Thursday, August 31, 2006

Band of the Week: The Mountain Goats

When singer/guitarist John Darnielle and SF producer John Vanderslice collaborate together on an album, something fantastic invariably occurs. The intersection of the polished pop music and stripped down acoustic sensibilities creates something larger than the sum of its parts.

The Mountain Goats’ previous few albums The Sunset Tree, We Shall All Be Healed, and All Hail West Texas are clear examples of this, with such numerous noteworthy tracks like the funny and sad The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton, the all whispery Dinu Lipatti’s Bones, survivor’s anthem This Year, and the raucous Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, The Triumph Of.

Darnielle writes lyrics that are often poetic, but are always full of style and wit. For instance, there’s The Fall of the Star High Running Back with its smart and catchy lines, “Selling acid was a bad idea and selling it to a cop was a worse one. New laws said that seventeen-year-olds could serve federal time. You were the first one, so I sing this song for you…”

And he’s also incredibly productive -- with a new album seemingly every nine months or so. I’m just starting to listen to last week’s Get Lonely but even being reminded about the band makes me dust off older cds to hear all my favorite songs. If The Mountain Goats’ label 4AD ever decided to put together a Best of collection, whoever was in charge of it would have a damn hard time fitting all of Darnielle’s greatest tracks on one album...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews - Ray LaMontagne, Comets On Fire, Primal Scream

Ray LaMontagne - Till The Sun Turns Black (RCA)
With the release of his sophomore album, Mr. La Montagne proves it was no fluke, he is the real deal. A more focused and restrained affair than his first, it is nonetheless a glorious piece, with gorgeous baroque string quartets and tasty brass fills that never overwhelm, only compliment his amazingly haunting vocals. This album only cements his place among the great troubadours of all time. Gabriel Burger

Comets On Fire - Avatar (Sub Pop)
Jampacked with sound, yet earthy and full of soil, retro, yet future-looking, Avatar is a beautiful, big record. While it may be their most accessible album to date, it still carries many challenges for the more discerning of listeners. A leap forward. Gabriel Burger

Primal Scream - Riot City Blues
Taking another break from the electronic world, they return to the ground they previously mined with Give Out But Don't Give Up, but to better effect. A swaggering, bluesy record, with plenty of sing-alongs, Riot City Blues is a perfect party record, not meant to be studied, only boogied to. Gabriel Burger

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 8/29

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds [40th Anniversary Super Deluxxxe Edition Gold Plated Audiophile CD/Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD/Hi-Res 96kHz/24-bit PCM stereo Laser Disc/Dolby HX Pro Stereo Cassette/Mono 8-track/4-Disc Quadraphonic 180-gram LP set in limited edition fuzzy package] (Capitol)
First 1000 copies also include actual locks of Brian Wilson's hair. Check out Stereogum for exclusive preview bonus material.

Bob Dylan - Modern Times (Sony)
Sorry, no Hi-Res 96kHz/24-bit PCM stereo mixes available here. However, if you pay a few more bucks for the "bonus edition," you get also get a DVD with 4 videos.

M. Ward - Post-War (Merge)
Merge records sez: "The fifth M. Ward album and his most absorbing yet. Its songs unravel their world-wearied tales of life, love, and human kindness with an innate and special grace, helped in part by the very talented friends who join him on this record, such as Neko Case and Mike Mogis, as well as old "Monsters Of Folk" touring buddy Jim James (My Morning Jacket)." Hear the new material for yourself live next Friday (9/8) at Metro.

The Roots - Game Theory
The Roots' join the Def Jam roster and earn 4-star credentials from The Guardian, who say its their best work yet.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "Where Have You Gone, Ogami Itto?")

So, hi. Yeah. I’m pleased as goddamn punch to announce that Radio Free Silver Lake is starting up a new monthly music night called Let's Independent! at Boardner's in Hollywood.

The first night takes place Tuesday, September 26th with three fantastic LA acts -- local legends The Movies, indy rock stars Great Northern, and summer pop dreamers The Western States Motel -- playing the night on the patio stage, while djs spin the huge club area.

Please save the date and let a few friends know to help push the night for us, eh? We'll be promoting the hell out of it, but we could use all the help we can get.

If you could make it, we'd really appreciate it. It's promising to be a great big party with some excellent music and people on-hand.

Here's the myspace page for the event where you can hear some songs from all three acts: Let's Independent!. Add us!

Now as far as this week’s shows go… Some weeks in LA there are so many good bands playing that you end up having to go out at least a few nights in a row. And this week looks like one of them.

Tonight is the final free residency night at Spaceland for The Little Ones, who are one of the best live acts in town.

On Tuesday, Eskimo Hunter – who the kids over at Rock Insider and Rewritable Content seem to both really like – are playing at Spaceland with The Minor Canon and Stars of Track & Field.

On Wednesday, the aforementioned Western States Motel are headlining The Silver Lake Lounge, along with Acute, Kiev, and Sunday Drivers.

Then, one of my favorite bands from NorCal, Rademacher, are coming down to play on Saturday at The Cog party in Glendale and Sunday at The Cocaine.

The following bands have recently announced show dates in LA: Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, Red Kross, Oh No! Oh My!, The Blood Arm, Of Montreal, The Like, Jose Gonzalez, Beirut, The Decemberists, Lavender Diamond, The Pink Mountaintops, The Silversun Pickups, M Ward, Mike Watt, Grizzly Bear, Ladytron, Benevento-Russo Duo, Rademacher, The Old Crow Medicine Show, Hem, DJ Shadow, The Films, Persephones Bees, The Grates, Die Princess Die, Kasabian, The Killers, La Rocca, A Shoreline Dream, Jeremy Enigk, Kinky, Soul Wax, The Ettes, Scissor Sisters, The Purrs, Fields, Jet, Billy Bragg, Favourite Sons, The Karabal Nightlife, and more. (See right-hand column for details.)

And before I forget, I wanted to point everyone over to the Reno-based music blog Chris Walker Versus. Chris recently did a great Division Day interview, in which RFSL was name-checked and linked to from, so I wanted to return the favor. Thanks, guys!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Central Second Collective Part 2: One Trick Pony, The Happy Hollows, and Die Rockers Die!

If you can remember way back to last week, we spoke with Rob Danson from rock-meets-folk act Death to Anders! and Christian Biel from experimental punks The Transmissions about how they helped create LA’s Central Second Collective, which is made up the aforementioned bands plus indie pop stars The Happy Hollows, the haunting One Trick Pony, the audio iconoclasts Die Rockers Die!, and power punks Anchors for Architects.

In the second part of our The Central Second Collective interview, Radio Free Silver Lake talks with members of The Happy Hollows (the interviewee remains mysteriously unnamed), One Trick Pony, and Die Rockers Die! about how they first formed, joined up with The Central Second, and what’s next for them.

How did you guys start up?

Randolph (One Trick Pony): After so many members coming and going, our manager Jen finally took over as drummer and our friend Morgan joined as bassist and we clicked.

Mystery Member (The Happy Hollows): Sarah had been writing songs and playing shows, by herself, in the L.A. area for some time. Charlie and Chris, who were friends previously, had recently moved, separately, to LA from Washington, DC. Charlie and Chris went to the same high school and were in the same band in DC, although not at the same time. Sarah answered an ad that Charlie and Chris placed in Craigslist and The Happy Hollows were born in the summer of 2005.

Champoy Hate (Die Rockers Die!): The band started with Oliver and I just playing in some garage after having moved here, away from the music scene community we were a part of in the southern area of the Philippines. We had no premonitions on how we wanted us to sound. The basic idea was just to do music that reflected the urgency that was much lacking at the local shows we have gone to which was mostly mediocre bands doing their own versions of their favorite bands.

DRD was basically our outlet to share about how we felt music should be: on the edge of danger and an experience that can shake people from where they stand! It really wasn’t much in the beginning considering we didn’t have any of the so-called "musical skills" necessary. But even that didn’t stop us from making music.

Because we understood our limitations and we knew then we'll never be as good as the bands that we love but we were willing to work it out with others who want to do the same thing with us. During our early shows, we pretty much just went out there and did whatever mindfuck no-wave noise that we can get away with.

We've had shows that others bands would probably die from due to the embarrassment we had to live with but we just kept on moving on and saw it all as part of the process that led us to wherever we are now.

Now we just hope to inspire everybody who wants to make music to just do it. People can always tell you shit but that doesn’t mean they can stop you. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it just because you don’t understand musical scales or any of those technical stuff...

And that’s how it is for Die Rockers Die!... Anything is possible -- including the possibility that we could just be full of shit!

How would you describe your sound? (You know, if you had to…)

Randolph (One Trick Pony): Our sound is dynamic mope rock! Lyrically moody, to say the least. We appreciate sonic minimalism and using drums (or cardboard box) sparingly effectively. Haunting, I’d say. Simple beat, raw bass, swooning melody lines…

Mystery Member (The Happy Hollows): Our sound is stripped down indie-pop. We layer vocals over both dissonant and melodic riffs. We have a playful, minimal sound as well as a good sense of highs and lows in structuring songs. The topics of our songs range from the colors of the rainbow to time travel to U.S. foreign policy.

Champoy Hate (Die Rockers Die!): We don’t really know how to answer that but since many people need to compartmentalize the full experience into some kind of description we just say it’s ORENROCK.

ORENROCK is what we do. Fully describing it would be totally pointless because it is not the point. How can we describe something that is not static and ever-changing? We can’t!

Truth is it’s hard to look into one's own eyes without a mirror. It’s just us doing what we do or what we feel we would want to experience in watching bands play.

Just go watch the shows…

How did you join the The Central Second Collective?

Randolph (One Trick Pony): We were good friends with Death to Anders! and even did our first tour together. They were friends with The Happy Hollows and we all saw The Transmissions together one night at The Cocaine and loved them. Thus The Central Second Collective was born.

Mystery Member (The Happy Hollows): Sarah and Nick of Death to Anders! have been friends since middle school. Death to Anders! introduced us to The Transmissions, One Trick Pony, and Die Rockers Die!.

We introduced them to Anchors for Architects. We started playing several shows with these bands throughout LA. We didn’t form the collective because we all play similar music, in fact, each band’s music is very different from the other bands. We just love all the bands’ music and we love all the bands’ members as people. They’re like our family.

Champoy Hate (Die Rockers Die!): We met rob from Death to Anders! at one of our shows and he told us about these other bands. D2A also played with Louie's band, art Damaged before which was were we saw The Happy Hollows, which totally blew us away. I was really impressed by their musical drive and energies and enjoyed the good vibrations.

It was flattering in the beginning to meet everybody at Central Second who respect and appreciate what we're about -- especially for a band who treads on their imperfections like DRD because these bands are bands I personally admire myself and I never really thought we were of the same caliber. But apparently they think we are. It’s either that they’re right or just plain crazy...

So finally they asked us and Anchors for Architects (another amazing band that has been really inspiring for us, too) to be a part of the collective. And Sarah from The Happy Hollows said they don’t take "NO" for an answer.

So, we said YES and we got together for the first time at Pete from Death to Anders!’ backyard. And here we are.

What’s next for you?

Randolph (One Trick Pony): After we finish our album Phantom Pains, we want to hit the road for a while.

Mysterious Unnamed Member (The Happy Hollows): We recently shot videos [for our songs] Meteors, My Wet Tongue, and Vietnam). My Wet Tongue was filmed at a private zoo and co-stars baby tigers, deer, forty cats, twenty dogs, an albino python, and a pig. Vietnam was filmed at Lacy Street Studios in Glendale. Meteors was filmed in a canyon, at the beach, and in Hollywood… It’s very California. We’re busy visualizing with the intention to manifest more wonderful happenings!

Champoy Hate (Die Rockers Die!): We’re currently at the finishing touches of our new record. Our previous recordings have always been done live and mostly in lo-fi quality because the songs were all done in a certain urgency that cannot be replicated but nowadays we are currently trying out a different option by tying to work on a more "produced" sounding album.

Being open can lead to a lot of new exciting things and we don’t really have much to lose to begin with. However it turns out, we are all ready to move on past it.

We just love to do this. The best part about all this is getting to meet people who share a passion for music and making music in general and being aware that if your heart is in the right place, you just keep on doing whatever it is you love...

Almost all the members of the Central Second Collective will play together on Thursday, September 7th at The Echo.

The Happy Hollows are also playing a free in-store at Sea Level Records on Saturday, September 16th and then at The Knitting Factory on Monday, October 9th, while Die Rockers Die! are playing The Cocaine on Saturday, September 16th.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Band of the Week: The Knife

Sweden's The Knife are really quite strange, but, really, really wonderfully so. Their earlier releases were infectuous oddities that seemed like they were from the same planet Bjork is from, but their latest album Silent Shout is more unique, more bizarre, and somehow … more accessible, too.

But the best way to share them is probably just to let you experience them for yourself, via two videos. The first is for We Share Our Mother’s Health off of Silent Shout and is directed by Brooklyn-based visual artist Motomichi Nakamura. The second is the creepily charming Pass This On off the cd Deep Cuts.

The Knife are playing The El Rey Theatre here in LA on Saturday, November 4th. Tickets are $24 and the venue is located at 5515 Wilshire Blvd.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: Irving

Check out this great footage of indy pop all-stars Irving performing live at Sonic Boom Records in Seattle last May. The song's one of my favorites from them... I Can't Fall In Love off of their I Hope You're Feeling Better Now EP from way back in, y'know, 2003.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 8/22

Jason Molina - Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (Secretly Canadian)
I wanted badly to revisit the type of songs I did on my more experimental albums The Pyramid, The Ghost, and Protection Spells. I put this project together in the last days before I began what was a long and harrowing move back to Chicago. I wrote these songs as well as the half dozen or so that did not make it over the course of 3 mornings in Bloomington, Indiana and recorded them one after the other in the order they were written. -Jason Molina

Download: Jason Molina - "Get Out Get Out Get Out" (MP3)

Mountain Goats - Get Lonely (4AD)
While Get Lonely takes the mood (read: professionalism) of Sunset Tree as a starting point, it's a much less compelling record. Note the title's jokey take on Elvis Costello's Get Happy!!!; is Darnielle distancing himself from the sincerity of the autobiographical Sunset Tree? Sort of, but not really. Darnielle maintains his mastery of the mundane—can anyone else compare a choir of angels to "marbles being thrown against a mirror" quite so convincingly?—but the poetics are lost on some truly forgettable melodies...Get Lonely is by no means the disaster that Lou Reed's spin on Poe, The Raven, was, but it's similar in that both records' lackluster songs do disservice to the overt literary quality of the lyrics. -Slant Magazine

Watch: The Mountain Goats - "Woke Up New" (YouTube)

Primal Scream - Riot City Blues (Sony)
Damn, the press push for this record just keeps getting worse (which I guess is appropriate for this one). With Riot City Blues getting its domestic release this week, I found this genius piece of promotion on MySpace yesterday. If you buy their album via Filter Magazine you get a free "Country Girl" wife beater!?! Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one? And what's up with that wacky band photo? Are they acting out a scene for improv or something?

Ratatat - Classics (XL)

Not really sure why these guys are getting so much buzz. That "Wildcat" song was kind of amusing the first time I heard it, but after like the 3rd listen it becomes annoying as fuck. I think I'm refusing to like this band because I'm just so tired of this brand of ironic new wave electro dance rock. It's just so overdone and uninspiring. Granted this music is supposed to be light-hearted and fun, but there just doesn't seem to be a shred of depth, originality, or real emotion me it just seems fueled almost entirely on ironic posturing. For example, remember Daft Punk's "Celebrate?" That song was totally cheesy and very retro-tastic, but it actually did make you want to celebrate, you know? It was complete ear candy to the dance floor, but there was some real emotion and energy packed in that song that could even make a jaded music junkie like myself smile (at least for the first 100 some times I heard it). I don't get anything remotely close to that with Ratatat. All their music does is make me vaguely tap my finger on the can of PBR that I'm vaguely enjoying.

New Releases Tuesday returns with a vengeance! Lots more new releases out this week...

Eric Bachman - To The Races (Saddle Creek)
Broadcast - Future Crayon [B-sides and rarities collection] (Warp)
Crooked Still - Shaken By A Low (Signature Sounds)
Cursive - Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek)
J Dilla - The Shining (Stones Throw)
Judah Johnson - Be Where I Be (Flameshovel)
Electrelane - Singles, B-Sides & Live
M. Ward - Post-War (Merge)
Amy Millan - Honey From the Tombs (Arts & Crafts)
Miss Derringer - Lullabies (Sympathy For The Record Industry)
My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me The Workhorse (Asthmatic Kitty)
Nouvelle Vague - Brande A Part [domestic release](Luaka Bop)
Jennifer O'Connor - Over the Mountain, Across the Valley, and Back to the Stars (Matador)
OutKast - Idlewild (Arista)
Pajo - 1968 (Drag City)
Razorlight - S/T [domestic release] (Universal)
Snowden - Anti-Anti (Jade Tree)
Starsailor - On The Outside [domestic release](EMI)
The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine (Sub Pop)
Uzeda - Stella (Touch and Go)
Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection (Sub Pop)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "They Weren't Born But Made")

So, the third annual Fuck Yeah Fest took place last weekend here in Echo Park and bands like Giant Drag, Dios Malos, The Silversun Pickups, The Thermals, and Foreign Born played.

How was it?! I should ask you that because as Lou Reed once said, "Some people like to go dancin’. Other people? We gots to work!" Seriously, let me ask you. Please write in with your comments.

But, yeah. I know. That’s the past. We all want to live in the future. Well, here are some of this week’s show highlights.

There’s not only another free Monday night residency show at Spaceland for local wunderkinds The Little Ones, but The French Kicks are also playing The Troubadour in support of their new album. And even later on tonight, experimental pop stars Eagle & Talon will perform for free at the after party at Star Shoes.

Tuesday sees Silver Mount Zion rocking out The Vanguard, The Mountain Goats will play a free in-store at Amoeba Records on Wednesday, and both Let’s Go Sailing, Acute, and Oh No! Oh My! at The Echo (doors open early at 7) on Thursday.

Then, Sunset Junction occurs here in Silver Lake this weekend… On Saturday, The Little Ones, Lavender Diamond, Monsters Are Waiting, Great Northern, Darker My Love, Red Kross, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and more play, while Hank Williams III, The Cramps, I See Hawks in LA, and more perform at the event on Sunday.

And besides that this weekend, The Mountain Goats, Jenny Lewis, Aimee Mann, and more will appear at Royce Hall at UCLA as part of Revenge of the Book Eaters on Saturday and The Devil Romantics will entertain at All Star Lanes in Eagle Rock on Sunday.

Oh, and two things before I forget… First, huge props out to my friend Josh Berquist, who filled in for me last Monday when I was camping up in scenic Mount Shasta. Thanks, Josh!

Secondly, did you hear that Sea Wolf will be the Monday night residency headliner for the month of September at Spaceland? Yeah, one of the best bands in town will be playing for free four times in a month, so do the math: There’s absolutely not excuse not to go to at least three of them.

Alright, that’s it. I’m out. Back to work. These video games aren't going to make themselves...

- Mini-Interview: The Little Ones
- Mini-Interview: Sea Wolf

Friday, August 18, 2006

Central Second Collective Inteview Pt 1: Death to Anders & The Transmissions

We’ve covered bands from Los Angeles’ The Ship Collective extensively on Radio Free Silver Lake in the past. It hasn’t been an intentional plan or effort. It’s just that there are a large number of excellent independent rock and pop acts within the East side cooperative.

But there’s another musical operation in town, one where the bands skew a bit more experimental in their sound. And that’s The Central Second Collective, which is made up of rock-versus-folk act Death to Anders!, punk outfit The Transmissions, power popsmiths The Happy Hollows, the shoe-gazy One Trick Pony, the self-described “ever-changing” Die Rockers Die!, and punk outfit Anchors for Architects.

We spoke with Rob Danson from Death to Anders! and Christian Biel from The Transmissions about how both the collective and their bands first came together.

How did The Central Second Collective start?

Christian (The Transmissions): We all sort of met each other through a venue in Little Tokyo called The Cocaine, which was founded by our good friend Johnnie Munger of Milk:Blood.

The first four bands of the collective -- The Transmissions, The Happy Hollows, Death to Anders!, One Trick Pony -- kept showing up at each others shows. We started hanging out more and just thought, maybe we could name our group of friends and kind of spread the word about these amazing bands we’re discovering.

Rob (Death to Anders!): All of us got along so well, that we began booking entire nights together. We played mostly at The Cocaine, but we also put on great shows at The Silver Lake Lounge and The Good Hurt.

After [awhile], we began to realize that not only did we share the same fans, but many bands were wanting to be a part of the group we subconsciously put together. I called up Sarah from The Happy Hollows and we decided that we should just make our group an official collective. After a couple of meetings, we decided to name our collective Central Second, because The Cocaine (the venue that brought all of us together) is located on the corner of Central and 2nd Ave. in downtown LA. Since then, two other bands have joined the collective: Die! Rockers Die! and Anchors for Architects.

One of the reasons we made this collective is for the fans. The biggest thing that’s hurting the Los Angeles music scene is the complete lack of community. Bands at the local level book shows without knowing (or caring) about any of the other bands on the bill. The result is that their fans arrive to the show right before that band goes on, and leaves right after, without hearing the other music. I started the Central Second to fix all of this.

Instead of putting on fragmented 45 minute sets comprised of random acts and genres, we strive to put on an entire night of music that we think everyone that comes will enjoy. For any specific Central Second show we put on, we choose the lineup in such a way that if someone likes one of the bands on the bill, he or she will more than likely enjoy all [of them]. The result is that the fans end up arriving at the very beginning and leaving at the very end of the night.

The Central Second Collective was also created to help out the bands involved. For example, it’s much more efficient to have all the bands pull their funds and time together in order to promote for the shows that they’re all playing at. In LA, most bands never even think to contact the other bands on the bill to try and promote together. I believe that by not doing that, their promotional efforts become more expensive and more time consuming. It’s much easier to promote as a team because we are already friends and we also have each other’s contact information.

What ties all the bands together?

Rob (Death to Anders!): The Cocaine (at Live Jazz) ties all of these bands together. Not only is that where most of us met, but its also a great place where all of us can feel at home. Our music is really welcome there and the people that come to see the music are really supportive. The bartenders and sushi chefs are the nicest people ever!

Besides The Cocaine, our mutual inspiration for each of the collective bands ties all of us together as well. We all look up to one another and really support every band. In this case, we can be seen as a team, helping each and every band to be stronger. If a certain band in the collective achieves a successful goal (i.e. radio play, a larger fan base, a great spot at a new venue, etc.), they will inform the other bands on what they did so that everyone can grow together.

Christian from The Transmissions: in ways, I feel like the collective is a macrocosm of how all of our bands function. Each of us are made up of members with a wide range of influences, yet with some key similar influences. The similar influences are just enough to tie it all together with cohesion, yet the disparate influences make for something volatile and new. I feel that's what ties all the bands together.

We're all very different in many ways, but you can absolutely hear a bit of each band in the next one. I even think we are all starting to inspire each other to write new songs that have a flavor of one of the other collective bands. That's very exciting to me that that is happening.

How did Death to Anders and The Transmissions first begin?

Rob (Death to Anders!): Nick and I started the band about 2 years ago. We were both involved in the Recording Artist Program at the Musician’s Institute and our total estrangement from the death metal rockers and MTV wanna-be posers (which unfortunately makes up the majority of the students) brought us together.

Right off the bat, we had this bitter/sweet relationship. Nick was way into indie/folk bands such as Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, and The Decemberists, while I was into more abrasive noisy music such as Pavement, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

The polar opposite sounds actually complimented each other quite nicely when we got together to write.

Christian (The Transmissions): Denise and I met each other at a show and started playing together with a friend at his house just for fun. After a few months of goofing around I started writing songs for a band and then we went through a handful of bass players, none of whom seemed appropriate for the type of music Denise and I were drifting towards. Then we met Josh online and it just seemed to click.

The composition also shifted away from being centered around me and very much became a group collaboration. We truly are a weird hybrid monster of influences. We all have occasional cross-over favorites like Talking Heads or Stereolab, but each of us are really into particular artists that the others know nothing about or just don't care for much.

I think it makes for a unique sound in ways, because as much as any of us may be inspired by our influences. The sum of the three of us together makes for something a little different.

What’s next for you?

Rob (Death to Anders!): We all feel like we’re on a roll right now and we just want to keep up our momentum. We’ve been playing some really great shows at The Silver Lake Lounge and at The Cocaine. We would like to expand these shows to The Echo and Spaceland in the future. We’re currently focusing on getting reviews for our full-length album Punctuate the Calamities and putting some of those songs on the radio.

We’re also in the studio recording seven new songs. We’ll post them on our Myspace page once they’re done. These new songs can possibly lead to an EP or even another full-length album.

Christian (The Transmissions): we all are making a best effort to not let the collective become anything that’s elitist or more important than our individual friendships. So in that sense, we’re all just moving forward with booking our own shows and handling the business side of making music in our own individual ways.

As for The Transmissions, we are looking forward to recording a second album soon, and heading back out on the road. Hopefully we can make it to NY soon, since we haven't made it that far east yet.

That's it for the first part of our Central Second Collective interview. We'll publish the second part -- which focuses on acts The Happy Hollows, Die Rockers Die!, and One Trick Pony-- next Friday.

All the members of the Central Second Collective will play together on Thursday, September 7th at The Echo.

Death to Anders! also will appear on at The Cocaine on August 20th and at Mr. T’s Bowl on August 28, while The Transmissions will play August 19 at The Airliner, August 21 at Mr. T’s Bowl, and September 17th at Little Pedros.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Band of the Week: Say Hi To Your Mom

You know, this Brooklyn-based indie rock act's recent album Impeccable Blahs is really kind of amazing. After listening to it once or twice, I started remarking to friends that the whispery little track Blah Blah Blah was the "feel-good indie rock hit of the summer," but soon realized that there are actually four songs on it that could vie for that title.

From the Love & Rockets-ish Sad, But Endearingly So to the super poppy Sweet Sweetheart Killer, the album is full of catchy, immediately likeable tracks. In fact, the only cds I've heard in the last year with as many noteworthy songs on them are Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary and Tapes 'n Tapes' The Loon.

The band's myspace page is missing some of the album's strongest tracks. You can still hear the quite good These Fangs and Angels and Darlas there, but to get the best ones you'll have to pick up the album. Which you should.

Oh, and fair warning? Most of the songs are about vampires. I don't know why. It's silly, but somehow oddly charming in practice...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: The Silversun Pickups

Have you been noticing how much attention that The Silversun Pickups have been getting lately? Geesh, they've even played them on KROQ, for christ's sake.

I have to say that it's great to see it happening. They're a fantastic band -- the best live act in LA for some time now -- and deserve all the airplay and praise.

Here's a video they put together for the song Kissing Families off of their EP Pikul. Like all good things, it features both beer-spilling and levitation.

The Silversun Pickups are playing a sold-out show this Thursday at The Troubadour and then at The Echo on Saturday night as part of Fuck Yeah Fest.

RELATED LINK: Mini-Interview: The Silversun Pickups

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 8/15

The new releases summer drought continues...this week nothing but Pete Yorn, Christine Aguilera and (muthafuckin) Snakes on a Plane: The Album. "If you think the movie looks awful, wait 'till you hear the soundtrack!!"

Since nothing new to list on the releases front, how about some "Modern Rock on the Telly" courtesy of

Tonight: K.T Tunstall on Conan
Wednesday: Aimee Mann on Carson Daly
Thursday: The Duke Spirit on Carson Daly
Friday: Belle & Sebastian on Conan, Feist on Carson Daly

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (or "Somehow the Best Parts Stayed the Same")

Sometimes the past comes back around to give you another chance at what was missed. That opportunity is coming up as the elusive ESG return to The Ex-Plx/Echo on October 28. After keeping quiet for almost five years, the reunited and invigorated godmothers of bands ranging from Liars to LCD Soundsystem to Public Enemy revisited LA just last February and now they're headed here again. Their influence cannot be overstated and seeing them is something that should thrill hipsters and historians alike.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves though. There's a lot of amazing shows happening just this week alone. Monday night you can mope-out with Black Heart Procession and Castanets at The Knitting Factory while Tuesday promises an incendiarily namesake-invoking performance by Comets on Fire at The Echo. Wednesday the mighty matrimonial Mates of State play Amoeba Music for free while Birdmonster and Division Day give you indie rock at Spaceland. Surging stars Silversun Pickups have already sold-out The Troubadour so Thursday is all about Two Sheds at The Silver Lake Lounge. Fuck Yeah Fest opens Friday and keeps kicking ass on through Sunday with an impossibly awesome lineup including 400 Blows, Blood Meridian, Burning Brides, Dios Malos, The Thermals, Darker My Love, Foreign Born, Midnight Movies, The Ponys, and Erase Errata. The Clientele offer some slight reprieve at The Knitting Factory on Saturday and Sunday brings the Franco-Cambodian billing of Nous Non Plus and Dengue Fever to Safari Sam's.

Back to the future, there are a lot more big shows coming up. Grizzly Bear, Juana Molina, Xiu Xiu, and Wolf Eyes have all announced dates at The Echo. Brian Jonestown Massacre have booked a two night stand at Safari Sam's on September 23 and 24 while Yeah Yeah Yeahs take over The Palladium on October 1 and 2. International internet sensations The Knife are at The El Rey on November 4 while the Avalon has unleashed new dates for CocoRosie, Feist, DJ Shadow, and Secret Machines. Last but not least, Lily Allen makes her very first Los Angeles appearance at The Troubadour on October 14.

But wait, there's more! The following have also announced dates in LA: Magnolia Electric Co, The Advantage, Alias & Tarsier, The Hidden Cameras, White Whale, The Tyde, Starflyer 59, Califone, Bettie Serveert, The Kooks, Mudhoney, Howlin' Rain, Frank Black, Kite Flying Society, Monsters are Waiting, Lemon Sun, The Human Value, WovenHand, Viva Voce, Rogue Wave, Jason Collett, Silversun Pickups, Teddy's Cheer Club, Mojave 3, The Black Keys, Nina Nastasia, and Thunderbirds Are Now! (See right-hand column for details.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mini-Interview: Earlimart

No conversation about the LA independent music scene would be complete without mention of Earlimart, one of the East Side's brightest and most influential mainstays.

And beyond Earlimart's significance as a band, lead Aaron Espinoza is also known for his production and engineering work (The Breeders, Grandaddy, Irving) and helping start The Ship collective, a group of local bands who not only practice and record at the nautically-themed studio in Eagle Rock, but ... gasp, is this really the every-crumb-for-himself City of Angels?! ... help each other out.

We recently spoke with Espinoza about all of these things. And more.

Hi, Aaron. So, you just released a limited edition 7" on Suicide Squeeze Records with two songs off of your new album and an exclusive track for them. (And their new 10th anniversary two-disc cd comp has that extra track on it, too.)

You’ve said in a previous interview that you when you're engineering you want the music to sound like the time you had while making them, whether you were drunk or sober or sad or happy or rich or poor.

What were you during these three songs?

Let's see... Pretty much drunk, happy and rich!

How’s the rest of the album coming along? What was your experience creating and recording these songs?

Well, it's pretty much finished… just a few more songs to mix. This record was pretty difficult. It's taken the longest to finish (write and record, etcetera). About 9 months officially. Kinda like a pregnancy.

It definitely has been very up and down for us in the past year. Getting out of our deal with Palm, shopping for a new deal, getting two deals, losing two deals, huge writers block, losing band members, gaining band members, getting engaged!, getting beat up by the bouncers at El Cid.

The list goes on and on. Good and bad.

How are they different from your earlier albums? Would you still call it end-of-the-movie music?

I dunno... Maybe more like between Act II and Act III music. A bit more pivotal? A turning point in the story. I don't know.

It's been really great to get to the end of this thing. Through all the hard stuff the band endured, it's made us closer, creatively and personally. It's much more of a collaboration between Ariana, Joel and I than ever before. Pretty great.

When’s it due out?

Well, as these things go... We are still currently unsigned, so don't know the exact answer for that question. We’re hoping very early next year. The sooner, the better.

How did The Ship collective come together?

In the beginning (in 1998), it was a necessity for us. We needed a place to record, rehearse, and hang out. That's what The Ship studio basically was... Earlimart, Irving, Pine Marten, Silversun Pickups. Nobody was making records for us back then.

And early on... not a lot of people came to the shows, so we became our own little support group. Recording, playing together, crying on each others shoulders. That sorta thing.

Now I think The Ship has changed a bit. The bands and artists and friends associated with it have all gone on to do a bunch of great stuff outside of our little group. Silversun and Irving don't always record at the ship, The bands tour nationally and internationally, bunches of people come to the shows.

Everybody has found some level of success within their own thing [and] I think that's great! I think that was the whole point of starting this in the first place.

How do you balance out your time between your engineering work and your own music?

I'm trying to do a bit more of the engineering/producing stuff lately. When Earlimart released Everyone Down Here and Treble, we toured constantly for three years. That kinda took me out of the studio for a while. Now we've got some down time before the next release, I'd like to record some other bands or have more bands working at the ship besides Earlimart. I guess I just try to find time between making Earlimart records and driving from California to New York over and over.

What’s your favorite song that you’ve ever worked on? Why?

That's tough... I really have a fond memory of working on this e.p. that was a Grandaddy/Earlimart collaboration. It was a lot of fun and not fun all rolled into one.

It was really about working with people really close to me: the Grandaddies and the Earlimarts. Just a real big weird family. The idea was that the members of Earlimart would work on a couple of Jason Lytle's songs and vice versa.

I think it was a total of five very long days at The Ship. A couple years ago now, maybe? But there was this one tune that Lytle had I Heart California, and it was so fucking good. Period.

It was really really fun to watch/record Davey (Earlimart) playing drums on the song and Ariana (Earlimart) singing back ups in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style voice, "I love California." It's seriously so so fucking good. I hope that e.p. comes out soon.

But that's a whole other conversation.

What’s next for you?

The finish line.

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

Besides the obvious... I like Giant Drag, Tigers Can Bite You, and The Eagles.

That's all. Thanks for your time, Aaron.

Now, here's the title track off of the Answers & Questions 7" on Suicide Squeeze Records.

MP3: Answers & Questions

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Band of the Week: Two Sheds

It’s hard to make it all the way through Two ShedsStrange Ammunition without stopping and replaying songs over again. You eventually just reconcile with yourself to let it play and hear what next it has to offer.

That's because there are such a surprising number of excellent tracks on the album… from Mine, a quiet number reminiscent of a less heroiny Mazzy Star, which effectively melts your mind when singer/songwriter Caitlin Gutenberger finally arrives at the song title … to the perfectly rollicky Momma …to the swords-beaten- into-plowshares sounding Ballad of the Salty Dog … to the near hymnal For Theresa… to the lingering It’s Hard, where Gutenberger’s throaty hum clocks in somewhere between PJ Harvey and Cat Power’s Chan Marshall... It goes on and on, each song its own distinct little animal.

The Sacramento trio -- who also include former Jackpot and Far members John Gutenberger and Rusty Miller -- are coming to LA next week on Thursday, August 17th to play The Silver Lake Lounge. And you know what? I can't think of another band I'd really rather like to see right now.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: CocoRosie

Sometimes I feel like CocoRosie make the sort of music you'd hear from a community of winged hermaphrodites existing free in the wild somewhere...

And the video for their strangely compelling song Noah's Ark -- off the 2005 album by the same name -- only reinforces that image in my mind even further.

CocoRosie are playing in LA next month at The Avalon in Hollywood on Friday, September 8th.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 8/8

Unless you're an Ani DiFranco fan, another really slow week as far as new releases go.

La Rocca - The Truth (Dangerbird)
I guess I had always discounted these guys as just another generic American indie rock band, but it turns out they're actually from the U.K.(though L.A. has become their adopted home). Also, once you skip through their gratuitous rawk/indie pop anthems, they actually show a bit of personality and originality as you dig deeper on this debut record. Not a genius record by any means, but something worth a second listen on a slow week.

Download: La Rocca - "The Life" (MP3)

The Cure - Head on the Door [Deluxe Edition] (Rhino)
The Cure - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me [Deluxe Edition] (Rhino)
The Cure Top [Deluxe Edition] (Rhino)

Rhino continues their "deluxe" reissues of classic Cure releases, remastering the original tracks and including an extensive second disc for each featuring outtakes and rarities. Not recommended for the casual fan who once owned a used copy of Staring At the Sea in college.

Download: The Cure - "In Between Days" (MP3)

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (or "Everyone Looks At You And They Fall Like Stars")

You know, I never thought I'd be glad to see cool, cloudy days during the summer in Los Angeles, but after those super hot days a few weeks back, I've really come to appreciate them. There's a chill in the air right now and it's so frigging nice... (My apologies to all you kids out east.)

Tonight, the smile merchants otherwise known as The Little Ones begin their free Monday night residency at Spaceland -- and, as someone whose paid money to see them play in the past and been quite happy about it, I can’t recommend going to see them more. They’re one of the most fun live acts in LA right now.

On Thursday night, there's a free in-store from local indie rock act Tigers Can Bite You at Sea Level Records at 7pm. I haven’t heard them live yet, but friends tell me they’re great and I really like the demo tracks on their myspace page, and what better way to check them out than for frees.

On Sunday, the power-poppy Happy Hollows and hard-to-describe-yet-pretty-rad Fucked Five will play at ? at All-Star Lanes in Eagle Rock, which is one of my favorite old bowling alleys around. Should be great fun.

And next week is the third annual Fuck Yeah Fest
in Echo Park across a few different venues from Friday, August 18th to Sunday, August 20th, with such bands as The Bronx, 400 Blows, Blood Meridian, Burning Brides, Future Pigeon, Giant Drag, Dios Malos, The Thermals, Darker My Love, Foreign Born, Shapes & Sizes, Midnight Movies, Dead Meadow, The Ponies, Erase Errata, Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, and more.

The following bands have also recently announced dates in LA: Tortoise, The Dears, Starsailor, Band of Horses, The Junior Boys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Hold Steady, The Bird & The Bee, Briertone, Molecules, Kind Hearts & Coronets, Darker My Love, Great Northern, The Colour, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Wonderground, Spacekitti, Bank Holiday, Comets on Fire, Indian Jewelry, Enid the Dowl, The Devils Romantics, Mon Frere, The Front, The Western States Motel, Kiev, Withdrawl, Asobi Sesku, and more. (See right-hand column for details.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

TV On The Radio: The Lost Interview

Like a sundial, the New York City subway system found purpose with the sun. The heat fell through sidewalks, collected in the rails and kindled the metropolitan train grid to an electric coil, simmering everything ground level to a walking fever.

I flew in from Chicago for a wedding. This time, the airplane losing my bag was very helpful; in that week the summer of 2003, happily dislodged from my effects, I wore my friend’s coveted Nugent shirt all week and propelled wherever I could—a very merry almost-24-hours of it with TV On The Radio.

With my recording device safe in my still unproduced luggage, I asked them over lunch to write mission statements on napkins and tried my memory with the adventures that ensued: more lunch, opening for Café Tacuba at the Bowery ballroom that night and the magic of Brooklyn for the lovely rest of it.

The folks over at Under the Radar for whom I was writing the piece for, wanted more quotations. TV On The Radio was releasing their first EP, Young Liars on Touch and Go Records. Some of this interview appeared in the article, most did not. So here you go, fall in love.

Subject: urgent: my editor wants more 'exact quotations' from you

Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 21:14:46 -0700 (PDT)

thank you thank you thank you for your mission statements. (damn kids, you done handed me poetry.) & i read your lyrics to a friend on the phone. she hadn't realized they weren't poems until i told her. she then says she wants to be friends with you. it's beautiful stuff, that. what's your writing process?

that's incredibly nice of your friend to say, and she can prove her friendship by picking us up at the Port Authority if ever we are "in trouble". Most of EP, lyrically, was scribbled in notebooks and muttered into four-tracks and answering machines before they were real songs.

I think it's a pretty typical process. It starts by getting incredibly frustrated by a situation, any situation, coming to an impasse with the real world and what you can do about it, and realizing that laying that frustration out in words and then setting it to music is ultimately more productive than taking a crowbar to someone's headlight or drinking or watching tv.

It's not always frustration, though. It can be elation. Writing and playing, creating, its just a good outlet to be outofyourmind depressed, or inspired or happy or lecherous without bugging the hell out of your friends or courting a prison stay.

any author/s you were thinking of while writing it?

Rumi. Mystic poetry was really appealling to me when we were writing last time. Most of the poetry that I've read of his is about a longing for a connection with ...the infinite, or that nameless faceless thing, this oh of course oh eternal yess bliss, but yearning for that as you'd yearn for a lover, and getting it.

Everyone should read some Rumi. I swear I'm NOT a hippie. He predates the hippies by a few centuries. It's great. Other authors? Raymond Pettibone, James Baldwin, Charles Schulz, E.E. Cummings and Banana Yoshimoto figure in there somehow, but most of the lyrics were scraped together from journals.

I don't know. Sorry to talk about yearning like that, but these poems are REALLY good. I'm not a hippie.

we talked about david's poetry compilation at lunch. how much are you influenced by words in your music, and in general?

I love words. They've ruined everything.

there's some speak mixed in your songs. it reminded me of walking down metropolitan ave. listening to the hispanic women in the street. what was the impetus?

That was a recording of some people I used to know telling a joke that to this day I haven't been motivated enough to translate. I'm pretty sure that someone, possibly me ,was being ridiculed. It's something about a stunning dress and a cow that no one wants, and for some reason it goes with the song. creepy.

come to think of it, all songs on the ep remind me of walking around brooklyn at night, like that night after your show when we were trying to decide where to go. did you have this in mind?

We made a lot of it in Brooklyn at night, so that might be it. My friend Marc, who used to live in the loft we recorded in wrote me and said that the ep reminded him of the place in the dead of winter, streetlights shining in through taped up windows, unpainted dry walls, exposed wires, rough floorboards and lonliness.

Then he said it was strangely uplifting at the same time, just like us not getting evicted the month after was strangely uplifting.

I agree with both you. There's some brooklyn on it. adding to this, fact #4 is brooklyn, ny. would you care to explain? (or have you explained this enough already?)

No, I don't think we've explained it at all, yet. Fact # 3 was that the night we finished the ep, our upstairs neighbor called the landlord and requested that Dave be kicked out of the building for being too loud, and the landlord went for it, so fact #3 was basically that David Andrew Sitek and TV on the Radio are too loud for the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, because as everyone knows, you move to Williamsburg for the wine shops, the tree lined streets and, of course, the eerie artless silence that pervades every overpriced air conditioned rentmare from sassy Bedford Ave to New Bushwick Lane.

It's petty, but it's our petty and we're proud of it.

i noticed TVOTR played a live soundtrack to a film showing in Brooklyn. what was the film, and how did you like it? has TVOTR done this before? will you do more?

No, we played before a film festival at Rooftop Films, here in Brooklyn. However, we'd be down to play soundtracks during silent film screenings. So, yes we've never done it before, but we'd like to do more.

any comments, questions?

We will be touring all over this America in November. Our website will have the info soon. Also, "Magsaysay" is a name that everyone should learn at least twice. So cool.

so, can i write about you needing a nutritionist?

Please. A full page ad. "Wanted: Someone to monitor TV On The Radio's blood sugar/ fried food intake. " It needs to stop. The bad nutrition NEEDS TO STOP.

Written by J.R. Magsaysay, who says, "thank you tunde adibimpe, you are god's green..."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Wednesday Show Low Down (Or "While You Were Sleeping With The Enemy")

Bad Interweb weather has struck the RFSL home office this week, turning the regular Monday Show Low Down column into a Wednesday one. My girlfriend informs me that it’s caused by mercury being in retrograde and the aftershocks of it will clear up by Thursday. Meanwhile, my self-attempts at phrenology have been inconclusive -- except to rudely imply that I’m some sort of ineffectual career criminal -- and the goat I sacrificed on Tuesday morning appears to have had little to no discernable effect.

After missing both Say Hi To Your Mom at The Echo and Dirty on Purpose -- two of my favorite new bands -- at Spaceland on Saturday night, my heart is so full of regret I find it hard to describe. (Cough.) It's a disasterbacle of epic proportions... Or something.

Monday was the last free residency night for Darker My Love at Spaceland and The Ettes at The Echo, while last night was the final Tuesday residency show for Bedroom Walls, who are fantastic live and you ought to see them next time they play. (Unfortunately last time I caught them, they had to perform an abbreviated set because the amateur comedy hour that occurs on Tuesdays at El Cid ran late.)

The big show event this week is actually a nearly two-hour drive south at San Diego's Street Scene, where Queens of the Stone Age, Wolfmother, Tapes n Tapes, The Shins, Modest Mouse, and more are playing on Friday and Saturday. Then here on Sunday, Giant Drag, The Submarines, The Upside Down, and Restaurant are playing the Little Radio BBQ downtown.

As far as new show announcements go? I'm still catching up, but Band of Horses are coming to The Avalon on October 2nd and Sound Team and Voxtrot are returning to town on November 1st at The Troubadour. More soon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 8/1

A random non-holiday/non-winter New Releases Tuesday with virtually nothing new?!? The record industry must be on summer break....anyway, here are a couple of gems that slipped through the cracks this week.

Monsieur Gainsbourg - The Originals (Verve Forecast)
Companion release to the Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited tribute album from earlier this year that featured Franz Ferdinand, Cat Power, Michael Stipe, Jarvis Cocker, etc. Even if you missed that one, this still makes for as good as Serge greatest hits collection as there is out there. Check this one out, everybody needs at least one Serge album in their collection.

Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - Off and on Broadway (Sarathan Records) [DVD]
Watched this last night and loved it. If you're not familair with the band, the Trachtenburgs consist of "dad" on vocals/keys, the 12-year old daughter on drums and "mom" working the visuals via a slide projector. Its kitschy as hell, but it's almost impossible not to fall in love with this band after watching this DVD. Overall, it's really more of a rock doc than live DVD, though there are numerous live performances in their entirety featured in the main film as well as in the bonus extras.