Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Submarines and The Morning Benders at the Detroit Bar

Check out my photos of The Submarines and The Morning Benders at the Detroit Bar for OC Weekly. The Morning Benders and The Submarines will be back at the Troubadour on February 28th.

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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Raveonettes and The Soft Pack at the Henry Fonda Theater

Lust,Lust,Lust was one of the fuzzier albums of 2008. "Aly, Walk with Me" blew my mind with its torrential waves of feedback to close out the song. It is easily my favorite Raveonettes album. I caught The Raveonettes at the Detroit Bar in 2007 and at the Make Music Pasadena Festival in 2008. The addition of The Soft Pack made this show a slam dunk.

The Soft Pack

I last caught The Soft Pack when they were known as The Muslims. They put together a toe tapping set opening for the Breeders at the Wiltern. The buzz continues to grow louder with The Soft Pack recently inking a deal with Kemado records.

The surf guitars were in full force for "Beside Myself" with the propulsive drumming by Brian Hill (Drums). "Extinction" tonally evokes the spirit of Joy Division but mixes things up with a swelling of background vocals. Dave Lantzman (Bass) drills the fuzz bass line into your head with the ping pong notes of "Nightlife".

An onslaught of infectious guitars crawls into your bloodstream with their ferocious closer "Parasites". The Soft Pack will be lighting up the Echo on Feb 4th and Feb 13th. It will be packed. Check them out at a small venue before it is too late.

The Raveonettes

The dreamy "You Say, You Lie" set the tone early as The Raveonettes were assisted by the talented Heisenflei of The Pity Party on Drums. Sune Wagner (Vocals/Guitars) and Sharin Foo (Vocals/Guitars) were armed with Fender Jazzmasters hypnotizing the audience with sheets of sound.

The cavernous guitar reverb of "Hallucinations" was simply awe inspiring. I am always impressed how faithfully The Raveonettes recreate their guitar tones in a live setting. The lost gem from the sixties in the form of "Here Comes Mary" sounded pristine with the harmonizing vocals from Sune and Sharin.

Heisenflei hid in the shadows when she kicked off the haunting beats of "Black Satin". The Raveonettes traveled back to their first album Chain Gang Of Love for "Noisy Summer". By the way, was anybody perplexed by the one audience member who was twirling glow sticks during the whole show?

"Love In A Trashcan" lit the crowd on fire with its howling guitars and rapid fire drums. I should also mention Heisenflei would hit her drumsticks together to keep the beat when all the other instruments dropped out and then everyone would come roaring back in with a storm of noise.

The Raveonettes saved their best songs for the end with a sparkling version of "Twilight" and closed out the evening with the noisy bliss of "Aly, Walk With Me". The Raveonettes are heading back into the studio to record their next album which I eagerly await.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Autolux at the Henry Fonda Theater

One of my great expectations for 2009 would be a new Autolux album. Autolux is rapidly approaching the ten show review mark, as I have caught them numerous times since the inception of this site. Greg Edwards (Guitars) from Autolux has a meticulously crafted guitar tone that would leave any guitarist slack jawed.

Wooden Shjips
Wooden Shjips sent the audience adrift with their psychedelic drone drenched tunes. Wooden Shjips drill their riffs into your head with pulverizing repetition. "Loose Lips" from their Subpop release was a fuzzy phased out acid trip of a ride with Ripley Johnson (Guitars/Vocals) leading the way. Nash Whalen (Organ) kept it real with his Farfisa organ and a collection of pedal effects stacked on top at his disposal. They closed out the evening with a floating rendition of "Death's Not Your Friend". The Henry Fonda seemed to be at sixty percent capacity when they closed their set.

Autolux conducted a lesson in sonics from start to finish. The haunting notes of "In The Way" filled the densely packed Henry Fonda Theater. A metallic bristled swarm of feedback washed over crowd during "Audience No.2" which is a highly recommended download from their website.

The new material kept coming with the unveiling of "Supertoys" before returning back to familiar territory with the quiet then super loud roar of "Capital Kind of Strain". Eugene Goreshter (Vocals/Bass) was swinging his bass around for the fuzzed out "Here Comes Everybody" backed by the floating vocals of Carla Azar (Drums).

"Headless" cut like a guillotine with Greg's guitar sound morphing into a metallic mangled synthesizer. The distinctive drum shuffle of "Turnstile Blues" elicited a large cheer from the faithful fans with the trio interlocked in its dreamy grove. A firm tension permeated the room with the shuffling "Blanket" and Greg's high octave outbursts.

"Subzero Fun" bled into the trance like looping feedback of "Finder's Fee". Greg threw me for a loop when he exchanged his trademark silver Gibson SG for a Gibson hollowbody for a new tune that would be the lead track from their new album. Greg conjured a storm of dissonance that would make Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth proud.

Eugene asked the crowd if they wanted to hear Carla sing, to which Autolux answered with a cover of Velvet Underground "After Hours". "Plantlife" and "Reappearing" concluded the noisy encore that galvanized my desire to have an Autolux album in my hands before the end of 2009.

Autolux setlist at the Henry Fonda (1/17/09)
"In The Way"
"Audience No.2"
"Capital Kind Of Strain"
"Here Comes Everybody"
"Headless Sky"
"Turnstile Blues"
"Science of Imaginary Solutions"
"Subzero Fun"
"Finder's Fee"
"After Hours"

Monday, January 19, 2009

NAMM Day 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center

Check out even more photos from NAMM for OC Weekly here.

Pennywise at the Hollywood Palladium

Pennywise at the Hollywood Palladium
South Bay's finest, Pennywise packed them in at the Hollywood Palladium for a sold out furious punk rock show. Pennywise had dedicated the show to Byron McMackin's(Drums) mother Dartie who recently passed away. It was a touching tribute with Pennywise turning in a razor sharp performance featuring plenty of moshing and circle pits by the dedicated Pennywise fans.

Special "C"
Special "C" must be a new band because I can't find their Myspace page or any other information about the band. I did gather they also hail from the South Bay and probably are good friends with Pennywise. In the sound department, Special "C" falls into the realm of ska punk influenced heavily by Sublime. The bass lines rumbled and the guitars were skanky. Special "C" quickly wrapped up their thirty minute set.

Update: Special "C" features Bubba McMackin (Drums) and their myspace page is here.

Black President
Black President didn't waste any time with their politically charged no nonsense punk rock. Black President is fronted by Christian Martucci (Vocals/Guitars) who venomously spewed lyrics while thrashing his Gretsch guitar. Charlie Paulson (Guitar) was an uncaged animal on stage jumping around while hammering out power chords through his Marshall JCM 2555 Slash model amplifier. I wasn't too sure if Charlie was still involved with Black President because I recently saw him with Goldfinger at the Grove in Anaheim.

Black President stuck mostly to their self titled album by playing "Who Do You Trust?", "Not Amused", Not Enough", "Short List of Outspoken Suspects" and "Ask Your Daddy". Roy Mayorga (Drums) made quite the commotion behind the drum kit that even impressed one of the security guards in front. The crowd seemed to enjoy their high energy punk tunes.

The Vandals
I never get tired of watching The Vandals. They had me in stitches during their Christmas show at the House of Blues Anaheim. Their performance at the Liskfest was one of the more memorable sets of the day.

Dave Quackenbush (Vocals) is the quintessential punk rock funnyman. Only Dave can perform such songs as "It's A Fact" and "43210-1" with a smirk on his face. He would later quip about how they "put lipstick on the pig" in reference to the renovated Hollywood Palladium. Dave also pointed out that the crowd should give Josh Freese (Drums) a hand since he recently quit his job (drumming for Nine Inch Nails) and had a third child.

I couldn't quite make out who was pictured on Joe Escalante's bass but it looked like Old Dirty Bastard from Wu Tang Clan. Warren Fitzgerald (Guitars) was his usual animated self doing cartwheels and soloing with the guitar between his legs. "Don't Stop Me Now" closed out the hilarity. Good times indeed.

In case you haven't heard, The Hollywood Palladium is adopting similar rules to that of the Wiltern due to fire marshall restrictions. In order for you to watch a show from the floor, one needs to get to the Palladium early to secure a wristband for floor access. The Pennywise fans didn't take too kindly to this request. Things seemed to have worked themselves out as the floor was packed once Pennywise hit the stage.

Pennywise recently moved over to Myspace records for their latest release, Reason To Believe which they gave away as a free download. "As Long As We Can" jump started the audience into action. Fletcher Dragge (Guitars) was using his same blue battered Ibanez guitar that must date back to the beginning of Pennywise.

Jim Lindberg (Vocals) summoned up the stage presence of Greg Graffin from Bad Religion by frantically pacing the stage and inciting the audience. Jim even later gave a shout out to Bad Religion saying that they had been ripping them off for years. Pennywise is one of those bands that won't change the inherent sound of their band just like Bad Religion.

Pennywise would venture way back into the catalog for "Rules" from their self-titled debut album. "Can't Believe it" was a fury of drums and guitars with the mosh pit swirling in unison. The energy of a fervent crowd at a Pennywise show is something to behold. I stood on the sides and watched the chaos unfold on the floor.

Fletcher would later take some time to announce that the remaining members of Sublime are reuniting to reconstitute the band. Adrian Young (Drums) from No Doubt would come out on stage to fill in for their Sublime cover tune. Pennywise usually dedicates "F*** Authority" to the LAPD but graciously changed their minds after the Fire Marshall had allowed the fans on the floor.

Some of the highlights from their set included "Every Single Day", "Unknown Road", "Society" and "Living For Today". Pennywise also covered "Stand By Me" with the help of two fans from the crowd to varying degrees of success with the female fan faring slightly better.

The crowd would later become unhinged for "Bro Hymn", as the circle pits churned with a vengeance. Jim reminded the crowd that the song was dedicated to Byron's mother who was always sitting on the drum riser at all the Pennywise shows. It was a touching tribute to say the least.