So, what does one do when one’s just finished a degree or two in music? It may come as a surprise, but the combination of writing sort-of-amusing internet columns, doing a sort-of-amusing internet radio show, and crowbarring an instrument usually exclusive to classical music into an indie-rock context, all largely pro bono, are not among the standard career paths for music school graduates. Can’t imagine why, really, but “Musical Polemics 401,” “Handjob Jokes: A Musicological Primer,” and “Smoke Your Way to a Radio Voice” are not on the curricula of most accredited music schools. But with music schools churning out eager graduates at the rate of hapless thousands each year, all of whom are forced to compete with previous years’ hapless thousands for about four jobs nationwide, one has to get a bit creative if one doesn’t want to end up blowing that treasure trove of musical information out the back of one’s head and all over that nice clean diploma. See, music schools exist for those one or two people in every class who are freakish prodigies, or attractive and marketable (by classical-musician standards, at least)(the really lucky ones are both), but one or two people’s tuition money just ain’t enough to keep any kind of school running–even at USC prices. So they have to sell the hopeful, starry-eyed rank-and-file on the idea that they too can make a career out of something only a lucky few people can make a career of. At least until the checks clear, and then they’re on their own. So, as one of the rankest and filiest, before I settled on my chosen field of Doing Musical Stuff For Free (But Also With Complete Autonomy), I tried just about every standard path to post-music-school glory. Following is a list of them, and the reasons they eventually made me want to vomit. (more…)
After pushing out three solid mixtapes today is the day for Wale’s proper major label debut…and he saved some of his best stuff for it. Unlike what was previously reported the producer list is Kanye and P Diddy free. Instead Wale reached out to David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio to bring that raw TVOTR vibe to a new audience. . That sound is always welcome in my book. Beyond my TVOTR man crush, he’s a sensible producer choice here since Wale would seem to be trying to position himself as the next great introspective alternative rapper. You can almost buy that sentiment…but only if you dismiss the obligatory Neptunes track (“Let It Loose”) and the instantly accessible panderings of the lead single “Chillin” (featuring Lady Gaga). I can’t fault an artist for loading up his lead single with tons of hooks and honey. It’s where it goes after that what truly matters. Once you get past “Chillin” you’ll find some great beats (“Pretty Girls”) and some even greater social commentary (“90210″). Culture eviscerating lyrics coupled w/ great pop culture references and the occasional guest vocal are the building blocks to a great hip hop album. However what really sells it for me is what is NOT present. That would be the lack of skits. I’m not sure who ever gave rappers the idea that skits were a good thing to pepper in between songs but I think I can speak for everyone when I say “No Mas Por Favor”. Not even David Gray is that painful to listen to. When rocking your ipod on shuffle just about the last thing you want to hear is “The $20 Sack Pyramid”. If i wanted to force myself to hear unfunny hip hop artists channel their inner groundlings I’d go ahead and catch reruns of Wild N’ Out on MTV.
Highlights: “Triumph,” “Pretty Girls,” “90210,” “TV In The Radio”
Guilty Pleasure Highlight: “Chillin’”
by Notes from Vivace
Eagle Rock Music Festival. I came across the Eagle Rock Music Festival three years ago. Since that time, I’ve placed it on my calendar as one of those yearly Los Angeles events I like to attend – such as the LA Times Book Festival and the International Tamale Festival (November 13-15, 2009, by the way). This year, I had a heightened excitement for the festival, because last year I skipped it. If I recall correctly, I thought it was going to rain and so I discounted it as a possible evening outing. When the weather turned out to be perfect a sense of disappointment swept over me, because I’d already made other plans with some friends – I know, somewhat pathetic since it is just a music festival.
When the band list came out on myspace I immediately took a look. I quickly realized that I was going to have a different experience this year versus my first year at the festival. This year was going to be fabulous, because I knew so many of the bands playing. The first time I’d gone, I hadn’t heard of any of the bands and it was a night of exploration. Exploration versus familiarity.
As the night of the festival came closer, I checked in with one of my friends to see if she planned on going. She was a go and gave me the name of the first band to see: Leslie and the Badgers. They were on at 6 p.m.
I spent Saturday afternoon hanging with some friends at Barnsdall Park. When 5 p.m. rolled around I said my good-byes and told a handful of them where I’d be if they wanted to hang out later in the day. All declined except for two friends who seemed rather excited about heading out. I told them where to find me and off I headed to Eagle Rock. (I never ran into them at the festival so I just assumed that they had decided not to come, but a week later one of them came up and told me how awesome the night was.) I parked at the Eagle Rock Shopping Mall where there was a free shuttle to the festival. Being a bit naïve about this since I’d always just parked closer to the event in previous years, I stood near the bus stop looking for a shuttle. I didn’t see anyone else hanging around for a shuttle so I just took off on foot.
I arrived at the Emerging Stage a little after 6 p.m., but the bands were a tad behind schedule so I got to see Leslie and the Badgers’ full set. I ran into my friend as well as a couple other friends during the set. After Leslie and the Badgers ended their set, we roamed around for awhile. During our roaming, we ran into another couple friends. This was suddenly becoming an awesome night of not only listening to bands, but also getting to hang with friends. A smaller group of us decided that we needed to get something to eat so the group split up with some of us crossing the street to Oinkster. Oinkster was crowded and I was concerned that we’d miss seeing some bands that we wanted to see, but the service was fast and the Oinkster staff was great.
We next headed over to the Razorcake Stage, but got sidetracked briefly at the Pep Boys stage where French Semester was playing. They sounded great, but we didn’t stick around too long as we wanted to continue up to the Razorcake Stage. (I have to say that I want to catch the French Semester sometime, because they really did sound good.) We then got sidetracked a second time at the Welcome Inn where Bonne Musique Zydeco played on the second floor walkway of the inn. There was a nice dance crowd in the parking lot. This is also where I found myself temporarily separated from my friends. I sent off a text message. I figured that perhaps they had continued on over to the Razorcake Stage, but when I got there none of them were there. I checked my phone and still hadn’t gotten a response back. So I circled back down and found them at the Welcome Inn. They were dancing away. Stupid me for not doing a full exploration of the Welcome Inn parking lot before heading off to the Razorcake Stage. (more…)
Checking out the Pixies schedule for LA I saw that they had three dates coming up on their “Doolittle” (yep a pixies show where they play Doolittle from top to bottom) tour
11/04 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Palladium ^
11/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Palladium %
11/06 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Palladium *
Three dates in November that would appear at first glance to be interchangeable. It’s not until you find out what the characters next to the venue symbolize that you realize the smart buy was the November 6th show.
^ = w/ No Age
% = w/ Black Gold
* = w/ Rain Machine
Not only is it a Friday show but it also has Rain Machine as an opener. For those of you who don’t know Rain Machine is the moniker for TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone’s side project. I’m a big TVOTR fan so I’m a bit biased here when I say anyone who chose 11/04 or 11/05 is a huge sucker. Rain Machine, much like the Iran side project, is an outlet for Kyp Malone to stretch his TVOTR wings and get more soulful..if that’s even humanly possible. Finally Kyp’s beard matches his sound. I mean that as a compliment. I’ve got nothing but praise for this album. Shockingly Rain Machine isn’t getting the stellar reviews that I’d expect it to…unless of course “unbalanced” and “self indulgent” are hip new adjectives when describing your love for music. Stepping away from my TVOTR man crush I suppose I can understand where they are coming from as three of the songs check in at around or over the eight minute mark…but that hardly seems like something to complain about. It would appear that TVOTR’s past successes are causing reviewers to have limitless expectations moving forward. Personally, for me, if an album has 4-5 killer songs than the album is a rousing success. Rain Machine meets and exceeds that quota. Just don’t expect heavy fuzz rocking jams. “Give Blood,” the lead single, is the most familiar track for a TVOTR fan which is a smart move. Rope the kids in with familiarity and then after that switch gears and develop a tracklist consisting of heartfelt falsetto singing accompanied by some serious churchy vibes, old school finger plucking and some Dylan-esque lyrics thrown in for good measure.
Highlights: “Give Blood,” “Smiling Black Faces,” “New Last Name,” “Leave The Lights On”