I got to know so many bands during 2008 but three really stand out as having helped pull me into this incredible music world. Their remarkable, unyeilding support of all things music in Los Angeles makes them stand out as citizens of the new music culture.
The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra
I've had the chance to watch them change and grow and develop as live performers throughout the year. I've also been able to maintain close contact with most of them and watch their progress first hand. Last January 12, at the Alterknit Lounge, I saw them for only the second time, yet Hunter took the time to remember me and chat a while. They were in the process of rotating female lead singers and Kelli Anne Noftle was the one that stayed. The band had found a solid center with Hunter and Kelli's dueling vocals and moved forward.
They played a really terrific set at the Eagle Rock Bowling and Drinking Club on March 30 on a bill with Amnion, and a couple of dates in April that I caught at Spaceland and The Echo, but I was really noticing how often I was running into them at other shows. Like sometimes more than once a week.
Gradually I came to know Ethan, Adam, and Daniel. Saw them again at the Silverlake Lounge on May 27 and then on July 3rd they released their terrific EP entitled Escapements which showed them off in a highly polished production that sounded like a million bucks. It also features their solid repertory of pop hits and one of my favorite songs of the year, "Audry". That night they hosted a great concert that included superb sets by Fol Chen and The Stevenson Ranch Davidians.
Their July 31st show at The Scene introduced me to Gangi, who became another favorite. The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra have introduced me to so many bands I wouldn't have otherwise known that I'll always be indebted to them. Had fun hanging with Hunter and Ethan all during the Sunset Junction festivities and then sat with Aaron and Megan until 2 in the morning in the balcony of the El Cid.
Their September 11 show at The Unknown Theatre featured a set by Avi Buffalo who amazed me with his extraordinary talent as a guitarist and singer and on November 26th, Thanksgiving eve, dressed as pilgrims and native Americans, they played their last set of the year to a thunderous response from fans and friends at The Echo.
I watched as they grew more self assured as entertainers and more confident in their playing and singing over the course of 2008. Their enthusiasm and high spirits at all their shows rewards their audience with an abundance of good music and good cheer and I look forward to their next move.
Death To Anders
I first met Rob Danson in 2007 at a few shows late in that year. He was one of the first people to come over to talk to me and we found ourselves at a lot of the same shows. I really enjoyed hearing his perspective on the bands I was seeing and I didn't even know he was in a band at that point.
I finally caught up with Death To Anders at Joe Fielder's "Let's Independent!" on January 15th. It was their CD release party for Fictitious Business and I was intrigued by what I heard that night. I have to admit, Rob's gawky/awkward stage manner took some getting used to, but hearing the way he chewed his words, and listening to what he was saying only made me want to hear more. His skewed, sarcastic take on life was music to my ears.
I didn't see them again until July at Spaceland, when they opened for the circus called Mae Shi, but it was the next show at Boardner's in August that really did it for me. They played an acoustic set for the "Let's Independent!" show and they blew my mind with the careful, precise, beautiful playing I heard that night. And the singing was unlike I'd heard from them before. I made a point to meet Nick Ceglio that night to tell him how impressed I was with his songs.
A few shows later and they're at Spaceland opening for O'Death and they played a full band set that didn't sound like anything I'd heard from them before. It was a perfect set where every element came together for the band and it was a star-making turn as far as I was concerned. In fact that whole concert was electrifying.
I've seen them play nine times so far, and gotten to know Pete Dibiasio and John Broeckel as well. It's through Rob that I've met so many others, and, coincidentally, it was Rob I asked if he knew who this "Mouse" was who wrote Classical Geek Theatre, of which I'd become a avid reader. He said, "Actually, he's my room mate".
This band is headed for bigger things, and I saw so much growth in them this year that I can't wait to see how 2009 shapes up for them.
The Parson Red Heads
I spent a couple of years running into this band inadvertently as they opened for other acts I had come out to see. First at The Echo, December 4, 2006, when they opened for Black Pine. I remember liking what I heard and picking up their EP Field Mouse Carnival which was enjoyable. On April 14, 2007 they played with the now amazing sounding bill of The Deadly Syndrome, The Happy Hollows and Tandemoro. Again I liked them.
They played the Echoplex launch event on April 26, 07 with the likes of Earlimart, Sea Wolf and The Watson Twins and at the Sunset Junction festival that summer, I got up the nerve to introduce myself to Erin Way and Evan Way.
I really found myself attracted to their music style and their apparent commitment to the lifestyle, and this year I really got to know them well and find out just what genuine human beings they all are. So here's to Evan, Brett, Sam, Erin, David, Raymond, Jason, Aaron and Charlie. You're the greatest.
This year I've seen no improvement in this band. That's because there is nowhere I can see room for improvement. They are the real deal with all the pieces in their place. I've watched them win over crowd after crowd this year at The Knitting Factory, coinciding with the release of their delightful Owl and Timber EP, at Boardner's, The Echo, Amoeba and Spaceland. Evan Way even performed solo as an opener for Fleet Foxes at Spaceland last summer.
I want this band to get the recognition they deserve and I'll be out there championing them all year long. What I'd love is a CD that captures their live sound and their spirit more accurately.