Roky Erickson – I Walked With A Zombie

I just learned about Roky Erickson recently. In the 1960s, he led a band called the 13th Floor Elevators. They basically did all manner of psychedelic drugs and wrote songs about horror films and science fiction. (Awesome). Roky wound up being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic after devolving into gibberish on stage in the late sixties. He spent time at the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where he received electroshock treatments and Thorazine. In the ’80s, he claimed that a Martian inhabited his body, but after making a legal statement about the indwelling to a notary public, the attacks stopped. He is still touring and recording.

So, all that to say that I bet ol’ Roky Erickson wrote this song after sincerely really believing that he walked with a zombie last night. I see no reason to be skeptical. Happy Halloween.


New Song: HAERTS – “Hope”

HAERTS just released this incredibly gorgeous and moving new song. Their first full length is due out on the 27th, and I am *really* excited. The Soundcloud link below the video also contains two additional songs off the new release – “No One Needs to Know” and “Be the One.” The self-titled album will also include “Wings”, a blissfully nostalgic sugar-pop song which I have remembered and held in my heart ever since I heard it two years ago. People, this is a band you definitely want to keep following.

CMJ Preview and Highlights


Every year when these big music discovery festivals like CMJ and  SXSW come around, I download whatever sampler I can find, and listen to it blind. That is, I just play it from start to finish without looking at any of the names of the artists. That way no band’s marketing presence or buzziness is influencing my listen. It’s just their sound, how it affects me, whether it gets my attention and makes me want to share it with someone. I also like to imagine what the band would be like live, and sometimes that helps the song’s case.

Most of the tracks on these samplers are usually not great on first listen, but I have discovered some gems in the past using this method, including the Allah-Lahs and Temples. Here are the songs I found from the official CMJ sampler that I definitely want to keep in my collection.

Porches – The Cosmos

This is one of my favorite of the 25 song sampler, and it’s the first one on the list, so it’s always nice to start strong. The name of the track kind of reveals  a lot about the sound –  psychedelic but chill, kind like a more fuzzed out Oasis.


Matthew Dear – Headcage

The opening EDM backbeat sounds a lot like “Head Like a Hole” – I totally expected Trent Reznor to come writhing and screaming through the top of the track, but then it turned out more like a Rob Zombie karaoke attempt. Anyway, it’s not as dark as it sounds – more spacey.


Lost Boy – Wasted

Thank you Lost Boy! What a happy song. It reminds me a lot of Strokes. Couldn’t really tell you what the subject matter is, I just want to keep playing it over and over.


September Girls – Heartbeats

It’s about time for a ladies-only surf rock sound. The harmonies are gorgeously West Coast in their haziness, and the drums and guitar definitely signal a crash on the barrel head.


Rivergazer – Safari Jack

Yes! This is it. This is why I listen to these often-nondescript samplers. Songs like this.  It’s Buddy Holly meets the Beach Boys, meets the Rolling Stones. A great, full sound, with classic plinking piano, and an intensity that ratchets up as the song goes along. Incredible rhymes and meta-consciousness in the lyrics.


PINS – Waiting for the End

The stacatto thump-thump… thump-thump of the bass kick underneath a “woo-oo-oop” vocal is really exciting, and the production value of this happy-clappy garage rock single is really well-balanced.


Shonen Knife- Dance the Rock

I’ll close by taking us back to when I was 17, young and green. I bought the “Rock Against Bush Vol 1” which included a ton of punk bands I hadn’t heard of before and haven’t heard since, including this awesome song by the Epoxies called “Need More Time.” That song was hypnotic, melodic, and inspiring in the way that all good punk rock should be. “Dance to the Rock” reminds me of the Epoxies in a really good, nostalgic way. Shonen Knife got their start as an all-female Japanese pop punk band in 1981 – and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know to imagine what this song sounds like. I think I’d describe it by saying  it’s what would have happened if ABBA and the Ramones had a love child. Enough said. It would be great fun to see them live, and it’ll be on my frequent rotation in the coming weeks.

Check out these songs and others you might like on the free CMJ Sampler at

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Live Stream All Weekend

HSB 14

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free festival in Golden Gate Park that’s been on for 14 years now. This year’s lineup is impressive. Right now (3:07 PDT) on the Arrow Stage it’s Hurray for the Riff Raff. At 4:15 on the Banjo Stage it’s John Prine. When I turned it on it was Thao and the Get Down Stay Down on the Star Stage.

The rest of the weekend includes Dave Rawlings Machine, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Carlene Carter, Robert Earl Keen, Justin Townes Earle, Mavis Staples, Chris Isaak, Social Distortion and a bunch of others I would love to see, especially in that setting.

One cool thing about HSB is that each artists gets to choose if their set will be streamed online or not. So some aren’t, but most are. It’s a cool thing all around. The link is below.

In the Valley Below – Peaches

I heard this song on 94.7 yesterday. It was introduced as a song that’s either  “vaguely sexual or just about running a fruit orchard. You decide.” So even though it was basically radio DJ click bait, I admit that it got me interested. And then the song came on, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t pay attention to the road for about 4 minutes and 50 seconds. It’s haunting, brooding, and yes, sexual, but not in a slimy way – more in a threatening way. Like, don’t-mess-with-me-because-I’ve-got-you-by-the-balls kind of thing. I’m on a string of liking dark tunes, and just made a Pandora station of this band, Nick Cave, MGMT, and Hozier. A modern murder ballads playlist may be up next. It is October, after all, and Halloween is just around the corner. Enjoy.