Friday, March 19, 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 3/17 at HOB Anaheim Review

In one of their hit songs, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club answers their own question. They ask, “Whatever happened to my rock and roll?”

This is a valid question when discussing today’s underground music. We are surrounded by electronic beats and soft folksy tunes today but when searching for raw rock and roll, listeners are forced to look to the past.

At BRMC’s Tuesday performance at the House of Blues Anaheim, they answered their question with their loud guitar and heavy drums and said, “Rock and Roll is right here.”

This was apparent in the audience. While waiting for the band to start, I was surrounded by mostly men aged 50+. Some were singing along to the Iggy Pop playing in the background, probably reminiscing about when they saw The Stooges when they were my age. Of course BRMC would have an older audience; they have the same no-nonsense raw rock that The Stooges and their contemporaries have.

The band walked out on stage without saying a word, and jumped right into their music. The first thing I noticed was their new drummer, Leah Shapiro. Her heavy drums stood out in the third song of the evening, “Stop” and “Berlin.”

The first half of their set was filled with waves of fast songs to slow songs, then slowed down signifigantly mid-set. This brought the best part of the evening.

Robert sat at the piano under the spotlight and played a most beautiful rendition of the Edgar Allen Poe poem, “Annabelle Lee”. It was haunting, it was gorgeous, just like Poe wrote it. A faithful tribute.

The mood was stopped abruptly by the sharp harmonica intro of “Ain’t No Easy Way”, and continued to step up the pace with “Spread Your Love.”

Peter Hayes brought you back down again with his great acoustic solo of “Sympathetic Noose.”

The title track off their new album “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” was another stand out song.

They played three encore songs, and ended with “Open Invitation”, one of their slower, sad songs. They let us down gently, and walked away just as silent as they entered,

I heard an audience member asked as I was walked away, “Why would they end with that song?”

You can’t expect anything else from a band of rebels.

-Taylor Hamby

Go Beyond Wonderland

Get the lights, beaded bracelets’ and glow sticks ready for a world that takes you Beyond Wonderland.

Attendees can dance and shuffle the night away on March 20 at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino . The Beyond Wonderland music festival is hosted by a popular event planner Insomniac.

More than 30,000 people are expected to attend this electric event are Paul Van Dyk, Sander Van Doorm and Bart M More.

The venue holds four themed areas that reminisce back to Alice in Wonderland such as arenas called Madhatters Castle, Queens Domain, Caterpillars Garden and Chess Village.

There is a bar located inside of the arena as well.

Anh Pham, a 19 year old Technology Major at Orange Coast College said she is going for the line-up and the people.

“Pretty much everyone who knows about this event is going,” she said. “I’m stoked.”

On the other hand people like Cindy Nguyen, an 18-year-old business major at OCC, said it doesn’t matter to her who’s going to be there.

“I never really know who the line-up is,” she said. “I go to exchange beaded bracelets, and dance all night.”

Ticket prices started out at around $45 but as the event comes closer, prices have gone to $60-$70.

Marie Youth, an 18-year-old nursing student at OCC, said the cost doesn’t bother her.

“The money is well worth it,” she said. “It does get pricey but these events are amazing. You will have one of the best nights of your life.”

-Angel Rodriguez

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gorillaz recycle genres in "Plastic Beach"

Damon Albarn and his Gorillaz returned with “Plastic Beach” Tuesday with an alluring and intoxicating assimilation of various genres.

“Plastic Beach” is a world where waste products and plastics are turned into new toys. The plan here is to salvage from different musical styles such as hip-hop and Arabic music.

The music is as eclectic as the collaborations, which include rapper, Mos Def, and rock legend, Lou Reed. Gorillaz have been a rotating set of musicians, but Albarn has always been in control, enforcing his vision.

“White Flag” is a prime example of the musical combinations. The Lebanese Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music accompanies low-key British rappers Kano and Bushy creating an exotic blend of dub and Arabian strings.

The electric pop of “Stylo” is hypnotizing with its disco style beat and atmospheric synthesizers. Mos Def’s mellow delivery compliments old-school soul singer, Bobby Womack’s dramatic belting.

“Superfast Jellyfish,” with the help of Gruff Rhys and De La Soul, is the most animated tune on the album. De La Soul is as funky as he was on “Feel Good, Inc.” and Rhys sings lines like, “the sea is radioactive,” in a fun, robotic voice.

“Empire Ants,” which features Little Dragon, might be the best song on the album. Albarn takes the microphone and sings softly over an acoustic guitar and a shimmering piano. When Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano starts singing, the music swirls into a spacey ballad with haunting synthesizers and a soothing rhythm.

But, there are a few things that make “Plastic Beach” an imperfect record.

This is Albarn’s first time as the producer of a Gorillaz album, and without Dan “The Automator” Nakamura or Danger Mouse there to condense the music, the album does seem to stretch a bit. It also lacks the pop brilliance of songs like “Clint Eastwood” and “Dare.”

“Demon Days” was a goliath of a record, with huge commercial and critical success, and expectations for the next album were tremendous.

Still, “Plastic Beach” is an excellent record, and Albarn continues to stretch his musical horizons creating some of the most infectious and original music of the 2000s.

-James Vu

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Transference" is Spoon at their best.

Spoon adds another first-class release to their brilliant discography with “Transference.”

Almost three years after the release of the critically acclaimed “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,” Spoon begins the decade with a rougher and grittier release.

“Transference” was self-produced and is reminiscent of their first record, 1996’s “Telephono.” The music on the new album is more raw rock ‘n‘ roll.

The first single, “Got Nuffin,” released six months prior to the album, was the first implication of the album’s rawness.

Spoon remains in top form despite the fact that most of the songs are mostly in their demo form.

The complexity of the music on “Transference” is created through the careful construction of the songs, not the glossing over in the studio.

Britt Daniel, the lead singer, once again demonstrates his skills in writing songs. The roughness in the songs emits a higher emotional resonance.

“Written in Reverse” is one of the more aggressive songs. It begins with the lines, “I’m writing this to you in reverse, someone better call a hearse.”

Daniel snarls and yells about a declining relationship over a pounding piano and an unsteady beat.

The lack of studio buff works best on the piano ballad, “Goodnight Laura,” revealing a more tender and delicate side to the album.

Emotions run high as Daniel croons a loved one to sleep. The intimacy of the performance amplifies its effect, similar to the impact of a child’s lullaby sung before bed time.

Piano chords are pressed methodically against a building rhythm on the second half of track six, “I Saw the Light.”

This is Spoon at their best, rationalizing during a jam session. No notes are wasted and every instrument is utilized efficiently.

All these abilities would go to waste if the songs themselves were not good. Even the more difficult songs are filled with plenty of hooks and grooves here to please rock and pop fans.

Transference is one of those albums that should be listened to a few times before passing judgment. However, it is a testament to one of the best bands of the 2000s and their skills in consistently producing great albums.

-James Vu


Tyson McAdoo peddles his wares at Musink 2010.

Fifty-four vendors, more than 300 tattoo artists, 29 bands and a skate ramp jam — all within a three-day period.

This is Musink.

The three-day music, tattoo and skate festival, celebrating its third year, was held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Sean Akhavan, Musink’s event coordinator, said the main reason he picked the OC Fairgrounds was because of its access to multiple buildings and the fact that Orange County doesn’t have a really good tattoo convention.

“If you notice all of the same people listening to music all have tattoos. I think it’s a culture that blends,” Akhavan said.

The bands are chosen on availability and Akhavan said he tries to get the best artists from all around the world so the festival maintains a wide variety for any type of spectator.

“As long as the event is successful and people have a great time, that is all that matters,” Akhavan said.

Some may be intimidated walking into a festival where the majority of attendees are tattooed from head to toe, but Peter Levy, owner of Under the Gun Tattoo Company in Hollywood, was the first to throw away this perception.

“I think people misunderstand the work of tattooing because I think it is art. The truth is I think it is the most unbelievable form of art, in that you really don’t have a second try. You don’t take the paper, you don’t throw it in the garbage, you get one shot,” Levy said.

Levy said his favorite part of Musink is to see other artists like Robert Hernandez who came from Spain and to show off his own body artwork.

“This festival, Musink, is unlike many others — it has a really awesome display of wonderful artists where you have a lot of tattoo conventions out there that don’t really focus on the art and more on the money,” Levy said.

Along with the vendors, there were also traditional artists there as well.

Meet Tyson McAdoo, a tattooed 31-year-old pin up artist who has dabbled in tattooing and even worked for Marvel and DC while maintaining a well groomed handle bar moustache.

“It (Musink) is a family reunion all weekend. Even if it is not your thing it’ll blow you away because it’s such good quality. We say it’s a private subculture but it’s really as mainstream as it gets,” McAdoo said. “We’re not like everyone else — we are everyone else so why not have more people a part of the party.”

There were also tattoo artists like Hoser, an artist for Empire Tattoo in the Redlands, who could not wait to see the bands NOFX and Face to Face.

“It gives us a chance for other people to see our work and get your ideas out there. Some people like it some people don’t but that’s the best part about it. It is life and you should expose yourself to as much stuff as possible,” Hoser said.

Acoustic Side of OC Music Awards

At the most heavily attended Acoustic Finals night in OC Music Awards history, Billy Kernkamp and his band came out on top, walking away with $2,500 toward Fender gear and four days of recording time at Red Bull Studios.

The event was held Friday at the historic Yost Theater in Santa Ana, able to seat up to 800 fans as opposed to last year’s show at the Gypsy Den, which holds a capacity of less than 100.

But the large venue didn’t intimidate the opening band, I Hate You Just Kidding, who opened with a sweet and intimate set. The Costa Mesa couple that makes up the band, guitarist Jeremy Brock and singer Jessi Fulghum, playfully and humbly talked to one another and the audience throughout their set, adding to the band’s warm atmosphere.

Little things like a toy glockenspiel, an occasional harmonica harmony and a snare drum beat with one stick quickly built an endearing rapport with the audience as well.

“It seemed like everybody really liked it, so we’re happy about that and we did our best,” Fulghum said, “We just want for more people to have heard of us.”

Friday night’s contest winner, Billy Kernkamp, took the stage next with a guest guitarist before bringing out the whole band.

The stage grew more and more crowded throughout the set, growing from only two musicians to six, then 10, finally ending the set with 11 band members and fans on stage, all singing and having a great time.

“Thank you so much to the Orange County Music Awards for bringing us all together and supporting each other,” Kernkamp said during his set. “I want you to remember, it’s not about us, it’s about you guys coming out and supporting. You guys’ coming out is why we do this.”

The alternative country singer/songwriter was nominated for Country Americana last year as well, but did not progress. Friday night Kernkamp and his band were No. 1.

“I feel great, I love it,” Kernkamp said before being announced as the evening’s winner. “It’s not about awards. The validation comes from when my mom tells me I did good.”

Following Kernkamp, Stacy Clark overcame minor equipment malfunctions to present a Katy Perry/Avril Lavigne fusion.

Clark’s strongest songs, including “Touch and Go” as featured in the latest Bell Palm Pre commercial, were those when her guitar was laid down and she let her hips sway.

Marc B followed with his toe tapping surf/reggae songs as the audience continued to build. Bassist Yoni Berk was especially enjoyable to watch, hitting the groove hard and infecting the audience with what can only be described as “boogie.”

Mike Vitale took the stage alone next, closing the night with endearing songs and a humorous rapport with the audience.

Vitale performed with enthusiasm and a smile on his face, utilizing loop pedals and audience chants to close out the night.

OC Music Awards director of events and marketing Ashley Eckenweiler couldn’t have been happier at Friday night’s turnout.

“This is our largest turnout for the best live acoustic finals yet,” Eckenweiler said in an interview between sets. “This year has had the largest turnout at every showcase we’ve had. I think the best bands have been involved and we have great sponsors this year as well.”

At the end of the night, OC Music Awards producer Luke Allen took the stage, armed with a giant check and a Red Bull recording certificate.

Finally, and without overbearing suspense, Allen announced Kernkamp as the evening’s winner.

“I know it’s not cool to be excited about these things, but I’m really pumped guys,” Kernkamp said into the mic while accepting his prize. “I know I say this all the time, but we are here to serve you. We do this because of you.”

-David Sachs