France, BLOW, and Bourbon

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By Mark Simpson

It’s not every day that you get to interview a group who primary speaks French and has a sound that will “BLOW” your mind. The Electro-Pop band “BLOW” is a relatively new band based in Paris who is yet to set foot in the United States. The French group has plans to come over soon with the help of their label DDM and, I’m predicting that many Americans will enjoy what I would call a dark, almost Depeche Mode like sound. The group is very appreciative about the attention they are getting from the United States and even went on to say:

“It’s a pleasure to see that American’s like our music.”

It has always amazed me that their are bands like “BLOW”, who with all their talent, are often found by an individual spending a night on YouTube. After seeing the french group perform on KEXP I was amazed by their sound, my favorite song being “The Devil Reminds Me”. The song is about a man fighting his compulsions to kill a young women, all the while dealing with with his own mental instability. Here is a video of the group performing the song on one of my favorite radio stations, KEXP.

It’s a bit of surprise to find out that Singer Quentin Guglielmi is influenced by many American greats like Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan, as well as paying tribute to fellow country men like Serge Gainsburg. As I listen to other songs like “You Killed Me on the Moon” I can see the similarities in the creative writing style of someone like Morrison. When asked about how Quentin goes about writing songs he replied:

“I write about scenes I see when I focus on the music I’m working on. It’s a kind of automatic writing. I don’t tell myself “I’m gonna write about politics, or about ecology”. Words come naturally, the music dictates it to me, sends me images.”
– Quentin Guglielmi

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When asked about the recording process and their luck with What I like to call, “Studio Magic”, the group pointed to tracks like “Zephyr” which was completely changed in the studio last minute to give the song a more favorable tempo and a memorable looping guitar.

When watching the group, I found it impossible not to enjoy the talent of their man who controls everything “Bass”, Thomas Clairice. Thomas is literally a man obsessed with low-frequency instruments and over the years has developed the talent to play the upright bass, cello, baritone sax, and the Moog Synth.

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As a band who enjoys every song they write, the group is focusing on writing some new material for their newest album which is set to be released within the upcoming months. The “I” EP is a personal favorite of mine, and I really enjoy the track “Call the Youth” as it has a guitar riffs that is eerie similar to something you would hear David Gilmour play in a Pink Fl0yd song.

As I wonder what it might be like to share a shot of “Bourbon”, the Bands favorite, I am reminded of the large pond that separates us from such amazing music. This as one of the more interesting articles I have gotten to do, and I hope that you all will take the time to like the groups pages. I appreciate the group’s time, and would love to see them perform in the States really soon. Sante!

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https://www.facebook.com/blowofficialbandpage

https://www.instagram.com/blow_band_/

Ghosts in Pocket, Banana Daiquiris, and the “Barberton” Mountains

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By Mark Simpson

Barberton is the name of a unique and small town located in South Africa. The town was a gold mining town in the 1800’s and is surrounded by some of the oldest exposed mountains in the world. This improbable town also provides the name for the newest album by local Inland Empire indie rock band Ghost in Pocket. “Barberton” is the five-track stroke of genius that, with the help of kick starter and their fans, Ghosts in Pocket gave birth to on October 9th, 2015.

” It was important to us that we try to make “Barberton” feel like progress, because that’s also what the songs strive to do musically and lyrically.” – Keith

The album was produced, mixed, and mastered with the help of up-and-comer John Kunkel, who is a Los Angeles Native who owns Division 87 Records and performs with the group New Division. With influences such as Burt Reynolds and Carrot Top laying heavy on the band’s mind, they could go into the studio and lay down what may be, in my opinion, the best sounding local album I have heard in the last 5 years. The first track on the album is the title track “Barberton” which has an amazing video that gives you a look at the band and the lengthy recording process that goes with releasing an album.

From bandannas, to Nick cutting a good rug, to empty Rolling Rock on the floor, you can get a sense of how much this album met to the group. As someone who has found myself in padded room for hours on end listening to the same song over and over, I can tell you that the studio process, though amazing, can be quite lengthy.

“I think I speak for the group in saying it took us a lot longer to finish this project than we would have hoped. I suppose it’s all a part of the learning process.” – Zach

The group’s song that is a personal favorite of mine is “Make it Break” which shows off Chris’ unique drumming style. As a fellow drummer, I love that the song consistently keeps it’s energy and drive while Keith sings moving lyrics that, by the end of the track, have us all saying “Lovers, Lovers, Lovers”. When asked about the track Keith gave us some interesting perspective on what makes it such a hit with fans:

“My music interest has always been guided by meaningful and intentional lyrics, regardless of genre or style, and so, especially with the EP, I wanted the songs to resonate with a theme. I think the song that does it best is “Make It Break,” which I also think is one of the more basic songs structurally.” – Keith

I pictured myself sitting with the group listening to “Make it Break” and sipping on a Banana Daiquiri a favorite of my main man Nick… you read that right, a Banana Daiquiri. As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder about the group that got its start from playing a pancake dinner for elementary children. As Keith put it, the song has a mood to it that is quite hypnotic and, as you can see from the video, the song may have a darker meaning than one might expect.

As I listened to moving songs like “Separated by Ice” I got a feeling that this album is much darker than their first album Shadowbox. I could see where a bit of studio magic had happened on the track; originally the track was slated to be electric but at the last-minute John Kunkel asked Keith if he might try it with the acoustic. As Nick put it, he is forever grateful for John’s quick decision and went on to say that, to this day, the track still gives him chills.

“Keep the Heat Coming” may be something of a dark horse on the album as it fits in perfect with the album but, on it’s own, shows a much different side of the group. It is a song that shows the most pressing of steady, high energy and ends with Zach playing a very powerful solo while the group seems to explode in different directions that work together simultaneously.

The album comes to close with what may be their most powerful song to date, “Statues Pulse,” which features a cool assortment of horns courtesy of Zach’s good friend Sean Portanova. The band, who gets their name from the haunting work of Dave Eggers, really shows their strengths in this song as singer Keith lays down one of my favorite lyrical lines:

” There’s nothing to prescribe I’ll trade my nerves to help you feel alive.”

As I finished the album, I could see why the group has been so successful and able to open for groups like We are Scientists. It is, to me, the way that the group can write such moving music while staying objective about their art. The group is a tight-knit group who can be a lot of fun to hang out with. They are bit witty and comical, but when they take the stage, much like Shaq when he hits the court, they rise to the occasion. If you would like to see these guys rock the desert make sure to come out to their show at Frogee’s on April 14th. As a closing, for this album review Id like to leave you with some information on the group as well as Nick’s 3 things that will help you conquer the world. Cheers!

“First, chip clips are poor substitutes for nipple clamps. Second, a tri-tip should rest for at least 10 minutes after you pull it off the grill. And finally, if California marijuana farmers aren’t called “ganjapreneuers,” they should be.” – Nick

Buy an Album $5 right Here –> https://ghostsinpocket.bandcamp.com/album/barberton-ep

Website: https://www.ghostsinpocket.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ticket2ridepromotions

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Catch their next show at Frogee’s Apple Valley with Rustic Wild and Heavy Door on Friday, April 14th 2017 at 8pm.

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Delta Shade, Mojito’s, and A Hell of A Journey

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“Our biggest goal is really just to sound like ourselves. We don’t strive to imitate another band or artist because we don’t see the point in that – it’s already been done.”

By Mark Simpson

Delta Shade is a group that you might have seen rocking in the desert and thought man these guys are great but I wanted to know what makes these guys tick. Turns out that Delta shade is a group, that much like their name may suggest, enjoys listening to the blues.

“We have a deep appreciation for the blues and that was something we bonded over from the beginning.” – Travis

With the band sighting influences like Gary Clark Jr. and Gillian Welch you can tell that these are not guys who will be listening to alternative radio anytime soon. This is a group that is looking to go against the grain and after releasing their new album they have people as far as England wearing Delta Shade T-Shirts and bumping their new self title album. After packing out the religious rock and roll hangout and local watering hole conveniently named Frogee’s I wanted to know what the group thought about their big release show.

“We were so happy to see so many friends and family out there supporting us. It was such a good vibe all-around. Definitely a night we won’t forget.”

I think the one thing that I immediately liked and noticed about this group in my time hanging out with them at various shows is the fact that considering the groups talent they haven’t turned into that group that we all hate in the desert. We all know the type, its the group that shows up late and leaves early while all the while plays the longest set of the night. The group is slowly branching out of the desert with plans to do a short tour soon and currently has a gig scheduled in West Hollywood at the State Social House on Thursday March 30th . As an old Los Angeles Native I can tell you that this gig is one to attend as its just steps outside the famous clubs of the Sunset Strip and offers the coolest small room to groove to your favorite band.

With the group being only a few short miles from where the old Tower Records use to sit I wanted to know if these guys had their own turntable and if so what records they might be playing late after a gig while sipping a beer.

“ Rage Against The Machine’s self-titled. I love the riffs and attitude on that album – Andy

I found this to be interesting choice as it explains why Andy plays with the drums with a sense of urgency and as a drummer myself I love the choice of album. Chad on the other hand is someone who loves to sit down and trance out with one of the greatest song writers of our generation in Conor Oberst who is best known for fronting the talented group Bright Eyes.

As I learned more about each member in this interview I could see how each member had their own unique flavor. This was not three guys working in perfect motion as it may seem but instead three musicians pushing each other to bring out the best in each member. As I closed my interview with this uniquely interesting group and said my usual Cheers sipping on a Mojito (The Groups Favorite Drink) I wondered what the future may hold for this group. I can tell you I have no clue and I don’t think they do right now either but the great thing about uncertainty is that it makes for a hell of a journey. As a closing for this article Id like to leave you with some information on the group as well as their message for all that have support their amazing talents. Cheers!

“We’d like to thank all our family and friends for their support. It’s been a really fun ride so far and it’s been amazing to see the response to our music. It really fills us with gratitude to know and play shows with so many great people.”