Posts Tagged ‘California’

“Wish Goes On” soundtracks the (re)birth of a band called Milly. It is something new emerging from something old; something old from something older, made new again. In 2019, Milly hit the road with labelmates and fellow fans of fuzz, Swervedriver. At the time, their line up was rotating consistently as Brendan Dyer, Milly’s principle songwriter, searched for permanence in the form of a live band. It was on this tour that something clicked for Dyer, who recalls the feeling as nothing short of cosmic. He remembers thinking one day, simply, “This is the band,” and so it was. Spencer Light on guitar, Yarden Erez on bass, and Zach CapittiFenton on drums, with Dyer playing guitar and singing the songs.

The dynamic that burst into existence on this tour only deepened in the following months. “So much of it for me are those in-between moments,” Dyer says about the band’s blossoming friendships, “driving in the car listening to music, or being on break from rehearsal getting something to eat from Lassens.” Dyer would bring sketches of songs to the group, most of which he’d already been developing for years. “This release marks the transition from Milly as a solo project to Milly as something more unified,” Dyer explains. CapittiFenton, Erez, and Light were invited to dissect and rework his demos  a process that continued right up until the time they found themselves in rural Colorado actively recording Wish Goes On with Gleemer’s Corey Coffman. Coffman, who engineered and produced, also became involved in the song writing process at this point, offering ideas the band would take home and play with before returning to the studio the next day.


The result is five songs which complement one another artfully. By the time Dyer sings, “But it’s different now, feels like the same old town but I know it’s not” on the EP’s second track, “Denial,” it is not only a hometown that has disappeared in change, but also the sordid illusion of US supremacy as it is incessantly propagandized, especially to children — a notion which opener “Star Spangled Banner” openly unsettles. Dyer wrote “Denial” and the three songs that follow at around the same time in his life, with “Star Spangled Banner” coming significantly later, sometime after Milly’s formative tour in 2019. There is something to be said about these conversations across time, the album receding in a sense into the past even as one advances through it. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that longing, wishful thinking, and hope are always reaching both backwards and forwards. Maybe when Dyer sings that he “can’t get past denial,” he’s referring in a sense to the denial of anything but the present moment. Maybe, in the way of Alan Watts, Wish Goes On furthers the idea that “The only way to make sense out of change is to plug into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Dyer describes something to this effect when he says he’s been “trying to keep my head down and follow my path, knowing things will work out.” In the same conversation, he openly acknowledges that “even if that’s not true, it still feels helpful,” which is to say, of course, “Wish Goes On.”

Released April 9th, 2021

Written and performed by Milly

Frankie and the Witch Fingers Levitation Session

Frankie and the Witch Fingers live album for their “Levitation Session” is out now!, The “Levitation Sessions”: the Frankie and the Witch Fingers simulated reality prototype! Plug it into your brain and experience a deep fried, multi-coloured, sensory invasion featuring 11 of their latest jammers. A psychedelic rock meltdown in the 4th dimension. 

“We spent a full week in the desert shooting our session – it was really more of a space mission than anything else, a self-contained artistic ecosystem. Everyone had been so restless in quarantine that when we came back together again in a giant, hot, hangar in the desert, there was five months of pent-up adrenaline that ignited between the band and our team.

We were lucky enough to have our friend, Caster Black, break down his entire studio and set it back up for us to record. Shitshow Dave brought a spaceship’s worth of AV gear, and went vastly above and beyond engineering the lighting, projections, video-capture, and electrical for the show – he also photographed us, fed us, and tattooed us out there too! And, our good friend and visionary video artist, Railroad Bill, captured it all on tape and spent countless hours editing and making it into something I’ve never seen before: a video game where you get to be inside the show as a simulated guest. I hope all the love that went into it is apparent when you see it, and that you enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.” – Frankie and the Witch Fingers

The Live album from Frankie and the Witch Fingers’Levitation Session”, Our mission at Levitation is to be a platform where the art and music we love can thrive. Levitation Sessions are our way to support the bands and keep the music going. Just like a regular show, the majority of every dollar you spend goes to the artists we’re presenting. Thank you for supporting these artists!
Released December 18th, 2020

Steady Holiday is Dre Babinski and a large dog, “Take The Corners Gently” is the third LP from Steady Holiday, the musical project of Los Angeles songwriter Dre Babinski. Following up 2018’s Nobody’s Watching, Dre travelled to Nashville, Tennessee, to record the album with Blake Sennett, lead guitarist in the much loved Rilo Kiley, who helped bring these vibrant songs to life.

A document of complex, difficult times in her life, Corners is both buoyant and beautiful, a tight collection of smart, heartfelt pop songs that grow an inch taller thanks to the spiritedness with which Babinksi approaches them. Perhaps its key aspect is its vulnerability, however. There is real heart and soul in these songs, and the impulsiveness which always comes with such things is given centre stage, adding depth and warmth which radiates throughout the album’s eight songs.

Released into the world last week, you can stream the album at the bottom of this page, and be sure to listen along while reading this track by track guide written by Dre, for both us and for you.

Take The Corners Gently was written during a period of turmoil in my family. The details aren’t mine alone to share, but the lessons learned from the experience are threaded throughout these songs. It’s an album about embracing uncertainty, relinquishing what can’t be controlled, appreciating small moments as they happen. Humility.

I recorded with those things in mind too. At least… I tried to. I went to Nashville to work with Blake Sennett, an old friend who understood. Our best intentions weren’t always aligned. But we knew it. Embraced it. And in a way, that was the point. I also dragged my friend Chiffon Myst along. He makes everything better. 

So that’s how we got here. That’s the quick version, anyway. I’ll probably try to thesaurus my way out of words like “acceptance” and “humility”, but that’s what I’ll be dancing around. 


“Living Life” by Steady Holiday. Courtesy of Steady Holiday, 2020.

Written by Dre Babinski

Released February 12th, 2021

Cool Ghouls, the San Francisco-based band that once lived on house gigs and barbeques in Golden Gate Park, is going on their tenth year together and in lieu of this decennial celebration, they are releasing their fourth album, “At George’s Zoo”. They shared “The Way I Made You Cry,” the second single off this album. At George’s Zoo is set to be released on March 12th via Empty Cellar (and Melodic in the UK). The song has a bit of a retro Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs vibe. 

The band shared the album’s first single, “Helpless Circumstance,” last month, which set the tone of the rest of their upcoming album. The group aims to capture the romantic essence of the city, as well as the historical psychedelia that once dominated the music scene in San Francisco. “At George’s Zoo” will be a reminder of the before times when gigs took place in a friend’s living room rather than on stage or now—through a screen.


Their third and previous album, Gord’s House, was released in 2017.

Cool Ghouls are a band fledged in San Francisco on house shows, minimum wage jobs, BBQ’s in Golden Gate Park and the romance of a city’s psychedelic history turns 10 this year. What better a decennial celebration than the release of their fourth album, At George’s Zoo!

How did this San Francisco’s fab four arrive at George’s Zoo? The teenage friendship of complimentary spirits Pat McDonald (Guitar/Vox) and Pat Thomas (Bass/Vox) serves as square one. The Patricks were munching on Eggo-waffle-sandwiches and downing warm Taaka in suburban Benicia years before McDonald would hear George Clinton address his fans as “Cool Ghouls”. The boys played their debut gig as Cool Ghouls at San Francisco’s legendary The Stud in 2011, but there’s no doubt the musical moment cementing the band’s trajectory was much earlier at the 18th birthday party for boy-wonder Ryan Wong (Guitar/Vox) – at the Wong household.

You might remember the Ghouls’ earliest days… McDonald’s hair hung luxuriously past his waist, Thomas dreamt of no longer having to crash on friends’ couches to call SF home and Wong looked forward to turning 21. Cool Ghouls’ Pete Best, Cody Voorhees, thrashed wildly – but briefly – on the drums and Alex Fleshman (Drums), who still claims he’s not really “a drummer”, turned out to be a really good drummer.

It’s been 2 years since the last time Cool Ghouls have even played. The STUD is gone, The Eagle Tavern is for sale and The Hemlock has been demolished for condos. 

Fortunately for us, the ghouls got an album in before it all went to shit, and they made it count. At George’s Zoo includes 15 of the 27 tunes they managed to eke out while simultaneously working through major life moves. It was a 5-month, all out, final sprint down the homestretch (to Ryan’s moving day) with affable engineer Robby Joseph, at his makeshift garage studio in the Outer Sunset (pictured on the cover). Instead of recording the entire album over a few consecutive days – like they’d done with Tim Cohen, Sonny Smith and Kelley Stoltz for the first three LPs – the band took it slow by working through a few songs each weekend after rehearsing them the week before. 

These guys have a real commitment to elevating as songwriters, musicians and ensemble players. It’s always been for the music with Cool Ghouls and this long-awaited self-produced outing is a track by track display of the ground they’ve covered and heights they can achieve. Their vocals and trademark harmonies are front and center and out-of-control-good. Ryan’s guitar solos are incredible. The horns by Danny Brown (sax) and Andrew Stephens (trumpet) hit in all the right places. Maestro, Henry Baker (Pat Thomas Band / Tino Drima), plays keys throughout. 

The song writing, harmony and playing are nothing if not solid. The lyrics are keen. Robby’s recording and mixing sound great start to finish and even better after mastering by Mikey Young. It’s a triumphant addition to their catalogue. Recommended for Stooges and Beach Boys fans alike. Listen and see!

Empty Cellar Records and Melodic Records worldwide.
releases March 12, 2021

Jenny Owen Youngs grew up in the forests of northern New Jersey and now lives in coastal Maine, where she spends much of her time writing with and for other artists, making podcasts, and working on her next record. Her songs have appeared in Bojack Horseman, Weeds, Suburgatory, Switched at Birth, and elsewhere. If you need her, she’s probably in Skyrim right now. The indie singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs last fall when she covered Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” in the lead-up to her Night Shift EP and Blink-182’s “Dammit” for a compilation featuring 27 covers of Blink-182’s “Dammit.” Since then she’s launched a new band called L.A. Exes, and today she’s back with a new solo EP.

Echo Mountain features a smattering of original singles plus a demo and a remix. It sets a mood throughout, soft and meditative and warm, suggesting Youngs is still going strong a decade and a half into her career. The only previously unreleased track on the EP is “Dungeons And Dragons,” which Youngs says “is about using a role playing game as an early escapism tool. It’s also about the fear of turning into the worst parts of the people who raise you.” Hear that one and the rest of Echo Mountain.


Released March 10th, 2021

Jeremy Earl (Woods) & Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, The Reds, Pinks & Purples) met sometime in the mid-oughts and bonded over a love of tambourines and DIY sounds. They shared many stages since, and their first serious collaboration was on the 2011 Woods album Sun & Shade. Around 2018, Earl was restless in upstate NY and accepted an invite to record in Donaldson’s studio in an undisclosed rural coastal town in Northern California. In a week they emerged with nearly an album’s worth of hazy folk-rock and psych-pop with touches of more outré lo-fi noise. Jeff Moller (The Papercuts) added bass, and they put the finishing touches on during quarantine. Heaven and Holy ebbs and flows like coastal fog between songs and dreamy instrumentals splitting the difference between The Clean’s Unknown Country and The Byrds Fifth Dimension.


Jeremy Earl: Guitars, Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Mellotron, Casio
Glenn Donaldson: Guitars, Organ, Casio, Backing Vocals
Jeff Moller: Bass, Electric Piano on track 11

Released March 5th, 2021

Back in slagtion, New Bums, that duo nobody thought to ask for – Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny and Skygreen Leopards’ Donovan Quinn – are deeper in their nocturnal jungle where all the folly and failure in the world is like an elegant fever dream you want to have every night, and do. Dry humour and pathos pop in a collapsed acoustic vein!.

Does anyone remember the local bar scene? Sure, it was a lifetime ago (the longest lifetime: a year and counting…), but we still recall those unsung heroes of every local scene; musicians who put their blood, sweat and tears into trying to capture the blood, sweat and tears of somebody else’s music. Sure, almost everybody starts off performing covers before eventually finding their own original voice, leaving behind the quiet triumph ‘n tragedy of those who continue to try and draw custom via a spirited taxidermy of some key subset of history’s greatest hits….New Bums are here to tackle this frankly delicate matter with the latest single from their forthcoming “Last Time I Saw Grace”


Releases March 19th, 2021

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California duo Kyle Krone and Brandon Hoogenboom, combine as Casual Vice to bring a surfeit of blissed out West Coast vibes to latest EP, ‘Joie de Vivre’ – released earlier this month – and nowhere better than on this reverb and guitar-driven track ‘Hourglass’.

The five-minute-plus number exudes beautifully produced instrumentation and harmonies, with bass and drums effortlessly intercut.

Lyrically, Brandon describes ‘Hourglass’ as a “deeply personal autobiographical song of Kyle’s life and childhood that takes a beautifully honest and transparent look at the always diminishing asset of time, and impermanence of life itself and the beautiful but painful realizations that are associated with this awareness.”

Hourglass” by· Casual Vice Released “Joie De Vivre” EP on: 2021-02-12

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Marina Allen glides on angelic highs, surfing the husky deep; she is one of the great new voices of her generation. Writing songs that carry notes from other realms; these are kitchen table tales about love and fear, the capturing of the wild heart, sketching the breaking of dawn, bringing real life back to life.

Every song on stunning debut album ‘Candlepower’ is a tick box of influences, asides, inspirations, quickfire theories, storylines and melodic progressions that galvanise a chemical reaction for each dramatic scene that unfolds on this genre-traversing seven song epic.

One listen to opening track ‘Oh, Louise’ underlines the range of Marina’s talent, it’s a filmic play on words, with an arrangement that’s like a Kate Bush dream sequence. It’s the perfect foil for the plaintive strum of ‘Sleeper Train’, a haunting, folky paean fit for Judee Sill brought up to date with some echoey electric guitar; or the conversational ‘Believer’; with a nod to Joni Mitchell in the lyrics it sounds every bit like Simon And Garfunkel at their Big Apple best listening to the ‘7 O’Clock News’ re-imagined on Sunset.

The stuff of legend for a voice that surfs many musical tangents, hovers, and persists, that stings with honesty; morphing from Karen Carpenter’s gentle reverence to Laura Nyro’s soulful grit, moving through the phases like some possessed Dada performance artist before throwing in a melody from Joni at her jazziest or from the close harmonies of the lamented Roches when they flipped out with Robert Fripp.

‘Candlepower’ is a juxtaposition of melodies, an achingly beautiful set of songs set against the clank of the mundane world, a beguiling commentary on the everyday and everywhere. It’s all here, in under 20 minutes… every second counts. 

Releases May 4th, 2021

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After over a 15 year hiatus, the Imajinary Friends are back with a new collection of sizzling electric dreams from space that pulsate with a strange, sexy, far out groove (i.e. L’Outsider, with guest vocals and lyrics by Deborrah Morgan aka Moogy.) On their eponymously self-titled 3rd LP, the Imajinary Friends tweak the frequencies and really fry all the instrumentation that is both dizzying and danceable (i.e. The Dark Sparkle or Space Trash.) The Imajinary Friends continue to experiment with sounds and rhythm on tracks like 101 Kazoos and Frangipani. This record brings the rhythms of the 70’s Krautrock scene with the dark guitars of UK Post-Punk paired with buried vocals and slurred sounds of the 90’s shoegaze movement.

The Imajinary Friends are a somewhat mysterious collective. Ever changing and evolving. The core 3 are Tim Digulla (one half of Lounge/Exotica/Electronica duo Tipsy,) Ricky Maymi (current guiterrorist & founding member of The Brian Jonestown Massacre; he also played with Mellow Drunk, Spectrum, The Wild Swans and Steve Kilbey, among many others) and Travis Threlkel (also a founding member of BJM, now, founder & creative director at Obscura Digital) For these recordings, the Imajinary Friends enlisted the following to sing vocals on several tracks: The aforementioned, Australian/French-Belgian Singer-songwriter Moogy (L’Outsider); Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes (Hate This Party); and Marleen Nilsson of Death And Vanilla (Baby’s Bathwater, What’s being said about The Imajinary Friends…

“San Francisco’s The Imajinary Friends, mercurial pranksters of soundscape and pop, continue to turn in the unexpected with their unique brand of original and uncompromising music.” — Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom


Released April 20th, 2017

The Imajinary Friends:

Tim Digulla,
Ricky Maymi,
Travis Threlkel