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.


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