Album Review: Pacanomad's Restless

This Canadian soul/rock band began refining their sound years ago before dropping this labor of love in July. Formed by guitarist Nick Cifaldi and singer Chantel Rivard,  Pacanomad became the fully realized songwriting machine after employing the rhythm section of drummer Zack Stewart and  bassist Dave Bell. Their debut kicks off with as strong blues groove that is not unlike the early days of the Black Crowes. The lusty alto Rivard is overflowing with the soul to balance the scales and keep them from being just another rock band. At times this is executed in a similar manner to  Maroon 5's middle road , the big difference being is that these guys are way more organic. They don't rely on  the over produced radio sound. The band has captured a warm sound ,  harkening back to the type of production that Brendan O Brian made popular  in the 90's with artists like Pearl Jam.

The band can  blend with different styles while maintaining there own sound. They start to shift into  a more retro 70's soul sound but retain rock drive. Their singer's voice has the punch to push the melodies in your face and shove the hooks into your mind. Delicately thoughtful guitar sets the tone for the title track. This gives the  vocals room to play with. Rivard uses this space to form melodies with a greater se depth and dynamics.  It's like a  modern rock version of what Amy Winehouse or the artists that sprung up after her death such as Adelle, have done with 60's girl group soul.

"Tell Me Not to Doubt" follows a similar formula , but with more groove injected into it, resulting in something closer to what Bonnie Raitt might do.  The rhythm section of drummer Zack Stewart and and bassist Dave Bell  shine and Stewart really nails the point home that  While there is no question  t that a band is only as good as there drummer. He can go from rock to the pop inflected reggae undercurrent  of "Till it's Mine". This element is enough to for Rivard to  twist her phrasing and show the Gwen Stefani influence that is keep in the closet up until this point. Their punchiest rock moment comes at the build up of this song which is a fitting way to close out the album. For a debut this is really strong effort, the bands strength lies in a balanced display of chops and memorable songwriting. They are still defining who they are, but have a pretty solid foundation laid out to do this as they know where rock music started. So with this knowledge of where they came from, there is no limit to where they might go in the future. If soulfully organic rock is your thing, then you will get hooked in no time and find yourself looking forward to where they might go from here.

Picking Up the Slack for Mtv - Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson - Turtles All The Way Down

Hailing from Jackson, Kentucky Sturgill Simpson's music is roots country with a touch of stoner rock n' roll. This philosophical tune below reminds me of Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds and Jamey Johnson's High Cost of Living. There's not much to his video for his song Turtles All The Way Down, but it is slightly psychedelic and is likely best watched in states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon - if you get my drift...
Another great tune of his that brings to mind Kenny Powers or maybe The Big Lebowski is You Can Have the Crown. It's about a man who can't seem to get it together and makes use of some great Southern colloquialisms.

Tonight: Pallbearer

One album that is sure to be on most best of 2014 lists is Pallbearer's "Foundations of Burden" that saw the band building a lusher landscape to their take on doom. Often labelled "funereal doom" the the darker more exquisite side of the doom genre, that often allows it self more room for melody and experimentation than the more traditional take on the genre which is often no more than black Sabbath worship. Pallbearer has even blazed new trails of pot smoke with their newest release that find the band at times even bordering on shoe gaze due to the level of ambiance at atmospherics, yet the songs have more groove and movement to them than their break through debut "Sorrow and Extinction" that already thrust the band ahead of it's peers. A full review of the album can be found here.

The other reason this is one of the shows not to miss this years , is openers are New York black metal trio Tombs, who like Pallbearer are innovators in their respective genre to the point of the label being perhaps a bit too snug these days.

a full review of their latest 'Savage Gold' can be found here.

and also on the bill is Vattnet Viskar A BAND WHOSE "Sky Swallower" album is impressive in it's own right. So three awesome bands means your Halloween party can continue on tonight at the Earl.

November 1, 2014
doors open at 8:00pm
Tombs | Vattnet Viskar

Interview with Artist David Van Gough

It was after coming across the "Serial Killer Culture"documentary on Netflix, that I discovered the amazing art of David Van Gough who was featured in the film for a series of paintings he did based of the Murder of Sharon Tate. While other artists who appeared in the film merely paid morbidly endearing homage to various serial killers David's work explored deeper esoteric truths that resonated with me in a way only the art of Mark Ryden and Alex Grey have. So it's an honor to have Mr. Van Gough take the take to do this interview with me .

Wil : How has the response to your work changed since your appearance in the Serial Killer Culture Documentary? 

David ...It's definitely gotten me more exposure, which has been a massive integral shift for me. I'll tell you something that a lot of people don't know, but two years ago, I crashed pretty hard after I did the Man/son show. I was mired in all the usual self pity bullshit of post show blues, and I was coming up to my forty fifth Birthday with the notion that I was completely cast adrift as an artist. The show had gotten one glowing review in a small independent blog- but largely it had been unrecognized by the 'scene', and so it became more and more apparent to me that the arbiters of the Art mainstream could give a flying monkeys arse about what I did, regardless.

So Purgatorium was going to be my very final show, which was why I used the arc of Tempest -you know, the alchemist Prospero exiled on an island, breaking his staff over his knee at the end of the story, and I know it all sounds very melodramatic, but that was going to be it, one last blast, a bitter retort of crashing my plane so to speak.

 And then the week I was away in San Francisco preparing for the new show, Serial Killer Culture hit Netflix, and my inbox literally blew up with book orders, and hundreds of emails, and they were all wonderful and supportive, personal snapshots of peoples lives who connected directly with what I was doing, and so it was hugely vindicating, and polarized absolutely in my mind that I have a place in the mire, that my work exists as a cognitive forces  in peoples lives, and it doesn't depend on whether I am acknowledged by an elite magazine or whatever.

Wil : When you saw the final edited version of the film what were your initial feelings in regards to your segment?

David ...More Vaseline on the lens next time John.

Actually,it was better than I'd hoped-I was desperately hungover-and worried I'd had a tendency to waffle, but what you see in the end is condensed from takes of a three hour conversation and I think that is were John Borowski should get full credit as a director, because in the chasm of information I unloaded,  he managed to find the kernel of what I was saying and encapsulate it to around twenty minutes.

 If only it had been fifteen Mr Warhol.

Wil: What music do you find most inspiring to your work?

 David ... It's very much judged by the moment. For instance I listened none stop to the White Album-particularly Revolution 9 when I was producing the Man/son series. Try doing that when its a 109 degrees with Charlie's voice in your head , it will send you doolally.

I listen to a lot of other  things-lot of classical music or Electronica, but probably cap it to a period no later than around 1979-1980 for some reason. Maybe there's some kind of mercurial static coming through the grooves that embodies the end of something innate that was lost after that. Or maybe it  just resonates, because a lot of it is what I was listening to as a teenager. I mean, anyone who knows me, knows I am going on a thirty year love affair with Bowie's music, so I did listen to 'The Next Day'-particularly the title track a lot whilst I produced the last series.  It was so venomous.

Wil : Of all the artists in the Serial Killer Culture Documentary, the whole true crime element , even in your Manson series, seemed to be secondary to the occult influences, what this intentional ?

 David...Absolutely, it's that thing again that speaks of a certain period, and the 70's-when I first became aware of Manson and Sharon Tate- was steeped in occultism. There's this whole school of thought that I've recently discovered called Hauntology, but it embodies all of influences that were around then, and maybe it was a hangover from the 60's, Leary's open doors of perception and all that, but it was this cultural dilution of esoteric ideas through media, so what you got were kids TV shows on the BBC like Children of the Stones, or a double page spread on Exorcisms in the News of the World. It was all this latent, heavy stuff that I was exposed to, that sent me on a path of study, so when I approached the Manson case as a series, it was all going to be from the ritualistic standpoint. Of course, its only when you sit down and research that particular case, that you unravel all kinds of occult threads of dark intent.

Wil : You have said you that aside from surrealism you identify most closely with the Necrorealism movement that came out of Russia in the 70's , but rather than exploring the pyschopathological , aspect you look at spiritual side of death, how did your exposure to Catholicism growing up influence this ? 

David... In the most fundamental way. Catholicism-or any religious institutionalization for that matter is just ritualizing the cult of death on a orthodox level,but in the bitter end, it's all just candy coating, the beautification of decay, the celestial grandification of oblivion. I lay a lot of the blame for my spiritual hangup at the door of things I experienced each ;as a child; the effigies of a bloodied Christ hanging like butchers meat or the medieval tapestries ensuring hellfire, it's this po-faced Renaissance ideal promising divine sacraments and absolution in the face of absolute horror- that is the true kiss of death.

 Wil : Both the Hammer  Films and Polanski's horror movies  seem to set the stage for people to feeling more comfortable in exploring sexuality in the context of horror films, than in the traditional sense which has been just as demonized as Horror in the States. How do you see that side of sensuality expressed in your work? 

Good question, I think with my own work, I am just following that very European tradition of sex and death, the clash between Eros and Thanatos. So with something like the Man/son series, it began with my desire to cast Sharon Tate as the ultimate tragic muse,and to me her burgeoning sensuality became part of this purification process that had happened because of her murder, into a mythological chaste Madonna figure. It was such a dichotomy in the media, and I get a sense of the same thing happening in Horror- particularly with slasher movies-because the proliferation of killing women is at the core-seems to me a very misogynistic device to cast female sexuality as profane.

 Wil :  One of the themes to your works looks to be the juxtaposition of horror and beauty, which side of the equation do you feel is the most natural to convey? 

David ...For me, one is not exclusive of the other. By that I mean that I think it's a very normal and natural human response to look at a beautiful scene, stand by a lake or whatever,  and feel a prevailing sense of  mournful melancholy that the moment is transient and that the shadow of mortality is nestling under a damp log somewhere. The end of beauty is the true horror, because in essence,the need to attain beauty is an eternal aspiration in us all.

Wil :With the Thelemic Star in Helter Skelter and the use of Nuit, how else has the exploration of the Golden Dawn/O.t.O influenced your work?

David ...Since the tendrils of research for the Man/son showcase, led right back to the feet of Madam Blavatsky, I suppose it was inevitable that I would appropriate some of the emblems inherent with Theosophy, and in doing so I'm using sacred motifs and symbols which the O.T.O  adopted for their own nefarious ends, but I wouldn't say that it goes beyond that, and I mean the alchemical texts and pictogram's from something like the Splendor Solaris resonate much more as an influence overall.

That said, I did refer to the beautiful illustrations from the Thoth deck on the last series, and I even fashioned one of the new pieces-'Poor worm, thou Art infected' with the spirit of Crowley,Craddock and sex magick in mind.

Will : I have always felt creating art in any form is one of the most genuine majickal expressions, do you feel it has a meditative or spiritual quality for you ? and if that's the case Why do you think the arts are being phased out schools if they could help children on a deeper level?

David ...Most definitely, and I agree,it is my spiritual epicenter, the apex of my entire being. I believe Art-at least in a certain figurative form- is like a majickal incantation, a kind of aesthetic, grand eloquence or self actualization. On a broader cultural scale, I think it has the same foundation for society-it is the reflection by which we measure ourselves, it's the context of our aspirations and the parable of our endurance- Art elevates a space and affects on a deep subterranean level much in the same way the weather or the color of a room does.

If Art then can be and do all of these things, why isn't fundamentally part of the school curriculum?

Put another way, why wouldn't a Corporately invested government body want to foster a generation of independent thinkers with the capacity for expanded consciousness? I  don't believe it takes basic Algebra to figure that one out.

Will : There has always been an interest in the shadow side of the spiritual expression and it seems to go reflect the direction society is headed at the time in the 80's and early 90's the Church of Satan saw a resurgence as we were showy and indulgent,  this was followed by the more reflective Kabbalah boom and several mass marketed new age trends, but it seems Crowley is having a resurgence what do you think this says about the path the world is now ? 

David ...
I don't see it as some turn into a great moral abyss, as some would have us believe, I just see it as a fundamental spiritual need to fill the ever widening hole of questioning, that Orthodox religion cannot, because ultimately religious doctrine is archaic and accommodates so little of twenty first century thinking. Perhaps there is a similar angst or revolutionary idealism that what was prevalent during the late 60's, when Crowley was last in fashion, but I don't sense the same spirit of those times, I feel its a lot more apathetic and possibly just window dressing.

Wil : What new projects are in the works for you that we should  keep an eye out for ? 

David ...
Well I just opened up a new studio at La Bodega gallery here in San Diego, and I'm seeing if I want to expand upon Purgatorium as a sort of secondary exhibit or if the new works might be something entirely different.

There will certainly be a book of the series though-a hardback volume with annotations and unseen sketches for sure, and then maybe another book which is more research based, a continuation of the study I started on the Man/son series expounding the whole theory of sinister architecture.   Oh, and there may also be a graphic novel tying up something I started twenty years ago, but we'll see about that one.

Wil : Thank you for your time, your work immediately resonated with me and it's an honor to be able to have this chance to get your insights into it.

...My pleasure Wil, it's so integral that there are forums like this one that are counter point to the quagmire.

Album Review: Naked Tunes by Leonino

Jorge Gonzales  Los Prisioneros,  are the biggest Chilean of time . So this new project Leonino by their singer Jorge Gonzales deserved to be noticed. Despite his background this album is not "world music" by any means the opening track "I Think We Should Be Friends" might catch you by surprise if you are not familiar with his work as it sounds like many of the  new wave artists who adapted to change with the times, once their 80's hey days faded,  Joe Jackson being the first  of these that comes to mind . He morphs slightly from song to song going for a more soulful approach on "Don't Change Your Mind." Sometimes he opts for a minimal approach, than at other he employs an  odd array of organic instruments like harmonica in his work.

 At his more upbeat moments "My Time is Gonna Come" he touches a surreal contemplative pop tapestry not unlike "Sign O the Times" era Prince, though he never takes the kinda of dark skepticism of the human condition that the Purple one did. Perhaps the fact English is not his first language hinders the depth of lyrical content, but he sings it with enough conviction to make up for this fact. From a production stand point it's what you would expect from some one who has sold over 2 million albums. The vocal layering is pretty close to perfect . As far a pop singers go his pipes get the job done. Jorge never over does it with melodramatic trills. The albums other strong point is Jorge's ability to switch gears and do the unexpected, once you think you have him figured out he throws pretty country elements.

Aside from Prince another surprising influence I detected is John Lennon, as "Not a Sound" has an in electronic back drop, as if Lennon was trying his hand at Kraut rock. He gets by with a little help from his friends, with Marino Scopel lending vocals and  Argenis Brito lends his talents to another t track as well. The first hint of Latin flavors simmer up on the  ballad "It Wasn't Mean to Me". His influences converge as it sounds a jam session with   Prince sitting in with the Plastic Ono band. The other Lennon element is how he gives the songs room to breath like John's post-Beatles work. The Latin swing returns on "Down By the River" though the lyrics feel like they are lifted from any one of a hundred 90's slow jams.Where he really grabs my attention is on "There is a Light" that closes out the album. His vocals capture the album's title "Naked Tunes" as the song strips it down to just the layers of his voice bared in beautiful harmony. This is not unlike something Imogen Heap might have pulled off in her earlier work.

 Something here is working for Jorge  if he consistently brings to mind greats like Prince and Lennon. He possess a similar ear to those two when it comes to arrangements and how to place the sounds on this record. Prince is a perfectionist so that might tell you how  good this album sounds. After three decades of work , the  experience paid off on this album. This is fun quirky pop for those who ,so if appreciate  the likes of  Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello or Bryan Ferry's solo work, you can't say he really sounds like any of them ,but his music comes from a similar place and worth checking out.

Album of the Week: RxGf's "Any Other Way"

"Any Other Way" is the 3rd album from John Morgan Reilly's  Seattle based project.  RxGF or "Radioactive X Girlfriend". This album benefits from a collaboration Reilly formed with  20 year old vocalist Angeline Schaaf in 2013. She carries a charisma to her voice that keeps her from being just another  Siouxsie impersonator. Schaaf  combines the influence of darker singers from the 80's and 90's, that is not limited to Siouxsie, but includes the whole post - Nine Inch Nails  industrial pop movement. She leans more toward smart pop hooks than grit , and is not caught in a time warp but seems very aware of what's going on in pop radio.

 At times electronic elements come across like  A Perfect Circle re-mixes, but their guitar sound saves the day with the  perfect blend of effects. The fuzzed out bass lines that crop up from time to time also help add to the sound.They touch of the sleeze of   Lords Of Acid  on "Flesh and Bone", Schaaf's vocal persona expands to include the sultry drug pout of Lady Gaga in her more pop moments. Then there are the quick bursts of male vocals  more akin to Mindless Self Indulgence.

They sometimes indulge in pop bombast to it , but more like if  Kmfdm tired to pull off  the weird anime influenced pop that's so huge in Japan. The beats sometimes carry a pulse  similar to Bjork's "Army of Me". The Lady Gaga feel returns on "Tombstone Soiree". This is where Schaaf flirts with the New Orleans swing of Concrete Blonde in the way the melody flows "Never Felt So Good" dips into Massive Attack like trip hop. The layered vocals she uses here is effective since  she uses this effect sparingly. The backing vocals on this song remind me of Madonna's"Justify My Love". The song goes into an almost kraut rock exploration, simmering over the surface of the moon like the soundtrack to a lunar landing.  As they wander  over the five minute mark it allows them to broaden the expanse of sound to allow for more experimental use of samples. "The Dying Grace of Machines" is a piece of  weird plastic techno that sounds like if Aqua wrote a song for the Blade Runner sound track. The male vocals here come across more Thomas Dolby than industrial.  Dynamically the song builds into something more akin Nine inch Nails synth heavy work.

 They drop into the more organic  "The Hit". Allowing the male vocals return, with a wink to  "Mechanical Animals" era Marilyn Manson . When ever these male vocals pop up you can't help but wonder if this song would not be more intresting if we got to hear  Schaaf's interpretation of them .It not that his  melodies don't eventually  find it's way, it's  that there is a sneaking feeling her apporach might be what really makes the song.  The album kinda of ives off the deep end. The plunge is lead by "Things that go bang " a sample driven techno piece, where the heavy handed  political approach, is shoved down your throat in a manner that  Ministry obviously set the bar for. The synths continue to take the  quirky androids on parade .  Marching to beats that are a simple hammering, not unlike the more "Army of Me" styled beats  employed earlier on, but work better with the driving nature of this song.Some of these more experimental moments would sit better interspersed among the album's poppier , and help retain the album's focus. "Kontrollier Die Kontrollierenden" continues using the males vocals, it's like Rammenstein in a higher register. Lyrically it's more interesting to hear them rage against the machine, but the delivery comes across like Roger Waters collaborating with Jonathan Davis of Korn.

 The instrumentally dominated dance  trend continues with "Flow". Interesting sounds offset on another without adhering to any kind of  structure , but isn't that the nature of dance music  flow like the waves, so it lives up to it's title.  The album closes with a re-mix of one of the bands earlier singles "Belladonna Dream". the song is surprisingly gentle and airy. Almost like a Sarah Mclaughlin song, in the way it falls back into it self. This album hits more than it misses,  they work best when in falling into the same  neighborhood as KMFDM's more light hearted moments.  Schaaf 's songs are the album's strongest moments, but the album has it's heart in the right place and look forward to hearing what Reilly and Schaaf's partnership brings, as it sounds as if their best work is yet to come,  but in the meantime enjoy where they are at.

Album Review: Dimestore Prophets' "Be Yourself"

It makes sense this album came out in April , as it is almost to upbeat for October , but if you are missing the lazy summer days getting blazed then here is a perfect soundtrack to romance those times. From Moses Lake, Washington the band has been honing their chops on the college circut of the Pacific Northwest  having played over two hundred shows in the  past three and half years , which found the band opening  for The Verve Pipe and Indubious.

This three piece does draw from reggae, but they are not a reggae band. They have collected a variety of influences on the road, and fall some where in between the 420 friendly jam band movement and alternative rock of the 90's, not the grunge scene , but more middle of the road act like Blues Traveller and the Spin Doctors, that are the guilty pleasures of people who grew up in that decade. The kind of Hacky sack rock, that adorns festivals everywhere, just a shader lighter than say Dispatch. They find grit in a passage or two , but the songs return to the sugary melodies their pop inflected singer tends to adhere to. Even when a Hammond organ bubbles up from a songs like "Good Lovin"  to great an almost Black Crowes  like feel,  singer Ray Glover's addiction of pop stylized hooks , comes across more like Jason Mraz. The drummer and bassist are pretty impressive in the manner they bring a much larger rambling sound to these simplistic songs. Glover also starts throwing in some sparse soloing, he has a really good tone on his lead channel, for what these guys are doing. The guitars on the album are largely strummed acoustics, the electric guitar is more of an accent. When the chill out into a slower pace it feels like Jimmy Buffet or Zac Brown.

As the album progresses the reggae influence creeps out more, but it also bears some pop country elements.If these guys had grown up in Venice Beach or South Beach, the reggae element might be more convincing. "Sunny Day" is the closest these guys come to playing authentic reggae, the are still a few blunts short of Sublime or even the Police. Though some of the punches that come up mid way into "Sunny Day" would not be out of place on "40 oz to Freedom".The album sounds good from a production standpoint. Ben Smith at Synergy Studios in Seattle certainly did these guys a solid and captured some really crisp organic sounds.

This is the kind of band that any one who knows them is going to tell you "the albums don't do them justice, you really have to check them out live." in this case even  I have a feeling it's true. Musician's old adage  to always serve the song is a cruel master at times for Dimestore Prophets . They are  better musicians than they are a song writers. They do a dis service to themselves to not make the most of this fact, hell bands like Widespread Panic have been milking that sort of thing for decades now, and to some extent the same could be said about the Allman Brothers .  Confining themselves to three and four minute songs is losing a lot  in translation. Not saying these are  bad songs, it just seems if they need  to cut loose and jam out more in the studio. After the kind of  mileage they have clocked in on the road it seems a shame to miss out on what they have learned. If you want fun easy going and stoner friendly pop you have come to the right place.