I interviewed performer Julia Holter a while back, last year when she played at Amoeba Hollywood upon the release of her album, Ekstasis. Now the CalArts-bred experimental pop artist is back with a new album, Loud City Song (available on CD or LP), and it’s one of the year’s best, combining cerebral electro-pop and neo-classical orchestration, with a piano-based, singer-songwriter heart. Read our conversation below about Joni Mitchell, TLC and the vastness of L.A. Make sure to check out Loud City Song and see photos from her performance here.
Me: Were you always able to sing growing up, and who were some of your singing idols?
Holter: I didn’t sing much until I was—well I sang in secret—and when I was like 15, I started listening to Joni Mitchell a lot, like her later stuff that’s really cool, not just the early, folk stuff, but the weirder stuff.
In honor of the upcoming Record Store Day 2013, I decided to make a list of 20 records I think everyone should own on vinyl. Take this Record Store Day to build a nice foundation for your record collection. I picked this list based on pretty arbitrary criteria, including what critics generally think are great, what I think is great, what I think particularly sounds good on analog-warm vinyl, and what you won’t have to pay $100 for or scour for (e.g. no hard-to-find ’90s vinyl or things out of print). I also left it to one album per artist. These aren't in any particular order. Send any omissions to this list to email@example.com. Or just leave a comment!
In my mind, The White Album is the greatest Beatles album, but you can’t beat the utterly perfect one-disc punch of Revolver. It should go without saying that every Beatles album is essential and is worth owning on vinyl yadda yadda, but if you have to start somewhere, do it here. Their catalog was recently reissued on vinyl in stereo mix, so you should have no trouble finding them if you’re just starting out — and you should have no trouble finding quality replacements, if your old Beatles LPs are worn out.
Of interest to anyone into rock albums from the seventies and of particular interest to folks in LA into recent era history is the excellent collection of Billboards on Sunset Blvd 1974-5 flickr page by Larry The Frog that features photos of billboards shot in those two years of the mid 1970's along Sunset Blvd. in the vicinity of the Hollywood Amoeba store. The majority of these shots are ones advertising new album releases or concert dates from such acts as Poco, Loggins & Messina, Barbi Benton, Donovan, The Who, War, Joni Mitchell, Billy Preston, Neil Sedaka, Greg Allman, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mahogeny Rush, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Rolling Stones, George Harrison, The 5th Dimension, Steppenwolf, Rick Derringer, and many more.
These great shots were all photographed by Larry The Frog when he lived a block off the Sunset Strip back in the 70's.and were recently lovingly restored by the photographer utilizing photoshopping from scanned 35mm slides and negatives. There are over a hundred shots in this engaging collection that, like rummaging through the old 70's album dollar bins at Amoeba, will unveil a whole bygone era - only better than merely album cover art since they also capture the time and place so well. View the full collection here.
I drank too much wine last night. I ate too much cake, and too much food in general. I stayed up too late and had too much caffeine. So how come the amount of fun I had was just right?
The boyfriend and I threw a small dinner party last night. Because I love to cook, I enjoy the preparation of dinner parties sometimes more than the event itself (which wasn’t the case last night, but I’ll admit I’ve sweated over a meal for days only to provide it to its intended guests, then wished I could hide upstairs with some hummus and carrot sticks and original Star Trek.)
Catering provided by Play-doh
Last night’s meal consisted of curried vegetable pasties, asparagus with nutmeg hollandaise, and a raspberry-chocolate flourless cake with homemade whipped cream. Naked ladies dancing with abandon beneath a decaying Sun*. I was most proud of the cake. You know how sometimes you’ll taste a dessert and you immediately feel that you’re doing something so wrong but it feels so right? I guess the word is sinful. You’re stomach screams “This is blasphemy!” but your taste-buds whimper, “Do it again…!” (If you’re interested, I’ve included the recipe below.)
Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" summed up the KUSF FM situation
I always appreciate when people utilize relevant song lyrics to reinforce a point they are making. Hence I enjoyed, during Saturday's heated Saving College Stations panel discussion on the last day of the NFCB's (National Federation of Community Broadcasters) 36th Annual Community Radio Conference in the Fillmore suite of the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco, when panelist Dorothy Kidd, quoted and gave props to Joni Mithcell's 1970 song "Big Yellow Taxi." "You don't know what you got til its gone," said the Save KUSF advocate & University of San Francisco (USF) media studies professor quoting the song's famous lyrics in reference to how she, as a listener/fan of the beloved SF college radio station, felt in the weeks and months since January 18th when 90.3FM got the plug pulled on it by her bosses at USF.
"We don't need technocrats to come in and control our station," continued the articulate and ever vigilant Kidd, who as a panelist at last month's SF Music Tech Summit similarly spoke out against the actions of the USF administrators. At Saturday's panel however she was directing her comments at fellow panelist (and seeming target of the entire discussion) Marc Hand of PRC (Public Radio Capital) out of Denver, CO whose company was instrumental in brokering the deal that paved the way for KUSF FM's demise.
Another panelist was WFMU New Jersey station manager Ken Freedman, one of the Save KUSF organization's biggest allies, who point blankly asked Hand how he could broker such a deal which he knew in his heart was just plain wrong and detrimental to the community's needs. Freedman was referring to the demise of KUSF and such other stations as KTRUFM - the Rice University radio station in Houston, TX that two months ago similarly had the plug pulled on it following a PRC brokered deal. Panelist Duane Bradley, of Pacifica station KPFT, Houston, spoke on behalf of KTRU and noted that how Rice University's lame excuse for getting rid of the popular Houston college station after 40 years on the air was that they "needed the space to build a new cafeteria." Bradley also made the excellent point of how, when a volunteer run college or community radio station like KTRU or KUSF goes away for good, so too does the combined pool of irreplaceable resources of music programmers who are extremely knowledgeable of and passionate for the music they specialize in - so much so that they do it all for free.