Saturday, March 27, 2010

What I'm Listening To March 19 - 25, 2010

1. Choir of Young Believers - This Is For The White In
Your Eyes
(Ghostly International)

2. Field Music - Field Music (Measure) (Memphis Industries)

3. Dustin O' Halloran - Piano Solos (Splinter Records)

4. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguar)

5. Dead Meadow - Feathers (Matador Records)

6. Pinback - This is a Pinback CD (Ace Fu Records)

7. The Week That Was - The Week That Was (Memphis Industries)

8. Rogue Wave - Permalight (Brush Fire Records)

9. The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly (Sub Pop)

10. Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Sub Pop)

I'm still obesssed with Choir of Young Believers and their CD. As the Field Music concert approached I got a hearty dose of (Measure) and picked up the Dustin O'Halloran CD of his beautiful indie/classical Piano Solos before going over to see him at Hollywood Forever. Pulled out Feathers by Dead Meadow to get in the mood. It worked, they're concert was incredible.

Also, the thought of the Pinback presents The Rob and Zach Show made me want to hear they're first album, from 1999. Even though I've only known about them for five years, it still brought up the most sublime nostalgic feeling.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Big Shows

I'm really excited about the three day run of shows that begins tonight, Thursday, March 25, 2010, with the Dead Meadow extravaganza at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. This free show popped on my radar late last week and I figured it was going to be impossible to get in. The only way to guarantee admittance was to pre-order their new CD/DVD set, Three Kings, to be put on THE LIST. Being the primitive that I am, I had never paypal-ed anything, but I went ahead and did it, so I believe I'm on the RSVP list to get in.

This show is a celebration of their new, live album with a concert performance and screening of the DVD. I look forward to a night of sludgy, droning psychedelia that I can only describe as Lugo-rock (Rock and Roll with a heavy dose of the lugubrious... like hearing music underwater).

I will be sorry to miss the Web In Front show at Echoplex and the Buzzbands event at Spaceland, but I just can't pass up Dead Meadow in the Cemetery.

Friday night, March 26, is another trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (no...I'm not about to take up permanent residence far as I know) to see Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka performing indie/classical piano music, both accompanied by Magik Magik String Quintet, for an evening of hypnotic reverie that I expect to be musically stunning and emotionally moving.

I had neglected to remember that Dustin O'Halloran was half of Devics along with Sara Lov, and I'm a big fan of both. Otherwise I would have gotten a ticket well before I did, but now I'm going, and the Masonic Lodge will be my home for the next two nights.

Then on Saturday, March 27 is the show I'm most looking forward to (save the best for last) with Field Music and Learning Music at Bootleg Theatre. I've been singing the praises of this English band for a few weeks now and finally I'll get to see them. I've been listening to their newest album Field Music (Measure) non-stop since it came out and also their earlier, Tones of Town, along with The Week That Was (David Brewis' solo project) and School of Language (Peter Brewis' solo project) to complete my education.

They'll be performing selection from all these albums and more in their first swing through Los Angeles in, probably, three years, and I don't intend to wait another three years to see them again. In fact, I'll be at Amoeba on Tuesday, March 30 for their free in-store.

I'll be posting reviews of these show at both Radio Free Silver Lake and/or here as well.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

What I'm Listening To March 12 - 18, 2010

Some great new CD's make the list this week as the month of March seems to be turning out to be some milestone in the annals of rock and roll history with the release of some amazing albums, one after the other. I continue my obsession with Field Music, but the Choir of Young Believers CD easily took the number one spot. The Besnard Lakes and Rogue Wave released albums of note.

Top Ten Albums - week of March 12 - 18, 2010

1. Choir of Young Believers - This Is For The White In Your Eyes (Ghostly International)

2. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguar)

3. The Week That Was - The Week That Was (Memphis Industries)

4. The Veils - Nux Vomica (Rough Trade)

5. Rogue Wave - Permalight (Brush Fire Records)

6. The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly (Sub Pop)

7. Field Music - Field Music (Measure) (Memphis Industries)

8. School of Language - Sea From Shore (Thrill Jockey Records)

9. Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Sub Pop)

10. The Happy Hollows - Spells (Autumn Tone)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fort King at Echo Curio

I enjoyed a terrific three night run of shows late last week which began on Thursday, March 11, 2010 with a trip over to Echo Curio and ended with my being blasted right off into outer space on Saturday and I'm still not feeling the effects of gravity yet. But let me focus on one.

Fort King was on the bill at Echo Curio and I was looking forward to a pleasant set of nice, lo-fi indie music. I've seen, heard and admired the song craft of Ryan Fuller in a few different incarnations, first getting to know his music with cello accompaniment, much like the arrangements on his album, Naked Shadows. That led me to compare the moody, ethereal sound of his music to some French film soundtracks of the '70's and '80's. His songs are tone poems with sharp, observant and sometimes caustic lyrics, containing occasional shocks. It reminds of the prose writing of Joyce Carol Oates.

It was when I saw him perform solo at The Parish Room at House of Blues last August, that I could tell the songs stand strongly on their own, retaining their dreamy/harsh duality with only a voice and a single guitar. I'm always impressed with his ability to find just the right vocal level in the mix, which is crucial to appreciating his art.

Imagine my surprise when I got to Echo Curio on Thursday to hear he would be accompanied by bass and additional guitars. Wondering if Fort King might lose the gently symphonic ambiance they achieve, my fears were allayed immediately by the accompaniment of Yvette Dudoit, whose bass drove the music into a new place, similar to the melancholy tone the cello brings, but sharper and less hazy. I liked the new direction very much and loved when she added the occasional vocal phrasing here and there. (She even took the photo above)

Her slide guitar work introduced a nice country flavor to a "Ricky's Lament", and when she and Ryan both played acoustic, they achieved a really magical chiming harmony. Quite an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Yvette even stepped forward at one point to sing a lovely French folk song, with back up guitar by Ryan.

Songs like "Osceola", the beautiful "To the Moon"and the moving "Black Palms" took on new complexions. I learn so much from the musicians I know, and watching Ryan perform in three different versions of Fort King has been so instructive in teaching me about delivery and song interpretation and the many small variations that can utterly change the nature of the piece. And yet the core integrity of the music never changes.


Monday, March 15, 2010

<<< Pinback Presents >>> The Rob and Zach Show

A few weeks ago I had a dream that, apparently, is going to come true. I dreamed I was allowed into the studio where Pinback create their music and I was privy to the creative process, watching and hearing how they construct the music I consider to be some of the most beautiful sounds planet Earth has ever heard.

Wow, I woke up to some incredible news this morning that is actually the fulfillment of that dream. An email announcement went out about a series of concerts to be held between July 1st and 11th this summer entitled <<< Pinback Presents >>> The Rob and Zach Show.

For the first time, Rob Crow and Zach Smith are going to perform without a back up band, with only their own instruments, computers and play back machines to recreate the intimate experience of a recording session. This will be major. I imagine they will end up sounding quite like they do on record and they promise to cover their entire career, including some new material that will be on their next album.

I am so psyched for this. Long ago, I came to understand and appreciate the differences between their raucous live sets and the sometimes sedate nature of their recorded work. Each was it's own animal and both are extraordinary, but this will be a chance to hear how the music comes together, to really study their compositional skills. Pinback as played in their studio while composing.

Zach stated in the release, "the idea is to present our music at times in a more broken down manner very similar sounding to how it might be for Rob and (me) when we're coming up with a song for the very first time." This concert will not only be a must-see event, but an honor and a privilege to attend. Can you understand why they are my very favorite band?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I'm Listening To

I've always regretted dropping the posts about my top ten albums of each week, and it is the question I get asked the most when I'm out at shows, "What are you listening to?". So I'm going to revive it with the dual purpose of letting people know why my taste is so peculiar, and getting something up on this site every week, at least. I promise to keep on doing it, until I don't do it anymore.

Plus...there is some incredible music out there!

I'll reiterate a fact I laid out when I did this before, and that is that I am an all album person. I listen to complete albums, beginning to end, every time I listen to anything. Listening to one song at a time by an atist is a fine format for radio and i-tunes, but I always felt is does a disservice to the artist for whom the album is a carefully thought out labor of love, with a beginning, middle and end. Anyway, that's what I do. I have a little portable CD player that goes everywhere with me, and I have my home stereo (I know... very '60's) and that's pretty much it. I have i-tunes at work and listen to my downloaded albums under headphones there, when the opportunity arises.

Top Ten Albums - week of March 5 - 11, 2010

1. The Week That Was - The Week That Was (Memphis Industries)

2. The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly (Sub Pop)

3. Field Music - Field Music (Measure) (Memphis Industries)

4. School of Language - Sea From Shore (Thrill Jockey Records)

5. Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Sub Pop)

6. his Orchestra - Field Guide to the Wilds (self release)

7. Tenlons Fort - Shelters (self release)

8. The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers (Sub Pop)

9. Eels - End Times (E Works Records/Vagrant Records)

10. Field Music - Tones of Town (Midheaven)

As is plain for anyone to see, I've gone ape-shit over Field Music, with 4 albums on the list if you include the solo projects of brothers Peter Brewis (The Week That Was) and David Brewis (School of Language). I can't wait to see them at Bootleg on March 27.

The Ruby Suns continue to expand and explode my notions of what is acceptable on musical terms, and I love them for it. The new Album, Fight Softly, is a dazzler.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

his Orchestra at Silver Lake Lounge

I knew that his Orchestra were scheduled to go on at midnight, so I prepared in advance. Stayed home the night before, got rest, came home from work, had dinner and relaxed until I hit the road at around 9:45 PM. They were on a bill with Red Tide and Superhumanoids, who checked out favorably when I listened to their selections on myspace, so I hoped to catch at least one of them.

Superhumanoids were on when I got to the Silver Lake Lounge around 10:30, I grabbed a place on the wall where one can sit and was seduced by their terrific indie pop that is both instantly likeable and different enough to perk up ones interest, and features some nice boy/girl harmonies. Red Tide play a kind of jazz influenced, angular indie rock that reminded me pleasantly of Minus the Bear with some strong and distinctive two part vocal harmonies.

At 12:30 his Orchestra took the stage and, although the crowd had thinned, they still perpetrated their mass hypnosis on everyone who stayed. This band just keeps getting better in my estimation. I have a feeling Field Guide To the Wilds is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what this band is capable of. The album has so many great songs on it that it plays like a greatest hits album from a band that has pruned away all the dross. So much so that the set contained many of my favorite songs of last year.

I asked Douglas Smith (photo at right by at the conclusion, if the songs I didn't recognize were new and he said, "...some of them". They sounded like their best material yet. In addition, they performed CD cuts like a wonderful live version of "Interesting End of the Day", recreated the ironic plunkity-plunk sound of the tragic "Hibernation" with it's nearly-whispered lyrics, and a rousing "Since I" which launches into one of the most infectious musical refrains I know of. Just try standing still.

It was a very impressive set, but best of all was the chance to catch up with his Orchestra and talk to a few of it's members. Douglas said they hadn't had been able to rehearse much, but it didn't show. How do they do it? I was especially glad to tell Paul Cartwright how amazing his violin playing is, and percussionist, Raviv Ullman introduced himself to me. Missed the chance to speak with Kestrin Pantera and rave about her cello or Whitney Martin whose keyboard work is one of the bands anchors, along with her vocals. Winthrop Ellsworth on bass, jumped off the stage once in a while to play on the floor with the audience and at times the whole stage was a writhing, teaming mass of people in motion. They just look like they're having a great time.

I floated out of the place around 1:15 in the morning feeling like it was 8PM. The set only confirmed to me that I chose the best album of last year correctly. Now they're off to SXSW where they have a few dates.

On a separate note: Cheers to The Henry Clay People and their signing with TBD Records, a new cross country tour, and an album in June. When Joey Siara told me a few months ago they were working with Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart, I was very excited by the prospect. Now we'll get to hear the fruit of that collaborative labor. Photo by Jeff Koga.

And if anyone wonders where I was last Sunday's a hint.
photo by sassyqarla