Wednesday, October 31, 2012
This Saturday night, November 3rd, I'm presenting another edition of this blog's monthly show at Lot 1 and I'm happy to present some very new acts that deserve more exposure. Hailing from Los Angeles, Emerson Star (below) are a band made of two brothers and a friend who grew up together and now produce an unabashed, sweet, unpretentious 60's sounding folk music wherein all three take turns handling lead vocals but the majority are by Shannon Inouye with Taylor Inouye and Sean Thomas backing up. On the strength of the two songs on their 45 release, I asked them to headline this show and then went to see them last Thursday at Silver Lake Lounge and saw that I had made a good call.
There was a good crowd of fans and friends there who really enjoyed their set and I was impressed with their playing as well as the vocals. The music isn't just pretty, but can really rock when called for, highlighted by some fine guitar playing. Straightforward, uncomplicated lyrics sing of romance, loneliness, irony and general life concerns. You gotta be curious about a band that can rhyme "Romeo and Juliet" with "A couple of idiots". Emerson Star go on at 11.
And the songs were unpredictable and hypnotic, with deep penetrating lyrics. His friend, Brian Tran, on saxophone provided an astonishing range of varied sounds, including sounding just like a string section at one point. How did he do that? When the set was over, far too soon, I was left, mouth agape. I made sure to make the aquaintance of this remarkable musician right away and when a slot opened up on this bill, I jumped to ask him to. If you attend this show you'll be among The Sixth Son's early fans. Appearing at 10.
Come on over and enjoy an evening of burgers, beer and fine music at Lot 1. See you there.
Posted by Brad at 10:58 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
There are certain concerts that reverberate through your head for days. Accompanied by a buoyancy of spirit that such profound fulfilment can bring. It certainly puts a bounce in my step. Wondrous spectacle, fragile delicacy punctuated by crescendos of sweeping bombast and the hypnotically chaotic compositions that somehow all pull together under the creamy harmonies of their beautiful voices. That's a Grizzly Bear concert!
I felt serendipity was on my side when I started to climb the long hill up from Los Feliz Boulevard to The Greek and the kindly Joe Napolitano and Jillinda Palmer took pity on the elderly gentleman trudging slowly up the sidewalk. They pulled over and gave me a ride the rest of the way. I knew the night would be good right then and there.
Christopher Bear, Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor have been Grizzly Bear for about six years now, as both performers and writers, and I've seen them grow from Spaceland to The Troubadour to The Walt Disney Concert Hall to The Wiltern to The Hollywood Palladium. In fact, the last time I saw them was three years ago at The Palladium and it was a big disappointment because the sound was awful, all arena thump and way too bass heavy. Removed all the nuance and basically ruined their music.
But I also knew The Greek would be a perfect place to restore their integrity and that they did. Obviously their new album Shields has had an impact already because as soon as the low thumps of "Speaking in Rounds" began, the audience rose to its feet and squealed in delight. We never sat down again. Next, they went backward to the first song on the album, the single "Sleeping Ute" and it's propulsive beat which breaks mid-way to reveal a delicate reverie at the center.
From then on it was a journey back to previous albums with new songs strategically placed for maximum impact. I was glad they sang so much from Veckatimest including album favorites like "Cheerleader", "Two Weeks" and the challenging "While You Wait For The Others", but they covered all but one song from Shields. With the aid of an additional keyboardist, Aaron Arntz, who made the band a five-piece, they were able to fill out their sound to a near-perfect recreation of the recordings.
This is one of those bands that, no matter how good they sound on record, they are even better in person. The singing is stronger, the orchestrations more grandiose, and the emotional impact more... impactful. There's little between-song nonsense as they get down to the serious business of creating a nearly elusive balance between psychedelic rock and art-rock, accompanied by a visual presentation that hypnotizes the audience.
Posted by Brad at 8:24 PM
Friday, October 12, 2012
Come on out and give Soular Brothers a nice send off on Saturday night, October 13th at my show at Lot 1. They have been a residency band for my monthly event for three months running, and I like this idea. We even saw them through a name change (from The WildBunch) and I have enjoyed the super sets they provided in August and September.
Tomorrow I make them the headliners and have surrounded them with some new bands and my friends, The Happy Casualties who, as the show's capper, will send you out into the night on a high note. To open I have the pleasure of presenting David Piorek of The Preacher's Son showcasing his new project The Trembling Tabernacle of Piorek. And with a name like that I expect something daunting, overwhelming and spiritually uplifting.
Next up is Simon Cardoza's voyage back to the performing stage in a band called, you guessed it...Cardoza. I saw them once at Casey's Bar and was pleasantly surprised at how tight and accomplished they seemed already. Simon's singing voice was a particular surprise. Headliners Soular Brothers hit the stage at 11, bringing their Long Beach sound with them.
There's beers and burgers and time spent with Eileen and Jason of Lot 1. Sean Guerin is doing sound and Rebecca Balin will handle the door. Do drop in and say 'hello'.
Posted by Brad at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Even though it was a Thursday night, that didn't stop the celebration for the release of the first record from The World Record (above) in six years from going on for hours. Radio Free Silver Lake hosted the giant show that featured four bands on the main stage and three other bands doing acoustic turns over in the corner between sets. And a huge crowd of well-wishers turned out on a week night to pick up copies of this hot new album. (I've listened to my copy and it's a superb record)
The sets were somewhat abbreviated to accommodate all the acts performing and the party atmosphere made one want to wander around and socialize. So I managed to miss The Damselles and the TC4 by hanging out on the patio and being taken to the green room. I was out front for the beginning of The World Record and, even though I've seen this band many times over the years. They sounded like a hot, new band, full of energy and enthusiasm.
It reminded me of the first time I saw them. It was at a Henry Clay People show (bash!) at Spaceland in April, 2009, and it was late, I was hanging out with Evan and Brett Marie Way and Brett said I had to stay to hear The World Record even though it was probably 12:30 in the morning. But I stayed and Brett Marie was right, they blew me away. Such harmonies! Such classic sounding pop songs! Very similar to The Parson Red Heads, but definitely their own band.
my photos, too.
Posted by Brad at 9:55 PM
Monday, October 1, 2012
On Saturday, September 29, I went to see The Album Leaf at The Satellite. This band has such an interesing history, beginning as a solo side project of musician Jimmy LaValle that has evolved into a highly respected musical project with fantastic fans that even get Album Leaf tattoos to show their devotion. Sometimes they play as a band in venues like El Rey, or in a nearly solo configuration like I saw at The Echo in 2008. Well this was a really special show that was being filmed for an online TV show called Audio-Files that has shows of bands like Ramona Falls, Damien Jurado and Low.
But as I walked into The Fonda that night, The Black Heart Procession were performing "Guess I'll Forget You" in an auditorium swimming in fog and blue and purple day-glo light. I think I was hypnotized within 15 seconds. Jimmy LaVale was a member of the band that night and in a couple of subsequent shows I attended, but then he was gone. Off to devote all his energy to something called The Album Leaf.
I only had to hear one song by this band to become completely enamored of this music. It was a blending of some of the things I like best...instrumental music, piano, softly understated vocals, intelligent orchestrations and haunting melodies. I think I was a fan for a long time before I finally got to see then live. There's no stage craft at all, just musicians sitting on a stage and playing serious music. I found it completely unpretentious and hypnotically moving.
I only recognized a couple of songs as they focused on most of the new songs from their great new EP Forward/Return, which they were selling that night. It's a mostly instrumental recording that plays much like a beautiful film score for a movie yet to be made. The incredibly committed playing by all members of the band made it seem like they all reallly believe in this record.
After five incredible concerts in one week, I expected at least one of the shows to fall short. It didn't happen.
photos by Brad Roberts
Posted by Brad at 11:00 PM