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Top 5 Road Trip Albums- The Inaiah Lujan Edition

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Ahh, the great American Road Trip; There’s really nothing quite like it. The feel of the tires on the road, the beautiful sights and sounds of American all around; In my humble opine, America is best experienced at high rates of speed, coffee firmly in hand, looking through the wonder of this great nation through a bug-stained windshield.

Probably not  too many know traveling via the American highway better than Haunted Windchimes frontman and cardigan sweater aficionado Inaiah Lujan; He and his band have criss-crossed the US on multiple occasions, from small town America to urban metropolis. So we decided to ask him what are his top five all time favorite albums to road trip to.

1) “The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack” – Ramblin’ Jack Elliot / A long time ago, on (fiancee and bandmate) Desi and I’s first tour, We stayed with some friends in Indiana, and my friend Liz burned us a stack of CDs. We were going through them while driving, and we ended up on Ramblin’ Jack, and it starts off with an introduction from Johnny Cash, so you know it’s the real deal. And I hear whispers of Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie, and it’s almost like a there’s a whole American roots music history lesson in there that I had never heard. Come to find out, Ramblin Jack Elliot was Woody Guthrie’s protege. He’s kind of, in a way in my opinion, the common link between old-timey roots music and the later Greenwich Village scene, with (Bob) Dylan and Joan Baez later on. Ramblin’ Jack, in a weird way, is a lesser known lineage between those two worlds. For me, it also signaled a change personally with the “Chimes, where we started to go more toward American Traditional music. Hearing that is where we seemed to turn a corner.

2)  “Blonde on Blonde” – Bob Dylan /  So we’ve been really bonding with the band, so we bought a car stereo. We’ve been trying not just throw the iPhone on shuffle anymore, but listening to full albums as a band. And this is one of those albums. There’s almost an air about the guy, kind of a “sold your soul to the Devil” kind of mystical thing. And, I feel like this is the pinnacle of his “electric years”. The majority of it was recorded live, just them in a room, no overdubs. Just killing it, you know? It’s raw and pure. Plus, I extra geeked out on it and made them listen to the mono version!

3) “The Best of the Carter Family” / The Carter Family / Way back when, bands didn’t cut full albums really, so this is a best of with a number of their singles and  78’s. You really won’t find any single albums. They’re all more definitive collections. To me, they took a lot of the music that was happening at the time, whether it be Appalachian, or Negro Spiritual and Gospel music. AP Carter was avid about learning songs and meeting people finding new music. A reason why a lot of those old songs even survived was because of AP Carter and (noted Folk Music archivist/field collector) Alan Lomax. Alan’s ability to record them and AP’s knack for hearing a song once and being able to re-create it was important. Some schools of thought would consider that stealing, but to me it was preservation and honoring the fact that this music is going to die off if no one is around to document it. The Carter Family are credited with the birth of Country music, and to me it’s the blues. Their version of the blues. To me, it also never sounds dated. Some of those songs AP arranged were 200-300 years old, and they still stand the test of time.

4) “20 of Hank Williams Greatest Hits” – Hank Williams / Hank Williams is kind of a weird one for me. I grew up on a Navajo reservation, and there ironically, the people there are really into Cowboy culture and Country music. So as a teenager I really rejected it, because it was always around. And then I got into punk rock, so I rejected EVERY other type of music for a while. But one summer, I was on 8 Mile Road in Beulah with my sister Chela. Her, my brother and I, we are all about mixtapes. That’s our thing. And on this particular one, the song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” comes on, and something about driving through all the beautiful trees, the sun peeking through. All of a sudden, this song comes on, and it floors me. It was devastating, so good. And I ask my sister “Who was that?” And she tells me, “It’s Hank Williams.” So I’m like, “The country singer?!?” So I just thought about it and said “I think I like Country music now.” He’s been a big influence for me ever since. You can see the point of reference for so many different styles of music come through what he was doing. He could also take concepts down to their simplest form, in a way that didn’t seem hokey or cheesy that still seem universal. Simple song structure and killer melodies. Songs that get stuck in your head all day.

5) “American Beauty” – The Grateful Dead / I’m gonna catch a lot of flack from my punk rock friends, but this a new discovery for me. I just went and watched one of their last shows in Chicago. And now I’m all in it. For me, one of my aversions to the Dead were my friends who like them trying to get me to like them by overwhelming me with live stuff. It’s a large, like 50 year body of work. It’s intimidating. But it took a documentary about (Grateful Dead member) Bob Weir called “The Other One” to kind of peak my interest. So I pick American Beauty,  probably their most accessible album. If I was going to turn on anyone to the Dead, this is the album I would use. It’s just full of 3 minute songs. Not a lot of jamming in it. Just solid, really  good songs. And it cites the psychedelic era of music I love. To me, they came on the scene when folk music and traditional music had reached an epicenter and needed somewhere else to go. To be communicated to a different audience. But to me, they are an extension of that American tradition. Plus, it’s great music to listen to when you’re driving down the road, plays easily, no skippers. I would’ve never thought in a million years I’d even say that, but here we are. (Laughs)

Inaiah and his cohorts in the Haunted Windchimes will be appearing live at the Arise Music Festival in Loveland, CO on August 8th. Their new live album, the aptly titled Livechimes, is available via blanktaperecords.com or on iTunes.

 

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Soul mates: An interview with Colorado’s in/Planes

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I feel the need to take a quick second to clear something up—I watched the band in/PLANES get married. Not for this article, mind you; the ceremony was years ago. I have been friends with musical and otherwise soulmates Inaiah Lujan and Desirae Garcia for over a decade at this point (due in no small part I’m sure to our mutual enthusiasm and passion for local music). As a result, I have had the opportunity to bear witness as not only their music but also relationship has burst and bloomed into multiple amazing endeavors. Whether it was their passionate and spirited take on Dustbowl-era Americana as members of folk revivalists the Haunted Windchimes or the wonderfully intimate lo-fi solo albums the both of them have released over the years, these two have a continually impressive musical output and a charm that I have always been excited to delve into. Hell, they even played in my basement once upon a time.

But none of them have struck me quite the same way as in/PLANES has. “Radio Wave,” their first full-length offering via Denver indie record label GROUPHUG, is something altogether different; something wondrously unique. It could be their voices. THOSE voices—honeyed and harmonious—especially whilst entwined in the duets that frequent the songs of in/PLANES. It could be the melodies they create—a riding-high blend of 50’s sha-la-la doo-wop, 60’s sunshine pop and indie-birthed soul—that feels distinctly pop without the trappings of sounding glossy or over-produced. Where tons of modern indie acts are ready to make a loud racket, in/PLANES instead opts to let the grooves play out sparsely and intimately, with inviting musicianship and vocal performances that envelop the space surrounding them. Whether live in concert or in the car, the music of in/PLANES holds on tightly and never lets go.

PULP: It’s weird trying to formally interview you guys; being friends makes it weird to ask you questions in a regular way.

Inaiah Lujan (guitar/vocals): That’s okay.

Desirae Garcia (bass guitar/vocals): We’ll be semi-formal.

IL: Business casual. (laughs)

I did do some research though, and I realized that in/PLANES has been around for longer than I remembered. But this new album is your first full length?

IL: Yeah. This is our first formal release that isn’t an EP. And also first physical release. There is some intention with that. You know that we are champions of analog stuff; Cassette tapes are my first love; I grew up making mixtapes. And CD’s have always felt pointless to me, but for so long we played the game because you used to HAVE to have CD’s on the merch table. But this band has been pretty vocal about our disdain for CD’s; “Radio Wave” is only going to be available on cassette. You’ll get a digital download with purchase of the tape.

Speaking of which, what does the name “Radio Wave” mean in regard to the band?

DG: It’s a line from the song “Why Didn’t You,” a song that is actually not on the record. (laughs). But it’s the very first in/PLANES song we ever wrote. We wrote that song, and it felt like it was part of a totally different project; it felt different than anything we were doing. So maybe it’s a nod to the beginning of the project. We like to think of the song as kind of a breadcrumb to where we are at now.

IL: The benefit of this band is getting to take our time with things; to be more intentional. So now we have been releasing stuff retroactively. The EP we released just last month is stuff we had recorded from our apartment; “Radio Wave” is stuff we put together with Adam Hawkins from Right Heel Music and our drummer Carl Sorensen, and we already have another album in the works.

For me, it also has dual meaning; in/PLANES seems to always create this kind of duality. “Radio Wave” also musically reminds me of when people were only listening to the radio. It kind of plays to idea of this vintage-pop genre we’re kind of going with.

DG: That’s also the music that this record is really inspired by.

IL: The EP feels like kind of a sampler or mixtape for what we’re all about, but this full length is more focused; a little more of that classic pop sound. It’s a fitting title for sure.

DG: Also it’s 1,000,000% love songs; which is bad and good. (laughs)

When you wrote “Why Didn’t You,” did it feel like a song intentionally for a new project?

IL: I think it just presented itself that way; I had been toying around with some chords, and I had been trying to write a song and I didn’t know where to start with melody or lyrics, so I had Desi help me out and it came together really quickly.

In doing so, we realized that we hadn’t collaborated in that way with just the two of us since the beginning of the Haunted Windchimes. At that point, the ‘Chimes had already become four contributing songwriters and had developed a strong formula; in that way it felt like not exactly a departure, but something new that we could try and explore on our own.

DG: It came out really naturally and organically. And it didn’t fit anywhere, either with the ‘Chimes songs or solo songs.

Do you feel like fans of the ‘Chimes and your solo efforts are following you down this path?

IL: I think so. We are all taking a break with the ‘Chimes for now, but we haven’t officially announced that to our fans, so sometimes we’ll get messages asking where we’ve been and why haven’t they heard any news about the band. So maybe some people are a little resistant to it. I don’t know.

DG: It sounds different enough so that some people aren’t going to be into it, which is okay. The other day, someone left a comment on the Windchimes Facebook page asking about us, and another person commented back saying “you should check out in/PLANES and (Haunted Windchimes member Mike Clark’s) the River Arkansas” and the first person commented back “We just like ‘Chimes’ style music,” which is okay! You don’t have to follow us everywhere.

IL: The great thing about being an artist and a musician is the ability to shift gears and follow rabbits down different holes. And with in/PLANES, we’re already trying to get out of our own box and comfort zone. But the common thread that ties it all is that we write all of the songs together, and we wear our influences on our sleeves.

So if you had to explain what you think in/PLANES sounds like, what would you say?

DG: That is my least favorite question, because it’s so hard to explain. The shortcut i usually go for is throwback, vintage pop with some rock tendencies. And if they’re listening after that, then I’ll just keep talking until they walk away, because it’s so difficult to answer.

But like to go with vintage-pop, because if someone says rock & roll, I don’t feel attached to that. We write pop music; all the formulas, the lack of formulas…

IL: It does feel like something you would turn on the radio and hear in the 50’ or 60’s to me, but our modern influences still sneak in; we’re both big fans of hip-hop and country music, and it all gets in one way or another.

DG: Digital drums are where we lose a lot of people. They’re like “WHAT? Is that a digital drum?” And I’m like, “Yup, it is.” (laughs) It’s those 808 beats.

The electronics are really subtle in your songs though.

IL: I think so too. I think we just want to be able to write a song without putting it in a box, you know? But at the same time, making sure to trim all of the fat; which may be contradictory.

We’re not trying to write complex songs. I don’t like to have any rules, but I do like to set limitations on myself; almost like limiting your color pallette if you’re a painter.

DG: Not to be pigeonholed, but also maintain some cohesion. Present yourself in a way people can understand. I don’t like to tell people what genre of music we are, but it is helpful for us; it makes us more focused.

IL: Knowing where the line or limitation is and knowing how far we can push it over causes a tension we like to work under. It’s good tension.

DG: You can’t put me in a box—only I can put me in a box!

“Radio Wave” from in/PLANES is out 5/3 on cassette via GROUPHUG records, with a slew of release shows and a digital release to come soon thereafter. For full dates and info, head to inPlanes.com

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CO Springs emcee Che Bong goes outer limits on new psychedelic full length

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Electro-Soul Hip Hop | Che Bong – From the dusty ‘Amen break’ heavy loop-gone-psychedelic of album opener Telescope to the lo-fi space rockin’ of album ender The Paradox of Time, CS emcee Che Bong (of Bullhead*ded) has really outdone himself and the genre itself on Telescope to the Heavens. With an album full of immersive and challenging-yet-chill hip hop musicality that owes just as much to free jazz and psychedelic rock as it does to hip hop and neo-soul, Che is on some next level stuff.  Get. On. It.


90’s inspired Alt-Punk | Hooper – “No Monument” from Denver Rock City punkers Hooper does a couple things very well; it provides stellar songwriting and momentum building, gives a healthy shot in the arm of indie-slathered 90s era punk rock, and in doing both provides a direct line to the sonic and perhaps more importantly workhorse aesthetic of the nascent indie punk heyday of the 90s. Trip out on that, holmes!


Blackened Sludge-Punks | Worry – The newest EP from Colorado Springs heavies Worry is not for the faint of heart, smashing heads on the punk rock with a bludgeoning mix of seething sludge metal and intrinsically intense hardcore know-how. Monolithic and absolutely monstrous, the seven raw cuts on A Celebration of Suffering are gloriously bleak, blackened and smolder with an actual extremity that most other “extreme” bands often lack.


Slow Burn Indie Rock | Wrinkle – Mind melding and photosynthesizing the big hook power-pop of early Weezer and the Rentals with the wide-eyed indie bend of Neva Dinova and Cursive, Denver’s indie rock supergroup of sorts Wrinkle are a slackers fever dream; a haze of unaffected yet disaffected indie-fed pop rock that first and foremost rules and that is more commercially viable than them nor I would care to admit on their newest offering A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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Raw Rock & Roll and dark Blues collide with Denver’s the Velveteers

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At only six tracks long, this brand new self-titled EP via Denver’s the Velveteers (Recorded on warm analog tape at Silo Sound Studios in Denver) is a half-hour long magic spell; a concoction of twisted psychedelic undercurrent and blues-rock guitar histrionics draped in the smoky and arresting vocals of one Demi Demitro. Demi, along with co-founder and multi-instrumentalist John Demitro, conjure the kind of gnarled, foot-stomping rhythms and riffs that have dual citizenship between the acid-laced Led Zeppelin 70’s arena-rock heyday and the modern fuzz drenched, psychedelic revival of now.

Musically, this 2 piece makes quite the racket. Raw rock and roll power and deep, dark blues mystique collide head on. If you want a band that can riff, look no further! You may snap your neck clean off from all the head nodding you’ll involuntarily be doing. Like a confession to the dark lord himself, the Velveteers pen the kind of dirty rock and roll diddies that are a conduit for the heathen in all of us. With lyrical gems like “You know just what your doing to me / but heaven knows what’s up your sleeves” (off of the sublime album midpoint “Bloody Little Secrets”), Velveteers delve into the dark and macabre underbelly of the mind and bring back blues-laced musical treasures for the world to behold. We should be so lucky.


“The Velveteers” is streaming (and for sale hint hint) via Bandcamp now. Live dates and more info on Facebook.

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