Friday, December 21

Show Alert: RRIICCEE @ Jensen RecCenter Studio - This Saturday!

If anyone is still in town this weekend with little to do on Saturday night, or if you're a fan of either the intriguing Vincent Gallo or co-founder and former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson, or if you want to be surprised, then we've got just the show for you!

Gallo and Erlandson (plus others, I think) are going to stop by Echo Park's Jensen RecCenter Studio "hoping to avoid musical cliché or jamming" by "composing and performing at the same time". Apparently Gallo doesn't like to apply the term "improv" to RRIICCEE, but they are definitely not going to be performing pre-written music. Gallo contends that a recording "is only evidence of that creative moment" with the purpose of listening "enjoyment". OK, Vinnie, what's the purpose of a live show?

Guess we'll find out Saturday.

Show is at 8:00 in the p.m. Map here. You can get tix here.

Wednesday, December 19

Show Alert: Liars/No Age @ The El Rey - 2/22/08

Ok, I know February '08 seems like a long way off, but you better quickly grab tix for what will surely be an unpredictable evening of music with Liars and No Age at The El Rey.

Experimental, sometimes meditative noise rockers Liars are coming off a great year that saw the release of their self-titled fourth album to near-universal acclaim. While 2006's Drum's Not Dead summoned a tribal Krautrock odyssey, Liars modifies the aesthetic by making it harsher and more primal in the name of simplicity. I'm not sure what they'll play, but this could be in the mix:

Opening that night are L.A.'s own No Age, whose compilation Weirdo Rippers collects the duo's infectious, sloppy, DIY tracks. I just love these guys. Listen to "Neck Escaper" here.

And, before fees, tickets are only $15! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, December 18

Reminder: The Republic Tigers @ Spaceland - TONIGHT, 12/19/07!

Just a friendly reminder to the faithful readers of SSM that The Republic Tigers will be gracing the stage at Spaceland tonight, December 19. Tix are available at the door, and the good word is that they go on at 9pm. Details for the evening can be found at NME as well as on the Spaceland site where yours truly is quoted. Not sure how that got on there...

The boys have been in L.A. mixing their L.P. with Mark Needham, and the E.P. is out now on iTunes. (It was actually on the "What's Hot" homepage. Woo-hoo!) Pick it up for under $4. The Tigers also hit up Jonesy's Jukebox last week, but there's not a full archive of that.

Here's some live footage, but expect things to be a few notches above that...just trust me.

See you there! I'll be the guy in the green gray shirt with a sailboat on it.

Monday, December 10

Andrew Bird: Live @ The Orpheum Theatre - 12/7/07

I caught the incredible, multi-talented Andrew Bird last Friday at LA's beautiful Orpheum Theatre. Joined by DJ KRC (who only a day earlier had booked a flight from SF for a less-than-24-hour jaunt), we grabbed a cold one from the lower-level Tavern and quickly found our spacious Mezzanine seats.

Bird took the stage a short time later dressed in a three-piece suit with shoes that he kicked off barely into the first song, apparently to better manipulate his pair of DL4s. He then proceeded to play a solo set showcasing his chops: bowed and plucked violin, vocals, guitar, world-class whistling and, of course, looping. After wowing the hushed audience for almost 25 minutes, Bird was joined by Jeremy Ylvisaker on guitar/bass and Martin Dosh (of Anticon fame) on drumkit, keys and additional looping.

DJ KRC and I had seen Bird's performance at Coachella, but this time he bumped things up -- way up. The whole set clocked in at an hour and forty minutes with full and extended selections from throughout his catalog. Fans of Weather Systems, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, and Armchair Apocrypha would not have been disappointed. And (t)he(y) pulled off the tracks with a level of musicianship that people aren't lucky enough to frequently experience.

There's still time to catch the remaining U.S. dates, but you'll have to go Anzac to see Bird anywhere else. Right-click, "save link as" the below tracks from the performance. Pics from Losanjealous too.

Fiery Crash
A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
Dark Matter

Thursday, December 6

Hot Chip Presale Password

Hot Chip are playing The El Rey on Monday, February 4, 2008, one of only two domestic dates in the foreseeable future. The presale is underway RIGHT NOW. Here's the password: shakeafist. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 21

The Republic Tigers

Even though almost every show I cover on SSM takes place in Los Angeles, my hometown is Kansas City. I got involved with the K.C. music scene during high school and have kept up with it since moving away over ten years ago. When I go home, I try and hit a few key stomping grounds and visit with some cats to catch up on local music developments. Of course, the internet has made keeping tabs on things -- and actually hearing bands -- much easier.

I came across The Republic Tigers much as I have discovered other music. I linked to their MySpace page through one of the many other awesome Kansas City bands and was instantly hooked by the track "Made Concrete". A lot of musicians blend acoustic and electronic pop sounds, but there was an immediacy and truth to this song that just worked. The layers, the vocals, the was all there. Of course, I listened to everything else they had online and eventually got my hands on their demo.

Fast-forward to now. The Republic Tigers have signed with a new imprint called Chop Shop Records. They've got an E.P. coming out in December and an L.P. in March '08. And although they've really only played the Kansas City area, they will be at The Hideout in Chicago on November 24th and L.A.'s Spaceland on December 19th.

This band is awesome and has a ton of potential. The next year has a lot in store for them and I'll be keeping you posted. For now, I highly recommend picking up their E.P. when it's released, checking out their tunes online in the meantime, and joining me at Spaceland -- or wherever else you might be able to catch them.

Photos by Forester.

Tuesday, November 20

Radiohead Interview on BBC

On Monday, Steve Lamacq interviewed Thom Yorke and Ed O'Brien. The interview focuses on their latest album, In Rainbows, and showcases these two 'Heads in great spirits. Now I'm really looking forward to getting that discbox in the next few weeks...

Thursday, November 15

Wii Remotes As Drumsticks On Garageband?

What will they figure out next?

Some creative programmers have figured out how to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuck as drumsticks in Garageband. At first this sounds like something I would dream, but it's really pretty straightforward. Wii peripherals operate on Bluetooth, Macs use Bluetooth, so the ability to link the two is there. Someone just had to create a way to channel the Wii data into Garageband.

I have yet to try it, but it looks promising. The developers are actively trying to fix all of the bugs and there is a small community of people commenting on their experiences. If things go right, you can be drumming MIDI info into Garageband instead of clicking or tapping away. Apparently the accelerometer information is preserved, so the sound intensity increases the harder you beat. Awesome.

Link here.

Monday, November 12

Live: Jens Lekman @ The Troubadour - 11/10/07


I can't say it much better than mighty Losanjealous can, but Jens simply brought the house down with his sold-out show at The Troubadour last Saturday. But, there is a bonus for you, oh devoted SSM reader: I did get my taping gear out and recorded the whole show. A few tracks are posted below. (Right-click, save link as, you're golden.)

Not an amazing recording, but more than good enough to enjoy. Let me know if there's any interest in hearing more tracks. See the Losanjealous post for photos and setlist.

More recordings TBA.

Your Arms Around Me
A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill
Pocketful Of Money

Live: Ted Leo + Pharmacists @ The El Rey - 10/30/07

What can I say? A show by Ted Leo + Pharmacists any time of year is a good thing, but to catch them on Halloween Eve was that much more special. We half-accidentally ran into Bones, a surgeon friend of The Lady Doc, who turned out to be a big music fan and cool concertgoer. Anyway, Ted Leo (who was born on the 11th of September) was in his usual peppy mood and this flowed right into the music: lots of energy and fun, and crowd interaction about birthday memories and 80s fashion. They played a lot of what I wanted to hear and made the whole thing happen with Leo's tried-and-true DIY methodology. But there was just one thing: we couldn't get over how no matter how crazy and intricate the drums sounded, the drummer (Chris Wilson) hardly moved.

Live: Blonde Redhead @ The Wiltern - 10/25/07


Joined by The Lady Doc and Michigan Bill, I attended the Blonde Redhead show at The Wiltern in October. We missed opener Autolux (who I hope were tighter than their Sunset Junction performance) but found a spot in the back of the theater right as Makino and the brothers Pace began. They proceeded to play pristine versions of most of the tracks from 23 as well as a few from Misery Is a Butterfly and some of the other records in their back catalog.

The band played the entire show with precision and an intense grace. Makino hopped from guitar and keys while rocking her beautiful voice, and she even broke out a few ragdoll dance moves. Basically, the band just rocked.

I guess they were having a good time because they treated us to two encores, closing with "Magic Mountain" (which is the second of the two vids below.) This was a particularly great encore because, by chance, we ran into some as-yet-unnicknamed friends right before and were able to catch the last number together. Great night.

*After several years of good service, the screen on our trusty Canon digital camera has died. The absence of a viewfinder makes the pics a little tough to take and that explains the tilt in the photo of the band. Anyway, I've turned to my phone as a backup until we procure better gear.

Tuesday, November 6

What A Waster

Somehow there's always someone taping Pete shooting up. I don't think this guy will ever kick heroin. But who cares? Maybe he shouldn't. His musical output is both prolific and satisfying, and he seems to be doing just fine with his addiction. He's almost always smiling and joking, and having a good time all around the globe. A court should simply require that he have a driver at all times so as not to endanger others. Beyond that, just let the man do what he does best.

Monday, October 29

The Verve: "The Thaw Sessions"

In case you haven't heard, The Verve have reunited (!!!!!).

Announced in June on BBC Radio 1, the original lineup (non-original member Simon Tong is staying on with The Good, The Bad and The Queen) opted to head directly into the studio and start rehearsals for their forthcoming tour and album. As of now the tour is only happening across the pond, but given that the whole thing sold out in less than 20 minutes, there's hope for American performances.

Bass player Simon Jones has revealed a number of new song titles the band have recorded since reforming, including "Sit and Wonder", "Judas", "Appalachian Springs", "Mona Lisa" and "Rather Be". In addition, the band posted a 14-minute jam session that is the result of the reunion rehearsals. Entitled "The Thaw Sessions" (a reference to a bonus track from Urban Hymns), the track is classic Verve. Ashcroft is in full-on shamanistic meditation mode, McCabe noodles into the outer limits, and the rhythm section groove like they did in the good ol' days. Link to I Rock Cleveland to download "The Thaw Sessions." If you're a fan of The Verve, the next year is going to be awesome.

Sunday, October 28

Quote of the Week

"Rock bands should deal in believable fantasy." -- Matthew Friedberger

Tuesday, October 23

Flick's Top Five Reasons Why Vinyl Will Outlive CDs

Flick from Puddlegum recently listed his top five reasons for why vinyl will outlive CDs. To summarize:

1. Vinyl has outlived every other physical music medium.
2. CDs will soon be abandoned.
3. Digital downloads are being packaged with purchases of vinyl.
4. Album collectors tend to prefer vinyl over every other physical format.
5. Consumers view music as something they access, not own.

With the recent resurgence of all things analog (see boutique Polaroid film production, limited-run 7" singles, etc.), plus the dedication of audiophiles to the vinyl format, I think Flick's on to something here. My favorite point he makes is #3. I first encountered this when I picked up The Clientele's Strange Geometry on wax only to discover that Merge generously included a download of the whole album. I've only seen this on indie labels, and it certainly behooves them to do it. (I know this would be standard practice if I ran a label).

There's also much to be said about #2. Although I have known some fanatical CD collectors, many people are moving to memory-based systems (internal/external hard drives, flash, iPods, etc.) and away from keeping tons of CDs on a shelf. As attached as I am to my CDs, I will never get rid of them. But, I have a plan to transfer them in a loseless format to an iMac and box most of them away.

Vinyl, on the other hand, is something that should be displayed and accessible. After all, the ritual of selecting an album, finding it, removing it, dropping it on the platter, and waiting for the needle to hit cannot be replicated if your albums are crated away. Not only is this process fun, but it make the selection more careful, and I'm much more likely to finish a whole song, side, or album if it's on my record player (and not susceptible to random access, as cool as it may be sometimes).

And there are some albums that are simply a better experience on vinyl. While Papa M's Live From A Shark Cage is one of the few modern albums to be analog from recording to mastering to manufacturing, there are many albums that just feel so much better coming from a turntable. (See works by: Madlib, The Avalanches, The Beatles, Beck (One Foot In The Grave), The Clientele and most dub, reggae, Chopin's Nocturnes, etc.)

There are other considerations. Although many DJs have switched to digital decks, there are some who will never make that change. A related point involves hip-hop: I can't imagine that hip-hop as we know it can survive without the vinyl format. And in the audiophile world, many serious listeners swear only by vinyl. The number of turntable manufacturers out there -- plus the range of prices of those products, from $49 to $49,000 -- indicate that plenty of people are still interested in actually playing records.

Flick's final point -- that consumers view music as something they access, not own -- is complicated and fascinating. There are certainly generational aspects to this. I was right in the middle of college when Napster first got going. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people, and there will only be more of them, that have rarely or never actually bought a CD but have only downloaded or shared music online. That generation views music as something one accesses to possess, but not something one owns. The stake in the content is minimal since it can be replaced at no cost at any time. But, even though vinyl really does weigh a ton, there will always be a dedicated splinter of the music community that is serious about owning their music and having it forever.

One other thing: I'm certain Funky Sole wouldn't be the same if the musical source wasn't vinyl...

Sasha Frere-Jones v. Carl Wilson, or: Musical Miscegenation, Class and Division

Ok, it's time for a cerebral indie theory/state of the union showdown! In one corner is the provocative Sasha Frere-Jones, putting up his dukes for The New Yorker. In the other corner, weighing in on behalf of Slate, is Carl Wilson. Frere-Jones struck first, and Wilson came back almost immediately with a rebuttal. The winner? You decide.

Thursday, October 18

Live: The National @ The Wiltern Theater - 9/28/07

The night before my ten-year high school reunion, with an exhausted Lady Doc in tow, I caught a live performance by The National. I was really excited after seeing their recent TV performances in support of Boxer, which just so happens to be one of my fave records of this year. Man, these guys played a great set to a full house at The Wiltern. They began with "Start A War" and, in around three minutes, proceeded to flex the full range of their dynamics in a way not heard in the recorded version of that track. The band continued with a great selection of songs from Boxer and Alligator. Frontman Matt Berninger said very little between songs, but I do remember a sincere and slightly overwhelmed "This is awesome!" in reference to the crowd's energy. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, October 11


Ok, none of this is confirmed, but a source out there reports that another source claims In Rainbows has sold 1.2M "copies" since its release on Wednesday, at an average price of around $8. If that's true, then Radiohead have sold more than Kanye West's Graduation sold in its first week. That's just crazy, especially since In Rainbows has been out less than two days! Who knows what their costs are, but I expect cheap-ass Radiohead ticket prices when they tour (not that their tickets have ever seemed unreasonable!!!) or some serious do-gooder donations from Yorke & Co.

God bless Radiohead.

Wednesday, October 10

In Rainbows

Ok, gang! Radiohead's (as of now) download-only In Rainbows drops today. So far I have it on my laptop, a CD in my car, my computer at work, and in my Gmail. Nice. I haven't gotten even halfway through it yet but it's, well, RADIOHEAD!

Some people are bitching about the sound quality (160kbps) and I agree there is something left to be desired. However, that's a minor quip given the fact that THIS IS A NEW RADIOHEAD RECORD and it came straight to us from them. I don't think Parlophone or Capitol ever gave them much trouble regarding their releases, but there's just something special about getting the music free of any filters, waiting, hype, delays, etc. It's simply so refreshing to hear Thom and Co. with ten new, solid recordings.

So go get it and enjoy another release from the greatest group there ever was or will be. And for a nearly absurd play-by-play of In Rainbows, check out the fanboys' guide at PF.

Tuesday, October 9

Real Talk

Damn, I love R. Kelly.

Night Falls Over Kortedala

Today is a great day.

Jens Lekman's latest LP, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is released today by Secretly Canadian. Although it's been out in Sweden for a few weeks already -- and although I've ordered things from Jens before -- today is the first I've heard the full-length. (Thanks, Rhapsody!)

The record is classic Lekman: tender, self-deprecating lyrics, lush strings, horns, layered vocals, and an overall sense of charm and wit. "Oh You're So Silent Jens" is a very special work indeed, but Lekman's latest will not disappoint.

Can't wait to see him in November!

Monday, October 8

Black Tuesday

Ok, LA-area concertgoers! Get ready to pick your Battles, because Tuesday, October 30th brings a slew of conflicting acts all around town. Here are the big ones:

Battles w/ No Age @ The Henry Fonda
Kevin Drew @ The Orpheum Theater
Ted Leo + Pharmacists @ The El Rey
Thurston Moore @ The Echoplex
Regina Spektor @ The Wiltern
Neil Young @ The Nokia Theater


Wednesday, October 3

In Rainbows

I'm pretty sure everyone who reads SSM knows about this already.

Just covering all the will be truly interesting to see how the numbers/sales work out.

God bless Radiohead.

*BONUS* - Nice collection of live tracks here.

Tuesday, October 2

The Hood Internet

This website is the shit. Check it out and you will soon see why. Clever, hilarious, awesome.

Friday, September 28


Hey gang...well, too much day-job work has prevented proper updates. They are pending, I assure you. In the past two weeks I've seen Arcade Fire, !!!, and LCD Soundsystem. Tonight is The National, touring in support of Boxer, one of my ultra-faves of 2007. Reviews and visual goodies for all shows to come!!!

Wednesday, September 26

Midnight Records

The always-faithful recently had an awesome article about independent hip hop shop Midnight Records. The shop's owner, Sam Fuston (above), and others expound on their fave records, hip hop marketing, and the future of the genre, among other things. Great, great read. (Photo courtesy

Sunday, September 23

Album Roundup: August/September

Ok, in no particular order are some recent albums I've had in the mix, well, recently. If you're up on things, you'll know that none of these records are debuts. Two are sophomore efforts, several are a few records in, and one album is yet another release in a very dense catalog. This music ranges from respectable to amazing and I recommend checking out whatever you can get your hot little hands on. The list:

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
The New Pornographers - Challengers
Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice
Pinback - Autumn of the Seraphs
The Go! Team - Proof of Youth
Hard Fi - Once Upon a Time In The West

Wednesday, September 19

Live: Animal Collective @ The Henry Fonda Theater - 9/18/07

Last night, accompanied by aspiring rapper Greater Good, I caught a sold-out Animal Collective show at The Henry Fonda Theater. The band is currently touring as a threesome and although I have no idea where Deakin was, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Panda Bear were in full freakout effect.

The last time I saw these critters, Deakin and Avey Tare played a lot of guitar, while Geologist ran electronics and Panda Bear pounded the skins and ran additional samplers and keyboards. Things were changed up a little last night. Avey Tare played guitar on only a few songs, and instead focused on delivering his incredible barrage of chants and shrieking. Both Panda Bear and Geologist ran multiple samplers and effects units. Panda also sang and banged on a floor tom, snare, and a few cymbals.

Based on recent live reviews, I expected only to hear tracks (and interludes) from their latest LP, the excellent Strawberry Jam. Although they played a lot of that record -- including mesmerizing interpretations of "Peacebone", "Fireworks", and "For Reverend Green" -- they also performed some choice cuts from Sung Tongs. The hypnotic "Leaf House" appeared early in the 1.5 hour set, and they closed with "Who Could Win A Rabbit".

After a near-seamless set, the animals left the stage and did not return. Honestly, they didn't have to. Animal Collective delivered a phenomenal performance that truly pushed the boundaries of sonic experimentation and made me believe that they owe a large debt to a secret musical witchdoctor deep in a forgotten forest.

As you can see in my craptastic pictures, the band is ready for Halloween. I sure hope those skeletons are made of peacebone.