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Alt Pop





Johnny Dynamite & the Bloodsuckers: New single and exclusive interview

When I recently got the chance to ask Johnny Dynamite¹ what old movie he’d like to see his new single “Bats in the Woods” magically and retroactively inserted into, he replied Lost Boys without hesitation (well, if an email can be sent “without hesitation”) and damn if isn’t an astute choice because A) there’s actual bats in the movie (not to mention actual bloodsuckiers) or at least they're strongly implied and these teenage vampire bats like to party in the woods; B) the song would be a perfect fit sonically for the Lost Boys soundtrack and it’d fit seamlessly in between tracks by INXS, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Lou Graham of Foreigner fame; C) just like that scene in the movie featuring the ripped, oiled-up saxophone guy thrusting his hips while singing about how he “still believes” in front of a burning trash bin and a coterie of screaming fans, Johnny Dynamite is likewise willing to go shirtless and to sport a mullet for his art and also to sing a heartfelt appeal to casting aside negative forces and getting “so outta here, so f*cking out of here” like Bonnie and Clyde on a motorcycle built for two.

“Bats in the Woods” is the third single and the opening track from Mr. Dynamite’s soon to be released LP titled Sleeveless (Born Losers Records) and I can see why he'd choose it to open the album because it establishes a really vibey <vibe> right off the bat with chiming guitar harmonics and gated snare and an insistent single-note bass line followed by an equally vibey melodic hook and that’s all before Johnny declaims the opening line “your bath is warm / I want to step in” and fair warning you may find your own hair suddenly forming into a mullet just from listening to this song—though I’m guessing less a Fabio style mullet and more like a cool Ric Ocasek mullet that'll have supermodels groveling at your feet and critics praising your musical creations.

Speaking of a fondness for warm baths you may be wondering about Johnny Dynamite’s other personal preferences and peccadillos and his personal history and fortunately this music journalist dug deep into the mystery and the results may surprise you. And so appearing here, for the very first time, we introduce to you our new “Vital Stats” column in which a profiled artist spills the beans on their favorite hobbies, turn-ons and turn-offs, and other intimate fun facts. And as you‘ll see below it turns out Mr. Dynamite is a pretty down to earth guy especially for someone named after an eyepatch-wearing, criminal-killing and ladykilling private detective who starred in his own series of hard-boiled, pre-code comic books from the early 1950s drawn and (in later issues) authored by Johnny’s own grandfather Pete Morisi

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JOHNNY DYNAMITE"S VITAL STATS™

Current home: I live in a tiny bedroom in Ridgewood, Queens where I record all my tunes

Previous home: I grew up in Staten Island then lived in New Paltz for 5 years. After deciding to move back to the city, I lived in the East Village projects illegally for a year before my credit score was good enough to get a real apartment

Profession: I work in the art department for film when the jobs come in, otherwise I’m just a bike messenger who eats on food stamps

Hobbies: I love to ride my bike through the city really fast and I love to play Mario Kart & Sonic Racing. I think I have the need for speed

Last book read: kind of funny, but this past year my grandpa's comic Johnny Dynamite came out as a graphic novel and my pops got it for me for Christmas, that’s what I’ve been reading lol

Last accomplishment: I quit smoking weed

Favorite quote: "stay gold ponyboy, stay gold"

Turn-on: driving a fast car

Turn-off: driving a fast boat

Place you’d like to visit most: Tokyo... I love anime, I love sushi, I love the music, and I love a big city

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¹ The Bloodsuckers were unavailable for comment.

² But unlike that other “Morrissey,” when Johnny Dynamite implores you to “take me out tonight” you can bet he won’t let you to get run over by a double-decker bus.

(Jason Lee)





Iverson "How Does It Make U Feel"

The Alt-Pop trio Iverson has released a new single called "How Does It Make U Feel". This late '80's, early '90's inspired track is accompanied by a video below which was created by and features the group lead singer/songwriter Charles Iverson acting out and through the array of emotions in the track.

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VIDEO: In “Off the Rails,” Wallice is Holding All the Strings

Photo Credit: Jerry Maestas

L.A. artist Wallice shares the music video for “Off The Rails,” the title track to her new EP, out Friday, June 4th independently. The video portrays Wallice and her band as avatars of a Sims-like computer game, with her actions unexpectedly controlled by a puppet master unseen until the very end of the video. It’s a humorous metaphor for the way our current lives seem to be directed by an ever-present but unseen hand.

Musically, the track is an effervescent slice of indie pop. Beginning with Wallice’s innocent, if slightly stoned solo vocal, she’s soon joined by angelic overdubbed harmonies that fill the listener’s ears, until the track explodes with the full-band arrangment: surf-style guitar with mixed electronic and acoustic drums share the stage with Wallice’s vocal.

Wallice says of the new track: “’Off the Rails” is about feeling like you don’t have any control over your life and that the world is against you—and that you’re the only one that feels that way,” which definitely seems reflected in lines like: “my life’s a mess but I don’t give a shit/I never try my best I learn to live with it. I live my life like I’m the only one going off the rails.”

Fuzzy synth bass towards the middle changes the vibe slightly, and soon Wallice’s vocal begins to feel as distorted and reverbed as the lead guitar. Eventually you can hardly tell the difference when her voice and the guitar blend into one another at the very peak of the songs’ build-up. The guitar almost becomes an extension of the narrator’s buried stress and desperation. Gabe Hernandez





VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: On “Let Go,” Karaboudjan Lets Loose and Opens Up

Billy Kim’s a busy person. Along with being a multi-instrumentalist member of electronic musician Tycho’s touring ensemble since 2016, he’s also been hard at work making music of his own as Karaboudjan (a reference to a ship in the Belgian artist Hergé’s classic children’s comic strip The Adventures of Tin Tin). And now we have our hands on “Let Go,” the second single from his forthcoming debut EP, IMAGO, scheduled for release this September, along with and exclusive look at the new music video for the track.

Intended as a tribute to Kim’s late father, “Let Go” feels simultaneously chilled-out and hard-hitting, if such a thing is possible. If it is, it’s certainly thanks to Kim’s excellent use of dynamics in the production, with fluorescent synth pads and electric pianos deftly sharing space with reverb-drenched guitars, rubbery bass guitars, cavernous, strutting drums, and spiraling tape-delayed vocals, while the whirlpool-like builds to the chorus betray a definite psychedelic streak in his sound.

“I want to thank you for your time here,” sings Kim during the chorus. If this new single is any indication, we’re eager to spend more time in Karaboudjan’s musical world very soon. Gabe Hernandez





Atlas Engine urges you to be "As You Are"

Atlas Engine is a band whose material ranges from lush laid-back elaborated-arranged art-pop not totally unlike Alan Parsons Project if Alan Parsons project was cooler (sorry Alan Parsons Project but you don’t need to be cool anyway!) to driving motorik rock perfect for your next excursion driving the Autobahn (here's a great motorik playlist to check out if you got 41 or 42 hours to spare, you're welcome!)

Officially released today, “As You Are” is the second advance single by Atlas Engine (the first being “Modern Mind”) taken from an upcoming “suite of EPs” to which the average punter on the street may reply “what’s an EP?” and “what’s a suite?” But you, dear Deli reader, are far from being average—and whether you have the attention span to process a suite of EPs or not, you can most certainly appreciate the emotional resonance and the fine Swiss craftsmanship of a song like “As You Are” (note: the band are not Swiss but no doubt consume plenty of cheese and chocolate in Brooklyn so it’s close enough). But no doubt when the song eventually appears on When the Compass Resets Part I (Favorite Friends Records) it will be all the more fulfilling in that context. 

Speaking of the band's coordinates and identity (btw you can hear all their previous singles on the comp above) up until the past year Atlas Engine was one of those deals like Nine Inch Nails where it’s really just a single guy (in this case, Nick LaFalce) and whoever he surrounds himself with on a given record or tour but minus the rivalries with Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson. But that’s all recently changed. In 2020 Nick did something pretty much the opposite of most bands I’m guessing and human beings in general in terms of retreating into near isolation and just barely managing to feed and clothe ourselves (and not always the latter) but instead he used the time to solidify a stable, permanent membership for Atlas Engine in the middle of a pandemic with said bandmates being Meredith Lampe (vocals/keys), Patrick Cochrane (Bass/vocals), Brendan McGuckin (drums), and Jeff Fettig (guitar/synth) who now also participate in the songwriting process. And yes Nick has made us all look bad in the process and should be terribly ashamed of himself, but we’ll let it slide for now because these new songs are solid and we may wanna ask for VIP passes at Atlas Engine's next live show.

So let’s now turn to “As You Are” since it’s the new one. The song fades in with an electronic wind chime kind of sound and then moments later over a relaxed, rippling drumbeat there’s an ascending piano chord pattern/bass line with a sustained layer of electronic ambience before Mr. LaFalce’s stately yet etherial vocals enter. Up through this point “As You Are” sounds a bit like Wilco being fronted by Damon Albarn, and in the opening lines he slowly declaims that “the wretched hour / we’ve been waiting for / has come.” So wait, things are about to get more wretched compared to the past year (!) or maybe he's referring to the past year so let's table the discussion for now and move on.

And then right after the line “mouth is open wide / sharpening the knife” the band goes into a Grandaddy-like section (others might say “Radiohead section” but I’m sticking with Granddaddy) with cascading synths and a warm enveloping halo of sound—and this is where the the song really gets me—plus four overdubbed voices floating above it all like a rapturous choir of Brian Wilsons singing in falsetto, and I can almost imagine this part of the song being an actual Beach Boys song from their post-Pet Sounds Smiley Smile/Wild Honey artsy period. Then for a moment everything drops out and LaFalce drops a George Harrison-ism or maybe more like an Oasis-like pronouncement to “become as you are” and this is making me realize there’s a certain Britpop vibe to the song overall under the heading of indie pop power ballads that rock out at the end.

Speaking of rocking out, after the cycle described above repeats one more time with some new textures and lyrics thrown in, “As You Are” suddenly and briefly transforms into thumping half-tempo time with a pulsating tremolo guitar complete with grungy distortion overlay and a small dash of space rock synth until one last swooning harmony-laden chorus comes in that builds to a fairly epic climax before dissolving into a final few seconds of twinkling ambience which takes the whole thing full circle. So as you can see listeners are taken on a cinematic sonic journey in the space of just over four minutes which is handy since you can boil an egg to the song no problem that is if you like a soft yolk. Also adventurous and ambitious is the song’s lyrical theme which according to Nick is about “technology’s effect on one’s understanding of themselves” which honestly I’m not sure what he’s on about because I compose these blog posts on an old Radio Shack word processor.

And speaking of ambition, one last thing that bears pointing out is the larger concept underlying “As You Are”, "Modern Mind" and the band's other soon-to-be-released material is this whole suite-of-EPs idea mentioned earlier--more specifically, a collection of four EPs to be released throughout 2021 that will taken together comprise a set of conceptually-related chapters as part of a larger overriding work that will then be released as an album of its own once the pieces are in place. And hell we at the Deli heartily co-sign this Russian Nesting Dolls approach to record releasing because even King Crimson or Yes or Rush never came up with this particular concept in the Concept Album Sciences and we support innovation in all its many forms. (Jason Lee)

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