Monday, October 31, 2005

Live Music Pick: 400 Blows/Qui

I'm planning to stay at home tonight and hand out Halloween candy. But if you're dying to get out of the house and you're not going to the parade in West Hollywood here's my pick:

400 Blows and Qui @ King King [$10] - 400 Blows (named after one of my favorite Truffaut films) is a hardcore three-piece band from LA. Definitely in your face, sonic assault-type stuff. I mostly listen to softer music these days, but every once in a while it's still nice to hear music that punches you in the face. They're heading to Europe soon to play the Mars Volta curated All Tomorrow's Parties. Tonight and November 18th at the Scene in Glendale will be your last chance to see them for a while. Qui is loud too. They don't seem to have a real website.

Here are some 400 Blows downloads:
The Root of Our Nature
The Ugly are So Beautiful

Top 10 Albums Ever?

A while back I tried to come up with my top 50 albums of all time. One rule was that I couldn't pick more than one album by any band. Here are my top 10 albums from that list. I'll add comments later.

1) The Kinks THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY - Ray Davies is my favorite lyricist and this is my favorite Kinks' album. Almost every song is outstanding. My favorite track is "Big Sky." Davies perfectly conveys the sense that he's out of step with contemporary times (something many of us can relate to). Other essential Kinks' albums are: ARTHUR, SOMETHING ELSE, FACE TO FACE and MUSWELL HILLBILLIES.

2) The Beach Boys PET SOUNDS - Brian Wilson's masterpiece. My favorite track is "God Only Knows" - but I've heard it seven million times. According to my girlfriend it's a cursed wedding song (so be careful). Other essential Beach Boys' albums (get the two-fers on CD) are: SUNFLOWER/SURF'S UP, SMILEY SMILE/WILD HONEY, TODAY!/SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!), FRIENDS/20/20.

3) The Beatles REVOLVER - I love the mid-period Beatles stuff the most. On this album you get George experimenting with Indian music, Lennon getting a little weirder, Ringo being goofy and super solid Paul. Impossible to pick a favorite track (anything but "Yellow Submarine"). Ranking my other favorite Beatles' albums would look something like this: RUBBER SOUL, ABBEY ROAD, HELP!, WHITE ALBUM, SGT. PEPPERS, etc....

4) Neil Young AFTER THE GOLD RUSH - I love Neil's singer/songwriter albums more than his rockin' Crazy Horse stuff. There's so many good love songs on this one - "Birds" is one of the best breakup songs ever. Other key Neil Young albums are: COMES A TIME, ZUMA, HARVEST, TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT, ON THE BEACH, etc....

5) The Rolling Stones BEGGARS BANQUET - Back to their Blues roots. The key song for me is still, "Sympathy for the Devil." Other key Stones' albums: EXILE ON MAIN STREET, STICKY FINGERS, LET IT BLEED, BETWEEN THE BUTTONS, SOME GIRLS, etc.....

6) Love FOREVER CHANGES - This blog is named after the last song on this record. Each time I listen to it new things stand out. It's is a middle finger to San Francisco's tie-dyed hippies and the summer of love. "Alone Again Or" is my favorite track. Wes Anderson used it quite well in BOTTLE ROCKET. Also get your hands on the albums: DA CAPO and LOVE.

7) Big Star #1 RECORD/RADIO CITY - This is actually two albums, but since i've only owned the CD two-fer I've always thought of them together. #1 RECORD is the first 12 tracks and features songwriter Chris Bell. The last 12 tracks are RADIO CITY and don't feature Bell as a songwriter. This is the first album on this list with a few lesser tracks, but the standouts are so stellar that it still made it. Great power pop and nice acoustic ballads. The best track might be "Thirteen" or it might be "Septembur Girls."

8) The Zombies ODESSEY & ORACLE - This album always puts a smile on my face. I like all the tracks but usually skip over the most famous, "Time of the Season" (feels dated and there's just too much baggage with it). "This Will Be Our Year" is a standout. Also pick up one of their singles compilations like SINGLES A'S AND B'S.

9) The Byrds SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO - This album is kind of a cheat because it gave me the chance to put both the Byrds and Gram Parsons on the list. More covers than any of the other albums on this list. My favorite track is "Hickory Wind." Other great Byrds' albums are: YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY, THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS and the Gene Clark tracks on the first two albums. Other Gram Parsons-related records to pick up are the Flying Burrito Brothers two-fer GILDED PALACE OF SIN/BURRITO DELUXE and the Gram Parsons two-fer G.P./Grievous Angel.

10) Nick Drake PINK MOON - Beautiful singer-songwriter album. Solid all the way through, but if I had to choose I'd say "Which Will" is my favorite track. I'd buy this album first then FIVE LEAVES LEFT then BRYTER LAYTER and if you want even more TIME OF NO REPLY.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Weekend Live Music Picks

It's only Thursday, but here are my picks for Halloween weekend. That's Rosemary's Billygoat on the left.


Jens Lekman / Nedelle / Richard Swift @ Spaceland [$8] - This is a great chance to see three interesting singer-songwriters on a cheap bill at a small club.

Jens Lekman is a Sweedish pop star with a voice similar to Jonathan Richman but with much fuller arrangements (at least on record). Secretly Canadian is putting out a compilation of a bunch of his stuff on 11/22/05.
Download You Are the Light
Download Maple Leaves

Nedelle is a singer-songwriter from Oakland. She's on the Kill Rock Stars label.
Download Begin to Breathe
Download The Natural Night

Richard Swift is a singer-songwriter also on Secretly Canadian.
Download Lady Day
Download As I Go

Dengue Fever @ the Echo [$8] - If you missed them at Sea Level (see previous post) check them out on Friday.


The 88 @ Sea Level Records @ 3:00 PM [Free] - Catch them for free (and buy the new Rogue Wave and Earlies albums while you're there). Check out my album review for more information.
MC Chris @ Knitting Factory [$12] - If you're an Adult Swim nerd then this is for you. His website has a ton of free downloads.

Lucero @ Troubadour [$12] - If you're an alt-country nerd then this is the show for you.


Rosemary's Billygoat @ Spaceland [Free] - Not my kind of music, but it looks like a great theatrical (GWAR-style) pre-Halloween event. Cool costumes, silly lyrics and no cover charge.

Mt. Egypt & Goldspot @ Tangier [$10] - I've pitched Mt. Egypt every week and I still haven't seen him. Goldspot has a lyric about being Paxil addicted. Bound to be a lot more mellow than the Spaceland show.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Album Review: These Were the Earlies by The Earlies

Today's the day that These Were the Earlies by the Earlies finally gets a domestic release (courtesy of Secretly Canadian). I heard so much about this record that I picked it up months ago as an import. Initially I listened to it a lot. I'm a sucker for indie-psych music like the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev (fans of those bands and even Manitoba might like this record). Musically it's very interesting, but the lyrics are a bit trite. For my money the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin is the pinnacle in the genre (Yoshimi is also very good, but a little too similar). Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs is well worth owning, All Is Dream has a few good moments and The Secret Migration was very disappointing. These Were the Earlies falls somewhere below Deserter's Songs. It's a great headphones record and/or something to turn up loud and zone out to.

Download "Morning Wonder"

Download "The Devil's Country"

See them live at the Echo on 12/2/05 ($10) [buy tickets or save service charges and get them at Sea Level]

Monday, October 24, 2005

Album Review: Rogue Wave's Descended Like Vultures

I've been digesting an advance of the new Rogue Wave album, Descended Like Vultures for a few weeks now. Let me begin by saying that I'm a much bigger Rogue Wave fan than anybody I know. I really enjoyed their first album, Out of the Shadow (my favorite song was "Every Moment"). The lead singer's voice is a little precious at times, but I'm a sucker for that. The new album is the same kind of indie-pop.

It's a very solid album all the way through (two outstanding tracks, seven very good tracks and two good tracks). Highlights are tracks: "10:1," "Love's Lost Guarantee," "Publish My Love," "Bird On a Wire," and "Catform." The last two tracks get a little too slow and weighed down, which tends to make me forget how much I like the beginning of the record. If you're a fan of Lou Barlow/Sebadoh, Built to Spill, the Shins, etc. I recommend buying this.

Download 10:1 [this is a great song, but not the most representative song - it's more upbeat than the rest of the record]

Download Publish My Love [very representative track]

Unfortunately they don't have any local dates scheduled. What's up with having a Visalia date planned, but not a Los Angeles date?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Weekend Live Music Picks

Sons and Daughters & The Blood Arm @ Spaceland ($10) - I'm not digging Sons and Daughters, but critics seem to. The Blood Arm is a local band with a really slow website. Download this demo. It's not a stretch to say that it sounds a little like the Strokes.

Bedroom Walls @ El Cid ($7) - Local band that plays "romanticore."

Willy Mason @ Tangier ($8) - This singer-songwriter is touring with Bright Eyes. KCRW loves him. The only song I've heard caught my attention (but not in a good way).

Jon Brion @ Largo ($10) - So what do you think of the post-JB Fiona mixes?

Okkervil River & Band of Horses & Mt. Egypt @ the Echo ($10) - Good show, but who the hell wants to go to a show at 7pm on a Saturday night? Download my favorite Okkervil song, "For Real." Band of Horses and Mt. Egypt sound pretty good too.

The Tyde @ Spaceland ($8) - Free and discounted tix from Spaceland if you answer a question on Myspace (the answer is: Mickey Madden of Maroon 5 and Conor Deasy from The Thrills). I can't believe how excited they are that the bass player from Maroon 5 is on their album.

Daniel Lanois / Tortoise @ the Avalon ($23.50) - I was a huge Tortoise fan in college but I got bored with them years ago. I'm not really a fan of anything Lanois has touched (I did like The Joshua Tree in 9th grade). They're doing the co-headliner/collaborator thing like Iron & Wine/Calexico. You can win tickets from Sea Level Records.

Love as Laughter & Appleseed Cast & Sam Champion & Minus Story @ the Echo ($10) - Be there at 6pm because another show starts at 10pm. Solid night of indie rock. Love as Laughter is a good indie band on Sup Pop. The Appleseed Cast is an emo-y band from Lawrence, KS. Minus Story is a psych-indie band on Jagjaguwar records and also from Lawrence, KS (go Jayhawks). Sam Champion sounds a lot like Malkmus.

Heavy Trash @ the Knitting Factory ($12) - A rockabilly band featuring Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray (of Speedball Baby). Jon Spencer's a great performer, but I don't know about this one.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Live Music Options

There's so much going on tonight I can't decide what to do. Why do these bookers do this? I think I'm just going to stay in and watch BATMAN BEGINS.

Gang of Four @ the Avalon ($25) [They played a great set at Coachella this year & a pretty good one on KCRW this week]

The Go Team! & Smoosh @ the El Rey ($19) [The Go Team!'s record is a little boring, but I bet they're fun live. Smoosh is adorable; just look at that photo.]

Constantines & The Hold Steady @ the Knitting Factory ($15) [I'm actually not a big fan of either of these bands; can they justify the steep ticket price?]

Calla & Celebration @ the Echo ($10) [I saw Calla years ago and what I've read about Celebration makes me want to hear them, this show's probably the bargain of the bunch]

Album Review: The 88 OVER AND OVEr

It upsets me that I missed the 88 opening for the Flaming Lips on Monday at the Knitting Factory, but I'll still review their latest album. The 88 is a local band that has an incredibly admirable work ethic. I remember a period of about a year where you couldn't leave a big show in Los Angeles without having one of the members thrust a CD single into your hands. Eventually curiousity got the best of you and you put it on. What you heard was a very sunshiney, pop band. A couple of years have passed and they're still working their asses off (featured on the OC, playing on Morning Becomes Eclectic, prominent displays on Myspace, etc.) and writing catchy songs.

There's nothing groundbreaking or trendy about the 88 (critics frequently compare them to the Beatles, Kinks, Beach Boys, Jellyfish and Squeeze) but Over and Over is fun to listen to. My favorite tracks are: "All 'Cause of You," "Nobody Cares," and "Coming Home." Eight of the other tracks are good (the only track I usually skip over is "Jesus Is Good"). My only advice to the band is lose the suits. To paraphrase my friend Jerry, the reason you get into a band is so you don't have to wear a suit and tie. At least if you're going to wear suits on stage wear something cool, not regular business suits.

Download their first album here

See them for free @ Sea Level Records on Saturday 10/29/05

See them for $12 @ The Troubadour on Friday 12/02/05

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Live Review: Iron & Wine/Calexico

I'm very happy I ended up going to the Iron & Wine/Calexico show at the Wiltern last night. I was surprised at how crowded it was (maybe 1800 people there?). I didn't think either one of these bands was very commercial. Calexico took the stage first (at about 8:30pm?). As usual, the sound at the Wiltern wasn't as good as you'd expect. I've always found Calexico's music interesting, but criticized their lack of soul (the lyrics just don't seem very interesting and the singer has milquetoasty voice). Luckily Calexico was more compelling live than they are recorded. The six musicians on stage showed their skill by frequently changing instruments (I particularly like the pedal steel player). They did a passable version of Love's "Alone Again Or" (although I prefer The Damned and UFO's versions). The biggest reaction from the crowd came when they introduced Mike Watt to play bass on a song.

After a brief intermission, Sam Beam came on stage alone with an acoustic guitar. He performed a couple of songs that showcased his poetic lyrics, delicate voice and strong guitar skills. He was so compelling that the crowd was completely silent. Band members slowly joined him. First a female singer on one song, then they added a drummer and then members of Calexico trickled out. I like Beam's voice so much that I actually prefer hearing it unadorned, but it was a nice change of pace to see him with a large band. At one point he brought out Victoria Williams (I find her voice grating) for a duet of "Always on My Mind" (a song that's been done by Elvis, Willie, Englebert and the Pet Shop Boys). This elicited gagging noises from my girlfriend and another friend, but Beam's heartfelt rendition reminded me of Willie's version.

The combined bands did a nice job on the songs from IN THE REINS (with the exception of drawing out the last song). The first song of the encore ("Wild Horses") had my girlfriend once again seeking shelter in the lobby, but it could have been a lot worse (Mike Watt and Victoria Williams re-emerged).

My girlfriend loved Calexico, but couldn't stand watching Iron & Wine ("boring" and "suicide-inducing" was her assessment). Contrarily, the highlight for me was the Iron & Wine songs but I did enjoy seeing Calexico. Even if you have to pay high ticket prices (my tickets were free), I recommend seeing this tour. Who knows if Iron and Wine and Calexico will ever tour together again?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Iron and Wine/Calexico

I've had IN THE REINS, the Iron & Wine/Calexico collaboration for a few months now but haven't really given it a proper listen. I'm a big Iron & Wine fan but I've always found Calexico's music a little boring. In the days leading up to their live show (tonight at the Wiltern) I've given the EP another chance. Here's what I think:

He Lays in the Reins - I could really do without that Spanish opera interlude
Prison on Route 41 - nice pedal steel, but the song doesn't really grab me
A History of Lovers - this is my favorite song on the EP, combines the best of both bands
Red Dust - the worst song on the EP, bluesy and cliche
Sixteen, Maybe Less - my other favorite song on the EP, very pretty song
Burn That Broken Bed - Calexico ruins an otherwise good song with some jazzy horns
Dead Man's Will - another strong song worth hearing

I hear the format of tonight's show is for each band to do a full set and then play the EP together in its entirety. I still can't believe that tickets are $23.50 + ticketmaster fees and I still can't believe it's being held in a 2,200 seat venue. I hope Calexico is more compelling live than they are in the studio.

See them tonight at the Wiltern

Monday, October 17, 2005

Band Profile: Dengue Fever

I know local band Dengue Fever isn't for everybody, but I think everybody should see them at least once. The band members (guys who play/played with Radar Brothers, Dieselhed, Beck, Ozomatli, Brazzaville, et.) set out to form a 1960's Cambodian psychedelic band. Eventually they found a singer who could pull off the vocals (in her first language, Khmer). The LA Times said it in an interesting way, "... imagine a Cambodian beauty queen that shares the stage with Barry White, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Hutchence and Brian Wilson."

Free in-store @ Sea Level Records on Tuesday 10/18/05 at 7pm.

Live @ the Echo on Friday 10/28/05 ($8)

Listen to them on Myspace

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekend Live Music Picks

Here are just a few things that caught my eye for this weekend.

Turbonegro & The (International) Noise Conspiracy @ Avalon ($20) - A night of Scandanavian hard rock. Golly, I hope Turbonegro plays "Wipe It 'Til It Bleeds."

Rex Aquarium @ El Cid ($7) - Local indie band's record release party.

Jon Brion @ Largo ($10) - I don't like Kanye West.

Bob Mould @ The El Rey ($20) - According to the reviews, he's playing music from throughout his career. I'd really love to hear the Husker Du and Sugar stuff.

Turbonegro & The (International) Noise Conspiracy @ The Fonda ($18) - See above

The Mae Shi & Make Believe @ The Echo [early show from 6:30pm - 10pm] ($10) - The Mae Shi are a local band that kind of reminds me of Shellac. What little I've heard of Make Believe sounds kind of like Polvo.

LCD Soundsystem & The Juan MacLean @ Avalon ($18) - This tour is sponsored by PlayStation, but I guess I'll still call them indie electronic music.

Rademacher @ Sea Level Records [3:00PM] (FREE) - Mellow indie rock.

Tussle and Gogogo Airheart @ The Echo ($5) - Tussle's another indie electronic band that I hear is better live than on record. San Diego's Gogogo Airheart has a new album coming out on the 25th. You should be able to dance to both of these bands.

Mt. Egypt @ Tangier ($5) - You probably can't dance to this singer-songwriter.

Architecture in Helsinki @ Troubadour ($12) - I saw these Aussies a few months ago and really wanted to like them but just didn't. Maybe you will? They seem like really nice kids and they've got a lot of enthusiasm.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


These days a lot of LA promoters strongly believe in residencies (the same band playing the same night of the week each week for a month). The theory goes that if a band is good, word-of-mouth will ensure that the crowd builds each week. Spaceland used to own free Monday nights; there was always a line after 10:30pm. A lot of bands got record deals as a result of their Monday night residency at Spaceland. But these days it's getting harder to keep track of all the residencies. I know it's already the 13th, but here's what the month of October has to offer:

Mondays - Colored Shadows (free) [LA band, tripped out - press on their page sounds like they wanna sound like Doves]
Wednesday - Bigbang [from Norway, sound a bit like the Black Crowes]
Thursday - Green and Yellow TV [email band to get on list - LA band - straightforward rock]

The Echo:
Monday - Lavender Diamond (free) [folk pop]
Tuesday - The Waking Hours [according to their myspace page they sound like Rooney and Phantom Planet]

The Fold:
Monday @ Silverlake Lounge - The Words (free)
Wednesday @Silverlake Lounge - Sabrosa Purr ($5) [listen for yourself]
Sunday @ Tangier - Mt. Egypt ($5) [sounds promising and indie, have a listen]

I've only spent about two minutes listening to each of these bands. A couple of them sound promising and a couple of them sound terrible. At least they're all out there doing it.....

Live Review: dios (malos) @ Amoeba

Last night was the dios (malos) in-store at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. I've gotten to the point where I don't really like seeing bands there. The sound is never that great and it gets insanely packed for bigger bands (the Flaming Lips in-store was unbearable). The crowd was smallish (maybe 75-100 people). There were lots of young kids in dark clothes who probably drove from far away.

The singer struggled with his voice during the first two songs. It was all over the place. During the third song he kind of stumbled around the stage - fumbling around with his 12-string acoustic guitar, then picking up an electric before sitting down at the piano. There were several moments where the drummer was the only one playing. After the song, the bass player introduced the touring keyboard player - joking that he's a man of non-color. And finally they got focused during the fourth song. The rest of the show was solid.

I really can't complain since it was free (plus I got a great deal on a couple of McCartney records while I was there). But I'm still curious to see if they can really bring these songs to life in a live setting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Art Opening this Thursday: Travis Millard

I realize this is a music blog and not an art blog, but this event is worthy of your attention (and kind of music related). An old friend, Travis Millard, is having an art opening this Thursday from 7-10 PM at Jeff Electric Gallery. Jeff Electric is located at 3022 W. Sunset (1/2 block west of Silverlake blvd) in Silver Lake, CA 90026.

Travis used to have the back page in Spin Magazine and has done design work for a bunch of bands (lots of Kansas City bands and recently more local bands). He also did the mural work near the bathrooms at the Little Joy Luck Club. I bet those drawings have seen a lot of coke deals go down.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Album Review: Big Star IN SPACE

Alex Chilton, if you're reading this review please stop. Have you stopped reading yet? Ok good. I'm a huge fan of Big Star's three albums, they're all essential listening. I don't own any Alex Chilton solo records because I've always assumed that I'd be disappointed. I was very apprehensive about this record, but since he broke the Big Star name out of retirement I decided to have a listen. The fact that this not really Big Star becomes obvious very quickly.

Dony: not bad, but I could do without the horn solo
Lady Sweet: pretty Posies' song, but not a Big Star song (Chilton's not even singing)
Best Chance We've Ever Had: a pleasant Jody song that Chilton doesn't sing
Turn My Back on the Sun: Beach Boys' tribute that starts with a Wouldn't It Be Nice fakeout, another Posies' song
Love Revolution: I don't care if it does sound like Chilton's having fun, I'm going to pretend I never heard this
February's Quiet: another pleasant enough Jody song "she likes sugar in her tea"
Mine Exclusively: R&B cover tune that doesn't do much for me
A Whole New Thing: another R&B tune that doesn't do anything for me
Aria Largo: throwaway instrumental
Hung Up With Summer: kinda boring
Do You Wanna Make It: real simple early rock'n'roll with that horn again
Makeover: this song's a mess

Save your money and listen to the real Big Star albums.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Album Review: dios (malos) - release date 10/11/05

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - It took some convincing from my girlfriend for me to give this record a chance but I'm glad I finally did. About the only thing I knew about these guys was that Ronnie James Dio had sent them a cease and desist letter forcing them to change their name (what a douche). They went from dios to dios (malos). According to their website, dios (malos) is from Hawthorne, CA (home of The Beach Boys, Emitt Rhodes and Black Flag). Those three acts are very different, but elements of all three are on the new dios (malos) record.

Some of the songs have sunny, pop arrangements [Beach Boys] while others are mellow and piano or acoustic based [Emitt Rhodes]. Many of the lyrics are very bratty [Black Flag] and at least four songs mention drugs (Feels Good Being Somebody, So Do I, No Dance Now, and My Broken Bones). I've listened to this album about 20 times and songs are lodged in my head. My favorite tracks are: Say Anything, GRRRL, and My Broken Bones. Another eight tracks are very solid and the only song I tend to skip over is the instrumental, Tokyo Sunrise.

Download "Feels Good Being Somebody" - [don't judge the album by this track, it's one of my least favorite]

Buy the album HERE

See them for free at Amoeba this Wednesday

See them live at the El Rey on 11/19/05

Advice to dios (malos): Get a real website. I get it - you're brats with a goofy sense of humor. Your site is so incredibly annoying to navigate that any jokes are lost. I'm a big fan of simple, organized band sites. Check out my friends The Foxymorons for a good example of this. They have a bunch of free downloads and it's not bogged down with Flash animation or automatically loading music. While you're fixing your site, please call Radiohead and tell them to fix their site as well. It's even worse. Thanks.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Weekend Live Music Picks

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Troubadour - I slept on this too long and it sold out. Good luck pushing your way to the bar through all the A&R types with their corporate AmEx cards. They've got a few really good songs.
Earlimart @ Spaceland - One of the better local bands.
Jon Brion @ Largo - Always a safe bet on Friday night.
Idlewild @ El Rey - Probably not worth the money.
Franz Ferdinand & TV On the Radio @ the Greek - Definitely not worth the money.

Kennedy and Friends @ Largo - Check out his amazing video.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ El Rey - Always a good live band and I like their new musical direction. I mean, how long can you rip off the Jesus and Mary Chain?
Franz Ferdinand & TV On the Radio - Still not worth the money. 2 nights seems excessive.

Ariel Pink @ the Echo - It's not really my thing, but at least it's free.

RIP: Michael Gibbins (Badfinger's drummer)

Michael Gibbins died today in Florida. He was 56. The story of Badfinger is tragic. If you're a Beatles and Big Star fan and you don't own any Badfinger, buy THE VERY BEST OF BADFINGER immediately. This is a picture of him (on the right) with Pete Ham.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Live Review: Fruit Bats

Last night was the eagerly anticipated (at least for me) Fruit Bats show at Spaceland. I showed up very early and was a little surprised that nobody was there. I'd heard that the pre-sales were pretty good.

Anyway, about 9:30 BIGBANG went on stage. I'd been tipped off that they were good from a friend who saw them at the Derby last week. They're from Norway and they sound like an American southern rock boogie band. It always surprises me when foreign bands are able to pull off really American sounds so pitch perfect. I'm guessing that if you're a fan of the Black Crowes then Bigbang might be right up your alley.

IRVING was next. They're a local LA band with a large female fanbase (that's a hint for the single guys out there). They score a lot of primo opening slots (Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, Coheed and Cambria).

FRUIT BATS finally came on at about 11:45. They did not disappoint. The lead singer writes heartfelt, lyrical pop songs and I really like the sound of his voice. The new band made the songs come alive and the drummer had timing (see Dungen live review). There were some really enthusiastic fans in the front who sang along and their energy was contagious. The lead singer said it was his favorite show of the tour. The band deserves a much bigger fanbase (if you like the New Pornographers and/or Shins you should buy SPELLED IN BONES). F-you Pitchfork - as usual, you don't know what you're talking about.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sea Level Records

Yesterday was a big release day for new music so I thought it would be a good time to describe a favorite local record store. Sea Level Records is a small, indie-focused record store in Echo Park. It's one of the only record stores in LA that focuses on supporting local, indie bands. They do a lot of cool in-stores and if you go in there a couple of times you will develop a relationship with the owner, Todd. While LA citizens are lucky to have a lot of choices when it comes to buying music, I always like supporting local mom-and-pop businesses. They also carry a fair amount of vinyl. An added bonus is that it's the only place you can buy tickets for most Spaceland and Echo concerts without paying Ticketweb a bunch of fees. Check them out at 1716 W. Sunset Blvd.

While you're there, pick up some of yesterday's new releases.

Highly Recommended:
My Morning Jacket Z: Mojo called it an instant classic and gave it 5 stars. It took me several listens to get into this because it's so much different than their previous records. They trimmed about a half-hour off the running time and are experimenting with less organic sounds. Of the 10 songs, six are really good (check out "Anytime"), two are good and two are decent. Definitely worth buying. Playing live at the Fonda on 11/10/05.

Broken Social Scene S/T: Just as good as You Forgot It in People. Of the 14 tracks, five are really good (check out "7/4 Shoreline"), seven are good and two are interludes. Playing live at the Fonda on 11/8/05.

I'm Still Digesting:
Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better with Franz Ferdinand: I really liked their first album. But on first listen this is not nearly as good. Maybe it will grow on me. Playing live at the Greek Theatre on 10/7/05 & 10/8/05.
Watch a video: here

Ladytron Witching Hour: Somebody gave me a copy of 604 a few years ago and I never played it much. But this new album sounds pretty good on first listen. Stupid Pitchfork seems to like it. Appearing at Bang! on 11/19/05.

The Go! Team Thunder, Lightning, Strike: I haven't had a chance to hear the whole thing yet. So far I'm indifferent. Playing live at the El Rey on 10/20/05.

Other releases I would like to hear:
Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine - Playing live at the Wiltern on 11/26/05

The Magic Numbers The Magic Numbers - Playing live at the Troubadour on 11/1/05
Watch a video: here

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Live Review: Dungen

Last week I saw Swedish psych-rockers DUNGEN twice in the Los Angeles area. A lot of my friends like Dungen's record a lot more than I do. But when I'm in the right frame of mind I can really appreciate it.

The first show was Wednesday at the El Rey ( The El Rey is a beautiful old venue where I've seen some amazing shows over the years. Unfortunately it can feel like high school gym when there's not enough people to fill the space. [Complaint #1] The crowd was pretty sparse - maybe 50% capacity. Dungen plays the type of music that should absorb you (psychedelic head-y music). Therefore it should be loud. [Complaint #2] As Dungen started I could hear lots of people talking around me in normal voices. The lead singer has a cool Robert Plant-vibe and very tight trousers. He's a rock star in the making. [Complaint #3] Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said for his band. The touring drummer is horrible and the lead guitarist is moderate. The show got better after a friend supplied some free beers. [Complaint #4] A bottle of beer costs $7 + tip at the El Rey. I was happy that the tickets to the show were free.

The second show was Friday at the Glass House in Pomona ( I was honestly hoping this would be a better show. The Glass House can be a fun venue because it's an all ages club and the college crowd is generally far less jaded than the average LA crowd. Plus these tickets were also free and my girlfriend who couldn't make it on Wednesday really wanted to see the show. The Doors were set to open at 7:30 so we left Echo Park at 8pm (Pomona is 35 miles east of LA). [Complaint #1] Dungen wasn't scheduled to go on until 10pm. This was impossible to find out because neither the set times nor a phone number are displayed on the Glass House's Web site. There's no alcohol (and the concession stand wasn't even open) so we decided to kill time across the street until Dungen came on. [Complaint #2] There was nobody in the venue - maybe 15% full. The high school gym feeling was even worse. [Complaint #3] The drummer was even worse tonight and the lead guitar even less impressive.

Advice to Gustav Ejstes (lead singer of Dungen): Find a drummer who can keep time and a guitar player who can pull off some solos (you may even want to consider hiring some studio musicians). You're a rock star in the making and you're very capable of writing some great songs with hooks. Next time you're in LA play smaller venues. Instead of playing the El Rey and Glass House do a show at the Troubadour and a show at Spaceland. The shows are guaranteed to be packed and the audience will have a much better time. You're welcome.

Teenage Fanclub on KCRW Today

I've always had a love/hate relationship with KCRW radio station (89.9 FM in Los Angeles). Lately I have a really hard time listening at all. About one out of every six songs played is something I actually want to hear. With the proliferation of the internet, they have a much harder time taking credit for breaking bands. But today they are broadcasting Teenage Fanclub live at 11:20 AM. Tune in today or wait for them to post the show online.....

For a much more interesting radio station check out KEXP in Seattle:

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fruit Bats at Spaceland this Wednesday

The Fruit Bats are playing Spaceland on Wednesday night (10/5/05). They're a fantastic Sup Pop band. I highly recommend their album SPELLED IN BONES. Check out these tracks: "Lives of Crime," "Canyon Girl" and "Born in the 70s." I've never seen them live, so I'm looking forward to it. If you're a fan of the Shins check them out.

(stream the album)
official band site)