Monday, August 31, 2020

BLASST 126: Any Takers?

TRACKLIST
1. Fushitsusha - Endless Waltz excerpt
2. Conjunto Primavera - "Y Que Me Importa"
3. Thugly Mane - "I'm Baby (prod. Riddiman)"
4. Vic Spencer & Sonnyjim - "The Best Natural Face feat. Che Noir"
5. Edwin Voyager - "wear ur skin"
6. diseasefreak - "pulling+leaves"
7. Pillowsnake - "HAZEHazEHAZE"
8. Nobuo Uematsu & Masashi Hamauzu - "Due Recompense"
9. Crack Cloud - "Drab Measure"
10. Anadol - "Görünmez Hava"
11. Sary Moussa - "In Praise of Shadows"
12. Noveller - "A Pink Sunset For No One"
13. Maleem Mahmoud Ghania & Pharaoh Sanders - "Moussa Berkiyo/Koubaliy Beriah La' Foh"
14. John Fahey - "Finale"
15. Rowland S. Howard - "Avé Maria"

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NOTES
This week, I'm tired. I've been daydreaming of taking a sabbatical from everything. Everything being BLASST, social media, the U-Punk stuff - everything. I just feel overwhelmed. This is partially due to everything happening in the world, but I also just feel like I haven't taken the time to replenish my energy, both physical and emotional. I don't want to make excuses and say stuff like "I'm not as young as I used to be" because I don't think age has anything to do with this. I just feel like I'm not spending my time the way I should. I miss making music. I kind of want to take time to focus on creating, and letting my brain breathe a bit, outside of weekly obligations. Mind you, most of these obligations are ones I've set for myself, I don't have anyone else holding me accountable for any of this. In turn, the only person I let down by taking a break - or closing this chapter altogether - is myself. I know I'm ranting, and probably not making that much sense, but if you're reading this, I appreciate you. I hope you enjoy the show, save for my stream of consciousness bits between music blocks. Today's episode is full of stuff that I've been listening to that has made me feel things. Some days I forget that I can feel, and listening to music is a great reminder of that.

Anyway, humoring the idea of not doing BLASST anymore, I wonder: is anyone out there interested in learning how to do these things? I'm more than happy to share my skills and knowledge with anyone looking to learn how to run a podcast, run a weekly live music series, etc. 

Send all inquiries to uupunk @ gmail.com and I'll get back to you promptly. 

Otherwise, I'll see y'all next week - maybe.

AS

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

BLASST 125: Strange Sounds Today

TRACKLIST
1. Fela Kuti & Ginger Baker - "Black Man's Cry"
2. The Ex - "IP Man"
3. Sweeping Promises - "Cross Me Out"
4. P.E. - "Lover's Lane"
5. Waldo & Sango - "Made Me"
6. Lianne La Havas - "Weird Fishes"
7. Karkhana - "Rock Farock"
8. Clock of Time - "Rotten Master"
9. Protomartyr - "Modern Business Hymns"
10. Asian Dub Foundation - "Reluctant Warrior (feat. Assata Shakur)"
11. Agent Orange - "Kill The Police"

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NOTES
Today's episode is compiled of stuff I've been listening to lately as well as tracks I've been meaning to play on the show for some time. We begin by talking about the recent shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police officers, 7 shots in the back at point blank range - in front of his kids on one of their birthdays - truly monstrous. Thankfully, Blake is said to be in stable condition at a Kenosha hospital, but remains in the ICU. (contrary to what my ramble in the beginning of today's episode repeatedly, mistakenly claimed, that Blake was murdered) Meanwhile the two cops who followed him to his car, including the one who shot him, are on administrative leave. As you would expect by now, people across the country have erupted in protests calling for the termination of the aforementioned officers, as well as some less-abolitionist folks calling for charges to be brought upon them for attempted murder. If only we didn't have police to begin with! If only our communities - especially those of color - weren't so systematically disenfranchised that the idea of policing is practically inseparable from the average person's concept of a society! 

That being said, today's selections veer into more strange sounds territory, with a few outliers (selections from the new Sweeping Promises, Lianne La Havas, and Protomartyr LPs) and makes for a good work mix - in my opinion. I don't know what kind of music you listen to while you work, or if you listen to music at all. If the latter is the case though...what are you doing here?

To donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund (mutual aid org helping protestors get out of jail), follow them on instagram here and donate to them here.

Take care of each other, defund your police departments, wear your masks. 

See y'all next week.


AS

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

BLASST 124: 44 Songs 4 the USPS

TRACKLIST
1. Blues Clues - "Mailtime"
2. The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights"
3. Wire - "Another The Letter"
4. Dead Kennedys - "Stealing People's Mail"
5. Blind Snooks Eaglin - "Mailman Passed"
6. Bob Dylan talks about the mail
7. Guided by Voices - "Postal Blowfish"
8. Sloan - "Penpals"
9. The Pixies - "Letter to Memphis"
10. The Zombies - "Care of Cell 44 (Alternate Mix)"
11. Shocking Blue - "Send Me A Postcard"
12. Bob Dylan talks about the mail some more
13. La Parsifónica - "Correo"
14. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - "1st of tha Month"
15. 2pac - "Letter to the President"
16. Spice 1 - "Mo' Mail (feat. E-40)"
17. Thundercat - "A Fan's Mail (Tron Song Suite II)"
18. Vivian Copeland - "Key In The Mail Box"
19. Vangelis - "Mail From India"
20. The Cure - "A Letter To Elise"
21. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)"
22. The Velvet Underground - "The Gift"
23. Bob Dylan sure knows a lot about the post office
24. Living Colour - "Postman"
25. Vilma y los Señores - "Correo"
26. Hermanos Zaizar - "Amores Por Correo"
27. Bob Dylan, Mail, and Heartbreak
28. Beirut - "Postcards From Italy"
29. ショッピングワールド - "LOVE MAIL"
30. Slove - "Carte Postale"
31. chief. - "no mail today"
32. 21 Savage - "letter 2 my momma"
33. The Brothers Johnson - "Strawberry Letter 23"
34. The Chi-Lites - "A Letter To Myself"
35. Leonard Cohen - "The Letters"
36. Tom Waits - "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis"
37. More Bob
38. Meek Mill - "Letter to Nipsey (feat. Roddy Ricch)"
39. Linton Kwesi Johnson - "Sonny's Lettah (Anti-sus Poem)" 
40. Nina Simone - "African Mailman"
41. Bud Powell - "Air Mail Special"
42. Moor Mother - "Letters From Earth"
43. Wisp - "A Letter In The Mail"
44. Laurie Anderson - "O Superman"

Edit: Previous tracklist listed "Strawberry Letter 23" as being by Shuggie Otis, but it's actually The Brothers Johnson version. I had my files misnamed, apologies.

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NOTES
Today's episode is about the Postal Service! No, not the band, though we do play them at some point - because of course we do. It's not every day that the most essential branch of your country's government is being ripped to pieces, limb from limb, like a rotisserie chicken fresh out of the oven. Louis DeJoy - aka Trump's recent appointee to the position of Postmaster General, has effectively kneecapped the USPS at Trump's request. The reason: to curb mail-in voting, AKA the only safe way to vote during a global pandemic, and possibly the only way Trump can lose the 2020 presidential election. It's corruption at it's most blatant (Trump's admitted his plans in the news), and we the people are powerless to do much about it at this point, short of burning it all down I guess. 

On today's show, I play 44 songs about the postal service. Songs about postal workers, about sending and receiving mail under a wide variety of circumstances, including many letters to lovers, mothers, and others in our lives. The mail is a huge part of our culture, and we have come to take it for granted in our lives. We forget that most people throughout the world, not just the USPS, rely on postal services to survive. Postal workers get us our medicines, paychecks, legal documents, consumer goods, and in some cases, services! It's one of the only few lifelines incarcerated people have to the rest of the world! Without it, our country is as good as dead, and in November, Trump will take a big fat shit on the corpse if he wins. So, that being said, if you have your torches ready, I've got the music. Let's gooooooooooooooooo.

Links to learn more about WTF is going on with the USPS:

https://facts.usps.com/top-facts/ (facts from the horse's mouth)

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/five-things/the-u-s-postal-service/11433/ (more factoids)

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/16/902977021/the-history-of-political-interference-in-the-usps (great audio story here too)

Thanks for listening. Stay vigilant, and keep that lighter handy.

AS

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

BLASST 123: FOR LEBANON WITH LOVE



TRACKLIST
1. Unwound - "We Invent You"
2. Munir Khauli - "Heik ha Nishtghil"
3. DETOX - "Suckcess"
4. Scrambled Eggs & A Trio - "Koji Kabuto (Ya Akruto)"
5. Kinematik - "Murur al-Kiram"
6. Yasmine Hamdan - "Iza (George Bshoum remix)"
7. Malayeen - "Najwa"
8. El Rass & Al Nather  - "هي هيك - Hiye Hek"
9. Lil Asaf - "Msll777"
10. Mazen Kerbaj - "Tagadagadaga"
11. Christine Abdelnour & Michel Waisvisz - "Wig Wag"
12. Marc Codsi - "Invocation I"
13. Kid Fourteen - "Plastic Lasts Longer Than Love"
14. Lumi - "Talk To You"


NOTES

Lebanon's in bad shape. Hell, it's been in bad shape for a while now. I say that as if I didn't just learn about it this week. Along with last week's devastating explosion that leveled most of Beirut, the country's government has essentially walked off the job (after just getting the keys this past January) and the people are being slaughtered by police in the streets (much like our very own nation today, except it's been happening there much, much longer).


So, in honor of the fever pitch this nation is currently experiencing, I thought it would be nice to look into Lebanon's music scene, specifically (most of the time) Beirut. Turns out there was/is quite a thriving music community there, complete with artists across the genre spectrum, from hip-hop and pop to hardcore punk and avant-garde electronic composers. Needless to say, my Bandcamp hunting left me with a big Beirut-sized hole in my wallet. Several of today's artists also play in several bands and release music under a number of names, too many to feature in a single show, but just know that if you have some time to kill and want to discover a whole new musical scene, look into Beirut. Listen to Scrambled Eggs, Karkhana, Kinematik, The Bunny Tylers, all of it is fantastic. Will share some links and clips below. Up first, a 'trumpet solo' by Mazen Kerbaj.

To support relief efforts in Lebanon, you can donate to any of the following organizations:

We also opened the show with a track from Unwound's final LP, Leaves Turn Inside You, in honor of Vern Rumsey's recent passing. QEPD.


As always, thanks for listening. Take care of yourselves, and each other. Seeya next week.


AS

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

BLASS 122: Hues of Humanity

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TRACKLIST
1. Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - "Express Yourself"
2. hiviscosity - "DejaVu"
3. Lous and the Yakuza - "Dilemme"
4. hiviscosity - "DreamAnother"
5. Rae Khalil - "mortal man!"

NOTES
Today's episode features my conversation with Carina Martinez-Isaza and Divine Agbeko, two of the three founders of Hues of Humanity (the third being Madison Bickerton aka Noodl, an incredibly prolific designer from the RGV), a virtual art exhibition featuring Black artists from throughout the Rio Grande Valley from a wide variety of practices: music, poetry, digital collage, illustration, and more. The exhibition caught my eye a couple of months ago when it was first announced as a brief online event. Along with the artists and works featured in the exhibition we discuss the importance of supporting Black voices and Black art in a region like the Rio Grande Valley, the significance of virtual spaces at a time in our world where physical spaces exist largely within a realm of compromise, as well as the creative practices of both guests. 

As of July 8th, the virtual exhibition is now available for the foreseeable future. You can visit it here, and follow the exhibition on Instagram here.

This episode was intended to air last week, but was postponed due to Hurricane Hanna. To help folks who are still trying to get their lives back on track as a result of the hurricane, please visit RGV Mutual Aid and donate what you can. Your money will go directly to families in need.

Thanks again for tuning in. Take care of each other, and yourselves. See you next week.


AS

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

PASST BLASST: Episode 13 (6/4/17)

TRACKLIST
1. The Screamers - "122 Hours of Fear"
2. The Justified Ancients of MuMu - "Whitney Joins The JAMS"
3. Le Butcherettes - "Stab My Back"
4. Hawkwind - "Brainstorm"
5. Outer Spaces - "Mint on the Sill"
6. Sonic Youth - "Schizophrenia"
7. NARB - "Tight Spaces"
8. Uranium Club - "The Clown's Got A Gun"
9. feedtime - "Ha Ha"
10. Chromatics - "Hannah's Song"
11. Mugwort - "Flowers"
12. Coma in Algiers - "For What"
13. X - "The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss"
14. Crooked Bangs - "Evil Eye/Le Mauvais Œi"
15. Big Boys - "Which Ways To Go"
16. Alice Bag - "Programmed"
17. Frankie Cosmos - "On The Lips"

NOTES

Today's episode is a throwback to June 2nd, 2017. Donald Trump had only been president for a few months, and he was already wreaking all sorts of havoc. The music selections are excellent and eclectic - as this show has always intended. Unfortunately, following the events of Hurricane Hanna, a few things needed to be tended to at home (nothing tragic, thankfully, but important nonetheless). I hope everyone out there is safe and has shelter of some kind. A lot of people, including friends, are at-risk of losing their homes if they haven't already, and some definitely have. Things are really fucked up in the Valley right now. They always are when hurricanes and big storms with a lot of wind and rain hit us from any angle. Our local governments have yet to invest in proper infrastructure to give communities proper drainage systems, proper access to power as well - as it stands, AEP will not be able to return power to nearly half of the entire Rio Grande Valley for at least a week, some will have to wait two weeks. It's just a nightmare. But there is hope on the horizon! A group of local activists and organizers have put together a mutual aid fund to raise money for people in need. 

They're calling it the RGV Mutual Aid, and are accepting donations via this link

https://www.phly.co/public/hG8KPf8aGCjCZDZQg?fbclid=IwAR38y-2MhNnzUmOA0QAoUMmq_gIGHbTTwHLIe-uCow4giDYPm4sIyy6lYq0

If you or someone you know need to request funds, you may do so with this Google Form

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1KzzLfznzCEt_rw4kFA18XpvaAiYKLdtpMnVxMp9TpYs/viewform?edit_requested=true&fbclid=IwAR0TuOEMYAHqqoYsGwgQV4Ab0YvB9sWnbkbhX6YqzsviY-yl7psegA_GUII

The fund has already raised over $10,000 and already redistributed a large part of it to families in need! Please spread this as far as you can.

As always, take care of each other, take care of yourselves, and be safe. We'll see you next week.

AS

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

BLASST 121: DOWN IN THE VALLEY

TRACKLIST
1. Dandy Heat - "Southpop"
2. Európa Kiadó - "Megalazo"
3. Boiz - "Hope"
4. noimnotwhite - "Burning Man"
5. Jay Sol - "The Game"
6. Simonada - "heat death"
7. Gusto Gusto - "New Laughs, New Jokes"
8. Honeyflowers - "Yellow Boy"
9. 10 Foot Overhead - "Why Do You Care (feat. Boiz)"
10. Isao Tomita - "The Sunken Cathedral"
11. I Killed Techno! - "Heal! Heal! Frog Ass!"
12. Pillowsnake - "Copaganda (feat. I Killed Techno)" 
13. STRGHTFWRD - "Unchained"
14. PatrickStarrr - "Go Off"

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NOTES

The RGV is in really bad shape right now, people are dying of COVID-19 every day, our hospitals are full, and our most powerful hospital is withholding resources - and hospital space. All this paired with the firm refusal on the part of the State Government to shut down the economy again are sending my neck of the woods head-first into a pile of shit. Let's not forget that the Trump administration has also made it so that hospitals are no longer reporting to the CDC - an attempt to control and skew the numbers of cases and deaths connected to COVID-19 throughout the country. Things are bad, y'all. They've been bad everywhere else, but now they're bad here.

That being said, the music on today's show is almost all from Valley artists, each track more remarkable than the next. 

EDIT: I've decided to add some write-ups on these tracks. They're all incredible and I think every single one of these artists deserves some pen put to paper about their work.

1. Dandy Heat - "Southpop" | Label: Self-released
It only makes sense that the Valley's answer to brit-pop giants like Blur and Pulp would release a song that sounds like aural sunshine at the peak of summer. With a stripped down beat laying down the grid for washed out guitars and a fluttery, conversational bassline, "Southpop" sounds the way Summer should: thriving, full-of-life, and jubilant.

2. Boiz - "Hope" | Label: Self-released
Keeping with the theme of posi-vibes, we have a bouncy new single from Brownsville's well-preened electro-pop outfit, Boiz. Their latest EP, Everywhere I Go, was produced by Adrian Loera of Brownsville's premier recording studio, Creative Cave, and boasts a consistent set of elevated pop bangers. While some of the lyrical content leans more 'male gaze-y' than I'd prefer - and in the case of hype-beast anthem "High Fashion", just comical - the music shows definite promise, and I believe Boiz have given themselves plenty of room to grow beyond the tropes of popular music. I can only hope that they choose to do so, because with tracks like "Hope", they've demonstrated that they know how to write a damn good song. 

3. noimnotwhite - "Burning Man" | Label: Midnight Militia
This kid DMed me on the U-Punk IG account the other day after I put up a call for performers to play upcoming Instagram Lives streaming slots. I thought his brand of sad-boi hip-hop wasn't bad, though some of his tracks run a little morbid for my taste (see his latest horrorcore-lite single "Stalk-Her"). Jay Barr shows he's got a knack for lyricism, and through the network of collaborators he's associated with in the Midnight Militia label, creative vision as well. He's signed on to do an IG Live set on 10/10, so follow us on IG and keep an eye out for that one.

4. Jay Sol - "The Game" | Label: Self-released
This song scratched an itch I've had for some time now. I can't think of a Valley artist that's tackled r&b/neo-soul sounds quite like Jay Sol has. With pipes that send flickering glimpses of Frank Ocean and even a little ZAYN, Jay Sol packs a bottle tight with heartbreak and sends it out sea with grace. Not sure who produced this track, but the production is rightfully minimal and dedicated to supporting Jay's soothing baritone. Looking forward to what Jay's got coming next. I learned recently that he's currently recovering from COVID-19, so sending him best wishes as well.

5. Simonada - "heat death" | Label: Self-released/Futuro Conjunto
This has become my favorite track from Charlie Vela & Jonathan Leal's buzzing transmedia project, Futuro Conjunto. For Charlie and Jonathan to create fictional groups, each with their own personality and histories, is a feat in itself. But to also make distinctly unique music for each group...that's also amazing?? That's a fucking miracle. Simonada features spellbinding vocal performances from two of the Valley's greatest indie-rock vocalists, Jesika Cueta, and Andy Peña of Quiet Kids (previously Dignan). As the two harmonize around the music's vaguely latin rhythms and accordion-brushed melodies, they create a dreamy space that evokes a spectrum of emotion - and that's without reading the lyrics, which lament the fate that has befallen the RGV 100 years into the future. An absolute gem of a song.

6. Gusto Gusto - "New Laughs/New Jokes" | Label: Self-released
An earlier demo version of what has since become a staple of the band's live sets, "New Laughs/New Jokes" acts as a thesis for bandleader Gustavo Bañuelos' ever-evolving songwriting handbook. Groovy basslines, pocket drums, foggy synthesizers, and subtle guitar lines all play second-fiddle to Gus' firm but flexible tenor vocalizations. One night while I was delivering some buttons I made for the band to Gus' house, he invited me in to listen to some of his demos, stuff he'd been working on at home alone. One song in, I was absolutely floored with the sheer space this dude can create in a single track by himself. Truly a talent, not to be underestimated. He'll be playing a live set this weekend on our Instagram, so be sure to tune in for that.

7. Honeyflowers - "Yellow Boy" | Label: Self-released
This song opens with shining keys, and leads directly into silence. What breaks that silence is vocalist Paolo Honey's smokey baritone falsetto, crooning with a constant vibrato that evokes all but the frustration at the core of this beautiful and otherwise unassuming anti-racist indie-pop jam. Instead of channeling anger, Honeyflowers lean into tight-knit rhythms, swirling synth lines, and guitar solos to release tension. It's a smart move songwriting-wise, and also a refreshingly cool-headed approach to this undoubtedly painful topic. Also, incorrectly labeled this as a "Paulo Honey" track when it's by the band Honeyflowers, also Paolo's name isn't spelled with a 'u'. The new image reflects this.

8. 10 Foot Overhead - "Why Do You Care (feat. Boiz)" | Label: Self-released
Another jam I got wind of through the excellent Raymus Media blog! 10 Foot Overhead are a quartet based out of Brownsville with a bit of an emotional streak. Classic alt-rock balladry at play here with some contemporary furnishings, could easily see this jam holding its own among other sync-worthy tracks playing in your favorite new streaming shows. 

9. I Killed Techno! - "Heal! Heal! Frog Ass!" | Label: Self-released
IKT's Eric Linares is back on Doomed Forever, his latest full-length cassette, bringing the horror punk vibes with greater dissonance and doom than ever before. "Heal! Heal! Frog Ass!" doesn't really resemble the traditional Mexican folk-spell it's named after ("sana, sana, colita de rana" in Spanish), but perhaps alludes more to a grimy tale of willing self-destruction ("He’s eatin his way out of his brain / You’ll see his masterpiece soon / As winter draws in closer / He slowly fades away into his favorite place").

10. Pillowsnake - "Copaganda (feat. I Killed Techno!)" | Label: Self-released
This is the crown jewel of the show, in my opinion. Pillowsnake's Jacob LaFollette has a history of building unique glitched-out sound-worlds on his previous releases, but never have they sounded so concise and directional as "Copaganda" does. The track is a fervently anti-police industrial-pop(?) journey through layer after layer of synth textures ranging from booming lows to flickering electric-violin highs. The music video for this track would look like the most fun videogame you've ever played. At the point where IKT enters the arena - like a veritable Player 2 - the song takes a brief pause to let some almost harpsichord-y deep organ sounds resonate on their own, and it feels as if we're about to walk into a boss fight of some kind. I've been listening to this track so much since it was released a couple months back. So fun.

11. STRGHTFWRD - "Unchained" | Label: Self-released
The solid debut single from this EDM powerhouse. I'm probably least qualified to talk in-depth about EDM, as it truly is a universe unto itself, but I like what these guys do. According to their SoundCloud, this jam falls under the umbrellas of BASS, HOUSE, and TECH HOUSE. Sounds apporpriate to me! They've been building a good brand for themselves since their transition from "3AM" to STRGHTFWRD earlier this year, and I'm looking forward to what they're able to put together once we're able to lose our minds in clubs to beats again.

12. PatrickStarrr - "Go Off" | Label: ONE/SIZE / PatrickStarrr
Today's closer is a ballroom JAM. Produced in no small part by the RGV's own producer-extraordinaire, Charlie Vela, "Go Off" screams pride. When PatrickStarrr, who for the uninitiated, is a HUGELY famous make-up and lifestyle YouTuber, calmly slides out a "don't get mad bitch" I can't help but release the cackle of a lifetime. The confidence and sheer power in this song - don't even get me started on the music video, which is absolutely bananas - is enough to get anybody ready for literally anything that they find intimidating or frightening in any way. Watch the video below:

Whistleblower Twitter Thread - also be sure to check out some of her follow-up tweets, she shares images and accounts sent to her by other medical workers at DHR.
I don't have that much else to say right now. Spread this whistleblower story far and wide, please and thank you. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. See y'all next week.

AS

BLASST 126: Any Takers?

TRACKLIST 1. Fushitsusha - Endless Waltz excerpt 2. Conjunto Primavera - "Y Que Me Importa" 3. Thugly Mane - "I'm Ba...