cover by nacrowe
when i was in VENEZUELA i came across CHILEAN SYNTHPOP singer JAVIERA MENA and her soothing brand of INDIE POP that probably lies somewhere on the spectrum between the sonic experimentalism of LYKKE LI and the brash immediacy of CHARLI XCX.
her earlier material is more acoustic driven in the style of early SHAKIRA, but worth seeking out as well. she has a new LP coming up soon so look out for that and check out her music below.
brooklyn R&B/FUNK trio THE VISIONS go way back with DEER GOD. back to the days of the former [the end] studio in greenpoint where they were recorded and mixed by our engineers.
they definitely have a sound that channels classic PRINCE with their lilting falsettos and supporting harmonies that really set a chill vibe. all while keep the groove as a live ensemble on their instruments. they are quite the live band and having witnessed their labor intensive recording process firsthand i can attest that they work very hard to produce harmonies this easy on the ears.
recently they put out a new single "ONLY ONE" which you should definitely check out below or hit up their BANDCAMP for further info.
one night when i was living in JAPAN i came across a live performance series on YouTube that showcased current 4AD artists including ST. VINCENT, MARK LANEGAN, GANG GANG DANCE, BLONDE REDHEAD, SPACEGHOSTPURRP, THE BIG PINK and an artist i wasn't familiar with called TWIN SHADOW.
for me the song of LOS ANGELES-based musician/producer GEORGE LEWIS JR can be summed in one word: seduction. check out his work below.
i saw THE DRESDEN DOLLS way back in the day opening for MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE at a small club in MANHATTAN in the mid-2000s. one of the things i always appreciated about going to a MINDLESS show was that their openers were always eclectic and often confrontational. once they had a jug band open that play with a clown singer that never sang, just kept honking a bulb horn.
obviously the BOSTON-based THE DRESDEN DOLLS and their minimalist-yet-baroque, cabaret-influenced sound proved in retrospect to be quite influential on the INDIE ROCK scene. songwriter AMANDA PALMAR confronted gender expectations head-on with her inventive lyrics that often dealt with themes surrounding sexual politics and the nature of identity. i can see her forceful outspoken presence and inclusive politics in everyone from PARAMORE to ST. VINCENT and even fellow scene colleagues TEGAN & SARA.
i always appreciated their fearlessness and musicianship. BRIAN VIGLIONE was a monster behind the kit who was also the rare drummer capable of expressive moments which were crucial in selling THE DRESDEN DOLLS idiosyncratic, off-kilter tempo-shifts. almost like a cross between GINGER BAKER and ALAN MYERS of DEVO. in the years since their 2008 hiatus and subsequent one-off reunions, he has kept busy with stints in VIOLENT FEMMES, BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL and various solo projects as well as collaborating on recordings with NINE INCH NAILS, WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY and even RADIATOR KING (released by STATEN ISLAND's own SOUNDEVOLUTION MUSIC).
reportedly set to release new music this year, THE DRESDEN DOLLS are definitely worth checking out.
cover by nacrowe
GUADELAJARA-based GARAGE PUNK band LE BUTCHERETTES is basically the brainchild of enigmatic front-woman TERI GENDER BENDER and has gained over the years quite the formidable live reputation and a rabid following in the MEXICAN and INDIE ROCK communities of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. on past releases they have worked with OMAR RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ of AT THE DRIVE-IN / THE MARS VOLTA / ANTEMASQUE fame as a producer and tourmate as well as collaborated on original material with the likes of IGGY POP and JOHN FRUSCIANTE.
its definitely worth check them out.
years ago when my time as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA was coming to a close, i learned that i was able to secure a teaching position at an international school in VENEZUELA. its funny because i have former peers on the international teaching circuit who will only take positions in first-world situations like EUROPE, AUSTRALIA or select countries in the MIDDLE EAST and ASIA. i've actively sought out places that weren't necessarily in line with what i was familiar with (which explains my teaching career of being in MYANMAR, ALBANIA and of course VENEZUELA).
anyway, once learning i was gonna be in SOUTH AMERICA in 6 months i went about reading as much as i could about VENEZUELA and the region. i highly recommend EDUARDO GALEANO's epic ant-colonialist OPEN VEINS OF SOUTH AMERICA (MONTHLY REVIEW PRESS, 1971) as well as COMANDANTE (PENGUIN, 2013) by RORY CARROLL of THE GUARDIAN newspaper. i also investigated for months as much SOUTH AMERICAN music as i could locate online.
so glad i did because i discovered the music of ANA TIJOUX. she is a CHILEAN MC by way of FRANCE and her work is entirely an extension of her unique political, socio-economic and inclusive worldview. i very much view her in the tradition of other politically conscious artists of years past like PUBLIC ENEMY, WOODY GUTHRIE, M.I.A. and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.
her parents emigrated from CHILE to FRANCE in the 1970s after the overthrow and murder of the democratically-elected SALVADOR ALLENDE by the UNITED STATES-backed military dictator AUGOSTO PINOCHET. what followed in CHILE was a brutal military dictatorship that basically fell in line with the insatiable capitalist needs of the AMERICAN economy for copper (which we use for electrical wiring and consumer electronics).
when i listen to the music of TIJOUX i am reminded of the perspectives of the inhabitants of countries who resources are essentially exploited for western capitalism. its a narrative often ignored and wholesale discounted.
discovering her work and the pride she showed in being SOUTH AMERICAN was something i greatly admired even before i got to the continent. the music itself often makes use of elements of indigenous music and re-contextualizes them in a HIP HOP context, much like M.I.A. before with the indian subcontinent or SEPULTURA with the XANANTE tribe of eastern BRASIL on their album ROOTS.
i highly recommend her music to anyone interested in HIP HOP or LATIN AMERICAN culture. totally worth it.
i came across the SÃO PAULO-based INDIE ROCK band CSS in the early 2000s when i was reading culture BRITISH magazines like DAZED AND CONFUSED and SLEAZENATION (remember that one?), both of whom were celebrating the rise of ELECTROCLASH and NO WAVE-inspired INDIE acts on both sides of the pond.
what i loved about CSS (who sadly haven't released any new material since 2013 in the wake of member changes) was their decidedly amateurish, carefree danceable sound that was both goofy and infectious. their music is just fun. and their front-woman LOVEFOXXX is joy personified.
definitely check them out.
part of the fun of having a radio show is creating playlists and discovering music you were previously unfamiliar with. i was pleasantly surprised recently when researching for the SUB POP RECORDS episode of the DEER GOD RADIO show to come across the AUSTRALIAN INDIE ROCK band ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER who have a melodic, almost SHOEGAZE inspired sound that is hypnotic, lush and intoxicating.
i welcome anyone interested to check them out.
i first came across the powerhouse voice of BRITISH singer LOUISE ROSE ALAN, aka FOXES, when she was on an episode of BALCONY TV shot on the roof of the old [the end] studio in GREENPOINT (and mixed by BRIAN of DEER GOD) back in 2013. i remember being abroad in ALBANIA at the time scrolling through dozens of BALCONY TV episodes and just being knocked out by her presence and intense vocals. it was like, who is sheeee?
i know across the pond she is known for her infectious DANCE POP sound, but in all honesty i find the stripped down sessions that focus on her powerful voice to be more representative of her range as a vocalist. because of our past live mixing work, we included her in our DEER GOD RADIO episode back in MARCH 2019 dedicated all THE ARISTS WE'VE RECORDED, FILMED, OR MIXED.
currently she is in the lab cooking up new sounds. i invite you to check out her music. enjoy.
MARK LANEGAN is a national treasure. i feel bad comparing artists sometimes when they are both great, but for my tastes (as i explained in a recent DEER GOD RADIO episode dedicated to 4AD RECORDS) LANEGAN is the equal if not superior singer to his celebrated SEATTLE contemporary CHRIS CORNELL of SOUNDGARDEN.
first off, i love them both. in fact i have a whole DGR episode dedicated to SOUNDGARDEN. what separates them to me is the depth of feeling that LANEGAN seems to drive from. there is something primordial, immediate and just dark that comes off in his singing, like he is channeling some deep inner pain in the best tradition of BILLIE HOLIDAY. when i listen to CORNELL i admire his abilities as a lyricist foremost and his range second, but its like comparing ELLA FITZGERALD with BILLIE HOLIDAY. one has better range and diction and the other has the voice that is suffering incarnate.
if you are unfamiliar with LANEGAN or his work in SCREAMING TREES, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE or his solo work and collaborative albums, i highly suggest you check the dude out. definitely worth the effort.
the OREGON-based SLUDGE METAL/STONER ROCK band RED FANG is renowned as much for their comically infantile yet ingenious music videos often depicting such blue collar staples as SASQUATCH, DAGORHIR, TIME TRAVEL and PABST BLUE RIBBON as they are for their crushing BLACK SABBATH meets MELVINS sound.
just an awesome consistent band that keeps on delivering. check out their music.
over a year ago when we were in the planning stages of what later became our OFF THE M series of live performance videos at the TRANS PECOS and MARKET HOTEL venues in NYC, we were looking for possible artists to showcase. bay area INDIE band NO VACATION was the first band that i straight away wanted to film after listening through their complete recorded output.
as mentioned before, my senior year of high school i moved from KUWAIT to SACRAMENTO to live with a distant relative in the aftermath of 9/11. by far the weirdest moment i had that year was going to a graduation party where there were videos playing of memories going back to elementary school. none of it had anything to do with me. THAT is the vibe i get from NO VACATION. their atmospheric brand of dream pop is a hazy mix of reverb drenched feedback and single-note passages that sounds nostalgic or yearning for some time gone by that i cannot discern. like a bittersweet memory.
oh yeah, they rejected our invitation to be a part of the series. no matter, i still love their catalogue and look forward to their next release. check them out.
one of the things that always turned me off of METAL and ALTERNATIVE ROCK in general were the fans. i don't think i'm all alone in that. too often the atmosphere at ROCK shows seemed to cater to some dumbed down, conservative mindset that wasn't inclusive of women or multiple varieties of masculinity. in fact, i can remember going to OZZFEST years back in high school, pre 9/11 and feeling this weight of all the total right-wing bullshit that was flying around both on-stage and from the crowd. had these people never read OZZY's lyrics to "War Pigs" or maybe the better question is could they read those lyrics.
TORCHE is a powerful, anthemic modern STONER ROCK/SLUDGE METAL outfit from MIAMI whose members had previously played in respected underground bands FLOOR and CAVITY. for me their music hits that emotional sweet spot that splits the difference between the brutality and advance technicality of modern METAL while also indulging in sustained feedback and looped harmonics that are indicative of SHOEGAZE. seems almost besides the point (and really, who cares?) to mention that vocalist/guitarist STEVE BROOKS is one of the few openly gay men in METAL. much like ROB HALFORD before him, my hope is that this increased exposure will end this common denominator, caveman-like posturing that has plagued METAL shows forever. has no place now unless you live in TRUMP country. in that case, drag you knuckles away.
TORCHE is a tremendous band and their new album ADMISSION just takes it all to another level. highly recommended.
when i moved to JAPAN a few years ago i came across GRIMES and her expansive electronic-baed production through my students. to me her work is what modern pop music should be: inventive, youthful, intelligent, ebullient and just a little bit eccentric. and as witnessed in the videos below, her music and their corresponding visuals are beyond eccentric in the tradition of BJÖRK, M.I.A, FKA TWIGS, MADONNA and LADY GAGA.
i put her within that tradition of female artists since their visuals match the expansiveness and depth of creativity found in their music. in recent years there has been a wide swath of artists that are eccentric for the sake of attention (cough, cough, KATY PERRY, RIHANNA, NICKI MINAJ, etc). not the case with GRIMES at all. she's the real deal. a respected musician / producer in charge of her image and blurring lines the lines between art and music. all hail.
when SRI LANKAN-born, BRITISH mc M.I.A. came on the scene in the 2000s she was a revelation partly due to the unique production of her first two records and partly due to the unique global scope of her lyrics.
given the dearth of powerful female mcs at the time (and since), it is quite remarkable that this daughter of emigre political refugees from SRI LANKA (her father was involved with the TAMIL TIGERS) would assume such an outspoken role in such a hostile genre. it is not lost on anyone that women involved in the genre usually have to debase themselves with overly sexualized videos in order to gain traction in the industry (exemplified by likes of NICKI MINAJ, CARDI B, RIHANNA, MEGAN THEE STALLION, LIL' KIM and FOXY BROWN). in a sense M.I.A. is a bit of a throwback to a previous era where women where considered equals in terms of their lyrical content (artists like SALT-N-PEPA, QUEEN LATIFAH, MC LYTE, LAUREN HILL and MISSY ELLIOT). it is almost comical that she was side-by-side with NICKI MINAJ in a now overlooked MADONNA video, since in my mind they are opposite ends of the spectrum, almost like comparing PJ HARVEY or PATTI SMITH to CHRISTINA AGUILERA. but maybe i am off-base for making comparisons between female artists. let them have the freedom to portray themselves as they wish to represented. amen.
for me what separates M.I.A. from her competition (of both genders) is her use of sound collages and lyrical refrains that represent the hidden communities of underdeveloped countries around the world. hearing a song that deconstructs the power of money ("$20" off of KALA) within a third-world context is something that i have seen firsthand abroad living in NIGERIA and ALBANIA but have rarely come across in pop culture. it is just not part of the idiom of mass entertainment. same goes for her visuals which can showcase everything from amorous GIFS from the ARAB world (think about how much subterfuge is involved in that) to BOLLYWOOD dance production to Indian subcontinent visual culture of hand-painted shop signs.
when i hear her records i intuit that i am riding along an artist in full control of her artistic vision. not to get back to my point about female representation in HIP HOP, but i get the feeling M.I.A. would never allow herself to get drawn into that game. in her i see another singular artist in the vein of past luminaries like BJÖRK, EMMYLOU HARRIS, PJ HARVEY, CARLY SIMON, JANIS JOPLIN, PATTI SMITH and MARIANNE FAITHFUL who follow their own distinct lead.
could not recommend her music any stronger. check her out.