Los Angeles has sure changed.
Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.
When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.
Los Angeles has sure changed.
But what really gets me about Seasons is the passion they clearly put into each song. Through their three released “season” EPs — Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn, the last one just released this month — Seasons aren’t afraid to change things up sonically or thematically. So what you get is a landscape painting of a band across its releases rather than a portrait. Though overall I might classify the music as epic spacefaring rock of the variety you don’t see too often these days — Slowdive, Smashing Pumpkins and, more recently, The Arcade Fire come to mind — there’s also a strong twee vibe running throughout, echoing Sarah Records and C86 bands, not to mention an electro streak that keeps things vibrant.
The band consists of longtime friends who like to go by their first names — John sings and plays guitar and keys; Nik does the same; Adam plays bass and guitar; Erik plays drums; Ray handles beats, keys and bass; and Kaitlin, violin and vocals. During the day, these people occupy such various jobs as teacher, florist, Trader Joe’s team member and Grammy Museum usher.
In the summer of 2006, they came up with the idea to do a set of EPs each with a mood to set the tone for feelings that arise during a particular season.
“We let the climate changes and the way people and ourselves reacted to each season inspire us to write each one, with the intention of releasing them when we were finished even if they season they were written in was over,” John explains.
The Autumn EP begins with “Monday Night” (available as a free download), a lighthearted danceable ode to getting up and out at the beginning of the work week — which, by the way, you should do tonight and/or next Monday to see the band play at the Echo as part of its January residency. The EP continues with the strings-and-bells laden yet hard-charging “These United States,” which nicely features singer Nik's growling, yearning vocals. The EP’s closer, “Lazy Bones,” is sort of meat-and-potatoes Seasons, a six-minute-plus psychedelic heart-on-sleeve power ballad. Meanwhile, “Number of the Beat” is their most outward flirtation with dance music thus far, although its striking violin playing still lands it firmly in orchestral pop territory.
This blog entry's focus is the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. To vote for more Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of future entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here. Please vote for as many as interest you!
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Northeast LA and Highland Park
Roberto Reies Flores' Highland Park Tongva mural - The People of the Earth
EARLY ARROYO HISTORY
Danza Azteca on Cypress & Roseview
The Grand Marshal was an Elvis Impersonator
Bike Riders: The new people in the barrio wanted to be a part of the parade and to push their agenda
about getting people not to drive their cars and ride their bikes instead. They asked the people watching the parade to join them in a bike ride. Nobody did except the neighborhood loco who rides his bike all day cause he's got nothing better to do. Everyone in the neighborhood knows this guy is crazy, but nobody told them. We all just snickered.
Tamborazos in the back of a truck. A horse follows them.
I'm not too big on parades. I usually avoid them at all costs, but since it was right outside my door, I figured I'd check it out. The parade seemed a bit unorganized and thrown together last minute. However, it was cool to hang with my neighbors and scream out a few "Que Viva Mexico!"s. Once the Victory Outreach float came by, I figured it was time to go home. Born-again Christians with megaphones wasn't really my idea of a Cinco De Mayo celebration. Besides, I was doing laundry.
The people behind saveourtacotrucks.org have organized Taco Truck Night on May 1st. On that day, they encourage people to spend their money at their local taco truck and to raise awareness of the bill. Also on the site is a petition that you can sign in support of the taco trucks.
A taco truck to many is more that just a place to get tacos. It is a part of the community, a place to meet, gossip and pick up some food after a hard working day when you’re too tired to cook. If you don’t eat meat, most trucks can accommodate you if you are polite about it. Some of the best dishes I’ve had at a taco truck were of the non-meat variety. All you have to do is ask.
Behind this ruling are restaurants that blame the trucks for their lack of business. Having tried many Mexican restaurants all over the city, I feel that most restaurants should put the blame on their own menu rather than the taco trucks, especially in L.A. where people will pay a little more for a better product. It’s the same thing Amoeba experienced when it first opened. Many local record stores tried to blame their misfortunes on the presence of Amoeba without looking at themselves and the dump they called a record store. Yeah…I said it!