All posts by Tommy Johnson

Looking all around him, Sam Boatright began noticing that a chance of scenery was needed for him.  Leaving his post in the garage-psych band Psychic Heat to explore other opportunities, the twenty-one Lawrence, Kansas musician went back to music that he archived years ago.

Channeling the moniker that he kept dormant till just recently Hush Machine, Boatright’s self-titled debut album comprises youthful reflections and philosophies.  These traits can be easily traced as the songs were mainly written during the musician’s high school days.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Boatright and discussed why Hush Machine was given new life, if there was any regrets leaving his previous project, and what’s next.

You just began sharing music under the moniker Hush Machine.  Although you have been under the moniker for several years now, what finally convinced you to start releasing music?

I sent out these tunes to hundreds of people over the past few years. This past year, Chris Mac at Jigsaw responded and wanted to release them under his awesome indie label. I think his courage and enthusiasm in the songs gave me a kick in the butt that I needed and validated to me that these songs may actually be good.

Before Hush Machine, you were involved in another band Psychic Heat.  How difficult was it to leave that project to explore other things?

It was hard to leave Psychic Heat, especially because those dudes are so amazing. But sometimes life happens and it just makes sense to do your own creative things. We’re all still good friends, and it’s fun to keep up with what different projects we’re putting out.

On your self-titled album, a majority of the songs were written and recorded back in 2013.  What was the reasoning of going with these batch of songs instead of recording fresh material?

I wanted to put out these songs because I felt like they deserved a proper release. It was almost as if I couldn’t fully put myself into a new thing with these songs sitting and collecting dust. I’ve recorded a handful of odd songs from Beat Happening-esque rambles and Drums-wannabe tracks, haha, but the batch of songs on this debut release recalls a very certain time for me in my life. I see it as a photograph capturing my immaturity and angst and naivety and that I could only write those songs lyrically and musically at that point.

Lyrically, the album contain a mix of youthful angst and peaceful harmony.  What was your vision during the writing process?

These were all songs written over my junior high and high school years; it’s weird singing them now, but it definitely shows me, at least, that I have changed and transformed, which is good. I didn’t have any specific vision while writing the songs, but to just not second guess myself that much. Just create and if it’s decent keep working with it until I found it to be good.

When listening to the album, I can still hear some influence of Psychic Heat.  Did you purposefully seek out to set up Hush Machine to sound differently?

Psychic Heat is a band very aware and conscious of melody and pop sensibility. I think Hush Machine is similar in that way, but otherwise, I think of Hush Machine as much more skeletal and jangly, whereas Psychic Heat could be this loud, fuzzy beast.

What was the process like recording your self-titled debut album?

I booked two days at Weights and Measures studios in Kansas City with the ever wonderful Duane Trower. He helped me hone in on the sharpness of the songs and their rigidity and he was able to let me work at the quick pace that I like. I think we both work well that way.

Did you record all of the instrumentals yourself for the album?

Yeah, I recorded all the parts, just like Andre 3000 😉

I didn’t see any upcoming shows or tours lined up.  Does Hush Machine have anything coming up in the near future?

We’re in the process of booking a tour for late June/early July and we’ve been playing a few shows a month around Lawrence. We got 2nd in KU’s Battle of the Bands (Farmer’s Ball) which was great! It was like our second show as a band; the validation from the crowd that I wasn’t an idiot for playing these songs live was very warming.

Hush Machine’s self-titled debut is out now via Jigsaw Records

(Visit Hush Machine:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/hushmachine/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/hushmachine)

Daniel Vega didn’t go far when finding inspiration when work began for They’re Not Gone-his family.  Along with hearing several stories from his relatives’ lineage, Vega intertwined them with bizarre events that occurred in the 1940’s and 50’s.   In the end, Vega pieced together lyrics that focus on death: the involvement, the aftermath, and how to continue on while being alive.  Country twang, Latin percussion, and elements of California-drenched surf rock all accompany the goals that Vega set out with They’re Not Gone.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Vega to talk about a bevy of topics: what was the reasoning to explore his family’s background, the process of recording They’re Not Gone, and why he calls the new album a “very Texas sounding record”.

During the writing process for They’re Not Gone, you were inspired by stories involving your family and strange events from the 40s and 50s.  How did those two intersect with each other?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to continue writing songs in the style of “Salton Sea”, a track from our previous record. I knew I wanted the songs to be dark, moody, and minor; they were following a pattern I was trying to expand. Around that time, I was asking my Dad more questions about growing up, and I think if you dig enough into your history you come across stories that have a haunted quality to them. If you go back far enough, you’re talking about the lives of relatives that are no longer with us, and those stories share many similarities to ghost stories.

What did you discover about yourself involving your family that you didn’t know when you were writing the album?

I had never asked about my uncle John, and how his passing shaped by Dad’s story, pushing my family to move back to Mexico during the 1970’s. My uncle’s death lead in many ways to events that would shape my father, and that impressed on me the idea that death leads us forward. That story lead to other stories that were on their own very interesting, and helped me connect dots.

You said that you wanted to make a “very Texas sounding” record.  What was the inspiration for going in that direction?

I’m a native Texan and I would never want to write a record that didn’t reflect that in some ways. I don’t want to do just California sounding surf music, because that’s not all that interests me. I wanted to have influences from Mexican music, or at least in vibe. What I think as a “very Texas sounding” record may not sound like Texas to anyone else. There are many more artists who are more true to Texas than I am, I’m sure.

The band’s music for 2014’s Silver Age and They’re Not Gone is heavily filled with surf rock.  Were you a big fan of the genre growing up?

I was never exposed to it growing up, at least not heavily. I think many people can hear “surf” music and just feel it without knowing it, that it’s a very vibe-y energetic music. It makes me want to move, and it’s something I could write. I kind of fell into it to be honest.

How long was the recording process for They’re Not Gone?

I started writing some of the songs in late 2014, early 2015, and we started recording in February 2016 at Austin Signal with Charlie Krampsky. The recording process was amazing. I love being in the studio, and I’ve known Charlie since 2005, so it was such a blast to finally work with him. The recording process is always shorter than the writing process. The hardest thing is to hold onto songs while you scrape money together to try and do the songs justice when recording them. I called on some friends to help play organ and trumpet, and it was so fulfilling to hear the record when it was finished.

In 2013 you were starting out your career as a math teacher, but wanted to still play music.  At any point from then to now have you thought of becoming a full-time musician?

I like separating my passion and my profession, so I can have complete control of the music we put out. Well, my band and I can have complete control. I think there are many pros-and-cons to being a full-time musician, and I have so much respect for the bands doing it, but I know that’s not what my path is. I love to write music and record songs, and if someone wanted to pay me for that, I wouldn’t mind, but I wouldn’t do it full time.

But of course, I’ve thought of it. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying. That’s like asking if I’ve thought about winning the lottery. Of course, I’ve thought of it. But I don’t buy tickets, unless it’s five-hundred million.

I’ve thought about it, but I’m not buying any tickets at this moment.

For They’re Not Gone, what was the band’s main goals to achieve?

I just wanted to write and record these songs, and see growth during the process. I don’t put huge goals out there, I just focus on music. I like playing shows too. My main goal is just to have a batch of songs that are better than the last batch of songs, and we did that.

What’s the plans for the band these upcoming months?

Our only plans right now is the play some shows, have a good time, and eventually work on some new and different songs. See where there are new stories to tell, and new ways to tell them. Past that, I can’t really make any plans.

(Visit Desert Culture here:
BANDCAMP: https://desertculture.bandcamp.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/desertculture/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/desert_culture
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/desert_culture/)

“Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings.” Carl Sandburg

Whatever we like it or not, money controls all of our lives.  Cutting their teeth in the underground since the 90’s, North Carolina based duo LegSweep Specialist (emcee Fuzz Jaxx and emcee/producer Sam Brown) know this all too well.  In their single “Money”, the duo soulfully preach on the subject.  Through the buzzing loops and chopped breaks, LegSweep Specialist’s lyrics are real and poignant.

Ghettoblaster is proud to present today the video premiere of “Money”, which comes off LegSweep Specialist’s full-length debut LegSweep.

LegSweep out now via Below System Records (Masta Ace, JR & PH7).

(Visit LegSweep Specialist: https://belowsystem.bandcamp.com/album/legsweep

Since the year 2000, Ghettoblaster has been putting out a quarterly print magazine. For Ghettoblast from the Past, we look back at the bands and artists that were showcased within these pages.

From Issue 32, Modern Outsider Records Pomegranates.  Words by Mark Toerner.

Pomegranates

To subscribe to Ghettoblaster Magazine or to pick up this issue, head over to our In Print page.

With angst that was deeply rooted within melodies that were pleasurable to the ear, The Jesus and Mary Chain have seized audiences from their humble beginnings in the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland to here in the United States.  Tracks such as the “Tastes Like Honey”, “Happy When It Rains”, and “Sometimes Always” never cease to amaze when diving into the extraordinary library.  Amid the fierce tension between the Reid brothers that in many ways led The Jesus and Mary Chain to break up in 1999, the band reemerged in 2007 and released Damage and Joy on March 24th by ADA and Warner Music Group.

Mark Crozer (guitarist for The Jesus and Mary Chain) found himself admiring the United States during the reunion tour so much that he decided to move here.  First relocating to Charlotte then to his current residence in Brooklyn, Crozer has found himself firmly planted in other projects.  For those who are entrenched in the wrestling world, Crozer’s single “Broken Out of Love (Live In Fear)” has become wrestler’s Bray Wyatt eerie entrance music toward his descent to the ring.  His other endeavor, Mark Crozer & The Rels, have released the wisfful, indie-rock album Sunny Side Down earlier this year.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Crozer to talk about the juggling the attention with The Jesus and Mary Chain/Mark Crozer & The Rels, how life has changed since associated with the WWE, among other things.

The Jesus and Mary Chain have been hard at work touring and releasing Damage and Joy recently.  How has it been playing the new songs live?

Pretty frightening at first as we were under-rehearsed as usual. We had a week of rehearsals in Manchester before the tour started but most of that time was spent drinking tea and sharing our misery over Trump and Brexit. The first couple of shows were a bit shambolic and one by one we all succumbed to flu so were feeling pretty crappy for the first week. But we got into a groove after that and have been tearing it up ever since. I have to say the audience reaction to the new songs has been phenomenal. I think the show’s great now. The band sounds killer.

I saw that The Jesus and Mary Chain toured around Europe recently.  What was the feeling like going back to where it all began?

Well, it all only began for me at Coachella ten years ago. This was actually my first proper European tour with the Mary Chain as we’d previously only done festivals. It was great. No punches were thrown. There weren’t any arguments. I even saw Jim and William smile a couple of times on stage. It was almost like they were enjoying themselves.

Did you ever think at any point The Jesus and Mary Chain were going to make another run after those initial reunion years of 2007-2009?

I really had no idea. We played a festival in Brazil in November 2008 and I remember William saying “see you in January.” Then three years went by before I heard they were touring again and I’d been replaced by John Moore. At that point I thought that it was the end of the line for me. But things didn’t work out with John and I was surprised to get a call asking if I could come back to do a couple of shows in Tel Aviv. I wasn’t too keen to go because of the conflict there but at the time I was in No Mans Land, living in Nashville, totally broke and I missed playing in the band. I knew that if I turned it down there would be no way back. So I went and it was all a bit crazy. We had a rehearsal booked the day before the first show and within minutes of arriving I blew up the new guitar pedal board and then Phil blew up the bass amp. So the rehearsal was a fiasco. I was very anxious about the first show and drank too much to calm my nerves. I’m assuming I played the right notes though not long after I was asked whether I’d play bass instead of guitar so… maybe not.

I read in an interview you did some time ago that some of the songs from Damage and Joy were recorded with the Reid/Reid/King/Crozer/Colbert Mary Chain line-up – songs like  “Mood Rider” and “Presidici (Et Chapaquiditch) and the lone released track of the era “All Things Must Pass”.  Were some of those recordings possibly the beginnings of a new LP intended for release?

They’d been talking about doing a new album since the very first reunion show at Coachella. I just assumed that we were demoing songs when we did those recordings. I don’t think they were anything more than that. I don’t even remember which songs we recorded now apart from “All Things (Must) Pass”. I do remember eating some great pizza at the studio though. Funny how the human mind works.

Mark Crozer and The Rels have a new album – Sunny Side Down.  How different was it to be working on this  album compared to the previous S/T release?

Very different. The first MCATR record was mostly just me and was recorded in my home studio on and off over a number of years. I would set up wherever I happened to be at the time which was Oxfordshire, Suffolk, North Carolina, New York… all over the place. Sunny Side Down was very much a band effort and it was recorded very quickly. I went down to Charlotte and rehearsed with the band for a couple of days then we did a short East Coast US tour and went into the studio right after. We had two days booked at Mitch Easter’s studio and my plan was to record three or four songs. But at the last show in Brooklyn I was electrocuted on stage. I brushed my lips on the microphone and was thrown backwards by a huge jolt. Shawn, who plays bass, told me to touch the mic with one of the tuning pegs of my guitar and I watched in horror as a blue arc of electricity crackled between the mic and the guitar. I lost my voice for a week. Whether it was because of the shock or not I don’t know. Anyway, I couldn’t sing so we ended up recording bed tracks for seven or eight songs. We just powered through them. I’ve never had such a fun and easy time in the studio before. The guys in the band are all very musical and understand exactly how the songs should sound without any need for much explanation. Which was lucky as I could barely speak. You’d think we play all the time but we don’t actually get together very often because I live in Brooklyn and they’re all based in North Carolina. It definitely helped that we worked with Mitch who is a total recording wizard.

With The Rels doing various tours the last few years (UK dates, then some recent US shows) – Do you see potential songwriting collaborations with other members of the Rels?

I feel like it works best having one person in charge to be honest. My strength is as a songwriter and their strength is in being a really great band. When we put the two things together it works very well indeed. I heard a comedy writer recently say something along the lines of ‘democracy is great for a country but not for creativity’ and I tend to agree.

After the previous efforts, Was there a specific overall theme you wanted to accomplish with Sunny Side Down?

Having spent so much time working alone, recording everything myself in my bedroom, I wanted to do the complete opposite. I wanted to make a proper ‘band’ record without relying on drum loops or programming of any kind. And that’s exactly what we did. We ditched the idea of using a click track and played drums, bass and guitars live together in one room like it was 1965. So the record feels very organic. It’s a real band playing real instruments and you can hear it from the first note of the first song.

You had Mitch Easter help produce Sunny Side Down.  What was his vision/involvement instrumentally  with the album?

We couldn’t have accomplished this without Mitch. Not only is he a studio wizard but he’s a super laid back person and that really helped us all relax and play to our best. Plus the studio itself is an incredible space filled with all kinds of wonderful vintage gear which ended up on the record. On ‘Say Hello’ for example I played a Hammond C-3 organ plugged into a rotating Leslie speaker. It’s not a sample, it’s the real deal. It was this massive thing with big wooden pedals and I remember it took about half an hour to warm up the point where it was playable. I can’t say enough great things about Mitch. It was a magical time working with him.

What has been the response from fans since your song “Broken Out of Love (Live In Fear)” has become WWE superstar Bray Wyatt’s entrance music? Have you seen a surge of new listeners?

I’ve definitely seen a surge of new listeners for that song, running into the millions in fact, which has meant quite a few new fans. It amazes me how big the song has become. It’s been sort of a slow burning hit single I guess. Five years on and it’s still one of the WWE’s best sellers. Most singles have a very short lifespan but because it’s on TV every week It’s always being heard by new people. Long may it continue.

After all these years making and performing music, what is it that you are still wanting to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

I would love to get to a point where the Rels could become a viable touring band. We played a handful of shows as support for the Mary Chain last year and we had such a great response that I think we could do more. It’s just a question of working it out. And I’m always on a mission to write the perfect guitar pop song. There’s a very niche market now for that kind of music and in many ways I feel like a dinosaur still making guitar pop when the kids are all into whatever they’re into these days. I don’t care though. I know what I’m good at and I don’t plan to embarrass myself by trying to write an EDM tune. Having said that it would be nice to have another song as big as Live In Fear.

What are the upcoming plans for you and the projects you’re involved in currently?

This year is going to be totally consumed by Mary Chain touring. We’re on the road until November which is great. It means I’ll have plenty of time to write some new songs and finish up my rock n roll memoirs. Ha ha. I wrote a first draft last year and need to go back and revise it. The focus is on the many bizarre and disastrous experiences I’ve had in the world of music. Believe me it is a bottomless pit of disasters mostly involving cars that I’ve wrecked in ridiculous circumstances like crashing into a wild boar in Germany, breaking down irreparably within minutes of beginning a UK tour with a Canadian band, accidentally trashing a man’s car on his way to a funeral, getting stranded on Snake Pass in the Peak District in a Post Office van…

There will also be some Rels dates later this year whenever I can fit them in. It’s going to be a busy year.

(Visit Mark Crozer here:

https://markcrozer.bandcamp.com/music

http://thejesusandmarychain.uk.com/)

When it comes to Toronto-based Lydia Ainsworth’s vision for anything that she does, expect it to be filled with fantasy.  Growing up with a singer-songwriter father and set designer mother, Ainsworth has always been able to live life without boundaries.  The musician’s critically acclaimed 2014 Right from Real was nominated for the Juno Awards and positioned her as one of the top Canadian performers.

Ainsworth’s latest Darling of the Afterglow showcases the musician’s growth from the debut.  The beautiful arrangements that pure raw emotion projects through each track.  Ainsworth merges pop classicism with a kaleidoscope of sound and R&B influences.  With Darling of the Afterglow, Ainsworth aimed to go outside her comfort zone, seeking inspiration during her residence near LA’s Echo Park.

Ghettoblaster recently talked to Ainsworth about what inspired her to get out of a comfort zone, what studying Jimi Hendrix did for her recording the latest album, and movie scoring.  Here is what she said.

With Darling of the Afterglow, you stepped out of your comfort zone some.  What was it that called for you to go outside of what’s comfortable?

I think it’s important to always find an artistic challenge. It’s the only way I can evolve and learn. Most often the most challenging thing I can do is trust my instincts.

I have read that you are quite the art fanatic.  What styles do you find yourself being drawn to mostly?

Style is not that important to me. I’m drawn to art and music that are able to allow me to step outside of myself to gain a fresh perspective.

During the writing process for Darling of the Afterglow, you studied musician Jimi Hendrix pretty intensely.  What did you discover within yourself when learning more about the guitarist?

I had finished Darling of the Afterglow when I saw a documentary that quoted his diary where he said fantasy was important in seeing reality more clearly. He was such an incredible guitar player I hadn’t considered until that point how incredible his lyrics were. He was an incredible producer too. A  true genius. I really liked hear about his approach to lyrics and his approach gave me confidence in my own.

You released your first album Right from Real as two EPs.  Was there any thought of doing Darling of the Afterglow the same way?

I would love to be continually releasing things more often but all the planning that goes into releasing with record companies gets in the way sometimes and it wasn’t possible this time around.

You have done some movie scoring recently?  Is there any interest from you to continue going that route going forward?

I haven’t scored anything for a while. Songwriting has been my main focus the past few years but I would love to write music for multimedia endeavours in the future. I would love to write music for a contemporary dance company.

Where did you record Darling of the Afterglow?

Mostly in Toronto at a studio called Phase One.

Your music blends a mixture of string arrangements with eerie electronic beats.  What’s your process when crafting your music?

I usually begin with a very basic programmed pattern on my computer, an inspiring sounding sample or progression that acts as the spine of the song. For example with my song ‘What Is It?” I started with the banjo part and worked around it from there. I took it for walks, fed it some of my mother’s chicken soup and practiced dream yoga with it until it evolved into something that took a shape of it’s own.

Lydia Ainsworth’s latest Darling of the Afterglow is available now via Arbutus Records.

(Visit Lydia Ainsworth here:
WEBSITE: http://lydiaainsworth.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/lydmusic/)

My Education member Brian Purington and his family will be departing Austin permanently to live in New Zealand in about two weeks. During our conversation, Purington reveals to me that his wife has recently accepted the position of Director of Content with Lightbox, a streaming television service that is similar to Netflix and Hulu here in the United States. The move will be a homecoming of sorts for Purington’s wife; growing up in Auckland, she moved to London to work at MGM studios for five years. When the couple met at SXSW, Purington convinced her to move to Austin where she accepted a position at Austin Film Society. Now that the couple have a child and a chance to set up somewhere that won’t be so foreign, Purington foresees the relocation to be beneficial. “I think it would be good for the baby,” he says. “Her parents live five blocks from there, so having them around to help. We could go out to dinner together occasionally, which we haven’t been able to do the past year and a half. She can actually go out and see my band play (laughs).”

When we spoke over the phone, Purington admitted to be being a little bit apprehensive regarding moving away from a town he’s lived in since 1999. Only being an hour’s drive away from his hometown of San Angelo, Purington grew up with aspirations to perform in punk bands in Austin. “We would sneak off on weekends and see all of the great Austin bands perform,” Purington says. “I got really enamored, so I as soon as could (after high school), I moved to the city.” The tone in Purington’s voice begins to sway when he talks about the small things regarding the town that’s been so good to him. “I play in a lot of bands here and have a large network of friends,” Purington utters. “I was just dropping off some of the My Education records at Waterloo and I know the guy doing consignment; I recorded his band five years ago. I’ve known the owner for twenty years. What it’s going to be like moving somewhere I go that I has a record store that I don’t anyone? (Laughs).”

After Purington folded up a band that went under the same name, the evolution of My Education has constantly grown over the years. Touring heavily in the US and Europe, the group released their latest album – and Purtington labels as the best to date – Schiphol on March 3 via Headbump Records. The process to put together Schiphol began shortly after My Education’s 2013 spring European tour. Having played twenty shows in twenty-one days, Purington and drummer Earl Bowers went back to work shortly after returning home. An ample amount of time was spent on choosing carefully where the want to record and with whom. Recording in Public Hi-Fi studios in Austin, TX in spring 2015, My Education enlisted producer Mike McCarthy to helm the recording session. “I really liked the second Trail of the Dead record (1999’s Madonna) and the Spoon records,” Purington says. “He’s easily the most knowledgeable engineer I’ve worked with, as far as watching him work.”

In many ways, the dark ambient instrumentals on Schiphol center on feelings of paranoia, loss, fear, and the desire to escape. Without a singer in the band, My Education’s Schiphol roams freely with ringing guitars and buzzing strings. The title of the album, according to Purington, essentially captures a yearning to be somewhere else; the looming move to New Zealand weighed heavily on him could be viewed as contributing factor. “We few around a couple different ideas…a few other German words that didn’t sit right,” Purington said. “Eventually we settled on the name of the airport because we really like that airport a lot (laughs).”

Taking into account that the band has over six hundred shows under their belt (all posted with a brief summary on the group’s website filed under ‘Past Shows’ courtesy of Purington), there’s no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Purington informs me a couple of Austin shows and a European tour in the fall are set. In the meantime, Purington will savor his time left in Austin. He has booked SXSW showcases with My Education and two other band’s he’s involved in locally. As for what he will do once he arrives in Auckland? “I know a number of other musicians over there, so I’m sure I’ll get something going over there.”

My Education’s latest Schiphol  is available now via Headbump Records.

(Visit My Education here:
WEBSITE: http://www.myeducationmusic.com/index.php
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/myeducationmusic/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/myeducationtx)

A couple of years ago, Pollen Rx’s own Ben Hirsch and Maud Morgan were staring down what was a small dilemma.  The couple’s short term residency in Toronto was soon reaching its expiration date and they needed to choose where they would be living next.  While talking over the phone, Hirsch stated that neither wanted to move to respective hometowns; he grew up in suburbs of Boston, while Morgan grew up at the Mission District in San Francisco.  With essentially both coasts being marked off their list, Austin emerged as the city to be chosen.  “When we moved here, we signed a six month lease,” Hirsch says during our conversation.  “Now…this is where we’re from.”

The couple had played in a folky, acoustic act titled Good Clean Feeling while residing in Toronto.  Primarily due to a lack of focus, unsure how they wanted the product to sound, and not having the ability to settle a lineup, the project was quickly disbanded.  For the short period of time that Hirsch and Morgan have been calling Austin home, the duo has seen just how advanced the music scene is, compared to other cities.  With a fresh perspective in front of them, Hirsch and Morgan started to play around with arrangements, ranging in distortion and riffs that were more on the pop side.  “We definitely draw on different scenes here (Austin) for inspiration,” Hirsch says.

Along with Maggie Exner, another factor that helped fueled Pollen Rx was the addition of guitarist Caroline Sallee.  Known primarily for her role in Caroline Says, Sallee joining the band shortly after SXSW in 2016 was a blessing. “(Caroline) is pretty awesome with adding dynamics to the song: making the loud parts really loud and the beautiful parts extra shiny,” says Hirsch.  Pollen Rx had a handful of other musicians come out, jam a little bit and play keys during shows.  Nothing seemed to be the fit with the band; Sallee come forward to offer up her skills after speaking with Hirsch.  “Adding another guitar allowed us to slow things down a little bit,” Hirsch mentions.

Throughout Sunbelt Emptiness (released in late January), Pollen Rx reflect on the landscape of adulthood: difficulties of the American way of consumerism, trials/tribulations, and living within a city that’s rapidly growing.  The opening track “Billboard Promises” according to Hirsch was inspired by a billboard sign he saw advertising persuading participants to go get liposuction within town.  The lyrics to “Sand In the Well” blasts through big corporations like Nestle and farmers.  As water was continued to be either bottled or mixed with pesticides and sprayed onto produce fields, the devastating toll of the California drought seen by the band during a tour raged on.  Some tracks, including “AR AK”, tackle to a lesser degree today’s political climate and media coverage surrounding it.  The recent string of protests and marches in Washington, D.C. brought back memories of their participation in the Occupy movement in Toronto.  “How much press did those fifty anarchists get compared to the five million nationwide that marched?” Hirsch says.  “If you look at the administration did the first few weeks-its way violent and crazy.  How come taking away healthcare from twenty million people isn’t considered violent, but throwing a rock through a bank window is?  That doesn’t make sense to me.”

In the course of writing Sunbelt Emptiness, Pollen Rx remained steadfast on creating an album that would be fun to dance to and balance out Hirsch’s pop-tinged sensibilities along with Morgan’s darker delivery. “You are trying to write music that is fun to listen; you don’t want make this really preachy thing,” Hirsch says.  “I don’t want to be Bob Dylan.  I much rather be Talking Heads.”  The band alone understood that there was a fine line between standing up for something and potentially going too far with the message being sent.  “One of the things (Maud) and I talk about a lot is how direct are we supposed to be,” Hirsch says.  “Say you say your message a little bit more softly and that means twice as many people listen to it.  Or maybe you rather have twice as many people listen to a soft message and half as many people listen to a hard message-that constant balance.  I hope the album is more descriptive than preachy.”

(Visit Pollen Rx:
BANDCAMP: https://pollenatx.bandcamp.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/PollenRx/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/pollenatx
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/pollen_rx/)

Hailing from London, Ontario, Lost In Japan have only been together since late 2016 and they have been hard at work.  Front man Addison Johnson and company have been hard work crafting unforgettable hooks and relentless tunes that have caught the eye of those who have attend their live shows.

Ghettoblaster is proud to share “Animal”, off the upcoming late May release Ghost & The Wolf.  Without compromising the intimacy within the track,  Lost In Japan still manages to keep their pop sensibilities within the single.

(Visit Lost In Japan here:
WEBSITE: https://www.lostinjapanofficial.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/LostInJapanOfficial/)