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I have neglected this blog.  Oops.

Life has gotten in the way.  Work, dating, the beach… did I say dating?  Yeah, that hasn’t gone so well.  Not worst-date-ever material (yet), but guys, here’s a pointer: don’t take a girl to Shakey’s and expect a second date.

Now that we have that out of the way.

Friday night, Becca and I made a field trip to LA for what we thought was going to be a quick 30 minute set by my girl crush, Meiko.  It turns out the set was part of a showcase for the Worldwide Radio Summit, and the two of us were amidst a plethora of record industry people.  You know, something I’m used to every Friday night.  No biggie.  It’s not like I won a contest on Facebook or anything.

As a certified Meiko stalker, I was singing along to all of the “new” songs she played.  She started out with a sweet number in which she repeated “I’m in love” numerous times.  I whispered to Becca that I’d like to relate to that song in a decade or so.  No rush.

Part of Meiko’s charm is her banter with the audience in between sets.  Though she was obviously in front a bunch of industry power players, she didn’t tone down the feistiness too much, and disclosed that she was dating a “hot British guy.” That led into a song entitled “I’m Not Sorry,” which was a non-apology for wanting a housewife’s life.  However, most housewives would blush at a song like “Between the Sheets” which is Meiko’s most lyrically intense song.  It details an affair with a man that she wants public (she tells him to ‘leave the lights on’) yet she knows it can never be.  The symbolism of the lights is intriguing, as Meiko’s lyrics are mostly surface level –- yet hilarious and subtle all the same.

Though it was a short set, she did not fail to disappoint.  The looks she gave the small audience of less than 40 people were naughty and sneaky, and perfectly Meiko.  However, Becca and I didn’t want to leave so soon, so we opted to take advantage of our scratchy red wristbands and saunter to the next stage, where another showcase was starting.

                Who would be playing, but Matt Nathanson.  The transition from Meiko to Matt was not a difficult one at all, as he kept referring to his stage as “the brothel.”

His first song was “Mercy”, which gave Duffy’s song of the same name a run for her money.  The way he kept singing “Less drowning, more land” with distortion became a little swoon-worthy.

He easily transitioned from upbeat pop (‘To the Beat of our Noisy Hearts’) and radio-worthy songs (‘Faster’ – which he noted was “Like S&M”… was he channeling Meiko?) to his most famous song, “Come on Get Higher.”  Oh, and a note about this one: I distinctly remember this song being played over and over in movie theaters before the feature started, and many times I was with my parents while the song played.  I will never think of the song in the same light now, since apparently it’s about “Getting naked in an awesome slap and tickle type way.”  Um, hi Mom and Dad?

Bec and I weren’t feeling like being smashed into another room, so we sat on a couch in the lobby while listening to British band Scars on 45. They were great music to listen to, and the guy-girl duets were fantastic.

All in all, the showcase was a pleasant surprise.

And my first experience in a brothel was swell.

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Welcome to Flashback Friday — a look back on the week in music.  I’ve posted some noteworthy news on the Facebook page (what?  You haven’t become a fan yet?  Do that. Now.), but here are the gems:

  • The White Stripes have, indeed, broken up.  The writing has been on the wall for a while, what with Jack White’s multiple endeavors and some subtle hints in the Under Great White Northern Lights documentary.  But still.  Bummer.
  • The Avett Brothers hinted at an album in mid-2011.  If this is true, I will be very, very happy.  Speaking of happy…
  • Fleet Foxes promises their long-awaited new album will be released on Tuesday May 3rd.  The title track is now available for download on their website.  Southern California dates:
  • May 6 -Spreckels Theatre – San Diego
  • May 7 – Hollywood Palladium – Hollywood

One of the most hyped festivals of the year – the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – just announced it’s 3 day lineup. 

 

That’s right: Jay Z.  Well, last year Paul McCartney headlined Friday night.  Coachella keeps you guessing, y’all.

One interesting change from last year? As of right now, they’re doing away with single day tickets, and demanding you fork over $269 (not including fees, of course) for a three day pass.  Nice.

Who are you looking forward to at Coachella?  Leave a comment.


This Thursday, check out a free outdoor show featuring Tyrone Wells and Meiko.
I’ve featured Meiko a few times before, and been a fan of Tyrone for years.  Tomorrow, they’re teaming up for “The Sound of Summer,” a weekly concert in downtown LA’s Pershing Square and sponsored by 100.3FM.

Meiko goes on at 8pm, and Tyrone’s set starts at 9.

Dowload MP3: Tyrone Wells – More

More info: The Sound of Summer

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

I had high hopes for the past two weeks:

  • Top Ten Albums of 2009 so far (get excited)
  • July Playlist – Independence Day Spectacular (get more excited)
  • Artist Profiles (homeless African paraplegics who live in a zoo – continue to be excited)
  • TOT Info (you may be confused now, but you’ll be excited later)

Um yeah.  You got none of that.

Last weekend I went to Mexico for the bazillionth time.  And before assumptions are made, I voluntarily signed a covenant which stated that I would not drink alcohol for the entire time I was there.  Or flirt with boys.

Confused much?

Cross the Otay Mesa border in San Diego, hang a left at the tire shop, go offroading for a bit, narrowly escape death by crazy tanker trucks and machine-gun-wielding policemen several times, and you will soon enter a migrant community known as Rojo Gomez.

I’ve been going down there for four years to build houses for families there who previously lived in boxes made of garage doors, tarp, and some scrap wood.  Dirt floors on hills that frequently get hit with mud slides.  No bueno.

These familes have become family to me.  It’s interesting how much we have in common with each other.  The first kid I ever met was named Adrian, who had the most sarcastic sense of humor ever (not that I could relate to that.  Nope…).  I should probably admit my lack of knowledge of Spanish, despite the fact that it is my father’s first language and I have a hispanic last name.  But I have discovered this handy equation:

Broken Spanish + Broken or Nonexistent English + Smiles + Crazy Hand Gestures X Lots of Piggy Back Rides + Soccer Balls (Cubed) = Love

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

This is not a guilt trip.

Rather, this is a reminder to the intended geographical audience of this blog that three hours away is third world-ville.  And I have no answers as to what your part to play is or if you even have one.  But in relation to this blog, there is an amazing culture practically down the street, with some sweet ass music, some amazing food (um holy crap on crack, some amazing food.  I swear that sometimes I think I only go there for the street tacos.  But that isn’t true.)  And the importance of family (and in Mexican culture, anyone within a 100 mile radius is familia.  Which is all kinds of awesome.)

To put it mildly, my life has been dramatically changed (beyond words that can do justice) since discovering Rojo Gomez, and the neighboring town of El Nino.  And as I helped build two houses last weekend for two rad families, it has taken some time to adjust back here, and I really have not felt like writing or checking out any new music.  I’m getting back into the swing of things, so check back tonight or tomorrow.  But processing and reflecting on all that occurred on that rad weekend was more important and worthwhile.

For now, enjoy some of the music from a few hours south.

Download MP3: Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Vikingman
Download MP3: Pistolera – Nuevos Ojos
Download MP3:Grupo Fantasma – El Sabio Soy Yo

More info:
Habitat For Humanity

Baja Christian Ministries

Photo Credit - Carlton Beener

Photo Credit - Carlton Beener

I first saw Death Cab For Cutie at the Glass House in Pomona.  This was in 2001, and they were the opening band.  I can’t, for the life of me, remember who the headliner was.  “Who’s this Death Cab band?” I asked my friend.  “Oh, they’ve been around a couple years, they’re from Seattle.  I don’t know how far they’ll go.”

Pretty damn far.

Steph and I have been looking forward to this show for months: Death Cab for Cutie at the Hollywood Bowl, accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  And the two opening bands – the New Pornographers and Tegan & Sara – were nothing to scoff at, either.  So we packed our food (and wine, and red party cups because we’re classy like that), and headed to LA for a night of post-July 4th relaxation.

The New Pornographers were, sadly, a let down.  And I have a mad crush on lead singer A.C. Newman.  It could have been my (nosebleed) seats, and the fact that it was hard to connect with the band from that far.  But they were just… boring.

Tegan & Sara – indie music’s favorite lesbian twins – were incredibly engaging.  They bantered with the audience between every song.  They played favorites from their most recent album, and generally got a better reception than the previous band.

Photo Credit: Michael Didyoung

Photo Credit: Michael Didyoung

But it was apparent that everyone (except the middle aged season ticket holders who were noticeably very alarmed by the abundance of plaid, tattoos, and skinny jeans) was there for Death Cab.

The band played over 10 songs without the Philharmonic.  A lot were classics like “This Is The New Year,” Photobooth” (the song that caused me to fall in love with lead singer Ben Gibbard, back in college), and “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Halfway into the set, I turned to Steph, disappointed, and asked if the Phil was EVER going to appear.  What can I say… patience is not a virtue of mine.

After playing “Sound of Settling,” the band began to leave the stage and Gibbard announced that they would soon be back with “50 of our closest friends.”  Soon, the Phil (conducted by Beck’s dad… niiice) appeared and Gibbard, without accompaniment from the rest of his band, sang “I will follow you into the dark”.  Beautiful.  Other blogs complained of timing issues and other problems with the song, but I guess my ears are not refined enough, because that song was worth the price of admission, alone.  The song was beautifully composed.  A harp was played at the right time.  A harp!  With Death Cab!

When the band got to “Soul Meets Body”, the listless audience finally began to perk up, and sing along a bit.  This had to be one of the most boring audiences I have ever been a part of.  Attention, people in cheap seats: what you lack in money, you should make up for in energy.  I’m pretty sure I made dozens of enemies as I swayed back and forth, sang along, and bobbed my head (because that’s how white people show they like the music).In the late ‘90’s, Death Cab was grouped in with bands like The Juliana Theory, and, most notably, Dashboard Confessional.  Their musical style was known as “emo” – short for “emotional.”  Death Cab is still an emotional band… so get emotional, bleacher seats!

“Highway” was a perfect example of why only one rehearsal with the Phil could prove to be a mistake.  During the height of the horn section, Gibbard’s voice could not be heard at all.  The whole song, while gorgeous in parts, was a bit awkward.

Yes, my seats were far.  Photo Credit: Veronica Ramirez

Yes, my seats were far. Photo Credit: Veronica Ramirez

The concert closed with “Transatlanticism,” with Gibbard starting on keyboards and then easily transitioning back to the guitar.  Midway, the fireworks started, and as Steph pointed out (since I can be horribly unobservant at times), the fireworks were timed perfectly w/ the beats of the song.  Did I say “I will Follow You Into The Dark” was my favorite part of the show?  I lied.  This song was one of the best musical experiences I’ve had in a long while.

I didn’t want the show to end, but part of the reason is because I didn’t feel that Death Cab had really played their heart out yet.  I felt that they were still holding out on us, and there was more to be delivered.  The set also felt a bit rushed, with one song awkwardly bleeding into the other.  A perfect contrast would be T&S’ set, which was full of banter and engagement with the audience, and careful transitions.
Kevin Bronson put better than I could, writing “I need you so much closer” (to quote a Death Cab lyric).  Too true.

However, it was freakin’ Death Cab with the freakin LA Philharmonic, which was led by freakin’ Beck’s father.  It was a great experience and I can’t wait to see what next summer’s pairings hold.

This Sunday, my friend Bams and I will be back at the Bowl to hear the sexiest voice alive, Ray Lamontagne.  Holy yes.

If you like music and you live near LA or Orange County, June is a good month for you. Even if you don’t live around here (and I must admit, I am a bit jealous if you don’t), then fret not… check out a few bands you may not have heard of before, and see if they’re stopping in your area.

Want free mp3’s of each of these songs?  Then join the newsletter, and I’ll send you a link.  Hooray.

Laura Jansen
I was very, very, impressed with her set at Saint Rocke in April.

June 2 @ Hotel Café (LA)
June 12 @ Hotel Café (Record Release Show)

Listen to “Elijah”


Butterfly Boucher

She was part of the Ten Out of Tenn tour, and has many bloggers and indie radio stations singing her praises.  Let me know what you think.
June 1 (w/ Castledoor and others) @ Spaceland (Silverlake) [FREE SHOW]
June 3 @ Hotel Café
June 10 @ Hotel Café
June 17 @ Hotel Café

Listen to “Gun For A Tongue”

Sara Watkins (Watkins Family Hour)(pictured)
Go to this show and make me jealous.  Watkins (and her brother, Sean) are part of the bluegrass group Nickel Creek.  Say what you will about country… it’s already well known that I’m not usually a fan.  But this group is amazingly talented.  God bless the mandolin.
June 3 @ Largo at the Coronet (LA)

Listen to “Long Hot Summer Days”

The Dandy Warhols
June 5 (w/ Meek) @ The Glasshouse (Pomona)

Listen to “The Legend Of The Last Outlaw Truckers”

Parson Red Heads
I featured their song “Got It All” on my April Playlist.  Expect to hear a lot more of this band in the future.  They’re not going anywhere.

June 4 (with Cotton Jones and Linda Draper) @ Spaceland (Silverlake)
June 23 (w/ the Boat People) @ On The Rox (Hollywood)

Listen To “Out To Sea”

Camera Obscura
June 9 @ the Glasshouse (Pomona)
June 11 with Agent Ribbons @ the Henry Fonda (Hollywood)

Listen to “Lets Get Out Of This Country”

Au Revoir Simone
(pictured)
June 10 @ the El Rey (LA)

Listen to “Knight of Wands”

Nikka Costa

June 12 (w/ JD Webb) @ the Troubadour (West Hollywood)

Listen to “Stuck To You”


White Rabbits

June 18 @ the Troubadour (West Hollywood)

Listen to “Navy Wives”

Grizzly Bear

I forsee their newest album being on my top 10 list for 2009.  They only have one stop in Socal, so get your tickets.  Now.  And one for me, while you’re at it.

June 19 @ the Wiltern (LA)

Listen to “Cheerleader”


Explosions in the Sky

Everyone I know who has been to an EITS show labels it as a “spiritual experience.” “One of the best shows ever.”  I’m not exaggerating.  Everyone.

June 27 @ Hollywood Palladium (LA)

Cursive
I wasn’t a huge fan till this past album.  Now I’m a believer..

June 28 @ the El Rey (LA)
June 29 @ The Glass House (Pomona)

Listen to “Mama, I’m Swollen”


Greg Laswell
(pictured)
Digging his stuff.  The venue and ambience is perfect for his Ben Folds-styled piano rock.  Added bonus: he’s not bad to look at.
June 28 @ Saint Rocke (Hermosa Beach)

Listen to “Sweet Dream”

Katie Herzig

Um.  I like her a lot.
June 29 @ Hotel Café

Listen to “I Hurt Too”

Tallest Man On Earth
More proof that the Swedes are taking over the world, at least musically speaking.  Not necessarily a bad thing.
June 29 @ Troubadour

Listen to “Pistol Dreams”

May is here! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping… and new shows are on the calendar.  Here are a few shows to see if you have a chance.  Most are under 20 bucks, and if I had unlimited gas money and got paid to be a music blogger, I’d go to all of these.  But I’m not, so I won’t.  Unless you are buying my ticket?

Never heard of these bands with strange names?  Listen. Like.  Trust me.

Black Lips (pictured above)
5/1 @ The El Rey (Hollywood)
5/2 @ The Glass House (Pomona)
5/3 @ Detroit Bar (Costa Mesa)

Listen to “Starting Over”

Mike Doughty
5/2 @ The Coach House (San Juan Capistrano)

Listen to “I Just Want The Girl In The Blue Dress” 
Free Download – Mike Doughty – I Just Want The Girl In The Blue Dress

The Shins with Delta Spirit
5/10 @ Hollywood Palladium

Listen to Delta Spirit – Trash Can
Free Download – Delta Spirit – Trash Can

Loney, Dear (pictured… kind of.)
5/16 @ Spaceland (Silverlake)

Listen to “I Was Only Going Out”

Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s
5/18 @ The Troubadour (West Hollywood)
5/19 @ Detroit Bar

Listen to “As Tall As Cliffs”

Zee Avi
5/20  @ The Roxy (West Hollywood)

Free Download – Zee Avi – Bitter Heart
Listen to “Bitter Heart”

M83
5/20 @ the glass house

The Virgins with Lissy Truillie and Anya Marina
5/21 @ The El Rey

Free Download – Anya Marina – Vertigo
Listen to “Vertigo”

The Kills
5/21 @ The Glass House
5/22 @ Music Box @ The Fonda

Listen to “Sour Cherry”

Little Dragon (pictured)
5/22 @ Detroit bar
5/25 @ The Glass House

Passion Pit
5/28 @ The Troubadour
5/30 – @ The Glass House

Listen to “Sleepyhead”

Excited for any of these shows?  Did I leave other worthy ones off the list?  Leave a comment.

Socal residents, don’t forget that this week is Orange County Happy Hour week.

Over a dozen restaurants and bars are participating with extended hours and discounts.  Use your tax refund to indulge in some spinach artichoke dip, or drown your sorrows in your martini in order to forget about the amount you have to pay Uncle Samuel.

Where did you go for Happy Hour Week?  Leave a comment.

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Any MP3 posted here is available to stream and/or download for two weeks or less, so get it while it's hot. Hopefully I can help steer you towards music you've never heard before. If you like what you hear, please purchase the album, and support the artist at shows. The music posted here is for sampling use ONLY. If you are a band or representative of an artist who is featured on this site and would like your music removed, please contact me directlyand I'll be happy to immediately remove the song(s).