Category Archives: DIY

You really, really need to hear The Bots’ new single, “All I Really Want.”


The Bots’ “Pink Palms” due Oct. 14

The Bots this week released the single “All I Really Want,” for their upcoming full-length album “Pink Palms,” due Oct. 14 on the FADER label.

The song is a mix of Arctic Monkeys and a bit of Franz Ferdinand, with a dash of Skaters, set to a youthful punk beat. Spoken word tangles with tight harmonies on the song but still maintains a proper clash of explosive guitar and disciplined drumming.

The Bots, LA brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei, have caused a permanent stir around garage-punk circles. Mikaiah handles lead vocals, guitar and bass, while Anaiah conquers percussion and backing vocals. “Pink Palms” was helped along in production by Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs — which also could hint at the album’s sound.

Mikaiah Lei offers some insight: “Thematically, there’s the recurring subject matter of sadness, loneliness, and regret but underneath it all there’s an element of happiness and an overall melancholy vibe to these songs,” he says in a press release.

At first listen, “All I Really Want” sounds more polished than the rough-and-tumble DIY-ness of their earlier work.”Pink Palms” could be a slight detour from their bass-heavy/electric-powerhouse signature sound.

Whatever it sounds like, The Bots is unabashedly talented and “Pink Palms” may be something to admire come fall.

Listen to “All I Really Want” on Soundcloud.

The Bots are brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei (Credit: Rebecca Smeyne)

The Bots are brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei
(Credit: Rebecca Smeyne)

The Bots also have a smattering of U.S. tour dates lined up through the fall:

8/6 – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA

8/10 – Outside Lands – San Francisco, CA

9/6 – Chill on the Hill – Detroit, MI

9/7 – Riotfest – Toronto, Canada

9/13 – Riotfest – Chicago, IL

9/20 – Riotfest – Denver, CO

9/27 – The Shindig Festival – Baltimore, MD

11/9 – Fun Fun Fun Fest – Austin, TX


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Filed under DIY, New Music, News, Punk, Punk-rock

How Death put a needle to the chest of punk


I got the DVD “A Band Called Death” as a gift. My friend knows I’m a punk-hungry girl, always ready to learn more, so he thought this was right up my alley.

I fully admit, when I heard the title of the DVD, my mind sort of was a mix of going blank, then thinking, “oh shit, what did he buy?” followed by, “Who the hell is Death?”

But I was the clueless one. My friend had done his research and told me a little about the band’s history; then I was intrigued.

The band was originally called Rock Fire Funk Express–Dannis Hackney on drums, David Hackney on guitar and Bobby Hackney on bass. The three African-American brothers from Detroit first started making funk music. Then they saw the Beatles and the Who, changed their tune pretty quick and became a protopunk band.

David Hackney was adamant about calling their new reincarnated band Death, “spinning death from the negative to the positive,” according to Bobby. When they went to record several songs in 1975, they had support from Clive Davis, president of Columbia, but when they wouldn’t budge on the name, support fell through.

While the Hackney brothers still had the masters, those original recordings sat in Bobby’s hot, dusty attic, a place where albums should have no earthly business.

By 1977 Death sputtered out, and the members moved to Burlington Vt., about the farthest you can get from any bustling music scene. They switched to gospel rock this time and released two albums. David Hackney died of cancer in 2000. The surviving members are still in the reggae band Lambsbread.

But like any enduring story, it hardly ended there.

According to the movie, Ben Blackwell, writing for the blog Chunklet, wrote about one of Death’s songs, “Politicians In My Eyes,” of which just 500 recordings were made.

Listening to “Politicians In My Eyes,” it’s eye-popping how forward-thinking the song is, with its progressive, almost psychedelic middle section, with its hard-punk vitriol and revolution-blaring lyrics, and the song sat, for decades.

Once the single started to leak, the fire spread and talk about Death rumbled quietly underfoot — after the Clash came and went, after the Sex Pistols burned out, after Bad Brains exploded onto the scene, after countless other punk bands credit those early influences and said they did right by the genre.

Three sons of Bobby Hackney formed the band Rough Francis in 2008, bringing the seven original songs into the bright light of the 21st century. Then Death began to reawaken. In 2009, the songs were released on Drag City Records and titled “For the Whole World to See.” That’s when punk enthusiasts started to open their eyes to this gem of a band.


It seems like it was meant to be that Death should remain quietly asleep for so long. It took decades for the rest of the world to wake up to this definitive protopunk band. If they had found a record label in 1980 that would take its name, it could have died on the table and it wouldn’t have been afforded this neo-revival.

The advent of MTV in the early 1980s and its polished visual element was further proof history was not ready for a band called Death.

Death would probably have been buried under the messy pile of sweaty punk-rockers, and their name was all that did them in. While the Pistols, Ramones, Clash and other punk giants will always claim their spot, the story of Death should remind everyone that punk-music history never really has an end.

It took the work of Rough Francis, record collectors and musicians to stoke the fire and give members of Death the recognition they always deserved. Above it all, David seemed to have the prescience to see far ahead in the future and know it would all work out.

Keeping an open mind to new music should always be a constant to fans, bloggers, recording companies and bands, because the most influential stuff could be where we least expect it.

There must still be more punk fans out there who haven’t heard of Death. Alert to those guys: More head-banging has arrived.

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Filed under DIY, Features, Garage Punk, Hardcore punk, Noise Punk, Protopunk, Punk, Punk-rock, Review

“It was special because we had it:” Le Tigre’s Fateman on the HR-16B


Le Tigre‘s “Deceptacon” is a testament to what can be achieved when conventionality in music is tossed and creativity takes over.

Red Bull Music Academy’s Documentary Series has been producing clips for “beat:repeat NYC.” Episode 6, one of eight, is about LeTigre’s 1999 underground dance-punk hit “Deceptacon” and the drum machine that shapes the song.

In the clip,  Johanna Fateman talks about her Alesis HR-16B that she bought at Rogue in New York City. She said she was discouraged from buying the drum machine and was told it was for hip-hop, but she knew it was what she needed. According to Fateman, the drum machine’s presets allowed the band the freedom to just experiment. Using the HR 16-B spoke directly to Le Tigre’s DIY/Riot Grrrl mentality.

Fateman even shows off the original instruction sheet she used to craft Deceptacon using the hi-hat, snare and other drumbeat options on the HR-16B. Fateman insists things don’t have to be done the way they were in the past; if that’s as far as people get, we won’t get very far.

‘”You don’t have to do it in a professional, expert way. You can do it in your own way,” Fateman says.


The Alesis HR-16B, used in “Deceptacon”

The documentary series coincides with the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York; the series launched May 1 at “beat:repeat” throws a spotlight on the iconic drumbeat sounds that frame so many DIY songs and New York City anthems.

Other artists in the series include Blondie’s Chris Stein, Ninja Tune’s Lee Bannon and Black Moon’s Evil Dee.

Also throughout May, the Red Bull Music Academy is hosting a 101-drum-machine exhibition at Red Bull Studios New York. The items are from beatbox collector Joe Mansfield. The exhibition is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. at Red Bull Studios New York, 218 W. 18th St., NYC.

See the beat:repeat clip here and learn a bit more about what makes this punk classic tick. The video for “Deceptacon” on Youtube clocks in at more than 3 million views. if you haven’t seen it yet, get right over there and take a look. The two dancers, the only people in the video, stay in constant motion and a somewhat symmetry, appearing like early-Devo wannabes. Their quirky dance moves, paired with Kathleen Hanna‘s bad-ass shredded vocals, singing “Everything you feel is alright alright alright alright alright!” makes for a rather hilarious, and perfect, anthem.



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Filed under DIY, Electronic, Experimental, Indie, Punk, VIdeos

Betty Davis, PiL among new cassette releases

So Burger Records and Light In the Attic Records have collaborated to release an impressive collection of limited-release cassettes. Yes, cassettes. Some of these were released when Jimmy Carter was president and people used rotary phones.

But don’t hold that against them.

From May 13 through July 22, one cassette a week will be released. Each tape is hand-numbered and neatly contained in DIY tip-on jackets. You might ask — what is a tip-on jacket? They date to the early days of vinyl’s popularity in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s like a nice hardbound book cover. Pirates Press has a nice explanation.

A few of the offerings:

PiL: First Issue, Limited to 500

The post-punk band PiL had its heyday in the late 70s and early 80s. “First Issue” debuted in 1978. The cover features a rather blank-looking John Lydon in a suit– save for that wild left eye. “First Issue” is a precursor to the classic “Metal Box,” known for its experimental style and post-punk apathy.

The album includes the pivotal song “Public Image” written by John Lydon when he was with the Sex Pistols. According to Wikipedia, First Issue was not released in the U.S., so here’s your chance.

Big Boys: Lullabies Help the Brain Grow, Limited to 500

The Big Boys, originally from Austin, Texas, were a hardcore punk band at the forefront of its style as it evolved during the Me-time of the 80s.. Their album “Lullabies Help the Brain Grow” was released in 1983.


The Big Boys are also credited with helping create the funkcore style, throwing some funk rhythms into their mix. The band had five drummers during its existence, one of whom played regularly with Scratch Acid and Ministry. For indie-film lovers, the Big Boys grabbed a spot in the 2006 Sundance film “American Hardcore.”

Skipping ahead to the 90s, indie-rock artists Built to Spill released “Ultimate Alternative Wavers” in 1993. The band comes straight from the heart of the country (Boise, Idaho) while the cover is taken straight from “Awkward Family Photos.”


Betty Davis: Betty Davis, Limited to 500.

Betty Davis is a funk singer, also known for being Miles Davis’ second wife. Betty Davis also introduced the jazz legend to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone and laid the foundation for Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” and allegedly convinced Miles to not title it “Witches Brew.” Their marriage didn’t last, but Betty Davis appears on the cover of Miles Davis’ “Filles de Kilimanjaro.”

Filles de Kilimanjaro


Her self-titled debut album was released in 1973. Her work never received much commercial success, but the fact that she shaped so much of Miles Davis and jazz fusion it must be mentioned here. Her last album, “Nasty Gal,” was released in 1975 but “Is it Love or Desire?” was recorded in 1976 but released in 2009.

The cassettes can also be available as a subscription series.

Visit Here’s the full list:

MAY 13

Rodriguez – Cold Fact Limited to 1,000

Rodriguez – Coming From Reality – Limited to 1,000

MAY 20

Big Boys – Lullabies Help The Brain Grow – Limited to 500

Big Boys – No Matter How Long The Line At The Cafeteria, There’s Always A Seat – Limited to 500

MAY 27

PiL – First Issue– Limited to 500


Betty Davis – Betty Davis – Limited to 500


The Black Angels – Passover – Limited to 1,500

The Black Angels – Directions To See A Ghost – Limited to 1,500


Jim Sullivan – UFO – Limited to 500


Honey Ltd – The Complete LHI Years  – Limited to 500


Karen Dalton – In My Own Time – Limited to 500


Roky Erickson – Evil One – Limited to 500


The Free Design – Kites Are Fun– Limited to 500


Built To Spill – Ultimate Alternative Wavers– Limited to 500

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UK DIY group Martha is worthy of your attention

The indie-pop band Martha gelled in 2011 in a place called Pity Me — seriously.

Martha- Courting Strong

Looks like this kid, apparently stuck in suburbia, wants to flip you off, no?

Pity Me is a suburban village of Durham, in the North East of England. The Oxford Dictionary of British Names states it’s: “a whimsical name bestowed in the 19th century on a place considered desolate, exposed or difficult to cultivate.” Without touching on its location in England, its so-called misery or its ability to grow tomatoes, the band is giving the tiny town a fresh identity.

Martha’s new album, “Courting Strong,” is loaded with biting punk-rock flavor. In a press release, Martha also credits Scandinavian anarcho noir with helping craft their sound. But while they’ve also been labeled as pop-punk, “Courting Strong” tends to camp out near the indie-DIY style of music.

There’s no one named Martha– just Naomi Griffin on bass and vocals, her brother, Nathan Griffin, on drums and vocals, J. Cairns on guitar and vocals, and Daniel Ellis on guitars and vocals. According to the press release, the moniker appears to be attributed to the name of the last Passenger pigeon.


Martha is a UK foursome; not at all to be pitied.

It’s got quick hits of punk tales and visceral titles like “Gin and Listerine,” “Bubble in my Bloodstream” and “Dust, Juice, Bones & Hair,” which doesn’t sound as grave as you might think. Heavy bass hooks tangle with bright guitar; the drummer lends a solid presence throughout. All four members offer vocals that eagerly intertwine.

The band offers the right mix of youthful exuberance while adding that necessary touch of boredom, of people frantic to just get out and start life. According to Nathan, “the overarching theme of the album is growing up weird.” Isn’t that how most teens feel anyway?

The title “Courting Strong” is from the song “Gin and Listerine” and can sometimes describe the stage where couples start to get really serious.

Their first single is “1997, Passing in the Hallway,” and relinquishes the days of young love swirling among boring subjects at study hall.

“I’ve been so anemic since you broke the double helix in my heart,” sings Naomi, later adding, “I promise that I’m worthy of your attention, after school, there’s a pub across the street…” Its infectious jumpy chorus is a snug fit for small venues packed with sweaty teens.

According to, the band will play at Cake Shop May 29 as part of  NYC Popfest. Visit their website to get a cool download of music from the 2013 Popfest.

When so many bands these days meet up, record, then lose the spark, Martha has a chemistry and cohesiveness that brings the glowing promise of longevity.

“Courting Strong”  is due out May 26 on Fortuna Pop! records. Listen to “1997, Passing in the Hallway.”

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Filed under anarcho noir, DIY, Indie, News, Punk, Punk-rock, Review