Tag: Tucson AZ

 

Born Jennifer Hays, the Tucson, AZ-born, Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion can trace the origins of her music career to when she met her then-future Carissa’s Wierd bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke at the local pizza shop, where they all worked. In 1997, the trio first moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle, where the trio formed Carissa’s Wierd. The band released three albums before splitting up in 2003 — but interestingly, the trio cultivated a rabid cult following, which has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since Carissa’s Wierd’s breakup, the Tuscon-born, Seattle-based Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects such as the guitar and vocal-based pop project S, with which she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. While critics and fans have applauded and gushed over her open-hearted lyrics and willingness to eschew conventions while crafting sad songs meant to be cried to and with. Now, as you may recall, the last half or so of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards an electronic-based sound with “No One”  being a complete embrace of electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion said at the time. And although she intended to follow up Cool Choices with “a rock record — guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” her plans had changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s music publisher partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for last year’s Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least.

Turntable Kitchen has spent the past few years with the Sounds Delicious vinyl club. Over the course of its 13 previously released editions, a carefully curated collection of bands have released a full-length cover album. Interestingly, Jenn Champion has joined the ranks of an eclectic array of artists — and her cover album, the 14th of the series will find her taking on Weezer‘s 1994 full-length debut, The Blue Album. The first single off Jenn Champion’s The Blue Album cover is an icy, New Wave-like synth-based reworking of “Undone — The Sweater Song.”

Although Champion replaces the fuzzy power chords with layers of shimmering and atmospheric synths and propulsive industrial synth pop-like beats, she retains the song’s enormous and beloved hook creating a modern rework without erasing the original’s social unease, awkwardness and longing. The Jenn Champion cover reminds the listener that despite its release over 25 years ago, it’s a crafted bit of incredibly anthemic fuzzy power pop that manages to still sound contemporary and relevant, which is a rare thing for most of the material released during the same decade.

“I knew I wanted to take a synth heavy approach to this album, and in my mind The Blue Album was pretty straight-forward indie power pop,” Champion says in press notes. “But as I was deconstructing all the parts and putting the songs back together, I realized how much nuanced there is to [Rivers] Cuomo’s songwriting style. It’s a testament to his talent  that he can make an entire record of songs we want to sing along to and don’t realize just how weird those songs are.”

“I will say it was a challenge, a really fun challenge (!) to keep true to what makes these songs so great while putting them through an electronic lens.” 

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Seth Olinsky is perhaps best known for being the primary songwriter, frontman and guitarist of influential and renowned underground noise folk punk act Akron/Family — and his solo project Cy Dune has developed a reputation for celebrating raw  and primordial rock that has drawn from his work with Akron/Family, Swans’ Micheal Gira and Rhys Chatham, as well as collaborations with Hamid Drake, William Parker, Keiji Haino and Tatsuya Nakatani among others.

Olinsky’s latest effort The Desert initially came about after experimenting with making drum loops on a refurbished Alan Lomax Ampex 601-2, pushing a clash of layered 16th notes and African inspired triplet relationships to create a new, repetitive drum sound.  That early experimentation wound up inspiring some of the meta sampling on Summer Rebels; however, with The Desert, the sampling is a much rawer form, while featured layered and energetic playing from backing band and collaborators drummer Andrew Barker, bassist William Parker, who has worked with Cecil Taylor and Peter Brotzman, and bassist Shazad Ismaily. who has worked with Marc Ribot and Sam Amidon. Initially written in the Sonoran Desert after Olinsky and Lighting Records co-founder Ali Beletic relocated to the desert in 2010, the material was tested as various adobe house shows around Tucson, in open desert arroyos running off of battery power at organized sound/noise poetry happenings that featured poetry professors from the University of Arizona and their friends from Montana and Oregon, who were traveling through town — and then eventually at SXSW with 40 drummers, including Akron/Family’s Dana Janssen, Megafaun‘s Joey Westerland, Son Lux‘s Ian Chang and Jobs’ Max Jaffe.

Olinsky relocated to Joshua Tree in 2014 and he continued to further deconstruct and develop the desert blues songs he originally wrote in 2010, with some material becoming part of pieces cut together with Ampex samples of old blues tunes, eventually becoming post-minimalist compositions which he performed in the Integratron, before being installed in the desert with multiple amplifiers run off generators. The Desert interestingly enough is the first of a series of archival Cy Dune releases that Lighting Records will be releasing this year, before a full-length of new, original material next year — but in the meantime, The Desert‘s first single is the explosive, John Lee Hooker and George Thorogood boogie blues meets psych blues-like “Desert 3.” Centered around a stomping drum progression, an inspired and fiery bit of guitar playing from Olinsky, the song possesses a feral and almost unhinged urgency.

 

 

 

 

 

Currently featuring Blake Milliser (vocals), Alex Hamby (guitar, vocals), Zane Emory (guitar, synth, vocals), Tom Hopper (drums, vocals), Myles Hamby (bass, vocals), Bryce Muse (saxophone) and Rachel Fritz (keys, synth), the Tucson, AZ-based indie septet Chateau Chateau formed early last year as a loose, garage pop quartet that rehearsed and wrote songs in an abandoned airplane hanger. After a while, they began to win over an audience of semi-casual, drunkards, who would be passing by on their way to the brewery next door. Shortly, after their formation they expanded to their current lineup — and as a result, by the middle of last year their sound morphed to a glimmering, synth-based hook-driven sound that recalls A Flock of Seagulls and others. Interestingly, the act’s latest single “Evidence” is a crowd-pleasing and anthemic song centered around a buoyant bass line, shimmering synths and Milliser’s crooned vocals. However, underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song’s narrator is in the midst of a mental breakdown, giving the song an underlying bitter irony.

 

New Video: Jon Spencer Releases Dread-Filled Visuals for Scuzzy and Groovy “I Got the Hits”

Best known as the founding member of New York-based alt rock acts, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, Heavy Trash and Pussy Galore, Jon Spencer will be releasing his first solo album, Spencer Sings the Hits! on November 9, 2018 through In The Red Records, and the Bill Skibbe-produced album, finds the renowned guitarist and frontman embracing a DIY approach while collaborating with Quasi‘s and Heatmiser’s Sam Coombes and M. Sord. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about “Do The Trash Can.” Spencer Sings the Hits!’ first single, a blistering, scuzzy and abrasive ripper that drew from blues, industrial rock and metal centered snarling, garage punk attitude, caustic power chords and an oddly danceable groove.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s second and latest single is the swaggering and scuzzy industrial, garage blues “I Got the Hits,” and much like it’s predecessor, it’s an explosive ripper centered around explosive and abrasive guitar chords, a shit ton of double entendres and a propulsive junkyard groove that’s manages to be danceable and mosh pit friendly.

Directed by Alex Italics, the recently released video for “I Got the Hits” delves into the darkest and murkiest corners of America, and throughout the video we see a completely immobilized and helpless Jon Spencer, as life and sinister and shadowy figures lurk move around. “Over the past year I kept seeing wonderful and strange music videos that had one thing in common: all were directed by an Alex Italics,” Spencer explains in press notes. “I determined to track down this young auteur with the aim of getting a similar cinematic sensation for my new album Spencer Sings The Hits!. Alex turned out to be a mild-mannered young man from Tucson, Arizona living in Southern California. I gave him a free hand to pick the song and devise a treatment. The result is the scary slice-of-life that you can now see for yourself.”

“I love the creepy contrast with the song’s punk abandon,” Spencer continues. “We filmed at a rented house in Santa Ana. At the end of each day, after the nearby nightly Disneyland fireworks had faded and the cast and crew had left, I would sleep in a bunk bed in the child’s bedroom. Turns out doing an entire video laying on the floor is harder than it looks!” 

Adds the video’s director, “nothin’ says ‘rock and roll’ like suburban angst, existential dread, and shadowy figures!”

New Video: Jenn Champion’s Whimsical Rival Crew Dance Off

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, all of which have ben released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S. And with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her recently released full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance pop centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man, keep it going  as best as you can” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

Directed by  Rhea Bozzacchi, the recently released video for “Time to Regulate” is a whimsical and joyous back alley dance off battle royal between two rival crews, one headed by Jenn Champion of course — with the end result being that the two rivals dance together as one fun-loving unit. Underneath the whimsy though is a series of imagery in which a marginalized group bands together for camaraderie and empowerment. 

 

Over the past three years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Tucson, AZ-based quintet The Myrrors, and as you may recall the band, which is currently comprised of Nik Rayne, Grant Beyschau, Casey Hadland, Kellen Fortier, and Miguel Urbina have developed and maintained a reputation for crafting ominous and expansive psych rock centered around trance-like grooves. Interestingly, the JOVM mainstays forthcoming album Borderlands which is slated for an August 17, 2018 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records nominally references the collective, self-made boundaries we draw, while offering a soundtrack for setting forth strategies that either ignore or erases them.

As the band explains, the album’s latest single “The Blood That Runs the Border,” “is actually an old live standard that for whatever reason never translated into a recording until now, a time which the issues of manufactured frontiers and the human cost of xenophobic immigration controls are perhaps more immediate than ever before. Destroy all borders, tear down all walls and the governments that build them! In a sense the track actually sowed the seeds for the entire record, from its subject matter to our conscious effort to more accurately capture the sound of The Myrrors in its current live incarnation.”  Thematically it may overtly political song they’ve ever written, the expansive song is centered by a propulsive, trance-inducing groove over which shimmering, mind-bending guitar work and reverb-drenched covers ethereally float over; but as a result, it has a deeper and heavier emotional heft — crestfallen and exhausted, resolute and determined. And while still evoking a dusty, desert vista, the song evokes our murky and uncertain world in a frightening fashion.

 

 

 

New Video: The 120 Minutes MTV-Like Sounds and Visuals of Mute Swan’s “Enough Fun”

Since their formation back in 2014, the Tuscon, AZ-based quartet Mute Swan, comprised of Mike Barnett, Prabjit Virdee, Thomas Sloane and Roger Reed, have developed a reputation for crafting swirling, densely layered psych rock that’s been described by some as a less jittery Of Montreal and compared to Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips, and although that may be arguable, their latest single “Enough Fun” is a hazy, power chord driven song that should remind you (if you’re old enough) of 120 Minutes-era MTV — in particular, Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins, Melvins and others, with an uncanny pairing of melody with enormous, crowd-pleasing hooks. However, as the band’s frontman Mike Barnett explains, “America is having a meltdown. This song is about that. With fuzz.” And as a result, the song find the band carefully walking a tightrope between ethereal and summery guitar pop and furious, sociopolitically charged rock, expressing frustration at the unchecked greed and power of the wealthy elite.

The recently released is shot in a grainy VHS style, reminiscent of home videos from the 80s and follows a group of one-percenters cruising around aimlessly in a Mercedes, burning money with a religious cult-like figure. It’s trippy and pretty fucking surreal but all too fitting.

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a  year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S, and with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her forthcoming full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance music centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man,” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOUR DATES

08.09.18 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
08.10.18 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
08.16.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg T