Background Tunes

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NIN – 80 mins of one of the best live shows EVER

I’m a bit annoyed that I missed the 1st leg of this tour. Up until about a year ago I had assumed that I attended the very last Nine Inch Nails show ever in ’09 at the Wiltern. Well, that’s not the case. Not only has Trent pumped out a new incredible album, but he got the band back together again. And the production on the “Tension” tour is INSANE. Check out the video…

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A Summer Festival that was actually fun for a 33 year old – FYF

It’s been about 7-years or so since I’ve been to a summer festival. I’ll admit it. I can’t stand big crowds, too much sun with no shade, overcrowded beer “gardens,” overpriced tickets, puke on porter potty seats w/ spashes of shat on the walls, 25-minute sets to the band you actually went to see, etc. In other words, I’m no longer 21.

Fast forward to 2011. F#ck Yeah Festival held at the Historic LA Park located at the basin of Dodger Stadium. I have to say it was the exact opposite of what I was expecting. We took the Metro in, which meant free parking. The weather was perfecto! It took about 5-mins to get into the gates. The crowds were, although hipster with waves of girls dressed like Blossom, well behaved. Meaning no knuckleheads trying to start sh!t and ruin everyone’s fun. The beer gardens actually served good beer…sorry bud light! Four main stages were set up and sandwiched in between them was a tent for a constant flow of comedians. That tent was packed, so we skipped it. I also have to mention I never had to wait in any sort of line to use the can. Call this a miracle for a festival with over 20k in attendance. I also gotta mention, since this wasn’t the Warped Tour deodorant seemed to be used by everyone and no one was walking around smelling like pig pen.

Japandroids – Probably destroyed most other bands courtesy of some thrashy noise rock. Think Sonic Youth w/ only 2 band members.
Art Czars – 

OFF! – Was borderline perfect minus the typical Keith Morris political/nonsensical rants. Dude was in the Circle Jerks, Black Flag so deal w/ it I guess.
Upside Down

Broken Social Scene – Ugh. Boresville. But I do love their 2nd album.
Shampoo Suicide

Guided By Voices – Stoked to finally see these aged alt rockers. Sloppy, but great. Classic indie rock with a catalog that’s too hard to count.
Hot Freaks

Four Tet – I was really excited to see him. His set was a bit mellow. Obviously heavy on the electronic. The set was hypnotic and lush. However, no one seemed to care much.
My Angel Rocks Back and Forth

The Descendents – I’ve seen them before. An although I love Milo Goes to College, a few beers and maybe too much sun sealed the deal for an early exit. We left after their 1st song.
Suburban Home

Explosions in the Sky – Missing them was the biggest disappointment of the night due to us being lame, old and beat. I pretty much wanted to see Explosions in the Sky above all other bands that day. Getting older sucks. Enjoy this song in all it’s reflective and passionate goodness.
Your Hand In Mine

Nicely Done, FYF.

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The Monday 5-pick

A quick post of 5 brilliant tracks from various artists and genres old and new to kick start your week. The Replacements and Descendents tracks are a couple of rock/punk rock personal past faves that I can listen to over and over. I have been on a huge Four Tet kick, and in general mellow electronic kick so I had to throw this gem in there as well.  While I’ve never really been a huge Modest Mouse fan as the dudes twangy voice can annoy me a bit and their band name really irks me for some reason, the tune is so beautiful and a bit haunting. Finally, Megafaun are new on my radar as they bring a healthy dose of experimental indie folkie-ness reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes and the Byrds. That said, it’s a mix of tunes to start off the new week.


“Hereatofore” from the album Heretofore (2010)
buy :: site

Modest Mouse
“Gravity Rides Everything” from the Album The Moon & Antartica (2000)
buy :: site

The Replacements
“Can’t Hardly Wait” (outtake version) from the album Tim (Expanded Edition)

Four Tet
buy :: site
“She Just Likes to Fight” from the album There is Love in You (2010)

buy :: site
“Suburban Home” from the album Milo Goes to College (1982)

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1994. Lollapalooza, the best way to end a summer.

The summer of 1994 was pretty significant for me as I was given a piece of extended freedom, my first car. Although it was a crap ride it became the vessel that shipped us from show to show for years to come. Faded black, a DIY sun roof, no A/C, a blocked muffler, and a bunk 6-speed . Nothing but the best from Mitsubishi’s 1984 Mirage assembly line. Fast forward to springtime and my buddy and I decided to stand in line at the wee early hours of a Sunday morning in from of a  Music Plus store (now a stereo chop-shop) to buy 4 tickets to my first major festival, Lollapalooza 1994. I miss those days of standing in line getting tickets at a first come first served service. The line up that year was going to be headlined by Nirvana, who I missed a couple months back at their Forum gig in Inglewood on their In Utero headlining tour. So knowing that I was FINALLY going to see them live was worth the 5-hour wait in line. Oh, the sips of beer and second hand smoke also helped. Fast forward to April, Nirvana was no more as Cobain checked out, and the Smashing Pumpkins were now the headliners. I was bummed, but the line up was still set to amaze.

The day of the show myself, my buddy Erik, my Uncle Larry and his friend headed down to the Cal State Dominguez Hills “Velodrome” for LollaPalooza 1994. Little did I know that stepping into those gates and seeing a sea of people engulfed in pulsating sonic barrages would open my eyes and ears to new music and a new way of life. Right when we got in Green Day started their set and I was just transfixed and consumed by the blaring speakers and insanse atmosphere that was all new to me. Green Day played a quick set and I believe L7 took stage next, and goddamn they were fucking loud and dirty! My ears buzzed for the next couple of days because of their set. Shortly after them Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds bored me to death because I was 17 and just didn’t know any better so we went down to the 2nd stage just in time for quick sets by Shonen Knife, Stereolab and Cypress Hill. We shoved our ways to the front stage when Cypress took the stage. Just as they started their first song this big burly dude started to jump up and down and smashed my toe to bits.

Later that evening I would find out that he ripped by big left toe nail off and caused all kinds of problems, but it was worth it. This is pre-cheesy Cypress so they mostly played songs off their self titled album and Black Sunday. It’s easy to say I was also second hand high so I always assumed that helped me with the toe pain in my left sock. Once the 2nd stage wrapped up we headed back to the main just in time for Tribe Called Quest’s amazing set which included, “Sucka N**ga”, “Check The Rhime”, and “Can I Kick It.” I pretty much ignored George Clinton, the clown outfit he had on and his 95 musicians he brought on stage as I just wanted his mess to be over with so that the Beastie Boys would take over. I think the Beasties opened with “Sure Shot” from Ill Communication, and the crowd went nuts. We jumped up and down with the masses as they plowed thru songs from Check Your Head to Ill Communication with ease. Ill Communication was in heavy rotation in the Mitsubishi Mirage that year so I was loving it. In that moment in time that day was perfect. After that I sorta lost track of the remaining bands as I started to realize my to was really tore up and fatigue started to quickly set in.

We once again smashed our way to the front of the main stage for the final band, the  Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe it was the fatigue, the lack of food and water, or the fact that Siamese Dream sounded like garbage to me at the time, but the Pumpkins were terrible that night. Corgan’s screeching vocals were cutting through my brain like a rusty knife and I couldn’t wait for them to wrap it up. They played what seemed like an eternity, but once again some second hand smoke eased the pain as Corgan and Co. slowly went thru the motions while playing “Disarm.” As the night closed out I was exhausted and yet very satisfied. The Smashing Pumpkins ended and my perfect day was almost done unit my Uncle realized his wallet was gone. For the next hour or so he insisted on sifting thru the front stage garbage on the ground and refused to believe the chick he was dancing with an hour before lifted his wallet. But at that pointed it really didn’t matter how the night would end, as it couldn’t get any more perfect than it was.  That final day of summer (Junior year of high school started in 2-days) had come to a conclusion, and the night was over. Lollapalooza 1994 was an amazing experience for me. It pointed me in new directions musically, culturally and in years to come professionally. It’s easy to say it was a teenage highlight that I will never forget. I also have to admit, its the best Lollapalooza I’ve gone to since. Here are a few gems from ’94 class along with the entire line up that year.

The Smashing Pumpkins
Beastie Boys
George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars
The Breeders
A Tribe Called Quest
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Green Day

The Flaming Lips
The Verve
The Boo Radleys
Guided By Voices
Girls Against Boys
Rollerskate Skinny
Palace Songs
The Pharcyde
Shudder to Think
Lucious Jackson
God Lives Underwater
King Kong
Charlie Hunter Trio
Shonen Knife
Blast Off Country Style
Souls of Mischief
Cypress Hill
The Black Crowes

Beastie Boys :: “Shadrach” from the album Paul’s Boutique (1989)

Shudder To Think :: “Shake Your Halo Down” from the album  Get Your Goat (1992)

Cypress Hill :: “Hand on the Pump” from the Self Titled album (1991)

Tribe Called Quest :: “Can I Kick It” from the album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths Rhythm

L7 :: “Shove” from the album Small the Magic (1991)

Smashing Pumpkins :: “Mayonaise (live)”

Fu-Schnickens :: “Breakdown”

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds :: “Red Right Hand” from the album Let Love In (1994)

The Pharcyde :: “Passin’ Me By” from the album Bizarre Ride II: The Pharcyde (1992)

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EPITAPH RECORDS, heavy history & still relevant

EPITAPH RECORDS. A record label I both loved and hated over the years. I loved them at a time when I was in my teens and just spinning through punk rock albums like crazy. From The Dead Kennedys to Sub | Hum | Ans then onto a bunch of skate melodic punk bands that both Epitaph and Fat Wreck were spewing out. Think 1992-95 when punk rock was basically “coming back” due to it’s popularity  not only by Green Day, but as music soundtracks in skate, surf and snowboard videos. The good ol’ days for me when mainstream music tended to ignore most of punk rock and the world was still safe from bands like Fall Out Boy and Hot Topic was still selling Ministry t-shirts.

I hated Epitaph during a time where, well, they  were basically a competing indie punk label that were setting the bar in releases for the genre, and the label I worked with could just not keep up in numerous ways. It was both frustrating at exciting, which is odd to say. Since its inception Epitaph Records has released an exceptional catalog that consists of classic punk rock albums (Bad Religion Suffer, NOFX Punk In Drublic, Rancid And Out Come the Wolves, etc) that at the time broke through barriers and spoke for an entire generation of angst, creativity and confusion. They not only unleashed to the world multi-platinum artists The Offspring and Rancid, but a Warped Tour generation led by Bad Religion, NOFX and Pennywise. SPIN MAG has released a nice retrospective of how the label started with interviews from current and past band rosters.That said, I bring to you a few tunes from Epitaph bands that I condsider to be highlights for the label throughout the years. A tiny sample of some of the brilliant stuff they’ve released throughout the years from punk rock to hardcore, sans some of the Anti- and Fat Possum releases, which were also pretty damn amazing.

artist :: RANCID
song :: “Gave it Away” from  Lets Go! (1993) :: iTunes

artist :: Descendents
song :: “Coffee Mug” from  Everything Sucks (1996) :: iTunes

artist :: NOFX
song :: “Milachi Crunch” from  Ribbed (1990) :: iTunes

artist :: REFUSED
song :: “New Noise (live)” from The Shape of Punk to Come (1998) :: iTunes

artist :: PENNYWISE
song ::  “Nothing” from Unknown Road (1993) :: iTunes

artist :: DFL
song :: “Proud to Be” from Proud to Be (1995) :: iTunes

artist :: SOME GIRLS
song :: “Totally Pregnant Teens” from Heaven’s Pregnant Teens (2007) :: iTunes

artist ::  CONVERGE
song :: “In Her Blood” from  You Fail Me (2004) :: iTunes

song :: “Sons and Daughters” from A Flight and a Crash (2001) :: iTunes

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Scream & Shout with THE LETTERS ORGANIZE

photo by: mike white

THE LETTERS ORGANIZE were in a way a tiny second coming of Refused. In a time of terrible screamo and bad make up on grown ass men The Letters Organize stood out in many ways. Sonically, they were a beast with quick and to the point songs that delivered a pretty intense live set of straight up spazzy and energetic rock n’ roll. Think Dillinger Escape Plan, but listenable. Their sound was definitely not anything new, but they did it so well in a frantic, schizophrenic sort of way that just worked for them. When their debut LP, Dead Rhythm Machine dropped it drew much critical acclaim by music writers, but it did not stick to a mass audience that at the time was more interested in My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, etc. Although they toured relentlessly their fate was sealed in 2007 as they packed it up with a tiny catalog consisting of an EP/7-inch (Everybody, Goes Yeah! Bash…) and one full length album. Since then I believe there’s been rumors of a return followed by a string of shows.

:: T H E  L E T T E R S  O R G A N I Z E
sound like :: Refused, Vaux, Since by Man
site ::

song :: “These Words” from the album Dead Rhythm Machine (2005)
purchase :: iTunes :: Interpunk

song :: “Crooked Spine” from the EP Everybody, Goes Yea! Bash…

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