Tag Archive: “Castle Face Records”

Andy Morin (Death Grips) and Zach Hill (Hella, Death Grips) are known for their previous releases but here the two step out on their own as the I.L.Y’s brandishing cleaner knives but just as sharp with “I Love You Man,” off the duo’s third long-player Bodyguard (Castle Face Records) dropping on June 16. The album also features guitar interplay from Tristan Tozer (Drug Apts, Yah Mos.)


I’ve been procrastinating, and the fact that the Afghan Whigs dropped that single “Demon In Profile” didn’t help my current situation. Instead of listening to the slew of albums in front of me I kept hitting that repeat button again and again. I kept questioning, “Is this album going to be better than the last? I hope so. Please don’t let it suck. Where are my old albums? Oh, I remember now. No, they’re not there. Where are they???” seemed to be the scenarios popping through my head this week. I get distracted, as I constantly do when I’m writing, but I finally change the subject and move on to something else. ADD? Squirrel! But again, I digress.

This week we see the release of multiple artists that have both caused irreparable damage to my senses and have massaged them. First on my plate, Thee Oh Sees John Dwyer returns with his third album under the Damaged Bug moniker Bunker Funk. (Castle Face Records) Initial thoughts as soon as the album begins: one bizarre excursion. Dwyer’s main gig as a member of Thee Oh Sees gives him a finite sense of mobility, constricted as being a quarter of a whole. With Damaged Bug, Dwyer is free, unrestricted and bound only by the limits of his imagination. And as Bunker Funk attests, he’s fallen down the rabbit hole on multiple occasions. The album’s “funk” isn’t lost here, as “Bog Dash,” the lead single opens things up with loads of dissonance in the background while Dwyer flagrantly attacks instruments with an unabashed fervor.  The rhythmic thrust is captivating and the broken guitar work adds a savory hint of spice to it. Did you hear that right? That’s what you’ll be questioning once the track ends, hitting that repeat button before moving on to what follows. With Damaged Bug Dwyer plays with repetition, sometimes letting the monotony set in, like on “Slay The Priest,” with rhythm played over and over, with additional instruments breaking up that uniformity for more than half the song before Dwyer bellows, “I’ve seen a rising sun…” changing the song into something altogether different. He’s not opposed to creating creepy soundscapes with propelled rhythms, that’s obvious enough with “Rick’s Jummy.” Keyboards hum over that same drum pattern and while it may be odd and sinister, it doesn’t make it any less addictive.


So it’s obvious Damaged Bug is about repetition, but it’s also more than that. Dwyer takes other instruments to completely obliterate what we all believe music should sound like. “No One Notice The Fly” starts off harmless enough, tossing around that jazzy beat, adding all the additional instruments to his recipe to create something…flavorful. Are those wind instruments playing against keyboards or keyboards made to sound like wind instruments? It’s trippy. For Damaged Bugs’ Bunker Funk, Dwyer has created an interesting wall of sound that seems to never end. Is Bunker Funk music that’s going to change the world? No, but it just might change your perspective on how you view it. That’s not a bad place to start.

This leaves me now with just one other another release this week. Yes, I’ve only book-ended with two albums although there were an originally planned 5 of them. It happens. But next on the radar is a Missouri band that has been working incessantly, releasing albums, touring, releasing more albums….and for the most part have been well accepted through a number of outlets. At first I wasn’t sure of the Ha Ha Tonka Heart-Shaped Mountain (Bloodshot Records) release but if there’s an album that grows on you it’s this one. And it does so quickly. The group’s Americana/Country sound differs from the band’s contemporaries. With this release it’s almost as if you can picture in your mind the fire that burns with these musicians. “Race To The Bottom” is the first track that slowly builds from loud to louder as the song progresses. Lead singer Brian Roberts’ eased delivery makes you want to pay attention from beginning to end as you sing along with the chorus. But it just seems to get better from that point on. When Roberts begins “Everything” there’s a sense of calm and when the rest of the band follows him in, you’re kept in that same mind space. It’s a sweet song about love, but without being overly saturated with too much sugary sweetness. It’s simply beautiful. There’s so much that goes on Heart-Shaped Mountain and it isn’t difficult pointing out everything that works to the group’s benefit, like the anthemic chorus on “All With You.” I’d be surprised if one didn’t sing along when “I want to see it all…all with you” hits. But it’s when you get to “Going The Way” where there’s mention of a “heart-shaped mountain” on this country jam. The imagery Roberts casts with his words is beautifully played. I haven’t gotten to the best part of the album yet though.

Ha Ha Tonka: Heart-Shaped Mountain

That same wordplay that’s done so well can be heard on “Height Of My Fears,” along with its thrusting rhythm. The imagery is beautiful, wrapped in metaphors like “Canyons carved out by rivers of tears / Mountains rise up to the height of my fears.” Could it get any better? Yes it can. As soon as  “Land Beyond” begins, there’s no disguising what it is. The ban covers/reworks Asa Brooks Everett’s old Gospel song, turning it into one beast of a song that’s sure to have every church feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost.  The band jams here and rips right through it. But(!) it’s “Arkansas” that gets my full attention every time I hear it. This one can get the party started, feeling carefree, and when Roberts sings “You know we broke every law in Arkansas / I don’t know why but we got away with it all” there’s a feeling of abandon, no worries, just freedom. I just can’t seem to express how great this album is. Heart-Shaped Mountain is the band’s 5th album but it sounds like the band is just getting started. I can only assume they have a lot more tricks up their sleeves.


Damaged Bug: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Ha Ha Tonka: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

The One With Sqwings

Every week Ghettoblaster feature writers (and dear cousins!) Brian LaBenne and Luke LaBenne bring you fresh new songs with the hopes of introducing you to some that you may consider to be the best song ever.  Both Brian and Luke have no idea what songs the other has picked, so what you are hearing is their genuine reaction to listening to the songs together.  Also, if you enjoy this episode, head to ITunes to subscribe and rate our podcast with the highest rating available to you.


Songs Played on The One With Sqwings

Damaged Bug – Bog Dash from Bunker Funk out March 10th on Castle Face Records

Thievery Corporation feat. Mr. Lif – Ghetto Matrix from Temple of I & I out now on ESL Music

Beach Fossils – This Year from Somersault out June 2nd on Bayonet Records

The New Pornographers – High Ticket Attractions from Whiteout Conditions out April 7th on Collected Works Records

Aimee Mann – Goose Snow Cone from Mental Illness out March 31st on SuperEgo Records

Quell Chris – BS Vibes from Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often out now on Mello Music Group

Kane Strang – Oh So You’re Off I See from an album due later this year on Dead Oceans

John Andrews and the Yawns – Drivers from Bad Posture out March 10th on Woodsist

It’s another Friday and here we are again. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I keep listening to the constant complaint of those who want something better but you know what? You actually have to get up off your ass and work for it! No one’s going to hand you anything. Every week I receive a slew of releases and I’ll randomly grab a handful to listen to. Yeah, sometimes people just do that, and what I find on occasion are those that don’t expect anything to be handed to them, deciding to put together a collection of songs they felt strongly compelled to create. You see that? They’re creating their own opportunities and for better or worse, they’ve landed at my feet here. What do we have here?

POW! - Crack An Egg
POW! – Crack An Egg

I didn’t know what to make of band, the duo who simply goes by the name POW! at first glance. I imagined their  album Crack An Egg (Castle Face Records) would be a gloomy pastiche of work that would probably keep me in a depression for a few years. Luckily that’s not the case. While the duo may play a familiar synth-rock style, they’re here to make you feel their songs deep in your soulless body. The party really starts for me with “Back On The Grid” where they stop and start to a mechanized beat surrounded by synthesizers, noisy powered amps and staccato vocals at points. Did I hear this song right? Yep, just played it again and you can find my ass shaking to it with the utmost abandon. They’ll get downright spooky on the eerie “Castle Of Faith” which is both haunting and robotic with Byron Blum’s vocals sometimes taking a backseat to his musical interplay with cohort Melissa Blue.

But it’s on “Necessary Call” where they let their punk roots show through their highlights, driving it with a 4-chord distorted guitar joint just swallowing everything up in its path. The great thing about POW! is the grittiness in its simplicity. The band doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its musical prowess, instead opting to capture your attention with great songs like “Energy In Motion.” Look for the band to continue fucking up your day in the best of ways when things aren’t going your way.

That leads me to Quelle Chris. People are quick to toss comparisons around to another production genius or utilize easy words like “quirky,” but his brand of Hip Hop is somewhat different. Now while they may be slightly angled towards that direction in a sense, Quelle Chris’ music far surpasses them. Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (Mello Music Group) is a strange ride, Chris’ music production and vocal delivery sometimes don’t sound like they go together, juxtaposed against one another but seamlessly meld well together. Makes sense? Listen to “Buddies,” where the musical pastiche is layered with his vocals that hops along eventually hitting the beat on point. When the self-absorbed character reference he has on lyrics “I fucks with myself” doubled over but not landing exactly together, it’s clear his attempt to do something different works perfectly. As odd as the song is, it’s perfect. Quelle Chris says everything people want to say with clear braggadocio.  Being You… is rife with guest appearances as well, some well known (Roc Marciano, Jean Grae) to his homies (Big Tone, Cavalier, House Shoes) who all add vocal texture to his tracks. “Fascinating Grass (feat Big Tone, Roc Marciano, 87) moves at a mid-tempo’d pace with Marciano’s low register fitting well against Tone’s quicker rhymes. But on “BS Vibes (feat. House Shoes),” where he and Shoes trade quips is almost hypnotic. The piano line here grabs hold on this one. And this is where things get strange.

Quelle Chris - Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often
Quelle Chris – Being You Is Great,
I Wish I Could Be You More Often

The beat on “Dumb For Brains (feat. Cavalier)” sounds off key at points but both emcees make it work, just like on the rest of the tracks here. Quelle Chris will get a little wicked on the beat though because “The Prestige (feat. Jean Grae)” takes no prisoners. He and Grae, bring that cutthroat heat with vocal deliveries as well, then again Jean Grae could always hold her own against any man, woman, or alien rappers. She’s still that scary good. But with Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often I can fucks with it. It’s a strange ride that you may want to get on.

What we have left is Sinkane. Well the moniker is used by one Ahmed Gallab, a Sudanese singer/songwriter born in London to college professors who moved to the U.S. when he was 5. Life & Livin’ It (City Slang) is his 6th album. I’m not sure if I had some preconceived notions about the album, thinking it was going to be different than his last, which it is. With every album he puts together, Sinkane gets better and better with his song structures, his vocal delivery, the arrangements, etc. Sinkane is more than just a singer/songwriter though, he’s a pop artist that doesn’t receive the accolades and love he deserves. The music he creates differs whereby adding African rhythms throughout a number of tracks. On  “U’Huh” (watch below) you can easily catch it within the song, but it doesn’t pigeonhole Sinkane into a limiting world music genre, instead it gives it more flavor than the average pop song. The same can be said for “Deadweight,” which has a modern R&B appeal to it but remains rooted in having that inclusive international vibe.

Sinkane - Life & Livin' It
Sinkane – Life & Livin’ It

He rarely strays away from what he’s stylistically created. “Passenger,” both lyrically and musically traverses through multi-cultures and sounds. The title track itself here points to what this album could be though; the soundtrack for any road wearied traveler. Listens need to give Life & Livin’ It more attention because it opens the world to a whole new generation of musical journeymen. It’s just a beautiful album plain and simple.

Quelle ChrisFacebook/Twitter/Instagram



Thee Oh Sees are touring in support of A Weird Exits, which dropped August 12 via Castle Face Records.

Upcoming Thee Oh Sees EU & US 2016 Tour Dates:

08-24 Zurich, Czech Republic – Mascotte*
08-25 Geneva, Switzerland – Palp Festival *
08-26 Asolo, Italy – Amo Festival
08-27 Ravenna, Italy – Hana-Bi
08-31 Tel Aviv, Israel – Arena
09-02 London, United Kingdom – Coronet !*
09-3 Leeds, United Kingdom – University Stylus !*
09-04 Dorset, United Kingdom – End of the Road Festival
09-06 Biarritz, France – Atabal *
09-08 Valada, Portugal – Reverence Festival
09-09 Granada, Spain – Planta Benja
09-10 Benidorm, Spain – Fuzzville
09-12 Barcelona, Spain – Apolo *
09-13 Toulouse, France – Bikini *
09-14 Paris, France – La Cigale *
09-15 Lille, France – Aeronef *
9-27 Mexico City, Mexico- Foro Indie Rocks
10-08 Miami, FL – III Points Festival
10-14 Joshua Tree, CA – Desert Daze 2016
10-15 Joshua Tree, CA – Desert Daze 2016
10-16 Joshua Tree, CA – Desert Daze 2016
11-01 Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
11-02 El Paso, TX – Lowbrow Palace
11-04 Sherwood Forest Faire, TX – Sound on Sound Festival
11-05 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s #
11-06 Memphis, TN – The Hi Tone Cafe #
11-07 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge #
11-09 Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall #
11-10 Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts ^
11-11 New York, NY- Bowery Ballroom
11-13 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw ^
11-15 Providence, RI – Aurora ^
11-16 Montreal, Quebec – La Tulipe
11-17 Toronto, Ontario – Danforth Theater
11-18 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
11-19 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
11-23 Missoula, MT – Stage 112
11-25 Seattle, WA – Neumos %
11-26 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre %
11-29 San Francisco, CA- The Chapel %
11-30 San Francisco, CA- The Chapel %
# Amplified Heat
^ Straight Arrows
% Alex Cameron
* Magnetix
! Blind Shake