On Murder By Death and The Other Shore

On their 8th effort, MBD heads for the stars.

September 2nd, 2018
Lex Voight
Category: Lead Story, Review

Theres a gentle susurration, as if an orchestra is warming up. The swell of an accordion before a guitar is plucked delicately and you are thrust headlong into a new (old) world. Thus begins the new opus from Murder By Death, storytellers extraordinaire, and what follows is 40 minutes of bliss that pulls influences from the veteran band’s discography to spin a tale that spans years and lightyears.
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Kai Exos LAMB Session

International soul-influenced pop with aspirations

August 20th, 2018
Lex Voight
Category: Video

Theres a staccato charm to Kai Exos’ first song, a stuttering and yet somehow smooth neo-soul/pop song which brandishes a dizzying array of influences. Singing, he can barely be contained–pacing back and forth as he quietly croons over his guitar accompaniment. Check out the session after the jump.
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Ginette Claudette Lamb Session

The now LA based songstress slays a LAMB session

August 19th, 2018
Lex Voight

Ginette Claudette seems born for stardom. The DR by way of NY and now LA-based songstress stopped by for some soul-inspired r and b showcasing her talents and chatting about her influences and some of the difficulties she’s experienced from gaining success early in her career.
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Deafheaven at the Wiltern

Black metal rebels sell out the Wiltern

Lex Voight

Every time I see Deafheaven, the band has seemingly achieved another level of excellence. This is easily my fifth time seeing the Bay Area band and again they outdid themselves–incorporating a softer, even more warm performance style to go with their equally soft, welcoming black metal sound of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. This is perhaps best evidenced by vocalist George Clarke’s lace fingerless gloves. When I first saw them open for Russian Circles after the release of Roads to Judah, Clarke had stiff, militaristic movements and tight black leather gloves to accentuate this jerkiness to his motion. As the years have passed and Deafheaven’s sound has softened, so too has Clarke’s mobility, bringing in a prowling sensuousness that is at once dangerous and vulnerable. Backed by the nigh-alien Drab Majesty, Deafheaven ruled the night. 
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Coheed, Taking Back Sunday @ FivePoints

All-star alt rockers bring favorite hits

August 16th, 2018
Mary Bonney
Category: Lead Story, Review

Call it alternative rock, call it emo, just don’t call it over. For the first time on a full tour together, legendary bands Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday shared the bill this past Saturday as decades-long fans flocked to Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine on the southern California stop of the summer event.

One of our longtime favorite pop punk acts The Story So Far opened the show at the intimidate amphitheater as sunset. It was decidedly more mellow performance compared to previous shows, either a natural maturation of stage presence or slight exhaustion on the penultimate stop of a twenty eight-city, mainly outdoor tour.

All photos by Stephen J. Branagan

Frontman Parker Canon’s vocals held their same raw, emotional energy, heard in songs like “Empty Space” and “Roam” and he traded throwing fans into the crowd for shaking a tambourine. The group played songs off their new album Proper Dose (set for release September 21st) before closing with their powder keg mosh pit inducing “Quicksand”.

A band that needed no introduction that night, Taking Back Sunday took the stage with their signature opener “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?”. The seventeen song set list was packed with what are now defined as classics, tracks like “Timberwolves at New Jersey” and “A Decade Under the Influence”.

Lazarra’s voice has held up through years of screaming emotional counterpoint melodies with friend turned foe turned friend again John Nolan. Fans and band alike have grown up with and through each other, reflected in the gang vocals audiences sang together, “I just wanna break you down so badly, I trip over everything you say.”

“Beat Up Car” and “My Blue Heaven” showcased the band’s ability to crafty hard-hitting ballads and a light show complemented up tempo songs like “Liar (It Takes One To Know One”). In true raised-on-Warped-Tour fashion (RIP), the audience exploded with the one-two punch closer of gang vocal-inducing emo standards “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)” and “You’re So Last Summer”.

Closing act Coheed and Cambria has been rocking with fans for over twenty years but they still can’t get enough. The crowd chanted “Coheed” until the prolific band appeared. The troupe opened with the first two tracks from their upcoming ninth studio album Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures and frontman Claudio Sanchez led fans with his powerful, head-banging solos.

His vocal acrobatics continued through beloved favorites like “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”, “Blood Red Summer” and “A Favor House Atlantic”. An industrial backdrop and their symbol emblazoned in neon made every song more theatrical as fans sang along to the apocalyptic-tinged songs.

With a final flip of his coif of curls, Sanchez began closer “Welcome Home”.  It was an appropriate song for so many fans who came to feel at home with these musicians. While lyrics that may have carried fans through their teenage years may have changed their meanings, their emotional impact on audiences felt just as strong… and just as fun to scream back to those who wrote them.

For more information:
Coheed and Cambria
Taking Back Sunday

Bay Ledges Lamb Session

LA locals are finding some sudden spotlight

August 15th, 2018
Lex Voight

LA’s Bay Ledges unanticipated success has been a surprise for its members, but with family, friendship, and more than ample talent crafting finely-honed indie-pop, the relatively new act is find sure footing despite its sudden leap into motion.
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The Empire Strikes Back @ The Hollywood Bowl

We’ve got a good feeling about this one.

August 14th, 2018
Melissa Karlin
Category: Review

It’s a movie that starts with a bang. A blast of horns creating a rush of energy that is there to announce the adventures and drama to come. At the Hollywood Bowl for four performances this past week, this blast was also the announcement for the start of a unique kind of concert. It was a movie screening with a twist, because the score to Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back was being performed live by the LA Phil. With conductor and film music composer David Newman at the helm, the LA Phil took the audience through the magic of the film from start to finish (with an intermission…because that’s a lot of music to play).

(Note that the images are from the Tuesday August 7th performance of Star Wars: A New Hope due to licensing, but you’ll get the idea. All images by Dustin Downing)

I was in attendance at The Empire Strikes Back performance and screening on Thursday night, sitting there alongside an excited and enthusiastic audience, blown away by how the live orchestra created a kind of new life for a score I have listened to a thousand times. I’ve probably listened to the score more times than I’ve seen the movie. This performance was the coming together of something special because the audience is allowed to engage with the incredibly iconic composition in a multitude of ways.

When I spoke with the maestro of the evening, David Newman, in preparation for the performance, he mentioned that there is something kind of rock and roll about this kind of concert. And there was. When The Imperial March began, the first time it is heard in the movie, the crowd literally lit up – with lightsabers. They began swinging them up and down to the beat of the march, almost like people rocking the sign of horns at a metal concert. It was electric.

And there’s a reason for that. Think about this: this piece music, The Imperial March, the famous imposing sign of impending danger and doom, that moment when everyone lit their light sabers and joined in, this is the music’s first moment EVER. Before that it didn’t exist in the Star Wars Universe. It didn’t exist in the popular lexicon. It’s this theme, it’s that moment that exemplifies why this score, like the movie itself, is a fully realized expression of what Star Wars is. The score is confident, expressive and romantic, it knows what it is and it’s not shy, pulling from the first film and lifting it into a stratosphere we couldn’t have even known existed. Experiencing it live, a full orchestra creating the score alongside thousands of people made this a simultaneously a different, familiar and emotional occurrence.

There were times when I would be watching the orchestra with one eye on the screen above them, curious to witness how David conducted and kept everything in sync. It was an exercise in precision and passion. Then there were micro-moments, where I’d experience the music and the movie in a multitude of ways all at once. For example: the asteroid field scene. This is a perfect four minutes of music and I was overwhelmed by all the ways I could engage with it. I would look at the orchestra, excited to see how they performed it. I would look to the movie screen, you know, just to make sure Han, Leia and Chewy make it out ok again (spoiler alert: they sort of do?). And then, weirdly, I just closed my eyes. I let the live performance just wash over of me. I felt each individual element coming together, all the instruments melding into a perfect expression of why the score for this movie is so enduring. There truly was something to the liveness of the performance that felt different. It felt epic and warm, like a hug you didn’t know you needed.

And then, like the world’s most unprofessional music writer, there were times that I simply got lost in the movie, because it truly is one of the best. Luke having to figure out his shit with Yoda and it turns out he never does and this is why Luke Skywalker is my favorite character because he is such a mess. Han and Leia trying to make it out of the Empire’s pursuit while also admitting to themselves that their love runs so deep. Darth Vader on the hunt for his son and killing underlings left and right. That really delicious ham sandwich that is the Emperor. The wonderful Lando and his Cloud City that is also straight up the dream interior design of a really groovy house. I couldn’t help but get caught up in it along with everyone else. Like the pull of a planet, it just would draw me in.

But I think that was the magic of this performance. It allowed for you to choose your own adventure.

Learn more about the LA Phil.