Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 28: Hex Cassette

Hex Cassette at the Hi-Dive December 23, 2021, photo by Tom Murphy

Hex Cassette is an EBM/synth pop/confrontational industrial artist from Denver, Colorado. As the solo project of Zachary Jordan, Hex Cassette has been around since the mid-2010s and his gift for crafting fairly accessible, exuberant dance music with a darkwave flavor has garnered him a bit of a local following among people who not only appreciate his particular style of music but potentially of anyone that would like to see musicians engage with the crowd in a way that is aimed at blurring the line between performer and audience and sharing in a dissolving of a complacent dynamic in live music. His spirited shows involve wicked but benevolent humor including a comical needling of the audience and it wouldn’t be unusual to see Jordan not just roaming the stage but coming off stage with his animated style and bringing that energy into the crowd. His latest release is Pomegranate Death and while the themes of death and mortality and irreverence for stuffy, traditional religion and culture remains a feature from the music of Hex Cassette in general, the album is also one that injects into the mix expressions of hopefulness and seeking to live a vital existence. All set to some of the most vibrant electronic music you’re likely to hear all year.

Hex Cassette celebrates the release of the album on June 10, 2022 at Jester’s Palace with other local darkwave greats Church Fire and eHpH as well as experimental indie rock artist Pink Lady Monster. The show is also the tour kickoff for Hex Cassette who will be headed out on a mini-tour of the west where you will be able to purchase a, yes, cassette copy of Pomegranate Death. Listen to our interview with Jordan on Bandcamp linked below.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 26: ADULT.

ADULT. at Larimer Lounge 10/13/18, photo by Tom Murphy

ADULT. is an electronic duo from Detroit that has been evolving its blend of dark techno, noise and post-punk since forming in 1998. Early releases displayed the project’s affinity for early techno and around the time of its 2007 fourth album Why Bother? you could hear the experiments in production and soundscapes with beats that yielded fascinating results on the 2005 album Gimme Trouble turn into almost set pieces in an album with an almost cinematic aesthetic, like dynamic visual design translated directly into sound design and songwriting. Since then ADULT.’s releases have been more overtly political and commenting on aspects of culture and society that have been corrosive to human culture and civilization in an accelerating way that has also more or less made cataclysmic climate disaster in our lifetimes a foregone conclusion. Since signing with Dais, the hip experimental music imprint, ADULT.’s output has seemed even more intentional and focused in its critique starting with 2018’s This Behavior, to the 2020 album Perception is/as/of Deception and now to the 2022 album Becoming Undone. Nicola Kuperus and and Adam Lee Miller both have a background in the visual arts and punk and both come through in striking visuals for the album covers and promotional material as well as the composition of the music and certainly in the band’s confrontational live performances. With the current underground popularity of what is called darkwave ADULT. seems to have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance after spending more than a decade pioneering some of the modern style of the more electronic wing of that loose movement while also showing what the music can do when there is a unity of aesthetic vision brought to bear with strong concepts and creative commentary on important issues of the day and personal impact of things like the commodification of all areas of life, misogyny, environmental destruction, societal complacency in the face of rising fascism in what were once some of the most democratic nations on Earth. Though the music is accessible it is also challenging and the opposite of dissociation in a time of global crises. In this interview we discuss the band’s early days and its development, its visual elements and the ways in which the new record has delved in novel sonic areas for the project in line with what the title would suggest as the world as we know it seems to be coming apart or certain in a state of perilous flux.

Listen to our interview with Adam Lee Miller on Bandcamp and go see ADULT. live at Hi-Dive on Saturday, May 14, 2022 with Kontravoid and Spike Hellis.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 25: Reverb and The Verse

Reverb And The Verse, photo by Tom Murphy

Reverb And The Verse has been going in Denver since 1999 when Shane Etter and Jahi Simbai (aka Providence) met through friends who figured they might gel as a duo. Between Etter’s technical wizardry with synthesizers and production and Simbai’s deft and thought-provoking wordplay Reverb And The Verse became a staple in the local underground music scene. But their wide-ranging musical interests and eclectic aesthetics always seemed to make them perhaps too experimental or not otherwise right for the hip-hope scene and too hip-hop for other scenes. And yet Etter and Simbai have produced an impressive body of work across ten albums including their 2022 and final album BLACKWALL. From jump it’s a decidedly different and engrossing album that hits like a secret and great industrial or darkwave record but with a hip-hop production aesthetic (of course much of industrial production was inspired by hip-hop sampling techniques and sequencing) and Simbai’s commanding vocals and incisive social analysis. One would hope that in an era when Vince Stapes, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, Tyler the Creator, Death Grips, Moodie Black, Dälek and clipping. thrive that Reverb And The Verse would have been embraced by a wider audience but time will tell. BLACKWALL is arguably the duo’s finest moment across a catalog of consistently impressive and imaginative work with something to say with poetic finesse. All of it can be found on the Reverb And The Verse Bandcamp page.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Etter and Simbai to discuss their backgrounds in music, engineering (not the musical kind) and the ideas and experiences that shaped their extraordinary music. Listen below on Bandcamp and look out for a vinyl release later in 2022 and, with any luck, live performances of these songs and news of what the artists will do next.

reverbandtheverse.com

Reverb And The Verse on Instagram

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 24: Ov Stars

Ov Stars, photo by Nick Kiefer

Ov Stars is a duo comprised of Alice Genese and Shaune Pony Heath. Genese some may know for her tenure as the bassist in Psychic TV from 2003-2020. She had also been involved in the underground music scene around Hoboken, NJ as a member of Gut Bank and Sexpod whose own output is perhaps long neglected but worth exploring on their own. Heath was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the USA at 23 to pursue a creative life not as readily available in his home country. Genese had already started releasing music as a solo artist with her 2014 debut album Sticks and Bones and through her brother she was introduced to Heath and the two gelled personally and creatively. Their debut EP as Ov Stars, Tuesdays, is a warm and energetic blend of cosmic country circa Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, psychedelia and pop. Fans of Low and Marianne Faithful will find a good deal to appreciate in the finely crafted melodies and evocative atmospheres across the record’s five tracks. The duo is starting to perform live shows so check in with Ov Stars on Instagram @ovstarsband for live dates and notification of when the vinyl edition of the EP is released in later 2022. Tuesdays is, however, available now digitally on Bandcamp.

Psychic TV at Summit Music Hall 12/11/15, photo by Tom Murphy. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on left, Alice Genese on right

Listen to our interview with Ov Stars on Bandcamp and if you happen to be in Brooklyn on or around June 30, 2022 you can see Ov Stars performing as part of the We Are But One – Breyer P-Orridge exhibit at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 21: Joshua Ostrander aka Mondo Cozmo

Mondo Cozmo, photo by Travis Shinn

Mondo Cozmo aka Joshua Ostrander once fronted the alternative/indie rock bands Laguardia and Eastern Conference Champions before recording under his own name in 2016. The project’s records beginning with 2017’s Plastic Soul through New Medicine from 2020 have had a lively and eclectic quality that synthesizes Ostrander’s folk influences with those more experimental and electronic for a sound that feels both familiar and fresh. His 2022 album This Is For The Barbarians propels Ostrander’s creative instincts in interesting new directions for an album that is often evocatively intimate, delicately thoughtful, brash and rebellious and contemplative all at once. It is a deep record with thought-provoking and insightful commentary on the state of the country and the world as well as the impact of navigating a time of great conflict and disorder bordering on chaos. One hears in the music the influence of Bob Dylan, Radiohead and Bruce Springsteen. Ostrander consulted with the latter on some of the songwriting for the new record and in our interview with the open and engaging musician Ostrander talks about what he and the boss discussed.

Listen to the podcast interview on Bandcamp linked below, catch Mondo Cozmo on tour now with The Airborne Toxic Event. Follow Ostrander on his website www.mondocozmo.com.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 20: Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Anton Newcombe, photo by Thomas Girard

The Brian Jonestown Massacre has followed the colorful and heartfelt creative vision of Anton Newcombe since its 1990 inception in San Francisco. Its aesthetic informed by 60s psychedelic rock and experimental electronic music has evolved greatly in always fascinating directions through challenging personal times and tense periods within the band while garnering a strong cult following on the strength of its prolific output. Before psychedelic rock became a trendy style of music again in the past decade and a half, the Jonestown Massacre was influencing that directly or indirectly through bands it inspired or through Newcombe’s idiosyncratic mentoring. Too many people took the 2004 documentary Dig! at face value when it was a snapshot of a time in American underground music when alternative music was becoming relegated to the underground again while the possibilities of overcoming the forces of the music-industry-with-music-as-commodity seemed possible. Fast forward twenty years and Newcombe’s idealism and wide-ranging curiosity and creative vision seems vindicated by bands not only able to more directly reach an audience but one more organic and global. One June 24, 2022 the group will release its new album Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees, the product of much experimentation in terms of songwriting, production and testing reactions to the music through YouTube and other social media outlets and one of Newcombe’s strongest set of songs in recent years. We had a chance to speak with the songwriter about 2022 tourmates Mercury Rev, the band’s artwork for the tour posters unique to every date, his following the instinct to create regularly as a way of self-inspiration and staying in the habit of creating at as high a level as possible and the flow of the wordplay of his poetic and playful song titles among many other subjects.

Brian Jonestown Massacre performs at Ogden Theater on 04.12.22 with Mercury Rev. Listen to our interview with Newcombe on Bandcamp linked below. Full tour itinerary (including past dates) beneath the interview link and for more information please visit thebrianjonestownmassacre.com.

27th March 2022 Philadelphia, PA USA Union Transfer
28th March 2022 Brooklyn, NY USA Brooklyn Steel
29th March 2022 Jersey City, NJ USA White Eagle Hall
March 30th 2022 Baltimore, MD USA Rams Head Live
March 31st 2022 Providence, RI USA Columbus Theatre
April 1st 2022 Boston, MA USA Roadrunner
April 2nd 2022 Montreal, QC Canada Le National
April 4th 2022 Toronto, ON Canada Queen Elizabeth Theatre
April 5th 2022 Detroit, MI USA Majestic Theatre
April 6th 2022 Indianapolis, IN USA The Vogue
April 7th 2022 Cleveland OH USA Agora Theatre
April 8th 2022 Chicago, IL USA The Vic Theatre
April 9th 2022 Milwaukee, WI USA Turner Hall Ballroom
April 10th 2022 Minneapolis, MN USA First Avenue
April 12th 2022 Denver, CO USA Ogden Theatre
April 13th 2022 Salt Lake City, UT USA Metro Music Hall
April 15th 2022 Vancouver, BC Canada Vogue Theatre
April 16th 2022 Tacoma, WA USA McMenamins Elks Temple Hotel – The Spanish Ballroom
April 17th 2022 Seattle, WA USA Showbox
April 18th 2022 Portland, OR USA Roseland Theatre
April 20th 2022 San Francisco, CA USA The Fillmore
April 21st 2022 San Francisco, CA USA The Fillmore
April 22nd 2022 Los Angeles, CA USA The Wiltern
April 23rd 2022 San Diego, CA USA The Observatory North Park
April 24th 2022 Santa Ana, CA USA The Observatory OC
April 25th 2022 Tucson, AZ USA The Rialto Theatre
April 27th 2022 San Antonio TX USA Paper Tiger
April 28th 2022 Austin, TX USA Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
April 29th 2022 Dallas, TX USA Granada Theater
April 30th 2022 Houston, TX USA The Heights Theater
May 2nd 2022 Lawrence, KS USA The Bottleneck
May 3rd 2022 Saint Louis, MO USA Delmar Hall
May 5th 2022 Nashville, TN USA Brooklyn Bowl
May 6th 2022 Birmingham, AL USA Saturn
May 7th 2022 Atlanta, GA USA Terminal West
May 9th 2022 Asheville, NC USA The Orange Peel
May 10th 2022 Carrboro, NC USA Cat’s Cradle
May 11th 2022 Washington, DC USA Black Cat

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 13: New Standards Men

New Standards Men, photo by Tom Murphy

New Standards Men make music that defies simple genre categorization. Its threading together and fusing of multiple streams of influence has produced a music that has the subversive spirit of punk, psychedelia and the avant-garde, the technical prowess of jazz and metal and all informed by a sense of humor and disregard for stylistic convention. All while creating a prolific and surprisingly coherent and strong body of work including its 2020 and 2021 companion albums I Was A Starship and Spain’s First Astronaut respectively. The group came together in late 2016 when current members Drew Bissell and Jeremy Brashaw started jamming with another friend to produce music that drew on a desire to make music through a sort of improvisational/spontaneous composition approach that continues in the writing process to this day. The aforementioned albums were written and recorded during the same session but with the music having a slightly different flavor, one more heavy, psychedelic doom jazz, the other more John Zorn-esque free jazz. Companions in mood but clearly different facets of the New Standards Men sound. With now shows happening for over a year the group couldn’t release I Was A Starship in the usual fashion with the album release show but the record managed to pretty much sell out of its first run. It was then the band approached Chuck Coffey of the Denver-based Snappy Little Numbers imprint with the thought of reissuing the album and a tape of Spain’s First Astronaut and give a second wave of energy behind promoting those recordings. We had a chance to sit down with Bradshaw and Bissell to discuss their long history in underground music in both southern Iowa, where both spent much if not all of their formative years, and Denver and their deep comprehension of the dynamics of scenes as well as the process of making and releasing their music.

On Thursday, December 9, New Standards Men will have an album release show at the Hi-Dive as a co-album release show with Alien Neighborhood, joined for the night on stage by SPELLS and Moon Pussy. Listen to the interview with the band on Bandcamp below and connect with New Standards Men and Snappy Little Numbers at the links provided.

Snappy Little Numbers

New Standards Men on Facebook

New Standards Men on Instagram

Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 12: Siv Disa

Siv Disa, photo courtesy the artist

Siv Disa aka Siv Anderson is a Reyjavik, Iceland-based songwriter who released her debut album Dreamhouse through the UK imprint Trapped Animal in November 2021. Anderson had been recording her eclective and evocative experimental dream pop and releasing singles for the past couple of years and demonstrated a knack for delivering a whole concept with her songs and accompanying music videos. From early forays into songwriting and performing while in college in the Boston area to becoming immersed in the underground music world of New York City post-grad and working as a teacher, Anderson’s style of soundscaping and storytelling is riveting in its quality of operating from a place outside standard logical though. Dreamhouse itself follows a bit of a story arc in the way Anderson spent a great deal of time figuring out an order for the songs in terms of themes both subject matter and musical. The album’s free association of ideas with psychedelia/shoegaze, jazz structures, noise, ambient and pop in a way that seems to invoke concepts of non-linear film making has resulted in a set of songs that takes you through a broad range of emotions and a gentle catharsis. We had the opportunity to speak with the songwriter at length through the benefit of speaking over the internet about her roots in becoming an artist rather than something her parents would have approved right away, her development as a musician and film maker as well as the themes of some of her music.

Listen to the interview with Siv Disa on Bandcamp linked below (where you can also order a vinyl edition of Dreamhouse), check out the video for “Whistle” (filmed in Iceland) and connect with her at the links provided.

Siv Disa on Instagram, Facebook

Queen City Sounds Podcast Episode 11: Carmine Appice

Carmine Appice, photo courtesy the artist

Carmine Appice is one of the most influential drummers in the history of rock music. He first came to the attention of a wide audience as a member of heavy psychedelic band Vanilla Fudge. His imaginative, powerful and versatile style proved to be an influence on the likes of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Roger Taylor of Queen, Ian Paice of Deep Purple and really a whole generation of hard rock and heavy metal drummers. Across his long career, Appice has played in and contributed to albums by Cactus, Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Pink Floyd, Sly Stone and now with Appice Perdomo Project, his musical partnership with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo. The duo released its debut album Energy Overload at the end of August 2021 on Cleopatra Records. We had a chance to speak at length with Appice about when Led Zeppelin played its first North American show in Denver opening for Spirit and Vanilla Fudge, his long experience as a recording artist and performer and how laying down tracks in the early 80s paved the way for him to draw on older drum tracks to send to collaborators to recontextualize the beat by writing other music to existing rhythms in a process not unlike a remix by taking a great drum track and having it as the foundation for new music.

You can listen to the interview on the Queen City Sounds Podcast on Bandcamp below and watch the video for “Rocket To The Sun” on YouTube. For more information on Appice and his prolific and still active career spanning six decades, please visit his official website www.carmineappice.net and check out his colorful and engaging 2016 memoir Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums & Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Queen City Sounds Podcast Episode 6: Aaron Warren of Black Dice

Black Dice, photo by Dan Hougland

Black Dice was an integral part of New York City underground music in the late 90s and 2000s. Its members had come up through punk but took the spirit of open possibilities suggested by that music to do whatever the wanted to. Anything could be an instrument, any rhythmic idea could be made to work. Even ideas about how structure and patterns would emerge through a kind of sound collage cut-up technique that one might compare favorably with the work of Autechre and Aphex Twin. Key to the band’s creative approach and aesthetic was visual art concepts and its various album covers have been designed by members of the band in a style that hits you like graffiti by way of the Situationist International. The band’s methods of composition and expression proved influential to peers like Animal Collective, a band that on the surface makes an updated form of 90s indie pop but like that music truly experiments with the form and musical substance of the songwriting with forays into noise and sampling that enriched the palette of sounds and dynamics available in crafting songs.

In 2012 Black Dice released its then most recent album Mr. Impossible after which its members took time to pursue other projects, Eric Copeland releasing several solo works as well. With the pandemic thus far time seems to have stretched and compressed for most people and what may feel like a handful of years in the living it can stretch to several and in 2021 Black Dice released its latest record Mod Prog Sic. It is classic Black Dice as a free flowing parade of ideas, textures, rhythm and playful tone and signal processing like some futuristic hip-hop/EBM fusion psychedelic beatmaking. We recently had a chance to speak with longtime member Aaron Warren about his early musical days growing up in California and his formative years as an active member of the punk scene in Boulder and Denver in the 90s before ending up in NYC in pursuit of furthering his education and ending up in the city at a time of great creative ferment.

Black Dice performs at the Hi-Dive this Thursday, November 4, 2021, with cindygod and H-Lite (doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m., $15 presale, $20 day of show) but until then, please give our wide-ranging and in-depth interview (linked to Bandcamp below) with the insightful and engaging Aaron Warren a listen as it is another tale of the American underground music scene from the 1990s to the present.