Jay Som: Hobo Halo

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Art. Art everywhere.

Pressuredrop.tv, a music organization that hosts up-and-coming artists in offbeat locations, has set Jay Som up in Lot Art Salon, a funky little spot where they buy estate paintings or collections and sell them out of this cozy den. Earth-toned hues color the walls and there are heaps of fragile-looking picture frames full of things that I would be nervous just to breathe around.

Melina Dutarte, the creator of Jay Som along with the other members, are all in neutral colors themselves. My eyes scan the group to get an idea of their style: a dark flannel, an army-green bomber jacket, a dope multi-colored sweater I’d like to own, and a brown little beanie placed perfectly atop Melina’s head, which I have decidedly dubbed “The Hobo Halo.”

Cue a tasty rhythm on the drums and the rest of the instruments will follow in style. The bass guitar has a low-key funky way about it while the lead guitar shreds a high-pitched melody. Melina comes in with vocals and they are just lovely.  Her voice is easy-on-the-ears and the texture can only be described as smooth and angelic. That sort of singing over a groovy bass, psychedelic-jazzy guitar and a suave drumbeat make for an stimulating listening experience.

Melina drills repetitive lines into the mic:

“…Everybody works…”

This verse specifically stands out to me because I feel it reflects back on the young composer and her talented band mates. They perform their set with a well-crafted and perfected tightness.

I am looking at the ultimate “cool musician kids.” They all appear to pick apart the songs in their own unique way and space, but simultaneously sound completely together in this inventive fusion of musical styles. They nonchalantly bob their bodies along to the music and occasionally toss each other chill/supportive head nods — as if what they were doing something that didn’t require immense fucking coordination and skill.

As the set progresses, I note that Melina really starts to get comfortable in her voice. Like the pipes have started to heat up and are becoming more malleable; she hits hiccuped high notes but also drops it down low to draw out her more yell-y phrases.

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“…You don’t want to see me like this…”

There are pieces of classy art covering almost every inch of the space, but because of the warm color theme and the closeness, I almost don’t notice the immense detail all around. A lot of sophistication, yet comfortable. The same could be said of Jay Som.

“Lipstick Stains” — I’ll be your cigarette ashtray / Come back when it’s too late 

It’s safe to say that this is my favorite tune played in this set. The lyrics are crisp and audible, but the content itself is up to interpretation. To top it off, there is this badass build-up in the middle of the song where they all just jam out in this oh-so-triumphant sounding manner. Ladies and gentlemen: we have peaked.

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The prickly sounding madness takes me to the edge and holds me there until they make a unanimous and seemingly telepathic decision to whip me right back to where I need to be with just a few pleasurable notes, united. Once they’ve settled me down, the angel coos the remaining verses into the mic.

“Bye!” They all holler out as a unit.

Jay Som, you know just how leave a girl feeling satisfied.

photo credit: Rachel Escoto @pixielina

Priest’s Orders

It’s Sunday, February 19th and Pressuredrop.tv is hosting Priests, (Katie Alice Greer, Daniele Daniele, Taylor Mulitz and G.L. Jaguar), on this holiest of jam days.  The band is set up in a white-walled basement surrounded by strands of lights and cream-colored curtains bunched up for a back-drop.

“This is great T.V., ready for prime-time! Hello everybody, we’re called Priests. You’re on the internet watching us — welcome! We’re a band,” she continues somewhat awkwardly, “we’re live in a house somewhere in Oakland, California, and we’re gonna play some songs for you. Here we go!”

The camera flashes to a variety of pedals organized on the floor, confusing looking as all hell, and then moves up to the most beautiful blue guitar I have ever seen. What comes out of it sounds just as good as it looks. A catchy melody drains down through my ear-holes and just as it sits all cozy-like at the drum of it, a thick voice enters abruptly — causing a dizzying, yet delightful effect.

The lead singer looks dashing in her fluffy blue dress and gaudy gold earrings while she belts repetitive lyrics over the transfixing guitar melody, unwavering. The short-haired chick wearing a retro-yellow tee holds a tight, fast beat on the kit, and the nonchalant looking bassist chills on the side, plucking at some heavy notes — the anchor holding down the ship.

“It’s all live, It’s all happening,” says the front-woman in the baby blue gown.

The guitarist continues to tap away at the strings on the frets, his square-rimmed glasses and printed top make for a colorful yet proper sight.

As the set continues, I notice that the lead singer falls deeper and deeper into what she’s saying, what the other band members are playing — into her groove. It’s almost like she gives a shit about what they are trying to get across.

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I don’t care what you think,” she drones on in her strong, stony voice.

Which is exactly what these punk-gone-priests are attempting to get across.

And they really are somewhat of an off-beat godly bunch; they talk about being “cogs in the machine,” love, politics, living in our modern world, and also emphasize the consequences of judgement.

I could really see these guys performing at some sort of a “Rebels With Wholesome Intentions” dance convention.

Personally, one of my favorite repeating lines, “I thought I was a cowboy because I smoked Reds,” shines a light on the sort of talk-style, train-of-thought writing that this band emits.

A nice surprise comes about towards the end of the set as the drummer slams a fast beat while simultaneously shares some colorful words with the mic. She describes a setting, a mood, a moment of fear that screams at you to PAY ATTENTION.

The other members bob their bods along and keep themselves turned towards her as she spits in tongues. The sentiment is obvious; this woman is a badass beat-ist and a wordsmith. I’m listening.

They’re not perfect sounding by any means, but what punk influenced artist wants to be? That cringe, that dirt, that tiny bit of chaos IS the message.  A movement set in place to make us completely aware of our senses.

“Thanks, internet, for coming to the show. Make sure to punch a Nazi sometime — Bye!”

And with those orders from the Priest, I find myself googling “white supremacists near me” in hopes to fulfill the Lord’s work.

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Check out more of Pressuredrop.tv’s unique artist lineup and follow-up to see who/who hasn’t decked a Nazi.

Sad Girl Justice

What was your chatroom username back in the day? Maybe you went with a super chill CODchick123, or perhaps a more badass Sk8erboiAnarchy365

In the case of this sugar-punk rock group, it’s Sad13.

It’s December 2nd and Sad13 of the band Speedy Ortiz, (previously hosted by Pressuredrop.tv http://pressuredrop.tv/artists/speedy-ortiz), is about to perform their livestream in the “Secret Bunker.”

Pressure drop.tv is an unconventional music organization that finds new and original artists to livestream in offbeat places — specifically chosen for the artist’s sound.

The creator of Sad13, Sadie Dupuis — rocking glitter eyeshadow and big hair scrunchies on her wrist — begins the set with mistakes. She cues the computer beat and out comes a brief — Boom Bah CUT. She apologizes and jokes, “That was our first song.” She tries again — Boom Bah CUT — the same musical mishap, twice. “That was our second song.” The other members are relaxed, they seem unfazed and chuckle at the singer. If “three times a charm” has any validity at all, this should be the try that triggers the music.

And it does! The song erupts in an upbeat melody while Sadie claps her hands into the mic and loops the sound. I immediately think to dub their music “pop,” but that would be selling it short. The song is intriguing in the way that it moves and transforms. It oscillates between happy and predictable then dips down to a sharp, uncomfortable center — like a lollipop from one too many licks.

Dupuis’s ultra-girly voice is susceptible to flashes of hysteria, the guitar unabashedly scratches away at discordant riffs, and the lyrics fearlessly drop this sort of message:

I say yes to the dress when I put it on/ I say yes if I want you to take it off.”

And

“You still wanna lick my asshole, man.”

There’s no mistaking Sad13 for your typical top 40 pop-band.

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The easy-on-the-ears synth guitar and sickly sweet vocals gives the music a sort of “I want to be popular, pretty, glamorous and wanted,” feel. But it seems things always go amuck; the drums have a thrash attack, the synth gets bitter and spits at your ears, that pretty-girl voice convulses and the whole damn facade falls apart.

No one ever said being yourself was easy, and Sad13 is musical proof of that.

The bunker is decked out with dangling, dim lights, colorful streamers and dark punk posters on the walls; there couldn’t be a set more fitting for this band. As I watch them play, I can’t help but feel I’m witnessing a bunch of prom queens toss out their tiaras and go completely mad together, in the privacy of their basement hangout spot.

It’s almost like they are performing their diaries — maybe in some alternate reality, to avoid people’s stares. I take a look at the guitarist sporting some VR looking sunglasses and my hypothesis feels even more concrete. 

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They may be regular, fleshy humans, chalk full of normalities in real life, but when they are united, they are a k(l)ickass team of chatroom super heroes, using their instruments of choice to fight for sad girl justice.

Their livestream is short and sweet, just 20 minutes, but they get their point across — Don’t mess with my heart or my head, I’m not what you expect.

“Thank you,” the lead singer squeals delightedly. “Sad13. So happy! So tacos!” They all laugh with some sort of taco-fueled, superhero wisdom and strip themselves of their weapons.

The Witch of The Shipping Container Garden

It’s Tuesday, December 13th and Shannon Lay of Feels — a punked out girl group that Pressuredrop.tv hosted last October http://pressuredrop.tv/artists/feels — is about to perform her solo set.

Pressuredrop.tv is an unconventional music company based in San Francisco that handpicks new and original artists to livestream in offbeat spots, specifically chosen for the group’s feel and style — giving the online audience a musical viewing experience unlike any other.

For Shannon’s performance, they decided on a tiny, seemingly claustrophobic shipping container previously used for a Tarzan Movie promotional video; a miniature jungle awaiting the arrival of one musical mamma-jamma. It wasn’t exactly a cakewalk getting up there, either.

The container sits upon another container, which Shannon and just two camera people had to scramble up to get to. And even then, the space was too cramped for all three of them, so she performed the entire set alone inside while the stream was recorded by the camera, outside.


“Hello, I’m Shannon. I’m gonna play some music today,” she says. And with a quirky, if not completely sarcastic smile: “Let’s have some fun!”

She begins her first song with a melodic finger-picking progression, which she layers with high-pitched scales; almost reminiscent of chiming clocks in a big, echoey building. The camera captures her feet, revealing the pedals she’s working to loop the sounds.

She takes me on a sweet, wonderland type guitar journey, through lush greenery and twinkling lights, when all of a sudden her voice makes its entrance.

It is clear, but soft, relaxing but intriguing, heavy but light — all at the same time.

Like bubbles of air floating towards the surface of the water.

Her eyes stay closed. I can see the muscles in her forehead creasing, contorting from the emotional response to whatever is happening behind her shut lids.

It’s hard to decipher all of the lyrics, through the dense reverb clinging to the sounds.

“I think I’ll just stay here in my garden / The flowers are all weeds / There’s no fruit on the trees / But it suits me just fine.”

As I listen, I feel like a wide-eyed child in an enchanted forest, sitting legs crossed, looking up at a Cantadora, an oral storyteller.

The shots taken by the camera fade in and out: her fingers, her black boots, the concentration playing across her face — an artist, lost in her own spinning performance.  

*Abrupt and loud SCREEEEECH*

I am snapped back to reality at the end of each song, when she slides her capo in preparation for the next, the amps still buzzing.

But not to fret, (pun absolutely intended), as soon as I think I’ve been robbed of sound-canal euphoria, I am lulled back into my awe-stricken, childlike daze as the music begins again.

“This song is for everyone going through a tough time right now because it’s been a hectic year. It’s called ‘Life going down.’ It’s about the wonder that we keep going and still do it. I’m proud of all of you,” She declares kindly.

At first, I couldn’t help but think her appearance versus her music was somewhat contradictory.

She rocks a slap of red locks with the sides of her head shaved, cat-like black eyeliner, a septum piercing, some funky pants and kick-ass boots. A statement, for sure.

Her solo music, on the other hand seemed just the opposite: soft, slow, calculated, well kempt, almost shy at times.

But as the set progressed, I realized it wasn’t a contrast at all — it was perfectly fitting — she’s a goddamn steampunk fairy queen!

“This song’s about a witch,” she says.
(Or she’s a witch. Either works).

There are mirrors set up behind her in the container, making the space look less claustrophobic than I initially anticipated and more personal, like I’m right there with her. I can’t help but tumble into those mirrors as her lyrics lead me to visions of a steampunk, fairy, queen, witch-woman composing in her garden and effortlessly plucking at the heartstrings of music lovers like me.

“The things that fear can do,” the last lines from the bruja tune, descending like a broomstick from the sky.

“Two and a half more songs! Thanks for watching, This is awesome. Oh! There are trees in here — crazy,” She chuckles.
  

It suddenly dawns on me why, perhaps, Pressuredrop.tv chose this unusual location for Shannon: although her music is not on the soundtrack of the new Tarzan movie, it could very easily be used in another film with similar scenery.

Throughout my listening experience, her soundscape triggered rich imagery, complete in its earthiness.

“Have a good day, wherever you are,” she peeps into the mic and proceeds to play the half of the “two and a half songs” reference earlier — a short and hypnotic guitar progression to end an all around magical set.

“Thanks so much, stay safe, hang in there, guys!” She finally looks up with a big, witchy grin, right into the lens.



Lovin’ the Taste of #TerryMaltsLive

The warehouse of Timbuk2 is big and open with natural light tossing itself in through the abundance of windows.

On the wall I notice a painting of a giant flower: kaleidoscopic, multicolored and sharp-edged, much like the group performing in front of it.

Once the band gear was locked, loaded and ready to fire — Terry Malts was given the green light.

Their first song, “Come to Find You,” begins with Nathan Sweatt, the group’s drummer, walloping a heavy beat on the tom and snare — I feel my heart thudding along to the dense and energetic intro. Next, a high pitched scream from the guitar of Correy Cunningham; the sound gradually falls and lands on a tight, fast rhythm. And finally, the thumping of bass, accompanied by Phil Benson opening his mouth to release a deep ripple of vocal vibrato.

As the noise increases, I notice a curious outsider cupping their hands around their eyes and pressing their face against the window to get a glimpse of what in the hell this glorious event is all about.

I’ll let you in on the secret: It’s about the camera capturing a parade of picks on the string’s taut, shifting rhythms, Benson smiling casually because – let’s face it – these guys are so on point with their sound! They play with an effortlessness that only comes from hours of painstaking practice in a room together. A repetition of the lyrics “I’m neurotic,” finds a snug place in your brain to hang out for awhile.

How do these musical blokes distinguish themselves from all the other musical blokes? In the case of Terry Malts, it’s definitely their ability to conjure the right bit of mania in that screeching guitar and rolling drum, but also to hold it down low for an easy listening experience by the recumbent croon of Phil Benson’s voice.

The crowd cheers after each song, but the group seems to pay no mind and jumps face-first into the next jam — that, right there, is true musical comfort. With their upbeat, accessible rhythms and elevating melodies, it isn’t hard to imagine Terry Malt’s audience rallying their lovin’ bones to these tunes.

The group performs their song “Gentle Eyes,” and their lyrics, “I know I’m hard to read / at times I’m cold as ice / but when you’ve had enough / you still give me gentle eyes,” bring about the sensation of purity and taintedness — like even if I’m not exactly a perfectly shiny person, you’ll still dig me. A spanking of splendid, if you will. This moves you even further into the uniquely boisterous, punked-out, heart-wrenching style that is Terry Malts.

“…Blink of an eye and the curtains close…”

When they finally take a moment to stop playing music, the band says something jokey about cat piss and then nonchalantly moves on to admit to their lack of presence in the last few years. Guitarist, Cunningham, claims, “#TerryMaltsLive — We’re not dead, we’re alive!” They all have a quick laugh, then dive back into it, almost ironically, with the beginning lyrics “I’m no good for you.”

As the music plays on and the time starts running out, I say a silent prayer that it won’t. The fresh environment and lo-fi, poppy sounds have me wanting more. Not only is the music fun and addicting, the setting itself is just as enticing.

But alas, all good things (shouldn’t) come to an end.

They complete their live set with “I Could Be Happy,” a very fitting Altered Image cover. The lead singer wipes the well-deserved sweat from his brow and tosses a “That’s all she wrote” at the crowd before walking away. 

…But that’s not entirely true. “Terry Malts” has heaps of music waiting to bless your ears. After this treat of a performance, you know you want to check out the rest. Oh! and be sure to follow — #TerryMaltsLive.