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Music News and Features

24 Oct 2019
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The Coachella Valley is brimming with musical talent—yet it’s lacking when it comes to music venues. Thank goodness for The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert. Over the years, The Hood has transformed from a simple metal bar into … well, a metal-and-everyone-else bar that is also one of the premier performance venues in the valley, with events being held every day. While countless local bands have gained popularity thanks to a boost from The Hood, the venue has also hosted numerous famous acts, such as surf-rock legend Dick Dale. In recent years, The Hood has also started hosting events such as a weekly Drag Queen Bingo night, and has become a regular participant in the Desert AIDS Project’s annual Dining Out for Life night. This fascinatingly vibrant mix is due in large part to its owner, Brad Guth—an out-and-proud gay man. “I grew up in a time when…
24 Oct 2019
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DJ Sugarfree is one of the valley’s top DJs—a regular at Bart Lounge and Chill Bar Palm Springs. Over the years, she’s played at virtually every club in the valley. However, DJ Sugarfree—her given name is Noemi Rodriguez—wants more. Specifically, she wants to take things underground. With friends and fellow female DJs Femme A and Aylex Song, the queer DJ from Indio is trying to provide the desert with an authentic rave experience—and the group is planning an underground electronic event that recalls the spirit of the famous “desert raves,” which Sugarfree and others would organize off Dillon Road in Indio around this decade’s start. But creating a scene is easier said than done. “Nowadays, most people listen to mainstream EDM music, and only care about events with big popular names on the lineup,” Rodriguez said. “Many people’s music listening is limited to what’s on the radio. They will drive…
14 Oct 2019
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When the sun goes down on the Coachella Valley, hard-working musicians come out and put on shows wherever there’s a power outlet—including many backyards. Yes, an entire scene is living and breathing in the backyards of homes all across the valley—and in my years of frequenting backyard shows, I’ve never come across a group as animated as Israel’s Arcade. “This is my solo project. It’s me getting out what’s inside of me,” said Israel Pinedo, the frontman of Israel’s Arcade. And his emotions are surely getting out, as his first single, “12 Regrets,” goes from dreamy staccato guitar lines to synth-driven punk in a matter of seconds, with crooning vocals à la Morrissey or Marilyn Manson: “What is this? / It’s a joke / It’s my life / Without you.” Follow up single “Wimp” keeps the same punk formula—yet cranks it to 11, as an indie-meets-punk backing track supports Pinedo’s…
22 Sep 2019
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While the Coachella Valley has birthed some of rock’s greatest musicians and has been overflowing with intense musicality for decades, record stores here are few and far between. In fact, there’s really only one provider of CDs, vinyl and all other things that music fans need—and that store has been doing so since 1978. “Record Alley is the hub of music,” said Scott McLaughlin, a Record Alley employee and local musician. “Back in the day, everybody used to come in here—celebrities and even local stars like Joshua Homme or Jesse Hughes. It was a cool hangout spot, even back when it was just CDs.” Turns out Record Alley is still a cool hangout spot: The store has started hosting performances by two music acts each Sunday afternoon. These shows are planned by McLaughlin; I sat down with him recently to discuss his musical journey and the future of Record Alley.…
18 Sep 2019
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Few local bands have a résumé as extensive as that of YIP YOPS. After Tachevah appearances, multiple Jam in the Van sessions, a slot at Coachella and even an Independent cover story, YIP YOPS just released a new single, “Sinner,” and announced the Death of a Sinner Tour, which will take YIP YOPS all over the United States in October in support of bands Kongos and Fitness. If you’ve somehow never seen a performance by YIP YOPS—now a duo featuring the vocals of Ison Van Winkle and the drums of Ross Murakami—you should expect eccentric, vibrant clothing that catches your eye and draws you in to witness the vivacious stage presence and staggering vocals of Van Winkle, backed by nostalgic ’80s synths … like if the B-52’s met Depeche Mode. My favorite tracks include “Head Home” and “Heavy Soul.” During a recent interview, Van Winkle and Murakami said they were…
22 Aug 2019
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Avenida Music is the reigning Best Local Band per the Independent’s Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll—and with good reason. Not only is Avenida Music one of the top cover bands in the valley, known for putting exciting new twists on tunes we all know and love, with hundreds of songs ready to go at any given moment; the band members are setting their sights on something bigger: For the past few months, Josiah Gonzalez, Samuel Gonzalez, Vince Gonzalez and Sean Poe have been hard at work transforming a vacant space in the heart of downtown Indio into an oasis for artists. “This is our headquarters,” said Josiah during a recent interview with him and his brother Samuel. “This is going to be a combination of office space, rehearsal space and lessons (space). We’re going to be renting out rehearsal space to other bands and acts, (and offering) lessons for…
20 Aug 2019
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Jason Nutter wouldn’t tell me his age; all he’d say is that he’s been doing music for a long time. He’s played music since his childhood—and now his love of music spills out to the community. Not only is he a musician who plays regularly at venues including Tonga Hut in Palm Springs; he’s an educator and the founder of Music Heals Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting musical instruments into the hands of autistic and special-needs students. His beliefs in music as therapy and the inherent value of every person motivate the work he does with Music Heals. Moreover, Nutter is convinced that everyone has musical ability. He is interested in helping parents and students recognize the benefits of music and the positive role it can play in the lives of people. Though he’s lived in the desert full-time for eight years now, Nutter is originally from Beaumont.…
07 Aug 2019
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Take rock music out of a 1970s time capsule; add rock ballads with memorable riffs, blazing guitar solos and commanding vocals with sweet three-part harmonies—and you have Pescaterritory. Pescaterritory includes four high schoolers: vocalist Aiden Schaeffer, 16, a senior at Shadow Hills High School; drummer Nick Willman, 16, a senior at La Quinta High School; bassist Gavin Lopez, 14, a freshman at Palm Desert High School; and guitarist Jason Zembo, 15, a junior at Palm Desert High School. Despite having only eight performances under their belts, the band’s music is being heard around the world: Pescaterritory’s first two singles, “Better Off Dead” and “King Street,” were recently broadcast on the US10 Radio Show, hosted by Barry Tomes, in the United Kingdom. How did that happen? “Pappy and Harriet’s has an open-mic night on Mondays, and we decided the night before to go play there,” explained Zembo. “We had played there…

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