I have to tell you right now that I’m a full fledge Chicago girl. I was born and raised in that gorgeous city and even though I call Los Angeles my second home, my hometown always knows how to host a party. And it feels good to be back home for Lollapalooza. Ah Lolla, It’s always good to see you.
Now nothing makes me happier than when my hometown and second home collide. So Chicago, I would like to introduce you to some friends of mine from LA. Let’s show them a good time.
Foster The People
Oh you Foster boys with your pretty boy looks and catchy hooks. All your shows sell out and “Pumped Up Kicks” was clearly one of the biggest songs of the year. I don’t know what I look forward to seeing more, the hype or the crowd. Either way, Foster could prove to be one of the more interesting bands playing opening day.
Muller, who grew up in Brazil, has captured a sound so distinctly late 70‘s rock and roll that you don’t realize how much that sound is missed until you hear her music. Introduced to rock music at a young age by her aunts, Muller has been influenced by some of the most popular artists over the last 40 years. You can hear her influences in her music, but she’s managed to create her own voice while acknowledging those who helped her find it. The result is a sound that is new, yet could easily find its place in your vinyl collection amongst your Pretenders albums.
Baby It’s You | Van Muller
Muller has been involved in music since she was a child. She started singing in bars when she was just seven years old. Now she finds herself in New York City, living out the dream of working in music while learning that the music business can also be a cut throat business, especially in America. “You have to deal with all the pressure of being an artist in such a city where everybody wants to make it,” says Muller. “It [takes] discipline [and] commitment. [It] takes a lot more than just talent.”
Yellow Magic Orchestra are one of those bands that many people haven’t heard of, but would recognize the sound they helped create. YMO, along with Kraftwerk and Devo, were pioneers in bringing electronic sounds to popular music in the late 1970’s.
While Kraftwerk and Devo may be better known, it was YMO who experimented heavily with computers and electronic instruments, such as vocoders, and was the first to release an entire album that featured mostly samples and loops. Whatever your opinion is on electronic instruments, sampling and its use in popular music, YMO’s influence is undeniable in what is heard in rock, pop, hip hop and the dance music movements of today.
Sunday night saw Yellow Magic Orchestra back in the U.S. for the first time in more than three decades. Their Los Angeles show coincided with release of YMO, their new compilation album which came out earlier this month. YMO features songs from the band’s catalogue, remastered and hand picked by the band members themselves. Last night’s set at the Hollywood Bowl featured some of their better known songs reworked and played by live instruments. Guitars and brass instruments played along side synthesizers and computers brilliantly. It was a true fusion of old and new, traditional and experimental, classic and modern.
Though last night’s “Big In Japan Festival” also featured performances by a reunited Cibo Matto, a sonic heavy set by Buffalo Daughter, and even a guest spot by Yoko Ono, Yellow Magic Orchestra was truly deserving of their headline status, showing why they remain one of the most influential bands in experimental and popular music for over 30 years.
There’s nothing I appreciate more than music that makes me want to move and is delivered in a way that is different from the norm. Los Angeles’ Gina and The Eastern Block do just that. Their sound is a combination of heavy guitars, funky beats and fierce vocals that is very refreshing in the era of software only generated dance music. Industrial, tribal, 80‘s synth, glam rock and funk are channeled and give this band a sound larger than you could ever imagine.
Vocalist Gina Katon is my pop singer dream girl. Her vocals are raw and edgy, a nod to her rock and roll upbringing. Sure, she’s got the looks and the choreography down thanks to her dance roots, but don’t let the pop facade fool you. The girl can belt out a song better than most and she’ll shake her hips while lyrically flipping you off at the same time.
And then there’s the band. Drummer Marc Jordan and guitarist Todd Weinstock back Katon and bring the sound that will blow you out of the room. Nothing gets the rocker girl in me more excited than hearing heavy distorted guitar riffs being played along side killer beats made by a real drum kit. Blend in the electronic sounds and few backup dancers and what you get is a live performance that is sure to make your body move.
Gina and The Eastern Block have the potential of making a real mark in the electronica / indie / dance scene. They released their debut album “Little Villains” back in 2010, but I look forward to more from this electro- funkadelic trio. This is a band to keep an eye on and make room for on the dancefloor.
Gina and The Eastern Block finish their month long residency at The Roxy’s On The Rox this Thursday, June 30th.
Gina And The Eastern Block | Boom Boom On The Dancefloor