“My Universe,” the cosmically funky debut by Lucid Child is a long-in-the-making labor of love by Jonah Gallon, the 44-year-old former singer/guitarist of the innovative electronic rock group Lango and the experimental trio Minds of Boggle.
It’s a sprawling, heavy, sonic acid-trip that fuses psychedelic rock, dark electronic grooves and distorted, lilting, muted vocals that immerses the listener into Gallon’s musical headspace. Beautifully odd, it’s a heck of a trip — like Primus and King Crimson having a dance party with Beck in orbit.
Gallon moved to Oregon in August 2016 with the specific purpose to make money to make music. But it was his recent battles with some chronic health issues — the aptly named groove pancreatitis — that motivated his resolve to finish the album that had been gestating for years in fits of stop-and-start living room recordings.
“Because I left my comfort zone and all the musicians I knew, I didn’t have the same pool to pull from,” Gallon said. “It just became more obvious that I was doing this by myself. I really loved what I created with what I did with those other bands and I did inventory on everything that we did and I just wanted to go that one step further.”
Emboldened with that galvanized sense of purpose, he used every resource he had — financial and personal — to create, record, print and promote his singular concept. The point being, if there’s a time to go all in, this is it. Like most musicians, Gallon’s earlier projects were peripheral priorities in his life; important, but not necessarily essential. This time, he was focused on making Lucid Child and “My Universe” his primary resolve instead of just riding a wave.
“I decided that I would invest in myself,” Gallon said. “When the music came together, I was able to see that I had a coherent vision. The fact that I had good credit and the fact that I was going to do it all by myself and that I was the only person involved, I got to make all the decisions so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
“I’m scared (expletive) that I have 600 LPs in my (expletive) house right now,” Gallon said. “Three hundred albums and 300 singles. I have no idea how to move them, but that’s what’s good about music: People can still find out about this album a year from now.”
(The album can be found on all major streaming sites like Spotify.)
Standout songs: The Gary Numan-meets-Spacehog prog-rock grunge of “Movie Life” and its bonkers guitar solo as well as “Bones,” which balances perilously between tar-thick density and the sublimely angelic. It's nuts.
Closer to home, the self-described “live-looping post-punk instrumental duo" Contranistas, featuring Dax Dominguez on guitar and synthesizer and Robert Morgan on drums, has released its first official single, “Xylanox,” on streaming services.
The song percolates with bubbling synth, bass and guitar that Dominguez loops in real time. Morgan’s drumming gives the song its structure, which Dominguez responds to, changing parts and adding and subtracting layers of loops along with Morgan’s shifting drum parts. It’s a delicate choreography between the two. Fans of Radiohead and New Order (and even Placebo) should give it a listen.
Recently the two were featured on “The Listening Party,” a new Bakersfield podcast that is a sub-series of host Emile Antonell’s main show, “Bakersfield Sounds.”
Focused on spotlighting local artists' latest releases, “The Listening Party” has also featured David Tetz discussing “Broken Hearts and False Starts,” his latest hip-hop EP as NineFingers, as well as new local indie-rock duo Make Mine Yours.
Consisting of husband and wife Geoffrey and Robyn Dyer (formerly of the band Liftonpoole), Make Mine Yours released its debut, “Sunshock,” which, much like Lucid Child’s “My Universe," was a passion project, masterminded, produced and engineered by Geoffrey Dyers in their home studio. It is a bold, impressive burst of Aries-level fire and brilliance.
The album runs the gamut with mid-1990s Built to Spill-ish Pacific Northwest post-grunge (my favorite song is “Great Big Garbage”), eerie country shuffle with pedal steel guitar solo (“The Greatest”), an honest, bruised confessional about fatherhood (the wistful “Not to Die”) and some “where the heck did that come from?!” band-in-a-can, Neil-Young-and-David-Byrne-meets-Beck (him again) catchy weirdness (the fantastic and bonkers “Let Me In”).
The two Dyers played the bulk of the instruments and shared vocal duties, with Robyn Dyer’s sweet, clear voice giving the songs she sings — and her husband’s sometimes stream-of-consciousness lyrics — a knowing gravity. She also painted the album’s striking cover art.
Special guests include Joey Stockman on lead guitar on “The Greatest” and Joey Romley on keyboards and vocal harmonies on “Last Night” and just harmonies on “Lice.” (Full disclosure: I played drums on six of the nine tracks as well as percussion.)
Both podcasts can be found under the “Bakersfield Sounds” banner, and while you’re at it, give some other local podcasts a listen. Like the gonzo “Sofa King” podcast (whose “Spanish Flu: the Ultimate Pandemic” episode from last June seems especially prescient now), the horror-centric “Not Your Final Girl” and “Nick Nicita and Friends,” where the former 2018 candidate for the 34th Assembly District interviews a variety of local entertainers.