Friday, March 31, 2006

Mini-Interview: Film School

Several months ago, Beggar’s Banquet released the San Francisco-based Film School’s self-titled album and the band has been playing their particular brand of haunty, echoey guitar work across Europe and the US since in support of it.

At least, they’re doing it as best they can after their equipment was recently stolen in Philadelphia in an event that -- hearing vocalist Krayg Burton describe it -- sounds like something straight out of a 70s crime caper film.

We checked in with Burton to find out the status of the missing equipment, how the band first came together, and what to expect next from them.

I'm really sorry to hear about your gear being stolen in Phili. Have you had any luck getting any of it back?

Yeah, it's pretty unbelievable how it happened. We had our van in a paid, secured, well-lit lot at the Comfort Inn Hotel we were staying at. Yet these thieves still found a way to cut through our steering wheel to remove the club, rig the ignition with a screwdriver, plow through a gate, and drive it off. We got the van back with some damage, but there's no trace of the gear.

You had to cancel a few shows because of it, but you played SXSW. Did you borrow friends' equipment for it? How did you work that out?

People have been so generous and kind. It's amazing how people in the music community, many of whom we don't know, have rallied to help us out. The Cloud Room let us borrow some gear while we were on tour with them and we've had friends who have let us borrow some gear here and there.

Also, Gibson and Ludwig have both let us borrow instruments until we're able to purchase some new ones. Unfortunately, we couldn't make all the shows because we had to deal with bringing everything together, but we're gonna try to get back soon to the towns we missed. I'm thinking we should be back by June latest.

You posted a spot on your web-site where people could donate money to help you get new gear. What's the response been so far?

People have been donating whatever they can afford and we're so appreciative. Wellesley College even donated the money that we were supposed to make at the show, which is something we didn't expect at all. Definitely want to do something special for them next time we're out there.

What's the response been like to your recent album? I know I've been really enjoying it.

Thanks, Joe. It's been pretty good so far I think. We just try to continue doing what we know and not pay too much attention to the chatter. Our band is new to lot of people right now so we're in the spotlight in some ways. Everyone has an opinion. But the people that get what we're up to are all we're concerned about. We're not trying to be everything to everyone.

You've released a number of EPs before this, right? How can people track those down? Any plans to collect that material?

If your neighborhood mom and pop store doesn't have it, I'd say is the best bet. We released an EP on Amazing Grease in 2003 called "alwaysnever." It's still being distributed through that label nd as far as I know is available in most stores. Full Frame Records released the "Harmed" 7" in 2005.

Once we signed to Beggars, they released the "On and On" EP/single early this year and I think that's in most stores. We're about to release our next single "11:11" and backed with a new song called "Walked til Sunday". That should be available in April I think.

Maybe we'll collect all that material and put out a "B-sides" someday. If so, I'd like to add some really rare stuff like mini-disk recording in our rehearsal studio, but we'll see. That seems a ways off to me.

How long have you all been together as a band?

I started the band in 1998 as a two-piece, but after some solo writing and lineup changes Film School finally settled as this group of musicians around 2001, just after the release of "Brilliant Career".

Since then, we've been writing more collaboratively, I'd say for the last four years. Donny our drummer joined us two years ago.

What's next?

Tons of touring, I suspect. Beggars wants us out on the road most of this year, which is good for us. We really give and get a lot playing live. I'm thinking we might have a little time off this summer to work on some new songs and possibly record, but it all depends on the success of our current album I guess.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

I saw Celebration play a couple shows and really liked it.

Thanks for your time, Krayg.

Film School is playing with The Cloud Room and Space Mtn on Saturday, April 1st at The Troubadour, which is located at 9081 Santa Monica Blvd in the West Hollywood neighborhood of LA. Tickets are $10-12 and doors open at 8.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Band of the Week: Fred Thomas

Some of my favorite albums over the last few years were burned by the artist on cdr with labels printed up at Kinko’s the night before. A musician who shows up at sparsely crowded clubs on tour on his own and wins hearts a few people at a time with songs that are often as much “teenage symphony to God” as any Brian Wilson-orchestrated perfect pop track off of Pet Sounds.

He’s singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas, the gentleman who also heads up the Michigan-based Ypsilanti Records and Midwest act Saturday Looks Good to Me. And while that band’s chamber-poppish albums All Your Summer Songs and Every Night are pretty incredible in their own right, it's Fred’s painfully unrecognized solo recordings that really hit home for me.

I mean, some musicians are content to craft a catchy chorus, repeat it a few times, and let that be that. But Fred inserts these little moments into songs that ... sometimes it’s the lyrics or how he delivers them or how he’s stopped all else to focus on whatever particular instrument he’s playing at the time ... just hold you in their hand and break your heart the tiniest bit.

And then they proceed to do it again and again in a number of different ways.

In But The Air Hung Just As Cold And Still As Before for instance, he begins singing in your bathroom, “writing you a song about how it’s hard to get along, the more you try, the more that feelings fade.” And in Friends & Parents, he relates an awkward moment running into an ex where he says “you laughed like you were drunk, but not on wine, but someone drunk on someone else.”

Blink and you’ll miss them, because he’ll have already moved on the next line, one that's equally or more well-written.

I figured that a reason why you might not have these tracks before is that Fred is a self-professed luddite who, though has his own personal myspace page, hasn’t posted any of his songs on it.

So, I went ahead and made a myspace music page for him yesterday where you can hear a few of my favorite tracks from him. (Ordering inquiries can be made over at Ypsilanti Records.)

Because I think he’s one of the most talented musicians out there right now and if you haven’t heard him yet, you’ve really been missing out.

So go check it out, already...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

To Coachella or Not Coachella?

Summer is fast approaching and that means you need to start planning if you’ll be attending one (or more) of the many upcoming music festivals. Here's a quick look at who is playing, where, when, and for how much:

April 29-30:

Coachella Valley Music Festival - Indio, California

Price: Currently $85 for a 1-day pass, $165 for both days.
Artists: Wolf Parade, Mogwai, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, TV on the Radio, Devendra Banhart, The Walkmen, Eagles of Death Metal, TheJuan Maclean, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Ladytron, Cat Power, Franz Ferdinand, Depeche Mode, Giant Drag, Phoenix, stellastarr, The Go Team!, Metric, The Dears, Mates of State, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

May 26-28:

Sasquatch! Music Festival - George, Washington

Price: Currently $165 for a three-day pass or $55 per day.
Artists: Beck, Bauhaus, Nine Inch Nails, And You Shall Know Us..., Death Cab for Cutie, Queens of the Stone Age, The Decemberists, The Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Wolfmother, Iron & Wine, Rogue Wave, The Flaming Lips, The Shins, Sufjan Stevens, Neko Case, We Are Scientists, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

June 16-18:

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennessee

Price: Currently $169.50 for a three-day pass, camping, and parking.
Artists: Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Seu Jorge, Andrew Bird, Dungen, Dios Malos, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

June 24-25:

Intonation Festival - Chicago, Illinois

Price: $20 for a one-day pass. $35 for a two-day pass.
Artists: Bloc Party, The Streets, Jose Gonzalez, Boredoms, The Constantines, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

July 29 – 30:

Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, Illinois

Price: $20 for a one-day pass. $30 for a two-day pass.
Artists: Tapes n Tapes, Jens Lehkman, Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Art Brut, The Futureheads, Devendra Banhart, Mission of Burma, The Mountain Goats, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

August 4-6:

Lollapalooza - Chicago, Illinois

Price: Currently $130 for a three-day pass.
Artists: Queens of the Stone Age, The Shins, Broken Social Scene, Sonic Youth, Iron & Wine, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco, and more. (Here’s a link for more info.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/28)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (Interscope)
Show Your Bones is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket,” says singer Karen O. “Maybe there is some of that electric current flowing through the tracks of our album illuminating us from the inside out for you to laugh at and cry to or fry to. Or not.” Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner recorded the album with producer Squeak E Clean and mixed with Alan Moulder. The follow-up to 2003’s Fever To Tell, Chase says “in the early stages the music was STRETCHED WIDE and then tightened up.”

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam)
Fifth solo album from the Wu-Tang MC. Vice magazine raves, "What more could be said about Ghostface at this point? His musical contributions are unsung, yet unmatched. He’s single-handedly responsible for the soul sampling that made Kanye famous, the emo raps that became Jay-Z’s blueprint, and the Clarks Wallabees that got you through life without wearing a pair of square shoes. His retrofuturistic slang is inimitable. He gave truck jewels a new cultural significance. He’s the only reason you own a bathrobe….So how does this year’s upcoming Fishscale manage to recapture and even transcend Supreme Clientele’s magic? … the results are spectacular…A cryptic, experimental, and decidedly left-field classic album."

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "All The Best Things in Life Cause Brain Cancer")

One of the odder points of the last week was ending up covered in fire retardant in the smoking area of The Echo during the Division Day Monday residency night, because some sanity assassin of a showgoer decided to run amok with a fire extinguisher, right before proceeding to yell at me that I needed to "have some blowjobs and loosen up."

Maybe he’s right ... because now I’m convinced I have brain cancer after breathing that stuff in. I mean, geesh, it tastes like what would happen if aspirin and sulfur pounded out a compound. That just can’t be good for you.

On the other hand, one of my main show highlights in the last week was catching Tapes N Tapes -- who make me think what The Pixies would've sounded like if they popped out of the recent Montreal music scene -- with local indie rock/blues band Cold War Kids at Spaceland last Wednesday.

It took me a bit to step away from all the hype that Tapes N Tapes have been getting and just enjoy them on their own merits, but eventually they really clicked for me. And it also helped that the band members have as much effortless charisma as Jet Li in The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk.

Ironically, after gushing so much about the Light From Here recently, I ended up missing their show at Zen Sushi last night (and the Languis cd release party at Spaceland) because I came down with that stupid achy flu that’s going around.

And I’ll probably have to opt out of going to the final free Division Day residency show tonight at The Echo too, which, y'know, suxxors since LA pop oddity The Movies are putting in a rare appearance and Division Day will finally have their new album Beartrap Island on sale there.

In The News:
- Members of The Ship collective, Let’s Go Sailing report that they’ve finally finished recording their album, which has been four years in the making. No word on a release date yet, though.

- The super-tight indie pop act Army Navy will be playing the Spaceland Monday night residency throughout the month of April. So, every Monday night at 11, it’s Army Navy for free.

- The following bands have all announced LA show dates: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Prefuse 73, Built to Spill, Drive-By Truckers, The Mountain Goats, Youth Group, Quasi, dios malos, Rainer Maria, and The 88. (See the right-hand column for details.)

- Final warning: Don’t forget. Do not skip the Irving cd release party on Wednesday night at King King. Besides getting a chance to hear these indie pop superstars play their new material (with a home field advantage), local favorites Army Navy, Great Northern, and Lavender Diamond are all opening up.

I mean, c’mon...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mini-Interview: the Lights From Here

Imagine listening to rain fall down on your rooftop on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. It starts off quietly in the background, the sun still up between the clouds, and then builds into a restless storm ... one where sheets of water begin to crash down above you in waves.

Take that and represent it using sparse guitar work, keyboards, and drums, and you have an idea what a typical song from the Lights From Here sound like.

But they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve, too. Enough to make this local LA act an obvious choice for a recent band of the week pick here on the site.

So we checked in with Andres Cruzalegui, one of the Lights From Here ’s five members (and three guitarists), to find out about where they came from, where they’re at, and where they’re going.

How long have you all been doing this as a group? How did you get together?

We've been together as the Lights From Here for about two years. Kim, Robert and Andres were playing music together in Santa Barbara for about a year and later added James and Rick after they answered our desperate calls for help via craig's list postings and cheap photocopies at various record stores. Somewhere down the line, Kim, Robert and Andres migrated south to the greater Los Angeles area.

What were you doing before?

Kim, Robert and Andres were in a band called Stromboli, a short-lived math-rock project based in Santa Barbara that disbanded after bassist Eric Blackwell left to join Go Empire. Rick was involved with various recording projects and electronic experiments under an array of obssessively changed monikers and James was involved in a number of Los Angeles bands playing guitar, bass and keys.

I’d guess that you’ve been inspired by a pretty wide variety of bands. What are some of them?

To avoid an extensive list, we would like to say that we are inspired by A LOT of bands ranging from Stafraenn Hakon to Pavement.

So the name of the band comes from what? I googled it, but I’m guessing there’s a story there.

When we first formed, we decided on the name Farewell to Hymns, which actually lasted for a quite a few shows. James eventually discovered the same name (or one very similar to it) was being used by a Christian band from the Midwest. Wanting to stay clear of evangelical connotations, we decided to change our name to the Lights From Here, a name suggested by Robert while the five of us were eating Mexican food one night after practice.

What’s next for the band? Are you working on new material? Any plans to tour beyond southern CA again soon?

We recently took a break in December while everyone began various side-projects. New material is always being conceived and right now there are a few circulating ideas in an embryonic stage. Touring, however, is kind of tough for us. Conflicting schedules and financial obstacles contributed to a couple of failed attempts to launch a small southwestern tour. We would love to expand beyond the boundaries of Los Angeles, but there are no current plans to tour. Right now we are more focused on writing new material and recording our next record, which will hopefully begin by this summer.

Good to hear. What’s another band in LA that you think people really ought to be listening to right now?

If we have to pick one it would be The Antarcticans. We’ve been playing with them since we started and they never fail to blow us away. Some other honorary mentions would include Timonium, Half-Mantis Group, Signal Hill, and Monster.

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

You can see the Lights From Here play Zen Sushi at 2609 Hyperion in the Silver Lake neighborhood of LA this Sunday night, along with Te" (Japan), Snowbeast, Third Uncle, and BoS. (TLFH go on "around ten.")

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Band of the Week: The Silversun Pickups

For me, any discussion of music in LA begins and ends with The Silversun Pickups. They rule the school here, in much the same way that Naked Raygun owned Chicago when I was growing up there. Their shows are so genuinely explosive that they’re events instead of simple performances and their recorded work -- two EPs so far -- are treasures to be mined for your favorite mix cds.

I first saw them early last year at an Earlimart show at Spaceland with The Green and Yellow TV. I’d been raised to ignore or skip opening bands in the Midwest because, I don’t know, I guess they were usually pretty bad, but that night proved to me just how different the LA music scene really was (and is).

The Green and Yellow TV went on early, playing material from their recent album for the first time out, and won the crowd over easily. The Silversun Pickups went on next, and I think there was some technical problem that made them have a shaky start... but a few minutes in, it felt like it dawned on everyone in the place at once that, “Holy shit... These guys are really, really good.”

Lead singer Brian Aubert’s reedy voice led us along a quiet unsuspecting path and then, when we least expected it, the band opened up and pounced all over us. It was much like the first time you heard The Pixies play ("quiet, loud, quiet" references aside, but yes, implied)... you just never saw it coming at all.

And that was simply the first song that night. After seven or more equally strong tracks, we were all pretty crushed out.

A few months later, the band put out their Pikul EP on Dangerbird Records and played five Tuesdays (or Wednesdays?) in a row at Spaceland to support it. I caught every show and they were never disappointing. You just couldn't shake the feeling each time that you were lucky to see them in a venue that intimate with so few other people around and that it very likely would never happen again.

Since then, the band has played a few nights in town while finishing up work on their new album, which unconfirmed talk says should be out this summer. And tickets sold out quickly earlier this week for the Benefit for Rose Scharlin School at Spaceland on Sunday, April 2nd that they’re set to play with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, save for an allotment at the door the night of the event.

Suffice to say, I’m really looking forward to hearing the new material off that upcoming album that night. Because I've thought for quite awhile now that The Silversun Pickups are the best band currently operating in LA and can't imagine that changing any time soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews: Voxtrot, Pink Mountaintops, and B&S

Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives
With their second EP, Voxtrot continues to prove that they're willing to work harder for your satisfaction -- both musically and lyrically -- than nearly every other pop band out there today. The eponymous title track is such a charmer that it could completely prop up the rest of the disc, but there’s plenty of likable material to be found here.

Pink MountaintopsAxis of Evol
Axis of Evol’s premiere track New Drug Queens barely has enough time to suggest you should “Tell your mama gonna stay out late tonight” before it ends, but oh how you’ll build up a sweat in that short time. While the next song Slaves, offers eight minutes plus of psychedelic mojo jojo that threatens to turn you into one of those guys in college who took a few hits of acid and was never quite the same... Even though there are a few skippable bits, several tracks like these manage to make this the best stoner rock album since The Queens of the Stone Age’s Lullabies to Paralyze.

Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Should they be called The New Belle & Sebastian now? This radical change in sound takes the band into some interesting places (one track even sounds like it could be from T Rex...), but if you let your itunes wander into Tigermilk once this album finishes up, you’ll likely begin wistfully recalling the days of B & S’ incredible, early work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/21)

Liars - Drums Not Dead (Mute) After what many considered to be a sophomore slump with the odd They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, the New York-based band moved to Berlin and are now back with what many are calling their best album yet, worthy of a sweet 9.0 on the 'Fork.

The Editors - The Back Room (Kitchenware)
Yet another band of late that comps the sound of classic Joy Division, though at least these guys are British (I'm looking at you, She Wants Revenge) and actually hail from Manchester.

Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA (Drag City)
The Tweedy/O'Rourke/Kotche side project returns with another batch of fine tunes for Drag City. Amazon sez, "originally seen as Jeff Tweedy's noisier outlet, it's arguably as tuneful as his main band's most recent releases."

Also this week...

Richard Ashcroft - Keys to the World (Virgin)
Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)
Madlib - Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2 (Stones Throw)
Mates of State - Bring it Back (Barsuk)
Ms. John Soda - Notes and the Like (Morr Music)
Gary Numan - Jagged (Metropolis)
Quasi - When the Going Gets Dark (Touch & Go)
Josh Rouse - Subtitulo (Nettwerk)

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down

- Several sources online have begun adding local alt folk band Lavender Diamond to the billing for Irving’s cd release event at King King on March 29th. Army Navy and Great Northern are also playing that night, making this one the strongest line-ups of any upcoming show outside of the summer festival circuit. This seriously looks like one not to miss...
- Tickets went on sale today and quickly sold-out -- save for an at-the-door allotment -- for the Benefit for Rose Scharlin School with The Silversun Pickups and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) at Spaceland on Sunday, April 2nd.
- The recently-much-talked-about-and-with-good-reason Tapes N Tapes will appear at The Alterknit Lounge at The Knitting Factory on Tuesday night and Spaceland on Wednesday night. (Listen to the few tracks up on the band's myspace page and you might just head to Ticketweb to see if tickets are still available.)
- The Echo has announced that violinist/singer Petra Haden will play with Dos (the band comprised of Kira Roessler and Mike Watt) at the Jensen Rec Center on Saturday, April 1st. Petra will perform from her recent a’capella version of The Who’s Sell Out and promises a four-song duet with Mike Watt (whose long career as a singer/bass player requires an extensive Wikipedia page to keep track of). A current member of The Decemberists, Petra is also the daughter of legendary jazz musician Charlie Haden and sister to Tanya Haden, a cellist who has played for local bands The Silversun Pickups, Let’s Go Sailing, Paul Avion, and Sea Wolf (and who recently eloped with Tenacious D frontman/actor Jack Black).
- In other show announcement news, electro rockers I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness will head to The Echo on May 20th, Austin pop superstars Voxtrot will return to LA to open for Elefant on May 26th at The Wiltern, and musical bad gods Dios Malos come back to town on May 7th at The Troubadour.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mini-Interview: Division Day

It’s hard to find a quick and easy way to sum up Division Day that does them justice, since no past or present bands come to mind -- either immediately or over time. But two self-descriptions on the group’s myspace page try their damnedest at it.

One is more figurative with “Sounds Like: Speeding through the swamp at night in a wood-panelled Buick Skylark.”

While the other requires a big, unfoldy musical map to properly navigate: “Match the lyrical darkness of a more imagistic Leonard Cohen with the furious drumming of Brendan Canty (Fugazi), the tasteful basslines of John Stirrat (Wilco), and the supple, atmospheric guitar shards of Nick McCabe (Verve) and you might come close to approximating the band's sound.”

However you choose to describe them, the local indie rock act is in the middle of playing a free weekly residency at The Echo each Monday night this month and will self-release their first full-length album Beartrap Island any day now.

We decided to check in with Division Day’s guitarist Ryan Wilson and singer Rohner Segnitz earlier this week to talk about this, that, and, oh yes, the other thing.

How did you all first meet and start playing together?

Ryan: I met Kevin while vacationing in the Bahamas. We both wanted to write songs that sounded like Peach Daquiris, so we called Seb and Rohner and asked them what exactly was in a Peach Daquiri.

Rohner: Well, Seb and I met at Guitar Center where we were both buying B.C. Rich "Sovereign Metal Elephant Lord" starter packs. We had a dueling solo battle, and Seb won, so I was like, “Yo, your riff's are HOT!”

When we were leaving the store, we found Kevin panhandling for change. He was convinced he was a mallard. Ryan just showed up one day, and he won't leave. (There's a rumor floating around that Seb and Kev and I grew up together, and then Kev met Ry in college, but it's bullshit.)

It's hard to sum up your sound into a quick, bite-sized catchphrase because you really don't wear your influences on your sleeve. But... if you were to write them down on your sleeve, what would it read?

Ryan: My sleeve would probably say: "Rohner sucks." but if I had to write band names on it, it would probably be like "MC Hammer" but then that would be crossed-out and then other things like Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth, David Sylvian, The Church, and John Cale would be on there. Probably more crossed-out stuff, too.

Rohner: Staind, Nickelback, Seven Mary Three, and Jason Mraz! (Actually, that's just Ryan's sleeve. Mine would read Boards of Canada, Richard Buckner, Boards of Richard, Richard Canada, and Bartok.)

I swear I heard that you recorded your new album Beartrap Island up north in SF at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studios. That’s right, right?

Ryan: Well, we actually recorded it at Scott Solter's home studio, which he calls 15th Street. But then he had to move out due to landlord difficulties, so we made the second half of the album at some makeshift studio across from the Cow Palace in Daly City.

Rohner: Radio Free Silver Lake is in the vicious rumor business...

Ryan: We mixed it at Tiny Telephone though, which was a lot of fun. Mostly because they have a PS2 there, and that PS2 has GTA San Andreas. Yes!

Rohner: Recording in SF was awesome. It was refreshing and galvanizing to relocate in manic little spurts. New environs yield new moods and the mood informs the music.

How’s it different from your two EPs?

Ryan: I think this one is put together as a more cohesive whole -- not in a concept record sort of way, although it could probably work that way on some levels. But basically, it's just better than the other stuff. It has more good.

Rohner: Way more double kick drum. Not really, actually, but boy do i wish. (Next time!) The songs are more precise, more at ease with themselves. Stronger melody. Much ripping guitar. More blood!

When’s the album coming out?

Ryan: Unofficially March 27th - just in time for the last residency show at The Echo with The Movies, Golden Arms, and LA Riots. (Psst! Free Show!)

You have plans to tour beyond SoCal for it after San Francisco’s Noise Pop and a few dates around here, yes?

Ryan: Yes, definitely. We're going up to Canada and back at the end of April with our friends, Birdmonster, who we played with last Monday at The Echo.

Rohner: I've actually booked a jet-only tour that the band doesn't know about yet. One show in each of the following locales: Norway, South Dakota, the Sizzler restaurant in Santa Monica, and The South Pole.

I don't blame you for skipping town. I mean, what’s with all this rain we’ve been having lately?

Ryan: Man, I don't know! It was so COLD last night, too! I had to go out and buy a space heater!

Rohner: Dude, good question. This rain can seriously eff right the eff off.

Last question... What’s your favorite band in LA right now?

Ryan: The Primos.


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

Division Day's next show is on Monday, March 20th at The Echo, which is located at 1822 Sunset Blvd in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Doors open at 8:30, it's 21+ and free, and Bipolar Bear, Serena Maneesh, and Eagle and Talon are opening.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Band of the Week: Jeniferever

Early last year, I developed a deep and abiding musical crush on Sweden’s Jeniferever -- a band that, at least literally, couldn’t be farther away from the LA independent music scene -- after getting several tracks off of the great, completely-legal tune-sharing site 3hive.

The band's songs are all whispers and melting icicles, with lyrics that make you reminisce about events that never happened to you, and that build and crash in waves that force you to close your eyes when they finally, um, climax.

The group just released their first full album Choose A Bright Morning overseas last week and, though US distribution is said to be in the works, you can (like me) order it as an import through places like Amazon.

From the two new songs that the band has recently posted online, it’s clear that they’re moving off in a different musical direction, one more away from their seemingly Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky-inspired roots. And while I’m not quite sure how I feel about that quite yet, I’m really looking forward to that cd arriving soon.

Are they coming to play in LA anytime soon? Well... maybe. Back at the end of last year, one of the band members told me that they intend their first US tour this spring, but I’ve heard no updates out of group since then.

In the meantime, you should seriously take the time to download the three incredible EP tracks -- You Only Move Twice, Kap Farvel, and For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky -- that they’ve made available, either off their myspace page, the discography section of their official web-site, or the afore-mentioned 3hive.

They’re some of the best goddamn songs I've heard in the last year and, hell, they’re free...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews: SLGTM, TG&YTV, and Kelley Stoltz

Saturday Looks Good to MeSound on Sound
Maybe more repeated listenings to this collection of thirty tracks from rare EPs, singles, and 7-inches are necessary for it to fully sink in, but it feels like an album for only the most diehard fans of this 60s Wall of Sound-style band... Though I probably could not be more into their stellar second and third albums, All Your Summer Songs and Every Night, and singer/ songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas’ fantastic solo work.

The Green and Yellow TVSinister Barrier
At first, this album may seem to lack something from this local indy pop band’s excellent live performances, but that impression disappears quickly. It’s the definition of a grower, and over time even the songs that you once skipped past in favor of the main stand-out tracks end up demanding your attention.

Kelly Stoltz Bellow the Branches
Its clear that this singer/songwriter loves The Beatles and The Beach Boys as much (or more) than I do, but the songs on this album seem so reminiscent of that material that I’ve found myself just taking out this cd and putting on Pet Sounds instead.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/14)

Nicolai Dunger - Here Is My Song You Can Have It I Don't Want It (Zoe Records)
The Swedish music scene has brought the world many great pop acts over the years and has recently been a hotbed for edgy indie rock. But Sweden has not been known for introducing amazing singer-songwriters to the world. Until now. Enter Nicolai Dunger, a former professional soccer player who was discovered by a producer while he sang on a balcony in his hometown and gave up his sports career to pursue his passion for music...Nicolai is a tremendous talent whose voice recalls the joyful pastoral soul of vintage Van Morrison and the melancholy crooning of both Tim and Jeff Buckley. On his latest relesase, Nicolai is backed by the mighty Mercury Rev. Dunger's aching melodies and soulful vocals mesh with Mercury Rev's dreamy yet driving sound seamlessly and with an ease that reflects the fun the musicians had playing together.

Devo - Devo 2.0 (Disney)
What the hell is this garbage???? This is sacrilege!!

The original members of Devo rerecorded ten of their old songs (some with revamped lyrics) and two brand new ones with Devo 2.0, a group of five talented kids aged 10 to 13...Devo is one of my favorite bands," Buena Vista Music Group EVP & GM David Agnew said in a recent interview. "I think their music was years ahead of its time--and is timeless... it's playful and great to dance to, which is the key to any good kids' music. When you consider that Disney has been responsible for some of the most popular children's music of all time, and that most people trust Disney to bring them music that is appropriate for their kids, it seemed like a winning combination to me."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Recent Show Impressions and News

I swear, The Pink Mountaintops has to be the best stoner rock this side of Queens of the Stone Age. Their Saturday show at Spaceland came off like the perfect soundtrack to do acid at a friend’s party at 3am on a school night.

And Oneida were amazing too, leading off with a ten-minute plus version of their opus, “Each One Teach One.” The only real letdown of the night had to be that my friend Gabe, who turned me on to both bands, had to work his new job and missed it.

Then, last night at The Echo was probably a musical 180 degree turn from Saturday. Austin’s Voxtrot played -- and if Pink Mountaintops makes you want to rock out with your cock out, then the dance-poppy Voxtrot makes you want to hop around in a crowd full of pretty girls in vintage dresses. (Ugh... It sounds kind of creepy to have both of those references couched in the same sentence, doesn't it?)

I've got to say that lead singer Ramesh Srivastava’s voice is as clear and full as a frigging church bell, and it sounds just as strong live as recorded. The show was so good, I had to shell out my last spare cash before payday to pick up their two EPs.

And, hell, I never even liked The Smiths.

Related Show News:
- Much-loved SF act Film School report that they’ve recovered their van, which was stolen after their recent Philly gig, but all of the equipment in it is gone. Even worse, the band's members were in the midst of sorting out car and personal insurance when it all happened. (For the full details of the harrowing incident, read the story here on Pitchfork.)

“We desperately need help replacing our precious guitars, basses, amps, drums, keyboards, and everything else," writes FS’ Justin LaBo. "If you have it in your heart, head on over to our website [here] and make a donation via PayPal.”

As reported in Pitchfork, the band will be continuing their tour and playing their SXSW and LA dates with rented and borrowed instruments.

- Local acts Space Mtn, Sabrosa Purr, and The Primos will all join Division Day at the second night of their free weekly residency at The Echo tonight. Details can be found here.

- In other news, Ladytron and Great Northern have just announced that they’ll be playing The El Rey on May 2nd, Destroyer and Blood on the Wall will appear at Spaceland on May 9th, Beth Orton will grace The Avalon on March 24th, and Architecture in Helsinki will head to The Troubadour on Monday, May 22nd.

- And now for a bit of extra Monday content, here's an interview with Norway's Magnet done by Radio Free Chicago’s Brad, who also posts his weekly album release rundown for us here each and every Tuesday. Magnet will be appearing here at The Hotel Café tomorrow night.

RFSL Interview: Magnet

Formerly of the band Libido, Norwegian singer/songwriter Even Johansen has returned with The Tourniquet, his second full-length album as “Magnet.” Upon release of his 2001 solo release, Quiet & Still, critics labeled Johansen as "Thom Yorke trapped in a David Lynch movie." While still retaining his trademark melancholic croon, this latest effort finds Johansen a bit more optimistic and pop-friendly. RFSL recently caught up with Johansen to discuss his new direction and what lies ahead for the talented Norse troubadour.

Radio Free Silver Lake: First off…I just wanted to say thanks for the interview. I’ve been a fan of your work ever since Quiet & Still, that record completely blew me away…Speaking of which, after recording under your own name, what made you decide to continue on as “Magnet” versus just “Even Johansen.”

Even Johansen: Thanx for the kind words! ... After Quiet and Still was released under my name proper, I realized that it wasn’t my name proper musically, so there was a deal struck between me and myself to never release anything under that name again.

RFSL: How has your writing and performing changed since your days with Libido and Chocolate Overdose?

EJ: Now that I’m my own man so to speak, and not in a band, it’s much more of a lonesome effort to both write and perform, and since I’m turning slowly into a recluse, that’s just the way I like it the best.

RFSL: Your music has been described more than once over the years as “melancholic,” yet this new record is lyrically quite optimistic at times, was there anything in particular that inspired the positive vibes?

EJ: I wanted to write something a little more direct and positive to reflect the good vibes in my life, nothing more particular than to try and be honest in my writing,

RFSL: Your hometown, Bergen, Norway, has been called a “hit-factory” town…what is it about the city or area that you think makes it conducive to producing great music?

EJ: There’s a great vibe in Bergen for making music at the moment, could be because it rains so fucking much that there’s nothing else to do….

RFSL: You also recently lived for a few years in Scotland…how was that experience and why did you decide to return to Norway?

EJ: Living in Scotland makes you realize how un-articulate you are. They have an inspiring command over the English language that makes me want to try harder with words. I’ve always wanted to live on a farm, and Bergen being the only place we could afford one……

RFSL: What can fans expect from your North American tour? (full-band? solo acoustic performances? Back-up hype dancers?)

EJ: I’m going to play and sing the songs like I’ve never done before, without any kind of distracting backing dancers…….

RFSL: After your current tour, what do you have planned for Magnet in the future?

EJ: I’m due to start recording my next album four days after I get home, so that’s where my head is going to be at for the summer. My little head can only plan that far ahead at a stretch, so what comes after that I do not know yet. pheeeeew.


If you could curate your own musical festival or tour, what would the line-up be?

I would be supporting The Beach Boys. That’s it!

What is your favorite Norwegian delicacy?

We eat lam ribs at Christmas. Unbeatable!!

Best thing about touring The States?

Without a shadow of doubt, the audiences.

If you weren’t a musician, what would your occupation be?

I’d be a harbour pilot.

Check out Magnet on KCRW today at 11AM for a live "Morning Becomes Eclectic" session with Nic Harcourt. Tomorrow night (3/14) Johansen and Co. will be invading the Hotel Cafe for a "KCRW Presents" show with The Walls, Annie Stella and Wonderground.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Green and Yellow TV

In their time as mainstays of LA’s independent music scene, The Green and Yellow TV have no doubt sent many a writer into paroxysms of joy honing their ability to reference rare Kinks and Beach Boys tracks and readying such exasperating lines as “snap, crackle ... power pop!”

A more reserved Pitchfork reviewer once wrote that they “make pop music that deserves to stand out among the relentless din of the commonplace” and apparently they have, having scored repeated plays on the late John Peel’s legendary BBC1 radio show.

In the last year, the band has gone through a few changes, both losing a member and seeing the release of recent album, Sinister Barrier.

We recently emailed with The Green and Yellow TV’s Mike Regilio to find out more about what’s gone before, what’s going on now, and what’s next for one of our favorite local indie pop acts.

How did The Green and Yellow TV first come together?

Two bands in Boston broke up and became one band in Silver Lake.

Are your earlier two albums still in print? How can people track them down?

They're both available through Itunes and most other download sites.

What were your initial influences? Are they the same now?

When we started out we were greatly moved by the music of The Beach Boys, The Zombies, The Beatles, and The Who. We were crazy about the pop sounds of bygone eras. Then The Flaming Lips released THE SOFT BULLETIN and our minds were blown right open.

Since that time each band member has had his own personal musical explorations. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, REM, Nick Drake, and The Police are some of the ones we agree on.

The first time I heard the band was early last year when you were filling in for Irving at Spaceland at a (great) show with The Silversun Pickups and Earlimart. You'd mentioned that you hadn't played any shows for awhile that night. What was the reason for the time off?

We were in the process of changing almost everthing about the band. Until that point we had been a four-piece with our lead singer (Todd) on rhythm guitar and Steve MacDonald on bass.

Steve left to tour with Beck and we didn't want to look for, audition and bond with new musician. So we decided to become a three piece. Todd picked up the bass and we learned to do more with less. And, like most change, it was a good thing. We made our finest record to date.

I remember you playing a lot of material off your recently released album that night. Was that the first time you'd played those songs out?

Not only was it the debut of that material it was our debut as a three-piece rock ensemble.

You just finished up a residency at Spaceland. Any plans to tour in support of the new album?

The response to the record will dictate our next moves.

What are you listening to these days?

Django Reinhardt’s Paris 39, Simon and Garfunkel’s Collected Works, Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs, John Lennon’s Imagine, Quasi’s Hot Shit, Irving’s Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers, and The Pity Party’s Demos.

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

Thanks, Joe.

Tracks from The Green and Yellow TV's Sinister Barrier can be heard online on both their myspace page and official website.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Band of the Week: The Lights From Here

So, it's a funny story, I guess, because I first found out about local band The Lights From Here by doing a random search on myspace for bands that cited Austin’s instrumental rock superstars Explosions in the Sky among their influences.

Then, seeing that TLFH was from here in LA, I checked out the four songs they had posted, which were live performances from KXLU’s Demo Listen show off their then-forthcoming album.

And what I heard basically destroyed me...

The songs were stark and pretty and built up slowly and crashed in waves. They grabbed hold of you at key moments and let you soar along next to them at others -- which are all things that I love about music from that particular sub-branch of post rock.

But then a few months later, the band’s first album Like Ghosts With Steel Shoes came out, and it had all those tracks I’d loved before plus a number of songs that went in interesting, unexpected directions, like the drive-all-night-in-the-desert-with-the-top- down Truth or Consequences or the frenetic xylophone-player- gone-mad Birdmouth.

They’re playing this Saturday night at The Cocaine and they'll also appear at Zen Sushi later on in the month.

Suffice to say, I recommend listening to the new songs on they have on myspace, going to see them perform live, and picking up their album in the most direct and immediate manner possible.

Because they're yet another great band that calls this town home.

The Cocaine is located at 366 E. 2nd St. in Los Angeles, the cost is $5, doors open at 8, and Timonium, Tune To Me, Signal Hill, and The Drift are also playing.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Irving CD Release Party

Local indie pop favorites Irving have just announced a show to celebrate the April 4th release of their new album, Death In The Garden, Blood On The Flowers.

The event will be on Wednesday, March 29th at King King out in Hollywood and our recent "band of the week" pick Army Navy and fellow Ship Collective group Great Northern will also play.

Between getting a chance to hear new material from Irving and the fact that both they and Army Navy routinely pull off extremely tight live performances, it should be an excellent show.

In related cd release news, Division Day has started their free Monday night residency at The Echo in support of their new album ... though it hasn’t been pressed quite yet.

But, the band was giving away a free four-song sampler at their last show to tide people over in the interim and the tracks are also available for download on both their myspace page and website.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/7)

Goldfrapp Supernature (Mute)
Trip-hop siren turned sex-pop kitten Alison Goldfrapp returns with her third full-length album. Originally released in the UK last August, the NME called Supernature the "Best Pop Album of 2005." We're not experts on pop albums here at RFC, but we do agree that this is a fine record. For you downloading types, check out the tracks "Ooh La La," "Ride a White Horse" and "Fly Me Away."

Stereolab Fab Four Suture (Too Pure)
With the tragic death of longtime keyboardist/vocalist Mary Hansen in 2002, the divorce of founding members Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane earlier that year and the release of a career-spanning CD/DVD box-set, Oscillions from the Anti-Son, in 2005, one might guess that prolific lounge-popsters Stereolab would soon be packing up the synthesizers and drum machines at their space-age bachelor pad. However, despite recent turmoil, 9 full-length albums and a bazillion other comps, singles, b-sides and eps, the band amazingly still seems to have plenty more blips, bleeps and Moog flourishes left in them. A brand-new full-length is slated for 2007 and Fab Four Suture is a new CD collection of singles compiling a series of 7” vinyl tracks released last fall with a brand new triumvirate of 7’s released this week. And if that wasn’t enough, the band is hitting the road again for another full US tour this month, landing them at The Vic this Saturday

Herb Alpert - Whipped Cream & Other Delights Rewhipped (Shout Facotry)
The coolest title in your grandpa's record collection gets a modern upgrade courtesy of Thievery Corporation, Mocean Worker, John King (Dust Brothers), Anthony Marinelli and more. More often than not, "revisited" projects like these tend to do little more than taint the reputation of the original work, but this one actually turned out pretty damn good. The first three remixes are near perfect, (Marinelli's take on "Green Peppers" is especially recommended) and overall this release is an essential pick-up for lounge and downtempo electronica fans.

More great rekkids out this week:

Devics - Push the Heart (Filter)
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Ballads of The Broken Seas (V2)
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti)
Mogwai - Mr. Beast (Matador)
Mudhoney - Under a Billion Suns (Sub Pop)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Division Day Invades Monday Nights

Division Day starts their free weekly Monday residency at The Echo tonight, and, hell, you shouldn't allow yourself any excuse not to go.

They’re easily are one of my top five favorite bands in LA right now and are really worth stopping by to check out -- either tonight, next Monday, the next after that, the one after that, or all four.

Their music straddles the fine line between indie rock and pop, with a manic sound and lyrics that are sharp and inventive, and they play with such enthusiasm that they often can’t help not breaking into big smiles in the middle of their sets.

Tonight marks the self-release of their album Beartrap Island, which they created with the help of John Vanderslice (producer for The Mountain Goats) up in his Tiny Telephone Studio in SF.

I’ve caught a bit off of it between what they’ve played live and posted on their myspace page, and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard so far.

Go listen to a few tracks for yourself, then clear your schedule tonight, and start inviting your friends ... because “good” and “free” are two things that come by oh so rarely in this modern life.

The Echo is located at 1822 Sunset Blvd in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA, Birdmonster is the opening band, it’s 21+, doors open at 8:30, and it’s free.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Don't Miss The Silversun Pickups This Saturday

I swear that we’re in the middle of such an incredible time for music in Los Angeles right now. There are so many good bands playing out here that sometimes I think my head will explode. (Or else I'll go broke from going out so much.)

I mean, there are certain moments when live music feels so exultant and celebratory that there’s no place you’d rather be at that exact second, and you just wish you could share it with all of your friends.

And last night's Sea Wolf show at The Echo was one of those moments. Luckily, I’d talked about a dozen friends into going to it. (And right when I was starting to worry that I was geeking out too severely about the event, my friend Patti came up and thanked me for pushing the band on her. Then, someone else did. Then, another...)

This Saturday night promises to be another one of those instances, since The Silversun Pickups will appear at The Knitting Factory. (Note: Not at The Troubadour. Sorry for the typo, earlier).

If you’ve heard them before, you probably know how important it is for you to be there. If not, go listen to them on their myspace page right now.

For my money, they're the single best band currently playing in LA and are modern masters of the whole “quiet-loud-quiet” sound. They have two EPs out so far and are just wrapping up a full album, so they’ll likely be playing a lot of new material.

I don’t think I’ve been so excited about a band since the first time I heard Sonic Youth or The Pixies. Take my word for it. They’re that good.


The Knitting Factory is located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood. Doors are at 9:30, tickets are $11, it’s all ages, Amusement Parks on Fire and DJ Solid Todd are also playing, and there’s an after-party at Beauty Bar afterwards.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mini-Interview: Sea Wolf

I’m lucky enough to have a group of friends who have great taste in music, and I guess smart enough to trade recommendations back and forth with them frequently. One of the best bands that I recently learned about through this little regular musical pot luck is Sea Wolf, an act fronted by Alex Church, who is also in the excellent LA indie pop band, Irving.

When my friend Josh first sent me the link to Sea Wolf’s myspace page, it only had an early mix of the song “You’re a Wolf” on it, but that was enough to make me track down their self-titled EP. I loved everything on it, but was sad to soon discover that it would be many months before the band would play again or finish its album.

Now, flash forward several months later, Sea Wolf recently played a sold-out night at the cavernous El Cid and will appear this Thursday at The Echo, a show that you really shouldn’t miss if you have any interest in going since the band won't play again until May.

This week, I emailed back and forth with Sea Wolf’s Alex Church to find out more about the band's past, present, and future.

How did Sea Wolf first come together?

Alex Church: Sea Wolf is me with revolving members of The Ship Collective. I began writing songs for Sea Wolf four years ago, but only when I came up with the name (two and a half years ago - and it's taken from Jack London's The Sea Wolf) did it officially become real.

A month later, Ashod from Panty Lions asked me to play a show with them, so I put together a group of a couple of friends and did it. The response was overwhelmingly good, so I decided I to continue, and that was that.

There was a year break between your show at El Cid and your previous show. What were you doing in that time?

AC: Actually, the show at The Silver Lake Lounge. There was a year break because I decided that I didn't want to do another show until I'd recorded a record.

So, the band is you and rotating members of The Ship Collective. How does that work out?

AC: Basically, all of my friends who are musicians are all in bands, mostly Ship Collective bands, and have full-time commitments to those bands. I’m wary of playing with people who aren't friends, or at least friends of friends, so I pretty much use whichever friends are available to play (for shows or recordings).

You're still part of Irving, right? So you're touring with them and coming back for the Thursday show? (And when's the new Irving album out, by the way?)

AC: Yes, still in Irving. Though I have to say here, that Sea Wolf is definitely not a side project of Irving. Sea Wolf is very much a priority for me. (I only say this because of your review of the El Cid show.) I know that people who know Sea Wolf because of Irving will probably think of it as a side project, but I'd like to do anything I can to prevent that.

That said, Irving is back home as well for the next two weeks, and the record comes out April 4th.

You've just finished a Sea Wolf album that I think you've said it will be on sale at the show. Is that right?

AC: Nope. I’m in the process of getting it out to labels right now.

Ahh. So, what are you listening to these days?

AC: Nothing in particular right now, but I listened to Ennio Morricone's soundtrack for "Once Upon a Time in the West" today and it blew my mind.

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

The Echo is located at 1822 Sunset Blvd in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA. Doors open at 8:30, it’s free for 21+ and $5 for –21s , and the bands Meow Meow and The Little Ones will open.

Band of the Week: Thailand

After spending several months playing local venues like The Silver Lake Lounge and The Scene Bar, Thailand is taking a break to finish off their first album before summer-time rolls around.

If you haven’t heard them before, you really ought to head to their myspace page and download the four tracks the band has posted. They’re all really goddamn good and have made frequent appearances in mix cds I've made for friends since I first had the band recommended to me last year.

The songs are immediately likable indie pop, with lyrics that are both smart and catchy, and are at least a little reminiscent of that early Manchester sound.

While the band hides out to create more, the least you can do is to bone up on the music they’re gracefully providing you for free, yes?