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“Milwaukee’s ACES make no apologies for being a rock n’ roll band. Once every few generations, the kids rediscover the power of making noise, humming a catchy tune, spending the summer with the windows rolled down and their middle fingers up. There’s no replacement for standing in front of air-pushing speaker cabinets, blasting drums, and telling the truth about how the world works until some old bummer tells you to turn it down. ACES write hooks that stick in your head for days, riffs that kids would steal guitar magazines to learn, and songs that will stand the tests of time. Don’t overthink Rock n’ Roll. Listen to ACES.”

Bad Cop / Bad Cop

Bad Cop Bad Cop has done angry. The band’s 2017 full-length, Warriors, was recorded in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. The Los Angeles quartet’s new full-length, The Ride (Fat Wreck Chords, June 19th), shows what happens when you come out the other side of that anger.

“It’s not that I am just stoked or blind to suffering,” says singer-guitarist Jennie Cotterill. “I think anger is a legitimate and understandable reaction to injustice and wrongdoing. It’s just that for myself, I am trying to move past ‘reaction’ into productive ‘response.’”

The message BCBC is sending this time around is less about wagging your finger at others, or giving the middle one to the Man, than it is about self-love and acceptance. As Cotterill puts it, “Love is a more powerful truth than anger.” That positivity fuels many of The Ride’s tracks: “Originators,” “Simple Girl,” “Community,” “I Choose,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “The Mirage” exude confidence, gratitude, and compassion. In 2020, such things qualify as contrarian.

“These are political statements—self-love is a huge fucking statement,” affirms singer-guitarist Stacey Dee. “Self-love means putting a fix on the problems at home before trying to fix everything in the world. It’s asking people to find it in themselves to create the life that they really want to have so they’re not in turmoil, so they’re not in a place of stress and sickness.”

Dee speaks from experience. In 2018 she was hospitalized twice for different ailments, then discovered she had stage one breast cancer at the end of the year. Fortunately it was highly treatable, but the experience was life-altering. Dee captures it with brutal frankness on “Breastless,” whose bright melodies belie the struggle described in the lyrics.

“Certain Kind of Monster” and “Pursuit of Liberty”—both written and sung by bassist Linh Le—are blistering repudiations of the current administration’s treatment of immigrants.

The former is an imagined conversation with an ICE agent, and the latter juxtaposes her family’s immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1975 to current events, something she’s never explored musically.

The perspective behind The Ride lends it an undeniable maturity, without losing its power. Recorded throughout much of 2018 and 2019 by Johnny Carey and Fat Mike of production team the D-Composers, the album boasts all of the elements of BCBC’s sound: big guitars, lock-step bass and drums (the latter by powerhouse drummer Myra Gallarza), intricate vocal harmonies, and plenty of attitude.

It’s just that this time, the attitude is encouraging, not raging. Nowhere is that more apparent than lilting album closer “Sing With Me.” Built around acoustic guitar, piano, and Cotterill’s voice, it’s an exhortation to “sing with me / or sing your own song / I don’t mind, just as long as you find / a voice.”

Dee adds, “If people are listening to our songs and they’re going to sing along to them, they’re going to start owning some of those words. And in owning some of those words that gives them some strength and power going forward. That’s really the biggest gift that I could give to anybody.”
“Stronger in every way” aptly describes Bad Cop Bad Cop in 2020. The anger may have taken a back seat on The Ride, but what’s taken its place is even more powerful.

Brooklyn Based Hardcore Act MAAFA Releases Track-By-Track Breakdown of Upcoming Debut Album “Because We Are”

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek […]

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek behind the curtain’ provided by lead vocalist and lyricist Flora Lucini whilst enjoying their latest Single ‘Welfare’ and remember to snag the LP on Tuesday!

1. “Origém (Intro) 

The word “origém” translates to “Origin” in Portuguese and it is also the name of my father, Leonardo Lucini’s (Bassist/Composer) Brazilian Jazz band which he shares with my Uncle Alejandro Lucini (Drums/Composer.) For their album, they used their grandmother, Dora Muniz’s, painting (she was a painter) as their album cover. She thankfully lived long enough for me to spend time and live with her before her passing when I was a kid. Every morning before school I would sit next to her while she painted at our breakfast table. So, the artwork in the album for the page dedicated to this song is of one of her original paintings. 

When I started MAAFA, I knew that I wanted to incorporate/reference these influences on the record and tribute my paternal family, but I also wanted to tribute my maternal family as well which leads to the music. 

Originally the song had a sample of this style of music called “Tambor De Crioula” from my mother’s hometown in the northeast of Brazil São Luis, Maranhão. Which both myself and all the women in my family grew up dancing and participating in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get permissions for that sample in time for this release. It was going to start with that sample from Brazil into the intro with Batá that you hear on the track now, to showcase the similarities and connection of the traditions through its African origins.  

The Batá drums and rhythm on this track reminds me of the instrumentation and even some of the drum patterns found in Tambor de crioula. It’s very similar in the sense that both traditions use 3 double headed drums, “small, medium and large” that are all assigned different functions and both traditions are African Traditions brought through “THE MAAFA” to Brazil and Cuba (then to other parts of the diaspora later) and used traditionally in African traditional religious ceremonies. This was one of the ways to incorporate a tribute to my mother’s hometown as well. All the references from the album art to the actual musical styles point to my “Origins” in some way. 

I also split playing the bass on this track with my Bassist Ray Russell. He plays the majority of the bass lines on the intro and I play the Tumbão Groove in the second half of the “Batá” section in the intro. 

2. Welfare

This was the first song I ever wrote specifically for MAAFA. The lyrics really embodied where I was/still am politically and in terms of what I wanted the message of this first record to convey. 

I wrote all the songs on this album on classical/acoustic guitar because I couldn’t afford an electric one at the time. I also just write everything on acoustic LOL. 

Welfare was not intended to be an “anthem” like song but it has definitely grown to that. I was trying moreso to mash up some of the more traditional styles of Hardcore and Punk into one song while the lyrics ushered in a perspective that called out a lot of the more problematic ideologies that plagued/continue to plague both our scene and our society, seeing as how music is a reflection of culture. 

3. Deficit

The intro to Deficit was written before the song was. I had this idea for the intro after being inspired by a call and response pattern I had heard in an African Drum and Dance class in 2008. I slowed it waaaay down and translated the inspo from it into a heavier style. I had always heard Kora in the intro too and am so glad it worked out where the professor of the class, Amadou Kouyaté, who is also my friend of almost 20 years and is one of the original members of MAAFA is playing Kora in the intro. He is also playing a series of drums such as 2 Djembes, Dudunba, Sangban, Segesege and more. This same Djembe pattern repeats in the outro and slows down even more as it transitions to a more typical “beatdown hardcore” feel which is when the gang vocals start screaming “Reclaiming my time.”

I wrote the lyrics after a frustrating experience with a former colleague who kept abusing their access to me by constantly bombarding me with requests to correct their problematic behavior, specifically around racism and homophobia. They never asked me, they demanded, they never offered to pay me for my intellectual labor, they never gave me credit for said labor and the entire interaction was transactional and unwarranted. Just kind of kept messaging me over and over again until finally I had to block them.

This led me to reflect on the history of QTBIPOC interactions with folks like that, especially sense this happned during the height of social unrest around the murdering of unarmed Black folk. It remonded me of how often we all are constantly being put in positions like this to do all this labor and are expected to do it for free. 

This song was written in 2017/2018, around the time that U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (a Black Woman)  went viral for standing up to her problematic colleagues in government by “Reclaiming Her Time” during a house committee meeting.  She was coined #AuntieMaxine shortly after. The visual of a Black Woman in power stating “I’m Reclaiming My Time” from problematic “colleagues” fit perfectly with the messaging of this song. It’s really about paying BIPOC for their labor, self-advocacy, boundaries and self-care.

3. Libation

There is a theme about water here: cleansing, ritual, baptism, sacrifice, rebirth, death, legacy, tribute and worship. Libation is a reflection on the legacy of what our ancestors have left for us and what we are responsible to build moving forward as the descendants/survivors of Chattel Slavery. It’s about ancestral worship, ancestral memory, a moment to reflect on our loved ones who have passed. 

It is part poem, part prayer, part ritual and of course, part call to action.   

I wanted to give myself space to write a song both musically and lyrically where I can depart from the typical lyrical styles and song structures we find in Hardcore but while still pulling from influences like Spoken word, Reggae and Hip-Hop influenced-Hardcore. For example, Lyrics like “Black is the river now. So much flesh in the waters, the waters have changed.” Was inspired by a statistic I read that said so many African bodies were thrown overboard into the Atlantic Ocean during the middle passages/ The Maafa, that it changed the temperature of the water forever. 

Naming the song “Libation” was inspired by the history of the Black American ritual that some of us do when one of our loved ones passes away i.e. “Pour one out for our homies” and the fact that some in the States who practice that and learned that from Hip-Hop didn’t or don’t know that pouring Libation is African Ancestral Memory, it can be traced back to many of our ancestral nations on the continent as an important ritual across many religions and cultures it is also not exclusive to Indigenous African Nations but also to Indigenous Nations in the West. It has been said that for many Africans & her descendants “Nothing important happens without Libation.

I am of Yoruba (Nigerian) descent, and a lot of the lyrics reference ritual/aesthetics still present throughout my family and that can be found in some African Traditional Religions (ATR’s for short) such as Black American Hoodoo/Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lucumí/Lukumi etc. But also Black American Christianity/Southern Baptist + Pentecostal references. 

I wanted the overall feel to take the listener on a journey and for it to be like spoken word meets hip hop influenced hardcore in the verses then the Reggae part allows you to meditate then finally resolving on a metal/opera like ceremonial vibe that centers hope in the end. 

It was important to me to make a moment for meditation that musically centered the real, Black African tradition of Reggae. The whole song touches on the connection of the spiritual and the political being in balance for true resistance. Which we see in historical victories such as The Haitian revolution, for ex. Very rarely do I hear true stories about uprisings and revolts of enslaved Africans where we did not seek the guidance of our ancestors and the spirit world/our religions to see them through. 

All the way to the civil rights movement and how a lot of organizing happened in the church, (regardless if everyone was actually Christian or not.) So many of our diasporic African religions are practiced under the guise of Abrahamic Religions because we were forced to hide our practices during enslavement. Take the saints of Catholicism for example (i.e. where “santeria” came from and that many feel should not be the appropriate term to use) in order to avoid being murdered by slave owners because our religions were considered “savage, primitive and of the white Judeo-Christian Devil.” Our political resistance and our god(s) have always and to this day remain connected for many of us (with all due respect to our very powerful atheist siblings who fight very hard on the frontlines and some even while trying to heal from religious trauma) and this song sheds light on that. Which is what “Libation” is really about: how the spiritual and political are connected when it comes to our living, our afterlife and our fight here on earth against systemic oppression and religious (ATR) prosecution.

The breakdown pays tribute to the traditional Rastafari community I grew up around in D.C that are responsible for some of my earliest exposure to Pan-Africanism and Militant Black Liberation Politics very early on in life.

The end of the song is an extension of the meditative reggae break, but the vibe changes into a more metal influenced, almost operatic style to evoke the feeling of a ceremony/ritual chant for the hope of where we are headed as a people and that the deaths of our ancestors were not in vain, instead their legacies fuel our resistance and our “big dreams” to this day. One that factors in the entirety of our history and “The Legacy They Left Here for Us” (the very last line of the song) a lot of our traditions teach us that when we die we then are promoted to “ancestor” and have to begin our duties as an ancestors over our descendants that are still here on earth. The overall feel is about hope and how we must carry on to a better world, which is a great segue into the next song “A Luta Continua.”

5. A Luta Continua (Interlude)

“A Luta Continua” translates to “The fight goes on” in Portuguese. This interlude was an instrumental bass and percussion duet I wrote and am performing on. It is a duet featuring me playing the bass (everything you hear on this track that is not vocals or percussion is the bass. There are no guitars) and me singing/harmonizing with myself. The only other musical instruments are Traditional Brazilian percussion played by my friend Everton Isidoro who is also from Brasil. The style of music is a mix of Traditional Capoeira percussion & rhythm and the lead Bass lines were inspired by a style called Baião .

Overlayed is a sample of Councilwoman Marielle Franco’s speech (SPEECH HERE) at a hearing on violence against women in the Favelas, given about a week before she was assassinated. This interlude is to usher in the song “Filha Da Luta” that also features Afro-Brazilian Musical elements. 

6. Filha Da Luta

“Filha da luta” translates to “Daughter of the fight” in Portuguese and is a saying I saw become popular on protest signs during uprising against Bolsonaro’s election and when Marielle was assassinated. “Filha da luta” is a play on words for the insult “Filha da puta” (which translates to what in the U.S. we would say “son (Filho) of a bitch” but in this case it’s daughter(filha) of a bitch lol) activists changed it from the cuss word “Puta” to “Luta” which means fight. “Puta” is also a misogynistic slur in Portuguese for Slut/Whore. 

The song’s intro features a rhythm called “Samba-Reggae” that is very popular in Brazil during carnival especially in the northeast of Brazil so places like my mommy’s hometown and Bahia, considered the “Black state of Brazil” which has similarities we can find in some Afro-Caribbean cultures. 

My friend Everton recorded the Brazilian percussion for this song as well, he played a bunch of the traditional instruments that go along with this style like the surdo, agogo, pandeiro, atabaque and more. 

The choruses and the breakdown at the end features a rhythm that is very dear to my heart called “Afoxé”  (Here’s a video of my cover of that Afoxé song I arranged, choreographed and sang for Harry Belafonte at my Almer Mater, Berklee College of Music) which is an African-Brazilian Rhythm that my dad uses a lot in his songwriting and which has a long history with Black resistance and enslaved African uprising during the Maafa. It is also a rhythm that primarily is used in religious ceremonies and rituals in the ATR- candomblé. (Video of my uncle and friends back home in DC playing Afoxé)

I dedicate this song to Marielle every time we play it live and to all Black/Brown, Non-Cishet male activists globally that we’ve lost and whom are still here fighting and organizing. 

7. Not Your Exotic (CW: Sexual Assault) 

The inspiration for this song’s title and for some of its lyrics is the poem “Not your erotic, Not your exotic” by Palestenian-New Yorker poet, Suheir Hammad. She and I have become really good friends after I wrote this song when one of her homies happened to come to one of our shows and connected us. This poem changed my life and finally made me feel “seen” and most importantly she found the words I had such a hard time formulating over the years. It unlocked my voice about this issue, and I owe it all to her. 

The song is simple, straight to the point heavy punk rock. I wanted to write a groovy, still “Maafa” style punk song, that emphasized the lyrics more than anything else. 

The lyrics are about the violence that Women/Femme identified and presenting Black and Brown people like me face from being hypersexualized/fetishized/Other’ed etc. 

Hypersexualized for being a Black Woman, A Brazilian woman, lightskinned/mixed race presenting Woman/ for my body type etc. You name it! We’ve heard all the gross and highly offensive things “Spicy, Sassy, pretty for a Black girl, Pretty for a fat girl etc.” my darkskinned siblings have to then add colorism on top of that like “Pretty for a Darkskinned girl” or fetishized statements like “You’re the Only/first Black/Fat/Brazilian etc. Girl I’ve ever been with/liked” etc. or “why are you so Angry/Emotional/Hysterical/Crazy/Irrational/Sensitive/Moody” etc…AND the FAVORITE one they use for Black Women: “You have an attitude.”  

The album art for this song features the song title super imposed over a picture of one of the signs used to announce the auction/arrival of an enslaved Black Woman named Sarah Baartman aka Venus Hottentot who was enslaved and treated by her capturers as like a zoo animal they paraded around the world naked, on display like a circus freak show/side show so that white people can come and stare and violate at her “exotic” body. (This is a gross over simplification of her life and legacy, due to the sake of time.)

It’s wild to think this actually happened and that a body type that is extremely common amongst Black and some Brown folk (and that she and I both share similarities with) is somehow “exotic” and “freak-ish” “abnormal” or a “deformation/illness” that it needed to be literally caged and put on display. 

DISGUSTED is the first word that should come to mind, which is exactly how I feel and how many folks like me feel regularly. Sexual harassment is part of my everyday life. My safety is something I have to factor in when I get dressed, what time I leave my house, what kind of clothes I want to wear or go shopping for etc. Shopping is a lot of “Damn, I shouldn’t wear that, I COULD GET HURT.”  I have been assaulted more times than I can count, I haven’t taken the subway alone in 6 years because I was sexually assaulted on the train 3 times in broad daylight. 

I, like many BIPOC femmes, have survived sexual assault, being followed to my house, to my car, to public bathrooms, physically sexually assaulted at shows, cat-called on the street, etc.  My friends have to literally make sure I make it home all the way in the door when dropping me off in an Uber. I’m required to check in via messages with my homies as soon as I’m in the house just so they know I’m ok and they are also required to do the same. None of us drive off until everyone is inside their homes with the doors locked and accounted for in the group chat. If one of us forgets to check in, we can absolutely expect several missed calls the next morning. 

In fact some of my girlfriends and I have a group chat that we all send “I’m home” or “I’m on so and so street, with so and so, his/her/their license is…and I’m wearing…. etc.” even though we all live in different states. We all have access to our parent’s/spouses’ information, address, emergency contacts etc. and we all carry emergency contact and information cards with info like “I’m allergic to penicillin.”

Having to live like this since I was little which was taught to us by our mothers/sisters/elders/community and theirs to them and so on for survival, is absolutely normalized. And this song feels like a collective “exhale” for 2 minutes and some change that we can all take and scream all the pain and frustration we feel that is constantly being dismissed. 

NOTE: Most CisHet masculine Men and Boys NOT having to ever think about stuff like this is a type of privilege I speak about in “Welfare”: “To Inhabit your skin without fear (white privilege) / To inhabit your body without shame (Fatphobia/skinny privilege/Masculine body privilege) / To love who you want (Hetereosexual Privilege) /  TO WALK AT NIGHT ALONE (that part) / To be standing on the outside looking in / THAT’S PRIVILEGE!” 

8. For The Culture

My hometown here in the states is Washington, DC. And D.C. has its own original style of music called GO-GO that I grew up on. Go-Go and D.C. Hardcore have a lot of history together and sometimes , many many moons ago traditional Go-Go bands would play Hardcore shows.  

So this song musically is a love letter to my hometown. Go-Go, like Hardcore, has also evolved tremendously; for example, THIS is one example of what modern Go-Go can sound like with more rock influences. I love everything about Go-Go, especially all the obvious ancestral memory you see in every element, down to its own dance called “BEAT YA FEET.”

The artwork on the album for this song depicts the Bucket drummers that perform at the metro stations in DC that I also grew up listening and dancing to – also another example of ancestral memory. 

“For The Culture” is a phrase some Black folks use when we are acknowledging something that is being done strictly for the sake and the betterment of Black culture and Black people. 

The lyrics are calling out gentrification, posers and people that want to exploit how “trendy” being Black and “punk” or “alternative” is now a days all of a sudden. When most of us grew up getting beat up or harassed for listening to “White people music” and it was actually dangerous for us to “dress punk” back in the day. Oftentimes the violence came from our own people as well as racists that we faced at shows, so we caught it from both ends. But now a lot of those same people want to dress like us and study what we’re doing in our scenes cuz they think it’s “cool and trendy.”

The song was inspired from my rage against corporate “alternative music” festivals that exploit the word PUNK and the people in the community in order to chase “clout” and be trendy, when their festivals have absolutely nothing to do with our communities and do nothing but erase actual Black punks and Hardcore kids like Maafa and our sibling bands.

9. Dichotomy

This is my break up song, but you know I can’t do a break up song without making it political lol. Relationships bring out things in you in a way that only they can, because of the unique things it forces us to face when having to deal with other people in a romantic way, like during talks about the future, children, expectations etc. It will bring up your own traumas and sometimes your partner can treat you so badly that they become a trauma themselves that you’re forced to heal from. Which is in part what happened here as well: this was written after I got out of an abusive relationship.

Things like infidelity & betrayal trauma are also experiences that inspired this song. It’s my most vulnerable song & most personal.

Basically, the inspo for this song is how a break up was the catalyst to my journey with mental health that saved my life and how during that journey the issue of mental health in the Black community came up i.e. still not having a therapist or the right meds because they’re low income; how HR from Bad Brains is/was treated/talked about during his battle with mental health; and the stigma in the Black community around mental illness and seeking help, especially amongst Black men. 

My experience with depression and anxiety during this period felt like I was possessed by a demon or something really dark that had more control over me than I did so there are moments in the lyrics that reflect that down to the very last line that says, “Release Me, Please,” as if pleading with the demon to exorcise itself from my mind/body. But the song is also about healing and about taking control and responsibility for my healing which is how I reclaimed my power over the “demon.” Which is also reflected in the lyrics and in the aesthetic of the album art depicting items one would find in an apothecary to symbolize healing with medicine and healing with spiritual/religious ritual. 
My parents and I are best friends and my father is my guide post in all things “life.”  So to tribute him and how much he supported me during that time I made the song’s intro my interpretation of the intro and outro of my dad’s song “PEGA” – the sample is from the outro of the video in that link, so the Jazz sample at the end of the song is actually my dad and his band playing.

10. Blindspot 

White boys get to make angry chugga chugga music to “bitch” about the things they hate all the time and they get praised for it, even though 99.99999% of the time the things they sing about hating are people and ideas that are different than them. They also love to gatekeep Hardcore for white straight men who are hyper masculine and violent. Well, this is MY angry chugga chugga song about the things I hate the most which are problematic white boys who make chugga chugga Hardcore and are put in a position of power to control the entire narrative of who and what Hardcore is and looks like and then, being true to their nature, they cry victim and get defensive when someone calls them out on how they protect and perpetuate harmful ideologies and behaviours in our scene. Hence: DECOLONIZE HARDCORE. 

Now, I absolutely love and grew up on chugga chugga hardcore MUSIC* ( i.e. Beatdown Hardcore/ Traditional NYHC/ or my favorite as I like to call it “That Castle Heights shit” lol) so I’m not coming at the music, I’m critiquing SOME of the bands and their content, who are really the minority in the scene but because of privilege and supremacy are glamourized as not only the majority, when they’re not, but as the only “true” definition of Hardcore. As I often say, it’s “bullshiterious.” (I got that from a Black Feminist FB group) 

Decolonizing Hardcore is also about reminding Black people in our scene and those who are new to our scene that they should NEVER have to negate their Blackness to be here. Manipulate their appearnce or the way they “talk”  just to “assimilate.” That it’s about re-educating my own people about the Black history of Hardcore and Punk, that everything hardcore is and stands on comes from Black people who invented rock n roll, call and response, oral history keeping, communicating through dance without words, singalongs and pile-ups and spinkicks. 


This is a house our ancestors built for us too, we are not guests here, this is part of our birthright and if anything, like any other subculture, it’s usually the descendants of our colonizers and the ones who benefit from white privilege who are the “guests.” 

Decolonizing Hardcore is about centering the QTBIPOC presence visibly and loudly and unapologetically reclaiming not just our time but our rhythms, our dances, our styles, our languages, our lands, our spaces and our scene.

Batá Drums, Yoruba Tradition, Babalawo, Lucumi religion (aka Santeria, we do not Call it Santeria because that term is a colonial term and can be seen as offensive. The actual name of the tradition is called “Lucumi”or “Lukumi” Loo-koo-me)

The Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass[1] with one end larger than the other. The percussion instrument is still used for its original purpose as it is one of the most important drums in the yoruba land and used for traditional and religious activities among the Yoruba.[2][3] Batá drums have been used in the religion known as Santería in Cuba since the 1800s, and in Puerto Rico and the United States since the 1950s.[4][5] Today, they are also used for semi-religious musical entertainment in Nigeria and in secular, popular music. The early function of the batá was as a drum of different gods, of royalty, of ancestors and a drum of politicians, impacting all spheres of life in Yoruba land.[6][7]

The drummers on Batá and Djembe for the intro song. One of them is Jabari Exum. He and our Friend Amadou Kouyate who is not only my former mentor but my former professor and one of my best friends and is an original and current member of MAAFA, he is on this album, they both were best friends with Chadwick Boseman from The Black Panther Movies (Wakanda Forever) so when it came time to make those movies Chadwick hired Jabari as choreographer, Lead Djembefola and to be his right hand man meaning every time he was on set, at a red carpet etc. Jabari, who is on this album, was playing Djembe next to Chadwick. Jabari was also in both movies in several Djembe scenes and as an extra in a few scenes in the second movie. 

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Cat Power

Indie singer/songwriter who bridges folk, blues, soul, and experimental rock in vulnerable and cathartic ways.

Decent Criminal

With a sound reminiscent of ’90s alternative, punk, surf, and power-pop, Northern CA’s Decent Criminal offers catchy, upbeat songs that mercilessly collide with abrasive and often melancholy undertones, to bring forth a style that is both playfully compatible, and inadvertently raw.


Band pic by: Nick Kiefer

Dentist comes from the oceanfront urban landscape of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Their sound combines the freedom of the beach atmosphere and the urgency of the city into a fuzzed out, surf punk-tinged brand of indie pop with hooks and infectious melodies to spare. The ethereal vocals of Emily Bornemann are countered by the sometimes aggressive, but always addictive sounds of Justin Bornemann on guitar and Matt Hockenjos on drums. 

         Dentist formed in 2013, built around the songwriting partnership of Emily and Justin. The pair had been writing songs and performing together in various ways since their first meeting at the legendary punk hangout, TGI Friday’s. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2014, which Pandora described as “a deliriously infectious collection of fuzzy, California-styled, indie pop jangle and sun dappled garage rock crunch.” 

         Dentist released their sophomore album, Ceilings in the summer of 2016 via Little Dickman Records to critical acclaim.  The band began touring regularly and Dentist’s notoriety continued to grow along the way. During this time period Dentist received praise from the likes of Stereogum, Noisey, Flood Magazine, and Collide and were also named one of the top bands at SXSW 2018 by The Mercury News and NPR’s Sound Opinions.  

         Dentist released their third album Night Swimming in July of 2018 on Cleopatra Record. Their strongest release to date, the album was described by The A.V. Club as having, “tight chemistry, killer hooks, and a distinctive sound that’s both lo-fi and retro-pop smooth.”  Following the release, Dentist embarked on a month long tour across the country. Dentist has been on bills with many national acts.  The list includes Television, A Giant Dog, White Reaper, Modest Mouse, Laura Stevenson, Mrs. Magician, Death by Unga Bunga, GYMSHORTS, River Boat Gamblers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Spider Bags to name a few.  In the fall of 2019, Dentist joined fellow Asbury Park duo Brick + Mortar on a 5 week US tour. They released the single “Someone Like You,” which was featured on Taco Bell’s ‘Feed the Beat’ website. 

         The beginning of 2020 was full of promise, but it took a hard turn that no one expected. Instead of making music that reflected on the depression that set in during lockdown, Dentist decided to work on an album that would inspire them and their listeners to hang in there and look forward to better times ahead. Dentist’s 4th album was released in September 2022 via Cleopatra Records. Goldmine Magazine boasted, “intense power-pop excitement.” New Noise Magazine vowed, “their strongest album yet.” The Punk Site declared, “easily this trio’s most accomplished, catchy and engaging album to date.” Glide Magazine added, “all sorts of ’90s power-pop vibes.” In addition, their most recent single “New Dress” was added to Spotify-curated playlist Fresh Finds: Rock. In October, the song “Spilled Coffee” was licensed by Hulu for their new show Power Trip. In September 2022, Dentist performed at Sea Hear Now Festival on the beach in New Jersey along with Green Day, Stevie Nicks, Boy George & Culture Club, My Morning Jacket, Gary Clark Jr. and others. In 2023, they plan to tour, including a West Coast run in the Spring. 

DS Album Review: Hayley & The Crushers – “Modern Adult Kicks”

It’s summer in 2002 and it’s about to be golden hour while you lay on your bed staring at the ceiling. You are dwelling on some fight you had with your mom. Every friend you have is out having fun or on vacation- unreachable by phone and you’re swearing off each and every one of […]

It’s summer in 2002 and it’s about to be golden hour while you lay on your bed staring at the ceiling. You are dwelling on some fight you had with your mom. Every friend you have is out having fun or on vacation- unreachable by phone and you’re swearing off each and every one of them. Your last ditch effort of hope points to a Walkman and a bike while you ride the familiar streets of some suburban Midwestern town with headphones filled with relief.

Flash forward to 2022 after a pandemic and a half has washed over you and you’re still sitting with the same feeling of being grated by life, but you have time to step into the Crushverse and kick it with Hayley & the Crushers. Modern Adult Kicks is an album that houses singles released from 2021 and some fresh new tunes from the band and most have adult themes paired with power pop fun that are sure to ride with you from your morning coffee to a late-night vinyl dance sesh. By the way, this album comes in a limited edition blue raspberry for those vinyl aficionados.

Modern Adult Kicks starts off strong with the single “Taboo” which offers this hefty guitar riff as Hayley’s dark and devious voice coaxes you melodiously to the stranger side of power pop. You’re gonna follow her and you’re gonna love where it’s headed. In the 2nd verse, the first four lines are delivered such a mood of heavy desperation and need. You hear it in the annunciation of T’s and the beaks in guitar. “Taboo” connects this memory of that feeling while looking out of the window in The Lockdown of 2020. You wanted to go out, but you know it was taboo.

The album goes on to carry The Crushers’ more polished sound for your tender punk heart. The band has described this album as an example of “how to grow up without growing jaded.” Nothing could be more rightly said about it. The death of the ego really prevails in the sound of Hayley’s sharp guitar playing, lyrics, and titles of songs in this album. Songs like “She Drives”, “California Sober”, and “Overexposed” bring out this perfect mixture of sunny pop-tempo painting this scene of punks enjoying life knowing full well everything around them is burning (this is fine). Which is just the kind of macabre sense of fun that most of us who survived the past few years may need right now. Don’t worry for all you tough guys out there the album still houses the familiar punk sound echoing the frustration and need to thrash around that resides in most of us.

In her own words on Sound Digest, Hayley has written a little year in review which gives insight into what this album may mean to her. It is in this touching honesty as she writes about being a musician during the pandemic, getting her shit together, and driving to really refine her career as a musician. All the touring she wanted to do for the band’s last album which was released in 2020 never got to come to fruition. All that hard work and self-reflection came to be in March of 2021 when the band was signed by Josie Cotton to her record label Kitten Robot Records. The band got to work with Paul Roessler remotely as well as in person for Modern Adult Kicks and the album was mastered by Mass Giorgini (Squirtgun). The band is gearing up for a tour that begins September 23rs, 2022 and it is one that you may not want to miss out on.

Modern Adult Kicks is available for purchase

Tour Dates & Locations

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DS Album Review: Hot Mulligan – “Why Would I Watch”

Hot Mulligan is well known for their buoyant pop-punk sound with an emo seriousness behind their lyrics. These guys have been a huge favorite of mine for so many years. Getting into the local scene, a lot of bands here seemed to pull inspiration for their sound from these guys (or bands similar to them). […]

Hot Mulligan is well known for their buoyant pop-punk sound with an emo seriousness behind their lyrics. These guys have been a huge favorite of mine for so many years. Getting into the local scene, a lot of bands here seemed to pull inspiration for their sound from these guys (or bands similar to them). They never fail to bring such a fun and upbeat tempo in their songs, despite having a song or two that start soft and then pick back up into the pop-punk sound we are familiar with from them. Why Would I Watch is an incredible album as far as lyrics go, throwing in a song about a lost pet that had me bawling in my car on my way to work one morning. Absolutely worth it.

This album kicks off with a decently long song title (as are many of their song titles, but whatever) called “Shouldn’t Have a Leg Hole But I Do”. It’s a very happy-go-lucky-sounding song that will throw you way back to the original pop-punk sounds that we all grew up with. I found myself finding this song almost familiar and comforting. They did a phenomenal job in capturing the “old sound” of pop-punk and going back to the roots of the genre (which will also be a recurring theme throughout the album). Lyrics for this song speak volumes on trying to escape a situation or leave something behind that you know you should and need to live your life for yourself, but something will always bring you right back until you face whatever it is that needs to be addressed.

Powering into the next track is a beautiful transition that tells the realities of life not going as you expect. “It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad” is largely about breaking cycles and being aware of the toxicity that is to be able to change and grow from it. My biggest indicator of that is the more than relatable line in the song that jumped out at me where he sang, “Sit down and give me the confessional // Stay together for the kid // Isn’t that original?” Having been faced with that situation, this song hit home and had me hooked on the rest of the album to follow. The instrumentals of this track scream the classic and familiar sound of Hot Mulligan’s original tracks from when they formed in 2014. I love how consistent they’ve always seemed to be while making their music. Always staying somewhat in line with what they’ve always done, yet making it just different enough to keep us on our toes!

Moving into the next song, it almost has a sense of urgency in the tone of the entire thing. It really brings together the lyrics’ theme of just trying to survive in a world that’s so different from where you were. “And I Smoke” might be relatable for more of us than we may realize, just pay attention to the lyrics and see if you may find a sense of familiarity in the feelings this track has to offer. My personal favorite being almost the start of the song, 00:22 in he sings, “Move out, a new place that I don’t know // Its smallest details are unfamiliar // Sit in the shower until I feeI alone”. I moved to a new city I wasn’t super familiar with not too long ago and so this song really resonated with me on that. The unfamiliar and the fear of the unknown is a real thing to battle with when moving out and on your own, especially if you have children in tow.

The song that has everyone’s brains trying to process the way the band will have to announce it while on tour. “This Song is Called it’s Called What it’s Called” is one of my favorite tracks. It beings with soft instrumentals and vocals that bring the most comforting sounds I’ve heard from a punk band. Reminiscing on a few spotty memories, seemingly with a fond tone. Then 60 seconds in the realization hits that it’s all gone by in a blink of an eye and the time lost is nearly crippling. The regret of not doing things just slightly different and leaving things unsaid that could have changed the entire trajectory of your life. “Oh, there’s so much I would change // Take more pictures // Oh, I left so much to say // All the missed connections.” I think everyone can relate to this in one way or another and this band has got a serious knack for finding the perfect instrumentals to not only match the mood of the song, but also keep the listener engaged with their tempo changes and execution of the lyrical melody! Easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.

“No Shoes In The Coffee Shop (Or Socks)” is an upbeat song that kicks the vibe back up to a more fun and lighthearted feel, telling the story of looking back on what is expected to be an epic journey that ends up being filled with regrets. This title track has a deep undertone to it if you’re willing to listen close enough, and maybe you’ll catch the placement of the album’s title and appreciate its weight when you do! It’s followed by a slightly higher energy, good-vibed track named “Christ Alive My Toe Damnit Hurts”. It’s honestly about the back and forth of addiction and how hard it can truly be to ignore the intrusive thoughts that come across the mental when you’re trying to fight the urge of needing just one more. The admiration I have for artists like Hot Mulligan that have off-the-wall track names to go with songs that have a 50/50 shot of being deep and meaningful, or just a good chuckle with the randomness of the analogies chosen with no serious direction to be left open to interpretation.

Then we get to “Betty.” If you’re ready to bawl your eyes out to a beautifully soft and wholesome ballad to a best friend…this is it. I was completely blindsided by a single line around the 1:11 timestamp that had the waterworks start almost immediately. If you’ve ever had a pet, and had them cross that rainbow bridge without you, this song is going to have you severely deep in your feelings and reminiscing those best friends that you cherished once upon a time.

This song’s title is a bit deceiving. Maybe you’d read “Cock Party 2 (Better Than The First)” and think it’s going to be a heavy and upbeat track, like myself. Much to my pleasant surprise, this song starts out pretty low-key and mellow. Then I went back the second time through and really listened to and read the lyrics along with the track, finding the meaning behind it. Beautifully written, and something ALL of us pop punk babies who have grown up can easily relate to this. The first verse screaming the song’s meaning of growing up and wondering where the hell all the time went and how we wish we could just not be adults and see our missed childhood loved one(s) as if we didn’t have responsibilities to worry about now. “When did we stop laughing? // Feel sorry for us now // Paying rent, calling home again // Routine and tedium now.” Its ending having a very Panic At The Disco!-esque ending of emphasizing the last two lines almost word for word. It’s a beautiful punctual ending to the overall feel of the track.

“Shhhh! Golf Is On” is an immediate classic vibe of instrumentals for throwing us back into the nostalgic sound pool. Then it brings in the instrument that will spice up ANY band’s sound, the cowbell. The love I have for bands that find some clever way to incorporate the cowbell, let alone subtly and in an extremely tasteful manner, will have me applauding the artists every time. It only makes an appearance a few times throughout the track, so it isn’t an incessant sound they try to force to work throughout it, just enough to give it a unique and fun spin.

“Gans Media Retro Games” is a title I didn’t fully understand, which in turn made me immediately go check out the lyrics to maybe get a better understanding on how this song was going to maybe sound like. When I read them and found it was about blacking out and wondering if you’re the problem when things go wrong nights you don’t remember. The next morning regret being strong and trying to come to terms with figuring out the story to find the root of the problem. It’s definitely relatable for some people (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few nights like that myself) and the vibe of the song is upbeat, but with enough of the urgent and somber feel of realizing you just may be the problem due to how you choose to cope, was a strong play for them to throw so bluntly into a song. It’s absolutely admirable to see a song about trying to take accountability and get to the root of their issues.

This is one of those tracks that has an opening line that had me replaying it a time or three to make sure I heard it right. To say I was not expecting to hear “Sucking blood out of a canker sore” come out of Nathan’s mouth, had me double taking, then laughing a little bit. Then getting into the rest of the lyrics, they seem like they may just be gibberish with random meaning, but if you really listen, there are a few lines in there that hint at what the true meaning of the song is about. Watching a loved one deteriorate to a memory-stealing disease is never easy. I have loved ones who suffer from conditions and diseases that are similar and it’s taxing to your mind, your body, and even your soul.

“John “The Rock” Cena, Can You Smell What the Undertaker.” To be entirely honest I had no words when I saw this track title, just straight confusion. I assume that’s the entire point, but, as I mentioned before, these off-the-wall names are just leaving no room to even try to guess what it could bring to the table instrumentally or lyrically and I love the mystery. I’m not 100% positive about this interpretation that I’ve gathered from the song’s meaning, but it seems to be the toxic expectations of the organized religions in the world. It doesn’t name any specifically, but it touches on key points and the lyrics, to me, screamed the struggle to fit the mold of what the religion had for its followers and the intrusive thoughts that followed when you’ve been taught toxic “rules” to life based on how they think you’re supposed to live.

Overall this album is incredible. Nathan and the guys did a great job bringing us back to the original roots of punk and giving us that nostalgic feeling of being in middle and high school again blasting the artists who started it all. Three years was well worth the wait for this band to drop another solid vibed album that came with some deep and heavy topics that I wholeheartedly believe the world needed songs for. Beautifully done, Hot Mulligan, and we can’t wait to see what else you’ve got in store for us!

Why Would I Watch? was released everywhere on May 12th, 2023!

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DS Album Review: Irreplaceable Beings – “Pasadena Ave”

Irreplaceable Beings may be a newer band, but they’re no stranger to releasing exciting material. The band already has four EPs under their belt, with the latest being Pasadena Ave. The album was released on January 1st of 2023 and features a new lineup for the band, consisting of Jason Thomas on drums, Shane Forster […]

Irreplaceable Beings may be a newer band, but they’re no stranger to releasing exciting material. The band already has four EPs under their belt, with the latest being Pasadena Ave. The album was released on January 1st of 2023 and features a new lineup for the band, consisting of Jason Thomas on drums, Shane Forster on bass, Shaun Rucker on rhythm guitar, Sara Russell providing backing vocals, Riff on the lead guitar, and Pierre Marche performing lead vocals.

While the group has shuffled around the lineup, the sound of Pasadena Ave is unmistakably an entry in their lane of hooky, melodic power pop-punk. From the very first track, titled shoestrings, you get the idea that this tight six-song EP will be a fun listen. The melodies are infectious, the tones are warm and crisp, and the song-writing is both fun and, at times poignant. While the band is based in Reno, Nevada, the group writes catchy pop-punk tunes that would seem at home coming from a band out of the California scene.

Although the first thing that jumps out about this EP is the power-poppy punk aesthetic, Irreplaceable Beings are at their best on songs that have layers to dig into. This is an attribute the group excels at on Pasadena Ave, as many of the songs are just as enjoyable as a more surface level listen as they are to discerning second and third listens. Songs like “She Ran” provide an opportunity to both nod your head along to the rhythm as well as possibly connect to the lyrics. This cut may remind one of the Bouncing Souls classic “Lean on Sheena” both in subject matter and general aura. The anthemic song stands out as a real highlight of the project that we encourage you to give a listen if you haven’t checked out Irreplaceable Beings yet.

Other highlights on the project include “Images” and the opening track “Shoestrings.” Overall, we recommend you check out Pasadena Ave if you enjoy a cleaner pop-punk sound that provides a melodic and hooky aesthetic. While the EP is short at just six songs long, it still jumps out how easy a listen it is with a lot of replay ability as well. You can find Irreplaceable Beings on their social media sites, and you can check out Pasadena Ave on the groups’ Bandcamp. Let us know what you think of this exciting new project!

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DS Album Review: L. A. Edwards – “Out Of The Heart Of Darkness”

L. A. Edwards for all intents and purposes is a band of brothers as well as the name of lead singer and main writer in the band. Led by Luke Andrew Edwards, the band which was originally intended to be a solo project has morphed into a family affair with his older brother Jay and […]

L. A. Edwards – Out Of The Heart Of Darkness

L. A. Edwards for all intents and purposes is a band of brothers as well as the name of lead singer and main writer in the band. Led by Luke Andrew Edwards, the band which was originally intended to be a solo project has morphed into a family affair with his older brother Jay and younger brother Jerry both having joined Luke as full-time members. Having been born and raised in southern California, and subsequently transplanted to Nashville, LA’s first two LP’s (2018’s True Blue and 2020’s Blessings From Home) were very Laurel-Canyon-meets-East-Nashville in their sound, easy going and tranquil country/folk-rock which was reminiscent of both Jackson Browne as well as the band Dawes in its style as well as sound.

With Out Of The Heart Of Darkness, LA Edwards’ new release out January 6th on Bitchin’ Music Group, the band has put together a very different kind of album with a distinctly more diverse and harder-edged sound. The album was recorded largely at Luke’s Seatle, WA home studio during the first half of 2022. Work on the album was temporarily put on hold while the band did some extensive touring with both Lucero and then The White Buffalo. Returning to the studio in September, the 3 brothers along with studio engineer, Hunter Rath finished up the recordings for the album. Lookng for a harder, more auster sound to compliment the voluminous material, the band brought in Grammy Award winner, Tom Lord-Alge to work on post production and mixing.

The Brothers Edwards

The album opens up with a short snippet of a young boy describing, as near as I can tell a near-death drowning experience. It is certainly a soundbite that might have come directly from Joseph Conrad’s epic novel from which I have to imagine Edwards co-opted the album’s moniker. Following this “Prelude” we get the album’s first actual song, a track called “Little Boy Blue,” which kicks off with a singular guitar riff, reminiscent of the opening of “Life In A Northern Town” from early the 80’s English folk-rock band Dream Acadamy. But before you have a chance to nestle into this gentle flow, you’re hit with a Springstonian power strum and there’s no looking back as the band pushes forward with what turns out to be a churning rock song replete with a majestic harmony-laden chorus which is just perfect.

The first single off of the album was released in early December and the first thing you will notice is that “Let It Out” is no soft country rocker. Right from the get-go of Luke’s 2,3,4,1,2,3 countdown, it becomes obvious that the Edwards boys are here to rock with this one. A jaunty, almost punkish number with top-heavy guitar backdrop, this song immediately brought some early Deer Tick to mind as I listened to the rhythmic guitar clapping along with LA’s huskier than in the past voice. The band got quite a marketing bonus when this one was picked up and included in the “The Dream Is Not Me,” episode in this year’s hottest TV show, Yellowstone.

The rocking continues a couple of songs later on the album with “Time To Go” which starts off with a distorted guitar line followed by what I’m sure will be an anthemic sing-along chorus before it builds and builds itself into a screeching guitar wall of sound, all while the words “is it now time to go?” is quietly harmonized in the background.

“Time To Go” is then followed by a somewhat mellower “Hi Rite Now!”, a country ditty that laments the appreciation for greener pastures so to speak. And even though compared to the previous track, “Hi…” seems to be mellower, it certainly is no power ballad by any stretch of the imagination.

“Peace Be With You” is the second to last song on the album and it starts off with a hard electric guitar strum leading into Luke’s beautiful vocals which remind me of my favorite (and unfortunately unknown outside of his native city of Little Rock) singers, Adam Faucett. And if you’re lucky enough to know Adam’s work, you will know that a comparison to him and his otherworldly voice is the utmost praise to which you can bestow on another singer.

All in all, L.A.Edwards, as one might expect from an album named after the book which spawned the movie “Apocalypse Now” takes on quite a journey with Out Of The Heart Of Darkness. The album is filled with human emotions which are all over the map and to perfectly augment these disparate emotions Luke, Jerry and Jay provide us with a musical and instrumental landscape which fits like a glove to the rollercoaster ride of feelings portrayed in this collection. While the songs by no means fit into any one easy, concise pigeon hole, they do work veritably seamlessly with one another. Be it Jay’s spooky keyboard work on “Already Gone” to the stoner protest of “Hi Rite Now!” to the beer-soaked barroom rock and roll of “Let It Out”, the songs on OOTHOD run the gamut yet fit together like distinctly shaped pieces of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.

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