When I think about the comics I’ve illustrated, the stories and the songs I’ve written, and even the girls I dated; I wonder how the Hell I pulled it off. Then I see Eli Raybon’s fearless imaginative energy set to music and know it was my unrestrained youth that made all of that possible. Continue reading
Ajay Mathur’s 9 to 3 is a thoroughly enjoyable album.
I like it because this guy is like me, other than making music, he can’t seem to commit to one thing. He’s like a madman in that he’s all over the place.
That’s not to say that this madman is a genius. I don’t think even a genius would take the label, which is a “genius” thing to do.
No, Ajay is genuinely having a hell of a great time making music and boy does he know his music styles!
I’ve had my share of the coffee house music scene which is a culture within itself. It’s kitschy, modest, stripped down; a little Jason Mraz or Trout Fishing In America which is what I compare this too because I think it draws the same crowds, or maybe the more adventurous margarita crowd, if you know what I mean.
The thing about Mathur is that he shows there are no rules. The man throws everything and anything he wants in the mix, kind of like what I do with my laundry. You throw everything in there so there’s a big clothes party, right? We don’t separate things here.
Walking On The Water is a standard title and it’s one of the two opening tracks which balance between country and Americana. His vocals sometimes have that late era Bowie feel to it after about 2:35.
Even though the first two track on this album snap right into the genres they’re performed for, the changes within the songs sometimes feel like he’s forcing two different songs that don’t work together to fit.
But as he said in a interview with MusicPerk:
My song writing process is almost always the same; first the melody. When I get a melody in my head it almost always comes with the theme of the song lyrics, sometimes even with big chunks of the verse and the chorus lyrics. What happens next is that I try not to record, write or save the melody straight away, but let it rest for a couple of days. If the melody sticks in my head for those couple of days, then I know that this could be a song.
And he’s totally right. Those changes begin to sound natural after repeated listens and I know longer know that there was anything off to begin with, and if the interview is steering me in the right direction, then it seems pretty obvious to me he knows he only has to alter the keys one or two notes in either direction to make the songs more interesting.
Ajay then switches to hard rock on Nothing Really Matters with a dexterous guitar solo that were it in a higher octave, it could have been wailing hair metal style.
But then… THEN! This fuck’n guy goes right for loungy with the fourth track, Latin Lovers with maracas, sultry island steel guitar and background singers! You’d think it was a bit of a joke and who knows, maybe it is but there’s no hint of a dull moment.
I LOVE IT!
I just had to take a break at this point, it was just too much for me to handle. And I STILL HAVE ELEVEN SONGS LEFT!
Check out the track I Mantra where he lays it on really thick with the sitar and tablas. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s got great knowledge about music styles, I’d think he was holding those instruments hostage so that we could like this stuff. That’s the fight I’m having before he starts rapping, yes rapping, and using the work fuck and I’m almost throwing my hands up in the air.
Ajay is a lot like Harold And The Purple Crayon where he can draw himself out of any ordeal, you can’t corner this guy at all. In case you didn’t click the link I suggested for this comparison, he’s like Bugs Bunny and I’m Elmer Fudd.
To put things in perspective, Ajay was born in India and spent a lot of time in the music scene there. No doubt with more than just native local influences, there’s Western stuff here too or if you prefer a shorter route, to his East.
He really lets the sitar style guitar playing stand out in the fifth track Oh Angel, which changes the direction of the album once again and the arrangements are spot on.
This makes a difference to me because as a “ethnic” guy, I understand the importance of owning a culture and being able to display profoundly. That’s when I really started to pay attention. I’d put him in league with Freddy Fender or any other of Tex-Mex legends around here.
Again, there’s nothing confining Ajay to a specific form. He even goes as far as to use a chorus of children singing in the background and if he feels it, loops them saying S.O.S while voices speak and mumble on a nearby radio.
That’s only covering the first half of this album. The rest of it has even more of a story to tell because you’re still up for some serious surprises, like for all you Beatles fanatics out there, he taps into that too. Love Madness is Americana cool with a good case of the blues. The lyrics are pretty straightforward where at the most, the analogous references are broad and whimsical.
I find his work refreshing with its going back to basics and challenging the way he makes me all weird with where he’s going. Totally caught me off guard, bravo Ajay. Well-played sir, well-played.
Keep on this guy and don’t let him out of your sites by checking out his:
It was a warm summer night. I had just finished teaching my mom how to fill out an application using my computer and that Dallas was a city, not a state. I would have thought she knew that already, since she just became an American citizen and took months learning these things.
But she made it a point to dump everything she forced herself to learn for that exam along with other basic knowledge. Currently, I’m not sure what’s missing from her memory and am on edge not knowing whether I’m going to have to teach her how to use the remote control again or in which direction doors open. Continue reading
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When I started putting shows together again last year, the sounds of this Garland band fell on my ears with their cover of The Everly Brother’s All I Have To Do Is Dream. My dad certainly approved, and after checking out some more of their stuff, I reached out to them for a show.
They’d already been hitting some spots in the Dallas area, since 2012 but I’m not sure about how the “vultures” around here are treating them because when I first asked them about doing a show, they seemed somewhat leery that I was going to force them to sell tickets. Honestly though, I had to convince them that their band has something I’m after, in the music I love.
Their track Dog Music has been in circulation for a while now and even though they were “pushing it” as a rough demo, it sounded pretty damn done to me. It always has and so when it’s the track that opens up their newly released Bummer EP, it already opens up pretty strong. It was the right call. It does sound like they cleaned it up though, but it doesn’t add anything that it doesn’t already have.
I don’t know if they know this about themselves and I’ll be sure to bring it up when I talk to them but, to me, these guys are like Twin Peaks. Just pay attention and I think you’ll see what I mean. They’re breathing the same atmosphere. And no jokes about the second season alright!?
Let me also say that these guys have another project called Melancharlie Stephencholy, who I was able to get for the show last November. Judging from that performance, they’ve got enough stage presence to hold a room; especially when they closed with a cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya.
But back to this EP; if I’m to treat this like concept art then it works on a subtle level. I mean, at first listen; but after some time as of now it’ll make more sense to me if that’s what I’m looking for. But even as loose singles, I can’t see how anyone can’t see this EP as a whole.
For me, Rental Car and Go Away are in the right place on the release as their weaker tracks, just to get out of the way because for me, they come across as developmental studies in where they can take a song. There’s nothing wrong with that as this is, like most Bandcamp EPs, something to put “out there” as a demo.
But they’re not half-assing their way through this thing either. It’s not like they just lumped together some works-in-progress. They know their sound, they know who they are and how to build their thing. That kind of confidence is very satisfying which makes them that perfect band or for me, that hidden secret. I’ll go ahead and point out the last track Gemini as one of their strongest tracks.
Also, while I’m saying this, why mention their ability to harmonize? You’ll already pick up on that and they also know it!
And they also know their voice. Charlie has this voice that’s youthfully sweet and beautiful and then there’s this more mature womanly hold that comes in and out of it, that’s seductive and intimidating; and tells me straight out that, whoever that is, is totally out of my league! Honestly, Charlie scares the shit out of me!
Look. I’ll happily pick any other track on here such as Temporary Loss, than a track that another blog who isn’t even from around here — and who beat me to the punch, favorited. But I also know when to eat shit and take it like a man. They were right about the track Repetition. It’s got everything that makes LEWB great and makes them more than just another Dreampop band.
I mean, listen to when she sings …if I ever.. and then the oooooooo harmony over lays during “get.” It’s fucking pretty!
How’s this for smoke blowing: Charlie is what I call a crooner. I can just see members of the audience pass out, every time she leans in.
I’ll also say that I expected this EP to be dark and there are certainly moments when it is. But I came away from this thing feeling fully energized and hopeful of the Dallas music scene. Goddammit Charlie. You’re gonna break a lot of hearts!
The Tontons (Houston, TX)
Here’s a 1st world problem you’re definitely familiar with. For normal people, it’s when bands you’ve never heard of, peddle themselves through twitter. For extraordinary people like me, it’s when mediocre bands try to follow me. Not for the fact that I’m extraordinary; it’s a problem because they can’t seem to draw their crowd naturally, they have to go by-the-rock-n-roll-marketing-book to promote themselves and the worst thing about it, is that it works.
This band has left an imprint in my subconscious to where I know they exist and it’s just a matter of time before I heard them. If this were a survey and I were asked if I would ever listen to the tontons, I’d certainly check the box that reads most likely. Well, that happened today.
I hate Houston. There’s not a day that goes by I wished it was under a dome. This Houston band is good enough to seize the opportunity to get out of there, but they’re also flawed enough to seem desperate to do so. Again, I come back to the marketing because they’re hitting all the right circuits for mass distribution, and they’re marketing on that pop angle to make it happen but it seems too polished for me to really get into.
The track “Golden” is one of the few that has originality at all but most of the other stuff is forced formula from beginning to end. It’s kind of like they went to write these songs and they thought about the dynamics and first impressions before the melody. That’s desperate.
But I don’t want to give the impression that I hate them or that they’re not salvageable. They’re doing what they have to do to get their thing going and it will serve them well, the sad thing here is that when you look at their promo pics, you can see that Asli Omar has a better chance at going farther than the rest of the band. I’m pretty certain she’s getting talked into doing so or will very soon.
Denton Rockers ‘Grassfight’ moved away to NYC a few years back, taking that dark sound to Northern ears, but we shouldn’t forget them. We did an interview with them back when they did a show at ‘The Cavern’ aka ‘Crown and Harp’, in 2010 right before they would open up for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Trees. We’ve done some updates to where you can download/stream their EP for free at the bottom of the page. Don’t blow these guys off, they know how it’s DONE!