In the spirit of Amoeba Hollywood’s new Punk section, I’ll post about Sacramento hardcore band Trash Talk and the first video, “F.E.B.N.,” from its upcoming album Odd Future Records, 119, on Oct. 9. Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator directed this bit of black-and-white mayhem in some sort of parking garage. Everything about this music/video is probably upsetting to lots of people. Which means of course that it’s pretty great. The song is less than two minutes long and somehow builds unbearable anticipation in its extended intro — all you want to do is turn it up and face the noise you’re about to hear head on.
Army Navy – World’s End video
L.A. indie pop band Army Navy have a video for the song “World’s End.” I had never listened to this band before; I only knew I might like them because their band name shares a name with a Camera Obscura album. And I do! The song is really nice, kind of sounds like “Blue Bayou” but is less dramatic, more morose, and there’s a key change, which I am a sucker for. The video is awesome for a number of reasons — it’s an old fake talk show, which is a done premise but is done funnily here, as this bizzaro, kind of bleak ’60s swinger thing, and features Freaks & Geaks’ Martin Starr, who I had no idea could be kind of sexy. The singer also kind of looks like Steve Carell. You have to watch it on Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com; I guess this band is getting pretty big. The song appears on a seven-inch with a B-side cover of Yaz’s “Only You,” which is awesome, duh. Their new album is due early next year.
L.A. band White Arrows released their awaited debut album Dry Land Is Not a Myth earlier this summer. Songs like “Roll Forever” and “Coming or Going” hit hard and take off before floating through a summer cloud on the band’s throbbing beats, spacey vocals and swirling electronics. For a party rock record you won’t hate yourself for liking, look no further.
I spoke with frontman Mickey Church a bit before the band’s performance at FYF Fest, taking place at L.A. State Historic Park Sept. 1-2 — that’s this weekend, people. They’re playing at 12:30 p.m. on the main stage on Saturday, so get there early to check them out. You can see the full schedule, announced this week, at the show’s official site. And tickets are still available at Amoeba. Buy them here so you’re only charged at $4 service fee; check here for a full list of available concert tickets at Amoeba, although you can always ask and we may just have what you’re looking for. Enough plugs, onto the White Arrows interview:
PST: You guys have played live now for years all over the place and just now settled down to make your first album. Was it the kind of thing where stuff just started taking off and you got wrapped up in all the touring and festival shows and whatnot, or did you just want to give it time to develop your sound and figure out how and what to record for your first album?
Church: We've been a band for about two years now, and we did an EP, a 7-inch, a couple of covers and some remixes for people. Then it just got busy with touring ... we’ve been out now a number of times. Our first tour was with Cults, then we did a West Coast run with Those Darlins, a full U.S. tour with The Naked and Famous, Northern Europe with White Denim. These were all amazing tours that we couldn't turn down, so we’ve been very fortunate to have had those opportunities to tour the world, and now finally after two years of work, we’ve put out our debut full-length. In hindsight, we definitely didn’t have any idea of what direction we were headed, so it was good that we took that time to grow as a band.
PST: How did the band form? Mickey, you were writing songs all along, how did that change when the rest of the band came into play?
Church: Now it’s more collaborative. Andy (Naeve, keys) and I wrote all the songs on the record, but my brother, Henry (Church, drums), and JP (Caballero, guitar) played on the record. These are the first recordings with live drums, and all sorts of the other stuff that weren’t accessible to me when I first started writing.
PST: Having seen the band play live and hearing old recordings, it’s been a pretty intense evolution to the sound of the album. Can you talk a little bit about how the sound developed?
Church: Ah man, those old, old recordings were never meant to be heard ... ha. They were just demos that I gave away for free before I had any intention of being in a band, or trying music for a full time gig. Our first official release I consider it the 7-inch with “Get Gone” and “Save Me a Place on it.”
PST: In particular I remember hearing “Coming or Going” and thinking, this sounds a lot different! A lot more electronic, and a much more fun feel. The songs are pretty densely layered too. How did you decide what to edit and change as you went along?
Church: I don't know if it was conscious of specifics as to what to change, as much as just wanting it to go in that general direction. We worked with Remix Artist Collective (RAC) on that song as a precursor to see if it would be a good fit for him to produce the record, or at least some song son the record, and it was a perfect fit, I think.
PST: It’s very tempting to compare your upbringing, in which you were visually impaired and experienced things in an “impressionistic smear,” to the sound of the album, where things cut through sharply and then get more impressionistic. Like how “Roll Forever” starts so balls-out and has those penetrating riffs throughout, but also these lush verses. Is that something you try to do with your music?
Church: No, it’s not intentional. You just start with one rough idea and keep smoothing it out, and adding and subtracting things until hopefully you have something you're satisfied with.
PST: And speaking of your background, can you talk a bit about your degree in Ritualistic Shamanism and if/how your studies affected the music you were writing?
Church: When I went to school I was assigned an advisor, and it just so happened that he taught a course called Shamanistic Ritual. He encouraged me to take his class to get to him, and so I did. He showed up 30 minutes late to the first class, and was covered in dust with a flashlight on his head, and doctors mask around his mouth; and said, “True story, true story, I just got back from burning man. Janis Joplin was in eagle form flying over the RV the entire way.” Naturally, my mind was blown. Coming from a high school where I had no choice in electives, and got suspended for my hair being to unruly, or my shirt not being tucked in, it drew me to such left of center studies.
PST: One of my favorites on the album is “I Can Go.” I love the riffs and melodies but also those flutes at the chorus are just killer. It sort of transforms this more straightforward rocker on the album to have this otherworldly, nostalgic quality. With something like that song, or say the loping piano riff on “Golden,” do you usually start with a guitar-based song and then add those details, or do you get those ideas at the same time?
Church: Every song almost starts with something different. A piano line, guitar line, drum beat, synth sound, or bass line ... since we don't write in a live setting you kind of just lay something down and build off of that. “I Can Go” started with that guitar line you hear in the verses, and “Golden” started with that tinkering little piano melody and a drum bit
PST: Are you guys playing in LA again around FYF?
Church: I don’t think so, but we never really turn down house parties, so something usually comes up.
FYF Fest released set times for this weekend's festival in downtown LA. Download the pdf version to help plan your days (and get damp in your sweaty pockets). Still don't have tickets? Get 'em while you can at Amoeba Hollywood! They're $89 +$4 fee and you can pay with cash or credit card.
Redd Kross have been the quintessential underground band for the past three decades. The band has nearly always eschewed both pop and indie convention by staying true to its sound, likely angering as many pop fans with its snottiness and random references to Tatum O’Neil and Shonen Knife as they would indie purirsts with its insistence on lacing its acidic songs with undeniable pop hooks.
From Hawthorne, Calif. and based around the duo of brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald, Redd Kross first released music in 1980 with a self-titled EP, after opening for Black Flag as teenagers for its first gig. Other musicians came and went as the band released records throughout the ’80s and ’90s, hitting their stride with 1987’s Neurotica and 1990's Third Eye. Following 1997’s Show World, the band all but disappeared, with its members occasionally surfacing for other projects — Steve McDonald famously added bass parts to The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells, redubbing it Redd Blood Cells, which saw thousands of downloads and press hubbub. The brothers McDonald separately produced albums by other artists as well.
The elusive band returned in 2006 to play a set at REDCAT in Los Angeles covering the band’s entire catalog, featuring the Neurotica-era lineup of the McDonalds, Robert Hecker and Roy McDonald. They toured and played a killer set of the entire Born Innocent album opening for Sonic Youth, who played all of Daydream Nation (I was there! Yessss.), at the Greek Theater in L.A. In 2008 they played Coachella, among numerous other festivals and appearances over the past few years. Now, finally, Redd Kross have released an album of new material, entitled Researching the Blues. The album has seen some of the band’s best reviews, garnering an 81% on reviews aggregator Metacritic, and it’s not hard to see why, hearing the enlivened swagger the band displays on songs like the title track (download free here), while maintaining the dynamism that has always set the band apart, also including shimmering power-pop ballads like “Dracula’s Daughter” and “Winter Blues.”