Ben Katzman, the impresario behind BUFU records has an insatiable love for rock n roll. His solo project, Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser, is his primary outlet for his playful and absurdist take on rock tropes. We Bled to Shred is the newest record from the band—a heavy metal concept EP in which DIY rock is threatened by a musical machine beast called the Bloggernaut, which uses evil show promoters and publicists to undermine the scene. This record finds Ben Katzman in good company, backed up members of American Nightmare, Guerrilla Toss, and Diamond Plate. The EP’s title track is its first single, a two minute battle cry of NWBHM inspired metal, complete with finger tapped guitar breaks and double stopped riffs. The song isn’t exactly victorious—its reflection a life of grueling touring that often seems to offer little in return. But Katzman finds some pride and justification when he barks that he and his DeGreaser have bled to shred. It's hard not to believe him.
Check out the track below. We Bled to Shred is out June 30th on BUFU Records.
On Olden Goldies, Tall Juan mixes things up. The ecstatic rock n’ roll stylings of his latest transmission on BUFU Records resonate with the playfully inverted title of the record: on Olden Goldies, Argentinian-born Far-Rockaway transplant Tall Juan mines a sound reminiscent of the golden oldies of AM radio scuzz—but, not without reverence, warps the sound and structure of a racially and sonically exclusive genre with his Spanish lyrics and casual brashness. This nonchalantly progressive attitude, always tinged with a cocksure enthusiasm, colors the resplendent Olden Goldies with an insouciance tinged with loss and hardship—of drug addiction, heartbreak, and immigration—that Juan bats away with a grin. But beneath this grin scratches, yelps, and yawps Juan’s inimitable voice, a testament to both his Latin roots and his new digs in Queens.
Ranging from a youthful squeal on “Time Bomb” to the soaring spaciousness on the reconciliatory “Kaya” to the introspective melodiousness on slow-burning closer “Take Your Time,” Juan’s versatile voice jaunts with the listener through a rollicking subway ride around Juan’s geographies and relationships. Although Tall Juan may “not know what to do” as he maintains on “I Don’t Know What To Do,” our next step, as listeners of Olden Goldies, is clear: to canonize Juan along with the rockstars of the golden oldies, celebrating both his virtuosity—comparable to classic rock’s standard-bearers—and his visionary rejuvenation of a dormant genre.
On Big French's debut Downtown Runnin, songwriter Quentin Moore’s voice rarely dips from a falsetto and every available space is spackled with manic electric guitar work. After four years, the group's forthcoming LP sees them paring back a bit, but they're nevertheless managing the strangest diversions and insights while keeping tightly tethered to pop. Recorded on reel-to-reel with help from keyboardist Zach Phillips (of OSR Tapes and many affiliated projects), Big French’s Stone Fish is intimate, still manic but more quietly so, with Phillips’ contribution beaming through the mix and the instrumentation. On the warm two-minute “Apartments For The West,” Moore and Phillips fall into a steady, mostly soft groove. This time, Moore’s voice is proximal to the song, the thing around which all the little computer blips and horn intrusions clamber. His language is sing-songy but dense, mutating line by line like a Stein poem: “They’re planning an apartment for the west / they’re sealing new apartments for the west / they’re shielding new apartments for the west / crawling through the window drawing breath.” As the voice seesaws, the thought wanders beyond gentrification, hitting even closer to home—"Thy will be done," Moore had sung in the first minute, and subtle intimations of death and afterlife continue to creep in. "Your sill is an apartment for the west," and you've become the target of a larger plan.
Haunting harmonies drifting through a deep foggy night, the eerie vocals of L.A.'s Dimples begin to tug away at your insides. Their new LP Whimpers on Nicey Music is a collection of cerebral folk music floating atop smoke signals only to be confused for a mirage. Their meticulously designed campfire soundscapes seem to evaporate out of their souls, appearing and vanishing into thin air. “Chains of Shame” bleeds a raw emotion that lingers even after the sounds dissipate. Dimples weave a droning melody that is met with their hypnotically soothing voices. In the video for “Chains of Shame” presented by Giraffe Studios, an old man wearing a cowboy hat wanders down an empty highway. His suit is adorned with rhinestones and decorated to look like a skeleton. He sings along to "Chains of Shame" as he carries himself along this endless highway, hovering like a ghost.
Whimpers is out now on Nicey Music. Dimples is on tour starting at the end of April, check the dates below.
El Murki’s Breakeadito hurdles along at a ludicrous speed. From the very first locomotive kicks of “Kagemusha S.A.” to the slippery juke stutter of “160 Tranqui,” a tilting inertia propels each fragmentary transmission that composes this album from the Argentinian producer otherwise known as Leandro Ramirez. At this streaking velocity, the sounds—ranging from synth squeaks to vocal shards—atomize into discrete blips, components of the stuttering pastiche formulated by El Murki’s goofball poetics. In this state of overdrive, the quantized particles of Breakeadito highlight “Kahn” smear into a chromatic spectrality textured by sputters and pings. And it’s a sumptuous, though overwhelming, texture. But what sticks here isn’t necessarily the full weight of the variegated onslaught but the twinkling moments, always-already receding from the Buenos Aires-based producer’s fecund momentum. As an exercise in truncation and reassembly, Breakeadito seems to grasp at an ecstatic futurity—a resplendent vision of a joyous Latin American reality.
There are many kinds of fear, but few as fathomless as the one that can sneak up on you when you’re lying in bed at night, thinking about nothing in particular. Suddenly it dawns on you: you are just a collection of atoms, puttering around on a larger mass of atoms that people call Earth, floating around inside a dark expanse of atoms and dead air that just goes on and on forever. Hopefully—for the sake of a good night’s sleep—you’re able to blot out the terror that comes from the recognition of your own smallness, but it’ll probably completely overpower you the next time Pharmakon, aka Margaret Chardiet, walks up to you at a show and screams in your face.
You don’t really need to understand the lyrics to catch her drift, but in the below interview, our medium was words, and the Brooklyn-based power electronics artist had a lot of them when describing the theories of humanity and community underpinning her bracing new album, Contact. The one caveat being that, as Margaret reminded me repeatedly during our chat, an interview was unlikely to do her ideas justice: “I really want people to read the freaking lyrics for this record,” she said. “I laid them out like really blatantly in the liner notes, because they’re the most important thing about it.”
AdHoc: What was on your mind when you went in to record the new album?
Margaret Chardiet: I guess what was on my mind was the fact that the project was 10 years old—feeling like I needed to grow and move in a new direction, and thinking about what that was going to be. The last two records—[2013’s Abandon and 2014’s Bestial Burden]—were immediate, short-term responses to specific events [in my life], whereas with this one, I had a couple years to think about what I wanted to say and do.
What are some ways you’d say the project has changed over the years?
I think I’ve found myself focusing more on experimental thinking and philosophical ideas, as opposed to personal ones. I’m still exploring the concepts of duality and human nature, but I think I’ve allowed myself to get broader, which is a really scary thing to do. If something is very acute and small, it’s easier to explain and converse about with other people.
AdHoc Issue 19 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. (Those of you outside New York City can order a copy as well.)
In this issue, we explore music as a social act. Speaking to Emilie Friedlander, Pharmakon’s Margaret Chardiet explains the importance of audience engagement in her live shows, and how that sensibility informed her new record, Contact. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad of Girlpool—who also have a new record, Powerplant, in the works—unpack the role of person-to-person connectivity in their music. In conversation with Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy, they discuss their closeness as an artistic and social unit, and how introducing new people into the Girlpool live band was almost as tricky as opening up a romantic relationship. Both Pharmakon and Girlpool articulate reasons for making art that move beyond personal expression or gratification, and into something more inclusive.
AdHoc Issue 19's contributors:
Girlpool is a Los Angeles-based band whose founding members, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, made the collage that appears on this issue’s cover.
Meg Duffy is a Los Angeles-based musician who performs under the name Hand Habits; her album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), is out now via Woodsist. Meg interviewed Cleo and Harmony for this issue.
Leesh Adamerovich is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who enjoys collaborating with musicians. Her work is influenced by ’70s music, animation, and quiet moments, and she made the illustrations for this issue.
To know Kane West is to dance to Kane West. The producer, one-third of ebulliant crossover pop act Kero Kero Bonito, peddles an ecstatic brand of four-on-the-floor techno laced with the squirming leftfield charm of his PC Music affiliates. Often employing basic music software setups and presets in lieu of the fetishized and highly-prized analog equipment, Kane West is devoted to the sole aim of making people dance. His lyrical content is typically no more than an assemblage of stock DJ tags and shoutouts—reminding us, in no uncertain terms, to "put [our] hands up in the air" and "dance." Faced with the cryptic Kane West and his irresistable output, there's really not much else to do. As the enigmatic figure makes clear in his interview with AdHoc—ahead of his April 13 show at Sunnyvale—Kane West is an effervescent entity who congeals, not in the press release or music journal writeup, but in the club.
AdHoc: So, who is Kane West? Is it the real identity of Kero Kero Bonito member Gus Lobbon? An alter ego? A faceless, anonymous house DJ? A Kanye West tribute band?
Kane West: The best DJ.
How do you envision this figure behind the name Kane West?
The best DJ playing the best records.
What’s the joke behind the name? Do you have any special affinity for Kanye West?
No—it's a coincidence.
Not to belabor this line of inquiry, but what IS your favorite Kanye record?
Joey Agresta is a junk shop cashier in Burlington, Vermont who moonlights as a mad doctor style musician, crafting strangely layered, skewed pop songs on an eraser headless tape recorder under a mouthful of culinary themed names. His releases under monikers like Joey Pizza Slice, Son of Salami, Salami Junior, etc, have graced dedicated weirdo labels like Night People, Feeding Tube Records, Goaty Tapes, OSR Tapes and more. For his newest, upcoming release, Let’s Not Talk About Music, which he has announced today, Agresta has forgone the cured meat sobriquets for his own given name, signifying the more serious subject matter of the record. “I Feel Like Shit And I Want To Die,” the first single from the record, finds Agresta embracing a lo-fi jangle pop sound, with bright, chiming guitars and a casiotone organ evoking a shambolic hymn. The lyrics, like the title, are disarmingly straightforward, ruminating on the strain deep sadness can place on relationships, and the anxiety and insecurity that strain evokes. It’s one of the most accessible and relatable things Agresta has ever made; and one of the saddest too.
Listen to the song below. Let’s Not Talk About Music is due out May 12 via Wharf Cat Records.
The politics of the escape are tricky; the classic stylings of reminiscing rock music often threatens to slither into whitewashing and fetishism. But despite their rugged riffage and vintage muscle, Olympia's Milk Music raucously refuse to fall into the trap of dangerously depoliticized nostalgia on Mystic 100's highlight, "Dare to Exist." Even from the noisy onset, lead vocalist Alex Coxen lays into his listener, reprimanding the inertia and boredom of the "daydream" of inaction and self-involvement. Sneering and unimpressed, amid the jolting dissonance of Charles Waring's guitar, Coxen's salvo is an unescapable wake-up call that belligerently dissolves the haze of the daydream. As the overblown guitar and fuzzed-out drums drive the song forward, so too does Coxen's tone change. The spiky rawness of the song's introduction slides into an anthemic zenith furnished by Coxen's incantory directive to "Dare to exist"—the fact that "the world is insane and it's hard to exist" notwithstanding. This radical optimism, maintained "with or without the concept of God," situates Milk Music in direct opposition to the inertia of the daydream, constellating contemporary political engagement with an old-school ass-kicking.
Milk Music's Mystic 100's is out now on American Dom.