Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I don't think I'll be posting here anymore. I'm posting stuff at myspace.com so if you're interested you can find me there. The link is to the right and you don't have to join to read the posts. Thanks for coming by and maybe I'll hear from you in the future.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Everyone has their own tastes, but I still can't understand why the Go-Betweens don't have a bigger following. How many bands are still putting out quality work 25 years after they first started? Granted, their music isn't going to change THE world, but it certainly could change YOUR world. There is such a lack of beauty in the world and their songs have an overabundance of it. They are true storytellers whose lyrics can break your heart at one point or make you laugh at another from the dry wit. Only two of the original members remain, but they always were the core of the band. This was my first time seeing them and I enjoyed myself very much. They played a lot of new songs interspersed with some of their classics. Guitars spanning the gap from angular and sparse electric to lush acoustic. They could go from punky in one minute to baroque the next minute. I think the crowd would have watched them play all night. In fact someone yelled out to play until dawn. They didn't quite reach that point, but they did end up coming out for four or five encores. The last song was one of their finest and truly one of the best songs ever written in general. "Cattle and Cane" has lyrics which evoke a nostalgic melancholy to me. The music is simple, but it goes with the lyrics very well. It is just basic guitar, bass, and drums moving steadily along which makes me picture wind blowing through vegetation. The version last night was just incredible. They deserve much more fanfare, but I'll cherish the fact that I am able to see and hear them.

More possible fun to be had in the future:

Arthurfest is September 4th and 5th at Barnsdall Art Park. The bands playing so far:

just added: HENRY JACOBS

There are a few people I would like to see so I'm going to try and make it. Hopefully all the groups I want to see play on one day so I can buy a single ticket and save a little money.

September 29th the New Pornographers are playing the Henry Fonda Theater. I've skipped the two other times they came through town so I'm definitely going to make this one.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On Wednesday, the end of my work day left me at the UCI Medical Center in Orange. The previous day my friend Kim had a double mastectomy at this very institute so being that I was in the neighborhood as they say I gave her a visit. I had images of her laying in bed, barely able to move on account of all the bandages wrapped around her chest. I was very wrong. As I entered the room she was sitting in a chair and she was rather chipper, all things considered. No bandages and her surgery went really well; better than even the doctors had imagined. Surgery has certainly advanced from the past. I hope this is the end of this for her and a return to normalcy will begin.

Saturday I went to the library and picked up some books. Now I need to find a good beach chair and I will start spending some time reading by the beautiful ocean. My feet and legs could sure use a little bit of color.

What else does the future hold? It seems that I will be hitting a bit of a dry spell in terms of concerts for awhile.

July 9th is Dungen at the Troubadour.

July 31st is the Pernice Brothers at the Knitting Factory.

August 7th is Teenage Fanclub at the Knitting Factory.

August 20th is Shellac and Autolux at the Ex Plex.

If I can find a really, really cheap flight I might go to NYC to see the Hunches and Cheater Slicks at the end of June. I'm talking crazy here because I can't really afford this trip. but who knows.

Museum shows that I plan on going to in the future are a Paul Strand exhibit at the Getty and a Greta Garbo photo exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

This Saturday I am looking forward to seeing the Go-Betweens at the Troubadour and Sunday I think I am going to see the Andre Kertesz exhibit at LACMA.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

This weekend has been somewhat mellow and that's not a bad thing. Friday and Saturday I ended up going to birthday party dinners and a good meal with friends is always a nice thing. Yesterday I went to a matinee of LORDS OF DOGTOWN. It's not bad and, actually, it is entertaining, but the story was already told in DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS in a much more interesting way. The dramatized version just seemed a little bit superfluous to me. Today I went to Fingerprints Records to see John Doe do an acoustic set. I should get his new album because everything I hear off of it I like, plus he duets with Neko Case on one song. The set was good and I've always liked the sound of his voice.

I don't know what is coming up. I planned on buying a ticket to see Devo at the Anaheim HOB, but tickets are $62.50 so that is not going to happen. I can't imagine what the service charges come out to. That really is just a ridiculous amount for a concert ticket. The only thing I have planned for sure are the Go-Betweens in a couple of weeks. I've been told that Dungen is worth checking out so who knows, maybe I'll check that out at the Troubadour. In general I think it is time for little road trips, museum and gallery visits, restaurant visits, and more concert and movie going. I'll have to start writing some stuff down and get my butt in gear to attend the stuff I write down. It's time for me to have some fun.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Last night I watched a movie called THE NOTEBOOK. It was a nice and entertaining romantic movie. You know... boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc, but it was pretty well done. It's about a couple who meet in the forties and their tale is told by a man to a woman in the present day. There's a bit of a twist, but you can guess it pretty early on in the movie. I couldn't help but think about my parents as I watched it. They celebrated their fourtieth wedding anniversary this past April. It has been a week since my mom died. I know that things have been harder for my dad than me. Just the other day he was looking through some of my mom's things and I could tell it was really hitting him. I think about my mom all the time no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, but I can't say that I feel depressed. I'm definitely sad, but I'm not going to crawl up into a ball and cry day and night. It sometimes feels like people are expecting me to do that. I can honestly say that life is a little less worthwhile for me, but it goes on. Just last night I was thinking about something and I thought that I should share it with my mom, but of course I can no longer do that. I have an image of her when she came home from the hospital two weeks ago. I put on the cd of Antonio Carlos Jobim's THE COMPOSER OF "DESAFINADO," PLAYS and she was tapping her hands on the bed along to the music. She had her eyes closed and I'm sure she wasn't feeling well at all, but I know she was enjoying that music. I like that image.

Friday night is Of Montreal and Tilly And The Wall at someplace in Hollywood. I'm going to try and make it to this, but we'll see how I'm feeling that night. I haven't heard too much Of Montreal, but it reminds me of poppy, psychedelic stuff like those Elephant 6 bands or even the Shins and Beulah. I haven't heard Tilly And The Wall, but I've read some good reviews and the girls in the band sure are cute. One of the girls tap dances on stage as percussion so that sounds interesting. I'm always game for seeing a nice pair of gams.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Violeta Estrada


No more suffering.

Monday, May 23, 2005

When my mom came home from the hospital I thought I would be able to spend some quality time with her before the inevitable happens. The reality is that there really is no quality in my mom's life anymore. She's there in body, but she's not there in "spirit" and that body's midsection is riddled with cancer. I can't have a conversation with her anymore. When she speaks it is barely intelligible. I understand that this is due mostly to the drugs she is on and communication will become even less as stronger drugs enter the scene to relieve the pain that will no doubt come. Sadly at this point, my relationship with my mom is one that is based solely on making her as comfortable as possible. Thankfully I have a good memory so I can reach back into time to relive better times. When we were told that she had only a few months to live it seemed like much too short of time. Seeing her in the condition she is in daily, now I realize that even a month of life in this condition is an eternity. This may seem callous to some, but I have always believed in quality over quantity. To each their own, but I really don't understand how family members keep other family members on life support when it seems that the only thing being prolonged is suffering. When pets start to suffer it is considered humane to euthanize them. Are humans not entitled to that same kindness? Many religious people start throwing out the phrase, "playing God," when euthanasia is brought up, but isn't maintaining someone's life through machines "playing God" as well? Just some thoughts running through my head. Like I've stated previously, my only concern is that my mom not suffer because that would not be fair and she does not deserve that. I don't know how my dad and me are going to come out of this. Physically I can already see a little bit of a toll taken on my dad and me. Emotionally it has been difficult as well, but the realization that her pain will cease has helped to tender that. A nurse has been coming a few times a week to help us out and I can't even begin to tell you how much of a godsend she has been. It's a cliched phrase, but I don't know what we would do without her. This is a rough experience. If you see my mom, the first thought in your mind would not be that she is dying, but that is exactly what is happening and it slowly wipes you out when you confront it daily. I wonder if it is any easier to handle when someone suddenly and unexpectedly dies? No, it is all horrible. I really don't mean for this post to be depressing. It's just what I'm going through and some of the things running through my mind. With a few exceptions here and there throughout the day I'm doing pretty well.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

We go from mystery to cold, hard time. My mom has cancer and it is terminal. I'll spare the details, but we've been told she has a month to six months to live. I'm bracing myself for brevity while at the same time hoping that she'll outlive me. I found out yesterday and I'm slowly coping with the news better. Still, if I lose it while talking to you you'll have to excuse me for that because the reality of the situation tends to hit me suddenly and unexpectedly and I can't really control it completely. Thanks for all the kind thoughts. I'll be around. I'll still be going to the occasional concert because music has always helped me through hard times and I'm sure that will still be the case now. My mom should be coming home from the hospital on Tuesday and a nurse is going to be provided to help her out. Right now she doesn't know the diagnosis and my dad doesn't want to tell her. I'll leave that decision to him although I'm sure she'll start to realize on her own what is going on. We just don't want her to suffer at all. She said she wants to listen to some bossa nova so we'll be blasting that over the stereo when she comes home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I might be done with this blog thing or I might not be. I'm really not sure right now and I don't know if I should even be writing what I'm about to write here. I started this blog to write about two things that I really love, music and movies, hoping to maybe meet some new people who also shared those loves. I guess I've failed miserably in that endeavor, but I still enjoyed the simple experience of writing some of my thoughts down. I've written about THINGS that I love, but now I want to write about SOMEONE I love. In movies and books mystery can be really exciting and intriguing. In real life it sometimes just eats away at you from the inside. My mom has been in the hospital since last night and I still have to wait a couple more days to find out what is wrong with her. At this point I've heard everything from an inflamed gall bladder to tumors on the liver. Of course when you hear the word tumor you immediately think of cancer. I hope that is not the case, but it is a possibility that I have to confront. It's that mystery that is a bit unnerving right now. It's that mystery that makes your mind race out of control. Needless to say my world has changed rapidly in the last twenty-four hours. I guess I'm just writing to relieve some "pressure" from my mind. I shall see what happens as that mystery is slowly exposed and hopefully that "light" will bring calm and a smile to my face.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I'm waiting for a red line train. Enclosed by concrete walls and even though there are numerous people surrounding me I feel completely alone in the world. As I continue waiting for the train and feeling that despondency suddenly there is a build up of wind as the train approaches the station. The breeze gets stronger as a hint of light from the train's headlight becomes noticeable in the previously dark tunnel. The train is now completely visible as it enters the station and the wind is strong enough to make peoples' hair and clothes flap around. For a second I forget where I am and who I am and I feel a little bit of happiness. It is a cleansing of sorts. I'm transported to the possiblity of sitting on a beautiful beach while a breeze pleasantly flows around me. It is a brief feeling of rejuvenation.

The picture above is not the Ahmanson Theater, but it is practically across the street from it. It's the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and I love its fluid lines. I went to the Ahmanson to see PLAY WITHOUT WORDS. I guess you could call it a musical although there are no vocals or dialogue. It is only dance and music. It is set in early sixties London and it is about relationships and the duplicity and power struggles within them. To be honest the plot is hard to extract from what you see, but what there is to see makes you not care about the plot so much. The clothes are cool, the jazzy score is cool, the set design is cool. The most interesting thing to me was the dance and blocking. What was also interesting was that a certain role would be played by three different actors and sometimes they would be all on stage at the same time. If three characters were interacting there was a chance that nine people would all be on stage and it was fascinating to watch the choreography make that work. I must say that it was really interesting to see sexual tension and seduction expressed through dance. Nothing says erotic like comely dancers with nice legs prowling across the stage. This was my first experience at a big theatrical event and I did not come away disappointed.

Tuesday I am probably going to the Ponys, Nathaniel Mayer, and the Willowz at the Echo. Nathaniel Mayer is an old R&B singer in the vein of Andre Williams so he should be interesting, although I have read that his voice is pretty shot. Saturday will be the Wedding Present once again this time at the Roxy.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

When the Undertones announced that they would be playing two shows in the L.A. area I have to admit that I wasn't very interested. I knew Feargal Sharkey (original lead singer) wasn't involved so I didn't see much use in going. On the other hand, the O'Neill brothers were still involved so seeing how much enjoyment I've gotten from the bands they've been in (Undertones and That Petrol Emotion) I decided to go anyway. As per usual, last night as the show time approached I was kind of over it. I didn't have much enthusiasm about the show and I arrived at the Galaxy Theater at about 10:00 hoping to miss most of the opening bands. I met up with Tita there and she had gone Friday night and said it was great so I started to be a little more optimistic about the evening. Finally the Undertones came on and they opened with "Jimmy Jimmy" and they just sounded great. I simply forgot that Feargal wasn't singing and I just had a blast. God! I had forgotten how much I love these songs. "Teenage Kicks," "Get Over You," "Here Comes The Summer," "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)." I was smiling and singing along to everything. There were a bunch of kids up front singing along to a lot of songs and it was nice seeing a whole new generation appreciating the Undertones. I think everyone came away smiling from that gig. It was a bit of a strange night. The girls from Voice of the Beehive were there. A pen pal that my friends Tita and Nancy had when they were seventeen was there and it turns out he had moved from Ohio to L.A. about two years ago. Needless to say the girls were a bit shocked to see him there. Tita wanted to say hello to the O'Neills so we stood outside the backstage area waiting for them to come out. I haven't done anything like that in ages, but it was fun. Tita recounted a story that when they were eighteen she and Nancy drove up to Santa Clara to see That Petrol Emotion after they had seen them at the Roxy and the Coach House. Tita's mom had forbidden her to go, but she left a note explaining that she just had to go and she went anyway. Tita and Nancy are talking to the band up in Santa Clara when someone walks in and asks if there is someone named Tita there. Tita says yes and is then told that her mom is on the phone! Thankfully her mom wasn't angry, but she didn't want the girls driving all the way back that night and they should find a motel and spend the night. It turns out that one of the O'Neills let them stay at his hotel room that night after hearing about Tita's mom's concern. Last night he was a little vague about the details, but he did seem to remember the incident a little bit. It was nice seeing those guys still playing music after all this time. Do yourself a favor and buy the first couple of Undertones albums or a singles compilation because even though they began in Derry, Northern Ireland during extreme violence they played some of the greatest, most joyous and innocent pop-punk ever. I didn't get home until 3:30, which is very not the norm for me lately, but it was a very fun evening.

Friday I'm going to get my Neil Young and Crazy Horse fix satisfied by Magnolia Electric Company at the Echo and Saturday I might check out Outrageous Cherry at Spaceland.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

There are basically a few emotions or ideas that the arts dwell on over and over. Love, hate, pain, happiness, sex, solitude. You would think that these subjects would eventually be bled dry; nothing new or worthwhile could ever be discussed in relation to them ever again. Yet, I know 50 years from now something will be written or sung that will have people salivating in analysis at the exquisiteness of what they have just read or heard. Of course banality is ever present and it certainly makes one tire of these subjects at times, but quality often appears out of the blue to introduce these subjects in your mind once again. I read a quote at the site, Achtung Baby!, that is attributed to the author Francoise Sagan. I don't know the year of the quote or if it is taken from a novel or from an interview, but I know that I love the sheer simplicity of it and the truth at its core. "A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to want to take it off you." A nice bit of eroticism at play there. No need for flowery language to convey your meaning, just simple and to the point. I know it is not a very p.c. statement. Some could say it once again puts women solely in the role of a sex object and that women do not dress themselves simply for the benefit of men, but excuse me for being able to appreciate women as intelligent, complex human beings while at the same time thinking about them lying naked in a bed. Anyway, it's just a simple sentence that conveys an impression in what I feel to be an artistic way, which just comes out crudely and obvious in the hands of others. It is amazing to me the whole concept of a muse. As an artist you meet someone who truly sparks something inside you and you are able to describe that spark in the form of words, music, or images. It certainly is not an easy task and I find it a very commendable quality. I wish I could express the thoughts running through my brain.

Thursday night I went to see the Wedding Present at the Troubadour. I ended up being very pleased by the show, so much that I will probably go see them again in May. David Gedge is the only member left from the original line-up, but he's the main guy so that's ok. I hadn't seen them play since the time of the Sea Monsters album and it was nice to reaquaint myself with their songs. Everything sounded great, even the stuff off the new album which I haven't heard yet. I did kind of miss that frantic guitar strumming from the past though. It was nice to hear some old stuff like "Once More," "My Favourite Dress," "Dalliance," and "Kennedy." It was also nice to hang out with my friends Tita and Nancy who helped me cultivate my love for the Wedding Present way back in the day.

Friday night I went to see Dead Meadow at Spaceland. Matt Hollywood's (formerly of Brian Jonestown Massacre) band the Out Crowd played as well and I really liked them. Not much of an original sound, but it's a good one. A lot of current bands owe a lot to the Telescopes. Jennifer Gentile were up next and they didn't do too much for me. I commend them for being all over the place musically, but it just didn't do anything for me until the last song which was a fuzzed out guitar work out. What can I say about Dead Meadow? Once again not much of an original sound, but goddamn can they come up with some riffs. Loud, heavy, repetitious riffs equals heaven for me. I was just grooving along the whole time. Soooo much better live than on record. I probably should have gone to see them again last night, but my ears were still suffering from Friday. Good times.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Tita suggested I checkout a guy named Dave Gleason playing at the Doll Hut in Anaheim yesterday, so being that the show started at 5:30 and it was quite near my house I was there. I met up with Tita, Cari, and Irene there and it turned out to be a real good time. I watched Dave Gleason do a solo acoustic set and then he joined Dave Insley's full band for some rocking good country music. I'm a sucker for great guitar playing, especially pedal steel. Three pitchers later and I was home by 9:30. I love enjoying my evening and not having to suffer the next day because of lack of sleep or a hangover.

Not much going on this week; I'll probably catch up on some dvd viewing, although this may be broken up by tonight's NCAA championship game and the start of baseball season tomorrow. Friday and/or Sunday I may go see the Hacienda Brothers (Dave Gonzales of the Paladins and Chris Gaffney). I saw them a year or two ago when they had a residency going at the Doll Hut and they play some really good country music. My other show option is to see Deerhoof either Friday or Saturday at the Echo.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I wake up today and pretty soon after I turn on the TV. I see a listing for something called YOU SEE ME LAUGHIN'. Why does that name sound familiar? Ah, it's the documentary I wanted to see last year about Fat Possum records. It was playing at the Arclight during their run of music documentaries, but unfortunately it was only playing in the early afternoon on a weekday so I was unable to go and see it. I watched a little bit of it and it looks pretty interesting. This is the type of blues I like. I don't really like B.B. King or Buddy Guy or those type of guys. I hate that "white boy blues " sound as well. Don't care about Eric Clapton or Kenny Wayne Shepard, et al. I love the repetitious and hypnotic quality of many of the artists on Fat Possum like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. I taped this so I'll have to give it a good look soon.

I went to see SIN CITY today as well. I'd never read the graphic novel it is based on, so I went into the screening completely cold. The trailer looked very interesting just based on the look of the film. I want to interject something here first, though. Am I wrong in thinking of ONE FROM THE HEART in relation to SIN CITY? ONE FROM THE HEART is considered to be a bad movie, but it is one of my favorites. I'll agree that it is not a great film, but there is so much going on visually (which should be a priority in filmmaking, n'est ce pas?) that it over rides the mundane storyline. I was wondering if SIN CITY would be the same type of thing and to a certain extent it is. Based on the trailer I was expecting some kind of film noir type of storyline and basically that is what I got. The storyline in the film is bare bones pulp noir to the point of cliche. I would say it is more of an homage to that type of literature and film. Here is where I feel I can compare ONE FROM THE HEART to SIN CITY. The plots take a back seat to the way these relatively common type of stories are depicted visually. Both of these films are eye candy, but I don't mean that negatively. There is true imagination at work here. I remember the first time I saw ONE FROM THE HEART in a film class at Santa Barbara and how in awe I was of what I was seeing. SIN CITY almost gave me that same feeling although today's technology doesn't usually make me all that impressed. Digital effects just don't do it as much for me as do in camera effects. Still, the look of SIN CITY is quite impressive. I've read that they basically took the panels from the graphic novel directly to the screen. At this point I would love to see how those two compare and I imagine that this could be a very interesting feature on a future dvd. What I really wasn't expecting from the film was its visciousness and what I believe to be a certain subversiveness. This is a pretty nasty film and given the world we live in today I'm surprised it was given an R rating. I suppose the violence is somewhat subdued because of the comic book graphics look of the film, but it is still pretty extreme. I have a feeling quite a few people are going to be unpleasantly surprised by the film when they see it. The film actually is quite an affront to "bourgeois values" and I see that as a positive. The worst villians are those in power, especially those in government and religion. I kind of get a kick seeing a movie that is definitely meant to be a box-office blockbuster show the pillars of society in a bad light. I definitely enjoyed this one and it has much potential, in terms of presentation and extras, when it comes out on dvd.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Quick impressions:

Joy Zipper- arrived at Spaceland and it's free to get in. Sat at the bar and ordered a beer as the first band went on. The girl singer is wearing a leopard print bikini as the band plays some new-wavy rock. I'm out and I enjoy another beer while watching the end of the Clipper basketball game which someone had luckily left on the tv behind the bar. Joy Zipper were on next and though I wasn't blown away by them I did like them quite a bit. Every review I had read described them with a sound that was right up my alley. Unfortunately their records were expensive imports so I never really had a chance to actually hear them for a few years. They have a nice sound. I like the blending of the guy and girl vocals. Musically it is a sound that is perfect for summer(Beach Boys-ish) while occasionally being a little more dark and aggresive(Velvet Underground-ish). I also liked the fact that the guy played his guitar like Bill Wyman played bass. I will definitely make an effort to see them again if they come back through town. It would be interesting to see them with a full band because this time it was only a guy and girl with keyboards, guitar, and an I-Pod. Who knows, maybe this is how they play live all the time? Exit the club and I'm home by 11:30. Perfect.

Due to a bit of a family emergency on Friday I was unable to make the Stars show at the Troubadour. I was bummed out a little bit because I was actually looking forward to this show quite a bit. How often do I get to go to a show where I want to see all the bands who are playing? The L.A. Times reviewed the Thursday night show and the reviewer had to throw in a reference to the Arcade Fire. First of all I don't think any of the bands share any sonic comparisons to the Arcade Fire, so is the only link that all the bands are from Canada? I don't know why this bugs me, but it does. Just review the god-damn show that you watched and don't mention the hot band everyone likes just because they share the same geographical area.

This week is a toss up. I may see some shows, I may not see some shows. Monday is Ed Harcourt and Martha Wainwright at Hotel Cafe and Wednesday is Midnight Movies at Spaceland.

I watched the American version of THE OFFICE on Thursday. I had read some really bad reviews about it prior to watching, but I have to say that I thought it was fine. I can't help but think about the original while watching the new version, but the new version wasn't bad at all. I wonder if the reviews would be different if people didn't already have the English version to reference. I laughed a few times and that is something I didn't think I would do based on all the bad reviews I had read. The original is magic, but the American version seems to have some potential so I will still give it a chance.

I haven't gone to the movies since January, but I think that will change this upcoming weekend. I'm not a comic book buff, but the film version of SIN CITY has really gotten my attention. The visuals look amazing and hopefully the whole film can live up to that.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Friday night I watched ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND again. Such a good movie and that is really all I have to say about that. People can drive you crazy, but all the hassle is sometimes worth it because they give such joy as well.

I saw a show on MTV2 called Wonder Showzen and I love it. It takes the form of a kid's show like Sesame Street, but this show shouldn't be watched by kids. It is so wrong which makes it right up my alley. I have to believe that someone will complain about it and it will be taken off the air so I'm going to savor every sweet moment while it is on.

Have I mentioned how much I love the sandwiches at 7-11? Believe it or not they're really good. Turkey on jalapeno bread. Count me in.

Tomorrow begins a stretch where I have a chance to see a few concerts just about every week. Monday is Joy Zipper at Spaceland and it is free which is a big incentive in getting me to go. I've heard a few songs and my take on them would be Beach Boys/Phil Spector/Velvet Underground/Girl Groups kind of sound. Wednesday is Ambulance LTD and Autolux at the Glass House in Pomona. Finally Friday I will probably go see Stars at the Troubadour. I heard a song by one of the opening bands called Apostle of Hustle that I liked so that is a little more reason to go. Of course my attendance is just theoretical because it all depends on how lazy I actually am on the evenings of these shows.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I left the house this evening once again with the unfortunate sensation of not really being too excited about what I was doing. In this case it was going to see Slint at the Avalon. I really like seeing live music, but lately I'm just as apt to want to stay home and do nothing. I had planned on going down to Hollywood early and swinging by Amoeba and the Cat and Fiddle, but I ended up eating at home and leaving late. I arrived in Hollywood at about 8:15. I found some free parking, walked a few blocks to the Frolic Room, had a beer, and walked into the Avalon as Pinback was about to begin the last song of their set. Ah, perfect.

I don't know why I ever bought anything by Slint in the first place. I must have bought Spiderland sometime in 1991 and the following year I found their first album, Tweez, at Bleecker Bob's record store on Melrose. That first album which came out in 1989 is reminiscent of stuff like Big Black, Bastro, and some other bands on the Homestead label. The second album is pretty different and is probably one of the first signs of the whole "post-rock" stuff like Tortoise that was yet to come. Spiderland is a sparse album. It is mostly quiet and slow with whispered vocals, but that is broken up occasionally by flashes of jagged, fuzzing guitars and almost hardcore vocals.

I forgot to mention that the Avalon is the re-modeled Art-Deco theater the Palace. They did a nice job and I hope to see more shows here in the future. It's nice because there are a lot of good places to get a good look at the band even when you are in the balcony area. Slint came out in complete darkness and quiet. People were cheering, but the silence was quite striking. This was especially evident between songs because the band hardly spoke at all. I kind of liked that uncomfortableness. First off, the sound was great at the Avalon. It was perfect for the band which went from the aforementioned relative silence to really loud and distorted. They played songs from both albums and some of those songs off Tweez rocked my ass off. It sounded so good and I realize now that on Tweez Slint were mining some of the same territory as Helmet in terms of a mix of hardcore and metal. Wow! That was some powerful stuff. The songs from Spiderland sounded really good as well. I just love the movement from a hushed sound to that of pounding drums and screeching, fuzzy guitars. I haven't seen a band this tight in quite some time. They ended their set with my favorite song off Spiderland called "Good Morning, Captain." This song perfectly describes that quiet to loud aesthetic. I just love the way the song ends with the singer basically screaming, "I miss you" while the band is going off at full speed and volume. In contrast to how I began the evening, I left the concert very pleased and I hope they end up playing some more shows in L.A. sometime.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

This is my car. It's a 1963 Chevy Impala. You might go so far as to say it is my dream car, although nowadays I'd prefer to have the '59 or '60 model. I'm not a gearhead. My interest in cars is based purely on aesthetic reasons. I like the way they look. I like the flow of the lines of the body. Does that make me shallow?

I've realized that in the past two months I've basically kept to myself. With an exception or two I haven't called anyone to go and hangout. For some reason I just feel like doing exactly what I want to do with no compromise. That has amounted to not doing much of anything at all actually. Honestly, I doubt that my presence is missed by anyone. It's not even spring yet and the weather is already starting to feel a little bit like summer here in L.A. Back East people are freezing. Go figure. As the weather changes I suppose so will my temperament. I'm a bit icy right now, but I'm sure that I'm bound to thaw out at some point.

Everything I've written so far probably makes no sense to anyone. First cars then the weather and metaphors. What the... I haven't driven my car in awhile probably because it is a gas guzzler and the price of gas right now seems to rise everyday. With all this nice weather approaching I'm thinking that I'll have to bite the bullet and fill her up sometime in the near future. It's starting to be time to give her a good wash and turn that ignition key. I've never really taken advantage of living in Southern California. If you saw my pale white skin you'd know that I don't frequent the fine beaches that are scattered all around here, but that is going to have to change a little bit. I yearn to drive my Impala up PCH with Zuma Beach as my destination while listening to Neil Young's album Zuma. I know it is a little obvious, but hearing "Cortez the Killer" blasting out of the speakers would be mighty nice. I'd like to get there early and set a chair down in the sand and just read a book for awhile and just enjoy what I see before me. Would anyone care to join me?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Things sneak up on me and sometimes I like it. Friday morning at about 9:00 I switched my radio to 103.1 and I heard a familiar sound which turned out to be the Zombies doing "Care of Cell 44." I love this song and it's the kind of thing you never expect to hear on the radio so it really made my day. Thursday I turned the radio to KCRW for a second and I heard a song that I was really digging. Thankfully I was able to hear the DJ say who it was and it turned out to be Stars doing "Ageless Beauty." I'm a sucker for sweet female vocals so I was hooked as soon as I heard it. I've read quite a bit about the band, especially on the Chromewaves site, but I had never actually heard them until the other day. What's cool for me is that they are playing March 25th at the Troubadour so I think I will make it out there to check them out live. The third thing that snuck up on me quickly is that Erase Errata and the Hospitals are playing at the Echo on March 12th which is next weekend. I haven't heard too much by Erase Errata, but I've been wanting to check them out since I heard a good song on a free Mojo CD awhile back. I've seen the Hospitals before and they're pretty good so I think it will be a show worth checking out. Finally, I learned that the Undertones are playing the Galaxy Theater on April 23rd. No Feargal Sharkey so that kind of bums me out, but it will still be nice seeing the O'Neill brothers playing live again.

I haven't done much lately so it's nice that a bunch of shows are starting to approach in March and April. Yesterday I bought a magazine called Uncut and it had an article about Gang of Four and part of it dealt with their recent reformation. Actually a bunch of magazines had articles about them that I saw yesterday and this has really made me question my decision about not going to Coachella this year. I really want to see Gang of Four badly and I don't know if they will play the L.A. area again anytime soon. How can I miss the original line-up of one of my favorite bands? Well... the day they are playing there are probably only a couple of bands that I would really like to see so it is hard to justify paying $80 dollars for that. Also need I say that the traffic and crowds will no doubt be horrible. Why couldn't they be playing on Saturday when there are a lot more bands playing that I would like to see. Ah, decisions, decisions.

I received the new Dead Meadow album in the mail yesterday and it is pretty good, but I still believe that their records pale in comparison to their live shows. An example of this is the song "Let's Jump In." This song is the first song off their new record and they were opening with it on their live shows the last time I saw them. Live it was immediately one of my favorite songs that they played whereas the recorded version took me awhile to even recognize that it was the song that I loved so much. Anyway, I really look forward to seeing them live again in April.

Last night I watched a documentary called SPELLBOUND. The film focuses on a few kids as they compete in the 1999 Spelling Bee championship in Washington D.C. This may sound boring, but it was anything but. The film is really able to incite your interest in these kids and it builds quite a bit of tension as to how they will do in the competition. You get to learn a fair deal about these kids and their families and they seem to be pretty well adjusted even though some of the parents seem to push the kids a little too much. There is one kid named Harry who is so annoyingly talkative that it started making my skin crawl. Now I'd like to contrast these kids with some of the kids I've seen on an MTV show called MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEEN. I'd hang out with Harry for weeks on end before I spent any time with the kids from this show. The show is about people throwing birthday parties for these kids' sixteenth birthday. Most of these kids are really wealthy and most of them are insufferably spoiled. It is incredible how many of these kids are used to getting their way and they are really petty and they want to shove their wealth down the throat of anyone, especially anyone who has slighted them in any way. It is incredible to watch a girl cry and pout because she did not receive a Land Rover on the day of her birthday because she disobeyed her parents recently. Oh yeah, she ends up getting it anyway a few days later. Such horrible, arrogant people. Only one girl comes off as normal and she seems to be the only person that has been profiled so far that seems to be middle class. Does wealth lead to incredibly annoying kids? It seems that way based on this show, but of course not everyone deals with wealth the same way. I just wonder how these kids were raised. I suppose the parents are mainly to blame here. Don't you ever say no to your kids? Do you not teach them the value of money or the virtue of humility? I don't even know why I watch this stuff sometimes. I only end up getting pissed off. That's partly why it was so nice to see SPELLBOUND to offset the bad taste in my mouth from MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEEN.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Tomorrow night I'm going to see Paul Westerberg. I can't say I'm too hyped about it. If I didn't already have the ticket I probably wouldn't go at all, but I shouldn't be so negative. Who knows, maybe I'll actually enjoy it.

In contrast, here are some shows I'm curious about or that I look forward to that have just come to my attention:

Antony and the Johnsons at Amoeba.

Cass McCombs March 8th at Spaceland.

Oneida and Black Mountain March 19th at Spaceland.

Midnight Movies March 30th at Spaceland.

Deerhoof April 8th and 9th at the Echo.

Dead Meadow April 15th and 16th.

Magnolia Electric Co. April 22nd at the Echo.

Two things that get a lot of press and I'm profoundly unimpressed by are the Arcade Fire and Bright Eyes. Maybe I'm getting old, but I just don't see what all the hoopla is about. Maybe the reason I don't care is the fact that so many people seem to be forcing it down my throat that this is music of quality and importance. Count me out. Yawn. Someone that has also been getting a lot of press is Joanna Newsom. She sings and accompanies herself on harp and I have yet to hear her album. Last night I taped her appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show and I'm not sure how I feel about her. She definitely has a presence that, at least to me, is quite attractive. In her own way she is very pretty and she looks quite stunning playing that large harp which really sounded great. The problem for me is her voice. The only way I can describe it is as disturbing. It is not a bad voice, but it is definitely a unique voice and right now I just don't like it. I could see it growing on me, but I'm not sure if that is right. I often think that music should be immediately visceral. It should hit you right away and you should be able to say I like it or I don't. I guess things aren't always that simple, though and Joanna Newsom is someone I might have to work on for awhile. She might just one day define the phrase "an acquired taste" for me.

Tuesday I went to pick up the new Dead Meadow album and my nearest record store didn't even have it in stock. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because right now I think their recorded work pales in comparison to their live sound. The albums I've heard are good, but they don't quite cut the mustard for me and I wonder how this new record will stand up. Well tonight I went to another store and they had it, but they were selling it for $16.99. That just seemed too much for me and I passed it up again. I might just have to order this one from Amazon. I like supporting my local stores, but sometimes I just have to save some money as well.

There are also a couple of other things I'm interested in getting right now. There's some kind of special edition of Unrest's Imperial FFRR album out right now and this is a must have for me. It's one of my top ten albums of all time and I really can't explain why it holds so much importance to me. I've already railed against hyperbole in terms of the Arcade Fire and Bright Eyes, but I could hypocritically heave a bunch of hyperbole on Imperial FFRR. It's just a beautiful album and I love it. The only other person I know who also liked it a lot is my friend Kirk. If you knew Kirk you probably would never imagine him liking this album, but he once told me that he and his girlfriend used to listen to it everyday for months when it first came out. I can totally relate to this because I probably did the same exact thing. The other thing I want to get is a collection of Scritti Politti's early work. I was never a huge fan of them, but I really do find them intriguing. I don't know if I so much like their sound as I do the ideas around them. The song "The Sweetest Girl" is probably the best way ( or 'perfect way," ha ha) to try to describe what I mean. The music is basically a pop reggae rhythm, but the lyrics are what really stand out. I've always loved the use of language and how meanings can be changed and simplified or even made more complex. When you read that song title I have to think that you immediately think of a love song and it is that, but it is so much more:

The sweetest girl in all the world
These eyes are for you only
The sweetest girl in all the world
These eyes are for you only
The sweetest girl in all the world
These words that die before me
The sweetest girl in all the world
These words that die before me

When we walk in the park
I never can tell
When when we walk in the dark
I never can tell
It's just loving it
Ooh loving it

The sweetest boy in all the world
His life has got so lonely
The sweetest boy in all the world
His life has got so lonely
The sickest group in all the world
How could they do this to me
The sickest group in all the world
How could they do this to me

What I want I shall take what you think that you know
Oh such an awful mistake to never let go
It's just loving it
Ooh loving it

The weakest link in every chain
I always want to find it
the strongest words in each belief
Find out what's behind it
The politics is prior to
The vagaries of science
She left because she understood
The value of defiance

When the government falls I wish I could tell
When necessity calls I never can tell
It's just loving it
Ooh loving it

The sweetest girl in all the world
These words are for you only
The sweetest girl in all the world
These words that died before me
When we walk in the park
I never can tell
When when we walk in the dark
You know that it can never be told

I just love the verse that begins with "the weakest link in every chain." It just totally changes the song as it literally exposes the "bigger picture." It is not just a boy and a girl, but the "political" world and their place in it and the way they convey and receive meaning in that world. All this in a little pop ditty. I love a good, dumb rock song as much as the next person, but it is nice to be challenged sometimes by "art" especially in a form so "insignificant" as a pop song.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Friday night I went to the Knitting Factory to see Sweet and Tender Hooligans perform the Smiths' Meat is Murder upon the 20th anniversary of its release. I'm sure my 16 year old self was there to buy it on that long ago day either at Best Records or at Middle Earth Records. It's kind of sad, but that's how I used to spend most of my later high school years. While other kids were out partying or whatever I was spending my weekend evenings hanging out at record stores. Needless to say I wasn't a big hit with the ladies either so I'm sure that is partly the reason why I came to love the Smiths and why Meat is Murder is still my favorite album by them. The lyrics really spoke to me and it reminds me of the person I once was. I was basically a popular nerd who was always getting crushes on girls who were out of my league and being that they had no interest in me I could make myself feel better listening to a lyric like, "On the day that your mentality decides to catch up with your biology. Come 'round." Such a good lyric and so true during those teenage years. To a boy who was rarely wanted the song "Well I Wonder" was gold. "Well I wonder. Do you see me when we pass? I half-die. Please keep me in mind. Please keep me in mind." It sounded so good to hear these lyrics and the equally beautiful music Friday night even if it was only a cover band and I amazed myself that I could still remember most of the lyrics 20 years later. I had a good time and I just wish they would have played a little less Morrissey solo stuff afterwards.

Last night I went to the Echo to see a few bands. First up were a band whose name I have no idea what it was, but their sound often reminded me of Looney Tunes cartoon music as played by John Zorn's Naked City. The next band were called Earthless and I wondered if that was a bit of a joke in reference to the band Earth which many of these really heavy bands get compared to nowadays. Basically they were a jam band which I usually hate, but I did like these guys. I think they only played one "song" because they came out and started playing and they didn't stop until they walked off the stage. Think of the breaks and guitar solos in a Stooges or MC5 song and that is sort of what these guys sounded like except the whole song was only those parts. I was impressed that the drummer went at least 40 minutes playing non-stop. If those were my arms they would have fallen off. The next band was Om and they also played two really long songs. They consist of a bass player/vocalist and a drummer and you can imagine they were really heavy. You would think that a duo like this could be boring, but that wasn't the case. I'm really interested in seeing another band that is only bass and drums called Lightning Bolt, although they don't necessarilly share the same sound. I really liked hearing the low end throb of Om. I forgot to mention that I started to get sick yesterday evening and by the time Comets on Fire came on I was a bit of a mess. I liked them more the last time they played, but I stuck around for most of their set until I just felt too crappy. At least I got to see some interesting bands I had never heard before.

I got home and went to sleep or I should say that I tried to go to sleep. I kept coughing and my body was aching and I just kept twisting around in my bed. When I would fall asleep I was having really weird dreams where everything that could go wrong would go wrong. By the time I woke up this morning all I felt was depression. Not a good night's sleep.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Why did I even start this blog? I suppose one reason was just to practice my writing skills. I like to write and what better way to practice than writing about two things I love, music and movies. Some may say that if it was my intent to practice writing so as to improve upon it then I have failed. My writing is just ok, but I chug along nonetheless. It certainly has not attracted many visitors and that was my other wish when beginning this blog. I hoped that I would meet some new people who might like some of the same things I do, but once again I suppose I have failed. Still all is not lost because Ashley from Capitol Records stumbled upon this site and she offered to send me the new LCD Soundsystem record weeks before it is released. Freebies? Sure, sign me up! My knowledge of this band is limited to references to the DFA production team and a couple of Rapture songs. I would never have picked up this record, but I have to admit that it is growing on me. How can I describe it? Minimalist dance music informed by punk rock, indie rock, and DJ culture. Actually this record would probably best be heard really loud in a club. I imagine these beats would best be served by a great sound system pounding them into your body and into your ears. Lyrics are of secondary concern, though I did enjoy the sense of humor apparent in some of the tracks like "Losing My Edge." I also noticed an unexpected nod to Haircut 100's song "Favourite Shirts(Boy Meets Girl)" in the song "On Repeat." In a way it reminds me of stuff on the Mute or Some Bizarre labels in the early eighties. It's not something I see myself tossing on very often, but it will probably make an appearance at some future party I may have.

I've already mentioned that I just began to delve into the world of bit torrents and I've already downloaded some nice shows. The Smiths show I have just re-confirmed for me what a great guitar player Johnny Marr is. He truly is one of my favorites. I've been listening to quite a bit of Echo and the Bunnymen lately and I'm really digging Will Sergeant's guitar work as well. I just love that stacatto strumming thing he does especially on a song like "No Dark Things." Another guitar player who also works in that stacatto rhythm is Andy Gill of Gang of Four. This band is one reason I'm actually considering going to Coachella even though I said I would never go again. Someone once stated that Eric Clapton is God, well consider me an athiest. Back to bit torrents, I just downloaded a Flying Burrito Brothers show and it is just incredible. It's taken from a San Francisco show that was broadcast over the radio in 1969 and it sounds great. Back to guitars for a moment, I just love the sound of pedal steel and the playing on this show is just exceptional. I look forward to finding more audio treats.

Now for my severe left turn in terms of subject matter. You know what's really sexy? When women wear a closed toe pump there are usually a few lines created by the toes that appear right where the shoe ends and the skin appears. I find that profoundly beautiful for some reason and no I am not a foot fetishist.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Haven't gone to too many shows lately and I don't see that really changing anytime soon. I'm thinking this year that I should see more bands that I've never seen before rather than bands that I've seen many times already. We'll see how that works out. Here's what my future looks like and hopefully other stuff will pop up to fill the gaps between these listings.

Oddly enough I've never seen Luna and now they are breaking up and their last show in L.A. is Friday at the El Rey. I loved Galaxie 500 so I don't really know why I never bothered to check out Luna or Damon and Naomi for that matter. Midnight Movies are opening so I'm kind of interested in going, but tickets are $25 which seems kind of steep. They are playing in San Diego at the Casbah on Thursday which is a much smaller club and I'm sure the ticket is cheaper as well. The only drawback is driving two hours down there and having to work the next day. What shall I do? I might skip this entirely and hop on the metro and check out a bar I've been curious about in downtown L.A. Maybe grab some dinner and then walk on down to this bar just to do something different.

February 11th is Sweet and Tender Hooligans at the Knitting Factory and I'm really looking forward to this. By the name of the band you've probably guessed that this is a Smiths/Morrissey cover band and for this show they are playing the album Meat is Murder in its entirety. That's my favorite Smiths' album so I'm sure I'll have a great time. My friend Tita is going to be there as well as some other girls I used to go to shows with all the time so I'm pretty sure this is going to be a blast.

The following night is Comets on Fire at the Echo. I enjoyed them last time they played there so this time should be good as well.

February 15th is Electric Eel Shock at the Silverlake Lounge. I've never heard them, but I may go check this out.

Things get a bit tricky here. According to the band's website they are playing the Casbah on February 24th while the Casbah website says they are playing March 24th. The band is Ambulance LTD and both shows state that Autolux is opening. I'll probably go at the very least to see Autolux which I've stated enough times that I really like. Ambulance LTD I'm not quite sure about. I do love their song called "Heavy Lifting," but I'm not certain if I like their whole album. They kind of have a shoegazer sound and I bought the album based on hearing the aforementioned song. Upon a first listen I wasn't really blown away and I thought I would trade it back in for some credit at a record shop. I gave it another chance and I found myself liking a majority of the songs so I kept it. I guess it depends on what kind of mood I'm in when I listen to it as to whether I really like it. I've missed each time they've come through town so I will probably try to see them this time. So far I haven't seen an L.A. show listed, but hopefully that wil appear because I would rather not go to San Diego on a Thursday night.

February 26th is Paul Westerberg at the Anaheim House of Blues.

March 13th is Slint at the Avalon. I'm looking forward to this. I don't think they ever played L.A. in the past. I heard in England they are playing all of the Spiderland album so hopefully that will be the case here as well although I'd like to hear stuff from the first album as well.

March 20th is Secret Machines at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana. Autolux is opening so I will probably be there. The same bill is playing the night before in San Diego so maybe I'll go then instead and make a day of it in that town.

April 14th is the Wedding Present at the Troubadour. I haven't seen them in a long time so I'm sure I'll be at this one.

April 30th and May 1st is the Coachella Music Festival. After last year I told myself I would never go again, but.... I still think I won't go again. I just saw the line-up and it's kind of intriguing, but I know I can't deal with all that traffic and people again. I would really like to see Gang of Four though. And Wolf Eyes. And the Cocteau Twins. And Wilco....

I've just gotten into this whole bit torrent business and I guess this is how I've been experiencing live music lately. I went to the record swap meet today and it was nice to see all the live bootlegs sitting at booths and knowing that I don't have to shell out the bucks for some questionable quality releases. More than likely I can find it on the web, even video footage. So far I've downloaded a Rolling Stones show from 1972, a Smiths show from 1985, a Pussy Galore Peel Session from 1990, and a Go Betweens show from 1987. Right now I'm interested in getting shows from L.A. as all of these are except for the Pussy Galore. I've got a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time doing this in the near future.

The following is filed in the unexpected occurrences file in one's life. After the swap meet today I ate at a chain restaurant called Chili's and I heard the Uncle Tupelo song "Acuff-Rose" being played over their sound system. It's nice to be surprised like that. At another chain restaurant called Claim Jumper I once heard the Pernice Brothers being played amongst other unexpected groups. Finally at a bar in Long Beach I like to frequent, I once had the pleasure of responding to the question, "Do you know what this is?" by saying, "Incense and Peppermints by the Strawberry Alarm Clock."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

About a week ago I went to see Pedro Almodovar's new film called BAD EDUCATION and once again I came away very satisfied. I already wrote about the fact that Almodovar truly is a film maker. Too much criticism nowadays seems to focus on the acting or the screenplay and it often neglects to mention the purely visual. Almodovar's films have great scripts and acting, but they also revel in the visual. You might say BAD EDUCATION is a mystery movie. In quite a few ways it brought to mind Patricia Highsmiths' Ripley character whereby one character takes on the persona of another. It is also a film about love and revenge. Almodovar makes these rather commonplace themes interesting by the way he films them. There is a film within the film and memories are also depicted as purely filmic. The audience watches certain scenes as fact when they are actually depictions of a screenplay. What one imagines as a flashback is actually actors portraying the screenwriter's memory. It's actually rather complicated and fascinating as it reveals itself on the screen. I think you have to see the film to understand this, but it is almost like a type of Russian doll where you open up one doll only to find another smaller one inside. I've loved all of his movies and this one begins with the name of his production company "El Deseo," (desire) and ends with the word "pasion" (passion) filling the screen. These words are very important in his work and I think they reached their peak in two movies he made in the eighties, LAW OF DESIRE and MATADOR. His early films can be considered in the vein of John Waters, but with these two films he really came into his own. The outrageousness of John Waters is still there, but there is such a maturity in Almodovar's craft that he honestly leaves Waters in the dust. I want to bring up MATADOR because in the Sunday edition of the L.A. Times it was noted that this film would be re-released in the fall. I've never seen it on the big screen so that day can not come soon enough. I really hope they are putting out a really nice print of it because color is used so well in this film. If you've never seen it, well, then you have to. It is what BASIC INSTINCT wishes it could be. It is about "l'amour fou." It is about unbridled desire and passion and it reeks of sex and death. The opening of the film is amazing on its own. The intercutting of scenes showing a man masturbating to "snuff" films and a woman plunging a long needle into the back of the neck of the man she is having sex with are quite an eye opener. This may sound crude or offensive to some, but this film is nothing of the sort, or maybe it is, but it is so much more than just that. Make sure to pencil this one into your schedule when you see it listed playing at a theater near you.

I guess the eighties really are back. Certainly that post-punk sound is having a revival in much of the music I hear lately. What is really bugging me is the return of full on conspicuous consumption. There are so many tv shows right now that seem to wallow in showing people spending absurd amounts of money. I don't have a problem with people working hard and earning a lot of money, but I do have a problem with people who insist on letting everybody else know how much money they have. I see many cities gentrifying, but it is the gentrification of millionaires. The Sunset Strip in L.A. is abhorent to me nowadays. When I was in my teens and early twenties I could go see bands at the Whisky or Roxy and park on the street with no problem. Nowadays the parking lots charge 10 or 20 dollars and the meters run until three in the morning and you have to put in change every hour so you still end up paying a ridiculous amount to park. Now many areas are simply for the rich and famous and those who want to be around the rich and famous. It's a shame that nice, cool, and simple clubs become rare. What's wrong with cheap drinks, a good jukebox, and no cover charge? I guess in conservative times this seems to be the norm, but hopefully things will change, or not as the last elections showed.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Innocence and despair is what today brings me. I found a used copy of the Langley Schools Music Project today and it is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard. I've heard some of it before and I really don't know why I never bought this earlier. In the mid-seventies a teacher recorded some music students at an elementary school and released some private pressings of them to the students and their families. More than twenty years later those recordings were released on cd to the general public. I've tried to tell some friends about this in the past and as soon as I start I just well up with emotion and tears just start filling my eyes. In the liner notes there is a quote from John Zorn, "This is beauty. This is truth. This is music that touches the heart in a way no other music ever has, or ever could." For whatever reason it really hits me hard everytime I listen to it. Maybe it is because there is no noticeable ego involved or there is no crass commercialism at play. It is just pure. The musicianship and vocals are primitive, but there is something incredibly haunting about it which moves me to no end. On the cd the song "Good Vibrations" is followed by "God Only Knows" and the originals by the Beach Boys already have the power to make me an emotional wreck. The versions by these kids literally had me trembling with tears flowing out of my eyes. If you saw me you would have thought a family member had died. There's no logic to it and I'm sure other people upon listening to this record will feel absolutely nothing, but it just hits me like a ton of bricks. A few years ago VH1 showed a documentary about this and I hope they show it again sometime because I have to have a copy of this. Unfortunately they are usually too busy showing documentaries about how musicians spend all their millions of dollars. The program showed the teacher who started the project and some of the students that had been involved and it reunited them years after they had made those recordings. The students, now adults, telling the teacher what that had meant to them was just emotionally overpowering for me. Music just means so much to me and it truly overwhelms my heart at times. I often feel that it is all I have in life. If you read this do whatever you can to hear this and I hope you have as wonderful of a reaction as I did.

Now it is time for despair. I also found a used copy of the Whitehouse album called Bird Seed. I don't know too much about them, but I believe they are a duo who has been around since the early eighties(?) and they put out some primitive noise with keyboards. The music on this album is like being a child and having a very abusive parent yelling at you. I usually have my doubts about bands that seem to revel in negativity, but I really like this stuff. One of the songs is called "Wriggle Like a Fucking Eel" and it is just an amazing combination of yelling and monotone keyboard squeels. I love pure, unadulterated beauty as noted earlier, but this stuff is just a very different form of beauty for me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

2004 is almost over and I've been reading a lot of "best of" and "top ten" lists lately. I'm not going to do that here because, frankly, I can't even remember exactly what came out this year. I've also been buying a lot more old stuff that I missed out on the first time around rather than newer bands. I'm always interested in seeing what a consensus of people seem to be raving about at certain times and right now it seems to be the Arcade Fire. I need to hear their entire album, but right now I don't see what all the fuss is about. I've heard a couple of songs, but they didn't make me want to run out and buy the record or go see them live. I guess I'm lucky that I'm not interested in seeing them because they already sold out three shows that aren't occurring until next month. I know that I should accept that other people have different tastes than mine, but it always amazes me when so many people are raving about certain bands while other quality bands fall by the wayside. So instead of complaining about the hype surrounding Arcade Fire and others, I'm going to briefly mention some bands that I think have been somewhat neglected. I'm just going to focus on three groups which could all be categorized into the realm of pop music. They are the Go-Betweens, Chamber Strings, and the Pernice Brothers. Why aren't these bands mentioned more often? It's not like they are hard to listen to or are mentioned in the realm of being an acquired taste. People seem to love Belle and Sebastien, so if you like them you really should give the Go-Betweens a chance. They write great literate pop songs. The song "Devil's Eye" is a perfectly concise couple of minutes expressing the care that one person has for another. "Streets of Your Town" is so catchy that it should have been a number one hit, but at the same time it has some dark lyrical undertones. All their albums have been reissued so it would be a perfect time to acquaint oneself with this great band. The Chamber Strings remind me of a mix of Nikki Sudden and the Raspberries for some reason. They have a song called "Dead Man's Poise" which is just a great rock song and rates quite favorably with the best of the Rolling Stones or Faces. I had the pleasure of seeing them twice live and this song I think best describes their live sound. On record they also remind me a bit of some of Todd Rundgren's work. Unfortunately, last I heard, the singer seems to be caught up in the downward spiral of heroin so who knows what the future will bring. Hopefully he can clean up his act because he is too good of a musician to let it all slip away. I've always thought that the perfect concert bill would be the New Pornographers and the Pernice Brothers. I would be like a kid eating just enough candy for the perfect sugar high. I read a review once that stated that Smiths fans need look no further than the Pernice Brothers to find their next fix. I would tend to agree with that assesment. They have melodies to die for and the lyrics can get quite dark. I love the frequent juxtaposition of super catchy music with quite somber lyrics. Like I stated previously, everyone has their own tastes, but it seems a crime to me that these bands aren't being hyped up to the high heavens as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Spiritualized have a song called "Good Dope, Good Fun" and this is what I want to write about today. Actually I should say it is a variation of that which would more appropriately be termed "good drinks, good company." I get down sometimes and then something happens which makes me realize that it is often the most simple and basic things that bring me great pleasure in my life. Sunday and Monday I spent my evening sitting in bars talking to friends and it was really enjoyable. First of all it helps if you are in fine surroundings and that is definitely the case at the Cat and Fiddle in Hollywood. This restaurant is located about two blocks west of Amoeba records and I can think of no better combo than going record shopping then having a few drinks right after. Well, there are a few things better, but this one still ranks pretty high in my book. The Cat and Fiddle is located in a building that looks like it was built in the twenties and it has a courtyard where you can sit and drink and eat. That's what I did on Sunday with Suze and Rick and it was a casual and satisfying way to end the day. Monday, Alexis gave me a call and I ended up meeting her in Long Beach to watch Monday Night Football. Once again good drinks and good conversation. Some people need more flashy attractions, but I'm quite happy just sitting around and chatting with good friends.

Last night I headed over to Spaceland with Suze to see S'Cool Girls and RTX. I had heard good things about S'Cool Girls, but now I have seen them and I don't think I'll make an effort to see them again. I was hoping to see a New York Dolls kind of rock band and instead it was more like Poison. I can see where people would enjoy this in a campy way, but I wanted something a little more substantial. The New York Dolls were also pretty campy and looked like drag queens, but they had great songs and true swagger. S'Cool Girls come off as more of a Vegas style novelty act and I can do without that especially when it reminds me of Poison. Suze had given me somewhat of a hard time last week about my review of the Kills in which part of my argument was that Royal Trux had kind of already done the sexy couple thing already and better. Well, last night Jennifer Herrema was playing without Neil Haggerty in RTX which is what Royal Trux has evolved into. After seeing Jennifer in action I think Suze could see the point I was trying to make. In my eyes she is nowhere near as hot as she used to be, but she is definitely a Rock Star. She is really skinny nowadays and she reminded me, in terms of her face, of a feral Hillary Duff. She just has stage presence and I wish I could remember some names of other performers who you can tell it is all just posturing, whereas with Jennifer it just comes off as completely real and natural. As to the show, I still love her gravelly vocals, but the music was a little too metal-ish for my tastes and that is part of the reason I stopped listening to Royal Trux in the first place after they signed with Virgin. Still, I can't say I was completely disappointed. It was a good show just not what I really wanted to hear from them.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A fingerprint smudge on the side of a skyscraper. I'm stealing this from a movie I just saw called SIDEWAYS. Ah, sweet insignificance. What a great analogy and I've had a few days where I've felt like that. Actually I might be having one now. Anyway, I wish I was an mp3 blog currently so I could post a Beach Boys song called " 'Til I Die" which expresses these sentiments perfectly. I really liked this film and maybe it was because I can identify with the lead character, except I don't get to hook up with Virginia Madsen. I went to school, UC Santa Barbara, which is in the general vicinity of where the movie takes place and oddly enough I majored in film studies there. It is rare that I watch movies analytically any more. Like music, it is usually a purely visceral experience nowadays. It either hits me or it doesn't. This one did hit me. This movie is very plot and character oriented so if you're strongly into that I'm sure you'll enjoy it very much. Things like that aren't actually that important to me. Being that film is a visual medium I sometimes miss directors affecting me purely through my sight, but that seems to be the norm nowadays. I think sometimes people focus too much on acting and the story and their appreciation of a film is based solely on that. I'm not talking about eye candy either because all of today's CGI work I often don't find that interesting either. I'm talking about stuff like the use of widescreen, color, sound, blocking, etc. to convey meaning. There's a movie I love called ONE FROM THE HEART which was critically dismissed because of its acting and plot, but it is overflowing with visual cues. The films of Pedro Almodovar are like that as well especially something like LAW OF DESIRE. I guess what I'm saying is that a film like SIDEWAYS doesn't have all that, but by no means does that ruin the film for me. I guess this was just a tangent I went on reminiscing about some of the stuff I liked in film studies. Having said all that, the acting in SIDEWAYS is great all around and there are laugh out loud moments as well as poignant ones. I never ventured north of Santa Barbara when I went to school and this movie made me regret that decision. It is one of the nicer drives you can have in California and I really feel like travelling through there right now. It would really be nice to stop somewhere and have a picnic and drink some wine. I tell you that the epicurean aspects of the world sure make life worth living. Just thinking about that puts me in a better mood. Needless to say I may have a few drinks this evening.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I don't foresee many updates in the near future. I skipped going to see Neko Case this past weekend and there doesn't seem to be many upcoming shows that I'm interested in. I'm curious as to how Neko Case was, but of course there was no review in the L.A.Times which has a critic, Robert Hilburn, that really irritates me. I should have known to keep my distance when he and another music writer I dislike, Jay Babcock of the L.A. Weekly, were both raving about the Kills. I went to see the Kills last Tuesday at the Troubadour and, in contrast to the aforementioned writers, I thought they were just ok. Once again it just comes down to "I've seen this before." I've heard many references to "sexy" and "sexual tension" about this band, but I just wasn't feeling it. To me they just came off as too obvious. They don't really have a similar sound, but I think Royal Trux was already doing this years ago. The girl from the Kills has nothing on Jennifer Herrema from Royal Trux circa 1992. Now that was sexy! I can truly say I stood in awe when I saw her back then. She had a great hairdo which was just somewhat teased hair with bangs that just barely covered her eyes. She had on a football jersey as well as a big jacket with a football team logo on the back. She had on really tight jeans and cool boots. I guess the way she looked wasn't what was sexy about her, but rather the way she carried herself. When she wasn't singing she just stood at the front of the stage staring into the audience while chewing gum or smoking a cigarette. There was nothing coy about her; she looked totally in control. Every now and then she would put her foot up on a monitor and slip her fingers barely into the top of her pants and just keep taking drags from her cigarette and there was just something so cool about that to me. Who knows, maybe I'm just easy. As to other things I find infinitely more sexy than the Kills... Kim Gordon singing "Halloween." When she does those slow songs she has the sexiest voice ever. I can't help but think of a line from a Beat Happening song which mentions something about "sin dripping down my chin." When I hear that voice I'm like a dog that is getting its belly rubbed furiously and its leg is kicking back and forth like crazy. I'm sure Jay Babcock would cringe, but the interaction between Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez from the video of Boss Hog's "I Dig You" is much more sexy than the Kills' show I saw last week. Enough of that. Needless to say I don't think I'll go see the Kills again, but oddly enough, I wouldn't mind listening to their first album because some of those songs were interesting.

I hope some bands do suddenly pop up that I want to see because otherwise I think I'm going to be feeling pretty down for the month of December. I don't know what it is exactly, but I tend to get kind of depressed around the holiday season. A feeling of profound loneliness threatens to overtake me at times and hopefully I can fight it off this year and remain in good spirits. Maybe I'll just have to drink some fine spirits to fight it off. I have to keep things in perspective, though. My friend Kim was just diagnosed with breast cancer so any "problems" I may have are of really no consequence. Nothing says the holidays like chemotherapy. It's going to take some discomfort and time, but I think she'll be fine and I have to realize that all in all my life is ok. Stay strong sister!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Blues Explosion just don't move me anymore and this statement saddens me quite a bit. Hell, this is the band that I travelled to San Francisco, Seattle, and even Hoboken just to see and now I probably wouldn't bother going to see them again even if the venue was only a block away. There are probably quite a few people who would disagree, but for about 2 or 3 years the Blues Explosion were one of the best live bands, if not the best, playing around. I cannot describe how good they were, but basically everything people cream themselves about nowadays, need I invoke the White Stripes, Hives, etc. again, that was the Blues Explosion 10 years ago, but these same people were too busy fawning over Nirvana or accusing the Blues Explosion of being a "minstrel show" to realize what was passing them by. I love people talking about the absence of a bass player in bands and instantly bringing up the White Stripes. Well the Blues Explosion never had a bass player and neither did other bands Jon Spencer was in like Pussy Galore and the Gibson Bros. As for the "minstrel show" show critique... just get over it. There is no racism involved here. Jon Spencer loves Black music and because he injects a certain irreverence to what he does it doesn't mean disrespect. Has he ripped off Black musicians? Of course, hell, listen to a Rufus Thomas record and you'll hear most of the Blues Explosion shtick right there. Just don't attack Jon Spencer for doing the same stuff that Beck and Jack White have done, but they don't catch any heat because they are critical darlings. The Blues Explosion exposed and championed many musicians that the critics didn't care about, but people seem to forget this. They had R.L. Burnside opening for them as early as 1995 while critics didn't seem to pay much notice of R.L. until that crappy hip hop remix/collaboration album, Come On In, that came out three years later. Any mention of the role the Blues Explosion had in exposing R.L. Burnside to the world? No, instead I have to continuosly hear about Jack White truly tapping into the spirit of the blues. Well, despite the name, the Blues Explosion never claimed to be anything more than a rock band and for awhile they were truly great and I'm simply tired of them being criticized without any mention of their true accomplishments. Garage rock seems to be the buzz word nowadays. 15 to 20 years ago Pussy Galore was capturing the true essence of garage rock, but they won't get any credit for it. 12 years ago the Blues Explosion was blending blues and rockabilly to indie rock in a crazy -ass mix, but they don't get any credit either. I guess I still have some passion for this band and that is why it saddens me to say that I am basically done with them. They're going to have to turn out some really amazing music for them to catch my attention again. The shtick got tired quite a few years ago for me and I really think they need to reinvent themselves. Seeing them live on Tuesday showed me they are still a good live band, but it just wasn't the same for me anymore. This I really can't explain. Maybe it is just the songs. In the past they had some great ones and now there really aren't any that catch my attention. I'm well aware that lyrically the songs were never exceptional, but the music and vibe were amazing and really made you want to move. Oh well, the crowd seemed to enjoy them and I wish them luck in the future because they gave me some great times in the past.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Took the metro to the Wiltern on Friday to see Wilco. It's pretty convenient because there's a station directly across the street. The only thing I worried about was catching a train home once the show was over, but that didn't turn out to be a problem. One of these days I'm going to have to find out the time schedule for these trains before I get stuck in L.A. late at night looking for a ride home. The metro always makes for an interesting experience. There's always interesting people on board. Sometimes you wonder if something bad is going to occur and sometimes you just want to laugh out loud. The first time I saw Wilco wasn't really a Wilco show per se. It was Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennet playing acoustic at McCabe's guitar shop in Santa Monica. They played a lot of Uncle Tupelo songs, the Wilco songs from AM, and covers. It is still my favorite "Wilco" show that I've seen. They sure have progressed from those times. When Uncle Tupelo broke up all I wanted to know was what was Jeff Tweedy's next band going to be. I found out on a Warner Bros. promo cd that it was going to be called Wilco and each album since then hasn't let me down. I like the last two albums, but I think my favorite material comes from Summerteeth and Being There. There is barely a hint of country rock anymore and I'm perfectly fine with that. Live they've turned into a pretty formidable noise band and I'm always up for that. I guess live that is what struck me the most. They really seemed to enjoy pushing their equipment into squeels of feedback and washes of distortion. That was particularly true when they played the song off the new album that sounds like a Krautrock number. The first few minutes were just sweet, beautiful noise. I've liked their shows in the past, but this one was the first in awhile that I was really glad I went to.

Last night I went to Hollywood to see Blonde Redhead and Autolux. As I was getting my ticket at the will call window I saw Giovanni Ribisi standing there with a little girl. I guess he has decent taste in music. I'm too old to be thinking this, but I'm a little envious that he was in such close proximity to Scarlett Johansson in LOST IN TRANSLATION. Speaking of too old, I really felt old at this show. Everyone seemed to be under 25 at the venue. You would think there would be a few more senior citizens in the crowd like myself. There is something to be said for femininity in rock. I don't mean just the fact of women being in bands, but rather the concept of sensuality in music. Fine purveyers of this were My Bloody Valentine and I think some current practitioners are Autolux and Blonde Redhead. Autolux really remind me of Isn't Anything-era MBV. I love the languid, hushed vocals. Some people may find it wimpy, but I've always found that type of vocal delivery to be sexy. The music can be hushed, but often times it is a buzzing, distorted wash of sound. When they first started playing I kept thinking that they seriously needed to turn up the volume, but then suddenly everything kicked in and I was an embryo in their womb of sound. The bass was making the floor shake and the drums were just rocking. I spent most of my time watching the girl drummer play. She really hits hard and puts out a really good sound. She looked kind of cute from where I was standing as well so that didn't hurt. They are from L.A. so I hope to be seeing them much more often.

I am very ill-equipped to speak about Blonde Redhead. I never bothered to hear them because I always heard they were a Sonic Youth rip off. I'm sure that is a too harsh and facile critique, but it kept me away from their work for a long time. I finally heard them on their most recent album and I liked it enough to want to check them out live. They were good, although they didn't knock my socks off. The most interesting aspect for me was watching the girl in the band. She plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and occasionally sings. I really liked seeing her play and her interaction with the the other guy who played guitar and bass and did most of the vocals. When she played she had a really sexy swaying motion going on. It just went really well with the sound of the music. At one point at the end of a song she did a little dance just for a moment in front of the other guy in the band and it just looked so cool. I guess it just captured the essence of seeing someone really enjoying what they are doing. It's funny what catches your eye at a concert sometimes.

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