Friday, December 28, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: Caribou "Sandy"

Funny how a song can sneak up on you. I remember listening to Andorra quite a bit earlier this year, and I remember "Sandy," being my favorite track on the album. I made a mental note that those would probably make my list of favorite albums of the year/favorite songs of the year, and to go back and listen to them again as the end of the year got closer. Sure enough, I was absolutely right in that prediction. Though I repeated the song maybe once or twice when listening to it earlier in the year, when I put it on last week something about it really grabbed me and I found myself walking an extra block before I made it home just so that I could hit repeat one more time. It's one of those songs that you feel like you can actually step inside of, well actually every song on the album fits that description, this is just the one that I would most want to. The measured drums and bells that open the song spill neatly into a wall of drums, bells, strings, flute, vibraphone, vocal harmonies AND backing ahh- ahhs. The prettiest psychedelic dream you ever happened to wander into. Speaking of which, check out the live performance of the song posted below. You could almost be fooled into thinking that they actually made this in the 60s if it weren't for the modern look of the video and, well, the presence of a laptop. If you want to hear the album version it's posted on their Myspace page.

Caribou - Sandy (The Pink Room)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pop Sale!

If you ended up resorting to I.O.U.s for Christmas, and your friends and family are really into the Lucksmiths (or could potentially be really into the Lucksmiths,) you are in luck! Matinee Recordings is having a nifty little holiday sale with most cds/eps/10 inches, a dollar or 2 less than they normally sell for. And most of the 7 inches are going for the unbelievable bargain price of dollar or a dollar fifty! Surely you and everyone else in your life needs another 7 inch or two to add to the collection. You can see the complete list of items available here. There are also some downloadable holiday themed goodies on the label's sounds page including our most major long distance crush Math & Physics Club's unreleased cover of "Marshmallow World," and my very favorite Razorcuts song, "Snowbound." It's also probably worth your time to pay a visit to your own favorite record label's website if you haven't done so in awhile. You never know what treats may be in store for you. Happy hunting!

The Blue Light from the Christmas Strands is Beautiful

Hello all! I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas complete with seriously great Christmas music. We switched to Michael Jackson's Number Ones, and Wolfie 7 inches by about 11 am where I was, but the day did begin with Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald singing the classics.

I'm up early contemplating whether or not I realistically have time to make a compilation of my favorite songs of the year (normally, I have it together to give people in addition to their Christmas gifts.) Though, I am pet sitting this week which means a lot of nights in, and so many good songs to sort through...

Also, as a bit of a late Christmas present, and further proof that 2008 is going to be an awesome year for music. That song that the makers of my favorite album of 2007, A Sunny Day in Glasgow will have released as part of the Slumberland 7 inch series? A Pastels cover!!! They describe it like this:

"Slumberland Records will release our cover of the Pastels' "Sometimes I Think About You" on 7" in March of 08. We think it's a pretty cool cover. For reasons we don't understand at all, it kind of sounds like Underworld and maybe Neu! covering the Pastels? We don't know how it happened."

You can read that directly from the source, as well as some other interesting tidbits (other new singles, a potential new album, a vinyl release for Scribble Mural Comic Journal, etc.) here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Made a List, I Wrote it all Down 3...2...1...Fiiive

My 5 favorite records of the year... countdown style!

5. The Clientele God Save the Clientele (Merge)

Bottom line is the Clientele make perfect records that are always rooted in the lush pop that they do better than almost anyone else recording music these days. The addition of a full time violinist/pianist adds to the enjoyment of the music, as do the elements of Nashville (where they recorded this one,) that show up in all the right places. I'm a huge fan of records that are good to take long walks to, and this one will accompany me on those for years to come.

4. Okkervil River The Stage Names

This is the most lyrically compelling record I heard all year. Probably due to the fact that you feel every word that Will Sheff sings even (especially) the nasty ones. Because here's the kicker, even when our narrator is doing awful things, he's painfully aware that he is doing awful things. And the band is tight, and the music sounds big even on the more quiet songs. It's also been a long time since I've been affected by a semi-epic ballad that could have been lifted from the seventies, but "A Girl in Port" got to me in a way that no other song did this year. The stories contained in it are bittersweet, and the band picks up, and and then let's up in all the right places. Like Band of Horses' "The Funeral" last year, this song is so masterfully produced you kind of forget that it hasn't existed for years and years.

3. The Hepburns Something Worth Stealing (Radio Khartoum)
Okay, so the stage names was probably a technically better record than this one. God Save the Clientele too, but this is precisely the sort of British pop that I live for. Simple, deliciously clever, and it contains plenty of songs that one can bob one's head to. I will likely listen to this album more than any other on my list. I only have one of their previous albums on vinyl (The Magic of the Hepburns). I think 2008 will find me aiming to fix that.

2. Tullycraft Every Scene Needs a Center (Magic Marker)

And this is precisely the sort of American pop that I live for. Sure it's the most mature Tullycraft record to date, but it's still more fun to listen to than anything else I heard this year. And it's still a trademark Tullycraft record with nods to classic pop guitar, giddy ah-ah's/back up harmonies, and mile a minute obscure references many of which I won't get until next year, or the year after. When I do though, it's the most satisfying thing pretty much ever.

1. A Sunny Day in Glasgow Scribble Mural Comic Journal (Notenuf)

One of my friends played a song from this record on his radio show back in January. I didn't hear the show, but I saw the playlist. Naturally, I was intrigued by the band name, and asked my friend about them. He said they were good and sort of reminded him of the Cocteau Twins. To my knowledge he never played anything from this record again, but I finally heard it and here it is as my favorite record of the year. Go figure. The Cocteau Twins reference makes sense. It's all heavily layered instruments/vocals/vocals as instruments, distortion pedals, and the result is (in my opinion) the noisest, prettiest, most compelling overall record of the year.

Honorable mention in no particular order:

Betty Lavette with the Drive by Truckers The Scene of the Crime (Anti)

Sweet soul from a master with everyone's favorite Southern indie rockers as her capable backing band. The music speaks for itself.

Caribou Andorra (Merge)

Mmmmm, bells, lot's of bells.

Sister Vanilla Little Pop Rock (Chemikal Underground)

This record is just flat out cool. A nice offering from the Jesus & Mary Chain with the neat twist of Linda Reid as the lead vocalist.

Malcolm Middleton A Brighter Beat (Full Time Hobby)

More great, witty, and at times heartbreaking Scottish pop. It opens with the hilarious juxtaposition of upbeat music to downer lyrics on "We're all Going to Die," the rest of the album carries on from there.

American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella)

I think that there are very few people out there who need to be convinced that Jay-Z does what he does oh so well. I still need to see the film that inspired tis album.

BOAT Let's Drag Our Feet! (Magic Marker)

BOAT make accessible/weird pop music that sounds like no one else who makes accessible/weird pop music.

John Vanderslice Emerald City (Barsuk)

Twenty years from now (if you still attend rock shows twenty years from now) you will be standing at a venue, and hear a kid in front of you ask the kid next to him/her, "Have you heard (insert John Vanderslice album here?) he's got to be one of the most important artists of the 21st century."

Exciting EPs/singles:

Le Switch Hello Today (Self Released)

Super tight musicianship, killer melodies that you'll hum for days, and vocals that will stay with you even longer.

Math & Physics Club Baby I'm Yours (Matinee)

More of that lush elegant pop music that they are brilliant at. Gorgeous melodies, whistful vocals, the always pleasant sound of prominent violin, and even an electro-pop song this time around!

Los Campesinos! Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (Arts & Crafts/Wichita)

Endlessly charming, giddiness inducing, and just plain fun!

Black Kids Wizard of Ahhhs (Self Released)

They got pretty huge pretty fast never having toured and whatnot. I sure do wish that I had made it to Athens Popfest this year to see them in a small venue. Sigh, good for them though. This Ep was a lot of fun to listen to.

Horowitz Tracyanne (Cloudberry)

"Popkids of the World Unite," They sold me on that one. Though all of the songs are so sweet and fuzzy.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Painbow)

British indipop circa the mid to late eighties cleverly updated by American kids circa now.

Anything that was released on the YAY! label this year.

See the description above, although this label doesn't so much update their influences as they pay perfect homage to them. They release singles that come with posters, and handmade drawings directing you to the YAY! website, and they publish fanzines with stories of record stores, rock clubs, and of course, bands. It doesn't get much more DIY than this. And the music contained on the singles sounds like it could have been released by any one of the labels that inspired them (Sarah, K, Subway, 53rd & 3rd, etc.) By far my favorite musical discovery of the year made even better by the fact that a label like this exists so close to where I live.

There were so many releases that I either didn't hear, or spend enough time with. Some will surely grab me next year, and I will kick myself for not including them here. Others I will miss all together. This makes me sad, but it just proves that 2007 was a better year for music than most gave it credit for. And 2008 promises to be even better! Be on the lookout here for Squaregirl Kristen's favorites list which will appear soon. And I'm sure I'll come up with something to write about over the next week. Until then, merry everything!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yesterday's Gone, and Tomorrow Has so Much More in Store

While I'm still finalizing my list of favorite records of 2007 I thought that it might be a good time to skip ahead to 2008 and mention a few records that I'm most excited for. This is right off the top of my head so I'll probably miss a few things, and that's where you come in! Please leave anything, and everything that you are looking forward to in the next year in the comments section below.

Obviously, I'm pretty excited about the Slumberland Records 7 inch series. There is also the release of the first Grand Archives full length, the newish project from Matt Brooke of Carissa's Wierd and Band of Horses fame. I just adored their self released Ep so I can't wait to have more from them. And heads up, they are playing the Troubadour on February 29 with fellow Seattle darlings Fleet Foxes. Based on what I've heard about the live shows of both bands, my calendar is marked. Kelley Stoltz released one of the best records of 2006 so I can't wait to hear his new effort, Circular Sounds. Hearing an LP from Le Switch is the most exciting thing to me on the local front. New Nada Surf makes me smile, I'm intrigued by the long awaited Chris Walla solo record, and new Mountain Goats always makes for an occasion to celebrate (especially since there was no new Mountain Goats record in 2007!) Of course I'm most looking forward to that elusive new Pastels record which was reported to be released at the end of 2006. Now they are reportedly mixing it with John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) sometime early next year. Fingers crossed for a 2008 release! They are also working on a collaboration with Tokyo band Tenniscoats. Alright, that's all I've got before I rush off to work. As I said, I'm sure I missed a ton of stuff. Please leave it below for me to smack my forehead over when I get home.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: A Sunny Day in Glasgow "C'mon"

It's time of year when everyone who likes to write about music feels the urge to present a best of list, and I'm no exception. Okay, I'm actually giddy over the fact that I get to present a best of list, although I'm presenting more of a favorites list. I'm nowhere near qualified, nor did I hear enough new records this year to determine which ones were actually the best. For the past few days I've been going back to the records that really stood out to me this year. I've also been trying desperately to catch up on the ones that I know I will enjoy, but just haven't been able to purchase yet. Even though there are still one or two that I need to spend more time with, I'm fairly confident that Scribble Mural Comic Journal the first full length from A Sunny Day in Glasgow will end up as my favorite. Needless to say, I've been listening to it a lot lately.

C'mon wasn't necessarily the song that grabbed me when I first fell in love with this record earlier in the year, but for some reason this time around it really has. Something to do with the slightly off instrumentation, the effects given to the vocals to make them sound like a beautifully distorted children's song, the way it all sounds so perfect in my headphones while walking around Echo Park on a chilly, dark, and slightly rainy afternoon. The video is posted below so you can hear it for yourself.
You can read an interview with Ben Daniels, the mastermind behind this project, here.
Oh! And did you hear that A Sunny Day in Glasgow are planning to release a 7 inch for Slumberland Record's Searching for the Now series sometime in 2008? I can hardly wait for that to start. Who's ready to jump immediately into the next year with me?

A Sunny Day in Glasgow: C'mon

Monday, December 17, 2007

Singing About Those Secret Places You Secretly Want to Be

With the glow of our outstanding Squaregirls night last week (thanks again to Princeton, Le Switch, and the Health Club for making this so) finally starting to wear off it's time to get back into the swing of things. For me, this means reverting to my default of attending a show nearly every night. It's been almost a week since I've made it to anything, and lucky for me, this week is not short on opportunities.

Starting tomorrow with Radio Free Silver Lake's dream team line-up of Frankel, The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, and Castledoor at Boardners. Not to mention Marvelous Toy (who I've been anxious to catch for awile now) at the Silver Lake Lounge. I'm going to be very ambitious and try to make it to both. And if that's not enough for you, and you feel more like dancing than watching a band, Dublab, and Part Time Punks are presenting something called "Give Up and/or A Sad, Slow Dance Night" over at La Cita. I still haven't been to La Cita (I'm almost certain that I'm not hip enough to hang out there,) but I've heard good things. I have no idea what the night is about either, but the title sounds intriguing and it leads me to believe that dancing to Felt will be involved...

Thursday night finds our heroes The Henry Clay People playing at Pershing Square as part of a series entitled "Spaceland on Ice." I feel like something that is called "Spaceland on Ice" needs to be experienced first hand, and it's been far too long since I've been to a Henry Clay People show.

If I have any energy left by Saturday then I will likely road trip up to Oxnard for the Yay! Records Pajama Party. More information is available here.

Of course, the Rademacher record release show on Friday at the Echo is the thing that has me jumping up and down with the most fervor this week. Legend of Rademacher's live show first reached me back in September when I heard from several sources what a fantastic job they did opening for John Vanderslice in their home town of Fresno. Since then I have made an attempt to see them at least five times, and failed miserably on all counts. Not this time! I will finally get to take the two minute walk over to the Echo and see for myself what all of the fuss is about. To make this deal even sweeter, I have tickets to give away! The first four people that email their full names to, and include Rademacher in the subject line will receive a pair of tickets. Best of luck! And do keep in mind that it's 18+. To hold you over until the show, here is an mp3 of "If You Got Some Magic" from Rademacher's brand new album Stunts whose release is being celebrated on Friday. It should play a nice part in getting your week started with a bang.

Friday, December 14, 2007

You Have Nothing to Live Up to, You Have Nothing to Live Down

I know that I've mentioned at least once that it's my intention to post some sort of history/tribute to Sarah Records here. Especially with the 20th anniversary of their first release having just passed. While I'm nowhere near prepared for that, I came upon this clever little holiday story on the Sarah/Shinkansen home page. While none of the releases mentioned in the story are current, it is very well written, perfectly enjoyable, and season appropriate. Shinkansen, by the way, was the label that Matt Haynes and Clare Wadd started after the sad demise of Sarah Records. The reasoning for that demise is explained here.
You can hear a few songs from a few Sarah Bands here.

I hope this helps you to get into the holiday spirit, and maybe think about finally starting your Christmas shopping. Oh wait, that's me...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It May be Winter Time, but Baby It's Super Fine!

I have to say (and I'm certain that I can speak for Squaregirl K as well) that we could not have been any more pleased with the turn out at our show last night. We both send out huge thank yous to everyone who braved the chilly (for Southern California) weather, and helped make our first official night such a smashing success! 

Princeton brought the crowd to the floor early with their impossible to resist pretty pop songs. The Health Club  closed the night with a solid wall of upbeat indie/garage rock that sounded so cool, I actually felt cooler just by being in near proximity to it. And Le Switch, as you may already know, had stolen my heart months ago with the power of their live show. And just when I was thinking that surely they would put on an amazing show, but they couldn't be better than they were the last time I saw them. Guess what? They were better than they were the last time I saw them. They will likely be even better the next they play so make sure to get out there and check them out!

I also need to give a huge thank you to Joe Fielder over at Radio Free Silver Lake for presenting the show along with us, and all the help he has given us along the way. It is worth mentioning, by the way, that his monthly event Let's Independent is always a good time, and this month's line up looks killer. I think I know where I'll be on Tuesday night...

And while I anxiously wait for January 9 when we get to do this all over again (more details to come on that one soon.) I'm biding my time by working on a year end list or two, and exploring the internet for some fun holiday themed goodies for y'all. So be on the lookout.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stay Awake Until Daybreak Calls Us Back to Our Rooms

Hello! I just want to quickly remind you that Kristen and I are DJ-ing at the Scene tonight before, after, and in-between sets from our pals (and not so secret crushes) Princeton, Le Switch, and the Health Club.

You can read my recent interview with Aaron Kyle (of Le Switch) here.

The only thing that could make us any happier about the show tonight is knowing that we will see all of your lovely faces there! Leave your full name in a comment at the end of this post, the blog on our Myspace page, or email us at Then you will be added to the $3 RSVP list, and everybody wins!

Also, to help get you into the dance party spirit, I have posted the video for "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees below. Don't even try to pretend that it doesn't make you smile...

Bee Gees - Night Fever (Video)

Monday, December 10, 2007

you hit the switch

Since a certain someone, for anonymity’s sake let’s just call her “Squaregirl M” inadvertently missed the Thermals show this past Friday night at the Echoplex, it looks like a certain other Squaregirl will have to break her blogging silence. Although I do not know the band’s catalogue of music as well and am not quite as eloquent, I will do my best and keep it short and sweet.

So in a nutshell, the Thermals are totally awesome live. The trio from Portland put on a powerful “post-pop punk” performance that kept the entire crowd rocking from the first note to the last. Limited stage banter besides the occasional shout out to LA, and adoration of Portland, helped keep the all ages crowd focused, hopping in place and even break out into mosh pits from time to time. Kathy and Hutch would turn to one another, face to face, playing within a few feet of each other and smile. Adorable.

Although the band did not play all my favorites, I did finally get to hear “Back to Gray” and “How We Know” live, two songs that are very personal to me, that made my heart jump into my throat. In a good way. And although I didn’t get to hear “Test Pattern”, the Thermals almost made it up to me with a great cover of Built to Spill’s “Big Dipper.” I also fell in love anew with “Returning to the Fold” which sounds very Replacements-esque to me. But I could be off on that. I generally am.

All in all, it was a great show. So next time they play, go see them. And in somebody else’s words “The Thermals are just a good time.”

The Thermals - Test Pattern
Built to Spill - Big Dipper


Months and months back when we started putting this dream show together. Kristen and I had the brilliant idea to get anyone who could make it from all of the bands playing our night on the 12, give them pizza, give them beer, record the ensuing conversation, and then post what sense we could make of it here. Um, it’s now Tuesday the 11, this hasn’t happened and I don’t think that it ever will. Though it is likely to go down in squaregirl history as one of my least plausible ideas (thanks Kristen for humoring me at least.) Still bound and determined to get an interview with some one in one of the bands before the show, I sat in my office and wondered to myself, “Who is awesome, and likely to be bored enough at work to take part in a completely spontaneous and unprepared interview via AIM?” The answer on both fronts (particularly the former,) is Aaron Kyle of Le Switch. Aaron and I chatted a bit about the formation of the band, Myspace, and per his recommendation I have at least one more record to add to my already quite long list of records I need to own.

SQGM: First of all, I need to thank you (collectively) for being the squaregils first friends on myspace (after me and Kristen.)

AK: Were we? That's neat. Prolly cause I'm on online all day.

SQGM: And your our favorite L.A. band.

AK: Even better!

SQGM: So i think we asked you first, but still...

AK: I pressed that approve button with gusto..Let me tell you

SQGM: That's what we like to hear!

AK: Hahahahaha. I haven't pressed an approve button like that since.

SQGM: Aww.
So I'm curious as to how things progressed in the early days, I know it was just you and joe at first.

AK: Yeah.

SQGM: Did you play many shows as a duo?

AK: Yeah we played a bunch, that was how we [were] rolling those days.
I think we played with the monolators as a 2 piece at Mr. T's. That's when they were a 2 piece, lot's of 2's.

SQGM: Oh interesting.

AK: Yeah. It was cool seeing another band that was a two peice, gave us comfort.

SQGM: This was 2005, right? Or before?

AK: Yeah that was 2005, we met in 2004. Joe and I at first didn't really think that we should have this big sound. we were really content on the two piece idea cause then we only had to worry about us, but he was playing on a suitcase drum set with percussion then.

SQGM: Interesting.

AK: Yeah. We planned for it to be as stripped down as possible, but then Maria came along. she was like, "I play the trumpet and viola." She said that could could fill out bass stuff on the viola
so we stuck with it for like 7 or months, 7 or 8.

SQGM: With the duo thing, or as a three- piece?

AK: 3 piece, we were only a duo for like 5 months, end of 2005 into 2006. When we got together in NY he played a full kit and we stuck with that cause it was a lot bigger. Haven't gone back to the suitcase since. although I do love it.

SQGM: I can't imagine that it would be quite as condusive to what you guys are doing now, but yeah, I bet that sounded pretty cool. Any recordings from those days?

AK: ummm. Yeah there's an entire record Joe and I did with our friend Laura right before I went on tour across the country - solo. It's just an Aaron Kyle record, but some switch songs on there in their beginnings.

SQGM: I think that I've heard tale of this record...

AK: Hahahahaha. Possibly, I have a handful of copies.

SQGM: So once you went into three piece territory w/ maria was it just a case of "well we might as well add keyboards, and and a full time bass player" ?

AK: Sorda, yeah. I think we got a little tired of it sounding so thin. We asked Chris to come play with us for a few shows. See how it went. It was just kind of like..Let's get bass player,
but Chris isn't a bass player. He's a guitar player in disguise. He's a better guitarist than anyone I know.

SQGM: I hate to admit it, but i've never noticed whether or not he plays guitar on any of your live songs, or if it is just him on bass, you on guitar?

AK: Chris plays bass live all the time.

SQGM: Okay, that's what i thought. have you ever entertained the idea of trading instruments during the show? Do you play bass at all?

AK:I can play bass, but it'd be hard to play his basslines and sing. He pretty much makes it so no one can play his stuff. Hehehe.

SQGM: So the guitar talents of Christopher Harrison will remain hidden to Le Switch fans?

AK: Maybe on the new record you'll hear some Chris on guitar.

SQGM: Ooh something to look forward to. Are you recording another ep, or a full length?

AK: A full length, 10 songs.

SQGM: Oh nice.

AK: Yeah.

SQGM: Was the next record always going to be a full length or did that change once you got the label behind you?
Le Switch recently signed with local label, Autumn Tone Records.

SQGM: Congratulations on that by the way.

AK: We actually changed it when we started recording. We had 7 (songs,) and we were like it's only 3 more for a full length. Sooo, I had a new song. We had an old song that we never play live, and josh had a song that I really liked. So we decided, why not make it a full length?

SQGM: Sounds like a good plan. On that note, one thing that is really intriguing to me about your band is that you list "bands we like" under the influences section on Myspace. I find that alot of bands list so many bands as "influences" then don't sound as interesting as any of them yet, I hear some element of most of the "bands you like" in Le Switch. But it all works together as something different. Sorry for the long lead in on that one, but that is something that has always been fascinating to me about you guys. And having said that, any new stylistic directions that we can listen out for on the new record?

AK: Hahahaha. Ummm, that's cool. We all love music soo much, we're really just music music geeks that love to play music too. As far as they changing on this new record, I think people can expect things to be more orchestrated. On our last was everything you heard live was how you hear it on the recording, this one will be the same just with a little [more] ummmph.

SQGM: Ooh very nice. Yeah the music geeks that play music too thing really comes across for your band. Which i think is good. I can't honestly say that iI trust musicians who say they don't listen to that much music. I find that slightly confusing.

AK: Yeah. I always think that's weird too. Like most of my fave local bands have great tastes in music and love all kinds of music

SQGM: Who are some of your favorite local bands?

AK:Well, I have a lot.

SQGM: Okay, top 3 then?

AK: Too hard. Cause I like so many for so many different reasons. The Broken West, Division Day, Tandemoro, The Henry Clay People, The Parson Redheads, I Make This Sound... I could go on and On..but I think these bands are some of the best.

SQGM: Okay, now I'll ask an even harder question. Favorite record released in the 1960s?

AK: In the 1960's huh?

SQGM: Or the 1970s You pick.

AK: I only get to pick one?

SQGM: Okay both.

AK: That's too hard. The 70's I'd have to go with all time favorite is, Donny Hathaway – Live. That album changed my life.

SQGM: Oh cool. I have a 45 of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack covering "You've Got a Friend.” It's pretty great.

AK: That song is pretty sick live, he does a cover of jealous friend live too.

SQGM: Is it both of them performing it?

AK: Just him and his band at the troubadour in LA in 1071, 1971. Hahaha, 1071. He's really old... He knew Jesus.

SQGM: I bet the troubadour was quite different in 1071. I imagine it was an outdoor venue then?

AK: Yeah, totally, lots of stoneware --- Maria joke.

SQGM: Well, I will certainly have to add that to my list of albums to pick up. You know, you could actually choose your favorite record from each decade from the 60s up until the present day. I'd be happy to print that.

AK: Revolver by the Beatles in the 60's.

SQGM: Good one.

AK: 80's - Out of Step - Minor Threat

SQGM: Were you in a hardcore band when you were a teenager?

AK: Maybe… The growl comes from somewhere.

SQGM: :)

AK: 90's - There's Nothing Wrong With Love - Built To Spill. They changed my life in high school. I thought everything was punk rock up until I heard Built to Spill, and Sebadoh. First indie rock show I ever saw, was Sebadoh - during Harmacy at the El Rey. They blew my mind. Dino Jr's is a runner up for the 90's.

SQGM: And it's funny, that kind of sounds like the story from [Sebadoh song] "Gimme Indie Rock."

AK: I just stepped out of the, "Our Band Could be Your Life" book.

SQGM: Oh you mean you just read it?

AK: No, I meant it sounds like I just read it and stepped out of it.

SQGM: Yeah, it really does.

This led to a brief tangent about the possibility of any new movements like the ones covered in that book occuring, and then we had to carry on with the rest of our respective days. However, movement or no, I think Le Switch are a band that people will be talking about for years to come. They may even change a few lives along the way...

Le Switch are headlining our Squargirls night Wednesday December 12 at the Scene Bar in Glendale, and I don't think that it is possible for us to be any more excited about this fact. You can be on the look out for a guest DJ set from Mr. Aaron Kyle at a future Squaregirls night. And also be on the look out for the very first Le Switch full length record in April or May of 2008, which will be released through Autumn Tone Records! It will feature my favorite Le Switch song, “Pristine!" Hopefully if you've ever caught their live show you understand my excitement behind that one. In the meantime, you can download the song "Tounge Tied" from their EP Hello Today, which they self released earlier this year.

Listening Too Long To One Song: The Beach Boys 'Disney Girls (1957)

It's a crazy day at work today, and in addition I am in the process of editing a recent interview that I conducted with Aaron Kyle from Le Switch. Therefore I am not left with my usual amount of time to obsess about a pop song (that's probably a good thing.) All I can really say about "Disney Girls (1957)" is that it's perfect. There is the sweet waltz of the melody. The sigh (good sigh) inducing nostalgic lyrics which were written by Bruce Johnston in response to the seeming deterioration of the (then) current generation, and to celebrate simpler times: "Reality, it's not for me, and it makes me laugh/ Fantasy world and disney girls, I'm coming back." Perhaps too sweet and simple a world to imagine living in all the time, but it's a nice thought. And I think most people would be kidding themselves if they said that they never longed for a much less complicated life. This song offers a perfectly brief escape into that feeling without having to spend too much time there. Then there is the build up to the multi- part harmonies about 3/4 of the way through that seem to bring everything in the world around you to a stand still, and leave you wondering, "How does anyone pull that off?" I know they are the Beach Boys, and they are known for pulling off those insanely beautiful, layered harmonies, but seriously, how? The song shows up on the 1971 album "Surf's Up." You can find it, reissued along with "Sunflower," here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

See Her Runing Around She's The Girl About Town That You (Probably Haven't) Heard Of

Just arrived home from seeing Wreckless Eric at Safari Sam's. He recorded songs for Stiff Records in the 70s (alongside Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe,) and released one of the most charming singles (in my humble opinion) to be associated with the punk movement, "Whole Wide World." That song sounded great tonight. He made full display of the sense of humor he is known for both in lyrics, and banter, "More acoustic guitar, more vocals, for her not me!" The her was Amy Rigby, who I'm sorry to say I didn't know of previously. She held her own when she took the lead on various songs, and had fun with her celver lyrics. All around good show, but wow am I tired.

So why post now you ask? Well, ordinarily I skip the rundown of upcoming shows/recommendations, figuring those are better left to the experts (namely Radio Free Silver Lake, and You Set The Scene.) If there is something that I feel is a must see, I'll mention it. But since there are some seriously amazing shows coming up, I thought I would list the rundown for the weekend and next week.

Friday (Tonight) 12/7:

Radars To The Sky, The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, The Henry Clay People, & The Hectors at Spaceland

Naked Raygun at The Knitting Factory

From First To Last at The Troubadour

Meredith Meyer, Lissie, Todd McLaughlin, Malcolm Sosa, & Wheels of Fortune at Pehrspace

The Natural Disasters, National Treasure, Joshua Lanes, & The Monolators at Mr T's Bowl

Andrew Bird at The Orpheum

Jon Brion & Nels Cline at Largo

Idyllists, The Great Gleaming Sea, Black Sugar, & Rocking Horse People at The Scene

The Thermals, The Big Sleep, & The Scandells at The Echoplex

Club Underground pres The Bloody Hollies at The Echo

Jeremy Jay, Maria, The Chapin Sisters, & Black Umbrella at The Smell

Everybody & Nino Astronauta at El Cid

Deborah Harry at The Henry Fonda

Dengue Fever at The Getty

Your options for Friday night are essentially endless. So it really comes down to what you are most in the mood for. If you were/are into American post punk/hardcore in the mid- eighties then you likely already knew that Naked Raygun are playing at the Knitting Factory, and you likely already have a ticket. This is just a friendly reminder for you. If you prefer something a bit more local band friendly, the line-up at Spaceland promises to be good. I've not yet seen Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, but I've seen The Henry Clay People, Radars To The Sky, and The Hectors. If you are looking for a night of fun, solid, local rock bands I don't think you will be disappointed with this one. The Natural Disasters, and The Monolators at Mr. T's Bowl, and Malcolm Sosa of Rademacher at Pehrspace are other notalable options in the way of local stuff. Of course my favorite (almost) local popstars Maria are playing at the Smell along with Jeremy Jay, The Chapin Sisters, and Black Umbrella. I've seen all of these bands before, and they are all fantastic. This is certainly the show that I would attend if I weren't already planning on The Thermals at the Echoplex. The Thermals are one of those bands that I try to see every time they make it to town. I love all of their songs, and they have tons of energy on stage that always seems to carry into the audience. Plus, at the risk of sounding totally girly about it, Hutch is really nice to look at.

Saturday 12/8:

Heloise & The Savoir Faire, Lovelikefire, Alex And Sam, & Lola Gayle-Sandgren at Bordello

Not In The House, Scrappers, Half Assteroids, & Fasto Jetson at Mr T’s Bowl

Tea Leaf Green @ The Troubadour

Dirt Dress, Black Shirts & Combat! at Pehrspace

Jon Brion & Nels Cline at Largo

Stay Fucked, Good For Cows, Grandpire at The Smell

The Moving Picture Show at The Crash Mansion

Balkan Beat Box & Dengue Fever at The Echoplex

This Moment in Black History, Haunted George, & The Slighted at The Scene

Juliette & The Licks, Scissors For Lefty, & Suffrajett at The Roxy

The Coral Sea, The Playing Favorites (feat. members of Sugarcult and Lagwagon), Light FM, & Exitmusic at Spaceland

There are definitely some good options on Saturday. However, there is really nothing appealing enough to have me reconsidering taking a much needed break in order to decorate my Christmas tree (and likely fall asleep at 9:30...) Any one else have a suggestion or two?

Sunday 12/9:

Ragsy at The Hotel Cafe

Heloise & The Savoir Faire, Tara Busch, & Lil’ JJ Fats From The Valley Of The Ashes at Tangier

Tommy Peacock and the Gas, The Weazels, & Moan Red at The Scene

Punk Rock Karaoke at Spaceland

Part Time Punks w/ Medium Medium, & Abe Vigoda at The Echo

Demoted & Sirvenamar at Mr T’s Bowl

Shonen Knife at The Knitting Factory

Prefuse 73 at The Troubadour

Sunday is a tough call. Do I attend what is sure to be an endlessly fun, loud, pop night with Japanese girl group Shonen Knife , or what is sure to be an excellent, and very cool dance party from post punk heroes Medium Medium at the Echo? Perhaps I'll have compensate for my lack of show going on Saturday by making it to two on Sunday? We'll see.

Monday 12/10:

Radio Free Silver Lake Presents Rock Against HD w/ The Movies, The Western States Motel, Sarah (The Happy Hollows) Negahdari, The Spires, Thailand, & James Patrick (Buffalo Roam) at Safari Sam’s

Brandon Mayer And The Hidden Powers at The Silver Lake Lounge

Deerhoof @ The Avalon

The Binges @ Spaceland

Tool at The Nokia Theatre

Goon Moon at The Troubadour

Performer Magazine presents: The Binges, The Wildbirds, Codebreaker at Spaceland

Indie 103.1’s Check One.. Two w/ Eskimohunter at The Viper Room

Radio Free Silver Lake's Rock Against HD benefit at Safari Sam's has an amazing line up. You can hear tracks from artists that are playing the night here. And it's for a good cause. Both squaregirls will be in attendance, and so should you!

Tuesday 12/11:

Shiloe, Wait Think Fast, The New Room, & Never At Night at The Scene

John Gold, The Rosewood Thieves, & Eugene at Bordello

Icarus Line at Safari Sam’s

The Shys at The Troubadour

David Bazan (of Pedro The Lion) at Spaceland

The Mojave & Hollerado at The Silver Lake Lounge

I don't know much about most of the artists that are playing this night, except for Dave Bazan. I don't spend too much time with my Pedro The Lion records these days, but every time I see Dave Bazan live I tend to want to. He's got a really interesting way with words, and his live performance commands ones attenion in a very subtle way.

Wednesday 12/12:

Squaregirls & Radio Free Silver Lake Present Le Switch, Princeton, & The Health Club at The Scene

AM Pacific, Gretchen Lieberum, Marina’s Daughter, & The Golden Ratio @ Bordello

Club Moscow w/ Moving Picture Show & The Squares @ Boardner’s

Last Kiss Or Kill Show w/ Bang Sugar Bang, The Randies, Midway, Silver Needle, & Underwater City People at El Cid

Indie 103 present CLUB NME w/ Office, Tiger City, Via Audio at Spaceland

Mia Doi Todd, Anders & Woods, & Sara Lov at Tangier

Jesca Hoop at The Troubadour

The Rosewood Thieves, Eugene, Eyes In Elegance, Voxhaul Broadcast, & Morning Benders at The Silver Lake Lounge

You should already know where I'll be on this night, but here is another friendly reminder. We Squaregirls are so far beyond excited to be presenting our night at the Scene Bar with Princeton, The Health Club, and our most major crush Le Switch. Yep, the squaregirls' date with Le Switch that we've been looking forward to for ages is finally here! To celebrate the occasion we are pulling out some of our favorite vinyl, and baking cookies! Surely you won't want to miss this one...

Thursday 12/13:

The Modlins Record Release Party w/ Eux Autres, Swim Party, & The Fresas @ The Silver Lake Lounge

Ferraby Lionheart & Richard Hawley @ The Troubadour

West Indian Girl, Sara Melson, & DJ Scott Sterling @ Bordello

If I haven't given way to a sleep deprivation coma, I'll be at the Silver Lake Lounge on this night. I love everything that I've heard from Eux Autres, and I'm trying deperately to figure out where I know about The Modlins from. What I'm listening to right now sounds pretty cute.

Friday 12/14:

Christmas Sweater Party w/ The Deadly Syndrome, The Mae-Shi, The Happy Hollows, The Pity Party, & Eskimohunter @ The Crash Mansion

Imperial Teen & Midnight Movies @ The Troubadour

Jessica Fichot, Pink Mochi, Hearts Of Palm UK, & Murder On The Moon @ El Cid

The Christmas Sweater festival sounds intriguing, and Imperial Teen are always great. However, for me, Friday will be a day of rest. Anyone else know anything good coming up? Let us know, we always love to hear it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ladies And Gentlemen Give It Up For The Dap Kings

All too often I think I take for granted just how many good concerts we citizens of Los Angeles have the opportunity to see. So when I take the time to really think about it, I'm flat out amazed. The fact that two of the best shows I've seen so far in my life happened within the space of less than a week has me pretty amazed right now.

Last night's show from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the El Rey could not have been much more different from the Jonathan Richman show that I wrote about earlier in the week. However, they were both shows that made me so aware of why I love music as much as I do. The Dap Kings seem to exist completely in another time (i.e. sometime in the 1960s.) I knew this from listening to their recordings so after the introduction was given, and the curtain was cleared, I prepared myself for a SHOW. The eight piece Dap Kings took the stage, impeccably dressed, and warmed the crowd up with delightful, impossibly tight (you know, to the point where the horn palyers moved their instruments back and forth in unison while playing) soul. Watching them was a bit awe inspiring, especially when Binky Griptite energed as the leader. He greeted the crowd, introduced the band, and sang a song. Then it came time for him to introduce Sharon Jones. It was clear from the beginning that she is a born performer. She burst onto stage dancing (and I'm not entirely sure that she ever stopped dancing during the performance.) She gave us some fantastic lines, "I need to strut before this next one, give me some struttin' music." The audience members that were pulled on stage to dance (and there were quite a few) were all wildly entertaining. And her voice is, well there really aren't enough descriptive words for how powerful her voice is. Her cover of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," gave me chills. Posted below is a video of her, her band, and Lee Fields rehearsing a James Brown montage. I think it's pretty neat. "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," is included at the end.

Sharon Jones Rehearsing James Brown Medley with Lee Fields

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: The Pastels "Nothing To Be Done"

Often when you discover the band that is your new favorite band, the reaction is immediate. There is something contained within those first few chords that makes you realize, "Oh right, surely this band will change everything for me." Other times (most times I find) it's a slower process. You hear one song, maybe enjoy that song then kind of forget about it, but something makes you go back and listen to it a few more times. So then you buy one album from that band, and you listen to that album a few times. Then you figure, "Well I really like that album, I should have all of their albums." Then you can't stop listening to those albums, and so on and so forth until you realize that you probably have a new favorite band.

Such was the case with me and The Pastels, and I think,"Nothing To Be Done," is one of their strongest songs. It opens with the kind of guitar riff that tends to inspire air guitar then keeps that energy going throughout. And no matter how many times I listen, I always get caught up in the story. It's about a relationship which may or may not happen with the boy character being the one who wants to go all in, and the girl remaining skeptical until the song nears it's close. Stephen Pastel presents the line, "Simply nothing to be done, tell me I'm the only one..." which Aggi Wright picks up and carries on as a refrain until the end of the song. If you have become invested in the story, this makes for a very satifying ending. If you haven't become invested, the melody of that refrian is so good you probably won't be able to stop humming it for the rest of the day. And you probably won't mind one bit.

You can find "Nothing to be Done," on the compilation "Truckload of Trouble" which is a very good place to start if you feel like you might want to get into the Pastels. If you simply want to hear the song, there is a VERY good chance that I will play it at our Squaregirls night on December 12 (next week!) at the Scene Bar in Glendale. Oh yeah, and there will be awesome bands there too...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Your World is Beautiful... I'll Take The Subway to Your Suburb Some Time

Despite the fact that I was dead tired on Friday night (and had for some crazy reason agreed to pick up a shift at the restuarant where I used to work the next morning) I went out to Safari Sam's because I knew that I was in for something great. I did not realize that I was in for what might be the best show I have ever seen. Listening to live Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers live albums gave the impression that the songs would be great, the stage banter would be top notch, and I would be thoroughly charmed. However, nothing could prepare me for what it's like to actually be there. The line up was simply Tommy Larkins on the drums, and Jonathan alternating between the guitar, and the sleigh bells. The sleigh bell segments had him showing off some very fun dance moves, but then again so did many of the guitar segments. He sang effortlessly in four different languages (English, Spanish, French, and Italian.) During the first Spanish song he translated almost every line after he sung them, during the Italian song he translated one word teasingly commenting afterwards, "And that's all you get." You can tell that he enjoys interacting with his audience, and it was clear that nearly everyone in attendance felt the same way towards him. It was the highest level of respect for an artist that I have ever seen from a crowd. Regardless of the slightly uncomfortable atmosphere (a packed room with no air conditioning) everyone stood and watched attentively not wanting to miss a thing. Except for the couples who were slow dancing. Something tells me that any future Jonathan Richman show that I attend will not seem complete without couples slow dancing. I wish that I could offer more to describe how amazing a show it actually was, but I think it's something you just have to see for yourself. In the meantime check out the video posted below of crowd pleaser, "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar."

And just as a friendly reminder, the first Modern Lovers album was recently re-issued. That one was highest in the rotation for me this past weekend, but I also finally spent some time with the newest release from Malcolm Middleton, "A Birghter Beat." I'd been meaning to pick it up for awhile, as his album, "Into the Woods" was one of my favorites of 2005. "A Brighter Beat," serves as further proof of why I tend to like Scottish musicians more than most all other musicians. Anyone else see a great show/ discover a great album over the weekend? Please, do tell!

Jonathan Richman - I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Never Got My Ears Pierced and Look How I Turned Out

Los Campesinos! were so much fun at the Echo last night. I had high expectations going into this one as all of their songs are insanely catchy, and they produced what is so far my favorite single of the year, "The International Tweexcore Underground." They did not dissapoint. The only minor complaint that anyone in my group had was that Aleksandra Campesions!' mic wasn't quite loud enough. Though what we could hear of her vocals sounded great. Of course the live full energy blast of the aforementioned single made my week, but the same level of energy was present in every song. The breakout hit, "You! Me! Dancing!" worked particularly well in a live setting, as did closer "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks." That one ended with choreography! Also worth making note of was Gareth Campesinos!' charming stage banter. Self depricating comments, genuine exitement over the fact that they were staying in Hollywood, sincere appreciation for the crowd, and intros like this one, "This is a cover of a song by a band called Pavement..."

It broke my heart just a little that they didn't have vinyl copies of the "Inernational Tweexcore Underground" single along with them. The b-side contains covers of BOTH Heavenly's "C is the Heavenly Option, and"Black Flag's "Police Story," in order to appease the two characters in the song who are engaged in a pretty heavy twee v. hardcore argument. I was anxious obtain a copy so that I could finally hear what they had done with both songs. Fortunately I discovered that they are now posted on their Myspace page. Shockingly enough I'm slightly partial to "C is the Heavenly Option," but the Black Flag cover is pretty damn cool as well. Anyone else have any thoughts on the covers, and/or the live show? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Indie In One Minute AND Goth In One Minute

Wow, never again will I let another day go by without checking Rock Insider at least once, and nor should you. Jax posted this last Monday. So in case you missed it like I did, I'm reposting it here.

Then yesterday she posted this one, so I figured I would go ahead and make today "Twofer Tuesday." Except instead of back to back Led Zeppelin songs, you get back to back hilarious (and quite informative) videos. Almost as good, right?...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: The Whitsundays "Sorry James"

Mmm, tracks like this one make me feel like I am visiting some sort of parallel universe that is three parts 1964/ one part 2007. I also kind of feel like I want to stay there forever.

"Sorry James" is the sort of psychedelic, bouncy, reverb drenched pop that makes me want to put on a mini skirt, find a club filled with like minded people, and dance! Though the story it tells is a bittersweet one, it is nearly impossible to hear the music behind it without wanting to move.

The project is an intriguing direction for Paul Arnusch who spends most of his time wandering about in the territories of post punk (his work with the Floor,) and post rock (his work with Faunts.) I, for one, am ready to hear so much more from The Whitsundays. Fortunately for all of us their self titled debut album will be available via the excellent Friendly Fire label on January 22, 2008.

You can download "Sorry James" here:

The Whitsundays "Sorry James"

You can also check out the song "I Want It All" on their Myspace page (and become friends!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: Bubblegum Lemonade "That Thing You Do"

I recently received an email alerting me to the release of a compilation called "The Matinee Hit Parade" in celebration of the fact that Matinee Recordings turns 10 years old this month. The party that the label put on in celebration of this birthday remains one of my favorite live music events so far this year. You can click here to read my review of that show. So naturally an email from them announcing a "very special compilation," that features 13 Matinee artists providing "a new, 45-caliber A-side," made me jump up and down a little bit. It also made me feel a little guilty over the fact that I had not yet taken the time to become familiar with the myriad of exciting new Matinee signings including The Electric Pop Group and Bubblegum Lemonade. I immediately made my way to Matinee's Myspace page with the intention of using it as a spring board to get to the individual bands' pages. What I was greeted with, however, was a cover of a song that I love from a movie that I love, but not that many people seem to share my opinion of. Except the sweet, sixties style, pop that I adored in the original had been replaced with sweet, fuzzy, eighties style (but sixties influenced,) Scottish pop that I just might adore even more. Listening to the song repeatedly for the past few days hasn't helped me to make up my mind. I think that a viewing of "That Thing You Do" might be the only thing to resolve this. Although, Bubblegum Lemonade do get bonus points for being a band that actually exists, and for being Scottish.

You can listen to Bubblegum Lemonade's cover of the song "That Thing You Do"

Once I'm finally past my current state of nostalgic bliss, I expect to dive fully into the Matinee Hit Parade compilation. The track list looks kind of amazing:

1. Math and Physics Club - A Little Romance
2. Would-Be-Goods - Temporary Best Friend
3. The Lucksmiths - Good Light
4. The Electric Pop Group - My Only Inspiration
5. Clay Hips - Failure
6. Bubblegum Lemonade - Tyler
7. The Hermit Crabs - Sophia
8. Harper Lee - Ilene
9. The Guild League - Call To Prayer
10. Strawberry Whiplash - Summershine
11. Slipslide - Let Things Fall Apart
12. The Pines - Train From Wycombe
13. Lovejoy - Astronauts

You can download TWO tracks from the compilation below. The first is Bubblegum Lemonade proving that they have so much more to offer than simply great covers. The second is The Electric Pop Group proving that they have so much to offer period.

Bubblegum Lemonade "Tyler"
The Electric Pop Group "My Only Inspiration"

You can pay a visit to the Matinee Recordings website to pick up your very own copy of this release:

Matinee Order

Check out the news on all of the aforementioned new signings, and long-time favorites as well:

Matinee News

And listen to songs from these artists by going here:

Matinee Sounds

Your new favorite band might just be waiting for you...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

There's Really Nothing To Understand, Let's Go And See Our Favorite Band

If only every night of mine could be spent watching outstanding ROCK bands while also getting to play Archers Of Loaf to a crowd of people who are actually excited to hear Archers Of Loaf.

Last night at the Scene was tremendous ammounts of fun. Huge thanks go out to the Bentleys, The Forms, The Valley Arena, and Signal Hill. All played fantastic sets. Signal Hill closed the night on just the right note with their beautiful, LOUD, instrumental, post- rock jams. I'll be the first to admit that LOUD, instrumental post- rock jams aren't my number one go to when it comes to music, but WOW! I strongly recommend that you see them live as soon as you can.

Speaking of my number one go to when it comes to music though, the YAY! label has a night at the Smell on Saturday. I don't think that it is actually possible for me to be more excited about this. The YAY! label has been my favorite local (well, Oxnard, close enough) musical discovery in recent memory. They claim to be, "Here to put the fun back in pop!" So far they are doing a fantastic job. They prefer releases to be on vinyl, and publish fanzines. Seriously, fanzines. What is not to love? Four of the YAY! bands will be at the Smell on Saturday November 17:


The Tartans


Sea Lions

So far I've only seen Maria, and Sea Lions live. Both bands made me smile. I'm fairly confident that the Tartans and Catwalk will have the same effect. Hopefully, I'll see some of you there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Come Spend Some Time With Us! This Wednesday November 14th at the Scene Bar!

It's here! It's here! Us Squaregilrs are beyond excited to be presenting this night along with Radio Free Silver Lake, and Rock Insider.

You can (and really should) visit all of the bands on myspace by clicking on the following links:

The Valley Arena

The Forms

The Bentleys

Signal Hill

We've heard some amazing things about each band's live show. Including this quote from Radio Free Silver Lake,

"We are helping put on a great night at The Scene with Rock Insider and Square Girls featuring The Valley Arena, The Bentleys, The Forms, and Signal Hill – the latter of which are a fucking incredible post rock outfit who are responsible for one of my favorite shows so far this year."

And that guy goes to ALOT of shows. Surely this one is not to be missed.

The Squaregirls will be your DJs for the night, so come on over and say, "hi." We can't wait to see all of you there!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Listening Too Long To One Song: John Cale "Charlemagne"

Is it just me, or do we all have a handful of songs that we have to hear again and again, try to unravel until we can finally pinpoint what it is that makes them so good, and why exactly it is they have the effect that they do on us? The Hold Steady have song called "Certain Songs" which states that, "Certain songs get so scratched into our souls." John Cale's song "Charlemagne" has been one of those for me for a long time. I recently noticed it on a playlist that I made awhile back. I put it on, and sure enough, I have found it difficult to listen to anything else. "Charlemagne" shows up a little over half way through the album Vintage Violence. Though the entire album is great, I always seem to get stuck on that particular song. There is something about the lovely intro, beginning only with piano and viola while the rest of the instruments unassumingly filter in. Something about the line "Many tries, many tries, simple stories are the best." Something about the vocals, the outro...

You can buy a copy of Vintage Violence through either of the links posted below:

John Cale Vintage Violence

John Cale Vintage Violence-Remastered

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Top of the Pops!

Art Brut may very well be my new favorite live band. They rocked through their catalouge last night at the Henry Fonda with exactly the kind of energy and sense of fun that you would expect to see from Art Brut. I've missed them almost too many times to count now, and I was beginning to think that they might turn into a band that I would never see perform. Due to this, I'd been imagining Eddie Argos' stage banter as the stuff of legend, I was not disappointed. My personal favorite line of the night came when he introduced "Good Weekend:" "It was number one, in Narnia... Aslan bought the first copy." Am I going to hell for thinking that is hilarious? Excellent local band Kissing tigers got um, a shout out later in the song. So did the Mighty Lemon Drops. This resulted in a good ammount of celebration where we were standing, with members of both of those bands in attendance. Makes sense as Dave Newton (the Mighty Lemon Drops) produced albums for openers the Blood Arm (who I sadly missed due to Santa Monica traffic,) and Kissing Tigers. He is producing the new album for the Henry Clay People as well. I'm going to take a wild guess that it will be fantastic, because they are fantastic. And since I attended this show with Joey from the Henry Clay People, I was introduced to Dave. Amazingly, I managed to make it through the evening without asking him a single nerdy C86 question.

Then of course "America's number 1 bar band" the Hold Steady are always a good time, I can't descibe what it is that makes me love this band so much. Something about the way Craig Finn presents his stories of kids and "killer parties," mixed in with a fair ammount of religious imagery is completely endearing (he even tends to act out moments of dialougue in the songs.) Everyone else in the band the band knows how to put on a good show, and it is near impossible to watch them without smiling. I can't imagine ever getting tired of watching them, and I really can't believe that I almost talked myself out of this one because I was feeling anti-social. No longer, the upcoming week brings me back to my usual schedule of a show nearly every night culminating with the Radio Free Silver Lake/Rock Insider/Squaregirls (!) presented night with the Valley Arena/the Forms/the Bentleys/Signal Hill on Wednesday the 14 at the Scene Bar in Glendale (ahem.) The Hold Steady/Art Brut was just the thing to get me back on track!

Check out Art Brut performing a similar rendition of "Good Weekend" to the one I saw last night posted below.

Art Brut - Good Weekend - Live @ Hideout 09/08/07 w/ banter

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


As much as I enjoy recieving emails from Geographic Music, there is always a certain element of sadness involved. They never contain updates on a new Pastels album, and they are usually announcing some extraordinarily cool film screening that I can never attend because, sadly, I don't live in Glasgow. For those of you that are curious, Geographic is a small imprint of Domino Records run by the Pastels to introduce us to interesting artists that span a variety of genres beyond simply rock/pop (jazz, world, etc.) The latest email that I recieved from them was no exception to the sadness rule, announcing both the debut album, and demise of The Royal We.


The Royal We walk the line between straightforward rock and giddy pop better than most bands I have heard in a while. I personally cannot stop listening to the single "All The Rage." It's exciting, and it's catchy as hell. The kind of song that you will desperately wish to have stuck in your head for days. The rest of the songs that I've heard so far are equally as exciting, and equally as enjoyable. As I mentioned, the sad part of this post is the Royal We are no more. They played their final show to some seriously lucky Glaswegians last night. Sigh. At least they left us with what promises to be an outstanding first and last album. You can pick up your copy of it here:


Friday, November 2, 2007


Okay, so the Squaregirls have admitted to having crushes on bands in the past (see our recent post about Le Switch). But honestly, with so many good bands out there, can we really be expected to give our loyalty to just one? With the release of their lovely new EP, “Baby, I’m Yours,” Math & Physics Club have been the subject of the majority of our infatuation lately.

Founding members James and Charles grew up in Olympia, Washington, listening to huge amounts of Beat Happening, Teenage Fanclub, the Stone Roses (they do a fantastic cover of “Sally Cinnamon”), the Housemartins, and the Posies. Last (but not least) to join the band Ethan (bass) shares these affinities, particularly for the Posies. Kevin (drums) grew up playing jazz. Saundrah was classically trained in violin and viola. She was also part of an Americana group, and an experimental "Wall of Sound" band before joining Math & Physics Club. Collectively, they make excellent use of their various influences and backgrounds to create recordings that will fit perfectly in your collection alongside any of the aforementioned bands.

Squaregirl Marion was lucky enough to sit down with four of the quintet for a chat at the Crocodile Café in Seattle. After some clamoring over my digital recording device, we got right down to the serious, hard-hitting interview. Well, sort of.

SQGM: So you are all mathematicians, and physicists?

Kevin: We met in Cambridge in ’82. Charles had just been snubbed for the Nobel ... again.

SQGM: And that’s when you figured, forget academia, let’s start a band?

James: Well, the academic spotlight was getting to us, we wanted to kind of step away from that a little bit...

SQGM: Okay, in all seriousness. I’m curious, as an outsider: The Pacific Northwest seems so welcoming to anyone who wants to start a band. Is this really the case?

Charles: I think it is, Seattle just seems like a really supportive community.

James: I don’t know if it is just like people genuinely like you and they are willing to listen to you, or if they’re just really polite, maybe a little bit of both. Of course there is a little bit of competition, there always is, but we are pretty much able to avoid that. For the most part we are able to be around generally nice, supportive people. Plus, there is a huge tradition in the Northwest of DIY all-ages shows. That ethic is kind of underlying in everything.

Kevin: Yeah, maybe if you were in Minnesota or something, you know, everybody likes curling. Here, though, getting a band together is just the thing that people do. People don’t do it cause they want to make it big; it’s just a way that people hang out with their friends. You don’t always play the greatest gigs when you’re starting out, but you can get them. And you meet bands really fast.

James: Kevin’s probably the best one to talk to about this with cause he’s from Boston. We’re all from the Northwest, so he can tell you how it compares to a different town.

Kevin: Yeah, it’s very different. It’s way more cutthroat to even get a band [together]. Trying to book a show in Boston is a nightmare. There are many fewer places that you’d want to play. In Seattle there are a lot of places where you think, “It’d be alright to play there.” And in Boston you’re connected to New York and Philadelphia, and there is a big label thing going on. A lot of nights get booked up for up-and-coming label acts.

SQGM: It seems like this is a place where you can really feel comfortable experimenting. Even if you don’t know a particular style of music that well, you can still get something going?

James: Yeah, there are a lot of really small places that are really open to that.

Kevin: Of course, it does help, if you want to try something really wacky, to have some friends that are willing to go and watch it.

Charles: And if you are in a smaller band, or if you are underage, there is a really good house party circuit here.

James: That we never really figured out how to tap into.

Kevin: Although a house show was the first show that we ever played as a full band. It was Ethan’s friend who set it up, though.

SQGM: Wasn’t it something like you played two shows and then were signed to Matinee?

Kevin: It was one show, although that’s not really accurate. It was the first show we played as a band with the five of us, but James and Charles had been working on stuff for a while.

James: Yeah, it appeared as though this happened overnight, but it was actually something that had been coming together for a while.

Charles: The big goal for James and I was to put out a record, so instead of focusing on getting out and playing shows, we were more focused on finding someone to help us put out our record. We would have liked to have had shows too, but we didn’t really put our energy into that; we put our energy into getting a demo together and sending that out.

Ethan: Kevin, Saundrah and I joined probably within a three-month period of each other. I was the last one to join. Charles and James had put together songs, and when I heard an early incarnation of the band playing, I knew I really wanted to be a part of that. We were all able to put our mark on the EP, but they really shaped it.

Charles: The funny thing is though, talking about how supportive it is, we couldn’t find people to play with us for so long. We’d go see bands that we liked, and there would be tons of people there, but we just couldn’t figure out how to connect with them. And we didn’t know anyone.

James: I can’t tell you how many times me and Charles would go to a show, and we’d have this material, a disk, in the back of our pockets. We’d be sweating with pure raw nerve, not wanting to go up and look like an idiot for talking to somebody. There was this divide between us and someone in a proper band playing a show.

Charles: We were just nervous to take that step and become, you know, a band. It seemed like such a huge thing to us.

SQGM: Was it more being intimidated of actually talking to people in the scene, or “Oh my God, this will make us a real band?”

James: I don’t know, that’s a good question. Probably a little of both. We were just shy, I think; we didn’t really know anybody.

Charles: We didn’t consider ourselves very good musicians and didn’t want to go up to someone and be like, “Hey man, do you know anybody? We’ve got this band.”

James: Right, you could go up and talk to people after shows, and people are always really nice. You could go up and talk to Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow after a Posies show, but it’s really different when you want to hand them something that you’ve done. Then it becomes about, are you abusing a relationship to further your musical goals?

SQGM: And where do you draw the line?

Charles: One thing that’s really different for us as opposed to other bands who are just starting out is that we only had a demo, but we were able to gain the support of Three Imaginary Girls and KEXP. So we never really had to hit the streets, except for our very first show at the Hideaway, before Ethan joined the band. We didn’t really have to create something out of completely nothing. We already had these people supporting us. Then people look at you a little differently. That probably affected how we transitioned into the scene.

SQGM: I’m sure, but I’m sure there was also a tremendous amount of work that went into the project before you got it to Three Imaginary Girls and KEXP?

James: Yes, a lot of work, but you know not any more or less than any other band. Just done a little bit differently.

Charles: You know, other bands play tons of shows, hone their skills that way. We were just kind of doing that in our basement, writing songs and practicing them. We didn’t really play them for anybody.

James: On occasion we’d play them for our girlfriends, or a group of friends, and at the end it would be like, “Well, are we going to go out to dinner now?” or “Hey, nice place you have here.” It was never anything about the music. So that made it even harder to go up to an actual musician and say, “Here, listen to this.”

Charles: That’s why the internet has been so revolutionary. You can just drop an mp3 out there and wait for somebody to come along.

Kevin: Yeah, with me it was like, “Hey, I just moved here from Boston and I don’t know anyone, so you guys wanna play?”

James: That was the biggest coup, scoring Kevin.

Kevin: Yeah, until you found out my hidden past.

The term “funk” is thrown around the table.

SQGM: You were in a funk band?

Kevin: No, I was a jazz drummer, and I played in a soul band in Boston, but I wouldn’t call it funk. All my life, I had only done this high-concept drumming. I was trying to write pop songs on my own, so I really just wanted to play drums in a pop band. These guys were the perfect fit. Some people have held that [past] against the band actually.

Charles: But we always thought when we were trying to get a band together, the most important thing would be to get a good drummer.

James: There are a ton of drummers, but it’s tough to find one that fits. You have all of these people with so much ability and they want to put every ounce of that into every song. But Kevin, and really everyone in this band, seems to have the ability to pull back depending on what’s needed for each song. And he looks good, does he not?

It is mutually agreed upon that Kevin looks good.

James: There was a time when we were in San Francisco at this crowded dessert place and we were waiting outside, and Kevin just went up to these two random people and talked them into coming to our show.

Kevin: Yeah, you caught me not only when I decided that I wanted to play drums in a pop band, but also when I went crazy.

James: Are you familiar with the A-Team?

Charles: Oh God.

Kevin: She’s going to print this.

Ethan: Stop talking.

James: If you were to line up the five members of the A-Team, and the five members of the Math & Physics Club, I think it would be unanimous that Kevin would be Faceman.

Kevin: That’s not so bad. I don’t get the leather jacket, though. I would want the faux leather jacket.

Ethan: I think James would be Murdock.

James: Yeah, I’m pretty much Murdock.

Charles: Ethan, you’re B.A. cause we have to knock you out to fly you anywhere.

James: Yeah, Ethan’s B.A. That makes [Charles] the Colonel by default.

Charles: And then Saundrah is Amy, I guess.

James: Yeah, yeah definitely. Just like on the A-Team, Amy doesn’t make appearances every time.

Charles: You know she’s there, you just don’t know where.

Saundrah is, in fact, at dinner with Tullycraft at this point.

SQGM: On that note, was it always the intention to have a girl in the band, or more, we need a violinist, and she’s really good?

Charles: No, we didn’t really have a plan in mind except we thought we would like to have some strings — cello, violin, somebody who did something a little different. Saundrah came up on Craigslist, and I remember reading her influences and thinking, “Oh, this could be cool.” So we just started emailing. She’s the first to admit she was never really into this kind of pop music, but she has a really great ear for melody and knowing what fits in what spot.

SQGM: It sounds like an interesting dynamic with the various musical backgrounds contained in the band. How does that affect the songwriting process?

Kevin: I think it’s impossible for five people to work together collectively without some chatter here and there, but if there were growing pains they were relatively minor. We were able to get the right sound pretty quick. We sort of immediately had the right sound, and then it was more a matter of just kind of guiding that sound along. And people saying, “Well what about this? Or this? Or this?” We got lucky.

Charles: There was definitely a transition from where James and I were controlling everything. We had all these songs that were all done, [but] we had to go from that to “Okay, how do we introduce songs? Where are they coming from? Who’s writing what?”

Kevin: The rest of us were sort of feeling that out. We were in various stages of our own creative process and determining what we wanted to contribute.

Charles: Plus, James and I had known each other since we were kids, and didn’t know any of them.

James: The first two EPs were kind of written before we had the rest of the band in place.

SQGM: I was actually wondering about that. So the first EP was pretty much together when the band was assembled; it just became about adding the missing components?

James: For the first EP, Charles and I even wrote bass lines, and drum parts, rough as they were.

Kevin: And I just rewrote them.

James: Yeah, we pretty much just dumped everything.

Kevin: Although I still play that little drum beat of yours in the middle of “Weekends Away.”

Charles: Most of the time it’s like, “I’m kind of feeling like this or something,” but that was one where we were like, “Do a Johnny Cash shuffle beat thing,” and he just came up with this (mimes the particular drum beat) and we were like, “Yeah!”

James: Cause that was something we couldn’t come up with on our little drum machine.

Charles: If we could we wouldn’t even talk to you [Kevin].

Kevin: You guys would be so much leaner.

James: Right before we all met, I actually found online, for free, a complete sampling of some vintage drum set that had good brush sounds, but there was no need to use them once we found [Kevin], so we just shelved it.

Kevin: I should have never spent that 7-50 on a set of brushes.

James: No, there is just no way to compare what we were trying to do with live drums.

SQGM: Well, on that note, can you talk about “Do You Keep a Diary” from the new EP. What made you decide to present an electropop song?

Charles: Yeah, you have to talk to Ethan about that.

SQGM: Okay, I was going to ask whose idea it was, cause personally I think it sounds great.

Ethan: Wait till you hear it tonight!

SQGM: Oh, is it going to be the full-on electronic version?

Ethan: No, it’s going to be a different version.

Charles: Did you hear it in Santa Barbara?

SQGM: I did.

Charles: So you heard the acoustic version.

Ethan: This version tonight is just going to be way more disco.

SQGM: Oh yes, a live band discofied version of an electropop song is the just kind of thing I like to see!

Kevin: Yeah, that one’s all Jones (Ethan).

Ethan: I like that kind of music, too. We tried that one out for the album. I thought it was a good song that had a good chorus, but it just wasn’t happening.

Charles: It sounded like a Stone Roses rip-off.

Ethan: It sounded like the Byrds to me. Which is fine, but...

SQGM: Sure, nothing wrong with sounding like the Byrds, but if you have the ability to take something in a more surprising direction...

Charles: (to Ethan) Did you have the EP version back then?

Ethan: Well, I had my first demo of it before the album came out. I just put it together tapping drum sounds on my keyboard. Actually, the funny thing about that is that the bass on that version is a stand-up bass sampled from a mellotron.

Charles: Ethan just passed that [song] around like “Hey, I did something fun with this. We don’t have to do anything with it...”

James: I think [Charles] and I heard it first, and I thought it was awesome. It totally made me more interested in the song. We talked about it for the album, but didn’t do anything with it, and Ethan just kept working on it. Then we had the EP and we figured it would be a good place to try it.

SQGM: Yeah, I like that it’s completely unexpected, and it works.

James: We do have an acoustic version of that song as well.

SQGM: Cool, for the B-sides collection?

Charles: For the EP comp.

Kevin: We recorded it live in studio.

James: Yeah, we did it all live in one take.

SQGM: Really?

Kevin: Yeah, actually that’s the song I’m most proud of just because I didn’t think we’d be able to do it.

James: I’m most proud of that as well. It was just pure musicianship.

At this point the band members had last-minute things to do to prepare for their show later in the evening. I thanked them for their time, and they could not have been any more gracious. So the infatuation grows.

Baby I'm Yours - Math & Physics Club

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just don't let the music stop…

After missing the Pipettes three times at SXSW ’06, I finally caught them last Thursday night at the Echoplex. These three lovely ladies and the fine lads of their backup band The Cassettes had to postpone their tour due to visa issues, which moved their venue from Avalon to the Echoplex. Unfortunate for them, but great for their fans, who didn’t have to pay $15 for parking and another $20 in fees to Ticketbastard.
With their adorable 60’s-esque pop, exuberant synchronized choreography and clever stage banter, the girls were well worth the wait. In matching polka dotted outfits, the Pipettes are cute enough to make any boy want to be their boyfriend and cool enough to make any girl want to be their best friend.
Although some of their songs might start to sound similar, the girls expertly reignited the night at key moments with some of their bigger toe tapping hits such as “It Hurts To See You Dance So Well”, “Dirty Mind" and my personal favorite “Pull Shapes."
For a Thursday night, it was a groovin’ good time. And as they say (sing) themselves…
We are the Pipettes
And we've got no regrets
If you haven't noticed yet
We're the prettiest girls you've ever met
We haven't finished with you yet

And they so haven't.

Pull Shapes - the Pipettes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I heard a Ringing Sound, and My Head Hit the Ground

Things have been kind of busy this week, and I've been kind of tired. Of course that didn't stop me from venturing over to the Wiltern on Tuesday night to see the Jesus & Mary Chain (fellow squaregirl Kristen found a great deal on tickets at the last minute.) We walked in a little late, just as they were about half way into "Head On." They were certainly employing their nicely distorted wall of sound. Although this show was a far cry from accounts of their early shows which were apparently very short, consisted of a solid wall of feedback, and often ended with the Reid brothers trashing their instruments and a great deal of crowd violence. This show had actual quiet moments. Mostly when they brought out a female singer whose identity has yet to be determined (definitely not Scarlett Johansson, likely not Annie Hardy of Giant Drag either) for "Just Like Honey," and "Sometimes Always." Whoever she was, she had a great voice that was similar to Hope Sandoval's (Mazzy Star.) Needless to say she was a good fit for "Sometimes Always" which was originally sung by Sandoval. They played Syd Barrett's "Vegetable Man" toward the end of the set which was the B- Side to their first single "Upside Down." I'm not cool enough to have heard any version of "Vegetable Man" before, but hearing it live was still a huge treat. It's a really wonderful song, and I will now be actively attempting to track down as many versions as I can (Pink Floyd, Sid Barrett solo, JAMC!) Of course I would have loved to have heard the song "Upside Down." Oh well, some other time, I hope...

The Jesus and Mary Chain Upside Down