Tag Archive: “Featured”

Duncecap
Duncecap

Ghettoblaster has a premiere for all the “heads” in our readership; Duncecap (feat. Lt Headtrip), “Social Drinker” (prod. Kon Hathaway).

“It only takes me one drink to get drunk,” said George Burns. “The trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or the fourteenth.”

Although we’ve all had nights where we’ve got too much blood for our alcohol system, AA is no laughing matter. When your only friends are those who always seem to have a black bag on them, it’s tough to bounce back. Duncecap, a longtime director whose films showcase the candid moments of life, has never been one to compromise his message to appeal to different fans; The mellow and bitter “Social Drinker” is a perfect example of this.

In this self-directed video, we follow Dunce as he goes through a Groundhog Day like loop where every day feels like a jaded repetition of the past. Coupled with a frank verse from Headtrip, it’s a stark unveiling of the thoughts of an alcoholic and how their struggle effects the individual and the people around them. Check it out and enjoy. “Social Drinker” is available on Duncecap’s five-track FreEP, Generally Sad Songs, which is now available.

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM0PBQIYQXI

Blueprint
Blueprint

The world’s most renowned architects are likely to have a few things in common; the ability to recognize that small and subtle details can result in game-changing flourishes, and that every detail lends itself to a larger picture. Each is purposeful, whether it contributes to the strength of the foundation or the beauty of the end result.

Columbus rap artist Albert Shepard carries a fitting moniker, Blueprint, and his latest effort, the self-released Respect The Architect demonstrates only one aspect of his evolution. Ghettoblaster recently spoke with him about the new record and some other huge, game-changing details.

I first heard about you six years ago when you collaborated with the dudes in Brainbow. Can we ever expect another Brainprint collaboration or something like it?

Thanks man. That Brainbow collaboration was one of my favorites as well. Unfortunately I don’t think the band Brainbow is together anymore, but I’d always be down for something like that in the future. I was and still am a huge fan of that band so getting to collaborate with them was a really special moment. I learned a lot from them during that process.

You continued to work with Brainbow bassist Bobby Silver in some capacity too, correct?

Correct. Bobby Silver is still my guy and still plays bass for me when I do tours where there’s space enough to bring him out.

How connected do you believe that different art and music countercultures are? Is there an interconnectedness between artists working in different mediums and artists like you who are operating primarily in an independent hip hop world?

I think all art scenes are very connected.  Many of them may not know it, but when I look at Columbus I see a lot of interconnectedness. Many of the visual artists are also into music, many of the musicians have an expression for visual art, a lot of the guys in bands also grew up on hip-hop, and the hip-hop guys all have an appreciation for rock because of the sampling aspect of hip-hop. So I think they are very connected.

You are currently out on tour in support of Respect the Architect. Is your approach to putting together the live show an equally weighted pursuit to writing and recording?

Yes, it’s very similar. The challenge with any album is making sure it doesn’t come off as a collection of random songs and has a momentum and cohesiveness to it. The same challenge exists, at least to me, when I’m putting together a live show. I want my live show to have a momentum that takes the fan through a lot of different moods and emotions by the time it’s finished.

At the same time, it has to be different than the albums I put together so that it’s still interesting to them. A lot of artists and their fans are ok with just hearing the songs as they appear on record, but I’ve always wanted to give them a little more.

What were the prevailing themes you were trying to communicate on the record?

One of the main themes I tried to get across on the album was perseverance and focus. I have had many challenges on my path and I wanted to be open about those challenges, and hopefully inspire other people with my honesty.

On the title track you mention that you had a struggle with alcohol some years back and have since made the choice to be sober (which I read about on your blog too). Do you care to talk about how that experience has sharpened your focus?

Being sober has completely changed my focus and productivity, but in a way that might be different than what people think. What it did was give me completely different appreciation of time and how valuable it is. Drinking does this thing to you where you always feel like time is flying by. The more you drink, the less you remember about specific times and situations, which can be good if you have a lot of anxiety and stress. But the downside is that it makes you less appreciative of time. You end up spending five or six hours just sitting in one place drinking or doing things that don’t contribute to where you want to be in life. That time flies as well. Next thing you know you’ve got nothing to show for all that time and energy you put into drinking and years have passed.

So being sober now allows me to really appreciate time for the first time in my life. And because I appreciate it more, I try my hardest to take advantage of it every day. I know it is limited so I try to do the most with it every day.

And that came out on Weightless, which is your own label correct? How was putting this record out yourself part of a larger or more deliberate career plan?

Yes, it came out on Weightless, which is my own label. As I get further into my career, I start to understand the importance of ownership. I have put out a lot of records for other labels, but this is the first true solo album I have released myself and owned all the rights to. I think every artist should make an effort to own at least a few thing in their catalog, if they can. I don’t know the future of my next set of projects, but doing it this way has really energized me again because I’m more connected to every step in the process.

How do you balance the management of your career with making time for the art?

That’s very difficult sometimes. Right now, because this album has been a bit more successful than I thought it would be, there are a lot of things I’m getting swamped with that I underestimated. I’m in the process of bringing in people to help me out, but it’s a process and I don’t expect that to fully be in place until my next Weightless release.

The good thing is that outside of touring, I don’t really ever feel swamped. Touring only allows me an hour or two each day to handle business, which is not much at all. The rest of the time is spent handling the business of the tour. Having more business than usual is a good problem to have to I’m not really complaining about it at all. Things could certainly be a lot different.

Are there liberties, freedom or other positive catalysts that calling Ohio homebase has afforded you during your career?

The main benefit I’ve experienced from being in Columbus has been living in a city that actually supports the arts and local artists. I lived in Cincinnati from 1997-2004 and that was a huge struggle, not just for me, but for everybody around me. It was really difficult to gain momentum and support in Cincinnati, but when I moved back to Columbus all the things I was doing started to get better reception and support.

Columbus isn’t perfect, but I can’t complain about it at all. It’s small enough to not feel overwhelmed, but big enough to where you can gain a following there.

You’ve been very active in social media, embracing blogging as a form of communication.  Has that been a game changer for you in terms of building dynamic, symbiotic relationships with your fanbase?

For sure. Blogging has completely changed the way I interact with my fans. I had no idea how it would work when I started it, but I was watching a lot of the other blogs and studying them for a bit, so I knew there was potential. But now I completely see it.  At least two or three times a night on this tour, fans come up to me and reference one of my blogs, and tell me it inspired them. They appreciate the fact that I write about things no other artist is writing about. It’s added another dimension to my career and ability to interact with my fans.

You’ve also written a couple of books. Is that a natural extension of the writing you do lyrically?

I actually view the books as an extension of the blogging. I never really had the confidence to write the books until I started blogging. Over the course of a few years, where I was able to build up my confidence by writing 1,000 to 1,500 words at a time, I slowly gained confidence. And with that confidence came the decision to try my hand at writing books.

I’ve read some pretty great books by rap artists, including Chuck D’s, and some terrible ones (Busy Bone). Do you measure your writing against other rap artists?

Of course I’m a bit biased, but I’d rate my writing up there with the best of them, but not from a technical sense. I think my writing ranks high in terms of honesty and usefulness. I want to be honest and write things that people can get something out of. I read a lot so I’m not just writing the books to make money or out of obligation, but more as a natural extension of my love of literature. I just want to contribute and inspire others. As long as I can do that then I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve got many more books left in me.

Being that I’m in Dayton, I have to ask you about working with Terry Troutman?

Getting to work with Terry Troutman was an awesome experience. Just being able to drive to Dayton, walk into his studio space, and see all the platinum plaques hanging on the walls was enough. But getting to see him fire up the Yamaha DX-7 and do all that talkbox stuff live was something else. He was a true professional and I will never forget that experience. He kept asking me if I was happy with what he was doing and all I could do was smile and say “hell yeah!”

(Visit Blueprint here: https://www.facebook.com/printmatic.)

The Hawks (of the Holy Rosary)
The Hawks (of the Holy Rosary)

San Antonio pop-punk outfit The Hawks (of Holy Rosary) just announced the release of their sophomore album, What Team Am I On?, out July  via Texas Is Funny Records,

The band originally started as a two-piece, made up of childhood friends Frank Weysos and Chuck Hernandez, and takes its name from the local academy they attended together. Now with six members, the band creates high-energy, exuberant garage-pop tunes delivered with a cheeky punk attitude.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Weysos to talk about one of his favorite records, Dr. Dog’s Easy Beat.  This is what he said about it.

What is your favorite album?

Dr. Dog’s Easy Beat. Hands down.

Do you remember when you received or purchased the album?

Chuck, our bass player, gave me the CD back in 2005.

What is your favorite song on the album?

“The World May Never Know.”

What is it about the song that resonates with you?

The tones on that song are amazing. It’s gotten old at this point that everyone says Dr. Dog sounds like The Beatles…but at that point it was like, holy shit.

Have you ever covered a song from the album?

Yeah, The Hawks played “Wake Up” at a friend’s album release party. It was cool cause we printed out the lyrics and put them in envelopes. And at one point we told the audience to open their envelopes and sing along. And they did. And it was awesome.

What is it about the album that makes it stand out against the band’s other output?

Again, it’s the tones. It’s lo-fi, but damn does it hit the spot. It just sounds timeless.

Have you ever given a copy of this record to anyone? What were the circumstances?

I have given out so many copies of that album that it’s just ridiculous.

Which of the records that you’ve performed on is your favorite?

The Hawks new record, What Team Am I On? is by far my favorite record to have been involved with. It’s my best work to date.

What is your favorite song on the album and why?

I’d say “Snakes and Hawks”. We wrote the song together and everyone sings and plays on it. I also, think it’s the best sounding track on the album.

(Connect to The Hawks (of Holy Rosary) via Facebook and Twitter.)

Print issue #38 of Ghettoblaster will be hitting shelves this week!

With the mighty Atmosphere gracing the cover, we’ve also got interviews from Guided By Voices’ Tobin Sprout, Fucked Up, Afghan Whigs, Tombs, Little Dragon, Kelis, OFF!, King Buzzo, Pharoahe Monch, comedian Chris Gethard, Marvel Comics’ Mangeto author Cullen Bunn, plus a feature on the new Trailer Park Boys movie, Don’t Legalize It and the Adventure Time: Card Wars game and much, much more. There’s also pages and pages of album, book, game and movie reviews to keep you up to speed on all of what’s going on.

You can order a copy soon over here, or you can fill out this form to subscribe for a whole year’s worth of Ghettoblaster delivered straight to your door!

Enjoy!

Dot Hacker
Dot Hacker

Dot Hacker is an LA-based band featuring musicians Josh Klinghoffer (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), Clint Walsh, Eric Gardner, and Jonathan Hischke. They released their debut album, Inhibition, in 2012 and are excited to show their fans what they’ve been up to since.

Formed out of conversations between Clint and Josh whilst on tour with Gnarls Barkley in 2006, the pair each introduced one another to Eric and Jonathan. Before long, a band was formed, a record was made, and friendships were born. In 2009, amongst other tours and projects, Josh joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and began work that would make releasing and promoting Inhibition difficult at that time. Though all members are constantly working on different things, sometimes together, sometimes apart, Dot Hacker has found a way to exist.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with guitarist and keyboardist Clint Walsh to discuss three songs that inspired their forthcoming record, How’s Your Process, which is due on ORG Music on July 1. These are the songs he shared.

Deerhoof – “Zero Seconds Pause”

I remember all of us listening to “Break Up Song” one afternoon, right around the time it came out. We had just started work on the How’s Your Process records, and when we heard it, we all felt the same thing. That connection got us excited about wanting to make a good record.

Chic – “Everybody Dance”

We would sometimes take breaks from working and play this song over and over again. Different versions, too. Reggae, punk, however we were feeling at the time. Bernard Edwards rules the world.

Scorpions – The Sails of Charon

Disco Scorps! We’d blast this in the studio, and the video is equally good. I don’t think we sound like any of these bands, but influence comes in all shapes and sizes. The guitar part at the 1:00 mark is just so good.

(Preorder the record via iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hows-your-process-work/id890732239)

ORIGINS GAME FAIR, July 11-15 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

by David C. Obenour

The annual warm up for Gen Con, what Origins lacks in size it delivers in less crowded halls and less hurried play-testing tables. Having to awkwardly defend your space behind a fellow gamer for 15 minutes while they finish their play-test isn’t much fun and neither is having someone lurk over you when it is your turn to play. So taking advantage of this more laid back convention, Ghettoblaster was able to get in a whole lot of gaming! Not all of the games featured here are brand new, but they were new to us and maybe you too.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a lot more to do at Origins besides just playing games and some of our past reviews have covered all of the great food and fun that surrounds this five-day event (see Origins 2012: Day One).

But without any further ado, onto the games!

 

KAOSBALL (CoolMiniOrNot, 2014)

CoolMinisOrNot lives up to the first half of its name with the new, Kickstarter funded, Kaosball! Sure the base set with a board, rules and four teams retails for a hundred clams, but as a parental figure may or may not have told you growing up: you get what you pay for. Fantasy teams made of trolls, lycantropes, valkyries, cowboys, steampunks and more, all battle for your insatiable appetite for blood sport. Players control runners, bruisers and ringers as they fight, steal and tackle their way to possessing the ball and holding on for dear life, and points, atop of the scoring zones. Each team has their own special rules, and cool figures too, so Kaosball can potentially be a dangerous cash sink, but when you’re having this much fun…

 

RIVET WARS (CoolMiniOrNot, 2013)

2 rivet wars

Let’s time warp back a year (and to last review): CoolMinisOrNot lives up to the first half of its name with a previously successfully Kickstarter funded project, Rivet Wars! While steampunk is a pretty polarizing style, the World War I fashioned robo-minis made for Rivet Wars are pretty undeniable awesome looking. Infantry, artillery and vaguerly tank-ish looking contraptions fight through trenches and over hill and dale as provided by the nine double-sided battlefield terrain tiles. Unlike some military tabletop games, the rules are fairly uniform and simple, plus the battlefield is grid-ed out so you don’t need a tape measure for shooting or movement. Again, retail for this starting game set is $100 (though Amazon has it new for only $70) and again with a number of additional expansions with more cool minis it’s a potential cash sink… but also again, fun.

 

XENOSHYFT ONSLAUGHT (CoolMiniOrNot, 2014)

10 xenoshift

The ‘get your attention while walking through the Exhibitor Hall’ pitch is that Xenoshyft Onslaught is a cooperative, deck-building, tower defense game. For those of you not fluent in geek, that means you’re using a starting deck to acquire more and better cards, using those cards to stop your enemy, and all working together as a team. Concept-wise, Xenoshyft is pure Avatar. Humans have scoured the galaxy, seeking out resources, and in this case, are mining a planet dry of its inhabitant’s main food source. Players take the role of department heads (Med Bay, Weapons Research, Science Lab and Armory) for the company, NorTec Military. Each round a new wave of sunken-eyed, famished aliens assault the base and players must work together to defend each other and the base. It’s not easy, and you can tell the designers wanted you to feel torn about what it is your actually doing, but it’s still fun.

 

FREEDOM: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (Academy, 2012)

4 freedom

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a remarkably well-made game. For all of the mindfully-done and historically influenced mechanics that it employs, once the turn order is ran through and understood the game plays fairly intuitively. Not getting bogged down in complex decision making minutia allows players to appreciate Freedom both as a game and as a look back at a time when America was most divided. Taking on the role of historical figures from the abolitionist movement, players work cooperatively to help guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad while evading slave catchers, and work to raise funds and support for the cause. Each character has his or her own special abilities, so a smart group utilizes their individual strengths to help the team. The main possible flaw for Freedom comes with this, as it does with most cooperative games, in an overly controlling alpha player can easily takes the reigns if not checked.

 

STAR REALMS (White Wizard Games, 2014)

6 star realms

A head-to-head deck builder, Star Realms is deceptively simple and insanely addictive. Players take on the role of star fleet admirals and amass ship and base cards. Most all cards come with an alignment (either The Trade Federation, The Blobs, The Star Empire or The Machine Cult) and the more cards you’re able to play in a turn from the same alignment the more bonuses you receive – drawing more cards, additional attacks, higher purchasing power, etc. The starter set for a 2-player games is only $15. Want to add a third or fourth player? All you have to do is buy another set! There’s really not much else to say about Star Realms or maybe there is but writing about the game just makes me want to go play it again… I’ll be right back.

 

QUILT SHOW (Rio Grande Games, 2014)

5 quilt show

Admittedly, a game about competitive quilting doesn’t sound all that exciting at first but then a new game from Rio Grande sure does! Designed with the help of longtime quilting advocate and designer, Judy Martin (having published the most number of original patterns, she’s the Robert Pollard of quilting) Quilt Show is a fun little game. Players collect scraps of different colored fabric, much like collecting different colors of trains in Ticket to Ride, and use these combinations to acquire quilt square tiles of varying intricacy and point value. After a set number of quilt squares have been made, the first of three quilt shows is triggered. Players arrange their squares in patterns either different or alike, add up their quilts’ point value and ribbons and cash prizes are awarded. The fun twist here is that your unused fabric cards and quilting squares carry over to the next show, so while you might not have done well this time you’re in a much better position for the next show.

 

COPYCAT (Rio Grande Games, 2012)

9 copycat

The overall concept of Copycat matches its theme completely. Designer Friedemann Friese took all of the best mechanics from some of our favorite games – Dominion, Agricola, Through the Ages, Puerto Rico and Power Grid – and implemented them for a game about political campaigning. Benefit from and then take credit for the work of others. Perfect, right? Friese’s work isn’t completely void of it’s own inspiration though. While a lot of games can suffer from this sort of direct… copycatting, Copycat borrows enough different mechanics and uses them in a way that you never find your mind wandering to thoughts like “this is fun, but I’d rather just be playing…” or “I already kind of own this.”

 

TSURO OF THE SEAS (Calliope Games, 2012)

7 tsuro of the seas

Tsuro of the Seas takes much of its game play from the classic 2004 puzzle game, Tsuro. Players place tiles with interweaving paths, trying to keep those paths from the edge of the board for as long as possible. However, with the seas come monstrous daikaijus that add an element of randomness to play by devouring ships whenever their paths cross. The Veterans of the Seas expansion (2013) adds even more twists with Tsunami, Uzushio (Whirlpool), Taihou (Cannons) and Mystic Portal tiles. Ultimately, a lot of the original Tsuro’s beauty lay in its simplicity so Tsuro of the Seas’ variants, while interesting and beautifully designed, only clutter the concept.

 

RARRR!!! (APE Games, 2014)

3 rarrr!!

The Zombie tide has crested (or at least plateaued) and rising from the murky depths to challenge the undead’s pop-culture dominance is the mighty daikaiju. While a constant staple, over the last few years Godzilla and the Godzilla-like have been gaining more and more favor as the next big nerd theme. The aptly named Rarrr!!! starts with players building their Japanese movie monsters by drafting single syllable cards (creating fun names and divvying out electrical, toxic, radioactive and fire powers). After your monster is created another round of drafting creates your starting hand of power cards and you’re ready to clash over the major cities of Earth. Though different in its play mechanics, there did seem to be a fair amount of similarities in the look and feel to iello’s 2011 game, King of Tokyo. That said, there’s probably enough room for two hulking monsters on your gaming shelf.

Tommy Wallach 1 pc Tallie Maughan
Tommy Wallach (photo by Tallie Maughan)

I Meant It To Be Sweet is the sophomore album from Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Tommy Wallach, the first since his 2008 self-titled EP on Decca Records. Vivid and expressive, finely skirting the line between emotive and theatrical, I Meant It To Be Sweet exhibits Wallach’s storytelling abilities (his first novel, We All Looked Up, will be published by Simon & Schuster in March of 2015) while evoking the cerebral, musical pop of Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, and Andrew Bird.  I Meant It To Be Sweet is being released on Rude Fox Records June 24.

The album was recorded between Brooklyn (at the home studio of engineer and producer Giulio Carmassi, multi-instrumentalist for Pat Metheny’s Unity Group) and San Francisco (at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone). Carmassi did the majority of the arrangements, and also played everything from horns to strings to vibraphone. Ben Davis (Cuddle Magic) added additional arrangement, as well as stand-up bass and guitar. Jeremy Gustin (Albert Hammond Jr., etc.) contributed drums and percussion, Lizzy Loeb (daughter of Jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb) added sultry backing vocals, and John Vanderslice played a bit of keyboards. The result is a musically diverse yet tonally cohesive set of performances across tracks like the light-weight indictment “Cold As Christ,” the reverb-washed love song “Misanthrope,” the gypsy jazz homage “To Keep You Dancing,” and the creepy minimalism of “Whisper” (the homemade video for which was part of an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum).

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Wallach to discuss the record.  This is what he had to say about it.

When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?

Well, this is a little embarrassing. Though I did an EP with Decca Record (and a truly terrible full-length when I was still in college), “I Meant It To Be Sweet” is my first real record. And that means there are some old songs on it. Both “Homicidal Tendencies” and “Amelia Earhart” first appeared on the aforementioned terrible full-length, which means they were written about ten years ago. What a terrifying thought.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?

Definitely “Dolores Park.” I wrote it while I was living in San Francisco (where Dolores Park is located), and in the original version it was about six minutes long. It had an audience sing-along component, so when I played it live, it never felt as if it dragged. But as soon as it was recorded (at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studio–John even played some synths on it), it became clear that the thing was never going to fly in that original form. I took the tracks from Tiny Telephone to my producer, Giulio Carmassi, and he whipped up a really cool, lush Animal Collective-y version. But it still wasn’t right. The problem was the underlying structure. That was when I brought in Ben Davis (of Cuddle Magic) to help me restructure the song. We cut a verse and a chorus, created a new bridge, and basically turned it into a new song. It’s shorter and shinier and weirder, and much better.

Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?

“To Keep You Dancing” was another song that started life in a very different live incarnation. For a while, I experimented with a loop pedal (blame Andrew Bird and Feist, I guess). I wrote this song to use loops of vocals, piano, and mandolin in a sort of dramatic, maudlin love song. There’s a video of that version here, though the quality is abysmal. Anyway, I was singing it to myself one day, and suddenly the rhythm shifted in my head, and it began to swing. I realize that it had always wanted to be a swing song. So when I got the chance to record it, I went all out, even hiring an amazing gypsy jazz guitarist (Vic Wong) to play rhythm and lead guitar on it. I love the new version, though I still miss the old one sometimes.

Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Oh so many! Giulio Carmassi, my producer, also happens to the multi-instrumentalist for Pat Metheny’s Unity Group (winner of the 2012 Grammy, and many others). He played EVERYTHING at some point on this record: drums, bass, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, cellos, vibrophone, glockenspiel–and others I can’t even think of. Lizzy Loeb (daughter of jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb) sings beautiful background vocals on “Amelia Earhart.” Ben Davis plays some guitar and bass on a few tracks. As I mentioned, John Vanderslice played a bit of synth on “Dolores Park.” Jeremy Gustin, currently drumming with Albert Hammond Jr., also came in and lent his skills to some songs. Vic Wong, Byard Duncan, It’s a good group.

Carmassi, the producer, had more than input. He did the full arrangement on almost every song. In most ways, this album is a shared vision. I wrote the songs, but I trusted Giulio to create the aural landscape (that’s pretentious sounding, isn’t it? oh well.). The album simply wouldn’t exist without Giulio.

Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?

I wish I could say yes, but given that these songs were written over the course of 10 years, and recorded over the course of three years, there simply isn’t. What I can say is that they are the best songs I’ve written and recorded over that time, which means it’s like a best of record, even though it’s really my first record. So many songs didn’t make the cut–we recorded at least another album’s worth of material, much of which will never see the light of day!

Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

The oldest songs on the record have been played a lot (though a few of the newer ones have only been performed a couple of times). I’d say the best crowd reaction comes for “Whisper,” which I traditionally do as a solo song on mandolin (with audience snapping and shushing), and “Cold As Christ,” which makes everyone feel sad and lonely and introspective. And isn’t that the goal of all music?

(Visit Wallach here: http://tommywallach.tumblr.com.)

Empires
Empires

Chicago’s Empires are set to release their upcoming EP, How Good Does It Feel, on Chop Shop/Island Records on June 17. For those uninitiated, the band make romantic, arena ready rock music that flirts across genres and is stacked with earworm melodies. The EP was produced by John Congleton (Xiu XIu, St. Vincent, etc.). The track premiered yesterday on Stereogum and the EP – which was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, War on Drugs, Black Angels).

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with drummer Mike Robinson to talk about three songs that influenced the band during the creation of the EP. This is what he said.

St. Vincent, “Cruel”

The song “Cruel” by St. Vincent was a pretty big factor in wanting to work with John Congleton – There was something about the production that seemed like it would cater very well to the demos we had at the time.

The War On Drugs, “Comin’ Through”

“Comin’ Through” was a song that we listened to a lot at the time, that song will never get old to me.

Sparklehorse, “King of Nails”

The Sparklehorse song just sounds absolutely insane and is an amazing song. There’s a guitar tone in there that will melt your brain.

(Here is Empires’ video for “How Good Does It Feel”:

For more information on Empires, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Catch them live here:

6/18 – Denver, CO @ Mercury Lounge
6/20-21 – Akron, OH @ Musica
6/24 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
6/25 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
7/12 – Lansing, MI @ Common Ground Music Fest
7/16 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
7/18 – West Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy
7/21 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
7/23 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
7/24 – Vancouver, BC @ Imperial
7/25 – Spokane, WA @ Bartlett
9/6-8 – St. Louis, MO @ LouFest
10/3-5 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Festival
10/10-12 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Festival)

Loose Planes
Loose Planes

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Loose Planes formed with one goal in mind: to create catchy alternative rock that harkens back to the days when it was okay to have a little power in sound and catchiness in your hooks. Almost immediately, they bring to mind ’90s greats like Dinosaur Jr. and Sugar, yet simultaneously infuse a vibe only musicians that grew up in the current punk scene could create.

Recorded by Matt Jordan (Into It. Over It., You Blew It!, Their / They’re / There) at Atlas Studios in Chicago, IL and mastered by Will Yip (Pity Sex, Daylight, Title Fight) at Studio 4, the debut release by the band exhibits an incredible knack for writing songs that are both infectiously catchy and powerfully intense. The release only teases at their potential though, leaving the door wide open to a promising future.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Luke Schwartz to discuss their self-titled EP, which drops July 8 via 6131 Records.  This is what he told us.

When did you begin writing the material for your EP?  

“Cave” was written about three years ago and is kind of the song that started the band. Last July I asked Brent, Kyle, and Teddy if they wanted to start a band. That was the first song we worked on, and from there the others kind of came naturally.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?

None of them were too hard thankfully. The nature of our band is to just kind of go with your gut. Everyone song was recorded with only a couple takes. Not everything is perfect and that’s just how we like it.

Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?

“Cave” definitely has a couple different parts in it that the others guys threw in there to spice it up a bit.

Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Not this time. I emailed Dave Grohl and he never responded. (Dave if you read this we can try again some other time…)

Who engineered, produced and mastered the record?  What input did they have that changed the face of the record?

Our good friend Matt Jordan engineered, produced, and mixed the record. He’s very easy and comfortable to work with and understands our bands dynamic. He’s also not afraid to tell us when something sucks or could be better which is very important. Will Yip mastered the record.

Is there an overarching concept behind your new EP that ties the record together?

Yeah, sweet ass rock music that will get caught in your head. The only concept my mind can handle.

Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

I don’t think we have fans yet and if we do that’s crazy because I never thought this band would even get to this point (releasing a record).

(Stream “Licking Cement” and “Cave” from the EP via Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/brixtonagency/sets/loose-planes

Preorders for LOOSE PLANES “s/t” EP available here:
http://6131.co/looseplanes

Loose Planes are in the midst of a stint supporting Tigers Jaw and Pity Sex in the Eastern U.S. and Canada.

06/16 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer *
06/17 Boston, MA @ Middle East Downstairs *
06/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg *
06/19 Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck +
06/20 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean +

* w/ Tigers Jaw, Pity Sex, Petal
+ w/ Tigers Jaw, Pity Sex

http://twitter.com/looseplanes
http://looseplanes.tumblr.com
http://6131records.com)

Unicycle Loves You (photo by Jonny Leather)
Unicycle Loves You (photo by Jonny Leather)

Over the course of their first three records, Brooklyn-based indie band Unicycle Loves You have transformed from a jangly power pop quintet to a post-new wave quartet to a garage-psych trio into the fourth chapter in the evolution of the band: The Dead Age. Opening with an exhausted woman’s voice gasping “Oh my god!”, The Dead Age builds off of the heavier sound of Failure. Crafted meticulously, often pushing the tonal limits through a massive wall of sound, melodies explode into chaotic free falls where screaming guitars and mammoth-sized bass bend at the will of ULY simultaneously paying homage to Mascis and Beefheart.

Scheduled for release on June 10, produced by lead singer/guitarist Jim Carroll and mastered by the renowned Bob Weston, if Failure was their mission statement to add a dirty, unpolished edge to pop music, then The Dead Age is the sound of Unicycle Loves You completely dismantling it.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Carroll to discuss the record and this is what he said about it.

When did you begin writing the material for your recent album, The Dead Age

The majority of the album was written and recorded throughout the first half of 2013, but the songs “Falling Off” and “Any Daydreaming Morning” were leftover from our last album recorded back in 2011 that didn’t quite fit at that time.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?

The title track “The Dead Age” was probably the most difficult from writing to mixing to this because we recorded the drums before the song was even fully written. I only knew that I wanted it to sound massive. So we just did tons of drum takes and used what sounded best from each take. Endless hours of mixing followed. But the hardest song to mix overall was “Endless Bummer”.

Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?

We’ve developed a recording process where we build upon the demo tracks to maintain that raw feeling and to preserve whatever “magic” that might have been captured the first time through. That way all of the songs remain exactly how we set out to create them. They can also kind of take on a life of their own that way.

Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Nope. It’s all us.

Who engineered, produced and mastered the record?  What input did they have that changed the face of the record?

I engineered, mixed and produced the record myself. As with the last two of our three previous albums, I decided to stick with Bob Weston for mastering. He’s just got such a great ear for what we’re shooting for and I can always trust that he truly gets it. There have been a few reviews of this album that have said that their least favorite part of it is the mastering and then will say that they don’t like “what Bob did to the mix”. These people have absolutely no idea what a mastering engineer’s role is. They’ve probably never listened to a Guided By Voices or Thee Oh Sees album either. Bob Weston is a true master of his craft and he creates the perfect glue that binds our sounds. If you’ve got a problem with the mix, well that’s all me. Maybe they shouldn’t have wasted their money on those shitty Beats headphones.

Is there an overarching concept behind your new LP that ties the record together?

Over the course of making this album, I came across a few cliche moments where I’d find myself saying, “Fuck it, this is the last album I’m ever doing.” While that’s probably not going to be the case, it did subconsciously make for some great concepts about death throughout the whole thing. When I first played my demo of “Face Tattoo” for our bassist Nicole, she said she loved it because it sounded like zombies. Not the ’60s band The Zombies, just zombies. Capturing that feeling and shooting to get that reaction really stuck with me throughout the rest of the recording process.

Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

Yeah, once we feel comfortable with a song at rehearsal we play it live immediately. Closing our sets with “The Dead Age”, we’ve really felt a great response from the crowd. It’s a tough monster to follow. It just sounds like “the end”.

(Preview material from the album here:

“Face Tattoo” (MP3)

“Falling Off” (MP3 + Video)

“JAWS” (MP3)

Catch the band live here:

6/07 – Brooklyn, NY – Radio Bushwick (Album Release Show)

6/12 – Brooklyn, NY – The Gutter (Northside Festival)

6/17 – Boston, MA – T.T. The Bear’s

6/18 – Portland, ME – The Flask Lounge

6/19 – Winooski, VT – Monkey Room

6/21 – Kingston, NY – BSP

7/03 – Brooklyn, NY – Bar Matchless (w/ SWF)

7/11 – Pittsburgh, PA – Thunderbird

7/12 – Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub

7/14 – Chicago, IL – Township

7/17 – Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews

7/18 – Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge

7/19 – St. Louis, MO – FOAM

7/22 – Nashville, TN – The Basement

7/23 – Dayton, OH – Canal Public House