Thursday, June 26, 2008

Or Was it Just a Dream...

Hello! I'm sitting here listening away, trying to think of things to write for a "Best of 2008 so far..." that my dear friends over at Web In Front are putting together. It's not the easiest task for me as I prefer to spend the majority of my time obsessing over old pop songs. I feel drastically behind in the amount of new records that I've heard this year. however, I'd like to find intelligent things to say about the few that I have heard/liked.

So before I get completely caught up in that, I want to make sure that you all know about the show that we are presenting tomorrow:

We really think/hope that the four bands playing represent a nice, eclectic view of some of our favorite things going on in local music these days. Listen for yourself right here:

The Health Club


Hearts of Palm UK

Fol Chen

PLUS they all happen to put on fantastic live shows...

We'll also be ransacking our record collections to find the perfect songs to play for you before, in between, and after sets from the bands...

And, last but not least we're kind of giddy over the fact that we are presenting our first show at Pehrspace. Pehrspace is basically our favorite venue these days. Though you should be aware that it's BYOB so plan accordingly...

We'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shingdig Number One: Pascal Troemel and Birdie Hilltop

I was at a film festival for work this past weekend, and got to catch a screening of one of the best films I have seen all year, the documentary More Shoes. (Not gonna lie, you guys, I cried. More than once.) As a budding music supervisor, what really struck me was the soundtrack. I recognized that many of the songs were by the same person and were the perfect compliment to the story of a young man making a journey across Europe on foot. Hollow and fuzzy, they were lo-fi perfected, reminiscent of Steven Look and his projects Moon Fire Funerals or I Know My Name is Steven, or perhaps Daniel Johnston. In an instant I was in love. The film is a stand alone great film, but I feel was truly served by the softly comforting songs, obviously recorded in one take, as evidenced by false starts, nervous laughter, and the clearing of throats in the middle of a song.

Naturally, I sat through the credits and saw nearly the entire soundtrack was compromised of songs written by Pascal Troemel and performed by Birdie Hilltop. The second I got out of the screening, I started texting friends to see if they had heard either of those names before. No one had.

Later that day, I managed to corner the filmmaker, Lee Kazimir, and interrogate him about the soundtrack. He explained that he had discovered Pascal/Birdie (actually the same person) by happenstance and contacted him personally. He said he had recorded a couple records in Brooklyn several years ago, when he was in his early 20s. If I remember correctly (sobriety isn't encouraged at the film festival) Lee also mentioned that he wasn't really making music anymore and that he had declined to have his records sold at the screenings or on the film's website. Upon hearing this, I got that panicky sensation in my chest, the kind that attacks when you realize you have just discovered something truly special and may never hear it again in your life ever. This lasted until I visited his website and realized his entire catalogue is available to download for free! What a wonderful world we live in. If I may, I suggest you start with my current favorite, "eating aeroplanes".

~sqg eliza

Monday, June 23, 2008


I guess we are all supposed to know that if you have to be in Santa Monica (or anyplace that requires an hour drive) by 8 am the next day then it's probably not the best idea to stand around in front of the Echo plotting various jangle pop/metal side projects. Oops.

So for most of yesterday I was completely useless to write anything. No matter, Sunday night at the Echo was one of the best shows that I have been to so far this year. Maybe even the best. My favorite L.A. band The Tartans had the majority of the crowd dancing for the majority of their set. Kind of a small miracle when you think about typical Los Angeles rock show crowds. Their new songs kind of demand it though. They will also have two 7" singles available very soon so head over here right now, and on July 15 make your way here. OR you could just wait and pick up BOTH singles after the Tartans wow you with their jangly/soulful tunes on July 16 at their (ahem) Squaregirls presented show at Mr. T's Bowl...

Catwalk started things off on Sunday. Not only has their live performance become increasingly more impressive since I saw them for the first in November of last year, but they've been playing a new song called "Mia" recently that is such catchy guitar pop perfection it makes me wish that I could afford to start a label just so that there could be a recording of it in the world. Sigh. I suppose I will just have to desperately hope that it will be a part of their next single for the YAY! label. Until then, I will be gently lifting the needle on my turntable to play every song from their current YAY! single "Past Afar" over and over again. It's lovely, and you should strongly consider ordering it here, right now!

Um, this is probably also a good time to bring up the fact that I've recently written an article about the YAY! label for my new monthly column on Web In Front, Not Quite Punk. You can read that article right here, if you are so inclined...

And if you are looking for something fun to do tonight, might I please suggest this:

The Monolators are playing! Early! If it's been awhile since you've seen the Monolators (like it has for me,) or if you've somehow not yet seen the Monolators you should definitely be at Spaceland tonight by 9 PM!

They are opening for this London based band called Sunny Day Sets Fire. They put out an EP last year called Brainless that was a nice blend of lo-fi indie rock sounds, and lo-fi dance pop. The production on their new stuff sounds way glossier, but I bet they are still fun as hell to watch live.
Check this out for proof!

~sqg marion

Monday, June 16, 2008

Giveaway: Where the Action Was Bus Tour with Ruthann Friedman

Here's something that seems intriguing. Gene Sculatti author of Catalog of Cool, and Kim Cooper who wrote the 33 1/2 book on Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane over the Sea have started a somewhat obscure tour of Los Angeles music landmarks. The idea behind the tour being to bring along special guests and impart unique knowledge about places that you likely pass by everyday.

On Saturday, June 28 the guest will be Ruthann Friedman. She will likely be best remembered for writing the Association's 1967 hit single "Windy," but my interest in hearing her speak would lie mostly in the fact that she's said to have stories about the Byrds!

The tour departs at 11:30AM from Amoeba Music in Hollywood. It's three hours long, and includes snacks and a gift bag filled with treats from Amoeba. The trip will culminate in a live performance from Friedman upon it's return to the record store. More information about the tour can be found here. More information about how to order tickets can be found here. Apparently if you use the super secret words "Amoeba sent me," you will recieve a fifteen percent discount...

Or you could send an email to with the words "bus tour" in the subject line to win a single admission. The first person to email, will recieve the spot. Best of luck!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Don't Care, I Care, I Really Don't Care

Well, well, well. After a decent portion of my past week has been spent listening to a decent amount of Pavement, and obsessing over the hopefully arriving soon Re-issue/Expanded edition of Brighten the Corners just imagine how giddy I was to wake up this morning, and find that Web In Front's weekly podcast was this.

I never got to see Pavement live, and listening to this makes me all the more aware that I missed out on something pretty great. Awesomely deadpan, half-spoken delivery of the chorus of "Freebird" leading into "Unfair..." Wow. Of course, it's not *really* my fault that I missed out. The closest that I might have gotten to Pavement in 1994 (when the concert in question takes place) while growing up in an ultra-conservative suburb of Atlanta, Georgia would have been accidentally seeing the video for "Cut Your Hair," on MTV. You know, when I was absolutely forbidden to watch MTV.

Regardless of personal experience involving seeing, or missing a live Pavement show, this podcast should serve to bring up fond memories or bitter feelings of regret. Really though, it's just plain fun to listen to, and it's highly recommended that you visit the link posted above to download the concert. Now.

Oh, and just for fun:

Does anyone know if Malkmus is really alternating between sining "career," and "Korea," at the end of this song? And if the word "Korea," is actually in place, why?

Oh that Pavement humor...

~sqg marion

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thought Things Sounded Better Slow

On Sunday, I listened to Brighten the Corners, as I often tend to do. I began to wonder when the re-issue for this album would happen. We know that Pavement have gone down the line and re-issued their albums one by one with some AMAZING bonus tracks (adding the Watery Domestic EP to the bonus material of Slanted and Enchanted was just one in a long series of genius/hugely appreciated moves,) and since the Wowee Zowee re-issue happened near the end of 2006, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain happened near the end of 2004 etc. deductive reasoning should lead us to believe that the Brighten the Corners reissue will happen towards the end of this year, 2008. Oh, and that it will be awesome.

However, there is no significant news about this particular re-issue. Other than the fact that there will you know, be one. Sigh.

Of course, there are important bands in the story of indie rock aside from Pavement. Some of them are just as re-issue happy, and doing just as good of a job of putting together highly worth reinvesting in, or investing in for the first time sets. Some of them have (ahem) reunited in their classic line-up forms and are touring! Some of them are even working their way through classic albums for All Tomorrows Parties... Yep, I'm referring to Sebadoh now.

Sebadoh will re-issue Bubble and Scrape with an additional disc of bonus tracks on July 8 via Domino Records. They will perform the record in it's entirety for the Pitchfork/All Tomorrow's Parties presented Don't Look Back Series on Friday July 18 as part of the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival. It's fairly safe to assume that it will be varying degrees of awesome.

I saw Sebadoh as part of their classic line-up (Barlow, Gaffney, Lowenstein) reunion tour last year, and it was a good show. Although I hate to admit it, as much I like think of myself as a Sebadoh fan (I listened to an mp3 that I stumbled across of "Gimme Indie Rock" more times than I could ever count, "Brand New Love" still makes me cringe with it's alarmingly accurate description of what it's like to meet someone new who is even potentially exciting/terrifying, Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock is just a flat out great album title, Harmacy lived in my car stereo for months when I was 21 and had just found it on sale..., etc.) I don't spend all that much time listening to Sebadoh. I wasn't overly familiar with either III, or the Freed Man until those reissues happened within the past few years, and having them in my possession now, I don't listen to them all that much. Sebadoh, to me represents a very specifically male; funny/silly/sarcastic/angry/edgy/ultra observant/ultra revealing so perfectly male music that I'm quite simply not in the mood for all of the time. When I am in that particular mood though, nothing else will do. While watching Sebadoh last March at Spaceland I discovered that (though I recognized none of them) Gaffney's songs were most appealing to me in the live setting cause the abrasiveness was just so immediately satisfying. Recorded, I tend to like Lou's songs best because they tend to be so spot on lyrically, an he has such a good way of creating appealing pop melodies that retain a sense of weirdness. Then again, some of my favorite songs on Bakesale belong to Lowenstein, unassuming, and great. I should also take this moment to point out that I have never once had the occasion to listen to Bubble and Scrape. Needless to say I'm very excited to discover this album through the re-issue that is now less than a month away! This was the album where classic line-up Sebadoh were falling apart as a collective, and apparently Gaffney's songs on this record are his most angry and defiant. I only wish I was making the trip to Chicago in July to see how this newly reunited team translates this apparent transition album into a live show.

Trackilist for Bubble and Scrape Deluxe Edition:

1. Soul and Fire
2. Two Years, Two Days
3. Telecosmic Alchemy
4. Fantastic Disaster
5. Happily Divided
6. Sister
7. Cliche
8. Sacred Attention
9. Elixir is Zog
10. Emme Get Wild
11. Sixteen
12. Homemade
13. Forced Love
14. No Way Out
15. Bouquet For a Siren
16. Think (Let Tomorrow Be)
17. Flood

Bonus Tracks:

18. Reject
19. Sister
20. Bouquet For a Siren
21. Emma Get Wild
22. Flood / Ken
23. Messin' Around
24. Visibly Wasted II
25. You Are Going Down
26. Old Daze
27. Part 1 - Lou
28. Part 2 - Eric
29. Part 3 - Eric
30. Part 4 - Jason
31. Happily Divided
32. Soul and Fire (Acoustic Demo)

Now, seriously, about that Brighten the Corners re-issue...

~sqg marion

Monday, June 9, 2008

I Just Want to be a Peacock, but I Don't Think that it's Allowed

Last week I had another another one of those exceedingly pleasant, but all too few and far between experiences. A band that I've never heard of found us on Myspace, and they aren't terrible! Cool!

What is even more cool is that the band in question Swimteam is local, and far from not terrible. They are actually quite good. Swimteam appears to be primarily the project Brian Young. The songs of Swimteam don't tend to stray too far from the elegant, lo-fi jangle pop of his solo recordings. The songs on the Myspace page are upbeat yet moderately paced, allowing enough time for the stories to unfold exactly as they should. A song that contains the details of the unrivaled excitement of a first kiss, and a song that contains slightly fewer details of a relationship that seems on the verge of failure are told with the same degree of wit. Especially worth noting is his observation about how the way one might hear a certain pop song will likely change given the context within which one hears that song. It's a theme that shows up more than once in these songs, and he makes an excellent point. An annoying song by an annoying band that one might have heard a group of annoying people singing at a bar on the day when a perfect first kiss occurs will now conjure up a fond memory, and one will have almost no choice other than to kind of like that song. Whereas a different song that one has loved forever will inevitably take on new meaning when one is forced to apply that song to new situations. Young's charming baritone suits these types of musings perfectly.

I can only hope that since Swimteam finds Young joined by an appropriately full band of Chris Chez on drums, and Bill Miller on the bass guitar more live shows will occur in a not too distant future. I actually have to hope for a lot more live shows since the jaw dropping-ly awesome line-up of Swimteam, The Tartans, and Magic Bullets at the Knitting Factory happens to fall on the same night as our next Squaregirls Presented show at Pehrspace on June 27! Of course the drive to the San Diego's Beauty Bar on June 29 for the Swimteam/ Magic Bullets portion of that line up does seem more than worthwhile...

Anyone feel like a road trip?

~squaregirl marion

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Flowers Are in the Sky for You

I'm about a month behind in alerting you to the fact that the new Languis album Fractured is available for you to purchase now from Plug Research, you can do that here.

It's one of the more compelling albums that I've listened to from start to finish this year. On Fractured the fluidity with which the band combines the primary influences of psych and dance pop becomes a bit more clear, and a bit more remarkable with each listen. I believe it mostly lies in the attention to detail. Having built a solid base around these particular sounds allows other sounds to infiltrate the songs. From the gentle Calypso of "What Do I Do," to a short sweet instrumental entitled "Para Marta," that places a finger-picked acoustic guitar front and center, to songs like "Resurrection Road," and "Low Standard," that take on an almost conventional (for an album as far from conventional as this one) rock structure. In fact you can actually kind of hear a rhythmic similarity to the 12 bar blues guitar pattern on the latter two songs, at least that is, something akin to a Jesus & Mary Chain type interpretation of the pattern. All cleverly disguised under some serious studio effects of course. Also on the album are enough slow build ups to satisfying pay offs, enough captivating extended refrains, and enough tambourines and woodwind instruments to keep you replaying the album for weeks and weeks, if not months and months, or perhaps even years and years...

It's also very much to Languis' credit that they are not a band who keep making the same album over and over again, yet each of their releases are consistently good and interesting. Fractured is (to completely understate the situation) certainly no exception to this quite remarkable rule.

~squaregirl marion

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

If I Didn't Know This, I'd Lose It

Sometimes it is just plain astonishing how much time it might take something (and by what avenue) to find it's way onto your radar.

On Monday morning I walked into the KCRW music library as I do every Monday morning to distribute their copy of the playlist from that day's Morning Becomes Eclectic. I was greeted with a gently dance-able sound of synthesizers, drum machines, and softly distant vocals. "What are we listening to?" was the immediate question I posed to my friend/library employee Nassir well before taking the time to say hi.

"The Radio Dept. Do you know about them?"

"No," I replied and was so shocked that there was something this good and this rooted in everything that I like about music that I struggled with my words, "It sounds like... It sounds like..."

"Yeah," he said "I've been trying to figure out who they remind me of too."

I pointed out that whether or not they sounded like anyone in particular their sound was dance music that was rooted in an indiepop tradition which is sound that I am in no way indifferent to. Fortunately there was an extra copy of the record that I promised to provide a loving home for. The album in question is called Pet Grief it was released by Labrador Records in 2006! This is around the same time that I discovered Suburban Kids With Biblical Names having just had their originally released by Labrador record #3 released by Minty Fresh here in the States. I've visited the Labrador site several times since then for information on that band, and I'm sure something about the Radio Dept. must have entered my subconscious somewhere. I simply cannot figure out why it has taken me so long to actually hear this band! Of course when you discover something is never the important part, the important part is that you discover it at all. I have the Radio Dept. now; we all have the opportunity to listen to their new single, "Freddie and the Trojan Horse" on their Myspace page (while you're there you *really* should listen to "Worst Taste in Music" from Pet Grief it's sad/clever pop perfection,) and by September (or thereabouts) we'll all be able to order copies of their brand new record right here. Should be pretty great, something to look forward too...

~squaregirl marion

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baby, I Don't Care

More shameless promotion, yes. However, this time it is not for me personally, so somehow I get to feel more o.k. about it? Actually, I don't really care. Kristen did such a fantastic job with her Web In Front Podcast that I have to do everything in my power to make sure that all of you are aware of this fact. She made very smart song choices from each of the bands that have played one of our showcases in the past, and even smarter choices about the way she arranged the songs on her comp. She also included songs from all of the bands that are playing a couple of future showcases that we have in the works, and the write up that she did about what it's like to go to any given local show these days sums up that experience kind of perfectly. Kindly make your way over here and check it out for yourself.

Not much else has had a chance to make it's way to my eardrums between that podcast, and the brilliant new Summer Cats single "Lonely Planet" which may very well be the feel good hit of the, um, summer. That is if we lived in a society that championed sweet indiepop singles with the kind of seemingly effortless guitars that's a little bit straight out of the 60's mod/a little bit Go Betweens-eque, and hand claps that take the song to the maximum level of enjoyment, as handclaps almost always tend to do. And the lyrics do a nice job to offer a hint of love lorn frustration before settling into an "Eh, fuck it all," sensibility which (incidentally) might just be the way all indiepop lyrics would be if we were in that perfect world. Oh, and did I mention the boy/girl vocal trade off? And the handclaps?!? Sigh, sigh, sigh. You can (and should,) however make it your personal feel good hit of the summer by going here and ordering your very own copy of the "Lonely Planet" 7". I really can't forsee either of these things giving up their respective holds on my listening space anytime soon. These are good problems though, and I don't tend to question these situations when they occur. I just smile and enjoy the fact that there really is so much good new music to take in.

~squaregirl marion