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Stereo Embers’ Album Premiere: El Terrible’s Spit

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The year 2020 and the first half of 2021 was, by all accounts, a rough time for anyone who doesn’t own Amazon, Netflix, or Apple. We were all forced to stay home in order to not spread an invisible disease that took more American lives than all our wars combined since the Civil War. It also laid bare the limits and fragility of democracy and our ability to recognize truth from fiction.

Terry Ashkinos, also known as ‘El Terrible,’ used this time to write and collaborate with scores of isolated musicians, engineers, and producers to perform and record this 9-song collection of orphans entitled Spit.

“Spit refers to the budget, limitations, grit, and cooperation it took to finish this record in a time when no one could safely share an indoor space together. It also refers to the main vehicle by which COVID 19 travels in tiny particles from person to person,” says Terry.

El Terrible is a spin-off band from San Francisco’s Fake Your Own Death and the members were not able to meet up during any of these recordings as they were either quarantining in town or out of state. But through various home recording studios, as well as some vacant professional studios in San Francisco, Pacifica, Oakland, Portland, San Rafael, El Sobrante, and Los Angeles, they were able to communicate and collaborate on the songs Terry was writing during this time as a direct reflection to the health crisis, isolation, racial and gender awakening and unrest, democratic crisis, and misinformation campaign that we were all experiencing in 2020.

What Spit reveals is one particular perspective of life and death, and a reimagining of the world after a pandemic. Songs like “Shrug” triumphantly laugh at the notion of justice and an afterlife while lead single “Want” comes to terms with the more selfish aspects of ourselves.

Then there is “Live by the Scam,” which is a response to the Capitol riots of January 6th, and “Lifer” is a shout-out to all those artists out there who refuse to quit long after realizing they will never get paid.

Incidentally, Terry published an essay by the same title in an upcoming story collection coming out on Chronicle/Prism Books on May 25th titled The End of the Golden Gate, about San Francisco in the ‘90s.

On the LP there is also a glorious cover of The Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another” and a bonus track of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Nine Million Rainy Days.”

In the end, this is an old-school ‘album’ that moves from different voices and moods from song to song and can be listened to on a long drive out of the wasteland we are all trying to desperately escape from in the (hopefully) near future.

Purchase/Stream El Terrible’s music at Bandcamp:

Find out more about El Terrible: