Emiliana Torrini. The Troubadour. March 30, 2009

We walk into the Troubadour expecting there to be people slammed up against the entrance as usual - shoulder to shoulder, trying not to spill their drink. To our surprise, the main floor is spacious and roomy. We are baffled, as the good folks at KCRW have been in love with Emiliana Torrini the past few months and play her songs every chance they can. We head to the bar and notice we are the youngest in this crowd of floral prints, stripes and tie dye. This is not a normal night at the Troub for us. As the set time approaches, the room begins to fill up. Now we understand, everyone has come for Emiliana - the hell with the openers.

Emiliana takes the stage wearing a 40's style floral print dress. Her friend picked it out for her because "she wears the same dress every day." The band, usually couped up in the cold, loves the California sunshine. The night before they celebrated by drinking and taking photos "spanking one another." We misjudged her as conservative and dainty (she enjoys whiskey, which she asked the audience for and received two full glasses of, taking it gratefully). She is cute on stage - her arms move stiffly and her face shows much emotion as she sings. In between songs, she talks with the crowd and tells stories, like how her bandmate wrote "Birds" while she sipped a cocktail inside and he was thrown into the woods for inspiration. She's admitted to forgetting much of the songwriting process due to late-night whiskey feasts.

Her voice sounds amazing. Her diction was impeccable, much like her fellow Icelander, Bjork. She is vulnerable and real. You can fee the sensuality in "Ha Ha" (there are times where she just breaths a stacatto breath into the microphone). You believe her when she dedicates the song "Big Jumps" to those people in her life who "have really taken chances" and "believe in love and the pursuit of happiness, not silly things like religion."

Highlights of the show were "Jungle Drum" and "Birds."

Side note about the Troub: the speakers upstairs in the Loft work now so you can hear the show. Hoorah!

Emiliana on the harmonium

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. The Echo. March 27, 2009.

"Thees ees dee ferst time in de United States of Amedeeeka!" squeeked the tiny blonde on stage, Mette Lindberg, lead singer of the Danish band The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. They have just come off of the SXSW high. We were able to catch them at The Echo before they head back to tour in Europe. They can currently be heard on the iPod Touch commercial and episodes of Gossip Girl.

On the right side of the stage stood the "industry peeps" while the rest of the crowd (a gaggle dressed in sailor hats and nautical attire for the Echo's Friday Night Club Underground from 12 am -2 am) mingled near the bar, glancing back from the stage to the 1960's movie projected on the wall.

Accompanying Mette on the stage were five radly dressed boys: Lars Iversen (bass, keys), Miloud Carl Sabri (trumpet), Sven Meinild (sax), Mads Brinch Nielsen (guitar, keys) and Rasmus Valldorf (drums). The drummer had no shirt, but instead a long tribal necklace. Other members sported head wraps and beads (think contemporary Keith Richards), retro suits and all were wearing sunglasses.

The band seemed to be having such a great time - it was party on stage. You can tell they live for this. Their music echoes the 60's soul vibe that has invaded the music scene the past couple years, but Mette's voice was not what you would expect with the accompanying music. She is no Adele or Duffy. Instead her voice has an unmistakable high-pitched, psychedelic sound. Mette's voice matches completely with their album, Around the Bend. Her soulful lyrics and band (complete with a horn section) brings a level of depth. They are the futuristic Jetsons of soul & Motown.

And now another homage to you dancers and lonesome individualists:

video

Ladyhawke. Troubadour. March 17, 2009.

Walking into Ladyhawke's Troubadour show felt like a taping of The L Word if it were set in an 80's flashback: plenty of same sex make-out action, dance moves like "the weight lifter," cut-off leather gloves to accentuate hand-dancing, neon shapes lighting the projector screen, and celeb sightings like C.C. Deville from Poison...alas no Jennifer Beals reliving her Flashdance days. It was an appropriate crowd tribute to a band named after the 1985 Michelle Pfeiffer film.

I am neither cool nor gay enough to be there.

Pip Brown, a Kiwi with a jammin' voice, hid behind her feathery blonde bangs as she strummed the guitar and twiddled the synthesizer.

I loved chanting "bang, bang, bang, on the drum" during Dusk Til Dawn, felt seriously sexy during Magic and joined the dance crowd when she ended with My Delirium.

...now please enjoy a dance break from our sponsor:

video



Ra Ra Riot. El Rey. February 28, 2009.

I became a fairweather fan of the Ra Ra Riot album, spending little time listening through to its entirety and skipping only to the "most listened to." I was pleasantly surprised by their live show, which was a combination of hip shaking pop and inner reflective indie rock (the latter a homage to their former drummer, John Ryan Pike, who passed away in an unfortunate drowning incident in 2007). For such a young band to decide to stay together, it shows emotional strength to create their first full length album The Rhumb Line. What manifested was something quite special.

Playing for a packed house, the band reins from Syracuse, New York. They are made up of: head cheerleader and vocalist Wes Miles, bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci, and the pizzazz of strings Alexandra Lawn (cello) and Rebecca Zeller (violin).

I felt emotionally connected to the music and appreciate them more having seen them live. Their finesse must've come after opening for bands like Bow Wow Wow and Tokyo Police Club and most recently for Vampire Weekend and Los Campesinos!

Ra Ra Riot were recently live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic:
www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mb090302ra_ra_riot


Clues with Black Cheeto. February 26, 2009. Spaceland.

I usually need earplugs to enjoy the shows at Spaceland. It is loud. I know, I sound like a grandma.

However, for a "one time only show," Black Cheeto was awarded a totally silent and attentive audience (a rare occurrence in LA). Black Cheeto is comprised of: Charlyne Yi (of the "stoner girl" in Knocked Up fame, but more importantly a talented comic and musician...and girlfriend of Michael Cera), Ryan Kattner (or Honus Honus) from Man Man and 3 unknowns (as far as we know): Jess, Dave Horwitz and Mary Forrest. Charlyne posted this on her MySpace blog regarding the show:

It's scary 'cause it's our first and last show as a band haha..... Our debut and farewell performance (we only got together to play this show. And one of the guys doesn't live in LA).

The show was obviously thrown together (Charlyne fumbled with most of the lyrics and there were other minor slip ups), but they proved to be most entertaining. Charlyne was goofy on stage and was not afraid to talk back to the audience. She played the guitar, harp and fake cardboard-cutout-trumpet. Her singing was not impressive, but her nerdy presence was endearing. The lyrics were unique. These are a few that caught our attention:

"Step your heart up/Stitch the holes up"

" Why you gotta be so mean? Is it because you have little creatures' hopes buried in your nose?"

"Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow..."

Other than the sheer entertainment and light-heartiness of Black Cheeto's performance, Ryan was the savior of the night. At the end of one song, Charlyne had a look of shock on her face and spat out: "That's exactly how it was suppose to end!"

When the Clues took the stage, the crowd (which was mainly comprised of dudes) was ready for them. By the 3rd song, the crowd was rocking - maybe the dual drum sets helped set the mood. The Clues are made up of Alden Penner (Unicorns), Brendan Reed (Arcade Fire) and additional Montreal musicians: Ben Borden, Lisa Gamble and Nick Scribner. Throughout the show, they traded up instruments and kept the enthusiasm up, even though they barely acknowledged the crowd.

It was clear that Alden brought the lyric style to the group while Brendan's use of instruments could not help but invoke Arcade Fire. Our expectations for this show were high and the band did not quite measure up. I guess we cannot judge too much having only listened to one song prior to the show. Take a listen:

http://www.box.net/shared/static/ga49i9qp3c.mp3



Charlyne Yi

Ryan Kattner

Charlyne rockin' the harp


Clues