Friday, June 30, 2006

My Breakfast With Eagle & Talon

It’s the perfect sunny day on the morning I drive to a café at the base of the Hollywood Hills to meet with Kim and Alice from Eagle & Talon. I’ve just spent a week on the east coast – from Philly to Jersey, then NYC to DC, a rush of towns like a music tour sans music – and have returned home to the sort of weather that makes you realize why you live in California in the first place.

Soon, while finding a spot to read on a park bench waiting for the two members of the experimental pop (or as they call it “leotard rock”) act to show, I inadvertently sit in a near invisible puddle of rainwater. My jeans have a soggy bottom as I catch up on the latest buzz about 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

When the two arrive and apologize for running late, I tell them that it’s good because it’s given me a chance for me to dry out. We manage to get a table without further incident and I set up my ancient mini-cassette recorder after ordering enough coffee to make my ears vibrate, then we start talking.

One of the first things that you notice about Kim (words/guitar/bass) and Alice (drums/casio/back-up vocals) is that they’re really easy to be around… after about five minutes into a conversation with them, it feels like you’ve known them for much longer … and when the waitress eventually returns, we’ve realize that we’ve been gabbing away without even thinking about ordering and guiltily apologize.

As soon as she’s away, the talking starts again, almost conspiratorially, though now at least tangentially about food. (“I used to be into it …” Alice says about cottage cheese, “and then it went away. You know … the love.”)

Once the order is finally out of the way, our discussion turns to the band, though we digress often, with huge ten- to fifteen-minute bits about anything and everything.

I ask them how long they’ve known each other, because I notice that they’re almost completing each other’s sentences, and they laugh.

Kim: “That’s what every single person says.”

Alice: “Also, when we walk, she has to be on the… what?”

Kim: “Left side.”

Alice: “So towards the street…”

Kim: “It depends what side of the street you’re on.” (She laughs.)

Alice: “So, how long… Since 2003, right?”

Kim: “That’s when we met.”

Around that time, Alice had recently arrived back in the states from teaching English in Taiwan and Kim came from New York, where she’d been doing musical theatre.

Kim: “Isn’t this the first time you’ve ever seen me order French Toast?”

Alice: “That looks really delicious…”

Kim: “Yeah, it does look good.”

Alice: “It’s not like French Toast sticks.”

On her return, Alice joined her sister Alanna's band Fascinoma. When her role in the act seemed tenuous at one point, she looked for a second band to work with and answered a Craig’s List ad for an act looking for a drummer. And when that band eventually dissolved, Alice and Kim continued working together and about six months later began playing out under the name Eagle & Talon.

Flash-forward to present day, they’ve since self-released an EP and completed a tour around the country opening up sold-out shows for the Australia singer, Sia.

Kim: “We were really lucky. It was the best first tour experience you could have. So many of our friends have talked about going on these tours where they were playing to ten people in a bar who really weren’t listening.”

Alice: “There were just a few that weren’t sold-out. And even when they weren’t, it was still like four hundred, five hundred people…”

Now back in town though, Eagle & Talon’s days as a strict duo-act may soon be at the end, as they’re auditioning for a “bass and/or second guitar player.”

Alice: “Yeah, duos… There are a lot of duos. Maybe it’s hard to find a third band member.”

Kim: “We don’t want to be a duo.”

Alice: “And it’s like the longer we do it, the more people are into us being a duo.”

Kim: “We want a bass player. We’ve met a lot of bass players. A lot.”

Alice: “We’ll give up for long periods of time…”

Kim: “… And then we’ll meet with seven.”

We then end up talking about skull rings for roughly ten-minutes or more. I’ve just gotten a new one in Philly to replace the spiked monstrosity I’d had for years then lost, and I’ve all but convinced Kim to pick one up herself. Because it’s VERY METAL. But, Alice? Not so much. Handing mine back, she says, “Yeah, this is the first and last one I need to try.”

Then, I remember that we’re there to talk music and ask about their influences.

Kim: “The bands that I like aren't necessarily bands that I'm influenced by… I listen to a lot of music that is outside of our genre, so it's difficult to draw parallels. Like, I really love the musical, Sweet Charity. I definitely grew up listening to a lot of girl bands or girl-fronted bands, like Helium, Jale, Kim Deal stuff, Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth... I can go on forever about bands or artists that I love, but it doesn’t seem relevant to me in regards to song writing. Or maybe I don't notice it seeping in… I don't know, I don't think so.”

Alice: “I was friends with a lot of jazzheads in Cleveland and basically the only live gigs I ever went to were theirs or ones they invited me to. So, even though what I do is basically considered rock, I think a lot of my musical sensibilities were influenced by watching a bunch of jazz guys on kit. But bands I’ve loved? Radiohead … Who hasn't? Neutral Milk Hotel, Depeche Mode, Cat Power, Jeff Buckley, Sinead O'Connor, Cat Stevens, The Pixies. I like oldies and for a little while I was really into electronica like Squarepusher, Autechre, and Aphex Twin.”

I ask them what’s next and they talk about how they’d like to tour again and plan to do a full-length.

Kim: “We have a lot of songs. We have too many songs for an album. We write pretty often.”

Alice: “We're for sure recording a full-length this year. Possibly in Montreal, maybe in LA. It's still in the works, but we're definitely doing it. And we're in the middle of recording our first video for the song Dropped Down. So far it's involved getting covered in baby powder, dirty bath water, and white tissue paper… What's wrong with us?”

We start to discuss other current LA bands (like Cold War Kids, The Happy Hollows, and Ninja Academy, to name a few) and how SPIN recently called Silver Lake “the most vibrant music scene in the country.” It’s nice to see that people are noticing, I say.

And then, like throughout most of the discussion, we go off on another tangent for ten-minutes. This time, about tattoos.

Eventually, the check comes and we head out, all hugs and high-fives. It's still sunny out, still that beautiful Californian day, and we talk about upcoming shows all the way to our cars.

Eagle & Talon are playing on Thursday, July 6th at the Unknown Theater in Hollywood, on Thursday, July 20th at The Prospector in Long Beach, and on Friday, July 28th at the Il Corral.

Photo by George Tapia, who can be reached at paperthin.silence@yahoo.com.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Band of the Week: Cold War Kids

Hearing Whittier’s Cold War Kids perform live can be pretty goddamn surprising, if you’re not expecting it. They simply sound so different from all the rock and pop that’s playing out right now that it’s almost a shock to the system to catch them break into heavily blues/soul influenced music on-stage. It’s a head-scratching moment... at first.

Then you’ll hear a song like Hang Me Out to Dry or Hospital Beds, which just destroy any preconceived notions you’ve had of what you were going to hear that night and make you suddenly realize, "Wow… This is really good."

Cold War Kids have been touring constantly this summer, first with the likes of Minneapolis’ Tapes n Tapes and now Austin’s Sound Team, in support of the two EPs they concurrently released a few months back.

Our reviewer Gabriel Burger wrote in his dual review of Up in Rags and With Our Wallets Full that the group “serve up a damn tasty stew of pop/rock, flavored with seasonings ranging from the likes of Television, The Velvet Underground, classic French pop to full-blown gospel and dust-bowl folk. Very intelligent without pretension, it retains an emotional core that makes it much more approachable than a lot of other bands in their esoteric wake.”

LA show-goers who missed them at The Echo a few weeks ago will have to wait awhile to see them play again, but they’re due to play just about everyone else’s town over the next few months and are part of the surprisingly solid line-up at this year’s Lollapalooza in Chicago.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More Free Songs From More Great Bands

We’re going to skip running reviews again this Wednesday in favor of posting more links to free, legal music downloads from great bands, but this time we're expanding our focus from just LA area acts.

Doveman – Teacup
Masters of both “lamp rock” and “insomnia pop,” Doveman’s song Teacup is so good I call it a “flawless victory.”

Rademacher – Playing for Fun
These rockers from Fresno play for fun and give a lot of great songs away for free …

Oneida – Each One Teach One
This is one of those songs that never stops rocking, even when you unplug your stereo from the goddamn wall.

Pinback – Penelope
This San Diego indie rock band have a few songs available for download on this page, but this one is particularly fantastic.

Jeniferever – You Only Move Twice
This Swedish band makes some of the best eight-minute guitar dirges outside of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky.

Pink Mountaintops – New Drug Queens
One of the strongest tracks off the best stoner rock album since the last Queens of the Stone Age.

Click Click Decker – Wer Erklaert Mir Je…
I swear, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I really like this German indie rock band…

Tigers Can Bite You - Rough Stuff Demo
This demo track makes me really want to catch this LA act the next time they play out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 6/26

Balún - Something Comes Our Way (Brilliante)
Who doesn't love Puerto Rican acoustic electro pop? In all seriousness, this is actually pretty damn good. 3hive calls them "Puerto Rico's answer to Múm."

Dirty On Purpose - Hallelujah Sirens (North Street)

Debut full-length from the Brooklyn indie-rockers.

Dr. Octagon - The Return of Dr. Octagon (OCD International)
It's been 10 years since Kool Keith dropped his legendary Dr. Octagonecologyst record, but now the good doctor is back and taking appointments.

Four Tet - DJ KiCKS (K7)
Kieren Hebden is the latest to mix it up for the always solid DJ KiCKS series. Includes tracks from Akufen, Animal Collective, Stereolab, Mad Villain and So Solid Crew, as well as Hebden himself.

Grant Lee Phillips - nineteeneightees (Rounder)
I don't know why, but I've been totally obsessed with Grant Lee Buffalo for the past couple of years, despite the fact that they disbanded over 7 years ago. One these days I'll catch up with some of Grant's solo work, but for now I'm totally digging his collection of choice '80s covers from the likes of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, REM and the Cure. I guess I see why I'm such a big fan of Grant...we have the same taste in music.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "My Chemical Impulses Told me to Come Here. WTF?!")

Man, I swear that the ants in this town can strip your arm to the bone in five minutes flat. It's like something out of an old William Shatner movie in my kitchen right now...

But enough about my pantry, you can tell from looking at this week’s line-up of music that Thursday is going to be a special night for young people. I mean, The Bedroom Walls have a free in-story at seven at Amoeba Music, then Tandemoro and Everything Now! play The Silver Lake Lounge, Jolie Holland appears at Safari Sams, and Jenny Lewis and Lavender Diamond are Spaceland. And on both Thursday and Friday, Built to Spill will roxxor The Troubadour and a little band called Radiohead will perform at The Greek.

And then, yeah, Band of Horses and Mt. Egypt are at The Echo on Friday. Finally. (I've had tickets for that for, like, ferevah.)

In Related News:

- The Movies are taking a break from recording their new album to play a night at The Derby on Thursday, July 20th. (Read more about that album here.)

- One of LA’s best rock acts, Foreign Born will play an acoustic show at Tangier on Sunday. July 30.

- Alt-country bad-asses The Drive-by Truckers have been added to the line-up for Sunset Junction on Sunday, August 27th. (Buford T. Pusser better not come around.)

- If you missed The Duke Spirit when they played recently, you can catch them on September 26th or 27th when they open up for Snow Patrol at The Wiltern.

- Wolfmother has joined the bill for the first day of San Diego’s Street Scene on Saturday, August 4th.

- Imperial Teen, who sadly rarely play out any more, will be here in LA on Saturday, July 22nd at The Knitting Factory.

- The following bands have also announced shows here in LA (see yon fair right-hand column for details): The Minor Canon, Apollo Sunshine, The Happy Hollows, One Trick Pony, Central Second Collective, Tandemoro, Everything Now!, Jenny Lewis, Becky Stark (of Lavender Diamond), Eagle & Talon, Cat Power, The Silversun Pickups, Fishbone, Bedroom Walls, The Grates, Electric Eel Shock, Dengue Fever, Peter and the Wolf, The Transmissions, Bodies of Water, Donita Sparks, Loverlee, Repeater, The Buzzcocks, The New York Dolls, Beth Orton, Devo, Silver Jews, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Silversun Pickups

I think my ears are still ringing a bit from when The Silversun Pickups performed last. Part of their duties as The Official Preeminent Live Act in Los Angeles Right Now ™ is apparently to play very, very loud... Gloriously loud, to be specific, and fantastically well. (For an extended piece on why they’re LA’s best and brightest, go here.)

However, their recent show at The Echo will be one of their last here in LA for awhile, as they’re leaving town to tour the country promoting their debut album Carnavas, due out on July 25th on Dangerbird Records. It’s a release that many have said will likely rocket the local act to national acclaim, a wake-up call to a country that really ought to hear how good they are.

(I mean really, LA. Stop being so greedy. We should share…)

I emailed back and forth with SSPU lead Brian Aubert to discuss this, that, and the other thing.

And here's how it went:

my name is brian aubert.

here is my report.

i call it "a virtual conversation with radio free silver lake."

and a one and a two...

Like of a lot of folks in The Ship Collective, the members of your band all seem like friends. And you’re also extremely tight live, so I’d guess that you practice a lot. Are both of those assumptions true? Mostly true?

it's mostly true today. we practiced today and hung out a bit without a scuffle, so it seems you are correct on both accounts.

mostly...

How long have you been playing together? How did you all meet?

the four of us have been playing together since 2003. but the band had been around a bit before that. i met nikki on a flight to england. together, we met ariana (earlimart) on the same flight. later, ariana met joe and nikki and i met christopher. we then combined our forces. and that's actually what happened.

mostly...

How would you describe The Ship Collective to people who haven’t heard of it? (It doesn’t seem very “LA,” does it? This thing where people in a competitive environment actually help each other out…)

well, that's the thing. because of the nature of the LA scene, it's what keeps you held together. due to the absurdity of competitive art and the viewing of artists trying to climb/step/stab each other to reach the top of the cream and become the stale cherry, it just kinda puts it all into perspective. that's not us. that's not our friends. we actually do this because we enjoy it. there you go. THE SHIP: people who enjoy.

mostly...

How did you come to join up with The Ship? Or is it silly to say it like that?

i'm not entirely sure we actually 'joined'. because we've all known each other for so long, we just are in it. we are all not actually sure what it really is. it just is.

mostly...

You’ve been pegged as “LA’s best kept secret, who might not be a secret much longer” by the LA Weekly. (I may be massacring their quote, but that’s the gist of it, at least.) And a lot of people seem to think you’re going to blow up once this new album comes out. How are you handling all the attention?

it's always nice when people think of you. but you can't really listen to all that "blowin up" talk. since there is no equation to how this business actually works, you just have to do your thing. what happens happens. if you try and figure this out and tweak this and try to make it so you'll blow up, i think you'd lose all perspective of why you're doing it. i would be mind fucked til the end of time. as far as the attention, sometimes it's really nice and sometimes it's a bit spooky. it makes me more shy.

PJ Harvey said awhile back that you don’t really need a producer if you know what you’re trying to accomplish, and, hearing your demos and live performances, it seems like you knew how you wanted your songs to sound. So what was it like working with an outside party for this album?

she's right. but sometimes you're not sure what you are capable of accompishing until someone else is there to push and antagonize you into growth. that's how it was with dave cooley. he pushed us so hard and by the end, we were writing and even playing better that we ever had before. we always want to grow, and i'm not sure if we are at a place where we can do it alone. it's a little S and M esque.

What’s next for you?

we're laying low for a bit. the first time off we've had since may of last year. then we'll start gearing up for the end of july, when CARNAVAS gets released. and we'll be all wound up and ready to go yet again.

Last question: Who are some of your favorite bands in LA right now?

let's see...besides all the SHIPS (you know.. GREAT NORTHERN, EARLIMART, IRVING, LET'S GO SAILING, THE MOVIES, DARKER MY LOVE (who are releasing a record with dangerbird), COLD WAR KIDS, 400 BLOWS, LANGUIS, TWILIGHT SLEEP, MIDNIGHT MOVIES, YOUNG PEOPLE, RADAR BROTHERS, DENGUE FEVERDEVICS, and on and on and on... there are a ton.

mostly...

That's it! Thanks for your time, Brian.

thanks, joe.

Before they leave on tour, The Silversun Pickups will play on July 6 at The Hammer Museum. Details can be found here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Band of the Week: Division Day

I consider some of LA’s best bands to be as quality as many of the outstanding acts that have recently been coming out of Montreal, Minneapolis, Seattle, and NYC.

To me, groups like The Silversun Pickups, Irving, Sea Wolf, and Division Day belong in the same sentence as your Wolf Parade, Tapes n Tapes, Band of Horses, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Some have blown up real nice over the last year, others are due for that sort of attention any day.

In the case of Division Day, you’ve got a band with an album and two EPs worth of immediately likeable, original, self-released material, and who put on a consistently excellent live show to boot. Their recent video from Radiohead video director Chris Levitus and their steadily increasing blog love are signs that they’re beginning to get the notice they deserve, which is heartening to be sure.

I was first introduced to Division Day by my friend Laurie, who played me a few tracks from a sampler cd that they’d given out outside Spaceland one night, all guerilla marketing style. Smitten, I ordered their two early EPs off of their site and was straightaway hooked by their unique and catchy rockness, startling variety, and nonsensical lyrical hijinx, like notes with bubble letters from the underground.

Since then, Division Day have played an first-rate Monday night residency at The Echo, put out the indie rock-solid debut album Beartrap Island, and begun in earnest the process of worming their way into the hearts and minds of young and old everywhere.

Just watch and see. Years from now, you and your friends will ask each other, “Where were you when you first heard Division Day?” And then immediately start humming songs about birds with human hands, wanting someone’s blood inside your head, and being a dirty kid with insects all in your mouth…

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ten Great Free Songs From Ten Great LA Bands

Instead of reviewing new albums this week, I figured I’d instead link to ten fantastic, free, legally downloadable songs from bands here in LA. Cause if there’s an easier way for me to push some of my favorite local acts on you, I really can’t think of one...

Division Day – Tigers
A great track off their new self-released album ... which someone like XL or Wichita really ought to pick up and start distributing.

The Little Ones - Lovers Who Uncover
Download this song off their myspace page to find out what all the blogger fuss has been about. Then, make plans to go see them them at The Echo, Spaceland, and Sunset Junction this summer.

The Western States Motel – Southwest Planez
I can’t recall a song I’ve been more addicted to listening to this year than this lazy tune off TWSM's forth-coming album.

The Green and Yellow TV – Temporary Fix
An excellent track from one of LA’s premiere indie pop acts.

Great Northern - Into the Sun
Another Ship Collective band makes good. Music.

Molecules - Get Out of The Car
Listen to this husband and wife duo play my favorite song off their debut album.

The Lights From Here – China Shipping
A live recording of this ambient post rock band playing on KXLU’s Demo Listen show.

The Movies – Timothy James
These local indie pop legends have my favorite song from them up on their page for frees.

Thailand – The Magic Art
These guys played a few local shows before squirreling away to work on their album. Their Myspace page has four excellent songs off their demo and this one is the best.

Army Navy - Snakes of Hawaii
A great song from one of the hardest-working indie pop bands in this town.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 6/20

Frank Black - Fastman/Raiderman (Back Porch/EMI)
Is it just me, or does Frank Black release a new solo album every six months? Chalk up two more for the Pixies frontman, this one's a 27-track double CD.

Fatboy Slim - The Greatest Hits: Why Try Harder (Astralwerks)
It seems that someone should have tried harder, because this collection is about 6 years too late. I have to admit, at the time I actually rather liked You've Come A Long Way, Baby (1998), even with "The Rockafella Skank" getting played into the ground. However, by the time its follow up was released a short two years later, Norman Cook's schtick seemed, well..."so 1998." These days, it's almost like Fatboy Slim has dropped off the face of the Earth. Does anyone remember an album called Palookaville released in 2004?? I barely remember that coming out and don't think I even heard a note off of it. Adding to the irrevelancy of this release, the entire Fatboy Slim catalog is readily available in used bins for about a buck or two a piece...so why anyone would shell out a full $18.99 for this is beyond me.

Submarines - Declare A New State (Nettwerk)
Cute indie couple from Boston who were together for four years but then split up after moving L.A., inspiring this record of sad break-up tunes. However, in a plot worthy of the WB primetime, the heartfelt songs written about their experiences brought the young lovers closer together than ever, and they are now married. In fact, the mastering of this record was actually a wedding present from one of their friends.

Also this week...

Kyle Andrews - Amos In Ohio (Badman)
Brightback Morning Light - Brightback Morning Light (Matador)
Guster - Ganding Up On The Sun (Reprise)
Keane - Under The Iron Sea (Interscope)
Luna - Best of (Rhino)
Smoosh - Free To Stay (Barsuk)

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Monday Show Low-Down (Or "Too Hot For Skull Rings")

Man, it's Monday today and I'm running behind, on empty, and at the mouth. But enough about me... Here are some of this week's show highlights.

There's a free Languis show at The Echo tonight, while Anchors & Archeticts appear at Il Corral and The Futureheads and French Kicks play The Henry Fonda. Tomorrow, The Happy Hollows play their first show at Spaceland on Tuesday (and appear at Tangiers on Friday). On Wednesday, Doveman (who we interviewed last week) plays along with David Thomas Broughton at Tangiers, while The Twilight Singers croon at The Wiltern.

This Thursday, Hella and The Advantage play The Echo and then on Friday, Neko Case at The Henry Fonda, Sea Wolf and Devics at The Troubadour, and the great billing of Space Mtn, Great Northern, Tigers Can Bite You, and Climber at Spaceland.

And Saturday? It doesn’t look like The Pink Mountaintops are playing with The Black Angels at The Troubadour. Sorry.

The following bands have announced new show dates for LA: Xiu Xiu, Great Northern, Irving, Dirty on Purpose, Buffalo Roam, Muse, and more. (Check out the right-hand column for details.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mini-Interview: Doveman

Doveman's Thomas Bartlett has secrets to tell ... stories about honey on your breath, noticing that your lover's been drinking by herself again, and your life reading like a harlequin romance ... and all of them sung in a whisper by a man who says "the word of god is fine, I guess, but I don’t like doing as I am told."

Bartlett and his co-horts in Doveman are currently touring across the country on the way out to Los Angeles next Wednesday, but he still endeavored to answer a handful of our half-baked, half-intelligible questions this last week.

So, how did the band come together?

Trial and error, luck, happenstance, symbiosis, photosynthesis, hubris, hummus. Sam (banjo) and I have been best friends and collaborators since way back in the day (the six-year-old kind). We've known Peter (cornet) since we were 12. Jake (violin) was my next-door neighbor in the freshman dorm at Columbia, before I escaped the rigor-mortis of academia, and Dougie (drums) and Shahzad (guitar) I met a few years ago in NYC.

You’ve been playing classical piano since you were young and studied with one of the world’s top teachers, but you never wanted to be a classical musician. How did you decide on this direction?

I love the music, and I wanted to learn to play the instrument as well as possible -- and I still do, and will continue to, play classical music at home for myself (primarily Bach). But I like words almost as much as I like music. I wanted to write songs. I forced myself to sing them. I began to enjoy it. Etc.

And the name of the band is based on a collage your brother made?

Yeah, a postcard that he sent Sam, with my head pasted on a dove's body.

What’s the story behind the album’s title?

There is none, really. There's a line in one of the songs (Dancing: "my heart's not an acrobat"), but mostly it's just that it's a word I like a lot. So is "influenza." Alternate titles at one point: "Doveman vs. the Anti-Coze." "Doveman in: Smackdown!"

The songs Honey and Teacup are amazing... lyrically perfect. If this were a video game, you’d hear "Flawless Victory!" when they finished because you kicked the listener’s ass without them ever being able to get in a single shot ... you know, in a quiet, unassuming way. Did they come together easy or did you sweat over them for a long time?

Thanks!Honey took me quite a while to write. The music was immediate, but the lyrics were worked over for a long time, often while trying to fall asleep.

Teacup was as speedy as they come. I had just gotten a home ProTools system, and was testing it out. For the test file, I recorded that organ part and looped it, and over the next couple hours wrote the whole melody and lyrics and recorded it. That's unusual for me, though. Lyrics take me a long time.

All the songs on The Acrobat seem very personal. Are they? Or are you enjoying fictionalizing? (Or a little of both?)

I'm really not quite that miserable, I promise. There are lines that refer to real events, but scattered among loads of fictional moping. It's almost more a personal mythology of heartbreak and ache. And tea and coziness.

One of my favorite things to do in the car on long road trips is to try to identify all the different instruments in each song in The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. There are quite a few in The Acrobat as well. What’s all in there?

That's a great game to play with Pet Sounds, and a difficult one too, that such insane and brilliant orchestration he did for that record. The Acrobat is quite modest in comparison: Piano, Wurlitzer, pump organ, banjo, guitar, trumpet, drums, violin, and a very few touches of electronics. I think that's everything.

You’re touring the country with David Thomas Broughton right now. How did that come together? Are you friends or was that just a happy accident or was it your label’s doing?

A happy accident. We weren't friends before, but we are now. His booking agent contacted us about the idea of a tour together, I was loving his record, it seemed perfect. And it's worked really well. We've been blending our sets together, and having David sit in on the Doveman sets.

What’s next for you after the tour?

We're nearly finished with the next album, so I guess trying to find a label for it. I think we'll tour some more in the fall.

Last question: What bands are you liking the most right now?

The National, Cocorosie, Plush, and Stars Like Fleas.

That’s it. Thanks for your time, Thomas.

Doveman will appear with David Thomas Broughton, One Trick Pony, and The One AM Radio next Wednesday (June 21) at Tangier, which is located at 2138 Hillhurst Ave in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA. Tickets are $8.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Band of the Week: The Octopus Project

All that you really need to know about Austin’s The Octopus Project before you decide you have to hunt down all of their albums can be gleaned by watching this video of them completely rocking out ... with a goddamn theremin, no less ... at last year’s Coachella Valley Music Festival.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Unofficial Music Festival Descends Upon LA

Sure, an army of ants are starting to invade your apartment now that it’s gotten warmer and your girlfriend broke her cell phone arguing with you over the weekend, but these are the salad days, mein freund. Just look at how this week has been shaping up, show-wise...

On Sunday, there was the KXLU Fund Razor at The Echo and Jensen Rec Center, a show which had twenty bands (for $15), among them Lavender Diamond, Irving, Darker My Love, and Army Navy.

On Monday, Languis played a free residency show at The Echo and Irving, Army Navy and The Minor Canon appeared -- strangely enough -- at The Viper Room, while Negativland were at The Avalon and Darker My Love played their free residency at Spaceland.

On Tuesday, Juana Molina and The Watsons Twins played Tangier while Caleixico and The Black Heart Procession at The Henry Fonda Theatre and, um, She Wants Revenge appeared at The Wiltern.

Tonight, The Mountain Goats play music from their new album at The Troubadour while Australia’s Wolfmother rock a sold-out show at The Henry Fonda Theatre and She Wants Revenge return to The Wiltern.

On Thursday night, Missouri’s Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, Austin’s Sound Team, and LA’s Division Day will all play at The Troubadour. Each of these bands are good enough to warrant the hike over to the west side on their own, but together? They form some kind of indie rock equivalent to Voltron and kick your ass a full commercial break before they’d normally have to draw out that giant sword.

But wait, that’s not all… The same night, the Eagles of Death Metal will play The Henry Fonda Theatre, The Vacation will perform at Spaceland, Jose Gonzalez has a free in-store at Amoeba, The Bird and The Bee are at The Silver Lake Lounge, and The Walkmen appear at The El Rey.

Then on Friday, Tapes n Tapes and The Cold War Kids will appear at The Echo, Radio 4 will play The Troubadour, Jose Gonzalez will be at The El Rey, The Fiery Furnaces are at The Henry Fonda Theatre, Wonderground are at Tangier, and Tom Verlaine is at The Roxy.

And wrapping up this spectacular week are LA’s own Sea Wolf and Brazil’s own Seu Jorge at The El Rey.

It’s safe to say that if you’re not going to a show here in LA this week, you’re either deathly ill, completely antisocial, cripplingly lazy, or just don’t, y'know, like music.

It’s like some sort of unofficial music festival descended upon the town without informing anyone...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 6/13

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped (Geffen)
Been a while since you've checked in with Sonic Youth? This fine piece of press hyperbole should bring you up to speed:

2005 had SY revisiting awesome. Japan, touring the boroughs of New York, rollicking at the first Arthurfest in L.A., and releasing the special deluxe edition of GOO. After one final gnarl out in Brazil w/ Flaming Lips, The Stooges and others, Mr. Jim O'Rourke decided to concentrate full-time on his Japanese studies of language and film and SY was subsequently back to it's OG nucleus of Kim-Thurston-Lee-Steve. Songs were written, Jim recommended engineer TJ Doherty and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) recommended mix engineer John Agnello and SY created the oddly titled "Rather Ripped". The whole deal was recorded in the waning hours of 2005 into the dawn sunshine of 2006 at the venerable Sear Sound studios in NYC's fading theatre district. Partially mixed there and at Hoboken, NJ's Water Music by the golden juice ear of John Agnello it exhibits SY in positive vibration mode. 12 songs of forward motion and harmonic/melodic surprise. Vocals shared by the frontline of Thurston, Kim and Lee with Steve groove gluing the rhythms into rock n roll infection.

Mr. Lif - Mo'Mega (Def Jux)
Follow up to his amazing 2002 concept album, I Phantom, the part-time Perceptionist is back solo with El-P back at the controls. According to AllMusic, this one's a concept piece as well:
the album concerns the intersection of lower-class culture with an increasingly modernizing world, and how the latter is adversely affecting the former.

Also this week...

Barry Adamson - Stranger on the Sofa (Central Control)
Tony Allen - Lagos No Shaking (Astralwerks)
Brookville - Life in the Shade (Unfiltered)
Couch - Figur 5 (Morr)
Dabrye - Two/Three (Ghostly)
Futureheads - News and Tributes (Vagrant)
Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks)
Six Organs of Admittance - Sun Awakens (Drag City)

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "Sneezing Like a Pekingese")

If you'd noticed a discernable drop in the writing quality on the site shortly after I got back from my trip to the east coast, know that I place the blame squarely on the doorstep of Oblivion for the Xbox 360. That game was sucking away all of the "free time" I usually spend working on RFSL and I started writing like some kind of junior cub report at a high school paper.

I lent it away last week in order to turn this ship around, because I'm just too weak to have it on-hand. I mean sure, we all get the free independent music coverage that we deserve, but still...

In upcoming show news:

- As the astute Duke at You Set The Scene recently pointed out, Sunset Junction has started to announce its line-up, which includes local favorites The Little Ones, Lavender Diamond, Monsters Are Waiting, Great Northern, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and more. There are a lot of “TBAs” left to fill in, so let’s hope we get even more local talent on there.

- One of LA’s best up and coming bands, Sea Wolf will be opening for Seu Jorge on Saturday June 17th at The El Rey. Band frontman Alex Church says he hopes to have a self-released EP ready by the end of July.

- The Little Ones, who both smile and rock at the same time, have a Monday night residency at Spaceland in August.

- The Foo Fighters are coming to town on an acoustic tour at Pantages on August 29th and 30th, playing the first night with Frank Black and the second with Silver Lake’s own Petra Haden and The Sell-Outs. (Petra will also appear on Saturday, July 8 with Lavender Diamond at Safari Sams.)

- Everyone’s favorite scientologist Beck will appear at The Wiltern with Jamie Lidell on July 27th & July 28th.

- San Diego’s Street Scene festival has announced its line-up, which includes Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tapes n Tapes, Editors, The Subways, The Futureheads, Modest Mouse, Queens of the Stone Age, and more for Friday, August 5th and Saturday, August 6th.

- The following bands have also announced dates for LA: Let’s Go Sailing, Hank Williams III, The Cramps, I See Hawks in LA, Science of the Subconscious, The Like, Darker My Love, Red Kross, David Pajo (Papa M), Meow Meow, Serena Maneesh, Adult, Mission of Burma, Blue Cheer, Goblin Cock, The Minor Canon, and more. (See the right-hand column for details.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mini-Interview: Let’s Go Sailing

When Let’s Go Sailing’s Shana Levy sings "All I want from you is love," it basically sounds like the most reasonable request in the world. So, it's little surprise that the band's particularly pretty blend of independent pop music has sent LA-based concertgoers swooning for several years now.

Having recently finished mastering the tracks for the act’s first full-length album Chaos in Order, Levy answered a few questions for us about the formation of the band, where they’re headed, and the origin of their full sentence name.

How did Let’s Go Sailing come together? You started back in 2002, right? And you left Irving to start this band?

I started Let’s Go Sailing (which was just me) while I was in Irving just as a side project I think in 2001, but it started to become my main focus and I started making a record while I was in Irving in 2002. In November 2002, I left and pursued Let’s Go Sailing full time.

Who are your influences?

My biggest influence has been classical music. I grew up playing classical piano and it has always been what’s hit me the hardest. I think also Elliott Smith made a huge impact cause he put beautiful words on top of beautiful music, and I've always thought that the two were equally as important. I also love a bunch of stuff which has in one way or another influenced me playing music like the Talking Heads, The Police, The Cars, David Bowie, Velvet Underground, Kate Bush, Cat Stevens.... Tons more!

Some of the members of Let’s Go Sailing are in other groups (Nikki Monninger is in The Silversun Pickups, Tanya Haden is in several bands, and so on). Has that made it difficult to find time to play out and record?

Yes, having people in other bands has been very frustrating as far as playing out! Not so much with recording. When I started the band, it was a side project, so it didn't matter to me that the people I was playing with were in other bands cause I was in another band myself. I was bummed when everyone's time commitments made it impossible for them to continue playing live and I realized that something had to change. So, I’ve been changing the band into something with more permanent members.

You recently finished mastering your 11-song album, Chaos in Order. When’s that due out? Are you self-releasing it?

I don't know what will be happening with the record. I worked on it for a while and tried hard to make sure every song could stand on its own, so I really hope it ends up with a good home. There has been a lot of talk from people about putting it out and some offers, but I may just self release it cause the earliest it would come out from a label at this point would be early 2007 and I want to make another record already!

What was the recording process like?

We rehearsed the songs and pretty much knew all the basic parts before going in. We tried to record as many instruments live as possible. Then we did overdubs. We put everything to 2 inch and then either continued on 2 inch for overdubs or went to Pro Tools. A lot of times I would write a guitar part in the studio or if I thought a song needed a new perspective, I'd ask a friend to play something on it. I also ended up doing a bunch of vocals at home on Pro Tools. I felt more comfortable making cheesy faces in the privacy of my own home.

What’s the name of the band from?

It was a bumper sticker on my Dad's car growing up. We did a lot of sailing.

What’s next? Do you have plans to tour soon?

Yes, for sure. We are up for a couple of cool tours, so we'll see. I definitely plan to tour this record and take over the world!

Last question: Who are some of your favorite bands in LA right now?

The Radar Bros., The Bedroom Walls, Dios Malos, Lavender Diamond, The Little Ones, and Space Mtn.

That's it. Thanks for your time, Shana.

Let’s Go Sailing will play The Prospector in Long Beach on June 27 with The Bedroom Walls and Soft Lights and The International Pop Overthrow at Spaceland in LA on August 8.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Band of the Week: Wolf Parade

Montreal’s Wolf Parade just announced that they’re touring North America again and you know what? That’s a damn good thing. They’re another band like Tapes n Tapes that it sometimes blows my mind that not every single one of my friends is intimately familiar with at this point. I mean, at the end of last year, I fell for their album Apologies to the Queen Mary in such a way that’s almost embarrassing to talk about publicly.

Sure, it was loose and jangling and raw, but I loved it for its imperfections as much as for it’s fantastic manic energy. To me, it’s one of those god albums where every song on it is extraordinary and I hadn’t obsessed over a cd like that since Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People. At first, my favorite track on it was I’ll Believe Anything (which Rolling Stone called the "indie rock song of the year"), but over time, I came to call several other songs my pick of the moment, since there was just so much to like on it.

My girlfriend Christianne and I had tickets to go see them live at The El Rey on the night that she returned from a trip to France over the holidays, but her luggage arrived so late that we missed the show. I didn’t mind since I hadn’t seen her for two weeks and honestly that was all I really cared about at the time, but it’s great to hear that they’re finally coming back around. My almost unhealthy fixation on that album has leveled out somewhat in the last six months, but they still count as one of my favorite bands in years.

Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes will appear on August 25th at The Wiltern, which is located at 3790 Wilshire Boulevard. Presale tickets are available through Ducat King for $19.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews: Zero 7, Somebody Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, & Phoenix

Zero 7: The Garden (Atlantic/Wea)
The perfectly cool album for those late-night summer lounging, desert driving, stargazing, and first-time-we-ever-kissed kind of moments. Although it borrows heavily from 70’s AM flourishes, it's just as likely to be Giorgio Moroder as it is Burt Bacharach, or even America. With a much more organic feel to it than previous releases, The Garden is their most timeless piece of music yet. - Gabriel Burger

Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin: Broom (Generic Equivalent)
The members of this Missouri act clearly subscribe to the songwriting school of, "If you don't have something clever to say, don't say it." Several of the album's George Harrison-meets-The Shins tracks would be perfectly at home on a soundtrack to an imaginary Garden State sequel. In a word: Promising. - Joe Fielder

Phoenix: It’s Never Been Like That (Astralwerks/Emd)
By paying more attention to the interplay between the guitarists Mazzalai, there’s some much-needed salt added to the usually sugary confection that is Phoenix. But don’t worry, the record remains sweet to the tongue; as the Frenchies retain their ability to write catchy melodies and hooks with tracks like: Courtesy Laughs, or Sometimes In The Fall, that may find themselves stuck on repeat in your brain for the rest of the day. Consider yourself warned. - Gabriel Burger

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 6/6

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (Merge)
Third album from the Scottish indie-popsters. The 'Fork slaps a cool 7.8 on this one...check out the hype for yourself July 19th at the Troubadour.

Mojave 3 - Puzzles Like You (4AD)
Hard to belive, but former Slowdive leader Neil Halstead has actually been doing his folksy-rock Mojave 3 thing for 10 years now. This fifth LP finds Halstead picking up the pace a bit, and even adding a bit of an Americana flair (see "Truck Drivin' Man").

Stuart Staples - Leaving Songs/Lucky Dog Recordings (Beggars Banquet) Domestic combo of the Tindersticks singer's latest solo release, plus his 2005 solo debut Lucky Dog Recordings. Haven't heard the latter, but Leaving Songs just doesn't quite hit the groove musically nearly as well as those old Tindersticks records. That being said, I never get tired of this guy's voice.

Zero 7 - The Garden (Atlantic)
KCRW music librarian Eric J. Lawrence sez: "a slight change of pace for the band, with a couple of tracks that border on the giddy. Sure, their trademarked sultry electronic soul is still the main vibe, especially on the tracks featuring vocalist Sia, but guest spots from Swedish superstar singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez add a new twist with a warm retro sound...All in all, a perfect record to get your summer started."

New Releases Tuesday is back in full swing...lots more new rekids to check out this week:

Be Your Own Pet - Be Your Own Pet (Ecstatic Peace)
Cheap Trick - Rockford (Big3 Records)
Elvis Costello/Allen Toussaint - River in Reverse (Verve)
Cracker - Greenland (Cooking Vinyl)
Head Automatica - Propaganda (Warner Bros.)
Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid - Exchange Session, Vol. 2 (Domino)
Micah P. Hinson - The Baby And The Satellite (Jade Tree)
Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk (Jagjaguwar)
Juana Molina - Son (Domino)
Alexi Murdoch - Time Without Consequence (Zero Summer)
The Paper Chase - Now You Are One Of Us (Kill Rock Stars)
Psapp - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted (Domino)
John Ralston - Needle Bed (Vagrant)
Robot Ate Me - Good World (Kill Rock Stars)
Smoosh - Free To Say (Barsuk)

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "Take It Like Candies...")

Yow. That pictorial I put up of Gil Mantera’s Party Dream last week was so mind-blowing that it inadvertently destroyed the upcoming show listing on the site. Now, many hours of html work later, it’s back…

And just in time, because this week has some interesting shows. Like Happy Hollows and Death to Anders! at The Silver Lake Lounge on Tuesday, FASCINOMA at The Silver Lake Lounge on Wednesday, Film School and The Silversun Pickups at The Echo and Eagle & Talon and The Fcked Five at El Cid on Friday night.

And beyond this week, the following artists have recently announced shows for LA: Irving, Cold Wars Kids, The Editors, Devil Romantics, Natural Disasters, Master Slave, FASCINOMA, Wonderground, Army Navy, & The Minor Canon, Negativeland, Doveman, David Thomas Broughton, OZMA, The Rentals, Peter and the Wolf, and Say Hi To Your Mom. (See the afore-mentioned right-hand column for dates and venues.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Mini-Interview: Pinback

With three excellent indie rock albums out under as Pinback and countless other projects (Hella, Black Heart Procession, and more), Rob Crow and Zach Hill keep busy. It's pretty safe to say that. But still Rob was nice enough to take time out of his tour schedule -- if you didn't see them play live at the Avalon earlier this week, you missed out -- to answer a few quick questions for us.

Hi, Rob. So, you're touring with Pinback right now? For how long?

Six or seven weeks.

You just finished playing the tour with your metal band, Goblin Cock. How was that?


Real fun. We're going out again a bit with Blue Cheer in July.

Did you grow up listening to metal? How much fun was it to play it?

I was always into metal and hardcore. It's how I learned to play guitar. I can riff really fast. I don't do solos, tho.

The Goblin Cock album title Bagged and Boarded is a comic book reference... The song title Offline PK off the Pinback album Blue Screen Life comes from the South Korean online game players threaten people who cheat them in-game with real life violence... I guess it's safe to assume that you really like comics and video games. What are you reading? What are you playing?

Zach and I both play World of Warcraft. I've been working on Perfect Dark Zero, but I have a six-month-old son who, I'm happy to say, takes up most of my free time.

I read anything by Brian Micheal Bendis, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Brian K. Vaughn, Robert Kirkman, Frank Miller, Mark Millar, and Garth Ennis. Stray Bullets is my favorite.

How do you think Pinback's sound has grown and changed over the years? Have all the other bands you guys are in or have been in influenced Pinback?

We keep getting better equipment and learning how to (sort of) use it.

What's next for the band? Are you working on a new album?

When we get home, we're gonna do a marathon 4 month session and try to start and finish a new one.

Last question: What are you listening to these days that you like?

As far as "new music" goes, Hella, Lightning Bolt, and Meshuggah and a few local bands Sleeping People, Jade Shader, and Earthless.

That’s it. Thanks for your time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Band of the Week: Gil Mantera's Party Dream

Words simply cannot describe Gil Mantera's Party Dream, so instead, a pictoral based on their recent show at Spaceland.