Thursday, June 7, 2018

SUNNY SKIES WITH APPROACHING CLOUDS: "BEES OF THE INVISIBLE" GENTLE BRONTOSAURUS

"BEES OF THE INVISIBLE"
GENTLE BRONTOSAURUS 

GENTLE BRONTOSAURUS are
Huan-Hua Chye: Vocals, Ukulele, Keyboards
Nick Davies: Vocals, Keyboards, Trumpet
Cal Lamore: Guitars
Paul Marcou: Drums, Percussion
Anneliese Valdes: Bass Guitar, Saxophone, Baritone Horn, Trumpet, Backing Vocals

All Music and Lyrics by Gentle Brontosaurus

Mastered by Carl Saff
Art by Michael Sambar
Engineered and Mixed by Cal Lamore

Released May 12, 2018

Dear readers and listeners, at this time, I am wondering if any of you tend to match certain musical genres or artists to specific seasons of the year.

For me, during the Fall and Winter months, my musical choices may turn towards songs that lean into more electronic territories, or selections that prove themselves to be more synthetic to varying degrees and definitely more atmospheric, therefore matching tone and mood with the darkening skies earlier and earlier in the afternoons. The Summer months you would not be surprised to find me listening to more languid, lengthier tunes, specifically prog rock or extended soul and funk selections, songs that tend to stretch out just as the days themselves are lengthening and the temperatures grow increasingly hotter.

Yet for the months that make up Spring, my synesthesia tends to receive a workout as I am seeking songs whose melodies luxuriously demand color after the grayness of Winter. Spring means pop songs, pop songs and even more pop songs, music that seemingly wills the warmth of the season back into fruition and the colors of nature into full view. For me, bring on Badfinger, Dwight Twilley and Big Star. Give me The Anniversary. Spoil me with The Pursuit Of Happiness and Sloan. Grace me with late period XTC!!! I think you get the picture.

The pop songs that I love during the Spring are the ones that inspire you to open the windows, either of your homes or your car, and all for the sole purpose of allowing such songs the ample air and space to travel as widely and as far as possible, bringing the colors of the world back to life alongside the warmth of the sun.

At this time, I wish to turn your attention to a new release that provides precisely what I have been explaining and extolling to all of you. The band in question is the Madison, WI based quintet named Gentle Brontosaurus and I am terribly excited to point you towards their second album, entitled "Bees Of The Invisible," a release that sounds and feels like the season of Spring itself has been magically weaved into this jaunty, ebullient, instantly affectionate collection of 12 indie power pop tunes.

With an overall sound that often suggests the alt-pop music of Rilo Kiley or 10,000 Maniacs, Gentle Brontosaurus conjures up visions of those nice kids down the street, writing and playing away in a neighbor's garage, a la The Partridge Family. The songs jangle happily, with rhythms and melodies that will enthusiastically invite you to sing along and certainly, the band's instrumentation, which includes brass and ukulele, sweetens the deal with delightful dollops of twee.

But even so, with even the best Spring days, clouds can always arrive and in regards to the songs of  Gentle Brontosaurus, thee are darker, more turbulent emotions bubbling under the shiny surfaces of their idiosyncratic pop sheen, making for an album experience that is eager to dance with you as it quietly disturbs, unsettles and at times, breaks your heart.

With the inviting bounce of band member/lead singer Huan-Hua Chye's ukulele and augmented by trumpet fanfares Gentle Brontosaurus' "Bees Of The Invisible" opens with "Morgan," a song that sonically sounds like a child skipping down the sidewalk so lightly that blissful zero gravity might be achieved. Yet, it is within the song's lyrics that a troubling weight reveals itself. In fact, the lyrics almost sound as if they emerged from a gritty blues song.

"If I could measure the distance between your fingers and mine
Maybe my stuttering fingers would start to march in time
I'd ride to the crossroads and throw off my long coat
Bargain with whoever would have me
Deal with the devil or give up the worn soles of my dancing shoes 
Tell the whole world what I'm looking to lose..."

The tricky juxtaposition of sounds and moods builds with "The Hedonist," a selection where the guitars and New Wave styled keyboards achieve a hula hoop hip swaying groove but is in actuality a first person character study of the self-described titular figure who matter-of-factually proclaims that "Poison for my body is like food for my soul" and how "Whiskey drink, velvet clothes, sex, sleep and food/Chase away the ticking clock and the existential blues," all the while delivered via Huan-Hua Chye and Anneliese Valdes' cheerfully warm, inviting, and again, sing-a-long vocals.

The astounding "track1.mp3" is easily one of the album's highest standouts. Nick Davies takes over the lead vocals, while Chye and Valdes coo behind him, in a selection about a music fan who falls hopelessly in love with the previously unknown voice and song of a soon to be discovered long deceased artist.

Containing a palate that suggests Modern English's "I Melt With You" merged with The Who's "Pictures Of Lily," the song is a glorious tribute to the ephemeral power of music, especially when it transcends time, space, life and death. And just so the tune remains grounded and not esoteric, I particularly loved how the song's narrator occasionally attempts to downplay or even sidestep his rapturous affection by asserting that "It might not be a brilliant song," only to find himself unable to stop himself from expressing his devotion by admitting the following: "I put you on all my playlists and my mixtapes... you'll live on in a file on a flash drive/Or a Russian pirate site/Until the DMCA/Makes them take it down/They'll never find you/Up there in the cloud/track1.mp3" Absolutely terrific!!!

The rapid momentum of the album accelerates even more with the percussive tale of envy, "A Shot," where this song's narrator, as voiced by Chye, incredulously views the nose to the grindstone determination and drive of an acquaintance to leave their small town for greener pastures while she remains behind, wholly unsure, and possibly even unable to discover the same motivation within herself. As Gentle Brontosaurus accelerates and builds the tension, as augmented by percolating bongos and rising trumpet blasts, "Bees Of The Invisible" soon settles into a mid album daydream..albeit one that is not quite as pleasant as it may first sound.

Davies returns to the lead vocals on "For Emma," a grim lullaby depicting the raucous odyssey of a woman who was "never well behaved." Upon some investigation on my part as the song makes references to Proust, imprisonment and the critical location of Sach's Cafe, I am wondering if the band in indeed detailing the story of the anarchist political activist and writer Emma Goldman, who passed away in 1940 and was a crucial force in the rise of anarchistic philosophy in the early 20th century.  Yes, I could reach out and ask the band but I think I'd like to sit with this for a while as I like the idea of a song that presents itself so quietly in effect being about something so seismic and turbulent.

Even moreso, is the nearly six minute surreal suite "The World's On Fire." With Chye on lead vocals once more, I found myself, of all things, thinking about Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" (2011) as this song utilizes its deliberate pacing, lyrics and musical sections to possibly describe, either separately or concurrently, the end of a relationship or a descent into depression or even the end of existence itself. "Shield your eyes/The world's on fire," Chye repeats throughout, each time eliciting gradually increasing feelings of doom and ultimately apocalyptic finality.

Once the dust settles, Gentle Brontosaurus brings out their dancing shoes and picks up the pace once again with the infectious herky-jerky rhythms of "My Ultimate Form," a celebratory song of emergence and the shedding of a former skin for a newer, better existence. The trumpet fueled dance party of "Wicker Park," serves up the unapologetically joyous ode to a messy abode, a ditty that reminded me of the deceptively peppy bounce of 10,000 Maniacs' "Candy Everybody Wants."

The album's final third opens with "Pull The Van Around," a Nick Davies sung track about "A gracious, patient friend" who remain forever steadfast when he should clearly just walk away and not look back. The travails of a struggling young actress arrives in the clever short story "The 8th Degree Of Kevin Bacon" while the self-explanatory "Jerkface," complete with its African rhythm influenced by way of Paul Simon's literary pop, unveils the full admonishment of a boorish office worker.

"Bees Of The Invisible" draws to a close with an epic finale, and in actuality, the one song where the musicality and lyrical content feel to be in lockstep--essentially the band's "A Day In The Life," a song to work as a counterpoint to the frothy sounds that had arrived before. "Hobo Signs In The Liner Notes" unquestionably places a creepy period to the album's conclusion as the band explores unhealthy to potentially and progressively terrifying celebrity obsessions.

"I saw you on that TV show
And you looked into my eyes
I saw you wore that red jacket
The one you know I like...

...In the basement of the thrift shop
I found a letter with my name
Well, I know you're out there
And I'll wait...

...I saw you in that magazine
Morse code kerning spelled out my name
I understood what you meant there
We are the same
We are the same..."

The growing, unsettling tension of  "Hobo Signs In The Liner Notes" makes for a song that, to my ears, has found a certain similar thematic space to tracks like The Carpenters' "Superstar" and Eminem's "Stan" to even elements from films like Robert Altman's "Nashville" (1975) and definitely real world tragedies, most notably John Lennon's assassination on December 8, 1980. 

And yet...there is something that is inexplicably warm about the song, with Chye's vocals, her finest on the album, weaving a sound that is almost wistful, to Cal Lamore's lyrically climactic guitar solo, and the elegiac wash of organ and keyboards that are as lush as a setting sun. All of those qualities allows the song, which could have solely existed as a song of increasing menace, to simultaneously serve as something akin to Fountains Of Wayne's heartbreaking "Hackensack" tossed in for good measure. Gentle Brontosaurus certainly saved the best for last with this track, a song where all five members dug deeper, reached higher and grabbed tighter in a song that congealed a variety of emotions and moods to a seemingly effortless degree. And believe me, hearing Chye sing the words "I'll wait" repeatedly, provided the album with the perfect grace note on which to conclude.

Gentle Brontosaurus' "Bees Of The Invisible" is a first rate slice of expertly conceived and delivered pop, the kind of which that would easily elevate the perceptions of what pop music could actually be to larger audiences should they find the avenues to even hear something as strong, yet as left of center, as this release. It is an exceedingly well crafted group of songs, performed with a jubilant energy (most especially, Huan-Hua Chye's lead vocals, which keep reminding me of the certain tone and timbre of Natalie Merchant) that connects instantly and most certainly rewards repeat listenings where for me, I have been so excited to hear new flourishes each time.

In fact, as I have now heard "Bees Of The Invisible" several times, I wish to extend my thoughts about how the music feels perfect for a Spring day. To me, this beautifully sequenced album sounds as if the musical flow could conceptually occur over the course of a Spring day, with the first four songs representing a glorious sunrise and early morning, all leading to that middle of the day dreamy haze, the late afternoon rejuvenation to the eventual, and sometimes melancholy sunset. Only the members of the band know for certain if something like this was part of their original intent or not. But even so, I find it fun and fruitful to have been this inspired as I listen.

That is a testament to the craft and skill on display throughout as Gentle Brontosaurus proves that pop music need not be forgettable. Pop music at its best is unquestionably artistic and it is also not nearly as easy as it may sound to create. Yet for Gentle Brontosaurus, they make every song feel as clear and as easy as the Spring breezes upon your faces. 

In regards to their contemporaries within the Madison music community, from Skyline Sounds to Anna Wang to Slow Pulp and the now defunct Modern Mod, Gentle Brontosaurus has achieved their artistic success in the same fashion: by understanding that the song is the star and any potential egos need to be brushed aside entirely in order to fully serve the song. In doing so, for this album, there is not one wasted moment or even one song that is not deserving of your attention and affection.

Gentle Brontosaurus' "Bees Of The Invisible" is the sort of pop music that inspires images of sun drenched garden parties, vibrant, multi-colored balloons and sticky sweet bubble gum, swirling polka dot dresses, gloriously fizzy lemonade and bouncing beachballs. It is an album that you would desire to wrap your arms around it and deliver a powerful embrace.

But watch out, there are some compellingly hidden spikes inside!

Friday, June 1, 2018

WSPC SESSION NOTES JUNE 2018: THE 7TH ANNUAL BLACK MUSIC MONTH CELEBRATION

FROM THE DJ'S STUDIO DESK:

7 years.

You know, when I look at that amount of time and give myself pause to really think about it, I feel so proud. Not in a self-congratulatory sense of pride. I think it is more that it is something that has felt to be so positive for my personal spirit and my relationship with my heritage as well as with the music itself.

Black Music Month is a time where we are all invited to celebrate the Black musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and artistic visionaries from around the world who have graced our individualized and collective worlds with their artistry over time and space It is a period of discovery and education, as well as obvious entertainment, for music exists for our spirits and bodies to be moved and through the enjoyment, our selves work in communion with the works of these artists who were possessed with the gift to create and the bravery and generosity to share.

As always, the content upon Synesthesia will most likely not strictly follow the Black Music Month celebration, as it is something I will partially utilize my Savage Radio program on WVMO-FM and mostly via my Facebook page and You Tube feeds in creating daily playlists that one may choose to experience. By the end of the month, what will have been amassed is the complete curation of a month's work of music spanning genres, styles, decades and generations, all of which hopefully illustrates just a piece of the scope and breadth of what Black musical artists have delivered to all of us.

7 years.

With each year, there are moments usually at the very beginning of the celebration where I feel simultaneous bouts of excitement and a bit of trepidation, as I do not wish to simply re-hash anything I have picked from the past 6 years. Of course, there will be some repeats of songs and cherished artists. Yes, I do hope to have each Saturday morning serve as commemorations of "Soul Train," just as I experienced the television program in my childhood growing up in the Chicago, IL of the 1970's and 1980's.

But mostly, I do wish to challenge myself. To find the artists that I have not previously played or artists that I am completely unfamiliar with, in the hopes of further expanding my palate, knowledge and appreciation. No easy feat but one that I wish to have fun with, and I hope that the fun I am having translates to you.

Black Music Month is about community to me. The community of my African-American heritage unquestionably. But, the community I am speaking of just as importantly (if not even a tad moreso), it is the community that we share collectively as human beings. So much can be learned and experienced solely though the music and  honestly, how much better off we would be if we just took the time to understand each other, even just a little bit more than we had previously, if at all.

Yes, I know. It may sound too terribly simplistic to think that a month's worth of music will accomplish any sense of healing and understanding between the races while having the music of love, peace, and soul as our soundtrack. But...you know...stranger things have happened and at t his stage in the game, I think we need all of the help that we can receive.

So, with that, let's all jump into this 7th year together and let this experience be whatever it shall be...and of course, as you listen...PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!

7 years, y'all...7 years!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

WSPC PLAYLIST MAY 2018

May 1, 2018
"Deja Vu" performed by Roger Waters
"Just Dumb Enough To Try" performed by Father John Misty-WSPC PREMIERE
"Living With Myself" performed by Jonathan Wilson-WSPC PREMIERE
"Catch My Breath" performed by Elise Trouw
"Dream Brother" (live) performed by Jeff Buckley

May 3, 2018
"Middle Man" performed by Living Colour
"One Big Mob" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"The Past Recedes" performed by John Frusciante
"La Villa Strangiato" (live 1978) performed by Rush
"Song Of The Wind" (live) performed by Santana

May 4, 2018
"Hatfield 1980" performed by Everything But The Girl
"Sketches Of Pain" performed by Tears For Fears
"Smooth Operator" performed by Meshell Nedegeocello-WSPC PREMIERE
"Finding Peace Of Mind" (live) performed by Kainalu
"Ohio" (live Boston 1971) performed by Crosby Stills Nash & Young

May 6, 2018
"This Is America" performed by Childish Gambino-WSPC PREMIERE
"Burn" (live looping version) performed by Elise Trouw

"Saturday" (from "Saturday Night Live") performed by Childish Gambino-WSPC PREMIERE

May 7, 2018
"Manic Monday" performed by The Bangles
"Feel Like Makin' Love" performed by D'Angelo
"Love Song" (live at the Variety Playhouse) performed by Sara Bareilles

"Juicy Socks" performed by Cherry Glazerr-WSPC PREMIERE
"Starla" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins

May 8, 2018
"Soaring and Boring" performed by Plush
"I Zimbra" performed by Talking Heads
"Pleasure Dome" performed by Van Halen
"Children Of The  Ghetto" performed by Phillip Bailey
"I Believe (When I Fall In Love)" performed by Stevie Wonder

May 9, 2018
"Faced To Face Me" performed by Skyline Sounds
"Transplanting" performed by Skyline Sounds

May 10, 2018
"Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" performed by The Monkees
"Tomorrow Comes Today" performed by Gorillaz
"Tomorrow" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
"Tomorrow" performed by Joe Walsh
"A Better Tomorrow" performed by Wu Tang Clan

HAPPY 30TH ANNIVERSARY TO PRINCE'S "LOVESEXY"
"Glam Slam"
"I Wish U Heaven"
"Alphabet St."

May 11, 2018
"It's Enough" performed by Lenny Kravitz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Hi Hello" performed by Johnny Marr-WSPC PREMIERE

Khruangbin LIVE Pitchfork set!!!

May 12, 2018
"Congratulations" performed by  Cliff Richard
"Good Times" performed by Chic
"Get Lucky" performed by Daft Punk
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" performed by Michael Jackson
"Congratulations" performed by MGMT

May 13, 2018
"Mama" performed by Lunch Money Lewis
"Make Your Mama Happy" performed by Prince
"Hey Mama" performed by Kanye West
"Dear Mama" performed by 2Pac
"Thinking Of You" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"I Love My Mama" performed by Snoop Dogg
"I'll Always Love My Mama" performed by The Intruders

"Me & Me (To Bury My Parents"/Look Ma No Hands" performed by Andre 3000-WSPC PREMIERE

May 14, 2018
"Four Out Of Five" (live on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon") performed by Arctic Monkeys-WSPC PREMIERE
"Follow The Leader" performed by Foxygen
"Love Is The Drug" performed by Roxy Music
"Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down" performed by Scott Weiland
"Alabama Song" performed by The Doors
"Bring Me The Disco King" performed by David Bowie

May 15, 2018
"The Carpet Crawlers" performed by Genesis
"Do I Wanna Know?" performed by Arctic Monkeys
"Dross" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"I Can't Stand It" performed by The Velvet Underground
"Here Come The Warm Jets" performed by Brian Eno

May 16, 2018

HAPPY 52ND ANNIVERSARY TO THE BEACH BOYS' "PET SOUNDS"
"I'm Waiting For The Day"
"That's Not Me"
"Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)"

May 17, 2018
"God Break Down The Door" performed by Nine Inch Nails-WSPC PREMIERE
"Bubblin'" performed by Anderson. Paak-WSPC PREMIERE
"Run's House" performed by Run-DMC
"Domesticated" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Hell's Bells" performed by Bill Bruford

May 18, 2018
"Unloved Children" performed by Todd Rundgren
"The Day Will Be Mine" (live) performed by Sloan-WSPC PREMIERE
"I Will Not Apologize" performed by The Roots
"Eat The Elephant" performed by A Perfect Circle-WSPC PREMIERE
"Americans" performed by Janelle Monae-WSPC PREMIERE

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL LIVE JUNE 1, 2014
"The Promise" performed by Chris Cornell

May 20, 2018
"Radio Free Europe" performed by R.E.M.
"Behind My Camel" performed by The Police
"Only Over You" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Prisoner" performed by Ryan Adams
"My Hero" performed by Foo Fighters

Khruangbin performing live at the 2016 Otis Mountain Get Down

May 21, 2018
"Secret Society" performed by Utopia

"Vicious Streak" performed by New Order
"Sister" performed by Tracey Thorn with Corinne Bailey Rae-WSPC PREMIERE
"Walk The Walk" performed by Gaz Coombes-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Captain" performed by The Flaming Lips-WSPC PREMIERE
"Desert Horse" performed by Melody's Echo Chamber-WSPC PREMIERE

May 22, 2018
"Many The Miles" (live Houseboat performance) performed by Sara Bareilles
"Call My Name" performed by Prince
"Fantastic Voyage" (live "Reality Tour") performed by David Bowie

"Everybody Knows That You're Insane" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Generals And Majors" performed by XTC
"Fly On The Windscreen" performed by Depeche Mode
"Palms To The Sky" (Jet City Stream Session) performed by Reignwolf
"The Ocean" performed by Led Zeppelin

May 24, 2018
"Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" performed by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald
"Runaround" performed by Van Halen
"No Fear" performed by Fishbone
"Evan Finds The Third Room" (live) performed by Khruangbin-WSPC PREMIERE
"Variations" performed by Madlib
"The Embassy" performed by Mos Def

May 25, 2018
"Aspects" performed by Paul Weller-WSPC PREMIERE
"August Twelve" (live) performed by Khruangbin
"Low" performed by Lenny Kravitz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Medicaid Fraud Dogg" performed by Parliament-WSPC PREMIERE

"Lost Children" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

May 28, 2018

THE ANNUAL WSPC TRIBUTE TO MEMORIAL DAY with 
PINK FLOYD's "THE FINAL CUT" IN ITS ENTIRETY

"Daniel" performed by Elton John
"Drum + Fife" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"The Unknown Soldier" (live at the Hollywood Bowl) performed by The Doors
"March To The Witch's Castle" performed by Funkadelic
"Machine Gun" (live) performed by Jimi Hendrix with Band Of Gypsies

May 29, 2018
"Afraid Of Love" performed by Toto
"Don't Say No" performed by Billy Squier
"Not Your Kind Of People" performed by Garbage

May 30, 2018
"Why Can't We Be Friends" performed by War
"Why Can't We Live Together" performed by Timmy Thomas
"Share The Land" performed by The Guess Who

May 31, 2018
"Bonzo's Montreaux" performed by Led Zeppelin

"Humility" performed by Gorillaz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Lake Zurich" performed by Gorillaz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Mantra" performed by Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme and Trent Reznor
Finale Jam Live-performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Friday Morning" performed by Khruangbin-WSPC PREMIERE

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

SAVAGE RADIO PLAYLISTS MAY 2018: WVMO 98.7 FM-THE VOICE OF MONONA

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #124-MAY 2, 2018
1. "Over And Over And Over" performed by Jack White
2. "No Reply" performed by The Beatles
3. "Vow" performed by Garbage
4. "A Woman's Wisdom" performed by Wild Nothing
5. "Empty Ring" performed by Paul Weller
6. "Virginia Plain" performed by Roxy Music
7. "New Town Velocity" performed by Johnny Marr
8. "The Zephyr Song" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. "It's Not That Easy" performed by Nazz
10."S.O.S." performed by ABBA
11."Lady Picture Show" performed by Stone Temple Pilots
12."Man Out Of Time" performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
13. "Sunless Saturday" performed by Fishbone

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #125
"AN EVENING WITH ALYSSA NIEMIEC AND MIKE NIEMIEC OF SKYLINE SOUNDS"
MAY 9, 2018
1. "Glances Part II"
2. "In The Middle"
3. "Dimensions" (acoustic LIVE in the studio)
4. "Nightmares In Real Time" (WORLD PREMIERE--acoustic LIVE in the studio)

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #126: "LOCAL MUSIC, LOCAL HEROES"-MAY 16, 2018
1. "Meet Me Halfway There" performed by Cowboy Winter
2. "Faced To Face Me" performed by Skyline Sounds
3. "The Hedonist" performed by Gentle Brontosaurus
4. "Jupiter" performed by The German Art Students
5. "Nostalgia" performed by Modern Mod
6. "Not To You" performed by Squarewave
7. "Swig" performed by Trophy Dad
8. "New Religion" performed by Anna Wang
9. "Houseboat" performed by Slow Pulp
10."New Song" performed by Post Social
11."Folds Like Origami" performed by Kainalu

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #127-MAY 23, 2018
1. "Give Blood" performed by Pete Townshend
2. "I'm On Fire" performed by The Dwight Twilley Band
3. "Time & Space" performed by Flesh For Lulu
4. "The Evil Has Landed" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
5. "Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell" performed by The Flaming Lips
6. "Turn My Way" performed by New Order with Billy Corgan
7. "Lady and Man" performed by Khruangbin
8. "Four Out Of Five" performed by Arctic Monkeys
9. "Kingdom Come" performed by David Bowie
10."Queen" performed by Tracey Thorn

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #128-MAY 30, 2018
1. "Fields Of Joy" performed by Lenny Kravitz
2. "I Should Care" performed by The Sea And Cake
3  "Catch" performed by The Cure
4. "Strangers" performed by The Kinks
5. "Burning Bar" performed by Tangerine Dream
6. "99.9 F" performed by Suzanne Vega
7. "Changeling/Transmission" performed by DJ Shadow
8. "New Grass" performed by Talk Talk
9. "Walk It Down" performed by Talking Heads
10."Tenderness" performed by General Public

Saturday, May 26, 2018

NOW PLAYING IN THE SAVAGE JUKEBOX MAY 2018

"A FAREWELL TO KINGS"
RUSH
Released September 1, 1977
"VIVID"
LIVING COLOUR
Released May 3, 1988
"EAT THE ELEPHANT"
A PERFECT CIRCLE
Released April 20, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: First things first...this is the very sort of album cover that I would have given a wide berth in my childhood record store visits as its pure malevolence feels threatening enough to break free from mere image not horrifying three dimensional life. It is grotesque and then some, but given the subject matter the music is wrestling with, the image becomes more and more relevant, fitting and downright honest than it may first seem.

The return of A Perfect Circle has been long awaited and then some as their fourth album, "Eat The Elephant" now arrives a full 14 years after the band's third album "Emotive" (released November 1, 2004), a collection of politically themed protest cover songs. In essence, and despite the decade plus distance apart from each other, "Eat The Elephant," from its title to its cover image and of course, the songs themselves, strongly feels like the sequel to "Emotive." But this time instead of transforming the lyrics and songs from other artists into the APC aesthetic, the band is now providing their own furiously idiosyncratic words to speak to our terrifying times.

Written and performed (almost) entirely singer/lyricist Maynard James Keenan and multi-instrumentalist Billy Howerdel, A Perfect  Circle's "Eat The Elephant" dials down the flamethrower alt-metal riffs of the band's earlier works but the overall sound and effect is no less voluminous as we are enveloped in the band's trademark post-prog rock theatrics and especially, Howerdel's waterfall guitar heroics. Even so, and most appropriately, the album is considerably mournful, contemplative, and heavy hearted as if we, and the band, are sitting at our front row seats to the end of existence...and all at our own hands.

The tale of the tunes are all there in the song titles. "Disillusioned," "The Contrarian," "The Doomed," and the considerably sorrowful "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" front load the album, setting the plate for the Last Supper. While tracks like "Delicious," "Feathers," "By And Down The River," the booming atmospherics of "Get The Lead Out," and the human vs. machine hybrid of "Hourglass" provide some sense of spiritual deliverance...or perhaps an acceptance of the inevitable but not without one hell of a fight. 

As grim as the album is, it cannot go without notice that you will hear an elegantly arranged, produced and performed work that showcases the band's evolution and maturity starring Maynard James Keenen delivering what may be his finest vocals to date singing his most compassionate, humane set of lyrics.

And if the world is burning itself up into ashes, then please allow this especially empathetic yet ferocious music surround us along the way.
"DIRTY COMPUTER"
JANELLE  MONAE
Released April 27, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: As with the latest album from A  Perfect Circle, if there has been anything remotely positive about the most recent Presidential election is that much of our art has become more galvanized and overt in its sense of protest. Joining in the music of resistance is Janelle Monae's dynamic third full length release, "Dirty Computer."

While I have always have been intrigued by this particular artist, I had never really been terribly compelled to pick up one of her albums. Not for any reason, I have to tell you. But, after having seen two of her striking recent music videos, including the proudly vagina themed  "PYNK," I just knew that NOW was the time to check her out!

Eschewing with her on-going album conceptual themes starring her symbolic android alter-ego, Janelle Monae drives "Dirty Computer" with the tale of her personal evolution which has culminated with a newfound sense of social, political, racial and sexual awakening in an America whose level of prejudice, racism, sexism and intolerance has been unleashed and emboldened by a certain #45. Thankfully, Monae delivers a powerful pushback copiously filled beyond the brim with an arsenal of couplets so quotable that I could easily see her lyrics written across a sea of protest signs within the most revolutionary marches.

Take this set from the track "Screwed":
"See, if everything is sex
Except sex, which is power
You know, power is just sex
You screw me and I'll screw you too"

Or this one moment from the explosive "Django Jane":
"We gon' start a motherfuckin' pussy riot
Or we gon'  have to put 'em on a pussy diet..."

Or this portion from the album's roof raising finale "Americans";
"Seventy-nine cent to your dollar
All that bullshit from white-collars
You see my color before my vision
Sometimes I wonder if you were blind
Would it help you make a better decision?

Over and again, Monae conceives of stanzas upon stanzas that you will instantly hit "rewind" to hear them all over again, for they are all that forceful and as militant in their feminist (and for that matter...humanist) presentation. Yet, instead of what could  have been an album filled with nothing but proselytizing slogans, Monae has ensured that "Dirty Computer" is over-flowing in melodies so rich you can bathe within them and a variety of grooves and beats propulsive enough to dare you to stop moving, all the while being held together by the crystalline clarity of Janelle Monae's spectacular singing and rapping.

While the album contains superb support from the likes of Jon Brion and Brian Wilson (yes...that Brian Wilson) and certainly is largely influenced by Stevie Wonder (who makes a cameo appearance) and the late, great, artist 4ever known as Prince (who befriended Monae and advised her during the writing and making of the album before his passing, "Dirty Computer" is unquestionably, entirely and uncompromisingly the artistic vision of Janelle Monae from end to end. Returning to the Prince comparisons, it is an album that feels as if she has adopted Prince's party under the mushroom cloud aesthetic of "1999," merged that with the unrepentant female empowerment messages of "P. Control" and fused it all into a vibrantly personal and beautifully seamless song suite like Prince's "Lovesexy" (released May 10, 1988) and magically, created a singular work that exists as her personal manifesto upon her journey towards self-acceptance and ascension.

"I'm NOT America's nightmare. I am the American dream!!!!" Monae sings early in the album and it is truly impossible to proclaim otherwise as you experience her outstanding album.
"RECORD"
TRACEY THORN
Released March 2, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC:  One of my favorite singers of all time hands down.

As one half of the classic British alt-pop duo Everything But The Girl, Tracy Thorn has long rapturously graced my ears and heart through the deep, rich soul of her voice which has the glorious ability to convey oceans of emotions even when she may sound as if she is not necessarily "doing" very much vocally. But that is precisely the gift of a GREAT singer. Not everyone can (or should) be Aretha Franklin or Mary J. Blige, for instance, as too many singers in the 21st century feel this incessant need to essentially invent syllables and stretch their vocal chords to stratospheric ranges in order to sing a song--all the while never attaining any sense of truth, even while glass is shattering all around them and us

Yet, Ms. Thorn is a rarity, so eternally beloved by me, but admittedly after EBTG's unofficial fade out in 2000, I lost track of her (as well as her husband and former bandmate Ben Watt). So, it is with great thanks to the NPR series "Fresh Air With Terry Gross" which featured a terrific recent interview with Ms. Thorn that I am happily able to rekindle this particular flame via her fifth solo album entitled "Record."

Now, as I am unaware of what the bulk of her solo material actually sounds like, I am able to say that "Record" either continues or returns Tracey Thorn to the dance floor, where she blissfully morphed into a disco queen during EBTG's final years. Now, at the age of 55, Thorn triumphantly places herself under the mirrorball once more with 9 stellar tracks that conceptually flow between a variety of uniquely female insights regarding the romance vs. reality of Motherhood ("Babies"), a nostalgic look at when she first began to rock ("Guitar"), an ode to leaving the nest ("Go"),  a rallying cry against misogynistic ideals in the music industry ("Air"), the superior soul contained within female solidarity ("Sister"), plus even more self-described "feminist bangers."

With her songwriting pen as sharply empathetic and perceptive as ever, and armed with a singing voice now deepened after menopause, Tracey Thorn's latest is a celebratory affair with the chronicles of her life, making "Record" exist as nothing less than a vibrant audio diary.
"CON TODO EL MUNDO"
KHRUANGBIN

Released 
NEW 2018 MUSIC: Once again...sometimes MUSIC CHOOSES YOU!!!

In the case of the band Khruangbin, the Houston, Texas based trio made up of guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee and drummer Donald Ray "DJ" Johnson Jr. ,  I never knew even one solitary thing about the band--let alone their existence-- until I finally clicked upon this one insistent link that keep appearing persistently in the side of my You Tube feed, a full, nearly 60 minute live performance presented by Pitchfork. It was as if the music knew something that I did not but once I did click upon the link, I was just blown away and I KNEW that I had to get their album.

And so, here we are with "Con Todo El Mundo," (which I have read translates as "With All The World") the band's second full length release and for me, it is already safely snug upon my favorite album releases of 2018. Despite possessing a musical aesthetic the band has adopted being described as "Thai funk," Khruangbin completely defies genre descriptions as their specialized, and mostly instrumental, brand contains elements of psychedelia, hip-hop, soul, surf and what one might find upon a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack merged with Middle Eastern flourishes.

Running a seamless 10 tracks, "Con Todo El Mundo" is a fully intoxicating, immersive and often downright sexy experience that simultaneously makes you want to get up and groove while blissfully spacing out. Propelled by Laura Lee's stellar deep bass and "DJ" Johnson Jr.s' richly subtle drum rhythms, which suggest an especially relaxed Questlove, Mark Speer's stunning, shape shifting, luxuriously liquid guitar heroics will unquestionably caress you all over while also conjuring up rightful comparisons to the likes of  Jimi Hendrix, Peter Green, Carlos Santana, David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan as his playing is indeed that confident, versatile, inventive and imaginative.

Trust me...even if you have difficulty pronouncing the band's name, you can now spell it, therefore being able to easily find it for you will indeed want this one in your collection as it is a work that you can easily place upon repeat and lose yourself inside of it endlessly.
"TRANQILITY BASE HOTEL AND CASINO"
ARCTIC MONKEYS
Released May 11, 2018
NEW 2018 MUSIC: I think I was getting this band confused with Vampire Weekend, but for whatever reasons, I had also not heard one song or note by Arctic Monkeys, perhaps feeling that maybe this band would not necessarily be for me. Yet recently, I became intrigued...

From articles I have read in the music press, band leader/singer/songwriter/guitarist Alex Turner, struggling with a bout of writer's block, began trying to compose upon a piano he received for his 30th birthday--an avenue in which he had not tried to write songs before. The result opened up a floodgate, which initially confused his bandmates but was soon embraced and has now been fully revealed in a head spinning science fiction concept album in which Turner stars as some sort of sleazy interstellar lounge singer at the titular locale of the album performing a luxurious song cycle that openly evokes the sound and vision of the late, eternally great David Bowie.

An odd album to be sure, of course and featuring a sonic palate that suggests an equally odd hybrid of Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane merged with Bowie's late period gem "Bring Me The Disco King," Arctic Monkeys' latest release may not be the best place for new listeners to begin with to introduce themselves to the band. Yet even so, this is indeed what has happened to me. Without question, I am having a tremendous time drowning in the ocean of melodies, while hanging on for dear life with the cavalcade of lyrics, and let me tell you, the mid-album track "Four Out Of Five" is an unquestionable grand slam.

Whether this excursion makes sense of not, or if the concept is successful or not feels somehow irrelevant when the songs themselves are as strong as these, making for an album experience that is fun to dig deeply into.

You know, it may even be another one of the year's best releases...
"GET READY"
NEW ORDER
Released August 27, 2001
"5150"
VAN HALEN
Released March 24, 1986

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"MAJOR CONGRATS" SNEAK PREVIEW: A BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH POST SOCIAL'S SHANNON CONNOR-A SYNESTHESIA EXCLUSIVE

The time is almost here again!

It has been nearly two full years since we least heard from the band Post Social, the Madison, WI based quartet featuring Shannon Connor (vocals, guitar), Mitch Deitz (vocals, guitar), Sam Galligan (bass guitar) and Brendan Manley (drums), as real world responsibilities from college, day jobs and tenures in additional bands have occupied a tremendous amount of their time. While more than understandable, the wait for new material is thankfully almost over.

Courtesy of the band's official Facebook page, Post Social began releasing a few teasers since March of this year. First, was the announcement that a new album would be arriving this summer with the first live performances of 2018 arriving even sooner. In April, we were given a shot of the following image: a potential final track listing!
And finally, within the previous week, we have been graced with the album cover and the official title, which is indeed "MAJOR CONGRATS." At this time, the album is being mastered, finalized and prepared for what will hopefully be a June 2018 release.

With this exciting news and activity, I felt that it was time to reach out to the band and see if I could possibly gather a bit of a preview. Gladly, Shannon Connor responded with answers to some questions I have about album #4 from Post Social.

SYNESTHESIA: Shannon, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. Now, it has been nearly two years since the release of Post Social's third album "Casablanca." Can you speak to the extended time away and how did it feel once writing and recording began again in earnest?
SHANNON: Well, with the election and life in general, the end of 2016 was really weird and draining for everyone. Not to say that we stopped because of that. But, we were kind of worn down a bit already and it was good to have some time away.

It was a weird time writing this one because it started out as Mitch and I writing songs on our won mostly. Eventually, we whipped tings into shape as a band but it was different from every other time we've written songs together for sure.

SYNESTHESIA: I understand that the band made a return to an official recording studio for this album, something you have not done since your debut release. Why did you wish to record in this fashion after recording albums #2 and #3 at home on your own?
SHANNON: Returning to the studio was just something we were ready to do after home recording because it was a change of pace. But I also thought it woud be good to get an outside perspective again and agree to let somebody else do the mixing so that we wouldn't have as much of a personal stake in it, which can lead to arguments and then, nobody gets what the want. That's how it work sot sometimes doing your own production.

SYNESTHESIA: And who is working with you this time?
SHANNON: Ricky Riemer of Science Of Sound...he is the GOAT!!

SYNESTHESIA: What perspective, specifically, did Ricky bring to the band this time around?
SHANNON: Ricky didn't impose is will on us at all but he knew where we were trying to take the songs and it was important to have somebody besides ourselves who's confident in what we're doing.

SYNESTHESIA: How do you think the songs differ, if at all, this time around with the material being written separately? And was the recording easier for the band this time around being in the studio setting?
SHANNON: In terms of how things differ from previous albums, I think the biggest thing is that the usual roles we have were switched around a lot. We wrote parts on different instruments. For some of the early writing and rehearsing, there were songs I was drumming on and Brendan was playing guitar. I ended up recording the bass on a few songs and drumming on one. Brendan plays guitar on a few of the recordings and plays bass on one. We also brought in people outside of the band to play on the album.

Recording was easier for sure even though it was hard work getting the takes sometimes, just because we knew what we wanted and we knew how to get what we wanted this time.

SYNESTHESIA: Did the "musical chairs" aspect flow easily, cause friction or create something else altogether?
SHANNON: Switching things around happened pretty naturally and made things fresher from a songwriting perspective.

SYNESTHESIA: Now that the album is being finalized, how is the band feeling? What might us fans expect?
SHANNON: I don't know what to tell people to expect! But I would say that it's a good album to play really loud for the most part.

SYNESTHESIA: Are there tracks that you are especially excited for listeners to hear and for you to perform live?
SHANNON: Everything!!! Seriously!

SYNESTHESIA: I saw that Javi Reyes of the band Post Animal recently commented upon the Post Social Facebook page with the statement, "Fire is coming, folks!" Would you agree to that?
SHANNON: Absolutely!

SYNESTHESIA: Oh yes...one last thing. What is the significance of the album title?
SHANNON: I will keep my lips sealed on that.

Fair enough...and regardless, I. AM. READY.

POST SOCIAL
(left to right: Sam Galligan, Brendan Manley, Mitch Dietz, Shannon Connor)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

WSPC'S SESSION NOTES MAY 2018: 30 YEARS OF "VIVID"

FROM THE DJ'S STUDIO DESK:

It was sometime deep in the middle of the night during the drought afflicted Chicago summer of 1988 when the lightning struck--not actual but metaphorical and for the purposes of this posting, musical, of course.

For whatever reasons that I am unable to remember after all of this time, I was awake at the aforementioned time, perhaps I was writing, perhaps not, but the television was indeed on and the channel was placed upon MTV, a station that I was just beginning to be obsessed with as the city of Chicago had then recently been wired for cable television, thus making it possible to finally see what those in the suburbs had access to for years prior.

Anyhow, I will never remember the VJ who introduced this clip but I will never forget the feeling when I saw it. The music itself was a ferocious roar with a guitar riff and rhythmic force that, to my ears, instantly reminded me of the pummeling swagger of Led Zeppelin.  Believe me, I was hooked instantly. But it was when I saw the members of the band, that is when the lightning hit. For when I saw them, I felt supremely lifted. I felt...vindication.

The song was "Middle Man." The band was Living Colour.
  
On May 3rd, Living Colour's debut album "Vivid" reached its 30th anniversary, a milestone that I felt necessary to acknowledge upon Synesthesia as its impact, both musical and cultural, seized me tremendously when I was 19 years old and the pride I feel that its presence and influence has only continued to reverberate over these past three decades.

Living Colour's "Vivid," an album of vibrant, vivacious fury, propelled by formidable performances from the band, which at that time consisted of Guitarist Vernon Reid, Bassist Muzz Skillings, Vocalist Corey Glover and Drummer Will Calhoun (Bassist Doug Wimbish has long since taken over for Skillings who departed the band in 1992), and the mountainous production by Ed Stasium. It is truly one of the very best debut releases I have ever heard as it is a body slamming gut punch of take-no-prisoners hard rock, and also serves a seamless musical amalgamation of punk, rap, power pop, soul, jazz, funk, blues, fusion and heavy metal, all of which is armed with a searing political/social commentary as presented through the distinctive and unapologetic lens of the Black experience.

As this album opens with a quotation as delivered by none other than Malcolm X, Living Colour immediately signaled that this album was going to be markedly different experience for the hard rock  genre while also delivering the sonic boom. After the first track, which is none other than the still relevant and revelatory blitzkrieg that is "Cult Of Personality," the album tackled provocative subject matter with purposefulness and purity. Racial paranoia ("Funny Vibe"), drug abuse ("Desperate People"), gentrification ("Open Letter (To A Landlord)" ) and the painfully distinct lines that divide the realities of Black and White America ("Which Way To America").

And somehow, the band also found ways to include a high school hallways bop ("I Want To Know"), a booming hp-hop drums via a vague country-western sad song ("Broken Hearts"), jaunty African rhythms ("Glamour Boys"), a roaring Talking Heads cover ("Memories Can't Wait") and even their own James Brown influenced theme song ("What's Your Favorite Color?").

For me, it was not solely the experience of hearing a great album that  soared my spirit. Or really even the fact that these superior musicians, it could be argued, operated from more of a jazz perspective than rock, so to speak with their jaw dropping agility and flexibility with merging and blurring a variety of musical genres to create a sound that was uniquely their own on their very first time at bat.

It was the sight, and therefore, the reality of bearing witness to these four Black men daring to play the very music that we are not supposed to be playing regardless of the greater reality that we, as Black people, created every music genre represented upon "Vivid," especially rock and roll. Living Colour showcased their inherent right to play this music and in doing so, they gave Black people like myself  a venue to rightfully and righteously claim our inherent right to listen to this music. Additionally, the existence of Living Colour rightfully and righteously challenged both White and Black radio, and therefore White and Black listeners in regards to understanding precisely what Black music could even be!

With throwing down such a titanic gauntlet, Living Colour's debut served as  nothing less than vindication for me--a then 19 year old Black teenager/college student who worshiped rock and roll, played rock and roll drums and just did not wish to explain to anyone, anywhere at any time of why I love this music and how my Blackness would always exist no matter what I listened to. For that, my gratitude towards this band (and for that matter, Fishbone) is bottomless as the proverbial doors and windows they gloriously smashed allowed me the avenue to take a  greater confidence in myself as I continued to build my worldview.

And now, 30 years later in 2018, Living Colour thankfully still exists and they remain as vibrant and as...ahem...vivid as ever. That being said, I am honestly unsure as to how perceptions have changed or unchanged regarding the concept of Black people playing hard rock, but Living Colour's continued presence keeps the conversation alive as well as providing and delivering staggering, blistering, unforgiving rock and roll for the ages.

If you have never heard "Vivid," now is the time. If you haven't heard it in some time, it is now time to re-visit it. And when you do...without question or hesitation...PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!!