Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

It's the end of the year and everyone is posting their top tens, best of, and all that sort of nonsense. What one thinks deserves applause, another will think you're full of crap. All I can really do is tell you what spent the most time playing on my iPod and how these songs and moments touched my life and quite possibly changed me. I won't tell you why you should listen to these artists, what makes them so "important" or "vital" in the music world, or why these artists are the ones to watch. The way I feel about these artists and moments go beyond favoritism or some fading importance to a trend that is dissipating just as quickly. These feelings mark moments in my life. Just like The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam marked chapters in my life oh so long ago, so do the people and events that I am about to list.

So, what has been on constant rotation on my iPod this year? In no particular order, here it is:

Why? - Alopecia
This album from beginning to end tells the story of a man who is bearing his broken heart to the world. It's about a man looking death straight in the eye and daring it to give him it's worst. It's the story of a man rediscovering his love for life. A man who is pushing through the pain of losing love and realizing that losing love can be one of the greatest gifts. It's a story that has comforted me through a painful year of my own and has helped me come out the other side badly bruised and scarred, yet, still alive, not a mummy sleeping in it's cloths.

The Mae Shi - HLLLYH
A little over a year and a half ago I saw this video

I've known about The Mae Shi for quite some time. I remember seeing their name on The Smell's website when I was looking to see when 90 Day Men would be playing out here on the west coast. Their name stuck out to me. It was just a really cool name for a band. 90 Day Men have long since disbanded, but The Mae Shi, although having changed members a few times, have gone on to be one of the biggest "Smell" acts. HLLLYH is an album built on positive energy. Its songs, while some of which have a doomy undertone, make me feel good. There's something freeing about their music. It's crazy kinetic energy, in the hands of other bands, can make you angry and wound up. The Mae Shi, on the other hand, do it in a way that is uplifting and fun.

Dr. Dog - Fate
I was introduced to this band by my friend, Kyle Divine. At first it reminded me of Wilco. But then I listened to it a few more times and it proved to be more than just another Wilco knock off. The songs are reminiscent of The Band. They chug along with an "I think I can" mood which is how I feel after listening to them.

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band - First You Live...
It's an odd thing to be such a huge fan of your friend's band. It's strange because a lot of times you're supportive of your friend's band because they are your friends, regardless of if they are any good or not. The album is pretty ambitious. The pairing of Dusty Rhodes with Ikey Owens of The Mars Volta and Free Moral Agents as producer was an unlikely pair. Ikey has never had any experience in producing a band such as theirs. Yet he pulled it off like he'd been producing these kinds of bands for years. Albeit there is definitely the Ikey Owens influence in the sound, you can't deny that, at its best, First You Live is beautifully crafted and emotionally complex, and at its very least it's a fun listen.

Beirut - Flying Club Cup
This CD really pulls at my heart strings and hits home, not as much as Alopecia, but it really touches me in a more non-cynical way. It's a very emotionally reflective album and the longing is definitely heartbreaking. The opening lyrics "it's been a long time, long time now/since I've seen you smile/I will gamble away my fright/I will gamble away my time" resonates on a personal level that only someone who has had a year like mine can understand.

No Paws No Lions - Shamel Park
Here is another one of those instances where the line between liking a friend's band and trying to be objective in your preferences starts to blur. What makes this a lot easier is that I was a fan of NPNL before I became their friend. NPNL is one of those bands that could have easily become another band that wrote some really great pop songs and that's all. Yet there is enough art in their music to keep it interesting and much deeper than simple pop songs.

John Thill - The Sluts
This CD has a darker tone than his last, "Midwest Vacation". On his last one John Thill jumped around from escapism to his fondness of his beloved Inland Empire to revenge to even a love song. The subject matter on "The Sluts" is much more focused and the flow of the songs seem much more congruent. It definitely has a character all its own.

Radiohead - In Rainbows
I don't care what people think about Radiohead. They will always be one of my favorite bands of all time. In Rainbows is proof that there are still bands that, even with age, can craft a beautiful album without missing a step.

Honorable mentions:
Subtle - Exiting Arm
Abe Vigoda - Skeleton
Deerhoof - Offend Maggie
Islands - Arm's Way
Maritime - Heresy and the Hotel Choir
PWRFL Power - PWRFL Power
Meho Plaza - Meho Plaza
Liars - Liars
Deerhunter - Microcastle
Women - Women

Have a great 2009!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Welcome to my new music blog! For those of you who know me personally you know that I've had a passion for music all my life. This is a long time coming and I hope all of you find it at the very least somewhat interesting and at best a source for all things music; with a focus on Southern California. If you don't know who I am, here's a little about me.

I live in the Coachella Valley area. I'm a desert rat out of necessity. Although I have grown to like it out here. San Diego is like a second home to me. The Inland Empire and Riverside county are like old buddies from high school to me; you used to hang out all the time but these days you only see them on special occasions. Orange County is one of those places I wish I knew a little more about. LA was the place you went to when you were just a kid because that's where all the cool, scary, and exciting things were. It was always an adventure to go to LA. But the desert is my home.

Although I live in the Palm Springs/Coachella area, I won't be covering just the Coachella Valley. That's already being done. I will be doing more of a general music blog, with a heavy focus on Southern California artists. Don't get me wrong, I have a passion for the Valley. I've been in the local scene for a long time and have seen more acts from around here come and go. I remember the days of the old punk and ska shows at the Palm Springs Bowling Alley, Aloha Billiards, and the old fast food Italian restaurant in Cat City on Hwy 111. I remember the days of the Iron Gate generator parties and was privileged to have played one of the very last ones alongside Fatso Jetson before they uprooted and moved to Pasadena. And I still have a love for the desert. I just feel that we live in a vacuum. And rarely do good things exist in a vacuum. That is why I have equally a passion for artists outside the desert.

You need outside influences to grow. You need to experience new things in order to find your way. One of my best friends, Ana, posed a question to me once. She asked me "what do you think our purpose in life is?" A deep question and one that can be answered in a multitude of ways. Yet, before I was able to phrase my response she interrupted me and gave me her answer. She said "Let me tell you what I think. I feel that one of the reasons we're here is to inspire one another." That statement has stayed with me to this day. And I believe it.

My mission is to expose the talent of the Coachella Valley to the world and bring the world to the Coachella Valley. To help create a dialogue amongst artists here in southern California and beyond. I will criticize honestly and without prejudice (a bit of an oxymoron, I know). I will bring music lovers a variety of music beyond what is on the radio, TV, and major trade publications. To encourage music fans to go see a show in a DIY arthouse, storefront, warehouse, house party, public park, museum, coffee house, or art gallery that is out of the way or in a place you've never been to. Chances are you will gain something from that experience if you're willing to open yourself up to them.

There you have it. If you're in a band and you have a CD/LP/cassette that you'd like me to review, email me and I will send you the information on how to get it to me. If you've got a show somewhere here in the Socal area, send me the info/flier and I'll post it here on the blog. I hope you keep reading.