Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
There’s something about the quality of the darkness. Certainly tonight could not be as dark as the darkest nights of winter?
The second half of October is a magical time in California. While the east coast has the color of the changing seasons, the west coast has the “light.” Maybe it’s just me getting used to the transition from the westerly summertime sunsets to a quicker nightfall, but the nights this time of year seem darker.
And as all hallows rolls into the canyon, the psychedelic creatures of the night begin to emerge. It’s a wonderful time to have a party of the psychedelic kind, and for the next two weekends southern California is hosting two Psych Fests.
Einar Stray Orchestra are a group of young, talented musicians from Norway. While they are still not very well-known in their country, they are considered a big name in Germany. They are currently on their European tour and headlining for the first time in London at The Islington. Their performances are raw—no synthetics, no backing tracks—just five singers and musicians, accompanied by their instruments.
What’s so special about them is how comfortable they are on stage. Most of the band performs with their shoes off, sitting barefoot, while playing beautiful music. Unlike other artists, their music sounds exactly the same live as it does in the album—maybe even better— and they care about giving their audience a performance that showcases their skills and what they’ve worked so hard to accomplish. If you’re not familiar with their music, it’s about time you check them out.
Before their performance, I sat down at the pub to chat with three out of five members of the band—Ofelia Østrem Ossum (cello/vocals), Simen Aasen (bass guitar/vocals), and front man Einar Stray (piano/guitar/vocals). Their new album, Politricks, came out in the UK on the same day as the gig. While the album features beautifully performed songs, they discuss harsh topics such as the loss of innocence, war, and the challenges of religion.
“I guess my earliest memory of vinyl began as a child. My father was a toy sculptor and made some of the most well-known action figures—Spawn, Batman figures, and so many more. My dad would work his best when accompanied by a record or cassette player.”
“Some of the vinyl he would spin wasBruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I have fond memories of hanging out with my dad in his studio, listening to music with him. I guess that was when I developed my love for music.
Beyond that, I did not get into buying my own vinyl for the longest time. I lived in an age of CDs and MP3s. I remember the first couple of CDs I bought. The first one was Dude Ranch by Blink 182 and the second, the Pokemon movie soundtrack. And since then, I have grown to love Sonic Youth, Electric Wizard, and Ty Segall. For the longest time music was merely a sonic thing for me. I would listen to songs to dissect them and really understand the songs themselves. I wasn’t really concerned about the platform I was listening to it on.
It’s Rocktober and we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see spaced out rockers White Denim at the Fonda on Tuesday, October 21—along with a show poster and a signed vinyl copy of Corsicana Lemonade. Not bad, hm?
This mind bending band continues to morph and change their sound, yet keeping one thing a constant—insanely good rock n’roll. This album is the perfect blend of the out-there-kitchen-sink feel of Fits, with the more tightly produced D.
The term “jam band” has become a dirty word in certain circles—ok, pretty much every circle outside of the jam band community—but what the term refers to is simply experimentation. What you hear on a White Denim album will be stretched, twisted, and morphed into a very different orchestration within a live show. This is a group of gentlemen with a complete mastery of their instruments who are not afraid to take liberties, although there’s no “noodling for noodling’s sake” in their set—guitar solos, yes—noodling, no.
Above all, White Denim is simply a guitar driven rock and roll band, and they could be the band that saves the term “jam band” from drowning in the granola.
Incoherent hushed vocals, tape hiss, and high-pitched feedback? I’ll leave it up to you to decide if “Esotro” by Lucrecia Dalt is music or nonsensical audio collage.
Around the two-minute mark the song does coagulate into a lo-fi spaghetti western riff on the Pong theme but remains unnervingly avant-garde in its approach to “normal” song structure. This signature jerky minimalism is attributed to the native Columbian’s travels across Spain and Germany, attempting to isolate certain moments in time and weave them into her personal musical tapestry.
Dalt’s new EP, entitled “EP,” explores similar non-musical tones, patterns, and prototypes. A surprisingly inventive product that places more emphasis on atmosphere than melody or arrangement. The haunting vocals and bass driven minimalism of her tunes seem to be the one linchpin holding it all together—an approach that lends some palpable weight to the enveloping clouds of white noise.
Winter Circle Productions and the Joy Theater present the first installment of this free monthly event series, which is an effort to build and showcase the emerging contemporary culture of New Orleans.
Besides HFTRR, This is NOLA will feature performances by Coyotes, the Deslondes, DJ OttO, visual art installations, street food, and craft cocktails that represent the city’s more progressive side.
The motivation for launching This is NOLA came from a lack of centralized support for the contemporary arts, cocktail, and culinary scenes in New Orleans.
While the city continues to support and preserve the traditional local culture for which New Orleans is known and loved around the world, very little is being done to cultivate and capitalize on the emerging, progressive set of New Orleans music, art, and hospitality. This is NOLA is meant to trumpet this cause and share these bands, chefs, artists, and mixologists with the local New Orleans community.
I love microwaveable serving pouch. I love box of mac and cheese. But most of all I love Can. Formed in Cologne in 1968, Can—which was one of the first Krautrock bands and in my opinion the best—integrated psychedelic, experimental, and avant-garde influences into its great and hypnotically raucous music. Can’s methods were radical—you’ve got to love a band that spent 6 hours without a break spontaneously improvising “Yoo Doo Right” in the studio, only to pare it down to 20 minutes for release on vinyl. Hell, I don’t think even the Grateful ever played for six hours straight. Can dubbed such spontaneous jams “instant compositions,” and I beg to differ. Six hours is not instant. Soup is instant. Six hours is almost a goddamn workday. Hell, if it took six hours to heat soup, I’d starve to death.
Most people consider Can’s golden years to be those when the great Damo Suzuki—whom the band discovered busking outside a Munich café and was playing with them live that same night—was the vocalist. It was during these years that Can released such legendary LPs as 1971’s Tago Mago, 1972’s Ege Bamyasi, and 1973’s Future Days. I love that trio dearly, but have always had a soft spot in my heart for Delay 1968, which was supposed to be the band’s debut album and would have been the band’s debut album had they been able to find a single record label willing to so much as touch it, even while wearing biohazard gloves. (It wasn’t released until 1981, by Spoon Records.) Often labeled a compilation album, or an album of outtakes, Can bassist and recording engineer Holger Czukay has gone on record as saying Delay 1968 was intended to be Can’s first LP and bore the title Prepared to Meet Thy PNOOM.
My reasons for loving Delay 1968 have much to do with the band’s first vocalist, the American sculptor Malcolm Mooney. Mooney’s hoarse vocals, mad rants, and odd utterances added an element of derangement to Can’s often repetitious and strange songs, which are less propulsive and Autobahn-friendly, and often bring to mind German Captain Beefheart. And Mooney wasn’t just faking those lunatic vocals—following the release of Can’s proper debut, 1969’s Monster Movie, he returned to the United States, after receiving a strong recommendation to do so by his psychiatrist. Evidently he wouldn’t stop shouting, “Upstairs, downstairs,” which I imagine must have gotten on his fellow band mates’ nerves. In any event he left, and didn’t rejoin Can until 1989, when he returned to assume vocal duties for the band’s Rite Time LP.
Placebo played a triumphant show to a packed house at the Fillmore Silver Spring last Thursday evening and the band proved once more that they have the staying power to span multiple generations—and musical climates.
Formed in 1994 in London, Placebo were particularly well received all throughout Europe and eventually bled their way to the airwaves in the States, offering some relief from our musical crisis of creativity at the time—and they sound fresh even now.
Placebo uniquely utilizes elements of electronic music combined with explosive guitar parts and harmonic vocals which has garnered the band an almost cult-like following. At their show on Thursday the band was on top of their game and even sounded invigorated.
This year for its fifth anniversary, Culture Collide, “a convergence of inspiration,” will not only be invading our fair city but also our sister to the north, San Francisco, as well as New York City with a series of stages and even more bands than years prior.
The festival’s name reflects its international line up and the bookers have searched far and wide to bring some of the most interesting underground scenes from around the globe to converge in one arena. It’s a rock ‘n’roll United Nations—and these are but a few of the bands we have our sights set upon.
MØ – 10:30PM at The Echoplex
There is something in the water in Scandinavia that is turning out perfecto electropop. I do love these songs and although some of MØ’s album can be thrown into the indistinguishable electronic pop pile—there is LIVE music going on here, including a horn section, which gives anyone an automatic 7, sight unseen in my book.
I have never seen her live, but anyone who can rock a side ponytail, a sports bra, and leggings, has a horn section, and is known to crowd surf on a regular basis may catapult themselves to an 8.5—sight unseen.
For the at least the next three Thursdays, the world’s only guitarpist will be performing solo at Chickie Wah Wah from 6-8 PM.
DeGruy is best known around town for performances with various guitar ensembles including Twangorama, but his solo performances place him in another musical dimension because of his instrument. The guitarp is a custom contraption which features a seven-string guitar with a ten-string high register harp located beneath the standard strings where a pick guard might usually be placed.
There is no separation between the guitar and harp parts, enabling the right hand to do a 17-string arpeggio. Though DuGruy generally eschews loud playing, he can make quite a racket with this instrument.