Friday, July 16, 2010

Power Axe - The Volcano's Peak

Hardly anybody makes angry music anymore. It's funny, when I was younger, I didn't listen to very much angry music. The stuff I listened, I thought was angry and aggressive, but in all honesty it was never consistently loud and angry. Now that I'm older, for some strange reason I'm playing catch up and really wanting to hear music that makes you feel like destroying everything in your path. I like bands that play really good melodies and harmonies just as much the next hipster, listening to Fleet Foxes, Beach House, or Grizzly Bear, riding his fixie, cloth bag in tow, while headed to Trader Joe's to pick up some hemp protein powder because they're vegan now but if absolutely necessary they'll eat chicken, just like last week when they were at their favorite dive bar and had one to many PBRs and needed something to soak up all that alcohol, so in an emergency they stopped off at the nearest taco truck and had a pollo asada burrito with everything including beans which were probably made with lard but it was soooooooo worth it!... But I digress. Power Axe. The band's name alone says "I will kick you in the fucking teeth!" This is the kind of loud angry music I want to hear. They've described their music as sounding like the fog rolling over the volcano's peak. YES, that's exactly what it sounds like, ominous, conjuring up images of orcs and demons and devil dogs gathering to do battle against all mankind. It's the kind of stuff that most of the hipster set are afraid to partake in because it's to aggressive and would ruin the clothes that they so carefully made look like they just woke up from an all night bender with the guys in Vampire Weekend... oh wait those guys are so two years ago right? Anyway, go check out Power Axe and get ready to break something.
Power Axe on Facebook
Power Axe on Myspace

Zach Hill x No Age

Here's the new video from Zach Hill for the song Sacto Smile off of the album Face Tat. This song is a collab with No Age. Makes me want to destroy stuff! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sean Carnage 5 Year Anniversary Show

Sean Carnage is celebrating their five year anniversary of putting on some of the best shows in the LA area. Join the celebration on Monday, August 2nd!!! Congrats! Keep on doing what you do!

KXLU's Demolisten

Living in Palm Springs, not until a couple years ago I've never heard of KXLU's Demolisten. It's apparently been around since 1984 giving up and coming bands a chance to show off their demo on radio. To the best of my knowledge, about a year ago they began posting some of their live performances on youtube. Here are a few of my current favorite performances.

Bridgetown Records - Tape's not Dead

Recently on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, uber-producer Danger Mouse talked about how his first EP was released on a record label that produces small quantity releases (most times in the hundreds) often times only on cassette tape. Kevin Greesnspon's Bridgetown Records is one of those labels that does this. These days labels like this are a dime a dozen. So what's so great about this growing anomaly in the music industry? What's so special about, specifically, Bridgetown? What does it mean for everyone involved, from artist to consumer and everyone in between? First of all let me introduce you to Kevin Greenspon.

I found out about Kevin through seeing his name frequently involved with my friend's band, No Paws, on fliers for shows at Ports o' Call Bedroom and other events. I checked him out and really liked his music. It was folky at the time when the term outsider folk was being kicked around amongst many of his peers such as Voice on Tape, Zombelle, Whitman, John Thill, and Sean Pineda. Outsider folk, to me, was anyone that had a folk sensibility yet wasn't trying to be the next Dylan. It had a heart that was missing from folk that I hadn't heard in quite some time and each of those artists that I previously named have a unique voice of their own. Kevin was, to me, the newcomer to that group. I've been a fan for a while now. We had made a connection via the Internet and I've followed his music and all things he's been involved with since then.

I don't know how long Kevin's been doing Bridgetown. My guess is it's been about two years. Labels like his are nothing new under the sun though. Punk bands have been making small run, self released albums for years. But in an age where any and every kind of media can be downloaded, labels like Bridgetown, have become extremely important to the survival and proliferation of artist driven music. The "art of the album" has been somewhat lost. These days it's very easy to download single tracks from an album, leaving out the tracks that are less favorable, not realizing that some of these bands release the full length album with the intent of the listener hearing the album from beginning to end in order to tell a story. The album artwork and packaging also provide something that a Jpeg can't. And in the case of an artist like Danger Mouse, the collectability and value of his first cassette has skyrocketed.

Selling batches of CDs and cassettes is also a concept that isn't new in the DIY arena. It's commonplace. But what makes the Bridgetown batches so special is it's consistency. A lot of DIY labels tend to waver in it's releases, sporadically putting out albums, all the while becoming stale with it's roster of artists. Bridgetown negates this occurrence by putting out it's releases all at one time, giving the buyer the option to buy single albums, multiple albums, or the complete batch all at consecutively better deals. Their summer batch features CDs from such notable bands as Weed Diamond, Vehicles Blues, and Ancient Crux whose last album, Interracial Coupling, sparked a lot of interest in another one of my favorite labels, Family Time.

Bridgetown Records recently has seen write-ups and mentions from some of the biggest taste makers today such as Stereogum, The Fader, and Vice and for good reason; the selection of bands that he chooses to release records for is impeccable. They're tiny gems waiting to be discovered. Check them out for yourself. Tons of free mp3s on the site as well as info on upcoming shows for bands that Bridgetown is currently involved with.

Download the Bridgetown Spring sampler here
Download the Bridgetown Summer sampler here

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LA Record 100

If you live in LA and don't know what LA Record is then you've been living under a rock. If you live in the Southern California area, go to shows in the LA area, and don't know who they are, then you're walking around with blinders. LA Record is, in my opinion, the number one taste maker in the LA area. I remember getting their print issues every time I'd go to LA for a show. They used be this large, one sheet, newspaper format but have grown even including the latest news online via their website. The great thing about them is they stay true to their roots. Although they do have articles about really big acts coming through LA they still talk about little known bands that deserve attention. They're celebrating their 100th issue with a month long festival. Lots of great events at many great LA venues. Check out their site. For those who live in LA, or those who plan on making the trek out their often, should think about taking advantage of the LA Record 100 card. This card gets you discounts and specials at all events, sometimes even free entry.

Wavves - King of the Beach

I'm completely skeptical of hype yet I'll give anything a chance. I try not to let the hype get to me. Kind of like when Kobe Bryant would constantly get asked about the levity of playing in such a classic series such as the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry. He would constantly tell everyone that it really didn't matter. Doing so helped him think clearly about the objective. I did the same for Wavves. When I first started hearing about Nathan Williams, some of my friends would say that his previous band, Fantastic Magic was better although Wavves to them was good. Others would say the opposite. It's strange to think that the same person who is doing Wavves, a Cali-punk band doing songs obviously influenced by the place he lives, San Diego, was doing music much closer to Devandra Banhart. Then again, I shouldn't think it to odd.

I wasn't instantly floored by Wavves when I first heard them. In fact, I was kind of talking shit. Saying things like "the lo-fi sound is great for the album but I wonder if he could pull off these songs and make them sound interesting live". Lo-fi albums can run the risk of not delivering live. For instance Best Coast and Vivian Girls. The only way I could ever prove or disprove this thesis would be to go to one of their shows. I finally saw them live and was impressed. Yet how can he follow this up? I was very excited when I heard the track Cool Jumper that Nathan Williams did with Zach Hill. It was a sonic leap forward. Very unexpected for those not familiar with Zach Hill's body of work. Then came along Jay Retard's old backing band.

Jay Retard's old backing band joined Wavves leaving me a bit disappointed. I really wanted to hear more of what Zach Hill brought to Wavves. I felt like he was going to slide back into what was familiar. Little did I know that King of the Beach was going to be a pure pop magic. Nathan ups the pop ante by weaving in some Cali influence a'la Beach Boy/Brian Wilson instrumentation while still keeping enough punk to keep it raw enough for even the most skeptical, such as me. Thank you Wavves for providing me with the soundtrack to Summer 2010. Check out the live stream of King of the Beach on Fat Possum Records.

Tetricide - Inside the 8-Bit Aesthetic

As many of you may know, I'm a huge geek. I love comic books, sci-fi and horror films, amongst a lot of other nerdy things. One of my loves is the world of 8-bit games and graphics. I guess because it hearkens back to a time much simpler. Recently Sean Carnage posted on his site a mini doc on the exhibit that Walt Gorecki is curating which features artists who have created works that combine the 8-bit aesthetic with music and more specifically music from the LA area. Check it out. I especially love the re imagined version Super Mario Bros in which the artist turned Mario into Brian Miller.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bizzart + Walter Gross = Screwtape

Saw this on Hipsters Heart Hip Hop. I've been into Bizzart for quite some time. I think the first time I heard his music, more like his version of someone else's music, was on the Quem Quaritis Tribute CD. This is a cool little improv session of Screwtape, the project that he does with Walter Gross, during one of the Hipsters Heart Hip Hop events.