Thursday, January 29, 2009

IO Echo at the Echoplex

It is still refreshing to see that the Indie 103.1 Check One.. Twosdays at the Echoplex was not cancelled in the wake of Indie 103.1 going off the air. The line-up for this night was an eclectic offering of three bands that managed to draw a large crowd with IO Echo headlining the bill.

JJAMZ is not an electro rap group like their name may suggest. Instead, JJAMZ is acronym for Jason Boesel (Drums) from Rilo Kiley, James Valentine (Guitars), Alex Greenwald (Vocals/Guitars) from Phantom Planet, Michael Runion (Bass) and Z Berg (Vocals) from The Like. Even though their myspace page dates back to November of 2006, this was their first show.

In the sound department, JJAMZ pulls influences from their respective bands for a rambling laid back feel good batch of tunes. I can't imagine how they could find time to rehearse let alone record, but JJAMZ has such a high caliber of musicians that they pulled off their performance like cagey veterans. Z Berg and Alex traded off vocals for a number of songs, but Jason and Michael also had their turn with lead vocals on their own songs. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a full time project, but judging by the smiles on all their faces at the conclusion of the set, you will see JJAMZ again.


Something was familiar about Zaza. It seems like I had just saw them somewhere. It turns out my instincts were correct as Jennifer Fraser (Bass) was helping out the Raveonettes at the Henry Fonda a few days ago. I failed to mention in that review that Jennifer did an excellent job with her Rickenbacker bass lines interlocking with Heisenflei's rock solid drumming.

Zaza doesn't stray too far from the sound and setup of the Raveonettes with Danny Taylor (Vocals/Guitars) and an accompanying drummer with a stand up kit. Sonically, Zaza mesmerized the audience of spindles of delay soaked floating guitars and humming bass lines. The vocals were slightly buried in the dense mix of guitars but forced the listeners to concentrate more on the music and carry the audience away. Danny turned his Yamaha hollowbody guitar into a dream machine with the help of his Line 6 Delay pedal.

It honestly took me two songs to be completely sold. Zaza would strategically bleed each of their songs into each other, which kept the audience in trance like state. Zaza has released an EP Cameo which is available as a free download from their website. I urge you to download this now before you have to pay for it later. Zaza will be playing with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on February 7th at the Mercury Lounge.

IO Echo
Things keep moving in a positive direction for IO Echo. My history with IO Echo dates back to August 2007 when they played the Viper Room for Indie 103.1. Io Echo continued to impress when they opened for the Duke Spirit at the Hammer Museum.

IO Echo unveiled an assortment of new songs sprinkled in with their usual live staples. I have been waiting for a full-length album for quite sometime but you can download "Addicted" from itunes. One of the things that I noticed off the bat was that IO Echo continues to refine their songs and added a lot of nuances to help improve their songs. "Addicted" was especially solid with Leopold Ross (Guitars) adding pick scrapes of noise to parts of the song.

I unfortunately didn't catch any of the titles of the new songs, but the songs traveled various sonic avenues that make it more difficult to pin down their overall sound. IO (Vocals) was as captivating as ever, sprawling across the stage and climbing the scaffolding. "I'm On Fire" was another refined song that burned down the audience. IO Echo will be back on the club circuit March 20 at the House of Blues San Diego and March 21 at the House of Blues Anaheim.


Michael Runion said...

hey, this is michael from jjamz. is it alright if we use that shot of z sitting down onstage on our facebook page for a little while? we haven't done any photo shoots yet. full credit will be issued, obviously. thanks for reviewing the show......

Amateur Chemist said...

No Problem.