The Los Angeles 70’s Revival

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The 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love is coming up in a couple of months, but Los Angeles is already in the grittier, grimier 70’s.  With the resurgence of the Laurel Canyon scene in the past few years, there has been an explosion of tough chicks and sensitive dudes making names for themselves in the hills and the Valley- strong woman fronted occult-psych rock bands with Manson Family looking members, feminist schlock films ala Russ Meyer and androgynous young rock stars that exude glitter trash glam like the lovechild of Marc Bolan and Iggy Pop.

As expected, renowned LA DJ and Mayor of Sunset Strip Rodney Bingenheimer is all up in the mix of it helping bring the Sunset Strip back (what WOULD L.A. do without this magic  culture creator?) Here are some of my favorite people to emerge out of the scene, appreciated for both their strength and style:

Kansas Bowling

Troma’s best director is a 20-year old film maven who uses strong female roles to up the ante on her low-budget horror/comedy films. An unabashed Monkees fan, Kansas is not only influential in film but also in style; I can’t get enough of her vintage dresses, mustard yellow and center part hair.

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Death Valley Girls

Making pentagrams on your forehead look more glam than Charles Manson EVER did, Death Valley Girls are all glow in the dark occult garage psych with tight hooks and far out vocals. Started by Patty Schemel of Hole and her Larry, the band has a music video that was shot by Kansas Bowling and stars Rodney Bingenheimer. Watch the video here

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Starcrawler

Frontwoman and L.A. baby Arrow de Wilde is half Ozzy, half David Bowie and all fierce androgynous warrior. Ryan Adams produced their album, and they are a critics darling- if anyone can bring glam rock back hard at the Sunset Strip, it’s Starcrawler. Watch Starcrawler here

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 Drugdealer

Drugdealer Los Angeles band

Drugdealer

More Laurel Canyon than Sunset Strip, his single “Suddenly” with Weyes Blood has that gorgeous early 70’s AM sound with a warm glow that is all Los Angeles. Listen to “Suddenly” here

The River Arkansas at Red Rocks

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This past Memorial Day weekend was very heartfelt for me; not only did I get to shoot a show at Red Rocks for the first time, but it was for my old buddy from high school in Texas Macon Terry and his band The River Arkansas. With beautiful vocal harmonies, pure soul searching lyrics, and thumping stand up bass lines, The River Arkansas had the crowd on their feet cheering and hugging and other general merriments. Since they were opening for the movie The Big Lebowski, it was funny to see so many people in bathrobes getting down. Spa Night at Red Rocks.

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Westword article I wrote about the stigma of jam bands

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After writing a band an apology for calling them a jam band in a recent article, (they said they didn’t care what I called them as long as people were listening phew!), I started to get annoyed that the term “jam band” had become such an offensive insult. I wrote an opinion piece for the Westword which quickly accumulated comments from jam band haters saying we stink, and because jam bands suck. There were also some fantastic, valid arguments, some prefer the song craftsmanship of singer/songwriters over extended jams, others don’t like the fusion of genres. But the majority had the knee jerk reaction I spoke of in the intro. Here’s a link to the Westword article, the comments are pretty funny:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/01/jam-band_stigma.php

If you go to the Westword’s main page, they put it front and center next to an article about where to buy weed in Denver: http://www.westword.com/

The Minneapolis City Pages music blog Gimme Noise liked it so much they published it as well. There too, jam bands are hated on:

http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2014/01/why_do_jam_bands_have_such_a_stigma.php

The vitriol, it’s so amusing.

Want to see a video of a song about crop circles that should be viral?

Thanks to a wonderful poster at the witty and always-friendly Phish messageboard Phantasy Tour, this video was brought to our attention when the original poster ran into this guy at a recent Railroad Earth show. The musician, Gregg Brown had a cardboard sign that said “youtube: Crop Circle Song”, and when you do exactly that you get this precious treat from the internet. At first it comes off as something you would see on public access; I didn’t know if it was a joke or someone being completely sincere, this repetitive droning sound under lyrics about the meaning of crop circles (aren’t they hoaxes?). I kept listening because the music is trancey and pleasing, and his voice is actually nice and melodious, pleasantly asking “Are they harbingers of world change? These secrets in the fieeeeeeelds”. Eventually I realized I was on my fifth listen in a row and took a break. You tell me. Is this greatness? Is this horrible? Kinda leaning on the former. Whatever it, this man deserves to be seen, and if anyone has more information of him, I would love to hear it. I don’t know what to call this other than “something else”. Get this man to sxsw, this is exactly what people want there:

He definitely read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Crop-Circles-Harbingers-World-Change/dp/0946551898

And buy the single for a dollar here. I have already listened to this five time today, it’s worth the dollar:

http://www.amazon.com/Crop-Circle-Song/dp/B001NG9Y4S

Ten Songs I’m Listening To Right Now

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1. Swearin’ “Hundreds & Thousands” http://swearin.bandcamp.com/track/hundreds-thousands
Allison Crutchfield, twin sis of Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee fame shows that she can do the 90’s jangle pop thing with flat vocal intonations even better than her sister.

2. Sides of Chaz “Sweet Tea” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8dfaOakGJk
Better known as Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick shows off his weird, psych art folk pop side here and it sounds both derivative and modern at the same time.

3. Naturally Born Strangers “Tie Breaker” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MIgDW8C7tg
Toronto MC Rich Kidd produces and rhymes in this new rap trio that mix old school beats with real life narratives. This one about a shorter chick wanting to be a basketball player is unique and positive.

4. St. Vincent “Birth in Reverse” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c5BhXdVBqw
Artpop queen St. Vincent produces a catchy, poppy tune with a vocal style that makes you listen to every word.

5. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsoqmFL1vlU
Mellow stoner synth pop meant to be played when hitting the open road.

6. Gap Dream “Shine Your Light” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOcBmvEwjq8
Music that sounds like the Never Ending Story soundtrack on ecstasy. Epic pop.

7. Natural Child “Ain’t Gonna Stop” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_2EMbmIU70
Nashville’s Natural Child does the southern psych thing better than anyone, and the vocals bring to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd in the best way.

8. Yellow Ostrich “Shades” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Lo53Hr0fc
Alex Schaaf has a whole band now and his sound is bigger and more psychedelic.

9. Temples “Mesmerise” https://soundcloud.com/templesofficial/temples-mesmerise
Psych rock with hooks and heavily layered vocals that sound like a flower child choir.

10. Orchestra of Spheres “2,000,000 Years” https://soundcloud.com/firerecords/orchestra-of-spheres-2000000
Sickeningly fun futuristic Blondie-tinged dance funk from New Zealand.

Muse and Cage the Elephant at Pepsi Center

Last night Muse stormed the house at Pepsi Center with a huge set production and far more sound and noise than I expected. These guys know how to be rock stars really well. The crowd was a total mix, and everyone was wearing brand new Muse t-shirts straight from merch. The band was giving all merch proceeds for the night over to Colorado flood relief, so by the looks of things they will be making a large donation. Above the stage were three men in lighting rig seats, hanging from the sky, and LED screens were all over the place. As the music began, a large pyramid of LED screens came down from the sky.

Muse photo by leslie loudspeaker

These guys are LOUD. I went in thinking they were a bombastic, less aggravating Radiohead type with more theatrics, but they are far more than that. Frontman Matt Bellamy is an obvious audiophile, constantly going back to his shiny metallic rotating amp and checking the sound. Live that theatrical sound is really huge and epic, and with the lights, political themes, and the crowd in unison punching their fists in their air, I almost caught a Pink Floyd vibe from the whole thing. The band and audience were on from the first note, and when they dropped into “Madness” you could feel the excitement bump up a notch. You could also see the lights bump up a notch, as suddenly tons of lasers were added to the already wild mix.

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They played hit after hit, and the audience really had some precision handclapping down. Ending with a three song encore and pyrotechnic flumes that definitely gave me a Pink Floyd vibe now, these guys ended at 9:58 with a slightly stunned and very happy crowd standing open mouthed. Gotta give it to Bellamy, he really knows how to be a rock star without you wanting to smack his face. He changes guitars as fast as I’ve ever seen, and looked especially cool with one slung across his back as he played his see-through light-up baby grand piano. Some people have the life.

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Opener Cage the Elephant played extremely well to a half empty giant stadium. The last time I saw them was opening for Stone Temple Pilots at Red Rocks, and it was empty there as well. They kill it with what they have though, and you can’t keep your eyes off lead singer Matt Schultz. At times invoking Mick Jagger and somehow making it totally work, he slinks and spasms all over the stage, eventually coming down into the crowd, managing to stand up on their hands, and then do a headstand. I’ve never seen crowd-surfing like it. The crowd got amped when they played their hit “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” and held the energy through to Muse, and their new material sounded great. All in all, a pretty bumping Tuesday.

The Ruse is opening for Muse in Mexico

The Ruse

Fantastic Los Angeles indie pop band The Ruse just announced that they will be opening for Muse on their Mexico dates. HUGE for these guys, they are going to kill it out there on this rhyme-y tour. Check out the announcement over at Muse’s website:

Muse announcement about The Ruse opening for them on tour