Friday, July 29, 2011

New Song: "Get To France" by Mogwai

Mogwai and I go way, way back. I've seen them a few times and am always riveted by the live presentation of their gorgeous songs. For my review of their 2008 album, The Hawk is Howling, I said that they "create a beautiful sense of gloom. Post-rock, space rock, instrumental metal, or whatever you want to label them, this Scottish five-piece delivers lengthy, guitar-ridden songs that effortlessly veer between delicate and downright combative." 

I also reviewed one of their shows at Terminal 5 (which, unfortunately, I could hardly see) and said that, "Mogwai, and other largely instrumental post-rock bands of a similar nature, absolutely have to be witnessed live. Drenched in foggy blue light, the music that emerges from fingers, strings, buttons, keys, drums, effects pedals, and speakers overwhelms the senses, rendering the onlooker delightfully deafened…at least temporarily. Though Mogwai is capable of translating their omnipresent sound to recordable tape, hearing the music on your headphones simply isn’t the same as witnessing them in full rock action. And they certainly are pros." Oh how I love quoting myself!

Needless to say, I am delighted that the band is putting out new material --- a four-track EP called Earth Division will be released on September 13, via Sub Pop. The first track on said EP, "Get to France," is delicate, almost childlike, reminding me slightly of "Auto Rock" from Mr. Beast, but with less (actually no) climactic build-up, which Mogwai does oh-so-well. The piano is somewhere between "Nannou"-style Aphex Twin and Amelie Yann Tiersen --- cutesy but somber, with a hint of ghostly echoes in the background.  It's that ghostliness which makes this a Mogwai track; a sinister something lurks within the simple melody...we just don't know where. I love when bands really strip it down and go almost neo-classical, and this song proves that Mogwai, while absolutely epic at rocking out and using guitar pedals a plenty, can also write and record bare-bone songs that, quite literally, strike a chord. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stop and Search

One word: Banksy. Need I say more? Here's a new discovery:

"Ma'am, I'm gonna need to search that basket. And your little dog too."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mix Tape: Glow.

The following mix is my first stab at using, which is pretty fucking sweet! --- "Handcrafted internet radio, it offers a simple way for people to share and discover music through an online mix, a short playlist containing at least 8 tracks." So yes --- 8 tracks, no more than 2 of the same artist, then name it, provide a photo, and anyone can listen. In case you don't know, I am already a mix-making-machine, so this site really suits me! Though I have to say, there is something better about using Scotch tape, scissors, and a typewriter (my tools for ultimate mix-tape customization). Alas, 8tracks is DIY on a new technological playing field. For my first 8tracks mixy-mix, I chose some rather recent tracks I love --- tracks that glide through your bones and breeze through your emotions (ha!). Enjoy the non-silence. 

"Skyscraper" -- Julian Plenti / "Pa Pa Power" -- Dead Man's Bones / "After Glow" -- Foals / 
"Wilderness" -- Active Child / "Walk With Me" -- Moby / "Falling Man" -- Blonde Redhead / 
"Warning Sign" -- Local Natives / "Little Big Ones" -- Grandchildren

(ps, i took that picture of the jellyfish!)
lv, ameee. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Music Video: "Wandering Mind" by 100 Monkeys

Speaking of 100 Monkeys, they have a new music video for a new track on their new album. The track is "Wandering Mind," the album is Liquid Zoo, and the video is directed by William Schmidt. Short, sweet, and simple in its delivery, the song is instantly catchy, evoking an old school rock n' roll charm (early Who, for example) and merging it with a more modern sensibility (especially when it dips into some deeper vocals). The video perfectly captures the song's spirit as well as lyrics, and Ben Johnson's vocals have never been better. My only small qualm is the recording --- in my opinion, it needs just a few more layers, a more raucous backdrop, though the bongos shine through nicely. Mine is a wandering mind...for real. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Girlfriend, the movie.

Earlier this week, I went to the Quad Cinema to catch the NYC premiere of GirlfriendMy initial interest in the film was spawned by friends who helped bring it to life --- members of the band 100 Monkeys produced, starred in, and scored Girlfriend, which also featured a song (for a mere few seconds) by my/our deceased friend, Spencer Bell. But friends involved in the project aside, the movie struck my interest on its own terms, as it's about a guy named Evan (in both life and the film), with Down Syndrome, attempting to romantically pursue a girl he loves, or thinks he loves.

As I had hoped, the film is more complex than a cliche boy-with-disability-shoots-for-love-or-greatness narrative. The characters in writer/director Justin Lerner's film are deeply flawed --- from the object of Evan's affection, Candy, to Evan himself, along with his drug addicted mother and the men in Candy's life. In fact, the only innocent character is Candy's young son, Simon. One particularly poignant moment occurs just before Candy's two "lovers" (played by Jackson Rathbone and Jerad Anderson) end up in a fast-motion fight --- Candy runs into Evan, who was dragged to the party by two "friends," and Evan looks her dead in the eye and asks, "Who's watching Simon?" 

Evan graduated high school with Candy some years ago, and he has always "loved" her. When she asks him why he likes her, he replies, "Because you're always nice to me, you were the prettiest girl in our graduating class, and I always thought we'd make a good girlfriend and boyfriend." Evan, who has never even been kissed, is very aware of the limitations set forth by his Down Syndrome (at one point, he even says, "Sometimes I wish I could escape my body"), but that doesn't stop him from hoping for true love and continually attempting to sweep Candy off her feet. While the film leans toward comedic, albeit a bit despondent, at first, it soon becomes dark when Evan's mother, the only constant figure in his life, passes away. Now on his own, Evan must take care of himself for the first time, while also trying to help Candy through her financial and emotional problems.

When Candy gets evicted from her house and moves in with Evan, who has been gifting her with money from his mother's will, she goes along with his notion that she is his "girlfriend," placating him so he won't feel hurt. The scenes between Candy (who uses sex, or the hint of sex, as a form of power, as well as payment) and Evan vacillate between quirky, oddly romantic, and downright uncomfortable. Candy can't come completely clean with Evan about her intentions, and Evan has no idea how to properly handle his feelings. To make matters worse, Candy's ex/Simon's dad, bad boy Russ, is still very much in the picture. He manipulates Evan to get information about Candy's love life and maintains a sexual yet abusive relationship with her, which directly affects Evan. 

The nice thing about Girlfriend is its level of realism. There is no one message to take away from this tale of betrayal. It's just a big ol' mess of emotions and white lies that blurs the line between the right thing and the wrong thing. Is it right for Evan to impose himself on Candy and ask for sex, since she's his "girlfriend?" Is it right for Candy to take Evan's money? Is it right for Russ to go behind Candy's back? These are young-ish people trying to hold onto their broken pride and hopes for the future while making lots of (sometimes grave) mistakes along the way. . .in other words, this is no cutesy love story. 

The ironic thing about all this, however, is that in the Quad Cinema's Q&A session following the screening, Justin Lerner made it seem that Girlfriend was a film about "the nature of love," and that Evan was absolutely pure in his love for Candy. To me, this was an extreme over-simplification and didn't do his own film justice. I can understand his possible concerns about portraying a character with Down Syndrome in a less than positive light, but the fact is that Evan's love for Candy was not some sweet, harmless thing. Evan wanted to lose his virginity, and Candy was the object of such longing.

Films about disabled characters (like I Am Sam, for example) tend to portray said characters as the epitome of everything good and innocent. But, Evan is a man, not a child, and it's refreshing to see him make poor choices too. In this way, Girlfriend reminded me more of a Todd Solondz film...his films, although usually disturbing, are much more thought-provoking than the likes of I Am Sam. Then there's Crispin Glover's arty film, It Is Fine! Everything is Fine!, which was written by a man with cerebral palsy who chose to play a serial killer...with cerebral palsy. 

Within the Q&A session, Lerner chose not to fully comment on his choice of the ending, which speaks to his obvious sensitivity to both his character Evan and perhaps his real-life friend Evan. But his ending (much like Solondz's Palindromes) is one that leaves room for further questioning, and not just his directorial decisions, but also the intentions and actions of the characters. Candy and Evan will not live happily ever after, no, but they're both in a better place than they started. Or, at least, in some ways they are. Once again, the beauty of this film is its many layers and meanings...while in some ways they are happier, in other ways we just don't know.

May I just add, too, that the acting in this film was incredible, especially on the parts of Evan Sneider and Shannon Woodward. Truly incredible. It is also beautifully shot, smoothly paced , and very rich in nature.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Silent Barn Needs Help!

Save this, save that, I know I know --- who has money to contribute to starving kids let alone an indie arts venue (or a drunk driving service, ahem)? But let me just say that Silent Barn needs and deserves your help.

Unfortunately, and much to my own personal disgrace, I have not yet been to Silent Barn, in Queens. Many friends and acquaintances have performed there, or are part of the fabric of its existence, and I have been meaning to catch a concert, performance, reading, or video game within its walls for some time. With a recent robbery that left the place in shambles, though, it looks like I'll never get the chance to see the space as it has existed for the past several years. 

The massive theft that Silent Barn just experienced is forcing the space to temporarily close, but they're taking an optimistic approach by looking at this as a chance to find a safer locale in another part of NYC. The goal now is to raise 80 grand --- steep, but hopefully do-able --- in order to "ensure the viability of The Silent Barn as a permanent all-ages venue for independent and experimental music, games, and art." With that, they're looking at a new and improved sound system, fire safety, better lighting, and other necessary renovations.

One project with which I'm fascinated, and one that's had a long residence at Silent Barn, is Babycastles --- an independent video games arcade. Though I did saunter into a Babycastles showcase during the Northside Festival this year (at 285 Kent), I never actually got to play the awesome games. The deal is (or, was) that you could play all the games at Silent Barn for free after paying the door fee to catch whatever show. Rad. 

Here's what the Silent Barn people have to say about their venue:
The Silent Barn is an immersion into the art of New York City as it lives.  It's a double-floor music venue inside of a kitchen, an independent video games arcade, an art theater & performance space, a party surveillance system, a zine library, a museum of gigantic murals, and a home for Castle Oscar.  Founded in 2004, The Silent Barn is now grandfather to a beautiful re-emergence of similar spaces across Brooklyn, and a quintessential model for all-ages DIY art and music culture in America.  It resides proudly alongside Flux Factory and the Museum of the Moving Image as a rare contemporary art institution in Queens, New York.  It has long been the headquarters of both Showpaper and Babycastles, young and booming art institutions in NYC.   It has  birthed the careers of The Dirty ProjectorsDan DeaconFuture IslandsDeerhunterTeengirl FantasyVivian GirlsReal EstateThe Black LipsPictureplane, and many many others.,

I for one will most definitely be supporting and enjoying the second life of Silent Barn, and I hope that venues like this one, which has inspired others throughout the boroughs, can live long, prosper, and not. get. robbed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Interview Series #5: Anastasia Werner Guadron

Anastasia Werner Guadron has lived a life of words --- meaningful ones, carefully chosen. She is dedicated to poetry and pursuing creative endeavors, and she travels in search of inspiration. Currently enrolled in Lesley University's MFA Program, she can be found reading her work at various venues around the country and leading a creative writing workshop through Emerging Voices. One of her poems, "Vital Sassoon," was published in The Dirty Napkin. She is also the owner of Mightier than the Sword, LLC and the vegetarian food blog The Gourmet Vegetarian, which has been up and running for several years. Anastasia and I attended the same high school, where she directed the Writers and Poets Society and created the Celebration of the Arts, both of which I dutifully took over after she graduated and attended Hunter College in NYC. I have always admired Anastasia and am very pleased to probe deeper into her passions.
Quick Look
Birthdate: July 25, 1983
Living in: Brooklyn, New York
Originally from: Port Chester, New York
No-Alternative: Let's talk first about your poetry --- why is this your preferred method of self-expression? What does poetry mean to you? 
Anastasia Werner Guadron: I'm in love with the deconstruction of things. Like how little kids take apart household objects or Tonka Trucks or cut their Barbie's hair only to become electricians or mechanics or hairstylists. I've been obsessed with the depackaging of what we see:  how the pizza in the microwave is more than dinner. It's a metaphor for Mondays...a first date gone wrong...a new beginning. My means of expressing such obsessions is through poetry. 

What led you on the path to pursuing an MFA in Poetry, and can you talk about this experience, too?

I waited 5 years after graduating from undergrad. I lived a little. Moved out of the Bronx...into New Jersey. Tried on a few hats but still wrote. My work began to brim within itself. I was unfamiliar with new(er) poets. I craved community and education through experienced poets. 

Now, I'm in my fourth semester and feel forever grateful to the experience of the MFA. My person/My work has transformed in the way I create, construct, deconstruct and listen. 

What is your personal process when constructing a poem? How much of it is stream-of-conscious? I know you have a thing for old typewriters (and also for fixing and painting them) --- do you prefer to start writing on a typewriter, and if so, why? 
I would say I'm a rambler. I take my notebook out each morning and either sit at a coffee shop, on a sidewalk or a bench and just let my mind play. I try not to force myself into any subject matter because I feel like the self will create authentic topics organically. 

This doesn't mean I don't try to write about certain subjects. I still think it is beneficial to challenge myself to write about specific topics, but I think it is important to always be free-writing. 

I easily get writers block. I use the repairing of and the typing on typewriters to refresh my methods of writing. Any process can get mundane if you do it over and over again. You have to use greater physical force when writing on a typewriter and the sound of the keys create a natural rhythm. I immediately feel reconnected to the act of writing. 

How big a role does revision play in your process? And who do you turn to for helpful suggestions and critique? 
I hate the word revision so I say "play." Play is essential to the making of the poem.

Sometimes I literally cut a poem and fling the words in the air. I pick up the pieces and tape them back on the page in a new order. Even if this isn't the way the poem stays, the very act introduces me to bumps and brights that I hadn't seen before. 

My suggestions come from either my best friend (who never reads) or my best poet friend (who always reads/writes). One focuses mainly on the content: Do they understand what I'm saying? The other focuses on the nuts and bolts: What is each individual line doing? 

Who are your favorite writers? What do you admire about them?
Sandra Cisneros was the first writer who inspired me to write. Her language wasn't archaic or predictable. I was ignited by how she wandered in metaphor.

Now, I am head over heals in love with Tenaya Darlington and Richard Siken. Both of their work contains an authentic truth, a raw vulnerability alongside careful attention to craft. 
What are some common themes and subjects in your poetry, and do you ever intentionally try to stray from these?

I used to think one should stray from writing about the same topic over and over again. But if your pen is going there naturally, the obsession means something.  

I write about water quite a bit. Fluid (e)motions. Boats with broken sails. Mermaids and Moby Dick. Sometimes, I have no idea why...other times, I feel lucky to dream of shell bras and fish with wired rimmed glasses, so I just go with it. 

Let's talk now about your website, The Gourmet Vegetarian. Why did you start this site, and what purpose does it serve for you?

The website acts as another form of poetry for me. The act of creating a meal (especially when your choices are limited) invigorates me. I wanted to share this experience with others in a conversational tone. 

I cook for friends a lot and usually, they ask me questions about how the kale was cooked or what was in the carrots to make them taste like that. I realized people were curious about vegetables. The website isn't designed just for vegetarians; it's for anyone who is interested in incorporating more color to their diet. 

What are some things you've learned through the years of blogging about your vegetarianism? And do you feel like you're part of a greater community, either through blogging or through your interest in leading a healthy lifestyle?

When I first started my blog, I knew no one (NO ONE) was reading but the internet immediately feels large. So even though the realistic jerk in me believed that there was little value to writing about asparagus in thin air...the optimist spoke to the people 10 hits away from my page, who would accidentally click on my link. 

I know you're a pretty optimistic person --- do you have any personal mottos that help you when things get tough, or when you face writing rejections? And do you have any advice for new writers? 

My optimism is steeped in a dark sense of reality. My brother and I were fortunate in the struggle we witnessed (and partly experienced). I believe that we can all withstand more than we think.

New Writers: Play. Write on a sidewalk with chalk. Listen to strangers on a subway. Believe in the weirdness of the (your) everyday and be honest. 

Bonus! You've got a quite a number of (mostly hidden) tattoos. What about tattooing appeals to you, and which piece of personal art is your favorite?

Tattoos and Poetry are cousins or fraternal twin sisters. They may look slightly different and have opposite personality traits but their core is the same. All my tattoos are representations of myself. I think about them for months or years before I actually do it. Where it is placed, how it is drawn (with or without color), the day it is inked all create a wholeness...just like poetry. 

My favorite is the latitude and longitude of my father's ashes on my ribcage. It is simple in view but connects to the sailor in both of us. It breathes and expands as I do. 

(photos courtesy of a.warner.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marina Abramovic is Present (or, was).

Last year, in the spring, I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at the MOMA by myself --- my second attempt, actually, after it was sold out the day I had planned to go with a friend. That exhibit, although crowded, showcased Burton's talent as an original artist and creator, beyond the more recent CGI Alice in Wonderland with which I'd had major qualms. But more importantly, the two hours between scoring my Burton ticket and my admittance time allowed me to explore the Marina Abramovic exhibit upstairs, which interested me far more than Burton's. Her performance art caused quite a stir --- between the naked people forming a doorway, the two women sitting with their hair tied together, and the inappropriate interactions between MOMA members and all of the naked "actors," not to mention her interactive exhibition, "The Artist is Present." In line her own history of physically demanding (and sometimes destructive) performances, Marina sat in a hard-backed chair staring at whoever dared sit on the other side of the table, for the duration of their choosing --- from March 14-May 31, 2010. Every single day.

I loved the idea of "The Artist Is Present" and I loved sitting there on the sidelines surreptitiously capturing photos on my phone while watching brave souls stride up to the chair. I also love looking through the portraits of each participant, taken by Marco Anelli. You'll notice that some people keep turning up again and again, obviously addicted and benefiting from the act of sitting silently and staring into Marina's eyes...or perhaps they were waiting for something to happen. In some pictures, people are wiping away tears; in others, the tears flow freely. Brooklyn performance artist Anya Liftig dressed exactly like Marina (who wore plain, floor-length dresses in various solid colors) and sat across her for the entirety of one day. On the last day of the performance, filmmaker Josephine Decker stripped nude and had to be removed from the building (despite the rampant nudity in Marina's exhibit on the upper floor). For The New York Press, Josephine wrote: 
After waiting for 31 hours, I was the first to be seated with Abramovic on Monday morning. I thought hard about what I wanted to bring to that experience. Seeing her retrospective had been a turning point for me. As a filmmaker, I spend a lot of time alone in a room writing and editing—and fearing failure. All of Abramovic’s work is about failing: It’s about discovering when her body will fail, when her mind will fail, when her voice will fail, when her relationship will fail. When she knows and understands this failure, however, she has nothing to fear. By failing, she doesn’t fail; she learns. She uses and pushes her body in ways many find masochistic, but, in exploring the spaces where she is weak, where her body and her mind break down, she reveals her incredible strength. The incredible strength of a human being.
I wanted to thank her. I wanted to tell her, before she even looked all the way up into my face, that I was awed, inspired, terrified and opened by her work. I wonder now if I was misguided—if I could have said and shared everything I wanted to with my eyes—since I didn’t get to sit with her at all.
All because I tried to sit naked.
Many celebrities, both inside and outside the conceptual art world, looked into Marina's eyes and soul and heart. Among them were Lou Reed, Sharon Stone, Isabella Rossellini, James Franco, Rufus Wainwright, and her former partner Ulay (one of the first people to sit with her). Bjork, along with her husband Matthew Barney and daughter Isadora, also sat across from Marina. In some ways, I wish I had too.  

(photos of exhibit by a.dupcak, portraits by Anelli)

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Good Night.

In NYC, you know it's been a good night when... catch an awesome show that kinda blows your mind into bits, preferably in a place where the ceiling is  falling apart and bathrooms are heavily stickered....
(ps, that's a photo of grandchildren at death by audio, taken by me) spill onto the street and it sounds like you're underwater despite having worn ear plugs; there's a glorious buzzing in your head, your legs ache, you feel thirsty and giddily delirious, and your eyes make these little spirals..... hear some bo-jangly music on the L platform, which is utterly crowded in a good way, and you spot some people wearing very odd things on your journey home.....(coming upon a non-gypsy cab in a remote part of Brooklyn is also a plus!)
(photo courtesy of gothamist pop onto line at Mamoun's and buy a falafel sandwich for $2.50, which you shove into your face as soon as possible, tahini dribbling down your chin..... home, you kick off your shoes, wash your hands, leave on your wristband or sticker or stamp, and are lucky enough to find Diane Bish's The Joy of Music on one of the many NYC public access channels. Watch her pound that organ with her poofy hair before you plummet into snoozeville....zzzzz.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interview Series #4: Shayne Eastin

Shayne Eastin is one very rad grrrl. Onstage, performing with her punk band Spider Problem, she all but breathes fire, throwing herself in time with the drums, bass and guitar. Whenever there's a microphone in hand --- whether she's playing The Viper Room or someone's garage or basement --- Shayne's all loud vocals, messy hair, dirty boots, ripped tights, and bloody knees.

An LA native, she's very much in love with her West Coast culture, living a million lives in one and keeping herself busy with projects both musical and otherwise. Spider Problem is just one band that's currently showcasing Shayne's talent, passion, and rock n' roll inspiration, as she Iggy Pop's it up. The band's newest album, Retro Amusement, will be available on vinyl through their Bandcamp Website on August 1st with, pre-orders available sometime in mid-July. I was very lucky to meet Shayne a couple years ago when I was staying with the band 100 Monkeys in their LA abode, and it was my pleasure to reconnect with this admirable rockstar by asking her some questions. Read on!
Quick Look:
Birthdate: July 18, 1984
Living in:
Los Angeles, California
Originally from:
West Hollywood, California
No-Alternative: I know you started as an actress and then segued into singing for Spider Problem. Can you talk about this transition, and how music took over your life?

Shayne Eastin: My whole life I was involved in Theater and Choir Programs in school. It was a great escape for me, especially in high school when I was dangerously depressed. I went to high school in Illinois and would fly to Los Angeles every summer to visit my dad. I begged him to let me audition when I was really young and eventually I was cast in some commercials, TV shows and plays.

When I turned 18, I had the
realization that I only wanted to be involved in projects I believed in and I didn't want to endorse products or shows that I considered harmful or demeaning. I felt like I really wanted to tell my own story and I truly missed singing and writing. I started taking some photography classes and landed a pretty sweet job in a photo studio while I tried to put together a band.

I sing in Spider Problem, and
I also sing and play guitar in El Ron's Cupboard --- that's more of a jazz influenced psychedelic sound and we play at the Rainbow Room on the Strip once a week (usually a Tuesday or a Thursday). Plus I currently sing and play ukelele in a vaudeville act with Liberty Larsen called the Goodnight Ladies. We sing very old jazz standards and tell jokes. Can't have enough music in my life. Things do tend to come full circle though…Spider Problem and I have been cast in a film about a broken down punk singer!

How would you define your music, and do you ever consciously try to change what your fans, or anyone else, might expect?

I think if the music I wrote were a star sign, it would be an Aquarius Sun, Pisces Moon and Aries ascendant. I try to be direct, universal, and intuitive. God, do you know how hard a question like this is?! To be honest, I always try to grow and evolve as an artist, but I never think about what my fans or peers might expect. I am very grateful to have so many people that support me and my music and I always do the best I can, but I don't have time to worry about what people expect of me!

You're known for flinging yourself around stage and sustaining some injuries in the process! Can you describe what this feels like? How do you generate such indestructible energy?

No performance is the same and I usually just feed off of the crowd when we are playing live. I love playing in front of an energetic audience and a lot of the Spider Problem songs are really aggressive and about issues that I care about. I just try not to think about it and do what comes naturally. Adrenaline really numbs pain, so sometimes I have to check myself. I can't really afford to end up in the hospital.

What has been your most memorable show? And what has been your most memorable stage-injury?

I've gotten to play a lot of really amazing venues with some incredible bands. For some reason the first show that comes to mind when you say memorable was a house party we played in Northridge about six months ago. Driving there, we had no idea that the place would be packed beyond belief. Everyone at the party was munching on pot brownies and, when we played, the house started shaking and the floor was swaying. Some kids started moshing and everything went to hell (in a good way). As far as stage injury goes, when we played with Rocket at the 3 of Clubs I managed to get this insanely huge bruise on my thigh that looked just like Jesus, but I didn't report it to the Vatican.

I know you've toured with at least one other band...what do you love most, and hate most, about touring?

Love most: Playing music every night and watching the horizon slide by the van window.  
Hate most: Missing my cat.

Let's discuss the new album, Retro Amusement. How is this different from your earlier work? What themes, emotions, and general attitudes are present throughout these nine songs? And did anything specifically inspire your band while recording?

We recorded Retro Amusement ourselves in an abandoned warehouse in Downtown LA. It's been described as melodic, dynamic and raw. I like to think of Retro Amusement taking place in a defunct old theme park. It touches on some Big Brother post-apocalyptic scenes and the album ends with a track to inspire hope and as sort of a preview of a newer direction for us.

Do you think that growing up in California has influenced your music and creativity? And do you feel like you're part of an artistic, musical, or subcultural community in LA?

Absolutely. I'm in love with Los Angeles. I feel so lucky to have been born here. Everyone is so genuine and kind because it's easy to truly relax here and let your mind go. There are so many unique and talented musicians in LA and we all support each other. It's pretty cool when the people you admire are people you get to work with and play with.

I know you swim in open-minded circles, but do you ever encounter sexism in the music world, and does being a grrrl rocker ever become an issue --- however big or small?

You know what, yes. There is sexism in the music world just like there is sexism everywhere. But don't dwell on it. Just keep kicking ass and doing what makes you happy. Always stand up for yourself if someone is mistreating you, disrespecting you, or threatening you, but don't let assholes waste your time. Stay dignified and let the haters stew in their own bullshit.

Say I'm going to come to LA again to visit you (yay!), where would you take me?

Rad! We'd go hiking in Fryman Canyon in the morning! It's off of Mullholland Dr. and when you get to the bottom you can see some cars that careened off the road and fell into the canyon. They are all beat up and grown over with weeds. Then I'd take you to Clifton's Historic Cafeteria downtown. The inside is decorated like a woods scene and Walt Disney used to eat there…a lot of people say that's where he got his inspiration for Disneyland. After that, I'd take you to all of my favorite thrift stores in the valley and we'd end the night by probably catching one of my friends' shows. Please come and visit! It'd be so fun!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Song: "Hanging On" by Active Child

I love Active Child's EP from 2010, titled Curtis Lane. Those five songs sound like they've been exhumed from the soil of another day and time, or perhaps another galaxy. It blends familiar terrain (a chilled out Tears for Fears) with new landscapes, perhaps owing to the fact that its brainchild, Pat Grossi, is a classical harpist, ex-choirboy with a ghostly falsetto, and chronic bedroom music-maker. Slinky and glazed, his songs glide effortlessly through synths, beats, and loops. Now, LA-native Grossi is set to release his first LP, You Are All I See, at summer's end. But before then, you can listen to one of the album's tracks, "Hanging On," over at Stereogum. I cannot get enough of it!