By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Leisure Noise, the band's debut album, features 10 songs in 47 minutes, highlighted by their recent U.K. Top 10 hit "To Earth With Love," which advises listeners to "get your platforms on" and that "Aerosmith rules!" Speaking of offbeat lyrics, "Oh Jim" and "Different Kind of Blue" appear to address the sort of sexual-identity issues you might expect from a band whose members include a female guitarist named Charley Stone. (Drummer Nicholas "Baz" Crowe and keyboardist/guitarist James Risebero complete the lineup.)
Polished production aside -- and listening to this shiny beast is not unlike watching someone building ships in bottles -- the rest of the best 'n' brightest moments come on the self-explanatory "Joy!"; the full-tilt, retro-rockin', music-is-my-life "Dateline"; the character-driven "My Son Mystic"; and the memory-still-haunts-my-reverie "Pathfinder." Elsewhere, "Dimstar" lives up to its title; the moody, midtempo "Black Ghost" meanders around to no great effect; and "Jesus Christ" (an original hymn, played straight-faced à la the Velvet Underground's "Jesus," recorded back when Lou Reed was still good) will have you saying just that.
In the U.K., where the words "limp biscuit" thankfully still refer to an underdone cookie, records like this have as good a shot at the toppermost of the poppermost as any surgically enhanced ex-Mouseketeer's. Here in America, people will either find it insufferably bloodless and twee, or they'll want to fall asleep each night with a copy tucked underneath one of their Union Jack pillows, the reverse side of which has been lovingly embroidered with the legend, "Gay Dad, one of England's stately homos." (Don Waller)
CHILLDRIN OF DA GHETTO (Priority)
This ear candy from brand-nubian trio Chilldrin of Da Ghetto is a full-on plunge into superfast word-shred -- syllable-torquing, alternately compressed 'n' stretched verbiage that's irritating at first but ends up as addictive as the crew's head-nodding rhythms.
CDG's motormouth flow contrasts severely with their languid beats (thumpy snail's-pace kick-drum behind crackly snare, smoldering like a spit-soaked blunt), samples and sonorities (jangly guitar, syrupy R&B piano, spooky keyboards), and at times it's pretty, at others it's Cliché City. The most cynical track, "Intention To Kill," is speech-tic catchy with its mock stutter. Lyrically, the tune seems to glorify mindless thuggery, until Problem Child, Bad Seed and Goldiiz belt out "Gotta get away!" over gauzy organ and funereal harpsichord. In "Luv at First Sight," Problem Child matter-of-factly recounts a virgin's defrocking, whereupon a pang of conscience makes him ask, "Should I pass this up?" before his homies cut in with a resounding "Hell, naw!" On the earnest tip, "Wilde Side"'s refrain, "Nigga, you got your health/you got your strength," warns knucklehead gangbangers -- whether in lockdown or sipping Dom with Versace-clad hoochies -- to appreciate just being alive. "Drug Lord" takes life on Chicago's South Side and boils it down to its heartbreaking essence with the line "Gotta go by the crib and explain to moms why I'm gettin' high/It's self-explanatory: I'm black and I'm unda pressure." With that reality check taken care of, we welcome the sonically awful but spiritually uplifting "Party," which kicks off with the sound of bubbly spilling into champagne flutes to high-volume shout-outs of "par-tay!" Considering their dark tales and sadder-but-wiser reflections, this bit of escapist mirth is a well-deserved respite -- these kids will take it where they can get it. (Andrew Lentz)
JAZZ VESPERS At First Lutheran Church, Glendale, October 17
Glendale's First Lutheran Church is home to one of those open, modern edifices and ministries that began to arise during the ecumenical movement of the '60s. The church's cross is big and simple, with no twisted, tortured, lanced and bleeding image of the crucified Christ. More than just a fashion, the modern visual presentation symbolizes a de-emphasis on guilt (look what we did to Him) and blame (look what they did to Him), and a shift toward a more abstract spirituality that can respect the genuine strivings of religions throughout the world. Pianist Shelly Berg's version of jazz vespers (an idea that originated in Greenwich Village) fits right into the concept, bringing an improvisational, individualized art form into a context where the union of various elements is encouraged.
In addition to Berg's small ensemble (saxist Benny Maupin, drummer Aaron Serfaty, bassist Tom Warrington, vocalist Tierney Sutton), this special World Festival of Sacred Music program featured a choir drawn from three local units, and scriptural readings by representatives of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. The music offered gentle, tuneful interpretations of compositions by Berg, Horace Silver and the Beatles, among others, with only Maupin's hallucinatory solo on the Duke Ellington standard Caravanpushing the edge (and getting an exceptional audience response). Since the event's rubric was peace and harmony, it's probably fitting that Berg didn't venture into the kind of proud thunder that the host religion's founder pealed forth in his most famous musical effort, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Still, a little more passion wouldn't have hurt.
The readings -- interpreted in Berg's music by the combo and choir -- were a nice touch. Especially notable for its non-Christian slant was the Buddhist notion that "All phenomena are made of the mind." And I will take to heart the Koran's admonition "Let no man mock another man, who may perhaps be better than himself." But I admit I was confused by another passage from the same selection (49:10): "Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would loathe it." I encourage any reader who can offer an explication to contact me care of this paper. (Greg Burk)