Friday, June 28, 2019

Call Out Culture (Zilla Rocca & Alaska) Premiere Sun-soaked First Single "Summah Stoop" Feat. Curly Castro On Call Out Culture Podcast

Late last night, I received a Bandcamp Notification email from Wrecking Crew—Curly Castro, PremRock, Small Professor & Zilla Rocca—about their latest stand-alone single, "Summah Stoop" by Call Out Culture: Alaska x Curly Castro x Zilla Rocca. Essentially, this is the Call Out Culture Podcast Crew consisting of Alaska, Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca... but there's, also, a similarly named Hip-Hop crew consisting of Alaska & Zilla unofficially/FKA ZILLASKA. Those who know, will know this is FAR from Zilla Rocca & Alaska's first time collaborating together, but for those who may be unaware, Alaska & Zilla previously worked together on a number of occasions, including: "Return of The Angst" from Alaska's ALKAST EP/WORDS HURT's ALKAST:REMIXES from 2015, "Debuild" with Defcee from Curly Castro & Fakts One's RESTROY & DEBUILD, WORDS HURT's "I Love People" Feat. Red Pill (Zilla Rocca Remix,) "Mike Milligan (Kitchen Brotehrs)" with Curly Castro & My Man Shafe from Career Crooks' Good Luck with That, and "FAMOUS NAMES FOR $1,000" from IT AKA Alaska & Cryptic One's year-long/monthly 2017 Bandcamp Singles Series.

Zilla Rocca & Alaska, also, recently let loose two long-vaulted cuts, "Pinball Machine Gun Rap" with PremRock, Curly Castro & CASTLE from Wrecking Crew's newly re-issued Wu-Tang Pulp CD and "Master Key" Feat. s.HaBiB & Wally Clark from the CD version of Zilla Rocca's latest album, '96 MENTALITY. "New episode from Call Out Culture Podcast, including the first single from the Call Out Culture Rap group of me and ALASKA featuring Curly Castro on the hook!" Zilla Rocca posted on Facebook Friday morning. On this week's and the June 14, 2019 episode of Call Out Culture, Alaska, Curly & Zilla have been counting down each of their Top 10 BBQ/Summah Jams and for the occasion, cooked up their own special Summah Jam/Jawn. Call Out Culture's "Summah Stoop" Feat. Curly Castro is now available to purchase or stream exclusively on Wrecking Crew's Bandcamp page, plus, Alaska put together two accompanying playlists: 31-track Call Out Culture Summah/BBQ Jawns on YouTube and similarly-named Call Out Culture Summah/BBQ Jawns Mix on Spotify. It appears as though Call Out Culture FKA ZILLASKA's proper full-length EP/LP is currently in-the-works and steadily nearing completion and, boy, let me tell you: I, for one, CAN'T WAIT to hear it?!!!??!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Fourth" Wave Ska/Punk Revivalists Jokes for Feelings Return with Puppetry-lovin' "Vitamin Girl" Music Video (Too Much Too Hipster EP)

Jokes for Feelings are a San Francisco/Bay Area-based Ska/Punk band, who regularly plays at legendary Punk-adjacent West Berkeley club 924 Gilman St. Alternative Music Foundation, often, known simply as "Gilman." Gilman is most commonly associated with being the springboard for the 90's Punk revival led by bands such as Green Day, Operation Ivy, Rancid, and The Offspring; over the years, the infamous music shack has hosted bills featuring AFI, Alkaline Trio, At The Drive-In, Bikini Kill, The Dickies, F*cked Up, Fugazi, Jawbreaker, The Mr. T Experience, Sick of It All, Sleater-Kinney, and SPAZZ. Jokes for Feelings (J.F.F.) are part of a modern day, ever-evolving, world-wide "Fourth Wave" Ska/Punk scene including The Interrupters, Makamoska! The FRIGHTNRS, Kill Your Ego, The Imposters,
BANDERAS バンデラス, The Lions, and countless others, as profiled within documentary Pick It Up!: Ska In The 90's. Last year, Jokes for Feelings quietly issued their most recent project, Too Much Too Hipster EP coupled with a Record Release Show at 924 Gilman with Mustard Plug, Buck-O-Nine, Neverlyn, and Shark Punch. We weren't able to make it out to Gilman, unfortunately, but we were able to run a comprehensive Wax Watchers review culled directly from J.F.F.'s 7-inch vinyl EP.

Since the initial release of Too Much Too Hipster, Jokes for Feelings teamed up with Alisa Herrera from The Imposters for a CD & Digital Split EP billed as Jokes for Feelings/Kill Your Ego—although, Tony Acosta, Bill & Josh Raphael play on both sides—as released on J.F.F.'s own newly-minted label. Now, Jokes for Feelings have returned with a music video for the second proper single and one of my personal favorites, "Vitamin Girl," from last year's Too Much Too Hipster EP. It features an array of adorable, furry, and frantic puppets delivering their very own rendition of J.F.F.'s "Vitamin Girl," best described as "an ode to all-nighter clubbing days of yore." Said puppetized, fluffy versions of Jokes for Feelings were created and performed by Grey Wears and directed by Aaron Garcia with "smoke-filled laser beam" effects provided by Abdul Rehman Chohan. For those interested, below the break, you'll find a quick "Vitamin Girl" music video breakdown from director Aaron Garcia. Jokes for Feelings' Too Much Too Hipster EP and Jokes for Feelings/Kill Your Ego Split are currently available in both digital and physical formats directly from the band themselves.

"Hi, I'll just give you more info from the video side of things making the video: I've gotten to do a couple of music videos for Jokes for Feelings already and have enjoyed working together with them. Grey Wears is the one who had started making puppets and I thought it would be a fun idea to do a puppet-themed film with the band a few years back. But I got sick for a while, so it got put [on] the back-burner, until a few months ago, Grey asked me to help him with a 48-hour puppet project he wanted to do.

We rushed through it, making it more epic than it should have been, but we finished and, actually, won Best LA Film at the festival. It was Jim Henson's daughter's second favorite film. From there, I asked Grey if he finally wanted to film the music video right after the festival and he was game. I think, it took a couple of days (part days) to film the puppets; the hard part was editing and piecing it together. I'm happy we finally finished it and everyone seems very happy with it."

- Aaron Garcia (Music Video Director)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Defcee & knowsthetime Join Forces for Summer Courses EP Feat. Zilla Rocca, CRASHprez, Benjamin Earl Turner & More (self-released)

Since we first heard about Adam "Defcee" Levin on "Angel Dust (Leak Brothers 2)" from Career Crooks AKA Zilla Rocca & Small Professor's 2017 URBNET debut, Good Luck with That, the Chicago-based emcee has released two phenomenal projects: A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 on Machine Wash Music and SUNDAY, NO.1 EP as Hip-Hop super-group defprez with CRASHprez & knowsthetime. Now, Defcee has returned with his second proper release of 2019, Summer Courses EP fully recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by defprez's knowsthetime, who, also, designed the EP's cover art. Summer Courses consists of five separate "courses," each sporadically sub-titled "Summer... '07-18," which feature a variety of guest emcees including RTystic, Zilla Rocca, CRASHprez, greenSLLIME, Benjamin Earl Turner, Speedy Calhoun (TeamSkighWalkers,) and FrshWaters. Much like most of Defcee's recent work, Summer Courses EP seamlessly flows from track-to-track and possesses an underlying quality reminiscent of an old school, hand-dubbed mixtape; while some truly great guests are featured within, I really can't say any one emcee steals the shine from Defcee and his flawless rhymes, as well as knowsthetime's airy, simplistic production work, are the cream that rises to the top here. Defcee & knowsthetime's Summer Courses EP is currently available on Bandcamp for just $3 USD Or More, as well as your preferred digital streaming service. Shout-out to knowsthetime for this Hella dope orange EP cover!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Hardcore/Punk Super-group Hesitation Wounds Return with "Paragons of Virtue" from Sophomore Full-length Chicanery (Deathwish Inc.)

Hesitation Wounds is a Hardcore/Punk super-group consisting of current and former members of Touché Amoré, True Cross, Trap Them, The Hope Conspiracy, The Suicide File, Gouge Away, and Axis. Initially formed in 2012, Hesitation Wounds' first incarnation featuring Touché Amoré frontman Jeremy Bolm, Neeraj Kane (The Hope Conspiracy,) Stephen LaCour (True Cross,) and Jay Weinberg—yes, Max Weinberg of The E Street Band & The Max Weinberg 7's son!—quickly released a 4-song self-titled EP on Deathwish Inc.'s sister label, Secret Voice Records, founded by Bolm. Weinberg briefly played with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, as well as Madball & Against Me! and drummed throughout Slipknot's .5: The Gray Chapter (2014) and will be featured on their upcoming album, We Are Not Your Kind; Jay Weinberg played on Hesitation Wounds' 2016 album, Awake for Everything released on 6131 Records, but has, seemingly, left the band as of June 2019. It appears as though, according to a recent Chicanery press release, Hesitation Wounds now features Gouge Away's Thomas "Tommy" Cantwell behind the drumkit. Oddly enough, Jeremy Bolm, actually, co-produced Gouge Away's latest 2018 album, Burnt Sugar, along with Jack Shirley (Deafheaven) for Deathwish Inc.

Not entirely unlike Hesitation Wounds' self-titled 2013 EP, their upcoming sophomore album, Chicanery, was supposedly recorded it a matter of hours over a few short, yet extremely productive days with Zach Tuch (TRASH TALK, Movements.) Chicanery was, then, mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge) at God City Studios and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege and is promised to be "one of 2019's most poignant and ferocious albums." While Hesitation Wounds' debut EP was issued on frontman Jeremy Bolm's own Deathwish Inc. sub-label, Secret Voice Records, Chicanery will be released under the proper Deathwish umbrella this upcoming Friday, August 30, 2019. Coinciding with the announcement/sheer existence of Hesitation Wounds' Chicanery, Deathwish Inc. has unleashed our first proper pummeling preview of the album with lead single, "Paragons of Virtue." Hesitation Wounds' Chicanery is currently available to pre-order directly from Deathwish Inc. in a number of special formats and exclusive vinyl colorways, including: Clear / Black / White Tri-Color, Clear w/ Black & White Splatter, Standard Black 12-inch LP's, and more. Another final Fun Fact: Hesitation Wounds & Touché Amoré frontman Jeremy Bolm has said his first concert was David Bowie & Nine Inch Nails on their co-headlining 1995-96 Outside US Tour and NIN's 2013 eighth studio album was titled Hesitation Marks, the same year Hesitation Wounds was formed.



Monday, June 24, 2019

blink-182 Return with 50-second Punk/Hardcore Ripper "Generational Divide" from "Punk-Rock Closet" (Viking Wizard Eyes/Columbia Records)

Last Friday was quite the busy day for critically-acclaimed drummer/producer Travis Barker: his remix for rising Pop songstress Maggie Lindemann's "Friends Go" was released, as well as "F9mily (You and Me)" from Country/Rap emcee Lil Nas X's latest 7 EP, AND his main gig, Blink-182 released a new song, "Generational Divide." As many of you may know by now, long-time co-vocalist and guitarist, Tom DeLonge, was fired/quit Blink back in 2015. Prior to this, the band had been active with Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge & Travis Barker from 1998-2005, then, the band broke up for about four years, and reunited in 2009 for numerous world-wide tours. FULL DISCLOSURE: Blink-182 was amongst my first favorite Punk/Hardcore bands, so I'm a bit biased! I've always stated, I was happy when Blink returned—although, Mark & Travis' Electro-Rock/Pop-Punk band (+44) formed in the interim, put out one of my all-time favorite albums!—although, their proper 2011 "reunion" album, Neighborhoods, was a bit lackluster and disjointed-sounding. Honestly, I would have been completely happy and content, if Blink-182's final album was their genre-eschewing first "final" album, untitled/self-titled from 2003... or even their 2012 holiday EP, Dogs Eating Dogs, which featured a couple verses from Shady/Slumerican Records emcee, Yelawolf.

Although, to any effect, Blink have now recruited long-time friend and touring mate, Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio as their newest member and replacement for Tom DeLonge. This new incarnation of Blink with Matt Skiba has already released a full-length together, 2016's California, which received a Deluxe Edition Re-issue in May 2017 complete with 12 additional Bonus Tracks. "Generational Divide" is a 50-second Punk/Hardcore ripper that, it appears, will serve as the second proper single from Blink-182's upcoming as-yet-untitled/unannounced eight studio album. "It's kind of anything goes. It's the same vibe that was that was going on when we did the self-titled [album]. Literally, anything goes... I think, we're creating one of the most important Blink albums, so I'm really proud of it," Travis Barker explained within a recent interview with Front Row Live Ent. Barker, also, confirmed said album will, supposedly, be produced by long-time collaborator John Feldmann (Goldfinger) as well as Pharrell & The Futuristics. "Generational Divide" was filmed at a secret location, which has thus far, only been referred to as the "Punk-Rock Closet" and directed by Kevin Kerslake. Blink are surrounded by what appears to be a room plastered wall-to-wall with Old School & Modern Day Punk/Hardcore flyers; blink and you might miss it, but you'll catch quick glimpses of flyers for The Misfits, Fugazi, Circle Jerks, Melvins, Naked Raygun, The Cramps, Wasted Youth, Youth of Today, Hinds, Rancid, Dead Kennedys, The Orientles, Stains, and countless other seminal Punk bands.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Abstract Orchestra Bandleader Rob Mitchell Talks MADVILLAIN VOL. 1-2, Slum Village, The Haggis Horns & MPC's (The Witzard Interview)

"Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra have been a consistent presence on the UK music scene, touring constantly in promotion of their debut LP, Dilla, and follow-up 45, "New Day" Feat. Illa J, steadily building a loyal and supportive fanbase. Inspired by the legendary live performances of The Roots with JAY-Z and the 40-piece orchestral arrangements by Miguel-Atwood Ferguson of the work of J Dilla, classic arranging techniques underpin modern loop-based structures, breathing new life into familiar material...

The band itself is based on the classic Jazz/Big Band instrumentation of saxes, trumpets, and trombones and features the cream of the North of England's Jazz scene, who, collectively, have played with Jamiroquai, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mark Ronson, Martha Reeves, John Legend & The Roots, Roots Manuva, and Amy Winehouse. MADVILLAIN VOL. 2 was recorded live in its entirety at ATA Records' own vintage analogue studio in Leeds. All tracks were recorded in one take with little to no overdubs and no editing, quantizing, or other such studio trickery. The band were recorded live in the room to 2-inch tape and the recording captures a group of creative and dedicated musicians that have honed their sound through years of touring."

- Pete Williams & Neil Innes (ATA Records)

I. Who are the current members in Abstract Orchestra and what is each members' role in the band?

Rob Mitchell (myself) - Bandleader,
Conductor, Writer, Producer, Etc. Etc.
Micall Parknsun - Emcee
Joker Starr - Emcee
Anna Uhuru - Vocalist
Jim Corry - Alto/Baritone Sax
Dan Brunskill - Alto Sax/Flute
James Russell - Tenor Sax/Flute
Simon Kaylor - Tenor Sax/Flute
Jack Davis - Trumpet/Flugel
Malcolm Strachan - Trumpet/Flugel
Simon Beddoe - Trumpet/Flugel
Kevin "Kev" Holbrough - Trombone
Patrick Martin - Trombone
Richard Jones - Bass Trombone
George Cooper - Keyboards
Chris "Fatty" Hargreaves - Bass
Joost Hendrikx - Drums

II. What initially inspired you to fuse together your affinity for both Jazz/Big Band music and Hip-Hop, which we all now know and love as Abstract?

I guess, it stems from learning and studying Jazz, but listening to Hip-Hop. I, actually, discovered some Jazz artists through listening to Hip-Hop, like Lou Donaldson through Cypress Hill. I've always loved playing in Big Bands and some career highlights have been playing in bands like The BBC Big Band. The two [genres] are so intertwined for me that it seemed like a logical thing to fuse the two together and I love exploring the possibilities.

III. What is the current working relationship between your two bands, Abstract Orchestra and The Haggis Horns?

I play Alto & Baritone Sax in The Haggis Horns and Malcolm [Strachan] & Atholl [Ransome] play in Abstract. It's, generally, pretty good, in terms of not performing on the same dates, so for the most part, [it] works out great!

IV. How do you, initially, decide which songs to include within a collection such as MADVILLAIN VOL. 2? What's the typical process like to retrofit a Hip-Hop song for an Abstract Orchestra-l arrangement?

MADVILLAIN VOL. 2 was recorded at the same time as MADVILLAIN VOL. 1 over a 2-day period live in the studio. Although, recorded at the same time, the two volumes sound quite different; with VOL. 1, the intention was to explore the Jazz & Funk side of MADVILLAIN, slowly becoming darker as the album progresses. VOL. 2 is a shift from this, to explore the darker side of of the music. "Eye" & "Borrowed Time" really influenced the sound, which have more synth and electronic aspects to it. I love writing for brass and making them sound like synths or to blend them with synths—something Bob Brookmeyer explored in his later career, which is a great influence on me. In terms of the process, I just sit at the piano and work out a couple things, then, score it up for the band. The band's interpretation is the exciting bit, when it all comes alive!

V. After already having released critically-acclaimed albums featuring re-works of J Dilla, DOOM & Madlib, who's next?

Haha! That would be telling! We have a couple of things up our sleeves for sure. We will definitely continue doing re-works, but I'm, also, looking at original material and collaborations with other artists. I still love beat-making and want to explore that aspect of composition further, too.

VI. What type of feedback have you received from either the original artists or their camps?

Illa J gave us such huge support with the release of Dilla and gave further blessing by collaborating on our single, "New Day." With the MADVILLAIN releases, it's, of course, almost impossible to have contact with Madlib or DOOM, unless you're in their circles. I guess, the best feedback was DOOM's team allowing us to us his vocal sample of "Air" that we covered; I'd like to think it reached DOOM and he was into it?! Also, Dabrye has been massively supportive and all the folks at Ghostly for again allowing us to cover "Air."

VII. Do you have any immediate plans to bring in any of the original emcees/artists to do remixes or live version of their own compositions backed by Abstract Orchestra, of course?

Definitely, we tested the waters a little bit with Slum Village on their last tour in February, performing a short set with them. The impact and response was massive and this could be an interesting path for us. I think the audience really connects with the music, when it's performed live and the experience is amazing.

VIII. What exactly are the so-called "Madmixes" and "Mash Ups" stylistically strewn throughout MADVILLAIN VOL. 1-2?

The "Madmixes" are, basically, medleys, so a collection of tracks that work better in short sections, rather than entire tunes. The "Mash Ups" are me messing around on my MPC sampler, chopping up our own covers, a little nod to Madlib in the humblest of ways!

IX. What, would you say, is generally, the trickiest part of translating a Hip-Hop track into an orchestral/Big Band arrangement?

There can be a variety of tricky points: sometimes, the original track will have a massive hook and banging groove, but, essentially, very little else going on, so I have to get creative to keep it interesting and varied for the band and audience. Sometimes, I'll write a melody part, re-harmonise chords, add drops, etc. just to keep the track moving.

X. How do think your work with The Haggis Horns has helped prepare you for Abstract Orchestra?

Like anything, the more experience you have, the better prepared you are; we've had some nice gigs with The Haggis Horns and seen plenty! I get to work in lots of different settings and circles and you come to realise "big gigs" and "small gigs" are all the same, you've still got to connect with the audience and make the performance memorable.

XI. Over the years, have any of The Haggis Horns players ever played or recorded with Abstract Orchestra?

Of course! Both Malcolm & Atholl have recorded with Abstract.

XII. What are some of your fondest memories (or even, craziest stories) from your time spent touring with De La Soul, Slum Village & Yasiin Bey FKA Mos Def?

Well, we didn’t tour with De La Soul or Yasiin Bey; we shared the bill with De La and supported Yasiin. Yasiin was a lovely guy, when I met him and I [thought] his performance was pure art at that show. I know he gets mixed reviews (he did that night, too) but I [thought] he was incredible! Touring with Illa J was a great experience. He's such a talent, both as an emcee and a singer and song-writer. His flow on stage was amazing and so engaging to watch. Working with Slum Village has been insightful—those guys work so hard, all the time! Their music is timeless and even their tracks from the early days still sound so fresh, when pumped out through the PA! Dilla's drums make so much sense through a big PA, they're knocking! T3, Young RJ & DJ Wells are amazing people and we connected straight away; I'm looking forward to working with them again!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

3 Feet High & Rising: Philly "Doomgazers" dreamswell Return with First Single "Stale Flowers" from Full-length Debut (SPOILED)

dreamswell are a self-proclaimed "Doomgaze" (Doom Metal + Shoegaze) band hailing from Philly. Formed about four years ago, dreamswell consists of Candice Martello, Jon Martello, Gina Piccari & Madalean Gauze, who initially bonded over a shared admiration for seminal Shoegaze bands, such as True Widow & Slowdive. "dreamswell, stemming from the gritty music scene of Philadelphia, is the collaboration of four familiar Philly music scene faces, who have come together to hit hard, get muddy, and whisper lightly," reads a description on their Facebook page. I also, catch sonic allusions to equally "gloomy" bands like Silversun Pickups, Cults, The Smashing Pumpkins, Baroness, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Echo & The Bunnymen. After having released a 2-act EP series throughout 2017-18, dreamswell have returned with the first single from their debut full-length, SPOILED. "Stale Flowers" definitely evokes the aforementioned Doomgaze sound and "lightly whispered" vocal delivery with a bit more Silversun Pickups-indebted cascading Surf Rock guitar riffs. dreamswell have previously rubbed shoulders with Philly music scenesters and The Witzard regulars, ialive of The Hell Hole Store & Cold Rhymes Records and acclaimed music video director, Bob Sweeney; dreamswell, actually, recruited Sweeney to film and edit the the video for "Temporary" from their self-released 2018 EP, Act 2. dreamswell's Gina Piccari was kind enough to provide us with an exclusive statement on "Stale Flowers" and their forthcoming album. dreamswell's SPOILED will become available this upcoming Tuesday, June 25, 2019 on Bandcamp, as well as "select online sources."

"So, these songs have been a part of our lives for a few years now and we finally were able to record and mix and master them the way we heard them in our heads—recorded by Matt Poirier and mastered by Andy Clarke.

We, ultimately, wanted to tell a story through the whole record. We want people to relate to the songs and feel something, whether that be sad, happy, angry, or even "wow, this sucks," as long as they are feeling something, [then], I think, we made a good record. I hope that when people listen to the record straight through, they can remember a time in their lives where they felt what we are saying and feel some sort of connection with it. I think, that as humans, we have a lot of things in common that we don't necessarily think about on a day-to-day basis and it's good to remember that we aren't the only ones who feel it.

The main story of the record for me is: "even though everything looks and seems beautiful and perfect on the surface, there's always an underlying negativity that is crushing the liveliness of it all; but, in the end, finding even the smallest bit of something to hold on to can cut the weights from your ankles and make the dead ugly stuff seem, actually, [pretty] cool and beautiful." I know that sounds so corny and, like, emotional haha, but when you think of "spoiled," it's always something beautiful that turned rotten... whether it's kids, people, smells, flowers, food... but all of these things were beautiful once and can turn back into something beautiful again..."

- Gina Piccari (@dreamswellmusic)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Your Old Droog Recruits Quelle Chris, RUFF MERCY & Matt Lubansky for "Transportation" Video Clips (Mongoloid Banks/Nature Sounds)

Your Old Droog's newly-minted Bandcamp page lacks much in lieu of a typical Artist Bio/Release Description and only contains a simple proclamation: "Y.O.D. is the best." Droog has come a long way from his early days as a Ukrainian-American immigrant, whom most people initially thought was an alter-ego of Nas; early on in his career, Your Old Droog received stamps-of-approval from both Sean Price & Prodigy (Mobb Deep,) as well as Sascha Jenkins, Edan, Homeboy Sandman, and countless others. I can recall the mass amounts of hype, mystery, and sheer confusion surrounding 2014's self-released Your Old Droog EP/LP, but my personal favorite Droog release was 2015's KINISON EP with its Rock "N" Roll & Stand Up Comedy-indebted edge. Your Old Droog's second proper studio full-length, PACKS, was released in early 2017 and boasts collaborations with Heems AKA Himanshu (Swet Shop Boys,) Danny Brown, Chris Crack, Wiki, Edan, and comedian Anthony Jeselnik, as well as The Purist, RTNC, 88-Keys, and The Alchemist on the production tip. For the remainder of 2017, Droog released a series of extremely strong non-album singles, which were later re-collected on Daupe!'s appropriately-titled "Looseys" comp. Y.O.D. and his "Help" collaborator Wiki once again teamed up for a collaborative 2017 EP entitled What Happened to Fire? with production work throughout from Black Milk, RTNC & Droog himself, Statik Selektah, !llmind, araabMUZIK, and Tony Seltzer.

Earlier this year, Your Old Droog & Edan returned, seemingly out of NOWHERE, with the first episode in what appears to be an ongoing series fittingly dubbed "Witch In The Kitchen." Seated in what appears to be Edan's kitchen, alongside his record collection, Droog effortless freestyles atop a sample culled directly from Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top CD Box Set, namely, "Cheap Sunglasses" (2003 Remaster.) Just a matter of days later, also, completely unannounced—are you starting to notice a pattern here?—Y.O.D. self-released his third proper full-length, It Wasn't Even Close, on Gogul Mogul/Mongoloid Banks. Executive Produced by ever-mysterious emcee Mach Hommy, It Wasn't Even Close features collaborations with heavyweights such as DOOM, Daringer, Evidence, Sadhugold, Mono En Stereo FKA RTNC, Roc Marciano, Ohbliv, and more. Now, less than two months after It Wasn't Even Close, Droog has once again returned with his fourth full-length, Transportation, on what appears to be his own imprint, Mongoloid Banks in conjunction with Nature Sounds. Not counting producers, Transportation is a largely featureless affair, aside from two Bonus Tracks boasting rhymes from Quelle Chris & Wiki. Interestingly enough, a double-music video for Transportation's "The Cheese" & "Under The Train (Transporting,)" directed by Matt Lubansky and animated by RUFF MERCY, was quietly unleashed a matter of days after It Wasn't Even Close. Now, there's, also, a Transportation Animated Short or "BASTARDS OF THE UNIVERSE;" it was, amazingly, fully "illustrated, animated, colored, written, voiced, and directed by ya boy, @quellechrist." Both Your Old Droog's It Wasn't Even Close & Transportation are now available from Gogul Mogul, Mongoloid Banks & Nature Sounds, respectively.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Lewis Express Share "Clap Your Hands" & "Stomp Your Feet" 7-inch Featuring Infectious Dancefloor-ready Single Edits (ATA Records)

The Lewis Express are a Leeds, UK-based Jazz/Funk/Soul ensemble, whose name is, actually, a homage to beloved American Jazz composer, pianist, and radio personality Ramsay Lewis. The Express currently consists of pianist George Cooper, bassist Neil Innes, drummer Sam Hobbs, and percussionist "Bongo" Pete Williams; Innes & Williams are the founders of Leeds-based ATA (All Things Analogue) Records, while a number of The Lewis Express' players have previously functioned as part of The Sorcerers, The Magnificent Tape Band, Abstract Orchestra, The Joe Tatton Trio, The Mandatory Eight, and Dread Supreme, as well as releases backing Matthew Bourne, Tony Burkill & Rachel Modest. ATA Records previously released The Lewis Express' self-titled 7-song EP last August to wide-spread fan and critical acclaim. Now, less than a year later, George, Neil, Sam & Bongo Pete have triumphantly returned with their next 7-inch/digital single, "Clap Your Hands" & "Stomp Your Feet" from an upcoming, as-yet-unreleased album, also, entitled Clap Your Hands.

"It features 2 exclusive dancefloor-friendly alternative versions of tracks originally recorded for the forthcoming LP, Clap Your Hands," explains a press release from Pete Williams & Neil Innes. "The band channel Eddie Cano and Pete Terrace for the Latin Boogaloo of Side A's "Clap Your Hands," while Side B's "Stomp Your Feet" takes the baton and races off with some storming, Mod-Jazz aimed squarely at the dancefloor," it continues. So far, only Side B stand-out "Stomp Your Feet" has been released digitally "to the masses," but it's definitely a scorcher that's "PERFECT FOR A LATE NIGHT, SWEATY HOUSE PARTY - SHOES OFF AND BEER IN THE SINK!" as an ATA promo perfectly suggests. The Lewis Express are currently hosting a pre-order for their "Clap Your Hands" B/W "Stomp Your Feet" 7-inch/digital single on Bandcamp, which are, somehow, both going for just £7 GBP—about $8.77 USD + $1.88 for Shipping & Handling—so, how could anyone NOT pick up this glorious piece of Ruby Red wax?!!!??! Also, the first 100 copies of this limited edition Lewis Express 7-inch will be personally hand-numbered by the band/label, as well.

Monday, June 17, 2019

@PIAPTK & Soild Gold Recordings Unveil Vinyl-only Re-issue of @moneymark's 2001 Album changeiscoming (Twitter AMA-style Q&A)

"Soild Gold #11 - Money Mark! The keys man behind the music of some of the biggest hits for the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique, Licensed to Ill, Check Your Head,) Beck (he played the intro to "Where It's At,") and lots of other artists, is slumming it with Soild Gold. changeiscoming is an instrumental record that features a ton of collaborators, including Sean Lennon, Los Lobos, etc. has been out-of-print for years, and is a fan favorite. You will almost definitely recognize some of the tunes, as most of them have been featured on TV shows, commercials, movies, etc.; a really chill dinner party vibe.

All in our patented "Soild Gold-style" paste-on covers with hand-stamped labels on Translucent Gold Vinyl and 12x18" cardstock poster. 50 copies of the special "Coins & Bills" Splatter vinyl—Trans. Gold mixed with Silver & Green, which gives it a crazy wavy look!—will be randomly inserted into orders. As always, Soild Gold is ANALOG-ONLY... DOES NOT include downloads. You can, also, join the "Test Pressing Guessing Game" by adding some extra change onto your "Pay-What-You-Want" [pre-order/order]. For example, if you pay $22.38 and Mark chose the number "38" for this release, you win a FREE Test Pressing, along with your order."

- PIAPTK & Soild Gold Recordings (@piaptk)

001. @SharpCheddar856: Is it true you first met @beastieboys when Mario C. asked you to fix a wooden gate at the entrance of the property where the band were staying while recording Paul's Boutique? 🛠

@moneymark: It was called The G-Spot [because] of a giant letter "G" on the gate. One of The Boys had accidentally crashed into it. While I was there fixing it, Horowitz pulls up and invites me to a party. That's my initial interaction with them. Later, I built the studio, G-son [Studios]... * Oops, "Horovitz"—The Dust Brothers shared the house, too. In the closet, there was crazy wardrobe and they "borrowed" some for the "Hey Ladies" video. I started making record shelves for the crew and I was a set carpenter on The Hollywood Center Studio's lot.

002. @SharpCheddar856: What initially made you decide to join forces with @PIAPTK & Soild Gold Records for this special limited edition vinyl-only re-issue of your 2001 Emperor Norton/Modular Recordings album, changeiscoming (or Change Is Coming?)

@moneymark: I made a post on [Instagram] on Jan. 9th. I currently own my entire catalog. I met @PIAPTK when I did a show for a Joseph Gordon-Levitt/HITRECORD party at Sundance. Mike Dixon's portable lathe set-up was impressive. Basically, I can do whatever I want with my songs/albums.

003. @SharpCheddar856: How much involvement did you have in the creation of @PIAPTK's Soild Gold #11 "Faux Bootleg" hand-assembled sleeves, "Soild Gold-style" paste-on covers, Translucent Gold vinyl, "Coins & Bills" splatter vinyl, 12x18 cardstock poster, etc. for changeiscoming?

@moneymark: I wasn't too involved. I supplied the files and the photo. @PIAPTK sent me a test copy to approve. That's it. It's a small 250 [record] run, so y'all should get one [before] it sells out! Do some research: I played this entire album on 9/11 a few blocks from [The World Trade Center].

004. @SharpCheddar856: In addition to the inclusion of collaborators @seanonolennon, @LosLobosBand, Mario "C." Caldato, Jr. Alfredo Ortiz, Jose "Crunchy" Espinoza, and more, how would you say changeiscoming differs from the rest of your solo discography?

@moneymark: It's the only time I recorded core tracks live with a band. In [San Francisco] at an Allen Sides studio and Sean's Upstate facility. The sick video for "Information Contraband" was Hello Logan's debut into the music video-making biz. They became Video Rockstars from it.

005. @SharpCheddar856: What would you say are some of your fondest/wildest memories (you're able to share!) from the making-of changeiscoming? And why do you think it's still important for people to hear this album now? Thanks again for agreeing to do this impromptu AMA-style Q&A, @moneymark!

@moneymark: There's no "crazy stories;" nothing subversive. The Mission in [San Francisco] was still a real place and some of the O.G. coffee shops and bookstores were still rockin'. TOAST was the name of the studio. Craig Silvey went on to win a GRAMMY for Arcade Fire. We did 'shrooms/pot... The album prophesied The [World Trade Center] Attack. Read the titles of the songs an look at the artwork. We all got stuck in Manhattan and suffered a little P.T.S.D. We "escaped" two weeks later on a ferry ride to New Jersey, where our tour bus was. The drive to LA was looong!

006. *BONUS* QUESTION?!!!??! - @SharpCheddar856: This one? There's a few different cuts uploaded to @youtubemusic... but this seems to be Hello Logan's original version of "Information Contraband."

@moneymark: This is it! I "star" in it and my character smokes some mad chemical substance and puts me into The Twilight Zone, where I end up 2-D. My favorite [part was] getting slapped in the face. This was 100% green-screened. The only video made for this album.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ahead of Connie Price & The Keystones' LUCAS HIGH, Dan Ubick Speaks On Various Rap-centric Collaborations (The Witzard Interview #3)

Dan Ubick has either played with, recorded with, backed up, or been sampled by everyone from Lily Allen to DJ Z-Trip. His own note-worthiest/most critically-acclaimed projects include Breakestra, Connie Price & The Keystones, The Lions, Rhythm Roots All-Stars, and most recently, The Mad Geezers & Night Owls. We've previously spoken with Dan Ubick AKA Constantine "Connie" Price on a number of occasions, over the years: once, in 2013 coinciding with the release of The Lions' This Generation on Stones Throw, again, in 2015 right around the time of The Lions' SOUL RIOT release, and just a year later, for Now-Again Records' 2016 re-issue of Connie Price & The Keystones' Wildflowers: The Expanded Edition. We were, also, fortunate enough to run an exclusive premiere for The Lions' music video for their cover of The Clash's "The Magnificent Dance" from their 1980 genre-eschewing 3-LP magnum opus, SANDINISTA! as well as various coverage these last six years. I've always heard rumblings from Dan about The Keystones fabled emcee/singer-assisted Lucas High album orchestrated in tribute to Doug Lucas... but, honestly, wondered when it would ever, actually, be released!

Back in 2013, Dan Ubick graciously gifted me a CD copy of pre-album warm-up, Lucas High EP featuring a few tracks from the album, but, then, silence. Wrangling paperwork for two dozen rappers, getting samples cleared, and doing it all independently, proved to be quite an undertaking, but, luckily, all is finally sorted and the LP drops next week! I've been hearing about this album nearly all the way through the process of its creation and I'm very excited for the rest of the world to hear it next Friday, June 21, 2019! Lucas High features an extremely talented cast of characters including Doug Lucas, Alex Désert, Malik Moore, John Bigham, Big Daddy Kane, Rapsody, Lady of Rage, Soup and Marc7 of Jurassic 5, Brand Nubian, Macy Gray, Kelly Finnigan, Kendra Morris, Talib Kweli, Nini Monroe, M.O.P. Jovi Rockwell (Major Lazer,) X-Clan's Brother J, and Wildchild. Pre-orders for Connie Price & The Keystones' Lucas High are currently available from FatBeats/A Man Called Horse Records. Dan Ubick has graciously agreed to speak with us again, this time, primarily, about his Hip-Hop/Rap-centric collaborations through his career, which, in part, have led to the aforementioned collaborations housed within Lucas High.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Founder/Senior Writer & Editor

I. First off, how did you start backing different Hip-Hop/Rap artists? Weren't there a series of Scion A/V releases featuring Connie Price & The Keystones backing various emcees?

Well, I first started backing up emcees when I was playing with Breakestra. Miles [Tackett], our keyboard player, Carlos [Guaico], and our friend, Terry, were throwing a night in Los Feliz called The Breaks (later, morphed into Root Down) and Miles & [Mixmaster] Wolf were old friends with Cut Chemist & DJ Nu-Mark, Marvski, J.Rocc, DJ Babu, [Rhettmatic], and The Beat Junkies; so, different dudes would DJ each week and different emcees would get up and freestyle over live breaks. In LA, we had everyone from Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Black Eyed Peas, and Medusa, so they'd get up and rock with us; but, also, people like The Quannum Crew came from The Bay, so, there was Lateef [The Truth Speaker], Lyrics Born, and DJ Shadow coming down and hanging/performing, too.

Anyway, we did this for a good two years and it was a blast. We occasionally had bigger names come through... I remember RZA had his birthday there one week... huge guest list at a club that was already packed every week. Ended up playing "Nautilus" with a bunch of the Wu-Tang dudes... there were so many people on stage, our flute player, James [King's] flute got bent, drinks were spilled, etc. but it was a night to remember.

So, I started "backing... Hip-Hop artists" because of my time in Breakestra, I guess, and then, because of the stuff I started putting out with The Keystones, artists around town, like Madlib, Macy Gray, and started using me for recording and such. One person, who is a dope DJ/collector that I knew and still love like a brother, Daniel Hall, had ties to Scion 'cause his lovely, Jeri, worked for them and they recommend us to Scion to be a touring backing band for these promotional runs they were putting together. That's where I started meeting folks like [Big Daddy] Kane, EPMD, Slick Rick, and Brand Nubian. It was a dream come true to play with all these folks 'cause I'd admired them for so long. And yes, through Scion A/V, we put out a really dope 12-inch with Big Daddy Kane, "Give A Demonstration, Pt. 2," on Side A and Percee P, "International Hustler," on Side B. One of LA's most gifted artists, [Augustine Kofie], did the album art in tribute to Lalo Schifrin's Enter The Dragon cover 'cause me and the guys were (and still are) deep into soundtracks.

II. Where exactly did you play when The Keystones were backing up Big Daddy Kane? And any memorable stories from this period?

We backed Kane for a good 3-4 years off-and-on, so, we played all over the place. He took us to Japan to play two nights at Tokyo's Billboard Live with Kurtis Blow in tow, both nights sold out. We got to play "The Breaks" with Kurtis and rocked it with Kane, while all these Japanese B-boys got down on the floor. Muro came, it was super-fun.

Man, what else? We played The Brooklyn Bowl in Prospect Park with Kane and Scoob, Scrap, Master Ace & Craig G performed with us in front of a huge crowd. I remember, Tommy "TNT" Brenneck and some of The Budos Band dudes and Lord Jamar came out and hung backstage. Perfect Summer day, BBQ in the air, and cool people loving a free show by Kane and a full band.

We, also, played B.B. King's in New York off of Times Square for the Cold Chillin' Anniversary party—got to do "Just Rhymin' with Biz" with Biz [Markie] & Kane; Busta Rhymes showed up in a fancy car (a Maybach, I think?) wearing some big, crazy fur and I got to meet Roxanne Shante & T.J. Swan.

So many shows with Kane, though... He came and did Root Down at Little Temple with us, which was crazy fun. We did "Lung Collapsing Lyrics" with Percee P that night and it KILLED. We played Sunset Junction [Street Fair] here in Silver Lake, Los Angeles; turned out to be the last year they did it. It was The Keystones with Big Daddy Kane & Soup (Zaakir) from Jurassic 5, Fishbone, and then, Bad Brains.

III. I remember, late last year, when a Big Daddy Kane track called "Act A Fool" Feat. Busta Rhymes, which, also, featured Connie Price & The Keystones. Now, there's a full unreleased/shelved Kane album with The Keystones, correct?

"Act A Fool" is super-dope; glad that one made it out there! As far as the shelved Big Daddy Kane stuff... I wouldn't say there's a "full LP," but definitely some SICK singles that I hope, one day, see the light of day. We did one with our dearly departed Sharon Jones that is so good. Another kind of fast, funky Willie Hutch-meets-Dennis Coffey-type thing. I'd say, there are a 4-5 [songs] that would make a SICK EP.

IV. You, also, backed Slick Rick, EPMD, M.O.P. Brand Nubian, De La Soul, and Redman on those Scion tours, right? Any crazy stories?

I don't know about "crazy," 'cause I was always working and band leading, but, man, so much fun. Those tours were great 'cause we got a nice per diem and [Dan] Hastie and I would bee-line to record stores all over the country, when we pulled into town. Pull up to the hotel, drop our bags, and then, head to the record stores before soundcheck lol. Big up to Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis and Friends of Sound that used to be in Austin.

So, stories... uh-mm, Slick Rick was super-cool and let me wear his patented "Gold Ropes" with an eagle pendent for a pic we took.

We got to play the famed Metro Theater in Chicago with Billy [Danze] & [Lil'] Fame (M.O.P.) and I think, that might have been one of the most wild and amped shows we ever did. When we went into "Ante Up," the place just erupted... people in the crowd were waving their arms wildly, while holding onto their beers, so beers went everywhere lol. Had to towel down my pedal board afterwards. The Beatnuts were a super-close second, in terms of crowd response. When we did "Turn It Out" with them, people lost their sh*t.

Redman, I just remember being cool as Hell and wanting to stay and play all our instruments after rehearsal. He sat at Danny [Hastie]'s Rhodes, sat at the drums, and tried my guitar. Super-pro dude and a cool hang.

V. So, what exactly is the story behind The Sand Dollars' coveted 2003 "Get Thy Bearings" 45 Feat. Chris Manak (Peanut Butter Wolf) released on Now-Again Records. What's its relationship to Donovan & Biz Markie?

Well, it's been a while, but I feel like it was Egon's idea 'cause he knew Chris loved that song. When he found out I was, also, a huge Donovan fan, he was like: "you gotta do a version and have Wolf sing it!" So, Todd [Simon] and I went to work. My friend, Jeremy Ruzumna, has this KILLER old 60's Rheem compact organ—kind of like a Farfisa, but with fuzz bass—that I had been borrowing, so we went super-Pysch on our version. The guitar parts at the end of Donovan's version, Todd re-wrote for horns and then, I played drums, bass, and guitar. Soon after, Lily Allen used it for her song, "Sunday Morning" and her producers tried to tell me they "re-played" it, but that's horsesh*t; they lifted our version and didn't want to share! lol

VI. What was your favorite experience working, recording, playing with, etc. an emcee/group? And what's the craziest story (you're able to tell!) from said experience?

Man, so many fun experiences. Playing EPMD's set was fun 'cause we go to do some things we didn't do with other acts. I got to play the [Zapp "More Bounce to The Ounce"] talk box guitar on "You Gots to Chill" and [The J.B.'s] "J.B.'s Monorail" loop with the guys for "Let The Funk Flow"—that is the closest to my dream of being in James Brown's "band" as I'll ever get. Coincidentally, that Beefs show (Quincy Jones' nephew QD3's doc. series) had on the EPMD episode, while we were on our tour bus between gigs, which was surreal, to say the least.

One memory I'll treasure is getting to hang with Heavy D soon before he passed. We did a show at the old House of Blues on The Sunset Strip with Kane and Heavy D was on the bill. We were gonna back him, as well, [but], for some reason, it didn't work out. I think, he realized he should have used The Keystones after we crushed it with Kane 'cause he invited me to a studio he was working at in North Hollywood [to] hang. We connected over Jamaican music, so [we] sat there for a couple hours chilling and playing each other different songs, as well as the Reggae LP he had just finished (won a GRAMMY, I think?) and The Lions stuff I had just finished. Super-kind dude. R.I.P. Heavy D.

VII. I know you've known DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5,) Method Man, and "fifth" Beastie Boy, Money Mark for years... but how did it feel finally working together on Nu-Mark's recent Record Store Black Friday single, "Zodiac Killah?"

Well, I've known Nu-Mark for years 'cause Breakestra's first tour was the West Coast run of their Word of Mouth Tour (J5, Dilated [Peoples] & The Beat Junkies,) but I have never met Meth. Would love to, of course. Mark knows him from the TV show they do together [Drop The Mic]. So amped he jumped on board 'cause the result is just FIRE. As far as Money Mark, I just, finally, got to meet him face-to-face at Shawn Lee's movie premiere and he was super-chill. So, yeah, he played the KILLER organ lead on "Zodiac Killah," but I didn't meet him until recently.

I, actually, also, got lucky enough to meet Mario "C." Caldato a few months before that, as well, 'cause he DJ'ed a night with my buddy, Danny Holloway. I just say that 'cause [it's] such an honor to get to "rub elbows" with guys like that who have inspired me so much and find out that they are just cool dudes, who, also, love making music.

VIII. Who are Doug & Zach Lucas and how did they help directly influence and create The Keystones' Lucas High?

Well, Matt [Fife] wrote a beautiful little history inside the new LP, but the short story is that Doug Lucas was a bada$$ musician (trumpet player,) song-writer, and member of incredible groups, like Chakachas, Plus, The J.J. Band, and The S.S.O. Orchestra and is the muse for this entire record. My partner on this record, Matt, has known Doug's sons, Zach & David, for years and we were lucky enough to have Zach play horns and keys on almost every track on the LP.

All of the tunes on Lucas High have either a sample from one of Doug's LP's, lyrics based on his life, or music inspired by his legacy. My job as producer was to craft these samples and samples I created with the band into cohesive Hip-Hop tracks and in the case of "Gimme Some More of That," just re-do one of Plus' classics, but a little heavier and with Kelly Finnigan (The Monophonics) & Kendra Morris singing their behinds off.

IX. How would you say, working with all of the aforementioned emcees and artists over the years has led to The Keystones' long-awaited sophomore album, Lucas High? Happen to have any particularly "wild" stories from the making-of the album?

Well, I just kept in touch as much as possible, is all. I'm just so lucky they were feeling the tracks and decided it was worthwhile to add their flavor to this new LP. I am grateful to all the artists for trusting and working with me and I'll let any "wild" stories I know stay in my memory; don't wanna blow people up lol.

X. Finally, yourself and some of The Keystones, also, played in a band called Rhythm Roots All-Stars (RRA-S) backing Ghostface Killah, Rakim & Aloe Blacc and then, ended up recording And The Anonymous Nobody with De La Soul after touring with them, correct?

Yeah, RRA-S is a group started by my bro, Davey Chegwidden, who plays with every group I've ever done. Anyway, a bunch of us Keystones—as well as Philip "Fish" Fisher, the drummer from Fishbone—played in that group, backed up Ghostface, Rakim, Aloe Blacc & De La Soul. I played one wicked SXSW with Ghost & Rakim and went all over Europe with De La Soul doing their 20 Feet High & Rising Tour with that band, played Coachella, Bumbershoot in Seattle with Os Mutantes, and many more. I moved on to other things right as [the And] The Anonymous Nobody LP was being made, but that is all my bros on that LP: Davey, Jordan [Katz], James King, Dan Hastie, [Dave] Wilder, Ethan [Phillips], Josh Lopez, etc.

Chubby & The Gang's Jonah Falco-produced "All Along The Uxbridge Road" Single & Warthog's "Brainwasher" Music Video (Static Shock Records)

Chubby & The Gang are the latest signees to London, UK-based Static Shock Records, along with Barcelona's own Minima. "Chubby" is, of course, Straight Edge Punk/Hardcore player Chubby Charles AKA Charlie Fresh AKA Charlie Manning-Walker, who's previously played with Abolition, Arms Race, Crown Court, Guidance, and Violent Reaction over the years. According to Static Shock, Chubby & The Gang, also, consists of "three members of Gutter Knife," although, it doesn't specify which members exactly. Gutter Knife are a Brighton, UK-based Hardcore/Punk band consisting of Ethan Stahl on guitar, Ted Faux behind the drums, Sam Rack on bass, Luke Austin providing vox, and Luca Selvaggio on guitar. Chubby & The Gang are preparing to unleash their debut 7-inch/digital single on July 5, 2019 and Static Shock Records has released "All Along The Uxbridge Road" as a single online.

Ahead of the single physical release, "All Along The Uxbridge Road"'s Acton center label has been uploaded to Static Shock's Bandcamp page; just beneath the single title, it reads, "(Austin, Stahl, McMahon, Manning,)" which would, then, be Gutter Knife's Luke Austin, Ethan Stahl, and "?????" McMahon, as well as Charlie "Chubby" Manning/Walker. So, I'm guessing, the mysterious "McMahon" in question might either be Gutter Knife's Ted "Faux" Foster, Sam "Same Hrachevoc" Rack, or Luca Selvaggio. "All Along The Uxbridge Road" is being billed as a Double A-side, which, also, features as-yet-unreleased "Mockba" on Side AA. Both songs were produced/recorded by Jonah Falco of F*cked Up fame, as well as Career Suicide, GAME & Pavilion, and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Clean Plate Records/Dead Air Studios. Another recent Static Shock release, Warthog's self-titled 2018 7-inch, has just received music video treatment, as well; ch-ch-check out Warthog's wonderfully ghoulish Robin Pak-directed Claymation/animated video for "Brainwasher" down below the break.

"Debut double A-side from stalwart London face, Chubby Charles (Arms Race, Violent Reaction) and three members of Gutter Knife. Chubby & The Gang has a particular way of playing, easily summed up in one word: "SPEED!" Like an engine-modified Wilko Johnson driving too quickly through tiny familiar Northwest London streets. Debts duly paid to the preceding Punk & Rock "N" Roll goalposts nailed in at one end by The Kids and at the other, by Cyanide or The Carpettes. This is today's Punk in Britain."

- Jonah Falco (Static Shock Records)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jason Griff & Alex Ludovico Share Creed-directed "Watch Me Mane" Music Video from Collaborative SCARF TISSUE EP (#MedicineMondays 2019)

I've still been trying to get back on track following our 2-week honeymoon/vacation to Italy back in March, but, at this point, I'm probably not gonna get fully "back on track" until next year. However, with that said, one of my favorite releases since returning home was and still is SCARF TISSUE EP, the first collaborative release from Alex Ludovico & Jason Griff—sometimes, simply, referred to as "Griff" or "Jason/Griff." It's a quick 5-track burst, less than half the length of your standard Extended Play (EP) although, it's an extremely strong offering! While travelling across Italy, I was luck enough to get in touch with both Griff & Alex Ludovico and we were able to set up an track-by-track EP breakdown exclusively for The Witzard. I've very recently been hearing rumblings about a music video for Jimmie "J.J." Walker-referencing "Dy-No-Mite!" as well as a rumored 3-way collaboration between Griff & Alex Ludovico AND Philly emcee Scorcese... but, instead, Griff & Alex Ludovico have surprise-released a music video for SCARF TISSUE's "Watch Me Mane." Directed/Shot/Edited by Creed for xodustudios, "Watch Me Mane" only spans the duration of 1 minute & 13 seconds, but it's an undeniably fun clip, nonetheless; Creed has artistically inter-spliced grainy footage of a dimly-lit Alex Ludovico frantically rhyming along with "Watch Me Mane" juxtaposed against 1990's Basic Cable-reminiscent TV static, as well as footage from, what looks like, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Alex Ludovico & Griff's SCARF TISSUE EP is now available to purchase, stream, or download wherever fine music is still sold. Plus, stay tuned for additional details concerning that purported Griff x Alex Ludovico x Scorcese super-spittin' emcee/beat team-up.

Alex Ludovico: "IT'S. ABOUT. THE. BARS. I heard this beat in an even shorter form and I just knew that this was designed for me to go in. A lot of times, as creatives, we're always looking to expand things. I have always been about minimalism, before Marie Kondo was a thing! I wanted to make sure I murdered this beautiful beat Griff gave me. I feel like I stepped up to the challenge; punch listeners in the face and get out!"

Jason Griff: "When Alex sent me the first draft of this song, I asked him when he was going to do a second verse or if we want to do a feature or whatever and he was like, "nah, that's it. That's the whole song." At first, I was hesitant, but, then, realized this is a Rap version of, like, a Charles Bronson song. Just a short intense blast and then, it's over in under a minute."

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I GRIZ's 1969 Italian Private-press "La Donna Che Toccò Il Diavolo" 7-inch Re-issued Digitally (Superspectrum Music Library)

"The Devil Smiles Back [Il Diavolo Ricambia Il Sorriso] (1969) follows Father Ezra, a Catholic priest in 1920's Milan, who is haunted by the re-appearance of his long-thought-dead first love, Francesca. Upon her re-appearance, Francesca seeks to rekindle her relationship with Ezra and sway him from his vows, but the priest is preoccupied by a series of mysterious and grisly killings, which have plagued the diocese. Taking it upon himself to investigate, after the local authorities have all but abandoned the case, Ezra stumbles upon evidence that the murders are at the work of a den of vampires living within the cathedral's sunken catacombs. As he digs deeper, he discovers that The Bishop and his deacons are in league with the unholy night-dwellers, leaving him with no choice but to exterminate the vampire epidemic single-handely with fists, stakes, and silver bullets.

After the bloody and brutal rampage, the final pieces fit together, as Ezra realizes that Francesca did, indeed, die those 13 years ago and was taken into the service of The Devil himself; she has been feeding the priest information throughout the film, manipulating him into slaying the other vampires, so that she could assume the mantle of The Queen of Night. The film ends ambiguously, with Father Ezra approaching the seductively sinister form of Francesca, a tall being behind her in the shadows, a revolver gripped in the priest's bloody hand..."

"The soundtrack marked the debut of I GRIZ, a session band, who would go on to play for various soundtrack and Library Music recordings over the next 17 years, often, recording compositions by Salvi, Massimo e Massimo, and Pia Cafaro. Named for its four members (Graziano, Rafaella, Ignazio & Zelda,) I GRIZ became known for their unique blend of Psychsploitation & Soulful grooves, most notably, Allam's sparse guitar treatments and Olovetti's heavy baselines."


Father Erza has the staggering realization that his lost love,
Francesca, took Satan as her lover 13 years ago, plunging her
into the nightmare of unholy eternal life.


Can Father Ezra purge the vampire Bishop and his deacons
from the cathedral and maintain his humanity, or will the thirst
for bloody revenge consume the man of God?

Composed By: Giacomo Salvi

Music Performed By: I GRIZ
Graziano Allam - Guitar
Rafaella Macchi - Drums
Ignazio Torossi - Organ, Piano
Zelda Olivetti - Bass

Additional Instrumentation:
Bogdan Tsereteli - Trumpet
Livio Galigani - Tenor & Alto Saxophone
Hal McDermott - Trombone, French Horn

Created By: Dakota Crane & Kyle Tierce
Based On A Concept By: Malcolm Brooks
Produced & Arranged By: Kyle Tierce
Engineered By: "Dusty" Jim Moreland

- I GRIZ (Dakota Crane & Kyle "Quandary" Tierce)

Monday, June 10, 2019

All-around Breakdown: Mega Ran & MC Lars Dissect Kickstarter-funded "Lit-Hop" Album THE DEWEY DECIBEL SYSTEM (Horris Records)

"Ever since our fortiutious connecting at Comic-Con in 2008, we have been teaming up to drop fresh rhymes and play concerts for our fans and friends. It's been a wild ride and it feels like we are just getting started. For the last three years, we have been working on an album and are glad to say that it is 90% finished! In other words, this will be in your hands this year! We know some Kickstarters have taken longer than expected, but this project is super-close to being complete...

Simply put, this album will contain Rap songs about some of our favorite literary works (works of Fiction, short stories, poems, and even graphic novels) transforming them into bangin' and joyful Hip-Hop jams with help from some of the hottest beat-makers and guest rappers in the game. We rap about Shelley's Ozymandias, Moore's Watchmen, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Poe's Masque of The Red Death, and so much more. This album features guest appearances by MC Frontalot, Schaffer The Darklord, [B. Dolan], Storyville, Miss Eaves and more!"

- Mega Ran & MC Lars (Kickstarter)

1. "The Dewey Decibel System Intro" (Produced By: Rich Matthew)

Mega Ran: "On the intro of a new album, I always like to let everyone know what to expect from the album. What's The Dewey Decibel System? Bars. Beats. Books. My favorite thing to hear when two emcees are on a song together is for them to go back-and-forth, like EPMD, Run-D.M.C. and even Jadakiss & Styles P do so well. So, for this one, we wanted to showcase some teamwork. The book and author references were a must, as was the "just read every day" line that I had come up with on the road one time. We'd been doing that for about a year on tour until we thought it'd be a perfect tagline for the whole project. As you'd imagine, we originally wrote it to Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" and wanted a track similar to that for the album. Shout-out to young Richie Picasso, who shot the video!"

2. "1984" Feat. B. Dolan & Mike Russo (Produced By: Rich Matthew & Last BeNeVoLeNcE)

Mega Ran: "I think, when writing this, we had a few ideas in mind to maintain the 80's-style beats and rhymes and to get someone imposing to play Big Brother and B. Dolan was the perfect pick. The hook was based on the iconic opening lines of Public Enemy's "Fight The Power," which we're all trying to do. The video was so perfect, Kevin Parkinson did a great job on it. "1984" is probably the book that's been referenced in Rap more than any other, I think, with the concepts of being watched permeating Rap music for as long as I can remember. So, the key was to execute in a way that hadn't been done, which, I think, we did. Last BeNeVoLeNcE, an artist that I work closely with, assisted Rich Matthew on the track, which was topped off by some KILLER shredding by Lars' bandmate and our frequent tour manager, Mike Russo."

3. "Ode to A Grecian Urn" (Produced By: Steggozaurus)

Mega Ran: "Another track where we got to go back-and-forth, "Ode..." was so fun because I [was] literally learning while I was performing it. Lars wrote the raps and I studied them at the studio, THEN, went back and read the poem. It's a pretty [cool] piece that I'm a big fan of now and I love the lines "'beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all / Ye know on Earth and all ye need to know." After researching it, I found that a lot of poets and critics disagreed on those words and their meaning—but, I think, it makes great art when there's something to be discussed. What's more beautiful than the truth?

Funny story: the producer of this track is Steggozaurus AKA Paul Edwards, who wrote the books How to Rap[: The Art & Science of The Hip-Hop MC] and How to Rap 2[: Advanced Flow & Delivery Techniques]. As a gag gift at the end of our first tour together in 2011, I bought Lars the book How to Rap. Lars loved it and later, became friends with the author, who made the beat for this track. Joke's on me, I guess, 'cause dude is dope!"

4. "Gulliver's Travels" Feat. Jill Sobule & Storyville (Produced By: Rich Matthew)

Mega Ran: "For this story, we rapped about a 3-man crew getting shipwrecked and scattered across a wide land full of wonders, based on Jonathan Swift's satirical story. Lars had his verse and most of the concept ready for me when I heard it and after re-reading, I decided to write my verse based on a meeting with The Houyhnhnms, a very rational group of horse-people. I explained to them how their land was different from mine and they were so nice about not needing laws and punishments and that made me re-think my own home's customs.

Interesting production note: Lars and I wrote this to a completely different beat and then, had to change it (based on some strange business tactics by our original producer.) We had a second beat that we couldn't quite agree on, so then, a third beat appeared and that was the one. Jill [Sobule] KILLED the hook and Storyville brought it all home on the third verse."

5. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (Produced By: Rich Matthew)

Mega Ran: "Stories like this are why I say that Lars is a master at concepts. Somehow, he thought to make the story of Ichabod Crane one that would tell a tale of us going to play a show in Tarrytown, New York, at a strange venue where DJ Ichabod Crane was signed up to play for 100 years. We've played our share of crazy venues, so this one wasn't a stretch. Definitely had Run The Jewels in mind, based on a joke we've made often on the road about being "Run The Schools." Their bombastic style of beats were what we originally wanted to use to tell the story and Rich Matthew knocked it out of the park."

6. "Jabberwocky" (Produced By: Mustin)

Mega Ran: "Jabberwocky was such a fun story to read as a kid, with its cool artwork and silly nonsense words throughout, so this was one that we definitely felt we needed to cover on the album. Mustin's beat captured the feel we imagined perfectly and I played the role of the monster, who was just a bit misunderstood. It feels child-like and whimsical and, I think, it's one of the few tracks on the album that nailed that vibe."

7. "Julius Caesar" Feat. Dan Bull (Produced By: CharlieMumbles)

Mega Ran: "Super fun track to work on, one of my favorites. This is the story that almost stopped our album from being in the "Children's" category! It's a gruesome tale, but it's literally history, so, hey. Shakespeare's take on the Caesar story is one that examines the friendship of Julius with his friend Brutus, who, ultimately, does the deed. CharlieMumbles made a great beat and Lars and I interpolated a little of an [Insane Clown Posse] verse from "Chicken Huntin'" to make up our hook. We had just gotten finished doing The Gathering of The Juggalos, so we were definitely in a darker space when creating this one and it shows; it's very sinister! Technically, I really had a lot of fun with flows on this one and tried some things I hadn't done before, experimenting with triplet flows and more. We had the record almost completely done and then, thought we should have another character on it, so we hit up Dan Bull about being Cassius and he MURDERED his verse. We even got to shoot a video in his studio, which was awesome. Can't wait 'til you guys get to see that!"

MC Lars: "We knew we wanted to do Shakespeare for this album, so we revisited this classic play. A few summers ago, a performance of this play in Central Park was protested because some New Yorkers did not like the modern depiction of Caesar as a Trump-esque "villain," whose reign was mitigated by some misguided revolutionaries. Shakespeare focuses on the complicated aftermath of the regicide and I thought the modern interpretation of the story was prescient. Julius Caesar was the first Shakespeare [play] I remember reading in ninth grade and I remember loving Mark Antony's speech. Mega Ran said he'd be Brutus and our friend, Dan Bull, "KILLED it" as Casius."

8. "Books Are Tight" SKIT (Produced By: Theosyn)

MC Lars: "For months, we called the session for this song "Prince Paul" because Mega Ran and I are both fans of Paul's skits between songs on some of the best the albums he produced. Our producer friend Brad had a Casio RAP-1 Rapman keyboard, which we picked up and starting playing with. The demo beat had a funny melody that made us think of the "books are tight (I read a lot)" chorus, so we thought we'd make a skit about me pitching a horrible song concept to Mega Ran for the album; the "verse" is freestyled. This song was a fun change-of-pace for an album that was very meticulously recorded and produced."

9. "Bartleby, The Scrivener" Feat. Jaret Reddick, Kelly Ogden & Stacked Like Pancakes (Produced By: Eric Taft)

MC Lars: "Some of my most popular songs have been Ska collaborations; this track featured Stacked Like Pancakes, who I made friends with on Warped Tour 2015, when they walked around with a sign saying "SKA IS NOT DEAD!" I asked them and my friends, Jaret from Bowling for Soup and Kelly from The Dollyrots, to help us with this song. I remember loving Bartleby when I discovered the short story in high school because while Melville is known for his dense nautical allegories, he can also, be very funny. Mike Judge's Office Space is a funny, modern twist on the tale, so we wanted to update the story yet again. This song tells the story of two of Bartleby's colleagues at a start-up and how his refusal to do intricate tasks lands him in San Quentin. The twist at the end is hilarious—Mega Ran is a genius lyricist. This song will be fun live, with a full band one day!"

10. "Ozymandias" (Produced By: S.A.T. Beats)

MC Lars: "Years ago, Mega Ran toured with Eyedea collaborator Sadistik. His producer, Alex, had given Mega Ran some MP3's of beats he'd worked on and when we were listening to them in the van on tour, I got so excited about one of his instrumentals. It was, actually, one of the first ones we picked for the album! We tell this story of Shelley's political satire on this song, about a crumbled statue of a once-great ruler. Mega Ran plays the archeologist and I play the misguided deceased demigod, who, simply, wanted to "Make Egypt Great Again." Our video for this song drops next week." (EDITOR'S NOTE: it's out now!)

11. "The Masque of The Red Death" (Produced By: Rich Matthew)

MC Lars: "A few years ago, I did a TEDx Talk, where my students performed their version of this Poe piece. I was so enraptured with their track that I decided that Mega Ran and I should tackle the story, as well. Because Poe's story is set in a fancy ball, hosted by a rich man who wants to keep out the Bubonic Plague (The "Red Death,") we decided to write the song in a 3/4 Waltz tempo, to emphasize the ballroom origins. I tell the story from the host's perspective and Mega Ran becomes the jilted guest, who shows up and destroys everyone who disrespected him. The chorus is inspired by Ces Cru's "Klick Clack Bang," a 3/4 Waltz banger that I've always felt like was one of the best examples of lyricism of all time."

12. "Walden" (Produced By: Middle East Modern)

MC Lars: "This was the first track we recorded for the album and the first video. Mega Ran wrote the verses and I wrote the choruses and we filmed the video at [Henry David] Thoreau's cabin site at Walden Pond. The song is about unplugging and letting go of distractions and in this era of competitive streaming, proprietary YouTube algorithms, and Twitter rage, Thoreau could not be more relatable. Our higher Kickstarter backers, actually, received a signed copy of Walden (but Mega Ran and me, not Thoreau, unfortunately!) Although, we ended up re-recording both this song's music and lyrics, we ended up using the demo version for the album. The beginning of "Look, if you had one shot..." is a reference to [Eminem's] "Lose Yourself," as Thoreau lost himself in Walden. This is one of my favorite songs on the album."

13. "Watchmen" Feat. MC Frontalot, Schäffer The Darklord, Miss Eaves & Quelle Chris (Produced By: Rich Matthew)

MC Lars: "I originally, wanted to exclude graphic novels from this project, but Mega Ran made the point that Watchmen had helped diversify the literary canon to help legitimize "comics" as a literary art form. We knew we wanted a posse track, so we enlisted the help of our friends Quelle Chris, Schäffer The Darklord, Miss Eaves & MC Frontalot to tell the story of each of the main characters from this book. I've always loved [Alan] Moore's seminal classic because it plays with the idea of the moral absolutes of good vs. evil. The characters in this story are neither, so it was fun to bring them to life. Live, this song slaps!"

14. "Between The World & Me" (Produced By: G1)

MC Lars: "Friends of ours in Philadelphia gave me a copy of the Ta-Nehisi Coates classic. I read it on tour and when I got home, Mega Ran suggested that we write a song about the ideas in this book. We wrote it in the form of a podcast; a well-meaning, Liberal (but confused) interviewer asks Coates questions about the book, while trying not to seem ignorant. Some of the back-and-forth mirrored some of the conversations Mega Ran and I had about race and culture and the song gave us the ability to address some of these topics. My favorite line is Mega Ran's "we never owned y'all / For every Rachel Maddow, there's a Rachel Dolezal." It's one of the best, most insightful rhymes on the album."