Sunday, June 30, 2013

FIGAT7TH Downtown Concerts: The Allah-Las, Prince Rama and Gothic Tropic - 6/28/13

This past Friday, the 28th of June as I was sitting on a grassy rise under the stars just several yards away from the Allah-Las life felt free and easy. It had been a particularly grueling week at work, the temperature was uncharacteristically high for this time of year but that all washed away as I listened to Miles and the boys. What made this end of the week evening even better was that moments earlier I got to experience two acts live for the first time, Prince Rama and Gothic Tropic. After the bands, there was an after party downstairs with DJ Sets by KXLU and Honey Power. All this for FREE.

In fact, almost every Friday night until August 2 there will be great performances at the FIGAT7TH Downtown Festival at 7th and Figueroa in Los Angeles. You can check out the schedule here : Figat7th arts and events

Gothic Tropic

Gothic Tropic is Cecilia Della Peruti on Guitar and main vocals, Lia Braswell on Drums and vocals, and Daniel Denton on bass. I knew of Lia Braswell's work with Le Butcherettes and have seen her crazy prowess on the drums for the now defunct Peter Pants but I had never seen Gothic Tropic live. Their short set provided a great introduction. The songs are jammy post punk with progressive rock flashes, shifting time signatures that switch things up and flavors that sometimes border on tropical punk. Cecilia's guitar work moves smoothly from attack mode to melodic (sometimes off kilter) lead lines held up by Daniel's full bass work. Lia is so much fun to watch on the drums. I was a drummer in what feels like a former life and I found myself just staring at her patterns and solid chops. The songs were catchy as well and I look so forward to seeing them again.

Prince Rama 

Brooklyn based Prince Rama (sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson) create a pulsating rhythmic dose of kinetic psychedelic sounds churned out by synths and live drumming (and possibly some loops or tapes). Trippy and fun, they got more than a few people who seemed to be in their own head space just dancing the night away.

The Allah-Las

The Allah-Las recently came back from a successful performance at  the Best Kept Secret Festival in the Netherlands. Miles (guitar and principal vocalist) was a bit under the weather but they still played an awesome set. His illness just meant that his vocals sounded a bit more gravelly. They played quite a few songs of their latest self titled album to a packed crowd. Their folk garage rock conjures up musical thoughts of the Stones, Eric Burdon and the Animals, the Byrds, the Doors and even Lou Reed. Their sound is kind of cross-generational and casts out a wide net to a wide age group. That was apparent at this performance as people from 5 years old to 50 plus enjoying the music.
Robb Donker

(click on pics to enlarge)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Album Review: Mayors of Miyazaki - HOLY COP " like a heavy black bloody brick adorned with a beautiful purple bow"

If it was 1970 and Johnny Rotten and Poly Styrene were totally into King Crimson, Jeff Beck, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Chester Thompson and Bill Bruford AND they formed a band called the "The Sex - Ray Specs" I wonder if they might sound a bit like Mayors of Miyazaki? This is just a crazy thought that popped into my head as I listened to their second album Holy Cop. You see, M.O.M are described as a math-punk trio from London. So I daydreamed that my imaginary band the Sex-Ray Specs would of moved directly into the time signature twisted jammy jagged musicality of math punk instead of straight punk but back then it would of still been called punk. Shit! I am in a punk conundrum? My eyes (and ears) are glazing over.

Let's get back to reality. In terms of music and music genres, lately the term Punk has more often been an addendum to another word to describe a kind of music. You have phrases like pop punk, surf punk, skater punk, post punk, neo punk, cow punk, punk jazz, gypsy punk and, yes, math punk. I think maybe we all need to have a moratorium on the word punk. Whatever you want to call the music that Mayors of Miyazaki make... it is (indeed) a very potent progressive amalgam of styles. In terms of progressive post punk rock, it lies somewhere in between Jesus Lizard (but more refined) and Pretty Girls Make Graves (but more complex and caustic). Other bands that came to mind when I listened to Holy Cop are Mars Volta (or At The Drive In) and Speedy Ortiz.

The songs on Holy Cop are actually hard to describe except. They all have varying degrees of defiant snarling vocals usually ping ponging between or shared by Gareth Thomas (Lead /rhythm guitar) and Claire Thomas (Bass). Structurally there are multiple time signature with exceptional drumming by Tom Cook. Super heavy down beats, fast passages of sound that are sometimes seemingly chased by other sounds. There are moments of disjointedness that can feel dizzying and then those disparate sections of sound come strongly together like puzzle pieces. The songs can feel quite bipolar at times at one moment feeling like an assault and then becoming quite languid and pretty. The energy while almost always progressive and intense can drift off into a kind of dreamy elegance with shifty, melodic and dissonant lead lines.

There is nothing mainstream about the songs on Holy Cop but if I were to list the most mainstream songs, I would say they are Souvenir (intricate for sure but truly accessible for those who want some power pop in their progressive punk- some of the drum fills are ridiculous), Start After One (as fun as it is fierce, nice indie rock elements with an almost art rockish feel. The less intense vocal interplays for whatever reason made me think of the Talking Heads and some of the guitar tones of Bill Nelson), Tongues (some wonderfully direct attacking guitar lines and bass rhythms that at times almost feel like hyper tropical punk), Get A Hobey (juxtaposition between jagged rhythms and almost sparkly picking ones creates a nice sonic battle) and Muy Sexo (the most straight forward metal punk feel- with a freakin rabid bass line- this song has bad ass tattooed all over it).

The following songs feel to me to be more challenging, more daring and avant garde in styles and tones: Sugar In The Fuel Tank (maybe my favorite on the album- so tasty), Parts Per Million (punk poetry on top of smooth prog rock that gets a dose of relentless heavy guitar and drum breaks), Human Resources (the vocals blending with lead lines is heavenly and surreal. It is a mind blowing prog punk opera in 1 minute and 22 seconds), Dry Palm (maybe contains the most melodically sung lyrics- some of the guitar melodies faintly made me think of something J Mascis might pick out) and Mortise + Tenon (very complex and over flowing lead lines might just push this over the top for me).

There is some amazing top notch playing on Holy Cop all set in a progressive and experimental framework as punk poetry is shouted at each other. It is music that takes time to absorb. It is bold, dense, blunt and heavy but elegant and beautiful at the same time. In my minds eye it is like a heavy black bloody brick adorned with a beautiful purple bow. The shifts in tone, the drastic ebbs and flows make for a furious river of sounds that you may find a bit challenging to traverse. If you like swimming deep in challenging waters please check Mayor of Miyazaki out and if you are lucky enough to see them live I would imagine you are in for a huge treat.

Robb Donker

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Dead Ships Interview courtesy of Grimy TV

From Grimy Goods Grimy TV- (is this new, just might be??) : A great little interview with The Dead Ships: The boys get down and dirty.

Grimy T.V. Interview with the Dead Ships from Grimy TV on Vimeo.

FIGAT7TH Downtown Festival 2013- June 28th - Allah-Las, Prince Rama, Gothic Tropic

Allah Las

Gothic Tropic
Featuring guest MC, KG Superstar
Friday | June 28
Doors  | 6:30pm

TASTE, located on the lower level
Happy Hour | 5:30pm
After Party | 9:30pm

Cash Bar by Sapporo  
Bites Available at TASTE Eateries
DJ Sets by KXLU and Honey Power
LA-based, psychedelic band, Allah-Las performs with a crystalline guitar and slow-mo drums that recall the way the waves take big bites of the beach at night.  

The unpredictable live shows of Brooklyn-based Prince Rama (sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson) incorporate elements of psychedelic ceremony, performance art and dance-floor initiation rite. 

LA-based Gothic Tropic, the brainchild of Cecila Della Peruti, introduces some hard edges to the playful world of psych-pop, finding inspiration from Afro-Cuban beats, and exuberant guitars.  View Video  

Gothic Tropic - Monkey Bars from Welcome To The West on Vimeo.

Save-the-date July 12 and come back to party downtown at FIGat7th with

Lonnie Holley

All events are FREE, no tickets required but reservations suggested through  Facebook or Eventbrite.

Ride or Drive to FIGat7th
 FIGat7th is located directly across the street from the 7th Street Metro Station (Red/Blue Line - quick access to Union Station/Gold Line and Metrolink).

Parking at the FIGat7th parking garage is $5 with validation at the event.

 Enjoy these TASTY specials during your festival visit!
the melt
$1 PBR w/melt purchase. Offer valid at FIGat7th between 4pm-CLOSE. Offer subject to change. Expires August 3, 2013.

Complimentary Dessert with the purchase of an entrée (one per table). Must present offer to your server upon ordering. Not valid with any other discount or offer. Tax and gratuity not included. Expires August 3, 2013.
george's greek grill
Buy any two entrées and receive an appetizer for free. (appetizer max value is $6.00) Offer good from June 1, 2013- August 31, 2013 from 4pm to close.
sprinkles cupcakes
Buy one cupcake, get one free from 4pm-8pm. Must show this offer on your smart phone upon ordering. Limit one per person. Expires August 3, 2013.

figat7th logo
735 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California 90017

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jubilee Music and Arts Festival 2013 - From Dead Ships to Kitten to Bleached to The Drums and the Jesus Christ of Music Festivals

A couple of weeks ago I checked out the Jubilee Music and Arts Festival which was held in the "Arts District" in LA. This awesome little music festival (formerly called the Silver Lake Jubilee) used to be situated at Sunset Junction were Santa Monica and Sunset Blvds touch. At that Silverlake location it really felt like a block party as the bands and fun were corralled in between businesses on Sunset and neighborhood homes and apartments. I mean, I used to feel bad for the locals (some of whom could not get their vehicles to their homes) but the music party was really cool and you could traverse out and visit bars and restaurants if you wanted to and then come back and enjoy the sounds. DOES that happen at any music festival (or club even) anymore??? The fact that you could actually leave and come back made that festival so special.

Ok, enough reminiscing. This new locale near the Lucky Brands headquarters and in the shadows of the 6th Street Bridge was in the arts district in LA off of Sante Fe Street. Gone was the neighborhood feel as well as being able to leave and come back. Frankly, there would be no reason for "ins and outs" as bars or eatery would be blocks or miles away. Free parking was a bitch but not unattainable. Previous years the stages were for the most part all outside (except for the Eagle Stage at the funky gay bar) but at this new location bands rocked on the Sunset stage (with the 6th street bridge providing a rustic gritty backdrop) as well as the Mayra and Hoover stages that were located in old brick buildings. Another building housed the small Santa Monica Stage for literature, comedy and DJing. If you noticed the stage names were pulled from the old location which was a nice nod to the Silverlake Jubilee. The fact that the majority of the stages were in buildings was ok and a good way to get out of the sun. The buildings themselves were old and rustic with just the right amount of urban decay to look cool. The comedy stage building might of been the most decrepit looking prompting one of the best comic lines of the festival from comic and host Iliza Shlesinger who said: (about the building) "pretty sure a snuff film was shot here" (or something to that effect). 

The biggest surprise of Day one of the 2 day festival was the lack of attendees. A fellow blogger and photog I had the pleasure of hanging with joked that their were more photographers than people and at times it felt like he was right. The awful attendance also kind of put a damper on the overall excitement. I guess it was like going to a near empty restaurant. While the overall attendance was lackluster for both days, crowds did grow to respectable numbers in the evenings especially on the second day and the crowd packed in tight for the Drums who was the last band standing on the Sunset stage. 

One thing that the Jubilee festival always gets right is the nice broad selection of food trucks and they had some yummy stuff for people to enjoy. I also appreciated the free Perrier tent by the Mayra stage. I didn't have to purchase anything to drink over the 2 day event. The bands were pretty varied and if you were to have an "indie" gauge that would work in the same way a Geiger counter measures ionizing radiation  (you can argue amongst yourself what indie is) I would say that the indie counter meter would flutter a little at the Hoover Stage, move back and forth steadily at the Mayra stage and go off full tilt at the Sunset Stage. 

The Jubilee Music fest also raised those unanswerable questions that always pop in my mind at other festivals like:
1) Why do people bring tiny toddlers and even babies to rock festivals?? (poor wee ones ears)
2) Does the face painting girl paint faces so wonderfully because she gets paid to do so or does she just love to paint faces??  (she did such a lovely job)
AND finally
3) Who the hell is that guy who is at every goddamn music festival in the very FIRST ROW?? You know the guy and if you don't, I scammed pics off the amazing Grimy Goods. He is a constant at So Cal festivals and usually doesn't budge from the front stage barricade. 

At FYF shows he picks the stage of his liking and hunkers down. I don't think the guy ever goes to the bathroom. I think he has honed some mystical monk like powers that allow him to hold in his pee and poo all fucking day. I gave him a bro head nod at the last FYF and spoke to him at the Echo a bit at the Wires on Fire reunion show in February but other than that he is a mystery. At the Jubilee (because it was not crowded) he was actually able to run back and forth between stages and STILL maintain his front man status at the Sunset Stage which he obviously favored. My guess is that he even had time to visit a porta potty and grab up free Perrier water. Anyway, this guy must be a huge indie rock fan and I applaud him for that! From this day forward I am going to refer to him as the Jesus Christ of Music Festivals.

The Jubilee 2013 didn't feel overall amazing but there were some amazing performances. The new location made it feel like a new baby festival but I am sure that over the years it will learn to crawl , walk and then start sticking forks into electrical outlets. I seemed to find myself engaged between the Sunset and Mayra Stages. Like all festivals of any size, I somehow manage to miss a shitload of bands that I wanted to see. It just happens that way as you end up running into friends or get diverted or set times just don't gel your way. I did shoot a fair amount of video which you can find at here (more will be added from time to time) and some pics here.

BAND Observations (in no particular order):

I have seen Pangea and Bleached enough times to know that they do not disappoint and again they played great sets providing the most mosh worthy portion of the festival on the Sunset Stage. Every single time you see Pangea there is a sense that anything can happen and while I have seen them perform all the songs they played at Jubilee before this was the first time I captured their cover of "Be My Baby" on video (awesome). Bleached having recently toured seems happy to be home playing favorites and songs off their new album ("Ride Your Heart") like "Dead Boy". I didn't recognize their bassist but damn, her plexiglass guitar was super sweet looking. Poking around I found out she is Micayla Grace (touring player).  Mikhael Paskalev (with a band so damn tight) played a great set on the Mayra Stage. I was so stoked to see him and felt kinda bad that the festival was so under-attended as he deserved a larger audience especially since they had traveled all the way from Norway. His rendition of "Sayonara Saigon" was touching to say the least. Another act that was far away from home (and under-attended) was Soko who brought a dreamily edgy set to LA from her native France. Stephanie Sokolinski also brought some sparks as she cursed out of the event staff for rudely sauntering by as her band performed. The Dead Ships brought the full weight of Devin McCluskey's vocal wails to the boomy Mayra room. While I had heard some of their material before it was eye opening to experience them live and led me to their bandcamp and the stunning garage rocker Ophelia

I don't mind saying that every now and then some Tapioca pudding with a hint of cinnamon hits the spot. Now, I don't know if Samuel Jacob digs the stuff and what inspired him to name his stage persona / band Tapioca and the Flea but their performance on the Mayra Stage was full of energy fused out of many musical flavors. They also did a cool unexpected Billy Idol cover. Speaking of energy, without a doubt, Kitten burned their pure rock/pop/retro-synthy/new romance wave/ dance/ power pop blend of music deep into my brain. I will be forever branded by the bands tightly woven sound. The guitar work felt worthy of a stadium show, the bottom heavy bass lines hit your stomach like a rave and teen rocker chick Chloe Chaidez in all her controlled chaos made it all feel like a crazy house or warehouse show. Kitten's songs carry within them all the enchanting dreaminess that is youth wrapped up in rockish glam tunes and Chloe embraces all those feelings in her performance. It is a tight wire act with tenderness on one side and sexy bravado on the other. On the Mayra stage she was in go mode: non stop gyrations, climbing atop precariously stacked PA speakers, beating on her band mates, body grinding against a fan's head and almost shyly pointing out a few of the Kitten die hards that are at every one of their shows. She owned the stage as did her band and their performance of "Cut it Out" transported you to a High School dance in a John Hughes film.

The crowd for Black Lips were there to party and party they did despite what sometimes seemed like a never ending series of technical issues resulting in a set that lost momentum in spots, so much so that guitarist Ian Saint Pe said "Welcome to Black Lips unplugged" and "I guess we're bad people cause God keeps messing with us."  Well, I know the feeling cause somehow I cannot find the Black Lips footage I shot at Jubilee and I know I shot them! Despite the Black Lips seeming frustrated with the technical crap they had to endure,  they still cranked out their usual rough and rowdy garage rock and tossed out toilet paper rolls to the crowd who who proceeded to TP everyone and everything. Jared Swilley ended their raucous set by totally destroying his Beatle Bass and tossing it's remains into the crowd while Ian smacked water bottles out into the audience with his guitar. 

The Drums closed out the festival at the end of day 2. It was so packed in tight full of people that it felt like the festival grounds had been picked up and tilted, sliding everyone at Jubilee right in front of the Sunset Stage. Part of the reason was that they were the last band standing, the last musical hurrah before people had to head home or grab late night eats a Fred 62 or Tacos El Gavilan. Another reason is they had a ton of fans there ready to eat them up. The only band with their own backdrop, they felt like the most slick indie band of the festival. Jonny Pierce in his good-natured cool way announced "Los Angeles. Hey(!) we're the Drums!" to appropriate applause. "Let's try to have a really nice time tonight huh? Let's have some fun. This is our first show in like 8 months so we're excited to be here." The crowd was too and as they tore into "What You Were" the dancing started. They played a ton of stuff off of Portamento as well as older and newer songs. They sounded super tight, Jonny was his adorable self. It was a wonderful ending to Jubilee. 

There were other bands I got to see and enjoyed like Calvin Love, No, Tashaki Miyaki, Yellow Red Sparks, Lovelife and Cayucas. There were about 20 more I wanted to see so much but did not- such is life!

I hope you enjoyed my remembrances a tiny bit. Please check out the Jubilee Playlist I will be updating from time to time as well as the other videos I have shot here: American Pancake Youtube Channel

Please like my (sometimes our) facebook page: American Pancake

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Throwing UP's video for "Medicine" - London garage punk to pogo to

London 3 piece punk band Throwing Up sounds like Bleached and Vivian Girls melted together and roughed up ever further. I am loving "Medicine" and doesn't Camille Benett sound a wee bit like Cassie Ramone? You tell me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First Listen: A.M.A by Maps- Put on your eye make up and dance-

A.M.A by Maps is such a fun track. It glides effortlessly on a synth bed that makes me retro-think of bands like The Human League, Gary Numan and the Buggles even. Check it out, put on your eye make up... and dance.
- Robb Donker

Out July 9th, 2013
Maps – aka James Chapman –will release his new single “A.M.A.” on June 25th, 2013.  The opening track from the new album Vicissitude, out July 9th, is available via download and limited edition 12” vinyl.
The digital download features a remix by the Norwegian songwriter Susanne Sundfør who has collaborated previously with Maps and recently featured on the M83 soundtrack for the film Oblivion
A.M.A. draws you into the forthcoming new album, Vicissitude (out on July 9th) enveloping you with a curtain of thumping percussion that cascades into a shimmering chorus. Soaring melodies and lyrics introduce two of the main themes of the album – change and hope.
The hand stamped 12”, available exclusively through Rough Trade, features the original version, previously one of Rough Trade & The Guardian’s Tracks of the Week, alongside remixes from Dutch electronic artists Legowelt  and fellow Mercury nominees The Invisible alongside a remix from Maps himself.
With Chapman as the sole creative force behind the music, every Maps album is defined entirely by where his head was at during the recording process. His sophomore release, Turning The Mind churns like a hedonistic after party, picking up where Maps critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize Nominated debut, We Can Create left off. Vicissitude is Maps latest triumph---showcasing Chapman’s spoils from his continuous battle to dig deep, confront reality and conquer new musical territory.
As with previous releases, Vicissitude was primarily recorded at Maps’ home in Northampton and was mixed by Ken Thomas (Sugarcubes, M83, Sigur Ros) and Jolyon Thomas.
Vicissitude focuses, tightens and sharpens Maps' expansive sound. The album might have been born from a long period of self-contemplation, but maybe you do need a while to get simple answers to the difficult questions.
Time to face the light.
A.M.A. – Original version
A.M.A. – Susanne Sundfør remix
A.M.A. – The Invisible remix
A.M.A. – Maps remix
Limited Edition12”
A.M.A. – Original version
A.M.A. – Maps remix
A.M.A. – Legowelt remix
A.M.A. – The Invisible remix
A.M.A. follows the exclusive limited edition 12” release of  “I Heard Them Say” via Boomkat. Backed with remixes by Andy Stott and Maps, the 12” sold out immediately, you can hear the a-side here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Water Liars- New Video "Wyoming" and Summer Tour


Water Liars "Wyoming" from Fat Possum Records on Vimeo.





Water Liars premiered the video for "Wyoming," the first off their sophomore album of the same name on Directed by Zia Anger and Ashley Connor (Angel Olsen), the "quietly despairing"  Wyoming, which has been praised by ALL MUSIC GUIDE, ALTERNATIVE PRESS, AMERICAN SONGWRITER, CMJ, MTV HIVE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, and PENTHOUSE, among others, was released on March 5th, 2013 via Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum.

Water Liars - whose recent live sessions with Baeble Music, Daytrotter, and HearYa debuted online over the past two weeks - will also next release a 7-inch single, 'Moon Over Madison,' on August 6th, 2013. The single features the title-track Hasil Adkins cover and new original "The Turnaround" as a B-side, and is available for pre-order here:

The Mississippi-based duo of Justin Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant (with touring bassist GR Robinson in tow) are currently a week into their June tour, playing tonight at Last Exit Live in Phoenix, AZ. The tour will take Water Liars throughout the western US - including two Los Angeles shows this weekend - before winding them back south to wrap up on June 29th at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, AR. The band will also perform a handful of dates in the southeast in late July and mid-August before traveling to Raleigh, NC for the Hopscotch Music Festival September 5-7th. A current itinerary is below.

Recorded in their now-hometown of Water Valley in late September, Wyoming is Water Liars' second LP released in just under a year. At the core of the album are stories of specific, intimate moments that can't help but ring universally true. The band favors simplicity and ample space in their songs, while Kinkel-Schuster's clear, plaintive vocals add to Wyoming's warm yet heartsick expanse. The album ranges musically from contemplative, bluesy waltzes ("Backbone") to lonely, tempered howls ("Fake Heat"); from soulful, heartached swings ("Cut A Line," "You Work Days I Work Nights") to upbeat, but wistful resignations ("Linens").  These 11 uncluttered songs resonate all the way from the breezy, buzzing opener "Sucker" to the closing feedback of "Fire."

Water Liars tour dates:

JUNE 13            PHOENIX, AZ                                 LAST EXIT LIVE
JUNE 14            TUCSON, AZ                                  PLUSH
JUNE 15            SAN DIEGO, CA                             SODA BAR
JUNE 16            LOS ANGELES, CA                        ECHO COUNTRY OUTPOST
JUNE 17            LOS ANGELES, CA                        ORIGAMI VINYL IN-STORE
JUNE 19            SAN FRANCISCO, CA                    HEMLOCK TAVERN
JUNE 20            DAVIS, CA                                     SOPHIA'S THAI KITCHEN
JUNE 22            SEATTLE, WA                               COMET TAVERN
JUNE 23            CALDWELL, ID                               BIRD SHOP
JUNE 24            BOZEMAN, MT                               THE FILLING STATION
JUNE 25            BOISE, ID                                      NEUROLUX
JUNE 26            SALT LAKE CITY, UT                     KILBY COURT (Crucial Fest)
JUNE 27            DENVER, CO                                 HI-DIVE
JUNE 28            SPRINGFIELD, MO                        LINDBERG'S
JUNE 29            FAYETTEVILLE, AR                       NIGHTBIRD BOOKS
JULY 25            OXFORD, MS                                 PROUD LARRY'S
JULY 26            MEMPHIS, TN                                POPLAR LOUNGE
JULY 27            BIRMINGHAM, AL                          BOTTLETREE
AUG. 15            NASHVILLE, TN                             STONE FOX
AUG. 16            CHATTONOOGA, TN                      JJ'S BOHEMIA
AUG. 17            ATLANTA, GA                                THE EARL
SEPT. 5-7         RALEIGH, NC                                 HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL

Purchase Wyoming via Fat Possum:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tapioca and The Flea- fuse an impressive sonic blend @ Jubilee Music and Art Fest - LIVE REVIEW 6/08/13

Tapioca and the Flea stir in many flavors into their sonic concoctions. Not only does this make for a heady, spicy type of music that pulls in tastes of alternative rock, post punk, indie pop, electronic, pyschedelia and more, you can hear a secondary punch, a dash (if you will) of beats and rhythms that you might associate with tropical punk, chillwave or raggae even. Oh yeah, and I left out one key ingredient... passion. Yeah, every cook knows that this is the most important part of the recipe and you can feel this positive energy from the band and especially from front man Sam Lopez. The crowd at the Mayra Stage reciprocated the love by getting deep into every sound Tapioca and the Flea were putting out there.
Robb Donker

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kitten- Feral and Fearless at the Jubilee Music and Art Festival - 6/7/2013 - LIVE SHOW REVIEW

Yes, I had heard the buzz about Chloe Chaidez and her alter ego / band Kitten since 2010 but this is the first time I have seen them live and this introduction will be seared in my brain for quite a while. I was already a fan of their music which (to me) is this amalgam of 80's style synth filled new wave, light shoe gaze, arena rock and dream pop all fused together in their own way but the live energy they exhibited in an old brick building at the Jubilee Music and Art festival was nothing short of explosive. The band was tight, confident but playing it loose at the same time. The long melodic leads shifted into a sonic wall of sound as the lead guitarist deftly fanned his dirty pearly notes. Lush synths, bottom heavy bass and heavy drums bounced sweetly off the walls.

Chloe as the bands teen provocateur was energy personified. Dressed in a spandex leotard thingy with a kind of tropical shirt on, she left her shoes offstage and stalked, pranced, gyrated, danced and climbed every square foot of the stage area. The building that looked like it was circa 1940 had a section that dropped down to a much lower level. The stage was built on that lower level and the audience barricade was kind of the demarcation between the two levels so if you were to fall off the stage you would drop down probably 12 feet to the concrete. At one point, Chloe fearlessly climbs a large speaker cabinet AND two additional mid range speakers that sat upon it. Mind you, this is at the edge of an elevated stage. The drop from her precarious perch was dangerously high. The stacked speakers were not strapped and wobbled. Falling would of been like jumping out of a two story window. The rock fan in me was like "FUCK YEAH" but the father in me was thinking "CHILD- get your ass down from there!"- Thankfully, she made it down ok and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I bring up Chloe's daring do (that should only be left to a Cirque du Soleil acrobat) because it is an example of how much of herself she puts out there on that stage. She is a wild child with a rock and roll chops, a somewhat pop sensibility and a punk rock heart (which might be in her musical DNA as her dad is Mike Chaidez from the infamous late 70's East LA punk band - Thee Undertakers).  Vocally and physically, she is able to shift from a masculine rock stance to her feminine side easily from song to song or within a song. As I said before the entire band kills it. As I reveled in their performance I thought of different older bands like Blondie, Interpol, Styx (for some odd reason*) and Roxette as well as current bands like Paramore, Cat Power, Cults and Future Islands.

Easily, one of the best performances of Day One of the Jubilee Music and Art Festival, if you have not seen them YOU HAVE to see Kitten live in all their unfettered non compressed sonic glory. Do it soon when you can afford to see them. Once they blow up and it will be before you know it, those ticket prices are going to blow up too.

*Note: I have been getting some flack for the Styx comment. First of all, the bands I listed are not meant to suggest that any of them sound like Kitten, they were just bands that popped into my head after hearing Kitten's awesome set. I don't know why I thought of these bands, especially Styx. Reflecting back there might of been dramatic drums during Kitten's set that made me think of a drum break in some Styx song or something like that. In any event, Kitten has left an indelible mark on my music psyche and that is a good thing. I just got back from the second day at the Jubilee Fest and actually saw Chloe there. I very much wanted to say hello and intended on doing so but at the last minute I felt very uncomfortable because she was talking to some other people and I didn't want to invade her privacy. So Chloe if you happen to read this and you saw a guy in a green t-shirt with camera bag in tow, that was me. Gotta get some sleep, been a long day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Alessi's Ark plays her Sonic Dreams at the Bootleg (with Sam Amidon and Miranda Lee Richards)

When you listen to "Tin Smithing" by Alessi's Ark, London based Alessi Laurent-Marke (and supporting players), you easily get lost in her vocal performance that can be somberly cool, sweetly edgy and soulfully sultry all at the same time. The spartan production works in her favor. In "The Rain" her evocative vocals are upfront once more wrapped up in bouncy acoustic guitars and trippy sounding synths propelled by an airy percolating drum beat.

She will be playing at The Bootleg in support of her third album, The Still Life, that just came out 4/30 on Bella Union. Sam Amidon and Miranda Lee Richards will also be performing.