About Author: Kelly

Kelly is a writer living in Los Angeles where he works on comedy, cooks fancy Italian foods, and obsesses over rom-coms and Seahawks football. His favorite tunes hail from the genres of folk rock and mid 90’s hip-hop. He considers Mark Morrison’s, Return of The Mack, the pinnacle of human sound. For reals; it doesn’t get better than that.

Posts by Kelly


#AOTW: Iska Dhaaf

iska-daafWe have a special feature for this week’s segment. Normally I try and bring you some tunes that you guys have never heard of and then give you all a bit of back story. This time instead of hearing the story from me, you’re going to get it straight from the source. Iska Dhaaf (Somali for “let it go”) is an up and coming Seattle band that began recording in 2011. The duo made up of Nate Quiroga (Mad Rad) and Benjamin Verdoes (Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band) just released their album Even the World Will Burn this past month. It’s some of the more interesting and entertaining indie rock I’ve heard in a long while. Drummer Benjamin Verdoes was kind enough to have a chat with me about the album, working with a duo, and the Seattle music scene. What follows is that interview. ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Iska Dhaaf. Let’s kick it off with their track Everybody Knows.


KM: Nate used to be in the hip-hop group Mad Rad and you were in the indie rock band Mt. St. Helens Vietnam band, how did you guys initially cross paths?

BV: We had run into each other at Sasquatch and just around the city. We were both promoting our projects really maxresdefaulthard. (Mad Rad) was another band that was pushing things creatively, playing really intense shows, and we kinda had that in common. I had been listening to Mad Rad’s music and I wanted to learn how to make beats. I had never delved into making electronic music so I actually hit up the producer from Mad Rad and started going over to his studio and shadowing him. Then I ended up playing guitar on a song on their second record and then ended up playing shows with them. That’s when Nate and I kinda of got together. I was really impressed with what he was doing. He was a really impressive songwriter. He played with Mt Saint Helens on a song. Then we started collaborating together and since then we haven’t stopped. We’ve been playing almost every day for three years.

KM: When you guys got together you moved from guitar to drums and Nate took over on guitar despite having never played. Is that correct?

BV: That’s right he only knew how to play a few chords. I had been playing drums off and on, it’s not something I iskadhaafneumos1-580x386was every really proficient at. To be honest when we got together we just started writing. Sometimes I would play bass, we’d loop things, we’d both write vocal melodies, and we’d harmonize on things. It was really an interesting process. At a certain point he would come in with riffs and different parts of songs. I would come in with pieces of songs. We developed these different ways of writing songs and then had to figure out how to preform them. That’s when I started doing the drums and the bass. We felt like we had such chemistry between the two of us that it didn’t really make sense to play with other people.


KM: Is that what influenced you guys to stay as a duo rather than form a full band?

BV: Precisely. We’ve had people come by. But as far as the vision of it, and the vibe, it was always a duo. We don’t really have a practice schedule. We just know that we’re going to meet every day. We just know that. It’s part of our daily existence. This band is a continuation of what we’re reading and what we’re discussing. It makes it a lot easier both musically and spiritually to keep it just the two of us.

KM: What are you reading?

BV: We recommend books to each other. My girlfriend who is brilliant will recommend books to me. Nate’s been reading Love In The Time Of Cholera. We’re reading different things right now, but we’ve definitely gone back and forth. I got really in to this guy Phillip Larkin, some really dark stuff. T.S. Elliot is what I always go back to. He’s like a staple. Recently I was reading this book Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead by Strauss.

It’s all interviews with famous people he’s done over the last couple decades. It’s really well written. The way he crafts it together. It’s really fascinating how people deal with celebrity in different ways.

KM: In the process of collaborating, how different is it from Mt St. Helens? How has your process evolved?

 BV: It’s considerably different. Actually it’s a huge relief. You use a different part of your brain when you’re collaborating with someone. You have different sensitivities. With Mt. St. Helens, the concept, the body of the songs, every decision was mine. Now it’s more of a dialogue. So it becomes really interesting to be like, I wrote the riff inside this song, and he wrote the bridge of the song. It’s a totally fluid experience. People tend to be very protective of ideas. With Nate we shared things very early. It’s a really cool process. I actually learn so much from it. The songs when I listen back, it’s not just me. I get to listen to it like I would listen to other people’s music. It’s a different experience.

KM: So there’s no telling where one person’s contributions begin or end?

BV: Exactly. With the exception of a few songs we really couldn’t play them without each other very easily. Especially with the new songs we’ve been working on. They’re a really interesting blend of parts and they need each part to function.

KM: How long does that usually take?

BV: It’s quite different actually. Some songs we’d spend months on and then we’d come back. We’d shift parts around 20 times until we’d finally figure it out. Other songs it would be a couple weeks, some songs a couple days. Sometimes we’ll just go really hard for like ten hours and spend the next coupe weeks editing. This past weekend Nate was playing guitar, I was playing drums, that’s what we did all weekend. Play one song. The song’s pretty much done now so that’s pretty cool.

KM: How does this affect the recording process?

 BV: I feel like the basic structure is pretty set (live), but some of the details aren’t. I generally have to style my drum parts after what’s happening with the bass. But it just depends on the song. Sometimes it will make perfect sense to hammer it out the way we have it at the moment, but sometimes it will be very much an editing process. We’ll go back and snip something or move it around, I’ll play a different instrument over the top of it. With Everybody Knows we’d set up in the same room and we’d do it. We did the drums, guitar, and the vocal live, and then built around it. We’ll usually go back and listen to the mixes. I’ll call Nate or he’ll call me and we usually have the same feeling. We didn’t get it or just didn’t get it right, so we’ll go back and figure out what the song needs.

KM: The first two singles, Happiness and Rumi, were they the first two you ended up recording or were they simply the first you felt were ready to put out?


BV: Well we recorded the first group of songs at the same time. I think All the Kids, True Ones, Happiness, Rumi, and Everybody Knows. We did 3 different sessions early and then we went back and finished the record. But we basically we did groups of songs that we thought were done because we wanted to do seven inches (vinyl). We did these by feel and by season. All The Kids was sort of a summer or spring song. We have these intuitions and want to follow what makes sense and what feels good. These songs feel like what we want to say right now. Then in fall it’s like, Happiness and Rumi made a lot of sense. I don’t know how many bands do that but we just try and do what makes sense to us.


KM: The opening two tracks have a Mt. St. Helens edge to them. They’re fast and aggressive. How has your past work influenced the new stuff?

BV: It’s a hard to tell. We definitely go in these different phases where I feel like we’re dealing with different subject matter. It’s the mood. We’ll go into these modes where we’re really hung up on certain things. As far as Everybody Knows it’s a very aggressive song. It’s sort of influenced by protest music. There’s a sense of urgency about it. I guess I had a lot to do with some of the arrangement in that song. Our producer Ephriam Nagler had an active hand in the delays and stuff. We kinda lean into those moods really hard until we feel like we’ve hit it.


KM: What would you say is the overall theme of your album Even The Sun Will Burn?

 BV: I think that a lot of what we’ve noticed in retrospect, a few songs were a about change of one’s self and growing. Ideas on attachment and detachment run rampant within the record. Songs like Two Ones and Dependency are very in the context of how we attach and detach from people. Then you have these elements of drone warfare and how we’re attached to technology and the way that we’re no longer involved with war. Our phones and how we’re supposed to be attached with people all the time and are some how still left with this feeling like we can’t connect. I think that the record approaches these ideas from a bunch of different perspectives. If I had to pick one thing it would be the exploration of the self and how we are connecting to society.


KM: Having this view of detachment in regards to technology, what are you views on social media?

BV: I definitely use stuff. We’ve used Facebook, but for a long time we didn’t use anything mostly because we felt like we didn’t have anything to talk about. But once we started releasing things we used it. There’s not inherent evil or good in social media. It’s just a tool. The real caution with all of these things is how you connect with it. We use it as a tool. I don’t always want to be focusing on our web presence. That’s a sketchy territory I think.

KM: What led you guys to go with the Apocalypse Now vibe with the video for Everybody Knows?

BV: Nate and I were reading a lot of things in the New York Times about what was happening with drones in Yemen and Somalia, all over the place. Even here with the stupid shit you read about Amazon delivering your groceries. It’s just this phenomenon of this thing that’s changing our society. We were reading a lot about that subject and when I was doing research I found this clip from Vietnam. It’s this super 8 clip of these troops dancing on stage with Anne Margaret. It’s really short but it was so beautiful to me. There was this sense of joy. I knew these guys were going to go back out into this terrible circumstance but in that moment there was this feeling of joy and they were so happy. I sent it to the director and he was really into it and he was definitely a fan of Apocalypse Now.


KM: How did Macklemore get involved with that?

BV: Nate sang on a song on his album The Heist and they’ve been friends for years. When we were writing the concept for the video. I was looking at these videos with Bob Hope, and we wanted this Bob Hope figure and Ben (Macklemore) was the first person who came to mind. It really kind of fit with some of the meaning behind this figure that people identify with. Ben’s vibe and just knowing him and what he represents to people was really positive.

KM: Do you think with Macklemore’s success that the focus on Seattle music will be shifting from rock to hip-hop?

BV: He’s helped broaden the focus. Nirvana is obviously in the bigger scope. They sold more records and are historically more important at this point as far as what people know. I think it’s really good. To have bands like Modest Mouse and Death Cab and these quintessential indie bands that have sold records. They broaden the template. That gets more exposure for other really talented people. I think it’s a really rich community. It’s really rare that a city can have the infrastructure and diversity to break bands like Fleet Foxes and then Macklemore, Kingdom Crumbs, Raz Simone, or whoever gets that notoriety.

KM: Are you planning any touring for the record?

BV: We have some festivals lined up. Next Wednesday we are playing Portland, then down to San Francisco, LA and Albuquerque, then Denver, Salt Lake, and Spokane on the way back. Then hopefully in June we will be hopping on other tours. Our plan is to be on tour most of the year. Just really get out there and connect with the people and share the music.

The Album is Even The Sun Will Burn is out now.

Big hugs,








#AOTW- The Hood Internet

I have a girlfriend now. It’s weird. Well not weird, just different. After being alone for so long, you forget what it means to really get to know someone of the opposite sex. Sure you have the casual conversations with women in your day-to-day life, but that’s just surface level talk but nothing like that of when realize you could see yourself spending a good portion of your future with a person.

I’m now at the point in the relationship when you really start to notice differences. Differences that get glossed over initially but then come to light once the initial excitement settles. The most glaring difference is our musical taste. While mine skews more toward blues, folk, and 90’s gangster rap, the lady generally finds herself swimming in the sugary sweet sounds of modern pop. All day. Every day. If I come home and she’s having a one woman dance party belting Beyoncé at the top of her lungs, I’m not surprised at all. I like it though. She has a brilliant happiness within her that I will never be able to match. It’s just modern pop is just not a genre I’m interested in. It’s been that way for a long time. I think I jumped ship after they decided to remove all real instruments from the songs. I felt that was a good time to tune out.

Despite my abhorrent feelings towards the genre she loves, she seems determined to find music that we will both like. So far it hasn’t worked out that well. She sends artists and I listen and then feel like a dick when I have to tell her that I’m not exactly a huge fan. It’s no fault of hers’. It’s not like she has bad taste, she’s sending things that are quite popular, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around them. I’m just a picky bastard though. That’s what it boils down to.

Recently she sent me St. Vincent’s new album. And it’s fine. it just lacks a certain umph that I look for. It’s well crafted and cleanly polished; it just doesn’t do it for me. Then this morning I woke up and saw one of my favorite artists had gone and remixed the St. Vincent track Digital Witness. Digital Witness on it’s own is a fine pop track. But it was now enhanced with the lyrics of Humpty and the Digital Underground’s classic Humpty Dance…that’s next level shit right there.


Who would have thought that these two things would go together oh so very well? The Hood Internet, that’s who. It just so happens that they are this week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK.

THI031401-1The Hood Internet is comprised of Aaron (ABX) and Steve Reidell (STV SLV). The two settled in Chicago and began collaborating on music in 2007. As they began crafting songs constructed from popular indie tracks and hip-hop, they realized they needed a platform to launch them. To do so they started the blog The Hood Internet. Soon thousands were downloading their tracks.


They also started the blog Album Tacos featuring iconic album covers with tacos photoshopped into them. That has nothing to do with their music, but is hilarious.


The first track I ever heard from them was their mash up Two Weeks of Hip Hop (Dead Prez & Grizzly Bear) in 2009. Really it’s just a straight forward mix of Grizzly Bear’s instrumentals with Dead Prez doing their hit Hip-Hop. It’s an interesting blend. Dead Prez’s original version of Hip Hop has the heavy bass blasting underneath their politically charged lyrics, where as the mashup featured the indie back drop, dulls the edge. It’s not any worse off. It just opens the words up to appeal to a completely different audience.


They did the exact same thing with their track Good Ol’ Fashion Rump Shaker blending the wildn’ out Beastie Boys with the painfully cute Matt & Kim. I think it works. Matt & Kim finally become tolerable.


It just dawned on me here and now that I can’t stand Matt & Kim’s actual songs but when they get sampled for him hop tracks it’s always pretty sweet. See here


Speaking of making weak shit cool, their track Genesis Squared made Phil Collins relevant for the first time since South Park trashed him in 2000 with their episode Timmy 2000.


Since 2007 The Hood Internet has been a tour de force. 10 mixtapes, a Studio record titled FEAT, a remix of that record, consistently releasing tracks on their blog, all while touring the globe. Busy guys.


Sure, maybe the new lady and I will never see eye to eye on music. There are few artists we can agree on, but for the most part she will blast the electro dance and pop, and I’ll remember way too many numetal lyrics while pontificating about delta blues. But I’m okay with that. It’s not all about music guys. There’s more to people than what type of media they consume. Plus, there is always the hope that The Hood Internet will come together and make a Katy Perry vs. NWA mash that we can really come together on.


Big Hugs,









#AOTW LEGEND: The Presidents of The United States of America

They say you only regret the things you don’t do. I call bullshit. That’s your Dad’s version of YOLO. I’m willing to bet your Dad has a shit load of things he wishes he didn’t do, most notably have a secret Canadian family or banging the hooker outside of Bangkok while traveling abroad with his frat bros from Sigma Moo. Those warts that pop up twice a year are probably a reminder of something he wishes HE DID NOT DO. I’m constantly regretting things I do or have done meanwhile rarely do I regret skipping out on a friend’ s suicidal weekend plans.

large_presidents_United_StatesThe are things that I wish I had done though. I am not without fault. One involves this week’s band. When I was working at a bar in college. I was dead broke and given the opportunity to go see The Presidents of The United States of America. I knew I wanted to go to the show but I had no cash and knew that I could pick up a double shift at work and put myself in the black for the first time in months. Sadly I declined the ticket. Two friends that did end up going to the show were kind enough to pick up a T-Shirt for me. I was thankful sure, but it remains a constant reminder to me that I didn’t see one of the most influential bands of my youth. They got lifetime memories. I got a ringer T. When you look at it like that it doesn’t seem like making an extra $200 was worth. POTUSA was a rock band that stood for fun. Their jams moved fast and their lyrics were hilarious. That ‘s why they are this week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK: LEGEND.

In the 90’s while much of the Pacific Northwest was shrouded in the squealing feed back of grunge there was another Seattle rock band that was more about hangin’ and having a good time than fighting as the proletariat against the on coming swill of society. I’m not sure what that last bit means but it sounds like something a 25 year old Kurt Cobain would have said that many would have considered deep and prophetic. In 1993 The Presidents of The United States of America formed with lead bassist/ vocalist Chris Ballew along with basstarist Dave Dederer and drummer Andrew McKagan . As a kid I needed that to balance out the gangster rap and Nevermind. They were tunes that everyone could be on board with. The music never took itself too seriously which is what makes it so easy to love.

Their first record, a self-titled, was recorded and released in 1994. The debut record featured such notable hits as



and my favorite, the lesser known Stranger.

These were the songs I would play as a kid when I wanted to kick it up a notch. This was the 10 year old me equivalent to Andrew W.K. Music that signified nothing more than a party.

Their follow up album II was released in 1996. When you look back you can see that the band did not stop touring from the release of their first album in 1994 until 1997. The fact that they even found the time to record a second album is amazing. These fellas were big time road dogs until lead singer Ballew got married and started a family.

The band was making a living, playing sold out shows all over the world and then it abruptly came to an end. Ballew PUSOAhad had decided, rather than continue on with the rock and roll lifestyle, hang it up and spend more time back in his Seattle home with those that he loved the most. He walked out at the peak. As a kid I was upset by this fact and really couldn’t find a way to let it go. This is why no one takes 11 year olds seriously. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Now as an older guy who rarely gets to see his own family, I get it. On the road over 200 days a year is the grind of grinds. At some point the body and the mind are just going to tell you: STOP DUDE. The band disbanded in 1998.

1998 would not be the end of music from the guys however. After the break up the band released a third album titled Pure Frosting. It was a mix of new songs, unreleased tracks, covers, and live takes. This was the farewell letter to the fans. It’s a great record. The live version of Back Porch alone makes it totally worth it.

Not being together didn’t stop the guys from making music on their own.  Ballew created tunes with both The Giraffes and The Tycoons while Dederer joined up with Duff McKagan on The Gentlemen and Loaded.

The band reformed briefly in 2001 only to break up again. That break up didn’t stick either and the band reformed fully in 2004 and have been making music on and off together ever since. This past week they released their latest full length, 20 years since their initial effort. I wish I could write about it here and now but I haven’t listened to it YET. I’d love to hear what you guys think, Check out Kudos to You! and let’s get a discussion going. They check out the rest of their catalogue. It’s very worth it.

Big Hugs,









The other day I was watching an episode of the Sopranos. I heard a song that I hadn’t heard in years. The song kinks-resizeblasted through the Bada Bing as the Bing girls AKA “The Most Lethargic Strippers in History”, wiped down the poles. I knew I had heard the song before but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It had the classic rock vibe but I couldn’t attribute it to any of the heavy hitters that I’d come to attribute with “strip club” rock. So what do you do in these types of situations? You turn to Google. That oh so comfortable security blanket that is there for us not so much hardcore research. Mostly for ending stupid arguments at bar tables over either who starred in Jungle 2 Jungle or when Ace of Bass got together. Turned out the song that I couldn’t shake was in fact Living On A Thing Line by The Kinks. The song got me thinking. I grew up listening to a lot of The Kinks, but I’ll be damned if it sounded anything like this. The guys had some serious talent and some serious range. I love these guys and that’s why were are taking a moment to salute them with this week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK: LEGEND segment. Here we go. The Kinks.

The Kinks jumped onto the scene in the early 60’s. The original lineup consisted of the Davies brothers, Dave and Ray, along with their friends Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. At that time the guys were riding the wave of the British Invasion. Brit pop was hitting it’s peak with the Beatles. Their first real success was seen with their 3rd  and 4th singles You Really Got Me and All Day and All of The Night.




It was those two songs that really spawned my love for dirty, simplistic garage rock. This was the band that turned me on to groups like, Cheeseburger, The Strokes, and The White Stripes. It had a soul to it. There was power behind sound that I thought was missing from most music. Big thing to realize is thesKinks-01e songs were from the early 60’s. This wasn’t exactly a time of aggression in music. But there is the beginning of punk on those records. Many metal/rock bands contribute the Kinks as heavy influences and you can definitely hear what they mean.


While these songs were fast paced and aggressive over the years we saw that The Kinks also had a sense of humor. They could slow it down and make songs with the British tongue in cheek that most people have come to know. Songs like Lola, a poppy ballad about meeting a lovely lady in a bar who turns out not to be a lady at all.



Then one of my favorites Ape Man, a lovely satire about abandoning human society and rejoining the jungle.



Even with all the tongue and cheek and early punk incantations they branch out yet again with their poppier tracks like Victoria, Well Respected Man, and Sunny Afternoon.




To cap it all off they recorded the greatest Christmas song of all time, Father Christmas.


I realize most of the time I write legendary segments they are dedicated to history, and The Kinks certainly have a very tumultuous one, but I didn’t want to do that here today. The line up changed over time, sure, but the core stayed the same. I didn’t want to get into the infighting or which Brit band overshadowed which. All I want is for all of you to kick back, and listen to some god damn Kinks songs. Their style is timeless.

Big Hugs,







#AOTW- Smith and Weeden

I write about music for this site. I like music sure, but truth be told, when I’m riding alone in my car, stuck in traffic, for hours on end, all within the hell hole that is Los Angeles, I’m usually not listening to tunes. No sir. I’ve been a podcast guy since 2007. Talk just makes the commute go by faster. I dig the exchange of ideas maaaaan. One of my favorites podcasts is The Film Vault featuring Loveline engineer Anderson Cowan and The Adam Carolla Show sidekick “Bald” Bryan Bishop. I love that show. Every Friday I settle in and listen to two guys who, like me, are obsessed with movies. Their dynamic is great, Anderson digs the more artfully done stuff, while Bryan is more oriented toward the action pack monstrosities like Transformer series.


SEL_0590It just works. They touch briefly on new movies but mostly talk about unsung favorites. They introduce me to stuff I would have never heard of or ever thought to consider. They do that not only with movies, but music as well. Every week, they fade into their commercial breaks with a “featured artist” to expose the listeners to new tunes. This past week I was listening, and it happened to be a band where I had seen their name often, yet never heard the music. Then it hit me. Every time Deer Tick was back in Rhode Island, their name was popping up on Twitter. Seems these guys know each other and will occasionally play shows together. Anderson and Bryan shared them with me, so now I’m sharing them with you. This Week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK: SMITH & WEEDEN.


Smith & Weeden formed up in 2007 after Jesse Emmanuel Smith and Seamus Weeden met while working at Whole Foods. The two played together for a while under the name King Falcon but then separated as Weeden moved to Austin and Smith to Rhode Island. After two years apart they reunited at the SXSW festival in 2011. There they met1375120_687857804566179_1798446790_n up with fellow Rhode Island band MOGA. The two stayed with the group during the festival, in fact, they recorded their only EP in their rental house. Smith and Weeden were born.


The EP is fantastic. It’s Delta Spirit meets Old Crow Medicine Show. While the EP is only six songs, it covers a vast spectrum. Opening with somber tracks Drinking Through Some Problems and Angeline.



Closing withe more up beat tracks like Playin’ A Part and Take a Train which really capture the Americana sound of the early 60’s/ 70’s folk rock vibe. Hell you might even find a hint of CCR in there.


The final track Just Call encapsulates loneliness pretty perfectly.


This past December they put together a Kickstarter to aid in the release of their first full-length album. They are going MC5 style making their debut album in front of a live audience. On a personal note, I love this. Nothing sets the tone like a live record. You get the energy from the crowd, the band is giving it their all because they know it’s getting recorded. Gotta be on point. There’s really nothing like it. You can check out the trailer for the Kickstarter here.




The album will be released in 2014 but it’s undetermined exactly when in 2014 that will be. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later because I can’t wait to hear more from these fellas. They got a good vibe that I can get behind.

ALSO: check out the Film Vault. Great show. http://tfvpodcast.wordpress.com


Big Hugs,









#AOTW- Nelson Can

You guys ever get sucked into a Youtube Wormhole? If you’re unaware, a Youtube Wormhole is when you set out to watch just one video but then end up watching thousands. It happens when a clip ends and then Youtube gives you about two-dozen other videos that are in some way related to the one you just watched. You find yourself clicking them. Next thing ya know you can’t stop clicking. What began as a two-minute break to watch a guy fall down some stairs, turns into 4 hours of watching Dads get kicked in the dick. That my friends, is a Youtube Wormhole. In college while studying for finals, my roommate and I would find ourselves working hard, only to be side tracked by a barrage of kid fights and car crash videos. You may think that watching little kids punch each other is barbaric, but it’s also supremely entertaining. You should try it. Kids are idiots and they can’t fight. Youtube Wormholes aren’t just for violence and comedy. When used properly they can propel you towards bands and music you would have never encountered if not for whatever magic brings those links up.

nelson-canI recently went on one of these music voyages while looking for an artist to write about this week. Going from music video to music video, trying to find something that was even remotely inspiring. Finally I landed on what can only be described as one of the worst DIY music videos I’ve ever seen. Visually I was bummed. But the music was rad. Hands down the most fun chick band dance rock I’d heard in a while. I continued down the tube and found more of their tunes and much more visually stimulating vids. I was in the Wormhole. It got me, and it got me good. This week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Nelson Can. Here’s the first track I heard of theirs Apple Pie. The jam is great.



Nelson Can is a band made up of some badass Danish broads that formed together back in 2011. They are Selina nelsoncan-grp1-xl-cc-0113-petersvendsenGin on lead vocals, Maria Juntunen on drums and back up vocals, and finally Signe Signesigne on bass and vocals. The first thing I noticed about this crew is they don’t have anyone playing guitar. My buddy Mike Clair always says, “If there ain’t any guitars, then I don’t want to hear it.” That dude is missing out. One of my other favorite groups of all time, Death From Above 1979, also features the stripped down bass/ drums set up. These two bands prove, that’s really all ya need. The power of the sound they create from relatively nothing is incredible. The bass throbs; the drums pulse, and the vocals from all three of these ladies are impressive as all get out. They had their first releases come out in 2011 but they were unavailable in the US. They released 3 total EPs (Nelson Can, The Freudian Slip, and Echo Me). AMERICAN iTunes was kind enough to make a compilation of these EPs for all of us to enjoy. One of my favorite tracks comes off their self-titled, it’s called Do You Really Wanna Get Rid of Me.


Their songs surge forward at a breakneck speed that then slam into really damned catchy hooks. This compellation is a great mix of their stuff and really shows their skill as musicians. While their early tunes are great it’s the new ones that have me most excited. Their newest singles Attack and Call Me When You Wanna Get Laid are phenomenal. Attack has a distinct Dead Weather vibe which makes a lot of sense. These girls can fucking wail.



Call Me When You Wanna Get Laid’s riffs have a sound a lot like another femme fronted band, The Heartless Bastards, but where the bastards tend to take a more eased back approach, Nelson comes at the listener with an edge.


Get down with this lady crew early. They’re already playing the Euro festivals. It’s only a matter of time before the US tours start. All you guys who got hated on for jumping on the Haim ship late, don’t let it happen again. Rock out to these dance rock tracks early and often. You won’t regret it for a single second.


Big Hugs,



Nelson Can







#AOTW- Milky Chance

Well hey there everyone!!!! How fat do we all feel post-holiday season full of stuffing ourselves with roast beast and figgy pudding? For me the answer is “quite fat”. It’s 2014. That’s coming up on 10 years since high school. That’s a weird thing. Also realizing that I might need glasses. Total bummer. Enough about my woes, let’s get into it. It’s a new year so let’s start it off by getting goofy. I’ve found a band. They are good. Big issue with them: every fucking interview I try to watch has them speaking German. Where do they get off? Being all German, who do they think they are?

Sometimes if you’re speaking French or maybe a little Spanish, I can slow things down and kind of understand, but German…no way. Not a chance in hell. How was I supposed to know? The whole album is in English.

b300x225Last time this happened to me was when Phoenix (French) went and recorded a great record in English. That basically shot them to the top of the charts worldwide. Savvy business move by them frogs. How you gonna make it big if the Tweens in Sacramento haven’t the darndest idea what you’re singing about. I’m assuming the debut album from this week’s ARTIST OF THE WEEK was done under the same pretenses of “If we speak it in English the dullards in America (GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD) will jump on board”. THIS WEEK’S ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Milky Chance.

Milky Chance is a German based duo comprised of Singer/ Songwriter Clemens Rehbein on vocals and guitars with Philipp Dausch accompanying him…on DJ? As a DJ? Yeah as a DJ.

An odd duo combo but in this day and age I feel like everyone has a DJ. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of DJing going on here though. Homeboy is just playing some loops and samples to go along with Clemens’ guitar and vocals. Their songs blend a mix of folk and pop with accents of electronic every now and again. I consider them to be a less poppy Citizen Cope or more electro G. Love & The Special Sauce. I may be dating myself with those references but it doesn’t matter. The music is danceable. If you’re a white chick that’s kinda stoned you’re gonna prolly dance your face off. Not really hard dancing. Mostly that “standing and swaying” thing you guys do. Bottom line, Milky Chance is pretty fun and laid back. Let’s start with my favorite song of theirs Flash Junk Mind.

His voice is a bit mumbly as he flows through his lyrics. Reminds me of that Weird Al line where he makes fun of Kurt Cobain for not singing coherently.Milky_Chance1

“It’s hard to bargle nawdle zouss

With all these marbles in my mouth”.

The melody is simplistic for sure, the mellow guitar with plucking and that lil’ electro backing beat paired together is pretty damn nice. Simple. Simple is good. I like simple. Sheet cake is simple and it’s delicious. A cheeseburger is perfect. That shit is simple as hell. That doesn’t keep it from being any less enjoyable that some Veal Oscar.

Many of the songs have a distinct reggae vibe. Normally I’m not a huge ‘ggae guy but I’m willing to make some exceptions. Usually it’s in the realm of Toot’s and the Maytals, Bob Marley, or Fat Freddy’s Drop. Those are some crews that take reggae tunes to a new level. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and call this “next level” but it definitely has something that you will find yourself bobbing your head to. Here’s Stolen Dance.


We are gonna close out with one of their party songs. Guy is totally mush mouthed on this track but I can’t stop listening to it. Maybe we will never hear from these guys after this album, but who cares. They’re racking up Facebook likes and youtube views so maybe there will be more. Here’s Sweet Sun. I listen to this song and can’t believe he’s not a stoner from Philly. He’s some dude from Deutschland. Weird world. Enjoy!



Big Hugs,








#AOTW- Neutral Milk Hotel

It took me a long time to find someone who could cut my hair right. In my early 20’s I avoided cuts like they were the plague. While in college my move was to throw a ragged Red Sox hat atop the ugly mop that cascaded from my skull to keep it out of sight and out of mind. It wasn’t until I started dating a hair dresser 10 years my senior did I realize that a good trim is a necessity to good hygiene. Undoubtedly this relationship soon went south.

Being a 22 year old jackass, I thought it would be totally okay to continue hitting her up for free haircuts. Why wouldn’t it be? Why wouldn’t she still be down to do me continuous favors after I left her high and dry with no good explanation? She couldn’t possibly be holding a grudge right?

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Ladies and gentlemen, that’s how you unknowingly end up with a mullet.


I went in for my cut, she cleaned up the sides, cropped the top, but unbeknownst to me, she left that back water-falling. After that happened, I had a really hard time trusting anyone near my follicles. Mullet me once, shame on me. Mullet it me two times, I’m just an asshole looking to get a mullet


So continued my habit of going months at a time without a chop. Sure I tried different spots. Floyd’s 62, an establishment operated by heavyset chicks with purple hair and daddy issues, was my first move. Not only did I never get a good cut but each mediocre effort was followed by a uncomfortable “massage” occurrence. I’m already uncomfortable with people touching my hair, I certainly don’t want a stranger going all shiatsu on my shoulder blades. Especially after listening to them complain how their baby daddy needs to step up to the plate or his visitation rights are going the way of the Dodo. They’re big on the over share at Floyd’s. Then there was Super Cuts. What can you say about a place that charges $7 for a visit?


JeffMangum-2012-GreenwellIt took me three years to finally find Rudy’s. There I met Casey. He had the haircut I wanted so I just told him, “give me what you’ve got.” I was in and out in 10 minutes. I left looking fantastic. I had six cuts with the man. Then he left me. He left me for the big city and big dreams of New York. During all of those cuts there were three topics we hit on: baseball, football, and Neutral Milk Hotel. This one’s for you Casey. This Week’s Artist of The Week: Neutral Milk Hotel.


Formed in the early 90’s Neutral Milk Hotel was the brainchild of lead singer/ guitarist/ composer Jeff Mangum. The then unemployed Mangum spent his days traveling the county, crashing on couches, and playing music. He released a series of demos and one-off cassettes under the moniker Milk. Many were circulated without any official release back and have now become coveted collectors items.


These cassettes like Mangum himself were complex, erratic, and oftenNeutral+Milk+Hotel beautiful. Not only do they feature early tracks from a man that would become an icon, but also a varying array of strange experimental soundscapes, as well as :59 second interludes of screaming over muffled music. These demos give an idea of the what was to come from Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel.


The first official release from Neutral Milk Hotel titled On Avery Island came in 1996. This album featured Mangum backed by a collection of fellow Elephant 6 Label musicians brought in for studio work. The album is…strange. It’s not quite indie-rock. It’s not quite folk rock. It’s not all out experimental. It’s a mash up. There are upbeat rock tracks like Gardenhead/ Leave Me Alone.


Heart breaking folk songs that push the listener to tears like April 8th


and insane experimental instrumentals like Pree Sisters Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye



For Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island was like the first round of a boxing match. Feeling things out. Finding out what works and what doesn’t. Never fully commits to one sound. This at times can cause the record to feel a bit disjointed. Not as much an album, more of a mix tape. The one constant throughout though are his lyrics. His words are poetic and vivid. In the realm of 90’s lyricists, I lump him with Cobain in that, often times the words on their own don’t seem to make sense but when strung music-tapestogether in song, they are powerfully moving. After the release Mangum found the permanent members that would come to make up Neutral Milk Hotel, Scott Spillane, Jeremy Barnes, and Julian Koster. Despite the addition of backing, the band was and always will be Jeff Mangum’s alone.


Two years later they released the critically acclaimed In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It was inspired by the story of Anne Frank, written by Mangum after having recurring dreams about WWII. The record takes everything that worked on Avery Island and expands upon it. This is a true album. The songs flow succinctly one after another in a perfect stream, rising and falling, taking the listener on a wondrous 40-minute ride. The opening track King Of Carrot Flowers Part 1 sucks you in right of the bat. Mangum’s vocal style is unique and draws you in with its’ undeniable vulnerability. There’s an audible strain in his voice that makes the subject matter hit home that much harder.

The arraignments and instrumentation on the album are intricate and lovely. There are so many background sounds going on that the subtle nuances heard by simply putting on a pair of headphones, as opposed to a set of speakers, is astounding. My favorite track on the record is the up-beat and chaotic Anne Frank shout out Holland, 1945. It’s one of the saddest songs I know, but when the band starts up, I can’t help but feel the need to dance.


I recommend everyone sit down, imbibe a substance or two, and listen to Aeroplane all the way through. This was a very important album to a young Kelly McD, as well as many popular indie bands that we know today (Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Bon Iver). They recently reissued the record with an accompanying book with words from these very artists that you can pick up on Amazon. Do it.


neutral_milk_hotelThe band went on a yearlong worldwide tour with Aeroplane. That can be grueling on anyone, especially if you tend to have a more fragile personality, which Mangum defiantly has. They played their last show in October of 1998. Maybe it was the fame, maybe it was the touring, perhaps it was the media, whatever it was, Mangum had a break down. Something sent Jeff Mangum into the shadows and he took Neutral Milk Hotel with him. The group disbanded in 1998. For the most part Mangum has stayed out of the limelight returning to the stage sparingly, usually only to promote various charities. Mangum is often asked about making another album, but has given no indication that it will ever happen. Outside of a few bar gigs here and there, his only big appearance in the past 15 years came in 2012 when he appeared at the Coachella Music Festival. It seems odd for a guy who hates big crowds, phony media persona’s, and being in the spot light, to have his first big show at a music festival attended by 150,000 people that are generally some of the biggest ass bags in Southern California. I’m just saying man, baby steps. Plus it’s very hot there.


That said this band is one of my favorites of all time. Maybe Mangum flew too close to the sun and lost both his wings and his mind. That’s okay. He’s got two albums in his back pocket, one of which is considered by many to be the most influential indie-rock album of the past 20 years. He doesn’t need to make more music. He’s done that. Now he can go cobble shoes somewhere like he’s Daniel Day Lewis or something.


Check them out. Great band. Great songs. Party on.


Big Hugs,









This past fall I started a new job. It was my first step up in the TV industry beyond the position of gopher. It was an exciting moment finding out that I was finally getting a shot to have some responsibilities beyond that of grabbing lunch from whichever shitty Thai place had been dubbed the “it” spot of the week. My hours were long before, but it was a different kind of long. It was a grind. Early calls, busy work, and long periods of nothing that would casually be interrupted by paperwork that was so boring I would wish to be shrunken down by a stroke just so I could leave the office.


Now it’s different. It’s high stress, high pressure, and longer days that end not when the work is done but when the boss man decides he is tired enough to go home and just pass out. The problem is, before the work was mind-numbingly boring. I would go home and not think about it. Now I go home feeling terrified. Is someone gonna call? Is everything all set for tomorrow? Am I completely incompetent? My brain can never turn off.


Before it was just dogs barking in my head, now I’ve got real worries. That wears on a man.  My point is when I get home it’s starting to take more and more to zone out. I need the aid not only of alcohol but music.


That’s a tough pill for me to swallow. Usually  I don’t want music bringing me down. I want it boosting me up. I want that party kick to the face, jump up and fight, eardrum-blasting bass, that I know and love. But that’s not what the body’s calling for these days. I need the come down. I need that one last blast…wait, no, that’s not me. That’s from The Wire I think. Sorry. I’ve been watching a lot of The Wire.


300x300EmmaDavis1This week is the artist I’ve been listening to in those moments of needing a come down. This UK born Aussie lady has a sweet voice and minimal arrangements that make up my current grown man lullabies. It’s like a stripped down Lilly Allen ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Emma Davis. Here is her single Feel A Thing. It makes me want to kick back and relax with some coco. If you have snow where you are, listen to this. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Here is Feel A Thing.


Tracking down info on this lady has been near impossible, which is an oddity in the age of the Internet. Usually you Google someone and you can find at least some dirt. If you go back far enough with my name you can read an interview I gave the generic viagra price University of Arizona’s student newspaper while drunk outside of my dorm building.  Yet Emma Davis is apparently an angel voiced anomaly who has been able to avoid making a digital footprint beyond a few record reviews and a Facebook page. I like that though. She can create these perfect songs in peace. Her only album, a self titled from 2010, is really special. It’s got me all calm and what not, as opposed to my usually rambling self. I only found it recently but I have been enjoying it immensely. This track titled machines is paired with an adorable music vid.


What I really like about this music is it really encapsulates a new feeling that I’ve been getting lately. It’s been dubbed “happy-sad”. It’s pretty new-artist-emma-davis-1380300669self-explanatory. It’s something I’d never experienced before but low and behold, over worked and over tired, with cool new stuff happening all around me; a guy who normally gets down to screaming “party till you puke” right along with Andrew WK, is now wrapped in a quilt, attempting to “unwind”. Maybe I’m growing up. More likely I’m turning into a big old softie. Cue up the Emma Davis and fuck the coco. Pour me a scotch. I’m ready to relax.

Big Hugs,









I’m not good at meeting famous people. It just never goes well. I freeze. It’s the rare occasion where I find myself not having anything to say. I’ve always been of the ilk that you should never meet your heroes. You build these people up so much in your mind that the only thing that can come from a face to face with your idol is sheer disappointment.


I had that when I met a former Boston Red Sox Pitcher. He used to come into the bar that I worked at in Boston. Back in 2007 he was the biggest deal. A god of sorts. He was unhittable. So when he came to the bar I squealed like an 8 year old girl. I avoided him though. Avoiding him was the right choice. He was curt, obnoxious…a real all around dick. It sucked.


It wasn’t just that one time either, when I moved to Hollywood I met a bunch of actors that I had respected. Them too, grade-A assholes. It really bummed me out. I was at the point where I didn’t want to meet anyone whose work I respected. For years now I’ve avoided wholesale paxil it. But sometimes I just gots to say hey.


If you ever really feel the need, keep it short, keep it simple, and end the conversation yourself. Never over stay your welcome. This method has come in handy so that:

1. I don’t embarrass myself.

2. I don’t give that person a reason to hate me.


I bring this up because this past weekend I got to meet my favorite musician. I’ve written about every single one of his bands here on this website. That man is John McCauley. He’s fronted Deer Tick, Middle Brother, and now Diamond Rugs.


I saw Deer Tick again this past weekend at their Troubadour show.  Like every other show, they were incredible. But the big difference this time was that McCauley who usually a wave of party, was more reserved. He arrived on stage in a floral suit jacket and slacks, and just went into it. He casually sipped a few Budweisers throughout.


At one point the band left the stage and McCauley sat alone at his piano. There he played the devastatingly somber Goodbye, Dear Friend. I had a flashback to when I first started listening to that Black Dirt Sessionsrecord. It was a dark time of my life. My dad had just passed away. I was drinking too much. My girlfriend of three years threw me out and started fucking a dude I was friends with in college. It was pretty cool.


A few years back I couldn’t get through that song without feeling like I was on the verge of tears. But that night, I stood there listening and I was filled with warmth. I’d come a long way. McCauley’s voice poured over the audience. I took that moment to look around. No one moved. No one breathed. This song that once pushed me to the maddening points of depression now had me taking stock. I was seeing my favorite band, with some of my best friends, I had no worries. It was beautiful.


After two full hours of performing, McCauley announced that he and the band would be out front after the show. I was caught in a horrible dilemma. Do I chance meeting my favorite musician and making a fool of myself, or do I walk away and miss out. We stayed. We bought posters. We drank a Budwiser, and then McCauley walked in. He was quiet, unassuming, and friendly. After waiting for six women to all take photos with each other’s cell phones, it was finally my chance. All I could say was “Great show. I’ve listened to you forever. Could we get a picture.”


photo-6He warbled out, “Of course I’ll take a photo. Everybody get in here. I’m gonna stick my finger up your nose.” The nose in question belonged to our friend Stella. We all gathered around, and then McCauley proceeded to stick his finger up Stella’s nose. This is where my “keep it short” plan fell flat.


Apparently the dipshit taking the picture, I had never used an iPhone before. So he just stood there hitting the button, never saying he’d taken anything. So we are left standing there holding this pose for a full minute. It was my nightmare. But the dude was cool. Signed my poster. Took the pic. Didn’t call me an asshole. That’s win, win, win. Sure I’ve written about McCauley before, but this is the legend series. While not everyone knows Tick and McCauley, his music means a lot to me. In my eyes this man is legend to me. Check the stuff out at the bottom and he will most likely become a legend to you as well.


Check out his live acoustic set from this year’s Newport Folk Fest Here:



Check out and download their live In Utero performance here:


Big Hugs,