Monday, January 30, 2006

Yesterday's News

Saturday night, I got to check out the Gossip.

The Gossip is kinda like really funky blues disco punk. Does that make sense? And the kids are way spunky. Beth, the lead singer, has one of those big Janis Joplin voices that can wail and be incredibly sexy at the same time. The basslines are new romantic, the drums are fierce. Usually, that's it. Voice, bass, drums. And rip roaring attitude that's groovy even while she's screaming. You know.

The Gossip has a huge gay following. As one of my friends put it on Saturday, "Man, you can't swing a cat without hitting a lesbian in this place." This place was the Echo in Echo Park... Rather, the subterranean hellhole of the Echo, the X-Plex or something. The place has been used before - my only experience with it was usually a dance club type thing - but tonight it was the space where the Gossip was playing. It reminded me of the early kind of rave spaces I used to go to: makeshift bathrooms that were backed up, exposed insulation, temporary plywood walls... Classy. Even if the Gossip aren't such a highbrow band, they deserved better than that.

And the best part about the whole thing was that there was no bar... You had to walk out the back, up a small alley, and into the tiny smoking patio of the Echo which had been converted into the makeshift bar for the evening. And you had to stay there while drinking. It was very, very crowded. And it sucked.

Hopefully those folks will have a bit more construction (and working bathrooms) the next time they try to have a show there. Because, despite the stench, the Gossip rocked it out hard and the kids (even the straight ones) grooved along.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Eye In the Sky

Big Brother?

* Action Alert: Hollywood Plants Its Flags in Our Homes

On Tuesday, January 24th, the Senate Commerce Committee will
hold hearings on government regulation of digital media in
the form of the broadcast flag and the audio flag. But even
before the committee hears the arguments, Hollywood lobbyists
have already planned the results. Drafts are being passed
around Congress by Senator Gordon Smith (D-OR) of a "Digital
Content Protection Act" that would make both flags laws at a

If this bill were to pass, government - and the entertainment
industry - would control what you could do with digital media
in your home. The broadcast flag would place TV shows in a
DRM ghetto, where your right to copy, back-up, sell, time-
shift or convert them into formats convenient to you would be
at the whim of the broadcasters. The audio flag would give
the FCC matching powers over "digital audio broadcasting,"
including satellite radio, digital HD radio, and potentially
even Internet radio. Fair use would be frozen into "customary
historical use."

There's no benefit here for artists or customers, and for
infringing copiers, evading these copy controls will be as
easy as ever. No matter how inconvenienced individual users
would be, pirates would be able to bypass it. The bill would
usher in a new world of anti-consumer electronics and a
chance for the MPAA's and RIAA's member companies to seize
even greater control over all media distribution and use.

If you live in one of the states below, your senator is on
the Senate Commerce Committee. Let him or her know that these
flags would mark a new era of Hollywood's control of the home
and of our digital networks.

You have a senator on the committee if you are a resident of
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii,
Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada, New, Hampshire, New, Jersey, North, Dakota,
Oregon, South, Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, or West

Write to the Committee:

If you're not in one of those states, it's still important
for you to write to your senator and representative to
support DMCA reform and take some of the bite out of these
preposterous mandates.

Support DMCA reform:

More Information:

The Draft Digital Content Protection Act:

Our Analysis of the Bill

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : .

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Goodbye, Sugar

In August of 1990, my two roommates and I decided to get a cat. I was dispatched to the task, as I was the only one with any previous cat experience. I'm also one of the softest softies ever, so when I went to the pound to pick a kitten, I immediately started sobbing since I couldn't take them all home with me, and I picked the ugliest, scrawniest one in the bunch. I figured no one else would, and I'd definitely be saving his little life. (I had no idea this was a no-kill shelter.)

We agreed to the name Tristan, although I really wanted to name him Bagheera after the panther in the Jungle Book. He wound up becoming completely my cat, though, and would go for rides around town with me in my car, chase squirrels in the yard, sleep next to my head, and play around with all the neighbors. When he got a bit older, he moved in with my parents, who had a big house with a huge yard and other cats as opposed to my dinky apartments with allergy prone roommates.

Tristan turned out to be a panther, after all. A gorgeous hunk of cat, and quite the hunter too. He was super loveable and liked to play with everyone. He especially liked to take people's seats once they had been warmed up for him. You just don't argue with a 20 pound cat. Even if he does love the Cocteau Twins.

Whenever I would come home, he would be sitting at the door waiting for me. If I called the house, he would come distract whoever was talking to me. He always knew. I would walk in and lie on the ground and talk to him, and he would lie down next to me and sing. Well, purr really, really loud, and kind of chirp. We had little conversations.

Last night when I got the call, "He's not doing good, maybe you should come home..." I hopped into my car to do the 101 mile dash. I didn't make it in time though, he was gone. I'd just missed him. So here's to my big, handsome man, Tristan.


when darkness falls
on Summer's end
so in your absence
i shall begin
when Darkness falls the race iz done
and Love lives not
when Hope is gone
goodbye, sugar...

(Twilight Singers)

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Land of Oz

Los Angeles just finished its annual G'Day LA event... Which probably a lot of people never even heard about. This year, it was a bit more high profile as there were ads running on the Independent Film Channel featuring the likes of Nicole Kidman and Geoffrey Rush saying, "G'Day LA!"

Basically, it's a week long series of wine, art, food, and political events which are supposed to strengthen the ties between Los Angeles commerce and Australian commerce.

I think G'Day LA would be benefited by bringing some of their rock and roll to these shores for some live music, myself! And one band I'd love to see live again would be You Am I.

(For anyone keeping track, I've just hit the letter "Y" on my alphabetical musical countdown.)

You Am I has never made it in this country, but they are huge in Oz. They headline festivals and sell out big venues with regularity. Here, they've opened for Soundgarden, Oasis, and - the last time they were briefly in the States - the Kills and the Strokes. They are Big Rock. And Pop. And a little bit country.

You Am I started out as just another grunge band in the early 90's, releasing their first CD in '93. You could hear the pop through the sludge though, and singer Tim Rogers' lyrics were always smart and touching. By their third release, Hourly Daily (my favorite by far) the grunge was nearly gone and the quirky pop which owed more to early Who and XTC had taken it's place. And now, they've definitely moved into Whiskeytown territory, sounding like with their time on the road they finally dived into the cache of country music belonging to their parents. It all sounds great.

If you track down some You Am I stuff, I'd highly recommend both Hourly Daily and Tim Rogers' first solo album, What Rhymes with Cars and Girls. The second album Hi-Fi Way is also pretty genius and I rally liked the last one, Deliverance, which is all country-rocked out. But I'm getting old.

I was lucky enough to see You Am I once, in a small club in San Fransisco, back in 1998. I had been in a minor and stupid car accident the night before, and was stiff as a board. But the band was so rowdy and the set so great, I just clamped my hand around my neck and jumped around. It was sort of all I could do. Then, towards the end of the night, Tim Rogers picked me out of the crowd and led me in a waltz. Damned if I can remember what song it was to, I was mostly just concerned about not being so stiff while we were dancing. I learned later that he does this at small shows, and the girls fight for this place of honor, and I felt pretty lucky indeed.

I don't think he could tell that I had a minor concussion.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

Sometimes you get up kinda crabby and something completely wacky happens to snap you right out of it. Something that will most likely never, EVER happen to you again.

This happened to me today, and it's one of those "only in LA" things, which I am forever grateful for.

It is well documented that I am totally nuts about Duran Duran, John Taylor in particular. Mmm mmm good. But I'll take a sighting of any of those guys to bring my day up a notch, or a zillion notches. I've even had the lucky opportunity to meet John Taylor once in person, and to interview him (by phone, sadly) on another occasion. That makes me happy.

Today I went to the Arclight Theatres to see "Syrianna." The Arclight is basically the Cinerama Dome complex, which is a fancy movie experience because the seats are cozy and spacious, they have a bar, they serve popcorn and polish sausage and Haagen Daas, they tell you about the movie before it starts, and they stop seating people once it does. You get the idea. It's also waaaaaay pricey.

I wanted to go to the matinee, but got held up so I made it to the 4:45 showing instead. As I was buying my ticket, I heard a man with a British accent ordering his tickets from the fellow next to me. I glanced over out of curiosity, and it was Simon Le Bon. SIMON FUCKING LE BON! And he looked great. At this point, I tried to figure out if I could be seated near where they were seated, but realized that would be a bit obvious and since they weren't selling tons of tickets to a movie starting in 5 minutes, I decided my chances were good.

I went upstairs for my snacks, and Simon came along with a woman (who wasn't his wife, but looked vaguely familiar). I went into the theatre just before they came in, and wound up a couple of rows behind them. The movie started and I decided to pay attention to that, as I did pay the money after all, and it wasn't as if Simon was my favorite member of Duran Duran.

Early into the film, a third member joined their party, but I couldn't get a good look at him as they were all slouching comfortably and enjoying themselves. When the movie ended and the credits started to roll, I watched the group to see when they were getting up to leave so that I could saunter out alongside them. Simon stood up, so I made my way around them to the aisle and as I passed by (because they hadn't budged), I saw that the third member of their party was John Taylor.


I still cannot believe that John Taylor was sitting two rows in front of me for nearly 3 hours and I didn't notice. You'd think my ovaries would have rumbled or something. It was then that I realized that the woman there was John's wife, Gela Nash Taylor, co-creator of Juicy Couture. They were watching the credits roll and he said, "Oh, it was Chris Cooper! I like him but I always forget his name..." "Oh, he's good," Simon responded. "He won the Academy Award for that one movie, the one where he didn't have his front teeth..." "Adaptation," interjected John. And then I had to walk out of the theatre before being outed as a borderline stalker.

I was so excited that I immediately got a really amazing headache.I mean, how cute is it that Simon and John, after having been in a band for over 25 years, hang out and go to the movies together? I immediately walked next door to my alma mater, Amoeba Music, so I could tell one of my best friends and my ex-boyfriend (who had both been witness to my original John Taylor sighting and subsequent meltdown) about this one and they could see how well I handled it this time.

I'm still only shaking a little bit.

Oh, and I really liked "Syrianna."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Red Shoe Diaries

My downstairs neighbor has a girlfriend who hates me.

I didn't do anything, really. I just wear heels. Everyday. On hardwood floors.

Oh, come on... now you hate me too? You haven't even let me explain.

I am a notorious heel wearer. I "hike" in 2" boots. I take my daily walk at lunch in 3" stilettos in the summer. I go to the beach in 4" wedgies. Once I teased a boyfriend of mine who lives in Pasadena where the summer temperatures are scorching... "Don't you ever wear shorts?" He pointed at my feet and said, "Don't you ever wear flats?" Nailed.

I have also lived beneath someone else quite a few times. I've had those neighbors that always sound like they are moving furniture around at 4am, and the neighbor doing aerobics at 6am, and the neighbor with the blaring TV at any given hour. I am not that neighbor.

I am hyper conscious about the person who sleeps below me. I don't do much in my room except sleep, read, do my bills, and get dressed.

Here lies the problem.

At home, on my lovely hardwood floors, I generally wear slippers. I wear them in the morning, and I put them back on right when I get home. It's that 30 seconds before I walk out the door that causes the problem, you see.

One day when I had just gotten home from work, there was a pounding at the door. I knew it was a neighbor because we have a gated building, and there are only 4 units. I opened it to see a woman I had seen around, but wasn't sure where she belonged. She introduced herself and then said, "I try to sleep in the room under yours, but your heels always wake me up in the morning. I've tried earplugs and I'm an insomniac and once you wake me up, I can't go back to sleep." I said, "Well, I only put them on when I'm about to leave the house." "Can you just put them on outside? I can hear you walking down the hall and down the stairs, and it's really disruptive."

"Uh, no, I will not get dressed outside. I'll do my best to put them on in the living room, but that's the most I can promise you."

"Well, if we were bothering you and you told us, we would accomodate you."

"I think asking me to get dressed outside is a bit much. Besides, you don't even live here. All I can tell you is that I'm a zombie in the morning, and I will do my best to put my shoes on in the living room before I leave. Perhaps you should keep your earplugs in if any of the neighbors or myself decide to use our stairs to leave the building."

"Fine," she huffed, and went back inside.

This was about a month ago. I haven't seen her for a couple weeks, leading me to hope that my neighbor dumped her and I won't have to worry about her hypersensitve ears anymore. Who knows... I may have to start blowdrying my hair in the car or something. Geez.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Just Like A Natural Man

Consider for a moment...

Mr. Lou Rawls.

He passed away Friday the 6th, from cancer. He was either 70 or 72, folks weren't sure.

Lou was an amazing singer, good friend to Sam Cooke (he was one of Cooke's pallbearers) and nemesis to Bobby Womack (supposedly because Bobby married Sam's girl... or slept with her, or something Lou didn't take to kindly to). He had a four octave vocal range and he used to to wow the crowds, be it jazzy, funky or just plain talky. Lou was a big talker, fond of introducing his songs with a setup, dramatically, to draw the listener in. People dug it.

While talking about Lou to a friend the other day, I realized that the second concert I ever saw was Mr. Lou Rawls. (The first was Donny and Marie.) I think it was around 1980. He was playing at the Del Mar Fair. In the summertimes, my dad worked at the Del Mar Fair (we liked to say he was a carny, but he was really just friends with all the carnies and sold beer and burgers) and he'd get us in for free all the time, which was pretty awesome. This particular evening, though, my mom was performing onstage with Lou Rawls. She was a dancer, but at this particular time, she was a Jazzercise instructor and for some reason, Lou was having a couple Jazzercise instructors onstage with him doing a routine to one of his songs. So I had to go, because my mom was in it, and I was taking pictures.

I don't remember anything about the show. We have one picture at the house though, of my mom standing next to Lou Rawls. She's Latina, so she has this post-sweaty short frizzy brown hair with a flower in it, and is wearing some sort of muumuu with an Indian (like the country) pattern over her leotard & tights, and a HUGE smile on her face. Lou, on the other hand, is so black that my mom's beige skin looks bleached, and he's wearing a completely white suit and smiling the smoothest smile you ever saw. I do remember thinking he was awfully nice.

I'd scan the picture for you if it wasn't hanging in a frame somewhere in San Diego, but trust me, it's priceless. Much like the man.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Is There Something to Do?

LA Kids:

This week is chock full of weird and interesting things to do. I think I'm gonna try to do all of them.

Tuesday? Daniel Lanois is playing at Spaceland (capacity 150, technically). You know, that guy who produces folks like U2, Peter Gabriel, Dylan... and has collaborated with Eno, Emmylou Harris, Joe Henry... blah blah blah. Yea, him. At Spaceland. Tuesdays this month. 2 left!

Wednesday? The ubercute Eenie Meenie Records (home of From Bubblegum to Sky, Irving, and Oranger, to name a few) is hosting an ubercute party at the uberhip Cinespace in Hollywood to celebrate the release of "The Dimension Mix," a CD celebrating the Dimensions 5 record label which made exceptionally weird and fun music for kids. Dimension 5 was run by electrinc pioneer Bruce Haack and children's dance teacher Esther Nelson, and folks like Beck & Stereolab and such are on the CD. Oh, and it benefits Cure Autism Now.

Mellowdrone's playing Thursday. They're good. Kinda like moody shoegazer stuff, but a touch more up. It's at Spaceland too.

Friday night? Well, listen up all you Sedaris freaks... The play "Book of Liz," written by the Talent Family team of wacko comedian Amy Sedaris and her equally wacko writer brother David, is only playing two more weekends at Hollywood's Blank Theatre. It's about a woman (first played by singer/actress/artist Ann Magnunson, now played by Amy Sedaris herself) who begins to doubt her life within her religious Squeamish community, which has been supported by her magnificient cheeseballs (traditional and smoky). Oh, and David's boyfriend directs. Keep it in the family, this family anyway, and it's guaranteed to be bizarrely amusing.

And speaking of wacky as shit, Saturday night at the M Bar in Hollywood presents even MORE off beat hilarity as Brently Hilborn presents: "Trapped in A Closet, Live." From Brently: "You know me. I'm an excitable young man with many crappy ideas, however passionate. This is indeed one of those. In one week, I'll be performing R. Kelly's wayward masterpiece "Trapped in the Closet" in its entirety...12 chapters of relentless tension on sexy ukulele with many special guests."

I once saw Brently re-enact the movie "Purple Rain" on the ukelele, and I still practically wet myself just remembering it. Go Go GO!

M Bar (Vine and Fountain)
Saturday January 21st @ 10 pm (benefits P-FLAG)
$5---proceeds go to P-FLAG

call 323-856-0036 for reservations.

That is all.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Funny Cuz It's True

From last week's LA Weekly...

Hipsters Must Die
10 signs of the (Yindie) apocalypse

Merriam-Webster’s 2004 word of the year was “blog”; the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2005 word of the year was “podcast”; and in October the L.A. Times featured a front-page story about our own Mark “the Cobrasnake” Hunter. Yup, for some reason a weird subspecies of hipster has lately become the subject of ubiquitous media fascination. We call them “indie yuppies” — Yindies for short. They are well employed, or endowed with trust funds. They think chic gizmos (like digital cameras and iPods) go best with indie rock. And while their tastes are a little more stylish than the mainstream, they’re also sort of bland, boring and interchangeable. (Think: Urban Outfitters, Death Cab for Cutie, KCRW.)

Yindies are the bread and butter of publications like this one, of course, but I’m hoping 2006’s word of the year will be “backlash” — if only to make room for some edgier, less twee and affected forms of _expression. Unlike the hippies and Yippies, who spawned Charles Manson and the Weather Underground, Yindies will never do any real harm. But, armed with influence that far outweighs their actual numbers, they do occupy a precarious and troubling spot in our culture. Here’s a hypothetical picture of what might happen if the Yindie backlash doesn’t come. It’s not pretty.

1. Following in the footsteps of Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, Billy Joel announces he will collaborate with Rick Rubin for a return to his roots as “a simple piano man.” In the autumn of ’06, Joel releases Moods Vol. I, the first album in a planned trilogy, featuring stripped-down covers by Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg, Ben Folds and Huey Lewis & the News — with Lewis and Joel duetting on “I Want a New Drug,” an allusion to Joel’s struggles with alcoholism. (This leads, in turn, to a surge in Lewis’ hipster cred; he tours the U.K. and major U.S. markets in the spring of ’07 with the Strokes as his backing band.)

2. Marking a radical turn in direction, Gucci deposes creative director Alexander McQueen and names American Apparel founder and CEO Dov Charney as his successor. Charney’s first couture line prominently features soft, brightly colored cotton, white piping and zippers.

3. In an effort to stanch mounting declines in readership, The New York Times adapts a blog-friendly format for its daily edition. A staffwide memo dictates that all weekday articles be reported in the form of top-10 lists following the inverted triangle format — wacky bits at the top, mundane shit at the end. (Stories about George Bush inevitably begin by quoting a funny malapropism, and conclude with the daily body count in Iraq.)

4. In a related effort, hundreds of newspapers switch Sunday supplements from the famously laughable Parade to a new general-interest edition of Vice magazine. The debut issue features a Terry Richardson portrait of Vice President Dick Cheney wearing only a camouflage Speedo and a “Victory is Ours” sun visor — a bold effort by the White House to connect with Generation Z.

5. purchases a 25 percent stake in Gawker Media, announcing plans to supplement major market sites like Wonkette (Washington, D.C.) and Defamer (Los Angeles) with local gossip sites GardenSite (New Jersey), Fargoed (North Dakota) and Omahipster (Nebraska).

6. It’s announced that the performers for 2007’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami will be a new supergroup called The Clap Your Go Team Fire! The show will be sponsored by the newest addition to the MTV Networks family, Pitchfork Television.

7. On Wednesday, November 8, 2006, the morning after the California general election, it’s announced that a surprise write-in candidate has triumphed over Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our new governor is to be Steve Aoki, a.k.a. DJ Kid Millionaire — heir to the Benihana restaurant fortune and owner of the indie rock label Dim Mak (Bloc Party, The Kills, Das Oath). Aoki makes the following public statement: “I’m so inspired by the people of Los Angeles, the way they go to work every day. They’re fucking awesome.” His first official move is to make Silver Lake the new state capital, with plans to annex Brooklyn.

8. USA Today launches Pop Candy, a blog featuring trifles like a Q&A with American Idol also-ran Bo Bice and rumors of Gwen Stefani’s pregnancy. It’s written by a sexually ambiguous moppet named Whitney Matheson, who is pictured on the site sporting garage-rock bangs, Converse one-stars and high-water jeans.

9. Author Dave Eggers and director Spike Jonze begin work on a Tom Hanks–produced, live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, combining an indie-flick sensibility with blockbuster production values. Sendak is quoted in The New York Times as saying, “They call, they write, they send post cards, they show me script changes, they send me pornographic pictures and models of the monsters. They’re very attentive.”

10. Actually, those last two items aren’t predictions. They’re true. Maybe it’s too late!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Do You Wanna Be A Rock Star?

Well, I got this rather interesting email the other day, and I think everybody needs to know about it. So spread the word!!! (Thanks, Kevin!)

FYI, everybody. A new kid on the block. You might want to pass this
along to folks. The club that Sam used to have in O.C. was legendary. This
could become a pretty cool spot ...

Hi Friends,

I'm sending out this e-mail because I want to invite you to an Open House at my new club Safari Sam's on Tuesday, Jan.17th at 7:30 P.M. in order to meet as many of our local artists as possible. Why does a club owner want to meet with artists you might ask? Shouldn't I be in the
back counting receipts and money? I think its very important to show to you what we are all about here so that in the future the sales will come of themselves. I believe there should be a symbiotic relationship between artists, fans, club owners and promoters. I have come to this
because I have owned a club before which had this philosophy and after that I managed musicians, tour managed bands, booked bands across the country and have always felt an affection for artists... because frankly I love being entertained.

I love passion. I love truth. I love beauty. These are the great attributes artists can bring to a stage. This is what I will search high and dry for and what I will work very hard to bring to my stage. I want to create events that are interesting and not just the roving mill of band after band after band. Things can get very interesting when the unexpected happens.

This is where you come in. I want to make Safari Sam's the place to perform, the place to hang out and the place that has freaky things happening. How do we do this? I want you to tell me. What are the other clubs not doing? How do you want to be treated when you play here? How can we help promote your event here? Most important for me is how can we get a music scene happening in LA again? Do you have ideas on how the clubs can work together to get people out to see bands, poets, performers, art shows and others? I believe that if clubs worked together, we could grow the fan base so that it is more exciting to go out because cool things are happening. You, the artists, have great ideas and I want you to share them with my team and I. I want to meet you because I think it's important for you to know that I'm not full of malarkey on this.

Safari Sam's will open near the end of Jan. so I want to get this meeting now. I will be booking onto the stage, bands, poets, plays, lectures, sideshows, magicians, comedians, artists, performers, puppeteers and other interesting and fun stuff. We will not be limited by how popular the act is but by its passion, truth, beauty and fun.

So please come on the 17th if you can make it. And feel free to send this off to everyone you know that performs.

Please RSVP for us by clicking here:

5214 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027

Other important club info:
Booking agents are: Steve Zepeda from Bogarts, the Foothill, Blue Cafe and Que Sera in Long Beach.
Patrick Llewelyn, promoter around town here.
Ken Phebus, booking Vault 350 and many others.
Club occupancy is 465.

Thank you for this and I look forward to meeting you,
Sam Lanni

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

David & Goliath, Indie Style

The Rhino Records Store in Westwood is closing down.

The Rhino store has been there for 35 years, and was the origin of the label of the same name (although they are now separate entities). It is the only independent record store in Westwood, home of UCLA. It is one of few independent record stores in LA.

Rumors abound that the Rhino kids blame downloading and Amoeba Music.

Aron's Records in Hollywood, another great indie record store which served the music geeks for over 40 years, shut down suddenly back in November. Their business had been tanking for a few years, most notably after Amoeba Music moved in up the street.

Rumors abound that the Aron's kids were really pissed with Amoeba.

I didn't move to LA until 2001, but I came down to visit all the time. So often that people thought my best friend and I were dating (ick!). I used to shop at both of these places. I wouldn't set foot (and still try not to) into a large corporate chain - no Virgin Megastores or Towers or Wherehouses for me, if it could be avoided.

You see, I was lucky enough to grow up with one of the best indie records stores in the land - Lou's Records in Encinitas. Lou's was the kind of place that encouraged you to try new music, and you could hang out there for hours. Everybody who worked there was in a band (everyone else surfed). Music people know about Lou's - when I used to interview bands with some regularity, if they'd find out I was from Encinitas... they'd ask about Lou's. I was dating a guy from Boston and when we visited my hometown, he asked if we could go to Lou's. (And WHY wasn't he the one? Sigh...)

Then I went to Berkeley, and we had Rasputin's and Leopold's and Aquarius and Saturn and a bunch of other places that I can't remember the names of right now. Rasputin's sort of came to dominate the area, but those other places hung around. Then Amoeba opened, and became major competition to Rasputin's, despite the fact that it had less than half the square footage that Rasputin's has. Why? A great selection, awesome prices, and cool staff. (The people who ran Rasputin's were dicks.)

Then Amoeba opened their "big" store in San Francisco in an old bowling alley in the Haight. I remember the first time I walked in: I was so overloaded, I walked right back out and went back an hour later. It was bigger, but the same - great selection, great prices, and nice, knowledgeable staff.

Finally, in 2001 - Amoeba takes Los Angeles. And I was there, opening day. I even rang one of the first sales. Yep, I'd just moved to LA and was an employee of Amoeba Music. Info.

I was excited to be in LA, and went shopping at Aron's and Rhino. What I found was that the people at Aron's were pretty nasty and hated the Amoeba folks. Rhino was just way overpriced. I gave both several chances over the years, and never enjoyed my experience. I stayed at Amoeba for a year, and now work by Rhino so I still pop in there with regularity.

I am also not someone that can survive with MP3 files as a music library - I own VINYL. I like linear notes. I want the art, complete with its packaging. I know people who are getting rid of their CDs, which replaced their records, and will now have all their music at their fingertips on a computer. So yes, that can be a problem, but it isn't THE problem.

My feeling is that the people at Aron's were mean and they lost customers because of it. This is not to say the Amoeba staff are total angels (Of course, I'm biased... But I worked Information and dealt with hundreds of people every day - I certainly had my moments). For the most part, Amoeba strives itself on being helpful to customers. As for Rhino, a friend commented upon hearing of its closing, "Well, they are the Virgin Megastore of the Westside. Too expensive!"

There are still indie record stores in LA (Sea Level in Echo Park, Poo-Bah's in Pasadena, Rockaway in Silver Lake, and a great one in Venice - the name is escaping me, damnit!) but it's shocking to me that Westwood is letting Rhino go. Aren't college towns supposed to be places where independent music thrives? Not in LA, I guess. And blaming Amoeba is too easy... Many of the independent stores which existed before Amoeba in the Bay Area still exists today. And in Los Angeles, people have to drive great distances (or deal with heinous traffic and parking) in order to get to Amoeba. You'd think it would be easier to support your local store. So what happened?

Just throwing that out there. Discuss.

Monday, January 09, 2006

So Necessary

Um. Not. It's actually not.

"Bursting out of Glasgow in 1996, Belle & Sebastian took the U.K. by storm, going from an independent underground sensation to placing an album on the British Top 20 in just two short years. With their infectious brand of indie pop, Belle & Sebastian has become a college radio staple in the United States. Thanks to its bittersweet love songs and fanatically loyal fans, the band has sold over 2 million albums worldwide.

Now, the band's colorful lyrics and gorgeous, full-bodied melodies have provided Image Comics with the inspiration for a new kind of comics anthology. With the full-color, 144-page PUT THE BOOK BACK ON THE SHELF, a stellar collection of independent comic creators and cartoonists put their own spins on a cross section of Belle and Sebastian's songs, crafting stories inspired by the band's music, drawn from the band's entire catalog."

Read more here about these twee comics, especially for you sensitive bi-curious types!

(Thanks, Steve!)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Don't Put Another Dime In the Jukebox: the 2005 Top 10

Last year, I used a formula to describe my Top Ten favorites pieces of music for 2004. A friend of mine once said that all music reviews could basically be summarized as thus: "Like the bastard lovechild of (so & so) and (so & so) in (name of place) on (altering substance)." This is true. So, I apply that to releases of 2005.

But before I launch into my oh-so-important opinions, I just have to qualify: there's a lot of music out there. There's not a lot of money in my pocket. I also don't have the time to download like crazy. So what we have here is what I have access to, and I suspect there were plenty more great records that came out this year that I will discover in the future. That's one of the great things about music - you can keep finding great stuff as you go along... which is good, because I didn't get super excited about anything this year.

Then there's the fact that we all like different things, blah blah blah. So anyone who reads this blog with any regularity has an idea of what I'm into, and that's all over the map. This year, I think I let my inner hipster run amok. Here goes:

10. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm a Machine (Vice)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Queens of the Stone Age and Gang of Four in Amsterdam on L*U*S*T." Ok, this came out towards the end of 2004, which is the only reason it ranks at 10. I would have ranked it higher, because it is pure, balls out frenzied rock-dance-thrash-bliss. And live, they kicked my ass in the kindest Canadian way possible.

9. Low - The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop)

"Like the bastard lovechild of Joy Division and Blur in Glasgow on Heroin." The band would probably hate that description (being church folk and all), but this album is both menacing and humorous and melancholy much in that way that smack addicts hanging out in flophouses are.

8. Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah - s/t (self released)

"Like the bastard lovechild of the Talking Heads and the Dresden Dolls at the Circus on Nitrous." Ordinarily, this would sound horrifying to me. But this band pulls off the indie quirk in the most interesting and hooky way... and I had no desire to run screaming. Hand claps (as advertised!) and everything.

7. Lady Sovereign - Vertically Challenged EP (Chocolate Industries) "Like the bastard lovechild of Monie Love and Ms. Dynamite in London cranked on Caffeine." She's speedy, cheeky, and she jams.

6. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Cold Roses (Lost Highway)"Like the bastard lovechild of the Grateful Dead and Neil Young in Nashville on Ego." Ryan's at his best when he's a fucked up country singer. At least, I think so. Hell, he released 3 albums this year alone - if he can't self edit, then I'll pick the version of Mr. Adams I like best! (And don't think I don't crush on this guy the more snotty he gets. Damnit.)

5. Iron & Wine - Woman King EP (Sub Pop) "Like the bastard lovechild of Nick Cave and Nick Drake in the Southern Swamps on Moonshine." A groovy gothic barnstomper of a collection, filled with religious imagery and songs about girls. And the electric guitar, even! (Oh, and I liked the thing he did with Calexico ok, but this is way better.)

4. Fruit Bats - Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop)

"Like the bastard lovechild of the Shins and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Topanga Canyon on loads of Marijuana." A sweet and sour pop gem, full of indie hippie love and confusion.

3. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (Red Ink/RCA)
"Like the bastard lovechild of The Band and Spiritualized in Memphis on Religion." The BRMC boys find God, the blues, and a little honky tonk taste good with a touch of their old school gee-tar fuzz. Some fans may have felt a bit betrayed that they didn't come off sounding like Jesus & Mary clones again, but I thought they did this Americana thing pretty darned good.

2. Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures (Sub Pop)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Neutral Milk Hotel and Fleetwood Mac in Big Sur on 'Shrooms, man." Hell, I don't know what Zach Rogue is singing half the time, but the other half is great. The melodies, the harmonies... There is something majestic about it. This album simply soars.

1. M.I.A. - Arular (XL)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Missy Elliott and the Slits in the Carribean on ecstasy." Booty politics for this generation rules the nation. This rebel girl knows how to take care of business, and I have yet to tire of this mishmash of third world hip hop dancehall electronica whatever... Free your mind and your ass will follow... indeed.

You know, both Rogue Wave and Iron & Wine made my list last year too... but they are just that awesome, really! Other stuff that didn't quite make the cut but I really enjoyed: 50 Foot Wave's Golden Ocean which had Kristin Hersh screaming like a banshee. Bloc Party's Silent Alarm was more disco bauhaus than the Fall, and very tasty, especially in the dark. The Mark Lanegan & Isobell Campbell EP Ramblin' Man is a sweetly haunting offering promising an interesting full length. Formerly shelved and then shared as a time capsule, Greg Dulli's Amber Headlights was also a nice holdover till the upcoming Twilight Singers album (expected in April); harsh and groovy songs, just like we like 'em. Sharon Jones brought back the funk old school style with the delicious Naturally. One guilty pleasure of mine was the self titled Dead 60's Rancid/Clash ripoff - because they did it so well. LCD Soundsystem's first full length was pretty great most of the time," fo' sho'," but I really dug getting all the earlier singles on the bonus CD... what can I say? I'm coming to love the Decemberists' Picaresque more & more, their stories of love and angst picking away at my cold, cold heart. Broadcast's Tender Buttons was a surprise of beautiful pop electronica, with more direction than I've heard from them, ever. I got excited about Sleater-Kinney again because The Woods rocked so hard, and "Golddigger" was the goddamn single of the year, with Kanye West's CD Late Registration backing it up most of the time. And how about that reggaeton? I don't know who half the acts are, but I'm learning. If it's in Spanish and my Colombian mom hates it, then there's something good there - right now I just appreciate that it sounds kinda different & makes ya move.

And that's just what I remember.Music is a good thing, let's keep digging it up.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

All You Want Is Entertainment

"I am the DJ, I am what I play..." - Bowie. Duh.

I've been a DJ since about 1991. For 10 years, from '91-'01, I DJed at the best college radio station in the world. I could pretty much play whatever I wanted, with some very interpretive guidelines. It was wonderful.

Mostly, people liked what I did. In that world, you will always have fans, and you will always have haters. For example, I was one of the first kids to play techno. I was absolutely fascinated by it. There were two other DJs playing it, and one guy gave me all kinds of tips on where to find it (clubs and record stores). Now, this wasn't all I played, because I'm a rock and roll girl (and a cumbia girl and a country girl and a soul girl and a heck of a lot more). I mean, I practically broke Creeper Lagoon. How much more indie can you get? I kid, I kid.

When I would play this early electronica, though, it would galvanize listeners. Either they would call and be excited about it, or they would call and berate me for playing mindless drivel. "Drum machines have no soul!"

In 2000, I ventured out into the bar/club world. I was afraid to do this because I was a bit of a personality on the air, and had problems with horny lovestruck male listeners who believed I was their soulmate. When I DJed publicly, I always wore wigs and costumes and fake eyelashes and crazy makeup. It worked, because I ran into the door guy for a place where I DJed a good 6 months, and he had no clue who I was when I said hi to him on the street.

The problem with DJing at clubs and bars is that everyone has an opinion and is more than happy to share it with you. The most popular one I get is: "Hey, can you play dance music? This isn't dance music." Now, this is very interpretive, "dance music." If I'm playing at a punk bar, then the Misfits or the Clash count as dance music. A place with a real dance floor may deserve some hip hop and funk. Some folks only want to dance to new wavey stuff like New Order or the B52s.

So when someone says that to me, I usually say: "Well, what is dance music to you?" And they say, "Well, whatever is dancey." And I may say, "Well, that girl is dancing to Siouxsie and the Banshees, and you aren't, so what do you want?" Then they get all confused.

Another really annoying thing, both on radio and in venues, is when people request something totally out of whack with what you are currently playing. On the radio, I could be doing a country set and get a call for hip hop. At a dance club, someone will want the Buzzcocks. (If I never hear the Buzzcocks again, it'll be too soon... one bar I worked at practically demanded that band hourly). I will usually try to get to a request, in a smooth fashion if it is possible, but that is often not good enough. All DJs go through this.

That said... When you play a song that a caller goes nuts for, and wants to know more about... it's great. I love sharing music with people. And when the club you're DJing is going off the hook, and the crowd is loving you and you are loving them... it's a blast. And beyond rewarding.

So tonight I'm off to the Short Stop in Echo Park, to DJ what I expect to be a mellow night. Most folks are either wiped out from the recent holiday fun, or totally sick. (My DJ buddy has bronchitis, fer chrissakes!) Hopefully, folks will just ride the ride with me.