Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Watson Twins @ Amoeba Music

The Watson Twins are not LA natives but native to the LA music scene. That's pretty normal in a place of transience and the mecca for corporate music hullabaloo. The Watson Twins released their newest record, Fire Songs, with a record release party at Hollywoods finest, Amoeba Music. Between the stacks J. Geils Band and Fugazi I heard the soulful harmonies of these twin sisters sing ballads from their newest record. The sound was not the best, but I wasn't expecting much when a make shift stage is erected for an hour long performance once a week.

If you are not familiar with the Watson Twins it might be easier to say the name Jenny Lewis beforehand and be reminded of the 2006 release, Rabbit Fur Coat. The new tunes are reminiscent to americana lore and 50s dwoo-wop pop. It's pretty simple and low key, nothing to write home about or want to burn and hand out like your newest mix tape. It was hard sometimes to pay attention when you are in the largest music store in town. (Paste magazine features Amoeba as one of the best record stores in the US. It's an ADD persons dream as there are a million and one distractions for your eyes to dance and engage with Rolling Stones posters from 1978 and questions of why the stage looks like a pyramid. The best part of their performance was their cover of the Cure's Just Like Heaven . The stripped down rendition had people swaying in their designated space and lip-synching along.

Overall the hour performance was enjoyable, if only to experience a show in a new setting and helping to celebrate with a lovely little band release their newest work.

with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly

Beauty and grace are offered yet again from sigur ró. It bursts with joy and sorrow. It is loud and crashing, ear grabbing and heart clenching. The beauty being offered is from the fifth full-length entitled, "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust." Translated in English it means "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly."

The record begins playfully with a song entitled "gobbledigook." The drums are contagious with it's almost tribal feel and sets the tone for the record, which reminds me of a mix tape. It starts off with a bang, offers something new and then moves into what sigur ros does best, slow builds and bursts that make the heart ache. There is a video that was made for the opening track and can be found at their website . I love the commentary the video makes. It is free and open, using your body and the nakedness to offer hope rather than shame. I like that the body, though naked, doesn't have to be engaged in crudeness or lurid sex but offers a new vision to how we use and treat the body. How it is offered to be free and open rather than shameful or full of fear...

The record continues with hope and moves to slow melodies become that are offered as a soundtrack to your life's heartbreak and joy. sigur rós is one of the few bands that recognizes the delicate balance of both joy and sorrow and it is offered with the melodies and harmonies of instrumentation rather than lyrics. Some of the highlights from the record include a 90 piece boys choir for track, Ára bátur. There friends in Aminna (female orchestration) were also a part of this record. It was mixed and produced in under a month so it's raw and imperfect and that gives it a feel that there could be more manipulation but this is where they are at. If I could only give myself that same kind of grace....

The true beauty of sigur rós is their ability to have the listener insert their own life into the journey. You have the ability to find and locate emotions or memories with their sonic landscape. It's a rare find in this Icelandic band. If you haven't had the opportunity to see their musical documentary, Heima please do. It's a journey home after touring for years globally and remembering where they came from. They offered the community free performances around Iceland and documented the natural beauty and splendor of the people and places of Iceland. This new release was formed from these "Heima (home)" performances. The stripped down feel of those performances offered the ability to engage making music in new and creative ways.

sigur rós is a favorite. I hope you can make it a favorite of yours as well.

A night where smiles were given out like candy.

Anathallo and Dosh @ Spaceland 6.15.08

I have been a fan of Anathallo since 2002. They have been friends for quite some time and if I had to count how many times I have seen them live I think I would need four hands. Alive and Electric is the best way to describe their music. With seven members who are passionate to play to see them live is always a lot of fun. Hand clapping and sing-a-longs are not foreign from the crowd. When I used to live in Michigan it was an experience because everyone knew their music and had no problems dancing along. Living in LA there are different crowds but it was a lively crowd this night and that only enhances the experience. I am looking forward to the new record to come out in Novemember. There is a new song posted on their myspace page. It's entitle Noni's field. It's beautiful.

The headliner for the evening was the noise/improv/indie/electronic stylings of Minneapolis native Martin Dosh. He is known for a lot of work with Andrew Bird but his solo work is fantastic. Intriguing. Engaging. I really enjoyed it because I like free form. I like to be taken on a musical journey, open to the listener to choose their own adventure and be taken on their own emotional journey because they have inserted themselves into the musical conversation. With him this night was a man who played saxophone that was so amazingly delicious. It was warm and friendly with free jazz undertones. The evening was a surprise and I was so pleased with what I heard and how it engaged me. You can find some of his tunes on myspace or if you have some extra downloads on emusic his whole catalogue is available.

A beautiful suprise was opener Karin Tatoyan . Her music was beautiful and engaging and she was a performer. It was dramatic and her vocals caught me by surprise. The group made up of live drummer who also manipulated electronic loops, with trumpeter, and chelloist dressed in masks and KArin in a Bjork-like 80s sparkle dress and lyrics to match. It was beautiful and fun. It was noted they had only been together for two weeks but it was worth the listen and it strong. I am looking forward to hearing her in the future. Hopefully with knowing who she and noting what she likes rather it being overpowering the performance. Overall it was wonderful and I bought her solo record which was worth it because she did a lovely cover of Wilco's Radio Cure.....and we all know what I feel about Wilco!!

Overall the night was fantastic.
I got to see some beautiful music
and beautiful friends.
I saw something new and old and
was probably one of the best shows
as a whole
in awhile.

The night was fantastic.
The music was fantastic.

A night that felt like home.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind and I have
felt the pull of the undertow
There are days to feel inspired
but those are hard to do when you feel stuck in dotting the i and crossing the t.

There have been some new records heard
and some shows that engaged and wrestled with my heart.
Since that is what I like to write. I shall continue.
because there is no longer school work to worry
about getting in by the deadline.

Damien Jurado and Jeremy Enigk @ Spaceland 6.10.08

Days away from being done with my finals I had the chance to see some of my undergraduate favorites, Jeremy Enigk and Damien Jurado. Northwest friends both having voices that shake the core and lyrics that allow this to happen. I sat back and I saw myself when I was younger, a different school, and a different time. I had different memories when these men sang me their songs in my Ford Ranger truck or alone in a coffee shop trying to finish paper deadlines. This time was different. Those familiar voices engaged me with completely different faces and atmospheres. I saw Sunny Day Real Estate years ago at Calvin College right before they broke up. It was fantastic then. To see just Jeremy Enigk play felt like a dream. His voice got warmer as the night progressed which allowed him to sing songs that were so beautiful and haunting. In a way only his voice can be. stretching and tearing, soaring and crashing. His songs are poignant and beautiful. Interesting how I felt like I could hear so much that was not there because I felt his songs when I listened. They are complex and beautiful. It was a beautiful treat.

Damien is simple and slow. A true story teller with the ability to grab you and set you into a story with a scene set as like you were watching it dance in front of you. Often his songs are sad and haunting. They were beautiful and soft. Just a man with an acoustic guitar and a plan to engage life with new stories and new

The night was fantastic. Some good friends. Some $2 Pabst. Other than the dude in the white hoodie who had an opinion about everything and cared to share it with his brosef and anyone in a twenty foot radius of him the night went well. It was good to hear familiar songs in an unfamiliar time. It was like coming home again but knowing that where you have been has been just as important as where you want to go.

a thought from my day.

From Rainer Maria Rilke:
Letters to a Young Poet, pg. 39.

Celebrate Christmas, dear Mr. Kappus, in this devout feeling that perhaps He needs this very fear of life from you in order to begin; these very days of your transition are perhaps the time when everything in you is working at him, as you have already once. In childhood, breathlessly worked at him. Be patient and without resentment and think that the least we can do is to make his becoming not more difficult for him than the earth makes it for the spring when it wants to come.

Friday, June 20, 2008

a sigh of relief.

It's been some time.
The clocks hands have continued to turn and life has moved on.
Some days were so slow
While there were weeks that ended as soon as they started.

The graduation cap was placed on my head
and another candle was on top of my birthday cake.
There were parties
and beer
and a huge pizza.

and there has been sleeping
and sweltering heat
and movie watching.
and re-reading Harry Potter.

Life keeps moving
and I feel like it should
and I will continue.

but it will not look like it did two weeks ago
or a year ago.
Life keeps moving and instead of being afraid
I am choosing to live my life
and not listen to lies
and fears
and the should haves.

This is my life today
and it consists of listening
and growing
and not feeling sorry for myself

but it consists of fighting for what i believe in
and it means in believing in myself
and my gifts and my talents
and that my profession is not practical
but it should be a hell of alot of fun....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

and the viewers choice...

In the last ten years....
Who would you say
are the most important
or singers?

I really would love to hear a response.