Dan Agosto

The Phone Calls Debut Is Like a Surfer's Dream

The Phone Calls

The Phone Calls is a ten song invitation to hear one of the most difficult things you can try to do in music done really well; it's a mezmerizing tour through the art of writing and making a great instrumental song. The Phone Calls is the debut album by the band of the same name, a project put together by producer (and guitarist) Dan Agosto, and although Agosto mixes and produces in genres from metal to EDM to soundtrack, he's actually a guitar player before anything else. That has everything to do with why the ten songs on The Phone Calls can cover such a wide range of emotion and still play flawlessly together as an album. The whole idea is that the guitar is the voice of the song, and one of the reasons why a guitar, at least in the hands of somebody like Agosto, can be so effective as a melody lead is that it can say something just a little different each time you hear it.

"Guitar is my favorite instrument to play," Agosto says, "and it's easy for me to get simple ideas from inside my head onto a recording. From there anything is possible." The Phone Calls is a record of surf-guitar feelings and sounds, although from the first two tracks, both raging surf jams, the album travels through a thoughtful series of variations in mood and texture. "The idea for The Phone Calls is that the guitar is the lead instrument," Agosto explains, "Surf is definitely a style that lends itself to playing melodies on the guitar, especially on the lower strings. The distortion and echo effects that come to mind when I think of the sound of surf allow you to play things that can fill the space a vocalist would. It's a sound that was born from the instrument and just works."

The Phone Calls "Sun Drenched Sky"

Here's one of the best summer tracks anywhere ever, a chilled Surf Guitar dreamer perfect for anything Summer.

Disasterpeace

Here's a soundtrack from the game Fez. Here's what Dan Agosto says, "A beautiful soundtrack for a truly beautiful game, whether or not you can play, you should get the soundtrack."

Black Light Saints SXSW

Black Light Saints

The first Black Light Saints album, Impossible Picks, is streetwise and edgy, so until you hear it a few times, you only feel, but don't realize, how carefully they build their musical thoughts. Since completing the album, they've picked up Danny Lucero and Fonz and have been playing those don't-wait-too-long-to-see-them shows that you can only ever find when a really good new band comes along. They've got one at the Art Institute After Dark Friday the 11th, and then they're on the road, in on the South By Southwest madness in Austin at Cedar Street on Wednesday (March 15) and the next night in San Antonio at Limelight.

The band has also kept up the heat on the recording side --- there's a new web-exclusive release at dopecouture.com, and their first remix package is being put together now.

Britton Wetherald and Dan Agosto (producer of Impossible Picks) stopped by Heart & Soul to talk about all of this --- about how it all got started and why, and about where it's going now. Here's what they had to say:

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All the while, Impossible Picks keeps getting more attention, like when Kate Stahl is doing a story at popsugar.com about fashion designer Christina Fan and has this to say: "Fan let us in on some of her favorite Chicago things — and even introduced me to awesome new Chicago band Black Light Saints". Black Light Saints' Impossible Picks is at Amazon, Amazon U.K. and iTunes. You'll love it.

SXSW --- Black Light Saints at Cedar Street March 15

Black Light Saints

South By Southwest runs March 11 through the 20th in Austin, and Black Light Saints will be there to play Cedar Street Courtyard on Tuesday the 15th, after which they head to San Antonio for a show at Limelight on the 16th. Their Impossible Picks album is getting heard alot in alot of places --- I just listened to it again when Britton Wetherald and Dan Agosto stopped by Heart & Soul to do a podcast, which we'll have in a day or so. There's a new release from the band at dopecouture.com called "Research The Obvious" (along with a great write-up) if you can't make Austin or San Antonio.

Genre Defiance From Hay Perro

Hay Perro (Photo by Phillip Batta)

Hay Perro's "Eastern Ideas of Death" is out now, and the word about it is starting to go around. Here's an excerpt from a great interview with Chris Grubbs, lead singer for Hay Perro, that just appeared in The Illinois Entertainer: "Hay Perro is unknown to most of you right now, but you’d be doing yourself an enormous favor by changing that and listening to the scorching Eastern Ideas Of Death ... the absolute essence of the sound Hay Perro has crafted during its five-year existence: intricate heavy-metal — dual-guitar harmonies everywhere — played with madcap punk-rock ferocity."

Divide-and-conquer compartments are perfect for large media organizations; they can take polls, confiscate private information, and hire focus groups, and then use all that data to make entertainment they own outright and can market to death --- but it's definitely not the best way to make music. Hay Perro may be a metal band that leans toward punk, or maybe they're a punk band that loves metal, but whatever they are, they play what they play because that's how it ended up when they made the music. Here are a couple of examples of the music they make, both from the just-released Eastern Ideas. First, more of a metal vibe, from the title track, "Eastern Ideas of Death":

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Then, more on the punk side with this excerpt from "He's From Norway":

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For a nine-song ride through Hay Perro's world of punk-metal genre defiance, check out "Eastern Ideas of Death", at Amazon or iTunes, or get a copy you can really own at the Release Party at Quenchers at 9PM on March 11. Besides seeing a great band, you can enjoy this part too: nothing defies the media dictatorship more successfully than being open-minded.

Hay Perro Finish "Eastern Ideas of Death"

Hay Perro (Photo by Phillip Batta)

Hay Perro finished mixing and mastering their new album "Eastern Ideas of Death", a relentlessly unapologetic multi-stop tour through two different countries --- metal and punk. After completing guitar and vocal overdubs at Get Small, producer Dan Agosto mixed and mastered the album with the band at Heart & Soul. "Eastern Ideas of Death" captures Hay Perro in a perfectly timed series of we-play-what-we-want excursions. "Ride the Laser" feels like you could be in a packed-to-the-beams punk club, but then there are songs like the title track that are more metal, with drummer Emily Agosto laying down a big-kit (she doesn't actually play a big kit, she just plays it as if it was a big kit when they lean metal) tom groove under a series of harmony lead lines.

None of this sounds like different styles when they put it together --- it sounds like Hay Perro. Chris Grubbs puts a careful and powerful thought-picture into his lyrics and lead vocals, Brian Gonas' guitar adds perspective as much as raw drive. "Eastern Ideas of Death" is due out in the Spring, according to the the band's site (hayperro.com), but you shouldn't have to wait quite that long to hear some of this, we may have a track to post in the next week or so.

The Many Textures of Deep Earth

Deep Earth --- James Shaver, Otto Junker and Tony Janas

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Deep Earth can put imagination into musical form about as well as anybody. They write long, spacious instrumentals that spiral through whole spectrums of musical ideas, and they've just finished mastering their third album (their second with the current line-up of James Shaver, Otto Junker, and Tony Janas) with Dan Agosto at Heart & Soul. We're posting a short excerpt of their track "Pamplemousse", one of five tracks on the LP. "We usually start writing with something as simple as a drum loop, maybe a synth loop, and then we layer from there" is the way James explains it. Although the tracks are instrumentals, with their unique ability to develop, and then morph through creative ideas, Deep Earth always manages to convey their soundscape-like visions with the clarity of voice. The album will be out on vinyl in the next couple of months, and until then, check back here, we'll have more.

Black Light Saints: Three Excerpts From Impossible Picks

Black Light Saints

Here's a first listen to three excerpts from Black Light Saints' new EP Impossible Picks ---- "What Happens Next", "Baby Girl" and "Cattle Skull". The record is already getting talked up a lot, both because everybody who's heard it is so into it, and because of the high profiles of the members --- Ephraim Cuellar, Britton Wetherald, and Alex Brandi, not to mention the production by Dan Agosto. More from us in our story about Black Light Saints and from them on their Facebook.

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Black Light Saints Finish Mixing Impossible Picks EP

Dan Agosto was at Heart & Soul Studios all last week completing the mixing and mastering for an exceptional debut EP by Black Light Saints, and even though he only delivered the masters on Sunday, there's already a great review on the EP out of the UC Berkeley paper The Daily Californian --- but more on that in a minute. I can't post the link to the review until I explain a couple of things, even though it was pretty amazing. "In Impossible Picks, Black Light Saints know what the electronic genre begs for and deliver it in 27 minutes of hypnotic synths and infectious bass" is the way Daily Californian writer Cynthia Kang closes the first paragraph of her well-written review, and she goes on, even more enthusiastically.

Black Light Saints:
Excerpts from "What Happens Next", "Baby Girl" and "Cattle Skull"
from Impossible Picks

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