Taste of the Mideast Side -- at the Los Angeles County Store

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 8, 2014 04:00pm | Post a Comment

If there are regular readers of my column here on the Amoeblog, they've probably seen some of the hand-drawn and hand-painted maps which I include in my series of Southland explorations I call California Fool's Gold. Right now a series of new maps are on display at the Los Angeles County Store in East Hollywood. None, except the Los Feliz map, have been the subject of Eric's Blog entries yet. 

Eric Brightwell Cartography Art Show Los Angeles County Store

The Los Angeles County Store is a great retail shop which features only goods designed and manufactured in Los Angeles County. The opening has already passed but the maps can still be seen in person if you head over there soon -- the show ends on 21 September

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Mideast Side (3rd Edition)

I refer to the set of paintings as Taste of the Mideast Side -- a reference to Taste of the Eastside, a four-year-old food event which despite its name never features restaurants from the Eastside unless you clarify that you're talking about the Eastside of Central Los Angeles (aka the original Westside). By the way, there is an older pre-existing event called The Taste of East L.A. which as its name correctly suggests, features restaurants from East Los Angeles -- a neighborhood actually located in the Eastside
Anyway, here are the maps included in the show (which you can vote for me to write about here). 

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- A Hollywood Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2012 09:42pm | Post a Comment

Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 at the opening of Hells Angels at Grauman's Chinese

Hollywood is famous around the world as the one-time center of the American film industry. Although Hollywood isn't the original home of the west coast film industry (nearby Edendale in Echo Park and Sycamore Grove in Highland Park both have stronger claims to that distinction), Hollywood has for almost a century continued to serve as a metonym for that industry (and inspire portmanteaus like Bollywood, Dollywood, Ghallywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, etc); even though that most of the film industry mostly long ago abandoned the neighborhood, primarily for the San Fernando Valley. Hollywood has done an excellent job of branding though. After all, you don't have other countries referring to their film industries as "Bedendale," "Nycamore Grove", or "the Ghalley."

The Hollywood neighborhood has expertly continued to pimp its association with the American film industry that formerly called it home where the other neighborhoods did not. In Edendale, the oldest studio was torn down and is now a vacant lot where the 2 Freeway meets Glendale. The old Mack Sennet Studio where Charlie Chaplin and Keystone Cops movies were made is now a public storage facility unceremoniously tucked behind a Jack in the Box. Hollywood, on the other hand, continues to bill itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World" and adds industry-related tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was installed long after the last pieces of tinsel in tinseltown had blown over the hills.

Today there are relatively few vestiges of Hollywood's cinematic past not installed merely to attract tourists -- of the film studios, only Paramount remains. Of the major label music industry, only Capitol Records remains. The aforementioned Walk of Fame -- to me, at least -- serves primarily as a testament to the ephemeral nature of stardom. Not to be hopelessly cynical but the first time I saw the names like Bryan Adams, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Paula Abdul, I felt nothing but disinterest. However, for roughly ten million annual visitors it's presumably something terribly exciting and I honestly don't want to disparage that.

I would be very surprised, however, if much of Hollywood doesn't disappoint the celebrity or glamor-chaser because it really has little of either. Along a particularly acrid stretch Hollywood Boulevard, low-end shops hawk photos of celebrities alongside stripper-wear, I Love Lucy lunch boxes, tacky cell phone cases, novelty license plates, T-shirts and other chintz. People dressed rather unconvincingly as superheroes attempt to bully clueless tourists into tipping them for posing in pictures. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's saddened by the spectacle. 

The Soft Pack Are Back, and Saxier Than Ever

Posted by Billy Gil, August 31, 2011 12:51pm | Post a Comment
The Soft Pack were set to play Sunset Junction last weekend. That didn’t happen, but the L.A. by way of San Diego band did set up for a surprise backyard show in Highland Park with Devon Williams in an awesome D.I.Y. way that made Sunset Junction’s absence less of a bummer. With the addition of a saxophone player that also played on their upcoming new album, The Soft Pack sounded stronger and more focused than ever before, honing their garage rock into perfect-summer-day surf rock. I chatted with drummer Brian Hill about the changes the band has made over the years, from their first album, as The Muslims, to 2010’s self-titled album, to now. Bonus: Free download of "Extinction" by The Soft Pack recorded live at Amoeba.

PST: Your guys’ transition from the Muslims to The Soft Pack across the two albums saw you guys employing a cleaner sound with more hi-fi production. What can you tell me about the new recordings so far?

Hill: So far, we've got a little more than half of the new record written and recorded. We went into a nice studio again, so the hi-fi sound is still a factor. We've gotten a lot more into doing actual tricks and production as well, overdubbing a lot of cool keyboard, sax and percussion tracks. That's kind of been the coolest part for us this time around.

PST: Are you playing any of the new songs live? What are some new songs we should look for in your live sets?
Hill: Actually, the new set is going to have about six or seven new songs in it. We're trying to get them down, so they don't sound like utter garbage. Also, we'll be bringing our friend Tony out on the road with us to help play sax, keys and extra guitar. We're trying to step up our game as much as possible for the next record. You gotta keep yourself entertained as well.

PST: How complete is the new album? Do you already have a name for it?

Hill: We don't have a final name or real concept behind the new album yet. Matt, our singer, really likes the word “Flamingo,” and that might make an appearance somewhere in there. It's a great word, phonetically speaking, so I'm in. We still need to write and record maybe four tracks, but we've all been working both independently and together on the writing for this one.

PST: I really liked the song “Mexico” on the last album. Was that song sort of a diversion, or does it point to a new direction?

Hill: "Mexico” is one that I love playing. Stylistically, it was so weird to us to put that on the record at first, but now it seems like no big deal. We've come to the realization that no matter how "weird" we think we're being, we aren't that weird at all when it comes down to it. I guess it felt like a bit of a risk because it's so much more mellow than the rest of the songs. We're definitely interested in getting deeper into that territory though. Fear not though, there are riffs for days on the horizon.

PST: Explosions in the Sky still gets shit about their name. Do you guys still get bugged about having been called The Muslims?

Hill: Yes. We seriously have gotten asked why we changed our name in 99% of all interviews we've done since we became The Soft Pack. It has become a bit of a burden, but I suppose it'll always just be part of being in this band. We've now been Soft Packers way longer than we were called the Muslims, but I doubt we'll ever fully shake our checkered past.

PST: You guys came along at a time in which people were sort of done with garage rock or rock ‘n’ roll. Now it seems to be doing quite well again, at least in the underground sense. Do you guys stay aware of those kind of trends or have you just tried to do your own thing?

Hill: Garage rock has certainly become a thing again within the last couple of years. Personally, I feel like our last album was a departure from that world. Our new stuff is getting even further away from the garage sound as well. I feel like we've always been inspired by different stuff, so we try to do our own thing with whatever we write. Trends don't really inspire the output of the band, in my opinion. We like to know what's going on around us though simply as dudes who are obsessed with music.

PST: Aside from your hilarious Twitter, I found precious little about you guys online since the release of your last album. Do you guys try to go with a "less is more" approach to releasing music and making indie headlines, or was there just not much to report?

Hill: Matty, our guitarist, is responsible for about 95% of the Twitter stuff. I'll pass along the compliment (laughs). I've gotten really into posting dumb YouTube videos of guys who did too much ketamine and silly junk like that lately. For the majority of this year though, we've just been quietly writing and recording. Not too much exciting stuff to report. Certainly nothing scandalous to report either. I feel so boring (laughs). Controversy doesn't really seem to follow us. I guess that's a relief. We might make some videos with the remainder of the year and hopefully do some cool stuff that will keep people (and ourselves) entertained.

PST: For the last album, you guys did a rash of shows all over the area, including at local record stores. Any such plans in the works for the next album?

Hill: I really want to figure out a way to outdo the 10 shows in one day. Sean Carlson is the idea man behind that event, so we'll hit him up again, I'm sure. Whatever it involves, I hope nobody dies.

Upcoming Soft Pack tour dates:

-Aug. 31
Cellar Door
Visalia, CA

-Sept. 1
Crepe Place
Santa Cruz, CA

-Sept. 2
Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA

-Sept. 4
El Dorado
San Diego, CA

-Sept. 7
Detroit Bar
Costa Mesa, CA

-Sept. 8
Velvet Jones
Santa Barbara, CA

-Sept. 9
Pappy and Harriet’s
Pioneertown, CA

Beach Goth Blues: The Growlers Invade Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Amoebite, August 29, 2011 02:15pm | Post a Comment
From the mezzanine level of Amoeba Music in Hollywood, one could count over 400 damp heads (itThe Growlers Amoeba Hollywood was unfairly hot in L.A. this past Saturday) eagerly awaiting a performance that could get even the most dehydrated youngster dancing. The Growlers, a band formed in Long Beach in 2006, performed a last minute in-store show after the cancellation of Sunset Junction, where they were originally scheduled to play.

Dressed in suspenders, jeans, sneakers, and oxfords, the six-piece group leaped into action and opened up with the song “Drinking the Juice Blues.” The full playlist was comprised of 11 songs that ranged across their first album, Are You In Or Out?, the 10” EP Hot Tropics, and their Record Store Day 7” Gay Thoughts. As hundreds sang along to favorites such as “Something Someone Jr.” and “Wandering Eyes,” the group matched the enthusiasm of the crowd with excellent chemistry and seamless effort.

If you were close enough to the stage, you could admire their unabashed and quirky offness: a large mass of foil draped over the drum kit, a hand-painted image on a guitar, a rustic pair of conga drums that had been spray-painted. To top it off was the charming vocalist Brooks Nielsen, dancing and swerving without shyness as one might do when they’re alone in front of a mirror. The group’s lo-fi sound, a blend of surf and garage with psychedelic nods, clash rewardingly with their lyrics, which reference displacement, morbidity, and the strangeness of the self.

Continue reading...

Hello to this blog. Goodbye to Sunset Junction (for now). Hello to the Growlers at Amoeba.

Posted by Billy Gil, August 25, 2011 07:19pm | Post a Comment
First of all: hello! This is my blog. It's called Pacific Standard Time. I'm attempting to cover L.A. bands -- perhaps some you have heard of, some you haven't -- with show previews, record reviews, interviews, and such. It has nothing to do with this, although that's cool too and you should check it out. If you are in a band or promoting one, please email me at [email protected] to pitch me. YES!

Secondly, Sunset Junction will not be happening for the first time in its 31-year existence. While it's true that the festival that started as a way to bring together Silver Lake's Latino and gay communities had strayed pretty far from its roots, we're very sad to see this happen. For me, Sunset Junction was always something to look forward to before I lived in Silver Lake -- a reason to check out the area, a place I saw Sonic Youth play for next to nothing, an alternative gay festival. We're all sad to see it (hopefully temporarily) halted.

But in the absense of that, something pretty cool has happened, something that makes me all the more excited to start this blog and celebrate a music community not known to the outside world for its community-ness: L.A. is picking itself up by its bootstraps and putting on a number of musical events anyway, starting with Amoeba, who will host Long Beach's The Growlers for an in-store performance and signing of their Record Store Day vinyl at 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 25. The Growlers play a brand of dusty lo-fi rock that sounds like it could have been recorded at any given point over the past three decades. They touch upon elements of surf rock, Nuggets garage rock, reverby indie rock, and psych pop in a way that feels seamless and inviting. I've been listening to Hot Tropics (2010, CD) and Are You In Or Out? (2009, LP) on loop in preparation and can't wait to see these guys live again. (See Amoeba's post for more information).

Also, the Echo and Echoplex will be hosting some of the ousted bands including the Butthole Surfers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Dios, and Craft Spells at and around their venues on Saturday and Sunday. Find out more at the Echo's site. Additionally, What Cheer? bar will be hosting bands like Black Apples and He's My Brother, She's My Sister on Saturday and Sunday. Check out the Facebook invite here.
<<  1  2  >>  NEXT