"Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves." — Stephen Daedalus
Jim Phillips was a musician from Albuquerque. He directed the creative activities of a band called Lousy Robot. When he died unexpectedly last spring, Phillips left behind a body of work notable for defining a fragile, yet brightly expressed nexus of what it means to be human.
Invoking the wide and melodically winsome swath carved out by power-pop adherents like the Easybeats, Big Star, the Cars and Elvis Costello, singer/guitarist Phillips and his ensemble (Ben Wood, keyboards; Joey Gonzales, drums and Dandee Fleming on bass) added intensity and a profound sense of dark realism to their rocanrol stew.
The result included unforgettably haunting recordings like 2011's Hail The Conquering Fool.
This week, Lousy Robot bassist Fleming reached out to Weekly Alibi to tell about a new collection of recordings by Lousy Robot, available at Bandcamp.
Fleming wrote, "Before his death Jim and the band had been working on collecting outtakes and rarities from previous recording sessions in hopes of putting out a collection of weirdness titled Oddities, Obscurities & Obscenities. The work started with a cover of “Dead Flowers” and an iPhone remix of “Peacocks." During this time, I continued to work on remixes on several other songs. After Jim’s death, I found two songs that the group had demoed but never completed. I edited and restructured those songs and sent them to friend and long-time producer John Dufliho to complete.
The result is a work of complex beauty; the circumstances—rendered as music, hopeful and dire—that make up human life.
It is a rare occasion to catch A Hawk and a Hacksaw in their hometown. The duo, composed of accordionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, each of which take an occasional turn on vocals, stay on the move.
Those of us who were lucky enough to make it into the totally packed Tannex in Barelas on Saturday night were treated to music ripe for day dreaming.
In a word, A Hawk and a Hacksaw is magic. Culling folk songs from across many a diaspora as well as writing their own original pieces, the two created a world entirely separate from 4th Street, from Albuquerque, from this continent.
By the light of white Christmas lights strewn across a heavy rug over the cement floor, the two sang in Greek, spoke little, and played for more than an hour with a sustained intensity that is hard to fathom.
This winter, Barnes and Trost are headed to Europe to play alongside full orchestras and busy street corners while further cultivating their inspiring vision of modern folk.
So, in case you missed it, a few weeks ago the band Whirr said some pretty hateful things on Twitter about trans* people and about the band G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) in particular. Things like “misogyny is hating women. g.l.o.s.s. Is just a bunch of boys running around in panties making shitty music.” In response, their record label dropped them quicker than you can say “transphobia is misogyny, you jerks.” It was one of those rare and gratifying moments of immediate justice being delivered on the internet.
You can listen to G.L.O.S.S.’s EP Demo on their bandcamp. Their queer brand of hardcore is filled with stellar lines like “with lined lips and spiked bats, gonna take femininity back” and “straight America, you will ruin me,” radiating a truly punk ethic of not giving a shit what people think about them.
In the spirit of throwing more light on trans* people in music, here’s a list of five other awesome openly trans* musicians who you should be listening to now. They deserve as much support as they can get—not just because they make good music, but because if we as a society can start not only tolerating but highlighting trans* people in music, then maybe there is hope for us yet.
(Note: below I’ve used the gender pronouns most recently cited as preferred by each artist. If you know better, though, please drop me a line.)
1. Mykki Blanco
Ok, hopefully you already know about Mykki Blanco—if from nothing else, from her 2012 single “Wavvy” that was playing everywhere for a minute. In addition to her short but prolific music career, Blanco has also made a name for herself as an LGBT activist, performance artist and poet, with the release of her 2011 book From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys. Go watch all of her music videos, and then listen to Betty Rubble: The Initiation, her album from earlier this year.
Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons has also had a prolific and varied artistic career. A director and artist, Antony also has one of the most haunting voices in contemporary music. The band is known for tear-jerking baroque-pop ballads like “Hope There’s Someone.” Listen to their self-titled debut album of 2000, then check out some of Antony’s art projects, two of which were listed in SFAQ’s list of “The Top 5 Art Shows in New York City Last Year.”
3. Aye Nako
This punk queercore band from Brooklyn just won Village Voice’s “Best Garage Band of 2015” and it’s well deserved—their music is raw and emotional while still melodic and catchy. In their own words, the quartet plays “sad punk songs about being queer, trans, and black.” You can get their latest EP The Blackest Eye here.
4. Mya Byrne
Mya Byrne is a folk musician and songwriter from Boston. She released her first solo EP in 2004, and has been a staple in the New York folk scene since. She played for the band The Ramblers from 2008 to 2014. You can listen to her first solo LP since her transition in 2014, As I Am, on her website.
5. Rae Spoon
Rae Spoon started songwriting and performing in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta, when they were a teenager. Their early music is decidedly down-home folksy, with Spoon playing guitar, banjo and mandolin on albums Throw Some Dirt on Me and Your Trailer Door, but their most recent album My Prairie Home displays some much more slowed-down, orchestral elements. Besides their musical career, Spoon has authored a book of short stories called First Spring Grass Fire, and has collaborated on the book Gender Failure with Ivan E. Coyote.
Sometimes your favorite bands just don't draw a crowd in Albuquerque, for whatever reason, leaving you feeling a bit dispirited about your home town. Thankfully, King Khan & BBQ Show fans didn't stay home last night, though they were a bit tardy, most trickling into Sister during opening band Milk Lines –who played a nice, country-tinged set of psych/rock and roll.
Khan and Mark Sultan (AKA BBQ) came out sans uniforms—to the audible dismay of the packed floor—but it turned out they were simply performing a quick sound check and announced they'd be back after a wardrobe change. And, bam! a nearly naked Khan and a nipple-exposing, body-stockinged BBQ appeared in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The Bad News Boys opened with "Piss Slide", a tune new to me but a concept Khan made Alibi readers familiar with in an interview this week. "Piss Slide, Baby" indeed.
Khan & BBQ proceeded to rock the pants of the crowd for nearly two hours, playing hits like "Waddlin' Around" and "Invisible Girl" with panache and without flaw. Though they didn't play "Animal Party", they did perform one of the sickest tunes in the history of the world, "Taste Buds". Nothing like a crowd singing along to that one. Best show I've seen since Black Lips played Sister. Mark Sultan fairly steals the show with his amazing voice and jiggling nipples, something to be admired considering his partner is one of the more infamous wild-men of contemporary rock and roll. Here's hoping these two make it back to Albuquerque in some capacity, as the King Khan & BBQ Show or with King Khan & The Shrines or BBQ, solo.
On September 26th at 7:00pm, the doors of Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW) open to present two of the most talked about electronica bands in today’s youth culture: Ratatat and Hot Sugar.
On July 17th of last summer, Ratatat released Magnifique, their fifth full-length album and the band members believe this is their strongest album so far. The current tour finds them focusing on their newest songs.
Joining them will be Nick Koenig, AKA Hot Sugar, currently a buzzing topic among teens in the 505. His most popular tunes include "Addictions", "Everyone’s Parents Will Die", "The Girl Who Stole My Tamogatchi", and "No One Will Know Where I Went". You may recognize some of Hot Sugar's work from the TV show Broad City.
After seeing a recent Ratatat and Hot Sugar concert, a fan with the handle @Svbbvtwitch tweeted “'The Girl Who Stole My Tamogatchi' has broke my heart.”
Get your $25 tickets for this 13+ show now before they are all snapped up by the youth of New Mexico!
In Burque, rock bands come and go. Some start out as basement projects and bloom into national headliners. Others rise up from the night only to fade at dawn like a summertime cactus flower.
Though it's generally difficult to tell what path this or that rockin' musical outfit will take as they proceed through rehearsals and toward performance, it's easy enough to listen. Through that experience one might discern qualities that qualify a particular rocanrol ensemble for admission to the next level.
Such is the case with Badd Fish, a band I chanced upon while visiting friends and walking through the hood.
Badd Fish is a quartet, young and old, featuring veteran Albuquerque guitarist Mark LaCava, singer Gil Garcia and a rhythm section consisting of Vic Maese and his son (also named Vic).
They're puro Burque and wear their affiliation with this town and its music scene proudly upon their sleeves and in their hearts.
Vocalist Garcia has been playing around town for at least twenty years, fronting projects Jazz One, Latin Passion and the System. He brings a blue and bold tone to LaCava's intensely intricate picking style. LaCava worked the rounds about town as a formidable singer-songwriter who also lent his talent to Spellbinder, a long lost jam band popular at joints like Sonny's back in the day.
Little Vic Maese, a technically savvy drummer, learned the ropes from his father, who plays bass. A native of El Paso, the elder Maese played bass in a West Texas metal formation known as Lethal Tricks. After coming up north, Vic the bassman was part of Good Green among many other locally popular acts.
Badd Fish is a new band, yet their passion and history reflect an expansive staying power that augments their down-to-earth attitudes and supplements their ability to rock out, grandly and formidably in our present-day music scene.
As a combo, they're tight like sprung steel, melodic like a summer evening on the bosque and as solid as the Sandia mountains. It's garage rock in a grand sense.
After months of rehearsal, Badd Fish will play out this weekend, in a series of concerts destined to demonstrate the goodness and grace of a music community loaded with homegrown talent.
Friday night, August 21, they gig at Sidelines Sports Bar and Grille (9211 Coors NW) from 8-12 pm. Badd Fish follows up their premiere engagement with a set at Neds (2509 San Mateo NE). They'll jam on the afternoon of Saturday August 22, from 3-6 pm before pulling out all the stops at their show at the Barley Room (5200 Eubank NE) that night from 8-12 pm.
Listen: I hear and see a heap of local bands as part of the job I love. Some of those bands are good, are okay. But Badd Fish is badass, yo. If you cherish the local scene as much as I do, then do yourself a solid and check these guys out. I really believe Badd Fish is at the beginning of a journey that will see them reach great heights while providing local audiences with a sound that is groovy, groovy fun filled with acute musicianship and knowing nuance.