At one point during the making of our new record I said to my bandmates, "hey, you only get one chance to make a first Dream Syndicate album in 30 years once in your life." It's a strange statement but one that's hard to refute (unless we end up making one at some point in our late 80's--which, well, you never know).
But that was the attitude we brought to the project. Either the record was going to be great, everything we hoped it would be, or we would just shelve and write it off, both financially and publicly, as a bold experiment that didn't work out.
We felt the odds were in our favor. The 50+ shows we'd played since we reunited back in 2012 had been among the best the band ever played, the perfect mix of agile improvisation, wild abandon and rock solid grooves that had always been the band's hallmark. The only 21st century addition to the band, guitarist Jason Victor who had played with me for years as a member of my solo backing band the Miracle 3, silenced any doubters within minutes of every show. He was the perfect and undisputed heir to the Syndicate axe-slingers who had come before--raw, mercurial, knowing and skilled.
And I wrote a bunch of songs to take down to Montrose Studios in Richmond, Virginia, a place I had worked often in recent years and felt was the perfect immersive retreat where we could conduct our laboratory of past, present and future. It's the kind of studio where you can grab a guitar, sandwich, cup of coffee or beer from your temporary home and stroll just a handful of steps to the studio, ready to work at almost any hour of the day. The Dream Syndicate, after all, was never really about a ticking clock, never a slave to time or space.
The magic? It was there. It was there with almost as much ease and grace as the first rehearsal we had three years before in Madrid despite Mark Walton, Dennis Duck and I having not played together for several decades. In a little less than a week we recorded much more than we needed, guided as co-producer and joined on keyboards by our old pal Chris Cacavas (who was on hand as full-time chef as well--love that guy!)
It was obvious that this would become a record, would not be tucked away as a curio to ooze out over the decades as a bootleg or maybe even forgotten. This was for real. This was going to be the fifth album by the Dream Syndicate, albeit with a long gap since the fourth.
What was started in Richmond, ably recorded by Adrian Olsen (with assistance from his dad, Montrose Studio founder Bruce Olsen) was moved back north to be mixed at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey by the legendary John Agnello, who has produced, engineered and/or mixed six of my previous albums. He was the perfect choice, a kindred soul in history, savvy, humor and boundless enthusiasm. The cherry on top was the peerless mastering skills of Greg Calbi, another legend and another regular collaborator of mine.
Its been 23 years since the Toadies started playing rock music in Fort Worth, Texas, but even the band will admit that the road they've taken over that lengthy period of time has been anything but smooth.
Through lineup changes, shelved albums, member departures, band break-ups, one-off reunions and full-on reformations, the Toadies are an act that has experienced nearly everything -- except, perhaps, the freedom to grow as they choose.
On July 31, the Toadies will release their fifth full-length album -- a disc fittingly called Play.Rock.Music., because, perhaps for the first time in their career, the band feels capable of unapologetically doing just that.
After bursting onto the national scene with their breakthrough Rubberneck album, which begat their signature single "Possum Kingdom," the successful follow-up single "Away" and the immense fan favorite "Tyler," the Toadies returned to the studio in 1998 with the pressure of trying to match their first album's success. The result was a disc called Feeler, an album the band's then-label home, Insterscope Records, was supposed to release in 1998/99 but decided to shelve despite the band's protests. So it was back to the drawing board for the 2001-released Hell Below/Stars Above, an awkwardly timed sophomore album that enjoyed moderate success and almost universal critical acclaim but was ultimately doomed because of the seven-year wait it took to arrive.
Without question, it is: With the band's second successful stint now having lasted almost as long as the initial run, Play.Rock.Music. showcases a band in full stride, an outfit with renewed vigor and, perhaps most important, a group with a clear and confident understanding of itself.
The Toadies' long, slithering road to this fifth full-length may not have been pretty. But should it have been? Not at all.
The Toadies don't make pretty music. They make music that music that crawls under, into and through your skin. They make music that makes neck hairs stand on end. They make music that begs to be blasted at full volume -- with haunting lyrics that bear their battle scars proudly.
The Toadies do that masterfully on Play.Rock.Music. And, Lewis promises, they plan on doing that for many other records to come, too. Surrounding the release, they'll proudly showcase this new material this summer - first, while on tour with fellow '90s stalwarts Helmet and, later, at their fifth annual Dia De Los Toadies event in New Braunfels, Texas, on August 31 and September 1.
This, after all, is a band that's released just five studio LPs in 23 years. So you get the feeling that Lewis, Reznicek, Vogeler and Blair won't mind waiting a little longer before writing the remaining chapters in their ever-undulating story.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brings end-of-the-world enthusiasm to their high-energy psychedelic funk. Their infectious electro-funk grooves, undeniable live energy and contagious smiles have their rabid fanbase “the Flock growing exponentially. Based out of Baltimore, MD, this animated quartet has been scorching up the country with their explosive performances and danceable peaks... and they're loving every minute of it
Phutureprimitive is the moniker of Bay Area producer and songwriter Rain. Early childhood photos reveal Rain sitting at the piano plinking keys, grinning from ear to ear… a true sign of things to come. Continuing his early fascination with music, Rain was later drawn to electronic music, inspired by its ability to combine the best of organically played instruments and the synthetic pleasures of sounds more exotic to the human ear. After beginning a DJ career in the 90s, Rain began incorporating the music he was making in his home studio into his DJ sets. That was all it took to trigger a full-blown love affair with electronic music and the process of its creation… and Phutureprimitive was born.
Phutureprimitive’s music is singular and unique in its approach. Lush melodies drift across intricate rhythms, groove heavy beats and warm, fuzzy bass lines. Often exploring a dark and dense palette, his music also manages to convey a sense of tranquility and beauty, engaging the listener into hypnotic movement and often escalating into a full-on kinetic experience. Shimmering with cinematic qualities, his music ultimately speaks to the body, mind and soul.
Despite electronic music’s tendency to suffer a short shelf life, Phutureprimitive has already demonstrated a timeless quality with his debut album Sub Conscious on Waveform Records, which remains the top seller on the label since its release in 2004, obtaining a cult status among fans and collectors. With a string of singles released in the interim on various labels, the birth of Native Harmonix (Rain’s own Record Label) brought us the Luminous EP in 2010; delving into a lyrical based production, supported by undulating synth work and a palpable haunting texture throughout. His second full-length release Kinetik forged new territories of emotional electronic dance music, exploring a heavier, bass-centric sound that adds raw energy to intricately detailed tracks. Kinetik still remains on the iTunes Top 100 Electronic Music Chart, 3 years after its release.
With a new collection of songs released in two parts titled Searching for Beauty in the Darkest Places, released Fall 2014 and Fall 2015, takes ideas from his previous releases and supercharges them with hard-hitting dance floor appeal, while maintaining the depth and prowess this trusted producer is so well known.
Papadosio Shapeshiftour 2017
Falling somewhere between rock, jazz and electronic mayhem we find space rock. This is a genre that is not readily defined, and is a state of mind as much as it could be considered a genre. This range of frequencies is where Papadosio tends to spend their time, sometimes dining in deep space, and other times snacking right on your front porch. Papadosio strives to create music that is strangely familiar, and calls all walks of humanity to bask in a unique experience celebrating the one constant in an ever changing world: music. Join Papadosio in an effort to create, augment, and rejoice in the universal language of music. Most importantly, have a good time.
One of Africa's most popular and recognized musicians, Habib Koité is a modern troubadour with extraordinary appeal because Koité's musicianship, wit and wisdom translate across cultures. Hailing from the musically prolific West African nation of Mali, the guitarist and composer has been named the biggest pop star of the region by Rolling Stone. Over the past decade, his artistry and magnetic personality have made him an international star, delighting audiences the world over, and placing him firmly among the leading figures in contemporary world music. Bonnie Raitt proclaims, "first there was Hendrix, then Stevie Ray, and now Habib." Koité's most recent release, Soô (which translates to home) looks squarely at his native land, a country torn apart by violence over the last two years, at a time when a real feeling of home couldn't be more vital.