Thao & The Get Down Stay Down at Fingerprints, Kiyoshi Nakazawa art on 7″ singles on Razorcake, and a mix tape for you
I interviewed Thao Nguyen way back in Giant Robot 44, after she signed to Kill Rock Stars but before she released any albums on the fabled Olympia label. She had a cool story to tell, unabashedly citing the influence of the Lilith Fair movement to leave her family’s laundromat in Virginia, move to San Francisco, and make music to raise spirits, enlighten minds, and change the world–and maybe shake some asses in the process. Since then, she went on to form a band (The Get Down Stay Down), forge a fruitful partnership with Mirah, and tour with the Portland Cello Project. In the midst of all that, I somehow convinced her to contribute a series of articles to Giant Robot (issues 57-59 or so) and the coolness of that really hit me when I heard her on PRI this week.
So I was stoked to catch the record-release show for her newest release with The Get Down Stay Down at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach last week. We The Common seamlessly empowers her folkie roots with heavy production, at times with nearly hip-hop beats and keyboard flourishes, yet retains her natural and populist vibe perfectly. This was the first time for the group to play new songs such as “City” and “Age of Ice” and they sounded great. Even better was getting to introduce Eloise to Thao. I hope to catch up with her again when she hits the road for a proper string of shows in the spring. So should you. (more…)
I haven’t done any public speaking about Giant Robot magazine since it bit the dust in November 2010. So I was surprised and flattered when my friend Eddie Solis (from the band It’s Casual) asked me to be on his radio show which has featured the likes of Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag), Keith Morris (OFF!, Black Flag), Dimitri Coats (OFF!), pro skater and musician Mike Vallely (Elephant Skateboards, Good for You), and Rick Kosick (Big Brother magazine, Jackass).
My particular episode streamed live on Monday night, and I was indeed a good fit since the magazine that Eric and I started was definitely a product of Los Angeles, punk rock, and even skateboarding. Eddie and I talked about all of those things and how they factored into the stapled-and-folded zine that became a mini-art and culture empire. I’ve had a lot of thoughts and emotions bottled up since moving on, and it felt good to let some of it out. Hopefully that came through.
I also got to play some music: J Church, Cringer, Clive Chin, Santic, Dirty Beaches, Romanes, Guitar Wolf, Paranmaum. Eddie played some track from the upcoming Good for You LP, too, featuring Mike V and Greg Ginn. Cranking and sharing your favorite music is the best.
Driving home, I began thinking about how great it felt to talk about the work I did, especially since the magazines are basically out of circulation and its memory is fading like a fart in the wind. Yet Giant Robot’s impact and spirit are still being felt, not only through the work that Eric is still doing in the world of indie art but also through readers who have gone on to to rad things, like Eddie.
Check out the podcast HERE or on iTunes and let me know what you think.
As far as I’m concerned, there is only one band who is the greatest – they’re My Bloody Valentine. I’ve written about them before, here and there, but mostly just listened and relistened to them over and over. I even did an art piece inspired by their music that includes myself in it. I can’t help but write about them now. It’s late and I just realized that MBV just released their first album since their last album, Loveless in 1991. They released their latest album “m b v” online and on youtube so you can listen to it right away. The first song alone, She Found Now is worth the 22 year wait. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. The skies just opened up. I’m happy.
you can click on their user name to hear more.
Top 5 for January 2013: New Punk (and Lounge), Mike Atta from The Middle Class, Mix Tapes, Black Flag/Scam, Los Angeles Nista on Monday, February 4
In the old print magazine, Eric and I used to give our Top 10s about everything that we had been checking out or into during the production of each issue. The lists could be random, ranging from what was on Eric’s thoughts on business to me being a new parent, with art, music, cinema, and other things in between. This was always done at the last minute, and it turned out to be one of the magazine’s most popular sections. It allowed readers to get to know our personal interests, habits, and happenings and, in turn, get to know us pretty well–even more than the articles which were pretty transparent anyway. On the same page, we’d ask friends and contributors to provide more highly edited Top 5s within a specific theme (favorite vegetarian restaurants, must-have art supplies, best starting five basketball players, etc.).
This is kind of in-between the self-indulgent Top 10s and the tighter Top 5s, mixed with music reviews. (more…)
So much Black Flag news today. Reyes, Ginn, Dukowski, and Robo will tour Europe. Morris, Dukowski, and Stevenson with Egerton will play Europe and Vegas. Will the Continent survive? Will there be any L.A. shows? Is this proof that Chuck Dukowski is not only a ripping bassist but the nicest guy who can get along with anyone and everyone?
Expect lots of Black Flag talk and music when my friend Eddie Solis from It’s Casual hosts skater and musician Mike Vallely on the Los Angeles Nista radio show (downloadable on iTunes) on Monday, January 28 from 9-11 PST. Eddie is an SST insider and Mike V & The Rats not only played My War during the Black Flag reunion shows at the Palladium in 2003 but is in a new band with Greg Ginn called Good For You. Rad!
One more thing. I’m gonna be a guest on the show one week after that: Monday, February 4. Pretty cool to be in the company of Dukowski, Mike V, Rick Kosick, and members of OFF! Please listen, call in, and make me feel worthy…
Brad Moore taught English and then joined a band! He’s the drummer of Busker Busker which won 2nd on a show called Superstar K3. Fun music video below. This was bound to happen as it happens everywhere.
2012 was a pretty great year for shows, but of course, some are way better than others. Here are my top 10!
Psychedelic Furs play tiny Maxwell’s in Hoboken, recapturing some of the magic from the first two awesome albums (at least until they play “Heartbreak Beat”).
Bruce Springsteen! At Madison Square Garden! My first time seeing Bruce live. Everybody should go at least once and soon. He’s the hardest-working man in showbiz.
Swervedriver at Bowery Ballroom. The juggernaut returns! Frontman Adam Franklin is awesome singing in this band and solo.
Asobi Seksu at Highline Ballroom. Yeah, man! The coolest band in the world keeps smokin’!
Agnostic Front at Warsaw. Three decades along, the veterans show the whippersnappers also on the Power of the Riff bill how it’s done.
Asobi Seksu at Brooklyn Bowl. They count again because Yuki sang through a cold for this show. She is like so great!
Grimes at Hudson River Park. The show almost didn’t happen due to warnings for a thunderstorm, but Grimes could not be denied. Not my sort of music at all, but from the standpoint of delivering a live show — she killed it!
Ringo Deathstarr at Cake Shop. My favorite new band will go on to rule the fucking universe!
Public Image Limited at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. John Lydon has a never-ending supply of bile.
Corrosion of Conformity at St. Vitus. The Animosity-era lineup is having the time of their lives playing shows, judging by the smiles and jokes. “How’s the weather?” asked singer/bassist Mike Dean. This was about a week after Hurricane Sandy. “Too soon!” yelled back an unflappable audience member. New York. You gotta love it.
It’s edited down a bit, but you’ll get the idea of what transpired at Giant Robot 2 on Saturday for Jawbreaker Day.
Show reviews: It’s Casual, Bongoloidz, and Sandy Yang at Alex’s Bar; Limp Wrist, DNF, Fraude, and ACxDC at The Echoplex
The only other time I put together a show was a San Diego Comic-Con party with Flattbush, Upsilon Acrux, and The Binges with DJ sets by Free The Robots way back in 2009. Looking back, that was a pretty rad lineup! So it makes sense that Bradley from Flattbush would facilitate my second-ever gig. He serves drunks at Alex’s Bar but also books shows now and then. This one came together at the last minute and I am very grateful to my friends who put themselves out there during the deadest part of the holidays to take part. (more…)
When: January 5th Saturday 2-4pm
Where: Giant Robot 2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 310-445-9276 www.gr2.net
You got it. January 5th, Saturday 2-4pm. Meet Adam Pfahler, drummer of Jawbreaker. He’ll do a little bit of story time with slides. You can ask him questions, and then he’ll sign some of his albums. We’ll have his new re-releases and T shirts!
I’ve been seeing Fredo Ortiz play amazing arena shows (Beastie Boys at the Velodrome) and special, smaller jams (w/ Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, and Money Mark at HUF) but finally met him at Giant Robot Biennale 3 (above). We’ve kept in touch and bumped into each other here and there, and I was stoked when he jumped at playing Alex’s Bar on December 27. Here’s some scoop on his solo material, his successful Kickstarter campaign, and the gig. (more…)
After my pal Bradley (Flattbush) asked me if I’d be interested in setting up a show at Alex’s Bar, it’s fitting that It’s Casual would headline. I first saw the band earlier this year when they played with DYS and Negative Approach. Man, they were great and I became not only a fan but a friend of singer/guitarist Eddie Solis. How could I not like a guy who channels the work ethic of SST and modern heaviness of Southern Lord (he’s worked for both labels) and sings exclusively about our hometown of Los Angeles both critically and caringly while never forgetting to deliver genuine punk power and head-banging metal riffs.
That the duo would agree to play a small show with little promotion or planning for a buddy says a lot about It’s Casual being cool dudes but also how much they live to rip it up and share their brutal yet positive message. Hope to see you in front on Thursday, December 27. (more…)
Holy crap, I put together a show with It’s Casual, Bongoloidz, and Sandy Yang at Alex’s Bar — THIS THURSDAY!
I’ve had a chance to do some pretty rad things in 2012. In addition to getting to share awesome stuff that my friends do via this Giant Robot blog, I was able to have my filmmaker friends show their skate shorts in Chicago, Honolulu, and Hawaii. That was really cool. Now my friend Brad (from Flattbush) has asked me to help to put together a show at Alex’s Bar. And why not get some of my friends’ awesome bands to play one of my favorite venues?
It’s coming together at the last minute but it’s also a very cool lineup, and I hope that a lot you will make it. Here’s what the lineup looks like:
IT’S CASUAL – The SST-informed metal duo has been on a huge roll in 2012, first releasing the ripping split 7″ with Early Man and then a bitchin’ new LP, The New Los Angeles II. They recently packed The Troubadour, so I am really honored that Eddie would take his ear-crushing act back to the dive bar where I first saw him opening for Negative Approach. You’ve seen Rick Kosick’s amazing video for “The Red Line,” right?
BONGOLOIDZ – I’ve seen Fredo Ortiz play in a variety of combos with the likes of Money Mark, Tommy Guerrero, and Ray Barbee at places likethe HUF warehouse and the Giant Robot Biennale 3. I’ve also seen him at the Beastie Boys, Los Lobos, and The Bronx shows, and he’s probably played in a bunch of other bands that you love. I’m stoked to hear him play his own songs, perhaps giving a preview of the album successfully funded by a recent Kickstarter campaign that I backed.
SANDY YANG – Hardcore Giant Robot readers will know that Sandy Yang and I go way back, and that she has actually appeared in the pages of Giant Robot magazine 10 and 12. But she has also contributed to a number of arty and noisy groups, the biggest being The Red Krayola. Although she has written solo material all along, she has just begun to start playing it out and getting a recording together. Her show at The Smell was great, and I’m stoked that the guys in HowardAmb will be backing her up once more.
See you in front!
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine informed me that he was booking shows at Alex’s Bar and asked if I wanted to help set up a night. I said, sure, and now it’s actually to happen on Thursday, December 27. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that I’m filling one of my favorite venues with friends.
I’m really excited that my friend Sandy Yang will be on the bill. She’s played with the famously conceptual band, The Red Krayola, and various noise combos. But only recently has she been playing as a solo artist. I caught her deconstructed take on rock as a solo artist not too long ago at The Smell, accompanied by the guys in HowardAmb.
Here’s your chance to get to know Sandy a little better before she hits a slightly bigger stage next week.
MW: I’ve seen you play with a few combos, but have only recently seen you play a solo set. Have you always been writing and playing more individual work?
SY: I have always been writing, but before now I only played one solo show in L.A. and that was in the ’90s! Before meeting Mayo Thompson, I was multi-tracking on my 4-track cassette recorder. I approached him to do an independent study at Art Center and that’s how we met and that’s how I got to play in The Red Krayola. The only thing I’ve released solo is a 5-song instrumental EP put out by Sun An on his label CD-Rt.
MW: I know you grew up with O.C. punk, but your solo work seems more East Coast to me, with noise and No Wave elements. Where did these come from? And if I’m totally wrong, let me know where I left the tracks.
SY: Hmm… I’m not sure. The shows I saw in my youth were post punk and well into the hardcore scene by then, I guess. As for growing up with punk in a historical sense I think that was before my time. But if we’re talking about it in terms of a “punk” sound, I don’t think I embraced O.C. punk or was influenced by it except by certain friends in local bands as individuals. I do remember growing up listening to Black Flag, Descendents, Minutemen, Laughing Hyenas, Bad Brains, Government Issue, Public Enemy…
MW: What’s your musical relationship with the HowardAmb guys? How much of their accompaniment is written out or just jams?
SY: James Hamblin and Stefan Scott Nelson are the two members in HowardAmb and I’m lucky they are willing to accompany me. What they usually do is very complicated–and highly recommended, by the way–so it’s fun to play something straightforward with them. We played together recently when I opened for their show at The Smell. They’ve been a great help to me adapting my recorded songs into a live set. Much of what’s on the recordings has been omitted to the bare bones of the songs. There hasn’t been much improvising. The bass is played straightforward and exactly as I recorded them and the drums are very close to the recordings as well. Last year, Tom Watson and I played a few shows together with this similar set of songs but we were two guitars.
MW: How close are you to releasing a new collection of songs?
SY: I have 13 songs I’ve finished recording and mixing. I’d like to release it soon so I can move onto new songs. The next collection I hope will not sound anything like this group, but who knows.
MW: Finally, do you remember being in Giant Robot magazine?
SY: Of course I do! Do you mean the fruit carving article or when we did the Chinatown article? That was before any of the galleries moved in, and those were early issues. What an interesting time in L.A. that was.