West LA's Ariel Pink

Haunted Grafitti's front man

Ariel Pink. When I first gazed a look at Beverly Hills-born musician Ariel Pink, I thought he was Kurt Cobain re-incarnated. But the sound that came out of him was a whole lot of soul and none of that techno-synthed-sampling hoo-haa that comes out of LA’s club scene.

Pink is a true musician in every sense and his sound is very old school with guitar-dominating rhythms.

He’s making his way to Minneapolis in September so I thought I would take a look into this artistic mind and see what I’m in store for.

His album in 2002 House Arrest was mostly recorded in an ashram. Most of his music is put onto cassette tape which seems to give it a signature “old school” sound. The man definitely knows how to groove when listening to his song “Baby.”

His concept of music first, lyrics…well, sometime down the road of creation has given his live shows something unique in that you may never hear the same song in the same way in each show. “I can't settle on lyrics,” he tells L.A. Weekly. “like I'll always just want to change them. So I don't even bother with that process. I just want to have a spontaneous *CENSORED* of lyrics.”

Pink notes “The Cure” as one of his major influences. When creating a song, he goes into character like an actor would, and writes from that characters heart. He doesn’t focus on fame as he believes the public has a short attention span and wouldn’t care long enough to worry about fame.

On a side note, he’s also known for being an artist of grotesque drawings.

Pink and his band Haunted Graffiti has cut nine albums with House Arrest/Lover Boy being his debut in 2002 and his latest Mature Themes being released this year.

Hollywood Bowl Friday Spectacular concert series

Norah Jones

Norah Jones. Multi-Grammy award winner, Norah Jones is coming to the Hollywood Bowl Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 8 p.m. as part of the Friday Weekend Spectaculars. She returns to the stage of the Hollywood Bowl after eight years.

Norah’s versatility in pop, rock, country and jazz will sure to be a crowd pleaser. She’s collaborated with Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Danger Mouse, Outkast and John Mayer just to name drop a few.

She made her solo debut in 2002 with Come Away With Me which has been a commercial success selling over 26 million copies. She also earned five Grammys: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, to name a few. She’s released several albums since like Feels Like Home, Not Too Late, The Fall which sold over a million copies.

Since 2003 she’s been nominated for several American Music Awards. In 2004 she was nominated for the Female Artist of the Year award. In 2003 she won the International Breakthrough Artist Brit Award. Norah also won Grammys in 2003, 2005 and 2008 and a World Music Award winner in both 2003 and 2004.

She has made numerous television appearances and her film debut My Blueberry Nights. The film starred Jude Lay, David Strathaim, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman.

Along with her standards and a few surprises, she’ll be bringing music from her latest album Little Broken Hearts to the stage.

Norah Jones will be followed by Diana Krall who comes to the Hollywood Bowl on August 24th as part of the Friday Spectaculars concert series.

L.A. band is more than meets the ear

St. Motel

St. Motel. What happens when two friends from an L.A. film school meet up? Art. When both share an affinity for music, a band slowly forms. This is what happened on that “big bang” moment when A.J. Jackson and Aaron Sharp met up in what would eventually be called “St. Motel.

St. Motel has gotten rave reviews and is moving their way up the local charts as well as touring the country.

Their music is a marriage of pop and alternative punk. The fluidity of their music flows onstage as well as the studio. Their live shows usually have a theatrical flair to them with different themes of theater. From sci-fi to erotica, every show is a treat to behold with the eyes and the ears.

Their debut E.P. “ForPlay” carved a niche for them in the L.A. music scene. With their 7” vinyl record “Puzzle Pieces” and their full length album “Voyeur,” there is no slowing them down.

The members experience and education in music and film have helped culminate some of the best visual experienced in their music videos.

They are A.J. Jackson (lead singer/guitarist), Aaron Sharp (guitarist), Dak (bassist) and Greg Erwin on drums. Going through many incarnations, in 2007 the final line up stuck and the rest is history as they say.

This Saturday, the boys are playing the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles with Princeton and Chasing Kings. After that, they leave SoCal to head for the Midwest through the rest of July. I will have to make it a point to make to their show on the 20th when they come to my neck of the woods to the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.

The Doors legacy on the Sunset Strip

SSMF honors The Doors

The Doors. "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite" –Aldous Huxley/ The Doors of Perception.

In July of 1965, Jim Morrison bumped into a former fellow UCLA film student Ray Manzarek on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Ray was in a band called “Rick and the Ravens” with his brothers when Morrison mentioned he was writing lyrics. With much coaxing, Ray had Jim sing one of them for him. That song was “Moonlight Drive” and it was not long after that the two formed a band with John Densmore (a drummer for The Psychedelic Rangers) and musicians from the Rangers and bass player Pat Sullivan and cut a six-song demo. Shortly after, they hired on Robby Krieger as lead guitarist.

The band played several gigs on the Sunset Strip, most notably “The London Fog” and “The Whisky A Go-Go”. The latter club ended up giving them the status of house band in which they were soon discovered by Elektra Records President Jac Holzman and were signed on, beginning the professional career of the Doors.

It was a turbulent time for their start, and they were even fired from the Whisky at one point for lewd lyrics and behavior on the behalf of frontman Jim Morrison during a performance of “The End.” Another time while doing The Ed Sullivan Show, they were asked to take the word “Higher” from their song “Light My Fire” in which Jimbo belted out the lyric on national TV. This enraged Sullivan and said they’d never do the Sullivan show again; Jim replied “Man, we already did the Sullivan show.”

The Doors are being honored this year at the Sunset Strip Music Festival happening August 16-20. Many musicians, including headliner Marilyn Manson, will be paying homage to the iconic group.

Ray Manzarek is quoted as saying this about the honor at this years festival: “The Doors are honored to be celebrated by the magical, legendary Strip. A great leap forward from the Summer Of Love to today. What a great time we’re going to have! The Sunset Strip. Live bands, loud music, Rock and Roll. It’s the ‘60s all over again, and everyone is welcome. Dancing in the streets. Joy, Love, Peace. And we want to get it all together just One – More – TIME! Could this be the beginning of the new Golden Age? Let it be so.”

Gnarmageddonfest Returns

Hardcore music fest returns to SoCal


Gnarmageddonfest II. On the weekend of June 22, the west coast will get hit with “the big one,” beginning in the Bay Area on Friday with the return of Gnarmageddon Fest II at 924 Gilman. This hardcore scourge will move down the coast and explode in Southern California at the Observatory and Constellation Room in Santa Ana on the following day.

This culmination of DIY west coast hardcore includes the sounds of Negative Approach, Gehenna, Magredergrind, Coke Bust, Knife Fight, Dangers, Soul Search, ACxDC, In Defence, Media Blitz, Hordes, Trench Rot, Chest Pain, Aukerman and back after 10 years, Stalag 13.

None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for the collaboration of Media Blitz front man Jason Schwartz and Danny Lyerla who heads Aukerman. Both wanted a music fest that embodied the true essence of hardcore music, both modern and old school. After tossing ideas and promotions back and forth and up and down the west coast, Gnarmageddon became a reality in 2011 with a venue at 924 Gilman in Berkley, CA and a SoCal venue at the Glass House in Pomona, CA.

That first event was headlined by none other than DOA, considered the founders of hardcore out of Canada while the Bay Area venue was headlined by legendary Agent Orange. This show brought forth numbers that most DIY punk bands were not used to seeing.

Now 2012 brings forth the second year of the annual event with its popularity bringing hopes of continued events in the future.

Purchase tickets at TicketWeb.

Young Hunting - 'Rust'

A simple melody, a slow build, and some seriously dark lyrics can all be found packaged inside this blossoming anthem. 

Corners - 'The Grave'

I'm reminded of early Pixies tapes when I go through Corners's debut Beyond Way EP. There's a similar sinister mania in these lo-fi garage rock tunes. 

Kevin Greenspon - 'Unveiling'

Gentle, lo-fi haze. Like Eno, but with a little more grit.