in this issue page 4
favorite cassette releases of 2014 so far justin green lists his favorite analog releases of the year
the latest from loomis ben houck reviews the newest ep form the chicago band
audio visuals: episode 001 laurent hrybyk illustrates a new song by alligator indian
jawbreaker reunion is the soundtrack of your life mary luncsford talks about the new lp from jawbreaker reunion
an interview with ava luna the miscreant asks carlos hernandez some questions
one summer last fall l.x. nin shares a story about reclaiming her identity through music
do you remember the jamc? olivia cellamare discusses psychocandy
songs of summer caitlin lytle lists the song to define this season of her life
an ode to pop punk reina shinohara talks about what this genre means to her
help the aged nick haines tells the tale of getting age discriminated at a house show
a conversation with daniel klag cassandra baim speaks to the artist about his latest record, seeking out new bands, and recording ambient music
the four ways lyrics have influenced my life colleen bidwill talks about life lessons sheâ€™s learned in song
let me tell you about some music tyler plyem talks about records by NEGOTO and tricot
sexy soul oldies jazz adam offers up a feel good playlist
different kind of racket gauraa shekhar discusses a tennis starâ€™s foray into pop
photos from the miscreant 50th issue party pix from last monthâ€™s festivities
FAVORITE CASSETTE RELEASES OF 2014 SO FAR by justin green
2014 is shaping up to be another great year for increasingly excellent music from smaller boutique labels, and some of my personal favorites thus far this year were released on tape. Tapes have been “coming back” for a while now, and it thankfully looks like they are here to stay. Here are three very different albums that have come out this year on cassette, along with a very short introduction to each of the very different record labels that helped bring them to life. Fleeting Youth Records is based in Austin and specializes in grungy garage, pop, and alternative tunes. They are the newest of the three, but already going strong with an impressive number of releases in their short lifespan and a continuous stream of glowing reviews. Tranquility Tapes out of Brooklyn is hellbent on chilling you out. They’ve been around for several years now and have amassed a steady following of admirers of experimental and ambient music. Their seasonal batch releases of four tapes usually come and go faster than the McRib, but you can occasionally find one or two tapes creeping around distribution websites like Experimedia and Tomentosa. Godmode, also out of Brooklyn, has a diverse roster that is mostly all produced in-house, along with the cassettes themselves. Their fiercely homespun aesthetic gives them a unifying identity despite the variety of genres they’re dabbling in, and having just introduced a whole new slew of artists and bands with their early 2014 compilation, they are poised for a very big year. The titles listed below are all amazing releases regardless of format but the cassette seems perfectly suited to each one. They are engrossing listens and each of them is well worth the tiny price tag.
Passenger Peru - Self/Titled (Fleeting Youth Records) – This is the debut album from Passenger Peru, a raw capsule of rock-infused stellar pop from a duo of multi-instrumentalists, Justin Stivers and Justin Gonzales. This tape is packed full with excellent fuzzed out tunes that are awash in memorable guitars and catchy melodies that occasionally take a turn towards primal (see “Tiger Lily” and “Life and Death of a Band” for example). Standout tracks like “Heavy Drugs” showcase incredibly dynamic production and a sophisticated palette, wrestling aspects of folk, pop, and psych music into a unified, occasionally messy blend of indie rock. This album
is excellent from start to finish, and goes well with a beer at the end of a long workday, played very very loud.
Glass House - Keeping to the Void (Tranquility Tapes) – Tranquility Tapes specializes in experimental music and no matter what you pick up from them, you can pretty much expect an enjoyable experience. One of their recent releases has really stuck with me, but not for its catchy riffs or melodies as with the tape mentioned above. Keeping to the Void is a 40+ minute set of deep and soothing soundscapes from the Brooklyn/Philly duo Glass House that invite you in, but never really stand out. As the title of the release suggests, Ian Collier and Eric Brannon stick with a somewhat vague and open-ended approach to these recordings, and by “keeping to the void” they allow the listener to enjoy and imagine as they will, free of suggestion or influence outside of the cinematic but distant mix of sounds, both found and created. This tape is perfect for honing in or zoning out, or for an inspiring soundtrack while you make a vision board with magazine cutouts. Inhale, exhale.
Fasano - The Factory (Godmode) – Fasano is Matty Fasano, a Brooklyn songwriter that I first heard on last year’s The Barn, a short collection of tender pop songs recorded at The Silent Barn with mostly just his voice and a guitar. On this 16-track follow-up, Fasano keeps the same lo-fi pop dynamic of his first release but widens the range with drums and keys (piano is his first instrument) and enhanced production despite the fact that everything was apparently tracked with just a built-in Macbook microphone. His voice is occasionally delicate and haunting and other times powerful, but the melodies are swirling and beautiful throughout. These are pop songs laid bare and raw, rather than polished and shining from the cold processing of a sterile studio. This tape will be a coveted item in time, and is great for enjoying on a late Sunday morning with your coffee or a much-needed recuperative bloody mary.
THE LATEST FROM LOOMIS by ben houck
Chicago-based indie rock outfit Loomis is starting off as a band differently. They aren’t roadtesting material first. They aren’t sorry for ridiculous guitar solos on a five track Straight Shooters EP. Their sound simply isn’t about starting slow or apologizing. They are dropping a debut EP that demands a tour right out of the womb. The band is composed of Soren Christensen on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Lance Hueston provides the lead/texture guitar, Bart Brylak on bass, and Alvin Varghese on drums. The band’s musical backgrounds differ as do the noticeable influences from Circa Survive’s hairpin turn distorted songwriting to Andrew Bird’s effortless folk vocals and bright simple patterns. The getting from one end of the spectrum to the other is passionate, demanding, and mesmerizing. It changes gears effortlessly but with the effect of waking up on the opposite coast in the coarse of a track. By the end of the diverse record you feel as if you were the pinball plane on its way across a musical nation. It’s mesmerizing albeit demanding. “Layers,” “Tell My Martyrs,” “The Leap,” “Last Call,” and “Straight Shooters” are all so different that it becomes a definitive characteristic of Loomis’ sound. To keep changing gears effortlessly and let you play catch up as the EP pulls away. Guitars are busy, the vocals are dynamic, and the rhythm section jumps in and out of the pocket to get noticed but always in time. Like I said, no apologies. Pleasant acoustic guitars with nice arpeggios over the top with brushes on symbols and folk styled vocals quickly changes to a punk/grunge style riffs and building and rhythm back in to big beautiful alternative rock chords with just the right amount of distortion. Then a harmonica and acoustic strumming build into a choral that leads to a shred guitar solo. The strumming of folky chords with soothed falsetto juxtaposed next to scratchy howling and distortion. Then there are the lyrics and message to contend with beyond the musicality. The first verse of “Last Call:” “Minivans and whiskey, catalyze the night. Raise two fingers, a white flag, waving like lost/last goodbyes.” Classic in theme, well written and true and influenced by authors era and surroundings. This is what makes Loomis’ start exciting. Who knows where they will go, but it sure is exciting to listen to them get there. Check them out gigging in the Midwest. facebook.com/loomischicago SoundCloud.com/loomischicago
This issue is brought to you by little kicks.
Single of the
This issue’s single of the week comes from our cover babes’ Ava Luna’s latest record Electric Balloon. “PRPL” is a totally arresting stand out from this record, and totally captures you with a powerful, seductive back beat and beautiful, soaring vocals. This song is simply irresistible. 8
JAWBREAKER REUNION IS THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE by mary luncsford
When I first listened to Jawbreaker Reunion’s new album, Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club, I was reminded of all the time I spent hanging out in my room—all those times in high school when I’d dance around in my pjs and feel misunderstood by everyone except the band I was listening to. Maybe I’d scribble an angsty poem in my journal or just lie on my bed staring at the ceiling. Luthern Sisterhood Gun Club (LSGC) takes me right back to that frame of mind, and I love the trip. The album is ten songs all under three minutes apiece. Though it’s a quick listen, LSGC is full of great moments. “Empire” opens the album with lilting vocals that pick up into the fast beat that threads the whole LP together. While a lot of the songs have kitschy titles like “Laughing Alone Eating a Salad” and “Cute Baby Shitz,” the themes are really relatable. Take “Straightedge Revenge,” which is all about not wanting to go out and get wasted. “I wish that I wasn’t afraid of parties.” Since I just completed my first year of college at a major party school, I had to laugh at how familiar these lyrics are. Jawbreaker Reunion--made up of Bella Mazzetti, Lily Mastrodimos, Andrea Szegedy-Maszak and Thom Delaney—takes its name from the emo/punk trailblazers, but this band’s approach is a bit more tongue-in-cheek. They sound similar to The Tuts and some of Kate Nash’s most recent projects. Jawbreaker Reunion’s style is twee and punk and a lot of fun. LSGC is full of great dancing tunes, and the whole thing is topped off with the glittering “Jeggings.” It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love after listening to this track. This album covers a lot of ground in frame of these ten songs. It’s rosy while still being frank. It’s uplifting and packed with little bits of insight. Jawbreaker Reunion has been getting some buzz lately, and their debut album makes it clear that the attention is well-deserved.
The Miscreant: How did you all meet? When did you start performing as Ava Luna? Carlos Hernandez: I started using the name Ava Luna for my bedroom recordings when I was a teenager. Over the years band members have come and gone. Ethan and Felicia and I actually all went to high school together in Manhattan. Julian and Becca are from Boston, we met through mutual friends. The Miscreant: Some of you have taken on new roles in the band recently – talk a little bit about how the band is structured now and how that came about. Carlos: A few years ago I had a concept for a band, where the only instruments would be drums and a cheap synthesizer, and the rest of the space would be filled up with vocal harmonies. So at first I wrote all of the parts for everyone to play, and people would come in and fill the roles. But as we played together for a long time, the project gradually took on its own life, and now I’m learning about collaboration. The writing process has opened up a great deal. Now our songs really run the spectrum from meticulous composition on one hand to absolutely free improvisation on the other, and it’s been really fun trying to reconcile, and navigate all the shades in between. The Miscreant: In what ways has your writing process changed since reorganizing the band? How did the role of vocals change? Carlos: In the past, the vocals were very much treated as an instrument. I had been fixated on girl groups, reading a bit about the history and sociology. There’s an interesting book, “Girl Groups, Girl Culture” which is a sort of feminist analysis of the form. I grew up listening to a lot of old soul music, and the vocals and noise synth idea was really my most overt, naked attempt at building a sound that was somehow a basement deconstruction of that aesthetic. From there, we literally just added instruments one by one: a casio keyboard, then a bass, then a guitar, then a second guitar. You can hear, each of our records has an extra instrument that the previous one didn’t! The vocals are still important, but they’ve been freed -- I feel like the harmonies are now one of many colors, rather than being so structural. Which is really nice. It’s like letting the bird out of the cage. The Miscreant: Electric Balloon shows a lot of growth not only in each member, but also in instrumentation. How did moving more towards guitars change affect the kind of songs you all write? Carlos: I actually feel like it hasn’t really affected the process all that much. I kind of see every instrument as just a noise machine. I’m not a particularly good guitarist, nor do I really care to be -- for me it’s just about using whatever tool you’ve got, be it a guitar or a drum or what,
to fill a need. I’m more interested in the space between instruments, the sonic architecture, the gestures and language. The Miscreant: To me, this record sounds like a full fleshed-out, beautiful story – like a deep breath. What are you most proud of with Electric Balloon? What does this mile marker mean for the band? Carlos: Mostly I’m proud of the process. It’s very refreshing, and affirming, that it can be truly fun to work on music. I don’t think there was any moment of making Electric Balloon that was blocked, or forced, or pummeled into the ground. In a way, I feel like all of our albums have issues, or problems to solve. I’m proud that we were able to take a step forward and learn by doing, and that now we can push even further on the next album. The Miscreant: How have different parts of New York, Brooklyn, the neighborhoods around you inspired Ava Luna’s music? Specifically on this record? Carlos: So many. I’ve lived in New York my entire life, and I feel like each neighborhood I spend time in opens up new pathways. I love wandering around by foot, most of my writing and mental tinkering gets done during walks. Electric Balloon finds me, at various times, in Flushing, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn Heights. But in the case of Electric Balloon in particular, it was very rooted in the countryside of Franklin, NY, which is where the bulk of it was recorded. Snow-covered fields, trails through woods, dirt paths and pines... The Miscreant: Talk about recording this record – what spaces did you choose to put Electric Balloon together? What took you to Miami? Carlos: Our good friend Max Kagan generously offered his family’s house in Franklin, NY. They often open it up to artists and musicians, residency-style. So we took our mics and recording equipment up there and went to town. We actually did the album in two different two week sessions up there. The initial two weeks we recorded mostly in the living room by the roaring fire. The second two weeks we moved to an small old barn adjacent to the house and did a lot of self editing and cleaning up--basic finishing of structures and whatnot. Then we took the tracks home to our studio at the Silent Barn and put final touches on.. Then, finally, Felicia’s father Jimmy Douglass, who is actually a renowned engineer, invited us down to his studio in Miami to mix. So we piled in the van and drove down. It was pretty funny to have our very vibey home recordings, which were made in a wintry house up North, be mixed in an outrageously nice studio surrounded by palm trees. Two extremes. The Miscreant: Talk a bit about the studio at Silent Barn – when did you start using the space? How did you get involved?
Carlos: We set up a studio in the Silent Barn in the beginning of 2013, and continue to run it now. We call it Gravesend Recordings. Silent Barn is an amazing community, and used to play and hang out all the time at the original Silent Barn in Ridgewood. They offered us a huge room, and we built up this studio, and we’re in there all the time working with bands. Such a pleasure to get to work with people I admire, helping them to realize their own music. The Miscreant: What are other spaces and artistic projects in New York that you all are a part of? Carlos: I used to do a bit of work with Clocktower Gallery. Julian will often work sound at Muchmore’s and here and there. We play shows all the time at mainstay DIY spots like Shea, and have seen off so many spaces that shuttered -- Big Snow, 285 Kent, old Silent Barn. Becca has an amazing project called Master Cactus, which is a cassette magazine of experimental audio recordings of all stripes. She’s also a performance artist, working on the fringes of avantgarde stand-up comedy. Felicia makes solo music and performs all over. I’m also helping set up a music school, doing music lessons and classes for neighborhood kids. The Miscreant: Do you all have any major tour plans for the summer? What do the coming months have in store? Carlos: This summer we’ve got a couple really amazing shows that I’m psyched for, and then we’re doing another US tour in September. The Miscreant: Are you currently writing your next record? Can you give us any smoldering details? Carlos: Yup. It’s like a bunch of little water glasses. Some of them hold a lot of water and some hold a little, and some hold mixed drinks and some don’t have any liquid in them at all, more like those layers of colored sand you can get at Coney Island. But they’re sitting on a sturdy shelf, the kind you might not even notice until you reach for a glass and your hand brushes against the lacquer. Maybe that’s too obtuse, but it’s bad luck to talk about work in progress. I’m excited. We’re inventing new ways to sing. Our hands are steady. The Miscreant: What would you call this new chapter of Ava Luna’s biography? Carlos: The looming threat of adulthood...
ONE SUMMER LAST FALL by l.x. nin
I remember the night I told my best friend that music writing was stupid. It was a hot August night in Allston, Massachusetts. She was writing a cover story about Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and I was freaking the fuck out. Summer of 2011 was the summer we both graduated from journalism school. As befitting recent graduates, we were both going through existential meltdowns. Throughout college, we both took baby steps, usually together, in the direction of music journalism: we co-hosted a late night college radio show, we co-wrote a music blog, we each picked up internships at local alt-weeklies. Music was how we became friends – we went to shows together, we worshipped at the lyrical altars of morose middle-aged sad dad songwriters – Craig Finn, Matt Berninger, John Darnielle, Paul Westerberg. Music had always been a thing that we loved. Now it was becoming a thing we could maybe build careers around. But it didn’t feel quite right. As I stood in her doorway, sweating in the unventilated hallway that separated her room from mine, I told her that music writing was stupid. I told her that it was downright irresponsible to spend time and effort on music writing when there were so many terrible things in the world that we could be putting our energy towards. I told her that the whole music industry was totally fucked, that it was just a circle jerk of cultural capital and cred-based one-upsmanship dominated by selfcongratulatory white men. I told her it was classist and hollow. I told her that there had to be a better use for words than to describe guitar sounds. And when it was clear that I had really hurt her, I jumped on my bike and took off down Harvard Ave. Biking usually helped me clear my head, but this time it wasn’t working. I took a detour from my usual Jamaica-Plain-bound route and headed instead towards Roxbury, to meet up with a guy I had been seeing. He met me at a corner and we walked up to a park by his house. Hanging out was always easy - we drank whiskey, lay on the damp summer grass, and talked at length about music, which was the common thread between our otherwise disparate lives. I had grown up listening to early aughts pop-punk and was then spending most of my nights photographing live music for a local alt-weekly. He had grown up listening to nineties hip-hop and was then working in hip-hop. Our lives followed similar trajectories, though, within Boston’s highly genre-segregated music landscape, we belonged to wholly different tribes. Somehow, that night, we got to talking about the Warped Tour. I told him about how stoked I had been to see Rise Against and NOFX, how the first circle pit I had ever seen was at an afternoon Billy Talent set. He told me that the Warped Tour had a lot of hip-hop roots, and back in the day it was actually pretty hip-hop heavy – Ice T, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem. I remembered that the first hip-hop artists I ever got into in a big way were Atmosphere and Sage Francis, both of which came to me via a Warped Tour compilation. “Maybe the Warped Tour was actually a sort of utopia,” I joked, referencing the ridiculous West Side Story nature of our subcultural affiliations. “The only place where hip-hop and punk could live
in harmony.” He widened his eyes in mock confusion. “But what about NU-METAL?” -Of course, beyond the Billboard charts, hip-hop and punk weren’t actually that different from each other. The biggest appeal of punk, for me, had always been the politics. Cliché as it is, listening to bands like the Clash, Anti-Flag, and Bad Religion was my gateway to learning about globalization, class inequality, and anti-corporate activism long before college classes could fill in the details. Even before I caught on to the content, I was won over by the politics of how the music was made. Punk felt inherently working class – imperfectly produced but passionate, anthemic and ritual-oriented in a way that made it easy to build communities of practice, which could then be developed into communities of resistance. Hip-hop had a similarly unfuckwithable legacy of being a medium for resistance and cultural affirmation. It was cool to hear about how inspiring it was to grow up in the nineties and first hear Dead Prez, N.W.A, Wu Tang and Public Enemy bring things like police brutality, government negligence, and drugs destroying communities into mainstream discourse. It was even cooler to learn about new artists who were still doing that work - something I didn’t hear about from most otherwise omnivorous Boston music people, both because hip-hop’s takeover of popdom still made it suspect in rockist alt circles, and because straight-up racism. Both genres were vehicles for marginalized populations to speak out and retaliate against major injustices as well as daily microaggressions. They weren’t afraid to be ugly, and as a result, produced art that spit in the face of the pristine veneer of polite professional society. This was why the two of us got along so well, why hanging out with him mitigated the unease I felt when hanging out with my classmates. Boston – racist, segregated, college-educated, upwardly mobile, generally wealthy Boston – embodied a society that needed shaking up. Whenever I felt anxious about assimilating into that culture, it was reassuring to finally have someone else who could call bullshit. --Unfortunately, it wasn’t all whiskey and nu metal jokes. Where our music tribes fell in line on class issues, they differed wildly when it came to gender. I remember one night I was hanging out with him and his buddies, when they casually started singing “Ain’t No Fun.” I used have no problem liking songs despite their fucked up lyrical content, would even sing along as if to demonstrate they held no power over me, but when they got to Nate Dogg’s verse, I felt physically sick “When I met you last night baby / before you opened up your gap / I had respect for you lady / but now I take it all back.” I wanted to throw up. He didn’t understand why I was so upset. Later, I tried to explain how the song was an example of slut shaming, why slut shaming was
problematic, how sexual double standards hurt women and men alike and created inauthentic, manipulative relationships. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him how gross it made me feel to hear a person I was physically and emotionally involved with sing about losing respect for a woman after sleeping with her. I didn’t mention that I felt unsafe hanging out with a group of grown men while they sang about passing a woman around to their buddies, fucking her because they didn’t give a fuck about her. My anger seemed to genuinely take him by surprise. It didn’t seem like anyone had ever raised those concerns to him before. From then on, whenever we hung out, he mostly stuck to singing Lauryn Hill songs. -So it went. Hanging out was easy most of the time, except that he’d always say things like “well, but, you’re a girl…” and “sure, but you know girls don’t…” guessing at how I would respond to situations by working off of a cartoon model of gender. I had no idea what a girl was or did. I just wanted to be treated like myself. But whenever I suggested that relating to people in a rigidly gendered way was ridiculous, I felt like I was crazy, or just really naïve. Then, in the spring, three albums came out that affirmed my suspicions that another world was possible. EMA’s “Past Life Martyred Saints,” tUnE-yArDs’ “whokill,” and Wye Oak’s “Civilian.” Erika M Anderson, raw and devastating, sang “you were a goth in high school / you cut and fucked your arms up,” then admitted, “I have the same scars you see;” spoke to a sense of self harm and body horror and dysphoria that I hadn’t heard acknowledged musically in such a powerful way since Live Through This, snarled “what’s it like to be small town and gay” over waves of harsh noise. Merrill Garbus, rocking face paint and an Oakland mullet, mixed life-affirming (“You Yes You”) and sex-positive (“Powa”) songs with songs about gentrification and police violence (“My Country,” “Gangsta,” “Doorstep”). Jenn Wasner claimed power while acknowledging vulnerability, summarizing existential anxiety in one deft line: “madness seeking mastery.” Suddenly I had three angels on my shoulder communicating alternative narratives of how one could be. Here were three female-identified artists expressing their visions of being in the world, and not only were they radically different from any two-dimensional ideal, they were different from one another. They created images I could relate to, and even if I did not identify with them 100% of the time, they opened the door for even more images to be created. Meanwhile in real life, I was being reprimanded for not fitting an archetype that was created by people who did not share my history or my body or my experiences. It didn’t add up. --It was the summer of 2011 and, although I didn’t know it at the time, everything was about to explode. Boston’s first SlutWalk and first Smash It Dead Fest had just happened in May. Permanent Wave wouldn’t coalesce til the following summer, Rookie wouldn’t launch until September. Music writers had just barely begun to unearth riot grrrl, to call into question the underrepresentation of women in music. Le1f and Mykki hadn’t even dropped their first mixtapes yet, but in response to [the decidedly hetero] Lil B calling his album “I’m Gay,” XXL ran a piece called “Break It Down: Homophobia in Hip Hop” in their July/August issue which declared, under the guise of progress,
“while violence, misogyny and materialism may be with hip-hop for a long time, there are signs that the culture’s attitude toward gays may be changing.” As summer ended, so did that relationship, but less than a full month later I would find solidarity and resistance in so many other places. Soon I would be living with amazing people well-versed in Judy B and Jack Halberstam who would back up my intuitive critiques of gender policing with solid academic work. Soon I would be spending all my days at Occupy Boston, biking five deep in a leather-jacket-clad girlgang between Allston and Dewey Square, then spending all my nights trying to catch Speedy Ortiz and Parasol at basement punk shows or else dancing at queer nights where DJs gleefully dropped samples of a triumphant pre-Twitter-beef Azealia Banks proclaiming “I guess that cunt getting eaten.” I think about that summer a lot now. In 2014, we think nothing of merging music writing with cultural criticism. Pop critics have called out Miley for cultural appropriation, debated the merits and downfalls of bell hooks criticizing Beyonce, and are as eager to discuss racism, rape culture, and privilege as they are to Instagram pictures of their cats. It feels like the conversations that had then just started bubbling up in the feminist music press are finally shaping larger discourse both in the alt presses and the media at large. It’s not perfect. It fucks up a lot, as do we all. There is so much to learn and unlearn. I know now that hip-hop is not any more misogynist than sensitive ‘nice guy’ indie rock, or than the pseudoromantic martyrdom in the emo music I used to worship. I know that it’s not unusual for subcultures to replicate hegemonic structures of oppression. These conversations are so easy to find now, it becomes easy to forget how isolated and desperate I felt then. Three summers later, those artists have all simultaneously released new albums again. They are good albums. They are not life-changing. I no longer need them to be. Looking back on that night in particular, I can finally laugh at how ironic it was. I had told my friend that it was pointless to pay attention to music, but music was everything. Music was the dominant art form of the time, and so the prevailing medium for ideas to be exchanged and culture to be negotiated. The narratives transmitted through music culture were shaping our ideas of what was expected of us and what was permissible, and then helping to push those limits. Further, since music is marketed as a ‘young person medium,’ music writing and music-making has become the most accessible entry point to media production, and thus a Trojan horse for conversations of greater gravity. These conversations are so easy to find now, it becomes easy to forget that they still represent a minority opinion. Just because we can find successful female/queer/POC identified musicians doesn’t mean that everything is solved – even a quick glance at YouTube or Brooklyn Vegan comments shows how much hatred and violence they are up against every single day, which only goes to show how important this work is. Visibility is powerful. It is vital to keep claiming space, to represent the things we don’t see represented, to keep writing yourself into the world, to declare that you exist, to make space for others to exist as well.
DO YOU REMEBER THE JAMC? by olivia cellamare
Last week and also this Friday just gone I decided to treat myself to something I never thought I would. No, I haven’t bought myself several puppies (one day!) and no I haven’t sadly bought a record store. I bought tickets to see The Jesus And Mary Chain play Psychocandy in full. IN FULL. PSYCHOCANDY. Just let that sink in. This year is 30 years since the record came out, and although I was born just under 2 years after, the record is still a massive part of my life. To the extent that I listen to it every day still. I can’t remember the first time I heard Psychocandy but I remember feeling as if I had suddenly found this weird and loud world that not many allow themselves to be lured into. I’ve never been to a gig on my own before, but in November I’ll be going to three shows (two in London and one in Manchester) by myself to witness the record that changed my life and adapted my record collection, for the better. If it wasn’t for The Jesus And Mary Chain I may not have cared about some of the music I listen to. A lot of the bands I listen to have cited the Reid brothers as an influence at some point in their careers. If you type into Google bands that are like The Jesus And Mary Chain, you’ll get a bunch of bands ranging from The Pastels to Slowdive. Basically, you’ll get turned onto a bunch of bands that make you feel as if you’re in a trance or what to throw stuff out of your window. I live on the top floor, so I won’t be doing that. I think part of me went a bit nuts with the ticket buying because I never expected it to ever happen, and I think also since never sorting myself and seeing Lou Reed when I had the chance was a kick up the bum to actually do it. Of course Lou is always going to be the one person I wish I saw live, so my logic was to buy as many tickets as I could to see The Jesus And Mary Chain. I don’t know what to expect from these shows, and part of me is hoping Bobby turns up and plays the drums. Will the shows last half an hour and end in a riot like the good old days? I don’t care, I’m just happy I’ll be seeing the Reid brothers. Psychocandy is for me, the greatest debut record of all time. It’s loud, it’s brutal and it’s dark. Some would declare it as unlistenable but it was the soundtrack to so many lives 30 years ago, and it still is. It is a rambunctious record that permanently sounds like a motorcycle engine. It’s
got the songs you want to hear when you want to be left alone to when you’re in the midst of falling in love; it basically has everything you want from a record and more. When I listen to a record, I frequently compare it to how Psychocandy makes me feel. What I want from a record is that punch in the gut kind of feeling. Sure there are times where I want ethereal gems like Studio, Beach House and the like but sometimes you need that weird and raucous kind of sound. You need that something that just makes you go a bit nuts. I really don’t know what to expect from the Psychocandy shows, all I know is that it’s going to be special. I don’t feel bad for spending near enough £100 on tickets. My birthday is in November, the shows are in November. It’s important to treat yourself, which is what Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford taught me. Although I probably treat myself more than I should. But when it comes to your favourite band, you have to do it, don’t you. There will never be a band like The Jesus And Mary Chain, just like there will never be a record quite like Psychocandy. The band moved away from that sound proving that great bands never stay the same. In all its splendour, it truly is a brilliant and bold record that is unapologetic in its sound. They didn’t care if you didn’t like it, but those who love Psychocandy know exactly how important this record is. 30 years, 60 years; regardless it is always going to be the greatest record of all time. Go listen to it, go find your little underground.
SONGS OF SUMMER by caitlin lytle
Music plays such an important part defining all of the memorable points in life into one big long playlist. For me those memories lie heavily in the months between May and August, a time we call summer that every year calls for a new set of songs to comprise the playlist of my beach days, drives to internships and work, the years at summer camp, and the lazy lounging around with friends. Summer has been one of the most memorable parts of my year since I can remember. As children we define it with fun in the sun and high school with independence and late nights sitting around bonfires and first parties and in college a time to just be home. As I have become an adult, summer has become more work than play, but that just makes the playtime more special. Each summer I comprise a playlist to help me define those memories I associate with the season and add songs that remind me of certain moments come September. When the fall gets tough they are scrapbooks of memories to return to and reminisce about. Below I would like to share some of my all time favorite summer jams and well as some picks that have already helped me kick off this summer, which I have a feeling is going to be one of the best ones yet. 2010, Local Native “Airplanes”- In high school I played tennis...poorly. In an attempt to up my skills my parents sent me to summer camp three years in a row where I learned more about my self than the game, and is where I really started to shape my music taste. I had two friends from the east coast and we thought we were way cooler than the rest of the campers and played the most bizarre music. In 2010 they showed me Local Natives and it was love at first listen. To this day I can’t listen to them without thinking of staying up past bedtime and being anything but quiet during quiet hour. 2011, Gardens & Villa “Black Hills”- This was a big summer for me as my parents started letting me drive to LA by myself to attend shows and I attended my first ever festival, FYF, at the end of August. This was the summer of Foster the People where no one could get enough of “Pumped Up Kicks,” however when I saw them in concert all my eyes and ears were on the opener Gardens & Villa. To this day I still put it on when I drive along the beach or am sitting in the sand. 2013, Chappo “Come Home”- The summer after my first year of college was an eventful one. I was dumped, I started my two first internships in the music business and it was a time where I really made an effort to work on me for once. It was the first summer where “coming home” and not living in California all year was a big theme. When I first got home and heard Chappo sing the exact catch phrase that was defining my life at the time, it was my instant summer anthem, as cliché as this all sounds. 2014- This summer is still in the works but so far these are my choices to add to your summer playlist:
“I Wanna Get Better” – Bleachers “Water Fountain” – Tune-Yards “My Friend Has A Swimming Pool” – MAUSI The entire Opus Orange Balance EP
AN ODE TO POP PUNK by reina shinohara
Listening to pop punk feels kind of like being part of an exclusive club. Those of us who know the bands and songs, and went to the shows, are the lucky ones. We are the ones that turned to Taking Back Sunday when we were at a loss for words, who let Owl City and Never Shout Never define our emotions, and probably knew all the words to All Time Low songs. There’s an instant and undeniable connection with the people you meet, who listened to pop punk growing up. You’ll laugh about Cute Is What We Aim For, sing along to Blink-182, and they’ll get all of your song references. Thinking about it now, I think pop punk was probably the most important part of my adolescence. There’s something about pop punk music that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the honesty? The simplicity? The catchiness? Or maybe how no matter how many years go by, somehow I can still relate to the songs. Pop punk, by default, is one of those genres that requires that you care about the music. And in our society today, where it’s “uncool” to care too much, the popularity of pop punk bands are on the decline. I used to think I was too cool for pop punk until last month, when I saw All Time Low in a big warehouse with a bunch of teens and their parents. And it was possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I had this sort of… epiphany? And realized that though at first, I thought I only ironically listened to pop punk, maybe it was never ironic at all. People might scoff and say that pop punk isn’t real music and they might laugh at me for liking pop punk, but I can’t lie. The glory days of pop punk might be long gone, but I don’t think pop punk can ever die. There’s an exclusive club full of people who bond over the sole fact that they saw Metro Station on tour with All Time Low and Cobra Starship, and I think that’s really special. To anyone who spent their teen years feeling some kind of way to a soundtrack of pop punk songs, I think we’re lucky that the music existed and we didn’t take it for granted. I think it’s safe to say that pop punk is some of the best music of our generation.
HELP THE AGED by nick haines
It has happened. I have been age-discriminated against at a punk rock show. I thought it might come someday, knowing that long ago I devoted myself to an activity reserved mostly for young people. But even so, this was a rite of passage more noticeably painful than most I have endured. Maybe I shouldn’t have been there. It was a house show. More like a party for kids going to the local SUNY, but with bands. I am 32, a college teacher, probably the most ubiquitous and identifiable class of adult in these college students’ lives, but I didn’t think it obvious in sneakers and a hoodie. I was there to see a band I liked. That was enough, I thought. It looked a lot like a show that I would have played, like a million that I have played. Upon walking into the house, I noticed a packed bong in the living room, empty Tecate cans, band members jockeying for a later start time. Someone asked me if I was playing. I wasn’t. This was all familiar. What was unfamiliar was me. I’d FB messaged the venue’s page the day of the show to get the address, and, as with many house shows, I knew police infiltration was a nontrivial concern for the kids running shit here. After passing a kind of indie-cred interrogation/test (Actual question: “can you tell me how you found out about us and a little bit about your appreciation of/involvement w diy music?”) (I’m in a couple bands and run a label, used to help put on shows myself, have been part of the local scene in some capacity since 1995), the street and house number were bestowed upon me. A close friend/bandmate/life partner/fellow geezer and I found the house after walking several blocks in combat with the cold so as not to draw attention to the venue by parking near it. We talked about the absurdity this can sometimes become, remembering a show we played in Buffalo years back that was supposed to be hush-hush, and it was, except for the five or so vans out in the street all wanting to back into the driveway at the same time and the nascent and expanding rager out in the backyard. This one seemed quiet except for three people sharing a one-hitter by the door. They were kind, told us where to enter. One of the more irritating things to consider about my eventual denial-of-entry by the person running the door is that she must have perceived me as an officer of the law or some other kind of potential threat to their venue/house. As someone who wanted to shut this shit down. This was clear on her face as I stood there getting questioned. How did I find out about the show? Facebook. Ok, bad answer. Who was I there to see? Well, that was easy--I listed off a couple. Did I know anyone who would be coming to vouch for me? Yes, but weirdly, I’d met the one person I knew only once in person, briefly. It was somebody from one of the bands. Ok, this was a very bad answer. It’s easy to find what bands are playing and band members’ names. And all from Facebook. But I’m not used to being asked these kinds of questions while standing
at the entrance of a show, cash in hand. And then, the inevitable: “How old are you?” “Thirty,” I lied. My friend was more honest; he said thirty-five, which incidentally was not only the truth but also, you might notice, what happens to be just beyond the exact upper cusp of the much-used 18-34 demographic age range. She said, “Well, this is more of a student event.” Which I knew was at least partial bullshit. It was a show. She told us to wait in the hallway until the person I’d mentioned showed up. Time warped for a bit; thirty seconds dilated to thirty minutes. Everything had a hazy glow. I was stunned. I thought of Jarvis Cocker. I considered hitting a one-hitter but didn’t want to assume it was ok, despite the packed bong I was staring it. This is how unbearably unassuming I can
be. Conversations arose with a few people who were mulling around, but at this point I was so disillusioned and shocked I couldn’t really hold a conversation. I stood there silent and feeling insecure and very awkward, HS lunch table style. I felt like I should do something; I knew arguing my way in would probably be a bad choice. What could be gained by arguing? I’d probably just piss people off and make them not want to let us in, ever. So my friend and I waited, and eventually decided we’d come back later. Now, perhaps if I weren’t a total loser, I would have nudged my way in, started a conversation about music, somehow tried to convince them, but as it often happens, once I’ve been judged, I consider it final. People’s opinions of me are their own business. My friend and I went to a bar where people our age drink $8 beers poured into 10 o.z. glasses. We had no trouble getting in. We discussed the politics of my lie, why I thought it might be beneficial to shave off a couple of years. How much different are the ages thirty and thirty-two to these kids, anyway? How much time has passed that we have been other in that world? And we sat and thought about and discussed these issues that have been in the foreground of my mind these past couple of years. In my life, these are weird times--I’m straddling the shaky and curious mind of youth and the poised and steady hand of adulthood. What is youthful: I love new music coming from the slacker upstart underground much more than the slicker stuff catered to my demographic on Pitchfork, though I do like some of that, too. I work tirelessly, an occupation I’m pretty sure is reserved for youth, if my older colleagues are any indication. I love playing music, and I love to drink and smoke weed and be around a lot of energy and have an overall good time. I like when music is loud, and I like to play loud music. This isn’t some kind of mid-life crisis--certain things about me simply haven’t changed much in the last 15 years or so. And I don’t want them to. They make me a better person in my adult life. I know because at one time or another I’ve deprived myself, and it ain’t pretty. What is adult: I have a full-time job and a part time job, a Masters’ degree; I’m happily married with two kids; I have health insurance, bills; I haven’t asked my parents for money that I didn’t intend to pay back in years; clearly, I look like a person in his thirties; I stand in front of a mirror before 7 a.m. most mornings and voluntarily tie a tie. I use semicolons correctly. I have taken out a loan to purchase a 2005 Subaru Forester at 5 ½% and I service that loan dutifully on the 19th of every month. I have a toenail that might be getting funky. I have to wait awhile before my piss comes out. After having a couple of drinks (specials), quickly, at the bar, we made our second attempt, this time saying fuck it and parking directly in front of the house. There was a new person at the door. And there was no question. A smile that kind of tilted sideways, but not even a blink at our intentions. I couldn’t help but think they’d been expecting us: these two older dudes. We went down into the basement and drank several PBRs and rocked to some great bands and I snuck out once or twice to puff and to wait around in the frigidity for my piss to come out. I went back in and found myself lathered enough to strike up a conversation with this kid
because he wore a Gorilla Biscuits hoodie. He had never heard of Quicksand. This was a child in need of learning--indeed, yearning to learn. I provided him with the most basic analogy I could surmise, which is Minor Threat:Fugazi::Gorilla Biscuits:Quicksand. He understood. I was drunk. Triumph at last. Old people know stuff. This is the way drunk people think, overly conscious of and pompous about identifying features. How could I help it? The people selling me beers got friendlier and friendlier and started throwing me beers for free. I started feeling like maybe they pitied the fact that I was scheduled to die sooner than they were. That was ok. I did not give a shit. Afterward, the girl who denied me entry earlier saw me and apologized and even tipped me off on the secret bathroom. I’m not sure why this all hurt so much in hindsight. Maybe it’s because for my entire youth--ah fuck it, my whole adolescent and adult life--I felt like an outsider embraced by underground music only, and the fact that that same scene that nurtured me and brought me up and made me feel accepted and if not comfortable, at least among other people who were also more comfortable here than out there, was now denying me entry on a parameter as superficial as age made me feel that this was just a deeply ironic yet convincing rejection of all the self I could muster these last couple of decades. Maybe I’ve become more of an average dick than I am willing to admit. Is it all just an absurd longing for youth I will never again obtain, a futile denial of the indelible onslaught of life’s darker imperatives--aging, erosion of relevance, death? The thing is, I don’t necessarily want the youth. I don’t even really feel that I have lost my youth and need to retrieve it. Really, I’m not that old. Like everyone else, I want the music. Many obstacles arise between this grown adult’s real-life responsibilities and his deep and profound desire to hear good loud music played late at night. Consider the complex degrees of familial bargaining and responsibility-shifting to generate even fifteen glorious and peaceful seconds alone. Consider the fact that I want to go to every show that might be good, but often have to miss shows in my hometown that I know will be great because I know my current situation simply cannot carry its own emotional weight in my consistent/near-nightly absence. This all is ok, and part of being an adult, and there’s obvious tradeoffs of missing shows, like the endless and unfathomable blisses of familial domesticity (I know this may sound cynical or sarcastic, but I’m not kidding--think about what it’s like to feed your kid with food you paid for or to show her Weezer’s Blue Album), but this all also means that every night that I get to go out and see bands I like and have a beer and just listen to the glorious, ear-destroying noise of a basement show is a night that is profoundly special and meaningful, as it always has been. Of course, I don’t blame these promoters for being skeptical of me. It’s just painful to know that the at-that-age me would have done and thought the same things about the current me that they did. In the meantime I’ll try to forget that nothing lasts forever.
A CONVERSATION WITH DANIEL KLAG cassandra baim
New York-based musician Daniel Klag has been releasing records since 2010, but making music for much longer. I got to see him play a CMJ showcase last October, and it was one of the most engaging sets I’d ever seen. He released his most recent record Twin Labyrinths last month, and I was fortunate enough to talk with him recently about how he started making music, his influences, his recording processes, and his evolution as a musician. Cassandra: What inspired you to start making music? Daniel: I was in a band in high school, because I was just drawn to this idea of being in a band. I couldn’t play an instrument, I didn’t know my way around anything, so I convinced some other kids who were starting a band that I was going to be their singer. I’m not a particularly good singer and my lyrics were terrible, but I stood in that role. That was my first attempt at music. It was fun and lasted maybe six months. Then I graduated and when I got to college I came to the conclusion that I’m not a good singer, I shouldn’t be the singer of a band, I really ought to learn an instrument. It just so happened that a friend of mine had a bass guitar and was giving it away.
So I tried playing around on the bass, playing along to The Cure’s Greatest Hits because it was the one CD that I had where I could hear the bass guitar very prominently and could mimic it, and I started looking online how to play. I was in a number of bands in college playing bass guitar and eventually as people graduated or went abroad, it became really important to me to be able to perform without a band. So for me that meant bass guitar was no longer the thing for me. I bought a synthesizer and started playing around with that, and I had a drum machine and was doing this synth and drum machine music for a while and it slowly evolved into the kind of things I’m doing now. It really started out as this process of “I want to be able to do this,” and then later on “I want to be able to do this without having to rely on anyone else.” It kind of evolved from there. C: When you joined your first band in high school, what were you listening to as a teenager that made you want to start doing that? D: I think there was a big disconnect between my musical interests and my band mates. I was on a big 1970s punk rock kick—Ramones, Clash, etc. My band mates were a few years younger. I know one of them was super obsessed with blink-182. There was this commonality of this idea of “punk,” but we didn’t have the same definition of what that meant. While I was in high school, I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers play and the opening band was Blonde Redhead. The audience was horrible, not appreciative at all. I immediately went out to the local record store in Princeton and bought two of their CDs, and came home and listened to them thoroughly. I did a little Internet research, and discovered that they sounded like this band Sonic Youth. So I went out and bought some Sonic Youth albums and everything branched from there. Because Sonic Youth is so involved in underground indie rock as well as this experimental avant-garde community and I branched out and discovered lots of new things. C: I feel very weird calling your music “drone music” because to me, that has a weird connotation. What do you call your music? D: Yes, I’ve certainly used the word “drone” to describe it, but “drone” has different definitions for different people. Same thing with “ambient music,” or “new age music.” I tend to shy away from the term “new age,” I think it’s got a sort of connotation that I wouldn’t apply to what it is that I do. But there are some people that define drone as pure La Monte Young-style—a sustained note or chord and nothing else. So it’s a pure drone and I like to think that I provide more than just that. And ambient music as defined by Brian Eno is “music that is equally suitable for active or passive listening.” I like to think that I sort of inhibit that realm a little bit. C: What drew you to the genre of ambient, or synthesized sound? D: A lot of things came together around the same time for me. It was functional. I needed to be able to do music without others. So initially, like I said, I was doing drum machine and synthesizer music and I was trying to sound a lot like the band Suicide, or a 1970s synth and drum machine and vocals duo. I recorded a number of demos in that style and eventually listening back to them I decided that I wasn’t really good at making beats. I took out the drums and decided that I wasn’t very good at vocals and my lyrics weren’t very good so I took those out. I was left with the synthesizer which I was happy with so I was like, “Okay, I’m going to explore this world of tone.” At the time I was only using synthesizer and then later on I moved to other instruments as sound sources. But at the same time more of this ambient-sounding
music. I was sort of discovering bands like Tim Hecker and Fennesz and Growing and Brian Eno, and the list goes on. It’s partly functional, and partly because I happened to be getting more and more into things that I had been hearing. C: You took the name Twin Labyrinths from a Jorge Luis Borges story collection. Are you frequently influenced by literary works, or was it for this particular record? D: When I’m working on something new, I’m often influenced by whatever art or music or literature I happen to be immersed in in that particular moment. So if I saw a movie recently, maybe the tone of that movie seeps into my subconscious as I’m recording. I find often that it’s whatever I’m reading at the time is involved the most. I think that’s just because when you watch a movie, it’s an hour or two and then you move on. If you’re listening to an album, it’s a half an hour or an hour, and then you move on. But with a book you can be invested in your book for a week, a month, six months, depending on the length of the book so when I’m in the middle of reading something and the world of what I’m reading gets into my world, I’ll come across something and I think, “Oh, that’s a neat idea,” I’ll make a note to myself—“this would be a good song title for something.” Or, “this would be a good thing to explore, this idea of ‘blah,’ let me see if I can translate it to music.” My first EP was called Leaflet, influenced by reading the novel House of Leaves. And then the next album was Weird Fiction, which was influenced by reading a collection of weird fiction— Lord Dunsany and H.P. Lovecraft and guys like that. And then, Inner Earth, there were some themes of Borges and some other exploration of these ideas of the infinite and then I continued that thread on to the Twin Labyrinths album. Whatever I happen to be invested in at the time kind of sneaks its way in. C: How do you choose the art for your releases? Do you do it yourself, or do you work with anyone in particular? D: I’m not much of a visual artist. I know what I like, and I know when I see an image that’s striking and can say, “This is great.” The last two releases I did, the artwork was done by Nathaniel Whitcomb. He does all the artwork for the website Stadiums and Shrines. He’s also done some album art for Teen Daze and a couple other bands. I met him through my connection with Dave Sutton from Stadiums and Shrines and reached out to him when I was doing Inner Earth and asked him if he’d be interested in doing the artwork. He did it, and I really liked it so I reached out to him again. The cover of the new record—I’m blown away by it. I was really happy with the way it turned out and I honestly think it’s one of the better things of Nathaniel’s that I’ve seen recently. Before that, for the Weird Fiction record, my friend Ashley is an illustrator and I asked her to draw something. It fit very nicely with the theme of the album. The EP I did before that, the label did all their own artwork so they just presented me with it, and I said, “Okay!”
C: What are your favorite spaces here for either playing or just going to see shows? D: I really like The Silent Barn, in particular the previous space. I like the current space too, but I have a lot of good memories at the old space. I was really lucky in that when I first moved to New York it was right at the time when Todd P was at his peak doing bookings at places like Silent Barn and later on Market Hotel and these outdoor spaces in Brooklyn, basically wherever he could get a spot for a couple of hours. It was really cool to see bands in a kitchen or in a living room or in a basement. I’ve been to some of the larger venues and I tend not to have as good a time in spaces like that. It’s not so much the space, or maybe it is the space—I just tend to have a better time when it’s a smaller and more intimate feeling. I really like The Issue Project room. I actually haven’t been to the new space since they moved, but their old space was this really cool silo and they had ten speakers in the room and I saw a couple of really amazing experimental performances there. The Stone in the East Village is great. It’s just a tiny room, they don’t sell any drinks or merchandise. If it says eight o’clock, the show starts at eight o’clock. So you show up, you pay five dollars or ten dollars or whatever it is, you sit down, you see one band, and that’s it, and then you leave. I like that it’s straightforward and you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. C: What do you think are the greatest differences between listening to your tape and seeing you play? D: On a tape or a record, or online there are distinct songs—five to ten to fifteen minutes long that have a definitive beginning and then you go to the next song. When I play live I tend to not have breaks between songs and choose a set list such that everything kind of runs together seamlessly in one long way and instead of these shorter distinct arcs, having one big sound arc. I think it’s also a different experience listening on your laptop speakers or your headphones versus in a room with a good PA. There are certain bass notes that I can turn the distortion way up in a live setting such that it rattles the whole room. You can’t get away with that on a cassette because it doesn’t translate. There’re a couple little snippets that I only do live, and I tried doing a recorded version and it wasn’t the same. C: What’s your recording process like from start to finish? D: I write and record at the same time. I start with nothing, and I’ll take an instrument, usually a guitar or bass and start by tuning my guitar to some weird tuning so that when I play an opening chord it sounds really neat. I’ll just experiment and say, “That sounds cool!” Then I’ll just start recording distinct notes or chords and build a set of building blocks to play with in the computer. Once I’ve got a sizeable amount of sounds, I’ll start piecing them together. It’s a lot of trial and error sequencing things. I’ll play a note and say, “That sounds good, what’s the next note?”
There are the twenty notes I’ve recorded and I’ll try them out and see what sounds good next. And just taking these blocks I’ve created and slowly building them, it’s almost like building a sculpture out of Legos. And then listening and saying, “Maybe I don’t really like that piece,” and deleting it, then making more sounds that I think will go in. And once things start coming together, I’ll mix and fade things in and out. I often will do this whole process and record a song and two weeks later listen back to it and not like it at all, and delete the whole thing and start over. It’s kind of frustrating to invest a lot of time in something and then it not turn out the way you were hoping. But that’s what happens with trial and error approaches, there will be error. C: Do you do your recordings in your apartment or in a studio? D: I record at home. Usually I try to set aside an hour or more of time. I can’t do it every day, just with life but if I do know that I’ll have a couple hours of time to devote, I’ll clear everything off, set up the computer, set up ProTools, pick out whatever instruments I want to use and just work. That’s something I really like—because of the style of music I do, I don’t have to have a studio because I don’t actually have to record anything with a microphone. I can just plug right in to my keyboard. I don’t need to get a practice space where I am essentially paying a second rent a month so that I can go and play music. I can do that here with headphones on and not bother the neighbors. It’s very nice to be able to do everything at home and not have to worry about my band mates saying “It’s time to rehearse, where are you?” I can just do it whenever I find little chunks of free time. C: Do you ever want to collaborate with any other artist? D: I have. I’ve collaborated a few times with my wife, doing a few live things. We’ve not collaborated recently. I just think we have a different ear for music and so what she thinks sounds good and what I think sounds good—there’s very little in the middle of that Venn diagram. I think the last time we performed together, the week leading up to it, our practices were getting very frustrating and I don’t think we want that in our lives, so we haven’t really collaborated that much. But she’s a really talented guitar player and keyboard player, and it just doesn’t work well with what I do. I recently collaborated a couple times with Ben Felton, who records under the name Blood Revenge and he’s a guitar player. His music is pretty similar to what I do but he does it all with live looped guitars and effects pedals. I’m going to be playing a show in Cincinnati in a couple weeks where the idea is that we’ll be performing with each other, but I don’t know what’s in store but I’m prepared to kind of go with it. I did a show in Atlanta maybe a couple months ago where the premise of the show is that they invite six musicians and randomly pull names out of a hat and assign you duos and trios to play together. I played with a drummer, which I haven’t played with in a long time and it turned out really well. Having not heard my music before, he figured it all out and it went really nicely together. I’m welcome to do those kinds of collaborations. I tend to prefer to do them live and in an improvised way only because I don’t know that I have a lot of time to devote to starting a band with a person and planning on writing songs and working on them and refining them and recording them. It’s kind of hard to find time to do that and be fair to your collaborator. C: Who or what are you listening to right now, old or new? D: I think last year was a big Six Organs of Admittance year, so I’ve been listening a lot to that, and some of Ben Chasny’s other side projects. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Jim O’Rourke
and some of his side projects. I listened to a lot of Dirty Three this year; I really like some of the guitar sounds they’re able to conjure. I’ve tried to mimic it and it ended up sounding nothing like Dirty Three. C: Where to from here? Are you actively recording another album? Are you touring? D: I typically don’t tour. I have to travel for work quite a bit and what I try to do is when I go somewhere for work, I try to set aside one of those evenings when I’m in another city to try to play a show while I’m there. It’s really nice—it’s like touring but I don’t have to pay for it, and it’s not as draining as being on the road for three weeks or six weeks or however long. I get enough enjoyment out of just playing in New York or just playing these places I happen to be going anyway that I don’t feel the need to have to tour. I know other bands who put out album just as a means so they can hit the road and do another tour and I don’t know that after six or eight or ten weeks that I would really enjoy myself traveling that much. I’m happy to just play a gig here or there. I try to play once a month, and that’s really enough for me. I am in the midst of recording new music. The album that was just released in April was finished in November so even before it was released I had started on the next thing. So right now, I’ve just got one track I’m working on. It’s not clear to me yet whether this will become a full album or a single or an EP or something but I’m happy where it’s going right now. I’ve got a solid five minutes of music. It still needs to be mixed, but I’m happy the direction things are going in. I’m constantly releasing something and working on the next thing. Hopefully it will not take a year or two to finish. It’s hard to predict how long these things take. It’s the same in that I’ve tried to establish this style or voice, so I’m still using the same approach to recording. I’m starting to use some piano samples, which I haven’t done before, though they’re so manipulated that only I know that they’re piano samples. I don’t think anyone listening would notice. This particular thing I’m working on is sounding a little bit cleaner than some of the crunchier stuff I’ve done recently. C: What is your earliest memory of music, of falling in love with a particular song or artist as far back as you can remember? D: I think it might be that experience, that first time seeing Blonde Redhead open for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters. I remember getting those CDs and going home and putting them on my stereo. Usually in the past when I listened to music I would be on the computer and music was playing or doing my homework and music was playing. I think it’s the first time I remember at age 14 or 15 or however old I was just playing an album and listening to it straight through with no other distractions and just trying to hear and digest everything. I didn’t get a lot of it. There were certain songs where I thought it was pretty cool and there were other times where I didn’t know where they were going with it. I learned to appreciate some of those weirder moments and then actually actively seek out bands that only do the weird stuff. Read the full interview here: http://cassandrabaim.tumblr.com/private/86965568144/tumblr_ n67qmsRFgk1qe2q27 And check out his most recent release, Twin Labyrinths, out now on Miscreant Records, here! http://miscreantrecords.bandcamp.com/album/twin-labyrinths
THE FOUR WAYS LYRICS HAVE INFLUENCED MY LIFE by colleen bidwill
A million. That’s the number of times I’ll hit the replay button, to a new song that I like. Ok, maybe not a million. But, the replay button and I get to know each other quite well. I’m not immune to a catchy beat or something that makes me wiggle and tap the steering wheel as I mindlessly drive. However, it’s not long before the radioheavy Top 40 hits and repetitive jingles about having the best night of your life, wear on my nerves. Because life is not a constant party, and if it is, I’m not on the guest list. And while, I do try to live my life with the mentality that each day has the potential to be great, realism doesn’t always sell records. “Spent My Whole Day in Pajamas” or “Binge Watching Netflix,” probably is not going to sell well. I get that. What holds my attention are the musicians who delve past the surface level, and put forth lyrics that mean something to them, or simply pour their hearts out. Those lyrics that force the listener stop and think, “That’s me.” Or find their meanings beneath the words, like a musical Sherlock Holmes. From my middle school years with a blonde bob haircut to my fleeting so-called “best four years of your life,” here are some ways that lyrics have influenced my life. A Way To Recall Something If there’s one thing that I don’t have is a good memory. I’m constantly scribbling lists on notebooks or reminders on my computer desktop, to try and remain somewhat tuned in. But, listening to a song and the lyrics behind them, can transport me back into time; it’s basically a musical snapshot. Like when Petey Pablo’s “Freek a Leak” pops up on any throwback playlist, suddenly, I’m back in middle school when no one would dance with me. In what was then considered a very conservative outfit for a middle school dance, I would watch my friends and scantily dressed classmates gyrate against each other. I would listen to the award-winning lyrics closely, as a way to distract myself at how no one wanted to dance with me in a buttoned up shirt and long jean skirt. I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed that I still know most of the words. For the record, I got better at dancing. Or maybe I just got better at not caring.
A Way For Introspection Sometimes, the best way to shut out the world is through music and some meaningful lyrics. Right now, I’m sitting in a coffee shop, with my headphones in, a black coffee close by, and I’m writing this. And I’m happy. I am sometimes at my happiest when I can just sit and listen to the lyrics drifting through my ears, while I tap my feet under the table. I’m sure passerbys can hear the small muffled sounds of my musical choices, but this is one of the few times, I can muffle the thoughts in my mind. Besides, how can I not listen to music while I’m writing about song lyrics? That seems obvious. A Way To Realize Someone Likes You To this day, one of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever received was during eighth grade. It was a basket filled to the brim with multi-colored CDs, and with it a booklet naming each and every song on them. I still have it in my California bedroom, a subtle reminder about a time that someone cared enough about me to spend all that time choosing the right songs, burning them, and then writing them down. I think it’s safe to say, he liked me as more than a friend. There isn’t more to this story. He went to a different high school, and we eventually grew apart. But, I still treasure those CDs. A Way To Show Someone You Care David and I joked about how I shouldn’t write about him anymore, because who wants those sappy and romantic words written about them. Ew. But, I can’t help write about him. I can’t help but write about the romantic side of music, because when you’re in love, suddenly all those sappy lyrics mean something. You get it. And if you could take back all those condescending eye rolls, you would. Because that pessimistic part of you that didn’t think this was possible, or possible again, was wrong. It’s probably a little cheesy that I’ll play songs on my weekly radio show that remind me of him. But, sometimes those artists can say the words I want to tell him even better than I can myself. And they can sing it much better than me too.
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT SOME MUSIC by tyler plyem
Recently I was in Tower Records trying to find some books I wanted to buy (Tower Records has never failed to deliver such wonders as Vice Guide to Everything & Street Boners) and despite checking about six different Tower Records locations in about two days I was unable to find any. However, I did find out two things: One, only the Tower Records in Shibuya actually has books. Two, going to a record store is actually a really good way to find new music. I know all of you are groaning and sighing right now; “Duuuh” you are saying, “Like, it’s so obvious?” Well it wasn’t obvious to me. I ended up leaving the stores with two CDs and $60 less in my wallet. CDs still exist by the way, and they are pretty expensive. For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten, a CD is a little shiny disc that you put into your computer. The computer makes a lot of scary noises and then the CD tells it to download music from iTunes or something. I’m not sure about the technical details. Anyways, these two CDs somehow got me two albums and since I am the sharing type, I’d like to tell you, my friends, about them. 5 by NEGOTO NEGOTO is Sachiko Aoyama (Vocals, Keyboard), Mizuki Masuda (Guitar), Yu Fujisaki (Bass), and Sayako Sawamura (Drums). Their third album was being advertised at the store and I meant to pick up their first, but instead got their second album. Whoops. They formed in 2006 as high school friends and finally made their major debut in late 2009. As for their musical style I can only speak for this one album, maybe they branch out a bit. 5 is a full length album; 13 songs clocking in at 52 minutes. For the most part its straight forward rock, mostly upbeat and catchy, however some songs have the touches of different genres creeping in. Flower seems to have some psychedelic rock influences and Re:mynd!’s snyth-keyboard stand out from the rest of the album. Sachiko’s vocals are the center of the songs composition with her pleasant, light pop-voice which is also perfectly capable of power and volume when needed. The rest of the band provides backup vocals on some songs, such as Lightdentity, and they all mix well together. It’s a good sound and I hope future songs play to it.
The music is pretty straight forward and it’s nothing crazy or too far out there, but I can’t stop listening to it and at no point am I compelled to skip songs on the album. I’m planning on hunting their other two albums down and buying them when I find the chance. Oh, and while it may not be a huge selling point their music videos are fantastic. Nameless, its sequel Greatwall, Re:myend! are all excellent. They also happen to be singles and their most standout songs, go figure. They’re not available to view outside of Japan on YouTube though, so you’ll have to resort to somewhere else, such as the lawless Dailymotion. T H E by tricot
tricot is Ikkyu Nakajima (Vocals, Guitar), Motoko “Motifour” Kida (Guitar), Hiromi “hirohiro” Sagane (Bass), and Kazutaka Komaki (Drums). Contrary to first glance, popular opinion and Komaki’s long hair tricot is not actually an all-girl band; a misconception Komaki seems to try address by listing his name in the linear notes as “Komaki”. They’re what could be described as a ‘math-rock’ band from Kyoto but I think that’s a bit too specific a term for this sort of experimental sound. The album alternates, usually several times per song, between high energy guitar, drums and powerfully sharp vocals and more quite, slow and withdrawn sounds that often seem fragile and distant (a lot of echo and reverb help with this feeling). This is really evident in some songs such as Ochansensu-su which switches constantly between the two feelings and at point constantly ramps up to a second of energetic drumming and guitar before falling away back into the spacious low key sound. A lot of the distinctive sound of tricot comes from the Nakajima’s vocals; she’s raw and powerful, twisting some syllables upwards into a short cry one second and then soft, airy and melodic the next. It’s both impressive technically and aesthetically and I kinda love it a lot. The vocals aren’t the only thing that is technically impressive of course, all members of the band shine through and the unpredictable nature of the music really gives tricot a lasting uniqueness. T H E is the band’s debut album and I can’t wait for more of it. I’ll definitely be trying to see them live as all signs and videos points to their stage presence being full of the same raw energy their music is. They also have some music videos (actually viewable on YouTube too), although they’re nothing to crazy but still, a great way to check out their music. Stand out songs include POOL, Ochansensu-su, 99.974℃ and Swimmer (All of which have music videos on their channel, except for Swimmer) So, don’t wait till you’re in a record store to check them out! T H E is available on iTunes right now for $10, although you’ll miss out on the nice packaging and poster that comes with the CD and 5 is available in Japan and Tower Records. How do you get 5, my friends in America? Amazon.jp maybe? Uh, good luck on that one actually. It’s okay though, T H E is the more interesting of the two albums. Oh, and for the record, I never did find a copy of that book I was looking for.
SEXY SOUL OLDIES: A RETROSPECTIVE PLAYLIST by jazz adam
After experiencing the roll-over effects of several romantic misadventures, I wrote myself the usual prescription: “Do whatever the fuck you want.” So I went out of town for a bender, and came back to NYC feeling more lost than before. I then found myself at the annual 9th avenue street fair near my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t know if it was the gorgeous weather, or the fact that I was one spliff deep, but the magic of the street fair was elevated when I happened upon a booth entitled “Sexy Soul Oldies.” I had never read a sentence that described the core of my music taste so perfectly. I realized I was probably the only person under the age of 55 who was lingering at the booth. An older, Black gentleman blasted a sickening selection of mawkish, yet buttery-smooth, 70s jams from his speakers. He knew all the words to every song he played. As he lip-synced along, upper middle-aged men and women danced shamelessly along with him. We were all fully committed to the vibe the booth had set for 47th street. I had no idea who I was or what I was going to do to make money. However, in that moment, standing in the sun and dancing with a bunch of old people, I realized that I was truly happy. The lack of men, drugs, and cash didn’t mean such a fuckton anymore. “No Thing on Me (Cocaine Song)” // Curtis Mayfield “Misdemeanor” // Foster Sylvers “Don’t You Know” // Jan Hammer Group “How Deep Is Your Love” // Bee Gees “Never Can Say Goodbye” // Jackson 5 “You Did It Good” // L.A. Boppers “Inspiration Information” // Shuggie Otis “Another Day to Run” // Bill Withers “Les Fleurs” // Minnie Riperton “When 2 R in Love” // Prince “I Wanna Be Your Man” // Zapp and Roger
DIFFERENT KIND OF RACKET by gauraa shekhar
Most of us took Jersey Shore’s Angelia’s stint in the music industry just about as seriously as we took The Newlyweds. We humored her as she rapped about being “hot as an ice cream cone with a cherry on top” like we humored Jessica Simpson’s banter about “mouses” and taking Louis Vuitton bags on camping trips. But it turns out that Angelina is not the only one trying her luck in the music scene. Marnie Michaels, of HBO’s Girls, who leads the stereotypical postgraduation I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-career life in Williamsburg, has also decided to tap into the music industry on the latest season of the show. It seems like breaking into showbiz is the latest trend for everyone who is either attractive, rich, or simply in possession of DAW software on their computer. Tennis stars are similarly trying to crossover into music. It was the Danish sports star, Caroline Wozniacki, who trigged this movement with her auto-tuned debut, “Oxygen”. With generic lyrics and overly compressed drum kits, let’s just say that winning 21 WTA single titles does not necessarily equate to ranking a hit single in the music biz. (Having a drummer and bassist in the music video does not convince me that the song was not entirely composed on Garage Band). As if Wozniacki’s experimentation in the music industry wasn’t enough, Serena Williams’ urge to be number one could not hold her back from following suit in May 2012 with her rapping debut. In her own words, the tennis player “balls hard” even without a tennis racket: “My name is Serena/ On the court, I serve them up/ No Suppeona!/ I win, I, I go in/ I got game like ESPN. I know you see me on ESPN”. Though rhyming ESPN with ESPN is nothing short of sure-shot talent, listeners seemed to think Williams left the key parts of her game behind on the court and preferred when she stuck to the regular kind of slamming sets. Serena, however, disregarded feedback in her song “I Win” with lyrics like “I can’t see these haters through my Gucci glasses”. The latest addition to the list is Denitza Todorova, who is better known by her stage name, Dena. The Bulgarian junior tennis champion’s debut album, Flash, surfaced the music scene this March. Coming from a family of tennis players, she was number three in her country and was geared towards pursuing it as a profession until she moved to Berlin and joined a band. Todorova describes her music as “effortless raps set to 1990s R&B and hip hop with a touch of Balkan beat” that captures the broke bohemian vibe of Berlin. Her lead single off her album, “Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools” comes across as an attempt to recreate the buzz Lorde’s “Royals” stirred last year. With lyrics like “If you are listening to this in a hot country/ please come rescue me/ I’m give you what you need/ I’ll bring my friends we’re just about twenty/ If you got a swimming pool, then we can be hanging”, the tennis player-come-rapper’s pool seems pretty shallow. Her look is reminiscent of M.I.A. circa Arular, but the resemblance ends there. A faux street-cool sound might be able to garner a few remixes on Spotify, but dotting sentences with “yos” and hip hop gestures can only take a 31-year-old so far. Although there are a few athletes who have somewhat successfully crossed over into music like Shaun White with his band Bad Things and the Bryan Brothers with their guitar duo, the vast majority of them prove that being good at Tennis does not mean the ball is in their court musically. Lyrics like “boy, you’re my match point” won’t crown you poet laureate of the millennial. Yes, even if you’re Wozniacki, the similarity between the racket and guitar ends there.
THE MISCREANT 50TH ISSUE PARTY SILENT BARN, BROOKLYN / SATURDAY, MAY 3, 2014
MANY THANKS TO SWEARIN’, RADIATOR HOSPITAL, LVL UP, BAD CELLO, AND WHATEVER DAD FOR PUTTING ON AN AMAZING SHOW! ALSO THANK YOU TO ELLEN FOR FILMING, NINA AND THE SILENT BARN FOR HOSTING, THE MEDIA AND LE SIGH FOR ZINE-ING WITH US, AND TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT AND PARTIED WITH THE MISCREANT FAMILY. WE LOVE U!!