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Music News and Features

21 Jan 2020
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Local music fans should be no stranger to Throw the Goat. The semi-local band—it’s based in Idyllwild—has been a dominant force in the music scene since 2011. Its brand of punk and thrash melds well with quirky lyrics on standout tracks like “Havin’ a Beer” and “Beef,” while more-political lyrics on “Melt Away” blend with pounding punk to create a sense of anger. The band went through a major lineup change last year, with the addition of Derek Timmons—of Sleazy Cortez and Death Pretty Wrapping—on bass, and the departure of lead vocalist/bassist Mike Schnalzer. Brian “Puke” Parnell remains the guitarist, and is now taking on lead-vocal duties, while Troy Whitford remains the drummer. The band has now performed a handful of shows with the new lineup, and I recently sat down with the Goat bros right before one of their practice sessions, which I was intrigued to learn are actually…
17 Dec 2019
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Michael Murphy could have perhaps been a comedian, if he’d wanted to be: He’s a great conversationalist who likes to make people laugh. In his words, he lives “to make you happy.” This spirit extends to his approach to operating Bart Lounge, his Cathedral City bar and nightclub, which Independent readers have made a frequent finalist in the Best Nightclub and Best Bar Ambiance categories of the Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll. Before opening Bart with an assist from his father, Kelly, Murphy spent a couple of years working at clubs in Las Vegas, aspiring to “do his own thing.” He wanted to do something decidedly un-Las Vegas like, where “the cover is $100, and a vodka-cran costs $20,” Murphy said. Instead, he took inspiration from clubs he would go to in Riverside, Redlands and Los Angeles. “My favorite spots were hip, chill spots like Good Times at Davey…
20 Nov 2019
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It’s 8 p.m., and Freddy Jimenez is taking a break from working on a project for local artist Cristopher Cichocki to practice playing drums—before checking Instagram regarding details for his next project. At the age of 28, Jimenez is finally the self-sustaining artist he set out to become. The path was not easy, but his dedication to technique, artistry and community has sustained him and made him into a driving force in everything he does. Jimenez is a simple guy: He wears plain black clothes; he has short hair and no visible tattoos; he doesn’t drink or smoke. Thanks to his passion for art and love of community, Jimenez has managed to create a name for himself by producing both high-quality art and events, collaborating with numerous local artists, musicians and designers along the way. His company, Blue Hill Studios, is a homegrown operation, started out of his parents’ house…
16 Nov 2019
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When the Big Rock Pub organized a songwriting competition to benefit Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services, many local musicians went all out to create and showcase a song that would raise awareness about the terrors of sexual assault and human trafficking. There were some beautiful and heartwrenching songs—yet it was a performance by 16-year-old Mikayla Fazzone that won over the judges and audience. Her song “Stronger Than Me” is a rallying cry for a group of broken individuals to fight back—and it will be released on Thursday, Nov. 28, via the various streaming services, like Spotify, iTunes, etc. “Music has always been in my life. I’ve always loved doing it,” Fazzone told me. “The first instance of my love for music came when I was a toddler, and my parents took me to Old Town San Diego. They bought me this little toy purple guitar, and then happened to lose…
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.…

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