Alabama Shakes Steamroll The Greek

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Alabama Shakes performing at The Greek Theatre, in Los Angeles. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The evening started slowly at The Greek. A very small group of mostly 20 to 30 somethings huddled in front of the stage to experience opening act Blake Mills. The rest of the theater was sparsely populated while singer / guitarist Mills and his band gave an admirable performance, featuring a powerful, minimalist arrangement of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece." Roughly an hour and a half later, the entire theater had filled to its 6000-ish capacity, and the audience had begun to dance and rock in anticipation of the main act. When Alabama Shakes took the stage, any remaining beer-chugging, yahoo blowholes were swallowed up by a wave of energy that did not recede until the show ended.

Alabama Shakes's lead singer / guitarist, Brittany Howard, does not look like your run-of-the-mill rockstar; she looks more like the kind of person who bogarts the microphone at a PTA meeting, but to experience her stage performance is to be transported to another world where spiritual, blues rockers can capture your soul with their spasmodic facial contortions and the sound of their wailing. It may not sound pretty in print [or on your screen], but that's the point. The sound of Alabama Shakes transcends other modes of perception.

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NWLYWD Makes McClain's Coffeehouse Buzz with More than Caffeine

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NWLYWD performs at McClain's Coffeehouse. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
This has been a big year for Sterling and Samantha Wilson, a.k.a. NWLYWD. After recording their first album, the husband and wife duo hit the road to play their tunes and promote themselves. On June 21, during Fullerton's Day of Music festival, they performed one set at Share & Do Good and another at the Plummer Auditorium. Since then, the Wilsons have been making their way up and down the West Coast, and on Friday they returned to Fullerton to perform a delightful two hour set at McClain's Coffeehouse.

To hear the sound of NWLYWD [that's Newlywed with no E's, pilgrim] performing from around a corner, one would imagine a band consisting of more than two performers. However, the versatile musicians create their full sound by playing multiple instruments at the same time. Sterling keeps the beat through electronic drum pedals, strums rhythm guitar, and sings; and while Samantha principally plays keys and sings, she also picks up a guitar for a number or two. Before each song, she dials up her midi keyboard presets on an Apple notebook, and the two are able to recreate the exact sound of their first CD, Tidepooling. For their album, they essentially used the same instrumentation; yet, the high quality of their relatively DIY production value belies the fact that it was literally recorded in their closet.

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The Aquabats! Super Show! Marathon Screening at the Frida Cinema

Categories: Artists We Love

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Who can resist back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes of The Aquabats! Super Show! on the big screen?

Frida Cinema is hosting a screening event on Saturday, June 27, with the Aquabats presenting all 13 episodes of The Aquabats! Super Show! playing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And sure, you can already binge watch the live-action kid's show (that's fun for grownups too) on Amazon Prime or Hulu, but watching it with M.C. Bat Commander, EagleBones FalconHawk, Jimmy the Robot, Crash McLarson, and Ricky Fitness sitting in the audience with you? With games and raffle prizes and live music from the goofy superheroes and their villains? At a small theater in downtown Santa Ana? Whoa.

The impetus for the event, said creator Christian Jacobs, was to start a tradition where "We could connect with everybody and keep the flame alive for the show."

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Atreyu's Alex Varkatzas is OC's Rockstar Tattoo Apprentice

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Josh Chesler
Rich Pineda (left) switched from music to tattooing years ago. Varkatzas (right), isn't hanging up the mic just yet, but he's beginning his inking career.
According to Detective Rust Cohle (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey) of HBO's True Detective, "life is barely long enough to get good at one thing."

Ektor Alex Varkatzas, best known as the lead vocalist of Atreyu, is doing his best to prove that idiom incorrect.


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See Neil Young's Cinematic Side at Shakey Fest

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Promotional Image of Neil Young
Neil Young completists, rock historians, and fans of underground cinema, gather ye round! Something rare and off-kilter is going down, and you're not going to want to miss it. For fifty years, Neil Young has been writing, recording, and performing in numerous genres of music, both as a solo act as well as with various groups; however, while most people can recognize some of his tunes; such as "Cinnamon Girl," "Heart of Gold," and "Ohio;" few are the individuals who are versed in his film catalog. This weekend, the Cinefamily, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art and community of cinema, will be showcasing a series of films by and about Neil Young.

The series, called Shakey Fest, is named after Bernard Shakey, Young's filmmaking pseudonym, and it features a newly restored director's cut of Human Highway. The new cut of Highway, a post-apocalyptic musical comedy that was shot in 1982 and co-directed with Dean Stockwell, recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Once Hadrian Belove, the Executive Director and one of the co-founders of Cinefamily, became aware of the restoration, he contacted the film's distributor in the hope of featuring it in a film festival devoted to Shakey's works.


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Avi Zahner's Reasons For Starting Over Solo With Avi Buffalo

Categories: Artists We Love

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Brittny Moore
At the beginning of 2015, Avi Zahner-Isenberg had enough. The 24-year-old Long Beach-native had already experienced a degree of success in his music career when he signed a two-album deal with Seattle's Sub Pop back in 2010. But something wasn't right for Avi Buffalo. Despite the fleeting success, he reached his breaking point. When he announced over Facebook this past January that he was disbanding the band aspect of his project, he felt free.

"I realized gradually that my management thought of my creative abilities only in their own personal definitions of it, began trying to add many restrictions to what I felt like doing," he explains over the phone. "They convinced me they were leading me down the road to creative freedom, but in a very manipulative way. I should not have put as much trust in someone else. Everything I did in the last year and my album was compromised by their involvement."

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Kali Uchis is the Internet's New DIY "It" Girl

Categories: Artists We Love

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By: Herbert Duran

Kali Uchis paints herself a little bit like Barbie's estranged cousin. With long platinum blond hair, porcelain skin, lip liner and big curled eyelashes, she's almost a dead ringer for the Colombian version of the Mattel princess. Like Barbie, Uchis holds many titles: singer, songwriter, visionary director, and designer. But even with her career split into so many different directions, when she says she knows what she wants, you can't do anything but believe her.

Uchis' image is due to a blending of Colombian mysticism and East LA Sad Girl, with a sprinkle of LA Billboard queen, Angelyne. Her careful curation of imagery bleeds through her music as well. Her voice is subtle, mellow like Sade or Astrid Gilberto but she can interchangeably spit out a verse with confidence. When she sings, there is a glaze of gloom that coats her voice, capturing the soulful sound of Motown inspired singer, the late Amy Winehouse. Uchis also purrs in Spanish, adding to her already image-heavy nod to late Tejano singer Selena. The amalgamation of these nostalgic visuals and sounds, allows for her to easily translate onto image-obsessed mediums such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.

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Daedelus Goes Deeper With New Music

Categories: Artists We Love

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Chris Clinton
As with the thousands of musicians who flock to Austin to be heard during South By Southwest, LA-based producer Daedelus (born Alfred Darlington) had no grand ideas about being discovered. The electronic-music veteran was in town to play a couple of sets at parties for JuiceLand and PayPal. Despite the long night and being a bit under the weather, the producer is up and ready to go for his second and last day of activity. As he's explaining the previous night's events, he abruptly hangs up in order to chase after the owner of his Airbnb's dog who scampered out the door.

Returning calm despite the disaster in the making, the 37-year-old chuckles describing the incident, and then resumes his story about the abridged 20-minute set that featured technical difficulties and "felt like two hours." Sound issues aside, you'd be hard-pressed to call haphazard anything he's done during his 15-year career that has seen him release a slew of albums, EPs and remixes.


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Video Premiere: Indian-American Singer Zoya's Fusion Folk Was Born in Newport Beach

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Zoya Mohan can't wait to bask in the Californian sun ahead of her West Coast tour starting this week. With snow pounding Boston, the Newport Beach native is eager to return home. But the inviting weather isn't the sole reason for excitement. Mohan, a 21-year-old Berklee College of Music graduate, is ready to bring with her a renewed musical purpose. With a dash of Bollywood accentuating her vocals, the singer enticingly offers two worlds within one voice.

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The Five Best Rocket from the Crypt Songs

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Greg Jacobs
You know that old saying parents love to use about how impossible it is to pick their favorite child? Well, I don't have kids, but I bet choosing little Marisa over that brat Johnny is much easier than having to choose the five best Rocket from the Crypt songs. Don't believe me? Consider these three facts:

1. Most kids suck, so if one is good it's gotta be pretty easy to figure out your favorite.

2. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia.com, the San Diego sextet has released seven full-length albums, a live record, three compilations, two EPs and more than 20 7-inches. Them's a lot of songs.

3. Rocket from the Crypt is the greatest band in the world. Similarly, Rocket from the Crypt has been, since its inception in 1990, the greatest band in the world, was the greatest band in the world even when they took a hiatus from 2005-2013 (and when they took a hiatus from their hiatus for 2011's appearance of the children's television program Yo Gabba Gabba!) and will continue to be the greatest band in the world until the day all humans die and robot cockroaches take over.

So picking the five best songs ain't easy. Also not easy is seeing Rocket from the Crypt this weekend as San Diego's finest are playing two sold-out shows as part of Alex's Bar's 15-year anniversary. And even harder is the fact that the band was supposed to play Sunday at the Observatory as part of the Indigo Fest, but that has been canceled.

Here, then, are the five best Rocket from the Crypt songs to get you through if you can't see them this weekend. And, in full disclosure, I love this band so much this list could be
completely different if I wrote it tomorrow.


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