Amoeblog

Ride rolls into the Warfield -- and their thirteen most massive tunes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 13, 2015 10:42am | Post a Comment
I'm currently down in San Francisco (well, Richmond actually) to see Ride play. Ride, for those keeping score, were the best of a crop of bands known way back in the early 1990s as shoegazers. Like most British bands that survived into those dark years of the mid-1990s, when a collective craze for slow motion guitar solos and untucked shirts overcome white Britannia, Ride too went horribly wrong (i.e. Britpop) in the end before calling it a day in 1996. They only released one bad album (and it was awful) but then Andy Bell formed Hurricane #1, a truly horrendous (way) sub-Seahorses audition for Oasis. Bell went on to play in Oasis and then that other Liam Gallagher band who can't have been all bad as they covered World of Twist's "Sons of the Stage." 



Ride band


This is all a roundabout way of saying that the prospect of a Ride reunion made me, understandably I think, rather nervous. They released a clutch of fantastic EPs, three great albums, and only one steaming, stinker -- but it was their final album, and a direction Bell pursued with his following bands so would he insist that Tarantula haters like myself got it wrong and try to prove his point by subjecting audiences to "The Dawn Patrol" and "Starlight Motel" or worse, "Just Another Illusion"? All of my fears were put to rest when I listened to them play a short set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which included five songs from their brilliant debut, Nowhere, and its equally classic follow-up, Going Blank Again. They sounded great. I meant to dust off my old Ride T-shirt with the mud stains and holes but perhaps wisely forgot (it's really holey).
Ride band

Shoegazers were sometimes criticized for hiding their lack of songs behind walls of feedback... but listening to "Morning Becomes Eclectic" for the first time in fifteen years as I waited for Ride to play I was treated to a barrage of forgettable, tuneless, garblers in Native American headdresses singing whoa-oh-oh-y car insurance jingles (or at least that's what it sounded like to me). You know, Coachellacore or the stuff that plays during Spotify ads when sensible users remove their earbuds. Ride, on the other hand, wrote some of the tightest (I'll never use that word again to describe music, I promise) melodies, sang the pretties harmonies, channeled The Byrds, Love, and Buffalo Springfield, and then added a healthy squall of guitar noise that make me wonder why all the "nu-gazers" are so bland and limp (...oh yeah, Slowdive). 
Ride played at Coachella the other night, apparently. They're playing at the Warfield tonight. They're playing in Pomona at the Fox Theater tomorrow. 

Dancing About Architecture -- Architecture, Urbanism, and the Cinema

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 6, 2015 07:36pm | Post a Comment
April is National Landscape Architecture Month. This got me thinking about an idea for a piece but, as often happens, I found myself tumbling down a rabbit hole of research tangents and decided I’d start with a post about architecture of the non-landscape variety. Apparently there is no "National Architecture Month" and Los Angles proclaimed October "Architecture Month" but, well, whatever.



I’m sure that lots of kids played with blocks, in sandboxes, had 
Erector sets, &c but I don't recall every hearing anyone speak of architects with the same reverence they did pop stars, actors, and professional athletes. My siblings and I enjoyed construction toys like CapselaLincoln Logs, Legos, and I had some sort of castle building brick set too. I also used to also draw blue prints for imaginary dream homes.  I dug a moat for Castle Greyskull near the gully because it seemed like a better setting than the floor of the family room. My sister and I built a plantation out of dresser drawers for two Easter bunny decorations to live within. We even built a crude hut in the woods out of sticks that my brother destroyed. For his part he built a “fort” out of chairs, sheets and cushions. When I asked him what it was called it he replied, “Mitch.”

Continue reading...

An Interview with Alissa Walker for Women's History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 30, 2015 08:06pm | Post a Comment
In the past most of my posts for Women's History Month have focused on historical figures. This year I decided to instead focus on living breathing women who're actively contributing to the vibrant cultural landscape of Los Angeles. This week's subject is Alissa Walker. Walker maintains the website, A Walker in LA; has written about design, architecture, cities, and transportation for the Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, Dwell, Slate, Wired, Los Angeles Magazine, Details, GOOD, the LA Weekly (and probably others); and is the urbanism editor at Gizmodo. She also co-created design east of La Brea, an organization that produces events that take place east of La Brea; is an associate produce for the KCRW public radio show DnA: Design and Architecture; is on the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks; and she just had a baby.

Alissa Walker (image source: Zaki Mustafa)
Alissa Walker (image source: Zaki Mustafa)

I first met Alissa at a tour of Dodger Stadium organized by design east of La Brea (deLaB) to which I walked  -- a decision which produced the unexpected result of my being escorted by security. Walker rode her bike. I didn't realize at the time that I'd heard her interviewed on Notebook on Cities and Culture, which had made me want to talk to her about Los Angeles, which I'm only getting around to now. 

Continue reading...

The Dragonfly Collector Reviewed

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 30, 2015 11:19am | Post a Comment
Clementine Castro recently released his solo debut under the name Dragonfly Collector. Castro also was the leader of the popular bands, Orange and Lemons and The Camerawalls


Dragonfly Collector

Orange and Lemons released three albums in the 2000s (Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes and Dirty Ice Cream (2003), Strike whilst the Iron Is Hot (2005), Moonlane Gardens (2007)) which married 1960s pop psych to 1980s jangle pop. Though hailing from Bulacan, their sound had more in common with bands from the England’s north like Care, The Beautiful SouthLightning Seeds, Pale Fountains, The Smiths, and The Beatles than they apparently did with most of their Filipino peers. After their indie debut, Orange and Lemons signed with Universal but disbanded after their second major label release. 

A San Fernando Valley Playlist

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 23, 2015 03:33pm | Post a Comment
So the bad news is that I missed out on CicLAvia — The Valley. Cream Soda (my bicycle) was in the shop (nothing serious) and I was dog-sitting on the Eastside. I thought about bringing and walking the dog there but they’re not allowed on Metro buses or trains and there were further complications too that I won’t get into... so I ended up having breakfast at Din Tai Fung and exploring the trails of Ascot Hills Park

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's water color map of the San Fernando Valley
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's water color and oil paint map of the Valley


I am glad that so many people went and enjoyed it (hopefully getting some use out of my guide to the event) and that so many people seem to have discovered that the Valley, like everywhere else, is much more enjoyable when not seen from behind the wheel of a car. I also decided to capitalize on Valley Fever by making a Valley playlist. 

Postcard of the Valley in the 1970s
Postcard of the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s

The songs on this playlist cover the 1940s to the 1980s, which are good bookends for the Valley's period when it was a largely Anglo collection of suburbs and Cold War industry. The Valley today is much more urban and much more (predominantly even) Latino. It's also diverse, with large populations of residents with ancestral origins in Armenia, China, El Salvador, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Palestine, Persia, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and elsewhere. I welcome any suggestions but it would be especially great to have some that reflect the Valley identity of the last 25 years. Let me have them in the comments!

BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  >>  NEXT