Friday, August 31, 2012

Divine Fits: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

28 AUGUST, 2012
Divine Fits celebrated the release of their debut LP, A Thing Called Divine Fits, with the mother of all record release parties-an evening at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Divine Fits are: Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs, Wolf Parade), and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks).  They've banded together in what some might slap with the hoary phrase 'supergroup', given the members backgrounds, but it's much closer in sentiment and execution to Wild Flag, which happened to have Britt Daniel produce their first single. There's no trace of ego, and the creation of an entity that's far more than the sum of its parts.  And did I mention that they rock?

This was show #9 for the band, with Boeckner taking the opportunity to riff on the Beatles "Revolution #9" for the occasion, and the third in a mini-LA-residency, (see above poster).  They wasted no time getting the ball rolling with the Daniel leading "Flaggin A Ride", and Boeckner showed his stuff on "My Love Is Real", (videos above and below, respectively). 

Other highlights of the evening were "Wouldn't That Be Nice", which took full dynamic advantage of the old room, and "Civilian Stripes" was given an affecting reading.  That the band is so seamless after such a short time is notable, and Boeckner and Daniel have stated in interview that they would like it to be a going concern.
Britt Daniel, of course, is no stranger to these pages.  As mastermind of Spoon, he made our radar at Coachella in 2010, and later in the year at the Matador 21 celebration in Las Vegas.
What a year for Dan Boeckner, not only this new project, but a Polaris Prize nomination for the final Handsome Furs record, Sound Kapital was a welcome surprise after the band wound up earlier this year.  Didn't realize at the time that their January gig covered here would be among the band's last.
While not sporting his mates high profiles, it was cool to notice the way Sam Brown took directional charge with his playing, and helped lift the songs intensity above the recorded versions.  It will be interesting to see this band again with more shows under their belt.  The mind reels...
A Thing Called Divine Fits, released 28 August on MERGE Records.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Woodsist 2012: Sights and Sounds (day two)

06 AUGUST, 2012 (day two)
Day two of the Woodsist Festival commenced in the bright of sun that the previous day lacked, and sonically headed for the outer fringes, before coming back to anchor with an earthy rock closing.  Ducktails, (Matt Mondanile from Real Estate), started the afternoon with ambient guitar loop goodness, giving way to Sun Araw, who took that theme and ran further out with it.  Peaking Lights entranced the crowd with their dub-informed soundscapes, quickly bringing down the sound system.  The duo paced out the awkward time 'til restoration, and once the issues were in check, gave what was my favorite performance of the weekend, totally entrancing.  Fresh and Onlys brought the rock back to the stage, unveiling a healthy dose of their upcoming LP, Long Slow Dance, due in September.  They were lean and wired, and the crowd ate it up.

Sun Araw

Sun Araw

Sun Araw

Peaking Lights

Peaking Lights
Peaking Lights

Fresh and Onlys
Fresh And Onlys

The Fresh and Onlys took my final dregs of energy, and I called it a weekend as Thee Oh Sees came on, knowing I would catch up with them on their home turf at the Outsidelands Festival in San Francisco a week later.  They made a hero's entrance-the crowd making more noise than anything heard that weekend.   

It was an amazing weekend, and thanks go out to the Woodsist family and the Henry Miller Library for not only putting this together, but for keeping the vibe so special.  Shouts are due, of course, to all the bands who made the trek up or down Highway One, as well as the awesome food and fashion vendors, including Vacation, from San Francisco.  Until next year...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Woodsist Fest 2012: Sights and Sounds (day one)

Brooklyn based Woods throws the backyard party known as the Woodsist Festival at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur.  Now in its 5th year, it's still a family affair in feel, but a truly a festival in talent and execution, celebrating the Woodsist label.  This year's lineup featured Real Estate, Pierced Arrows, Woods, White Fence, and Mantles on day one. Despite the gray gloom lurking overhead, the consistency of bands carried the day, with each band standing out in their own way.

Highlights of the day included hearing cuts from Woods forthcoming LP, Bend Beyond.  The always engaging White Fence set one of the day's higher bars with their guitar interplay.  Mantles was new to me, but utterly enjoyable, with concise, rocking songs.  Pierced Arrows drew the day's first crowd to clog the main stage, battering the ears beautifully with a well-placed stack of Marshalls.  Real Estate, fresh off of headlining the Fonda Theater in L.A. the previous night, brought things to a close with a well received set that included drawn out versions of their songs that captured the audience.
Real Estate
Real Estate

Pierced Arrows
Pierced Arrows




White Fence
White Fence
White Fence


Monday, August 6, 2012

Subversion Is The Move: Dirty Projectors/Wye Oak Live

28 JULY, 2012
Dirty Projectors and Wye Oak teamed up for one of the year's more satisfying shows, certainly in the value per dollar department.  Wye Oak, the duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, led off the proceedings by fearlessly plunging into a brand new song.  And that pretty much encapsulates everything you need to know about the band in one quick nutshell.  Over the past few years they've developed into one of the leading lights of whatever we call this Indie Rock Thing, ignoring fashion and flash, simply putting their heads down and working, keeping their own counsel, and always moving forward.

They swung quickly back into a double shot from last year's Civilian, before letting loose another new song, this one not a complete surprise, as it recently appeared online as part of the Adult Swim Singles Program.  "Spiral" found themselves moving towards Portishead territory, as Andy Stack stepped out from behind the drum kit to wield a bass.  Even after a lengthy set by opening band standards, Wye Oak left them wanting more.
Wye Oak

Dirty Projectors
Some bands might have wilted slightly following up a set like that, but it's a measure of how far the Dirty Projectors have come that they didn't miss a beat.  Opening up with the bucolic title track of their latest LP Swing Lo Magellan, they sequed into the album's opening track, "Offspring Are Blank", and when they hit the solo, it was a perfect Brian May fuzz tone that suggested the Dirty Projectors are hunting much bigger game these days.
The band is tighter, and more volitale these days, and the songs on the new LP are stripped down...well, songs!  What used to meander is now polished and gleaming, and the sheer power of "Gun Has No Trigger" suggested an alternate world James Bond theme.  "Maybe That Was It" was essayed in a stark and bluesy fashion, and one of the evening's highlights was the vocal showcase of "Beautiful Mother", from Mount Wittenberg Orca, their collaborative suite with Bjork, and it was rewarded with some of the strongest audience reaction to that point.
At this point, the Dirty Projectors sound has gelled to the point where they can cop just about anything, and remake it in their own image, suggesting that maybe the band and the Old Mainstream might not be so far apart after all.

Dirty Projectors Set List:
Swing Lo Magellan
Offspring Are Blank
About to Die
See What She Seeing
The Socialites
Cannibal Resource
Gun Has No Trigger
No Intention
Beautiful Mother
Maybe That Was It
Just From Chevron
Useful Chamber
Unto Caesar

Dance for You
Stillness Is the Move
Impregnable Question
Bonus: Make sure you follow the link to the Dirty Projector's website, to answer the question: "What's next..." in the form of a trailer for a short film directed by David Longstreth entitled: Hi Custodian.