Thursday, October 28, 2010

Won't You Try... attend the first Radio Free Silver Lake residency at LaBrie's on Tuesday night, November 2.

It's going to be a blast. The Californian have put together a remarkable string of line ups for the month, beginning with a band everyone is glad have become a performing entity once more, Death To Anders. Rob Danson takes center stage, and Andrew Spitzer performs with the same passion and dedication he brings to his own band, Radars To the Sky, making a powerful contribution to this tight unit. They have been playing some amazing sets around town over the last few months and this should be another one.

Mezzanine Owls were a local favorite until about a year and a half ago when they went on hiatus. Now Pauline Mu and Jonathan Zeitlin have reemerged as a two-piece under the name, Alpine Decline, and they will grace the stage at LaBrie's as well. Joe Fielder interviewed them at RFSL.

What can I say about The Californian except they are absolutely one of my favorite finds of the year and, appropriately, they were introduced to me by Joe Fielder at the Lost Episode of "Let's Independent!" show last April at El Cid. Their special brand of surfy/creepy music is totally enchanting and the strong songwriting, astonishing playing and spectacular stage presence of the whole band is a sight to behold. Do you understand, I love this band! What I always say to people is about The Californian is, "just wait till you see them".


What I'm Listening To October 1 - 7, 2010

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

2. Birds and Batteries - Panorama (Velvet Blue Music)

3. Broken Bells - Broken Bells (Columbia Records)

4. Dead Meadow - Three Kings (Xemu Records)

5. Kelley Stoltz - To Dreamers (Sub Pop)

6. Pavement - Quarantine the Past (Matador Records)

7. Autolux - Transit Transit (TBD Records)

8. Radars To the Sky - Supra / Infra (self release)

9. Film School - Fission (Hi-Speed Soul)

10. Darker My Love - Alive As You Are (Dangerbird Records)

The week of the Arcade Fire shows at The Shrine put The Suburbs back at number one and made it difficult to find time to listen to anything else. But I did. The Dead Meadow show at Echoplex on October 3 put Three Kings back as I can never listen to that album just once, and Broken Bells played The Wiltern this week prompting a few spins of their wonderful album.

Birds and Batteries write songs with a lot of variety and their album continues to have a hold on me. I'm looking forward to their in-store at Origami Vinyl on November 26. All the other albums are ones I've seen performed live recently and that's one of the things I like best about the availability of shows in this city. And that's really a major difference between my relationship with rock and roll in the '60's and '70's and my relationship now. Then, I was lucky to hear one or two of my favorite albums live each year. Now it's rare not to hear every CD I love in person, and often many times. It's added a whole new dimension to my music appreciation.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Radio Free Silver Lake To Start Up Live Shows Again

I'm happy to announce that Radio Free Silver Lake is back in the Show Business again, and beginning in November, will be presenting a monthly residency every Tuesday at LaBrie's in Glendale (formerly: The Scene).

Joe Fielder is the mastermind behind this, and with the help of Kathryn Pinto and myself, we've managed, somehow, to get the ball rolling. One of our very favorite bands, The Californian, stepped in to be our first 'Band of the Month', and put together this first seductive schedule and sexy poster.

We feature three bands per night, so let's not hear any "Oh, it's so far to go and too late for me to be out on a school/work night" bitching. You could be home by 12:30AM. So let's all go out and support 'my favorite blog' on November 2nd to see The Californian, Death To Anders and Alpine Decline.

Subsequent weeks offer great support by George Glass, The Sweet Hurt, Le Switch and many more. We have a lot of great bands in the pipeline to be future hosts and hope we can make this into a permanent Los Angeles fixture. I'll be there every Tuesday in November, so drop by and say 'hello'.


Monday, October 25, 2010

What I'm Listening To September 24 - 30, 2010

1. Kelley Stoltz - To Dreamers (Sub Pop)

2. Birds And Batteries - Panorama (Velvet Blue Music)

3. Shadow Shadow Shade - Shadow Shadow Shade (Public Records)

4. Pavement - Quarantine the Past (Matador Records)

5. Autolux - Transit Transit ((TBD Records)

6. Menomena - Mines (Barsuk)

7. The Eels - Tomorrow Morning (E Works)

8. Radars To the Sky - Supra / Infra (self release)

9. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

10. Film School - Fission (Hi-Speed Soul)

I was pleased to get an advance copy of To Dreamers by Kelley Stoltz (which was released on October 12) and more pleased that it was such a solid record. I became a fan early on in my 'rebirth through music' phase of life, and saw him on my very first trip to The Echo in May, 2006, when he was promoting his just-released, Below the Branches, also on Sub Pop.

Birds and Batteries came to me through the mail from Velvet Blue Music and a very pleasant surprise it is. Reminding me a little of a Texas band I love, Telegraph Canyon, they cover similar territory of alt/country indie with a lot of chamber pop instrumentals creating a shimmering array of catchy tunes. I like this very much.

The grandly operatic and hard rocking album from Shadow Shadow Shade is superbly produced and shows off the wide variety of musicians involved. And the rest of the list is pretty similar to what I was playing the week before with a lot of Pavement added, on as this was the week of their Hollywood Bowl show. Also was priming myself for the upcoming Arcade Fire and Film School gigs coming the following weeks.


Pehrspace Blow Out On October 15, 2010

I just can't let this one go by unnoticed. I went out on Friday, 10/15/10, after a long week which included work and four shows in five days, in order to hang out with good friends and just enjoy some good times and good music. I got both in spades.

The opening band was The Shoenberg Knife Fight Ensemble, who in the interest of full disclosure, are actually friends of mine, so, note the prejudice. Steve Sigl, who has another band called The Happy Casualties, started this band up last year as a side project, but they write and perform with such skill they could easily jump to the front ranks of local bands. And after the wonderful set on this night I think they should play with Manhattan Murder Mystery again, and often.

Wonderfully energetic, a charismatic maniac as lead singer, and talented band members made for a rousing set that set the tone for the evening. Dance, jump, dance, jump. The audience ate it up.

Next came the new three-piece line up of Torches in Trees. I have to say, I was concerned what might happen to their sound after two members left and the skeletal remains of the band carried on. Put those fears to rest. They're still one of the hottest new bands in town and their set on this night sent chills up and down my spine. Still anchored by Azad Cheikosman's (somewhere in that blue photo) remarkable vocals and fuzzy, atmospheric guitar, Bridgette Moody's pounding bass and vocal harmonics, and the heart-stopping thunder of Eric Fabbro's drumming, these three produce an enormous sound with a palpable emotional pull. Mixing selections from their 2 EP's New Blood, New Sight and Carnivora, they even managed to throw in some new songs. Call me crazy, but they may sound even better in this configuration.

I was still conscious as Manhattan Murder Mystery took the stage after midnight and ravaged it. The place was packed, most of the room was slam dancing in slow motion, so that it more resembled waves in the ocean as opposed to a street riot. I climbed on a chair at the back so I could look out over the throbbing mass and see the band as they tried to stay upright, while the audience kept encroaching on the stage space.

Matthew Teardrop managed to get some floor time, flat on his back, as the crowd parted like Moses and that Red Sea routine. Amazingly the music survived and no matter how rough around the edges, the songs sounded solid and the new ones are stand outs. There were footprints on the ceiling by the time the crowd dispersed. Seeing Manhattan Murder Mystery again two days later at Silver Lake Lounge under wildly different circumstances (they went on at 9PM, sober, and still transfixed the audience; had to use a shot from this set) I am convinced their enormous talent can survive any storm.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I Listened To September 17 - 23, 2010

1. Autolux - Transit Transit (TBD Records)

2. Menomena - Mines (Barsuk)

3. Kelley Stoltz - To Dreamers (Sub Pop)

4. The Eels - Tomorrow Morning (E Works)

5. Jorma Kaukonen - Quah (Grunt Records/RCA)

6. Shadow Shadow Shade - Shadow Shadow Shade (Public Records)

7. Radars To the Sky - Supra / Infra (self release)

8. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

9. Eastern Conference Champions - Santa Fe (self release)

10. Family of the Year - Songbook (Washashore Records)

This was the week of the Menomena and Autolux shows at El Rey, so I feasted on Mines and Transit Transit in anticipation of both concerts and I'm glad I did, for it so enhanced the shows for me.

I love the new Kelley Stoltz album, To Dreamers, which is a delightful pop album filled with hummable, danceable tunes, and enough hooks to keep me coming back for more. I was surprised how much I like it.

Shadow Shadow Shade are releasing their first full length CD and the advance copy I have is a wonderful recorded representation of their bombastic, operatic rock. Beautifully done.

The Eels new CD, Tomorrow Morning, requires repeated listenings and a bit of concentration, but once it gets to you, you're hooked. Everything else, you know, except the Family of the Year CD I picked up at their show. Nice alt/country rock.


Monday, October 11, 2010

A Love Letter To Arcade Fire

It's always something close to a religious experience for me to go to see Arcade Fire. At least, as close to a religious experience as someone who is religion-free can get. I feel transported, recharged, inspired, over-awed and re calibrated all over again. Photo by Timothy Norris of LA Weekly.

It's more than a band and they're not just musicians. It's performance art. The celebratory exuberance of the band is impossible to resist and, in spite of some failing equipment, they pulled off what felt to me like a perfect set when I saw them at The Shrine on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

Playing songs from all three full length albums it was so intoxicating that I think I suspended breathing for an hour and a half. And Win Butler hardly needed to exhort the crowd to stand, because the whole audience jumped to it's feet the moment they strode across the stage and couldn't sit down even if they had wanted to.

Because this was the band that returned me to rock and roll after a 20 year drought, and it was the song "Rebellion" that did it, my relationship with Arcade Fire is unlike any other. In 2005, I thought I was at a point in my life where things were supposed to begin to slow down. I had a job I loved, I had achieved a lot of my dreams, yet life had become complaisant. I felt somewhat disconnected from the real world.

It's August 1. 2005, and I'm busy being a potato on my couch, channel flipping on my TV, just after 11 PM, when I go by a public access station show called Refused TV, that showed videos no one else would, playing a music video by a rock and roll band. Now, remember I was not at all into rock and I paid little attention, but the song was "Rebellion" by Arcade Fire and I saw images of interesting looking people running down a street and playing various and assorted instruments and the song grabbed a hold of me. It reminded me of the songs of my youth, from the sixties, with it's free style and creative originality. By the time the song ended, though I didn't realize it at the time, my life was set off in a whole new direction that I could never have guessed even possible.

Talk about the transformative power of music. I am a living, breathing example of just that. I bought Funeral the next day and played it over and over and over. Within a week I was listening to ten bands, and within a month, a hundred. In November that year I went out to my first concert in 25 years (Super Furry Animals at The Avalon, 11/29/05) and it was so incredible that I started seeing as many shows as I could. I made a list of bands I got to hear and tried to see as many of them as I could when they came through town. My CD collection exploded and I rediscovered the passion for music that I'd had as a child, almost like awakening from a deep sleep.

At first I tried not to listen to anyone's advice and just let one band lead me to the next. I felt like I was canoeing up a river with multiple tributaries worth exploring. This trail I was following eventually led me to the local music scene. I started attending the clubs, meeting the bands, reading music blogs and happened upon this new life I'm leading. And this is all because of Arcade Fire.

It was two years before I got to see them, in May 2007, after the release of Neon Bible, when they came to The Greek Theatre for two nights. I went both nights because I intend to see them every single chance I get. Those shows confirmed for me that they are indeed every bit as great as their reputation. Maybe even better. And the Hollywood Bowl show later that year, in September, was even better.

Now, three years later, they came back, for two nights at The Shrine, touring on a new album, The Suburbs, that is just as good as their other two. Securing tickets for both nights, I took the Metro for the Thursday show and the sense of excitement in the air was palpable as soon as the bus became embroiled in the massive Arcade Fire traffic jam.

I had a superb seat in row 32 for that first night, which are the first raised seats near the back, affording me a completely unobstructed view of the band and the whole stage set up for the entire evening. This proved hugely advantageous as the visual presentation is no less riveting that the music itself.

From what I've read, that performance was fraught with technical difficulties, which I have to admit, I barely noticed. Win broke all his guitars within the first four songs or so, but he just resorted to the piano. No problem. They had to rearrange the set list, but they did so without a hitch. Performing songs from all three albums they naturally highlighted The Suburbs, and those songs were some of the powerful highlights, like "Ready To Start", "Rococo" and "The Suburbs". Watching the various band members trade places and instruments, each performing their own special show for the audience, makes the whole experience kaleidoscopic.

I especially love when Regine sang the brilliant "Haiti" from Funeral and then segued into "Sprawl II" distinguishing each with her astonishing interpretive dance moves. The whole thing was a blur of inspiration, excitement and ecstacy. It left me in a state of hightened excitement the whole next day as I anticipated the Friday show.

I went with friends the next night and we had to park blocks away, but I was sailing twelve feet off the ground anyway so I didn't notice the walk. I had a ticket in row 20 for this show so i was kind of buried in the audience. I couldn't see the whole stage like the night before, but I was closer so I could focus on individual performers.

A similar set list, in a different order, was the program for Friday, though Regine added "The Backseat" to add a touch of heartbreak to the set. Both nights the audience became a screaming, frenzied mass of group love, the likes of which I have rarely seen. My own thoughts on the two nights are a jumbled flurry of impressions and emotions, all of which I will never forget. Thank you Arcade Fire for all the inspiration and for the gift of a refocused existence.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I Listened To September 10- 16, 2010

1. Film School - Fission (Hi-Speed Soul)

2. Autolux - Transit Transit (TBD Records)

3. Eels - Tomorrow Morning (E Works)

4. Menomena - Mines (Barsuk)

5. Radars To the Sky - Supra / Infra (self release)

6. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

7. Pavement - Quarantine the Past (Matador Records)

8. Eastern Conference Champions - Santa Fe EP (self release)

9. Jorma Kaukonen - Quah (Grunt Records/RCA)

10. The Californian - Sea of Love EP (self release)

Not a lot of difference with the week before, just some rearrangements. Film School still number one and upcoming shows by Autolux, Menomena, The Eels, Arcade Fire, Pavement and Radars To the Sky continue to fuel the rest of the list.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Dead Meadow at Echoplex - October 3, 2010

I just got back from the Dead Meadow show at Echoplex on Sunday night, and I have to say it was as incredible a rock show as I've seen all week, and that includes the Pavement/Sonic Youth show and the Eagle Rock Music Festival. I mean, this band is incredible, and there were only about seventy five people in the whole place.

I'm not complaining because it made the whole experience inceredibly relaxed, with everybody grooving in their own personal space. The entrancing hypnosis of the music itself was complimented by the trippy animated light show behind them. They played material from their entire catalog and their perfect acid rock is so evocative it actually recreates the feeling of a sixties acid test.

Reunited with their original drummer, Stephen McCarty, for the first time in years brought out the songbook catalog of their early recordings, and even though I'm not familiar with that material it was a total pleasure to hear it.

I was determined that I was going to meet at least one of the band members tonight, after seeing them so many times, and sure enough I ran right into lead singer/guitarist, Jason Simon, in the corridor on my way out. Greeting him, I told him what an unabashed fan I am and how much I enjoyed their set and it that it meant a lot to meet him. He was gracious and kind and put up with a blithering fan.