July, 2010 Archives

10
Jul

Bank to Banksy

by Lefort in Art

Lefort headed north to San Francisco and environs this week.

On the one hand, there’s no better place in North America to slant sensory-overload and synapse-flagellation.  Job well done, SF.   Art, graffiti, bookstores, etc.

On the other hand, we were there for three nights and there was not one (one!) worthy musical show.  Embarrassing, we say.  So praise be to Club Mercy and Santa Barbara’s music scene, by comparison.

While we missed the Fisher’s largesse at SF Modern Art and the Impressionists at the DeYoung, we had the fortune to stumble upon some cool art, graffiti-style, as rendered recently in the Lower Haight, the Mission and Chinatown by England’s phenomenal Banksy.  Check it out above and below.  We particularly liked “Warrior/Chief’s” commentary on the forgiven and unforgiven trespasses.

And the line is drawn exactly to here:

5
Jul

Spam: Health and Opportunities Lost

by Lefort in Poetry

We have a love/hate relationship with our spam filter.  We love it until it erroneously cordons off an invaluable missive from a friend (or foe/faux, you know who you are), and then we hate it.

But what we meant to say is, check out this great poem by the great Bob Hicok (again):

Spam leaves an aftertaste

What does the Internet know that it sends me
unbidden the offer of a larger penis?
I’m flattered by the energy devoted
to the architecture of my body.
Brain waves noodling on girth, length, curvature
possibly, pictures drawn on napkins
of the device, teeth for holding, cylinder–
pneumatic, hydraulic–for stretching
who I am into who I shall be.  But of all
messages to drop from the digital ether,
hope lives in the communiqué that I can find
out anything about anyone. So I’ve asked:
who am I, why am I here, if a train
leaving Chicago is subsidized
by the feds, is the romance of travel
dead? I’d like the skinny on where I’ll be
when I die, to have a map, a seismic map
of past and future emotions, to be told
how to keep the violence I do to myself
from becoming the grenades I pitch
at others. The likes of Snoop.com
never get back to me, though I need
to know most of all if any of this helps.
How we can scatter our prayers so wide,
if we’ve become more human or less
in being able to share the specific
in a random way, or was it better
to ask the stars for peace or rain,
to trust the litany of our need
to the air’s imperceptible embrace? Just
this morning I got a message
asking is anyone out there. I replied
no, I am not, are you not there too,
needing me, and if not, come over, I have
a small penis but aspirations
for bigger things, faith among them,
and by that I mean you and I
face to face, mouths
making the sounds once known
as conversation.

4
Jul

Fourth of July Soundtrack

by Lefort in Music

Oh sure, we could pull up John Philip Souza, Aaron Copland, or Bernstein.  But as good as they might be, their music wouldn’t be the soundtrack to our Fourth of July.  And what’s the point of an instrumental version from U2?  We can think of a million (and one) songs that subtly evoke our Independence Day and its history.

But for explicit musical reference, we always turn to two of our favorite songs on the 4th.

First is X’s fine cover of Dave Alvin’s song, Fourth of July. We have been X men (and women) since we first bought their 7″ vinyl, Adult Books, in a prior lifetime (when “Slash” magazine ruled the California punk scene).   X always had drilling deliveries and literate lyrics, but the gift was in the beautiful meshing of Exene’s high-edgy-monotone vocals with John Doe’s more melodic intonations.  The world hasn’t heard anything like it since, and it won’t again.

X–Fourth of July

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“She’s waitin’ for me
When I get home from work
Oh, but things ain’t just the same
She turns out the light
And cries in the dark
Won’t answer when I call her name

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

She gives me her cheek
When I want her lips
But I don’t have the strength to go
On the lost side of town
In a dark apartment
We gave up trying so long ago

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

What ever happened
I apologize
So dry your tears and baby
Walk outside, it’s the Fourth of July

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, baby take a walk outside”

Our other favorite 4th of July song is by Aimee Mann.  Ms. Mann has stood the test of time, both in the band Til Tuesday and solo, and has been one of America’s best female songwriters.  Having intermittently abhorred fireworks (so shoot me!) and the resulting throngs, certain lyrics (“what a waste of gunpowder and sky”) from this song have always resonated with us.

Check it out.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Aimee Mann–4th of July

“Today’s the 4th of July
Another June has gone by
And when they light up our town I just think:
What a waste of gunpowder and sky

I’m certain that I am alone
In harboring thoughts of our home
It’s one of my faults
That I can’t quell my past
I ought to have gotten it gone

Oh, baby, I wonder
If when you are older someday
You’ll wake up and say
My God, I should have told her!
What would it take?
But now I am here, and
The world’s gotten colder
And she’s got the river
Down which I sold her…

So that’s today’s memory lane
With all the pathos and pain
Another chapter in a book
Where the chapters are endless
And they’re always the same
A verse, then a verse
And refrain

Oh, baby, I wonder
If when you are older someday
You’ll wake up and say
My God, I should have told her!
What would it take?
But now I am here, and
The world’s gotten colder
And she’s got the river
Down which I sold her…

Yeah, she’s got the river
Down which I sold her… “

3
Jul

The Sharpest Tools in the Soul Shed

by Lefort in Music

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros came to the Lobero in Santa Barbara last night and drew this this town to them yet again.  With this band, the sum is always greater than the parts, and infinitely beyond zero.  Have Mercy!

We had seen the band in March at SoHo and were blown away by the collective sound and stage presence of this charismatic, patchouli-hurricane, 10-person ensemble.  They delivered stupendous songs with vital verve that night.

So prior to the Lobero show, we held concerns that, with the change of venue to the more staid Lobero and the added effects on the band of another four months of incessant touring behind the same record, the Magnetic Zeros might be somewhat de-magnetized and less than zeros.  As the old Faces song goes:  shows how wrong you can be.

The evening opened with an interesting set by the band’s piano player, Tay Stratham, accompanied by various members of the band (but especially the pixie-ish Jade).  While the songs were melodic and the singing somewhat enchanting, Stratham’s lyrics and between-song banter were naive and insipid enough to make an aspiring kindegartner poet blush.  Still, the net effect was disarmingly enjoyable.

After a short break, the entire band took the stage and from the first notes of their childrens-song sounding, Janglin’, Alex and the band were in full rippling and janglin’  control of the Lobero crowd.  The full stimulus package of the band didn’t really kick in until a few songs later, but once it did there wasn’t a person in the theater who would have wanted to be anywhere else.

Lead singer Alex Ebert was in shamanic control of both the band and the audience with his dancing, crowd-involvement and beautiful voice.  Co-vocalist, Jade Castrinos, engagingly employed her perky-pixie, Bjork-sque habitude during the proceedings, although she wasn’t featured quite as prominently as last time around.  Nevermind:  she still beguiled and significantly contributed to the night (and particularly on her own song, the soulful Fire Water-River of Love). Onstage she flaunted the spectrum from seemingly drug-addled to crafty, controlled entertainer, but always with a gestalt of love and care.  A rare gift.

On this night we especially appreciated the musicality and significant contributions of the band’s supporting members.  Nico Aglietti and Christian Letts supplied deft lead and rhythm guitars (with Letts adding stellar harmonies), Stewart Cole held sway with his sonorous trumpet sounds and vocals, while drummer Josh Collazo vacillated between pounding and soft-malleting his drum kit to great effect.  To round it out, bassist Airin Older supplied a steady, melodic bottom, Stratham added pounding piano, Orpheo McCord contributed great vocals and percussion, and  Nora Kirkpatrick supplied keyboard and accordion effects.  These are dexterous and talented musicians, and all contributed mightily to the collective sound.

The band played a significant setlist comprised of most of their debut record, “Up From Below.”  The set included the obligatory crowd pleasers Home (five to six minutes when the world smacks of heaven) and 40 Day Dream, but also Desert Song (on which each member turned eyes heavenward and seemed to be playing and focused as if their lives depended on it), Carries On (with its message of caring love), Up from Below, Black Water, Simplest Love and Om Nashi Me, along with a cast of others.

One of the highlights of the evening was the obscure, audience-requested (not the first to be obliged) Man on Fire. The band had to spend a few moments figuring out the song’s chords and spent a few moments early in the song fleshing out the vocals and sound, but by song’s end the power and glee found by the band in playing this song were apparent to all.

And for the finale Alex tightrope-walked the first few rows of seats and sat atop the seat next to Mrs. Lefort to regale the crowd with the band’s standard fine finale, the haunted and haunting Brother.

Afterwards, Alex and other band members stayed on stage for their usual catch-up with their fans.  It warms the heart to see this band and others taking a more friendly stance with their fans.

We can’t wait for the next time and a new set of songs.  Don’t miss it.

In the meantime check out some of their videos below and the stellar cover of Sharpe song Carries On by the band “Dawes.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Obs9t5nTyI

2
Jul

Le Tour de France–The Greatest Show on Earth

by Lefort in Music

Blue skies, the Dutch over Brazil in World Cup soccer, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros tonight at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara.  Life can’t get much better.

Ah, but it can.  Tomorrow begins the Tour de France, what many consider the Greatest Show on Earth.   We concur, though the World Cup is making a strong play for that title.  This year Lance Armstrong goes for his last turn of the French countryside against his arch-nemesis and former teammate, Alberto Contador of Spain, the Brothers Schleck from Luxembourg, Bradley Wiggins of England, and countless other contenders (including a host of “Eastern Bloc” athletes that have spent good amounts of money and risked their lives to get the good stuff coursing through their veins).  It’s going to be great.  Perhaps in homage of the anticipated Dutch performance in the World Cup, the Tour will begin tomorrow with a Prologue in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  You can find coverage on the Versus Channel and all over the inter-web.

Le Tour has always captured the attention of artists throughout the world, including musicians.  And so we give you two songs that pay homage to the Tour de France, the first only tangentially and the second wholly.

The first is Camera Talk from the loquacious Local Natives.  In the lyrics below, the band points their camera briefly on the Tour before moving on to examine the merits of travel, with its sensory-overload.  Local Natives deliver a driving, harmony-laden song, with a stellar time-change chorus.  Coming to SoHo in Santa Barbara on September 20th.  Highly recommended, along with their critically acclaimed debut record, “Gorilla Manor.”

Local Natives–Camera Talk (emphasis added)

“We’re running through the aisles
of the churches still in style
does this city have a curfew?
don’t you know it’s good to see you too

The riders on the Champs-Elysees
we are the tourists in the cafes
we drank our wine along the river
not believing where we were at all

It’s alright, the camera is talking
and even though i can’t be sure
memory tells me that these times are worth working for

The buffalo in Catalina
the colored stones and troop leaders
the voices of the canopy singers
ensured that we wouldn’t sleep for long

I knew this would be the part
my plane’s arrival catches me off guard
we’ll all be leaving with a broken heart
wallets empty and we’re back at start

It’s alright, the camera is talking
and even though i can’t be sure
memory tells me that these times are worth working for

The cistern is not even full
the sister is naughty
the cistern in not even”

Local Natives–Camera Talk

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Next up is a more explicit homage from the seminal German techno-band, Kraftwerk.  We give you their Tour de France single, first released in 1983.  The song includes sampled voices and sounds of cycling to mesh with a melody allegedly borrowed from the opening theme of Paul Hindemith’s “Sonata for Flute and Piano.”  The melodic song was a departure from the techno tone of Kraftwerk’s prior work and was meant to be a celebration of cycling.   The record cover design depicted the band in a paceline against an angled replica of the French flag.

Kraftwerk–Tour de France

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


1
Jul

Blue Skies and Summertime Girls

by Lefort in Music

It was in the fall of 1915 that I decided not to use any color

until I couldn’t get along without it and I believe

it was June until I needed blue.

–GEORGIA O’KEEFE

Amen, Georgia.  She must have been living in Santa Barbara at the time.

We desperately needed blue in June, but deliverance was not had until July.  July 1st to be exact.  Money and blue skies change everything.  I think that’s how that great song went (one-hit wonder band, The Brains, version please, not that Lauper thingy).

To match the change in mood brought by the big ole sun, we give you some sounds of summer.  Some by girls and another by Girls (the boy band).

First up are The Mynabirds and their song Numbers Don’t Lie. The song is a great throwback to the sounds of the Sixties and just says “summer.”  According to Mynabirds’ leader, Laura Burhenn, she had long aspired to have a band that sounded like Neil Young playing Motown. After recording some songs, she named her new group The Mynabirds.  Only later did she discover that Neil Young had made music with Rick James in 1960s Motown in the 60′s R&B group, The Mynah Birds.

Listen in to some piano, soul, a bit of grit, and vocals that recall Dusty Springfield, Bobbie Gentry and other 60s icons.

The Mynabirds–Numbers Don’t Lie

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In a similar, throwback vein comes the self-avowed “blissed-out buzz saw” pop of the Dum Dum Girls in their song Jail La La, their first single for  Sub Pop.  With their ’60s-inflected songs and melodies, the Dum Dum Girls seem destined for sugary success.  Check ‘em out.

Dum Dum Girls–Jail La La

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Moving on to the boys, we give you Girls from San Francisco.   Listen to their driving, shimmering song, Summertime, off their phenomenal record “Album” (creative) released in the fall of last year.  It’s the Wall of Fuzz, and pop genius with an edge.  We saw this band at Muddy Waters late last year, and they delivered the goods.  Highly recommended.

Girls–Summertime

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Finally, listen in to LA’s Active Child and its sparkling, 80s-esque pop in their song Voice-Of-An-Old-Friend-Summer-Camp-Bedford-Falls-remix.  We can’t help but hear heavy Thompson Twins and ABC influence in the mix, but there’s never been anything wrong with that.  Is Malcolm McLaren the referenced “old friend” of the song’s title?  Buffalo Dude and Gal have gone around the outside, indeed.

Active Child–Voice-Of-An-Old-Friend-Summer-Camp-Bedford-Falls-remix

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.