Cas One vs. Figure: Murder Media [Single]


Well, the day has almost finally come, Everyone. Tomorrow is Election Day. Fucking finally, right? We finally get to figure out which monster will soon be the figurehead of the United States of America. And I will be the 4 millionth person to say, this is a sad time. It really feels like a lose-lose situation, but there really isn’t anything we can do about it. We are defenseless against the actions of the people that rule us. But there is solace is one thing: some good ass art has come out of this whole debacle. So let’s talk about that!

For those who were not aware, the amazing independent hip hop label Strange Famous made the greatest decision of their existences earlier this year when the decided to sign on two of the greatest artists in Hip Hop, Cas One and Figure, together as Cas One vs. Figure. And last March, they released a beautiful lyrics video to their brilliant track “Murder Media” that I feel is so damn appropriate for this day. Seriously, I cannot think of a more appropriate song to represent this day that will always be a proverbial cum stain in our history. The world is in such a disarray that we absolutely NEED a track like “Murder Media”. And as you would expect from two of the greatest artists in the Hip Hop world, they created something absolutely beautiful.

So, when you are out there at the polls deciding the future of this nation, I hope this track is seething through your brain. Remember: “You’re only as strong as your motherfuckin’ cause”. So what is your cause? And how far are you willing to go? Vote how you will, but understand that our future is looking grim, and while it seems like there is nothing you can do about it, you can’t give up hope. I’m not telling you to vote. I don’t buy that bullshit claim that “if you don’t vote, you can’t say anything.” No, not voting is a statement in itself. And if you do vote, please understand the consequences of your actions. Feel whole-heartedly about the choice you make.

And more importantly, listen to good goddamn music! And by good music, I am definitely talking about Cas One vs. Figure. Check out this amazing video for “Murder Media”, and formulate your opinions accordingly.

Check out more great work from Cas One Vs. Figure at the Strange Famous Website.

Goodbye, Farewell, Amen.

tws train

It has been 4 years.  4 wonderful years, I might add.  An entire presidential term ago, I started this little site you are looking at today as sort of “something to do” after I had done all I could to get my book project (Children of Mercy: Tales and Teaching From the World of Independent Music) off the ground, and was simply doing a bit of publicity during that summer of 2011.

For those who are unaware, this site actually began in a hotel room at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.  Pretty much Biloxi, MS.  I was spending the summer doing to re-training for a my new job, and had the “opportunity” to spend 6 weeks hanging out in the south.  Overall, it was pretty good.  I finally got to visit New Orleans, and even did a bit of radio promotion of CoM.  I was also contacted to by College Magazine to do an interview about the book, via E-mail….and that is really where this whole damn thing got started.

Actually it all started when I was alone, bored, drunk off Kentucky’s finest vodka, watching a shitty SyFy movie about robot alligators or something.  I had also just finished taken a dip in the disgusting Gulf of Mexico and touring around a weird segregated cemetery, when I realized what my next step was going to be.  Washed clean from the sins of common decency, I decided it was time to move forward.  At that point, I had spent the last 3 years or so writing album reviews and features for the single greatest indie music site of all time, .   I loved and learned so much from and about that site that I almost felt disgusting when I decided to branch out on my own (although my fearless leader Andy was very encouraging).   Disgusted so much so that I actually continued to write for the site even after I was trying to manage my own.  So why the break off?

It’s really a simple answer.  I just wanted to do a bit more.  Fensepost is the greatest MUSIC site the world will ever know.  Some of the bands/artists that I learned about from this site alone have shaped my life in ways I could never explain.  If it weren’t for Fensepost, there would be no Blitzen Trapper or Bodi or Asectic Junkies or Jared Mees or Soul Distraction etc.  And to me, the people behind these wonderful projects are not simply people who I listen to, they are genuine wonderful folks that I have had the distinct pleasure of interacting with in some form or another over the years.  But, as I seem to do, I fucking digress….

I wanted to be involved in the entire aspect of entertainment.  Mostly the film world.  I’ve always been an avid film lover since I was 10 years old and first discovered Woody Allen.  And after CoM was successfully funded, published, and released, I was feeling on top of the world at the time and figured I could try anything and make it fucking happen.  Thus, Trainwreck’d Society was born.

TWS was never meant to be a huge hit.  My goal for the first year of existence was to reach 1,000 views a month.  And I was proud to say that we hit that (almost spot on, just hours before the goal deadline).  And then it just sort of expanded.  To date, we are here, 4 years later, sitting at a site that started on a whim, now looking at over 150,000 hits.  And there is no doubt in my mind that this is owned to the stunning and stellar artists, writers, actors, bloggers, etc. that contributed to the success of this site in so many ways.  I really feel as though I was just the pusher of this beautiful nonsense, and YOU all made this happen.  And I am so proud to have been the facilitator of such beauty.  $100 in domain fees has been totally worth it!

But alas, it has to come to and end.  And for a site that was started on a lonely July 4th night, the 4 year mark seems entirely appropriate.  I have loved making this site happen.  In fact, it has moved around with me so much over the years.  From Biloxi, to Spokane, to South Korea, to pit stops all across America, and finally ending in southern Spain.  It has been something that has followed me so closely over the years, and it certainly always will.  I say that is has followed “Me”, but really the content of this site has been produced all over the world, even beyond my own locations.  We have been fortunate enough to have contributions from folks from the Pacific Northwest, to the snowy lands of Minneapolis, to trailer parks in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and so many other great places across the globe.  So, at this point in this far too long eulogy, I have to thank the great people who contributed to the content of the blog:

Christopher Eaves, Adam Mattson, Ray Wiggington, David Minne, Dusten Retcher.

You motherfuckers are just some amazing cats that I can’t even begin to explain who thankful I am for what you have given me and the Trainwreck’d Society community.  I seriously love all of you for everything you have done.  Thank you so much.

And then, as trite and cliche as it may seem, there are just so many other great folks to thank that it would take forever to truly appreciate you all.  So let me do the “right” thing, and clump you all in to one big group so basically make myself feel like I said all I could:

To all the Guest Wreckers, publicity folks like XO Publicity or Green Light Go or Principato Young or October Coast who gave some of the greatest tips imaginable, musicians/actors/writers who didn’t suck and sent me e-mails, musicians who DID suck but still sent the e-mails, the wonderful musicians/actors/writers who saw our site as something they would like to be a part of, for reasons I still don’t understand, DJ’s and Podcasters across the globe who showcased our work, basically anyone who helped make this content available and accessible to our readers.

And, yes I have to do it, thank you to the readers.  Whoever the hell you are, and wherever you are from….. Thank you.  Without you there is no reason for us to have ever existed.  Although, I am pretty sure you are more than likely a part of the aforementioned crown, in which case I thank you twice as much.


So, it seems like all that needs to be said as been said.  Trainwreck’d Society is officially completed, but obviously not depleted.  Until I am in my grave, the site shall exist, and we will always have a great catalog of interviews, album reviews, features, book reviews, etc. for you to love and enjoy.  You can always scout out or INDEX to see the impressive list of fine folks we have featured on the site, I promise you it will always be available.

And as for me personally, I’m not really sure where I am going.  I am indeed hoping that TWS will simply be the second part of the trilogy of my “career” (can you call it a “career” if you’ve never made any money?).  The final installment should be underway, as soon as I figured that out.  Until that begins, you can always find me somewhere in the digital universe.  I’m on Twitter now (@rontrembath), always supporting the folks who have supported me for so long.  Our wonderful friend Adam Mattson is co-host of the ground breaking podcast Four Guys Drinking (as well as regular guest and former TWS contributor Christopher Eaves), so you can always expect me to be pimping this wonderful show out to the world.  I don’t really know.  The next goal is out their to reach somewhere, and I raise a glass to everyone who has had the courage to strive towards reaching that goal.  I know that when I figure out what that is, I will strive towards it with the tenacity of a freshly stabbed bull in the ring of glory.

Since I’ve never considered myself an “original” writer, and have always loved to bite off , or “quote from”, those who do things so much better than me, I will leave you with this quote from my newest and most favorite show host, the great Sir Scott Lawrence:

“Have a great evening, and a wonderful tomorrow.”


Fin/Mic Drop.




Ron Trembath
founder/editor, Trainwreck’d Society




Thee Hobo Gobbelins [Band]

Thee Hobo GoblinsSomewhere between the talented and the estranged, between Americana folk and traditional masochistic stylings, there is an impromptu Bay Area based burning man ritual happening without the knowledge of the locals, all the while creating something absolutely lovely.  And boy are they having a damn good time!  I clearly could only be talking about the bizarre, yet super-friendly sounding batch of storytellers and weirdos Thee Hobo Goblins (that was “clear” right?  never mind.)

Thee Hobo Gobbelins is a brilliantly weird collection of avant-garde and fascinating individuals who obviously understand what it means to have a good time whilst telling a damn fine traditional story, or just ripping through some badass bluegrass melodrama.  While the group is one that is obviously meant to appeal to the weirdos and lovers out there, really it is all about the storytelling.  On their first full length album since 2009, Oddities and Entities, the listener is invited into the pastel flowered patterned haunted house that is the world in which these beautiful freaks live in day in and day out.  For the 6 or so regular Trainwreck’d Society readers: think of them as a mashup  between The Fenbi International Superstars and Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children Macnuggits.  The latter mentioned group is not only because one half of the famed BJE duo, Dan Abbott, is a the man behind the gee-tar for Thee Hobo Goblins.  It’s more of just a common trend to beautify the estranged in such a fascinating manner.  For everyone else who accidentally stumbled here, think no more, and just listen to some wonderful music and consider yourself welcomed to the weird.

And, I know I say this all the time, but this is a band that is wonderful to hear on wax, but is obviously the sort of band that obviously has a whole knapsack filled with shenanigans and good time remedies that absolutely MUST be seen live before the naked eye and brow.  Their west coast driven, Appalachian stomp sound is one that one work well in absolutely any setting.  In fact, the band’s Facebook page probably says it best of all:

Thee Hobo Gobbelins“We can play anywhere, on a rooftop or a desert, with or without a P.A. We’re all very nice, but will possibly make you uncomfortable. Book us for winery tours, carnivals, protests, eviction parties, game conventions, or any place with a large enough dimensional rift for us to pop through.”

Sometimes these thing just right themselves.  And with that being said, Thee Hobo Gobbelins are planning to pillage and entertain villages all across the southern half of the US of A.  Kicking things off in the southeast in the land of MLK and sugary carbonated laced dreams, and eventually making their way across the land back to their homeland of ghost-risen whips and beatnik book shops.  All throughout the month of October, these silly beast will be there to entertain you.  Check out the dates below:

October 9th – Atlanta, GA @Mojo’s
October 10th – Asheville, NC @ Crow & Quill
October 11th – Chattanooga, TN @ Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Cafe
October 12th – Hattiesburg, MS @ The Tavern
October 13th – New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
October 14th – Houston, TX @ Super Happy Fun Land
October 15th – Austin, TX @ Beerland
October 17th – Las Cruces, NM @ TBA
October 18th – Phoeniz, AZ @ The Lost Leaf
October 19th – Anaheim, CA @ The Doll Hut
October 20th – Los Angeles, CA @ TBA
October 21st – Pomona, CA @ VLHS
October 22nd – Santa Margarita, CA @ Porch Cafe
October 24th – Oakland, CA @ Leo’s Audio

You can pick up a copy of Oddities and Entities right over HERE.  Also be sure to stay in touch with the band on their WEBSITE and FACEBOOK page.

….And for a quick example of just exactly how great a viewing of Thee Hobo Gobbelins can truly be, here is a live performance of the classic gospel track “Whiskey & Beer” that I found on the Tubes of Yu.

Bodi: One [Single]

Bodi - OneLoyal TWS readers should not be surprised that we are once again showcasing the wonderful artist and overall beautiful human being that is Alexander Hallet a.k.a. Bodi.  He is arguably (and you best bet I would argue it!) the finest MC in the hip hop game today.  And even with these characteristics in tow, he still manages to prove himself to be an incendiary human being who obviously has the thoughts of others placed far above his own personal wants, and some times even his own needs.  Rapper, poet, photographer, philanthropist….these are the simplest definitions of this complex and obviously multi-talented human being.  And guess what Dear Readers…the man is back!

The man who is Bodi has recently returned from what he has dubbed The Volunteer Adventures, and is back in the lab(s) and seemingly perfecting his art(s) the only way he knows how: with his entire heart involved.  He is currently hard at work on a book of photography and a documentary about The Volunteer Adventures, but in between it all he is also not forgetting about what made us love him in the first place.  He is still writing songs and mastering his craft as a hip hop artist, now with a year’s worth of world traveling to influence his already beautiful storytelling that we have all come to know and love.  And I while damned if his latest single “One” isn’t a prime example of what can happen to an already talented artist when they set out on a personal voyage across the globe and comes back with an entire planet’s worth of experience with death, happiness, sadness, and exclamation.  Our man has done it once again.

Bodi - One 2“One” is a track that, in some ways, brings us back to this one dude I used to know and love called Alexipharmic.  Which was, as if you didn’t know, the portrait of a young man who would be Bodi.  The music brings us back to the bit more upbeat yet filled with struggle times of Alex’s early years, which is to say that the beat is a bit lighter than we heard on his brilliant 2013 release as Bodi, The Fall of Atlas.  But our man hasn’t exactly lightened up too much, thank goodness.  The poetry in his lyrics are still littered with beautiful sadness, especially when he spits about his “books of shadows that are way past due”, or when he mentions the “saints turned Gods” that essentially failed him.  “One” is, at the very least, a beautiful addition to the amazing songbook that he has managed to create in his short time on this earth.  And while it may be one of the jazziest and most upbeat songs we have heard from this cat as Bodi, “One” might be one of the most heart-felt and discovery driven songs we have heard from this man yet.

And even better yet, this is just one track from his forthcoming EP that is due out around mid-September.  And it would be a safe bet to say that we will be watching for this brilliant MP3 riddled canvas to drop and to tell you all about it.  Until then, be sure to head on over HERE to check out “One” which is without a single solitary doubt just the beginning of one of the finest albums of the year.  Bodi is unstoppable, Bodi is genius, Bodi is life.

Simple Steven [Artist]

Simple Steven3Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we are probably only slightly known for our support for the hip hop community.  While yours truly is a HUGE fan of hip hop music, especially the thought driven and lyrical bliss that can be accomplished in a simple 16 bars.  We’ve covered several hip hop acts, called out one artist as Person of the Year, and there is always a handful of hip hop albums on our end of year lists.  Still, it still feels like we don’t do enough.  That is exactly why I am so happy about this new feature.  I am so happy to (possibly) introduce one of the finest artist I have heard in so damn long, Simple Steven.

Somewhere in the vein of the Bodi, Sadistik, or Cas One….we shall find Simple Steven.  And this is not to say they have similar sounds, although they sort of do.  If anything they are similar in how different they are form everything you are used to hearing the hip hop world.  A Simple Steven song might be a bit less hook heavy when compared to his label mate Infidelix, and his lyrics a bit more complicated than fellow label mate Twitchy, and possibly not as dark in nature as the aforementioned Sadistik or Cas One.  So what does he sound like?  Exactly.  He sounds like Simple Steven.  He is man all on his own who has proven himself worthy of walking with the giants.  And walk he shall when he hits the road this summer in support of his new album Abandon All Anchors, which will be released August 5th, with the likes of DJ Abilities and Jake Spike.  And if the recently released music video for the album’s first single “Dormant” should act as a sign of how great this album and accompanying tour may be, you all are in for a real goddamned treat to say the least.


Simple Steven is, whether he knows it or not, a truly gifted lyricist by what almost seems like a birth right.  Should this brilliant young man decide to continue down a path guided by his ability to spit a flow that leaves your legs weak and mind fucking blown, he is almost guaranteed success and massive gratification.  There is little doubt in my mind that Abandon All Anchors will be a beautiful little building block that will piece together the beginnings of a very bright and definitely earned career for Simple Steven in the hip hop game.


Abandon All Anchors will be available on August 5th.  Check HERE for more details.  Also be sure to check out Simple Steven when he tours a city near you:

Simple Steven1

John Craigie [Artist]

John Craigie2I believed I was finding myself being able to wander away the world of country-folk music and into something a little more dangerous, and maybe a bit louder, but like always I was drug back to from where I came when I heard the beautiful and melodic styling of San Francisco based folk smith John Craigie.  This mellow strumming and harmonica blowing cat pieces together some of the finest folk-pop meets country rock and Cajun-fuzed blues you will ever here.  And the storytelling is nothing to scoff at either, songs mixed with any emotion you can dream of, from the happy go lucky-“we can do this” positivity, to the hopeless gloom-monging that is still absolutely beautiful.

And much like I always say about the gifted ones that I’ve showcased…John Craigie is a guy you really should see live.  I have never had the privilege of doing so, but I would love if John made his way to Spain so I could experience such a beautiful and calming spectacle.  Just listening the the live version of “Let’s This Over When We’re Sober and Not At Burning Man” really gets me grooving, and I could only imagine how wonderful it would be see this wonderful songsmith in person.  And while it may be a while before I get to experience the joy of seeing this jive country cat jam in person, my fine readers in the States are in luck.  As he often does, Craigie will be hitting the road very soon and coming to a town near you!  Check out his WEBSITE for more details, but here are a few stops he will be making:

April 18th – The Bartlett in Spokane, Washingto

April 23rd – Common Grounds in Spearfish, South Dakota

April 24th – Walnut Room in Denver, Colorado

April 26th – Harmony Music House in Boulder, Colorado

April 29th – Side Door Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska

April 30th – 331 Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota

May 1st – Uncommon Ground in Chicago, Illinois

May 3rd – The Bridge in Columbia, Missouri

May 4th – The Gramaphone in St. Louis, Missouri

May 7th – Raccoon River Brewing Company in Des Moines, Iowa

May 9th – Studio 909 in Washington, Iowa

May 10th – Racoon River House Concerts in Coon Rapids, Iowa

May 29th – Playwright Public House in Ashland, Oregon

May 30th – Marshall Grange Hall in Garden Valley, California

June 1st – Redwood Mountain Faire in Felton, California

June 4th – Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, California

June 14th – KC Turner House Concert Series in San Francisco, California

June 17th – Humboldt Machine Works in Arcata, California


John CraigieAll of these great gigs and the summer hasn’t even showed up yet!  You all have been fine readers, so you owe it to yourselves to join in the on the fun with John Craigie wherever he may be closest to you.  And be sure to pick up a copy of of his 2013 album The Apocalypse Is Over, as well as the rest of this dude’s immaculate and extensive collection.  Treat yourself to some wonderful tunes that will hopefully inspire you all to love, live, and brush your cares away for at least a short while whilst hearing some absolutely beautiful songs from the likes of John Craigie.

Cas One [Artist]

Cas OneA couple of months ago we announced that the Trainwreck’d Society Person of 2013 was going to be awarded to a brilliant indie hip hop artist, Alexander Hallet, also known as Bodi.  In the manner we are accustomed to, we went looking for his friends to ask a couple of questions.  One of those said friends was the very Jacob Snider, also known as Cas One.  I had listened to Cas One before, and really dug it.  But, I don’t believe I ever really LISTENED to Cas One.  I’m sure you all understand what I am getting.  But, now I think I have heard him enough to realize that I had really been missing out on a man with a message all this time.  But, hey, we all make mistakes, at least I know better now.

Not so long ago, I discovered a beautiful track released by Sadistik as a free download on a digital album simply titled “Other Songs”.  That track was called “Savior Self”.  After one listen, I realized I just heard what could be considered the super group of some sort of gathering of revolutionaries who are out on the streets doing all they can to keep hip hop relevant.  I mean, sweet shit of christ.  Along with Sadistik we had Bodi, Kristoff Kane, Eyedea (R.I.P.), and…… Cas One.  The last one being the man who stole the show in just a few bars, with some of the finest poetry I have ever heard in lyrical form.  Just look at this:

“This one’s for the vices, the advice I never took
Those stairways I mistook for pages in my notebook
Those old cold looks that grab ahold of soul and shook
Hold my head up while I hold your hand and write my book
Oh look, that crooked little window got some blinds
I never pull em down though, they see straight inside
It’s like we changed minds, still stand in the middle
Don’t know how I keep it, I used to keep it always
Touch hands with ghosts and still walk through these hallways
Keep myself sane with the music on the long days
Seasons still change, I keep a piece of em always
Faces rearrange, they just memories in a crawlspace
They wanna walk the shoes but never learned to tie the lace”

This little bit of genius was absolutely intriguing to me.  But even this pales in comparison to the rest of his work I would soon discover.  His latest album, The Monster and The Wishing Well, is one of the greatest works of hip hop I have heard since, well, Bodi’s The Fall of Atlas.  I guess the main focal loin to get across here is that great company certainly keeps great company.  And whether they are joining forces, or guiding their own path, it is imperative to note that they are absolutely brilliant at what they do.

One of Cas One’s greatest attributes as a songwriter and rapper is his ability to write truly personal and somewhat detailed songs, yet leaves them just a bit open ended enough for the listener to gently place their own personal feelings into the words between the man and his beat.  One needs to look no further than “The X”, a song I stumbled upon on YouTube, that is a perfect example of a life event that too many of us had to deal with with so much haste, all the while doing all we can to remain righteous and continue moving on.  You really need to listen to the song to understand what I am getting here.  This is the type of wonderful song somebody would throw up on their Facebook Timeline with some sort of vague statement aimed at a certain someone.  If you wanted to look even further, which I suggest you do, “The Get Down” from The Monster and The Wishing Well is an even more serious statement on a very serious matter.  In fact, listen to it now:

If you are a fan of truly great hip hop music, Cas One is an artist you should definitely give a listen to.


Pick up some great Cas One tunes at his WEBSITE.

Jade Sylvan [Artist]

Jade Sylvan2I want to be frank right from the start with this post.  This is indeed a feature on the amazingly talented author/actress/all sorts of cool things Jade Sylvan and her upcoming tour of the Great Northwest.  I will definitely get to that as I really want all of you to know about it, and everyone I know in the area to attend and/or listen to the events she will be attending.  But, there is another story that I really want to tell.  It is the tale of how I have come to “know” Jade, which is really a tale of how wonderful the internet can be, despite it’s sometimes well deserved ill reputation, and how the marketing and networking effects of this modern technology can lead to discovering some brilliant works and developing grand friendships.

I have been trying to mentally sketch exactly just how far back I should go in this tale, and it I believe I have found the majestic culprit.  That being said, I really don’t know how exactly I came in contact with the first person, but it is a good enough place to start I believe.  In fact the original culprit may very well be a little social media enterprise that once ruled the kingdom of the inter webs known as MySpace.  But, in an effort to make this a more human interaction amongst the galaxies of satellites and laser beams that consist of a millennia’s worth of information, I will name some names.  Not to sound to cliché, but “it all started with…..” current Y La Bamba bassist and vocalist Ben Meyercord.  I discovered Ben way back in 2008 when I started to realize that it was quite possible to continue to hear music from my homeland, the Northwest, even though I was stranded out in the prairie of South Dakota.  Listening to his then solo project simply titled Meyercord, I then discovered that Ben had been doing some writing for a little Seattle-based blog entitled Fensepost, ran by indie music know it all Andrew Fenstermaker.  I began to check the twice daily posts Andy or Ben put up and loving each one more than the next.  And that is when I thought, I wonder if I could do this?  And sure enough, there was an advertisement in the About Fensepost section stating that Andy was looking for some help in the writing department.  I have harbored dreams of writing for a living, or at least in a public setting of some sort, since I was a small child.  And I loved independent music.  So why not give a shot at writing about it?  And the rest, as they say, is the history of how I became a blogger.

For 4 years or so I had the joy and honor of writing for Fensepost.  And in this time I would bear witness to some pretty amazing music.  And it was through Fensepost that I was introduced to the delightful Janelle Rogers.  Janelle is the leading lady behind one of my favorite publicity companies, Green Light Go!  I had written on a few occasions about one of her clients, Shawn Fogel a.k.a. Golden Bloom (now a full band!) who I absolutely adored.  And when I learned that Shawn had started a ukelele based tribute band to Neutral Milk Hotel, cleverly titled Neutral Uke Hotel, I was obviously intrigued!  Whilst covering their uke version of “King of Carrot Flowers”, I then became intrigued by the man in the background with the delightful mustache.  A bit of research lead me to discover that this man was also a client of Janelle Rogers.  This man was none other than Michael J. Epstein.  I then began listening intently to a little band from Massachusetts known as The Michael J. Epstein Library and was hooked.  MJE Library would then lead me to one of his other (he has many) projects with the great Sophia Cacciola, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, and I instantly became a huge fanboy for everything Mike and Sophia were involved with, which stands to this very day!

from the film TEN.

from the film TEN.

For loyal TWS readers, most of these names should be new.  I have continuously covered the for mentioned artists on several occasions, and they have even been kind enough to contribute so some of our year-end lists, and as Guest Wreckers.  And one of the projects we have covered quite extensively is the film TEN, an amazing little horror film directed by Epstein and Cacciola, and features so many amazing talents such another TWS regular Catherine Capozzi, and, finally………….Jade Sylvan!

Phew!  So there you have it.  A 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon explanation that could have been summed up better, I know.  But, here we are!  Jade Sylvan not only starred in TEN, but was responsible for the wonderful novelization of the film.  This was when I came to find that Jade Sylvan was not only a talented actress and former model, she is a brilliant writer as well.  She recently released her autobiographical novel Kissing Oscar Wilde as well, which is really why I wanted to tell you fine folks a bit about her.  I have yet to check out KOW, but it has been on my reading list since I learned of its inception.  But, I have completed the novelization of the film TEN, and it is unlike any novelization I have ever read.  Sylvan’s smooth prose and narrative is as beautiful and natural as a kitten with an uncoiled ball of yarn, even when she is described dramatic scenes of death and turmoil as she does in TEN.  Being ever so lucky enough to get a glimpse at TEN before its official release this weekend at both the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival and Boston Underground Film Festival, I was pleased to find that I was still fascinated with TEN as though it were an all new story.  Sylvan has a style that is either truly unique, or on par with some of the finest writers in recent history, that should be left to the reader to decide I imagine.

So when I completed TEN, I set out to do a book review, but then came to realize that something else wonderful was going to happen.  Jade Sylvan has plans to do a reading tour in support of Kissing Oscar Wilde.  And even better than that, it’s in the Great Northwest!!!  This will probably be the only time I will say this, but:  “I wish was in Spokane, Washington instead of southern Spain right now!”.  That being said, the cherry on top of it all is that Jade has actually made plans to perform not only in Spokane (nobody does that anymore, it seems!) but the awesome Broken Mic show at my favorite spot in my former city, Baby Bar (or Neato Burrito, if you want to be technical for the Spokanites).  So when she threw out that she could use some help paying for this tour, I practically lunged myself into the internet to support her Indiegogo campaign, essentially just pre-order the copy of Kissing Oscar Wilde I already had every intention of being, but now I get a personalized filthy drawing as well!  I also felt it would be great if my old pal Bob Rice might have her on his amazing weekly show on 88.1 KYRS Thin Air Community Radio known as Crossroads.  And she shall!  Check HERE for details, make plans to listen on line, and come right back here.  Beyond Spokane, Jade can also be spotted in cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and more.  For a full list of appearances, check out her website, but again come right back for I am not done with you yet.

Kissing Oscar Wilde by Jade Sylvan

Kissing Oscar Wilde by Jade Sylvan

If I haven’t made myself clear, which I am often prone to do so, my discovery of Jade Sylvan is owed to a long line of coincidences and chance (digital) encounters.  I have never met Janelle Rogers, Michael J. Epstein, Sophia Cacciola, or Jade Sylvan in person.  And I have had only brief, although enjoyable, encounters with Andrew Fenstermaker and Ben Meyercord.  Yet, these are the people who have shown me so much love, support, and more importantly, their talents to not just me, but to the world.  And this my friends, is how the internet can be so much more than a den of identity theft and malicious code.  Or even more than hateful comment threads and cat videos.  If the fine people spinning around on the world wide web would simply stop and realize exactly what is at their disposal and just how great it can be to discover wonderful independent artists like Jade Sylvan, just imagine how much better the world could be?  Imagine using the most powerful tool in human history to build a solid foundation of love and support for one another, all the while discovering such beautiful art?  I know it sounds ridiculous, because sadly human nature doesn’t work that way.  Sometimes we all just seem to be nothing more than a series metaphors and practical jokes.  Day in and day out, we are little girls in hiding in attics with the belief that “people are actually good inside”, only be captured, beaten, and burned.

Wow, that seems like kind of a bummer way to finish, but so be it.  Just make sure you find your way to see Jade Sylvan spit some wonderful poetry and prose in my favorite regions of the world!  Let’s show this east coast lady that we have so much more to offer than Starbucks and rain and weird Gus Van Sant movies (and by weird I mean great!).  Please show some love and support for Jade as she ventures her way to my homeland, because I want to make sure she will ever want to come back when I might be around!


Jade Sylvan4Note:  As of this being published, there are approximately 20 hours left for Jade’s Indiegogo campaign.  So, if you want to pick up some really cool swag while helping Jade pay for this venture, you still have time!  If you are reading this after March 28th, well, go to her website and buy some stuff, including her book Kissing Oscar Wilde.  Cheers!

Charlie and the Foxtrots [Band]

Charlie and the FoxtrotsOh sweet delicious hipster folk!  I seriously can not get enough of it.  The reinvention of a classic country sound is something I am sure I will always thoroughly enjoy.  Beautifully written songs with a delightful, even if it is mildly depressing, story to tell is something that can never be wrong.  And that is exactly what you will hear form a band like Charlie and the Foxtrots.  It could be very easy for me to pigeon hold these cats by comparing them to so many other acts out there, but honestly, that wouldn’t be right.  Certainly the band’s banjo riddled new age folk songs may sound familiar, but there is something obviously different here.  All the classic elements are there, but the personalized brand of folk that Chaz Wilson and company are bringing is rightfully respectable on its own merit.

Charlie and the Foxtrots recently debuted their new single “The Man I Am” over at, and are on the cusp of releasing a new E.P., which if it is half as delightful as their 2013 release The Evergreen, we are in for a real treat.  And if their new single is any indication of what we will hear in the future, it would be a safe bet to say that it this shit is going to rock our worlds.  Forget about all the “RIYL” crap that tries to make you think you are listening to a Lumineers rip off, this is the real gold.  It is fun, high-spirited, and did I mention fun?  Seriously folks, if you were to only accept one new band to listen to this year, please do yourself a favor and make it Charlie and the Foxtrots.  You will not be disappointed.

Charlie and the Foxtrots are currently on tour, catch them in a city near you.  Visit their website for details.

The Slants and the Trademark Race Case [Feature]

The_Slants_pressshot03_hiresPortland, Oregon-based Asian American dance-rock band The Slants has been fighting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for nearly four years over the right to to trademark their name. The USPTO previously refused the band’s application on the grounds that the term is disparaging to persons of Asian descent. The application process began in 2009, with appeals from the band including numerous articles by Asian American media sources, letters of support from Asian American activists, an expert report by noted linguistics scholar Dr. Ron Butters, several independent national surveys, and a case file totaling over 2,000 pages of evidence. The USPTO stood by its rejection, however, citing for evidence and citing the ethnic background of applicant/band manager, Simon Tam.

In 2011, The Slants filed a new trademark application with no “Asian-related” content, but was again rejecting on the ground of disparagement, even though no new evidence of supposedly disparaging use of the trademark was cited by the Trademark Office, which essentially cut and paste its earlier rejection.

Ronald Coleman of Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP, the law firm representing The Slants and a leading commentator on trademark law, says “As it stands now, therefore, there is nothing our client can do, or not do, if he wants to register the SLANTS trademark.  The Trademark Trials and Appeals Board says he personally supplies, the offensive “context” to what is an otherwise plain English word just by being too Asian.”

According to U.S Trademark Office records, over 760 applications have been received for some variation on the term “slant.” However, “The Slants” is the only one in U.S. history that was denied based on an accusation that it was disparaging to persons of Asian descent — even though the band’s most recent application made no reference to Asian heritage at all. In its papers, the Trademark Office admits that, unlike most ethnic terms, the term is not inherently offensive, which is why it hasn’t been a problem in the past. Yet, Trademark Office attributed it to the band because “it is uncontested that applicant is a founding member of a band…composed of members of Asian descent…thus, the association.”

The Trademark Office justified making its decision based on Tam’s race, saying “we are faced with a term that necessarily identifies people, i.e., the live performers. Thus, those who attend the live performances will necessarily understand THE SLANTS to refer to the persons who comprise the musical band.”

Tam says, “Their reasoning had nothing to do with our intentions or whether or not Asian Americans were actually being disparaged. Their only justification for applying an accusation of disparagement on our case but no other applicant was based on my race. In fact, the implication is that if we weren’t Asian, there wouldn’t be any problems because people wouldn’t associate our name with an obscure racial slur. And while it’s true that the people in the band can be identified by a band’s name, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the members literally embody the name of the band. No one thinks ‘The Rolling Stones’ are literal masses of undulating rock or that ‘Led Zeppelin’ is a metallic reincarnation of the Hindenburg blimp.”

The law states that a “substantial composite of the referenced group must find it disparaging.” Despite this requirement, the Trademark Office failed to cite any Asian American individuals or organizations that were actually deeply offended by the name, relying only on a media report of an incident in 2009 where an invitation for The Slants to perform at the Asian American Youth Leadership Conference was cancelled.  In fact, those very event organizers wrote a letter to the Trademark Office, clarifying that the reason for the withdrawn invitation was due to lyrical content and logistical procedures, not the band name itself. The event still published the “The Slants” on the event website as well as their program, and received no complaints at all.

In fact, the band has had a history of constructive involvement with the Asian American community. In addition to performing at anime conventions and Asian American festivals throughout North America, the band regularly lead workshops on social justice and antiracism. They are often featured by some of the most influential voices in the Asian and Asian American communities, including Angry Asian Man, the Asian Reporter, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and many more. Furthermore, they’ve led numerous fundraisers for charitable causes, including helping raise over $34,000 for the Japan Red Cross weeks after the Fukushima disaster.

Despite the band’s longstanding history and involvement with the Asian American community, the Trademark Office continued to deny The Slants’ application, using wiki-sources, anonymous websites and obscure reference books to support its decision.

Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, an Executive Director for the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon and longtime policy advocate for the API community, states that “the use of the name The Slants by the musical group of that name does not disparage or offend the Asian and Pacific Islander community, both because of the explicit claiming of the term in a collective sense and because of the obscure nature of the term as a racial epithet. The reclaiming of an obscure term that has been used to discriminate has a constructive impact when used by a group that also self-identifies as Asian and/or Pacific Islander.”
After an appeal to the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board, the Trademark Office’s rulings were upheld. Attorney  Coleman explains, “We are planning an appeal to the Federal Circuit, and in anticipation of this result we have already lined up a number of civil rights groups who expressed great interest in filing amicus briefs if it came to that.”

“I’m glad to be moving away from the bureaucracy of the Trademark Office,” says Tam. “I hope that the federal court can take an objective view of our case, not only in light of the work we’ve done in the Asian American community, but on the merits of free speech as well. Whether one finds our band name agreeable or not, I think we can all come to the consensus on the fact that nobody should be denied rights simply because of their race.”

The band is currently seeking help from individuals and organizations who would like to assist. Interested parties should contact band manager Simon Tam at
Also check out the band’s WEBSITE, to check out the beautiful dance rock sound the band creates amidst the struggle.  And stay tuned for another feature of The Slants right here in the near future.