Sunday, September 28, 2008

Because killing babies is okay, sometimes.

This regards just a few things.

First, the real business. An
article appeared in the Rocky Mountain News last week referencing a rather brilliant campaign directed at those who oppose the firmly conservative wishes of Sarah Palin; as it turns out, a method of protest more effective than complaining about Palin is to send a donation to Planned Parenthood on her behalf. Palin is, of course, opposed to abortion even in the case of rape or incest, and wishes to overturn Roe V. Wade. If you were to make this donation on her behalf, states the article:

Planned Parenthood sends a handwritten thank-you card to the donor. If a donation is made in someone's name, he or she gets one, too.

In this case, the Palin cards will go to Republican presidential nominee John McCain's national headquarters.

Donations can be made here.

In news more relevant to these pages, Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs are coming back to the states! And they're promoting Dirt Don't Hurt, which arrives Oct. 14. Streams and tour dates

Also, some of us have a "thing" for Swedes. If you fit into this category, Division of Laura Lee's making a small comeback with Violence is Timeless, out on hand numbered vinyl now in the US (see
website), and a tour (Los Angeles date is at Spaceland Oct. 7).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thee Oh Sees! At the Smell. Los Angeles. 9.16.08.

Thee Oh Sees have been reinvented to the nth degree, making appearances as a duo (with John Dwyer and then-percussionist Patrick Mullins, now a baker), then as a folk-rock quartet, and most recently as a garage rock quartet with Dwyer, vocalist Brigid Dawson, guitarist Petey Dammit! and drummer Mike Shoun. Six months ago, the group stole the show as an opener for the Mae Shi – this time around, they played last to a crowd that'd had a chance to memorize lyrics to The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In, and tested a crop of new material that – surprise! – immediately pleased.

Beneath his mop of beach bum hair, Dwyer's blue peepers looked ready to burst. The band he leads plays like a rockabilly cartoon, and to watch him twist and maneuver with his guitar held high is exhausting. Between the large drops of sweat he smeared about the floor and the microphone he nearly ate, it's no wonder Dawson had to sit out for a song with apparent nausea after having her eyes locked on him for the full set.

Shoun showed us his "o" (or was it "e?") face and received some percussion assistance from tambourine-wielding audience members. And Petey Dammit! – well, these eyes were glued to the piece of cake tattooed on his neck. Why Petey, why?

One of numerous devlishly danceable performances from the San Francisco group, aided by openers Sic Alps, who Dwyer's named “the greatest band to ever walk the earth,” and 21-year old one man band (think Mark Sultan or Hasil Adkins) Ty Segall, alleged Billy Childish fan and recent addition to Dwyer's Castle Face label.

...and babyfaced opener Ty Segall, whoo-ha!

purchase brand new live CD/DVD set Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Mojomatics - Don't Pretend That You Know Me

Further proof that the Swedish accent is like the Italian accent with a greater emphasis on the letter “r,” it's...the Mojomatics!

The Mojomatics were another unexpected surprise; a chunk stolen from each of numerous trends from the last few years – mod suits, garage rock, blues influence – and they're a reminder of why the so-called “garage rock phase” from six years ago was a welcome break from all the other garbage that hit mainstream music, as well as a reminder of why plain, oft-plagiarized rock 'n roll is the most fun genre there is.

They're Italian, the self-proclaimed “two men band,” apparently making no reference to a third member they've supposedly tacked on, and they sound quite like onetime tour mates the (International) Noise Conspiracy from the point during (I)NC's career at which most of their fans admitted to being fans (ah – that would be the early phase, approximately 1999-2001).

At their fastest they've nearly got the energy of the Beautiful New Born Children (who I'll shamelessly plug as a band that should have been better known), and in their closest approximation of American rootsiness sound, frankly, too excited to be Yanks. In a good way, obviously.

Their third record in six years, Don't Pretend That You Know Me, has got guitar rolling at full speed (“Wait a While”), handclaps (“Miss Me When I'm Gone”) and a solid imitation of that other Swedish garage group, Randy (“Clean My Sins”). Not the least bit original, but 100% exciting!

The Mojomatics – Wait a While
The Mojomatics – Winter Got No Eyes
Purchase Don't Pretend That You Know Me (Available 9.23.08)

Reference Points:

Randy – A Man in Uniform
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Sleeping Pills
The Beautiful New Born Children – Do the Do

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nada Surf. September 5, 2008. The Troubadour.

Having found fame with a bit of mockery like “Popular” at the height of the mid-‘90s alternative phase, it would have been difficult to imagine a 41-year old Matthew Caws leading a packed room of fans half his age in praise of love. But it happened at the Troubadour. And, wow, Caws' voice hasn't aged a bit.

Bass player Daniel Lorca was out with an injury, so Jose Galvez (Ozma) and Gram Lebron (Rogue Wave) filled in on bass and keyboards, respectively. Drummer Ira Elliot played with hokey but magnificent light-up drumsticks – once, anyway – and Caws invited us to cheer for rainy days (an incredibly lovely “Blonde on Blonde”) and join in on all sorts of “aaaaahhh” action (“Weightless”).

But the best part of the show was the privilege of hovering above, on the venue’s balcony, as the entire floor moved from side to side in a perfect half-circle. With all side-stepping like a couple hundred doo-wop singers – you know, because Nada Surf are soulful, or something – it was actually bizarrely beautiful to watch these otherwise mellow fans reveal a collectively carefree attitude. A lack of “Popular” in this set, which went on for nearly two hours, only assisted in making smiling hippies of us.

A funny thing about this show, though – getting a good look at Caws' face, and hearing a voice that hasn't changed since his 20s, when Nada Surf first got famous, was a bit surreal. It really sank in how much time has passed since the mid-'90s, and that the bands I've grown up with are aging into their forties just as I'm no longer in junior high. Aging is scary. Watching famous people age is even scarier because they serve as visual proof that so much time has passed. While I first got into Nada Surf around twelve years ago, it wasn't until watching them on stage (and really, looking up their birthdates online) that that frame of time rang true. Mortality is frightening, isn't it? Awkward tangents aside, Nada Surf – as men in their forties – play hosts to a smashing time.

(The Watson Twins opened. They were the musical equivalent of The Delicious Dish.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Do you write a lot of music when you're on the bus or does that make you carsick?

Okay. Not that I want to promote Pitchfork, at any point, really, but they've got this "TV" business that, today, features quality basement performances by the Walkmen. The selection includes the above footage of "On the Water," perhaps my favorite song on You & Me, in a performance that, sadly, lacks the cringeworthy interview that preceded their Fox News appearance.

Monday, September 1, 2008

F Yeah Fest 5 - 8.30.08. Echo Park.

Due to financial crises, the fifth F Yeah Fest nearly didn't occur, and thus this year's lineup was scaled down to a single day, a scavenger hunt acting as substitute for the Sunday Concert That Could Have Been. But Saturday's music fest was jam packed with nearly ten hours of music and more bursts of “fuck yeah!” than one ought to hear in a single space, or four, as were the case.

The relatively large Echoplex saw the fest off to a rowdy start, what with Chicago garage rockers Mannequin Men picking up energy from Graham Forest's opening set; the Men were practically spitting Libertines camaraderie, sharing a mic, sharing love, sharing sweat. The rain pouring from frontman Kevin Richard could be felt a fair eight feet away, in fact.

Drumming hip-hop duo Brother Reade offered some mutterings about “artichoke titties” while Seattle's Past Lives, the initial Blood Brothers lineup minus Johnny Whitney, tore it up like – well – the Blood Brothers minus Johnny Whitney. In giving us a sneak of their upcoming Strange Symmetry EP they lacked the obvious flamboyance that Whitney brought to the stage, but offered winners like “Skull Lender,” which was a bit much for a 5:00 crowd that'd spent its energy on the Mae Shi.

The first local act to provide a much-needed burst of energy, the Mae Shi pulled out a rainbow parachute – a bit suffocating in that stifling summer air – and made a madhouse out of the Echoplex. Their usual antics intact, a combination of quadruple shouts and audience loyalty meant “Run to Your Grave” and “I Get (Almost) Everything I Want” were group efforts, leaving vocalist Jonathan Gray a few free seconds to grimace.

Mika Miko guitarist Michelle Suarez gave a big, goofy grin and confessed that she'd been afraid no one would see the band play – unfounded, however, as Mika Miko were another of the day's local favorites. Jenna Thornill hobbled a hobble when she wasn't playing sax, and bassist Jessie Clavin smiled above her Germs shirt (rather fitting, as Mika Miko aren't unlike a female Germs, sans destructive tendencies). Like the two-piece to follow, Brooklyn's Japanther, Mika Miko frontlady Jennifer Clavin shrieked through a bright, shiny phone, though unlike Japanther's Matt Reilly, Clavin didn't anger the crowd by killing time with chatter during a technical difficulty. And unlike Japanther, Mika Miko's crowd didn't start surfing and nearly suck Sean Carlson into its pit of people during a makeshift security attempt.

The masses had come for No Age, but the masses are a bit much to take, so trotting up to the Echo for the night's conclusion meant a good, hard punch from Crystal Antlers, whose percussionist Sexual Chocolate dropped some fabric and made beautiful love to his mic stand. Said masses also missed out on Monotonix, a Tel Aviv cock-rock trio with Jew-fros and lip bushes who dumped trash on the people, tossed beer on the people, and in true headlining form, allowed themselves to be raised high so that – full drum kit here, kids – they could keep playing over the hands of the people. Fuck yeah!

The Mae Shi

Mannequin Men

Past Lives

Mika Miko


Crystal Antlers

A small piece of Monotonix