YACHT @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
Tonight Red Bull Sound Select presents an evening of outstanding music for just $3 if you RSVP here. Otherwise it's just $12 and well worth it for headliners YACHT alone. If you haven't danced to the duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans' beats live, you must go to this show. Some great L.A. acts open the show, including NO, White Rainbow and James Supercave.
Cinecon 49 @ The Egyptian (Hollywood)
The five-day celebration of silent and classic films features a memorabilia show, DVD and book signings and special showings of Somethings Gonna Live about Hitchcock producer Robert Boyle and Baby Peggy, a documentary about the silent film star. There are plenty of screenings of films like The Last Man on Earth and Way Out West tonight, Ramrod Friday, The Good Bad Man on Saturday, It Could Happen to You Sunday and Fifty Roads to Town on Monday. In addition, screen legend Shirley Jones receives a Career Achievement Award at a banquet on Sunday evening.
FRIDAY, AUG. 30
L.A. Fair @ Fairplex (Pomona)
Take advantage of opening day specials ($1 admission from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., $2 games from 9 p.m.-midnight and $2 rides and $1 sodas from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.), as the fair kicks off its 91st anniversary celebration. Aside from all the usual carnival attractions and wacky food to be experienced, there's a Star Trek exhibition, Beneath the Sea adventure, circus acts and the End of Summer Concert Series that includes nights with War (Aug. 30), Ke$ha (Sept. 7), Demi Lovato (Sept. 14) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sept. 20). Don't worry if you can't make it today, the fun keeps happening through Sept. 29. Orange International Street Fair @ The Plaza at Chapman Ave. & Glassell St. (Orange)
Growing up, this fair always marked the end of summer – a final chance for me to run through the streets with my friends before school started. Anytime I visit now, I feel like I'm stepping back in time to those carefree days of my youth. As I got older, I really began to appreciate the sense of community the fair fosters, with food booths sponsored by local business and organizations offering treats from every cuisine imaginable, dance and music groups performing throughout the day on one of the four stages and arts and crafts tables set all around the center of the circle.
Drinking Buddies (Magnolia Pictures)
In Theaters This Week
Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in the legal thriller Closed Circuit; Drinking Buddies, a rom-com starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson ("New Girl"), Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston; Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight in Getaway; The Lifeguard stars Kristen Bell as a 30-year-old who regresses back to her high-school days; Brian De Palma's Passion stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. Also in theaters: Afternoon Delight; I Declare War; Instructions Not Included; One Direction: This Is Us
The Taste @ Paramount Pictures Studios (Hollywood)
This year's L.A. Times food and wine festival is hosted by the Times' Jonathan Gold, Betty Hallock, Jessica Gelt, Noelle Carter and Russ Parsons, Providence's Michael Cimarusti, Lukshon's Sang Yoon, Osteria Mozza's Nancy Silverton and mixologist Matthew Biancaniello and boasts three days of gastronomical goodness. There's an opening gala tonight where you can nibble on tastings, dance to a Beatles tribute band and mingle with the hosts, as well as some of the weekend's other participating chefs. Throughout the weekend there will be plenty of tastings, discussions, demos by chefs such as Ari Taymor (Alma), Sherry Yard (Helms Bakery) and KCRW's Evan Kleiman and a barbecue bonanza Labor Day Block Party on Sunday.
Jenny O. @ The Skirball (Brentwood)
The second event in the Skirball's Into the Night series is titled The Wild Side and marks the end of summer with an evening of DJ sets, cocktails, crafts, a screening of Dr. Seuss' The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and a special performance from the lovely Jenny O. The headlining singer-songwriter plays new songs from her latest album, Automechanic, which are sure to get the crowd swaying back and forth. Another L.A.-based act, In the Valley Below, gets things going with their dreamy, atmospheric goodness.
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
Fiesta Hermosa @ Hermosa Beach Pier
The scorching weather is going to continue on through next week, so why not spend the holiday weekend at the beach? There will be plenty of live music, food booths, a beer garden, carnival rides and even a petting soon through Monday night. Make sure to take advantage of their free shuttle from the free parking lot at 15092 Aviation Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.
St. Elmo's Fire
BFF Double Feature @ Exposition Park (South Los Angeles)
Street Food Cinema presents screenings of two films that celebrate friendship: Joel Schumacher's 1985 Brat Pack drama, St. Elmo's Fire, with Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Mare Winningham, and Ben Stiller's 1994 Gen X gem Reality Bites, with Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Janeane Garofalo. Local duo Wing and Hollow perform before the screening, and plenty of food trucks will be on hand (The Greasy Weiner, Lobos Truck, Mercedes Binge) for all your munchie cravings.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 3
fun. @ The Greek (Griffith Park)
The New Yorkers' Most Nights tour finally makes its way to Los Angeles for a two-night stand at the Greek. I can't think of a better way to bid adieu to summer than to spend it singing along to all the hits from the trio's breakout album from last year: "We Are Young," "Some Nights" and "Carry On." Undoubtedly, this calendar's show of the week.
"Los Angeles is a hodgepodge of whatever you make it to be," begins L.A. native Joe Cardamone, frontman for the Icarus Line. "I have favorite spots all over the place, no matter what part of the city I'm in, because I've lived everywhere from the Valley and Hollywood to Los Feliz and the East Side. But the area around Highland Park – Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Lincoln Heights – that's where I grew up and feel at home, that's the L.A. I write about."
"I grew up on both sides of the tracks because my family lived in Highland Park, which was way different than it is now, but I went to school in South Pasadena," he continues. "I had an uncle who lived there, and we lied about our address so I could go there. You have to do shit like that here in L.A. My mom's an educator, so that was important to her, even though I didn't really graduate."
It seems that Joe has always made his own rules, whether it's navigating his way around school district borders, organizing underground punk shows in his suburban neighborhood or taking part in on- and off-stage antics that cemented the Icarus Line's bad-boy status. He continues to push boundaries with the group's fifth album, Slave Vows, that released earlier this month. The seething collection of eight songs defies the conventions of most modern rock albums: Tracks vary in length from two to 11 minutes; Some kick off with several minutes of instrumental snarling, with vocals not joining in until midway through; All of the songs were recorded live in Joe's own studio, Valley Recording Co., in Burbank.
Valley Recording Co. provides the perfect setting for our interview, since it is usually where you will find Joe. Aside from serving as the Icarus Line's rehearsal space, Joe has produced albums for bands like Giant Drag, the Bixby Knolls and Spirit Vine in the studio. Located among several industrial business, there's no need to be concerned about the volume being too loud at any hour of the day, however, there's nothing cold and industrial about the atmosphere inside Valley Recording Co. Warm wood panels line the walls of the studio that Joe spent four months building, and there's an amazing art piece of wood bricks that he constructed in the mixing room. It's an environment that he and fellow resident producer/engineer Greg Gordon feel fortunate to call their home base.
The custom wall at Valley Recording Co. (Ward Robinson)
While Joe currently lives in Laurel Canyon, he's excited to be moving back to his old stomping grounds of Highland Park in a few weeks.
"Every week it looks different. You drive down York [Boulevard], and there's galleries and all kinds of bars. When I grew up there, there was nothing," he says. "There was Mr. T's Bowl and the pizza joint, but besides that there were no record stores or even any white people."
Joe grew up listening to his dad's record collection of 1960s music and the entire Beatles discography, which were his childhood lullabies. As he grew up and started going to punk rock shows, he visited Mr. T's and venues like the Anti Club and Natural Fudge a lot. He also put on a bunch of shows in different hole-in-the-wall places around town. The first concert he ever went to, though, was a huge one: Guns N' Roses and Metallica at the Coliseum. Guns N' Roses and their 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction, proved to be a monumental influence on Joe's life.
"One year my dad gave me a gift certificate to Licorice Pizza, which was an old record store in L.A., so I got to walk around the store and pick what I wanted. I got a Young MC single and Appetite for Destruction. That tape was glued in my deck for the next couple of years. When my mom heard it, she threw it away. I must have bought copies of it five times; she kept throwing it away, and I kept buying it. They were scary-looking dudes, that's why I liked it. For a 12-year-old kid these guys were wild looking," he recalls. "The day I put that tape in my player, that was it. I stopped doing homework and started convincing other kids to buy instruments. It was pretty instantaneous. I was a lost soul up until that point – always in trouble, getting into fights and I had been kicked out of a couple schools. I didn't have anything to tether me to society or humanity whatsoever. I couldn't relate to anything; I was always angry. That record was the first thing that gave me a way out."
While at South Pasadena High School, aka South Pas, Joe met Lance Arnao ("We started South Pas on the same day, and both had no friends."), and the Icarus Line was born in 1998 with Joe on vocals, Arnao on bass, Aaron North on guitar and Aaron Austin on drums. They played venues like the Cobalt Café in the Valley and Chain Reaction in Orange County and released a few EPs before unveiling their debut, Mono, in 2001. The album won them a place on several best album of the year lists, and the Icarus Line graduated to world tours.
It was during a show at the Austin Hard Rock Café when the infamous Stevie Ray Vaughan incident (North smashed a protective case surrounding a guitar that supposedly belonged to the guitar legend with a mic stand) occurred, and the band started being referred to as hellions. Eventually, Austin, Arnao and North, who went on to form Buddyhead with Travis Keller and play guitar with Nine Inch Nails, all parted ways with the group, but Joe soldiered on with a rotating lineup that included longtime friend Alvin DeGuzmann and put out the highly praised Penance Soiree in 2004 and 2007's Black Lives at the Golden Coast. The release of 2011's Wildlife marked a significant change for the band with Joe assuming production and engineering duties for the first time.
"I've always been very hands on with our records, mostly because I've usually known what I want. When we were doing Penance we met with a bunch of big producers, and I would tell them what I wanted. A couple of them said, "Well, you know exactly what you want, so why don't you just do it,'" he remembers. "I never really dreamed of owning a studio, it just came out of necessity. I'm pretty good at looking at the big picture of things and pretty easy for people to deal with, so that helps. The main thing when it comes to pro ducting is being able to make people feel comfortable."
Joe in the studio
It also helps that artists feel like Joe can relate to their situations as well, since he's also a recording artist. Having worked with all types of musicians as a part of the Icarus Line's various lineups has definitely aided in his production abilities as well. He specifically mentions those experiences in relation to stepping in to record with local band Wake Up Lucid, comprised of a tight-knit unit of two brothers and their cousin.
"They were super receptive to the things I had to say because they wanted a great record. I've been a bandleader for so long, and that's basically what I do when I produce records," he tells. "In all the different formations of the Icarus Line, I've always written towards everyone's strengths. I make sure that I'm writing material that we can perform that maximizes everyone's potential as an individual musician. Having done that, it made me a little more adept at honing in on people's strengths and writing towards them or finding something out about them that they don't already know and fostering that. That's what I did with Wake Up Lucid and hopefully what I do with a lot of bands: Find out the best things about them that they don't already know and let that shine."
Letting each band member's talent shine is something that Joe has definitely achieved with Slave Vows. The band, with Arnao back on bass, DeGuzmann on keyboards and Ben Hallett on drums, spent most of 2012 on the road with Killing Joke and the Cult. Since he has played music with Arnao and DeGuzmann since they were children and Hallett has been a part of the group for over three years, Joe feels like they've achieved a perfect blend of old and new, making for some fantastic chemistry that lent a natural and organic air to Slave Vows' recording process.
"That's one of the main reasons that we recorded it live, because I knew who was in the room with me and I knew what we could do. We spent the year on the road, and I just knew we could make an album on a four track or anything, it didn't matter, the band sounds insane. We took a couple of days to make sure everything was set up the way it needed to be to capture things properly, but after that, we pressed record, went in there for five hours, pressed stop and left. We did that for a couple of weeks and were done," he shares. "Music is plagued with a kind of micromanaging, revisionist mentality these days. A lot of it out there is all an airbrushed photo. It just doesn't appeal to me. Human and legitimate, pure performances have a compelling nature if you're open to being moved by that kind of stuff. It can be a heavy experience."
Joe definitely embraced the beauty that existed in the letting go of having to be in control over every single bar, the perfection in imperfection in the making of Slave Vows, and songs like "Dark Circles," "Dead Body" and "Rats Ass" are a kick in the gut to the material that occupies most radio airwaves today. The album should make both new and old fans excited about the Icarus Line and their future. As the band prepares to embark on a British tour in support of the release, I ask Joe if he plans on writing some new material on the road.
"Not so much, but I'll write words on the road. A lot of the lyrics I write have a documentary aspect to them. Even though they're not literal, they're definitely informed by our lives," he says. "Life on the road is so routine that I am mostly thinking of how to make the next night better, that's what I become fixated on: dialing the band in as we go. I don't multitask well. I feel like I'm sacrificing or compromising if I'm not focused on the task at hand 100 percent."
When he refers to his lyrics as having a documentary lean to them, it's quite an apt description since Slave Vows is very cinematic. In fact, the band released five film clips as a preview of the album. Each video features a different song and stars one band member, with Giant Drag's Annie Hardy in the fifth.
"After Lance left the band, he started doing film and editing work as a career, so when he came back he said, 'I do all of this shit, so if we ever want to do anything, let's do it.' We've done some videos here and there, but it's always been an afterthought or someone else's thing. Now that we control it, it's the dawn of a new era for us because we can actually put visuals to the sound. Lance is good at visually interpreting what's going on in the songs, giving a look to what the songs sound like," he says. "For me, a lot of he movies I love are just as inspiring to the music as records. Sam Peckinpah films, for instance, definitely have something to do with us, why not represent that if we can?"
One can see the Peckinpah influence in the clip starring Joe, while they also pay homage to Park Chan-wook's Oldboy in the video with DeGuzmann sticking an entire live octopus in his mouth.
"That was definitely not his idea, unfortunately for him," Joe laughs. "I went to Koreatown at 11 a.m., and there were two left so I bought them then called Lance and said, 'Get the camera. They're going to be dead in three hours.' We all met up and made it happen."
You can view all of the Icarus Line videos here. Slave Vows is currently available. The Icarus Line perform Sept. 7 at the Wiltern. For more information, visit theicarusline.com.
Black Joe Lewis – Electric Slave (Vagrant) Whether you're in line for your morning coffee, having lunch at a café or in the midst of a crowd at a concert, it's certain that you'll be surrounded people staring at their smartphones – or you might even be one of them. Austin's Joe Lewis titles his latest album as a nod to the fact that most of us are indeed slaves to our cell phones and other electronic devices, as he continues to challenge genre boundaries with searing tracks infused with blues, punk, soul and rock. Electric Slave, produced by Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse) and John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, St. Vincent, Okkervil River) alternatively soothes the soul (the horns on "Dar es Salaam" and "The Hipster") and rattles your eardrums with Lewis' screaming guitar solos on songs like "My Blood Ain't Runnin' Right" and "Guilty." Experience the new album in person Dec. 5 at the El Rey.
Carly Ritter – Self-titled (Vanguard) It's no wonder that the singer-songwriter's debut bursts with lyrics and melodies that scream California – the album features some amazing L.A. musicians: husband-and-wife team Joachim Cooder and Juliette Commagere, Robert Francis and living legend Ry Cooder. Having grown up surrounded by the rock 'n' roll songs favored by her mother and beloved actor/comedian father John Ritter, it wasn't until Carly Ritter's adolescence that she began to explore folk and country by the likes of her paternal grandfather Tex Ritter, genres that she continues to explore in her own music today. Must-listen tracks are "Princess of the Prairie," "It Is Love" and "Save Your Love," a beautiful duet with Francis. Join Ritter in celebrating the album's release at Hotel Café on Sept. 3.
The Dodos – Carrier (Polyvinyl) A somber tone is set from the first bars of Carrier's opener, "Transformer," that carries on throughout this fifth album from the San Francisco duo of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber. Much of the solemnity is due to the tragic passing of guitarist and former Dodo Christopher Reimer last year. There is a warmth imbued in Carrier, however, and Reimer's influence is definitely felt on the album, especially on tracks like the lead single, "Confidence." See the pair perform at the El Rey on Oct. 15.
Foy Vance – Joy of Nothing (Glassnote) Although Foy Vance was born in Northern Ireland, it's the music of the American south that stimulated his passion for traditional music. After immigrating to the Oklahoma, he traveled throughout the south with his father, immersing himself in the region's rich musical history. Those travels deeply affect his writing, and he's continued to craft his own sound touring with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Michael Kiwanuka, Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran. Vance pours all of these experiences into his latest album, from the emotional, heart-pounding opener, "Closed Hand, Full of Friends," to the beautiful title track and "You and I," which features backing vocals from Raitt. And, no, it wasn't just his nifty mustache that grabbed my attention. Check him out at Hotel Café Oct. 28.
Goodie Mob – Age Against the Machine (The Right) Most know CeeLo Green from his breakout The Lady Killer album, as a judge on "The Voice" or his work with Gnarls Barkley, but hip-hop lovers came to recognize him as a member of the Atlanta-based act known as Goodie Mob. It's awesome to hear Green rap again alongside Khujo, T-Mo and Big Gipp on their first album in almost a decade, and they give props to band that was a big influence during Goodie Mob's formative years, Rage Against the Machine, in its title. The foursome continue to incorporate social issues into their raps for songs like "Power" and "Amy," and strive for innovation by incorporating rock, electronic and classical elements into tracks such as "Pinstripes," which features T.I., and "Ghost of Gloria Goodchild." My favorite cut, "Special Education," features Janelle Monáe singing the hook. See many of the new songs performed live tomorrow (Aug. 28) at the House of Blues Sunset Strip.
Also available – AroarA's In the Pines; Avenged Sevenfold's Hail to the King; Ben Shepherd's In Deep Owl; Big Sean's Hall of Fame; Colette's When the Music's Loud; Dent May's Warm Blanket; Disappears' Era; Drumgasm's self-titled; Fluent's Retro Future; Franz Ferdinand's Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action; J57 & Blame One's Walk in the Sun; Jars of Clay's Inland; Juicy J's Stay Trippy; Lumerians' The High Frontier; Mandisa's Overcomer; Maps for Travelers' Change Your Name; Michael Monroe's Horns and Halos; Money's The Shadow of Heaven; Nekrogoblikon's Power; Reverse the Curse's Existent; The Rides' Can't Get Enough; Sly & the Family Stone's Higher! box set; Various Artists' The Walking Dead AMC Original Soundtrack – Vol. 2… Sounds of Survival; Yoshiki's Yoshiki Classical
Film – Baz Lurmann's visually striking adaptation of The Great Gatsby features Leonardo DeCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton; Pain and Gain stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as bodybuilder who get caught up in an extortion and kidnapping caper; Mira Nair directs Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Live Schreiber and Kiefer Sutherland in The Reluctant Fundamentalist
TV –Elementary: The First Season; Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Ninth Season; Sons of Anarchy: Season Five; The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season
Music – Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow's Black Masquerade; One Direction's Going Our Way Also available –33 Postcards; After the End; Among Friends; At Any Price; Billy the Kid; Camp; Collision Course; A Company Man; The English Teacher; Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp; Koch; Kon-Tiki; Life, Love, Soul; Meddling Mom; Monsters Wanted; Online; Pawn Shop Chronicles; Ritual; A Resurrection; Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's; Season of a Lifetime; Stranded; Tied; Unit 7
If you love street art, then any trip to Los Angeles isn't complete without a visit to the Branded Arts Building at 8810 Washington Boulevard in Culver City. What was once a car dealership is now the site of a collection of murals designed by some of the world's best street and graffiti artists. This piece, with a blue-eyed and be-winged skater boy chilling on his board beneath the words 'Angels come in various sizes,' is one of the first you see as it faces out onto Washington. The painting was done by the German duo of Jasmin "Hera" Siddiqui and Falk "Akut" Lehmann – aka Herakut.
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival in Downtown, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills The third annual event is the ultimate city-wide food extravaganza, offering four days of cooking demos, wine and spirit tastings, book signings, parties and so much more. There's a culinary demo with Giada De Laurentiis this afternoon, followed by her Festa Italiana this evening. Tomorrow includes a discussion with Michael Chiarello; Tacos and Tequila with Ray Garcia, Josef Centeno and Rick Bayless; a demo and Asian Night Market with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Fabio Viviani, Curtis Stone and Ziggy Marley and Ben Ford do cooking demos, Grant Achatz and the Grahm Crew do cocktail talks and Gavin DeGraw performs at Lexus Live on Grand on Saturday. The fest concludes with demos from the Hearty Boys and Duff Goldman, champagne and cheese seminars and the final Lexus Grand Tasting on Sunday.
Class of Chicago Comedy Festival @ The Fake Gallery (Wilshire Center) Radio Titans co-founder Carl Kozlowski throws his second annual celebration of Chicago comedians who now reside in the City of Angels. This year features 40 comics over three nights of festivities, kicking off with two shows this evening. There's an All-Star Improv Extravaganza at 8 p.m. with the likes of Emo Philips, Bill Chott and the Farley Brothers, while the 10 p.m. portion includes a showcase of shorts by Willy Lazlo, Luke Matheny, Ryan Ridley, Scott Vinci and Dan Jelinek.
FRIDAY, AUG. 23
Fiesta La Ballona @ Veterans Park (Culver City) The neighborhood's annual Party in the Park is a free weekend event celebrating community. Aside from carnival rides and games, there will be plenty of food booths and trucks, a beer and wine garden, performances from dance groups and rock, mariachi, jazz, bluegrass, samba and zydeco bands, events with some of the Galaxy Star Squad and Kings Ice Crew and a costume celebration and competition.
In Theaters This Week The Grandmaster, directed by Wong Kar Wai, stars Tony Leung as Ip Man. Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower star in the big-screen adaptation of Cassandra Clare's YA fiction series' first installment, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; The World's End is the final flavor (mint chocolate chip, to be exact) in Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, featuring co-writer Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, a pub crawl and aliens, of course; Adam Wingard directs You're Next, and since I can't even watch its ad without covering my eyes, it's probably a good one for you horror lovers. Also in theaters: The Frozen Ground; Inch'Allah; Scenic Route; Short Term 12; Thérèse
SATURDAY, AUG. 24
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Dan Martensen/concept: KK Barrett)
FYF Fest @ L.A. State Historic Park (Elysian Park) Can't think of a better way to bid adieu to the final days of summer than spending two days immersed in music and comedy. Musical acts include My Bloody Valentine, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Beach House, Deerhunter, Devendra Banhart, the Breeders, Solange and so many more. Comedians include Doug Benson, Paul Scheer, Karen Kilgariff and Ron Funches. The sheer awesomeness of talent in the lineup makes this the can't-miss show of the week. Just make sure to avoid traffic and searching for a parking space by taking the Gold Line to the Chinatown station.
Edward Scissorhands @ Brookside Park (Pasadena) I just heard an NPR feature extolling the comedic talents of Winona Ryder on the radio the other day, and was delighted to see that Street Food Cinema is hosting a screening of one of the most beloved films she stars in tonight. Tim Burton's 1990 film stars Johnny Depp as the titular hero who falls in love with the angelic Peg (Ryder). In addition to the screening, L.A. singer-songwriter Matt Braaten performs a set while the Grilled Cheese Truck, Fun Time Kettle Corn and Don Chow Tacos serve up the movie treats.
SUNDAY, AUG. 25
Boot Ride Rally @ The Happy Ending (Hollywood) The Boot Campaign's annual event raises funds to support active military members as they return home and transition back to civilian life. The day begins with a motorcycle ride across the city leading to the Boot Rally at Happy Ending. "Sons of Anarchy" cast members will be on hand at the party, along with the Boot Girls, to enjoy a performance from Blackberry Smoke.
TUESDAY, AUG. 27
alt-j (Noah Kalina)
Alt-J (∆), Royal Canoe @ The Palladium (Hollywood) I know, I just like pressing alt-j way too much, leaving ∆s all across my screen. While this first night is sold-out, you still might be able to score some tickets via Craigslist or for the show tomorrow evening. Either way, you don't want to miss the English quartet's North American tour in support of their debut album from last year, An Awesome Wave, which won the 2012 Mercury Prize. The Canadian six-piece of Royal Canoe open the show, and you're sure to be treated to some new tracks from their upcoming Today We're Believers album (out Sept. 3) too.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 28
Sasha Grey @ Book Soup (West Hollywood) The actress, model, musician and former porn star is also a published author whose debut novel, The Juliette Society, released in May. The book focuses on a film student named Catherine who is in the midst of a sexual awakening and becomes drawn into a secret sex society with members that include some very powerful people. Grey discusses and signs copies of her work tonight at Book Soup.
Lucius @ The Echo (Echo Park) Another sold-out show, however, there might be a limited amount of tickets available at the door tonight, so it's worth a trip over to the Echo. You don't want to miss the NYC quintet perform in such a small club while you still can. Their debut full-length, Wildewoman, is going to be released Oct. 15, yet they've already built a solid reputation as a must-see live band and garnered praise from NPR, The New York Times and were named a Band to Watch by Rolling Stone. Believe me, you'll be dancing to songs like "Hey Doreen" in no time flat.
Braids – Flourish // Perish (Arbutus)
This sophomore album from the Montreal trio is a successful blend of cerebral electronic effects and rhythms with engaging, from-the-gut lyrics by frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston. I could imagine Flourish // Perish being played at a hip restaurant, boutique or as a workday soundtrack. Songs like "Fruend" and "Hossak" are not to be missed. Catch their live show Oct. 17 at Bootleg Bar.
Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion (Frenchkiss)
The fourth album from the Crocodiles duo erupts with energy with album opener "I Like It in the Dark," keeps your head bopping with "Heavy Metal Clouds" and tugs at the heartstrings with "Un Chant D'Amour." Bandmembers Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell began collaborating at 18 in San Diego and currently split their time between New York City and London. Although their locales may change, the elements of noise-pop fuzz they became known for remain, with a clear nod to eras past. They make a return visit to SoCal for a show at the Echo Nov. 8.
John Mayer – Paradise Valley (Columbia)
The singer-songwriter/guitar virtuoso continues to explore American roots music with his sixth studio album that was named for the Montana river valley where he frequently seeks solace. The direction for his follow-up to last year's Born and Raised (his initial foray into folk and country territory) is made clear with the hand-clap inducing opening track "Wildfire," which gets a soulful makeover from Frank Ocean deeper into the album. Mayer teams with Katy Perry for the sweet love duet, "Who You Love," covers J.J. Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" and responds to Taylor Swift's "Dear John" in "Paper Doll." Even if you aren't a huge fan of his albums, Mayer's live shows are not to be missed, so make sure to get tickets for his Oct. 5 show at the Hollywood Bowl.
Joseph Childress – The Rebirths (Empty Cellar)
Speaking of great guitarists, acoustic maverick Childress' debut is quite captivating. The 10 songs were written over two years spent hitchhiking, hopping freight trans and living out of a car before he returned to his childhood home nestled in the Colorado Rockies and recorded The Rebirths in a bathroom. Cracks, thumps and whirring sounds from the home environment add flavor to the tracks, which burst with powerful emotion from his honest lyrics, heartfelt vocals and intricate guitar work.
Travis – Where You Stand (Red Telephone Box)
The Scottish quartet took a five-year hiatus before returning with this new album, their seventh full-length, brimming with the anthemic and cinematic pop songs that put them on the map. If you love Coldplay and Keane, then you must get to know the band, headed by the remarkable Fran Healy, who paved the way for modern Brit-Pop's success in America. Travis visit Los Angeles in the midst of a world tour in support of Where You Stand for an Oct. 4 show at the Wiltern.
Typhoon – White Lighter (Roll Call)
Grandiose folk? Orchestral pop? It's hard to put a finger on just one phrase that might attempt to categorize the Portland, Ore. collective, and that's the beauty of their music. What could be a mish-mash of 11-plus musicians playing all at once results in bold, beautiful and harmonious compositions. Songwriter Kyle Morton's struggles with Lyme disease led him to think that White Lighter would be his last work, and the passion put into the melodies and lyrics are evident and quite touching. I dare you to listen to tracks like "Young Fathers" or "Summer Home" without dancing and crying and dancing some more. Their Oct. 17 show at the Satellite is going to be one not to miss.
Also available – Alexander von Mehren's Aéropop; AM & Shawn Lee's Replayed; Andrew Cedermark's Home Life; A$AP Ferg's Trap Lord; Ben Rector's The Walking In Between; Destruction Unit's Deep Trip; DIANA's Perpetual Surrender; Diarrhea Planet's I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams; Drenge's self-titled; Earl Sweatshirt's Doris; E.M.M.A.'s Blue Gardens; Golden Suits' self-titled; Julia Holter's Loud City Song; Julianna Barwick's Nepenthe; Kissaway Trail's Breach; Laura Veirs' Warp & Weft; Lee DeWyze's Frames; Little Comets's Life Is Elsewhere; No Age's An Object; Paper Lions' My Friends; Porcelain Raft's Permanent Signal; Pure Bathing Culture's Moon Tides; R. Stevie Moore's Personal Appeal; Sarah Neufeld's Hero Brother; Shigeto's No Better Time Than Now; Ski Lodge's Big Heart; Snow Ghosts' A Small Murmuration; Superchunk's I Hate Music; Tedeschi Trucks Band's Made Up Mind; Ty Segall's Sleeper; Tythe's & Also with You; White Hills' So You Are… So You'll Be; White Lies' Big TV; Willie Sugarcapps' self-titled; Willy Mason's Carry On; Zola Jesus' Versions
TV –Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season; American Pickers: Mike & Frank's Picks; Being Human: Season Five; Best of Pawn Stars: Greatest Stories Ever Sold; Best of Storage Wars: Life in the Locker; The Good Wife: The Fourth Season; Mike & Molly: The Complete Third Season; NCIS: The Complete Tenth Season; NCIS: Los Angeles - The Fourth Season; Parenthood: Season Four; Revenge: The Complete Second Season
Music – Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin's Invitation to Illumination: Live at Montreux 2011 Comedy – Jim Norton's Please Be Offended
Film –3 Days of Normal; Alyce Kills; Amour; Arthur Newman; Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey; Dragon Pearl; Epic; Evidence; Fear the Forest; Floating City; Free Angela & All Political Prisoners; Go Goa Gone; Highland Park; Hitting the Cycle; Killing Season; Loveholic; No One Lives; No Place on Earth; Nobody Can Cool; Post Tenebras Lux; Rapture-Palooza; Scary Movie 5;Shadow Dancer; Stag; Tailor of Panama; This Is Martin Bonner; Tortoise in Love; Vampire; Wither (Vittra)
"The Legend of Korra" Art Book Signing @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove) I'm not exaggerating when I say that everyone in my family loves "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Each member has watched the entire series at least once, and a couple of us have even read all of its companion books. While its M. Night Shyamalan big-screen adaptation was a huge disappointment, its sequel series, focusing on the new Avatar Korra, is quite good. Both shows' creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko released a hardcover collection of never-before-seen artwork from the development of "The Legend of Korra" last month and appear at Barnes & Noble with its co-directors, Joaquim Dos Santos and Ki Hyun Ryu, for a panel discussion and signing tonight.
Everything Is Festival @ The Cinefamily (Mid-City West) The Cinefamiily and Everything Is Terrible!'s Everything Is Festival IV: The Dreamquest continues this evening (and through Aug. 21), bringing you the best found footage, accidental movie masterpieces, alternative comedy experiments and awesome art and video installations. Tonight's programming features Tony Clifton hosting the stand-up comedy special Comic Relief Zero, a talent show with Thu Tran and Matt Fitzpatrick, Wham City and John Moschitta Jr., and a screening of three Amy Fisher TV movies in the EIF Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island complete with Joey Buttafuoco in person. In addition, there is the JUNK pop-up serving unique treats like Watermelon Oreos and Kit Kat Panna Cotta and an Island of Misfit Video Games exhibit.
FRIDAY, AUG. 16
Watermelon Festival @ The Rose Bowl (Pasadena) The festival outgrew its Sunland location and celebrates its 52nd year with a move to the Rose Bowl through Sunday. Aside from the delectable food items to be sampled (including free watermelon all weekend), there's plently of entertainment to be had, like fun contests, the crowning of the Royal Court, watermelon carving and cooking demos, rides, games and live music from VIZA, Fever the Ghost and Sad Robot.
In Theaters This Week Ain't Them Bodies Saints stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara; Keri Russell is an obsessed Jane Austen fan who travels to a resort called Austenland; Jobs takes a took at Steve Jobs' life from 1971 through 2001, with Ashton Kutcher as the visionary entrepreneur; Our favorite teen superheroes, Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), return in Kick-Ass 2 alongside more amateur crime fighters to take on Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); The Precious director presents Lee Daniels' The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda; Liam Hemsworth turns corporate spy in Paranoia. Also in theaters: Cutie and the Boxer; Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara; Spark: A Burning Man Story; When Comedy Went to School
Bobby Long (Eric Ryan Anderson)
Bobby Long @ Troubadour (West Hollywood) The British singer-songwriter released his latest album, Wishbone, last month and set off on a national tour that finds its way to the legendary Troubadour tonight. Known for his heartfelt song-crafting, Long worked with producer Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show, Gaslight Anthem) to bring out a grittier edge on Wishbone while continuing to let his awesome vocals and guitar work shine. The new tracks are sure to add even more energy to his captivating live performances, so make sure not to miss this one.
SATURDAY, AUG. 17
Echo Park Rising (Echo Park) This is my favorite local festival because I can walk to it! Spanning two days with over 90 acts performing in 22 spaces, as well as participating local business like the Sage, Two Boots, Ballard's Artwork Framing and Red Hill, and food trucks from the Melt and Greasy Wiener to Coolhaus and Los Angeles Shaved Ice, there is so much to fill your eyes, ears and stomach with. The line-up includes Big Black Delta, Sir Sly, White Arrows, the Soft Pack, the Henry Clay People and Eastern Conference Champions.
H2O Music Festival @ L.A. State Historic Park (Elysian Park) Univision brings some of the hottest Latin and English-Language artists together for an all-out extravaganza. Two stages feature the likes of Pitbull, A Tribe Called Quest, Roberto Tapia, Prince Royce, La Santa Cecilia, Jessica Sanchez and Outkast's Big Boi, while food trucks and beer gardens keep you energized all night long.
SUNDAY, AUG. 18
Johnny Ramone Tribute
@ Hollywood Forever (Hollywood) The
ninth annual tribute to the Ramones guitarist promises to be the most
exciting yet. After visiting the 8-foot bronze statue of Ramone – as
well as Dee Dee's gravesite – you can take part in a Ramones look-alike
contest and watch a screening of the John Waters film Cry-Baby. The
director is going to be on hand to present the film, do a Q&A and
sign autographs with one of the movie's stars, Traci Lords.
Rosemary's Baby/Repulsion @ The Egyptian (Hollywood) Author James Greenberg just released his new book Roman Polanski: A Retrospective and will be on hand to introduce this double feature of two of the director's works. First up is Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes in the 1968 thriller Rosemary's Baby, followed by Polanski's second film, 1965's Replusion, starring Catherine Deneuve. Greenberg will sign copies of the book in the theater's lobby before the screenings.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 21
Dîner en Blanc It's quite exciting that the French flash-mob/pop-up picnic with class is taking place for the first time in the City Angels as it celebrates its 25th year. For those unfamiliar with the event, more than 1,000 people, all wearing white clothes, gather together in a public location (past sites include Versailles, the Louvre pyramid and the Eiffel Tower) that is only disclosed to those who RSVP'd, and in a span of minutes set up an elaborate, all-white picnic area. Diners must bring their own tables with white tablecloth, white chairs, china, flatware, drinks and gourmet feast, but despite all the rules, the events always seem like so much fun.
2800 E. Observatory Ave., Los Angeles (Griffith Park) 213-473-0800
Griffith J. Griffith came up with the idea for a public observatory while peering at the sky through the Mount Wilson telescope on a visit to the research facility in 1904. He then donated the land and funds for the observatory, which would include an exhibit hall, a cinematic theater to show educational films and, of course, an astronomical telescope offering free viewing, to the city. Although Griffith passed away before building began, his trust oversaw that his vision came to fruition, enlisting some of science's greatest minds at the time to contribute to its design and construction, before passing ownership on to the city.
Griffith Observatory opened its doors on May 14, 1935, welcoming over 13,000 visitors in its first week. They examined exhibits such as the Foucault pendulum and a triple-beam coelostat solar telescope, which are still available to the public today, and watched shows about the moon and worlds of the solar system in the planetarium. In 1974, the observatory began hosting the world's first music-accompanied laser light show, the Laserium, in the planetarium, and it was still going strong when I was in high school in the '90s. We would make the trek from Orange County to be captivated by the lights set to the songs by the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
The Laserium was removed from the program when the observatory underwent a $93-million renovation and expansion from 2002 to 2006. Aside from exhibits being added on a new underground level, a café, bookstore and the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater were also created, along with a major revamping of the planetarium, was renamed the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
While admission to the observatory and all its exhibits is free, tickets for the planetarium shows are $7. The four shows – Centered in the Universe (exploring the history of astronomy), Water Is Life, Light of the Valkyries (images of the northern lights will amaze you) and Time's Up – are well worth it, though. The observatory's architecture, designed by John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley, is also a sight to behold and has been featured in films like Rebel Without a Cause (There was even a bust of the movie's star, James Dean, erected on the grounds.), which have led to it becoming one of Los Angeles' most recognizable buildings.
There is so much to explore inside the observatory, yet it's often hard to tear yourself away from the sweeping views of the city to be had from its exterior terraces and walkways. I love to stand next to the domes and search the landscape from Downtown to Hollywood and – on clear days – the Pacific Ocean for familiar landmarks. Even though I've been to the observatory many times, it's one place I doubt I'll ever get tired of visiting on my own or with out of towners.
Bonzie – Rift Into the Secret of Things Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nina Ferraro is 17 years old, but as Angelenos who caught her set opening for Iron and Wine at First Unitarian Church in June discovered, her writing and musicianship appeal to those of any age. The Chicago native's debut, which lifts its titled from a line in Henry David Thoreau's Walden, boasts tracks like the emotional, six-minute "Data Blockers" and the gorgeous "Felix," featuring the Milk Carton Kids.
Jaguar Ma – Howlin (Mom + Pop) I was hooked upon first listen to "Come Save Me" and "The Throw" off of the Australian duo's debut, Howlin. Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield traveled to France to record the album on a farm just south of Paris armed with an 808, a Fender Jaguar, a laptop and a pair of vintage Neve console channels. The result is a successful blend of experimental beats and catchy vocal melodies that recall the simplicity of classic beach pop. Witness the pair create a wall of sound at the Echo on Oct. 4.
Royal Teeth – Glow (Dangerbird) The six-piece recorded their debut full-length with Gavin Brown (Metric, Billy Talent) in Toronto last winter, and though they were miles from their New Orleans home, the vibrant energy of their homebase is infused into each of Glow's indie pop anthems. You may not know any of Royal Teeth's songs yet, but rest assured you'll find yourself dancing and singing along to lead vocalists Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson as they "ooh, ooh, ooh" on "Wild" and "Honey" in no time. You can catch them perform Sept. 21 at 94/9's Independence Jam in Oceanside.
Sam Phillips – Push Any Button (Littlebox) "Gilmore Girls" is one of those shows that I can't resist watching whenever I land on it as I'm clicking through channels. Even if I've seen the episode several times, I watch it again. A key ingredient to the show's mood is Sam Phillips' score. The acclaimed singer-songwriter releases her first physical album of new material since 2008's Don't Do Anything today, an effort she recorded in a Charlie Chaplin-era bungalow near downtown Los Angeles. While songs like "When I'm Alone" could have appeared on "Gilmore Girls," Phillips puts new dimensions of her writing on display on Push Any Button with tracks like opener "Pretty Time Bomb" and "Can't See Straight." See her live at Largo at the Coronet on Nov. 9.
XNY – Orange Whether fingers start tapping a desktop, heads nod, hips writhe or feet stomp, it's virtually impossible to sit still once you put on a track from the Brooklyn-based duo of Pam Autuori and Jacob Schreiber. From the literal roar of opener "Jaw" to the pulsating "Burn Out" and complex percussion of "A Part," their sophomore album exudes a fiery energy that infiltrates every muscle of the body.
Also available – Béla Fleck, Giancarlo Guerrero, Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Brooklyn Rider's The Imposter; Bloc Party's The Nextwave Sessions; Christa Wells' Feed Your Soul; Crosby Stills & Nash's CSN; David Liebe Hart Band's self-titled; Glen Campbell's See You There; Harry Nilsson's Flash Harry; Jeff Golub with Brian Auger's Train Keeps a Rolling; K. Michelle's Rebellious Soul; Luke Bryan's Crash My Party; Mickey Hart Band's Superorganism; Parachute's Overnight; Stevie Stone's 2 Birds 1 Stone; Transitshop's Velocity; Valerie June's Pushin'Against a Stone; Washed Out's Paracosm; The Wild Feathers' self-titled; Yellowcard's Ocean Avenue Acoustic; Zebrahead's Call Your Friends (Aug. 16)
Film –A Band Called Death documents the first punk band in the 1970s, a trio of brothers, who only decades after their formation became recognized as genre pioneers; Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton and Amanda Seyfried in The Big Wedding; Robert Redford directs and stars in The Company You Keep with Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling and Shia LaBeouf; Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman; Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgård in What Maisie Knew
TV –Enlightened: The Complete Second Season; Girls: The Complete Second Season; The Mindy Project: Season One; Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season; Southland: The Complete Fifth & Final Season
Music – Carrie Underwood's The Blown Away Tour: LIVE
Also available –Bad Parents; Captains Close Up; Cat. 8; Compulsion; The Deep; Detour; Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late and More Stories by Mo Willems; Emperor; The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec; From This Day Forward; The Guillotines; Hatchet III: Unrated Director's Cut; Hot Flashes; Lost & Found in Armenia; Love on a Leash; Reality; Super Storm; Trevor Noah: African American
Came across this beautiful mural as I was walking through the Arts District on my way to check out some of this year's Nisei Week festivities (taking place through Aug. 18) in Little Tokyo. I love how the pink-hued lines bring energy to the piece, which sits outside of District Gallery at 740 East 3rd Street, reminiscent of the patterns that the Korean fan dancers create during their numbers.
The Heavy, The Silent Comedy @ The Fonda (Hollywood)
The British quartet wind up their North American headline tour in support of their third album, The Glorious Dead, here on the West Coast with an intimate show at the Fonda. I've long extolled the virtues of the band and their eclectic blend of soul and rock elements, and their live show is just as exciting. San Diego's Americana/folk rockers the Silent Comedy, headed by brothers Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman, open the show. I can't think of another band whose sound can be explained by the phrase "rocking banjo" as evidenced on tracks like "God Neon" off their just-released EP, Friends Divide. Should be a helluva night.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars @ The Skirball (Bel Air)
The cultural center's free sunset concert series continues with the electrifying West African musicians who came together 16 years ago in a Sierra Leone war refugee camp. With their latest album, Radio Salone, they continue to inspire with their uplifting beats and rhythms. KCRW's Tom Schnabel sits in on the 1s and 2s before their performance, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m, and make sure to visit all of the Skirball galleries, including The Door Is Always Open, an exhibit from one of my favorite L.A. artists, Gary Baseman.
FRIDAY, AUG. 9
In Theaters This Week
It's been a while since I've anticipated the release of a film as much as Elysium. Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9), Elysium is set in 2154 as the wealthy live on a space station and the rest of humanity lives in the ruins of Earth and stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Diego Luna; Lovelace shows the glamorous side of the porn phenomenon Deep Throat then delves into the real story with a cast that includes Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard and Sharon Stone; Disney gives a glimpse into the world above Cars with Planes, featuring the voices of Dane Cook, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese; We're the Millers stars Jason Sudeikis as a pot dealer who recruits a fake family (Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter) to be his cover when he picks up a shipment in Mexico. Also in theaters: Chennai Express; I Give it a Year; In a World…; Jug Face; Off Label; Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters; Prince Avalanche
Drowners @ The Wiltern (Koreatown)
The New York four-piece formed last year and signed with Frenchkiss in this spring. The catchiness of their indie pop is quite evident on songs like "Long Hair" and "You've Got It All Wrong," which just burst with energy. Look out for their debut full-length in the near future, but in the meantime check them out at the Wiltern with the Foals.
SATURDAY, AUG. 10
Willie Nelson @ Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood)
My dad was a huge fan, so I've seen Willie Nelson perform more times than I can count. Watching the legendary troubadour perform never gets old, though. It's incredible how many classics he can pack into just one set, and his witty banter is not to be missed. Tonight he performs favorites along with the beloved standards from his Stardust album – "Georgia on My Mind," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Someone to Watch Over Me," among others. Add in the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Lyle Lovett and His Large Band as openers, and you've got the show of the week.
SUNDAY, AUG. 11
Nick Offerman's "American Ham" @ Largo at the Coronet (Mid-City West)
From Manwich and We're the Millers commercials to the return of Chance Briggs in last week's episode of "Childrens Hospital" and "Axe Cop" debuting on Fox, it seems like there's no escaping the "Parks and Recreation" star. If you're still hungry for more, you can experience him in the flesh tonight. This one-man show promises anecdotes, musical whimsy and woodworking tips – with nudity. Ack.
The LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast @ Vibiana (Downtown)
Oh, Evan Kleiman, how I love thee. The fabulous "Good Food" host, chef, author and all-around L.A. food expert curates the third annual event benefitting Project Angelfood. For $30 you get beverages from the hosted bar, sampling from over 20 restaurants that include Nickel Diner, Chego, Canelé and Square One and a limited edition coffee cup while being serenaded by Lynda Kay.
TUESDAY, AUG. 13
Molotov (Dale May)
Molotov @ Conga Room (Downtown)
Undeniably the heaviest show of the week, the Mexican rock band thunders into town as the headliners of this year's Jägermeister Tour (Whoa, it's the 11th one!). The Latin Grammy-winning group has sold over 3.5 million albums worldwide over the span of their 18-plus years together but haven't toured the states in some time. So now's your chance to see why they've been called "the most important band in Latin America" up close and personal at the Conga Room.
"Rapture, Blister, Burn" @ Geffen Playhouse (Westwood)
This West Coast premiere of Obie Award-winning playwright Gina Gionfriddo's ("Becky Shaw") latest work that The New York Times hails as "intensely smart and immensely funny." In the comedy, three generations of women share their experiences navigating work, love and family as they find happiness and conquer disappointment. The stellar cast is comprised of Amy Brenneman, Beth Dixon, Virginia Kull, Kellie Overbey and Lee Tergesen.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 14
Nicholas David @ The El Rey (Miracle Mile)
My son is addicted to "The Voice," and while most of the contestants fail to woo me, I absolutely fell in love with Nicholas David's pipes. His unique blend of soul, folk, R&B and country shines on his new EP, Say Goodbye, anchored by the buoyant title track. He heads out on the road with the Avett Brothers in the fall, but make sure to experience his performance in this intimate venue first.
At the EggSlut Truck In front of Handsome Coffee Roasters from noon- 4 p.m. Wed.-Thurs. & 9 a.m.-1 p.m. weekends 582 Mateo St., Los Angeles (Downtown Arts District)
"It was love at first bite," declares vocalist Charlie Cosser, as he recalls the first time a friend took him and his Charming Liars bandmates to EggSlut.
Since that day, the food truck has become such a frequent stop for the trio at the helm of the band – Charlie, guitarist Karnig Manoukian and bassist Mike Kruger – that most of EggSlut's staff knows them by name and even attends some of their shows. As soon as I meet them at the truck, which is parked in front of Handsome Coffee Roasters in the Downtown Arts District for the afternoon, the three musicians excitedly start describe each menu item, pointing out what they love most.
There's the Slut: pureed potato topped with a coddled egg, gray sea salt and chives served in a mason jar with toasted bread for dipping. Mike favors the sandwiches, like the popular Fairfax with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, Tillamook Cheddar, Sriracha mayo and chives. He orders a Sausage, Egg and Cheese Sandwich while Charlie raves about the Avo Burger, a 1/3-pound patty topped with caramelized onions, cheddar, Haas Avocado and an over-easy egg on a brioche bun. Today he opts for the Scrambled Slut (slow scrambled eggs with chives on a piece of toasted French bread) without the toast but with a sausage patty and salad, and Karnig and I follow his lead with regular Scrambled Sluts.
We take a seat inside Handsome Coffee Roasters to wait for our food and talk about the Charming Liars' transition from their native London to Los Angeles, their New Disorder EP that released this week and upcoming adventures with guitarist Nick Krein and drummer Zach Riel as part of the Uproar Festival and a national tour with Sick Puppies. It just takes a few moments for me to discover that the guys share the same saucy humor that their favorite food truck displays through its own moniker and menu item names.
"We're all pretty cheeky chaps," replies Charlie when I ask which band member is the most charming liar. "We may tell little white lies here and there, but no outrageous lies."
"We have used the one that we were in Oasis," interjects Karnig.
"When people assume you're in a band from England, you could be anyone. Karnig has even gotten the Wanted," Charlie laughs.
Aside from their cheekiness, the Brits also share the year of 2011 as being a particularly monumental one with EggSlut. Head chef Alvin Cailan began the food truck that year, and business has been doing so well that he and his partner Jeff Vales will be opening their first brick-and-mortar location in Grand Central Market in the fall. Two thousand eleven was also when the three childhood friends made the leap from the UK to West Hollywood.
"Karnig and I initially came for less than a week. We were in a band in the UK that wasn't really doing anything at the time and were getting frustrated with the scene in London. There was a producer who had been messaging us over MySpace, and we thought, 'Let's go for five days, if anything happens when we meet we'll look into it further, and if not, we know that we gave it a shot,'" Charlie remembers. "We got a development deal, so we came back for another three months – at which point Mike came with us. We could only come for 90 days at a time with our tourist visas, so we would come for 90-day period, go back to London for a bit and then come back for another 90-day period. When we got our record deal we knew we had to get our visas and commit to permanently relocating to Los Angeles."
"When we first moved out here a friend had a sublet that just happened to be just off Sunset Boulevard," Mike recalls. "It just happened to be the luck of the draw that we ended up in West Hollywood, and it had everything we needed."
"None of us could drive at the time because in London you don't really need to drive, so we came out without licenses. West Hollywood was quite a convenient area because you could walk to most places, stumble home from a bar, do the grocery shopping at Trader Joe's – you had all those things close to you," adds Charlie.
"Finding our L.A., our little niche, took a couple of months. We found EggSlut, favorite restaurants, bars, shops and finally it felt like our little version of a city," tells Mike. "Before, we were just stuck in West Hollywood or going to places that friends recommended. You need to find your own loves and your own hangs."
"To me, that really happened when I finally got my driver's license," Charlie continues. "At that point I wanted to explore everywhere: Downtown, Silver Lake, Venice, there was a hit list of places I needed to go to. We love Venice and First Fridays on Abbot Kinney – the food trucks! Even though we've been here for a while now and we do officially live here, we still try to approach it as tourists. We're constantly exploring and excited about new spots."
Although Charlie and Mike live in Hollywood and Karnig remains in WeHo, they rehearse in Silver Lake and spend a lot of time in Little Tokyo and the Arts District where EggSlut parks, especially on Saturday mornings. After our food is delivered and I taste the rich and creamy scrambled eggs, it's easy to see how the three confessed foodies could be lured across town for a bite. Aside from EggSlut's brunch specials, such as pan-seared salmon and caramelized Brussels sprouts with a poached egg and Hollandaise or Thai marinated chicken, a sunny side up egg and grilled eggplant covered in sriracha butter sauce and chives over a bed of basmati rice, the Charming Liars share some of their other L.A. favorites.
"There's a ramen place called Shin-Sen-Gumi that's really good, and we go there often," offers Charlie. "After we recorded our album, we hadn't played live in so long that we decided to book a bunch of gigs that were under the radar and no one would know about. The first one was at 2nd Street Jazz. We played to like three people then went and celebrated this incredible show [he chuckles] with ramen afterwards at Shin-Sen-Gumi."
"In London we don't get much Mexican food, so when we first came over here it was our introduction to L.A. Mexican food. There's a taco place in West Hollywood called Esquela that's really good," continues Charlie. " For food trucks, Kogi and the Grilled Cheese Truck. One of my other favorites is DinTaiFung, a dumpling house in Arcadia. I think it's the most satisfying meal there is to have."
After Mike chimes in with In-N-Out, Charlie replies, "It's once a month thing; we'll have rehearsal and on the way home go to In-N-Out. That's what I'm trying to find, the really good 24-hour, late-night food."
Aside from their passion for good food, the Charming Liars have always shared an obsession with music.
"Karnig and I have been going to school together since we were 9 and were in our first band together when we were 13. We met Mike when we were 15," Charlie recounts. "We were all playing sports, in school it was rugby, and at the age of 13 or 14 people started to get really big, and I didn't. I would get my ass kicked every Saturday on the field, so I needed a new hobby. Really quick, that turned into music."
"I needed to be obsessed with something. It was sport until I realized that I didn't have the natural talent that my favorite sports players did. Then I saw someone with a guitar one day and said, 'That looks like a hell of a lot of fun,'" Mike smiles. "We were all obsessed with music, whether it was songs, production or certain bands. These guys knew each other, but I didn't at the time, and we would end up going to the same shows."
"I was really into tennis and wanted to be a tennis player. Then my coach decided to move to Canada, and I was like, 'What do I do now,'" Karnig recalls. "If you like rock music, instantly you think I could play the drums, guitar, bass or sing."
"There's something accessible about falling in love with rock music and immediately wanting to start a band and thinking you can," Charlie agrees. "You don't even need to know who can play what, you decide before any of you can go get an instrument. Because I couldn't play an instrument, I automatically became the singer whether I could sing or not. So I'll be the singer, you be the bassist, you be the drummer – and then you've got a band, that's how some of the best bands start."
While Charlie remembers his first musical memories being of the pop variety – Michael Jackson, Usher and Backstreet Boys – at age 7, the three of them grew into pop punk and nu metal bands like System of a Down, Blink-182 and New Found Glory in their early teens.
"It wasn't easy to find new music," Karnig explains. "Your favorite rock bands were on the radio, on PureVolume or MySpace, that was it. The way to reach new bands wasn't as accessible as it is now."
"What I think played an integral part in all of our lives was this music video channel called Kerrang!, where all the bands would get their videos played. We would come home from school and put Kerrang! on; you would just live and die by the Kerrang! playlist," adds Mike. "You had to watch what they put on, so it opened your mind and introduced you to bands that you might not have given the time of day. You were opened up to music from different genres."
While the Charming Liars are undeniably a rock band, the producers that they were able to work with on the New Disorder EP and their upcoming debut album – Bob Rock (Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Nelly Furtado) and John Fields ( Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World, Miley Cyrus) – are indicative of the group's respect for all musical genres. Working with such prolific producers might have seemed daunting at first, but they quickly found both men to be vital to the finished EP and album.
Mike confesses, "Before we went in and met them there was a lot going on in my head. I think we all were having—"
"Mental diarrhea," Karnig finishes.
"You question your ability and wonder if you're good enough, but what was great about both of those producers was the way that they nurtured us and brought our performances out in different ways. They're both really good at what they do, and their track record really helped us listen to what they said. If someone says, 'Try that, there,' and they have the track record that Bob Rock does, you try it," Mike describes. "You would be amazed at some of the ideas that sound silly, but when you actually put them into practice and hear them in the midst of the rest of the song, it sounds great."
"We had all watched Some Kind of Monster and had stories about other bands who had worked with Bob Rock in our heads going in, but he ended up being so chill. We felt super comfortable around him," says Charlie.
The relaxed atmosphere going into the studio to record was a direct result of the pre-production period they spent with Rock.
"He had been busy working on Michael Buble's album, and he said, 'I can do this record, but I need you to come out to where I live in Hawaii,'" Mike says. "We thought maybe he would hire a studio, but when we got there we realized that he had built a small, basic studio in the kitchen of his house. It was such a great environment to work in. It was very relaxing, there wasn't any sort of ego; there wasn't a chance for any when we were all in shorts."
"Since that was the first experience of working with him, when we eventually took those ideas into the big studios in L.A. and Vancouver to lay down the tracks,there wasn't that intimidation of walking into a huge room with all the equipment. We had been chilling in a bungalow with no air-conditioning for the last two weeks, so we knew each other pretty well," Charlie laughs.
The three long-time friends will get to know each other even better over the next few months together on the road with Sick Puppies and the Uproar Festival, during which they are excited to check out performances from Coheed and Cambria in particular. They are also eager to visit places like Chicago and Seattle.
"We're making a list of eateries and planning out all of our food stops," Charlie admits. "Toronto, New Orleans and New York are going to be awesome."
"It's like a road trip that we're going on, such an American thing to do. This country's so vast with many different cultures within it, and I can think of no better way to seeing it all than how we're going to. Seeing the landscape change is something I don't think any of us are mentally prepared for yet; it's going to be very eye-opening. Even just based on all the food places we want to go to, every area has its own special dish – that's going to be exciting. We're just going to have to watch our food intake!"
The Charming Liars are also excited to share the New Disorder EP with new audiences and have just premiered a video for the title track, their first single. Directed by Kyle Padilla, the video features three hot nuns tracking down evil throughout Los Angeles.
"We wanted to do something risqué, but fun and dark, too. It was actually a little bit more extreme than it turned out. We had to pull it in a bit, otherwise it wouldn't be played anywhere. It was shot over three days at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley where parts of Django Unchained were filmed. We also filmed in Chinatown, Malibu and Downtown," Charlie shares. "'New Disorder' is a kick-in-the-teeth rock song, a good official introduction, but once people hear the EP and eventually the rest of the album they'll see there are different sides to it, that it goes on a journey and that there are different grooves that not a lot of bands in our genre would normally do. It takes a couple of risks."
Taking risks has never been disconcerting for the Charming Liars, whether it's with their music or their lives in deciding to move the States from England. Another of the New Disorder EP's tracks, "Break Away," describes their philosophy of not wasting another day when it comes to the pursuit of their passions.
"It's actually the only song that we wrote in the UK that made it onto the album, and it was written at that point of us deciding to come over. There were a lot of things that we were tied down to – relationships, family stuff, school, jobs – that were holding us back from pursuing what we wanted to do," says Charlie. "We thought that it would be a good song to introduce listeners to the band and give a taste of the album, which is why we put it on the EP."
"There are memories and emotions attached to all of the songs," Mike admits. "We hadn't played a show by the time we finished recording, and we wondered if the songs would work live. There have definitely been some moments recently when we've been playing where you just look around at your mates and hear the songs sounding better than you could possibly imagined, and it justifies all of our decisions. It could have been very easy not to take this chance and leave home, but I'm glad that we did."
The New Disorder EP is currently available. Charming Liars perform Sept. 12 at House of Blues Anaheim and at the Uproar Festival Sept. 13 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. For more information, visit charmingliars.com.