Tag Archive: “In The Red Records”

Another week has flown by and as everyone hits the reset button getting over last week’s SXSW, we’re all inundated with a multitude of emails and phone calls. It’s another week of avoiding people you really don’t want to speak to and playing catch-up with the real world you didn’t want to deal with. That’s not to say the hypocrisy we’re all faced with when someone places your face to your name, buys you drinks and then acts as if they’re clueless when you hit them up won’t continue post-festival, it’s just a way of industry life. But we’re all just trying to get a grip on reality here. With that said, three weeks out and I was finally able to see Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final hurrah as the Wolverine. I know I mentioned it last time but fuck it, I can mention it as much as I want really. The film was a smoker, no spoilers here, just a great story and lots of necessary violence. But regardless, that’s not what we’re here to focus on now is it? Nope, we have other things that need your undivided attention.

It seems like today we’re taking a look back at musicians that aren’t positioning themselves for a comeback by releasing new material that’s long overdue. The late 80’s saw the birth of Pavement, one of a handful of groups that set the standard, like Sebadoh, for what many believed “indie rock” truly was. The group did create a template for others to follow suit; so long as you had good songs, you could record them with a not-so-perfect aesthetic and rock out. When the group dissolved back in 1999 both founding member Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg continued to record music, Malkmus with his band the Jicks and Kannberg with Preston School of Industry. Malkmus was the one with much more notoriety but it shouldn’t downplay Kannberg’s releases.

I’ve never referred to Kannberg by name but always by his alter ego Spiral Stairs. I’m grateful to see him back in the fold with his second solo release under the SS moniker. Doris And The Daggers (Nine Mile Records/Domino) is his first release in 8 years, following up his 2009 solo album The Real Feel (Matador). He admits life got in the way of music, which is why there’s such a hefty break between album releases. Family will do that to you. But it seems after living in Australia and then moving to Los Angeles, the feel and timing was perfect. And it’s even better for old and new fans. There’s an energy that’s bursting through the new album and it’s apparent although there are moments that give a hint of nostalgia. The album is rife with grooves that will either keep you swaying or a captivating beat that’ll have your foot tapping along in unison. But the songs here aren’t about creating a new genre or sound but about updating a rock universe with good fucking songs (the expletive was necessary.) The opening “Dance (Cry Wolf)” hits on a rhythm and capitalizes with it. The simplicity of three-chords can always turn into something that sounds intricate if put together correctly and done with ease. As I randomly volley from track to track, it’s “The Unconditional” that I keep coming back to, where Spiral Stairs sings/speaks lyrics about what else? Unconditional love. It’s something most parents will be able to relate to. His words resonate as he takes real life family situations and puts his spin on it.

Spiral Stairs - Doris And The Daggers
Spiral Stairs – Doris And The Daggers

But it’s “Emoshuns” where the nostalgia comes into play, or it’s possible that the song is just done the ‘Spiral Stairs way.’ It’s reminiscent of Pavement, or even a Preston School-type arrangement in song structure. It’s pretty monotone but catchy.  It leads straight into “Dundee Man,” clearly swirling around his days living down under, with an underlying keyboard lying just under those guitars. Here’s where the nostalgia comes into play as well: as it ends with noodling that could be found on an album by another group on the come up as well.  It’s just a few seconds but he makes it his own. It’s easy to fall in love with this album just based on a few tracks but that’s not to say you shouldn’t listen to it from beginning to end. “AWM” is another standout with strings but songs like “Mothers Eyes” and the title track will keep you coming back.

Boss Hog is a name that I never thought I’d ever mention again unless referring to it as a throwback because well, you’d think Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion) is the only one there with a hankerin’ to release music. That isn’t the case though because the Hog is back! Christina Martinez and Spencer, her sideman/husband, along with drummer Hollis Queens, bassist Jens Jurgensen and keyboardist Mickey Finn are back again dishing out their brand of punk blues as only they can. I was doubtful before putting Brood X (In The Red) through the wringer but guess what? It’s like these fuckers never stopped playing. The band rattles off track after track of searing numbers. “Billy” is completely draining, musically storming through with a singular vision: to destroy and tear shit up! When Christina sings “Billy’s on fire /  Feet on the ledge / The brink of destruction / The brink of desire” you get the sense there’s only one way out of this melee. There’s no slowing down for the band, which becomes obvious on “Ground Control” where the band filters in some organ when Spencer occasionally maniacally shouts after Martinez’s lyrical bursts. The band brings in that heat, especially when Hollis Queens sounds like she’s the reason Chuck D once rapped “Hear the drummer get wicked.” There are a number of high peaks going through this album, like “Signal” where the rhythm is going to hold onto your senses, and randomly have them flaying along the sides of your skull. When Martinez sings “The I.R.T.,  the 4-5-6 to the 1-2-3” you can only imagine the grime in New York City’s underground. By the time you get to “Rodeo Chica” the mood changes as the bottom end caves in under the weight of the sludge the group is carrying. They speak another language here albeit briefly. “Venga chica con mi” doesn’t seem off here. The 10 blood curdling tracks that comprise Brood X just may bring the band to the top again.

Boss Hog - Brood X
Boss Hog – Brood X


TITD - Vinyl Cover-FINAL6
Today Is The Day – Temple Of The Morning Star

Last but never least is Today Is The Day, that metal band that throughout the years has been difficult to classify. Why? Steve Austin and his merry band have sometimes reworked their instruments in a number of different ways with each subsequent release.  Throughout the course of the group’s 25-year existence, it has gone through a multitude of changes, leaving Steve Austin as the only constant member. The band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Temple Of The Morning Star (The End Records) by re-releasing the album in a deluxe edition form. That’s 17 songs with an additional 4 tracks of demos.  The album is a blistering indulgence of sonic energy. Yes!


Boss Hog: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Today Is The Day: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Spiral Stairs: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

It’s Boss Hog’s first album in 17 years and it seems Brood X is continuing where the band left off. The band is known for impressive live performances, leaving no instrument un-abused on stage.  Led by Cristina Martinez (ably assisted by her faithful sideman/husband Jon Spencer, as ever playing Flavor Flav to Cristina’s Chuck D), Brood X feels less like the work of a group who’ve been on ice for so long, more a slithering and sludgy monster of an album, a boiling pot of hot funk keys, growling punk attack, searing blues breaks and the ground-shaking holler of Martinez.

On hiatus since they finished promoting 2000’s icy, wonderful ‘Whiteout’ album, Boss Hog began stirring again late in 2008 with the first of several short runs of shows. “We’d play a handful of shows, once a year,” Martinez remembers. “Festivals, the Amphetamine Reptile 25th Anniversary party, some benefit shows.” Things started getting serious a couple of years later, when the Boss Hog all-stars – Martinez, Spencer, bassist Jen Jurgensen, drummer Hollis Queens and keysman Mickey Finn – decided this reunion habit was worth committing to wax.

Cooked up in the same Lower East Side basement where Boss Hog brewed their first blistering noiseouts, and cut at Michigan’s Key Club Recording Company on the same Flickinger N32 Matrix console Sly Stone used for There’s A Riot Goin’ On, ‘Brood X’ is serious music for serious times, the perfect soundtrack for a necessary revolution.

The album drops on the In The Red Records on March 24.

The One Where Brian is a Dummy

Buckle up, because you are now entering the DOOM TOMB.  After an odd and menacing introduction, things calm down a bit and the LaBenne men talk about how dumb Brian is (on a couple occasions,) participate in a Neil Young Showdown, Luke gets spooked out by a song and Brian’s new catchphrase is actually somewhat successful with Luke this time!  It’s a decidedly goofy episode for the ages.  So sit back, relax and get ready to hear Best Song Ever.

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


Songs Played on The One Where Brian is a Dummy

Cloud Nothings – “Internal World” from Life Without Sound out January 27th on Carpark Records

Hideout – “I Got Your Message” from So Many Hoops/So Little Time out February 3rd on Small Plates Records

Xiu Xiu – “Wondering” from FORGET out February 24th on Polyvinyl Records

Tyvek – “Real Estate and Finance” from Origin of What out now on In the Red Records

Generationals feat. Sarah Quinatana – “In Green (Volcano, I’m Still Excited!! cover)” from Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl out now on Polyvinyl Records

Carla dal Forno – “Fast Moving Cars” from You Know What It’s Like out now on Blackest Ever Black

Mikko Joensuu – “No One Knows” from Amen 2 out December 16th

Ty Segall – “Orange Color Queen” from Ty Segall out January 27th on Drag City

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

Outkast – “Humble Mumble” (Stankonia, Arista Records) 2000

“Humble as a mumble in the jungle of shouts and screams” serves as both the hook for Humble Mumble and a good descriptor of the songs place in Outkast’s output. Stankonia is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and contains “B.O.B,” “Ms. Jackson,” and “So Fresh, So Clean” so it’s easy to overlook “Humble Mumble” in relation to the album as a whole, even though it deserves to be in the same conversation as those seminal hits. The song has so many quotable lines it seems unfair, from the introduction of “The funky engine that could” and asking “what’s your locomotive” to Andre 3000 saying “don’t discrimihate til you done read a book or two” to a critic who “thinks hip hop is only about guns and alcohol.” Lyrically it’s just a really fun song and it follows suit musically as well. It’s a song done in three movements, which are distinctive but still very cohesive as they all eventually blend together. It’s absolutely a song only Outkast could’ve made and I haven’t even mentioned that it features Erykah Badu yet, which is a treat all in itself.


Fleetwood Mac – “Storms” (Tusk, Warner Brothers) 1979

Tucked into Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s most experimental album, “Storms” is a song that is easy to overlook. It’s a serene and heartbreaking song of lost love over a simple folky guitar sung wonderfully by Stevie Knicks. Yet, as is the case with Fleetwood Mac’s best songs, nothing is as simple as it seems. The chorus of “Storms” features some of their best harmonies, which is really saying a lot for this band. Slowly over time percussion and organ build ever so subtlety, resulting in an absolutely beautiful song. On the surface the lyrics seem to be your standard lost love song fare but Knicks’ emotive delivery packs more and more of a punch as the song goes on. Everything culminates together as Knicks sings: “But never ever been a blue calm sea / I have always been a storm” repeating “always been a storm” several times with each time more powerful than the last. Listening to this song is like sitting on a deck watching a slow storm roll in over an otherwise peaceful lake.


Matmos – “Tunnel” (The Marriage of True Minds, Thrill Jockey Records) 2013

Matmos has made a career out of gimmicks. This isn’t a negative thing by any means as their gimmicks have mostly paid off. They make experimental electronic music and normally operate within some put-upon-themselves framework for each album. They have an album built around sounds from surgical procedures, another inspired by old instruments and sounds that wouldn’t sound too out of place at a Renaissance festival and most recently an album made almost entirely out of sounds from a washing machine. The Marriage of True Minds, quite possibly their strongest album, took on a strong framework, yet is by far the most abstract they have worked within. They had people go into a sensory deprivation chamber while they transmitted the theme of the album to the subjects telepathically. They would then interview the subjects asking them what they heard or saw. Some would hum melodies, some would describe images and they took these recordings and based an album off of them. It’s a fascinating listen with some absolutely stunning songs. “Tunnel” is an obvious standout track even without the backstory of how it was conceived. Didgeridoo is set atop pulsating rhythms, bombastic funky guitar sounds and screeching synths in a truly fantastic way. Towards the middle of the song a male voice recording taken from the interview after one of the sensory deprivation sessions whispers “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel … But it isn’t daylight”, giving the song an absolutely chilling vibe as it continues.


Tyvek – “Wayne County Roads” (On Triple Beams, In the Red Records) 2012

People who have never had the pleasure of continuously having to drive in Wayne County Michigan really have no idea how cathartic it is to listen to a song that yells “Wayne County Roads” over and over as the chorus. They are quite terribly painful to deal with. Tyvek is a great five piece band who makes straight up rock music, which is refreshing in a time with so many genres and subgenres. The song is built around a couple of Television-esque catchy guitar riffs. Again, this is just great solid rock music from a totally Midwest band who has been making under known music for years. On the surface this is a pretty simple song about the roads that take you home but nothing in Wayne County is quite that easy.


Ty Segall, Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw and Charles Moothart of Fuzz share new single “Needle Trade Off” ahead of the self-titled debut from their new band GØGGS, out July 1 on In The Red Records.

GØGGS have also added a second night in Chicago at Empty Bottle on July 20 (tickets here) following their first night at the venue on July 19. Other dates include two nights in Los Angeles (GØGGS’ first-ever live shows), and dates in San Francisco and Brooklyn.|

GØGGS Tour Dates

07/15 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo & Echoplex [tickets] *

07/16 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo & Echoplex *

07/17 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop [tickets]

07/19 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

07/20 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

07/22 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC [tickets]

* In The Red Records 25th Anniversary