Check out the two full galleries from Liquid Stranger’s live performance at El Rey on March 3rd, 2020. Find more photos from the show in Gallery 2[Read more…]
By Nichole Harwood
ABQ-Live took to the road on February 28th to explore the neighboring state of Texas and to cover indie rock band The Protomen!
Performing at the Mohawk in Austin, Texas, The Protomen delivered a dynamic performance that lit up the state’s sky as they dove into popular tracks from their self-titled album: “The Protomen;” as well as the popular prequel follow-up “Act II: The Father of Death.”
Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, the band has always stood out in any show; they are known to cosplay as the characters reflected in their music, burying their own identity in an effort to amplify fan experience. Two of their three albums paint a darker story based on the popular video game series Megaman. Unlike the games, however, the characters created by The Protomen reflect a much more broken dystopian society, forcing characters from the game, such as Dr. Light, into hiding, and heroic characters, such as Protoman and Megaman, are shunned and deserted by those they try to save.
The Protomen found no shortage of fans in the southwest as the crowd partook in multiple songs, seamlessly taking a part in the dark story. One particularly stand-out moment of the concert was the crowd chanting the chilling lines, voiced originally by a choir, from the track “The Will of One” as the lead singer stood front center wearing a version of Megaman’s iconic helmet, all while the crowd swarmed the stage.
“We keep you safe. We are your hope. We are in control,” the crowd chanted just moments before the lead singer swore to continue the fight of the iconic character “Protoman” whose death was delivered in earlier songs. While members of the dedicated fanbase certainly comprised a large part of the crowd, new fans were made that night. Many individuals who didn’t know the storyline were excitedly sucked into the experience. As the lights dimmed on stage the crowd eagerly shouted for an encore with their hopes delivered only moments later as the band took to the stage delivering one more performance for the night.
On 1-31-20, Effex hosted @this for everyone suffering from the “monday-est January”. People enjoyed a host of local artists coming together to bring joy through music. People showed up early, and as the night went on, the dance floor was crowded with a dancing souls and overwhelming laughter. Here are the photos to remember the night by.
Photographs by ABQ-Live Photographer Michael Griego
By August Edwards
Debut album Stories from indie rock trio The Ordinary Things is a finessed force, vast like the multiplicity of water.
Listening to Stories is similar to watching light refract like ice over a window, warped sparkles mesmerizing in the particular ways of delicacy. The stark song arrangements serve as a reminder that at its core, music is meant to arouse emotion through a sonic-rocket-ship-story. Jacqueline Chacon on drums and lead vocals is the cascading energy that moves Stories like waves. Justin McLaughlin slays on bass and vocals, and, almost mercifully, lays down the soul-satisfaction that only a synth can provide. Guitarist Andrew Chacon facilitates the inherent tension of the album with buoyancy and grace.
With their debut album, The Ordinary Things master subtlety, tender in their particular elicitations. Listening to the album Stories feels like brushing into someone standing near a show because of uncontrollable music-induced movement. At that moment, an electric current runs through the contact, elevating the experience. This sort of layered emotional treasure is exhibited in the track “Supposed To,” where the rhythm of guitar, bass, and vocals coincide with the intensity of an army marching in step.
The title track “Stories” ascends in a 90s-indie-rock mist. Chacon croons with Ramone’s vocal inflections. She twists vowels and adds consonants, effectively enticing the listener to join her in her own singing excursion. Through such nuances, she strikes with the rock-star balance of nerve and nonchalance.
“Let It Rain” is all one could want from a slow jam. It drives like water rushing down a sewer, pouring from a gutter; it is grunge and muddy leaves. If “Let it Rain” is glorious drainage, alternatively, “Swim in the Stars” is distilled, all about smoothness—a reflection stolen by a pool. “Swim in the Stars” is a David Bowie-like crusade.
With a sudden tumultuous display of punk rock is the “American Dream.” The chorus, “On your knees for the American dream,” is an obnoxious sentiment that works because it alleviates some of the friction that is tacit in indie rock. Heavy downbeats count as fighting for autonomy. Similarly, in “I Am the Space,” Jacqueline Chacon sings, “my body is infinite,” a song for nobody but one’s self. McLauchlin’s synths blare like trumpets during the chorus in the act of resilience.
In conclusion, Stories is an ocean tide, an exhibition of the forms of water. Like music, like water, we are malleable; Stories takes advantage of that. Memorable riffs and jarring lyrics carry the listener, epitomizing the transcendence of music.
By August Edwards
Albuquerque progressive rock band Patema seizes idealization from skill with their debut album Fathom, to be released October 31, 2019.
Fathom is about loss, innocence, and exquisite musicality. The four artists recorded on this album—all in their early twenties—have put forth everything they know about professionalism in music to project the image they wish to become.
Vocalist Jaden Lueras sings straightforward lyrics that are enhanced by his striking delivery; he coats each syllable in an authoritarian resin. Lueras also kills on lead guitar, with guitarist Jesse Orion beside him to stir up a blitz of harmonic riffs. Certain repetitive vocal and instrumental phrases make for a sort of glorious entrapment, like the feeling of breath condensation inside a rubber Halloween mask.
Hardcore-inspired drummer Jesse Goldstein and classical-oriented keyboardist Thomas Larson combined could be compared to the gothic metal band Type O Negative. Goldstein’s captivating heavy-handedness makes Fathom angry and believable as an album scaling the anxiety of loss.
Chemical engineering of the track “Anathema” detonates adrenaline. Lueras’s voice puts the listener in their place; “You stand by and watch as the sheep are slaughtered / The oppressive hand looms overhead.” “Anathema” bulldozes futility and sets fire to the ruins.
“Reflections” is effervescent with angular rhythms. This sonic spaceship-trek feels like triumph; however, with lyrics referring to a “reflection of internal atrophy,” it is about how the self can deceive and wither.
“Technicolor” is a blissful instrumental; a nine-and-a-half minute dreamscape. The word “technicolor” refers to the flamboyance of an object or idea. The Greek root techne means art or discipline at its truest, arriving at a point that cannot be reached by other means. With “Technicolor,” Patema nods to their grasp of technicality, whether deliberate or not. The track is waterfalls and hail; soft moments of cymbal kisses laced with slick seconds of hair-metal guitar licks. It is a headbanger at the least, and laser beams shooting through clouds at the most.
Despite all its bright guitar, Fathom still bites and has melancholy seeping like venom to veins. The listener is left remembering a past that never was, while longing for a future that could never be. “Once Upon a Burial” begins delicately before stony lyrics hit: “You belong here with me / I wish it were that easy.” Deceptively frank, Lueras’s voice challenges the depth of the meaning. Suddenly, something shallow has mountainous texture, like scarred tree bark that is sap-spackled and impossible to get off your hands. All the crooning of loss and self-criticism cannot cover the fact that Patema wants the listener to know they know what they are doing. There is stubborn strength in every movement of every song: resilience in dealing with alien terrain. Fathom is mobilization when longing is the vital spark that kicks the body into action.
By August Edwards
Albuquerque alt-metal quartet Ashes of Jupiter sink us into a gritty pit of rock with its new EP Fallen Kingdom, released on August 24th, 2019.
Left to right: Jared Houston, Adam Liston, Robson Guy, Tim Scarberry, and producer and engineer Ken Riley. Courtesy of Ashes of Jupiter.
Fallen Kingdom is a sweet-as-salt auditory attack for listeners. Ashes of Jupiter drummer Jared Houston and bassist Robson Guy lay down a foundation of hard rock and metal, sometimes forming the feel of an aggressive sort of blues. The band’s vocalist Adam Liston and guitarist Tim Scarberry have a cutthroat call-and-response that is versatile—saturated and stinging. Each individual of the group works independently to contribute to a torrent of adversity, ultimately melding their sounds for a staggering execution.
The tracks “Static,” “Gone,” “Coup de Gras,” and “Inevitable” are representative of looking through the gaps between stakes of a white picket fence. Through the evenly-spaced posts could be anything: dying dandelions, vicious dogs, innocuous garden gnomes, or all of the above. The coarseness of Fallen Kingdom swells like lounge music with the drive of boxing champions. Members of Ashes of Jupiter fight each other in sync.
This chaotic quality lends itself to listener disorientation. In the first track “Static,” the opening guitar riff evokes wind whipping desert sand in your face. In another act of displacing the listener, the piece exhibits a grand ending that brings a flourishing, live quality to a digital, non-live performance.
A cornerstone of Fallen Kingdom is the sublimity of Scarberry’s solos. In the track “Gone,” he stretches the musical phrases in a way that gives his guitar its own storytelling lyrics. This effect in “Coup de Gras” steeps in time over Guy’s intricate bassline—both instruments simultaneously giving the listener two very different senses of what a moment is. There is nothing menacing or disorienting about his interludes between vocals; there is nothing superfluous. It is bewitching poetry.
Alternatively, Scarberry’s hook in the track “Inevitable” is foreboding; in the song, Liston snarls, “It’ll all be over soon—you only have yourself to blame.” This track showcases an instrumental vortex. Liston’s voice transforms into a percussive, repetitive instrument as the piece progresses to fuse with his band. This blending sets a harmony of pain and hurt, distrust and fear. The somber finish to the track denotes irrevocable damage.
Ultimately, Ashes of Jupiter’s newest EP presents a defiant rock and roll strut which calls to the hardcore ebb and flow of the universe. To listen to Fallen Kingdom is to surf the fringe of lawlessness and harmony.
Courtesy of Ashes of Jupiter
By Chris Castellanos
In a genre of music that celebrates the constant flexing of sex, cars, money, and drugs, one artist, Griff Lamar, decided to take a step back before diving into the alluring shimmer of the professional hip-hop scene. Back in 2012, thousands of people knew Lamar when his song “Super Swag” played on BET’s “106 & Park.” Finding himself in a spotlight, which he had been so eager to grasp, Lamar wasn’t satisfied. For Lamar, there were voices where there weren’t any before, questioning his actions: What does my music mean? What am I saying? Will I be proud of what I have done with my voice? Lamar took a hiatus promising himself that if he ever was going to come back to hip-hop, it was going to be with something to say from the heart.
Fast forward to the start of 2019, Griff Lamar was featured by KRQE for his remake of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, staged at the KiMO Theatre. ABQ-Live had a chance to sit down with Griff Lamar and discuss how he plans to move forward in his return.
Can you tell us about yourself?
Griff Lamar, Air Force Veteran, college graduate, father. That should have been first honestly (laughs). Jack of all trades, I film my videos, I edit my videos. I write music, I have a very particular way of doing things that help me to accomplish what I want. I have a lot of ambition and it’s always been there. I am a person who makes it happen, if I want it I get it, nothing is going to stop me.”
Can you tell us a little about your song “Super Swag”?
I was going to UNM during that time. To be honest, it was something to do. I had just gotten out of the military. Because of the military, I had the benefit of going to college. I was more focused on the music. With the success of “Super Swag”, I gained a lot of confidence — it was like I knew this is the route.
To be constantly working is something that seems embedded in our culture, especially for a creator. While on your break, did you feel a lot of pressure to get back to creating music, or were you content in your hiatus?
I have to tell you why I stepped away first: I was conflicted about the message I was giving. I was on that whole wave of doing what everyone else was doing. Being young in your 20’s living that life, going out, partying, drinking, smoking, all of the above. –it was conflicting for me because I may have been living that lifestyle, but it wasn’t something I was necessarily proud of. I had a daughter at the time and as she got older, I started to realize: What am I instilling in her? What am I going to tell her as far as what she should and shouldn’t do? She can look back on me and literally look me up on YouTube. That was a big part of it. I wanted to keep my morals whether or not I saw that quick success.
I had thousands of views on YouTube, but I deleted them because I wasn’t proud of them. I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, but I knew that I didn’t want to talk about that lifestyle anymore. I didn’t want “Super Swag” to be my whole image and that’s it. There is so much more depth to me not only as an artist, but as a person and I didn’t feel that I had the opportunity or platform to really show that. I wanted to please everyone or not please but I wanted the approval. All [of] that made me want to step back. I want to make sure that I look back at what I did and be proud of it, even if they [fans] don’t like it.
In your new songs. “Energy” and “Talk About It,” the idea of a complex past keeps coming up. Can you explain why that is?
Even during the “Super Swag” era, there were plenty of songs that were more emotional, that came from my heart that had to do with my personal experiences with relationships, but those didn’t get as much attention as “Super Swag.” I wrote “Talk About It” during the “Super Swag” era, and there were other songs that I planned to release. “Talk About It” was a song I never really got behind because it was also during a time when I was wondering if I wanted to keep doing this.
Hip-hop and rap started out almost therapeutically to tell the stories of those who seemingly had no voice. How do you explain the shift from real-life struggles to a more materialistic brag?
It’s always been a part of it, even back in the early ’90s and it was so easy to get swept up into it. It’s not like I was lying. I had girls, I had money, I had friends and that whole lifestyle– it was just an aspect of my life I never wanted growing up. I know I wanted to create, I wanted to be appreciated for my talents. That whole lifestyle was a product of my environment. All of us are kind of caught up in this space where we pretend like it is the best thing to live that way, but the reality is that we are using this to cope with our issues — that’s what I was doing. I’m not going to shun people for doing that, because I know, I lived it. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that. I just can’t glorify that kind of lifestyle anymore.
Are there any influences in the music or crazy music video ideas from your experience in the Air Force?
The Air Force introduced me to some really close friends. You meet people from all over and y’all bond up, you’re tight and then go our own ways. I’ve had some of my best friendship experiences in the Air Force because I lived everywhere growing up. This was the first time I got a chance to get familiar with the area. If you asked me where Central and Wyoming are, I could tell you — that was one of the best aspects of the military — a bunch of people in an unfamiliar area and we grew to know it as well as each other. As far as writing music, not right now. As I delve deeper to tell my story, I’m sure it’ll come up.
Authenticity is another running theme in your music Can you talk about why that is important to you?
I experienced this rare thing where everyone was my friend and no one was at the same time. I didn’t have anyone checking on me or asking how I was doing I had people asking if I wanted to go party or if I knew where the party was. No one cared about asking about me. They wanted to tell me about their cousin who raps, their brothers, sisters, uncles, their mom. They wanted to tell me about all these people who hated me and then I would see these people in person and they would make a beeline for me, shake my hand, pat me on the back and tell me I’m doing a great job. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I think everyone wanted to be cool with me because they didn’t know how far I was going to go. They would say how they really felt with friends, but in public show open support to me and it was confusing. I honestly had more respect to the people [who] stood by what they said about not liking me or my music.
The way I was raised, you communicate your differences. Communication was the way you bridge the gap between personalities and differences. It comes up in the music because it’s a reality. I’m not going to pretend I don’t have my issues, because I do, just like everyone else, but I am self-aware. I don’t get in my own way and if I do, I have people around me who are going to help me.
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely wanted to shoot a music video for “Energy,” [so] I’m putting things together for that. I have a couple of other songs that have already been released that I am not actively pushing for I also plan to do videos for. I am starting a clothing line, and I designed my own logo. I am really trying to dig my hands into every aspect of this. I’m going to hit the ground running, go places. If you like good music, good art, I’m your guy. More than anything good work that I’m proud of.
Griff Lamar’s new music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
By Nichole Harwood
Musician Richard Mittelstet released the song “Albuquerque!” on Feb. 23 along with an accompanying music video highlighting what he loved about the Duke City.
His description praised Albuquerque describing it as not only the birthplace of his daughter and home for four years but as a quiet diverse city with much unity and love.
With as much passion and love that has been injected into the lyrics, a casual listener of the song may, however, may find it surprising that Mittelstet had not always felt so strong about Albuquerque.
Mittelstet’s journey to discovering Albuquerque and his love for the city began when his wife was accepted into the University of New Mexico. After receiving the acceptance letter the two quickly packed their bags for the Duke City.
Mittelstet didn’t know what to expect of his new home for the next four years. Everything he ever remembered hearing about Albuquerque was blanketed in negativity and he was uncertain what the future held in store for him.
It didn’t take long, however, for that uncertainty to transform into wonder. Rather than battling with a bleak and dangerous environment Mittelstet instead found himself immersed in a city filled with culture, diversity and a thriving music scene.
“There was so much art and artistic people out there going to different open mics and just getting out and sharing their gifts while being able to just express themselves,” Mittelstet said.
As a musician, Mittelstet found himself inspired by the culture of Albuquerque quickly finding venues to play in and even establishing a regularly scheduled performance at Java Joe’s.
Outside of his growth as an artist, Mittelstet found renewed interest in hobbies he had long left behind including biking and hiking. With his home located near Old Town, Mittelstet and his wife would often walk among the local shops together taking in the art and the culture of the city.
“There is so much talent in Albuquerque and New Mexico in general,” he said. “So many gifted artists and it was great to be immersed in that.”
As his time in Albuquerque neared its end Mittelstet was struck with inspiration on October of 2016 and staring at the city that was his home for many years Mittelstet wrote a song to encapsulate what he loved about it.
“Sometimes the songs just fall out of the sky and that one definitely did,” he said. “Albuquerque is the only city I have written a song for.”
With footage being shot in May of 2017 for an accompanying video the song titled “Albuquerque!” was released. A musician’s goodbye to a city that had helped him grow in his musical career and as an individual.
Now residing in his new home in Richfield, Minnesota Mittelstet said he still treasures many of his memories from his time in Albuquerque. One that stood out among the rest involved events put together by friend and fellow musician Seth Hoffman who has also released his own song serenading the Duke City titled “Albuquerque Nights.”
Hoffman, Mittelstet said would host an open mic for musicians regularly attracting a mix of professional and amateur musicians. The venue would encourage new musicians to play and the crowd would be receptive to a variety of musical styles performed, he said.
“I would just love that because he would just invite everybody and anybody,” Mittelstet said. “He would make an environment of just peace and love.”
While Mittelstet no longer reside in Albuquerque his time in the Duke City is one that he will never forget as he continues to move forward as a musician.
“When I go out and play in front of people I feel fulfilled. It’s what I am supposed to be doing. So that’s what I’m hoping for in the future,” Mittelstet said. “The opportunity to play music for as many people as I possibly can.”
On the 29th of November, Rio Bravo Brewery along with 104.1 The Edge and a select group of individuals who won tickets to the event, enjoyed an exclusive acoustic show with Blue October’s lead singer Justin Furstenfeld and violinist Ryan Delahoussaye. The intimate, emotional, and at times personal show may have lasted all night if the band had it’s way. Furstenfeld wanted to stay, play and talk. The band stayed for a personal farewell and meet and greet after their set for all their fans.[Read more…]