Monday, September 27, 2010

Jeramiah Red kicks up dirty blues

JERAMIAH RED: (from left) Wes Dickson, Travis Ruiz, Matt Pleskacz, Ian Cullen, Tim Miller. Photo by Austin Ruiz.

            With a soulful, charismatic swagger, Jeramiah Red is kicking up dust in the Orange County music scene with reckless abandon.
            Inspired by acts like The Black Keys and Bob Dylan, Jeramiah Red’s sound is an intoxicating blend of blues and classic rock. The bite of the group’s lyrics coupled with the warm tones of acoustic guitar and harmonica make every song go down like the whiskey in their veins, and they are picking up speed.
            Jeramiah Red rose from the ashes of several of the members’ past acts. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Wes Dickson, 24, played in punk band The Relentless with Jeramiah Red’s bassist Tim Miller, 24, prior to forming the group.
Vocalist and lead guitarist Ian Cullen, 21, drummer Matt Pleskacz, 25, and percussionist and harmonica player Travis Ruiz, 23, were also in a former band together. Cullen described the band, they asked not to include the name, as a “hip-hop Jack Johnson band.”
The two former bands merged into Jeramiah Red in 2008.
            “Me and Wes are from such different backgrounds that we come together between mainstream and alternative,” Cullen said.
            To watch Jeramiah Red play is to see five friends really work toward something they all feel potential in. Their energy is awesome.
            “I’m super happy to be in this band—I’ve done enough stupid stuff,” Cullen said from the band’s practice space overlooking a Diamond Bar valley.
            The group’s passion for the music they create sings out in each song they play. The boot-stomping beats of “My Baby” and “Whole Lotta Love” demand a listener to their feet, and the fiery vocals keep them there. Naturally, Jeramiah Red wants to reach out.
            “When you write a new song, you want to show the world,” Ruiz said.
            Jeramiah Red fairly recently hired manager Matt Gardner to help execute its vision.
            “Wes came to me saying he wanted to get serious, and right out of the gate they got a show at the House of Blues,” Gardner said.
            The band is releasing a self-titled EP at their headlining House of Blues Anaheim show on Oct 7. They will perform on Oct. 21 at The Continental Room in Fullerton.
They are planning a music video by spring.
            “We’re gonna play as many shows as we can,” Gardner said.

-Garrett Marshal

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ariel Pink gets funky at The Glass House 9/11

Ariel Pink at the Glass House (Photo: Taylor Hamby)

Perhaps it's the difficulty in defining Ariel Pink's music that makes it hard to review one of his shows. Ariel Pink and his band played at the Glass House in Pomona Saturday.

The Kurt Cobain look alike creates David Bowie-esque tunes than can be classified as dance, eighties revival, lo-fi, funk, or a genre of its own.

Whatever you want to call it, it was not love at first listen. Ariel Pink's music takes a bit of time to dial in your ears to this unique sound.

He has an odd stage presence. Sometimes he looked nervous. He fiddled with a tie during two songs; wrapped it around his neck and then his finger. He put the microphone in his mouth.

Odd presence or not, he is still able to get the crowd riled up. During songs like "Fright Night" and "Menopause Man" fans screamed out and formed a pit.

In fact, I was called out at my lack of visible excitement. A boy hit my shoulder to get my attention and told me to start dancing. "I'm not seeing enough excitement out of you!" he said.

The has more energy in concert than his live recordings, but offers the same comparison defying, confusing sound.

Ariel also demonstrated the large range of his voice that night, and moved from a speaking voice to a falsetto seamlessly.

White Arrows opened for Ariel Pink with their psychedelic goes electric sound. While they didn't break any new ground, they played an entertaining set.

They projected light fractals onto the stage which added an element of mystery, or pretentiousness, depending how you look at it, to the show.

White Arrows seems to be at the imitating, not innovating, stage in their career, but this is nothing that a bit of practice and an acid trip or two can't remedy.

In that vein, they played the best version of Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" I have ever heard.

Bella Novela opened up the evening. Sorry guys, I was late and missed them.

-Taylor Hamby

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Radiohead's drummer goes solo

Phil Selway's "Familial" (2010)
For his first solo effort, “Familial,” Radiohead drummer Phil Selway explores himself as a singer and songwriter, creating a warm and soothing record.

This isn’t his first venture away from Radiohead. Selway had partaken in Neil Finn’s all-star concerts, “7 Worlds Collide,” recording an album titled “The Sun Came Out.”

While working on the project, Selway established some creative relationships with multi-instrumentalist and singer Lisa Germano, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche who all contribute on the record.

As the drummer of Radiohead, Selway has always demonstrated restraint and patience, and the songs on “Familial” are much understated.

Similar in vein, the music is effective and Selway indulges in themes of parenthood, relationships and middle-age.

He devotes “The Ties that Bind Us” to his son, singing, “I want to show you another way, I want to shield you from my mistakes” and on “Broken Promises,” he addresses the loss of his mother.

The songs are mostly restricted to acoustic guitars and bare instrumentations, and the lyrics are far less abstract than anything Thom Yorke ever wrote, providing relatable and universal imagery.

Selway’s vocals are also very tender and delicate, and his natural singing serves well to the haunting music.

“A Simple Life” is the most romantic song on the album, with Selway dreaming of a runaway relationship, “we’ll leave and disappear into the night, we’ll turn out the lights, we just want a simple life.”

The best song might be the introduction, “By Some Miracle,” a direct confession of his inner demons, “there’s a black dog in my basement, he is barking out my name.”

There is a Radiohead song called “Electioneering” off the classic album “OK Computer,” where Selway, on a rare occasion, goes berserk on the drums, perhaps releasing that “black dog” he is talking about.

While “Familial” is successful in its purpose, a Radiohead fan might wonder what Selway could have written in his younger years, and at 43-years-old, with a wife and three children, he only examines middle-aged themes.

“Familial” does not break any new ground, but it is a refined and touching release, easy enough for a long drive and pleasant enough for a quiet night at home.

-James Vu