Saturday, March 29, 2008

They get parades, we get barbequed meat. Fuckin' Irish.

So. St. Patrick's Day was nearly two weeks ago. However, I did not post on St. Patrick's Day. Why? Because I'd feel like a fool, pulling off that "Irish for a day" business and putting up something green and patriotic when there's not a touch of Irish in me. And to be honest, I don't think I could explain St. Patrick without the help of the internet. Ignorant American am I!

However, long prior to St. Patrick's Day I'd been contemplating an Irish post. I've been on a big kick as of late, for the last year or so gobbling up as much Irish music as is available. What started this urge? Interestingly enough, it was rediscovering Fisherman's Blues by the Waterboys, a band fronted by - yes - a Scottish man. Christ. But in my mind, Fisherman's Blues epitomizes in sound what I've always imagined Ireland to look like; it's the audible interpretation of green, of stone, of...erm...water. And that sounds lovely to me, whether Ireland really is like that or not (if you have an idea, please clarify!).

In any case, I'm including all this BS as somewhat of an excuse for posting some of my favorite Irish artists, as well as some discoveries I've made while digging through My Space. Apparently there are a lot of softies in Belfast these days. Have at!

The Dubliners - Seven Drunken Nights
The Exhibition - The Gut
The Irish Rovers - My Old Man's a Dustman
Stiff Little Fingers - White Noise (a must-have)
Van Morrison - Slim Slow Slider (ditto)
The Undertones - Jimmy Jimmy

And this is what happens when you've got free time to lurk around social networking sites:

The Chakras
Fast Emperors
Kowalski
The Remains of Youth
We Are Knives
Tracer AMC

And if you haven't gotten acquainted with the Waterboys, try watching this and not falling in love!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lemuria - Get Better

What saves Lemuria to such a high degree, particularly for the audience whose formative years took place in the days of Pauly Shore and alternative rock, is how well they grasp ‘90s nostalgia without breathing the irony of nostalgia into their music.

This full-length debut from the Buffalo trio is realistic storytelling from the original emo perspective, with vocalists resembling ‘90s heroes like Anna Waronker, or an Adam Green/Matthew Caws hybrid (these new renditions being guitarist Sheena Ozzella and drummer Alex Kerns, respectively).

What’s an emo perspective? Try a few: “My secrets end up on oiled canvases in a gallery for everyone to judge.” “I’m miserable with you. I’m more miserable without you.” “Walking around trying to keep my mouth shut, while the pity piles up. Like a goddamn dog with its tail between its legs, ashamed of trying to butter up your obituary.”

There’s a lot of self-pity here, and even a bit of preachiness (“Everybody wants more, when they already have some”), but this is a bona fide college mope, set in tune to a small piece of the ‘90s revival that’s already on its way. And the ‘90s were just plain rad.


And if you turn them down to background volume, it's almost kinda like listening to Avril Lavigne. But an awesome Avril Lavigne. From 1993.

Lemuria - Fingers
Lemuria - Pants
Purchase Get Better
See them on tour with the Queers!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Presidents of the United States of America (with Ludo, Pleaseeasaur) @ Roxy, Los Angeles, March 21

After opening sets by multi-media comedy act Pleaseeasaur and cheeseball rock quintet Ludo, it should have been that this sold-out show would qualify as the year's ultimate novelty lineup. And it was, save for headliner the Presidents of the United States of America, whose past reputation for humor had no effect on the seriousness with which they'd play live.

Ludo, as it turns out, have a serious following among high schoolers, particularly the ladies, and do a strangely successful cover of Faith No More's “Epic.” Front man Andrew Volpe was a bit grating to watch, though, exercising the “rock out with your cock out” mentality, shredding and offering a little tongue snake, doing some revolting little trick where he used his finger to mimic a toothbrush and then spat on stage, later rolling about the floor and getting smothered in his phlemmy “toothpaste” mixture. Pleaseeasaur's JP Hasson, meanwhile, wears a costume well, and his satirical style is much smarter than Ludo's MTV ways. But the Presidents are a straightforward rock act, and pushed by Chris Ballew's insistence that they were moving forward, alternated between songs old and new only to remind us why they'd been so exciting and fresh in the '90s.

Guitbassist Dave Dederer has been more or less replaced by Andrew McKeag at this point, and the Presidents are now in their 40s, with Ballew's appearance fairly unchanged and, thus, still rather dad-like. Drummer Jason Finn no longer has the confused gaze he had in early Presidents videos. The trio is tight and obviously well-established, even with the addition of McKeag; the only unfortunate thing about them is how their songs have evolved, as they once played perfectly asexual, perfectly apolitical minimalist rock to fit nicely into the post-grunge '90s Northwest scene, and now write songs headed into Fountains of Wayne territory, which, frankly, won't put anyone in the ranks of greatness. But those early songs are wildly loved to this day, and though it's been over a decade since their last solid string of hits, one would assume that they were the most relevant band in the world based on the way the audience raised fingers in the air and yelled “meow” and “outside!” in unison to opener “Kitty.”









Friday, March 14, 2008

Ohhhhhh man.

So, there's this nice fellow named Anuj who makes slideshows available for the taking. Admittedly, I'm pretty damn psyched about the wide range of slideshows he's got. There's a slideshow of Easter eggs. There's a slideshow of car logos. There's a slideshow of spoon art. And sweet jesus, there's a slideshow of FRUIT!!!




I should point out that while Anuj correctly pinpointed avocado as a fruit, he mistakenly labeled pumpkin as fruit, as well. I forgive you, Anuj.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Holy Jesus. 1993 is back!

Guess who's touring this summer?! Ahh!!


...and speaking of early punk bands, here's some great footage of the Adverts, one of my top five all-time favorite punk groups. The fans are almost more fun to watch than the band!

Go here to see how TV Smith has aged (quite well, actually)

The Local Anesthetic

I'd be lying if I said I'd heard of the Local Anesthetic label, owner Duane Davis, the label Davis co-owned prior to the formation of Local Anesthetic (Wax Trax), or, hell, the fact that there was anything of a punk scene in Colorado thirty years ago. But this is why music is re-released and retrospective compilations made. Those of us born in the 1980s would less frequently discover artists like Orange Juice, James Chance or Prefects without re-released material to spark interest and raise awareness. And without labels like the Numero Group or, in this particular case, Smooch Records, to compile memorable highlights of a given niche, certain labels and artists would get lost in obscurity and remain unknown to anyone not in the right scene at the right time.

Last month, Smooch released a tribute of sorts to Local Anesthetic and the Colorado punk scene of the late '70s to early '80s; comprised of a hearty 33 tracks – every seven-inch released by the label and then some – the collection covers a range of punk that touches on hardcore, classic '77 punk, and (in a category of its own, really) Jeri Rossi's cover of “It's a Man's Man's Man's World.” Rossi's cover, gloomy, free and sneering at once, is to James Brown's ballad what Aretha Franklin's “Respect” was to Otis Redding's original. Well, almost.


Though the most high profile act here is undoubtedly the recording of Allen Ginsberg's “Birdbrain,” set to some new wave harmonies by Gluons (also the first release by Local Anesthetic, in 1981), I really love “Psycho Surfer,” the first of two tracks by Defex, quite similar to the '77 rock style of Generation X in particular. Also, definite standouts are Frantix, who'd be perfectly in line with any neo-grunge bands from Terrible Twos to the Amazements to Pissed Jeans today, and goth pop band Your Funeral, fronted by Jeri Rossi and (for the sake of easy comparison) for fans of Siouxsie and the Banshees or Public Image Ltd. In truth, this is quite a perfect compilation for its variety, as well as its simultaneous ability to appeal to the punk purist.


Your Funeral - The Abyss
Defex - Psycho Surfer
White Trash - Nazis in My Neighborhood
Purchase The Local Anesthetic

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pride Tiger - The Lucky Ones


Any reference to Pride Tiger will ultimately jump back to Thin Lizzy, and truthfully, The Lucky Ones does resemble “The Boys Are Back in Town” thirteen times over – especially third track “Fill Me In.” This creates a dilemma for Pride Tiger, a Canadian hard rock quartet with energy almost consistent to a fault; everyone loves a rockin' power pop tune, but how many power pop songs can you stand before they start blending together into a long, repetitive rock block?

What Pride Tiger ultimately suffers from is an unwillingness to embrace variety; by the time “What it Is” begins, you start wondering if you've got previous track “Let 'em Go” on repeat. By the time you hit sixth track “The Lucky Ones,” you're just plain tired. What does work in their favor is the strange lack of irony with which they play. Falling somewhere between the introductory metal of the '70s and the carefully planned (though admittedly fun) power pop of the '80s, The Lucky Ones is chock-full of catchy hooks, indulgent guitar solos and reliable syncopated beats by vocalist/drummer Matt Wood, who – yes – sings somewhat with the fluidity of front men like Phil Lynott. And it's completely believable.

Overly polished or commercial-sounding? Check. Created more for groupies than fans of careful musicianship? Maybe so. But as noted here,
retro's always in style, isn't it? Okay, so I don't actually love this. Pride Tiger is likely a case not unlike the Hands, contrived on record but surely the band whose live show is worth a shot. Go see about it.

Pride Tiger - Fill Me In
Pride Tiger - Forget Everything
Purchase The Lucky Ones
(US version out Mar. 11; Canadian release was June 2007)
Big Brother is watching YOU!

Don't be surprised if this eventually becomes the next phase of the Patriot Act.

Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In (and why this band deserves to be far more famous than it is.)

Everything I said about that last Oh Sees record? Forget it. The band that evolved from OCS into the Ohsees has officially become Thee Oh Sees, a project nowhere near the remains of what was once OCS; the band has transformed gradually over the course of five albums, from solo project to duo to quartet to brand-spankin' new quartet. Percussionist/singing saw master Patrick Mullins left about a year ago, opting to go to baking school, and was officially replaced by drummer Mike Shoun. Completed by guitarist Petey Dammit! and co-vocalist/tambourine rocker Brigid Dawson, the group looks and sounds more excited than it's ever been, and Dwyer's punk energy has returned for the first time since post-Coachwhips (alternate) side project Yikes.

Thee Oh Sees opened an amazing show at downtown venue the Smell last night, kicking off a grand lineup which included Clipd Beaks, Old Time Relijun and the Mae Shi. They were even the night's highlight, perhaps, packing the tiny front room early on. Watching Dwyer perform, I see so many characters in him at once: a drug addict, a cartoon character, an eight-year old boy playing air guitar, a Venice surfer, and the greatest fucking rock star on the planet. As far as I can prove, he's none of these except for, possibly, the last. He's a genius of an all-around performer, adaptable enough for folk but at his prime when bouncing every which way and manipulating his guitar like it's a fight target. He and Dawson work perfectly together as a singing pair, like a cat and dog duo in an animated kid caper – Yip Yip! Ruff! Ohhhhahh! Wop! Zip! Holy popcorn, Batman.

Thee Oh Sees are a hell of a time on record, and even more so in a live setting. Especially now that they've got a brand new record to showcase, The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In, a fair return to punk form for Dwyer. The bass-heavy beats and dirty melodies of songs like “Visit Colonel” and “Grease 2” comprise loosely-termed rockabilly stomps, while “Ghost in the Trees” offers up some balls-out, surf-style guitar solos and slinky rhythm. Bonus track “Koka Kola Jingle” is the only bit on the record to resemble the band's lo-fi folk work from OCS effort 3&4.

For those who desire more indie-fuck-friendly fare (pardon the coincidental alliteration), fret not – after last year's Kelley Stoltz-produced adventure, The Master's Bedroom features go-to guy Dave Sitek on mellotron and organ (“Graveyard Drug Party” and “You Will See This Dog Before You Die,” respectively). Unrelated but additionally, the drummer to appear on the last official Ohsees record, Jigmae Baer, plays drums on these two tracks as well as “Maria Stacks.”

Highlights here include opener (and show-stealer) “Block of Ice” and swinger “Adult Acid,” the latter a piece which would suit any Dead Moon fan just fine. There's little filler here if at all - “The Coconut,” or “You Will See This Dog,” maybe? Not only would I refer to The Master's Bedroom as the best release yet from the Oh Sees/OCS, but I would even dare to call this the best project Dwyer's come up with since the Coachwhips. It's the truth!

Thee Oh Sees – Block of Ice

Thee Oh Sees – Grease 2

Pre-order The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In (Available April 4)
Or buy a CD directly from the band, as they are on tour.

(You should buy this record not only because the band deserves your support like nothing else, but for the 1) two CD-only bonus tracks and 2) nifty, Dwyer-esque cover art by William Keihn.)

(On a side note related to Saturday's lineup, a presently-moustachioed Arrington de Dionyso of Old Time Relijun now resembles Jeff Foxworthy. On another side note, the double-up mics and grungy bass lines of Clipd Beaks are mind-blowing in person. I wanted every song to go on forever!)



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Read THAT, suckers!

The fine print:
7-10pm. Mar. 6. Ooga Booga Store (943 N. Broadway).

Be Your Own Pet and the Raveonettes - March 4 at the El Rey.

From 2005's Damn Damn Leash EP forward, I couldn't stomach Be Your Own Pet, and much of this had to do with vocalist Jemina Pearl Abegg. She's got the teen punk look down to a science, her growl is atrocious and only highlights her youth, and much like a kid who's just discovered swearing, she's in the habit of placing a harder emphasis on words like “sex” or “fuck.” See Beyond the Valley of the Dolls-referencing “The Kelly Affair,” for one.

Today, Jemina Pearl is twenty, and her style completely unchanged. Even her lyrics for brand new song “Becky,” to the tune of “The Locomotion,” are pure high school humor, and that voice remains, well, atrocious. But on stage, everything about her somehow works, from her aggression in song and dance to the way her hair swishes about. She's not a singer, she's a front woman, with a real, complete presence.

Behind her is a solid, if not precocious poppy punk band, and opening for the Raveonettes on this night, BYOP played hard and well. New bassist Nathan Vasquez bled all over his bass, new drummer John Eatherly was cool in face and firm in hand, and guitarist Jonas Stein served as proof that vocal duties do not provide the instant key to band leadership. On the whole, a surprisingly fine lead-in to the attractive Danes who would follow.

And what can be said about the Raveonettes that isn't already apparent from their recordings? Live, they are an enhanced version of what they sound on record – a duo wildly attractive, as calm as can be, and apparently, lacking sweat glands. Sharin and Sune Rose balance each other beautifully on guitar, Sharin on rhythm and Sune Rose on lead, and though equally soft-spoken, make up for their lack of speech or volume by speaking through their Jazzmasters. Sune Rose is an underrated guitarist, it turns out, and looks like an outlaw next to Sharin's leggy blonde mod. Rounding them out was a touring drummer, a beautiful androgynous woman who (think Hannah Blilie of the Gossip) could easy appeal to either sex or orientation, and maintained the straightest of faces in front of her tom and snare.






Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Because...hey, the dog's already been skinned, right?

Not that you've got any leftover fur lying around the house, as that would be in poor taste, but just in case you do...

(reposted from http://www.buffaloexchange.com/bulletins_det.php?Bulletin_ID=743)

COATS FOR CUBS
All Locations
Nov 1, 2007 to Apr 22, 2008

Give your furs back to the animals! Now through Earth Day, bring your real fur apparel, including trims, accessories and shearling to your local Buffalo Exchange and let us know it’s a donation for Coats for Cubs. Since you're donating to The Humane Society of the United States, condition is unimportant. Used furs provide bedding and comfort to orphaned and injured wildlife. See a Coats for Cubs video of baby animals using the furs at myspace.com/buffaloexchange.

Read The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) article, "Coats for Cubs Doubles the Return to the Animals." If you want to claim a tax deduction, please mail your fur directly to Coats for Cubs, The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. To spread the word about this program, print a PDF of The HSUS pamphlet, “Give Fur Back to the Animals.” To stay on top of the latest issues affecting animals, join The HSUS's online community and receive action alerts. For questions about Coats for Cubs, email furfree@humanesociety.org.

Dogs and raccoon dogs are being sold as "faux fur." The HSUS and Buffalo Exchange, an official endorser, ask you to voice support for the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007, which would stop the sale of fur from raccoon dogs and would also require that all fur garments, regardless of value, be labeled. Ask your representative in Congress for truth in fur labeling!

Monday, March 3, 2008

L.A. Residents! Bands to support this month.






The Hands - s/t (this is where I make a joke about how they're not as grating as they look.)

I like this album, don't love it. With heavy approval from Brian Foss, owner of garage rock-friendly Seattle venue the Funhouse and host of KEXP's Sonic Reducer, arguably the best punk radio show on the west coast, the Hands appear at first a sure bet.

The Olympia group is a quintet of bluesy garage and southern-style punk – dirty rock 'n' roll as it's meant. But the authenticity of this full length debut, recorded last fall, is a bit questionable. It heavily borrows, and nearly any review on the album will mention the inevitable Rolling Stones/Mick Jagger similarity (the latter, for the record, is pretty spot on). But this album is an example of why cheap, rough production works better for some bands than others, and in my case brings to mind a band like Jet, which has the formula down but doesn't sound like more than a watered-down regurgitation of older influences.

One should expect that the Hands are a thrilling live band, a group that sounds better with every drink in particular. But on record, their lead guitar and production are too clean to pull off a sound of spontaneity; there's adequate variety in the pacing of their songs, but as a complete package the Hands resemble a nameless member of 2002's supposed garage rock craze. Harmonies are a bit on the sloppy side, but sloppiness would be better left to the guitars, which could stand a bit of distortion to mimic the noisy static of speakers in a live setting, where the Hands likely thrive.

There's a quality guitar solo on “Lord's Gonna Trouble,” a decent vocal imitation of, yes, Mick Jagger by John Healy (particularly on “Nothing”) and a chord combination which almost adds up to “House of the Rising Sun” (“Wade in the Water”). But outside of a few exciting moments here or there, the record's not raw enough to be praised as a raw record, and though it's admirable to rock in a region dominated by soft-spoken indie poppers, this effort isn't enough to get the Hands beyond the smallest of venues.


Why bother reviewing this, then, if it's less than thrilling? Never mind that they'll likely throw this review on their MySpace page to demonstrate why reviewers are irrelevant idiots - it's free press. The Hands are also on a tour to coincide with their album's release, and it's probably safe to say that they deserve a fair shot in a live setting. Check their tour schedule here.

The Hands - Nothing
The Hands - Wade in the Water
Purchase The Hands