Video Savant: Le Orme's “Ad Gloriam”

Categories: Video Savant

Ever since I first heard Le Orme's “Ad Gloriam” in a set last September at The Prospector by DJ Frederick Phases, I've been enchanted with the song. Imagine if the Beatles ca. 1967 had grown up in Roma rather than Liverpool and had those extra-hot Italian women to inspire them to unparalleled heights of blissful psych pop—or maybe Os Mutantes if they were less spazzy and disjointed. That would be “Ad Gloriam.”

The accompanying video appears to be a montage from '60s-era films by Federico Fellini and/or Michelangelo Antonioni. Whatever the case, it offers enticing—if sometimes incongruous—eye candy for Le Orme's soaring, gossamer psychedelia. “Ad Gloriam” blossomed into existence in 1969. Held aloft by angelic vocals (Italian rockers can sing like motherfuckers), chiming organ, funky tambourine hits, and a serpentine guitar solo that triggers kaleidoscopic paisley shapes in your mind's eye, this tune surely was a hit somewhere, even though it barely made a blip on the Anglo-American consciousness. Such is the, uh, gloriousness of the tune (albeit tinged with a subtle wistfulness), though, that it ought to be made the national anthem of Utopia. I say that as a skeptic who doubts such a place can exist, but “Ad Gloriam” at least offers a glimmer of hope.

This is the final edition of Video Savant; my last day at OC Weekly is Aug. 1. It's been fun and then some. I want to thank all of my readers and whoever contributes footage—especially footage of obscure, amazing musicians—to YouTube. If you want to follow my scribblings in the future, find me on MySpace under “editaurus,” and I will keep you abreast of my textual adventures.



Last Night: International Pop Overthrow @ Fitzgerald’s

International Pop Overthrow Festival at Fitzgerald’s on July 26

Better Than: Bingo night at the old folks home

It’s hard to imagine that in a constant media barrage of the Avril Levines, Jonas Bothers, and Simple Plan’s of the world, the pop rock genre has anything to offer besides an endless supply of fresh faced, power chord pumping puppets long on looks and short on talent. That is, until you take pop out of the bright lights of the arena and into the dark, cramped quarters of the local bar scene where the real soldiers of pop rock get their thrills.

Last night, the International Pop Overthrow Festival rolled into Huntington Beach to show local bar flies and live music fans a more “mature” side of pop embraced by a handful of the county’s most dedicated bands. During the second show that kicked off around 7:30 p.m. at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub, seven acts performed until almost midnight.

Now in it’s 11th year, IPO has become a staple at Fitzgerald’s and internationally as well in places like Liverpool, London and Vancouver, Canada.

Honestly, being an outsider to the local “pop rock” scene around here, I hadn’t experienced the IPO until creaking open the pub door to find a swarm of people shooting pool, chomping on bar food and wiping away frothy beer mustaches. It had all the hallmarks of a standard bar gig. Not quite the glossy teenybopper vibe I pictured.

PhotobucketEmerging on stage in front of a full house of family, friends and fans, singer/songwriter Philip Vandermost kicked things off with songs from his new album Automatic August. Apparently, his IPO set also doubled as his album release party. Strumming through song after song, his laid back stage presence and mild mannered, sunny delivery was a bit vanilla at times. But you gotta give the guy credit for attempting some infectiously polished hooks on songs like “Since Mountains Have Risen” and “Drifting.” He and his three piece band definitely seemed like an early favorite.

From then on, things rolled pretty smoothly as audiences rotated in and out throughout the night. However, there was a steady stream of diehards fastening themselves to the bar as the festival bounced from band to band.

Some acts like Canadian born Dave Stephens went for the more early 90’s pop of bands like Weezer and Everclear. Though starting out with a little spark of energy, they picked an awkward time to slow things down with aimless, melancholy songs like “Days go by,” as the crowd seemed to be thinning out, tuning out and taking smoke breaks. When they did decide to rock again, their earnest, paper-thin sound seemed to fit like wallpaper on your average local bar…the kind of sound that kicks ass after a few too many beers.

PhotobucketMoving things ahead were a slew of 30 and 40-something rockers called The Relatives who tried their hardest to give this gig as much balls-to-the-wall enthusiasm as they could muster. The Relatives were about as punk rock as it got that night, if you could look past the collard shirts and strategically gelled up hair.

As the night heated up in the bar, the number of bands dwindled down to two as 90’s rockers, The Tickets, took the stage. Of all the bands that night, I would have to say that they had the most going on for them even if it was 10 years ago since their prime. I was glad to see that the songs, while occasionally sappy, had plenty of danceable energy and good vocals throughout. Nostalgia seemed to creep over the set when they played some of their older stuff like “Lost in Love” from a period “when we had long hair” according to the band. Now joining the come over club, it was cool to see that The Tickets still had infectious energy and genuine happiness from beginning to end.

Rounding out the night was Garden Grove band, Scarlet Crush, who received a warm welcome from a crowd that had finally peppered in a few more young drinkers. Like the Tickets before them, these guys had an arsenal of radio ready sentimental rock that had just enough edge to appeal to younger crowds. Even though I’m normally the kind of guy that takes pride in staying until a concert’s bitter end, I'd had all the pop I could stomach before the end of their last song. As I walked to the parking lot, the crowd roared as the whole event finally came to the end. Looks like the pop fest went out with a bang.

Critics Notebook

Personal Bias: Beer makes any music sound better

Random Detail: The lead singer of The Tickets played the whole set with his shoes off

By the Way: Look for the IPO again when it comes to the O.C. Fair on Aug. 3

Last Night: Yaz, Psychedelic Furs @ Pacific Amphitheater

Yaz, Psychedelic Furs at Pacific Amphitheater on July 24, 2008

Better Than: trying to find that 1980's cassette mix tape in your garage.

Download: Nobody's Diary (Origin of Essex Remix) from the Official Yaz Homepage

"You have been brilliant, we have been Yaz.". Alison Moyet (Vocals) couldn't have said it any better as Yaz closed out their brief tour of the U.S. at the Pacific Amphitheater.

The Psychedelic Furs rolled out their impressive collection of hits to warm up the enthusiastic crowd. Richard Butler's (Vocals) distinctive ash strewn voice melds perfectly with their yearning songs. Mars Williams's (Saxophone) jugular vein nearly exploded as he tore into the saxophone drenched intro of "Heartbeat". I had to pick myself off the ground when they dusted off "Am I Wrong" which was from Richard's former band Love Spit Love. Richard went into his trademark 360-degree twirls for a sparkling rendition of "Ghost In You". Beach balls were making the rounds in the orchestra area as "Love My Way" ejected all of the audience from their seats. "Pretty In Pink" turned into an informal meet and greet as overzealous fans rushed to the stage to have their picture taken with Richard Butler. It was one heck of an opening set as the bar was raised high.

Contrary to what you might think, Vince Clarke (Keyboards) is not checking his email behind his Apple laptop. Vince was busy triggering classic samples and arpeggios that made him one of the forefathers of electronic music. Vince's programming with Alison Moyet's (Vocals) sultry and soulful vocals combined to form the super duo of Yaz. The ping-pong synthesizer lines of "Nobody's Diary" immediately transported everyone back to 1983 as Alison couldn't stop smiling from the huge ovation from the crowd. "Good Times" lived up to its namesake as I was surrounded by a pack of rabid Yaz fans dancing all around me. Sugar coated synthesizers propelled the "Sweet Thing" into overdrive as Vince added some robotic vocoder vocals. Alison was correct when she warned the crowd they would be dancing till the close of the show as they tackled "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I) and a feverishly audience clapping version of "Don't Go". An encore of "Only You" and "Situation" prompted Alison to come to the front of the stage and sing the songs much to the delight of the adoring fans. Alison and Vince exchanged a warm embrace and bowed as they received a thunderous ovation from the crowd. I beg to differ, Yaz was brilliant.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: As a collector of synthesizers, How could I not like Yaz?

Random Detail: "Only You" by Yaz was on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack.

By The Way: Yaz recently released a four disc box set entitled "In Your Room" with remastered tracks and 5.1 surround mixes. A must own for any Yaz fan.

Last Night: The Stray Cats @ Pacific Amphitheater

The Stray Cats at the Pacific Amphitheater on July 22, 2008

Better Than: any other rockabilly band on the planet.

Download: "Stray Cat Strut" from the Stray Cats Myspace page [http://www.myspace.com/straycats]

Grease and Greasers were in abundance at the OC fair as the mighty Stray Cats played their only American date this year at the Pacific Amphitheatre. Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker thoroughly rocked the town of Costa Mesa with their timeless tunes.

Hot Rod Lincoln from San Diego quickly let you know that you were at a rockabilly concert with their twangy upstart old-fashioned tunes. Buzz Campbell (Vocals/Guitars) had his shiny white Gretsch guitar revved up and ready to go as they played a crowd pleasing set.

Joe Ely shifted the mood to a more country honky tonk vibe with his whiskey soaked tunes. Joe wins over the audience with his energetic performance that reminded me of Johnny Cash. I was even more impressed when I learned he used to hang out with the Clash in the late seventies.

"Rumble In Brixton" roared like a '67 Chevy as the Stray Cats came out of their corner with their claws swinging. Brian Setzer (Vocals/Guitars) had his custom namesake orange Gretsch guitar singing like a stool pigeon. The Stray Cats are not a one man show as Lee Rocker is a world class upright bass player along with the dexterous drumming of Slim Jim Phantom.

"Runaway Boys" was a rollicking good time as I noticed that the backing vocals from Slim Jim and Lee gave the song some extra punch. "(She's) Sexy and 17" was prefaced by Brian stating that they used to be on MTV when they showed videos which garnered a number of laughs. A good majority of the hits were covered as they flawlessly played "Gene and Eddie", "Crybaby", "Double Talkin' Baby" and "Fishnet Stockings"

Psychobilly is apparently a term Brian doesn't use as he introduced "Blast Off" as a true rockabilly tune. "Rock This Town" had the whole amphitheatre on their feet as everyone in attendance was singing along. Although the song was plagued with some technical difficulties, "I Fought The Law" was close to stealing the show as Mike Ness from Social Distortion came out to lend the Stray Cats a helping hand. "Summertime Blues" was a fitting way to end their set as the Stray Cats received a standing ovation. Costa Mesa had officially been rocked by the Stray Cats.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: My guitar tablature book of Brian Setzer tunes is collecting dust because it is close to impossible to replicate the speed of Brian's fleet fingers.

Random Detail: Brian's leopard skin painted Gretsch guitar got the biggest reaction of the night.

By The Way: It saddens me to report that the Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza is not going to happen this year.

Last Night: Ray Davies, Everest @ The Grove

Ray Davies, Everest @ The Grove of Anaheim on July 22

Last night, perched in front of a seated wall to wall crowd bathed in stage lights at The
Grove in Anaheim, singer songwriter and former Kink, Ray Davies, gave us a healthy taste of Brit Pop nostalgia, acoustic style. But not before offering several slices from his latest works of starch pressed, story-teller folk. The show kicked off as darkness blanketed the venue around 8p.m.

Sent in to warm up the restless crowd, L.A. acoustic trio Everest channeled the haunting side of Ryan Adams and groovy pop of Alexi Murdoch to satisfy those who weren’t busy swirling cups of pricey beer around crowded bar tables outside waiting to hear “You Really Got Me”. Vocalist Russell Pollard’s voice loomed over the crowd like a specter from song to song thanks to some splashy reverb and under stated guitar work. They ended with “Rebels in the Roses”, by far one of the most powerful slices of introspective indie sentiment that I’ve heard in at least a month or two. If you haven’t heard of this band before now, they’re full sound with bass and drums and keys on the album Ghost Notes (Vapor 2008) is definitely worth a gander.

But the action that everyone came to see was the sound of Davies throaty vocals and acoustic strumming that has earned him a career with fans young and old since The Kinks drifted into relic hood in the 90’s. After a brief wait in between acts, the concert hall darkened as the slow build of country blues music got the crowd all hot and bothered while hoots and hollers peppered the air.

Hoisting himself onto a stool next to guitarist Bill Shanley, Davies wasted little time launching into a couple Kinks classics, including straight ahead rocker “Where have all the good times gone”. The crowd took a couple songs to really warm up as more and more voices added to the swell of sing along parts that injected some enthusiasm into the overall performance.

Though the group support from the audience was there, one of the problems with having an acoustic show of that size are all the obnoxious screaming song requests that made Davies look like a human juke box. After a while he stopped entertaining the audiences blathering and went on with some tracks from his latest album “Working Man’s Café”. One of which included the song “Vietnam Cowboys” which sounded reminiscent of the chucking guitars in a high powered Hendrix tune like “Machine Gun”.

After getting an earful of mixed bag solo work, things finally started to get kinky…really kinky. We’re talking all the hits, rapid fire… everything from “Sunny Afternoon”, to “Well Respected Man”, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and let’s not forget All Day and All of the Night”. Hell, the old buzzard even stood up and rocked out for the old tunes. If I’m not mistaken, I thought I saw a little rock star jump at the end. I hope those joints feel okay tomorrow.

Besides playing a shit load of songs, Davies apparently felt like auditioning for a VH1 Story Tellers special because he had a 3 minute story for each song that made things drag a bit. I think some things should just be saved for the liner notes. But for all his blabbering, the man did churn out a couple encore songs and even stuck around to sign some merch from frenzied fans.

Critic’s Notebook

Random Detail: Davies’ stories that inspired his songs included things like, getting shot, going to the hospital, The Vietnam, girls…ya know, the usual.

Personal Bias: I hate chairs at concerts

By the Way: Anyone interested in more aging rockers can go check out Boz Scaggs on Aug. 7.


Video Savant: Bob Seger's “Heavy Music”

Categories: Video Savant

I'm about to leave on a trip for the Detroit area, where I spent my first 32 years, so allow me to indulge nostalgically in some of that city's musical lore. As deeply flawed as this Midwestern metropolis is, I still have fond memories of growing up there, and one reason was hearing the early songs of Bob Seger on the radio.

Yeah, Seger's music in the '80s turned as rancid as Kid Rock's bandana, but Bob's output in the '60s and first half of the '70s contains a monster truck's full of tough-as-beef-jerky Motor City rocknroll—and a handful of poignant slowies that could make Clint Eastwood shed a tear.

So let us now absorb the mighty power of “Heavy Music” which appeared on Smokin' O.P's in 1972. Truth in advertising or what? This is a garage-rock bomb made by dudes who believed they would live and fuck forever with wanton abandon. The rhythm is so elemental, pumping and stripped down—perfect for making cars and babies. Seger's voice is all feral soul and rampaging id, while the backing vocals haunt the periphery like a choir of satyrs. I can't even hear guitar or organ in this piece; it's all bass, drums, voices and hand claps, contoured like a potent phallus/missile for maximum cranial penetration.

“Heavy Music” is a party jam, but there's also a severe degree of danger animating it. Shake your ass, but watch your back, too, bro. And what a fadeout moment, as Seger wails, “Deeper! Deeper! Whoa! Whoa! We're goin' in now!”

I've listened to “Heavy Music” 10 times in a row now, and I feel as if I've guzzled a pitcher of unfiltered testosterone juice (but the non-douche-y kind). Still, best to keep your distance from me for a while.

Ultimately, “Heavy Music” makes me proud to be from Detroit. (But, please, dear Bob, delete forever “Like a Rock.” Thanks.)



OC Music Fest 09 Partners with Be The Shirt for Contest

Categories: contest

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What are you doing in May 2009? Not sure yet? Well, try to pencil in a few days for OC Music Fest 09, which happens in about 10 months in Irvine and promises to feature nearly 100 established and up-and-coming bands.

In the meantime, you creative types may want to enter the Be The Shirt band/artist T-shirt design contest.

For details regarding the contest and festival, read the press release after the jump.


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Folk-Raga Guitarist Peter Walker to Play UC Irvine

Categories: upcoming

Acclaimed folk-raga guitarist Peter Walker plays a rare solo gig at UC Irvine's Cross Cultural Center July 24 (5 p.m., $5). The show's another coup by Sam Farzin's Acrobatics Everyday organization.

Walker recorded two albums for Vanguard Records in the '60s. In 2006, Tompkins Square Records issued A Raga for Peter Walker, which included four new Walker originals and compositions by younger guitarists such as Thurston Moore, Jack Rose and James Blackshaw. Now the label's releasing Echo of My Soul, Walker's first full-length of new material in 40 years. The master stringsman is touring in support of the album, which reflects his intense interest in flamenco. No less a luminary than Six Organs of Admittance guitar sorcerer Ben Chasny cites Walker as being a primary influence on his style.

Check out Walker's beautiful, fluid, spiritual picking in the videos below.



Posse on Broadway Pt. 2 Happening July 18

Categories: DJ culture

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The first Posse on Broadway shindig in June was a flaming success; all three venues—Memphis Café, Proof and the Crosby—were filled to capacity at various points of the night and nobody died (although we heard reports of a couple of fights transpiring).

Anyway, this month's POB (happens every third Friday this summer) should be just as thrilling for lovers of next-level musica de fiesta. See the flier above for the lineup. I'm most excited about Stones Throw artist Dâm Funk, who's established himself as one of the country's foremost DJs of '80s funk and electro.

Action starts at 9 p.m. and is free all night, even if you aren't.

Here's Dâm Funk spinning at a Miami party.



Japanese Motors in Vice's Grip Now

Categories: music news

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In a June 27, 2007 live review on Heard Mentality, I wrote:

Japanese Motors came off as an amalgam of late-'70s NYC influences, like a West Coast Strokes, which I'm sure they're sick of hearing already. I'm guessing Japanese Motors will be signed to Kemado or Dim Mak by year's end.

I was wrong. Taste-making NYC label Vice Records just signed Japanese Motors. A Vice rep said in an email: “We're really excited to be working with them and can't wait to unleash their brand of surf-garage-pop to the masses.”

In other news, Japanese Motors will be playing the Monday night residency at Detroit Bar in September. Stay tuned for more Weekly coverage of these Costa Mesa rockers in the near future.

In the meantime, check out their raucous tune “Brand New Everything.”

Full press release about JM's signing and upcoming activities after the jump.



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