Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Formal Apology To Jeff Tweedy

I've been a lukewarm Wilco fan for many years. I owned Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, saw a bad ass live concert of theirs on PBS, sorta liked some of their older jams, didn't pay much attention to anything after that. Then I found out innovative guitar god Nels Cline joined the band around the time of A Ghost Is Born. I immediately got that record and fell in love with the guitar playing. It was border line psychotic in its frenetic delivery, transcendent really. It made me a Wilco fan. And all this time I've attributed this unlikely turn of events to the arrival of Nels Cline to the band. But I was wrong. Jeff Tweedy played all the guitar parts that I loved on that record. So credit where credit is due. Sorry, Mr. Tweedy, for doubting you. I repent. You are in fact a bad ass. Here's a video of my favorite.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Music Tuesday: Summer Darling

That's right. We weren't lying. We have a whole record of new music coming out July 6th on Origami Vinyl!! To prove it, we're posting "This Would Be The Time." Those of you who've been coming to shows will recognize it; it's been one of our favs for a while now. We're very excited to share this with you!!! Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

On It's All About Who You Know: Ben Harper, Origami Vinyl, and Fire Marshalls

Before Friday night when Ben Harper performed an in store for a packed house at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park, I knew very little about him. I knew my stoner friends in college liked him, I knew my dad liked his "mellower stuff," and I knew he recently was part of Ringo Starr's backing band.

What I didn't know and what I found out is far more intriguing. Firstly, Ben Harper is a man of the people. Sean Stentz, co-operator of the store, related to me the story of Harper coming into the store and doing some shopping. Upon checkout he noticed that some musicians were setting up equipment in the Origami loft. He asked Stentz what was going on and Sean explained to him that they did in store performances. Harper enthusiastically asked if he could perform some time and how the place was right up his alley. He provided Stentz with personal contact information and within a week, he was back at Origami performing. Instead of entering through the back to perform, which would have made more sense logistically due to the sardine can that was Origami Vinyl on Friday night, Harper entered through the front door, high-fiving his fans and saying hello as if he were greeting members of a soccer team or old frat buddies. It was cool to witness.

The other thing I learned about Ben Harper is that the dude kinda fucking jams. He played a solid forty five minute set of passionate, bluesy rockers, filled with guitar solos and aggressive rhythms provided by a very accomplished bassist and drummer. He sang like his vocal chords were on fire and only the sound of his voice belted out at top volume could quench the flames. Finally, he appeared to be having the time of his life. Having never seen him before nor listened to his music, I was duly impressed by his performance and his overall jam. I even found out that all the merch he put on consignment at the store he requested to be paid out to him in store credit! Kudos Mr. Harper. You're a class act.

As you might imagine having Ben Harper perform in a space the size of Origami drew quite a crowd, including the fire marshall, who in no uncertain terms told Sean and Neil they were breaking the law and needed to shut the thing down immediately and they were to receive a fine. Then two curious things happened. The fire marshall got wind of who was performing and lamented that he wished he could have been there for the whole set. This followed an encounter with the building's owner and Neil's landlord, who knew the fire marshall. Suddenly everything was congenial. The store learned how to avoid trouble in the future by knowing which permits to apply for and the show got to end on its own accord. Sometimes, it really is about who you know!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Music Thursday: Soft Crest

Oh, Pablo J "Tearin' At My Heart Strings" Harper. You and your illustrious counterpart have created some gorgeous music. On one hand I agree with your categorization of "shoegaze" because Soft Crest invokes lush soundscapes and hushed vocals reminiscent of Slowdive and Cocteau Twins. But, my friend, "shoegaze" belies the certain playful joy that to me is evident in the music. Sure, it's rainy day music, but the kind of rainy day where the sun keeps poking through. It's like movie rain! Anyway, I've been enjoying this sunny weather, walking around Silver Lake listening to this song called "Beach Town" from Soft Crest's new EP Neon Chrome. It's a damn fine tune, perfect for a day like today. You can download the whole EP right now for free on their Facebook page. I highly suggest you do so.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

100th Post: Todd and I Run For Water

To celebrate Chain Letter Author's 100th post I'd like to announce the next charitable function Summer Darling will be involved with. On Sunday April 18th, Todd and I will be participating in the Live Earth Run For Water. It's basically where you run as far as you can go without any water before you pass out from dehydration. Your body is then donated to science.

Wait, no, that's not right. The Run For Water is a ceremonial expression of our concern for people who live in areas of the world where there is little to no access to clean, usable water and to raise awareness of the FACT NOT FICTION that with the expanding population, the changing climate, and the continual bastardization of the world's resources that water shortage will become the next major problem we will have to face. There are a number of interesting theories about this, but the one that strikes me as the most concerning is the likelihood that the wars of the future will be fought over water, not oil or land. At this very moment the western states are involved in a intense legal battle over the resources of the Colorado River. Just imagine what would happen if the Union dissolved...

Enough scare tactic bull shit. What can we do? Critics are right to some degree to malign events such as these. The argument is akin to saying it does no good to give a bum a dollar; it's not going to change the fact that he's a bum. While I disagree with this argument fundamentally, it does relate to charity events such as these. The Run, which is happening globally on the same day, will hopefully raise a decent amount of money to help developing nations gain access to water, but the real change needs to come in our lifestyle. Our lifestyle should begin to reflect more conservationism and less consumerism. It's a cause Todd and I believe in and we hope if you do too you will sign up to run. And if running is not your thing, we will be posting a page in the near future that will allow you to sponsor our asses as we run a brief 6K around downtown Los Angeles. The length of the run represents the average distance people have to walk to gain access to clean water daily in developing nations.

So happy 100th to Chain Letter. Your prize, Ben, is a hungover run around the shithole that is USC. At least it's for a good cause!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bragging Rights

I'm going to brag about my wife for a bit because she would never brag about herself. Last night her band Kissing Cousins opened for David Bazan and Headlights at Alex's Bar in Long Beach. On paper this was facilitated by Jeff Cloud at her label Velvet Blue, but in reality it was made possible by the fact that Heather is a gracious and hospitable and damn likable woman. Because Heather went out of her way at the Bazan house show in January to make all feel welcome and appreciated, which she did primarily for me, she in turn had a dream come true to open for Bazan a few weeks later. Furthermore, between then and now she had two members quit her band. Instead of being discouraged, she found two new members and they rehearsed their asses off to be ready for the show. Last night it all paid off for her. The Cousins played a great set--I knew Heather was nervous beforehand, but no one else would have. She played with confidence and balls. Yeah, I said it. My wife plays with balls. So here's to you, dear. Way to fucking bring it. Congrats on playing a great show.

I'm also going to take a brief moment to brag on my friends, even though they wouldn't hesitate to brag on themselves. They showed up in droves last night, from Los Angeles and Long Beach. They were supportive, cheering loudly and proudly for their Cousins, and they are always ready to have a great time. So thank you. Heather and I have the best friends in the world.

Monday, March 8, 2010

On Playing Afternoon Gigs: 826LA Benefit Recap

When I was 19 a label paid for my band to go record in Oklahoma City. I learned things on that trip like how to massage an engineer's ego to avoid his coked-out rants, how to "not get artsy" with my drumming, and most importantly, that "rock don't happen before noon." And while our set at the Chickens In Love 826LA Benefit Show on Saturday began at 1:40pm, the old adage that rock don't happen early in the day rang true enough.

Having little experience on larger stages and having just played the ultra intimate Pehrspace last week, depending on a monitor mix without any kind of sound check was daunting to say the least. However, we still did what we do: we gave it our best and closed with our kids cover "Mexican Food." During the set I was consistently amused by how much self editing I had to do on the fly to avoid dropping the F bomb on a bunch of 8 year olds. Furthermore, our songs are pretty much all "adult content" and I felt self conscious singing about drugs and sex and loss pretty much throughout. We did receive some chuckles from those who know the lyrics at my alternate versions.

After us we enjoyed sets by the Pity Party and Submarines, but the true highlight for me was Thao Nguyen from the Get Down Stay Down. She brought it and sold it. Very impressive set. It's the kind of band I always wanna play with because her presence is so commanding. Hopefully we'll get to play with her and her whole band someday soon.

In case you missed the show or the live webcast (which apparently had 30,000 viewrs?!), here's us playing "Son."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Timeless: Better Than Best

I'm sitting here with S Foye after V Scully practice listening to vinyls, drinking PBR, and talking shit. He put on Daydream Nation. What a record that is! I told him I was never able to really get in to any other Sonic Youth records, but Daydream Nation was an exception.

As we discussed this opinion of mine we quickly realized why this was. Some would argue that it's their best record, but "best" is a very flimsy and inaccurate modifier. I would argue that Daydream Nation is their timeless record. It simultaneously works as an artifact of the time it was released and an album that sounds perfectly at home nearly 25 years later. Very few albums pull this off. With no false modesty intended, I doubt I will ever be in a band that makes a record of this caliber. But that's ok. I'm not discouraged by this. Often the pursuit of making such a record is what makes making records worthwhile. And who knows, maybe someday something I've done will be a timeless classic to someone else!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Member Wednesday: Kim H Joins Kissing Cousins!

As seems to be the trend so far this year in everyone's favorite all girl band Kissing Cousins, they have a new member (R.I.P. Kara and Melissa). Her name is Kim. Let's get to know her shall we?

1. Congrats on being a cousin! Growing up who was the extended family member you would have most likely smooched in the socially unacceptable way?

If I had to choose, I would have smooched my cousin, Josh. Let me do some family tree math. He was my grandfather's brother's daughter's son haha. So, I think that would make him my third cousin? Maybe it's because I grew up in a small town in TX, maybe it's because he loved Nirvana, or maybe it's just because he was a total babe! What can I say, our blood is good blood.

2. Contrary to most members of KC who learned to play their instruments specifically for the band, you've obviously played bass before. Tell us a bit about your other musical projects, current and past.

Well, in addition to playing bass for Kissing Cousins, I also play bass and sing back up vocals in Future Ghost. We have been playing for a little over a year now. We are currently a three piece (a.k.a. a Kim sandwich between two slices of Brandon.) For those of you who know us, you'll understand that delicious joke, and for those of you who don't - a little research never hurt anyone. Before taking up the bass, I played guitar for 10 years. I was in a couple of bands in Texas quite a while ago (Wisteria, The Keepsies, and Infinite Transmission Project), but had given it up until Brandon Tomas asked me to join Future Ghost. And THANK GOD! I can't imagine what it would be like not to play in a band; which of course is another reason I agreed to play with the Cousins. Not only am I a fan of the songs and adore the girls involved, but I love playing 100%.

3. I've noticed you smile a lot while performing. I thought musicians were supposed to be sad and tortured. What gives?

Spend a little more time with me and you'll notice I smile most of the time. Plus, I laugh at just about everything hahaha. See? I thought playing was supposed to be fun! Hence, the smiling. So, you better get used to seeing my grill. I rarely feel tortured when I'm playing; except during the summer at Downtown Rehearsal. When it's boiling hot, my bangs are stuck to my forehead, and I'm sweating in places I didn't know could sweat - that's when I feel tortured. Nothing a cold beer can't cure though, right?

4. I try to give everyone I interview a forum to do a little trash talking. If you feel like it, why don't you rant about someone or something without getting too specific. Trust me, you'll feel better.

I've never been one to gossip, but I'm getting better at it working for a company who doesn't necessarily value or acknowledge the hard work of its employees. Being taken advantage of and denied raises or promotion leaves no motivation to meet the head of company's expectations. Unfortunately, it's not in me to do poorly. I work hard no matter the circumstance, therefore I am often left feeling abused and unappreciated. Not to mention, I get paid dick-fifty for my efforts. Yeah yeah, poor me. Hahaha.

5. Everyone's dying to know, but are too polite to ask: do you and your boyfriend have any synchronized dance videos of the two of you? If so, I'd love to post it here...

Why is everyone so shy in asking this?! Of course we have a synchronized dance video of the two of us. We like to call it "The Horizontal Hustle." I'm just kidding. It's a shame that Tim and I do not have a synchronized dance video, however, I'd like to share a link for his band's (OK Go) new video for "This Too Shall Pass" that went live on Monday. It features an extensive Rube Goldberg project that was built over the last few months in a warehouse in Echo Park. Enjoy!

You can meet Kim live and in person at either of these upcoming Kissing Cousins Shows:

Monday March 8th @ Alex's Bar in Long Beach w/ David Bazan

Wednesday March 10th @ Silver Lake Lounge with Agent Ribbons

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Music Tuesday: Vanaprasta

I've had a musical crush on these boys for a while, and finally we have their first release to listen to and obsess over. Forming The Shapes was released today on iTunes and the like. It's a three song teaser of what's the come, which rumor has it is a full length record called Healthy Geometry. Good names!! Where were you when I was trying to name the new Summer Darling record?

Come on out with us and celebrate the release of Forming The Shapes tomorrow at Spaceland! Vanaprasta, who are an unsinkable juggernaut of energy and expression live, will be packing the house so come early. I'm excited, you should be too.

Below I've posted the slow burner "Color Of Sin" which Heather tells me is the single from the EP. She's pretty good at pickin' 'em so enjoy!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

We Are Cool With Playing This For You: The Summer Darling Listening Party

Last night we hosted a listening party for our new record at our place for a few of the people who so graciously donated their time and skills so that we could make the best record possible. It was a fantastically encouraging and warm spirited evening filled with laughter, scotch, hummus, and red bull?.

Before we got started, someone asked me if I was nervous. I asked them why would I be? Apparently, being in a room full of close friends and associates and sitting there while they listen to your music is a scary thing. Being a generally anxious dude, I must admit to feeling a little perplexed at why I wasn't bothered by this proposition. If anyone should be nervous, it's me!

I realized two things in that moment of reflection. One is that I am good at letting things go when it's time to let them go. I can be anxious all day before a show or the night before I get on a plane, but when the moment comes to step on stage or to walk into the cabin, I don't hesitate. In the same way, now that the record is done, I'm no longer playing the game in my head of what I could've or should've done differently. It's time to release it into the world and let other people appropriate it for themselves. And who better to start with than these friends and colleagues? We could release a pile of dog shit on them, and because they are our friends they would probably find something to like about it, even if it was just the shear audacity of us releasing a steaming pile of poo for a record.

Which brings me to my other realization. I must be proud of our record to not feel an ounce of self consciousness. I know we didn't make a shitty album. In fact we made quite a good one. We will be leaking a track soon on our various social networking sites, so you, my good reader, will not be far behind.

Summer Darling comes out on Origami Vinyl Tuesday July 6th.

You can catch us at the 826LA Benefit show this Saturday afternoon at the Echoplex. We have a limited 10 dollar donation ticket list if you go here and purchase before Saturday using the discount code "summerdarling10list". We play at 1pm.