Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
Today it finally feels like winter here in the Canyon. Cold and grey, yet it’s so fucking dry up here. From such a warm winter, it’s gonna be “brown” spring.
The big news today is that the Armenians are on the march. Their protest to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the genocide Armenians suffered at the hands of the Turks in 1915 will likely shut the city down today. I can dig it and will gladly work from my garage office in the Canyon.
As it is, I’ve been super tired because this week it was my turn to volunteer to help direct traffic at Jonah’s school. They call it a “Kiss & Ride.” It’s cool, but we need to get up at 5:45pm to make it to school early.
Genocide vs. Kiss & Ride?
To be honest I had no idea who Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman, formerly of the Fleet Foxes) was until just a few weeks ago. A fellow concert photographer had posted an amazing photo of him in a Facebook group and said it was a fun shoot. So, I buy the CD (yes, sometimes I still buy CDs) brought it home and ended up leaving it on the kitchen countertop in my house. I have a four-month old baby and the record is called I Love You Honeybear. My wife comes home to find the CD and based on the title thinks it’s a children’s record, that is until she gets to track 6 which is called “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow.”
To make a long story short, she asks me about it and I tell her that I just got it and haven’t listened to it yet, but I think it’s some sort of hipster rock or something. He’s coming to play two sold out shows at the Fillmore in April, I tell her, and I want to check it out thinking that I am pretty tuned into the music scene and somehow missed this one. Even with a 7am flight to the Monsters of Rock Cruise in Miami happening the next day, I’m committed to seeing what all the buzz is about.
Simply put, it was remarkable. What I witnessed last week at the legendary Fillmore was easily the best show I have seen in 2015, and quite possibly one of the best shows ever. Artistry beyond artistry if you will, 50 shades of musical genius. Father John completely blew me away. He opened up with a swooning version of the title track “I Love You Honeybear” and then the songs and performance just kept getting better and better. I’m not sure Father John is capable of writing a bad song, but if he ever did hit a sour note, his stage presence made up for it. “I’m working hard up here folks,” he says to the crowd. Not in an egotistical way, but more of an “I fucking love to entertain this room” type of scenario.
PHOTOS: MANNY HEBRON | There was a buzz of French accents circulating The Echo Wednesday night. The Los Angeles hipster-French (and faux French) community, complete with striped sailor tops à la Godard’s new wave film Breathless, was in full attendance to support their newest electro pop sweetheart, Christine and the Queens.
The alter-ego of 26 year-old Heloise Letissier, Christine and the Queens took the stage ready to make her L.A. debut. Christine is in a fitted black suit flanked by two featured dancers—with their intricate choreography, it would be wrong to simply call them “back up.”
A crescendo of synth and bass fills the venue. The melody holds a sophistication that draws from the French noir classics. A pulsating rhythm leans ever so slightly behind the beat creating a sleek groove. There is energy of excitement to her playful interaction with the audience but an effortlessly cool vibe in Christine’s vocals. Her performance of “iT,” also the opening track to her English debut EP, “Saint Claude,” released the day prior via Neon Gold and Atlantic Records in the US, was sung as an arrangement of both English and French, like much of the record.
The runaway hit, “Tilted,” also acts as the centerpiece of the evening’s show. A quaint mid-tempo pop tune that is catchy as hell without being derivative, the song’s bouncy choreography quickly became a Christine and the Queens signature. Featuring detailed movements with isolated gestures and graceful weight shifting nuances.
UK rocker Scarlette channels classic piano goddesses on intimate video shoot for “Boy & Girl.”
We have the pleasure of premiering Scarlette’s live performance of “Boy & Girl,” showcasing the sultry undercurrents within the cosmic rock-pop ballad. It’s a stripped down version of the track appearing on her newest release, Attack of the 6ft Woman—an album composed of authentic brash and stadium-friendly songs.
Scarlette’s approach is quite refreshing—her spacious metaphors and earthy songwriting conjuring up the great female songstresses of the early ’90s. The singer-songwriter has also been hard on the grind this year with supporting slots for Lisa Stansfield, Caro Emerald, Mike & The Mechanics, and Roachford. She recently clenched an appearance on the critically acclaimed Passport Approved tour alongside New Beat Fund, Buffalo Sunn, These Reigning Days, and Forest Blakk.
Attack of the 6ft Woman is in stores now via Starfisch Records.
Scarlette Official | Facebook | Twitter
“We never had a record player in the house when I was a kid even though my dad had an extensive collection.”
“By the time he got two kids I think he swapped the turntable for a 1984 Apple Macintosh so he could run his business. To get my hands on some 180 gram we’d have to go round to my grandpa’s. He had quite a few records from the Golden Age of Hollywood—a lot of musicals and film soundtracks. Really beautifully arranged music and of course really well recorded and performed.
But it wasn’t exactly what I liked to listen to as a bored kid on a grey Sunday afternoon lunch in York. As a kid I remember having a plastic record player that used a music box system to play different songs. I used to love it. I can still hear the version of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
The two Saturdays at the Jazz Fest are the most popular days and the organizers capitalize on the fact by bringing in the most popular bands creating a schedule rivaling any festival in the world. Saturday, April 25 is no exception with The Who, John Legend, and Ryan Adams facing off against Kenny Garrett and Robert Cray on the biggest stages. And that’s not even mentioning the local acts. The full lineup is here.
One of the tricks to enjoying the most crowded days at Jazz Fest is to get there early so you beat the lines for food and everything else. Start your day with Tank and the Bangas. This young funky soul band from New Orleans has been getting a lot of well-deserved love from TVD. Check them out for yourself.
Get yourself over to the Congo Square stage for 12:30 PM for Tony Hall and the Soul Stars Tribute to James Brown. Hall, who currently plays bass, guitar, and sings in Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, has been leading this all-star tribute for the past eight years to celebrate the birthday of the Godfather of Soul.
Just how dumb can you be and still make it big in the rock biz? To find the answer you need look to either Foreigner or Bad Company, and I lack the intestinal fortitude it would require to examine the former. Both bands achieved fame and fortune via songs with IQs (providing songs could have IQs) lower than that of your average ape, so there’s your answer right there. You can be dumb as a stump, and still make enough moolah to drive your Jaguar on a whim into your swimming pool, even though Jaguars don’t know how to swim.
But is dumb necessarily a bad thing? I love Bachman Turner Overdrive and they’d probably be the first three pupils eliminated in a second grade spelling bee. (Actually Slade would precede them, and I love Slade too.) There are rockers much smarter than any of the bands listed above, and their intelligence—take Rush or Bad Religion for example—just gets in their way. They’re just smart enough to be pretentious, which in turn should tip you off to exactly how stupid they really are.
So maybe dumb doesn’t necessarily translate as insufferable, as Bad Company proved during its career spent producing crudely simplistic hard rock songs that could have been performed by troglodytes playing rocks. It mattered not a whit that they were dumb, as in dumb as a thumb. Why, lead singer Paul Rodgers concedes in “Runnin’ With the Pack” that his girlfriend wants to keep him in a cage, presumably to prevent him from inadvertently doing harm to himself or others.
‘Don’t knock Record Store Day,’ say indie retailers: A number of independent record shops have leapt to the defence of Record Store Day following criticism that it is hurting small labels…
Record Store Day Sets Twelve-Year Sales High for Indies: “Record Store Day 2015 was once again a triumph, according to merchants who participated in the event and data supplied by Nielsen Music…”
Metallica Cassette Was Second Best Seller For Record Store Day: Metallica’s special cassette release for Record Store Day was the second biggest selling item on the day last weekend.
Beyond Record Store Day: Digging Up Some Choice Used Americana Vinyl
Pitch Shift: 10 records that sound incredible at the wrong speed: DJs have long experimented with the speeds of their records to add a little bit of personality to their sets…
Vinyl gold: What are the world’s ten most valuable records? Avid record collectors will happily pay through the nose for the right piece of rare vinyl. But how much is their upper limit and what would they be buying?
Vinyl Presses Struggle to Keep up with the Resurgent Demand for Records: Only a handful of pressing plants can make records in the U.S. and their machinery is finicky
Vinyl revival: Q&A – Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company: Following the recent launch of a top 40 vinyl singles and albums chart, Alex Bell caught up with the boss of the Official Charts Company
Head to pop-up for the record: “The third BedPop Record Shop is taking place in The Lane bar, in Castle Quay, and promises a festival vibe with musical entertainment and an official beer…”
“I’m really big into records—I have a lot of records—I like to listen to an album as a whole piece. That may be an old fashioned idea, but there’s definitely a cult of people that really still listen to music that way,” Sean Rowe told us in 2012.
“When I listen to music, I’m always hit by the sound of it first and then I think it’s great because if there’s real substance there, on the fifth listen, you start to dig a little bit deeper. A lot of my favorite music is like that—there’s so much depth to it, however you want to drag yourself into it a million different ways. I love music like that.”
Fast forward to 2015 and Rowe’s returned with Her Songs—his wholly unique and evocative take on 6 tracks from some of his favorite musicians who just happen to be female—including Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Sade, Cat Power, and Regina Spektor. We’re delighted to unveil the official video for Rowe’s cover of Feist’s “Let It Die,” a thoughtful rumination on turning the proverbial page. And digging a bit deeper.
Her Songs arrives in stores on April 28 via ANTI- Records.
Sean Rowe Facebook | Twitter
PHOTO: ANTHONY ST. JAMES
The culmination of festival season is upon us! The ten-day run that is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The 2015 edition has something for everyone. Here are our picks for opening day at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. The full schedule is here.
Start your day off early with Earphunk. This jamming band from New Orleans tours extensively bringing sterling electric guitar work and occasionally goofy stage antics to crowds around the country. With two singers and two separate vocal styles, they bring to mind a funkier Grateful Dead complete with percolating organ work.
I have not seen Paul Sanchez’s new band Minimum Rage yet, but I love the name. He is also presenting special guests, the Write Brothers, during his set. This songwriting supergroup features Sanchez alongside Spencer Bohren, Alex McMurray, and Jim McCormick. Special insider’s note—the rhythm section for the Write Brothers is none other than Andre Bohren (Spencer’s son—but you knew that) on drums and Dave Pomerleau on bass. Those are two of the Dirty Notes!
Trumpeter Maurice Brown is in town to play with the Tedeshi Trucks Band today. He also will be appearing with his own band in the Jazz Tent at 1:30 PM. This is an addition to the original release of the cubes.