SPACE REVIEW: the dA Center for the Arts

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Photo by Julia MacNelly.
Last Saturday evening, before Halloween festivities would prompt me to don a disguise of vivid tribal facepaint, I came across a different kind of disguise. At first glance, the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona seems like it’s just an art gallery—and an impressive one at that, with lively sculptural paintings and installations seeping out from every corner (and some even hanging from the ceiling). But that’s where its disguise has you fooled: it’s not only an art gallery, but a concert venue, a yoga studio, and a classroom.

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SHOW REVIEW: tUnE-yArDs at The Music Box

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The key word I must use to describe the show at the Music Box last Wednesday is “layered”. It was the so-called “remix culture” at its finest: danceable, sophisticated loops of vocals and instrumentals, sometimes live and sometimes electronically generated, but never once lazy or unoriginal. I was, of course, lucky enough to be seeing tUnE-yArDs, one of the most exciting recent indie projects out there and one that is, rightfully, blowing up in the biggest and best of ways.

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SHOW REVIEW: Battles at Club Mayan

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Photo by Andrew Youssef (Stereogum).

In support of their latest album, Gloss Drop, Battles graced Los Angeles with a night of experimental rock stylings this Monday, headlining a show at Club Mayan in Downtown LA with tour-mates Walls and Nisennenmondai. The Italian electronic duo Walls opened the show. Working from a a table stacked with samplers, drum machines, effects pedals and other miscellaneous gear, they played a handful of lengthy hypnotic movements characterized by blissful ambience and textures morphing over steady electronic beats. Next came Nisennenmondai, an all-girl three-piece band from Tokyo, who pummeled through an otherworldly and upbeat set of progressive and moody instrumentals. With layered guitar loops, steady bass lines and evolving drum patterns, Nisennenmondai’s songs would typically begin with some minimal instrumentation and develop excitedly into epic freak outs (“Mirrorball”) or sometimes remained stubbornly dense with tension until a song’s anti-climactic ending (“Fans”). The openers’ bands set the mood perfectly for Battles, who are in fact co-currating the next ATP where all three bands are slated to perform.

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SHOW REVIEW: St. Vincent at The Music Box

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Fall break 2011 ended fantastically, for me, with a chance to see one of my favorite musical artists of the past couple years: St. Vincent. Even if you don’t listen to St. Vincent, you may have enjoyed frontwoman Annie Clark’s skills without even knowing it: she was a member of both The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ touring band. Clark, a porcelain-skinned, deceptively-waifish singer and guitarist, is an artist whose sheer talent claws its way through the feeblest of earbuds, unable to be ignored—so you can imagine my excitement to see her perform live. Her talent—and there really is a considerable lot of it—was in full, spotlit, often overwhelming display on Tuesday night.

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ALBUM REVIEW: American Goldwing by Blitzen Trapper

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As far as bands go, Blitzen Trapper has become one of my favorite traveling companions. Don’t worry–I’m not harboring any delusions about having spent a wild month on tour with them, rattling across the country one dimly lit bar or crowded nightclub at a time. I’m talking about the way their songs create a sense of adventure, a narrative that leads you on a journey through a distinct environment—usually past a woodsy creek or through a sleepy mountain town. The band has proved they are gifted raconteurs and American Goldwing, their sixth full-length album, is no exception to this.

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INTERVIEW: JAZZ TRUMPET LEGEND GUESTS ON “CLAREMONT STRAIGHT AHEAD”

Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, jazz trumpet legend, Grammy-nominated recording artist, author, dynamic bandleader, producer, composer, arranger and winning educator, will be a guest on Larry the Fox's straight-ahead jazz show on KSPC 88.7 FM and kspc.org at 1:00 pm on Monday, October 17. Dr. Rodriguez is a professor of Jazz and Latin Jazz at UCLA, UC Irvine, Pasadena College, and Pomona College. He has earned one Gold and three Platinum records, and produced six of his own recordings. Born and raised in East LA, he is a genuine role model for young people who also come from humble beginnings. Be sure to tune in to this interview of an amazing jazz star.
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SHOW REVIEW: Toro y Moi at El Rey

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It was a Monday night. I’d like to think I’m a responsible student. I rarely go out on school nights; heck, I would never just drive into LA to go to a concert. But on Monday, October 3rd, I did just that–specifically, to see Toro y Moi. My friends and I got in line about a half hour before the doors opened. To our surprise, the man of the hour himself, Chaz Bundick (better known by his stage name, Toro y Moi) casually walked by with the band. The people waiting in line, ourselves included, started applauding and before he rounded the corner to the stage entrance, Chaz turned and waved excitedly at his fans.

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SHOW REVIEW: Yelawolf

Let’s cut straight to the chase: Tuesday at the El Rey, Yelawolf put on one of the best shows, hip hop or otherwise, that I have ever witnessed. He is the most dynamic and charismatic rapper working today, and if there is any justice in this world, he is about to be a major superstar. Which in a way would be kind of sad, because it means that he probably won’t be playing venues where he can jump into the crowd from a fifteen foot high stage-side truss. Of course, this was just one electrifying moment from a night full of them; enumerating the complete list would take many thousands of words.

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Happy College Radio Day!

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Greetings, music fans everywhere! Today is College Radio Day. What, you might ask, is that (if you didn’t just click on the link)? Well, it’s a day to appreciate and celebrate everything good about college radio–the new music everyone gets to hear, the DJs learning skills and spinning sweet tracks for an audience outside just their circle of friends, and the connections between stations and people that form through our shared love of music.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Tamer Animals by Other Lives

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I have this friend who, whenever I play her a new album, immediately rattles off a list of all the bands it reminds her of. Although most of the time I can completely see how the gruff edge of a singer’s voice could reminds her of The National, or how a frenzy of synthesized beats could evoke Discovery, for some reason this drives me crazy. As soon as the list becomes a weird four-part hybrid (“It’s totally like…Miike Snow meets Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear, with a little Animal Collective…”) I wonder why it can’t just be a fabulous experience of new music.

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