9:27 a.m by Alex Z. Salinas

Alex z Salinas, Flash Fiction, Torch Songs

9:27 a.m.

By Alex Z. Salinas

It’s 9:27 a.m. and Larry Rios decides with a scorned lover’s swiftness that 9:27 a.m. is the most perilous of timestamps—because ten minutes after 9:27 a.m. it’s 9:37 a.m., which means it’s three minutes from 9:40 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. is only twenty minutes (or one-third of an hour) away from 10 a.m., and by 10 a.m. it’s one hour until 11 a.m.—so-called late morning, subsisting only for one hour, sixty minutes, 3,600 seconds—and then bam! Morning’s donezo, baby. See ya mañana. The birds’ll keep chirping, sure, but the chirping’ll hit differently. Larry consults his watch: 9:30 a.m.

Bio: Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections from Hekate Publishing: WARBLES (2019) and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (2020). His poems, short fiction and essays have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University.

Insomnia by BF Jones

B F Jones, Close To The Bone, Poetry, Torch Songs

B F Jones is French and lives in the UK. She has flash fiction and poetry in various UK and US online magazines.  Her poetry chapbook, Last Orders, and collection, Panic Attack, will both be published by Close To The Bone late 2021.



Night time companion

An overweight cat

Sitting on my chest

And settling

Next to my actual cat;

Both licking wounds

From existing

And imaginary fights

Falls from

Surprisingly high roofs, trees

And pedestals.

The rhythmical noise

Of their sharp, pink tongues

And the endless hum

Of their unfathomable purring

Keeping me from sleeping

As I run my fingers

Over and over

Through their abundant coats.

Choose Your Own Transgression by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry, Torch Songs

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated stalker.  She is a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Choose Your Own Transgression 

after Servant

Choose your own transgression— kidnapping with drugs,

the crimes you commit conflating with love. 

Discount earth quaking, bustle of bugs,

electrostatic discharges above,

around each time you speak in platitudes 

inside a brownstone of ineptitude. Cast 

fallen angels in attics to brood. 

God did this once.  Look what ensued. The past 

no professor, even your own. The split 

in your psyche is universally known

but kept from you, secret, illness permitted 

reign, mad monarch mortals lead to a throne.

Choose your transgression like a childhood book —

consequences writ by author you forsook. 

Two Poems By Dan Holt

Dan Holt, Music, Poetry, Torch Songs

Dan Holt is blues singer/songwriter/recording artist, poet and fiction author from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He has produced 11 albums of original music along with various singles and eps. Like most writers, his work has been published in various tiny online and print journals. After many years away from the poetry scene, Dan has returned to writing poetry in 2021.

Suicide With A Gun

Suicide with a gun

leaves no room

for turning back

No room

to turn the car off

No room

to open the garage

No room

to stick your finger

down your throat

No room

to call 911

There’s no

changing your mind

with a gun

You’re just


Something To Write

On the table

a blank piece of paper

On the paper

a pen

In the pen

black ink

Across the room

the wild eyed poet

sits on the edge of the couch

arms clasped around his knees

Not afraid

that he has nothing to write

Instead afraid

that he does

The Unreliable Narration of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound by Gabriel Hart/ And Then He Kissed Me by Stephanie Tisza

Gabriel Hart, Music, Phil Spector, Stephanie Tisza, Torch Songs

As we mourn the celebrities who shaped our generation slowly but surely dying off, it makes me wonder if we are also witnessing the death of celebrity itself. Demigods like Prince, David Bowie, and Lou Reed who can’t be replaced — not only due to their mold-breaking artistry, but because of the industries, PR machines, and social paradigms that made them are quickly succumbing to obsolescence. But when Phil Spector finally passed last month, his death was met largely with relief due to his cold-blooded killing of Lana Clarkson. But for me, there was so much more to unpack. My dear friend Stephanie Tisza texted me right away when the news broke — no surprise, as we both shared a specific place in our hearts for his music. Since we couldn’t stop talking, we decided to start writing a male/female perspective on his insidious legacy. Read on.


By Gabriel Hart

Like the nuclear age from when it was born, The Wall of Sound was pure radiation. Resonance. Historically umbilical as much it was biblical, a skewed gospel that redefined our perception of love’s coil, like a Slinky overextended from its rabid undercurrent of madness. Spector distilled a sound akin to a whole body-high that made you feel like you were actually coming out of your body. Tympani pounding like over-eager heartbeats, triggering butterflies in the stomach. Earworm melodies that kept you awake at night. Female harmonies with a ghostly, occult majesty — like how Gene Sculatti describes in the liners of that great Rhino Records girl-group box set when he says, “I don’t know about you, but when I listen… I feel like I can walk through walls.”

As a child of the eighties, I saw the 50s/60s resurgence, a black leather and hot pink renaissance with Sha-Na-Na, Happy Days, the Stray Cats, Cyndi Lauper’s Blue Angel, my favorite special occasion diner Ed Debevic’s in Los Angeles — these were my first impression of what it might have been like back then.

Now we know, that’s not at all what it was like.

Especially now that we know Making America Great Again refers to a time that never even existed. Nostalgia just isn’t nostalgia unless we put it through the meat-grinder of our selective memory, so who else would be the most imperfect, unreliable narrator for those unattainable halcyon days other than Phil Spector?

Overidealizing romance through his untouchable Wall of Sound, he threw everything and the kitchen sink into this monolith of aural ecstasy; compressed into two-minute morsels containing multitudes, dispatches from the prison of youth through lyrics you might find scribbled in the margins of a school paper. And just like that, he created the concept of teenager: a child in limbo, tragically misunderstood, whose only chance at redemption would be to fall in love.

And we’ve been trapped there ever since.

Until last January when Spector passed unceremoniously in prison, catching COVID-19 at the ripe age of 81 — the Tycoon of Teen who sought to preserve timelessness was dead from our most modern ailment we currently cannot even see past.

Since he created the teenage, could his death mean that spell he cast on all of us has been lifted? Let’s hang precarious on that a minute while I self-indulge.

Though his presence haunted me since childhood, the height of my Spector worship would converge in 2006/2007 when I decided I would form the ultimate band (even if confined to my ears) largely colored by his looming shadow. It would be a punk band for adults — a matured, well-dressed yet tattered take on the Wall of Sound I would call Jail Weddings: the perfect analogy for the conflicted “can’t live with her/can’t live without her” heartbreak I was navigating.

For whatever reason, all I could do was exclusively listen to the Ronnettes, the Crystals, and Gene Pitney to get me through it, to remind myself what romance was, that I would maybe find it again one day anew. I wanted to write music that would be salve for people the way Wall of Sound was for me while adding the liberation of the unchecked “why me?” scream to God, the beta-male lurch that hinged at violence even if it was just performative on stage. In other words, we wanted to give our audience the real, unfiltered Phil Spector experience — no more hiding behind bubblegum harmonies and the genius tag so you could get away with murder.

Oh, and it also looked like his time was just about up since his trial for the cold-blooded killing of Lana Clarkson had just begun, in chilling synch with the larvae stage of JW.

Our popularity mounted as his trial continued, adding a sensational sub-plot to the group that made our devotees (and occasionally my own band members) misunderstand my role as “the Phil Spector of the group” — a title I never asked for. While I would correct them, attempting to recontextualize my role as singer/songwriter who preferred leaving knob twisting to the experts, I also found myself subconsciously pushing everyone’s buttons. I maintained a state of disembodiment through copious amounts of drugs and alcohol and I encouraged the whole gang to indulge so we could be Los Angeles’ worst nightmare coming to roost. To whip it up into an even further frenzy, I was creating wild double-standards like firing our drummer for smoking crack while I was getting into onstage fistfights with our bass player for nodding off on heroin. They had every right to be confused, considering the ambiguous circus I had constructed; all the while I was staying wasted just so I could deal with our own hydra-headed serpent promptly eating its own tail.

I believe every single engineer/producer/front man in rock n’ roll has to wrestle with Spector’s slime oozing into our artistic DNA, derailing us in the name of (re)tired rock n’ roll. He created the unwavering rules, the excessive lifestyle, the my-way-or-the-highway tantrums, resulting in a flirt with death lurking beneath every resolving major chord — the toxic power structure which we all would subconsciously imitate. Like, I’m not sure if I was ever abusive to anyone as a result of falling into that role, but I’m positive I enabled our collective endangerment more times than I could ever count. And that whole not being sure thing leaves me feeling suspect under my own call to the stand (and maybe if I stay at that stand long enough, we can learn how and why our violin player drank a whole bottle of tequila to make it easier to break my nose the night before tour). But all these questions will likely go unanswered due to the adapted disconnect that comes with looking up to fiends like Phil or Kim Fowley or whoever is your preferred megalomaniac poster boy.

But a deeper, more disturbing question: Could Spector have proved the exalted artistry of the engineer/producer without ruling the studio — then his loved one’s personal lives — with an overzealous iron fist? It’s an elusive query to answer, since he was the architect. Sure, Shadow Morton, Jack Nitzsche, George Martin, and Brian Wilson were able to do it with more applied patience and out of the cage imagination (they all did it better, in my opinion) but Spector was their immediate inspiration. Would we even have those visionaries without that first homicidal maniac?

And that’s the most radiating element of Phil Spector, the way he triggers our very American cognitive dissonance: where we know something is bad, unhealthy for our psyche’s attention, but the next thing we know, we’re indulging them like narcotics personified, scrambling for excuses to support an industry who cares not whether we live or die. With this in mind, Spector fits on the same shelf as Charles Manson, Sid Vicious, Suge Knight, Robert Blake, OJ Simpson, William Burroughs, Don King, Ted Kaczynski (who, I may add, my co-author of this twin-essay had a close friendship with through his prison bars — another example on which we’d rest our case first-hand). These are all American men, touted as geniuses, propped up by money and legacy, whose homicidal instincts only added to their magnetic legends. It reeks as something indigenous to our country founded on genocide, triggering me to wonder if we are ever able to escape our abusive relationship with American heritage.

 It all applies as we bid farewell to Spector, another man we hated to love, a brittle love-starved I-hate-you-don’t-leave-me hypocrite of our national psychosis, one more Founding Father of pop-culture’s scorched Earth manifest destiny.


By Stephanie Tisza

Everything was red and black and out of focus. I was floating and slowly spinning in an iridescent, primordial cosmic goo. Teeny-tiny particles and swells of visible, vibrating sound surged, enveloped and echoed all around me and through me. I pointed upward and looked at a shadowy figure next to me:

“This is the Wall of Sound.”

Then I woke up. It was 9:02 a.m. in California, on Sunday, January 17, 2021. I looked at my phone and saw a text message from my mom in Chicago.

“Phil Spector died.”

The initial response from my coterie of discerning thirty and forty-something year old musician and writer peers – who also consume and create culture like only a former Napster teenager can – to the death of the revolutionary music producer is one of extraordinary relief mixed with sadness.

When David Bowie unexpectedly passed in 2016, many noted that it felt like one of their parents died. But the shimmering Thin White Duke pariah who beguiled us with galvanizing acts of gender transgression and glam rock was merely the ‘parent’ most of us would have chosen for ourselves if we had any control over the situation. Symbolically, Phil Spector and the aesthetic he created and disseminated is closer to reality.

Spector’s early and most enduring pop music had its genesis in the cultural permutation of the 1950s-1960s that saw young people drowning in sock hops and soda fountains while simultaneously being threatened with nuclear war for the first time. The good ol’ days of 1950s hyper-oppression of Women and Black and Brown communities were finally beginning to slowly dissolve and a quasi-existential mood usually reserved for classical arrangements and free jazz began to materialize in popular music. Lyrics became a little more reflective than say, Elvis’s “Hound Dog” or Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop.”

The first inkling of this at Spector’s creative direction was in 1958. The bleak and haunting “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” performed by The Teddy Bears and inspired by words on Spector’s suicide-victim father’s tombstone, spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Why can’t he see / How blind can he be / Why can’t he see that he was meant for me?” lead singer Annette Kleinbard desperately wails before inexplicably reassuring the listener, again and again, that “to know” her would-be suitor “is to love him.” She seems to latently suggest that he doesn’t necessarily give off a positive first impression. Perhaps he’s that kind of guy “you need to get to know;” the type who’s probably “really sweet when we’re alone,” right?

The outsider theme came up again a few years later with The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel”. Written by Gene Pitney and reimagined, recorded and produced by Spector, the song fittingly reached No. 1 in the middle of the Phallic Flexing Event that was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

“When he holds my hand, I’m so proud

‘Cause he’s not just one of the crowd

My baby’s always the one to try the things they’ve never done

And just because of that they say

He’s a rebel and he’ll never ever be any good”

Since the Byronic hero made its appearance in the cultural milieu of the early 1800s, we’ve had a mélange of interpretations of the brooding male figure who may or may not have the following character traits: arrogance, past trauma, nihilism, disrespect for authority, emotional moodiness, dark humor, self-destructive impulses, mysteriousness, and on and on. The taboo of loving who we aren’t supposed to love can be a powerful and attractive notion for those of us predisposed to basking in the warmth and smoking shotgun fury of adrenaline and dopamine. Spector sank his teeth right in. And as life imitates art, stories of his maniacal studio tendencies, like chasing artists around at gunpoint, began creeping to the surface, unsurprisingly adding more allure to the genius behind the mixing board.

Just how far are we to take “he doesn’t do what everybody else does”? What happens when the well-meaning person equates the rebel epithet and anthem to “she drank too much last night and slapped me” or “he has a little bit of a heroin problem but he goes to work every day?”

I’m aware the lyrical interpretations here may seem a bit of a stretch to the cynical and insensitive, but context changes when you consider them alongside Spector’s more overt, latter-day sins like the savagely ominous and totally unironic arrangement of Goffin-King’s, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)” or the Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration, “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On.” “Approach her you ape with your tail on / Once you have her, she’ll always be there,” Cohen sings.

What you must understand though, is that what Phil Spector managed to pull off was utterly brilliant and demented: perpetuated by his own troubled mind, he orchestrated a foreboding, high-stakes concept of desire that perpetuated impossible-to-achieve archetypes of masculinity and femininity, underpinned by demeaning, dime store definitions of what it means to love. And this riff was instantly learned and performed by Boomer teenagers everywhere who were reeling in the unbounded emotions of youth. Then they became adults.

I grew up with what I call hard-Boomer working class parents. We ate meat and potato TV dinners. Dad frequently came home drunk and started fights or fell asleep, it was a coin toss. I was placed in front of the television to watch Leave it to Beaver and Donna Reed. Mom dissociated from all emotions. Horror stories of helicopter air assault outfits in Khe Sanh were brought up frequently. I got away at 22 when I moved to LA.

Spector was on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson at the time. I’d lived many important moments in my life along to his music. I knew so deeply the joy espoused in “Then He Kissed Me” and the real life, scintillating push and pull of “(The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up.” Regularly on rotation at home and in popular films, Spector’s songs weren’t just background noise, they were words to live by.  

But I never had a face to the name until one day on television, I witnessed the persona that was Phil Spector. The blue tinted sunglasses. The massive Afro wig. Thronged by his lawyers on one side and his new wife, Rachelle Short, who didn’t look much older than me, on the other. I was instantly intrigued and instantly infatuated. I wished I was Rachelle Short. Equipped with tits and brains in equal measure, I would be the best wife ever to the aging, eccentric music producer. He could tell me stories about the 1960s that I was so sad to miss because I wasn’t born yet and I would be the first woman to really understand his cultural references and above all, mediate his neurosis. To pledge my allegiance to this cause, I attended a few days of his murder trial proceedings, making sure to sit on his side of the courtroom.

I tried in vain to make eye contact a few times but Spector had the shakes so badly, he didn’t really even seem all there. The defense was presenting their case that Clarkson was fragile and suicidal in the days leading up to her encounter with Spector. Despite Phil running outside and telling his driver, “I think I just shot her,” the defense claimed that Clarkson found one of Spector’s guns and committed suicide in his remote Alhambra castle that sits atop the highest hill around for miles.

“She’s got blood on her hands, gunshot residue on her hands, an intra-oral wound. Ninety-nine percent, it’s suicide,” forensic pathologist, Vincent DiMaio testified.

I remember, at the time, thinking that the defense’s case could have actually been the reality of how that night’s events progressed. Not because I thought it was the truth. Not because I didn’t want my object of idolatry to die in prison without his precious wig. I wasn’t conning myself. But because both narratives of what might have occurred on that night were relatable to me. The Reason Why came from the same place, and I knew it well. It was either, “I need this chaos in my life” or “I need this chaos in my life, but I am so exhausted, I’m ending it all right now.”

A few hours after his death settled in, I turned on Back to Mono. I spent days listening to the old hits. I woah-ho’d through a land of onlys, nevers, always, come on baby’s and I get down on my knees for you’s. I felt glad this pest from the past was gone.

“This is a symbolic death,” I told a friend.

“It’s liberating! Our 1960s idols are dying out! It’s our time now!”

I wish I could say elation was the only emotion I felt when I found out Phil Spector died, but it is untrue. I felt a pang of deep regret that I’d never written him the fan letter I’d always daydreamed of. What can I say? He kissed me in a way that I’d always been kissed before.


Gabriel Hart lives in California’s High Desert. He is the author of Virgins In Reverse/The Intrusion and A Return To Spring. His debut poetry collection Unsongs Vol. 1 (Close To the Bone) is out this April. He’s a monthly columnist for Lit Reactor and EconoClash Review. His punk rock Wall of Sound group Jail Weddings released their latest album Wilted Eden in 2019 but these days he wonders if music even exists anymore.

Stephanie Tisza is a multimedia artist and writer who lives in Joshua Tree, CA. Her work has appeared in VICE, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Dallas VideoFest, and many other museums and microcinemas around the planet. In 2015 she began her ongoing social practice performance, FORCED TO PLAY, in which she sells her ideas to Fortune 500 companies in exchange for capital. The performance will end when her student loan debt is paid in full.

Out NOW! Delete by Liz Davinci

Liz Davinci, Music, post punk, Torch Songs

The second single, “Delete“, from Liz Davinci‘s forthcoming album “Pax Victoria” has just been released.

The song is loosely about learning how to cope with inappropriate or negative behaviour disguising itself over social media platforms as “sharing”. 

You can listen to Delete here:

Liz is collaborating with several professional writers on her concept album “Pax Victoria“, including Paul D. Brazill, Mark McConville, Kate Laity, James Shaffer and Underhatchet.

Liz Davinci
Website:  http://www.lizdavinci.com
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/elizabethdavinci/Twitter:  https://mobile.twitter.com/liz_davinci
YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCdL2tbjQ3jP-BCBDfaw5tLgSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Ig4gDOSor8cwhOLxqjhvr?si=5qMNL0agRFuKLgqybGJQ2w
Reverb Nation:  https://www.reverbnation.com/elizabeth25
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.davinci940


Album Trailer #1: Contentment by Liz Davinci

Liz Davinci, Music, Noir, Torch Songs

Enter Victoria: Chapter 1 – Contentment

7am: Friday

Bus 262 slithers curved roads, determinately making its way to the city.  The roads are lined with Eucalyptus trees on both sides, birds are chirping. There are blue skies, the sun is just coming up and the temperature calls for a light jacket at 7am on this Friday.  

If you would zoom in on the woods, you would see countless dog-walkers and joggers enjoying a morning outing.  You would see wild bunnies and maybe even a fox or two.  

Inside the bus it’s full but only 3 people have to stand.  At this hour mainly business men and women make up the bus’ contents. In their dress-casual clothes, neat make-up and freshly shaven faces, nearly all of them are engulfed in their cellphones.  There are a few parents with children and one stroller driven by an exhausted mother.

The bus smells like Dunkin Donuts coffee and hums along further.

The winding roads are slowly replaced by straight ones and the trees by houses and then buildings, followed finally by grey skyscrapers as the bus nears its destination.

A woman dressed in black boots, black pants and a light pink blouse stands up, book still in hand, eyes glued to the book.  She manages to put on her jacket whilst reading and only closes the book briefly to get out of the bus at 7th Street, nearly the end of the line.

“Morning, Victoria,” the receptionist says to her as she enters the building around the corner from the 7th Street bus stop, and she begins her work day.


4:30pm: Friday

On her way home, Victoria waits at the 7th Street bus stop on the opposite side, ready to do the morning commute in reverse.  Her colleague, Lily, has joined her, so she can’t read her book, but Victoria was raised to have proper manners, so she chats with Lily.  

Unfortunately the conversation with her colleague goes from bad to worse when Victoria has to sit through the different names of the fish Lily took pictures of whilst scuba diving in Thailand.  Her mind begins to drift.

The commute feels longer than usual.  Victoria starts to think about her evening.

Finally back home, Victoria grabs her gown and make-up and heads over to the local bar/club, where she’ll eat some dinner before singing a set.  They always treat her to a meal when she sings and they even serve vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, or wheat-free dishes, if you’re into that kind of thing.


7pm: Friday

I’m sitting in a chair, staring at my reflection in a beaten up old mirror backstage and I look elegant.  Not that I shouldn’t – I’ve been getting made up and dressed up for the past hour here.  

It’s almost time to sing.  I’m not nervous – I kind of wish I was.  I miss those days. But I’ve done this gig so many times now.  It’s fun – I’m content with it.

“Victoria, you’re almost on!”  Stella shouts to me.

I smile at myself in the mirror as I stand up – at my long, black evening gown, hair pulled up, revealing browned, bare shoulders.  I heard that tonight’s show would be full.  

As I sing my set, some family friends will accompany me (the old guys from down the street).  They play fantastic back-up and I get to sing what I want – covers and jazz standards.  I’ll start with “I Can’t Get Started” tonight, for irony’s sake.  After the show I’ll go home to read.  I’m addicted to romance novels, unbeknownst to all.

I am not an isolationist (that’s what I tell myself).  I sing once or twice a month here and I talk to people at my office, where I work as a secretary, as well as my family of course.  My family silently wonders whether I am a lesbian (or at least it seems like they do), and they can’t understand why I crave solitude.  They almost never come watch me sing.

Maybe I am too picky but there is no one that pulls or interests me.  But my romance novels…that’s where my heroines and heroes exist.  Tonight I’ll pretend I’m singing for Siegfried, the latest hero in one of my books (things got really exciting with him on my bus ride this morning).  He’s strong and intriguing and the game will make singing more fun.

“Vicki, now!” Stella says, with slight irritation.  “I’m here – sorry,” I say and rush to enter the stage with the other musicians.

In the bright lights it’s hard to see the audience but I can tell that the hall is full to the brim.  I wonder who is here tonight. Maybe the city folk coming to see the up-and-coming rock band performing after me?  “Twisted Allies” is their name and they grew up in this town, which is why they even do this gig at all.

I get a little nervous.  I let the musicians know what song we’ll start with and we go to town.  Halfway through “I Can’t Get Started” I see a man in the audience who looks startlingly like Siegfried from my book.  I know what he looks like because he’s drawn on the book cover, with his big muscles and piercing blue eyes.  Sometimes I like to examine the book covers, studying every detail.

This Siegfried look-alike is at the bar and he is staring at me as I sing. His stare frightens me somehow.  I try to ignore it and make a plan to get out of this gig as soon as possible.  As intriguing as Siegfried is in my book, the prospect of any real contact with some Siegfried look-alike intimidates me, terrifies me.


8:45pm: Friday

Dashing out the back door into the cool night in a baseball cap, small polka-dotted scarf and an unglamourous oversized black jacket, I leave the loud, energetic songs of “Twisted Allies” to rev up the crowd inside.  I’m sure the “Siegfried Starer” has no interest in looking for me and I am just running and hiding for no good reason, but I’d like to get home.  I’ve got a book to read.

“Excuse me, miss…excuse me!”  I hear a voice calling out.  Surely that’s not meant for me.  “Victoria, wait!”  

I turn around to those piercing blue eyes.

Experimental post-punk project, Abrasive Trees release three-track debut

Abrasive Trees, Band Of Holy Joy, Indie, Jo Beth Young, Matthew Rochford, Music, Noir Songs, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Rise, Torch Songs

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Experimental post-punk project, Abrasive Trees have announced the release of a three-track single Bound For An Infinite Sea on Wise Queen Records/Shapta on Friday 4th September.

The title track, a driven, layered and atmospheric song with spectral, intricate guitars – sits alongside two more ambient, immersive tracks and features vintage drum-machines, acoustic drums recorded in a Victorian rectory and an array of acclaimed musicians.

Abrasive Treesis the solo project of Scottish-born guitarist and singer Matthew Rochford.  About the release he said:

 “These songs are a bit dark, but there’s also a positive energy behind them. In essence they are about the importance of staying compassionate – whatever the circumstances.  The title track is actually about witnessing suffering and finding a way to be empowered to do something meaningful in the face of sorrow.  There is so much intensity in this world and it can get a bit overwhelming can’t it?  I wrote and recorded these three songs amidst loss so there’s heartbreak, but also something hopeful and spiritual that I hope will connect with how others might be feeling right now.

“Creating music is simultaneously a release for me and an offering to those who feel that ‘just coping’ is a good day.  I think being a musician you learn the value of being in the moment and expressing what needs to be expressed. During this strange time, it’s especially important to me to stay present in a positive way and this single is part of that.

Matthew is a former member of Jo-Beth Young’s live and studio bands for RISE and Talitha Rise as well as being in the post-punk bands Council of Giants, The Impossible Moon and a recent Rothko collaborator.

The production features an line-up of collaborators including Jo Beth Young (RISE/Talitha Rise), Steven Hill (Evi Vine), Mark Parsons (Eat Lights Become Lights) and Matthew’s brother, Sebastian (Polar Bear/Pulled By Magnets).  The single was mixed and mastered by Mark Beazley (Rothko/The Band Of Holy Joy).

All three tracks are available on limited-edition cassette or CD or download from their bandcamp page on Friday 4th September as well as streaming via all the usual platforms.  A video to accompany the release (by visual artist Jess Wooler) will premier on the day prior to release.

Bio:  Abrasive Trees is the creative vehicle for the music of Matthew Rochford. 

Matthew was born in Aberdeen to Anglo-Indian/Anglo-Irish parents and has been playing guitar since he was a child. He’s a former member of Jo-Beth Young’s live and studio bands for RISE and Talitha Rise as well as being in the post-punk bands Council of Giants and The Impossible Moon. This year he has been recording for Mark Beazley’s Rothko and Jo Beth Young.


The approach is experimental and immersive and the sound could be described as spectral, layered and brooding with intricate, drone-drenched guitars.  The overall energy owes as much to post-punk as it does to ambient psychedelia, grunge or post-rock.

Strings, dulcimers, guitars that sound like old synths or sitars, voices in the distance and stories that take you somewhere. Esoteric bass, analogue drum machines and acoustic drums recorded in a Victorian house all help to forge the sound.

As well as writing the music, lyrics and producing, Matthew also sings, plays guitars, dulcimer, Ebow and programmes the analogue drum machine.

The debut single and video is scheduled for release September 2020 via Wise Queen Records with an album following in 2021.

An array of accomplished collaborators have contributed to the project so far, both live and in the studio:

Nadia Abdelaziz – Voice, Dulcimer

Ffion Atkinson (Johnny Powell and The Seasonal Beasts) – Voice

Mark Beazley (Rothko/Band of Holy Joy) – Electric Bass

​Laurence Collyer (Diamond Family Archive) – Shruti Box, Steel Guitar

Steven Hill (Evi Vine) – Guitars

​Jay Newton (Quiet Quiet Band)  – Keys

Mark Parsons (Eat Lights Become Lights) – Electric Bass

Ben Roberts (Evi Vine) – Cello

Seb Rochford (Polar Bear/Pulled By Magnets) – Drums

Peter Yates (Fields of The Nephilim) – Guitars

Jo-Beth Young (Talitha Rise/RISE/Yates & Young) – Voice, Guitars, Percussion, Tibetan Bowl, Recorder

Appearing on this single:

Steven Hill – Guitars

Mark Parsons – Electric Bass

Matthew Rochford – Vocals, Guitars, Drum Machine

Sebastian Rochford – Drums

Jo-Beth Young – Additional Voice

 Written and Produced by Matthew Rochford

Mixed and Mastered by Mark Beazley

Released by Wise Queen Records/Shapta

Publishing: Speegra


Joni Blue by Liz Davinci

Liz Davinci, Music, Punk Noir Magazine, Torch Songs


For the past 6 months an album has been coming together and it has developed from a handful of demos into a full-fledged concept album, promising innovative trailers and experimental songs.

The album is divided into five “stages” as the protagonist, Victoria, moves through different experiences.

The stages are, in order, “Contentment”, “Love”, “Love disappears”, “Revolution” and “Imprisonment”.

Talented crime fiction, noir and freelance writers such as Paul D. Brazill, Jim Shaffer, Mark McConville, Kate Laity and Underhatchet have prepared texts in line with these stages.

The album is planned to be a “happening” for the next 6 months as album trailers unfold and a few singles are released.

“Joni Blue“, releasing July 24, 2020, is the first glimpse of the album and belongs to the stage “Contentment”.

I hope you enjoy the first taste of what is to come.

Joni Blue

Liz Davinci

Contraband by Liz Davinci

Euro Noir, Indie, International Noir, Liz Davinci, Music, Noir, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Torch Songs

The song “Contraband” was originally called “Emergency”.

One of the songs originally planned for the EP “Contraband” stopped breathing about 85% of the way to being done and I needed to write a new one – an “emergency” song.

At first I didn’t want to give up on the originally intended song and it was a sad thing to eliminate it, but we did it.

I’m so glad I was honest with myself because “Contraband” was born and it’s a unique song that I really like.

It’s the only one of my songs that I completely made the beat for (and I am proud of the beat, but I prefer tapping Underhatchet’s expertise in this area).

“Contraband” is vocally/pianistically pretty much as close to an improvisation as it gets for me.  I just let the ideas flow linearly and used abstract lyrics to try to create a mood.  It went smoothly and I preserved almost all of the initial ideas in the final version.

I composed the bass line last and Underhatchet liked it so much on the demo that he wanted to play it on the final version.  In the video he is playing it on a bass guitar, though in the recording it is played on a keyboard.

liz davinci