Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Couple of High-profile Concerts

This city can be so delightfully surrealistic sometimes.
Walking from my place up to the Hollywood Bowl R.E.M. show Thursday evening (May 29), the first thing you encounter is Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and the Cookie Monster on the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Theatre. Next it's up by the giant elephants in the set reproduction of "Intolerance" in the Hollywood Highland complex and out the back where one is dazzled by the hills of Whitley Heights and beyond toward the Cahuenga Pass. The green trees, the red-tiled roofs on the white houses embedded into the hillside against a deep blue sky form an impossibly beautiful picture sometimes. It was just one of those moments.
Anyway, I made certain to be in my seat by 6:30 since The National opened and they were my first reason for attending. When they began with the first delicate notes of "Start a War" my spirits soared, thinking how often a band I love begins with the song I most want to hear. It's weird. For me, that song is the crowning achievement from their extraordinary CD "The Boxer". Matt Berninger isn't just a lyricist of enormous depth and perception, but when he tumbles out the lines, "Do you really think you can just put it in a safe, behind a painting, lock it up, and leave" followed later by, "You were always weird, but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do, now" in his rich baritone you understand that this is no ordinary band. They played a, roughly, 30 minute set of some of their best songs including "Fake Empire", "Mistaken For Strangers" and "Slow Show" with it's gorgeous piano part that just rolls along. This band's orchestrations are so exceptional they actually remind me of the film score for the 1978 Terence Mallick classic "Days of Heaven" with echoes of Saint-Saens "The Carnival of the Animals" and Ennio Morricone's underscore. Brilliant stuff! This band is so strong musically and lyrically, I didn't think the evening could get any better. Unfortunately, I was right.
It wasn't dark yet when Modest Mouse came on. I don't really know this band very well. I try not to become too enamored of a band that usually only plays stadiums. When there is so much great music you can see up close, why bother. (Exception must be made for a band like Arcade Fire, of course, and maybe for Modest Mouse, too.) I'm familiar with a couple of their very good music videos, but only have their latest CD, which is pretty great. They write tight, catchy, well constructed songs - some of them even habit-forming and their lead singer and founder, Isaac Brock, has the kind of voice one either finds annoying or thinks, like I do, it's a wonderful unique sounding bark/sing style. They played songs from "Before the Ship Even Sank" and unfamiliar material, all of which sounded terrific. So far, so good.
Then came the crowd flooding in for R.E.M., all their cell phones glowing. I'm afraid I became so annoyed by the audience that when R.E.M. took the stage I was not entirely receptive. But they sounded great and performed a blistering version of "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" that was exccptional, But after watching the person next to me furiously text messaging, barely looking up occasionally to bounce her head a few times, and being surrounded by jerks, I fled the Bowl after about 6 songs. And, frankly, I don't regret it. It may be my last trip to the Bowl to see a rock concert. I don't like being a quarter of a mile away from the performers. I did that enough in the '60's and '70's and I don't want to do it again. No offence to R.E.M. They are a very important band in the history of rock and roll but forgive me if I'm not crazy about their fan base.

Friday night was off to the Wiltern again for Beirut. Like I said before, this venue can be troublesome, but I managed to get into the pit again and it was perfect. I may have to reassess my opinion of the Wiltern. It was the complete opposite experience as at the Hollywood Bowl the night before. Even though the crowd was maybe half the age as the Bowl audience they were well-mannered, attentive, and I don't think I saw a single cell phone the whole time. It was an all-ages show, so there were lots of parents with their kids, and it was hard to tell which liked the band most. Opening bands, Devon Williams was fine, and The Brunettes, even better, if a bit too sunny-pop, though they played an impressive range of instruments. Beirut delivered a performance that will definitely place as one of my year's best, just like their show last October at the Avalon was one of last year's best. There seemed to be less members than last time as 8 musicians took the stage. But the sound was that of a full orchestra - well, allright, really like a mariachi band lost in Paris after being stranded in some middle eastern country like Franistan for some time and picking up influences everywhere. Yeah, that's what they sound like. They were on stage less than an hour but gave us a fully satisfying set. Zack Condon directs his band of merry players something like a conductor, but, musical genius that he is, he never neglects his own vocals or trumpet playing. I suspect this band is full of musical prodigies - all members seem to play at least two instruments and sing on top of it. They played through song after song with perfect precision and remarkable discipline. I was overwhelmed! I declare "The Flying Club Cup" one of the best CD's I own and Beirut is one of the best bands on the planet and this is the best of all possible worlds.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Week

Tuesday night (May 27) I thought I'd start reving up for the onslaught of high-profile concerts later this week with a short trip over to the Silverlake Lounge to catch a favorite local band, The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra. I've seen this band a lot since first encountering them a few months ago at a "Let's Independent!" function and have been lucky enough to get to know them a bit. Funny, when I'm not seeing them perform, they always seem to be in the audience; real enthusiastic supporters of the local music scene that they are. Last night's set was another solid show by this very reliable band who are set to release a new 5-song EP (July 3rd CD release party at the Echo). They performed a few new songs mixed with the always welcome "In a Dream" and "Don't Be Fooled". I could have done with a little more volume on the vocals , but still Kelli Anne Kofke and Hunter Costeau weave their voices together so skillfully they overcome any minor sound problem. The rest of the band is so tight , I always admire their precision, and besides, the music is very pretty. Hunter can write a really terrific pop song, but when they slow down with a song like "Nostalgic" you realize his compositions can be really beautiful. All elements seem to be in place for this band to make the leap. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch, either.
I had to let most of the rest of the program go, hosted by Rock Insider and Web in Front, just to conserve some energy.
Thursday night is the R.E.M. show at the Hollywood Bowl. I've never seen them before, but I have to confess, I'm kind of over them (Though I love a lot of their music) but when I heard Modest Mouse and The National were opening for them I had to go. Never seen M.M. but I saw The National last year at the El Rey and they were great, although they got big so fast they seemed almost awkward and embarassed by the attention. This, I found charming and not at all false modesty. Friday is Beirut at the Wiltern and they gave one of the best shows I've ever seen last year so I'm most excited about this one. Saturday I'm going to the show everyone's talking about, Swervedriver at the Fonda. Opening band Film School was the big attraction for me, but Xu Xu Fang has such a loyal following, but I didn't know them, so I listened to some of their myspace selections and they sound better than great. Swervedriver helps me fill in some history and there are so many holes in my rock music knowledge that I appreciate opportunities to see bands that helped inspire so many new artists. Last year's Slint concert helped in that pursuit, too. What a great show that was! (Sigh!)


Friday, May 23, 2008

A Study in Contrasts

At The Dresden Dolls concert at the Wiltern Theatre Wednesday night (May 21st), Margaret Cho hosted an evening featuring strong female vocal rock. First, I was lucky enough to get into the pit, which hadn't seemed possible when I first saw the line outside, and second, I'm realizing that if you're not in the pit at this venue you're either crushed against the railings at each terraced level or you're buried so deep in a crowd, you only see the tops of the heads of the performers. But in the pit the Wiltern is perfect!
First up was a band called Smoosh, who are, unbelievably, three sisters, 16, 14 and 11 years old, that play some incredible indie-pop music that had the audience right with them the whole time. Terrific lead singer (17), wild and wonderful drummer (14), and a bass player (11) who all play like they've been doing it for years. In fact I was part way into their set before I realized how young they are (confirmed by some kind concert-mates I was with).
Next came a favorite of mine, Lavender Diamond, to enchant the crowd with her delightful "Snow White-on-acid" persona. Actually she is Becky Stark and she has a gorgeous voice, strong convictions, an open heart and comic-timing to put many a stand-up to shame. And she is the genuine article. There's no pretense or insincerity in her and she truly believes this is "the best planet in the world". They began quietly with "Find Away" which starts simply then blossoms into great beauty as Becky's voice soars off into the stratosphere. The audience loved it and I'm never sure how people will respond to her. Their set included songs from their last super CD "Imagine Our Love" and some new songs which sounded as good or even better than their other material. I can't wait for their next CD. By the way, Becky will be performing this weekend at the Topanga Festival with another group she is a part of called The Living Sisters, in which she is joined by the equally delightful and talented pair, Inara George and Eleni Mandell. Go, if you can, they're marvelous!
She's also hosting an event Tuesday night at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax concerning the upcoming release of the film "Imagine Our Love" based on Lavender Diamond's last CD.
When The Dresden Dolls took the stage wearing what looked like quasi-Russian military oversized hats and Zorro masks, you knew the fun was just beginning. They plunged head first into a new song and I and the rest of the audience were like putty in their hands. After removing their headgear, they plowed through, at least, an hour and 45 minutes of new songs, old material, and a cover or two. This was my first time seeing Amanda Palmer since she had throat surgery and she sounds pretty much the same. I believe it was the node removal that plagues many women singers when they begin, suddenly, to sing all the time because their careers take off. It happened to Julie Andrews in the 1950's after doing "My Fair Lady" on stage for a couple of years, to Grace Slick in the 60's when Jefferson Airplane got big and to Stevie Nicks in Fleetwood Mac in the 70's. One can always notice a suble change to their voices but never enough to harm their extraordinary talent. Anyway, Brian Viglioni and Amanda enraptured us with their oversized theatrical antics and a bunch of great songs; "Coin-Operated Boy" from the first CD to "Modern Moonlight" from "Yes, Virginia" to material from their new CD, "No, Virginia". Amanda even came down to the pit to stroll across slowly as she sang one number on the floor with us. Thrilling! I love their music and lyrics, the way Amanda boldly confronts human sexuality, without flinching, in all it's ambiguity, complications and pleasures. She is both amazingly insightful and very brave!

Thursday night (May 22nd) found me wandering into the Knitting Factory for a show with The Radar Bros. and The Parson Red Heads. After the high profile show at the Wiltern the night before, the sparse crowd and big living room size of the K. Factory felt like the other end of the spectrum at first, but once The Parson Red Heads took the stage I realized the quality of the performance was at the same level as the big show with the Dolls. This band is wonderful and, being almost a year since I've seen them, I can't say they've improved, just that they have always delivered a top quality set no matter where I've seen them and last night was no exception. Except that the new material they performed shows off Evan Way's songwriting gifts are just growing. They performed songs from their whole catalog but I have to say the song introduced as one they've never recorded was a real highlight. Record it soon, please! Don't miss them when they perform for Joe Fielder's "Let's Independent!" next month at Boardner's, Hollywood.
Next up was The Radar Bros. who really had the crowd with them as they wandered through a set of their lovely, laid back gems. I really like their style and easy stage manner. It was similar to the set they played at Spaceland's 13th Anniversary, but since that set made me a lifetime fan, it was just what I wanted.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Let's Independent!" May, 2008

Tuesday night was "Let's Independent!" night at Boardners and once again Joe of Radio Free Silver Lake offered a stellar lineup of rising bands.. The evening had more of a post punk feel than usual beginning with openers The Karabel Nightlife. They play a kind of angular rock with elements of folk and punk, flavored by leader Jesse Davis' nice twisty melodies that, once I learned that his grandfather was film composer Leonard Rosenman, made perfect sense to me. His score for 1955's "East of Eden" is full of lovely melodies with a real heartrending edge whereas his score for the brilliant 1976 TV movie "Sybil" is dissonant, angular and scary. Both these elements are evident in Davis' compositions and it makes for a nice interesting sound. The Soft Hands, up from Long Beach, played a more straightforward set which was nicely focused and had the audience bobbing their heads. They seemed to have the biggest crowd of the evening and as The Savages went on, as other blogs have reported, the crowd thinned considerably. Apparently, I was fortunate because other writers have complained about the loud gabbing going on during their set, but I, luckily, slid over to one of the unoccupied couches on the side and, with a direct view of the band, I was blithely unaware of any commotion and got to enjoy the band's psych-prog-post punk amalgam of sound with fabulous atmospherics from just some fog and a strobe light . Fun night of music with friends.

Wednesday night was The Dresden Dolls, Lavender Diamond and Smoosh and I hope to post on that tomorrow.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Beautiful Harmonies in the Heat

It was, what, 120 degrees in Los Angeles on Saturday? Once the sun went down it was possible to venture out into the balmy night air and head on over to the Echoplex to see Earlimart on a bill with Light FM, Siggy and Voxhaul Broadcast. Thankfully the Echoplex was cool, open and airy.
Got the chance to meet up with Aaron Espinoza before the show and he said how excited they are about the new album, and they'd be previewing some of the new material during the set. He was very gracious in welcoming me to the local blogging community so we shared some of our histories. Asking if I'd been there the night Earlimart opened for Elbow at the Avalon (8. APR. 06) I said yeah and that launched us into an Elbow rave which led me to say I'd seen Aaron and band once before that at the King King in Hollywood (22. MAR. 06) with Band of Horses, which led to the Hollywood Bowl show (7. JUL. 07) with The Decemberists, An
drew Bird and Band of Horses which we both attended, which led us to the brilliance of Andrew Bird's performance, easily one of my concert highlights from 2007. What an apt description of what I find so appealing about the current music scene. You follow one band down a path and come away with 10 or 20 other bands equally deserving of attention!
I only heard a couple of song by Siggy, who was celebrating his CD release at this show, but he played a pretty impressive cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and I liked what I heard of his own compositions (also he has a great myspace page) so I'll be checking him out again.
I don't know how I've managed to miss Voxhaul Broadcast till now, they've been playing everywhere recently, but I thought they lived up to all the buzz they've been generating with a really solid set of rock and roll music. They have a charismatic leader in David Dennis, with a strong voice, and the rest of the band seem to really enjoy themselves.
Earlimart began with a couple of brand new songs off the new "Hymn and Her" CD which were beautiful. Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray performed such spot on, perfect harmonies they could melt a person. Good sound mix, too. From "Mentor Tormentor" they gave us "Nevermind the Telephone", "700>100" and from "Treble and Tremble" - "The Hidden Track" and the alway gorgeous "Heaven Adores You" among others, interspersed with a healthy dose of new songs. Judging from this, it will be another sterling CD from this reliable band. I try really hard to learn everyone's names but, alas, I forget sometimes, but I want to mention the contribution of Andrew Lynch on flugelhorn and keyboards and, here's my obfuscation, the rest of the band. But I really mean it! For the encore, Aaron and Ariana came back as a duo and Ariana delivered a stirring and poignant rendition of "Happy Alone" which seems to be one of everybody's favorite Earlimart songs and then they finished with, I believe it was, "Gonna Break Into Your Heart". A couple of really gorgeous vocal performances.
Ever so briefly saw Kevin Bronson, but got to spend some time with Hunter Costeau of The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, another up and coming band I follow a lot, who is putting the finishing touches on a new 5-song EP called "Escapements" due out on June 3rd.

Sunday night I had to choose between a few good shows but already had a ticket to see Dios (Malos) at the Troubadour. This was my fourth time seeing Dios (who used to be Dios (Malos) after they were originally just Dios) and they always play some of the tightest, most disciplined, spacey, psychedelic rock I've heard (does that cover it?) On Sunday night they delivered what seemed like the Dios Symphony - all the songs were strung together with, maybe, two distinct breaks featuring new arrangements of old songs mixed with what I guess is new material. You'd be going along believing you were listening to a new song and suddenly you'd realize it was morphing into "I Want It All", then more unfamiliar material and next you're in the middle of "I Feel Fine All the Time". I thought it was an amazing concept for a set, carried off brilliantly. They moved drummer Patrick Vasquez up front and I think that plays very well with his trancelike, mesmeric style. You can't take your eyes off of him anyway, so why not put him up front . His drumming is extraordinary, too. Like with Earlimart it was also a night of extremely high quality vocal harmonizing. Joel Morales and bassist J.P. Caballero sing such sweet, carefully crafted harmonies they sound like The Everly Brothers at times. And I love their lyrics and just a mention for the great lightshow accompanying the band. Nice and trippy! Afterwards I asked their keyboard artist Ed Kampwirth what to call the band and he said it's still not completely settled but either name will do. I chose Dios. And I will see them again no matter what they call themselves.
Murder by Death was the headlining act, but after a couple of songs with the crowd thrusting their fingers at the lead singer on each downbeat, I realized they were meant for another audience than myself.

Still a great weekend of music.


Friday, May 16, 2008

A Few Words

I've been storing up some steam this week for the marathon of concerts that take up the rest of this month.
Saturday night kicks off with Earlimart, Voxhaul Broadcast and Light FM at the Echoplex. I've already heard Earlimart perform some of their new material, I think they did 1 or 2 new songs at the Spaceland 13th Anniversary Party back in March, and heard a couple of songs online and it sounds like more superb work. Anxiously awaiting the new album out July 1st.
Sunday is a big dilemma. I would really love to be at the Eagle Rock Bowling and Drinking Club Prom Party to see the phenominal Fol Chen and Castledoor and meet up with some friends there. Another artist I've just recently been enjoying both live and on CD is Imaad Wasif with Two Part Beast and he's opening for a suddenly announced Sunday date with The Raconteurs at the Fonda. But I've had a ticket for the Troubadour to see an old favorite, Dios Malos, play with Murder By Death Sunday night for a while and can't give it up, so that's where I'll be.
Monday night has all the great free residencies which everyone is talking about, but I'll probably let that go so I can do the "Let's Independent" Tuesday night (May 20) at Boardner's. This months bands are The Karabal Nightlife, The Soft Hands and The Savages and since Joe Fielder of Radio Free Silver Lake never disappoints I wouldn't miss it.
Wednesday, May 21 finds me at the Wiltern for a dose of The Dresden Dolls and their incomparable punk/cabaret act. Being a Boston native I'm perhaps biased but Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglioni are amazingly talented and every time I've seen them, they've left me ecstatic! Also Lavender Diamond are opening and Becky Stark is one of my favorite people on the planet.
Thursday I grabbed a ticket for The Radar Bros. at the Knitting Factory. Oddly enough, the first time I saw them, last January at the Echo, they went on so late I didn't really enjoy them, but when they played that 13th Spaceland shindig and played one of the best sets of the day, I was very impressed, bought the CD and now I'm a fan.
On Thursday, May 29 it's R.E.M., Modest Mouse and The National at the Hollywood Bowl. Friday, May 30 is Beirut at the Wiltern and Saturday, May 31 is Swervedriver and Film School at the Fonda, not to mention what may come up in between.
Also happy to hear this week, via Kevin Bronson, that Broken Social Scene are set to play Sunset Junction this summer. Sunset Junction is one of my favorite annual events and the last two years have introduced me to some wonderful bands. This year it takes place the weekend of August 23 and 24.
And off in the future are two concerts by Fleet Foxes, June 28 at the Echo and June 29 at Spaceland. This band just came out of nowhere within the last few months (really Seattle) recorded an EP in January , caused a small sensation at SXSW in March, completed a forthcoming full length CD and are already working on a new CD. They're busy touring Europe now, following some eastern U.S. dates and then they'll play Los Angeles for the first time on those two night followed by other national dates. They just put some new songs on their myspace page which I urge you to check out. This band will be big. They sound like heaven... or melted butter... or honey, I don't know, take your pick. Oh, and the leader of the band, Robin Pecknold is just 21 years old. Brilliant!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Random Notes

Mr. Shovel's Check One...Two, Indie 103.1 Monday showcase at the Viper Room is usually a highlight of the week, but he really outdid himself this week with a lineup that included two of my current favorite local bands, Everest and Film School.
, on such a roll right now, filled the venue to overflowing just before they began. I queried a few of the people standing right around me and most had never seen the band before but were told they had to see them by friends and acquaintances. Proof of the power of word-of-mouth. After Russell Pollard led the crowd in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" for his guitarist, Joel Graves, they opened with "Trees" and had the audience in the palm of their hand from that point on. I'm almost always impressed at the sound quality at this venue, but Everest never sounded better than this. And this includes the great sound they had at the Hotel Cafe in May, 07 and at the Echo last January. "I See It in Your Eyes" may be my number one favorite rock song of the moment with that long, languid instrumental section that could just go on forever as far as I'm concerned. On their great new CD "Ghost Notes" that song is followed by "Standing By" which I was just as glad they didn't perform because that song is so moving it could wring tears from a brick, and I don't like to cry at the Viper Room.
A sterling set by a great band as they go off on a limited cross country tour and a few European dates. They're scheduled to play Spaceland during Afternoons' June residency on June 16th and they'll be even bigger by then so count on a crowd there, too. Afternoons is another fine up and coming band spawned out of that rock combine, Irving.
Film School played next to a crowd that barely dispersed between bands and delivered the most raucous set I've yet seen them play. I spoke with guitarist Dave Dupuis earlier in the night and he told me they'd just finished a marathon drive back from Denver and hadn't even been home yet. Back from a bit of touring they must have been tired but they still pulled out a solid show beginning with an exhausting performance of the mesmerizing "Compare" and sailed through songs culled mostly from one of last year's best CD's "Hideout". The sound was a little inconsistent but didn't seem to affect their playing whatsoever.
Also had a chance to talk a little with Andy Lynch, but, being new to the scene, I'm a little rusty of band geneologies, and I've known him only as a band member of The Poor Excuses, who I've been trying to see, but he also plays in Earlimart who are a particular favorite of mine. So I'll be seeing him again Saturday night when Earlimart play the Echoplex, where Andy tells me they'll be playing some of the new material from their eagerly anticipated new release "Hymn and Her".
The Viper Room always is a curious mix of Sunset Strip and Silver Lake on these Monday nights, but I enjoy it and it's good to spread this great music around. Thanks Mr. Shovel and Indie 103.1.

P.S. Mark Sovel informs me that Melissa Renee Hernandez handles the booking for these evenings and I want to give a big shout out to her. Good Job!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Elbow at the Avalon

Elbow delivered a knock-out show on Friday night (May 9) at the Avalon, Hollywood.
Taking the stage at 9PM sharp, the curtain rose on a foggy purple glow, as the first twittering, liquid notes of "Starlings" were heard and the two, swaying, back-up singer/violinists began their swooning vocals. The band strode on stage all carrying trumpets and, at once, you realized how they get that magnificent blast of noise that puctuates the song that begins their new CD "The Seldom Seen Kid". With that they raised the audience off-earth where they kept us for a full ninety minutes. I don't know about the rest of the crowd but I remained airborne until sometime the next day.
They sang almost all the best songs from their superb new CD reaching a real audio/visual highlight during "Mirrorball" with the fog and mirrorball and strings as we became lost in a swirl of lights and melody. It was mind-blowing - and what a beautiful song! "Grounds for Divorce" is a great rocker and in "The Loneliness of the Tower Crane Driver", when the music builds to that huge cacophony punctured by Guy's wailing vocal, the audience went wild.
Guy Garvey makes such a strong connection to his audience, he actually seems to spend time focusing on each face in the audience and making eye contact, like he really wants to see who the people are that make up his audience. I noticed this also two years ago when I saw them for the first time, and that's rare.
From "Leaders of the Free World" CD they performed the title song, "The Stops", "Forget Myself"...all perfect. They had the audience performing the hand claps in "Mexican Standoff" and trained us to sing the chorus from their new powerhouse anthem "One Day Like This", allowing us to carry the melody freeing Guy to let his voice soar above us. Beautiful!
I wish the Avalon had more concerts of this calibre and in this genre because that place can absolutely fill up, as it did on Friday, but remain so open and airy you never feel closed in, and I was right down front, maybe 6 people deep from center stage. The audience was the kind that makes you proud of Los Angeles, completely enthralled by the band.
Guy directed the audience in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" so his drummer could record it for his son, Dylan. Then, being the last night of this current tour, he directed some well deserved applause toward his sound engineer and lighting technician, both outstanding jobs. He even gave a shout-out to The Watson Twins who were somewhere in the audience.
I missed most of opener Air Traffic so I couldn't judge.
Can't help but gush a bit over this one, but it really was one special night!


Friday, May 9, 2008

My first post

O.K. here goes my first post.
Monday night's free residencies in Los Angeles are getting impossible to choose between. So this Monday (May 5th) I chose the Le Switch residency at the Echo because I'm crazy for the new band Amnion and had to go see them for the fourth time. Aaron and Nikki and company had the place swooning by 9:15 in the evening with the great sound the Echo is capable of and a beautiful performance by all four band members. Frankel came on next with a nice set including some new material and selections from his excellent CD "Lullaby for the Passerby". Some solo, some with bandmates, he always delivers a solid performance. Knowing I had two more concert nights in a row I had to leave as Le Switch came on. Hope to see them later in the month.

Tuesday was the release day for the long awaited Everest album "Ghost Notes" and they played an in-store at Amoeba. These are some of the nicest guys I've met in the local music scene and once again they delivered a solid, strong set of beautiful songs. This was my sixth exposure to their live performance and I gotta say their professionalism and dedication are awe-inspiring. Speaking with Russell and Jason I understand they are feeling like they're riding a rocket with all that's happening so fast. They're on their way to Ireland to play in a castle with Neil Young but before that they're taping a "Conan O'Brien Show" for May 16th. You could just see the joy on their faces. They deserve it!

Wednesday was Vetiver and Kelley Stoltz at the Troubadour. So I walk up to the box office and Everest are ahead of me in line. They're everywhere! Also saw Michael Orendy of Frankel and Devendra Banhart in the crowd. Kelley Stoltz is an artist I have enjoyed since seeing him open for Irving a couple of years ago at the Echo. He sings fine folk-tinged rock with lots of interesting instrumentation augmented by a larger band than I've seen with him before. Vetiver took the stage after and Andy Cabic enchanted the crowd with his crooning vocals and finely constructed melodies. This was my first time seeing him and I was not disappointed. Also great was the audience of hippie-types prompting the band to comment how much better it was than playng to 10,000 flashing cell phones in your face as when they opened for Bright Eyes.

Tonight I'm off to Elbow at the Avalon. Judging by their new album, it should be great.