Local Music at Your Fingertips
Let me tell you about Pink Freud.... as the name may suggest, they're a Pink Floyd cover band. There also appears to be two versions of the band according to their FB page. Pink Freud Southwest includes Rachel Ross, Chuck Hawley both N.M. music stalwarts, as well as Doug Bellen and Mikey Jaramillo. Pink Freud Midwest (based in Chicago) includes Carlos Del Real, Mike Marten, Julie Leuck, Gordon Patriarca. Vocalist Tony Orant ties things together by playing in both versions. There's yet another Pink Freud out there. This one is a jazz fusion band based in Poland, totally unrelated to the U.S. band(s). They don't do Pink Floyd covers.
Jen Olive splits her time between 'Burque, Los Angeles and England. Jen's latest album “The Breaks” features Andy Partridge (XTC), Mikey Rowe (keyboards, Sheryl Crow), Rob Brian (drummer, Siouxsie Sioux) just to name a few. Jen's previous venture, Warm Robot resulted in two releases, both on Apehouse Records, one in collaboration in Andy Partridge. All Music gave it a glowing review: “there's almost an echo of the lush textures and quiet elegance of early Butterfly Child (or even the Cocteau Twins!)” Boy Howdy! Her debut “Jen Olive” released in 2006 is self described as “nine poorly-recorded-but-someday-worth-lots-of-money masterpieces. A collector's item for sure”
Though we are blessed with a preponderance of talented women on the local music scene, there's always room for more... add Star Canyon's Cecilia McKinnon to the list. Multi-layered dream pop filtered through the glint of an oppressive sun reflecting off the sandy landscape. Echoing Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval, Star Canyon consists of Cecilia McKinnon-vocals,guitar and Ben Martinez- percussion “Star Canyon is your guide to love songs for the post-apocalypse and other bad road trips” Lacking in wit, I lifted that description from their FB page. “Cheap Trick” Star Canyon's latest album was released in 2015. Their debut album, “Star Canyon” in 2013. Both are available at Bandcamp.
“Spiky Weapon of the Earth”
Anarcho Punk Folk.... is an apt descriptor for the musical trend of combining a punk ethos with unique folk instrumentation. Originally just Alex DenBaars and Beth Hansen working as a ukele and flute duo... unconventional instruments not usually associated with Punk or the Straight Edge movement. From those humble origins Arroyo Deathmatch has evolved into a five piece “hardcore-and-metal-influenced experimental anarcho folk band” Alex-vocals, Beth-flute,vocals Jett-washboard, Matt- bejota~accordion, Cameron upright-grandjo. “Evil folk for evil folks” Stubbornly acoustic, stubbornly sober, stubbornly honest... sworn to an ideal, totally committed to lighting a fire under your ass.
The music grips you. The distance between performer and audience is totally negated. Alex's fully throttled vocals force the listener to listen. No escaping or ignoring what's in your face. With every song, Arroyo Deathmatch builds to a seemingly chaotic crescendo, that is anything but. They're as tight as the Mothers of Invention. No shoe gazing aloofness, no jam band doodling. They electrify, without the use of electricity. The bejota is an instrument of their own invention. It sorta looks like an over sized banjo, but it ain't no banjo. For starters, it only has two strings. The grandjo on the other hand also looks like a big banjo, but its role within the group is similar to an upright bass.
Starting in 2009, Alex and Beth were accompanied by conventional instruments: guitar, fiddle and cello (Calen, Danny, Jes respectively) a lineup that held up through their first two albums, “Burned on Fire” and “Ballad of a Dead Dog” Their third album “Suffer the Weak” “represents the phase in history when Arroyo Deathmatch was a duo project” “May Demo 2011” saw the addition of the formidable Leon on drums and Twig on washboard. The split release w/Days N Daze kept that lineup in place. “All of Them Witches” marked the debut of Matt and the mighty bejota. “Through the Fear of It” introduced us to Jett on washboard. Cameron on the grandjo came on board for “Hidden Histories”
“Funny people making dead-serious music” Alex Denbaars also heads up The Goathead Record Collective. A “non-hierarchical, independent, folk and punk record collective” Formed with the goal of “providing access to recording equipment and sound engineers free of charge to local bands” Some local artists with Goathead connections include, Arroyo Deathmatch, The Leaky Faces, Vassar Bastards, Saugwa and Bird Friend. Chatterbox & The Latter Day Satanists from Colorado and Days N Daze from Texas. You won't find Tom Dooley hanging 'round these parts.... this ain't your Papaw's folk music. For full effect, play this music as loud as your neighbors can stand.
Foster's Lager, Luc Longley, Cameron Bairstow or Hugh Greenwood.... nope. Guitarist Nathan Bickley is hands down the best Australian import to inhabit the Duke City. Bickley, co-host (alongside Ashley Veve Rammelsburg) of “Blowing Up” “the podcast about anything relevant for more than one second” arrived in Albuquerque (UNM in particular) by way of Norway, Venezuela and Australia. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in psychology from UNM in 2009. While his academic credentials are top notch, Nathan Bickley also has a knack for droning lo-fi psychedelic electronica that reminds one of an updated version of the “Dunedin Sound” associated with New Zealand's Flying Nun Records.
When it comes to music, Nathan has been busier than a one legged man at a Dance Dance Revolution contest. Constructing a timeline is difficult, on account that Bickley's musical ventures and the musicians involved often intersect and overlap one another. In no particular order here's a list of Nathan's projects: Small Flightless Birds (Nathan, James Sturgis,Will Bryne, Bon Baca) CanyonLands (Nathan, James Sturgis, Bon Baca, Adeline Murthy, Mark Campagna) Smoke Rings (Nathan, James Sturgis) The Gatherers (Nathan, James Sturgis, David Ramon, Bon Baca, Leigh Scariano) Ballets/Spice Boyz (Nathan, James Sturgis, Bon Baca, Andy Ward)
As you've probably gathered, James Sturgis is the one constant other than Bickley. Everything builds around Sturgis' mostly indecipherable vocals and the guitar interaction between Bickley and Sturgis is oh so sweet. Ballets and CanyonLands have segued into Spice Boyz for some reason... same personnel. Bickley has also recorded under the alias of Daffodil Megasaurus. Train Conductor on the other hand consists of many of the musicians working with Nathan.... but, not Nathan. We could conclude that it's all just CanyonLands under different guises.... except there's just enough distinction between the varying projects to rule that out. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The more Nathan Bickley and James Sturgis, the better off we all are. Music by all bands mentioned is available for streaming on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
Dead Flowers ~ Lousy Robot
Lazy Old Sun ~ Steve Hammond
Death of Me ~ Jen Olive
I Remember You ~ Weedrat
Alibi ~ Star Canyon
Horses ~ Italian Rats
A Language That Goes Unspoken ~ Arroyo Deathmatch
Death-o-Flight ~ Icumdrums
Funky Russia ~ Alien Space Kitchen
Funeral ~ The Talking Hours
Knight of Wands ~ Anna Mall
Fool ~ Klondykes
Lozenges ~ CanyonLands
Life on Mars ~ Leeches of Lore
Ziggy Stardust ~ Pink Freud
Until it Ends, It Begins ~ Black Tie
I Can't Show You ~ CanyonLands
Failure Isn't Free ~ Arroyo Deathmatch