Rewind Review: Golden Dawn Arkestra – self-titled EP (2014)

[Rewind Reviews are reviews of albums that are at least a year old by the time I hear them.]


Cosmic funk rockers / shapeshifting aliens / voodoo acid trip Golden Dawn Arkestra’s self-titled 2014 debut EP is a lesson on how to release your first record: You come out blowing minds on the first track.

“Afropocalypse” is full of fat horns, shredding guitar, echoing vocals delivering messages from the boat of Anubis…or maybe from Texas. I’m not sure. I was too stunned by the track to figure out its meaning. It’s probably planted in my head like a Zen koan that will enlighten me when I’m not thinking about it.

“Oasis (The Legend of Nathaniel Thorne)” is part-spaghetti western film score and part-space lounge jam. Imagine Django walking into a 1960’s sci-fi movie space station bar while carrying a Theremin instead of his Gatling gun and you’ll have a slight idea of what this song is like. I have no idea who Nathaniel Thorne is, but Golden Dawn Arkestra has given him a badass theme song.

“Dimensions” has a bass lick that the Crystal Method would envy and joyful flute, handclaps, and lyrics inviting us to join Golden Dawn Arkestra on their journey beyond the five senses and the nine planets. “Masakayli” is pretty much a chant used to invoke the Egyptian god of funk (which I think might be Hathor), and the funky organ and wicked drum beats help.

“Saharan Knights” has some of my favorite guitar licks on the record, mixing psychedelia with surf. I also love how the horn section sounds a bit drunk throughout it. The EP ends with a song that at first sounds like a Chemical Brothers track from the mid-1990’s, “Selemat,” but soon turns into a hot space disco jam that will have you jumping. I love that Golden Dawn Arkestra ended with EP with a track that leaves you wanting more (and, thankfully, they gave us Stargazer earlier this year).

Get on this cosmic pleasure yacht while you have the chance. Sip cocktails with ghosts, otherworldly creatures, warlocks, shamans, witches, and priestesses. Listen to Golden Dawn Arkestra.

Keep your mind open.

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Unreleased 1969 Betty Davis music now available!


File this under “Best News You’ve Heard Today.”  Jazz / soul / funk queen Betty Davis, former wife of jazz legend Miles Davis, has worked with Light in the Attic Records to remaster nine previously unreleased tracks from 1969 sessions featuring Miles Davis, Herbie HancockMitch Mitchell, and many more rock and jazz greats.  The Columbia Years 1968-1969 is now available for pre-order.

Keep your mind open.

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Live: Screaming Females, the Dead Records, Ron Gallo – June 26, 2016 – Ft. Wayne, IN

L-R: “King” Mike Abbate, yours truly, Marissa Paternoster, Jarrett Dougherty

I’ve wanted to see Screaming Females live since 2012 (when I discovered them while working for WSND), and was delighted to see they were playing barely over an hour’s drive from my house last Sunday at the Brass Rail in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  They were gracious with their time and kind enough to let me interview them while sitting in their touring van.  I’ll have a full transcript of that interview soon, and I’m working on an audio version that I’ll play on a future show on WSND.

The night started with the Ron Gallo 3, a fun punk trio who played a loud set of songs like “Kill the Medicine Man,” “All the Punks Are Domesticated,” and “Why Do You Have Kids?”

The Ron Gallo 3.

Up next were Ft. Wayne’s own Dead Records, who dropped a loud, fast, screaming set on the crowd of friends and new fans.

The Dead Records.

Screaming Females then got on stage for their first gig in Ft. Wayne.  I’m not sure how many people there knew who was about to play, but I saw a few of us singing along within moments.  Everyone else stood dumbfounded for the first three songs because Marissa Paternoster, Jarrett Dougherty, and “King” Mike Abbate almost flattened the place.


I’d seen videos of their performances, so I had a slight idea of how powerful they are live (especially in a small venue like the Brass Rail).  The videos don’t do them justice.  They have a chemistry that can only be created through lots of performances and deep friendships.  Paternoster, who is without question one of the best guitarists today, emotes power through her vocals as well as her axe (which she straps around her waist instead of over her shoulder, giving her even more of a gunslinger presence).


As much as Paternoster wields her guitar like Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, Dougherty hits his drums like Franco Nero blasts a Gatling gun in Django and Abbate drops his bass riffs like James Coburn drops dynamite in Duck You Sucker.  The two guys in the band get into heavy grooves that make Abbate break into grins and Dougherty to go into what appears to be Zen-like meditative trances.


The fans had snapped out of their stunned state by the time the band played “Empty Head” from Rose Mountain.  Paternoster thanked everyone for coming to their first Ft. Wayne gig.  “Please move here!” A man yelled, echoing the thoughts of everyone in the room.


“Leave It All Up to Me” and “Ripe” were other crowd favorites, and they were cooking with gas by that point.


They closed with the powerful, stunning “Triumph,” which is a fitting end for such a set.  It was a triumphant debut for them in a town they hadn’t played in before then.


A friend of former bandmate of mine, Chad, saw the show with me, and he’d only heard one song (“Hopeless”) by the band before seeing them live.  He was shaking his head in a bit of disbelief by the end of their set.

“She’s not fucking around, is she?” Chad said.

“No, she’s not,” I told him.

And now I’m telling you.  Screaming Females aren’t fucking around.

Keep your mind open.

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[Thanks to Jarrett for getting me a press pass to the show, and to him, Marissa, and Mike for being such groovy cats.]

Mamby on the Beach festival offers 25% off tickets through Groupon.


Get it while you can.  Chicago’s Mamby on the Beach festival is offering 25% off single day, weekend, and VIP passes to the festival through a Groupon deal that will be gone by the end of the month.  Discounted tickets to see Santigold are alone worth your consideration.

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Live: Ceu – June 24, 2016 – Chicago, IL

Barely anyone paid attention to the candles.

I showed up at Chicago’s City Winery in plenty of time to get a good free parking spot a block away and order a Right Bee cider before the show started.  The City Winery is a nice, small venue not much bigger than a couple campground pavilions, and Brazilian siren Ceu was playing that night.  I’ve been a fan of hers since stumbling onto her self-titled first record back in 2005.  I’d missed all her previous Chicago dates, and now I was seeing her from about twenty feet from my table while I munched braised duck tacos.

Her opening band was an electro two-piece called Kauf from Los Angeles.  They got the show off to a fine start with a groovy set that had people nodding their heads and drumming on their tables.  One man behind me said, “They’re like an 80’s synth kind of thing.”  That’s true, but a bit of a simplistic description.  Add a bit of dark wave and Caribou and you’re there.

Kauf bringing fine electro to the City Winery.

By now I’d learned that the couple across from me (named, I kid you not, Tom and Jerry) were seeing Ceu for the fourth time and hadn’t missed one of her Chicago dates yet.  This was the first time they’d seen her with a guitarist in the band.  We had a great time being wowed by her and sharing flatbread pizza.

She came out in a dark orange dress with light sparkles throughout it and a pair of bad-ass silver sequined high heels.  It was at this moment that I realized Ceu looks like Jane Russell, and I about fainted in my chair.  I almost fainted again when she started singing and her gorgeous voice filled the room.

“Wow! She looks like Jane Russell!”

She played a lovely, intimate set with her sharp as a tack backing band.  They played many cuts from her fine new album, Tropix, as well as cuts going all the way back to 2005.  She was dancing by the second song, “Perfume Invisibel,” and people were already breaking the “candle rule” to stay quiet during the show (Tom, Jerry, and I included).  They were dancing in one corner by the end of her main set and all through the encore.


She and her band spanned multiple music styles.  They played stuff ranging from bossa nova, electro dance songs, reggae, and modern disco cuts to early 80’s synth tracks you might hear on a Berlin album.

Ceu rocking those sequined high heels.

As good as her voice is on her albums, it is even better live.  I won’t miss her if she comes through the Midwest again, and neither should you.

Ceu’s set list for the night. Sadly, I didn’t get a physical copy of it, but thanks to the man who let me take this photo of his copy.

[Thanks to Andre Bourgeois for making press pass arrangements for me for this show.  He rules.]

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Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool


Radiohead’s newest record, A Moon Shaped Pool, is about the illusions, dreams, and perceptions we create regarding love. The album gets off to a somewhat frightening start with the sharp string instruments and dark lyrics of “Burn the Witch.” The video for it features a stop-motion animation version of The Wicker Man, a film about illusions and deception (and horror) in a remote English village. Thom Yorke sings about “red crosses on doors” and falling prey to myths as the song builds to Psycho shower scene pace and then cuts to “Daydreaming” – with synth and piano instrumentation that causes your mind to drift elsewhere. Yorke’s lyrics are backwards at the very end, leaving you wondering what the hell just happened…much like you would when returning from a daydream.

“Decks Dark” talks of “a spacecraft blocking out the sky, there’s nowhere to hide. You run to the back and cover your ears, but it’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard in your darkest hour.” It’s bleak until the other lyrics of “It was just a laugh” come into the song. The bass line on this is wicked, and I love the angular, stabbing distorted guitar licks in it.

“Desert Island Disk” is a term coined by British DJ’s to describe records you’d take with you if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island. The song mentions waking up from “a thousand years of sleep” and how “different kinds of love are possible.” It’s easy to think that it’s a song about coming out of the closet, but I think it’s more about waking up from the illusions we’ve created around us. The acoustic guitars on the track are excellent as synths build and then disappear behind them.

“Ful Stop” claims, “You really messed up everything,” but also says, “Truth will mess you up all the good times.” Yorke seems to be singing about how the fantasy he’d created in a bad relationship is finally broken. Is it a good or a bad thing? Only Thom Yorke knows the answer, but the shoegaze / goth wave feel of the song leads one to believe he’s angry about it either way.

“Glass Eyes” is about the hollowness of strangers and love that’s not really there anymore. It’s a somber song with near-funeral dirge piano and synths and strings that move around like ghosts in an old church. On “Identikit,” Thom Yorke admits that he doesn’t want the illusion of false love to end (“When I see you messing me around, I don’t want to know.”). The tick-tock percussion stands out among the jangling guitars, spacey synths, and chorus that sounds like it was recorded in a big concrete bunker.

“The Numbers” is a subtle (in its instrumentation, certainly not the lyrics) power to the people song about the 99% shaking off our shackles and reclaiming happiness. “We call upon the people. People have this power. The numbers don’t decide. The system is a lie.” There’s more excellent string work. I can’t remember so many good string arrangements on previous Radiohead records.

“Present Tense” is about a man fighting for love. “In you I’m lost. I won’t turn around when the penny drops. I won’t stop now, I won’t slack off, or all this love will be in vain.” The backing vocals are a bit ethereal, making you think that voices in Thom Yorke’s head are encouraging him the whole time.

In “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief,” Yorke lets his lover know that “all you have to do is say, ‘Yeah.’” He’s willing to embrace the illusion if that’s what it takes. It’s an excellent track with more of those great piano chords only Radiohead can seem to make work.

The album ends with “True Love Waits.” It’s a sad song Thom Yorke wrote in 1995 about begging a lover to return and being willing to do anything to make a relationship work. “I’ll drown my beliefs to have your babies. I’ll dress like your niece and wash your swollen feet. Just don’t leave.”  The band’s been looking for the right album / moment to release it, and this album is perfect for it.

A Moon Shaped Pool is about how love can be a fragile fantasy. It can be a comfortable illusion that, once shattered, either delivers agony or ecstasy. Would you want to be put back into the Matrix if you were pulled out of it? Would you embrace illusion for the feeling of love, even if you knew it was false? Many would, for the risks in finding new love and a true path are frightening.

There is a Zen koan about the nun Chiyono being enlightened while carrying a pail of water:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail,

since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break,

until at last the bottom fell out.

No more water in the pail!

No more moon in the water!

Radiohead’s newest album reminds us that love can be like the moon in the water. You think it is there, but it is only there until the bottom drops out and the illusion is shattered. You can find true love past the illusion, or you can cling to it. The choice is yours.

Keep your mind open.

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Rewind Review: Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson (2004 reissue)

Nillson Schmillson

If you’re unaware of the cultural significance of singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson’s 1972 masterpiece, Nilsson Schmilsson, it’s the album that produced “Without You” and “Coconut.”  It also produced other tracks that should be remembered as much as those mega-hits.

“Gotta Get Up” is a funny, quirky pop song about waking up before dawn after a late night of partying and sex that skewers the 1970’s party culture.  It’s still valid today.  Listen to it and try not to think of club kids, Tinder hook-ups, and Las Vegas bachelor and bachelorette parties.

“Driving Along” continues the skewering, but this time the dying hippie subculture was the target (“They seem to say nothing, they seem to go farther, they seem to go nowhere.”). “Early in the Morning” is a wicked blues cut with simple, haunting organ and vocals by Nilsson. “The Moonbeam Song” could be a trippy song about getting high and watching the night sky, but it’s more about introspection (euphoric or not). The acoustic guitars and mellotron are a nice combination.

“Down” is another dip into the blues; with heavy R&B vocal influences and funky horns that only seem to exist in songs from the 1970’s. The brass section hits as hard as Nilsson’s soulful vocals on it.

No one can deny the power of “Without You.” It’s heartbreaking, especially when you consider the songwriters (Peter Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger) both committed suicide. Nilsson goes for broke on the vocals, and legendary keyboardist Gary Wright plays one of the best and saddest piano pieces of the decade. This song won Nilsson a Grammy and was on the Billboard charts for a year after its release.

I’m glad he put the equally famous “Coconut” after it to make us smile again after our hearts have had a cigarette put out on them. Everyone from the Muppets to the Homer Simpson has covered it. What most people miss is that the main theme of the song is “the cause is the cure,” as Nilsson mentions in the liner notes to the reissue. The song’s a Mobius strip. “Let the Good Times Roll” is a fun version of the blues standard, and it’s a nice set-up for the jaw-dropping “Jump into the Fire” – a rocker so good it leaves you dumbfounded the first time you hear it. It’s a forgotten Top 40 hit from the early 70’s, which is a crying shame, and the reason many promotional spots for Nilsson Schmilsson proclaimed it to be a “rock record.”

“I’ll Never Leave You” is a dark, melancholy end to the album as Nilsson pleads for a lost love to return. It’s “Without You” without any of the hope. It’s a bleak Radiohead track before Radiohead were learning childhood rhymes.

The 2004 reissue also contains a Spanish language version of “Without You,” the quirky sort-of love song “How Can I Be Sure of You,” a demo version of “The Moonbeam Song,” the short and weird “Lamaze,” the war protest song “Old Forgotten Soldier,” and an alternate version of “Gotta Get Up.” There’s also a great vintage radio spot from the album that includes interviews clips with Nilsson and producer Richard Perry.

It’s a fine record and it’s surprising Nilsson isn’t given more credit from contemporary musicians.  He’s sometimes referred to as “the missing Beatle,” for crying out loud.

Keep your mind open.

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Underworld – Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future


What do you do when you’re one of the biggest electronic acts in the world and you decide to return from a six-year hiatus? If you’re Underworld, you drop what could be the comeback record of the year – Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future.

It’s perfectly timed; because Underworld’s newest record is also one of the most optimistic records of the year.  We need optimism right now in this bleak political atmosphere.  “I Exhale,” the first track from the record, is over eight minutes of them telling us to take a deep breath and let go of all the molehills we’ve built into mountains.  In the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, it’s good to hear a song that tells us that “everything is golden” and to look toward “the light…a globe on the horizon.”  “If Rah,” with its thumping beats, acknowledges that everyone suffers, but “Life isn’t shit.”  It encourages us to “Have a good time.”

The opening synths of “Low Burn” could be something from a John Carpenter film score, but the dance floor percussion reminds us to “be bold, be beautiful, free, totally, unlimited.”  The song bounces and soars, as if the low burn in the title references a lift-off from the planet.

The Spanish-style acoustic guitar on “Santiago Cuatro” is an interesting surprise and instantly intriguing.  It borders on Middle Eastern rhythms and becomes a meditative piece with minimal percussion and odd, slightly fuzzed radio transmissions.

“Motorhome,” with its “Baba O’Riley”-like synths, gives the bluntest advice on the whole record.  “What don’t lift you drags you down.  Keep away from the dark side.” Life would be better for all of us if we spurned negativity and embraced compassion.  “Ova Nova” is light-hearted, highly danceable, and ready for your Summer of 2016 playlist.  “Nylon Strung” is a bold love song with Depeche Mode-like synths and simple, giddy-love lyrics like “I wanna hold you, laughing.”

This is a tremendous return for Underworld, and for all of us, to a world of bliss that is ours for the taking whenever we want it.  We just have to be bold enough to live it.

Keep your mind open.

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The Dunes release new single – “Mountain.”


June 22, 2016: The Dunes are proud to announce a new single “Mountain” which is out now on Soundcloud/Bandcamp/Youtube. The new track has all the trademarks of a track by The Dunes; reverb drenched vocals, fuzzed out guitars and bass, 60’s keys, dark buzzing synth and driving drums, but it shows the band growing and expanding their sound. The new material more truly captures the bands live set, and is a taste of things to come – with a full length album being worked on for release in later 2016.

You can listen to the track by clicking on any of the below links;

MOUNTAIN – The Dunes on Soundcloud
MOUNTAIN – The Dunes on Bandcamp
MOUNTAIN – The Dunes on YouTube

There is a little write up below on the song, as well as announcement on our next show… We can’t wait to catch up with our interstate friends and see some great music. Make sure you come along.

Keep your mind open.

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Night Beats announce summer North America tour dates

Night-Beats-18-1024x684Not taking time to rest on their laurels, Night Beats have announced a North American tour after completing their European dates with performances at the Glastonbury Music Festival.

The North American dates can be found at their website.  See them if you get the chance.  They are killing it live.

Keep your mind open.

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