Tag: San Antonio TX

Austin indie outfit High Heavens can trace the bulk of their origins back to 1996: Austin-based emo punk troubadours Glorium were invited to do a southern US tour with DC punk legends Fugazi. During this tour, Glorium’s guitarist Ernest Salaz met and befriended Fugazi’s front of house engineer Nick Pelicciotto, who also played in Edsel and New Wet Kojak.

Salaz went on to play with I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness but he remained friends with Pelicciotto. Back in 2017, the duo started High Heavens, a band built on their mutual musical interests over the past decade. The band’s first lineup featured Jeremy Erwin (keys), Crime in Choir’s Jonathan Saggs (bass), and John Matthew Walker (vocals).

Their Stuart Sikes-produced full-length debut, Springtime Don’t Call features album title track “Springtime Don’t Call.” The band was able to play one last year but tensions arose: Erwin had enough of Austin and moved to Colorado; Pelicciotto and Skaggs decided to purse other musical interests. As a result of this massive lineup change, the band itself went through a radical transformation.

Salaz and Walker decided to record a few more songs with Sikes — without a band. Salaz then reached out to his former Glorium bandmate, George Lara who’s now playing with ’60s Chicano soul outfit Eddie & The Valiants and San Antonio-based pop outfit The Please Help to record some bass parts and Lara’s The Please Help bandmate Juan Ramos to record some drum parts. Additional recording was done at The BBQ Shack by Austin-based guitarist Jason Morales, who has played with Tia Carrera, Black Mercy, Migas and Olympia, WA-based Helltrout. The band’s old friend . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s Conrad Keely contributed sax and Rhodes on “Hundred Bullets” and additional keyboard on their latest single “Life is a Loan Shark.”

“Life is a Loan Shark” is a slow-burning and dreamy bit of nostalgia-inducing pop centered around Walker’s plaintive delivery, twinkling Rhodes, atmospheric synths, supple bass lines and gently strummed guitar. Featuring key work from Jeremy Erwin, “Life is a Loan Shark” is inspired by Angelo Badalamenti‘s Twin Peaks score and Richie Valens — but also seems to nod at Scott Walker, thanks in part to its melancholy and heartbroken air.

The band explains that the song is about boyhood memories and lost love.

High Heavens is currently rehearsing with a new lineup and will be playing shows across Texas in November. So for my Texan friends, be on the lookout.

San Antonio-based duo The Holy KnivesNew Orleans-born, San Antonio-based siblings Kyle and Kody Valentine — derive their name from a combination of two of their favorite works of art: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain and Frank Stanford’s The Singing Knives. Both works — although in very different media — conjure a flood of beautiful, thought-provoking imagery while centered around a fearless quest for truth through the irrational that the duo strive to capture in their own work.

Inspired by Portishead, Leonard Cohen, Arctic Monkeys and Timber Timbre, the San Antonio-based duo specializes in an eerily cinematic sound featuring Western-inspired soundscapes and downtempo grooves to create a sound that sounds as though it could be part of an episode of Twin Peaks or True Detective. The duo’s latest EP Always Gone was released as a series of singles earlier this year — and the band will continue to release a song a month for the remainder of the year.

Recently, The Kills‘ Jamie Hince remixed, the brooding EP single and title track “Always Gone” — and his touch manages to be subtle: it retains the song’s brooding atmospherics, and sonorous baritone but while gently pushing the pace up a bit with some subtly industrial-like boom bap beats and an extra layer of shimmering reverb. Interestingly, both the original and the remix manage to remind me of Daughn Gibson’s work — eerie, brooding and seemingly haunted by lingering, old ghosts of regret and despair.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Neon Indian Releases an Absurdist and Politically- Charged Single and Visual

Alan Palomo is a Mexican-born, Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist, producer and film maker, who’s best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed recording project Neon Indian. I’ve written quite a bit about Palomo and Neon Indian over the years, and as you may recall, with the release of four albums and an EP, 2009’s Psychic Chasms, 2013’s Era Extraña and  Errata Anex EP and 2015’s Vega Intl. Night School, Palomo firmly established a slickly produced synth pop sound indebted to Prince, Michael Jackson and others. 

Last year, Palomo released his first narrative short, 86’d, “a love letter to New York cinema and in a way, a final recapitulation of the Night School universe,” the JOVM mainstay explained in press notes at the time. “Shot on 16mm over the course of three nights, it was an ambitious undertaking for all parties involved but honestly making it was such a blast that at times felt like just that, a party. I’m eternally grateful to all the wonderful people that came together to realize this kooky project and proud to finally be able to share it with music and movie goers alike.”

Directed by Palomo, written by Palomo and Kai Flanders, edited by Pete Ohs and Dustin Reid, the film stars Buddy Duress (Good Time, Heaven Knows What), Lindsay Burdge (Easy, Thirst Street, The Midnight Swim), Seaton Smith (Top Five, Mulaney), Chase Williamson (John Dies at The End), Mitzi Akaha (Lowlives, Dark Side of The Moon) and musician Alex Frankel (Holy Ghost) as well as Palomo. Set in Ed Koch-era NYC, Max takes a mouthful of mescaline and desperately tries to make it home before it kicks in. On his way, he decided to stop at an all-night deli for a quick, late night meal. After numerous order delays and full-on trip stampeding into his psyche, he is made to pay witness to the colorful cast of Lower East Side weirdos, visualizing their stories through his newly altered lens: A Times Square dominatrix meets up with one of her regulars to reveal an answering message left by his wife. Two punks discuss an ultimatum as one reveals his connection to a pistol found in a drug bust. A recording engineer convinces an aspiring singer to re-record a destroyed vocal take from a canonic 80s group and attempts to pass it off as the original. Visually speaking, the short would remind a lot of viewers of Martin Scorcese’s After Hours as its centered round a New York and peculiarly New York characters that are sadly long gone — and situations that can’t possibly happen in a sanitized, suburban mall version of New York. 

Along with the film, Palomo wrote and recorded the short’s theme song “Heaven’s Basement,” an 80s inspired, synth pop, club banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, scorching, distorted guitar solo and Palomo’s dreamy falsetto. And while continuing on the slickly produced club friendly sound of his previously released work, the song managed to possesses a lysergic buzz. 

Interestingly, Palomo’s first single of 2019 “Toyota Man” is a decided left turn for him and for Neon Indian, as the song is the first song written and sung in his native Spanish — and perhaps more important, finds the project leaning towards a seamless mesh of synth pop and psychedelic cumbia. Interestingly, “Toyota Man” may arguably be the most politically charged song, Palomo has even written and released, as he sings in Spanish “We came here to study, we want to work” as a protest, which is followed by mischievously dueling riffs of “La Cucaracha” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” In some way, it points out that the experience of the Mexican, Central American and South American migrants and immigrants are equally as American and as valid as yours or mine. 

Directed by Alan Palomo and starring Palomo Brian DeRan, Chris Silcox and Veronica Sanders, the recently released video is part a proud and defiant view of the border culture that Palomo grew up in and an absurdist comedy inspired by a wild melange of things that features a proud and defiant view of the culture of his people and a possessed Trump piñata that gets its deserved comeuppance. 

“’Toyota Man’ was filmed along the road map of what essentially was my path to American citizenship: Monterrey, the Nuevo Laredo border, San Antonio, and finally Austin. The process is a multiple decade commute known by many Latinos and other Americans,” Palomo says of the video. “Though my music has always been generally apolitical, I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized. Recognizing the absurdity of it all, I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy – nods to Benny Hill, misremembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it’s equally as fun to watch. Enjoy!”

New Video: San Antonio’s Fea Releases an Anthemic Ode to the Working Class

With the release of 2016’s self-titled, full-length debut, the San Antonio, TX-based punk outfit Fea, which features Girl In A Coma’s Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva with Letty Martinez and Sofi Lopez, quickly developed a reputation for a trailblazing and proudly genre-defying aesthetic that meshed Chicana Punk, fuzzy power chords and three-part vocal harmonies with Riot Grrl ethos. 

Now, as you may recall, the San Antonio-based punk quartet’s Alice Bag-produced sophomore album No Novelties is slated for a November 15, 2019 release through Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, and the forthcoming album features bilingual material that thematically focuses on a number of hot-button topics, including sexism, the toxic self-awareness, self-promotion and vapidity of social media and others — with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and feministic punk sensibility. Additionally, the material may arguably be the most intricate in the band’s history — to date, at least. 

Last month, I wrote about No Novelties’ first single “Let Me Down,” a blistering takedown of modern society’s dependance on social media and reality TV that calls out the obsession with fame, constant praise, instant gratification, self-absorption, self-promotion, sex and consumerism at its core. Sonically, the song found the act meshing classic ’77 era punk with power pop in a way that was infectious and defiant. The album’s second and latest single “Ya Se,” is a blistering, old school punk anthem, centered on the plight of the constantly exploited working class sung entirely in Spanish. Considering the constant torrent of racist bullshit coming from our current administration that’s aimed at our brothers, sisters and friends in the LatinX community, the song possesses a deeper sense of righteous fury. 

“The title is Spanish for ‘I know,’ vocalist Letty Martinez says in press notes. “Most of our generation is living paycheck to paycheck. Getting caught up in that cycle where you spend the money you don’t have on vices just to feel relief from the financial stress.” Guitarist Sofi Lopez adds, “When you just work work work, you get into this groove that you can’t escape. But it drives you mad in the end.“

The recently released video stars the members of the band as frustrated blue collar mechanics, who are exploited by their white collar — and very male — boss. The band members work hard for very little money and to escape their dreary lives, they spend what they earn on vices — booze, weed, gambling, cigarettes. But at the end, they all revolt against the dreaded time clock, which enslaves them. 

With the release of their full-length debut, the San Antonio, TX-based punk outfit Fea, comprised of Girl In A Coma‘s Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva with Letty Martinez and Sofi Lopez, quickly developed a reputation for a trailblazing aesthetic that meshed Chicana Punk with Riot Grrl ethos paired with fuzzy power chords and three-part vocal harmonies.

The San Antonio-based punk act’s Alice Bag-produced sophomore album No Novelties is slated for a November 15, 2019 release through Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, and the forthcoming album is a collection of bilingual songs that thematically focus on a number of today’s hot-button topics from sexism, the toxic self-awareness and self-promotion of social media, with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and feminist punk sensibility paired with increasingly intricate arrangements. Interestingly, No Novelties’ first single “Let Me Down” is a blistering takedown of society’s obsession with social media and reality TV, centered around a propulsive rhythm section, fuzzy power chords and a big, mosh pit meets arena rock hook featuring three part harmonizing. And while calling out our obsession with fame, constant praise, instant gratification, self-absorption, self-promotion, sex and consumerism the song finds the San Antonio punk rock act meshing 77 era punk with power pop in a way that’s infectious yet defiant. 

“This song speaks about today’s society and the obsession with fame, praise, self-promotion and sex,” the band’s Letty Martinez explains in press notes. “Social media is a great platform to send a message and keep in touch. Yet, most of the time it’s used to put yourself on display for a quick ego boost. It’s addicting to most and I believe detrimental to mental health and self-esteem.”









Ellis Redon is a San Antonio, TX-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrument, who emerged into his hometown’s indie scene with the release of his debut 2013’s Into the Jungle, a synth and drum machine-based effort with limited guitar; however, his recently released album Bloody Honey is a decided change in sonic direction, as the album’s material finds the San Antonio-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist collaborating with a live backing band featuring Andres Nunez (bass), Por Do Sol’s Shaz Soto (drums) and Soft Mothers‘ Luis Miguel Rocha De La Fuente (lead guitar).

Redon and his backing band have spent the past two years crafting and honing their sound. “For the record we spent about two years. It was a rough two years of making the record fueled by heartbreak and substance abuse and making friends and family,” Redon says in press notes. “When we brought Shaz Soto as a drummer, we had to rework the songs and bring them into a different light.”

“Black Hole,” Bloody Honey‘s latest single is centered around jangling and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, Redon’s snarled vocals and an anthemic hook and while bringing 120 Minutes-era MTV alt-rock/indie rock to mind, the track reveals a songwriter with an ambitious attention to craft while dexterously (and easily) writing material across disparate genres.



With singer/songwriter Victoria Celestine having spent a significant portion of her childhood growing up in France and in San Antonio, TX, music became a refuge and one of the languages she was most fluent in was music; in fact she first learned the piano and upon her return to States, she learned guitar, both of which helped her as a songwriter.

As the story goes, Celestine was at an open mic in downtown San Antonio when Gordon Raphael, best known for his work producing The Strokes, Regina Spektor and others had discovered her and invited her to record some of her then-more acoustic-based material. In fact, with her acoustic material, Celestine placed highly in the International Songwriting Competition, was nominee in the International Acoustic Music Awards, and as a result she’s had several songs hit the iTunes Charts. (From what I understand, some of her acoustic material will be released on a 3 song EP, produced by Blake Harnage of VERSA sometime next year.)
In the meantime, her debut EP, which is also slated for release sometime next year is a slickly produced collection of crafted pop songs that’s remarkably contemporary; in fact, the EP’s third and latest single “As We Grow Old” manages to be reminiscent of the likes of Little Boots, Chelsea Lankes, Phoebe Ryan and others as it pairs Celestine’s sultry cooing with a bouncy, upbeat production featuring gently cascading synths, skittering drum programming and swirling electronics. But lyrically the song stands out from a crowded field as it openly discusses how difficult it is to be what you think you might want to be when other people are forcing you to be and do things that you’re not — or that you’d hate. But it also suggests that the only way to live is to be unabashedly you because you don’t want to be old and live a life of regrets. Imaging popping in an actual message in between catchy hooks, eh?