Tag Archive: “Featured”

Tampa, Florida-based Rilian, the brainchild of Jerad Griffin, premieres the lyric video for “Are You Out There?” in partnership with Kenobi Records (the label of Anakin’s Brad Chancellor who co-produced the track) via Ghettoblaster today. The track is the sixth release from the label (KR006) and Rilian’s first for Kenobi Records.

The single is the high-flying, space rock debut for the musician whose previous musical resume includes a brief stint as the drummer of Anberlin and a contribution to The Nurse Who Loved Me Failure tribute album released via Pop Up Records (provided vocals for “Pitiful”).

“I wrote it after watching Interstellar,” Griffin confesses. “That movie blew me away. I was really intrigued by Matt Damon’s character that was stuck on the icy planet for a long time. I wanted to write it from his perspective and how it must have felt being stranded there for years, alone. It’s about dealing with loneliness and wondering if anyone is out there listening.

Influenced by arena dominating post rock and indie heavy hitters like HUM, Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer and Deftones, Griffin’s tremendous, cinematic sound is one that is all his own; he performs all instrumentation for Rilian’s music, tracking and engineering it (mostly) himself.

“I engineered most of it with the exception of the drums. I recorded all the guitars, bass and vocals in my bedroom closet with an SM7B and my amp into an mbox into Pro Tools. I tracked the drums at my friend’s (JJ Revell of Brother Cephus) place. He has a huge living room in a house that was built in the 1920s and gets great sounds out of it. He also has more mics than I do.”

“Joel Wanasek (Machine Head, blessthefall, Trapt, Nail The Mix, etc) did all the mixing and mastering,” he adds. “He took the song to a new level with his abilities as a mix/master engineer. He made it sound exactly how I envisioned it.

According to Griffin, the modus operandi of the project is simple, “just to make honest, loud space rock.”

“[Music is] my first love in life other than Star Wars. It’s extremely therapeutic for me. I’m constantly coming up with melodies and riffs and I just have to get them out of my head. I don’t feel normal if I don’t have a new song to work on.”

“I just hope it feels honest and it feels like me. I’m finally just writing what I want to hear.”

(Visit Rilian at:

Bandcamp: https://rilianmusic.bandcamp.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rilianmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rilianmusic

Visit Kenobi Records at:

Website: www.kenobirecords.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kenobirecords

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kenobirecords)

Texas’ Super Thief premieres the video for its single “Liberosis.” The track is off the group’s Stuck album which was released earlier this month. According to the group’s own bio they’re “A would-be Touch and Go/AmRep band formed years after the glory days of noise catharsis rock when Jesus Lizard, Cows, Arcwelders and Amphetamine Reptiles roamed the fruited Midwest plains” which isn’t far from the truth. But it just seems the group has much more to offer than just that. With “Liberosis” the band showcases the bludgeoning force they can put to tape in just under 2 minutes along with shifting dynamics.

TOUR DATES
6/28 Austin, TX
6/29 Denton, TX
6/30 Little Rock, AR
7/1 Columbia, MO
7/2 Evansville, IN
7/3 St. Louis, MO
7/4 Madison, WI
7/5 Milwaukee, WI
7/6 Minneapolis, MN
7/7 Chicago, IL
7/8 Kansas City, MO
7/9 Tulsa, OK
8/8 San Antonio, TX*
8/9 Austin, TX*
8/10 Dallas, TX*
8/11 Lafayette, LA
8/12 Beaumont, TX
*w/ Tunic (Winnipeg)

The unfortunate passing of a friend.  The ending of not only his band, but also a relationship.  The relocation to a new city.  Fallow Land’s Whit Fineberg began to start feeling like he was directionless.  However, these dark moments that culminated in such a short span of time also forced Fineberg to be more inspired than he ever has before.  He soon began writing more than he had in years and crossed paths with bandmate Evan Veasey back home in Ann Arbor. 

For their debut EP Pinscher, Fineberg and Veasey worked attentively together with Chris Bathgate on truly understanding the importance of each song.  Once Fallow Land were pleased with their newfound keen sense of their art, they went to record at High Bias Studios with the help of audio engineer Chris Koltay, mixing by Matt Bayless, and mastered by Ed Brooks (Cursive, Death Cab for Cutie). 

Ghettoblaster recently caught with Fineberg and Veasey to talk more about Pinscher, how the duo met in Ann Arbor, and the future.  Here’s what the members of Fallow Land said.

 I’ve seen online that some outlets are labeling Fallow Land as a “math rock” band.  Would you agree with that?

Fineberg: We have definitely drawn influence from math rock. When I was writing a lot of the songs on Pinscher I was listening to Bearcubbin and Don Caballero. That being said, I wouldn’t say we are explicitly a math rock band. I wouldn’t say we are explicitly anything. We just pick elements from the music we like and adapt it to fit our compositions.

Veasey: Yes and no. Both Whit and I listen to math rock a fair amount so I think that some of that influence has made it into the music. For example, the first song on the EP, Yang, switches between 4/4 and 6/8 time signatures, and a new song we are working on is mostly in 5?8. However, I don’t think I would call us math rock. Even though our music has some of the rhythmic complexity of that genre, I think we lack the technicality of real math bands. I would consider us more of a mix of several different things. Like maybe emo-math-shoegaze or something like that.

Fineberg-you found inspiration with your writing when you were at a pretty low point.  From the untimely death of a friend to the dissolution of not only a relationship but your previous band, what was it that inspired you?

Fineberg: I started writing Pinscher out of necessity. I was faced with all of these really trying scenarios that were incredibly complex and overwhelming. Choosing to hide from them would inevitably result in self-destruction so I had to come up with a safe way to face all of these issues and try to understand them. Whenever I wasn’t in class I was recording demos. It’s really what kept me together.

Veasey-what was it about Fineberg that intrigued you to join him in setting up Fallow Land?

Veasey: I think what drew me to working with Whit initially was his great music taste and career ambitions. Prior to playing with Fallow Land I had played in 4 or 5 other bands, and I learned a lot about playing with other people and the creative process by doing that. However, none of those groups were particularly serious. We would play a few shows around town and practice a lot, but that was basically it. When Whit came to me asking if I was interested in putting a new group together, he was already planning a tour for that summer and talking about recording a record within the next year. I am aspiring to make music my sole source of income, so meeting someone with similar ambitions was exciting. Also he happened to like a lot of music I liked and wrote good songs, so it just kind of worked out.

Fineberg-I read that producer Chris Bathgate helped you go about thinking your own art in a different way.  What was it that Bathgate showed or told you?

Fineberg: What has always stuck me about Chris’ work is his ability to milk every idea for all that its worth. He has this understanding of arranging music that’s incredibly sophisticated. Chris finds the most powerful aspect of every section of a song and figures out how to amplify it. Chris frequently asked me, “What’s the most important moment of this section?” Or, “What’s the high point of this song?” Chris taught me to break a song down to its essential core and rebuild from there.

Veasey-were you aware Fineberg’s work around Ann Arbor before the two of you met?

Veasey: Yeah, I had been aware of Whit’s different projects and things for a number of years before we started Fallow Land. We both went to the same high school and I had some friends who knew Whit and were fans of his band Bad Television. I also went and saw Bad TV a couple times my freshman year before we started the group. We were running in the same circles during most of that time.

Fineberg-you were living in Chicago but continued to drive up to Ann Arbor to play music frequently.  For the band, how special is Ann Arbor to you two?

Fineberg: Ann Arbor is where I developed as an artist. I started playing shows at the Neutral Zone (a local teen center) when I was fourteen. It’s a really weird scene here. There are a ton of fantastic musicians and artists, but in the past couple of years many of the venues have begun to close down. Unfortunately there isn’t the same degree of appreciation for art from the public as there is in many other cities. That being said, I feel deeply rooted in the scene here and the musicians I have access to collaborate with are fantastic.

What is the meaning behind naming the EP Pinscher and having the EP artwork a picture of this certain breed of dog?

Veasey: There isn’t really any meaning. We actually found the image of the Doberman before we had decided on the title for the EP. We like the photograph so much that we decided to use it as our album cover and the title Pinscher just seem to fit.

Fineberg: In truth, the picture came before the concept to name the EP. My friend Andrea Calvetti actually took the photograph of his own dog. We met because he was good friends with one of my roommates in Chicago. He actually lived on the floor above us in our apartment complex.  Andrea is an incredible photographer and I was scrolling through his photographs on Facebook and I saw the photograph of his dog. I was struck by the extreme power and potential for chaos that existed within the dog, yet it is exceptionally calm in the photograph. One of the ideas illustrated throughout the EP is staying calm when chaos is raging inside of you. Writing all these songs in the first place was an attempt to stay calm in the face of chaos. There is something very empowering about going through something that’s totally insane and coming out ok on the other end.

The ending to the band’s recently released video for the single “Faux” is rather intriguing.  For those who watch the video, you are left wondering after seeing the twist.  I’m sure that there’s several different ways to go about understanding what the ending entails.  What is the meaning behind it?

Fineberg: We can be destroyed by our desire to be someone else.

Veasey: “Faux” is all about changing every aspect of yourself at an almost molecular level to please people you care about, so we wanted our video to reflect that theme. Basically, when the main character in the video sees his reflection, he sees another person looking back at him. When his lover turns his body over in the water and sees a stranger’s face, she is seeing a part of her partner that has died. So I guess it was almost like a part of himself committed suicide.

Is there talk on doing a longer LP for the follow up to Pinscher?

Fineberg: That’s definitely the plan. We’ve begun writing a couple songs that we anticipate being on the full-length. That being said, we kind of rushed through some of the steps while recording Pinscher, primarily due to budget constraints and partially due to inexperience, and that’s something we don’t want to do again. We want to take our time on the LP and make sure we get everything right.

Veasey: We are planning on beginning to write a new record right after we release this EP. Hopefully we will get back in the studio in the next 6 or 8 months. We learned a lot about the process by recording and releasing this record, so we are excited to go even further with the next one.

With Fallow Land consisting of just two members full-time, do you ever find yourselves wanting to expand?

Fineberg: There are positives and negatives to the way we’ve been doing things. Musicians tend to be really busy and having to put everything on hold for one of the member’s schedule is something that can really stunt the growth of the band. We are happy with the musicians we are working with right now, Evan Laybourn (on drums) and Scott Kendall (on bass). I think everything will become clearer as we begin to record our follow-up LP.

Veasey: We really like playing with Scott Kendall and Evan Laybourn, and hope to continue working with them in the future. However, that being said, we think there are a lot of different advantages to having things organized the way they are now. Honestly, only time will tell. We are definitely open to the possibility of adding new people as permanent members though.

Fallow Land’s debut Pinscher is out June 30.

(Visit Fallow Land 
Fallow Land Website
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Dave Depper has made quite the musical career being a vital part of several Northwest bands.  Acts like Menomena, Fruit Bats, Mirah, Corin Tucker, and Laura Gibson have all called upon Depper to be part of their projects.  Today, Depper has solidified his role within the ranks of Death Cab for Cutie; after being a touring member for a year, Depper is onboard full-time. 

Now comes the next step of Depper’s musical progression-the long awaited release of Emotional Freedom Technique.  Written and recorded at his home in Portland during those short-term periods not being on the road, Depper went into shaping his debut.  Everything Depper did with Emotional Freedom Technique was done by himself on purpose, from the writing to the instrumentals.  Heavy on the synth pop and simple hooks, Emotional Freedom Technique brings to life the deeply rooted songs that were personal to Depper. 

Ghettoblaster recently caught up Depper to discuss the production of Emotional Freedom Technique, how a night with friends led to him to go about writing for the album, and more.  Here is what he said.

When purchasing a Farfisa organ from Chad Crouch (Hush Records/Blanket Music), he mentioned to you about playing bass.  Having never played before, you agreed to do so.  Now that some time has passed, have you ever confessed to Crouch about your fib?

Oh yes, I confessed pretty soon afterwards! It turned out that I kinda had a natural knack for bass playing, so it all worked out for everybody in the end.

You have played music with a long line of various musicians that all encompass different vibes.  Having the opportunity to be around such a wide range of sound, what you say was the similarity that pulls it together?

I’m naturally drawn to musicians who are committed to doing things their own way, who nurture a unique aesthetic and don’t follow the prevailing trends.

Before becoming a full-time member of Death Cab for Cutie, you were about the join Ray LaMontagne’s touring band.  What lead you to choose to go the other way?

I did join Ray’s touring band, and played with him for nearly a year!

Your lyrics for the album paint the picture of the struggle of being a traveling musician, relationship wise.  Do you feel as if recording Emotional Freedom Technique was therapeutic?  To help get some of those feelings out in the open?

Yes, absolutely. It’s probably the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, and that includes going to therapy! That’s a big part of why I gave the album the title it ended up with – it was an incredibly emotionally freeing experience.

You are stepping out as the lead singer/musician.  Especially after all these years being in the supportive role of the band, how does it feel?

It’s been alternately frightening, exciting, panic-inducing, and triumphant. I’m not naturally very comfortable being in the spotlight, and I’ve had to work really hard to find the confidence in myself to really do it the right way. I’ve never put lyrics out in the world to be scrutinized, and though I’ve played thousands of concerts in my life I have rarely been the focal point of anybody’s attention. That said, I am enjoying myself and its fun to have this little side solo career that I can nurture when time allows.

Was there any point when you thought about scrapping Emotional Freedom Technique because of your vigorous touring schedule?

Oh, for sure. There were several times where I’d be on a roll with recording, only to leave for a couple of months and then return to find that I absolutely hated everything that I’d recorded before I left. And after a few years of this I began to wonder if the recordings were simply too old and that I needed to start on a fresh project. I’m glad I stuck with it. I also like that these songs kind of neatly sum up a multi-year period in my life.

If you and your friends never came up with the idea to write twenty songs in twelve hours, do you think you would have ever recorded an album like Emotional Freedom Technique?

I’m not really sure! I do think that I would have eventually become interested in the recording of electronic pop music, but that game was a definite catalyst that resulted in a jumping-off point for the entire album, musically speaking.

You have been fortunate to take part in a lot of amazing things in your music career.  What is that you want to do next?

I’m very excited to be recording a new album with Death Cab later this year. And I’ve also begun working on my own next solo record. Emotional Freedom Technique is nominally a synthpop album, but I’m interested in taking some of the sounds I explored with it and just taking them as far as I can go on the next record- hopefully making something a bit darker and more avant-garde. There’s a lot of small song ideas that I’ve worked on thus far, and I can’t wait to grow them into whatever they’re meant to be.

Emotional Freedom Technique is out now via Tender Loving Empire

(Visit Dave Depper

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ORIGINS GAME FAIR, June 14-18 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

It’s Con time of year again and Ghettoblaster’s intrepid editor and gaming associate editor were thrilled to be out there in the crowds (well, maybe not always thrilled about the crowds) doing the hard and dirty work of demoing, demoing, demoing! With belly’s full of bourbon and Lan Viet’s delicious grilled pork ban mis we dove into the Columbus Convention Center once again for another amazing few days of gaming! Here’s the first of two posts of what we played.

 

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Lazer Ryderz (Greater Than Games)

Dave: Man, who gives a crap about how this game is played – look at that packaging! A Tron-like sci-fi game from out of what looks like a shelf worn VHS box set? Hell yeah! Thankfully, after you’ve spent hours dazzled by the game box and its components, getting to the rules proves pretty damn rewarding too! You’re riding your lazer bike around, leaving a trail of lethal lazer behind you and collecting power prizms for points and glory! With a similar move mechanic to Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game it seems quick to pick up on and play. Let’s go Lazer Ryding, boyz!

Kris: Excellent over-the-top 80s art direction and refreshingly straightforward game mechanics make for a perfect match here. As Dave mentioned, Lazer Ryderz takes the simple movement mechanics from the X-Wing Miniatures Game and turns it into a fast-paced race to claim Power Prizms. A healthy dose of randomness in Prizm placement ensures that every game is anybody’s game, and a relatively brief playtime makes this one a strong candidate for either a quick diversion or a lengthy tournament scene.

 

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Attack on Titan: The Last Stand (Cryptozoic Games)

Dave: Cryptozoic has finally found the perfect use for their ubiquitous cardboard stand-up! Included with almost every game from the publisher, the stand-up model for Attack on Titan: The Last Stand is the towering and terrifying titan! With multiple levels up and down the stand-up, and two more levels for the nearby castle, all but one of the players roll dice to cooperatively swing back and forth, fire, stab, and dodge their way to taking down the monster. The other player takes on the role of the titan, using sacrificed player dice to eat villagers, attack other players, and generally be a big jerk. As one of the two companies to continually surprise with their licensed games (GaleForce Nine being the other), Cryptozoic does not disappoint here!

Kris: As far as I’m concerned, this one was an early contender for cooperative game of the show. Knowledge of the Attack on Titan anime and/or manga isn’t required, but it certainly helps get into the spirit of things. I like the way each character has specific strengths that require good teamwork and communication in order to reach their greatest effect. The Titan is a constant threat, and its ability to grab other players’ dice when its face is rolled make for constant risk/reward evaluations. Licensed properties are good again? What a time to be alive.

 

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Vast: The Crystal Caverns (Leder Games)

Dave: A dungeon crawl unlike any other, Vast has players taking on the role of a knight and a thief (okay, still like others), goblins and the dragon (a little more uncommon), and… the cave they’re all in? Utilizing different goals and play mechanics for each, this really reinvigorates one of the most classic gaming themes out there. Vast is currently on their second printing, and the folks from Leder were also teasing an upcoming asymmetrical sci-fi 4X board game called Deep.

Kris: What a cool concept! This almost seems like a tool for better understanding quality level/dungeon design in games of all sorts. So rarely do most of us concern ourselves with thinking about the ecology of a game environment that when a game reminds us of such relationships we can’t help but think, “Why hasn’t anybody already done this?” Check out Vast to peer behind your GM’s screen and see just how much work they do for you!

 

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Castle Flutterstone (Lion Rampant)

Dave: Castle Flutterstone is definitely a family game. Players place lightweight bats on the bellows, line them up and then slam down to release a gust of wind that lifts their bats up to the game board. Go through the hole – move x, land on a platform – move y, first player to reach the end wins! Unfortunately the less than exact art of bellow-lifting will probably make this little more than a fun but short diversions for those without kids. Still, there are worse ways to spend 20 minutes!

Kris: I like dexterity games quite a bit. In fact, Dave and I had lengthy discussions throughout the weekend in an attempt to answer one question. “What game is this year’s Coconuts?” In other words, what game is easily-accessible for the youngest gamers but still offers enough strategy and complexity to maintain adult gamers’ interest? Castle Flutterstone may not fully meet those criteria, but it nevertheless appears to be a good time in short spurts.

 

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Paradox (Split Second Games)

Dave: I didn’t fully get the rundown of Paradox as I was in the back of a group and no amount of peeking through or wiggling to the other side really seemed to help me. That said, what I did hear (and later confirmed online) was about a cool game on a space-time disturbance that is fracturing entire worlds’ existences! As scientists trying to repair these connections in time, Paradox utilizes drafting, set collection, resource management and more. They also enlisted 15 different artists for the game, which was a cool way to showcase the vast difference of the unknown universe.

Kris: Sounds like Interdimensional Cable to me [ed note: nice Redgrin Grumble reference, Kris!]! A strong theme can either be that element that gives a game immediate curb appeal or that slowly pulls you into a bigger picture over time. Dealing with the problem of space-time getting wonky is a perfect setup for a chaotic game, and drafting is a mechanic that really jibes with such a narrative. Art can make or break a game experience, so kudos to Split Second for addressing that thematically with a myriad of art styles.

 

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Element (Rather Dashing)

Dave: For all of the promise of Element, the game did prove more than a little bewildering in our demo. Players utilize the four primal elements; earth, wind, fire and water in an attempt to trap the player counter-clockwise from them on the board. The only problem with that is as you move around the board it becomes a little hard to remember which player that was. Also, play advances counter-clockwise too, which… why not go clockwise as in almost every other game? It’s a shame these two issues proved as confusing as they did (especially because 4 colored cardboard tiles would solve one problem and omitting “counter-” would solve the other) because the different flow of elements and the rock-paper-scissors succession of elemental strength was really interesting.

Kris: Ah, how many times have I walked away from a game demo bewildered? Sometimes it’s the game itself that deserves blame. Often it’s the person running them demo’s attitude or personality that can turn one away from a game. Nevertheless, sometimes certain people and certain games don’t mix. Who knows? Element may be perfect for your gaming group. It just isn’t necessarily a good match for ours.

 

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Onitama (Arcane Wonders)

Dave: Simple rules can often make for strategically rewarding games. Taking inspiration from Chess, Onitama pits two player’s rows of four pawns and a king against each other. On their turn, players utilize one of two available moves on cards and then swap that card with another idled move to the side of the board. The next player then does the same, leaving the two players swapping between one of five available moves in a race to capture the other’s king or take their king to the other king’s starting position. No luck here, it’s all about getting out ahead of your opponent and forcing the finishing move.

Kris: This one quickly grabbed my attention with sleek, simple design and deceptively deep tactical play. I disagree with Dave in that I believe there is a single element of luck in Onitama. You don’t know which of your opponent’s two movement cards will be implemented. Enemies can be baited, but plan too far ahead or rely too much on access to that one card you desire and you’ll likely fail. A small and simple game with huge tactical possibilities, Onitama nears the top of my list at this year’s Origins.

 

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Lisboa (Eagle Games)

Dave: Designed by the creator of The Gallerist, Lisboa is a heavy Euro (and just pick up the box to see it’s heavy in every sense of the word) from Vital Lacerda – who actually walked me and my friend through his own game! #nerdout

Anyway, for Lacerda’s new game, players take on the role of rebuilding the capital of Portugal in 1755 after it was destroyed by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, and finally followed by 3 days of raging fires. In the broadest strokes possible, this is done through courting the favor of the king, the marquis, and the royal builder. With a number of different interactive mechanics, the theme still relates well in the gameplay and the art helps to break up the charts to provide a breath-taking visual.

Kris: I’ve learned something about myself as a gamer over the last few years. It’s something that could immediately reduce my gamer status to pariah in certain circles. Oh well. Time to out myself. I don’t like heavy Euro games. I won’t go so far as to say I hate them, but that style of game will always be the last I want to play. Therefore, I ask you to please just read through Dave’s thoughts again. I’ll be over here checking out some Reaper Miniatures.

 

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Three Kingdoms Redux (Capstone Games)

Dave: Capstone Games are doing the noble work of re-releasing critically acclaimed European games Stateside. They started with Arkwright and my only issue with that game is the same issue that I have with Three Kingdoms Redux – the art. It’s not that either game is particularly unattractive, but both being dense Euros the boards end up looking like a set of charts that would intimidate even an accountant. After playing Arkwright I mostly got over this, and I hope the same would be true of Three Kingdoms Redux. The theme is captivating with the unification of Feudal China (the same as with Koei’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms) and the idea of a well-balanced three-player game is interesting too.

Kris: While Dave was checking out another “dense Euro” I continued to browse miniatures. A figure with pointy ears dressed all in black approached me. “YOU LIKE REAPER MINIS?” he asked in a booming baritone. “Sure,” I replied. “IS THERE ONE THAT YOU REALLY DESIRE?” the stranger inquired. “Not really. Just browsing,” I said, slowly backing away. Who knows what wonders I missed out on by cowering away from that conversation. This wondrous stranger may have gifted me the resin model of my dreams… or he could have tied me up in a van down by the river.

 

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The Climbers (Simply Complex)

Dave: I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve got a thing for building with blocks. You add in a set of rules and turn building blocks into a game and you’ve got me completely! Adding new blocks each turn, players’ goal for The Climbers is getting their meeple to the highest point possible. Did I mention this game also comes with ladders for climbing the blocks? Ladders that can double as bridges as you build up separate towers alongside the main one? Originally released in Germany, Capstone Games offshoot Simply Complex has also increased the quality of art and components for this new edition.

Kris: You are not alone, Dave! Building blocks remind us of our early years, of simplicity and imagination. They fulfill our need for play in the most primal sense. While I cannot claim to understand the popularity of customized meeples, I certainly get their utility as game pieces. The Climbers taps into that childlike wonder of creating something you know is only temporary. There is great joy to be found in building, destroying, and rebuilding in this game. The Climbers is a sure bet for kids of all ages.

 

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Dimension (Kosmos)

Dave: We’ve established that building with blocks is fun (or at least I think so), now we get to build with balls! For Dimensions, players take from the four colored balls at their disposal to build the biggest tower possible. For each round, new rules are introduced that penalize any transgression – white can’t touch green, orange can’t be on top of any other balls, all green balls must touch orange. You’ve got 60 seconds to build the best one possible! As a timed game, this one’s all about the adrenaline rules cross-referencing as you build to maximize within the parameters.

Kris: More building. More tactile feedback. More exploration of the deepest elements of play. Dimension is another dexterity game, only this one requires quick decision-making while the timer ticks down. Building one’s creation within the strict timeframe of only a single minute adds an element of stress that drives competition and keeps us coming back for more. Stacking spheres is rarely this fun!

 

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Unearth (Brotherwise Games)

Dave: As a fan of the great phone puzzle game, Monument Valley I was immediately drawn to Unearth. It features the same unmistakably modern take on Escher-esque geometric and mind-bending art… accept the same artist didn’t do it. Potentially murky inspiration versus replication issues aside, Unearth proved to be as fun in the playing as it was to look at. Players roll D4s, D6s, or D8s to add up your claim to ruins, but low dice rolls allow players to collect stones – yet another way to earn victory points. Brotherwise Games currently has a pre-order up too.

Kris: I sincerely thought Dave was going to get litigious regarding the similarities between Unearth’s visual design and Monument Valley. I’m just relieved he didn’t cause a scene. There’s a lot of potential here, regardless of your opinion of the game’s artwork. I’m a man who enjoys rolling big handfuls of dice, so there’s an immediate appeal for me when a game uses different dice to achieve different goals. Promising!

 

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Super Show (SRG)

Dave: I first saw this game at Gen Con last year, but it was in a shared space with another developer and when I went back through for a demo the table had something way less cool being played. What really caught my eye this year was a number of cool new promo packs for wrestlers like Colt Cabana, David Starr, Johnny Gargano, Lio Rush, Kenny Omega and more. They were a little pricey at $15 a pack, but apparently the wrestlers get a rub from that – so that’s cool! Anyway, Kris is the real professional when it comes to wrestling (I’m just a not-particularly-smart mark) so I’ll let him take this one.

Kris: It’s difficult to capture the unique intensity of a pro wrestling match in a tabletop setting. Many have tried, and only a few have succeeded. Super Show actually does a great job at merging the two worlds into one. It’s clearly made by people who love wrestling for people who love wrestling. Players choose a wrestler (or tag team) and enter the squared circle. Dice are rolled, stats are compared, and cards are played. Pins are handled well too, adding a heightened intensity to every match. Excellent attention to detail makes each wrestler feel unique, and officially licensed likenesses of independent wrestlers elevate Super Show to the next level! Kudos to SRG for taking wrestling games seriously and having a hell of a time while doing so!

 

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Macroscope (Mayday Games)

Dave: Mayday Games are masters of simple and fun. Two years ago they gave us monkey flinging action with Coconuts. Last year they gave us balancing trash in an overflowing bin with Garbage Day. I’m pretty sure both games were made with children in mind, but that didn’t stop them from being two of our favorites. This year we’ve got Macroscope, which features a beautiful 3D playing board that hides simple line drawings underneath small covered holes. On a player’s turn they lift a piece and determine whether they’d like to hazard a guess at what’s the drawing underneath. Without the dexterity element of Coconuts and Garbage Day, the “simple” is laid a little too bare for this to appeal to older audiences. Still, I’m sure this would be tons of good family fun!

Kris: I love this! Macroscope reverse engineers the pixel hunt games that eat up space on smart phones around the world. Instead of looking for minute details in big images, players try to identify a simple line drawing by revealing little bits of it at a time. It’s clearly geared toward young ones, but any age group can have 15 minutes of fun with a few rounds of Macroscope. The design is clean and appealing, and there are enough images on the included double-sided cards to play for a long while before repeating the same game twice. Keep it up, Mayday!

 

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They Who Were 8 (LudiCreations)

Dave: They Who Were 8 was a really unfortunate example of demos and walk-throughs being heavily reliant on who is doing the walking-through. On our first pass, we were given a somewhat distant and very tired run down of the game, complete with a few opinions on its short-comings. Granted, it was 20 minutes before the hall closed, so I get fatigue. But really enjoying the art I went back the next day to ask again with someone new behind the table. This time we were explained a really interesting game of bards telling tales of gods! For this, players were given two god cards, one paired up with the player to their left and one paired up with the player to their right. Glory and infamy tokens get piled on each god and the goal is to be in the most glorious pairing, but being the more modest of the two gods.

Kris: A fairly simplistic game with absolutely beautiful artwork, They Who Were 8 is a cool little game. As Dave mentioned, players are bards singing of the virtues of their two gods. Bards must interact with their rivals to either side, and gobbling up all the praise doesn’t guarantee a win. Enter modesty as the game-winning quality, and you have an experience unlike anything else we saw on the convention floor.

 

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Near and Far (Red Raven Games)

Dave: Racking up a ton of awards in 2015 and 2016 for Above and Below, and having a buddy who got it and won’t stop raving about it, I was really interested to hear more about Above and Below and their new game Near and Far. Unfortunately, Red Raven Games was only offering ticketed demos at Origins and didn’t have an open copy of either game to leaf through and marvel at. From what I could gather, Near and Far is a sequel to Above and Below and is run like a campaign as players try to reach the story’s end. Maybe like a choose your own adventure meets RPG meets board game? It all sounds very novel and cool, so I hope to find out more for you (and me)!

Kris: Like Dave, I’ve only heard tales and never had the opportunity to get my hands on this one. The only thing I can say for certain at this time is that I am intrigued!

We’ll be back with part two of our review with more games from Origins!

It’s been quite the week. I don’t normally share anything personal but the intensity of this week borders on insanity. Medical issues surrounded me but everything and everyone seems to be healing, thank goodness. Situations force you to put things in perspective on occasion but as the week rolls by you have the sound of reality bludgeoning your eardrums, asking you to please pay attention. My life is filled at times with movie quotes an song lyrics because sometimes they just make sense at the moment.

That seems to happen sometimes with Lando Chill whose new album The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind (Mello Music Group) seems to be the resulting product of a systematic problem many have faced throughout the years. While his debut For Mark, Your Son was tribute to his father, his sophomore release is a rallying cry. Where group’s like Public Enemy were at the forefront of establishing a formula of noisy elements filtered in its powerful music along with Chuck D’s clear and precise imagery of oppression and revolution, rapper/wordsmith Lando Chill takes a different approach.  He wants you to take in his words, but he won’t force you to do what he says. That’s not his style. Chill wants you to comply but he’s not going to make you. “Break Them Shackles” is filled with metaphors that tells a story about an oppressed culture but he knows one thing though, and when he shouts, “We about to look good when we break them shackles one day” you know exactly what he’s referring to. It’s all set to straight-forward beat, driven by a few notes on a piano that’s infectious. “The King Of Salem” doesn’t stray far from the theme but when he mentions “…to Malcolm, Martin / and some voodoo from Wakanda / and still they call my tribe people savages…” he’s telling the story of intelligence and power that hasn’t been silenced. All this under a dark and spooky timbre of a backdrop which has a haunting bassline. Chill’s humor isn’t missed on “People Are Evil,” where he sings “All of my people are evil” and “Now why are we so evil? Why they killing all are people.” He uses this catchy laid back joint to draw on images of death because of misconception and perception. Possibly one of my favorite tracks on the album, that is until we get to “No Paz” (no peace) which has a bouncy beat that follows a Family Stone-type intro. It’s interesting how clearly his vision is expressed. It shows his anger without being angry. Lando Chill isn’t strictly about politicizing what he sees on a daily basis as “o sicario e o padre” he raps about struggle with his art and how “Everybody wants to ride that train to Basquiat / but they ain’t about that life / they ain’t never hit that rock bottom.” The gospel of Chill has been edited here where the struggle of the black man takes precedence on The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind but it doesn’t overshadow who Lando Chill is: a fierce artist who gets his point across through the imagery his words display. The album isn’t an easy listen, which it shouldn’t be. It should make you feel uncomfortable at times because as a society and as people, we’re all complex. This release holds 14 tracks; 14 powerful songs.

LandoChill

For some reason I find Terence Ryan to be quite the conundrum. Everything I’ve read about Ryan I probably would have pegged him as something different but the way this 20-something year old does leaves me confused is a good thing. Born to and raised by working class parents, this suburban kid didn’t grow up with anyone else who was musically inclined surrounding him. But that’s of no consequence because with his debut full-length Don’t Panic (3QTR/Kobalt Music Recordings), he’s on a clear path to domination. Ryan seems to have more soul in his blood than one would believe.  From the moment this album begins it reveals nothing but sincerity, hope and strength. “Mean It,” comes across as pop wonder, with so many nods to an R&B culture that came before him.  From beginning to end, even at its quieter moments there’s power within the song. When Ryan sings “I want to mean it/ Lord, give me meaning” he holds nothing back, never wavering. But the power of this one track doesn’t overshadow what follows with the remaining numbers on the album, not by a long shot. “Nothin'” trails off the path, much more laid back but brimming with so much swagger and beauty. But it isn’t as if Ryan is a one trick pony because his quieter moments are just as urging. “Just A Spark” begins with a ballad-esque feel but then morphs into a slower jam with a contained will to explode.  He’s a fascinating character that switches thing up on more than one occasion, blistering through his acoustic guitar on “Agoura CA A Particular Time In Eternity.” This is where Ryan shows his range and it’s scary. When he hits those higher notes, images of Jeff Buckley haunt me.  It will leave you paralyzingly awestruck. I want to say something negative about Don’t Panic because nothing should be so perfectly wound tight, but there’s nothing I can hold against Ryan. “Rock Bottom” showcases that same beautiful voice of his and musically there’s a play on dynamics here and songs like “To Live And Die In New England,” an ode to his home territory, shows how he can just do it all. I’m dumbfounded as to why Terence Ryan isn’t a huge star. He has the talent and the chops to take it all. The world just needs to catch up to him.

Terence Ryan

Rounding out the trifecta of releases this week is Precious Art (SideOne Dummy), the fourth release for Rozwell Kid. The album leaves the band on the precipice of its career. Some group’s have to wonder on occasion if they should regroup, press the eject button, or simply move forward and continue to write and release music.  It’s a good thing the members decided to continue because the album is rife with clever pop songs with a hook at just about every turn, which is what the kids love. Throughout the years the West Virginia act has honed its skill and there’s no argument that all four members are tightly wound together, so much so where I’m sure they know where one’s instrument ends and the other begins. But one thing about Rozwell Kid though, I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on the band. Sure they write those clever pop songs but there isn’t something that makes me want to listen to them over and over again. I’m not discounting Precious Art because it does have happy, cheerful songs that you can dance to around in your bedroom but I can’t easily distinguish this band from any other groups if I heard their songs being played on the radio. In other words, Rozwell Kid isn’t identifiable. In a line-up, I probably wouldn’t know who they were but hey, it’s a well crafted album.

photo - Emily Dubin

 

Lando Chill – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Rozwell Kid – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Terence Ryan – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Produced alongside Wes Jones featuring Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta, At The Drive-In), the release of Ritual of Mine’s Devoted landed it on many indie “Top Ten Albums of 2015” lists and for good reason. The project, primarily comprised of Terra Lopez and Dani Fernandez and that originally carried the Sister Crayon moniker, is a fiery, electronic-tinged experiment that hammers on the appropriate synapses of any self-respecting music devotee. It is equally challenging and familiar songcraft that is as deeply cutting edge as it is accessible.

In fact, eventually a major label came calling, and due to its ultra-limited initial release, Warner Bros. Records decided to remaster and re-release the album after the duo signed with the label in February of 2016 with studio legend Tom Coyne (Led Zeppelin, Adele) at the helm

The truth is, Lopez and Fernandez have been making their mark on the West Coast as electronic workhorses since 2009. After years of building a loyal fanbase in California by playing countless house shows and selling out local establishments, the duo began touring relentlessly throughout the states with the likes of The Album Leaf, Built to Spill, Antemasque, Le Butcherettes, Maps & Atlases, Doomtree and more. With independent releases Bellow (2011) and Cynic (2013), the band earned widespread acclaim for their ghostly 21st century trip hop séance of soulful vocals, heavy beats, and breathy catharsis. As of late, the band has released several remix, rework projects, that transform their music in even more challenging and beautiful ways, and are in the studio working on the highly anticipated follow up to Devoted.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Lopez to discuss everything from the rework projects, to the new LP, social activism and ’90s hip hop. This is what she told us.

Rituals of Mine have been writing the next record, right? Where are you at in that process?

We are demoing our new record right now with our producer Wes Jones. Dani {Fernandez] and I are sending him ideas, trying to write as much as we can, and then we’ll access those and see what songs we want to move forward with. Right now it is just a ton of writing.

We’ve worked with Wes for the last two releases. We worked with him on the Cynic EP we released as Sister Crayon and on the Devoted LP with Rituals. We’ve been working together for four years now. We work so well with him. He almost feels like an extension of the band and it is pretty effortless in our communication with what our vision is for the sound and how he is able to help us make that a reality. It has always been an easy decision to work with him.

Do you ever feel like you’ll get to a point where you don’t want to be in that comfort zone?

Definitely. It is funny that you asked. With the next album we are going to be working a lot with Wes, but we’ll also probably be working with different producers as well just to see how we work. That is exciting too. It will be challenging to go into a studio with someone that we don’t have a history with and to see if that even works. I do a lot of writing sessions like that. I work with a lot of different artists and write songs with them so I’m used to that. But, we are very interested in seeing how it will feel with the entire band doing that. It could be really cool.

Have you ever been in a situation that you knew wasn’t going to work?

That’s a good question. So far, no. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been in studios where we are artists and we understand each other and get each others’ visions and we create something that we both really like.

In the past, while working other projects, yes, I’ve been in situations where I worked with producers or engineers that got us artistically, but the work flow and how I like to work didn’t match up.

Did you curate the rework projects? What amount of involvement did you have in that?

Yeah. Each song was sort of a different situation. For some of them we just had pure remixes and others were more collaborative efforts so we kind of titled them appropriately. Like the one with Geographer. We worked together on that one. With the one with INDO from Dim Mak, he worked on that completely by himself and that’s a genuine remix.

We handpicked every artist. I hand wrote every artist to see if they’d be interested in working with us on this project. It has been cool to hear every individuals drastic rework and remix and it is cool to hear their takes and interpretations of the song.

Do you have a favorite?

I wouldn’t say that. I love them all. I will say that it was a real dream to work with this artist called Sin Fang. I’ve loved his work, or been a fan of his work for many years. So to work with him, and I think he killed it, was definitely a dream. Working with our friend ZAVALA who is the Chicago house producer and working with Geographer. Geographer and I were working on a ton of music so that was really cool too.

We are releasing reworks of “Devoted,” “Ride or Die,” and “Armor.” I think that will be it for now. We have a new track coming out this Summer. We are releasing a ton of stuff.

You also work as a publicist. Do you feel like being an artist in the role gives you an advantage?

I feel very fortunate that finally I have a job that is in the same industry. For so long I worked odd jobs where I felt like I had to turn myself off completely to go to work and then to turn myself on to be an artist where with this I can balance both and utilize my talents. Being able to build relationships with writers and being in the trenches every day has definitely helped. It makes so much sense. Terrorbird is a dream to work for. They are so supportive of me as an artist. It is the most content I’ve ever felt while working. For them to take me on as a publicist has just been incredible and it means everything as an artist to have that support. I can go on tour and not have to worry about finding a new job when I get back. It is definitely a massive game changer in terms of my sanity.

Have you read Amanda Dissinger’s [another Terrorbird publicist] book?

I am a huge fan of Amanda’s poetry. I have both of her books. I’m so proud that she is a friend and that she is killing it on that front. I wish I lived in New York and that I could go and attend her readings. I’m absolutely a fan for sure.

The last two years have been huge for Rituals of Mine. You signed to a major label, went on tour with the Deftones. What have those experiences been like for you?

It has been fantastic working with Warner Brothers. I had worked with indie labels for ten years so a major label was never in the cards, was never really a goal of mine. As soon as I met Samantha Maloney, who is our A&R rep who signed us, I immediately fell in love with how she is and how she moves about in the world. She’s an artist herself so we completely connected. It was undeniable to me. So far it has been beautiful. The team is supportive, realistic, and wants to develop Rituals of Mine, which is really all you can ask for from a label really.

Is it out of character for the industry to do those kinds of things?

Yeah, exactly. We’ve been super fortunate. Same thing with The Deftones. We’re both from the same hometown of Sacramento. We’ve known each other for years, but it was so special, and easily one of the best tours we’ve ever done because the guys are so sweet and so hardworking. And they really like our music, which is crazy because I grew up listening to them. Chino and I bonded and we are working on music as well outside of both of our things. Very grateful.

We’ve been super fortunate where every single artist we’ve been on tour with has connected with us in some way. Either we end up making music together, or they invite us onstage during the shows, or we end up becoming friends. So far, I want to say every tour that has happened.

What is it about working with Dani that has made that collaboration so special?

Dani has been one of my best friends for almost a decade now. I felt like we connected as soon as we met about music and what kind of music we wanted to make. In fact, I forced her to start making music with me. We’ve really developed and grown so much. Now, we’re very rarely not in sync with each other musically. We always have the same vision and it is pretty effortless. I don’t have to tell her that this is what I want a song to sound like, she’s already doing it. I feel so fortunate there to have someone in the project who is such a rock.

I imagine it is empowering as a songwriter and singer to stand onstage and know that the music is exactly what you want it to be.

That’s huge! That goes to working hard to build a team of people around you who will help to make your vision a reality. That goes into play with working with Dani or Wes Jones. If something is right you aren’t going to change it because it is hard to find those people you resonate with on so many levels.

The change in the political climate over the last year has been perhaps as terrifying for you as it has for me. How have you used Rituals of Mine as a platform for civil rights work?

The political climate has inspired our work and just us as people. So in February I created my first ever art installation, which was called This Is What It Feels Like. I presented it for the entire month of February. That brought out a whole side of me that I’ve been passionate about, social activism. I’ve been involved with different organization since I was a teenager, but I felt like I couldn’t fully express myself in the music. So doing that exhibit and watching it grow, and hosting the second exhibit at Bonnarroo, allows me to find my way to resist, to educate people, and to get my message across. I want to play a small role in making this world better and to counteract all the crazy shit that is going on.

What kind of dialogue do you want to have with your fans and audience? What do you want them to take away?

I believe in being as open as it makes sense to. I talk to fans online, I sell our merch after shows because I want to have those connections. I’ve found that our fans are so loyal, supportive and devoted. They’ve been there since the beginning or they at least feel like it and that is the kind of passion and intensity I hope resonates. That is why people feel so strongly about the project. Performing is therapy, it has kept me alive all these years, it is real for me. Maybe that resonates to them.

Is it a symbiotic relationship? What about their reaction nurtures you?

It absolutely feeds the performance. If people are screaming, singing, crying, dancing, which all tends to happen, or if they are just staring out, it is all energy that comes back to me. It’s so important; for me it is absolutely crucial. When fans give that kind of energy it changes the dynamic completely.

You are one of many artists who experiences synesthesia. Have you talked to other artists who experience that?

I haven’t. For a long time I just assumed everyone experienced that. As I got older I realized that wasn’t the case. But, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to another artist about it.

I imagine the tragedy at Ghost Ship had an impact on you?

We lived in Oakland for several years and I’d been to several shows there. I also had a lot of friends who passed away in that. Think of all the talent that was taken? It is insane to me. I feel like Oakland is still reeling from that. It was devastating.

I feel like it has had an impact on anyone who has been in a DIY art space that wasn’t necessarily up to code…

Yeah, definitely. I think that if you are an artist, you will do your art anywhere. And we don’t live in a society that is always supportive of that kind of lifestyle. To create and perform, sometimes it puts you in unsafe environments. When I lived in Oakland it was in a renovated, make shift porch space with power that was not safe. I did it so I could be in a city that made me inspired.

I think back, especially after Ghost Ship, as to how unsafe it was. As an artist sometimes you put yourself in those vulnerable positions so you can continue to create and to be inspired. It is really unfortunate. I wish the arts were supported more and that there were safe, accessible, affordable places for artists so that we wouldn’t have to compromised.

On a lighter note, you have been known to DJ and have a special love for ’90s hip hop. What is your go-to jam?

[Laughter] I play a lot of Aaliyah, Tribe Called Quest, Missy Elliott. There are so many. That is my all time favorite music to DJ. It is a pleasure to DJ any event where I can throw in a few of those tracks.

(Visit Rituals of Mine

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The One With Nice Songs and Politics

On this episode: Brian starts the episode by giving Luke an update on his butt for some reason, the dear cousins get into some deep topics touching on the Philando Castile verdict, the forgotten America, Art and its impact on empathy and the Patriarchal system of power currently in place worldwide, they also touch on pool parties, Rammstein and how much they disagree about Bon Iver (again). All while playing the eight 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.

ITUNES LINK


Songs Played on The One With Nice Songs and Politics

alt-J – In Cold Blood from Relaxer out now on Infectious Music

Twinsmith – Boji from Stay Cool out July 14th on Saddle Creek

Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper – May I Have This Dance (Remix) from Farewell Starlite out now on GOOD Music

Mr. Lif and Akrobatic (The Perceptionists) – Hose Down from Resolution out July 28th on Mello Music Group

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Last of My Kind from The Nashville Sound out now on Southeastern Records

INVSN – Immer Zu from The Beautiful Stories out now on Dine Alone Records

Son Little – Blue Magic (Waikiki) from New Magic out September 15th on Anti-

Iron & Wine – Call it Dreaming from Beast Epic out August 25th on Sub Pop

Drawing inspiration from such bands as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala, Canadian Duncan Lee worked through his one-man origins and found himself in possessionof 30 songs that seemed to exit within an insular inspiration. And it would be these songs that formed the basis of his understanding of his solo project, Impuritees. He then met with local producer/engineer Felix Fung (who was also working with The Cut Losses) and began to work through the tracks that would form the basis of his debut EP under the Impuritees moniker.

Opening with “Nothing Matters,” Lee works through a glittering pop-rock theatricality that feels distinctly ‘80s indebted. “Acceptance” finds him experimenting with a stripped down indie rock classicism that wouldn’t have felt out of place on an early record from Dinosaur Jr. Fuzzed-out bass grooves take the reins of “Speak to Me,” giving him a chance to stretch his legs and really push the limits of the sounds that he come to associate with this project. Closing track, “Easy Way,” channels the jangle and shimmer of bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and The Jesus and Mary Chain without sacrificing the natural cadence of his own creativity.

Buoyed by a history of musical adaptation, Lee has built an atmosphere of striking guitar lines, bass rhythms that pump blood to the heart of his influences and a percussive rattle that sinks into the deepest parts of his listener’s skeletons. Channeling both his extensive musical upbringing and the experiences that drove him to refocus on the trajectory of his own music, his work as Impuritees looks to expand on a pop and rock sound that doesn’t bend to accommodate any particular genre but evinces a series of unique personalities, revealing the inherent spirit and force behind his sprawling influences.

Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Lee about the self-released Nothing Matters EP, which hit the streets on June 16. This is what he said.

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

I began writing material for the EP a couple years ago. The opening track “Nothing Matters” was one of the first ones.

Were all of the songs written at the same time? Or was it more like a collection of songs you’ve written over the years?

3/4 of the EP was written about a year ago along with 20 others. I just picked the ones that would work better with each other.

The imagery to along with the release looks spiritual. Is it meant to be?

Funny you mention that. Originally, I saw that design in the stairwell of a furniture store when I was installing security alarms for a living. The company apparently had a problem with homeless people breaking in the stairwell and squatting. Anyway, the drawing in there caught my eye and I thought it would be cool imagery for the record.

Do you play all of the instruments on Nothing Matters?

Yup! It was a lot of fun. I have always wanted to do something like this so it’s perfect for a debut release.

What new artists are you listening to these days?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Matthew Logan Vasquez because he just released an album recently and it’s loaded with crazy good material. I listen to a wide variety of music like Cloud Nothings, Wavves, Joywave, Hot Hot Heat, The Growlers, Bully, Joyce Manor, etc.  

What’s next for Impuritees?

Well, I have to form a band since I recorded everything myself on that record so maybe I should start with that.

(Visit Impuritees here: https://www.facebook.com/impuritees/.)

New Jersey’s Brick + Mortar, comprised of longtime friends Brandon Asraf and John Tacon, have been building a movement. Spreading a message of empathy, positivity, and self motivation, their songs have garnered a notable history at both terrestrial and satellite radio, with singles like “Locked in a Cage,” “Hollow Tune,” and “Train,” which remained on AltNations Alt 18 for 10 weeks, peaking at #11.

In celebration of acquiring ownership of the masters, Brick + Mortar will are offering a fully remastered version of their Dropped EP cleverly called Dropped Again. The new EP features two new singles “One Little Pill” and “Great Escape.” Both singles offer a glimpse into the world and sound that will be their first full length album due out later this year.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Asraf and Tacon to discuss their friendship, battling depression, posi jams and their forthcoming LP.

You guys have known each other since age 14. Are you guys like brothers at this point? If so, who is the cooler brother?

Brandon Asraf: Tacon is definitely the coolest, I mean he exudes coolness. He has all the charm and sex appeal of Michael Cerra in Twin Peaks.

John Tacon: I wish I could be as cool as Wally. We’re brothers because on tour we fight over who gets the last hotel towel while arguing who sleeps on the air mattress.

What made it the right time to circle back to the material on Dropped Again?

BA: I’d say its timing and opportunity. We officially gained legal ownership of the EP masters right as we began recording the full length. We were approached by Believe Digital about re-releasing the EP to work it internationally. So we decided to add a couple of new tracks from the batch we were considering for the record and just went for it.

You recently dropped a video for “One Little Pill.” How do you feel about the way America deals with depression? Do either of you struggle with depression? If so, how do you deal with it?

BA: We realize that we don’t have the answer. We are merely pointing out that as Americans, we seem to want that quick fix or instant relief for almost everything. You get this feeling we were conditioned from a young age to feel this way. I struggle with depression and deal with it by expressing myself. I definitely need to work more on that part of my life, putting it in the music feels good and gives me a sense of purpose but I still feel I need to work on caring about myself and dealing with my past head on.

Who came up with the concept for the video and how did that come together?

BA: Well, I was hanging out with Richie Brown, our stage visual slingin, pee wee herman prop makin, nipple tassle swingin, goblin friend, and the plan was to find an intro clip of pills being processed and shoot the rest of the video. At the time, Trump just got in the White House and the world just seemed to be burning a little hotter than usual. While looking on the stock footage site for footage of pills and talking about news clips, we were seeing we realized how overwhelming it is to be alive today. We decided why shoot a video when we can just source it all from real life or stock footage? We knew it would have a hard time getting placed, but we didn’t care. The world is a beautiful and terrifying place.

[Brandon] had a rough upbringing. Does processing or dealing with those experiences leach into your writing at all? 

BA: Absolutely, sometimes it feels that way so much that I have to distance myself from my own past to stay fresh lyrically.

Brick + Mortar has an overall message of positivity. Which of your songs do you feel like wave this banner the best?

BA: For me, it’s “Keep This Place Beautiful”. The chorus is just very uplifting to me.

JT: Same. It’s just reminding everyone that everything could be ok if we all just try.

What are your favorite posi-jams by other artists?

BA: I am going to be honest and admit I always sing along to Sublime’s “What I Got” as I was a teenager of the ’90s.

JT: Anything ’90s hip hop makes me happy.

Is there new material on the horizon?

BA: Absolutely. We have a full length that’s close to being finished and beyond that we have songs already for the record after that. We stay writing pretty much.

What are your loftiest goals for the band moving forward?

BA: I’d say to tour internationally and become a cartoon

JT: Definitely tour the rest of the world, put out more music, and help write a movie/be in a movie.

(Visit Brick + Mortar here:

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