Nashville Dreams / Sings The Blues
***"Dick Stusso isn't his real name—he's 29-year-old Oakland singer-songwriter Nic Russo. And on his debut album Nashville Dreams (co-released with another collection called Sings the Blues), he performs as a struggling country/glam singer with a singular goal: to leave the big city, head to Tennessee, and try to make it. 'The Ballad of Dicky Stuss' is the album's emotional climax, telegraphing the stark contrast between the ease and optimism of his childhood and the harsh realities of the present. It's a familiar story: Dicky's parents set him up for success, but instead of pursuing a traditional career, he chose the life of an artist. He walks the streets in his cowboy boots, schizophrenic and presumably beaten down by the road. With a simple piano ballad and some doubled-tracked vocals, he cuts to the heart of things—that everything would've been just fine if he hadn't picked up a guitar and decided to hit the road. That's the risk when you stray from the path of financial security—you might be walking toward happiness or creative satisfaction, but you're way more likely to fall on your face. Life might be difficult for "poor little Dicky Stuss," but thank god Nic Russo pursued his own rock'n'roll dreams enough to deliver this album. The guy's voice is beautiful, he's got an effortless way with writing melodies, and his sentiments are knowable and familiar."—Pitchfork
***“'Undertaker Bee' opens like a punchy bout of disjunct synth-punk, with sharp pivots into negative space, but it quickly contorts into a mangled mess of seething noise-rock. The midsection is gripping—blitzkrieg snare rattles through a swelling Moog, as rude chords intersect needling feedback. It’s a glorious pileup, and it exemplifies the mightily combustible feel that animates Bay Area trio Beekeepers’ forthcoming debut LP, Varroa Mites. It also illustrates the thematic fixation of a group whose live getups involve veiled masks and off-white jumpsuits. The song title refers to the bee that drags the bee corpses out of the beehive (a gesture that guitarist KYLE DAY mimicked with his amplifier in the studio), and the album title refers to a parasite that thrives on bee blood (and is also known, rather dramatically, as “varroa destructor”). Clearly, Beekeepers are attuned to the teeming scree and mortal peril of hive society."—Pitchfork
***The latest from Oakland, California's MALL WALK. Psychedelic, post-punk songs for fans of Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, Wire and PiL. Upcoming full-length on Mt. St. Mtn.