Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trashcan Sinatras at The Troubadour

Brookville singer Andy Chase (one third of Ivy) produced the last two Trashcan Sinatras albums, so it's no great surprise that Brookville sound like a more abrasive TCS. They had some catchy songs and you could imagine them getting a track on 'The OC' or whatever TV show currently plays indie music for people that don't like indie. Unfortunately, despite having some good songs Chase isn't a great singer and this is what lets the band down...

The sound wasn't great for Trashcan Sinatras - a few minor technical issues over the first half-dozen songs and then everything was just too loud for my liking. The Trashcans aren't a band you need to hear at full volume, where much of the lightness and subtlety are lost - indeed some of the vocals were too low in a guitar heavy mix. Perhaps if Frank Reader had shown up for the soundcheck things may have been different (I have my spies!) Having said that, an average sounding Trashcan Sinatras is better than most other bands... Similar set to the Coach House a couple of weeks ago...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jarvis Cocker & Little Joy at The Wiltern Theater

I didn't pay too much attention to last winters eponymous Little Joy LP - after all, who needs another Strokes spin-off group that sounded a little like, well, The Strokes... Anyways, fast forward to summer and the band have been getting a lot of plays on SiriusXM U channel. The music does have quite a summery feel - the lazy vocal delivery of The Strokes but with a Brazilian flavor (singer Rodrigo Amarante was previously with the band Los Hermanos.) They sounded great live and the set included songs from their LP and a cover of an Os Mutantes/Gilberto Gil collaboration...

Jarvis was brilliant... After seeing him at Coachella after his first solo LP, I knew the new album would sound better live and so it proved... It's not that 'Further Complications' is a bad album but I'm not the biggest fan of this 60's garage rock revival that seems to be quite in vogue at the moment. Also, songs like 'Angela' sell one of the pop musics best lyricists more than a little short... Highlights were the two epic centerpieces from the solo LP's: 'Big Julie' and 'You're In My Eyes (Discosong)'. Discosong was a fitting last number - Steve Mackey and the rest of the excellent backing band ending with a crescendo of feedback more fitting of a MBV concert. Jarvis was on great form as usual, cracking jokes and turning back the years with his John Cleese/Kung Fu dance moves!

I wanna live like corona people... Jarvis handed his beer to Laura during the encore...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grace Jones & Of Montreal at The Hollywood Bowl...

Dengue Fever, the Los Angeles/Cambodia band, were a typical KCRW World Festival opening act - world music with a chill-out vibe... Pleasant enough background music to uncork the wine to, although occasionally it sounded like a cross between a horror film soundtrack and music from The Water Margin. Oh well, I guess one should 'not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say it will not become a dragon?'

I'm not sure how Of Montreal got booked on 'World Festival' unless KCRW thought they were Canadian... However, their theatrical stage show was perfect for the wide expanses of The Hollywood Bowl stage. Indeed, any set containing an impecable cover of Bowies 'Moonage Daydream' and a wedding proposal between a dancer wearing a tiger mask and the bands keyboard player is well worth the admission fee!

Grace Jones was amazing! Or as some of the crowd would say "fierce"... A fantastic backing band; numerous costume changes each more fantastical than the previous and some great music! Particularly good were tracks off last years 'Hurricane' cd (criminally still unreleased in the US) which owed more than a passing nod to her Meltdown Festival cohorts Massive Attack, and even Serge Gainsbourg in places... More familiar were 'Love is the drug', 'My Jamaican Boy' and the epic closer 'Pull up to the bumper', although the house lights came on before Ms Jones could treat us to 'Slave to the rhythmn'...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Deconstruction 22

Coming soon to an iTunes near you! Episode 22 of Deconstruction features:

01 Intro
02 Great Northern - Snakes
03 Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
04 The Duckworth Lewis Method - The Sweet Spot
05 The Protagonist! - Theme from The Protagonist!
06 El Michels Affair - C.R.E.A.M.
07 Neon Indian - Deadbeat Summer
08 Bad Veins - Go Home
09 The Rhone Occupation - A Place
10 Godspeed you black emperor - Life your skinny fists like antennas to heaven
11 Brookline - The fountain
12 Blur - Strange news from another star
13 Amadou & Miriam - Sabali
14 Matteah Baim - Wounded Whale
15 Philip Jeays - London
16 Blur - Sing

For you ears only...

Trashcan Sinatras at The Coach House

The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano is an unusual venue (for Southern California at least) - its trestle tables running perpendicular right up to the wide stage probably more suited to the country music circuit... Inappropriately, (for the venue and Trashcan Sinatras) the support band was an appalling goth trio called Normandie, which featured a girl on drums who came from the school of thought that loud = good. There is nothing more depressing than a crap sounding drum kit (note the band also had no bass player) played incredibly loud. Anyway, at least the drums drowned out some pretty average vocals and Cure/Cult flanged guitar...

Trashcan Sinatras were predictably brilliant as always. I haven't really listed to the new CD 'In the music' much (I found it a little boring) but the songs sounded really good live. Indeed, they played most (if not all) of the new cd, plus three or four from 'Weightlifting' and a few oldies such as 'The Safecracker', 'Earlies', 'Easy Read', 'I've seen everything' and 'How can I apply'. Looking forward to seeing them again in a few weeks when they return from Japan...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brookline/SLR/Railroad to Alaska at Detroit Bar

SLR started the evening with a cool set. Sean was joined by regular cohort Justin (Railroad to Alaska, Honeypie) on guitar for the excellent 'Spanish Boots' and shared vocals on a brilliant version of 'Demolition 45'... Other highlights in the set were the perennial crowd pleaser 'We still love them' and the glam/rave anthem 'Venus de milo'...


Next up were Railroad to Alaska, featuring the aformentioned Justin, plus Derek (Honeypie, SLR sax player) and Vince (Brookline, Honeypie and sometimes SLR bass player.) RRTA were excellent - some Zeppelin riffs with a hint of Jeff Buckley in the chord structures and Justins vocal. If this is rock music for hipsters then sign me up...

Railroad to Alaska

Brookline were great too. They played a couple of catchy new songs at the beginning of the set and then played through most of their new EP... The sound for all the bands was really great - props to the sound guy at Detroit Bar...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RIP Dash Snow

Dash Snow, New York Artist, Dies at 27...

Snow, grandson of Christophe de Menil and great grandson of Dominique de Menil, came to prominence in the 2007 New York magazine article Warhol's Children...

Ryan McGinley's famous photo 'Dash Bombing' featured a tagging Snow:

Haunted houses...

Nice stop-motion video from Montreal band Monogrenade.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

David Shane Smith at El Taller

The nomadic RocknRoll Community Garden held court at El Taller, which is basically a couple of empty rooms between some stores in Echo Park... Following a talk on making your own Kombucha (which has put me off pancakes for life) - DSS took the floor and played an interesting set including a few new songs, some of which featured Sasha Gransjean on guitar... I particularly enjoyed the Mercury Rev tinged 'Shampoo' and 'Friends and Family'. Towards the end of the set David reverted to acoustic guitar; playing 'the busking song' and the poignant 'Keep Love'...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Damned United

'The Damned United' is David Peace's excellent imagination of the controversial 44 days that Brian Clough spent in charge of Leeds United before being sacked. The outspoken Clough was chosen to take over Leeds (the current champions) when previous manager Don Revie left to take charge of the England team in 1974. One of Cloughs first acts was to chop up Revie's desk and chair with an axe!

The book brilliantly combines two interweaving stories: the 44 days of Cloughs Leeds reign, and the story of Cloughs management career from the end of his playing days through injury to his appointment as manager of Leeds. The book tells of a bygone age where footballers smoked and drinked and is a far cry from the game today where you are barely allowed to tackle the overpaid prima donna players...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blur at Hyde Park

Deerhoof were a little frantic and complex for first band on a hot and sticky London afternoon... Not sure how many Can LP's the average Blur fan has - most of them seemed fairly bemused by the whole affair...

Florence and the Machine are the mystical Kate Nash... If Bat for Lashes are the new Kate Bush then FATM are the new T'Pau. The last song was ok - more dancy with some nice samples, but the rest of it was dire...

Amadou & Mariam really got the crowd moving - the blind Mali couple joined by some backing singers and a Western backing band that gave the African music a harder, more funky edge... Great stuff! Even Vampire Weekend sounded good as the sun began its slow descent but the kids by this time were getting rowdy waiting for Blur...

Blur should be congratulated for not leaving it too before 'reforming'... Indeed their trio of 'English' LP's (Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape) that celebrated (and deplored at the same time) the cult(ure) of being British in the 90's is every bit as relevant today as it was 10 years ago. The lads and ladettes came from the suburbs to Hyde Park(life) to drink, fight, snog and sing as if it was the Ally Pally or Mile End all those years ago. A lot of the kids there were probably too young to have seen Blur live before, and if anything, this added to the atmosphere much more than if the band and audience were a bunch of 40 year-olds who don't drink as much as they used to...

Personally, Blur were the soundtrack to my 1990's London life - through the Brit-pop years to 13 - dancing in Smashing next to Jarvis to 'Girls and Boys'; driving home through Camden and pulling up next to a beat-up silver mercedes and seeing Damon driving with Graham and Alex in the car; or chatting with Phil Daniels at the Blur 10 year exhibition in Hoxton Square...

Anyway, Blur played an amazing set... Everything sounded spot-on as the band were joined by various brass and backing singers including the obligatory Mr Daniels for Parklife. The setlist was:

She's So High
Girls And Boys
Tracy Jacks
There's No Other Way
Out Of Time
Trimm Trabb
Coffee And TV
Country House
Oily Water
Chemical World
Sunday Sunday
Parklife (with Phil Daniels)
End Of A Century
To The End
This Is A Low
Song 2
Death Of A Party
For Tomorrow
The Universal

Blur: 3862 Days (The Official History)

It's funny that Blur's official biography should be called 3862 days, because this is approximately how long it took Laura to read it... Just kidding (kind of...) I read it in a day on account of flying to London via a layover in Boston!

Stuart Maconie does an excellent job in comprehensively documenting the bands' history up to and including the LP '13'... No doubt the last 10 years would make a suitable second book; covering 'Think Tank', Graham Coxons departure from the band, and the recent reconciliation and gigs this year...

The most interesting part of the book was the period before 'Modern Life is Rubbish', where Blur were on the verge of bankruptcy following some careless management decisions. The subsequent album that Blur gave to Food was rejected and they were sent away to write a couple of 'singles'; coming back with 'For Tomorrow' and 'Chemical World'... Indeed, arguments with Food partner David Balfe over musical direction are an ongoing theme in the book...