Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Screaming Females on Audiotree Live Sessions

Screaming Females : Audiotree Live : Complete from Audiotree Live 2 on Vimeo.
The amazing Screaming Females---!!! Courtesy of Audiotree Live Sessions in Chicago. ENJOY!!!!!
Love the music they create and love the fact that Marissa, Jarrett and King Mike seem to be as thick as thieves. In fact, I cannot imagine them every breaking up. I got a chance to meet Marissa at the Echoplex in LA and she is just, well, adorable. I shot the footage below. Enjoy as well!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lightmusic - "Remain Unshared" (Demo) EP - Album Review

Musically speaking, Micah Lewis (guitar / vocals), Zach Mabry (drums) and Stevie Kugelberg (bass) march to a different drummer. As Lightmusic they channel so many genres and musical tones that their music is hard to describe. I caught them at a local show opening up for Future Islands and their set was on the far opposite side of mainstream. The EP Remain Unshared (Demo) features songs that contain many surprising melodic twists and compositional turns (as well as a different drummer - Greg Brown). The songs freely shift genres and tones. They are supremely dynamic with sounds that ebb and flow between trancy sparkly guitar and explosive avant garde art rock. It is like the compositions are passive aggressive or bipolar. Throw some strangely obtuse lyrics in this mix and you have sounds that can both perplex and amaze.

Case in point: "Genius Boy" (one of my favorites), starts with pretty picking guitar as bass and drums tightly wrap around Micah Lewis singing in an almost late 40's crooner style, "I saw a bird with no branch she'd given up her nesting and given three red eggs... they are gonna grow and kill each other" and later, "I'm jealous of the genius boy... he walks along, he walks along so easy". These punk jazz vignettes, for lack of a better term, are sewn together with more rockish / almost northern California surf country strains. Midway through on the chorus (or recurring refrain) Micah sings, "you'll be loved like a dove" and the rest is magical as the guitar melody takes over and lifts you up out of your seat. The bass, drums and lead work support each other so well not only musically but emotionally. It is downright beautiful stuff, strangely enchanting. Like many of the compositions on Remain Unshared you are left wondering what you just experienced. The lyrics seem to be stream of consciousness or the stuff that fever dreams are made of and the music takes wonderful detours without sounding disjointed.

The first track, "Memories of Anna" also has a diverse and varied landscape but locks into a more solid alternative art rock vibe. The beat and bass is deliciously straight forward and brings to mind bands like The Pixies and early Talking Heads. I absolutely love this song. The vibe it creates feel like that post punk era circa 1978 to 1984. "Leave Me Alone" lulls you into a sleepy cozy state during the intro, "Pick me a color that matches my eyes (2x)... we painted our faces" - and then the chorus jams big with sonically staccato charged guitars. Lightmusic is not content to go back to the first verse progression after the chorus but picks a different one. I don't think I have ever heard this happen before (or was it an early bridge??). Who cares. It is daring and it works. "Mercury" has a languid drug hazy feel limping along like a Lou Reed ballad propelled by tom toms, lazy guitar, sleepy bass and whistled melodies. Micah's vox are soaked in a big room reverb which only adds to the foggy feel. The last track on Remain Unshared is called "Knock Out" and sadly is only ambient sounds and silence.

Remain Unshared (Demo) by Lightmusic is one of the most original and daring (while still thoroughly listenable) albums I have heard in the last 5 years. The fluid sense of style shifting appeals to me and the use of dynamics to push and pull the emotional arc of the songs makes each one feel like a movie of sorts, like there is an interesting story behind all the musical mayhem. Seek out Remain Unshared, push play, close your eyes and enjoy the sounds (and images) coalescing in your brain.

Robb Donker

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heart Beats EP by Therapist - AP Review

Therapist- a 3 piece dance punk band (from Phoenix, Arizona / Calexico, California) has a lead foot. They happily push the petal down all the way to the floor boards, run red lights and smile for the traffic cams. The Heart Beats EP contain, and I do mean contain, fives stripped down frantic paced songs. Like Death From Above 1979, the music bed consists of only a bass player (Ant) and drummer (Luis). Thrashing around lyrics is Suz.

In songs like "She Doesn't Know" and "Heart Beats", Ant churns out a driving bass throughout and never lets up except to let his bass lines breath in spots. The dynamics are provided by Luis' drumming as Suz sings in over modulated screams and yelps. You can't help but move to the sonic energy. The sound is raw and unscripted even though I am sure every down beat is planned perfectly. Despite being drenched in a punk mix these are well crafted songs and Suz has a captivating quality to her vox. "Suicide Box" - "Downtown" seem to be compendium pieces. On both tracks, the distortion on Suz's vocals are pulled back and more produced revealing a different more refined quality. Luis' high hat work and Ant's trance dance bass line edge these tracks into punk mirror ball rave land (that is until Therapist gleefully fall back into full punk mode at the end of "Downtown"). Heart Beats EP by Therapist is a tasty dance punk treat leaving me hungry for more.

Adler Bloom

Therapist Facebook
Therapist Bandcamp

Video for MGMT's Bauhaus cover of "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" - (Late Night Tales)

As part of the on going Late Night Tales compilation series, MGMT cover "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" - originally released in 1982 on Bauhaus' third studio release The Sky's Gone Out. MGMT has done a pretty faithful rendition, not straying too too far from the original composition but the production flourishes work well and, dare I say, I like this version as much as the original. Bauhaus kept things stripped down (the vocal track almost sounding like rehearsal take) and with it's wonderfully askew lyrics and Lou Reed like bass line, Peter Murphy and the boys created a haunting little masterpiece that creates imagery of being dreadfully poor and wanting for more. While I like reinterpretations of songs, MGMT was smart to stay true to Bauhaus' tone.

Ned Wenlock's animation displays a series of unfurling designs. It is graphically very cool showing city scapes, factories and the every present character playing an acoustic guitar. The lyrics also unfurl and while the whole effect is dazzling to the eye it doesn't, for me, match the dour poetry of the song itself. Maybe I take such a song too seriously as I remember a child hood acquaintance whose family was so poor that he only drank powdered milk. On the rare instance that I would give him real milk during the school lunch break he would gulp it up like it was a savory milk shake. The amazing refrain "Oh to be the cream" as a desire to be at the top of the economic food chain always makes me think of that kid. But I digress, all an all, the video for MGMT's cover of "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" is a wonderful thing to behold both visually and aurally.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Video for Batwings Catwings "Radio"

 I reviewed "Radio" and "Early Exit" here: Batwings Catwings 7" Radio - Review- (Early Exit and Radio) a while back so it has been great not only seeing the release of their video for "Radio" but seeing them live recently at a local venue. The video for "Radio" is deceptively simple, in fact, not all that much happens but what you see still manages to hit all the right emotional buttons thanks in large part to the subtly expressive face of Moses Hariss Jr and the fact that "Radio" is such a cool song.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Local News: The Lovely Bad Things sign with Volcom Entertainment

While the buzz has been in the air for about 2 weeks now, The Lovely Bad Things have officially announced on their Tumblr page that they have signed with Volcom Entertainment. Congratulations to the local garage rockers who formed in La Mirada, California in October of 2009 and played their first gig about 2 months later. We look forward to their 12 inch vinyl due out early next year!

We here are celebrating by popping open Mexican Cokes and watching ICEE Creeps!
AP staff

ICEE CREEPS! By Lovely Bad Things (OFFICIAL) from Lovely Bad Things on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ryan Adams Session for Morning Becomes Eclectic - courtesy of 130BPM

Great article by Philip Cosores at 130 BPM as he recounts Ryan Adams performance / interview for KCRW‘s Morning Becomes Eclectic (set to air on December 2nd).

Totally Random Pic of the Day

Doesn't the guy to the left look like Andy Samberg? Oh, if one could only go back in time, I am sure Andy would be in comedy heaven to do a bit with Andy Kaufman. And who is that mousy haired beautiful woman on the canvass? None other than Deborah Harry, of course.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Joan Jett has still got it- (with the Foo Fighters on David Letterman)

Pat Smear's Face says it all. He literally cannot stop from smiling. This is great to see the iconic Joan Jet still tearing it up especially after witnessing the CL train wreck a couple of days ago. Hey... I think this just about washed that bad taste out of my mouth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Kills become each other in "Baby Says"

Alison and Jamie bend their genders and, in fact, become each other in the video for "Baby Says" (directed by Ben Cook) but the main focus is a cross-dresser's night out walking fog shrouded streets and confetti covered clubs. The imagery is cool and burns slowly but ultimately turns cold and sad, perfectly matching the song with it's delicious post punk detached feel.
- Adler Bloom

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Duck Sauces Video for Big Bad Wolf is mind blowing, outrageous, funny and disgusting all at the same time.

Duck Sauce would make terrible, terrible stunt men because they definitely do not know how to hold their punches. Instead the DJ duo of Armand Van Helden and A-Trak know how to make your jaw drop open. Their latest video for Big Bad Wolf is not only weird and twisted but utterly surprising at a time when there is little out their to slap you upside the head. Yes it is also a bit disgusting and weirded me out, actually made my stomach feel funny (mommy I don't feel so well) but what makes this video such a guilty pleasure is that director Keith Schofield not only goes to the edge of that unwritten boundary but gleefully leaps over it. - Adler Bloom

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Live Review - Thee Oh Sees- Alex’s Bar October 28, 2011-

Thee Oh Sees-  Alex’s Bar  October 28, 2011-

A minor technical glitch stalled Thee Oh Sees Friday Night set at Alex’s Bar. It seemed like guitarist John Dwyer channeled this frustration into his guitar, ripping into a blistering version of "A Heavy Doktor".  It’s great to see a band with so much raw energy. It’s even better when a group is so cohesive that no one member really stands out. No grandstanding. No self indulgence. Their attitude seemed to be: “These are our songs and we’re here to play the hell out of them”. 

Their music has been described as Punk, Garage Rock, and Psychedelic. Whatever label works for you. What I like about them is that they draw from all of these genres but have a sound that is uniquely their own. Having only heard a few of their songs before the show, most of my impressions were formed that night.  There was enough of a stylistic shift between each song that kept me interested.  At the same time they never lost their intensity.

Dwyer shifted from a growl to falsetto for their next song "The Dream" and back into more of a Jagger-like bark for "Enemy Destructs". Both songs sound like they’d fit perfectly in a Nuggets compilation. I appreciate how they use feedback to embellish their material instead of wallowing in the sound.  A friend of mine recently commented that all indie bands these days are influenced by Sonic Youth. That comment stuck with me and I realized it was not meant to be a compliment. Too many bands these days have long extended noise experiments that are as interesting as guitar shredders playing pentatonic scales at warp speed to display their genius.  Instead of this sonic noodling, Dwyer chose tasty leads and only used dissonance to texture the music.

One minor quibble I had with the Thee Oh Sees is that when I heard Brigid Dawson’s voice, I wanted to hear more of it. Her interplay with John on "Tidal Wave" was a clear high point of the evening. It kicked the crowd into to a groove that carried them through the rest of the set. They capped the evening off with an accelerated version of "Dead Energy". This interpretation of the song was hypnotic and memorable, sticking with me long after the band had stopped playing.

The sound mix at Alex’s was a little muddy for my taste.  They could have been singing from the phone book, as far as I could tell, but in terms of a performance space, Alex’s Bar has instantly become one of my favorites.  It has a great vibe and whoever put together the pre-show music mix has outstanding taste. Their $10 cover and $5 Guiness price closed the deal for me.  I can’t believe it took me so long to find this place.  

I wanted to make one last point regarding the opening acts. I overheard a band member talking to a friend after their set. Clearly they were disappointed about their performance. As imperfect as they may think they were, at least they’re playing original music and developing a unique sound. I’d check out any one of these groups on their worst night than see another cover band play with note to note precision.  Sadly, these tribute bands headline major concert venues at $50-$100 a head. Better yet, come to Alex’s Bar to see vital bands like Thee Oh Sees.                                                                                                                                     


Batwings Catwings 7" Radio - Review- (Early Exit and Radio)

Batwings Catwings new 7" release Radio on Gravy Records is bursting at it's own seams. I have seen Batwings Catwings at LA venues and been both captivated and curious about these rockers. Often times they have been at DIY shows with more of the "garage rock" type bands but Batwings Catwings, while lumped into the noise punk indie scene a bit, always seemed to have a more solid standard rock sound. Guitarist Ray Santillan has a Morello-esque attitude and the heavy rock bottom bass of Joshua Crampton and super solid drumming by Clay Johnson felt bigger than the confines of  venues like the Smell and Perespace. Pixie sized singer Dana Poblete's vocal style certainly gave them the patina of punk but I could always hear the alternative rock sensibility of Rage Against the Machine, the power pop sensibility of  Linkin Park and the progressive post punk, late 80's, feel of "Missing Persons deep within their live sets.

My suspicions (and wishes) have been realized on this record. The A- side Early Exit simply sounds bad ass from the very beginning synth that percolates and gives way to heavy drums and a superbly ultra busy bass line. It is a purely delicious intro and kudos to the dirtiness of the synth and the distorted bass. Dana Poblete's vocals are smooth but over modulated and perfectly embedded into the heavy bed of sound and do not be mistaken, it is a full big wave of sound here. This is not punk, this is not garage rock, this is just heavy ass rock with a power pop sensibility. It does make me think of big 80's post punk, I mean, new wave and punk kind of popularized tom tom beats. What ever you call it - it is bigger than I have every heard Batwings Catwings sound and it is more mainstream as well. This song could easily be in the next Batman movie, it is that kind of all inclusive catchy rock song. The B side - Radio also has the 80's post punk feel with the synth and Poblete's voice edging you into the song. It kicks in full force in a wash of power chords and double time bass. It is a good companion piece to Early Exit but for my taste ends much too soon.

Batwings Catwings has certainly surprised me with their sound on their 7" Radio. It is less jammy and raw than their live sound but that is to be expected. I think it shows a new breadth and scope and hopefully they will feel comfortable enough in their musical skin to create both types of sounds and not leave one for the other. That would be damn shame. I look forward to hearing Early Exit and Radio on mainstream rock radio because that is where they belong.

Adler Bloom

Listen to Radio

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Falsetto Teeth - Giraffes on Horseback Salads - Album Review -

Falsetto Teeth, what can I say? Musically speaking, they are the bull in the china shop and the china itself. The music on their current EP - Giraffes on Horseback Salads encompasses progressive rock, jazz fusion, power pop and more, all filtered through copious amounts of post punk, kitsch and cabaret befitting a Tim Burton rock opera. "Rocket Fuel, Sex, Magick" starts with sounds like a whistled walk through a brightly colored neighborhood and then turns into a glammy progressive rock affair bringing to mind artists like Sparks, T-Rex, Bill Nelson and Sweedish SOB Pariassound who in a similar fashion will go from punk to soft jazz pop (sounding like a 1970's Dutch Mentos commercial) in the wink of an eye. "Rocket Fuel, Sex, Magick" traverses this wild terrain adeptly with true musical chops. They are masterful players all the while painting an askew picture of a lad ("Oh Johnny... you've been naughty") who may or may not be up to no good ("I found the devil inside of me").

"Sweet Pill" is a twisted punky carnival ride of a song that quickly strides back into progressive rock licks. This crazy song seriously jams and tugs at you like an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. This song really does feel like it has a narrative, an operatic structure as musical melodies seem to battle each other. "I'm Your Casanova (Plastic Love)" feels like punk glam happily diverting into a dozen different musical breaks, tempos and feels - ("I am just a lonely mannequin looking for the perfect womannequin") - pushing the boundaries of progressive punk.

Giraffes on Horseback Salads by Falsetto Teeth is not for the faint of heart. Not only do the compositions feel like they have A.D.D, the songs roller coaster on for an uncharacteristically long time by conventional rock standards (2 of the 3 songs on the EP are nearly 10 minutes long) and they tell their stories mostly through the drama of the music as opposed to the lyrics. They are wildly different and some people just don't want that in their musical life. I, on the other hand, revel in all that is different especially when it is done so well. Please grab some popcorn, put on the headphones and give Falsetto Teeth a listen... they will paint some avant garde pictures in you brain.

Falsetto Teeth are Alex Noice (vocals and guitars), Nicki Klingenberg (bass and vocals) and Cory Beers (drums and vocals). Listen to - Giraffes on Horseback Salads -   Falsetto Facebook.

- Adler Bloom

Friday, November 4, 2011

Littul Bullie Free Album Download-

Totally Shameless and I do mean shameless plug- and totally free-(for now)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Shows, DIY Hugs, Kisses and Bruises. FYF TheeOhsees and Costumes and Covers Show

EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: This comparison is specific to the party that is Halloween and not meant to compare a show that has original music versus cover music. Clearly I would much rather see original music on any given night BUT for a party night such as Halloween read on:

Oh, yes... Halloween brings out the little, and not so little, neighborhood kids eagerly sugar binging on candy. The spookiest night of the year also brings out the multitude of Rock Shows where the audience is encouraged to sport their best costume hiding behind various facades and, maybe in doing so, become ones true self. American Pancake braved two separate shows that were polar opposites really, one put on at the experts of indie alternative shows big and small, the people over at FYF whom we all love and the other put on by the drummer of the band Summer Vacation.  
The study in contrasts continue. The FYF show featured Thee OH Sees, Soft Pack, Total Control and The Tijuana Panthers playing their own original music at the beautiful cavernous Ukrainian Cultural Center. The Costumes and Covers Halloween Show featured Pangea playing Nirvana Songs, The Lovely Bad Things playing Pixies songs, Cheeto Champ playing Blondie Songs, Summer Vacation playing Weezer and Horror Squad playing Rancid (among others) in an industrial warehouse of sorts, the self proclaimed VLHS (Vince Lombardi High School) - a DIY venue that is usually made up of brick and mortar but isn't always at the same place every time.

What both venues did have in common were audiences that got into the Halloween Spirit and came up with some wildly creative costumes. Unfortunately I faded in between writer and party goer and didn't take as many pictures as I should of but I will never forget the two big guys at the UCC dressed like motor cycle cops in full CHIPS regalia but holding hands and embracing throughout the night. Or the guy at VLHS who had constructed a small child that sat on his shoulders with outstretched arms holding onto his glasses... one awesome costume and I am sure someone will read this and tell me who he was supposed to be. The costumes at both venues made the nights so memorable.

FYF always seems to do it right and I hear that the actual Halloween Show on Halloween night was pretty spectacular. Things moved and worked well at TheeOHsees show the night before but I think the venue was too large for the acts and the amount of people who attended. All the bands could of benefited from a smaller space, their music getting lost a bit in the echo of the room and while The Tijuana Panthers, SoftPak and Total Control all received mad love from the audience, the room didn't erupt into party mode until Thee Oh Sees took the stage and they did inhabit it, own it and kicked ass (check out the video below and the rabid applause afterward).

Things at VLHS felt more like high school. The age skewed lower and the vibe felt more party like. Aaron Kovacs from Summer Vacation was largely responsible for the show and in true DIY fashion put it together with the guys who run the warehouse (VLHS) and are connected to Horror Squad. The show was originally a costume show and later turned into a show were each band picked what band they were going to cover. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I abhor cover / tribute bands but this was something quite different because it was Halloween and the bands not only covered bands they admired but they played dress up too. This is a potent double punch ingredient in the fun department and something that the bands at the FYF could of learned from. Only one member of TheeOhsees and the Tijuana Panthers wore costumes. Pangea whose brand of garage rock hold a special place in my kitch heart all showed up as Kurt Cobain and they brought along a tiny Francis Bean. In bad taste, yep and I loved it. The Lovely Bad Things wore a heavy dose of "golly gee" and showed up as 1950's style Mouseketeers complete with white shirts with their names displayed on them. Cheeto Champ's Adrian Tenney channeled Deborah Harry sporting platinum blonde wig that spilled over a bed of black roots. Summer Vacation got all Weezer braving Argyle sweaters even when the room became a sweat box and Horror Squad came fully prepared as the Trailor Park Boys and won the prize for the best band costumes of the night.

The large floor of the UCC had pockets of people grouped together as well as people who seemed to want to meander constantly to see all the cool costumes. VLHS is just plain small and thus created an atmosphere condusive to everyone becoming acquainted quickly. In between bands everyone would spill out into the back a back alley of sorts where the party would continue. Surprisingly, everyone would pile into the room at the fist strains of electric guitar or a kick drum and tightly fill up the relatively small space. Because the bands were performing songs by such luminary artists nearly EVERYONE in the room would sing along especially during Pangea's Nirvana set and The Lovey Bad Things Pixies set. It was an exhilarating experience. It turned into a kumbaya chorale / mosh crowd surfing pit. Marty Ploy from (wearing a viking helmet) not only shot most of the show with a mini cam, he also acted as announcer and body guard for the bands when the crowd got a little overzealous and while I witnessed Danny from Pangea get accidentally kicked in the head from a crowd surfers messy dismount, by in large, everyone was respectful and looked out for each other.

So which show was more fun? I think you can guess my answer by the amount of written words attributed to each show. House or warehouse shows break down barriers between the audience and the band and at a time when a lot of public constructs (online and off) are putting up barriers the VLHS Costumes and Covers Show was refreshing (and fucking awesome).

Adler Bloom

You can see some of the great costumes here at our Flikr page (sorry I am a crappy ass photog)