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.
The Terry Malts aren’t your typical Bay Area garage band. In fact, they’re not really a garage band or a punk band—or even a typical Slumberland Records band—at all. The band’s three members—comprising singer/bassist Phil Benson, guitarist/vocalist Corey Cunningham and drummer/vocalist Nathan Sweatt, started off in jangle-rock revivalists Magic Bullets before branching off into Terry Malts, a fast-paced, fuzz-rockin’ trio that fuses Ramones-style hooks and brevity with the deep-voiced panache of Morrissey and reverbed insouciance shared with several of their labelmates. Their second album, the Neil Young-reffing Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere (on CD or LP) is another quick and dirty delight, as was their first album, last year’s Killing Time. I caught up with the band just as they were set to release Nobody, which is in stores today. (See photos from their Amoeba performance here.)
A 1980 interview with a bunch of new bands based in Auckland by the old New Zealand rock mag Rip It Up posed the question, "How would you most like the audience to react to your music?"
All the bands interviewed answered that they liked it best when the punters hit the dancefloor...except Chris Knox, the peripatetic vocalist for Toy Love. His response? "We'd rather stun them..."
Done and done. Over their all too brief two-year life, the South Island band were the best in the country by a long shot, packing pubs and slaying the hundreds of people who packed in to see them.
The band put out three singles and one LP before splitting up in late 1980. Their impact was monstrous in NZ, directly influencing the formative years of the country's premier indie label in the '80s, Flying Nun.
Brooklyn label Captured Tracks has just released a vinyl document of Toy Love's recorded output, an eponymously titled double LP comprising the best of the LPs and singles, along with other recorded material and demos. Your writer was an unabashed fanatic; I saw all but one Toy Love show in Christchurch, and a bunch at other places around the country.
Armstrong recently surprised many longtime fans when news surfaced that he and fellow former Operation Ivy member Jesse Michaels had patched up old differences to record a track together (no one expected this to happen and it is their first collaboration in over 24 years). The song "Living in a Dangerous Land" that is a 7" single for the Hellcat label and was uploaded to YouTube (check below) on Friday (7/12) features Armstrong under his Tim Timebomb moniker and it is the latest in the Tim Timebomb and Friends series.. Meanwhile as a member of The Transplants Armstrong last month released that group's latest album In A Warzone. To win tickets from Amoeba for the Rancid/Transplants show in SF and LA enter here. But do it now as today (7/15) is the last day. Must be 18+ and only one entry per person allowed.
Sam Vincent was a talented chef and musician who tragically passed in 2011. The Sam Vincent Foundation carries on his passion by working with at-risk youth in the culinary arts.
Get your tickets HERE!