Desert Daze festival lineup nearly complete.

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The 2016 Desert Daze festival in Joshua Tree, California (Oct. 14-16) is turning out to be one of the best festivals of the year from the lineup alone.

The Sonics, Temples, Bombino, Gary Wilson, and Death Valley Girls alone are all worth the Friday admission.

As for Saturday, you get Primus, the Black Angels, Thee Oh Sees, the Raveonettes, the Coathangers, Night Beats, Ryley Walker, Vinyl Williams, and L.A. Witch.

Sunday brings you Television!  Television!  Add the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dead Meadow, and Deap Vally to the mix and you have a killer final day.

A three-day pass is only $165.00.  That’s a steal.

Keep your mind open.

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Rewind Review: L7 – Smell the Magic (1991)

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I’m a big fan of L7, so you’d think I’d already owned their second album, Smell the Magic, for years. It turns out I didn’t, but I thought I did because I own so many of the songs on it in other forms. It’s an early 1990’s classic, and needs to be in your collection if you’re any fan of any kind of rock.

Opener “Shove” (which I already owned on the Tank Girl soundtrack) is a fist-pumping anthem as Suzi Gardner (guitar, vocals) rants about bill collectors, the mailman, the neighbors, smog, and the political landscape of 1991. Dee Plakas’ (drums) beginning to “Fast and Frightening” (which I have on at least one other recording somewhere) are like a Gatling gun and Donita Sparks’ (guitar, vocals) vocals are as rabid as the song’s title. It also has one of the most punk rock lyrics of all time, “Got so much clit she don’t need no balls.” Play this if you ever need to start a mosh pit.

“(Right on) Thru” has some of the best guitar work from Gardner and Sparks, and I love how Plakas’ drums keep you guessing if the song’s going to take off or stop short. “Deathwish” (which I had as a live cut on another record) is a personal favorite. Jennifer Finch (bass, vocals) puts down one of her heaviest riffs that drives the song like a Sherman tank across a battlefield. The song isn’t particularly fast, but it grinds along with unrelenting power.

“’Till the Wheels Fall Off” is appropriately titled, because it tears through at breakneck speed. “Broomstick” is a Blondie tune if Blondie decided to be a punk band instead of a post-punk band. “Packin’ a Rod” is more angry punk. Hell, the first line is “All fucked up and I’m mad as hell, violate your daughter and your son as well.” Sparks is carrying a gun just for you, so you might want to steer clear of her. I love the crunchy, yet shredding guitar solo on “Just Like Me.”

The record closes with “American Society,” a cover of the song by the great underground band Eddie and the Subtitles that’s all about being sick of television, the rat race, the homogenization of radio airwaves, and the lure of materialism and quick riches. It was a perfect song to start the 1990’s, because everyone was sick of this stuff…and we still are.

Smell the Magic still shreds and is still relevant. Give it a whiff.

Keep your mind open.

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DJ set list for August 21, 2016

Thanks to all who listened to my latest show on WSND.  I’ll be spinning my last show of the summer on August 28th.  Here’s my set list from last Sunday.

  1. The Clash – 1977
  2. Fea – Feminazi
  3. The Black Keys – Aeroplane Blues
  4. The Black Keys – The Desperate Man
  5. Baby Jesus – Nothing’s for Me
  6. Flat Duo Jets – Rock Boppin’ Baby (live)
  7. Treat Her Right – Gilded Splinters
  8. Yes – Roundabout
  9. The Besnard Lakes – Press of Our Plans
  10. The Velvet Underground – Foggy Notion
  11. C.E. Schneider Topical – 3mm
  12. Soul Coughing – Maybe I’ll Come Down
  13. The Smithereens – It Won’t Be Long
  14. Oysterhead – Oz Is Ever Floating
  15. Metric – Youth without Youth
  16. Bayonne – Waves
  17. Sleater-Kinney – Start Together
  18. Bleached – Wednesday Night Melody
  19. Chelsea Wolfe – Carrion Flowers
  20. Gary Wilson – I’m Going to Take You to a Thousand Dreams
  21. Julian Cope – The Bloody Assizes
  22. Buzzcocks – Roll It Over (live)
  23. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Black Tooth
  24. ORB – First and Last Men
  25. Public Image Ltd. – Fishing
  26. Soundgarden – Superunknown
  27. Dean Martin – All in a Night’s Work

Keep your mind open.

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Live: Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, Pleasures, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, & Slug Love – August 14, 2016 – Ft. Wayne, IN

There was a nice psychedelic rock show at Fort Wayne’s Brass Rail last week.  First up was Slug Love – a local act who played a good set of punk-psych.  They have some stuff on Soundcloud right now and hope to have more material out soon.  I look forward to it.

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Slug Love

Detroit’s Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor were up next and they played only one previously released song (“Desert Brain”).  Everything else was entirely new material, and all of it sounded great.  The new material has a bit of a cosmic vibe.  Guitarist and singer Sean Morrow mentioned Hawkwind to me when discussing the new stuff, so I’m hoping their upcoming album will be a spacey trip.

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Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor

Pleasures came all the way from Florida to play their wild electro-psych full of distorted robot vocals, throbbing synths, and even a weird collection of film clips projected on their kick drum head (a genius idea, by the way).

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Pleasures

Ft. Wayne’s Heaven’s Gateway Drugs closed the night with a lot of material I hadn’t heard before either.  I’d learned earlier from SOYSV that this was a challenge they’d made to HGD to play new material (The two bands are all pals, by the way.).  HGD played their usual sharp psych layered with almost meditative beats.

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Heaven’s Gateway Drugs

It was a fun show for a cheap price.  Don’t miss the next one.

Keep your mind open.

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Fea – self-titled

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“Fea” is Latino slang for an ugly girl, but Fea the band (Letty – vocals, Aaron – guitar, Jenn – drums, Phanie – bass) means riot grrl post-punk (or “Fuck ‘Em All,” according to the video below).

Opening with “Mujer Moderna,” the band comes out with chugging guitars and vocals that sound like a Be Your Own Pet B-side. The song is a slug across the jaw to those who blame sexual assault victims for the crime. “Feminazi” is a fast, fun, and fierce call for both sexes to “meet in the middle” and for everyone to know that feminism isn’t fascism.

“You Can’t Change Me” has some of Phanie’s hardest bass as Letty sings about being out and proud and not giving a damn what you think. “Tragedias” will get you moving, because Jenn’s beats will boot your booty out of your chair. Be careful if you’re listening to this while driving. Don’t blame Fea (or me) for any speeding tickets you might get as a result. “Dead End” reminds me of Lunachicks, and that’s a good thing.

“No Hablo Español” might be the loudest cut on the record, because every lyric seems shouted to the streets. “Beat It Out” warns us against succumbing to the pressures of mainstream culture, white noise TV, and crummy relationships. Aaron’s guitar work cooks on it. “Sister K” is a funny story and middle finger to a mean nun Letty had to deal with in school.

“Stuck Like You” changes up the pace a bit with a softer chorus than most of the other tracks, and it works quite well. The riffs on “Poor Little Rich Girl” are outstanding, as are Letty’s Spanglish vocals. It’s some of her best work on the record. “Veins” is a little over three minutes long, but it only seems like half that because the track is so fast. “La Llorona” (“The Crying Woman” – a legendary ghost in Latin American culture) is suitably haunting. Aaron’s guitar sounds like he dipped it in a swamp before playing it and Jenn’s drums are like a funeral dirge at first.

It’s a sharp debut and I hope it leads to more records. Punk rock needed Fea. They’re like a shot of adrenaline to the genre. I didn’t know I needed Spanglish angry Latina punk until I heard this record, and now I want more of it.

Keep your mind open.

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Bleached – Welcome the Worms

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Does the current political landscape have you bummed? Has work turned into rote activity you’d rather turn over to a highly intelligent simian? Are you sick of TV and big budget blockbuster flops at the box office? Are you in need of a jolt to break you out of a summer funk? Why not save the money you’d spend on a couple fancy schmancy frozen coffee drinks and pick up Welcome the Worms by Bleached instead? This pop-punk album will make you far happier than any overpriced, super sweet, high fat drink you’ll regret when the sugar coma it provides makes you fall asleep at the wheel.

Bleached are sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin (lead vocals and guitar, respectively), Micayla Grace (bass), and Nick Pilot (drums). Welcome the Worms is a middle finger to living in L.A. when you’re not a movie star, bad relationships, and those who turn their backs on people who live on the fringe.

“Keep On Keepin’ On” bursts off the line with a cool psychedelic sound mixed with Sleater-Kinney anger. Jennifer Clavin throws down fierce vocals while Grace seems to be playing slap bass on a bass guitar. Jessica Clavin’s guitar sounds a bit like a warning siren at times, and Pilot kills it on the first song.

“Trying to Lose Myself Again” is about wanting to disappear in the chaos that is Los Angeles. “I’ve been hanging around this ugly town trying to find myself again…I’ve been getting high every night trying to lose myself again,” Jennifer Clavin sings. The glamour of L.A. hides misery for many, but Jessica Clavin’s guitar work is anything but miserable. It’s scorching.

“Sleepwalking” is a perfect metaphor for most of us shuffling around big cities in the daily grind. Jessica Clavin again shreds while Grace and Pilot seem to be racing each other throughout the track. “Wednesday Night Melody” is a great power-pop track that Weezer and Metric wish they could still produce.

“Wasted on You” is about the perils of dating musicians and has some of the snappiest beats from Pilot. “Chemical Air” reminds me of early New Pornographers with its bold vocals and big sound (especially Jessica Clavin’s cosmic guitar work). “Sour Candy” is reminiscent of early “bad girl” rock from the 1950’s in Jennifer Clavin’s vocals.

“Desolate Town” has appropriately desolate bass from Grace and slightly distorted vocals as Jennifer Clavin sings about the wasteland L.A. can be for those working in the non-glamorous jobs there. “I’m All Over the Place (Mystic Mama)” is part-trippy psych and part-post punk as Jennifer Clavin mourns a break-up (“I’m all over the place without you…”). It sounds like a rare Fuzzbox single.

“Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong” is the closer, and I’m not sure if Bleached thinks they screwed up living in Hollywood, or if they mean the whole town screwed up what could’ve been a cool thing. It’s a fun track either way.

It’s a fun record, too, even with some of the dark subject matter. The title comes from a weird religious pamphlet the band picked up in L.A. The title might refer to impending death, but at least Bleached is exorcising demons and having fun before they check out of here.

Keep your mind open.

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ORB – Birth

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Not to be confused with techno / house giants The Orb, Australia’s ORB specialize in heavy stoner and psych-rock riffs. Their newest record, Birth, even starts with a song called “Iron Mountain,” so you know they mean business. You can’t start an album with a song titled “Iron Mountain” and not have ground-shaking rock to go with it.

“Iron Mountain” does indeed put down two-ton riffs that bring to mind Black Sabbath, MC5, and even early Pink Floyd. The groove of “Reflection” is excellent. The cowbell isn’t overdone, the skronky guitar is perfect, and the psych-bass is solid. The breakdown around the four-minute mark is jaw-dropping.

“Birth of a New Moon” is as heavy as the plunge into darkness the title implies. The song practically oozes incense smoke from your speakers and projects images of beautiful women in hooded robes dancing across hot coals onto the back of your eyelids. There’s some cool synth work in this that makes it even trippier. It’s also an instrumental, which I always appreciate.

“First and Last Men,” the shortest song on the record at just under five minutes, is a sharp fuzz-rocker with some of the heaviest bass on the album. I also like the near-funk drum groove and how the guitar almost switches to prog-rock riffs at times.

The album ends with “Electric Blanket,” which is over sixteen minutes of mind-warping psychedelia that winds from gut-rumbling guitars to early Gary Numan synths and back to more early Pink Floyd madness.

It’s one of the best psych / stoner rock records I’ve heard this year, and further proof that there must be something in the water in Australia that causes that continent to churn out so many good bands.

Keep your mind open.

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Wrecka Stow: Michiana Used Music & Media – Mishawaka, IN

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Located in a shopping center at 4615 Grape Road, Michiana Used Music & Media is exactly what you expect it to be from a name like that – a single storefront with a good selection of used CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, LPs, and video games.

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There aren’t as many cult films as I’d like to find, but there rarely are in such places.  The mix of CDs and vinyl is mostly newer stuff, but there are some fun gems if you dig through enough bins.

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It’s worth a stop if you’re on Grape Road, and don’t miss the fine comic book store next door either.

Keep your mind open.

Mega Dodo Records releases rare Big Grunt John Peel Session tracks.

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UK label Mega Dodo has released a rare recording of John Peel live session tracks from the obscure 1970’s psych band Big Grunt.  Featuring members of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, the World, and Sean Head Showband.  These four tracks (one of which, “Cyborg Signal,” was never released until now) have rarely been heard since the early 1970’s, and Mega Dodo is releasing them for download and on limited edition 12″ yellow vinyl (only 500 copies!).

Keep your mind open.

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The Luck of Eden Hall release new single inspired by Neil Gaiman.

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Chicago psych-rockers The Luck of Eden Hall release their new single, “The End of the Lane” today.  The single, a great trippy psych tune, is inspired by award-winning author Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  Gaiman even drew the cover art for the limited single.

The single can be purchase for download, and there are limited blue and black 7″ vinyl versions to be had as well.  The B-side is the song “Blown to Kingdom Come” from their excellent album The Acceleration of Time.

Keep your mind open.