Live: Seal – August 27, 2016 – New Buffalo, MI

I’ve been meaning to make it up to my wife for dragging her to see Japanese acid rockers Bo Ningen (a band she just doesn’t understand) at Levitation Austin a couple years ago, so I thought taking her to see Seal might do the trick.

He played at the Four Winds Casino Silver Creek Event Center in New Buffalo, Michigan.  The “Silver Creek Event Center,” mind you, is just a big carpeted room the casino can use for everything from a Seal concert to a wedding reception. It is much smaller than the venue  map on Ticketmaster’s website makes it appear.  I’m happy to say that the acoustics in the place are quite good, however.  The whole show sounded great.

Part of that is because Seal is a great performer.  It was him, a DJ / synthesizer player, and a guitarist on stage.  No drummer.  No horn section.  No bass player.  They didn’t need any of them.  Seal opened the set with “Crazy,” his biggest hit here in the U.S., and the crowd was instantly on its feet.  His voice hasn’t lost any power since the song was released in 1991, and I loved the way his band turned it into a bit of a dark wave tune with the synth work.  “Killer,” another early hit, followed it with even more of a dark wave feel to it with heavy synth bass.

IMG_3326The first track they played from Seal’s new album, 7, was “Daylight Saving,” a gorgeous love song that preceded another from the same album, “Do You Ever.”  “Prayer for the Dying” was another heartbreaking cut (to the point it made my wife cry) that led into “Love’s Divine.”


A surprise was his cover of Hall & Oates‘ “Sara Smile” (with Seal on back-up guitar).  “Love,” the last song on 7, led into the first verse of David Bowie‘s “Space Oddity,” and I thought my wife was going to slide off her chair.


“Deep Water” was another beautiful track, and then came another surprise – Seal’s cover of Tears for Fears‘ “Mad World,” which he dedicated to the victims of the recent earthquake in Italy.  “My Vision” and “Right Life” got everyone up and moving again, and he even threw in a little bit of Chic‘s “Le Freak.”  The fourth cover of the night was Prince‘s “Hot Thing,” which was one of the funkiest tunes of the night and closed out the main set to a standing ovation.

The encore consisted of “Kiss from a Rose” and then another track from 7, “Life on the Dancefloor,” which had everyone dancing and grooving and leaving on a good buzz.  I saw two ladies a few rows behind us when the houselights came up, and they were dumbfounded in their chairs.  They didn’t move for several minutes.


I asked my wife if the show made up for Bo Ningen.

“Almost,” she said.  “Probably the Bo, but not the Ningen.”

I took that as a win.  Thanks, Seal.

Keep your mind open.

Rewind Review: Baby Jesus – self-titled (2014)


Hailing from Sweden and claiming to have formed after “an intense trip to India,” Baby Jesus’ self-titled album is a wild mix of psych, garage, and surf.

“Nothing’s for Me” opens the record with a swirl of cymbals and blaring guitar before the horror movie organ kicks everything into high gear. The vocals are frantic, almost “Wooly Bully” ramblings. That means they’re a blast, by the way. “Trembling Away” continues the madness and the organ blares through everything, which is a feat considering how damn loud and bonkers the song is. “Havn’t Seen the Light” is, despite the typo in the title, sharp as a tack. The guitar is like a buzzsaw, the drums are punk, the bass is a jackhammer, and the organ is an alarm klaxon.

“Don’t Want You” could be a Stooges song if the Stooges had a keyboardist as crazy as Baby Jesus. Imagine Animal from The Muppets on a Hammond B-3 instead of a drum kit and you’ll get the idea. “Nice Walk” is a surf instrumental. Yes, after four songs of psychedelic madness, Baby Jesus drops a surf number on you that sounds like they reached through a wormhole in space-time and grabbed it from a record store in 1965.

“Cry, Cry, Cry” isn’t a cover of the Johnny Cash song (although that would be great), but it is a wild breakup song with enough cymbal crashes for an entire record. The title of “Deep Blue Delay” might refer to the delay effects pedals used on the guitars in the song, but it’s probably about something trippy that happened to the band in India. Regardless, the guitar work on it is crazy with plenty of distortion and reverb. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Theremin mixed with it. “You Make Me Fry” is another lambasting of a bad relationship, and “Vansinne” is a swanky psychedelic lounge tune with fantastic saxophone work.

“Time’s All Gone” is a fitting title for the last song on any record, and Baby Jesus makes the most of their last track by, believe it or not, scaling back the cacophony. It’s the mellowest track on the album, with echoing vocals, groovy synths, and that surf sound they do so well.

I hope these guys are working on some new material, because this full-length debut is a good omen of what’s in store for them and us. I hope they tour with Goat. That would be a mind-melting double bill.

Keep your mind open.

DJ set list for August 28, 2016

Thanks to all who listened to what might be my last show of the 2016 summer.  There’s a chance I’ll be on air September 4th, but it depends on if I’m back from a trip to Chicago at a decent hour.  Here’s my set list for last night:

  1. Baby Jesus – Trembling Away
  2. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Afro (live)
  3. ORB – First and Last Men
  4. The Humpers – You Drive Me Bats
  5. The Pack A.D. – Animal
  6. The Coathangers – Watch Your Back
  7. Bleached – I’m All Over the Place (Mystic Mama)
  8. House of Large Sizes – What If There’s a Fire?
  9. The Flaming Lips – Pilot Can at the Queer of God
  10. All Them Witches – Instrumental 2 (Welcome to the Caveman Future)
  11. Goggs – Smoke the Wurm
  12. Julian Cope – I’ve Got Levitation
  13. Julian Cope – Pulsar
  14. Clutch – The Dragonfly
  15. Captain Ivory – Broken Light
  16. L7 – American Society
  17. Soundgarden – Limo Wreck
  18. Helmet – You Borrowed
  19. Metric – Gimme Sympathy
  20. Betty Davis – He Was a Real Freak
  21. Louis Jordan – How About That
  22. Ennio Morricone – Marcetta (Marcia)
  23. De La Soul – Eye Know
  24. Ceu – Rapsodia Brasilis
  25. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hong Kong Garden
  26. Patsy Cline – Walking Dream
  27. Patsy Cline – A Church, a Courtroom, and then Goodbye
  28. The Soft Moon – Total Decay
  29. The Crystal Method – Keep Hope Alive

Keep your mind open.

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Big Grunt – In Session


Recorded on March 16, 1970 for the BBC’s legendary John Peel Show on Radio 1, Big Grunt  (Dennis Cowan  – bass, Roger Ruskin Spear – saxophone, Vivian Stanshall – vocals & euphonium, Ian Wallace – drums, Bubs White – guitar) emerged from the break-up of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.  Stanshall was a wild performance artist and psychedelic rocker, and Big Grunt combined excellent rock chops with wild costumes, robots, and enough trippy lyrics to make your head spin.

The Peel Session was only four tracks, but they’re all a neat slice of early 1970’s British psych-rock.  “Blind Date” is a quirky, weird track full of Stanshall’s goofy humor about meeting a woman from a dating service.  “11 Mustachioed Daughters” is probably the band’s biggest hit, and it’s easy to hear why with Wallace’s big drums, Cowan’s killer bass line, White’s near-stoner rock guitar, and Stanshall raving like a mad druid.

“The Strain” is about trying to poop as Stanshall sings from the perspective of whatever’s inside him and needs to get out and then about his grief as the phone rings and people knock on the door.  White’s surf guitar is outstanding on the track.  “Cyborg Signal” is a cool instrumental that shows the band weren’t just a one-trick pony that made songs about sitting on the crapper.

Mega Dodo Records has unearthed this rare recording, so don’t miss it if you’re a fan of early British psychedelia.

Keep your mind open.

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Rewind Review: Nine Inch Nails – March of the Pigs (1994)


This five-song EP / single (depending on how you think of it, I guess) from Nine Inch Nails contains the Downward Spiral album cut of the title track, which is one of Trent Reznor’s best cuts in terms of showcasing how he can go from industrial madness to quiet goth and back again in the blink of an eye.

“Reptilian” (a remix of “Reptile” by Dave Ogilvie) might refer to the deep part of our brains, or perhaps the way the song crawls around the room like a komodo dragon with its hisses, clanks, and snarls from Reznor’s guitars and synths. “All the Pigs, All Lined Up” is a remix of “March of the Pigs” that swirls techno, drum and bass, and industrial chaos around you with Reznor belting out the lyrics as sampled screaming masses cheer behind him.

“A Violent Fluid” is a quick (barely over a minute) instrumental that’s more or less an introduction to the longer instrumental of “Underneath the Skin,” which has similar themes to other NIN songs, including the gothic synthesizers, drums that sound like garbage cans, and creepy bass.

It’s a dark, brooding EP, but that shouldn’t surprise you considering the state of mind (drugged and otherwise) Reznor was in at the time it was made. The Downward Spiral is one of the best albums of the 1990’s, and this EP is a visceral slice of it.

Keep your mind open.

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Desert Daze festival lineup nearly complete.


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)


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.

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.

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).


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.

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


“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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