"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.
On Tuesday August 18th, a healthy crowd showed up to the Modest Mouse concert at one of Albuquerque's few outdoor concert venues, Villa Hispana, on the grounds of Expo New Mexico. It took several minutes to reach the front of the line to be searched and check in as press —and if there's one thing I've learned from attending shows as a sixteen year old music intern from Weekly Alibi it's that none of the security guards take me seriously and they never seem to have the guest list. After trekking around searching for the will call office and finally obtaining the tickets, my plus one and I entered the venue.
Villa Hispana was a surprisingly swank place with a bar and a snack stand (with the usual long lines), three grass seating areas and two sets of metal bleachers. In the center lies a large open pit for audience members that wanted a closer look at Mouse front-man Issac Brock while getting beer spilled on them.
At first not many people were in the pit, with most of the audience sitting on the lawn, taking advantage of the snack stand and cheap beer. This serenity only lasted about twenty minutes before the audience heard the strum of a guitar and started jumping to their feet and running toward the pit. As I made my way through the crowd trying to get a better view, I noticed that this was an unusually polite group of concert-goers. Audience members politely shifted to the side to let me past as I made my way up front. This was something I had never experienced before —no grouchy body language or evil looks from this crowd of rock and rollers.
The band started off with a couple of their newer songs and the audience swayed to the beat and mouthed lyrics but the third song, Ocean Breathes Salty, really amped up the audience and the entire crowd began yelling the lyrics, a group of teens started a little mosh pit (which most of the older crowd was not a fan of) and everyone really started to have a good time.
When the audience heard the intro to Float On Begin things really got crazy. People were jumping to the beat, kissing each other, singing as loud as they could—there were even some tears—and nearly all of the phones in the audience popped up to take Snap-chat videos.
It seems the whole audience really enjoyed this concert and everyone had a great time; I can definitely say that I enjoyed the show immensely. I hope I catch these humble rodents live again.
Step by step, I wonder into Launchpad (618 Central SW), each foot coming closer and closer to what seems to be a natural unison. I'm late as usual, but the wave of approaching sound sends my brain into an anticipatory flutter. The clamorous BOOM of drums begin to flow into the veins of the ground, straight through my arteries and directly into my heart like I'm mainlining each crash and thump as burning metal into my veins. As the last foot reaches it's destination, I realize exactly what I've stumbled into. It takes a moment, an isolated, but rewarding moment, to realize I'm in a pit of sonic obliteration.
As I look towards the stage, I see three figures, covered from head to toe in scarlet – almost silhouettes – taking the idea of sound to an increasingly devastating level. An explosion is occurring, right before my very eyes, in the form of a human named Terri Gender-Bender. She sways and screams, she strums her guitar like an accelerating hot rod burning off the flesh of god; she rocks! Along with Terri, Jamie Aaron Aux handles bass and Chris Common plays the sticks. It's a finale, a consequence of my tardiness, but it's all I needed to hear, to understand. It's an aural bomb and I'm riding each sonic boom with full cooperation, all the way into the apocalypse.
The band quakes in unison to a litany of head bangs and devil horns, offering sacrifice like appeasement for the immensity before them.
As the last note bends itself into forced cooperation and the feedback of the amps release all the demons everyone was holding in that night, Le Butcherettes finish their set and receive a loud cheer from the crowd. I watch them walk away into the dimly lit background of the alley. I stand in absolute amazement of what I just heard. It's hard to believe that great rock n roll, in it's true trail-blazing form, still exists on planet earth. But I witnessed it first hand, in the form of Le Butcherettes.
The noise dies down and I hit the wall like gravity intends me to. Observing the crowd, I feel a certain camaraderie. The show attracts a variety of black-haired lion manes and sweat soaked battle jackets with scars of experience you couldn't count on one hand. But no matter what the musical affiliation or statement of fashion, we are all there for the same reason. A reason that binds our brains and hearts into motion, anticipating the unadulterated and refined crunch of what is to come. As I begin to delve into the analytic recesses of my mind, I hear the music halt, and a cough-like noise begins to fill the building. It's a sound loop, a repeating exertion of human reflex, as if clearing a palette. I recognize it as the cough from Black Sabbath's “Sweet Leaf” – the song begins to play as I see a robed man take the stage.
Two more men, with sticks and bass, take their rightful places on stage. What appears to be the eye of Horus – patterned into gold on the robed mans black cloak – stares into the crowd, as if to observe the worthy and destroy the undeserving. Aleister Crowley comes to mind, a powerful charisma surrounds the stage. Then a sound, distant at first, grows into a overwhelming cloud of distorted catastrophe. The deep CRUNCH of the first chord sprays black all over my red veins and I know exactly where I am. I know exactly what this is. This is the FUCKING MELVINS!
Buzz Osbourne displays a concentrated focus, Dale Crover begins his smash into oblivion one ball- blasting beat at a time. Jeff Pinkus raises his shivering metal bass into the air, guiding the increasingly kinetic headbanging in the crowd. The crowd thickens near the stage, and and the transformation process begins. First it's a few, then more and finally many begin to scream, sweat and convulse in awkward and intense unison. We continue, forming a sludge as we come together in our love for the brutalization of eardrums and bodies. The sludge grows thicker and thicker, and from each chord comes a melting wave of music that forces our nervous systems to disconnect from our heads – shaking those motherfucking skulls like we're trying to rattle a pick out from the body of an acoustic guitar.
My feet shake and my head bangs. They don't stop for one blinding moment, not even when Buzz Osbourne breaks the sonic wall for a cover of the Butthole Surfers “Moving to Florida.” As Osbourne shouts “And I'm gonna build me the Atomic...” we all scream “BOMB!” in anticipation. He waits, and whispers “bomb”, breaking back into the bass-blasting segments of the song, and demonstrating a masterful understanding of the music surrounding him.
Osbourne shreds, Crover blasts, Pinkus pounds and the show winds down to the last song. Jumping from the shadows like the blast of a supernova, Terri-Gender-Bender enters, immediately breaking into what seems to be an interpretative dance to summon the spirits of punk and metal. She aids the Melvins in building the climax of the show. With one last blast of soul and energy, the show ends with Osbourne saluting the crowd like the commander in-chief of sonic crunch.
They all leave their instruments on, generating deafening feedback to drop us all down from the musical high that had been keeping us up for hours. Dale Crover is the last to leave. Like the proverbial bridesmaid catching the bouquet on her best friend's wedding day, I jump into the air to catch the drumstick he throws to the crowd.
I didn't catch it and fumbled with it as it flew to the ground. But I fought for it and came out victorious with a new souvenir of one of the best shows I've been to in a really, really long time. As the band leaves and the crowd dissipates, I walk straight towards to the door, drumstick clutched in hand.
I stroll to the parking lot, attempting to regain my serious loss of hearing, I reflect on the show. So many other people have seen this band, and they have played a myriad of cities and venues. But I now have my own triumphal moment. In the back of my mind, I know – with the utmost pride and certainty – that even if it's just a fragment of the bands long prolific history, I got rocked the fuck out by the Melvins.
“Someday you’ll be looking back on your life/ At the memories, this is gonna be one of those nights”. Yep, Grammy Award-winning Tim McGraw sums it up pretty darn well. The “Shotgun Rider Tour” made a stop at Isleta Amphitheater (5601 University Blvd. SE) on Friday night with Chase Bryant, Billy Currington and Tim McGraw and it was definitely one of those nights.
The sold out venue was packed with all manner of people, from rhinestone-bedazzled country girls straight out of a Shepler’s catalogue to emo kids with weird hair--the buzzing crowd showed that country certainly ain’t just for farm hands and mountain folk anymore.
Chase Bryant was up first at 7pm, looking like he just came from a preppy frat party but getting the crowd going with his hit single “Take It On Back”. While still relatively new to the scene, the Nashville native is definitely one to watch and even made Rolling Stone Magazine's list of “10 Country Artists You Need to Know”. Either way it looked like he was having a blast as he got the crowd standing and cranked away on a mustard-yellow Gibson Les Paul.
As anyone who has ever been to a concert knows, the time between sets is usually pretty boring and is only good for making a run to the beer tent. However, the speakers and giant screens kept the crowd entertained with ridiculously goofy ED and anti-depressant ad spoofs with Tim McGraw concerts as the “cure”. I laughed, I cried, I sang.
As the temperature finally cooled down, the music got hotter with Billy Currington taking the stage and playing an energetic 13-song setlist that included hilarious “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer”, sexy “Must Be Doin’ Something Right” and a country version of “Uptown Funk” complete with coordinated moves from the band that had the crowd going wild. Repping his 6th album, Summer Forever, which was released last week, Currington more than fulfilled his duty in getting the crowd pumped.
Just as darkness fell over the sweating city, with a thundering intro and fans’ ear-piercing screams even louder than the speakers, McGraw blasted into his set with the 1999 classic “Something Like That.” “Truck Yeah” was up next amid the glow of thousands of smartphones being held up in the air. McGraw kept the energy high, bouncing between beloved older tunes like “Just to See You Smile” and newer favorites like “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”. Wearing his trademark black hat and tight jeans, he lived up to his title as a Country Music Icon and Top Male performer.
The encore was so awesome even Mother Nature cried with McGraw’s first single from 1994, “Indian Outlaw”, bringing on a dash of rain and some serious rain dancing. What a show! But if you missed it, don’t worry--according to a recent interview, McGraw says he’ll be working ‘til he’s 100 to keep the ladies in his family happy so he’ll certainly make it back to Burque.