biKos : –MuSIc 4 yOuR pOst mOdErn HEaRT–


I wonder if the Czech 5 year-old who sent an email to his uncle, carefully scribing his english into phonetics, really understood his eponymous action. That earnest phonetic declaration would eventually come to name one of the best post modern bands in Los Angeles.

Gabe Pearlman’s nephew closed his email that night, “bikos i love you” instead of the intended ‘because I love you.’ It was that innocent and earnest declaration, that stuck with Pearlman for seven or so years and it was the word, “bikos” that would later be the clear choice when he was tasked with naming his newfound art-audio ensemble.

Pearlman, from Culver City with it’s duality of green lawned homes and famous arts district, was a self-described athlete. In the late nineties, he went to a particular rock show. “It wasn’t just any rock show, it was Elliott Smith”. As Gabe says, “words can’t describe how I felt after seeing that show.” Gabe knew he wanted to play guitar. Hearing Portland’s Quasi only further fueled him.

Nurtured in an environment of music, where his mother wrote finely crafted songs on piano, that could only be described as ‘mystical,’ Gabe’s mother inadvertently extolled the theoretical value of the structure of songs, and immersed him in language, it’s context, even the lyrical sound of words themselves. Later, taken with the allegorical quality of Joanna Newsom’s lyrics and the unmistakeable polyrthymic quality of her music, Gabe learned to play guitar and kept adding to a book of collected poetry. His first explorations into voice training found him signed up for a class “…with a bunch of middle school girls who sang in musicals..” Gabe says with a laugh, ” …but I learned a lot, I sang a Rufus Wainwright song for my first recital”

What happened next could only be called a organic machination with a decidedly serendipitous outcome. Over the years, Gabe continued playing and writing; and as he looked around, he noticed that he shared a similar musical taste with some of his best friends. Gabe had met Austin Wester, Jaron Halmy, at the “Culver-Palms Family YMCA Youth & Government program and Daniel Hur had been a high school friend. The tinkering began, and soon the guys were jamming. The next stage in the lineup was found at a mutual friend’s party. Gabe had heard Dave Jones play and worked up the nerve to ask him to join Bikos. A veteran of L.A. Punk, Dave originally carried the bass duties with the illustrious Magnolia Thunderpussy, and later played with El Vez, Josh Haden, That Dog, and Carnage Asada, (whom he still plays with today). Mustering the nerve Gabe asked Dave to join bikos, and Dave jumped at the chance. In a weird turn, it was later found that Dave, who is a bit older than the others, had been a ‘babysitter’ for some of Austin’s friends when they were young; taking them to Jawbreaker shows and the like.

bikos moved from jamming in Gabe’s room to Dave’s garage playing against a backdrop of black flag, husker du, and saccharine trust posters. Soon the space was filled people, found art, strings of pearl lights, the smattering album covers pinned to the walls and ceilings. A homage to the band’s favorite sounds, and letters. Dave played bass, Daniel growled on lead guitar, Austin pounded the drums, Jaron tapped on the keys, while Gabe sang. A summer conference saw a friendship with Michaella (Miki) Burton and during an ad hoc audition during some down time at the conference, Gabe invited Miki to sing for the voice of “Carmen” in a song the band penned called, “Waldo and Carmen Sandiego”… after working on that song with Miki and hearing Miki’s playful yet mysterious voice, the band implored “well? is she in the band??” the answer was clear, her voice belonged.

The true bikos sound is a handmade occurrence, nothing forced, a post- modern-punk inspired sound that is in love with love, dying to be touched. It uses words, in and out of context, double entendres and signature bikos’ solid songwriting. The wordplay and energy wears an earnest nod to Saul Williams, Aceyalone and wears some of it’s hip hop alliteration on it’s sleeve. Vocally, Pearlman’s voice is playful, manic and yet welcoming with a histrionic quality that only serves to intrigue the listener. The music recalls David Byrne, Pere Ubu, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few. The Pearlman /Burton unique vocal entanglement gives cause to wonder if the bikos sound wasn’t what the The Brazilian Girls’ were really aiming for after all!

The first record, “Make your Sound Sound” (released in November of 2011) was mixed by Dean Nelson, known for his work with Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Thurston Moore, amongst others, was completed with a successful Kickstarter project. It extols a diverse roster of songs ranging from the staccato post punk rant “You Want it” to “Silhouette Vase” a smartly written punk song that opens with shades of a jangly Cure song and closes with an unexpected punk vibe.

The Second record an E.P., entitled “Let Down Your Avant Garde” was released on April 3rd of 2012 and carries on that eclectic spirited word play. It is a more focused effort with songwriting that seems more confident, punchy and honed. It includes songs such as post punk anthem

“Y3k which includes a punchy post punk rant and Burton’s perfectly layered vocals.

“…too late to round down.
no documents of stay.
the new fate, its coming ’round. yet I’m still in a haze…
“…In 999 we were neighboring carnations but I gave up before the calendar year
It was much the same for y2k
broke it off fearing the end was near…”
“…what are we gonna do in 2012?
It’s said the world, world, world won’t make it through What are we gonna do in y3k,
if I can’t see my time turns into you?”

Ultimately a deftly written and inquisitive diatribe into the uncertainty of our modern times.

“Disobey The Wand” is a serotonin enhancer effortlessly swinging through several time changes with Pearlman and Burton crooning in tandem, “Yours is my favorite face, Your lips are my favorite taste, your body’s my favorite place, it’s silhouette my favorite trace.”

Songs like, “Fun, Fun, Fun at the MJT (Museum of Jurassic Technology) present a melodious ode to stumbling on love and actually “getting it right.”

“Waldo and Carmen Sandiego” is a tongue in cheek, clearly impossible love-rock duet between the two well known kids characters.
A comedic yet longingly human exchange.

See bikos live they’re fresh from recording their second full length record with Dean Nelson and the first record and E.P. are still available.

bikos live is more fun than watching L.A. hipsters eat hybrid “Pizza-Salads” amidst Melodious Vintage electronica, which by the way, is apparently a super common things to do in L.A. these days…

So Raise your serotonin levels with bikos’ post-modern musical idiosyncracy. It’s the sound of vulnerability, the longing for joy and connection, and…Oh yes…a bit of a glockenspiel.

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Some kind of Soul Mining: The music of Tim Easton


Take any John Prine song, A myriad of guitar riffs rooted in blues and folk, some early Dylan, and some plum picking for good measure  and  you  get Ohio-born, Joshua-Tree-living Tim Easton. ”

Easton, driven westward both geographically and musically since his college days in Akron Ohio, finally settled one hundred and forty  miles east of  Los Angeles in the sweet little outpost known as Joshua Tree.  A place where the work of contemporary artists can be found among cactus and creosote, where eclectic and soulful music  is made among the  Ocotillo and the yucca.  Though his  home base is admittedly Joshua Tree honky tonk watering hole Pappy and Harriets, Tim’s toured extensively in support of his four albums to date, landing in Europe and Asia in addition to a myriad of cities in the United States.  A 2006 tour opening for Lucinda Williams landed him at the Pabst theate in Milwaukee, the Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford Oregon, and the Paramount Theater in Austin Texas expousing revealing his soulful influences of Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie.

Easton’s Folk Americana vacillates between the low down bluesey  growl of “Burgundy Red” from his 2009 release “Porcupine” to the  gospel meme hootenanny of “carry me” featured on 2001’s “The Truth about us” “Get What I got” also off Porcupine, offers a post punk downtempo vibe, with a slight nod to CCR  hiding quietly in plain view.  “Porcupine” combines Easton’s exploratory past while welcoming an edginess,that compounds all the elements digested by Easton over the years.

As if making  cathartic blues Americana wasn’t enough, Tim creates inspired folk art paintings that are currently centered on the motif of ‘the guitar.’  Certainly the god’s cannot be so indulgent! as to afford an already great musician an outstanding talent in a second craft,  But oh yes the god’s gluttony exposes them.  Easton’s paintings turn out not to be sophomoric indulgences by any means, in other words, they are not musings stretching weakly into another creative genre. They are  inspired and informed.  True pieces of mature art.  If you ventured out to SXSW in 2009  Tim’s visual representations were on display at the YARD DOG  gallery, as will several pieces from the 500 Individually painted vinyl jackets supporting”Porcupine.”  The vinyl jackets for this album were  paintings combining wood stain and designs of guitars and porcupines.  Tim’s other folk art uses found wood, oils and acrylics, chalk and pastels, and mostly features the guitar as it’s main subject.    If Musician, visual artist, aren’t enough to fill one’s creative palate, the “creatively-voracious” Easton also writes and is the founder and publisher of a community newsletter and ‘zine called The Joshua Tree Republic.”

A Video snippet of Tim Live in Bucyrus, Ohio exposes Easton telling the crowd that ‘the song he’s going to play next is called, ‘Carry Me’ at which time  very drunk woman whom has apparently been very disruptive during the show with a raspy voice finally yells, “SLAYER!!!, SLAYER!!!”  Tim isn’t caught vulnerable, instead he capitalizes on the situation with a deadpan and swift response by saying, ‘the day I play a Slayer song, is the day you get married.”   Easton comically takes interruptions, hecklers in stride.  and with humor, marches on, no bother and begins picking.

This is Real Folk music, an undeniable a romp  through the desert. It’s music about relationships – both coveted and lost.  The beauty and the tragic things too.  This is Americana,  This is the real Hootenanny, this is some kind of rave up, this is Tim Easton.

Find Tim Easton at: http://timeaston.com

~Chrissylong

No Marty & Elayne complex here! New Sounds at Taix!


Taix !!!! A place for old post-punk, Waiters, and pork pie hats (old location pictured)

The family name is pronounced like “Tex,”  As in “Tex and the Horseheads” someone might say. Actually I’d say that to help someone with the pronunciation but that’s me.  People have been known to almost come to fistacuffs arguing that the correct pronunciation is “Tays” but Mr. Raymond Taix settled the score many times over if you ever visited Taix.   Call it what you want but it’s the only french restaurant bar in Echo Park.  Dimly lit as the soft focus segment in a dreamy film sequence.  A dream that is real enough to enjoy.   Someone is whispering, “life is better in a soft light, it is to be taken in a slow drag, sitting in a high backed chair and small groups of friends crowded around a glowing table center candle”  At Taix, you could also easily conjure a 1959 Sammy Davis lounging earthily with friends as he enjoyed his stogie alternately flashing his wildly large white teeth.  Yah baby, it’s  “Lux-pack” but with a slight “hideous kinky” 1920’s prohibition aura still hanging like a hard fog.   The restaurant’s beginnings were seen during this tulmutuous time and on any given night it’s denizens can be equally quirky and mysterious.  Take a gander from your generous chair and find Hispanic Dodger fans, gay couples, blue-haired grannies, frivolously laughing and enjoying the vibe.  A few pork-pie hat-wearing, uber-hipsters looking to partake in the slow vibe and listen to music.

In order to guard against “Dresden Room Syndrome”  (Also known as the “Marty and Elayne Complex) Taix has recently employed the booking skills of  L.A. Musician Greg Franco, whom in 2006, L.A. Weekly called an “iconic auteur”  Franco, having earned that moniker as front man for L.A., for alt punk bands: The Blasphemous Yellow (1979-1985) and Ferdinand (1986-2002) and currently the New Zealand famous but L.A.based outfit, “Rough Church,” Franco has been a lover of Taix for twenty plus years.  A friend of the recently passed Ramond Taix,  his cuisine and love of good music.  Punk rockers, No Rockers, Low Brow, Americana Freak Folk, and people anyone with an earnest story and sound, can offer their soul against a backdrop of  realtors in bad suits hissing into cell phones, or Art dealers slunked down low, frock of darkish or silvery hair over one eye. Also skulking are Music industry dendrites, Record store barnacles, people ‘only there to see a friend’s band’ play” invariably mix with the “funky place’  that time forgot.  Some of the waitstaff are from your grandparent’s era some are in incredibly micro miniskirts with tattoos creeping round their shoulders and necks serving  exotic and ridiculously rich and meticulously prepared rattatoullie, or duck salad amongst other quintessentially French fare.  I’ve been told The creme brulee and  tart tartin are Tres magnifique!

If you have NEVER needed any “step’ programs, then you can make note of  this Secret Alcoholic tip!!!!!   At the beginning of the fiscal year, Taix corralls all the extra alcohol that didn’t sell well, and puts it to the right end of the bar!  HELLO LIQUID GARAGE SALE!!!  $3 no matter what time of day! Martini at 10AM?  no problem!  but drinking responsibly will ahem…keep you from having to do those meetings, if you know what I mean.  It’s a little bit like a Bitchen Bordello that doubles as an alt / indy music breeding ground.  The likes of Ferdinand, Patria Jacobs, Rough Church and many other local L.A. bands, singers and songwriters have taken in the french lounge mystique that is Taix and filled the air with song.  Tokyo Police club a darling of the

 

Tokyo Police Club played a gig here...

indy scene rocked Taix via the Culture Collide event.  Taix is a sonic crib with Escargot De Gourgogne if you will, a place where you run a good chance of seeing ‘so and so’  before they were… you know…signed and living in Palisades or Laurel Canyon trading kitchen remodeling tips with Anthony Keidis or some shit.  Taix is a little bit Vegas lounge  and a little bit  haunted mansion.   It’s definitely a LOT of  rock and roll!   Think High Fidelity with Marie De Salle singing a sweet vibe unto herself nursing some  sorrowful wicked beverage.   A true Los Angeles original.

Booking list coming soon!

There is plenty of street parking or you can valet for only $2.50.

Taix French Restaurant – 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026  Ph: 213.8.1265

~Christina Long

Find the folks mentioned at the following:

Rough Church @ http://roughchurch.com

Patria Jacobs @ http://patriaworld.com

http://Tokyopoliceclub.com

 

 

Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 484-1265

Transformations: The voice of Ray Lamontagne


Ray Lamontagne

What drives transformation?  a sucre / bitter caulderon of fear?  A wrenching cliff of uncompromising tragedy? The sheer squamous epithelial  and yet permeable giddy gas of love? how about DNA or fate?  In the amazing case of Ray Lamontagne, it was all of those things and more.

I was inevitably late to the game due to cold oatmeal sitting on my table, math papers to help with, and photographs to re-touch and post for market (yes I do some stock photography)…I had only heard, correction been yelled at,  whined at, and threatened by a good friend to have a listen to Ray Lamontagne for a couple of weeks, but trust…it was a long and wincing two weeks.   It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in learning about my friend’s “avant-auteur voice of a million years ago happening right now in our backyard”  per se, I certainly was,   But things were getting in the way,  one of which was the stomach flu I was stricken with, my body laden with oatmeal the only food item that I could keep down in the safe regions of my stomach.  The night after my body had resumed homeostasis, and my children stopped comparing me to the zombie app that they had just downloaded onto my now idle iphone, I decided to put my toes in the provervbial water in order to test out the heat coming off Mr. Ray Lamontagne with a cover of the well known Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy.”  I was aghast.  Loving the song was easy again, now that I hadn’t heard it in oh, say about 6 months, but what astounded me was Lamontagne’s voice.  Never had I heard such as voice.  This voice was audio HDR.  A sharpened image with nuance and texture that was unlike anything I have ever heard before.  A raucous pleasure of sound languising in places that were meant to be exploited and quiet in places that only shone more brightly for their omission. La Montagne is a young-un.  At least to me.  Born in 1973, Ray had an uncompromising and less than idyllic childhood as the story goes.  His father musical and violent turning LaMontagne inward, writing and fighting in his Utah high school.  Later working in a shoe factory. The story goes one morning at 4 a.m., LaMontagne heard “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills and wtih an epiphanous decision decided to pursue his singing and songwriting more fully. Amassing 10 songs for a demo he was soon opening for acts such as Jonathan Edwards and John Gorka. .He recorded his first album for RCA in the US and Echo in the UK.   It’s trickey when deciding what genre to put Lamontagne in.  So far, he’s been labeled folk, but I’d have to add a genre for truth / varied instrumentative / emotive.  The man reeks of past trouble, tragedy, introspection, sunshine and immersion from pain into foot-stompin’ soul music.  If Ray comes to your town, don’t miss him.  I won’t.  Beg, borrow or steal to get there.  It promises to be cathartic.

http://8tracks.com/mixes/4159/player_v3
~Chrissylong

Other Freak folk folks to check out:

Devendra Barnhart

http://8tracks.com/mixes/144498/player_v3

Get over your Gaga it’s really just faux glam…


"Oh Bloody Gaga!"

“because she has a P-P-P-Poker face!!!I is what I was told when I wondered via FaceBook what the allure of Lady Gaga was.  Having heard her ‘name’ creeping into the English language almost as an adjective on a few different occasions, I began to wonder just how big do you have to be to have the suffix ‘-esque’ attached to your name? Well apparently the feathered, lobstered and gaffer’s taped one has just stepped into that syntax called the ‘common English vernacular.’  She may even be well past ‘Urban Dictionary status but don’t quote me on that.   I quickly hit up itunes to listen to a snippet of songs deemed “gagaesque”  oh and some real Lady Gaga penned slaggy ditties to boot.  Can we talk sugary, blippy, syncopated hooks?  I see the allure, if you like late nineties Madonna during her time with William Orbit and the next year when she channeled Che Guevara. I get the seventh grade allure,  but not the her lyrics.

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah
Roma, Roma-ma
GaGa, ooh la la
Want your bad romance

I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love

I want your drama, the touch of your hand
I want your leather studded kiss in the scene
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love
(Love, love, love, I want your love)

You know that I want you
And you know that I need you
I want a bad, bad romance

I can only think that quite possibly the heavy use of onomonpaeia speaks to the post- natal Pre-K period in one’s life and recalls those first days of speech.   Nevertheless, assessing the possible reasons for “The Lady Gaga Allure” did not further propel me down the road of knowing why SOME people might be Gaga over Gaga…

When I google-imaged “gaga”  I found her unsmiling, Sugical taped “X’s” taped to her teats and face encrusted in white sticks arranged not unlike the Eagle’s nest that we gawked at when we visited the Santa Ana Zoo.  Trying desperately to make some sort of connection in efforts to ‘understand’ the hoopla surrounding this astounding vision of faux-glam.

It seems to me that ‘glam’ and ‘shock’ were brought to new levels of interest and even ‘artfulness’ in more creative, non-forced and very ‘natural’ ways if you can even say that about the genre, in the 70’s and 80’s.  Madonna bringing up the rear and into the nineties with her Gaultier phase.   Bowie comes to mind as the crown prince of Glam, David Johanssen, and of course Elton John.  And there were even really great stabs at it after that.  The seventies invented it, the eighties played with it.   The genre was believable enough, though some results were half-hearted…think Cyndi Lauper, whom made a good run of it,  but ultimately fell visually  transparent.  Lucky for Cyndi and for us, once she opened her mouth, she  became high art and we  all  fell in love with her.  Why did it work?  These folks really rocked it, they believed it.  Most important we saw their PERSONALITY through the art that adorned them and we were enthralled.  Whether it was Wendy-O-Williams  of Plasmatics fame with her mohawk, glaring absence of clothing save for black electrical tape…YOU’VE SEEN THE CAR…NOW SEE THE BUS!!!  Wendy-O rankled our nerves, made us laugh, gawk and dared us to let go of all our inhibitions.

How long can one really TRY  hard to shock, to entertain by taking great lengths to garner gawking and then hide?  The real reason Gaga fails, is that her persona is forced and thus she will not ultimately be able to propel hersfelf into glam uber-status.  This is why Madonna scoffs, she must know this. To say that Madonna considers Gaga a ‘copy-cat’ is to sell Madonna short.  Madonna is and was much more of a artful performer.  In costume, music and complexity.  She was relevant always.  Relevancy and personality.  That is what Gaga is missing.  Gaga is Mark Kostabi to Madonna’s DeCherico.

For example on Larry King recently, I was encouraged to see that Gaga landed a gig with “The suspendered one” and that “haus of Gaga ‘ ideated the prospect of her going on dressed just like Larry!  (a negative version of his outfit anyway…black shirt, white suspenders and dark glasses). What a joy!  How Dada!  I was eager to see how she goofed on him but hoped it would also be in a nice way)…But what did Ms. Stephanie Germanotta do with this great situation?  NOTHING.  She intentionally  slowly and uneasily answered Larry  King’s questions, causing Larry to seem aloof, to feel that the interview was not working, and generally made the interview no fun to watch.   I have to admit, wearing a “Larry outfit” and goofing on Larry  would have been pretty cool, which recalls the John Lydon with Tom Snyder interview in ’77, this was an amazing example of punk rock journalism, but I’m sure Gaga has no idea…

She had the chance to make everyone laugh, to show us that she ‘gets’ this.  That all of this has a point and that she’s really been goofing on us! or herself, or best yet, on “the fame machine.”   If she is goofing on fame and glamour,  then this whole thing is hilarious and I sincerely mean that.  But she hasn’t let us in on the joke and we’re standing by waiting.  I just don’t see the half-hearted propensity of it all.

-Chrissylong

Better style for Gaga - Go back 2 your roots! Overdrive 80's meets a more glam runaways.

Pomona Arts Colony “Haiti Benefit!” These Kids Rock!


March 5th from 6-10PM at Angelo’s Italian Restaurant in the Pomona Arts Colony.  Check out 2nd Street and Garey Avenue under the tall Ornamental Iron gate that welcomes visitors to the Antique district. Directly down 2nd street (West) is the heart of the Arts Colony and tons of galleries and independant shops.  Of course PAC also houses “The Glass House” and the newly re-furbed and totally stellar “Fox Theater.”

Diamond Disaster Relief Fund was put together by two young women still in High School. Immediately after the Haiti disaster,  Elizabeth Olguin and a friend decided that they wanted to help raise funds for the children of Haiti in some way.  Putting together a bake sale to send funds to UNICEF was just the beginning. On March 5th, at Angelo’s the girls are trying their hand at a major benefit.  “The Haiti Relief Fest.”

They’ve got an artist from Haiti “jean-Paul” to join forces with them and that artist has created the bright and eclectic flyer for the benefit.  Jean-Paul will be exhibiting at the event, along with other artists.  There will be music, food, fun and wonderful art to buy.

DDRF Team for the Bake sale...this past week...

I met Elizabeth and her friends at the local super-market where they had put up their baking wares.  Never being able to pass up cupcakes and baked goods, I had to stop and see just what these kids were up to.  I noticed that they had some cupcakes adorned with the word “HAITI” on them and then I saw their sign, “Diamond Disaster Relief Fund”  and Elizabeth was quick to introduce herself.  She explained what they were doing and how they wanted to help.  She told me about the benefit and I mentioned my quick foray into “benefit production” when I coordinated my own benefit with bands, and photography to benefit Help For Brain Injured Children http://www.hbic.org in La Habra, back in 2005.  It wasn’t easy, it was hard work! but alot of fun.  I told her that my husband and I and other artists exhibited and some of the work sold.  Elizabeth was quick to jump on the idea of possibly getting some of my work and my husband’s work for the benefit.  I was totally down for it.  I told her I would donate 4 photographs and that whatever they sold for could go directly to D.D.R.F. to send to UNICEF. I am not sure if my husband (who is an amazing landscape photographer), will participate as he’s in Maine right now and there won’t be time for him to ready any of his work.

So I’m looking forward to seeing Elizabeth and her friends find success in this endeavor, it’s really a great altruistic event and a fantastic learning experience for a couple of young girls.  I have kids of my own, so I can’t help but see it also in that fashion. I hope that my art sells, not because I want it to “get out there” or to further my name etc., but because I want those photos to bring in the revenue in order to help the children in Haiti and I’m hoping we can do that in a big way.

DDRF says: Come to Angelo's in Pomona Arts / Antique District on March 5th!!!

I’m looking forward to the art of “Jean-Paul” and listening to the music that the girls have planned.  I’ll definitely take pictures and if I can I’ll do a video of the event and maybe even an interview of the girls and some of the patrons.  Look for more coverage on “The Trouble With Milk.”

Come to the event and see “The Pomona Arts Colony,” “The Pomona Antique District” and don’t forget to peruse the Lincoln Heights District where we have tons of beautiful craftsman and victorian homes.  This is “little-known” Pomona, come and discover it, have fun at a wonderful benefit for Haiti.

The Poster for the intial "Bake Sale for Haiti".....But the actual benefit is on March 5th @ Angelo's!!

Friday, March 5th at 2010 @ Angelo’s Italian Eatery, 135 East Second Street, Pomona, CA 91766.  Showcasing original artwork from special guests and Haitian Artist Jean Paul.  More info at ddrf.tumblr.com   Entry if $15.00 which includes food, live music and a free raffle!   If you don’t like or aren’t hungry for Italian food, then the entrance is only $7.00 how can you refuse?

Micachu and the Shapes: Bite your lip, get up and Dance.



The Precocious, multi-instrumentality of Micachu and the Shapes is like camping on an English moor full of howling wolves as you dance to a Kraftwerk album with Gavin Friday, Marke E. Smith and Guggi.  You’ll need a tour-guide in for this moor party because it’s a bafflingly intricate, yet uneasy place. Walking at night, you feel your feet sink into the moor, tin pans crash, an acoustic guitar rants and a shock of Roux-like hair bounces in and out of the frame. Just aloft you spy Colin Newman stoking a sonic campfire as he types on his iphone.  The fire crackles repetitively with a  waffle and snap.  You are at a zeitgeist sleepover, a tempiscore melding of sense datum.   Yes, you are overloaded but in a playful dreamlike state, these things are expected!   In fact it feels downright amazing, the music in the background has a restless energy,   a crack, a pop.   Set against a nefarious groan or the heaving low hum of soft machines, this eclectic pop is tamed by a warm and yet  distinctive androgynous voice.    That is the sound of Micachu and the Shapes, and it’s not a dream.  Micachu (Mica Levi) is tangible! and in a club somewhere tonight playing a vacuum cleaner.

Mica sits staccato, with an unexpected and painterly face. Her voice and  demeanor  project an element of confident-uneasiness. a careless androgyne, tall with a complex grin,  she is an ‘artiste de artist,’  one  bringing sounds useful to Dee jays, club-goers and the lucky and hard working denizens of Rough Trade, San Francisco.  So far everyone fron Bjork to Beck are calling her one of their “influences.”  or at at least “the most un-classifiable pop experimental music existing today.”   That’s pretty good when the avant-garde of the uber popular alternative are calling you “one of the lovely bones with which we are collectively building this thing we call popular music”.

Straddling many genres of music at one time, Michachu has got the concept cornered. How does someone play front instruments, sing,  and add the sound of a vacuum cleaner along with pops and clacks purposfully (and perfectly) set in time to a thick bumping background track? In my humble opinion the only contemporary rock band able to cross this boundary and do well with so many genres was  The White Stripes.  Jack White did whatever he wanted, and Meg was the co-ideator / conspirator in those avant experiments that turned into great songs.   The only constant was his voice as the music always surprised, swelled and dipped as he wailed and groaned in new and different ways.   Experimental, though, it was not.    It was exploratory. In Micachu and the Shapes’  type of ‘experimental’,   there’s  an element of  “I don’t care, I do what I want, what feels right at the time, and by the way… to hell with this ‘image thing”.   It seems  Levi and company do not ascribe to any specific assemblage of their art, it simply is… “what it is.”

Micachu and The Shapes’ songs arent’ about punching other girls in bars, thanks Lilly, we’ve had enough of that.  It was fun in the begining, but now we have to see other people.   The female role in new music must get some plaster and lathe ready and quick, because Micachu just ripped that house a hole in the wall.

As Micachu swoons into a neutral plastic bounce, “Golden Phone,”  seems to reference her ‘style,’ that is, if she could be categorized…

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound
This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found
Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white
It built the warmth back and there was light

Crimes everywhere yeah, but I don’t want that
Love’s all around yeah, but I don’t want that
Gold in my hair yeah, but I don’t want that
Bring me that nonsense sound and I’ll be back

Well, crushed up bit of stuff, can you pull their ear?
Their legs are far too stiff and they can’t get near
I’ll make this call back to you in a year
Mongrels, this nonsense sound won’t disappear

The song ‘Lips’ explores grime and punk crossover sounds.  Not unlike the likes of early Gang of Four, or Wire, Mica and the Shapes sharp and staccato dithering make you wanna get up and dance.

Die, die, die, your lips  a big lie

You lie all the time, but you still get by.

You bite your tongue but you don’t comply

Dry your tears away with your tie

You drive that truck but you’re still let by

Drop, drop, drop, your lips a big lie

In ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Eat your Teeth’ Mica samples and manipulates every squeal and stray breath.  She and The Shapes, processes them into pop staccato explosions.  In contrast,  ‘Golden Phone’ is a dirty punk song, breathless and beguiling.

This is the Golden phone, can you ring me back?

Ten mongrels home alone bring the panic back

Sound traveled in the air then they blew it back

The took out all the noise and it all went black

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound

This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found

Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white

It built the warmth back and there was light

‘Worst Bastard’ is pure punk brilliance; whilst “Vultures” may have the same basic background as Glen Branca’s, “The Ascension” Lesson No. 1″  I could be wrong though.  Branca’s wall of sound is exactly  the intricacy Micachu uses in their swirling and full soundscapes, and especially on this song.   The new Shapes’ album “Jewellery” is on track for album British Album of the year and I’m not surprised.  It may have to fight with La Roux’s signature album “La Roux” but they really are different territory.

In “Curly teeth”, Micachu uses a squeaky sound as a background layer and a dissonence that actually works under her defined and short shap vocals. “Curly teeth” does not dissapoint in fact as with other Shapes’ songs, it surprises once again.

I stumbled upon Micachu and the Shapes about 3 months ago via my favorite performance artiste chanteuse Bjork, and in my humble opinion, this unclassfiable band headed up by Mica Levi  is  channeling the best of electronica, rough wire, punk, avant-garde, pop, and dance. This stateside inhabitant will be sure to see them when they turn up at any venue within 40 miles of me.  Even if you just go to see someone use a vacuum cleaner onstage, don’t miss them when they come to town.