The Tastemaker’s Ten: Steve Ostrov

Local musician and tastemaker Steve Ostrov is a straight-shooter by day and punk-rocker with a penchant for pedals come night. Check out Steve’s stellar list of singles he thinks every music-lover should hear below and then head to Chopper John’s this coming Friday to see him perform live with his band, The 16 Eyes. More info on that event can be found here.

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John Trubee
“Peace & Love (Blind Man’s Penis)”

Five minutes to write a terrible poem. A lifetime to enjoy the results. This is what happens when a bored teen reads too much. Anyone could have done this, but John thought of it before the rest of us. Read the incredible story here.

Bobby Parker
“Watch Your Step”

This song from 1961 inspired too many rock songs to count. How many do you hear?

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis
“Pots And Pans”

Eddie’s sax is swinging hard, but Shirley Scott’s Hammond work is what really shines on this cut. I wish more jazz sounded like this!

Race Marbles
“Like A Dribbling Fram”

A zany “Zimmy” send up by a Canadian DJ. Or is this the embryonic beginning of rap? The lyrics are pretty ridiculous, but the understated music is really cool.

The Dickies
“Where Did His Eye Go?”

An unlikely target for punk rock ridicule. Sorry, Sammy, but this is how you write lyrics! THE DICKIES SHOULD HAVE RULED THE WORLD!!!

Django Reinhardt
“Appel Direct (Appel Indirect)”

So simple and yet brilliantly weird, and menacing. Django did more with 2 fingers than most guitarists can do with all 10 and a music degree.

The Jolly Green Giants
“Busy Body”

Killer stomping garage cover of an obscure R&B gem from Jimmy Hanna and The Dynamics. They released one glorious record and then dropped off the face of the earth. The flip, “Caught You Red Handed” is also a monster!

The Fender IV
“Margaya”

My favorite surf instro. So intense! Guitarist Randy Holden later lost the reverb, discovered humbucking pickups, got a stoopid big amp, and spent a year in Blue Cheer.

Les Fleur de Lys
“Circles”

An amazing cover of an already amazing song. The guitar sure sounds like Jimmy Page’s session work although some would still debate it. Regardless, it gets me every time.

George Shearing
“Happy Days Are Here Again”

A substantial re-imagining of a classic piece of fluff. The chords are so dense and somber. I first heard this cut years ago on a Las Vegas radio show where Teller (of Penn and Teller) was playing recordings he liked. Well, it could have been him, but how would anyone have known if it weren’t?

Top 5 Shows of the Week: May 19 – 25

Lots of rad shows happening this week in addition to what we got here. You can check out more shows happening in the Phoenix Metro Area on our Upcoming Shows page here! You can also click on the show flyers below for more information about those events!

7 Stellar Songwriters You Need to Know

songwritersThe SunPunchers

“Screwtop Head”

The SunPunchers released two singles in prelude to their new EP which comes out THIS WEEKEND. These songs have a sticky summer warmth, like laying on a screened-in porch on a day buzzing with mosquitoes. There is an aesthetic here of sun tea and swimming holes brought to life through stunning, and stunningly demure, musicianship. The release show goes down at The Newton on May 20. Once you hear “Screwtop Head” from The SunPunchers, I can’t imagine that there’s anywhere else you’ll want to be this coming Sunday. More info on that event can be found here.

Violetta Zironi

“Half Moon Lane”

Wait until you hear the ethereal voice of 21-year-old Italian singer/songwriter Violetta Zironi. It’s not just her voice that enchants listeners of “Half Moon Lane” but the charming narrative of her songwriting style.  The single has a stripped-down sound reminiscent of those swan-throated folk musicians of the 1970s like Vashti Bunyan. Just part my hair down the middle and wrap me in an afghan and I could listen to “Half Moon Lane” from Violetta Zironi all afternoon. I certainly hope to hear more from this artist soon.

Tuelo

“Saint Margaret”

“Saint Margaret” kicks off with just a minimal guitar line and the soulful voice of Tuelo Minah. That’s actually all you need. But, as the underlying instrumentation picks up, Tuelo continues to drive the single with those powerful pipes of hers. The song pays tribute to Minah’s mother in a way that I find both empowering and tinged with a certain sorrow that I feel many women hold for the experiences of our mothers. “Saint Margaret” by Tuelo is emotionally moving and sonically compelling so I suggest you check the single below…

Luca Chesney

“Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”

There are some really interesting things happening in the subtle sound permutations on “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”; the new single from NYC-based singer, songwriter, and producer Luca Chesney. This alt-electro track is a disembodied but emotionally textured journey. “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life” is the first single from Chesney’s s/t debut EP. I’m hoping to get my hands on that release sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this new single from Luca Chesney.

Madeleine Dopico

“Me to Bleed”

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the music of Madeleine Dopico in our publication and I’m starting to think that we’re going to build a lasting relationship. The promising young songwriter crafts emotionally powerful soundscapes that she meets head on with her robust voice. On “Me to Bleed”, Dopico creates a haunting atmosphere for her brooding lyrics and manages to throw in just the right amount of dramatic flair to keep things interesting. That’s a combo a mortician’s daughter like myself can get behind in her pop music.

Bradford Loomis

“Drive You Home”

Bradford Loomis (of The Banner Days) dropped his first solo album since 2013 in March. Bravery and the Bell features this gem of a single, “Drive You Home”. Loomis penned the album after learning that his father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. The soulful sound of Bradford Loomis’ folk style comes through with an earthy Americana that feels like it could easily find a home in Nashville, but the artist calls Washington (state… not that other one) home. Check out “Drive You Home” from Bradford Loomis here…

 Arpeggi

“Songs Don’t Help”

The Los Angeles songwriter who pens somber ditties under the name Arpeggi released her debut album, Senioritis, around this time last year. On that album, you’ll find “Songs Don’t Help” which delves into those Bell Jar moments when nothing seems to push back the skulking clouds of depression – not friends, not love, not even music (gasp). If you like your indie music stripped down and brooding, I suggest checking out “Songs Don’t Help” from Arpeggi. Or head here for the complete album.

7 Rad Music Videos: The Neo-Soul Edition

Kai Straw
“Hurricane”

Paul Rey
“All Falls Down”

Adam Naas
“Please, Come Back to Me”

Ashleyi Ascent
“Self Revelation”

Joel Culpepper
“Don’t Mean I’m in Love”

Population:7
“Blindspot”

Live Lan
“Whine”

For the Record: Silver Alert by Serene Dominic

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Dementia Awareness Week kicked off yesterday and, to mark the occasion, Serene Dominic released Silver Alert, his musical examination of the perils and joys of aging. Dominic dealt with the disease directly when it affected his own father. And now, as the artist moves into the realm of AARP, his work looks inward to explore what waits for all of us in that approaching Winter.

I have to say, this is a very timely topic for me this year. As my partner and I approach Middle Age (ahem), our parents are preparing to entering their Golden Years. And, at this pivotal time, there are things to be considered. Conversations to be had. For my family, the family of a coroner and mortician, we’re pretty comfortable with those little chats. How do you want to be cared for if you are no longer capable of caring for yourself? What do you want done with your remains after you die? That’s a normal Friday afternoon chat at my house.

Silver Alert takes a more personal approach to the topic of aging and delves into matters like cougar bars and vanishing record stores. The album explores a variety of different sounds as it explores its host of topics.

Of course, that’s no surprise given the breadth of Serene Dominic’s body of work. As you move through the discography, there are moments of pop, of glam, of vintage rocknroll, and just about everything else you might sample in a “History of Popular Music” course at your local university. Silver Alert provides a similar melting pot of sounds as the narrative unfolds.

I had a chance to chat with the man himself about the making of, and the inspiration behind, Silver Alert. Read my conversation with Serene Dominic below and don’t forget about the release party later this week! The album release happens on May 19th at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. A number of local favorites will be joining Serene Dominic’s GemSeekers including The Lonesome Wilderness, Carol Pacey & the Honeyshakers, The Bittersweet Way, and The 1140s. More information on that event can be found here.

Carly Schorman: Where did you record the album?

Serene Dominic: This was recorded at home, where I’ve recorded everything I’ve done since 2010. The Green Room is a spare bedroom in my Sunnyslope cinder block house, no sound proofing or anything and yet it sounds pretty dead which is great for drums and vocals. I always love reading about historic studios that it turns out were once former meat lockers or a movie theater like Stax. Or that Motown was once somebody’s home. I love hearing records where you can sort of hear the room. That has something to do with capturing a band performance as opposed to just writing a song as I record it with drum loops or samples, which is what I always do. So Silver Alert is half me recording with the GemSeekers and half what I usually do which is make up something with drum loops and write songs around beats. I hope it doesn’t sound like two different extremes.

And who might the “GemSeekers” be in this instance?

Since the beginning it’s been Nick Pasco who plays with The Breakup Society (who are gonna put a new album out soon on Onus Records) and Andrew Jemsek (from Drunk N Horny, Moonlight Magic, Fathers Day and a bunch of other bands). We used to have Andrew’s brother, Tristan Jemsek from Dogbreth and Diners, but he moved to Seattle. We also have Jedidiah Foster (from The Bittersweet Way) on guitar, although he was doing bass for some shows. Now we have Jim Dustan (from World Class Thugs and RPM Orchestra) on bass. If this lineup solidifies, we’ll probably do a whole album of just the band. Or maybe an EP.

Do you keep a running tally of the number of songs or albums you’ve released? Rough estimates also welcome.

I did when I was a teenager and first began writing songs and I had hundreds then. Of course, they were mostly crap but they had something that I might use later on. There’s two songs on the new album that are really pretty old, music-wise. “Go Value Yourself” was made up from bits of an older song I wrote when I was 18 and all jazzed up about Saturday night. And now it’s a pep talk for an old guy taking a job as a Walmart greeter!

I do the RPM Challenge every February, when you pledge to record an entire album of new music in 28 days every February, so I’ve built up quite a backlog. I’ve been doing that for seven years now and I’m kind of on a constant recording schedule year round. So it’s hundreds of songs. I’m in the middle of compiling a Serene D album discography /timeline and hopefully will get all of these up on the Onus Bandcamp site.

1. Box City: The Compleat Recordings [1992-1994]
2. Heathens of Vaudeville [1996]
3. Adult Contemptuous [recorded 1998 – released 2003]
4. Songs From The Serene Dominic Show EP [2008]
5. Unnatural Blonde [2010]
6. 24 Originals Happening Now [2011 – this had 25 songs!]
7. Winter Trance Party [2012]
8. Speculation [2013]
9. The Holiday Slides Project [2013 – cassette only]
10. For Your Extreme Convenience [2014]
11. Cutting Taylor Modern [2015 unreleased]
12. Swimming in the Head [Cast Album]
13. Dark Lullaby [2016 unreleased]
14. Silver Alert [2017]

Cutting Taylor Modern will come out when all the songs on it have been recorded by someone else. Dark Lullaby is a new musical which will come out when the musical is ready to be performed.

Silver Alert is proving quite the timely art piece in my personal life, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I was hoping you might share with our readers where the inspiration for this album came from?

I became preoccupied with aging because, well, I’m aging. The last two years are the first time I’ve been treated by people like I’m old, giving me the senior discount without me asking for it. I was looking for a title that reflected that.

I was originally going to call it From Here to Senility but then I kept driving around 1-17 and kept seeing Silver Alert warnings. And I was wondering where these old guys are fleeing to. Anthem? I just pictured Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond just not seeing a familiar tree and then running scared in a wrong direction for miles. I put myself in that mindset for “Pain In My Joints.” And there’s a song called “Where’s the White Shadow?” which I contributed to a Beastie Boys’ hardcore tribute album of Related Records last year. Its pretty unrecognizable from what they did. They wrote a bratty song about the TV show, “The White Shadow”, being cancelled but instead of coming from a young punk it’s coming from an old guy who’s disoriented because he can’t watch Ken Howard anymore.

I’ve seen that confusion up close and I’m scared because my father had dementia in his 80s and I saw a man who was always so meticulous all his life suddenly become permanently altered. And he watched a lot of TV towards the end which didn’t help because every newscaster or TV detective he’s mistaken for someone in his early life.

I freak out at the slightest thing that can seem like a senior moment. Like, all the sudden, I can’t remember the name of someone who was an SNL cast member. And I get defensive that, no, this is not a senior moment. I mean when I was 20, sure, I could name all the SNL cast members. I can still name those ones. But now we’ve had 40 plus years of names to forget. Fuck me if I forget the guy who played Deuce Bigelow for a couple of minutes. Who cares? I could look it up on the internet on my fucking phone. Why bother to commit anything to memory?

It seems to me like we’re much of the same mind. You don’t seem afraid to confront the notions of death and aging head on. Is that the result of your upbringing? Or the result of your years as a songwriter spent delving the reaches of your psyche for workable material?

I don’t think it has anything to do with my upbringing. I didn’t have deep philosophical conversations with my parents about death or anything like that growing up. I didn’t have anyone close to me die until I was 21. So my working knowledge of death when I was a child, the only people I always thought of as being dead were Buddy Holly, Laurel and Hardy, and JFK. And Nat King Cole because he died of cancer because he smoked.

So all my ideas about death weren’t fully formed until a lot later. Now this late in life when someone dies, it’s not as weird a thing. It’s like they just moved to The Netherlands. Recently, I found out an old friend and bandmate of mine died and I learned it through Facebook. So I wrote “Subterranean Heaven” about him. One day he was posting about some record he likes. Next day – The Netherlands!

What new project(s) do you have in the works?

[I] will probably release Dark Lullaby in the Fall and try to get [the show] put on then or the following spring. The original idea was to do it as a cast album, but I really love the way it came out as a standalone album so maybe the version I just did myself will come out as is. I mean, doing it as a live musical could take a while just to find someone who wants to do it. That’s my biggest priority. And The GemSeekers are going to be the band in the show so we’ll probably start doing a lot of those songs live too.

As a sideline, I’d like The GemSeekers to do an EP as well, so maybe we’ll just re-record some of the stuff from my previous records we do live and some Dark Lullaby stuff. Maybe do it live at Audioconfusion! I’ve been wanting to record somewhere else and I keep threatening Jalipaz that we’re gonna do it, but then I wind up demoing stuff and then I like the way it turns out. Recording yourself is a dangerous mindset. Like cutting your own hair.

Head out to the Silver Alert Release Party (and Onus Records’ Two-Year-Anniversary Celebration) at The Rogue Bar this weekend! More info here!

7 Stellar Singles: The Neo-Soul Edition

Neo-Soul 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Wallace

“Diaspora”

I don’t even know where to begin with New Zealand’s Wallace. I mean, should I start with the jazzy vocals that floats atop “Diaspora” or that funky soup of sound that simmers underneath? It’s all so good. Wallace describes her sound as “future soul” and I certainly hope there’s a predictive element in that tag. Wallace teamed up with Sydney-based producer and vocalist Crooked Letter to create “Diaspora” using samples from Nigerian funk music. Check out the new single from Wallace below and keep watch for her debut EP later this year!

Frank Affer

“The Times”

Frank Affer teamed up with his brother to give shape to his forthcoming debut EP, L U V S O U N Z. “The Times” is just a little sampling from that album. Blurring the line between melodic rap and pop, Frank Affer drops his breezy lyrics over a subtle but sprightly beat.  The track definitely goes in for some of that radio-ready production, but it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Not at all. “The Times” keeps things easygoing, but that doesn’t stop it from getting stuck in your brain space. This is a promising start for Frank Affer. Give “The Times” a spin below…

OsagieTheGreat

“The Water Song”

Richmond’s OsagieTheGreat takes a simple, kickback beat and shapes out a smooth summer single with “The Water Song”. Just like its straightforward moniker, “The Water Song” doesn’t go for an overly-embellished sound. No need to church things up when you’ve got a good thing going. The single was produced by Daghe and was released earlier this month so it still has that new car smell. Make sure you check out “The Water Song” from OsagieTheGreat below…

Afrikan Boy

“LITW”

Afrikan Boy (AB) gets personal on his new single, “LITW”. Recounting the story of his parents, from their initial meeting to their relocation to the United Kingdom. The single starts with a bit of whimsical guitar work, but the story carries a serious tone that matters the implications of its message. Don’t go into “LITW” expecting an easy hook and endlessly repeated lyrics. AB turns the focus inward with his lyrical prowess on “LITW”. Give the single a spin here…

Sam Nicolosi

“Our Blood” 

Sam Nicolosi takes an R&B path to Neo-Soul. His new single, “Our Blood”, infuses soul, blues, hiphop, and commercial pop into one chill sound. The saying goes that blood is thicker than water, but what does that really mean when there’s no shared love? According to “Our Blood”, not much. This track comes from Nicolosi’s debut EP, Origins, which dropped in April. If you dig “Our Blood”, make sure you delve into the full five-track release.

Jonny Lemons

“Stay Alive”

Phoenix R&B artist Jonny Lemons infuses an assortment of other styles, from hiphop to indie, for a modern twist on Soul. His new single, “Stay Alive”, addresses the anguish of loss not only in the lyrics, but also with the poignant texturing on the production end thanks to Jonny Lemons and Ryan Daminson. The vocals move from ambient to a sharp and expressive rhyme style that reminds me of Sage Francis in the way it is real and raw. Give “Stay Alive” from Jonny Lemons a spin below…

MF Robots

“Come On with the Good Thing”

The London duo known as MF Robots revives the vivacity of disco with their neo-soul sound.  “Come On with the Good Thing” has it all: the percussion, the horns, the harmonies, even the cowbell. MF Robots demonstrates some sharp musicianship in this funky nod to the Age of Glitter. And, just in case you’re wondering, the name stands for “Music For Robots,” not that other MF. Get down to “Come on with the Good Thing” from MF Robots below…

7 Eclectic Summertime Singles

summertime singles 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Exxxtra Crispy

“Scumbag” 

Exxxtra Crispy might be a new band on the Tempe scene, but this rowdy bunch is comprised of some pretty prominent players. The band just dropped their debut album, They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is But It Do, on 4/20 which includes this sweet single. “Scumbag” kicks off with Latarian Milton talking up that hoodrat life before some “totally danceable minimalist-pop-power-funk/punk” takes over. This single is a superb example of that Exxxtra Crispy sound: smart sample selection, horns, and some seriously riotous punk vocals all smushed together. This band might just be for you if your idea of summer fun includes late nights, loud music, recreational drugs, and, well, you get it…. Smash that play button below and don’t forget to delve into the full Exxtra Crispy experience here.

moonweather

“Drying Out”

Moonweather might only count three official members amongst their ranks, but for the making of the new album, they called upon friends near and far until the list of participating artists and musicians became a bit too long to print. The band describes their sound as “kind of like Sufjan Stevens and Modest Mouse had a child they’re both disappointed in,” but I think moonweather harkens back to even earlier indie. “Drying Out” has a bit of a Pavement feel to me, particularly during the early part of the song. The single has a bit of a listless feel – you know, that lazy hazy feeling that you get on a sticky summer afternoon when you have nothing to do bit listen to records and stare at the ceiling fan. That is this song.

Call Me Karizma

“Zombie”

If you missed Call Me Karizma when they passed through Tempe back in March, you missed out but you can correct that with a little at-home listening. Call Me Karizma opts for a more pharmaceutical application of the term “Zombie” on their chill new single. This “emo-pop” number has a slouchy feel but the production is tight. That just might be the modern mode of psychedelia for the pill-poppin’ generation. Danceable and sometimes depressing. I dig it. Zone out to “Zombie” from Call Me Karizma below…

Cooper Claire

“Pedaling”

Michigan musician Cooper Claire wrote this indie ditty about riding a bike with a friend. How cute and summertime is that?! Claire takes us back to a a time “when friendship was effortless” and bicycles were our sole means of transport. There’s a lot of variance within the soundscape here so make sure you park it for the long-haul with “Pedaling” or, at the very least, hold out past the 90-second-mark when we catch that downhill speed.

Amariszi

“Va T’en Fou”

This riotous act from the Netherlands combines Balkan influences with klezmer, folk, pop, and even a touch of reggae. Yes, folks, you read that right. Their new single “Va T’en Fou” is just a taste of what can be expected from their new album, Babel Fish. I just love this track. “Va T’en Fou” feels like a gypsy riverboat party on the Seine in Paris. Amariszi is definitely one of those bands I want to see live so let’s hope they’re ready to talk U.S. tour.

Syntax Club

“Mississippi, Come and Take Me”

Despite the carcinogenic amount of sunlight in my early days, there’s a little bubble of nostalgia that gains extra glow when the weather warms. The Oklahoma City duo known as Syntax Club manages to capture that seasonal buoyancy in their beach pop sound on “Mississippi, Come and Take Me” despite their distance from the ocean. There’s carefree school-vacation feel on this single that calls for flipflops, cutoffs, and a boombox down by the river. Check out “Mississippi, Come and Take Me” by Syntax Club below…

The Apaches

“Pistoleros”

When it comes to The Apaches, don’t just stop at one song. My suggestion is to start with “Pistoleros” and then work your way through all of Musica Surfica Vol. III & IV; the followup to 2016’s Musica Surfica Vol. I & II, of course. In fact, you could just go all the way back to Vol. I  & II to partake of the complete set (thus far). The Apaches add a splash of desert garage to their beachy surf sound. If you’re getting ready to light the tiki torches and grill up some Sonoran dogs, The Apaches have your playlist covered. You can sample “Pistoleros”, the opening track from Vol. III & IV, or you can just head here to score that complete album.

7 Fresh Hiphop Videos

PHFAT x Mac Motel
“Keep You Safe”

Tok Sik
“Show Me the Money”

Phoenix
“Welcome to the Neighborhood”

Lij
“Absence”

Jamar
“Freedom”

Brilly Asher
“Toonami Flow”

F.A.M.E.
“Used To”