Read 'n' Roll
Ever since La Luz de Jesus/Wacko started holding regular signing parties for the published works of hot L.A.-based music writers and photogs, it's been nearly impossible for us to walk out without dropping a wad. See, we're kinda addicted to rock books. Not so long ago, Nightranger wrote about shutterbug Robert Matheu's Creem book-release bash at the Silver Lake space, and though we still think the tome is gorgeous-looking, our initial enthusiasm for it has dwindled after diving in. There are some awesome photos, amusing profiles, and a sprinkling of written works by prominent contributors like Lester Bangs and Cameron Crowe, but for a "retrospective," it's not especially enlightening in a historical context, a fact that key players such as former editor Dave Marsh and Connie Kramer (wife of the mag's deceased founder, Barry Kramer) have taken serious issue with on various Web message boards. This, coupled with the lawsuit involving Breakfast With the Beatles' Chris Carter and Barry's son JJ Kramer over a Creem partnership agreement gone sour (or, they claim, unhonored), has left a bad taste in many mouths (and it ain't cheap beer). Kramer and Matheu even scuffled at the New York book-signing party at the John Varvatos store a few months ago. Not too cool, but it is kinda rock & roll...
The Creem book's immodest subtitle, America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine, ain't exactly accurate anyway, and another chronicle based on a seminal rock pub, Bomp: Saving the World One Record at a Time, proves it. La Luz hosted the book signing for this more comprehensive page-turner a couple of weeks ago with authors Mick Farren and Suzy Shaw (wife of Bomp's dearly departed mastermind Greg Shaw), and the occasion, which also featured an acoustic performance by The Last's Joe and Mike Nolte, brought out a jovial crowd of Shaw pals and admirers, including "label whore"Jim Freek, Silver Lake scene queen Kari French and DJ Audrey Moorehead (who spun after the band). The book covers Shaw's journalistic endeavors, which extend from his LSD-enhanced explorations of San Francisco's scene in the '60s to the insider critiques of later music styles such as N.Y. punk and Brit pop (all photocopied straight from his zines Mojo Navigator and Who Put the Bomp) to Shaw's role as "guru of the new garage scene" with Bomp record-label signees the Black Keys, the Warlocks and, of course, the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It's a fittingly raw and passionate tribute.
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Doing time in the BJM is practically mandatory for L.A. musicians disposed to hippie/trippy Stonesy/stoner-inspired sounds, and last Saturday we caught another great band with Jonestown ties: wicked Western-rock outfit Spindrift, who opened for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Safari Sam's. The atmospheric group has more than a few Massacre alums in it, but that's where the similarities pretty much end. Though we're not a fan of the nouveau-cowpoke scene, Spindrift's cinematic sonic approach has an imposing quality that makes them unique. Which is probably why Quentin Tarantino chose one of their songs for Hellride, a new biker-themed film he produced that just premiered at Sundance. Another grindhouse-style flick inspired by and featuring all of the band's music (the soundtrack actually came before the movie), The Legend of God's Gun, was just picked up for worldwide distribution too. Spindrift also just got back from hangin' with the psycho-delic scruffster scene's most decadent denizens, the Dandy Warhols, where they contributed to the Portland band's revolving-door music project (in which visiting rock stars lay tracks and jam over other artists' creations, making multilayered supergroup jams). BRMC, also part of this shaggy slacker clique, are said to have contributed as well.
We've seen Black Rebel countless times, and their Sam's show (they played the Key Club the night before) was what we've come to expect from the trio: swagger-filled grooves with touches of tap-happy twang and, of course, that enigmatic lighting (or lack thereof) punched with intermittent flashes of epileptic-seizure-inducing strobe. It never gets old, mainly because the band are so damn tight. The place wasn't even crowded compared to other shows we've seen at Sam's, but that didn't stop the fire marshal from shutting it down before the set was complete. They played long, so it wasn't a big deal. The authorities shoulda stayed around: We hear BRMC's manager had some fun in the parking lot later (by the way, how strange is it to see a valet in such close vicinity to the 99 Cents Only store?) popping fireworks. That band always did know how to have a blast.
Bored of the Dance
So another year has gone by, and Nightranger has yet to experience the sordid display of greed and glam that is Sundance. We won't lie, we dig swag as much as the next gal, and we were more than a little tempted to hightail it over to Utah when we got invites for "gifting suites" (guess the tax trouble these caused is a thing of the past?), parties and pop-up versions of L.A. clubs like Hyde, Teddy's and The Green Door, but the near-zero temps were a definite drawback. Heck, L.A.'s recent cold spell made club hopping challenging. Anyway, we can see Paris pucker random rats like Jared Leto right here. (She did get on the mike and announce that she wanted to fuck everyone at Banana Split Sundays at LAX recently.) One interesting anecdote: After Scott Weiland missed his plane for a Velvet Revolver gig out there, we hear the band was forced to call and text every crooner in Park City, including Cisco Adler, Donovan Leitch and unknown singer Matthew Moon, to front the supergroup for the eve. A big break for the last dude, and quite the spectacle, say our pals... Oh, and there were some movies or something playing up there too.