Friday, December 27, 2019

Man Bites Dog Records Unwraps Happy Holidays Comp. Featuring DJ Ragz, Kount Fif & An Array of Producers from Across The Snowy Globe

Man Bites Dog Records (MBDR) is a Woodbridge, Virginia-based Hip-Hop imprint. It's run by CEO/Founder R.M.L. AKA Ryan, VP/Director A&R Roc Marciano, and main producer/studio engineer Kount Fif. Their current roster consists of Roc Marciano, AG Da Coroner, Playdough, Bronze Nazareth, Stu Bangas, Vanderslice, Esoteric, Eddie B, and more. MBDR's back catalog additionally consists of critically-acclaimed releases from the likes of ANKHLEJOHN, Copywrite, Curly Castro, Blue Sky Black Death AKA BSBD, Illogic & Blockhead, Wu-Tang Clan's Killah Priest, and Vast Aire. Earlier this year, Man Bites Dog Records released a phenomenal joint effort from Uncommon Nasa & Kourt Fif entitled City As School boasting features throughout from Guilty Simpson, Tek from Smif-N-Wessun, Sadat X, Shortrock, DJ Ragz, and Last Sons' DJ Furious P.

Now, just before year's end, MBDR have returned with their second proper release of 2019; Happy Holidays is a largely instrumental 11-track release featuring an array of producers from all over the world. According to a press release, for Happy Holidays, Man Bites Dog enlisted "a collection of producers spanning the globe from New York City to Kabul, Afghanistan." Happy Holidays Tracks No.1-10 are instrumental entirely created from holiday-themed movies, TV specials, yuletide classics, etc. and the closing composition, "Rudy's Revenge," is the only track here with vocals, provided by Dewey Binns. DJ Ragz is featured across nine of said 11 tracks on Happy Holidays, alongside K-Beta, John Cash, DJ No-Zs, Kount Fif, Jeck Da General, Krazyfingaz, Kel C, Uncommon Nasa, DJ Criminal, and Dewey Binns. Man Bites Dog Records' Happy Holidays comp. is now available to purchase, stream, or download directly from the label on Bandcamp. Here's to a safe and happy holiday season, my friends!!!

"I have always been a fan of Kount Fif. I had been working with Kount on a few things here and there and it sparked a genuine friendship. Kount is Man Bites Dog's main producer/engineer/cool guy. I really enjoyed hanging with the guys in previous sessions. So, when Kount Fif & Ryan [R.M.L.] from Man Bites Dog asked me to be down, I didn't have to to think about it. I had a day off, so I met up with them for a day at the studio. Ryan & Kount had all the samples and beats picked out. They plugged me in and said, "just do what you love to do." We had fun with it. It was, also, so cool to do cuts over all these talented producers' beats. I'm very happy I had the opportunity to be down on this project. I listened to it today, in fact. Much love, Matt. Happy holidays, G!"

- DJ Ragz (@djragz)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Your Old Droog Enlists MF DOOM, Matsyahu, Mach-Hommy & More for "Chanukah Celebration" Album Jewelry (Mongoloid Banks/Nature Sounds)

Just in time for Hanukkah, Your Old Droog AKA YOD has returned with his third full-length album of 2019. Jewelry was surprise-released on Monday, December 23, 2019—the first full day of Hanukkah—along with a special holiday blessing from Droog: "A Chanukah Celebration." Jewelry is the proper follow-up to both It Wasn't Even Close & Transportation, which were surprise-released in succession in a very similar fashion earlier this year. Jewelry is a sonic celebration of Your Old Droog's own Jewish heritage, which he is now officially revealing publicly for the first time. For Jewelry, YOD recruited Tha God Fahim, Quelle Chris, Preservation, Edan, and CohenBeats on the production end of things with frequent collaborator Mach-Hommy as Executive Producer. Droog receives lyrical assists from the likes of Mach-Hommy, fellow Jewish emcee Matisyahu, The Metal Face Villain himself, MF DOOM, and Tha God Fahim. Jewelry's companion cover artwork was designed by FWMJ/Frank William Miller Junior from FWMJ's Rappers I Know.

Jewelry's wide-release was preceded by two music videos released back-to-back, "Jew Tang" Feat. Matisyahu and "BDE" Feat. Mach-Hommy & MF DOOM; both clips were directed by Jonah Schwartz, edited by Matthew C. Levy, and produced by SHOTCLOCK and show YOD & Mach-Hommy lighting the menorah, spinning a dreidel, and enjoying Hanukkah Seder with latkes, challah, breaded fish, red wine, decadent desserts, etc. I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and say (as a fellow Jewish man) Jews have never looked as effortlessly cool as YOD, Matisyahu & Mach-Hommy do in their "Jew Tang" video! Your Old Droog's Jewelry is now available to purchase, stream, or download in both physical and digital formats, via Mongoloid Banks/Nature Sounds. If you haven't already, I would, also, strongly suggest checking out YOD's It Wasn't Even Close & Transportation, as well! Happy Hanukkah & Happy New Year, my friends! L'chaim! 🥂

"In the early years of my career, I sometimes shared the story of my immigration to The US, from The Ukraine, in time for kindergarten. At that age, I was already aware that I was not really "Ukrainian," as the natives confidently classified... maybe, because in The Ukraine, my family and I were simply identified as "Jews," or any of the number of unfriendly terms that Jewish people were, and often still are, called. So, as far back as I can remember, I was never taught to hide that I was a Jew, this reflex habit developed so early that it seems like a natural-born instinct. An instinct which was still required in considerable magnitude when we moved here to another environment that doesn't exactly embrace Jews. Well, I'm no longer going to diminish my heritage for your comfort, some people hate simply for the sake of hating, let them crumble under the weight of that burden... we will celebrate light and life... I'm a Jew in America. This is my story. Shalom."

- YOD (@YourOldDroog)

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Poets of Rhythm's JJ Whitefield Speaks On The Soul-Saints Orchestra's 1994 "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul" 7-inch (The Witzard Interview)

CREDIT: Jan Weissenfeldt

"I can't believe these guys are from Germany and speak with thick German accents when not singing. Also can't believe it's a relatively new recording. They nailed it," Peanut Butter Wolf wrote within the liner notes to PEANUT BUTTER WOLF PRESENTS - BADD SANTA: A STONES THROW RECORDS XMAS. The Soul-Saints Orchestra's "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul" is featured along with a slew of festive favorites and lesser-known holiday classics hand-selected by Wolf himself. BADD SANTA additionally boasts selections from James Pants, Free Design, 69 Boys & Quad City DJ's, Bruce Haack, James Brown, and Baron Zen. The Soul-Saints Orchestra (or The Soul-Saints) was, actually, a short-lived side-project of The Poets of Rhythm; featuring Boris Geiger AKA Bo Baral, Jan "Curly" Krause, Jan Weissenfeldt AKA JJ Whitefield, Malte Müller-Egloff AKA Wolf Schlick, Max "Muggy" Weissenfeldt, and Michael "Treetop" Voss. Over the years, JJ Whitefield has either performed as or with JOHNNY! Karl Hector & The Malcouns/Funk-Pilots, Soul Sliders, Space Clique, The Mercy Sl*ts, The Woo Woo's, Rodinia, and The Whitefield Brothers. I think, I heard "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul" from Stones Throw's 2008 comp. first, but didn't really connect the dots it was a JJ Whitefield-affiliated group until I heard JOHNNY!'s string of three 7-inch releases on Now-Again Records in 2016. This holiday season, I reached out to Whitefield, whom I've been communicating with for a number of years, in an effort to learn a bit more about The Soul-Saints Orchestra. Below, you will find a quick, yet thorough, Q&A about The Soul-Saints Orchestra's lone 1994 7-inch single released on The Poets of Rhymth's own Hotpie & Candy Records. Merry Christmas to all, Happy New Years, and, of course, "a Festivus for the rest of us!"


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours

I. What, in your opinion, differentiates Soul-Saints Orchestra from The Soul-Saints/Poets of Rhythm?

[The] Soul-Saints was Bo Baral's and my production team... we gave all the spin-off bands different names for these 45-only releases... the musicians playing on these are the same as The Poets of Rhythm... for this Christmas 45, we chose The Soul-Saints Orchestra name.

II. Who played on Soul-Saints Orchestra's most well-known festive 1994 7-inch single, "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul" B/W "Working On The Line?"

Bo Baral - Vocals, Production
JJ Whitefield - Guitar, Production
Wolf Schlick - Saxophone
Muggy Whitefield - Drums
Curly Krause - Bass

Flip side, "Working On The Line," adds Treetop Voss on Trumpet.

III. How did "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul" initially come to fruition? What were some of the circumstances surrounding its creation?

I was still heavily collecting James Brown records in those days and he has a bunch of Christmas records... we had this unused rhythm track and I figured it was time to do our own Christmas song... initially, it was made for our record company as a holiday give-away... I came up with a title, then, we fooled around a little and Bo came up with the rest of the lyrics. We did vocal, guitar, and saxophone overdubs and 20 minutes later, the song was finished...

IV. BADD SANTA: A Stones Throw Records Christmas was the first place I heard "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul," but when did you first realize it was a certified holiday hit?

Every year, there are [licensing] requests and that started in the early 2000's already... people really seem to dig it, as it's one of the heaviest Funky Christmas-themed songs out there... one for the Deep Funk nerds...

V. What were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence when creating "Santa's Got A Bag of Soul?"

As stated above, all the James Brown Christmas records were the initial inspiration to make a Christmas record... the musical influences came from all the obscure Funk 45´s I was collecting back then...

Friday, December 20, 2019

Bacchae Let Loose "Leave Town" from 2020 Full-length PLEASURE VISION Recorded & Mixed By J. Robbins (Get Better Records)

CREDIT: Kara Donnelly (@kza_)

Bacchae are a DC-based Post-punk/Riot grrrl, Pop Punk, and Synth Punk group consisting of vocalist/keyboardist Katie McD, drummer Eileen "O." O'Grady, guitarist Andrew "B." Breiner, and bassist Rena "H." Hagins. Formed in 2016 by four friends from various musical projects with minimal experience, Bacchae "make music with no assumptions about what a "Punk band" should sound like." Since 2016, Bacchae have self-released a home-mixed 2016 Demo and a cassette entitled Down The Drain, as well as a self-titled 5-track EP last year. Now, Bacchae have returned with the announcement of their debut full-length, Pleasure Vision, to be released next year on Get Better Records. Earlier this week, Bacchae issued the second single, "Leave Town," from Pleasure Vision, which was preceded by "Everything Ugly" this past May; "'Leave Town" is a pronouncement against predators," Bacchae's Katie McD recently explained to The Witzard, via email.

"We tried to incorporate several different Punk styles into the melody and structure of the song," McD continued. Pleasure Vision was recorded and mixed by J. Robbins (Jawbox) at The Magpie Studio in Baltimore, Maryland and mastered by Dan Countant at Sun Room Audio with production assistance/rhythm guitar by Rosendo Flores and backing vocals by Shawna Potter of War On Women. "On their new LP, Pleasure Vision, brooding synth-driven Pop sits alongside prickly, fast-paced Punk and spooky Post-punk sounds. Sometimes, you get all of that in a single song. But whether the band is exploring the pain of a doomed relationship or the push-and-pull of disgust and desire while shopping online, what carries through it all is a sense of uncertainty, dissolution, and dread. Pleasure Vision is a way of looking at the world that ignores everything, but how you can twist it to your own purposes," explains a press release. Bacchae's Pleasure Vision will be released Friday, March 6, 2020 on Get Better Records.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Chris Gethard Releases TAYLOR HAM, PORK & CHEESE: A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO NEW JERSEY Comedy Album (Don Giovanni Records)

Chris Gethard is a self-proclaimed "comedian, author," and... "telephone call enthusiast," who was born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey. You may know Gethard from his podcast, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (Beautiful/Anonymous,) his books, Lose Well and A Bad Idea I'm About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgement & Stunningly Awkward Adventure, or roles on The Chris Gethard Show, Parks & Recreation, The Other Guys, or Broad City. Little-know fact: Chris Gethard is, also, a wrestling super-fan and was once a staff writer for Weird N.J. He was even interviewed as part of an installment of the RTF WRESTLING FANZINE! a few years back, as well. Gethard now resides in Queens, New York, but has decided to return to his roots for his latest Comedy album, TAYLOR HAM, PORK & CHEESE: A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO NEW JERSEY. Full Disclosure: for those who may not already know, I, too, was born and raised and still reside in South Jersey with my beautiful wife, in Bridgeton/Hopewell, to be exact.

TAYLOR HAM (no, not "Pork Roll!") EGG & CHEESE consists of 14 tracks composed entirely of New Jersey-centric material. It was recorded at The Asbury Park Brewery and aside from a few tracks, this was the first time Gethard performed most of these tracks live in front of a room-full of people, specifically, New Jersians—or is it spelled "New Jerseyans?" "I've made an album that, by definition, will only be fully enjoyed by people in New Jersey," Chris Gethard explained within a press release, as quoted by Pitchfork. Having listened to TAYLOR HAM, EGG & CHEESE a few times through by now, at this point, I can fully attest, about 99.99% of this material is true or, at least, familiar to myself or people I know. "We, also, have a hunch that this is the last comedy album that will come out this decade, which is neither here nor there, but sounds like a pretty cool thing to say," Gethard continues. Chis Gethard's TAYLOR HAM, PORK & CHEESE: A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO NEW JERSEY is now available to purchase, stream, or buy, via Don Giovanni Records.

"There are a handful of tracks that anyone anywhere will find funny, but a solid 50% of this album will be unfunny to people unfamiliar with Jersey and may, actually, not make sense. There are certain jokes about specific landmarks or directions or behaviors that will sound like utter gibberish to people not from my home state. Most of this material was recorded the first time I ever said it out loud into a microphone. It was impossible to practice any of this before recording, since the only context where it makes sense is at a taping, specifically, for all-Jersey material. You can't go up at a club and workshop your bit about The Evil Clown of Middletown, you know? There were only three tracks that I was able to practice before recording: "Medieval Times," "Great Adventure," and "New Jersey Discrimination." Outside of that, all of it was Hail Mary passes the night of the taping. We, also, have a hunch that this is the last comedy album that will come out this decade, which is neither here nor there, but sounds like a pretty cool thing to say."

- Chris Gethard (@ChrisGethard)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

the story of the PUNCHLINE holiday classic "ICICLES" from A Santa Cause: It's A Punk Rock Christmas (2003 Immortal Records Comp.)

A Santa Cause: It's A Punk Rock Christmas sits atop the annual shortlist of "classic" holiday albums I listen to every year right around this time of year; a CD copy sits on my shelf amidst BADD SANTA: A Stones Throw Records Xmas, Bad Religion's Christmas Songs, two volumes-worth of Motown Christmas favorites, and a few additional shiny, slightly scratched up CD's. A Santa Cause has been in my collection since at least 2005, if not earlier (and I'm already on my second copy!) although, I'm not really sure how exactly I discovered it, but it's always held a special place in my cold heart. A Santa Cause boasts submissions from the likes of Something Corporate, The Matches, blink-182, Fall Out Boy, MxPx, Sonny "Skrillex" Moore's own From First to Last, New Found Glory, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Saosin, and a hidden/bonus track from Nerf Herder. One of my personal favorite tracks on the second half of the CD is Punchline's "Icicles" and this year, on a complete whim, I decided to reach out to the band in honor of A Santa Cause. Below, you will find Punchline's commentary on "Icicles," as transcribed from a newly-released video entitled "the story of the PUNCHLINE holiday classic "ICICLES.'" Punchline's latest album, LION, was released on InVogue Records last year and earlier this year, the band released a 4-track EP entitled Songs from '94 on their own imprint, Modern Short Stories. Punchline's latest festive frolic, a cover of Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" was released as part of Cleopatra Records' PUNK ROCK CHRISTMAS, Vol. 2 comp. 🥶

"'Icicles" was the first in a long list of Punchline holiday songs. In 2003, we were asked to be part of a compilation CD called A Santa Cause [It's A Punk Rock Christmas]. It was being released by Immortal Records. A portion of the proceeds benefited The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. This was back at a time when people bought compact discs, and compilations were HUGE. This was the biggest comp. that we'd ever been asked to be on, and we were very excited. There was a catch, though. We had to turn the song in by the next day. We wrote the song in about 3 hours (hence, the very "patchwork" song structure.) We called our friend, Mike Ofca, from Innovation Studios in Steubenville, Ohio, and we were in the studio instantaneously. We made every decision about the song on-the-fly, because the deadline left us no room for second-guessing. Usually, we were very meticulous about every last detail of our songs, but not this time. We leaned heavily on harmonies, because that was really "our thing," at the time. And for some reason... we did THIS. (Okay, that synth is pretty sick.) Yep, we just decided to break into "Carol of The Bells" mid-song. This is the kinda stuff that happens when you have only a few hours to record and submit a song.

Looking back on it 16 years later, it IS, actually, kinda cool, but something we'd probably never do now. The transition back into the song is kinda wild. Steve [Soboslai] sings "I'm workin' on another list here, not "I'm workin' on a Nautilus" (no, we weren't singing about an elliptical machine.) It's pretty crazy that while we were in the studio recording this, [Trevor Leonard] was there adding his two cents (he wouldn't join the band until over a decade later.) The song in general is kind of a bummer, as far as the lyrics go, but they came from the heart and we were definitely relatable. A Santa Cause was released on November 11, 2003. It featured a lot of really cool bands (and man, oh man, we LOVE "December Is for Cynics" by The Matches!) "Icicles" became a deep cut favorite among people who like our band, and we still get asked to play it to this day (even in, like, June sometimes.) It's not available for streaming on Spotify or Apple Music. You're just gonna have to dig up that CD (and a CD player.) Just kidding... you can just stream it on YouTube, which, believe it or not, is the most popular music streaming platform. We hope you have a great holiday season... or, at least, a better one than we were having when we were writing these lyrics. Thanks for liking our band."


PUNCHLINE (@punchlion)

DARK THOUGHTS Return with Third Frantic, Riff-heavy Full-length Album MUST BE NICE (Stupid Bag/Drunken Sailor Records)

CREDIT: Scott Troyan's "Baseball Cards"

DARK THOUGHTS are a true D.I.Y. snotty, Ramones-style Punk/Hardcore band hailing from Philly. We recently wrote about their latest 2-track 7-inch single, "DO YOU DREAM?" B/W "IT'S TOO LATE" issued by Peterwalkee Records within our new column, Punk/Hardcore On Wax. Now, DARK THOUGHTS have returned with their third—seemingly self-released—full-length album, MUST BE NICE currently available digitally exclusively on Bandcamp. MUST BE NICE is DARK THOUGHTS' third full-length released in four years and features their core line-up of Jim "Jam" Shomo, Amy "Opssnick" Opsasnick & Daniel "Danny" Cox. Collectively, DARK THOUGHTS' members are, also, part of Bad Side, Loose Nukes, Machine Gun, The Holidays, F*ck SS, Aseptic, No Qualms, and Pollen. MUST BE NICE was recorded, mix, mastered, and produced by DARK THOUGHTS & Kyle Gilbride (Bad Banana, Swearin') at his Philly-based studio, Wherever Audio. Cynthia Schemmer (Swanning, Radiator Hospital) sings additional vocals album closer, "Must Be Nice."

Across MUST BE NICE, DARK THOUGHTS rips through 12 songs within the duration of about 18 minutes and it's surely one fun, fast, snotty, riff-heavy frantic sonic ride! "We're really excited with how it turned out. We're [playing] two Record Release Shows: 12/30 in NYC and 12/31 in Philadelphia," frontman Jim Shomo recently told The Witzard, via email. "We'll be heading out on tour [from] January 16-26th down The East Coast, Midwest in April, and [to The] West Coast in May. That's pretty much it, I think?" Shomo continued. As Stereogum's Tom Breihan recently pointed out, DARK THOUGHTS' own Jim Shomo's other band, Loose Nukes, also, released their debut EP, Behind The Screen, on Beach Impediment Records this past September, as well. Along with Shomo, who designed the Behind The Screen EP cover, Loose Nukes additionally features two unnamed ex-members of Pittsburgh's own Blood Pressure. DARK THOUGHTS' MUST BE NICE is currently available to purchase, stream, or download exclusively on Bandcamp. MUST BE NICE 12-inch LP's are now available to pre-order directly from Stupid Bag Records State-side and on Drunken Sailor Records overseas in The UK.

Monday, December 16, 2019

With The Quickness #1: Salad Days Director & Writer Scott Crawford Compiles DC Punk Playlist Spanning 1980's-2019 (Exclusive Spotify Playlist)

CREDIT: Dale Stewart

With The Quickness will, hopefully, be a new column here at The Witzard (shout-out to John Bachman for the column name!) to feature Punk/Hardcore playlists to be curated by people from both in and around the genres. For this inaugural installment, we've asked film-maker, music journalist, musician, and graphic designer Scott Crawford to curate a DC Punk playlist. Oddly enough, I first heard about Crawford via his @saladdazed Instagram & Twitter pages, which largely feature Punk/Hardcore memes, along with rare archival photographs. As a teenager living in the DC suburbs, Scott Crawford started a fanzine called Metrozine, who, in 1985, released a 7-inch compilation called Alive & Kicking with WGNS Recordings. It was recorded at Don Zientara's infamous Inner Ear Studios. It featured contributions from United Mutation, Gray Matter, Beefeater, Mission Impossible—featuring a 16-year-old Dave "G." Grohl on drums—Cereal Killer, and Marginal Man. Scott Crawford's additional credits include serving as director/writer on both Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine and Salad Days: A Decade of Punk In Washington, DC (1980-90.)

Crawford launched Harp magazine and served as its Editor-In-Chief for over seven years and additionally, launched a separate online music portal in 2009. A comprehensive hardcover book, Spoke: Images & Stories from The 1980's Washington, DC Punk Scene, was released on Akashic Books in conjunction with Dischord Records in 2017. With The Quickness: Scott Crawford's DC Punk Playlist for The Witzard features everyone from J. Robbins to The Replacements; as a whole, said playlist takes the listener on a sonic journey through "new DC stuff," "DC classics" (available on the Salad Days soundtrack,) and "DC & non-DC classics from the 1980's" not included on said soundtrack. Below, you will find a bit of commentary from Scott Crawford himself on the creation of his Spotify playlist exclusively curated for The Witzard. There's still time to purchase a few Crawford-created pieces of memorabilia as sticking stuffers for that special Punk in your life this holiday season!

"Many of these songs represent a big chunk of my teenage soundtrack, while others illustrate what DC Punk is up to these days—and how it continues to thrive in the shadow of The White House. This is, by no means, a complete list and far from exhaustive (many of other numbers I selected aren't available on Spotify, and, let's face it, my memory isn't what it [used] to be,) but, hopefully, they'll resonate with you, like they continue to for me."

- Scott Crawford (@saladdazed)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Swamp Dogg Unveils "Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg" Feat. Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis, & Channy Leaneagh (Joyful Noise/Pioneer Works Press)

Jerry Williams, Jr. has been consistently been recording and releasing music since 1962 under his given name, as well as Little Jerry, The Detroit Magnificents, and most notably, Swamp Dogg. The Guardian once went as far as to lamented that "Swamp Dogg [was] the Soul genius that time forgot" within a 2006 feature. Swamp Dogg has since cemented himself as an "Outsider" Soul/Funk and has released at least 26 original albums. Swamp received a bit of a career resurgence with his 2018 album, Love, Loss & Auto-Tune was was produced by Indie/Electronic Rock mastermind, Ryan Olson. Olson is, in fact, an affiliate of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and has played in a number of critically-acclaimed bands, including, but not limited to GAYNGS, Marijuana Deathsquads, Mel Gibson & The Pants, Poliça, and Jason Feathers with Vernon himself. Love, Loss & Auto-Tune, as its title suggests, found Swamp Dogg embracing modern Auto-Tune technology, as well as a slightly more experimental production style/sound provided by Olson and his cohorts.

Swamp Dogg & Ryan Olson have once again joined forces for Love, Loss & Auto-Tune's follow-up, Sorry You Couldn't Make It. In addition to Olson, Sorry You Couldn't Make It features a crack studio band consisting of keyboard virtuoso Derick Lee, Nashville guitar phenom Jim Oblon, and frequent collaborator Moogstar, and special guests Justin Vernon, John Prine, Jenny Lewis, Channy Leaneagh & Chris Beirden from Poliça, and Sam Amidon. Lead sing(g)le, "Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg," features lush piano melodies from Vernon and backing vocals from Jenny Lewis & Channy Leaneagh. Swamp Dogg & Ryan Olson's newly-minted 14-piece recorded Sorry You Couldn't Make It at Nashville, Tennessee's Sound Emporium. Swamp Dogg's Sorry You Couldn't Make It will see a wide release on Friday, March 6, 2020, via Joyful Noise/Pioneer Works Press. Limited edition vinyl and CD pre-orders are now available directly from Joyful Noise Recordings.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Brian Fallon Shares Single "You Have Stolen My Heart" from Third Solo Full-length Local Honey (Lesser Known Records/Thirty Tigers)

CREDIT: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

New Jersey's own Gaslight Anthem make/made a very specific brand of Heartland Rock-indebted Punk/Hardcore; the kind of music that makes you wanna slick your hair back with some pomade, throw on your favorite leather jacket and Chucks, and go drag race some hot rods down on Main Street... Since going on an "indefinite hiatus" during Summer 2015, The Gaslight Anthem briefly reunited for a 2018 tour in honor of the 10th anniversary of their second album, The '59 Sound, however, the future of the band is currently unknown. Guitar and bass guitar players Alex Rosamilia & Alex Levine formed X Squared Productions together; drummer Benny Horowitz currently makes music as part of Mercy Union, Wax Bottles, and Antarctigo Vespucci and co-hosts The Tune-Up & Going Off Track Podcasts. Frontman Brian Fallon is currently a member of both The Horrible Crowes and Molly & The Zombies, as well as his touring band, Brian Fallon & The Howling Weather/The Crowes. Fallon is currently gearing up to release his third solo album, Local Honey, which was preceded by critically-acclaimed albums, Painkillers (2016) and its 2018 follow-up, Sleepwalkers. Local Honey will be released early next year and was preceded yesterday by lead single, "You Have Stolen My Heart."

For this go-'round, Brian Fallon recruited GRAMMY Award-winning producer Peter Katis (The National, Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Frightened Rabbit) to helm Local Honey. "'You Have Stolen My Heart" is my most direct attempt at a love song. I wanted a song that wasn't aware of what it was or wasn't, it was just true. The rhythm has an almost Calypso feel inside of an Americana song," Fallon explained within a recent press release. Accompanied by a stark black-and-white music video, "You Have Stolen My Heart" is a bit more of a somber, stripped down number than Brian Fallon's usual fare, which, to my ears, at least, evokes comparisons to Bob Dylan's beloved 1969 effort, Nashville Skyline. "Every single song is about right now," Brian Fallon elaborated on Local Honey. "There's nothing on this record that has to do with the past or even the future, it just has to do with the moments that are presented and things that I've learned and I'm finding in my day-to-day. This record is 100% about the [day-to-day]. It's not about these glorious dreams or miserable failures, it's just about life and how I see it," Fallon continued. Local Honey will be released on Friday, March 27, 2020 on Brian Fallon's own newly-minted label, Lesser Known Records, launched in conjunction with Nashville-based Thirty Tigers. Brian Fallon & The Howling Weather will be embarking on a Local Honey US Tour from 3/12-4/5/20 followed by a separate European Tour 2020 running from April 22nd through May 23rd.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Duncecap Returns with ELUCID-produced miserable then EP with Contributions from Quelle Chris, Samurai Banana & Willie Green (Backwoodz Studioz)

Mike "Duncecap" Petrow is a Brooklyn, New York-based director, editor, cinematographer, emcee, and we are the karma kids affiliate. As a director, Petrow has directed music videos for karma kids signees/affiliates BALD AFRO, BIG BREAKFAST, Blastmaster Baker, GooGiE, Gruff Lion, Impervious Machine, Lt Headtrip, MC Eleven, and OLD SELF. Mike Petrow has, also, directed music videos for artists such as ELUCID, The Front Bottoms, Mega Ran, PremRock, Quelle Chris, Tanya Morgan, and Uncommon Nasa. As an emcee, Duncecap has self-released two EP's and two full-length projects since 2011; as of Friday, December 6, 2019, Duncecap has returned with his next project before year's end. miserable then is a 5-track EP entirely produced by ELUCID (Armand Hammer, CULT FAVORITE, Nostrum Grocers, The Lessondary) and recorded, mixed, and mastered by Willie Green at The GreenHouse Recording Co.

miserable then opener "Waste of Money" features scratches throughout provided by Samurai Banana, guitar by Andrew Gialanella on "To Love Your Enemy Is to Love Yourself" & "What Have I Done to Myself?" and additional vocals on the latter provide by Quelle Chris. Contrary to Duncecap's previous largely self-produced body of work, miserable then is entirely produced by ELUCID and it's his first time ever producing a full project for another artist, as well. miserable then is a phenomenal juxtaposition of both Duncecap & ELUCID's own personal styles, sonically jelled into one, creating a great EP to be released before year's end. miserable then has arrived accompanied by a music video for "Waste of Time" directed by Rob Yaskovic/Mike Petrow AKA Duncecap, shot by Rob Yaskovic, edited by Mike Petrow, and a set piece built by Mo Niklz. Duncecap & ELUCID's miserable then EP is now available to purchase directly from billy woods' own Backwoodz Studioz.

"Miserable Then is a collaborative EP from Brooklyn-based rapper Duncecap and producer ELUCID (1/2 of ARMAND HAMMER,) set for release by Backwoodz Studioz on December 6th, 2019. In a departure from his previous work, Duncecap sinks into ELUCID's brooding tones and soundscapes. It's a mature step for Duncecap, eschewing the whimsical slant of his earlier work for something closer to the bone.

The EP, also, finds ELUCID treading new ground; it's his first full project producing for another artist and this collaboration operates on entirely different wavelengths than his work with Armand Hammer or Nostrum Grocers. Miserable Then is an intimate affair; an unsparing examination of the artists' life and relationships that still covers a lot of ground in its short run time, veritably begging for repeat listens."

- Backwoodz Studioz (@BackwoodzHipHop)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Leonard Charles & Guilty Simpson Team Up to Form The Leonard Simpson Duo & Release Single "Nobody" from 2020 Album LSD (Jakarta Records)

A pair of unlikely collaborators, revered Detroit emcee Guilty Simpson and New Zealand-bred producer Leonard Charles, have joined forces to form a new rapper/producer group, The Leonard Simpson Duo. Both sharing a mutual admiration for and connection to J Dilla, Guilty & Leonard first collaborated on "Breaking Over You" for Japan-based WONDERFUL NOISE PRODUCTIONS in 2017, which we were fortunate enough to premiere right here at The Witzard. While working on his very own "Basement Funk" re-interpretation of J Dilla's magnum opus, Donuts, Basement Donuts, for HIT+RUN/WONDERFUL NOISE, Leonard Charles shared his then-progress with Guilty Simpson during a visit to his Auckland, NZ-based studio; "I asked him if he wanted to hear the versions I was working on. I was really nervous about playing it to him because I was f*cking with one of his close associates' music, but... he was feeling it and genuinely appreciated my creative approach to re-interpreting the tracks," Charles explained within our 2016 interview.

Now, following the wide success of "Breaking Over You," Leonard Charles & Guilty Simpson have joined forces as The Leonard Simpson Duo (AKA LSD) for a full-length album next year. I've, personally, been hearing rumblings about The Leonard Simpson Duo/LSD for months, but, now, Leonard & Guilty have finally released their first proper single together unto the masses. "Nobody" opens up with a lush sample pulled from Marlon Williams' "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" featuring Aldous Harding from the former's 2018 album, MAKE WAY FOR LOVE. A press release explains Leonard Charles' wife, Anji Sami, sent him the 2018 APRA Silver Scroll Awards-winning track with a suggestion that "the chorus could come in quicker because it felt so good." Charles says he immediately "jumped in the studio and threw a draft beat together and looped up the hook." He, then, "sent it to Guilty that night and it was a no-brainer, he jumped on it." The Leonard Simpson Duo's "Nobody" premiered over at HipHopDX just this past Friday.

Guilty Simpson told HipHopDX: "the song is about the evolution a man should go through during maturity. Negative vibes will only get a person so far, before they self-destruct." The resulting single is a brilliant, fresh take on what many have deemed New Zealand's ultimate 21st Century break-up song. "Nobody" stems from an upcoming 40-minute, 14-track album entitled LSD attributed to The Leonard Simpson Duo that culls from a wide array of rare 1960-70's New Zealand Psychedelic/Acid Rock records, as well as late 60's Jazz/Rock Fusion, some fuzzed out African records, David Axelrod's compulsory leanings, and, of course, one of The Motor City's finest emcees. LSD features additional drumming from Jed Larson, a lone feature from Wildchild of Lootpack fame on "Heavy Organ," and was mixed by fellow Kiwi producer Andy Morton AKA Submariner (Che Fu, The Feelstyle, Sola Rosa, Tyra Hammond & The Tornadoes.) Additionally, artwork and design for this record were created by conceptual mastermind Simone Cihlar, who has previously worked with Anderson .Paak, Ta-ku & Raashan Ahmad, Habibi Funk/Jakarta Records, Tom Misch, and many more. "Nobody" is now available to purchase, stream, or download on digital streaming services and The Leonard Simpson Duo's debut album, LSD, will become available Friday, January 31, 2020 through Berlin, Germany's own Jakarta Records.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Preservation Releases "龍鎮 Dragon Town" Feat. YoungQueenz from Upcoming Album Eastern Medicine, Western Illness (MonDieu Music)

Yasiin Bey FKA Mos Def once said, "Three key steps to leading a rewarding and enriched life: (1) Wake up, (2) be awesome, (3) LISTEN TO PRESERVATION." Preservation, otherwise known as Dj Preservation, Dj Jun, and Jun TME is/was part of Dr. Yen Lo with Brownsville emcee KA, Sonic Sum along with Rob Sonic, Fred Ones & Eric M.O. and TME PRO. Preservation has long operated as the touring DJ for both Yasiin Bey & KA and has produced music for Mach-Hommy, RZA, GZA, Raekwon, U-God, Sean Price, Roc Marciano, Ed O.G. KRS-One, Jean Grae, Aesop Rock, billy woods, and Your Old Droog. I can, personally, recall knowingly hearing Preservation's work across the official 2013 re-worked companion to Mos Def's The Ecstatic entitled The REcstatic; although, Preservation previously contributed production work to Mighty Mos' 2006 album, True Magic, as well as the original aforementioned project, his "last" album as Mos Def, The Ecstatic (2013.)

Following a string of critically-acclaimed solo projects and a self-imposed 5-year sabbatical, DJ Preservation returned in 2018 with a 2-song single, February 4th; consisting of Mach-Hommy-assisted "Daddy Love You" and a solo B-side entitled "Dedicated Voyage." February 2019 saw a newly-reinvigorated Preservation issue a nearly 9-minute single-track opus entitled "East Winds Calling" and then, radio silence for nearly nine consecutive months... until Preservation re-emerged once again just this past Tuesday with a new composition being billed as "龍鎮 Dragon Town." For the first single from his upcoming 2020 album, Eastern Medicine, Western Illness, Preservation recruited Hong Kong's own emcee, YoungQueenz. Eastern Medicine, Western Illness was produced and created while Preservation was living in Hong Kong for three years; "during this time, he was sourcing Chinese vinyl and began exporting beats back home to his collaborators."

The final product, Eastern Medicine, Western Illness features collaborations with collaborators both old and new including A.G. Brownsville KA, Mach-Hommy, MC Tree G, Roc Marciano, Your Old Droog, and more. While working on the album, Preservation introduced YoungQueenz to Mach-Hommy, who included YoungQueenz on his latest Alchemist-produced single, "Clout Dracula," alongside emcees Tvoy, Navy Blue AKA professional skateboarder and model Sage Elsesser, and Your Old Droog(?) Actually, the music video for Preservation's "Dragon Town" and Mach-Hommy's "Clout Dracula" have been released in tandem, as directed by Karma Cheng and an unknown director/photographer, respectively. Preservation's "Dragon Town" Feat. YoungQueenz is now available on digital streaming platforms and his new album, Eastern Medicine, Western Illness is expected to drop sometime in early 2020 on MonDieu Music.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Sulu & Excelsior Return with "AntiMatter" Music Video from Second Album THE ANTIMATTER SUITE (Slow Jam King Productions)

CREDIT: Jean-Baptiste Sankara

Sulu & Excelsior AKA the one-man band/solo project of multi-instrumentalist/rapper/singer Steve "Sulu" Mallorca has returned with it's (his) second album, THE ANTIMATTER SUITE; released prior to Thanksgiving, THE ANTIMATTER SUITE is the proper follow-up to Sulu's critically-acclaimed 2016 debut, Eddie Romero. This time about three years ago, we were fortunate enough to premiere the second music video from Eddie Romero, "Dam Foo's," right here at The Witzard. Although, we've never, actually, met in real life (despite numerous attempts!) Steve Mallorca and I have become very close friends, mutual admirers, and frequent collaborators; our coverage concocted together here, for The Witzard, to date, includes two Eddie Romero-era interviews, two premieres, and countless hip-shaking tracks ranking on numerous countdowns. Eddie Romero, ultimately, ranked at No.1 atop The Witzard's Best of 2016 Countdown and nearly a year after its initial release, the album was re-released in Japan/State-side on CD. Sulu & Excelsior with a full band recently played a Record Release Party/Show on Friday, November 15th at New York's The Parkside Lounge with P.I.C.'s Un-G The Magnificent.

Unfortunately, The Mrs. & I were unable to make it to said show, but I've since had ample time to sit with THE ANTIMATTER SUITE and man, this album is phenomenal! I might even go out on a limb to say it's as good as, if not better than, Sulu & Excelsior's 2016 debut, Eddie Romero. Ghettoblaster Magazine recently ran a premiere of the first proper music video from THE ANTIMATTER SUITE for quasi-title track, "AntiMatter." Directed and edited by Steve "Sulu" Mallorca himself, along with the rest of the 13-track companion "visual album." A couple Easter eggs Sulu gifted us with: "AntiMatter" features appearances from his long-time P.I.C. bandmates and "brovas," Gary "Un-G" Gabisan & J.K. "J-Bomb" Grey. Actually, I'll just let Sulu take it from here... so, Scroll Down for his take on the newly-minted "AntiMatter" music video. Stay tuned for yet another comprehensive The Witzard/Sulu & Excelsior interview feature either before year's end or early next year. Sulu & Excelsior's THE ANTIMATTER SUITE is now available on Bandcamp directly from "the band," as well as on your digital streaming platform of choice. Steve Mallorca and his other band, P.I.C. will be playing a "short and sweet, gift-wrapped set" this Saturday, December 7, 2020, at The Parkside Lounge with Century Test & Red Datsun.

"The concept was inspired, actually, by this. I live in Uptown Manhattan and there are a lot of musicians in my neighborhood and I've always loved stories of when Jazz musicians back in the day would play gigs [in] Midtown, then, head back home to Harlem and keep the jam going, while people would be cooking late night meals and the party would, basically, just be starting. This woman, Marjorie Eliot, is a Jazz musician and, to me, this Parlor Jazz club is an extension of this, so I wanted to emulate this parlor club/house party vibe, but mix it up with my own experiences of the Filipino family-style party."

- Steve "Sulu" Mallorca (@suluandxlcr)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Night Owls Recruit Durand Jones for Vinyl-only Donny Hathaway "This Christmas" Reggae/Soul Cover (F-Spot/Colemine Records)

Just in time for Christmas, The Night Owls have returned with a new 45 showcasing a festive cover of "This Christmas" with Durand Jones. The Night Owls (or just Night Owls) are drummer Blake Colie, guitarist Dan Ubick, and bassist Dave Wilder of The Lions, along with The Aggrolites' long-time piano/organ player Roger Rivas. Durand Jones is, of course, the frontman and namesake of critically-acclaimed Soul/Funk revival ensemble, Durand Jones & The Indications. Following "There's A Break In The Road" B/W "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" released this past July, Night Owls have re-emerged to bring us a Reggae-tinged version of "This Christmas" first popularized by Donny Hathaway in 1970 for ATCO Records. "A perfect jam to have on deck this holiday season. Side B features an instrumental version, where the Funky and grooving organ stylings of Roger Rivas keep the tune alive to be played on the dance floor [year-round]. Sure to sell out, this 45 is not one to sleep on!" says F-Spot Records owner and founder David Celia.

There were only 500 super-limited edition copies of The Night Owls' "This Christmas" pressed, now split across F-Spot Records, Colemine Records, and various online/brick-and-mortar record stores; supposedly, Colemine Records' stock is already completely SOLD OUT, but a limited number of copies remain available directly from F-Spot Records, as well as said digital/physical retailers. "Happy to have a new take on this incredible tune, 'cause I love, love, love the original so much and hope more people find out about that because of me and Night Owls doing this with Durand," Dan Ubick explains. Night Owls' "This Christmas" Feat. Durand Jones' 7-inch is currently available for pre-order from F-Spot Records with orders expected to start shipping on December 9th with a wide release date of Friday, December 13, 2019. It appears as though Fishbone's Christopher Dowd (@thedowdjones) was recently down in The Lion's Den, as well, to track vocals on what's only been described as "a new Night Owls cover," which Night Owls (@nightowlsreggaesoul) adds "came out great!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Although, by the time you're reading this, please, take note that F-Spot Records' web-store might be completely sold out... However, you're strongly urged to call or email your local record store to see, if they happen to have any copies of The Night Owls Feat. Durand Jones' "This Christmas" coming in on order before the holidays.

Monday, December 2, 2019

PICK IT UP! Ska In The 90's "Ska-cumentary" Narrated By: Tim Armstrong Now Available On DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital & VHS (popmotion Pictures)

Pick It Up! Ska In The 90's, which is being billed as "the definitive Third Wave "Ska-cumentary'" (AKA a Ska documentary) is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital, etc. Whether they're presently aware of it or not, anyone from about the age of about 28-45 should have either vague or vivid memories of Ska/Punk in the 1990's; most people are familiar with either No Doubt, Less Than Jake, The Mighty Might Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, or Rancid/Operation Ivy. 90's Ska is commonly known as Third Wave Ska, following in the traditions of both First Wave Jamaican and British Two-tone/2 Tone Ska through the 80's. For me, personally, I would say one of my earliest memories of Ska was hearing Goldfinger's "Superman" on the in-game soundtrack for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999) which, also, included selections form Dead Kennedys, Primus, Suicidal Tendencies, The Suicide Machines, and The Vandals. Pick It Up! was directed/produced by film-maker Taylor Morden, who has previously created documentaries, Here's to Life: The Story of The Refreshments and The Last Blockbuster, as well as shorts Gotcha, The Pick Up, and Sticker Shock.

Pick It Up! Ska In The 90's features first-hand accounts and commentary throughout from members of No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Rx Bandits, The Pietasters, Fishbone, Save Ferris, Let's Go Bowling, Dance Hall Crashers, The Specials, Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Skankin' Pickle, Hepcat, The Slackers, KEMURI, blink-182/The Aquabats, The Hippos, The Skatalites, Sublime, and many more with narration from Rancid/Operation Ivy frontman Tim Armstrong. I was fortunate enough to recently receive a digital screener of Pick It Up! from Mike Cubillos from Earshot Media and without giving too much away, let me tell you: this is a truly phenomenal documentary, whether you are/were a fan of Ska in the the 1990's or not! Morden and his collaborators tell their stories with so much passion and intensity, which I would assume is why Ska has remained alive and well almost 60 years since its initial conception in Jamaica. Below, you will find a comprehensive 117-song Pick It Up! - Ska In The 90's companion Spotify playlist assembled by film-maker, Taylor Modren. Critically-acclaimed documentary, Pick It Up! Ska In The 90's is now available to own on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital, and super-limited edition VHS. It will, additionally, be screening as part of the Ska Parade 30th Anniversary Tour from January 18-February 1, 2020.