Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

1muffs2Last week, I went to see an in-store/record-release show by The Muffs at Amoeba. They played most of the great new LP and were as aweseome as ever–combining ultra-catchy girl group melodies with no-holds-barred punk rock attitude and out-of-this-world musicianship. So it was an honor to see one of my pictures printed full-bleed on the insert. Kim and Ronnie had asked me for the file but I wasn’t sure how it would be used or if it wound up on the cutting-room floor. My photography is far from great but the photo looks pretty damn good printed 12″ by 12″ and there is some poetry in the situation.

You might recall that Giant Robot mag was spawned in the era of punk rock zines. Before starting it, Eric Nakamura and I had both contributed to publications like Fear of Grown-Ups, Flipside, and Fiz, and he actually has had photos printed on Muffs 7″ singles. (So did early GR contributor Vicki Berndt.) The print version of GR has run its course but I still go to shows and take and share photos, so it’s very cool that one of them would be used by one of my favorite bands and I would join the esteemed ranks of Eric and Vicki. Thanks, Muffs!

2muffs1I went to some other shows, too… I think it was Pabst that sponsored a night of heavy music at The Echoplex. Deep Six band To The Point opened, featuring members of Fetus Eaters and Spazz. I only caught a few songs but their powerful brand of hardcore was straight-up, filler-free, and a perfect way to fire up the evening.


Next up was one of my favorite bands and the new-school kings of skate rock, The Shrine. Does anyone rip harder or have more fun onstage than the trio from Venice? And are there nicer dudes anywhere? So what could be better than having the homies practically in my backyard at a six-dollar show. No, they didn’t play “Symptom of the Universe” (Sabbath, of course). Yes, they sang, “The Duke” (by friend and supporter Chuck Dukowski). Friends on the East Coast and in Japan, don’t miss them when they head your way.


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I was pretty bummed when I found out that both Boris shows at The Echoplex were sold out. Also pissed at myself for not immediately buying tickets. After all, how often does one of my favorite bands make it all the way here from Japan–the group that I actually sold merch for when they toured with our mutual friends Damon & Naomi back in 2008. Then out of the kindness of her heart, the very same Naomi hit up Atsuo from Boris on my behalf and he put me on the guest list. What? And thanks!

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OFF!'s free midnight show at the Echoplex

As it was for a lot of you out there, this wasn’t the easiest year for me and my family. Following Giant Robot’s print magazine going on hiatus at the tail end of 2010, I was unemployed with no job leads or responses to my queries for the first six months. Then, after I got an awesome job out of nowhere, the company my wife worked for was purchased by a competitor and shut down. Fortunately, we’ve managed to get by through frugal habits, a rock-solid support system of family and friends, and the PMA. And yes, there have been highlights. Here are ten of them–some of which has been written about in the blog, others merely alluded to, and a couple of odds and ends–in no particular order.

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Boris in J Pop style! I’ve always thought of them as being on the edge of dangerous, from mellow to thick. They were like a modern day Black Sabbath, but this album, New Album is a strange pop hybrid that’s less rock, more J Pop. What happened? Without insulting the trio, the first thing I thought of was Attack Attack, which isn’t good. Yet the album finds some marks here and there and gets shoegaze with “Spoon”. I am hearing anime soundtrack music and undefinable take on contemporary top 40. Click on the link to hear it. (Spin – Boris)
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Almost impossibly, Boris has been stretching out its style, cranking out albums nonstop, and playing super rad shows without disappointing its hardcore fans since it was formed in 1996. The Japanese band has mastered its unique takes on doom metal, ambient noise, psychedelic rock, and most recently, pop, while releasing limited-edition albums, splits, and singles that make record collector nerds sweat. Sharks were expected to be jumped when Boris released two albums at once (Heavy Rocks is heavy, Attention Please has J-pop influences) on a big U.S. label earlier this year but guess what? Both LPs ruled, and I couldn’t wait to hear how the pop mutations would sound live.

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