CVIndependent

Sat05302020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

We’re under an emergency shelter-at-home order in California, with a lot of businesses closed down—meaning many people are now without a steady income, including the Coachella Valley’s hard-working, talented musicians.

Many of us also now have a lot of time on our hands … so why not use that time to get to know the local music scene better—while supporting these musicians in the process?

Also, remember that music can be a healer of wounds! For me, music can turn a terrible day into a great day—so I hope that this list can bring you joy in this uncertain time.

Because of all this, I’ve compiled a “Coachella Valley Quarantine” playlist of some of my favorite songs by valley bands. By streaming their songs on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or any other service, you will also assist them financially … not much, but every little bit helps!

Click here for the Spotify version of the playlist.

Click here for the YouTube version.

“Last Day,” Captain Ghost

I started the playlist off with this one, because the only way to transition into the apocalypse is with roars and sick guitar riffs. This song is as heavy as it is funky—dare I say, with perhaps a hint of ska? The screamed-out chorus lines of “set forth your hands / like it’s the last day on Earth” make this song a perfect soundtrack for the end times. You can read more about Captain Ghost in the interview I did with them last year at CVIndependent.com; facebook.com/CaptainGhostBand.

“Coachella Gold,” Giselle Woo and the Night Owls

After being announced as part of the 2020 Coachella lineup, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls’ profile in the music scene became bigger than ever. Alas, the postponement of the festival means the world will have to wait to experience in person the greatness we’ve seen evolving over the past few years. “Coachella Gold” makes you proud to live here—and a sense of community is definitely something we all need during this time. Learn more about Giselle here; facebook.com/GiselleWooandTheNightOwls.

“Beat Up Your Mom (Sides One and Two),” Sleazy Cortez

In these times of mass hysteria and paranoia, you really could use a good laugh. Sleazy Cortez’s comedy stoner-punk jams are a perfect 20-second hand wash to take your worries away. You don’t even have to worry about too many lyrics, because the only words to this song are: “Beat up your mom.” Side One’s fast punk transitions beautifully into Side Two’s slow-burning blues groove for an epic 3 1/2-minute track. Learn more about Sleazy Cortez here; sleazycortez.bandcamp.com.

“Alone,” Black Water Gospel

“This is how it feels to be alone,” sings Lance Riebsomer in the chorus of this song. The desperation in his voice echoes many people’s uncertainties in this time of isolation—yet this song has one of those guitar solos will help you feel amazing. It’s hard to describe, so just listen. I challenge you to not bob your head at least once throughout the entire track; it may be impossible. Read more about Black Water Gospel here; facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

“Back on Track,” Brightener

Whenever I listen to Brightener, I can’t help but smile. Will Sturgeon has a voice that just makes you happy, and any track from his band will lift your spirit. It’s no wonder the band has played many top-notch gigs in Los Angeles, not to mention Coachella in 2016. “Back on Track” is one of Sturgeon’s funkier songs, and will make your stay-cation a lot dancier. Learn more about Brightener here; brightener.bandcamp.com.

“Gallium,” Calico Wonderstone

Calico Wonderstone dominated the backyard music scene, but has only played a few shows at local venues, so the band’s name is unknown to many. The band dropped a five-song EP, but has not played a show since releasing it, meaning it has been severely underappreciated. “Gallium” is an indie-rock jam, and lead singer Ramses Lopez’s unique vocal style adds an edgier tone to the groove; soundcloud.com/calicowndrstne.

“Mainframe,” Fever Dog

Fever Dog has brought full effort into each of the genres the band has pursued. The group’s first two albums were heavy stoner rock, and then in 2017, Fever Dog released the Mainframe EP—three tracks of psychedelic jams. The title track sounds like something straight out of Pink Floyd, and is the perfect track to let your mind wander away from the negativity. Learn more about Fever Dog here; feverdog.bandcamp.com.

“Elevator Dance,” The Flusters

The Flusters offer a perfect mix of dreamy grooves and rockin’ choruses. Take “Elevator Dance,” for example; the verses are very Doors-esque, with lead singer Doug VanSant’s reverbed voice haunting the listener’s ear. But then, the guitar turns up for the choruses—and turns the slow groove to a full-on jump-around-and-dance vibe. Check out more about The Flusters here; theflusters.com.

“Wao Wao,” Ocho Ojos

Ocho Ojos’ catalogue features the best of the best when it comes to psychedelic cumbia. The band has played Coachella twice, and has performed at pretty much every venue in the valley—a handful of times—while sprinkling some out-of-town shows in between. The Latin rhythms shine bright on “Wao Wao,” and the 4 1/2-minute banger features synth player Danny Torres and guitarist Cesar Flores trading off solos in epic fashion; facebook.com/ochoojoscv.

“Funk Jam,” Desert Rhythm Project

This is a pretty self-explanatory track from Joshua Tree favorites Desert Rhythm Project. Funk is a healer of many things; in fact, I’ve been told there’s nothing a little groove can’t fix. Lead singer Mikey Reyes' soothing voice guides listeners through this song; it’s almost as if he’s checking in with us after every extended groove to make sure we’re OK. And this track is packed tight with groove, as it’s a six-minute song that features every essential funk instrument—horns, bass and, of course, a talk-box solo; desertrhythmproject.com.

“Sand Dune,” FrankEatsTheFloor

Shameless self-promotion: This is my band, and a song I wrote—of which I’m particularly proud. I used our desert landscape to represent how lonely you can feel in a situation of unreciprocated love. I wrote it when I felt lonely; I was sitting inside all day staring at the sand dunes, but now that I have to stay inside, I truly understand how lonely it can be living in a sandy jungle. The bassline is prominent, primarily because I wrote the song around the riff—but also because it sounds cool. Learn more about us here; facebook.com/FrankEatsTheFloor.

“Tied Up,” Instigator

We’re all tied up at home, so why not throw on this aptly named metal tune from local rockers Instigator? The intro riff has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it; about 40 seconds into the song, the headbanging begins in full effect. Leader Mark Wadlund just posted on Facebook: “‘Coronavirus’ is a great name for a song on a heavy-metal concept album about disease,” so maybe something good will come out of this situation. Read more about Instigator here; facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

“Isolated,” Israel’s Arcade

Speaking of aptly named songs, this indie-rock track from Israel’s Arcade is the perfect song for your isolation blues. “Don’t come find me … let me rot,” sings Israel Pinedo over a melancholy instrumental—featuring some sweet saxophone backup. The standout part of this track is the lead guitar, as its back-and-forth rhythm, while extremely catchy, elicits a true sense of loneliness. Learn more about them here; instagram.com/israelsarcade.

“Strange,” Ormus

Ormus’ first album was a collection of hard-hitting metal-punk tracks, complete with frontman Martin Posada’s death growls. But “Strange” sounds like something straight from the ’70s, with Posada and bass-player Serene Noell sharing vocal duties on a rock track that’s very Black Sabbath-esque. However, Ormus’ signature sound comes back in the middle of a song, for a minute-long metal-punk death-growl interlude; facebook.com/ormusband.

“Bad Conscience Blues,” Plastic Ruby

Plastic Ruby’s unique “Desert Jangle” sound slows down a bit on “Bad Conscience Blues.” Lead singer John Marek’s reverb-caked voice sings over a slow-burning psychedelic-blues track that is as groovy as it is bluesy. The three-minute-long jam would not be complete without the organ solo, however—as everybody knows that you can't have psychedelic jams without an organ. Learn more about the band here; plasticruby.com.

“King Street,” Pescaterritory

“King Street” is one of those songs that makes you feel cool. The pounding rock beat of the song may just lead you to strut around your isolation chamber. Halfway through the song, guitarist Jason Zembo steals the show with what may be one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. The best way to beat the virus is with rock ’n’ roll! Read more about the band here; facebook.com/pescaterritory.

“Ppl Like U,” Throw the Goat

The first release from Throw the Goat after a recent lineup change proves that the same ol’ Goat is still there. It’s a punk outcry against hypocrites and the current state of the world—a perfect song for letting out your rage. The band is setting up for a full album about the political nonsense, appropriately titled Vote Goat 2020. Read more about the group here; facebook.com/throwthegoat. (Photo below by Keleigh Black)

“The Death of a Gentleman,” YIP YOPS

The Yip Yops’ recent lineup departures left the group as a two-piece—but the boys are determined to not change the sound that much. “The Death of a Gentleman” is an ’80s-style synth-rock gem that sounds so much like Depeche Mode. It’s groovy; it’s danceable; it even has somber moments. A lot of ground is covered in three minutes, and will cover many of the moods you are feeling during this time. Read more about them here; yipyops.com.

“Baby’s Breath,” Koka

Another notable band in the backyard-show scene in the valley is Koka, an indie-rock group with soothing melodies that offer a bedroom-pop vibe. Their sounds have brought them Internet attention, with “Baby’s Breath” nabbing more than 37,000 listens on Soundcloud alone. Lead singer Edith Aldaz’s vocal lines are catchy; singing the oohs of this song’s chorus will definitely help alleviate some stress; instagram.com/koka.wav.

“I Wanna Be Over You,” The Hive Minds

The last song on this playlist ends things on a high note. A happy instrumental is met by lead singer Derek Jordan Gregg reminiscing about the good times: “Remember the way that I fell when I held you, December.” Gregg wants to go back to “feeling himself”—don’t we all? This song is cheery and proves that music can be a source of joy, even in times like these; www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

The first show I ever went to in the Coachella Valley was a Fever Dog show—and the fusion of blues and psychedelic rock introduced me to the local music scene with a bang.

That performance cemented Fever Dog’s place in my mind’s Hall of Fame, and the band has received a fair amount of attention beyond my fanboy self. It was a part of a European tour in 2015 with Fatso Jetson, and the band’s music has been well-received across various streaming services.

Fever Dog is Danny Graham and Joshua Adams, joined by Ramses Lopez and Alex Galvan. A listen to the band’s earlier work on Volume One and Second Wind will take any rock listener back to the ’70s—albeit with a unique desert twist. Heavy-hitting tracks like “One Thousand Centuries” and “The Great Tree” are rockingly reminiscent of Sabbath and Zeppelin, if those bands had included stoner rock in their songs. The band’s latest EP, Mainframe (2017), offers three tracks that are pure psychedelic rock jams, with the title track sounding like a Pink Floyd B-side.

This takes us to the present day. The release of “Freewheelin’” earlier this year made stereos everywhere sparkle; the track is four minutes of every glam-rock fan’s dream. A second single release, “Solid Ground,” made it clear that the band was prepping for something big this year--so I decided to check in with my Fever Dog friends.

“Our album is planned for release this year, hopefully not too long from now,” said frontman and guitarist Danny Graham during a recent phone interview. “We’re going to try to book some tours as soon as that’s out; hopefully a European tour an Australian tour, and maybe a small American tour, too.”

The upcoming new album is slated to be called Alpha Waves.

“We are shopping for a label right now,” Graham said. “We really want the next album to be released under a European label. The last time we went to Europe, it would’ve helped to have a vinyl release. It’s the best thing to have on your merch table, and we wanted to make sure that we were able to press it on vinyl this time.”

With a big 2020 ahead, Graham looked back on the band’s humble beginnings.

“I was brought up on almost exclusively KISS, and a lot of ’70s rock music,” Graham said. “Me, Josh and Nathan—our old bass player—went to elementary school together and started playing together in 2006. We all picked up our instruments around the same time.

“When we first started, we were mostly a hard-rock, AC/DC-style band. As soon as we started going, we decided that we needed to do this for real and make a recording, even though we were only in the sixth-grade. We wouldn’t have done that, though, if we didn’t have the resources for it. My dad was in a band, so we had a lot of help to make that happen.”

Fever Dog is known for its epic live performances. Long hair flies all over the place, and the jams keep coming as Graham’s disco-ball guitar shines onto audience members’ faces. I was curious whether all the different sounds that Fever Dog has featured would still be represented live.

“For live shows, we’re doing a mix of everything,” Graham said. “We’re doing about half new songs and half old songs, with some improvisation and changes added in. We’re trying to blend pretty much everything we’ve ever done.”

With the change in sound came the addition of the aforementioned two new members. The group didn’t have to look too hard to find them.

“Josh knew our new bass player, Alex, from one of his old bands, The Active Kissers,” said Graham. “He also met our keyboard player, Ramses, through Twitter. They were just friends and then we realized that he also played music, so we asked him to join.”

It’s been pretty lonely in the local music scene without Fever Dog; the band’s two recent single releases are the first in three years.

“We took a break and didn’t really have a specific goal on how anything was going to sound,” Graham said. Josh and I just started recording whatever we wanted. Instead of deciding what kind of songs we’re going to make, we just kind of went for anything. This upcoming record is pretty much a blend of everything we’re into—all the’70s rock, progressive rock, experimental stuff and a lot of glam rock.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/feverdogrocks.

Published in Previews

If you’ve never seen a Fever Dog performance, you’re missing out. Fix that by checking them out when the band performs at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 11, at Club 5 in Indio. The band’s heavy psychedelic sound has a genuine desert feel. Danny Graham, Fever Dog’s front man and guitarist, is also a visual artist with a blog full of art. For more information on Fever Dog, visit www.facebook.com/feverdogrocks. Here are Graham’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

I used to go see a lot of old punk-rock bands play locally in my hometown when I was around 12 or 13. So it was probably Agent Orange or The Dickies … something like that.

What was the first album you owned?

The first CD I ever owned was The Colour and the Shape by Foo Fighters, but the first vinyl record I ever owned was KISS’ 1974 self-titled album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, and Tame Impala.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I don’t get 95 percent of the things people love.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Led Zeppelin, live around 1974-1975.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

You shouldn’t feel guilty for liking something others don’t. I wouldn’t put on a Yes or King Crimson album if I’m with someone other than my two bandmates, just because people usually aren’t into progressive rock. It’s not because I’m ashamed of liking it, though.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I honestly don’t have one. I’ve never been to or played a venue that I really liked that much. At least, so far I haven’t. We have our first European tour coming up.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

The chorus to “So Far Away” by Carole King.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

KISS. They’re one of the first bands I liked, and I’ve loved them ever since—even the really bad stuff.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I guess I would ask Nathan Wood of Fever Dog what the one question is that he would ask any musician, and also what musician he chose.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

It’s probably The Dark Side of the Moon (by Pink Floyd), but I haven’t thought of that much.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The entire Free Your Mind …  and Your Ass Will Follow album by Funkadelic. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13