Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Saturday Nite Special: Lip Synch and Future America @ Spaceland this Saturday May 26, 2007

Yes, I know this is a bit unusual. But the Lip-Synch show is only once a year, and more people should know about it anyways.

I'm pushing the music part to the show, Future America, who I will be going to see. This local two piece of bass and drums play heavy distorted noise with catchy beats. While the lyrics can be quite irreverent at times, they also can be quite catchy ("Hey, you wanna go to Tijuana? Hell yeah."). The humorous undertones and bar-style singing remind me of The Slats. So go listen to them on their myspace page and swing by Saturday at Spaceland to check them out. Anyways, it will be a good show all around to catch. Not to mention the scores of people who will make asses out of themselves. Hell yeah.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Random Acts: Hearts of Palm U.K. @ Hang the DJs/ the Echo and Priestbird @ the Smell May 19, 2007

So my original plans for the evening kinda got botched a bit due to poor planning and general laziness. However, the Echo was having this event:

Which seemed like fun. I like free stuff. Also, I heard (from here) that this band Pit Er Pat, who are produced by the Sea and Cake's John McEntire, were playing at the Smell. The end result being to make the best of it with my gal pals.

Ok, I can now give an honest review of Hearts of Palm U.K. Seeing as they were the first band to play the Echo party. They did have to compete with a movie that the club was projecting over them. I have no clue what it was, just that it had subtitles and I clearly remember reading: "You can't take away my chastity in a cesspool like this". Regardless, they were actually really good this time around. I still agree with my first impression of being poppy, electronic girl folk music. Maybe not the best description but that seems to fit right with me. It was the two girls up until the end of the set and then for the last 3 songs they had a cellist accompany them. They did two covers tonight, Faith by George Michael, really- it was funny cause the 3 of us were singing along to it. I think I liked that song when I was 6 or 7. And then they did the Bryan Ferry song again. The songs seem cute by them, and when they play, it reminds me of being in high school and watching your friends get up and play in front of everyone on talent day or something. They just seem slightly uncomfortable when they are playing. One did play a triangle though, that really brought me back to high school.

Hearts of Palm UK were the only band we stayed for although the DJ sets (both inside and out in the back) were pretty fun. They did play two Ladytron songs almost in a row though, and at that point we saw fit to get a move on over to the Smell.

The trip to the Smell seemed to follow along the same lines of this being a crazy mixed up day. I don't go to the club very often (see here) but even so, the schedule seemed to run on time to a point. Tonight however they were either running really really late, or the line up I read was wrong. We got there during the middle of a one woman set. Although she was much up for audience participation. Unfortunately, she picked the one guy who couldn't shake the shakey musical instrument in time. Ah well. It was pleasant enough but we wandered back into the front of the place to sit. I figured since it was going on quarter to 12, the next band up had to be Pit Er Pat. Uh, no, not actually. The next band, Priestbird, had a small audience pooled around the stage who, after the first blaring notes, were quite ready to rock. It was such an odd set up, the singer had a double neck guitar (guitar and bass I believe), there was a cellist (what's up with that tonight) who also played keys, and a drummer who had a gong. No really, a gong. I think the last time I was anywhere where there was a gong, it was at the Hollywood Bowl, and they were playing classical music. My first thought immediately was to write them off as noise. However, as they progressed through their set, there was a definite melody present that wasn't as offensive as I first thought. Eventually I decided that there was some structure to what they were doing and in the end realized it wasn't that bad.

Tiredness struck though, and since I was the driver I decided that tonight was not the night I would be seeing Pit Er Pat. I guess all things Sea and Cake were just not meant to be tonight.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Meant to Be: Agent Ribbons, Hearts of Palm U.K. @ the Silver Lake Lounge May 17, 2007

May is looking to be the busiest show going month in a long time for me. Unexpectedly, as if possibly by fate even, I was able to fit in another show this week. It started in the a.m. on my occasional commute from the east side to the west side for work. Stuck in traffic on the 10 I decided NPR wasn't cutting it and switched it over to KXLU cause I had only just remembered that it was Thursday, and on Thursday from 6 to 10 is McCallister's Hostile Makeover. An incredibly awesome radio music show that happened to be the first place several years ago that I was introduced to bands like Irving and the Sharp Ease (r.i.p.). Anyhoo- I switched over and this cute song was playing, and there was this girl's voice belting out "Don't touch me..." among other lyrics and it instantly got stuck in my head. Scenario two: leaving work KXLU was still on (this is actually a rare occurrence that the radio is on instead of a cd playing) and again I recognized the lyrics that I had heard much earlier in the day however this time they were live, in the studio. All this time I kept missing the name of the band, but I did hear "Silver Lake Lounge" and "tonight", which piqued my interest.

Fast forward a few hours and I found myself at the Silver Lake Lounge, finally able to place the "Salvation" bulb sign that I've seen in local live concert photos- I've never been here before.

When we got there, local band Hearts of Palm UK were on stage. I've seen this band name posted all over the place, I'm assuming they're quite popular around these parts but this was the first time I've ever seen them live. They're a duo- two girls with lots of instruments. My notes from last night read "light-folky girl pop, with keyboards". This review can't really do them justice, partially because I got caught up in a conversation and my attention wandered elsewhere, until they closed their set with, I'm pretty sure, a cover of Bryan Ferry's 'More Than This'. That's always entertaining.

So this band that I kept hearing all day... they're called Agent Ribbons, and hail from Sacramento. They were adorable, but they also looked like if you tried to mess with them they'd fuck you up. The line up consisted of two gals, one sang and played guitar and the other played the drums and at one point jumped on an accordion (which somehow became the cool new instrument. I should tell my sister, she played one for years). The music was bluesy-garage-girl pop, and the singers voice reminded me of the girl from Pony Up! and someone else that I can't remember for the life of me and has been driving me crazy since last night; very crackly and deep. There was something very crafty about the two of them; one might expect them to live in a giant pink Victorian house somewhere with a pet pig. When they played they would look back on each other and smile or giggle, like they had some secret they were trying to keep from the audience.

Anyways, they were enjoyable to watch and played the songs I had heard earlier (Don't Touch Me, Birds & Bees) as well as others from the album and some not from the album. It turned out I was the only one in the audience who had heard them perform on KXLU. But really, that station is iffy once you get on the east side. Oh, and if you order an album from them, they'll send you cute things in the mail with it. So do it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Get Your Happy On: Kind Hearts and Coronets and Bodies of Water @ the Echo May 14, 2007

Check list for a ludicrously happy show:

  • Your headlining bands need at least 8 people. Check.
  • Lots of keyboards, everywhere. Check.
  • You find yourself clapping along to the songs. Check.
  • Funny instruments. Does a kazoo count? Yes. Ok then, check.
And so it was, the second residency night for Bodies of Water over at the Echo. I headed over tonight because there was lots of good hype about this band Kind Hearts and Coronets. I had listened to some of their music and was quite pleased so once again I begged for a designated driver and off we went.

We walked into the pit of the happiest sounding music I think I've ever heard. And then... the band pulled out a kazoo. My head was on the verge of splitting in two from the retarded grin on my face. Unfortunately it was their last song. So, I cannot say really anything about the rest of their music. Nor can I say which band this was, because the 3 guys on stage (oh! and I forgot to mention that the drummer looked even happier than ME. Which was shocking, but whatever.) do not fit the description of either Frankel or Listing Ship. So....

Kind Hearts and Coronets was just as super happy fun as I was told they were going to be. Like, giddy fun. And CHRIST there was a lot of them. Eight in total I believe. There was the requisite keyboards and a horn and guitars and people singing.. and.. and.. Anyways, they had this 'big' sound that reminded me very much of layered 60's psychedelic pop music, but with some folk thrown in. They're a bit more wild live than their recorded songs. However, both live and recorded you can't help but hum along. And grin, don't forget the grinning part.

Ok. What else can I say about Bodies of Water? Well, tonight was the most people on stage I've seen before. NINE. They had an additional guitarist, which would make: 2 guitars, a keyboard, two trombones, a bass, a viola, and 2 percussionists. And they sounded as great as ever. I don't believe they played anything new, at least for me. The usual though: Doves, Eyes, Friends, Co-existors, Hey Joe... and more I'm forgetting. Next time I'll just ask for the set list... it was right in front of me. They have two more Monday Residencies at the Echo. Next week should be good too, The Parson Red Heads are playing with them. If you haven't seen BoW play yet, regardless of all the gushing praise I give them, I'd suggest one of these nights. And it's free, although it's on a Monday night. Buck it up!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yellow Dandelion Boy: Nasty Millionaire @ the M Bar May 12, 2007

Remember in my last post where I made fun of projections? Well, now I'm saying the complete opposite. The thing is, if you're going to have visuals while you play, make them interesting. Like shots from Knight Rider, or weird opticals, or even strange Evangelical church scenes. Just make something that holds my attention and not by disgust. Tonight I headed down to a rare hip hop show at the M Bar, where I usually only go to see comedy shows., in fact, I didn't know they even did music here. I was there for only one act, Nasty Millionaire.

A nondescript guy stands there in t-shirt and jeans, another is hunched over donning a sport coat and sweatband around is head, and hiding down off the stage is a guy with a computer. Combined they remind me of the crowd I would run into at an east side bar. However, once the beats start, the two on stage spring to life jumping about the stage with an incredible amount of energy. The beats stick with you and you can't help but keep time with your foot or head or straw, whatever. While one sings and starts the recorded beats, another plays bass live and behind them are the most bizarre projections, just look at the photos. The whole set entertains, while not trying to be preachy or too over the top like some hip hop shows.

While many of the lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek, there are moments that exist with small glimpses into what is really fueling these songs: boredom, heartache, drugs, and, well, Los Angeles itself. Oh, and if you want a copy of his cd, go to his myspace page and he'll drive to your house and give you one. Fun times.
(photos thanks to Capcom J)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Please Stop Screaming in My Ear: Kristin Hersh, the McCarricks, and Dolorean @ the El Rey May 9, 2007

I'm not sure how it is that 1. I've never been to the El Rey 2. I've never even noticed its presence along Wilshire Blvd, even when a friend of mine briefly lived two blocks east of the place 3. I was able to hold my head up for almost 4 hours this night. Suffering from a severe lack of sleep and a sushi-induced food coma, myself and a friend stumbled into a time warp of velvet and 'crystal' from an era long ago. I'm not completely knowledgeable about the El Rey and its historical aspects, but it sure looked pretty inside. Unfortunately these brief moments before the show were going to be the only happy moments for a couple hours until Kristin Hersh came on.

I tried. I wanted to root for this opening band, Dolorean, from Portland. They were along the lines of alt-country, maybe Wilco or something a bit more folk-y. Except, they had a tendency to drone on a bit, even when the singer would stop and talk. One thing though that really got to me was that the guitarist kept switching between his electric guitar and a slide guitar, which meant he was up and down and up and down and wasting time. Perhaps if I wasn't so close to wanting to close my eyes, I would have enjoyed this set as a very mellow one, but tonight was not the night.

Second up was the McCarricks, who are the string section touring with Hersh right now. The girl plays the violin and the guy plays the cello. They are either husband and wife or brother and sister, I forget. I was mildly interested in seeing them because a friend of mine RAVED on about them when he saw Hersh and tour in NY a few weeks back. Their set up is this: they face each other on stage while a backdrop between them plays 6-7 minute mini movies that they play over with an electronic prerecorded soundtrack accompanying them. The concept is kinda cool, because some people cannot sit and watch classical instruments, regardless of how up tempo they are. However, the dark ambient music they produced was hindered by the amateurish movies. Art school films have better production values than these. I found myself cringing and just resigned to closing my eyes till it was over, thank god we had seats.

Kristin Hersh is an excellent performer. She needs to stop having such awful opening bands.

Well, by the time that Kristin Hersh came on I was slightly irritated by the earlier performances and also by this one woman who sat next to me and was actually enjoying the show. Really enjoying the show. Do you ever wonder where all those loud woops and woo-hoos come from at a show? This is the woman, I've found her. She also didn't seem to care that she was screaming in my ear the whole time. With all that aside though, Hersh's set was really enjoyable. She played many songs off the new album, Learn to Sing Like a Star, and also did some older tunes, like Your Ghost. Actually, thanks to Tim and the internet, here's the whole set list:
01. intro
02. Wild Vanilla - Learn to sing...
03. Day Glo - Learn to sing...
04. Nerve Endings - Learn to sing...
05. Under The Gun - Learn to sing...
06. In Shock - Learn to sing...
07. Gazebo Tree - Strange Angels (late 90's)
08. Your Dirty Answer - Sunny Border Blue (early 2000's)
09. Winter - Learn to sing...
10. The Cuckoo - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
11. Your Ghost- Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
12. Sugarbaby - Learn to sing...
13. Listerine - Sunny Border Blue (early 2000's - lyrics reflect breakup of muses)
14. The Thin Man - Learn to sing...
15. White Bikini Sand - Muses album Limbo 97? hidden track
16. encore break
17. Me And My Charms - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
18. The Letter - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album: never performs live)
19. Hook In Her Head - Muses Album Real Ramona, last album with tanya 92ish)

Her band was the guys from 50 Foot Wave and the McCarricks, who fell in very well with this set. Hersh is very hypnotic to watch, and not just because I was ready to pass out with sleepiness. She gently sways while she sings, lulling her audience while she sings of pain and loneliness and dark things, while at the same time smoothing it over with a sweet voice. I've always found her interesting to watch because of these qualities, even when she is screaming into the microphone it's somehow easy to take in.

Sometime after midnight the show came to a close. My eyes were on the verge of permanently shutting, but inside I was glad I was able to catch the show. Hersh comes from my old neck of the woods, so seeing her always brings up memories of the east coast music scene. It also reminds me of snow, which I why I'll never go back.

Friday, May 11, 2007

An Interesting Night of Music: the Monolators, Repeater, Amateurs, and Shiloe @ the Scene May 8, 2007

Tonight's show was attended because Radio Free Silver Lake suggested it as a line up of interesting bands (Oh, and I happened to like the Monolators anyway). So I headed on up to Glendale and by the end of the night found myself quite pleased with the show, and slightly tipsy too.

Shiloe went on first, to a very sparse crowd, and I found myself wondering if they were a Sonic Youth cover band- the lead singer even sounded like Moore. Except, after few songs in I realized that they weren't playing covers. I have nothing unkind words to say about them. Their music was fun to listen to and they weren't bad to watch. I did pay more attention to the game of pool I was playing towards the end of their set, however, I'd give them a second go see if they're playing around here again.

The second band up, Amateurs, I found myself pretty impressed with. They had dual guitars and a girl on the violin, but not in that weird way. They were a mix of 70's glam rock, jam and dreamy indie pop but were able to pull it off as a nice blend of all three without sounding disjointed and choppy. I wish they would have turned the violin up a bit more (on the album it compliments the guitars really well), but alas, it's the Scene after all. Oh, and they were all really nice to talk to as well.

Repeater was third. I feel like I've heard this name thrown around before, but I could be mistaking them for someone else. However, their music also sounded like stuff I'd heard before, so I wasn't so impressed. It was kinda light indie pop with some electronic thrown in for good measure. They weren't "bad", but I wandered off mid-set and didn't return till the Monolators came on.

The Monolators list Television as an influence in their music and I find that to be dead on correct, which is probably why I instantly warmed to them. I heard of them as a two piece outfit but tonight they played as a three piece. They play an interesting blend of late 70's new wave, british pop, and garage rock that is well put together. Their whole set rocked and I'm scouring listings to go see them again. I actually took photos of the Monolators, but they're on someone else's camera right now, so please be patient, I'll put them up soon.

One thing that I'm going to rant about real quick is this weird obsession that the media has with automatically boxing in a two piece band as akin to the White Stripes. I find that there seems to be a complete lack of knowledge about other duos that is rather distressing when these are the people who are speaking about music and that readers go to for knowledge. Here are a few two pieces that I like, in no particular order: the Black Keys, the Spires, Giant Drag, Mates of State, Matt and Kim, Death from Above 1979, and yes, I like the White Stripes too.

Monday, May 07, 2007

That Boy's A Wild One: Frog Eyes, Alex Delivery, and The Henry Clay People @ Spaceland May 5, 2007

Surprises can be awesome. Case in point: on Spaceland's calendar for the lineup tonight only 2 bands were listed. But surprise! There was a third band in the lineup tonight: The Henry Clay People, who I missed at the Spires show a couple weeks back due to extreme illness. However, surprises can also suck, like the fact that the club stayed fairly NOT PACKED for the entire show. I'm still not sure why people have not latched on to Frog Eyes yet. Is it cause they're Canadian?

The Henry Clay People are local and play all over but I always seem to miss them. I seemed to miss their introduction and didn't find out who they were till almost the end. But, the entire time they played, I kept thinking, 'this band is awesome'. Their sound is the indie rock I grew up on in the late nineties, but it doesn't sound old. They were a fun band who was enjoyable to watch cause they all looked like they wanted to be there playing, which more bands should do.

The Jagjaguwar label puts out some pretty reputable bands, bands I like to listen to very often (Okkervil River, Swan Lake, Ladyhawk). Alex Delivery is the band they seem to be really pushing right now. I heard ONE song before I went to this show and thought it was ok. OH, but live they were different, in a not-so-good way. There was a weird cross between 'jam music' and electronic that I found disagreeable. Not to mention that one chick's job was just to hit a block and make jangly noises. 10 minutes into the set and we left. They were still playing the first song.

The Frog Eyes' set was super. I wish I could think of a better word to describe it right now but I can't. Maybe super fantastic, but that sounds a bit tarded. Anyways, this time I tried to be very dilligent and make a note of the songs they played. Alas, when I checked my notes later, all written in pencil, in the dark mind you, there was just a #2 smudged mess written on top of some crap I needed to remember to pick up from the grocery store. Ah well. They did cover many news songs off their album Tears of the Valedictorian, including: Idle Songs, Stockades, Eagle Energy, Bushels and some older ones that have long names I can't remember. Again I was amazing with the ferocity that Carey Mercer exudes while playing/singing. It's such a sharp contrast to when he is announcing songs or chit chatting with the audience. Even walking around prior to the show, he seemed very small and introverted. But when he starts to shriek lyrics, his groaning escalating to a falsetto and back again, he becomes much larger and carries the entire band behind him.

The set up this time was the four piece minus keys. I guess the only thing that could have made the set extra super would have been to have Spencer Krug on keys, who complements Mercer's performance with his own erratic playing. But he was with Sunset Rubdown in Boston this night. Anyways, the set sounded a bit 'harder' than they usually do, more 'rock' with out the electronic noises that sporadically pop up in their tunes. This is not a bad aspect though, just different.

I think if I keep writing, it will just be a gush of how much I admire and love this band. So, I'll end this right here, urging everyone to go and show some respect to our cousins up north. Cause Canadians can rock too.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tread Softly: Dear Nora, Bobby Birdman, Devon Williams @ the Smell May 2, 2007

Downtown Los Angeles can be a scary place to venture, even at noon on a Tuesday, but especially at night on a Wednesday. Getting to the Smell is also an adventure in itself, especially when you don't really know where it is, but you do know you need to go down an alley, downtown... and did I mention, at night? Right. Well, tonight is the second night of Dear Nora's "last"(this is sorta confirmed) tour, so risking getting puked on by a junkie was just something I would have to deal with.

Tonight's lineup included Lloyd & Michael (which we missed), Devon Williams (who we caught probably the last two songs of his set), Bobby Birdman (in the dark, more on that in a minute),and Dear Nora of course. What I quickly learned about the way things are done at the smell is this: informal. Very informal. When we walked in the door, kids were sitting crossed-legged on the floor, practically in the lap of Devon Williams. It reminded me of my third grade teacher who would play guitar for us instead of making us learn to read a clock. Oh, and I'm not fooling about the kid reference either. The Smell is a rare breed of clubs, admitting all ages and NO ALCOHOL, which makes it hard to get people overage to go there. However, if you are sitting there watching acoustic performances while next to you some 4th generation emo boy stresses over his math homework, alcohol won't even help with the situation. It is a cute little spot though, I'm not knocking it at all. When Matt & Kim are there to perform in the near future I won't even bat an eyelash about showing up there.

The Bobby Birdman performance was interesting. He moved into the back of the space where the stage is (though he stayed in front of it on the floor), however either the lights weren't working, or they never work, I dunno. Regardless, this is my first "in the dark" performance ever. He made the best of it though. It was just him and his guitar, a bit warbley in the voice, and not always hitting the right chords but he has this soothing quality to him that I found enjoyable to listen to. I did however fear for his safety, as he insisted on jumping around, illuminated only briefly by the pop of flashes going off around him. Oh, right, that started to border on ridiculous towards the end. All I could see were these purple spots in the dark from all the flashes, jeeze kids, really...

I think perhaps that Mr. Birdman went over his time a bit because Katy (dear nora) started tuning her guitar in the front room and when he stopped, her set pretty much started. A mad rush between rooms, and that was pretty much the only pause between sets, which is great. More shows should be like that.

The Dear Nora set was fantastic, although I really don't have any other set of hers to compare it to. Whew! Thank goodness I caught this show if she really is stopping. Anyways, with the exception of the first song, What a Weird Cactus, which had a young fellow accompanying her with guitar, the rest of the 45 minute (or so) set was just her and her guitar, and her random conversations with herself and the audience. Oh, so, some of the songs she did play were: Caribou- Timber Wolf, You Looked Like a Portrait (which was a special request from a boy determined to hear the song before she stopped touring), Hung Up, The New Year (i think...I may be cloudy on this), and closed with Love Song for My Friends (also a request). At the end it was just a shout out what you want to hear performance. Oh, and like always, the order of the songs are simply listed in what I remembered first.

Perhaps informal may not be the best word to describe the scene, intimate is better. When she sings, it's kinda like when you're with a good friend and you're just tooling around on instruments singing to each other, that's kinda how it felt. Except only she was singing... I was humming to myself.