,” which is another of the songs, like “Happy,” that he’d written especially for his 2020 Coachella performance that ended up not happening due to the pandemic. “‘Sorry’ was the first song I’ve written for myself in a long time,” Elfman says. “It began as an obsessive choral-chant instrumental work, which at the time I called ‘alien orchestral chamber punk’ and evolved slowly into a song. I was surprised by the amount of rage I’d been storing inside myself which came bursting out as soon as I applied my voice.”

The creepy, animated video for the song was made by Jesse Kanda, who has worked with Arca, FKA Twigs, and Bjork, and like the song, it was created for the Coachella performance. 


Released January 11th, 2021

Music & Lyrics by Danny Elfman

Vocals, Guitars & Synths by Danny Elfman
Drums – Josh Freese
Guitars – Robin Finck & Nili Brosh
Bass – Stu Brooks
Percussion and Additional Drums – Sidney Hopson

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Reciting mantras is a form of teaching — leaning into the repetition, retraining your brain, learning new realities. For Jilian Medford, it was a way to fight through her anxieties. And here, on “Show Me How You Disappear”, through a haze of tangled, inverted pop, her new truths push their way to the surface.

Mesmeric and kaleidoscopic, shimmering with electrified unease, Show Me How You Disappear is both an exercise in self-forgiveness and an eventual understanding of unresolved trauma. Medford’s third record as IAN SWEET unfolds at an acute juncture in her life, charting from a mental health crisis to an intensive healing process and what comes after. How do you control the thoughts that control you? What does it mean to get better? What does it mean to have a relationship with yourself?

The inklings for the record began slowly. In 2018, Medford wrote “Dumb Driver” on an acoustic guitar while living in a “hobbit hole” back house in Los Angeles. Skeletal, stripped-back versions of the undulating, amorphous “My Favorite Cloud” and “Power” emerged next. Mentally she was in a dark place. By January 2020, following increasingly severe panic attacks, Medford began a two-month intensive outpatient program, including six-hour days of therapy. It yielded an unprecedented level of self-reflection for Medford, who already plumbs the depths of her emotions for her song writing. She took a step back from music to completely immerse herself in the program, and once she felt ready to move on at the end of February, the rest of the songs poured out of her.

Recorded with Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Empress Of), Andy Seltzer (Maggie Rogers), and Daniel Fox, among others, Medford approached this album as a curator. She handpicked the producers that fit each song, which explains the range and experimentation showcased. Medford then recruited Chris Coady to mix and tie everything together into one cohesive piece.

The resulting record envelops both Medford and the listener like water: its ebb and flow, the ease with which it can switch from nourishing to endangering you. Fully immersive, with guitar lines as quick to sound grungy as they are to ascend to astral distortion, it’s a lush cacophony of experimentation. While writing the record, Medford revisited the discography of her forever favourite band, Coldplay and noted inspiration from Young Thug’s bizarre and magical vocal delivery. With these influences and many more, Medford’s pop melodies are inverted by the freak world she builds around them.


The cyclical nature of obsessive thought patterns shapes Show Me How You Disappear. It’s self-referential, each song in conversation with one another, tracing the same relationship and the desire to be an escape artist from your own life. But there’s also the repetition Medford learned to help herself via Emotional Freedom Technique tapping, which involves tapping pressure points on the body and repeating mantras to curb anxiety.

“Since I learned that method in therapy, it has saved my life and seeped into my music,” she says. “Song writing has always been a tool for me to process my emotions. But this technique has allowed me to apply more intention to that practice.”

For her, the refrain of “Get Better” hits that hardest, a sort of emotional thesis of the album. She explains, “This song came from being stuck in an infinite loop of destructive thoughts and the only way to get out of my head was to repeat my goal over and over. By saying ‘I want to get better, better, better’ out loud, I started to feel something.”

Show Me How You Disappear also offered a certain liberation to Medford. As personal as it is — like preceding albums Shapeshifter and Crush Crusher — here, post-therapy, Medford was able to approach her song writing in a new way. She learned how to distance herself from the immediacy of her work, to put space between her personal identity and her art. There was less concern about fitting every piece of her story into the lyrics. Instead, this time, she held back. “I think there’s something to be said for leaving things out,” Medford says. “This is the first record that I leave that space for myself. I feel a freedom on this one that I haven’t felt with the others. People always say ‘I put all of me into this’, but I actually didn’t this time — I left space.”

Dizzying and enthralling, Show Me How You Disappear is the sound of someone coming apart and putting themselves back together  the moment an old mantra, repeated into the mirror time and time again, finally clicks. To look at your reflection, and finally feel seen. 

Releases March 5th, 2021


The bay area has a bit of history of generating groups inspired by Flying Nun Records. “Galore”, like Brilliant Colours before them make jangly pops songs in the vein of Look Blue Go Purple. It’s a low key, sort of ramshackle brilliance that Galore excel at. If you didn’t know better–and if the camera didn’t occasionally glimpse a new model of car–you might think that Galore’s music video for new single “Deja Vu” was released in the 90’s. Beyond the DIY camcorder shots, the music itself feels like a revival of a bygone era. Jangly guitars and detached vocals evoke The Aislers Set and many other Slumberland Records bands. Galore has absolutely done their sonic predecessors justice with their debut self-titled record.

This release marks the third single and music video from Galore’s self-titled debut album, and features the band (who are clearly all thrift shop aficionados) wandering through some of the familiar industrial landscape of San Francisco, in glorious 4:3 aspect ratio. They film San Francisco the way we want it to look— the rusted industry starts to feel like a playground, and the failing barriers start to feel penetrable. The video captures a very specific type of freedom that really only exists in the pages of a coming-of-age teen novel or a skate video.

The album’s opener and the first single “Lydia” was another standout track. The frantic, jumpy guitars continuously build tension with discordant riffs, until the song can take it no more and bursts with a frantic shout in the vocals and a punctuating smack of the drums. The line “I try so hard to keep it alive” feels self-referential, a statement on keeping the music the band loves alive and kicking.

The Band :

Griffin Jones, – Guitar
Britta Leijonflycht, – Guitar
Ava Rosen, – Bass
Hannah Smith, – Drums

Galore will be released June 1st via Rocks In Your Head Records.

Though Bryan Ponce and Adriana Flores share the stage with Joey Q as part of the East LA souldies outfit Thee Sinseers, they really step into the spotlight with The Altons, a group they themselves founded along with drummer Caitlin Moss and bassist Gabriel Maldonado . On this their debut single on Penrose, Bryan sings the lead with a smoky-sweet falsetto that bends tenderly from growl to howl and back again. The group takes a turn through a classic Miracles-style mid-tempo groove on the A-side, leaving you helplessly addicted to their sweet eponymous refrain, “When you go that’s when you’ll know…” However, it’s the B-side that prompted producer Bosco Mann to declare Bryan Ponce the most underrated singer on the scene today.

Of course that won’t last long when the soul heads get their needles in “Over and Over.” The secret is out. Dude can sing. This is my jam. They really step into the spotlight with The Altons, a group they themselves founded . On this their debut single on Penrose, Bryan sings the lead with a smoky-sweet falsetto that bends tenderly from growl to howl and back again. The group takes a turn through a classic Miracles-style mid-tempo groove on the A-side, leaving you helplessly addicted to their sweet eponymous refrain, When you go that’s when you’ll know… However, it’s the B-side that prompted producer Bosco Mann to declare Bryan Ponce the most underrated singer on the scene today.

Daptone Records started up their Penrose label offshoot label this year to showcase the new soul in So-Cal (Soul-Cal?) and they didn’t hold back. Vicky Tafoya is up there at number two and here are The Altons at a solid number 10. The sweet soul falsetto will slow your life down and put you in an enviable state of mind where the rat race fades away, the sun is setting, the waves are lightly massaging the sand and you are reclined with your favourite drink taking it all in. This record really will take you there.

The Altons are a 5-piece band driven by soul and rock mixed into one sonic sound.

released April 10th, 2020

The only context I really have for awakebutstillinbed is seeing them open for Joyce Manor, Jeff Rosenstock, and AJJ at the Hollywood Palladium last January, an evening with a haha-what-the-fuck energy radiating from each of the bill’s four DIY punk bands as they took to the historic stage in front of a sold-out crowd. While they still seemed pretty confident onstage, the opening single to the EP awakebutstillinbed dropped on Christmas morning oozes uncertainty, with vocalist Shannon Taylor punctuating verses with “I don’t knows” before erupting into punky rasps—a considerably more existential scenario than the party vibes I first experienced the band in, though just as engaging.

Recorded in Shannon’s house, the twins’ house, the art boutiki and ally’s basement in december 2020. Thanks to chillwavve for inspiring me to write “leave” for their christmas comp, as well as martin and eric for helping us with this release. thanks to everyone who has ever supported this project, love you all, thanks for listening.


songs by Shannon. arrangements by Shannon with help from Brendan.

the following people contributed to this release:
Ally Garcia – bass
Brendan Gibson – guitar, synth
Jpegstripes – drums, synth, piano
Cat Egbert – drums
Jason Hallyburton – drums
Shannon Taylor – guitar, bass, vocals

Released December 25th, 2020

Can we talk about how this man is 52 years old? I had no idea. Since he’s only been around for four years, roughly 2016, I thought he was much younger. I’m only saying this as he always gives off the energy of someone younger. Ok onto the music, his third record starts off with “Chocolate Samurai” and about three quarters into the song he says “it’s never too late to achieve your dreams” and I mean it just goes with the age thing. He is beloved in the music world and he’s really doing what he wants to. His music goes in all directions, from roots and funk to rock and blues and even a bit of gospel.

He gets a little help from a few guests on the album, most notably Tank from Tank and the Bangas on the scorching track “I’m So Happy I Cry”. “Your Sex is Overrated” featuring Masa Kohama has Fantastic Negrito doing his best Prince send up, and it works. “King Frustration” speaks to everything happening today for Black Amerircans, not being able to function while worrying about every step taken throughout the day. It’s an angry song that deserves to be played loud through your stereo. If you’re not familiar with him for some reason, please go take a listen to all three of his records, you won’t be disappointed.

Fantastic Negrito: the perfect combination of brilliant performance, brilliant writing, and funky fucking music. This harkens back to the best r&b, funk, soul, and rock-and-roll of the 60sand ‘7s with a 2025 vision. 


I came up with the name Fantastic Negrito to give the respect and honour to all of the human lives that lay the very foundation that we all build upon now. So many talented, brave, courageous souls with no names sacrificed their freedom, blood, sweat, tears and lives so that we could stand here and pick from the beautiful garden of Black Roots Music. When I imagined Fantastic Negrito, I was thinking of the greats Robert Johnson, Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf and Charlie Patton these amazing contributors these amazing architects of popular culture.

Released August 14th, 2020

Fantastic Negrito

Three years in the making, and A.O. Gerber’s debut album, “Another Place to Need”, could not have come along at a better time. It’s a collection of songs that envelop and surround the listener, but there’s an ethereality at play that suggests a haunting or, even, haunted presence – dreams and fantasy over cold, hard immediacy.

For all the explosive news and fanfare this year brought us, it’s funny that much of our days were pushed into a more muted, understated version of existence. Expansive and warm-toned, Another Place To Need is an album that balances these two oppositional poles with a lot of grace and insight. “What is there left to do but fall into the labyrinth of my mind?” her honey voice asks on “Every Time,” and we just get to sit there and be lucky she let us fall with her for a bit. A.O. Gerber is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, CA.

released May 22nd, 2020

Produced by A.O. Gerber and Madeline Kenney

The Band:
A.O. Gerber – bass, guitar, piano, synth, vocals, wurlitzer,Alex Oñate – drums and percussion Madison Megna – bass, guitar, synth GG – guitar, vocals Chris Pucher – guitar Madeline Kenney – bass, guitar, percussion, synth, vocals, wurlitzer Noah Weinman – trumpet Sasami Ashworth – french horn Haisem Khalfani – saxophone Marina Allen – vocals on “Strangers”
Phil Hartunian –
clarinet on “Full Bloom” Philippe Bronchtein – pedal steel on “In the Morning” Jacob Goldman – guitar, piano, synth, vocals on “All I’ve Known”
Scott Brown –
bass on “Every Time” and “Old Blue”

A.O. Gerber’s debut album ‘Another Place to Need’ out now on Hand In Hive/Copper Mouth Records

Despite its hefty title, James Wallace’s second album under the cosmic moniker Skyway Man positively blooms with vivacity. Wallace explores the very fabric of living through both ends of the telescope: Maybe it’s reminiscing on that singular feeling, way back when you were 18. 

The sophomore long-player from cosmic country innovator James Wallace’s Skyway Man project, World Only Ends When You Die is a ramshackle road trip billed as a “psych-folk opera” that evokes a Muscle Shoals-backed Grateful Dead piloting a boogie van into the Greek underworld. A classic hero’s journey spurned by the twin existential crises of paternal death and a world being torn asunder by disease and competing political ideologies, the ten-track set is awash in metaphysical angst, yet positively ebullient in its response to it.

Recorded at Spacebomb in Wallace’s native Virginia with the studio’s house band and Big Easy vocal duo the Lostines, Skyway Man effusively combines elements of country, folk, blues, gospel, R&B, and indie rock, sometimes all at once — sonic touchstones include Randy Newman, Lee Hazlewood, Daniel Romano, Norman Greenbaum, Flaming Lips, and Dennis Wilson. Commencing with the slow-burning “Muddy Water,” Wallace knows that the road to enlightenment is fraught with danger (“Muddy water like a piece of ancient church glass flowing/We’re on the darkest stretch, but the bend ahead is glowing”), but he remains sanguine throughout the expedition. The radiant gospel-rock suite “Sometimes Darkness/Railroad/Sometimes Darkness Reprise” looks to Jesus for affirmation, while the airy “Rise of the Integratron” peers into the inky blue, pairing billowy Canterbury-style progressive rock with a snippet of a 1953 speech by UFOlogist George Van Tassel. It’s heady stuff, but Wallace and company imbue the proceedings with so much heart and soul — and considerable pop acumen — that the compulsion to hear and see where this sci-fi Canterbury Tales will go next never abates.

Written by James Wallace

The Musicians: James Wallace Guitars – Alan Parker Additional Guitars – Sean Thompson Drums/Percussion – Pinson Chanselle Upright Bass – Nate Mathews Electric Bass – Ric Alessio Piano/Keys – James Wallace Saxophone – Caleb Hickman Background Vocals – Casey Jane, Camille Weatherford

James Wallace’s new album as Skyway Man, The World Only Ends When You Die, is a cosmic and chooglin’ tour de force … he’s achieved something extraordinary here.”

“A psych-folk opera of spaced-out country and sci-fi gospel and blues, laced with mythology and nods to George Van Tassel, legendary ufologist … The new Skyway Man album is really incredible.” 

“This thing is something else, folks.”

The tenth and final chapter from Skyway Man’s ‘The World Only Ends When You Die’, out now from Mama Bird Recording Co. Released October 23rd, 2020

Two years ago, SoCal studio cultist Chris Schlarb, a.k.a. Psychic Temple, announced a new project in which he would collaborate with four completely different artists for each side of a double album. He called it “Houses of the Holy”  which made sense, coming after albums titled I, II, III, and IV — and introduced it with a fun EP of desert-singed garage-pop tunes made with Los Angeles’ Cherry Glazerr. The full 2-LP adventure, rolled out this last September, features those songs plus some jazzier moods with cornetist Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground trio; along with paisley-hued psychedelic rock with the Dream Syndicate; and big-band backpack rap with local MC Xololanxinxo.

All those sounds hang together with the logic of a long, weird dream, thanks to Schlarb’s instinct for unlikely musical connections. As a generous celebration of what can happen when you put a bunch of talented people together in one room — in this case, Schlarb’s Long Beach, California, studio, Big Ego  “Houses of the Holy” was all the more welcome this lonely year.

The concept is pretty cool. Basically, I take over an existing band on each side and we write and record together.
Cherry Glazerr (Side A)
Chicago Underground Trio (Side B)
Dream Syndicate (SideC)
Xololanxinxo (Side D)
Psychic Temple - Houses of the Holy
The first single, “Why Should I Wait?” with The Dream Syndicate is out now and you can pre-order the album over at Bandcamp today. I’m really proud of this record. If you take a listen, please let me know what you think. The vinyl is especially fun since each side is its own thing, but together its like the album is a mini box set. “Lightning” I particularly keep playing. It makes me feel like it could have been a song in an old old dream I had trouble remembering until I hear it and I can almost recall it again. Give the album a good listen and I think you’ll find something to enjoy.

Psychic Temple off the album ‘Houses of the Holy’ out on Joyful Noise Recordings.