PHOTOS: Kid Cadaver @ The Echo 2/4/15

words and photos by Shabnam Ferdowsi

I found Kid Cadaver's music around 3 weeks ago on a local blog, fell in love instantly with their sound and was more than ecstatic when I found out they were playing The Echo. 

Now The Echo has a really unfun/unfair/uncool way sometimes of having their sound be simply mediocre for their opener, or at least I've noticed this another couple times as well. Either they don't soundcheck long enough, either the sound guy is just warming up (doubtful?) or for some other reason I can't come up with. My point is, I wish someone else was running sound that night.

Regardless though, the 3 guys of Kid Cadaver each played such a fun show. They blew me away with their energy, and each seemed to be having their own dance party up there. They were each completely in their zones, vibing along to their own individual beats, having so much fun themselves that I wanted to get up there with them. 

So passionate, so fun, so hot. They definitely left us swooning. 

CONNECT WITH KID CADAVER

Facebook  // Twitter  // Website

 

PREVIEW: My Double, My Brother @ The Satellite 1/12/15

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My Double, My Brother is an independent band based in LA who's  sound I was hooked on to instantly when I heard them for the first time last week. Perfect timing too, since they're playing a free show at The Satellite here in LA tomorrow 1/12/15!

To preview the show, I was able to ask the band a few questions about 2015 and their new album coming out next month. Hit play below and read on. 

For new ears, describe your music in  a few words:

Percussive indie alternative rock.

What's been your favorite show you've ever played so far?

We've played a few shows that have been really fun for us. One that sticks out is several months back we played at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa (before it was renovated into the Wayfarer) and a bunch of people came out who knew all the songs from our first album and were singing along super loud and acting out all the drum parts. It was a ton of fun to see everyone enjoying the music in a very honest and raw way. It made us feel like we were offering something really special to those people as it was a palpable example of people appreciating something that we care about so much.
 

What can you tell us about your upcoming album? 

We put a lot of work and effort into making it sound how we thought it should sound. It's pretty different from the last album, as I've learned a lot about song writing and poetry within the past few years, and we have all grown as musicians. The songs sound more refined and more honest, in some senses, and I think because of that, this album is a lot more effective in conveying a certain ethos. The album has a certain arc to it so that the songs, both in lyrical and musical content, function to play off of each other and contrast each other, not in the sense of telling a story, but more in a sense of creating a space where ideas and emotions become merged together; ideas and emotions that I hope people will be able to feel and think. 
 

How has your sound changed since the band formed? 

I think our sound has had a sort of consistency to it since we started writing music several years ago, but I think throughout the years we've developed more of a sensitivity to pop sensibilities and writing music that is fun to listen to and easy to digest. We've always been very critical with our work and have tried to create music that is interesting and pleasing, but our roots are kind of in more esoteric forms of art and music. I think in the past we really praised more avant-garde forms of art and our music was an attempt to flesh out those ideals, but recently we've attempted to primarily operate under the notion of writing for accessibility and for enjoyability, then expanding on that in the most creative and interesting ways that we see fit.

What else can we look forward to from My Double, My Brother in 2015?

Well, first and foremost, the album comes out February 10th, but then after that we plan to do a series of mini-tours up the coast and what not, and possibly a tour in the summer.


CONNECT WITH MY DOuBLE MY BROTHER

Website // Facebook // Twitter

 

 

NEW MUSIC: The Neighbors- Black River

words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

The Neighbors were one of the first bands to play a Beating Lights show last January, and they had me hooked ever since. Their live show was and still is one of the most captivating and passion-infused performances I've seen. After adding a few members, the band started recording their debut EP over the summer and has finally begun sharing their magic with us. 

Their second single, "Black River", off their upcoming EP is always a crowd favorite. What really gets me with this particular song is the imagery they're able to set up, both lyrically and instrumentally, then completely shatter down.  You find yourself flowing down this river they're talking about, where everything is going real smoothly, then the tide builds up and the chorus hits hard bringing with it an intense rhythmic storm of strings, percussion and guitar solos. 

It's simply and beautifully mind-blowing.

Listen below and expect more great music from these guys soon. 

CONNECT WITH THE NEIGHBORS

Facebook / Soundcloud/ Youtube 

NEW MUSIC: Kiki Halliday- Love Notes EP

words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

LA artist Kiki Halliday just released her first EP, Love Notes, today. 

The production is simple and straightforward,  highlighting Kiki's soulful songwriting and emotion. The favorite seems to be the title track, "Love Notes", that got everyone singing along with the catchy chorus at her EP Release Show over the weekend. 

My personal favorite though has to be "Beautiful Soul". The harmonies and general arrangement of the song compliment Kiki's emotional vocals and get you swaying along in no time. (I'm all about that sway-ability!)

First releases like this one are always an exciting time for an independent artist, and we can't wait to see what's next!

 

Take a listen here and let us know what you think!

CONNECT WITH KIKI

Facebook // Twitter 

WATCH: GameBrand- Junkie (Official Music Video)

words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

  I don't usually listen to Hip-Hop, and  I definitely never write about it. But I'm going to make an exception for GameBrand because I've had their newest release on repeat all morning. 

GrameBrand is hip-hop duo Brandon Canada and Derek Gramlam, currently based out of LA, and they just released their newest single, "Junkie". In a smart move they released the official music video for the track at the same time. 

The song itself has got me grooving, but I'm especially liking the video. 

I loved the movement  throughout both in terms of cinematography as well as visually through color and lighting. The party scenes complemented the day shots at the beach, rather than overpowering them, and the overall vibe reminded me of the last  days of college before the start of an endless summer. 

Not to mention, those underwater scenes were too cool. 

Check out the video, download "Junkie" here and share away!

 

CONNECT WITH GAMEBRAND

Facebook // Twitter//  Website

PREVIEW: ECLIPSE- pr0files / MUNA / Natural Curves / 10PRINT @ House of Gods

 

What: ECLIPSE- pr0files / MUNA / Natural Curves / 10PRINT @ House of Gods

Where: House of Gods, Los Angeles, CA

When: 11/21/14- 9pm

When were you last immersed in an ocean of expression? Shh my child, it's alright - come submerge your senses on 11/21 as an incredible roster of artists transforms LA's House of Gods into your very own oasis of stimulation. From explosive musical acts to hypnotic visual projections to interactive art installations, we will supply enough creative adrenaline to run your right brain around the sun.

The night kicks off with MUNA, whose ego-eclipsing ‘more perfect’ EP (2014) sent critics to the ER with its heart-blowing lyricism; then Pr0files, the duo who’ve already tickled the internet's love muscles with their bold ‘Luxury’ EP and a steady string of singles - live music is rarely so alive.

It turns out speakers are people magnets, and San Francisco's own Natural Curves has enough force to suck you and all your friends into a DJ-induced dance-trance for an entire evening; that's exactly what will happen, btw. 

Meanwhile, VJ sensation 10PRINT has the right imagery in his arsenal to turn your brain inside out. Remember: it's not the drugs - you will be okay.

Come immerse yourself and remember this night like no other!

Featuring:
Pr0files
MUNA
Natural Curves
10PRINT

TICKETS: smarturl.it/dv821+ // Doors open at 9 PM

 

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NO TICKETS AT DOOR
*Reward yourself with an amazing evening via: smarturl.it/dv8 (guest list only, 21+, pay with Paypal or credit card)
PROFESSIONAL BAR & AFFORDABLE DRINKS / SNACKS
*Will keep your jeans skinny and your wallet fat
INTERACTIVE INSTALLATIONS
*Share 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 art - all attendees will have the opportunity leave pieces of themselves at House of Gods in a soulful orgy of creativity


*ECLIPSE is a DV8 Production*


 

VIDEO:John Graney - Weekend Warrior | Sofar Los Angeles (#995)

Who: John Graney

Where: Los Angeles, CA

Here's a live performance of John Graney at a Sofar show right here in Los Angeles!

Sofar curates intimate concerts like these every month in many different cities across the world, bridging the gap between the musicians and their fans. It's raw, and it's wonderful, so make sure to watch the video!

October Sounds

words and playlist by Shabnam Ferdowsi

I don't drive, so I take the bus a lot. LA being the urban sprawl that it is, it takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and  half to get to where I want to go across town. Listening to music is my favorite pastime, and I can do it for hours on end (it also helps me ignore that occasional smell of urine...)

Here are 15 songs  that kept me sane on my bus rides in October, in no particular order:

1. Oberhofer- Away from U

2. Barretso- Celeste

3. Midi Matilda- Daydreams

4. On and On- Ghosts

5. Fink- Looking Too Closely

6. Matthew P- On Top

7. Bunderland- Son

8. Imaginary Future- April

9. Milo Greene- Autumn Tree

10. Bear's Den- Above The Clouds of Pompeii

11. Wake Owl- Wild Country

12. Kishi Bashi- The Ballad of Mr Steak

13. Human Life- Wherever We Are

14. StaG- It Worked For Him

15. Night Terrors of 1927- When You Were Mine (ft. Tegan and Sara)

LISTEN HERE:

NEW MUSIC: Drew Tabor- In The Garden EP

words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Drew Tabor, also known as drewby1xo by her dedicated Youtube fans, just released her second EP, In The Garden, today. I've been waiting for this release for months, and the release has already proven my faith in Drew! It's already made it to #14 on iTunes Singer Songwriter charts, and the buzz is very much well deserved. 

The EP, along with the all the visual branding that surrounds it, truly captures how far Drew has come over the past years. In three words? Classic, honest and emotional. It's aways exciting to see an artist be able to hone in on a style, and I think Drew hit the spot here. 

My absolutely favorite off the EP is "Masterpiece". Aside from Tabor's chillingly poignant vocals, the lyrics show a maturity and honesty that proves Drew as more than just another Youtube cover artist. 

This EP is only just beginning of an exciting future, especially as Drew heads out on her first tour up and down the West Coast in November! 

Take a listen and let us know what you think!

Buy In the Garden on iTunes!

CONNECT WITH DREW TABOR

Facebook / Twitter / Youtube

LIVE REVIEW: King Crimson @ The Orpheum

words by Ethan Sherman

“I saw King Crimson Tuesday night.” 

Up until a year ago, for those words to be said by anyone seemed to be a distinct impossibility. Guitarist and founder Robert Fripp’s announcement last September that King Crimson would return to active service with a North American tour this fall came as a welcome surprise for fans and enthusiasts, as Fripp has publicly and privately indicated in recent years his decision to step back from work as a performing musician. 
 

The one thing any King Crimson fan can count on is that every time the band comes together, it’s going to be completely different than the last time, and this incarnation is no exception in its lineup, repertoire, and approach.

This week’s two-night stand at the Orpheum Theatre featured a seven-man lineup consisting of members from Crimson’s entire history as well as newer faces: Fripp; saxophonist/flutist Mel Collins, a member from 1970-2; bassist/Chapman stickist Tony Levin, in Crimson on and off since 1981; and “new guy” guitarist/singer Jakko Jakszyk, who fronted Crim alumni group 21st Century Schizoid Band and collaborated with Fripp and Collins on 2011’s “A Scarcity of Miracles” album. 

In keeping with the Crimson axiom of doing things differently, these four musicians were lined up on a riser across the back of the stage, while the “front line” was occupied by THREE (yes, 3!) drummers and their respective kits: Pat Mastelotto, a member since the “double trio” of the 1990s; Harrison, best known for his work with Porcupine Tree, joined up in ’08; and Bill Rieflin, another new member best known for his work with R.E.M. and Ministry, who’s previously collaborated with Fripp in groups such as The Humans and The Hellboys.

The band’s overwhelming power, as well as their incredible capacity to restrain and orchestrate that power, was immediately apparent, throughout both this song and the remainder of the two-hour set. The three drummers rarely played the same thing at the same time, distributing the parts equally, with each drummer taking on different roles. Notably, Mastelotto’s approach often channeled Crim ‘72’s Jamie Muir, who included in his approach a wide variety of unconventional– in rock music at that time– percussion instruments and found objects. Crimson classics were re-orchestrated to feature the new front line: “Level Five” and “Red” stick out as highlights, as well as Harrison’s face-melting solo during the encore, the rarely-played and eternally ballyhooed “21st Century Schizoid Man.”

Fripp, by the way, is still no slouch, having essentially created his own singular idiom within the otherwise traceable history of rock guitar, an idiom which was on display in top form at the Orpheum. He also appeared to be greatly enjoying himself, unusual for someone who once described life as a professional musician as “a joyless exercise in futility.”

While Tuesday night’s show at the Orpheum began as an exceptional group of musicians playing classic music on a high level, it concluded– to these eyes and ears– holding strong the presence of King Crimson. While this run of concerts has provided longtime Crim fans to see and hear this music one more time, it’s also given fans of my generation a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience one of the most influential and impactful rock groups of our time, one we thought we were born too late to ever witness. For that, Fripp, Jakszyk, Levin, Collins, Rieflin, Mastelotto and Harrison deserve a big THANK YOU. Here’s hoping for more.

LIVE REVIEW: Honda Civic Tour @ Club Nokia 8/4/14

words and photos by Shabnam Ferdowsi

This year's Honda Civic Tour featured three fantastic artists all quickly making waves in the mainstream.

Echosmith is an LA-based pop band. Their live show was energetic and their radio hit "Cool Kids' had the entire venue singing along. Frontgirl Sydney is such a sweet stage personality at just 17 years old, and I felt like I was having a conversation with her even when I left the photo pit and head to the very back of the standing area. 

The Mowgli's are by quite far the best live performers I've ever seen. This was my thirs time seeing them and every time is the like the first. They strive to make their audience members feel happier leaving the show than when i started, and every time they kill it. I saw them at the Troubadour over the summer and the crowd there was a little more present and into the show, but perhaps that's only because it was a more intimate venue. 

Even still though, all they had to do was end with their hit "San Francisco" and the crowd was having just as much fun as the band was on stage.

American Authors headlined the show, and I was more than pleasantly surprised to say the least.  From the very first drum beat, it was one heck of a show. Production value? On point. Whether it was the lighting designers at Club Nokia or from the Honda Civic Tour itself (i don't know how these things work), it was so cool to watch. The band played a mix of old and new hits, and the entire venue was one big dance party. 

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT: Lincoln Jesser

Haven't heard of Lincoln Jesser yet? It's about time you did. This local LA artist is making that synth-pop that makes you groove and writes the lyrics that make you roll down the car window and sing at the top of your lungs. 

Take a listen and get to him a little better below!

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If someone’s never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them in one sentence? Psychedelic synth pop.

If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Marvin Gaye...I'd want to produce for him. His voice and his message were both amazing beyond words.

As an artist, what’s on your long-term bucket list? Scoring a film.

What do you want listeners to take away from your music? I'd hope my music inspires them to take risks in the name of happiness, and to let the people they love know that they do in fact love them.

What’s your favorite concert you’ve been to? Daft Punk at Coachella 2006, MGMT in Brooklyn 2007, and The Strokes at Lollapalooza 2010

Who are you listening to right now? Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Lemaitre, and CHVRCHES

CONNECT WITH LINCOLN JESSER on Facebook

LIVE REVIEW: Sir Sly, Wolf Gang and The Secret Someones @ El Rey 9/29/14

Photos and Words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

The Secret Someones are a Brooklyn based rock band that made me realize we need more girl-fronted rock bands!  They opened the night with some real, raw energy up there and were able to mesmerize even the audience who didn't know the lyrics (like yours truly).

Wolf Gang nailed it. The British band has a decent following at this point, and their live show was so fun and had the crowd dancing in minutes. Their vocals made you swoon and their grooves made you smile; they pleasantly surprised  us all. 

Finally, by the time Sir Sly went on, the El Rey was packed. You could smell the anticipation growing as we waited for the curtains to open. When they did, and the bassist played his first note, I honestly had to resist the urge to start jumping up and down from the photo pit. The synth/pop/rock that they produce is the perfect formula for the ultimate dance party, especially when it's played live like it was last night, and even more especially with that deep bass. 

The set design was phenomenal, playing on the same concepts of lights and dark that was also very prevalent in their most recent music video for "You Haunt Me". 

The show was everything from entertaining, to talented to just straight up fun. 

INTERVIEW: Cameron Fife

If someone’s never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them in one sentence? 

I've always been terrible with this question, but maybe this is a time for me to lock down an answer. I've been tossing around "aggressive indie folk" a little recently but honestly I'm not sure what that even means. Maybe "indie folk punk"? I like to think I have a little of every genre in some songs somewhere but maybe thats a little too pretentious of an answer for me to commit to. Sorry this wasn't one sentence, and sorry I didn't actually lock down an answer. I failed. 

 

If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who it be and why? 

This is a toughie. I think I would have to pick Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! That band taught me a lot about being a human when I was 14 and discovered "Reinventing Axl Rose" at Ear-X-Tacy (a local record store in Louisville KY. Fun fact: It's now a Panera Bread). The Do It Yourself attitude is something that that particular album really instilled in me and my friends at a young age and to this day is still an important part of my life. That album inspired me to tour at an early age with my best friend in a band called Eat This McKinley, which was heavily influenced by Against Me. Against Me has always felt like a constant in my life and "Reinventing" is a grounding force for me and reminds me of my roots. You can also just feel the passion bleed through on that record. It's pretty incredible. I saw them recently and they played a lot of songs from that record and it was a big push for me to start playing music again.

 

As an artist, what’s on your long-term bucket list?

I think I would completely lose it if one of my songs was used in a Scorsese film. I could probably die a happy man if that ever happens. To me, he is the master of using music to create an interesting atmosphere. I'm not saying he is the only director to do so, but he just seems to really care about music and it shows. Watch any of his movies, it's such a huge part of it. He also is my favorite director. If any big time directors want to use any of my songs, I would be beyond stoked. 

 

I would also be completely happy just packing a bar/house full of friends and strangers who sang along to every word and then I'd buy everyone a round of shots after. That seems fun. 

 

I also need to find a different shirt to play shows in because I've been playing in the same one.

What do you want listeners to take away from your music?

A really great friend of mine once wrote this in an insert for our band's (Eat This McKinley) first album and it always stuck with me: "Forgive us for any wrong notes or off tuning, but I guess that's what music is all about: purpose, meaning, and emotion comes first. Hopefully skill will come later. Go out and start a band. Play the music you wanna play and don't worry if you think you're horrible. Don't let skill get in your way, write with everything you got and go play your fuckin' heart out" 

 

I'm paraphrasing a bit but that's the gist of it. It's not to say that you can just throw up a disclaimer before any show or album and be bad on purpose. You should respect stage time and studio time and give yourself a chance to grow and develop the skills you find important, or what you like to hear in songs you like. At the end of the day I just want to inspire people to make music that means more to them than to anyone else and that it's okay for any art you make to have scars because that's whats going to stand out the most. I hope people take that away from my music. Most people probably just think I'm a sad bastard though, which I'm also fine with. 

What’s your favorite concert you’ve been to?

I just recently went to my favorite concert I've ever been to! It was Mimicking Birds and Modest Mouse at Pappy and Harriets in Pioneertown, CA. Modest Mouse played a 105 minute set including the song "Broke" which I didn't think they'd play. It's probably one of my favorite songs ever written and I think it's almost 20 years old now which is crazy. If you ever get a chance to see a show at Pappy and Harriets, do it. It's a "wild west watering hole" under the stars in the mountains. It's gorgeous. 

Who are you listening to right now? 

Young Jesus is a Chicago based band I've been listening to a lot recently. Their album "Home" is probably in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. I really love it and can't seem to tire myself out from it. Everyone should check it out. It's on Spotify. They also just released a single called "G" after a two year hiatus, which is great. I heard they just moved to LA so hopefully they play a show soon. Everyone like them on facebook and tell them to play a show so I can see them!

CONNECT WITH CAMERON FIFE on Facebook

 

LIVE REVIEW: Soft Swells at The Echo 9/22/14

words and photos by : Shabnam Ferdowsi
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LA-based Soft Swells played their last residency show at The Echo on Monday night 9/22. I'd personally never been to the venue for their renown free monday nights so I had no idea what to expect. 

I got there at 10pm sharp, and already the place was packed: friends hanging in the bar area, couples lounging near the dance floor and solo music-lovers who you could tell where frequent concert-goers. It was that Echo Park vibe that I love and we all know well. 

Soft Swells played what I decided was a dreamy, grooving rock show. I think the sound guys could have checked it better, because the drum levels were a little too overpowering for my taste, but for the live show it only added to the swaying, foot-tapping atmosphere. 

My favorites were obviously "Lifeboats" off their last EP and "Floodlights" off their new album out September 30th (and I say obviously because those are probably their most publicized tracks).

Their month-long tour starts today, so make sure to check them out if you can!

CONNECT WITH SOFT SWELLS

Facebook / Webstie

NEW MUSIC: A.F. Paxton- Our Way

A.F. Paxton just released "Our Way" last week with NY-based Go Rogue Records. The track is part of the label's Young Blood album out today, which is a compilation of edgy electronic pop tracks. 

"Our Way"'s blend of acoustic instruments and digital production creates an extremely cool, dreamy feel.  It's the perfect track to end summer with. My favorite verse has to  be "Nothing can get in our way", the epitome of endless possibilities and a the feels of an unpredictable future. 

Take a listen here!

PREVIEW: New Music Empire Presents- First Fridays at Old Towne Pub

New Music Empire returns to Old Towne Pub to host their second night of killer rock n roll. The night will feature three bands all current students and alumni of USC's Popular Music Program, and all bringing an incredibly high energy with their rock music:

 

The Hammers

The Hammers are an 80's inspired rock band, bringing those raspy vocals and intense guitar shreds that you remember from those days when the Sunset Strip was still cool. They deliver an energy-filled, hot and sweaty performance using actual hammers as mic stands. It's all kinds of entertainment in one place. They recently released an EP Hammer City and will be releasing a music video for "Hammer City" off the EP on September 24th.

 

Dolly Spectra

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Dolly Spectra is the project of Dani Ashjian. It's surrealist punk with a girl power edge. Their quirky live shows are brought to you by neon colors, men in dresses and a gut-wrenching tantrum pop that'll make you forget it's only 2014 and we haven't actually invented time travel yet. This show will be Dolly Spectra's single release show for her newest track, “Moving in Circles”.

 

Livia Slingerland

Livia's angsty rock has been described as "gritty and full of longing". Her songwriting is honest and vulnerable, and her live performance is nothing short of raw and energetic. Livia is currently working on a full-length album as she prepares to graduate from USC.

 

This is bound to be a mind-boggling, head-banging, sweaty show!

 

PHOTOS: DWNTWN and Hunter Hunted @ Tarfest 2014

Free live music? Count us in any day. 

Tarfest  is a free arts and culture festival at the La Brea Tar Pits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that took place yesterday 9/20/14. We were able to snap some pics of DWNTWN and Hunter Hunted as we enjoyed some mellow weekend vibes, free range turkey burgers and breezy sunshine. 

DWNTWN

LIVE REVIEW: Blake Mills @ The El Rey 9/18

by Ethan Sherman

The biggest takeaway from Blake Mills’ show Thursday night at the El Rey Theater for this listener was that he’s managed to make old new again. 

The second show of Mills’ first headlining tour as a solo artist– so far, he’s made his mark mostly as a sideman guitarist and record producer for artists such as Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams, Sara Watkins and Julian Casablancas– was in support of his new album, Heigh Ho, and left a sold-out crowd in awe for just under two hours. Mills sat center stage, a phalanx of guitars (which he switched to and from between nearly every song) and amplifiers behind and to his left, surrounded on all sides by an amazing band including violinist Rob Moose, keyboardist Tyler Chester, bassist Sebastian Steinberg (the only one standing), drummer Stuart Johnson, and percussionist Griffin Goldsmith. They all seemed genuinely grateful to be there.

Mills mostly played songs from the just-released Heigh Ho, as well as a couple covers and radical rearrangements of songs from his first album, 2010’s Break Mirrors. When I say “make old new again”, I’m not just referring to these creative presentations, but to Mills’ overall aesthetic as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. Even though much of his approach to making music comes out of various traditions, he synthesizes elements of these traditions together in a truly compelling way.
Take the guitar playing, for example: while Mills is clearly indebted to players such as Lindsey Buckingham (he barely used a guitar pick all night) and Ry Cooder (indeed, one of his guitars seemed to be a near-replica of Ry’s famously modified Fender Stratocaster, down to the gold foil and steel guitar pickups– guitar nerds, take note!), his playing also exhibits the expressive qualities of sonic innovators like Jeff Beck– literally sounding like a human voice, or perhaps another musical instrument altogether. The most amazing thing about all of this is that it appeared to be second nature, as if the guitar was Mills’ second mouth, helping him speak.

One of the highlights of the night– both personally and judging by the whoops and cheers from the audience– was the surprise guest appearance by Mills’ sometime employer and collaborator, Fiona Apple. Apple sings on two songs from Heigh Ho, both of which were performed at the El Rey, as well as a cover of indeterminate origin (if anybody who was there knows the name of that song, please comment below!). Her presence seemed to invigorate Mills and his band with an energy that lasted after she left the stage through to the end of the set; their duet on “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” was a personal favorite.

All in all, if you like songs, sounds, or guitars, this tour is not to be missed. Blake Mills is truly on to something great, and I recommend that you see it for yourself. If you can’t, at least buy his new record. Heigh Ho was recorded at LA’s famed Ocean Way studios in a room once used by Frank Sinatra and Brian Wilson, and Mills hired some of his musical heroes– musicians such as Jim Keltner, Don Was, Jon Brion and Benmont Tench– to back him up on it. The result is, in this writer’s opinion, nothing short of phenomenal, not unlike Thursday night’s show. Thank you, Blake.


CONNECT WITH BLAKE MILLS

Website / Facebook / Twitter