Mamby on the Beach announces initial lineup for 2016.


Chicago’s Mamby on the Beach music festival is July 02-03rd this year on Oakwood Beach.  It’s a lovely festival of electronic dance music, electro, and even a bit of psychedelia.  I won’t be surprised if there are more additions before the festival gets here, but I’d love to see Tycho, Santigold, and Derrick Carter for starters.

Keep your mind open.

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The Heavy – Hurt & the Merciless


One of the things I love about The Heavy (Kelvin Swaby – vocals, Dan Taylor – guitar, Spencer Page – bass, Chris Ellul – drums) is how they come out of the gate gunning on their new album Hurt & the Merciless. “Since You’ve Been Gone” is a blazing hot track with wah-wah guitar, fat horns, and funky drumming. The Heavy don’t mess around, and we need more bands that ain’t got time for suckers.  The album’s title sums up the theme of the record – every song is about nasty relationships or heartbreak.

The album’s title sums up the theme of the record – every song is about nasty relationships or heartbreak.  “What Happened to the Love?” is a great example of their sound – dangerous rock with a bit of soul thrown in for good measure. “Not the One” is an anti-love song. It’s not against love, mind you, but Taylor (who wrote it) knows that getting into a relationship with the person mentioned will only bring heartbreak, so he begs them to stop the flirtations and amorous behavior that will only end in ruin. Taylor’s guitar and Page’s bass are extra funky on it.

Speaking of extra funky things, wait until you hear the horns on “The Apology.” They get a Latino / spaghetti western touch-up on “Nobody’s Hero.” “Miss California” brings the humor, with Taylor writing about a former beauty queen turned hellish bitch (“It took more than just a crucifix to keep that thing at bay.”). “Turn Up” brings back the big horns, and “A Ghost You Can’t Forget” swings hard, with Swaby channeling Howlin’ Wolf in his vocals as he sings about returning to haunt the woman who wronged him (“I’ll wipe that look from your face when I’m dancing upon your deathbed.”).

As a former bass player, I love Page’s riff on “The Last Confession.” It thumps along and drives the whole song, really. “Mean Old Man” has Swaby asking his lover why she’s surprised by his behavior when she “knew the kind of man I was before you found yourself begging for more.”

“Slave to Your Love” has Swaby (or Taylor, who wrote it, perhaps) begging for more from a dominatrix. “Roll me over easy meat, pick me off the floor, knock me off my feet.” Ellul goes for broke on the track so hard the rest of the band can barely keep up with him.

The album ends with the soulful “Goodbye Baby,” another example of how the Heavy can switch from blistering rock to something you’d hear on a vintage Stax Records album you found at a thrift store. It’s a sad song about a breakup that hit Taylor like a Mack truck and left him dumbfounded.

Hurt & the Merciless is another fine entry in the band’s discography. They’ve yet to stumble, and are already selling out venues on their current tour. Don’t miss a chance to see them and hear these songs live.

Keep your mind open.

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Wrecka Stow: Orbit Records – Mishawaka, IN


I’ve been going to Mishawaka, Indiana’s Orbit Music (805 West McKinley) for over twenty years.  The place has always had a good selection of used CD’s, vinyl records, DVD’s, and other fun stuff like shirts and even vintage video games.


They had a good selection of stuff at this year’s Record Store Day event, and nearly everything in the store was 20% off to boot.


They’re even keeping cassettes and VHS tapes alive.  It’s a local gold mine for VHS tape collectors.


Stop in there if you’re in the Michiana area.  It’s worth the trip.

Keep your mind open.

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Wrecka Stow: Luna Records – Indianapolis, IN


Indianapolis’ Luna Records (5202 North College Avenue) was recommended to me by a friend who lives there.  He and I love wrecka stows, so I trusted his judgment.  He was spot-on with it, as it’s a fun store with hip employees who spin cool jazz / funk records.  The content is about 60% vinyl and 40% CD’s.


The selection is large, varied, and good.  Their “Buy 4 used CDs, get a fifth free” deal was too good to pass up, so I walked out with stuff from the Crystal MethodThe HeavyKasabianBeck, and Black Mountain.  

One of my favorite parts of the store was their rack of music and art zines.  I’m always happy to see indie stores supporting indie zine and comic creators.


They have a lot of stuff, but the aisles aren’t cramped.  Whoever crafts their displays has a nice aesthetic.


This alone should earn someone a raise.


It’s a great place.  Check it out if you’re in Indy.

Keep your mind open.

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Levitation Austin artist spotlight: Caribou


Electro master and multiple music award-winner Caribou will be closing the Levitation Tent at Levitation Austin on May 1st.  I’ve been keen on checking him out live since I heard a few snippets of his material and learned his album Our Love was considered among the best of 2014.  I think his set will be a great way to close the festival.

Keep your mind open.

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Levitation Austin artist spotlight: Lee Scratch Perry


One of the artists I’m most excited to see at Levitation Austin is Lee Scratch Perry.  LSP is the godfather of dub music, one of the founding fathers of reggae, and one of the most influential producers and artists in the world.  You owe a debt to him if you love EDM, dark wave, hip hop, and innovative studio work.   I never thought I’d get to see him live, so his set was put at the top of my list as soon as the lineup was announced.

Keep your mind open.

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity


Holy crap.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have come to “fuck shit up” (as they put it) on their new record – Nonagon Infinity.

The band (Ambrose Kenny Smith – harmonica, vocals, synths, Cook Craig – guitars and bass, Eric Moore – drums, percussion, theremin, Joey Walker – guitar and vocals, Lucas Skinner – bass, Michael Cavanaugh – drums, Stu Mackenzie – guitar, vocals, flute) is wildly prolific and able to switch musical styles faster than a chameleon changes colors.  Their last album, Paper Mache Dream Balloon, is a lovely bit of psychedelic hippy pop music with some rock and blues touches.

Nonagon Infinity, however, is the most blistering rock record I’ve heard in a long while.  “Robot Stop” explodes from the opening seconds like a land mine hit by a tank.  Each track flows seamlessly into the next.  This happens so well that the album loops on itself by the end.  I’ve read interviews with the band in which they had planned this all along.  The album can be listened to on loop without any noticeable bumps in the road.  In fact, you could start Nonagon Infinity on any of the nine tracks and it would still loop itself without stumbling.  It’s an incredible piece of audio engineering.

“Big Fig Wasp” emerges from “Robot Stop” like a train emerging from a tunnel.  Everything is layered in wall-flattening guitars, double drumming, and slightly distorted vocals before launching into “Gamma Knife” like a rocket leaving Cape Canaveral.  The harmonica on “Gamma Knife” is the booster on that rocket, taking the song out of orbit.  “People Vultures” follows it, with lyrics about rampant consumerism and a heavy Jethro Tull feel.

“Mr. Beat” has a great trippy groove before “Evil Death Roll” comes in with heavy reverb on the guitars and a cool mix of stoner rock and psychedelia.  “Invisible Face” sounds like they recorded it while diving 80mph down a dark desert road.  “Wah Wah” refers to both the guitar effects and the near mystical chant lyrics as it builds to mind-blowing intensity.  It melts your brain into the closer (or is it the opener?) – “Road Train,” which might crush any sanity you have left by this point.

As stunning as Nonagon Infinity is, I’m sure it is even better live, so don’t miss them on their current tour.  You won’t regret it, or buying this record.

Keep your mind open.

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Azealia Banks drops hot new track – “The Big Big Beat”


People tend to fall into two categories when it comes to Azealia Banks – lovers or haters.  I’m firmly in the first category, because she’s a musical titan with great rhyme, a lovely singing voice, and beats that “will make you gag” (as she puts it) because they’re so sick.  I don’t care about her Twitter tirades (none of which have offended or affected me or anyone I know).  In fact, more power to her for speaking her mind in the sausage fest that is the music industry.

So, I was one of the many excited when she started dropping a few cuts from her upcoming album Business and Pleasure on us this week.  The only one you can still find with good quality is “The Big Big Beat,” which has Banks rhyming about her double-D’s to being the baddest girl on the block.  The beats are killer and it’s a hot warm-up for the new album.  Her last, Broke with Expensive Taste, was among my favorite records of 2014.  This new record can’t get here quick enough for me.

Keep your mind open.

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Levitation Austin artist spotlight: Allah-Las


Los Angeles psych-rockers Allah-Las will be performing at Levitation Austin on May 1st.  They have a neat mix of surf, psych, and 1960s garage rock that I’m guessing comes from the fact that three of them met while working at Amoeba Records where they had ample opportunity to talk music and dig up vintage gems from the era.  

Keep your mind open.

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Levitation Austin artist spotlight: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard


Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard return to Levitation Austin on May 1st.  My wife and I were lucky enough to see their first performance on U.S. soil at the festival two years ago, and I’m keen to see them again.  Their new album, Nonagon Infinity, is a sizzling rocker that loops on itself from multiple directions.  Hearing it live should be mind-blowing.

Keep your mind open.

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