“Fever is about avant-garde disco, auditory illusions, garage dub tronica, theatrical, ethereal pop, just forward-thinking weird dance music that's almost unclassifiable,” she says.
Feuer is the executive editor of LA Record, which since 2005 has ably documented the LA music scene. Fever is just the latest bit of fun from the Cal Arts grad, who also runs The New L.A. Folk Festival, which puts on shows featuring new folk weirdness around the Los Angeles area, including The New LA Folk Fest, the latest of which takes place Aug. 4 at Zorthian Ranch in Altadena.
Feuer says her roots are in dance music, having grown up in Florida, but acquired a taste for experimental, psychedelic music experiences while living in California. The aim of Fever is to create a space where the two can live simultaneously, finding a middle place between underground and above ground, she says.
“I like music that makes me want to shake my tailfeather but also stirs up my brain,” Feuer says. “I’m really interested in creating experiences. I want people to let loose like children yet also perceive this as conceptual art.”
The night involves not only music performances, but also art installations, performance and video art, DJs, confetti, souvenirs, party favors, costumes and toys. Thus far, Fever has involved local talent (musical and otherwise) such as Thelma Houston & Janitor, Busdriver, Pharaohs, Nite Jewel, Hecuba, Dreamers, Butchy Fuego, Moomaw, Young Adults, Diva, PDA, Mor Elian, Alia Penner, Future Eyes, Gifted & Blessed and Captain Ahab. Feuer hopes to open the night to travelling artists and more nights than just one Tuesday a month at Los Globos.
This particular evening is exciting for a number of reasons. First of all, LA Vampires put on an insane show. You can even read all about when they opened for Zola Jesus last year in my review of that show. High Places I’ve also seen a number of times, and their shows and records just get more and more entrancing — can’t wait for their new record, Original Colors, which is set to come out in October on Thrill Jockey. I like the idea of this paring, the cerebral beats of High Places with LA Vampires’ visceral take. Plus, Sodapop from local underground hip-hop label Anticon will be DJing at 10, and I’ll be DJing with Feuer between sets. What could be better than that!
Chelsea Wolfe – "Flatlands"
Chelsea Wolfe has a new, all-acoustic album due in October on Sargent House. Here’s the first track, a spare and haunting departure from the more densely layered, dark folk you’ll find on 2011’s Apocalypsis. The track features Andrea Calderón on violin, Ezra Buchla on viola and Ben Chisholm also on guitar.
John Maus – "Bennington"
John Maus’ We Must Become the Pitless Censors of Ourselves was a fun trip through the sort of cerebral art pop of Klaus Nomi or Kraftwerk but with goofy lyrics and sturdy hooks. “Bennington” is no different, boasting a raunchy synth groove and lyrics like “I miss those funky eyes.” A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material, collecting 16 tracks recorded over the past decade or so, is slated to come out July 17 on Ribbon Music. He’ll be at FYF Fest Sept. 1 (tickets go on sale at Amoeba today at 5!). I never realized what a babe John Maus is till today.
This year is turning out to be a good one for Allah-Las. This week saw the announcement that the L.A.-based band, who weave strains of ’60s Nuggets-style garage rock with ’80s Paisley Underground jangle and au currant surf rock swagger, would be releasing their self-titled debut album Sept. 18 on Innovative Leisure. Additionally, Allah-Las were announced as part of the FYF Fest lineup this week, taking place Sept. 1-2. And the band also is playing this weekend at Moon Block Party in Pomona Saturday June 23.
Allah-La's debut album was recorded at the Distillery Studio, a Costa Mesa-based haven for analog recording, and was produced by label mate and local rock hero Nick Waterhouse. The band, which consists of bassist Spencer Dunham, singer/guitarist Miles Michaud, guitarist Pedrum Siadatian and drummer/singer Matt Correia, already has released a video for the album cut “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind),” a jangly powerhouse that calls to mind Them’s garage classic “Gloria,” but relaxed instead of manic, resplendent in its analog sheen and laid-back cool.
I checked in with Dunham, a fellow South Bay native, to ask about the new album and what it was like for 3/4 of the band to work together at Amoeba.
PST: Has it been difficult to capture the exact sound you've been looking for on record?
Dunham: We tried recording a bunch of ways with different people but were never really satisfied until we went to the Distillery.
PST: What has recording with Nick Waterhouse and at the Distillery afforded the band in terms of sound and direction?
Dunham: Nick grew up in Orange County and has known the owner, Mike, since he was about 16. Mike loves to tinker with weird electronics to create one-of-a-kind instruments and effects, like microphones that go through record player needles. Sometimes those kind of things can be very complicated and time consuming, so it was really helpful to have two people working together to set up strange reverb tracks and whatnot.
PST: Can you talk a bit about working at Amoeba and how that affected the formation of the band and development of its sound? And what did you do while working at the store?
Dunham: Pedrum, Matt and I all used to work upstairs in the warehouse as “case switchers,” which is where you take bins of used CDs and put them in fresh jewel cases. You get a CD player and a hold box and basically just listen to music all day. It's pretty mundane work, but you get to see a lot of unusual albums, and we were all exposed to a lot of new music.
PST: In addition to the screaming girls and whatnot, have you had a lot of older “Nuggets” fans and people like that be into you guys? Have you had any particularly strange fan experiences so far?
Dunham: We definitely have a healthy contingency of garage fans, but our main audience remains American Apparel models. Not too many strange fan experiences yet, but Patrick Campbell Lyons from the ’60s band Nirvana (UK) befriended us after hearing our old radio show on KXLU a while back.
PST: I was never really that into the punk and stuff that a lot of other kids from the South Bay were into. Were you guys always attracted to more of the rock n roll stuff compared to what the area is known for? Were you exposed to it by parents, older siblings etc.?
Dunham: I used to listen to punk and it will always have a place in my heart, but in high school we mostly listened to a lot of classic rock: Hendrix, Who, Rolling Stones etc. We also used to hang around Scooter’s, which was a legendary Hermosa Beach record store owned by Uncle Tim, who hosts my all time favorite radio show, “The Bombshelter,” on KXLU. His shop was about the size of a closet, and while the majority of it catered to the punk scene, he also kept an eclectic selection of rock and got us turned onto stuff like The Velvet Underground and early Moody Blues.
PST: Can you give me a top five garage rock and paisley underground list of records you're particularly fond of?
Dunham: Here's a mix of classics and current jams:
The Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip
I’m a big fan of garage rock but not necessarily of its sometimes limiting factors — guitars and vocals have to have just enough care balanced with slop, that sort of thing. So it’s nice to hear a couple of great up-and-coming albums from bands who subscribe to garage rock aesthetics but not “surf rock fun times” generic modes. King Tuff’s self-titled album is a real riot, from its opening track “Anthem,” which delivers perfectly delivered riffery the likes of which is pretty rare these days. Along with like-minded peers Ty Segall and the late Jay Reatard, King Tuff write songs first and foremost, and the ground covered here becomes more apparent upon repeat listens, which isn’t hard to do with an album that’s this much fun to listen to. “Alone & Stoned” has terrific ascendant vocal lines and a cool ’80s vibe under its garage veneer. “Unusual World” is a touching garage ballad that doesn’t shy away from varying its instrumentation, with synths and vibes adding nice touches to Tuff’s Marc Bolan-esque delivery. What I’m most taken with on King Tuff is that it delivers catchy garage pop tunes while refusing to adhere to one tempo and one sound like so many albums of a similar ilk. My personal favorite: the Vaselines-ish “Stupid Superstar.”
Along those same lines, I really can’t get enough of Grass Widow’s Internal Logic. Starting off with its lo-fi sci-fi opener “Goldilocks Zone,” Internal Logic is a perfect example of a band perfectly executing a much-missed particular sound while adding its own peculiar flair of cool nerdy girl chic. Not to be limiting, but the album in some ways plays like a master class in post-punk girl bands: the multiple harmonic voices of Stereolab; the out-of-step tempos of Kleenex and ESG and their progeny, like Erase Errata and Electrelane; and off-kilter charm of bands like The Breeders. Fun and clever without biting off more than it can chew, Internal Logic pretty much leaves me with a smile on my face from start to finish.
Last but not least, I hope the new Liars album doesn’t get lost in the shuffle ‘cause WIXIW is every bit as good as their previous few releases, in my mind. Thought it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Drum’s Not Dead, I’m digging this new, quieter yet just as paranoid edition of Liars. WIXIW is pop in the way the Silver Apples or Portishead’s Third are pop, equal parts sinister and beautiful, with a throbbing heart underneath its digital beats. “Octagon” is disturbing, atonal at parts, yet its whole is instantly memorable, sticking mean hooks into you that feel better than they should. “No. 1 Against the Rush” sends goth down the autobahn, playing out like a krautrock variation on The Cure’s “A Forest.” WIXIW has been compared to Radiohead’s Kid A, and, listening to the title track — which disintegrates eerily under waves of oscillators and comes pulsing back for a haunting chanted chorus — it’s not hard to see why.