Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Shows For Two Days

Feed Your Head is hosting a couple of shows this weekend. On Friday, March 2, I team up with Radio Free Silver Lake to present the "local" CD release show for Continuity Girl by Modern Time Machines. I have an advance copy and I can highly recommend it. Combine the fuzzy, atmospheric punch of Silversun Pickups with the gently hushed vocals of Film School and the harmonies of a band like Gliss, then layer them one upon the other and you find Modern Time Machines. I'm enjoying it more each time I play it and it's becoming indispensable to my daily listening routine.

Continuity Girl won't be released nationally until May 17, so here's a chance to get a jump on the rest of the country, cause this album could take off and they'll have advance copies available at the show. This band can be very impressive live and I'm looking forward to hearing this new material. They have the support of their good friends, The Monolators as a supporting act, and it's been way too long since I've seen them perform.

The Pity Party have been part of my regular concert-going experience for about six years and they always elicit some of the strongest reactions from audiences. Those not attuned to what they sound like are often off put by the strange, exotic, wailing and trashing that goes on during one of their sets, but I assure you, when you dig a little deeper you get a sense of the dark, disturbing, surrealistic terrain they explore. There's a certain catharsis to their sets.

LA Font are becoming one of the most reliable bands locally and always deliver thoroughly enjoyable sets. I'm looking forward to this show, and if you see Marion Crane taking a shower on the stage of The Satellite...tell her to look behind the curtain.

My seventh Feed Your Head night at Lot 1 was a bit of a challenge owing to my masters degree in the fine art of procrastination. I was thrilled to line up Escalator Hill to headline this show on Saturday, March 3, as I had missed their recent set at Silver Lake Lounge. They'll be the anchor to a show which has ended up featuring Harley Prechtel-Cortez doing a solo set, plus maybe some numbers with his offshoot project, The Petting Zoo to open the evening's festivities.

I was so lucky to get Rob Danson to agree to an encore performance of the set Death To Anders played at Casey's Bar last weekend where they covered The Pixies' Surfer Rosa album front to back. The band is back (they played my first Feed Your Head night last September) and I hear faint rumblings that this is going to draw quite the crowd. They jumped on this show at the last minute and I couldn't be more grateful.

Escalator Hill are a band whose increasing buzz is well deserved for their catchy, indie/country music that has an expansive quality owing to the opulent orchestral flourishes they employ. The creamy smooth vocals of Antony Benedetti gives the band a warmth and a homey feel that distinguishes them from other alt country ensembles.

Finally, Dan West will serenade the crowd with his folky psychedelia. After he performed with Azalia Snail at my December show, I was given his solo CD which immediately became a staple of my music listening. He manages to combine the sophisticated writing of so much of the current music scene with a real credible recreation of the analog sound of '60's psychedelia. I was amazed when I heard the album because it sounded like a lost recording of someone forgotten from 1968 only to be rediscovered in the back of someone's garage. It's experimental, yet completely self assured at the same time, and has astonishing range. I have another new, favorite songwriter. Come hear him and all these others on Saturday night. Admission is $5. and showtime is at nine o'clock. See you there.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Breathe Owl Breath and Daniel Ahearn & The Jones at The Echo

Pure magic is the only way to describe what I saw at The Echo on Wednesday night, February 8. In six days I'd seen three of the most incredible shows of the year, so far. And I missed some great ones I couldn't fit in. My Lot 1 show last Saturday with Cody The Band, the Judson McKinney one on Monday, and now this. I'm feeling a little punch drunk, and was reeling all day Thursday as a result of such stimulation.

I've been touting Daniel Ahearn & The Jones for some time on Radio Free Silver Lake based on what people had told me and selections I'd sampled on line, but when I ran into Daniel at the Aaron Embry show at Hotel Cafe last week, I decided to make it a point to catch them live. When I saw that they were appearing with Breathe Owl Breathe (above) for the Laura Gibson show at The Echo, I thought I should go. Unfortunately I couldn't stay for Laura Gibson, but my cup of music was full to overflowing after the first two bands, and any more would have been overkill. Plus I had to work the next day.

I first saw Breathe Owl Breathe almost exactly two years ago at the Bootleg, and they took me on a musical journey that night that I have never forgotten. The living theatre aspect of their set would have been enough, it was so deftly and unpretentiously handled, but the music turned out to be every bit as enchanting. An odd fusion of folk music, chamber ensemble, jazz combo, songwriting that is part Tom Lehrer, part Leonard Cohen, with the deadpan of Silver Jews and a whole lot of things in between.

On Wednesday I arrived part way into the opening set by Daniel Ahearn & The Jones and was immediately struck by the powerful voices coming from the stage. It was folky but with a dynamic force that pulled me right in. Daniel Ahearn and Mindy Jones have voices that are perfectly suited to each other, and when Mindy cuts loose, it's something to behold.

They describe the songs as love songs to avoid being pigeon-holed as folkies, and with the intricate and subtle orchestrations, it's closer to chamber indie. But its folk roots are still apparent in the intelligence of the lyrics and honesty of their intent. A friend at the show described it as music by adults, about adults and for adults. That's an apt assessment, as I found myself concentrating to make sure I heard all the lyrics. By the end of their set, I was pretty startled.

No band should have the right to make an audience feel so happy and filled with childlike wonder as does Breathe Owl Breathe. Lead singer and musician Trevor Hobbs seems to enjoy every minute he's on stage, and rather than seeming extraneous or self-conscious, his performance art is so well executed and flows out of him so naturally, it is totally disarming and left me giggling like a baby. His wry and witty delivery compliments the sometimes surrealistic lyrics.

Andrea Moreno-Beals
is a singer who often introduces a jazz idiom as a counterpoint to the folksiness of Trevor's vocals. And when she picks up (or puts on) her cello, she makes the songs soar or flow with the aquatic texture of Maurice Ravel. In one song she carried on and sounded like a vocal version of a Miles Davis trumpet freak-out. Another song had her whipping her head side to side as she yelped like a dog as she passed the microphone. This must sound strange. Well, strange it is.

Superbly varied drumming and vocal assist came from Micah Middaugh, who, along with writing all the lyrics, is also a graphic artist and writer of a book they have self-published. The Listeners/These Train Tracks contains two children's stories that read from the outside covers, meeting in the middle where one finds a record containing two Breathe Owl Breathe songs. This gorgeous volume is illustrated with copper block prints (also by Micah) and was available for viewing or purchase at the show.

Time stood still for the entire duration of their set as I was transported to magical land of unlimited creative capabilities. There's something so refreshing in their relaxed and easy manner that is, perhaps, attributable to their lives in rural Michigan. They seem slightly mad and completely well adjusted at the same time. My kind of people. I had a nice chat with Trevor afterward, (thank you Samantha Saturday of The Owl Magazine for the photo above) who kindly remembered me from two years ago, and who said they expect to come back to L.A. in May.

In the meantime I have the memories of this concert which will keep me warm until then. The joy they impart on an audience is infectious and highly intoxicating. Breathe Owl Breathe don't just win our admiration, they win our hearts as well.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Judson McKinney Residency Opening at Silver Lake Lounge

It was just going to be another Monday night residency as Radio Free Silver Lake presented the first night of Judson McKinney's run at Silver Lake Lounge on February 6. Now, this is nothing new for Judson, as it must be his fourth residency in the last six months, but it turned out to be such a wonderful night of music that I just have to write about it. (Judson is shown at right)

Kind Hearts and Coronets were playing when I got there and they looked a little different than when they played The Echo in January, when illness had cut the band in half and emergency replacements were called in. Still, as I learned later, they are not the same band that I saw five years ago, having replaced much of the original line up. Kind Hearts and Coronets (2012) play a powerhouse brand of orchestral indie rock. What is it? Industrial indie? Even with their multi-instrument make up it still has the urgency and strength of garage punk. Interesting combination.

Judson McKinney presented a band of four for this show, and still delivered the full, rich sound we have come to expect from him. Audiences always become entranced whenever he performs, but on this night it seemed especially true. As they finished their set, the crowd begged for more and Judson complied with a beautiful solo rendition of "The Sound That You Hear". I know the song well, but this time I was especially moved by the lyrics and asked him to send them to me. It says to me: in this hurried and media-saturated world, be wary of those who offer salvation. Wise words.

Last up was Andrew Lynch, who I haven't seen performing in a while, so I was doubly impressed. He played solo, accompanying himself on keys and delivering song that have a similarity to the territory mined by Judson, only a bit less mystical. Although it was late, many stayed put to hear this set, which is a testament to the quality of the music. I think it was the best I've seen from someone I've followed for a long time; ever since his days playing with Earlimart and his own band, Poor Excuses. Especially impressive is when he accompanies himself on the trumpet while playing keys at the same time. Think what he could do with four hands.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Help Torches Finish Their Album

One of my favorite bands, Torches, is in dire need of funds to complete their latest recording. And I have no doubt this will be one of the best releases of the year, so c' part of it. HERE.

or here...

Judging from the extraordinary performances I've seen from this band over the past year, this record should be very special. Azad Cheikosman seems to have a limitless well from which to pull songs, so let's support someone who is so fertile. Bridgette Moody and Eric Fabbro match him step by step in the talent department, becoming a powerhouse trio. More than any other band, whenever I see them play, I feel a direct connection to the music I loved in the sixties, yet their fresh and adventurous take on it, propels it into the future. I'll be a fan for life.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cody The Band Is A Smash At Lot 1

For this month's Feed Your Head night at Lot 1, I asked Cody The Band to headline and together we assembled a bill that was surprisingly comprehensive and coherent. Cody Hudock brought in Andy Siara and Claire Mckeown as Socialistics, and I asked The Health Club and Fort King to bracket the evening. Since it was February 4th and summer is beginning in Southern California, the evenings are getting more balmy and people seem more willing to venture out of their caves. So the turn out was exceptional.

Fort King started the show off, and with only the accompaniment of Jeffrey L. Hogan on Double Bass, Ryan Fuller (aka: Fort King, both seen at right) weaved his forlorn ballads into a set that was as touching as it was lovely. He performed songs from his CD, Naked Shadows, along with some newer numbers I had never heard before that were pretty stunning. In the years I've been following his music, I've often compared it to European cafe music or French film scores in it's spare orchestrations and in the sweet melancholy of it's tone. I was especially heartened to hear he has been approached to place one of his songs in a cinematic project. Hogan's double bass added tremendous depth, both literally and emotionally, to the accomplished guitar of Mr. Fuller. With his steady vocals and sharp, sometimes troubling, lyrics, the two musicians filled Lot 1 with with gorgeous sounds.

Socialistics is the name of a side project of Andy (The Henry Clay People) Siara, who composes and performs song of his own which are short, concise and sharp in their irony and edge of sarcasm. His expressive use of talk/singing makes the set feel like a conversation but with Claire (Shadow Shadow Shade) Mckeown adding her soaring voice, the musicality of the project is clear. That woman can sing, and make it seem as effortless as breathing. They may seem like an odd stylistic mix, but they pull it off handily, putting the lie to your preconceptions of what constitutes indie music.

Then came Cody The Band. Now, I've seen them a few times and always been impressed, but this set was inspired. The shot above is at Pehrspace. Armed with a group of excellent songs, they lifted the whole room into a state of rapt attention as one song after another left you wanting more. Streaked with humor, the lyrics are accessible and universal in their appeal. This band really has their act together. Cody and Joanna Hudock share vocal duties as she takes a more central role in many of the songs, but Cody is still center stage (or on the floor in front, as was the case here) and his wonderful keyboard work is the heart and soul of their rollicking sound, along with his clear and solid singing. They also gave away an EP with many of the numbers we heard which just validates how solid these songs are to me.

The Health Club polished off the night with all the expert aplomb I had enjoyed so much at The Echo at one of Seasons shows. A perfect capper to a night of ever escalating excitement as each band topped the previous one, ratcheting up the energy level, The Health Club can really rock. This was serious. Even on the small confines of the Lot 1 Stage Gerard Fortich finds the room to dance around while singing and playing guitar, Katya Arce, off by herself, lost in the extraordinary thump of her bass, and their singing drummer, Gabriel Montez, rocked the place out hard.

I had a great time and thank ever one who came out. I want to especially thank Eileen Leslie and the gang at Lot 1 for making these shows so easy to do, and providing me with the great learning experience. The shows would never be the success they are without Sean Guerin who handles sound duties so professionally and Rebecca Balin who charms people in from the street.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Have Another Show

This Saturday, February 4th, I'm hosting my sixth monthly Feed Your Head show at Lot 1, making it my second show of the week for this blog. When I first started writing in May '08, I dreamed that one day I might be able to present shows under the banner of this name, which I couldn't believe was even available. Now the dream has come true and I've been legitimized in print.

After the final Monday residency night for Seasons at The Echo which I presented and got a mention in this week's LA Weekly (for the first time, shown at right), I have been spurred on to try to present more shows. In this particularly fertile time in local music, I think there is a need for more presenters to get more of the bands more of the attention they deserve. So along with the shows I'll be hosting for Radio Free Silver Lake (there's three or four of those this month alone) I'll continue to do the first Saturday of each month at Lot 1.

I was lucky to get Cody The Band to headline this weekend, since Cody Hudock is also a member of his brother Jordan's band Marvelous Toy, and they have their own full schedule. There's a similarity between the two bands, but also a marked difference in the type of songs each brother writes. I hear a bit of Danny Elfman's 'circus-music' style in some of the songs by Cody The Band and his vocal work with his wife Joanna bring real balance to the work.

I saw Andy Siara's latest project, presently called Socialistics, at the Marvelous Toy album release show at Bootleg Bar a few weeks ago. Only knowing his work from The Henry Clay People made this a bit of a revelation, hearing him sing, accompanied by the steady, cool counterpoint of Claire Mckeown's voice. The lyrics are still smart and sharp, perhaps a bit more introspective as he becomes a guitar playing folk singer. I really look forward to hearing this again.

The Health Club were a sensation at the Seasons residency a couple of Mondays ago and I couldn't wait to get them to sign on for this show, so I cornered them that night. Their playing is so self assured and and Gerard Fortich has great gifts as a front man. This band seems to be finally getting the attention it deserves.

Ryan Fuller has been a friend ever since I saw Fort King for the first time, I think it was Echo Curio in 2009. I've been a fan of his vaguely nostalgic and sometimes moving European flavored compositions after picking up his CD and being mesmerized by it. I once said his music reminds me of a 1970's French film score, and that still holds. Come on out early to hear this talented songwriter/performer who goes on around 8:30 (ish).