Milli Mars The Toyotomi EP
On this superb little EP, Milli Mars — one of the true gems of Countdown City’s slowly growing rap/hip-hop scene — delivers seven gritty tracks that sit sonically somewhere between grimy East Coast hip-hop and Dirty South trap-rap… And then there are moments where this feels like rap music from another planet, lost in time, where actual gangsta shit still reigns and MC’s aren’t legit unless you’re at least a little afraid of them. Milli Mars is not a lyrical heavyweight, but his delivery — casually pissed off about you not comprehending how raw he is — is a thing of head-nodding beauty.
As respectable as the rapping is on The Toyotomi EP, it’s the beats that really make it better than just good. Produced entirely by Whizkidda — longtime partner in crime and one of SA’s best musical minds — these tracks are gravelly, murky, urban cinema-noir nuggets that provide the ideal dim lighting for Mars’ boasts and ruminations. It’s these tracks that provide the midnight context to Mars’ robbery rhymes and understated yet effective wordplay charisma. Keep bangin this EP — I bet you’ll find yourself checking in your backseat twice before heading home for the night. That’s the kind of delicious tension-building paranoia that seems to haunt Mars’ world.
While lead single “Nah, Nah” is a solid song that gets stuck in your spine like a chill trickling down, it also features the EP’s laziest verses. Manic second single “Tokyo Noir,” screeching like an ambulance ride, delivers the goods though and — along with other standouts “We Have Company” and “Red Alert ‘87” — makes this EP a must for the coming summer nights.
8.5 Micheladas out of 10
-Get the Toyotomi EP (as well as older work) at Milli Mars’ Bandcamp: millimars.bandcamp.com/.
-Check out the awesome vids for “Nah, Nah” and “Tokyo Noir” youtube.com/whizkidzuniversity
Bright Like the Sun Coda Fin
Formed in early 2012, Bright Like the Sun is a four piece outfit (mostly) from San Antonio. Coda Fin, their debut album, is an all instrumental affair that feels — appropriately enough — like a journey to the sun. You’re moving so fast that you would think you have ceased moving altogether but for the constant approach of that life-giving, glowing sphere. With only six songs, yet clocking in at 42 minutes, Coda Fin is a slow pastoral journey that drones, pounds, and noodles its way into your bones.
This music may seem initially like something you’d focus to rather than focus on, but if you have a shred of the patience that it must have taken to craft something this meticulous and texturally complex - you’ll find yourself noticing delightful new nuances with every listen. From the hushed opening of “Morse Coda,” through the escalating echoes and jumps of “Fathers,” and to the haunting screeches and cymbals that build up to the final fading guitar note of album closer (and personal favorite) “Calm Coda” — Bright Like the Sun have composed a luxuriously meditative statement of an album. There’s no need of a narrative where imagination crashes like waves and no need of a voice when remarking on the beautiful and subtle structures of chaos.
7.5 Micheladas out of 10
-Get Coda Fin at Bright Like the Sun’s Bandcamp: brightlikethesun.bandcamp.com
Hello. My name is George, and I am a musician. I also enjoy witnessing live music. Puro Pinche has given me the opportunity to share my concert going experiences here. I was going to use a pseudonym, but I couldn’t think of one, plus sometimes it’s easier to just be yourself. I’m not trying to win any awards, and my opinions don’t matter any more or less than the average Facebook status update. That being said, my first “assignment” (self-issued) was to write a reflection on Wednesday night’s Langton Howl Tour Kickoff party at Jacks Bar.
Sadly, I proved terribly unprofessional (professional is a loaded word) and missed the first band, the latest and hopefully permanent incarnation of Secrets & Irises. I’ve known the band for a few years and am fully supportive of their ambition in finding a lineup that sticks. If you haven’t seen them within the last year, you might be glad to hear they now have a female, 20 year-old Kelsey Novak, taking helm on the mic. A friend who was actually able to see the band gave them a positive review. It was his first time seeing them with the new lineup and he approved of the additions, describing the vocals as a throwback style reminiscent of Karen O. I had the opportunity to see the new lineup awhile back and agree that as long as Secrets & Irises continues to focus and hone their talents, they’ll do just fine. Also, a little birdie has told me that they have a CD coming out soon through Mitote Records.
Though I was disappointed to arrive as Secrets & Irises was tearing down their equipment, it didn’t take long for the live music to kick back up with Mrs. Howl. This was my first time seeing them with Christine Rebel behind the drums (guitarist of Langton Drive and a San Antonio music veteran). Since the Howls, Laurel & Chelsea Dagger, relocated to SA from some town up north, they’ve been through a couple beatsmiths. When I heard Christine would be taking over, I was curious to see how the new lineup would perform. I was pleased to hear a new sense of cohesion from a band that continues to own their identity as SA’s very own Riot Grrrl movement. I was glad to hear new material that proves Mrs. Howl is growing musically. For a band that thrives in crowded sweaty rooms, they held their own on “the big stage”. As a musician, I also make observations about what I would like to see from a band as they develop. I sometimes refer to this as “dreaming” for them. For Mrs. Howl, I wouldn’t change much. I wouldn’t even add a bass player. I would, however, like to see Chelsea unleash a little more fury vocally. Mrs. Howl makes fun music and induces smiley dances, but I know if you were to take them there, Laurel and Christine would follow your lead and be a lethal rock combo.
Langton Drive closed out the night. Full disclosure: Ernesto Olivo (drums) and I are closely tied as roommates and beyond. Plus, I recorded the band’s first EP and know the songs by heart. This does give me a biased lean towards them. It also sets a certain bar of scrutiny. To be honest, I was as shaken as they were when their second song of the night ran off the rails, but in this game, it’s how you deal with live show chaos that defines you. That’s why I was so proud of them after the show. The third song started off timidly, but by the fifth song, they had fully regained their confidence and were all in sync. I ordered them a round of tequila shots (on their own tab), and the show became the celebration it was intended to be. The newer songs were on point and they played a solid string of songs from the EP, sending audience members to their merch table before their set was over. To cap it off, Chelsea Dagger joined the band on stage for a Tegan and Sara tribute followed by a mashup of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and New Order to send everyone home.
Now, about the “dreaming” I do for my peers… I have this fascination with seeing people let go. When a band trusts each other and develops that confidence, you become more comfortable on stage, and you can tap into some real power, transcending as an artist in unity with your audience. I have faith that this power lies in Langton Drive. Look to each other and build that bubble of energy from the center, then watch it grow. Start with bass and drums, then the guitars will add color and heat. Once the stage is set, Jessie Riot is gonna cause one.
I wish you all great luck and safe travels on your journey, my friends. Live it out!
This is just a Puro Pinche note to express my gratitude to everyone who was involved in making the Puro Pinche Presents show at Hi-Tones a great success!
The Max Baca show turned out to be way more than I could have ever expected! As soon as I arrived at Hi-Tones, Los Texmaniacs’ manager Jesse let me know that they decided to go ahead and perform with the FULL band! I was thrilled to hear that and I knew the audience would be also. The band had done a sound check earlier in the day so all of their equipment was on stage and they were ready to rock. GRAMMY Award Winners Max Baca and the other Texmaniacs introduced themselves, Gabriel Zavala from Tejano y Mas was filling in on drums, and I was quickly introduced to Tejano star Stefani Montiel. Max Baca’s nephew Josh Baca joined them to perform on the push-button accordion. So many surprises right from the start!
Los Texmaniacs allowed me to present them to the crowd and the night got started. Everyone was into the music and people started dancing cumbias when the band covered “Que Metida de Pata” (originally by Jay Perez). Hector Saldaña from the Express-News, and of the band The Krayolas, showed up and joined the Texmaniacs on stage for their second set! Together, they covered “She’s About A Mover” and “Mendocino” from the Sir Douglas Quintet (you should know about Doug Sahm, he was also in the Texas Tornados). Saldaña continued on stage for a few more songs and soon enough, Stefani joined them to sing a couple also! I saw many familiar and new faces on the dancefloor dancing non-stop until the end of the night.
Hi-Tones had a great vibe that night. They’re definitely constantly improving the look and feel of the place and are always changing drinks specials according to what their customers really like. Their signature pickle, chamoy, bomba roja and pica piña shots are always great and they’ve even added a Chango shot! Los Texmaniacs loved performing there and I could tell by the amount of dancers on the floor that the crowd was enjoying it as well.
To the Musicians here, I just wanted to share a brief recap of the process involved in holding this event.
1. Booking - Worked with the venue and band manager to organize event. Emails help to keep everyone on the same page and organized. Use a contract if you can.
2. Promotion - Created press release, sent to all local media, followed up with media to invite them to show and requested coverage, posted event on all online community calendars, had flyer designed, printed posters and put them up around town, created Facebook event, personally invited friends.
3. Day of show - Double check on everything! Sound check, set-times, load-in area, stage/equipment, guestlists, drink tickets, etc. Get there early or at least on-time (before/by doors).
4. Try to have fun in all of this but be professional. As a venue, band, or promoter, things will run a lot smoother for you if you treat your show like a business. Just be flexible when you need to!
UTSA will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an evening with Gustavo Arellano, author of “Taco USA” and the nationally syndicated column “¡Ask a Mexican!,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the Buena Vista Building Theater at the Downtown Campus. More info at utsa.edu/hispanicheritage.
An evening with
with special introduction by
Chef Iliana de la Vega, Culinary Institute of America