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