Author Archives: Nicole Poulos

TVD Live Shots: Girlschool 2018,

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Artists, and musicians in particular, have always been at the forefront of using their mediums as a means for change and tools to fight oppression. In the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, a large ominous cloud hangs over us in the shape of a question mark, punctuating the sentence, “What’s next?” How do we keep these conversations going and funnel them into actual change?

In its third year, the three-day Girlschool festival spearheaded by Anna Bulbrook (the Airborne Toxic Event, band member; Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Beyoncé, Vampire Weekend, recording violinist) served as a vision of that future. It’s a level and an inclusive playing field where artists mix with fans, parents bring their kids, and all are welcome—men, women, non-binary, and all gender identifying persons.

The Girlschool festival has indeed expanded to be a platform for not only women, but for all types of disenfranchised groups and communities, and the panels this year skewed more political with topics focused on activism. In addition to artists and journalists, panels featured an array of unique voices—from civil rights activist Ashlee Marie Preston, poet Shauna Barbosa, and a keynote talk by punk rock pioneer and Sleater-Kinney founding member, Carrie Brownstein.

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TVD Tested & Approved: Los Angeles’ Resident LA

PHOTOS: MATT DRAPER | TVD LA had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Larry Little (co-founder) and Duncan Smith (talent buyer) of Resident LA, our soon to be new favorite venue and watering hole located in the Arts District in downtown LA.

On our first visit we were so impressed with the space and the atmosphere these two gentlemen have created—an incredible outdoor environment which boasts an actual beer garden and their creative music programming—we just had to get the inside track on the methods behind their mad genius.

Downtown LA seems to have had resurgence in live music in the past two years with several newly renovated spaces opening, showcasing both local and national acts. Why now, why this neighborhood?

The city just keeps expanding east in terms of nightlife, mostly because artists generally live where rents are cheaper—and so it’s gone from Echo Park to Highland Park to now hitting places like Boyle Heights. The Arts District has been opening up and adding not only residential units and artist work spaces, but bars, restaurants, and retail by the very nature of the old warehouse spaces that line its streets. It was only a matter of time before people started populating the neighborhood.

Our partners Tim and Bridget have owned and have lived in our building since 2000, and we all just love its inside/outside options and felt it was perfect for a venue and beer garden. We wanted to create a new option for this neighborhood in a 200+ capacity room that allows us to take chances on artists at early stages and support the arts.

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TVD Live Shots: Grace Potter at the Fonda Theatre, 8/14

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Grace Potter sauntered on stage in hot pants and a sparkly cape, strapped with a flying V—the very embodiment of a rockstar.

We spent Grace Potter’s record release day with the woman herself, celebrating her ascent as the queen of modern disco with her new album, Midnight. Potter’s debut solo record displays her finely tuned skill for songcraft and places a pop sheen atop her rock and Americana gumbo.

Grace’s live show is also a reflection of someone who is a true master of her craft. The woman has been touring for 10 years which has made her a performer who melts both minds and hearts. She’s explosive and there is no greater feeling and nothing more contagious than seeing her lost in the music—the moment where the spirit takes over. Grace had many of these moments throughout the show at the Fonda Theatre last Friday evening which spread to her adoring crowd, inducing dancing, shaking and complete abandon.

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TVD Live Shots: HONEYHONEY at the
El Rey Theatre, 7/1

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Although devoid of a country radio station, LA has always fostered a thriving scene for twang-leaning artists and singer-songwriters. From the Laurel Canyon days of the 1960s to the current Beachwood Canyon scene, HONEYHONEY wonderfully carry this torch.

We were delighted to co-present along with our friends at LA’s Goldenvoice, the duo of Ben Jaffe and Suzanne Santo at the El Rey on July 1. Suzanne and Ben are an unexpected tour de force with banjo driven songs like “Ohio”—which instigated an audience sing along—to the plaintive heart tugger, “You and I.”

The duo’s chemistry and the ease of their musical exchange on stage is that of seasoned performers and masters of their craft. HONEYHONEY is currently on tour supporting their new album, 3and we heartily endorse lending an ear. (Live, and on vinyl.)

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TVD Live: Bootstraps, Motopony, Jon DeRosa at the Troubadour, 6/18

PHOTOS: CHAD ELDER | Setting the tone for the evening at the Troubadour last Thursday was Los Angeles new comer Jon DeRosa.

My favorite part of this show and DeRosa’s music in general is that it’s unexpected. We all judge a book by its cover and from staring at DeRosa on stage you start to wonder if he is a lost member of the Source Family or if he just rode in on a Harley from Sturges. But as the band starts, DeRosa’s music conjures the crooning spirits of yesteryear such as Perry Como and Roy Orbison—enveloped by ghostly orchestration with David Lynch as puppet master. Definitely NOT what is anticipated by the book’s cover.

The music is both vintage and futuristic and although categorized as “pop,” DeRosa is in a genre all his own and it’s spellbinding. DeRosa held the audience’s captive attention for six beautiful songs, the same way a spiritual leader would command the attention of his congregation. Highlights include the dreamy, “Fool’s Razor” and gorgeous duet “Dancing in a Dream,” which on DeRosa’s album Black Halo features Carina Round. DeRosa closed his set with the eerier “High & Lonely,” gently taking the audience to another realm—not quote earth and not quite space—but somewhere in between.

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TVD Live: Spoon at the Wiltern, 5/30

PHOTOS: CHAD ELDER | Maintaining and operating at a high level of greatness is not an easy thing to do. Especially in a creative field. This is one of the many things that has made Spoon stand out since they first started releasing music 20 years ago—they are consistently fantastic.

Spoon has been performing and creating music at a very high level and are one of those indie bands you can’t file into a “sounds like this” category. Okay, yes I know Spoon has influences but they have a sound that is distinctly theirs, led by accidental rock star Britt Daniel and the band’s driving but subtle keys and guitar textures.

It has been four years in between albums for this band—a lifetime in our world of one hour news cycles and 140 character attention spans, but it was worth the wait. I don’t think I ever will understand the idea of “constant stream of content” and that artists should be consistently releasing music. Constantly creating, yes…releasing, no. I think of Spoon, especially with this stellar last album They Want My Soul, as that friend that we all have who doesn’t reveal a lot but when they do it’s always pearls of wisdom. Who cares if you are talking if you are just talking to make noise?

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TVD Recommends: A Winged Victory for the Sullen at the El Rey, 4/5

TVD LA had an opportunity to chat with A Winged Victory for the Sullen, the ambient duo consisting of Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie. Their latest project is the score for ATOMOS, a dance composition for famed choreographer Wayne McGregor (Random Dance, the London Ballet, and that guy Thom Yorke).

A Winged Victory for the Sullen brings this score to the El Rey on Sunday, April 5th.

We can assume writing for both dance and film involve telling a story. How is the approach for scoring for dance different from your work scoring for films?

The history of dance and music together is much older and really developed together—it’s very natural in the sense that music comes first and the choreography comes after. You have lots of images and concepts in your head, but it’s really close to writing for yourself. Film seems to have confines as you are locked into edits and timing—it’s really two different ways to work. Both have the object of telling a story, but dance is something that is movable and happens in the moment, and film is something carved out in time.

This process is incredibly unique. Since choreography and dance tend to be dictated by the music, did the movement of the dancers come to mind or have an effect on the movement of the music? Did you see clips, did you send the dancers demos?

We started working on the score on our own with just some images and videos that Wayne McGregor sent us. About half way through the process we went to London to his studio to see what he was creating. We really could not imagine how someone would dance to our music, so the biggest inspiration was how well it worked. It just made us more confident that we were on the right path. The whole dance piece is built in a kind of modular way with these little scenes that could be put together or separated …much like atoms.

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The Silent Comedy refinds Faults with
April in-store series

TVD LA recently chatted with The Silent Comedy’s Joshua Zimmerman to discuss the reissue of their debut album Common Faults, which is being pressed to vinyl for the very first time. 2015 also marks the 5th anniversary of the release, so to celebrate they’ve remixed the album and will be taking the vinyl on the road playing shows in select record stores throughout California.

The vinyl is available for pre-order now and the album will also be released digitally on April 14th.

You call Common Faults a transitional album that brought the band into their current sound. Can you elaborate on that? What was it in the writing and recording of this record that made you guys change the sonic direction of the band? Was the change intentional when going into this project or did it happen organically?

The process of transition in the band’s sound happened naturally over the course of making Common Faults. We started to experiment with how to capture a more energetic sound, and focused less on the acoustic songs that had made up our fledging recordings before that. Many of these songs developed from the live show, so these recording sessions were the first time we were analyzing parts, and realizing that the band would benefit for a more organized writing process. It took a while for these lessons to be fully assimilated, but you can see the product of lessons learned from making Common Faults in our new recordings.

Can you tell our readers the production process of this reissue and what you did to change the sound of the album?

One of the regrets we had about Common Faults was that we didn’t have sufficient time or resources to mix the album. We had so little money that my brother Jeremiah and I ended up mixing it ourselves in a very short amount of time. There are years of experience that a professional mixer brings to the process that we simply didn’t have.

For the reissue, we turned the raw tracks over to the extremely talented and accomplished Brian Malouf, who mixed our last couple of projects. Brian took the tracks and gave them a richness that hadn’t been present before. The original version of Common Faults was a little flat, and the remixed songs have a depth and clarity that brings them closer to our original vision.

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TVD Live: My Goodness and Crash Kings at the Satellite, 1/29

PHOTOS: CHAD ELDER | We know all too well what happens with musicians from Seattle left to their devices in a place that’s raining and grey for over half the year—they’re stuck inside. And what do you do inside? Listen to a lot of records and play a lot of music.

The darkness and the dreary weather and seclusion of the indoors has made Seattle a breeding ground for loud, heavy, weird—and awesome. My Goodness, themselves from Seattle have that heaviness, but don’t sound quintessentially of Seattle. Their sound is an almost perfect melding of blues, metal, and simple but hard hitting punk chords—yet there is nothing slouchy here…the band is very, very tight.

My Goodness pulls off the delicate balance of paying a small homage to their influences, and sounding completely different at the same time. Although these genres are often interchangeable and have been stirred and shaken by the best music mixologists (we salute you Mr. Jack White) you have never heard anything quite like this. These guys deliver live like a true hardcore band, unrelenting and driving from song to song where you can’t look away, sneak to the restroom, or even talk to you friend standing next to you about what a great show it is, but at the same time I could take my most sensitive of friends who prefer seeing music in a VIP box at a stadium or a nice seated theatre, and they wouldn’t be turned off.

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TVD Recommends: Dengue Fever at the Echoplex, 2/5

One of the finer things about Los Angeles is the abundance of culture. LA is a melting pot of people, few of whom are from here. Having such a rich cross-section of cultures translates into incredible food—and great music.

Dengue Fever is a cross-section not only of cultures but of eras. The band’s sound is a take on ’60s era Cambodian psychedelic pop, a little Bollywood, and surf rock played by a group of alt rockers and fronted by former wedding singer and the lone Cambodian, Chhom Nimol. If this doesn’t excite you or have you curious, you need to get your pulse checked.

Nimol sings in her native tongue (note to you—buy the record to read the lyrics) with her vocals both sinuous and sensual—it’s world music for the cool kids.

This week the band celebrates the release of their sixth album, The Deepest Lake on their own label, Tuk Tuk. This hometown show tonight at the Echoplex will not only be a worldly delight, but the crowd is bound to be refreshingly diverse as the headliner’s sound.

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