Monday, February 28, 2011

Choir of Young Believers

I had waited all weekend for an RSVP to the new "School Night" event that goes on every Monday at Bardot in Hollywood sponsored by Chris Douridas of KCRW, mfg and valida, until it arrived at about 6:45 which firmed my resolve not to miss this show with Choir of Young Believers and Princeton on February 21, 2011.

Now, the Bardot in on the roof of the Avalon and requires journeying into the beating heart of the fatally plastic world of Hollywood Clubs. The heart is plastic too...or a digital effect. But my prejudices proved unfounded (as prejudices often do). This was my second venture into Bardot, as I was there a year or so ago for an invitation only blogger party, and like that night, I found the atmosphere and ambiance of the club quite pleasant.

It doesn't hurt that the club, built as it is on the roof of the Avalon, is pretty beautiful, with two bars, indoor rooms and an outdoor patio with a performance stage, so covered with canopies that you only know you're outdoors by the occasional glimpse of a star-filled sky through gaps in the fabric. But the crowd itself was a slightly upscale indie rock audience (those able to afford $12. drinks) but they were attentive and interested in the music and surprisingly unpretentious.

I settled down with my $12. scotch, alone in a big chair, and surveyed the stage area and the room around it. Curious framed paintings adorn the wall by the staircase, mostly of Turner-esque landscapes and reverential portraits of pet dogs, some in odd costumes. It all makes for an interesting head trip.

Spotting who I thought were the band at the other end of the stage, I went up to introduce myself and met Caecilie Trier, who plays cello and sings stunning harmony vocals when called for, and she introduced me to singer/writer/guitarist, Jannis Makrigiannis. When I told them I had been at their Bootleg performance last March and had been a fan ever since, they became curious and we had a great chat about what they're up to now. They were charming, attractive and seemed eager to talk. They stated clearly that this was not the band in full and would just be an acoustic two-piece and I assured them I had known that beforehand.

Choir of Young Believers had me grinning from ear to ear from the first note, when not wiping a tear away from my eye because the music is so moving and so emotionally moving.

It was a great opportunity to hear the compositions in their rawest form, yet they were still excruciatingly beautiful, The two songs they played from the album, This Is For The White In Your Eyes, "Hollow Talk" and "Action/Reaction", were just as entrancing, even without the full band behind them, allowing one to really appreciate each separate element that goes into the music. Jannis' hollow, haunted guitar, his plaintive voice, Caecilie's classic cello and airy vocals combined to made me wonder if they even need a band.

They filled out the set with some covers that Jannis told me were by some of their favorite Scandinavian bands, and some new material. They've been in Los Angeles for a few weeks and are staying through March, then they return home to Copenhagen to begin recording a new album. I had managed to stay right next to the stage for their set and it was so intimate, the surroundings, so pleasant and relaxed that the whole experience resembled a dream


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recent Shows and Thoughts

Radio Free Silver Lake's third free February Tuesday (Feb. 15) with The Western States Motel was a feast of good music. The last band was going to be Jack Gibson's latest music project, Disaster Speaks. Jack, who splits his time between Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California is in town for (at least) three shows and has surrounded himself with some fine L.A. musicians, including John Seasons on bass, Bo Bory of Downtown/Union plays guitar and the band just rocks!

I had a nice catch-up with Jack when I got to the venue and he told me how he had just thrown together this band and written a bunch of songs for them to it's no big deal. First up though, was Judson of Judson and Mary with a band assembled to cover parts Mary plays while she's back east. Singing a solo on guitar and harmonica, Judson opened the set with a simple folk song before inviting the band onto the stage where they proceeded to play interesting arrangements of familiar songs. The band was great and Mary's parts were taken by two musicians and the overall effect was pleasing.

The Western States Motel played a mixed set of new and older songs for a nice set, especially considering the sound problem of a faulty keyboard which the band dealt with admirably and professionally, still delivering a fine set of music, after which Disaster Speaks took over.

Jack Gibson has a golden touch as this new band, Disaster Speaks, was like another new, fully-formed east side band. Jesus, how many are there! Delivering a blistering and active program of newly minted songs that all sounded like classics, I was major pleased. Although not a huge crowd, I still think everyone left impressed.

Although tired, I still set out the next night to attend The Ross Sea Party show they invited me to at Silver Lake Lounge. The Californain were also on the bill, so acceptance was a no-brainer. I got there in time to hear most of the set by The Lexingtons, whose dynamic stage show is highlighted by another diminutive powerhouse of a lead performer. Like Samuel Bing of Fol Chen or Avi Buffalo of Avi Buffalo, small stature in no indicator of talent.

>div>The Ross Sea Party performed a strong set of power pop rock that kept me intrigued and wanting more, and The Californian were their usual electrifying selves. The crowd at Silver Lake Lounge was large and festive for a Wednesday night and I couldn't help but notice that if even a mid-week low key show could attract such a crowd, this music scene is certainly showing no signs of flagging.

I'd planned on going to the Friday show at Pehrspace with The Monolators and Disaster Speaks on February 18, but the rain was so intense and only got worse as the night went on that I was glad I stayed home.

I went out Sunday to Lot 1 Cafe instead and that was a night! For many it was a holiday on Monday (Feb. 21), so spirits were high and the place was pretty full for openers, Count Fleet and their attractive brand of indie/blues/rock. Was even given a copy of their CD by Caitlin Dryer and notice that it was produced by Raymond Richards and features such guest musicians as Jordan Hudock of Marvelous Toy/The Henry Clay People and is a nicely polished production.

The version of Disaster Speaks that appeared Sunday night was supplemented by the astonishing Avi Buffalo on guitar, and along with the two other guitars they created a wall of wailing guitars that was even more impressive than their performance on Tuesday. The audience was wowed. It was great to hang out with these guy and as Jack Gibson wends his way back to Texas, I have to admit, I will miss him.

I'd been given the AV Club's CD a week earlier and was mighty impressed so I was looking forward to their set. I have to admit, I was so dazed by Disaster Speaks, that I'm not sure I gave AV Club their due, but I remember enjoying their set

But for me, the night belonged to Torches in Trees, who, once again floored me with their set. Energetic, precise, filled with a variety of songwriting and beautifully performed. Once the vocals were mixed to their proper level the set soared and the audience felt it. One great song followed another great song for a set like a greatest hits sampler. The fullness of sound this three piece manages to put out is incredibly impressive.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

January Weekly Top Tens

As I lay there dying from the flu in January, in my fevered hysteria, I thought, "how will I ever get my best of the year lists done?" Will I ever be able to get out of bed long enough to attend a concert again? Will I ever play another CD? Will I ever be able to do more than just watch travel shows on PBS? ...Will I ever stop talking abour it?

Well, eventually the senses started returning, I listened to some quiet albums, went out to a couple of shows (I really needed to get my concert legs back) and the urge to write followed, getting stronger and stronger.

Between January 14 - 20, 2011, and I listened to just a few albums, but it was the soothing, upbeat sweetness of the music of Lord Huron, on their two EP's, that was really healing and helped to escort me back to the world of music. Beirut's The Flying Club Cup was another piece, which I hadn't played in a while, but the variety and creativity of this album was reassuring and engaging. George Glass picked up the pace a bit for me with their more aggressive rock, but still they fascinate me with the breadth of their range in each song. Rob Crow, Film School and Blitzen Trapper filled out the rest of my listening parameters and I thank all these artists for bringing me back to where I belong.

What I listened To January 21 - 27, 2011:

1. Alpine Decline - Visualizations (self release)

2. Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Bros.)

3. Iron and Wine - Live at Norfolk 6/20/05 (Sub Pop)

4. Nightfur - Glass Wall (self release.

5. The Monolators - Silver Cities/Ruby Double 45 record (self release)

6. Iron and Wine - Around the Well (Sub Pop)

7. George Glass - George Glass (self release)

8. Pepper Rabbit - Beauregard (Kanine Records)

9. Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

10. Seryn - This Is Where We Are (Velvet Blue Music)

I was sent the album by Alpine Decline called Visualizations over the holidays, but it wasn't untill I started playing the CD that accompanied the shipment that I realized just how great this is. It's diffused, spacious sound is anchored by a powerful wall of sonic noise beneath that it sounds like a spaceship taking off, but with some very sweet singing aliens on board. They played the very first night of our Radio Free Silver Lake LaBrie's show but I wasn't familiar with their music. I will pay closer attention next time.

This was the week of the Iron and Wine shows including the one I saw on Wednesday, Jan. 26 so I gorged myself on his recent records. His new album, Kiss Each Other Clean, is challenging and a little remote, but the poetry is beautiful and fascinating in its elaborate construction. In concert it was spectacular, full-bodied and quite hypnotic. 11 musicians filled the stage for most of the show and the sound was perfection. His Live at Norfolk album remains my favorite of his recordings because it's so forcefully played and his stage persona is so ingratiating and unforced that you can listen to it over and over.

The Nightfur album, Glass Wall, is terrifically well recorded and, though more tame than their live renditions, the songs are solid and interesting. The Monolators double 45 they just released, Silver Cities/Ruby is such a treasure, because they are recorded like a real rock band and sound better than ever. Their live energy is apparent on the record, but they take care to showcase all elements of their sound without ever tipping over into the sloppy.

I've written about all the others, but should mention that the Seryn album, This Is Where We Are, was sent to me and I enjoyed hearing it and I will try to see them next time they're in town.

What I Listened To January 27 - February 3, 2011:

1. Alpine Decline - Visualization (self release)

2. The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch Records)

3. Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Bros.)

4. Nightfur - Glass Wall (self release)

5. George Glass - George Glass (self release)

6. The Monolators - Silver Cities/Ruby Double 45 record (self release)

7. Three Mile Pilot - The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)

8. Iron and Wine - Live at Norfolk 6/20/05 (Sub Pop)

9. Pepper Rabbit - Beauregard (Kanine Records)

10. Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

Still obsessed with the Alpine Decline album. I find the songs dreamy and seductive and they are good enough for frequent, repeated plays. It's great mood music while riding on the bus as the compositions are highly visual and cinematic.

The Low Anthem blew me away at the Iron and Wine concert in January, so I picked up their Oh My God, Charlie Darwin CD in the folk section at Amoeba, and, though not quite as impactful as their live set, it's still a damned good record.

All the others, you know what I think. Now I'm off to see a bunch of shows.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Heart Broken

I tried as best I could to get to see Arcade Fire in their secret show at the Ukrainian Culture Center of Los Angeles, but it was pretty hopeless, as work leaked last night and lines of overnight ticket-seekers camped out on Thursday night at the three locations announced. After assurances that the announcement would not be made until 9 AM Friday morning, it was a little disappointing.

The El Rey was one of the locations selling tickets and, as it is close by work, I dashed over around 11:40 AM, as an early lunch hour, to get in line, which was not too long. But after waiting 30 minutes it became clear that there was no hope, as they had wrist-banded as many people as they thought could get tickets and I was well behind that. Dejected, I returned to work.

I would have felt worse if I hadn't even tried, so to those lucky bastards I say, "enjoy your god-damned Arcade Fire concert". This band is, literally, on fire! I'd watch them on the Grammys on Sunday, except that after three minutes of that show I'm ready to throw up.

Got home later and found my DeVotchKa at The Fonda ticket in the mail, so that's some compensation. Also looking forward to this month's Red Cortez residency at The Satellite on Monday nights, especially the two with Everest. And rejoice, because Jack Gibson is returning to town and is going to play our Radio Free Silver Lake Free Tuesday at LaBrie's next Tuesday, February 15. He'll be fronting a new side project band called Disaster Speaks. We've seen him as Tenlons Fort for years, and it's always pretty special.

I had planned to try to see Alpine Decline tonight at Pehrspace, but I was wiped from the work week and the up/down of Arcade Fire (when I got in line at El Rey I actually thought there was a chance) so I didn't. I love the Alpine Decline album they sent me, both vinyl and CD (which I play all the time, great on the bus) and I wanted to see them live again before I write about it, but, another time. They were on the first bill of our LaBrie's series with The Californian on November 2, 2010 and I wish I'd been more familiar with their music then.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Summing Up My Weekly Ten Best Lists For 2010

I'm trying to wrap up 2010, but it's a tough struggle. It's like the year that won't go away. I have all these Ten Best lists from December (December 2 was the last date to appear on this blog), so I'll put them all together and make one big December list and hope I haven't slighted anybody. I'll deal with January later.

Fed somewhat by the shows I saw that month, the list is as follows.

1. George Glass - George Glass (self release)

Even though they didn't play any shows in town during December, they still ruled the month. I would still list this as one on the best of the year, even if my name were not on the back. I never tire of the songs. I can't wait to have them as our band of the month at Radio Free Silver Lake's Free Tuesdays at LaBrie's in March right after The Western States Motel finish up their fabulous February residency.

2. Pepper Rabbit - Beauregard (Kanine Records)

One of my favorite finds of the year was this band and their terrific blend of European pop and indie rock. Astonishing in live performance.

3. Three Mile Pilot - The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)

One of the most solid recordings of the year, so self-assured and sure-footed. A terrific array of songs in a great variety of styles. That Pinback bass and that Black Heart plaintive wail make a great combination from two legendary artists.

4. Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

This startling and well recorded album of the enchanting music this combine of remarkable musicians make is another year's best and well worth waiting for because this band never sounded so good (except live, of course)

5. Lord Huron - Mighty EP (self release)

The band out of nowhere that have taken their newly adopted home by storm. See these guys live at any one of the local dives before they break big.

6. Kenseth Thibideau - Repetition (Temporary Residence)

Fed by the fact this band opened for Rob Crow at The Satellite on the 7th, only increased my interest and I was rewarded with some of the most breathtaking , cinematic and dense music of the year and a great opening band.

7. Broken Bells - Broken Bells (Columbia Records)

I can't stop going back to this album, I find the songs so hypnotic and addictive

8. Rob Crow -Living Well (Temporary Residence)

His solo concert at The Satellite was a great opportunity to watch and hear what Rob does to those compositions as a solo artist. He promised to play 30 songs as fast as he could, and then he made good on that promise. It was a wonderful compendium of a great career.

9. Lord Huron - Into The Sun (self release)

Again, the recordings are great, but they only hint at the power of this band live.

10. Everest - On Approach (Vapor Records)

Set to play all over town in February, they are another reason for national attention focused on our local scene. They currently play some of the finest sets of their career and you'd be a fool to miss them.

Anyway that takes care of that. Next I have to tackle last year's Best Live Shows and whittling that down from 50 may take some effort.


Monday, February 7, 2011

10 Best Albums of 2010

10 Best Albums (actually 13):

(Sorry this column is so late but laziness and the flu and more laziness got the better of me. Never it is.. and only a month late!)

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge Records)

A remarkable achievement for a highly lauded band to come out with a third album that is as fresh and vibrant as anything they've released yet, but also sounds like it just flowed out of them with refreshing ease. It's great to see a band mature and still maintain their creative high. I suspect that, over time, this may well come to be seen as their best album yet. Filled with their familiar themes of alienation, suburban life vs. stardom/the music business, rabid fans, and how to move forward, they waste no words and do not suffer fools gladly. Urgent, intelligent, always melodic and sweeping, and ultimately quite moving. Their live shows at The Shrine in October were exhilerating and electrifying.

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

Consistently in my top ten for the last two years, they return with what I consider their best album. When I saw them, for the third time, at El Rey in June they covered Destroyer... and it was the best I've ever seen them. Endlessly inventive melodies, some great guitar passages and Eric Earley's expressive and flexible voice guides the music and when blended with their intricate vocal harmonies, the songs soar. This album was impossible to stop playing for months.

3. Everest - On Approach (Vapor Records)

I also had the privilege of hearing this album come to life in concerts over the last two years, first in the composing stages and then , once the album was released, in live versions of the songs that were always the equal, if not superior to, the recorded versions. Solid songcraft has always been a hallmark of this band, and it has only grown stronger, as the songs sound like instant classic folk rock. Russell Pollard's vocals have never sounded this good and so much touring and performing has paid off with the whole band working together as a cohesive unit.

4. Pepper Rabbit - Beauregard (Kanine Records)

A highly original sound coupled with an uncanny gift for haunting melody. Imbued with that vaguely Eastern European flavor favored by artists like Beirut, Gogol Bordello or even Grizzly Bear. I love the air of sad, graceful melancholy, matched with some highly original lyrics, some sounding like nonsense until you listen a few times and realize they are actually deeply felt. Xander Singh has a winsome and lilting voice, backed by rich and varied orchestral flourishes, ranging from clarinet to brass instruments, and propelled by Luc Laurent's fascinating percussion, it all comes together so well showcasing the wide range of song styles they explore.

5. Three Mile Pilot - The Inevitable Past Is The Fututre Forgotten (Temporary Residence)

What can I say about the guys that make this music. They've found the formula to create music that bypasses all my filters and goes directly into my cardio-vascular system, so that it becomes like a heart beat, or breathing, or drinking water when you're thirsty. It is certainly one of the most beautiful albums of the year, put together by some of the creative forces behind The Black Heart Procession and Pinback. I got to see this band about a year and a half ago when they played Echoplex and I'm sure they played some of this new material because I remember being quite impressed with the show.

6. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

The band that gives lugubrious a good name, their massive sound is epic in it's scope. The unexpected beauty of some of the compositions moved me to tears frequently when I first played this album. It comes in like a transmission from outer space then morphs into solid wall of guitar and bass, pierced by Jace Lasek's eerie falsetto vocals that are soon swallowed up in the throbbing. pulsating beat. It's an amazing amalgam on sounds, blended together beautifully. The layering that occurs on such songs as "Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent, Part 2: The Innocent" and "Land Of Living Skies" is positively tidal in it's pull until you feel like you could disolve in emotion. Live, they recreate the sound faithfully, with audiences swaying back and forth as if in a trance.

7. George Glass - George Glass EP (self release)

A new band that has rapidly ascended to the top tier of local bands. Surprisingly mature work with songs that are as unpredictable as they are unexpectedly beautiful. Nick Ceglio's plaintive yet expressive singing is recorded to really stand at the center of the songs and it gives the whole record a focus. Songs that begin one way, suddenly veer off in unexpected directions, keeping the listener on his toes and showing off Nick's talent as a songwriter. I've been watching this band live for the past year and to hear so professional and crisp a recording from them is a revelation.

8. Broken Bells - Broken Bells (Columbia Records)

As an offshoot to The Shins, James Mercer teamed with Danger Mouse to give his already quirky songs a kind of funky lift that doesn't seem like it should work at first. After you've played the album over and over, you realize, not only does it work, but it reveals a whole other side to Mercer's talent. Sometimes diverging off into orchestral, film sountrack-like flourishes, the music covers a range of styles and emotions. There's a wistfull loneliness that comes through, making for an emotional connection as well. Great to see them live, and at the second concert they performed new material not on this expect more from Broken Bells. I keep going back to this album over and over.

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

I'd only heard a couple of songs by this band before they came to town last year promoting a brand new record, so I picked up Field Music (Measure) at Amoeba and bought a ticket for the Bootleg Theatre. I was instantly hooked by their intelligent industrial Brit-rock that sounds like some of the most inventive and interesting music being made right now. The variety of instruments coupled with their proficiency on each one makes for a rich musical experience. The music is as unpredictable as it is intricate, but it is not easy and requires a certain amount of concentration. There's 20 cuts on the album and it plays like two albums, with a definite break at the eleventh cut where the music becomes more experimental for the remainder. I got to meet both brothers, Peter and David Brewis, at the Bootleg and a couple of days later at their free show at Amoeba, and they were a delight to talk to.

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

I was such a fan of this band before this album that Fission came as a real surprise. The unexpected upbeat quality of the music and the use of more group vocals, especially Lorelie, really caught my attention. It's a wonderfully varied collection of songs that really grow on you. Still anchored in that comfortable melancholy, the songs still have a rueful quality, even when they make you want to jump up and dance around the room. Greg Bertens' voice still has that dream-like quality that attracted me to this band in the first place.

11. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop)

The long-awaited debut album by Long Beach supergroup turned Sub Pop artists was the fulfillment of a year and a half of following this band all over town. They were almost instantly recognized as band of rare talent, and I'm happy to say I saw them close to the beginning. I was so famiiar with the live versions of these song that to hear the versions committed to CD was both thrilling and scary. Would they be as good? In most cases the answer is yes. Nicely recorded there's even room for some of Avi's spectacular noodling on his guitar. Sad to say the group is no longer together but look forward to the next phase of their collective careers.

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

This band just exploded for me. First time I ever saw them was in April last year when they opened for Radio Free Silver Lake's Lost Episode of "Let's Independent!" at El Cid and I was totally blown away. This little EP is only four songs, but each song is among the best individual songs I heard all year. Having now seen then over a half dozen times, and hearing all their unreleased material, boy, does this band ever have a full album in them and I can't wait. John Graney is an arresting and super-charismatic front man and I predict big things.

13. Lord Huron - 2 EP's Into the Sun & Mighty (self releases)

This band suddenly popped up out of nowhere last November and I have tried to see them every time they've played since then. A unique blend of atmosphere-soaked harmony vocals and shimmering guitars, mixed with a Carribean beat. I've never heard anyting quite like it and these two EP's are inseperable. That the band has tons of on stage presense will not hurt them. See them now, before they explode.

The following albums made a big impression as well, but if I stop to talk about each one, this piece will never be published.

Tommy Santee Klaws - Rakes (self release)

Dead Meadow - Three Kings (Zemu Records)

Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me (Drag City)

Helen Stellar - If The Stars Could Speak, They Would Have Your Voice... (self release)

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

EELS - Tomorrow Morning (EWorks)


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Remarkable Times

I'm so excited about the local and regional bands that have been getting breaks, playing big shows at major venues, sometimes on a nationwide scale, like The Belle Brigade opening for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at El Rey last Friday night and Breathe Owl Breathe (at right), opening for Vann Tiersen at The Fonda in March.

Had to get a ticket for Fleet Foxes at Hollywood Palladium in May, in spite of the fact that the venues are getting bigger and bigger since I saw them at The Echo and Spaceland. And, for all the redecoration, I still think the Palladium sounds like a big barn. Especially if you get stuck on the outskirts where the over amped bass totally distorts the sound (see: Grizzly Bear) Actually this will be my fifth time seeing them, and for that I'm grateful.

I went to see Lord Huron turn another crowd into worshipful fans and I could only stay at The Echo for two songs before I had to hightail it over to Lot 1 Cafe and I got there only to hear the last song by Pageants (Rebecca Coleman's new band since leaving Avi Buffalo. And with ex-Buffalo bass player, Arin Fazio.) But what I heard was incredible, with Rebecca now playing guitar, the song had the wonderful oddball songwriting style of an Avi Buffalo song. And the band has a similar twinkling quality. Both Rebecca, and her mom, and Arin were as thrilled to see me as I was to see them, and we had a nice short chat before they sped off back to Long Beach. Ashley Jex hosted. I'll review this in more depth Thursday over at Radio Free Silver Lake.

It's great to be out and about again.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Quite A Night

If I hadn't been stoned before I got to The Satellite on Thursday night, February 3, then I surely would have been by the end of the set by Useless Keys (see right), whose combination of wall-of-sound dramatics and diffusion were visually matched by a hallucinatory and seizure-inducing light show, that transformed the place into a foggy pit of laser lights and billowing shadows, punctuated by throbbing and pulsating strobes. It was a powerful and impressive presentation.

I was so intrigued by the notion of seeing Great Northern play with remnants of Irving (now: Shadow Shadow Shade) on the same bill, as I saw them together at King King in Hollywood a hundred years ago (actually 2006). It seems a lifetime ago. And now I just got back from seeing them again, and it was quite special.

Web In Front has put together this terrific Thursday night residency with Shadow Shadow Shade and the first line up was killer. In addition to the three aforementioned bands, Wet & Reckless rounded out the night. Unfortunately I have a swirl of concert activity the next night, so I had to duck out early.
But I did get to witness a really riveting performance by some of my earliest contacts in the local indie scene, Great Northern (at right), who, after a few glitches were ironed out during the first two songs, roared to life with a set that was electrifying. I was particularly impressed with a new song on which Rachel Stolte really soared with her voice in a manner that was truly surprising. Now a band of four, the balance seemed right, with the addition of bass and drums contibuting to the wholeness of the sound. It's been such a long time since I've seen them as a band that it was most gratifying. The audience was pretty blown away too, some of whom were seeing them for the first time, and again, it was all swathed in a fabulous atmosphere of fog and lights, perfectly suited to the arctic atmosphere this band is so good at. Even familiar songs like "Houses" sounded sharp and new with their fresh arrangements.

Shadow Shadow Shade emerged from a fog-laden stage with a smashing a cappella intro which suddenly exploded into their massive sound. This amazing live band gives equal weight to each instrument and every voice, making them the most democratic band around. It's also fitting, since each member is an accomplished musician and singer who never hogs the spotlight but is able to blend together like a powerful engine.

I only stayed for part of their set, which sounded as good as I'ver ever heard them. As there are three more Thursdays to come, and with a general ambience that was one of such comfort and familiarity, with Travis of Web In Front DJing from the rear of the room, it would be futile to resist going back for more Shadow Shadow Shade.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back To Life

I've regained my concert-lust and have been back out at shows for the last week. It's so easy to become a full-blown addict in just a matter of days. The final night of The Monolators (at right) residency for Radio Free Silver Lake's Free Tuesdays at LaBrie's got me started on January 25, and with opening bands, The World Record and Walking Sleep, giving a couple of powerhouse performances, The Monolators capped off the night by turning the packed house into a frenzied mass of party revellers.

The following night I had to honor my ticket to see Iron and Wine at The Wiltern, but as he's one of my favorite live performers, this was no problem. Great show, reviewed over at Radio Free Silver Lake, today.

Lord Growing's "704" show on Saturday, January 29 was a real fun time and so packed with good people, the atmosphere resembled a big party. Cody The Band confirmed what I had suspected from their set for RFSL at the Tuesday event on December 21st. They are one of the tightest, thoroughly professional yet musically fun bands around these days. Beautiful performance. George Glass played nothing but new songs, but for one, and blazed away in their trademark thrash/beautiful style. This band just grows on me more with each performance and each time I play their album. Vanaprasta blew the walls out of Pehrspace, but in a good way. I've not seen this band nearly enough, but plan to rectify that situation. It was great to hear their dense, raucous songs in so intimate a setting. Manhattan Murder Mystery were, well...Manhattan Murder Mystery. Supposedly Elaine Layabout's final performance with the band (former MMM players have a way of resurfacing I'll take a wait and see attitude). They capped the night off wonderfully, rocking the hell out of the place. Congratulations Greg.

On Monday, I was determined I would not miss The Belle Brigade's final night of residency, along with The Fling at The Satellite. Knowing how popular they have rapidly become, I made sure to get there early, and there was already a line. I needed to make it an early night, so I was happy Writer went on at 9:30 and The Belle Brigade (photo by Aaron Redfield) at 10:30. The Belle Brigade were every bit as phenomenal as I remembered from my first exposure on December 16th at The Echo. My god, they have talent oozing from their pores. Ethan and Barbara were kind enough to remember me and I thanked them for their amazing show and congratulated them on their good fortune.

I had to go out the next night for the first The Western States Motel residency Tuesday at Radio Free Silver Lake's Free Tuesdays at LaBrie's. Buried At Sea opened the night with a solid set, well sung and played, which culminated in a fascinating cover of a Joanna Newsome song. The Western States Motel played a nice long set, growing ever more confident and tight during the set. Wonderful new songs, too. WALK finished the night with some terrific diffused and atmospheric music, very beautifully played. Another fantastic show. Next Tuesday, February 8, The Western States Motel play LaBrie's with Pacific Hurt and The Mid Cities.