Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Perry Brown -- Become My Blood

I'm really sad that Become My Blood didn't come out a few weeks earlier. If it had, it absolutely would have been on my top 10 of 2016. Be that as it may, I imagine it'll stick with me throughout 2017. Brown's made a name for himself in these parts for his powerful music with his main gig, Fire Mountain. Now, Brown's demonstrating his songwriting chops with slower, more contemplative songs in his first solo album, Become My Blood. It's a rock album about one of the least rock'n'roll things there are: settling down and raising a family.


Each song on the album is a masterpiece by itself. Brown brings a beautiful intensity to his songs by creating beautiful, distinctive melodies that are couched in Americana but sound like something you haven't quite heard before. Each song is distinctive and will cling to your memory long after your first, tenth, or (in my case by now) twentieth spin -- and I only got the album about a week ago. Brown continues in the path beaten by Joey Kneiser and Glossary: it's rock'n'roll that is beautiful, wise, and comforting. Become My Blood also marks the return of one of my favorite labels, This is American Music, from a short hiatus -- and what a comeback it is. I can't wait for the next projects Brown and TIAM put out. This made the new year a happy one indeed.


Perry Brown -- Fire Mountain's Official Site, Fire Mountain's Facebook, Fire Mountain's Bandcamp, Purchase Become My Blood on Bandcamp,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mavis Staples -- "MLK Song"

I don't have too many words to reflect on King Day today. Certainly there are many more eloquent pieces out there. Mavis Staples, though, has lived the Civil Rights Movement. And so the best words today are those that come from our elders and those who are inextricably bound in the Work.



Staples will be releasing yet another album -- I believe her third in five years -- in February. Keep an eye out here for it.

Mavis Staples -- Facebook, Preorder on iTunes, Pre-order from Anti- Records

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jackie Venson -- Live at Strange Brew

Not too long ago I told you about how much I enjoyed Jackie Venson's debut album, The Light in Me. But as much as I enjoyed it, Venson is a blues guitarist and, as such, I knew that I was missing a part of the experience by listening to studio recordings of the songs. Now, I don't need to wonder.


Live at Strange Brew not only showcases Venson's songwriting -- which tends to be more nuanced than the typical blues song -- or her vocal talent, but her showmanship and guitar chops. Folks, she SHREDS. But Venson, unlike the typical guitar hero, uses her solos in service to the songs, not as an opportunity to vomit technical skills everywhere. We can see this in her effortless shifts between blues, rock, and reggae throughout her songs. She clearly lives to be on stage, and if you can't hear it in her fancy fretwork, it comes through in her relaxed banter with the crowd. It's always thrilling to see (or in this case, here) someone in their element. Live at Strange Brew is one of those rare live albums that captures the spontaneity of great musicians at their best.


Jackie Venson -- Official, Facebook, Purchase on Amazon

Thursday, January 12, 2017

VIDEO: Melaena Cadiz -- "At the Symphony"

I thought I'd take a look back through some of the music videos I've received in the past year. I already told you about how great Melaena Cadiz's Sunfair was. But in case you needed a reminder, watch this video from my favorite song on the album. We could all use something a little spacey and uplifting right now.



Melaena Cadiz -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shadow of Comfort -- Not From Here

I have a soft spot for Albaquerque. It's not the prettiest city, but Sadie's does have the best salsa this side of the Rio Grande and, of course, it's hard to top watching the sun play off of Mount Sandia throughout the day. So that's what piqued my interest in Shadow of Comfort -- I just don't really get that much music coming from New Mexico even though this is, like, a country music blog.




Shadow of Comfort's brash rock'n'roll is laced with those southwestern leanings but has the forthrightness and passion of heartland rock. Basically, any fans of classic rock will love this short little EP. The band's energy is contagious and can't help but put a smile on my face.

Shadow of Comfort -- Facebook, Soundcloud, Spotify

Monday, January 9, 2017

G.L.O.S.S. -- Trans Day of Revenge

I slept on this band and I'm sorry I did. Girls Living Outside of Society's Shit is/was remarkable for sticking to their guns. GLOSS was unapologetically trans*, feminist, and intersectional -- shattering preconceptions of who makes hardcore punk and who listens to it. As a result, the music itself isn't my jam, though lead singer Sadie Switchblade's side project Dyke Drama produced one of my favorite albums.

So why am I featuring an album that I could only get through once? Because it's important.


The intolerable treatment trans* people have received in this society is only going to get worse under Trump. Two trans* women that we know of have been killed in the first nine days of the year. Two deaths in just over a week are the reason why Trans* Day of Remembrance exists. This is an international day to honor our fallen trans* and gender-noncomforming siblings, a solemn day that G.L.O.S.S. has nodded to in the EP's title. The killers, until very recently, often go free because police investigations, when they even happen, are not helpful:

WHEN PEACE IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR DEATH
IT'S OUR TURN TO GIVE VIOLENCE A CHANCE!

KILLER COPS AREN'T CROOKED
SOLDIERS FOR BASTARDS, THEY DO AS THEY'RE TOLD
THE COURTS AREN'T CORRUPT
MALICIOUS, VIOLENT, THEY MAINTAIN CONTROL

FUCK THE PEACE KEEPING FUCK THE CALM
THE INVESTIGATION IS A FUCKING CON.
THE TRUTH IS KNOWN BENEATH THE GUN
BLACK LIVES DON'T MATTER IN THE EYES OF THE LAW 


And there is even less reason to have faith in government institutions after the 20th. But Trans Day of Revenge also empowers its trans* and queer listeners:

WE LIVE/EVEN AS WE WONDER WHY
WE LIVE/WITH TRAUMA LOCKED INSIDE
WE FIGHT/AGAINST THE URGE TO DIE
PARCHED FOR LOVE AND CAST ASIDE

CHILDHOOD SHAME/INTERNAL BLAME
THIS MESS BORE A COMPLEX PAIN
WE LIVE AND DIE/AGAINST THE GRAIN
FOR OURSELVES WE LIVE 


For the several times I've been harassed since the election, I've become acutely aware of how misplaced my sense of safety is as I go about my life -- a low-grade dread that stalks people who are not white, male, or masculine-presenting far more often than it does myself. I've given in to moments of despair, but attitudes like GLOSS' -- that it's not enough to simply hold your head high but stay true to yourself and fight back as well -- will give me and others a lifeline (literally) to make it through.

G.L.O.S.S. has put thier money where their mouths are. They famously turned down a generous deal from Epitaph Records because they felt it would interfere with their values. Shortly thereafter, they felt that the pressures of mainstream media attention made the band a stressful rather than healing experience. As a result, the band is calling it a day -- with each other. But keep your eyes and ears out for their future projects.



G.L.O.S.S. -- Bandcamp

Friday, January 6, 2017

Slingshot Dakota -- Break

Slingshot Dakota rounds out the lineup of that fateful Shondes concert, certainly one of the best I saw this past year. When the duo took the stage, I had concerns: the drummer had an elaborate kit and the singer was armed with a synthesizer. To be honest, I am dubious of music that doesn't include at least a guitar (see the blog's tagline.) It did not take me long to be blow away. Tom Patterson, it turns out, is a force of nature who uses his entire body while playing the dreams, using each symbol and tom to draw musicality out of the beat even as he's careening through top speeds. Carly Comando wields the synth like a guitar, exuding tones that sound like distorted strings while maintaining the modular tones of a piano.


Break represents the duo's struggles and triumphs from their recent shift to pursuing music full-time. They write in the liner notes, "Sometimes we try so hard to keep it together that we don't realize what we gain from having it all fall apart. Breaking allows the bad to escape so all of the good things can seep into the cracks." I recently had a year where I learned this the hard way (though there's no easy way to learn it.) At times euphoric like "You," with its unusual, brain-candy hook; at times triumphant like "Doreen," and despairing as in "Too Much", Break is the soundtrack to anyone's toughest year. But it can also help us remember the strength needed to get through it. Either way, Break is what you'll need for the upcoming year.



Slingshot Dakota -- Facebook, Bandcamp