CVIndependent

Tue03312020

Last updateMon, 23 Mar 2020 12pm

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.

There’s a reason you don’t often see the “bored-bassist” look on the faces of our valley’s musicians—and that reason is the leadership of Dan Dillinger, who has been moving, jumping and kicking all over Coachella Valley stages and beyond for more than a decade now. He performs with punk-rockers The Sweat Act (facebook.com/TheSweatAct) and the more-alternative collective Black Water Gospel (facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel). Dillinger is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his responses.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to the Orange Show in San Bernardino to see Good Riddance, Dead Kennedys and Strung Out. I've still got the stub. I'll never forget the bruises. So much fun.

What was the first album you owned?

When I was 4 years old, my baby sitter gave me a Young MC tape and a Kris Kross tape. I loved those tapes, ha ha. But the first albums I bought (together) with my own money were Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Green Day’s Dookie when I was in the fifth-grade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

In the car, I've had Bracket’s Requiem on repeat for about three weeks, but my go-to just about any other time has been both the "Angsty Pants" playlist I put together compiling all the skate punk bands I've been into for the past 20-ish years; and the "Behind BARS" playlist, compiling a handful of hip-hop tracks I can't get enough of. There's too much radness to choose just one thing at a time.

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

I get it all. Just because I don't like it, that doesn't mean I don't get it. If it makes you feel something, then that's all that matters. I listen to plenty that others don't like. That doesn't make what I'm into good or bad. It just makes it my thing. Same for anyone else's interests. So what's not to get?

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

I'd take a kick to the junk to see The Dillinger Escape Plan just one more time. That's probably one of the most satisfying bands I've ever seen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

No music is a guilty pleasure.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Hard choice. The El Rey and The Wiltern have been a couple of my tops, but … I'm less concerned with the venue and more interested in who I'm going to see.

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

"Sometimes a knife right through your heart is exactly what you need. Sometimes the things that you're ashamed of make you who you're supposed to be," “Tapestry,” Protest the Hero.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Everything I love has molded my life. I am the music I love.

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

Gene Simmons: "What's it like knowing you've had sex with pretty much everyone's moms?" Ha ha ha. No, seriously, I have no idea.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Dynamite Hack, "Laughter." Because, damn, I had fun. Smile for me.

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

A Wilhelm Scream, Ruiner.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Whatever song makes you feel the best you can, right now. Listen to it loud and proud. Scream it. Get on that vibe.

Published in The Lucky 13

Lance Riebsomer is one of the Coachella Valley’s most active singer-songwriters, probably best known for his old band, Foxy Cleopatra.

More than a year ago, Riebsomer took part of Foxy Cleopatra’s sound and morphed it into a new band called Black Water Gospel, which includes other notable locals such as David Morales (Eevaan Tre and the Show and Foxy Cleopatra), Matt Claborn, Alex Maestas (Robotic Humans) and Dan Dillinger (Bridger, and the Sweat Act).

Black Water Gospel will be throwing an EP release party on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Big Rock Pub in Indio. The Flusters and Brightener will also be performing.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert over lunch, Riebsomer explained the link between Foxy Cleopatra and Black Water Gospel.

“Black Water Gospel plays some Foxy Cleopatra songs,” Riebsomer said. “Foxy Cleopatra was kind of like a collaboration until my mindset solidified. I kind of wanted to go in my own direction. (Foxy Cleopatra) was something that naturally just disbanded. David (Morales) played bass in Foxy Cleopatra, and now he plays guitar in Black Water Gospel.”

Speaking of Morales: Although he is quite humble, some in the local music scene consider him to be a genius.

“Anybody around town would say that about David. Anybody who is a musician would also say that about David. He plays every instrument; he can flawlessly do any kind of music; he can pick up on any song; and he does a lot of solo stuff around town for extra money,” Riebsomer said. “For me, his talent is like a security blanket. I’ve told him, ‘We can do this, because you’re going to make everything sound really good.’ He’s kind of like George Harrison: He may not have written the songs, but he makes them a lot better. The songs that he does write are good, too. He’s also a kind human being and one of my best friends.

“What’s frustrating is he’s always booked. I’ll be like, ‘C’mon, let’s play this!’ and he’ll say, ‘I’m already booked.’ He probably plays six nights a week, and he really grinds.”

Riebsomer explained how they picked up Matt Claborn; he had been in a post-hardcore band that once played the Vans Warped Tour.

“Dan (Dillinger) left for Austria over the summer after he went through a hard time with his mom passing away and the Sweat Act broke up,” Riebsomer said. “We were still wanting to keep some momentum going while he was gone, so we asked our friend Matt—whom Alex, David and I have known since we were teenagers—to fill in on bass for the few gigs that we had while Dan was in Austria. We had a friend make a music video for us, too. It was funny, because we ended up doing a bunch of stuff while Dan was gone.

“When Dan gets back, he asked us, ‘Am I still in your band?’ and we were like ‘Yeah!’ We decided Matt was a good fit personality-wise, and the record we have recorded has a lot of guitar work in it, so I thought adding Matt as the third guitarist would give me the freedom to be more of a frontman and play less guitar. … It’s the same thing as the Foo Fighters: They have three guitarists, and it works well for them.”

Riebsomer explained what people can expect to be on the EP.

“Everybody knows ‘Alone’ and ‘Downtown,’” he said. “(And there’s) ‘Cleaning Up the Mess,’ which we don’t play very often, but it’s the last song on the EP. It’s kind of this Verve-like ballad. All these songs, I wrote when I moved back to the desert four years ago about somebody who completely broke me. I was trying to figure out the best way to cope with it and trying to not sound emo about it, (but instead write) something eloquent about how I felt, while keeping the rock ’n’ roll aspect of it.”

Riebsomer explained what’s important to him when he writes a song.

“I think first and foremost, it has to be believable,” he said. “There’s a perfect equation of having a song that makes people go, ‘Oh, that’s cool; I’d listen to it again.’ I think that in this time in modern music, making it believable is lost, and trying to pump out something that’s going to make money and pleasant to hear is more important.”

I asked Riebsomer about his favorite desert songwriters.

“I would say as far as songwriting goes and structure of the songs that I relate to, Will Sturgeon of Brightener (is a favorite), especially for his age,” he said. “Some of the songs off of his album Hummingbird caught me in the moment. He’s a fantastic songwriter. That’s why I asked Brightener to play this show. The style of Brightener is what I would describe as “innocent.” (The members of) Brightener aren’t as rock as other people, but I love Will’s music. He’s done more than a lot of musicians out here have done. He’s played Coachella; he’s played really big gigs in Los Angeles; and he’s had his music played on MTV, but he doesn’t really talk about that, and he’s so humble about it.”

Originally, the band thought about doing an EP-release show at The Hood Bar and Pizza, but the members decided to take it to the Big Rock Pub instead.

“We wanted to do something different,” he said. “We played the Big Rock Pub before, and we had a good experience. They’ve given David and me work on Sunday mornings, too. I was there recently, and they had some rock band that was playing ’90s nostalgia kind of stuff, but the sound was really good.”

Black Water Gospel will perform with The Flusters and Brightener at 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, at Big Rock Pub, 79940 Westward Ho Drive, in Indio. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

Published in Previews

Foxy Cleopatra is an oddity in the local music scene—in a very good way. The band’s sound is indescribable, but one can hear the influence of rock, funk and R&B—especially when it comes to the frontman and guitarist, Lance Riebsomer. Riebsomer recently released an album under the name of his new music project, Black Water Gospel, and has also played some solo shows; he’s been doing some stuff with Jack Kohler of War Drum, too. Hear some of his solo recordings at www.soundcloud.com/lanceriebsomer.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first live concert was the Aquabats at the Glass House in Pomona back in 2000; it was post Travis Barker. The Blue Meanies opened up for them. At that point in my life, ska was life.

What was the first album you owned?

Blues Traveler, Four. I bought it at a garage sale when I was 10.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m odd with my music-listening choices. I’ve been digging on the new Bon Iver album, but I’ve also been revisiting a lot of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club records, Baby 81 specifically. Also, (I’ve been enjoying) the new Young and the Giant record. It’s a well-written album.

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

For the most part, I’m very much open to most music genres. The one that I really could quite do without is the whole rap/rock culture. Specifically, Linkin Park. It rings very generic in my ears.

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

Electric Light Orchestra and Led Zeppelin.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1990s R&B, especially K-Ci and JoJo.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Santa Barbara Bowl. It’s vintage and endearing.

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

“Now I’m four five seconds from wildin’ it,” from Rihanna, Paul McCartney and Kanye West, “FourFiveSeconds.” It’s grammatically flawed, but so good. I love Rihanna and Sir Paul, but for the record, I hate Kanye West.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I discovered Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds’ self-titled album when I was going through a horrible divorce in 2013. I found myself singing songs off that record at the top of my lungs as I was commuting between Orange County and the desert. That record is perfect and absolutely amazing.

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

To Robert Plant: “Would you and Jimmy please headline Desert Trip next year and play ‘Black Dog’ at least three times, please?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Across the Universe,” by The Beatles.

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

The Beatles’ “White Album,” and that is all.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“River” by Bishop Briggs. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13