Tag Archive: “Don Giovanni Records”

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 24, Don Giovanni Records own Black Wine.  Words by Jim Testa.  Photo by Toni Skotcher.

Black Wine

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


The One With Brian’s Birthday

On this episode: Luke starts the episode by singing Happy Birthday to Brian and giving him four awesome songs as presents, our dear cousins talk about the upcoming Edgar Wright film Baby Driver and play a song from the soundtrack, Luke reveals his love of Gnarls Barkley, while Brian reveals his love of pudding, one of the songs has the LaBenne boys doing some super lame dance moves in their chairs, they dive deep into conversation about identiy and making your way through adult life as Brian reveals he is enjoying his 30s much more than his 20s, Luke explains the Bader-Meinhoff Phenomenon and they both workshop their new sign off phrases, all while playing eight of the best songs you’ll hear all week!

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 Brian’s Birthday

Danger Mouse feat. Run the Jewels and Big Boi – Chase Me from the Baby Driver Soundtrack out June 23rd on 30th Century Records

Cornelius – If You’re Here from Mellow Waves out July 21st on Rostrum Records

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – Underneath the Sheets of White Noise from Youth Detention out June 30th on Don Giovanni Records

Japanese Breakfast – Machinist from Soft Sounds From Another Planet out July 14th on Dead Oceans

OHMME – Woman from their self-titled debut EP out June 30th on Fox Hall Records

Elf Power – The Cat Trapped in the Wall from Twitching in Time out now on Orange Twin

Two Inch Astronaut – Can You Please Not Help from Can You Please Not Help out June 2nd on Exploding in Sound Records

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Anymore from The Echo of Pleasure out July 14th on Painbow Label

Another week rolls by and life’s got me feeling overworked, underpaid and less than appreciated. It doesn’t really vary from any other week I guess. Walking and driving in zombie-like states would probably have people glaring at me if they knew I was always tired. I haven’t been able to upload new music on my iPod so I’m stuck listening to the same regurgitated music I’ve been listening to. That’s usually until I get my ass to a computer. But there lies the rub. As soon as I get to a computer I gravitate towards varying podcasts even my friends don’t listen to. Damn the internet for making everything available to me worldwide! Regardless, I’m feeling… eclecticism coming on. Losing myself in multiple genres of music is what I’ve been doing this week. Sometimes I’ll get too comfortable with just one genre of music.  And so this Friday’s Roll Out begins…

Thirstin Square Crop
Thirstin Howl The 3rd

I’m pretty sure that Thirstin Howl The 3rd’s name is recognizable here. Now if you don’t know and are one of the uninitiated, sit down and we’ll break it all down for you. Victor DeJesus, better known by his stage name Thirstin Howl The 3rd has cut his teeth in underground Hip Hop circles closing in on two decades now. He’s toured the world, shared stages with those well and lesser known, and has released 11 albums, not including his new Skillmatic (Skillionaire Enterprises). The cover art seemingly parodies Nas’ groundbreaking Illmatic, but there’s a method to Howl’s madness. It’s not a true parody in art but possibly a nod to the greatness one album was, and how another may be viewed as well. Now it all depends on perspective though. In 2017 one might have a number of adjectives that an artist wouldn’t want to be associated with like misogynistic, self-gratuitous, etc. But I’m pretty sure Thirstin Howl The 3rd gives no fucks about it. Truth be told, Skillmatic is a throwback to a time when artists wrote lyrics right off the top of the head and performed on tracks that brought the true boom-bap. No shortcuts taken, just um, skill!

But Nas isn’t the only artist Howl gives a nod to because with the opener “Public Enemy” he and Master Fuol create their own rhythm and rebel against a system that’s unjust and corrosive. The feel of the track booms with relentless beat while Howl spits and shouts, showcasing his lyrical dexterity in both English and Spanish. He’s rallying against the system as P.E. did but with a finality. Fuol plays the Flava to his Chuck D. and the tag team is as effortless as it is looks and sounds. Skillmatic is rife with guest appearances though; Master Fuol continues with the assist but you also have Onyx’ Sticky Fingaz on “Crime Lord” where Howl, Fuol and Sticky bludgeon things with deliveries as strong as baseball bats and Timbs cracking down on heads. But it’s “Olde Gold Cypher” where you get an idea of what Thirstin Howl can accomplish with just a hypnotic beat and his voice alone. You can imagine blunts passed back and forth during studio sessions, blessing the track with a weed-induced clarity. If listeners are looking for something politically correct, they may want to skip “Wake Up In The Morning” which once again features Master Fuol but also includes Dre Brown.  It’s that true old school having these three spitting lyrics about beautiful women and what they can do. To them. The flow is just bananas and while their lyrics are rated X or NC-17, it just works.  It unexpectedly creeps into the title track where you find Mobb Deep’s Prodigy alongside Howl, both rapping about guns, and keeping things real. Over a mid-tempo’d beat wallowing in urban blight, we all know where this one goes. Both Howl and Prodigy are “Skillmatic” as they “turn this flow into dough.” Thirstin’ Howl The 3rd is no doubt internationally known, even featuring Japan’s Dak Lo on “Japan Style” where Howl shows love to Dak Lo, part of the extended Lo Life crew. The two volley back and forth and while Dak Lo raps in Japanese and my translation skills are nil, it still works. I can’t help but think how grimy this album sounds after listening to “Barberic Merits” because as I mentioned before, no fucks are given. Even with the sweet supporting vocals on the closing “I Will Always Be Right Here” there’s no removing that imagery of gritty urban life.  The Brownsville, Brooklyn rapper’s Skillmatic is something you won’t be able to help listening to over and over again. That is, if you’re strong enough and willing.

Now I’m sure you’re probably wondering, ‘What the hell is a Lizard McGee?’ Well, Lizard is the lead singer of the Columbus, Ohio band Earwig.   It’s hard to believe that the band has been going strong for 25 years in one form or another but here, Lizard McGee strips things down for a half hour of acoustic tracks in the form of Spooky Jets At A Distance (LFM/Anyway Records). One cannot simply mention Lizard without bringing up his band with this release. The majority of songs comprised here are reworked versions of Earwig’s 2016 release Pause For The Jets, which I didn’t realize until recently (It made sense why the songs sounded so familiar.) The fortitude of a song is measured in its acoustic counterpart, which for the most part, works here, and at moments sound better than versions with the full band. “Lover Chords” does that. It’s the nuance in every note and chord played that plays to Lizard’s vocal strengths. If you listen to it, that’s the point there. The counter parts are driving rock songs while here you get the laid back quieter versions. But the haunting “Bring Yrself 2 Me” works in either format but here, it’s just…spooky. I’m not certain if it’s the empty space that has me thinking that or just the way Lizard draws out the song. Repetitive but far from being repetitious. While “Wasted On You” doesn’t have Lydia Loveless’ additional vocals here doesn’t matter because the song can stand alone without her or a band. “Silverheels” though, the song stands apart from the original, without any added tricks, is a strong number. You can’t help but enjoy it. Spooky Jets At A Distance is clever counterpart to Pause For The Jets and bookshelf’s it perfectly.

Spooky Jets Cover
Lizard McGee


A Month Late And A Dollar Short

Now is this a Friday Roll Out…or is it just someone’s best kept secret? Aye Nako‘s new album Silver Haze quietly dropped in April. While there were sources that reviewed and/or premiered tracks, there hasn’t been very many mentions of the album or videos debuting. The nagging question I have is “Why?” Because I haven’t heard such sheer abandon to rock out and write great punk/pop songs in such a long time. I obviously should have ended this with that last sentence but continue reading if you’d like. A self-proclaimed queer punk band, Aye Nako spends its time writing melodic punk music in Brooklyn, NY.  and while Silver Haze isn’t the group’s first album, it sure sounds like it has that unrelenting fervor of a band just starting to hit their groove. Aye Nako classifies itself as a “queer punk band comprised of 4 weirdos writing dissonant and melodic punk music” but I only hear one amazing band that’s created its own niche on the punk continuum. The band does volley back and forth from male and female vocals and I’m usually quick to point out influences but with Aye Nako, it’s not that I can’t but rather, I just don’t want to. There’s a child-like innocence to the band when listening to “Half Dome.” You can’t help but feel a quick connection to their music. The sultry sounds of “Nightcrawler” has the band punctuating its music with elements that makes it sound more mature, way beyond their years. Not making sense? Imagine the band taking pop music lessons from other bands but then deciding they’re doing things their own way. That’s the attitude the band captures. They’re both sweet and sour, usually at the same time and songs like “Muck,” “Particle Mace” and “Spare Me” capture that feeling. Do I like this band? Nope, not at all. I love Aye Nako’s music. Silver Haze is one amazing piece of work these 4 weirdos have created.

Aye Nako
Aye Nako



Thirstin Howl The 3rd: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Lizard McGee: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Aye Nako: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram





The One About Making Love

On this episode of Best Song Ever: the Dear LaBenne cousins get a visit from DJ Khaled,  Luke has some harsh words for the editor of Ghettoblaster Magazine, Brian tells a fun story about Tom Waits, Luke talks about his emotional reaction to Finding Dory and they have a couple conversations about mental illness.

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 About Making Love

Amber Arcades – It Changes from an upcoming EP out later this year

Ron Gallo –  Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me from Heavy Meta out now on New West Records

Tennis – Ladies Don’t Play Guitar from Yours Conditionally out March 10th on Mutually Detrimental

Myles Manley – Relax; Enjoy Your Night Upon the Town out now on Little L Records

Your Old Droog – G.K.A.C. from Packs out March 10th on Fat Beats

Little Comets – Common Things from Worhead out March 10th on The Smallest Label

Aye Nako – Particle Mace from Silver Haze out April 7th on Don Giovanni

Pool – Almost Everything from No Bad Memories out now

The One About the Best of 2016

Brian and Luke take you on a journey through some of their favorite albums of 2016.   Also, be sure to check out their individual top 20 albums of the year list on the Ghettoblaster Magazine website!

Every week Ghettoblaster feature writers (and dear cousins!) Brian LaBenne and Luke LaBenne will be bringing 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 About the Best of 2016

Outer Spaces – “Words” from A Shedding Snake on Don Giovanni Records

AJJ – “Cody’s Theme” from The Bible 2 on Side One Dummy Records

DOGBRETH – “Do You Really Want Me” from Second Home on Asian Man Records

Lambchop – “Relatives #2” from FLOTUS on Merge Records

Twin Peaks – “Getting Better” from Down in Heaven on Grand Jury Music

Mutual Benefit – “Not for Nothing” from Skip a Sinking Stone on Mom+Pop

PUP – “Doubts” from The Dream is Over on Side One Dummy Records

Frightened Rabbit – “I Wish I Was Sober” from Painting of a Panic Attack on Atlantic Records

Eric Bachmann – “Carolina” from Eric Bachmann on Merge Records

Kishi Bashi – “Honeybody” from Sonderlust on Joyful Noise Recordings

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 22, Don Giovanni Records Screaming Females.  Words by Jim Testa.  Photo by Toni Skotcher.

Also from Issue 22, Weightless Recordings Illogic.  Words by Mildred C. Fallen.  Photo by Roman Titus.


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

Indie-punk quartet Izzy True will tour in support of their debut LP Nope, which dropped August 5 via Don Giovanni Records.

A rollercoaster of emotion, edgy instrumentation and irresistible melodies, Nope was born out of the experience of frontperson Isabel Reidy dropping out of school and moving home to deal with mental illness. Songwriting became a cathartic and joyful way to combat those issues. The end result is a rock and roll album which makes space for misery.

Nope is about magic, loneliness, and learning to like yourself.

8/9: Virginia Beach, VA @ Back Bay Brewing

8/10: Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle

8/11: Rock Hill, SC @ The Courthouse

8/12: Savannah, GA @ QuoLab

8/14: Asheville, NC @ The Odditorium

8/15: Nashville @ Charlie Bob’s

8/16: Louisville, KY @ The Cure Lounge

8/17: Bloomington, IN @ The Void

8/18: Milwaukee, WI @ Riverwest Public House

8/19: Madison, WI @ Williamson Magnetic Recording Company

8/20: Chicago, IL @ Pinky Swear

8/21: Detroit, MI @ Donovan’s

8/24: Providence, RI @ Aurora

8/25: Worcester, MA @ The Firehouse

8/26: Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s

8/27: Wallingford, CT @ Wamleg

8/28: New Paltz, NY @ Commissary

8/31: Allentown, PA @ Consolidated Cardboard

9/1: Rochester, NY @ Small World Books

9/2: Toronto, ON @ D-Beastro

9/3: Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo

Iconic punk rock feminist, author, educator and musician Alice Bag has announced her self-titled solo debut album Alice Bag, to be released June 24 on Don Giovanni Records. As with all of Bag’s artistic endeavours, this album is unabashedly honest and unafraid. Alice Bag features all original material written by Bag and includes performances by some of her favorite LA-based musicians. There will be an album release party on July 2 at The Echo in Bag’s hometown of Los Angeles, CA with support from Generacion Suicida and Kim and The Created. Info and tickets available HERE.

Poetically biting lyrics set the stage for the sassy, socially charged first single “No Means No” released today alongside her pledge to donate 100% of today’s album pre-order proceeds to Peace Over Violence in support of Denim Day. We encourage you to pre-order the record, make your own donation and post/share the new single “No Means No” freely today!

Alice was lead singer and co-founder of The Bags, one of the first wave punk bands to form in the mid-1970’s in Los Angeles, CA. She was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization and went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She has published two books, including the critically acclaimed memoir Violence Girl which is now required reading in gender and musicology courses throughout the country + the self-published Pipe Bomb For the Soul, based on her experiences in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. Her influence on popular music is highlighted in the Smithsonian exhibit, American Sabor.

Pre-order Alice Bag: Don Giovanni Website + iTunes

In celebration of her critically lauded new album Cocksure, out October 30 on Don Giovanni Records, Laura Stevenson will kick off a national tour hitting NYC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Denver and many more, with Crying and Chris Farren as support. Tickets for Mercury Lounge in NYC are on sale now, and tickets to all other shows go on sale on Friday, January 15. In addition to enjoying the playful official video for album single “Torch Song”, fans can get a taste what to expect from Stevenson’s live performance by watching her enchanting AV Undercover performance of Elliott Smith’s “Angel in the Snow”.

Produced by long-time friend and collaborator Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb The Music Industry!, Cocksure represents a new era for the songwriter.  The record was mostly recorded live, resulting in a raw, spontaneous feeling that makes the album an accumulation of her journey, on and off the stage. Be sure to catch Laura Stevenson live in a city near you!

3/31: Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle

4/1: Rochester, NY @ The Bug Jar

4/2: New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge

4/3: Washington DC @ Black Cat

4/5: Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe

4/6: Detroit, MI @ Marble Bar

4/7: Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge

4/8: Lincoln, NE @ Vega

4/9: Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive

4/10: Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

4/12: Portland, OR @ Star Theater

4/13: Seattle, WA @ Barboza

4/15: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside

4/16: Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater

4/17: San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

4/19: Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge

4/20: Albuquerque, NM @ Low Spirits

4/22: Austin, TX @ Mohawk

4/23: Dallas, TX @ Dada

4/24: Houston, TX @ Walters Downtown

4/27: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Purgatory

4/28: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter

4/29: Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium

4/30: Kingston, NY @ BSP Kingston

5/1: Allston, MA @ Great Scott

Four years since the band’s last release, Wisconsin’s Tenement deliver Predatory Headlights, an ambitious, contagiously catchy, 25-song double LP that is already being enthusiastically touted as a contender for record of the year in punk and indie circles. Although Pitsch and his collaborators, bassist Jesse Ponkamo and drummer Eric Mayer, surmounted a treasure trove of ideas over those years, it wasn’t until Don Giovanni founder Joe Steinhardt presented the idea that a double LP became part of the band’s plans.

Ghettoblaster caught up with Pitsch to discuss his informed look at songwriting, recording at BFG in Appleton, the retired DIY venue where the band lived, and more.

It’s been four years since your last release.  Were you writing for Predatory Headlights that whole time?

I played drums for The Nerves’ reunion tour thing in 2012, and when that went awry halfway through, I went home and began writing for this record. The lyrical material for Predatory Headlights was mostly written while on tour: playing drums for The Nerves, playing drums for Big Eyes, and with Tenement and Technicolor Teeth. It HAS been one big non-stop writing and recording block since it began though, and I’m relieved that it’s over and I can start thinking about the next record.

When did you realize a double album would be the best format for PH?

Joe Steinhardt approached us about doing a double album. The idea never even came close to making itself known to me until he convinced us we should do it. I thought about double albums that I love like The Beatles’ White Album, or Husker Du’s Zen Arcade, or The Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and what I love about each of them and what makes each of them special and what makes each of them succeed as a double album. Then I tried to apply those ideas to what makes our music special.

Is there a common theme or set of ideas that ties the record together?

It’s not a concept album. However as a writer of words, I’m influenced by thinkers like John Steinbeck and Werner Herzog. I more often than not find myself writing about the ironies, absurdities, and complexities of life, the nature of the human being, and society’s dark taboos.

Why was BFG, where you recorded the album, demolished?

We lived there a long time. Our prior LPs, Napalm Dream and The Blind Wink were mostly recorded there, too. We hosted punk shows in its basement for six years. In a town like Appleton, Wisconsin, a place like BFG was a lawless jungle. I’d always thought that it was meant to be bulldozed and not to be handed over to new tenants. The energy that place held after we’d been there for eight years wasn’t meant to linger in a normal family environment.

Was there ever any doubt that you’d work with Justin Perkins on this one too?

There was doubt. He doesn’t do much engineering or mixing anymore; choosing instead to be a mastering engineer. After a lot of sweet talk, he agreed to work on the record. I’m still thankful, as he’s one of my favorite engineers and musicians.

How influential were Justin’s bands Yesterday’s Kids and The Obsoletes for you as a songwriter?

Extremely influential. I worshipped The Obsoletes’ Is This Progress? full length for many years and I still love it. Yesterday’s Kids were my hometown’s biggest musical export as a teenager and luckily I could relate to their music well. They were coming from many of the same places I was coming from; blending the influence of The Beatles and ’70s power pop with melodic punk music like The Ramones and coming up with something that was both punk and pop, but really difficult to label as pop punk most of the time. There’s a particular guitar riff on Predatory Headlights that is a second generation nod to Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet by way of Yesterday’s Kids.

People are already comparing it to historic releases like Zen Arcade and Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  Is that a source of pride for you?

I’ve never really listened to Smashing Pumpkins, but Husker Du were one of my favorite bands as a teenager.  Zen Arcade is a great record, but my favorite records of theirs are New Day Rising and Everything Falls Apart and More. I honestly don’t even know where the Smashing Pumpkins comparison comes from. Do they sound like us in any way at all? Oh, right. Guys with guitars….we crapped all over that notion with a large chunk of this record.

What have Don Giovanni done to help the band reach new audiences?  What opportunities has that relationship afforded you?

I suppose that the tours we’ve been doing often for the past couple of years with Don Giovanni bands have allowed us to reach a new audience. Obviously we haven’t caught on that well with the college rock crowd that attends those shows. I don’t think our minds resonate well with theirs or something. I walk through life day dreaming about music. I don’t know what the hell they even think about.

I ran into some former tourmates of yours, Vacation, who said they’re very excited to hear the record.  Are those guys tight bros of yours?

Vacation, I promise to never refer to you as my “bros”. “Bros” and “Dudes” should be kicked outta the English language. In any manner of speaking, they’re always bland and cheap words. Vacation is a really creative band and we admire them as our peers and yes, we do love them like brothers.

(Visit Tenement here: https://www.facebook.com/tenement/.)