Friday, September 29, 2006

Mini-Interview: Say Hi To Your Mom

When I first got Say Hi To Your Mom’s latest album Impeccable Blahs back in early August, I listened to it a lot. Since then, I’ve listened to it even more. In the future? I plan to keep on listening to it.

It’s just one of those albums that demand that sort of constant attention … Not to say that’s it's needy. In fact, it’s the opposite: It’s a giver.

It provides new wave beats so good they can charm those who don’t even like new wave, pop hooks that can catch the most cynical ear, and lines so sharp that they could slice a man in two before he even knows he's being cut.

Since I didn’t really know a damn thing about Say Hi To Your Mom, the cd was a complete -- and completely pleasant -- surprise.

Still, I needed to know more… So, I checked in with band frontman Eric Elbogen to ask him a dozen or so questions he’s probably heard a hundred times before.

But, in the end? I'd like to think we both learned something…

(Or else I might be writing while drunk again.)

Hi, Eric. How’s it going? How long have you been doing this?

I started Say Hi To Your Mom in 2002. Before that I had been playing in bands for ten years and had been writing songs for about fourteen years. Wow, that makes me feel old ...

You were a solo artist for your first few albums. What made you decide to change to a full band?

I didn’t. Jeff and Chris had been touring with me for a couple years and we got along and they were good players and when it was time to make the record they got involved. I’m very glad they did.

I actually just played my last show with them though, because they’ve decided they don’t want to tour anymore. I’m about to move away from New York too, to the west coast somewhere, at least for a while.

I’ve heard you say elsewhere that Impeccable Blahs is, for lack of a better term, a concept album where all the songs are based around vampires. First off, why vampires?

Why not vampires?

Do all of the songs have that theme? I can certainly hear it in These Fangs, Blah Blah Blah, and She Just So Happens To Date The Prince of Darkness, but not in tracks like Sad … But Endearingly So.

The theme is there in all the songs, although it is a little more blatant in some. Sad is a song about vampires interviewing their potential prey.

Were you testing yourself by sticking with one theme?

Not so much testing myself as much as just making the writing process a little more interesting for myself.

Okay. You’re probably tired of talking about who your influences are. So let me ask you instead, how have your influences changed over the course of recording four albums?

I don’t know that they have changed because of making records. They change I guess because new, great records come out and when I hear them, it’s like they are giving me the finger, saying “Ha! Beat that, you wimp.”

That happened with certain Spoon records, certain Radiohead records, certain Broken Social Scene records...

What the name of your band from?

It’s actually my legal name, Eric Elbogen is just a pseudonym.

You just went on tour with Dirty on Purpose. How did that go? (Sorry, I missed you guys play in LA.)

It was great. I love those guys. And they party harder than Say Hi ever has, so hanging out with them redefined the idea of being in a rock band for me.

What’s next for you? Any new tour plans or recordings looming in your immediate future?

The next tour starts in a couple of weeks. It ends in mid-November, at which point I’m gonna drive all my stuff to the west coast, set up my studio and make another record.

The tour after that won’t happen until March, which will be a nice break for me because we will have toured on and off for half of 2006.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

Dirty on Purpose, The Silversun Pickups, Hot Chip, Spoon, Thom Yorke, Sunset Rubdown, Tokyo Police Club, Dr. Dog, Bjork, The Long Winters, and that new Yo La Tengo record, which I think is incredible.

That’s it! Thanks for your time, Eric.

One would guess from Say Hi To Your Mom’s tour schedule that they’ll be in town next sometime around October 21st, but they haven’t announced a date or venue yet.

- Dirty On Purpose Mini-Interview
- The Silversun Pickups Mini-Interview

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Band of the Week: The Album Leaf

I think I first heard about San Diego’s The Album Leaf through a piece on the great LA music site Rewritable Content. The article (and attached mp3s) piqued my interest because I’m a fan of largely instrumental rock acts like Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and The Octopus Project … though The Album Leaf definitely focus on more of an ambient keyboard w/ violin sound than the waves of crashing guitar sound or manic energy you’ll hear from the others.

Their new album Into The Blue Again came out earlier this month on Subpop and contains standout tracks like Always For You, a seemingly more modern take on songs from John Hughes’ 80s film soundtracks, but one descended from brainier parents, and Red Eye, a spooky, Tangerine Dream-like affair.

The band has a volley of self-made video features on YouTube, including this piece on the making the album.

The Album Leaf will play here Sunday, October 8th, at The Troubadour, which is located at 9081 Santa Monica Blvd in LA.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Last Night Was Great. Thanks. Whew...

I'd like to thank everyone who came out last night to the first of our monthly Let's Independent! events at Boardner's in Hollywood to see The Western States Motel, Great Northern, and The Movies. It went really well and everyone seemed to have a great time.

I'd also like to sincerely thank all three bands, who sounded awesome and were super goddamn nice; Trish, Joe, Lenny, Gabe, and everyone else at Boardner's; all of my great friends like Flounder, Racheal, Laurie, Patti, and Shazi, who were completely supportive, came early, and stayed late - and in Flounder and Racheal's cases, even worked the door; our staff writer Josh, who drove all the way out from Santa Barbara to attend; The Movies' superstar manager Mary Rahmani; our excellent djs EGROEG and Eyad, who kept the people in the club dancing; our rad street artist pal Olive 47 for designing the flyer; and the folks at KXLU, The LA Times, Indie 103.1, Flavorpill, Rock Insider, You Set The Scene, and Silverlake Rehearsal for helping get the word out about the night.

There were luckily several professional photographers on hand last night whose work I'll point to later on this week once they post their pics, but for now, you can see a handful of snapshots that my friend Jed and I took at the event right here.

UPDATE: Here are some great shots from Mary Catherine.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 9/26

Adem - Love and Other Planets (Domino)
Akron/Family - Meek Warrior (Young God)
Botch - Unifying Themes Redux (Hydra Head)

The Changes - Today Is Tonight (Drama Club)Changesalbum
After two EPs, Chicago indie darlings The Changes finally hit the big time with their debut full-length, a jangly pop affair perfect for autumnal listening. The official album release party is at Double Door next month (more on that later), though you can check them out today at the Virgin Megastore.

Download: The Changes - "When I Wake" (MP3)

Solomon Burke - Nashville (Shout)
Four Tet - Remixes (Domino)

Emily Haines - Knives Don't Have Your Back (Last Gang) Emilyhaines
Indie heartthrob and favorite front woman of hip guys and girls everywhere, Emily Haines (of Metric and Broken Social Scene), is stepping out of band format and is set to release her first solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back. You may hear faint traces of her other bands in this work, but this collection of songs listens more like a chapter from Emily’s personal diary, which makes sense as the album’s content is borne of four years spent living in four different cities while on tour with Metric. With stark piano melodies, and haunting vocals Emily proves her stock as one of the leading ladies in rock today. -Filter

Download: Emily Haines - "Doctor Blind" (MP3)

The Lemonheads - The Lemonheads (Vagrant)Lemonheads
After a solo release in 2003, Evan Dando returns with the first Lemonheads record in a decade. Of course The Lemonheads where pretty much just Dando anyway, though it appears this record should rock quite a bit more than the Jon Brion-produced solo effort. Backing up Dando this time around are ex-Descendants Bill Stevenson (drums) and Karl Alvarez (bass).

Download: The Lemonheads - "No Backbone" (MP3)

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah (Universal)
Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain (Astralwerks)
Teddy Bears - Soft Machine (Big Beat)
Wolf Eyes - Human Animal (Sub Pop)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "It's Just Like Staring Into The Sun")

So, yeah. Tomorrow night is the first of Radio Free Silver Lake’s Let’s Independent monthly events at Boardner’s in Hollywood and I’m pretty goddamn excited about it.

I made up the line-up based on local acts who I think are completely fantastic and I really couldn’t be happier how it’s turned out. I’d love to see any of these bands play on their own, but together? It’s going to be amazing.

Opening up the night will be The Western States Motel, a summery pop band who I’ve been addicted to since frontman Carl Jordan first sent me his myspace link earlier this year. I’ve been an evangelist for them ever since and it’s been great to hear more and more people talking about them lately.

Here’s an interview I did with The Western States Motel back in July: “I love being out in the desert for sure, and definitely get a lot of inspiration from any sort of uninhabited expanse.”

Going on second are Ship Collective act Great Northern, who according to The LA Times just signed a recording contract with Eenie Meanie Records, which also have Irving on their roster. Great Northern recently opened up for Sea Wolf at Spaceland and they were so damn good, they basically destroyed the place.

Here’s an interview I did with Great Northern back in April: “We talked about doing music together for a long time, and then he gave me the tapes and I loved all of it. From there, we would each record separately and pass the tapes back and forth from 4-track to 4-track.”

And then headlining the night are local legends The Movies. They just have to be seen to be believed. Nothing I can tell you will prepare you.

Here’s a piece I wrote on The Movies after visiting them in their studio back in May: “People want to be recognized, they have to make art to do that. How else am I going to be recognized? Maybe do some stand-up comedy... Maybe be a place-kicker in the NFL...”

[Self-serving disclaimer: When I wrote all of these pieces, I never knew we’d be hosting this night. And the purpose of it is really to spotlight great bands and have a fun time, just like this site, not make lots of monies.]

And while this is all going on in Boardner’s stage, we’ll have DJs EGROEG and Eyad will be spinning tunes in the huge front club area.

Hope you can make it and help support these great bands and the site. Be sure to come early at 9:00 to see The Western States Motel play!

But enough about us, the rest of this week is full of interesting activities for people who like the music. You could literally go out every night this week and still miss some great bands. Here are some highlights.

Tonight is the last night of the much-loved Sea Wolf’s free Monday night residencies at Spaceland, while KXLU favorites The Sharp Ease also wrap up their free night at The Echo. Meanwhile Canada’s Junior Boys will make people dance over at The Troubadour and there’s a Sean Lennon album release party over at Star Shoes.

Besides our event on Tuesday night, there’s The Strokes and Tom Petty at The Hollywood Bowl; Snow Patrol, The Duke Spirit, and Augustana play The Wiltern; and The Oohlas have their record release party at Cinespace.

On Wednesday night, Snow Patrol, The Duke Spirit, and Augustana return for a second night at The Wiltern.

On Thursday, there are too many choices to believe. Wolfmother and Pink Mountaintops are The Paladium, Grizzly Bear will play Spaceland, M Ward and Mike Watt team up at The Henry Fonda, and Rogue Wave and Foreign Born perform at Safari Sam’s.

Friday night, Lavender Diamond appear at The Getty Center, Starsailor and Peter Walker all play The Troubadour.

On Saturday, Beware of Safety perform at The Cocaine at Live Jazz; Starsailor and Peter Walker return to The Troubadour; We Are Scientists, Art Brut, and The Spinto Band play The Henry Fonda; Viva Voce and The Silversun Pickups explode The Echo, and Mojave 3 wow The Roxy.

Then wrapping up the week are The Pink Mountaintops at The Echo and Yeah Yeah Yeahs at The Palladium.


The following bands have also recently announced shows for LA: Tigers Can Bite You, Let’s Go Sailing, Midnight Movies, Cold War Kids, The 88, The Oohlas, You Say Party We Say Die, Matmos, Bettie Serveert, Kite Flying Society, The Deadly Syndrome, and Pink Mochi. (See the right-hand column for dates and venues.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Blow

If you haven't heard Portland's The Blow before, you've been missing out, son. It's the sort of smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music that makes you realize just how much you really like smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music.

We spoke with the Khaela half of the Jona Bechtolt/Khaela Maricich duo earlier this week, while the two are in the midst of touring the country opening up for Australia's Architecture in Helsinki.

And here's a look at how it all went:

Hey there, Khaela. How you doing? How’s Portland treating you?

Hey, Joe! I’m doing pretty good. I can't tell how Portland is treating me. I’m in Houston, far enough away that if Portland is snubbing me, I can't note the effects. Nor the potential kisses.

How did The Blow first come together? Where did the name come from?

The Blow has lived in some different ways, through a number of epochs. I played solo as The Blow for a few years, and Jona and I joined forces to turn The Blow into a pop duo in early 2004.

The name came from the mouth of my friend's son, years ago, when he was about two years old. (He's eleven now.) They lived in a converted school bus, and the wind would blow through when the door was opened. One time he said, "Close the door! The blow!"

The band started out more with more of a raw acoustic sound and then became more poppy and electronic later. That came out of the start of your collaboration together, right?

Yeah, the raw stuff was me by myself. When Jona and I hooked up, the sound went pure electric. We were like, "let's make some songs, totally in the style of mainstream chart-toppers. Let's go all the way out."

How did you decide to work together?

Well, it was like your basic playground relationship story. It started out that we just kind of ended up playing a song together at the What-The-Heck-Festival, in Anacortes, in 2003. So, that was like the incidental first brush with love.

Later that year, I asked him if he'd want to make beats for a song of mine. He said yeah, and we did it, and it turned out well, and happened so easily (for the song Hock It). This part was us talking for a minute by the water fountain.

Then, our friends Steve Shcroeder and Zac Pennington set us up. They made a limited edition EP series (called the Pregnancy Series), and they asked us if we would work together and make the first EP for the series. We agreed to do it. Steve literally was the one who called me and asked me about the idea. This part was our friends pulling us each aside, and being like, "Hey, you know that he/she likes you, don't you?"

And, then, it just worked out. We carved our names in the table.

This is the part where I artlessly mention that Hock It and Hey, Boy are two of my favorite songs from the last few years. (I couldn’t work it in anywhere else.)

Holy shit! What a compliment! Those are the first two songs we recorded together.

What’s the new album like? How’s it different from the last?

I wonder how the new album is different. We pretty much continued working in exactly the same way as we had before, the only difference being that there was a year or so of time in between the recording. Maybe you can listen and tell us what's different.

What was the process like creating it?

Ahhhh the process. Making things is wild, you know. It's the stuff of wild animals. I think when people work together, the process churns up and brings out the absolute best in people, alternating with their absolute worst. It's powerful stuff, bring new things into the world.

The literal process usually goes that I lay around my apartment and make up words, and sing them to myself. And then I go find Jona and we sit at his desk and he drives the computer, and I do a fair share of back seat driving-- He will be making a beat, and I will be saying, "Hey, what about in this part we make a sound like if there were silvery fish going by?"

He either does or doesn't get a little exasperated, and then he inevitably finds a way to make the perfect sound that is exactly like silvery fish. We get a little tired and we go out for tofutti cuties.

What’s next for you? You’re just about to start touring?

We are both about to start touring, on two different tours. Jona will be doing his solo show as YACHT, and I will be touring as The Blow, playing the music from the new record. That promises to continue for a while, and then after that? I might set up a face painting booth at a fair, or go build a house for someone in a place where there was a flood.

Last question: What are you listening to right now that you like?

- A cd my friend Lucas Grey made where he reads aloud from his dreams, with music accompanying in the background.
- Arthur Russel: Another Thought.
- Dear Nora: Mountain Rock.
- That song Toxic by Brittany Spears.

That’s it! Thanks for your time.

Thanks for taking the time to ask me these questions. Hope Los Angeles is being sweet to you!

The Blow's new album comes out on October 24th on K Records. You can hear tracks off of it here on their myspace page.

Band of the Week: Beirut

As far as hearsay goes, I should have tripped over an mp3 of Beirut a while back following the blog bread crumb trail to the Balkan Peninsula by way of New Mexico. Instead, over breakfast, Montclair New Jersey’s favorite daughter, my dear friend, Bridget Love gushed over a show where musics came at her from origins indescribable. To her surname, Bridget can elucidate molecular levels of swoon with a dual word prowess.

This stumbling awe was unlike her. Ok, I said, and bought the album. Gulag Orkestar unfolded images previously unrelated: A marching band up to their knees in the Coney Island surf, a girl accordionist in sock garters, a gypsy band playing while tied around a tree like paper lanterns.

With this album, Beirut frontman Zach Condon followed the smoke to the red backroom, made nice with a criminal friend from Greece playing Rebétiko as it got banned along with hash, smooched the Persian girl for her oud and found himself in France with the girl thankfully beside him sighing for the ukulele in the pawnshop window: All adventures transpiring in his bedroom in his parents’ house in Albuquerque, where he says 80 -90% of the album was made.

I used to live in a house filled with double-strung instruments and their players, wayward recording devices and plenty of old recordings from far origins. It’s a romantic place to start. (Though, Condon has already said that the next effort won’t continue the Balkan themes.)

He’s 20 now (I think) and living in Brooklyn. In October, the expanded version of Gulag Orkestar will release in part starting with the EP, Lon Gisland. Meanwhile, he’s getting his touring legs and will be in our town soon. I can’t wait.

Written by J.R. Magsaysay. (And Joe adds: Me, too. It’s the most immediately crushable album I’ve heard all year.)

Beirut will play The Troubadour on October 21st.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: Tapes 'n' Tapes

Sure, Tapes 'n' Tapes are one of the most well-received new independent bands of the last few years, but it's still a little surprising just how many videos you can find of them on the Interweb wonder that is Youtube.

I mean, there's their video for Insistor, their appearance on Letterman, footage of them playing the Pitchfork Festival... The list goes on and on.

But my favorites are the videos of their free in-store performance at Sonic Boom Records in Seattle back in March. Here's a clip of them doing the song Just Drums.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 9/19

Arling & Cameron - Hi Fi Underground (Atlantic)
Bad Brains - Live at CBGB 1982 (MVD Visual) [DVD]
Big Sleep - Son of the Tiger (Frenchkiss)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go (Drag City) Thelettinggo
Drag City sez: "his music undergoes a sea change every time he plays it again, and the sounds of The Letting Go are no exception. As “Cursed Sleep” demonstrated, all sonic elements are employed with greater subtlety, combining a twin-guitars-and-rhythm lineup with layers of backing vocals and orchestration and still creating that lonesome echo that all the best Bonny Billy records have. This subtlety allows for greater density of arrangements throughout the record, a feature that’s inspired Bonny to create for the first time ever a surround-sound version of the disc which will be sold to sonic adventurers looking for a new wrap-around joy. The stereo mix is plenty atmospheric in itself, allowing the contributions of Jim White, Paul Oldham, Emmett Kelly, Dawn McCarthy, Ryder McNair, Nico Muhly and Valgier Sigurdsson to shine in turn. However, the song’s the thing, and The Letting Go has some of Bonny’s finest.

Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity (Nettwerk)
Corrina Repp - The Absent and the Distant (Caldo Verde)

Dani Siciliano - Slappers (!K7) Dani_siciliano_137383c Wow, new Dani and new Herbert records this's the press buzz: This isn't a techno record or a dance record. Slappers is comparable to a singer-songwriter record written on the strings of a guitar, but like innovators before her, Dani prefers the 0s and 1s of electronics to balance out her voice and give the album a singular feel. Informed by Dani's own past, Slappers is full of songs of dislocation. After all, Dani started in Arizona, then spent a long period in California before finally moving to England to work with Matthew Herbert

Darkel - S/T (Astralwerks) New side project from Air's JB Dunckel (aka, "the short one").

Ensemble - Disown, Delete (FatCat)
¡Forward, Russia! - Give Me A Wall (Mute)
Hidden Cameras - Awoo (Arts and Crafts)
Kasabian - Empire (Sony)

Langhorne Slim - Engine EP (V2) Radio Free Chicago's Chief Honky Tonk Correspondent Rory O'Connor gives this one two thumbs up. Check 'em out next month (10/20) at The Troubador with Two Gallants.

Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (Atlantic) 1158580399_lupe_album1This is such a simple, yet brilliant album title that I can't believe no one has ever used it before (seriously, look it up for yourself on AMG). After a couple of botched record deals, the debut full-length finally arrives for this "Chicago-based Muslim MC."

Mohair - Small Talk (Grunion)
Mos Def - Tru3 Magic (Geffin)

Nina Nastasia - On Leaving (Fat Cat) Working again with Steve Albini, this is Nastasia's first release for Fat Cat after two records and one reissue with Touch and Go. According to the press for the new album, "The Move From Touch and Go implies 'nothing scandalous,' says Nina, 'just moving, the way you move sometimes.'"

Pere Ubu - Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil)
The Capital Years - Dance Away The Terror (Park the Van)
Timonium - In Ives Hall (Pehr)

The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams (Bubbles) ErlendoyeThe name of this Erand Oye side project is not a joke. I believe it was the University of Oslo that conducted the extensive study and the results actually concluded that Mr. Oye is, in fact, the whitest boy alive in the world today, narrowly beating out the dude that played Napolean Dynamite.

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "Yes, I Know That It's Tuesday...")

Alright, the bad Interweb weather front appears to have moved on and left our powerful ENIAC computer once again able to process scantron forms again, so we’re back.

You went out last night and caught one or more of those great shows (Sea Wolf, Lavender Diamond, Tigers Can Bite You, The Sharp Ease), didn’t you? You didn’t work eleven hours straight and collapse like me? Ah, lame…

Anyway, here’s the highlight reel of how the rest of this week is looking:

Tonight, Lavender Diamond plays at Spaceland; The Hectors, Dead Ponies (Jason of Midnight Movies), and The Karabal Nightlife all appear The Silver Lake Lounge; and Ratatat are The Troubadour.

On Thursday, local indy pop darlings Irving are playing a free outdoor show with Monsters Are Waiting and The Oohlas at the mall at Hollywood & Highland, while Phoenix, Dios Malos, and La Rocca appear at The Wiltern, Andrew Bird performs at The Henry Fonda, and Gram Rabbit coalesce at The Echo.

On Friday, TV On The Radio play a free-instore at Amoeba Music (and then open for Massive Attack on Sunday night at The Hollywood Bowl).

On Saturday, Serena Maneesh, Midnight Movies, and WovenHand head to The Troubadour, and Brian Jonestown Massacre tear up Safari Sam’s.

And on Sunday, DJ Shadow plays The Avalon, Eskimo Hunter performs at The Echo; Rademacher, Maxxfemm, and The Pity Party appear at Spaceland; Brian Jonestown Massacre return to Safari Sam’s for a second night; and TV On The Radio open for Massive Attack at The Hollywood Bowl.

The following bands have also had nights recently added to the upcoming show column to the right: Yo La Tengo, Foreign Born, Lavender Diamond, The Album Leaf, Irving, Monsters Are Waiting, The Oohlas, The Ettes, Beware of Safety, Caspian, Village Green, The Sharp Ease, The Joggers, Tricky, Regina Spektor, Sia, The Bird and The Bee (Inara George), Dead Ponies (Jason of Midnight Movies), OK Go!, The Hectors, Karabal Nightlife, Death Cab For Cutie, Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins, Dios Malos, Johnnie Burton & Her Band, Gram Rabbit, Jolie Holland, Ariel Pink, Blood Brothers, and and you will know us by the Trail of Dead.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dirty On Purpose Mini-Interview

It was just a few months back now that Brooklyn’s Dirty On Purpose debuted their first full-length album Hallelujah Sirens, a release so good that it immediately marked the band as one of our favorite new independent artists.

Back then, we called it “dreamy, distorted rock with more than its fair share of smart pop hooks; the sort of music you want to follow you around throughout both day and night.”

And its haunting, uplifting, and hook-laden tracks like No Radio, Light Pollution, and Your Summer Dress have been shadowing us ever since with no clear sign of abatement.

We spoke to Dirty On Purpose guitarist Joe Jurewicz to learn more about the band.

Hi, Joe. How’s New York treating you guys?

Awesome. There is no better place. Well, actually there are a ton of better places. But those places don't have 24 hour bodegas or delivery services you know.

How did you start? How long you all been together?

We started the band in the summer of 2002, I think. George and I had a fairly large art studio that we built with a friend who was roommates with DJ, who in turn knew Doug. So we started a band. Pretty simple, it happened very quickly. It had to… We had a show booked before we had a bass player or drummer.

So, we've been together a little over four years, but George and I had played guitar together for a few years before that.

From reading previous interviews with you guys, it sounds like you’re all friends … or at least know how to play nice with each other. Is that true?

Yeah, we're all friends, sad but true. We don't hang out non-stop or anything -- we all have pretty busy lives outside of the band -- but on any given day, at least two or three of us will be hanging out at the studio working on something.

And over the last four years we have learned how to deal with each other and when to back off and all that, so arguments are over pretty quickly.

Not a whole lot of blood or anything. Few missing teeth, maybe.

Who or what influences your music?

Our music is influenced by the combined experiences of four people. To list all of the things that influence us would take days, but to give a short answer: We try to take everything that comes at us, process it, then spit it back out at the world, hopefully sounding somewhat pleasing to the ear.

You just toured with Say Hi To Your Mom. How did that go?

It went great. We’re friends with those guys, so it was a lot of fun being in strange towns with a bunch of people you can hang out with. Plus those shows were booked by them, so it was a new audience for us, lots of all-ages shows that we normally don't get a chance to play. Ask Say Hi to show you the video of the lady at the gas station… They'll know what you mean.

But you don’t tour very often. Why?

We haven't toured very often because we all had full-time jobs up until very recently, and touring is not exactly the greatest way to make any money to pay rent. We now have a really great booker, Daniel at Inland Empire, who makes sure we don't have to drive too long between cities, so we'll be out and about a lot more now.

What’s the name of your band from?

It was a reference to the prevailing aesthetic in Williamsburg around the time we started the band. (Williamsburg is our neighborhood in Brooklyn. I use the term "our" very loosely, as we'll probably be forced out in a few years, by rising rent costs.)

It’s by now seeped into middle America, I'm sure. You can probably go to any Wal-Mart and find jeans that are pre-ripped and dirty.

In a broader sense, it's about the decline of pretty much everything. No one takes time to do things correctly [and] everything is half-assed because somebody decided one day it was cool to do things that way. "This apartment has exposed brick!" Who on earth gives a shit about exposed brick?!

What’s next for you? Any new recordings in the works? Any plans to get out on the road again soon?

We’re currently working on the songs for the next record, and getting ready to tour again. We will probably end up recording a lot of the next record ourselves at Death By Audio, our home studio.

We learned a lot from Scott and Chris and the rest of the gang at Headgear Recording last time around, and I think we want to try and do more ourselves next time.

If we could afford it, we'd use Headgear for everything… They’re amazing. But it's nice to record at home and not have to worry about paying for time.

Last question: What bands are you liking the most these days?

I can't really speak for the rest of the group, but I have been listening to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel. And I hear a lot of my roomate's bands, A Place to Bury Strangers and Coin Under Tongue, just sitting around the house and listening to them practice.

Some other friend's bands that I am listening to lately are Jaymay, The Jealous Girlfriends, Outline Kit, The Shorebirds, The Lucky Bastards, and Th' Haint. I better stop naming them, someone will yell at me for forgetting them. Living in Williamsburg, you can't meet anybody who ISN'T in a band.

Listening to music is a lot different when you are in a band I think. I tend to only listen to new stuff if I know who is making it. Otherwise, I stick to old stuff.

I’m in negotiations to start a CCR cover band called Creedance Clearwater Revival Revival. Pretty sweet.

That’s it, Joe. Thanks for your time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Band of the Week: The Afghan Whigs

Yeah, it’s embarassing to admit, but I held back from listening to my friend Mike’s recommendation about what a great band that The Afghan Whigs were for a long time because I hated their name.

It’s the sort of strange, arbitrary reasoning that probably makes me come off as some monocle-twirling, music elitist, but, you know, we all have our quirks. Naming is mine.

But years later when I finally heard them -- long after they’d broken up and lead singer Greg Dulli was into his Twilight Singers recordings – I would routinely go around hollering at my friends and saying, “Why didn’t anyone tell me what a fantastic band they were?!”

My friend Mike eventually heard this, laughed, and said, “I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen…”

I’d picked up pretty much the entire works of the band in one fell swoop and had my mind blown by how many incredible songs they’d created… I learned my lesson, both about not listening to Mike’s advice and judging a band by their title.

The tracks that straddled the line between slinky and sleazy like 66 and Neglekted… The raucous Going to Town and John the Baptist… The charmingly self-destructive Uptown Again and Omerta… Even the strange, improbable covers, like their rendition of TLC’s Creep and The Ass Ponys’ oddly misogynistic Mr. Superlove… They all destroyed me.

And now the band has announced that “The Afghan Whigs will convene in Cincinnati in two weeks to rehearse their first new material in eight years for an upcoming Rhino Records retrospective of the band entitled Unbreakable. After rehearsing the songs for four days, the band; John Curley, Greg Dulli, Rick McCollum and Michael Horrigan will travel to Memphis, TN to record at Ardent with longtime Whigs collaborator, Jeff Powell.”

It’s unclear if the group will tour together again, but Dulli’s current act The Twilight Singers will be playing The House of Blues here in Los Angeles on Wednesday, October 25th. As you might imagine, I’m going to try my best to be there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: Earlimart

A few weeks ago, Earlimart’s management sent over the track Answers & Questions from the band’s upcoming third album to post along with our interview with Aaron Espinoza... It’s a great song that not only whetted our appetite for the next cd, but put the band’s earlier works back into heavy rotation around both the RFSL home and mobile offices.

Here's a video for one of our favorites, We Drink On The Job off of 03’s Everyone Down Here. It's directed by Suzie Vlcek, who’s also responsible for the video for The Silversun Pickups' Kissing Families and is working on one for their song Lazy Eye.

So, watch the video and if you haven’t read the interview and downloaded that new song, you ought to follow this link back and do it. I mean, really...

Earlimart Mini-Interview
- The Silversun Pickups Mini-Interview

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 9/12

Hellooo fall! The concert festival season is done, the kids are back in school and the new releases are back on the shelves in force. This week kicks off what is arguaby the best time of year for new music and today alone you can practically find enough quality albums to keep you occupied 'til Christmas. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the top names out today, followed by the rest of the list below:

Album Leaf - Into The Blue Again (Sub Pop)
Black Keys - Magic Potion (Nonesuch)
Richard Buckner - Meadow (Merge)
Catfish Haven - Tell Me (Secretly Canadian)
Electric Six - Switzerland (Metropolis)
Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye (Domino)
Magnolia Electric Company - Fading Trails (Secretly Canadian)
Mars Volta Amputechture (Universal)
Mooney Suzuki The Maximum Black EP (V2)
REM - Best of the IRS Years (EMI)
TV on the Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain (Interscope)
Viva Voce Get Yr Blood Sucked Out (Barsuk)
Xiu Xiu - The Air Force (5RC)
Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid of You, and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador)

Basement Jaxx - Crazy Itch Radio (XL)
DJ Shadow - The Outsider (Island)
Mouse On Mars - Varcharz (Ipecac)
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love (Universal)
Soulwax - Nite Versions (Modular)

Oh yeah, and a couple others you may also want to check out today:
(according to

Angela Desveaux - Wandering Eyes (Thrill Jockey)
Blood Meridian - Kick Up The Dust (V2)
Capitol Years - Dance Away The Terror (Park The Van)
Coach Fingers - No Flies On Frank (Locust Music)
Dead Moon - Echoes of the Past (Sub Pop)
Draft - In A Million Pieces (Epitaph)
Envy Insomniac Doze (Temporary Residence)
Eric Matthews - Foundation Sounds (Empyrean)
Ethan Rose - Ceiling Songs (Locust Music)
Favourite Sons - Down Beside Your Beauty (Vice)
Fields - 7 From The Village (Vice)
Great Lakes - Diamond Times (Empyrean)
Heavens - Patent Pending (Epitaph)
Hedley - S/T (Capitol)
Hella - Acoustics (5RC)
Indian Jewelry - Invasive Exotics (Monitor)
Matches - Decomposer (Epitaph)
Miss Violetta Beauregarde - Odi Profanum Vulgus Et Arceo (Temporary Residence)
Mono & World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain (Temporary Residence)
No Wait Wait - About You (Chairkickers Music)
Now It's Overhead - Dark Light Daybreak (Saddle Creek)
Page France - Hello, Dear Wind (Suicide Squeeze)
Radio Citizen - Berlin Serengeti (Ubiquity)
Simon Dawes - Carnivore (Record Collection)
Sugarcult - Lights Out (Fearless/V2)
Tall Firs - S/T (Ecstatic Peace)
Two Ton Boa - Parasiticide (Kill Rock Stars)
Wax On Radio - Exposition (Downtown)
Woven Hand - Mosaic (Sounds Familyre)
Young Widows - Settle Down City (Jade Tree)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "On Pernicious Recruiters And Nordic Prehistorics")

I was telling a friend the story today about how when I was seven I decided to make my own band – loosely based off an amalgam of KISS and Judas Priest – and began writing songs up on loose-leaf paper.

One was about the monster from the improbably Danish kaiju film Reptilicus and I imagined stage antics that involved throwing Pert Shampoo on the audience to simulate the giant reptile’s gloopy acid spit.

Another one, I forget the name, was about a guy who would throw you into the army if he caught you and who “had sideburns on his shoulders.”

I remember my older brother Bob reading over the lyrics and asking me, “Joe… What are sideburns?”

And I said, “You know…” and squirmed for awhile before finally admitting that I actually had no goddamn idea.

None of this has much to do with anything, but I was at a loss for an intro, so I thought I’d mention it and then artlessly shift into talking about what shows seem most worth seeing this week.

It’s Monday today and that means another free show from melancholy pop sweethearts Sea Wolf at Spaceland as part of their weekly residency. And if catching one of LA’s best current live acts gratis isn’t enough for you, they’ve upped the ante by adding indy rock stars Great Northern to the bill -- a band that you can tell are great because it’s right there in the name.

Otherwise, they’d just be “Northern” and how dumb would that be?

(They’re also playing Radio Free Silver Lake's first monthly Let's Independent! show on Tuesday, September 26th along with The Movies and The Western States Motel. Plug plug.)

On Tuesday, The Silver Jews will play The Henry Fonda Theater, Jason Lytle (from Grandaddy) appears at The Hotel Café, and garage blues gods The Black Keys perform a free in-store performance at Amoeba Music.

You can also catch The Black Keys at The Troubadour on Wednesday and at The Avalon on Thursday, the same night that our favorite band The Silversun Pickups play a free in-store at Amoeba.

Then next weekend, Chicago post rock giants Tortoise appear at The Troubadour and local experimental pop act The Happy Hollows play a free in-store at Sea Level Records at 4pm on Saturday.

In other news:
- Pitchfork reports that The Afghan Whigs have gotten back together to record new songs as part of a Rhino Records retrospective. Yeah, that pretty much destroyed our minds, too.
- Lamp rock’s finest Doveman is coming back to town – now with Glen Hansard from The Frames – on Saturday, October 21 at Largo.
- Fresno’s Rademacher is coming back to town, this time at Spaceland on Sept 24, which is a free residency night for Maxxfemm where The Pity Party and Angeles Drake will also play.
- The following bands have also announced show dates for LA: Islands, Eagles of Death Metal, The New Motherfuckers, Lou Barlow, Eskimo Hunter, Man Man, The Harpeth Trace, Kind Hearts & Coronets, Anavan, Teenage Talking Cars, Creekbird, Monster, Warm Climate, Magnolia Electric Company, and Bottomless Pit. (See the right-hand column for details.)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Weekend Interview Filler Attempt #1

Sometimes interviews don’t come in on time to run over the weekend like normal. When this occurs, it’s usually our fault due to lack of planning and technical skill and, well all is said and done, it’s really a wonder that it doesn’t happen more often.

So, to tide you over until next Monday, here are links to previous interviews with a handful of LA’s top bands. (Click on the quotes to read the whole piece.)

The Little Ones: “Our band name is the direct result of my two pugs. Whenever my family or friends would ask about them, they would always say, "How are 'the little ones?'"”

The Silversun Pickups: “due to the absurdity of competitive art and the viewing of artists trying to climb/step/stab each other to reach the top of the cream and become the stale cherry, it just kinda puts it all into perspective. that's not us. that's not our friends. we actually do this because we enjoy it.”

Irving: “I would say that it is similar in the sense that we still write sad songs that are dressed up with a happy melody, but other than that this album is much different. Every album we make will be different from its predecessor. We would never want to make the same album twice.”

Earlimart: “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.”

The Movies: “[Now] we can hopefully start writing some songs, getting our older songs recorded, and get back to Spain... Get some jet-skis. I need some jet-skis and a shrimp cocktail. And like an older XJ6 for my mom”

Sea Wolf: “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).”

Cold War Kids: “We were really late at getting to the show, so we had to throw up our gear in a flash and play. For some reason there was a different twist to it because of our tardiness. It felt very southern too.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Band of the Week: Citizens Here and Abroad

The San Francisco music scene has spawned more than a few notable bands over recent years, like the power chord heavies The Fucking Champs, rock charmers Birdmonster, and sadly departed Stratford 4, to name just a few...

But the latest up-and-coming act out of the Bay Area is Citizens Here and Abroad, who come armed with a number of haunting male-and-female harmonies to bring you smart pop for your cute, but sort of sad, little face.

Consider Stranger, a song which repeatedly extols “cigarettes and alcohol” in its break, right after lead singer Adrienne Robillard invites you out to be antisocial with the lines: “I’m going out tonight -- to a house party. Meet me outside -- and we will ignore everybody inside…”

Or watch the slo-mo video car crash made for the whispery track You Drive and We'll Listen to Music:

Or else just pick up their latest release Waving, Not Drowning when it comes out on Tuesday, September 26th on Turn Records.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Video Free Silver Lake: Explosions in the Sky

I don't know if I've ever mentioned how I'm such a goddamn softy that I could be walking down the street in the worst mood in the world, have a Golden Retriever walk up to me, all of a sudden be like, "Hey! A dog!", and have my mood completely change for the better.

I know this because it's happened...

Well, Austin's Explosions in the Sky have much the same effect on me. Less dirge-like than their fellow rock instrumental brothers Mogwai, these guys create music that builds and builds and then comes crashing down in huge audio waves. And somehow? Listening to it always puts me in a better place.

Here's live video footage of them playing one of my favorite songs: Your Hand in Mine off of The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 9/5

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (Warp) Warp records continues to expand in to the indie rock realm with the signing of these Brooklyn lads...or should I say lad? All the tracks on this record were recorded by singer/songwriter Edward Droste in his bedroom and are said to have been "fuelled by a bout of post-relationship inspiration." Droste later added a full band and they're now hitting the road with TV on the Radio (9/28 at Spaceland).

Kinky - Reina
Third record from the popular Latin alt-rockers. Check them out live today live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Pinback - Nautical Antiques (Ace Fu)
"A selection of rarities from 1998 to 2001" from San Diego's beloved Pinback.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "You Want to Catch Me? Well, That's a Magic Art.")

One of the most jaw-dropping performances I’ve seen in LA lately occurred with little or no warning in the backyard of friend’s house last Thursday. My friend Shazi was holding a Pre-Labor Day Party when the seven-year-old boy who lives upstairs from her came out wearing binoculars around his neck to watch out for “ninjas in the trees” who knew were there to steal his things.

With really scant prompting on the part of the partygoers, he began singing a song about it for everyone there. And you can find that little outdoor concert right here on YouTube.

After seeing that, it’s hard to think straight, let alone make plans for going out this week, but here are some show highlights for the next seven days.

I know you’re still recovering from the long weekend, but hell, take an afternoon nap already. Because you need to go out later for the first of Sea Wolf’s Monday night residencies at Spaceland.

They’re one of the best live acts in town and they’re playing for free the next four Mondays in a row. This one of the reasons why we love Los Angeles...

Then Thursday is Central Second Night at The Echo with Death to Anders!, The Transmissions, The Happy Hollows, One Trick Pony, and Die Rockers Die!, all bands from the local Central Second Collective.

Friday night sees the odd, but strangely compelling Coco Rosie at The Avalon and the sold-out Cold War Kids show at The Troubadour.

The following acts have also recently announced shows in LA: Two Sheds, Devendra Banhart, Architecture in Helsinki, Monsters Are Waiting, Bodies Of Water, Kind Hearts And Coronets, The Bird & The Bee, Teddy's Cheer Club, Future Pigeon, Jet Fuel, Jesca Hoop, The Parson Redheads, Monsters Are Waiting, Bodies Of Water, Kind Hearts And Coronets, Teddy's Cheer Club, Future Pigeon, Jet Fuel, Jesca Hoop, The Parson Redheads, Six Organs of Admittance, Sun Ra Arkestra, Money Mark, Future Pigeon, Mia Doi Todd, The Fiery Furnaces, Comets on Fire, Eux Autres, Carina Round, Beaten Awake, Great Northern, The Veto, The Watson Twins, Favourite Sons, Tigers Can Bite You, Manuok, Patrick Park, Dead Ponies, The Sharp Ease, Bert Jansch, Jackie Beat, Be Your Own Pet, Boris, Heartless Bastards, Foreign Born, Ray LaMontagne, Ratatat, The Pity Party, Maxxfemm, Forward Russia, Vashti Bunyan, Anavan, Bi Polar Bear, A Tribe Called Quest, Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), White Whale, Laura Veirs, Golden Smog, Mae, The New Amsterdamns, Hello Astronaut Goodbye Television, Very Be Careful, Grand Elegance, The Holy Curtain, and Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound. (See the right-hand column for details.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mini-Interview: Rademacher

If the word hadn’t been completely co-opted by crafty soft drink manufacturers, you could say that it was “refreshing” how different Rademacher sound from your typical indie rock band.

Previous attempts at categorizing them have marked them as a happy intersection of such disparate acts at Tom Waits, Pavement, and Tom Petty. While we here at RFSL have remarked that “their songs often begin in ridiculous lyrical fiddle-faddle but twist and turn with a carnival barker’s logic towards their inexorable choral conclusion, one usually couched in some kind of undisputable point about love or death or whatevahs.”

But, long story short? Rademacher aren’t just good, they’re great. With that in mind, we really recommend that you 1) take a minute listen to the tracks they have posted for free download here, 2) pick up their three EPs, and 3) go see them perform live at two shows in LA this weekend (details below).

I mean, they’re from Fresno. It’s not like they play here every goddamn night or something…

So with them in town for a visit, we thought it was an ideal time to check in with Rademacher’s Malcolm Sosa to learn more about where the band’s been and what they’re doing next.

You guys are from Northern California. What's the music scene like up there?

Well, to be fair, we're actually from Central California. Northern California is a bunch of hippies. We're mostly meth-heads here.

There have been a lot of great bands that have come out of our neighborhoods -- Pavement is from Stockton, Grandaddy is from Modesto, and Earlimart and Great Northern are LA bands, but are both helmed by Fresno kids.

Yeah, that’s true. I should know that, I lived in SF for six years. There’s still five more hours worth of driving to the state…

So, how did the band first come together? What were you all doing beforehand?

The band came together because I was putting on a bunch of shows in this old warehouse in Fresno. All ages sort of arts events -- and I needed another band for the bill and there were no takers, so me and some friends wrote some songs and invented a band.

Before that I was living in New York and playing classical guitar in the subway and at trying not to go broke while living in Williamsburg. You know. The usual avante hipster b.s..

Rademacher has a much different sound than a lot of current independent acts. Who are some of your influences?

Thanks! Sometimes I think everyone sounds like everyone. Especially when all your friends are musicians and you are constantly surrounded by music. My ears get a bit numb sometimes, so that is a big compliment.

The big influences would be Sonic Youth, Man Man, Os Mutantes. I don't know how much of that is audible in the recordings. We're always tearing apart our songs and trying to rebuild them. We so want to be really, really good. We work hard. I don't know if that counts for anything these days though. Especially in LA.

Your lyrics are pretty often really sharp, even poetic. This is a terrible question, but what are you trying to capture with them?

Sometimes when we're in the studio and we're recording I try to imagine my friend, this crazy painter from Fresno named Vincente Aello, I try to imagine the way he talks about big ideas when he gets drunk.

Like that passionate shout you can do when you have something life changing to say to someone. Seriously. Vicente is a great drunk to hang out with.

You've recently come out with your third self-released EP. How would you say it's different from your earlier recordings?

It’s better than all the others we've done. At least the recordings and the consistency and we tackled it with a lot more technique. We are working up a bunch of material to record a full length with, which is a lot of the stuff we're performing right now.

We were talking to Aaron Espinoza about recording with him at The Ship and making a great kinda Fresno album together, but then he stopped returning my myspace messages.

I guess he hates us or is busy doing his own album. I figure if we guilt trip him enough in this interview he will come to his senses and pick up his phone and text us or something.

You recently toured the states in support of the EP. How did that work out? What were some of the stand-out nights?

The best show, hands down, was in Wyoming at this house called the Sherriff's Posse. Middle of nowhere and no alcohol and lots of kids yelling and jumping around.

We stayed at our friend's dad's house that night and I broke his piano bench. Little Rock was also great.

What's next for you?

Hopefully we'll be getting a text from Aaron soon and we can start making a new album.

Final question: Who are some of your favorite current bands?

I'm in love with Mates of State. I really like Awesome Color who are on Thurston Moore's label, Ecstatic Peace. Pretty much everyone on that label is dang rad.

I'm really trying hard to like Tapes 'n' Tapes, but I just don't get it yet. But I'm trying!

Mostly I just let Todd from Sea Level Records tell me what to buy.

That’s it! Thanks for your time, Malcolm.

Rademacher is playing on Saturday night at The Cog party in Glendale or on Sunday The Cocaine at Live Jazz in LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood.

- Great Northern Mini-Interview
- Earlimart Mini-Interview