Friday, August 31, 2007

Lee Hazlewood Tribute This Sunday Night

If you’re not familiar with the recently departed Lee Hazlewood, Wikipedia describes him plainly as “an American country singer, songwriter, and record producer, most widely known for his work with Duane Eddy during the late fifties and Nancy Sinatra in the sixties.”

But to many musicians here in LA, he was much more than the lifetime and career compressed into just that simple sentence. We checked in with a number of artists who are playing this Sunday’s Lee Hazlewood tribute event at Tangier about what they’ll be performing that night and what his music meant to them.

Claire McKeown from Dirt Bird and The Afternoons

"I picked Summer Wine because I was attracted to the story: The beautiful woman who fools a man with her charms and walks off with his silver spurs and all the money in his pocket. Lee Hazlewood was a master of melody, which I think is shown proudly in this song. I was also surprised at how few chords he uses. His simplicity is his genius."

The Spires

“The two songs we chose are Girl on Death Row and Cold Hard Times. Jason loved Girl on Death Row right out of the gate, [though] when he first heard it on WFMU, he didn't even realize that Lee wrote it. (Duane Eddy covered it). It's got a great spooky twangy guitar riff.

“We're both amazed that it was a single [that was] popular in the 50's. (The words are pretty harsh.) Clearly Lee was doing things his own way, as he always did. Cold Hard Times is off the favorite Lee record, Cowboy in Sweden. Jason picked it because of its repetitive nature and wonderful oddball lyrics. It also seemed sort of timely. “

“Lee had a lot of songs about peace and love and the insanity of Vietnam and he could always spin it in his own darkly comical way so that it didn't seem like he was shoving it down your throat. We're going to be joined by Trevor and Brian of Franklin for Short on bass and conga, respectively.

"We love you, Lee. Hurry back!”

Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs from The Finches -

"Nancy and Lee was the first LP I ever bought that wasn't explicitly punk or gothic. I wore the record raw singing along to it in my hovel of a high-schooler room. Good times!"

Angela Correa from Correatown

“I really only found out about Lee Hazlewood about five years ago, so his music has been something new and wonderful that I've been exploring over the past few years. What I like most about Lee Hazlewood is that he made the music he wanted to make. His whole life it seems, he had an idea about a sound, or way of recording a part, or a song... and he just did it his way and made the music that he wanted to. Period. All those strangely titled albums he put out later in his life that in my mind basically meant "I'm playing what I want, fuck what anyone else thinks about it" Holy shit, I love that! And it's a hard thing to do, to live, consistently, so I really admire that.

“I'm really just a big fan of his work. I LOVE what he did with Nancy Sinatra... The arrangements are so lush and gorgeous and he was able to capture such stellar performances out of her. That's why I chose Sundown, Sundown. I like how the lyrics flirt with the age-old conflict of independence. Not wanting to not need anything or anyone but really actually needing a little something or someone some of the time, you know.

“I also love the swell of the strings and that moving bass line that just groves underneath it all, pushing the big gorgeous gooooooey golden sound along in the original version. (Uh, but my version will be a little stripped down in comparison, to say the least.)

“The other song will be one of his early 1950's hits, The Fool. Tom Brosseau and I have been singing The Fool in our group Les Shelleys for years, so it's an old favorite and I really love the story telling quality of the lyrics. And that classic 50's reverbed-out guitar sound along with the swooping melody just kicks my ass. Ouch! It's so sweet. I only hope to do his songs what they deserve.”

Matt Popieluch from Big Search

“I'm playing Long Black Train and Son of a Gun, both off of his first album Trouble is a Lonesome Town. This is in truth the only record I have owned of his, having borrowed or burned one or two others.”

”My story with Lee Hazlewood has simply to do with his voice. He's like a big bear singing these simple gorgeous melodies in the woods, with this cinematic reverb! He sounds like the voice of an animated Disney character, but like a smooth renegade one. Every song on his first album tells a different story of this town Trouble. It just a very cool, cinematic structure for a record, most of the tracks preceded by talking!

“I also just respect him as a songwriter, having similar ambitions myself to write songs for others to sing. It should be a really fun night. Getting a band together as we speak!”

Anders & Woods

“Lee Hazlewood is a huge inspiration to Anders & Woods, both as a songwriter/producer/record label founder and as a figure himself. The songs we have chosen are The Performer, which shows more of his cynical and "tell it like it is" style, still all the while maintaining his dark humor.

“The other song we are doing For A Day Like Today has a somber poetic tone, as well as a political message. These contrasts really show his realm as a songwriter.

"I was fortunate to play a tribute show for Lee which he attended some years back. He was slobbering drunk and took the stage after the show and talked about the Columbine shootings for and almost an hour. While most see Lee as the rugged cinematic cowboy, I think there are aspects of him that get overlooked. He was passionately political and very involved in current affairs even at an old age as he demonstrated a few years back.”

Erin Armstrong

“I will be performing Ladybird and Elusive Dreams. I believe people should speak from the gut, having said that... I confused Lee Hazlewood with Lee Greenwood. Classic. (I was really close to asking Claire at The Fold if I could do I'm Proud to Be An American.) Ben Fordham, the violin/mandolin/vocals friend in the band helped me out, and here we are doing a tribute to a man who I know as "the guy who worked with Nancy Sinatra."

“My musical influences consist of what was given to by my sister's friends on cassette tapes and what my Mama and Daddy had playing before supper time. Just so happens to be that Mr. Hazlewood didn't fall into those categories.”

Holly Palmer -

These Boots Are Made For Walking is one of those songs that comes on, and makes me feel happy no matter what. Digging around a bit more into Lee Hazlewood’s music lately, I found one of his versions of it on an album called, Memory Train, The Best of Country.

"In it, he prefaces each verse with a little something like, 'This is the part of the record where every body said, ‘Why, that can’t be number one?’... And, 'This is the part of the song where Billy Strange raised his hand and asked if he could leave the room.'

"The horn and string lines in the middle of the song, twist it up even more in the most kookily beautiful way. For Lee Hazlewood lovers and new listeners, I think it's a must..."

Mike Stinson

“I first heard of Lee when I worked in the tape room at Polygram Music Publishing and we administered some of his song catalog. Shortly thereafter I made the connection that he was the guy who financed and released Gram Parsons' first record, the International Submarine Band's Safe At Home.

“I love that record and Gram's music continues to influence and inspire me. I've always been grateful to Lee and thought he was cool for helping Gram in that way. I'm sorry to say I don't know much else about him, but I did buy a few of his records recently and I'm looking forward to the show.

“I did impress the hell out of a cute waitress at The Viper Room once [because of Lee]. She told me her name was Phaedra and I asked if she'd been named after Some Velvet Morning and she had. She couldn't believe I knew that song that well. I don't think she gave me any free drinks, though.”

The Lee Hazlewood tribute event takes place at Tangier on Sunday night at eight and the proceeds from the $10 door price go to The Salvation Army.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Band of the Week: Princeton

I’ve pretty much been singing Princeton’s praises for the last few weeks since I got their self-released EP. It’s full of the sort of immediately likeable, unabashedly hand-clappy pop music that just gets me.

The band is fronted by two twin 20 year-old brothers who at different times seem like they’re channeling George Harrison and Paul McCartney without necessarily biting off of them. The new Earlimart is pretty much the only CD that’s caused me to dislodge their release from my stereo lately...

Here’s some video footage and an MP3 so you can check them out for yourself.

Their next shows are at the Eagle Rock Bowling and Drinking Club at All-Star Lanes this Sunday, then Friday, September 2nd at Spaceland and Friday, September 22nd at Pehrspace.

DOWNLOAD: The Indifference Curve MP3

The Aftermath: Let's Independent! w/ The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, & The Lonely Years

Many thanks to everyone who attended, promoted, and/or performed at last night's Let's Independent! at Boardner's with The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, and The Lonely Years. It was more fun than fun and all three acts sounded super fantastic. Here's a quick look, courtesy of Lawyer Jed.

We'll have word soon on next month's show, which will be our one-year anniversary party for the event. (And we have something really special planned...)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Let’s Independent! w/ The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, & The Lonely Years

Tonight’s the night of our latest Let's Independent! event at Boardner's of Hollywood, which are always really goddamn fun.

We’ve got three great local acts – The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, and The Lonely Years – who if you haven’t heard yet, you should. And since the show is FREE, it’s an excellent opportunity for you to do exactly that thing.

Go here for the details and hear MP3s for all three bands. And below are links to interviews we’ve done with them in the past...

The Amateurs“[Our lack of a bass player] changed our sound quite a bit, but surprisingly, people loved it. We got a better response on that leg than we had on the whole tour, so we decided to go with it.”

One Trick Pony“It gave me time to really listen to them over the stalled months, and pinpoint what I liked and didn't like, allowing me to strip out or add in what I probably wouldn't have thought of had I been rushed.”

The Lonely Years“Becky grew up on a farm in rural Ohio, Hale is a preacher’s kid from West Texas, and Joe grew up in Brooklyn from a family of musicians.”

Hope you can make it out.

Tuesday New Releases: No Age, New Young Pony Club, The Honorary Title, & More

The national release of local act No Age’s Weirdo Rippers on Fat Cat hits today. They play at Amoeba Music in Hollywood today at seven before heading out on a tour that returns them here at The Smell on October 5th.

Here are some of today’s other releases:

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
Ben Harper - Lifelines
The Honorary Title - Scream & Light Up the Sky
Horse The Band - Natural Death
Liars - Liars
Lyle Lovett - It's Not Big It's Large
New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom
Northern State – Can I Keep This Pen?
Turbonegro - Retox
VHS Or Beta - Bring On The Comets

The Monday Show Low Down (Or “Let’s Put Our Clothes On Inside Out And Walk Around”)

Good music is like a bus. You wait and wait and wait and then three show up at once. That's to say, I’ve been pleasantly inundated with great new albums lately…

I’ve got in my dirty, borderline ostentatious car an advance of the next month’s Sea Wolf cd, the Princeton EP, a pre-release of Tigers Can Bite You’s album, The Happy Hollows’ Echo residency EP, and Earlimart’s Mentor Tormentor, which is by far my favorite album this year.

It’s all killer, no filler, and it sure makes my morning commute from Silver Lake out to near LAX a little easier.

Anyway, enough about me. Here’s what this week is looking like, show-wise.

Monday, August 27
- Manic, Stranger Smile, Unarmed, & By and By @ The Echo (FREE)
- The Crash Kings, The Henry Clay People, Bugs in the Dark, The Daylights, & Overnight Lows @ The Silver Lake Lounge (FREE)
- The Section Quartet @ Troubadour
- Salon K, Santina Giordano, Cactys Fire, The Joyful Process, & Legs On Sale @ Mr T’s Bowl
- The Rainman Suite, Bobot Adrenaline, & Blockage @ The Scene
- Foot Foot, Bizzart, Rhetoric, I Heart Lung, & Red Pony Clock @ Pehrspace
- Low Vs. Diamond, The Young Immortals, & IO Echo @ Spaceland (FREE)
- I Make This Sound, Le Switch, The Monolators, & Papillon @ Bordello

The Henry Clay People are fun live and I’ve been meaning to check out Foot Foot all month, but the addition of Le Switch and The Monolators to I Make This Sound’s residency at Bordello is pretty damn appealing.

Tuesday, August 28
- Let's Independent! w/ The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, & The Lonely Years @ Boardner's (FREE)
- Benefit for the Circle X Theater w/ The Watson Twins, King Straggler, & Everest @ Spaceland
- This Evening, Cinder Cone, A Scribe Amidst the Lions, & The Shannons @ The Scene
- Mormons Tuesdays @ Mr T’s Bowl
- No Age @ Amoeba Music (7PM)
- The Receiving End of Sirens @ The Troubadour
- Angela Correa Is Correatown @ Bordello
- The Minor Canon @ The Prospector (Long Beach)
- The Finches, Women and Children, Correatown, & Wonderground @ Bordello
- Gogol Bordello @ The Henry Fonda
- I See Hawks in LA, Bubba Hernandez, & Dave Gleason @ The Echo
- Ian Ball @ Hotel Café
- Downtown Harvest, Owl Owl, & Map @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- Crowded House & Pete Yorn @ The Greek

If you missed our previous posts on this, we’re putting on our latest Let’s Independent! event at Boardner’s on Tuesday with The Amateurs, One Trick Pony, and The Lonely Years. It’s going to be a great night of music, we always get an excellent crowd of people, and it’s FREE. So come out and support local music, just by putting your face in the place.

Wednesday, August 29
- Jonneine Zapata @ Crane’s Tavern
- Driveblind & Back Door Slam @ The Troubadour
- Indie 103.1 presents CLUB NME @ Spaceland
- Far Away Places@ The Echo
- Wrong Way Driver, Scott Watson, & Love Lies Sleeping @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- Dub Club @ Echoplex
- The Return of BPM, Our 4 Sons, Andromeda Zero, & The Bombs @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Saint Motel, Voxhaul Broacast, & Tar Volts @ Bordello
- The Midnight Shakes, The King Cheetah, The Waking Hours, & Steel @ El Cid
- The Fresas, Tanks, & Open Choir Fire @ The Scene
- Wilco @ The Greek

Not sure what to mention for Wednesday night. Have you ever seen Jonneine Zapata play before? It’s like performance art by someone who can sing really goddamn well.

Thursday, August 30
- Skybombers & Run Run Run @ Hollywood & Highland
- Club Butchin, Your Mother's Lover, Royal Tears, & DJ Biz Cazsh @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders, The Thingz, & The Fleagles @ The Scene
- Phanthom @ The Troubadour
- Sierra Swan, Annie Stela, Rose Rossi, & Romanovs @ Bordello
- Jail Weddings & Holy Kiss @ The Echo
- KLA Media w/ Mooney Starr, Kelly Mantle, Nancy Fullforce, & Jason Farnham @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- Filter Magazine’s Revenge of the Sunset Strip w/ The Deadly Syndrome, Let’s Go Sailing, Western States Motel @ The Roxy

We’ve got three pairs of tickets to give away for Filter’s show at The Roxy with The Deadly Syndrome, Let’s Go Sailing, and The Western States Motel, which is one of the strongest line-ups this week. Just write us here with "FILTER" in the subject line and your full name to be entered into the drawing.

Friday, August 31
- Sage Francis @ The Silent Movie Theatre
- Paper Thin Walls, Sleestack, Great Glass Elevator, Radio Parade, Jami Ross, & The Janks @ The Troubadour
- The Mormons @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Underground @ The Echo
- Willoughby, Electrocute, & B.R.A.M. @ El Cid
- Wintergreen @ Spaceland
- Old Time Relijun, Mr. Tube, Ettrick, & Lucky Dragons @ The Smell
- Fitter & Aztlan Underground @ The Scene
- JAXart Presents: The Valley Arena, The Front, Wake Up Incinerate, & The Soft Hands @ Pehrspace

Rock Insider’s show at Pehrspace with The Valley Arena, The Front, Wake Up Incinerate, and The Soft Hands should be a good (albeit BYOB) time.

Saturday, September 1
- Mika Miko, Dylan Doren, The Muslims, & A.M. @ The Smell
- The Minus 5 & Jonathan Wilson @ Spaceland
- Crystal Antlers, Paranoids, Poor Excuses, & Chubby Chasers @ Que Sera (Long Beach)
- Niteshift @ Mr T’s Bowl
- SMOG 1 Year Anniversary @ The Echo
- Brandi Shearer @ Amoeba Music (7PM)
- Fatso Jetson, Dali’s Llama, Half Astro, & Velouria @ The Scene
- Brian Jonestown Massacre & Dimmer @ The Echoplex

People seem to like seeing this Brian Jonestown Massacre band live.

Sunday, September 2
- Lee Hazlewood Tribute Night w/ Mike Stinson, The Spires, Big Search, Claire McKeown & Brian Canning, The Finches, Charlie Wadhams & The Harmony Trio, Holly Palmer, & Correatown @ Tangier
- Kat Killers, Uptown Psychos, & Badtown @ The Scene
- Korn & Evanesence @ Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre
- Stereotype @ The El Rey
- VERITAS, Dark Horse, Spaz March, & Paranoids from San Francisco @ Mr T’s Bowl
- The Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club w/ Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Art Damaged, Princeton, & Young Adult @ All-Star Lanes
- Part Time Punks w/ The Chromatics (Members of Glass Candy), New Collapse @ The Echo
- Brian Jonestown Massacre & Dimmer @ The Echoplex

Tough call… On one hand, you’ve got The Spires, Big Search, and more at the Lee Hazlewood Tribute Night at Tangier… On the other, there’s the start of Letting Up Despite Great Faults residency at The Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club with Princeton. As they said in Miller’s Crossing, look into yeh heart…

That’s it. Did I miss anything? Please lemme know.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fuck Yeah Fest IV This Weekend

Yep. Fuck Yeah Fest IV takes place this Saturday and Sunday at a few venues pretty close to each other in Echo Park. Rock Insider has a nice piece about who is where and when. Read it here.

There's a wide fucking variety of bands playing... a lot of music store darlings. Some of my favorites include Lavender Diamond, Great Northern, Foreign Born, and In Waves.

Mini-Interview: The Lonely Years

LA’s The Lonely Years are hard to describe in a way that really does them justice. I asked my friend Aaron, who's in a great band and generally knows a lot more about music than I do, and he said, “Kind of like The Carter Family … a lot in minor chords.”

And I guess I’d call them "indie folk with a country twang" or, more simply, “pleasantly melancholy.”

They’re opening up our Let’s Independent! event at Boardner’s next Tuesday night – which is FREE – with The Amateurs and One Trick Pony, but we hadn’t covered them at all on the site yet, so I emailed Hale and Becky a few questions.

They replied in a kind of third-person omnipresent narrator fashion.

Hey, there. How are you doing? Did you have fun at Sunset Junction?

Hi, Joe. We’re good. Thanks! Sunset Junction was a sweaty, stinky festival of fun. Good thing it only happens once a year. Becky checked out the bands Saturday and Sunday we didn’t actually go in... just cruised the outskirts, caroused at Malo, and then fully enjoyed ourselves at the Fur Gallery. Did you have fun?

What I can remember was immensely entertaining -- and I guess it’s safe to assume the rest was, too... So, how did the two of you first start playing together?

We met about five years ago and immediately became friends. We didn’t start playing music together until about a year and a half ago, when we both were in a band called The Family Leaves.

Your previous band was called Junia May & The Hymns. Why the change to The Lonely Years?

Junia May & the Hymns was the band Hale created two years ago, before Becky started playing bass. They happened to need a bassist, and we found that we really collaborate well together, and so the music went in a little different direction. We wanted to come up with a name that really spoke to the kind of songs we were writing. We each had veto power, so it took quite a long time to come up with this one, but when we finally did, we both were like, “Yes… that’s it.”

Bryan -- who plays slide guitar, mandolin, and what else? -- carried on with you from Juania May. What's his background?

Bryan is one of those musicians who can listen once and pick up and play something amazing. He’s been playing music all his life. We adore him. His full name happens to be Bryan “everything sounds better” Dobbs

I think your drummer Joe Napolitano is in more bands than anyone else I can think of (including Le Switch). How did he join the band?

PURE LUCK! Pure luck. Becky met Joe at the Echo and we ran into him shortly thereafter. We charmed him into playing with us, so one night we practiced and we just had a lot of fun.

How do you describe your sound? And who are your influences?

We all come from such different backgrounds and our music certainly reflects that. Becky grew up on a farm in rural Ohio, Hale is a preacher’s kid from West Texas, and Joe grew up in Brooklyn from a family of musicians. I think our environments influenced us more than anything.

You have a unique sound for the LA music scene. How is that a help or a hurt?

We haven’t been around long…but have gotten some incredible shows. I’d say so far we’re on the good side of things…I think we’ll know more when we finish the E.P.

What's the status of that E.P.?

We’re in pre-production purgatory. We really want to get something recorded but for some reason or another we just haven’t been able to synch up our schedules. The status is looking positive though, we should be getting in the studio in September.

What's a question that I should've asked you if I was a better interviewer and/or had done more research and what not? (And what's the answer?)

What is Haru Ulala? Our favorite restaurant!

What's next for you?

Recording! And the show on Tuesday, of course…

Last question: What other acts in LA are you most enjoying these days?

Well, of course, Le Switch. We love them, and not just because of their drummer…We are also big fans of The World Record. And Joe saw Ric Veda the other night and really enjoyed that.

That's it. Thanks very much for your time.

You can hear songs off The Lonely Years’ myspace page here, but you really ought to see them live. Again, they’re playing our free Let’s Independent! event at Boardner’s with The Amateurs and One Trick Pony next Tuesday night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Let's Independent! & Now Blog This 2.0 = Cheap And Fun

There are two shows within the next week what I’d like to call your attention to as being particularly noteworthy, though I've got to admit I’m sort of helping out with both...

The first is out next Let's Independent! event at Boardner's of Hollywood, which is next Tuesday aka August 28th. It's FREE, the doors are at 8:30, it's 21+, the folks who attend are always great, and we've got three fantastic local acts.

The Amateurs - This paper called The LA Times wrote about our headliner, "[the L.A. quartet] can't quite decide what they want to be, except good. Their first album nods to classic rock, folky '70s radio fare, modern indie titans and maybe even prog rock band or two, if they used strings. Whether you hear a lot of Wilco or a little Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention or the Band, it's the emotional range that makes Amateurs' an impressive debut... It's folk-rock that doesn't need to resort to gimmickry or conscious deconstruction."

One Trick Pony - Are too pretty to call experimental and too unconventional to just be marked as pop. I dare you to try listening to One Trick Pony's Box Song only one time. It's one of the most beautiful and most addictive tracks I've heard all year.

The Lonely Years - The first band of the evening are a fairly new indie folk group ... a heart-breaking hidden gem who we're running an interview with on Friday. Joe Napolitano from the amazing Le Switch also drums for The Lonely Years and their slide guitarist kills me.

You can hear tracks from all three bands right here.

The other show you should go to is … tonight! It’s the second Now Blog This! event at The Scene in Glendale.

If you remember the last one, the folks at The Scene had asked Little Radio, You Set The Scene, Rock Insider, and RFSL each to pick one band to play -- The Pity Party, The Clean Prophets, The Valley Arena, and The Western States Motel, respectively -- and the venerable Kevin Bronson and Sea Level Sylvia DJed.

Tonight’s show will feature The Deadly Syndrome (presented by Passion of the Weiss), Le Switch (presented by Aquarium Drunkard), Aushua (presented by The LA Times Buzz Bands blog), and Phoenix and The Turtle (presented by LA Underground). And DJ duties will be handled by Jax from Rock Insider and myself. And it's just $5.

The Deadly Syndrome and Le Switch are among my favorite live acts in town, so I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic night.

Hope to see you all out at both shows.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Video Free Silver Lake: Sea Wolf, The Movies, & The Airborne Toxic Event

So, you missed Sunset Junction last weekend because of the heat or excessive price or you were lazy or out of town or just plain forgot. Luckily, photographer Jeff Koga was on hand to take pics for LAist and recorded some video footage of the proceedings for you.

Here’s Sea Wolf live with their catchy-as-fuck You're A Wolf.

This is a song off The Movies' much-anticipated next cd called Tired of Being Superstitious.

Here’s a clip of The Airborne Toxic Event’s Papillion, which means “butterfly” in French and was a movie with Steve McQueen in it and shit.

Many thanks for sharing, Jeff.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuesday New Releases: Earlimart, Foreign Born, The Parson Redheads, & More

Like I mentioned before, both Foreign Born and Earlimart both have CD Release Events in town on Tuesday night, the former at The Echo with In Waves and the latter downstairs at The Echoplex with The Parson Redheads and The Pity Party.

I’ve heard both albums and officially declare them “ossum” …

Here are all the other albums that came out this week, but, to be honest, I’ll have a hard time listening to anything else than the stellar two listed above.

The Section Quartet - Fuzzbox
Caribou - Andorra
The Flaming Lips - U.F.O.'s at the Zoo [Live/DVD Audio]
Imperial Teen - The Hair, The TV, The Baby And The Band
Mendoza Line - 30-Year Low EP + The Final Remarks Of The Legendary Malcontent
M.I.A. - Kala
Minus The Bear - Planet Of Ice
Travis Morrison - All Y'All
The New Pornographers - Challengers
Rilo Kiley - Under The Blacklight
Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
Talib Kweli – Ear Drum

The Monday Show Low Down (Or “I Drove All The Way From Bridgeport Just To Make It With You”)

Man, I went to Sunset Junction over the weekend and boy is my face red. I bet that’s the case for a lot of the area’s most dedicated show-goers, since some of the best local bands (Sea Wolf, The Airborne Toxic Event, Division Day, The Movies, and the like) had sets during the hottest, no shade parts of both days.

You’ll likely see a lot of sunburned people at the free Monday night residencies tonight, a red badge of courage that hopefully won’t lead to the basal cell carcinoma of courage.

Anyway, let’s stop living in the goddamn past and take a look at this week…

Monday, August 20
- Low Vs. Diamond, Oliver Future, The Lonely H, & The Scare @ Spaceland (FREE)
- The Crash Kings, Birds and Batteries, The Waking Hours, & Walker Young @ The Silver Lake Lounge (FREE)
- Manic, Minutes til Midnight, Policy, & Dead Ponies @ The Echo (FREE)
- RX Bandits @ The Troubadour
- Adeline @ Tangier
- The Hanks & The Beautiful and The Damned @ The Viper Room
- I Make This Sound, Chris Black, Erich Von Kneip, & Cat Hair Ensemble @ Bordello
- Talib Kweli @ Amoeba Music
- The Frustrations & Terrible Twos @ The Scene
- The Beastie Boys @ The Greek
- The Little Lebowski Urban Archievers, Johnny Nobody, JR Juggernaut, & Audiocination @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Two Sheds, Foot Foot, Lucky Dragons, & Devon Williams @ Pehrspace

Out of everyone playing tonight, my main pick is probably Two Sheds from Sacramento at Pehrspace. They don’t make it out here too often, so it’s a rare goddamn treat for folks like myself who heart their country-tinged indie pop musics.

Tuesday, August 21
- Earlimart CD Release Party w/ The Pity Party & The Parson Redheads @ The Jensen Rec Center
- Foreign Born CD Release Party w/ In Waves & Nevenka @ The Echo
- The Beastie Boys @ The Wiltern
- The Henry Clay People, Shiloe, The New Room, & The Wallburds @ The Scene
- Mini Lov @ The Cat Club
- Mormon Tuesdays @ Mr T’s Bowl
- King Elementary & Into the Presence @ Spaceland
- Modlins, Hot TV, & Park Lights @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- The Finches, Shammer’d, & The Bushes @ Bordello
- Kissing Cousins, The Garden Angels, The Petes, Ragsy, & More @ Safari Sam’s

Last Friday night’s Earlimart CD release event in (gasp!) Santa Monica was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had at a show this year. The Happy Hollows played a bunch of new songs off their upcoming album, Castledoor put on a fucking phenomenal performance, and Earlimart played one of the most stellar sets I’ve seen from them yet.

If you missed it, they’re playing on Tuesday with The Parson Red Heads and The Pity Party at The Jensen Rec Center, which is probably a little closer to home for most of y’all.

And right down the street, Foreign Born will be celebrating the release of their great new album at The Echo with the also rad In Waves.

Wednesday, August 22
- Cydney Robinson, Chris Black, Dustin Boyer, The Preacher’s Son, & Frankel @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ The Mayan
- Dub Club @ Echoplex
- Saucy Minx, Ponette, Waterlaso, & Out of Town @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Club Underground @ The Echo
- The Beastie Boys @ The Wiltern
- Wheels on Fire & Quan & the Chinese Take-Outs @ The Scene
- Aimee Mann @ Largo
- Kiss or Kill w/ The Invisible Humans, The King Cheetah, The Letter Openers, & The Foundation @ El Cid
- Indie 103.1 presents CLUB NME @ Spaceland
- Suicide Club, Wartapes, Policy, & The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra @ Bordello
- The Cary Brothers & Stars of Track And Field @ The Troubadour
- The Stevenson Ranch Davidians & Winter Flowers @ The Echo

It’s your last chance to see Michael Orendy’s indie pop gem Frankel before he hits the road to tour with Earlimart for awhile.

Thursday, August 23
- Daniel Johnston @ The Henry Fonda
- Aimee Mann @ Largo
- Wind Swept Planes, Extraordinary Pigeons, Gator Surprise, Tik///Tik, & Rale @ The Smell
- Marissa Nadler, Friends of Dean Martinez, & Mountain Home @ Spaceland
- Now Blog This! w/ The Deadly Syndrome, Le Switch, Aushua, & Phoenix and the Turtle @ The Scene
- Hell Ya! Night @ The Echo
- The Weather Underground, My Pet Saddle, & Carlos Guitarlos @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- The Guilty Hearts, The Jinxes, Thee Cormans, The Babes, Rover’s Pinky, Las Pantuflas, & more @ Mr Ts Bowl
- No Age & The Mae Shi @ The Troubadour

The Now Blog This! event at The Scene -- where each band is hand-picked by a different excellent local blog -- on Thursday night promises to be one of the best shows this month. I mean, seeing The Deadly Syndrome and Le Switch separately is fantastic, but together? More on this soon...

Friday, August 24
- Bert Jansch @ The Troubadour
- Minus The Bear @ Fingerprints
- Aimee Mann @ Largo
- The Lava Children, The Vox Jaguars, The Natural Disasters, & Muso @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Argo & The Spires @ El Cid
- Castaneda, The Coral Sea, & The Frequency @ Spaceland
- Jeremy Jay, The Brian Wakefield Experience, The Sundells, & Weyou @ The Smell
- The Hour of the Shipwreck @ The Good Hurt
- United by Sound, Woven, Last American Buffalo, & More @ Safari Sam’s
- The Gears, The Billybones, The Scrid Hunters, & Comprehend @ The Scene
- Marilyn Manson & Slayer @ Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre
- Daniel Johnston @ The Henry Fonda

I’ve meant to see The Lava Children play for officially forever now, but The Spires (who are always great) are playing at El Cid...

Saturday, August 25
- Fuck Yeah Fest featuring The Explosion, The Fuse!, Lavender Diamond, Busdriver, Boom Bip, American Steel, Entrance, The Mae Shi, Fleshies, Bobby Birdman, Thee More Shallows, Greg Ashely of Gris Gris, Upsilon Acrux, Residual Echoes, Imaad Wasif, Times New Viking, Hit Me Back, Love or Perish, Devon Williams, Japanese Motors, & more @ the EchoPlex, the Echo, the Rec Center, BBC Clothing, & Taix
- Au Revoir Simone & Princeton @ Troubadour
- Psychic TV @ The Henry Fonda
- Sirhan Sirhan & Dead Ponies @ The Scene
- Blue Mask, HDR, The Probe, Pat Todd and The Rank Outsiders, Backbiter, Chairs of Perception, Amadans, Lofty Canaanites, Motorcycle Black Madonnas, Freda Rente, Swords of Fatima, Ghidrah, Brain Dead Prophets, Madamn Grislee, The Charmkin Rebellion, Poolhouse, & Dopeheads on Mopeds, & more @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Bolero, War Children, & The Tyde @ Spaceland
- They Shoot Horses Don’t They Abe Vigoda, 60 Watt Kid, & The Deadly Finns @ The Smell
- The Youngs @ The Prospector (Long Beach)
- Weatherground, Emi Kasai Band, The Last Holy Fools, & Right Hand Band @ The Cocaine at Live Jazz
- The Airborne Toxic Event @ The KGB Gallery
- Grant Lee Phillips @ Largo
- Sam Sparro's CD Release Event w/ Casxio & Roc @ Bordello
- Rademacher, Death To Anders, The Vox Jaguars, & Valentino @ Pehrspace

There’s a lot of great weird and borderline inaccessible bands playing at Fuck Yeah Fest on Saturday, while Au Revoir Simone and Princeton play heart-breaking pop music over at The Troubadour, Fresno’s Rademacher join Death to Anders at Pehrspace, and The Airborne Toxic Event sneak off to some place called The KGB Gallery.

Sunday, August 26
- Fuck Yeah Fest featuring Deerhunter, Indian Jewelry, The Blood Arm, Midnight Movies, Jay Reatard, Foreign Born, Pissed Jeans, No Age, xBxRx, Darker My Love, The Nice Boys, Langhorne Slim, Great Northern, Triclops, Red Fang, Best Fwends, Whispertown 2000, Moonrats, Rumspringa, The Strange Boys, 60 Watt Kid, Abe Vigoda, The Muslims, The Prayers, Bad Dudes, Jail Wedding, & more @ @ the EchoPlex, the Echo, the Rec Center, BBC Clothing, & Taix
- Hello Menno, The French Semester, Codpiece, & Manhattan Murder Mystery @ The Scene
- Celebrate $1 Million @ The Troubadour
- The Real McKenzies @ The El Rey
- The Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club w/ Underwater City Poeple, Pussy Cow, Silver Needle, & Meghan Toohey @ All-Star Lanes
- City of Progress, Gregory Miles Harris, & Sticky Yeti @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Part Time Punks Fuck Yeah Fest After Party @ The Echo
- Darren Hanlon, Doris, & The Brook Lee Catastrophe @ Tangier
- Lion of Panjshir @ UCLA Fowler Museum

Sunday is day two of Fuck Yeah Fest, featuring even more great weird and borderline inaccessible bands. Definitely worth running around a few different venues for.

That’s it. Did I miss anything? Lemme know.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sunset Junction This Weekend

I didn't want this weekend's Sunset Junction festival to pass by without writing something on it, but Duke over at You Set The Scene just posted an excellent guide to all the great local bands playing the event. Go look.

You'll probably see me at most of those shows, though I'm definitely sneaking over to The Cocaine at Live Jazz in Little Tokyo on Sunday night to see The Hectors and Princeton play.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mini-Interview: Xu Xu Fang

If taken in excessive quantities, Xu Xu Fang may well destroy you. The LA psych rock band contains addictive qualities and can cause intoxication, euphoria, and instances of light delirium.

We spoke to Xu Xu Fang drummer and lead Bobby Tamkin about the act’s origins, its recent spread, and how its pervasive influence may affect you and your children at home...

Bobby! How the fuck are you?

I am in wonderful fucking spirits!

So, Xu Xu Fang. How long has the band been together in its current form? What came before that?

Xu Xu Fang's been together in its current form for almost a year. Xu Xu Fang [first] existed in early 2000 and our show was a very specific, almost theater-style performance. It featured a thirteen-piece band and we performed in front of a film that I shot. We were described as a band that provides a live soundtrack to a film. I felt, however, that it had run its course and it was time to move on.

Yyour first release is very, very, very different from what you guys are doing now -- a mix of an old radio drama and something John Zorn might do. How and why have the band’s focus changed since then?

Xu Xu Fang really has no specific form. Yesterday it was a radio drama, today its rock and roll, tomorrow it will most likely be a boy band or torture device used by the US Military.

I felt as if people were enamored with the concept of the last show/record, but overlooked the music. All these weird references to people I had never heard of or liked, bugged me. It was flattering, but strange. I initially did it to try something different, but then longed for music that actually stuck with people.

At that time, I’d also never written a song before. I was a drummer in other bands and never tried writing songs with vocals. So, eventually, I tried to write a song and These Days came out. I played it for a few friends and when none of them believed that I wrote it, I continued to write more. The focus now is on whatever happens when I pick up an instrument.

What the hell’s a “Xu Xu Fang?”

Dunno. I wrote it on a notebook while daydreaming about silly glam band names during a school lecture and thought it looked funny. Years later, I opened a box, found the notebook and saw it. I thought it had to be used for a band name. Apparently, the words Xu and Fang exist in many languages. In one dialect of Chinese, I’m told it means “Cool Cool Breeze." Not sure though.

You guys use a lot of horses in your t-shirts and myspace page and what not. What’s with all the horses?

Equine Enthusiasm. Horses combine beauty, power and a stoney aura. Same with the Fang.

You used to be in The Warlocks. What was that like?

Fucking awesome. Well, most of the time. Musically, one of the best bands I have been a part of. I love playing music with Bobby. I was a fan of his previous bands, so it was great to play with him.

They recently re-formed, right? Do you keep up with them?

I believe they just took some time off. I’m not sure if they actually reformed as some of the same people are still around, minus a few. I keep up with Bobby and see Plucky now and again.

You released a vinyl EP for some of your new Xu Xu Fang material. How did that happen?

I put the song These Days on Myspace and people started sniffin’ around. Two well-known labels asked to release an entire album, but we only had two songs at the time. One person, without a label, showed lots of genuine love, so we went with her.

And you’re working on a full album now, correct? How’s that going? Have you been talking to any labels or do you plan it as a self-release?

Yes, we’re working on a full-length. We’re recording it with The Wrangler again. The new songs are great and different than what people have heard in the past. We have a ton of new songs. We’ve been talking to a few labels, but we don’t want to make any moves until the album is completed. We’ll probably go with whoever likes it as is and doesn’t ask us to change anything.

What’s next for you?

We just shot a video with Simon and Joe from Artificial Army. So far, it looks insane. We are going to continue writing and recording new songs, play more shows and continue our quest to find the perfect horse.

Last question: What other local bands have you been listening to lately?

LA Guns, Pretty Boy Floyd, Tuff, Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Ratt, Bang Tango, and Warrant.

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

Thank you, Joe. Our show at Boardners as part of Radio Free Silver Lake's Let's Independent! concert series was our favorite show this year, so far.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Band of the Week: The Coral Sea

There’s been a lot of favorable chatter around town lately about The Coral Sea, a local indie rock act who have been playing numerous shows here in the last few months … from The Eagle Rock Bowling and Drinking Club at All-Star Lanes to appearing at the Eskimohunter residency at Spaceland ... and this week with The Finches at Bordello on Tuesday and next in Santa Barbara with Sea Wolf.

And such talk is justified. They're well worth seeing. As proof, we offer up this footage of them at Spaceland earlier this year and the video for their song Look At Her Face.

- In This Moments Time MP3
- Ancient Modern People MP3
- Look at Her Face MP3

Video Free Silver Lake: Great Northern, Caribou, & Mezzanine Owls

Last night was kind of a show apocalypse here in town. Who did you see? Film School? The Dodos? The Little Ones? The One AM Radio? Or did you just stay home and knit? Let me know if you have any footage to share.

Here are a few videos worth checking out... The first is some live footage of Great Northern playing their song The Middle at Spaceland last Friday night.

The second is of the super catchy song Melody Day from Caribou.

And the third is live footage of Mezzanine Owls playing one of my favorite tracks from them, Moving Ground. (They've gotten really damn good live lately, by the way.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Releases: Earlimart's Mentor Tormentor

It's Tuesday, so there are a few interesting new albums out in stores nationwide, but the big news around here of course is Earlimart's release events for their new cd Mentor Tormentor.

Again, they're having two special events book-ending this weekend… This Friday with The Happy Hollows and Castledoor at The Santa Monica Women’s Club and next Tuesday at The Jensen Rec Center with The Parson Redheads and The Pity Party. You should really try to hit one or both.

Filter has a short piece on the making of the album right here and you can find an interview we did with Aaron over here.

Here's what else is out this week across the nation:

Eisley - Combinations
Fog - Ditherer
Junior Senior - Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
Nina Nastasia & Jim White - You Follow Me (domestic release)
Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart

- Earlimart's Answers & Questions MP3
- Nina Nastasia & Jim White - I Write Down Lists MP3

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Monday Show Low Down (Or "I'm In Love With The Stars Above Your House")

Whew! It’s done. The list on your right might just represent the most comprehensive music calendar in LA right now. It’s compiled from listings on more than a dozen venue’s web-sites and about fifty emails from local bands about their shows. (And many thanks to the fine folks over at You Set The Scene and The Scenestar for a few tips, too.)

So, take a moment to browse over it. It includes new dates for Pinback, The Silversun Pickups, The Cold War Kids, Say Hi To Your Mom, Voxtrot, and more. Go look and stuff.

Lotsa great stuff this week:

Monday, August 13
- Manic, Oreskaband, The Snow, & On The Surface @ The Echo (FREE)
- Low Vs. Diamond, Switches, The Everyday Visuals, & Sunday Drivers @ Spaceland (FREE)
- The Crash Kings, Waking Hours, & Tall Hands @ The Silver Lake Lounge (FREE)
- Foot Foot, Social Junk,Veer Right Young Pastor, Flaspar, Atole, & Copy @ Pehrspace
- The Vaginals, Clark 8, John Thill, & Lacoste @ The Scene
- I Make This Sound, Frankel, The Hectors, & Electromagnetic @ Bordello
- Gliss, IO Echo, Moderates, & Black Kites @ The Viper Room

I’m definitely heading over to Bordello -- for the first time since they ditched their old name and the giant stuffed polar bear – to see Frankel and The Hectors. (And I’ve been meaning to check out I Make This Sound for a long time.)

Tuesday, August 14
- Film School, Pela, & Downtown Union @ Spaceland
- The Dodos @ 6th Street Warehouse
- One AM Radio, Lymbyc System, & Montag @ The Echo
- NU-TRA, 8-Bit, The Mormons, The Bolides & The London Broil @ Safari Sam’s
- Wait Think Fast @ Chi Chis Word Parlor
- Dengue Fever @ The Knitting Factory
- Mr. Airplane Man, The Guilty Hearts, & The Slighted @ The Scene
- Buckfast & Almaden @ The Mint
- The Finches, The Coral Sea, & Ghost Town @ Bordello
- The Magic Numbers, The Little Ones, & Ingrid Michaelson @ The El Rey

Lots of good Tuesday night choices… Film School, The Dodos, The Little Ones, The One AM Radio

Wednesday, August 15
- Junior Senior @ The Roxy
- Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! @ The Troubadour
- Secret Society of the Sonic Six @ Bordello
- Indie 103.1 presents CLUB NME w/ White Savage, & Static Static @ Spaceland
- The Halflings, Cathode Terror, Secretion, & more @ Pehrspace
- Hundreds and Thousands, Ancestors, Tweak Bird, & Terrors @ The Scene
- Dub Club @ The Echoplex
- Nicholas Gitomer and Susan Estrada Guitar Duo, The Last Slice of Butter, Social Junk, & Recognizer @ The Smell
- The Stevenson Ranch Davidians @ The Echo

The Stevenson Ranch Davidians are a solid rock act. I don’t know anyone else playing that night, really.

Thursday, August 16
- Midnight Movies, Irving, The Architects, & Gore Gore Girls @ Echoplex
- Carina Round & The Veils @ The Hotel Café
- Patti Smith @ Santa Monica Pier
- Ancestors, Glass And Ashes, El Barbaro, Hessian Wolf Children, & Singularity @ The Smell
- Tiny Vipers @ Spaceland
- Paul Avion & Crunge @ Mr T’s Bowl
- Reik & Camila @ The Henry Fonda
- Phoenix and The Turtle, The High Strung, & Whoreshoes @ The Silver Lake Lounge
- Filter Magazine’s Revenge of the Sunset Strip w/ Delta Spirit, King Elementary, Sparrow Love Crew, & The Outline @ The Roxy
- Public Enemy @ The House of Blues
- The Black Pine & Princeton @ Pershing Square
- Flexx Bronco, Civet, The Legendary Swagger, & 65 OverDrive @ The Scene
- The Minor Canon @ Charlie O’s Cocktail Lounge in Alexandria Hotel (FREE)
- The Detroit Cobras @ The Troubadour

I haven’t seen local indie pop all-stars Irving play in forever and I hear they’ve recorded a new album since, so that would be great to catch, but that free show over at the Alexandria Hotel with The Minor Canon could be pretty amazing.

Friday, August 17
- Earlimart CD Release Event w/ The Happy Hollows & Castledoor @ The Santa Monica Women’s Club
- Alo @ The Troubadour
- Brodie Foster Hubbard @ M Bar
- Golden State, Emma Burgess, & The Underwater @ The Viper Room
- The Flying Tourbillon Orchesta & Exitmusic @ El Cid
- The Aquabats @ The El Rey Theatre
- Sister Nancy @ The Echoplex
- Abe Vigoda, Screamin' Cyn Cyn And The Pons, Gay Beast, Bad Dudes, & Sleeping People @ The Smell
- Club Underground Presents: A For Attack, Sabertooth Tiger, & The Nation Blue @ The Echo
- Fortunes Flesh & The Guilty Hearts @ The Scene
- One Trick Pony, Davin Givhan, & Correatown @ Pehrspace
- The Buzzcocks, The Adored, & Easy Image @ Spaceland

Earlimart’s having two CD release events book-ending this weekend… This Friday with The Happy Hollows and Castledoor at The Santa Monica Women’s Club and next Tuesday at The Jensen Rec Center with The Parson Redheads and The Pity Party.

And it’s worth noting that what I’ve heard off that album is fucking fantastic...

Saturday, August 18
- Knight Rider, Love Boat, Kinky Method, & Harlem @ The Smell
- Echo & IHEARTCOMIX present Check Yo Ponytail - Dandi Wind, Passions, & Bedtime for Toys @ Echoplex
- IO Perry @ Taix Lounge
- Family Underground, Damion Romero, & Robedoor @ Pehrspace
- Black Sugar, Red Hearts, & Su Blah Nu @ The Scene
- Hang The DJs @ The Echo
- Amy Winehouse & Paolo Nutini @ The Wiltern
- The French Semester & Ollie Bird @ The Good Hurt
- Sunset Junction After Party w/ Infinity, & Randy Kaplan @ Spaceland
- Division Day, Sea Wolf, Autolux, Blonde Redhead, Ben Harper, Broken West, The Parson Redheads, & More @ Sunset Junction Street Fair

If you’re in town on Saturday and miss seeing Division Day, Sea Wolf, and Autolux play at Sunset Junction… well, you shouldn’t.

Sunday, August 19
- No Age, Mae Shi, Abe Vigoda, & Bad Dudes @ Fur Gallery
- Colorforms @ The Viper Room
- Part Time Punks Smiths Morrissey Nite w/ Languis, & The Tartans @ The Echo
- RX Bandits @ The Troubadour
- Seymour Saves The World @ Spaceland
- Bourgarelli, HT Heartache, & Wulf Anderson @ Tangier
- 311 & Matisyahu @ Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre
- Esthero & One Trick Pony @ The Roxy
- The Littlest Viking @ The Cocaine at Live Jazz
- Prize Country, Loom, A District of Evolution, & The Ten Bells @ The Scene
- Blonde Redhead @ The Glasshouse (Pomona)
- Amy Winehouse & Paolo Nutini @ The Wiltern
- The Beastie Boys @ The Greek
- The Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club w/ Underwater City People, Birds and Batteries, Mospeada, & The Powercords @ All-Star Lanes
- The Airborne Toxic Event, The Movies, Eskimo Hunter, The Pity Party, Hot Hot Heat, She Wants Revenge, The Buzzcocks, The Bronx, & More @ Sunset Junction Street Fair

Sunset Junction amazes again with The Airborne Toxic Event, The Movies, and more, while No Age plays over at The Fur Gallery.

That’s it. If I’ve missed anything, please lemme know.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mini-Interview: Amateurs

The local folk rock act the Amateurs have come up quite a bit in discussion around the RFSL corporate offices since the release of their Speak Easy album last May, but since we recently lined them up to play our next Let's Independent! night at Boardner's on Tuesday, August 28th, a few of us were worried it might seem somewhat self-serving to interview them right before the event...

In the end, the debate was cut short when someone brought up the point that it was fine since we don't actually make a dime off of those shows. (Remember, they're FREE.) But, consider this one of those full fucking NPR-style disclosures, anyway.

Here's how our recent correspondence went with Amateurs lead Keith Waggonner about the origins of the band, the recording of their album, and what's next for them.

Hey, Keith. How's it going? I heard The Monolators' BBQ last weekend was fun.

Hmm… word travels fast. Yeah, it was a good time. Mary and Eli are such great people, I really enjoy hanging out with them. I think they know just about every band in town, so there were quite a few local musicians about. They had the full-on backyard acoustic jam going down. It was pretty sweet.

How long have the Amateurs been together now? How did you form?

Stephen and I started writing as the Amateurs about three years ago. We were living in the Bay Area and our band at the time, Espontaneos, had recently split up. Since we already had a studio, we continued writing new material. It was just kind of natural for us to keep going.

It took a little while for the band to develop though, we went through a few lineup changes and decided to relocate. We didn’t meet up with Shannon and Anthony until after we got to Los Angeles. Shan and I met through work and I invited her to come in and add some strings to an EP that we were working on.

Anthony lived across the hall from me. He produces a lot of electronic music and I would go over to his place from time to time and write with him. I ended up stealing some of the stuff for the Amateurs, so I asked him to come along on tour with us and perform it live.

He and Shannon also started dating around that time, which may or may not have contributed to him joining on full time.

Who would you say are your influences, if pressed?

Bands like Wilco, Fugazi, and Blonde Redhead have definitely influenced my style and inspire me to keep making records. I’d say my biggest influences though, are probably my band mates.

So, you don't have a bass player. Why?

You know, we tried. We went through a few and actually lost one in the middle of a tour last year. We still had about ten dates left to go and were forced to work around it. It changed our sound quite a bit, but surprisingly, people loved it. We got a better response on that leg than we had on the whole tour, so we decided to go with it.

Has that been a pain to work around or pushed you more creatively? Or, y'know, both?

I would say both. In the live setting it can be tricky, if we’re playing at a club with lousy sound on stage. In the studio, I think it forces us to be a bit more inventive. We tend to experiment a lot while arranging songs, I think because we’re not bound to any specific instrumentation.

You posted an ongoing diary on myspace during your recent national tour. What were the highlights and lowlights?

Ah, there were a lot of good times, it’s hard to recount them all. It was great to play in cities like New York, Philadelphia and DC for the first time. We also got to spend a few days hanging out at the beach on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Another highlight was attending the US Air Guitar Regional Championships in Minneapolis. Our friend Jon was doing his retirement performance as reigning champ and he did this aging rock star routine that killed it. Oh, and we saw this dude jump off the drum riser during his performance and break his knee! No kidding.

Who would have thought that air guitar was dangerous, right? There were probably a thousand people there for the show, it was pretty unreal. We put some pictures up on the blog you’re referring to. The lowlight of the tour was definitely the two-day trek in a minivan from Durham, North Carolina back to LA (52 hours to be exact). Ah, it was brutal.

So your album Speak Easy came out last May. When did you record it? Who did you record with?

We recorded last winter at King Size over in Eagle Rock. Manny Nieto, Josiah Mazzachi, and Scott Hirsch engineered at different points. Dave Trumfio mixed. It was a great experience for us.

There was a lot of work to get done with little time to do it all. I don’t think we could have picked a better group of people to help us undertake the project. I think we only budgeted for like nine days originally, for both tracking and mixing. We ended up going over by a few days, of course, but the time limitations really pushed us to go in prepared and lay it down.

How did the residency at The Scene go?

The folks over at The Scene are like family to us. We’ve been playing that club since we first came to LA and it was great just to have an excuse to go hang out with them every Tuesday. The shows were a blast. We were able to share the nights with a lot of our favorite local bands.

What's next for you?

We’ll have to see. We’ve got some pretty great local shows coming up that I’m looking forward to. I’ve been starting to write for a new record. That’s about it.

What did I forget to ask you that I'd regret later? (Were any of your members in a boy band? Have you ever lost any members to the porn industry?)

Funny that you ask… one of our many bass players, Ryan, left the band to pursue a career in the Adult Film Industry. He’s doing pretty well from what I hear.

I once tried out for a boy band once called Another Bad Creation, but I didn’t make the cut. I could never figure out why, I guess it was because I’m a terrible dancer.

Last question: What local bands are you listening to these days?

Simon Dawes, The Parson Redheads, Secretary Bird, and Le Switch are all in regular rotation. Also, I’ve been recently introduced to Everest and One Trick Pony. They’re currently providing the soundtrack to my mornings at work.

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

Thank you, Joe. You’re a gentleman and a scholar.

The Amateurs' next show is at our FREE Let's Independent! night at Boardner's on Tuesday, August 28th with One Trick Pony and The Lonely Years.

- Omaha Nights MP3
- Six Days MP3