Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Unit Breed Previewed by Denver Decider/AV Club


The Unit Breed is perpetually on tour. Yet, despite a decade’s worth of road time clocked, the Portland-based act has remained steadfastly DIY: It still books all its own shows and has self-recorded all six of its full-length albums. Its list of ex-members is long, and the only constant has been vocalist-guitarist Joseph Demaree. He’s also an incredible Dali-inspired visual artist, and his artwork clearly influences the band’s music. Its latest, 2009’s Always Distance The Lonely, is full of surreal ’60s psych heavy on fantasy and echoed vocals, which complement the band’s live projections well. The CD/LP also comes with an accompanying booklet of Demaree’s newest paintings.

The Unit Breed Interview with Las Cruces Sun-News

Tunes: From music to art to air guitar, The Unit Breed has many forms of expression

By Carlos Lopez/For Pulse

Music and art will collide Sunday, when the Portland, Ore.,-based band The Unit Breed makes a stop at El Patio in Mesilla to promote its new album, "Always Distance The Lonely."

Known for progressive, psychedelic punk music, The Unit Breed has been entertaining crowds on both coasts and everywhere in between since 1998, with

Joseph Demaree, center, is the one constant in The Unit Breed. The band's show incorporates projection art, which fans can see Sunday at El Patio. (Courtesy photo)
original music and art.

Founder Joseph Demaree is the band's constant. More than 30 members have played parts in the band in the past 10 years, most of whom Demaree said were friends from other Portland bands.

The current lineup includes Demaree, lead singer and guitar, David Wolf, drummer and Casey Costello, bass.

"This is the most solid lineup we've had," Demaree said in a telephone interview with Pulse. "It feels a lot better, and there are no personality conflicts."

The Unit Breed has released six-full length albums, all self-produced, along with original music videos and paintings. The band's latest album, "Always Distant The Lonely," is the culmination of several months works.

"Compared to our previous records, this album

is more vocally powerful than our other efforts," Demaree said. "I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, all the songs are great."

Also included in the album is a book of art by Demaree, who attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Citing similarities between music and art, Demaree says he always felt the two were one and the same.

"Art, like music, is storytelling and putting on a show," Demaree said. "Painting and drawing require the same fundamental melody as music."

In terms of performance, The Unit Breed sets itself apart from other bands by integrating projection shows into music sets, making the experience more visual. With footage shot by the band, video collages take concert-goers on visual ride that bring the music to life, Demaree said.

Demaree said he is excited about the growing music and art scene in the Mesilla Valley, where the band band has played four times before.

"Las Cruces is one of our favorite places to play. We love Las Cruces, and its Mordor-esque landscape," Demaree said of the Organ Mountains, comparing them to Mordor, J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional, imposing realm in "The Lord of the Rings."

Aside from producing music and art, Demaree, Wolf and Costello are also known for their profound air guitar abilities. The band recently competed in the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., where they placed individually.

"It's a bizarre experience, pretending to play guitar for minute. That minute feels like 15 minutes," Demaree said of his experience competing in front of 1,200 people.

After the band's tour wraps up in July, Demaree said members will be taking a three- to four-month break, and then will resume songwriting and recording in February.

Carlos Lopez is an intern for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at or (575) 541-5453.

If you go

Who: The Unit Breed

When: 8 p.m., Sunday

Where: El Patio, 2171 Calle De Parian

Friday, June 19, 2009

Black Skies in Daily Iowan

In silver van, rock band Black Skies rolls toward Iowa City

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | JUNE 19, 2009 7:21 AM

Day one of North Carolina band Black Skies’ 18-show national tour launched with a scenic drive in Pittsburgh — kicking off the group’s largest musical expedition in its nearly four-year history.

“We’re in a silver machine,” Clark said. “It’s a 2008 Ford Econoline van with just enough room. Right now, we’re at this huge gorge in Appalachia, and it’s gorgeous.”

Black Skies will arrive in Iowa City to play its brand of self-proclaimed doom/stoner rock with Russian Circles and Coliseum today at 9 p.m. at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. Admission is $10.

Black Skies’ vocalist/guitarist Kevin Clark, bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple, and drummer Cameron Weeks are touring in support of the band’s latest six-song EP, Hexagon, which was recently re-released on vinyl after its initial d├ębut in 2008. On the album, Black Skies said it plays rock tunes in the vein of Black Sabbath and the Melvins. The tracks are filled with low-end guitar and heavily distorted vocals.

“We just put a lot of energy into it,” Clark said. “For three people it’s been said we make quite a bit of sound. The sheer sonic pummeling can be therapeutic, I guess.”

While Clark enjoys spending time on the road, he is the first to admit that it has its downside.

Traveling long distances can be taxing on the body and mind, he said.

“We get to see things, and that’s cool, but we really spend most of our time in a van in front of a venue,” Clark said. “So we don’t get to see a whole lot of towns too much, and there aren’t a lot of days off.”

The Black Skies’ members typically spend numerous hours each day on tour traveling in a cramped van. Usually, they are able to find a place to crash overnight at the towns they play in, but occasionally they make enough cash to afford the comfort of a hotel room. Sometimes, the places they stay aren’t quite so luxurious.

“Last year, we played this crazy show in Oshkosh, Wis.,” Clark said. “We were pretty torn up, and this guy decided to put us up for the night, but he neglected to tell us he ran a reptile rescue. Everything you opened in there, it was like some kind of snake or lizard.”

Reptiles were not the only strange thing to lurk in the shadows of the household. In fact, they were the least of the band’s worries.

“The owner talked about there being some kind of ghost in the house, and we didn’t believe it,” Clark said. “Sure enough, [Cameron] fell asleep with a box of cookies in his hand, and when he woke up, it was gone and a bunch of stuff was moved around the house. It was some old woman ghost that steals cookies apparently.”

Hopefully, Black Skies won’t find any ghosts in Iowa City, but the members do plan on performing loud rock for whoever is willing to listen.

“It’s always good to get out there and play in front of people,” Clark said. “We had a wonderful time the last time we were in Iowa City, and that’s a huge reason we’re coming back. As long as that continues to happen, we will continue to play there.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Black Skies in Pittsburgh City Weekly

Tuesday, June 16 -- Rock

Black Skies hails from the South of tube amps and stoner metal (see Kylesa, Facedowninshit). The Chapel Hill trio brings the apocalyptic riffage in a most voluminous manner, fuzzed-out guitar and bass complemented by gruff vocals that suggest the band is more for true metalheads and Fu Manchu partisans than for the Dead Meadow set. Fresh off the release of its very, er, geometrically named EP Hexagon, the band drops by the Smiling Moose tonight for a show with local stoner dudes Channel Scorpion News. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or

Black Skies in SLC Weekly

Monday 6.22

Black Skies aren’t reinventing the wheel but damn if they don’t do a fine job of dragging it through the blessed swamp of heavy, heavy rock. The North Carolina trio pays homage to early Sabbath with dense metal riffs that proceed like a snail on Quaaludes. Their latest release, the EP/limited-run 12-inch Hexagon, achieves a distinct sound thanks largely to Kevin Clark’s distorted monster vocals that crack and splatter across his bandmates’ churning rhythm section. It’s good, dark, ribcage-rattling music for zoning out and, perhaps, anger management therapy. Burts Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, 9 p.m.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black Skies in Cleveland Scene (C-Notes)

Money Where Your Mouth Is: Black Skies

Posted by Michael Gallucci on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 10:30 AM

This is where C-Notes lets a band explain why you need to see them live, even if it means going out on Wednesday.
Today’s band is Black Skies, ‘cuz we’re all about the sludge. Plus, Forged in Flame is opening, and they could use your support.

Band: Black Skies

Website/Myspace: and

Chapel Hill, NC

Sounds Like: “Black Sabbath covering the Melvins covering Black Flag.”

Fun Fact: “You will still look stunning, even after we've melted your face off with the sheer power of our sonic assault ... unless, of course, you were an ugly S.O.B. to begin with.”

Wednesday at the Spitfire Saloon with Forged in Flame

Why You Need to See Them:
“This'll be our third time in Cleveland, and the third time's a charm, right?” —Kevin Clark. guitar and vocals

Black Skies in Cleveland Scene

6/17: Black Skies at Spitfire Saloon

It’s easy to just dial in some floor-rumbling distortion, turn the bass up loud enough to make your ribs thump and shout like you’re an extra from Braveheart. But that doesn’t mean people will listen to your music. Luckily, in the case of Chapel Hill’s Black Skies, there are enough chunky riffs and precise breakdowns to back up the sludgy aesthetic. Crashing into your eardrums like the Melvins minus any sort of experimental nonsense, Black Skies have kept things raw and messy since 2005. Their latest album, Hexagon, hits on everything from High on Fire guitar-blazing (“Mancipium Monument”) to rock-steady Sabbath stomps (“2105”). Whether you’re looking to do some serious headbanging or just want to hear a rock band that’s ditched pretension in favor of actual, well, rocking, Black Skies delivers. Forged in Flame open at 9 pm at the Spitfire Saloon (1539 W. 117th St., 216.226.7748). It’s free. — Matt Whelihan

Black Skies tour starts today!

Chapel Hill-ites BLACK SKIES leave on tour today and are hitting up these places......they will pummel your ears (ya know, in a nice way).

Feast your ears here:

Tuesday, June 16th - Pittsburgh, PA @ The Smiling Moose w/ Channel Scorpion News, Don Caballero, Stone Cold Killer
Wednesday, June 17th - Cleveland, OH @ The Spitfire Saloon w/ Forged In Flame
Thursday, June 18th - Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge w/ Imperial Battlesnake, Bullwhip Solution
Friday, June 19th - Iowa City, IA @ The Picador w/ Russian Circles, Coliseum
Saturday, June 20th - Omaha, NE @ O'Leaver's Pub w/ Bloodcow
Sunday, June 21st - Denver, CO @ 3 Kings Tavern w/ Mobile Deathcamp, Workhorse
Monday, June 22nd - Salt Lake City, UT @ Burt's Tiki Lounge w/ Old Timer, The Water’s Deep Here
Wednesday, June 24th - Seattle, WA @ Funhouse w/ Sod Hauler, Dark Skies
Thursday, June 25th - Portland, OR @ East End w/ Danava, Dark Skies, Dudelord
Friday, June 26th - Chico, CA @ Cafe Coda w/ Abominable Iron Sloth
Saturday, June 27th - San Francisco, CA @ Annie's Social Club w/ Totimoshi
Sunday, June 28th - San Luis Obispo, CA @ The Z Club *CANCELLED*
Tuesday, June 30th - San Diego, CA @ The Radio Room
Wednesday, July 1st - Tempe, AZ @ The Slurp w/ Drone Throne
Friday, July 3rd - Austin, TX @ Headhunter's
Saturday, July 4th - Chattanooga, TN @ JJ's Bohemia

Thursday, June 4, 2009



New podcast: Tons of tunes you're sure to adore
Buzz up!Like this story? Share it with Yahoo! Buzz
I'm hoping this week's podcast will help your day fly by much faster -- and some of the songs are so good that you may wanna hear them more than once.

Highlights include a track from Jason Lytle that I haven't been able to get out of my head. (He's been touring with Neko Case.) I also play a delightful poppy song from The Young Fresh Fellows and another get-out-of-your-chair number by singer-songwriter Reed KD.

Reed just posted this puppet-filled video for the single Cactus Garden. Check it out:

Also, you'll hear an upbeat track from Minneapolis rockers Pictures of Then, followed by talented singer-songwriter Luke Top. I know I've mentioned experimental punk band The Curious Mystery before, so I'm psyched to play them now.

Finally, I send you off with a lullaby from Coralie Clement, a French singer you should put on your radar.

Listen now, you'll thank me later:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

.....CULTURE NOW review of Azul.....

Artist: Mike Pardew
Genre: Jazz
Released: 2009
Available at:
uitarist Mike Pardew, drummer Micah Kassell, and bassist Damian Erskine are the force behind the living, breathing fusion composition that is Azul. This is no holds barred electric jazz that borders on heavy metal at times - a combination that only a young and fearless trio can pull off.
posted by Alex Wernquest - 20|May|2009

Mike Pardew review by Delusions of Adequacy

Mike Pardew - Azul
June 2, 2009 by Adam Costa
Category: Albums (and EPs)

As is also the case these days with classical music, jazz is trying to find relevancy in a culture that has largely dismissed it as an antiquated genre. Often sadly stereotyped as the music of your parents’ (or more frequently, your grandparents’) generation, “America’s music” continues to be the focus for a niche group of enthusiasts who have the formal background to appreciate the genius of Charlie Parker’s hard bop and theoretical jargon like tritone substitutions, polyrhythms, and minor 7th flat 5 chords. Thankfully, none of the above is a prerequisite for enjoying the jazz fusion of Mike Pardew.

A Portland, Oregon guitarist who admits to being just as influenced by John Scofield as he is Jimi Hendrix, Pardew can hopscotch between latin, jazz, and rock styles with a versatility that is as bold as it is inspired. Yet, this is a far cry from the Weather Report albums your dad was listening to back in the late 70’s; the jaw dropping technical skill remains (as does the family name of Erskine), but WR’s cerebral song structures, complex improvisations, and sophisticated instrumentation are all but gone. In their place, we have a core trio (Pardew handles six string duties with Micah Kassell and Damian Erskine providing support on drums and bass, respectively) that takes very seriously the business of finding a comfortable balance between rocking out and geeking out. Such is the overarching theme of Azul, Pardew’s latest album of genre-mashing virtuosity.

The album’s opening cuts are, for the most part, understated in their intent. “Shades” is an easygoing introduction; Pardew alternates between thinly layered chord structures and clarion solo passages that are sublime in their execution. Pardew’s jazz textures are juxtaposed most notably by drummer Micah Kassell, whose shifting time signatures and gargantuan tone recall a style more likely to pop up on the next Tool record. Though Pardew is meant to be the focal point of the song, Damian Erskine’s bass playing nearly steals the show. With tone as smooth as Jaco Pastorius’ and yet as punchy as Victor Wooten’s, Erskine’s prowess on the low end (a 6 string bass, no less) is just as worthy of note as anything Pardew can pull off.

Next up is the album’s title track, a mysterious and ethereal affair in which Erskine’s fluid chord arpeggiations provide a solid backdrop for Pardew to lay down some dense harmonies and silky solo riffs. Despite a noisy and dissonant introduction, “Welcome Home” turns into something worthy of its namesake, with Pardew and Erskine creating an inviting yet tangled web of contrapuntal melodies.

As the album progresses, Pardew’s rock tendencies are let out of the bag. “Road Worn” features a melody in 7/4 (Pink Floyd, anyone?) that is played simultaneously by the guitar and bass as the drums receive a pummeling from Kassell. “Velonis,” an instantly infectious song in 12/8 time, should appeal to rock and jazz fans alike with its distorted shredding and vaguely Middle Eastern melodies. “Stairwell” pits a groove in 7/8 against a drumbeat that unsuspectingly drops into 4/4 time. The aggressive and overlapping rhythms that result from this are a perfect fit for Pardew’s handiwork on the fretboard, which pays homage to the styles of both David Gilmour and Carlos Santana.

Only on tracks when instruments get swapped around the table do the proceedings begin to evoke a sense of trite self-indulgence: “U.S. Route 93” and “Flathead Lake” are instances of metal wankery that thankfully pass by in under a minute a piece. But with only these small missteps to speak of, Azul will hopefully be regarded as a trailblazing example of what is possible for the fusion of jazz and rock in the 21st century.