Slam A Stack of Holiday Cheer with the Yule Logs!

Posted by Kells, December 9, 2011 02:30pm | Post a Comment

It's the most wonderful time of the year! 'Tis the season for the
Yule Log's holiday tour-a-thon which also means that the 7th annual anything-goes seasonal revue "Christmas is the BEST!" - going down this Sunday, December 11 at Amnesia SF with hosts Uni & her Ukelele and Dr. Trucker, with the Yule Logs headlining the gig. I borrowed a Log or two for a fleeting yet intriguing interview - do read on, below:

So, three albums of supercharged holiday classics and bangin' original seasonal material in three years - fuck yeah! How do you guys do it? I'm beginning to suspect you guys contract elves in the arctic circle to assist in your bringing Christmas to the kids on time each year. 

Yule Logs: It takes a steady drug regiment. It may have been noted once before, but the "snow juice" we use to fuel our snow machine is actually a highly toxic off-brand of moonshine and ammonia, which we huff with vigorously through a Polish flag before each show.  
What's the story behind your new no-holds-barred holiday hit "WrestleMania Christmas"? Does it have anything to with this video?

YL: Believe it or not the song is based on a true story. When I was six years old I desperately wanted WrestleMania for Nintendo, as I was obsessed with the WWF. Christmas day at my Gram's house I began snooping under the tree till I found what I was certain was a video game, and tore part of the wrapping to be sure. Indeed it was WrestleMania. But then I had something of a freak-out, and decided that instead of being caught red-handed, I would take the present out to the backyard and bury it in the dirt. Later that evening as our entire family was opening presents, my Gram confusedly said something to the effect of, "Jacob, I think you're missing a present." I tried to play it off, ran out back and unearthed WrestleMania. I then brought it back inside and promptly began to weep like the child that I was. 

While we're on the subject of Wrestlemania I have to know: who are your all-time favorite wrestelers? Or: which WWF superstar best/most embodies Christmas spirit? (I vote Ravishing Rick Rude, but that's just me - I have a veritable laundry list of personal reasons. Randy Savage is a close runner up).
Wow. That's a tough question. My all-time favorite wrestlers were Rowdy Roddy Piper and Razor Ramon, neither of whom embody the Christmas spirit, though Piper's kilt was pretty festive. If I had to pick a WWF X'mas Ambassador I'd probably go with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, simply because he had his 2x4 on the pulse of America, only in a ham-fisted, barbaric sort of way, which pretty much sums up Christmas as we know it. 
Another standout jam from You Ruined Christmas is your full-on Hanukkah rocker "Rock of Ages" - how is it that you guys keep slam-dunking hit after hit (nothin' but net) honoring the Festival of Lights?

The credit for "Rock Of Ages" (and all our Hanukkah jams) goes to Spencer. He's got a knack for being able to write pop-rock songs that embody different genres entirely. My brother actually told me that "Rock Of Ages" reminds him of Reggie and The Full Effect, which I get, and only goes to show how versatile Spencer, who considers himself something of a Who man, can be.  
The song "Wish List" bemoans Santa "not getting the facts straight" about those unasked-for gifts, like underwear, that inevitably appear beneath the tree each year - I'm wondering what's on the Yule Logs' Christmas list this year?

Kirt penned "Wish List," and I'm going to guess that he's asking once again for those elusive slap bass lessons. Or perhaps a signed photo of Selena Gomez. I know for a fact that Marty wants the entire Vertical Horizon catalogue on cassette, and Spencer wants to somehow acquire the means to turn his 12-passenger van into a traveling fruit cart. Me? I want to go on a date with Ryan Gosling
Are there some memorable fan-made gifts you guys have received over the years?

Well, we have some very special granny panties tacked up on the wall of our practice space. The only thing is that they didn't actually come from anyone's granny. And I'm not so sure if it's technically a gift, but a man once gave us a three-ring binder filled with a plot to get us on Leno. It's replete with diagrams and skits and heartfelt zeal. I'm not kidding.

I love the jaunty, classic vibe and harmonies on your version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" - one question: can you explain why it begins, like Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," with a coughing fit (or is that just the organ warming up)?
People don't realize that Old Saint Nick actually has a lot in common with Tony Clifton, who also has a lot in common with Spencer. In fact, Spencer is Tony Clifton. A lot of people think that was Andy Kaufman, but a lot of people also listen to Linkin Park
Thinking of Sabbath has got me pondering what the Yule Logs' heaviest number is, maybe your frontier outlaw rendering "We Three Kings" from your 2009 self-titled debut takes the title though other songs like "First Christmas For Baby Jesus" definitely pack a more subtle, weighty punch. What do you think your heaviest song is? Do you find the songs carry a different weight playing them live?
Well, our darkest song is definitely "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" off Walked With A Reindeer. We did our absolute best to make it sound like a Nick Cave track, and I personally think we did a pretty decent job. As far as the songs carrying a different weight live, I think that would be up to the listener. I think we're certainly louder than most folks might expect us to be.
Dig that crazy Sam the Sham-esque hip-shaker "Athiest Serf Holiday," baby! Was this song born out of frustration concerning the holidays or what?
That song was born out of Spencer wanting to write something a little more reckless than our standard fare. We don't get to play it at every show, as it doesn't suit particular audiences. But there's no real seriousness to it; we're silly, and it gave us a great chance to incorporate anal probing into the holiday season. By the way...did you know that anal probes make great stocking stuffers?
Listening to "Bad Boy Christmas" makes me wonder who the bad boy of the band is, you know, which one of you lumps of coal have been holding out for a scolding this Christmas?

Actually we're all shameless drug fiends with powerful appetites for lust and greed. We often take turns flogging one another for no reason than to feel the joy of another man's pain. But the real bad boy? That would have to be Marty, who often pees on Spencer's beard while he's asleep. Does it matter that Spencer often sleeps on the street in a white garbage bag? Kirt doesn't think so, and neither do I. 
And "Latke Man," man, it's apparent you guys own clearly honed night moves! Is just any latke doable i.e are freezer isle latke enough to satiate your workaday latke man?
No. Only Uncle Fred's latkes will do; an exotic taste that requires you travel to the faraway isle of Alameda, California. 
Looking forward to your live show this season: any new additions to your stage set-up?
I wouldn't note any key additions to the actual setup, though the performance itself includes new wonders of savagery. For one, we've escalated the tradition of lighting Spencer's beard on fire to dousing him with gasoline and setting his entire body aflame. There's also a key moment during "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" when I leap out from behind the drums and shiv Marty in the spleen. Oh, and Kirt deep throats his headstock during every encore. It really is something to behold. 
I love that the Yule Logs play holiday programming on their TV/VCR combo during the show: any new additions to the rotation? Are there any particular highly sought-after holiday VHS tapes you're after? (Santa might be reading this)

Unfortunately we've lost two TV/VCR combos to old age in the last year. Our friend Ernie loaned us his beater after our standby bit the dust, but that old hag of a machine has done nothing but eat precious tapes. We've had a mind to hurl it at approaching cyclists on the highway, but have thus far resisted the temptation. 

I received an inquiry from a fan and frequent reader especially for the Yule Logs, she writes: what do you do with your sweaty towels after the show?

We use them for tickle-snap towel fights and then donate them to the Jesus Center

And now for another round of holiday quick-takes:

Rum balls or whiskey cakes?

Bourbon balls, actually. We just had some at a party last Sunday. 
Spruce or fir?
Fir is boss.
Frankincense or myrrh?

Neither. They're both shitty gifts.
Figgy pudding or Ziggy Stardust?

Ziggy. Marty even celebrates Hours..., which charted at no. 4 in Norway 13 years ago. 

 or Forever Lazy?

Forever Lazy is far more fashionable. Snuggies make people look like disheveled wizards. 

Shake-Weight or Shake-Weight commercial DVD?

Commercial DVD. I tried a shake-weight at a yard sale once, and it wasn't even mildly humorous. 

Chevy Chase or Bill Murray?

While I love old Chevy Chase, Bill Murray's staying power is beyond compare. 

Santa's sleigh or Santa's beard?

Beard. Santa is nothing without it. 

Nutcracker or Nativity Play?

Nativity set. They're timeless, even for heathens like me. 
Velvet stockings or thigh-high Uggs?
Velvet. The Costanza way.

Ugly Christmas sweater or Santa-suit underoos?

Everybody goes with "ugly" Christmas sweaters these days, so why not Santa underoos?

A winter wonderland or Christmas in Hawaii?

Winter wonderland. I wish to God it snowed in Chico.

At least you'll make it snow indoors again this year at "Christmas is the BEST!" I know I can't wait!

Amoebapalooza SF done Decked them Halls at Cafe du Nord!

Posted by Kells, December 8, 2011 10:42pm | Post a Comment
Right about now some of us here at Amoeba Music are probably experiencing disconcerting flash-backs of last Sunday nights' Amoebapalooza 2011 extravaganza - our annual variety show / collaborative fete wherein we Amoebites take all of our informed musical tastes and influences and toss them in in a blender with extra heaping helping of dysfunctional family sentiments and exhibitionist zeal often resulting in a veritable battle-of-the-bands whodunnit of epic proportions. For those who couldn't make it, and for those who can't remember exactly what happened, I'm here to commit all of my impressions and observations to the interwebs via personal recollection rendered threadbare by copious rum consumption. [photos by Kaitlin Layher]

First up, right on schedule, we had the elusive "powered by crystals" act Liquid Karma. Now, I know what you're probably thinking - "Liquid Karma? The all-natural plant growth stimulant?" No, silly! I'm talking about the signed-up-by-his-no-good-co-worker, one-man, guru-level experimental drone-core laptop wizard that opened Amoebapalooza 2011 - guess you had to be there, man. The only way he could've improved his performance is with the addition of a fog-machine. I really liked his senior shades.

Following Liquid Karma's wall of WTF we had the good fortune to enjoy fifteen delicious minutes of SCHNITZELKLIT - a newlywed duo performing songs like "Blue Moon" and a heart-swelling rendition of David Lynch's and Angelo Badalamenti's Fire Walk With Me slow jam "Sycamore Trees," complete with an on-hand portable tape recorder playing the sax solo to lend a true Twin Peaks air to the affair. Lovely indeed!

After that we had our very own self-styled "Jesus with a bun" Gabi Back strumming out a solid set of poignant acoustic covers what closed with an especially emotional rendition of Radiohead's "Lucky" proving that, within the span of just three brief acts, the spectrum of musical tastes and talents of our Amoeba brethren is as enthusiastic as it is expansive.

The next act in the line up took their love of George Harrison to new heights as Darkhorse: the one man/three women tribute act that featured our resident Jazz-man/Metal dude/Kate Bush enthusiast (every record store should have one) on guitar, steaming up the inside of his GH mask as he shredded his through the acoustic set accompanied by a Kaitlin, our lady of the Darkhorse tattoo on drums and vocals, with further vocal accompanyment provided by Amoeba ladies both dear and fair of voice. Everyone of them in some way sporting a likeness of Mr. Harrison. I know that sounds like kooky fun, and it totally was, but there are unfortunately no pictures the act to make true said observation. [sigh] I hope the images above, them kooky masks and Kait's Darkhorse tat, make up for it even if it's just a little bit.

What came next was a blast of
rhythmic, Hella-reminiscent sonic chaos called Shark Taint. These guys could blast the antlers off an antilope with their meditative approach to cacophonous cadence, you know, the sort of music-making that requires one to stretch out with one's feelings to accomplish. That's right, I'm referring to Jedi jams. Shark Taint are Jedi jams. Again: you had to be there.

Following Shark Taint came the always, ALWAYS, unpredictable, barely-explainable, inexcusable use of phrase and fecundity, the illusive Aqua Buddha. Clearly he missed the cosmic bus and took his act on the road for a long strange trip that I'm sure he'll never be returning from if his macaroni macrame sweater-vest and orange bermuda shorts emblazoned with pot leaf motifs are any indication. I'm pretty sure his arsenal of harmonicas and high-octane strobe light were employed as talismans to either aid or mask his true intentions: hypnosis of the entire audience. The barometer of success can prove tricky to read when it seems everyone's drinking the kool-aid.

The next act, Vanishing Breed, pretty much made my night; booze-fueled, hard n' heavy roadhouse rock, revved up and sweaty, just the way it should be. It should be noted here that the timing of the line-up had begun to run ahead of schedule allowing for Vanishing Breed to pound out another riff-heavy, proto-metal punch of American hard-rock; think Mountain meets, well, Black Mountain on account of the dual male/female vocal assult. A band that I'm definitely stoked to catch again!

Now, I find myself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to this next act, the Tree Skirts, as it is both near and dear to my heart in more ways than one: it's Christmas-y, and of course Christmas is the best, but it's also a collaboration between one of my very best friends and myself so I risk a breach of decorum when I say that while we may not be the greatest Christmas-twisted-karaoke act out there on this great green earth, we definitely don't suck. I mean, you don't have to be a genius to re-write stupid seasonal lyrics over Lady GaGa's already vapid verses in order to transform her mega-hit "Judas" into our holiday mix. The Mary Jane Girls aren't safe either; depending how you look at it "All Night Long" is basically about offering oneself to meet Santa up on the rooftop in place of milk and cookies. Our sexy holiday take on that jam basically wrote itself and that is precisely what makes us so good, er, not suck - we find a good thing and make it better i.e. so Christmas-y it leaves a stain baby!

And now, a welcome return back to our regular programming with a look back at the Soda Jerks, a hip trio lead by rock-floor dude Matthew possessing of a jangly sensibility compounded by nerdy good looks, quirky pop-rocking hooks and tricky time signatures. Another band worth checking out if you see their name in the billings! It was around this time that I remember marveling yet again at the scope of artful genius that keeps the big wheel turning back at our music mill while, at the same time, beginning to feel a little like the bar was beginning to eat me.

Just like it was meant to be, the Soda Jerks were followed by a band of similar tastes but differing flavors lead by "DVD-room" floor man Aaron under the name Windham Flat. Similarly peopled by dashing young men, Windham Flat's sound is melodic indie-rock fresh outta the garage. Yet another band I'm excited to hear play again, especially as the tight schedule allowed for only a sampling of their tunes.

Now, the last band was billed as
James Taylor Marked For Death, but they'd been rechristened The Foggs by the time they hit the stage last Sunday night - a name that rang more true to their rousing, raw tribute to the Troggs. I know they played more than a few songs but the party hit powerhouse status during their set and despite their readiness with an encore it seemed that the party was over all to early by the time the Foggs had dispersed. Then again, their dissipation only signaled that inevitable setting-in of another kind of fogginess; lets just say that it wasn't me that tried to climb into an adjacent Christmas tree lot to lay down with the evergreens because their seasonal scent was blissfully inebriating, no. I didn't rip my dress on that chain-link fence either. Nevertheless, Happy Holidays from Amoeba Music and cheers to another lively, successful Amoebapalooza everyone!

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Eagle Rock

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 9, 2010 03:21pm | Post a Comment

This entry of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog series is about Eagle Rock. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be featured in the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here.  To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Eagle Rock is a neighborhood situated in Northeast Los Angeles whose neighbors are Pasadena to the east, Garvanza to the southeast, Highland Park and Mount Washington to the south, Glassell Park to the southwest and Glendale to the West.

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Posted by Billyjam, November 10, 2009 11:05am | Post a Comment
The Apple iPod turns the big 8 today. On the morning of November 10th, 2001, Apple first began selling its original version of the iPod MP3 music player. Pictured left, that original iPod sold for $399 + tax, and was marketed as an "Ultra-Portable MP3 Music Player" that "puts 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket."

Up to that point there had been many types/brands of MP3 players around (I knew a lot of folks who favored using their MiniDiscs as MP3 players) but no company had streamlined and made an MP3 player as user friendly as Apple did with the iPod. In 2001 it came with a 5GB hard drive, coupled with the first scrolling wheel and interface on an MP3 player.

Of course, in retrospect, compared to the variety of models of iPods and other MP3 players available to us today, this prototype iPod seems both bulky and pricey in contrast. Such is the way in this fast paced, ever-changing digital age. But what is most significant about the iPod is that in eight short years, it has not only changed the fortunes of the company that manufactures it (just as Apple's next big hit, the iPhone -- almost at 45 million in unit sales -- has similarly done), but it also has altered how the world listens to and consumes music.

Immediately before its commercial release back in late 2001, the iPod was being billed as the coming "Next Generation Player" and boy, that could not have been closer to the truth, since it literally signaled the generation of music consumers to come. The iPod was largely instrumental in changing everything to do with music; from listening to it, to buying or acquiring it, to selling, sharing, & storing music, etc, from that point on. In fact, in the music business that date, November 10th, 2001, could well be considered the watershed moment that divides two eras: BiP/AiP (Before iPod and After iPod).

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California Fool's Gold -- A Southeast Los Angeles Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 28, 2009 06:52pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Southeast Los Angeles County

Introduction to Southeast Los Angeles County

One of my favorite aspects of the Southland is that there is no single, dominant center. Whereas many bemoan the region’s sprawl, I prefer to think of it as a vast, occasionally smoggy theme park, with scattered neighborhoods and cities all exhibiting their own charms just like the rides at “the happiest place on Earth.” But instead of Critter Country, Mickey's Toontown or Tomorrowland, we have the IE (Inland Empire), the Valley (the San Fernando Valley), the Eastside, the Westside, South LA, the Pomona Valley, The Harbor, the San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, the Santa Monica Mountains, Angeles Forest, the Channel Islands, Northeast LA (NELA), the Antelope Valley, Northwest County, the Verdugos, Downtown, Midtown, the Mideast Side, &c.

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