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Listed: Psychic Reality + LA Vampires

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: A pair of San Francisco women you should know about, Lenya Noel Tibor and Amanda Brown.

Listed: Psychic Reality + LA Vampires

Psychic Reality

Psychic Reality’s Leyna Noel Tilbor turned from conventional songcraft towards a more violent aesthetic last year, employing jacked electro gear, a loud guitar amp and a sub, and voice. The result is “SELA,” a split with LA Vampires, that was recorded with Dusted’s Daniel Martin-McCormick (best known for his work with Mi Ami). Aquarius Records observed that “Leyna really does possess such an amazing and powerful voice, an instrument she channels into a truly dense and tripped out atmosphere." Psychic Reality is touring this spring with Pocahaunted, Inca Ore and LA Vampires.

1. V/A - Pleasure Dub (Pressure Sounds/2009)
This aptly-named reissue is sweet and supple, warm with spaces. For a string of months I had a reoccurring dream of dub, and it imparted the most lovely feeling, like a good dog. It was a white-walled room with all of the space in it of five rooms, and the sparse furnishings were being removed or placed according to the music; the light too was big and flooded in in streams or sheets. Pleasure Dub is like this dream. It uses memory — breezy wurlitzer organ, echoes of golden oldies — with a light touch, never schmaltzy or simply nostalgic. Excellent for sentient beings wanting to get sentient.

2. Terry Riley - Last Camel in Paris
Ribbons/garlands/snakes of organ on top of organ on top of organ, all twilit and purple in timbre (excuse the synesthesia). I don’t understand how this was one performance, because it’s endless endless.

3. Los Indios Tabajaras - "Over the Rainbow" from the LP Always in my Heart (1964)
A woozy, slippery instrumental version of the heirloom melody, done in a silken guitar pas de deux. Sounds vaguely Hawaiian but actually comes from two brothers out of the wilds of Northern Brazil who, as the thick back-jacket lore goes, discovered a guitar by the side of the road left by tourists to then abandon their "tribe" for the Billboard charts, buoyed by the exotica arm of RCA in 1964. Such a loving and indelible rendition, though, I carried this song in my head (and on a warbly mixtape) for years without knowing what it was until recently my buddy Billy solved it with a spaceage iPhone app. Widely available on eBay for 99 cents, I can assure you that this whole record feels awesome in the morning and in the evening and in the late afternoon. I heard the record first in half-light, jet-lagged and coming out of a restorative nap in Barcelona—in those moments before full consciousness came "Over the Rainbow"—and next thing I knew I was being offered a steaming hot bowl of homemade chicken curry and rice. It’s all fused in my body/memory and this song/LP feels to me like that—easy to yield to, enveloping and warm.

4. Burial - "Archangel" from the LP Untrue (Hyperdub/2007)
The first time I heard this song I cried. Some songs don’t waste any time with a listener, they just slide onto your skin and into your consciousness and unfold, leaving you salty and desiring. "Archangel" is completely satisfying to me in its sensuality. It’s pure and bold. The beat is heavy enough and the surging syrupy slow-attack strings make me swoon. I feel like this track is the dubstep "Waterloo Sunset" it is so perfect. Apparently Burial keeps his visage secret from the press (low-grade ego rates high in my book), makes his tracks using proto/free-ish recording programs, then adds dimension and texture from field recordings of the English rain or his fireplace. All this I dig dig dig. The odd de-and-re-tuning of the vocal samples make a melody that is strange and wondrous to sing along to.

5. Claudja Barry - "Love for the Sake of Love" from the LP Sweet Dynamite (1976)
Best heard driving in a deluxe vehicle in the moments before repo. Make sure the bass is cranked. One of my favorite disco tracks ever, all elements of the song commit alchemy — exacting four on the floor, chunky and thick bassline, guitar riff that can only be characterized is as horizontal-sounding and then Barry’s husky voice beckons “You… you and me baby… we belong to each other… you really can get it on…” Exuberant and ebullient body-moving, love-affirming track.

6. Egyptian Lover - "Egypt, Egypt" (1984)
A new favorite. Admittedly found while searching "1980s + rollerskating songs" (see also Debbie Deb’s "When I Hear Music") for a tour youtube mixtape but whatever. This jam is a lot of fun.

7. Cassy - "Night to Remember" from My Auntie 12" (Perlon/2005)
Cassy is a little hard to find out about, because cursory google searches yield Cassie the hip-hop chanteuse before they get you to this rad Berlin DJ polymath (who also collabs with Villalobos). This track is my favorite of hers that I’ve heard, because its low end is amazing and she as an alluring sort of dispassionate vocal delivery but her voice is pleasingly honeyed and low.

8. Armando - "Don’t Take It" feat. Sharvette (1988)
The fact that this is a classic Chicago acid house opus is icing on the cake; this track feels great. It starts with a steady heartbeat kick and as Armando adds more percussive elements it keeps doing you right. Sharvette delivers a missive beneficial to the ladies: "This is the 80s/We don’t have to accept that anymore/Ladies are moving up in the world/Don’t take it/I won’t". Its message plain, dance-floor engineered, lavishing the listener at 8+ minutes, each time I hear it my senses sharpen. Yes!

9. The Bug - "Poison Dart" feat. Warrior Queen
Too legit. Almost paranoid it is so good on the dancefloor/in the basement/wherever just make sure you have a sub.

10. Jack’s Karaoke (24th & Potrero in San Francisco) - Every Thursday Night, or How I Broke My Foot in a Mosh Pit at Karaoke
This one time at Jack’s was the best show any of us had been to in a Very Long Time. Jack’s is a neighborhood place, not too on the scene, and you can tell because moms are there, and gangster looking tough guys, and hipsters, and fun people in general. It’s two dollar buds so that might have to do with the fact that its is popping off. I’ve seen broken glass, broken mirrors, and douche bags walking on tables. If it were a house party, the cops’d come. But Thursdays belong to DJ Purple, his incredible Karaoke with a capital K, and his deep purple velvet (velour?) blazer. There is not a proper stage, just an area by the door crammed with screens and fluorescent-fur-covered wireless mics. DJ Purple is damn unfuckwithable; you have to literally run up to catch your song as it’s starting because Purple doesn’t pause or call roll. He DJs the karaoke songs so they run right into one another. Really embodying the music major grad years later, DJ Purple rocks a saxophone, playing leads on every song and adds pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, unsolicited. This one particular Thursday, I’m rolling in a crowd three-deep — myself, my man Daniel, and his housemate Neale — and we’re enjoying the mayhem. Neale only does songs that have key changes (usually ends up with Neil Diamond). Yours truly sang NIN’s "Closer" with a perfect stranger/gothy lady who seemed timid about the chorus. A duo of Latin dudes did "California Love" and the WHOLE PLACE IS DANCING, I mean getting down. They’re getting in everyone’s faces and it looks just like MTV. A tall kid in skinny jeans just channelled Bowie with "Heroes" and it’s truly epic. Feeling so ebullient. To intensify the vibe further "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes on, and it’s a ridiculous, the tender togetherness in this bar. Swaying and singing loud, as if we were in a pub. Then, the song crescendoes just before the Wayne’s World freakout part and a mosh pit erupts. Neale, who is from Baltimore and hell-bent on being "rowdy" grabs me and throws me into the pit. Though in sneakers, I get caught terribly underfoot in the pit, and there’s a sudden alien pop in my right foot. Hop out of the pit stunned, alas, the problem in my foot is real and we aim for the ER. I’m mostly super-bummed to leave the dance floor. Hours and X-rays and Vicotins later the three of us consummate the bizarre awesome journey of the night with 5am peanut butter shakes at Sparky’s.

LA Vampires

LA Vampires is Amanda Brown’s beats/keys/tapes/voice project, documented so far in the Not Not Fun compilation My Estrogeneration, a 12” split with Psychic Reality and a self-released Cassingle. Her “What Is Woman?” cut, off the Psychic Reality split, follows murk-crusted, turbulent beats through a dreamily pastoral landscape of jazz flute, electronic squiggles and faraway chanted vocals. She’ll be touring with LA Vampires this spring.

I have a strange relationship with music because running a label and being married to a man that’s a total sound-eater means so much of it is coming into my personal sphere constantly, whether or not I want it to. So, of course, the joke amongst my band and friends is that I hate music and love silence, hate bands and love salads, hate shows and love naps. And that’s all true, but also not true. I do love music and recently I love it mostly through the people that I love. Thus my Listed.

1. Britt Brown - DJ Screw’s 3 In Tha Morning
My husband’s very specific about what kind of hip-hop and rap he’ll give props to. I’m an infinite hip-hop head but when we met we couldn’t really bond over the genre because he only liked Geto Boys and The Chronic. Over our 7 years together though he’s come around to some things (like Lil Wayne and various Soulja Boy singles), and every once in a while you can catch him drunk on 2 bottles of pinotage rambling that Jay-Z is "a really good rapper." But the best is when he discovered Houston’s DJ Screw (his Texas love runs secretly deep) and started playing 3 In Tha Morning in his Subaru Outback every time we’d run errands. Off to Bill Smith Records, 3 In Tha Morning. Post office run, 3 In Tha Morning. Etc. Now I consider DJ Screw to be one of LA Vampires’ biggest influences. My voice is low but he goes the lowest. He makes me wanna slow it all way down.

2. Diva Dompe - William Onyeabor’s "Atomic Bomb"
I’ve never considered Diva and I to have similar taste in music. She’s always known way more about punk and pop. Her parents are even into Orbital (deal with that coolness). But the past year, being in a band together, has created this really beautiful synthesis between us musically and now we share discoveries all the time. When I played Betty Davis for her a whole world opened up. But when she played me William Onyeabor’s "Atomic Bomb" my body buzzed. I must’ve listened to it 7 times in a row. (Too bad buying the actual record would mean throwing down so much cash money). Now every time I hear it I think of Diva and our funky back-up singer-y esoteric vocal-y horizons.

3. Benjamin Shearn - Paper Boy’s "Ditty"
My best friend Ben loves Queen and Brian Eno. I truly don’t understand it. He’s into glam and rock operas. What? But when he pulled out KDAY, 93.5, from his arsenal of randomness it rebirthed LA’s sunny summer rap radness and I had to fall at his feet in gratitude. This is one my favorite singles and I always bump it.

4. Daniel Martin-McCormick - The Jones Girls’ "Nights Over Egypt"
Obviously Daniel has the deepest visions for a dance body-moving future. I implored him to please guide me through the gates into that universe. First he threw out broader stuff like Arthur Russell but soon he was digging out 11 minute space disco vamp-outs with lyrics like "I’m in ecstasy when you’re making love to me." I live for that. And on a mix tape he made me recently — entitled, simply, DANCERS — he included this Jones Girls track and nothing was ever the same. The hook alone is worth a million Dusted Listeds. This is what true LA vampires lick their lips to.

5. Ged Gengras - Sadé’s "Soldier Of Love"
Sadé is my number one lover. Visions of her behind a gauzy haze on a white bearskin rug with the tightest wettest ponytail imaginable have been floating through my mind for a decade and a half. But for me everything gets a little swampy past Love Deluxe. Because I’m terrible about knowing anything about new releases I have to rely on the kindness and internet connection of Ged to help solve such mysteries as "What does the new Sadé single sound like?" The answer is: UN-BE-LIEVABLE. I died.

6. Leyna Noel - Psychic Reality’s “SELA (Seeing-Eye Lion)"
This one’s a bit unconventional because I’m picking my Listed mate and a song that’s ON my record. But when I think of Leyna I think immediately of her music. It’s one and the same for me. Super organic, beyond real. This song live is particularly spiritual, sensual, and singalong-able. Which is a rare and special quality. When she played it at the Not Not Fun showcase at SXSW this year with Daniel on guitar I had a moment. You should’ve been there.

7. Sam Mehran - Madonna’s "Deeper And Deeper"
Sam is a glamorous man. He understands shiny shirts, Brian Wilson, sequined things, whimsies, crystals, dolphins, youtube, and other such luxurious depths. When Sam started reading a book about Prince he came to an amazing conclusion that true music is all about being larger than life, unreal, fantasy fame, next level. I don’t get Prince but I love that Sam can get down for the 80s icons of excess. And that’s why I chose this Madonna song, because I actually think it’s her best single ever, wicked dancey, wicked random, and the video has a young Sofia Coppola, a painted Debi Mazaar, and a lecturing Udo Kier. Too good.

8. Pete Swanson - Love Joys’ "Long Lost Lover"
If I go to Daniel for dance music wisdom, then I go to Pete for reggae round-ups. All I’ve ever known of the genre is Jimmy Cliff "Bright Sunny Day"s and Bob Marley dorm room posters. So Pete had a lot of myth-busting to do. He sent me lists, tips, avoidables, and lay-down-die must-haves. Love Joys fall in the latter category and when I heard this track I loved it so much I had to cover it. Hoping to do it justice isn’t even on the table; it’s just about trying to touch the magic.

9. Bobb Bruno - Led Zeppelin’s "Kashmir"
Bobb has constantly impressed me with CD-Rs full of soft rock like 10CC, Ambrosia, and Peter Cetera and he always understands when I wanna get down for mega adult-contempo hits ("You’re The Biggest Part of Me," "Baby Come Back," etc). Mainly, though, he gets the Zep and my epic love for Bonham, which is crucial. While everyone else goes around trying to choose between the Beatles and the Stones all I’m thinking is: ZEPPELIN ZEPPELIN ZEPPELIN. And picking one of their songs is pointless. They all slaughter me. But "Kashmir" has it all: strings, ren faire vibes, vague middle eastern touches, P Diddy tie-ins, R Plant vamping, and drums drums drums. Bonham lives.

10. Bethany Cosentino - Minnie Riperton’s "Loving You"
Bethany and I diverged on the path many times. Mostly it’s me worshipping at the altar of Bjork and her wanting to destroy that altar with torches. But for all our musical differences we would always converge in the funniest ways – Billy Joel, Mazzy Star, Hall & Oates, Mariah octave-climbing. However when it came time for mic checks and vocal warm-ups "Loving You" was our always our go-to. When I think about Bethany reaching the highest note in this chorus I laugh, I cry, I hurl. That is the Bethany majesty. Not to mention it’s a badass song with the amazing credo that "loving you is easy cause you’re beautiful." After the la-la-las, I’m spent.

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