Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here We Go Again

Time for the next installment of Feed Your Head Presents at Lot 1 and I'm super excited to be presenting Seasons in maybe their last show of the year (or not. Actually they're on the Manhattan Murder Mystery residency showcase at The Satellite on Dec 12) before they premiere their new EP, Fall, in January. They've been good friends to me for a long time now, so let's come out and show them a good time. Azalia Snail intrigued me when I saw her perform at a party a few years ago and her unique and hypnotic style will amaze you. She's performing with Dan West. The Happy Casualties are another band I've been close to for a while and their ramshackle rock and roll is always a welcome addition to a night of partying. The band N O W are a recommendation of Azalia's, so I trust her judgement and look forward to hearing what they're about.

Thanks to Eileen Leslie and the whole Lot 1 team for making my dream of sponsoring shows a reality. Let's celebrate Christmas early!!!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Show

Rebecca Balin's group "My Friends Are Great" is presenting a show at The Satellite featuring Walking Sleep, Shirley Rolls and A Surprise Special Guest Tonight, November 25. Included are games and activities insuring this will be a great time, followed by a dance party to take you into Saturday. I know it's a tough night for competing shows, so maybe this is a night for club-hopping.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Third Feed Your Head Night

I'm back with another edition of my monthly showcase at Lot 1 this coming Saturday, November 5.

I'm so happy to be able to present the Record Release Party for Deal Gone Wrong by Downtown/Union this Saturday night. Bo Bory is another one of those local musicians I first got to know just as another member of the audience at lots and lots of shows I went to back when I first started attending local clubs. Like Rob Danson and Matthew Teardrop, I didn't even know they had bands when we first struck up a friendship, listening to our favorite local bands at places like The Echo or Spaceland or Boardner's, we got to know each other just by going to a lot of shows.

It's a very different experience to get to know a band even before you know they're a band. Los Angeles is probably one of the few places that can happen, at least on this scale, and I see it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Now, a few short years later, I'm hosting shows for these bands and that feels great! Bo is really excited about this album, so come on out and listen to their new songs with me.

Torches (formerly: Torches In Trees) are one of my very favorite local bands and everyone who sees them walks away agreeing. They played at my Third Anniversary show last May at Lot 1, and I remember how many new fans they won over that night. Jump on the bandwagon now because this band has real potential to explode.

Ever since Aaron Kyle disbanded Le Switch, I've been trying to see his new venture, Geronimo Getty, but keep missing his shows. So I figured I'd fix that by booking him for this night.

Steve Sigl is another musician I met long before I ever heard his band, The Happy Casualties, so when he formed this offshoot group, Schoenberg Knife Fight Ensemble, I was intrigued and impressed by how different they are. On Saturday we'll get the dramatic and intense performance from lead singer, John Rickel, which will provide a powerful conclusion to the evenings festivities. This should be fun!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

DeVotchKa at Bootleg Bar - October 5, 2011

Wow, they did it again. DeVotchka completely mesmerized for the entire length of their set last night, Wednesday, October 5 at Bootleg Bar. It was a more fleshed out version of their great performance last weekend at The Greek (opening for Elbow) that ran over an hour. Fans lucky enough to have scored tickets for the show packed the club and the wide range of the band's appeal was apparent from the variety of manners on display. Some decided to push their way through the crowd to plant themselves right in front of you when the band began, while others immediately pulled out their cell phones and opened them up in your face.

Once the music got going, none of that mattered, as the high spirits and enthusiasm are totally infectious and their musical talents are overwhelming. Beginning with Nick Urata's voice, which is an instrument of such extraordinary grace and power. His control is awesome. It's so great to be up front and watch the way he carefully enunciates each word, making every lyric understandable. Tom Hagerman is an absolute demon on the violin which he plays hard and furiously while never hitting a wrong note. Shawn King is a wizard of the drums which he can play in so many styles, he's a perfect fit for the multi-faceted compositions they write. Jeanie Schroder, who hugs her double bass, dances with her sousaphone, and plays flute is another charismatic performer in a band of charismatic musicians. The look of unabashed pleasure on her face makes you believe she's having the time of her life.

They played much from 100 Lovers, but also included songs from their past, including some I didn't know, all of which were poured into a program of such variety and passionate playing, the whole crowd was affected. There aren't many bands that can inspire such devotion from their fans, but DeVotchka deserve it. I'm proud to have seen them five times so far.

Those rowdy ruffians, The Parson Red Heads, pushed Viva Voce off the bill this Friday, October 7 at The Satellite in order to headline. (Actually Viva Voce had to cancel and I'm making this up.) Back in town for another show, The Parson Red Heads have made good on their promise to come back and play here as often as possible, so it's less heartbreaking that they don't live here anymore. Usually joined by assorted former members who still live here, their shows always have a nice 'reunion' feel, and on this date they're joined by Last American Buffalo and Death To Anders, who only jumped on the bill a few days ago. This is a good bet for a pleasurable Friday night.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feed Your Head Night at Lot 1

I'm very pleased to have George Glass as headliners at my second Lot 1 show this Saturday, October 8. Ever since I saw Nick Ceglio performing with Death To Anders a few years ago at one of the RFSL "Let's Independent!" nights at Boardner's where he got to play some of his own compositions (one where he was noodling around on the floor playing with knobs, buttons and pedals), I have noticed how good his musical instincts and songwriting abilities are.

Still as much as I enjoy Death To Anders and Nick's contribution to their 2008 sound, I was not prepared for how good George Glass was right from the start. Now, a couple of years later, they've taken off on their own, releasing a wonderful CD and delivering some of the best local sets, repeatedly. Looking forward to hearing anything new they may have up their collective sleeves.

What else can I say about Radars To The Sky except that Andrew and Kate and the rest of the band have become good friends to me and the way the band keeps expanding and contracting, and meeting each challenge creatively, puts me in awe of their adaptability. Radars have become a new animal over the last couple of months and I can't wait to see what shape they have assumed.

Andrew Spitzer is a lawyer in his 'real' life and now that I just got off jury duty, I can see how he might operate in a courtroom. Much like his stage persona, he probably lulls a courtroom/audience into a complaisant comfort and then zings them with a power and passion that he keeps hidden until just the right moment. Good courtroom technique, good rock star technique. Who'd have thought...

Nick brought Doña Nicha onto the bill and listening to some of their song selections, I an very impressed. They play a dreamy, hypnotic lo-fi trance rock that actually cuts loose occasionally to create a kind of ebb and flow that is alternately beautiful and jolting.

I've known Sarah Clothier for a while now but never had the opportunity to hear her band The pickUp Sticks until she expressed interest to me about playing one more show before she has her baby in November. After hearing the garage/punk indie rock band she plays in, I realized they would be a perfect fit to open the night. It will be a treat to hear their music live.

So come out, if you're not colliding with culture on this Saturday, and join me for some fun at Lot 1.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Elbow and DeVotchKa at The Greek - October 1, 2011

I've always had amazing luck every time I see Elbow in that, I always manage to be right down front, and Guy Garvey, as one of the most giving and friendly performers around, leaning out over the crowd, seems to be striving to connect with each audience member. This was just how it was on April 8, 2006, when I saw them at Avalon, for the first time, and that was how it was again last night, Saturday, October 1, 2011. at The Greek. I felt so lucky to be in the pit to really get to enjoy that unique audience connection this band always achieves.

The evening began with me taking my seat in the Terrace (before getting into the pit) where I was able to enjoy the riviting performance by DeVotchKa, who wowed the crowd with their free-wheeling gypsy/punk take on Eastern European music. Gloriously sung by Nick Urata, whose voice is one of the wonders of the world to me, his recordings only capture a part of his full, gigantic voice. The rest of he band is so talented, from the astonishing violin virtuoso, Tom Hagerman, and Jeanie Schroder, whether on her xmas light-festooned sousaphone or the flute, to Shawn King on percussion and trumpet. They were augmented with an additional trumpet as well, enlarging their sound. They could have gone on much longer, but made way for the headliners.

Elbow took off right out of the gate with "The Birds", the opening track from their new album which sets the bar so high that the rest of the album has trouble competing, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I haven't been overly impressed with their latest album, Build a Rocket Boys, but this song is one of their best ever and to hear the rest of it live made all the difference. And this song does seem like the epitome of the perfect Elbow song, with it relentless driving beat, and highly orchestrated industrial strength sound overlayed by the smooth and effortless vocals of Guy Garvey.

It was a set list distinguished with unusual choices, like the quiet, lyrical numbers "Great Expectations" "Weather To Fly" and "Puncture Repair". And the way the set was interspersed with liberal doses of material from Leaders Of The Free World and especially The Seldom Seen Kid made the whole show a series of high points. The power of "Starlings", where the whole band mans blaring trumpets, while lights blasted the stage. Great care is always taken with their visual presentation as well. "The Bones of You"was beautifully done, and the haunting, hypnotic "Mirrorball" still weaves it's spell with the lighting effects that make you feel like you're standing in the center of a rotating globe. Guy carefully instructed the crowd on their part in "Grounds For Divorce" before launching into the song proper, but his attention to detail resulted in a highly spirited rendition of the song including a very willing audience, which had him beaming as he pounded away on the two drums provided him for this number.

"Lippy Kids" is a song that begins with a far off whistle that's overtaken by a lurching beat so that Guy can prompt the audience to wave their arms back and forth in time to the beat as he reaches out like he wants to touch each person that's in front of him. He does that at every concert. Talk about a fully engaged performer.

The rest of the band left the stage for the unbelievably moving "Puncture Repair" leaving only Craig Potter on piano followed immediately by "The River" from the new album for a pair of stunning duets between piano and Guy Garvey's passionate vocals. I was moved to tears.

The night ended with a three song encore capped by an electrifying version of "Station Approach" followed by the anthemic "One Day Like This" which sends the audience out on a high the likes of which I've only seen a few times. The art of the strong, charismatic lead singer is alive and well represented by these two bands. As well as these two singers have been recorded, they only hint at the immeasurable range and power of their live sound. This was a evening for the annals of history.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Here We Go Again

Feed Your Head's second monthly show at Lot 1 is coming on Saturday, October 8 at 8PM (music starts at 9):


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Incredible Weekend Of Music

I may have missed the FYF FEST, but I had a weekend festival of my own at the Lot 1 on Saturday night and at Bootleg Bar on Sunday. I was hoping for the best on Saturday as I inaugurated the first Saturday of the monthly series of shows I hope to present at Lot 1 from now on, and into the future. I was flying by the seat of my pants, but as soon as Omar Velasco began his set, I relaxed and saw this was off to a good start. When I first heard Omar at Judson McKinney's residency at The Central back on August 2nd, I was instantly a fan, and I remember running up to him afterward and blathering some compliments at him and practically begging him to come play my first show.

Omar Velasco is one of the most remarkable talents that nobody knows about yet, so it is always going to be a source of pride to me that he led off with the first set on the first night of my Feed Your Head nights at Lot 1. It was a perfect start to a really swell night of music that pulled in a respectable crowd, in spite of the competition, so I was pleased. Those who were lucky enough to get there early were as impressed as I have been by Omar Velasco, who has one of the best voices around, with striking vocal control, that is matched by his varied and accomplished songwriting skills. When you hear his EP, See Lion Run, you will be equally impressed with how he has filled out his sound for the recording, adding layers of feeling and mood through orchestration.

There was a bit of a break as we resolved sound issues for Dirt Bird, but once they got underway, Lot 1 was gently lifted off-earth for a trip around the universe, bouyed by the ethereal and dreamlike vocals of Claire Mckeown and Athena LeGrand, aided by their harmonium, keyboard and drum. I had been longing to hear this band ever since Claire sent me their EP, Summer Night Hours, which I reviewed at Radio Free Silver Lake, but I don't think I was adequately prepared for the group hypnosis they perpetrated on the audience.

From the moment they began, a hush fell over the room, punctuated only by the vigorous applause each song received. Ordinarily each voice is individually miked, but our spare set up on Saturday required Claire and Athena to share a mike, but I think it worked out beautifully as their distance from the mike created an almost church-like echo quality that suited the songs well. Perfect for what they aptly self-describe as "sacred music for secular people", they manage to be creatively bold and daring while keeping the audience soothed and comfortable. These ladies are after my heart. I'm especially glad that Dirt Bird is set for a show at Hotel Cafe tonight (to make up for the cancelled Sunset Junction/Hotel Cafe sponsored show). I'll be at the front on the line.

Death To Anders was the headliner for the show and Rob Danson (Zoe-Ruth Erwin's photo at right) took the opportunity to play a lot of new music, which is incredibly good (the four-track sampler I got from him is proof of that). He'd promised a laid back, slightly restrained set to match the rest of the program, but what we got was a powerfully good performance, full of the throbbing intensity and dense storytelling we've come to expect from him. His song "Odessa" is a real winner.

Judson McKinney rounded out the evening with another perfect sounding set, after a week which has included three or four other shows around town for them. And their hard work is paying off with an ever-growing base of fans and and a performance style that is simultaneously relaxed and beautifully structured. Sheridan Riley's drumming displayed her usual polish (and this after playing with Avi Buffalo at FYF earlier in the day), John Seasons provides thundering bass support and the duets between Judson and Mary and her violin were as stunning as ever. All in all, the wide variety and quality of the musical acts made the evening a complete success for me.

The following night was the Torches video release party at Bootleg Bar presented by Radio Free Silver Lake and with another fabulous line up of bands. Summer Twins began with a strong set of indie alt/country which was tightly played and sung with passion and energy. A rousing good opening. Seasons are trying to lay low for a little while, but no one will let them. They showed up to support their good friends in Torches and went the extra distance by introducing a few new songs. All of them good.

On the back patio to chat with friends, the party took off to a point where, I'm embarrassed to admit, when I returned to the Bar, the video was already over. Torches played one of the loudest and most emphatic sets I've ever seen from them and it was like watching a band get bigger right before your eyes. I've since seen the video and it is a wonderfully imaginative take on dental hygiene and bondage...I think. (Note the Volkswagon in the photo at right, which plays a supporting role in the video)

Usually the last band plays to a dwindling audience as people wander toward the exits. Not so with Naive Thieves. Once they began, there was no way to tear yourself away. They are so good and play such catchy and intelligent rock that the whole crowd was transported. I seemed to be one of the few people there who had seen them before, so it was fun to see everyone flabbergasted by this group. With a twangy/surfy '60s sound they twist the audience around their finger making us willing to follow them anywhere.

When I saw them back at the beginning of August at Lot 1, I was equally impressed and chatted with them, getting their EP, Le Sheik Rhat, and hoping to see them again. Since listening to the album and becoming familiar with the songs, it only increased my appreciation for what their doing. Naive Thieves is a band with a future, make no mistake. I think I experienced acute musical perfection this weekend.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Re-Reminder: Torches Have A Show Sunday

O.K., So I read Jed's terrific interview with Torches (In Trees) over at Radio Free Silver Lake, and I realized I had been resisting the notion that they would change their name from Torches In Trees to, simply, Torches, but I can see the logic in it now. Not only is it streamlined, but it's also a reflection of their history.

If I'm not mistaken, there were five band members the first couple of times I saw Torches In Trees, back in Dec. of '08 at Mr. T's Bowl and January of '09 at the old Hollywood Knitting Factory, and I loved them then. The CD I got at the time lists five musicians. By the end of 2009, I think they were down to four, and now there are three. Ordinarily, the addition and subtraction of band members can have a profound negative or positive effect. And I've seen both.

With Torches, it has had a solidifying effect. Their music has become more focused while maintaining that psychedelic edge that I fell in love with at the beginning. I was totally impressed with their earlier performances, but now I find them life-affirming and moving. The music is that beautiful. Individually and collectively, Azad, Eric and Bridgette mean a lot to me.

That is why I'm so happy that Radio Free Silver Lake is hosting the video release party for their first video at Bootleg Bar on Sunday. And there's no work the next day because of Labor Day, so no excuses.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Feed Your Head Begins Monthly Shows

I wanted to wait to write this column until the flyer was done. Taking a bunch of disparate elements and collaging them into a psychedelic poster was more time consuming than I anticipated but here it is:

I jumped at the chance to begin presenting my own shows when Eileen at Lot 1 asked if I wanted to. Having enjoyed doing the weekly Free Tuesdays at LaBrie's for six months with Radio Free Silver Lake, I was glad to have the chance to learn how to do it from the ground up.

First up is Death To Anders as headliners, which is entirely appropriate as Rob Danson was one of the first musicians I got to know, back at Boardner's, which he sang a song about the other day...I think. Together with Dirt Bird, who's pedigree goes back through other vocally powerful bands, Shadow Shadow Shade, back through Irving, who I also saw over and over, these two bands represent my early years in the music scene, say 2007, 2008.

Judson McKinney has been such a strong addition to L.A.'s music, that he and Mary and his band are one of the greatest finds of the past year. And he always surrounds himself with a lot of my favorite musicians. Omar Velasco was introduced to me through Judson at his residency at The Central in August and I was immediately struck by the quality of the songwriting and his strong and disciplined voice. I asked him a day later to be a part of this show. They represent how vibrant the music scene still is and point the way to the future.

Come on out to Lot 1 on Saturday night, September 3, and enjoy some of the finest this town has to offer.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sunset Junction...It's a Wrap

Being a late-comer to the local rock and roll scene (After six years, maybe I have to stop calling myself that), I only attended my first Sunset Junction in 2006. It was already a paying event, so I wasn't even aware it had ever been free. I didn't know it's history, nor had I ever been much of a participant in community affairs for a couple of decades.

For the first year of my music journey, I really wandered alone around the fringes, allowing one band to lead me to another and one show to open up the door to more shows. Until the Sunset Junction of August 2006 I was going to between 4 to 7 shows each month, but this was the first festival I had gone to since Woodstock, and at that point I was desperate to hear as many new local bands as I could find. I was following Earlimart, Irving and Great Northern around at that time (in fact, the three bands were on the same bill at El Cid on May 20, 2006, a fantastic show) and they were the first local bands I became obsessed with. I had worked up the courage to go up to them after their sets and say 'hello, I like your music', but I was too intimidated by their talent to allow the conversation to go much further.

So, I went to the 2006 Sunset Junction on Saturday, Aug. 26 to see Great Northern. The weather was perfect, the crowd was sparse and friendly during the day, spray tents were set up to combat the relentless sun, the beer was refreshing and the music was sublime. I'd also quit cigarettes a couple of weeks before, and I was really starting to notice the positive health effects. Everything conspired to make a perfect day. One after another band took the Bates Stage and each one impressed me. The Minor Canon, The Little Ones, Monsters Are Waiting and Lavender Diamond all won me over and I was ecstatic. Becky Stark made me feel like I'd fallen down the rabbit hole and awakened in a Disney-inspired, fevered acid dream. I took a break, ate some food and watched The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (who didn't do much for me) and then Eels, who completely blew me away.

After that experience my concert-going shot up to nearly a dozen a month, and continued to escalate to my normal 3-5 shows a week over the next year. And I (almost) never missed another Sunset Junction...until this year. By 2007, I was starting to meet musicians so some of the bands had members I'd met and was beginning to know, so I was glad to see Division Day, The Pity Party, The Parson Red Heads, The Broken West and Sea Wolf.

Things started to really escalate once I began this blog in May, 2008, after realizing my passions were shifting and my future belonged to the music world. I wanted to be able to participate and give something back, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. By the time of the 2008 Festival it became, basically, just hanging around with friends, and the bands were Bodies of Water, Castledoor, The Happy Hollows, Radars To the Sky and one of the headliners, Menomena. Another great time that ended up going late into the night as I sat in the balcony at El Cid with members of Walking Sleep (at the time called The Flying Tourbillion Orchestra) watching Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros at one in the morning. Unforgettable.

In 2009, I skipped Sunset Junction because I was presenting my first FEED YOUR HEAD show for the EP release of Summer by Seasons at Pehrspace on Saturday August 22, 2009, so I had to miss the Festival. By the time I went back to it last year, things had changed. It was getting bigger and more crowded and frankly, too spread out. I ran between the two stages at the far ends and managed to see Moses Campbell, Pollyn, Andy Clockwise, Eastern Conference Champions and Everest. All bands killed it and it was a lot of fun, I even managed to go back on Sunday and see Leslie Stevens and the Badgers and Red Cortez, but something had changed.

But for it to go down this way was disappointing. Whatever the quibbles and complaints of residents, the apparent mismanagement at the top of the organization and the city's thinly veiled contempt for the event itself, all combined to bring the end of an era. I'd be surprised to see it ever rise again, and at least we have many alternative and interesting attractions that involve street fairs and music. I'm still sorry to see it ended. It was, especially in those first years I went, a rare and gratifying opportunity to rub shoulders with many of the different communities that make up this fabulous city of ours. The chance to just relax in the sunshine and be overwhelmed by wonderful bands.

People are scrambling all around to try to find venues and theatres for the stranded bands to play in, and I applaud their efforts. I only hope the musicians are the last ones to suffer any hardship because of this. Anyway let's look forward and I'll see you at The Eagle Rock Music Festival and Street Fair.

Late Update: There is a mad scramble to play weekend shows all over town, particularly on the east side. Kevin Bronson is doing a fantastic job of getting the information out there. Keep checking Buzzbands for the latest news.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Torches Video Release Party

Here's the flyer for what promises to be a very special night:

As a member of the Radio Free Silver Lake community, I am super happy to be helping to host the evening. Following Torches In Trees around over the past two plus years, I first saw them in December, 2008 at Mr. T's Bowl at an Is Good Music show and again on January 17, 2009 at The Knitting Factory which really clinched it for me. Their dreamy, hypnotic, trance-inducing music always leaves me in a better place than when they begin their set. I've been a die-hard fan ever since and have only seen this band get better and better. Azad Chiekosman is a veritable fountain of songwriting talent as they keep turning out new songs each time I see them. And it's especially fun to see them win over whole new groups of fans every show they play.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh Shit!

According to the latest reports on Monday, August 22 at 1:15PM, this year's Sunset Junction is cancelled for the moment. There will be another meeting on Wednesday to see if the Festival committee has been able to come up with the additional $141,000 in fees required by the city.

I'll post more when I know more...


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Happy Holllows are back at The Satellite

Come on out tonight and see The Happy Hollows as they return to the local stage with a new drummer. Also on the bill, Dirt Dress, Pek Pek and Gentle Hands. This will be an enormously entertaining evening.

Just to make it a little easier, Radio Free Silver Lake is having a Ticket Giveaway right here.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tonight with Califone and Death To Anders

Here's a good show for you:

If I finish all my work today I will treat myself and go.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

LA Weekly Locals Only presents Family of the Year and Seasons tonight

You don't want to miss this show as Seasons are about to take some time off to complete their new album. Family of the Year are the headliner and Golden State and Heartstop round out the bill at The Roxy. There's even a ticket giveaway over at Radio Free Silver Lake.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News...And The Rest

Apart from learning today from Wisconsin that the party is going to dictate the future (mis)direction of this country, and that undisclosed campaign donations are going to spell the end of representative democracy in this nation, I'm trying to stay positive and hope, against much evidence, that this society will evolve and not devolve.

I've got to get my mind off this, so let's talk music. Over the last couple of weeks I've seen a bunch of bands and musicians new to me and, as usual, it gets my mind to racing over all the extraordinary music coming at me from all directions.

Why is it that both times in my lifetime when the greatest societal upheaval has occurred, I have taken my refuge in music, specifically rock music. The times now are so similar to the 1960s, when the country seemed irretrievably split, that once again, music restores my optimism and gives me hope.

As a teenager, while the world seemed hurtling toward oblivion, I was about to graduate high school and head to college and I should have been filled with fear of the unknown and concern over my worthiness, but instead, I couldn't wait to leave the comfort of home and get out of my hometown and head to the city and the future.

Music brought people together then with it's healing power and it's happening least for me it is. The Henry Clay People played the last night of "Also I Like To Rock", on July 28, at the Hammer Museum and that was great, but the chance to see Lady Danville for the first time made the evening really special. Their vocal harmonies, which brought them together in the first place, are sublime and the music is smartly written.

Then on Saturday, July 30, I saw Saint Sea Hat perform some flawless and tuneful indie pop/punk in a passionate set at Pehrspace for the Seasons video release party. The video for "...Of Our Discontent" is as remarkable as the song itself, being a surrealistic tale of a girl with built in speakers. It manages to be both sad and repellent at the same time. Wet and Reckless also played a dynamite set that night. I heard that night went on till the very wee hours of the morning.

Feed Your Head helped present the first LA Underground and Supergoodmusic residency of Judson at The Central in Santa Monica on Tuesday, August 2. Judson was wonderful, of course, accompanied by a superb set of musicians, including Mary, but I have to say the find of the night was Omar Velasco (shown above) who performed a moving and hypnotic set. I was with Cody Hudock and a friend in the outer bar area and we heard a familiar song in the distance. It was Paul McCartney's "Mother Nature's Son" and it sounded so good we thought it might be an outtake of the original song.

Wandering into the separate performance space, we were treated to a set of pretty dazzling solo acoustic songs by Omar Velasco, who is a very accomplished singer/songwriter who I hadn't known about. Exquisitely sung, but a strong voice, accompanying himself on guitar each song sounded like a little gem and I eagerly bought his EP after he finished. I'm happy to report that he will be playing at my first show that Feed Your Head will be presenting monthly at Lot 1 Cafe, beginning on September 3. Headliners are Death To Anders.

On Friday, August 5, Radio Free Silver Lake presented a show at Lot 1 Cafe starring The Spires, who played a set of totally fantastic music that was infectious and had the place hopping. Again I was blown away by a band I'd never heard of before, Naive Thieves, who play a kind of surfy/power pop, with a strong lead singer, reminiscent of The Californian, but different enough in it's upbeat swagger to create space for both bands. Besides no one does surfy/creepy like The Californian. I picked up their EP, Le Sheik Rhat, and it's obvious Naive Thieves know what they're doing. Very self-assured and well produced, the record is a winner.

Sorry to have gone so political at the beginning, but Jeez! Anyway, here are some of the reasons music makes life worth going on and living.


Family of the Year and Seasons at The Roxy

Hey folks, forget the horror of Wisconsin recall election results and come on out for a great show on the Sunset Strip tomorrow night, doors at 8:


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Radars To The Sky Destroy Earth On Saturday!

On Saturday, August 6, the earth beneath The Satellite will burst open (see above), spewing out Torches In Trees, The Lonely Wild, Goldenspell and Radars To The Sky, along with skyscrapers, jets and, of course, molten lava. This is one hell of a program of heavy-hitters and up-and-coming rock stars, with the headliner who play their last show with their current line up. Details to be announced that night.

Radio Free Silver Lake is proud to present this showcase, which will also offer DJ-ing by Travis Woods of Web In Front, and be sure to get there around 9 to hear Torches In Trees kick off the evening.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tonight, Tonight

Won't you try to come to the West Side to join me in welcoming Judson to the first night of his residency at The Central Social Aid and Drinking Club in Santa Monica. I know it's a bit of a trek, but if I can bus it, you can drive it. Tonight's bill includes Mark David Ashworth, Muralismo, Blue Green Grey and Omar Velasco and Feed Your Head is one of tonight's hosts, along with the sponsors of the whole month, Supergoodmusic and LA Undergound.


Monday, August 1, 2011

July Listening Habits

July saw the ascension of a pre-release copy of Beirut's newest, The Rip Tide (set for release on Pompeii Records on August 30) to top the lists, following the pattern set by the previous number one; Okkervil River's I Am Very Far. It's been three years since Beirut released The Flying Club Cup and I was hugely surprised and pleased by the latest. It looks like they perform these bays as a band of only five, but they still achieve that full orchestral sound that has been the hallmark of the previous releases. I'm hooked.

I Am Very Far continues to keep me playing all the other Okkervil River albums. Particularly fond of the Black Sheep Boy album which is from early in their career, but new to me.

The other new releases include Release the Sunbird by Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave, who performed the new material at an impressive set at Hotel Cafe last week (July 28) and the incredible new Rademacher album, Baby Hawk Part I of III, which I gave a rave review to here, and I haven't changed my mind. Claire Mckeown released her own band's gorgeously choral Summer Night Hours, by Dirt Bird, (also reviewed at Radio Free Silver Lake, here) and I suspect it will figure in my August listening.

I bought the Blu-Ray disk of Topsy-Turvy and that is why the soundtrack showed up.

Week of July 22 - 28, 2011

1. Beirut - The Rip Tide (Pompeii Records)

2. Dirt Bird - Summer Night Hours EP (self release)

3. Rademacher - Baby Hawk Part I of III (self release)

4. Rupa & the April Fishes - Extraordinary Rendition (Cumbancha)

5. Release the Sunbird - Come Back To Us (Brush Fire Records)

6. Rogue Wave - Permalight (Brush Fire Records)

7. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

8. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)

9. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

10. Topsy-Turvy - original soundtrack (Sony Classical)

Week of July 15 - 21, 2011

1. Beirut - The Rip Tide (Pompeii Records) pre-release

2. Rademacher - Baby Hawk Part I of III EP (self release)

3. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

4. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)

5. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

6. Topsy-Turvy - original soundtrack (Sony Classical)

7. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop)

8. DeVotchKa - A Mad and Faithful Telling (ANTI)

9. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys (Polydor)

10. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

Week of July 8 - 14, 2011:

1. Beirut - The Rip Tide (Pompeii Records) pre-release)

2. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing)

3. Okkervil River -I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

4. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)

5. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys (Polydor)

6. Tenlons Fort - Shelters (self release)

7. Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World (Polydor)

8. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

9. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

10. Rademacher - Baby Hawk Part I of III EP (self release)

Week of July 1 - 7, 2011:

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

3. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

4. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

5. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

6. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

7. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

8. Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Sub Pop)

9. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)

10. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Judson Residency at The Central

I'm pleased to announce Judson's residency at The Central Social Aid and Drinking Club in Santa Monica beginning next Tuesday, August 2nd and continuing each Tuesday for free for the rest of the month. With supporting bands like Cody The Band, The Californian and The Lonely Wild, there's enough good music to lure you out to the West Side each and every week.

Watching Judson McKinney grow and mature as an artist over the last year has been one of the great gratifications of the recent music scene, as he has scooped up some of the best local musicians, who clammor to play with him. This residency is brought to you by the fine folks at Supergoodmusic and LA Underground.

Judson is also playing a free show tonight at Pershing Square on a bill with Aaron Kyle's new band, Geronimo Getty.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I Listened To Through June 2011

O.K., I'm back. I've got to come to terms with the fact I'll never be able to write as much as I want to. At least not at this point in my life. Maybe later. If I could make myself sit down at the computer and just pound out something...anything, on a daily basis, then I might be satisfied.

First the future: In the immediate, I'm anxious for the Buzzbands sponsored ALSO I LIKE TO ROCK series finale at the Hammer Museum with The Henry Clay People and Lady Danville tomorrow night (Thursday, July 28). Then on Saturday I have to miss Alpine Decline's final L.A. performance at LA Eco Village to attend Seasons' video release party at Pehrspace. But I haven't been to Pehrspace for a while and I always have a great time there, so there I'll be.

I went to see Releasing the Sunbird play their first show last night (Tues, July 26) at Hotel Cafe, and this new band from Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave is nice, mellow offshoot of that band's style, with the vocals becoming a male/female duet between Zach and Kate Long, whose voices are beautifully in tune with each other.

I want to get my June listening up and I'll put up July next...

Week of June 24 - 30, 2011

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)

3. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

4. Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

5. Torches In Trees - Torches (self release)

6. Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys (Polydor)

7. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

8. Duniven - I Have To Try For Her (self release)

9. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

10. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

Week of June 17 -23, 2011:

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. The Lonely Wild - Dead End 45 (self release)

3. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

4. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

5. Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

6. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

7. DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (ANTI)

8. Seasons - 14 song compilation (self release)

9. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

10. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

Week of June 10 - 16, 2011:

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

3. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

4. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

5. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

6. Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Sub Pop)

7. Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

8. Duniven - I Have To Try For Her (self release)

9. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

10. Avi Zahner-Isenberg - Homemade EP (self release)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Upcoming Radio Free Silver Lake Show

Here comes one of the shows of the year.
A bunch of my favorite bands and Travis as DJ. What more could you ask for?

This also serves as a notice that I am still here. Having enjoyed a little hiatus from posting, I intend to get back at it, post haste (as they say).


Friday, July 1, 2011

What I Listened To June 3 - 9, 2011

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

3. Duniven - I Have To Try For Her (self release)

4. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

5. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

6. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

7. Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

8. Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Sub Pop)

9. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

10. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self Release)

Okkervil River's I Am Very Far continues to be the leader of the pack because I love songs that grow more interesting the more you listen to them. And I wanted to have the songs burned into my brain by the time of their June 23rd concert at The Wiltern.

My obsession with Chad VanGaalen and his album Diaper Island has led me back through his earlier catalog, Soft Airplane and Skelliconnection. Interesting to hear his development as an artist, where he seems to go backwards by abandoning a lot of the technical aspects of his music, arriving at a place where the simplicity of the songwriting is matched by an elementary approach to recording. Sometimes it's just a guitar or banjo and two harmonizing voices. The result is is amazingly poignant and emotional.

Since this was the first week of the Duniven residency at Silver Lake Lounge, I spent time with his album, I Have To Try For Her, to compare the live renditions of his songs to their recorded counterparts. The comparison was highly favorable, even satisfying.

The Belle Brigade have definitely produced one of the brightest and cleanest sounding records of the year and now their off across country opening for K.D. Lang. Not bad. The rest of the list is more Low, Fleet Foxes and Torches In Trees.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Duniven Residency - The Last Night

Please come out and join me as Duniven concludes a hugely successful residency run at Silver Lake Lounge on Monday night, June 27. They have managed to draw large crowds to each of their shows and this ought to be the biggest yet with a bill that includes Woolen and The Bixby Knolls, along with Broadcast Station. We at Radio Free Silver Lake could not be more proud to have been a part of this showcase as presenters. Duniven has worked his heart out to make these events stand out against some formidable competition this month and he has been rewarded with an ever-expanding and satisfied fan base.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June...So Far

I've seen some terrific bands so far this month, beginning with a fine set of new and older tunes by Alpine Decline (right) at 3 of Clubs back on June 1st. They opened the first show Radio Free Silver Lake held at LaBrie's last November when we began our Free Tuesday run, and they sent me an LP and a CD of their last album, Visualizations, which I was uncommonly fond of. That album begins with a hollow ringing sound, like some dial tone from outer space, that blanches your mind until a throbbing guitar and drumbeat pierce the eerie sound and a song forms from the wall of sound. And it's a good song that hooks you and you want to hear again.

Speaking with Pauline Mu and Jonathan Zeitlin of Alpine Decline before the show, they told me they already have a brand new album ready for release, and I can't wait. The songs they played from it were instantly likeable so I'll look forward to that. Unfortunately they came on last and quite late, and after two real bland bands, I was tired and left before they were finished. I hope to see them again soon.

Have to mention the two weeks (so far) of the Duniven residency that Radio Free Silver Lake is hosting (in the interest of full disclosure) over at Silver Lake Lounge every Monday this month. These shows have been so entertaining, and so well attended, it's difficult not to feel proud of the programs that Duniven has pulled together. Week one (June 6) featured a really powerful and deeply felt performance by Light FM. They sounded great. Followed by a typically hearty, rocking performance by Wet and Reckless. Duniven was hypnotic from the get go, pounding out song after song in a tightly controlled set that highlighted all the best of the band. Duniven's soulful and electrifying stage presence fronts a band of many equals. They seem very in tune with each other as a band and play off that well. Ceci Castelblanco adds tremendous vocal support that makes the music soar at times. (She was especially well miked at the second show on June 13th).

On the subject of the June 13th show, I walked in as the first band was playing. It was Harley of Red Cortez with a different band called The Petting Zoo. What began as a rather ordinary set ended up being one from which I had to peel myself off the ceiling. I probably saw about five songs and the last three were so powerful, and so good, I was amazed. You know how when the music is so good your breathe becomes labored? That was this. Fronting a band of seven other musicians, Harley brought his unique vocal style to a whole different sounding song. This was sweeping, loud, orchestral rock as fine as I think I've ever heard, with a cello (played by Brian) and two trumpets augmenting the usual assortment of guitars, bass and drums. The fact that this was their first performance was all that much more amazing. Among the musicians was the familiar face of Wendy Wang.

I found out they have another performance next Monday, June 20, but I don't know where...yet. I still can't attend because I want to be at the Duniven show again as a supporter. But I spoke to Harley after the show and made sure to let him know just how impressive this was. WOW, that's just a great example of how exciting discovering new music can be. Look for The Petting Zoo.

The other show was the fantastic The Belle Brigade, in a show at The Satellite last Friday, June 10th. Typical Friday night date crowd and I only knew one other person there, but we enjoyed the show immensely. He summed it up best when he said he always walks out of the club a foot off the ground. And I agree. Their energy and enthusiasm never fail to overwhelm the audience whenever they play. It was a wonderful performance and sets them off on a tour of the east coast, mid west and Canada. I got the chance to wish both Ethan and Barbara a safe trip.

The opener I saw was John Gold (on poster at right) and he performed a very fine set of gravelly, baritone sung rock and roll. And apart from the terrific vocals he also offered some poignant and pointed lyrics that I found interesting, wrapped in melodies I would like to hear again. I was very happy with that discovery.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

What I Listened To May 27 - June 2, 2011

1. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

2. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

3. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

4. Duniven - I Have To Try For Her (self release)

5. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

6. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

7. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

8. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

9. DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (ANTI)

10. Eastern Conference Champions - Speak-Ahh (RockHampton Records)

I was caught competely off guard by the new album from Okkervil River. I don't know how often I've played a CD 15 times in one week, but that was the case with I Am Very Far. It may also be the best album title of the year. I've seen the band a few times over the years but it was a show two years ago at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery where Will Sheff gave a small scale acoustic performance that was so magical and awe-inspiring that I've been a die-hard fan ever since that night. I read somewhere someone describing him as a lyric writer who writes like a novelist, and I couldn't agree more. His writing is so evocative and richly detailed, (the lyric book is huge) that one can get lost in the swirl of stories that he tells. There are at least four great songs here, starting with the first song, "The Valley" which, if it doesn't make you rock out then you haven't got a pulse, "Rider" "We Need A Myth" and "Show Yourself" has one of the most haunting orchestrations I've heard. Some of the songs are fully orchestrated masterworks which include strings and horns and (here's where I veered from facts and claimed this as a Canadian band, when they are actually, originally from Austin, Texas, but now claim Brooklyn as their home...sorry) Anyway, those are the songs that jumped out right away, and I'm sure I will come to appreciate all of them over the years. This album is a keeper. Whereas I loved the earlier album, The Stage Names, I wasn't all that fond of the last one, The Stand Ins, but I Am Very Far surpasses all their previous efforts. I am now so happy I bought a ticket to see them at The Wiltern on June 23.

Chad VanGaalen had to compete strongly to measure up, but amazingly, I still play Diaper Island all the time too. Unfortunately, he's doing a small tour of the east coast and Canada, and then taking off for Europe for the rest of the summer. Damn! I want to see him again. He'll hopefully hit the west coast in the fall. I'm sure as a Sub Pop artist, they'll want him to play L.A. Again, I'm touting the Canadians, but if you've seen him live, you'll understand why.

Still marvellng over The Belle Brigade album, which is so professional and such a complete cycle of songs, it's just a beautifully put together record. Congratulations to Reprise for having the foresight to sign them. It perfectly captures the energy and proficiency of all their live performances...and their glorious harmonies.

Duniven is currently playing every Monday night at Silver Lake Lounge for Radio Free Silver Lake, and even if he weren't, I would still be listening to his album. It's that good. Solid songwriting, good variety, clean and straighforward instrumentation, in a classic American style featuring some strong two-part harmonies. I can listen to this repeatedly.

Fleet Foxes and Low are two beautiful albums that continue to make a mark as do DeVotchka and Eastern Conference Champions. Torches In Trees EP, Torches, is a stunner and Chad VanGaalen's early, Skelliconnection is new to me, though the video for the song, "Red Hot Drops" is one of the things that got me into him in the first place, like four years ago.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May Shows Wrapup

Apart from Feed Your Head's third anniversary party on May 9th, I had a great time at The Happy Casualties CD release show at Lot 1 Cafe on Friday the 13th. The night began with Manhattan Murder Mystery's Matthew Teardrop (at right) doing a solo gig, and it was very instructive to hear his music in this simplified form. The lyrics often sound like some post-midnight conversation in a bar, sometimes confessional, sometimes confrontational, and in a solo setting they become even more personal. Were it not for the earnestness and honesty contained in his words it might come off a aimless self-pity, but instead, one senses a yearning for something better. The whole set made me feel privy to a certain level of Matthew's songwriting process.

Richard Sax Ross is a one man band who performs a cross between street musician, elevator music and lounge-lizard razzle-dazzle. His electric performance impressed everyone who took the time to pay attention, and I'd like to see more of this. Some amazing saxophone playing. Randolph Williams, of One Trick Pony, performed a small intimate set as Remote Consoller, with just a few friends and it was another chance to bask in his warm, honey-toned vocals. But this was The Happy Casualties night, as they were releasing a 16-track CD, Sons of the New West (album cover at right), and they took the stage and played a potent set of numbers from the album. Steven Sigl's cousin Brittany is singing harmony vocals and her presence adds a whole new dimension to the sound. I've seen them a few times, with a few different band members, but I think this line up is the best of all. The new material is wonderfully cohesive and this is borne out by repeated listenings of the album.

The next night I missed The Henry Clay People for the second night in a row because I had a ticket to see Lord Huron at The Troubadour, and I'd had it for months. I really enjoy following bands I like that start out small and suddenly get the heat turned up on them to see how they handle it and what happens next. Lord Huron (at right) only surfaced a few short months ago and already have developed a substantial following. Good write ups from Brand X and Buzzbands didn't hurt plus a free show at Origami and they just took off. South by Southwest seems to have been particularly good exposure as well and they came back to town to now play The Troubadour, and I didn't want to miss it. Performing with accompaniment by The Calder Quartet on a few numbers, their already full, rich sound only became fuller and richer. And they still appear to be having the time of their lives which makes this band so infectious.

Chris Douridas of KCRW hosts School Nights! at Bardot in Hollywood and I had only attended one before, but the show Monday, May 16 was such a winner I want to go back soon. Hands were the surprise headliner, announced at the last minute, and along with Gardens & Villa and Obi Best they delivered one hell of a strong show in a gorgeous environment. It was a cool and blustery night, like we've had so often this winter, but I braved the elements to get there and dressed warmly cause I know, basically, you're outdoors at this club, being on the roof and all. Cody the Band was there, as was Hunter from Walking Sleep, so I didn't feel 'alone in Hollywood' at all.

I had seen Obi Best at a Radio Free Silver Lake LaBrie's show, and had been so entranced by the dreamy, kinetic, swaying music, it felt like a drink of cool water in a hot desert. But on this night, Barbara Gruska of The Belle Brigade was back behind the drums of this band and, together with Wendy Wang, Obi Best turned in some of the finest three-part group harmonies I've ever heard. Alex Lilly also premiered her new Obi Best video for the song "Tropical Fish", which was lovely, and tossed copies of her latest EP out to crowd members who correctly answered her questions. Hunter got one of them. Also that night, Gardens & Villa impressed with a solid set of crowd-pleasing indie rock, and then Hands rocked the place with their electronic/indie rock combination. One thing about these programs at Bardot is that they tend to run into the wee hours of the morning.

The Belle Brigade electrified a big crowd at Amoeba on Wednesday, May 18. Just two days before, I'd seen Barbara playing drums for Obi Best, as detailed above, and chatted with her and her brother, Ethan at the club. The store filled up pretty quickly as 7 o'clock approached. There's been enough buzz on this band that they're starting to be hard to see (their Friday show at McCabe's that week was sold out).

They're so relentlessly sunny and upbeat, you'd want to slap them silly, if they weren't so god-damned talented. They tear into their songs with the ferocity of a dog with a new bone. Their potent combination of indie/folk rock and alt/country seasonings make me think of everyone from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to The New Pornographers, with Fleetwood Mac in between. It's power pop of the highest order.

I've already reviewed the two show with Tommy Santee Klaws that I saw in May here , one of them being at Silver Lake Jubilee, which I reviewed at Radio Free Silver Lake. Another enjoyable set was Walking Sleep's first show ever at Hotel Cafe (photo from The Satellite on right) on Saturday night, May 28. As that is just a ten minute walk from my house, I couldn't resist the chance to go see them so close to home. My weekends can often be taken up by the L.A. Show Low Down that I publish for Radio Free Silver Lake every Monday morning, but it was a nice respite to stop working and wander over for a fine set of music. Even as The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, this band has always impressed me with their tight and very professional on-stage commitment. As Walking Sleep they've taken a step forward and seem to be writing the best songs of their career right now and I look forward to their next record.


What I Listened To May 20 - 26, 2011

1. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

2. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

4. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

5. Duniven - I Have To Try For Her (self release)

6. Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

7. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

8. DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (ANTI)

9. Eastern Conference Champions - Speak-Ahh (RockHampton Records)

10. Avi Zahner-Isenberg - Homemade EP (self release)

Still obsessed with Chad VanGaalen and his wonderful new CD. I really thought that the Low album would hold the number one position for a very long time, but with such great new material coming out, those predictions are out the window. There'll be a new number one next week again! The haunting poignance of Chad VanGaalen's vocals are matched by the delicate, yet solidly grounded melodies he writes. With simple arrangements, that are often no more than a guitar or banjo, a drum and two harmony vocals, he achieves an aching beauty so often on this album that it's hard to believe there's also so much variety. His lyrics are odd and decidedly quirky, but reveal real truths.

Jump on The Belle Brigade juggernaut if you want to see a band break into the big time fast. Their brand of perfect indie pop is so infectious, every person I play it for becomes an instant fan. Superb recording technology doesn't hurt either, as this record packs a powerful punch.

Fleet Foxes and Low are still riding high as I revel in having seen the former recently and the latter later in the year. The Duniven album, I Need To Try For Her, has a staying power that is only growing, in anticipation of the upcoming June residency Radio Free Silver Lake is hosting over at Silver Lake Lounge.

Tommy Santee Klaws (Rakes), Torches In Trees (Torches) and DeVotchKa (100 Lovers) are three bands who have given electrifying performances lately that I've been lucky enough to witness. And Eastern Conference Champions have released quite an impressive album with Speak Ahh!.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Interview With Duniven

We made an appointment to meet at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, which turned out to be just the right decision. I've never been into the bars of this beautifully restored Hollywood landmark, (but I did have to vote once for a presidential election in the ballroom where the first Academy Awards were held). I had been listening to and enjoying an advance copy of Duniven's CD, I Need To Try For Her, and with the prospect of an upcoming Radio Free Silver Lake/The Fold sponsorship of a Silver Lake Lounge residency in June, it seemed the appropriate time to reach out and sit and chat.

I met Patrick (who, for the sake of simplicity, is known musically as Duniven) for the first time when he came into the lobby of the Roosevelt and we headed into one of the bars in the lobby. He told me how happy he was that Radio Free Silver Lake had agreed to help present his residency, and that he had talked to Joe through emails, but that I was the first Radio Free Silver Laker he'd met in person. I let him know how much I like his album.

Not wishing to retread over areas Joe dealt with in his interview, I asked him about the time between disbanding The Capshuns and going to work on completely new material, with a far more personal edge to it. Plagued by sinusitis for years, he submitted to corrective surgery and the recovery time was somewhat lengthy, but creatively inspirational.

Determined to get away from the "Brit-pop" label mentioned in nearly every piece written about The Capshuns, he decided he needed to relocate his songwriting to a more internal place, to make his music a more personal expression. While recuperating from his surgery, he was listening to lots of artists whose best work was usually written from a point in their lives where they were at their most vulnerable.

Feeling rather vulnerable himself, he decided to try writing about 'the girl that got away', someone from earlier in his life for whom he harbored strong feelings that were never acted upon. 'The road not taken' and all that. It unleashed a torrent of emotions and resulted in the most personal and poignant writing of his career. He wrote about his regrets and his yearnings in regard to this one girl, from many angles and perspectives, ending up with around 20 songs. Choosing the best for inclusion on his album, he began assembling a new band to help him realize his compositions. (Photo above by Gaylord Hill, as it appears on the I Need To Try For Her CD cover.

This quest is detailed in Joe Fielder's interview with Duniven at Radio Free Silver Lake. Just to briefly recap: bassist Dan Komin came from The Capshuns, Chris Vargas is a drummer he had admired in other bands, who was anxious to team up with Duniven. Shea Branham is a guitarist of such skill and presence Patrick would not take no for an answer when he was asked to join the band. Jason Borger plays keys and is a hugely respected musician and has his own band, Jerry Borge who will play the first show June 6 and Ceci Castelblanco adds gorgeous vocal harmonies to Duniven's music.

I haven't done many, but this was the easiest interview I have given, and credit must go to Duniven for his ability and desire to be honest and direct. I even got a recommendation for a saline sinus spray. I've admired his talent, now I admire the person. We said goodbye as I was given a solid copy of his new album, I already know I like it. I look forward to his weekly shows this month, every Monday at Silver Lake Lounge. I outlined the various bills at Radio Free Silver Lake. See you at a show.


Monday, May 30, 2011

What I Listened To May 13 - 19, 2011

1. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

2. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

4. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

5. DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (ANTI)

6. Lord Huron - Mighty (self release)

7. Pinback - Offcell EP (Absolutely Kosher)

8. Low - Trust (Krank Records)

9. Obi Best - Sentimental Education EP (self release)

10. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

Chad VanGaalen first popped onto my radar back in 'o6, when I was in my infancy as a new rock and roll fan (part II). I saw a couple of his music videos, for "Clinically Dead" and "Red Hot Drops", back then and was very impressed with, not only his songwriting, but with his artwork as well. I saw him back in October '06 at Avalon opening for Band of Horses, and though the audience was pretty restless, I was able to focus on Chad and see how serious he was about his music. For some reason, I still didn't pick up any of his albums back then. Because he only ventures out infrequently from his home in Canada, he kind of moved to the back burner for me, until I saw he was coming to Spaceland in 2009.

At that time I picked up his last album, Soft Airplane, and I fell head over heels in love with it. The combination of amazing songwriting, his expressive and plaintive vocal style, and the simple orchestrations, with the sophistication of a lot of computer sounds, totally intrigued me and I played the album over and over. I was completely overwhelmed by his live show and reviewed his Spaceland concert back in 2009 here.

On that basis alone, I picked up his newest CD, Diaper Island, almost the day it came out and I think it's even better than the last one. If there's a more beautiful song this year than "Sara", I need to hear it.

The other new album is the debut of The Belle Brigade, who gave a fabulous account of themselves at Amoeba that week. Released by Reprise, it's about as professional a recording as I've ever heard and showcases all the bands strong points. It's upbeat, uptempo and filled with magnificent songwriting. Stay away if don't like a happy band, because these kids are exploding with joy, and who can blame them with the press they're getting.

Pinback's Offcell EP is back on the list because they played such a magnificent version of the complex and eight minute "Grey Machine" at their concert in the 10th. Lord Huron also blazed back owing to their super show at The Troubadour on the 14th. The rest you know.