On Earth, the humans wake and sleep and eat and make things. One of the things they make is music, a sort of organized system of sounds that convey meaning that goes well beyond the boundaries of language.
Since there are a lot of them and because music comes as naturally as eating or waking or sleeping to a fairly vast number of those fragile, strong and sentient beings, a lot of music gets made in one year on the planet called Earth.
Here in a very tiny crevice in the Earth, the humans of the Middle Rio Grande were quite engaged this year in the aforementioned process. Let’s take a look at their musical activities for the year they call 2019. We’ll keep it telegraphic, so it sounds like it’s coming from a transdimensional entity tasked with observing you cabrones.
Dillon Cullinan’s project, Adult Beverage, played a really fine show at Sister on Jan. 4. Dude’s moved on to Califas, but his influence can still be heard in the local psych scene. Space rockers Atomonaut released a kickbutt album called Inner Space Vol. 2. Thursday Night Girl Fight celebrated their tenth year with a concert at the Launchpad that featured those funky female collaborators of Rettinger, Chicharra. hONEyhoUSe released a wonderfully piquant CD titled Kick Up the Dust while Dust City Opera rose from dirt city with an exciting new Americana-ish twist at month’s end.
The month that sometimes features a false spring here in the Burkes started off with an authentic performance of Paul Simon’s Graceland by local jam masters Pherkad on Friday, Feb. 8. By the middle of the month, hot shows by wunderkids Five Mile Float, trumpeter Ryan Montaño and Sister’s favorite hip-hop artist Pope Yes Yes Y’all, brought a significant measure of warm musical goodness back to an otherwise frozen city. Lindy Vision brought the most winter fire, though, with their album release party for Adult Children, held at Meow Wolf on Saturday, Feb. 23. Oh, and Javier Romero proved he was the king of rocanrol in these parts with the release of Retreater.
Rockers Red Mesa hit it hard at the Launchpad on Friday, March 8 and the very funky SubTractor had a totally diggable gig at Sister the next night. Get Action got plenty of action at the annual St. Punktrick’s Day show at the Launchpad while local hip-hop star Dremon told readers all about his dreams in our issue number 12. At the end of the month, Alibi music critic August March had a long talk with Robyn Hitchcock about the whole deal called life so far.
To start the month off with a bang, we interviewed the longtime high desert space-rock gang called SuperGiant and then, wanting to top off that big Burque music tank, talked to M.O. Music, the winner of this year’s BOB Music hip-hop music category. April also saw the release of the album Dream Trails by the late, great Albuquerque rapper Def-I. Folk punk provocateur Cactus Warmuth dropped Attacktus at month’s end, proving that the genre called punk rock still had a chance to conquer some new ears in an otherwise rapped-out town.
In May, they built a Monolith on the Mesa. It was out by Taos, yo, and it happened to be the best thing to happen to heavy metal in this state since Randy Castillo rose up outta el Norte like a burning, drum-beating eagle demon. The two-day fest featured everyone who is anyone and local bands like Beard, The Horned God, Black Maria and Prey for Kali got props for properly repping Dirt City’s abundant, authentic and abysmally awesome metal scene. Pherkad, a jam band to be reckoned with, got our issue 20 cover—Cheese and all—while Manhigh talked to Weekly Alibi about their meteoric rise to recognition near the end of the month. Meanwhile, Prism Bitch continued their slow climb to national fame at an acoustic gig at Tractor Brewing Wells Park right at the very beginning of June.
In June, Russell James, a stalwart of Burque’s Americana scene, packed his bags and headed out to Oregon. James talked about his musical journey in an exclusive interview published here. In issue 24, we had a fantastic conversation with Val James, one of this city’s most gifted young musicians and then tragically misspelled the names of members of Marty Crandall’s post-Shins project, Carrier Waves, in a review that turned some heads with its newish slang. By the end of the month, we were chatting with fellow City of Gold alumnus Ron Crowder, wondering whether “cholo Goth” was really a thing and listening with great joy to UNM professor Kristina Jacobsen’s new album of on-target Americana titled Shelter.
Mysterious and prolific folk-rock magician Fast Heart Mart made a special appearance at Marble Brewery on my birthday, July 6. That’s Albuquerque native Martin Stamper, in case you want to know, and he rocks. In other news, Pawn Drive, an outfit fronted by Alibi special forces technician Darrell Sparks, released a CD of a live performance at the Albuquerque Press Club from 2017 that absolutely proved who is the most handsome of them all. Skata Jay had a cool gig at the Launchpad on Thursday, July 11 and the New Mexico Jazz Festival began its 14th season on that same night. The next day, The NM Jazz Latino Orchestra played to a sold-out house at the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater and the Graceland Superjam rocked the Marble Brewery at month’s terminus.
My favorite month started out with two notable album releases. Far left-field, post-horrorcore rapper SUMMON became ALONEWULF and released one of the most compelling hip-hop records to come outta Burque in years. Jazmyn Crosby, recording as Glitter Vomit, dropped a record that defied simple categorization, filling both sides of that thick vinyl with noisy nuance and wondrous, sparkly sonic regurgitates from the mouth of life itself. In the middle of August, Festival Eclectica came to Angel Fire and Amanda Machon of Burque’s inimitable Red Light Cameras was on that heady, heartfelt bill. As August reached its peak, Weekly Alibi chatted with native New Mexican rocanrol legend Jimmy Stallings while Jeremy Barnes of A Hawk and a Hacksaw sat in.
On Sept. 5, Dave Payne and Salt Cedar released a sly and sublime emponymous album that caused bassist Cory Van Minefee to tear up like it was something decreed by Boognish himself. In slightly more serious yet still totally rocking news, Latinx powerhouse Baracutanga premiered its socially relevant yet significantly danceable tune “Cuida tus Espaldas” as a music video that highlighed the current immigration issues haunting our nation of immigrants. Globalquerque! came alive again for the 15th year in a row, and we talked to one of the global music festival’s founders, Mr. Tom Frouge, to get the scoop.
The tenth month of 2019 saw another delightful and dawn-busting Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta take flight while in the music section we talked jazz and funky soul with Ryan Montaño and up-and-coming guitarist Isaac Aragon of The Healing. Over at Sonic Reducer we considered the vasty lo-fi genius of fuguers’ cove’ latest, Execution Drone, while also examining the hauntingly beautiful sounds of LAD and Gypsy’s landmark record Penumbra. As All Hallow’s Eve approached, the Launchpad gave it up to a grateful Burque with at least three more iterations of the now-epic Night of the Living Cover Bands series; among the best of the best this year were Burque Sol covering Amy Winehouse, The Timewreckers as Black Sabbath and M.E. and Fury of Bandwidth No Name as Salt-N-Pepa. Oh, all that plus The Bellmont dropped a smashing record called Hide Your Tracks.
The middle of this past month saw the inevitable rise of country rockers August James & The Lovesick Symphony as the band invaded Alibi HQ before a particularly tasty show at the Launchpad. Rosie Hutchinson, a Burqueña composer with salt, sanity and subtle connections to heaven, released a deeply affecting record, too. It’s titled Hosie and it’s a holy thing, we think. As the month proceeded into December, we also chatted with Mayling Garcia about and mysterious musical instrument invented by Ben Franklin.
December means winter holidays and we figured that Entourage Jazz was the perfect seasonal rep for local musical excursions into the festive fun waiting under the trees and menorahs at winter’s glorious gate. Last week, the music department at Weekly Alibi told you all about Manny Rettinger, the mythic sound engineer from The Duke City who may have been responsible for the local music you are listening to right now. Speaking of right now, that’s a wrap. I’m ready for the first paid vacation in, like, 2000 years. Be seeing you in 2020.