The Tastemaker’s Ten: Serene Dominic

serene dominic 02
photo by Sara J Griffin

Serene Dominic is a Tastemaker.

_

Like everyone else who has done this list, I will stress that these are not my all-time favorites. Some are, but mostly these are songs I’ve discovered on my own trolling YouTube and have become recently obsessed with, songs that I wish more people knew and celebrated. Silver Alert- many of them are very, very old and have drive!

The Marvelettes
“That’s How Heartaches Are Made”

I could’ve filled this whole list with Motown songs no one’s ever heard of and should know alongside their best loved chart triumphs. I’ve made no secret of trying to emulate Motown’s factory assembly of singers and songs for Onus Records but while you could accuse Hitsville of willfully making the same records over and over again (“Let’s take that Temptations track and put Gladys Knight’s vocals on it”), here’s an example where they did something I’VE NEVER HEARD DONE ON ANY OTHER RECORD EVER, an effect so incredible, and yet even they never attempted it again. No slight to Wanda Rogers who turns in a customarily great vocal performance here but pay strict attention to the instrumental break at 1:35 when the producer puts an entire orchestra through a wah wah pedal! Maybe because this was a middling 1969 chart hit for the Marvelettes, you can imagine an overly cautious Berry Gordy, the guy who after all shelved “What’s Goin’ On” for a year because he thought it would damage Marvin Gaye’s career, saying, “No more of that wah-wah orchestral shit, fellas. The girls need a hit.”

The Pixies
“No. 13 Baby”

They say the greatest songwriting trick (and the key ingredient in all soul music) is “tension and release.” You only have to hear the squeals on any live James Brown or Gene Chandler album to hear how they ratchet up the tension and then when the audience can no longer stand it, they release the crowd like a captive bird. Here Frank Black (whose Pixies work is all about the tension, the release is usually comes with the arrival of the next less tense song) works himself up in a froth about who knows what. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the lyrics and I don’t need to. He’s in a state, he vents and then his anger takes off like a brilliant terror bird to make for the best fadeout of the last 30 years.

BJ Thomas
“Long Ago Tomorrow”

In 2006 I wrote a book on Burt Bacharach where I had the pleasure of collecting and critiquing his entire career (shameless plug number 1) and hopefully helped prove he’s more revolutionary that the easy listening tag he was once lumbered in with. This is one of those songs I pull out that people don’t know (it was the theme of a terrible 1971 Malcolm McDowell movie) but it demonstrates how Bacharach violates all the conventional pop rules, like the building up to the chorus which leaves you suspended in a completely different key and fading out the song on the verse instead of the chorus. And BJ was no slouch in the vocal department either!

Linda Jones
“For Your Precious Love”

Once in a joint interview Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight were asked who their favorite singer was, and instead of naming each other, they both blurted out “Linda Jones.” Jones was an unheralded singer whose highest charting hit was “Hypnotized” in 1967 (the fact that she sings “hyp-MO-tized” makes me love it all the more). Her records were woefully out of print when I got into her in the early aughts – I justified having a LimeWire account by the sheer volume of direct-from-vinyl rips I got from there. But relax – when BMG released Linda Jones Greatest Hits I bought it – only to find out many of the tracks were from the same scratchy direct-to-vinyl rips. When you hear vocal gymnastics from all the Mariahs and the Christinas that came later, it sounds like an exercise, but with Linda Jones it sounds like she’s trying to breathe with the amount of holes someone left in heart. This is a pretty great demonstration disc of this force of nature who sang like a wounded animal and died from complications from diabetes at age 27 in between sets at the Apollo! A YouTube comment left for this video says it all: “Why is this LADY bring tears to my eyes??” Most of her records can reduce me to a puddle, this one with its ridiculous spoken word passages also makes me grin uncontrollably.

Marshall Crenshaw
“Whenever You’re On My Mind”

I come from that era where whenever you hear the perfect pop record, you have the Pavlovian response of wanting to buy it again. That explains why I own five copies of Beatles ’65 and six copies of this. Back when records could still be expected to make people happy.

The Impressions
“I Can’t Stay Away From You”

Show of hands, who here has ever been made a fool of by someone and through some deep-seated self-loathing, you still couldn’t bring yourself to stop longing for? Nobody, I’ll venture to guess! Here The Impressions capture all the beauty of that sadness of being told lie after lie in a one-sided love affair and still not giving into hate. This unbelievable ballad only squeaked in the lower reaches of the top 100 late in the Summer of Love. I blame the drugs.

The Moments
“Lovely Way She Loves”

On my last CD (Silver Alert, shameless plug number 2) there’s a song called “Stang” which is a tribute to this record and The Moments, who recorded for Stang Records. I love the lovely way the spoken word is from the woman, whose reverie gets progressively more demonstrative until it is backed up by a piercing car-alarm note from her castrato boyfriend.

Eddie Holliman
“Hey There Lonely Girl”

My go-to karaoke song, mostly because I get to practice my falsetto. Believe it, nothing impresses a room full of disinterested people more than an unassuming schlub like myself emulating a guy they don’t know but for a head-splitting sound they’ve heard on radio for decades. Here’s a guy longing for a broken-hearted girl still smarting from a recent bust-up and he’s chomping at the bit to be the boyfriend in waiting, the guy who would’ve been true to her all along. This song has so much heart, it’s like a gift from another more caring world, a point driven home at karaoke, when I’m usually followed by somebody singing, “Back that ass up here.”

David Ruffin
“Walk Away From Love”

My other go-to karaoke song, along with any Temptation song that David Ruffin sang lead on that’s in those big fat song binders. This was a hit in 1974 but totally forgotten -even the DJs scratch their heads when they program it in. Ruffin does this unbelievable octave jump at 3:49 that I keep struggling to carry off as effortlessly as he does. If you told me I could hit that note if I banged myself repeatedly over the head with a lead pipe, I would do it. Unfortunately, Ruffin made contact with another kind of pipe that wasted his life and robbed him of his talent. When I saw him live at the 1982 Temptations reunion tour, that falsetto was merely a wisp and when it came time to hit the high note on “I Wish It Would Rain,” he turned the mike and let the audience hit the note for him. I prefer to remember him this way.

The Easybeats
“Falling Off The Edge Of The World”

People point to “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips” as the most devastating opening line of a torch song. The opening line here matches that (“The love that was in your smile when I married you isn’t there now”) and the Easybeats compound the hurt even more by dragging the kids into it (“And even the children see that you don’t stay respectable now”). Ouch! The shame just drained! This was supposedly Lou Reed’s favorite song on the Max’s Kansas City jukebox and he called it “one of the most beautiful records ever made.” It’s a crime The Easybeats were only one hit wonders here in America. A few years ago at Tucson’s Great CoverUp Festival, I was thrilled when Sidewinder David Slutes assembled an Easybeats cover band. Enjoying the Easybeats in the company of other people must be what it feels like for a dude to wear a skirt in public for the first time. It’s weird but you can’t argue with the breeze up your leg.

5 Rowdy Singles You Should Hear

Nelson Can

“Move Forward”

The Danish trio known as Nelson Can uses drums, vocals, and bass (no guitar) to create their grungy rock sound and I fucking love it. There’s all sorts of rowdy crammed into Nelson Can and you can hear that energy on their new single, “Move Forward”. This band’s super cool Scandinavian sound will have you hitting repeat all damn day. And to think that Nelson Can all started as a joke because three chicks wanted to say they were in a band… Check out “Move Forward” below or you can head here to see Nelson Can’s DIY video for the single. Or head here to score your own copy of the single and show the band some luv.

Madus

‘Through the Dark”

Madus calls their sound “post-garage-rock” which is pretty on point. I could see this music playing in the hip (but obviously seedy) bar in the cybernetic future we all envisioned while watching Hackers back in 1994. Or, at least, those of us who are old enough to have watched Hackers back in ’94. Some us, maybe me included, are still probably waiting for that future to arrive so thank you, Madus, for giving me a glimpse of the aesthetic that I secretly long for. “Through the Dark” provides glitzy grunge and retro synths for the new world order. Check out the new single from Madus below…

Absolutely Not

“Strictly Top”

This post-punk trio outta Chicago craft an interesting mix of levity and gravity on their new single, “Strictly Top”. I am, of course, speaking both aurally and lyrically.  Like some of my favorite post-punk acts (ahem, JJCnV), Absolutely Not swirls in some feisty pop elements to keep things exciting in the sonic sphere. This single comes to us from Absolutely Not’s new album, Errors, which comes out later this month (7/28). Until then, you can spend some time getting riled up with “Strictly Top” from Absolutely Not below or head here for the digi-download.

DWARF

“Take a Number”

Short and feisty, “Take a Number” from DWARF packs enough energy into two minutes to fire you up for an entire day. This three-piece from Mesa [AZ] has been steadily developing a local following since their inception. A ska rhythm on the verse gives “Take a Number” a super fun, summertime vibe, but DWARF takes the energy up to infectious on the chorus. Give “Take a Number” by DWARF a listen below or head here to show the band some support by purchasing your own copy of the single!

LUAU

“Debt Collector”

Don’t confuse Hampshire’s garage punks LUAU with the Phoenix indie rockers, LUAU. Both acts might infuse a little surf into their sound, but these bands are two very different beasts. The British LUAU have a gritty, high-energy sound they unleash on their new single, “Debt Collector”. Drawing from such westerly influences as Rocket From The Crypt (CA) and The Marked Men (TX), LUAU came together in 2016 but the five players that make up the band earned their chops in a variety of eclectic acts for more than ten years before that. LUAU isn’t amateur hour – the band is as sharp as they are fiery. Get down with LUAU (UK) and “Debt Collector” below or check out Wake Up Dreaming, the album from whence the single came.

5 Mellow New Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Bien

“Spinning On Blue”

The dream-pop trio out of Nashville known as Bien released their s/t debut EP last September and they’re back with a fresh new single. “Spinning On Blue” is a calm but uplifting number that serves as a reminder that even though it seems like everyone is divided at this particularly contentious point in human history, we’re in this together. According to a statement from the band, “There’s so much going on in the world right now, and we really wanted to write something that encouraged people to remember we’re all sharing this planet.” Let Bien soothe some of your world-weariness with “Spinning On Blue” below or head here for your own copy of the single.

Loyal Lobos

“The Fall”

We featured Andrea Silva, the musician at the center of Loyal Lobos, through our publication before. The moniker might be different, but the earnest and emotive energy of her songwriting remains the same. “The Fall” blurs the barrier between indie-folk and -rock as she returns to earlier themes in her music which center on the subtle effects of misogyny on culture, both here in the U.S. where Silva currently resides, as well as her home of Bogotá, Colombia. There’s an aggressive edge to the songwriting style of Loyal Lobos that comes through on “The Fall” that finds its counterbalance in the revealing honesty of her voice. I suggest you check out “The Fall” from Loyal Lobos below…

Shawnee Kilgore & Joss Whedon

“Unforgiven”

Shawnee Kilgore (no relation to Kilgore Trout) and Joss Whedon (yes, that Joss Whedon) became songwriting partners after a happenstance crowdsourcing connection. That’s right, folks, crowdsourcing your next musical project might have the unintended boon of attracting the attention of some unexpected admirers. Shawnee’s 2014 Kickstarter campaign came across Joss’s desktop and the rest is soon to be history. The pair started shaping out songs together and the results of that collaboration can be heard on this new single, “Unforgiven”, as well as the EP from when it came, Back to Eden which the duo co-wrote. Kilgore’s voice is a strange melting pot of innocence and steeled strength which is well suited to the Western sensibility of the supporting folk rock sound. Check out “Unforgiven” from Shawnee Kilgore and Joss Whedon below and then head here for your very own copy of Back to Eden. Oh, and did I mention there is a music video for the title track to the EP? There is.

Slow Skies

“Dancing”

The Dublin folk-pop act known as Slow Skies combines an easygoing melody with honey sweet vocals on her new single, “Dancing”. Songwriter for Slow Skies, Karen Sheridan, explains the track was created with the intention of “nudging people to think about whatever it is that makes them feel good and just feel happy in that moment.” And that’s what you get with “Dancing” – a warm and bright feeling that floats over your body, filling your heavy limbs with newfound life. Take few minutes from your day to slip away with Slow Skies below or get the digi-download of “Dancing” for your personal playlists for a little more pep in your most dreary of days.

KOWL & Anjulie

“Just Words” 

Casablanca Sunset is both a music blog and a label based right out of sunny Phoenix so if you’re not familiar with the enterprise in either form, now’s a good time to make your introduction. When Eric Vogt of Casablanca Sunset first heard the Australian producer known as KOWL, he knew right away that the artist has what it takes to break big. KOWL joined the label’s roster and it wasn’t long thereafter that Vogt came across the vocal talents of Anjulie and arranged a collaboration between the pair. “Just Words” is the result of that effort. After listening, even I have to admit that the richly layered aural soundscape has me betting on KOWL too. And Anjulie’s spirited vocals make “Just Words” my kind of heartbreaker. Take the single for a spin below or head here to score your own digital download of the track.

Radio Phoenix Podcast: Foresteater

foresteater 01Mikey Pro of FORESTEATER joined us down in the Radio Phoenix studios and now that broadcast is available for all. We discuss the vibrant Phoenix music scene, recording an album before having a band, and their show at The Rebel Lounge TOMORROW NIGHT opening for Valley Queen along with Dirty Sunset. We even have a special podcast only Wyves track to close out the show!

Tune into the YabYum Hour live at 7 PM every first and third Wednesday of the month only on Radio Phoenix!

Complete Playlist

Foresteater “Very Friendly People”

Saddles “Comfort”

Charly Bliss “Percolator”

El West “Cuba Gooding Jr.”

decker. “Matchstick Man”

Valley Queen “Stars Align”

Foresteater “Big Deceiver”

Dråpe “Pie in the Sky”

The Anodynes “The Lovin’ Path”

House of Stairs “Silence Won’t You Come Back”

Holy Fawn “Reykur”

Dirty Sunset “Take It Slow”

Wyves “Jump Into the Water (Boogie Woogie)

_

Recorded live on July 19, 2017

foresteater 02

7 Rad Contemporary R&B Music Videos

Brika
“Don’t Want Your Love”

Xavier White
“Sudden Change”

Terence Ryan
“Mean It”

Ruby Francis
“Paranoid”

Mista Roe
“Tension”

 Mattie Safer
“All We Are”

Marc Haize
“Nightfall”

5 Eclectic Indie Singles

Soy Christmas

“Oh No”

This duo out of Saint James [NY] does a lot with a little. Combining vibrant vocals with bedroom electro pop, Soy Christmas creates an effervescent indie sound that I’m all about. “Oh No” comes wrapped in the approachability of a thrift-store sweater: warm, a little nerdy, and perfect for those #NormCore Millennials. Score that digi-download of “Oh No” here, but you can take it for a spin first below. I also suggest delving Soy Christmas’ 2016 dual-single, Get Upset, if you have the interest and the drive.

AIHVHIA

“Don’t Look Back”

This track was described to me as a “call-to-action moodscape”. That sounds absolutely awful, right?? It wasn’t. In fact, AIHVHIA has a lot of elements that would usually annoy me: an orchestral indie-folk sound (which is a bit played out right now) and an unpronounceable name. Nevertheless, “Don’t Look Back” hooked me. AIHVHIA breathes life into this new song and it resonates with energy. Sure, it’s a little hippie, but it’s really good. This track comes to us from the band’s 2017 LP, Planet. Give “Don’t Look Back” by AIHVHIA a listen or head here for the complete LP.

Roxiny

“9 Months”

Roxiny is both a singer/songwriter and women’s rights activist who “frequently leads music workshops for GEMS, an organization that rescues girls from domestic sex trafficking.” But, for this article, we’re focusing on Roxiny’s musical endeavors. After getting her first major break as a backup singer for Sleigh Bells in 2013, Roxiny went on to collaborate with other artists, but now she’s ready for her solo debut. Her first solo single, “9 Months”, takes some of the grit and angst of post-punk and mixes in some indie pop to keep things lively. The topic of the song’s narrative deals with the oppressive force of toxic relationships. Check out “9 Months” by Roxiny below or head here for that digi-download of the single!

Julia Piker

“Bullet”

Once a distinctive vocalist hits big (i.e. Fiona Apple, Lana del Rey, et al.), you can guarantee that music writers like me are going to get hit with knockoffs for the next two decades. True story. What all you sassy singer-songwriters need to realize is that music journalists are never looking for a re-hashing of what’s already been done. Julia Piker gets that. She draws from the fierce femmes that came before her (like PJ Harvey and the aforementioned Apple), but she puts her own spin on it. “Bullet” might be my new #GrrrlRawk anthem. Give “Bullet” a spin or head here for the complete (new) EP from Julia Piker.

Dylan Rockoff

“Come Over”

Straight talk: if you think there’s no place for the sultry stylings of indie pop singer-songwriters like Dylan Rockoff (or John Mayer or Jason Mraz, etc.), then you probably aged out of the demographic. You’re old. Or maybe you’re just a stick in the mud. “Come Over” is fucking catchy and I can definitely see it getting some pre-teen emotionally entangled in Rockoff’s sexy single, in addition to some guilty listeners of consenting age too. Preview “Come Over” by Dylan Rockoff below or head here to score a copy of the single for your personal playlists.

100 Rejections: The Art of Getting It Out There

100 Rejections 01by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

So we’re all making art for art’s sake right? Theoretically… yes. Well, what should you do if you decide to take the leap and try to get your music in front of people who would not otherwise hear it?

Recently, I was asked by a musician friend for my opinion and advice on the best way of getting their latest music “out there.” There was debate amongst his band on a variety of issues including from how many CDs should be made (if any at all) to whether or not hiring a production crew and making a slick, shiny video would garner any additional shows or press.

He concluded his pondering by stating he’s of the mind set the only way to put your musical head above the fray is networking with dedicated persistence and/or luck.

And he’s right: persistence is definitely the key.

The past year at YabYum, as our daily submissions pile continued to grow and grow, has shown us many things. There is an old adage that an artist should expect only one acceptance for every 100 rejections. And this year has shown us just how remarkably accurate that previous statement is and how ultimately helpful it can be.

I personally applied this same idea with my own music to gain some perspective when I had to slide over to the submission side of things and sent out music to 10 different blogs. All ten were rejected or unacknowledged. Now I just have to repeat this process nine more times.

If you’re not sure how to find music publications to submit to, I would start by checking out the blogs on hypem.com and seeing which ones strike your fancy. Most blogs offer contact information to let readers (and folks looking to submit) know how to go about reaching their team. Some blogs take direct submissions by email. Others might offer an online form and upload option.

Some, like us, will use a website or program to help manage submissions, like submithub.com. Often these publications will include a direct link on their contact page that directs you to where you should send in your music.

Submitting music can certainly be a lot of work. And, if you don’t want to go through the “hassle” of looking blogs up, submitting to them, replying to them if they do actually like your music, and so on, don’t worry about it. There are a thousand other bands seeking publication at this very second who are willing to put themselves to the task of finding press so no one will notice you’re slagging.

And, just a short piece of advice, don’t rush into contacting a publication either. Become a fan and observer of the sites mentioned above first and then get to know which blogs are publishing the type of article/review you like reading in the genres that best represent your music (i.e. lurk moar). I can’t even begin to tell you how often bands could have saved themselves a rejection if they just bothered to read our contact information before they clicked on a link to send us their track. Just know who you’re sending music to and what it is that they do. A little legwork can save you a lot of grief in the long run.

We all realize your musical efforts could always be a lot “bigger”, it just requires the right people (or enough people) hearing your shit. Trouble is, we all live in this endless sea of noise. The only way to rise above is to remain persistent as you keep pushing your music toward new ears.

So I encourage you to get out there and start collecting those 100 rejections. Maybe you’ll make a worthwhile connection and maybe, just maybe, you’ll score some press for your band too.

~

Subterranean Homesick Aliens: SNAILMATE Crashes Into Roswell

snailmate roswell 01by Chris Nunley
Staff Writer

“You two have a blessed day and come back and see us,” says the sales clerk at a local music supply store.

“Thank god they had the drum head I needed because there’s no other music store in town” says Ariel Monet, the lanky yet thunderous timekeeper for the electro / punk-hop duo Snailmate, breathes a sigh of relief while riding shotgun.

Monet and vocalist / keyboardist Kalen Lander just finished a 12 hour sprint from Omaha to play their next gig. Not five minutes ago she sifted through a pitiful stack of ten or so drum heads and found the exact one she needed for tonight’s show. These are some of the challenges that a local band may face when touring small town America.

Whenever “faith” is used in a facet of being courteous or gracious here in Roswell, you can’t help but give pause for a moment. For decades now, the people of this bodacious town probably thank god or their lucky stars for a “weather balloon” crashing down, causing a flurry of speculation about extraterrestrial life and if we were, in fact, alone in the universe.

Without it, there would be no justification on this weekend to charge ninety dollars a night for less-than-stellar accommodations or five dollars for a fresh squeezed lemonade. It’s the once-a-year cash cow that a town barely touched since the 50s jumps on and rides dirty. Otherwise, Roswell would be nothing more than a speck on the map with cows, fields…and flies. Lots of flies.

The show in question is an after hours performance at Stellar Coffee, located deep in the green heart of Roswell, New Mexico, home of the annual UFO Festival. This year’s celebration marks the 70th anniversary of the alleged crash landing of an unidentified flying object, and believers come from all over to celebrate a moment in history that forever altered the imaginations of mankind.

Eerily, a mere 120 miles away, a much more definitive event took place two years prior to “The Roswell Incident”, resulting in the birth of nuclear weapons. “Trinity”, referencing a poem by John Donne written shortly before his death, could not be a more apt code name given the “god complex” of the project’s founding father, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

So was it aliens that drew our bombastic duo here, or faith that there’s an audience hiding in the smallest nooks and crannies of America?

“We saw more aliens in Marfa (TX) than here in Roswell,” quips Lander, possibly referencing the “Marfa Lights” phenomenon or strange local traditions. “Marfa was weird because they stop serving alcohol at midnight, but then close the bars at midnight! It was just weird. But we wanna play small towns off the beaten path because they appreciate you. They know that you didn’t have to stop and so many bands will skip them over, so they show their appreciation more and we love it! We played here back in March and they loved us, so they invited us back to play the UFO Festival this weekend.”

The core that Snailmate has built on and around since their inception two years ago has been touring. Not the little cutesy mini-tours of 10 dates within a 500 mile radius of home base. We’re talking thousands of miles being racked up with each leg. The mates stay on the road for months at a time, playing nearly every night. “When we started, we did it to tour. Ariel’s last band didn’t want to tour and I had never gone on tour with my previous band. We planned it out, auditioned a couple of other people, and emphasized that if they couldn’t live in a car for six months at a time, then you can’t be in this band!” explains Lander. “We eventually figured out how to do it as a two piece.”

Wait! Snailmate was going to be a 4-piece rock band???

“Haha, yeah. When we formed the band, I did not know how to play anything. We were going to have a guitar and bass player to help round out the sound.” Lander expands on the earlier days: “I started playing keys and was really shitty at it. It’s definitely a bell curve and started extremely hard. So I thought let’s get a guitar and bass player!”

Monet jokingly adds, “I used to scream at him a lot. Like if he was playing video games, I’d be like “What do you suck at right now? You need to practice not play video games!” But the two constantly push each other to try new things as well to keep things fresh. “He made me do vocals because I would joke around with vocals at practice. And he was like, ‘No! You need to do that!'”

Lander chimes in, “I would say maybe you could play drums and the kazoo or sing? And she would say ‘I can’t!’ “Well you’re gonna fuckin’ tryyyy, haha!”

Trying new things in their songwriting has kept the Snailmate “sound” consistent yet fresh. Over the course of 3 EP’s, 2 split-band releases, a handful of singles, and now their first full-length album, Love In The Microwave, the tweaks made are sometimes subtle, and some are more pronounced. Although sadly “Big Fish Don’t Taste Good” didn’t make the final cut, the selections made for Love are solid choices from previous releases. So why these songs? What makes them so damn special? (Sorry…I’m bitter about “Big Fish” not being included.)

Lander elaborates, “The reason some of these songs reappear is because when we recorded them for the initial EP’s, the songs were very new. So we wrote them and pretty much committed them to record, and then played them out 700 times…and they changed over time. Parts became tighter, other parts didn’t. We cut the fat. So now you get a feel for the natural flow of the song as meant to be heard. We went back and listened to the old versions and were like fuck…this is a different band.”

So of course the die-hards wanna know what was the vibe and experience like re-recording these songs?

Monet: “The experience was great! We recorded the album at Royal Recordings in Colorado Springs with Bill Douglas. He’s amazing and has no ego. We recorded all the drum tracks and synths in one take except one song. And I’ve always been a fan of one take because the energy is there and you’re not thinking about fucking up. The album is mastered to flow like a story, and we did it in four very short days.”

Lander: “Yeah, we spent 4 days there basically living in the studio. Bill has a weird way of pushing you, too. Like we would record for a day and he would say “Let’s go drink!” So we’d start drinking and then he would turn around with, “You should get back in the vocal booth and record.” Or he’d have us go play an open mic in the middle of a session and then come back and record some more. It was unconventional. But the songs feel better. So when we went to record them, we knocked them out in one take because we knew the in’s and out’s of the songs.”

To say that the duo treats the band as a full time job is an understatement. When they’re not on the road setting up and striking night after night, the two hold down regular jobs at The Rhythm Room back in their home base of Phoenix. “When we started, we didn’t know if we were going to be any good. We were just about being in a band together and playing some shows together. I fully expected Ariel to join a better band to drum with and do her thing. But it’s definitely a full-time thing now,” says Lander.

And the machine doesn’t quit, even when it’s stationary. A normal 12-hour day usually consists of practicing 2-4 hours, playing a show, screen printing shirts, booking tours, designing fliers – only stopping to eat or sleep. “We eat A LOT” jokes Lander. “Ariel’s a great cook, so she’ll cook an excessive amount (laughs).”

Ariel smiles largely at this fact, “We’ve been starving and eating shitty car food! So I’m like ‘We’re having every bit of food I can make!’ We also drink a lot because we don’t drink on tour. And we love where we work at because they let us come back any time and we’re so grateful for that.”

“You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to work hard…if you want anything at all.” – Depeche Mode

The life of an artist is never an easy one, and great art takes ingenuity and sacrifice. But what happens when hard work is brushed aside in the form of crowdfunding campaigns? The concept of having an artist say to the fans “We’ve got this REALLY great idea, but we need your dollars to make it happen.” seems absurd. What happens when that great idea ends up falling flat and the fans are left downloading binary coded excrement?

“It’s such a strange and backwards thing,” says Lander. “I don’t understand some of these bands that have four or five members, and they all have full time jobs, yet they’re crowdfunding?”

 

Monet adds, “I think people are gonna get sick of it. We hope to never do it, but would use it for emergencies. I just want people to buy the merch rather than an invisible donation. We feel weird asking people for money…we absolutely hate it. Like if the tour bus breaks, it’s our responsibility to fix it. But we’ll ask around if someone can hook us up with a good deal from an honest mechanic? But we would never ask people for money.”

snailmate microwave

Ask the band what they love most about running a grassroots style tour, and they’ll tell you it’s the fans. Monet lights up when asked this question: “We love meeting the people who like our music! Keeping in contact, seeing people wearing our shirts when we revisit a town we played before is super cool. Right now we have a remix compilation in the works of “The Waiter”, and some bands are doing an actual cover and writing their own music and not even using the provided stems. And some did remixes as well…it’s been really cool!” Lander states with equal enthusiasm: “I feel like we’re friends with everyone. There’s people out there that we haven’t met personally that appreciate our music from afar and follow us. And when we discover them, it’s super humbling. They’re our homies!”

Watching the band perform live is a spectacle all its own. They’re a completely self-contained unit, traveling with their own lights and PA system for an all-encompassing experience. Monet’s clear acrylic drum kit glows pink, blue and yellow while showing no quarter to the fresh drum head purchased merely hours ago. Broken sticks are one possible souvenir a fan might pick up from the floor, but not tonight.

Lander’s comfort level behind the keys has grown by leaps and bounds. The once static and hyper focused frontman has broken out of his shell, highly animated and throwing in a repertoire of kung fu kicks and chops with the energy of a possessed Good Guys doll. If you look closely, you might catch a glint of maniacal persona on tunes like “Jumper/Cable” and “Suture Self”, while his counterpart twitches randomly without missing a beat. In the end, the only thing missing from this production is the rock cliche destroying of instruments in a glorious haze of artificial fog.

It’s near midnight when the band finishes loading up and saying goodbye to the fans and venue staff. Strong winds whip around a cool breeze and brilliant flashes of paparazzi lightning capture stills of old brick warehouses and loading docks. As we say our goodbyes, the heavens open up with chilly tears… as if the town is somberly saying “You two have a blessed day and come back and see us.”

As sad as it may be, this is rock-n-roll. The show must go on in the next town and the one after that, over and over again. The red tail lights disappear in the rain like the Mothman flying in reverse. Snailmate are wicked, and they’re coming your way.

~

For more Snailmate, visit their webpage.

chris nunley 000Chris Nunley began writing for YabYum in the Summer of 2015 and his latest series The Noise Floor seeks to explore the outer limits of sound. When he’s not popping in for a local show or taking road trips, he devotes his creative energy to his evolving electronic music project, Sliide.

7 Righteous Rock Videos

Fairy Bones
“No One Can Suffer Like I Can”

All-Night Visitors
“Animal Mind”

Whispering Wires
“No Buddies”

The Linecutters
“Anxiety”

The Dead-On
“Lovesick”

Zipheads
“No 2 Ways About It”

Welshly Arms
“Legendary”

5 Stellar Americana Singles

americana 000decker.

“Matchstick Men”

Oh, Brandon Decker… or, as we like to call them at YabYum, Deckie Do. And what a do-er he is. As the head honcho of the NorAZ musical enclave, decker., Brandon has been busy these past few years. In addition to taking the decker. crew on tour to far corners of the U.S., Decker released Snake River Blues (the album) while working on Snake River Blues (the documentary) in 2016. This year, he shows no signs of slowing down. With a new album in the works, Decker’s also taking on a new cause: fighting the feeling of futility that seems to have overpowered the citizens of our nation. His new single, “Matchstick Men”, just might be what is need to light a fire under the asses of voter constituencies everywhere. At least, that’s what we’re hoping for. Give “Matchstick Men” by decker. a listen below and join us in the wait for the release of the complete album on 8/25. You can also head here to get that pre-order of Into the Red locked in before the official release.

Hannah & Maggie

“Sarasota”

Hannah Hickok and Maggie Kraus have been playing music together since ’09 which might have something to do with the complete fluidity in their new single, “Sarasota”. In less than three minutes, Hannah & Maggie completely suckered me in with their blithe and dreamy indie-folk sound. The vocal harmonies alone will quickly enamor you with “Sarasota” as well. This single comes to us from the duo’s latest album, Oh No, which came out in May of this year. Give the new song from Hannah & Maggie a listen below…

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

“No Glory”

I first heard the stellar musical stylings of The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers earlier this year and I’ve been hooked ever since. Their latest single, “No Glory”, which came out in June, is the title track to the band’s forthcoming full length. Fusing Southern Gospel with Heartland Americana, The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers give shape to an earthy but uplifting sound. Give your spirits a lift with “No Glory” from The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers and join me in the wait for the band’s LP due out later this year.

Calum Bowling 

“I Wanna Ramble I Wanna Whine”

Calum Bowling emerges from the bluesier end of Americana with his brash new single, “I Wanna Ramble I Wanna Whine”. The guitar work and gritty vocal style almost have a Detroit slant, which might come as a bit of a surprise for those of you who already know that Calum comes to us from Huddersfield [UK], not The Motor City. “I Wanna Ramble I Wanna Whine” is the title track from Bowling’s latest release which dropped earlier this month. Check out the new single from Calum Bowling below or head here to score the complete album, I Wanna Rumble I Wanna Whine.

Bigfoot Yancey

“Downtown Girl”

Get ready for some foot-stomping, hand-clapping good times with Bigfoot Yancey and their new single, “Downtown Girl”. The alt-folk act starts the track by asking, what do you do when that woman at the bar doesn’t “want some of this”? You move on because, as Bigfoot Yancey says, “your soul lives on.” And so sets the laidback, porch-pickin’ feel of this quartet from Indiana… banjo and mandolin included, obviously.  This single comes to us from the band’s latest LP, Hills, which came out earlier this year. If you dig “Downtown Girl” below, then you should definitely check out the complete album from Bigfoot Yancey (available here).