San Diego Serenade


Friday Charts - 5/19/06

Posted in General, Street Scene by conor on the May 19th, 2006

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You can’t make stuff up like the comments a few entries below. For the past three weeks or so I emailed a few different people at the Street Scene, hoping to hear some tips on bands that were playing or maybe even get some tickets to give away to readers of this website. I didn’t hear anything until today when the design and media director of the Street Scene read my blog and called me “retarted” and “a joke” for suggesting that a Replacements reunion at the Street Scene might be an event worth getting excited about. I don’t imagine that this kind of confrontation happened before the rise of the internet, and I think that we’re all better for the chance to be randomly insulted by a grown man.


Intimate Secretary - Maybe my favorite song on the album (It’s better live)

Secondly, tickets for the Raconteurs July 19th show at Soma go on sale tomorrow at 10 AM…technically…They are also available right now at the Raconteurs presale site. You need a password to get in, but I’ll spare you the 10 seconds that took to obtain - it is “brokenboy”. Tickets are a slightly pricey meat-a ball, at $30 a pop, especially for an album that didn’t particularly distinguish itself the first couple of times you listen to it, but check out the ridiculous solos in the above video. I’m not one to doubt Jack White’s powers. Bad things happen to the last guy who did that.

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Thirdly, I saw the above image on BoingBoing today. I’m not sure what it was specifically referencing, but it made me think about the recent lawsuit filed by the RIAA against XM radio. It’s broken down very well here, but basically the RIAA has decided to sue XM for making devices like the XM radio I have, that essentially act as Tivo’s for your radio, allowing you to record 5 hours of music. You can’t take the music off, you can’t give it to a friend, five hours is a pretty short amount of music to record, and it’s not CD quality. But that doesn’t stop the RIAA, whose next logical plan would have to be to seek out and sue all the widows of Gulf War veterans, just in case there are people out there who they haven’t alienated yet. It’s one thing when the poor guy who opens up the Authentic Kazakhstan Restaurant in Pacific Beach’s business fails, you kind of feel sorry for that poor guy. When its a bunch of dicks like the RIAA who seem completely unwilling to seize upon the advances and goodwill exhibted by the public towards the exciting future of music and music technology, there’s just no sympathy to be had. XM has a good rebuttal of their own right here, they come across as 100% pro consumer. I wonder what the RIAA’s message to their consumers would be…

Fourthly, we arrive at the Charts. Some major releases have been hapening lately. Let’s see what the ten most seeded albums are at a certain file sharing portal. Links go someplace with album samples, live bootlegs, crazy remixes, criticism, maybe ALL FOUR!

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
2. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
3. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
4. Tool - 10,000 Days
5. Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
6. The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off
7. The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
8. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
9. Neil Young - Living With War
10. Angels & Airwaves - We Don’t Need To Whisper

No real comments, many of these albums have been around for a while. What’s more interesting to me is what didn’t turn up on the list. Pitchfork has given out a few highly touted reviews lately, giving Shogun Kunitoki, Beirut and the Futureheads “recommended” status and Scott Walker and Danielson “Best New Music” status. These are usually enough to catapault something into the top ten, like has happened to Band of Horses, or Tapes ‘n Tapes. I don’t know if it necessarily signifies a decline in the influence of Pitchfork on peoples downloading habits, but it is interesting to note.

Finally, three of these bands are rumored to be playing the Street Scene, #s 2, 4 and 10. I didn’t even realize that Angels & Airwaves was a Blink 182 related project until I looked for MP3s to link to. I guess when you are retarded, you tend to be fuzzy on the details.

The Hits Keep On Coming - Fifty On Their Heels

Posted in Downloads, Bands, Street Scene by conor on the May 17th, 2006

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UPDATE: I’ve posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

You know the feeling you get as you sit in an airport waiting for you flight to take off when you have a connecting flight you have to make? You’re there an hour early, sitting in the terminal waiting. You notice the airplane hasn’t arrived yet. No matter, you’ve still got plenty of time. As long as you take off no less than an hour late, you’ll still be fine for your connection. But it gradually become a battle between optimism and reality, and as the clock starts ticking down, you come to the grim realization ten minutes before your deadline that the plane’s not coming, you’re going to miss your connection, and your vacation is ruined.

Well that’s what this past week has been like watching the Street Scene rumors trickle in. The latest, collected nicely for us at the UT’s Liner Notes, indicate that She Wants Revenge, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard and possibly Tool are added to the lineup. The possibility of pulling off an event to rival Lollapalooza that same August weekend appears to have evaporated almost laughably quickly, and as the clock ticks down towards the Monday lineup annoucement, one can only hope that whoever is piloting the Street Scene plane pulls off some Chuck Yeager style heroics to bring the bird in safely. What is most unsettling about the whole thing is not the lack fo indie buzz bands, or major headliners, but rather that the Street Scene seems completely focused in the absolute nadir of shitty genres: the emo/punk bands.

The problem with these bands, none of which I have ever listened to and could not name a song or album by, is that they forgot something about the very basics of punk. Though the Sex Pistols were angry, and the Ramones could only play three chords, both of these bands were essentially pop music gone horribly awry. If you take away the sneering vocals, some of the distortion and slow it all down a wee bit, you’ve got a sixties pop song. Maybe take out the abortion and glue sniffing subject matter, but anyways. Bands like The Clash would further expound upon the inherent poppiness in early punk music, creating songs that build, segue, flow, you know, songs that behave like Beatles songs. I remember in 8th grade when Green Day came out with Dookie, and all the magazines talked about was the “return of punk.” I was confused then, and only now realize that what they meant was the return of punk that you can actually listen to. Nobody’s saying you have to puss out to make a pop-esque punk album. But at some point in time, I imagine that artists get a bit tired of playing unpleasant music, and decide that more ambitious goals (the long rumored fourth chord!) are worth a shot.

So as an antidote for the shitty punk/emo that the Street Scene is offering up, I present to you San Diego’s own Fifty On Their Heels. Listening to these guys the past couple days has really made me aware of the fact that a record does’t have to go by at 120 mph and be shoved down your throat to be punk. The singer has a voice that you’ll feel like you’ve heard many times before, sort of snotty, faux British. But where the band really shines is the music, which manages to never sound the same, and even accomplishes the ultimate punk coup of incorporating different musical passages and even different instruments into the same song. You know how on American Idiot, Green Day had a couple nine minute song “suites” that sounded like 6 different songs put together? Well my favorite song on the album, Occupation, pulls off a similar trick in just three and a half minutes. I hear traces of Rancid in the beginning, and Sex Pistols in the vocals, with a Strokes kind of guitar lick for the chorus and a Clash style breakdown all before it builds to an utterly triumphant, cut off too brief finale.

The guys sound like they’re having fun. Which is important. But more important, they sound like the kind of band that you could have fun going to see. Fortunately for you, they’re playing two shows in San Diego in June, and will be playing lots more all summer long. Check out the myspace page for dates, a few more streaming songs as well as info on where to get their new CD. San Diego has been on a roll with local bands lately. It’s too bad that the major summer festival looks headed in the opposite direction.

Dowload MP3 of Fifty On Their Heels - Occupation
http://www.myspace.com/fiftyontheirheels
June 13th @ The Casbah

Snoop @ The Street Scene

Posted in Street Scene by conor on the May 17th, 2006

UPDATE: I’ve posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

Pollstar has added Snoop Dogg and Steel Pulse to the lineup. Snoop was there last year, I don’t know who Steel Pulse is. CityBeat also came out today, with some speculation:

In the pure rumor department, we’ve heard strong “chatter” about Tom Petty, Tool, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Angels & Airwaves. And Vegas odds favor Wilco, Matisyahu, Kanye West and Gnarls Barkley also showing up.

All four of those “Vegas Odds” guys are already at Lollapalooza that weekend, so maybe they will share a plane. There’s still nobody on there that’s got me excited. Trying to pick who the “headliner” would be is difficult, there’s nobody that is “Brag worthy” so to speak. Tom Petty in particular screams mediocrity. One thing that did hit me at some point in time was the fact that The Replacements are releasing two new songs on a new greatest hits album soon. You figure that them playing a live show isn’t out of the question, and a huge summer festival would probably be the place to do it…

A Good Way To Get People To Talk About Your CD

Posted in General, Concerts by conor on the May 16th, 2006

Within a month of starting this website, I got an email from a random Northern band. They wanted to know if I would like a copy of their album, ostensibly to check out and hopefully hype on the website. Well of course I wanted it. The novelty of a band wanting to send me their CD was pretty neat, and even if they didn’t come from San Diego, maybe I could learn about something new and bask in the shallow, thankless, reflective glory that is being the “first person” to tell you about a band.

Well, it turns out that I didn’t particularly like the CD. It wasn’t god awful, but it wasn’t something I was going to stick my neck out and talk about just because they sent me a CD. It actually arrived while I was visiting New York, so it had been sitting in the mailbox when I got home, along with an email from the band asking if I’d got it yet. I replied that I had, but had been out of town and was going to listen the first chance I got. Not having a job, this was not a problem. I listened a few times. Nothing struck me. But I got a few more emails, asking what I thought. Then one of the guys IM’d me. He told me that he’d read my review of “A Confederacy of Dunces” at amazon.com. I read a Confederacy of Dunces in 1999, my senior year in high school, and did not remember writing a brief review of it at Amazon.com

Needless to say, I did not respond. In fact, I think I made sure my windows were locked. Anyways, this is a textbook way to not get someone to write about your CD.

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A good way to GET someone to write about your CD is to send them a really good CD. And someone did that to me just yesterday: Nathan Asher & The Infantry - Sex Without Love. The hype aroudn the album stresses that one of the songs had won two potentially made up songwriting competitions that I had never heard of. Having Won numerous blog competitions myself, most notably the Conor Lastowka Blog Writing Award, and the My Cat’s Butt Invitational, this did not impress me. But the quality of the song “Thursday Night/Friday Morning” (not the award winner) did. It’s the album closer, and builds from a quiet song mainly featuring the singers Oberst-like wavery vocals (a good thing), into a great drum and key heavy fake-ending-climax-then-reprise, which, as we all know, is the only proper way to end an album.

It would be foolish to base an album recommendation just that one song, (see Spacehog - In The Meantime), so don’t just take my word for it. Kwaya Na Kisser recommends the album as well, and has a few more MP3s for you to check out. I think that any band that has it together enough to pull off the album closer they do is worth giving a chance to the rest of their material. So if you want, check out the CD at CDBaby.

And seriously, check out A Confederacy Of Dunces. I stand by that recommendation from my 18 year old self.

Street Scene Lineup!!! is coming on May 22nd

Posted in Street Scene by conor on the May 16th, 2006

UPDATE: I’ve posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

An announcement on the Street Scene myspace page says that the line up will be announced on May 22nd, which is Monday. No other surprised have reared their heads lately, but the Raconteurs won’t be part of the mix. They announced tour dates today, and will be in scenic Michigan and Cleveland during the Street Scene.

You know how at the end of the Wizard of Oz, after the Wizard has given the other three guys their things, Dorothy says something to the effect of “I don’t think you can fit what I want in that bag”? Well unless they’re pulling some serious strings, or entering into Frankenstein-esque resurrection territory with the line up, I’m not quite sure what they’re gonna pull out of that bag on Monday is going to prove to be that exciting. Guns n’ Roses would be sweet though…

More info on bands that we know about here, here, here, and here.

Effi Briest, We Hardly Knew Ye OR A Few Good Concerts This Week

Posted in Concerts by conor on the May 15th, 2006

We had an interesting experience trying to go check out Grand Ole Party at Gelato Vero Saturday night. In yet another case where knowing when a band might actually take the stage being the most vital bit of information you could possibly know, we arrived as the first band was winding down. Terrific, since we were told the band we came to see would be playing second. So we sat around, talked about dentists, drank beer out of paper bags, and waited for the band to start.

Right about the time someone knocked a clarinet over while they were setting up, the horrible realization set in that the next band wasn’t going to be GOP, but rather Effi Briest, who are named after German realist Theodor Fontane’s masterpiece and who choose the following sentence to entice you to their shows: “It’s got touches of psychedelia but also it’s seven women and we have a very full explorative sound.”

So if you were wondering who the four people who came to Gelato Vera for an hour, drank beers out of paper bags, and left right before the band started, that was us.

Moving on to what will hopefully be an eventful week of interesting musical events:

-On Wednesday, May 17th, there is an event called Diva Nova at the Winston’s in OB, featuring “17 Women Who Rock Your World.”

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Click for detail


The info page over at Beach Music Mafia claims that:
San Diego has been a beacon for some of the best musicians and singer-songwriters in the country. Specifically female musicians and singer-songwriters. There must be something in the air or maybe it’s the benevolent music scene that nurtures the artists’ soul and begets that fine blend of talent, style, beauty and grace.

Telling me this is like the equivilent of saying that below temperatures of 223 Kelvin, it is impossible for Hydrogren and Carbon atoms to form covalent bonds. It’s very possible that you might be correct, so I will slowly nod my head. But there’s been an exciting amount of good music in the area going on these days, so I figure I’ll keep the good vibe going. Performers include Podunk Nowhere, Anna Troy and Lisa Sanders.

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Then we have Thursday night at the Casbah, where Fox Rox is putting on a show to celebrate their 200th episode. They’ve got Transfer, Gram Rabbit, and The Bloody Hollies lined up to play, and it promises to be a damn good time. I talked to Wesley Doyle from the Bloody Hollies back in the first couple weeks I started this website, and after getting shut out of the first show I tried to go see them at, I’ve been waiting for another chance. Check out the show, or at least just acknowledge and respect the guys at Fox Rox for making it to 200 episodes. Just think, every other city in America is watching King Of The Hill reruns on Fox on Thursdays at midnight.

MP3s:

Transfer - Henry Doesn’t Stand
Gram Rabbit - Witness & Dirty Horse
The Bloody Hollies - Swing

They Throw Such Killer Grand Ole Partys

Posted in Bands, San Diego, Concerts by conor on the May 13th, 2006

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Malcolm Gladwell introduced us all to his concept of snap decision making in his book “Blink.” He talked about experts being able to size up a situation, be it a failing relationship or the likelihood of a new product to succeed, in just a few seconds, based on unconscious analysis that even the experts themselves couldn’t understand. I think that I experience Blink moments myself with music every now and then. I can think of any number of artists, songs or records that took time to sink in, and whose brilliance was revealed gradually. Many of these musical works I disliked initially, because it’s easy to equate “Not Getting It” with dislike.

But there are other times when “Blink” type decisions occur, and within 5 seconds of a song starting up, I can tell that it’s something special. The last time it happened was with the Seeger Sessions album, and it happened again last night when I read some of the comments on here recommending some local bands. One of the suggested groups was San Diego’s Grand Ole Party. Most myspace pages play a song for you automatically when they load. This can usually be an annoyance, but in the case of this band it works as a hook. It tells you that you made the right decision coming to their myspace page, and that you’re going to want to stick around and check things out.

Both of the songs on the page, Insane and Look Out Young Son result in the rarest of myspace page phenomenoms: seeking out the “Volume Up” button rather than “frantically looking for the Mute Button with the driven purpose of someone looking for the abort button as a bomb ticks down its final seconds”. Both songs feature guitar and drums that are gloriously sleazy and dirty. They slink and lurch along, rockin all the way. The music sounds sort of like the rawness of early White Stripes like “Jimmy The Exploder,” played with the slow back alley coolness of Tom Waits at his most mysterious. But the hook is the singer, who is also the drummer, who is also a lady who can wail like Cassandra from Crucial Taunt. (Watched Wayne’s World last weekend, that chick can sing.)

In short, this band sounds like it is A) destined to get signed and release some great material, hopefully some time soon, and B) most definitely rocks live. Fortunately, there’s a chance to see them in town tonight, at what is hands the most rockin venue in San Diego that I didn’t know existed until today: Gelato Vero in Little Italy, which features Italian Ice Cream, Pastries, Coffee, Performances, Music, Art. If you can’t make it there, they’re playing both the Whistlestop and the Casbah before the month is over, on the 25th and 28th respectively.

Highly recommended, for now and to keep an eye on.

Video of the band performing at the Casbah
MP3s:
Grand Ole Party - Insane
Grand Ole Party - Look Out Young Son

Review of a show last week at the San Diego Sports Club at Cat Dirt Sez

Another Street Scene Band = Bloc Party

Posted in Street Scene by conor on the May 12th, 2006

UPDATE: I’ve posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

The Street Scene lineup continues to be revealed, piece by piece. Still waiting for something huge to drop, but Brooklyn Vegan posts that Bloc Party has the Street Scene on their tour itinerary.

More Street Scene Rumors - Tapes ‘n Tapes?

Posted in Street Scene by conor on the May 11th, 2006

Street Scene Red

UPDATE: I’ve posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

The rumor mill for Street Scene 2k6 keeps chugging along. Lots of talk about Tapes ‘n Tapes joining the festivities, based on their touring with The Futureheads, who are already showing up as playing on Pollstar. This was reported in a Pitchfork news article, like a week ago, but as of now is not yet showing up on Tapes ‘n Tapes myspace page. I’m not a fan of the band, but posted a live show from SXSW they did a month or so ago that you can check out here.

Modest Mouse is also a name lots of people are tossing around. They play in Santa Barbara on August 6th, the day after Street Scene, so that doesn’t sound illogical, but the band hasn’t been up to anything in a while , has nothing to promote, and isn’t on a big tour, so I don’t know…

I also didn’t realize that Street Scene is on the same weekend as Lollapalooza, the 3 day festival in Chicago, which has an impressive lineup, featuring just to name a few, The Raconteurs, The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Ween, Ryan Adams, Built to Spill, Eels, Gnarls Barkley… I guess it is unlikely that a band will play both of the shows in a weekend, which is bad when talking about the Raconteurs, who I hoped the Street Scene could snag, but good when it comes to the Chili Peppers, who have somehow managed to maintain the status of “Acceptable band to be the headliner at a huge festival” since the mid 90s despite the fact that their career paths really should have mirrored some of the best 80s hair metal bands and be playing at a state fair or a pig roast that weekend. If Lollapalooza means that they aren’t an option as Street Scene headliner, I’m all for that.

Typing about Ween made me realize that I’ve probably never mentione Ween on here. Well The Blarney Stone and Waving My Dick In The Wind are both on my Itunes “50 Most Played List” and have been mix cd staples for a long time, so please check them out. Waving My Dick in the Wind is the rare cleverly titled song that lives up to how good its title is, and The Blarney Stone rivals the Pogues best Irish drinking songs in terms of it making you want to join in with the red nosed chap next to you when the chorus hits.

Both of these songs are on The Mollusk

Free Tickets to The Rogers Sisters and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness At The Casbah

Posted in Concerts, Contests by conor on the May 10th, 2006

“Don’t miss this show - I’m not! Trust me!” So says the faceless, voiceless “Info” section of the Casbah’s concert schedule regarding the May 18th lineup of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness and The Rogers Sisters. It’s an oddly compelling little endorsement/command, kind of like the order to “Enjoy” printed on cans of Coca-Cola. But this is one disembodied voice whose commands you might be interested in listening to, at least for now. If he starts encouraging mailman killings and stuff of that ilk, I suggest you go elsewhere for your “info.”

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Pitchfork was dead on about the marketability of this logo

Both of these bands have been getting some press lately. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness isn’t the kind of name you forget once you’ve heard it the first time, and though I hadn’t heard about the Rogers Sisters until they bought an ad on the right side of this website, I think they’ve got a pretty cool sound. They’ve got a sort of Sonic Youth/Pixies male and female vocal contrast going on, and make music that is similar to both of those bands arty, raw kind of sound, but much closer to the Pixies rock end of the spectrum, as opposed to unpleasent experimentation. I think I support any band called The ____ Sisters that features prominent male contributions. As a bonus, evidently they put on a great live show.

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Prominent Male Contributions indeed

Both bands new records have gotten good reviews from Pitchfork too (ILYBICD and Rogers Sisters), although I must point out that in the Rogers Sisters review, the writer shows his hand a bit too transparently. Nothing indicates a case of writer’s block lock nitpicking that too many of their songs are sung about “you.” Embarassing.

But anyways, you should check out both bands. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness has a myspace page with streams and the Rogers Sisters have a QT album stream. If you’re the type who doesn’t want to leave a web page without an MP3, check out You Undecided by the Sisters.

Finally, more unidentified faceless people have given me the power to bestow upon you a pair of tickets to giveaway to you guys for the show at the Casbah on Friday the 18th. So here’s what I want you to do. Who have I been neglecting on this blog? Is there an artist, local or national that kicks so much ass that it’s just unforgivable that I haven’t written anything about them? Comment away and early next week I’ll pick one at random and the free tickets will be yours.

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