Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Release Tuesday 4/30/13

April 30, 2013


!!! – Thr!!!er (Warp)
The Brooklyn (via Sacramento) transplants celebrate 17 years together with the release of their fifth album. The six-piece enlisted Spoon's Jim Eno to record the majority of Thr!!!er, invigorating the process with the use of unique and unexpected sounds within the songs. However, just as all of !!!'s previous songs have succeeded in getting you to dance, so do each of this album's nine tracks. Don't miss one of the band's unparalleled live shows when they stop by the El Rey on June 1.

Big Black Delta – Self-titled (Masters of Bates)
The highly anticipated debut from Jonathan Bates under his current moniker of Big Black Delta. The former Mellowdrone frontman and M83 collaborator expands his wings as a solo artist on the album, which is full of sweeping, melodic tracks that push the boundaries of electronic rock. Songs such as "Side of the Road," "IFUCKINGLOVEYOU," "Money Rain Down" and "Betamax" are guaranteed to become your favorite dance-party jams, even if it's just a dance party of one. See the new material performed live June 4 at the Echo.

HandsSynesthesia (Kill Rock Stars)
TIME named Hands one of the 11 Great Bands You Don't Know (But Should) last year, and the L.A. quartet just completed an April Monday-night residency at the Echo, continuing to woo Angelenos onto the dance floor with songs from their debut full-length. Tracks from Synesthesia, such as "Videolove," "The Game Is Changing Us" and "Kinetic," grab you with their multiple textures of smooth synths, precise drums, thumbing bass, simmering guitar riffs and soaring vocals.

PushmenThe Sun Will Rise Soon on the False and the Fair (The End)
The debut release from the Austin trio explodes with energy from the first second of lead track "Child From Chaos." It seems that the band was born screaming, with a pedigree of former bands that include the Swod, Ratking, Sea of 1000, Bad Powers, Made Out of Babies and Heartless Bastards. This is the perfect album to put on and unleash all of your pent-up frustrations as you belt out lyrics in your loudest metal growl.

ValleysAre You Going to Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? (Kanine)
The Montreal duo of Matilda Perks and Marc St. Louis spent a year writing material for their debut album, and the work has paid off with 10 distinctive tracks that meld the quiet with the boisterous. From the first song, "Micromoving," a hushed beginning leads to a heart-pumping chorus, setting the tone for the rest of Are You Going to Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? to thoroughly enfold you into its cinematic, mysterious world.

Also available – Adelaine's Currents; The Airborne Toxic Event's Such Hot Blood; Akron/Family's Sub Verses; Alice Russell's To Dust; Amorphis' Circle; Beacon's The Ways We Separate; Big Country's The Journey; Cayucas' Bigfoot; Daughter's If You Leave; Famous Last Words' Two-Faced Charade; Guided By Voices' English Little League; Hanni El Khatib's Head in the Dirt; HIM's Tears on Tape; House of Heroes' The Knock-Down Drag-Outs; Iggy & the Stooges' Ready to Die; Jessica Campbell's The Anchor & The Sail; Jessica Sanchez's Me, You & the Music; Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi and Keiji Haino's Now While It's Still Warm Let Us Pour in All the Mystery; Kenny Chesney's Life on a Rock; Lights' Siberia Acoustic; LL Cool J's Authentic; Melvins' Everybody Loves Sausages; Neon Neon's Praxis Makes Perfect; Os Mutantes' Fool Metal Jack; R.A. The Rugged Man's Legends Never Die; Randy Rogers Band's Trouble; Rittz's The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant; Rollin Hunt's The Phoney; Sharks' Selfhood; Ten Foot Polecats' Undertow; The Weeks' Dear Bo Jackson; Tom Keifer's The Way Life Goes


Film – David O. Russell directs an adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel, starring Bradley Cooper as a bipolar man and Jennifer Lawrence as a sex addict, a role that garnered her an Oscar, and The Silver Linings Playbook also features Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles; The Guilt Trip pairs Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand as an inventor who invites his widowed mother on a cross-country road trip.

TV – Combat!: The Complete First Season; NOVA: Earth From Space; Syndicate: Series 1; WWE: The Best of In Your House

Music – History of the Eagles

Also available – Ben Hur: The Epic Miniseries Event; Broken City; Crazy Wisdom; The Details; Little Red Wagon; Manborg; Neighboring Sounds; Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection; Night of the Scarecrow; Not Fade Away; Nurses: If Florence Could See Us Now; Only the Young; Parked; The Revisionaries; Shelter Me; Vito; Wagner & Me; The Wicked; Young and Wild

Monday, April 29, 2013

STREET SIGNS - Drunken Angel

Drunken Angel by ICY and SOT, brothers who are stencil artists from Iran, sits at the 3rd Street and Traction Avenue corner of the triangle of land known as Joel Bloom Square in the Downtown Arts District. The duo often use images of children in their works, which deal with peace, war, love, hate, hope, despair, human rights and Iranian culture. They put up this piece when they were here in March for their East Middle West Tour exhibition at the Vortex.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Events for April 25-May 1, 2013


Phylicia Rashad directs "Joe Turner's Come and
Gone" at Mark Taper Forum


"Joe Turner's Come and Gone" @ Mark Taper Forum (Downtown)
"The Cosby Show"'s Mrs. Huxtable, Phylicia Rashad – who directed last season's "A Raisin in the Sun" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre – helms August Wilson's historic drama. Set in Seth and Bertha Holly's Pittsburgh boarding house during the Great Migration in 1911, a revolving collection of characters takes shelter under their roof. In such a tentative time of change, the strangers share the commonality in their search for a new life. Running through June 9.


Bob Miller @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
Attention, all hockey buffs! The voice of the Los Angeles Kings shares 40 years of the ups and downs of L.A. hockey, as well as behind-the-scenes stories in his just-released book, Tales from the Los Angeles Kings Locker Room: A Collection of the Greatest Kings Stories Ever Told. Meet the sportscaster and have a copy of the book signed tonight at the Grove.


Madonna's Fashion Evolution Exhibit @ Macy's (Century City)
For one night only, some of Madonna's most iconic fashion ensembles are on display alongside styles from her Material Girl junior line she created with her daughter, Lola. A few of the stand-out pieces for view are her Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra corset, her "Like a Virgin" wedding dress and the Christian Lacroix Reinvention Tour costume.

Colin Firth and Emily Blunt in Arthur Newman


In Theaters This Week
Colin Firth and Emily Blunt go on a road trip in Arthur Newman; At Any Price centers around a father and son, played by Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, in crisis; A wedding turns into a family fiasco in The Big Wedding, with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried; Matthew McConaughey, Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon in Mud; Pain & Gain stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie and Dwayne Johnson as a crew of bodybuilding, wannabe kidnappers; Mira Nair directs Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson and Liev Schreiber in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Also in theaters: Grace Land; Kon-Tiki; The Numbers Station


Lydia @ The Roxy (West Hollywood)
No, there isn't anyone actually named Lydia in the Gilbert, Ariz.-based band, but the most pleasantly surprising fact you'll learn about the foursome is that, upon first listen, they will thoroughly captivate you. The 10 tracks on Devil, their latest release that was produced by Colby Wedgeworth (The Maine, Austin Gibbs, Lybecker), will quickly become the soundtrack for your every mood, and there's no doubt that their live performance should be just as enthralling. They also perform at the Constellation Room on Saturday night.

The Veils @ The Echo (Echo Park)
If you didn't already know, we're in the midst of the seventh annual BritWeek, and who better to celebrate with than the London quintet, who just released their fourth album, Time Stays, We Go, earlier this week. The Veils actually recorded the full-length here at Seedy Underbelly Studios in Laurel Canyon, and it is said to mark the beginning of a new era for the band, combining two sides of their personality: "the Pop and the Snarl," as lead singer/songwriter Finn Andrews calls them. No better time to witness both sides of the group on display at the Echo.

"Fela!"'s Adesola Osakalumi and Michelle Williams
(Carol Rosegg)

"Fela!" @ Ahmanson Theatre (Downtown)
Fela Kuti was a multi-instrumentalist, composer and pioneer of Afrobeat music, as well as a human rights and political activist. His captivating story is told in the musical presented by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and stars Adesola Osakalumi and Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams, with direction and choreography by Tony-winner Bill T. Jones. If you're a longtime Fela fan or interested to learn about the dynamic figure, this production will shake your body and your soul. Hurry and get your tickets, though, "Fela!" is only running through next Sunday, May 5.




Taste of the Eastside @ Barnsdall Art Park (East Hollywood)
Since I'm an Eastsider, the third annual food and drink festival showcases some of my own personal neighborhood haunts. From the Park and Canelé to Hugo's Tacos and Mohawk Bend (see the Sad Robot interview there), most of my favorite restaurants are offering samples of their fare. And Juice Served Here, Silver Lake Wine, Golden Road Brewing, Intelligentisia Coffee are set to quench your thirst.



Edgar Wright @ The Egyptian (Hollywood)
The English director and screenwriter appears for a full evening of festivities at the Egyptian as part of Entertainment Weekly's Capetown Film Festival. First up is a screening of his 2004 zombie apocalypse comedy and one of the only 'scary' movies I actually love, Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg. Then Wright is joined by actors Jason Schwartzman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and graphic novelist Bryan Lee O'Malley for a discussion before a screening of 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

David Tobin of Audiojack

Audiojack founder David Tobin at the Getty Center


At the Getty Center

1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles (Brentwood)

Waves crashing on the shore. A rooster ushering in the morning with its crow. Wind rushing through the trees. Wood crackling in a campfire. A single sound can have the capacity to evoke memories, conjure emotions and transport you to another place, even if it's all in your mind. It's the powerful ability of sound to stimulate the mind that lies at the foundation of Audiojack, a company founded by L.A. entrepreneur David Tobin.

He defines an Audiojack as: "a movie for your mind that's never the same twice. No video. No words. No music. Just your imagination…" Through segments of sound, an Audiojack sparks a listener's imagination and they begin to form a story to coincide with the aural scene. There are no rules for using an Audiojack, and they're perfect for filling your ears and flooding your brain with images while running on the treadmill at the gym or traveling on a long airplane ride or to just focus your thoughts before going to bed.

All you need is a computer and Internet connection. You go to the audiojack.com website and try out a sample. If you want to get the program, just send them an email for rates. Audiojacks range from five to 10 minutes in length and are available in a variety of themes, from Adventure and Sports to Historical.

"Audiojack happened one night when a buddy had given me a computer drive for a project I was working on, and he had included a folder with a bunch of sound effects he thought I might need. I went through and listened to all these basic, royalty-free sounds. They were so crisp and loud, and I literally started piecing them together. I looked at the sounds as if they were a toy, just layering them together, and they eventually turned into these five-minute scenes, which I eventually gave to friends who were traveling or going on tour. Their reaction was incredible," David recalls. "I already had my company Scrapjack, which is a word I thought of when trying to come up with band names in high school, and Audiojack just seemed like it fit."

It's no wonder that someone filled with the creativity to envision the seeds of his own business from a few snippets of sound with the aim of coaxing people to use their imaginations would select one of Los Angeles' most inspirational locations for his interview, the Getty Center. The campus for the J. Paul Getty Trust has served as the home for a museum displaying pre-20th century European paintings,  drawings and sculptures, as well as 19th and 20th century American and European photographs, since 1997. The Richard Meier-designed museum and its picturesque gardens are stunning and offer breathtaking views from their seat high above the city. The Getty Center's location is one of the aspects that David loves most about the museum.

"It's above L.A. and away from everything. The Getty Center is filled with a lot of integrity, history and passion. That's what makes this place special; it's the exception to the rule of the city," he says. "I've always felt really calm here. Obviously it's beautiful, and the views are stunning. But, on a deeper note, it's a nice, intellectual break from a lot of the more mundane, low-brow stuff in L.A."

Admission to the museum and its exhibits is always free. Parking is $15, so it's best to carpool with some friends. Then you get to tram from the parking garage up the hill to the center. Once you step out of the tramcar, you're greeted with a barrage of sensory stimuli: a grand staircase adorned with sculptures, lush trees and foliage and the campus' exquisite buildings.

"I've had so many good experiences here, from relaxing on the lawn with a friend to going inside to take in pieces of art. Being able to sit there and think about each piece gives me a chance to take a break from all the chaos going on in my life. To know that someone took a paintbrush hundreds of years ago to make this, that it has been touched by someone else's hands, it's essentially a time machine back to that point. You can sit and think about what were they doing, why they were doing this, how long it took, what the world was like then for them," David shares. "It's a good chance for introspection. When that person is gone, they're dead, and this is their legacy, what they left behind. It makes me think about what I'm going to leave behind. We have our relationships with people and our impact on them, but are we capable of leaving something more?"

Some of his favorite artists are Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, while two of the paintings he loves most at the Getty are Spring by Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. Both of David's parents are into the arts. His father, a produce broker, is an avid history buff, while his mother formerly worked in fashion and the arts and is now a teacher where they live in Fresno, Calif.

"We had just moved to Fresno from Chicago, I was in fourth or fifth grade and my mom was working on becoming a teacher so she substituted and was also an art docent," he remembers. "Art has been something that's always been around. I've always been creative, whether it's been music or art, it's something that's always been in my blood."

Growing up as a child in Chicago, David was always singing. After moving to Fresno, he picked up the trumpet and, after his parents gave him a guitar for his bar mitzvah at age 13, learned to play the guitar. He joined a band, and since they had three guitarists and no bass player, he eventually learned the bass, as well as drums and piano. 

"There's a picture of me with headphones on when I was 2 or 3, and I've always been around good music. My parents brought me up around everything from Chuck Mangione and Boz Scaggs, Gato Barbieri and other amazing horn players like Dizzy Gillespie all the way to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters and all sorts of stuff. I saw Tony Bennett at the park in Chicago with my grandma when I was 5. Some woman came up to me and said, 'You're so cute, how old are you?' I looked at her and said, '5. How old are you,'" he recalls with a laugh.

Some of David's fondest childhood memories were in Chicago watching Flash Gordon, which is still his favorite film, with his dad and little brother.

"I'll never forget watching Flash Gordon pretending that I was Flash, my dad was Vultan and my brother was Barin. It was one of those things that really shaped me as a person. Flash Gordon was the only superhero who didn't have superpowers. There's a line in the theme: 'Just a man, with a man's courage… King of the impossible,' and that's the motto that I've lived by my whole life," he admits. "Everyone has always told me you can't do this, you suck at that. I remember being in theater in high school, I would kill at auditions but my teacher would never cast me because he didn't like me. The Fresno Lyric Opera Theater was casting for productions, so I went and auditioned. I got the lead role, and my teacher was almost angry that I did. Every time someone tells me I can't do something, then it's just more motivation for me to prove them wrong."

It's that spunk and fiery determination that has fueled David's ambition for years. He moved to Los Angeles after college and a year of graduate school, leaving his family and friends for the unknown. He soon found a new home at the famed Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood.

"I didn't know anything about the town or the Rox, but I barbacked twice and Nic [Adler, owner/operator] gave me the keys. I was 22 and running On the Rox, a hardcore private club, and managing the Roxy. I was barely old enough to drink and telling off a record company executive who was a jerk. I always ran that place like if you were cool you could come in, whether you were a rock star or regular person, but if you were a jerk you had to get out. There was a picture of me in The National Enquirer kicking Courtney Love out, and the first time I met Christina Aguilera we got in a fight but later became friends."

After five-plus years, it was time for David to move on, and he began a career in television production. However, the Roxy is still one of his favorite places in Los Angeles

"Every time a friend visits from out of town, I take them to the Getty Center and to the Roxy. Those are my two places," he proudly states.

He frequently goes to shows there and other venues around town to indulge in one of his hobbies,  photography, and shoot concert performances by bands such as Metallica, Dave Matthews Band and Slayer. He also takes landscape, fashion and beauty portraits, which can be viewed at davidtobinphotography.com.

 "When I was young, I used my parents' camera to take pictures of the sky and clouds. They would say, 'What are you doing? Why are you taking pictures of the sky? There are other things to take pictures of.' I replied, 'No, it's so cool,'" he chuckles. "Eventually that led to me doing photography later."

Aside from working full-time on Audiojack, producing TV shows and dabbling in photography, David is a diehard Chicago Bears fan, so I had to find out where he goes to watch games during football season.

"Tinhorn Flats. It's a Chicago Bears bar and an old cowboy roadhouse spot. I go there to watch Bears games and every Tuesday for $1 tacos and cheap beer," he responds. "I also love a restaurant called El Carmen. I go there with a buddy I used to work with every Thursday night to try different tequilas. They have over 400 different tequilas, it's amazing. The food is so good."

When I ask David what he loves most about Los Angeles, he is very quick to reply.

"The culture, the art, the fact that there is culture here. I've traveled all over this country, and L.A.'s really special that way. When it's good it's amazing, when it's shitty it's the worst place on the planet. Los Angeles' Skid Row has the highest concentration of homeless people in the United States. My dad says that 'Los Angeles is the poor person's hell,' and it really is," he says. "The reason I've stayed in L.A. this long was because of work. When I was in a serious relationship I got to thinking that I wouldn't want to raise a family here, I want to be somewhere else but if I keep producing TV I'm going to be stuck here. That's what really motivated me to make Audiojack into something. I just wanted to make something on my own, that would allow me to live anywhere on the planet and give something back to people as well, their imagination. I ran On the Rox and helped turn it into what it was, but it was never mine. These TV shows and photography have been cool, but I wanted something that was totally mine. When Audiojack came about, I thought, 'OK, this is David's.' As I saw all of these pieces of the puzzle come together, I knew that I had to do this."

Over the past few years, David has built Audiojack into an international brand with users from all over America to countries such as Australia, Israel and Serbia among others, but some of the users who are closest to his heart have proven to be the numerous schools who have opted to use Audiojack as part of their curriculum.

"I've interviewed kids after demonstrating Audiojack, and they're just blown away. Some say, 'I don't normally learn this way, and now I can' or 'I feel uninhibited.' Teachers have said that some students who normally just write a paragraph were writing pages upon pages while doing the Audiojack exercise," he says. "Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts sent over their commitment to do their first purchase order to use the Audiojack lesson plans. This school is the gold standard in education for those who are blind. Working with these kids when I went out there was amazing, and to have the superintendent of the school say that I 'cracked the code for the blind community. This changes everything' – it still hasn't sunk in yet."

David is visibly emotional when he recalls his experiences presenting Audiojack to those at the prestigious school.

"The first day I was in Boston I gave a two-hour lecture for members from the blind community, and there were people calling others at Brown University, Carnegie Mellon and MIT saying, 'Get over here, this is groundbreaking stuff.' I brought my action-packed Audiojacks, and kids were cheering like they were at a concert. They couldn't get enough of it," he remembers. "The second day, I did individual classes and worked with them on how to create their own. We were doing that together, and one girl stopped us and said, 'I feel like I can see for the first time in my life.' Wow, that's what makes it all worth it for me, to have someone say something like that." 

Children are so responsive to the Audiojacks because there is never a wrong answer as to what the intended meaning of the sound story could be.

"I never tell anyone what the story is behind them. There is a story, but I won't tell you because it will affect your interpretation of it. These kids know going into it that there is no wrong answer. They're happy to use their imagination. Even adults are, too," he informs. "I was in Israel presenting Audiojack at a blind center, and there's no language barrier, there's no age gap. It's all across the board because we all have an imagination – it's just whether we want to use it or not."

David just cemented a deal with a second sound effect company so their enormous library will soon be available to Audiojack creators. He's developing a smartphone app and a new version of the website with a player built into it so you can create your own Audiojack, upload it to the site and earn money when others download it. If you're interested making your own but need help, you can always e-mail info@audiojack.com for assistance.

There will be a scholarship competition for students and other contests for those who create their own Audiojacks, too. David has also reached out to celebrity DJs such as Just Blaze and Incubus' Chris Kilmore to contribute Audiojacks, with all proceeds going to charity. Companies like Skullcandy have donated products for students and are eager to be a part of the company's future, and don't be surprised if you see an interactive Audiojack at a future Coachella festival.

As we sit in a courtyard on the Getty Center's grounds, David looks out at the view and contemplates. After a few minutes, he decides to amend his earlier answer on what he loves most about the City of Angels.

"My favorite thing about Los Angeles is the opportunity, to be anything you want and do anything you want. Whatever you put into it, you're going to get out of it. If you want to be the biggest movie star or band on the planet, you can do that here. It can happen, if you keep hitting it. The more you hit it, the harder it's going to hit back, but you can't let up. You have to fight, to beat the shit out of this town to get it to do what you want it to do. It's not going to just give it to you. It's the toughest city I've been to in my life. Sure Chicago is cold, and New York has its rough side. But L.A. is a lonely place, and you have to want it to make it work for you. That's what it's about: making L.A. work for you."

For more information, visit audiojack.com.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Release Tuesday - 4/23/13

APRIL 23, 2013


Junip – Self-titled (Mute)
After forming Junip with drummer Elias Araya and keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn in 1998, singer-songwriter José González achieved success as a solo artist with albums like Veneer and In Our Nature while Araya was studying art and Winterkorn worked as a teacher. The Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio finally released their debut full-length, Fields, in 2010 and have remained at the forefront of indie folk ever since. They unveil a self-titled follow-up today, offering more of the atmospheric and spacey, yet beautifully intimate, sound that first put them on the map. However, they also push boundaries with the hard-thumping beat of "Villain," the Spanish guitar intricately woven into the fuzzed-out synth drones of "Suddenly" and with the hopelessly infectious hand-claps and percussive elements of "Your Life, Your Call." Junip is in town for a two-night stand at the Troubadour at the end of May. The May 30 show is already sold out, so hurry up and get your tickets for May 29 before it's too late.

The NeighbourhoodI Love You. (Columbia)
If you're an Angeleno and have yet to hear of the Neighbourhood, then you have been sorely missing out. But don't fret, the L.A. quintet's debut album is the perfect introduction to their dark atmospherics. From the in-your-face lyrics of "Afraid" to the soaring "Everybody's Watching Me (Uh Oh)" and "Float," there's something for your every mood. The fivesome is currently on an international trek in support of I Love You., but they'll be back in SoCal for a show at the Observatory in Santa Ana May 24.

Phoenix Bankrupt! (Loyaute/Glassnote)
My first introduction to the French quartet was at 2006's Coachella, and they surprised festival-goers this year by performing a mash up of R. Kelly songs with the R&B singer during Weekend One. Phoenix also unveiled new tracks from their fifth album and follow-up to the wildly successful Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix over the two weekends. Bankrupt!, like the its predecessors, successfully gives listeners a glimpse at eras past with heavy use of textured synths but with a modern, and always refreshing, edge. Must-listen songs are: "Drakkar Noir," "Chloroform" and "Bourgeois."

The Postelles…And It Shook Me (+1)
From the opening bars of title track/album opener "…And It Shook Me," the New York-four piece will have you dancing along to their sophomore effort. The Postelles' follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut, which was produced by Albert Hammond, Jr., glistens with an effervescent duet "Pretend It's Love" featuring Alex Winston, the sweet lyrics of "Heavy Eyes" and the buoyant "Caught By Surprise." As suggested by the album's cover art, "…And It Shook Me" warms the soul with upbeat melodies just as much as a day spent lounging at the beach would. See the Postelles perform the new songs May 21 at Bootleg Theater.

Sweet BabooShips (Moshi Moshi)
As a woman examines a Daniel Johnston album in the video for "If I Died," Sweet Baboo (aka Stephen Black) sings "Daniel Johnston has written hundreds of great tunes, and I've got six," and comparisons between the North Wales native Black and the prolific American singer-songwriter would certainly be apt. However, there is so much more to love about Sweet Baboo, as illustrated by his latest full-length album, Ships. With his sugary lyrics set to unexpected melodies, Black displays an endearing quirkiness all his own.

Youngblood HawkeWake Up (Republic)
It's no secret that I am completely smitten with the music from my fellow Angelenos in Youngblood Hawke (see the interview we did last summer), so Wake Up is definitely my most anticipated release of the week. If you only know them from their break-out single "We Come Running," there is even more to fall in love with as you delve deeper into the tracks on their debut full-length. Songs like album opener "Rootless" and "Dannyboy" will have you dancing and singing along in no time, while the strikingly beautiful "Stars (Hold On)" and "Say Say" are guaranteed to pull tears from your eyes. "Forever" has been my favorite song for a while. If I listen to it once, it remains in my head for days, and the entirety of Wake Up is just as addicting. YBH are currently weaving their way across the nation but return home for a May 22 date at the Avalon.

Also available – Amplifier's Echo Street; The Appleseed Cast's Illumination Ritual; Bill Ryder-Jones' A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart; Celestial Shore's 10x; The Crackling's Mary Magdalene; Fantasia's Side Effects of You; Frank Turner's Tape Deck Heart; Har Mar Superstar's Bye Bye 17; Heaven & Earth's Dig; Jeff Lyne's Armchair Theatre; Juno Reactor's The Golden Sun of the Great East; Lilacs & Champagne's Danish and Blue; Lori McKenna's Massachusetts; Michael Buble's To Be Loved; No Joy's Wait to Pleasure; Paula Cole's Raven; Queensryche's Frequency Unknown; Rob Zombie's Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor; Slava's Raw Solutions; Slowriter's TrailBlazer; Smoke Fairies' Blood Speaks; Snoop Lion's Reincarnated; Steve Martin & Edie Brickell's Love Has Come for You; Talib Kweli's Prisoner of Conscious; Tate Stevens' self-titled; Tin Cup Serenade's Tragic Songs of Hope; Tom Jones' Spirit in the Room; The Veils' Time Stays, We Go Out; Victory's Victory Is Music; will.i.am's #willpower; Young Galaxy's Ultramarine


Film – The Orphanage's J.A. Bayona directs The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor and Academy Award-nominee Naomi Watts as a couple caught in the Thailand with their family after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt in the touching drama Any Day Now; The Central Park Five is a documentary about the wrongful convictions of five youths in the Central Park jogger case; Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn in Gangster Squad; Promised Land, written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, is an environmental drama directed by Gus Van Sant and also features Frances McDormand. 

TV – Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries – Episodes 15 &16; The Killing: The Complete Second Season; Mr. Selfridge; Touched By an Angel: The Seventh Season

Music – Alanis Morissette: Live at Montreux 2012; Pink – Revolution; Whitesnake: Made in Japan

Also available – 5th & Alameda; All American Zombie Drugs; Assassins Run; Champion; Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie; City That Never Sleeps; Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles; Cold Prey II; Copacabana; D'Agostino; Deep Dark Canyon; Family Weekend; Flirt; G-Dog; God's Country; The Grapes of Death; Happy People: A Year in the Taiga; A Haunted House; It's in the Blood; Jurassic Park 3D; K-11; Magic Town; Meanwhile; Mixed Kebab; Night of the Hunted; Pawn; Pierre Etaix (Criterion Collection); Re-Generator; The Red Pony; Santa Fe Stampede; Secret Love; Sloppy the Psychotic; Thale; Wake of the Red Witch; The Wanderers; War of the Wildcats; Wasted on the Young; Wuthering Heights

Monday, April 22, 2013


L.A. street artist Dog Byte was once a musician, car salesman and graphic artist, but most Angelenos know him from his clever, thought-provoking pieces like Nowhere Tanks, Ducking the Truth and Jackstonaut, which features Jack Nicholson in an astronaut helmet. His most recognizable image, however, is Boy Bomb, with a young boy astride the explosive weapon. This particular version of the image sits on the Wild Style building at 7703 Melrose Avenue (at Spaulding Avenue) in the Melrose and Fairfax District.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Events for April 18-24, 2013


Alvin Ailey dancers (Paul Kolnik)


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Downtown)
If you're suffering from "So You Think You Can Dance" withdrawal, head to the Music Center for a live performance from the incomparable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The modern dance company returns to Los Angeles with company classics and new works set to eclectic scores that range from Dean Martin to mambo and techno to traditional Israeli music. One thing that the pieces have in common is that they will all leave you completely breathless.


Bad Religion, The Bronx @ The Palladium (Hollywood)
Two of Los Angeles' best punk bands unite for an epic evening at the legendary venue. Both come armed with an arsenal of new songs from recently released albums – Bad Religion's True North and the Bronx's IV – to go along with a slew of hits and favorites from their vast catalogs. This is the show not to miss this week.



In Theaters This Week
Filly Brown focuses on a young L.A. hip-hop artist struggling to succeed despite her surroundings. It stars Gina Rodriguez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Edward James Olmos and, in her final big-screen performance, Jenni Rivera; Rob Zombie brings a nightmare world to life in The Lords of Salem; Based on an unpublished graphic novel by director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy), sci-fi action romp Oblivion stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman , Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. Also in theaters: Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie; Errors of the Human Body; Home Run; In the House; Unmade in China



Desert Daze @ Sunset Ranch Oasis (Mecca)
Moon Block Party presents a more laid-back alternative to that other music festival going on in the desert. With performances by Tinariwen, Warpaint, Chelsea Wolfe, the Entrance Band, Fool's Gold and Jeffertittis Nile, it's sure to be an unforgettable day under palm trees and the desert sky. Make sure to check out what's still available in terms of on and offsite camping, so you don't have to drive all the way back home after the concert.

Record Store Day @ Shops Throughout Los Angeles
If you're a vinyl aficionado, then this is the day you wait for all year. Make sure to check with your favorite shops to see what they've got going on. Jacknife is having a huge sale, while Amoeba's hosting guest DJs like Lucinda Williams and a silk-screening fundraiser for Silverlake Conservatory of Music. The fourth annual event features exclusive releases from artists like Fela Kuti, At the Drive-In and Sigur Rós, limited edition 7-inches from the Black Keys/Stooges, Moby/Mark Lanegan, and AM & Shawn Lee and special singles from bands like Grouplove, Frightened Rabbit and Manchester Orchestra. Today also marks the DVD release of an official Record Store Day 2013 film, Last Shop Standing, a documentary spotlighting record store owners and their amazing stories.


Echo Park PDA Art Walk @ Various Locations Along Echo Park Avenue, Mohawk Street and Sunset Boulevard (Echo Park)
The annual Public Displays of Art event incorporates performance, sidewalk chalk, sculpture, live musical, cinematic and gallery art through exhibits and hands-on workshops throughout the neighborhood of Echo Park. With 55 local business transforming into showrooms and/or offering special discounts – e.g. free poetry at Blue Collar Working Dog, a photo exhibit and $4 brownie and cup of coffee at Stories – there is plenty to feast your eyes, stomachs and souls on throughout the day.


L.A. Times Festival of Books @ USC (Exposition Park)
The 18th annual literary event boasts a lineup of over 400 award-winning authors, musicians and chefs presenting and discussing their books, including Carol Burnett, Orson Scott Card, Ludo Lefebvre and Daniel Handler among many others. Whether you're a fan of noir, poetry, YA fiction, graphic novels or cookbooks, there is bound to be a panel or conversation for you. Local musical acts like Dustbowl Revival, Jasper Dickson and Max Lugavere are also set to perform. Through Sunday.


Grilled Cheese Invitational @ Los Angeles Center Studios (Westlake)

It's hard to believe that the cooking contest is already marking its 11th invitational that celebrates the buttery, cheesy sandwich in all its glory. Besides the main competition, there are cooking demos, costume, poetry and cheese calling contests, as well as a beer garden and, of course, vendors such as the Grilled Cheese Truck, Heywood, the Counter, the Oaks and many more to satiate all your gooey cravings.

Taco Madness @ Grand Park (Downtown)
If you're in the mood for some tacos on Saturday, Grand Park is the place to be. With establishments like Yuca's, Mexicali, Guerrilla and Mariscos Jalisco offering up their best tortilla-wrapped deliciousness, live mural painting, cocktails by La City and DJs such as Azul, Destroyer and B+ spinning throughout the day, it's going to be one crazy party.



Curtis Stone @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)

The acclaimed chef and host of "Top Chef Masters" just released his latest cookbook, What's for Dinner?: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life, offering novice cooks and seasoned chefs recipes and easy-to-make meals for hectic weeknights. As a new father, Stone is all about quick yet healthy choices like Grilled Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad, Chicken and Chorizo Paella and Mushroom Ragout on Creamy Grits. He'll be signing copies of the book tonight at the Grove.



The Revival Tour @ El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)
Chuck Ragan returns with his annual "acoustic collaborative event" that celebrates the spirit of folk music and the camaraderie of the musicians that it brings together. This year's performers includes Rise Against's Tim McIlrath, Dave Hause of the Loved Ones, Jenny O. and naturally the Hot Water Music frontman, Ragan.

Sergent Garcia @ Los Globos (Silver Lake)
Get ready to dance, as the French Latin Grammy nominee returns to Los Angeles. It's impossible not to get up and move to his Afro-Latin grooves mixed with Jamaican reggae and dancehall. Garcia successfully melds his Spanish roots with Caribbean and Latin flavors for a genre all his own, which he dubs as "salsamuffin." Experience it yourself, tonight at Los Globos.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Chapin Sisters

Abigail and Lily Chapin at Elysian Park (Bags by Arc of LA)



At Elysian Park

835 Academy Road, Los Angeles (Elysian Park)

One of my favorite features of Los Angeles is that you can find little pockets of nature intermingled with its concrete sidewalks, brick buildings and asphalt streets. Just steps from the congested 5 and 110 freeways – nestled next to Echo Park, Solano Canyon and Elysian Heights  – are the 575-acres of verdant hillsides, towering palm, avocado and oak trees and serene walking trails known as Elysian Park. Founded in 1886, it's the city's oldest park and is home to the picturesque Grace Simons Lodge, the L.A. Police Academy, Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium. It's the ideal place to spend a day lounging in the sun and the perfect setting to get to know a music group who not only formed in the area but spent many afternoons amidst Elysian Park's landscape, the Chapin Sisters.

Although Abigail and Lily Chapin grew up in New York and have recently moved back to their native state, the sisters lived as Angelenos for over eight years. Over that time, Elysian Park was the backdrop to many wonderful memories, so it's no wonder that they chose it as their favorite L.A. haunt and the location for our interview during a visit back to the city as they prepare for their new release, A Date With the Everly Brothers, an album of cover songs that will be available April 23.

As we begin to walk through the grassy knolls that run parallel to Stadium Way, Lily shares, "This is right where our nephews used to have soccer practice. They were still quite small, and it was before they even know how to play soccer. They would just run around and kick the ball."

"We have always come here since we moved to L.A. for various things since different friends have lived in the neighborhood," adds Abigail. "I lived in two different houses bordering on Elysian Park, one in Solano Canyon and then one over by the walking trail. Our brother and his wife lived up here with their kids for a while, so we would just meet in the park all of the time. Our other sister lived in Echo Park for a long time, so we had a standing Friday afternoon picnic."

"We would get tamales from the Echo Park Farmers' Market and bring them to the park," remembers Lily. "Any friends or whomever could just come hang out."

Aside from those Friday afternoon picnics, the pair have definitely longed for a few other aspects of Los Angeles since having moved back to New York close to a year ago.

 "I miss everything: people, places, the sunshine," Lily begins. "During the winter in New York, you don't get as much fresh fruit and vegetables at your neighborhood corner store. Here, you can get amazing tomatoes all year around and don't have to pay a premium for it. Everyone has a fruit tree in their yard. Fruit is literally falling off trees here."

"It's the land of abundance," chimes in Abigail. "I crave tacos all the time. Unfortunately my favorite restaurant in L.A. doesn't exist anymore. Sushi Nozawa closed because [Chef Kazunori Nozawa] retired. But it doesn't matter, there's still so much good food here. There's a lot of good, cheap street food that really doesn't exist in New York unless you have pizza every day."

The Chapin Sisters' roots are firmly planted in New York where they're surrounded by a family with an incredibly rich artistic history. Their father, Tom, is a Grammy-winning musician, and the sisters lent their voices to his children albums when they were young. Their uncle, Harry, was the acclaimed singer-songwriter known for songs like "Cat's in the Cradle," "Flowers Are Red" and "Taxi."

"We were definitely inspired by our grandmother who was a fabric artist and our grandfather who was a jazz drummer. One great-grandfather was an impressionist painter and our other great-grandfather was a writer, philosopher, literary critic and the editor of a modernist periodical called The Dial. He raised his family in Greenwich Village in the 1930s and had a bit of a bohemian circle around him, which set the stage for all of the intellectual and creative outsiderness of our family," Lily tells. "Let's just say that on our dad's side of the family we don't have a lot of doctors, lawyers or businessmen. There is a lot of people who, at the risk of financial security and societal pressures, just decided to do what they wanted to do."

"Our cousin likes to say that you can be whatever you want, you can be a triangle player, but you have to be the best triangle player there ever was," Abigail says with a laugh.

"That certainly puts a lot of pressure on you in its own way," Lily confesses. "It's a strange and interesting family, and I think we're very blessed to have grown up in it."

Lily had originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film, but inevitably her path led to music.

"When I graduated from college I did a stint with documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, who is an incredible mentor. She has a few Academy Awards for her documentaries [Harlan County, USA and American Dream], which are phenomenal. I came out here for the first time working on a film with her, and it was such a dream. I loved the hands-on, creative energy that she displayed and that she infused in me. As soon as that job ended and she went back to New York, I decided to stay in L.A. but soon realized that the rest of the film business wasn't for me – at least the L.A. version of it. It's very compartmentalized, and I didn't find my compartment," she says. "When Abigail came out to visit and we started singing, I was felt like it was tangible and something we could do right away. I've always lived my life in a listen to your gut kind of way. If the door opens and it seems like a good thing might be on the other side, check it out. That's how our band started: The opportunity appeared, we were in the same place at the same time and were really excited to play music."

At the encouragement of their brother Jonathan, the sisters put out an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "Toxic," and eventually formed the group with their half-sister Jessica Craven in 2004. The trio began garnering critical and public notice with their gorgeous harmonies, unique lyrics and mix of folk, blues and pop. They released their first full length, Lake Bottom LP in 2008 before establishing their own label of the same name, a nod to their family's New Jersey farm where they spent many summers swimming in the lake, canoeing and roasting marshmallows over a fire.

After Jessica decided to take a break from the band to have a child in 2010, Abigail and Lily continued on and released a sophomore album, aptly titled Two. They also went on to travel the world as the opening act and back-up singers for She & Him. The duo reprise their roles in the She & Him band this summer, touring across the nation, including a June 23 stop at the Hollywood Bowl.

"Playing the Hollywood Bowl is so exciting," Lily beams. "I used to go see the symphony there sometimes."

"I've had a few great nights there," agrees Abigail. "The first year we lived here, we went to see the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, which is incredible. It's a movie that I've seen more than any other, but you kind of forget how long it is. I think we left at intermission."

Lily adds, "They also had this parade where children come dressed up as characters from the film, and the first 10 minutes you ooh and ahh they're so cute, and then—"

"Three hours later," interjects Abigail.

"You're like, 'Oh my god,'" Lily finishes. "But the best concert I saw in an amphitheater setting was at the Greek – Willie Nelson & Family. It was totally amazing. I thought, 'wow, he's stacking all of his hits at the beginning of his show, what's he going to play next?' And then I say, 'Oh yeah, 'Georgia!' Oh yeah, 'Crazy!' at every new song because there are just so many hits."

"But the tour with She & Him is going to be awesome. It's fun to be on tour with them. In a way, it's a treat to not have to be the frontpeople and do all of the other work that's involved in the whole mechanism behind the show," Abigail admits. "We've played the Hollywood Bowl, but we're also playing some cities that I've never been to before. In all of our extensive touring and life travels I've never been to Las Vegas, and we're playing there, so I'm excited."

They are both very excited about next week's release of A Date With the Everly Brothers, a project that was funded through a Kickstarter campaign which their supporters contributed over 150-percent of what they hoped to raise. With Lily as Don and Abigail as Phil, the sisters perform covers of songs, like "All I Have to Do is Dream," "When Will I Be Loved" and "Till I Kissed You," by the beloved brothers

"The Everly Brothers' influence on musical history is undeniable, but the main areas for us are obviously the two-part harmonies, the fact that they're brothers and we're sisters and their songs. The songwriting is phenomenal, and it's not exclusively their songs or songs that were written for them, it's both," gushes Lily. "They were writing and operating in a time that was a burgeoning golden age of pop music. They were recording only the best material they came across or came up with, and if it wasn't good enough they would go back to the drawing board and write again because they were holding themselves up to the same standards as the songs they were covering. Pretty much everything they touched turned to gold, just hit after hit after hit."

"Their era of ruling the charts was 1961 to 1964, then the Beatles came and washed away everyone's memory of anything that came before. Everybody who was alive at the time, from the Beatles and all the '70s bands who did country-tinged folk rock, was so influenced by them," Abigail informs. "Our generation, many people know the Everly Brothers and their hits, but it's not like people are listening to the deep tracks."

As both sisters can attest, there really are so many great songs they could have covered on A Date With the Everly Brothers, so I wondered how they came up with the 14 tracks that made it onto the album.

"We didn't listen to every Everly Brothers song because, for example you could buy an Everly Brothers hits album on iTunes with 55 songs for $7.99, and some of the songs we did aren't even on that. There's probably 150 songs we could have chosen, and every person that we talk to says, 'My favorite song is blah blah blah and I can't believe you didn't do that,'" laughs Abigail. "We have a new favorite that we've been performing that we didn't put on the record, and I feel like we have to be careful to not keep doing this and say, 'Let's learn more Everly Brothers songs.'"

"The first song that we sent out to the people on Kickstarter who pledged was 'Crying in the Rain,' and that song to me is a really good distillation of what is so amazing about the Everly Brothers," reflects Lily. "Then you can go off in different directions, there are songs that we perform on the record that go in a more country direction, rollicking uptempo country-rock songs like 'Brand New Heartache' and 'Sigh, Cry, Almost Die,' and then there are these heartbreaking ballads like 'Sleepless Nights' and 'Love Hurts.' But 'Crying in the Rain' distills it all into one song in a really good way."

"And it feels very modern. The songwriting is different than all of the other songs," adds Abigail. "It's by a songwriting duo that had never worked together before or since: Carole King and Howard Greenfield. They always had other writing partners but were put together for one day, and this is the song they wrote."

To pay tribute to that golden era of pop music, the Chapin Sisters decided to record the entire album live in the studio, just as the Everlys might have done.

"That era before digital recording, you really had to know how to play. Studio time and analog tape were expensive, gear was harder to come by and everybody had to be prepared, have learned their material and be good enough to do it right every take. The idea of being able to get in a room with a bunch of musicians and record live where everyone's playing at the same time creates this energy that you can't duplicate any other way. One of the reasons why some of those old records feel so amazing is that you're hearing a performance. You're not hearing a construction of a performance, which is also equally valid and I love songs that are constructed that way too. But there's something about the feeling and knowledge that this all happened in a linear fashion that to me is very comforting about the music of the early two-thirds of the 20th century," Lily says. "For musicians of our generation, it's a huge privilege to get to record that way because a lot of times people are doing things piecemeal because it's cheaper and easier—"

"On their own computer," interjects Abigail.

"There's a lot of compartmentalizing of the process. When you do it all at once, everybody is looking around the room saying, 'OK that person stepped it up, so I'm going to step up my game too.' You can feel this other animal come out, which is the group, and everyone's performance is affected by it," Lily concludes.

The sisters are having lots of fun doing photo shoots and performances dressed in drag as the Everlys, while also getting set for their tour with She & Him. I ask if they plan to write some material for a new album during their downtime on the trek, and both think it's a possibility.

"Usually when we're on tour we're really busy, so we'll see if we will be this time," Abigail replies. "The last time we did the She & Him tour we were opening the shows, so we were working extra hard because we would run from their sound check to ours, set up our merch, play our show, change our clothes, play their show, break everything down. This time it's going to be a lot more laid back for us, as just back-up singers."

"In the past our writing style has been more solitary, then we bring what we have to each other and see where it goes from there, which goes in every direction from having the song end up being exactly what it was to changing it completely or it not existing anymore. We're open to seeing how new things feel for this next record as far as writing styles," states Lily. "We'll try to write some things from scratch together, but in the past it's always been easier to come to the table with something because inspiration strikes at weird times, you can't really control it."

As we continue our walk through Elysian Park, I ask the sisters if they spent any time writing lyrics or melodies in the park. Abigail responds, "I spent a lot of time here. I would walk, meditate and write overlooking the stadium."

"When you're taking walks alone, it's a really good way to stimulate that part of your brain, so even if you're not writing while you're walking you sometimes get an idea and then you have to run and find a piece of paper to catch it," Lily says. "That's my biggest struggle as a writer catching the ideas because sometimes I'll get an idea in the car or walking or as I'm falling asleep, and it seems so obvious, I say, 'Oh, I'll remember that,' but you need to catch it while it's there or else it floats right by."

"I heard the woman who wrote Eat, Pray, Love [Elizabeth Gilbert] on the radio, and she had a story about Tom Waits because he actually talks to his songs as if they are physical objects or people. If he's driving a car and a song comes to him, he says to it, 'Not now. I spend eight hours a day in the studio. If you want to be taken seriously, come back tomorrow and I'll be ready for you,' and it works," Abigail recalls. "[Gilbert] does it too. She had written Eat, Pray, Love with a totally different name, and she kept sending it out to friends with different names. She closed her computer one day and said to the story, 'If you know your name and aren't telling me, I have to send this in tomorrow so you better tell me your name.' and then it came to her."

"Whatever works," Lily says in amazement.

Abigail admits that she frequently uses her phone to record ideas for songs.

"But the thing about that is, you kind of lose the magic. Listening back to it, you go, 'What? I don't understand what this fragment means,'" she confesses. "Modern technology is very useful. There are all those movies from the '80s with people driving around writing books by talking to their tape recorders, and I always thought that was a good idea because it's so much easier to talk than it is to write."

When they aren't working on their music or touring as support for others, the duo have distinctly different outlets to express their artistic creativity. In 2011, Abigail established Arc of LA, a line of handmade accessories she designs, prints and sews herself.

"Our mother has a clothing store, and I would go to trade shows with her and see things that I wanted. I would go home and try to make it, whether it was a sweater or a bag," Abigail recalls. "When we were on a break from touring I started making bags. The first one was for Lily for her birthday. I made them for fun, then other people wanted to buy them so I started making them to sell in a few stores and at craft fairs. It's creative but physical, and music is very intellectual there's no physical presence to it. It's all in the ether and in your mind. Songwriting's very heady and sound disappears, so it was good at the time to watch a project from start to finish and have something physical at the end. It also involved being home, we had been on the road for a long time,  two straight years, so it was nice to sit in my apartment and sew things."

Lily, on the other hand, chose to delve further into writing.

"While Abigail was starting her bag business I was working on a novel," she shares. "I've been taking classes and pursuing the more intellectual side of my life in conjunction with the music. It's about keeping yourself inspired. … It's a real gift to do music as a part of your life, to have something you enjoy. It's not an easy path, but life's not supposed to be easy."

A Date With the Everly Brothers releases April 23. The Chapin Sisters perform as part of the She & Him band June 23 at the Hollywood Bowl. For more information, visit thechapinsisters.com.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Release Tuesday - 4/16/13

April 16, 2013


Charli XCXTrue Romance (Atlantic)

Whether she's singing on the tracks of her debut album or singles like Icona Pop's "I Love It," England's Charli Aitchison (aka Charli XCX) brings fierce energy and edgy attitude paired with heartbreaking honesty. From the pensive "You (Ha Ha Ha)" and "You're the One" to the incredibly catchy "What I Like," you'll be singing along to every song on True Romance. Charli XCX swings through Los Angeles May 11 at the Shrine in support of Marina & the Diamonds.

Fall Out BoySave Rock and Roll (Island)
It's hard to avoid Fall Out Boy's black posters emblazoned with 'Save Rock and Roll' in huge white letters hung all over town, just as it's impossible to escape their music as your walking through a mall or scanning radio stations in your car. After a four-year hiatus, the foursome is back with more of the same high-energy, sing-along pop punk that has so endeared them to their legions of fans. If they haven't already invaded your subconscious, new tracks like "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)" and "Young Volcanoes" are sure to permeate your brainwaves soon. FOB performs Sept. 20 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The LaurelsPlains (Rice Is Nice)
This debut from the quartet of Australians washes over you with a sonic "Tidal Wave" of psychedelic shoegaze lushness. Taking its name from a novel by Aussie author Gerald Murnane, Plains envelopes listeners in a blanket of fuzzy guitars, driving baselines, unwavering drums and dual vocals from Piers Cornelius and Luke O'Farrell. Don't miss the band unveiling their live show on Angelenos for the first time with a trio of shows in the near future at Family April 24, Origami Vinyl April 25 and the Satellite May 11.

The ThermalsDesperate Ground (Saddle Creek)
Desperate Ground marks the Portland, Ore. trio's sixth album and debut on Saddle Creek and was recorded with John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth) in New Jersey just hours before Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area. With songs bursting with raw energy, like lead single "Born to Kill" and "I Don't Believe You," the album boasts dark yet joyous theme that simultaneously makes you contemplative and bouncing off the walls. See the new songs performed live June 14 at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana.

Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin (Castle Face)
Each of Thee Oh Sees' 12-plus albums has its own distinct personality, and frontman John Dwyer calls their latest, Floating Coffin, "pretty dark, and much heavier than our other albums," which isn't so surprising considering the multiplicity of horrors witnessed over the past year since the release of their last effort. There are moments of optimism to be found within the layers of songs like "Minotaur." The San Francisco quintet play this Sunday at Coachella.

Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito (Interscope)
While conducting interviews with musicians, I am often asked to name my favorite bands. Over the course of my 10-plus years being a music journalist, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have consistently been a top pick. It's no secret that I have been eager for the release of their first album in four years, and Mosquito is no disappointment. Incorporating new sounds – such as a gospel choir on lead track/first single "Sacrilege," a train running along an underground track on "Subway," roots-reggae elements on "Under the Earth" and a screeching flock of birds on "Wedding Song" – with their uniquely ferocious brand of art-punk, disco-sleaze rock on songs like "Slave" and "Area 52." The trio performs tonight at Ventura Theater and this Friday at Coachella.

Also available – ADR's Chunky Monkey; Andrew Wyatt's Descender; Andy Mineo's Heroes for Sale; Art Brut's Top of the Pops; Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013; Dead Can Dance's In Concert; Echopark's Trees; Folly and the Hunter's Tragic Care; Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge's Twelve Reasons to Die; Groenland's The Chase; Illogic & Blockhead's Capture the Sun; Iron & Wine's Ghost on Ghost; Jessie Ware's Devotion; Kid Cudi's Indicud; The Leisure Society's Alone Aboard the Ark; Meat Puppets' Rat Farm; Metal Mother's Ionika; Nametag & Nameless' For Namesake; N.O.R.E.'s (aka P.A.P.I) Student of the Game; Oleander's Something Beautiful; Olly Murs' Right Place, Right Time; Shellshag's Shellshag Forever; The Shouting Matches' Grownass Man; Slaine's The Boston Project; Steve Earle's The Low Highway; The Summer Set's Legendary; Tera Melos' X'ed Out; Turnover's Magnolia; Willie Nelson's Let's Face the Music and Dance


Film – Jamie Foxx stars as a slave who joins forces with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz in an Oscar turn) in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson; Save the Date features Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr and Mark Webber.

TV – Counting Cars: Season 1; Flash Gordon – The Complete Series; Ethel; French Chef: Julia Child's Dinner Part Favorites; In the Heat of the Night Complete Season 8 (The Final Season); Parade's End

Also available –
4some; Angels of Sex; Attack of the Herbals; A Bottle in the Gaza Sea; The Colombian Connection; Crazy Enough; Disneynature: Wings of Life; Dragon; Escapee; Future Weather; Going by the Book; The Great Divide; The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia; HP Lovecraft's The Dark Sleep; Jacob; Makers: Women Who Make America; Message from Space; A Monster in Paris; Not Suitable for Children; Pedal-Driven; Reincarnated; Repo Man (Criterion Collection); Spies of Warsaw; State of Emergency; Sugartown; This Is Our Time; A Whisper to a Roar; WWE: For All Mankind – The Life and Career of Mick Foley (Mr. Socko Sock Puppet)

Monday, April 15, 2013

STREET SIGNS - RIP Michael Jackson

When the King of Pop died in 2009, artists like Jersey Joe/RIME and Mr. Brainwash chose to channel their grief by painting pieces in tribute of the artist throughout the city. One of the murals, which was done by Rabbi (aka Rabí) of dtladesigns, captured Michael Jackson during the Thriller era in his signature red leather jacket. As the years have passed, the ivy on the side of 4326 Melrose Avenue (at Heliotrope Drive) in Wilshire Center has grown so that its green branches cascade across MJ's forehead like his tendrils of black hair.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Events for April 11-17, 2013


"American Buffalo" (Michael Lamont)


"American Buffalo" @ Geffen Playhouse (Westwood)
David Mamet's drama revolves around Don ("Without a Trace"'s Bill Smitrovich), Teach ("Justified"'s Ron Eldard) and Bobby ("Six Feet Under"'s Freddy Rodriguez), three misfits plotting the theft of a rare coin collection. As they make final preparations for the burglary, their friendships and loyalties are tested, and explosive confrontations ensue. Don't miss Geffen's Artistic Director Randall Arney's fresh look at the trio of scheming thieves. Through May 12.


Dave Stewart and Friends @ The Troubadour (West Hollywood)

The iconic British singer-songwriter, guitarist and a founding member of the Eurythmics unveiled his love of country music with 2011's The Blackbird Diaries and last year's The Ringmaster General. He and some very special guests celebrate the upcoming release of his latest album, Lucky Numbers, with an all-out extravaganza at the Troubadour tonight. Expect more blends of rock and country in the new songs, as Stewart is backed by a band of some of Nashville's best players.



In Theaters This Week
My grandpa ran track with Jackie Robinson at UCLA and shared a lot of stories about their times together as we were growing up, but for those unfamiliar with the baseball legend's life story, 42, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, is for you; Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton in Disconnect; Scary Movie V spoofs films like Paranormal Activity, Mama, Inception and Black Swan with Ashley Tisdale, Charlie Sheen, Snoop Dog, Molly Shannon, Jerry O'Connell, Lindsay Lohan and many others; Written and directed by Terrence Malick, To the Wonder stars Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko as lovers who become involved with a priest (Javier Bardem) and a childhood sweetheart (Rachel McAdams). Also in theaters: It's a Disaster: Are You Prepared?; Lotus Eaters; No Place on Earth; Upstream Color


Andy Cohen @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
Although most of you know him from "Watch What Happens: Live," Cohen, as Bravo's VP of Development and Talent, is also an executive producer of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning "Top Chef" and, of course, "The Real Housewives" franchises. His first book, Most Talkative: Stories from the Frontlines of Pop Culture, appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list when it released last summer, and he appears at the Grove as the title releases in paperback. Get your copy signed, then read about how he transitioned his lifelong infatuation with pop culture into a successful career.



Light Up the Blues Concert: An Evening of Music to Benefit Autism Speaks @ Club Nokia (Downtown)
Kristen and Stephen Stills host the fundraiser, emceed by Jack Black, and featuring an all-star lineup of Crosby Stills & Nash, Ryan Adams, Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Don Felder, Chris Stills and the Miracle Project Fly Singers. Actors Amy Brenneman, David Marciano and Michael Chiklis are also set to be part of the evening.



Mira Nair @ The Aero (Santa Monica)
The acclaimed director of such films as Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair and The Namesake previews her new film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, before it releases in theaters April 26. She will discuss the thriller, which stars Live Schreiber, Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Om Puri and examines the effects of globalization and the war on terror.



Ozomatli @ The Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena)

The groundbreaking L.A. group plays an intimate show at the beautiful and historic venue to benefit the Playhouse's Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project, which strives to promote tolerance of our community's diverse cultural richness in the artistic and theatrical realm. Ozomatli is the perfect band for the cause, as they're known for blending cultures in their music that touches on hip-hop, salsa, dancehall, cumbia, samba, funk, merengue, R&B, reggae and raga. They are set to debut new tunes from their upcoming album throughout the night, as well.

King Khan & BBQ (NRML Studios, Monterrey, Mexico)


The King Khan & BBQ Show @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
The Canadian duo of BBQ (aka Mark Sultan) and King Khan (aka Blacksnake, Arish Ahmad Khan) returned from hiatus last year, and if you've never experienced one of their shows before – and when I say 'experienced,' I mean partaken in an all-out, thrashed your body around so much you're drenched in sweat, hijinks-laden party – this is your chance. An absolute good time, guaranteed. NRML Studios, Monterrey, Mexico

Rodriguez @ The Orpheum (Downtown)
Hopefully you've watched the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man by now and are just as eager to see Sixto Rodgriguez as those first throngs of South Americans were at his initial concerts there. Although he's no stranger to L.A. stages, there couldn't be a more beautiful indoor setting to hear his folk tunes in than the Orpheum.


Guts and Glory: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Roy Choi @ The Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
The chef, author and host of "Anthony Bourdain No Reservations," "The Layover" and CNN's new "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" embarks on his first American tour, sharing stories and his own brand of provocative insights into the happenings behind a restaurant kitchen's doors. Angelenos get a special treat, as local chef, author and entrepreneur Roy Choi (Kogi trucks, A-Frame, Chego) joins Bourdain for the evening.