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Music News and Features

25 Jan 2016
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Here in the desert, we take our punk rock and stoner rock pretty seriously. We take pride in the cutting-edge musicians who carved a place out for themselves in the international music marketplace—and put our area on the international music map. Bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Unida and others boldly explored new territory with their musical instruments and gave birth to their own brand of original rock. Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, these then-underground bands were drawing influences from punk, grunge and metal—yet in each instance, they created a sound that was all their own. Palm Desert's Nick Oliveri—multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter—made a name for himself playing bass-guitar in Kyuss (which just so happened to be Oliveri’s very first band). The group caught the ears of A&R people quickly, and it wasn’t long before the members were cutting a record and…
16 Jan 2016
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Local DJ Alex Harrington had a big year in 2015. He played at the Dome at the Coachella campground. He returned to ever-growing summer pool-dance party Splash House. He played some out-of-town shows—including an appearance with Vanilla Ace. The longtime Independent contributor is starting off 2016 with a bang, too: He’s releasing a new EP, Tru Groove; is starting a record label; and is beginning a residency at the soon-to-open WTF and Buzz Bar, in the old Dink’s location in Palm Springs. During a recent interview, Harrington talked about his new EP. “The new EP is three tracks, and the inspiration behind it is UK garage music,” Harrington said. “A lot of the old-school UK garage music, I got into it, but I wanted to give it a current touch. Everybody knows I like disco music, so what I did was make an album where the beat is garage music;…
15 Jan 2016
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Alfa Cologne is an under-the-radar gem in the Coachella Valley music scene—perhaps because all that Alfa Cologne does was, at first, not meant to be taken that seriously, nor did he intend to become a musician. It just sort of happened. During a recent interview, when I asked about the moniker “Alfa Cologne,” he joked with me and said: “If you want to interview him, I can arrange it. He’s a good guy.” He also talked about his love for music videos and mentioned skipping school to watch Daft Punk videos when they were due to premiere; eventually, he began making music videos of his own. Originally from Algeria, Alfa Cologne spent some of his childhood in Paris before moving to the Coachella Valley. The music of Alfa Cologne is quirky—but in a fun, good way. “I just disconnect myself from the musician part of it and go to a…
23 Dec 2015
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The ultra-heavy psych-rock music scene that is associated with our California desert took root in the mid-’80s. The music of bands like Fatso Jetson, Kyuss, Throw Rag and Unsound helped shape the budding underground local music scene; today, a slew of aspiring musicians are borrowing from punk, acid rock, grunge and metal-new sounds. Today, type “stoner rock sub-genres” into your computer’s search engine, and a dozen varieties will come up. Black metal, doom, sludge, psych (combined with any other genre, i.e. psych-rock, psycho-billy, psycho-punk), fuzzrock, spacerock, grunge and old-school metal seem to have knocked speed metal and death metal off of the list … or were they perhaps selected by Mother Nature for extinction and rebirth? The Mojave Desert has been a breeding ground for original hard rock and provides an environment that is ripe for exploring the darker, less-conventional forms of musical expression. In the ’90s, Zach and Erica…
18 Dec 2015
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After five years together, Latin/rock band Elektric Lucie is branching out well beyond the group’s devout Coachella Valley audiences. In fact, the band recently signed with a record label in Mexico. Elektric Lucie’s ever-evolving lineup currently includes Viktor Estrada (guitar, vocals), Jorge Carrillo (bass), Jose Lopez (guitar, keyboards) and Hernan Hernandez (drums). “We’ve played as a three-piece; we’ve played as a four-piece; and we’ve played as a five-piece,” Estrada said during a recent interview at the band’s practice space at Estrada’s house in Indio. “It’s been like a coalition of musicians. … We’ve been working, working and working, and that’s how we landed a record deal.” Lopez is the band’s newest member. “I’ve been in bands since high school,” Lopez said. “I’ve known Viktor for years. I used to play in metal and punk bands, and I was also in a ska band, which is where I met Viktor 15…
07 Dec 2015
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Earlier in 2015, Burning Bettie parted ways with frontman Giorg Tierez. His former bandmates began a new band called Hollace, replacing him with Deadend Paradox frontman Alex Antonio. Meanwhile, Tierez has also bounced back—with a new band called Monreaux, with Deadend Paradox bassist Chris Dub. During a recent interview in Indio off of Monroe Street, Tierez joked about the interview being “held on Monroe about Monreaux” while describing the issues he had after he was fired from Burning Bettie. “It was a struggle to find players again that I was compatible with—people who were interested in a similar style and similar goal,” Tierez said. “I’ve always linked up with our bass-player, Chris Dub. We’ve always talked, and we’re really good friends. As it happened, at the same time, we were removed from our bands. It’s funny, because when you get around the local music scene, you sort of have a…
20 Nov 2015
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Friday the 13th of November 2015 will forever be remembered by fans of desert rock. Of course, we all know what happened on that day: Armed gunmen shot and killed 89 concert-goers, and wounded more than 300 fans, at an Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan in Paris. It was the worst of a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris that night. The hard-edged pop band features frontman Jesse Hughes, with Josh Homme—frontman of the platinum-record-selling Queens of the Stone Age—on drums; both grew up in Palm Desert. The band also includes guitarist Dave Catching, who resides in Joshua Tree at his world-famous recording studio Rancho de la Luna. While Hughes and Catching were on the Bataclan stage on Nov. 13, Homme was not; he had been on the European tour but had returned home to be with his wife, who is expecting their second child. It…
27 Oct 2015
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The Royal Teens, Herb Alpert and Bobby Hart have something in common: They were all discovered by Lee Silver. Silver started in the music business as a singer-songwriter and producer in New York in the early ’50s. Today, he calls Palm Desert home. Before entering the music business, Silver served in the Army, and he worked as a mechanical engineer. However, it was hard to deny his first love—music. He’d been a performer since the age of 6, when he began singing and dancing onstage. During a recent interview at his Sun City home, he discussed his start in the music business. “When I was in the Army, I was stationed in Nashville. I fell in love with country music, and I’m a boy from Brooklyn,” Silver said. “There was no country music in Brooklyn during that time period. I remember producing a record in New York with an engineer…