RSL,leaderboard

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Matthew Logan Vasquez - Solicitor Returns

ALBUM REVIEW
& ARTIST Q&A
Something ominous advances from just over the ridge. It’s a steady, persistent piece of machinery that's demanding to be heard. Vasquez describes the 1:38 prelude of the title track of his new album, “a sonic palate cleanser.” And it’s immediately clear why we needed that forceful call to attention—and why Vasquez needed the full cleansing that came along with moving his family back to his early stomping grounds of Austin, Texas, (and ultimately perhaps) why has has embarked on his first ever solo album, Solicitor Returns.



Throughout this intensely personal and muscular record, you’re struck by both its brazen ferocity and its delicate intimacy. I wouldn’t call it a complete departure from his work with Delta Spirit. It’s more emphatic and gentler; both grittier and dreamier and all the while, with the poetic poignancy of a classic troubadour that has always been Vasquez’s calling card. This introspective album is like his musical diary for the past several years, and it barrels out like hot lava flow that has been building up, craving release.

“Maria,” the album’s first proper track, is a powerful and heady beginning. This richly visual story seems like a search for life’s meaning, a vision quest, which culminates in a mental breakdown. This dark tale is accompanied by an insistent drum beat and a searing, haunted, down-and-dirty lead guitar melody that cries out in the darkness. “This song came to me on a flight,” explains Vasquez. “I wrote the lyrics out on those little napkins the flight attendant gives you. The melody came tome me like a vision. That doesn't happen to me very often. Normally I'll fight with the music and lyrics until I'm happy. It might be the first song I completely wrote in my head without an instrument.” 


“The nurses gather round and help me back to bed
the self-inflicted injuries that started in my head
a mysticism that I practiced in my youth
found me huddled in Arizona, crippled by the truth.
“I can’t find Mother Maria, am I lost in Santería?
I will do anything as long as I can see her
I can’t find, I can’t find…”
- Maria


The symbolic soul journey of “Maria” launches directly into the musically upbeat and lyrically straightforward “Personal,” a bold statement of needing to do one’s own thing. It’s the anthem of a free spirit, and can be seen as his explanation for needing to move beyond the confines of the group for his first solo outing after ten years as part of a symbiotic organism. It’s very different in tone to the song preceding it. In fact, the entire album soars wildly free of allegiance to any particular genre or aesthetic.



“I Bet It All” and “Everything I Do Is Out” are, like “Personal,” extremely intimate songs, in addition to having both softer and harder edges than Delta Spirit’s impressive catalog. The former swells with a psychedelic-folk vibe and spiritual reverence, while in the latter, it’s balls to the wall. It’s this breadth of styles and full-throttle of memories and emotions that make this album special. So the question arises — does this powerful solo effort herald the end of Delta Spirit?

“Collaborative nature is what makes Delta Spirit special. You're not going to find many bands these days that ascribe to that model,” explains Vasquez. “It's a hard road and a lot of ego to manage (mostly my own). I'm certainly proud of everything we accomplished together, but (at) times I feel like the song has suffered because there's too much compromise in arrangement. This music is my way of letting my freak flag fly again. I haven't had this much fun in years. My guitar playing has improved tenfold and playing with other people has also challenged how I lead a band instead of being one-fifth of something. It's also been fun to get lost in a jam with new people. The sound of discovery is an exciting thing!”

For the new album’s earthy and sometimes psychedelic vibe, he double-tracked vocals on a few of the songs, laid down some mind-bending guitar solos and took inspiration from the otherworldly sounds and textures of early Pink Floyd. “I was chasing the fidelity of Pink Floyd's Meddle, says Vasquez. “The intro is also a nod to that album. I also wanted to have the attitude of Plastic Ono Band when it came to the mix. I mixed everything a song at a time and no more than a few revisions were made. The more you tool with recordings the less fun you here coming out of the speakers.”


After the I-don’t-give-a-shit feistiness of “Everything I Do Is Out,” there’s the folksy meandering but just as penetrating “Black East River,” with its wistful New York memories and mention of 9/11. It’s a slow burn to the end with “Stand Up” and “Bound To Her,” the former full of angst and the latter resolute. “New York,” as the title suggests, is Vasquez’s ode to his Greenpoint, Brooklyn residency that lasted nearly 3 years. “I loved my time there and look back on it fondly. I wrote the song to Brandon Young from Delta Spirit who had spent a year on a couch while we worked on DS's latest record ‘Into the Wide.’ I love New York but I'm built for Austin. The culture and nature in central Texas have had healing powers for me.”

In keeping with the DIY theme of this remarkable album, he released it himself in the U.S. (it’s on Dine Alone in Canada and Devil Duck/Indigo in Germany). He is also handling those important relationships — public relations, radio and retail — on his own. For an indie musician trying to sail today’s treacherous seas, it’s really the only choice, though it takes equal parts savvy and moxie. “I've been in the record business my whole adult life, explains Vasquez.” “I hired out my own radio and PR people. I went directly to record stores I had good relationships with. I built my own webstore as well. It'd be a lot harder to do all this if I hadn't already had great relationships with great people. There's plenty of negative things I could say about the industry as a whole, but like my late friend Stephen Short used to say, ‘They don't call it the music music.’”

Verdict: Vasquez’s warm Texan grit, snarling-to-honey vocals and storytelling prowess (not to mention serious guitar chops) is on full display here. This is songwriting that’s visceral and affecting, straight from the heart, as he takes the listener along for the deep dive into his soul excavation. Highly recommended.


Tour Dates
4/15 – Omaha, NE @ Reverb
4/16 – Columbia, MO @ Rose Music Hall
4/18 – Davenport, IA @ Moeller Monday
4/19 – Minneapolis, MN @ Entry
4/20 – Madison, WI @ Frequency
4/22 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater Group Presents: Live From The Back Room
4/23 – Chicago, IL @ Space
4/24 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi
4/25 – Columbus, OH @ Basement
4/26 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Bag
4/27 – Toronto, ON @ Drake
4/29 – New York, NY @ Mercury
4/30 – Boston, MA @ Cafe 939
5/1 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
5/3 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
5/4 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Blue Cafe
5/5 – Washington, DC @ DC9
5/6 – Durham, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
5/7 – Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
5/9 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
5/10 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
5/12 – Nashville, TN @ Mercy
5/13 – Atlata, GA @ Shaky Knees
5/14 – Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo


A BEST OF 2016 ALBUM SELECTION 


MATTHEW LOGAN VASQUEZ
Album / Web / Fb / Tw


Friday, April 08, 2016

One to Watch: OSOG

Tel Aviv roots rock band OSOG were amongst the many amazing music acts I encountered in 2015 while in Israel. Their enthusiastic, down-home feel could have emerged from anywhere in the States, the glowing music precedes them in much the same way we've seen from acts like Lumineers, Head and the Heart and Monsters of Rock. The band have a new album out shortly, the first single of which Who Who is spotlighted here today.


SOUND CREDITS
Avital Tamir - Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin
Idan Epshtein - Ukulele
David Benjamini - Bass
Asaf Perelmuter - Lap Steel
Erez Shmida - Acoustic Guitar
Omer Ashano - Violin
Guy Fleisher - Drums & Percussion
Einav Har Anan Cohen - Vibraphone
The Hazelnuts - Backing Vocals


The collective will be touring internationally all Spring. Be sure to catch them if you can. (Our friends in Canada, take note, they are coming at you really soon!) The band just released a video for Who Who as well, a cinematic yet dysotopian look (the band dies) at what is otherwise the most-uplifting music. Nothing like art to make you take notice.. Highly recommended, an Artist To Watch!


VIDEO CREDITS
Director & Editor - Gal Muggia
Director of Photography - Eitan Hatuka

ANNOUNCED INTERNATIONAL LIVE DATES
Apr 20 - Stigma Bar, Ashkelon (IL)
Apr 24 - Radio EPGB, Tel-Aviv (IL)
Apr 28 - Yellow Submarine, Jerusalem (IL)
May 1 - Manantler, Bowmanville (CA)
May 5 - The Boathouse, Kitchener (CA)
May 7 - CMW Showcase - Cadillac Lounge, Toronto (CA)
May 8 - The Phog Lounge, Windsor (CA)
May 21 - Yearot Menashe Festival (IL)
May 26 - Days of Jerusalem Fest., Prague (CZ)
May 27 - Budějovický Majáles Fest., České Budějovice (CZ)
May 28 - Days of Jerusalem Fest., Prague (CZ)
May 29 - Days of Jerusalem Fest., Prague (CZ)
May 31 - GMK, Budapest (HU)


OSOG
Web / Fb / Tw


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

New Music from New York City's Best Southern Rock Band



My favorite ne'er-do-wells have returned with a new album! Skunkmello are hard-luck cowboys, southern souls in the big city and they represent the best of what the old south has to offer in midst of all that hard rock, indie and pop. There's something magical about working with Gotham's best best blues and country-rock that makes us tingle. Call it my appreciation of the cowboy epic and a healthy appreciation of barbecue. Maybe it's the just the slower pace here and the knowledge that winter is over, but we're really excited for the new 'Mello album, Hot Chicken - out this June.

WORLD PREMIERE


For the last two years, Skunkmello have been a fixture of The Outlaw Roadshow and have proven time and again to be one of the most well-loved stage acts on our stages. This world premiere is just a taste of the reason why..It's a slower life and a dedication to the outcome that matter. Highway 17 features Glenn Spivack on pedal steel. The man's one of the few, great working pedal steel players based in New York - like this band, he's one of a kind!

Pull up a seat kids, because this is southern hospitality. 

AJ Ferrer photographs


SKUNKMELLO
Music / Web / Fb / Tw