The Mae Shi jump start the night with some fresh blood. They'll be at the Smell in downtown Jan. 3rd, 2008.
The Adolescents get the pit rockin! The hardcore fans swallowed this set a little easier than the Germs set with the "actor" in the vocal slot. Frank Agnew, Jr. on guitar. (Uncle Frank Agnew is listed as the current guitarist, but the kid was young)
On first listen, Jens Lekman reminds you of Morrissey. Like the ex-Smith's frontman, the 26-year old Swede's got a rich baritone warble, a sly wit and a penchant for moony-eyed romanticism. But that's where the similarities stop. Lekman's the sort who'd write a song ("A Postcard to Nina") about posing as the boyfriend of his lesbian friend while on vacation in Berlin. If a girl from Berlin asked Morrissey to do something like that, he'd probably laugh at her, tell her she was fat and head to the local leather club.
You'd want Jens Lekman to date your sister. He's completely non-threatening, sharply-dressed and witty. The kind of
guy chap who has no problem telling the media that he's in "love with being in love." This is probably because of Lekman is Swedish, and let's be honest, we'd all be pretty stoked too if we had six weeks of vacation, universal health care, good cheap vodka, and 6-foot tall blonde bombshells around every korner. But what separates Lekman from other sappy singer-songwriters is his sense of humanity. He doesn't blame his lesbian friend's father for his bigotry. Instead, he's a "sweet old man who just can't understand." With its nostalgic longing, "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo" reminds you of a Swedish version of The Talking Heads' "The Big Country." Yet rather than sneering "I wouldn't live there if you paid me," Lekman dreams of bringing some friends out to the country and turning the clock back to 1952. Sure it's a tad Vanilla, but give the guy a break, what's he supposed to do, complain about much he hates Ikea?
I think Graduation is the 19th best record of the year but I still kind of hate it. This is partially because I am a "hater" (maybe), but also partially because anything by Kanye West is surprisingly easy to hate. Accordingly, there are any number of gripes that you might have with Graduation. "Drunk and Hot Girls" has by now probably been used in 43 fraternity date rapes. It features Chris Martin, which makes it 33 percent more boring. It features more synths than a Depeche Mode record, which makes it 66 percent more gay. And lyrically, Kanye's never been this simplistic. I mean "Let's get lost tonight/you could be my black Kate Moss tonight?" Really?
But over-ambition has always been West's trademark and Graduation is no different, containing as much brilliance as it is has hubris. Blessed with the ability to tap into the main vein of the zeitgeist, Kanye mixes and mashes everything everything from Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne to Daft Punk and Michael Jackson, to Steely Dan and Can, to Jay-Z and DJ Premier. If the hoary cliche reads that there's something for everyone, Graduation is the rare record that actually delivers. On the mic, Kanye is still never going to be anyone's favorite MC, but he's improved with time. Most importantly, he's learned how to minimize his flaws and maximize his strengths. Even if he's still arrogant enough to brag that you can't tell him nothing, at the very least, Graduation is good enough for him to have earned that right.
25. Wu-Tang Clan-8 Diagrams [SRC/Loud]
8 Diagrams is east coast hardcore rap that doesn't sound like
There are no accessible monsters on here like “Criminology” or “Bring The Pain.” Then again, this isn’t another Cappadonna album or a return to Bobby Digital. 8 Diagrams doesn’t fit into a world of iPods and individual downloads. From the opening dialogue on “Campfire” to the heartfelt, albeit too long, closer “Life Changes,” it demands your full attention. Whereas the best example of Wu-Tang’s glory days is found on the new Ghostface album The Big Doe Rehab, the future of what Wu-Tang and all its members could be walks quietly throughout 8 Diagrams. That is if they ever stop bitching.-Zilla
It takes a certain type of record to truly feel right in Los Angeles. Something shapeless, druggy and dumb. This is it. For about two weeks earlier this month, I drove around town bumping nothing but Wooden Shjips. It seemed to cause everything to move in slow motion, weird chanting and sinister organs and heavy traffic, extraordinarily stoned, this turned up loud. Hanging my head at the failed reality stars and all the iron and concrete until I was ready to scream, this album was the only thing capable of pacifying me. It allowed me to breathe and I'm not sure if it would or could make as much sense anywhere else. In their wild-eyed haze Wooden Shjips somehow captured the fuzzy neon drone and soft apocalypse of wintertime Los Angeles. I suppose I should send them a fruit basket or maybe just an eighth.
All photos by Timothy Norris. More after the jump.
Joe Strummer Tribute,
Key Club, December 22
Words and photos by Aimee Candaleria
Three Bad Jacks pay tribute to Strummer.
This evening a packed house came to the Key Club in remembrance of Joe Strummer who passed away five years ago on this day. Had he not died, Strummer would have been 55 this year, and most likely still playing clubs and making records.
Joe Strummer's passion and energy was very much beyond his years, and even five years so, for many of us at tonight's tribute, we can still feel the great loss ofsuch an influential man no longer with us. As John Lennon may have been to those a bit older, for my generation, he was someone whose message was heard and understood by many people, races, and cultures - a message undiluted by his passing.
The crowd was a mix of generations that would have made Strummer proud: ‘ol school 70’s punks reliving the fierceness of their youth to an eclectic mix of teens and twenty-somethings who were there because it was a night for Joe and to celebrate what punk means to them. The bands' wide-ranging sound made a nice complement to the crowd's diversity.
Ozomatli, Weapon of Choice
House of Blues, 12/20
I know it’s been said before but I’ll say it again: If heaven had to spit out a party band, it would be Ozomatli. They are the reigning kings of feel-good L.A. roots music. Aside from one lady in a black halter top and spike heels who was throwing up in the restroom, absolutely everyone was having a good time. Tre Hardson (formerly of Pharcyde) had an ear to ear grin and shiny nuclear glow that commanded the show from first note. Limbs flailing, smashing a tambourine, Hardson danced right on time with guitarist Raul Pacheco and fellow vocalists Justin Poree and Asdru Sierra.
Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.
The dancing—that’s something I’ve always found impressive about Ozomatli. Not many acts out there are tough enough to warrant attention with hip-hop fans, yet simultaneously home-fried and sweet enough to incorporate a prominent brass section, swirl their guitars around in sync with little choreographed dance moves, and be totally smiley and ebullient. Besides the crowd’s vast multiethnic make-up (typical for Ozomatli shows), it was also clearly multigenerational. A common trope was the tattooed father drinking and dancing with his tattooed son and/or daughter. If I was queen of L.A. I would make the City's anti-gang force attend more Ozomatli concerts so they could harvest a few cues on bridging racial divides.
Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.
Isthat good or was that mediocre? They're suprisingly surprisingly similar when you think about it--a handful of absolutely
great songs coupled with some average tracks (by Jstandards). But it's undeniably more exciting to hear mediocre songs in the vein of Reasonable Doubt like "Say Hello" and "Sweet" compared to the US Weekly escapades of " " and "I Made it" from " ."
Oh yeah, and Mr. Carter aka The GOAT (yeah, I said it) comes through to smash all contenders . Hip hop single of the year "Roc Boys" is only four joints away from quotable of the year "Ignorant Shit." Observe how Jay murders Nas on...Jay's own shit via "Success." And with the exception of the out of place Zillaappearance on "Hello Brooklyn 2.0," this movie-inspired soundtrack uses high-profile cameos ( , Kanye, Beans, Cassie, Bilal) like actors for specific roles. This is one of most focused major label hip hop albums of the year. And there's no sign of Chris Martin! L'chaim!-
29. Citay-Little Kingdom [Dead Oceans]
If I were Citay I'd go the jam band route. Fuck all this freak-folk, indie credibility shit. Didn't you guys get the memo? Hipsters don't like guitars anymore. Hipsters want two dancing gnomes clad in neon, one from Sri Lanka, the other from Austria, who make afro-pop influenced minimalist techno. But if the jam-band nation ever wrapped their ears around Citay's golden state psychedelia it would be over in five bong rips flat. Trust. There's a moment in the middle of "A Riot of Color," the third song on Little Kingdom, when frontman, Ezra Feinberg, uncorks a amber-colored guitar line eerily reminiscent of jam Buddha, Jerry Garcia. It's a song possessed by an other-worldly beauty, with a tangerine Led Zeppelin III-type acoustic foundation that lets Feinberg's Spaceman Spliff flights breathe. Citay are the kind of band that can only come from San Francisco. All bay area breeze, mellow sunshine and edge of the continent infinity. So c'mon hippies, I know there's a few of you out there reading this, put down your String Cheese records, prepare your finest bowl of sour diesel, throw on a set of headphones and turn Little Kingdom up--loud.
Ryan Adams - Royce Hall, Jan. 30 & 31
Dave Alvin - McCabe's Jan. 18 & 19
Autechre - Echo, April 4
Bad Religion - House of Blues, April 4 & 5
Big Sandy, Deke Dickerson - Safari Sam's, Dec. 28
Black Heart Procession - Spaceland, Jan. 11
Black Mountain - Troubadour, Feb. 5
Built to Spill, Meat Puppets - Feb. 22 & 23 (all ages, 8 p.m.)
Circle Jerks - Henry Fonda, Jan. 4
The Cool Kids - Echo, Jan. 19
Nikka Costa - Roxy, Dec. 30
DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist - Wiltern Feb. 15 and House of Blues Anaheim Feb. 14
Dead Meadow - Echo, Feb. 5
Do we need to count down backwards? For a change, why not start with the best and just work our way back to the merely excellent. Frankly, when you get past the top four or five we're probably just talking about fractions of fractions, and the incorrect predilections of taste by our comrades, you know?
1. Detour - Justice, Kinky, Shout Out Louds, Satellite Party, Raveonettes, Patton Oswalt, Bloc Party..., downtown, October 7
Of course it was #1. Last year's Detour may have had bigger marquee names, but this year featured just one excellent band after another, with a huge variety of sounds and styles, and the fun of wandering around downtown LA for hours on end.
2. White Stripes, Tower Records, June 20
Christmas has come early. Peppermint-striped cigarette girls hawking dildo-sized candy canes and other White Stripes mementos circled the crowd. The other Jack, Jack Black, introduced the duo.
Then Jack and Meg unleashed a performance ferocious enough to crumble the building to its foundation a good few months before its slated demolition (as was the gossip throughout the night).
(photos by Timothy Norris)
3. Morrissey - Hollywood Bowl, June 8
There were the concerts in Pasadena and the weird multi-night mess at the Palladium as well, but it was the show at the Bowl that seemed to come together best for Moz. He might have played LA more than Spoon this year.
Photo by Timothy Norris. Click here for more.
From Siran Babyan's review: "Wearing a white suit as if he were a killer shark sniffing meat-infested blood, Morrissey opened his third local date with a bang, ripping into “The Queen is Dead” while a backdrop of black-and-white James Dean (the king of all cool iconography) pictures watched over him. All the Smiths' pickin's were ripe, including the yodel-licious “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side,” where he sounds like he's climbing a mountain with the von Trapp family, and Johnny Marr's psychedelic opus “How Soon Is Now?,” which current skinsman Matthew Walker turned into a thunderous powwow. In fact, all the songs were given an extra razzle-dazzle 'em effect: sleazy horns here, more wah wah guitar there. Morrissey's also wise about the solo material he's faithful to, from perennial early classics “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” to newer cuts off his last two recent albums, including “Irish Blood, English Heart,” “The First of the Gang to Die” and “In the Future When All's Well,” which easily stand out as some of his best.
Many more after the jump.
When music critics scoff that Wilco are "dad-rock," they're absolutely right. Sort of. My dad only listens to sports radio and Israeli gypsy pop, a genre that sounds like a hybrid between Gogol Bordello and a cat slaughterhouse. Wilco are actually my mom's favorite band. She's got every one of their albums stretching all the way back to Uncle Tupelo. (This was my work, after I grew tired of hearing her proselytize the gospels of Dwight Yoakam and George Strait)
Then the other day, apropos to nothing, she told me that she still liked Sky Blue Sky, but found it a lot more boring than the rest of the band's work. I couldn't exactly argue. Ever since he stopped popping pills like Fat Elvis on Spring Break and got rid of the migraines, Jeff Tweedy's been in a sort of amiable anomie, penning lyrics about folded jeans, mowing the lawn and learning to do laundry. It's a little dull. Hell, my cat is napping to Sky Blue Sky as we speak. But despite the occasional banality, Tweedy and the dream-team backing band that is Wilco, 2007, are just too talented not to be able to redeem the lyrical malaise. Yeah, it lacks the ambition of Wilco's earlier material, but Sky Blue Sky remains an impeccably recorded, well-crafted album from one of the finest working bands of its generation. And I'm sure when I'm 50, it'll be a great album to mow the lawn to.
Even the positive notices for Turn the Lights Out seemed begrudging. Chalk it up to the potential The Ponys flashed on their 2004 debut, Laced With Romance, which skated in in just the nick in time to get lumped into the dying days of the "garage-rock movement." But rather than please critics with a bunch of atonal guitar-freak outs that reflected their "inner rage," against the "system," the Ponys have kept it simple, still mining Television and Sonic Youth for inspiration, complete with heavy gnashing guitar riffs, a CBGB fast rhythm section and aloof punk-inflected vocals. On record, it might seem a little too polished and mannered for the experimentally inclined, but live their sludgy guitars and head-banger volume attack with such a flesh-melting intensity that you can't help but be floored. Plus, the album cover might be top 10 this year.