Layne Staley's mom sings "Wake Up"

You read that right.

Layne Staley's mom sings "Wake Up"
Mixwiththemasters, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Hey everyone,

So much has happened this past week with probably the biggest news being the loss of musician/engineer/provocateur Steve Albini at the age of 61. Albini’s death sent shockwaves throughout the music community with his untimely passing from a heart attack at his home in Chicago last week. An accomplished musician himself, he was perhaps best known for his no-bullshit approach to recording some of the best albums of the last 30 years. To read more about him and his accomplishments, you’ll find two worthy links in the news section below, one of which was written by my favorite music journalist, the great Amanda Petrusich.

Another big loss was the death of Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, the drummer and last surviving member of Detroit’s MC5. It’s hard to believe all those guys are gone now.

This week’s playlist has some great new music on it—new Kings Of Leon kicks ass—but also a few selections tied to both Steve Albini and MC5.

I hope that moms everywhere had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and in honor of moms everywhere, I have to share this clip I found on TikTok of Layne Staley’s MOM singing “Wake Up.” Yes, you read that right. She’s singing along to the song with Layne’s vocals, but you can still make out her voice and it’s crazy how much they sound alike.

There’s a lot to cover in this issue, so without further delay, let’s get it on.

Ground control to reader: Take your protein pills. Put your helmet on. This newsletter ain’t gonna read itself.


Now through November 23rd one of my favorite bands, Local Natives, are on tour, gracing cities across the U.S. with their unique blend of what Flood Magazine calls “upbeat-yet-melancholy alt-pop.” Check tour dates here and stream their gorgeous new album, “But I’ll Wait For You” here.


Zappagram #107 featuring: Kings Of Leon, Adam Spry, Golden Blue, MC5, Pixies, PJ Harvey, Nirvana, Low, The Jesus Lizard, and Cloud Nothings.

Listen to Zappagram #107 on Spotify or Apple Music.

Zappagram master playlist (all music from past) on Spotify or Apple Music.


» For more on the musical force that was Steve Albini read the Rolling Stone tribute, “The Unstoppable Noise That Was Steve Albini” and to read the greatest music journalist working today, check out Amanda Petrusich’s postscript, “The Beautiful Rawness of Steve Albini published in The New Yorker.” #

» Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, the longtime drummer of the iconic Detroit proto-punk band MC5 who earned his nickname due to his rapidfire drum style and its militant rat-tat-tat sound, has died, the Detroit Free Press reports. #

» In more sad news, Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson was placed in a court-ordered conservatorship that will be run by his longtime publicist and manager, Jean Sievers, and his longtime business manager, LeeAnn Hard. The reps revealed in a petition filed last February that Wilson is suffering from dementia at the age of 81. #

» It isn’t often that Apple so badly misses the mark as they did this past week when they released a commercial for the new iPad Pro. Basically, they stacked a ton of creative materials on a hydraulic press and crushed them—pianos, horns, works of art, recording consoles, cameras, sculptures, paint, books, guitars—and when the press lifts, there’s the new iPad Pro. People were not pleased and now Apple has issued a formal apology even though the ad is still running. #

» Bruce Springsteen’s seminal 1984 album Born in the U.S.A. is receiving a special 40th anniversary vinyl re-release on June 14th. Arriving via Sony Music, the 40th anniversary special edition release will feature newly-colored vinyl and expanded packaging — the LP is colored in a translucent red, and the gatefold sleeve features an exclusive booklet with archival material from the era, newly-penned liner notes from Springsteen archivist Erik Flannigan, and a four-color lithograph. Pre-orders are ongoing. #

» Ah, corporate greed at its finest. Spotify’s upcoming changes to its subscription tiers will allow the streaming service to use a new royalty model that drastically impacts songwriter payouts. In a new Billboard report, music publishing reporter Kristin Robinson estimates songwriters will be paid about $150 million less during the first 12 months of its implementation in comparison to the previous model. #

» A number of legendary Los Angeles punk rockers appeared on the Tuesday (May 7th) episode of the new Netflix show John Mulaney Presents Everybody’s in L.A. Members of Fear, X, Minutemen, Germs, and more were featured in an “Old Punks” focus group hosted by Fred Armisen. #

» Brit Floyd, billed as “The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Experience,” are embarking on an extensive 2024 North American tour. At several of the shows, the tribute act will be joined onstage by keyboardist Harry Waters, son of founding Pink Floyd singer-bassist Roger Waters. Check tour dates here. #


The new Kings Of Leon album is some of their best work in years. # What the hell is going on at Drake’s house? # Cass Elliot did not die choking on a ham sandwich. # Johnny Marr and James have announced a joint tour of North America, starting at the end of summer. # Nirvana have paid tribute to Steve Albini by sharing the four-page letter he sent the band before agreeing to record their beloved final studio album, In Utero. # Bad Brains’ legendary third album, 1986’s I Against I, is getting reissued on vinyl, CD, cassette, and digital formats on July 26th.


» Fantastic Conan interview with Steve Albini.

» Lolla tralier is now out. Looks worth watching.

» Check out Songletter here on Substack for a great weekly music recommendation every Tuesday and Thursday.


  • Angus & Julia Stone: Cape Forestier
  • Dehd: Poetry
  • Incubus: Morning View XXIII
  • Keane: Hopes and Fears (20th Anniversary Edition)
  • Kings of Leon: Can We Please Have Fun
  • Orville Peck: Stampede Vol. 1
  • Rainbow Kitten Surprise: Love Hate Music Box
  • Shannon and the Clams: The Moon is in the Wrong Place
  • Victoria Bigelow: Songs For No One Vol. 2 EP


MAY 17

  • Ani DiFranco: Unprecedented Sh!t
  • The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers
  • Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown
  • Billie Eilish: Hit Me Hard and Soft
  • Blitzen Trapper: 100’s of 1000’s, Millions of Billions
  • The Mavericks: Moon & Stars
  • Of Montreal: Lady on the Cusp
  • Pink Floyd: Animals 2018 Dolby Atmos Remix

MAY 24

  • Andrew Bird Trio: Sunday Morning Put-On
  • Bess Atwell: Light Sleeper
  • David Bowie: Diamond Dogs (Vinyl Reissue)
  • Kim Richey: Every New Beginning
  • Lenny Kravitz: Blue Electric Light

MAY 31

  • Bat for Lashes: The Dream of Delphi
  • Crowded House: Gravity Stairs
  • The Marías: Submarine
  • Maya Hawke: Chaos Angel
  • Odesza: The Last Goodbye Tour Live
  • Richard Hawley: In This City They Call You Love
  • Willie Nelson: The Border


  • Bathe Alone: I Don’t Do Humidity
  • Bonny Light Horseman: Keep Me On Your Mind/See You Free
  • Eels: Eels Time!
  • Jimmy Buffett: Living and Dying in 3/4 Time (Vinyl Reissue)
  • The Mysterines: Afraid of Tomorrows
  • Pedro the Lion: Santa Cruz
  • Slow Joy: Mi Amigo Slow Joy EP
  • Strand of Oaks: Miracle Focus


  • David Bowie: Rock ‘n’ Roll Star! (Box Set)
  • The Decemberists: As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again
  • Hermanos Gutiérrez: Cósmico
  • James Vincent McMorrow: Wide Open, Horses
  • John Cale: Poptical Illusion
  • Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs: Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits
  • Moby: always centered at night
  • Paul McCartney & Wings: One Hand Clapping


MAY 13 // Birthdays: Ritchie Valens (1941) • Mary Wells (1943) • Magic Dick, harmonica, with American rock band The J Geils Band (1945) • Stevie Wonder (1950) • Alison Goldfrapp (1966) • Darius Rucker (1966) • Brian Patrick Carroll, a.k.a. Buckethead (1969) • Donald “Duck” Dunn, bassist with Booker T and the MG's died in his sleep after playing a show at the Blue Note night club in Tokyo the night before. (2012)

MAY 14 // Birthdays: Bobby Darin (1936) • Jack Bruce of Cream (1943) • Gene Cornish of The Rascals (1946) • David Byrne (1952) • Ian Astbury of The Cult (1962) • Mike Inez, bassist of Alice In Chains (1966) • Producer/multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin (1969) • Dan Auerbach (1979) • DJ/producer Martin Garrix (1996) • Frank Sinatra died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, aged 82, after suffering a heart attack. (1998) • Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist B.B. King died in his sleep, aged 89, after suffering a series of strokes caused by type 2 diabetes. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time. (2015)

MAY 15 // English musician, composer, record producer Brian Eno was born in Suffolk, England. (1948) ♯ Ahmet Zappa was born in Los Angeles. (1974) ♯ June Carter Cash died in Nashville of complications following heart surgery, aged 73. (2003)

MAY 16 // Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic, was born in Compton, California. (1965) ♯ Jonathan Richman of The Modern Lovers was born in Natick, Massachusetts. (1951) Ronnie James Dio died after a six-month battle with cancer. (2010) The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds. (1966)

MAY 17 // Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania. (1965) ♯ Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was born in Joshua Tree, California. (1973) ♯ A fire destroyed Tom Petty's house in Los Angeles. (1987) ♯ Daft Punk released Random Access Memories. (2013)

MAY 18 // Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was born in Akron, Ohio. (1950) ♯ Ian Curtis of Joy Division hung himself in the kitchen of his house in Macclesfield, England at the age of 23. At the time of his death, Curtis had Iggy Pop’s album The Idiot playing on his stereo. (1980) ♯ Chris Cornell died by suicide in Detroit, Michigan. (2017)

MAY 19 // Phil Rudd, drummer for AC/DC was born in Melbourne, Australia. (1954) ♯ Joey Ramone was born in Queens, New York. (1951) ♯ Keith Richards crashed his car after falling asleep behind the wheel. (1976) ♯ Ringo Starr was involved in a car crash less than half a mile from where Marc Bolan was killed in a crash three years earlier. (1980) Note: Maybe rock stars should avoid driving entirely on May 19?


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May all your albums play without any skips,

-CZ 🤘🏻🖤