La ROUX!! Listen up statesiders… change is in the hair.


Elly Jackson of La Roux

Don’t call her “Techno Lady Gaga”  or  “young  Annie Lennox” unless you would like a sneer and a few explatives, but Elly Jackson feels the critics encircling…literally chanting… with ever increasing volume:  “Elly Jackson is The new face of Electronic Music!”   Go see her  in the clubs before Madonna, Jay-Z or some such music mogul accosts her and makes her choose whether or not to sell her soul to the devil.    Jackson, along with bandmate and co-writer, co-producer Ben Langmaid,  meld together wild pulses,  fluttery beats and popping thick synth drums.   Capturing sound like  bolts of sassy lightening stuffed into a tesla coil, Elly croons …’We can fight our desires
Ohhhh but when we start making fires… We get ever so hot… Ohhhhh whether we like it or not….
They say we can love who we trust… Ohhhh but what is love without lust?

The red-haired one”

In late 1995, Happening upon a baby naming book, Elly figured “La Roux” was as good a name as any as it fit the shocking scarlet hue of her hair.  Consequently  the masculine form of “Roux” was prescient as she realized “Rousee” could’ve been seen as conversationally opposite of her persona as it did not fit her obvious androgyny.  Later hybridizing her amazing coiffe  into a Bowie-esque/ Mike Score do, La Roux / Elly Jackson the stage persona was born.     Beginning her musical journey on seventies Nick Drake and Carole King amongst other gritty songsters, early in life Elly developed the  love of a well crafted song.

A shock of Stardust colored hair, on-stage intensity, and andro-lustful poses to match,  Jackson  conjures  the soulful thick electronic sound of Depeche Mode, The poppy playfulness of Yazoo, and the stylistic croon of Allison Moyet.    La Roux has managed a completely new sound from the ashes of the best in eighties electronica.  Ahem….’New Wave’ as some of us remember.

“Quicksand”

With their Freshman effort  released by Parisian label Kitsuné, in 2008, La Roux later tapped  producer “Lifelike” for the remix of  “In For The Kill !” which  debuted at number 11 in the UK Singles Chart.  Finally signed to Polydor Records, La Roux released their debut album, uncerimoniously called “La Roux.”


The same effort yielded “Buletproof” which was released as a single in June of ’09.  It debuted at # 1 in the UK Singles Chart.. In the U.S. it topped the Dance/Club Play chart the week of September 17. I’m Not Your Toy was released to the baded breath of house / techno devotees on September 29th of this year.

Joining Lily Allen’s UK tour in March of ‘o9, La Roux began a long touring commitment that included the NME Radar Tour, The Glastonbury, Oxegen, Reading and Leeds outings.  Finally placating almost rabid dance fans in the U.S., La Roux toured North America in July and August of 2009.   Canadian venues were supported as was The Jimmy Kimmel show in addition to the historic Troubadour in Hollywood / West L.A. Lucky San Franciscans attended “Popscene”  (The Club NME series),  and enjoyed an amazing show even if a playful yet  snarky Jackson taunted “Which one of you is gonna have this up on YouTube tomorrow?

Planning to pen their sophmore effort sometime after  their very busy tour is done, but with no specific date in mind, La Roux isn’t gonna push.  You can’t rush art.  Their  beats are born of collaboration,  they aren’t aimless, or repetitive,  and are not without rhyme or reason.  They’ve got originality, substance and direction.  That’s what makes them so palatable to a very musically-hungry-stateside-beast.

We’re still digesting La Roux, discovering it’s nuances, and incredibly buoyant at this very British “discovery”. In closing, whatever is rolled up into the collective conscience of La Roux does not really matter, for quite simplistically, all any music lover needs to know is that  La Roux bounces like the devil and how lucky we are to be in the room.

We can fight our desires
Ouuhh but when we start making fires
We get ever so hot
Ouuhh whether we like it or not.
They say we can love who we trust
Ouuhh but what is love without lust?
Two hearts with accurate devotions
Ouuhh and what are feelings without emotions?

~Chrissylong

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Band Spotlight: The InFlight Nymphs: Chords don’t lie.


At the time they had two albums,  Three girls,  and a foreshadowning of a great band down the line.   Fresno California singer-songwriter Jessica Taylor began her organic career, chaneneling a smoky Joan Baez  by way of a post “Horses” Patty Smith.  While alternately pounding her piano and plucking her guitar, Taylor hit the clubs in 2001.   Interspersing her compositions with Deanna Pierro’s smoky Neneh Cherry-esque  mini-slam verse.   Pierro, though co-conspirator on several songs, soon went on to other projects.  The brooding trip-hop-spoken-word dalliances were lifted out of the bands’ master plan and traded in for the beefed up sound of Janell Brown’s bass.  Audrey Johnson was soon added on drums eventually being known for banging out organic, thick and desperate beats. The Nymphs have an organic sound from the past and represent like a pure and simple powerhouse.  Think Femme Black Keys with an Ani Difranco square of carpet on the linoleum floor.  Okay maybe they would argue that.  But you get the idea.  Hey! you can’t pigeon-hole The Nymphs, but I’m sure I’m not the first to try.  In order to put a “sound” in someone’s mind, (in order to get them to decide whether to go see the band – based on words), you’ve gotta do it.    In reality, there just  isn’t any place to corral them!  Built Tough and real, no lip-schtick needed here.  The Nymphs are pure poetic angst without a bone of pretension to be found.  Real music, Yep.  Fresno?  No. Wait. Really?  yep!….Central California?  Like the place that started out as a sandy / loamy desert?  Yup. Congregations from Fresno Churches at the turn of the century dug the first canals to bring water to the fields.  An African American man and his wife planted the first grapes, giving rise to the areas precious Thompson Seedless variety.  Plenty of people know what it’s like to back down, but the town of Fresno just doesn’t  do it.  How do you turn a desert into the fertile crescent of California?  With hard work.  These folks are   California’s keepers of all the feeding flora.  Inflight Nymphs, are becoming the  “raconteurs du jour”  of the “fresno sound”  Now there’s a real reason to be excited about Northern / Central California’s music scene:  Fres-NO, is slowly becoming, “Fres-YES.   Okay, it’s true that Fresno’s the only town in Cali with air that you can ACTUALLY SMELL!   and whose city government is so brutally out of touch that that when deciding what acts should be put on the coveted  G/L for “special events,”   they actually chose Andre Bocelli to ring in the arrival of the new “Save-Mart”!!!)  At any given moment, The Inflight Nymphs are somewhere between Fresno and San Francisco  and occasionally tripping on over  to La La Land. Right now they are probably sitting at one of their favorite “Fres-no-torious” dives comfy  in  low rise jeans, stringy hair, and Sticky Fingers T-shirt, hashing out another song list for a show.  Gotta plan it, make it right, make it rock. These things matter, Cuz hips may lie, but chords don’t.

P.S. if you didn’t get to Fresno to Andie’s you probably missed The Nymphs again.  Go to “www.inflightnymphs.com for future dates.

As soon as I get MP3 links, I’ll load as many songs as I can. Until then…

Cheers!   ChrissylongPicture 78

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Sounds West: Paul Plagens, Patria Jacobs, Greg Franco and more…


PlagensThe best music in Los Angeles right now…

There’s an electric feeling that shivers right up your spine when a singer nails your head and heart at the same time. Whether that song radiates from the artist’s illium, Sacrum or the “I’ve been to the depths of my personal hell, and I’m back to tell you about it!”   You just know when it’s the real deal.   When someone unearths an uncanny knack for finding your bruises and putting a thumb to them, it makes you take notice. Such is the case with John Doe and Exene of “X”, John Prine,  and Alex Chilton, in my humble estimation anyway.  These folks might hail from different times and places within the rock music continuum,  but in my book,they all aged artistically, and experienced new stages of life.  They are still-expanding musical nebulae.  For John Doe,  Moving deep into the California mountains, gave him the ability  to focus on his land, his community and on the tools of songwriting.  The result was the birth of  his  album, “A Year In The Wilderness.”  Far from he and Exene’s 1987 release “See How We are,”  Doe became less plaintive on depicting the visuals for his songs and instead embedded them adeptly into the sounds and song structures that seem to identify ‘The New Americana”  Doe still uses his  lyrics to “tell” the listener what to “see”but  his writing became more complex and compelling for sure.
Not since John Prine have I seen songwriting this affecting and visual. In John Prine we saw a man in “some deep kind of  funk”,  longing or loving,  whether it was for a woman or his own child, Prine’s songs,sometimes sweet, alot of times funny, share two common links with the writers I mentioned earlier,  irony and brazen honesty.  Mr. Prine kept it country and nailed our funny bone just when we needed it most.

Giving me shivers up my spine as a college kid, not only for his looks, but for the mere sound of his voice,  Alex Chilton’s incandescent, “Big Star”  paired deep suffering growls, poppy eclectic grooves with desirous falsettos. Chilton made me melt and best of all I could see a  creative process at work.    It’s that “well thought out” lyrical muscle that was flexed by some and now seems frighteningly flabby in most writers nowadays.  What about that  lyrical twist? Where are the words that make you think?

I decided to wrestle my dial from NPR just for a brief moment this morning as I was feeling a bit  “song-sick.”  I needed  an anthem for the day.  I often seek out something specifically intended to swirl around in my head for the rest of  the day.  All I found was a “sea of nauseatiatingly common method songwriting” or songs wantonly layered with a multitude of trance tracks with  “Akon-like vocal overlays” that simply use alliteration in efforts to qualify as “the new hybrid rap.”

Even though mainstream top 40 charts seem to have lately produced  a world of “word-weary copy-cats”, the musical landscape does reveal shimmers of placer.  At the urging of a friend  I gave a listen to the very English “Duffy” and immediately downloaded her entire album. Her voice was at once very “antique” yet freshly familiar. “A Fine Frenzy” (one Allison Sudol , apparently enamoured with the imagery of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”),  offers a finely tuned sweet and athletic voice.   Her deft lyrics are organic, lively and refreshing and surprising in structure.  Sudol’s Fine Frenzy is guilty of keeping one or two songs in my head for several days now.   If you ever followed Amy Farris  (how we’ll miss that lady…), whether it’s was Dave Alvin’s Guilty Women or a Brian Wilson record, you would again,found that soulful straightforward style, this time with a Viola or a violin.

While bright spots like Duffy, A Fine Frenzy and others are capturing the hearts and minds of listeners nationwide,  “The singer-songwriter genre,” is alive and tangible in our clubs. A trip into Los Angeles reveals the likes of some of the current autuers:  Paul Plagens, Patria Jacobs, Greg Franco of Rough Church and his “big in New Zealand” solo project:  “Greg Franco’s Wandering Bear.” Also sharing a multi-directional inspired genius is Suki Ewers who brings her swirling  personally lyrical songs that take off where Mazzy Star left off.

The great American art of  songwriting didn’t end with Robert Zimmerman, Arlo or Woody, it’s alive and well and it’s here for the listening.

1. Paul Plagens

The”perfect mix” of all the aspects that make a songsmith shine.  Not unlike a contemporary John Prine, Plagens just cannot be missed. I was invited to 2nd St. Jazz for my birthday back in June of this year,  where Patria Jacobs Tex-Pate and former leader of “RubyFish”  consistently hammers  out one after another “Patriaworld”  experiences.  The lean and cool  Plagens played songs such as:  Lovesick Car and others.  That night Paul stood out with his soulful songs and uncommon humor. He’s been a member of the rock / alt band “Greta”, and done tons of studio work for ‘more than famous folks.  In addition to his own projects Plagens “sings honest” affecting well-crafted alliterative stories of real life interspersed  with unexpected hilarity.   He’s a treat to see and experience and in my opinion seems to inhabit that fruitful web of  artists in the vein of Prine, Doe, and Chilton.  Not yet  having garnered the movement that the luxury of time provides, I believe he’s poised to be “that next great singer-songwriter.  Obviously you should not miss Paul Plagens!

2. Patria Jacobs

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“Tex-pate” (L.A. transplant or many years now) and Chanteuse of American indie pop,  Patria’s swooning visceral songs define anyone’s emotional landscape.  Her deft and oceanic songs are not to be missed.  On her new release “Poison of the Sea” Patria’s smoky growl will have you enraptured. From her time as the co-conspirator behind “RubyFish” with Russ Chaput, to the eclectic forary into the pop/electronic visage that is her single “Do the Pink,”  Patria is a purveyor of fine music of Los Angeles often found hammering out another “Patriaworld” where she spotlights great singer-songwriters and multi-member local bands. Always a great host and performer  herself, she is expanding and changing the L.A. music scene.

3. Greg Franco

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The L.A. Weekly called Greg Franco “An Iconic Auteur,” who began his stay on the Los Angeles scene in the very early eighties with the seminal low brow band, The Blashpemous Yellow.   B.Y., sported some type of pounding and often times sweet bleating “grunky” (Grungy-Punk) type of thing… picture the musical love-child resulting from some  operatic tryst between “The Minute and Men” and “Gang of Four” then you might have an idea of the sound.  Crooning about the barrios of Chavez Ravine, and  the dusty in-betweens of San Fernando road, Franco et. al., haunted all the venues that would have them.  Venues such as  The Anti-Club, the Lhasa, The Music Machine, Madame Wong’s, Al’s Bar and many others.   Later the front-man for “Ferdinand”, a  four piece including Laura Smith and David Guerrero of  Third Grade Teacher, shook Silverlake and other venues up and down the coast with crunch alternative rock and roll that you had to eat with a fork.   Franco’s current troupe, Rough Church, is a “states-living but New Zealand famous” quartet. As if Rough Church wasn’t enough, Franco must believe he’s got  more hands than the Hindu god Vishnu herself, as he’s also working on his flagship personal project, “Greg Franco’s wandering bear.”  You can’t keep a good man down.

I can’t wait for these interviews, and videos, which are coming soon.  However, pictures are below.  But come back soon and we’ll finish the gig.

Below are: Patria Jacobs, Paul Plagens and Greg Franco.


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Some celebrities are blessed to have their “looks” (whether natural or manufactured,or a combination of both) for a long time. Some are not. Some hold on to hairstyles that are frighteningly obvious nods to their past glory.  Take Nick Nolte’s blonde slightly wavy early 90’s tresses, that he  had to cooley brush away as he crouched against the fender of a car whilst he slowly grabbing for his gun to take sniperly aim at some nefarious character.  Those tresses are still being rocked!  And now…they’re only food for papparazi. The vermin that creeps along our city streets stalking celebrities just minding their own business (ruthless and innane hairstlyes or not), seems to parallel the massive increase in Celebrity Worship Syndrome.   A man not helping the situation is one Donald Trump!  Maybe his inspiration for the super-wide girth of the comb-over that he mashes down every AM with some type of sheening potion, was the inspired result of his attendance at a “Player” concert back in 1977? (Remember Player’s “Baby Come Back?)….On the original album cover, Check the guy to extreme the left of the lead singer-the bassist Ron Moss.  The Donald must’ve fancied himself as au’ courant as brother Moss. Obviously vulnerable  to the smallest chinook, these folks have got to know how un-daily life-friendly their coiffes actually are, but still they can’t wrangle themselves from the visual ties to their past. Whether it’s the oft heard, “Hey!  it’s trendy again! mantra,…IT’S JUST FOOD FOR THE PAPARAZZI!!   Public complaints from these  waning nebulai about those predatory plebians falls at least on my deaf ears, as these grumps wait with baded breath to get the holy grail of bad hair shots. For example one Mr. Trump, saunters across Las Vegas Boulebard one breezy afternoon (possibly 12 bodyguards in tow),  a soft chinook sweeps across the stinky cigarette and piss soaked Las Vegas Boulevard and  circles up the belly of The Donald, where it devilishly lifts up Mr. Trump’s rug! OOPS!  SNAP!!!  CLICK!!! Literally taking flight (un-Falcon-Heene-like), the “combie” seems to actually wave back at the photog!  Not unlike catching a senegalese tiger in the depths of India in some natural act ‘never before captured on camera,’ the photog is eccstatic! What a snap, what a day!  ‘I don’t have to work for three months!’  I can drive my daughter to Kindercare in the mornings! My wife can dance later at Spearamint Rhino tonight!

..The Donald’s “faux-woven” (new word alert: “Fauxven”) was merely  hanging on by a few fine strands.  More appropriate for a sail than a toupee, Mr. Trump will have gained lift by the time the wind dies down.  Calling for his “boy” to come and re-coiffe his appendage.  The Donald  quickly re-gains swagger and returns on this path to the limo.   Donald, Mr. Nolte, Ms. Lohan and others REALLY ARE good for the economy.  Lessening depression as they wallow in their own, giving people a laugh and helping papparazi and the entire supply chain that goes with those magazines keep their children in Lucky Brand Jeans.  It’s a rough job, but someone’s gotta do it.Picture 23
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1975 – Cornflakes and Classics in Chavez Ravine


Picture 21975.  The scent of hashish in the air, I look over at my mother who didn’t seem to mind at all. I wonder whether I will get a contact high just sitting there in my seat at Dodger Stadium.  I smile at my brother who smiles back and takes a deep breath.  It is 1976 and the sun is going down.  On my right is a long haired guy with big round glasses and a “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player” decal T-shirt.  I secretly wish I had that shirt and wasn’t instead sporting one that said, “Come Caca”  (In Spanish, it means, “EAT SHIT”).  Funny at the time, but later quite embarssing, as it looks as if I am proudly calling out the shit from whence it hides.  I swoosh the strands of  long brown obvioulsy un-attended hair from my forehead and crane my neck to get a glimpse of the stage. We had been waiting for an hour,  breathing deep and quietly trading visual forecasts of what Elton would wear and whether “Bernie” would come out on stage or not.  Suddenly the soft murmer of laughter, talking, cat calls and the valiant croons of late-comers to their  their “seat-saving parties” or vice versa.   The crowd is strangely silent, collectively expectant.   With a flash of the million-watt stadium lights a Glittery trim Elton bounds across the stage and takes a bow.  HELL …LOW…LOS ANGELES!!!!!   Elton takes his seat at the piano, the lights flash again and Elton is a blaze of movement. Pounding the piano, … outfitted in spectacle of home team adoration,  or at least an admiration of Steve Garvey,  a sequined Elton begins to sing.  His mouth over the microphone,  body seemingly detached from his mouth, Elton’s back rises and falls as he moves from the orchestral opening of the song to the first incredible lines.   His head cocked eyes looking sideways and by now singing wildly, the crowd begins to move.  I mean really move!   We are all singing “Why’s there never light on my lawn?..Why does it rain and never say good-day to the newborn?.”  We revel in “Grey Seal” from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and it has never been so real to me.    WE ARE ECSTATIC!  WE ARE HERE! WE  ARE WITH ELTON!  THIS IS MIIDA!!  AND WE ARE TOGETHER!  and we know we will never have this time again. People are struggling to climb onto the chairs someone uses my back to boost themselves up behind me.  I don’t care.  I put my hand on some else’s shoulder as I am pushed forward.  I don’t mind.   I look tentatively at the young man I just made aware of my existence,  he smiles  as if he knows me,  and that we were ALL friends.  Sharing something so amazing, so special that nothing else at this point in time matters.  We are all helping eachother to be a part of Elton’s show, taking it all in.  The air is sweet and musty the sun is going down over Los Angeles and everyone is smiling. We are all moving as one.  Our mother is laughing, she has forgotten about selling insurance and making the rent.  We hug her and we know that we will never have another time like this, together,  our entire lives.    I notice someone’s younger sister, clearly one of “The babysat,” still clutching a Tigerbeat featuring a zitty Leif Garrett or maybe it was Shaun Cassidy.   No more Tigerbeat for me, I think to myself… I am the brio twelve year old lass proudly holding her  copy of “Rock of the Westies.” I resign myself to the fact that I won’t get it signed and quietly tuck the album under my seat.  I take my place between my brother and mother and resume singing,” And tell me grey seal How does it feel to be so wise?…To see through eyes That only see what’s real…Tell ell  meeeee greyyy  seeeeee  ul.

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