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It’s been a while bit since I’ve heard anything new out of the boys of FIDLAR and, damn it, I’m ready to. 

The band captured my heart a couple years ago when I got the chance to catch them lay waste to The Blue Star in Downtown LA.  Ever since, I find their brand of sunny yet gritty, psychedelic, party punk, rock an roll growing on me by the day.  It’s rare that a band seems to so thoroughly embody their surroundings quite as well as FIDLAR manages to.  I throw on their records and I feel the physical warm glow of Los Angeles and the cool breeze from the ocean, yet I also catch drafts of the dark, earthy, wildness of Downtown LA’s warehouse parties and the dense feel of smoggy air rolling through their sound as well.

The above track, “West Coast,” came off the band’s digital EP, Shit We Recorded In Our Bedroom, and easily represents that simple, fun, catchy style FIDLAR excels at.  Throw this on and feel the warmth of the sun, the bite of salt water in your nose, and, maybe, dump a beer over your head to help really get that Downtown LA party atmosphere.

Here’s to hoping we get to hear some new tunes out of these guys soon.

More information on FIDLAR can be found at their Facebook.  Copies of the EP can still be downloaded from the band’s Tumblr.

ArtistFIDLAR
TitleWest Coast
AlbumShit We Recorded In Our Bedroom EP
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I feel like Phil Alvin of The Blasters is one of the most under celebrated front men in the history of rock and roll music. 

Anybody who has had the privilege of seeing Phil live, either at the helm of The Blasters, or on his own as a solo artists, knows that his performances are something akin to religious experiences.  While some performers may seem content with only leaving small, insignificant parts of themselves on the stage, Phil, with every show I’ve ever seen him play, seems bent on leaving pieces of his soul up there.  Whether powering through older, acoustic blues, or ripping through some good, old fashioned American rock and roll, Phil delivers some of the most stunning, emotionally passionate sets one can hope to witness, all the while looking like he’s literally about to explode on stage.

The above cut from Phil’s lesser known, post-Blasters, solo record, Un “Sung Stories,” and it’s a favorite of mine from my collection.  The record sees Phil being backed by both Sun Ra & The Arkestra as well as The Dirty Dozen Brass Band to great effect.  Yet, it’s the above solo acoustic number that I love most on the album.  There’s just something so powerful about Phil’s modestly accompanied voice, especially when he’s singing a piece  as dark as “Gangster’s Blues” that it gives me goosebumps.

If you dig this and haven’t listened to the entire Blasters catalog, I highly recommend diving into that stuff head first.

More information on Phil Alvin can be found at The Blasters official site and Facebook. Copies of Un “Sung Stories” can be found at Discogs.

ArtistPhil Alvin
TitleGangster's Blues
AlbumUn "Sung Stories"
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In the annals of music history, there are many musicians who have stories about them and their antics that have, more or less, become myth.  One of my favorite of these myths involves the legendary American jazz clarinetist/saxophonist, Sidney Bechet

Bechet was known for being one of the most powerful and innovative players of his time.  To this day, his recordings will still give you goosebumps just from the sheer volume of energy and soul he puts out in his playing.  However, Bechet was also known for having something of a temper as well, a characteristic that is widely considered to have held back his career as a musician.

The most infamous of Bechet’s flair ups took place in Paris, where he was touring, in 1928.  At one particular event Bechet was performing at, a woman was injured in a shoot out that erupted after another musician accused Bechet of playing a wrong chord.  The story goes that Bechet’s response to this accusation was to say, “Sidney Bechet never plays a wrong chord,” and challenge the man to a duel which provoked a fire fight.  Bechet was imprisoned for nearly a year before being deported back to the US for the incident.

More information about Sidney Bechet and his music can be found at the official website of The Sidney Bechet Society.

ArtistSidney Bechet
TitleShake It And Break It
AlbumBlues In Thirds
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Since moving back to LA in 2007, one band that I’ve had the opportunity to really watch develop has been the Fullerton quartet, Audacity (previously known as The Audacity).  While the group started out playing a highly frenzied, noisey brand of pop punk, the band has evolved into something that is still frenetic and wild, but incredibly solid, fun, and less sloppy.

Case in point, the band’s most recent Suicide Squeeze full length, 2013’s Butter Knife, is definitely the most catchy, well dialed in recordings of the band’s career thus far.  Audacity hone their ability craft ear grabbing riffs and melodies on this album, and delivers them in a fashion that carries all of the intensity of their hardcore punk rock influences.  Like the tidal wave depicted in the cover art, the songs hit incredibly hard, and you can really tell that the band is giving these performances everything they have in them.  The album title, Butter Knife, is almost inappropriate for this release, as everything on this record shows a band that seems to be growing sharper and more in tune with themselves by the second.

This record was a pleasant surprise for me, not because I wasn’t expecting these guys to be awesome, but to hear just how strong and ferocious this band has become.  This is one to demand from your local music store immediately for sure.

More information on Audacity can be found at their Facebook.  Copies of Butter Knife can be picked up via Suicide Squeeze.

P.S.: I should also mention that I’ve had the privilege of seeing these guys two or three times in the last month or so, and each time it has been a ripping experience.  If they come around near you, go catch them and get your face melted off.

ArtistAudacity
TitleWatered Down
AlbumButter Knife
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I bought a copy of The Muppet Movie soundtrack on vinyl sometime last year.  Though, it wasn’t until the other night while I was packing up my old room that I put it on and listened to it for the first time.  Immediately, a wave of fond memories of my childhood love of The Muppets came rushing back, and I stopped packing for a minute, sat down, and really took the music in.  Listening to the songs by themselves, without the inherent visual absurdity of talking frogs, pigs, bears, and whatever Gonzo is accompanying them, it was the first time I really payed attention to the songwriting of the film’s composers Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Muppet Movie, so I forget in what context the above tune, sung by Gonzo, appears.  However, for me, as somebody who has struggled with a lot of depression and anxiety in my life, it really struck a chord for me.  Sometimes, over the years, I go through periods of things seeming pretty bleak.  I look around at my peers, many of whom seem so effortlessly content, and I’ve sometimes wished really hard that I could just be like them.  Yet… I’m not.  And the depression and anxiety from time to time are just part of the package that comes with being me.  Fortunately, there are songs like these, delivered with such passion and beauty, that serve as reminders for me, that things change, and I’ll get back to where I want to be sometime down the road.

I’ve enjoyed a great many songs by The Muppets in my lifetime, but the above, “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday,” might be my all time favorite.  Ascher and Williams really crafted a marvel of a tune with this one; a unique piece that resonates with me, and I’m sure many others, on a truly deep level.  Listening to songs like these, I find myself ever thankful for The Muppets.

More information on The Muppets can be found at their official site.  Vinyl copies of The Muppet Movie soundtrack can be picked up used via Discogs.  Copies of The Muppet Movie itself can be snagged via Amazon and a large variety of online retailers.

ArtistThe Great Gonzo
TitleI'm Going To Go Back There Someday
AlbumThe Muppet Movie
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White Lung is a band that I’ve found myself listening to more and more over the last couple of years.  The group’s distinct blend of textural post-punk with the swinging for your head carnage of hardcore punk rock is one of the more interesting and intense styles I’ve encountered in independent music in a while.

Recently the group released their third record, Deep Fantasy, via the fine folks at Domino Records, and it’s easily the most impressive thing I’ve heard all year.  To describe the album as heavy is an understatement, it’s one of the most electrifying, cyclonic, whirlwinds of punk rock unleashed in recent memory.  The band sounds the tightest they’ve ever been, and seem truly dialed into the very core of their sound.  The result is an absolute white knuckle rocket sled ride of a record, fueled by the stunning sonic tapestries of Kenneth William’s guitar and bass work, the raw, brute force of Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s drumming, and the always captivating, dynamic voice of vocalist Mish Way.  The album is so much a force of nature, that the only music videos that need be made for it, should be the songs coupled with highlights reels of tornadoes wiping small mid-western cities off of the face of the earth.

It’s rare to find a record that so undeniably hits it’s mark on every conceivable front, yet, Deep Fantasy seems to do so.  Deep Fantasy, is an exceptional achievement for this band and should be high in the running for best record of 2014 on anyone’s list.  Seriously, run, don’t walk to your local record store and snag a copy.

More information on White Lung can be found at their Facebook.  Copies of Deep Fantasy can be picked up via Domino Records.

ArtistWhite Lung
TitleDown It Goes
AlbumDeep Fantasy

Hello Again

Good afternoon/Good evening out there ya’ll.  It’s been a while since I updated this thing, mainly because a major move down to Long Beach demanded the majority of my focus for the last month or so.  However, I’m mostly settled and ready to get going on here again.  So, prepare yourselves for some rad tunes and my various thoughts on them. 

Also, I’ve written some stuff on some interesting graphic artists recently as well.  So I’ll post some links to those for all of you to check out and dig at your leisure.

As always, thanks for following this blog and feel free to throw any comments, questions, suggestions, or thoughts my way you like.

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It’s not often that I throw on hardcore of this intensity level for casual listening, but ever since seeing INFEST rip through The Echoplex a few months ago, the band has been on my mind.

Ever since the band reunited in Los Angeles for the first time in over a decade, and their name and music started being thrown around with a bit more regularity, I’d been interested in witnessing their ferocity first hand.  Fortunately for me, I had a side stage view of the action when the band returned to Echo Park, this time with the equally volatile, Los Crudos, for an epic evening of hardcore.  The talk I’d heard of the band’s brutal sonic delivery were no joke when witnessed first hand, and I ended up being impressed by both the no holds barred fury of INFEST’s sound but also by their ability to keep it up for something like 45 minutes.  The band’s sound was the sonic equivalent of a rocket sled ride with engine burning at full force and by the end of the set, the physically taxing nature of the INFEST’s style became evidenced by the giant pools of sweat forming underneath each band member. However, no matter how tired the group must’ve been towards the end of their performance, not once did anyone drag or stop swinging for the head with their music.

Like I said, this type of hardcore isn’t generally the style I find myself gravitating towards, but after seeing INFEST live, I couldn’t help but become an instant fan.  Seeing a band pour that much of themselves into their music was awe inspiring, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever forget.

More information on INFEST can be found at their Facebook.  Copies of many of their Facebook.  Copies of most of the band’s catalog is long out of print, so happy hunting!

ArtistINFEST
TitleMachismo
AlbumSlave
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Yesterday, I put in my pre-order for the new Joyce Manor record, Never Hungover Again, being put out by the fine folks as Epitaph Records in the near future.  So perhaps it’s appropriate to post an old favorite by the band.

The above, “Beach Community,” comes from the band’s self-titled debut and definitely exemplifies all of the things I’ve come to love about the group. From those opening drum hits that immediately command the attention, to the ensuing head bobbing, foot tapping riffs and rhythms the whole band creates as they dive in masterfully in the tune’s first few seconds, the song is sublime perfection.  In addition to the band’s throbbing tempo, the amount of lyrical vulnerability allowed by the group, and the passion with which singer/guitarist Barry Johnson delivers them is wonderfully impressive.  The song’s words tell a familiar story of heartbreak, but the cadence at which they come out and work with each other is fun and beautiful at the same time. 

I’ve seen audiences literally explode when the band unleashes this song, and for how good of a song “Beach Community” is, it’s almost not surprising.  A song like this deserves the intense, wild reception it gets because not only are the feelings in the song easily relatable to anybody who’s been in love on more than a few occasions, the strength with which it’s delivered can bring those emotions back out, making it particularly cathartic.

More information on Joyce Manor can be found at their Facebook.  Copies of their self-titled debut can be picked up via Asian Man Records.  Copies of their new release, Never Hungover Again, can be pre-ordered via Kings Road Merch.

ArtistJoyce Manor
TitleBeach Community
AlbumJoyce Manor