Local Music Pick

Local Music Pick

In a new series, we’ll be hearing from a different person every month, reflecting on Reno music projects, current or not so current, and what makes them special and personally important to them.

Clark Demerrit on Brainfoot

“My name is Clark Demeritt and I love Brainfoot! Brainfoot was active only 2006-2007 (maybe even shorter) and they absolutely ruled. Combining the powers of three Joshes (Haggeman, Koberstein, and Hardy) and a Morgan (Travis), they played rocking post-hardcore mixed with death rock, think Nation of Ulysses meets Christian Death. Josh, guitar, would alternate between minor chord progression and intricate spidery guitar riffs. Josh, bass, would play perfectly complimenting bass lines, never to much, but also not just following the guitar. Jawsh, drums, would slay those mothers, keeping it moving with killer fills. Morgan, vocals, will always be my favorite frontman, he loved to be the center of attention, but his stage presence never felt contrived.
They were a perfect live band and one of the first bands I saw at a house show. By their second show at Holland they already had spray painted t-shirts (I own two thanks to a thrift store find) and a demo! At one of their last shows they hatched the idea to collect signatures to become a church, so their shows couldn’t get shutdown. They only had a handful of shows but each one was special. Like all the best Reno bands they broke up in a flurry of bad communication and hurt feelings, but their impact on me has never faded. Both musically and socially they welcomed me into the Reno music scene. Over the years each member would become some of my best friends and how wouldn’t that make them one of my favorite bands ever.”

Scaught Bates on Vae Victis

“This is one of those bands that would take the piss out of you live. Grossly underrated, mostly due to the fact that they didn’t make it out of town that often. When my old band recorded with Steve Albini, he expressed heavy liking towards our Vae Victis cover more than any of our original songs. He was a little let down when we told him it wasn’t our song.

They existed sometime within the late 90’s to early 00’s. First record was a good listen. It had a message on the back cover to mail their singer’s address for lyrics. Not sure what lyrical themes were taking place on the record, but this would end up being a great building block towards their following full length.

The following full length, “Ugly Reflections”, showed guitarist Jensen Ward taking on vocal duties(It’s a close call, but I’m certain that this is my all time favorite record to come out of Reno). I took the opportunity to talk to Tom Gordon who recorded this record to share his feelings on it a while back. Tom is known to record a wide range of well-known artists from Dr. Dre, Whitesnake, Milli Vanilli, and many more. He confessed that their song ‘Six’ was one of the most chilling performances he’s ever witnessed in a vocal booth. Time stood still and the goosebumps were aplenty. Seeing that song live, I certainly believe it. That song is about his Dad being diagnosed with cancer. Really heavy, and you can honestly feel the narrator of the songs world exploding. That heaviness would carry over to a following band known as Iron Lung. Which went on to probably be one of the most accomplished bands to ever stem from the Reno area.

Fun fact: Local Renoite, Eddie Joseph, from Eddie & the Subtitles would perform under the alias Iron Lung here and there around 1980-81’ down in southern California. Always thought that was a funny small world coincidence. One was acid induced incoherent jamming and the other was short fast stop on a dime power violence lyrically informed by medical atrocities and misanthropic themes.ps. Probably my favorite part of this band is the drumming. David Torch is definitely a prodigy with percussion. He is not a punk drummer, but came up with the tightest, most fucked up drum lines to these songs that may have only come from a single person’s own flavor being challenged in an unfamiliar style.  The stuff he plays on the song ‘Hanging’ is absurd.

From the Iron Lung website where you can buy this record – “The bass player Chris went on to work for mega rock bands like Death Cab For Cutie, AFI, and The Postal Service doing production work, he never stops touring. The drummer, David, who is a sick photographer with gallery shows all around the world, played on Jimmy Fallon’s show with a band called Phosphorescent a few months ago. Jensen sells punk records out of his garage and is highly regarded in the lowest circles.”

You can listen to Vae Victis HERE

Drew Willis on CodeXRed

The members of CodexRed’s various lineups are now playing in notable, probably better projects (Fearing, Regional Justice Center, and Fall Silent, among others), and I’ll bet more than one of these members will roll their eyes if they see this post. But the no-bullshit reality is that CodexRed was, for myself and a number of similarly pizza-faced teenagers, a big deal. Going to the CxR show was a salve for adolescent ills including but not limited to: the fists of former friends suddenly flying at your nose bridge, voluntarily or otherwise absent parents, the rollercoaster, in-the-gut drop of self hate and inadequacy that seems to grow in grey desert winters–all punctuated by ever-longer shifts at work. Going to a show was a sort of compressed, high potency vacation from all that. It was part social capital, part activism; part self-expression, part desperate attempt at belonging. To go to “the show” was to shoot for something like transcendence in twenty minute sets between Fort Ryland’s concrete walls.

This was 2010-2015-ish. The building now known as Sizzle Pie–a short walk from Ryland–was a corner store that kids frequented between sets and (also) sold those cheap, somehow plastic looking knife/brassknuckle combo things under scratched glass countertops. At that time, CodexRed was able to draw enough people for all-local Ryland shows with elbow-to-elbow turnout. They covered No Warning. Alex (vocals) inadvertently fell off the Knitting Factory’s stage, and his sudden fall to the sticky floor was preserved in a cellphone video that I’m pretty sure is still up on Youtube. They played bouncy, Madball-ish riffs to rows of banging heads. They inspired shy high school kids to the forefront of piled, B.O. reeking bodies, bodies united by the band’s chorus (“I am not like you. We are not the same”). They Tumblred about straight edge sex positvity. They spoke, between songs and over heavy, halftime riffs, about the sociopolitical (“Fuck racism, fuck sexism, fuck homophobia”) and the community-oriented (“I like burritos. We are going to Mitchconner’s after the show. Come to Mitchconner’s after the show and get burritos with us”).

That band and time period will always be, for me, wrapped up in unearned nostalgia–a rosy-tinted, oh-the-good-old-days distortion of reality. But I think CodexRed and those musty, concrete-insulated hardcore shows represent a particular moment in Reno and Reno music, a moment that reflects what we like to believe this town–as well as its DIY/basement music–can be and do.

You can listen to CodeXRed HERE

Tim Blake on Flores

“Although only active from about 2014-2016, Flores was and remains one of my favorite Reno bands of the past couple decades.

A local supergroup composed of seasoned punks Jenn Archerd (vocals/synth), Megan Kay (bass/vocals), Justin Morales (drums) and John Ludwick (guitars/vocals), Flores blew me away the first time I saw them and I made sure to drop whatever I was doing to catch them as often as possible. Their blend of heavy rock drums and layered guitars and synth topped by Jenn Archerd’s fiercely beautiful vocals was the perfect blend of punk/dark wave.

Most memorable shows for me were at Holland and Clarklane Mall… if you never caught them live, you missed out! They still have tunes available on bandcamp and I highly recommend downloading what you can find. Well worth it and I wish they hadn’t quit!”

You can listen to Flores HERE

Nick Meza on Pissmixer

First time I heard Pissmixer I didn’t know what I was in for, and I was absolutely blown away. It must have been around 2011 or 2012,  it was a small all local matinee show at Ryan’s Saloon and I think they were the first to come on that day. They immediately grabbed my attention and I was hooked. Crushing riffs, sweet grooves, blast beats and jacks wrenching vocals mold together to create this vicious sound you can’t help to bang your head to. I didn’t stop talking about their set that night for the rest of that week, and to this day I love bringing up that fact that was one of my favorite local sets I’ve ever seen, and that Pissmixer is my favorite Reno band. It really is rare moment when a band can take you by surprise like that, but I think Pissmixer has that effect on everyone who see them. 

I try to make it out every time they play and you should too.”

You can listen to Pissmixer HERE

Tucker Rash reflects on Casino Hearts

“My dad often took me to shows as I grew up, but when I entered my early teenage years I started seeking more on my own.  One particular band was responsible for the increased frequency of shows I went to. The forlorn, reverb-drenched bedroom sound of Jacob Rubeck’s Casino Hearts. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this was the perfect soundtrack for a somewhat melancholy 14-year-old. I tried to make every Casino Hearts show that was booked in 2014 and 2015.  I would walk to Holland from my house, often bringing my little sister with me. This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was coming out of my shell and becoming my own person.

Casino Hearts was and continues to be important to me because it deeply influenced me when I was a young teenager. Going to these shows helped solidify a very important belief for me. Anybody can create meaningful, profound, and inspiring art and the only thing that gets in the way is the fear of starting. If you push past that and attempt to be confident in being vulnerable, you can create something that reaches out and touches hearts. The best part of this belief is understanding that literally everybody is capable of achieving this. This belief was only solidified when I was selected to create a music video for Casino Hearts during Holland’s 2014 4x4x48, a 48-hour music video making challenge. I was only 14, the youngest participant in the event, but everyone treated me like an equal. I remember Jacob being very encouraging and excited about the music video I put together for him. 

A little later that year, I decided to start broadcasting an online radio show called “The Bottom 40”. Casino Hearts tracks like “stoned, curious, and in love” aired almost every show. The music of Casino Hearts was the perfect soundtrack to my early formative years and now produces a bittersweet nostalgia that continues to inspire me.”

You can listen to Casino Hearts HERE

Brigdon Markward reflects on SKIN. or Skinwalkers

“Like many great local bands, Skinwalkers, or SKIN. (as they were known towards the end there), existed in a very brief but influential moment of time in Reno music. When I say it was influential, I don’t mean that SKIN. were in the right place at the right time; I think it’s safe to say they helped create the moment they existed in. Emerging from a hardcore project together, SKIN. became the vessel for Nathan Lachner’s more personal songwriting. The songs were lush and cathartic, and just as heavy live as they were heartbreaking. They helped carve a path between Reno’s indie world and hardcore world, and other bands followed suit. My first introduction to them was a bill we shared together, a summer house show in a backyard up behind the university for the release of their EP “Invisible Twin”. It showed me the world they built with their music, a world all the kids screaming the lyrics were already familiar with.” – Brigdon Markward

“I can almost hear it
your invisible twin,
and it’s making me sick”

You can listen to SKIN. HERE

Watson Meyer reflects on Spitting Image

“One of the most memorable first Holland moments is biking to go see Spitting Image before I knew anybody. The show happened to be Austin’s birthday and one of the last shows they played for a long time. I remember Brigdon and I “permanently borrowed” a Spitting Image 7” from Wolfpack Radio just to listen in my apartment. The infectious “body music” energy, and creative approach to writing (musically and lyrically) still makes them one of my favorite psych punk bands out there, even though they were my first.” – Watson Meyer

You can listen to Spitting Image HERE

Erin Miller reflects on Trust Fall

“The lights went out overhead, leaving only a colorful strobe to illuminate the densely crowded living room. At the front of the crowd, quiet and yet commanding everyones attention, were Tara Tran and Jelani Best. The pair created the nostalgia core noise-pop performance art project, Trust Fall. Clad in soft white lingerie, the duo began their set and a hush fell over their captivated audience. The words to “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, tumbled out of Tara’s mouth as they softly plucked their guitar strings. In the space between them and the audience, Jelani began to dance. Only, it wasn’t quite Jelani, and it wasn’t quite Tara. It seemed as though that, as soon as their songs started, they both became possessed by the ghosts of jilted lovers from a time long before ours. Their song progressed, and with every bar Tara’s voice would rise, haggard and trembling, into a bellow of distraught anguish, giving a different kind of passion to the songs they were covering–a passion that I don’t think those songs were ever allowed to have before. Jelani, as though he were a physical vessel for these words to come alive in, fell to the floor choking. He writhed on the area-rug, hand halfway inserted into his mouth, eyes rolled back into his head. Before him laid an open suitcase with bloodied tissues and carnations inside of it. They were momento mori of what once was, reflections of a love now lost, though desperately clung onto. He leaned his head back, and he screamed. As he screamed, Tara slammed onto their guitar, looping the chaos and bringing the volume of their once soft country-pop cover to a deafening roar. It was hard not to cry, and even writing this I’m getting choked up, because I have never witnessed something quite as devastating as when I was watching Trust Fall perform. It was as though they had tapped into generations of torturous what-if’s, “crazy” women, love letters that went unanswered, longing that was never reciprocated, and gave all of those things the voice they deserved. It was more than a performance–it was a reclamation of space, an act of radical vulnerability, and an uncompromising and guttural demand to truly, finally, be seen. As the din receded, our mediums finally exorcised what had come over them and returned to their bodies, breaking the spell cast upon everyone else in the room by once again smiling their crooked grins, as if blissfully unaware of the power they had just held.”
– Erin Miller

Ilya Arbatman Reflects on Young Lions

“Driving up to Gilman for a show, back when I lived down in the peninsula, was always a special journey. I remember the big, dark graffiti’d warehouse that has seen so many thousands of punks over the years was pretty empty that night – I remember Jawsh was wearing a bandanna, a signature look of his back then. I had seen him play drums in a moshy hardcore band, Bafabegiya, which wasn’t really my thing, but when Young Lions came on I was rapt – it was exactly what my late teenage self was thirsty for: high energy, positive and upbeat but with just the right taste of bitterness and disappointment, guitar parts that were themselves somehow lyrical. I got the CD and remember I left it on to play through the night while I slept. Those songs are still stuck in a deeper part of my brain. It was crazy how often i would talk to people over the next few years and repeat the same conversation: “Reno bands? have you ever heard Young Lions?” and they had, and they would say “Yes, that’s hands down one of the best bands I’ve heard in a long time,” and we’d lament what a bummer it was that they weren’t around anymore. But that was the Reno way back then! Burn bright as you can until you burn out – you might not leave too many marks but the ones you do leave will remain forever.” – Ilya Arbatman

You can listen to Young Lions HERE

Gina Rose reflects on Stirr Lightly

“Stirr Lightly is one of my favorite bands to ever come out of Reno. Courtney Mayer, Bijou Bell, and Victoria Almanzán are experts at their instruments, and come together to create this beautiful mix of soft and breezy tunes. Seeing them live for the first time blew me away because it had been so long since I had seen an all-girl band in Reno, and their unapologetic and fun attitudes captivated me from the first second. Their song “Blue Collar” helped me connect to those feelings of being a young woman growing up in the West. It can be quite isolating, especially as an artist.” – Gina Rose Waller

You Can Listen to Stirr Lightly HERE

Julian Jacobs reflects on Royal Noble.

“Royal Noble is my favorite music project to come out of Reno, and Justin Craperi, who’s used the moniker both fronting bands and as solo performer, is among the best songwriters Reno’s ever seen. When I saw Royal Noble’s first show in the basement of Red Rock in 2008, I was blown away. They played hard, but they weren’t very loud. The songs were heartfelt and earnest but undeniably fun. In their 20-minute set, Justin had one line of banter: “These are all love songs.” The CD-R demo I picked up that night has remained in constant rotation in my personal listening ever since, as have all of all of Justin’s wildly varied, sporadic, but uniformly amazing recordings. Justin typically performs solo these days and much less frequently than most of us would like. If you catch Royal Noble on a bill, go.” – Julian Jacobs

You Can Listen to Royal Noble HERE

Sunday Sasser reflects on Pry.

“Pry is a bewildering and fascinating post-punk project with lyrics that enchantingly emulsify into strange and appealing guitar tones and melodies. Pry to me is a deep dive into the psychological pools, with muddling sounds and petrifying lyrics. I chase the high of my first time hearing those flooding tones and compositions found in Attribution Reluctance. Pry, to me, is an exposed soul begging for you to indulge in the moment— sharing in pain, experience, and vulnerability” – Sunday Sasser

You can listen to Pry HERE