Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So, this happened.

Jesus Christ, it's Christmas time. I do believe tomorrow is the day to bust out the partridge in a pear tree.

In any case, it's time to post something new from Sam Mickens. It seems he recorded a Christmas album for his pal Zac Pennington (Parenthetical Girls) last year, and as of today, it's been released for the masses to enjoy. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is particularly nice.

For the sake of equality, I'm still waiting for a good novelty Chanukah song to be made. In the meantime, here's a picture of Paul Stanley. To fill the hole.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fuckin' THIS.

Normally, I'd tell you to use your donation money on the crucial stuff - food banks, medical research, fluffy animals, etc. This time, however, I'm going to put a good bit of effort into suggesting that you make a contribution to a musical cause. Jherek Bischoff (previously of artsy Seattle groups the Dead Science and the Degenerate Art Ensemble, also both excellent) has put out a few good solo albums since the Dead Science apparently broke up (see guitarist Sam Mickens, transplant to Brooklyn). Bischoff's going to be putting together a live show with the Wordless Music Orchestra, and collaborators like Mirah, David Byrne, and Greg Saunier, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, set to occur in Manhattan on February 4. He needs your money.

He's trying to raise $5000 in order to fly out all necessary parties. Help a brother out. The incentives he's giving away as thanks for donations are pretty worthwhile, so think of this as buying music. Which is something you used to do, anyway. Plus, he's a Virgo, which means he puts a lot of care into his work. You know.

Proof of how rad he is:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream

Hallo, my review of the new Oh Sees non-LP has been posted elsewhere; I say non-LP because it's actually a double-EP, which more bands ought to do if they're worried about the record slipping by track six. The band also headlined a marvelous, costume-ridddled show in Los Angeles a couple days before Halloween - it's funny to think that just three years ago, they were opening for the Mae Shi at a tiny venue like the Smell. Surely John Dwyer will finally become famous one of these days...

Purchase Carrion Crawler/The Dream (you won't regret it!)

Jesse Morris

Here's a fellow who used to busk in San Francisco and recently passed away. He was also featured in the San Francisco Gate less than a year ago over his work with country band the Man Cougars. He did a mean Johnny Cash imitation and had begun recording this album several years ago but never finished it. Proceeds from the sales of his unfinished country-punk record will go toward his memorial service in December; obviously, you can stream or download it for free, but you may as well help out with costs and put in the mere five bucks to do so. Obit in the SF Weekly can be found here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thee Cormans are coming...

Speaking of surf rock...the Halloween countdown begins! Halloween Record w/Special Effects was just released in time for (you guessed it) Halloween. And should you be lucky enough to live in Southern California, Thee Cormans will be making some live appearances with the likes of Nobunny and the sweet, sweet Mark Sultan in the very near future.

10/28 - Burbank, CA - Viva Fresh Mexican Restaurant
10/29 - San Diego, CA - 'Til Two Club
10/30 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar
11/25 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar

(Dude. It's free and it's in Burbank.)

Thee Cormans - "Open The Gates"

The Bombay Sweets!

Safe but pleasant surf rock record from a former Selby Tiger. In a nutshell.

Purchase a bunch of vinyl by the Bombay Sweets.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christine Leakey

New pleasant surprise entered the inbox this week; Christine Leakey - why, she just leaked a few songs into my inbox, har har ugh - is a darling Canadian lady in her upper 30s who not only enjoys making cashew cheese and blogging, but is coming out with a record this January. The loungy, mildly jazzy teaser for her debut solo album (Tapping Trees in a Trinket Box of Treasure) is available for free on her Bandcamp page (as is everybody's music, it seems). These songs are soft and sweet, her aesthetic more retro than the music itself, and if you tend to crave artists like Eleni Mandell, the Real Tuesday Weld, or - by a slight stretch - Azure Ray, Leakey may be the lady for you.

(Also, some mild Facebook stalking tells me she's a Stranglers fan, which makes her a winner in my book...)

Monday, October 24, 2011

deadCAT - R.I.P.

Well, hello there. Recently received a note from the approximately 21-year old Britt Teusink of Atlanta, Georgia, a fellow who makes noise pop under the name deadCAT and names his songs after...his dead cats. I'd like to think that this is what would have happened to Ariel Pink had Pink not grown up in a wealthy section of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gothic vagina time: Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe was on KXLU's Demolisten two years ago, and MTV is finally picking up on her about now. Woo MTV! Certainly for Portishead fans, or those trotting onto on the Zola Jesus bandwagon.

P.S. She's opening for the Black Heart Procession at the Satellite in Silverlake on December 3.

New! For fans of Batman, the Dead Science, and all things dapper...

Pre-order Slay and Slake here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jacuzzi Boys - Glazin'

Another one o' them power pop goodies, except it's about 70% goody. Not bad, though, and I do love it when a song is sung by a fancy lad.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Liz Green. Meee-ow, sort of.

Marvelous video, good song. Liz Green almost reminds, vocally, of what Florence (of she and her Machine) could be with a bit of extra maturity and creative flair. Also have a listen to "Hey Joe" (no, nothing like a Make Up-style cover of pure magic, but good nonetheless). It's off new record O, Devotion! set for release on November 14.

The new Dum Dum Girls record is streaming fo' free and the Dum Dum Girls will be playing (also fo' free) at Amoeba in Hollywood tomorrow at 7pm. Yay vaginas!

Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams by subpop

Friday, September 16, 2011

Boston Spaceships - Let it Beard

What a fuckin' fantastic record from Bob Pollard, people who weren't in Guided by Voices, people who were in Guided by Voices, and a solid stream of guests like Colin Newman, J. Mascis and Tahoe Jackson. The band is already kaput, a handful of years in, but do yourself a favor and buy this record.

Purchase Let it Beard

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Polvo - Heavy Detour

There's an analogy floating about the internet that goes, and I paraphrase: “Pizza is like sex – when it's good, it's great, and when it's bad, it's still pretty good.” Surely the same could be said of Polvo, a group formed in 1990 that split eight years later and then made an unexpected but welcome return in 2009 with In Prism. The only way to rate Polvo is against themselves, because they've always been a step above others in their genre – wildly guitar-driven indie rock (very much in the “'90s alt-rock” sense) that would pave the way for math rock, with riffs challenging but not overindulgent, unconventional tuning, and Asian-inspired flair.

To say that their comeback record was a bit of a disappointment only holds true when measured against their own best records – arguably Today's Active Lifestyles and the Celebrate the New Dark Age EP, respectively released in 1993 and 1994. The same could potentially be said of their late '90s releases as well, though; an album like Exploded Drawing contained memorable parts (refer to the opening riff of “Fast Canoe” for one), but was somewhat dull next to what the band had previously created, and was capable of creating.

So, “Heavy Detour.” Polvo quite possibly realized the appeal of their earlier work after the release of In Prism, which was well and good as a rock album but boasted none of the embellishments that had once set them apart. “Heavy Detour,” then, the first single off a new record that's yet to be named or dated, sees a return to those Asian-inspired pulloffs that adorned their work from the mid 1990s. Only here, they get lost in a fair bit of overproduction and a synthetic orchestra that weighs too heavily, disappointments topped only by the fact that Ash Bowie's darling lisp has been replaced by a voice in bluesy rhythm that sounds raspy, aged, and tired. B-side “Anchoress” is more a return to form and reminds of a bit of “City Spirit” (Celebrate the New Dark Age), but also begs to be forgiven for its flat vocals, and finds the group sounding as creatively spent as they have ever been, which, again, means that the track would pass for a decent single from any other group, and is an example of a band that fares better than most reunion efforts. But for a band of Polvo’s caliber, it doesn’t provide the thrill of anticipation that’s needed to try and lure in the crowd prior to a fresh record or tour.

Polvo - Heavy Detour by MergeRecords

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A. Grimes - Sextape

Hiya, hello. This recently released EP (labeled Sextape, natch) was brought to my attention recently; the ambiguously named A. Grimes is a group out of Atlanta, and yes, they'd fit on a lineup with Black Lips - time to get that out of the way, I think. They'd also fit quite well on most lineups of L.A. venue the Smell, as a messy, lo-fi, vaguely-Gypsy-punk four-piece. Emphasis on messy. Fun!

If you're into it, also have a listen to one of their earlier singles from the spring, "M.I.L.F."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who's this handsome fella? Why, it's Simon Reynolds. He wrote this book:

It was a pretty good book about the postpunk movement. No, it was a damn good book about the postpunk movement. Simon Reynolds has also written a book called Retromania. He's going to be in Los Angeles tomorrow promoting and signing it. Hoo-ray!

1818 N. Vermont
Los Feliz
5:00 pm

13 & God - Own Your Ghost

Little has changed since the 2005 debut of 13 & God, a supergroup of sorts comprised of Germany's the Notwist and Oakland-based Adam "Doseone" Drucker, Jeffrey "Jel" Logan and Dax Pierson, who otherwise parade around as Themselves and a large chunk of innovative hip hop band Subtle. Much like the latter half's work with Subtle, in particular, the first record by 13 & God was a bit dreary, with Dose's lyrics more contemplative than the simpler wit and rhyme typical of rap, brought to a lesser degree of urgency by the Notwist's downtempo instrumentation. And this is characteristic of them, still, in 2011.

What has changed is that, just prior to the release of that first record, keyboardist Dax Pierson was paralyzed during a tour accident with Subtle – an event that would force him to go entirely digital as a musician (and, as he's previously blogged, as a music consumer). As a result, he's forced to play a less active role with respect to touring and collaborative recording. As a member of 13 & God, online communication has replaced the possibility of physically recording with the Notwist in Germany, and Pierson's voice has become his biggest asset. And yet, this hardly affects the record – not because his role was insignificant in the first place, but because 13 & God records feel very much like Notwist records with an added bit of thunder, and Dose’s nasal vocal spinning.

Whereas Subtle and Themselves can take on heavier beats, or even an angry, somewhat bitter political or anti-(fill in the blank) message hovering above and throughout Dose’s nerdy wordplay, the Notwist provide a more somber coolness – Themselves give a shit and then some; this isn’t so much the case here, and lyrics seem less a focal point this time around, although “You can’t get the eat out of death” is a line appearing on no fewer than three songs on Own Your Ghost.

But 13 & God are at their best when that coolness is broken; a hint of that Oakland magic begins to come through on “Janu Are,” where Markus Archer's unwavering coo-as-chorus is backed by a steady and toned-down tuba beat that almost reminds of a bass/clarinet hybrid. The low buildup of the record finally satisfies in its final four tracks, with “Death Minor,” a pure piece of noir and perhaps an update on Portishead’s “Wandering Star,” leading into “Sure as Debt,” an aggressive, bass-heavy dancehall-style track that serves as the album’s climax, and falling beautifully into “Beat On Us” and “Unyoung” (completed from a demo by Pierson). This record is perhaps not entirely consistent with itself, but it is consistent with the relationship between bands that 13 & God established on its debut.

13 & God - Unyoung

Purchase Own Your Ghost

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Klak Tik - Must We Find a Winner

I'd like to say a few words about Sufjan Stevens before moving onto something more current. Stevens, at one point, had caused me to stop in my tracks with his whimsical and minor orchestral arrangements, and of course, his lyrics – songs like “Flint” and “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” had, eight years ago, caused me to rethink what it meant to be a good songwriter. The stuff was beautiful. And sure, maybe his state projects, all two of them, were based off research and not firsthand accounts. But boy, he nailed his words well. And his music set a tone well enough that he could have muttered the alphabet and still made me cry. It should also be noted that he was the first banjo player I could name without following with the word “corny.”

But the more attention he received, the more he began to come off as a snooty dad who decided it better to spend his media time accusing Vampire Weekend of being an “Afro-beat Ivy League pop” novelty, which he is entitled to do but which was somewhat unnecessary, and eventually his music began to look more like acting than genuine feeling. Which really made him no better than the music he criticized.

So, for that more current something. Last month saw the full-length re-release of Must We Find a Winner, from Klak Tik, a project from Copenhagen-born Søren Bonke and his team of seven, currently based in the UK. In a nutshell, the record is gorgeous. It is chilling and it is whimsical. It is clean and simple, yet full and warm. The acoustic guitar strings are as necessary and prominent as each brass piece. And it sounds as though there might be a hint of something genuine behind Bonke's voice, other than, you know, research.

At times (e.g., “Driverless Train to Expo”), Must We Find a Winner recalls the clean style and recording quality of the last Kings of Convenience record, with moments of silence so pure you could hear the drop of that proverbial pin; at others, like “Tomme Domme,” and “I Am Your Memory,” it is very much the stuff of Sufjan Stevens at his 2003 best. And as the group is quite outwardly influenced by him, I'm sure they'd be flattered to know that they pull off the qualities that once gave him his largest fanbase.

Klak Tik - The 2nd Wave is Sometimes Bigger

Klak Tik - Tomme Domme

Purchase Must We Find a Winner

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vaginas are pretty cool.

I recently came across an article from a 1996 issue of New York Magazine (thanks, Google Books) that ran a feature on women in rock, in which artists like Nina Gordon, Liz Phair and Exene Cervenka expressed a likelihood that men would go back to dominating the charts after a brief chimera of neo-feminism came and went and made a novelty of female musicians. I think this happened, but I don't think it was initially an issue so much of the novelty of the female musician so much as the female rock musician. Hell – look to the riot grrl movement, even, which abruptly ended and no longer seems to exist outside of Olympia.

In the late '90s, it came to be that for every PJ Harvey, Justine Frischmann or Courtney Love, there was a Beth Hart, Jewel or Abra Moore, and then some. And maybe that defined the difference between 1996 and 1997 – if 1996 was the year that women stood a chance in the rock world, Sarah McLachlan destroyed that chance, to an extent, by bringing the Lilith Fair to life in 1997 and ironically making a novelty out of the female musician. How? By lumping together every remotely successful female folk musician of the time and creating a fresh stereotype. Not only did the ballsy female rock musician become near-extinct in the mainstream as she gave way to the limp-voiced Lilith Fair stage subject, but Lilith Fair itself killed the possibility of women outgrowing the novelty title as it brought a label to the idea of the female musician in general. And the concept of the feminist, perhaps once “angry,” “bra-burning” and “lousy in the kitchen,” now turned to a picture of the female hippie with unshaven armpits and at least one song with a yodel of sorts. A soft, watered-down version of third-wave feminism. Fuck you, 1997.

That said, it kills me a little to lump together some whatsits on a couple of new girly rock bands. But it seems appropriate because they're quite similar, and, interestingly, largely reminiscent of the early-to-mid-'90s grunge and shoegaze periods. Which I love.

The first, Is/Is, has roots in Minneapolis and have self-referenced themselves as a “witch-gaze trio,” which is strangely accurate. They're like a grungier, more assertive version of Mazzy Star – a personal favorite of mine, nostalgic or otherwise – and they're currently celebrating the release of a 7-inch, which follows up their This Happening EP. Video for “Eating Hourglasses” to follow. Immediately.

Is/Is - So Long (off This Happening)

The other grungy, girly offering of the evening is a band called SneakPeek, and they're not actually an all-girl band (they're merely female-fronted), but bring an extremely similar sound and style to Is/Is. They're local to L.A., from Echo Park, and half of the group consists of a couple, the male side of which is former Willowz guitarist Aric Bohn. They are, essentially, what I wish the Dum Dum Girls sounded like, and are somewhat reminiscent of Dum Dum Girls' track "Stiff Little Fingers," in a nutshell. Largely nostalgic for the female/female-fronted grunge and shoegaze period that ought to have been more prominent in the '90s. They also have an EP scheduled for release this summer and will be at the 5 Star Bar in L.A. on July 22.

Friday, July 8, 2011

This is SWEEEEET and you should legally STEAL it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Sundelles on Daytrotter, woo!

Speaking of Daytrotter sessions, a session was recently posted that features San Diego natives/faux Brooklyn band the Sundelles, a member of whom is Trevor McLoughlin, brother of the Soft Pack's Matty McLoughlin. FUN!

Download the session fo' freeeeee. You can support them with moneys at www.sundelles.com.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Edwyn Collins on Daytrotter

And in case you missed it, Daytrotter hosted a session with Edwyn Collins last week. It's not only worth downloading, what with his live acoustic versions of Orange Juice's "Falling and Laughing" and 1994's "A Girl Like You," actually quite good done this way, without the spacey, pseudo-David Bowie quality of the original, but Daytrotter's posted a write-up on him that's really fucking heartbreaking. Their description of his appearance, after a double cerebral hemorrhage that took place six years ago and unfortunately shows in his slurring voice, and in his lyrics for "Losing Sleep," is rather crushing. But they give him the credit he's worth, and in return he gives them a great session. Go snag it!

Download the whole thing here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!

Pierce near the end of his life.

Well, lordy. It's just about what would be Jeffrey Lee Pierce's 53rd birthday, and, as with any brilliant songwriter/bandleader, he's already snuffed it. So, fifteen years after his death, I'm going to celebrate him by posting some of my favorite Gun Club songs from their best records.

The unfortunate thing is that by the time Pierce died, I was only 11 going on 12, and too busy with Bush and Nada Surf to find out that the Gun Club had existed. So, they were an early adulthood discovery. But my first time hearing Fire of Love was a thrill - god, it was exciting to find such a record in existence. Even as an adult, where nothing is forbidden and all the things that seem exciting in childhood become anticlimactic, Fire of Love is a record that, on both first listen and most recent listen, makes me feel like I'm sneaking a listen to something that no one else knows about. It's like the most thrilling secret I could struggle to keep to myself. And when I listen to it in the privacy of home, and share it with no one, I feel like the coolest fucking person on the planet. It's just that good. And it holds up so incredibly well, thirty years in.

The only thing better than discovering Fire of Love, in fact, and this altogether genre of cowpunk that I'd never before placed in a genre, was discovering that 1982's follow-up, Miami, was even better. More cohesive, more mature both musically and a bit lyrically (and, I suppose, the lack of that forbidden "n" word found on Fire of Love, which would be absolutely banned today, made me more comfortable listening to Miami). Not to mention that great version of CCR's "Run Through the Jungle," the only occasion on which I've found success in liking a CCR song. And beyond this record, to find 1987's Mother Juno, and discover that Pierce and his rotating lineup could not only throw down country and blues with an untouchable punk spirit, but that they could also offer a song as unexpectedly lush and delicate as "The Breaking Hands."

The Gun Club became a favorite as soon as I heard them, and they'll probably stay in my top five for a good number of years. I'd be an idiot to idealize Pierce, because the truth of the matter is that he drank himself into a coma and died at 37, and he spent his childhood in places like Montebello and Granada Hills, which aren't exactly glamorous much. But he reminds me of the spirit I recall Los Angeles having in the '80s, something it's lost since, and his music was nothing short of brilliant. So, I'm going to call it a night and say, "Happy Birthday, and thanks for giving me that rare something to get excited about."

If you don't own Fire of Love, Miami, or Mother Juno, you ought to. Go buy them. Fire of Love comes out on vinyl July 5. And for superfans, Early Warning has great versions of their stuff, including a marvelous acoustic version of "Promise Me."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Range Rats!

Hi, all. Been meaning to post a bit about this find for a few months now - lord knows there's more where that came from - and am pleased to have a few spare minutes to spend on it. Having been a fan of Dead Moon for a few years, and Pierced Arrows since catching them on Valentine's Day 2008 with Black Lips (oh, lordy, what a nice time for a hyperlink), it was a treat to discover another project by Fred and Toody Cole, a one-off called Range Rats that appeared to last only for one album's worth of material, and which preceded Dead Moon.

Recorded in 1986, the Range Rats' only record is a low-budget home recording by the couple out of Clackamas, in that vague genre of cowpunk that doesn't seem to get made much anymore (see: Gun Club, Lone Justice, Blood on the Saddle). In fact, it's ridiculously simple: Fred, Toody, and a drum machine. And given such, the record gets a bit repetitive in its faux-nostalgic formula for the old west. It's unlikely that they could have kept this formula up for long, so it's quite lucky that Dead Moon formed shortly after the experiment. But its faux nostalgia found a natural jumping point in Fred's previous band, the Western Front, and it's got some hokey but fun chugga-chugga-choo-choo-style novelty to boast.

Fred Cole's turning 63 later this year, which pegs him at around 38 for the Range Rats recording; while most musicians hit their highest worth in their earliest years and are sorting out day jobs by the time their late 30s roll around, Cole hadn't even begun his time in the bands that would find him at his best known, not to mention that he hadn't yet recorded his best work. This Range Rats record is likely a novelty find strictly for fans of Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows (as might be the case with other, earlier bands of his, like the Lollipop Shoppe), but it's a cheery little adventure that fills a half hour nicely.

For some additional Fred/Toody Cole action:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sweet lord, miracles done gone happened!

Could it be true? The Gris Gris, playing live with King Khan?!

7/11/11 - Empty Bottle (Chicago, IL)
7/15/11 - The Echo (Los Angeles, CA)
7/23/11 - Oakland Metro (Oakland, CA)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Big PJ Harvey geek-out time!

Running through PJ Harvey's album spread, from Dry to Let England Shake, she's not only one of the most versatile musicians around – a grungy soloist, a pop singer, a piano balladeer – but she's gone through enough phases to divide her audience into so many categories. Not in the Woody Allen sense, that she's had a clear cut “good period” and “bad period,” because she is too careful about her work to allow such a thing, but in the sense that one might prefer her wailing toughly to “Rub 'Til it Bleeds,” while another might prefer the delicate precision of her voice on “Is This Desire?” and a third might prefer the way she goes apeshit on “Taut.” How many singers or musicians could you say, with equal breath, are both tougher and more elegant than you? She stands alone, save, perhaps, for her frequent collaborator, John Parish, who works similar magic.

I'd first heard PJ Harvey at something like nine years old, when I caught Beavis and Butthead making Family Ties references (“hey look, it's Mallory”) during an airing of “50 Ft. Queenie.” Admittedly, I didn't give much thought to her except to associate her with Justine Bateman, until I rediscovered her at fifteen. And, my god, to run across 4-Track Demos saved me from what could have been additional years of MxPx and Sum 41. In her early 20s she sounded powerful, tough, quirky, aware of both her sexuality and her strength.

Since then, she's shown herself to be a brilliant singer not only due to her versatility, but because she's one of few singers who can effectively act with her voice. Sure, she can imitate, and she's garnered tons of Patti Smith comparisons – she also hiccups like Siouxsie on “Let England Shake,” and channels, of all people, Sarah Brightman on “On Battleship Hill.” But she acts. On “Shame,” she sounds shaken up. Listen to the desperation coming through “C'mon Billy” or “Send His Love to Me.” Or the comedienne that shines through her growls on “Maniac” and “Claudine, the Inflatable One.” I could go on for days. And it would be pointless because you already know how brilliant she is.

That said, while I'd love to promote the fuck out of Let England Shake, it seems to be faring just fine. So I'll share a recording of a concert that Harvey and her band performed in London in 2004, an acoustic show that includes, among others, a great version of the unreleased “Uh Huh Her” and a Fall cover.

PJ Harvey - Live in London 2004 (full download)

And of course, some marvelous bonus downloads:

PJ Harvey - Daddy

PJ Harvey - Airplane Blues (with John Parish)

PJ Harvey - Maniac

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help me help Los Angeles!

Hello, all. Yes, times are slow here, musically, and yes, there will be more music to offer later this week. Good things, too. Very good things. In the meantime, if you have a spare moment and a spare dollar (or many - many are better than one), I'd be super, super, super happy if you stopped off at this page I've created in order to collect donations for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

If you're not a resident of Los Angeles, you can certainly put in a donation despite the fact. For some perspective, there are approximately 3.7 million people in Los Angeles, and an estimated 80,000 homeless in Los Angeles on any given night. Not counting those 80,000, consider the number of those who are housed and working or unemployed, simultaneously of a low enough income to require assistance. This is where organizations like the L.A. Regional Foodbank come in. I'm particularly proud to say that they redistribute perishable food through their Rapid Food Distribution and Extra Helpings programs, about which you can read up on here.

Donations can be made here. I've set a goal of $500, but would be thrilled to see that amount exceeded.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sad things from the world's opposite end.

Here's a new Carl Barat solo single, off the Death Fires Burn at Night EP, which is set for release on May 2. It's called "This is the Song," and it's certainly no "Run with the Boys," which smacks of George Michael a bit.


And, of course:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Catching up on seven-inch pieces, part two.

...and speaking of 7-inch releases that are at least six months old...

I had the chance to see Cheap Time in Downtown L.A. in March, and as predicted elsewhere, their live set is indeed much tighter and more thrilling than on their most recent record, which had let me down a bit. Also, Jeff Novak has marvelous cheekbones in person. But I digress. Opening for Cheap Time was Dead Meat, a trio from San Francisco by way of Florida who'd fit well on a concert lineup with bands like the Jesus Lizard, the Melvins, Pissed Jeans, and perhaps Tomahawk. The surprise of the night, they were sludgy, consistently hard, and as with all great bands, they've got a marvelous drummer (Robert Pagano).

Anyway, bass player James McNeal was quite nice and handed over a copy of their full-length Early Recordings on cassette when I purchased their 7-inch for "The King," and it's all-around a worthwhile snag. The album and single were released in 2010, and both feature snazzy artwork by Kelly Williams.

After a bit of careful Facebook stalking, I come to find that the guys in this band are younger than I am. Jesus H.

So, that's that and here's this:

1A. The King (MP3)
2A. Electric Head
2B. Rubber Snake (MP3)

Purchase the 7-inch single of "The King" (limited to 500 copies)

Catching up on seven-inch pieces, part one.

Hallo there, time to share a few goodies I've picked up at the shops and shows in the last month or two - the most recent Record Store Day of two weekends' past re-ignited a certain enthusiasm that'd been waning in the recent year (so much dance music to sift through, as of late, and it's not my cup of anything, much). So it's time to share what has been tickling my fancy, new or old.

First, the Hives released a 7-inch - Tarred and Feathered - in the summer of 2010, yet it somehow slipped past me (and a load of others, given how little their name's been spoken since Tyrannosaurus Hives) until I happened upon it at a local shop in L.A. Not quite got the energy of their earliest, but it's got three punk covers, and they're not half bad. Come download the second of three:

1A. Civilization's Dying (Zero Boys)
2A. Early Morning Wake Up Call (Flash and the Pan)

No U.S. tour announced thus far, and gee golly, they're a goody live, but they are in Europe this summer, and for a mere 62 Euros (90 USD!), you can purchase one of their fur hats.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's music and it's free! (for now)

Why, hello there. There's a brand spankin' new Henry Clay People EP up for a free stream, and you can find it by clicking here. You can also see the Henry Clay People get sweaty and fatigued on a Coachella stage later this week.

Otherwise, here's a spiffy button that'll allow you to download a song off the new EP, "California Wildfire."


Additionally, the brand new (as in, comes out April 12) Crystal Stilts album, In Love with Oblivion, is available for free stream on the Hype Machine right now. And it's awfully good - the band can best be summarized as a combination of the most overcited influences in rock, meaning there's an Ian Curtis imitation crooning its way over Velvet Underground-drumming that leads into a bit of T. Rex glam. And there's spacey, '60s-style kitsch all throughout. But the record is somehow not boring, not contrived, and is all in all a really fun listen. "Sycamore Tree" and "Shake the Shackles" are particular favorites.

Oh! And guess who's playing at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles on May 6? Yes, that's right. These guys!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kristin Hersh, hooray!

It's about time - Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave) released a memoir called Rat Girl last year, and she's finally promoting it in Los Angeles this weekend. Hersh will be at Stories Cafe in Echo Park this Sunday, April 10, at 2pm. Funnily, I was listening to "Not Too Soon" at work this afternoon when I received an email popup letting me know about this very event. "I must go!" I said. And so must you.

Purchase The Real Ramona (20 years old this year...)

(Yes, I know it's Tanya's voice and not Kristin's, but that's beside the point)
(And while using parentheticals, "Garoux des Larmes," off 1987's The Fat Skier, was released when the ladies of Throwing Muses were 21. 21?! Could you have written songs like that at 21?)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Psychic Paramount - II

Their first studio record, Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural, was released when math rock and a psych revival were in full effect – how perfectly placed they could have been, if only they'd been given a bit more of the spotlight. Or any of it, really. That Brooklyn’s Psychic Paramount would require another six years to release a proper follow-up is somewhat of a mystery.

The Psychic Paramount could be lumped into so many bandwagons, yet they're not a pure imitation of anything. They are too organized to be Lightning Bolt. They lack the humor of Acid Mothers Temple. They are perhaps halfway between Oxes and Earthless, though they lack the machismo of one and stand too tightly at attention to bear the stoner rock aspirations of the other. But surely, what they have got is what the band Cream was once founded on, the concept that each musician is necessary and serves such a purpose that no member can be considered filler. Only, luckily, they’re not Cream.

II brings less of a fuzzy thrash than Gamelan, but is equally as indulgent while somehow being as pared down as it needs to be. The production somehow seems cleaner this time around, but in this case, the clarity of sound works to their advantage and makes every instrument all the more important (which couldn’t be said of a genre, for instance, like garage rock). “Intro/SP” sees Drew St. Ivany’s guitar driving forward like a ticking motor while Jeff Conaway’s drums hold it down with a steady weight. And as a piece of any perfectly good instrumental album should do, it bleeds seamlessly into its nearly-nine-minute follow-up, “DDB,” which is at once sludgy and barreling and changes its pacing no fewer than four times while maintaining its rhythm and leading into a conclusion that stretches out for over a minute.

From there, the record goes through phases, from almost beautiful, hypnotic, steady rhythm to jazz-style drum and bass, to that familiar ticking motor of a guitar that – god, forgive these fingers – once began with The Edge, though the Psychic Paramount should garner no other U2 reference in the slightest, as they’ve got so much more backbone and would deserve a far more interesting comparison point, if only there were one to give. II forced us to sit patiently for six years after the release of Gamelan, but god, it was worth the wait.

Beary nice. And he's still got time to return his paws.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

For the next 8.5 hours (until 2:00 am PST), LivingSocial will match all donations of $5 to the Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami Fund via the American Red Cross.

Donate HERE.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Hallo friends. To the point, then: Jack Rabid, my favorite-y favorite-ist magazine editor (of The Big Takeover) has a podcast on BreakThru Radio, and he posted one yesterday. It's got goodies from Wire, Edwyn Collins, Berlin Brats, Off!, and mo'. No, he doesn't pay me. And yes, you can listen to him by clicking here. His voice is corny and enthusiastic, like his editorials and interviews for The Big Takeover. In fact, the very thing that got me hooked on the magazine was his '90s nostalgia and unabashed enthusiasm for the music, and the way he integrates himself into everyone else's scene during interviews by exclaiming, "Yeah! Me too! Me too!" every time a musician describes any sort of prior experience in touring or recording.

Rabid on Edwyn Collins, post-stroke: "At the age of 51, he is not done."

Way to fend off the death pools, Jack.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sam Owens...

And then, there are the softer bits, because indie kids like soft bits. This fellow named Sam Owens released his fourth (and apparently first publicly released) record a few months back, How to Build a Clock, and it's sort of a solid singer-songwriter joint from someone who's too whimsical and fancies him too much of a musician's musician to be labeled a mere singer-songwriter. Waltzes and fanciful instrumentation and a voice that sounds frankly like a bored Tony Lowe (Fast Piece of Furniture). Richard Swift fans should be all over this shit.

Purchase How to Build a Clock

And download his Daytrotter session from May 2008, which is significantly more stripped down and was allegedly made possible by way of Craigslist rideshare.

Why the above demonstration of proper peeling? Owens is also an illustrator and designer for hire! Check out his work at samowens.org.

Garagey things.

Hooray, new Ty Segall! And now we get to wait until June, when his new record of the same title comes out on Drag City.


I'm behind on these great Scion A/V garage releases; last week, a split from Sex Beet and Human Eye came out - check out this here spectacular cover art, actually:

The Human Eye track, "Martian Queen," is oh-so-spacey and sounds very Beehive and the Barracudas. And Sex Beet's "Alone" should please Rezillos/Revillos fans.

Human Eye - Martian Queen
Sex Beet - Alone


Last month's Scion A/V split was between the Strange Boys and Natural Child, and it sounds like a whole lotta America smashed into seven minutes.

Strange Boys - American Radio
Natural Child - The Jungle

Friday, February 25, 2011

Deerhoof - Deerhoof Vs. Evil

Well, hallo again. Here's my disappointing verdict of the newest Deerhoof record, released in full last month:

Why disappointing? See, the best part of Deerhoof is their drummer, Greg Saunier. And there's such a tiny little fraction of what could be on this record, with regard to him, and in contrast with every other Deerhoof record. Their range is fantastic as a group, and certainly they're versatile and skilled musicians, but I fear there will never again be another "Flower."

Purchase Deerhoof Vs. Evil

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Celebration came back!

It's beyond me why Celebration isn't better known, or why Katrina Ford isn't given more credit for being the fantastic singer she is. The above was recorded last month, along with a stripped down version of "Pressure" (off the marvelous 2007 album The Modern Tribe), for two.

If stripped down versions aren't your thing, they've finally (finally!) released a new record, Hello Paradise, and they've gone and pulled a Radiohead and offered up the digital version for whatever you'd like to give them. And they've pulled a Radiohead while pulling a Matthew Friedberger, making this the first collection of songs in a series called Electric Tarot. Free streams and/or downloads in full, though they would also appreciate any buyers of the vinyl version.

Celebration - Hello Paradise (link to full album)
(Of note: It sounds nothing like their first two records!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

...speaking of bands that lost out on Frankie Rose...

Vivian Girls, back when Frankie Rose was their drummer.
See how unhappy they all were?

'tis the season for new albums by '60s girl group-influenced, all-female garage rock bands who used to have Frankie Rose as a drummer. This spring sees new releases by Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls (between them, there are, I dunno, like, seven girls), and they're both pretty decent! Some snippets:

A much happier Vivian Girls, with new NEW drummer Fiona Campbell, a replacement for Frankie Rose replacement Ali Koehler, who left to drum for Best Coast, quite possibly the best career move she'll ever make.

(from Share the Joy, out April 12)
They will also be at the Smell in Los Angeles on Feb. 22.

Hey look! It's Frankie again. This time with the more
articulate Dum Dum Girls. Alas, 'twould not be for long.

(from the He Gets Me High EP, out March 1)

It should also be mentioned that Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls - the token redhead (dare I say "the one with the bangs") - has her own side project, La Sera, and her record comes out this Tuesday (!) on Hardly Art. Check her out here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Barettas!


Here's a small something from a few ladies out of Ontario - the Canadian one, not the one in California that's home to little but a crap mall. The Barettas sent over a nice note about their blue-collar upbringing in Hamilton, noting the following:

There are no trust funds in Hamilton, so each of us has taken on a couple jobs, usually a combination of cleaning houses during the day, and tending bar at night. The reward, and real purpose for these jobs is that it lets us make music and blow off steam at every other possible opportunity.

And sometimes it's forgotten how hard musicians can work. So, let it be said. Their seven-inch single, "Touche," can be had for free (or, in their words, "for FRRREEEE"), and it's got a nice poppy swing to it, actually reminds me quite a lot of "Trying Too Hard" by Love is All, with an undoubtable Gwen Stefani-circa-1996-vibrato in the vocals. Go stream or download it at Bandcamp.

Sorry. BANDCAMP. And perhaps purchase the thing thereafter (er...in Canada, at this one shop...hrm...).