Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are You Scared to Get Sad?

I am aware that so many of my posts have been dublab related lately. That has much to do with the fact that dublab has been occupying a great deal of my time, and thought lately. There have been other things as well, but more on them later...

Dublab has a "Give Up," season wherein which two of the dublab founders Mark "Frosty" McNeil, and Jimmy Tamborello put on sad, slowdance nights. The season was shortened this year, but that did not detract from it's impact. Team Hungry Beat! had a blast a few Sundays ago reliving our teenage years, or for others, creating the teenage years that we only wish we could have experienced.

I was asked to contribute a set to a live "Give Up" Tuesday Transmission during the month of February. As it happens, I put more thought into this particular session than I ever have to any other DJ set that I have ever composed. Oddly enough, composing this set of sad songs was really fun.

It was my initial plan to bring together the most devastating, heart-breaking downers that I could find, but then this article on the Tangents archive made me slightly re-think that plan. I'd heard the Peggy Lee song that came in at number ten maybe once before seeing it on that list. "Oh that would be perfect!" I thought. I found a copy of the record of the same name, Is That All There Is?, at Record Surplus the very next day. Thus my new plan for the set was in motion. The characters in this set bemoan apathy, and ponder the state they are in. They watch trains go down the tracks wishing they were somewhere else, and they watch the tide roll away as they are wasting time. They contemplate similarly minded friends who "sit alone for hours, thinking only of flowers." Relationships are dreamed of, but never attained. They struggle to put together in their minds what exactly it is that people do all day, and surely everyone of them has at some point asked the question, "Is that all there is?"

And of course if it is, then we should all most definitely keep dancing.

You can download the session, and view the tracklisting here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First the Bad News, Then the Better News...

Anyone who is in the L.A. area, and was planning to venture out to the Echo to see the Tartans on Sunday night should still plan to do so, as Sea Lions are still playing, and the Part Time Punks will still be spinning some of the best 7"s ever pressed, but the Tartans are now unable to appear. It seems that on Wednesday night as drummer Lon was biking home, he was hit by a car. They were initially planning to have him released yesterday, but it turns out that assessment came too quickly. He is having surgery today to reconnect some muscles, and apparently there are broken bones as well. Hopefully this will all be a distant memory by the time their planned April and May shows roll around, but turning around to play a show two days after surgery would be next to impossible.

In far more positive Tartans news, have you been to their Myspace page lately? Many silent prayers have been answered, and finally a recorded version of "West of La Brea," exists for our collective listening pleasure. I haven't been able to stop humming that one, though it's becoming increasingly clear that the stand out recording of their next 7" will most certainly be "Tarmac." I've always enjoyed the song live, but on the recording all of the various elements that make it an interesting song seem far more apparent. That's just an internet recording too, I can't imagine how lovely it will sound on vinyl.

Also, very briefly, I've been ask to join the staff for the updated version of this website. Right now the link will still take you to the blogspot page, but hopefully by next week the shift to a more customized website will have been made. My role so far in these proceedings will be to search for new bands to recommend, and to organize a more expansive CD/single review section. Right now the site is mainly focused on L.A. music, but hopefully with the additional staff the coverage will become a bit more international. Naturally, I will also try to post as many indiepop reviews here as I am able to in hopes that some very deserving bands will have a chance to reach a wider audience. It's all an experiment at this point, but it's an exciting challenge to be sure. Plus, I finally feel genuinely productive for the first time so far this year! Which is nice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I've Got Falling and Laughing (Falling and Laughing, Falling and Laughing...)

As I've mentioned before, I contribute regularly to an online Radio Station called I've also mentioned that I am in the process of putting together an indiepop related themestream for the station. Two sessions have just been added to the dublab archive that will eventually be added to that very themestream.

The idea was brought about somewhat by a comment that was left on Hungry Beat's Myspace page (before we had even held our first night) by our friend Krister who used to put on a similar night in Malmo, Sweden. He noticed that we were on the same night each month, and that we should look into doing virtual guest DJ sets. I mentioned this on Hungry Beat! night one to dublab Ale, and he brought up the idea of the themestream. At the rate that I am going in terms of actually compiling these things, this theme will likely be in place by early 2015. I'm kidding, of course, I hope to have it all worked out over the course of this year. So far I've been thrilled by the diversity of ideas that I've been presented with as I've been reaching out to people, and putting this all together.

So far (fairly appropriately I think) my favorite session has come from the person whose comment set this idea into motion. I don't know how many people when approached about creating an indiepop session would automatically think to create a history of noisy guitar music that traces the threads from James Chance to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This is precisely what Kris has done for us though, and it sounds fantastic. I made the possible mistake of listening to it for the first time while walking around my neighborhood. I had to remind myself (more than once) that mouthing along the words to a Go Sailor song while taking such a walk is not quite appropriate, and probably made me appear to be mentally ill. Still a set good enough to make me momentarily forget societal norms surely must be good for making an hour of work pass by more quickly. You can (and should) listen to that set here.

Also new to the archive is a set that I contributed with my friend Allan Kingdom who was the guitarist for this band. If you don't currently own that Siddeleys retrospective that was my not so subtle way of hinting that you should. Naturally I asked Allan to put together a set for the pop themestream that I was working on, and it was his idea that it would be more fun to turn that into an installment of my show (Not Quite Punk) and carry on a conversation in tribute to Orange Juice. What it turned out to be is Allan filling us in on a lot of obscure Orange Juice history that I wouldn't even know where to begin to search for otherwise, and demonstrating connections to other bands and songs that influenced them. My role as it turns out was to come across as a silly fangirl, and say, "Wow..." a lot. Anyway, excluding my contributions, the set is very informative, and contains several live performances, and radio sessions that you are not too likely to find to easily anywhere else. Listen to that set here.

There is talk of extending this set into an overall Postcard Records of Scotland tribute, with a Josef K/Aztec Camera session next, and then a Go-Betweens set to round things out. There are several other label tributes that I am attempting to organize, I will naturally do my best to keep you posted as these take shape.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Listening Too Long To One Song: Scars "All About You"

I haven't been obsessed with a song to the point where I simply had to write something about it for far too long. I usually have these impulses surrounding the dance party night that I take part in (Hungry Beat!) which occurred this past Saturday. However I haven't really been able to expound upon them as I have apparently been without any intelligent thought for the past month or so. Of course it's debatable if anything that I've ever typed around these parts could honestly be described as "intelligent" at all, but it's just so lovely to geek out about records you know?

On that note, I spent the greater part of my day yesterday listening to this song "All About You." I woke up far too early considering that we weren't finished cleaning the venue until 4 A.M. Of course I stayed in bed until the exact second that my need to put food in my stomach surpassed my desire to fall back asleep. I got up and made toast, and figured that I would go ahead and transcribe the playlist. When I saw the name Scars on the list, I immediately thought that I had to hear the song again at that moment, and listening to it over and over again yesterday while typing up the playlist was some of the most fun I've had in a long time. This may also have something to do with the fact that Brian played "Ceiling to the Floor" by Mighty Mighty, but he wrote it as Mighty to the second power, or Mighty squared depending upon how you look at it. I still can't figure out whether or not multiplying Mighty by Mighty would actually result in Mighty Mighty, but seeing that small 2 next to the word Mighty when I had completely forgotten that he wrote it that way made me laugh out loud.

Scars were on my radar long before I ever heard their music. I'm sure that I came across their name when I was searching the internet for any information to do with the bands most commonly associated with the "Sound of Young Scotland" label (Orange Juice, Josef K, etc.) I have no idea where I read it, but someone somewhere mentioned Scars, and how great and influential they were. I did a quick search for any vinyl that might have been for sale somewhere, found nothing, and kind of let the band's name reside in the back of my mind for awhile. Then about a month ago I purchased an iphone, began a seemingly endless revelry in the fact that I can now listen to lastfm while I am driving, and had this song played for me through a Josef K (one of my other current obsessions) station. I had such a strong reaction to this song when I first heard it, and since I was driving it took me a minute to look down to see what was playing. When I finally did look down I began to mentally kick myself for not persuing this band more fervently when I first read about them. Granted, when I read about Scars I was not expecting such a blast of exciting straightforward pop. It makes sense upon further research that this was their most recognizable single at the time, and it came about later on in their career when they were beginning to move into a more melodic direction with their sound. I was able to procure a copy of this 7" whose b-side Author! Author! has more of the arty post punk sound that I was expecting from this band though it still showcases a far poppier sound than any of the earlier singles that I've managed to hear. That side of Scars is genius as well, but there really is just nothing like that rush of pure pop that is "All About You." Both songs appeared on the band's only LP (also titled Author! Author!) which has been subsequently re-issued as a CD. It doesn't seem to be too widely available, but it's not extremely difficult to find, or terribly expensive either. A quick Google search should provide you with favorable results if that's something that interests you. In the meantime, I found a fantastic performance of "All About You" on a 1981 episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test. There are also plenty of videos up that feature earlier Scars tracks, and those are very well worth checking out while you are on the page. You can read more about Scars on their Wikipedia Page.