Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My First Hiatus

I've been doing a different kind of writing two weeks & to help w/ that I've was being very picky w/ what I listened to, read, & even watched.
Push 2 Stops is not over by any means; I have some stuff that I'm eager to share.
My creative writing project is nearing it's end, I think, I wont bore you w/ the details.
I expect to have a new review up next week w/ hopes of it being up this weekend.
Push 2 Stops still accepting submissions: Push2Stops[at]gmail[dot]com
I'm sorry I've taken so long to mention the delay, but I didn't expect this burst of creativity to be so big or last so long.

Monday, October 5, 2009

If the 90s Must Come Back, Let it be The Last Relapse

Here's a little Props Post about a band out of Alpharetta, Georgia. The Last Relapse is working on there first LP but sent me their demo. It reminds me of the 90s, but in a good way. The band consists of David Holding (guitar, vocals), Justin Canada (drums, vocals), Ben Barlament (guitar, vocals), & Michael Buckner (bass).
Sleep is an atmospheric track that rocks you to sleep into some kind of extraordinary dream, like inter-demential or space travel. It ends w/ these sort of Deerhunter like vocals & lets you down easy. Speak Before You Think picks you back up w/ a much more pop feel w/ a Bright Eyes-like vocal pattern. Simple drums & guitars are held together w/ friendly bass, encouraging a sing a long. It's probably my least favorite track, but I imagine it's positive message will be well received. Machine is dramatic & self loathing, & this is where The Last Relapse really shines for me. It makes me want to write about how much I hate myself, yell about everything wrong w/ the world, & pound the floor--it's so full of 90s angst. I don't, the world's not so bad, & the floor has always been there for me, but it gets you, it pulls you in, it's quite enjoyable. The bridge is especially nice & well crafted.
The quality of the recordings is low, but a well produced LP is something I look forward too. Their next show is 21 October @ Caledonia Lounge in Athens, Georgia. Check out their MySpace page for shows & music.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've been Indoctrinated

Just last month I was told about a band called Religious Girls from the East Bay in California. I checked out their MySpace page & thought they were pretty good, forgot about them for one reason or another but later learned they would be playing a dirt cheap show here in the city. I had to check it out.

After one show I had to check out another. They are like Noise done right or like Animal Collective on Peyote & PCP. I went to the first show last Thursday; it was hosted by The Tower 102.5 FM an up & coming college radio station here in SF--who did a great job by the way--@ Sub-Mission. The second was Friday--yes, the very next night--@ El Rincon.

They start off sound checking just like any other band--w/ the addition of one member providing grease paint to the others--& slowly it starts to come together. Even after seeing these guys two nights in a row I'm still unsure how much is actually sound check versus a planned transition from chaos to harmony to harmonious chaos. Soon enough the legion of floor toms sets off the inductees in convulsive dance & as quickly as it starts it stops, & so to do the fans. Religious Girls control the crowd like a skilled puppeteer. It's clear many of the inductees are only paying attention to massive noise of so much percussion & chants, oblivious to the the well weaved textures & atmosphere this band creates. It's easy to get lost in so much adrenaline; it's easy to lose your sight & speak in tongues. But for me seeing a band live is so much about getting a better understanding of the nuances of their music & never has any band made me enjoy the turning of knobs & the pushing of buttons like this; never have two players of the same simple arpeggiation back & forth put me in such a frenzy; never has affected voices surprised me so & made me think "that sound isn't a sample, but that guy right there." The followers are so devoted they seem to become part of the show, from the knocking over instruments to catching them before they hit the ground, to make-shift mic-stands, to the visuals of crowd surfing--which I generally find more annoying than entertaining--to the lifting of Dylan into the crowd as he plays his who-knows-what. It could be argued that these fans are part of Religious Girls. The shows are indoctrination & baptism comes by paint. During the end of the second to the last song Nick passes out paint and dishes a fair amount on to his drum set. By this time Guy has already moved into the audience & Dylan has come back to solid ground. As paint is laid down on a floor tom in the middle of the audience, a small young lady--maybe even a 16 year old w/ a fake--says, you might wanna move or you'll ruin your suit. I position her in front of me which seems well received. Band members take paint from their instruments & smudge the faces of the crowd. The girl in front of me reaches in herself, turns to me & marks my left cheek. I remember falling in love w/ Ester on a train, two marks on her cheek, looking like a pale stick indian. (I'll do something for the first one to call that reference, I'm not sure what, but something.) She turns back around just before high-hats quite everyone down. Drums come in & the room is rocking again waiting for what's to come. The music breaks & the band howls a chant to the heavens, the roof disappears & it's not long before everyone is involved in this call & response between floor toms & chanting. Nick has also moved into the crowed favoring an arched back posture as he holds his mic to the followers. Howling, slamming, paint splattering, we are taken to another plain, a new kind of high, this sort of peace from momentum; we are all Religious Girls.

When it's over you are happy, you are connected to everyone & everything, faith in humanity is restored, & you can't help but smile @ everyone you see & they can't help but smile back because you know something that they know & you both know that not everyone knows what you now share.

After both shows I made contact w/ members--both very nice--& hopefully I will be doing a proper review of their EP in the near future. Religious Girls' next show is on the 26th of September @ The Plea for Peace Center in Stockton, California.

Photo Credit: © Collin Sensesenbaugh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Get Played on "On the Spot with Ashley"

What a crazy last couple weeks--totally a good thing. For those of you who are not following me on Twitter I've recently meet a DJ from Cal State Fullerton's radio station. She is starting a show called On the Spot with Ashley. The premise of the show is to promote under the radar bands. So I thought it'd be a good idea to help those interested in getting air play on a college radio show. Send her an email & get some air play mcgeeashc [at] msn [dot] com

Listen to On the Spot with Ashley this Thurday @ 8 P.M. Check comments for updates or visit http://tir.fullerton.edu for more info.

Photo Credit: © TonyTh3B3at Photography

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't Call them Foolish, They Know the Ghosts in this Town.

A few weeks ago I got my hands on a copy of Eep!, the latest EP by Los Angeles two-piece Lazy Loons. Lazy Loons is made up of Phil Freedman & Dane Rivera, both sing, play guitar, autoharp & drums. Phil also plays bass & banjo on Eep! while Dane plays thumb piano & handled producing & mixing. The EP was recorded in Dane's home in "a suburb outside LA proper." When asked about the concepts behind Eep! Lazy Loons replied, "Spooky. A little bit scary, maybe. Haunted. Like an old house kinda thing."

Simply put, Eep! is music made by kids who love music--from Sinatra to Talking Heads, from Tom Waits to Grizzly Bear. It's schizophrenic, it's eerie, & it likes to taunt you. Eep! is a low-fi collection littered w/ voices, sighs, stereo-pans & other nuances. The songs are strong, well written, & have a lot of replay value, w/ undertones of distrust, depression, disappointment & the inevitable. As well as the above mentioned Lazy Loons sites inspiration from The Beatles, Sly & the Family Stone, & Édith Piaf for this EP.

It opens w/ Aligator Waltz (yes, 1 L) a two part song that sounds like a hazy dream hosted by a drunk Frank Sinatra only to wake up in a gondola on the Missisipi piloted by an adolescent Tom Waits. (I seem to like music that makes me feel like I'm on water these days.) Dane uses two distinctly different voices here, while Phil changes from lone member of an angelic choir--harp & all--to a ghost trying to remember a tune stuck in his head. It's all weaved together w/ layers of thumb piano & guitars.

When you reach shore you find Alice; a song which I have decided is the wooing of a poltergeist. Phil & Dane share vocals w/ friend Richard Najar of Richard and His Boyishly Handsome Band. It's mixed in a way that transitions between the three vocalists w/ Phil in stereo, Richard in the right, and Dane in the left--sometimes finishing each other's sentences, other times others becoming a chorus. Throughout the song is a childish giggling--which verges on the sound of crying @ times--and Grizzly Bear-like harmonies.

On Jay Em Berry they are joined by Victor, another friend who may or may not have a last name, on accordion. Where Alice plays w/ voices that move left & right Jay Em Berry has vocals which seem to come forward and move back. I imagine a cold & sad Hook in his captain's quarters rocking in a stationary chair while mumbling out this song. It's guitar has a jewelry box sound about it, while the accordion is sparse & dreary. My favorite part is a toss up between the the loud exhale in the beginning, the panning snare drum in the middle, & the strange bass-like guitar @ the end.

Foolish Boa blows me away--catchy whinny lyrics & acoustic guitar over beautiful autoharp, harmonies, & panning tambourine versus screeching guitar that verges on nails on a chalkboard. It's like a battle between chaos & harmony or the two making love, I'm not sure.

Pastel may be the quintessential song of Eep! It's haunted sound taunts you, it's changes tease you, & it's beat makes you sway. It builds a tension in you and tells you it will melt it all away, but it never does. It's good but makes you feel as if you missed something so you want to listen again. It's mood could be described as the disappointment of content.

A.M. Ghosts is a three part song that goes from meshing perfectly w/in the EP to a becoming almost too rhythmic for it, to what I can only assume is where they are going next. It starts off w/ what sounds like some sort of alien bird call; then comes in these hopeless vocals accompanied by distant harmonies & upfront guitar--the essential sound of Eep! The final strum leads to a more rhythmic groove. Dane's vocal delivery is reminiscent of Pastel & two tracks of overlaying self backed vocals--each have there own speaker & play like call & response. The rhythm guitar is like string piece from something by Curtis Mayfield. When the drumming stops & the beat boxing comes in we're not in that old haunted house anymore. Phil takes over vocals & that crazy Foolish Boa guitar is back w/ a more bubbly shape. Soon backing vocals & guitar fight for attention while Phil testifies that he deserves to be heard. A final guitar flourish then it's just the beat boxing & Dane comes back in w/ vocals similar to the beginning of the song: I never feel quite alright, perfectly summing up the mood of the EP.

My Favorite Track
A.M. Ghosts

Most accessible Track
Foolish Boa

You can listen to more Lazy Loons (or more smoothly) on their Last.fm or MySpace pages. Lazy Loons is working on new material & reworking old material.

P.S. I just got permission to provide download for this EP. Download Eep!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Clips 'n' Cues

A band out of San Diego has recently come to my attention, more specifically a music video they produced. I'd like to start off mentioning some things I hate in music videos--random clips of the band playing, shots that specifically relate to the lyrics, & footage shot from car windows. I know that's like half of the music videos out there, right?? Well, that might be part of why I don't like it, but whatever the case, for every rule--self-imposed or otherwise--there is a way to break it.

Recordable Colors (alternate link) does just that w/ their video for I've Made Skin Crawl. When asked about the video Recordable Colors had this to say, "The I've Made Skin Crawl video is a collaboration produced by each of us. As much as the music is. We all focused (well some of us), filmed and edited it. Dorian Tucker [guitars & vocals] did most of the editing and we really have to thank for it." I really feel they have put together a vignette of their lives. I feel like the viewer gets a flash of every aspect of the bands life, places they go, interests, pets, family, friends & lovers. How personal the footage truly is is irrelevant as it's put together in a way that feels natural, like when one catches a sent they've not in ages & memories flood into your mind. It too, @ a little, reminds me of The Wonder Years opening credits, it's that pleasant.

On to the Terrible 3. There is about 5 seconds of what looks like the band playing in the first minute of the video. It's quick & split into 3 shots & all happens in about 5 seconds. It doesn't feel like the usual enter-live-footage-here clip that we are so used to seeing; one almost wonders, was that them or just another slice of life? The more I watch the video the more I see lyrics matching footage, but in no way do I feel like I am watching a narrative or random snippets shot for particular lyrics. Sometimes they aren't obvious visual representations of the lyrics, they are sly & unobtrusive. For example the line I've been looked at in good favor, but I've made skin crawl is accompanied by a shot of a mannequin slowly spinning in a store window followed by a sped up dog being walked. Mannequins are idealized & this is a rather showy display as it's spinning, that's easy. But the dog--this took me a while to catch. The dog makes me think of a caterpillar--always has--w/ it's many feet & long body. Is this intentional or am I reading into it?? Other times the lyrics come in before or after the image as if to allow the left brain to catch up to the right, or vice versa. One of many times this happens but possibly the only time both happens--still following??--is during the line When you were a child and tried it all, paired with images of parasailing followed by a beach scene w/ many children. This could be a coincidence or even a mistake--it's backwards, they messed up, right?? I don't think so; I think it's all intentional & very tactful. We don't need to be hit over the head w/ things to get them & it's more enjoyable this way. In a sense, I feel my writing about it is taking away from the video, so I'll move on. The images from a moving vehicle are peppered in just as tactfully, as if leaving them out would be excluding a large part of life--those who have lived in Southern California know how much being in a car is a part of life. In fact, when asked about inspiration, part of Recordable Colors' reply was, "…driving to work when you don't don't want to, driving to work when you do want to and everything in between." My favorite segment is one which the images cue the music rather than lyrics. It is right after I've made skin crawl, I've seen it all, right before the song picks up; there is something really beautiful happening during the stoplight & the out of focus underexposed girl. It's soft & tender, & feels very intimate--& just as quickly as you have been lulled the drums kick & everything is moving again. Other faves are The LOL-girl, The Heart Screen, & The Backwards Plane. What the hell am I talking about?? See for yourself:

Recordable Colors plans to release an LP by the end of this year. The band consists of Abe Deleon [percussion/vocals],Dorian Tucker [guitar/vocals], & Erica Putis [bass/vocals]. Side projects include but are not limited too:
Dorian Tucker - Jezebel

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Music Blogger Day!!!

Here is a Props post & a reply in one. I recently received a few tracks from Phil Freedman of Lazy Loons, those of you that know me, know I'm a fan of their last EP Almost Pueblos. He is working on a demo, possibly an EP, under the name Talkshow Host. He is also known as Tiggerwoods & to a lesser extent, or @ some point, Spooky Bear, L'ours, & Stationtostation--mothafucka wants to be a hip-hop artist. I generally don't care for his solo work as what I have heard is too ambient for my searching for new music mood--I am rarely in the mood to give ambient music a chance. *shrugs* It's also a bit redundant. When I found out that Dane Rivera of Lazy Loons--aka, Dane Rivera--was producing these tracks I was, like, cool Lazy Loons is putting out two EPs @ once. To my surprise it sounds nothing like Lazy Loons or, what I knew as, Tiggerwoods/Talkshow Host. It's sung better than ever--remotely understandable--he's writing real lyrics--I wish you were born w/ your mothers lips so you can say all that she would--he seems to have taken simple redundancy to hypnotic repetition & he's breaking up vocals patterns w/ loathing & shattered "Ohhs." It's like when one has an idea that you know wont work & then it does, only Talkshow Host took a while to figure it out. So long as he doesn't get formulaic this could end up being a cool demo. I hope I can get my hands on a copy when it's done. :)

Alma Real would be a good first track. Cut Muemerry in half & definitely add vocals, crazy shifting vocals, cos it's heading back to that redundancy. Haunted is good as is, don't redo vocals or have someone else do vocals. If you want to add female vocals just add some harmonies or flourishes--or just have her come in around 3:10-ish. Write two more songs w/ similar lyrics & this could be an EP worth giving a full review.

Talkshow Host is currently putting together a take away shows like project in Los Angeles send him a tweet @tiggerwoods to get involved. Lazy Loons is releasing their EP Eep! track by track (I think) on Last.fm & myspace.com (check back for the review, it's in the cue!!!)

Photo Credit: © Papajesse

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Introducing 3 Featurettes

As stated in the first entry, there is a lot of artists out there I want to tell the world about. The plan was write reviews focusing only on artists w/ close to no exposure. While I am still going to do that, I have also decided to do featurettes. Let me break it down:
1 Stop Push
This will focus on new up and coming artists. I will likely only do this for musical artists cos one of the main reasons I want to write this is to give readers an idea of music that I like. I truly believe that we take in music differently than other art as it is easy to listen while doing other things. Depending on when we chose to listen to music makes for a greater diversity in taste. Another reason to write about this stuff is to encourage music artists to stay good, rather than get boring.
Pretty much like 1 Stop Push, but will focus on works from non-english speaking contries--or better to say, countries that have a different 1st language than english.
Props is more a way to say I like something w/o writing a review. Sometimes I get overwhelmed w/ the stuff sent in on top of the stuff I come across in my everyday life & I get stuck trying to decide what to write about first. Well no more, some of these things will just get lumped together & people will have to decide whether to take a chance & seek it out. Also, there are somethings I just do not know enough about to write about. Dance is a great example, I love, Love, LOVE dance--well, I can @ least. But I don't know anything about dance, it just sometimes touches me or I think it looks really cool & I'm blown away, but I don't know what they are doing, or what's hard to do, cos I've never studied it. It could be argued that if I can't write about it, my opinion is irrelevant--again, readers can decide whether or not to look into it.
Here are some samples.

Angel Deradoorian needs a 1 Stop Push! She's in a Brooklyn band that's getting some/lots of press right now but a lot of people don't know that she has a solo EP out called Mind Raft under her surname. I actually found out about Dirty Projectors through her, even though they have been around for a while. Every track is very different so I'm very eager to see the direction she goes in. High Road & You Carry the Deed are the two tracks I'm most into. I might be more interesting to see an album like You Carry the Deed since it furthest away from what she is doing in Dirty Projectors--also it's very soulful & really touches me. Both songs can be found on her MySpace page, so if you like them go buy her EP so that she can put out an album. :) You can listen to this interview while you finish reading. It's funny the interview keeps trying to get her to explain her music, & she's all take it as you will. I think that's great. There is some live music too.

A while ago I found out about a Mexican Pop artist named Ximena Sariñana. I'm not much into pop but sometimes I find something that pulls me in. I don't know what I first heard but it got me to look into her but couldn't find her in my usual place so I went to YouTube & found this video of her singing Dino's Volare. She looked like she was 14 & had this powerful voice. Turns out she's in her 20s but it didn't matter by the time I bothered to look into the details I was obsessed. I listened to her everyday on YouTube for about a week. Like I said I'm not into pop too much so it didn't last. Though, if you like pop you like singers or girls w/ pianos you're likely to dig her. I still like about 4 or 5 of her songs & never cared for the singles. I would compare half of her album to an early Fiona Apple; it's called Mediocre--look into the story it's a good one, she actually a good writer from what I can tell--my Spanish isn't so great, it's pretty bad actually.

Gotta give some props to some DJs. DJ Katy from Chicago let me take a listen to a live set that's just over an hour. The bulk is Top 40 stuff, most of which I'm not into, but she did a good enough job for me to not skip a single track. I know very few of you know me, but that is a huge deal. The last 20 minutes were mainstream house. To top it off I was moving the whole time, got into full on dancing anytime I got up. I'd even more eager to see her now. I just have to find her @ the right place. This past Friday I was @ a little place called Underground SF. I walked in @ the end of Sarah Delush's (FU, Bump, Finger Jam, SF) set. It seemed pretty good but I was trying to get a drink & she was finished before I could really get into it. Sam FM (FU, SF) put on a great set; it was the first time I had heard him spin & I was quite impressed. Sleazemore (Lights Down Low, Infatuation, SF) also did quite nice causing me to break a sweat. Wish I had some details for these DJs but I wasn't taking notes. :)

p.s. Thank you to everyone who has submitted work so far.
p.p.s I'll add contact info & the like for DJs as it comes to me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Construction Paper Rainforests

I've been listening to a two piece band out of Cincinnati, Ohio called The Sleeping Sea. The Sleeping Sea consists of Jarrod Welling-Cann who sings and plays the keyboard, guitar, & vibraphones, as well as Michael Abitz who plays percussion & vibraphones as well. Both are studying to become audio/visual engineers, but I'd rather someone sign them & keep them making music. I got my hands on their Sun Drips EP about a week ago. The self produced EP was put together in a basement in Cincinnati using a variety of instruments including a little bell piano and rice inside plastic easter eggs.

Simply put, the Sun Drips EP could be described as Unicorns meets CocoNot, on sedatives, in a boat, drifting through a rainforest. Or maybe, the prettiest soundtrack to a Disney toon that hasn't been made.

The EP is put together very well using fifties guitars, multiple vocal tracks, smashing drums and very pleasant repetition. The Sleeping Sea manages to use repetition & simplicity reminiscent of rocksteady, do-wop, & early rock 'n' roll, in an ingenious way--switching it up before one can become annoyed, & before you know it they have switched again or gone back. Another reason it works so well is a complex backdrop of nuances which include, what I can only guess, are animal sounds, hand claps, & whistling. What amazes me more is they managed to do this w/o their music sounding formulaic. The EP is recorded clearly w/ perfect transitions; each song fits perfectly. Sun Drips EP is filled w/ short dreamy tracks that make one think of animated forests & singing animals. It's like playing, cuddling, and dozing off into blue, green, & violet night.

My Favorite Track

"Mars Is A Pretty Red Dress"

Most Accessible Track

"Oh, Zebra, Come Swim!" or "Fall Eyes On Africa"

You can listen to more (or more smoothly) of The Sleeping Sea on their Last.fm or Myspace.com pages. They also have a blog. The Sleeping Sea is currently working on their next project and has added Trombonist Andrew Walker of A Pinecone to their rooster. They will be playing @ the MidPoint Music Festival 24 September.

The Sleeping Sea also has a band called Ghost in the Piano Room & both Jarrod & Michael have solo projects. Jarrod uses the moniker Sailboats and Bubbles while Michael makes music under the name Quince Vetivert.

Photo credit: © Jarrod Welling-Cann

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Welcome everyone & anyone.

There are critics everywhere on the web, but everyone writes about the same people; luckily, there are a lot of people and only a few each of us really care about, so it stays interesting. Though it seems with the state of mass communication we shouldn't have to wait for a music label, an art gallery, or a film studio to tell us what we should check out and write about. I truly believe if the people were not afraid to voice their opinion on something that no one has ever heard of, that the people could tell the labels, galleries, and studios what to check out.

This is not the blog to read if your are looking for info on the next album by Dirty Projectors, or to find out about the next Sarah Sitkin show. I hope to showcase those who have little to no exposure. Music will be emphasized as the medium is easily transferable via the web. Also, many artist these days sell their work online via iTunes store and the like. I hope to receive emails from artists across the world? looking for some publicity. I imagine that I will stay under the radar long enough to even follow up with some artists. I only hope to provide exposure.

Many may ask, why listen to this guy, what does he know? That is a valid question, but what do any of us know? Taste varies from person to person, & personally, I'm glad. But I've always been a critic, who hasn't? Though, I am an art student who has taken part in critique week after week. Not to mention 3 courses in Art History, which to be fair, was the only time I had to really "write" a critique.

So that's my idea, that's what this will be all about. Whether anyone else has thought of it or anyone else is doing it, I came up with it on my own and believe in the power it could have and change it make, I just hope the world will help me. I know I'm just one guy and one opinion, but those that don't like me can do the same and give a new perspective. And those who don't like them can do the same. Like I said, it's all about exposure, and I want to give it to any artist I think isn't getting enough.

Contact: push2stops@gmail.com