Life is pressing down, but here’s something nice and upbeat for you tonight. From Australia, it’s Xavier Rudd. His latest album is Spirit Bird (on SideOneDummy). More about him when I have a little more time. Peace out.
Month: January 2013
“Where We Are Now” by David Bowie (the original vimeo wouldn’t let me embed, so thank you SparkyHughes33 on YT)
Happy Birthday, David Bowie. For his 66th birthday, he’s decided to give all of us a surprise present—a brand new song after nearly a decade of musical silence. “Where Are We Now” is a harrowing ‘state of the planet’ assessment, viewed from a place where he probably felt most, if you’ll forgive the New Ageism, “grounded”—his time spent in Berlin in the late 1970s. The song is produced by long-time collaborator Tony Visconti and the video, directed by Tony Oursler, is disturbingly stunning. It features footage from that time, of his old Berlin neighborhood, mixed in with scenes from a cluttered loft, David and an unknown companion in the guise of sad and neglected children’s dolls, and enough cryptic imagery to keep a team of psychoanalysts happily engaged for decades. It’s a beautifully orchestrated, lyrically wistful, piano and strings-driven stroll through a winter forest of melancholia. Welcome back, David.
If this song out of nowhere isn’t enough to leave one breathless, there’s also a new studio album called “The Next Day” (his first since 2003), to be released on March 8 (Australia) and March 12 (U.S.) on Columbia Records. The album will feature 14 songs, and a deluxe edition will include three bonus tracks. No word yet on if there will be any tour. His last stage performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006. In other Bowie news, Victoria and Albert Museum in London will have a major exhibition dedicated to him, which opens on March 23.
This is going to be quite a year.share this:
Some very sad news tonight. One of my favorite Eastside L.A. bands, The Deadly Syndrome have called it quits (band announcement). As I just reported in my ‘infamous roundup’ of those marvelous bands of Silver Lake, Echo Park and surrounding areas, The Deadly Syndrome released their third full length album last year, All In Time, and I was looking forward to seeing what they had planned for 2013, and especially if they’d be (finally) touring on the East Coast. Alas, that wasn’t to be.
However, rather than mourn, let’s celebrate the great music they gave us. Some of my personal favorites from their debut album The Ortolan were “Wolves in the Garden,” “Eucalyptus” and “Animals Wearing Clothes.” As for their follow-up, Nolens Volens, I named it as a favorite in the Ryan’s Smashing Life 2010 Album Buyers Guide. What I said was this: “Quirky, fun and folky on their debut, The Deadly Syndrome dips into more adventurous (though still melodic) waters and pushes their sound into new places. Lyrically thereâ€™s an increased self-awareness and edgier quality that shows a band in transitional growth.” On “All In Time,” they were still pushing boundaries and trying new things, not content to rehash previous successes.
It’s been a supreme challenge to see my beloved Eastside L.A. bands in the flesh, though I’ve been very fortunate, considering the 3,000 mile chasm. I had the great pleasure of seeing The Deadly Syndrome—along with The Union Line and Earlimart—at a curious little venue in the oft-maligned Orange Country, the Slide Bar in Fullerton (Bostonians, it would be analogous to seeing an Allston band performing in Saugus).
As I don’t see “The Ortolan” on their bandcamp, I’ll leave you with their latest. I’m sure they had their reasons not to include it. They probably just wanted to move on. Go ahead and buy it. You’ll thank me.
To The Deadly Syndrome—thank you for being one of the three bands who played a now legendary gig at Spaceland back in December of 2008. Just hearing about that show started me on a long, wonderful musical odyssey where I would be totally knocked out by many fine bands. My very best wishes to you in all your future endeavors.share this:
Meet Great Caesar, a sextet from Brooklyn, New York. They’ve just released a new EP, Scattered Air. Consider them ‘indie rock big band’ with a bit of a lyrical dark streak. It’s a huge sound and yes, it’s rather anthemic (though I dislike the term) and will likely garner the expected comparisons, but no, I won’t. I’ll just say it’s epic and grand, with guitars, crashing percussion, triumphant horns and exuberant harmonies. There’s also a strong jazzy flavor and a charming retro feel (“Fact,” “Rearview”). Having said all that, my favorite track on the 4-song EP is “Son,” which is much more low key and shuffles along, featuring some lovely vocals, a seductive sax line and a crashing frenzy of guitar and horns. Just beautiful. They’ll be performing on Friday, January 25 at Stella Blues in New Haven, CT.
Enjoy this live acoustic version of “Son,” performed in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Same rules apply. If the last update was last summer and not a word since then, I’m going to call the band MIA and assumed gone or on extended hiatus, unless I hear otherwise. Confirmed as defunct: Shadow Shadow Shade and Walking Sleep.
We continue now with the rest of our roundup. Good night, and good luck. >>share this:
That’s right, I don’t have Part II done yet. For now, enjoy the lovely folky tones of Sarah Negahdari‘s solo project, Pisces. She was really busy in 2012, with The Happy Hollows, Pisces—and oh yeah, a little bass-playing stint with Silversun Pickups. And I see that The Happy Hollows will have a new album out this year. But more about that soon.share this:
Hello fellow Eastside L.A. enthusiasts. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve done this (February, to be exact), so it’s time. My rules for inclusion are as follows: the band has to have had something vaguely resembling an update within the past few months or some clear indication that they have not in fact broken up or gone into semi-hibernation.
By those standards, the following bands are “MIA” and presumed gone (if not, please let me know): Autolux, Death To Anders (but see below) and Just An Animal (formerly Red Cortez; see Harley Cortez and Calvin Love solo projects below).
I have also decided, after this update, to let go of those bands who have defected to Brooklyn (or other parts), but I will of course continue to cover my favorites separately. So without further ado >>share this:
In the interest of making a noble attempt to post daily, I’m reporting in to say that I’m currently working on my infamous “Eastside L.A. Roundup” for 2013. In the meantime, let me give you two bands who put out great albums in 2012—Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Silversun Pickups. Those links will take you to reviews I did on Ryan’s Smashing Life. That’s all for now, but stay tuned for much more.share this:
It’s a good thing I held off posting this, because I’ve just made it an even dozen in honor of the year that just flew by, 2012. The last one? A band I had the immense pleasure of seeing for the first time, on First Night just last night at the majestic Symphony Hall. [Why do they call it “First Night”? Shouldn’t it be “Last Night”?]
I saw a total of 24 shows this year. Not a whole lot for a music blogger, but I’ll tell you—nearly all of them were spectacular. That’s damn good odds. I’ve heard some people say that 2012 was an awful year. What I’ll say, from my personal perspective, is this: 2012 was a year of massive challenges and difficulties, but the rewards, if you were prepared to step up, and I mean step up in a major way, were equally impressive. It was most definitely not a year for lightweights. But it’s all moving forward, and it’s moving forward quickly. Hold on to something sturdy, because I have a feeling 2013 is going to be just as intense. Remember, with challenge comes opportunity. Happy New Year, everyone.share this: