Saturday, November 29, 2008

O'Death at Spaceland

It was difficult to escape death on this particular night at Spaceland. O'Death may hail from New York but sounds nothing like A Place To Bury Strangers or Sonic Youth. O'Death brought their mutant gothic country punk to Los Angeles with support from two fine local bands in the form of Le Switch and Death To Anders.

Death To Anders

My busy concert attendance schedule unfortunately prevented me from checking out the Death To Anders residency at the Echo in September. I was impressed when they recently released a quick EP Enigmatic Market as a follow up to Fictitious Business. By all accounts, Death To Anders is on a roll as they played a tightly spun set that impressed the sizable crowd at Spaceland.

Rob Danson (Vocals/Guitars) might be the only person in Silverlake that plays a Paul Reed Smith guitar as he slashed out the opening chords to "Corduroy Stitches". Nick Ceglio (Guitars/Vocals) had his Fender Stratocaster playing notes like Spiral Stairs from Pavement to Rob Danson's cribbing of Stephen Malkmus guitar squalls. The dusty tumbleweeds kept rolling through Spaceland as "Camera Lens" was executed with precision that made me forget about Sarah from the Happy Hollows contributes backing vocals on the album version. I still have yet to hear "Ghost Rock" but I think Death To Anders is strategically omitting the song in hopes that I will keep coming to their shows. Unfortunately, their strategy is working, as I will be sure to catch Death To Anders again.

Le Switch

It only took a few notes for me to regret missing some recent shows from Le Switch. I last caught up with Le Switch in February at the Prospector. Of course, Aquarium Drunkard was wise enough to sign and release their latest album And Now....Le Switch. Le Switch is not far removed from their label mates The Henry Clay People. Both bands should have been added to the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers tour.

Aaron Kyle (Vocals/Guitars) dialed up some twang by strumming his flat-black Fender Telecaster. Maria DeLuca (Violin/Trumpet) was not obstructed by the bandage on her right hand as she plucked the violin and danced up a storm. Josh Charney (Keyboards) filled out their sound with some choice piano riffs on his Roland Juno keyboard. Le Switch was in the giving spirit as they gave away a potato decorated as a turkey to one lucky audience member in the spirit of Thanksgiving. "Hard Talkin'" is worth the price of their album alone with its saloon vibe. Le Switch will be hitting Long Beach with The Minor Canon and Summer Darling on December 7th at Que Sera, which is the same night as The Henry Clay People and The Monolators at Alex's Bar. This is an example that Long Beach needs bigger venues because a bill with all those bands would be epic.


It might be cliché to say O'Death slayed the audience, but it does sum up the vibe at Spaceland on this particular night. When all of the band members took a shot of whiskey prior to tearing into their set, I knew things would be interesting. O'Death played like they were a possessed version of the Charlie Daniels Band with insane banjo runs and a shredding electric violin. Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin is a small slice of their rollicking vibrant live show.

"Home" might start quietly but slowly churns before picking up its pace. It served as a nice introduction to the avalanche of onstage action that would ensue. Gabe Darling (Banjo) blew me away with his fingerpicking good rendition of "Only Daughter" from their first album Head Home. The energy level continued to rise throughout the evening with each band member having their turn in the spotlight. Greg Jamie (Guitars/Vocals) properly fits the description of an old soul in terms of his singing voice. Spaceland seemed to morph into a backwoods campfire sing-along. "Lowtide" was another hellride through the south with its frantic pace. "Down To Rest" could easy be the soundtrack to a warped Country Bear Jamboree ride at Disneyland. Bob Pycior's (Violin) bow was shredded after a few songs as I could have sworn seeing billows of smoke coming from his instrument. O'Death will be wrapping up their tour at the Bowery Ballroom in New York on December 5th(Thanks Ryan!).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coldplay at the Honda Center

Coldplay closed out their tour of the States after kicking it off back in July at the Forum.

Sleepercar went on stage close to 7:30 sharp which was a shame as most people missed their Texas tinged alternative country flavor. It wasn't the first time seeing Jim Ward (Vocals/Guitars) at the Honda Center as I remembered going to see Jim in Sparta when he opened for Incubus when it was dubbed the Arrowhead Pond. Sleepercar unveiled a batch of songs from their debut album West Texas and threw in a cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers "Older Guys".

Jon Hopkins was up next with his electronic textural washed DJ set. Jon co-produced a couple of tracks from the newly released Coldplay EP Prospekts March. Jon played a similar set to his Forum gig and I would have preferred he opened the show as it brought down the energy level from Sleepercar.

Having witnessed a number of Coldplay performances over the years, I wasn't as impressed compared to the OC Register and OC Weekly. I felt Chris's voice was a little off. Chris was emphasing some of the notes in the songs differently. It could have been me but the excitement and electricity wasn't as elevated compared to the Forum show. The only moment were the intensity was matched was during "Viva La Vida". Here is a rough timeline of the events:

9:15 Lights dim. Crowd screams. "Life in Technicolor".

9:22 Que the lasers, it is time for "Clocks". Chris has a delay effect on his piano.

9:27 Chris says, "Hello, We are from Orange County"

9:31 "Speed of Sound"

9:38 "Cemeteries Of London"

9:41 Jonny Buckland is strumming a Fender Jazzmaster. Has Coldplay gone shoegazer?

9:44 Chris heads back to the piano for "42"

9:48 A blue wash of lights blare as Chris changes the lyrics during "Fix You" stating you are in "row 57 at a Coldplay show"

9:53 "Strawberry Swing"

9:58 Coldplay relocates to middle of the floor for a mini-electronic set of "God Put A Smile On Your Face" and "Talk". Will Champion hits his electronic drum kit in a way that reminds me of Portishead's "Machine Gun".

10:04 "The Hardest Part" where Chris laments his age at 31 and that he isn't as talented as the Jonas Brothers.

10:06 Chris flubs the lyrics.....audience appalause and cheer at the show of humility.

10:09 "Viva La Vida" despite how many times you heard the song, it is epic in the live setting.

10:13 "Lost!"

10:17 Ushers put up caution tape and line the floor.

10:18 Coldplay runs down the floor to the back of the arena for an acoustic version of "The Scientist".

10:22 Will Champion sings "Death Will Never Conquer".

10:25 "Viva La Vida" remix blares while Coldplay run back on stage.

10:28 The crashing piano chords of "Politik" raise the energy level.

10:35 My favorite tune from Viva La Vida..."Lovers In Japan".

10:36 I am showered in hundreds of paper butterflies.

10:40 "Viva" banner unfurls on stage.

10:45 Chris talks about coming here eight years ago(KROQ Acoustic Christmas 2000) before starting to play "Yellow".

10:50 Get soaked running to the car.

Coldplay setlist at the Honda Center (11/25/08)
"Life In Technicolor"
"Violet Hill"
"In My Place"
"Speed of Sound"
"Cemeteries of London"
"Chinese Sleep Chant"
"Fix You"
"Strawberry Swing"
"God Put A Smile On Your Face"
"The Hardest Part"
"Viva La Vida"
"The Scientist"
"Death Will Never Conquer"
"Lovers In Japan"
"Death And All His Friends"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everest and Henry Clay People at the Echoplex

It was an impressive turnout for the reboot of Indie 103.1's Check One.Twosdays at the Echoplex last week with Earlimart and the Afternoons. This week boasted another strong assortment of bands with Nico Stai, The Henry Clay People, Everest and Dazzler.

Nico Stai

After a prolonged soundcheck, The Echoplex opened nearly thirty minutes late to throw off the evening's festivities. Luckily, it didn't take too long for before Nico Stai hit the stage. It has been quite awhile since I saw Nico Stai earlier this year at the Paul Gleason Theater. The Victory Of Miss Friday How To Bury Your Heart and Five Songs To Die For is the longest titled EP of the year and contains five songs.

The weathered jangle of "You Came Around" filled the Echoplex, as Nico seemed more comfortable with his full backing band compared to his stripped down performance at the Paul Gleason Theater. "Covered Too" was another propulsive guitar jangle jam accented with Nico's smokey vocals. Nico Stai will be opening for the Movies during their Spaceland Residency on December 15th.

The Henry Clay People

I regretted not attending the Spaceland record release party for The Henry Clay People. One can almost smell the whiskey in the air that permeates from their new album For Cheap or For Free released by Aquarium Drunkard's record label Autumn Tone.

My prior reviews of The Henry Clay People at Little Radio, The Echo and the Prospector were alcohol fueled furies. Realizing that they were heading down the fast path to cirrhosis, The Henry Clay People played a sobering set that demonstrated how well their songs are carefully crafted.

The ragged guitars of "Rock and Roll has Lost Its Teeth" had plenty of bite as the Henry Clay People delivered a large helping of boozy rock. Joey Siara (Vocals/Guitars) was switching between two homemade Fender Telecaster shaped guitars while Andy Siara (Guitars) was in full rock twang mode on his Fender Telecaster.

"This Ain't A Scene" had Andy coming up with the bluesy metal slide riff, as the song could easy fit on a Tom Petty record. An extra speedy version of "Working Part Time" convinced me that the Henry Clay People need to be packaged on a national tour to take their message to the masses. The Henry Clay People will join up with the Pity Party for a New Year's Eve show at Spaceland that is guaranteed to start your 2009 on the right foot.


It might be an understatement to say that Everest has had a whirlwind year. Their year started quietly by opening up for The Parson Red Heads during their residency at Spaceland. Everest would later open for the Radar Bros at the Echo in February. I also caught their prior appearance during a Check One Two show at the Viper Room in May. Everest would later tour with My Morning Jacket and Neil Young.

Ghost Notes will be criminally overlooked on many best of lists for 2008. An animated backdrop of falling snow juxtaposed the warm guitar tones of "Stumble Waltz". Jason Soda had a drool worthy twelve string Epiphone hollowbody guitar that cemented their way of sound. The soft twang of "Trees" was hypnotizing, as Russell Pollard (Vocals/Guitars) seemed to be happy to be playing in front of a hometown audience. Everest was extremely well rehearsed and worthy of their opening slot for Neil Young.

It was a nice surprise to see the Watson Twins assist Everest as Jason and Russell used to perform in their band. There is a reason why "Rebels and The Roses" has 62,000 plays and counting. Your extra credit homework assignment is to give it listen, preferably with headphones. Everest will be playing the El Rey Theatre with Delta Spirit on January 16th and I suggest you get your tickets soon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Breeders at the Wiltern Theatre

I don't blame The Breeders for walking off the stage during their stop in San Diego for Lollapalooza 2004. A sudden influx of mud was thrown onstage by some unruly patrons who started to pelt the band members and their gold covered stage setup. I was extremely happy that I got to hear "Divine Hammer", but was crushed that I didn't hear "Cannonball".

The Breeders are touring behind their recent released album Mountain Battles and made up for my abbreviated set with a lengthy setlist that spanned their twenty year career at the Wiltern Theatre.

The Whispertown 2000

Clad in her vintage Dodgers t-shirt, Morgan Nagler (Vocals/Guitars) led The Whispertown 2000 through a harmonious alt-country fueled set. The Whispertown 2000 recently released their sophomore album Swim on Acony records and suggested the audience pick up their album at the merch booth "with their faces on it". I felt like I was at the Grand Ole Opry when Morgan started singing "103".

Morgan and Vanesa Corbala (Vocals/Drums) swayed throughout the whole evening and it was infectious as the crowd started to sway along in time. "Ebb and Flow" lived up to its name rising in the rock vein and falling into a country sound. Catch The Whispertown 2000 at the Troubadour on November 30th with Azure Ray.

The Muslims

When it comes to buzz, The Muslims have been swarming all over the internet. Originating in San Diego, The Muslims are making strategic moves to break out on the national scene. The Muslims have a connection to The Breeders in that they both have recorded their albums locally with analog tape aficionado Manny Nieto.

Matt Lamkin (Vocals/Guitars) was using a Fender Musicmaster guitar for their garage surf tinged post modern rock. Brian Hill (Drums) was fun to watch as he channeled Slim Jim Phantom with his stand up drumming. Their catalog is limited to a few seven inch releases and a twelve inch release available on 1928 recordings here.

I found myself tapping my foot throughout their entire set as they tackled "Extinction". It was a duel of wiry guitars during "Bright Side" as David Lantzman (Bass) negotiated the low end. Matty McLoughlin (Guitars/Keyboards) switched over to keyboards for the catchy number "Nightlife". The Muslims will be at the Echoplex on December 19th opening for Darker My Love and opening for the Raveonettes at the Henry Fonda on January 24th.

The Breeders

When I saw the bullet microphone on stage, I knew The Breeders where going to play "Cannonball". However, I wasn't prepared for them to open the show with "Tipp City" which was from Kim Deal's (Vocals/Guitars) side project The Amps. The Breeders switched to their album Title Tk for the quirky gem "Huffer" and its awkwardly awesome guitar lines. Kim sounded superb in the vocal and the guitar department as she played a Fender Stratocaster for most of the evening. She even had her old school golden Marshall Amp and cabinet on the stage.

"Bang On" was a sermon in vocal harmonies as Kim and Kelley Deal (Guitars/Vocals) played to one of their strengths. The Breeders gave a shout out to Guided By Voices when they dusted off their cover of "Shocker In Gloomtown". I felt I already got my money's worth after hearing "Divine Hammer". Sisterly love was displayed during "It's The Love" when Kim stood directly in front of Kelley while she was singing in her efforts to distract. "No Aloha" had Kelley working overtime with her use of a metal slide. "Cannonball" was spot on with Kim yelling into her distorted bullet microphone as Mando Lopez (Bass) nailed the classic bass line.

The Breeders did venture back to their first album when they played their cover of The Beatles "Happiness is A Warm Gun" and "Iris". Kelley took up the violin for a country fried version of "Driving On 9". The Breeders forayed into Spanish as Kelley admitted she was nervous about performing "Regalame Esta Noche". "Hellbound" was the musical coda to the evening that capped a set that was worth the fourteen year wait.

The Breeders setlist at the Wiltern Theatre
"Tipp City"
"Bang On"
"Shocker In Gloomtown"
"Divine Hammer
"It’s The Love"
"Night Of Joy"
"No Aloha"
"We’re Gonna Rise"
"Walk It Off"
"New Year"
"I Just Want to Get Along"
"Happiness is A Warm Gun"
"Here No More"
"Drivin on ‘9"
"Empty Glasses"
"Fortunately Gone/Full On Idle"
"Regalame Esta Noche"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Annuals and Minus The Bear at the Henry Fonda Theater

The Henry Fonda theater was bustling on Sunday night as a diverse group of bands had assembled. My primary objective was to catch up with Annuals who impressed me back in December of 2006 when they played to a packed house at Spaceland. I was also curious about Helms Alee who is signed to Hydrahead records. As I don't own any of their albums, Minus The Bear were the wild card of the night.

Helms Alee

I have to tip my hat again to Inflight At Night for the heads up regarding Helms Alee. It didn't take long for me to appreciate the fractured heaviness of Helms Alee. Ben Verellen (Vocals/Guitars) sounded as fierce as he looked playing his Fender Jazzmaster through a Sunn Amplifier. Ben seemed to have three main shades of guitar tone (Jangle, Heavy and Beyond Heavy) as they sounded like a cross between Archers of Loaf sprinkled with elements of Slayer.

I will be checking out their album Night Of Terror. "Left Handy Man Handle" is a good example of Ben's jangly guitars as he weaves an intricate sonic pattern that devolves into a storm of fuzz. Dana James and Hozoji Matheson-Margullis are a potent rhythm section holding down the bass and drums. They have been added to my must see again list.


The Henry Fonda started to fill out as the Annuals were set to play. Such Fun is their sophomore album that expands upon the impressive debut album Be He Me. Annuals seemed at home on stage as they had plenty of room for their six members.

The wistful acoustic guitar notes of "Brother" kicked off their set as Anna Spence (Keyboards/Vocals) triggered the lush strings on her Korg keyboard. Adam Baker (Vocals/Guitars) is the focal point of the band with his impassioned performance. "Brother" slowly shape shifts going from lush ballad to an overdriven fast paced soaring anthem. Donzel Radford (Drums) switched from delicately tapping on his cymbals to a full-bore bashing maniac. "Confessor" was hypnotic with its psychedelic guitars underpinning Adam's vocals. Random samples of dialogue were integrated into the opening of "Complete or Completing" as a ragtime piano riff accompanied the bluesy overdriven guitars. Mike Robinson (Bass) reminded me of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers with his animated style of bass playing.

Annuals dived head first into alt-country with a whiskey soaked version of "Always Do". "Springtime" was an epic call to arms with its sing along chorus. "Sore" from their Wet Zoo EP was took things down a notch but perfectly set the stage for "Down The Mountain". "Hot Night Hounds" closed out their forty minute set. The Annuals will be back on February 19th at the Troubadour along with What Laura Says. Stream their song "Confessor" here while you watch the video here.

Minus The Bear

It was a small cadre of guitar pedals on stage for Minus The Bear. Line 6 must sponsor them as they had 4 or 5 Line 6 delay pedals on stage for their knotted delay looped jams. Ironically, Minus The Bear recently released Acoustics, which are acoustic interpretations of their songs. Minus The Bear would later perform a trio of acoustic songs "Pachuca Sunrise", "We Are Not A Football Team" and "Guns & Ammo". Alex Rose (Synthesizers) had a nice little setup with Nord Lead 2x and an Apple Laptop with a keyboard controller to add various noise washes to the songs. I didn't recognize too many of the songs but it reminded me a little bit of Pinback mixed with Death Cab For Cutie. Minus The Bear will be heading down to Australia for a short tour.