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Unplugged April 2014

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Duke Chevalier INside: - On My Honor tackles homophobia in religion - Sacramento’s Phono Select Records takes vinyl seriously - Nude and True shows their perfectionism in their EP - Photo sets from Dr. Dog and O’Brother

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Letter from the staff:

May I have your attention please

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ecently, I’ve realized that a lot of older (21+) people at shows lack the enthusiasm that a lot of the teenagers and younger show-goers still have. Now, I totally understand if you have a drink in your hand and you don’t feel like moshing with it, but when you don’t, why just stand there? Try to imagine yourself on that stage: Your sound check went smoothly, you’re getting blown up on Twitter by the locals and you and your band are feeling pumped. You come out bright-eyed with high energy and during the second song you look out into the crowd only to realize that 90 percent of the people out there are giving you blank stares, talking amongst themselves and checking their phones. How would you feel? I’m sure that most artists can back me up when I say that the slightest sign of enjoyment would be awesome; a head-bob, a tapping foot, a swaying body, anything. I’m sure a lot of you can argue with me, saying that shows are social events where you get to hang with friends and enjoy live music together. But I feel like that might be a waste of a $10-15 ticket as well as the cost of gas getting to the show (and probably food too). Personally, I think that if we as local show-goers showed bands a better time in Sacramento, we’d see more bands stopping here to play shows instead of just stopping for gas on their way to San Francisco from Reno.

Top 5 Albums On Repeat “Patterns” Run Kid Run

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“What to Do When You’re Dead”

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Armor For Sleep “Stick Up Kids” Bad Rabbits

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“Foreigners” Brave Season

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— Steven Condemarin

“Paramore” Paramore

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Drop the needle again

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staff picks

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DR. Dog

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Nude and true

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Phono Select

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o’Brother

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I Knew Josh Before He Got Famous

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Album reviews

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Editors in chief

Steven Condemarin alisha kirby

Writers

Jorden Hales Ashli jade Josh Jurss daniel Romandia

Copy editors

Through the eyes of Ashli Jade

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On my honor

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My Scene, My Music

Robert Aguilar Megan Houchin

Photographers Carlos Almanza Allen Dubnikov Jesika Gatdula Joseph Garcia Elmer Martinez

Contributors

Kendra beltran Andrea Caccese Eric Delgado

Contact us Feel free to head over to our website (sacunplugged.com) for more information on advertising, contributing and submissions.

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’ve read that it’s around age 14 when people begin to develop their own cultural tastes, preferences in music included. Typically, that means come freshman year you’re ready to completely drop your parent’s radio stations and become the angsty teen listening to their iPod in the car. That’s fine; I like to think we all did it. There were a lot of great albums coming out while I was in high school and these are just a few that have stuck around. by Alisha Kirby

Drop The Needle Again

Hot Rod Circuit "The Underground Is a Dying Breed" Orange with Black smoke/225 This is my favorite of the band’s albums so I’m glad to see the vinyl handled so well. The gatefold opens up to some gorgeous artwork and the bonus acoustic 7-inch inserted into its own space. The pressing sounds perfect and I’ll forever be grateful to Enjoy the Ride and Thunderbeard Records for making this happen.

& Bayside "The Walking Wounded" Orange/958 While I’m not a huge fan of supporting Victory Records, I was so excited to see the pre-order go up for this classic. It wasn’t until later that I fully appreciated the B-side of this record (and by “later” I mean approximately six weeks after originally buying the CD). Though, as per usual, Victory didn’t try to make this release special in any way so it’s a good thing the music still holds up.

& Day At The Fair "The Rocking Chair Years" 2LP Black/100 Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. When I showed this album to people in high school nobody gave a shit -- their loss. This album was on repeat my entire senior year after reconnecting with it and now I only wish I’d had the bonus tracks on the vinyl release as well. This record was well worth the wait.

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Check out the whole photo set online @ sacunplugged.com

Band: Dr. Dog Venue: The Warfield San Francisco, CA Photos by: Jesika Gatdula

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selling happiness

Check out phono select’s facebook and sweet selection of records

Phono Select Records owner Dal Basi believes in the importance of vinyl Story by Daniel romandia Listening to MP3s is like going to a McDonald’s, CDs are like going out to a restaurant and vinyl records are like eating a nice, home-cooked meal. That’s how Dal Basi, the owner of Sacramento’s Phono Select Records, sees it. To Basi, vinyls are an important part of ingesting music and he makes sure to share that with everyone who sets foot into his store. Phono Select originally opened in 2010 in the heart of the city’s midtown. The store became popular as an integral part of many people’s route on 2nd Saturday, Sacramento’s monthly art walk and culture celebration. Then the rent in the area went up and Basi was forced to close. Luckily, he was able to find a storage unit in Hollywood Park near Sacramento City College to reopen the shop. “I know I’m not going to get rich off of this,” Basi said about running his store. “I just love music and see it as happiness. I’m

selling happiness.” Basi first fell in love with music in the small punk scene in Stockton, Calif. in the ‘80s. “It was the first place that didn’t care about where I was from or anything like that, but what music I was into.” Growing up as the son of Indian immigrants in a city with a reputation like Stockton’s, it’s no surprise that Basi experienced his fair share of racism. The punk scene was his escape from being called “towel head” and dealing with bigots on a regular basis. Yet, “people from places like Stockton are the proudest people you’ll meet,” he said. “Pride is all you have there.” That pride is something he brings to his work at Phono Select. One of the main draws of the store is the large, eclectic selection. Basi estimated that about 15 percent of the store’s stock is from his own personal collection. The rest, he said, he just sort of comes by through donations and

people he meets in the business. Just a quick look at Yelp reviews shows that people love Basi more than the store itself. The words “knowledgeable” and “nice” come up in many of the reviews. It’s no surprise though, as almost every single record there has a sticker with a paragraph giving a short summary of the band’s and album’s history, as well as Basi’s personal RIYL. As for the comments about being nice, Basi has anecdotes about kids coming in with a parent and finding a dollar record that they want without even having a record player, but he’ll just let them have it. The way he sees it, “it’s something to make the kid happy and in five years that could be a customer.” It’s no secret that vinyl is coming back in popularity. It has been for years. There are many different factors in its resurgence, but one of them is definitely people like Basi; people who are obviously passionate about their stores and what they do.

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Disrespect Doesn’t Help the Scene Through The Eyes of Ashli Jade

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couple of weeks ago I expressed via Facebook that “I really think I should get a medal for not writing what I really think about some of the acts in Sacramento and how they behave/treat other people.” I got a bit of support via comments and text messages urging me that I absolutely should write a column where I call some people out, and I did, but in the end I knew publishing it wasn’t going to do anyone any good. Calling people out in a little column isn’t going to do anything but piss a ton of people off and I know that we as a culture generally love to read and follow that kind of thing, but that’s just not how I roll. Instead I’m going to write about why talking trash, even if it’s true and legitimate trash, doesn’t help us as a scene. It actually does a lot of damage. Especially if you happen to think that your scene sucks. There isn’t wiggle room to say things that aren’t nice; there are only so many people playing music and going to shows and you all know each other. We are all on the same team, we are all striving for the same thing. Someone else’s success is your success. I think we all have a tendency to point out the bad instead of the good. It’s a lot easier to talk about what you didn’t like about the show on the drive home, or what

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you didn’t like about the venue, or what you don’t like about the music magazine, so on and so forth. Instead of cutting each other down, build each other up. It’s really simple stuff, but it’s always said a lot more than it’s done. Remember that respect goes an awful long way. You can never strengthen your scene and help it flourish if you cannot respect all the different sorts of people and genres that are out there. Everyone is entitled to take part, no one needs permission and you shouldn’t make anyone feel otherwise. But that kind of thing happens all the time; old fans talk trash about new fans, straight edge kids talk trash about the concert-goers having a beer (and vice versa) and girls who don’t look the part are labeled as someone’s girlfriend because why else would she be here? It’s not like she “gets it,” and doesn’t she have a Katy Perry concert to squeal at? We’re all guilty of it from time to time. But I’ve come to understand over the years that just because I don’t like a band doesn’t mean they’re not talented and just because I don’t necessarily like someone as a person doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy and support the music they make. If I don’t agree with what someone writes, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And if I don’t like a venue, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad venue. The world is small and scenes

are even smaller. Starting futile feuds with people who aren’t even all that bad seems like an awful waste of time of energy. Honestly, I like the Sacramento scene for what it is and all of the bands in it. They have their quirks and their annoying tendencies, but they’re typically goodhearted people putting on fun shows for everyone to enjoy. I can appreciate the fact that they continue to make music, no matter what people like me may or may not think of them, with the understanding that they can’t please everyone. I know that I couldn’t do that. I know that if it was me up there on stage I would be paranoid about what an audience thought of me and a few negative comments would be enough to deter me for the rest of my life. I think there’s a lesson to be learned from the people who continue to do what they do in spite of that. I also believe that maybe we’d have more people in the scene going to shows, supporting music, playing in bands and writing zines if they weren’t put down or shamed. It’s all common sense, I suppose. I don’t really think I deserve a medal for not publishing my true opinions about certain bands or people; I’m honestly just trying to be respectful like any decent human being. Sincerely,

Ashli Jade


fighting for justice

Head over to sacunplugged.com to reda the full story On My Honor’s Drew Justice stands up for sexuality and religion Story by Josh Jurss “I felt inclined to say something and actually started writing a post when I saw Mike Reynolds’ tweet saying there was no such thing as a gay Christian.” This is how Drew Justice, singer of the pop-punk band On My Honor, begins explaining the reasoning for writing a reactionary blog post about being both gay and a Christian himself. In early 2013, Reynolds, ex-guitarist of For Today, posted some controversial opinions on Twitter. With the posts on one of the most widely used social media websites, and this being a highly contentious topic, the flood gates opened and responses from every side of the argument came crashing in. Justice himself didn’t post his response until almost a year later. “At the time I hadn’t spoken with my parents about my sexuality. Seeing the attention Reynolds’ post had gotten, I didn’t want them finding out that way, so I scrapped that,” he explained. “I felt that I owed them a face-to-face family conversation on the matter before it was

public domain and that simply hadn’t happened yet.” The past repeated itself when Phil Robertson made his anti-gay remarks. With social media flooded with those either backing or bashing the “Duck Dynasty” star’s comments, it was clear to Justice that something needed to be said. “There are enough people out there struggling with this every day and seeing their family members or friends pick a side and militantly dog the other can only make it harder,” he said. “The lack of empathy on the matter was concerning to me, and I was just hoping to let the kids in the middle, the ones dealing with it every day, know that not everyone believes they have to pick one or the other.”  Justice posted his thoughts on the matter and gained some attention from websites such as AbsolutePunk and Alternative Press. The comment sections became pretty much what you’d expect: A hodgepodge of “good for him,” “why does this matter,” and the occasional insult from both sides.

However, the responses that mattered most to Justice were the ones that he received directly. Surprisingly, the post never directly affected the band. They neither garnered nor lost fans. The rest of the band members simply supported him but it was never their main focus. That was on their full-length album, “I Never Deserve the Things I Need,” which has been out now for several months. “I thought a lot about people I’ve met over the years who expressed an appreciation for our band, things [I’ve said] or me as an individual,” Justice said of the title. “There are times that I feel I don’t deserve the respect or love that those people offer to me, but in my darker moments those relationships are often the motivation I need to get past an obstacle or to pull myself back up.” The band is working on demoing new songs and putting together a new album as well as planning tours, so keep an eye out for more things to come from On My Honor. 

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My Scene, My Music

Kendra Beltran Los Angeles, CA Founder of Golden Mixtape goldenmixtape.com

Josh Jurss Chicago, IL Unplugged Mag. Staff Writer

@JoshJurss

Eric Delgado Abbeville, SC Contributing Writer blessyerheart.com

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Which genre needs a revival? Looking back through my iTunes, I had to sit and ponder this. Would I want bands to take themselves less seriously and make fun music again *cough* Hellogoodbye *cough*? Nah, let them continue to grow up and leave the dance parties behind. My other go-to was the wonderful world of boy bands, but One Direction is doing a good job in that department. So with those two out, what’d that leave in? Maybe I’m alone on this, or the only person willing to admit it other than my best friend, but I have wished on many fallen stars that music like the kind you’d find on Buzzcut compilations would get back into the limelight. I know they still exist but it seems staples like Korn, Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit aren’t as present as they once

were. Remember when bands like that were as much a part of our everyday lives as Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears? So yeah, I am stuck somewhere between the turn of the millennium and 2002, but darn it those were good, sometimes embarrassing times. Is there any 24- to 35-year-old alive who doesn’t have “Significant Other” on their iPod? Note that some may have it labeled “Brand New’s Making Me Blue” mixtape just in case their actual significant other just wouldn’t understand. Anyway, those bands may have been a gateway drug to wallet chains and weekends at Glamis in the West, but they were such a fitting soundtrack and I think they deserve a comeback.

I am a firm believer that rock and roll is dying. It is a form of music that has been living in a vegetative state for decades, doomed to regurgitate the same bland themes and styles found in the current top radio hits, desperate to find solace in any sign that their music can still claim relevance with a youthful demographic. I yearn for a revival of the heavy metal/ rock band era of the ‘70s. However, I don’t just want the standard revival of this music, but rather one where it would be at the forefront of modern music, setting trends and selling out stadium tours across the country. I desire bands that destroy hotel rooms as easily as bottles of whiskey and, with talent

so profound, put audiences in such a state of shock they can only describe the event as the definition of awesome. The opulence of rock and roll royalty will shine into the mainstream once again, showcasing a truly flawed art form for all it is and can be. There is no craving for “the next Led Zeppelin” or “the next Pink Floyd.” I have no wish for the “reincarnation” of Jimi Hendrix. My need is for the next band worthy enough to be called “the greatest.” I want the faux bands from “Spinal Tap” and “Almost Famous” to be real bands of tomorrow. Until that day comes, I will get by with the few true rock and roll current bands/future legends around.

Let sleeping dogs lie. There is no need to breathe life into dead music genres. Sure, somewhere out there, there is one dude living in his mother’s basement rocking the skullet while holding out hope that Limp Bizkit will release “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water II,” but I believe music needs to evolve in order to inspire. That’s not to say that evolution can’t pay homage to the past and be brilliant, new and exciting at the same time. For example, The Gaslight Anthem lifts from Bruce Springsteen’s playbook (reverb, working class Jersey sentiments) but add their own spin into the mix with the addition of punk undertones. Paying homage to Springsteen works for The Gaslight Anthem because the elements they recreate

are done tastefully and sincerely. They actually sound like working class kids from Allentown, Pennsylvania or Jersey who probably grew up listening and lyrically relating to Springsteen. On the flip side, I’ve heard many bands try to copy the Springsteen reverb trick in order to piggyback on the success of bands like The Gaslight Anthem and Arcade Fire. I can’t blame them. Most music blogs go ape-shit for anything covered in reverb, but it’s insincere emulation, faddish, and the honest truth is that it sounds like fucking shit instead of ear candy more often than not. This leaves me with my last point: Instead of genres we need the return of musicianship. I want to see musicians who can play and sing instead of letting the computer do all the heavy lifting.


What did YOU say? This is where we grab our favorite answers from Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr! Kevin Matre Los Angeles, CA

“Ska. You just used to hear so much more ska; Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, now I don’t know of much like them anymore. Maybe if more bands like them started playing a bigger rock and/or reggae festivals, we’d hear more of them.”

Ian La Tondre Sacramento, CA (Rock Inc. owner)

There’s no such thing as a big rock band anymore. It’s depressing. It doesn’t need a “revival” I suppose, it just needs one single good fucking band. I love hip hop and indie music as much as the next Urban Outfiters shopping, Tom-wearing-hipster, but I want a fucking Led Zeppelin. Where’s my 2014 Led Zeppelin?

NEXT MONTH:

What qualities do you look for when checking out new bands? Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #myscenemymusic and we’ll publish our favorite answers in next month’s issue! @sacunplugged fb.com/sacunplugged

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Stay up-to-date on releases, shows and more on our website!

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Top 5: sunny day songs

Staff picks

Sun’s out, guns out. Fun in the sun. Some other terrible saying that you’ll see on a tank top in the coming months. Let’s get those words out of the way so we can put them behind us and enjoy what the warm temperature brings. Here’s a quick start to your playlist to soundtrack your drives to the beach, your barbecues and your days outdoors.

by Daniel Romandia

5. Ice Cube “Today Was a Good Day” ‘90s hip-hop is riddled with songs perfect for sunny days, and that’s probably because California was so prevalent in the scene at the time. Ice Cube’s classic is possibly the best from the era for this list. Just put this on and instantly your car becomes a green Ford Mustang 5.0 with gold Dayton rims and the top down.

4. Beach Fossils - “Taking Off” Oddly enough, the epicenter of modern beach rock is Brooklyn. No beaches anywhere in sight and the only stories of warmth come from the state of New York and are of sweat and humidity. Still, Beach Fossils and this song in particular have the right pace, tones and feel for kicking back in the shade.

3. Toro Y Moi - “Talamak” Watch the video for this song and you’ll instantly get it. It’s smooth, a little groovy and part of the whole chillwave scene that literally lasted one summer. It was a glorious one, though, as this song started making its way onto people’s “Sunshine, Fun Time” playlists.

2. Generationals “When They Fight, They Fight” This song heralds back to a time when everyone in the country was jealous of California and teenagers ran away to become movie stars or surf all day. Sometimes it’s easy to miss the ‘60s and ‘70s, and this song definitely makes you yearn for big sunglasses and talking about peace.

1. The Seeds “I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” If there’s one thing this garage rock classic does, it conjures up images of 20-somethings hanging out on a Southern California boardwalk as the sun sets. This song probably has a cliché fan-made music video of this exact scene in slow motion somewhere on the internet. Honestly, it just fits the scene so perfectly.


Duke Chevalier

Interview by Alisha Kirby // Photos by Allen Dubnikov

There’s no question that it’s hard out there for a musician economically speaking, but Sam Eliot Stern of Duke Chevalier isn’t going to be made to release his music for free to people who don’t really even care. His entire model of how he releases songs is based on supply and demand. The more people show interest in what he’s doing, the more we’ll hear of his enchanting, folk-like, Caribbeantinged singles. So, first of all, can you go ahead and state your full name and what you do in Duke Chevalier? My full name is Sam Eliot Stern and Duke Chevalier is an artistic moniker that I release music, films, and perform under with the support of my friends. I didn’t realize you released films as well. What sort of films? The film stuff I’m working on right now is intimately tied to the music I’m doing – kind of conceptual films that will feature original music as well as more traditional

music videos. I’m really inspired by a lot of early experimental cinema: Maya Deren, Man Ray, kind of pre-film industry cinema. Alejandro Jodorowsky is another favorite of mine. It sounds like Duke is almost a half visual, half musical project. How do you go about making the videos? Do you have a lot of outside help either conceptually or in the editing process? Or is it your baby start to finish? I’m very interested in integrating lots of different mediums into the stuff I’m doing, so Duke Chevalier isn’t really a band in the

traditional sense, but something maybe a little more expansive, if that makes any sense. I guess I kind of have the role of artistic director or something. I am pretty hands-on when it comes to conceptualizing, actual filming and producing, editing, etcetera, but I have a close group of friends that I respect creatively whose opinions and talents are definitely acknowledged. A lot of these people are folks I’ve known and worked with for a long time and know me on a deep human level, know my quirks and my tastes, so it only seems natural to make these people a part of the process.


Definitely. And I know you mentioned before that you’re doing things a little differently when it comes to releasing music. Can you expand on your plan of releasing music on a “public interest” basis? So the operating model for releasing Duke Chevalier stuff is inspired by a lot of forces culturally, economically and ideologically. I’m going to make records and do art regardless of whether or not there is an outside incentive. I really enjoy making things for the sake of making things. I think art and music has a spiritual value, for lack of a better word, and is a very deep part of being a human being and a powerful force culturally. But there has been a large devaluation of arts, particularly music. You can see this in schools cutting art programs, the de-emphasis on arts in kind of a local sense, individuals’ reluctance to spend five bucks to see a show when they’re happy to spend the same amount on a latte. So along with this kind of widespread devaluation, there is also the incredible ease that has come with the internet to make records. Rather than really helping musicians find a larger audience, the internet in a lot of ways has become a boneyard for great records made with the ethos that “if we build it, they will come.” So with Duke Chevalier I want to know that people are engaged by the stuff I’m working on, and this is incredibly easy. I can go on SoundCloud or something and see how many people listened to a song, or a whole host of other ways that I can very personally gauge peoples’ interest. I don’t want to put the energy into putting out a record to the public unless there is a real demand for me to put a record out. Making records is hard work and still quite costly, even with all the advances that have been made with technology to produce and distribute music. I’d guess that the average band puts the same amount of time into making a full-length LP as da Vinci did into painting the Mona Lisa and yet bands are expected to almost give away their work or, even worse, their work is largely ignored. It’s a weird-ass model to work off of. I’m kind of treating Duke Chevalier more like a visual artist would present their work to the public. That was really long-winded; sorry.

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Long-winded, but you delivered on the “quotable” statement. So with the way you release music you must approach promoting it differently as well. Like, I put out a record under my own name some years ago that I worked on for literally a whole year. I’m really proud of it (and) tried to go as full force as I could. I have boxes of CDs of it in my closet just collecting dust. I don’t want to make that mistake again.

Head over to Duke Chevalier’s Facebook to stay up to date on his videos, music and more

But, you know, if people aren’t kind of forced to listen to stuff these days or don’t feel a sense of ownership and responsibility in the whole process, they aren’t going to get into it. I don’t blame them. One thing that I’d really like is for people to have a sense of ownership of the stuff that I make, that they were directly responsible for it. Like they commissioned me to make it for them. That’s what I hope will come from all this nonsense. Interesting. So then what is your opinion on sites like Kickstarter? Or just any form of crowd sourcing? Is that something you’d consider trying? I like it in theory, (but) haven’t really explored it personally with anything I’ve done. Especially now with this Duke Chevalier stuff, I’m kind of in a unique position where it costs me very little, other than just my time to record, mix and release stuff (digitally), so at this point I have no real need to raise funds for anything. I’m pretty content to just make my music available online for the time being considering that’s how most people listen to music. So then wanting people to feel some sense of ownership isn’t so much a financial ownership – like “this record was made because I pledged $10” – but rather a personal connection knowing they’ve followed you since you released the first song or video? Yeah! I mean both things are good to me, but I like personal connection. It’s something that is becoming rarer and rarer. Like I’d seriously like to make a record for one person where they’d own the only recording of it in existence. Like if someone paid me, like, $20 grand to make a record and have it pressed in ivory or jade or some other rare substance, then destroy the master tapes, that would be the most badass thing I could imagine. And that’s basically what painters do, you know? That’s some serious personal connection. THAT’S the dream!

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RIGHT!?


Artist spotlight

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he guys in Nude and True are low-maintenance perfectionists in a way. It may sound like a contradiction, but this indie rock trio based out of Chico, Calif. don’t have any glamorous plans for the one-year anniversary of their stellar debut EP (they’ll “probably just go out to dinner.”) and with the water heater and the laundry machines in their apartment broken down they “are currently just a bunch of dirt balls,” according to vocalist/guitarist Seth Prinz. However, recording their five-song EP with Dryw Owens (From Indian Lakes, Consider The Thief, Culprit) was when the perfection side came out -- mostly in part to Owens’ attention to detail. “The day we got (to the studio, Dryw) left and picked up a really nice hammered-brass Gretsch snare drum and it felt like he completed the kit,” said Prinz. “That’s how he works. He’s a perfectionist. I’ve recorded our songs before and I can not even touch his level of expertise. We worked together on getting the perfect tones, sometimes even tweaking a knob every five minutes.” Yet even before working with Owens the band spent four months writing, demoing and practicing the songs, assuring everything would go smoothly. “I probably spent the most time on the last chorus of “Get Lost” because there are a lot of things going on,” Prinz said. “Every instrument is doing something different and it has the most harmonies.” But the studio and the practice space are a far cry from the football stadiums the men in Prinz’s family have traditionally spent so much time in. “I played football all four years of high school, so I never really quit,” he said. “Even though my dad and my brothers all went on to coach football, I was too small to play in college. Music was always my priority, so once I graduated I’ve since spent all of my time doing that.” Now the priority is their upcoming full-length, which Prinz said the band is currently busy writing. “(We) will be incorporating a lot of new songs in our live sets,” he said. “We’ll be trying to play out and grow as much as we can and continue to move the band forward.”

Nude True and

If you’re not heading over to their facebook to download “Nude and true,” you’re wrong

Story by Alisha Kirby

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Check out the whole photo set online @ sacunplugged.com

Band: o’Brother Venue: Harlow’s Sacramento, CA Photos by: Allen Dubnikov

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I Knew Josh Before He Got Famous The Five Reasons Touring in a Band Isn’t Your Dream

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pecifically, I am talking about your average local band who thinks it is time they left the confines of their local scene and traveled around the country, increasing their fan base and becoming the new buzzed-about band in their scene. Admittedly, I’ve had a blast on the tours I’ve been on and many bands I know call touring some of the best times they’ve ever had, but there are dark times of touring that are always left out of the conversation. Let’s dive in, shall we?   1. You’re your own roadie and security. Loading gear is tedious and exhausting. It’s the last thing everybody wants to do after playing and you do it every single time you play. Recently, especially in my city of Chicago, there has been a great increase in bands getting robbed of personal belongings and equipment. Only truly lucky bands escape the wrath of crime, but since most bands act as their own security there are numerous situations where their gear is unprotected and in danger.  2. You have to take time off from your job, and you’re probably not making much money -- if any -- on tour. Most band members have a revolving door of day jobs that they hold onto just until the next tour. The occasional week or two off

from a job is acceptable, but many jobs don’t take too kindly when their employees take off for months. Aside from the fact that most bands find it hard enough to sell merchandise and CDs on tour, gas and food is expensive and many touring bands cannot command enough support to earn much of a guarantee from promoters. Many bands are lucky just to break even on tour, and that’s not counting the lost wages from not being at their day jobs. 3. You lose the practice of good hygiene and good health. Many bands opt for sleeping in their vehicles or the charity and kindness of people who offer up their place for the night. Sometimes that means food and a couch. Often it means a concrete floor and a couch cushion. Brushing your teeth becomes an afterthought and living truck stop to truck stop is required. You realize the benefits of the dollar menu for each fast food restaurant and, subsequently, how thin gas station toilet paper truly is. On top of that, shows are extremely loud. If you do not protect your ears, especially when playing nightly, you’ll ruin your hearing quickly. 4. Playing to small crowds and empty rooms is the norm. There is no local band that I know of who went on their first

tour and played to packed rooms every night. It’s hard to drum up support for touring bands nobody knows, especially on weekdays.   5. You will start to hate your best friends. It’s inevitable. When you pack several people into an enclosed space and force them to live together while surviving off of dollar menus, wearing the same rotation of sweat-caked clothing and functioning off of an extreme case of sleep depravity, it starts to wear on them. Eventually something’s got to break and unfortunately, the only people around are your fans and your friends. I’ve seen the demise of many bands as a direct result from tours. Sometimes it’s just one or two members, sometimes it’s the end of the outfit altogether, but let it be known that tours can break even the tightest knit friendships. Other from that, and a few little snags like equipment breaking, transportation breaking, the crazy people you meet and the possibility of death, there are only positives. Have fun, kids.

Cheers, Josh Jurss

April.2014.unplugged.17


Album Reviews

Fireworks “Oh, common life”

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Foster The people “Supermodel”

La Dispute “Rooms of the house”

To me, “Oh, Common Life” is like opening that childhood gift you always wanted. It’s everything I wanted it to be. In true Fireworks fashion, the album kicks off with a mid-tempo, melody-driven tune, “Glowing Crosses,” which features a short but lovely organ bridge and just enough subtle tambourine to get you through your day. Songs like “Woods” and “The Only Thing That Haunts This House is Me” are completely guitar-driven, which is completely embraced as a break from much of the rest of the album which seems determined to prove the driving forces of rhythm. Lyrically, I feel this is some of the band’s strongest work yet. The metaphors are more concrete than those on “Gospel” and the themes are much more defined than in previous releases. There are very few songs in their catalogue that, to me, are as heartfelt and earnest as “Run Brother Run.” There are issues found throughout this album. Most notably, there is no anthemic sing-a-long on this record. There’s no “Detroit” or “The Wild Bunch” equivalent that I can see myself singing along with until my voice gives out and that’s disappointing. I also hope this album doesn’t become what those childhood gifts did: discarded relics of past interests that stay interesting for a day, maybe a couple weeks, but then the novelty wears off and you forget about it. For now it’s kept growing on me, and I truly believe that next year I’ll find myself saying that this record is the band’s finest release to date. Also, the riff in “Bed Sores” is totally just the chicken dance. Deal with it.

Many writers and critics have talked about the giant stumbling block that is the sophomore album. On one hand, bands have pressure from the record label wanting them to make an album full of radio-ready songs that have the catchiest hooks (before the deadline). On the other hand, they have pressure from fans to continue making the same music from their debut. With both sides breathing down their necks, watching the band’s every move, the internal want to make music that makes them happy and satisfied is an ongoing struggle that some of us might never get the chance to understand. While it seems like Foster The People’s “Supermodel” isn’t seeing the same success as their debut, it’s still a great album. And although some may argue that this is a “slump” now, in a few weeks and after a second chance opinions might change. The album is filled with familiar Mark Foster melodies and introduces a darker side to the band, musically and lyrically. They decided to cut a lot of the digital sounds and aspects heard in their debut “Torches” and focused more on real instruments, making them sound more like a band and less like a one-man show. If you decide to give this album the chance it rightfully deserves, go in knowing that this is not the same band, but an evolved form of Foster The People. If you still want to hear the same energy from their debut, try listening to “Are You What You Want To Be?” and “Best Friends.” If you want to hear a totally new side to this band, check out the acousticbased songs “Fire Escape” and “Goats In Trees.”

La Dispute doesn’t just write music. The quintet out of Grand Rapids, Mich. illustrates quite vividly the harshness life has to offer everyone through imagery of storms, bridge collapses or falling through ice. They detail the small moments of watching someone you love getting ready or making coffee in the morning, the pleasant things that seem so devoid of meaning at the time. “Rooms of the House” is cohesive musically and lyrically, but that’s nothing new. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer’s poetic delivery, guitarists Chad MorganSterenberg and Kevin Whittemore’s perfectly interlaced riffs, and the force with which the rhythm section of bassist Adam Vass and drummer Brad Vander Lugt come at you is all expected. What’s new is how much the band’s melodic side has taken over -- how much more Dreyer sings or speaks than yells -- and how well it all works for the most part. When they pull back in songs such as “Woman (In Mirror)” or “Objects In Space” it creates so much tension. However, that same effect isn’t present on either “35” or “The Child We Lost 1963” which, while both are great songs, feel like the less emotional versions of “King Park” or “I See Everything” off the band’s last album. La Dispute’s success has come from how they’ve continued to write and play exactly what they want. The difference this time around is how much more accessible “Rooms of the House” may be with its shorter length and more poppy aspects. Prepare now for the bigger audiences that are sure to be at their shows from here on out.

By Josh Jurss

By Steven Condemarin

By Alisha Kirby

18.unplugged.April.2014


nt reviews throughout the month!

Album Reviews

Nightmares /Banquests

Pharrell

Wild ones

“G i r l”

“keep it safe”

I really enjoy the idea of a split LP rather than bands releasing a split EP. It gives both bands a chance to stretch out and get comfortable. I’ve reviewed both of Banquets’ full-length albums and haven’t ever been disappointed by a single song. Let’s just say I think they’re so much better the more you hear, and now I can say the same of Nightmares For A Week. I hadn’t listened to Nightmares before this and I realize now that I’ve been missing out. Their blend of straightforward rock (“Canadian Tuxedo”), country twang (“Dead Will Stay”) and folky undertones (“Up To Mountain Heights”) are perfect for the impending spring weather. If this EP were a lazy Sunday drive, Nightmares is getting to and ordering a burger from In-N-Out and Banquets is the excitement of driving home to eat it. Banquets kicks up the energy on their side with “Two Feet” and “The Engineer,” both of which are simply a louder, slightly more aggressive side to the band’s sound from their self-titled album. Both of the songs seem to go by quickly, but the band takes the time to expand on “My Moped Year” and it pays off. When it comes down to it, this is a record full of killer hooks and warm weather vibes. Roll your windows down and take a drive or just go walk off the stiffness in your legs from the winter with this playing and you’re sure to enjoy yourself.

It’s safe to say that 2013 was an amazing year for music. It was an even better year for the musically talented Pharrell Williams. With the release of “G I R L,” his hard work will continue to pay off in 2014. Not only was 2013 a great year for him, but his success might even be considered historic. In 2013, he accepted a Grammy for his role in Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange.” Robin Thicke released a Pharrell production, “Blurred Lines,” that topped the Hot 100. He fronted in Daft Punk’s multi-platinum “Get Lucky” which placed number two on the Hot 100. And as if all of that isn’t enough, it seemed like a lot of what he touched turned into metaphorical gold. Some of the Billboard’s 200 were: “Random Access Memories,” “Blurred Lines,” “Magna Carta...Holy Grail,” and “Beyoncé,” only to name the number ones. On top of all the greatness, he also released the song that has now dominated the Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks: “Happy.” “Happy” is thrown into the middle of the album as a pop-covered, radioready song that really compliments the rest of the album while adding some sort of variety to the mix. This sophomore album is nothing short of greatness, and while it features a bunch of different artists (including Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, JoJo, Alicia Keys and up-andcoming Tori Kelly), this album is enjoyable and tasteful in a very Pharrell kind of way.

It’s time to get your personal soundtrack to match the change in the weather. Luckily, Wild Ones timed the release of their debut perfectly, as “Keep It Safe” is the album you’re looking for during those days you end up napping in the grass. Wild Ones’ brand of synth pop mixed in with a bit of modern indie music is encapsulating and mature, yet it’s light and airy and doesn’t seem like a chore to listen to in its entirety. Nothing gets stale and nothing is too out there for the group. The vocals are the perfect mix of graceful, sweet and demanding. Synth, bass and drums all come together to form these melodies that are completely danceable and accessible while being complicated enough to satisfy music snobs everywhere. Something about their music has this attitude you’d expect from stereotypical indie douchebags but is more than balanced out with this sort of kindness and joy that this entire album conveys. According to the band’s bio, “Keep It Safe” almost never came to be. Wild Ones were hit with different disasters and emergencies one after the other and it almost became too much for them to bear. Maybe the odd feeling of satisfaction you get once you play the album all the way through comes from knowing this about the band and this release. The fact that we all almost missed out on this release entirely makes it immensely satisfying.

By Alisha Kirby

By Steven Condemarin

By Daniel Romandia

April.2014.unplugged.19


Feature Photos By Allen Dubnikov of Allen Daniel Photography Go check out his work!

Check out all the whole photo sets online @ sacunplugged.com


Unplugged Magazine April 2014 (#16)