Monday, March 30, 2009

Preview: Lunch with Josh Freese

Yes. It really did happen. Lunch with Josh Freese at the Cheesecake Factory. It was filmed, photos were taken and I recorded the audio from the "lunch date". More to come after I digest the chicken and shrimp jambalaya.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great Northern at the Roxy Theatre

Great Northern's album Trading Twilight for Daylight was one of my favorite local releases of 2007. The album was a fine blend of cinematic songwriting and uplifting guitars.

Their new album due in late April, Remind Me Where The Light Is, has Great Northern shutting off the lights leaving them to explore their songs in the darkness. Their live show reflects their altered outlook.

The Brobecks
Another box office mix up prevented me from catching all of The Brobecks. I only managed to get a few pictures of them in action. I didn't hear enough to formulate a distinct opinion. They are playing the 3 of clubs in Hollywood on April 1st.

The Jakes
I did catch The Jakes before when they played with Peachcake at the Chain Reaction. The Jakes have all the pieces in place to make an impact. They won a competition to open for the Kings of Leon and landed a spot on the Bamboozle Left show this weekend at Verizon Wireless in Irvine.

The woozy codeine effects of "Cough Syrup" were strong enough that I remembered hearing and liking the song back at the Chain Reaction. Sameer Gadhia (Vocals) led the charge while Eric Cannata (Guitars) and Jacob Tilley (Guitars) fueled their music with a Fender and Gibson guitar assault. The Jakes have an EP Shake My Hand available on itunes and

Lemon Sun
It has been awhile since I last caught up withLemon Sun. I saw them with the Pigeon Detectives at Spaceland in September of 2008. Lemon Sun just released their album Run With The Faithless which does a fine job capturing the essence of their live show. It seems like they have undergone a few line up changes since I last saw them, but they were just as tight sonically as I remembered.

The hard charging "Three Words" opened their set as Lemon Sun has added a full time keyboardist to round out their sound. The boozy feel of "Congratulate Our Thievery" did a fine job of inspiring a group of ladies in the front of the stage to dance along.

"Run With The Faithless" was a slash and burn overdriven tune that continued to stir the audience. Pulling out all the stops, Lemon Sun actually brought out a tap dancer to add an extra flavor of sound to one of their top tapping tunes. Lemon Sun will be hitting Spaceland on April 15th for a Club NME night before embarking on a short tour with the Rosewood Thieves.

Great Northern

Great Northern have long been a favorite band to review here on Amateur Chemist, dating as far back as January 2007 when they played Little Radio. I am fortunate to have heard their new album Remind Me Where The Light Is and can easily state that the album blew me away. I thought it was going to be difficult to follow up their fantastic debut album, but Great Northern came back with a vengenance and revealed some of their darker side.

Rachel Stolte (Vocals/Guitars) has exchanged her keyboard for a guitar to added another sonic layer to the thick cinema noir songs. Solon Bixler (Guitars) has reconfigured his guitar setup and has some pedal effects on a keyboard stand to easily tweak his sound on the fly.

The curtain at the Roxy quickly lifted and the noisy notes of "Story"
started fill the club. I didn't have my earplugs but I quickly discerned that it was a lot louder compared to prior Great Northern shows. The ringing guitars of "Houses" had Great Northern picking up steam before the swooning keyboards kick the song up a notch.

"Home" was reconfigured significantly to fit into the darker aesthetic of their new sound. "Warning" was another highlight of the evening and could very well be their next single. Great Northern will be heading off for a tour of the U.S. with the Dears and Eulogies which will hit the Casbah in San Diego on May 22nd and the Echoplex on May 23rd.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Horse at the Echoplex

A slew of bands made the trek back to Los Angeles after their appearances at SXSW. I was a little groggy from PJ Harvey and John Parish the night before but was intrigued by the triple bill of The Amateurs, Wintersleep and An Horse at the Echoplex.

The Amateurs

The small collection of Fender guitars quickly reminded me that I reviewed The Amateurs back in September of 2007. The Amateurs have undergone a number of member changes since I last caught them and have altered their sound to a dusky alt-country vibe.

JR Sage (Pedal Steel) was laying down the woozy pedal steel guitar on top of Keith Waggoner's (Vocals/Guitars) storytelling vocals. Their sound was augmented by the addition of some spirited trumpet playing by Tony Nichols. After visiting their myspace page, I remembered they played "Chain Reaction" and "Six Days". The Amateurs will be stopping by Que Sera in Long Beach on April 5th.


O Canada. How do you continue to produce good bands? Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wintersleep unveiled their incongruent angular guitars and penchant for tightly woven melodies for a foot tapping set. It is difficult not to think of Archers of Loaf and Burning Airlines when you listen to the crookedness of the guitars during "Archaeologists".

The shift to "Weighty Ghost" was a little uneven but they picked up steam with "Oblivion" with its chromatic spiral staircase ascending guitar riff. Wintersleep is finishing off their tour in Canada and will be heading out to the U.K. with buzz band White Lies.

An Horse

It seems like there is no shortage in my coverage of Australian bands here on Amateur Chemist. Joining the ranks of Cut Copy and The Presets, An Horse is an Australian duo that has been causing a stir here in the States.

Inverting the blueprint of the White Stripes, Kate Cooper (Vocals/Guitars) dutifully played a Fender Mustang and handled the vocals while Damon Cox (Drums) was on the drums. It was easy to see why Tegan & Sara enjoyed their semi-punk buzzy tunes. "Horizons" was a flurry of jangly power chords.

Damon helped out on the background vocals for "Little Lungs" that slowly built up momentum before unraveling into a sermon of "breathe little lungs". "Camp Out" and "Post Cards" garnered the largest response from the audience with their intoxicating melodies. An Horse will be saddling up for another tour of the states in April with the Appleseed Cast.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Josh Freese: Since 1972

Josh Freese drumming for the Vandals

I need some help. PF Changs or Cheesecake Factory? Which one do you prefer?

Drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese just released his second solo album Josh Freese: Since 1972 with the help of Topspin. I figured since Long Beach is local that I would help Josh out and get the $250 dollar package.

I hope to document our "lunch date" and ask him about his various drumming contributions to The Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, his tenuous stint with Guns and Roses and even his drumming on Juliana Hatfield's album Only Everything.

Here are the packages offered for his new album:JOSH FREESE: SINCE 1972

-Digital Download of "Since 1972" (including 3 videos)

-CD/DVD Double Disc Set
-Digital Download

-CD/DVD Double Disc Set
-"Thank You" phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked. Ask whatever you want, like "Is Maynard really THAT weird?" or "Which on of Sting's mansions has the comfiest beds?" or "Are Devo really Suburban Robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of Dads from Ohio?" or "Why don't the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?" It's your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.

$250 (limited edition of 25)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Signed Drum Head and Drumsticks.
-Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you're into.)

$500 (limited edition of 15)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download
-Signed Cymbal and sticks
-Meet Josh in Venice, CA and go floating together in a Sensory deprivation tank (filmed and posted on youtube)
-Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 Steak and "all you can eat" Shrimp on)

$1,000 (limited edition of 10)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Signed Cymbal, Drum head and Drumsticks.
-Josh washes your car OR does your laundry....or you can wash his car.
-Have dinner with Josh aboard the "Queen Mary" in Long Beach, CA
-Get drunk and cut each other's hair in the parking lot of the Long Beach courthouse (filmed and posted on youtube of course)

$2,500 (limited edition of 5)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Get a private drum lesson with Josh or for all you non-drummers have him give you a back and foot massage (couples welcome)
-Pick any 1 member of the Vandals or DEVO (subject to availability) to accompany you and Josh to either the Hollywood Wax Museum or the lunch buffet at the "Spearmint Rhino"
-Signed DW snare drum.
-Take 3 items of your choice out of his closet (first come, first serve)
-Change diapers and make bottles with him for an afternoon (after hitting the strip club)

$5,000 (limited edition of 3)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Josh writes about a song about you and make available on iTunes.
-Co-direct a video with him for the song about you and throw it up on the youtubes.
-Josh gives you and a friend a private tour of Disneyland
-Get drunk together. If you don't drink we can go to my Dads place and hang out under the "Tuba tree"
-Stone from Pearl Jam will send you a letter telling you about his favorite song on "Since 1972"

$10,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download
-Signed DW snare drum from A Perfect Circle's 2003 tour.
-Josh gives you a private drum lesson OR his and hers foot/back massage (couples welcome, discreet parking)
-Twiggy from Manson's band and Josh take you and a guest to Roscoe's Chicken n' Waffle in Long Beach for dinner.
-Josh takes you and guest to "Club 33" (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above the Pirates Of The Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterwards (preferably the Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion and The Tower Of Terror)
-At the end of the day at Disneyland drive away in Josh's Volvo station wagon. It's all yours....take it. Just drop him off on your way home though please.

$20,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour.
-Maynard James Keenan, Mark from Devo and Josh take you miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on youtube)
-Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the coffee shop on 2nd St where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up tile just weeks before joining "Nirvana." See the old Vandals rehearsal spot, the liquor store he got busted using a Fake I.D. at when he was 17 (it was Dave from the Vandals old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg's high- school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt live. For another $25 he'll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
-Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the "Ghosts And Legends" tour. (separate spooning.)
-Josh writes 2 songs about you and it's made available on iTUnes and appears on his next record (you can sing back up on em, clap, play the drums, triangle, whatever....)
-Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again...couples welcome and discreet parking available)
-Pick any 3 items out of Josh's closet.

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download
-Go on tour with Josh for a few days.
-Have Josh write, record and release a 5 song EP about you and your life story.
-Take home any of his drumsets (only one but you can choose which one.)
-Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from TOOL's Lamborgini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while.
-Josh will join your band for a shows, record, party with groupies, etc....
-If you don't have a band he'll be your personal assistant for a month (4 day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
-Take a limo down to Tijuana and he'll show you how it's done (what that means exactly we can't legally get into here)
-If you don't live in Southern California (but are a US resident) he'll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks.
-Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robins place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Upcoming shows: Puscifer at Club Nokia


I was shocked when I heard Tool was coming out from their self-imposed sabbatical to play Lollapalooza. I thought it would be a few years before I would see them again. In the meantime, Maynard has been busy with his Puscifer project.

For those people who missed the unexpectedly wildly entertaining Puscifer shows in Las Vegas, you can catch Puscifer at Club Nokia on April 5th. As an added bonus, Sweethead with Troy from Queens of Stone Age is opening the show. The only thing to expect is the unexpected.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Asobi Seksu at the Troubadour

I remember spotting Asobi Seksu as one of the highlighted artists on itunes back in 2006. After some investigating, I ventured out to see Asobi Seksu with Darker My Love at the Detroit Bar.

It was a barrage of fuzzed out guitars that instantly made me a fan of both bands. James Hanna (Guitars) from Asobi Seksu is one of the elite tone merchants in the world of shoegaze guitars. I highly recommend you download their live show from the Echo, the recording does an excellent job of catching their live essence.


Peruvian shoegaze? Yes. They are called Resplandor. Their album Pleamar was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame that raises their stock even more in my book. I can't imagine how hard it must be to break as a band out of Peru.

Resplandor seem to be up to the challenge as they have managed to find their way onto the Indie 103.1 for the glimmering song "Downfall". Aracelli Fernandez (Vocals) was singing underneath the sheets of sound created by her bandmates. I caught the last few songs of their set and was impressed. They will be heading back to North America to play the NXNE Festival in June.


The disjointed rhythms of Battles blasted in between the set changes and served as a good premonition for Bell. Gunnar Olsen (Drums/Samples) drummed along with Battles as he fine-tuned his gear. Jason Nazary (Drums) was behind a full kit of drums and had a laptop to augment their overall sound.

The focal point of the group was definitely Olga Bell (Vocals/Keyboards) with her demure voice combined with cozy synthesizer pads. Bell has managed to accumulate a fair share of buzz with the release of their self-titled EP.

The off kilter stacked rhythms and likely vocal comparisons to Bjork will start to surface as their popularity grows, but the music does speak for itself and has potential. The lack of guitars and bass was interesting in that you focused on the percussion and the accents of Bell's vocals. Bell is en route to SXSW and I will be keeping my eye on them.

Asobi Seksu

I immediately picked up the new album Hush from Asobi Seksu when it was released. My immediate reaction was the album more of a light snowfall compared to the blizzard of Citrus. I quickly became accustomed to the restrained tones of the album and appreciate it as much as Citrus.

Shrouded in near darkness, "Sing Tomorrow's Praise" started to piece itself together as Asobi Seksu recreated the tones of the album to perfection. The tempo started to pick up as the reverb drenched plucked notes of "Strawberries" were audibly delicious with Billy Pavone (Bass) adding a crushing fuzz bass line. My earplugs didn't seem to be dampening the sound as "Me & Mary" viciously pummeled my eardrums.

The tension wrought "Thursday" exploded with Yuki Chikudate (Vocals/Synths) singing softly against the noise storm created by James on guitars. "Familiar Light" was another showcase for Yuki's hypnotizing vocals. The songs from Hush when performed live had extra layers of sound and volume that make Asobi Seksu a must see live band.

A wobbly bass line of "Transparence" puts your head in the clouds that continues to float upward with shiny guitars. Yuki later sampled and looped her vocal "oohs" into a heavenly sermon. James would later take a turn on vocals for "Pink Cloud Tracing Paper" amongst the violent storm of flashing strobe lights.

"Red Sea" was a ferocious closer that culminated into a feedback session with Yuki jumping over to bash on the drum kit. I was torn that I had to miss their Detroit Bar show on Monday due to my commitment to see Primal Scream. Asobi Seksu will be back on May 2nd with Yann Tiersen at the El Rey.

At the end of the noise storm, I was determined to check out James Hanna's guitar setup. My heart immediately sank when I saw James was playing a custom Death By Audio "Fuzz Sound" with various filter knobs. I quickly understood why I liked James's tone so much. Other pedals include a Z. Vex Fuzz Factory, Maxon Super Chorus, and a Boss Heavy Metal pedal.

James Hanna's pedalboards from Asobi Seksu

Asobi Seksu setlist at the Troubadour (3/14/09)
"Sing Tomorrow's Praise"
"Me & Mary"
"Meh No Mae"
"In The Sky"
"Familiar Light"
"New Years"
"Blind Little Rain"
"Pink Cloud Tracing Paper"
"Red Sea"