Sun Worship With Allah-Las

ALLAH-LAS

ALLAH-LAS play Music Box Oct. 18 and The Regent Oct. 21; photo James Christopher

Local scenesters Allah-Las play their unique, psychedelic, dream pop at Music Box Oct. 18 and The Regent Oct. 21. The group is known for playing their interpretation of retro 60s rock a la The Troggs, The Standells and The Grass Roots, full of catchy choruses and guitar hooks.

Now with three albums under their belt, the songwriting continues to evolve while hinting at previous influences. Songs such as “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind” and “Don’t You Forget It” are crowd favorites from their self-titled 2012 debut, while newer tracks “Could Be You” and “Famous Phone Figure” are quickly catching on.

Although notoriously a band of few words, Concert Guide Live managed to get a few words out of them in a previous interview prior to the release of Worship The Sun and this is what they had to say:

CGL: It looks like you have a handful of dates lined up so far this year. What else is in the works?
A-L: We’re working on finishing our second record, new songs etc.

CGL: Is there a particular song the band looks forward to playing live and why?
A-L: Yeah. We have some new ones we’re excited to try out live. See how they change and adapt as we play them for an audience.

CGL: How did everyone in the band meet, did some of you meet while working at Amoeba Records?
A-L: Matt (Correia, drums) Miles (Michaud, vocals/guitar), and Spencer (Dunham, bass) went to high school together in Los Angeles. Later on Matt, Spencer and Pedrum (Siadatian, guitar) all worked together at Amoeba. We had a lot of interest in various types of music back then, working at Amoeba allowed us to spend time digging for more.

CGL: What is everyone listening to these days?
A-L: Aww lots of stuff. The search never ends.

CGL: Working with Nick Waterhouse sure seems to be a good fit for your sound. Do you record your songs then give them to him to produce, or do you all collaborate on the production?
A-L: We always work together. I’m sure it’s annoying for Nick to have to listen to us argue our points on the mix but he’s patient. He’s an amazing producer and a great friend.

CGL: What is the status of a new album?
A-L: Should be coming out on a Tuesday sometime.

CGL: it seems like you play quite a bit and all over the place, any good road
stories you can share?
A-L: Nothing to mention really.

CGL: Is there a particular song the band looks forward to playing live and why?
A-L: Yeah. We have some new ones we’re excited to try out live. See how they change and adapt as we play them for an audience.

CGL: How would you describe Allah-Las to someone who isn’t familiar with your music?
A-L: Aww well. I try my best to avoid it and let people decide. We get some pretty funny comparisons though.

Twiddle Bring The Jams To Teragram Ballroom

TWIDDLE

TWIDDLE play Teragram Ballroom Oct. 28; photo Jay Blakesberg

Twiddle shall again be gracing California with another appearance at the Teragram Ballroom on Oct. 28 as part of their current tour.

Founded in 2004, Twiddle has remained one of the musical circuit’s most lively groups known for their unique mixture of musical genres and, above all, always striving to relay a constant message through their work.

“Our message is a message of hope and being good to each other and positivity, “exclaims Milhali Savoulidis (lead vocalist / guitarist).

It’s a message that continues to this day and has resulted in the group spawning a fanbase referring to themselves as “Frends”, a nod to “The FRENDS Theme” and the lyric: There Ain’t No I In Frends.

Savoulidis makes up one quarter of the four-man group which first began in the state of Vermont. The foursome, after meeting at Castleton State College, began at the bottom of the music ladder as a simple local band playing at whatever venue would have them.

But though the group did begin in Vermont, they truly began to take shape in California, a place Savoulidis says is part of Twiddle’s roots. It’s a place that’s also “special and refreshing” every time they play there.

“Los Angeles was just one of our favorite places to go visit and hang out in,” Savoulidis said. “We spent a lot of time when we were younger there specifically in Venice.”

The group played at local bars and venues in the area before their perseverance paid off by becoming contracted to the musical label JamFlow Records. They’ve since remained consistently busy, something Savoulidis says helped Twiddle enter the professional circuit to begin with.

“We’ve been touring for the last 12 years consistently, 200+ shows a year. I think it was just through hard work and dedication that got us noticed by the industry to begin with.”

Twiddle remains very proactive, especially at their live showings. The group is noteworthy for its hefty combination of different music styles ranging from reggae, jazz, bluegrass to rock.

Savoulidis owes this quite simply to the unique musical tastes of each member of the band which has helped make Twiddle one of the most prolific jam bands playing today.

“We all came from different musical backgrounds and I think that makes up our sound and I think that’s why it’s so diverse.”

Savoulidis cites Twiddle’s keyboard player Ryan Dempsey’s enjoyment of jazz, specifically Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, as important to Twiddle’s sound and bass player Zdenek Gubb’s love of musicians like Les Claypool being a big contribution to its utilization of rock.
As for Savoulidis, he isn’t shy in revealing his musical tastes that help fuel the band’s unorthodox musical style.

“I grew up really loving reggae and some of the more singer/songwriter stuff like Dave Matthews. Even grunge music was huge for me. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana was a huge influence.”

Their music is also guaranteed to be very different at each live show. This is due to Twiddle’s unique improvisational and free flowing style. Savoulidis and his bandmates hold that any song, no matter how long or short, is open to improvisation once they are added to a setlist.

Savoulidis describes the process as a team effort saying that all songs begin on one specific musical key. Once in play, that’s when things shift into different gears.

“Essentially the keyboard player and the bass player in the band, Zdenek and Ryan, they start to communicate with each other within that key, up a third, down a fifth, whatever. They are creating soundscapes and chord progressions and different moods on the spot that me and the drummer [Brook Jordan] will follow. Or I will lead a jam. It depends on sort of who is leading.”

This extends to their recordings, most notably their two most recent albums PLUMP: Chapter 1 and PLUMP: Chapter 2. They’re Twiddle’s most unique albums due the genuine teamwork put into each one of its songs, something not done on any of their previous albums.

“We all got together and worked on these songs and that is the difference. These are products of all of us putting our heads together.”

The hard work and group-based efforts of Twiddle shall continue past their current tour and albums. Savoulidis promises all manner of upcoming announcements, brand new content and even improving on Twiddle’s vibrant, fluctuating music.

“We’re always looking to try and change what we’re doing on stage and I think in the next year, as always, we’ll evolve the sound a little bit with each year that passes. That’s always exciting.”

For the present though, Savoulidis simply promises live concert goers who attend their upcoming shows are in for a good time.
“You’re going to get great musicianship, a nice message, a nice crowd, and just an overall feel-good environment.”

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LIVING “The Living”

THE LIVING

THE LIVING album cover

Hailing from San Francisco, The Living mesh styles as diverse as Metal, Shoe Gaze and Pop into an emotional witches brew that they make all their own. Made up of long time friends Derek Barnes (vocals/guitar), Julian Balestrieri (guitar), Jeremy Shepherd (bass) and Jason Zaru (drums) their sound is raw, emotional and heartfelt. Their self-released self-titled debut is available now.

The Living is the kind of band where guitar solos count for a lot, maybe even everything. They spin them and stretch them and shift them into the fabric of their music, propelling the songs to dizzying heights.

And we’re talking your better class of guitar solo here, the kind where the number of notes played is less but every note counts for more, and that are so melodic that they stick in your ears like caramel on a taffy apple.

THE LIVING

THE LIVING; press photo

The track “Deceiver” is a great example of how The Living like to work at song structure. Things start at a slow burn with a simple guitar riff and build slowly by adding shades, textures and dynamics until they reach a full boil, which is (you guessed it) a pretty spectacular guitar workout.

Album closer “Headless Pillow” is a real highlight and again works the quiet/loud/quiet songwriting dynamic perfectly with vocalist Barnes singing the opening verses in a whisper before the band kicks in and the guitars start wailing. The last five minutes of this seven minute epic is a breathtaking rush of guitar virtuosity, as melody after melody effortlessly spin off the fret board and the song rushes headlong towards the finish line. But not before the band masterfully drop the bottom out of the song like a perfectly thrown curveball in game seven of the World Series – and it ends in a whisper. Beautifully done.

The Living may just be a perfect fit for fans of groups like My Sleeping Karma or Mogwai, two mostly instrumental bands whose sound The Living build on by adding vocals into the mix. And judging from the sound of their album, which is well produced but also very live sounding, I’m betting these guys put on one hell of a gig. Smart money is on catching them live when they come to your town to play.

The Cribs And Rock Star Shit

THE CRIBS

THE CRIBS play Teragram Ballroom Oct. 6; promo photo

English indie rock band The Cribs return to SoCal with a stop at Teragram Ballroom Oct.6. in support of their recent release 24-7 Rock Star Shit.

Growing up in a small town in the UK, bassist Gary Jarman and his brothers eventually started to make music as a way of finding something to do.

“There really wasn’t a great deal going on,” Gary explained.

“Me and my twin brother, Ryan, being the same age, we just thought it would be fun to try to be in a band. Originally it was more fantasy than reality. It was kind of just planning the ideas of what you were going to do without actually doing anything.

“And then we pretty much harassed my younger brother in to learning how to play drums. So we had a band by default, actually. But me, and Ryan were catalysts for Ross playing drums.

“He was a little kid, he’s four years younger than we are, so he was pretty young when we wanted him to start. We built him a little drum kit. It was pretty rustic but that’s how he learned.”

With seven studio albums under their belt, they have a ton of songs to choose from for their setlist.

“When you’re playing songs that you’ve had for so long, it’s cool that people still want to hear them, but for me personally I much prefer playing the new stuff,” Gary said.

“We’re not like Bruce Springsteen who will play forever but we’re the sort of band that we like the people that come to see us to be satisfied and we want to make sure everyone has a good time.

“But by that same token, I think playing too long can actually be detrimental to the gig experience.”

The brothers grew up listening to garage bands including all of the Nuggets bands so they thought it would be funny to come up with a similar type of name for their band.

“The original story was we were studying at a music college and they had a studio,” Gary began. “Then we got kicked out of the class but we still wanted to use the studio so we had to book it under an assumed name so they wouldn’t know it was us.

“We just tried to think of a garage band name off the top of our head and that’s what it was. The first demo we ever made was under this assumed name, “The Cribs”, so we just ended up keeping it. It was just a little joke between the brothers, you know?”

The Woggles Celebrate Music And Get Wild

THE WOGGLES

THE WOGGLES play Wine Bar Oct. 4, The Echo Oct. 6, The Casbah Oct. 7; photo James Christopher

The Woggles bring it back to the people by performing their rock-n-roll antics at Wine Bar Oct. 4, The Echo Oct. 6 and The Casbah Oct. 7. Following is an excerpt from an earlier interview with frontman Mighty Manfred and his tales of audience participation.

“If we’re out doing a show, and playing live, you want to engage the people that are there,” claims lead singer Mighty Manfred.

“I mean otherwise there’s no reason to be up on a stage, at least from my point of view.”

The Woggles put on quite a show with Manfred stepping into the crowd while singing catchy, hip-shaking tunes. The audience can’t seem to resist dancing around him while grinning from ear to ear.

“Feeding off the audience, the audience feeds off you and it just makes everything that much more exciting, that much more exhilarating, that much more thrilling, with everything building on itself,” Manfred said.

Somehow while singing and shaking a tambourine, Manfred finds a way to get down off the stage, over any barriers, across any trenches, and onto the club floor to celebrate music amongst the audience.

“When you’re right there in front of people they’re no longer watching a spectacle, they’re a part of it,” Manfred explained.

Of course, mishaps have been known to happen. Take a show in Pensacola, Florida.

“You know, before doing anything stupid, I check things out ahead of time,” Manfred unconvincingly stated.

“That doesn’t mean I won’t still do stupid things.”

During sound check that particular evening, Manfred tried his weight on a curtain next to the stage and thought, “Oh, this will be great. I can swing out from this.

“So, during this instrumental song the band is playing I scampered up there and jumped off of some amps to reach this thing. As I committed myself to this forward swing, you know with the idea I would let go and go sailing, the rod came out before I had swung far enough. I couldn’t get my arms behind me so I landed with my full weight on my back.

“People have asked, ‘Did it feel like it was happening in slow motion?’ And my answer to that is, ‘Man, the ground moves really fast!’

“The guys in the band, though, didn’t know that was going on. So, I’m rolling around, and I stand up and I’m in immense pain.

“I slowly get back on the stage and I remember the drummer, Dan Eletxro looking at me and I could see him mouthing, ‘Shake it off! Shake it off!’

“He knew something had happened but you know, ‘Get with it man. Get back into it.’ Yea, that was terrible.”

After the show, Manfred went to the emergency room to get stitched up and somehow escaped bodily damage.

“I had cut my face on the nails coming out of the rod, as it came down and hit me in the face.

“But people loved the blood, though. They loved the blood.”

Music may hold a different meaning for different people, but to Manfred, it’s a celebration of life.

“You’ve got to bring it to the people!” he said in anticipation of the next live shows.

LODGE ROOM OPENING IN HIGHLAND PARK

LODGE ROOM

LODGE ROOM opening in Highland Park

Los Angeles’ Highland Park neighborhood will welcome its newest live music venue Lodge Room in November of this year. Located along the historic Figueroa Street corridor in the former Highland Park Masonic Temple, Lodge Room has been tastefully preserved and polished to host nearly 500 guests. Included in the opening is Lodge Room’s sister concept Checker Hall, a New American restaurant overlooking Figueroa Street from its balcony.

Lodge Room is pleased to announce a handful of bookings with rising LA folk artist Bedouine Dec. 9, San Diego post-rock outfit The Album Leaf Dec. 15, and post-punk artist Black Marble Jan. 12. More shows will be announced soon.

The Lodge Room is owned by a local independent hospitality group, and booking and marketing will be handled by Brandon Gonzalez and Kyle Wilkerson of the local concert presenters Sid The Cat. Sid The Cat has made a name for itself presenting sold-out shows at venues throughout LA with Ty Segall, Cate Le Bon, Big Thief, Mild High Club, and many more. Wilkerson is also the talent buyer at Silverlake’s Bootleg Theater and has spent the last two years revitalizing that club, booking big names like Jackson Browne, Conor Oberst, Gillian Welch, Jim James, Jenny Lewis, and John Carpenter, as well as bringing up-and-comers like Car Seat Headrest and Margaret Glaspy for their first ever LA shows and hosting names like Kevin Morby, Beach Slang, Sinkane, Reggie Watts, Alice Cooper & Shep Gordon, Hannibal Buress and many more. Wilkerson is also the co-producer of LA’s Girlschool Festival, which spotlights female performers and in past years has featured appearances from Shirley Manson of Garbage, Chelsea Wolfe, and Phoebe Bridgers.

El Ten Eleven Present Unusable Love

EL TEN ELEVEN

EL TEN ELEVEN play The Constellation Room Oct. 6; photo James Christopher

Instrumental duo El Ten Eleven return to The Constellation Room Oct. 6, this time with the addition of vocalist Emile Mosseri (The Dig).

With over 15 years as El Ten Eleven, Kristian Dunn (double-neck and bass guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums) recently released their first EP with vocals. Unusable Love offers four tracks of their signature dreamy noise but this time with sultry vocals weaving in and around the soundscape.

Following are Fogarty’s replies to a couple of questions from a previous interview:

CGL: Do you have a particular song you look forward to playing live and why?
TF: The first song in the set, so I can be done pacing in the green room.

CGL: What interesting or amusing situation have you encountered while on tour?
TF: We were at a truck stop in New Mexico, getting gas, when this meth’d out mom cruised up beside the van, asking for money in exchange for “favors,” while her son is sitting in the car. We declined and she proceeded to mash the right side of her car into the gas pump barricade as she pulled away. We told the employees to call the cops because she was going to kill someone.

CGL: If you could be anyone other than yourself, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
TF: Felix Baumgartner, the guy who parachuted from space. I want to try that sometime. Do you think he will ever have to buy a beer again?

Monogem Explodes For Two In SoCal

MONOGEM

MONOGEM play the Wayfarer Sep. 28 and Soda Bar Sep. 29; photo Jenna Johns

MONOGEM is the moniker under which singer and songwriter Jen Hirsh creates sleek, glittering melodies, suffused with the sweet aftertaste of soul and a slow-mo sex appeal. She will be performing at The Wayfarer Sep. 28 and Soda Bar Sep. 29.

MONOGEM’s highly anticipated sophomore EP 100% blends her own new wave of sultry with ethereal alt-pop. Heightened vocal effects and a whirlwind of modular and analog synths contributed by producer and sound designer Peter Dyer amplify MONOGEM’s astral sound in this new EP.

Her newest music video for “Wild” starring Coco Arquette (daughter of Courteney Cox & David Arquette) has been featured internationally by Good Morning America, E!, Daily Mail UK, Alternative Press, NYLON, Perez Hilton and more.

The narrative unfolds as two young best friends enjoy a night at home—but, with raging popcorn fights, fierce cross-dressing, night swimming, and a climactic surprise ending, this isn’t your run of the mill Netflix and Chill. MONOGEM, who makes a cameo delivering pizza to the teens, explains: “Life’s too short to not live wild.”

MONOGEM has been playing Los Angeles at Soho House Hollywood & Malibu, as well as a sold-out EP release show at the Bootleg Theater and a genre-bending event with Red Bull Sound Select at The Echo with LPX. She recently DJ’d the 2017 Billboard Music Awards & Elle Present Women in Music at YouTube Space LA, It’s A School Night Los Angeles curated by Chris Douridas of KCRW, and more. Refinery 29 has called MONOGEM “a trailblazer of gender fluidity in the entertainment industry.”

MONOGEM’s self-titled 2015 debut EP was exclusively premiered by Interview Magazine with insightful commentary: “The California native’s sound is heavy in electro-pop, yet her voice resonates with the richness of classic soul and jazz.”

In the cosmos, a Monogem Ring is a supernova remnant, the leftover glow from an exploded star. One of the largest monogem rings in the universe is located near the Gemini and Cancer constellations. Born in late June, Jen is on the cusp of Gemini-Cancer, and thus, Monogem rang true and stuck.

Don’t miss a chance at catching this ascending star!

Front 242 Bring The Beats Back To L.A.

FRONT 242

FRONT 242 play the Regent Sep 27; photo James Christopher

Front 242 return to SoCal as part of the Cold Waves Festival, appearing at The Regent Theatre with Severed Heads, Romy, and Das Bunker DJs Sep.27.

This is a must-see for longtime fans of industrial music. Front 242 always put on a great, energetic, show and Severed Heads is also a rarity in Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles is a particular place which has always had a strong ‘dark’ community,” said long-time member, Patrick Codenys. “To me, it is such a contradiction to the image most people have of the city: cinema, plastic body culture, glam and fake, etc.

“As a matter of fact, there is a real creative underground scene far from those stereotypes. You just need to know where to look to enjoy it.”

Although the band no longer tours, they enjoy working with people who are willing to bring them to the U.S. under good conditions.
“This allows us a more relaxing time and even a chance to meet fans and friends,” Codenys said.

Their live performance will consist of playing a sort of “best of” set with the classics. While some versions of the songs have been changed and modernized, each will be represented graphically.

“Sound-wise we are back to analogue sounds, close to our early albums,” Codenys said. “The new technology allows us to be more sharp and precise with our sound without betraying the spirit of the time. The show remains purely physical with projections and clips for each song. Bringing back the aesthetic of the 242 album covers and imaginary world. We worked close with people to design the graphics and stage costumes.”

Front 242 began creating their brand of pre-computer electronic music in Belgium in the mid-80’s. This meant finding creative ways to recreate music live that sometimes lead to unexpected mishaps while performing.

“In the very early 80’s, sequencers were not stable and any variation in the electric stream could make you lose your programming,” Codenys said.

“Also, clubs in the U.S. have a tradition of rock/jazz/country/blues bands and were not ready for electronic music. People working in a club would say, ‘Place your drum on the riser.’ We would answer, ‘We have no drums.’ Then they would show us where we could place our guitar stack and we would say, ‘We have no guitar.’ Finally they would say, ‘You are not a band.’ It was very difficult to change the mentalities at the time.”

When Front 242 first started to use samples, soundtracks, speeches, etc. they weren’t copyright-protected like they are now. They would use tape recorders to align the voices onto a track.

“Around the 90’s we needed to ‘mask’ the origin of our vocal samples by using effects, cuts, plugs, etc.,” Codenys said. “As for the sound samples, we always designed our own sounds – sometimes sampling synth sounds to restructure, filter and reshape into a sampler.”
For example, the track “Welcome To Paradise” includes lines of sampled lyrics such as, “Hey poor, you don’t need to be poor anymore. Jesus is here (don’t tell the devil).”

“‘Welcome to Paradise’ is an ambiguous track as some people took it first degree and others found it cynical,” Codenys said. “Of course, it is more of a joke if you listen to the message; but what is the real interest of that song is the way words are singing. We started from that preacher’s speech/singing and built the track around it. Generally, it goes the other way around, first music then lyrics.”

Today, as in times past, a live Front 242 performance is a way for them to experiment with all the facets of their music through mixing different technologies.

“But what remains the most important is the emotional communion that we experience with our audience during the show,” Codenys said.

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Rock SoCal Twice

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND play Teragram Ballroom Sep 12 and The Coach House Sep 13; press photo

Ian Hunter, the once glam rocker of Mott the Hoople who evolved into a phenomenal solo artist penning radio hits such as “Cleveland Rocks” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, continues to tour and write interesting albums such as last years’ Fingers Crossed.

He will be performing with The Rant Band at Teragram Ballroom Sep. 12 and The Coach House Sep. 13, a venue he has played a few times including when he and Mick Ronson played after a week-long stint recording 1979’s live album Welcome To the Club at The Roxy.
The group has put together an amalgamation of songs covering 48 years of music to perform.

“You’ve got to please the casuals that means you’ve got to do a bit of the old stuff,” Hunter explained. “Then you’ve got to please the other half that means you’ve got to do a bit of the stuff no one’s heard, then you’ve got to do some solo stuff. And it all sort of melds in somehow.”

Naturally there should be a couple of songs from Fingers Crossed such as the recently released single, “Ghost” that has a delightfully soulful chorus complimenting Hunter’s rough around the edges vocals. As well as “Dandy” which is a nod to David Bowie who passed while Hunter was having difficulty writing a completely different song called “Lady” that he turned into “Dandy”.

“I only knew him for about a year that was around the Hunky Dory, Ziggy period,” Hunter recalled. “I kind of wrote the song from a fan’s point of view from that period.

“Because when he came in, everything was kind of drab, it was kind of like watching a black and white movie. Then, all of a sudden, David came in and everything went technicolor.”

One of the lyrics, “the last bus home” shows up throughout the song and refers to the end of a good night out.

“We used to go and see gigs and they were magic then you would come out and you really didn’t like your own existence,” Hunter chuckled. “It’s the same as when you came out of a movie and it’s ‘oh Jesus, here I am again’. That’s the whole idea of it.”

Not one to write and tour at the same time, Hunter prefers to focus on one or the other. He’s been touring since last year on the recent record and will most likely begin writing the next one in January.

“I just write when I want to make a new record,” Hunter noted. “I’m not one of those people, I can’t really work on the next one when I’m on the road. If I started on it now, it would be a bit dated by the time I did it.”

Being a rhythm guitarist and not a lead guitarist, Hunter prefers Martins, but also uses Gibsons and RainSongs.

“I have two other guitar players in the band so I stay acoustic,” Hunter said. “RainSongs is kind of a unique guitar because it’s not wood so it has a little edge to it. It’s kind of like halfway between an acoustic and an electric. I use it for open tuning.”

He keeps some of his guitars in Europe and some in the States so he doesn’t have to deal with transporting them as often.

“When we depart here, we go to Germany, then England and you don’t want to be carting stuff all over the place so we generally leave stuff in different countries,” Hunter explained. “You can pick them up when you’re there and it saves a lot of aggravation on the plane.
“It’s something you learn over the years. I never would have thought of it years ago.”

Something else he has learned over the years is that you have quite an advantage if you are passionate about what you choose to do in life.

“And if music’s your passion, more luck to you, but get a lawyer,” Hunter laughed. “If you haven’t got one in the family, get one.

“Usually with musicians, one side of the brain’s not working. They need somebody to compensate for the side of the brain that’s not working.

“I mean, I could never understand at school why you had to be good at arts and sciences. Usually you find arts people aren’t very good at math and vice versa.”

One other thing he laughingly mentioned he’s picked up over the years is that he likes to have a drink prior to going on stage.

“It’s a ritual that starts about 30 minutes before we go on. It gets you in the mood.”