Category Archives: FEATURES

Will Johnson: This Charming Man

Centro-matic vet Will Johnson returns with a stellar solo LP

Will Johnson used to split his time among Centro-matic, South San Gabriel and solo albums, each filed under, respectively but roughly, rocking alt-country, restrained folk and somber singer/songwriter fare. Plus, there were side gigs like a one-off collaboration with Jason Molina or stints with the Monsters Of Folk and the New Multitudes. He mostly splits time today between family life raising two kids in Austin and working on solo records, such as the new Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm (although South San Gabriel is still active).

He’s traded being prolific for being productive, quantity for … well, the quality has always been there. Johnson used to try to write a song a day. “It was just a discipline that I wanted to respect,” he says. “I truly wanted to give it the amount of time that I felt it deserved every day and treat it like a job.”

Now, he thinks about writing when he’s on trail runs and records demos in hotel bathrooms when he’s on the road doing living-room tours. He’s reconsidered, by necessity and by choice, his goals. “Maybe it’s not necessary to stick with that kind of quantity and now it’s time to focus on writing good songs, writing songs that still turn me on, with melodies and characters and situations that still feel compelling to my eye and my ear,” he says. “I’m not writing as much as I used to, but I’m writing with more care than I used to, if that makes sense.”

Not that stellar records such as Centro-matic’s Love You Just The Same or South San Gabriel’s Welcome, Convalescence (which both came out in 2003) lacked care or ambition. But the songs on Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm are longer and more character-driven; they’re more thoughtful, with subtler textures and arrangements. It’s a collection of tunes about people who are “good souls but doing bad things, or at least flirting with it,” says Johnson. “I started going down a well of putting characters in questionable situations, sometimes good characters in bad situations.”

The LP is populated with drug abusers, strippers and cheaters with names like Ruby Shameless and Mazie May, treated with empathy and compassion and often framed by pretty melodies. That dichotomy between lyrics full of emotional turmoil and music full of peaceful beauty is something that Johnson first explored on his 2004 effort Vultures Await. “I was trying to work with pretty melodies and pretty piano parts but with characters and with subject matter that was pretty tough,” he says. “There was a juxtaposition with that. It’s something I’ve messed around with over the years, and I always enjoyed mashing the two together and seeing where it goes.”

Not that Hatteras Night is entirely restrained. “With the absence of Centro-matic, there is occasionally a want to go ahead and crank up the guitars and pull the rip cord with the volume every once in a while,” says Johnson.

“Every Single Day Of Late” is full of dark, ominous electric guitar, and “Heresy And Snakes” churns with the power of a Magnolia Electric Co. song. “The effect that Magnolia had on me and Jason’s writing had on me was massive from the start—I just felt a kinship with it from afar,” says Johnson, recalling his late friend.

Hatteras Night is Johnson’s first solo outing since 2015’s Swan City Vampires. For now, he’s not at risk of being called “prolific,” which he laughs at as a backhanded compliment anyway: “I don’t think too much about that, but when I do it’s kind of like they’re saying, ‘He’s just an all right student— but he’s got the best attendance!’”

—Steve Klinge

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Wolf Eyes: (Inner) Space Is The Place

On its near-500th release since forming in 1996, prolific Detroit noise-terrorists Wolf Eyes turn inward and down on Undertow

To hear the members of Wolf Eyes tell it, their short, strange trip from the metallic KO of their 2015 full-length, I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces, to the uneasy introspection of their latest, Undertow, materialized honestly enough.

Mind In Pieces was our rock record, and we can’t really out-rock that, you know?” says John Olson, one of the band’s two primary creative forces. “Over the years, we’ve invented our own language to map out our own sonic worlds. And we just keep drawing from that language—there’s a lot of freedom there. We were hanging out with Danny (Ray Thompson) and Marshall (Allen) from Sun Ra’s Arkestra, and they told us they’d wait for months for Sun Ra to bring the band together, then play a traditional thing to show their musical chops. But Sun Ra would be like, ‘I don’t wanna hear that, play as weird as possible!’”

“‘Make it sing like a bird,’” adds Nate Young, the group’s longest-tenured member. “‘Sound like machinery.’ So many cats, when they got to that point in their career, couldn’t do that. It’s so inspiring that Sun Ra looked for people who could. We’re always switching instrumentation and lusting for new sonic worlds. We get some sketches down and then a force comes out and we haunt that force until we feel like our work is done, then zip out of there and check the map for the next available entry point to a new world.”

If its prior album was the experimental collective’s attempt at channeling Blue Cheer by way of Swans, then its latest is an equally sincere effort to run the early jam-based work of Can and Kraftwerk through a Butthole Surfers blender, circa Hairway To Steven. On tracks like “Texas,” woodwinds hover peacefully above the din while white-noise guitar effects and electronic scree sit beneath it all like a primordial ooze draining volubly from a swamp. Others, such as “Thirteen” and the bleak tone-poem title track, convey a sense of a giant ocean liner gliding through a black winter sea: quietly steering its way through terror as icebergs capable of tearing the ship’s hull to shreds loom just beneath the surface. It may very well be the quietest work in the band’s catalog, but it’s not easy listening.

“You could call it downer folk,” says Olson. “Or maybe R&B after the apocalypse. Smokey Robinson and (Robert) Zemeckis hanging out together in a cabin somewhere in Michigan.”

“I consider what we do to be electronic,” says Young. “In my head, I’m always thinking we’re closer to R&B, but really, we’re more like contemporary electronic soul. We’re fans of early Kraftwerk when it was only flute, guitar, bongos and shit. Music at large. Yes, there are noise and found sounds, but we’re attempting to bring musicality to it. Olson brings a different woodwind instrument to practice every day.”

“Nate’s current setup is like a portable musique concrète studio,” says Olson. “The woodwinds just add a three-dimensional aspect to it all.”

“We’re flirting with a lot of sexy sax—we try to go downtown with that shit,” says Young. “We’re not just collecting spare change; we’re straight-up taking cash!”

No matter what the band may have intended, its independent spirit is perfect for the bizarro-world times in which we now live, its ethos and seemingly tireless work ethic having produced a new imprint (Lower Floor Music) in which music both created and curated by Wolf Eyes will be issued in new and archival versions. If any of this reminds you of, say, SST Records back in its prime, there’s more than a passing similarity between the DIY punk ethos that ruled/bucked against the limitations of the Reagan era and the group’s commitment to doing the same in the age of Trump.

“It’s one thing to invent your own words, quite another to use them in a sentence in your own way,” says Olson. “The book of our band could be 60 pages, or 18 volumes. You don’t always have to read the whole thing, but it’s there. Thirty years from now, we’ll all be glad there’s these tapes and a thousand ways to define our sound rather than whatever some label told us they could do.”

“I’ve read Ron Asheton interviews where at some of the earliest Stooges gigs—the Psychedelic Stooges!—there were pieces of sheet metal and some tap dancing shoes or a vacuum cleaner being fed through a reverb pedal,” says Young. “Our other genre is ‘revolt!’”

—Corey duBrowa

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Lydia Ainsworth: The Sweet Hereafter

Lydia Ainsworth explores the subconscious on Darling Of The Afterglow

The songs Lydia Ainsworth composes to support her poignant explorations of love gone wrong are delicately balanced between the warm, romantic sounds of classical music and the jarring, icy tones of modern electronica. On Darling Of The Afterglow, the Toronto resident’s second LP, she floats down into subterranean currents of the subconscious to investigate the border between dreams and nightmares.

“This album is a scrapbook of my experiences over the past few years,” she says. “The music can be forlorn and despondent and, perhaps, hinting at mortality. I’m always exploring loneliness, isolation and the desire to communicate more honestly. I try to convey our internal dialogue and the way we censor ourselves in order to be understood. While I was writing the songs, I was inspired by the story of a woman who had a stroke. She lost the ability to perceive three dimensions. She saw in two dimensions, and although she could function in the world, every moment was a new moment. She couldn’t retain the memories of anything she did. That sparked the idea of selective memory. Are we selective in what we remember? What are we choosing to ‘not see’ in our day-to-day lives?”

That theme is frequently revisited on Darling Of The Afterglow. Glistening keyboards and moaning electric bass support Ainsworth’s breathless voice on “Open Doors,” an ode to a man who closes his eyes to the love that’s been standing in front of him. On “Afterglow,” her impressive multitracked vocals wander through outer space, searching for a release that may be more spiritual than physical. The effect is otherworldly.

“I studied film scoring at NYU with Joan La Barbara, who uses extended vocal techniques—trills, whispers, cries and exhaled notes,” she says. “On this album, I used my voice to create vocal samples to add texture to the tracks. The human voice is a magical thing. I’m always blown away by the power you can get when you have voices blending together.”

Ainsworth thought she was going to be an orchestral composer or a writer of film scores. Despite her impressive vocal abilities, she was always a shy performer, even though she loved choral music and dreamed of being a singer and a songwriter.

“I got a six-CD stereo and listened to music all hours of the day and night, which my mother didn’t like,” she says. “In high school, I played cello, sitting in the back of the orchestra, observing the other players and becoming obsessed with the idea of writing for an orchestra. While working on a score for an experimental film in college, the director encouraged me to add vocals to one of the tracks. After the film was done, he asked me to perform at the wrap party. I only had that one song, so I quickly wrote a few more and put together a band. We played them, and by the end of the night, I realized how much I loved writing songs and playing for a live audience. I’ve never stopped.”

—j. poet

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Imelda May: Life And How To Live It

Following a divorce and the resulting depression, Imelda May hit the reset button with Life, Love, Flesh, Blood

Imelda May swears she never intended for this to happen. But the imposing Celtic rockabilly throne she’s effortlessly occupied since her hiccupy No Turning Back debut in 2003 now sits dusty and vacant. Incidents beyond her control forced her to abdicate three years ago and segue into the muted, Laurel Canyon-lissome beauty of her new T Bone Burnett-produced metamorphosis, Life, Love, Flesh, Blood.

“I just wanted to start from scratch, with absolutely everything, because everything I thought I knew about myself, I didn’t,” declares the diva, who was lovingly proclaimed by Bono “The other queen of Ireland” when she made a surprise appearance at U2’s 2015 homecoming concert in Dublin.

Gone are the ’50s-retro fashions and signature cinnamon-bun hairdo, replaced by eyebrow-length bangs and a casual look reminiscent of early Françoise Hardy. And May is no longer steamrolling through rockabilly stompers like a young Wanda Jackson—she delivers a Patsy Cline-classy performance on carefully considered ballads like “Human,” “Call Me,” “Black Tears” (featuring ethereal filigrees from her longtime chum Jeff Beck), “Sixth Sense” and a gospel-fervent “When It’s My Time” (with Jools Holland on subtly skeletal piano). Only on slinky R&B hip-shaker “Bad Habit”—about trying to avoid superfluous expenses and stick to a tight budget—does the singer even approach her old groove, albeit in a decidedly more subdued, reserved manner. Burnett maintains a haunted, catacomb-echoed mix throughout. When they first started work on the record, May says, “He told me, ‘I know who you are. I’ve watched you. And you weren’t ready for me before, but now you are.’ And I completely agreed.”

What force majeure changes shook May’s world so thoroughly? For one, the gradual dissolution of her marriage to guitarist Darrel Higham, from whom she officially split in July 2015. The paperwork on the couple’s divorce is nearly final. As she tells it, the breakup had been coming for a while. The pair wrote, toured and recorded together, and they were always of one mind when focusing on her Sun Session-y sound. “We had such a common interest in work, and we loved to chat about it,” she says. “But when work stopped, and you go home, and then there’s nothing left to talk about? That can be quite difficult. So I think we just grew apart, and it wasn’t easy to admit that.”

May and her ex have a daughter, Violet, now four, and she figured heavily into the separation. “Just having her makes you see that she deserves more, she deserves a lot of joy and happiness, and both of us decided that to be apart would be better for her,” she says, candidly.

May is nothing if not candid. Admittedly, she went through a dark, depressing period just trying to figure things out on her own. Monthly finances became a concern (hence “Bad Habit,” wherein she waives purchasing a pair of pricey Louboutin heels for paying the mortgage), as did finding her truer, more mature inner voice. Was she still rockabilly’s reigning highness? She didn’t know.

“So you put your daughter to bed, make sure she’s happy, and that’s when it was so hard—at night,” she says. “Because then you bawl your eyes out and try to focus yourself on writing an album.”

In the past three years, May elaborates, she endured heartache from Higham, got over it, began dating again, fell in love with a new beau, felt guilty for experiencing lust and passion again, and was jilted a second time, leading to more acute heartbreak. As a songwriter exploring new sonic territory, she had a lot to consider; “Black Tears” was the first mascara-streaked track she composed, and the waiting-for-that-phone-to-ring “Call Me” concluded the painful process. The songs weren’t her usual jubilant stock in trade, but her manager was floored by their brutal honesty. When she suggested—almost jokingly—that Burnett should produce them, her rep made it happen.

“So I’ve had massive changes,” she says and insists that her divorce has been so amicable that she even sang all the backing vocals on Higham’s upcoming solo album. “I wanted to change my hair, too, so—like a lot of people do—you just go to your hairdresser and say, ‘Cut it all off!’ Certainly a lot of women can relate to that, you know? I just wanted to get back to feeling like myself again, because I didn’t know who I was for a while.”

—Tom Lanham

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Crystal Fairy: Delicate Soundz

Crystal Fairy is much more than the sum of its parts

It began, as these things often do, with Jello Biafra. In 2014, S.F. punk’s eminence grise invited Mexican garage-punk band Le Butcherettes to open for the Guantanamo School Of Medicine at the Roxy in West Hollywood. Melvins’ King Buzzo, a friend of Biafra, came out to show support and catch the set. And when Le Butcherettes, fronted by Teri Gender Bender, hit the stage, Buzzo was blown away.

“She’s a massively dynamic performer,” says Buzzo, “super-talented. A force of nature.”

So impressed was Buzzo by Le Butcherettes’ performance that he asked the band to open for Melvins on a series of tour dates—a significant move for a guy who’s ordinarily reluctant to slot opening acts.

“My agent told me, ‘This is really rare.’ I actually cried a little bit,” laughs Teri G-B. “I was like, ‘Of course let’s go on tour with the Melvins!’ And they were such sweet gentlemen.”

That tour was followed by another set of opening dates, for which Le Butcherettes and Melvins worked up a collaborative live cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” “At that point I knew we needed to do something together,” says Buzzo, “but I didn’t know what.”

Backstage at those same shows was Butcherettes producer (and G-B’s El Paso neighbor) Omar Rodríguez-López, he of At The Drive-In and the Mars Volta—not to play but to photograph and document the tour. He and Melvins hit it off, and the final piece of the puzzle that would become Crystal Fairy snapped into place.

Written and recorded at white-hot speed in studios in L.A. (Melvins’ home base) and El Paso (Butcherettes’), Crystal Fairy is a record that comes out punching and never lets up. Melvins’ Dale Crover and Buzzo, joined by Rodríguez-López and G-B, run through 11 songs in a thunderous 41 minutes—some crisp and pounding (“Chiseler”), some stately and heavy (“Moth Tongue”), some giddy and angular (“Vampire X-Mas”), some joyously, liberatingly bizarre (the irresistible title cut). Considering how quickly it came together, Crystal Fairy sounds remarkably cohesive—the work of a band whose energies were pointed in a single direction from the start.

“From inception to recording, it took two weeks,” says Buzzo. “If that. We’re all used to working very fast. I’m a very big believer in vision-execute. You get the right people around you, and it works—you have to try really, really hard to blow it. And we’ve all worked on our craft for a really long time. People who’ve worked on their craft for this long, it’s really down to luck. Hard work and pure luck.”

The L.A. sessions came first. “Buzz said, ‘OK, let’s put it all on the table,’” says G-B. “We recorded the rehearsals, even the ideas for songs as they came. And I had my notebook with me, and I was writing lyrics and melodies for the ideas they came up with.”

“In those kinds of situations,” says Buzzo, “I’m a firm believer in letting people off the leash: ‘Just do what you do.’ The first day, when we recorded ‘Bent Teeth,’ I just knew it was good.”

For G-B, something clicked just past the halfway point: “It started becoming a reality when we were about six songs deep. And then Buzz and Dale came out to El Paso where Omar and I live, and it was this exchange of cultural identities, and on that basis, too, it was really exciting. El Paso’s a little more spread out, and there’s less to do at night if you’re a party person, which thankfully none of us are, so we got to spend a lot of quality time, in the real sense of the word—we’d all watch movies at night, then get up, go into the studio, work out a part, then, ‘OK, let’s go to IHOP.’ Honestly, talking about this, I can’t believe it’s real. You get a sense of the energy in the room, and you think, ‘OK, there’s something here. These people, they’re my tribe.’”

“We didn’t even know it was going to be an album,” says Buzzo. “And then we had one.”

—Eric Waggoner

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Chicano Batman: Paradise Now

The political is personal and poetic for Chicano Batman

As far as psychedelic alt-Latino bands with major dollops of soul go, Los Angeles’ Chicano Batman is the sleekest—not solely for its sound or for its sophisticated socio-political rhetoric, but also for its bespoke, sartorial dress sense. Nearly 10 years since its start, the raging, dynamic quartet—driven by Bardo Martinez’s lead vocals, poetic texts and organ/guitar mix—focuses more than ever on its ministerial lyrical edge on the new Freedom Is Free (ATO).

“To be honest with you, the band came together on the idea of creating a unique brand of music,” says bassist/singer Eduardo Arenas. “We all went to college. Some of us have master’s degrees, and some of us have had careers before jumping on the Chicano Batman bullet train. Our band name is a social-political one. As persons in the band, we have synonymous ideologies about our vision of this country and our capitalistic/militaristic (dis)position in this world.” Chicano Batman lyrics haven’t always reflected that socio-serious voice, as a lot of its songs over a handful of albums and EPs speak about love, which often is a stronger political tool than anything else.

“But we’re in 2017 now,” says Arenas. “Police killings of unarmed citizens are at an all-time high. An ignorant narcissist who lost the majority vote has become the new president of this country.”

Martinez goes on to mention how “Arrow To The Sun” (“Flecha Al Sol”) is a verbatim rendition of a children’s book with the same title that surrealistically imagines a young boy in search of his father who happens to be the sun. “My lyrical approach was in first person, i.e. becoming the protagonist of the story, and since the book provides simplistic yet extremely rich imagery, writing the lyrics was easy,” says Martinez.

Yet, Arenas sounds proudest of Martinez when he goes for the throat on dismantling the establishment of the right and the left to come up with something that lacerates between the eyes. “Bardo contributed most of the compositions, and you can just hear how his lyricism evolved throughout the years to wind up here,” says Arenas. “The messages are coming through much clearer now. This will be important as we enter into a new era with a new president. Shit, I don’t even want to say his name. There’s only so much we can take. Our new album opens up that conversation as we become more explicit about our ideologies. If not now, then when?”

—A.D. Amorosi

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All Them Witches: Gray Sabbath

All Them Witches don’t necessarily exhibit their influences on Sleeping Through The War—or any album for that matter

All Them Witches’ press clippings will reveal consistent comparisons to some of the ’70s biggest names as they pertain to ATW’s rumblingly powerful stoner vibe. Frontman Charles Michael Parks takes exception to one reference in particular.

“Black Sabbath is the most misleading, because none of us listens to Black Sabbath,” says Parks. “We must be in the same mindset at some points. I’ve never listened to Blue Cheer, but we all like Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers, real early Fleetwood Mac and Roy Buchanan. And I would count international folk music as one of my main influences.”

Oddly enough, Parks and drummer Robby Staebler enjoy ambient new age and jazz, while keyboardist Allan Van Cleave grew up exclusively with classical music and didn’t listen to rock until he was 18. That all could figure into ATW’s fourth and most ambitious album, Sleeping Through The War, featuring the band’s epic volume and density interlaced with melodic nuance. Although elements of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra seem to be woven into ATW’s new approach, those are two more bands they haven’t really explored.

“I don’t listen to a lot of music before or during writing,” says Parks. “I have a bad habit of unconsciously reusing ideas without remembering where they came from. Then it’s, ‘Aw, shit, that’s just like that Cream song.’ I like to think everything we come up with is just four idiots in a room making noise.”

One reason for the distinct differences between Sleeping Through The War and ATW’s previous catalog is the Nashville-based quartet’s deliberation in creating it. The grueling touring cycle for 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker included two European circuits, and the band’s new material was largely conceived during the brief hiatus.

“Usually we go into the studio with maybe half the songs done,” says Parks. “This time, we had four days to write. New West has an artist house/venue in Athens, Ga., so we got to stay there, we wrote it, went back to Europe, then we came back and had five days to record. It was good going into the studio knowing where you were going.”

The new album’s sonic shift could also be partially attributed to renowned producer Dave Cobb, who served as ATW’s first actual producer. The process could’ve been traumatic, but Cobb was a perfect fit. “He’s a normal, easy-to-get-along-with guy, and he just knows where things should go,” says Parks. “He works the same way we do, by experimentation, so it was super easy. He likes to make art.”

Sleeping Through The War’s evolution is significant in light of the band’s short history. Then-recent transplant Staebler met guitarist Ben McLeod at a Nashville bar in 2012, then Parks, Staebler’s retail workmate, offered to play bass although he was primarily a guitarist. Van Cleave laid down keys on the first album, returned to tour and joined by default. The foursome’s chemistry is so strong they no longer practice or even hang together; they reassemble to write, record and tour.

Parks concedes the stoner-rock label was once applicable to All Them Witches but attributes their fluidity to his songwriting style. “I have material for two or three songs in my head, but I like to shove them all into one song,” he says. “So it’s an unusable length for radio. Being scatterbrained is how I like to write, and I haven’t found a way to get un-scatterbrained. I like who and where I am, so I don’t need to change yet.”

—Brian Baker

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Ibibio Sound Machine: The Sound Of African Sunshine

Ibibio Sound Machine makes West African music with a London bent

When singer Eno Williams began collaborating with sax player Max Grunhard, they weren’t thinking about putting a band together. “Max was interested in using the Ibibio language in a musical project, so we started writing stuff in my bedroom,” says Williams. “He knew the other band members from playing around London. We all started exchanging ideas and didn’t even think about performing until we’d made our first album. One of our first gigs was at the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, which was equally scary and exciting.”

Williams was born in London but grew up in Nigeria, steeped in the culture of the Ibibio people. She didn’t return to England until she was 19. “In Nigeria, I had a musical group with my six sisters,” says Williams. “We used to play in church, but that faded away. It wasn’t until I came back to London and met Max that I started taking music seriously.”

On its eponymous debut, Ibibio Sound Machine pioneered a blend of electronic beats and West African rhythms. “Our first album was a more retro-influenced, West African-sounding record, with a few electro experiments,” she says. “For the second record, we went further in that direction, while still keeping loads of live elements.”

Uyai (Merge), the band’s new album, is a polyrhythmic barrage that combines drum loops, the live percussion of Anselmo Netto and drummer Jose Joyette and the soul-stirring vocals Williams delivers in Ibibio. The music is a perfect marriage of modern urban grit and traditional African sunshine.

“There aren’t many cities in the world where people from such disparate backgrounds could come together,” she says. “We have members from Ghana, Nigeria, Trinidad, Australia, Brazil and England. The city lends its character to the music as well. The dark, imposing vibe of London couldn’t be more different from somewhere like Lagos, the Nigerian city I grew up in.”

—j. poet

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Vagabon: Weird Science

Vagabon masters the art of self-discovery on debut LP Infinite Worlds

Lætitia Tamko didn’t come to New York to pursue her creative ambitions, as so many others do. She spent her teenage years a short train ride away from Brooklyn but wasn’t aware of its fertile music community.

The songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and driving force behind Vagabon spent her childhood in Cameroon and moved to New York with her family when she was 14. She learned to play guitar in high school but put it to the side to study engineering at the City College of New York. By 2013, she was juggling math and physics courses, science labs, circuits—and it felt heavy.

“Engineering is a really demanding subject,” says Tamko. “I was focusing a lot of my energy on it. I had no creative outlet, and I started really wanting one. I had a lot going on personally and decided I should just write songs; why not, you know? I felt like I had a lot of things to say.”

Vagabon’s Persian Gardens project collected contemplative acoustic musings with touches of banjo and violin; its six songs are the first Tamko ever wrote, and she kept everything quick and unfussy, trying not to overthink. The EP, posted to Bandcamp in 2014, caught the ear of players in the scene surrounding Bushwick’s Silent Barn, and it was Tamko’s entrée into another world.

She started getting invited to play shows, collaborate in studio sessions and go on tour. Now, Vagabon’s Infinite Worlds is out on Father/Daughter Records, and it’s a breathtaking progression; dynamic electric guitar and drums mix with Tamko’s emotive vocals, which can be as playful as they are gripping. The album is a meditation on place, companionship and self-discovery. But she doesn’t take the community that amplified it for granted; “I wish I’d known about things like Girls Rock Camp when I was in New York at 14,” she says.

From within, the scene seems all-encompassing—especially when the media and industry narrative points so heavily to Brooklyn. However, the world is a big place, and Tamko says it’s important to never lose sight of that.

“A lot of weird kids who are outsiders, who are not interested in what their peers are interested in, would find so much comfort in knowing there is this community of people who are also weird, who are also cast to the side, who are kind of crushing it,” she says. “It could save them.”

—John Vettese

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My Impression Now

MAGNET asked Guided By Voices obsessives to pick their three favorite Robert Pollard records

Fred Armisen, actor/comedian/musician
Robert Pollard, Lord Of The Birdcage
Guided By Voices, August By Cake
Guided By Voices, The Bears For Lunch

Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Mars Volta
Guided By Voices, I Am A Scientist
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Human Amusements At Hourly Rates

Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Brewery
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Same Place The Fly Got Smashed
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars

Jay Carney, former White House press secretary
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Fast Japanese Spin Cycle
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes

Patrick Carney, Black Keys
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes

Michael Cerveris, actor/musician
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Robert Pollard, Not In My Airforce
Robert Pollard And Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Paddy Considine, actor/director/writer/musician
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Boston Spaceships, Zero To 99
ESP Ohio, Starting Point Of The Royal Cyclopean

Britt Daniel, Spoon
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Robert Pollard, Waved Out
Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills

John Davis, Lees Of Memory
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Lifeguards, Mist King Urth

Reuben Frank, MAGNET writer
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Guided By Voices, Universal Truths & Cycles
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

Eleanor Friedberger, Fiery Furnaces
Guided By Voices, Vampire On Titus
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes

The Gotobeds
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Crying Your Knife Away
Guided By Voices, “Dayton, Ohio 19-Something And 5”

Albert Hammond Jr., Strokes
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars

Matt Hickey, MAGNET contributing editor
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Keene Brothers, Blues And Boogie Shoes

Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Guided By Voices, Earthquake Glue

Len Kasper, Chicago Cubs broadcaster
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Keene Brothers, Blues And Boogie Shoes

Tommy Keene
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Guided By Voices, Do The Collapse
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye

Sean Lennon
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye

Scott McCaughey, Minus 5
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Boston Spaceships, Zero To 99
Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills

Colin Meloy, Decemberists
Guided By Voices, Vampire On Titus
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Under The Bushes Under The Stars

Eric T. Miller, MAGNET editor-in-chief
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Same Place The Fly Got Smashed

Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Devil Between My Toes

Jason Narducy, Split Single
Robert Pollard And Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Robert Pollard, Is Off To Business

John Paul Pitts, Surfer Blood
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills
Guided By Voices, Please Be Honest

Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, King Shit And The Golden Boys
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

Zach Rogue, Rogue Wave
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Robert Pollard, Not In My Airforce
Robert Pollard And Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Hobart Rowland, MAGNET writer
Keene Brothers, Blues And Boogie Shoes
Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

Phil Sheridan, MAGNET The Back Page columnist
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Do The Collapse

Steven Soderbergh, director/writer
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Guided By Voices, Suitcase 2
Guided By Voices, Class Clown Spots A UFO

Patrick Stickles, Titus Andronicus
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
Guided By Voices, Vampire On Titus

Matt Sweeney, Chavez
Guided By Voices, Propeller
Guided By Voices, Get Out Of My Stations / Fast Japanese Spin Cycle / The Grand Hour
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

Jonathan Valania, MAGNET writer
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices, Sunfish Holy Breakfast
Robert Pollard, Not In My Airforce

Michael Van Pelt, Blitzen Trapper
Lifeguards, Mist King Urth
Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills
Robert Pollard And Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Mike Watt
Richard Meltzer, Robert Pollard, Smegma & Antler The Completed Soundtrack For The Tropic Of Nipples
Guided By Voices, Forever Since Breakfast
Guided By Voices, I Am A Scientist

Jon Wurster, Superchunk
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Keene Brothers, Blues And Boogie Shoes
Robert Pollard And Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department

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