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DJ Mark In the Dark…Live From the Garage

Our current reality informs me that this is how I’ll be doing DJ sets for some time (I wrote about it here). So be it. These have actually been fun, and I look forward to spinning records in my garage each week–endless music, endless whiskey and, of course, connecting with friends and even strangers…join me tonight on Twitch and let’s have fun (hey, it’s all we’ve got right now!). Tonight is all genres, requests and mayhem (Saturday sets are themed/genre specific). Things start at 9pm PST, and I’ll go as long as people are hanging out. And head over here to find out my weekly DJ schedule.

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Musics

Junie Had a Little L(7)amb

A couple weeks ago my beloved L7 put out a call for people to send photos and videos to potentially be included in a new video for their single “Fake Friends,” which includes Joan Jett on backing vox.

I may have had an old photo laying around of my sweet li’l riot grrrl, June, holding a stuffed lamb wearing a shirt with the L7 logo embroidered in it (made by a dear friend, who knows me all too well). I submitted it, and when the video went live today I gave a look, and there she was–June Jett, right at the 2:30 mark.

The 7-inch for “Fake Friends” and “Witchy Burn,” which I wrote about a month ago, is also available for preorder now on Jett’s label Blackheart Records. I love rock ‘n’ roll!

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Musics

Getting The Spins: Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different

(Just Sunshine, 1974)

Betty Davis was ahead of her time in so many ways–lyrically, musically, visually. She did not give a fuck. Davis only released three records–her 1973 self-titled, this one, and 1974’s Nasty Gal–but they were a force. She was a force. I’m not going to say Betty Davis slid into complete obscurity after her three-album run–people knew of her–but it was probably Light In the Attic’s 2007 reissues of her three records, along with a release of outtakes produced by her then-husband Miles (yes, that Miles Davis), that more people got to know Betty Davis and her cosmic funk (a documentary was also released in 2017).

They Say I’m Different smokes, and the grooves are as nasty as her lyrics, evident in the first two tracks “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him” (sampled by Ice Cube on “Once Upon a Time In the Projects”) and “He Was a Big Freak” (“I’d tie him up with my turquoise chain…”). I found an original copy a few years ago, which has been–as I call it–partied hard. But the crackles are part of the party. And this record is always the life of the party. Guaranteed to knock your socks off…or your turquoise chain.

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Musics

Getting The Spins: David Bowie – Station to Station

(RCA, 1976)

Which is your favorite Bowie record? It’s a fun question that brings out all sorts of answers due to the extensiveness of David Bowie’s catalog. Station to Station might not be my number one Bowie record (that might go to The Man Who Sold the World), but it is easily in my top three. Ask me next week, and I’m sure I’ll give you a completely different answer. Station to Station marks a pretty significant transition for Bowie, as it combines the funk and soul influences of his previous record Young Americans, while nodding toward the German electronic influence that would shape Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, starting with 1977’s Low. Bowie infamously doesn’t recall the recording of this album, partly due to his heavy cocaine use at the time, evidenced by this 1974 interview with Dick Cavett, as well as this fantastic and fantastical film, which Bowie starred in before recording Station to Station.

Oh yeah…the record! “Golden Years” was a big single for Bowie, one that even landed him an appearance on Soul Train, in which he lip-synced…again, sorta awkward and coke-up. It’s a fantastic song. And the title-track is one of my favorite all-time Bowie songs–a 10-minute, spaced-out disco inferno, which showcases the hot-shit rhythm section of bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis. “Word On a Wing” is one of Bowie’s most aching songs, both lyrically and vocally. I listened to it over and over after Bowie’s death in 2016, and it absolutely crushed me. Still does. Welp, this got sad real quick. Soooo…what’s your favorite Bowie record?

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Musics

Getting The Spins: Smog – Knock Knock

(Drag City, 1999)

I’m a Bill Callahan fan–although, I have to say I’m not super familiar with his vast catalog. What I do know is that Knock Knock is a phenomenal record, worthy of any occasion. Like a lot of people, my first exposure to Smog came though 2000’s High Fidelity, which featured “Cold Blooded Old Times.” It’s an upbeat, chugging rock song with a black heart, as Callahan lobs a barrage of lyrical darts about an abusive relationship and the affects it has on a child. Of course, Callahan has the voice to make those words really sting. Musically Knock Knock is essentially a folk record with lots of layers–children’s choirs, horns, fuzz guitars–and essentially a lot of the creature comforts of ’90s indie rock. And just look at the cover for chrissakes. If I saw that sleeve, knowing absolutely nothing about the artist, I’d assume it was either the worst band in the world, or the greatest. Smog is neither. But when I put on this record, it’s definitely the greatest experience in the world.

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Musics

Put the ‘Band’ in Bandcamp

The Prids like it dark.

Bandcamp is easily the best way to buy music online–it has the most user-friendly platform, and it always gives independent bands and artists a fair cut of sales. It’s wonderful.

Well, today (May 1) until 11:59 PST Bandcamp is waving its revenue share, meaning all money from album and merch sales will go right into artists’ coffers. I know you need music. And I know plenty of musicians who could use some extra dough in lieu of lost revenue from cancelled tours and shows.

The Prids are one of those bands. The Portland dark pop four-piece remastered their first two LPs–2003’s Love Zero and 2006’s …Until the World Is Beautiful— to reissue on vinyl, with plans of a couple release shows in April. One of those has been rescheduled for August 8, at the Doug Fir, although there’s no telling if even that show could be in jeopardy (look for my interview with Prids bassist/vocalist Mistina La Fave next week on TDoL, where we talk about this and loads of other things).

The members haven’t even been able to pick up the vinyl copies to send out for pre-sale purchases. But The Prids are now offering digital versions for purchase over at Bandcamp (if you already purchased the vinyl, you can contact the band for a download code). Today, of course, would be a prime time to do so.

Here’s the video for one of my favorite Prids songs “Let It Go” from the aforementioned …Until the World Is Beautiful. Check it out! And head over to Bandcamp and have some fun! I know I did.

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Musics

Getting The Spins: Jane – Between Heaven and Hell

(Brain, 1977)

Who doesn’t like a little German prog rock during a late-night quarantine? I knew nothing about Jane when I picked this up a decade-or-so ago. I knew about the label Brain, however, which dealt many great krautrock records from bands like Neu! and Cluster, as well as some rockers, including the Scorps’ Lonesome Crow. Brain, yes. Jane, no. I bought it because it looked cool, and I had a feeling Brain might deliver. And you know what? They delivered. Between Heaven and Hell apparently leans more prog than its predecessors, which I haven’t spent much time with. It’s heavy prog, with some cool noisy/spacey/synthy parts, and vocals sometimes reminiscent of David Gilmour. Jane even throws down some boogie at the last minute on closer “Your Circle”…because it was 1977. I dig this record more with each listen. In fact, right now it’s the greatest thing ever…it probably helps that there’s a little Jane in my brain.

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Musics

Party Witch’s Quarantine Dream

I’ve seen Party Witch a couple times, and they fucking rule. The Portland electro psych band happens to be made up of two of my heroes–vocalist/synthist/accordianist Alicia Rose and drummer Shawna Gore–and there is truly some kind of unworldly power emanating from these women. 

I mean, check this out–while we’ve all been holed up they managed to get weird and make a video via Zoom for their single “Greta.” The video and subject matter (essentially a battle cry for Greta Thunberg) capture Party Witch perfectly–which is to say, they will steamroll a motherfucker. (“5 feet tall, she’s just a raging wall / Hormones and braids, better do what she says…”)   

Party Witch’s new record is now out digitally over at Bandcamp. It also fucking rules: Pitch-black new wave with heavy, rhythmic drumming, and lyrics that will cut you. The band is hosting a Zoom listening party tonight (April 24) at 8 p.m., and will livestream it over their FB and IG pages. Let’s party, witches!

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Musics

Getting The Spins: KISS – Revenge

(Mercury, 1992)

This record was a huge deal for KISS fans when it was released 28 years ago (unholy shit!). Revenge came out as grunge was coming in, and leading up to the release Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley promised a heavier, no-nonsense rock record (they’d just suffered the loss of drummer Eric Carr as well, which seemed to help refocus the band). Of course, KISS fans had been subjected to this sort of bluster before only to be let down (see Crazy Nights). My confidence was restored the night I tuned in to watch MTV debut the video for lead single “Unholy” a month before the album came out. The single and vid delivered–the opening riff was killer, and Gene looked and sounded more evil than he had in a decade. And the record itself? I loved it at the time, even if I secretly hoped for something heavier (by that point I was on a steady diet of Prong, Sepultura and Soundgarden). I should note that then-lead guitarist Bruce Kulick absolutely owns on Revenge, and drummer Eric Singer showcases by he’s arguably KISS’s best-ever drummer.

In the years since, Revenge has generally been held in high regard by both fans and the band. I’ve gone back and forth as to where I rank it, or whether or not it’s worth the acclaim. That said, I finally bought it on vinyl a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been thoroughly digging it (hearing the trashy “Take It Off” and the underrated deep cut “Paralyzed” blast through the speakers is just what the doctor ordered). Soooo…my not-so-quick reassessment: I guess I really do like Revenge.

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L7 Feel the “Witchy Burn”

L7 looking bloody good in 1992.
Photo: Getty Images

I love L7…but you know that. Right? Of course you do. Last year the band put out a killer record called Scatter the Rats, and they released a couple of songs today–a ripping cover of Joan Jett’s “Fake Friends,” which includes Jett on backing vocals, as well as an alternate take on L7’s “Burn Baby.” The new version, titled “Witchy Burn,” is slower and creepier than the OG–I definitely prefer it. The new songs were supposed to coincide with the band’s tour of New Zealand and Australia next month, which, of course, ain’t happening. I’ll take any L7 I can get. But you know that. Right? Of course you do. And while I have your attention, check out L7 guitarist/vocalist Donita Sparks’ campy The Hi-Low Show.