Though they weren’t delivered to the stage upon mystical Persian rugs, as was their usual mode of transport in the late 1960s thanks to some hulky roadies, Strawberry Alarm Clock did conjure plenty of magic at its show at the Satellite.
The vintage psychedelic rockers, best known for their 1967 gold hit “Incense and Peppermints,” which saw newfound revival thanks to the stellar musical taste of Austin Powers, performed a rare live show at the popular Silver Lake club in support of its first album of new material in 42 years. Continue reading
As published by LA Record:
It’s no secret I have a bias when it comes to Jason Falkner. As webmistress of the powerpop master’s unofficial website for the past eight years and having attended nearly all of his L.A. shows within that span, I consider myself something of a Falkner connoisseur. It’s a harrowing task having to review one of your favorite artists, because you actually have more of a propensity to critique them. There’s no wiggle room; I know full well when Jason is in top form, and when he’s not. What’s more, since Jason spends most of his time producing (just this year he’s completed records with cult favorite Daniel Johnston, Dutch artist Anne Soldaat and put out his own self-produced album, All Quiet on the Noise Floor), he only plays a handful of shows any given year — most of which are in Japan, to the vexation of his loyal local following. An L.A. show has become something of a sacred event, so it was no surprise that Saturday’s sold-out show at Spaceland was as packed as I’ve ever seen. Opener buzz artist Nico Stai pulled in quite a draw and primed the crowd with his no nonsense rockage.
Admittedly, I was nervous when Jason took to the stage, knowing that as a working reporter for the evening I had to be brutally honest, no matter what. A third of the way through opening song “Honey” from his sophomore album Can You Still Feel?, I knew I need not fear a thing. The band was the tightest I’ve heard in nearly a decade. Jason is known for an ever-revolving roster of backing band mates (save for steadfast drummer Petur Smith, who’s commanded the kit since 2005), but this time all familiar faces graced the stage with guitarist Andy Blunda, who joined on last year, and bassist Jeff Lee from the 2005 lineup along with Smith. But it wasn’t just about the band. Unabashed about hitting those album-perfect high notes on the vocals and delivering guitar solos with abandon, Jason gave a rejuvenating performance compared to his more cautiously subdued performances of recent years—as noted after the show by his brother Ryan (aka Beck’s spazzo dance man, Juice). The set was chock full of goodies off his new album, which is currently only available as a Japanese import. Tunes like “Emotion Machine,” “Evangeline” and “Counting Sheep” seemed already familiar to plenty of audience members, as did Be Bop Deluxe cover “Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus” and resurrected early ’90s demo “My Home is Not a House” from his days with The Grays (Jon Brion, Buddy Judge, Dan McCarroll). He also pulled out rarely performed chestnuts “Hectified” from his 1996 debut Author Unknown and “The Plan” from his sophomore 1999 release. Upon his return from a brief tour of Japan and Shanghai, Jason plans another L.A. appearance at the Echo in December. Take it from me, bias notwithstanding, it will be a good one.
As published in L.A. Record:
Coming off a ten-year hiatus (which itself came off a 27-year hiatus), the “gods of space rock” Silver Apples have hit the road once again on a ten-date microtour across the States. Formed in New York in 1967, the experimental electronic rock duo featured Dan Taylor on drums alongside Simeon Coxe and his homemade synthesizer, consisting of nine audio oscillators and an assortment of 86 sound filters, telegraph keys, radio parts, lab gear and assorted bits of secondhand electronics, all manually operated with hands, elbows, knees and feet. Creating a spectacle both visual and aural, the duo soon garnered a reputation as a leading force in New York’s underground music scene. Though widely praised as trailblazers of electronic noise rock, the band’s exceptional lyrical work is too often overlooked: “Things have changed since Mama held my hand real tight / and wind has blown since I had my supper every night.” Heavy, man. Silver Apples will embark on this special reunion tour with local lads the Moon Upstairs, whose melody based psych-pop recalls the Brit-rock of the early ‘70s. Taking its name from a Mott the Hoople song and citing George Harrison, Pink Floyd, the Plastic Ono Band and Funkadelic as influences, the Moon Upstairs manages to wear its influences on its sleeve while putting a fresh spin on the genre. This will be a rare opportunity to view psych rock’s past and present on the same stage. (LL)
The Pity Party
As published in L.A. Record:
I have what some might describe as an unhealthy obsession with local duo The Pity Party, so when I heard they would be playing one of my favorite venues on my birthday, there was no question where I’d be celebrating my turning a quarter of a century old. After trying for a ridiculous 45 minutes to close out our tab at Red Lion, we rushed over to Spaceland only to be met with an ENORMOUSLY long line at the valet. I had to check my palm pilot to make sure it was indeed a Monday night – I hadn’t seen a line that long since a Cold War Kids show a few months back. Since it was my birthday, I felt it gave me leeway to hop out of the car and leave my friends to deal with the parking madness while I ran in to enjoy the sounds of The Pity Party. Though I’ve seen them probably a dozen times, every single one of their performances still leaves me gaping in awe at their utter amazingness. Drumkit front and center, the lovely Heisenflei pulls triple-duty, playing drums and keys while managing the lead vocals, at some points even taking on percussion duties using a maraca as a drumstick. Alongside her, Maurice-Robert busts out gritty guitar riffs while providing supporting harmonies. Their experimental and refreshingly unique sound evocatively blends the artsy rawness of Nico-era Velvet Underground with surprisingly loud intensity for a two piece. I’m really glad that others are catching on– when they drove into “Dronebots and Peons for Eons and Eons” (my favorite track off their self-titled EP), half the crowd sang along with them. Too awesome. Up next was Eskimohunter, whose heavy fuzzy hooks, shoegazey organs, catchy melodies and amazing stage lighting were the perfect way to mellow out an increasingly intoxicated birthday girl.
As published in L.A. Record:
This experience should have been a disaster: I’d planned to meet up with a friend who never showed. Sleepy openers Sean Nelson & His Mortal Enemies weren’t even close to being my cup of tea, forcing me to spend nearly two hours in the smoking lounge silently watching a series of excruciatingly boring billiards games. During the show, I didn’t recognize one single song in the entire set. But Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Robyn made his way to the stage sporting a brightly colored, flowery button-down shirt that only an English rocker of his caliber could rock without eliciting laughter and piteous head-shaking. From the moment the band began, I and the rest of the enthusiastic audience were completely entranced. Robyn’s signature sound is an inimitable blend of sophisticated pop melodies and nasally vocals that evoke John Lennon mixed with cheeky, smart and eerily bizarre lyrics that recall Syd Barrett. Aside from Soft Boys stuff, I own a grand total of two Hitchcock albums, so when taking into account his massive creative output—which rivals Elvis Costello—it wasn’t much of a shocker that the only song I recognized in the entire set was a Bob Dylan cover. However, the tight playing of the star-studded backing band (R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Young Fresh Fellows’ frontman Scott McCaughey and Ministry’s Bill Rieflin) and Robyn’s unique vocals, exquisite guitar playing and off-the-wall banter kept me immersed the entire night. I’ll definitely be popping by Sea Level soon to pick up my long-overdue copy of “Ole! Tarantula,” and I’ll definitely be awaiting Robyn’s next visit to our fair city.
This evening was supposed to start off by playing with toys a the Kidrobot Mega Event at The Standard downtown, but after Maxx informed us that the line was around the block, we opted for the Library Bar instead. I arrived with my photographer friend, the infamous Brian Dreisbach, who, of course, had camera in tow. He provided the pictorial documentation of our awesome evening.
Image set #1: At the Library Bar
weird lamp hanging as seen in the ceiling mirror:
the beautiful bar and the beautiful Maxx:
Brian and I left a couple hours later to meet up with my friend Jess at Spaceland to see Tsk Tsk. Sweetheart Kathleen put me and my friends on the guestlist (thanks again!). We caught most of The Colour’s set, who was performing the final night of their residency. Early Stones comparisons are not amiss with the band, whose lead singer has that Jagger swagger down pat.
The retro groove continued at midnight with Tsk Tsk. Featuring one of the best guitar players in the city, the fat, fuzzy grooves churned out by axe-master Cheryl, bassist Sean and drummer Steve set the perfect backdrop for frontwoman Kathleen, who belts out sweet and powerful vocals with a sexy self-assuredness reminiscent of PJ Harvey.
Image set #2: The Colour
Image set #3: Tsk Tsk
Visit Brian’s website, getyourmacon.com/space, for more amazing photos from the show. Then go check out the bands: thecolour.tv, myspace.com/tsktsk