Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Celebration of Peter, Bjorn and John playing locally- Once again that Great Catjam P,B&J Mini Documentary-

American Pancake was thrilled to be a tiny part of this wonderful project and in Celebration of P, B and J playing Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, California this Saturday (June 4, 2011), we give you, once again...

Peter, Bjorn & John: Digging Deeper from CATJAM Studio on Vimeo.

To read more about Catjam and this wonderful documentary go to Mashable:

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Good Things EP by Summer Twins - American Pancake Review

A simple kick drum with a solid bass wrapped around it. This is how the The Good Things starts out on the Summer Twins EP by the same name. Five measures in - a hooky guitar adds flavor, thirteen measures further - pretty female vocal ooohs, 21 measures - wonderful trancy lead guitar lines. The slow build up strained my unfortunately short attention span. It is not until 29 measures go by or 1 minute and 8 seconds that the song kicks in fully with vocals and all those aforementioned elements filling the voids. And fill the voids they do. The sound is lush and dreamy and from an alternative pop sense, intricate and textured. Not only is the long intro unexpected, when the song seems to shift into a bridge, it isn't one but rather a stark change that plays itself out. I like that and despite my A.D.D, I appreciate that the Summer Twins put aside regular pop conventions and let this song build at it's own pace. Already the Summer Twins, sisters Chelsea (guitar, vocals) and Justine Brown (drums, vocals), Ivan Aguirre (guitar) and Danny Delgado (bass) are offering up some tasty surprises.

Track 2 - Good Friends screams out a little 1960's Brit Pop melted on top of the Shangrilas then erupts into psychedelic tropical pop.

Track 3- Shake versus Snow offers thick vocal harmonies and sparkly guitar picked rhythms that sound at once familiar but bright and loud like that favorite 90's Cosby sweater in the back of your closet. I swear that Chelsea Brown's vocals sounded a bit like Anabelle Lwin's (best known for 80's / 90's African infused post punk band Bow Wow Wow).

Track 4- The More I Think of You has a full rhythm guitar that drives along this Cardigan-esque song but discards the vocal harmonies present in the rest of the EP for a primarily single vocal. The sweet dream pop (again anchored in the 1960's Brit pop feel) that evokes skipping down clean sidewalks amidst nicely kept lawns belie the lyrics that talk about innocence lost and broken hearts.

Track 5- Behind the Scenes with it's airy guitars and melancholy feel once again is pure dreamy pop and tugs at those places constructed out of faded diaries and childhood summers.

Track 6- Crying in my Sleep (to me, the finest track on the EP) starts off with a plucked reverbed chords that are subdued in the mix. The progression has a touch of swamp blues in there (that could be mistaken for Jack White's porch performances) and soon gets embraced by lively drum highlights, bright guitar counterpoints and a tight bass line along with those Summer Twins vocal harmonies. Every element fits like musical gears intertwined and move this pop lullaby lovingly along as Chelsea and Justine sing about a dream life or a life of dreams, I'm not sure which.

The Good Things EP is my introduction to Summer Twins and started off a bit slow and tentative, like some of the songs weren't fully flushed out. NOT that this is a bad thing. I actually liked all the songs but the last three songs seem to me to be a bit more realized and the last song, Crying in my Sleep with it's bluesy foundation and layers of sound could be Summer Twins' signature song (their classic). Recorded and produced by Andrew Christmas (except for "The Good Things" recorded and produced by Lucas Drake) the songs sound quite good although I do think that a couple of the mixes are spotty. In particular, on Good Friends, the drums are mixed so far back that some of Justine's fills get lost and the song, over all, could benefit from more bottom. Also, as beautiful as the vocals are- on some songs it is very difficult to make out the lyrics (which is more typical than not these days). In fact, I was scurrying about on line looking for the Summer Twins lyrics but didn't have much luck.

Final thoughts: Summer Twins create dreamy pop sounds that leave you wanting more. Do yourself a favor and download their EP here: Summer Twins - The Good Things
and if you like it- BUY IT-
 Also, search Summer Twins out and catch one of their shows. I know I will.

-Adler Bloom

The Summer Twins - The Good Things (EP)
All songs written by Summer Twins
Chelsea Brown (guitar, vocals)
Justine Brown (guitar, vocals)
Ivan Aquirre (Guitar)
Danny Delgado (bass)
Recorded and produced by Andrew Christmas
Except "The Good Things" recorded and produced by Lucas Drake

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lost Video Footage, ADAPD and the wonderful - Dirt Dress

Jeesus.. there are only so many hours in the day and some times after I shoot videos of bands the resulting footage simply gets dumped on my external hard drive only to be consigned to potential oblivion by my own brand of ADAPD (Attention Deficit and Procrastination Disorder)- so these next couple of days I will be posting up some random videos of some great bands. First one in the loop is Dirt Dress. I love these guys energy and really dig Noah's vocals. His voice exudes a raw "I don't give a shit what you think" air and I like that. Crank the audio up and enjoy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Silver Lake Jubilee 2011 - AP Pics

Next year we will be sure and take more pics of all the wonderful folks who attend this stellar event-
You can view the pics at our Flikr page- American Pancake Flikr
AND do not forget to check out our BEST OF AWARDS (of the Silver Lake Jubilee 2011) below


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Best of the Silver Lake Jubilee Awards 2011- AP Review

 Well, the 2011 Silver Lake Jubilee is once again a passing fancy and I will resist making any comedic remarks centered around all the "rapture" nonsense except to say it was delightful to see a cute little toddler shaking his groove thing to the Blondie song Rapture ironically playing over the Santa Monica stage sound system. The great thing about the Jubilee is that there is so much going on. The not so great thing is that it all seems to be going on at the same time so you have to either pick your poisons or run back and forth to see snippets of as many acts as you can. Despite a temporary bum right foot (don't ask) I opted for the latter, limping around and trying to get a feel for as many things as possible and after one too many beef sticks and one too little beers I enthusiastically give you:

1) -The Largest Band with a saxophone player wearing a white Saturday Night Fever Suit Award goes to...   Jail Weddings. Not only did they have ten members in the band AND the sax player was wearing a sporty all white suit, their version of 50's doo wop meets post punk meets country western rockabilly barrels over you before you can even decide if you were at a rock show or Broadway musical. In the end it doesn't matter- it is all B- movie fun. Lead singer Gabriel Hart proves once again that he is the hardest working man in rock and roll.

2) -The Best Kristen Wiig Impersonation Award goes to...  Tiffany Preston of Rainbow Arabia. Tiffany on electric guitar, and her keyboardist husband Danny created this trippy blend of world music meets straight dance pop that, at times, reminded me a bit of M.I.A. Tiffany knows how to use effects on her voice and stirred up the crowd with tasty guitar lines and African inspired dance moves. AND yes, she does look like Kristen Wiig.

3) -The Most Offensive Thing Uttered over a Public Address System Award goes to...  Iliza Shlesinger hosting the comedy showcase. During a hilarious rant on the ridiculousness of the overly intense 5 Gum commercials she ends her diatribe with the image of falling down a snow covered mountain while being face fucked by a polar bear which literally sent a woman and her child (who were sitting in the front row) running away in search of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band.

4) -The Band Most likely to be in the Federal Witness Protection Program Award goes to....  The Finches. Singer songwriter Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs has expanded her duo into a full on band with a wonderful result blending rich harmonies into folk masterpieces with a decidedly somber tone which makes things all the more fun BUT on the Sunset stage the entire band was wearing all manner of hair (or feathers) on their faces. The most creative being Carolyn herself who seemed to sport a reverse bob covering her entire face.

5) -The Best Teriyaki Burger under 7 bucks Award goes to... Neri's Curbside Cravings Food Truck. I did not expect to be gastronomically blown away as I hobbled up to Neri's white food truck but I was. Most items were only 6 bucks including the teriyaki burger which caught my eye as one of the nice servers handed it down to a customer. OMG- this creation was incredible! A pure masterpiece on the plate and in my mouth. Little did I know that Neri and Romy Seneres started Neri's Restaurant in 1985 and this food truck was an outgrowth of that successful eatery.

6) -The Most Photographed Man at the Jubilee Award goes to...  (hands down) Dante White Aliano from Dante versus Zombies. Remember Pee Wee Herman's declaration, "Why don't you take a picture. It will last longer", well not only does the audience gleefully stare at Dante but with every flamboyant pose photographers literally scramble over each other like rabid paparazzi to take his pic. Dante versus Zombies creates theater for the eyes and mind weaving a blend of spaghetti western meets late 80's glam rock. My favorite number on Sunday has to be "Bible Belt" which found Dante climbing the scaffolding during the last third of the song. After the song had ended and while still perched up high on the scaffolding, Dante did an impromptu Eddie Vedder impersonation. Gotta love that.

7) The Most Unlikely Pairing of Band to Venue Award goes to...  The Lovely Bad Things (and friends) at the Eagle Stage located at the Eagle LA Premier Leather Gay Bar. Quite off the beaten path, it was the only stage / venue that was 21 and over. When the surf pop thrashers perform at the Smell, Glasshouse or DIY house shows their core audience are barely out of high school. The band could not enter the 21 and over venue except to play their set. Ricardo from Black Elephant (who was sitting in for guitarist Tim Hatch) had a decidedly- "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" look on his face as he hung in the backstage area amidst the steel chain spider web and this unusual chair. A cadre of "underage" fans who came to see TLBT's hung outside. The stage is situated at arms length from the bar and after their first song someone yelled out "You suck!" It was an inauspicious beginning but TLBT's pressed on and midway through their set they seemed to have turned even the "you suck" guy into converts. Before their last song Brayden (on drums) in a rather understated way said, "I think I saw Mr. Leather 2011 walking around here a couple of times which is pretty cool" which garnered pleasing whoops and hollahs from the crowd. They tore into "Icee Creeps" which got the room moving and the shirtless beefcake bar boy shaking his ass. As some Eagle LA regulars stated, it was a fierce performance.
8) -The- Are they Gestapo Khazi or aren't they Gestapo Khazi? Award goes to... well, Holy Roller or Gestapo Khazi or that guy who fronts Gestapo Khazi, eh... oh holy fuckballs!  A lot of us were amped to see Gestapo Khazi but during their set time another band appeared. Luckily this band was fronted by Gestapo Khazi's lead singer John Roller who has an intense voice with a biting delivery that makes me think of Johnnie Rotten's snarl. Rumor has it that Gestapo Khazi broke up a few days earlier and it seems that Holy Roller is John's latest incarnation. He wore a low slung guitar and growled out songs like "Burn the Evidence"  which made me feel more bad ass just listening to it. The sparse arrangement and piercing guitar strains highlighted John's incredible voice and that is a good thing. Holy Roller's songs are sultry heavy slow burns that play like dark film Noir. Good stuff.

9) -The Person or Band formerly known as Black Jesus Award goes to...  Races. Well, as most of you know, I formerly was known as Black Jesus as well but then I cannot receive awards being that I am the award giver. I was literally drawn to Races' sound in the same way that Bugs Bunny would float off his feet when he was smitten with a girl bunny. There is something quite lovely about their plaintive songs that have an earthy timeless quality full of emotional fills and vocal harmonies. First of all Races has a girl who has this angelic vulnerable voice and, um, well they have a guy who has an equally vulnerable angelic voice. Put this all together with well written songs and great musicianship and you cannot lose. Special props to their drummer as well, I loved the way he added depth to the music.

10) - The Most Thankless Job Award goes to... Ok, I don't know these ladies names but these two souls had a recycling booth where they sifted through all the stinky trash bags and separated out the trash into either recycled material, composted material or just good ole stinky ass landfill material. Bravo for doing this and kudos to the whole eco theme of the festival.

11) - The Scariest DAMN Clown I have ever Seen Award goes to... YOU know- you saw - you had sweaty nightmares just like me... oh god!

12)- The Best use of a Laptop other than Facebook Award goes to... the wonderful Ximena SariƱana who gave a stellar sunset performance on the Sunset stage. Equipped with her computer providing programmed beats and other cool stuff and accompanied by a bass player, the Grammy Award and Latin Grammy nominated Mexican singer-songwriter played an electric keyboard and sang her wonderfully sweet tunes. She sang in both English and Spanish and I enjoyed her songs in either language. One in particular had a Beatle-esque thing happening, the melancholy melody painting beautiful watercolors bringing to mind such songs as "Fool on the Hill" and "She's leaving home." I think Ximena pretty much enchanted everyone who was lucky enough to experience her music.

13) - The Best Band that has something made of Glass and an animals boney appendages in their Name Award goes to...  Crystal Antlers of course!  I love this band and am so looking forward to their upcoming album "Two Way Mirror" due to be released on June 12th. Johnny Bell's gravelly vocals never sounded better and his bass had that perfect touch of fuzz as Crystal Antlers played an amazing set. Summer Solstice is one of my favorite songs starting off slowly with Cora Foxx's keys, Andrew King's trancy guitar strains, and Kevin Stuart's sparse drum beat. Johnny's fanning bass line builds it slowly and by the time Damien Edwards adds his amazing energy on percussion the song lifts me off my feet. It is like all Crystal Antlers songs, alive with ebbs and flows and energy that takes the sounds from melancholy to jubilant. When their songs hit that fever pitch of jammy distorted rock their is nothing better. From their house shows to large stages, these guys never ever disappoint.

14) - Best Ryan Seacrest Impersonation Award goes to: Barry McLaughlin, the announcer on the Sunset stage!

15) - Best Vince Vaughn Impersonation Award goes to: The announcer on the Santa Monica stage!

16) - Best Booty Ass Award goes to: A tie between THAT girl in Love Grenades and the Beefcake bar boy at the Eagle Gay bar.

Well, this article is getting way too long and I am approaching my deadline. Kudos to all the great acts that also rocked my socks off-
Tremors, Black Flamingo, The Black Apples, Pangea, Audacity, Lady Danville, Love Grenades, Slang Chickens and fucking hilarious comics Mark Ellis and Pete Holmes. And to all the others that I did not get a chance to see, I am currently working on cloning myself.

Adler Bloom

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dante versus Zombies, The Lovely Bad Things, Bolt from the Blue and Stay Cool Forever

Dante White Aliano from Dante versus Zombies mentioned to me that the drive out to Pomona felt like a jaunt through a farm town until they hit the Art Walk which then felt more like New York and while one would be hard pressed to actually mistake Second Street for some Manhattan enclave, Pomona during it's Art Walk is teaming full of people all charged up for a good time. The streets get blocked off at the Glasshouse and crowds gather for food, indie music, art and the occasional fist fight. All that and more happened on Saturday, the 14th. My mission was seeing Dante versus Zombies, The Lovely Bad Things, Bolt from the Blue and Stay Cool Forever at Aladdin Jr.

Stay Cool Forever are 3 kids from Pomona who looked so young I would wager a Heineken that I have t-shirts that are older. Equipped with keyboards, programmed rhythms, a guitar, effects and a drum or two they swirled up a dreamy synth pop stew that was part Nintendo soundtrack, part tropical pop, part experimental and all very infectious in a cotton candy sort of way. On one song the pitch bends and happy beat turned into a surreal dance where I imagined that our bones had disappeared and we all became rubbery. I was slapped back into reality when the vocals turned into yelps and what sounded like a dolphin laughing. I assure you, I was completely sober at the time. Another song that built on it's own synth sustains and layered vocals reminded me of London's dreamy Still Corners. The songs were short and seemed like they were still evolving but I enjoyed the exuberance, the youthful exuberance.

 Raziel, Francisco and Enrique (Bolt from the Blue) play rock painted up with blues, funk and other head banging colors. BFTB stirred up sounds (in my mind) like Thin Lizzy, MC5, and even bands like Living Color. Raziel's puts his entire body into his guitar playing and his gritty vocals added bite to the songs served up with full bottom bass by Francisco and lively drum work courtesy of Enrique. These songs could of strayed into all too familiar rock terrain if not for the heavy infusion of funk and soul that dripped off the guitar lead bends and back beats. Amazingly, they rocked out James Brown's - "I feel Good." Afterward Raziel stating that James Brown must be rolling over in his grave. I beg to differ, I imagine Mr. Brown was doing the splits in praise.

 *WARNING* WARNING* MOSH ZONE*  If you think for one bloody moment that you can simply do the head bob or dance in your own little space a few rows back at a Lovely Bad Things show then you are sadly mistaken because while you are lost in their brazen garage / surf rock assault you will more than likely feel a bunch of bodies slam into you and nearly knock you on your ass. This would be the case tonight as the crowd swelled as they took the stage. TLBT's songs move from the frenetic of the mosh to dancing on the beach. "Icee Creeps" barrels over you with a double time beat and vocals that invite you to scream along only to shift into a break that is steeped in California surf culture with tom tom beats and heavy dirty guitar chords. "Kevin" is hyper and catchy with a bridge that got the crowd pogo-ing. "Old Ghost" churns like a locomotive and "Cult Life" is bitter sweetly upbeat. All the players shift instruments even taking turns behind the drum kit. Sonically, think Black Lipsish, Pixieish, but not. Lauren, Brayden, Tim and Camron sweat and move on stage and ask their audience to do the same. The music is so infectious that complying is not all that hard to do.

 Dante from Dante versus Zombies moves his lanky frame with a grand fluidity like he is made of rubber instead of flesh and bones. I imagine if he was in a car crash and stone sober he would walk away as if he was drunk as hell. A veteran of countless bands and musical projects, Dante is the consummate entertainer who knows how to hold the audience in the palm of his hand. With his jet black hair, velveteen jacket and rock flamboyance he reminded me of a cross between Pelle Almqvist of the Hives, Mick Jagger, and (dare I say) Jim Carrey. The first thing he did was assign someone in the audience to be the safety captain during the show because, as he said, "We are a safety conscious band." Dante versus the Zombies pumps out songs full of jangly guitars and moving bass lines creating a sound that inhabits some space in between spaghetti westerns, sci-fi, and retro post punk and they also dress for the party. In fact, back up singer Laena was adorned in what appeared to be a hot pink burqa, her face covered for the entire show. Gabriel and Matt with their nearly matching hollow body Gibsons played off each other well along with bassist Jada and drummer Jeff. The songs, like Dante, have a flair for B- movie dramatics. "Branded by Nuns" swings wonderfully with western guitars like some Adam Ant song. "Oblivion" burns like a 50's leather jacketed tear jerker and "Bible Belt" has fantastic drum breaks and rings out like a Duran Duran song if Duran Duran was into spy caper music. Dante versus Zombies = solid music and cool theater. Fantastical.

- Adler Bloom

Monday, May 16, 2011

Royal Bangs, Superhumanoids and Therapies Son @ The Echo- Live AP review

When you hear Alex Jacob (Therapies Son) sing in hushed effected tones amidst a dreamy sound bed of choral synth sounds often times sewn together by a carnival like bass down beat and melodic guitar leads you are literally transported to another place. Alex has so much going on, something back masked, scratchy needle on vinyl sounds, pitched whispers and more that the compositions beg you to shut your brain off and just listen. Absent of all the psyche stirring vocal effects and ambient sounds on the record many of the songs that he performed at the Echo (off his critically acclaimed EP Over the Sea) lost some of the dreaminess but this live stripped down affair was still so easy to love especially with the addition of the bassist (cellist) and a great drummer. Therapies Son ran through all or most of the current EP."Touching Down" is still such a stand out piece of music, you cannot help but get wrapped up in the lead that is at once, bluesy and jazzy. "Golden Girl" strides the line between a lazy Sunday morning drive and a jubilant dance. "Yellow Mama" fools you with a sullen beginning and then goes back to the carnival. The comparisons are many, John Lennon, the Flaming Lips, Beach House and while those sound images may come to mind as you listen to Therapies Son, Alex's songs are much more internal and a whole lot less commercial. The music holds onto the wonderfully strange and I like that. Therapies Son is an apt name because you get the sense that he is not singing to us but introspectively singing to himself.

The first time I heard "Hey Big Bang" by Superhumanoids I became instantly smitten with Sarah Chernoff's vocals. The sparse and glossy production is part krautrock, (or in this case krautpop) part late 80's new wave, and part romantic pop. Their set at the Echo pulsated with an electronic heart in songs like "Persona." Free from the rhythmic record scratches, I especially loved "Contemporary Individual" live. It seemed to breath a bit more with Cameron Parkin's evocative vocals anchoring the spatial composition amidst the musical ebbs and flows and beautiful harmonies. Because their songs are played and sung so perfectly and all the instruments (save the bass) have a patina of electronica on them, Superhumanoids could be accused of sounding a bit too calculated, too robotic but then maybe this it their point - their name, after all, has "humanoid" in it. For me, it is Parkin's and Chernoff's bittersweet emotional vocals resonating beneath all the glossiness that makes Superhumanoids shine.

Witnessing Royal Bangs live is just way too much fun. First of all, I have a special place in my musical heart for 3 piece bands, secondly, these guys play their progressive indie rock with every fiber in their collective body. When you hear a song like "Fireball" the tight counter play between the synth keyboard, guitar work and drums is so skillfully tight (while still sounding jammy) that it harkins back to 70's progressive bands like Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer or more recent groups like At the Drive In or Mars Volta except that the Bang's approach to songwriting is much more personal. Lead vocalist Ryan Schaefer who commands the keys as well as guitar has a wonderful urgency to his singing that give songs like "Back Then It Was Different" a melancholy feel while Chris Rusk's drumming punches holes in this upbeat almost number. Rusk's drumming is an exercise in punctuation. Never one to simply keep a beat, Rusk utilizes his sparse kit so well, working in a wealth of fills without sounding like he is doing a drum solo. "Triccs" - one of the more straight rock songs on their latest record sounded particularly crunchy. Schaefer strapped on a guitar for "Grass Helmet" trading chops with Sam Stratton who's style can be both precise and a bit off kilter but always interesting. Often times he is providing interweaving notes or airy accompaniments to Schaefers dirty keys and heavy synth bass lines instead of just typical chord progressions. Royal Bangs have been compared to Radiohead probably because both bands are intense in the way they approach music but I do not hear a sonic connection. There is, however, something about the way Statton plays that guitar that does make me think of Jonny Greenwood. While their styles are vastly different they both seem to be almost possessed as they play their instruments creating lovely, memorable sounds.

The boys from Knoxville, Tennessee played most of their latest record "Flux Outside" and finished their set with "Slow Cathedral Melt" - a rock ballad of sorts that has elements of the blues, gospel and glam. Dynamically driven by Stratton's amazing guitar work and Schaefers passionate vocals it has a break in it that fondly reminds me of "All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople. It is a wonderful stirring piece of music. As they departed the stage to yells of "More... more", Chris Rusk stopped at a mic and said they had wanted to play a Led Zeppelin song that they hadn't played in a long time. This tasty morsel fueled the audience's appetite and suddenly most of the room was chanting "More- MORE". Stratton and Schaefer looked happy to take the stage once more but The Echo would have none of it. The sound guys voice (barely audible) over the chants were telling the boys they could not perform an encore. It was a bit awkward, a standoff of sorts with the boys tapping on mics that were turned off and looking quizzical. I am sure the sound guy was just following policy because I believe the Echo turns into a dance club at certain times but in the time it took to hash things out, the Royal Bangs could of been done with their impromptu encore. Finally, the mics came on- Ryan Schaefer said, " Here we go. Awesome. Alright... we'll make it quick, we'll just do one. We haven't played it in a little while but we really wanted to so we want to do it for you." Royal Bangs tore into "Bring it on Home"- aaah, yes- the end to a perfect evening.
Adler Bloom