CODAS “Currents” streaming via Ghost Cult

Sleep Lady guitarist and ex-San Diegan, now Brooklyn transplant, Mario Quintero, is set to release CODAS “Currents” on June 2.

The record is streaming via Ghost Cults now. This is some spectacular guitar-based riff worship in the tradition of Mogwai, Don Caballero, And So I Watched You From Afar with nods to prog, hardcore and a little bit of Jesu for good measure.That’s just referential shit for lazy listeners, CODAS is doing some really interesting work in that space. Manipulating the template in a way that is new without losing momentum.

I only wish he didn’t have to move across the country to do it. Hope they’ll play SD in the future.

Listen at the link below.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.23.14 AM

Iska Dhaaf “Dependency” – Video

I met musician, singer and songwriter and all-around beautiful human, Benjamin Verdoes over a decade ago while he was a member of the critically overlooked Seattle indie rock band, In Praise of Folly. I was writing and editing pieces for the now defunct, and featured his band a few times.

Over the years, I’ve kept in touch with Ben via Facebook.

A generous and genuine spirit, Ben always reached out via text message or call, with an invitation to come hang out and see his band, Mt. Saint Helens Vietnam Band whenever they happened to tour through San Diego.

I’ve relished watching him grow as an artist and person.

His latest project, Iska Dhaaf (Somali for “let it go”), is an NYC-based duo with guitarist and singer, Nathan Quiroga. The band released their album, Even the Sun Will Burn last year.

The video for the song “Dependency” is poignant and features singer Nathan Quiroga’s father, Armondo Quiroga.

While it is an extremely personal song, the theme is universal. Be it drug, substance or dependency on a person, “Dependency” addresses the faults and frailty of being a human in this world without casting aspersions or inhabiting some morally righteous high ground.

Algiers “Black Eunuch” – Video Single

These talented Atlanta cats are poised to drop their self-titled on Matador.

Definitely worthy of more than a cursory listen.

Can’t wait to hear the full LP.

Is Algiers a reference to Old Bull Lee’s LA. home? Or the the capital city of Algeria?

There’s some voodoo in this tune.

Keep an ear open for the ghost of Joan Vollmer.

Vietcong “Continental Shelf”

Counting the days until this Calgary band makes the gradually warming drive south to San Diego for their performance at the Soda Bar.

In the meantime, I’ve got this charming Dario Argento-worship music video for their song “Continental Shelf” to keep me guessing.

The Good Life: An Interview with Tim Kasher

I love indie rock. Cursive is indie rock. So is Tim’s other band, The Good Life. Sometimes when I listen to Storms of Early Summer, I’ll listen to Album of the Year directly after. They are a part of a whole. A body of work from one of our generations most talented artists. I had the pleasure of drinking with Matt and Tim at the bowling alley in Claremont a few years back before a Cursive show. It was great. I had the pleasure of drinking with Tim at the Casbah before a Good Life show a few years back as well. Music and booze–the bringer together of people and things.

the good lifeOmaha, Nebraska, is known for its rash of indie rock bands that bubbled up to the surface of the mainstream in the past few years. Bands like The Faint, Cursive and Bright Eyes have burst out of obscurity and ‘fringe’ into a quality music-hungry public itching for something new and honest and, of course, relevant. It’s a local scene that has taken its queue’s from like-minded record companies like Dischord and Jade Tree—labels that make the big companies flush with envy.

There, in Omaha, amidst the wind from the Rocky Mountains and the tan and green sea of wheat and corn, are where most of the bands housed on local record company, Saddle Creek, reside. Founded by members of Cursive and The Faint, Saddle Creek has etched out a successful niche in a market that has been rife with poorly conceived music. Saddle Creek, like its contemporaries, offered up the alternative

Tim Kasher, lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Cursive, has another band that many neophyte Cursive fans may be unfamiliar with called, The Good Life. Originally started as an alternative outlet for Tim’s prolific songwriting, The Good Life has come into its own as one of the great bands that, while maintaining Tim’s vocal style and honest lyrics, separates itself nicely and equally apart from his other project.

The Good Life’s latest outing on Saddle Creek is titled, Album of the Year. All pretense aside, Album of the Year is a trip through the months of the year beginning with that lonely halfling month of April (“Album of the Year”), and ending with that decidedly bright spring month of March (“Two Years This Month”). A highly talented songwriter, Tim takes the listener on a journey of a year in a relationship, a theme that rears its head in almost all of his compositions. Whereas for Cursive, Tim’s lyrics are a bit more esoteric, with The Good Life his prose is much more user-friendly.

Tim was about 14 when he picked up his first guitar and joined his first band, March Hares, with fellow Cursive member and bassist Matt Maginn. Tim’s first recollection of music came when he was a child. “I remember sitting around Sunday morning on the floor as my parents read the paper, and I think that’s what I think of when looking back. I think that’s when I started understanding music as it was coming out of the speakers, I also learned how to put records on because we had all these 7-inch and albums.

“I took some local music lessons when I was a teenager and took some classical guitar lessons when I was in college, but not for very long,” he adds.

“I think at the time they helped, but I’d like to go and take them again. I took some vocal lessons also, just to help me learn how to sing correctly. I think any kind of intensive studying of guitar is helpful.”

Just after Cursive released a split EP, 8 Teeth to Eat You, with Japanese rockers Eastern Youth, Tim had a life-changing experience in the form of a collapsed lung. It was an unfortunate event that took him off the road for several months and made many fans step up to the plate, giving what they could by way of donations to help him pay for the costly operation and rehabilitation. While it was a traumatizing event for Tim, it also was a time of great healing. He says, “It took a while. But doing the vocals for Ugly Organ kind of doubled as therapy. The first day that we started, we looked at each other and thought maybe we should wait another six months, but as we did it my vocals grew stronger every day. I think the positive benefit of something like that happening was that I lived a very healthy lifestyle for a big chunk of time. I was in a smoke-free environment in the hospital for a long time, and when I was recovering I wasn’t drinking at all and getting a lot of sleep. It was actually a good opportune time for my lungs and vocal chords to get cleaned out.”

An experience like that would seem like the kind to change a person—or perhaps the way they go about creating a song. Yet, Tim says, “I don’t ever really feel like it has (changed). As an example, I don’t ever really think about it that much because it was a very mortal experience so it’s kind of a lot different than your run-of-the-mill difficult situation. It’s more serious because you don’t know if you’re living or dying so you kind just shut off, or at least that’s what I did. It’s probably the most emotionless I’ve ever been. So I don’t think it’s really had an effect on anything like that.”

When it comes to writing for The Good Life, Tim says, “It’s not really all that different (from Cursive). I write for both on acoustic guitar and tend to write mostly in my apartment. The difference is that I think I have a tendency to write more Good Life songs because I have a more relaxed approach to writing for that band, just more for the joy of playing guitar and humming along to it and writing lyrics.

“It’s more of a natural process. Cursive is a lot of sitting down and playing guitar but not really coming up with things that I think are right. Those songs get translated so differently when it gets to the band, so sometimes when I bring something that I think is okay, it gets translated by the band and it sounds great. And sometimes I’ll bring something to the band that I think is great and something gets lost in the translation and doesn’t turn out so great.

“I don’t know—I guess it’s more of a profit thing with Cursive and more enjoyable with The Good Life. But I like working, so I like the difficult process,” he adds with a laugh.

If Cursive is ‘buzzworthy,’ then The Good Life is exactly what its name suggests—good but filled with all that ‘life’ stuff that comes with waking up every morning.

Visit for more info on The Good Life

Cursive: An Interview with Matt Maginn

Matt Maginn was a rad interview. Actually the whole band is amazing. Every time they would come to SD we’d meet for a drink, an actual bout of drinking prior to their playing. No attitude, just kindness. A band on the road. I’m still on the fence with regards to their latest record but I enjoy the body of their work, sometimes listener and band aren’t in the same place. I’ll have to take another shot at Happy Hollow. An awesome split they did with Eastern Youth called Eight Teeth to Eat You With should make its way into your collection ASAP!


Tim Kasher sceams that line in the song of the same title in Cursive’s new album, The Ugly Organ, without being perfunctory and with a vengeance reserved for Russian poets and mafioso’s. Cursive’s new album is at times both introspective and slighting, with reference to the band in the third person that sounds surprised that they are playing music. Cursive formed in 1995 when members of the March Hares, Stephen Pedersen, Matt Maginn, and Tim Kasher asked drummer, Clint Schnase to join their new project. From there the band recorded a four song 7″ called The Disruption, on Maginn’s fledgling Indie label Saddle Creek (home to Bright Eyes and The Faint). Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes, was Cursive’s first full length, also released on Saddle Creek. Blinding Stars, is in effect, a an early indicator album, one which tells a tale of what is to come, with brilliant songs and gut wrenching lyrics and Kasher’s unique wail, it had the pretension of a brilliant future.

Matt Maginn, childhood friend of Tim Kasher and the driving low end of one of the most prolific bands in the indie rock world has the world at his fingertips. He helped start and works for the mid-west powerhouse indie label, Saddle Creek, which hosts artists like Bright Eyes, Sorry About Dresden and The Faint. Matt started playing music in his youth, around the age of 14 he started playing in a band yet he had been ‘messing around’ with instruments since he was a young boy. Matt played bass in some early incarnations of Cursive and finally ended up forming Cursive with his friends in the last few years of high school.

Cursive had been looking for a way to add a new dynamic to the already unique sound of Cursive and decided instead of going for the typical keyboard addition, settled on the idea of adding a cello to the band.

“Cello and violin and more of the classical type of instruments, you don’t expect them to be in a rock band a lot of the time. We were looking for a way to add another dimension to the sound and cello provided that. So we went on a luckily very short search for a cello player and it did exactly as we hoped. We wanted to, rather than just add your typical keyboard, which we also did add, we wanted to find an instrument even farther removed from the rock genre.” Matt says.

Indeed, Cursive’s cello makes their brand of rock haunting and interesting without sounding experimental and maintaining certain aesthetics of rock and roll. So while you still had the elements of Cursive’s superior songwriting at work, there was an addition of a distinct new voice to the sound, Gretta Cohn’s contribution to Cursive has rounded out their sound, softened the edges so instead of looking at a high gloss photo, one is forced to look closer, and beneath there is more beauty, like a musical collage.

Writing in Cursive consists of similarities with other bands and their contemporaries, yet the added voice provides fresh challenges. “Usually the ideas of the songs are brought in by Tim and Ted. And everyone writes their own ideas into what they are doing. So they bring the basic framework and we build the rest.”

Tim and Matt have been playing together their whole lives. While they were 14 and 15 years old they played in March Hares and later formed Slow Down Virginia. Matt took lessons, “Everyone, at least all of the current members of Cursive except for Gretta took similar paths (in reference to lessons). We all took lessons for a year or two, to kind of learn the basics and then went out on our own after that. It helps you to develop your own sound and voice, rather than become too trained.”

Matt’s musical influences range from everything from The Clash and the Sex Pistols to U2 and REM to more, “Bizarre, random bands like Squeeze, Guada Canal Diary and other bands like The Specials, The Jam, Untouchables, just all over the place really.”

Matt was one of a number of people who help start Saddle Creek Records. He says that, “It was sort of like a collective where everybody did their thing and would pool their money together to help release the records. It really existed that way until 96 or 97 then it was sort of restructured by Rob and Mike Mogiss and in 98 Rob quit his full time job to work on the label. It was a conglomeration of current members of The Faint and Cursive that sort started the label.”

A lot of what goes into running an independent label is being thrifty, having a bunch of kick ass bands on the label and being smart about expenditures. Matt adds that, “the way Saddle Creek is run its still a collective, other bands helping each other out and even helping other bands out in Omaha. It’s pretty community oriented.”

The Ugly Organ, was recorded at Presto, Mike Mogiss’s studio in Lincoln, NB. “The way he does it there he records the main instruments; guitars, drums, base and cello onto two inch analog tape and then dumps it down into digital. So you get the ease of use with digital and the analog sound.”

Cursive is coming to your town, touring in support of The Ugly Organ, with Pedersen’s new band, Criteria. There is hundreds of bands out there but Cursive is one you should go and check out.

For more info, go to

Or info on Saddle Creek, visit

Minus the Bear

Another vault feature from 2004. This was before MTB became the underdog darlings they are today. I had been a huge fan of Botch and Sharks Keep Moving and when I first heard Highly Refined Pirates I was impressed. I remember Paul at Double Entendre in Denver not being too stoked with their blatant lyrical male chauvinism but being a fan of Bukowski I thought it was clever and mostly character driven. You should do yourself a favor and go and pick up Planet of Ice. It rules.

Minus the Bear hails from Seattle, WA, a place well known for its slew of innovative bands.  Not the kind of bands every grandmother and flannel shirt purchaser of the early nineties knows about though.  Bands of the North West coast like Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Murder City Devils, Undertow (RIP), Pretty Girls Make Graves, Integrity (RIP) and many more notable bands that have scarred the underground, ripping open new wounds to let in the knife of creativity that so often stagnates in the emergency room hipness of New York City and Los Angeles.

Minus the Bear, a veritable host of past indie rock members from bands that had great influence like Sharks Keep Moving (Jake-Vocals, Guitar) and Botch (Dave-Guitar) and Kill Sadie (Erin-drums, Cory-bass).  Dave was a trombone player in the 6th grade and Jake was an avid fan of music from an early age, his influences were from his older brothers friends.

“I took lessons for about three months or so, but that was about it.  I never really learned how to sight read or anything.”  Dave says on his early years as a guitarist, prior to playing guitar in Botch when I caught up with the band at local San Diego live music hot spot, The Casbah.

Jake had a similar upbringing in the guitar world, “I started playing when I was about 12.  The lessons I took, I would just bring in some Metallica songs and the Teacher would just show me how to play the songs.”

Minus the Bear was started as a side project of all the members and initially was just an outlet and break from the other bands they were in though eventually it culminated in a fulltime band as the other bands dissolved.

Minus the Bear’s music is what the logical progression of musicians from former bands should be, progressive.  In that it’s not just a new name with the same sound, or some alliance of musicians that just want to redo what they had done in their former bands.  Relive their glory days so-to-speak. According to Dave, “it’s a different kind of energy (from Botch). You can still get the same kind of intensity out of it whether its playing and going ape sh*t like in Botch or if its playing in Minus the Bear where its more feeling.”

Don’t count Minus the Bear out from the 9-5 world.  While the young insta-punk bands get signed with major label contracts, cash advances and paid tours and merch, Minus the Bear continues to “keep it real” although, admittedly, they would like to see that aspect change.

“We’re trying to (transition) make this (band) a full time gig, but the level we are at isn’t such that, we can make it as a full time band,” says Dave.

As far as major label signing goes, Jake speculates, “Any deal with any label regardless if it’s an Indie or a Major, it just depends on the deal.  If the deal is good and the contract is good than we would consider that.  If we like the bands and music the label puts out then we would definitely consider it.”

Minus the Bear rock the Casbah in San Diego and continue on their West Coast Tour then finish and move on to play five dates in Japan.  Dave is one of the most amazing guitarists to see live and without the light show from the Botch days hindering the performance viewing, it’s worth a look.

Check them out at

Sirens from the North: Tegan and Sara


As the old tale of the sea goes, mythological creatures called Sirens resided on rocks far enough from shore so that when their sweet voices lulled the ships and sailors near them, the ships would crash on the rocks. The last sounds those sailors would hear were the Sirens’ angelic voices. It’s kind of morbid in a sense, so if you take out the rocks/sailors/shipwreck and leave in the voices of the Sirens, then you’ve got an inkling of how powerful Tegan and Sara are, especially on their latest release, So Jealous (Sanctuary Records).

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Tegan and Sara are bringing a certain amount of frosty acoustic rock to the table, which draws inspiration from bands they were listening to in the early ’90s, as well as a healthy dose of classic rock, passed down from their parents. The sisterly combination, along with the fact that they’re twins, is a powerful source of inspiration for Tegan and Sara, but can also be a bit of problem when it comes to disagreements. Luckily, separation seems to breed creativity since Tegan lives in Vancouver and Sara lives in Montreal, which is basically on the opposite ends of Canada. Suffice to say, when Tegan and Sara get together to make music, a connection is formed—and having two heads focusing on writing songs is always better than one.

As evidenced by previous releases and again on their latest album, Tegan and Sara compliment each other perfectly; voices reach beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed by loves-lost lyrics and stellar instrumentation. With drummer Rob Chursinoff and bassist Chirs Carlson rounding out the band, So Jealous was born from Tegan and Sara’s tape demos, made during time off after their previous tour. Further expanding upon their delicate pop sound, former Weezer/The Rentals band member Matt Sharp makes a guest appearance on So Jealous, bouncing between the Moog, Casio and organ to create some deliciously melodious hooks.

In 2000, Tegan and Sara released their debut album, This Business of Art, to much fanfare, and from there began a cult following of folks who loved the clever lyrics and intertwining lead vocals of the acoustic guitar-toting sisters. They released their second album, If It Was You, in 2002 and, as most artists are prone to do, they managed to grow and expand on their sound. With the release of their latest record, Tegan and Sara helmed the production seats, making sure that all parties met the integrity of their vision so that the intimacy of their home recordings could come out of the project.

Although the girls got their start in their teens, their interest and participation began much sooner than that. Sara says, “We actually started playing guitar and playing in bands when we were about 15. Our parents were super into music. They were really young when they had us—total ’70s parents, so there were always records lying around, and there was always music. So my whole life I’ve always been listening to music, and even my grandparents and everybody around me has always introduced me to different types of music.

“When we were in [seventh grade], I would say we started branching out and getting into our own style of music. Instead of listening to what our parents were listening to, or listening to the radio, we started getting into alternative music. There was a radio station that started up on the AM dial in Calgary that was sort of similar to a college radio station but slightly more mainstream or whatever. That’s where we discovered bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement and the Replacements—that kind of stuff, which got us into indie rock. In high school, again we were branching out further, musically—eventually to the point where we wanted to start playing our own songs.”

She adds, “We used to go to gigs and punk shows, and I never really thought I could do it until I started playing guitar, and then I knew that I really wanted to do it.”

Tegan and Sara had the requisite piano lessons growing up. “I played piano for eight or nine years, but it never lent itself to how I approached guitar,” Sara says. “I really didn’t think of it the same as far as with piano I was learning scales and classical pieces, and it never really inspired me to write my own songs. But with guitar, it was easy to emulate who I was spending all my time listening to, you know? As soon as I started playing guitar, I was like ‘screw’ lessons; I was ready to start writing my own songs.

“I think in a loose kind of way [piano lessons correlate to guitar]. I mean, I wasn’t terrific at guitar theory because I was competent in piano theory, but I also think it gave me an understanding of how music works. It had developed a rhythm in me, one that I had hammered out for years and years, so it was definitely a natural instinct. I definitely think more classically and technically about the piano than I do about the guitar.”

For being in the same band and being twins, Tegan and Sara take an interesting approach to songwriting—they don’t write together and “never really wrote together,” according to Sara. The first song Sara ever wrote was inspired by her sister. “The first song I ever wrote, Tegan was sick and she had these purple Etnies shoes that I loved, and when she was sick I asked her if I could borrow them. That was the only time I got to wear them was when she couldn’t go to school. So anyway, when I got back from school that day, we had both started fooling around with our guitars then, and I remember she was really sick and asked me what school had been like that day, so I started writing a song. It was called, “Tegan Didn’t Go to School Today,” and it was about her being sick and me having to go to school all by myself—we used to hate not going to school together. We had this routine and it was always awkward for one of us to be at school without the other.”

She adds, laughing, “So that was the first song I wrote!”

Now, several years later, Tegan and Sara have truly come full circle with So Jealous. Working with John Collins, David Carswell and Howard Redekopp on the boards, Tegan and Sara have crafted a warm, indie-pop-fused record with lots of contagious hooks. “It was a lot more formal this time around because we were in a studio instead of recording in people’s houses like past records. Actually, I liked it more because when we were recording in people’s houses it felt like we were never done. When we were done, we’d just close the door to the room, but it was the same house you’d been sitting in the whole day. But with the studio we had it locked out for 12 hours, and when we were done, we’d go home and have dinner and do laundry and watch TV in [our] own house and so it felt more like a job. Or, not like a job, but it felt like there were more boundaries, I guess.

“But the actual recording process of this record differed because we co-produced this record. We were there a lot more, so we had a considerable amount of control on how it sounded and what we wanted it to sound like. We were kind of learning by the seat of our pants but also taking some of the skills we had both learned by working with Pro Tools in the past and applying it in the process. I definitely felt more confident in the studio this time, but I also felt that I had a considerable amount of more work to do as a result. I kept thinking, ‘Why couldn’t we get somebody else to do this?’ because some days I just wanted to leave, but there were decisions that had to be made so that we got exactly what we were looking for.”

Tegan and Sara are currently gearing up for a North American tour in support of The Con, their debut for Warner Brothers and first major label release. Recorded with a big fat budget by Chris Walla, featuring Jason Mcgerr and some other highly talented members of Death Cab for Cutie. Tegan and Sara do a lot of outreach, like playing the Bridge School* Benefit Concert in San Francisco, an all-acoustic concert founded by Neil Young to benefit children with severe communication disabilities. They were first signed to Neil Young’s imprint, Vapor Records.

*The Bridge School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative and alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies.

The Bridge School is an internationally recognized leader in the education of children who use augmentative and alternative communication and has developed unique programs and trained highly skilled professionals in the use of state-of-the-art assistive technology.

For more on the concert and school, click here

So Jealous was an amazing record. I’m just getting used to the idea that Tegan and Sara are probably going to get really big this year, relatively speaking. It is time that music and artists who make records take back the spotlight from the single making folks, even if its only for a short time. The title track on “The Con” is one of the stand out tracks. Pick it up. I’ll be doing a review for HYPEzine on it, so go check it out!