Introducing pepperandbutter dot com

Categories: useful websites

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Chris Alfaro, putting on airs.

Santa Ana musician/DJ/entrepreneur Free the Robots (Chris Alfaro) alerts us that his soon-coming club/restaurant The Crosby now has a video blog (wittily titled Kenny Bloggins) that will provide several entertaining hours of “mindless escapism.” It includes the first episode of Free the Robots Cribs: Essential viewing. And it's not like you have anything better to do, slacker.

The Shepherd's Dog by Iron And Wine

Categories: new releases

For those who were seduced by the minimalist quiet whisperings on Iron And Wine’s early albums Our Endless Numbered Days and The Creek Drank The Cradle will find the new album The Shepherd’s Dog a venture into new territory.

This album crosses the border from timid (who can forget the sweetly sparse cover of Such Great Heights?) to bold, with mastermind Samuel Beam finally unlocking what we always knew he had lurking somewhere within the depths of his creativity.

This is the album any Iron And Wine fan has been waiting (ever so patiently) for, and will finally get to hear September 25. Beam takes The Shepherd’s Dog to a new level with full and flooding background symphonies cradling his poetic lyrics.

The album opens with “Pagan Angel And A Borrowed Car” displaying a twangy guitar sweeping into a fluid currant of organic harmony and hippie-loving melody, paired with a foot-tapping beat straight to the heart. Beam’s vocals are both as raspy and smooth as raw silk.

The entire album boasts Beam’s newfound confidence in the twisted and soft, a coherence of talent best found on “Lovesong Of A Buzzard”, pairing sleepy singing to upbeat and spirited Caribbean drums. Standing out is the line, “...a tattoo of a flower on a broken wrist.”

The track “Carousel” starts off as a digitally warped lullaby, but quickly transcends into a old southern back water hymn.

The album finishes with “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”, an achingly heartfelt tune sung with a pure, unadulterated innocence.

Beam has found his new chapter in song writing, and it seems to be sunshine folk mixed with just the right amount of introspection.

Busywork, Detroit Bar, August 29, 2007

Categories: live review

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The Pity Party (photo by ionnehendrix)

The Pity Party are in mid-set as I arrive at Detroit Bar, projecting an LA-hipster refraction of the White Stripes—on first impression. But female drummer/vocalist/keyboardist Heisenflei and guitarist/vocalist Maurice-Robert quickly quash that knee-jerk reaction with an approach to rock that's far less trad than Jack and Meg's. The Pity Party's rhythms are fairly primitive (and totally righteous), but the guitar is art-damaged in a way that reminds me of early-'80s Scottish post-punk depressives and Beefheart aficionados Josef K and Fire Engines, respectively, tempered with the brittle, caustic slash of NY No Wave. When they're not on the aggressive tip, the Pity Party can slow down and bliss out while still emitting a cantankerous guitar tone (M-R has eight fx units and a Fender ax, which is a recipe for extraordinary sound).

Multi-tasking demon Heisenflei drums with her right arm and both legs while her left hand plays keyboards—and she sings, too, often all at once. Tonight she's wearing green short shorts, which complement her athleticism and red hair. M-R's dark, forward-sweeping hair looks emo, but he's working in much deeper, weirder territory than those whiny-mall-boy hordes. The Pity Party currently are unsigned, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are entertaining offers from several high-profile indies, even as I type.

Long Beach's On Blast purvey suavely heart-wrenching dance rock with computerized beats. They have the moody Anglophile steez down pat. This is music to swoon, whirl and shed a perfectly formed tear down your chiseled cheekbone to. Hell, one song—“Bad Girl”—even heists (okay, alludes to) the funkily herky-jerky rhythm from David Bowie's “Fashion.” I foresee promising developments for On Blast (NME's already on board)—and many groupies in front man Josh Brown's future.

Between and after these bands, Dan Sena's Busywork DJs GMO and Damager got busy working the Serato with mostly killer new tracks hotting up the hipster dance circuit: Green Velvet's “Shake & Pop,” Mylo's “Drop the Pressure,” Justice's “D.A.N.C.E.” and a roughed-up remix of Depeche Mode's “Just Can't Get Enough.” Skeet Skeet closed things with anthem after banger after anthem, etc., nearly filling the dance floor late on a Wednesday night. Impressive, even if he did play that played-out Outfield hit “I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight,” which never had my love to lose (although I secretly like this catchy-as-herpes song, against all sense of critical decorum; shhhh, don't tell anybody).

I Grew Up in Huntington

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAll the great cities in America have great songs to go along with them; classic personifications that truly capture the city’s personality. New York City has "New York, New York" by Sinatra of course, Tony Bennett, with his brand of eternal class offered up "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." There’s Randy Newman’s, "I Love LA," which must have been written either ironically or at whatever time of day that there’s no traffic. Hell, even San Jose was honored by singer and Psychic Friend, Dionne Warwick, though whether or not San Jose is a great American city is debatable.

There’s another great American city with a great song, and it’s right here in the OC. Huntington Beach finally has the tune it deserves: "Huntington Beach," by white rap duo, Hot & Spicy. The hook? "I grew up in Huntington. Fuck you bitch."

If there ever was an anthem for the HB alpha male, this is it. If you’re not familiar, cruise Main Street on Friday Night.

This track dropped a while back so it’s nothing new, but as a classic it really is timeless. My favorite line: “I arm wrestle, skinny bitches, and I win, cause I’m strong muscles.” Wow.

Listen here.

Sol-T Makes URB's Next 1000 List

Categories: music news

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LA-based mag URB has included Orange County MC/producer Sol-T in its notorious Next 1000 feature. Sol puts a fresh, funny and raunchy spin on old-school hip-hop, both on the mic and the MPC2000. You can read the blurb (as well as the recent OC Weekly feature on him) on his MySpace page.

Sol-T plays at Fullerton's Continental Room Sept. 11.

Matt Costa at Detroit, 8/26

Categories: live review

And now for the something-like-43rd time Matt Costa's been mentioned in the Weekly: What's there left to say?

On Sunday night, the Detroit Bar was packed.

And it wasn't really for their usual Karaoke Sundays, or even for any announced show at all.

The Huntington Beach resident with the curiously large following played a secret show partially in preparation for a few dates he'll be opening up for Modest Mouse in Portland and beyond. Costa and band (including new member Jacob Sahagen—of Madman Moon—on the keyboards) have been feverishly practicing a brand new set to showcase at these dates and beyond. The set list half consisted of re-worked and revamped (think the lap steel, mandolin and banjo) favorite tracks from his first full-length, Songs We Sing (2005), and half from the forthcoming Unfamiliar Faces.

And the new stuff? It's different.

For the longtime fans: Don't worry. That same sincere Matt is there, with his bounty of fuzzy tunes that leaves you feeling all warm and gooey inside; the cheerful and the thoughtful, all over words and melodies that are as Donovan and the Band as they are uh, now.

For the newcomers: Just come and watch. You'll find what I saw on Sunday night—an engaged crowd, even the ones who were there just enjoying a drink on a Sunday night, cooing at his every note/word/forgotten note/forgotten word and a band that's as solid and clicky as it is credible.

Matt Costa plays San Diego Street Scene at the Coors Amphitheater 9/22. For more info see or

Photos: Slayer/Manson in Irvine

Categories: Slide Shows


That drunken battle cry, which sounded at around 7:30 p.m. Friday, should have been warning enough. But we silly photographers stood in the aisles of the outdoor Verizon Ampitheater tinkering with our cameras without a care in the world.

Then the lights went out and the ruckus onstage turned the audience into a barbaric mass. Two large, white skinheads walked up to the bouncers at the foot of the left aisle and tried to talk their way into the pit. But the boys in yellow weren't moving.

Far from deterred, they rallied their similarly burly pals. "There's only two of them!" yelled one guy, referring to the bouncers. "Let's go!" And at least a dozen people rushed forward, all elbows and fists, knocking us to the side in their rush to be closer to their metal gods.

I've got thigh bruises and photos to mark the occasion. Click the photo to see Slayer...and the group's rabid fanbase.

Also in photos: Marilyn Manson

My Bloody Valentine Rumored to Be Playing Coachella 2008

Categories: music news

All rumors and reports regarding My Bloody Valentine should be viewed with skepticism, but this one has the air of legitimacy about it. According to The Daily Swarm, MBV's original lineup is reuniting and hoping to tour again in 2008. Coachella reputedly has offered the UK group a 7-figure fee to play the Indio, California festival, which is happening April 25-27 next year.

MBV effectively have been on hiatus since 1991. The band's last two albums—Isn't Anything (1988) and Loveless (1991)—revolutionized rock music through their unprecedented guitar sounds and fusion of shattering noise, blissful ambience and gorgeous melodies. MBV went on to influence hundreds of bands, most of them not fit to carry mastermind Kevin Shields' plectrums (plectra?).

Below, check out the videos to “Only Shallow” and "Soon," MBV's disorienting, sensual alterna-hits from 16 years ago, and realize how feeble most rock bands today still sound in comparison.

Abstract Workshop, Detroit Bar, August 25, 2007

Categories: live review

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DJ House Shoes and Brian Gillespie at Detroit Bar. Photo by DJ Edouble

First thing I heard as I approached Detroit Bar was Seals & Crofts’ 1973 hit “Diamond Girl.” At Abstract Workshop, one of OC’s preeminent hip-hop nights? I didn’t think baby-boomer nostalgia was part of its equation, but when I actually slipped inside the venue, I could hear some wicked J Dilla beats splattering over the Lite FM chestnut. Dude responsible for the killer juxtaposition was DJ House Shoes, a Detroiter now based in LA. Despite letting two—two!—tracks run out into dead air (well, at least he was playing vinyl), House Shoes moved the somewhat thin crowd with seasoned skill. Later he dropped Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and it was the dopeness. Kudos to any DJ, hip-hop or otherwise, who flips the bird to conventional wisdom and works the unexpected into sets.

House Shoes was wearing an XXL T-shirt with Dilla’s likeness on it and much of his set consisted of that late legendary beatmaker’s handiwork. I didn't notice anyone complaining about House Shoes’ Dilla-heavy set; if you have a problem with Dilla, you have a problem with hip-hop.

Blu & Exile followed, bringing some West Coast backpacker bounce to proceedings. Exile scratched with authority and Blu rapped with authority, recalling Golden Age greats like the Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief, but they played too long. Also, Blu and his MC sidekick, Ta’raach, spent way too much time coaxing the crowd to “make some motherfuckin’ noise,” which is my biggest beef with hip-hop shows.

I understand how performers like to feed off crowd energy, but I think the truly gifted artists don’t need to cajole/badger/beg audiences to generate noise. If you have the skills, people naturally will acknowledge them with appreciative sounds. Bag the tedious pleading and start killing it on the mic and decks. That’s how you earn respect. (Anybody feelin’ me on this? I realize I’m shouting into the void here and hip-hop artists will continue with this tiresome practice until kingdom come, but it feels good to vent.)

Due to Blu & Exile’s stage-hogging, Detroit’s Brian Gillespie (aka DJ Starski) went on at 1:20 a.m. to a paltry crowd of about 30. I felt bad for the veteran DJ/label owner, but he wasted no time getting down to business, bringing a slew of hot, high-NRG funk, soul and Motor City hip-hop. The remaining troopers busted moves with amazing vigor to tracks like Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce” (funkiest song of the ’80s), Ronnie Hudson’s “West Coast Poplock,” Indeep’s “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life,” Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face” and a boogaloo piece that sampled James Brown’s “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose.” It’s a pity Gillespie only had 30 minutes to spin, but he definitely made the most of his half hour. I hope he returns to OC and gets another chance to dig deeper into his crates.

(Photos to come as soon as MySpace gets fixed.)

Souled Out, Now with Many More People

Categories: DJ culture

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So I strolled into Memphis Café last night to check out Souled Out, curious to see if this week's Sprawl of Sound column had any effect on the turnout. What I found boosted my spirits—and those of DJ TSC1 (Sean Harris), the long-time host of this stellar night. Compared to the last few visits here, during which a glum ennui enveloped the space, Memphis was humming with activity, conversation and, of course, excellent specimens of soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop and disco from Harris' bag of delights. Several folks even started dancing and engaging in PDA. Body heat was palpable. The weekend was starting on Thursday, apparently. One could even forgive Harris for making a few concessions to the party people by playing the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" and Musical Youth's “Pass the Dutchie” (okay, that last one was kinda pushing it...).

Now it may be presumptuous to think that Sprawl of Sound could instigate such a startling turnaround in attendance, but I would like to believe that the article had some impact in luring the crowd there. One thing I do know: it spurred notorious recluse and previous SOS subject John Basil to make the scene. Whoa. I may have just reached my peak of influence as a music journalist; you'd best believe I'm gonna savor it.