Saturday, January 26, 2008

Austin Fever: YellowFever, Her Girl Friday, Dylan Doren @ the Smell January 25, 2008

I will not lie to you all. I only went over to the Smell because I found out YellowFever was going to be playing. Initially I didn't know who else was playing and really wasn't concerned because I had the yellow fever.... Sorry, that was ridiculous, it's early right now. But getting there at 9:30 and sitting through the first two sets two things became apparent: I can listen to noise rock with ear plugs and actually enjoy it because my ears do not feel like they've been permanently damaged, and the first two bands were un-expectantly fun to listen to.

There's this trend at the Smell to just slide from band to band, and many times band names are not said. Or, a band name is missed because suddenly they are already playing and you're still standing outside the club. So, that's my introductory excuse as to why I'm not 100% on the first two band names (if you know what they were, please feel free to jot down in the comments below). The Smell attracts a LOT of young people/bands who are really into the noise scene. Really into it. Expect one of the bands in a line up there every night to fit this genre. The first person/band up, and don't get mad if I mix the names here, I believe was Dylan Doren. Now, that could be the guy's name, or the band. I say name but what do I know? His set began with about 10-15 minutes of him sitting on the ground with some keyboards, a pedal, and microphones. My first thought brought be back to seeing Mincemeat or Tenspeed at Pehrspace back in December (sorry, no review, but you can listen to the show here!). Now, I enjoy noise, when done well, and when they added some live drumming to the mix, the whole musical experience suddenly made my attention snap right to them. The drum beats were live, but had the quality of feeling like they were sampled. The songs were pecked with these tiny screams that could barely make themselves heard over the instruments, forcing you to pay attention to the two people before you. They really turned it into an unexpected surprise performance.

Second up was Her Girl Friday, a 3 piece all girl band that included their own bubble blowing robotic looking chick standing in front dressed like she belonged at an anime convention. I'm not sure what 'look' they wanted to achieve by having this; 'cute' I guess comes to mind. The three blended guitars, keys and drums into a dark, droning pop sound. At times they reminded me a bit of Electrelane and other songs were a bit tipping towards bands like the Warlocks. Heavy, melodic, occasionally screaming tunes. They were also surprisingly enjoyable.

And then right into YellowFever. I can't remember which blog I first heard about this Austin band from. I want to say Gorrila vs. Bear, because any good music coming out of that part of Texas I will hear about through their site. In the usual Smell style, there were some technical hiccups. One I swear was as close to the 'brown noise' as you can get. I felt really bad, cause later the drummer was saying how it fucked up his ears bad. I think the problem was that the vocals were too low and the bass too high, and the attempt to fix it by the guy who runs(?) the Smell, made it the opposite of fixed. It terminated "Cats and Rats" a bit short, which was too bad, cause it's a cute song. Anyways, stuff started to go better from there, launching into (in no particular order except for what I can remember) Metarie, Hellfire, Joe Brown, and Culver City. I'm missing some, but I forget which. It would have been even more awesome had they played Alice, but I'm not complaining, they came to L.A. and I will be perfectly satisfied with just that much. Their music crosses between bands like Stereolab, Tuscadero, Heavenly, and in some ways reminds me of earlier music from the Breeders. But there also feels like there is this darker streak just under the surface of their music. The quite, sometimes somber tone to the lyrics, backed by the more poppy bass and guitar notes makes for some more bittersweet concoctions. At least I get that in there sometimes...

Right, ok, this post is starting to get a bit long. I just wanted to direct your attention to Austin, TX for a moment. Austin seems like this magical far away land filled to overflowing with great bands and constant flow of incredible albums. The city makes me jealous with its green-ness awareness and cool shows and really nice people, compared to living here in L.A. But then I remember a friend telling me it 90+ยบ for most of the year. And then L.A. seems ok, and Austin will just have to be that awesome city I visit.

Coming soon: Dare I step into the Smell for a second night in a row?!?!?!?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Waiting for the Stage to Break: Jail Weddings and Man/Miracle @ the Echo January 20th, 2008

Going to a 'Part Time Punks' show at the Echo makes me feel old, and I'm not really old. Maybe it's the drug induced pogo-ing or the Charlie Brownesque stand-in-one-place dancing going on around me as kids talk about how awesome it is to dance to Iggy Pop. What? Really? Anyways, sometimes you have to brave the queerness of young adulthood to go see a decent band. Jail Weddings earned such an honor this night.

I already had two naps by 10pm tonight, so I was lively enough and willing to catch the first band: Man/Miracle. I couldn't find any additional info on this band (edit: see below), however I believe that they said they hailed from Santa Cruz, or someplace with a similar name. Anyways, these boys were quite the energetic bunch- screaming and pounding away on their instruments, we reached the conclusion that they were a cross between the band James and the Strokes, if both combined to make a band you'd want to listen to. And we did! If you read this blog with any regularity, it's pretty obvious that I will walk away from your set if I find my time could be spent better elsewhere. However, I spent most of the set bouncing along and open jaw gaping at the amount of drum solos there were. Maybe, actually, that's why I like them so much... the drums. That's how they would end (at least it seemed that way); every song felt like they were trying to invoke the spirit of John Bonham, maybe a giant gong would have helped. Only two things slightly dampened this performance: one audience member apparently was shitting himself due to the aroma coming off his person, and moving to the complete opposite side of the room only helped slightly. And two, the last song Man/Mission played kept reminding me of a Bon Jovi ballad, except that unexpectedly it would pick up and get loud and pretty rocking. I had mixed feelings about that one.

After that set there was the discovery of a man selling a couple cases of records stuck in the back corner. I probably would have lingered longer had he been outside, however, he did have a copy of Los Yetis- therefor he is awesome and I hope he is selling again soon.

I had to break away from the records once Jail Weddings came on. How can you not be distracted by the completely FULL stage of people with glittery costumes and screaming main singer? I know I was. I witnessed this band last year and was completely taken by surprise. They describe themselves as "an updated take on the darker side of the '60s girl group blueprint with swamp-pop leanings, all combined with mean-streak mutant torch song drama." but with a mainly male lead vocal. Watching the stage puts me into a weird trance-like state. Perhaps it's the OOhing and Aahing that is so reminiscent of the bad 60's girl rockers (Oh Shangri-Las, how I love you so), or the maybe the bands ability to stick a violin in the mix and still make it sound 'hard'. One aspect I like about Jail Weddings is their ability to play off the idea of wanting to sound like this genre, embracing it but then tweaking it enough to sound new, and honestly, not like many other bands out there. So kudos to you guys putting on another memorable show. And sorry that my photos were kinda crap.

Coming soon: YellowFever and why Austin would be the best city ever if only the temperature wasn't so damn hot all the time.
EDIT: Ok, so the Echo had the band name spelled wrong for the opening act. It was Man/Miracle NOT Man/Mission. OOps. Anyway, for more info, please click here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back in Black (Boots): Everest and the Mezzanine Owls @ Spaceland January 14, 2008

Does anyone ever get concerned about the lack of air at Spaceland? Whenever I go, the next morning my eyes look like I spent the night before throwing sand into them and then sewing them shut. However, I tend to forget all that once I re-realize that the PBR on tap is $2.50 a glass. Tonight was kinda a stumbling in on a show. I wasn't expecting to go, but there I was, and thankfully I caught two bands that everyone has been buzzing about like crazy little bees.

First up was Everest, who for the most part have 'supergroup' attached to their name when being spoken about in conversation, albeit music reviewer know-it-all talk, but conversation nonetheless. Comprised of members of alaska!, Earlimart, Slydell, Folk Implosion and Great Northern, they all could have tricked me as a backing band for James Taylor. Kidding, it's the shaggy hair/ beard thing, it makes me think of folk bands from the early 70's. Anyways, they did have that quiet sensibility to some of the songs, although their faster tunes quite rocked everyone's butts there. All the praise getting thrown at them is worth it, unless they start asking for bowls of only red m&ms. Their first full length is out in April, which seems like an awfully long time from now.

The second, and last band I caught, was the Mezzanine Owls, who myself and my friend kept stumping ourselves trying to figure out who the lead singer reminded us of. I kept saying to myself, that british guy, he sounds like that one british guy. But I never really came to any conclusion, except that I really, really enjoyed their set. There was a lot of that staticy noise that gets attached to shoe gazer bands, and that highly, emotionally charged voice that rings out over the crowd. Oh, and some of that geeked out rock solo stuff snuck in too. I feel like I need to catch some more of their shows, at which point they will have become a staple of this current LA music scene.

I would have had some photos for here, but due to the inability to lift my arms over my head due to the crowd of people with large shoulder padded jackets (is this really back?), I will have to instead rely on some stock photos. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Smells Like... damp hair: A Look Back at Some Shows of 2007

Part of the point of this blog was to keep me actively trying to get my butt to go to shows. For the most part of 2007 it worked. I was pretty into it and believe it or not, there were even shows that I went to that I didn't have time to write a review for, *gasp*. Except for the end of this year. That, embarrassingly, came to almost a grinding halt due to too many hats, exhaustion, and burning out among other things. I'm starting to pick the pace back up, and by that I mean I've been to one show this month- and it being now the half way point of the month.

But that's enough moaning for now. You've landed here to have me shove my opinion of the top live shows that I've seen in 2007. God, what an egomaniac I must be...

Frog Eyes @ Spaceland- There should have been a bigger crowd for these guys.
Andre Williams @ Safari Sam's- This performance proved that a man even closer to death than Hugh Hefner can still woo the ladies with sexy talk.
The Ettes @ Spaceland & the Scene- What a show those 3 put on. Single handedly restored my faith in the Garage scene in LA.
Anavan @ the Scene- Clothes came off and there was a dragon... seriously, how can you top that?
Matt and Kim @ the Echo- Everyone playing that night was excellent. Even though it felt like a sauna in there you couldn't help but dance and sing along to that charismatic duo.
Oh No! Oh My! @ the Echo- So many keyboards.
Bodies of Water- To list all the venues that I've seen these kids at would just take up too much space. They are hands down, one of my favorite acts to catch here in LA and if you haven't seen them yet I should smeck you. *smecksmecksmeck*
The Monolators @ the Scene and Pehrspace- The Pehrspace show is one of the "unlisted" shows from this past December. I DJ-d that night for No-Fi "Magazine" so I thought maybe some kind of conflict of interests should keep me from writing about it...who am I kidding, I got lazy and forgot to write. Regardless, the Monolators are another local fav of mine. Their energy is crazy and it's always tempting to sing along with them.
Jay Reatard @ the Scene and the Echoplex- Chaotic. That's all I can think to sum up his shows. Maybe also 'spit'.
Old Time Relijun@ the Echo- This tops my favorite shows of all shows for 2007. Screaming along to 'Cold Water' while only about 25 people showing up to see this band. And for the handful of us there, they put on a spectacular show.

K, I promise you all another review soon for Everest. No really, soon.