Thursday, December 31, 2009

Live Video of "Flipside" by Death House Chaplain

If you missed the show on Tuesday night, you missed a real barn burner! Here's a video of the song "Flipside" so you can pretend you were there!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Albums of the Year 2009

10. Worker Bee Tangler I love a record that's moody, and this bay area quartet has released a moody masterpiece. At times confounding, the hooks peek out from behind reverb-ed, plucked guitars and barren soundscapes. All the while we are lead through a lyrical nightmare that's at once fucked-up fairy tale and inner examination by Evan's smooth baritone. I think ultimately Worker Bee has a better record in them, but Tangler is a fantastic debut.

9. Akron/Family Set 'em Wild, Set 'em Free The way in which this record opens with the mesmerizing track "Everyone Is Guilty" to the short, sweet closer "Last Year," Akron/Family continually surprises in all the right ways. There may be a bit more freak folk, Animal Collective-ness than I usually prefer, but they tend to do it in a manner that combines those influences with old fashion rock and roll and sometimes a noisy freak out.

8. Richard Swift The Atlantic Ocean Grossly under-appreciated, Swift released a record every bit as good (if not better) than his previous two efforts. Sure, I have a soft spot for the guy, he sang at my wedding and played on my records, but hell, I've never liked 70s pop as much as when Swift does it. This album is packed from start to finish with tasteful, warm jams. And what Swift sometimes lacks in electricity he makes up for in swagger.

7. Black Mountain In The Future While it may be all the rage to sound like you are from another time, Black Mountain sound like they're from another rock dimension. The riffs sound as fresh and vital as they did when Led Zep was copping them off old Delta Blues artists, and the male female vocal delivery works especially well for them. The air-drums and air-guitar I am guilty of when I listen to this record should be enough to properly shame me, but I keep dropping the needle over and over. Let the judgers be damned!

6. Sunny Day Real Estate LP2 Reissue A record that was first released in 1995 is every bit as good today. This is my second favorite record of all time, hugely influential on my musical taste and playing. This remastered version includes some awesome bonus material that was previously somewhat difficult to find, plus very informative liner notes about the making of the record. The band was breaking up at the time of this recording and you can hear it in the way the songs disjointedly fall together before blowing apart. Jeremy Egnik's voice is a powerful instrument while the bass playing by Nate Mendel carries the melodies of the songs. A tour de force.

5. Brand New Daisy Brand New is certainly a guilty pleasure, but why should they be? Their newest record sounds ferocious, thanks to a searing mix by D Sardy. Sure, their lyrical content and delivery is soaked in sad sack emo self deprecation, but everyone needs to be reminded what it feels like to be 16 every now and again. Brand New just happen to do that better than anyone else out there.

4. Timber Timbre S/T Man, this guys has a strange and hypnotic way of putting together a folk song. His voice sounds like Randy Newman on cough syrup, his imagery recalls backwoods spirituals and his vibe is all muted organs, drums, and the occasional choir backing him up. This was the biggest surprise album of the year.

3. David Bazan Curse Your Branches Until this release, I was all but sure David Bazan's best records were behind him. An introspective turn in his lyrics and a mastery of melody has shown me I was absolutely wrong. Time will tell whether this album is his best ever, but for my money this year it didn't get much better. As a listener the album is at once painfully voyeuristic and heartbreakingly hopeful. It's a journey worth taking again and again.

2. Grizzly Bear Veckatimest The best parts of the Beach Boys and the best parts of symphonic bedroom pop, Grizzly Bear made a streamlined version of 2006's Yellow House. It's their first record written ad recorded like a band and the results are dazzling. Both singers brought intricate and addicting songs to the table, while producer Chris Bear gets all the right performances out of them. Grizzly Bear has the unique ability to travel in a variety of sonic trajectories simultaneously while remaining a cohesive unit. A triumphant statement from an important band.

1. Kissing Cousins Pillar of Salt Some may cry foul, but this is still my favorite record of 2009. POS sounds like a demon horde putting on choir robes and singing break up songs disguised as nursery rhymes accompanied by Black Sabbath. It sounds like cocaine without the price tag, like whiskey without the hangover, like pot without the munchies. POS is a desperate, haunting record, filled with yearning and invocation. If you don't own this on vinyl and you consider yourself a fan of music, shame on you. It's timeless; it sounds hyper modern and lo fi 60s without really sounding like either. The bass playing by Sean Stentz and the vocal performances by Heather and Kara stun me with their urgency. Produced by Richard Swift and recorded live directly to 8 track tape in two days this album is an instant classic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chain Letter Author's Jams We Enjoyed In 2009

I've compiled some jams that at one time or another Heather and I were really into this year. Ultimately they are all from albums where I only choose to listen to this particular song and maybe a couple of others. The albums aren't bad, per se, but they didn't make the year end best of list I'll be posting tomorrow. I've chosen to omit songs that are from my favorite albums of the year to inspire a bit more variety on each list.

"Out On A Limb" -- Faunts from the album Feel. Love. Thinking. Of. This is a song that I wish I wrote, that I could write. The interlocking guitar interplay combined with the forward momentum of the rhythm section (even though I'm pretty sure it's a drum machine) make this song sound as if it is always rolling over on itself. The title track to this record is also insanely catchy.

"Spaceships" -- Tweak Bird from Reservations. I had a hot minute with this band and this is the song I still return to. A slow, dirge-y 6/8 time signature filled with monster riffs and mouse vocals.

"Future Primative" -- Papercuts from You Can Have What You Want. This song is all about the opening muted bass line and the musical chorus hook that stays in my head for weeks at a time.

"Blood Bank" -- Bon Iver from the Blood Bank EP. Bon Iver followed up my favorite album of 2008 with this single. It embodies everything I love about this band. Simple, haunting and beautifully melancholy.

"Die Slow" -- Health from Get Color. It was difficult for me to put this song on today's list because the album is one of my favorite albums of 2009. But this song was the reason I love the record. I am addicted to this jam. It's probably my favorite song of the year.

"Rolling Sea" -- Vetiver from Tight Knit. I bought this record on the strength of it's opening song. A gorgeous melody played on acoustic guitar with lyrics that make me instantly nostalgic for a past I never had.

"God Damn Best" -- French Miami S/T. Wow. We played with this band once this year and they absolutely burnt the place down. Ultimately this album tends to be a bit monochromatic, but this bombastic tune is unstoppable.

"Fathom" -- Russian Circles from Geneva. Good god did this song inspire some instrumental post rock! From the opening sounds of a demon orchestra tuning up to the punishing melody hook that continues to return before breaking apart into a number of fascinating tangents, this song has it all for the Explosions/Mogwai/Jesu fan.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Collective Weekly Show + News Update

Mondays in the new year I will be updating you on the weekly happenings of the Chain Letter family in addition to my daily post. Tomorrow I will discuss my favorite songs of 2009, followed by my favorite albums of 2009 on Wednesday. We will return to our regular posting schedule Monday January 4th.

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 29th: Death House Chaplain 9pm & Shirley Rolls 11pm @ Spaceland 5$ 1717 Silver Lake Blvd 90026.

Wednesday December 30th: Yikes! A Lion! @ Old Towne Pub Pasadena 9pm

Thursday December 31st (New Years Eve): The Monolators w/ Aushua Le Switch & Henry Clay People @ Spaceland. 10$ advance 12$ door

Wednesday January 6th: Kissing Cousins and Twilight Sleep @ Pershing Square for Spaceland on Ice 8pm FREE!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Lie of Christmas

I was on the phone today with a friend of mine discussing a very difficult, conflicting issue and I got to thinking, does anyone truly think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year? It seems the holidays, while bringing out the best on the surface--lights, decorations, presents, fatty delicious foods--also cultivate a culture of depression, guilt and loneliness.

This makes me incredibly sad. I was blessed to grow up in a high functioning home with many holiday traditions championed by my grandparents. As a kid, it seemed unfathomable to be depressed around Christmas. But as I got older and met people like my friend who's parents past away at a young age, I learned that the holidays are the time of year when old wounds surface most.

I wish there were a formula I could post or a recipe for wellness I could pass on to my friends that are hurting in this season. It breaks my heart to know you're missing a loved one who passed away this year, or feeling the sting of loneliness upon being separated from a spouse or a long time friend, or experiencing the crushing weight of failure in some aspect of your life. It's going to have to be enough to write that you are all in our thoughts and we wish you a fullness and wholeness unmatched by previous holiday seasons. From all of us at Chain Letter Collective, happy holidays. We love you. We'll see you on the other side.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Music Tuesday: Whispering Pines

Have you ever known someone from around? You can't remember specifically how or when you met them? I've known Joe Zabeilski from around for a couple of years now. We both travel on foot in and around our neighborhood, we see each other at my restaurant where I serve him copious amounts of iced green tea, and every now and again I'll run into him at Red Lion. Couple days ago he shows up at Gingergrass and tells me his band Whispering Pines have finished their record and he has a copy for me.

This is the culmination of a conversation 10 months in the works. Every time I see him he gives me a status update on his record, so to finally have the record in my hands feels like some sort of accomplishment. To call Whispering Pines roots music is the simple, derivative comparison. Instead I like to think of them as a band stepping out of a time machine into another era in which their music is as relevant and enjoyable as the time from which they traveled. This kind of americana can be found in parts in all sorts of LA bands like Welldiggers Banquet and the Parson Red Heads as well as national acts like Fleet Foxes. But what Whispering Pines do a bit differently is embody their influences to the point where they become indistinguishable from them.

Some would argue that this is a bad thing and that I am criticizing Whispering Pines. Not so. In their case, it's a compliment. One just has to listen to "Family Tree," the opening and title track on their new record (which I've posted below) to realize sometimes it just feels right to do something so well, even if that thing has been done so well by others for a long time.

You can buy Whispering Pine's record Family Tree at Amoeba and catch them live January 25th at the Bootleg Theatre.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hangovers. They are all day events.

This is the first time I've been able to look at my computer screen without a searing blinding pain exploding out from behind my eye sockets. I was done in by one thunderous hour last night. I was on my couch finishing a glass of red wine when Heather brought me in a vodka soda. While I was finishing the vodka soda, our friends Dave and Alexis dropped by with presents and a bottle of champagne. Which we drank. Then I opened my present, which was a bottle of whiskey. I went in to the kitchen to get glasses for Dave and I and, for some reason, decided I wanted to drink a beer along with the whiskey. So at one time in front of me I had a glass of champagne, a vodka soda, a whiskey, a glass of red wine, and a PBR. Within the hour every glass was drained, every can empty, and all I got to show for it is this all day hangover event. Good thing I'm going to 2 more Christmas parties tonight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now That It's Done The Work Begins

With the record finished, the real work begins. I'm talking about song order. I know in this day and age the format of a complete record meant to be listened to from start to finish is an archaic concept. Fuck that. Every record I've made, I've put an intense amount of consideration into the song order. I'm sure this is a product of being born in the mix tape age. There's a great scene in the book "High Fidelity" where the protagonist has a lengthy soliloquy on how to properly and effectively construct a mix tape, so I won't try and recreate that here.

However, the point remains that for us in Summer Darling song order matters a ton. One of my favorite memories of being in this band was way back in 2004. We were on our way to play a show in Chico, CA at a little coffee shop called Moxie's. For the entire car ride Dan, Heather and I played different song orders for each other, argued our cases good-spiritedly, and after much deliberation came to a consensus.

This time it's a bit more crowded in the car. Not only do we have a fourth member in our band now, we also have a producer and a label weighing in. (*Author's note: We also had a producer for our first record who had two very strong ideas about song order and selection, which I ignored. To this day I regret that I did, because I think his ideas would have made the album better.) I already have my order picked out, but I wonder how much I'm going to have to fight to get it on the record that way? Or will someone come up with an idea that works perfectly that I never would have thought? We shall see. The battle begins tomorrow when I show Neil Schield from Origami Vinyl the mixes for the first time. . .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Last night at the Origami release party for the Lilofee 7" I ran into an old acquaintance named Ronnie. Ronnie and I go way back; we worked together at a coffee shop in Orange County nine years ago. At the time he was in a band called The Pressure. I had another friend that worked at the coffee shop that I knew from playing in bands. His name was Allen. He was in a local band called Mayday when I was in a band called Remember August. We played a few shows together and always got along swimmingly. After Ronnie's and Allen's bands broke up they started a band called Your Enemies Friends. Your Enemies Friends went on to release a couple records and tour the world while the bands I was in at the time slowly dissolved. For years I desperately wanted to be the drummer for that band because I thought that was going to be my only shot at playing in a real band.

It was interesting running into Ronnie on the streets of Echo Park. It's not the first time I've seen him since our coffee shop days, but enough time has passed to be able to accurately reflect on old times, which we did briefly. He's in a new band called Seaspin and Allen is in a band with his old bandmates from Mayday, but Ronnie couldn't remember what they were called. I'm not exactly sure how it makes me feel to know what kind of concentric circles this band life makes, though I'm pretty sure that if I end up where I started after some kind of wild ride with this life, I'll be grateful and think it was all worth it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have We Arrived At The End?

In a few minutes I am scheduled to head into the studio and sign off on the final mixes of the Summer Darling record. What a grand undertaking this has been! As I think back on the 4 years of writing and rehearsing, the six months of tracking and the six months of mixing I feel two conflicting emotions.

First comes a giant wave of satisfaction mixed with relief, and maybe a little pride tossed in there as well. While we have four other past releases, the record we are finishing feels like the definitive statement the band was meant to make. It's just taken us eight years and a couple hundred shows to make it. It makes me excited for the future, expectant, hopeful.

The other feeling is an intense dread, the fear of someone being in your house when you arrive home from a long journey, the unease of uncertainty. For the last fourteen months, I knew what my goal was: finish the record. But now that it's done, what's next?

Recently I was speaking over beers to S Foye, the producer of the record, about general life equations, laughing at the circumstances of our extreme rootlessness; we own next to nothing, have no kids, etc, and how different that makes us from a lot of our friends we grew up with. We came to the realization that uncertainty in life produces a hunger that allows for new experience and a unique hope. Because we are still unsettled in this path we're on, we get opportunities to experience things that people who find themselves settled into careers and families and responsibilities don't. It was an exhilarating conclusion. The uncertainty rotting my guts and waking me up at five in the morning (much like it did this very a.m.) was actually a good thing, a product of my willingness to strive for better and different things for me and my band-family. It's a terrible, awesome feeling, and one that I hope we all get to experience soon.

This is what I was listening to while writing today. The song is called "I Get Low" by Timber Timbre.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Music Tuesday: TS And The Past Haunts

TS And The Past Haunts is Travis Shettel's new project. You may remember Travis' previous band, Piebald, or you may have seen him rocking the keys with The Duke Spirit, but the Past Haunts is a whole new direction for him. The jams showcase a mature yet playful approach to songwriting, the music is built upon piano and organ as much as it is guitars, and the performances by Travis and the members of The Duke Spirit, who served as his backing band during the recording of the album, are spontaneous and thrilling. It's the happiest blues record of all time with gritty barroom solos, whisky soaked choral arrangements, and sad sack singalong piano ballads.

Currently there's no official release date for this record, but while Travis finds the right venue through which to put this album in our grubby little hands, we can enjoy a jam or two right here on Chain Letter. Heather and I have been doing our best over the last couple months to fill in the Duke's shoes at live shows. It's made it quite difficult to pick a favorite, not only because I have a personal attachment to so many of them, but because, frankly, they are all so fucking good. They're the kind of songs to get stoned to and cruise around in nature, or to toss on the ol' vinyl player and have a few beers with some friends, or play on the jukebox of your favorite neighborhood bar at closing time. They already remind me of good times, so I suppose it's only fitting to post the song "Good Times" to introduce TS And The Past Haunts to you. Plus it's a festive time of year. So crack open a cold one, light a spliff, or just sip on some nonfat, non-alcoholic egg nog, listen to the jam and remind yourself of the good times. Or be like Travis and create some new ones!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Everything In Titles

I love naming things. In college I was fascinated with etymology. My favorite Bible myth is the one about the tower of Babel, an allegorical story about the creation of different languages that occurred when man tried to build a structure to god. I found numerology fascinating and was transfixed by the idea that Adam, the first human, spoke a perfect language that transcends the sign/signifier relationship of modern language. And now my obsession lies in naming songs and albums.

With the help of the rest of the band, I've been trying to name the Summer Darling record for the better part of a year. I usually like to allow for a long period of time to name things. This gives me the optimum amount of chances to either stumble across something that sounds cool and relates to the jams (like our 2008 EP Health of Others which I saw on a sanitation sign in my work bathroom), ask the right person what they would name the record (my friend Jim Poulos named Summer Darling's first full length I Know You, I Never Knew You), or pull a critical line from the songs themselves like we did for Good Feeling.

But this record has been impossible to name. When I first wrote many of the songs for the album, the idea for the title, or theme, if you will, was "Bear Your Brother's Burden." This soon morphed into "Share Your Brother's Burden" as the previous title felt clunky. But this title likewise became clumsy and archaic, so I shortened it to "Brother's Burden." After a bit of time "Brother's Burden" seemed completely unrelated to the jams. I couldn't for the life of me remember what specific burden had anything to do with the themes of the songs. From this point on it's been a downward spiral of wild ideas ranging from simple one word titles like "Apprentice" and "Zealotry" to long esoteric excursions like "Let's Build It Back Up So We Can Tear It All Down Again" and "Beautiful With Broken Teeth." There was "Dead Letters" that turned into "Dead Letters to Lost Lovers" after the first one felt too metal. Other quickly scrapped ideas included "Throw Off What Hinders You," "Unconversion," "Drunk On Living Water," and "Nothing To Go Back Home To." I've tried copping song titles, but that always ends up feeling lazy. And then there's the temptation of the grandest, simplest option of all: the self titled record.

I've come out the other side of these examples at a complete loss. The record is done and I have no idea what the fuck we're going to call it. Anything I come up with now feels forced. My favorite thing has turned into a total mind screw.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I wish I was in better HEALTH.

On Monday I tweaked something in my back. No big deal, just felt a little twinge. Whatever that was has mutated and malignantly attacked the whole of my upper back, shoulders, and neck. I've had trouble sleeping and I'm in pain every moment of the day. I canceled yesterday's two rehearsals, played hookie on my blog, and skipped out on work. I've been given sage advice from friends and family, pills from even better friends and family, and I'm off to get a massage here shortly.

I started thinking about what could have caused this unfortunate downturn and I have come to the conclusion that it is most definitely stress related. The reason I am stressed out is a whole other subject that I plan to spend a week writing about in the new year, so for now we'll just marvel at how the body can physically manifest such mental struggle.

When I think of health and stress, the most suitable musical embodiment of these is the band Health. They are a local LA band that has a very unique approach to rock and roll. Below is a track from their most recent record Get Color. The jam is called "Die Slow" and although its certainly the poppiest of their songs, you'll still get the idea of what the knots in my back feel like.

Be thankful we've got our H/health.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Future Ghost: Staying Positive in Tough Situations

When Loop left Summer Darling in the summer of 2008 I must admit to moments of panic. Irrational as it was, I began to think everything was unraveling, that we'd never play another show, that we'd have to start all over. If only I'd been able to learn a lesson from my friends in Future Ghost! When one of their members left this year, Brandon Tomas was duly disappointed, but when speaking to me about it in the aisles of Trader Joe's, he was resolute in his positivity. He seemed absolutely intent on making the best of a difficult situation.

Did they ever. Below I've posted my favorite track from their upcoming EP. The song, entitled "Like It Or Not," is direct in its hook and bombastic in its delivery. They are a fantastic sounding three piece and all around kick ass people. Make sure you check them out live in the coming months, as I am predicting a break out year for these noise poppers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Demo Tuesday

I'm late to head into the studio today so my grand plans of posting another video Dan and I did will have to wait until next week. But in other news, I've been writing like a madman lately, which is a 180 degree turn from the last 10 months where I wrote precisely one song. Yup, just one. I didn't have writer's block; you have to be trying to write to have that. I just wasn't inspired to write for nearly a whole year. But now with the Summer Darling record finished and coming out 2010, I've been working on new Summer Darling songs, new Vicious Scully songs, and now a mystery third project. There's a back story to this song that I will share in the future, but for now enjoy this bedroom demo I did for a song that I have no idea where it will end up. It has no name, but I've been calling it "Border Town" for my own records.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hey, Hey, My, My. Rock and Roll Is About to Die.

I spent some time this weekend watching parts of the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert. While this sucker clocked in at over 4 hours and featured performances by countless rock and roll "legends," some of who still play like they mean it, I couldn't help but notice the median age of the performers on stage to be roughly 61. It got me thinking seriously about rock and roll as the institution the Boomers built and judging by this drawn out HBO special, Rock and Roll is gonna die.

Our evening started with a rousing yet empty speech by Tom Hanks filled with hundred dollar metaphors for five cent sentiments. Who better to kick off the night than a man precisely representative of Rock and Roll's modern demographic: upper middle-aged, chubby, successful white people clinging on to some rebellious and stubborn ideal that exists only in their memory and on corporate classic rock stations, reminding them that "Rock and Roll changed the world" but neglecting the fact that after these people changed the world they it unchanged again. The same generation that heralded peace and free love is the generation controlling America's modern war machine and denying tax paying citizens the ultimate expression of love, the civil right to marry. So sorry, Tom, if I didn't get swept up in the emotion of the moment.

Judging by the night's performers, of whom the youngest was a rock band so terrified of change they sued an internet company for allowing kids to download their music for free, Rock and Roll is dying. We had the plump CEO versions of our former rock stars like Crosby, Stills, and Nash and the death-on-a-stick mockups like Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger. The only ones who still had the gleam of life without the stink of surgery or lackadaisical record sales was the Boss and Bono. Dudes still look good.

While it's amusing to poke fun at these aging performers' appearance, it is hard to ignore the fact that this event celebrated a generation of rock and rollers that has completely lost its relevance and unless they start bringing new acts into the fold these concerts are gonna get shorter and shorter as these codgers with guitars start croaking. Thinking conservatively, there's plenty of performers in their late 30s and 40s making relevant and challenging rock music. Instead of rolling out Jerry Lee Lewis, whose hands miraculously could still tinkle the ivories but whose face looked like an inexpressive mask, why not invite Sonic Youth or Radiohead or Wilco or, dare I say it, whatever politically radical, sonically polite yawn band Tom Morello is playing in these days, to warm up the stage. Then honor the relics with lifetime achievement awards and whatever the yuppie rock equivalent of a gold watch is. And better yet, why not introduce the grandfathers of rock to some things the kids are actually listening to these days? God forbid a band like Health or No Age share the stage with James Taylor. Grizzly Bear opened for Paul Simon before why not hook it up again for a national audience? Instead we get James Hatfield and Ozzie Osbourne.

I predict a more disheartening end for this age of Rock and Roll. While in the 60s and 70s record sales and talented bands had a positive correlation, one only has to watch the sad joke that is the Grammy's to know that popular music today is dominated by marketing strategies rather than true musicianship. While it could be argued that this is more of a criticism of today's music consumer (and by all means the modern casual music listener is at a serious disadvantage), I still believe that the musicians actually carrying on the mantle of rock and roll are usually not the ones atop the Billboard charts. I'm afraid the fathers of this movement are more apt to pass the torch to the Linkin Parks and John Mayers than they are to the Deerhunters and Elloitt Smiths, and when that happens, their rock and roll will be truly dead. Until then I can't wait for the 3oth Anniversary special destined to feature a Beatles reunion where Brian Wilson and Jimmy Buffet play the parts of John Lennon and George Harrison via Rock Band while Ringo drums in a wheel chair and Paul McCartney accompanies them via satellite from a plastic surgery recovery ward. Rock on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dedication: Correatown

All this week I've unintentionally spotlighted some characteristics in myself and other people who play in bands and how those characteristics contribute to living an artistic lifestyle. Last night, Death House Chaplain played a show at a tiny little British pub in Redlands, CA with Map and Correatown and I relearned one of the most important attributes necessary for success in any field: dedication to one's craft. It's so simple, yet I rarely think about it.

In talking to Angela Correa before the show I found out that a mere 28 hours earlier she had flown in from Europe. She's spent the last month touring our neighbors across the sea, getting on average 4 hours of sleep per night. If it were me, the last thing I'd want to do upon returning home jet lagged within an inch of my life would be to play a small show in the middle of nowhere to a half empty bar. But when I asked Angela about it, she merely replied, "I know, I'm crazy, I just like to play shows. I guess I was on a high from playing every night and didn't want it to end when I came back to LA."

A further examination of the issue revealed that she was indeed human and tired as hell, but she took the stage like a champ, fought through some technical difficulties and played a damn good show. I've always believed that a show is worth playing as long as I can affect one person's life that night. Sometimes that occurs completely independent from the actual music, maybe just in talking with someone you meet along the way. Last night the show was worth it because I was that person affected. I'm not saying no one else got anything out of it, but driving home I felt that the show was a little reminder just for me to stay dedicated. Thanks Map! Thanks Correatown!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Origami Vinyl Presents Lilofee on Vinyl!

I'm very excited to announce, if you possibly haven't heard yet, that Origami, the Echo Park based digital record label and vinyl store (and home to Summer Darling), has made the leap into pressing vinyl. This is huge. This is huger than huge. It's been a shared dream for all of us in our little circle of friends, especially Neil Schield, the owner of Origami, to put out vinyl for a very long time. In fact just a short while ago, Neil and I were sitting on his porch overlooking Echo Park Blvd sharing a couple of beers when Neil expressed his interest in opening his own record store out of the storefront just across the street. Obviously the final manifestation of Origami Vinyl on Sunset in Echo Park is the mightiest of all fantasies realized, but the dream certainly started small and has outgrown many of our wildest expectations.

It's only fitting then that San Francisco based electro-pop group Lilofee be the first release on Origami Vinyl. The band's songs suggest dreamy summer days, driving in cars along the ocean, singing along with your best friends or a future one night stand, buzzed and dancing in the sun, in a club, on a porch, barefoot in the sand. There's a certain darkness lurking behind the delivery of the songs, an admission that good times end, but it's this knowledge that makes the other moments more palpable. The band is a long time member of the Origami family, a nod to Neil's own San Francisco days.

The vinyl, released in conjunction with Future Sounds, is a 7" inch featuring "Runaway" b/w "In Flight" and is a limited pressing of 500 on clear vinyl. I've posted the track "Runaway" to tempt your buying buds, so please, go out and support Origami Vinyl and Lilofee by picking up this guaranteed collectable. And what better time to do this than at the release party/release show at Origami Vinyl and the Echo, December 16?!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time to be Inspired: Happy Hollows + Twilight Sleep @ Spaceland

The Happy Hollows are everywhere I look these days. From a residency at Spaceland to countless blog Best of 09 lists to a very positive Pitchfork review, this Los Angeles 3 piece seems poised to break through. I remember talking with my friend Brian a couple of years ago about this band and he seemed sure then that they were the real deal. I went to Spaceland on Monday night to check them out. I had seen them play a year and a half ago at Summer Camp but have no real memory of it (thanks Colt 45). Furthermore Heather had downloaded their record from eMusic recently but I can admit to only a cursory listen.

The show the Happy Hollows put on Monday night was jubilant, joyful, hyper active and loud as hell. Their sincerity and energy was down right infectous and I left feeling very inspired and in a weird, can't-explain-it sort of way, proud of them. Like they were my kids and I had just witnessed them winning a battle of the bands. I know, sounds bazar. When I started thinking about it today, though, it made perfect sense. The Happy Hollows are a band that lets people in; they're not so much performing for the audience as they are interacting with them. At that is their appeal. I've seen one show and I believe they can conquer the world. There's a lesson in that for me and the bands I play in to be more, what's the word, TRIUMPHANT! on stage. And good lord, these kids took it all in stride. Having just killed it, they responded with grace and humility. Real cool.

I was pleased to be able to witness Twilight Sleep's first show with their new line-up. It had all the classic first show jitter-ness, nervous lovers making out for the first time, moments of confidence colliding with seconds of awkwardness. But the minute they started the first jam, I thought to myself, wow they sound better in this minute than they've ever sounded before. I have great expectations for them and am excited to see them develop into a affecting live act.

Here's the song "Faces" from the Happy Hollows new record, Spells. The Happy Hollows are playing a couple of shows in January and if you haven't already, I recommend you check them out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Music Tuesday: Shiloe

I've been following Shiloe for over two years and have watched them develop into a dynamic band who plays twisted no wave goth pop songs. Their new single "By The Daggers In Your Eyes" is a perfect example of their MO: jagged guitars, bombastic rhythms, and Ken Ramos' sing speak delivery. It's hot shit, people.

If you're like me and would like to hear "By The Daggers In Your Eyes" over and over, help them infiltrate the masses by requesting it on KROQ here. The bands are listed alphabetically; just scroll down and click on their jam. Sometimes KROQ lists their previous single "Gone" also, so I've been voting for both!

You can catch Shiloe live Saturday, December 12 at the Troubadour supporting Mellowdrone.

"By The Daggers In Your Eyes" by Shiloe