All posts by timothy.anderl

Santa Fe, New Mexico art collective, Meow Wolf, made national headlines with its interactive, multimedia art exhibition that opened last year. Albuquerque hip hop staple Wake Self has enlisted the help of the talented team for his new video, “No Price Tags,” featuring vocalist Alia Lucero.

Produced by SmokeM2D6 of oldominon and Grayskul fame, the track is brought to life by director Phillip Torres of Concept Flux Media, and the help of B-boys and B-girls Pyro (Tribal), Leah Scotia (Zia Queenz), Marena and Marvel (XFRX). Filmed at Meow Wolf and animated by Goldie Rankin, the visual itself is nothing short of electric, and finds Wake and crew covered in neon body paint courtesy of graffiti artist Kause.

The new video follows his his collaborative track with Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab. The track is taken from Wake’s latest solo album, Malala.

Find the LP here and watch the video below.

Last week Funeral Door unveiled a new track, “Saint,” which is a collaboration between Tobias Sinclair from Soft Kill and Blessure Grave and Adam Klopp of Choir Boy and Human Leather. Rumors have it that the two have a full LP of material that will see release sometime in the future. In the meantime, get down with this:

doubleVee launched in 2012 when it became clear how Allan Vest and Barb [Hendrickson] Vest’s musical backgrounds complemented each other and how well the two worked together in the studio. The pair married in October of 2015. Allan was the primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist for indie/orchestral pop band Starlight Mints, having produced and released four albums between 2000 and 2009, with legendary producer Dave Sardy co-producing the critically acclaimed debut album, The Dream that Stuff was Made Of. The Mints toured and played multiple shows with bands and artists including The White Stripes, Violent Femmes, Grandaddy, Chainsaw Kittens, Polyphonic Spree, Liz Phair, Flaming Lips and Blake Babies.

Barb’s diverse background includes sixteen years in public radio where her achievements included writing, hosting, and producing Filmscapes, a nationally syndicated film music program. Filmscapes gave her the opportunity to interview some of her favorite renowned artists including Danny Elfman and Philip Glass. She edited a music webzine for several years and marketed and produced eight Rock ‘n Roll Garage Sale and Shows featuring local Oklahoma bands and merchants.

While Barb’s vocal music history includes appearing in shows produced by the Mix Tape Club and providing backing vocals on recordings for bands including El Paso Hot Button and Stellar Chromatic, her love of music began with her family, with her grandmother regularly putting a tape recorder on her piano bench and singing along to her original compositions, before she passed away in 1986 after a sudden heart attack at the age of 57.

doubleVee’s debut album The Moonlit Fables of Jack the Rider was released in earlier this year.

When did you first begin writing the material for The Moonlit Fables of Jack Rider?

Allan Vest: A lot of the initial music and melody ideas had been around for a few years scattered on various hard drives. We picked out a few we wanted to flesh out into full songs and finished the early mixes for our first three pieces in 2013, then took our time creating the rest of the material. Jack the Rider was the first song we wrote together and I have fond memories of us bouncing ideas back and forth. We had finished the basic construction of our home studio the year before and after working on a few scoring gigs, the timing was perfect.

Is this a concept record? Who is Jack The Rider? 

Barb Vest: We didn’t start out with the intention of making a concept album, but after we finished the first three songs and the others started coming together, we saw some common threads and how they could fit together and started to piece together a storyline from there. Jack is a traveler taking a journey through a disjointed and surreal world, who begins the story being distracted by an alluring siren along a dark forest road.

I’m guessing the band name is culled from Vest and Vest, doubleVee. What was the inspiration behind capitalizing the V?

AV: You’re right! We initially came up with it when we were thinking about names for our production company. I’ve always wondered why the letter “W” was pronounced “double-you” and not “double-vee.” Capitalizing the “V” was a stylistic choice in the beginning, but it’s ended up helping set us apart from other musical groups with similar names to ours.

For those that are unaware, you two are married. What are the best and worst things about being in a band with your spouse?

AV: It’s been a natural fit to work with Barb…she has tremendous chops in writing lyrics, melodies and harmonies. Like any couple or any pair of bandmates we have our differences of opinion, but we work together quite well and I’m super excited to see what we come up with in the future.

BV: The best thing is how we’re constantly playing off of each other and coming up with new ideas, often improvising songs in random places. I love how our life together has filtered into our music. The worst may have been when he surreptitiously recorded me having an extended hiccup attack in the studio, but the end result was pretty funny!

What new artists are you listening to these days?

AV: I’m always like four years behind or just out of touch with modern music. I’ve been following Micachu’s [Mica Levi’s] projects since 2010. She’s starting to get more exposure after composing the score for Jackie last year. Also, I like where the Lemon Twigs are heading. The song and video for “As Long as We’re Together” is a good starting point. I hope they stay weird.

BV: I have to admit I’m pretty out of the loop, too. We’ve been so focused on developing doubleVee over the past few years, I’ve been more likely to listen to old favorites than seek out something new. I’m always happy to listen to anything by bands like The Legendary Pink Dots, Stereolab or Violent Femmes.

What’s next for doubleVee? Perhaps a tour?

BV: We would love to launch a theatrical tour someday and have daydreamed quite a bit about how we would present it, but for now we’re focusing on producing videos for our album and plan to start working on new material soon.

(Visit doubleVee here:

After touring the world with bands, rock operas, and circuses, electro indie pop artist Hopper Race (Aaron Berk) decided to cut the safety net and make his own music. In 2016, Berk began writing under the moniker Hopper Race. Not satisfied with writing alone, he produced, recorded, mixed, photographed, and filmed nearly every element around his debut EP, Pop Priest.

Hopper Race’s influences include his first love Rachmaninoff, Ké, Tune Yards, Purity Ring, Chris Cornell, Grimes, Sia, St. Vincent, and Freddy Mercury all of which can be heard in “Caravan,” which Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering today. Enjoy:

(Visit Hooper Race here: Website Facebook Soundcloud Instagram)

Words by Andrew Humphrey. Photo by Jesse DiFlorio

Some artists crumble under pressure while others thrive. Streetlight Manifesto clearly falls in the latter of the two categories as was demonstrated by a last-minute acoustic performance at the Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia, July 14, 2017.

Due to a family emergency involving Chris Thatcher, the band’s drummer, combined with weather-related flight delays, it became impossible for the band to perform their usual full-rock band set on time. They were given the option to either cancel the show or to push it back late. The decision was made, under what I assume to be extreme distress, to not only wait it out and play the show for the enthusiastic and fully packed crowd, but also to make up for the delays by playing a sans-drummer acoustic set beforehand. The band released a Facebook statement just minutes before doors were scheduled to open outlining the plan, which you can read here.

If you’re scratching your head, wondering how one could possibly convert an eight-piece punk and ska band into an acoustic show, you’re not alone. I have a feeling the band did too during the roughly five-hour scramble period they had to put it all together for the first time ever.

And simply put, it ruled.

First and foremost, the interplay between guitarist and lead singer Tomas Kalnoky and bassist Pete McCullough became much more of a focal point. There’s such a tremendous amount of rhythm between these two guys alone that, even in the absence of a drummer, you could still feel a force and drive comparable to anything in Streetlight’s recorded catalogue. In this way, the structure of the band’s songs often seemed more rooted in bluegrass or folk than it did in punk, reggae, or other genres most often associated with ska. Thatcher obviously crushes behind the kit, but Streetlight demonstrated how rhythm can and should be felt by more than just a drum kit to move an audience.

The horn section also rose to the challenge. Sure, they had to adjust their playing a bit due to the acoustic format, taking a pianissimo approach to their usually face-blasting leads, but it came out beautifully. There’s really nothing more genuinely “ska” than hearing hundreds of fans non-lyrically singing and shouting along with their favorite instrumental brass leads. It was nerdy, humbling, and gnarly all at the same time.

There were so many touching moments throughout the acoustic set that I had to double check my watch to believe that 45 minutes had truly gone by. Notable moments included performances of select Catch-22 classics that old-school fans were thrilled to hear again such the infamous title track “Keasbey Nights” and “Sick and Sad.”

For me personally, the most endearing song of the night was their acoustic rendering of “Toe to Toe” from their The Hands That Thieve album. Mike Brown’s mid-song baritone sax solo was one of the most tear-jerking moments of the night. The interaction with the audience also provided a demonstrable testament to Kalnoky’s lyrical and melodic gifts; fans not only sang each and every word with perfection, but could also be heard choosing different vocal harmonies prominent through the song. Maybe it was the song’s lyrical references to David and Goliath, but it was as if everyone in the building had transformed into the raddest church choir I had ever heard.

In the end, Thatcher arrived safely. He gracefully entered the stage around 1:15AM to a thunderous roar of applause, and the band quickly started their regular set thereafter. The crowd had not lost steam despite the late hour. The rest of the evening just felt like a giant party as the band played through all of the tunes from their now 10-year old Somewhere in Between album.

Other acknowledgements are also owed for the unforgettable night. Cheers to the Masquerade staff that unexpectedly had to work well past 3 am to accommodate the band and die-hard audience. I could also write an entire article about how emotionally moving the opening acoustic set by Kevin Seconds, co-founder of the influential hardcore band 7 Seconds, had been. Be sure to catch his solo set if you are ever given the opportunity and pick up one of his D.I.Y. released albums. Shout out as well to local openers CrabHammer, the most metalcore ska band you’re likely ever going to hear.

Streetlight Manifesto continues their tour with select dates throughout the summer. Check their website for upcoming dates that may be near you.

Photo by Jed Anderson

In the conventional sense, a happy camper is a comfortable, contented person. Happy Camping is Kazyak having reached this state in active form. With Happy Camper, Kazyak songwriter/guitarist Peter Frey and the band have reached a steady state with sound, lineup, age/maturity, and life. As we were taken thick into the woods with the See the Forest release, Happy Camping seems the beginning of a great expedition. The music and inspiration are still deeply grounded in a natural setting, though this time, the forest burned down and this is the first wave of growth—the season is undoubtedly spring, the flowers are growing back, and there is no darkness or hint of death.

Kazyak’s sound evokes a type of experimental Americana. The album is dubbed by Frey as the band’s ‘country record,” using simple guitar/bass/drums orchestration to imitate Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ ‘slow heartbeat’ approach to feel. The lineup is Frey on nylon/acoustic/electric guitars, long-time friend and bassist Lana Bolin, and drummer/engineer Brett Bullion – who together display a tightness that entwine hooks, lines, and visceral textures. The live lineup of the band adds Andy Wolfe (guitars), Pat Hayes (synth) and Nick Grewe (drums and electronics).

Frey wrote the songs in the months that led up to his wedding. As part of a pre-wedding get-away, he and his wife-to-be visited Alaska, where they helicoptered from the foot of a melting basin to set up camp atop the glacier. The trip marked an inventive approach to making peace with the past, entirely unhooking it from the future ahead. In search of balance and a steady-state, Frey and the band seem to have found it.

Today the band premieres the video for “Basin,” in advance of their big record release show on Thursday, the July 20, in Minneapolis at Bryant Lake Bowl.

This is what Frey had to say about Happy Camping.

When did you first begin writing the material for Happy Camping?

The bulk of the material was written a few months before we recorded it. Most of the concepts originated on a fall trip to Alaska, then I spent the winter unpacking the ideas and making scratch tracks. At the time I was living in a small little house in NE Minneapolis that had been built in the ’50s and didn’t have a large rehearsal space, so I’d setup in a small room that hung off the back of the house and had classic wood paneling and a fireplace. I’d lined it with quilts to dampen the sound — and I’d light a fire and crank out tracks. The room was really vibey — and out came Happy Camping.

The only song that existed prior to that was “Darker,” which I’d written several years earlier while living in Austin, Texas. A good friend had turned me on to Bob Dylan, and I spent a couple years in a completely obsessive state over some old bootleg recordings and what he was able to do with words and delivery. Songs like “Visions of Johanna,” “Boots of Spanish Leather,” “To Ramona,” “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind,” “Motorpsycho Nightmare,” the list goes on, it was a whole new depth for me. I’d hadn’t really strummed a guitar before that, let alone written a folk song — my efforts had gone towards being a lead guitarist and engineering/electronics, then all of a sudden I became addicted to songwriting. Every now and again I’ll revisit old stuff at just the right time and steal as much as I think is worth keeping from my earlier self.

Did you plan to write while you were in Alaska? Or did the moment hit you organically?

Happy Camping became a concept album around our trip to Alaska – but it would have been impossible to have planned for that. So, no, I didn’t plan to write but generally I try to take advantage of bursts of natural inspiration. Also, I think writing, traveling, music and nature fit really well together — so while we were in Alaska it was more the feeling like if you don’t try to write what you’re feeling and seeing, then you’ll regret it. It’s not that every word or melody was written on the trip, rather the trip marked a shift towards seeking balance and a more steady state in life, which I think is reflected in the music and is what Happy Camping is all about.

Another important part of the inspiration and concept was the video footage I was capturing, and Alaska pushed the limit of what I’d been exposed to. I’d always had the idea of putting the video to music but always imagined doing it in a way that was as equally experimental as the music. I’d also been trying to amp up the psychedelic influence but I really wanted it to feel natural and fit with the songs, so after the trip I just let the footage simmer. This past winter I started working with a real-time visual performance tool, merged the travel footage with footage from our recording sessions, and out came the music videos. We’ve also started to project visuals at our live performances, and control everything live from the stage.

How do you feel that your music has matured over the years? What has this place of peace done for your songwriting?

Well hopefully over time you get better at doing what you’re trying to do. And continuous experimentation, which we try to fully embrace, will always yield unintended consequences — you just hope they’re positive ones. We’ve dubbed the Happy Camping genre experimental Americana. Musically it’s extremely simple. Texturally it’s deceptively complex and alternative. Lyrically it’s meant to be abstract, consisting of strings of imagery that can yield different meanings for different listeners. That’s not to say it’s not definitive, but more to say that we like to leave some room for interpretation. Just like how two people can look at the same painting and see two completely different things.

As for recording, that’s where the music really comes alive. I like to make it to the studio with things about 80 percent done and stay really open-minded about the 80 percent that I’ve already labeled as done. This is the second record I’ve done with Brett Bullion, a engineer/drummer that I grew up with and always looked up to. He spent time working in Seattle, has helped with session at April Base and other hotspots, and has become a successful engineer / producer in the Midwest. His drumming and ears add so much to the sound and it’s a pleasure to collaborate with him. Though the instrumentation is simple, we’re continually finding new ways to use the studio as an instrument — micing drums in different ways, reamping vocals, and building wall-of-sound, orchestral textures.

I guess the most obvious change is that I spent ages 10 – 20 trying to be a guitarist — then started going deeper and developed into a songwriter. I guess I’ve just gotten more and more interested in trying to explain what I’m seeing and feeling — and Kazyak is my best attempt at that.

(Visit Kazyak here:

Suntrodden is the songwriting vehicle for Erik Stephansson, who music media has called “a pop songwriter with the gift” and described his music as having a “breezy, minimal feeling that leaves an indelible mark via lo-fi and warm alt-rock jangling.” Suntrodden adopts a stripped down production approach and streamlined song structures that place Erik’s thoughtful lyrics at the forefront. Built on a foundation of restrained percussion and unhurried acoustic guitar or piano, the songs are draped in chiming lead guitar lines, warm organs, and tasteful analog synths. On III, he delves into the struggle to maintain blood-and-bone relationships and self-identity in a soundbyte-driven online culture. Suntrodden released its first EP in February of 2016 with a follow-up in October of the same year. III hit the streets in late June.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Stephansson to discuss the series and his plans for the project. This is what he told us.

Photo by Jonathan Crew

When did you first begin writing the material for this series?

I started writing during the press cycle for Suntrodden II.  I had general themes sketched out, but nothing fully formed lyrically or structurally.  Truthfully, the lyrics weren’t finalized until the eleventh hour when my self-imposed deadline was looming.  Sometimes, that’s when the best material comes out – it’s almost a fight or flight mentality at that point.

Were all of the songs written at the same time? Or was it more like the first EP was out before you’d written anything for III?

The EPs were written and recorded one at a time.  One of my friends had participated in a one-month album competition where everything had to be written and recorded during that time period.  While I didn’t limit myself to a month, I used his experience as inspiration of sorts in terms of setting ‘rules’ for how I approached the project.  I would say there are some commonalities across the records, because of the shortened timeline…but, in a sense, each one stands on its own.

What was the thinking of sharing three EPs instead of one LP? Was it way to stay in the public eye for a longer period of time?

There were really three reasons.  First, as you noted, it let me introduce myself a few songs at a time over an extended period.  People have short attention spans these days, and I did have concerns that a no-name artist like Suntrodden would get lost in the shuffle if it was a one-off release.  Second, it helped me get over my musical ADD.  I started a few records in the past that got derailed by boredom or new projects.  I thought a series of five-song EPs would be more likely for me to actually finish.  Finally, I’d never released music commercially before, so it was a bit for my own education as well.  I wanted to learn the process and get a sense for best practices.

Is there a different theme to each EP?

I think the first record has a certain brightness to it, while the second has a little bit more of an edge.  Suntrodden III is sort of coming to terms with the good and the bad.  In a sense, that’s really what Suntrodden was all about in the first place…an optimistic spin on my misguided steps through life.  I just try to get better as I go…I guess you could call it opt-pop.

What’s next for Suntrodden?

I had only planned to do the three EP suite when I started, so I’m on the fence with next steps beyond there definitely being new music in the future.  Part of me wants to take a drastic departure from the stripped down stylings of these EPs and make it bigger and louder.  That said, I have four, five or six songs kicking around right now that really fit more under the current Suntrodden aesthetic.  So, I think it’s really finding how the Suntrodden sound can expand without losing its core.  In any case, I’m looking forward to wherever it takes me.

(Visit Suntrodden here:

Last week Michigan-based spazz rock quartet Thunderbirds Are Now! surprised fans with two new songs; their first new music since 2007. “Outsiders” and “Operate” are available via the band’s Bandcamp page ( All the money received from downloads on their Bandcamp page will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. Pretty rad, right? 

Today, the band debuted a video for one of the tracks, “Outsiders,” which was directed by TAN!’s own Scott Allen. Enjoy it below:

Products of the Golden Age, aka. BlesInfinite, Nick FuriouStylz, Akword Actwrite, Epic Beats and DJ Intro, are back with a fresh visual for “The Wheels On The Bus,” which finds the New Mexico-based Hip Hop collective perusing the breathtaking landscape of the Sandia Mountains and other small towns throughout the Southwestern state.

Directed by Cole Brewer and produced by Lauren Hutchinson, the video serves as the third offering from the group’s debut album, The Pantheon, and features a colorful cast of characters just happy to be along for the ride. DJ Flo Fader, author, teacher and acclaimed tour DJ for legends of the game like J-Live and Masta Ace, has watched them blossom over the years.

Some say that if you wait long enough that trends have a cyclical nature or that what once was old becomes in vogue again. Some will say the same about post-punk and the icons that broke down the doors of pop culture to shine a light on their moody sounds in the ‘80s. But the truth is, they probably just haven’t been paying close attention and certainly can’t have used Modern English, a band whose earliest albums sound as fresh in 2017 as they did decades ago in that case study.

This year Modern English released their first album together in thirty years, Take Me To The Trees, which was funded by PledgeMusic and released via Kartel Music Group. The album not only reconnects the band to their roots, in the fervent and fecund world of late 1970s/early 1980s post-punk Britain, but they have co-produced it with Martyn Young of Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S fame, whose last production job was 1986. In addition, the album’s beautiful cover is by venerated art director Vaughan Oliver, whose very first sleeve design was Modern English’s “Gathering Dust” single in 1980. It also reinvigorates and renews the bands reputation as wizards at conjuring awe-inspiring romantic new wave sounds, post-punk heaviness with pop polish into spell-binding albums.

The band are returning to the U.S. in mid-July to embark on the “Retro Futura” tour. Vocalist Robbie Grey; bassist Mick Conroy; guitarist Gary McDowell; and keyboardist Steven Walker, join the ‘80s package tour featuring Howard Jones, The English Beat, Men Without Hats, Katrina (Ex Katrina and the Waves) and Paul Young (on some shows), begins on July 18 in Los Angeles at the Greek Theater and concludes on August 19 in St. Charles, Missouri at the Family Arena (dates below).

Ghettoblaster recently had the opportunity to speak with Grey about the bands original intentions, place in the pop culture lexicon, and future plans. This is what he told us.

If you think back to the original intentions or goals you had when forming the band do you believe that you’ve stayed the course? Why or why not?

The original intentions of the band was just to release a record.  We were heavily influenced by punk rock and then post punk.  “Melt With You” blew us off course in a big way and we entered the commercial side of music.  We got lost for a while due to pressures of record companies and the business, which of course it is.  Now though we are our own masters and doing what we want, which is a very good feeling.

Did you  expect that the band would carve a significant place in the pop culture lexicon?

No, not really.  I think we have staying power when things are tough.  The fact that post punk has reared its interesting head again has helped us become some kind of legends.  Having the dark side of our music and the light of “Melt With You” is both an inspiration and a nuisance.  That’s our lexicon.

Are you glad your music was included in such an iconic film or has it been an albatross in any way?

“Melt With You” being in that movie was a turning point for us.  We don’t have a problem with that.  It was Nicolas Cage’s breaking movie.

What are the predominant and lasting lessons you’ve gleaned over the course of this career?

Don’t be afraid to make the music you want and don’t give up.  If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.

You released an album earlier this year in the fantastic Take Me To The Trees. Where do you feel this album fits in to the larger canon of the band’s discography?

Take Me To The Trees is a great album which I think stands as the sister album to both Mesh and Lace and After the Snow, like a bridge between them.  Special nod to Martyn Young who produced it and knew the importance of each member’s sound.

Are there moments in Take Me To The Trees where you tried something you never had before?

Yes.  We worked with a composer Alex Cook who wove amazing orchestrations into our music.

I think Modern English’s early influences may have been more transparent than they are now. Are there bands that have shaped your more recent writing or the way you think about recording or sounds?

I don’t think so.  We have always liked the same music, mainly from before the 1980s.  I am not an avid music listener.  Mick and Steve are people to ask about bands now.  I am listening to Bach at the moment.  It’s always exciting to use interesting sounds.  We will try anything.  The never ending well of modern sounds and technology is great.  You can have hours of fun at home.  Modern English has always incorporated atmosphere in its music. It’s very important.

What are your proudest moments with Modern English?

Mesh and Lace revisited recently on a big successful tour was great!  Having people acknowledge our early work as important is really fantastic.  Take Me To The Trees as a body of work we are very proud of.

You actually worked with my friends from Forbidden Colors booking on a tour…

They had passion.  I knew when I spoke to them they could make it happen.  They had their ears to the ground.  Just saw Tobias [Sinclair] in London with his band Soft Kill.  It’s good to work with people like that.

What was it about the Retro Futura package that made it a desirable tour to participate in?

The Retro Futura tour gets us in front of thousands of people.  We can publicize “Take me to the Trees” to a mainstream audience who may not know it.  Plus the money’s good.    

Are there goals or achievements you are hoping to conquer in the future?  

Would love to do another Modern English album and have my heart set on doing some film music.  Anyone out there interested?

Is retirement in sight or is that off of the table for now?

Retirement?  Scary thought.  I think my brain would explode!

(Visit Modern English here:

Catch Modern English on the “Retro Futura” tour in the following cities: