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The '80s Were Amazing

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Flux Capacitors - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • The Flux Capacitors

In a small backyard in North Hollywood on a recent night, it's 1985.

In between sips of Coors Light, the Flux Capacitors, the band, are turning on the flux capacitor inside the DeLorean that accompanies them at their live shows. (It's a real flux capacitor. Or at least, it’s as real as the one that launched Doc and Marty into the continuum in Back to the Future, which is to say, not very.)

Smoke flies out of the DeLorean’s backside as the group poses for photos, in costume, around the retro ride. Marty McFly adjusts his wig, as his mom pulls down her skirt. As the camera flashes, someone — maybe the band’s own Doc Brown— shouts, “Great Scott!” Everyone laughs.

It’s this attention to detail that separates the Back to the Future-themed cover band from its peers on southern California’s surprisingly-expansive ‘80s circuit. Every band’s got a niche, but this one’s got a DeLorean. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Bernard Sumner - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • Bernard Sumner
Even with a couple new tracks in recent years, there’s not much that’s “new” about New Order, and their fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Last night’s show at the Greek Theatre offered all the nostalgic bliss one would expect from the seminal British band, complimented by big trippy visuals and referential footage from their biggest hits and videos.

Yes, Bernard Sumner is looking old, and this version of the band is missing key member Peter Hook. But they managed to overcome both of these unfortunate details early in the set when they busted out a beauteous version of “Ceremony,” arguably their most meaningful and memorably melancholy piece of music. It’s the tune that served as a transition from the band’s original guise as Joy Division, after all.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

By David Von Bader

Today, as I walked through a grocery store, 'Til Tuesday's sole major hit, "Voices Carry," gently wafted down from the speakers dangling off of the exposed girders overhead. It's a nearly-forgotten jam from yesteryear that most listeners gloss over with ease, a brief moment in a playlist intended to pacify the minds of the masses scouring box stores for necessities and diversions. A track most likely thrown in the queue for the sake of nostalgia and a digestibility that won't ruffle the feathers of any particular age group with its dreamy, innocuous textures.

Perhaps it was depression. Maybe it was the way the song's cascading synth line permeated through the store with the novel sounds of a future past. Maybe it was the palpable desperation in Aimee Mann's vocals mirroring the desperation that plagued a nearby woman's face as she compared nutrition facts between assorted boxes of Kashi cereal.

Whatever the case, the song struck hard, and the moment was a singular halting of time, a halting of time that granted me the clarity to realize that I am in love with the '80s iteration of Aimee Mann.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Prince at the Hollywood Palladium in March - COURTESY NPG RECORDS
  • Courtesy NPG Records
  • Prince at the Hollywood Palladium in March
Your copy of Purple Rain sounds terrible.

That's no knock against the music, that urgent neon bug-funk zeitgeist bomb Prince straddled and launched and screamed on as it blew up the world, kind of like what Slim Pickens did to that nuke in Dr. Strangelove, but with more cream.

That music still stirs and kills and baffles. Purple Rain is so great that "Purple Rain" itself might not even be its best ballad.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E and DJ Yella of N.W.A. in 1990, near their studio in Torrance, California. Originally appeared in the book "Rap!" by Janette Beckman and Bill Adler. - JANETTE BECKMAN
  • Janette Beckman
  • Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E and DJ Yella of N.W.A. in 1990, near their studio in Torrance, California. Originally appeared in the book "Rap!" by Janette Beckman and Bill Adler.
Janette Beckman's lens somehow always seems to always capture the intersection of gritty and cool. Born in London, England, Janette is a product of the '70s punk movement. Like the music and lifestyle her art embodied, she soon crossed the ocean to New York, and has lived there since the top of the '80s. Almost 35 years later, Janette has amassed portraits of rockers, rappers, painters, gangsters and more than a few would-be music moguls in the form of Rick Rubin, Dr. Dre and Russell Simmons. Regardless of who her subject is, Janette seems to find the honesty as well as the style in people. If the camera won't show it, the jovial photographer's anecdotes surely will. Beginning April 17th, select photos of Beckman's are featured in HVW8 Art + Design Gallery (661 N. Spalding) in an exhibition called Rebel Cultures: Punks, Rap & Gangs, sponsored in part by Diamond Supply Co.

For the opening, Janette traveled back to L.A. 31 years after her first trip (prominently featured in the curation). Gallery goers included Curt Smith of Tears for Fears, Delicious Vinyl's Rick Ross, and even three subjects that Beckman has bonded with since meeting them by chance a lifetime ago.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The '80s Were Amazing

My Bon Jovi Summer

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Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 3:50 AM

My friends and I were Bon Jovi obsessives - LAURA WILLEMS
  • Laura Willems
  • My friends and I were Bon Jovi obsessives
The year 2003 had lots of acts on the come up, from The Postal Service to 50 Cent. But the only band who mattered to me and my friends was one who had long ago peaked: Bon Jovi.

We grew up in a relatively small town outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Classic rock was a staple at parties and school dances. Bon Jovi's greatest hits album, Crossroads, was on the jukebox in the cafeteria of our high school. "You Give Love a Bad Name" was a lunchtime favorite. But that alone doesn't explain how our love for the group went on to grow as big Jon Bon Jovi's hair circa 1987.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nice cell phone, Joey!
  • Nice cell phone, Joey!
On Friday at Staples Center, everybody's favorite boy band template New Kids on the Block perform with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.

Sure they were cute and shit, but folks seldom talk about how the New Kids changed the way pop fandom was brought to the masses. Before the internet and social networking let us know what our favorite artists were doing at every hour of the day, NKOTB flooded the market with VHS tapes, pay-per-views, cartoons and hotlines that allowed fans to hear something new about the boys at (nearly) every waking moment. Let's take a look back at how the New Kids changed the game!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

  • Courtesy Aerosmith
It's been years since "The Bad Boys from Boston" have put out a studio album, with their most recent being 2004's Honkin' on Bobo. Yesterday, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer (minus Brad Whitford who is currently on tour with The Hendrix Experience) greeted an eager crowd at The Grove and announced their new studio album will be out within the next three months.. They revealed plans for an upcoming tour with Cheap Trick, which includes a stop at the Hollywood Bowl August 6th.

The band participated in an audience-driven Q&A regarding the upcoming tour and discussed whether or not Tyler is more difficult to work with now that he's "a big TV star" and the strangest thing that's ever been thrown on stage during an Aerosmith show -- and it might be the strangest thing ever thrown on any stage.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

While in town for SXSW last week, we checked in with Austin native Ernest Cline, the author of 2011 bestseller Ready Player One. It's sci-fi, but totally readable and compelling; the plot concerns a nerdy overweight teen living in a distopian future America where everyone spends all their time in a second life simulation. The eccentric billionaire who created it dies, pledging his fortune to whoever can complete an elaborate treasure hunt.

1980s culture plays heavily into the plot, and the billionaire and the protagonist are obsessed with the films of John Hughes. The same is true of the genial Cline, who's got a few extra pounds himself, red brown hair, and a goatee. While Vanity Fair and others have made the intellectual case for Hughes' films, Cline believes the director's soundtracks also deserve more shine. Growing up in the small town of Ashland in central Ohio, he says, the songs on those works practically made his adolescence. "The only way I was exposed to cool music, stuff like Britpop, was through those movies," he says. Below, then, are his top ten favorites, in his own words.

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