Week in Pop: Ana Lola Roman, Apollo Brown, IOLA, Violent Mae

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With Pope mania and more matters filling all of our news feeds, Impose’s Week in Pop presents today and tomorrow’s stars of the new secular and highly spirited orders. But first beyond all the hype from the major labels, this week Kanye West discussed his upcoming tentative 2020 president run with praise for Republican candidate Ben Carson, says Swish might not be released for another year; M.E.D., Blu & Madlib collaborative album Bad Neighbor will be available October 30 from BangYaHead, and they dropped the track “Knock Knock“; the new Frankie Cosmos EP Fit Me In will be available November 13 from Bayonet; Drake & Future dropped What a Time to Be Alive; Grimes’ upcoming album coming in October; Lush reunion rumors; Suede to return in late January of 2006 with Night Thoughts (plus a companion piece film), Jeff Lynne’s ELO to release an album after 14 years; sharing “Outsiders“; Viet Cong are finally changing their name; Collect Records’ Geoff Rickly versus the Martin Shkreli investment scandal; Disclosure dropped Caracal today and shared Lorde collaboration “Magnets“; Chvrches coverd the Bieb; David Guetta’s Skrillex and Diplo show in Vegas turned violent; Father John Misty deleted his Velvety Undergroundy Taylor Swift covers from Soundcloud, and Funny Or Die accussed the artist of copying a 2011 Dave Franco sketch on the video “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment“; Bernard Sumner of New Order called his feud with Peter Hook “boring”; Drake opened a restaurant in Toronto called Fring’s, the UK’s government security/intelligence agency Government Communications named their surveillance program after the Radiohead song “Karma Police”; Kenny Rogers to retire after upcoming tour; and Morrissey released his first proper novel, List of the Lost.

But as we move to the current pressing matters of the day and pop music’s great tomorrow; we are proud and privileged to present the following world exclusives and insights from Ana Lola Roman, Apollo Brown, IOLA, Violent Mae, Asante Phenix, Dr. Boogie, GRMLN, \\GT//, PUJOL, Steve Hauschildt, featuring guest selections by Illa J and more—in no particular order.

Ana Lola Roman

Behind the scenes with Ana Lola Roman.
Behind the scenes with Ana Lola Roman.

My first introduction to the work of Ana Lola Roman was through a discussion with a clairvoyant former pro-surfer. After bringing me up to date on my horoscope for Capricorn, she recommended the NYC artist to me quickly wrote her name down on a piece of scrap paper. The note remained in a wooden utility drawer of miscellany for months, as a hum of attention for Ana’s music, choreography, and performance began to circulate among the channels of up to the nano second chatter where I learned of her forthcoming Mess/Age EP for voxnox Records that embraces the immediacy and gratification in escaping the perpetual parties turned dull through connections stifled by our own devices of distance. An artist known to work outside the lines of convention, electro composition, and execution, Roman enlisted an assist from producer Josh Ascalon in the co-pilot seat that finds the two working toward her vision of creating big slick carved beat electric-digital artifices around statements and expressions of observations and the feelings behind those perceptions. And while her ice princess presence of regality and self-stylized righteousness brings to mind a variety of dark eye shadowed pop icons (past, present, future); Ana Lola Roman chooses to follow her own cues and artistic pursuits toward a sound and presentation that is all her own.

Introducing the world premiere of “Wave Bye Bye” video directed by MONETLUCKI—the future forward dance fashion visuals features Ana Lola Roman and company busting out expressive dance moves that embrace the identity of the self. Featuring dark gown dressed textiles (and upside-down cross face paint) exhibiting original rhythmic-interpretive dance maneuvers in front of a blank (and sometimes blue-hued background); Ana with the fancy footwork along with friends Deandre Peoples and Judson Harmon cast away the appearance of doubt and the shallow judgements of others. Working out the feelings to the wild flailing rhythms, the three here are the star attractions of their own party of self-belief appointed purposes. “Wave Bye Bye” says au revoir to the negative influences and individuals that project their own unsolicited hang-ups and biases on others, as Ana counters the contrarian forces with her own designed sounds, looks, and moves informed by her own multi-aesthetic focuses and disciplines. Roman sums up the cause in the mid-song breakdown before the big dance inspiring finale with the lyrics; “Stop me from doubt, goodbye, leave a message…I checked out. Stop me from doubt, hit delete, you’re out…”

Also from Mess/Age, the single “Behind the Screen” features Ana Lola Roman takes aim at the hindrances and distractions of sacrificing genuine contact and human interaction for the technological offerings of contemporary conveniences. Following up 2013’s Even Assassins Have Lovers and Romances; the trade for warm dialogues and embraces is exchanged for cold devices that are taken to a dance floor that breaks the digitally obsessed habits for discourse further illustrated with an industrious vintage hip-hop-pop core. But even here the cuts between chorus and verse find abrupt changes in synthesized sonic cycles dotted by lo-fi plinks of falling piano keys. In the mix, Ana includes sample cuts and edits of vocals that permeate throughout the mix that find company amid fuzzy and bubbly synth bass lines, and keyboard sustains of urgency and caution that run beneath the surface of the the whole track’s ensemble. “Behind the Screen” is a journey through the circuit boards and data signal receptors that comprise the bulk of our current interests and co-dependence portrayed through dystopian synth pop brush strokes. Read our foll.owing interview with Ana Lola Roman where she breaks down her forthcoming EP track for track, and more.

Tell us about the creative road that lead you to making Mess/Age.

There seems to be a perpetual party going on accompanied by a massive wall-of-sound, and as much as I hate to be a Debbie-downer, I’ve had to ask myself in the past year, what the hell is everyone partying non-stop for? An escape? Yes. But within this non-stop escape I can’t help but see a narcissism that says to me ‘we really don’t care about the world around us, unless you invite us to the party.’ It’s this occasional K-Hole everyone’s in that I have no time for, nor do I accept. Listen, I have super-antennae where as much I love to party, I’m highly attuned to attitudes, perceptions, and the world around me. We’re all behind screens in mid-conversation, not fully engaged to the person or environments around us. We’re all shooting ourselves up with our smart phones, and goddamn I’m guilty too. But I’m catching myself and have refused to be hypnotized by immediate gratification and escape. So, my goal for this next batch of songs within me was; how do I take all the elements of the party I love musically, but acknowledge through vocals and lyrics my concerns and absolute impatience for this lack of awareness? I’m done with a wall of sound banging in my ears, but not saying anything. It’s just time to take a break from the screens and hear our own heartbeats. With or without vocals or lyrics I needed to challenge myself to do that.

What was it like working with Josh Ascalon, and how did he pact the recordings?

I’ve known Josh for a long time. In the middle of writing all these songs I bumped into him in a cosmic way after not seeing him for years. I’ve been following his work with Neon Indian and Twin Shadow, both artists I love and adore. He’s like what are you working on? I showed him the bare bones written tracks, then we started working together. Me on beats, arrangements, programming, Ableton, samples, lyrics, and him on some of the arrangements and instruments. I couldn’t ask for a more thorough, brave, and risk-taking co-Producer. He also pushes me which is key, because I’m not an easy cat.

Catching up with Ana Lola Roman.
Catching up with Ana Lola Roman.

What for you were some of the behind the scenes focuses and philosophies behind cuts like “Behind the Screen”, “Wave Bye Bye”, etc?

“Behind the Screen” was a key one. When I met my life-partner, we couldn’t help notice that there were 3 of us in this relationship. Me, him, and my iPhone. It’s like I was chained to it and lost some of my freedoms. But I went deeper and just saw this as a metaphor for the state of the world. No friendship or relationship should be reduced to a screen.

“Wave, Bye Bye”—Well, I’ve faced a lot of self-doubt and people around me who second guessed my abilities or questioned my origins. The song is about not validating those who want to crush you, envy you, or simply don’t think you’re cool enough for the party. It’s about banishing self-doubt and obliterating those into non-existence who don’t serve your positive intentions. Basically, it was time for me to get out of my own way and say bye to all that.

“Rosetta”—It’s about finding inner peace and tuning out, getting back into super-nature, the natural state. Which we’ve all forgotten about. Jesus, I’d love to view the friends I have circa 100 years ago and see if they are the same person. See them after the FALL without their hindrances, fashions, and I-Phones. They’d be a whole lot different. This is me wanting to see others in their rawest form.

“Just Enough”—Basically, people please spend some time with yourselves SOBER, remember you’re a human being and you owe it to your own kind not to judge, throw shade, and help others.

In session with Ana Lola Roman.
In session with Ana Lola Roman.

What are some of the projects that you have in the works now?

I’m concentrating on finishing this album and releasing the second EP soon. I have another separate project slated for November on VOXNOX Records for Digital/Vinyl release in Berlin/Hamburg. Strictly Techno tracks and using samples of my own I didn’t get a chance to use on this album. A fun project that doesn’t take itself too seriously but also tests my abilities as a producer on my own. As much as I love producing and singing my own concepts I noticed that the universe wants me to also produce dance music, bring it to those who are simply not ready to hear me wax on in my singing. Fair enough!

Top 3 tunes you can’t get enough of right now?

“Change” by Louisahhh!!!

“Exploitation” by Roisin Murphy off the new Hairless Toys album. Basically I’ve been listening to that whole album for since it’s release back in the Spring and I’m obsessed.

“Tryst” off the “Discreet Desires” album from Helena Hauff.

Ana Lola Roman’s Mess/Age EP will be available soon via voxnox Records.

Apollo Brown

On the couch with Apollo Brown.
On the couch with Apollo Brown.

Regular readers/listeners/viewers have followed our coverage of Apollo Brown’s releases and numerous collaborations in recent weeks, months, and years and today we give you a listen to the Michigan producer’s anticipated album Grandeur that sees release today from Mello Music Group. Making a name for himself as one of Detroit’s most sought after producer, Brown naturally flexes his found groove-surface noise style steez that keeps the hip hop grooves timeless and a posse of emcees like Freddie Gibbs, Big Pooh, Barrel Brothers, Chino XL, Evidence, Finale, Masta Ace, Rasheed, Ras Kass, Saga & Ty Farris, his Ugly Heroes crew, Your Old Droog, and the names keep on going. Apollo keeps the entire event classic, where every cut kicks like a single that could have come from 2005, 1995, 2015, or the ways of dusty scratched wax to be rediscovered in 2025.

Fast-forwarding the tape and time from Apollo Brown’s 24 Carat Brown Music release of Skilled Trade from 2010; the grandiose occassion of Grandeur starts off with the applause round intro of “Finally”, that takes you into the big bass dropping pact rap from Barrel Brothers on “Neva Eva”, bringing the big time orchestral atmospheres for Oddisee on “What You Were Lookin’ For”, to the aggressive ominous organ imbued “Detonate” feat. an explosive delivery from M.O.P., as Chino XL & Finale remind you that “you can’t click on World Star for your life solutions” on the mystic slapper “Brass Tacks”.

Analog transmission continue to permeate the air with the violin dips on “There’s Always Radio” feat. Evidence, where signals keep floating like a thick smoke filled room on the resolve anthems like “Still Standin'” feat. Rasheed Chappell, life lessons and reminiscing on tales and fables of “The Hard Way” feat. Saga & Ty Farris, singing and rhyming songs of subsistence with Big Pooh & Dynasty on “Gettin’ By”, while Ras Kass talks about keeping enemies closer than the crew on “Enemies With Benefits”, to the invitation of solidarity with Vinnie Paz & Blacastan on “Walk With Me”, the pensive vintage r n’ b backed track “Not That Guy” feat. Your Old Droog presents affirmations of identity.

Masta Ace & Wordsworth share a public service message for our monetary focused worlds on “Money”, right before Freddie Gibbs & Maffew Ragazino ride up on “Who’s That” where the world of sports heroes and heavy hitting hustlers meet together in the key-toned collection of notes and bars. Further reflections of time and place hit on “In The Moment feat. O.C., to the old 90s style NYC hip hop hedonism of Triple Beams feat. Westside Gunn & Planet Asia, blending seamlessly into the Eternia featured track “Each Other” that opens up the eyes and cares of consciousness, right before Sean Price & REKS storm the join with the no-sycophant policies of “Yesman Shit”, right before Ugly Heroes bring out the finish line wave of “Checkered Flag”. After you’ve had a moment to properly marinate Grandeur, check out our following insightful interview with Apollo Brown.

If you could direct your own Apollo Brown autobiographical movie; how would you chronicle your adventures from Skilled Trade to Grandeur?

First of all, I would probably have to cast Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to play the role of Apollo Brown, ha ha. But seriously, I’m not really sure how I would chronicle my adventures. It would have to be a ‘made for tv’ movie, because my life isn’t that exciting. It’s actually pretty boring. You can ask artists that know me, I’m definitely not the life of the party. If I come out and show my face somewhere, I’m usually in the back with my hat low, and chances are I end up leaving early. I’m all business, and all family. Even when I’m on tour, I’m the guy who goes straight back to my hotel room after a show so I can Skype my family back home. Don’t get me wrong, I have fun with my career. I laugh a lot, I joke, and I enjoy making music wholeheartedly, but I know for a fact that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. And in an industry where you have producers in line to knock you off, you have to work to stay relevant, and stay relevant to work. The movie would consist of a lot of studio time and touring, a lot of Detroit fitted hats and beards, and the occasional smile to cap everything off. It would be a boring movie brotha, but the score would be amazing!

From your collaborations in the past half decade alone, what sort of wisdom and insights have you gleaned that has been really inspiring for your own works?

I’ve learned that legends bring experience to the table and enjoy a steady mix of work and play. They have this ability to balance things that others can’t, while still getting the task done, and done right. I’ve also learned that, although not as experienced, the up and coming emcee is super hungry. That amount of hunger can sometimes make up for lack of focus, lack of confidence, and/or lack of professional character at that particular moment. They grow into their own though, and might eventually become a legend. Through the years I’ve learned to do me. I’ve learned to create the music I want to create no matter how many people judge, laugh, hate, and fall off your bandwagon. You can’t please everyone. It’s impossible. I’ve learned to cater to my moods, and in turn cater to those fans that allow me to do so. OC told me, “yo fuck anybody that doesn’t like your music, it’s not for them. They ain’t gotta listen to it.” And I absolutely agree.

Grandeur is one of your most ambitious works yet that features a constant showcase of so many great emcees like Freddie Gibbs, MOP, Evidence, Oddisee, Masta Ace, Ras Kass, Big Pooh, and the guest list goes on. What were the behind the scenes orchestrations like with getting productions to match the mic holder, and the like?

I wanted this album to sound really grown. It has the BPMs to match. It has the artistic clientele to match. Therefore, the content does too. I always tell people that I only work with artists that I’m personally a fan of. How could you not be a fan of any of these artists on this album? The behind the scenes orchestrations on this particular album were very straight forward. It involved a lot of emailing, introducing emcees to other emcees, conceptualizing, and making sure what was in my head came to fruition. The beats were made for those specific people that you hear on them now. I created the beats, matched each one to the artists in a very short list, and then got to making correspondence. It was hard for me though, to finally make an album that wasn’t done solely in the studio with an artist. It normally goes against my protocol, but with a compilation album made up of 30 or so different artists, in different time zones, with different schedules, you do what you can to make everything come together and work. And I’m definitely proud of how it came together.

apollo brown week in pop 2

What was it like for your arranging something as intricate and involved as this album that features so many other talents?

Being a Producer in this industry is a waiting game. Especially for something such as a compilation album. On top of that, a compilation album that curates some of everyone’s favorite emcees, old and new, is harder than people think. There’s so many artists who work at different paces, and at different intensity levels, it’s hard to put a time deadline on a project like this. You just have to let it flow, and it took about 6 months to make. When I started brainstorming about the album, I already pretty much knew who I wanted to have involved with it. I’m all about chemistry and naturally creating with someone. I didn’t want to force a song, or force a collab that otherwise would never happen. I wanted to keep the album fully complimented and consistent, hence why I called upon those that you hear on Grandeur.

What’s good in Detroit right now that has you really inspired?

Everything is good in Detroit right now. The city is back on the rise. Attractions are being built, the arts are thriving, people are moving in, and therefore, money is coming back into the city. That’s definitely inspiring. Watching the resilient people of Detroit come back from some of the worst times in Detroit history is also inspiring. And in regards to music, we stay “good”. I mean, I could be biased, but Detroit Hip Hop is always on top; easily a city to check for. Again, inspiration.

When you’re not collaborating with a plethora of artists, what do you find yourself listening to, or doing hobby wise outside of music.

To be completely honest, I hardly ever listen to hip hop when I’m not working. People think I just drown myself in the latest and greatest of hip hop. Definitely not the case. I find myself listening to a lot of 80’s alternative and soft rock, a lot of old 70’s soul, and I’m a neo-soul fan as well. Hip hop is my life, and my livelihood, but sometimes I have to get away, I have to decompress. There’s plenty of times, I just have to get away from music, period. That’s when I go out to the garage. I thoroughly enjoy working on my cars. I have a built 2007 Trailblazer SS, and also a built 1972 Chevelle LS1, both of which are very fast. I love photography, and playing softball. I collect matchbox cars and football cards. I have over 100 pairs of shoes, mostly retro runners like 574s and/or AM90s. I live/love to eat, that’s why I’m so fat now, haha. Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my family; my wife and my kids.

Some words on what’s next for Apollo Brown, any upcoming rad collabos we should know about?

I have a few things in the works for 2016, and plans for 2017. I just can’t really disclose what the projects are at this time. Just know, I’m always working. In this industry, someone is always waiting to take your place. Get to work!

Apollo Brown’s Grandeur is available now from Mello Music Group.


The world of IOLA, aka Carey Sveen.
The world of IOLA, aka Carey Sveen.

Norway by Brooklyn artist Carey Sveen, aka Iola released her album Arnfinn this past summer and now premieres the Pete Sickbert-Bennett video for “Chichen”. Taking her name from an area of her childhood town of of Franklin, NC and paying tribute to her father Arnfinn of the album’s namesake—Iola weaves songs of experience, life spanning narratives, and biographies that assuage with untouched vocals of unbound affection that are couple through subtle choral keys accompanied by Carey’s own understated overdubbed back-up vocals. The secrets of the soul and world are entertained through sequences of scenes and histories played out where Sveen blends the autobiographical observances with the lily pad dotted cool pools of forward swimming thoughts.

Iola’s debut of the Pete Sickbert-Bennett video for “Chichen” focuses on the singer in a sparse visual environment in front of a black backdrop. Effects that showcase Carey’s hands, arms, and head floating in disembodied space summon symbols of crosses, upside down ‘Ys’ and ‘Os’ are met with b/w images of skies and wave lapping shores that add to the head sweeping wonder of Iola’s song of life and post-life matters. A harmonic cathedral chamber inhabits the entire song where mountain climbing adventures (and aspirations) are recounted with visual lyrics about “horses trampling on the limestone roadways”, coming of age thoughts on entering a “woman’s world” seeking visions of a “world made whole, with all it’s buried gold” and moving toward the memories and bonds that are greater than all the aforementioned treasures. The mystic and sacred mystery that makes up the song”Chichen” continues in the motifs, gestures, and symbols found in Sickbert-Bennett’s visual accompaniment that treats every utterance, essence, and lyrical element with a corresponding image that brings out sub-textual cryptic wisdom created from a life reflecting lullaby that keeps family passed and present close at heart and mind. After the following debut video presentation of “Chichen”, read our our interview with Iola’s Carey Sveen who reveals her passion for The Mets, the excitement of being a new mom, and much more.

What were some of your earliest Norwegian musical inspirations?

I really never had any formal Norwegian musical inspirations. My family members in Norway were in the troll-carving business—not musicians. Also, I was born in Norway but my parents moved to North Carolina when I was only an infant. So, the only Norwegian musical inspiration I remember receiving was the occasional, sweet, Norwegian lullaby that I mother would sing to me. Additionally, singing and performing was introduced to me very early on because my grandmother in Alabama was a songwriter/performer and I would perform her country songs around the South.

How have the worlds of Norway to Brooklyn impacted your own visions?

I believe that growing up in a super-tiny town in North Carolina influenced me more than anything in my life, thus far. There’s an abundance of beauty there; but, a heavy dose of close-mindedness and, at times and in places, a lack of diversity and understanding. And, the people who I have met while living in New York City (for the past 11 years) have sparked the beginnings of many of my songs.

iola week in pop 2

How did you go about choosing the IOLA artist title, and what’s the story behind the name?

I chose IOLA with the help of my past bandmates. I wrote a song called “Iolta”—which is a Cherokee name and an area in my hometown of Franklin, NC. The name Iolta was frequently changed by people throughout history to benefit their own convenience. It was called Iola in the 1920s; and, we adopted the name. The mountains of North Carolina are magical and complicated—and, I try to infuse my music with a similar character.

Tell us how the album became a tribute to your father and how everything from transcendental meditation practices and old country reflections converge together during this process?

My father passed away ten years ago, now. His person was very important in shaping me to be who I am now. He was Norwegian; but he really loved America and North Carolina so I really wanted to name the album after him. I miss him everyday, so it was a little something that I could do in his memory. Meditation-wise, TM has been greatly beneficial in allowing me to relax my brain enough to be creative. I can be a ginormous stress-case.

iola week in pop 3

What was it like working with Pete Sickbert-Bennett on the life reflecting, and mystic-y video for “Chichen”?

Pete’s AMAZING! I cried when I watched the video, because, he was so thoughtful in his creation. He actually took the time to understand my song and beautifully align the lyrics with his images. I have had the interesting experience of having very nice articles written about my music; but, I don’t think that a few of the journalists actually listened to the songs. But, Pete, really hit it on-the-nail—he gets me, and, he got what I was trying to convey.

Tell us what you are the most excited about happening in the Brooklyn and beyond circuits.

Well, the most exciting thing happening in Brooklyn right now is that I am five months pregnant with a baby girl! Ha ha! Brooklyn is great; but, my first pregnancy-experience is kind of devouring most of my attention these days. At the same time, my husband and I eat, drink, and sleep The Mets games at home in Brooklyn, or at Citi Field in Queens. I also get excited when Sturgill Simpson or Perfume Genius come to town. And I try to catch lots of theater at BAM, Issue Project Room shows, and any of my friends’ bands’ shows. And if you haven’t had them, the jam-filled donut holes for brunch at Diner in Williamsburg are life-changing.

iola week in pop 4

What are you working on follow-up wise from Arnfinn?

I am now working on my second full-length album—it’s influenced by ruby mining that I did as a child in NC, among other more secret things. I’m having the 12” vinyls of Arnfinn pressed, now, as well—did you know that it takes six months? Whoa, right? And, I am brainstorming touring for next year, some shows in NYC for the end of the year, and always looking for more right-people to play music with me! Write me if interested!

Parting wisdom on the IOLA philosophy/vision?

I am very happy that IOLA is happening; because, I waited a long, long time to do it. So, the philosophy is to grab for what you want and take a chance. I am big life-is-short person.

IOLA’s Arnfinn is available now via Bandcamp.

Violent Mae

Becky & Floyd of Violent Mae; photographed by Kenell Turner.
Becky & Floyd of Violent Mae; photographed by Kenell Turner.

From Connecticut and the Outer Banks; Violent Mae premiere their new single “In the Sun” that conveys lemon-auburn beams of pure heavenly pop bliss. Made up of vocalist/guitarist Becky Kessler, and percussionist/backup singer Floyd Kellog—their new album Kid will be available November 20 from Telegraph Recording Company (operated by husband and wife duo Rich Martin & Daphne Lee Martin, who is releasing her new album October 2) perspectives carried over from adolences project and perceive wild eyed wonder to an expanding world of discovery.

“In the Sun” is not only a near perfect song, but perfectly illustrates the synergy between Becky and Floyd where colloquial items and quips from inner monologues and conversations are delivered by Kessler at a tempo kept by Kellogg’s dedicated persistent attention to evocative rhythms. Becky begins “Sun” with her guitar finding the right chords before the two kick into gear with the plethora of thoughts and expressions that roll out in a stream of feelings that are strung around the adjective and replies to the refrain of “how I feel with you.” “In the Sun” is a song that does not step for the world or noone. This is Violent Mae on a tour de force that is cause for anyone who has yet to hear the infectious enamorment of the duo’s sound to discover what many already have. After the following debut listen, check out our interview with Telegraph’s Rich Martin and Violent Mae’s Becky Kessler.

Tell us about how Telegraph Recording Co. was first established?

Rich Martin: I launched the label with a compilation release in 1999 called Tea at the Palaz of Hoon that celebrated a DIY space that I ran called Temporary Autonomous Zone with partner David Lewis (of Effect Partners and founder of Riot Act Media). The two CD comp featured Bright Eyes, Elf Power, Ted Leo, Moe Tucker, Dalëk, the One Am Radio and many more who played the space. From there, we started releasing acts from the Connecticut music scene.

Challenges and triumphs of launching an indie imprint?

Rich Martin: I suppose the biggest challenge is helping get notice for our acts out there beyond the immediate locale. We’re sort of lost between New York and Boston here in Connecticut and though we have as vibrant a scene as any in the country we definitely seem to be hanging below the radar a lot of the time. In fact, we lose a great many acts to the great scene sponge that is Brooklyn. Still, things are as active and promising as ever and there is a great deal of potential energy that is ready to blow at any given moment.

Violent Mae's Becky Kessler & Floyd Kellog; photograph by Kenell Turner.
Violent Mae’s Becky Kessler & Floyd Kellog; photograph by Kenell Turner.

How did the Violent Mae project come about?

Becky Kessler: It started with very little ambition. I asked Floyd to record and produce my first album. He added layers from multiple instruments which pulled the music in a beautiful direction, stylistically. It was a kind of break through experience, working together, so it just made sense to become a band.

What were some of the visions and themes at work during the making of Kid?

Becky Kessler: I write a lot from an adolescent perspective so the title track, Kid, is appropriate. But some of the songs, if not all of them, are about having that same adolescent perspective as an adult. It’s not something you grow out of, at least I don’t. We tried to keep the layering scaled down to the duo, so mostly guitars, drums and vocals. Floyd found a bunch of random sounds that totally reflect that youthful theme.

What’s next for Telegraph and Violent Mae?

Becky Kessler: We’re off to play a showcase at CMJ, October 14 at Muchmore’s, and we’re planning a small tour around Mustang Music Festival on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I’m from.

Rich Martin: We’re working on a handful of projects including Daphne Lee Martin’s ‘Fall On Your Sword’, Pocket Vinyl’s ‘Tin’, and Quiet Giant’s debut ‘Loom’ and looking forward to a new release in the near from Elison Jackson among others.

Violent Mae’s Kid will be available November 20 from Telegraph Recording Company.

Dr. Boogie

Introducing LA quartet, Dr. Boogie.
Introducing LA quartet, Dr. Boogie.

The spirit of the super sweet 70s carries on and on with LA’s rock and roll true believers Dr. Boogie who present the world premiere of their NYC by Los Angeles styling “Get Back To New York City”. Taken from their upcoming Gotta Get Back to…New York City LP available digitally November 13 and on vinyl/CD January 15, 2016 from Dead Beat Records; that Bolan bequeathed boogie takes us back to the time where the proto-punk groundwork was laid out between the UK, LA, and NYC respectively where Chuck Berry established licks are put on overdrive and hopped on muscle car-esque steroids that cruise brightly like a hub cap diamond star halo.

“Get Back To New York City” is Dr. Boogie bringing the “Suffragette City” to the city of the angels in a track that resounds with the schools and senses of all your favorite old school guitar rock heroes. The urge and shuffle percussion motions that rock and rage their way toward an early 70s-esque Max’s Kansas City from their home on the Sunset Strip see the strutting set bringing the coasts (and the otherside of the pond as well) a little bit closer. Dr. Boogie has made the ultimate anthem for anyone in LA desperately dreaming, and seeking NYC’s sanctuary of sound. Get ready to party like 1973-75 never left.

Other jammers like “Down This Road” finds Dr. Boogie’s Chris P, Dustin James, Jeff Turpin, and Luis Herrera kicking out the analogous attitude that acts as if the awful digitized 80s never happened. The quartet shows a proficiency and affection not just for the canonized standards of that legendary decade (Mott the Hoople, Slade, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, T.Rex, Sweet, etc) but showcases the staying power of the mythic status junk shop singles from the likes of Jook, The Rats, Catapult, Chunky, Hello, Jimmy Jukebox, and the list goes on. “This Road” takes the rhythm guitar riffs down the familiar boulevards and lonely lanes that looks toward the exciting interstates that connect Los Angeles to the allure of the east coast’s own rock and roll metropolis, New York City. Dr. Boogie throws everything from amped-up power chord shreds, piano moves, organ atmospheres, and a finale that involves interplay between blasts and blurts of saxophone smokestacks and harmonica exhalations. Check out our following interview with the Dr. Boogie boys.

How has the NYC by LA sounds inspired you all?

We all grew up listening to a lot of the rock n’ roll and punk bands that came out of New York City or were regarded as “New York” bands. Groups like New York Dolls, The Dead Boys, Wayne County, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, The Heartbreakers, etc. This is just the type of music that really gets us all off. Attitude with musicality.

Tell us about the making of your upcoming Dead Beat Records album, and the “Get Back To New York City” single.

We were writing songs for the record kind of as we were going in and recording them. So, once we had a couple of new tunes we would work out the demos and pre-production and then head into the studio to record them. Working like this really allowed us to capture the moment and vibes we were all feeling off of each other after having just recently written the songs. It kept things fresh and a little unpredictable. We never had a chance to overthink anything or let things get stale. We were also fortunate enough to be working with a good friend Gabe Lowry at Fox Force Five Recorders. I don’t think we could have made this record the way it sounds with anybody else.

What are some of your favorite more obscure 70s records?

Berlin Brats, Ducks Deluxe, Nervous Eaters, and Chiswick era Skrewdriver

Notes from the LA and perhaps NYC scenes that you all are into right now?

Los Angeles is a huge, vast wasteland that continues to recycle the same pathetic crap that most people are familiar with when thinking about LA. I wish I could say that there was more than a handful of bands that have anything to do with rock n’ roll.

On the bright side, due to some great rock n’ roll parties/clubs thrown by guys like Roger Mars, Howie Pyro, Rick Barzell, and Jordan Jones; nights like—Cretin Hop, Green Slime, and one of the newest ones No Fun, have people in town actually going out listening, dancing and having some real fun to some serious rock n’ roll records.

Gotta get back to NYC to see what going down back east. From what I heard it’s very similar to what’s going on here. Rock n’ roll dance parties and new bands popping up.

The philosophy and mantra of Dr. Boogie?

All we have set out to do is make good music that we enjoy playing, far from all of the microwavable bullshit that people are being force fed these days in the mass media. Modern music has become so meaningless and with the dinosaur rockers charging $2,500 a ticket for a half ass version of something that used to be good we just wanted to make a record that feels fresh and exciting and true to what we love about real Rock n’ Roll music in these sterile times. Real music played with real instruments and no auto tuned vocals. Music that comes from the heart not a button on a laptop. If people get on board and dig what we do great, if not they can piss off.

Dr. Boogie’s upcoming album will be available digitally November 13 and on vinyl/CD January 15, 2016 from Dead Beat Records.

Steve Hauschildt

A candid seaside moment with Steve Hauschildt; photographed by Leigh Silverblatt.
A candid seaside moment with Steve Hauschildt; photographed by Leigh Silverblatt.

Releasing his new album Where All is Fled today on Kranky, we meditate to Steve Hauschildt’s single “Sundialed” that turns the mind in clockwork motions fashioned by electronic instrumentation imitating natural sensations of sun, earth stone, and the rhythmic metrics that create their own chronos sequences. One the artist’s great solo releases yet, Fled finds Hauschildt’s third album adventure to be an experience where the synthesizers, strings, and rhythm paths depart onto escapist routes that veer in unpredictable directions with a treasure trove of surprises galore.

Keys reverberate as serpentine reptile slithers of electric effects course through the mainframe of the track, as guiding synths remain predominately steady on the terse hills and valleys of prgoression, save for a closing key tempo change that slows down the action an inevitable fade out. “Sundialed” is the sound of a waking day where the hustle and bustle of life in the natural and metropolitan worlds is heard and envisioned in elapsed time where the images and motions resemble busy bees buzzing, and ants marching in hurried line assemblages. This past week we had a chance to catch up with Steve to get a unique look insidethe making of his new album, and further insights on his own processes, and notes.

Tell us how the recurring visions involving early alchemical emblems, and surrealist landscape paintings inspired Where All Is Fled.

A lot of the imagery and feeling in Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens and Kay Sage’s paintings fed into the album artwork and video work that I did with Leigh Silverblatt but also it had a subconscious effect on my music as well. It was definitely a good exercise in studying placement and color but above all it really illuminated the importance of catharsis and how studying impossible scenarios can reveal hidden meaning or intentions. I wanted to incorporate a lot of hidden meaning and references in the music via samples, track titles, artwork etc. It allows there to be another dimension to the songs so people can uncover secrets and interpret that as deeply as they want. It was also important for the music to stand up on it’s own without any of that being a requisite as well, however.

How do you define the progression here from your previous works Rapt for Liquid Minister and Tragedy & Geometry?

Those two albums were heavy on a teutonic, post-Berlin school sound and while Where All Is Fled still carries some of that DNA along it is also a departure in some ways as well. I wouldn’t confine it to one single style or genre but it’s an album that takes a number of influences and collides them together to hopefully try and create something new out of that collision. I’ve opened myself up to a lot of virtual instruments and effects which are layered over real synthesizers whereas those earlier two albums were made working within an analog, restricted set of possibilities. So the actual DAW and computer play a larger role in my compositional method now. My ability to record myself in better quality has also improved every year so that is another factor in the progression.

Tell us about what experiences and adventures informed the new album between now and Sequitur from 2012.

A lot has happened between 2012 and the present moment. My old band Emeralds disbanded in early 2013 and I moved to a new house in a more isolated, suburban part of Cleveland with Leigh last year. I performed in Japan and Europe and put out two different compilations, one of my own work called S/H on Editions Mego and another curatorial release with Air Texture. I used to tour very frequently with the band and so over the last couple of years I’ve had much more time to focus on this project and put everything I have into it. Where All Is Fled captures a kind of transitory time in my life when a lot of things were abruptly shifting and changing– I think some of this turbulence and calm is reflected in the music.

What have you found yourself listening to on repeat lately?

Vidna Obmana, The River of Appearance.

Further insights into the Steve Hauschildt sonic, ambient vision?

My intention with some of the songs was for the listener to enter a kind of Zen-like state as the music slowly unfurls, layer after layer. The ability for people to observe their own thoughts or mind is just as paramount to me as the music and things I imbued it with. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I want people to relax or chill out while they’re listening to it but it’s certainly one way for people to approach it. Some of the music is a kind of meditation.


The recent developments from GRMLN; photographed by Tammy Oksun.
The recent developments from GRMLN; photographed by Tammy Oksun.

The coverage of Yoodoo Park’s band GRMLN in the pages of Impose is the stuff of legend, and we continue to keep up with the west coast wandering wizard via the new single “Void”. The artist’s own reflections and progressions are documented throughout his Carpark releases from personal solo musings to full punchy-pop glory that deal with the responses and interactions with others and the world at large.

“Void” continues in this tradition, where the rhythm guitar roll to blazing chorus heard explicitly on the albums Empire and Soon Away. The chords move to the beat of the tom as Yoodoo cuts to the core of realism in the face of all stresses and appearances of anxiety expressed in the lyrics, “My mind is running out of time and space to fill the void I made….I can’t take it, fake it now…” Stay with us after the listen to “Void” as Yoodoo shares words on the new single, with the announcement of an upcoming third GRMLN album.

Yoodoo described for us the ineffable ether of the void that inspired “Void”:

I wrote ‘Void’ about nervousness and anxiety that people get from situations I feel can happen everyday. Especially when living in a city or moving somewhere new, the amount of stress that gets built up until you slowly stop caring.

The GRMLN frontman further lent some insights on what’s next:

I’m currently in the process of recording LP3 after working on a bunch of demos. This next album will be co-written with my brother so there will be tracks in which he has written and will sing as well.

Follow all of our GRMLN coverage here.


A roundtable session with Birmingham's bad ass dudes, \\GT//; photographed by Wes Frazer.
A roundtable session with Birmingham’s bad ass dudes, \\GT//; photographed by Wes Frazer.

Birmingham, Alabama’s \\GT// released the video for “Rails” off their forthcoming Beats Misplaced album available October 16 from Communicating Vessels. The trio of Scotty Lee, Byron Sonnier, and Mark Beasley formulated around a tentative cluster of titles like Green Teeth, Get Tryin’, Ghost Traveler, and other GT combinations finally to abbreviated to the back-slash/forward-slash bookends. \\GT// rocks and rolls with a sound and style that takes listeners, lookers, and lurkers into the parts and places lesser known around the southern Alabama landscapes (and soundscapes).

The video treatment for “Rails” focuses on skateboarders going HAM about B-ham, doing formation tracks around a police officer in a parking structure, tagging endeavors, cool vintage ride displays, all over the band’s blanket of pure avalanches of wave crashing guitar decay with purpose. As Birmingham has risen more and more in recent years to a DIY town of folks from all styles believing in their own visions and representations to provid an alternate view and listen into the parts formerly lesser talked about among the south’s eclectic and vast terrain. Join as after the viewing for an exclusive roundtable with Scott, Byron and Mark.

Birmingham, Alabama feels like where all the up and coming everything is happening. We want you three to tell us what’s good right now in Birmingham that you all dig.

Scotty: I feel like its always been “up and coming”. It’s just finally our time. We have always had a charm its just been ignored or maybe its just been shadowed with the ideas the outside world has about this city. I feel the best way to find out what is good right now is to just come and visit this place.

Mark: There are revived areas of the city both in terms of structures and businesses new restaurants and music venues. It’s growing culturally as well.

Byron: Having moved here in 2000, it’s amazing to see all that has happened since that time. There are touring bands playing here almost every single night. It’s hard to keep up with all of it. We have some great small record labels helping to push all of the local bands out into the world. There are people from all over the country moving here to be a part of what’s happening. It’s an exciting time to be here.

Give us the beat on the making of your new album Beats Misplaced….what sorts of crazy rhythms and misplacements (displacements?) informed this song cycle?

Scotty: I’m not really sure if there where any certain rhythm patterns or misplacements/displacements going on purposely…maybe subconsciously. I think these songs have always been there it was just a journey on finding these songs in my head and bringing them out. I just wanted simplicity with grooves so people didn’t have to think too much but it would also hopefully tweak their brains to take them on some kind of journey. The road of depression has a lot to do with these songs only for the fact that writing is the only way I know to get motivated and happy.

Mark: For Lake Arthur Sunrise, the opening beat was Scotty’s idea. The other parts were these crazy drum patterns I used to practice to. For several of the songs I actually tried to keep the drums pretty minimal.

Byron: I feel like recording has always been pretty easy for us because we keep things pretty loose. We don’t stress out on it too much because it’s just a moment in time and it’s supposed to be fun. That being said our songs aren’t structured in a traditional way and we take that weirdness seriously. It was great to work with a recording team and label that actually understood that.

Who else should we be listening to from Birmingham?

Scotty: Theonehundreds, Wray, Green Seed, Shaheed and Supreme, Duquette, Dead Balloons, Nowhere Squares, Omari Jazz, Freaky Deakys, Plains, Eleven Year Old, Dommel Mossel, etc etc etc…. so many good things coming from here. Seriously!

Mark: WRAY, Nowhere Squares, Vulture Whale, Dirty Lungs, Green Seed, Shaheed and DJ Sumpreme.

Byron: Current faves are WRAY and NULL.

How did you and local animator Walker Miller put your minds together to create the skateboarding odyssey visual for “Rails”?

Byron: “Rails” is based on Scotty’s understanding of my lifelong obsession with trains and participation in the moniker subculture. I was adamant about including footage of trains and the filmmakers followed me out to mark cars in the pouring rain. I was impressed that they used film for the entire video and they captured parts of Birmingham that most residents or visitors don’t see. I know Walker and Dillon (Director) picked out a few key shots that they felt could benefit from animation. They decided what in the frame would be highlighted with animation and Walker then drew the animation frame by frame.

Scotty: Yeah, the brains on this were Dillon Hayes, Dustin and Walker Miller. I’m just very glad they wanted to do this.

What’s next for GT?

Mark: Just keeping at it.

Byron: We’ve been trying to stay on the road as much as possible and we are constantly writing. We have good distribution and a growing following over in Europe so we are hoping to make it over there to play sometime soon.

Scotty: I want to record an album solo eventually. I love touring/collaborating with other people. I want to make more videos—creative direction. The possibilities are endless but this thing will die with me. Not sure how long I will be allowed to roam around this place but as long as I’m here you will be seeing plenty of \\GT//.

Catch \\GT// on the following tour dates:

02 Nashville, TN
03 Lexington, KY @ Best Friend Bar w/Wray
04 Carbondale, IL @ The Skihaus w/ Baak Gwai
20 Oxford, Ms @ Proud Larry’s w/ Lee Bains
21 Little Rock, AR @ The White Water Tavern w/ Lee Bains
26 Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea’s Cafe w/ Lee Bains
27 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia w/ Lee Bains

06 Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo
08 Birmingham, AL @ Yellowhammer Fair

Asante Phenix

Getting to know Brooklyn's Asante Phenix.

One of our favorite rising artist Asante Phenix is back dropping real big future bass and geometric shape morphing productions on “AVA”. With words of his Chamber EP available October 16. The Brooklyn artist entertains images of that life compared to the decadence of Napolen Bonaparte with big winding synths that make up the center core of the song surrounded by effects treatments and other sonic adornments. Also be sure to check out our big Asante Phenix world premiere feature here.

Asante Phenix shared with us the inspirations behind the seedy underbelly narrative and rich production on the decadent “AVA”:

“AVA” is that prototypical relentless and self-absorbed girl…She seems to only live in the moment, to continue to make bad decisions and be motivated exclusively the pursuit of adoration. Yet this is what makes her irresistible and attractive. This song is about the grey area between her flaws and her appeal.

Asante also lent us a few insights about making the Chamber EP:

The EP is about my inner monologue. Each track is, in some way, an illustration of observations I usually keep to myself.


(Pujol photographed by Edwina Hay at Death by Audio)
Featuring a barrage of tripped-out footage courtesy of Everything Is Terrible, watch PUJOL’s video for “Sleepy Doni” off the Kisses EP available November 27 on Record Store Day Black Friday.With karaoke ready onscreen lyrics; EIT’s Commodore Gilgamesh finds collected images of plant puppets, creepy dolls, animated items, and DIY visual effects. The single is available now via the band(where PUJOL where be donating $1 of every order to the Southern Bunny Sanctuary). Daniel Pujol himself chatted with us the other day, and you can find our interview featured after the following listen.

What’s good and happenin’ right now between Columbia and Nashville, Tennessee?

In Columbia, clean air, blue skies, and a neat record shop called Variety. Also, this restaurant called Stan’s. It has been around since the 40’s or 50’s. A Cracker Barrel popped up across the street from it, but I think more people like Stan’s.

In Nashville, this diner/bar called Charlie Bob’s started letting us do shows. My bassist/Mom & Dad member Zach Prosser and his buddy Carter Routh are throwing a daytime thing called Dickerson Skyline there on October 18. Lots of bands and some poetry readings! Pujol is playing. I might read too. Lots of good writers and bands. It is a fun place.

Okay, so give us the story on how “Sleepy Doni” was inspired, and how you got Everything is Terrible’s Commodore Gilgamesh to make a strange video with found footage.

Sleepy Doni is a character that is trying to develop a language of affirmation. He knows the world is ‘messed up,’ but wants to be able to communicate beyond that. He gets on Wikipedia, and trades his “contemporary cynicism” for “Ancient Greek cynicism.” Which are pretty different. He longs to do more than endlessly relay how awful the world is. What do you do after you’ve proven things are messed up? Is there a language he can use beyond this? He needs one to imagine a better world he can help create.

Nic and I had mutual friends. That’s how we met. There is a tenderness to his work I am very fond of. We just like each others groove. He’s a true pleasure to work with. He really cares about his work. I totally trust him when we work together. He massages the kernels of both trauma and hope.

Give us the story on the romances (or anti-romance) that created the groundwork and guidelines when making the Kisses EP.

I do not think there is a definitive answer or story. Just questions. The closest thing I can think of right now is when Donald Trump implied/implies he should be president because he is so rich he can’t be “bought.” I could be wrong on that, but I think I watched that. This seems more like a painful confession of our culture than a healthy alternative or a way to “move it forward.” Forward toward what? What kind of deliberative construct can be built within the current commonplace vibe and vernacular? The EP is a giant question. What is a language of affirmation? Are we limited in how communicate, even solve problems, when the concept of “The Truth” is boiled down to only exposing how broken something is. How can we think, talk, or act past the full gamut of cynicism, expecting disappointment, corruption, incompetence, and dysfunction. Go pet a dog, cry, and just think about it. It neuters the imagination to expect dysfunction and disappointment. We can come up with something better, but I don’t know what it is!

Top three things that you all are excited about right now; music, movies, books, anything?

1. I am really excited about Stephen Colbert hosting the Late Show. I like his selection of guests and how he communicates with them on television.

2. Music-wise, there’s too many things to name! The list would be too long for me to feel like it was fair.

3. I’ve been grabbing books from Verso Books when they go on sale. I have some friends that recommend stuff to me and I go check it out.

Master PUJOL plan for winter, & 2016?

Tour for a bit. Then I’m going to demo a new record in January. Back to the basement I go! Probably work on Merchcave and Bartertown stuff as well.

Follow all of our PUJOL coverage here.

Portland, Oregon’s Loch Lomond (the brainchild of Ritchie Young) brought the mighty big-bold-&-soul-bearing pop of “A String” that illustrates a stern and certain revolve painted between the “thinking of you refrains”. This is the northwest hymn that just might uplift your spirits that features Young bringing his multi-talented versatility in instrumentation to a scale that presents him and the band crushing with a force greater than the magneticism of the world’s great hacks and sharp zeroes.

Oberlin’s TWINKIDS released the single “Dreamer” on CSCN that moves in the mysterious ways of physical and emotional expression. A duo that pairs talents involving university level classical piano studies, and penning J-Pop tracks in Tokyo; the east meets west schools of polar musical presentations fuse together in manners that depict where symphonic song suites and contemporary compositions collect together in a collage of audio fabrics.

Athens duo The Noise Figures announced news of their new album Aphelion available September 28 via Inner Ear Records lending a listen to the galactic rocketing riff bouquet, “Shoot the Moon”. George Nikas and Stamos Bamparis recorded the new album at Artracks Studios with Alex Bolpasis on genuine reel-to-reel utilizing a form called Pythagorean tuning (tuned at A=432Hz) where vocals and guitars hover above earthy like missile equipped satellites looking for a clear shot at the sun’s reflective counterpart.

Featuring production from Taleil Brown & Eff.Dope, check out the video for Perrion featuring T-Shyne’s “Oh No No” off Perrion’s Rocket Science tape.Filmed by Don’t Set Trip Productions’ Kas Stone with editing by Mostafa Douban; “Oh No No” finds Perrion and Shyne kicking it apartment-wise, throwing bills up from the backseat, and dancing in the aisles at the convenience store with a home spun style that lends a sample of the lesser known NYC undergrounds.

The Autumn Stone is powered by the husband and wife team of James Cassidy and Syd Lane who frankly frightened us at first with their video for “Vampires” (off their Beautiful Freaks album) but feature a drone-y brilliant single behind the fright night visual antics. James and Syd create a harmonic sound that recalls those multi-colored moving oil cell projections (a staple of many a multimedia equipped art house) where the classic masters of psych and concept centered album rock varieties play out through the current era lens of rebuilding improved versions of yesterday’s master works.

Lilies On Mars release their new album Ago today via Lady Sometimes Records via Cargo Records that finds the duo venturing further down big synth pop paths. The “it’s alright” rain of synths feels like what could go on for a welcome eternity with dance pop hypnotica on “Stealing”, to the midnight oil burning beat of “Dancing Star” that drives off into the dream pop-penned netherworlds that connects the Italo and London, UK pop underworlds together in future pointed big production jams ( “Dancing Star” was co-produced by The Horrors’ Tom Furse). Follow all of our LOM coverage here.

From Tokyo with plenty of big synth pop affection; introduce yourself to Crystal who presents “Jungli-la” that sounds like the greatest anthem from the compact disc era ever. With keys and rhythm rolls that move the action and vibe attention to many rooms in the song, hear this and more off their forthcoming album will release their first full-length album Crystal Station 64 available October 30th from the beloved Japanese label flau. It’s as if a new vintage 3D dimension is created like an early next-gen console that offers polygon, textures, and audio feels like nothing else.

Joey Fourr just dropped “Playy” off the recent Milk Records / Atelier Ciseaux release To The Floorr. Joey brings that after hours super-sincere & smooth pop croon to enlighten those intimate moments deserving of the most sensational sound scape.

Joey said this about the visual for “Playy”:

Joey Fourr were booked to play a short 4 date tour in Portugal, on the morning of our flights I couldn’t find my passport, the others flew without me. The plan was I would find it and book a new flight for the next day of day after and meet them in Sobrainho da Ribeira. I turned my room inside trying to find the passport out but without any luck. I painted the walls pink to keep my mind off of things.

I wrote some songs and “PLAYY” came out of this weird situation of being in one place physically but mentally elsewhere.

After 3 or 4 days the passport was found tucked deep inside the bag we used to carry the guitar pedals. It was with them the entire time. I am happy with the pink walls.

From Omaha, Nebraska; meet High Up, founded by Orenda Fink and her sister Christine who are readying their debut single for October 9, and we have a listen to “Two Weeks” that presents a big band sound that seeks the things that exist beyond the nine to five soul-sucking grinds. Orenda and Christine enlisted Capgun Coup’s Greg Elsasser to assist on guitar and keyboards, along with fellow Coup member Eric Ohlsson on drums, and The Seen’s Josh Soto handling duties on bass to bring a full fledged experience that while works well in recorded playback form is ultimately designed for amphitheater stages to be heard in full.

The Virgance just released the Paradigm 3 via El Vals del Conejo that features sonic epiphony dream wave guitar of Nathan Smith. With vision quest strummed chord designs of astral-time forward concentrations (i.e. “Moonolog”, “Saturnine”, “25 Years”, etc) coast in directions of no return. Ummagma’s Shauna McLarnon makes a cameo on the stream drift aural palaces of oblivion that plumes into the holographic sound blossom of “Down The River”.

Moiré letis down with some sophisticated electronic tempos that turn out your d n’ b electric dreams with some sparse rhythm and blues keys on the new track “Let Down” from the forthcoming Gel EP available October 9 via R&S Records.

Jóhann Jóhannsson provides the soundtrack for the forthcoming Denis Villeneuve film SICARIO (that stars Benicio Del Toro, John Brolin and Emily Blunt) gave us an advance listen to the atmospheric mega-moods that are guaranteed to disrupt the tranquility of your peaceful moment of solitude in both subtle and suspenseful ways.

Austin legends of lore Some Say Leland and Dana Falconberry collaborated together the 7″ split After available as a coop between Annie Street Arts Collective and Punctum Records. “The Dream” sees Dan Grissom and Falcolnberry trading in duet tones that drift over mirage laden landscape with “how long do I need to wait” refrains that request like tumbleweed rolls into the lost winds of the rhetorical.

We bring you the title track featured off The Nectarine No. 9’s Saint Jack available November 27 from Heavenly Recordings. The frontman known formerly from The Fire Engines’ Davy Henderson dropped this album back during Postcard Records resurgence in 1995 bringing that “Sound of Young Scotland” Edinburgh angst revisited for contemporary purposes of relevance.

Off their forthcoming October 23 joint release of Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style via Twin Lakes Records and Dead Language; Paul Belbusti and Mercy Choir continue the cycles of releases like His Noiseless Ball, His Boxwood Rattle, Sweetly EP, PPIANO; GGUITAR, Waabaayo, They Want To Love You, and more sharing “Birdwatcher”. The act of watching larks fly by and the longings that plague the mind play out in Paul’s song that yearns for that one that took off in flight many moons ago.

Catch the following listen to Hand of God (aka Jeremy Krinsley of Alan Watts, Negative Supply, keyboardist for Shamir Bailey, etc, etc) performing live at S!CK Magic where the beats lift off space shuttles taking flight for the galactic dimensions of MPCs and sick sample cuts. His Intl Shipping EP is available now via Godmode.

Liz Berg from WFMU played theUse before Cibo Matto performed live on her show, and so TheUse presents an official remix of “Déjà Vu” that finds Michael Durek and company re-imagining the electronic atmospheres of possibilities within the work of Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori.

“Get Bummed Out” with SPORTS’ new sweet, sad, and sentimental single taken off their forthocming All of Something available October 30 from Father/Daughter Records.

Ohio’s Bobbi Kitten & Z Wolf are Damn The Witch Siren who dropped the video for “Faeire Garden” that delivers an enchantment electro ballad holiday from the foliage cover of the forest, a floral pool, and the security fort comforts and cover that the shelter of satin sheets always award. More neo-pagan paeans can be found on DTWS’s forthcoming Back To Dreaming album available soon.

Antonio Canestri, Andrew Howe, Daniele De Carli, Gianluca Lateana of LAGS dropped the fierce forged bonds of blood and more with “Fear, Control, Mothers” off the upcoming Pilot album available October 18 from To Lose La Track.

Lushes’ Service Industry will be available October 16 from felte, and we bring you the OMG Everywhere video collaboration with the duo’s James Ardery and Joel Myers for “Circus” where the event is overtaken by kids who create an odd carnival of curiosities.

Monika dropped “Babyboy” off her upcoming Secret In The Dark album available October 2 through Other Music Recording Co. The Greece by NYC artist showcases the synergy between her and producer Homer Steinweiss where romantic rhythm vignettes are further underscored by orchestral strings.

Groningen, Netherlands group LGHTNNG dropped their recent singles “Sharks” and “One Night Away” that provide neon vild ultra-pop for evening indulgences. “Shark” swings in washes of warm jacuzzi jet pop as “One Night” increases the pop hook representation.

Filmed outside of by Låpsley’s Southport, UK hometown by Cherise Payne; watch the visuals for “Hurt Me” as Holly ‘Låpsley’ Fletcher prepares to embark on international tour dates from September 26 through November 14. The artist’s synth-lined sentiments are taken to the woods and rolling hillsides of lush green natural hues that bring out the passion and presences that exist behind the penchants toward pain.

In case you haven’t yet, let Pleasure Beach engulf you in the pure-echo-enthralled arena pop ethereal everything on “Go” from their forthcoming Dreamer To The Dawn EP available October 23 from Faction Records.

Hear “Switchblade” the new track from O Emperor’s Lizard EP available November 6 from Trout. Irish five piece that brings together a camaraderie forged back in secondary school, “Switchblade” sees the group of buds boasting a big sharp sound that feels fresh, festival ready, boasting a good deal of enthusiasm.

Young Ejecta pays homage to Leanne Macomber friend Josiah who passed with “Your Planet” off the Driftless Recordings release of the same name. The Heidi Petty video features dances by Juri Onuki that embarks into to an electrified world of endless enchantment. Catch YE touring between now and October 30.

Witness the Emily Esperanza and Greg Stephen Reigh video for Crown Larks’ “Chapels” taken off their Blood Dancer album. Strange rituals, analog static obsessions, and eerie dances (courtesy of Sabrina Baranda & Holly Chernobyl Oakley) bend and beckon in time and turn to the band’s beloved dissonance du jour. Check out our feature with Crown Larks here.

Caustic Casanova’s album Breaks is available as of today from Retro Futurist Records, and we provide a listen to the controled electric chaos that runs from the clasps of “Thundersnow”, to the shred-fest mirage found on the closing cut, “The Painted Desert”.

Blake Cowan is Wickerbird who has been hyped as bearing representation of as “the sound of Cascadian Pacific Northwest” and today releases his album The Leaf Maker. The artist made his return to his bucolic evergreen roots after attending college in NYC, where those world pondering thoughts that play about the imagination and thought streams during long subway rides slowly rise like feelings finding new pastures and forests to play about in on “Riverborn”.

We bring you the third Yassou video with “To Sink” from Lilie Hoy and Peter McCollough that finds our heroine bringing earnest thoughts from the places that traverse between watching the ebb and tide arrive and depart from the feet of the shores to the neon lit blinds and bars of the inland avenues.

Queens’ Matt Longo is Thin Lear who brings exuberant theatrics with the single “Second Nature” that pontificates about the particularities of things that become as natural as anything else.

Prom Body dropped their garage skateboard-busting pop that pays homage to the recently passed wrestler and uncomfortable edges of nervous anxiety on “Ultimate Worrior”, taken off the Tucson band’s split EP with Hikikomori available October 20 from Spork Press.

Hammered Satin presents their Trip Loon video for “Foxy Dude” that finds the band entertaining their inner Brian Slade & The Venus in Furs in a series of early 70s styled poses, pizazz, and the whole glam shebang that continues along a retro-contemporary representation not unlike a Velvet Underground sort of mashup.

Louisville’s Shadwick Wilde formerly from Iron Cross is Quiet Hollers with an upcoming self-titled available October 23, sharing the dusty Americana balladry of “Mont Blanc” that hops-along the coast-to-coast trails and instertates of inner reflections. With guitars glimmering throughout, violins accompany the calm sung shouts of Wildee’s emotive and personal heart penned musings.

NØMADS are back in action as they ready their forthcoming PHOBIAC EP for 2016 with a sneak listen to the single “Traumatophobia”. Nathan Lithgow (of My Brightest Diamond fame) along with Inlets’ Garth Macaleavey fuse together the prestige of prog perspectives that they feed into a vortex of algorithmic chords that chop into the noise encrusted eye of the storm.

From Froth’s album Bleak from Burger Records, watch the video for “Nothing Baby” by Riley Blakeway that further celebrates those sweet nothing intimate moments of solace that take you on a tour of locales and roads that span across the greater Los Angeles area.

Take a gander at Samson The Truest’s new video for “Sidewinder” directed by Jade Fusco off the October 2 slated album Come Back Shane. Motifs of good and evil square off in a game of masks, makeup, costumes, and an overall weird Mardi Gras of the absurd square down in a match-up between angels and demons plays about.

Marian Hill remixed Kehlani x Charlie Puth’s “Hotline Bling” featuring bars from hometown Philly friend Armani White. The rules of phone to phone attraction and the great chase of amour plays out in mystic chopped digital stem chops as Armani pushes the Romeo romantic narrative chapters to the next pages.

Originally found on Amateur’s Best’s forthcoming album The Gleaners available October 2 from Brille Records, and we give you the Richard Norris remix of “They Know”. Listen as the Birmingham producer Joe Flory gets his cut of cognizant knowledge re-worked for any jumping club, dive, bedroom brouhaha, or living room luau.

Drekka’s new album Unbeknownst to the Participants at Hand is available now on Dais Records and we give you an introductory listen to the ambient and dramatic tenebrous earths that are about to be trudged up before your very senses.

Mark McGowan from Glasgow brings earthy folk tales that bridge the trad styles found in everywhere from the States to UK regional songs and tales. Here the classic robber duo “Bonnie & Clyde” get another tribute in a legacy that counts 60s Gainsbourg x Bardot where the old story is sung with a delta blues tip of the hat in delivery. Listen to more from Mark McGowan via In Black Records.

Hear the title track from Skid Row, the slow burning electric burning embers featured on James Ferraro new album available November 13 from Break World Records. Ferraro introduces his new album with the following statement:

The desert landscape, like tupperware housing digital smog.
K9’s and glistening acid rain, wash away the sentient blood that stains the palm tree city. An Escalade® burns on the freeway. The drone of helicopters hum above head, in a desert backdrop commuters in traffic requite a speed of 20 mph pass the gleaming semiotic debris. The sushi elite & the poor all anonymous in an unforgiving freeway fatality,
an undiscerning system.

Man on the highway, through a walkie talkie speaker, barefoot on the slick asphalt.
As the sunsets, the sky burns a fusion of metal and silhouetted palms.
and a hyper real civilization is rendered by it’s idealism, at war with the gravity of reality…rendered by it’s traffic culture, it’s culture of police brutality and gang violence, media saturation and racism, it’s glamorization and solipsism, rendered by the tabloid of it self.

Skid Row started as a collection of poems, it came first as words, then grew into becoming the lyrics of Skid Row.. I was writing about the state of the world around me, living on what feels like the brink of societal collapse while also seeing high excess everywhere…all the sounds of the streets crept in, the blood and tears on the street, the echoing sirens in the early morning fog, soaked into the poetry and it became evident that LA is a hyper America. A place where violence (media and real life), excess and poverty, police exceptionalism & brutality, racism interact daily…racism is a war on reason, so in my state of animosity I wrote Skid Row, I’m a disciple of the streets my spoken word and music on Skid Row mirror these conflicts that spill out over the western landscape like a painting of America frozen in a state of hyper real war.

Illa J’s Week in Pop

Illa J, photo by Manikmati Photography.
Illa J, photo by Manikmati Photography.

Illa J, sibling of the late great J Dilla releases his self-titled album October 2 Bastard Jazz, and we present you the artist’s Week in Pop guest selections that switch things to the FM frequency for a bit:









Marina and the Diamonds, “Froot”

Love this joint, it’s authentic 80s pop. Like she’s actually from the 80s pop scene, not trying to be, it’s just natural, love her style.

Paramore, “Now”

This song is just so hype, the hook is awesome and so anthemic: “If there’s a future we want it now!” I like the cadence of her verse, Hayley is definitely one of my favorite singers.

Illa J; photographed by Manikmati Photography.
Illa J; photographed by Manikmati Photography.

Phantogram, “Fall in Love”

This is the song that got me hooked to their music. I really like how her vocals float over the beat. Her voice is hypnotic, it pulls you into the song.

Ed Sheeran, “Sing”

Reminds me of something from JT’s Justified. All I gotta say is “that hook”…wow. Ed Sheeran is definitely a super talent, he’ll be around for years to come.

Follow Illa J via Twitter.