Record Review: Mako Sica & Hamid Drake’s “Ronda”

It may take a village to raise a child and two record labels (Feeding Tube and Astral Spirits) to put out this album, but it only takes one master drummer to elevate a group to new heights. Mako Sica is a Chicago-based trio descended from art-rock ensemble Rope with a knack for pulling eerie atmospherics out of the improvisational moment. Percussionist Hamid Drake is one of the great improvising drummers of his generation, but despite enduring connections with the likes of William Parker and Peter Brötzmann, he remains wide open to new encounters.

An initial collaboration onstage went well enough for Drake and Mako Sica to check into the studio twice. The mostly side-long pieces are like journeys that wind patiently through an uncharted landscape of mood and sound combinations. Wordless vocals and echo-laden instrumentation keep things spooky, but it’s the purposeful change-up of rhythmic ideas and means that make the sonic narrative gripping.

—Bill Meyer

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Ben Millburn’s “Mr. Tuxedo” Video

Sunglass Moustache is not only the title of Ben Millburn‘s debut album but also the name of the group of musicians he surrounds himself with. The Austin-based, Louisiana-born musician will self-release the 11-track LP on September 14, and it comes after a handful of EPs he also issued himself. While Sunglass Moustache—made up of eight songs recorded in two days, studio improvisations and home-recorded material—isn’t a concept album, Millburn decided to make it just that via a series of 11 self-written and self-directed videos (one for each track on the LP) following a character named Mr. Tuxedo and, according to Millburn, “his rise and reign in power” as well as his adventures with Mustang Billy, Mr. Taco and others.

Since we’re premiering the clip for Mr. Tuxedo’s titular track today, we asked Millburn for some insight into the song and video. He responded, “The side effects of ambition, Frank Zappa, classical music, dub, Beck, YouTube interviews with Monica Lewinsky.” We’re guessing he’s talking about the song itself and not the video, but as Millburn is a guy who spends a lot of time with dudes named Mr. Tuxedo, Mustang Billy and Mr. Taco, we can’t be so sure.

Regardless, we’re proud to premiere the video for “Mr. Tuxedo” today on Watch it now, and as a bonus, here’s the album trailer for Sunglass Moustache:

From The Desk Of Peter Holsapple: Lou Christie

It makes sense that since Peter Holsapple has long been the go-to guy for musicians such as R.E.M., Hootie & The Blowfish, John Hiatt, Indigo Girls, the Troggs, Juliana Hatfield and too many others to name here that when he needed assistance on his first solo album in 21 years that he would turn to, well, himself. Game Day (Omnivore) is a solo record in the truest sense of the word, as the dB’s co-founder pretty much did everything himself on the LP. Holsapple will being guest editing—for the second time—all week. Grab some beer and some pizza: It’s game day.

Holsapple: My favorite falsetto in rock, and one of the most prolific guys to record, Lou Christie shares my birthdate, and I’ve been somewhat obsessed with his music since I heard “Two Faces Have I” (one of the U.S.’s first hits with a reggae beat, maybe?) as a stripling youth. When I got older, I began trying to collect Lou’s many singles on dozens of labels. I think I got up to about 50 or so 45s before my collection went under in Hurricane Katrina. And every one of those singles had intriguing production values and ultra-memorable melodies. From 1964’s “Have I Sinned” on Colpix to “If My Car Could Only Talk” and “Painter” on MGM to “Self Expression (The Kids On The Street Will Never Give In)” on Columbia, Lou’s tenor brings a high drama to story songs, many co-written by Lou and Twyla Hebert. No less a fan than Alex Chilton covered “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.” Even 1981 period piece “Guardian Angel,” a tribute to NYC’s security force from the era, is sorta fascinating, like his summer anthem “Riding In My Van.” Lou still performs and records, and his falsetto would seem to be unchanged by time.