THE CORNER LAUGHERS – Temescal Telegraph


THE CORNER LAUGHERS will release their new record Temescal Telegraph on Big Stir Records. The longtime and beloved California indie-pop band, – Karla Kane (vocals, ukulele and most songwriting), Charlie Crabtree (drums), KC Bowman (guitar) and Khoi Huynh (sharing guitar, bass and piano duties) –,  returns to beguile listeners once again with a ten song collection exploring themes from acceptance and loss to climate change, childhood, and the nature of time itself.





The album, their fifth overall and first for BSR, is out June 5 on CD and download.

The Accepted Time is the first single and you can buy it here.



SweetSweetMusicblog spoke to KARLA KANE about the new record.



Recording music. What’s all the fun about?


Some of the fun is about bringing to life something that previously only existed in your mind (or possibly on a page). And some of it is about the chemistry, banter, buffoonery, and magic that especially comes about when getting the full band together to work. Some of the fun is when things turn out exactly how you’d hoped and imagined. Some of it is when things turn out very differently and surprise you.


You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Jeanine Tesori, because I’m a musical theater nerd at heart and wish I could write a Broadway show.





What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?


I’m combining two gigs in one here to say the two times Khoi and I, along with our UK band members Helen and Mark Luker, performed at Martin Newell’s Golden Afternoon in Colchester, England, September of 2012 and 2017. It’s just the ideal gig for me in every way– playing with one of the greatest songwriters ever, in the most beautiful and slightly haunted medieval ex-church setting, on the eve of autumn in an ancient city, and at a civilized, child-friendly afternoon hour with tea and cake! What more could one want?



You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?


No, you definitely cannot control the way people hear it, nor would I want to. I suppose I’ll go with the boring answer of hoping people listen to the lyrics as, understandably, it’s usually the sounds that hook people first. But I do aim for interesting lyrics.


Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?


Well, I suppose in some ways it’s easier, thanks to a myriad of accessible tools, but that doesn’t mean making a *good* record is easier, necessarily. And even though there is a lot of saturation and competition to be heard, thanks to the democratization of making music cheaply/conveniently, technology and the internet also make it much easier to reach people across the world. (So basically my answer is, I have no idea!)

JAMIE 4 PRESIDENT – Consolation Prize (Q&A)



Many international Power Pop bands regularly tour in Spain. However, there are also a lot of nice Spanish bands. Jamie 4 President is my favorite.

SweetSweetMusicblog spoke to Jamie R. Green about Consolation Prize.


How did this record come together?


Basically, I started writing songs consciously for a new album towards the end of 2018 as we’d booked the recording studio for late April 2019. I started sending very basic home demos to the rest of the band and our producer Santi Garcia so in that sense there was more groundwork done as we’d never worked like that in the past and just gone straight in. In the new year, I and Pablo (drums) went to Sant Feliu where Borja (bass) and Xavi (guitar) live to work on the songs in the practice space. It’s a bit of an issue when 50% of the band live 700 km away but we get around it. After those sessions, some new stuff came up and we began to get a clearer idea of the songs. For the next few months until recording it was basically changing some stuff around, me finishing lyrics and adding bridges, etc. Then we went to a country house outside Barcelona where we recorded all drum tracks then traveled to Ultramarinos studio to do all the rest. I think we spent about 9 days in total and pulled an all-nighter on the last day to finish. The record ending up coming out 8th November so essentially a year elapsed from starting to write the songs to the record being released, which ain’t bad.






Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?


When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’? Haha good one. I used to think this quite often but then concluded that while by no means uncommercial our songs aren’t in any way “hit” material, at least not at this moment in music. That’s something that’s been happening to bands for years so it doesn’t worry us and who knows, they may be discovered in years to come and become smash hits. Though I think it’s unlikely for some reason haha.


What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?


With the current band line-up, we’ve had lots of memorable ones for good and not so good reasons. The first that comes to mind is quite recent actually. At the beginning of the year, we played our first shows in promotion of the album and started in Cataluña so we could squeeze in a couple of rehearsals after New Year. Half of us were suffering from flu including myself but we went to play the first show and things were a little shaky but it was fine. The problem was rather than taking it easy and getting some rest me and Borja (bass) got carried away and stayed up all night. We went to play the next day in Sant Feliu (which is like our second home) and we showed up a bit knackered. Anyway, we started playing our set and things were going ok till about the 6th song when suddenly while singing I didn’t know if I was gonna puke, blackout or shit myself. Flu and hangover combining to teach me a lesson for the schoolboy error. I turned around and the other guys took over vocals while I was leaning against my amp and gradually wilting to the floor. I did kind of blackout and came to my senses with a crowd of people standing over me then got carried out and the show put on hold until I got my shit together but I knew it was game over. We called it a night as I was in no state and the other guys sold our merch half-price to make up for the shitshow. The first and only time I’ve had the experience and definitely don’t want to repeat it but the funny thing was something similar almost happened to us a year earlier in the exact same venue but we survived.





Recording music and playing in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?


Well, I didn’t use to enjoy recording as much as playing live but now that’s not the case. I enjoy the creative element of recording and how things come up that you don’t have planned and those are the things sometimes which end up making the song. It’s an intense process that requires lots of focus but at least I find it super enjoyable. Playing live is more instantly gratifying and obviously the energy is totally different and in terms of interaction, it’s a different story. I can’t think of many things more enjoyable than going to different cities and countries with your friends playing music you’ve created every night that people actually pay to go and see.



Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?


I honestly have no idea and especially taking into account what’s hit with COVID and the implications of that on the music industry and scene. Who knows, maybe something positive will come out of it all because I personally wasn’t too happy with how it seemed everything was becoming geared around festivals and all the business side of that. I’m referring to the bigger ones, as I have friends who organize small to medium-sized ones and it sucks that all that’s gonna fall apart for them this year. I have no problem with Coldplay stopping touring, don’t think those guys need it. I think things will probably be like now but 5 years further down the line, let’s see.



released November 8, 2019

Recorded at Cal Pau Recordings and Ultramarinos Costa Brava, end of April/beginning of May 2019.

Produced by Santi García, engineered by Santi García and Borja Pérez del Pozo.
Mastered by Victor García at Ultramarinos Mastering.
Artwork by Pablo´s Killers.
Cover photo by Florencia Rojas.

Jamie R. Green – Guitars, lead/backing vocals and bass.
Pablo González – Drums and backing vocals.
Borja Pérez del Pozo – Bass, backing vocals and synth
Xavi Calvet – Guitars and backing vocals (lead on “Cheap Perfume”)
Santi García – Bass and synth.





More and more singles or EPs are being released these days. Releasing a full record is really a labor of love?


Originally I planned on the new album being just an EP but my record company said: “what am I going to do with an EP?”

Jem Records is my label, and they pretty much just release LPs. To release an EP it would have just been digital, and more easily ignored. And albums seem to have more impact and lasting power. Plus this way we get to have pretty bright red vinyl.






When do you think a story is good enough to be told in 3 minutes?


I like to tell a story in one minute. That’s what it usually takes to get through the first verse and chorus. The second verse usually goes more into detail or takes a twist. Most of my songs are initially written with one verse and chorus and if it stands up I’ll come back later to finish it and write a bridge when needed.


This time you chose to use a band name. What has changed?


I’ve always had others play on my records. Donny Brown was the drummer on my last four records and Andy Reed played. bass on the last three. I love those guys, but I was hoping to have more live shows and to have a band that lived closer and was more available to get together and make noise more often. Jeff Hupp (bass) approached me saying he was available to play bass if I was looking. He brought in Ron Vensko (drums) and Kevin Darnall (keyboards) and for a short time, Ryan Allen was one of the Complicated Men as well. Ryan has been involved in all of my past four albums, either performing or co-writing, so he was there for the beginning of the band. He recorded on the first 4 songs we had for the album. We carried on was a 4 piece with the addition of Chris Plum on harmony vocals, keys, percussion for the second batch of songs. The basic tracks for the album were recorded in two separate weekends last winter and spring.




When you sing you sound like a young Bryan Adams. Do you often hear that? Do you think that is a weird compliment?



I have heard the Bryan Adams comparison before, and I take it as a compliment. He’s a great singer, not one of my biggest influences but I’m sure its the gravel in my voice that makes people think of him. Not sure where that comes from, never been a smoker. Tom Petty and Paul Westerberg are more of what inspired me in my late teens, early 20’s. But so many influences. Probably several dozen bands have been my favorite at one time or another. My singing voice doesn’t really sound like my speaking voice, so maybe intentionally I tried for something different and it stuck.


The urge to challenge yourself creatively is unstoppable?



To me, the challenge is to write another album that is on par with what I’ve done before and hopefully better in some ways. I’m not trying to necessarily be different, I just want to record a bunch of songs that don’t steal too much from what I’ve already released. And for this album, with new players, maybe a slight detour for me. As always, I don’t dictate what the other guys play. I let them come up with their own magic. It helps that we’re pretty like-minded. Geoff Michael has produced 5 albums with me now. He’s a big part of what the records sound like, so that part remains the same. But he’s always challenging himself to approach things differently with each record.


And it was fun having the whole band tracking at the same time. I haven’t done that in a long time.




Record release date is May 22.

The Bye Bye Blackbirds – Boxer At Rest (Q&A)


SweetSweetMusicblog spoke to Bradley Skaught about Boxer At Rest, the new record by The Bye Bye Blackbirds.


What was the moment you knew you were on to something?


This record made itself known as something special right at the beginning of the writing process. Even though the feelings and ideas that fed the songs were kind of dark and complicated, the writing itself was just effortless – I felt like I just turned on a tap and stuck a bucket underneath it.  Once we started working on them as a band in rehearsal, too, there was so much positive energy to the process.  And the instant live reaction at gigs, as well – people coming right up and telling us “oh man, those new songs…”.






How did this record come together?

Once we had everything cooking in rehearsal, we all felt like we wanted to give these songs a real chance to shine on the record. Hiring a producer to help with that felt important, and Doug Gillard was such an obvious choice for us – we knew him a bit, but also he’s got this amazing body of work for decades and is also a brilliant songwriter. We knew he’d get it. Chris von Sneidern’s engineering skills combined with his connection to Hyde Street Studios was a super exciting prospect, too – this legendary room and a guy who knows it well. Chris is a great writer and musician, too, of course, so it was such a strong team.


As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

I think it is. I don’t really plan out what I’m going to write, so it’s not a process of deliberately sitting down and thinking “I want to share this vulnerable moment”. The stuff that has an intensity and emotional or spiritual momentum to it is the stuff that’s going to show up in the songwriting process and my job is really to just be receptive to it and not get in the way too much. And since whatever arrives in that way is fundamentally meaningful, it feels like the most natural thing to share, you know?



Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?


Oh absolutely. And everything we do is DIY – no label, PR, distribution, management, etc. So it requires a lot of patience and a lot of work for every listen. But it also requires a lot of self-checks – reminders of why we do it, why it’s meaningful to us, the love and joy of being creative, and the fun of making cool things happen. It’s why I appreciate the Wednesday night rehearsal every bit as much as the show at Great American Music Hall or whatever. And once you press your songs up on a record it now exists in the world and who knows where it might end up. You just try to give it a chance to find its audience – do the best you can by the music and not get overwhelmed by the rest of it.




Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Partly the process of discovery. Even though you rehearse and plan and have a strong idea of what you want, so many factors come together in that environment to change and influence how it all sounds. It’s the exciting combination of realizing your vision and discovering the song in the moment at the same time. I also love the immersive aspect of it – from the moment you wake up until the day is over, all you have to worry about is playing and listening and being creative.  It really is my favorite thing.




Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?


I like making a big loud noise. I imagine it’s how people with motorcycles feel when they’re revving their engines at a stoplight or something — just sort of laying waste to the senses of everyone around you with cool sound.



released April 24, 2020

Produced by Doug Gillard
Recorded by Chris von Sneidern at Hyde Street and Tape Vault Studios, San Francisco
Mixed by Doug Gillard and Chris von Sneidern at Tape Vault Studio
Mastered by Dave Schultz at D2 Mastering

The Bye Bye Blackbirds: Bradley Skaught, Aaron Rubin, Lenny Gill, Joe Becker, KC Bowman and Kelly Atkins


Doug Gillard: additional acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, harmony vocals, finger cymbals
Chris von Sneidern: harmony vocals
Bill Swan: trumpet
Tom Griesser: baritone saxophone
Paul Flum: tenor saxophone

art and design by John Conley/blkbrix
band photo by Scott Evans/live photo by Patric Carver

all songs by Bradley Skaught

The Beatophonics – Let’s Do This



Known for their unique musical interaction and unofficial titleholders as “Denmark’s best beat group”, The Beatophonics returns in 2020 with a new album, on which the band explores new paths. The album title ”Let’s Do This” refers to the process and the active choices the band has been through while writing the new music.

The dogma of the pure beat style is gone, and the band’s members have exposed their ideas to each other in search of the good, timeless song. The anchoring of the 60s aesthetics is still present, but the band has also opened a window to the sounds and moods of the last 40 years of rock and pop – and you can find references to everything from Elvis Costello, ELO, powerpop in general and even to The Zombies unique sense of harmonies.


SweetSweetMusicblog spoke to Rasmus Schrøder (vocal, bass) and Søren Koch (vocal, guitar) about the new record.


What was the moment you knew you were on to something?


Rasmus: When we released our debut album in 2015 it was pretty much a side project for us all and we didn’t expect too much to happen. But the music was neatly received, and we got to play a whole bunch of concerts and received a great amount of airplay on Danish national radio. And so now we are just pursuing the idea that there is something more out there for us to achieve. The three of us are basically musicians who love to play concerts and meet the kind people who are interested in what we do.


Soren: Certainly, when the first album released, that was the turning point. But actually, already from our very first gig, we knew we were on to something. We were all members of the Danish Beatles tribute band Beat The Meetles, who were asked to recreate the 1964, 20 minutes Beatles Copenhagen show. We felt that we needed to give the audience a little more than just 20 minutes and so the three of us decided to form this fictional band, The Beatophonics, to recreate the vibe of the supporting bands at the original show. We found it such a relief to be able to play this kind of music without having to sound exactly like the original record, but instead, just arrange and play the songs with the knowledge of that era playing style that we had accumulated as The Beatles tribute band.




How did this record come together?


Rasmus: We’re very confident that making a new album that sounded like the first one wasn’t an option. We’d been working with a dogma about being frozen down for 50 years, then being defrosted and made the album that we were supposed to make in 1965. That dogma pretty much gave us the answer to all our questions and when in artistic doubt we would just ask ourselves – what would we have done in 1965?  So, with the new album we had to re-invent ourselves and stay confident that leaving the dogma would be ok for us. So, we gathered the material, arranged and recorded it as our instincts told us.


Soren: Still we are huge fans of that very immediate way of writing songs, the sounds, and the playing style of the sixties beat groups and that still shines thru, but again it felt like something of a relief to let the dogma go.


Rasmus: We started working on the recordings in February 2019 and as Soren was touring heavily with The Zombies that same year, we had to do a great deal of dubbing without being in the same studio. I did a lot of keyboard and vocal parts in my studio and we somehow managed to deliver the final master to our record company and distributor by November 1.


Soren: Not having the dogma to lean upon, every door was now open, and I guess you can say that we walked through quite a few doors before we found what satisfied us. That certainly took some time.




When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?


Rasmus: Early on in the process, we were very pretty sure about the four main singles so we started discussing it with people that we relied on actually as soon as May 2019. And good people like David Myhr and even Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies gave us some good advice as well.


Soren: Yeah, we were never really in doubt about which songs were going to be singles, but more the order of those.


As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?


Rasmus: As we debuted the song “Little Girl” on the opening concert of the “Let’s Do This” tour, I must admit that I was struck by a sudden perception of the change in our repertoire. The songs on the first album were pretty much all up-tempo songs and our live shows were also very fast – and loud. “Little Girl” is as quiet and naked as nothing we had ever played live together, so during that first live performance a lot of thoughts ran through my head – very fast…


Soren: Haha, yeah, I remember that. I guess I was more like “I don’t give a damn about what people are expecting”. As Elvis Costello said in a post recently: “You as the listener might think you know better what I should be singing, but I have to tell you that I know better what I should be singing”. We love our audience and we love them to like what we are doing, but if we are not comfortable with what we are doing, no one will be. I’m sure that pleasing ourselves first and foremost, will make it easier for us to please our audience.



Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?


Rasmus: The three of us in the band have been part of the music business for like 30 years so we are very realistic about the options for us. But we are also very keen on adding some new territory to our domain and are now planning for shows in Spain, Sweden, and Denmark. But with the current COVID-19 situation we will have to wait and see where it will bring us.


Soren: There is a tradition in the Danish music industry of focusing primarily on your backyard or at least not to see the world as your stage until you have played every inch of that backyard, which is a funny approach as the country is so small. It might be age or maybe touring the US, Europe, and Scandinavia as a member of The Zombies – or maybe a combination, that is convincing me that it would be stupid not to take a look at what is outside that backyard.


You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?


Soren: Generally speaking, I’m actually not the biggest fan of co-writing. Anyway, not in the sense of going away to some kind of retreat, meeting up with strangers in some kind of songwriting camp, being sat in a room with two acoustic guitars and try to come up with something from scratch. I just don’t believe in that approach. The songwriting teams I adore, like Lennon/McCartney or Difford/Tilbrook, I’m pretty sure they go to the other guy with something, saying “I have this idea for a verse and the chorus, but I’m kinda blocked regarding the middle eight. Does it say anything to you?” I do believe in that way of co-writing. I could easily come up with a list of songwriters that I deeply admire. McCartney, Neil Finn, Difford/Tilbrook, Costello, Aimee Mann, the list is long, But the idea of writing with people like that? Ha! I just guess I’m too much of a fan. To me, it’s a question of knowing the person and being comfortable in that situation to achieve something from it.


What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?


Rasmus: When we released our debut 7” single “Poison Ivy” on Danish national TV in 2013 it kickstarted our ventures for the coming years. But as we didn’t know the contents of the program, we didn’t know there was a chart involved. I remember looking into the eyes of Soren and Flemming as we were presented by the TV host, just getting ready to perform, and the look in their eyes we’re hilarious. We definitely should’ve prepared a little more thorough – but to our big surprise, the song climbed to no. 1 on the chart the following week.


Soren: That certainly was an awkward moment (laughs).


When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?


Soren: It has happened a few times that I’ve written a song in almost the time it takes to sing it. Maybe apart from the lyrics that always needs some more time. Like when the whole melody with chords and everything just comes to you as a complete thing. And it’s always those 2 minutes, 30 second kind of melodic Power Pop tunes that appears in that situation. With this band it happened with “Could You, Would You” from the first album. The closest I come to that feeling with the recent album is “I Can Do With Anybody Else”. A thing that I have become fascinated with is writing without an instrument. Just writing and working things out inside my head, not trying it out until the song is finished. I did that with the opening track of the new album “Keeps Coming Back To Me”. That is all written in my head, without ever touching a guitar or a keyboard until I was sure what was gonna happen regarding melody, harmonies, chords, modulation, and so on. Talking about easy co-writing on the recent album, I think Rasmus and I certainly did get that right with “What Became Of You”. Rasmus came along with most of the verses. I just grabbed it from there and threw the middle-eight in, in the time it took to sing it. Very simple, very impulsive, very easy-going. Kind of the way I always imagine John and Paul or say, the early Hollies, wrote those fantastic songs on tour busses or in between shows in hotel rooms. They sound like it was just so easy to do that.


Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?


Soren: It is very tempting to just come up with the answer of “Yes” to that question.


Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?



Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk

George Dalaras – Latin

Weezer – Make Believe

Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach – Painted From Memory



The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

The Zombies – Odyssey And Oracle

Squeeze – East Side Story

Elvis Costello: Brutal Youth

Aimee Mann: I’m With Stupid


Recording music. What’s all the fun about?


Soren: To put I short: Not knowing what’s around the next corner


Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?


Soren: To put it even shorter: The beauty of communication.


You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?


Soren: If people get touched emotionally by our music, that would make me proud. That’s what I enjoy the most myself when listening to other people’s music. When our songs are best, they are effective, short pop tunes with a melodic sense, but also at best, with a little edge or quirkiness to them. But again, that’s just my assumption of what we are. It might be completely different from someone else and quite rightly so.


Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?


Soren: Honestly, I have no idea. And if I knew, I would probably stop doing this right away. But as long as it makes sense for us doing it, as long as it does something emotional to us and our audience, I feel we should continue doing it. If it becomes like a boring day-job, then forget about it.




Mixed Frequencies writes: You can hear how in step with one another the members of Answering Machine are. Their music is rock with more classic influence than punk. Each instrument line is tight, every hook is in its right place. There’s not much experimentation or spontaneity on Bad Luck — instead, they’re traded for impeccability. 


SweetSweetMusicblog spoke to J.D. Fetcho about the new album that is bursting with catchy uptempo Power Pop / fresh punk. Contagious, tight and incredibly addictive.


Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Recording is probably my favorite part of being in a band. Finding the best guitar sounds and building up the songs from nothing is a great feeling. It’s when we can hear all the ideas we had come together and create something as a band.




Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

Well, first I would bring David Bowie’s Life On Mars 7 inch for educational purposes. Then I would have to make the most of the other four so I would go with some double LP’s. Exile On Main Street (The Rolling Stones), Wu-Tang Forever (The Wu Tang Clan), London Calling (The Clash), The River (Bruce Springsteen). That should make it last.



You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

I’m going to add “alive or dead” to this question if that’s alright…

First I would want to write with Dee Dee Ramone because he’s my favorite songwriter of all time. He wrote many of my favorite Ramones songs and shaped the way I listen to music from a young age.

Next, I would like to write with Joan Jett. She is objectively one of the coolest people of all time and I would just be honored to sit in the same room with her. She’s written consistently great songs since the ’70s and still continues to put out amazing albums.

Finally, I would have to choose Tom Petty. He’s the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place. I put in this VHS tape of him and The Heartbreakers as a kid and just sit in front of the TV trying to play along. He’s another person who wrote amazing music for decades. His songs are timeless.

How did this record come together?

“Bad Luck” is our first full-length album. We’ve been playing together for a few years getting down our sound. We put out a couple EP’s and there are definitely some moments that stand out on those but this is the first time I feel really confident in our music. The songwriting came quickly on these between Sam and me. Craig (bassist) has a song on the album as well. We just rehearsed hard for a while and we were super prepared in the studio. We knocked everything out in a few days and it was mixed shortly after that. It was engineered and mixed by John Mollusk right here in New York. We were also super lucky to sign with Wiretap Records for this release.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

I think the moment I knew we were on to something was when I heard the song “Bad Luck” that Sam wrote. The style was so similar to the songs I was working on. We didn’t discuss influences or anything prior to that. I knew we were going to have something cohesive that really felt like a complete record.







Get the album on vinyl over at Wiretap Records!


released April 17, 2020

Engineered and mixed by John Mollusk. Mastered by Jesse Cannon.

Samantha Campanile: Vocals
J.D. Fetcho: Guitar/Vocals
Jackson Connor: Guitar
Louis Rabeno: Drums
Craig Shay: Bass

Cover Photo: Ada Jane McNulty

DOLPH CHANEY – Rebuilding Permit

As with his acknowledged influence (and fellow Dayton Ohio native) Robert Pollard, much of Dolph‘s work is like collage. Just as the the album’s cover drops an ersatz REBUILDING PERMIT sign in front of his Chicago-area Studio Dolphty home base, a Dolph Chaney song is likely to gaffer-tape seemingly unrelated elements. An ’80s-ish college-rock fingerpicking pattern might jump off a shoegaze bridge. A chattering sample-and-hold Moog drone may be just as likely to whirr and bloop along with a sensitive ballad as it would with a screeching careen of runaway guitars. The lyrics are similarly intuitive and surprising, with waves of wordplay riding the edge of taking over the proceedings – when an emotional sucker-punch may be right around the corner.





Mike Deangelis wrote: Dolph doesn’t paint a picture of pain as the absence of joy, or joy as the absence of pain. “There’s just life,” and he approaches it all, unflinchingly, with humor, warmth, and the deep wisdom of a man who absolutely knows that a good road is hard to find.

Might be true, might not be true but reading a (great) line like that about yourself must be ‘strange’? Or not?


I was deeply moved by Mike’s review. He’s taken a long view of my work (having played a couple of my older tracks on his wonderful There Once Was A Note show), and so he’s partially pointing out a difference between this album and prior ones. I really tried this time not to take shortcuts, not to dodge a difficult thought by making a joke instead of writing the real feeling. All my favorite writers use humor, but the very best ones do so as a balanced ingredient instead of the whole dish. I certainly don’t claim to have any “deep wisdom,” but that’s what I tried to do in these songs, and for Mike to say I succeeded means a lot.





What was the moment you knew you were on to something?


Between my prior album SHENANIGANS (2013) and REBUILDING PERMIT, there was a long period where songs just weren’t coming. I wrote “If I Write I Down” in 2014, and I used it as a mantra when ideas were very slow to make it to paper. I had parts of 4 other songs by the 2016 election, and then of course “The President Of The United States Is The Breitbart Bimbo” was very easy to write. It was the song “Broken” where I really solidified the approach of wanting to communicate very closely with the audience — what would I want a record to say to me in tough times? But the real turning point was letting go of doing it all myself after 20 years of pure solo work. Once I decided to turn to help from my talented friends (primarily mix engineer Milk Arnold, who I’ve known for 30 years, and my co-worker Jim LeFager on drums) instead of forcing myself to do things I’m less skilled at, the songs blossomed. Recording “It’s OK” and “The Biscuit (Who Grabbed My Face)” made it clear to me we were about to make my best album.




All songs are just a little bit different. There is much more diversity in styles than on most other pop albums. Was that diversity an end in itself?


I never plan this, but just about every album of mine has this diversity. In part, it came from years of solo acoustic work; as one voice and one guitar, it’s particularly important to prevent monotony. Plus, I like a wide range of music — including styles I can’t play! I don’t so much have a genre as I do a point of view.



Dolph, the standard of the songs is so high. Doesn’t that become frightening at some point during the writing process?



I definitely get intimidated and self-critical as I write — not because I think my work is at a high standard, precisely the opposite. I throw away a lot of ideas as not strong enough, and I put others aside for long periods until I find the bits I like and rework them. Some periods of writing are freer than others, and it’s fun when I can be less analytical — but I always want to write something I will still like after playing it over and over for years.





You are part of the Big Stir family now. That is about the warmest family there is. How do you feel about your ‘membership’?


To be part of Big Stir is one of the great joys of my life. They are my first label, after self-releasing music for 32 years, and everything they radiate to the outside is exactly how they treat their artists and community. Introduced thanks to our shared admiration of Robyn Hitchcock, Rex Broome has been a dear friend for 20 years, during which we’ve traded work-in-progress, shared laughs, and helped each other through heartbreak and tough times. As Big Stir became the wonderful label it is now, when I felt this group of songs turning into my strongest work, they were the first on my mind to approach and the only label I talked to. Christina Bulbenko is a visionary and an engine of positive work, and together their teamwork and true love for this music (regardless of whether it stays in a set formula) make Big Stir a delight to call home.


Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars


Joe Milliken wrote a book about Benjamin Orr.

Benjamin Orr was the co-founder, co-lead singer, and bassist for the platinum-selling rock band The Cars. Often considered the band’s heartthrob, Orr possessed an incredible voice, diverse musical talent, and rare stage presence, all balanced by an enigmatic personality and a relentless determination to reach rock stardom. 


Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Joe about the book.


What was the moment when you were sure that you had a special topic with Benjamin Orr?

A Ben/Cars’ fan had approached me, out of the blue, suggesting that I write a book specifically about Ben. I was hesitant at first, wondering why I wouldn’t choose to write a book about the band as a whole, or perhaps the front-man and songwriter, Ric Ocasek.

But when I started investigating Ben, I started discovering all these cool things about his early life growing up in Cleveland – home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I learned that he was a musician from an early age, quit school as a high school sophomore to pursue his music career and was a “teen star” in Cleveland, with his early band the Grasshoppers appearing on a syndicated TV music show called “Upbeat.” All of this happening over a decade before he would become famous in The Cars! It was then, that I knew I had to tell his life story to the world.


Can you tell us something about how the book came about? What was your approach?


I started by researching and learning as much as I could about Ben through the internet and music magazines and created a draft, or long essay if you will. From there, I just started adding to the essay by searching out and interviewing as many people as I could who knew Ben, so they could tell his story. I ended up interviewing over 120 people who knew Ben, throughout his entire life.




You have interviewed many people. Why do you think people like to talk about Benjamin?


Ben was a special and unique guy. He was not only an incredibly talented, all-around musician and amazing vocalist, but he was a very kind, loyal and generous man who had an aura about him. If you were Ben’s friend, you were his friend for life and he would do anything for you!


Did you have a preconceived plan about how the structure of the book should be?


Because Ben had passed away (October 2000) several years before I started the book project, obviously I could not interview him myself. That’s when I decided to find as many people who knew him as possible, so they could help tell his story. I’ve been told that the book almost reads like a documentary. I sort of narrate, while all these people who knew Ben offer their insights and experiences with him.


When I think of Benjamin Orr and The Cars, there are two moments that I always remember: the first time I heard the song Heartbeat City on the radio and the time, during Live Aid, that Drive was used as a soundtrack under the heart-rending images from Africa. Both times I have been crying loudly, moved to tears by the music. What is your special connection with the music of The Cars / Benjamin Orr?


That’s a tough one. But I can tell you that The Cars were one of the first bands I ever loved when I first started getting into rock music in 7th grade. Therefore, it is amazing to me that all these years later, I have written a book about the co-founder of the band. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself!

Even though I never got to meet Ben, I somehow still feel like I knew him, because of all these interviews I’ve done with people who were close to him. As for the music, The Cars are one of those unique-sounding bands that you just can’t pigeon-hole. They’ve been called classic rock, new wave, pop… but I think they combine all these elements to create a sound and vibe that is all their own. When you hear The Cars on the radio, you know it’s them!

One of my fondest memories is going to Cleveland in 2018 to see The Cars get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame… in Ben’s hometown! My book Public Relations Coordinator, Donna, surprised me with the tickets and it was something I will never forget.


For more information or to purchase the book, please visit



​Joe Milliken has been a music journalist, editor and
​website publisher for 20 years. In 2014, he launched Standing Room Only  (, a website dedicated to promoting music, the arts and specialty food on both a local (Boston, New England) and national level. Originally from Boston, he now resides in southern Vermont with his wife, Kelly, and his children, Nate and Erin.