Sunday, May 31, 2009

June in Advance

What you need to know about in advance this month:
  • Datarock is at the Key Club on Saturday, June 13. And who might be opening? None other than Casxio.
  • Art Brut plays four shows in LA the third week of June. June 16-18 at Spaceland and June 19 at the Echoplex. "I know I shouldn't, is it so wrong, to break from your kiss, to turn up a pop song?"
  • Residencies: Castledoor has the Monday residency at Spaceland, while over at the Echo Oliver Future has their Monday residency. Both are worth checking out.
  • This isn't a residency per se, and it's not free, but Halloween Jack, a glam rock group comprised of Gilby Clarke (former member of Guns 'n Roses), Muck (Buckcherry), Eric Dover (Slash's Snakepit, Jellyfish), and Daniel Shulman (Garbage) play at Spaceland every Saturday night in June. If anything, it should be entertaining. I plan to be at their June 20th show.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Passion Pit, Harlem Shakes @ Troubadour (5/28/2009)

Passion Pit

Expectations exceeded.

I've always been ambivalent about the Troubadour. Wherever I've lived in LA has been within walking distance, so I've never had to drive there, and that's a nice perk. And the venue is set up wide, instead of long, so you can get close. But I think the stage is too low or something to that effect, because it seems like at the Troubadour, more than any other venue I can think of, it's really easy for someone to get in your line of sight, even for someone like me who's over 6 feet tall.

But after this show I'm ready to say that I really like the Troubadour, but probably more for the quality of bands they book to play their small venue more than anything else. Seeing Passion Pit and the Harlem Shakes at the Troubadour was a great experience; definitely one of the best shows I've seen all year. And seeing these bands in such a small venue would never happen in New York, where The Shakes are locals and Passion Pit is just up north, so score one for LA.

The Shakes were scheduled to go on at 9:15, so, thinking that the place would soon be packed and wanting to reserve a good spot for the rest of the night, I showed up at 9. The place was practically empty, which surprised me. It might have also surprised the band as well, because they didn't go on until 9:30, when the place was leaning towards half full.

I've loved The Shakes since I heard the first 30 seconds of "Niagara Falls" on their Myspace page in March; they can't do wrong in my eyes. They're even better live than recorded, and they did not disappoint this night. I thought their set was great, even if the sound was a bit off (there was an echo-y quality to it) and the vocals were a little low, so I took out my earplugs. The first time I saw them at SXSW the vocals were so low that I don't think anyone could hear them; it wasn't nearly as bad this time but I was concerned for a minute or two. I definitely appreciated that they played a track or two off their EP. They covered all the hits, with the exception of "Niagara Falls" and "Sicko." Judging from the applause at the end of their set they earned many new fans.

The Shakes' set would have been enough to make it a great show. But no. Less than half an hour later out come Passion Pit. I wasn't into it for the first minute or two, but once I adjusted I was blown away. So much fun, so much energy, and the crowd was loving it. They almost turned the Troubadour into a dance floor, albeit a dance floor where everyone is facing forward and trying not to get in each others' way. I had thought some of the tracks on Manners, their new album, were a little on the slower and on the more boring side, but live they pulsed with restraint, and made for excellent foils to the more blatantly dance-y songs. And they even made the songs sound as much as they could like they do on the album. When they played "Little Secret," for example, they played the shouting sample from the album, instead of the bandmembers just doing the shouts themselves.

If I had one criticism I'd say they played one song too many; after the first song of the encore my ears began to hurt (partially my fault because I didn't use my earplugs) and my feet started to hurt as well. I can't think of anything else. The band played like they loved it, and despite the small size of the Troubadour they acted as though they were genuinely grateful for us even being there. But after a performance like that, it was us who were grateful to them.

I can't wait to see this tour again tonight at the Echoplex. It will be different, but I know it's still going to be amazing.

Videos and Pictures:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

News & Notes: May 28 (Local Natives, Divisadero, Discovery, and more)

  • Local Natives first ever release: UK Label Chess Club Records is releasing Local Natives' "Sun Hands" on June 7. It's a vinyl release and limited to 500 copies. Cards & Quarters is the B Side. You can pre-order your copy here. The release coincides with Local Natives' first ever trip to the UK.
  • On Tuesday JAXART Records released Divisadero's album "Lefty" in electronic format. So now you can buy it on iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon, and stream it from Rhapsody. A free MP3 from the album can be downloaded here.
  • Pitchfork interview with Discovery. Most disappointing part: "I don't think we're ever going to play any Discovery shows, so there's only so far it can go, really."
  • For you New Yorkers, Kittens Ablaze will be opening for Natalie Portman's Shaved Head on June 20th at Santos.
  • Go West Young Man dropped out of Sunday's show at Dakota Lounge. I'm probably dropping out too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Or The Whale, Olin & The Moon, Leslie & The Badgers @ Silverlake Lounge ( 5/20/2009)

Or, the Whale

It was a folk-rock/alt-country night at Silverlake Lounge this Wednesday, and the show was well worth the trip.

I walked in for the last song and a half from Pilot Speed. They's from Toronto, play a variety of modern rock, and are on Wind-Up Records (none of which I knew before I saw them). I liked what I heard.

Leslie & The Badgers played next, and covered the twangy country spectrum. Leslie is sweet and has a great voice, and the band was in sync. Nashville should be all over this; they would make a good crossover band.

Or, the Whale followed. Before tonight I knew nothing about this band besides their name. They absolutely stole the show. Or, the Whale is from San Francisco and they simply have it together. Great folk/americana. Vocal harmonies (both male and female), a very talented keyboard player, and a lot of energy. They're releasing a new album in September, and hopefully that will coincide with playing some more LA shows. This is a band I will be seeing again.

Here's a video clip:

Olin & the Moon closed out the night. The entire show was very off schedule, so while Olin was supposed to be on at 11 they didn't take the stage until 11:40, and by then Silverlake Lounge was mostly empty. You can probably see where I'm going with this: it wasn't their best set and they knew it.


Or, The Whale

Leslie & The Badgers

Olin & The Moon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Avi Buffalo at the Echo (5/19/2009)

In April I mentioned that when I saw Avi Buffalo in early March at 3 Clubs it didn't seem they enjoyed playing. Sadly I was disappointed with their set this night as well. The songs are pretty good, Avi is definitely talented, and I know they're young and playing to an audience that's older than they are, but the band's stage presence is lacking.

One issue is that Avi doesn't typically take center stage; instead, he stands stage right and the keyboard player, Rebecca Coleman, is placed in the center. She's got a great voice, and is more than capable, but I don't think she smiled once during the set and she was usually looking down at the keyboard or to her right at Avi; practically no eye contact with the audience. Same with the bass player; he stood angled towards Avi most of the time and rarely looked out into the audience. And no fault of their own, but it was so dark on stage that I could barely even see the drummer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

W2G2 (What 2 Go 2): May 25 - 31

It's finally here: the last week of May, which means the Passion Pit / Harlem Shakes shows I've been anticipating for way too long. This week features a lot of excellent non-local talent.

Monday: Last night for May's monthly residencies. I'd recommend going to the Gangi residency at Spaceland, especially if you haven't seen Gangi yet, and especially since Warpaint and Local Natives open.

Wednesday: The Thermals at the Troubadour. I can't imagine this is going to be anything but a load of fun.
  • I considered ditching this show to see Jens Lekman play his excellent (and Swedish) indie-pop at the Echo. I'm not going to do that, but it's reasonable alternative.
Thursday: Night One: Passion Pit and The Harlem Shakes at the Troubadour.
  • For those without tickets, Jens Lekman is playing his second night at the Echo.
Friday: Night Two: Passion Pit and The Shakes the Echoplex.
Saturday: King Khan & The Shrines at the Echo for their second night. This time it's the early show beginning at 7pm.

Sunday: Back to local bands, and here's two fine specimens: Go West Young Man and Le Switch play the Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Amateurs, World Record, and Death to Anders @ Spaceland (5/15/2009)

This was the Amateurs release show for their new EP, If We Dare Win.

I got to see about half of (now CER endorsed) Death to Anders' opening set, and it was a good one. They played like a band with a lot of experience and they sounded great. It was too bad so few people were at Spaceland early enough. I hope to see them again soon. During their set I was racking my brain to figure out who singer/guitarist Rob Danson's vocal stylings reminded me of, especially when he screamed. It was Goldfinger's John Feldmann. Maybe I'm onto something . . .

The World Record, a CER favorite, was up next. Their set this night did not match their impressive set at Spaceland in April closing for The Henry Clay People. It also seemed like the sound was off a bit, and the crowd wasn't as energized as they are after a THCP set. But it's good to see them playing shows and gaining a following.

The Amateurs played a pretty good set. At bottom, any band with a full time trumpet player is all right by me (especially when it's not a ska band). The band opened with "Chain Reaction" and played both old tracks and the other two tracks on the new EP. Fun, but I got tired and left early.

Amateurs pictures:

World Record pictures:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hello Dragon at Silverlake Lounge (5/13/2009)

It was great being back at Silverlake Lounge last week; it had been almost three months since the Local Natives residency. Even better was that the place wasn't packed like it is during residency shows.

Hello Dragon was scheduled to go on at 10 but started more towards 10:40 because Divisible had a really long sound check. I liked their set, although I was a bit bored during some of it. Overall their power-pop/pop-rock sound is pleasant to the ears. They have both a male and female singer, but the female vocals are rarely anything but backup, which is unfortunate. They were offering free CDs at their merch table and I picked up The Quantum Explorers. My favorite tracks off the album are "Birds of Prey" and "Stephen Hawking."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gangi at Spaceland (5/11/2009)

The second of Gangi's May residency at Spaceland. I went to this show expecting good things from Saint Motel and to be mildly fascinated by Gangi. My experience was almost exactly the opposite.

I was unimpressed with Saint Motel. I like their recorded output, but their live show didn't bring anything to the table. After their set I expected to stay for a couple Gangi songs and leave early.

Gangi, though, was a delight to see. They're simply a "cool" band. I really liked how they began most of their songs with various samples and then dove into more traditional indie rock territory, while the samples continued to loop. They played new tracks and old tracks, and I'm looking forward to hearing the new songs and seeing them perform again in the future.

My only regret: that I didn't see Gangi the Monday before, when Head Like a Kite opened.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Discovery: The Next Postal Service?

If not, it's at least gearing up to be the album the album of the summer. Discovery is Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend. Their debut album is scheduled to be released on July 7.

For more information, check out the Pitchfork news item on the band. We should all be excited.


01 Orange Shirt [currently on their myspace]
02 Osaka Loop Line [also on their myspace]
03 Can You Discover? [remix of Ra Ra Riot's "Can You Tell"]
04 I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend [ft. Angel Deradoorian]
05 So Insane
06 Swing Tree
07 Carby [ft. Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend]
08 I Want You Back [auto-tuned Jackson 5 cover]
09 It's Not My Fault (It's My Fault)
10 Slang Tang

Monday, May 18, 2009

W2G2: May 18 - 23

Last week was a bit of a letdown, although I did enjoy Gangi's residency set and my first time seeing Death to Anders.

Monday: Residency Night (but I'll be at the Dodger game)
  • Gangi at Spaceland. They're definitely worth checking out before the month is over. I hope to have a review up of last week's residency show early this week.
Tuesday: Avi Buffalo's residency at the Echo. I still need to get to one of his residency shows. Nico Stai is also playing with Useless Keys at the Troubadour. I have yet to see Nico Stai perform, but I don't think I'll be seeing him on Tuesday.

Wednesday: Folk/Alt-Country night with Olin & The Moon (11pm) and Leslie & The Badgers (9pm) at Silverlake Lounge. The two will be touring together in June. I very much recommend Olin and the Moon's new album, Terrible Town. Or, the Whale is on at 10pm.
Friday: Oh No Oh My, who I didn't get to see at SXSW, is at the Echo for the early show. I'll be in Boston (actually flying into Boston and then immediately renting a car and driving to Newport Beach -- oh joy), so sadly I'm missing this one.

Saturday: The Dears and Great Northern play the Echoplex, but if I was in town I'd try to head over to the All Star Lanes in Eagle Rock/Highland Park for the last show ever at the Eagle Rock Bowling & Drinking Club with The Monolators, who I have never seen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

News & Notes: May 17

  • I finally listened to the Passion Pit EP today. And then I listened to it again. Wow. Their full length comes out on Tuesday and I can't wait to hear it. The MGMT of 2009-2010? I'm also starting to think that I'm more excited to see PP than The Harlem Shakes at their Troubadour and Echoplex shows. Oh, and those shows: I expect them to be among the best shows I see all year. I've added a PP playlist to the right of the blog; you can play the tracks right from there with no popups. I couldn't add a full length version of "Better Things," so here's a Youtube video with it.

  • Princeton is performing at Lincoln Center on June 5 as part of the Virginia Woolf Conference: 2009 Woolf in the City. They'll be performing in conjunction with choreographer Stephen Pelton. Princeton will be playing their entire Bloomsbury EP and a three movement orchestral piece written specifically for this performance. The band is looking for 2 flutes, 1 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello, and 1 Oboe -- sounds very promising. I'll actually be in New York on the 5th, maybe I'll go.
  • New video for the Afternoons' "Saturday Morning (after the funeral)"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Very Off Topic: Graffiti in Century City?!

For many months, the land bridge over Avenue of the Stars in Century City has had the phrase "Just Kiss Her" painted on the middle part of the bridge, looking south.

I walked over to Gelson's at the Century City mall today and directly across from this lovely and encouraging phrase I found this also encouraging, but much blunter, command:

For on topic posts, see the CER Homepage

Friday, May 15, 2009

Iron & Wine at The Troubadour (5/9/2009)

I wouldn't have called myself a fan of Iron & Wine before their show last Saturday, but I'd say I'm a fan now. I don't think I've ever listened to any of his songs by myself. But I did enjoy his set at the Greek Theatre last summer opening for The Swell Season (which was one of the more annoying sets I've ever seen). And Rona is a fan so when I got the Troubadour's weekly email that said Iron & Wine was playing I knew I had to go.

It was nice being at the Troubadour again, especially since it's just a 15 minute walk from my apartment. There's still something about the layout that makes me like Spaceland a lot more, though.

I got inside for the last two songs of the opener, The Yogoman Burning Band. I hadn't seen a ska/reggae/soul band in a while, and I wish I arrived earlier.

Iron & Wine took the stage about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which was definitely a good start. I was very impressed by the crowd -- they were almost completely silent during his set; no people talking at the bar, etc. That definitely improved everyone's experience. I tend to like the one-guy-on-a-stage-with-a-guitar if he's engaging, because you can fix your gaze on one object and focus on the music. And Beam is engaging and has a great sense of humor. He was cracking jokes and pointing out his mistakes as he played. Him plus the quiet crowd created a particularly intimate setting -- significantly intimate that when he sang the line "fuck the man" from "Trapeze Singer" I yelled out "woooo" and he cracked a smile. That was cool.

[begin mini-rant] About 35 minutes into the set, though, my focus and concentration was broken by an unknown tall man who will be referred to as "The Swayer." The Swayer was about 3 people in front of me, and began the show to my left, out of my line of sight. But as Iron & Wine's set continued, he kept moving more and more towards the right, for reasons I don't understand. And he swayed, and swayed noticably. I looked around and didn't see anyone swaying as much as this guy (is there really much to sway to for an acoustic guitar show?). The combination of moving to his right, being over 6 feet tall, and swaying eventually meant that he was in my line of sight, but not consistently enough that I could move myself and solve the problem -- the swaying meant that sometimes I could see, and sometimes I couldn't. And being tall myself I didn't want to annoy the people behind me by dramatically changing my position. I wanted to tell The Swayer to stop but the crowd was so silent that I didn't want to make a scene. [end mini-rant]

Despite The Swayer I really enjoyed Iron & Wine's set. I'm not sure if I'll ever see him again since he typically plays larger venues, but I'd definitely consider it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

News & Notes: May 13

  • The new Wilco album is streaming here.
  • The Passion Pit/Harlem Shakes show at the Troubadour sold out. Hope you got your tickets! If you didn't there are still tickets available for their Echoplex show.
  • Didn't go to Chicago, and I was reminded of the Divisible (11pm) show with Hello Dragon (10pm) at Silverlake Lounge. I'm going to skip the Reggae Meets Africa show (which will probably be a late show) to check this out.
  • I'm enjoying the NBA playoffs more this year than any other (when I used to ignore them), but it continues to disappoint me that the Celtics keep winning.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Local Natives at Spaceland (5/8/2009)

Local Natives are obviously a CER favorite; just look over to the playlist I include on the right side of this blog or see my Featured Band: Local Natives post, the only featured band post I've ever done. Nonetheless, I was worried before the show that with this being my sixth time seeing Local Natives I'd be less impressed simply because I've seen them so many times.

But once they started playing those worries disappeared and I really enjoyed their set. Taylor said afterwards that the vocals were a bit low (he also generally said that they've been disappointed with the sound at their LA shows), but the band plays with so much energy that even if one or two things are off it's always a great set.

Video Clips:

Their cover of Talking Heads' "Warning Sign"

"Sun Hands"


Monday, May 11, 2009

W2G2 (What 2 Go 2): May 11 - 15

Not a bad week last week: intrigued (somewhat) by Edward Sharpe, invigorated by Local Natives, and engrossed (most of the time) by Iron & Wine.

So let's get to it.

Monday: Gangi residency at Spaceland. Gangi should be cool, but I'm mostly going so I can see Saint Motel.

Tuesday: Avi Buffalo residency at The Echo. I didn't make it to this last week, but I heard very good reviews.

Wednesday: I'll be in Chicago for work, which means I'll be very sad to miss the "Reggae Meets Africa" show at the Echoplex and Echo, featuring Fool's Gold. It sounds like a lot of fun:
  • Upstairs in the Echo there will be 2 acts, Fools Gold—local Afrobeat heroes, and Extra Golden, Thrill Jockey recording artists who fuse a unique blend of Kenyan Benga music with American Rock. Downstairs in the Echoplex, the opening act will be Youssoupha Sidibe, a traditionally trained Kora player from Senegal whose music is a hybrid of African and Dub sounds, and the headliner will be Reggae legends The Meditations, one of the premier harmony trio vocal groups in roots music, who are still going strong with all original members. The audience will be able to walk between the 2 rooms all night, the Dub Club DJs will be spinning and it should make for a very memorable evening of music and culture. Description from the Echo's page.
  • For a more traditional (albeit exceptional) local indie rock night, Downtown/Union, Seasons, and The Hectors play at Mr. T's Bowl in Highland Park. Excellent lineup.
Thursday: I'll be landing back at LAX at 9pm, so unless I get in early I'm not going anywhere. But . . .
  • Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros conclude their residency at The Regent. We Are the World opens. We Are the World are unquestionably something to see -- it's a very visual performance (visit their myspace page). But I would advise against seeing them at The Regent, where there appears to be no lighting besides plain white light. It's very possible that We Are the World will make sure that their visual needs are met, but I'm skeptical.
Friday: Amateurs EP Release Show at Spaceland with The World Record and Death to Anders. The Amateurs songs on their myspace are great and I love The World Record. This one's a must must see. CER Show of the Week.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at The Regent Theatre (5/7/2009)

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mindset or maybe The Regent Theatre isn't the best venue, or maybe I wasn't close enough to the stage, because a bunch of people were seriously into it: jumping up and down, clapping, etc. I'm guessing it was a combination of all three that hindered my appreciation.

It seems like The Zeros may be somewhat of a "cult" band. I don't mean this in a bad way at all; I just mean that if you like them and give yourselves over to them you're a lifer, but if you aren't feeling it you might be bored. I would similarly characterize The Polyphonic Spree: either you love(d) them or you didn't care for them. But with The Spree I was drawn in almost immediately at their amazing CMJ Music Marathon set in Brooklyn back in 2002 (it definitely helped that the Spree played in a great performance space with their choir singing behind illuminated stained glass above the rest of the band, but that show is still one of the best things I've ever seen).

So I'm still reserving judgment on Edward Sharpe; I didn't get drawn in on Thursday night, but hopefully I will in the future.