Monday, December 17, 2012

Feed Your Head again at Lot 1

I'm looking forward to my second December installment of Feed Your Head night at Lot 1 on Tuesday the 18th. I was asked by Azalia Snail and Dan West to host this event starring their new collaboration, LoveyDove (above). Even though I only knew their work as separate artists, I have such high regard for their work as individuals, that I knew this would be something special. And it is. Already garnering positive press, Lovey Dove make music that reminds me of late sixties New York Folk/Art rock with a healthy dose of psychedelic electronica. The demo songs they gave me present melodies with a delightfully unpredictable angularity, highlighted by strong voices and intriguing harmonies. I can't wait to hear them.

One of my favorite discoveries of late is The Sixth Son and they open the show with a set at 9. They were featured at my November show and helped to make that a memorable night. I would describe the music as original and unique. Troubadour, Runson Willis will entertain with his guitar after LoveyDove and poet Brendan Constantine will perform his action poetry between sets. This could prove to be a most interesting show.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Seven Saturdays, Western Lows, Auditorium at The Satellite (12/5/12)

I have seen the future, and it is Seven Saturdays. Seeing them at The Satellite last Wednesday night (Dec. 5), at the BuzzbandsLA show, was like witnessing the birth of a whole new band, complete with womb-like lighting by Rebecca Balin that bathed the whole affair in a bluish, embryonic haze that complimented the music perfectly. Like spending time in a birth canal.

First imagined as musical odysseys from the fevered imagination of Jonathan Haskell, they have had a steady, loyal fan base and when I first saw them two years ago at the Bootleg they impressed me as one of the better ambient, space-age orchestra/band ensembles I'd ever seen. As I was already a big fan of the bands that create sweeping cinematic landscapes like Explosions in the Sky and The Album Leaf, I was a soft target.

But back to this show. I made sure to get there in time to see Auditorium (above), who were the first band of the night. Since I first saw them last March at the Bootleg (at the instigation of Kathryn Pinto who was already a fan), they have become a favorite of mine too. Absolutely flawless and precise vocal harmonies brought to life some fascinating songwriting that covered subjects from the weird to the inspirational, made vivid by sharp, expert pop melodies. Every element is in place and there is no excess fat.

At this performance, Auditorium delivered a robust set that was sonically dynamic, but sacrificed a bit of their vocal precision. The sound mix was marred by a persistent alien screech that cropped up occasionally and Spencer Berger's voice was miked a little toward the overpowering side which diminished the other voices. Don't get me wrong, I go to hear Spencer sing, but one of the beauties of this band is hearing the intricate layering of the harmonies. Maybe I was just standing in the wrong place, but it did emphasize just how important the proper sound balance is to a vocal band, particularly this one.

Even with that it was still an impressive set that was certainly enjoyed by the crowd, many of whom had never seen Auditorium before. Tearing through favorites like "Sex Offender", "Girls Will Like Your Lips", "Rabbit Rabbit" even the beautiful "New York Sky", along with a brand new song, the set was brisk with barely time to breathe between songs. And again, I'm impressed at the ingratiating stage presence of each member of the band. Their shared joy comes through, loud and clear and I'm excited they're working on a new recording.

Jack Burnside, formerly of Mezzanine Owls, has a recent project called Western Lows (at  right)      which brings together Julien Bellin from Polls on drums and Michael Orendy of Frankel on bass and vocals. As the next band, they produced a "shimmering" (Bronson's word), "jangly" (my word) shoe gaze that grew more and more hypnotic and involving as it went along. I fell into their trance.

Sober, droning vocals rested atop a virtual ocean of varied guitar music/noise. I don't know if I've ever seen Michael play bass, but he added a steady gravity to the music and contributed vocal harmonies when needed. I would like to see them again and hear where they're going with this.

I was engaged in conversation at the other end of The Satellite when the club slowly began to fill up with blue fog, emanating from the stage. As a big fan of fog effects (the more fog, the better) it was an auspicious beginning for what was about to begin. The familiar drone that I remembered from the last time I saw them, introduced this new, different Seven Saturdays.

Emerging from the fog, Vanessa Fernandez (above) stepped into the hazy light and her voice sinuously threaded it's way into the musical miasma going on around her. A striking presence, she seems to be swimming in the air as she adds a solid foundation and point of reference for the audience, who otherwise might be overcome by all the gorgeous swirling sound.

As all the material was new, I was happy that the addition of lead vocals provided an accessible point of entry into this other-world, haunting and strange as it is. After a few songs Vanessa relinquished vocal duties to Jim Evens (above) of Helen Stellar, who has a similar command of the stage and is equally expressive with his powerful voice. Both singers know when to hold back and when to let loose.

I was absolutely transfixed, much like the first time I ever saw Helen Stellar or The Stevenson Ranch Davidians or any of the other hypnotic/psychedelic bands I have come to love. Aided by a hallucinatory light show (by Ms. Balin) and a perfect sound mix (and just the right amount of fog) I felt wrapped up in a cocoon from which I was reluctant to leave.

It all added up to an enchanted evening that left me reeling for days. Jonathan Haskell has taken his band to the next step. And I, for one, intend to follow.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Terrific Night at Feed Your Head Night at Lot 1

A big shout of thanks to all the bands and fans who came out on a rainy Saturday night (Dec. 1) to enjoy the variety of this five-band program. Lot 1 started to fill up early with devotees of Downtown/Union who were eager to hear more of the high-powered rock this outfit specializes in. Bo Bory (at right) has solidified his lineup to include Andy Bartlett, David Yates (at right) and Jeff Electric, and together they have become a seamless unit. Even before they began their set proper, there was a free-form prelude which included some extraordinary guitar work by Mr. Electric. The band then pounded through some familiar hits in a slightly abbreviated set to allow room for the four other acts. They really threw themselves into the music with a passion and energy that primed the audience for what was to come.

Alpha Beta (at right)were next, and this is a project of Asa Ferry of Kind Hearts and Coronets and Brett Anderson of The Donnas.They're brand new and what we got to witness was an act in formation and it was kind of thrilling. Odd and distinctive vocal harmonies seem to be an aim of the music and with these two fine voices one sees what they wish to achieve. Straightforward folk songwriting is played on a single guitar by Asa while Brett adds occasional tambourine accents. I thinks they should be watched.

With a set full of new music, The Hectors (above)) sounded great, with the banshee wails of Corinne Dinner front and center in a way not heard before. Close to releasing a new album, they are getting the songs ready for live presentation and hope to get the record out early next year. A twinkly, jangling guitar shimmer has crept into their music and it adds a lightness to the propulsive rock that has always been a hallmark. I loved it when Corinne bowed her guitar (at right). Nice touch.

Summerwintersummerfall was the pseudonym used for Seasons (the secret got out) that night and this was the second Lot 1 show of mine that they have headlined and honored I am. Eight musicians filled the performance space and filled the room with their sparkling tunes. With the line up changes of the last year or so firmly in place, their sound has become complete. Not that it wasn't before, but it seems to be more sure of itself while the individual contribution of each and every member can be heard and appreciated. As always, the songwriting is fresh and original and has yet to sound repetitive, even though I've been listening to them for five years now.

Moving into the wee hours of the morning, we pushed the boundaries a bit, (Thank you Lot 1 for your understanding) with the set by Alright Alright (at left) and below) that was so good, it lifted me to new heights...and at that hour (1 AM). Michael Sweeney's band is an amazing combination of talented musicians and the music, so affecting that you don't want them to stop...ever. Charismatic and a bit theatrical, it was a star-making performance. And with good reason. They're playing around town a lot lately, including a night at The Echo last week and a set at Silver Lake Lounge tomorrow (Thursday, Dec 5) at 10 PM.

And you can really tell they love what they're doing, they throw themselves into it with such enthusiasm. Alright Alright is a combination of cabaret-folk-indie-circus music that reminded me of bands like DeVotchKa or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, not so much in musical style, but in the enveloping environment they create. Don't miss this band if you want to see a band that deserves much more attention.

Thanks again everyone for packing the place, it was a great night.

whrabbit (photos too)