Joshua Karpeh is inside an apartment building that is both not his own nor houses anyone he actually knows. He’s there to get a meeting with a leasing agent or manager after spending his morning—in a state of ever-evaporating interest—flipping through a stack of business cards and dialing the numbers printed on them—ten—twenty—forty—sixty-times—fishing for calls and occasionally faking them when no-one would bite. On this particular day—after logging his calls—Karpeh has realized he hasn’t hooked quite enough fish and has stepped-out into the grid-maze of New York knocking on doors—ten—twenty—forty—sixty-times—looking to snag a meeting with anyone available. And when that five-o’clock whistle finally blows, Karpeh trades his suit and tie and phone and business cards for an entirely different ensemble: a guitar, an amp, a pair of headphones, a haphazard tangle of pedals. Inside his Brooklyn apartment Karpeh settles into the emotive thrums and soulful instrumentation of Cautious Clay.
Cautious Clay - “Cold War” (Official Music Video) - YouTube
That was a little over a year ago, back when Karpeh was still working real estate and then advertising, straddling the doldrums of a nine-to-five while obsessively tending to his creative passions.
“I just kind of always felt like ‘Damn, I gotta do something else at some point. Like there’s no way I’ll be able to just do real estate for ten, twenty, thirty years.’ It was just like—I was trying to get a job that would get me pay basically so I could do what I wanted,” Karpeh says, a heavy tiredness in his voice as if the memory alone is as taxing as when he lived it.
On his recently released EP Blood Type he sings about cold calls and taking the “safe route,” spitting with a bit of bite: “3 credit cards, 2 jobs / And no health care / Fuck what they say / They living in fear / Expectations set high / The move was clear.“
Clear enough that Karpeh quit his day job after two years and devoted all his energies into his debut as Cautious Clay, releasing his first song “Cold War” and following-up the hype with Blood Type in spring 2018. From hoofing it door-to-door salesman style, to finding himself at SoHo House for Khalid’s Grammy party, a surreality has layered itself over his life ever since he started making music full-time. And yet, Karpeh manages to still hold onto a pragmatic and sobering sense of his goals as an artist—and his own self—amidst it all.
And that’s because much of what’s going on inside Karpeh—or for that matter, the Brooklyn apartment where he used to piece together his music after work—and still does—hasn’t changed. He’s been doing this for years. But externally? Karpeh is touring alongside Alina Baraz, he’s playing the Tiny Desk, recording with John Mayer—over the phone he pauses often, trying to find the right words to explicate his recent experiences under the limelight. He doesn’t find many. But while the present is still a bit of an enigma to Karpeh, he has no trouble detailing the roads and reasons that have led him here. And the person he likes to hone in on is his mom: a woman who supported every pursuit, whether it was an ingrained passion or fleeting interest. She’s the one he went to when—after becoming so enamored with the flute melody of a song he’d heard—he voiced his desire to learn how to play the instrument. From sports to sailing, Karpeh was given the freedom to do whatever he desired.
“I grew up doing a lot of different things not just music and I think that like that openness gave me this unbothered perspective about whatever other people were doing at the end of the day. Like I always knew people were doing stuff but then I like I could always just do my own thing and that never really—it’s not like it didn’t pay off—but it never really did anything or really attribute it to being different until obviously very recently.”
Unbothered and unbound. Karpeh’s years of kindling that kind of self-confidence are apparent not only in the way he talks about his music but in the textures of his soundscapes and vocals themselves. His chosen moniker Cautious Clay is itself tailored to fit his creative process, describing it as “super thoughtful and particular” but also “very raw” in terms of the emotions and sounds he tries to create. His EP Blood Type is nothing short of an ambitious attempt to translate his personal experiences with love and identity into something cuttingly sonic.
“It feels manicured but also kind of like unabashedly myself. And it’s not like trying to get into a certain particular vibe to like fit a framework of like a trend or an identity anything else but myself. I feel like I can do whatever I want in that realm.”
And in that realm, Karpeh is a writer, singer, and producer of all his own stunts. A veritable triple-threat. One of the final pieces to be added to his repertoire was his vocals—that warm, sonorous wail or stream-of-conscious murmuring that is as much a part of the instrumentation of his songs as it is a deliverer of his poetic lyricism. His first “stab” at it was on a Toro Y Moi remix of “So Many Details,” and the culmination of that practice ended up on “Cold War.” In terms of writing and producing, Karpeh has done as much for others as he has for Cautious Clay; and when it comes to his own projects, he has a penchant for an unfiltered, open-the-faucet-and-let-it-run style of songwriting.
“It’s all kind of very much related from a creative standpoint. A lot of what I try to accomplish is just an open perspective on creativity and I—that’s really what has made me so versatile as an artist because I don’t really ever limit myself based on what the expectations might be. I try to be fearless and not like ‘Oh that’s too country, that’s too folk.’ Or whatever. And if I feel a certain way about it after the fact then I’ll be like ‘Okay maybe I’ll adapt that.”
Which makes sense coming from an artist who—in the course of a single show—might be holding a flute, saxophone, or guitar at any one time. Blood Type is chock-full of little moments elongated into big favorites by the sheer breadth of their instrumentation. That blistering saxophone-howl that cuts through the cascade of Karpeh’s layered cries at the end of “Joshua Tree”; moody acoustic strums drifting just out-of-sight on “Stolen Moments”; a groovy thrumming of percussion and sax-work that frames the gospel-like cries on “Cold War”; Cautious Clay wields a mind-bogglingly precise intention in emotion through his sound.
“It’s just been trial and error. I think it was just really my obsession with creating that has gotten me to be here. I just love to do it, it’s like a puzzle every time. I’ve just always looked at music mostly as a tool and then like the tool to create something new. And I mean I enjoy listening to it as well—like I’m so particular about what I look too and what I like it for and that’s the fun part and so I think my brain has just always been geared toward just like being a creator. Even since—as a kid I just always like—I would like look—I’d hear something and I’d be like, ‘Oh man like it’d be so cool if they did that.’ You know, I’d be thinking that even if I didn’t know how to do it. It always in my brain.”
There’s a bit of an auteur peeking out from behind Cautious Clay—its creator a man obsessed with the inner-workings, structure, and functions of the music he creates. Karpeh might’ve despised the classical training that came with learning how to play the flute but some analytical and pragmatic sense seems to have stuck with him nevertheless. Another EP on the way, on the cusp of a North American tour, an appearance at the 2019 Governors Ball music festival in New York—and he’s into creating videos now too—Karpeh is a man in constant creative motion, grabbing at any and all tools he can use to keep the engine going.
Unbothered and unbound, Karpeh has moved on from the introspections of personal relationships he engaged with on his last EP and is not onto exploring the reasons and motivations behind the choices people make. His new single “Reasons” takes on a more concussive mixture of heady-electrics and sampling—and while it was a collaboration on the song’s production with Daytrip and Hudson Mohawke—Karpeh remains active in all aspects of Cautious Clay down to the graphics and design of the single’s cover art. He’s also not signed to any record label yet but not for lack of offerings, Karpeh just isn’t in a rush. As he sings on “Reasons” against a blaring of trumpets and euphonious croons: “I’m going solo / An’ I’m moving slowly / All I care is how I feel / Can’t wait to be honest in what’s real.”
And that honesty is his guiding light. No matter how surreal or strange or even scary his newfound semi-fame might be, it doesn’t come close to the alienation he felt when was working that nine-to-five—a place he always felt like a stranger surrounded by strangers. Cautious Clay, and by extension Joseph Karpeh, is now in his element—and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can drag him out of it.
Catch Cautious Clay Live In Los Angeles
Cautious Clay will be going on tour this spring with two sold-out shows; at The Troubadour in Los Angeles on January 23 and the Constellation Room in Santa Ana on January 25.
Visit Cautious Clay’s website and Facebook to stay updated on future releases and tour announcements.
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Breakups can be rough. Breaking up with someone and then having to sit a few feet from them in a passenger van for hours on end may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. Thankfully, Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann were able to push past that. The end of their decade-long romance resulted in Wild Moccasins’ most personal and sincere work yet, last year’s Look Together (New West Records.)
Wild Moccasins are headed to Los Angeles on Friday, Jan. 25 with a FREE show at Resident in DTLA is FREE! Supporting Wild Mocassins at Resdient are DEGA. RSVP to claim your spot on the dancefloor.
Produced by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Ben H. Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Bombay Bicycle Club, Deerhunter), Look Together is the perfect mix of new wave and indie pop. A departure from the band’s earlier work, it’s clear that the album was inspired by artists like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Kate Bush, and Prince. Gutierrez’s vocal range is reminiscent of those you would hear on power ballads of the 80’s. Genuine, raw lyrics spill out of her mouth like a glitter bomb of emotions. Pair that with funky bass lines, swirling guitars, and lush synths, and it’s hard not to picture one of their songs being tapped for a John Hughes soundtrack. Look Together reminds you that it’s okay to dance your tears away.
The band will be touring for the first half of this year, and will be releasing a full remix of Look Together featuring a wide array of artists including De Lux, The Juan MacLean, and Treasure Fingers (April 26).
Wild Moccasins are a Houston-based band comprised of co-founders Zahira Gutierrez (vocals/keyboard) and Cody Swann (guitar/vocals), and current members Avery Davis (drums) and Nicholas Cody (bass).
Pokey LaFarge is back in Los Angeles with a special performance scheduled for April 25 at Pico Union Project. The throwback rock ‘n’ roll artist is always an incredible time live. His unique gospel-pop sound is absolutely iresistible and will have you dancing and smiling from ear-to-ear.
LaFarge’s latest album, Manic Revelations was released in 2017 via Rounder Records. Cutting his first record in 2006, the St. Louis-based musician has eight albums to his name. We’re hoping to hear some new tracks at this L.A. gig!
Tickets to Pokey LaFarge at Pico Union Project on April 25 are priced at $25 Advance / $32 Day of Show. This event is 21-and-over. Tickets to Pokey LaFarge at Pico Union Project go on sale this Friday, Jan. 18 at 10AM.
Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their gorgeous album Hospice, the Antlers have announced a special Los Angeles acoustic show at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever. I dunno about you, but this was one my most favorite indie albums. I used to play the “Sylvia” over and over again, blurting out the chorus “Sylvia, get your head out of the oven / Go back to screaming and cursing …” Just like much of the Antlers’ music, that song was so explosively emotive, it really touched you where it hurts.
The Antlers will release a vinyl reissue of their seminal album Hospice on March 8 via Frenchkiss Records / Transgressive. In addition to the Antlers’ Los Angeles performance at the Masonic Lodge, the Antlers will play a handful of intimate shows in the US and Europe. Additional tour dates include San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and more.
Tickets to the Antlers at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever are priced at $30. Tickets go on sale this Friday, January 13 at 10am.
Antlers’ Peter Silberman states: We’re reissuing Hospice on March 8th, 2019, in honor of its tenth anniversary. It will be newly pressed on double white vinyl, with deluxe artwork and packaging courtesy of the album’s original artist, Zan Goodman.
We’ll be playing a limited number of small acoustic shows to celebrate, too. But it will be a bit different this time as the core band now consists of myself and drummer Michael Lerner — longtime multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci is no longer with the band.
Though we’ve pared down for the time being, these shows will feature some old friends and guests, and together we’ll perform Hospice in its entirety.
I hope you’ll join us for these special evenings. I’m truly looking forward to revisiting these old songs in a new light and seeing your friendly faces again. Your patience and support means so much.
The Antlers - Sylvia - YouTube
The Antlers Tour Dates
US Tour dates:
March 17 / Seattle, WA / Fremont Abbey Arts Center
March 20 / Portland, OR / The Old Church
March 22 / San Francisco / Great American Music Hall
March 23 / Los Angeles, CA / Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
March 26 / Boston, MA / The Sinclair
March 27 / Philadelphia, PA / World Café Live
March 28 / Washington DC / Miracle Theatre
March 30 / Brooklyn, NY / First Unitarian Congregational Society
March 31 / Brooklyn, NY / First Unitarian Congregational Society
UK / European Tour Dates:
April 19 / Leeds, UK / Belgrave Music Hall
April 20 / Manchester, UK / The Dancehouse Theatre
April 21 / Glasgow, UK / St Luke’s
April 23 / London, UK / Union Chapel
April 25 / Leuven, BE / Het Depot
April 26 / Amsterdam, NL / Vondelkerk
April 28 / Copenhagen, DK / Hotel Cecil
April 30 / Dublin, IE / The Sugar Club
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Virulently-glazed synths and a bubbly disco thrill abound on Broods‘ new single “Hospitalized,” the latest single from their upcoming third album Don’t Feed The Pop Monster. Like previous singles “Everything Goes (Wow)” and “Peach,” sibling Georgia and Caleb Knott’s latest entry is a sun-burnt extravaganza of synthesizer-laden glitter work. There’s a lot to love on “Hospitalized,” from the propelling tempo-changes that launch you into Caleb’s shimmering production to Georgia’s iridescent cries and low murmurs that just scream early 90’s pop. At its center is a maniacal but very human obsession with self-indulgent pain and self-pity, all dressed up as a blisteringly groovy dance-track. And all the while this bubbling anxiousness that seems to erupt into that danceable flurry of maddeningly catchy hooks and the thrum of a particularly groovy bass-line. It’s as if HAIM got caught singing over some Foster the People tracks and we are absolutely here for it. At this point, it would be near impossible to not be waiting for the band’s upcoming album with a mix of frustrated enthusiasm.
“In Nicaragua, we were all talking about who had broken a bone, and I was saying how I’d never broken anything but kind of wanted to, just to see how it feels,” Georgia said of the track. “That turned into this idea of wanting to get hurt so you can have something to blame your self-pity on. Like, ‘I’m sad—but I’ve got a reason, I promise!’”
Rejoice! Bikini Kill has reunited for select Los Angeles and New York shows this spring! The iconic feminist-punk group Bikini Kill has a Los Angeles concert date scheduled for April 25 at the Hollywood Palladium. Known for their raucous, politically confrontational live shows, Bikini Kill will be performing with three original members: Kathleen Hanna on vocals, Tobi Vail on drums, and Kathi Wilcox on bass. Replacing original Bikini Kill guitarist (Billy Karren) will be Erica Dawn Lyle. In addition to playing a mean guitar, Lyle is a writer and curator who lives in New York City.
Known for being at the forefront of the Riot Grrrl movement in the early ’90s, right now couldn’t be a more perfect time for Bikini Kill to regroup with some reunion shows. These badass women were all about feminism before it became a trend, before it became a corporate marketing tool. You wanna see some real shit, go catch Bikini Kill live in Los Angeles and New York.
In addition to Bikini Kill’s Los Angeles show at Hollywood Palladium, the band also has New York gigs on May 31 at Brooklyn Steel and Terminal 5 on June 1.
Tickets to Bikini Kill at the Hollywood Palladium on April 25 go on sale this Friday, Jan. 18 at 10AM! While your waiting for Bikini Kill’s reunion show, you can stream their entire discography via Spotify. It just got added!
Following the sonic boom that was their debut self-titled LP, Flat Worms are planning on hammering through your living room walls with their latest EP Into The Iris via via Drag City imprint, GOD? Records. Yesterday, Flat Worms share their hyperbolic single “Shouting at the Wall”. Listen to it below.
Comprised of Will Ivy, Tim Hellman, and Justin Sullivan, the L.A. local punk outfit is known for their feedback-induced mosh pits and driving bass lines that gnaw at the ear. During their live shows, they have a gigantic, not to mention intoxicating, energy about them that seems to pull even the shyest audience members from the corners of the room. Reminiscent of Wipers, early Spacemen 3, and a little Wire, Flat Worms’ sonic vigor is familiar, yet alien and enticing.
Stream Flat Worms’ “Shouting At The Wall”
Flat Worms "Shouting at the Wall" (Official Song Video) - YouTube
Be sure to pre-order your copy of Flat Worms new EP! The band will be playing at Zebulon on February 8th for their record release show. Supporting Flat Worms at Zebulon are Automatic and Kaz Mirblouk. $12 for tickets. The doors open at 8pm. 21+. Buy your tickets here!
To keep up with their latest news and shows, follow them on Instagram.
Warbly Jets kicked off their latest tour at The Echo Friday night. We’ve been watching the guys for a while and are always impressed by their growth. Grimy Goods interviewed Warbly Jets in 2016, and then we featured them in 2017 in our annual forecast for LA Artists to Watch. Last year, the band made some major strides, opening for the likes of Liam Gallagher and The Dandy Warhols. You might have also heard one of their latest singles “Alive” featured in the opening of Marvel’s Spider-man for PS4. Warbly Jets are kicking off 2019 with a new self recorded EP called Propaganda which is inspired by our overly social media-influenced lives.
Friday’s show was slightly lower key than usual with poor-fella front man/guitarist Samuel Shea pretty darn sick. This is the second time I have seen him perform sick and both times he powered through and only people who have seen them before would recognize his usual swagger was a bit muted. Warbly Jets sounded great as always with multi instrumentalists Julien O’Neill (guitar/keys) and Dan Gerbang (Bass/synth) being joined by a fresh new handsome face Saamuel Richard on drums. My only complaint was their photographer’s constantly distracting presence crawling all over the stage during their set, just too noticeable for a small stage like The Echo.
Warbly Jets at The Echo — Photo: ZB Images
Collapsing Scenery who was the opener did not bother with The Echo’s stage and instead set up shop with their own background and projected light show on the Echo’s floor stage left. A creative set up that unfortunately made it difficult to see from the back of the room. Collapsing Scenery called to mind early Nine Inch Nails which pairs nicely with Warbly Jets 90’s alternative Brit sound.
Definitely check out Warbly Jets new music and live shows if you get a chance they have been one of the best bands coming out of LA for a few years running now.
By ZB Images
Collaspsing Scenery at The Echo — Photo: ZB Images
Shoegaze meets psychedelic on Feels’ new single; it is a catchy hybrid of a song, reminiscent of both Blondie and The Kinks. With a title like “Awful Need,” it is surprisingly aloof, following the band’s previous grunge release, “Car.” Both new singles will appear on the local quartet’s forthcoming album, Post Earth, due out on February 22. Grab tickets to their record release show at the Echo on February 19 here.
When I found out Shannon Lay was part of this band, I knew instantly that it was an act worth paying attention to. Lay is one of the city’s best folk songwriters, but with Feels, the style veers further into noise. She is accompanied in the group by Amy Allen (bass), Laena Geronimo (guitar/vocals), and Michael Perry Rudes (drums), who had all known each other since high school.
Post Earth could be considered a protest record, something that even surprises the band. “It wasn’t intentional to write a politically charged record,” says Allen. “But the way the world is functioning right now made it impossible to write about anything else. We all need to figure it out; we’re running out of time. The golden age is over.”
See Feels at the Echo for their record release party on February 19; tickets here. Pre-order Post Earthhere. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
FEELS - Awful Need (Official Video) - YouTube
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This one goes out to all the androids out there. Long Beach native Anthony Pedroza began alt-rock four-piece Fellow Robot with a plan—namely, their trilogy of concept albums called The Robot’s Guide to Music. The first volume came out last summer and the second is due in April. The new edition will include the new single “Don’t Deny Me,” which you can hear below.
The three records are meant to teach the first wave of sentient, sensitive robots what human music was like. Give the concept a moment of thought and consider what kind of music you would include; compare that to what might be representative of human sounds from across the globe. Fellow Robot document their own perspective for the project. Their brand of folk rock is supplemented with noisy solos and outros, where space left in the instrumentation is used to weave in the band’s own folklore.
If “Don’t Deny Me” is any indication, the next record will document disappointment. The single glints with melancholy typically found in songs of heartbreak, but the message is as ambiguous as the listener would like to make it. On one hand, it takes courage to “tear it all apart,” and the gesture should be applauded even if the future is shaky. On the other hand, reverting back to life before technology is rightly terrifying and shows the grip that an invisible fist of connectivity has over most of humanity. Pedroza describes what the track means to him below.
“It really bugs me that some people think they know who I am based on what I may or may not post on social media. ‘Don’t Deny Me’ examines the inhuman desire to be loved or liked through our devices and shows how these black mirrors really keep us apart. When the satellites are destroyed and you have no way of pinging your friends, what on Earth are you going to do?”