• Mad Gleam Press

Smoke Cigarettes by Leche Malo

If you’re not from the Monterey Bay area, it’s easy to dismiss it as little more than a wealthy getaway — a resort town overshadowed by the beauty of Big Sur, home to Clint Eastwood and the bored troublemakers of Big Little Lies. But you’d also be missing out on one of the area’s best kept secrets: its vibrant, thriving independent music scene.

The cleverly named Hear & Now is a small YouTube channel which showcases the absurd talent found in this region. If one were to look only at the work coming from this channel, one might assume a much higher viewer base than, say, 200+ subscribers. But that’s the reality: this region, when it comes to independent art, is deeply underserved. More often than not, the only art that makes it out is that which is funded by the wealthy hands which seem to dictate the cultural atmosphere.

But not so. The independent music scene, particularly of the Monterey area, is rich, varied, and more than anything else, absolutely original.

Enter Leche Malo, project and stage name of one Vincent Randazzo. Leche Malo has been an integral part of Monterey’s independent music scene since its explosive resurgence around 2012 or so. As a founding member of local favorite, Moses Nose, Leche Malo has consistently contributed to the lifestream of Monterey’s music.

There's a kind of absurdist genuineness that defines the independent art/folk rock world, post 2012, that Neutral Milk Hotel likely prophesied. Leche Malo seems to embrace this genuineness, and ultimately perfects it. One can't help but feel there is a planet of tears here that is always giggling: almost a childlike wonder that defies an otherwise adult world entrenched in its own straight-laced absolutes. Perhaps it was awakened by the more obscure work of SLUTS, albeit problematically named. Or maybe it was the "New Sincerity" of Derek Housh's video art work (himself having spent a few years living among Monterey artists), especially in relation to his Portland based post-punk band, On Drugs. Either way, there is an honesty within Leche Malo's work that sits somewhere between the comfortable dreaminess of contemporary indie-pop, and the discomfort of an almost agonizing apocalyptic world that is falling apart even more than, say, W. B. Yeats could have ever dreamed. While Lana Del Rey is pumping out radio hits in this vein, Malo is constructing something else that attempts to go further inside itself than just that.

Their new music video, "Smoke Cigarettes," featuring the equally talented local Chelsea Riddle, really captures this battle quite well. In this case, it surrounds not only an attempt to give up bad vices, but also to actually learn how to take oneself seriously. One can't help but think of Cigarette Duet by Princess Chelsea. "Smoke Cigarettes" is just as much of an earworm, and, I'd argue, even more emotionally complicated.

"Smoke Cigarettes" is Leche Malo's second music video, after Window Shopping. It comes just before the release of their most recent single, "October Themed," brought to us by L.A. based label, Anxiety Blanket Records, which is set to be released on October 16th. Look forward to an interview with Leche Malo at that time as well.

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