The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

But It Takes Only One to Look Retarded

via Best Week Ever

Somewhere, Rob Base has just hung himself. As for DJ Ez-Rock, he is currently preparing a vat of cyanide which he plans to down later this evening.

Beards, Blazers & Glasses: Oh No, Oh My!/The Deadly Syndrome/The Honey Brothers

After a 2006 where Beirut, Lily Allen, The Little Ones, Midlake, The Cold War Kids, Voxtrot, et. al. seemed to be consensus "blogger buzz" bands, the blogosphere has been strangely silent in the past few months. Perhaps it's fear of Gerard. Or maybe it's understandable irritation from the spate of mainstream press articles scrutinizing a band's buzz arc like it was James Cameron trying to play Da Vinci Code. But more likely, there just haven't been any straight out-of-left field sensations galvanizing bloggers. I see this as generally a good thing. Stripped of expectations, bands making their debut won't face impossible expectations and possibly career-crushing reviews (see Birdmonster, Sound Team). Plus, it's a good thing because the sheer number of buzz bands had gotten deafening. So much that I had started to ignore whatever band du jour was making the rounds. I suppose this is why I'd previously slept on blog favorites, Oh No, Oh My!

Indeed, the Austin quintet turned in a surprisingly stellar set last Saturday night at the Echo, despite my rather limited expectations. From cursory listens of the songs from their eponymous debut, they seemed completely mundane and kinda' boring. Indie jangle-pop by numbers. in that ripping of The Shins, ripping off The Beatles, sort of way. But lyrically, Oh No, Oh My! possess a sardonic bite and a solid sense of humor that help separate them from the pack (song titles include "Lisa, Make Love (It's Okay,)" "Skip the Foreplay" and "Jane is Fat.")

Live, the recent Dim Mak signees, sold the entire crowd on their foot-stomping brand of tightly coiled pop, firing of waves of shiny keyboards, yelpy vocals, jet-pack propelled drums and even a melodica (No King Tubby). Well-polished and full of energy, Oh No, Oh My! proved worthy of their advance hype, and when "A Walk in the Park" came on, even the Echo Park hipsters started moving. Yes, it was certainly a sight to be seen.

MP3: Oh No, Oh My!-"Jane is Fat"
MP3: Oh No, Oh My!-"I Have No Sister"
Fucking Steve Aoki. You wanna' hate the dude, if not for his wispy mustache then for the fact that he calls himself Kid Millionaire. If that's not enough, there's the fact that he's on Cobrasnake every 10 minutes with some picture next to Good Charlotte's Web, or whatever band those John Madden brothers are in. But I'll be damned if you don't have to respect Aoki for his usually pretty good taste in music and always savvy business acumen. Granted, his label, Dim Mak, has a roster that includes Whirlwind Heat (perhaps the worst live band, I've ever seen), but I'll grant Aoki a free pass for signing Bloc Party, The Kills, the aforementioned Oh No, Oh My! and most recently, Silverlake's The Deadly Syndrome.

Like the above bands, it's only a matter of time before The Deadly Syndrome blow up and adds more dollars to the Benihana fortune. I figured these kids would be good, considering Duke's been raving about them for months, but they absolutely killed it last Saturday night. Like an unholy hybrid of Wolf Parade, Cold War Kids and even a little Built to Spill, The Deadly Syndrome's brand of high-energy almost punk rock dazzled the crowd. With the mania of meth-heads, the band writhed, wriggled and leaped across the stage, with caveman drums and crunching spiraling guitars.

When all was said and done, The Deadly Syndrome displayed that their window as an LA club band is rapidly shrinking. This band is ready for the bigs. Floating Away said it best: "These guys are the real deal and after last night's show, they launched themselves right up there with the Parson Red Heads in terms of my favorite LA Bands." Plus, they bring cardboard cut-outs of mustached ghosts on-stage with them. Which is kinda' sorta' awesome in my book.

MP3: The Deadly Syndrome-"I Hope I Become a Ghost"
The Honey Bros: Proving That Vincent Chase> Jordan Catalano

Dismiss the Honey Bros. as Adrian "Vincent Chase" Grenier's vanity band all you want, you cannot deny the fact that per capita, no band in recent memory has drawn hotter girls to their shows. Seriously. I'm willing to bet my life that that many gorgeous girls will never be in Echo Park at the same time ever again. Hell, even Kate Bosworth showed up (though sadly, on the arm of "Legolas" Bloom).

If you're a single guy from the age of 21-30, the Honey Bros. are not a band you want to miss. Think about it: no guy will accompany their girlfriend to a show just to watch the dude from Entourage play the drums, meaning that dozens of unaccompanied and very beautiful woman are standing around, getting worked into a lather because of Vinnie Chase's percussion. Even better is the fact that Grenier can only snag two or three of them. Four tops. Which's a buyers market, fellas.

As for their music, the Honey Bros. are much better than you'd imagine. They aren't a bunch of actors who can't play worth a damn, think Dogstar, 30 Odd Feet of Grunts-type, or the horrors of 30 Seconds to Mars. They can play just fine and their song-writing is solid in a jokey, light-hearted way. The Honey Bros. never take themselves too seriously, just sticking to frothy and fun pop music. Think of them as a poor man's Weezer with a better sense of humor. Plus, you can't dislike a band that features the ukelele. And if you have a problem with that, take it up with Don Ho.

The Honey Bros. On Myspace

Get pictures and more Oh No, Oh My! and Deadly Syndrome MP3's at Floating Away

Mind of Mencia Revealed to Be Completely Blank (and other links too)

Two weeks later, I still can't shake the confrontation between Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia out my head. In all my wildest fantasies, I had never envisioned something so breathtakingly spectacular as seeing two of the least funny men on earth, engaged in a Hatfield and McCoy-worthy, You Tubed feud. The only thing that may have improved things would've been if they'd had a tag-team steel cage match with Mencia, Joe Rogan, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Ricky "The Dragon Steamboat.

I still remain stunned that the guy who is somehow the most popular comedian on Comedy Central, got eviscerated by a guy I'd previously taken for an even bigger chump, Joe Rogan (if you don't believe me, see Best Week Ever's coverage of Rogan waging message board war with a college kid). I took Rogan for a dude incapable of tying his shoelaces (he looks like a velcro sorta' guy), but somehow he shredded Mencia better than anyone since 2Pac told Biggie, "I've fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker."

Surprisingly, Mencia hasn't been censured in the media, nor disgraced like other plagiarists, Kaayva Viswanathan, Jayson Blair or James Frey. Instead, Mencia gets to keep his hit TV show and Joe Rogan, for bravely (if bombastically) exposing the truth, got dropped by his agent. If you haven't seen the video, I highly encourage you to do so. It's kind of astonishing. Not because Mencia comes off as pathetic, weak and possibly anti-Semitic, but more because it forces you to ask yourself: If Carlos Mencia really does steal other people's jokes. How is impossible that he remains this unfunny? The guy makes Dane Cook like Woody Allen. That is all I have to say on this matter.

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka Says Read These Links SuckaIf you like Dylan, Expecting Rain, is a ridiculously good resource for all things Zimmerman.

Uncle Granbo's back and in incredible form with the recently re-designed Best Evs' Whatevs. See his post on the evolution of Angela Chase.

Check this 1978 BBC Hunter S. Thompson documentary that you can stream at Google Video

(via Largehearted Boy)

Speaking of the good doctor, Drowned in Sound has a guide to Gonzo. Though how they can leave Hells Angels off a list of HST must-reads is beyond me.

My Morning Jacket? A Prom? An Enchantment Under the Sea Dance? I know there must be a music editor somewhere fool-hardy enough to send me to investigate. C'mon Rolling Stone, you know I can't do worse than that retarded I'm From Rolling Stone kid who started interrogating Lupe Fiasco about black muslim terrorists?

Kevin from So Much Silence starts an excellent vinyl blog, Circa 45. Check for it.

Crime Notes over at The Cole Slaw Blog creates a comprehensive guide to the Hold Steady Volume 1

The Foundtrack puts out its March Mix, with tracks from The Arcade Fire, J Dilla, Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem, among others.

My Old Kentucky Blog takes on an oldie but a goodie, 1996's Pinkerton, one of my favorite records of the last 10 (or 11) years.

Kevin Bronson hits the nail on the head: "Whitestarr are the cubic zirconium of Los Angeles music."

Wake Your Daughter Up, offers up 1991's oft-slept on classic, Del The Funkee Homosapien's I Wish My Brother George Was Here. With of course, "Mistadobalina."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Canceled in Stereo or Montreal Needs Happier Hipsters

In my on-going quest to slander music scenes across the globe, I present a very special post today: a guest essay from Sacha Orenstein, illustrating the perils of the treacherous world of Montreal hipsters. Most of the time, Sacha writes about hip-hop for the very stellar website, Oh Word. In general, he dislikes Montreal’s indie scene. He still pretends to enjoy the Arcade Fire to pick up art-school chicks though.

“Apples In Stereo show canceled due to illness”

Fuck. There goes the guest post.

That wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, staring down the sign hastily posted to the door of my local venue. But sometime after paging the crew to stay home and wondering what power-pop groups sound like with the flu, I realized that I’d offered to write a show review for The Passion of the Weiss only to quite suddenly lose my topic. I thought about going meta and writing about the rest of the night, but I’ll spare you a discussion on a friend’s love life, if only to avoid re-living a rant on "rich feminists." Instead, I’m going to go rhetorical and examine the question: why is the Montreal music scene so damned sad? Not sad as in “it sucks” but sad as in “cheer the fuck up and stop the droning, PLEASE”.

Look to the Mountie, Montreal Hipsters. Look to the Mountie

Realistically, I doubt Montreal’s doom-n-gloom suddenly infected Robert Shneider, but philosophically, it sorta' makes sense. You’ll never witness an Elephant 6 style sun-psych collective emerge from Montreal. Hell, the happiest band we’ve ever been associated with has nothing to do with us. Instead, its The Arcade Fire’s nervous breakdown on wax, Wolf Parade’s melody-free angst, Silver Mount Zion’s black-metal sans metal, Godspeed You Black Emperor’s pretension, Ghislain Poirier’s tuneless trip-hop…stop me when you’re bored. Even our lighter bands like The Unicorns and The Dears are considerably more morose and downtrodden than average.

The obvious culprit is the weather (we blame everything on the weather) but people here party year round, it’s just the bands that stay stuck in perpetual shade. It could be a misguided attempt at self-identification: the French bands party for their right to fight and it’s pretty good if you’re willing to bump the whitest music known to man. Maybe all the shoe-gazing is the result of white/anglo guilt. Or maybe it’s the lack of black people. Or maybe the city’s full of dicks. I’m no sociologist; all I know is that the scene around here makes Williamsburg look like Athens (laugh now and figure the shit out when you get home).

I guess it’s pretty cool if you don’t live IN Montreal, which explains the music press’ pavlovian response every time another bunch of local saps with guitars release a break-up record. But here’s the thing: they don’t have to live with these people. Imagine being surrounded on a daily basis by scenesters who completely identify with the above bands. it’s enough to make you want to scrawl on the eyeliner and go goth yourself. Say what you want about LA’s vapid materialism but at least people pretend to be happy for money, the only time people smile around here is when they get into an exclusive unannounced show…and mostly because they get to brag about it, not because of the actual music.

Does This Man Look Happy to You?

Granted, it’s not all bad: we have awesome strip clubs, some unique food, cheap housing and quality mass transit. But if we have all of this cool stuff, why does our music constantly sound like an art school student’s installation project about his shitty childhood? It's like Q-Tip said, "I dunno man, I dunno man, I dunno." Perhaps we should demand government funded Prozac…or at the very least, LSD.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Album Review: Elvis Perkins-Ash Wednesday

Last September, when I first saw Elvis Perkins' live, his lyrical maturity, simple but finely-crafted acoustic melodies and compelling stage presence immediately impressed me. Unlike many folky singer/songwriters who churn out great studio albums but fail to bring the goods live, Elvis transcended the delicate and frail sound of his album, turning the soft-sounding cuts from Ash Wednesday into a rollicking kinetic celebration. Opening up for Dr. Dog and The Cold War Kids, the then-unsigned Perkins delivered the best set of the night and it was clear to anyone in the audience that he was bound for great things.

Flash forward five months later and Perkins' debut, Ash Wednesday, has finally received an official release on XL Recordings. I've had the record in my collection since September but it was only when I actually sat down to write the Stylus review when I realized how truly outstanding it actually is. An elegy of sorts for his deceased parents (the actor, Anthony Perkins, who died of AIDS in 1992) and his mother, the photographer Berry Berenson (who died in one of the planes that hit the WTC on 9/11), Ash Wednesday is sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes uplifting and at all-times brilliant. It has a level of depth, intelligence and gravity that few records made today possess. I highly recommend it.

Read My Stylus Review Here

Buy Ash Wednesday Here

MP3: Elvis Perkins-"While You Were Sleeping"
MP3: Elvis Perkins-"Emile's Vietnam in the Sky"

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beers, Blazin' & Ganja : Ghostface Killah

There are times when sobriety pays off. Taking the SAT. Going on a job interview. Giving yourself an impromptu scalp shave in Tarzana. But attending a Ghostface show sober yields few dividends. Showing up to see Ghostface sans honey-dipped spliffs and/or some brand of liquor is like attending a funeral naked: ultimately, both experiences will leave you rather embarrassed and ultimately baffled. (No Kevin Barnes)

Simply put, Ghostface is the most interesting live performer in hip-hop. There are certainly performers who sound better live (GZA, Pharoahe Monch), others capable of dazzling you with their array of technical skills (Edan) and even others who are just straight-up funnier (Dip Set), yet no performer in the game can match the sheer off-the-cuff amusement that Ghost never fails to provide.

Ghost operates on one of those rarefied mental plains, way out of the straight-jacket normalcy of modern society, with an array of tics and idiosyncrasies to make Woody Allen blush. This is partially why it is crucial to be in an altered mind state when confronting such a spectacle likely to include: extemporaneous stories about shaking Biggie Smalls' hand a decade previous, lectures on fake rap beefs, and the occasional dance party with the Omega Mu Sorority House.
Never Before Has Someone Needed a Reality Show More
With roughly 20 hangers-on hovering around the DJ booth, Ghost and Theodore Unit took the stage at half past midnight, coming out to "Metal Lungies" full of its bulging synths, abandoned safe house vibe, and cries of "Theodore." From there the track blended seamlessly into the classic party vibe of "Ice Cream," with the crowd chanting along with the Method Man hook and Ghost kicking his off-kilter paean to black Miss America's named Erika, girls that would look like Spuds McKenzie (if Ghost was jiggy) and Adina Howard, who very understandably had been on his mind all week.

The proceedings had a psychedelic vibe, with Ghost rambling, slurring, stoned on-stage, perpetually keeping the audience on their toes, descending into the Dali-worthy surrealism of "The Forrest," (if Dali loved the Smurfs), and the slow stuttering burn of "Whip You With a Strap." Ghost effortlessly regaling the crowd with distorted, crystal-clear childhood visions in one breath, then declared that all of us "are Gods for coming out the pussy, lucky motherfuckas, who out of millions of sperm made it to that one egg," in the next.

One second it's "Ghost Deini," and a surprisingly well choreographed "Run," the next he's babbling that he's "a righteous man." Keep in mind, this is minutes before Ghost broke into his now-standard on-stage dance party, with whatever flotsam and jetsam he and the rest of Theodore Unit were able to coax out of the crowd. Yet out of any Wu-Tang dance party I've ever seen, this one may have been the most depressing, with the assembled females looking like they'd been brought to the party by Gilbert, Lewis and Booger. Don't think that stopped Shawn Wiggs, Ghost, and Sun God from molesting anything in sight. Hell, even Solomon Childs stopped spitting in his tobacco bottle for a few moments long enough to start feeling on a girl that vaguely resembled William Howard Taft.

Whatchu Talking About William?

Meanwhile, Trife Da God wisely focused his energies on the lone attractive dancer, a trashy but sorta' attractive Joan Jett looking girl, who would later be seen by Ian Cohen in the parking, getting blasted by her boyfriend. Of course, this raises the philosophical question: if you lose your girl to a member of Theodore Unit, shouldn't that be a sign that she might not have been "the one." Meanwhile, Sean Wiggs, the East Coast's answer to Paul Wall, performed his rather annoying verse from "Greedy Bitches," leaving me to conclude that I have little interest in ever hearing Wiggs rap again. However, I am interested in is finding out what exactly he had to do to get into Theodore Unit. The only way his admission makes any sense is that he has several dead bodies under his belt.

The set list was surprisingly devoid of tracks from Fishscale, with the aforementioned "Whip You With a Strap," the only cut performed. Instead, in an all-too-generous gesture, Ghost allowed Theodore Unit a sizeable amount of face time, proving once again that while Trife, Sun and Solomon Childs are pretty decent rappers in their own right, they'll never come close to Papa Starks either. But when Starks had the spotlight, he controlled it, leaving the crowd magnetized with his irrepressible charisma and impassioned delivery.

Hunter Thompson once wrote that "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Ghostface is both: simultaneously, a pro capable of dazzling you with the best hip-hop songs ever written, but weird enough to stun you with the breadth of his bizarre thoughts and theories that make much more sense under the influence of strong drink and various narcotics. His live show may not be the best in hip-hop, but it's easily the most surreal. Indeed, Ghostface subliminally understands something Booger in Animal House taught us a very long time ago. If you have enough wonderjoints, even a party with the Omega Mu's can be turned into a great time.

MP3: Ghostface Killah-"Ghost Deini"
MP3: Ghostface Killah-"The Forrest"

Bonus: Ghost performing a typically unnecessary "Cherchez La Ghost" Dance Party Last Year.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Old Testament: Bringing It All Back Home

It's kind of ridiculous that in the year plus that I've been blogging, no words have been spilled about Bob Dylan, other than to slag Modern Times via haiku. And in truth, my displeasure for Bobby D's latest album had more to do with the stark contrast between Modern Times and Time Out of Mind, let alone that of his latest work and his classic 60s records. Yet in spite of his late career mundanity, in my opinion, there remain only two logical choices for best singer/songwriter of all-time: Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Granted, picking between those two is like analyzing whether you'd rather sleep with Jessica Alba or Charlize Theron. But...if I had to pick a grizzled vestige of the 60's to bring it all back home with, I'd unequivocally choose Bob Dylan. I think that came out wrong.

When most critics talk Dylan Best-Of's, conversation typically veers towards one of three albums: Highway 61 Revisted, Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks. Yet while all three of those records are undeniably masterful, my personal favorite of Dylan's is 1965's "Bringing it All Back Home." Marking Dylan's first official attempt to go electric on wax, Bringing it All Back home is split into two distinct halves: side A devoted to rollicking head-spinning burners, with the acoustic side B devoted to gorgeous poetic dirges.

At times a furious hail-storm of anger and rage directed at society ("It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding," "Maggie's Farm" "Subterranean Homesick Blues"), at times wistful love-lorn laments ("Love Minus Zero/No Limit," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue), at times wildly surrealist folk-ballads (Bob Dylan's 115th Dream,") Bringing It All Back home is the most taut encapsulation of Dylan's talents. Just 11 tracks and 46 minutes of the most damning song-writing ever unleashed.
I Got a Head Full of Ideas Driving Me Insane

The first half of the record is doubtlessly outstanding, but it's its second half with its unvarnished brilliance that makes this my favorite album of all time. Indeed, you'd be hard to find a better sequence in the history of music than the last four tracks: "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Gates of Eden," "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Four songs that even now, over 40 years after their release, radiate like bright obsidian, hanging like dauting obstacles to future songwriters who somehow must vaguely understand that they'll never write anything that good. Words can't describe the way "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), a seven and a half minute philippic against life, death, politics, capitalism, conformity and every point in between, winnowing its way through your soul, as Dylan recycles everyday thoughts and spits them out in a staccato bullets

On Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan basically invents what it means to be a great modern song-writer, scribing phrases capable of evoking myriad emotions in each listener, each cryptic turn able to be interpreted in a thousand different ways. (Of course, there are some tragic downsides to this,namely Incubus) Inspired by visionary poets like Arthur Rimbaud and Allen Ginsberg, Dylan writes lines that don't make little literal sense yet seem divinely ordained, with a brilliant method to their madness.

Inevitably, a whole lot of people reading this are already major Dylan fans, so in some respect I'm preaching to the choir. But if by chance oldies radio has left you with the mistaken notion that Bob Dylan is all oldies station staples like "Blowin' In the Wind," and "The Times Are-A-Changin," this record should change your mind. And if nothing else it won't awkwardly name-check Alicia Keys in its first two minutes.

MP3: Bob Dylan-"It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" (sendspace, left click)

Bonus: "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video (ft. Allen Ginsberg)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

John Mayer Protest Song Ends Iraq War

In a shocking reversal of fortune, Iraq, a nation recently teetering on the brink of Civil War has finally stabilized, as Iraqi insurgents of all stripes have laid down their arms, agreeing to love one another, regardless of religious sect or philosophical difference. In a magnanimous gesture, the United States will pull out its troops out of Baghdad, effective tomorrow. Sources within Iraq claim that the cessation of conflict stems largely from "Waiting On the World to Change," an Anti-War song penned by American singer/songwritard, John Mayer.

Army General, David Petraeus, who took over from General George Casey just last week, explained how Mayer's utopian ballad, and the not the recent Baghdad crackdown, ultimately paid the greatest dividends for the United States.

"What a talent that young man has!" Petraeus gushed, partially in shock from the conflict's abrupt ending. "When Jenna [Bush] told Dubya that all the sorority girls from Texas were listening to it, he was skeptical. But the Commander-in-Chief understood that air-dropping copies of Continuum on the Iraqi people was our last best hope to turn back to the tide of the insurgency. The moment the Iraqis heard Mayer's oh-so-sweet voice and deep-as-the-ocean floor lyrics, they understand that they were powerless to a greater power: the power of love."

Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Iraqi cleric and head of the Shiite Mahdi army based in the impoverished slums of Sadr City, agreed that Mayer's hit single was the crucial difference in altering the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
Yet They Still Hate "Your Body's A Wonderland"
"We still curse the infidel Americans and their head piglet, George Bush. But we do not curse this so-called John Mayer," Al-Sadr said with the shaking of a clenched fist. "I remember the first time I heard "Waiting for the World to Change." Me and Muhammed Ibn-Al-Sheikh were at the Mosque for Friday prayers. Then, over the loudspeakers out came the holy Mayer's words: "And we're still waiting/waiting on the world to change/we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change/one day our generation is gonna' rule the population/so we keep on waiting/waiting on the world to change."
Mayer himself was pleased but unsurprised by the incredible impact of his song.

"I knew this song was gonna' be special from the moment it first popped into my head. I'd just fucked Jessica and I rolled over to her and was like, 'yo, J." And she was like "yo, J, y'all." And I was like, 'this war sucks,' and Jessica was like, "war? What war" Mayer said, suddenly breaking into his "guitar face" despite no guitars being in sight. "That's when I knew that I needed to do something, to let the world know that hey, Neil Young, Green Day, The Dixie Chicks, Burt Baccharach, Merle Haggard, Billy Bragg, Bright Eyes, Steve Earle, The System of the Down, and many others may have written anti-war songs, but I'm John Mayer. What the world really is waiting on is protest music from the man who wrote the song,"My Stupid Mouth."

Jessica Simpson was very proud of the success of her beau.

"Some guys...all they want to do is fuck, because I'm like, totally hot," the blonde temptress gushed. "But John really cares. He wants to fuck and then talk about geo-poetry, all night long. I never knew the Iraq War had this much to do with 'the shocker.' John is truly talented. He is no Nick Lachey," Simpson confidently declared.

Your Body Won't Be a Wonderland When I Get Through With It

Yet not everyone was pleased by Mayer's ability to end the Iraq War. Vice-President Dick Cheney expressed his disdain for Mayer's work, claiming that the troubadork had very little to do with the end result.

"John Mayer can go fuck himself!" Cheney growled. "The insurgency was in its last throes well over two years ago. The ending of the war is a natural extension of the policies that this administration has enacted. It's good to see that the Iraq people have finally realized that we are their liberators. It took long enough. After being here for four years, it was about time that we finally saw some fucking tossed flower petals. On a personal note, its a sad day for me. I'd grown rather attached to the Iraq war. I'll be sad to see it go. At least there's always Iran."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beards, Blazers & Bedtime or 30 Thoughts During the Camera Obscura Show

Wow, this is really boring.

2. Is this boring like According to Jim boring or boring like Mind of Mencia boring?

3. Is there a difference between the two?

4. How can a bands album be that good, but their live show so incredibly fucking dull?

5. I believe that's what the Doctors call "The Shins."

6. Could their lack of flair be the result of their Scottish heritage?

7. No. Franz Ferdinand are Scottish. And Belle & Sebastian. And Groundskeeper Willie.

8. I wish I was watching The Simpsons right now.

9. Maybe I'll just leave.

10. But I paid a lot of money for this ticket.

11. Damn this Jewish sense of economics.

12. But it's a sunk cost.

13. Shut up! Economics 101.

14. I wonder what Mexican restaurants are still open right now?

(Interlude, where in the lobby of the El Rey theater, I dial 1-800 Free 411 to figure out which Mexican restaurants are still open).

15. Score. El Compadre is open until 1:00.

Flaming Margaritas? Don't Tell Tim Hardaway.

16. I really like carnitas. And guacamole. This is going to be fantastic.

17. Wait...Camera Obscura are still on? Really?

18. Is lead singer, TraceyAnne Campbelle's dress technically a Frau?

19. I believe frock is the word I'm looking for.

20. When are they gonna' play "Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken?"

21. Okay, they're playing it now.

22. This song is definitely about Lloyd Christmas.

23. Why does no one in this band move on stage? Ever? How bout a nice Scottish jig? Something!! Move!!!

24. I think their bassist might actually be dead. Could I be watching the indie-rock equivalent of Weekend at Bernie's. After all, this is the last night of their tour.

25. I think I'm going to go out in the lobby again. I feel like stretching.

26. Is stretching better when you're high?

27. Do yogi's smoke weed? If so, they'd probably really appreciate it.

28. Wait a second...the band sounds pretty good from out here. Maybe I should go inside and see if they're doing something awesome.

29. Nope. Still boring. Time to go.

(Walking out the doors)

30. Whatever...I still like the album.

MP3: Camera Obscura-"Let's Get Out of the Country"
MP3: Camera Obscura-"Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken"

Monday, February 19, 2007

Beards, Blazers & Glasses: The Autumn Defense/Parson Redheads

It's too bad for that whole Wilco thing. Because chances are if that if John Stirrat and Pat Sansone didn't have a day job in one of the greatest bands on earth, you'd probably know a lot more about their time moonlighting in Autumn Defense. Of course, these guys aren't anonymous, several blogs have written nice things about their self-titled third album that came out in January, (see here, here, and here). But none of the major online music mags wrote reviews on it and only a smattering of places print or otherwise even bothered to write-up what would ostensibly be vanity project from two guys, forever famous as being two of the dudes in Wilco not named Jeff Tweedy.

But the few places that did review the Autumn Defense's very solid album were almost uniformly praiseworthy and watching the band let loose a breezy, effortlessly pleasant set last Friday night at Spaceland, its hard to see how anyone could dislike this band. With surprising charisma, Stirrat and Sanson stood up front, energetically strumming golden, late summer chords, perfectly complementing the heat spell breezing through Los Angeles this winter. With a precise knack for harmony, both men effortlessly churned out hum along, foot tapping folk-pop melodies that sound like they were cooked up in a Laurel Canyon treehouse in 1971.

It's fitting that The Autumn Defense turned in a very strong set tonight in LA, as their sound is heavily derived from those bands that the city of Angels seemed to effortlessly crank out from 1965-1971: Love, The Byrds, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, and the Eagles (even if the Eagles do kinda' suck). But The Autumn Defense aren't just mere psych-folk revivalists, the they definitely have a sound onto their own, adding layers of instrumentation onto an acoustic base. At times three violinists stood in the corner, firing off lazy gorgeous notes, while various types of percussionists shook in the other corner, turning the affair into a mellow celebration.

All Right Mr. Tweedy...I'm Ready for my Close-Up

If you like Wilco, I'm willing to bet you'll really enjoy the Autumn Defense. And unless you're going to Bonnaroo (and if you are, take me please), you probably won't be seeing Wilco anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Autumn Defense will be on tour through the end of March. Their live show won't blow your mind like Stirrat and Sansone's day band, but you'll still end up impressed. If nothing else, Wilco fans should check them out just to understand how the cosmic leap from A.M. to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/A Ghost is Born wasn't just all Jeff Tweedy's maturaion. Indeed, Sansone and Stirrat are two outstanding musicians in their own right and their solo chops are two more arguments in favor of Wilco being one of the most talented bands in recent memory. Hell, even their bassist and "multi-instrumentionalist" can still take almost every band's lead singer/songwriters.

MP3: The Autumn Defense-"Canyon Arrow" (
not to be confused with Canyanero)
MP3: The Autumn Defense-"This Will Fall Away"

Go To So Much Silence for another Autumn Defense MP3

The Parson Redheads Again? Ah yeah...Again and Again (to be said in the call-in voice from the intro to "Protect Ya' Neck")

Not trying to beat a Dead Horse (I actually only beat dead horses on Tuesday's), but local fan-favorite The Parson Redhead's delivered another impressive opening set for the Autumn Defense on Friday. I know I've mentioned them twice before, but last Friday's 30 minute performance was another compelling reason why the Parson's are one of the best new bands in Los Angeles.

When Parson Redhead lead singer Evan Way expressed interest in opening up for their folky kindred spirits The Autumn Defense, Spaceland's bookers intimated their desire to keep things as mellow as possible, in theme with The Autumn Defense's cozy hushed sound. Normally, the Parson's balance their folky, country-tinged ballads with kinetic psychedelic electric guitars and danceable bass lines, but the other night, they played a stripped down, acoustic set. It was a bit strange to see the entire tribe of them standing still and calm, rather than in the full-on celebratory mode of their normal performances.

Yet stripped down to their most bare, Way's songs retain all their charms and harmonious rhythms, evidencing the mark of good pop songcraft. The show might not have been as instantly impressive as their normally kinetic sets. But to the already converted, it was an interesting and excellent display of another side of The Parsons.

MP3: The Parson Redheads-"Full Moon"

Friday, February 16, 2007

Full Throttle Energy Drink: The Tim Hardaway of Soft Drinks

Ever think to yourself, man I wish my energy drink could do more than just give me a buzz to get through the afternoon? Ever wish your beverage could end feminism as we know it? Or maybe even give you a really cool monster truck to impress all the boys at the Truck Rally? Well, if that's the case, then look no further, because the Full Throttle Energy Drink is here. Personally, I don't know how I've gotten through the last 25 years. Indeed, ever since last week, when I discovered Full Throttle, my life has improved immensely. All the biker skanks want me. All the tatoo artists want to tat me up. And all the bikers want me to be in their biker gang.

You see, it was just seven short days ago that I was cruising along the highway, minding my own business, trying not to think about what exactly Patrick Wolf means by "The Magic Position" When suddenly, I saw a Full Throttle billboard and its caption: 16 oz. of Tijuana. Prior to that moment, the words 16 oz. of Tijuana had only made me think of enough weed to get high until roughly 2010 (or jail time until roughly 2010 if things went wrong at the border.) Or maybe even something L'il Kim was rumored to have gone to the hospital for. But I most certainly didn't believe that drinking Coca-Cola's new energy drink could make me travel through time and space to a land of drug killings, donkey shows and all-you-can-drink tequila. Boy, how wrong I was!

After seeing that awesome billboard, I was intrigued. So I went to Full Throttle's website to learn more about this life-changing product. And man, I can't stress enough how cool that website is. It was there on this so-called world wide web, where I met the various men of Full Throttle, like Bob from Connecticut, who told me that: "the parade of testosterone comes through with the full throttle truck and it snaps me out of this haze I've been in." All of a sudden, I realized that this drink would make me more manly, more illiterate, but less tired. Three things I've been looking to do for years (if only Hooked on Phonics hadn't worked). Another super bad-ass dude on the website was gangbanger Mike from Los Angeles.' Mike is so cool. In his picture, he throws up a gang signs, and asks us Full Throttle fans, "Metrosexual! What the fuck is that!" Mike's so bad-ass. He doesn't take shit from anyone. Don't blame him for not wanting to to be in the same gang as John Amaechi.
By day, I work as a male model for the Coca-Cola Corp.; By night I live my dreams as the lead singer of a Frank Zappa Cover Band

The website also introduced me to a lovable, musclebound rapscallion named Roland from Austria who declared: "What was the man's responsibility? He was going out there and hunt." Roland doesn't care about grammar and neither do I. I bet he be good governor of Caleefornya too. Me likey! Not to mention a whole bunch of pertinent info from a section called "the rides." There, I got to see Monster trucks, exotic sports cars, tractors and tanks. I wish I had a tank. Tanks are cool. I bet chicks like tanks. Almost as cool as the super awesome tank was a video game I found on the website, where I got to be my absolute hero, Bob from Connecticut. I helped him to escape the "minivans and shopping that were bogging him down." Who knows, if I hadn't helped him, maybe Bob would've had to drive his kids to soccer practice. The horror!

Thank god, for this delicious beverage made of high fructose corn syrup, carbonated water and citric acid. And don't even let me get started on Full Throttle Theater, where I learned that by drinkingFull Throttle, men everywhere can learn "how to let their inner-man out, and re-claim all that is rightfully theirs." Do you guys hate feminism? If so, this is the drink for you. One mouthwatering sip and your woman will be in a burka before you can say wage gap.
Finally, Coca-Cola has delivered a product worth checking for. Personally, I've had it up to my heavily caffeinated ears with these "sissy" drinks. Coke Zero. Cokes with Splenda. Diet Vanilla Coke. They have an old saying in my family: If your energy drink doesn't make you feel like you're having a heart attack, than its probably for pussies. And you better believe that Full Throttle delivered. Palpitation central baby!!!

The truth is, the world has long needed Full Throttle. 6,000 years of civilization and yet mankind had never produced an energy drink for illiterates, bigots and other miscellaneous retards (ed note: forgive me for making fun of illiterates, but y'know they ain't reading). Personally, I want three things from my energy drinks: 1) I want them to reverse the gains that women have made over the past 30 years 2) I want them to tell me what cool tattoos to get and 3) I want to know which metrosexuals to mock. Is that too much to ask? I think not. Thank god for Full Throttle, the drink that will allow the men of the world to unite. To fulfill our dreams of being second-class citizens no longer. The energy drink of our future is here! Who needs 40 oz. of freedom when you can drink it in 16.?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Old Testament: Ween-Chocolate and Cheese

I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard Ween, I was in the 6th grade and watching MTV's Alternative Nation. Kennedy was on-screen, inevitably doing something smarmy and annoying. Suddenly, the music channel cued the video for Ween's "Push th' Little Daisies." Being 11 years at the time, I certainly wasn't in on the joke, didn't understand what sort of mushrooms they were eating, and basically sided with Beavis and Butthead when they declared that Ween "like totally sucked."

So when the New Hope, Pennsylvania duo followed up Pure Guava with 1994's Chocolate and Cheese, I wasn't exactly paying much attention to the band (maybe if I'd seen the album cover.) In fact, I really hated them at the time, thanks to one of my best friends, who whenever he wanted to annoy me, would start flailing around in a circle like a retard and yelping "Push the little daises and make 'em come up...yeah!!" ad nauseum into my right ear. It was fucking awesome.

So that year, while I was busy memorizing the lyrics to "Regulate" and "Indo Smoke" Chocolate and Cheese, Ween's fourth album wasn't exactly on my radar. Which is too bad, because its a certified masterpiece, a dizzying, disorienting and hilarious trip through the twisted minds of Dean and Gene Ween. A record that sounds like the White Album if it were played strictly for laughs (and dedicated to the then-recently deceased John Candy) Often described as pop de-constructionists for their Zappa-like ability to simultaneously break down various genres, Ween pay homage to and lampoon music of all stripes, tackling Philly Soul, Afro-Carribean funk, Mexican folk ballads, and British psych, among others.

Are Ween Groupies Called Weenies?
What separates Chocolate and Cheese from being just another jokey light-weight record are Ween's masterful song-writing ability. Even when penning a tune as ridiculous as "Don't Shit Where You Eat," the band's bizarre but kinda' poignant finale, Ween build the track around shimmering acoustic guitars and gentle resonating bass lines that in a Bizarro universe would be hit singles (No "Fergielicious.")

Of course, Ween wouldn't be Ween if the album wasn't weird. Its scatalogical and political incorrectness are worthy of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (who later went on to direct Ween's "Even if you Don't" video). In that vein, Chocolate and Cheese features a 7 minute Mexican outlaw ballad called"Buenas Tardes Amigo," where the Ween boys take on a ridiculously thick Latino accent, and sing about Cinco de Mayo being on Tuesday and how they want to sell their enemies chickens with poisoned meat. "Spinal Meningitis (Got me Down) is a tongue-in-cheek story of a little child going to the doctor to get checked for Spinal Meningitis. Meanwhile, "The H.I.V. Song" is pure carnival jingle-jangle with the only lyrics, the words "HIV" and "AIDS," repeated endlessly. This, of course, was at the height of AID's paranoia in 1994 (see Reality Bites).

Interspersed are the truly classic album cuts, some of the more catchy slices of the pop ever recorded during the "alternative rock" era. "Freedom of 76" invents Beck's entire Midnight Vultures persona. The Prince homage of "Roses are Free," is filled with stoned silly funk that Trey Anastasio hijacked for marathon Phish sets. And its practically inconceivable that "Voodoo Lady" never became a Top 40 single, as its sounds like it was made straight for sorority row., with its brainless lyrics and wildly catchy hooks. Sadly, most people probably know it as that song from Road Trip.

The Trey Parker and Matt Stone of Music
Shockingly, Beavis and Butthead (and me) were wrong after all. Ween are in fact, a great band, and Chocolate and Cheese pretty awesome. Having never seen them live, I'm damned jealous of everyone going to Bonnaroo this Summer, where Ween will be playing a set that will totally not suck. Well, except for "Push th' little Daisies" which last time I checked, remains extraordinarily annoying.

MP3: Ween-"Voodoo Lady"
MP3: Ween-"Roses are Free"

"Push th' Little Daisies"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Album Review: Dalek-Abandoned Language

There's only a handful of ways to describe Dalek's Abandoned Language. Most of them involve some permutation of adjectives typically bringing to mind High School English teachers lecturing on Edgar Allen Poe. It's bleak. It's harrowing. It's chilling. It's dense, claustrophobic paranoia. Sadly though, Abandoned Language doesn't have any ravens. Instead, we get the Newark-based duo of Dalek (the MC and sometime producer) and his production partner, Oktopus, and their warped noirish masterpiece, so dark it sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, half a dozen miles underwater, completely lacking in any and all presence of light.

This is a combination of the albums I've been waiting on Cannibal Ox and DJ Shadow to do for the last half decade: a brilliant collage of eerie frigid instrumentals so cold you can practically feel the bone-rattling gusts of wind icing up your nose and ears; mixed with pure old school politically-bent lyricism. The production is a hybrid of My Bloody Valentine-esque swirls of dusty gray and ghostly white surrounded by gritty boom-bap drums.

Usually when hip-hoppers push the bar forward, at best they wind up like Subtle: intriguing but non-accessible to most hip-hop traditionalists. This is that rare album that offers something for everyone. True heads will appreciate Dalek's mission statement on the first verse of "Corrupt (knuckle up)": I script gutter beats and scribe lyrics/sounds that resonate for days off these ears that simply fear it/situate my verse six inches off curb/eternally can turn/when will these kids learn/I box with concern of elder statesmen/only breath for three decades but displayed I ain't vacant/ranks of MC's infested with fakeness...dispel your bitch rumors/tune the block with hangers/wires givin' tumors/Never write my songs for consumers/ironic, cuz' I write my songs for heads with phat laces on their Pumas."

Dalek: Rappin' Like Cannibal Ox/Lookin' Like Big Pun (at least the guy on the right)
Tracks like "Lynch" will appeal to fans of avant-garde instrumentalism, or as Ian Cohen so aptly pointed out: "I imagine this resembles what Wolf Eyes sounds like to people who don't think they're a bunch of worthless noisemakers." Indeed, through the track's five and a half minute run time, it features creepy synths stabbing through a miasma of noise, with slow assassin-like precision. Inspired by David Lynch flicks, the song could just as easily soundtrack a scene in "Mullholland Dr," or a ritualistic killing in ancient Ireland, with the Stone Aged villagers sacrificing a body and tossing it into a peat bog to let it idle, suspended for eternity. (That's the last time, I get high and go to the Natural History Museum.)

Fans of conscious hip-hop like Immortal Technique and The Coup will appreciate Dalek's clear-cut political bent. Gratefully, they never diverge into easy polemics, coating their beliefs in classic but still easy-to decipher NYC slang, as seen on the hook to "Bricks Crumble:
"Militant speech type Amiri Baraka/await actions from heads that ain't proper/words strength and emotions they foster/brinks crumble in defeat of this offer." Later, they claim to wield "assassin's arrows aimed at the affluent."

Yet the true brilliance of Abandoned Language lies in its sense of balance. This duo from the Bricks intuitively understandw how to balance their sonic density with accessibility. While I consider the Def Jukies to be among some of the most brilliant and innovative people in hip-hop, their detractors often knock them for their arrhythmic beats and incomprehensible SAT-word lyrics. Yet Dalek walk the tight rope between Mobb Deep and Cannibal Ox, a duo unafraid to experiment, yet never at the expense of listenability. Just when an instrumental is about to grow tedious, Abandoned Language veers into a hard-hitting break beat or some tough-minded yet undeniably artful lyrics. Few albums made this year capture a mood better than Abandoned Language. It's the best hip-hop album made since Fishscale. It's the first great rap album of the year.

Rating: 9.1

MP3: Dalek-"Abandoned Language"
MP3: Dalek-"Bricks Crumble"

Dalek on Myspace

Pre-Order Abandoned Language

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fall Out's Ya Boy!: A Quasi-Review of Infinity on High

The Setting: Jay-Z's lavish offices at Def Jam Headquarters in Manhattan. Reclining in his leather chair, Jay throws his S. Dot kicks up on his mahogany desk and lights a Cohiba Cigar with a $100 bill. Suddenly, he hears a knock at the door.

Jay-Z: Holla at ya boy!

The door opens. Pete Wentz walks in, clad in eye liner, a dash of glitter, and a see-through mesh top, that reads "This Ain't a Tee-Shirt, It's a Nipple Seen." Wentz bows before Jay-Z.

Pete Wentz: Greetings sire.

Jay-Z nods at Wentz.

Jay-Z: This is what critics said couldn't happen.

Pete Wentz: Indeed, they were all too busy believing that you were really with Beyonce.

Jay-Z: I don't think its meant to be. She loves her work more than she does me.

Pete Wentz: I can take your problems away with a nod and a wave of my hand. Because that's just the kind of boy that I am.

Jay-Z: I dedicate this to everyone who said we couldn't make it.

Pete Wentz: Oh we can make it.

Jay-Z: I know some places we can go. Do you wanna' ride with me?

Pete Wentz: I sing the blues and I swallow them too.

Jay-Z: I'm a writer not a biter.

Pete Wentz: That's good to hear. Wasn't it Eazy E who said, 'quit bitin' it and shit.

Pete Wentz moves closer. Much closer. He looks longingly into Jay-Z's eyes.

Pete Wentz: We take sour sips from life's lush lips.

Welcome to Hollywood baby.

Ring the Alarm, Indeed.

Jay-Z: Come and get that cash from me. They call me the rain man.

Pete Wentz: I only want to sing you to sleep in your bedroom. We need umbrellas on the inside.

Jay-Z: Act like you want it. You know you hot like fire. You throw that body. I'll throw them dollars.

Pete Wentz: Come hell or high water...well I'm feeling hot and wet.

Jay-Z: Not till Kingdom Come.

Pete Wentz: But that could take forever.

Jay-Z: Go ahead. Keep goin. I got some nice dresses for you guys over there.

Pete Wentz: Dresses? The band will love it. I'm a size 6? Did you know or just guess?

Jay-Z: Guess who's back? It's Hov.

Pete Wentz: Ow..that hurt. I'm a preacher sweating in the pews for my salvation that I'm bringing you.

Jay-Z: Dig a hole, bury yourself.

Pete Wentz: Wait, isn't it supposed to be the other way around.

Jay-Z: Shut up, Wentz. The rings and things you sing about, bring em out. It's hard to yell when the barrel's in your mouth.

Approximately three minutes later (no snuggling), Pete Wentz is at the door, saying his goodbyes.

Pete Wentz: Sean, can I call you Sean now?

Jay-Z: Hov!

Pete Wentz: Ok, Hov. Well, thanks for the memories. Even though they weren't so great. He tastes like you, but only sweeter.

Jay-Z: Who? I'm sweeter than your sister's Kool-Aid.

Hip-Hop Is Dead

Wentz opens the door. Standing outside waiting to enter is Kanye West. All three men break into smiles. They live happily ever after. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Links Presented By Link

Today's links are presented by Link, the hero of Legend of Zelda. I do have one question about Link though. Mainly, how come no one ever pointed out that for as tough as he pertains to be (what with his sharp sword and magic potions), dude is rocking a green mini-skirt and a pair of Uggs. Just sayin.

Nerd Litter Interviews yours truly as part of his Behind the Blog series. So if you ever wanted to learn more about my hate of Coldplay, my love of Woody Allen and the seedy details of my personal life, head there. Though, I cannot promise that the details are actually seedy.

The Angry Citizen sees the Hold Steady in NYC, admits he likes the show and undergoes an existential crisis over whether or not its actually okay for him to like them. Proving once again that its damn near impossible to see Craig Finn & Co. live and not come away impressed.

Kele from Bloc Party rips Jack White in an interview
claiming that "I was amazed when Jack White said it wasn't his job to be critical about foreign policy because he was being paid to be an entertainer.I thought that was treacherous because it's complicit with the capitalist society," he explained. Kele then went on to add, "I just finished freshman year Econ 101 at Vassar College and it was life-changed. This Karl Marx dude is like totally awesome."

Aquarium Drunkard has two tracks from the very solid, The Good, The Bad & the Queen record.

Billy Sunday eloquently explains Dipset at his XXL blog
: "The DipSet movement is like the Harlem Globetrotters of rap music. The Globetrotters never lose either because you can’t beat a fool at his own game. You just end up looking like a fool yourself." Well played, sir.

Speaking of the Dips, I'm sure most of you guys have already seen 50 Cent's diss video, and heard Cam's response.
Don't know if I'm the only one that feels this way, but this is the first hip-hop beef I've been interested in since Game/50 and perhaps Jay-Z/Nas. Granted, neither Cam nor 50 is anywhere close to as good as those guys. Then again, I've been chanting "Cuurrtiss!!!" all weekend. Dipset might not have good rappers but they're fantastically entertaining.

Thighs Wide Shut sees Justin Timberlake live. Leaves less than impressed, points out that Timberlame looks like the guy from Not Another Teen Movie.

Oceans Never Listen Compiles His 20 Favorite Records ever and predictably turns in an outstanding list.

Andrew Unterberger of Stylus turns in what might be my favorite blog post of the year thus far: an in-depth analysis of Coach Bobby Finstock from Teen Wolf.

Ace Cowboy analyzes the list of SXSW bands, discovers that "the list has four bands from three different countries with names based on the word Panda, there’s Child Abuse, Dead Child andand Holy Shit!, Lesbians on Ecstasy, and [his] personal favorite,
This Moment in Black History."

Vik at Biochemical Slang takes on Jay-Z and his apparent 2007 New Year's resolution to further whore himself to corporate America. He also posts an MP3 of EPMD's "Crossover." Awesome.

Blog to Check For:
Wake Your Daughter Up:
I'm not sure how I didn't know about these dudes until now (let's blame that on the white widow), but as far as hip-hop blogs go, I'm gonna' have to quote Nate Dogg and Warren G and say: "nobody does it better." A must bookmark for any fan of the genre.

Local Bandwatch: Radars to the Sky/Thailand

Today marks the debut of a new occasional column, the not-so-creatively titled, Local Band Watch. Its intent is to provide mini-snapshots of the myriad unsigned bands currently floating around the Los Angeles basin, in an effort to provide more fleshed out-coverage of the vibrant local scene. If you're looking for more in-depth analysis of other LA up-and-comers, You Set the Scene, Radio Free Silverlake and Kevin Bronson's LA Times Buzz Bands Blog are also highly recommended.

Radars to the Sky are some literate dudes. They list T.S. Eliot and Chopin as two of their main influences on their Myspace page, and one of their songs directly references "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The same Myspace page also quotes Flaubert. But while you'd expect a band so unabashedly intellectual to write songs bloated with self-indulgent wankery, their style is closer to nervous twitchy guitar pop in the vein of Modest Mouse, Pavement or Tapes N' Tapes.

Last Friday night at their EP release party at El Cid, the five-piece delivered a passionate and energetic performance to an approving crowd. Despite having just been together for approximately one year, Radars displayed a strong interplay together, delivering some fierce guitar riffs and rubbery propulsive bass lines that got the hipsters up and moving. Perhaps the highlight of the set came on "Long Walk Home" as Radars' lead singer and female keyboardist delivered some beautiful harmonies fitting of the high praise that local bloggers, Inflight at Night and Floating Away have already lavished on the track. With funky jammy guitar solos a major into their live show, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Radars soon develop a devoted local following.

MP3: Radars to the Sky-"Long Walk Home"

Radars to the Sky on Myspace

Thailand: Because America's Already Been Taken
As far as I can tell, none of the four members of Thailand are actually of Thai descent. Of course, I didn't take a survey, but hey, I'm going to go out on a limb here after seeing them play and examining the picture above. Oh you wacky hipsters and your hipster irony. Either way, Thailand are another local outfit that's been making some noise of late. Joe at Radio Free Silverlake has already declared himself a major fan of the band (read his interview with them here).

Playing the 10:00 slot before Radars, the band also turned in a taut and kinetic 45 minute set, full of shiny New Wave keyboards, booming drum hits and lead singer Marc Linquist's rich baritone. Seemingly aware that the neo-New Wave sound is already wearing thin, Thailand balance their polished 80s sound with bursts of Punk Rock energy, at times reminiscent of the Buzzcocks or The Thermals. The set was short, sweet and incredibly catchy. With their debut LP, Motorcade recently completed, it probably won't be long before the labels come hunting.

Thailand on Myspace

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Dies: A Nation Struggles to Cope

It is a sad day for America. The flag sits at half mast while a nation riven by ethnic, religious and political tension unites to cope with the shocking loss of Anna Nicole Smith, its preeminent former stripper turned Playboy Playmate turned obese reality television star. Indeed, our nation's mourning has manifested itself in various ways. In lieu of donations, her family has asked that spare silicone and peroxide be donated to the Anna Nicole Smith Memorial Fund, to teach underprivileged girls how to select themselves a billionaire Octagenarian. And millions have responded, once again showcasing the generosity of the American people.

Yet out of the countless scores affected by this unspeakable tragedy, the president of her fan club, Morris Van Kamp, of Skokie, Illinois, might be the most desolate, claiming that the loss of Smith has made life simply un-worth living.

"I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't drink. All I can do is sit here, in front of my computer, and stare at my Anna Nicole screen saver and think why her god? Why not me? Or why not Pamela Anderson?" Van Kamp said, blowing his noise with a tissue plucked from the box next to his computer. "The tabloids liked ripping on Anna, focusing on the negative things, like the time she married a walking corpse for the money, or the many times she talked about how she needed to 'fuck' in front of her teenage son, or even how she couldn't stop her poodle Sugar Pie from humping everything in the room. But what those people fail to mention is how hot she looked in her playboy video. (nsfw...via Goldenfiddle)
Pucker Up

While Van Kamp pointed to the routine humiliation inflicted on Smith by the tabloids, Betty Carter, a producer at Extra spoke out about the situation down at the magazine's Los Angeles-based headquarters.

"A lot of people believe we had it out for Anna, but that was far from reality. In fact, right now, down at headquarters, the staff are swathed in black, performing a candle-lit vigil, praying for her soul," Carter said solemnly, wiping a tear from her face. "This was the last thing we wanted for Anna Nicole. Reality TV stars don't grow on trees. And even if they did, no tree could produce anything so train-wreck entertaining as Anna Nicole....Now, if you'll excuse me. I have to go call Bobby Trendy for a quote."

Yet Nicole Smith die-hards and tabloid editors aren't the only ones in pain. Americans as far away as Baghdad are suffering from the loss of this national icon. In particular, Daniel Bradshaw, a colonel in the United States Army's 103rd Regiment, expressed his anguish at Smith's loss.

"It's not easy here in Baghdad. Today, alone I had to interrogate four suspected insurgents, dodge three roadside bombs and duck twice from sniper bullets," Bradshaw said. "But to come back to base and turn on the TV to see that the American people are uniting over Anna Nicole's death? Well that makes me want to keep fighting. The world must be made safe for our nation's most important domestic product: reality television programs full of silicone-chested scantily clad blond women. USA! USA! USA!"

Goodnight....Sweet Princess

Even President Bush expressed his regret at the death of his fellow Texan.

"Anna Nicole and I go way back. Back when I was a young man that hadn't found Jesus and hadn't yet given up Jim Beam, I used to watch her dance all around Houston. Heh Heh Heh," Bush said, with a chuckle and a smirk. "In fact, I introduced to her to J. Howard Marshall. Him and pop were buddies, back in their oil-baron days. Her death is a sad day for America and reminds everyone once again, not to mess with Texas. Perhaps this great nation can learn from tragedy and unite behind a cause that can make this nation great once again: cutting taxes on the rich."

Ultimately, despite the epic nature of this tragedy, even the most broken-up souls expressed hope for the future.

"While the nation will never be able to replace Anna Nicole, her death shouldn't be looked at as tragedy. Instead, it should be looked at as an affirmation of the American dream," Van Kamp said. "Where else can a stripper marry a man on the verge of death and go on to take half of his fortune, become a reality TV star and make millions of Americans fall in love with her. Where else can someone lacking in any and all discernible talent or intelligence become incredibly wealthy off the size of her breasts alone. Somewhere a little girl can go to sleep tonight, snug and safe in her bed, knowing that if Anna Nicole can do it, by god, so can she."