Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Resurrection: Amanda Palmer At The Roxy

How do you follow up a project named Who Killed Amanda Palmer? Her previous effort was an LP as well as an art book of crime scene photos of the subject in question.  Not to mention, how do you do it without a record label?  The answer will be revealed fully in September, thanks to the wonder of her committed fanbase setting Kickstarter on fire, in the form of a new work entitled: Theatre Is Evil.  Along with a new band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, this appearance at the Roxy worked as a premier of both.
The last time we saw Amanda was her triumphant appearance at Coachella in 2009, at the height of her solo tour, and she certainly hasn't been sleeping in the interim.  Finally, all the planning and plot-hatching has come to fruition, and the audience was boisterous and attentive, changing to fit the mood of the songs.  But mostly boisterous.  It was a celebration, and Palmer is no shrinking violet when it comes to commanding the spotlight.
The band that she's spent so much time praising during the recording of the record lived up to her every boast.  The power of the Grand Theft Orchestra was most evident in their rendition of "Missed Me" from the first Dresden Dolls record, as they raced between instruments in a divine experiment in controlled chaos.
Among the new songs that made a deep impression were: "Trout Mask Replica", and "The Bed Song".  Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra will be back in LA in September at the Fonda Theater, and we will revisit the issue at that point.  All in all, a grand unveiling...
Amanda and the Magic Conch...
Do It With A Rockstar
Missed Me
The Killing Type
Girl Anachronism
Trout Heart Replica
The Bed Song
Half Jack
Want It Back
Massachusetts Avenue
Olly Olly Oxen Free
Leeds United
(courtesy of

Jherek and Chad strike a pose...
Jherek Bischoff provided a nice bridge in the evening, not only playing bass in GTO, but filling the middle slot by bringing on a hastily recruited and rehearsed string quartet to essay songs from his recent LP.  Apparently, he's doing this with a different configuration in each city.

It was a quiet, but intense set that the audience focused for.  Craig Werden popped in for a guest vocal appearance, and Jhered Bischoff's work throughout the evening was the night's big takeaway.
Die Rotten Punkte from Berlin did the opening honors, quickly winning the crowd over with a hilarious and charming set that didn't short on the rock.
Laurel and Hardy meets the White Stripes is probably most apt, and set pieces included adventures with bananas, and 'sibling' arguments aplenty.  Absolutely delightful.
A Boy und his Banana...
For those of you who made it this far, here's a taste of Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra's newest work.  The video for "Want It Back", is exquisitely detailed, excruciatingly shot, and NSFW...Behold below:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Afghan Whigs: New Track/West Coast Dates

Behold the second new track from the Afghan Whigs since their resuscitation.  "Lovecrimes" is a cover of a Frank Ocean track that they've been dropping into their live shows lately.  An utterly compelling rendition-I've had it on repeat all week.

Speaking of live shows, the band has announced more new dates, including a West Coast swing that involves Seattle, Portland, the Fillmore in San Francisco on November 7th, and the Fonda Theater on November 9th.
Tickets go onsale Sunday-22 (SF) and Saturday-21 (LA), and presale action has been brisk, so it's probably advisable to strike sooner, rather than later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Races: A Homecoming-Live At The Troubadour

Races took over the Troubadour on July 6 for a homecoming event, celebrating their debut, Year Of The Witch, before they embark on another tour of the US, this time with Saint MotelWhen last we encountered Races, they were on the very cusp of the LP's release, and since then they've been hard at work.
Races take an epic widescreen recorded sound and pummel it live, but without sacrificing the melodies.  The live setting is where one truly appreciates the muscle the rest of the band brings to the table.  What started as Wade Ryff's solo project, gelled with Breanna Wood, Lucas Ventura, Devon Lee, Garth Herberg, and Oliver Hild under the name Black Jesus.  After a successful Kickstarter project in 2011, the band adopted their current name and set forth to make what became Year Of The Witch.

They hosted a generous bill, more on which below.  In the category of value per dollar, this was one of the most consistent nights I've been to this year.  Each band was more than watchable, and Races lived up to being at the top of the list, thrilling what was truly an all ages crowd.
First single "Big Broom" was a highlight, the harmonies seeming to etch themselves into the walls.
Another high point was "Walk Through The Fire", which bandleader Wade Ryff admitted to being on the fence about performing, but as you can see below, it came off well.

 They capped off the night by bringing back opener Lili Haydn for a rousing finish.  All in all, a fine welcome home, and we'll look forward to seeing what the future has in hold for them.  And a special shout out to the painter, (whose name I missed), working hard all night at the back of stage.  He seemed as inspired by the music as those making it.
 Gliss took charge of the often difficult middle slot, upping the ante with a shimmering cloud of noisy guitar goodness.  The LA based trio, Victoria Cecilia, Martin Klingman, and David Reiss, has put in touring time in Europe, and based on this set, is on the verge of making some waves stateside.  They've been playing together for 7 or 8 years, and it was reflected in their tightness.  Their most recent LP was Devotion Implosion, and they are currently working on a new one.

Lili Haydn opened the show with a lively flourish, fronting a full, (and fully talented), band.  The violinist was an intense, magnetic presence on the stage, and based on post-set bar chatter, totally won over the audience.  "I Am A Man" was the track I couldn't get off my mind, well after the band left the stage.  
 She has had a number of high profile backing gigs, including playing with Roger Waters at his Coachella performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon.  She is currently working on a new LP, hopefully out by year's end.  Below is an opportunity to sample her work:


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lucinda Williams In Big Sur

29 JUNE, 2012
Lucinda Williams made a rare stripped down appearance at the Henry Miller Library, ably accompanied by guitarist Doug Pettibone, as she took a rambling tour of her catalogue, touching on every album except West over the course of a nearly two hour show.  She was in fine form, and seemed to weight the set away from the hits, and more towards the heart. 
Always a taskmaster on stage, Lucinda's mood this evening befit the tranquil environs-even when it wasn't letter perfect, she kept at it, or had a laugh and moved on.  The sound was just right, and enough can't be said of Doug Pettibone's playing throughout the night, providing just the right touch to help drive the songs and make up for the lack of band, but not overwhelm.
Aside from the old favorites, it was a particular thrill to be blessed with the debut of not one, but two new songs: "When I Look At The World", (above), and "Bitter Memory", (below).  Lucinda mentioned a clutch of twenty songs ready to go, so it would appear that a new album will be in the offing in the not too distant future.
Lucinda is one of the few artists that I honestly can't remember how many times I've seen over the last twenty plus years.  I've caught her in most conceivable settings, from little bars to theaters to arenas, headlining, supporting at benefits, or as an opening act, but this...this was the best I've ever seen her.

As always, it ultimately comes down to That Voice, the magnificently wracked instrument that is probably as close as this generation gets to Billie Holiday, in terms of translating the songs into a unique expression.  Always a wonder to behold, in this setting it was a beacon among the pines.

Side Of The Road
I Don't Know How You're Livin'
World Without Tears
When I Look At The World (new)
Ugly Truth
Lake Charles
Bitter Memory (new)
People Talkin'
Crescent City (3 attempts, then move on)
Well Well Well
Jailhouse Tears
Out Of Touch
Down The Big Road Blues
Changed The Locks
Honey Bee

I Ain't Got No Home (Woody Guthrie)
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues (Skip James)
Get Right With God

Closing note: Need to mention the fine job that Magnus & the gang do at the Henry Miller Library-every show there feels special, and it is.  They are currently at just over 10% of this year's fundraising goal.  If you have the means, please help them continue to do their good work!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Goodbye Girls

 Christopher Owen of Girls announced his departure from that outfit today, bringing to close a chapter of one of the more interesting groups in the last five years.  Their recorded output consisted of a much buzzed about debut entitled Album, followed up by an EP, Broken Dreams Club, that neatly sidestepped the dreaded 'Sophomore Slump', and then further upped the ante with Father, Son, , one of last year's best.  All the albums were on True Panther.   It was fun to watch the growth of the group.  As Owen matured as a writer, so did JR White's musical settings, and it can be said that they're going out at the top of their game.
In his own words:

1) Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make
2) I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress
3) I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything. Sincerely–Christopher
To retrace the journey, here's a clip from their Coachella debut in 2010:
And their final official video: