Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beachwood Sparks' "Make It Together"

Sperkse, Rademaker, Scher, Gunst (clockwise from top left)

Here’s my weekly reminder to point your web browser to Sinking with Sylvia (and Sometimes Todd) tomorrow from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM PST on Little Radio. Tomorrow their guests will be Airborne Toxic Event.

Each week I pick one song to play on the show and then I eventually write about it here. On 11/22 they were on vacation. On 11/29 my pick was Kelley Stoltz’s “Your Reverie” from his forthcoming Sub Pop album, Circular Sounds (out next Tuesday). Since I haven’t heard the album yet, I’m going to skip writing about it. On 12/6/07, Sinking did an all 7” show. My pick that week was the Beachwood Sparks’ “Make It Together,” which was the B-side to “Desert Skies” (still available from Bomp!).

The Beachwood Sparks got their start in the LA scene around 1997 which was about the time I moved to LA for the first time. When I first saw them, they were a six piece consisting of: Brent Rademaker, Chris Gunst, “Farmer” Dave Scher, Aaron Sperske, Pete Kinne (RIP) and Josh Schwartz. I wrote a bit about the history of these guys back in December 2006. Basically they knew each other from KXLU and the bands Further and Strictly Ballroom. In the early days, Schwartz and Gunst would trade off lead vocal duties. The band was inspired by Gram Parsons/country rock, jangly/Byrds, power-poppy/Big Star and shoegazey/British bands. Schwartz’s songs leaned towards the more upbeat, toe tapping end of that spectrum. The band played around town quite a bit, but only released two singles while Schwartz was in the band. “Make It Together” is one of two Schwartz songs that made it to wax during that era (the other being “Midsummer Daydream” on Sub Pop). Both songs are well worth tracking down.

Situations get fucked up and Schwartz left the band before their eponymous debut full length came out on Sub Pop in 2000. The Beachwood Sparks released two full lengths (both are worth tracking down) and an EP that was a bit of a sonic departure and had guest contributions, before calling it quits. These days, several of the members are still active in music. Gunst moved up north and started a band called Mystic Chords of Memory. Sperske plays around town with the Lilys. “Farmer” Dave has been touring with Interpol and plays with Jenny Lewis. Schwartz has a new band called Bolero and recently toured with Dewey Cox.

Just announced: see Josh Schwartz play an acoustic set at 9:00 PM at Spaceland on Friday night.

Beachwood Sparks on Myspace

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The 10 Worst Things about Seeing Yeasayer at the Echoplex on 1/26/08 [Please note, all quotes are paraphrased. I believe I'm fairly representing the essence of what he said, but I didn't have a notebook with me.]

1) It was raining really hard and I had to park far away because there was something going on at the church next door. Then I got soaked running from my car to the venue.

2) Once Yeasayer started there was a rush of people who pushed their way to the front, presumably trying to avoid the bad sound and lack of sightlines under the massive overhang.

3) The BO of the guy who eventually decided to settle in next to me.

4) The lead singer commenting after the first song, “You’re a bunch of shoegazing motherfuckers.”

5) The lead singer asking, “Are there any actors here? You’re all just here to be seen aren’t you. How about agents. Are there any agents here?”

6) The lead singer once again noting the lack of movement in the crowd, “I guess it’s early. They made us come on at 8:00 [it was 9:30]. It’s 11:00 in New York. I bet people are dancing in New York. Maybe by the time MGMT comes on you guys will have had enough drinks and you’ll move. What was with that line outside. 300 people in line to see the show. This club needs to work that shit out.”

7) The lead singer saying, “You have a lot of dreamcatchers out here. You know, out in Topanga. We don’t have that kind of thing where I’m from.”

8) The lead singer reflecting, “A lot people think we’re hippies. But we’re not.”

9) The lead singer throwing something into the crowd and hitting a girl. I didn’t see what he threw because I was walking from one side of the club to the other because I didn’t want to stand next to the hippies who were smoking a joint next to me. “Oh, I’m sorry, I meant to hit the guy next to you. Find me after the show and I’ll give you $20.” (A few people booed) “You can throw stuff at me if you want.” (A few people obliged.)

10) In addition to the lead singer being completely unlikable as a person, the live performance wasn’t compelling. There’s nothing worse than spending your cash and your Saturday night getting insulted by an out-of-towner spewing puerile insults about your city (after all, that’s what our friends from San Francisco are for). Touring the world in a popular band with 700 people at your show and a line around the block after putting out only one record just a few short months ago must be really awful. People at your shows should jump up and down and happily get down on their knees and suck your dick if you ask them to. It doesn’t matter if you’re not putting much into the performance and you’re moping around the stage singing along to backing tracks. Don’t these asshole kids know that you're a vital artist?

The whole night made me feel a little sad that I put their record in my top 20 of 2007. Now when I listen to the songs, all I can think about is a grouchy guy sitting around a computer in a cramped studio apartment in Brooklyn alternately laboring over Pro Tools and trying to line up interviews on Pitchfork. How Rock ‘n’ Roll. What would Steve Albini say?

Monday, January 28, 2008

LA Live Music Options 1/28/08 - 2/3/08

Radar Bros. Play the Echo Tonight

The Radar Bros. and the Dengue Fever record release shows are the highlight of the week for me....
Monday 1/28/08
[Recommended] Radar Bros. / Brian Aubert / Everest / Adeline @ the Echo (Free for over 21 / $5 for 18+) – I don’t know how you pass this one up. This is the record release party for the Radar Bros. excellent new album, Auditorium (see my review HERE). It also might be the last time you ever see the original band play together. Senon’s leaving to focus on his other band, Dengue Fever. Brian Aubert from the Silversun Pickups is doing a solo set. Everest is one of my favorite new local bands. Adeline’s band features Stevie and Brian from the Movies, Aaron from Le Switch and Jim from the Radar Bros.
[Recommended] The Parson Red Heads / The Idaho Falls / The Monolators @ Spaceland (Free) – Last night of the Parson Red Heads residency.
We Barbarians / Canon Blue / In Waves @ Silverlake Lounge (Free)
Fred Armisen / Petra Haden @ Troubadour ($17)
Bloodcat Love / Sons and Lovers @ Viper Room (Free with RSVP)
The Hectors / The Transmissions @ La Cita (Free)
Sarah Silverman @ Largo

Tuesday 1/29/08
Drug Rug / Amnion @ Spaceland ($8)
Shelby Lynne @ Amoeba (Free) – 7:00PM
Envy on the Coast @ Knitting Factory ($12)
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals / Brandi Shearer @ Troubadour ($12)
Upsilon Acrux / Polar Goldie Cats @ the Smell ($5)
Jill Sobule / Tom Brosseau @ Largo

Wednesday 1/30/08
[Recommended] Peter Moren @ Hotel Café ($15) – Early show at 8:00 PM. This is Peter from Peter Bjorn & John doing solo material. If you’re just hoping to see him do “Young Folks” you should probably stay at home. He’s got some songs up on his Myspace page including a pretty good cover of Gene Clark’s “Spanish Guitar.”
[Recommended] Buddy @ Hotel Café ($10) – This show’s at 10:30PM. And there’s a show in between at 9:30.
[Recommended] Hairbrain Night: Tweakbird / The Icarus Line @ La Cita (Free) – Heavy rock..
Ryan Adams @ UCLA Royce Hall (Sold Out) – I’ve seen Adams once and it was terrible. He seems to have grown up a bit since then, and the more recent clips from TV seem pretty good.
Mr. Lif & the Perceptionists @ Knitting Factory ($14) – Hip-hop.
Von Iva / Jessie Evans @ Silverlake Lounge ($10)
The Chapin Sisters / Kind Hearts & Coronets @ Bordello ($10)
The Mars Volta @ UCI Bren Events Center ($40) – Really good live band.
Nico Vega @ Troubadour ($10)
The Section Quartet @ the Echo ($8)
David Garza @ Largo
Low End Theory Club: Crystal Antlers @ Airliner
Club NME: Castaneda / Roman Numerals / Asher @ Spaceland – Roman Numerals is almost like a Kansas City supergroup featuring members of Season to Risk, Shiner and Get Up Kids. They sound like their doing the Joy Division/She Wants Revenge thing in this band.

Thursday 1/31/08
[Recommended] Dengue Fever @ Echoplex ($13) – This is the record release party for the new Dengue Fever album, Venus on Earth (out last week). I’ve been following them for about six years and they just keep getting better. They started out a little bit of a novelty (although a very good one) doing a lot of Cambodian psych covers, but have since brought in all kinds of influences, written original songs and become a very unique band. They’re great fun to see live.
[Recommended] Airborne Toxic Event / Castledoor / The Deadly Syndrome @ Spaceland ($8) – RSVP to to get on the list. Solid lineup and the last night of the ATE residency.
[Recommended] Entrance / Langhorne Slim / Crystal Antlers @ Knitting Factory ($6) – If you miss Entrance tonight, you can see them the rest of the month on Thursdays at Silverlake Lounge.
5 O’Clock Somewhere / Bollweevil @ the Scene – Good country lineup.
Ryan Adams @ UCLA Royce Hall ($35-40)
Castanets @ Koo’s Art Center in Long Beach
Mark Olson / Mary Gauthier @ Troubadour ($20) – Mark Olson formerly of the Jayhawks.
The Watkins Family Hour @ Largo
Hell Ya Night: Schwayze / Hazelden @ the Echo ($5)
Jessie Evans / Lily Marlene @ Bordello ($10)

Friday 2/1/08
[Recommended] Autolux / HEALTH @ El Rey ($17) – Autolux is going on four years between records. I saw them open for Blonde Redhead at the Wiltern last year and they were quite good. They're on the Coachella bill this year. HEALTH has a reputation for being a great live band.
[Hype Alert] First Fridays: A-Trak / Kid Sister @ Natural History Museum ($9)
Bodies of Water / Castanets @ the Echo ($8) – This is Bodies of Water’s first local show in a bit. They’re heading out on the road next month with Sons and Daughters. Download Castanets’ “This Is the Early Game
Matt Costa / Delta Spirit @ Troubadour (Sold Out)
Vast / Eastern Conference Champions @ Knitting Factory ($20)
Blood (Japan) @ Knitting Factory ($20)
Princeton @ El Cid ($10)
Jonathan Wilson @ Hotel Café
Shiloe / Repeater @ the Scene
The Monolators / The Health Club @ Mr. T’s Bowl
Boyz II Men @ Crash Mansion ($35)

Saturday 2/2/08
[Recommended] The Deadly Syndrome @ the Scene – They put out one of the best local releases of last year and are always a lot of fun to see live.
[Recommended] Mere Mortals / Xu Xu Fang / Black Kites @ Spaceland ($8)
Matt Costa @ Troubadour (Sold Out)
The Bravery / Switches @ Crash Mansion ($25)

Sunday 2/3/08 (Super Bowl Sunday)
Squaregirls Night: Murder Mystery / The Tartans / Maria @ the Scene – This is a new monthly night at the Scene promoted by the Squaregirls.
Part Time Punks: Nu-Tra @ the Echo ($5)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Eels Prize Package Giveaway (Greatest Hits, autographed 7" and Rarities Collection)

I've got an Eels prize package to giveaway. The package consists of: Meet the Eels - Essential Eels Vol. 1 (a new 24 track greatest hits collection with a bonus DVD with 12 videos); Eels Useless Trinkets - B-sides, soundtracks, rarities and unreleased (a new two disc, 50 track collection with a live DVD of the Eels performance at Lollapalooza in 2006); an autographed limited edition 7" of "Climbing to the Moon (Jon Brion Remix)."

To win this package, send me an email (dukeufo at hotmail) and tell me what your favorite Eels song is and why you like it. The deadline is Wednesday, 1/30/08 at 5:00PM.

More information and a full track listing can be found HERE. These new collections are out on Dreamworks/Geffen and in stores now.

Recently Announced Live Shows

Recently Announced Shows:

The Kooks @ the Echo on 2/8/08 (on sale now)
Common @ House of Blues on 2/12/08 (on sale this Saturday)
Cat Power @ the Wiltern on 2/29/08 (on sale Saturday at 10:00AM)
MSTRKRFT / Z-Trip / LA Riots @ the Fonda on 2/29/08 (on sale Saturday at 10:00AM)
Grizzly Bear and the Los Angeles Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall on 3/1/08 (on sale 2/2/08)
Brother Ali @ Troubadour on 3/13/08 (on sale 2/1/08)
Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip @ the Roxy on 3/17/08 (on sale now)
Kinky / Money Mark @ the Fonda on 3/18/08 (on sale Saturday at 10:00 AM)
Xiu Xiu @ the Echo on 4/11/08 (on sale now)
Stars of the Lid @ the Echo on 4/14/08 (on sale now)
Ghostland Observatory @ the Fond on 4/18/08 (on sale Saturday at 10:00 AM)
Coachella @ Empire Polo Fields in Indio on 4/25/08 – 4/27/08 (on sale now)
Tim and Eric’s Awesome Tour @ the Echoplex on 5/5/08 (on sale Saturday at Noon)
King Khan and the Shrines @ the Echo on 7/10/08 (on sale now)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Releases 1/22/08 (Dengue Fever)

One of the changes I’m making this year, is that I’m not going to do those monster listings of all the new releases each week. There are other resources on the web that do a good job (the best I’ve found is Largehearted Boy and he does a roundup of where you can sample the new releases). Here’s my overview for January 22, 2008, the first big release week of the new year.

Albums I’ve heard:
Cat Power: Jukebox (Matador) – Chan Marshall’s talented and attractive, but for me (with a couple of exceptions) it feels like work to sit down and listen to her records. This is another (mostly) covers album and features a slew of noteworthy guests. She tackles Sinatra, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin. You think it’s going to be unbearable when she kicks off with “New York” but there are a few worthwhile interpretations. See Cat Power live at the Wiltern on 2/29 (tickets on sale Saturday at 10:00 AM).

Barton Carroll: The Lost One (Skybucket Records) – If you’re into folky, Americana you should give this one a listen. The Aquarium Drunkard has a nice post with links to some MP3s.

[Local] Dengue Fever: Venus on Earth (M80) – This is the third release from one of LA’s most unique bands. For longtime fans like myself (I started seeing them in 2002) it’s nice to see them grow as a band and continue to evolve beyond their early, Cambodian pysch-pop (mostly covers) sound. As on their second album, they bring in new influences and lead singer Chhom Nimol’s English has further improved. This one has some nice call and response songs. The critics are already responding as positively to this new album as they did to the last one (New York Times, LA Weekly). There’s already a documentary about the band and their music has been featured in a Jim Jarmusch film. They put on a great live show which you can see at the Echoplex for their record release party on 1/31/08.
Download “Sober Driver

[Local] Get Set Go: Get Set Go Presents Sunshine, Joy and Happiness – A Tragic Tale of Death, Despair and Other Silly Nonsense (TSR Records) – This is Mike TV’s band. He helped put Highland Park on the music scene map. For fans of upbeat, power pop. They’ve already been featured in Grey’s Anatomy and Weeds.

MGMT: Oracular Spectacular (Columbia/Sony) – They’re buddies with Of Montreal and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) produced this record. As many critics have pointed out they mix smart ass lyrics with prog influences and disco influences and Britpop influences. I don't love all the songs, but some of it's pretty fun. See them at the Echoplex this Saturday with Yeasayer.

Things I haven’t heard yet:
Black Mountain: In the Future (Jagjaguwar) – Download “Tyrants” See them at the Troubadour on 2/5/08.
Blood on the Wall: Liferz (Social Registry) – Two of them are from my college town, Lawrence, KS. At Spaceland on 2/7/08.
Instruments of Science and Technology: Music From the Films of Richard Swift (Secretly Canadian) – Download “Shooting a Rhino Between the Shoulders

Local Interest:
Biirdie: Catherine Avenue (Drive-Thru)
Bodies of Water: Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink (Secretly Canadian) – Finally available nationally. “I Guess I’ll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess” At the Echo on 2/1/08
Steve Aoki: Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles (Thrive) – Featuring Justice, Klaxons, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Datarock, Peaches, Mystery Jets, Scanners – (notice it wasn’t released on his Dim Mak label).

Other stuff I haven't heard that requires further investigation:
Buzzcocks live album, Drive-By Truckers, Envy, Evangelicals, Ex Reverie, Liam Finn, Mahjongg, Jack Penate, Rafter, Super Furry Animals, Times New Viking, The Whigs, The Whitsundays

Teddy Headphones Interviews the Broken West

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Billy Nicholls' "London Social Degree"

Here’s my weekly reminder to listen to Sinking with Sylvia (and Sometimes Todd) on Little Radio on Thursday morning from 11:00AM to 1:00PM PST. Tomorrow their guest will be Jim Putnam from the Radar Bros. Jim will be talking about the Radar Bros. excellent new album, Auditorium, the last night of their residency at the Echo, and what the future holds for the band.

Each week I make one selection on the show, and then I write about it here. On November 15th, 2007 my pick was Billy Nicholls’ “London Social Degree.” As you might have guessed by now, I’m a sucker for those “lost masterpiece” albums. According to the All Music Guide, Nicholls was 16 when George Harrison helped him get some demos recorded and submitted to the Beatles publisher. The songs got the attention of Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Oldham who was starting a label. Nicholls signed to Oldham’s label, Immediate, as a staff songwriter. With Oldham at the console, Nicholls recorded a full album, Would You Believe. Press copies were sent out in 1968, but the album never hit store shelves.

A CD copy was finally released in 2000. A lot of these lost masterpiece albums never live up to the hype, but this one largely does. The album is heavily influenced by Brian Wilson and features Pet Sounds-influenced production. Many of the songs feature heavy stings, session men and layered vocal arrangements. While it’s certainly no Pet Sounds, it is a very solid record. “London Social Degree” is indicative of what you get with the rest of the record. It captures Nicholls life at the time – being a young Londoner in the late 1960s doing LSD and hanging out with the Small Faces, the Who and the Stones’ crowd. If you’re into late 1960s, British, orch-pop then you’re going to dig this album. Forever’s No Time at All, a two-disc retrospective of Nicholls entire career, was released a couple of years ago on CD. If you’re intrigued by Nicholls, I’d pick that one up, because of a lot of his later songs are well worth hearing too.

Billy Nicholls’ website (you can sample some MP3s in the music section)
The All Music Guide entry on Nicholls (a source for some of this information)
Fan run Myspace page (more songs to sample)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Los Angeles Live Music Calendar 1/22/08 - 1/27/08

Yeasayer Play the Echoplex on Saturday

In my efforts to give you news you can use, here's the calendar for the entire week (sorry I forgot about Monday). Highlights for the week include some big hype shows and some of my favorite local bands of 2007....
Tuesday 1/22/08
[Hype Alert] The Teenagers / Mezzanine Owls @ the Echo ($10) – The Teenagers are an upbeat Parisian synth/guitar/bass trio with some hype behind them right now. Bronson’s got a piece on them HERE. Also at Spaceland Wednesday.
Signal Hill / Keith Waggoner (of Amateurs) @ Silverlake Lounge ($8) – This is Joe from Radio Free Silver Lake’s pick.
Ranch Party: Merle Jagger @ Spaceland – Monthly country music night.
Ryan Adams @ Bridges Auditorium at Claremont Colleges ($35) – Claremont’s about 30 miles east of Echo Park.
Restaurant @ Safari Sam’s ($8)
The French Semester @ the Scene (Free)
The Locust @ Troubadour (Sold Out)
Anchors Aaweigh @ Bordello ($8) – The guy from the Blood Arm

Wednesday 1/23/08
[Recommended] The Moon Upstairs / Suki Ewers / Greater California @ The Echo ($7) – The Moon Upstairs put out one of my favorite local releases last year. They play George Harrison inspired rock ‘n’ roll.
[Hype Alert] Club NME: The Teenagers / Run Run Run / Mostly Bears @ Spaceland – The Teenagers are a British upbeat band with some hype behind them right now. Bronson’s got a piece on them HERE.
[Recommended] Buddy @ Hotel Café – Wimpycore.
Amnion @ Three of Clubs (Free)
Steve Aoki Record Release Party: Har Mar Superstar @ the Roxy (Free with RSVP)
Two Ton Boa / The Youngs @ Bordello
Gallows @ Troubadour ($15) – The LA Weekly’s pick.
David Garza @ Largo
Artichoke @ Tangier ($8)

Thursday 1/24/08
[Recommended] Airborne Toxic Event / Radars to the Sky / Venus Infers / Aushua @ Spaceland ($8) – RSVP to to get on the list. The next to last week of ATE’s monthlong residency.
[Recommended] Dead Ponies / The Savages @ Silverlake Lounge ($7) – Intense rock ‘n’ roll.
[Recommended] Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ Key Club (Sold Out)
[Recommended] Rademacher @ the Prospector in Long Beach
[Recommended] Peter Bjorn & John / Sea Wolf @ Samueli Hall in Costa Mesa (Sold Out)
Feral Children / The Transmissions / Black Kites @ The Scene
[CANCELLED] Hey Willpower / Money Mark @ the Echo ($10) – Hey Willpower is one of the guys from Imperial Teen with one of the guys from Tussle. [CANCELLED]
The Grouch & Eligh (Living Legends) / Brother Reade @ Knitting Factory ($20) – Hip-hop
Ingrid Michaelson @ Troubadour (Sold Out)
Masta Ace @ Safari Sam’s ($18)
The Watkins Family Hour @ Largo – The Nickel Creek members
Priscilla Ahn @ Hotel Café
Rob Dickinson (Catherine Wheel) @ Viper Room

Friday 1/25/08
[Recommended] Ringo Starr @ House of Blues (Free) – 1:00PM show. Line up starting at 9:00AM or try buying Ringo’s new album at Amoeba or listening to KLOS.
[Recommended] Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ Safari Sam’s ($30) – You can watch the “Berlin” video that was filmed at Little Radio a while back. You briefly see the back of my head.
[Recommended] Talib Kweli @ House of Blues (Sold Out) – Hip-Hop
Jason Isbell / Will Hoge / Jeremy Fisher @ Spaceland ($15) – The former Drive By Truckers member. His solo album is good.
Au Revoir Simone / Karin Tatoyan / Princeton @ Troubadour ($12) – Their debut album is pretty good.
Pigeon John @ El Cid ($10) – Full band set.
The Blow / Mirah @ The Fonda ($15)
Jim Ward / Nico Stai @ Paul G Gleason Theatre – Jim Ward is the lead singer/guitarist of Sparta. There are shows at 7:00PM and 10:00PM but the later show is already sold out.
Lemon Sun / Astra Heights @ the Echo ($5)
Restaurant @ Mr. T’s Bowl
Hello Astronaut, Goodbye Television @ the Smell ($5)

Saturday 1/26/08
[Recommended / Hype Alert] Yeasayer / MGMT @ the Echoplex ($10) – Yeasayer made my best of 2007 list. Their debut album has a lot of great ideas and succeeds with a lot of them. Tickets have sold so well for this one, that apparently they moved it downstairs to the Echoplex. Download two of Yeasayer’s best tracks: “Sunrise” and “2080” I haven’t spent as much time with MGMT’s CD, but it’s got some good tracks too.
[Recommended] Correatown @ Pehrspace – Record release party
[Recommended] Talib Kweli @ House of Blues ($22.50)
Earthless @ The Mountain (Free) – What I’ve heard sounds good. From their Myspace page: “We play long instrumental,partially structured improvised rock-n-roll with a lot of ‘cosmic nodding.’”
From The Jam (Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton) @ El Rey ($27.50)
Tim Finn / Miranda Lee Richards @ Troubadour ($22)
The Stitches / The Superbees @ Safari Sam’s ($13)
Abe Vigoda @ the Smell ($5)
The Movies / Le Switch @ the Prospector in Long Beach ($5) - Two of my favorite local bands. Make sure you stop by Fingerprints record store when you're Long Beach.
Rocket @ Spaceland ($8)

Sunday 1/27/08
[Recommended/Hype Alert] White Williams / Magic Bullets / The Blakes @ Echo ($10) – White Williams is probably the poppiest of the new hyped-up, electro-noise-pop acts.
[Recommended] The Spires / Jake Mann / Franklin for Short / Frankel @ All Star Lanes in Eagle Rock ($5 includes bowling shoe rental) – Frankel made one of my favorite local releases of last year.
[Recommended] Brunch Americana: Dave Gleason @ Safari Sam’s (Free) – Noon to 4:00PM
The Mother Truckers @ the Mint – Voted the best roots rock band in 2006 by the Austin Chronicle and they’ve shared the stage with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.
Upsilon Acrux / Bobb Bruno @ Spaceland (Free)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coachella Lineup Announced

Tickets go on sale Friday and will run you way north of $300 for the weekend. Factor in the opportunity cost of using a vacation day, the gasoline and cost of a hotel and you could easily have a Hawaiian vacation. The Friday lineup looks the best to me (with the exception of Jack Johnson as a headliner). The Saturday lineup is weak. The Sunday lineup is just bizarre.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Record Review: Radar Bros. Auditorium

Band: Radar Bros.
Album: Auditorium
Label: Merge
Release Date: 1/29/08

For me, the Radar Bros. are the most important LA indie band of the last decade. Lead singer/guitarist Jim Putnam came on the scene in the early 1990s as a guitarist in Medicine. Medicine was a well-liked noise-pop/shoegaze band signed to Rick Rubin’s Def American.

Putnam and Eddie Ruscha (Dada Munchamonkey, Future Pigeon, Dub Club DJ, son of world famous artist Ed Ruscha) left early in Medicine’s life to form a new band called Maids of Gravity. Maids of Gravity had some moderate success with Ruscha as the frontman.

In 1994, Putnam grabbed his good friend Steve Goodfriend for drums and recorded some demos. Senon Williams joined and they became the Radar Bros. With their first LP in 1996, the Radar Bros. were usually compared to slowcore bands like Low and Codeine. I like those bands too, but it never made complete sense because those bands really can rock you to sleep.

While I liked the Radar Bros. eponymous debut album, it wasn’t until the follow up in 1999 (The Singing Hatchet) that I started calling them my favorite band in LA. Putnam was getting really good in the studio (it runs in the family) and the production was lush. The pop elements in the songs were more evident and Putnam’s lyrics were becoming weirder in a great way.

Cut to 2002 and the release of their third album, And the Surrounding Mountains on Merge Records. Pink Floyd/Meddle comparisons abound and the best reviews to date pour in. Putnam’s still got the breathy, soft voice but as you listen, you realize he’s singing about some really sinister shit. It’s a fucked up concept record, and even better than the The Singing Hatchet.

Following up And the Surrounding Mountains couldn’t have been an easy task. In 2005, they released their fourth full length and second for Merge, The Fallen Leaf Pages. The record’s really special to me because the record release party finally got me out to Sea Level Records in Echo Park and I met my girlfriend that night.

Following their pattern (a record every three years), the Radar Bros. are about to release their fifth album, Auditorium (out January 28th on Merge). Fans will not be disappointed. Beginning to end, this might be their best record yet. Williams and Goodfriend are still there, as is a new participant, touring guitarist Jeff Palmer. At its heart, the record’s got all the trademarks of the band. It’s lush and layered with pop elements and Putnam’s soothing voice. The production’s the best yet and they incorporate new sound textures. Lyrically, it’s still weird with some of Putnam’s best stuff yet (“the fat cops make bigger targets” and “I keep drinking your tailgate piss”). He’s got nature and politics on his mind. The record’s perfect for sitting around a campfire drinking beer, or sitting on your porch with a friend getting high, or driving home from the beach after a long day in the sun.

You’ve got two more chances to see the Radar Bros. during their Monday night residency at the Echo. If you really want to see and hear the band, your best bet is this week’s (the 21st) show. The following week’s show features Brian Aubert (Silversun Pickups) and Everest as the support acts, so it promises to be a zoo. Rumors are starting to circulate that Senon’s leaving the Radar Bros. after this residency to focus on his other band, Dengue Fever. Jim Putnam will be a guest on the Sinking with Sylvia (and Sometimes Todd) show on Little Radio this Thursday to talk about it. See these guys now, before it’s too late.

Download “Warm Rising Sun

Local Update

Local Update
Foreign Born are heading out on the road with St. Vincent. The first stop is at the Echoplex on February 15th. Check out Dim Mak’s tour page for details.

The Broken West are hard at work recording their new album up in Sacramento with Thom Monahan. Monahan produced some of my favorite Pernice Brothers records as well as Devendra Banhart’s latest.

Recently Announced Residencies:
Henry Clay People @ the Echo on Mondays in February
The Pity Party @ Spaceland on Mondays in February
Robert Francis @ the Silverlake Lounge on Mondays in February
Voxhaul Broadcast @ Spaceland on Mondays in March
Jonathan Rice @ Spaceland on Mondays in April

Recently Announced Shows:
Talib Kweli @ House of Blues Sunset on 1/26/08 (on sale now)
A-Trak / Kid Sister @ Museum of Natural History on 2/1/08
Black Mountain @ Troubadour on 2/5/08 (on sale now)
Rhys Darby (Murry from Flight of the Conchords) @ El Rey on 2/12/08 (on sale now)
Andre Williams @ Spaceland on 2/13/08 (on sale now)
Maceo Parker @ the Roxy on 2/17/08 (on sale now)
The Hives @ the Wiltern on 2/19/08 (on sale now)
Built to Spill / Meat Puppets @ the Echoplex on 2/22/08 – 2/23/08 (on sale now)
Taken By Trees @ the Roxy on 2/28/08 (on sale now)
British Sea Power @ Spaceland on 2/28/08 (on sale now)
A Place to Bury Strangers @ Spaceland on 3/1/08 (on sale now)
New York Dolls @ the Fonda on 3/7/08 (on sale now)
Crystal Castles / HEALTH @ the Roxy on 3/9/08 (TBD)
Big Business @ Spaceland on 3/9/08 (TBD)
Atlas Sound @ the Echo on 3/11/08 (on sale now)
Beach House @ the Echo on 3/13/08 (on sale now)
The Boredoms @ the Fonda on 3/16/08 (on sale now)
Explosions in the Sky @ the Wiltern on 3/17/08 (on sale now)
Bon Iver / Phosphorescent @ the Echo on 3/20/08 (on sale now)
The Black Crowes @ Avalon on 3/20/08 (on sale today at Noon)
Vampire Weekend @ El Rey on 3/20/08 (on sale now)
Bob Mould @ El Rey on 3/25/08 (on sale now)
Jose Gonzalez / Mia Doi Todd @ Wiltern on 3/25/08 (on sale now)
The Black Keys / Jay Reatard @ The Wiltern on 4/1/08 (on sale Saturday at Noon)
Autechre @ Echoplex on 4/4/08 (TBD)
X @ the Fonda on 4/10/08
Enon @ Spaceland on 4/11/08 (on sale now)
Chris Rock @ the Gibson 4/23/08 – 4/25/08 (on sale Sunday at 1:00PM)
Caribou @ El Rey on 4/24/08 (on sale now)
Rush @ Nokia Theatre on 5/6/08 (TBD)
Joe Jackson @ Orpheum Theatre on 5/13/08 (TBD)
Clinic @ Troubadour on 5/20/08 (TBD)

For tickets to Spaceland and the Echo check Ticketweb. For all others, check Ticketmaster.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Everly Brothers' "I Wonder If I Care As Much"

This is a quick reminder to tune in to Little Radio today from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM to hear Sinking with Sylvia (and Sometimes Todd). I don’t think they’ve got a guest or theme today, but it’s the first show with both of them in over a month, and they’ll be giving away some concert tickets.

Each week on their show, I pick one song and then write about it here. I’m way behind in writing about my selections. On November 8th my song pick was the Everly Brothers’ “I Wonder If I Care As Much” from their excellent country-rock album, Roots. As far as early rock ‘n’ roll bands go, the Everly Brothers are one of my favorites. I’ve got a lot of great early memories of driving around with my parents and seeing my dad snap his fingers and sing along to “Wake Up Little Susie.” Today when critics want an example of great harmonies, they usually say “Beach Boys harmonies.” But the way Don and Phil blended their voices was a huge influence on the Beach Boys, Beatles, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel and the Bee Gees.

Country music always played a big part in the Everlys music. They released a roots/cover album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, at the height of their popularity. The version of “I Wonder If I Care As Much” that I selected was from their 1968 album, Roots. The song was an Everly Brothers original that was a big hit for them in the late 1950s. I love the new arrangement they did for the Roots album. The guitar’s great and the vocal arrangement is fantastic. According to Wikipedia, “from a music fan’s standpoint, [the Roots album] was not special.” I disagree. It came out around the time of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Dylan’s country phase and holds up well. They cover two of Merle Haggard’s best songs, some Jimmie Rodgers and a Glen Campbell and a Randy Newman song. The CD reissue is readily available and it’s well worth picking up for country-rock fans.

The Everly Brothers fan club site
See them perform Haggard’s “Mama Tried” on Youtube.
See a photo essay set to the earlier version of “I Wonder If I Care as Much
See a live version of “I Wonder If I Care as Much” more in line with the Roots arrangement

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekly LA Concert Picks: 1/14/08 - 1/20/08

Cornelius Plays the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday

2008 has gotten off to a rough start here at You Set the Scene. I'm back in LA after spending most of the early part of the year with my family. I'm trying to slowly get back into the day to day routine. There are hundreds of unopened emails in my inbox, so please bear with me. Three great free shows tonight, several touring bands with a ton of hype and as always, a lot of great local shows....
Monday 1/14/08
[Recommended] The Parson Red Heads / Mezzanine Owls / Everest @ Spaceland (Free) – Everest was my top pick of local bands to watch out for in 2008 and Bronson just reported that they signed with Neil Young’s label. Congrats guys. Parson Red Heads always put on a fun show too.
[Recommended] We Barbarians / Henry Clay People @ Silverlake Lounge (Free) – Henry Clay People was another band I told you to look out for in 2008. They also put out one of the best local albums of 2007.
[Recommended] Radar Bros. / Tables and Chairs / Correatown @ the Echo (Free) – The Radar Bros. are one of my favorite local bands of the last 10 years. Their new album might be the best thing they’ve ever done. I’ve been listening to it all day. Correatown is great too. Tables and Chairs is an instrumental band with three of the guys from the Movies and Jim from the Radar Bros.
Faun Fables @ Knitting Factory ($10) – LA Weekly pick.
Kate Nash / Karin Tatoyan @ Troubadour (Sold Out) – Hyped British singer with a new album. Lily Allen has already sung her praises. If you don’t have tickets you can see her for free at 6:30PM at Amoeba. See the LA Weekly preview.
Patton Oswalt @ Largo (Reservations Booked) - Hilarious.
The Youngs / Kind Hearts & Coronets @ Bordello (Free)
Miss Derringer @ Viper Room – LA Weekly Pick

Tuesday 1/15/08
[Recommended] Let’s Independent: Death to Anders / The Monolators / Wait Think Fast @ Boardner’s (Free) – Jax has a nice post about this show at Rock Insider. This is the monthly Radio Free Silver Lake showcase of new bands.
[Recommended] Harry Nilsson Tribute Show: Le Switch / Ferraby Lionheart / Frankel / Willoughby / Quazar and the Bamboozled @ Bordello ($10) – Harry Nilsson was an amazing songwriter and singer. No surprise that some of my favorite local bands are into him too.
[Recommended] Ronnie Mack’s Barndance: Mike Stinson @ El Cid
Dan Deacon / HEALTH / Abe Vigoda @ El Rey ($12) – For the Pitchfork/blog-reading/electro-noise loving hipsters
Why? @ Tangier ($10) – Anticon.
Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers @ Safari Sam’s ($4)
Shiloe @ the Echo (Free)
Coco Bs / Hectors / You Me and Iowa @ Silverlake Lounge (Free)
Jesca Hoop @ Hotel Café ($10) – Nic Harcourt favorite.

Wednesday 1/16/08
Dusty Rhodes & the River Band / Restaurant / Valley Arena @ the Echo ($8)
David Garza @ Largo
Club NME: Army Navy @ Spaceland
[Recommended] Buddy / Ian Ball (of Gomez) @ Hotel Café ($10) – Wimpycore.
Low End Theory Club: Daedelus @ Airliner

Thursday 1/17/08
[Recommended] Cornelius / Plaid @ Walt Disney Concert Hall ($28-$37) – Any excuse to check out the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a good one. Cornelius used be like the Japanese Beck, but lately he’s more into textures and ambient noises (but still guitar based). He puts on an amazing live show and generally has a lot going on visually.
[Recommended] Airborne Toxic Event / The Adored @ Spaceland ($8) – RSVP to to get on the list.
[Recommended] Lupe Fiasco @ House of Blues Sunset (Sold Out) – See Jeff Weiss’ preview at the LA Weekly.
Get Set Go @ Knitting Factory Front Stage ($10) – Mike TV’s band (who you might know from Mr. T’s Bowl).
The Watkins Family Hour @ Largo
Young Heart Attack / Thee LA Gentleman Callers @ the Echo ($5)

Friday 1/18/08
[Recommended] Xu Xu Fang / Winter Flowers / Exitmusic @ Bordello ($10) – Nice local lineup.
John Doe @ Getty Center
The Quarter After / The Stevenson Ranch Davidians @ Spaceland
Chromeo / Peanut Butter Wolf @ El Rey (Sold Out) – For the Daft Punk/LCD Soundsystem crowd.
Sole & the Skyrider Band @ Knitting Factory ($17) – Anticon/Morr music crowd.
The Binges @ Safari Sam’s ($10)
War Tapes @ the Echo ($5)

Saturday 1/19/08
[Recommended] Languis @ Pehrspace
Oliver Future / Casxio @ Spaceland
Check Yo’ Ponytail: The Cool Kids @ the Echoplex ($15) – Pitchfork approved Midwestern hip-hop act that’s in with M.I.A. and A-Trak.
Rolling Blackouts @ the Scene

Sunday 1/20/08
[Recommended] Brunch Americana: Dave Gleason @ Safari Sam’s (Free) – Noon – 4:00PM.
Jeremy Enigk @ Troubadour ($20) – Performing songs from throughout his career, including Sunny Day Real Estate.
Very Be Careful @ Safari Sam’s ($12)
Om @ Echoplex ($14) – Southern Lord drone metal band.
Jail Weddings @ the Echo ($5)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

The Virgin Megastore at Sunset and Crescent Heights will be closing its doors at the end of month. While it was never my favorite record store in town, I did stop in periodically to peruse their vinyl section (weird imports that were often inexplicably on sale). Currently all the regular priced merchandise is 30% off. I stopped in last weekend and picked up a few things. They were pre-selling that new Radiohad LP (on sale for $12), I found that first Panda Bear on LP for $7 (it's getting pretty hard to find) and filled out some holes in my Lee Hazlewood collection. They've also got one of the better Blu Ray selections in town. Even if it's a chain store, and they have another location down the street at Hollywood and Highland, I still hate to see it go.

LA Live Music Options 1/2/08 - 1/6/08

Henry Clay People Play Spaceland Thursday (photo by Timothy Norris)

Happy New Year! Welcome to the working week for most of you. Some good shows the rest of the week....
Wednesday 1/2/08
Whispertown 2000 / Maria Taylor / Robert Francis @ Tangier ($10) – Maria Taylor was in Azure Ray and has sung with Conor Oberst, the Faint and Crooked Fingers.

Thursday 1/3/08
[Recommended] The Airborne Toxic Event / The Henry Clay People @ Spaceland ($8) – Airborne is doing a Thursday night residency in January. Email to get on the guestlist. Both of these bands put on high energy live shows. If you still haven’t seen The Henry Clay People, check them out.
Spaceland On Ice: Mezzanine Owls / Hearts of Palm UK @ Pershing Square (Free) – 8:00PM – Ice skating and indie rock.
[Recommended] Patrick Park @ Hotel Café – One of the best local singer-songwriters.
The Smell’s 10 Year Anniversary: The Mae Shi / Babyland / Captain Ahab @ the Smell ($5)
Tweak Bird @ Silverlake Lounge ($7)

Friday 1/4/08
[Recommended] First Fridays: Sea Wolf / Afternoons @ Natural History Museum ($9) – The music starts around 7:00PM and ends by 10:00PM. Sea Wolf made a ton of top 10 lists, including the alt rock station in Kansas City (I heard it while I was back there over the holidays).
You Me & Iowa / Thailand / Cavil at Rest @ Spaceland – Local indie rock.
Sky Parade @ the Echo ($5)
The Greasy Beats @ El Cid ($10) – with Pigeon John doing a DJ set.
Skid Row / LA Guns @ House of Blues ($16) – Not so youth gone wild.
The Monolators @ Mr. T’s Bowl
B.B. King @ the Wiltern ($40-90)
Circle Jerks @ The Fonda ($15.50) – I was a big fan in junior high.

Saturday 1/5/08
[Recommended] Frankel / Amateurs / Apollo Heights / Veil Veil Vanish @ Spaceland – Frankel released one of the best local indie releases last year. Amateurs were overlooked, but put out a very solid release too.
Whispertown 2000 / War Stories / Siberian @ Knitting Factory ($10)

Sunday 1/6/08
[Recommended] The Smell’s 10 Year Anniversary: No Age / Mika Miko / Abe Vigoda @ the Smell ($5) – Three of the best of the DIY/Smell scene. No Age showed up on a ton of national top 10 lists in 2007.
[Recommended] Eleni Mandell / Jonathan Wilson / Angela Correa @ Tangier ($10) – Very strong lineup.
[Recommended] Mike Stinson / David Serby @ Safari Sam’s (Free) – From Noon to 4:00PM – For the country rock fans.
[Recommended] AIDS Benefit: Rademacher / Yes Means No / Weather Underground @ Safari Sam’s ($9)
New Winter Garden Music @ Spaceland (Free) – The Echo Park/hippie hipster community takes over Spaceland all month long on Sunday night.
Mike Watt & the Missingmen @ Knitting Factory ($12)