Some recent OC Weekly work

And all this ran yesterday! Nearly all of it had been building up from a little while before, particularly my interview with Justin Harris of Menomena:

It seems at a cursory glance that the only OC connection at the kickoff show for this year’s incarnation of the Segerstrom’s Indie Band Series are local favorite Kiev. But headliners Menomena have more than a passing interest in the county—Justin Harris, one of the Portland, Oregon’s two current core members, spent the first 12 years of his life near the beach in South County.

“San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano,” confirms a relaxed, thoughtful Harris. “I still have family down there, so I visit every so often. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of the beach—surfing up in Oregon is a little more involved! Longer drive, heavier wetsuits, colder water!”

But yesterday also featured my latest Beat Blvd. review as well as something that resulted due to events earlier in the week — Five Songs for Schwarzenegger Fans to Console Themselves With.

Some new OC Weekly work…

…and there’ll be more forthcoming, just putting up a couple of links:

* First, Beat Blvd continues as ever, with my most recent entry being on Yorba Linda’s Roman Candles:

The sense of hesitancy and looking back doesn’t dedicate itself to four years of partying, though. A song like “666” looks back at birth and upbringing in Tustin and Orange, although the narrator, in this case, is the devil. (Seems appropriate, really.) There’s plenty more wry humor throughout, despite a blunt song title like “Molestation Is Not a Joke.” Who could blame him when he notes that he wishes the rent was free?

* Meantime, a quick piece on what to do this weekend in OC when everyone else is busy somewhere else in the world…

We feel your pain. Not the pain of all of you about to head out to Indio in order to see the antlike figures onstage from a distance play an amazing unexpected cover version (that will be on YouTube five minutes after they perform it), while some very drunk individual pours a combination of warm beer, extra sunblock and suspect other fluids on you while going on very loudly about how dubstep changed their life. As noted, we don’t feel that pain, we acknowledge it.

Meantime, a slew of recent OC Weekly work

Been busier than I realized there! Beat Blvd. work is continuing, including recent releases from Halle Ford, Her Voice Remains and the Wingard Manor.

Meantime, today my feature story on Sharon Van Etten ran — very personable in the interview, quite excellent music all around. A sample:

When Sharon Van Etten plays Detroit Bar on Saturday evening, the New York-based, New Jersey- and Kentucky-raised performer will be taking another step in what has been both a hectic tour schedule and a meteoric rise. Having recently returned from a European tour opening for the National, she’s due to complete sessions for her third album in the next few months, not to mention summer shows, festival appearances and more. It’s almost a wonder she has a chance to breathe, but, she says, just the fact her success exists is breathtaking enough.

“Every time people just show up to a concert is amazing. Or when someone recognizes me on the street—’Are you Sharon?!’ ‘ . . . Yeah?’—it really makes me tear up a bit,” she says. “My favorite shows are the intimate ones, where the audience all knows why they’re there. Opening for the National was the biggest set of shows I’ve played in my life, from 1,000 to 8,000 people. I need to learn how to be comfortable in that environment. I want to relate to more people musically, so I need to not be nervous about the crap!”

And then…Rebecca Black. First as a detailed blog post with video clips, then a week later in the print version with a slightly edited version. Good fun to write it all — and on the subject of her, Mackro’s post is a definite must read, more so than mine!

Anyway, onward and along…

A general note on a new OC Weekly thing I’m doing

Though it’s actually been running for some weeks now! I’ve linked it in over on Facebook a few times but it’s called Beat Blvd., and it’s a once-a-week review via the overall Heard Mentality blog of a new release by a local act, whoever it might be and whatever might be released (7″, tape, CD…as noted, whatever it might be!).

I came up with the name as a reference to the legendary Beach Blvd. compilation on Posh Boy — TinyMixTapes had an appreciation up about it a while back — and so far it’s been pretty fun. Last couple of weeks have been about the healthy Anglophilic strain that the area’s always had due to recent releases by Cat Party and Northern Labour Party (lots of parties, really) but there’s more to come in other areas and all. Might see about expanding it out a bit — we’ll see!

My latest OC Weekly review — that there No Age band you’ve heard about so much lately

If you’re into that sort of thing. Anyway, friends Mackro and Jess have recently suggested that they’re riding a serious Lync jones, which since I don’t really know that band’s work all that well may render my review a bit off. Judge as you like! A bit of it:

Some bands just get lucky. LA duo No Age (Dean Spunt and Randy Roberts) have hit a perfect zeitgeist moment: They look back at an era of noise-pop experimentation—touching on everything from Sonic Youth to the Jesus and Mary Chain’s perversely simple Spector-via-feedback approach to myriad lo-fi-loving characters worldwide—right when bands from the Magnetic Fields to Times New Viking are treading similar paths. If they hadn’t already been around for a bit, forming out of the wreckage of the band Wives and having already released a slew of singles, No Age’s story would almost be too perfect.

Etc. etc. Long-running thread on ILM about this album might be of further interest.

A brief OC Weekly piece on some of my favorite music sites

Nothing much on here that any regular readers of my blog don’t already know about, I’m guess, either from appearing in my blogrolls or from me talking about various pieces on them. But again, ten crucial sites — and if you’ve never been to the last on the list, UCSB’s cylinder archive, you are missing out.

My IN RAINBOWS review is up


Thing is, as Jess noted on Idolator here and here, there’s the danger of these kind of reviews being of the ‘wide-eyed, uncritical, “slightly wordier NME fan” quality’ — and frankly that IS the state of my review. It was drafted after two listens and revised after two more, and combined with a time limit (in order to make the print edition next week it needed to be in by yesterday evening) and a short word count (happily — a long review would have been even more of a random babble). I gave short shrift to the final two songs on the album, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” and “Videotape,” both of which are turning into a very lovely overall ending for the whole album as I relisten, and a variety of shortcuts and quick judgments permeate my take on it.

I say this not to dismiss my piece, but merely to acknowledge the inherently compromised nature of this kind of review. Friend Brian, who I’ve been invoking in my blog stories, said the other day he didn’t want to read any reviews of the album until November and I don’t blame him at all — I don’t think I’ll have anything close to a review along the line of my blog takes on the other albums up until November, and maybe not even then (after all, keep in mind nearly all the reviews except The Eraser involved albums that I’d literally known for years, not hours).

This said, I agree with what an Idolator commenter noted:

I think both snap judgements and more ruminant approaches are valuable and interesting (though there’s never been enough of the latter): both reflect aspects of every person’s listening habits that deserve analysis and commemoration.

So consider this my snap judgment, and I have no problem calling it that and judging it on its terms.