Deerhoof played a typically destructive set at the Troubadour in West Hollywood last night, starting off with tracks from their excellent new album, La Isla Bonita. Satomi Matsuzaki irrepressibly chanted to the cute “Paradise Girls” (“Girls…who play the bass guitar!”) and skronky “Last Fad” (“Baseball is cancelled!”) while John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez braided sneaky guitar lines around her. “Exit Only” sounded a lot fiercer live, while drummer/madman Greg Saunier traded instruments with Matsuzaki for La Isla Bonita’s pulsating, chaotic closer, “Oh Bummer.” A well-selected sprinkling of older material meshed well with the newer stuff, from the crashing “Dummy Discards a Heart” (from Apple O’) to the thumping “Twin Killers” (from The Runners Four) and riff-stuffed “Fresh Born” (from Offend Maggie). Saunier’s drumming remains a barely contained tornado to which the rest of the band somehow hangs on; the band stays tight even when he flies off the rails, making everything exciting, unpredictable and yet always masterful. Matsuzaki let loose for insane closer “Come See the Duck” (from the Green Cosmos EP), goading the audience into an off-beat call-and-response of “Come! Come! Come see the duck!” and teasing us when we got it wrong. Who can guess how 12 albums and 20 years in, Deerhoof are as energetic and thrilling to experience as ever. If you’re in S.F., they’re at the American Music Hall tonight with Crystal Skulls and Go Dark. Don’t miss it.
For an artist who was essentially just releasing her first LP, Jhene Aiko certainly came across as a star when she performed at Amoeba Hollywood Sept. 10.
Aiko, of course, is not unknown; she has guested on numerous hip-hop tracks, perhaps most notably singing the heartfelt opening to Drake’s “From Time,” off of one of the biggest albums of the past couple of years. Still, despite her apparent rolodex of big-name artists, Aiko herself has remained curiously in the shadows.
Until now, that is. Her first full-length LP, Souled Out, is an elegant collection of breathy L.A. soul with just the right hip-hop touch. It’s an album that puts her front-and-center, unlike her .sailing soul(s). mixtape and Sail Out EP, which drew on such high-profile guest stars as Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. This time, save for a last-minute guest spot from Common, Aiko’s pretty much sailing alone. That seemed just fine with the line of fans who stretched around the block at Amoeba for the chance to see her:
I was curious to hear how Spoon’s sonically brilliant new album would come across live. Though they’ve always been a solid, rhythmically interesting band, producer David Fridmann gave the band an extra something special on this new album that made them really come alive on record.
Live, the album’s varied songs really popped, from the workmanlike “Rent I Pay” to the thumping yet introspective “Inside Out.” Clearly, the band is as enamored of their new songs as are critics, as the band counted off songs gleefully and seemed to up the volume of the groove every time for maximum impact.
Though they’re an engaging live band, Spoon are also knob twiddlers at heart, and by the third song, the space-Motown of “Rainy Taxi,” their sound had been perfected, erupting into a noise break at the end. Britt Daniels was reliably on throughout, his gritty vocals cutting through a loud mix.
It was great to hear the band bust out “I Turn My Camera On” (from 2005’s Gimme Fiction), the song’s carefully cultivated beat serving as a nice counterpoint to their noisier new material, as well as the comparable “Small Stakes” (from 2002’s Kill the Moonlight). The songs served as a reminder of Spoon’s many strong albums—remember the Beatlesesque “Don't Make Me a Target,” from 2007’s excellent Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga? It sounded great, even if Daniels seemed frustrated for a moment while on his knees wailing on the guitar (funny, since he could just stand still, looking and sounding perfect and people would be happy).
Screenshots via YouTube
Robyn & Royksopp absolutely tore it up for a sold-out, double-headliner bill at the Hollywood Bowl last night. The pair were promoting their new collaborative mini-album, Do It Again, and while that album is plenty terrific and they did play songs from it, both acts also made good with the hits, and Robyn played a couple of rare and/or new songs.
Royksopp played a set healthy with songs from their earlier albums (such as A.M.’s “Eple” and “Poor Leno”) and perhaps understandably with fewer tracks from their most recent album, Senior, a darker and instrumental affair compared with the flashing lights and high-profile guest spots of 2009’s companion album, Junior. The songs from that album sounded fantastic here, with a guest singer standing in nicely for The Knife/Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer Andersson (no terrifying mask, though) on Junior highlight “This Must Be It.” It sounded fantastic, though perhaps a bit subdued, but that may have been due to me having nosebleed seats.
Kan Wakan's sound on their recent Moving On album, a stew of stirring strings, classic rock organs, gleaming guitarwork and sensual vocals, seemed like it would be difficult to pull off in a live setting. But my first time seeing the band, June 18 at the store, showed just how skilled the band is at taking a heady and heavily orchestrated sound and making it work live. Beginning with cool polyrhythms and arpeggiating synths, singer Kristianne Bautista's vocals sounded husky and soulful one second, lilting the next, reminiscent of Bjork in their elasticity. Kan Wakan's sound is decidedly not small, playing as a seven-piece and creating grandiosity with surging crescendos, bells and tribal drums. Their songs sway and move, sultry and mysterious, oceanic amid surging guitars and crashing cymbals. The overall effect and intention seems to me to stir something up in you rather than smack you upside the head with something catchy, a nice antidote to the flood of overly excitable indie pop bands in L.A. Bautista's vocals were sometimes muffled by all the sci-fi synths and other craziness but would come through loudly every so often with a breathy forcefulness. For a band that trades in atmospherics and post-rock vibes, live, they're as gripping as a punk band.
See more photos from the show here.