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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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.

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.

How to make a Mars Volta – Recipe for a rainy day.


Take one part Steve Wynn Dream Syndicate guitar, 2 parts Raspberry puree, one part voice of emotive  the love child of Serj Tankian and Tommy Shaw (find it in the  alt / prog rock section of your local Trader’s preferably the one in Glendale,) dust lightly with some finely ground Mothers of Invention, and finally add a pinch “Exploding Plastic Inevitable”.   Mix well.  Add two teaspoons John Fruisciante  into the mixture and boil down to a nice reduction.  Let cool, add two drops of alt / prog / Roger Waters and whip to a slight screamo (wait until you see peaks).   Mix some  Thurston Moore (be sure not to use any Kim Gordon though) pour into  a  9×12 ungreased pan and set aside.  Now, prepare your oven.  setting it to “burn / sizzle and pop” and trip out on the fog that forms inside.  Put the visceral confection in the oven at 425 for 30 minutes.  Soon the concoction will ignite and send sparks in all directions!  What you have here is a creation that will burn your hands but… you won’t be able to move away!!  Pour this eclectic, yummy paroxysm into your limited edition “Nick Cave” serving plate and enjoy!  Feel the sweet burn as each bite of this prodidgeous culinary course goes down.  Aint it kinda beautiful?

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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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