Amoeblog

Checking in With Abe Vigoda

Posted by Billy Gil, February 24, 2012 10:20am | Post a Comment
abe vigodaIt’s been a pleasure to track the development and success of L.A.’s Abe Vigoda. We’ve seen them go from teens growing up in Chino reconfiguring punk and no wave to their own devices (2006’s Kid City); to making their guitars sound like steelpan drummers on a coke binge in songs like “Bear Face,” from 2008’s Skeleton; to slowing things down for cooler, sexier takes on their guitar wildness (2009’s Reviver EP); to employing coldwave and industrial influences for a gorgeous noir-pop album with 2010’s Crush.
 
Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velasquez has been a good friend for a while. (And he’s an Amoeba alumn to boot!) He’s the self-described “bossy” one of the band, which includes singer/guitarist Michael Vidal, bassist David Reichardt, and drummer/programmer Dane Chadwick. I decided to corner Jaun to talk about the band’s development and new writing sessions. The band plays the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs tonight with Dunes and the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock Sunday with Chromatics.
 
How are the writing sessions going?
Juan: It’s good. We haven’t worked on stuff in a long time. At first we were kind of just jamming around, it was kind of shaky. But we kind of have this new song going that I like. But it’s different than what I thought it was going to sound like. I don’t know, it’s really more power-poppy than I thought. It’s kind of fun!
 
When did you guys write that new song you’re performing?
Juan: That song, Michael and Dane got together and wrote the structure of it on a laptop, almost like a weird dance song. And then they showed it to us and we started working on that. That was like, God, a while ago, actually. That must have been like eight months ago or nine months ago? It was a long time, and we haven’t really worked on anything sense.
 
Do you usually write songs that way?
Juan VelasquezJuan: We usually write songs all together. We just jam together and work out the songs that way. That’s kind of how we’ve always done it. And the song that you’re referencing, that’s the only song we’ve written in that weird way, which I think we might do more of, but it felt good for all of us to get together in a traditional way and just like work on a song. So I think we’re gonna start doing a mix of both — working on songs on a computer and practice and then like mixing the songs up.
 
How do those two songs, the one Michael and Dane did and the newer one, compare?
Juan: They’re totally different. I think at least for me, because I wasn’t part of that songwriting process as much, I was part of it when we started formatting it and working it in, but they’re different just because I feel like I have more freedom to do stuff with this new song like for my own part, and before my part was already written. But it was fun to just do that, it was more like, working on the smaller details. But they’re both like a lot simpler than our older songs. So they’re both like similar pacing and like less stuff happening. Kind of like more room between all the instruments and stuff. It’s kind of like what we’re excited about — writing songs that don’t have a million parts shoved into one.

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PPM Records Celebrates 10 Years With Weekend Show

Posted by Billy Gil, November 3, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment
Post Present Medium, or PPM Records, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this weekend with a kickass show at the Smell featuring Abe Vigoda, High Places and more on Friday; Dunes, Tearist and more on Saturday; and No Age, SFV Acid and Bleached, among others, Sunday. The shows start at 7 p.m. each night, and it's 8 bucks a night.

No Age's Dean Spunt started the label in 2001, first releasing a 7” by a band called The Intima. From there, the bands PPM has released records of reads like a who's-who of breakthrough artists from the area over the past decade, including the aforementioned artists, plus such local luminaries as Best Coast, Mika Miko and Wavves. He'll release No. 50 in December and has up to No. 56 planned so far.

Spunt said there's not ruling sound for the label, given its variety, but rather it's an outlet for friends' bands and uncompromising artists, and to document the L.A. underground music scene. I asked Spunt to highlight a few landmark records from the PPM library.














PPM1 THE INTIMA 7"

Spunt: My first adventure into making records, such a good band. I probably let them down, I had no idea how to sell a record. I got the hang of it though! Find it if you can!

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Get Yer Pre-Halloween On With Tijuana Panthers

Posted by Billy Gil, October 27, 2011 06:03pm | Post a Comment
Lots of very cool shows happening this weekend for Halloween. On Halloween, Zola Jesus is playing at the Echoplex and Abe Vigoda is playing Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, with DJ sets from Air France and The Field. The day before, on Oct. 30, Tijuana Panthers take the stage at the Ukrainian Cultural Center with fellow garage rockers The Soft Pack, Thee Oh Sees and Total Control. Three-piece Tijuana Panthers, with drummer Phil Shaheen, guitarist Chad Wachtel and bassist Daniel Michicoff, play a kind of punk-influenced surf rock that shows the line from The Ventures to The Buzzcocks to Jay Reatard is a short one indeed, seamlessly combinging straightforward, clean-but-not-clean-cut guitars, alternatingly bratty and crooning vocals and old school rock-combo rhythms — check out their gorgeously bummed out "Summer Fun" below for a fine example of what they do. I took a minute to talk to Shaheen about their sound.

PST: Are you guys working on new songs yet? If so, how is the sound shaping up?
 
Shaheen: Yeah, we have steadily been coming up with new ones, playing them live at shows and then recording them. They shape up well this way, playing them live then recording has always helped us to tight'n them up. Just need to record a few more next week and we should be on our way.
 
PST: Are you guys surprised at all by the recent resurgence of bands playing garage rock and surf rock?
 
Shaheen: No, not really. It seems to come in waves, this one seems a lot larger. 
 
PST: Do you guys mind at all getting lumped in with other bands that play that kind of music? I could see it being frustrating, but also there seems to be a camaraderie among bands like you guys, Audacity and Ty Segall.
 
Shaheen: Yeah there's not a perfect fit for us there but, we get along pretty well with all those bands. Joe Walters from the Redwood Bar use to call us “Barbershop Surfpop,” I always liked that.
 
PST: One thing I feel like sets you guys apart is your vocals. They’re really great, I love that they're spread out among the members and that they’re often nice and croony, rather than full on garage all the time. Is that something you guys consciously tried to do, make sure the vocals actually sounded like real singing?
 
Shaheen: Yes. We have always kept it pretty clean for the most part. Chad croons, I whine, Daniel croons and whines.
 
PST: I lived in Long Beach for years, and I love that you guys represent it so well. It definitely captures the place somehow, although I can’t quite put my finger on how. If there’s a sound to Long Beach that you guys help embody, what do you think that is?
 
Shaheen: Long Beach has always had a pretty steady stew of counter culture, it's a port city. Maybe we rep a little piece of that.
 
PST: Do you have any favorite venues to play?
 
Shaheen: Shows that FYF put on are always rad, where ever they may be. It’s great getting to play these halls like the old timers use to.  
 
PST: What's the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?
 
Shaheen: We got to play with The Dead Milkmen at Alex's Bar in Long Beach. Seeing those guys in person was really crazy and the fact that we got to play with them blew my mind. I still can't believe that went down.
 
PST: Stock question, but what bands did you guys bond over, and who are some artists people might not expect you guys to be into?
 
Shaheen: The Dead Milkmen, Suburban Lawns, X, Circle Jerks, Link Wray, The Cramps, TSOL, Dead Kennedys, The Pyramids, Sade, Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Ian Dury.

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my top 50 albums of 2010...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 24, 2010 05:53pm | Post a Comment

ariel pink's haunted graffiti before today
#1 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti-
Before Today
(4AD)
The first time I heard this album I knew it would be at the top of my list this year. It was really just a competition the rest of the year with these other albums to see if anything could overtake it but nothing could do it. I somehow resisted the temptation of Ariel Pink the last couple of years. Before Today was clearly the album for me and a perfect introduction to this band. I just didn't know how much I would be falling in love with the band and obsessed with this album. It is like a shoegaze soft rock mash up of all the songs that you have ever loved. You simply need this album in your collection. It is simply amazing!

listen to "fright night" by ariel pink...



buy the album at amoeba.com

avi buffalo
#2 Avi Buffalo-Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop)
Oh, Avi Buffalo. I am so glad to have you in my life. Another album that I didn't really know I would love until I first listened to it. These guys are crazy young and ridiculously talented. The album is one of the perfect little pop gems of the year and I really couldn't stop listening to it for months. Seeing them open up for My Morning Jacket at the Greek was one of my favorite shows of the year. I was first drawn to them because they were from my hometown of Long Beach, but I fell in love with the album as soon as I heard it. It is addictive. This album will stay with me forever and forever connect me to my great year that was 2010.

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