ALESSIA CARA MAKES HER LOS ANGELES DEBUT @ THE TROUBADOUR

Canadian Alessia Cara made her highly anticipated Los Angeles debut at The Troubadour. Signed to Def Jam records based on her Soundcloud page that included covers of Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Sam Smith and Justin Bieber, this show marked Alessia's first headlining gig.

PINS ANNOUNCE U.S. SUMMER TOUR

Ahead of their June 9th release of their upcoming album Wild Nights, UK's PINS have released their new single "Young Girls." Also, they just announced their U.S. summer toiur which kicks off June 13rh in New York.

ZELLA DAY @ THE TROUBADOUR

Zella Day has released her debut album Kicker and she celebrated with a sold out show at LA's famed Troubadour last week.

MAKE MUSIC PASADENA SHINES IN ITS 8TH YEAR

Last Saturday, over 150 bands made their journey to downtown Pasadena to take part in Make Music Pasadena (MMP), billed as the largest free, all-day music festival on the West Coast.

WINTER @ THE ECHO

Winter's new album Supreme Blue Dream is the ideal soundtrack to your summer..

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CD RELEASE PARTY! DONITA SPARKS

Hello guys! Check this show out. It's Free and it's a very cool cd. Very different from her L7 sound. Check out our review of "Transmiticate" below this post or HERE!

MYSPACE: Donita Sparks & The Stellar Moments

Sunday, February 17, 2008

DONITA SPARKS and the Stellar Moments



The year was 2000 when the flames of L7 slowly faded away like the sun setting behind the ocean horizon. Now, in the year 2008, a new day has risen for former L7 front-woman Donita Sparks with her debut solo album, “Transmiticate.” And although it took her eight years to reawaken, Sparks has proven that good things come to those who wait.

With Transmiticate, out February 19th, Sparks still incorporates the engine-roaring guitars of L7 but manages to paint dance-pop and electro-grunge beats to her songs – sort of like trading in a rugged muscle car for a much sleeker sports car. Along for the ride with Sparks are the new vibrant sounds of her new band, “The Stellar Moments” featuring L7 drummer Dee Plakas.



Streaming of electronic-pop with a fluid current of continuous guitar riffs and reverberating vocals, “Fly Feather Fly,” the first track of the album breaks down expectations of what fans expect from the former front lady of L7. Given that Gram Rabbit guitarist Ethan Allen is co-producing the album with Sparks, it’s not surprising that “Transmiticate” is rich with a perfect mix of rock and electronica. We even get Jessica von Rabbit lending supporting vocals on “Fly Feather Fly.”

The trend continues in “Dare Dare” and “He’s Got the Honey,” songs fueled with a driving up-tempo steady 80’s dance-beat with the attitude of Joan Jett.

“[These songs] are tracks I want to hear on the dance floor,” says Sparks. And for that reason, She’s brought on an extra guitarist so she can interact with the audience more during her live shows.



Transmiticate definitely shows a more mature Sparks as she shifts to more personal and often times vulnerable moods. Take for instance her song, “My Skin’s Too Thin.” Trickling with melancholy anger and reminding me of the sounds of The Smashing Pumpkins, it’s the first time I’ve heard Sparks’ vulnerable side.

“covered in buttons for you to push/don’t take advantage ‘cause my heart has been smushed…My skin’s too thin/for the game you’re in.”
This new ‘mature’ Sparks is sure to reach and gain a newer audience with her loyal fans welcoming her new sound. “Creampuff” conjures images vintage ‘60’s girl group pop with a delicate brushing of a tough Betty Rizzo while one of the most touching songs on the album is “Curtains for Cathy.” She sings the story of Cathy in the same matter-of-fact, impartial fashion in which the tragedy was conveyed to her.

Sparks
explains, “‘Curtains for Cathy’ is a sad tale but I tried to tell it in a detached, almost Haiku way. The song is based on a true story and that’s how I heard it the first time, sort of deadpan.”

“Infancy of Disaster,” “Head Check,” “Need to Numb,” and “Into the Hi Fi” encompass the raw energy that made L7 performances memorable with unforgiving crashing guitars and hard beats - like a harsh wasteland of the ocean with surf cowboys attacking the swells and carving through the roaring waves of electro-grunge.

With a wide range of sounds, from dance, 80’s beats and rock/electronica, Sparks’ new debut album is clearly a departure from the torrent sounds of her former band. But she proves that she is her own personality, igniting a new sound and moving to new territories from the glimmering grey ashes of L7.

Transmiticate is not the only new venture Sparks has been keeping busy with. Currenlty she contributes her music/pop culture column "The Spin I'm In" to the popular, politically progressive blog, Firedoglake.com. She also, along with singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses), has launched the COALITION OF ARTISTS AND STAKE HOLDERS (CASH Music). Understanding the challenges of the music industry, especially in this new digital age, CASH Music is a platform for artists to create a sustainable livelihood by releasing new music and media while also allowing more interaction with fans. To read more about this new venture, check out CASHMusic.org.

This year is going to be a busy year for Sparks. This month, Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments heads off to Brazil for their own headlining shows and then it’s back here to Hollywood for her record release party at Safari Sams on February 29th. Then, after a stop playing SXSW in March, she plans to tour the U.S. and Europe this spring and summer.

LINKS:
Official Site: Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments
Myspace: Donita Sparks
CASH Music CASHMusic.org


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MARINA V @ The Derby


MARINA V
The Derby
January 31, 2008

Marina Verenikina (aka: Marina V) is living the dream. And like any journey, she’s had to deal with personal struggles and heartbreak to obtain those dreams. Her life reads like a fairytale – a modern one at that – which is ironically the name of her latest album “Modern Fairytale.”


Marina V at The Derby

Missing her on a few occasions at the Hotel Cafe, I made a point to catch her show when she played again. Currently on tour for her new album which was released this past January, Marina played last Thursday at the world famous Derby. This night was dubbed, “Don’t Call Us Tori” night. Unfortunately, because of a prior engagement to watch Dengue Fever at the Echoplex, I couldn’t stay for the entire night of great artists which included Andrea Marchant, Julie Newmar and Katrina Parker.

Marina’s long journey began in Moscow. Growing up in communist Russia, Marina began singing and writing simple melodies before she could even talk. She learned English by translating Beatles songs. Unfortunately, as she grew older, Russia at the time proved difficult for aspiring artists with big dreams which eventually led Marina to put her writing on hold. But it all changed at the age of 15 when she won a national competition to study abroad for a year in the United States. During her year stay, Marina’s new found freedom allowed her to blossom personally and creatively. When she returned home to Moscow, she was determined to move back to the States. Flash forward two years later, after saving enough money while going to school, Marina reluctantly left the family she helped support and made her way out west to pursue her dreams. But as she soon found out the first few years were difficult.

"I had a lot on my mind. I felt very guilty about leaving my family and my country, I was very lonely and scared trying to adapt to the new way of life,” she says. “Writing songs became my drug, therapy and my spiritual healer. It helped me come to terms with many things".

On top of trying to adapt in a place that was unfamiliar and missing her family, she sold her pickup truck to buy a piano, endured living with an abusive host family, worked odd jobs, survived ‘terrible’ relationships and escaped a ceiling cave-in at one of her concerts. Achieving all she could in Illinois, Marina headed to Los Angeles where she gained a dedicated following by playing any gig she could get which included performing in bookstores. And today? Her hard work and determination has, so far, paid off. Marina has recently become an American Citizen and counting her latest release, Marina has released four albums working with the likes of producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon & George Harrison) and manager David Krebs (Aerosmith).


Marina V at The Derby

In “Modern Fairytale,” Marina creates a hauntingly dreamlike storybook filled with a mixture of heartbreak and optimism. Her songs are like a magical music box, when opened, sucks you into a magical world with fields of pastel flowers that grow wild towards the sky. It’s a world that only Marina can create which makes you feel like soaring between heaven and earth.

Her lyrics are deep, often times dark and personal that dance around delicate melodies like “Love Me Back” which is a tender lullaby about a relationship that’s a one-way road. There’s “Sunshine Guaranteed,” a Beatle-esque inspired song about having that special someone in your life. “Alone” looks back at Marina’s struggle to find herself during her first years in America, missing her family, being alone and scared in a far away place. And in a song that could sum up her long journey, Marina’s angelic voice mournfully aches with surrender in “Strength I Need.”
"And when I feel I'm breaking down
When my soul loses feeling
When there's no one else around
and there's no one to heal me
Will I be the strength I need"
It’s hard to imagine what life experiences Marina had to go through to create these emotional and personal lyrics. But listen closely and what you year underneath her sad and lonesome stories are soaring arrangements that breathe hope like a spectrum of light escaping a dark abyss. It’s a storybook filled with therapeutic songs dealing with the harsh realities of life – a mixture of escapism and reality.

Overall, “Modern Fairytale,” Marina’s fourth album is a moving album that puts you on an emotional roller coaster ride complete with full, rich harmonies, complimented by her captivating voice. We look forward to seeing what the future holds in the next chapter of Marina’s “modern fairytale.”

Check out her official website HERE to purchase "MODERN FAIRYTALE" or check out upcoming tour dates in your area. To view the rest of the photos from her performance click HERE! Check out her performance of "FOOL" and "FATE" from The Derby below shot by 405east.


"Fool"


"Fate"


UPCOMING MARINA V L.A. SHOWS
WHEN & WHERE

FEBRUARY 26TH @ The Hotel Café
MARCH 6TH @ Cal State Fullerton / TSU Underground Pub
APRIL 6th @ The Hotel Café

Friday, February 8, 2008

A FINE FRENZY on Late Show w/David Letterman

For those of you who missed it Wednesday night, here's A Fine Frenzy performing "Come On, Come Out" on The Late Show with David Letterman!


For our past review of A Fine Frenzy, click HERE. And for more of Ms. Alison Sudol, tune on Monday night when she performs AGAIN on Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

AMERICAN BLOOMERS @ The Viper Room

AMERICAN BLOOMERS
Jaime Wyatt, Vocals & Guitar
Jonathan Sheldon, Guitar & Vocals
Jane Sheldon, Bass & Vocals


Jaime Wyatt of American Bloomers

Offstage, the American Bloomers are a reserved youthful bunch, greeting me with genuine, courteous smiles before the show. Onstage, it’s a different story. Exuding graceful confidence onstage, they perform their songs about life filled with heartbreak as though they’ve lived through every note of it. Like the calm before the storm, the American Bloomers are the ray of sunlight trying to pierce through the dark clouds.

Consisting of Jonathan Sheldon on guitar, Jane Sheldon on bass and Jaime Wyatt on guitar and vocals, The American Bloomers sound much older than they actually look. Having a fresh take on the classic rock sound, they paint their songs with Jonathon’s rustic guitars and Jane’s warm bass. Listing influences such as Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty, their textured sound is rich but not too overpowering allowing Jaime’s voice, cool and weathered, to gently soar above the instrumentals with deep emotion.


Jaime Wyatt & Jane Sheldon of American Bloomers


Jaime first met Jonathan at a screening of a movie that he produced. At the time, siblings Jonathan and Jane had been writing songs inspired by Fleetwood Mac and when Jonathan mentioned this to Jaime, she expressed interest in filling in the role of Stevie Nicks. Thus began the writing sessions in which the trio quickly came up with an album’s worth of songs. The songs just came so naturally with a quality to them according to Jonathan describing their first writing sessions. And it’s not surprising given that all three come from extensive musical backgrounds.

A transplant from Seattle, Jaime’s quest for a new record deal landed her in Los Angeles. With an EP under her belt and already releasing several songs on soundtracks including “Wicker Park” her song “Lightswitch” was featured in a compilation with the likes of “Death Cab for Cutie,” “Stereophonics” and “Mazzy Star.” With his previous band Naked, Jonathan signed to MCA Records and wrote several songs that got playtime on mainstream radio. Jane studied at the highly respected music school, Berklee School of Music and predominantly plays keys, bass and guitar.

After previous attempts to catch American Bloomers live, I finally got the chance last Sunday at the Viper Room. Their songs, such as “Sugar Skies,” includes lush, blue-collar, Petty-esque arrangements that could easily have been overplayed and, most importantly, could’ve lost the emotional vocals of Jaime but they pull it off with ease by writing simple melodies which translate effortlessly live onstage. In “Rough Diamond,” about an artist on an endless pursuit of enlightenment through self-destruction, the American Bloomers truly show that less is more, proving that songs don’t need to be too busy. They know that they have a gem in a voice of Jaime and they don’t want to hide it behind complex arrangements. Add to their songs Jane’s captivating backing vocals and their sound becomes complete and balanced - a compliment to Jaime’s vocals.

“I’ve been playing music my whole life, but with the Bloomers I knew we were on to something really special. You can’t quantify it,” Jane says.


American Bloomers

Ironically, “Faded,” the first song they ever wrote together ended their set this night. The story follows a drunken lover who keeps trying to prove a point while being completely inebriated, or faded. Like the stories Jaime sings about, she sounds as though she has gone through the suffering and heartache. The stage is her outlet, verging on splitting the dark clouds and releasing floods of emotion.

I really can't say enough about how much I love this band. They know how to tap into your inner passions and sensations. They dub their sound as songs that "...echo of love, heartbreak, heartwake..." with the "...perils of simply being human in a world where it is so easy to be complex and evermore difficut to be simple." And by using their pure talent of playing and songwriting, they are not trying to re-invent classic rock, they’re just putting a refreshing spin on it.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle with American Bloomers,” says Jonathan. “This is the band I’ve been waiting to be in.”

Check out more pics from that night in our pics page HERE! For more info on American Bloomers and their upcoming album and tour dates, click HERE!

In the meatime, here are the American Bloomers performing "FADED" at the Viper Room. Enjoy!


American Bloomers performing, "Faded."

DENGUE FEVER @ Echolplex

 Chhom Nimol of Dengue Fever / photograph by picksysticks
Chhom Nimol of DENGUE FEVER / photograph by picksysticks

Ended up going to Dengue Fever's record release party for their third album, "Venus on Earth" at The Echoplex last Thursday and 'Wow'!

DENGUE FEVER'S
set started off with a clip from their documentary, "Sleepwalking Through The Mekong" which chronicles the band's first shows outside the United States in lead singer Chhom Nimol's homeland of Cambodia. After that their new video for "Seeing Hands" was projected on the back wall. Finally, with the anticipation building, with Chhom nowhere to be seen, Dengue Fever took the stage and jump started the show with the surf-pop instrumental, "Ocean's of Venus." With the entrance worthy of a queen, with the crowd parting like the Red Sea, Chhom emerged from the wave of onlookers from a rickshaw and gracefully stepped on stage. From there on out, it was pure pop-rock - a blend of psychedelic pop and Western rock, like being in an asian discotheque and enjoying the unique rich sounds of classic party music to dance to. Dengue Fever performed an electrifying set, with Chhom seeming like she wanted to dance and enjoy the show until she remembered that they were the show.


David Ralicke & Chhom Nimol

On February 16th, Dengue Fever are scheduled to perform on Mr. Shovel's "Check One...Two" program on Indie 103.1. And the day after, be sure to check them out at The Viper Room at the popoular Monday night "Check One...Two." Admission is free. That'll be a great show.

Check out the rest of the photos from this night at www.myspace.com/picksysticks. Check out our "Venus on Earth" review below this post or HERE.

Here is Dengue Fever slowing things down performing "Sober Driver" from that night at the Echoplex. Thanks to 405 East for posting!


Dengue Fever performing "Sober Driver."