Show Review: Xiu Xiu at Union Nightclub

Using every color in the crayon box

March 27th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Review

Fifteen years in to the life of Xiu Xiu, a new chapter has been added with their release of the bone crushing, moody, and darkly beautiful LP, FORGET.

Kicking off their tour with an album release show, Xiu Xiu (on this night comprised of members Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo) played exactly half of the ten new FORGET tracks at Union Nightclub. For many LA musicgoers who inhabit the many east side tried and true establishments, this atypical setting received a sort of validation once Xiu Xiu’s disconcerting and defiant assault began.

Stewart’s desperate and tortured cries could be a hybrid of Anohni and Devon Welsh crossed with a Bowie haunt, particularly on 2002 song, “Don Diasco” (Welsh of recently shelved act, Majical Cloudz). The melodrama carried over to Stewart’s attitudinal shoulder shrugs, backed by Seo’s gesticulative and sparse analog and digital percussion.

By the third song, FORGET track “Wondering,” things really got cooking as the twosome rode a New Wave synth arc sky high. This injection continued during new album title track, “Forget,” begging questions like, how can something that in one moment feels quite discordant, also manage to find such a driving melody? Or, with all the warble and sonic paranoia, how is there time and space for all this beauty?

Xiu Xiu exhibit massive range both on record, and in person. In fact, I struggle to come up with another act that can use every color in the crayon box like they do. And to think, at the Union they achieved this with just two band members.

With the improbable cover choice of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” Xiu Xiu dipped in to a space funk that yet again tapped an unexpected dichotomy, that of glam-cum-Kraftwerk. In another moment, a fellow concertgoer astutely pegged one industrial vibe as, “emo meets German hardcore.” And so it went.

New one “Get Up” employed wood blocks digitally looped by Stewart. In the midst of executing the lyrics on top of his gentle loops, Stewart quickly sobered up the room in one fell swoop with the blood-curdling shriek of, “RISE FROM THE DEAD!” The song described harmonicas and pianos falling on faces, typically violently-themed Xiu Xiu lyrics that were soon forgotten with an absolute cacophonous eruption of pop melody, because why not? It was a show-stopping moment.

Aggro album opener, “The Call,” and the uber-neurotic confessional “Faith, Torn Apart” notably did not receive live treatment. It would have been interesting to witness how the band would have handled some of the lyrics to “The Call”, or the series of earnest confessions that close out FORGET on “Faith, Torn Apart.”

Nevertheless, the performance left a jarring impression, one rooted in the many contrasts that, when cobbled together, create Xiu Xiu.

Xiu Xiu at Union Nightclub Setlist

Don Diasco
I Luv Abortion
Fabulous Muscles
Jenny GoGo
Hay Choco Bananas
Sharp Dressed Man (ZZ Top)
Get Up
Stupid in the Dark
Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl
I Broke Up
Crank Heart

Show Review: Matthew Koma @ Hotel Cafe

The master songwriter awes with his acoustic set!

Zein Khleif
Category: Review

Matthew Koma is not only a joy to speak to, but also a joy to watch perform. Onstage at Hotel Café, accompanied only by his guitar, he gave his audience a stunning night of song.

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On Lake Street Dive and Evidence for The Divine

Lake Street Dive can make me a believer.

Lex Voight
Category: Lead Story, Review

I have an ambiguous relationship with God(s).

While on one hand I steadfastly believe organized religion to be mostly a terrible thing, I’m aware that the community that religion can foster can be beneficial. Historically, however, people have used that faith in one particular deity or another to draw lines and fight wars, rather than reach out and encompass their fellow man. And the deities have mostly kept out of it, either too ignorant, absent, trusting, or sadistic have been content to let us sort it all out for ourselves. This, of course, has been used, along with innumerable other arguments that are tough to contradict, as evidence that “God is dead” – either that they never existed or they buggered off or we killed them. Most of the time I fall on this side of things: religion is in general harmful, the divine is irrelevant because I have seen no concrete evidence of its existence and there are few arguments that I find satisfactory to explain it’s existence.

“The Unmoved First Mover”/Intelligent Design argument I always thought kind of nicely solved the pesky problem of there being science and everything – that some infinitely intelligent being just kinda set everything up like the most intricate 11-dimensional line of dominoes and then went “flick.” Its an argument that’s tough to argue with when one doesn’t understand how to explain the big bang.

“At first there was nothing, which exploded,” as Terry Pratchett once said.

The other argument for the existence of the divine is, of course, Lake Street Dive.

And I meant that with total (semi) seriousness. Lake Street Dive, who I saw for the first time this week at the Theater at the Ace Hotel, are clearly too perfect to have come from a cold, unfeeling, and uncaring universe neutral to the existence of humanity.

Lake Street Dive are a moderately successful soul/jazz/pop band that formed in Boston a number of years ago. Each member, an expert at their respective instruments, updated the New Orleans-influenced jazz-soul sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Chet Baker, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding, mixing it with a heavy dose of disco, pop, and rock and roll. What they’ve done just over the three records and one EP that I have heard (there are several LP’s in their oeuvre which are nigh impossible to find) is create some of the most soulful contributions to modern music that is infinitely enjoyable.

I often openly question why music, as a medium, didn’t just give up after Freddie Mercury died. People like Bridget Kearney, Mike Calabrese, Mike Olson, and the incomparable Rachael Price, are the answer.

Ms. Price came sashaying out at the Ace, clad in a flow-y pink retro jumpsuit that took the audience’s breath away. Believe me when I say this as a cishet man who gasped in pleasure when Jon Forte walked out in a tux when I saw him open for K’Naan and drooled when I shot Lenny Kravitz last year at KAABOO. I know what an audience – straight, gay, or whatever – loses its breath. And it was lost before Lake Street Dive launched into “Bad Self Portraits.”

We were never to regain it.

Pulling from all over their last three LP’s, as well as a couple covers featured on their Fun Machine EP, Lake Street Dive left the audience breathless, dancing, screaming, and shaken. To my infinite pleasure, LSD’s set wears its old soul influences on its sleeve. I always thought it an amazingly beautiful gesture when someone like Solomon Burke or Al Green–people who’s talent is legendary and who packed houses just on their own names–would then point to the members of their band, name them, and give them each a moment to stand out in front of the crowd as their own. In LSD, each member is similarly equally valued in their live show, each given a chance to shine despite Rachael Price’s frontwoman status. Bridget Kearney’s upright bass solo, in particular, is something to behold (woman can absolutely shred). Multi-instrumentalist Mike Olson, however, creates a quiet presence in the background, often at a slight remove, holding playing the trumpet or guitar masterfully but with little fanfare.

Belting out a string of room-filling soul/rock one does miss the quieter sound of some jazz and soul and, sure enough, halfway through their show LSD took a break to go acoustic for a couple of songs, before launching back into some of their most pop-influenced tracks off their 2016 full-length Side Pony.
Look, I’m not entirely sure of the existence of god, but I had a borderline religious experience watching Lake Street Dive play. There are few things in this world which I consider truly heavenly, but Lake Street Dive were clearly sent from on-high.

Probably, anyway.

Closely Releases “Away With Me”

Indie electronic collaboration with Novelties

March 22nd, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

Earlier this year, one of our favorite local duos Novelties hinted that they were working with Toronto-based indie electronic trio closely on an upcoming collaboration. The new track “Away With Me” dropped today and it blends the dark pop we’ve come to love from Novelties with closely’s indie electronica. Take a listen below.

“Away With Me” takes off with dreamy vocals swirling around pulsating percussion. Kelly Mylod and Sophie Noire’s ethereal voices blend with Michael Cranston’s to create hypnotic melodies, begging to “take you away with me.” The tempo seamlessly changes throughout as they experiment with the lush orchestration, resulting in the perfect relaxing summer track.


We’ll keep our eyes peeled for more soothing electronic/indie tracks from both of these groups!


For more information on closely:

For more information on Novelties:
Official site

Interview with Matthew Koma

Talks new singles, Hotel Café, & more!

March 17th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Courtesy of: Insomniac

We love Matthew Koma here at the Blog. He’s a multi-talent: a master (and GRAMMY-winning) songwriter, a producer, a vocalist, and a DJ. Well, get ready, because this musical aficionado will be performing two acoustic sets in LA this month! He’ll be gracing the Hotel Café stage on March 20th and 29th, so be sure to grab your tickets while you still can.

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Interview with The Dig

David Baldwin on new album, March 18 show at Echo

March 13th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Interview

The Dig are LA-bound. Set to appear at The Echo on Saturday, March 18, their new album Bloodshot Tokyo is out now. It’s a collection of ear worms that evokes an MGMT hybrid of Oracular Spectacular and the unexpected, psych out of its follow up, Congratulations. Maybe add in a dash of The Flaming Lips, for good measure.

Highlights include the radio-ready track, “Jet Black Hair,” thumpy underwater glam rock in “Bleeding Heart (You Are The One),” and the never ending free fall in the chorus of “Simple Love.”

LA Music Blog caught up with singer and guitarist David Baldwin to talk about The Dig’s history, Bloodshot Tokyo, and the NYC band’s relationship with Los Angeles.

Some of The Dig’s band members have been together for quite awhile. When, where, and how did you meet? Have you always been known as The Dig?

Emile (Mosseri) and I met when we were about 11 years old in the suburbs outside New York City. We went to the same middle school, and started playing music together. We were in a Rage Against the Machine cover band, which was the first thing we did. In high school we started a funk band together, and that’s when we met Erick (Eiser). We were all about 15. Then we met Mark (Demiglio) in New York around 2011. So it’s been about 6 years as the current unit.

Why the “Bloodshot Tokyo” title?

We had spent a couple years on the album. There was one song in there that didn’t make it on to the final record. But it was title of the song that we thought best captured the feel of the album.

I read that at your album release show in Brooklyn, the band tossed black wigs in to the audience for your performance of “Jet Black Hair.” Was that a one shot deal, or should The Echo be ready for wigs?

Yeah, we’re actually gonna do that again at a couple more shows. But it’s starting to get a bit pricey!

The new album is, in a way, one that I would dub a melancholy party album. Does that resonate?

Yeah that’s pretty accurate. There is generally a mellow quality to the way our vocals sound, so that juxtaposed with trying to make it sound a bit more fun than our last releases. Maybe it’s the mix of going through funky and soul influences, and our singing in a more mellow category.

You played The Satellite in 2014. Have you played any other LA venues or had any memorable gigs here in town?

LA’s been a place where we have had a lot of really fun shows. The Bootleg Theater is always been a really fun place to play for us. And we had a great show at El Rey with Ben Kweller. Obviously that is an amazing venue. We’ve gotten in to a few different rooms there that we like a lot.

The show at The Echo is an early set. What can fans expect?

One thing that will be cool is that we are playing with some friends of ours. Our really good friend Boone Howard is going to be playing that night. He is incredible and has amazing songs. We’re doing a run of shows with him, and that is one of the first ones. That’ll be really great. We will be playing a lot of new stuff. Most of the new stuff. Definitely some stuff from the past couple of releases too, but slanted towards the new record. There may be some wigs involved too.

What do you like to do when passing through LA?

We all have some family out there, which is always cool to get to hang with them. Also, our manager and friend Rob lives there. So getting to see family and friends. And the last time we were there, we shot an infomercial for the new album, which was a nice way to spend our time off in LA – creating something for the band.

For more information: The Dig

For tickets to the show this Saturday at The Echo, click here.

Please note that this is an early show with a ticket time of 5:30pm. Support acts are Nico Yaryan and Boone Howard.