Colton Vibe – Songs of the Week – Nov. 12


This week’s vibe focuses on artists playing Desert Daze, being held Friday-Sunday at Lake Perris Recreational Area. (From left to right, Toro y Moi, The War on Drugs, A Place to Bury Strangers, Kamasi Washington, Ty Segall, Weyes Blood and Tim Heidecker, and The Black Angels)

The Desert Daze music festival touches down at Moreno Beach in Lake Perris this weekend for three days of indie rock and psychedelic revelry.

The festival got its start in 2012 in Joshua Tree, where entertainment group Moon Block Party hosted an 11-day event featuring over 120 artists. Since then, the festival has scaled back a bit (three days, 34 artists), and has changed venues to Moreno Beach at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, but the laid back, trippy vibes are still alive and well.

This week’s vibe highlights several of the artists playing this week, including headliners The War on Drugs, Kamasi Washington, and Toro y Moi.


Old Skin – The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs are built for road trips down long stretches of abandoned highway. Their music evokes the 1980s rock of Bruce Springsteen, but with a modern impressionistic approach to the lyrics. On “Old Skin,” from the band’s recent album “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” lead singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel reflects on choices, on “faded dreams,” on those moments we spend late nights sitting in dark rooms thinking about with headphones embracing our ears. And then, just as it feels despair might set in, the band kicks in with an anthemic chorus that brings with it hope.


Oh How We Drift Away – Tim Heidecker and Weyes Blood

Tim Heidecker is a comedian. Natalie Mering, leader of the indie band Weyes Blood, is devoted to upholding the values of 70s singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne. Together, they created a lush throwback album in 2020 called “Fear of Death,” which they are performing in its entirety at this year’s Desert Daze. This album is a terrific achievement—a meditation on aging and regret in the midst of the worldwide global pandemic that eschewed the political for the personal—and its best piece of music is the epic “Oh How We Drift Away,” which ends the album on Mering’s soulful voice, a gorgeous string arrangement, and some truly elegiac harmonies. This is a song I would play at my funeral.


Harmonizer – Ty Segall

Since issuing three album—three!—as part of his debut on the indie scene in 2012, Ty Segall has remained a prolific songwriter. Since 2012, he has released 13 full-length albums and a number of EPs. The guy is busy, to be sure. He’s also a down-and-dirty psych-rock guitar player, which he showcases on this title track from his 2021 album “Harmonizer.” Amidst the synth squalls and drum loops, Segall’s stark guitar squawks through, adding a sonic irony to the song’s title.


Everything Always Goes Wrong – A Place to Bury Strangers

With a sound inspired by 80s indie greats Jesus and Mary Chain and The Killing Joke, New York’s A Place to Bury Strangers is bringing their brand of rock to Desert Daze this year. They are touring a new album, “Rare Meat” from 2020, and while all that is terrific, there is no better entry point to their sound than 2009’s “Everything Always Goes Wrong” from their debut album “Exploding Head.” There is no more apt title for what this song does to you when listening. It’s a full-throttle dark rocker.


Will You Love Me Tomorrow – Kamasi Washington

Washington is a strange artist, even for Desert Daze, which makes him the perfect fit for Desert Daze. He’s a virtuoso jazz musician from Los Angeles, whose saxophone playing and incredible arrangements have elevated his profile in the music industry and earned him a number of awards. With “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” Washington rearranges the heartbreaking Carole King classic and finds the sweetness under the tears. Singer Patrice Quinn’s vocals soar over Washington’s sexy saxophone, and anyone who hears it will want this playing on date night.


Fading – Toro y Moi

Sunday night’s headliner, Toro y Moi, is in that Tame Impala school of chill psychedelic electronica. On “Fading,” from his 2019 album “Outer Peace,” he kicks up a stirring bassline upon which he layers woos and synth laser beams. It’s a song you could expect to hear in an iPhone commercial.


Young Men Dead – The Black Angels

You have probably heard “Young Men Dead” on a movie soundtrack. Maybe a beer commercial. It’s a dramatic rush of adrenaline once that guitar riff punches you in the face. Then when Black Angels’ lead singer Alex Maas stars wailing out his deadpan, Jim Morrison-inspired vocals, let the trance begin. And once the song breaks down in the middle, simmering to just the insistent bassline, it is as close as any modern rock band has come to recapturing the intensity of the Doors’ “The End,” or that Vietnam-era rock n roll nihilism. “We can’t live if we’re too afraid to die.”