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January 8, 2020

Photo credit: Asim Overstands – Cartel Madras

Cartel Madras | noun | kärˈtel məˈdräs

  1. The powerful juxtaposition of a Western term aimed at ghettoizing other cultures and the English colonial name foisted on Chennai, India; 2. A queer, female, Desi act igniting a revolution because they’re sick of this bullshit

As soon as the people at Sub Pop threw Cartel Madras in our inbox. We immediately became obsessed.

Founded by Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces, this is the hottest hip hop duo to come across our inbox in quite awhile. Every track off of Age of the Goonda is fire. So DO NOT miss them at Barboza January 16th! Take a listen, and read about them below.


“We really want people who come to our shows to feel like they’ve been punched in the face,” says Contra, one-half of rap provocateurs Cartel Madras, of their FOMO-inducing live shows. “It’s like a riot just passed you, and you’re like, ‘What was that? What did I just experience?’” But also, “‘How do I do that again?’”

Cartel Madras also includes Contra’s sibling, Eboshi—both born in Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and raised in Calgary, Canada. Like their upbringing, their music is a cultural syncretism, a heady mix of trap with punk, house, and South Indian aesthetics that they’ve anointed “goonda rap.” Their second EP is Age of the Goonda, (out November 1st, 2019 on Sub Pop Records), a sonically expansive successor to their first EP, Trapistan, which boasted the party-down hit “Pork & Leek. A manifesto for the times, Age of the Goonda is an in-your-face call to arms for—immigrants, women of color, the LGBTQ+ community, Desis (a.k.a. Westernized Indians)—those who must resist being treated as underdogs.

“Goonda Gold” is the EP’s central pulse, its anthem. “When you hear it, it feels big like you’re watching this crazy-ass gangsta movie,” says Contra. “And it does borrow from certain vintage South Indian filminess.” Rapid-fire in delivery—“Gold on my neck I’m a goonda / Got guns in the air like a junta”—and hastened along by shimmery beats from D.C. Desi upstart SkinnyLocal, it pointedly shows off the duo’s legit rapping skills.

The word “goonda” means “thug” and is used across India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Admittedly, India—saddled by tropes of yoga, spicy food, and Bollywood—isn’t generally associated with thug life. “But India has a lot of fear and a lot of energy,” Eboshi says. “That story isn’t told enough anywhere, except for in India.” Here, the duo rethink that angst as concepts of cultural and sexual empowerment. “That is the song to all my brown gurlz out there: blast this in your car and scare everyone around you,” she continues. “It comes in real hot. And we just don’t quit in that song.” That’s an understatement: They actually held a gun in the sound booth while recording the track—because someone in the studio just happened to have one. “Don’t ask me why,” says Eboshi, then jokes: “I’m assuming it was for cosplay.”

The track’s kindred spirit is “Dawood Ibrahim,” named for India’s Pablo Escobar, a gangster-terrorist from Mumbai currently on the lam in Pakistan. They took the idea of Dawood—bold, unbounded, reckless—and filter it through a queer female lens. Backed by Belgian trap producer DJ Yung Vamp, the song features spacious synths and asymmetrical cadences in the form of potent poetry such as, “I fuck with all of my Desi hunnis / Put my other goodies in my other gunny /I’m cooking up some dosa to some Motown / That’s the wave I’m on now.” Ibrahim never lived so well.

The EP came together over in a little under 7 months. They wrote the bulk of their material at their old Calgary apartment (a.k.a. Thot Police Studios) and at a women’s songwriting residency at Whidbey Island in Washington State. Marvels Eboshi: “We were there for 10 days. In the woods. We were like, ‘Holy shit! I didn’t even know I could unlock these levels.” By June 2019, they had recorded Age of the Goonda at Echo Base Studios in Calgary and had signed to Sub Pop.

They grew infamous for their club shows and house parties around Calgary, where they formed a hip-hop collective called Thot Police. “When we started out, we didn’t know how many shows we’d be playing. So right away we treated every show like we might not get another chance,” Eboshi says. “Every time we do house shows, it’s been a massive rager.” Adds Contra, “The cops came through once to try to shut us down. We blew out all the speakers.”

Your warning comes at the very start of Age of the Goonda in the form of “Jumpscare,” an ominous track produced by noise-minimalist Nevik. It captures that chaos that Cartel Madras are so adept at creating, and opens with possibly the most subversive pass-the-mic verse ever: “Take off your top boy / Somebody bring me my gun / Black bag in the back of the jeep / You just a bitch on the run.” Says Eboshi: “The audience taps into it right away. They start moshing and go crazy, and we have a full mental breakdown on stage when we perform it.” If there’s any mystic, Eastern mind-body connection to what Cartel Maras are doing, it’s this thrilling lightning-in-a-bottle way they deftly project activism and libertinism at once.

“There’s a certain thing that hip hop does, that gangster rap does: a narrative of being larger than life, kind of violent but in power,” says Eboshi. “We are paying tribute to that, but also focusing that on women who are queer and brown, telling stories that haven’t been told. We are speaking to, and about, narratives that are not magnified in popular culture, while paying tribute to the subgenres that have continuously influenced our sound. That’s what we want goonda rap to become.”

NEW BAND CRUSH: THE STILL TIDE / The Sunset Tavern, September 16th.

September 5, 2019

Hailing from Olympia, WA, Morsett is influenced as much by growing up in the Pacific Northwest as by her experiences traveling the globe as a guitar tech for artists such as Kaki King, Tallest Man On Earth and Devil Makes Three. Her intricate, immersive performance has landed opening spots with Cat Power, Nathaniel Rateliff + The Night Sweats and Margaret Glaspy and will kick off a fall tour with Charlie Cunningham next week!

A magnetic frontwoman and self-described introspective loner, this duality is a crucial piece of her aptly named new collection. Behemoth vocals, soaring synths, fragile guitars and driving bass provide the canvas for an artist breaking in a new brush and serves as territory for Morsett’s interior and exterior lives to merge.

The seven song collection is her first for Mod y Vi Records, the label responsible for releasing two of Nathaniel Rateliff’s critically acclaimed folk albums. It was mixed by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) and produced by Morsett and long time collaborator Joe Richmond. Equal parts love and loss, opportunity and closed doors, the Between Skies EP creates a fitting foundation for the peaks and troughs of what it means to be human.

The Still Tide Tour Dates
* = w/ Charlie Cunningham

9/12: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo*
9/13: San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord*
9/15: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios*
9/16: Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern*
9/17: Vancouver, BC @ Fox Cabaret*
9/20: Fort Collins, CO @ Fort Collins Armory*
9/21: Denver, CO @ Globe Hall*
9/23: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry*
9/24: Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s*
9/26: Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground*
9/27: Montreal, ON @ Phi Centre*
9/28: Boston, MA @ Red Room at Cafe 939*
9/29: Philadelphia, PA @ Boots & Saddle*
10/1: Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub*
10/2: Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade*


July 8, 2019

The band recently embarked on a sold out two-week European tour as main support for IDLES as well as playing one of three sold-out London shows at the Electric Ballroom, and have played packed out sets at likes of The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Handmade Festival and more. Similarly, the band are also set to play numerous festivals across the UK & Europe including Glastonbury, The Great Escape, 2000 Trees, Pukkelpop (BE), Les Nuits Secretes (FR), Pohoda (SK), Rock The People (CZ), Wilkestock and local event, Humber Street Sesh – with many more to be announced.

Known for a strong community ethic, clever wordplay and energetic performances, their critically acclaimed debut ‘Popular Music’ made it onto BBC Radio 1’s best albums of the year list and gained multiple playlist adds on BBC6 Music. LIFE were also picked by the likes of DIY, Metro, So Young and Fred Perry Subculture as their ‘Ones to Watch’ at the start of last year and Steve Lamacq praised the band for being “…weirdly uncompromising and addictive” when placing lead single ‘In Your Hands’ in his best of the year list.

‘A Picture Of Good Health’ is due out 20th September 2019 via band’s own label ‘Afghan Moon’ and also sees them partner for the first time with [PIAS].


Seismic Preview: Beach House at Moore Theatre May 8th-9th, 2019

April 26, 2019

Photo By: Shawn Brackbill

Last time we saw Beach House (Sub Pop Records), they played on the beautiful shores of Alki Beach in West Seattle for Sub Pop’s anniversary show SPF30 last August…. A perfect backdrop, for a stunning set (want to relive the setlist? Listen here)
They’ve been touring relentlessly since April of 2018, about a month before latest album 7 dropped.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Beach House a couple of times, and not once have I NOT sunk into a Beach House trance. Beautiful lights, beautiful set list, and transcendent sounds. I feel at times I’m floating above the crowd, like a cartoon character being picked up by the power of a beautiful smell( show tip: a good hybrid recommended ).
Holy sounds of this incredible duo will sometimes play stand in for what I would think church should be like in a big 700 year old cathedral.
Sometimes Victoria Legrand’s voice melts into the wedding chapel drones that she presses out of her keyboard, while guitarist Alex Scally uses a slide to make his brightest melodies go slack. Drummer James Barone’s playing is typically as crispy as a Washington Fuji Apple.

But guess what? It’s all going to happen again. Not 1 night, but 2 nights at The Moore Theater May 8th and 9th.  If you have a brain in your head your going to grab your tickets asap, before they sell out!
And while you do that, make sure you watch one of my favorite tracks below.



March 12, 2019

“Laying on the floor of his unfinished basement studio in Beachwood Canyon, Graham Bockmiller realized it was time to go out on his own. The LA-based band Great White Buffalo had run its course, leaving him unsure what would come next. Graham spent the next year holed up inside his studio by himself; contemplating life, writing, collecting nude calendars of Eastern European women suggestively holding large trophy carp, and experimenting with the raw recording skills he had taught himself. He began exploring new sounds and textures outside of the traditional rock staples of guitar, drums, and bass – testing the limits of his DIY recording chops in search for a more interestng, vibier sound. These songs would later become the beginning of Yacht Punk.

Graham tinkered on demos until a chance meeting with Michael Pozzi (guitar) at Davey Wayne’s on Hollywood Boulevard. Michael was all-in on the project after visiting the studio and hearing where the music was going, and they were soon joined by Graham’s roommate Tricky (drums, no discernible first or last name) and Justin Ricard (bass). They took the demos to producer and indie-rock guru Matt Wignall’s (Cold War Kids, Mando Diao, J. Roddy Walston and the Business) eclectic Tackyland studio in Long Beach. In his converted garage studio (where “Hang Me Out to Dry” was recorded), Wignall took the music to further and weirder places with his unique production black magic. Afterwards, the band brought the tracks back to LA, where they were finished with mixer/engineer Will Brierre (The Killers “Hot Fuss”). Their latest single “Need a Reason” was featured on Spotify’s New Noise and Fresh Finds playlists. 

So here it is. Yacht Punk sounds like Stephen King’s movie Maximum Overdrive took a handful of downers. It has something to do with free-basing weed wax off nice silverware you heated up on an electric stove. It’s drinking daiquiris out of a hollowed-out pineapple at a vampire bar, flying on acid. It’s doing hippie-flips in the desert while eating steak dinner with a roommates’ retired relatives, having a black dumpster cat named Mazzy Star, and destroying another pair of white Converse. No, they don’t ride on yachts and they don’t play punk.”


January 17, 2019

This list is quite tardy, but better late than never. Due to family emergencies, I had to postpone formatting and putting my list up here. I did however have my top 10 of 2018 list posted on the KEXP music website.
So here we have my top 10 favorite’s of 2018.

Over the past few years my focus was a broad spectrum of music both mainstream and independent. But this year I wanted to try and keep the focus on the bands who had a smaller presence but had just as big of a impact.
Sure I’m aware of the amazing Mitski album, Low and Robyn albums … they all killed. But I really needed to focus on those smaller bands, and reveal the bands that affected me the most, in a “holy shit, who is this band again?” kind of way.
I’m not going to lie, this could very well be a top 50 albums of the year, cause I’m telling you ….. good quality music is out there, and there is ton of it that’s going unheard.
So I basically wanted to really tip my hat to these bands that are a bit more obscure, but their sound and impact was top notch shit nonetheless.

1. Mammoth Indigo – Wilt

This band put my mouth on the floor, and I was in complete awe, track after track. The depth of their musical talent completely floored me, and I cry big gay tears that this band has not been discovered. But I think this may be just be the beginning. I will do what I can to change that. Check this album out.


2. Wild Pink– Yolk In The Fur

This album is Magic right from the jump with incredibly beautiful ethereal sounds, and then morphs into this light, folky-pop, Wilco frosted song called “Lake Erie”, and the album just keeps delivering time after time.


3. The Greeting Committee – Is This It

The descriptors for this album are hard to peg. This album takes on many faces of well crafted quirky pop art sounds that burrow under the skin immediately. I was listening to this album on repeat quite a bit while working at my computer, and I’d imagine at any moment I would have been busted for doing some kind of “jig” in my chair. It’s a beautiful and fun album, and I’m obsessed with seeing them live.


4. Sloucher– Be True

No surprise within my social media feeds that this one of my absolute favorite bands in Seattle. Their debut album made my top 10 list in 2016.
So much about them resonates with me, whether it be the nostalgic guitar riffs, or the Cobain-esque vocals of lead singer Jay Clancy. But this is no way is a rip off of yesteryear. This shit is tight, and it’s professional. I highly suggest you check them out.


5. Shame– Song Of Praise

I mean, where to start with this band out of South London. I remember hearing the song “One Rizla” the first time and I was addicted. They hav this pop appeal that’s universal, but you can hear that angsty shit in the vocals of Charlie Steen that remind you of Sid Vicious. This album has all the elements of making this band the next big thing out of London, right along with Idles.


6. Constant Mongrel– “Living In Excellence”

This band out of Melbourne, Australia is the perfect remedy for that beautifully crafted gritty punk sound that I really enjoy. This band has little or no presence online but I would love to see that change. Listen to this album, and then tell me that I didn’t tell you so. I need this VINYL!


7. Erika Wennerstrom– Sweet Unknown

You may know this woman from Heartless Bastards, but holy shit! The talent and incredible music this woman just divvied up is extraordinary. I dare you to just hit play on the opening track, then listen to how this all unfolds ….its brilliant!! Typically, I do a little eye-roll when people get out and do their own solo projects cause so much falls flat. But Erika Wennerstrom could destroy the music world with her solo talent. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.


8. Haley Heynderickx– I Need To Start A Garden

Not to gloat, but I was hot on the trail of this budding artist, years ago, when I lived in Portland for a year. I reached out to work with her, and we corresponded, but as time went on and all was forgotten. I moved back to Seattle, and all had but faded. Then I recieved a email in my inbox about her new album … and on Mama Bird Records no less (Well played Mama Bird), and I knew once again that I was correct in my findings years back that she had it. And that she has!
Freshman album ‘I Need To Start A Garden’ is sublime. It’s one of the most vocally intricate albums I have heard since fellow Portland crooner Kelli Schaefer’s ‘Ghost Of The Beast’. It’s a beautiful tapestry of gentle plucking on her guitar, aligned with that incredible voice that will leave you in a trance. Stunning…


9. The Sea Atlas– Goodbye

Boom! Opening track “Ripped Jeans” is fucking ginormous. It’s so much of what I look for in emotional and heart wrenching track. Just enough gloom, and optimism to make me bury my head in my hands and want more. I will forever be paying attention to this artist, and I can’t wait till he rolls through Seattle.


10. Yoshi Flower– American Raver

This came out of left field, and I was on the floor in disbelief while listening to it. Essentially unheard of, Yoshi Flower can not only write, but his voice is money and the beats are fucking fire.
I think he has the potential to do HUGE things in his career. I’m watching this guy with bated breathe. Someone needs to get him some huge opps, cause the kids will eat this shit up!!



October 19, 2018

Yoke Lore Ep ‘Good Pains’ ended up on our 2017 top 10 album list, and I’m still obsessed with it. But now he has a new jewel ‘Absolutes’, that has my attention. We got a chance to ask him some questions about the new album, and cities that inspire him the most.

Make sure you get a chance to check him out at the Lo-Fi on October 21st with openers Bay Ledges. Get tix here! Show at 7pm.

How have you grown musically between 2017 EP, and the newest EP, that maybe we wouldn’t notice as a listener?
Hmm.  I think I’m becoming more and more aware of what Yoke Lore is. I started this thing and write songs in my bedroom that turn out to mean something really specific to people halfway across the world for reasons I have no idea about. I think I’m learning better about how that connects me and my listeners. Sonically, I’m not sure there is much of a stark difference between the two releases, but to me, Absolutes is a bit more concentrated in terms of the nature of the sounds and a bit more focused in terms of the lyrics.
Is this the best time of your life musically? If it ended tomorrow, would you be happy with what you’ve done?
It probably is the best time of my life, but I want tomorrow to be better. And if it ends tomorrow, hell yeah, I had a great time. I don’t think I’ve done a whole lot on the grand scale, but I think in general, my music has moved the world in a better direction, if even in the tiniest of ways. This is like grassroots marketing. We start small, on the individual scale and try to change one perspective at a time. I think I’ have helped to shift some peoples focus toward a better consciousness.  That’s good enough for me
What city is most important to you for music?
I make lots of music in Joshua Tree. I make lots of music in New York City. I love playing shows in Toronto and Cleveland. But I would like to think that I can create a space anywhere I am in order to do my work. As long as I can create separate sacred space, as long as I can find quiet, and as long as I can find time I can make music.
If you could collaborate with 2 people (alive), who would they be, and why?
Hmmmmmmmm. Jeremih. I think that dude is a hidden genius of our time. So under appreciated. And Caribou. I would love to see how I could live in that world.
Tell me a bit about the song “Concrete”. I have an idea of what I think its about, but in all honesty ….I very well could be wrong.
The lyrics “The wood I sent you won’t believe your lies, but you can try” baffled me a bit. Indulge me in what it’s about.
I live in cities: LA and NYC most of the time. And I feel most myself in the forest, secluded and remote. I’m a bit of a forest monk.
There are different Adrian’s that come out in different places. This song is about learning to balance and negotiate between the different parts of me that come out in different places. So that line “the wood I sent you…” is about feeling the woods to be a place where you can’t tell lies. Trees have no use for lies. The forest wrenches the truth out of me in a way the city doesn’t.
Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you…
I can’t whistle.
And what are your thoughts about Seattle, if you’ve been here, and if you haven’t what do you expect (besides the rain cliche)?
I have been! Once! I didn’t get to spend that much time because we drove in the day of the shows and then drove out of town that night, but it was beautiful. It’s so lush. I love your rainbow crosswalks, the waterfront. The pretty ferris wheel … Maybe I can ride it this time.
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