Tag Archives: Music

Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe Hits Bull’s Eye

Shut up and take my money, Devonté Hynes a.k.a. Blood Orange does it again!

"Cupid Deluxe"

Cupid Deluxe follows the dance moves of Hynes’ debut album Coastal Grooves which received a lot of attention from low brow audiophiles and press alike. As a whole the albums is tinged with a myriad of artistic collaborations.  It is less linear and more of an abstract painting–like something that Basquiat would put together in a warehouse.

Hynes’ Chamakay creates soft tribal rhythms that sound like tropical rain fall. Haunting yet creamy vocal duets stream across the album’s love-themed sky like comet tails. And if you listen closely you can hear sensual sax lines and echoing hooks.

Beats and synth-grooves (by means of a vintage TR-505 drum machine)  drape most of the album like a downtempo homage to 80’s acid house. Retro slow jams like “You’re Not Good Enough” help paint this picture as the outro exposes you to a jazzy New York background (and the girls in polkadot dresses go doo do doo do doo do do doo…).

Guitar riffs and slap-bass lines keep things pulsing (listen to “Uncle ACE” and you too will get funky). To keep it fresh Clams Casino adds rap production while Despot and Skepta lay down some rhymes. By the time you get to”High Street” you know you’re listening to something dope.

Often times you can hear influences such as those of a young Michael Jackson or Bruno Mars, instilled with the seductive qualities of Marvin Gaye and a vogue Usher. The production style might also remind you of Quincy Jones but the album really does stand on its own. What’s more encouraging is the fact that Hynes concocted the bulk of these tunes on his own then veiled them with angelic voices of singers such as Samantha Urbani and Caroline Polachek.

With songs of this artistic quality and far reaching creativity who needs pop divas?

What a Fool Believes: A-Track and Danny Brown Rock the Parking Lot

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Danny Brown and A-Track kick it to the curb, literally. 

Fool’s Gold Day Off at the east side parking lot of The Shrine Auditorium was bumpin’ and fist pumpin’ this past weekend. By nightfall,  the parking lot was almost filled to the curb with crunkers, hipsters, ravers, punks, (bubble in all other relevant subcultures here).

Remember your public school yard? Yeah, exactly like that (including the occasional skirmishes over some off-the-cuff remark. Ah, the good old days).

Though unlike public school, there was food that was easily identifiable and comestible. Long lines led the way to two catering trucks parked and dishing out the pizza, tacos, and burgers to the masses with the munchies (an essential for any electro-hip-hop event).

The opening acts served expletive entrées as partygoers leaned like cholos, did the running man, and all of the above to the blend of rappers’ old school and new school styles.

Iamsu and Jay Ant were catalysts for those party time beats, kickback-style. They came down from the Bay Area’s independent hip hop scene with some fresh sounds. Iamsu’s tone is non-chalant but his rhymes are raw–you know– girls, making it big, and money. Jay Ant’s style is a slightly more down to Earth. They had a good yin-and-yang effect which made their set interesting to a certain degree (the sun was still up and people were barely settling in). It was like combining water and fire (what do they make? Steam and vapor. And what comes out of that? A ninja. That’s right, a ninja). The transitions between acts went smoothly as their in-house DJ kept everyone grooving.

The great thing about the music industry today is that it’s relatively easier to make a name for yourself. That’s one of the perks of the internet age, and in a way an asset to major record labels. Freddie Gibbs used that to his advantage and much to his credit he’s the perfect example of how you can create a following and help your music career via the web. The New Yorker writer Sasha Frere-Jones would “put money on [him] right now”. His flow is real, it cuts to the chase, and you can tell he raps from personal experiences. People were nodding their heads and digging the vibes with their hands in the air. His set was a good segue into DJ Quik.

The man that pioneered West Coast rap with the likes of Easy E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre. DJ Quik  talked about the hood and gangs without really over-glamorizing them. That’s why he stood out so well and once you heard him sample old school tunes you were hooked. That night he was on target with the beats, legato rhymes, and what he was always about–party jams (like this). He kept it real and definitely got the party going for A-Track.

With a catchy electro facemelter like “Tuna Melt” and rhythmically fiendish remix like that of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll”, A-Track easily cranked Fool’s Gold Day Off up to 11. You couldn’t count the number of Harlem Shakes on one hand. At some point you could see a three story shoulder ride (that’s one person carrying another person carrying another person on their shoulders. Whoa! Elevator, going up!). It was a solid set but the overall line-up of the event seemed a bit off-handed. Their in-house DJ and A-Track conducted beats on the dance floor before Danny Brown’s appearance (contrary to the schedule). The tension and high BPM’s of electro are going to overshadow rappers and MC’s (think crescendo not diminuendo).  By the time Danny Brown went on stage people had already lost a few lbs. from dancing. An injustice to his underground hardcore style which is meant to be savored like a chilled 40 in a paper bag.

When you hear Danny Brown you can’t help but think of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (O.D.B.). Their styles are so similar you would think that they were long lost relatives. When you hear him you see hood life scattered in all the confrontation and vulgarities–pretty dank, as they’d say. No one could ever really replace O.D.B. but it is fun to see how his style has managed to reincarnate itself into underground hip hop today.

Credits: thearroyosecojournal.com, @FoolsGoldRecs, @Atrack, @XDannyXBrownX

 

Another Self Portrait Begets Review

Another Self Portrait

Rating:

“Shut up take my money!” or “Keep talking no money for you!”?

It’s never a bad idea to remain acquainted with your paperbacks (they might be worth something someday… or not). This is a compilation of rare and previously released tracks which are mostly suited for Dylan devotees (most music nazis would concur). Even then, the collection is missing something. Having said that, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth listening to over and over. Newbs, consider earlier material such as The Bootleg Series Volume 6: Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall.

Review:

Can the ubiquitous sounds and words from a famed maverick’s heyday still make a buzz (or give you one)? Bob Dylan always found a way to reinvent himself. He wasn’t as eccentric as David Bowie, but he withstood the sands of time by doing his own thing. Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10  offers (yes, another) peek into the audio vaults (imagine you just won the golden ticket and you’re going to Willie Wonka’s  studio archives. Yeah, The Umpa-Lumpa’s really wanted to get their dumpadi-do’s down). The four CD deluxe edition, there’s a three CD version, has alternate takes and unreleased tracks from Self Portrait, New Morning, Nashville Skyline, as well as a remixed and remastered cut of the Isle of Wight performance with The Band. The Deluxe Edition’s fourth disk contains additional unreleased material (can you say “audio candy”?). At the time of these recordings his fans still thought there was nothing sweet about his genre jumping escapades but artistic complacency didn’t seem to exist in his lexicon.

Dylan upset many of his loyal fans (that’s a bit of an understatement, a fan calls him Judas in the 1966 Volume 4 Bootlegs) that knew him as the vaudevillian singer of ballads and topical folk songs distinguishable by a jazzy Appalachian Mountain voice. He trapezed from folk, to rock and roll, country, has worked with ragtime and barrel-house pianists, cajun, zydeco, jam bands, (he paints a better, ahem… self portrait in his memoirs Chronicles Volume One) and the list goes on as he still tours and collaborates with different emerging artists (he just finished a tour with Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson).

Even though hid didn’t venture out further than electro-acoustical Americana (the closest were covers. Much like Johnny Cash covered Depeche Mode, somewhere in the bootleg ether resides Dylan’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”) his music remains relevant. That’s because after jousting and surviving a flaring digital music industry his work still belongs to the institution of troubadours (strap that chain male on pilgrim) and songwriters such as Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, and even Cole Porter (minus the whole broadway musical pizzazz and jazz hands).

The compilation starts with “Went to See the Gypsy” whose sound quality and lead guitar aren’t the most dynamic but it has the humility that most independent artists are all too familiar with (fit to play at a latter-day bootleggers ball). Immediately thereafter you hit the unreleased and alternate Self Portrait material where you hear the vocally melodic twang that defined his country sound. His guitar and harmonica are there by his side like the trusty companions they’ve always been (think Sancho Panza and Rocinante).

Once you hear the alternate version of “I Threw it All Away” from Nashville Skyline you begin to realize what distinguished him from The Beatles. His self-reflective confessional songs put you in his shoes. Next thing you know you’re on a boat floating around the song’s scenery. You see someone smoking a cigarette, furry yellow couches with plastic covers, a warm colored living room rug, and wood panels lining every wall. Your cognizance begins to blur.

Eventually, your boat lands on the Isle of Wight recordings where Robbie Robertson’s tele-twang and the rest of The Band take you on a bustling caravan of live material (to that home on the range, where the blue notes and the dominant 7ths play). You can hear them rip up some rustic rock ‘n roll in “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Highway 61 Revisited”. As the wind begins to sway you hear the folkiness of “To Ramona” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” sung with a country falcetto which leads into standards like “Lay Lady Lay”. Autumnal gusts pick up as organ tones vibrate and tremble. The guitar slides,  leaves’ colors change, pumpkins cluster, strings are arpeggiated and played in finger-style, remorseful lyrics are suspended, and “I Threw it All Away” resurfaces but this time as a live track from the Isle of Wight.

Tracks like that and “In Search of Little Sadie” really pushed the boundaries of Dylan’s library (just when you thought the library closed. Yep, there’s a drop-off slot. Phew!). The latter resounds with gritty staples such as “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Lost Highway” on a whole other level (think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Come on. Stick ‘em up and give us the loot!).

If that weren’t enough you eventually hit the bonus disk (Deluxe Edition holders, nod your heads in agreement. Yes, that’s right) where you hear the sweet country soul of “Let it be me” that can’t help but remind you of Ray Charles and his homespun expansions. Doo-wop vocalists in “Blue Moon” take you lakeside where moonlight wallows, frogs ribbit, and grasshoppers fiddle their legs. Out of some recess in the recording archives, our bootlegging friends managed to get ahold of an incomparable duet with Paul Simon in “The Boxer”. Next thing you know you’re close to the end when you hear Mexicali brass in “Wigwam” which sounds like something out of an early Beirut album.

From base to treble clef, it’s the same Bob Dylan you remember except his history hasn’t proceeded him. This bootleg volume will keep you tied down until he releases new material (or you get hungry and go out for some fries).

Gnarliness Reigns at the Echo and Echoplex

Classically trained Yale grad is the brains behind San Fermin’s breakout operation (yeah, see. you’ll never catch ‘em now coppers, see. yeah…)

A gnarly set of indie and garage rock waves will plunge into The Echoplex Tuesday October 15th, 2013 as the Jacuzzi Boys open with a tubular set downstairs (hangloose breh!). If it weren’t enough, that same night San Fermin will close upstairs at the The Echo with the chamber and orchestral indie-rock sound that they’ve become well known for. Here, listen to the NPR sound bites .

Florida Natives the Jacuzzi boys have come off of their self-titled third album release. With tunes like “Domino Moon” their set is sure to make a splash.

For more info on The Echo and Echoplex location and times check out their calendar here.

Santa Ana Artwalk. Even the Canvases Want to Stroll.

Every first Saturday of the month the Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk and Arts District are the hearsay of Orange County luminescence. Saturday October 5th, 2013 was no different (if you missed it don’t worry, you can walk off all those holiday fixin’s later).

As your tamales… ahem, feet hit the pavement you see the pastiche of musicians, painters, street performers, muralists, break dancers, cops on horses, lofts, galleries, restaurants, and clubs all come together like mixed paint on a palette.

You can see all the Memphis and Gypsy Den devotees bustling and mingling through the candle lit panes (try Memphis’s face melting pancakes, or Gypsy Den’s legendary Waldorf chicken sandwich and seasoned fries. For the love of all things holy don’t forget the seasoned fries!).

You walk right between both of their outside patio areas just in time to catch a group of street performers.

Street musicians perform by the water fountain in the promenade.
Street musicians perform gypsy bluegrass rock and roll by the water fountain at the promenade.

As they finish their set you stop to think about which gallery to absorb first. There’s Grand Central Gallery, the Santora Building galleries, or the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA).

The Santora Building houses some of the independent galleries that have been around to see the local art scene come to fruition.

Matt Leroy's Studio Del Sotano houses some of the more grassroots portraits of Santa Ana's history
Matt’s Studio Del Sotano displays  some of the more intimate and grassroots portraits of Santa Ana’s locals and history.
Thomas Tom's spacious impressions at the Avantgarden channel Mark Rothko and Stephen Hawking.
Thomas Tom’s spacious impressions at the Avantgarden channel Mark Rothko à la Stephen Hawking.

You zig zag from space to space until you decide to head towards Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Gallery. After going through the double doors you notice a perspective piece based on El Salvador’s Civil War, but it escapes the highly politicized topic of immigration and plays more with the innate curiosity and romanticization of a foreign land. The installation is a cubic room that you can walk into (no, there aren’t any pupusas in there) and a punctured image of the Los Angeles Observatory on the outside.

Beatriz Cortz's The Time Machine  (no egg shells and banana peels power this baby)
Beatriz Cortz’s The Time Machine (no egg shells and banana peels required)

As you wander back into the promenade you make your way to OCCCA to see their exhibitions, try their assortment of complementary niblets, and wine. If Soho or Tits Tacos is not outside then some other truck of mobile delicacies  is out there tantalizing your taste buds and nasal chambers.  

You walk eastward on  3rd where you spot the glowing marquee signaling The Yost Theatre (land ho!). On you way there you see a few nifty clothes racks in the alley of some thrift store where a band is setting up to play. You march towards the enclave of street art next door to the Yost that is the Box Social.

A rugged and raw warehouse collective of art, photography, graffiti, and music (give or take a few mediums) unfolds before your very pupils.

Urban tinges juxtaposed with a mural of Egyptian-like beauty. Part of Box Social's exhibit.
Urban tinges juxtaposed with a mural of Egyptian-like beauty. Part of Box Social’s exhibit.
Multimedia installation by Jack Marko
Multimedia installation by Jack Marko
Basquiat influences on the wall
Basquiat influences on the wall
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Neenr ( right? )

There’s plenty of to see and dive into (no suit required). You notice how the different pieces coalesce with one another–they speak the same parler. People are taking pictures of graffiti in an open room where metal bars the windows. Artists are interviewed for a documentary across the room as people come in and out.

It was all very jovial, eventful, and so cool it was ice cold.

Icky? Not Hardly

Flashing lights? Indie pulses? and Wayfarer-wearing musical notes?? Yep, all these veiled the Echo, Friday September 27th, 2013, as .blow and Oh Boy Les Mecs opened for Icky Blossoms.

.blow are comprised of music industry musicians that have worked in areas such as production, recording, and writing. The four, vocalist Sohanny, beat conductor Prozak Morris, guitarist Mike Dez, and drummer D$, have signed with Interscope Records (one third of Santa Monica’s Universal Music Group) which manages Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Maroon 5, and Eminem. All of these big timers are seasoned performers but have already proven themselves whereas .blow (their ‘younger siblings’ if you will) are out to make a name for themselves, and they sure can make an impression.

The Ickys were anything but
The Ickys were anything but

Morris’s table, composed of computer and electronic equipment, is there looking  like Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory desk. His plasma tube gives the impression that some musical experiment is about to take place (à la Danny Elfman’s “Weird Science”) as electricity stretches and branches throughout the glass encasement. Alas, there are no trumpet rips but the rhythm fiends nonetheless get the pot lid jumping. It’s easy to spot their 80’s influences (sorry no flock of seagulls hair-do’s). Think Talking Heads, The Cars, and Missing Persons.

Covering “No body walks in LA” to a tee, Sohanny sputters lyrics with her Rihanna-ish beauty and Keith Richards swagger. Morris and Dez bump and jive amping up the crowed (a definite wild rumpus if you’ve ever seen one). Out of nowhere Morris whoops out some electro-musical contraption (it’s alive, it’s dead, no it’s a beattar!! Or something you’d find in the music room at Hogwarts). A beat machine attached to a guitar neck for rockin’ stances and epic whirlwind strums (double takes allowed). They keep playing with this energy for a few more songs but fatigue begins to set in (much like any other mere mortals). You definitely get a rush from .blow’s performance but Oh Boy Les Mecs are there to catch the sway. They’re less rock ‘em sock ‘em and more stroll through the forest amidst twilight.

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.blow conditioned the room.

The singer’s echoes brood sentiments similar to what you get whilst listening to Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”. Her voice at times sounds like Bjork–minus the impeccable vocal range. Their mood is haunted by Beach House and at the same time the vocalist’s style kind of reminds you of Zooey Deschanel from She and Him–wearing a white prairie dress. Their dreamscape backdrop works in general but it is tough to follow an act like .blow. Especially since their styles are so different. In light of this, they do well opening for the headliners from Nebraska.

Icky Blossom’s most recent self-titled album is the musical accolade that Bright Eyes and Beirut tried to accomplish with dance and electro in their later albums. It kicks out dismal dance jams that most indie bands are not able to do so easily, but they made it happen.

Lurid lights drop onto the murky stage. Sarah Boling’s baritone pipes and livid bangs infiltrate the crowd as she sings their ode to sacrilege “Sex to the Devil”. You look around to see people hypnotized by the backing synth-drum overlays and recursive electro bleeps of Derek Presnall and Nik Fackler. Everyone is rocking and swaying nonchalantly as they transition into “Babes”

In it you can hear the wonton strobiness of Peaches. Think of the scene from Lost in Translation where Scarlett Johansson is set to meet Bill Murray and friends at a Japanese strip club only to leave and later get shot at with an automatic bb gun flashing a green laser sight.

Their steady uptempo slightly reminds you of Neon Indian or Grimes (minus the falsetto feedback) but not quite. They blossom nicely with an added ick. Why DJ’s like DFA haven’t started remixing these boss gothic dance tunes is beyond me.

—Bosque Urbano

——-

About the author: Bosque Urbano is a creature of the night, flitting from club to club, scene to scene. His astute perceptions, musical and otherwise, stem from his vast store of human knowledge. It is rumored that he is so intelligent that he actually keeps a computer in his own home. His blog lives at christianaraya.com

Weekend Closes Out Echo’s Weekend. Or Begins the Next.

Head shakes, nods, and body jerks surfed The Echo on Sunday September 15th, 2013 as Cold Showers, Disappears, and Weekend played the heck out of everyone’s eardrums before the start of the week.

Weekend closes out the weekend at the Echo
Weekend closes out the weekend at the Echo

If there is anywhere to catch a legit indie show in the L.A. area it’s at The Echo in Echo Park. The city is more than just neighbor to the hipster capital of the world–Silver Lake (great hunting grounds by the way). It’s a broth of rich history as intellectuals and artists–Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck among them–were known to have resided there in the early 20th century.

It’s lake is home to the Lotus Festival, birthday parties, paddle boats, ducks, and frogs (oh my!). If you’re in the mood for a hoedown, The Grand Ole Echo opens its saloon doors for a fine hoot and holler. There is barbecue and sweet twang every Sunday from 5-9 p.m. for free.

That night’s country line-up included Taryn Stickwrath, Casey Neill & the Norway Rats, Chris Laterzo & Buffalo Robe, and the jammerific Gimme 5’s. Somewhere Hank Williams gave those guys a serious thumbs up. Their jam band super powers and Hammond B2 wunderkind can take you on a midsummer night stroll through New Orleans’ French Quarter whilst jasmine is in full bloom.

Not bad for a free show. The only minor drawback is that there’s an hour between The Grand Ole Echo and the main show line-ups. Fortunately, there are some places that are leap-frogging distance away.

Like f’r instance:

Origami Vinyl — The folks there are really nice. Their prowess, collection, and knowledge of music are genuinely diverse. It’s very easy for any audiophile to spend hours sifting through their soul, punk, locals, country, indie, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Rummage carefully though. Lest ye be experienced, you might end up with six-packs on your fingers and miss the show!

Two Boots Pizza — Very original and tasty slices. Also, they’re open until 2:30 p.m. Try “The Dude” slice, and you too will abide.

The Gold Room — Want to watch some sports, milk a drink, drink a milk, crack open some peanuts, and savor some tacos (yeah, all in that order!)? Try this happy-go-hipsterish bar. Ask for the Gold Room special, you’ll thank (or curse) me later.

Stories Books and Café — It’s is a hop-skip-and-gothic-twostep away, next to the Jensen building and across from Rodeo Grill. Check them out if you need to procure java or embalm some Edgar Allen Poe couplets in your poetic psyche. Try their iced mojito coffee (gyration alert level orange) and or raspberry lemon tart. Also, they have wifi (pronounced weefee).

Once you make your way back to The Echo you’ll notice the crowd for Part-time Punks is very chill. Most aren’t there to shake it like a Polaroid picture as much as they’re there to hang out, unwind, and get some noise. As things started up you could see people starting to make their way to the stage.

Cold Showers’ guitarist blasted some aura-oric arpeggios and chaotic strums into the crowd. Their vocalist channeled Ian Curtis’s doleful legattos. These young lads brung on the noise and put on a magnetic set. Definitely worth you catching ‘em. Don’t forget your earplugs!

Intermissions at The Echo are great because they have an outside area around the back where you can sit and get some air, you can hear when the next band is starting up, or notice how everyone is scurrying to get their spot.

Disappears had less noise but a much more polished sound. Think The Rolling Stones meets Krautrock meets crisp minimalism. Prevalent were the sharp sonic riffs that their recordings at legendary Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago spawned. Their act didn’t require that much audience participation or energy which was perfect because it was conserved for our headliners.

Weekend opened with “Mirror” from their second album Jinx which received good reviews from both Rolling Stone magazine and The New York Times. Frontman Shaun Durkan’s reverb and echoing words, “ I feel sick sick sick” resonated with the abrasive urgency of My Bloody Valentine. The song galvanized nostalgia with bittersweet euphoria like driving through downtown Los Angeles amidst skyscrapers as every moment stretches into a wormhole of long exposed lights.

When they played “July” you could hear the post-punk growl and rhythmically visceral similarity with their San Franciscan cohorts Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The feedback and acidious flange from guitarist Kevin Johnson suspended their brooding mood while the off-and-on fuzz from their bassist kept everyone’s head nods honed in. Abe Pedroza’s drums set a sinister beat for all of their more atomic tracks without ever breaking a sweat. Their overall cohesion shot right through the lo-fi plane of shoegaze and rained down like a meteor shower. Captivating, indeed.

—Bosque Urbano