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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Heavy Metal Heartbreak... Taking Over the World!

Whew! There are very few weekends that you can describe as honest to goodness Rock & Roll weekends, and my past weekend may very well not fit that description at all. To me though, it seemed as if all the makings might be there. I arrived in Seattle on Thursday afternoon where upon I went almost immediately to the Crocodile Cafe to have a brief chat with Math & Physics Club about the Northwest music scene, a new musical direction on their recently released ep, and how each band member equates with a member of the A-Team (look for the full interview to appear here soon.)

This was also the evening where I was able to see Tullycraft live for the first time. They weren't a band that I was afraid I would never see, but there was a very real chance that I would never see them unless I traveled. So I decided to travel. This proved to be completely worthwhile. Tullycraft delivered exactly what I was expecting which was a high energy show with great banter, and their very unique brand of reference heavy, giddiness inducing rock/pop songs. If you are not familiar with Tullycraft, their brand new album "Every Scene Needs a Center" (out today through Magic Marker Records!) is a fantastic place to start. I am very nearly certain that this will prove to be my favorite ablbum of the year. If not, it will certainly be in my top five. To give you an idea as to how much fun the entire ablbum is, posted below is the video for one of the songs. Three Imaginary Girls posted it on their site yesterday, and the video actually made me fall even more in love with the song. By the way, if you are not familiar with Three Imaginary Girls you really should be:

I spent the majority of the rest of my time in Seattle walking through varying degrees of rain, drinking coffee and/or beer, and hunting for vinyl. Which I guess is borderline Rock & Roll?

Got back into town just in time to drop my bags off at home, and dash across the street to the Echoplex for the Go! Team. Do see them live if you ever have a chance. They are quite fun, and more than one of their songs had me dancing in a way that a white girl wearing a dress from the 1950's should probably never ever dance. The evening ended (as Sunday evenings so often do for me) with much more self conscious dancing to Orange Juice at the Part Time Punks event upstairs at the Echo.

So alright, maybe it wasn't an honest to goodness Rock & Roll weekend. But I think it qualifies as a square Rock & Roll weekend, and that's good enough for me.

Tullycraft - "Georgette Plays a Goth"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Put On My Overcoat and Walked into Winter, My Teeth Chattered Rhythms

Mmmm. I love those days where listening to KEXP feels a bit like listening to my ipod during any particular time in my life. Hearing Wolf Parade and Band of Horses on the radio this morning transported me right back to March of 2006. I was doing alot of walking around New York, and alot of listening to Wolf Parade and Band of Horses. Funny that KEXP are currently broadcasting from New York, and I am gearing up for a trip to Seattle. The performance from Poison Control Center that followed my personal nostalgia set sounded like more fun than anything rightfully should be. That band has officially moved to the top of my list of bands that I need to see live. It's enough to almost make me regret missing CMJ. Sigh, is it possible to be in two places at once yet?

Well, until I figure out a way to break the space time continuum, I'm perfectly happy to only be in Seattle this weekend. I'm told it's in the 40s and rainy there right now. While I know those aren't real winter conditions, it's probably the closest that this L.A. squaregirl will come all year. I can't wait! Here are some things to explore as you wait for your weekend to approach:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Saw Him at the Party, Standing in the Corner...

Us Squaregirls (along with pretty much every other L.A. blog) have a not so secret crush on Le Switch. There are a myriad of reasons for this of course: Aaron Kyle's attention commanding vocals. Joe Napolitano's serious percussion skills and killer harmonies. Maria De Luca's ability to rock the trumpet, the viola, and some of the most entertaining stage banter that you will ever hope to hear. Just to name a few.

As is the natural progression of most crushes, the butterflies that we feel in our stomach have multiplied lately, and Le Switch certainly isn't helping matters by making a video like the one that follows. Watch with caution, you may just find yourself with a little crush of your own.

Be sure to catch Le Switch live at our very own Squaregirls Night December 12 at the Scene Bar! Be there or, well you know...

Le Switch

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Would Go Out Tonight, but I Haven't Got a Stitch to Wear

You ever have one of those days where you are sitting at your desk at work updating some data to Filemaker Pro and then you get a text from a friend saying, "Want to go and see Morrissey tonight for free?" Yeah, I know, this sort of thing happens all the time. Right?

At the time I felt slightly guilty about recieving the ticket, as I've not listened extensively to Morrissey's solo material. In fact, it's been awhile since since I've spent any considerable ammount of time with the Smiths recordings that are in my collection (though "the Queen is Dead" will remain one of my all- time favorite albums regardless of how long I go without listening to it.)

None of this matters, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, go! Morrissey is just as much of a showman as you would expect him to be. His voice sounds great, his stage banter is clever, and his backing band is tight. They played several Smiths songs throughout the night the most exciting of which for me was "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side." They "closed" the show with "How Soon is Now" which was such an impressive display that it caused me to turn to my friend and say, "How will they top that?" Well, they encored with the ode to Los Angeles "First of the Gang to Die" from his 2004 solo album "You Are the Quarry." This song is a huge fan favorite so the remarkable restraint that had been shown throughout the show went straight out the window. It seemed like the majortity of the folks in the first two rows of the pit began trying to somehow propel themselves on stage (at least one of them actually made it!) This caused my friend to say to me, "Now it feels like a Morrissey show."
And it really did. You've got to have tremendous admiration for someone who can inspire that level of fandom. I have further admiration for how cool he is about handling it. Charming man indeed.

Speaking of "This Charming Man" see the following video of Johnny Marr and "Paul Morressey"(?) If you are having as much trouble getting started today as I am, this should help.

Morrissey and Marr visit school, april 1984

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And They Don't Like Me Cause I Don't Like Van Halen...

Not true at all. I just had to be the girl that put a line from a Pastels song in a post about David Lee Roth!

Today is Diamond Dave's birthday so to pay tribute, I have posted the following video for your viewing pleasure.

You can't even try to pretend that it doesn't make you smile.

Happy Wednesday!

By the way, have any of you managed to catch them on this current tour? If so, I'd love details...

van halen - jump

It Was a Fine Idea In Autumn...

Alright, I realize that I have been gushing about this Matinee Recordings anniversary show quite a bit lately, but take a look at the videos in the following few posts. I think that you will uderstand exactly why I've been gushing!

The Lucksmiths videos that are posted were some of my (very) difficult to pick highlights from their entirely fantastic set. Honestly, if you ever have the chance to see them live, take it! "Downside to the Upstairs" is somewhere in my top 100 favorite songs of all time. "Sunlight in a Jar" is the song that (at the El Cid show the night before) caused squaregirl Kristen to remark that she wanted a boy to write a song like that about her. I actually wouldn't mind that myself. Of course, she has a musician boyfriend so her chances are slightly better than mine...

I also included Tali White's cover of "Hey Ya" from his solo set!

And last, but certainly not least we have Math & Physics Club performing "La La La Lisa." I'm gearing up for an interview with them next week (be on the lookout for that to appear here soon.) This clip should give you some idea as to why I am so looking forward to our chat.

The Lucksmiths - A Downside To The Upstairs

The Lucksmiths - Sunlight In A Jar

The Lucksmiths' Tali White covers

Math and Physics Club - La La La Lisa

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'll go out on my own, and I'll stand on my own, and I'll dance to the Smiths on my own...

It was Smiths Nite at Part Time Punks last night. The musical aspect was great. I walked in just as the Chapin Sisters took the stage. Their performance was unnervingly impressive. Soft Boiled Eggies were quite impressive as well. Both bands delivered beloved Smiths songs in their own way, and both bands sounded fantastic.

The night alternated between me catching up with friends that I only see at this particular night, and me standing on my own just listening. As nice as it is to catch up with friends, the standing on my own was just as enjoyable. In fact, after a busy week, the moments spent standing on my own in a loud club listening to good music were quite welcome. The majority of the songs were Smiths or Morrisey songs, and the rest either influenced Morrisey or were influenced by him, so everything was good. But the biggest highlight of my entire evening (yes the entire evening) was hearing the Sea Urchins' "Pristine Christine" single. Not only due to the fact that it is a perfect pop song, not only due to the fact that it is outright amazing to ever hear that song played in a club, but because it was played on vinyl. Um... I'll make no disguise of the fact that I am a huge nerd, and that record is SARAH 001! I'm sure there is a tribute post about Sarah Records in my future, as the 20th anniversary of that label is fast approaching. So I won't go into details now, but it is worth mentioning as getting to see the sleeve for that single in person was kind of amazing.

You can hear both "Pristine Christine" and the earlier (Kvatch issued) single "Cling Film" here:

Before I saw the Holy Grail of indiepop, I went to a show at Safari Sam's which served as a benefit for Izabel Vega. You can read more about the cause by visiting the links below:

I saw great sets from Evan Way (of the Parson Redheads), Aaron Kyle (of Le Switch), I Make This Sound, the Monolators, and the Hectors. During Aaron's set Joe Napolitano (also of Le Switch) joined him on the drum kit for the last few songs, the first of which he drummed using only his hands!

Yet another great night for going out and listening to live (and recorded) music. This squaregirl is exhausted, however, and will be taking the next week off from the live shows. At least that is the goal. Do continue to check the blog as, I am working on posting some videos of the previously mentioned Matinee Recordings anniversary show, and perhaps a record recommendation or two.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Lucky, Lucky Squaregirl am I...

I am writing this post as a person who is able to say, "I've seen Nick Lowe perform live." He played at Safari Sam's tonight. I sat watching completely in awe during his entire set. He is without question one of the best songwriters around, but watching him deliver these songs live was something else entirely. He made every note and chord seem effortless (and we all know it's far from effortless.) His stories were interesting, and funny. I kept thinking, "I can't believe I am actually getting to see this." Especially given that he played "Heart of the City" as the first song of his first encore.

Then on my way home I stopped by the album release show for one of my favorite local bands, Division Day. I got to hear the last few songs of their set, and they sounded great. I caught up with a few friends while the awesome DJ selections of Todd and Sylvia (both of the late Sea Level Records) filled the Echo. Division Day are heading out on tour soon. Go out and see them if you can.

I'm in love with Rock N' Roll, and even though I doubt that I'll ever be out all night... I just might be up all night writing about it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Matinee Recordings 10 Year Anniversary Party: A Review Of A Perfect Pop Show!

It is nice to know that we live in a world where there will always be people who care about independent record labels. That there will always be people who will seek out new releases from these labels because they have given them great releases in the past. That there will always be kids who will run all over town hanging posters for these labels. That there will always be girls in House Martins album cover T- Shirts taking pictures at parties given by these labels. The fact that we do live in this world was evidenced to me by the turnout at the tenth anniversary party for Matinee Recordings. Of course, this party was in the form of a concert. It featured performances from Matinee artists: Tali White of The Lucksmiths/The Guild League, Math & Physics Club, and The Lucksmiths themselves. The only performance from a band not on the Matinee label came from Oxnard’s fantastic Maria.

My drive up to Santa Barbara for this event was lovely, and went by much more quickly than I was expecting. I felt immediately at home upon walking into Red’s Espresso and Wine Bar. I took in the décor (charming,) and watched as Maria tuned their instruments, then carefully arranged the stuffed animals at their merch stand.

Once it became clear that Maria were ready to start, I made my way to the center of the floor. This band was already high up on my list of newly discovered favorites. Lead singer Eric Bello began the show by telling us we should smile more. The music that followed made smiling seem less like an option, and more like an involuntary reaction. Maria play the kind of thoroughly clever and enjoyable indiepop that makes me think, “This must be what Honey Bunch sounded like live!” Gosh, I wish I could have seen Honey Bunch, but as long as bands like Maria continue to exist the pains of missed pop treasures past seem much more bearable.

While I waited for the next performance, I chatted with Eric Bello briefly about Maria’s noise band (!) past. Then Tali White took the stage armed only with an acoustic guitar. I had just seen the Lucksmiths for the first time the night before at El Cid. As I watched him gear up for this show I was immediately reminded of why, for the past seventeen hours, I had been convinced that Tali White was the most charming man in all of indiepop. He moved with suaveness and efficiency through his songs. He skipped a few segments of songs that would have required a full band. Everytime he did this it was with a clever remark. It was so nice to hear “Jet- Set…Go!” It was even nicer to hear “The Neatest Hand,” there is almost nothing better than a song that involves letter writing, except for one that contains the line, “Goddamn, I love your handwriting!” Toward the end of the set he employed the secret weapon that clever men and women with acoustic guitars have been employing since (seemingly) the beginning of time. The acoustic cover of a top 40 hit! He covered the Outkast’s “Hey Ya” in a new, and interesting way. The verses were straightforward, but in the chorus he took on a falsetto with a sort of Devendra Banhart-esque delivery. On what has always been my favorite line of that song, “Lend me some sugar… I am your neighbor,” he changed the exaggerated “I am,” to a simple, sweet, matter of fact “I’m.” It was a complete surprise, and it worked perfectly.

After the last ultra charming note had been sung, I went in search of a place to sit down. From this vantage point, I watched as a few of the kids in attendance explored the nifty furniture. I also watched the adults around them, including the Lucksmiths, try out ways to entertain them. This further cemented the fact that this day would likely go down in my personal history as the most charming day ever.

When I noticed that Math & Physics Club were about to play I began to look for a place to stand. I had missed at least half of their set the night before due to a parking misjudgment that involved running through the pouring rain in the wrong direction. This was to a venue located two blocks away from where I used to live. Pathetic. However, from what I heard at both shows they were worth running through the rain for. They create romantic, immediately familiar, perfectly arranged pop music. Running through the rain might even be just the thing to precede this band. Regardless, I was happy that I was at Saturday’s show from the beginning with no weather and/or parking hassles. They opened with “Look At Us Now,” which is one of my favorite songs from their self- titled full length, but I first became enamored with them due to the “Weekends Away” EP. Hearing the title track from that release live was certainly my biggest highlight, along with the fact that they closed with “Love, Again,” from the same EP.

At this point I decided to make my way outside for some fresh air. The tiny café was quite crowded by then as I expected it would be. I chatted with some new friends. In a perfect world every show that I attended would be like this one. Then, for the second time within 24 hours, the Lucksmiths! It’s not too often that Melbourne’s finest make it to the states so getting to see them twice in one weekend was a big deal. The songs sounded much more immediate, and rocked much harder live than they do on the records. There were many standouts, most notably; “Camera Shy,” “T- Shirt Weather,” and “Downside to the Upstairs!” If I'd only heard that song, the ninety minute drive up to Santa Barbara would still have been completely worthwhile. Fortunately they gave us one excellent song after another. They also gave us incredibly entertaining stage banter. Every band led the crowd in a round of applause for Matinee Recordings. However, the Lucksmiths were the only band to have beers brought to them on stage by the label’s owner. This resulted in the night’s best line, “Jimmy told us if you to sign to my label I’ll buy you a beer in a decade.”

But the best line that I have ever witnessed on stage, and may ever witness in my life came the night before in response to a man right behind me shouting for, “More electric guitar!” Without missing a beat Tali White spoke up with, “They may look twee, but they want to ROCK!” Yeah!

And we really should smile more.

Take a listen to these Lucksmiths mp3s for further proof that they do, in fact, rock.

The first is their lovely cover of my favorite Ladybug Transistor song:

The second shows just how amazing their own songs are: