As a conceptual artist, Ali Beletic seeks to make her art experiential, utilizing vast desert backdrops in the Mojave and Sonoran to continue the land art traditions of figures like Michael Heizer and Richard Long. Her installations exist as physical spaces, often massive and cinematic in scope, but still approachable, spaces for the viewer to be in and marvel at. With her debut album, Legends of These Lands Left to Live, recorded with her partner Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family, CY Dune), Beletic achieves a similar spaciousness, her songs feature a wide-open sparseness that evokes the deserts outside of Tucson or Joshua Tree, where Beletic honed these songs, but also the swampiness of Memphis and the punk spirit and avant-garde attitude of New York City in the ’70s.

“I believe in rock & roll and I believe you have to set up a vanguard opportunity trigger to keep up with it,” Beletic writes, and that philosophy serves as a guiding principle in her work, in art she creates, Lightning, the label and magazine she founded with Olinksy, and on the new LP, which combines poetic fervor with coiled blues riffs, scorched garage rock, and junked up rockabilly.

Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with Beletic, phoning from her home outside Joshua Tree to discuss what brought her out to the desert, what the land holds for her, and her use of rock & roll as a “symbolic” force.

Ali Beletic :: Ends of The Earth


Guitarist Jeff Parker is best known for his inventive playing in post-rock outfit Tortoise and his collaborations with Rob Mazurek and other Chicago-centric experimental combos, but on his fantastic new solo LP The New Breed, out Friday, June 24th, Parker’s in a funky, soulful mode.

It’s a killer record — one of our most listened to of the year — equally rooted in jazz and funk, and built upon beat-making experiments Parker posted to his MySpace page back in the late 2000s in Chicago.

Meditate on this: Charles Mingus and company, European tour 1964, captured in Belgium, Norway & Sweden. Free up a couple of hours and wade into these waters. I assure you they are deep.

Related: Charles Mingus :: I’ll Remember April – Antibes Jazz Festival


This is everything. Recorded live in Los Angeles, 29 years ago, at the now defunct Vine St. Bar & Grill. Culled from the Verve record Let It Be Me, “Be My Husband” kicks off the set, finding Simone both spirited and in control.

Nina Simone :: Be My Husband (live, 1987)

Note the, weighted, lived-in presence of the material, here, versus the following video from 1965, taken from Simone’s appearance at the Antibes Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival.

Heroes of Toolik coverAs a collective, Heroes of Toolik are a troth between legendary musicians of the past 45 years of the New York avant-garde. Featuring guitarist/vocalist Arad Evans (Glenn Branca Ensemble), guitarist Robert Poss  (Rhys Chatham, Band of Susans), bassist Ernie Brooks (The Modern Lovers/David Johansen/Arthur Russell/Gary Lucas/Rhys Chatham), and Billy Ficca, drummer of Television and Neon Boys, the group seems to hide in plain slight; lords of the underground.

A rollicking carnivalesque experience, Heroes of Toolik stretch out into the horizon without sacrificing a tight grooving grip — an explorative scat of minimalist blues, rock & roll, psychedelic pop, orchestral folk, gothic bluegrass, and theatrical art-punk. Piercing moments of noise and pillows of rustic jazz find home on the same disc, existing in bountiful harmony. This focused yet spacious eclecticism reaches mastery on their forthcoming sophomore LP, Like Night, due out in August.

Produced by Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, New York Dolls, etc.), and recorded at Seaside Lounge and The Silent Barn in Brooklyn, the record captures strange magic in a bottle, thanks in no small part to the major contributions of trombonist John Speck and vocalist/violinist Jennifer Coates, whose performances on album highlights “Warm,” “Say Virginia,” and “Again” are breathtaking and bighearted. With an unaffected empathy, sentimental warmth, and daring compositional forms, bassist Ernie Brook’s involvement in Arthur Russell’s pivotal 1986 lp World of Echo really shines through on moments like these.

As a whole, Like Night exudes an aura of long summer nights, one of fireflies, transience and echoes – and nowhere so profoundly as on album closer “You Will Not Follow” whose luminous and misty tenor provides a hazy setting for Coates’ harmonic and austere, gazing commands, melting into the rich, sinuous wash amongst her brothers in arms. Heroes marching into the unknown. words / c depasquale

Heroes of Toolik :: You Will Not Follow

Silver Apples

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 436: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Creation Rebel / New Age Steppers – Earthier Line (edit) ++ The Clash – The Guns of Brixton ++ Medium Medium – So Angry, So Hungry ++ Talking Heads – I Zimbra ++ The Fall – Middle Mass ++ A Certain Ratio – Shack Up ++ Wire – Pink Flag ++ Les Olivensteins – Fier De Ne Rien Faire ++ Pylon – Danger ++ Ghetto Cross – Dog Years ++ Whitney – Red Moon ++ Silver Apples – Lovefingers ++ Allah-Las – Strange Heat ++ Ought – New Calm, Pt. 2 ++ The Young Senators – Ringing Bells Pt. 2 ++ White Fence – Trouble Is Trouble Never Seen ++ Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy w/ Tortoise – It’s Expected I’m Gone ++ Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky ++ Willie Loco Alexander – Gin ++ Jonathan Rado – Seven Horses ++ Parquet Courts – Paraphrased ++ Omni – Wire ++ Billy Changer – Chiller ++ The Cure – Screw ++ Of Montreal – All My Sorrows ++ Dungen – L.A. ++ Sonny & The Sunsets – Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday ++ Ryley Walker – Everybody Is Crazy ++ Little Wings – Eyes Without A Face ++ White Fence – Allison Road ++ Ultimate Painting – All I Wanna Do ++ Tashaki Miyaki – I Only Have Eyes For You ++ Kevin Morby – Caught In My Eye ++ William Tyler – She’s As Beautiful As A Foot ++ Jennifer Castle – Walkin’ Down The Line ++ Damien Jurado – Qachina

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.

natural child

Natural Child play rock ‘n’ roll music, have for a while now, and are good at it. “Now and Then” drops you right into their stellar forthcoming LP, Okey Dokey, a record that’ll make ya wanna sway, scream, serenade and stumble. You don’t need sub-genres, qualifiers, comparisons, caveats or i/allusions; just ears, a heartbeat, and some of whatever it is that gets through the day and/or night. words / b kramer

Natural Child :: Now And Then


Since her Mississippi Records debut in 2011, Marisa Anderson has established herself as one our finest, most distinctive solo guitar players. She’s one of those musicians who can stop you in your tracks with just a handful of notes. Her latest, however, takes a more widescreen, cinematic approach — indeed, Into The Light was apparently written as ” the soundtrack to an imaginary science-fiction western film” set in the Sonoran Desert. The album may not have the the visuals to go along with it, but the compositions here definitely fit nicely next to such dusty classics as Bruce Langhorne’s Hired Hand soundtrack or Dylan’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Over her unmistakable electric guitar work, Anderson layers pedal and lap steel and electric piano, creating a gorgeous, haunting atmosphere. Previously, much of her work had been improvisational, but this more measured approach suits the guitarist just fine. Into The Light is a luminous and lovely thing, and a promising new direction for a major talent.  words / t wilcox


Haley Fohr is primarily known for her project Circuit des Yeux, an experimental pop vehicle propelled by Fohr’s distinct vocals and dramatic, operatic lens. An intriguing artist, she’s doubled down with her new project, Jackie Lynn, out now via Thrill Jockey. A concept album recorded in collaboration with Cooper Crain of Chicago’s Bitchin Bajas and CAVE, the record is centered on a fictional titular character, a debutante runaway, known for her lavish parties. On the lam from the cops, the only evidence Lynn leaves of her existence are scant traces of cocaine and this enigmatic LP.

A quote from Lynn reads: “I’ve always been the source of action. My mom didn’t even make it to the hospital before I decided to come into this world. She had to lie right down on the sidewalk in front of Rolling Hills Hospital as doctors hovered around to help. It was storming that morning, and right as I was coming into the world a bolt of lighting fell from the sky, striking my mother right in the belly. They say I shot out of her like a bullet from a gun, right into oncoming traffic.”

The musical and conceptual results are intoxicating – a late-night narcotic pulse bordering on hypnotic bliss. Fohr’s deep, androgynous croon brings to mind contemporaries such as Ela Orleans, Daughn Gibson, Molly Nilsson, and the equally enigmatic (and missing!) John Maus.

There’s some Suicide in there, too, and on album highlight “Chicken Picken,” a taste of Waylon, Wanda, the Velvets, Lee Hazlewood, and a whole slew of other gold-hearted sinners. In a way, it feels like a sort of spiritual sequel to “I’m Waiting for The Man,” offering a glance from the other side, as Lynn boasts: “90 bucks a gram/daddy wont every understand how I’m living so good…cause I got freedom in a bag/party starts at 8/don’t worry about a date,” while keeping her geographical dialect intact: “Up north/downtown, the only real deal is in the South Side/come on and take a ride.”

But in Fohr’s world, nothing’s black and white, let alone a pure hedonistic fantasy. A deeper, more ambiguous cloud forms as Lynn asks: “Is the moon singing a tune, are the stars singing along or did I just step into the room?”

Is she addressing herself, us…or no one in particular. We find ourselves in the midst of an existential tunnel, an outlaw tale of self-reflection. It comes as no surprise that, in her recent reflection on Terry Allen’s Juarez for The Talkhouse, Fohr asks: “Are we aimlessly searching —- or are we following the thread?” The road Jackie takes to answer that question is one worth following her down. words / c depasquale