Joey Aich is gearing up for the release of his next EP, If Money Grew on Trees. With the EP due out in a few weeks, he gives us a lastte taste of what to expect with “Meccas.”
Boasting a 90’s hip hop sound, Joey flexes his ability to keep it about the words. “Meccas” notably sounds influenced by Pabst & Jazz from one of Joey’s idols, Asher Roth. I can neither confirm or deny this statement despite my friendship with Joey, but wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
If Money Grew on Trees: March 30th
Minnesota-based songwriter Andy Cook crafts surprisingly poignant folk rock. His jangly musings are both earthy and cerebral, putting him on course for the pantheon of classic American songwriters. “Swirl”—a song reminiscent of Real Estate or Kurt Vile, is one of the many standouts from his forthcoming 22 minute EP Modern Man. The gorgeous tape echo-drenched, desert rock odyssey addresses the pressures and images surrounding us daily, and the desire to be “in” while still being individual.
When people in my life these days who didn’t know me during Sunset’s peak years find out that I have a blog, they often seem surprised. “Do you still write for it?” “How do you have the time?” I get these questions frequently, and for a long time now I’ve had to answer with an ashamed “no,” quick to follow up with praise for the amazing team of writers I have who do just about every bit of work for the site today. As I venture back into writing, I wanted to share some thoughts on where I’ve been since the days when I posted on here every day.
I’m a little scared to say this, but to be totally honest, for the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about shutting the whole operation down. I’ve written many a pros/cons list about it, but I’ve never been able to get the pros to outweigh the cons. Sure, it stresses me out when the site goes down and I haven’t the slightest idea how to get it back up. The cost of maintaining the site isn’t insignificant. And I haven’t been able to make time to write as I’ve been working really hard to build my career. But staring back at me from atop the list of cons is something that’s hard to put into words, let alone a bullet point: this site is a big piece of who I am, and frankly it’s a big piece of what got to me where I am.
So where am I?
Well, I don’t really want to bore you with a long, drawn-out story…yet. So here are a few bullet points about where I am, physically and mentally. Because if you’ve been a reader of this site, you know I’m not one to hide my feelings.
- I’m 30, living in San Francisco
- I’ve built a good career since moving out here. I’ve worked at a startup, at Google, at an ad tech company, and now at Pinterest, where I lead a team of 10 salespeople
- I’m a very proud aunt of 5 (soon to be 6!) little kiddos
- Nearly 8 years after losing my dad, I still struggle most days with the sadness that comes with losing a parent
- To cope with that, I’m investing a lot of time in myself. What does that mean? I spend the majority of my time outside of work running (just ran my first marathon this year!), reading, learning about a bunch of things that interest me (more to come in future posts), meditating, taking time to be grateful for a lot of things in my life, listening to music that I love – new and old, cheering on my sports teams and exploring places around the world
- And I’m feeling pretty ready to get back into writing
So maybe you haven’t been a reader of Sunset in the past. In that case, you may be surprised to see me talk about my real emotions. Yeah, it’s been 8 years and I’m still sad. No hiding that shit. But honestly, I wasn’t always that willing to openly talk about my feelings on here. I used to simply use this platform to write about music and what I heard. I didn’t include anything about what those songs made me feel or why. Until one day I’ll never forget.
I was having a conversation with my boss at my very first job out of college. He asked me about Sunset and my vision for it. After hearing my ambitions, he told me quite simply that he didn’t think I was going to be able to achieve them. Umm…what? My heart sank. Truthfully, I was offended. I was putting so much time and effort into this website and, just like that, he had the right to tell me it wasn’t going to work?
But I let him keep talking. He said that without injecting my own personality or emotions into the site, there was nothing to separate my blog from every other music blog on the Internet. I shared with him my fear of exposure, particularly as a female writer. He wasn’t entirely insensitive to that, as he understood that at the time it was a bit scary to put a picture of your face on the open web (I’m aging myself a bit here), but was able to convince me of the benefit of making your true self visible to the people you’re writing for.
Truthfully, it was a major turning point in my life. He was right. As soon as I put my personality into my writing, it began a conversation. I became connected to other writers, to readers, and perhaps most importantly to myself. Eventually, Sunset became about a lot more to me than just finding new music and writing about it. It became an outlet for me to share my feelings, which ranged from excitement to extreme sadness when returning to writing after my dad passed away in 2010. But the more I put out there, the more I heard back from people who were reading. People understood me, and on many occasions were able to sympathize and/or empathize with me, which got me through a lot of hard times. They celebrated with me when an artist I had been writing about began to “go viral.” They encouraged me to keep going, keep writing, and keep investing in the site.
When I interviewed for my first role at Pinterest, I remember being asked what I’m most proud of in my life. I loved that question, and it was an easy one for me to answer. Sunset. It’s something that I worked really hard to build. Among many other things, it taught me the importance of never giving up, of teaching myself new skills when I’ve felt challenged, and of investing time in myself and my own dreams, because even if they’re not what pays my bills, sometimes they’re everything I need outside of what pays the bills.
So as I’m sitting here in my apartment on a Sunday evening, reflecting on my weekend, my life, and where I am today, I realize that I owe it to myself to keep investing in this website and, in return, in myself. Because I’m pretty damn grateful for this website and all of the opportunities it has given me. It’s a part of me. And I hope it’s a small part of you. Or at the very least, that it’s been able to give you the smallest bit of joy, because at the end of the day, that’s what this thing is all about.
More to come from me later, but for now, will leave you with a short playlist of some of my favorite songs I’ve collected and written about over the past 9 years of writing for Sunset.
Hello, strangers! It has been a minute since I last posted, but in celebration of Sunset coming back from being down for a few weeks and [gasp!] finally being mobile friendly (I beg you, disregard the fact that I work in digital media and have had a non-mobile friendly website for the past 9 years), I am back! I am committing to writing a longer piece soon about where I’ve been, what I’ve gotten into, my thoughts on life, all that. But for now, I wanted to get back to my roots of introducing you to some music that’s moving me at the moment.
While I was out on a run this morning listening to a 60 Minutes Podcast (yes, I am old, and yes, I admit to listening to podcasts rather than music as I run now; again, more on that later when I share some thoughts on life), I was introduced to the Zomba Prison Project. Before continuing to read this, I recommend pressing play on the Spotify player below to get a taste of what this group sounds like. I was immediately captivated by the familiarity of the instrumentals and — despite my inability to understand one word — the soft nature of the vocals. Sure, the song titles of some tracks are a bit jarring, but without knowing anything more than what the music sounds like, I’d have had no idea what I was about to find out: this entire album is written and performed by a prisoners at a maximum security prison in Malawi.
The album was recorded and produced by Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan and his wife, who set out to travel the world in pursuit of talented artists. If I was a betting woman, I’d put my money on the fact that they were pleasantly surprised when they stumbled across the talent they found at Zomba Prison. Built in the 19th century and designed to hold 340 people, the prison is home to over two thousand Malawian prisoners, most of whom have been given life sentences.
When invited to create music, one woman volunteered and sang a song that displayed vulnerability and sadness of her situation. Following her lead, the floodgates opened, and many other prisoners volunteered to tell their stories via song. What resulted is a collection of stories I cannot translate, but that one can hear the beauty and a mix of sadness and hope in. As mentioned in 60 Minutes, these prisoners turn to music to find an escape, but as soon as the music stops, a harsh reality sets in.
In 2016, this album was nominated for a Grammy for Best World Music Album. While it didn’t win, the inmates at the Zomba Prison were given a cause for celebration. And if you allow yourself to let go of preconceived notions and recognize music for what it is — a universal language of unity — that’s a pretty beautiful thing.
Brooklyn, NY-based noise-rockers Russian Baths produce monstrous walls of chiming guitar ambience. One might assume these dense, aggressive tones would require the vocal chords of a screamo front man to penetrate, but in an utterly unique role reversal, we are gifted with the etheric musings of Jess Ress. The combination ends up sounding a little bit like Dolores O’Riordan fronting a Chapel Hill noise pop band, with a dash of 70s space rock for good measure.
Kendrick Lamar and SZA have joined forces for the first single off of the Black Panther soundtrack, All The Stars. It was previously confirmed that Kendrick would be producing the entire soundtrack for the film, releasing next month. Both artists also received grammy nominations for the forthcoming ceremony. Kendrick received six nominations while SZA received five, making her the most nominated woman. If this is a sign of whats to come we’re sure to be in for another great year in music.
Check it out below.