Tuesday, May 21, 2019

BLASST 92: L@s Skagaler@s - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 92 TRACKLIST
1. The Contraceptors - "Y So Salty?" 2. Carmen Fria - "123 Fuck CPCs"
3. L@s Skagaler@s - "Cunt Love"
4. L@s Skagaler@s - "2 Tales of the Working Class"

LISTEN ON MIXCLOUD
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NOTES: As you'll hear in today's episode, L@s Skagaler@s and I have a bit of a history. The band—a political powerhouse of a ska group—first appeared on the scene in late 2012 and quickly became one of the most popular groups in the Valley, turning every show they've ever played into a massive dance party (most notably their packed debut EP release show at Yerberia Cultura in 2016). Even though I may not be the biggest fan of modern ska myself, I can still acknowledge the skill and power with which this group creates their music and how much joy it brings to their audiences. 

Along with being incredible musicians, the band is also heavily involved in local reproductive justice activism, and has become well known for their yearly Skank 4 Choice benefit shows, which raise funds for local non-profits that help provide access to abortion services for those who need it. L@s Skagaler@s have proven themselves to be a band of action, and it is with that in mind that the band returns from a hiatus to headline this year's fourth Skank 4 Choice benefit, which is happening on Saturday, May 25th at Yerberia Cultura. To further illustrate the situation at hand, members of the group have also worked together to produce an EP, Tales from the Border, featuring songs by Carmen Fría (of the Skags & formerly Caldo Frío) and new group The Contraceptors, which will be self-released at the benefit show along with a zine.

On today's episode, I sit down with the band (all 8 of them) in a tiny room and talk about their story, Tales from the Border, their departure from and return to the stage, the attack on choice that is underway in this country, and how the band plans to do something about it! 

Most heroes don't wear capes, but in this case they totally make music!

-A

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

BLASST 91: THE OBJECTS - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 91 TRACKLIST
1. Pinocchio - “MY TIME VOL. I”
2. El Ultimo Sueño - “El Silencio De Los Cisnes”
3. The Objects - “Taboo”
4. Wurve - “Blowout”
5. Musta Paraati - “Hyvää Yötä”
6. The Cure - “One Hundred Years (Live)”
7. The Objects - “Regression”


KBYL (Know Before You Listen): Today's conversation contains a brief story of sexual assault from 18:08-19:50. Feel free to skip past that if it may make you uncomfortable.
 
LISTEN TO THE SHOW

NOTES

Today's episode brings us a conversation with two-thirds of Brownsville's leading post-punk group, The Objects. I sit down with Fernie De La Garza and Xavier Castañeda to talk about their upcoming debut LP, Playground, which the band will be releasing themselves on a run of 100 cassettes this Friday, May 17th. The album is an exhibition of the band's development over the past year into a solid post-punk unit and songwriting trio. On today's show we feature two tracks from Playground, the lead single "Taboo" and the as-of-yet unreleased cathar-tune "Regression".
I've known Xavier Castañeda for a few years now, his old bands and my old bands used to play shows together somewhat often, my favorite show being the night in June of 2013 when both our bands opened for Destruction Unit when they came down to McAllen. 

From L-R: Fernando De La Garza, Xavier Castañeda. Photo by Andres Sanchez.

A note from the corrections dept: Three Rose Charm is actually from Denton/Fort Worth, TX, not Houston as I say in the episode when we're talking about how the band is going to play San La Muerte Fest. TRC are still amazing and you should absolutely listen to them and buy their new album when it's out.

Be sure to attend the band's LP release show this Friday at the Carlotta Petrina Cultural Arts Center in Brownsville which features support from Austin's Wurve (who we also play on the program), Xavier's other excellent band Cutters, McAllen's hardcore slapshot Pussyfooter, and Harlingen's noise-pop scientist Pillowsnake, who I've been trying to see for the better part of a year now. Spinning music between sets will be Small Vortex, who I am still indebted to for introducing me to the greatness that is Jun Togawa a couple years ago. The show's being put together by BAM, so you know it's gonna be all-ages, and the cover's $7. Come down and say hello! Brownsville shows are always the best.

-A

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

BLASST 90 - JESIKA ESPIRICUETA - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 90 TRACKLIST
1. Ranil y Su Conjunto Tropical - "Las Oleadas"
2. Hooded Fang - "Ode to Subterrania"
3. La Femme - "La Femme Ressort"
4. Archy Marshall - "Eye's Drift"
5. Broadcast - "Tender Buttons"
6. Connie Converse - "Playboy of the Western World"
7. Helado Negro - "Pais Nublado"


LISTEN TO THE SHOW

NOTES:
Jesika Espiricueta is one of the most hard-working artists I've ever met. Whether to acheive her musical dreams or build a vintage clothing company from the ground up, Jesika has poured every ounce of her energy into what she does. It's a dedication that you have to respect, especially considering how much she has been able to achieve despite facing some of life's most challenging obstacles both in her work and at homel. 

In 2016 she released her first EP, Hora Mística, which I consider her creative thesis statement; both a demonstration of everything she's learned and experienced in her first four years as a musician (a lot), and a sign of dreams to come. Following a whirlwind of a weekend opening for Mitski and Helado Negro on the Texas dates of their 2017 summer tour, Jesika began work on her ambitious first full-length album, Cardboard Angel, which was released last summer. 

Today, she is working on new music while also running Trash Brat Vintage, a rapidly growing company she started at the same time she began playing music. Her vintage discoveries (which she customizes) have taken the world (literally) by storm, as we discuss in today's conversation. I've known Jesika for a long time, so this conversation was one of the more comfortable I've had on the program, and perhaps you will be able to tell. We talk about everything from music to clothes to touring and our collective journeys as fans-turned-haters of Austin's premiere corporate music festival, SXSW. I missed so many opportunities to ask about a million other things, but perhaps Jesika will return to the program at a later date, where I can do so.

Please enjoy this conversation, I sure did. 

You can listen to Jesika's music here, and buy her vintage clothes here.

- A

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

BLASST 89: The Exterior Process - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 89 TRACKLIST
1. Mr Twin Sister - “Twelve Angels”
2. David Bowie - “Five Years”
3. Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos - “Will You Love Me Forever”
4. Los Blenders - “Ha Sido”
5. Metronomy - “The Bay”


LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

NOTES: Can you say #crossover? In honor of Avengers: Endgame's recent release in our current timeline, this episode brings BLASST's 80s to a close, and what better way to do so than with a visit by the RGV's newest up-and-coming podcasters, The Exterior Process! These three guys are building a show from the ground up on nothing but their intuition and creativity, and for that, I commend them. With a strong connection to the RGV music scene (Amaury and Andrew both play in bands, and Jorge goes to a lot of shows), that seems to be where this endeavor is finding it's start. TEP has featured conversations with bands, local promoters and ding dongs such as myself, all in the name of giving the people* aka the music scene aka the RGV a closer look at people doing things in their neck of the woods. I find that goal admirable, honestly, and wish these guys had been around 10 years ago when I first got into the scene. Sadly, they were not, but fortunately, they are here now and show no signs of stopping. Our conversation moves from the mundane to the paranormal in a matter of minutes, a master class in "chopping it up with  the homies", and even finds yours truly in the hot seat once again as the guys turn things around and send a few questions my way, even though it's my damn show. What can I say, the gesture is a welcome one. These three guys are young, have a lot of energy, and are more than willing to put a fraction of it (youth is a precious energy in the universe, a drop of it can power a whole city for a day) toward their program and I, for one, am grateful. Check out the episode above!

- A

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

BLASST 88 FOR SRI LANKA - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 88 TRACKLIST
1. Claude & The Sensations with Noeline Mendis - "City of Columbo"
2. The Fortunes - "Instrumental Baila Medley"
3. Independent Square - "Fade Away"
4. Tomcat and Magnum - "Emmental Dreams (feat Toc Toc Baya)"
5. Nu Age of Lau - "Libr(a)ries, Forests"
6. Jayanga Nanayakkara - "Damocles"
7. Asela Perera - "DESIGN"
8. Xacin - "Militia"
9. Wordsmith - "Pattie"
10. Wordsmith - "Self Portrait"
11. Wordsmith - "Shahdab"
12. Frantic Noise & The Pan Piper - "Golden Brown"
13. සතර අස්ථික - "Four Swinging Arms"
14. Baliphonics - "Analysing The Coconut"

15. Indrani Perera - "Eka Dawasak"
16. CT Fernando - "Ma Bala Kal"


LISTEN TO THE SHOW

NOTES:
This past Sunday, just two days ago, people of the fairly marginal Christian population on the island nation of Sri Lanka were celebrating Easter. At some point during the day, the festivities were interrupted by massive explosions. Several suicide bombers, apparently connected to the Islamic State, targeted several churches, Christians and spaces occupied by citizens of enemy states, killing (as of this morning) 321 people, and injuring around 500. It's absolutely devastating to read, and so I decided to make an episode of exclusively Sri Lankan artists out of solidarity with the nation, and to showcase the diversity of their music community. We've got everything from abstract electronics and folk to power electronics. It's kind of wild. 

While looking up tracks for the show, I came across this great compilation of 60s-70s pop/rock tracks from both the Sinhala and Tamil peoples of Sri Lanka that has some absolute gems:
 

While the most easy to find music from the island nation was the traditional vocal-heavy kind, the type of stuff people relegate to "World" sections in Western record stores as a means of both validating the music and otherizing it at the same time as being "foreign", I decided to not follow that same path with this show. Part of what Western listeners do to art that comes from other countries and is made in other languages is we partition our value for that work, and only acknowledge it from this perspective we can more immediately comprehend as something that we don't understand, but exists. It doesn't necessarily endear the country or it's artists to us, but it acts as a surface-level appreciation on our end—a participation prize. Well, I figure "fuck that". I opened up Bandcamp, a modern music hosting platform, to see what the kids of Sri Lanka are up to, and from what I can tell by the uploads I came across (I have no contact with the Sri Lanka scenes nor would I know where to begin about finding one at the moment) they really like electronic music and metal. Those are the two most prominent genres, and they both take things to extremes. For example, the track I play in the middle of the show is off a Psytrance compilation released by the Sri Lankan label Atman Records, and that comp it's on is one of at least 20 different compilations of electronic artists, both from and outside of Sri Lanka. As for metal, the label Raavan Kommand gathers a host of black metal, death metal, and borderline harsh noise/power electronics artists from which to choose from. Quite interesting. 

There's folks trying their hand at pop music, hip-hop, as well as a scattered few individuals playing everything from indie rock to folk and prog rock, and even some weirdo abstract electronic musicians. All in all, it was a fun journey through these musicians' work, and I believe I will be returning to some of these artists in the future, especially Wordsmith. I hope to come across more Sri Lankan musicians and learn more about what they have going on out there, and I wish the country the best as they mourn their lost loved ones and recover from this recent tragedy. 

-A

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

BLASST 87 - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 87 TRACKLIST
1. Tera Terra and the Plasma Mullets - "Plasma Mullet"
2. Lightning Bolt - "The Faire Folk"
3. TV On The Radio - "Robots"
4. Grouper - "Second Wind Zombie Skin"
5. OOIOO - "ATS"
6. Cyriak - "No More Memory"
7. X Japan - "Art of Life"


LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

This episode dives deep into my old hard drives for music I listened to (and somehow acquired) from 2002-2008, a period of time before I knew what Facebook was, before the Internet became something to escape from, and was itself the escape from the rest of the world. With the infinity of the Internet at my fingertips, I tried to soak up as much as I could about anything I could find. Hours spent looking up bands, random obsessions, anime fandoms, obscure facts and happenings—the internet had it all. This period of time begins before I knew what social media was. My parents got me a computer for my 12th birthday, and later that Christmas, a CD burner. This led me away from chat rooms  and into the world of P2P programs, where a majority of this episode was uncovered. If I couldn't find songs hosted on websites, I turned to whatever program I was using at the time (I think the longest-running for me were Shareaza and Limewire). Once the P2P well dried up, I turned to music blogs, which took me back through the browser/looking glass and into the wild west of the Internet. I made a lot of internet friends this way, and less so once I actually joined social networks. My first was MySpace, then Live Journal (it's usually the other way around for people, I think), and then Facebook. From that point on, things took a turn for the worst. I am thankful that I was able to shape my tastes and creative values before they were directly tied to metrics and marketing. Let's talk about the music I played today.

The opening track, "Plasma Mullet" by Tera Terra and the Plasma Mullets, is a joke song by a joke band formed by Linde, Burton and Mige of the goth-rock group HIM. I was a big fan of HIM leaving junior high and heading into high school. So much so that I looked up every last bit of information I could about the band, pouring over personal information about the members that somehow made it onto the most intrepid of fan websites. Somewhere in that wormhole, I found many of their side projects, most of which involved the vocalist Ville Valo, but every so often, a project would pop up that involved less visible members of the band. This was one of them. I know nothing else about it's creation, or what became of TTPM group, but if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say this was recorded sometime between their albums Razorblade Romance and Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highights, at which point they were already huge stars in Europe and could basically do whatever they wanted with themselves in their free time.

Lightning Bolt - "The Faire Folk" 
I first heard about LB through some friends in high school. I was invited to hang out at one of their houses and one of the older kids pulled out a live DVD of the band and the scene was unlike anything I'd ever seen: a man wearing a home-made mask with a microphone built into it slamming on a drumkit while seated in front of a tall bass amp, a bass player standing next to him, looking unusually calm considering that they are surrounded by a mass of thrashing people, torn between watching the band and letting themselves swirl into oblivion like the beings in Fantastic Planet. Later, once I'd dived into music blogs around 2010, one blogger I followed posted that he was selling some records to make some money and included a list of everything for sale. I ordered several choice LPs, but the ones that actually arrived were Liars' Drums Not Dead, Pre's Epic Fits, Woods' At Rear House & Songs of Shame, and Lightning Bolt's Wonderful Rainbow. From there on out, I dove headfirst into LB's terribly magical world. 

TV On The Radio - "Robots"
This is an early demo from the band's first release, the OK Calculator EP, which the band (at the time a duo of Tunde Adebimpe and Dave Sitek) recorded on a four-track and left at random places, never assuming it would amount to much. It still hasn't, but the band itself has grown into a beautiful thing over the past 16 years, and it's always nice to look back at your goofy origins. Every band has them.

Grouper - "Second Wind Zombie Skin"
I first heard about Grouper from a Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup, back in 2009-2010—I forget which. I heard Way Their Crept and dug up everything I could on them. I never got to see them play at FFFF, so I wouldn't learn they were a solo project for at least another 5-6 years. By this point I was starting to keep a special eye out for music that leaned more avant-garde than anything else.

OOIOO - "ATS"
I forget exactly when, but one day I came across a lot of different Japanese artists, Boredoms, Merzbow, Boris, and OOIOO being the most notable, and tried to track down all of their music. Their styles were all so different and radical that I was consumed with learning as much as I could about them. It took me a long time to wrap my head around their music, especially with no real understanding of music outside of it's traditional forms of execution (including punk, metal, and so on). 

Cyriak - "No More Memory"
This fucking song. I must have watched this compilation of Cyriak's animation work a million times. In the early days of YouTube, this video went viral and made it onto thousands upon thousands of computer screens, simultaneously scarring people and leaving them with this golden earworm to coat the disturbance. I have little to say about this track that the video couldn't say for itself, so here you go:


X Japan - "Art of Life"
After drifting away from my obsession with HIM, in high school, I became obsessed with this band. After hearing about them from a friend in high school who was knee-deep in the world of Visual Kei, I looked up all their releases, downloaded as many videos as I could find, and put them on almost every mix CD I made for myself in high school up until my Junior year. Not only did they rock harder than most of the American bands I knew, I was also captivated by the way they pushed the ambiguity of their gender to new visual heights, turning them into figures beyond the world's binary, hetero-normative comprehension. This was an entirely new idea to me at 16. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I believe that a large part of their art, specifically from the influence of bandleader, drummer, and primary songwriter Yoshiki, is influenced by a non-binary perspective, in all of it's joy as well as it's suffering. It's with this in mind that I look back at this particular song today. It is a meditation on life as a challenge, and unfolds in appropriately epic fashion. The track has a second meaning to me (it's original meaning before I knew more about the gender spectrum as a young person) and that is as a tribute to the band's fallen lead guitar wizard, Hideto Matsumoto (shortened to "hide") who took his own life in 1998, bringing an immensely successful solo career to a startling close. The band still plays footage of him playing along with them at their concerts and even lets him handle some of the key solos, with guitarists Pata and Sugizo backing him up on rhythm and harmonies, and I think that's pretty cool. If you want to see them play this epic monster of a song, look no further: 
(hint: Hide's got the biggest hair of the bunch)



I credit today's theme to Wrong Box, a computer game created by Molly Soda and Aquma, which plays heavily with 2000s internet nostalgia in a way that deeply impacted me. So much so that it made me think back to that time, when things were simpler—or perhaps, complicated in a way I was not aware of yet. It was a period of time where ignorance was the price for bliss by way of exposure to new information. Not knowing something meant you still had the opportunity to know it, at some point, and that possibility meant a lot to me. It filled me with wonder. I felt that same wonder (and possibly fear, let's be real) while playing Wrong Box. I think the fear may have been associated with the quiet and abstract nature of the game, which reminded me of those early jump-scare websites that led you down simple puzzles to a brief flash of something terrifying paired with a shrieking sound cue or something like that. But that never happened, and I completed the game despite my fears because I wanted to see where it went, my curiosity was piqued, and at the end, my ignorance was rewarded with bliss. A rush of feelings, things I hadn't felt in a long time. Play the game if you can, and be sure to pay for it.

- A

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

BLASST 86 - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 86 TRACKLIST
1. The Ex - "3:45 AM"
2. Delinquent Habits - "Tres Delinquentes"
3. Lio - "Amantes Solitarios"
4. Wire - "Our Swimmer"
5. Witch - "Anyinamwana"
6. Thomas Mapfumo - "Pfumvu Pa Ruzevha"
7. M'Pongo Love - "Ede"
8. Seigneur Tabu Ley Rochereau - "Hafi Deo"
9. The War On Drugs - "Under The Pressure"
10. Anika - "I Go To Sleep"
11. Townes Van Zandt - "If I Needed You"
12. Aki Tsuyoko - "Tsuki To Nagai Yoru"
13. Meredith Monk - "Ester's Song"



LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

Today's episode pays great respects to the mobile app and website Radioooo, a service in which you can listen to music from all over the world and at nearly every point in time in which recorded music has existed! It's a really wild app and I've had a lot of fun globetrotting my way into a playlist for today's program. Today, we feature tracks by singer-songwriters Seigneur Tabu Ley Rochereau and M'Pongo Love, both from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Thomas Mapfumo AKA "The Lion of Zimbabwe", Zombian "Zamrock" outfit Witch, Japanese minimalist musician and composer Aki Tsuyoko, South East LA hip-hop outfit Delinquent Habits (which was filed as a Mexican artist by the person who uploaded them to Radioooo for some weird reason) and other great tracks by white people with a talent for music-making. It's a riveting episode with hills, valleys, and distorted plains of sound. Altogether a fun listen, I'd recommend it. 10/10. Tell your friends. Maybe your family. For sure your chosen family. Anyway, see y'all next week.

- A

BLASST 92: L@s Skagaler@s - TRACKLIST + NOTES

BLASST 92 TRACKLIST 1. The Contraceptors - "Y So Salty?" 2. Carmen Fria - "123 Fuck CPCs" 3. L@s Skagaler@s - "...