We know how tough getting some of those hard-to-shop for types can make holiday gift-buying this time of year. Thankfully, you have us!!! Over the next 4 days we’ll give you some last minute gift-ideas featuring some of our favorite products/companies that are sure to be a fit for at least one person on your list! Remember, that these products/companies are around year-round however, so you are not limited to shopping with them to just the holiday season.
Last Minute Gift Idea #1:
We love our friends at Couch Guitar Straps. You may know Couch creator, Dan Perkins, from the local Long Beach based bands The New Fidelity and California Lions –however, you may not know that his creativity is not limited to great song-writing and catchy musical arrangements. As a practicing Vegan and working musician he decided to combine those two passions back in 1999 to create
Couch Guitar Straps, which boasts a product line of handmade guitar straps which they describe as “more original than that big box music retailer strap and more durable than that cheaply made fashion designer one — way better than leather, our guitar straps are made of vinyl and car seatbelt material, and adjust up to 6 inches longer than your average strap for those of us who are bigger and who like to play low.” Couch also uses lots of recycled and vintage deadstock materials and make their straps in a sweatshop free environment, “so know that you guitar strap or vegan belt (or wallet or camera strap) not only looks great and is priced right, but has good karma too.”
Everyone could use a little good karma right? Some of your favorite musicians and bands think so as Couch Guitar Straps have been spotted on Nels Cline, Beck, John Cale as well as members of Tegan and Sara, Silversun Pickups, Mountain Goats, Earlimart, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as well as many more.
So you’d think a product like this would be priced at boutique prices right? Wrong. Because their products are made for musicians by musicians they understand how on a budget this demographic can be and in turn keep their prices low (starting at under $18, with a majority of their straps staying near a $40 price point). As we mentioned though, Couch is not just for musicians as they also make wallets and recently added Camera straps to their line. You also don’t have to compromise style with any of their products as they offer an array of designs and varieties for their fashion forward customers.
As if knowing that this company is doing something great for the environment, and thus are you by default when you purchase anything from them you can also save on shipping fees since they are available for purchase locally at convenient locations such as Pull My Daisy in Silverlake, Vintage Gear Guitar Shop in Hollywood, The Kids are Alright in Long Beach, True Tone and McCabe’s in Santa Monica and many other locations in L.A. and Orange Counties as well as all across the U.S. For a full list of stores click here
You are also in luck if you absolutely must have it shipped as their deadline for ordering to ensure a December 25th arrival is today (Monday December 20th) at 3pm. You might even be able to arrange a pick-up at their warehouse if push comes to shove, just remember to bring some treats for Chirper.
Here is a short video feature we’d done on Dan Perkins and Couch Guitar Straps a little over a year ago, look for an updated feature on them in early 2011 where we’ll learn about their new products, etc.
More and more these days, the music of independent unsigned music artists is integrated into our daily lives. Creative music licensing. It’s pretty much everywhere – on TV, obviously on the radio (online and traditional formats), at the gas pump, in department stores, grocery stores, the list goes on and on.
Thanks to insomnia, just in one day while flipping through channels I heard a few of our friend’s bands on TV (which will remain the most popular vehicle for song placements for quite some time to come) as I attempted to clear out my DVR’s recordings.
This was a few months ago, and I’d initially planned to publish this post at that time (if you can believe it, that was back in January) after having had a similar encounter with an all too familiar soundtrack comprised of more friend’s bands which included: Spider Problem’s “Cha, Cha” on some “Gossip Girl” teaser, Bang Sugar Bang’s “Where’s the Fun in That?” on a re-run of “The Hills” (I think it was a re-run I hadn’t seen that show in eons?), and of course with Samsung having gone the way of Sprint with featuring a local LA band late last year, (The Happy Hollows) on their Google Phone Commercial (Sprint featured iO Echo on their Palm Pre commercial). Just because the programming isn’t quality (but then again, I’m also not necessarily the target market of the shows mentioned), that doesn’t mean the music getting played isn’t and people won’t take notice of it.
I’m sure there was a lot more that I didn’t catch. In fact a couple of years ago I couldn’t watch many of the shows on TV without hearing a band I knew on shows. This will only become more and more true for years to come. Some of those that I recall included, but aren’t limited to: The New Fidelity, Silver Needle, Bang Sugar Bang, The Mulhollands, The Waking Hours, and The Automatic Music Explosion all on the WB and MTV, Get Set Go on Grey’s Anatomy (they even made the soundtrack)– those are just some I can think of off the top of my head, the list goes on and on. I won’t even get started on films.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but songs have a tendency to stick in my head. Name of song and artist not always so much. At least not at first listen, unless I happen to know them personally or it’s all over the place (an example from earlier in the year, Phoenix’s “Listomania”). At times all I can remember is a few of the lyrics, and those lyrics won’t get out of my head. I want to hear them again.
So what do I do?
Hope that episode plays again and they announce the artist name and song title? (more…)
Automatique: “Stepping on Your Feet”
Funeral Party: “Carwars”
The Belleville Outfit – “Caroline”
The Henry Clay People – “Something in the water”
Aushua - “Tuck (How it Feels Away)”
Happy Hollows - “Tambourine”
Pity Party – “Wanting Want”
The Health Club – “Fragile”
The New Hotness - “Can You Feel Me”
The New Fidelity – “Right Track”
New Maximum Donkey – “Sting”
Random comments: Saw Happy Hollows at their Spaceland CD release party. It was an awesome set. Pity Party also played with them. They’re a two piece band. The New Hotness has these awesome riffs. Six of these ten bands I saw at Spaceland. Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time at Spaceland recently.
This is a “night in photos” column with a short write-up tagged to it.
Wednesday night, September 16th, I headed out to Spaceland and then to El Cid. At Spaceland, Diane Birch was in town. You may recall that I wrote a column about her awhile back (click here for that column). My regret about that column was not having any photos to share with you from that night. Therefore, the inspiration for this photo column that was discussed with my TRAffIK editor/friend. After Birch’s set, I headed over to El Cid where I caught two bands: New Fidelity and New Maximum Donkey. Yes, two bands with the word “New” in it. I believe both of these bands were previously mentioned/featured on inTraffik.com. Hope you all enjoy the photos (click on images to enlarge). (more…)
Let’s talk sports briefly. If you enjoy sports, you’ve experienced your favorite team suffering through more than its share of blow out losses. This is what you go through as a fan, but it particularly hurts when that type of loss ends a post-season run. For example, the Boston Celtics blowing out the LA Lakers last season. That one hurt. And so it happened again on a still too recent Thursday night when one of my favorite teams, the Duke Blue Devils, fell victim to a blow-out loss in March Madness. The Villanova Wildcats just took them apart. It was a game that if played during the regular season, I would have turned off the television (perfect example being the Duke v. Clemson game). But since it was March Madness, I felt compelled to watch the full game. For some tortured reason, I felt that by watching the game I was showing my support for their over-all successful season.
What does this have to do with the local music scene? Well . . . after the game ended, I headed off to The Roxy to catch Great Northern. (Yes, the two events’ only connection is in the fact that one followed the other.) I felt a tad miserable driving the streets of Los Angeles that night. Driving down Sunset, I kept thinking, “How is it possible that Duke couldn’t find an open shot all game long? How could Villanova contest every single shot the whole night?”
When I arrived at the Roxy all those thoughts faded. I last saw Great Northern play back at the 2006 Eagle Rock Music Festival. I rank that year as a highlight year for the Eagle Rock Music Festival. I saw both Great Northern and Monsters are Waiting that year. Even though I loved them, I never caught Great Northern again. (Since that time, I have seen Monsters are Waiting a number of times.) So after two plus years, I had some pent up desire to see them again.
Side bar. I know I mentioned in one of my “What I’m Listening To” lists that Great Northern was playing Silverlake Lounge in mid-March and this represented a can’t miss night. Well, I missed it. I had worries about getting a ticket as I noticed that the online tickets had sold out. Also, a friend mentioned that she saw Great Northern listed on The Roxy Calendar. Even though The Roxy is further away from where I live than the Silverlake Lounge, it is also a larger venue which means having a better view. (Nothing against Silverlake Lounge as I’ve been there plenty of times, but sometimes you’re stuck in the back and you can’t see a thing.)
I got to The Roxy at 10-ish and learned that two other bands had already gone on stage. I need to remember that The Roxy has earlier start times than other music venues on the Strip. At the Roxy, the first band goes on before 9 p.m. I already knew this beforehand based on prior visits, but I always seem to forget this fact.
Boring desk cleaning items. I got there slightly before some friends that I convinced to come out for the night. I’m writing the following to bore you with random text messages sent to me between 10:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.
Friend S: Ok cool. Looking for parking.
Friend S: We re here!
Friend C: I’m near the food counter
Anyways, those messages sent me roaming around the crowded floor of The Roxy, gathering my various friends in one location. I ran into Friend S and J first, said hello and then stated that I needed to locate Friend C.
Great Northern. When the clock hit 11 p.m. a beat started up from behind the curtains. The curtains rose and there stood Great Northern on stage. Two years since I last saw this band and I knew as soon as the curtains rose that I still loved them.
It is hard to explain any transformations that a band goes through when a two year gap between seeing them occurs so I’ll quote one of my friends: They got rid of their bassist – a real cutie. (My input: They found a new keyboardist who no doubt turns heads.) The band now focuses on experimental rock versus a previous pop sound. Their set included only one oldie.
My take: This band exudes a major cool factor. I swear, just a stroll across the stage is done in such a matter that speaks coolness.
A Great Northern story told from the stage. The lead singer complained about getting poison ivy on her wrist from SXSW.
Back to sports. I left soon after Great Northern ended their set. (A couple friends actually left before the Great Northern’s final two songs due to car meter issues. They swore later that they loved Great Northern, but had to compare their love of the music to the cost of a parking ticket.) I got into my car and my thoughts immediately turned back to the Duke basketball game. “How could they not find a single open shot all night long?”
Lemon Sun. I did get the opportunity to catch the band prior to Great Northern. They reminded me of another local band called New Fidelity (New Fidelity happens to be one of my editor’s favorite local bands so this plug is for you, Siria). They brought up a tap dancer for one song. They had a microphone right next to a small wood box they had for her. The tapping came out crystal clear. During the set, a kid who looked no older than twelve danced with joy during one song. If I ever have kid(s), I hope I remember that moment. I hope that I take my kid(s) out past their bedtime on occasion to catch some awesome local bands.