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13 minutes | Feb 20, 2016
Ep. 62: Karyn Ann
Let me set the stage: First, there was no stage, just a PA in the corner of a bar. I walked into the "townie bar" in my home-town of Oswego, NY a few days before Christmas and heard my childhood being dismantled as a very drunk, or possibly developmentally delayed man, screeched the lyrics to "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King. I probably shouldn't be such an asshole because the guy seemed like a super great person who just loved music and that's what it's really all about; but, still, it was a bit rough, even for an open mic night. I waited through a half-dozen acts, each interesting in their own way. I heard a lot of cover songs, acoustic versions of 90's hip-hop, some absolutely terrible attempts at self expression, and a few really intriguing originals. Then, after two beers, I see a tall, well-dressed, beautiful young woman step up to the microphone with a borrowed acoustic guitar. This is who I came to see, Karyn Ann, an old high school friend who only clued me in to her talent well after high school ended. I remember that she used to have an ovation acoustic/electric but never really played out much, though maybe that was just because we were in different scenes and I just missed it. So, this unique individual, stunning in all respects, is introduced by the MC and begins to play a cover song. The bar, a cacophony of chit-chat, begins to reverberate under the undulations of her absolutely incredible voice. The song ends and I start fumbling with my phone to get the camera going so I can take a video for this post. Being awkward and terrible, I naturally click the wrong thing and take a picture of the floor with the flash on, which attracted the ire of everyone around me; but, I did manage to videotape a song off of her new album, Into The Depths, which you can find on Bandcamp or her website. Check out more from Karyn Ann!
33 minutes | Feb 13, 2016
Ep. 61: It’s Not Night: It’s Space
Bring back the rock! It's time. My birthday was last week and, at 33, I am willing to accept that I'm too old to mess with Future and trap beats, which honestly all sound the same to me with their staccato beats; but, I can still get down and groovy to sludgy bass, booming drums, and rhythmic riffage! It's Not Night: It's space is a New Paltz-based, instrumental rock band who recorded their album, Bowing Not Knowing to What, at BSP in Kingston and Treehouse Studio here in town by Rick Birmingham, which is of note to me because, if you do any recording, mixing, or mastering yourself, you'll know how difficult it is to come away with a recording that is both powerful and crisp but they manage to do it very well on this recording. It will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up; but, it won't drown out your ear drums with overpowering mids. Check out It's Not Night: It's Space on bandcamp!
8 minutes | Feb 6, 2016
Ep. 60: Quarterbacks
There's something comforting about a 1 minute pop song. It reminds me of sitting up in bed when I was a teenager, strumming power chords on my unplugged Rickenbacker just to hear the twang and humming some thought I had from the day. Usually, I'm not going to lie, my thoughts revolved around girls. Samantha, my valentine turned first love, or what's-her-name from AP Bio who I thought was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, Mauri who actually was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. One minute odes to adolescent tunnel vision. It seems that the guy from Quarterbacks gets it. He gets that you don't need complex arrangement or odd time signatures to get your point across; and, in fact, those things often distract from the connection formed between artist and audience. One of my friends referred to Quarterbacks as lofi, cutesy emo; but, that friend is broken (trust me). That crap exists, definitely: desperate dudes trying to be one of the girls to get laid; but, there's artistry and substance in Quarterbacks that can't be glossed over. In fact, I'd say that the message sent through the lyrics never crosses over into the unempowered, self-imposed-misandry of cutesy emo and is more about growing up and sifting through complicated hormonal urges that often seem like teen angst. Check out Quarterbacks on bandcamp!
20 minutes | Jan 30, 2016
Ep. 59: Keys to the Moon
The coolest thing about living on this side of the river in the Hudson Valley is being exposed to a diverse culture, full of diverse styles and unique talents. You can go up to Kingston and see PWR BTTM (a queer duo that fucking rocks), go to the library and see subPixel (the Frank Zappa of chiptune), or go to a coffee shop and listen to Keys to the Moon, a powerful and fun throwback to a jazzier age. I heard Keys to the Moon's demo on Bandcamp and was struck by how each member's raw talent shined through. Let's start with what stuck out first: the vocals! Casey, the lead singer, has a the kind of sultry soulful tone that sends shivers up your spine. Then, I noticed the rhythm section. In jazz, the bass and guitar kind of hold down the fort and the drums are free to wander a bit, adding dynamics to the whole thing. Let me tell you, these dudes do a great job; it reminds me of what you might have run into in this area decades ago: high-quality jazz groups fronted by very talented female vocalists. Let's not forget the saxophone; Russell, the saxophonist, piqued my interest because, though the music I usually listen to doesn't include saxes, he was able to merge smooth jazz with well-controlled raucous energy, which I love! Check out Keys to the Moon on bandcamp!
12 minutes | Jan 23, 2016
Ep. 58: Diet Cig
I quit smoking recently. I made my last cigarette last three days. It tasted like shit. I'm not really telling you this for any particular reason except to say that, like, the same fucking day I decided I'm just done with cigarettes, I hear this band on bandcamp called "Diet Cig" and now not only do I have their super fun songs stuck in my head; but, I wake up in the morning with their name sliding across my mind like the scroll at the bottom of a newscast. It's driving me nuts; but, I don't mind. I think this means that The Secret is real or some shit. I think I manifested this encounter through my focus on healthy decision-making and it's a stupid fucking final test or some other dumb dramatic thing that's probably not even real. Now, if I could only manifest a super awesome girlfriend, I'd be set. I've got sweet tunes, clear lungs, and even a nice exercise routine; but, whenever I try to use The Secret to get a girl, I just imagine Oprah... and she's taken. Diet Cig is an awesome poppy punky duo from New Paltz; their songs are catchy; their lyrics are interesting; their beats have me bobbin' my head; and, I just love them. When Alex, the lead singer/guitarist, yells out, "... I just wanna dance!" I think, "Me too, Alex, me too," and, my butt starts to wiggle a little. Luckily, Noah, the drummer, provides me with a steady beat that keeps my hip in its socket. Otherwise, this would be a mess... a crumpled blob of human on the floor, twitching in 4/4. I read some reviews that tried to be real poetic about it but I can't do all that; I can just say that you should go to their bandcamp page and pick up their recordings, which come in all sorts of forms like digital, vinyl, cassette, etc. (that might be it and there might not be much etc.) Like all the bands I feature on this podcast, this is something that will last forever; it's not just a splash in the pan... or a flash even... It will endure. Check out Diet Cig on Bandcamp!
16 minutes | Jan 17, 2016
Best of The Unsigned: Shakey Graves
... "Come skin your knees with us; life's too short for a business lunch." Is that Neil Young singing backup?" I heard him sqwaking real low on "I'm on Fire" or so I thought. Instead, it turned out to be just another choral arrangement written and pitch-perfectly performed by Shakey Graves. Shakey Graves' album, "Roll the Bones," is available now on Bandcamp for any price you think it's worth (name your own). I was introduced by Daniel Harris (of Doctors Fox and solo fame) a couple of months ago and have been hooked like a fish on the lure. I don't usually get into lyrics that much and I realized it's because there are truly few lyricists out there. Shakey Graves is a lyricist. In his live performance, Shakey Graves not only plays on words; but, he also plays on melody, structure, and tone. Watch his YouTube videos after buying the album and listening to it for a while; you'll see this play out from the jaunty perspective of a camera atop a tambourine atop a hi hat. The background tosses and the singer waves. The guitar floats hastily and the tune shakes us to our graves. "Sell your belongings, all your clever drawings, and try to make a dollar from the grave. Try to forget all those enemies and debts. They'll always chase you around and give you sour dreams." Shakey Graves on Bandcamp ...Twitter ...Tumblr ...Facebook "All of my tattoos, they were of no use; no monetary values have I. It won't be long 'till I belong... without all of this unlucky skin."
18 minutes | Jan 9, 2016
Best of The Unsigned: Caterpillarmen
... I dreamt I was walking toward an illuminated circus tent. I was met at the entrance by a troop of alter boys in bondage gear. They led me inside, through a cloud of smoke and into a hall of mirrors. I emerged into the center ring where an orgy of clowns, priests, and paraphilic infantiles was presided over by the pope, with the bearded lady at his side as queen. Caterpillarmen give me nightmares. As much as I dig spazing out to their album, Babycum, they invade my subconscious and I wake up terrified and covered in sweat. The title alone gives me the creeps; but, then cum the circus melodies. "This is your fucking dream, you sick fuck!" I think it's just as likely that Caterpillarmen are commenting on the connotation of "baby" as used in popular music. For example... Justin Bieber... babies singin' "baby" ... and makin' babies in bathrooms. Caterpillarmen are from Iceland and have been touring Europe with tUnE YarDs. Their album proves that they are supremely talented, unique, and progressive; even if their song titles are incredibly disturbing. All joking aside, Caterpillarmen are radical in all ways. They show radical musicianship and are radically in your face. In the 80's, punk rockers wore swastikas in a half-sarcastic attempt to turn Reagan's America in on itself. Punks proved to pop culture that, deep down, Reagan's youth weren't any different than Hitler's, mindless drones, the lot of them. I like to think that Caterpillarmen are illuminating the dark side of the popular subconscious. I like to think they are proving that we are sycophantically encouraging perversion by praising disguised men of the cloth or those in clown make-up, a mistake the mundane make by denying the progressive attitude that drives this very unique music...
39 minutes | Jan 2, 2016
Best of The Unsigned: Waking Up to Corruption
... We continue our short series on David Bixby, Christian cults, culture, and celebrity by comparing personal spiritual experience to top-down, hierarchical systems like cults of personality. Though my lexicon may differ significantly from David's, we were able to identify many shared core principles, observations, and lessons from our communal search for purpose. [mp_list_products category="david-bixby" ] We live in an anthropic, self-similar world. In this place, things are very much as they seem; there is no need for a heaven above or a hell below. There's no need for a matrix, separating us from our true selves. In this place, the matrix is in you and all around you. Here, power can't loom over individual will; instead, we welcome the knowledge of a shared spirit weaving together our subjective experiences into a true human tapestry.
69 minutes | Dec 26, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: 3DCosby
... Transpose that line up one interval, one interval more, two intervals, 3 intervals, 5..., 8..., 13... It's strange how things build on themselves. The whole of something is rarely the sum of its parts; and, that is as true for collaborative music-making as anything else. Take two abstract progressive deconstructionists like Daniel Harris and Matt Ross (aka subPixel 1, 2) for example. Both are innovative songwriters, one breaks boundaries with ambient looping and the other with the chiptune format. Together, they manage to reach new levels of abstraction and unearth new nuggets of creativity through their long-lasting collaboration. 3DCosby overlaps serious musical chops and a deeply rooted need for something new. What I love about this project is that it finds something new in a way that doesn't highlight the structuralist sins that result, but the brotherhood between the bandmates. Very generally speaking, performers are often charged with being ego-driven, self-conscious, and image-obsessed (charges that these two are certainly innocent of); but, what's rarely highlighted is that performers require trust in each other to achieve something innovative and new. All of those hyphenated terms can be seen as good things when they are focused through a great deal of talent, which 3DCosby has sweating out of its collective grundle. The interview with
14 minutes | Dec 19, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: subPixel
... subPixel's new double EP, The Wave, is out and it's f'ing radical. This is the first time I've heard of a double EP and I'm not at all surprised that it came from subPixel. There are 2 versions of 6 songs, which makes for 12 tracks. Each song is done in two formats; the first format is live with real instruments; the second format is called "chip" and uses the same technology as 1st generation Nintendo used. What's special about subPixel's The Wave is that the two versions can be played synchronously and mixed channel-by-channel with an upcoming application made by subPixel. This is genius. It's genius AND it sounds good. There are a lot of progressive projects out there that sacrifice melody and hook in order to experiment with odd syncopation and abstract harmonies. The problem is, many of those projects get the soul squeezed out of them early in the conceptual phase and become impressive yet hollow robotic novelties. Instead of musically masturbating on tape, subPixel uses his mathematical mind to document the many levels of melody that run rhythmically through his musical mind. He's one of those guys who never stops hearing music because he never stops listening. If you're in the Hudson Valley, check out one of his performances in New Paltz! subPixel on Bandcamp ... subPixel on Facebook ... subPixel on Ubiktune 2,
29 minutes | Dec 5, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: Microphones 101
... There are many different types of microphones and the choices may be overwhelming to young musicians and sound engineers who are interested in home or field recording. If you're a budding producer, you'll never get to mogul status if you're recording artists using the wrong microphone. Similarly, if you run an underground punk venue in your basement and you want to document all the great shows, this episode will prove very helpful. Jon O'Neil is the founder of Naiant, a company that designs and manufactures innovative microphone and microphone accessories. In this episode, I ask Jon how he started his company, how its grown, and how people interested in sound recording can get the best results in a wide variety of sound spaces. Naiant's most recent U series microphone is innovative because it supports interchangeable capsules, which are the sound sensors on the microphone. This not only saves you money, but it will let you get the best performance possible in a wide variety of soundscapes such as home studios, coffee shops, student lounges, auditoriums, basements, bars, etc. Go to Naiant.com and check out all of the great, inexpensive products that Jon has created for his company, Naiant.
121 minutes | Nov 28, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: Derrick Hart
... I'm sick. My nose is running so much that I am forced to stop it up with a handful of tissues, which I transformed into some sort of nose-tampon. It's a good opportunity to play a pre-recorded interview, right? This episode is intended to mark the one-year anniversary of this podcast! Hooray for us, yay... Our first episode featured Derrick's album "The Shock You Experience at the Sudden Recollection of the Moment You were Conceived" and now we're going to feature an interview with Derrick and listen to some tracks off of his new LP, "Prodigal Songs", which can be found on Bandcamp for only $5! I've known Derrick since I was a kid. His was the first "indie" band I ever saw and he's the first person to instruct me on how to make the most out of a 4 track cassette recorder (that's an antique tool used to capture sound onto analog tape for all of you who are under 22 years old). Still, to this day, he's one of the greatest singer/songwriters I've ever seen (that means you too, Joe Cocker!). Derrick never spoke much; in the interview, he talks about spouting off about The Bible when he was younger but I never heard him do that back in the day. What I remember most is that he'd disappear for a while and then we'd hear that he showed up in Seattle or something. He always struggled with chemical addiction and he speaks very openly and honestly about it in the interview. This is also a running theme on Prodigal Songs. Derrick recently went on tour with David Bixby and they not only share the fact that they're both accomplished singer/songwriters; they have both struggled against the traps of dogmatic thinking. Derrick is helping to introduce
52 minutes | Nov 21, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: Shoppers
"You can only be light." Meredith Graves' pressured speech ignites, illuminating a cacophonous mushroom cloud of fuzz and feedback. "This resistance is reaction to the world we're raised inside." Noise erupts but never overwhelms. Shoppers' chemistry is undeniable, non-synthetic synthesis with some squealing guitar to boot. Some bands fit nicely into pre-existing genres. Those bands conform to the waves of external influence and can easily find gigs at a bar on any given Saturday night. Other bands simply do not conform. They can only be themselves. Shoppers is its own unique unit, it's a special sonic compound composed of free radicals who choose to coexist. The story told in the album "Silver Year" is that of another free radical. An enlightened young woman who's searching, in vain, to find someone as radical as she is. "All I wanted was some honest proof that people might be good and normal. How does that confuse you?" I'm a cave man, clinging to the cave walls in the dark, searching for something true without even a lantern to light my way or a shadow to keep me company. When I hear track vi. on Silver Year, I drop my knuckles to the ground and drag them around as I pace and scream, "I believe in love; I believe in truth; I believe in you." I stumbled my way through my interview with the band and this reading of Meredith's lyrics. I ask the tough questions... only in so much as they are difficult for me to ask. My view may be limited by my base qualities and steeped in traditionally gendered stereotypes; but, I can't help it. "You can not take on that sadness. You must lift your arms and fight; lean into your fear and fall into your silver year." Why do we trade innocence for acceptance? "[...] What's the point of being young and dumb if you're always too drunk to come? Let's share the blame. [...] The body is beautiful. The body is alcoholic [...] I am ashamed. Oh! I'm so good at making friends. I can really clear the room." Some dream analysts say that silver represents purity and protection; this protection often takes the form of social justice, which implies a retroactive application of natural laws or "righting wrongs." I think this applies to the story illustrated lyrically on Silver Year. The story of a girl struggling to figure out what it means to be pure and if it's the loss of that purity or the desperate clinging to its ideal that leads to her suffering. "Hit me harder
38 minutes | Nov 15, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: Mystery Skulls
... I got to be extremely awkward and weird while interviewing the man behind Mystery Skulls! Mystery Skulls' EP, EP, is available now on Bandcamp! Mystery Skulls on Bandcamp ... Tumblr ... Twitter ... Facebook
21 minutes | Nov 8, 2015
Best of The Unsigned: Roh Delikat
... The space between my ears felt raw and delicate, like when I bite my nails until I taste blood. I experienced complete sensory overload when I saw Roh Delikat in an Albany bar in 2004. Coerced into driving my friend Jackie, I wasn't sure if I'd dig it at first. Before they started playing all I saw was some three piece band fronted by a petite young woman with a serious expression who was backed by an only slightly taller, somewhat gaunt drummer and a giant, long-haired bass player. I realized what I was in for as soon as she cranked up her Gibson and started to sing. Roh Delikat is a three member gem buried deep in the underground in a dark, lonely spot known only as Allston, MA. Before Roh Delikat was done playing, I had already taken out my wallet and debated whether or not I really needed food for the next week. Could I, a poor college student, subsist only on this rock and roll? Yes. I picked up the Ant EP and spent the next few years listening obsessively. All my friends thought I was so cool for introducing them to the band. Some compared it to Denali and others compared it to Fugazi, both were right and both were wrong. At the time, the Ant EP was the only available recording. They were touring with it before the full-length "Deaf + Dear" became available. Since then, they have released another full length called "Sunny", which contains a couple of the tracks off of the original EP. But, the Ant is nowhere to be found. I couldn't even find the track listing online, which is why I had to guess at the last song's title. It's one of my favorite songs and I realized it after waking up a few days ago with it playing, unprompted, in my head. Thank you, Roh Delikat, thank you very much! "Deaf + Dear" and
21 minutes | Oct 31, 2015
Ep. 57: Pecas
I've never done heroin; but, I think this is what an overdose sounds like, so sweet, so calm, so serene. Listening to Pecas, my limbs start to sway with languid abandon and my face softens from its usual grimace to form a very strange smile. Frankly, I'm surprised I recovered from this whole experience without retreating to a temple and turning into a monk or committing some other high-minded spiritual act. You may not be able to resist the reveille that Pecas' subtle sounds incite. I dare you to pick up the album Dwelling from Bandcamp and give it a try. Some of the album is haunting and some is soothing but it's all surprisingly catchy and, what impresses me the most, is the diverse range of sounds that converge on each track. I asked Sandy, who's mainly responsible for this great work, what her writing/recording process is, since there are many collaborators listed on the Bandcamp page. She said that she basically begins with a melody and that her songs grow from there. I can hear that and I think it's another great example of how independent recording, free of the hourly fees that studio demands, has changed composition at its core. Sandy relates a wonderful example: "Waters was one of the most experimental songs on the album and probably the most fun to record. I made the beat by recording myself beat boxing and snapping my fingers and just looped that. And then, I'm not sure where the idea came but somehow I realized that my boyfriend was really good at playing crystal glasses, and so one night we filled some glasses and tuned them to the song and it created a really awesome substitute for strings. That kind of experimentation, playfulness, and creation of sounds is what I love to do." Check out Pecas' Bandcamp page!
25 minutes | Oct 24, 2015
Ep. 56: Red Sled Choir
Have you ever listened to a song and had the hair on the back of your neck stand up or goosebumps pop up all over your body? If not, listen to Red Sled Choir's Trades EP in headphones and I can guarantee you'll feel that jolt. There's something about the slow builds and beautiful vocal harmonies that collide against my central nervous system, overwhelming it. I've known the man behind Red Sled Choir for a very long time and I consider myself one of his oldest fans. Back in college, when we were in a band together, I always felt in competition with him creatively; but, looking back on it, I see it for what it was, inspiration. He never fails to inspire the people around him through his art or through his gentle personality. What a good dude. What a good album. Red Sled Choir on Bandcamp!
16 minutes | Oct 17, 2015
Ep. 55: Lives of the Obscure
I saw Lives of the Obscure at Snugs in New Paltz along with Los Doggies and they were so much fun! Four guys, roughly three telecasters (I want one so badly now), great energy, and catchy tunes that reminded me of the kind of pop-punk I listened to back in the late 90's that actually had artistic merit. The lyrics have a sarcastic edge to them even when they're not necessarily sarcastic. I'm always impressed by bands that can push the bounds of a genre, as Lives of the Obscure do through their lyrics and melodies, without sacrificing the catchy qualities that make their music palpable. See them live and stop yourself from bobbing your head, I dare you. Lives of the Obscure on Bandcamp!
18 minutes | Oct 8, 2015
Ep. 54: Los Doggies
I don't even know what to write about Los Doggies except that they're a group of super-geniuses who are great live and use their immense talents for the good of pop; they also don't get lost in the weeds of experimentalism, which lots of really talented people do. They find ways to show their skills in a palpable manner, which makes them even more impressive to me. They're fun, nice, and interesting dudes to boot. None of that pretentious bullshit here, just in it for the tunes and sweet licks.
17 minutes | Oct 3, 2015
Ep. 53: Ancient Sky
I saw Ancient Sky at Snugs in New Paltz soon after I moved back. They had an awesome vibe and lots of raw energy. The music speaks for itself. I spoke with one of the guys when we bought their cd and he said that there's been some lineup changes but that 'Mosaic', their most recent album, is what they were playing live. I should have bought all of the cds though because they're all good in their own ways. Luckily, you can get all of them on Bandcamp. Ancient Sky on Bandcamp
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