Monday, August 24, 2015

Station to Station

Station to Station: a 4000-mile enchanted journey into our past and our future.

Review: This week’s New York Times Magazine features a cover story on the shift of art to the digital future as millennials trade in CD’s and records for downloads, YouTube videos for television and Garage Band for the recording studio.  Venice-based artist and film and performance director Doug Aiken is no stranger to the latest technologies and online communities of creation, but he chose a distinctly 19th century platform, a passenger train, for his stunning new film, Station to Station, now playing at the NuArt, in Santa Monica California and hopefully, soon nationwide.

Actually, Station to Station is much more than a film – it is a living project that uses a 23-day train trip across the US to explore modern creativity, both on the train by an ever-changing group of visual and musical artists, and in “happenings” at stops along the way ranging from big cities to tiny hamlets.  On board the train were famed musicians like Jackson Brown, Patti Smith, Beck, and local artists and bands who jumped on and off at various stops, making for a constantly revolving creative community working together over a 4000 mile-long canvas. The train itself was a work of art - a 60’s era Milwaukee Road Bud Railcar passenger train with a Vistadome sunroof coach and a rare torpedo-end Hiawatha observation lounge car. Each car was equipped on its side with high-speed programmable moving digital lights.  The effect was a fast-moving kinetic light sculpture of streaming under lit railcar windows as they raced through the night.  

As stunning as the train was, the 62 one-minute films produced by Aiken and the artists onboard and at the happening stops are the heart of the film.  The revolving, flowing community joined and took part in 10 events in major cities and off the grid locations including a musical march through a train station led by a bull-whip cracker, a colored fabric fence by artist Sam Falls in Barstow, Fritz Haeg's artwork  paired with a performance by The BodyCartography Project in Minneapolis/St Paul, Ernest Neto’s  nomadic light sculpture in Los Angeles, and Jehnny Beh performing with Savages in Oakland. On board, the train were concerts, interviews, Olafur Eliasson's drawing machine, and miles of wanderlust-evoking scenery.  There was even an interview and tour with Paolo Soleri at the Arcosanti complex in Arizona.

In assembling the film, Aikens avoids the trap of creating  a mind-numbing series of one cool (and sometimes obscure) video after another. Instead he interweaves the videos with interviews, film of the train shot from outside and inside - including through the sci-fi like observation car windows at the end of the train – and film from each of the happenings  Although each video is statement in itself, editor Austin Meredith flowed some into others, giving Station to Station a visual storyline that holds attention beyond the eye candy on the screen. This gives the film substance, which he extended into a 30 day-long dynamic art and music installation in London’s Barbican and an illustrated book.  The overall product – film, art installation and book – is a comment on art through the eyes of art, a meditation on the transience of travel as trains pass each other at speed, combined with the intimacy of occupying the same  physical and artistic space for an extended period. But mostly, the film is just about enjoying the ride.

Director: Dough Aitken
Station to Station is unique – a kind of Burning Man on rails, a  hopeful work of art with an intimacy that could only emerge when people live, work and learn each other over three weeks on a train. Station to Station is an enchanted journey into our past when rail was king, and into the our future where creativity is queen, and in the end,  into our lives where it really is the journey and not the destination that is important.  Take a ride and get lost in both.

A film by Doug Aitken Workshop Production, Arts & Science Production
Executive producer: Doug Aitken
Directed by Doug Aitken
Producers: Chris Totushek, Alex Waite;
Directors of photography: Doug Aitken, Corey Walter
Editor: Austin Meredith

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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


We Are The West fills El Cid with sound and a perfect fit.

Review: We Are The West (WATW)  has made a name for itself in Southern California with its literal underground concerts – “literal” in that they perform in an underground  parking garage in Santa Monica every month on the Saturday before the full moon.  But this 21st Century progressive rock band has moved far out of the parking garage to fill concert halls and venues large and small across the country with  their hauntingly beautiful, crescendo-filled combination of music, sound and voice that is like nothing else on the modern rock scene.

The original duo of Brett Hool on guitar/vocals and John Kibler on standup and electric bass/vocals added virtuoso drummer and vocalist Elizabeth Goodfellow, clarinet and sax man Sylvain Carton, Ben Tollidy on the cello and Paul Cox on the organ for a band that can create music the sonic equivalent of a very, very good acid trip.

WATW took us on that very, very good acid trip this weekend at the storied El Cid in Silverlake, Los Angeles, with twelve songs that soared, shimmered, hypnotized, eardrugged and did everything a band can possibly do to create another world and then completely suck an audience into it for 45 minutes.  And they did it with such power and clarity that they felt like the Pink Floyd of 2015.

The location was perfect; El Cid is a venerable two and half story Spanish-style venue that dates back to 1925.  It rambles down a hill ,with  interior gardens, stairways, a patio with movies, multiple bars and best of all, a large, sonically tight venue at the lowest level that is feels and sounds underground.  The stage is high; the acoustics are excellent and the sound system works well with the room.  The perfect match for WATW.

The match worked especially well for WATW’s specialty – the crescendo.  Many of their songs flow into long stretches of rising power.  The crescendo had a strong presence at the El Cid performance, with at least four of the dozen songs on the set list morphing into power drives.  In each, as Goodfellow’s hands and arms shapeshifted into a speed-driven blur on the drum kit, her eyes closed, face set in tight concentration. Brett Hool’s voice rose to impossible heights with a timber that suggested a determined, cornered animal. John Kibler coaxed  unnatural sounds from the bass that sometimes took flight and other times growled back. Through it  all,  Beth Goodfellow's drums pounded and projected, filling a room with electricity like a heart whose pacemaker has caught a solar flare.During the crescendos, the entire band moves like a single living being, each member entranced, focused moving autonomously like gears in a beast more machine than human hurtling forward.

But WATW was not all about power this weekend at El Cid.  They sprinkled fairy dust on the room with gentle - and eerie -  songs like “A New Haven” and “The  Hammer” and “Groene Hart”,  and the lilting “Good Luck (and all that stuff)”.  Of the dozen tunes on the WATW play list that night, many were not on one of the installments of a four-part, self-titled album, they have recorded in different improvised locales.   Those new to WATW just enjoyed; but fans took note;  there is more WATW to come.  A good reason to find the secret underground parking garage this weekend and hear what surprises WATW has in store for its growing audience.

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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!

Pete Lanctot & The Stray Dogs

Release: Americana folk-blues band, Pete Lanctot and the Stray Dogs, release their latest single, The Only Love I Know,” from their forthcoming full-length record, No Sign of Love or Farewell. The track was premiered on The Vinyl District, who says, “Lanctot’s lilting and bittersweet delivery is a perfect counterweight to the weeping production of the song.” Their upcoming album is slated for a Fall 2015 release.
The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter is greatly influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Cave and The Carter Family. Lanctot specifically draws inspiration from artists’ lyrics and storytelling. Their debut EP, Caledonia (released in 2014), is a selection of six songs that highlight the band’s versatility and various instrumental interludes. The new album will be a collection of vignettes that draw from human experiences. The Brooklyn Paper raves about Lanctot saying that he is “preaching the gospel of Americana from the stage and from the lectern,” while New York Daily Music says, “Pete Lanctot personifies pretty much everything good about New York’s most happening music scene.”
You can catch Pete Lanctot and the Stray Dogs live in at local venues throughout the Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs. Don’t miss out on their new track “The Only Love I Know” that The Vinyl District described as, “both ethereal and earthbound, reminding one of the spacious magic true American traditional music.”

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Release: Brooklyn-based synth-pop band DF3 announce release of new single, “City Lights,” from forthcoming debut album, After A While, due out later this summer. The upcoming compilation is comprised of eight tracks containing a modern-day 80’s electro feel. Having self-written, recorded and produced After A While, the overall tone of the songs enthrall emotions of pain, love and lust - all inspired by real life occurrences. Influenced by Capital Cities, Foster The People, Twin Shadow and many more, DF3’s unique 80’s synth-pop style triggers questions of whether their passion and energy will be able to change the face of music as a whole. The Deli NYC praised lead single “Tell Me” describing the track as “an uptempo jam reminiscent of an 80s escapade, with a lyrically serious undertone.”

Multi-instrumentalists Lino C (vocals, guitar & keyboard), Coa L (guitar, keyboard, & backup vocals) and Joe A (vocals & keyboard) came together in Mexico City around 2013. Since their start, the dynamic trio released debut single “Tell Me”  and have performed in notable NYC venues like Pianos, Mercury Lounge, Coco 66 and Connie’s Ric Rac. On After A While, DF3 had the privilege of collaborating with mixing masters Michael Brauer, Dave Boscombe and Chris Zane. Lead single “Tell Me" has been mentioned by Musicnotez Magazine, who raved, “The song has a real retro feel to it with the beats and melody. However, the way it’s mixed it’s like the 80′s collided with the future to create this amazingly unique and fresh sound.”

DF3 has been evolving since day one and are excited to become more immersed in the NYC music scene as they continue to gain more exposure playing live shows.

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Aubrey Logan

Aubrey Logan at the E-Spot Lounge: sass, jazz, and heartbreak.

Review: Aubrey Logan was in top form Thursday night at the historical E-Spot Lounge in Studio City at the edge of Hollywood, delivering her customary sass and jazz and trombone, but she raised the bar for herself with a voice that was more animated, more fun and more loaded with emotion than I have ever heard before in her live performances.

Logan’s website describes her as “breaking traditional genre barriers by combining jazz vocals with R&B, neo-soul, pop and a touch of rock”, which well describes her recordings but misses the power, emotion and sheer joy of what she can do on stage. She has always been at home in front of an audience, but she was bigger than life Thursday night despite the fact that the E-Spot was unplugged for the evening while the venue renewed its amplification permit.  No speakers made no difference to Logan; her voice - even at its softest and more heartbroken whisper - was clear in back in the room and her rubber-expressive face and Betty Boop eyes telegraphed every word and emotion as if she were starring in a silent movie.

And she worked hard.  She gave us 15 songs and an encore, along with a pianist, standup bassist, and backup singer. Some of the tunes were  her well-known mashups  and medleys of multiple songs and a few were new.  An every tune was hot, hot, hot. Both Logan and the audience were sweating when she finally said goodbye, and the LA heat wave was not the reason.

Logan, in a short red leather skirt and bright red sleeveless top – but without her signature fire-engine red platform heels -  opened the show with the Gershwin standard, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, accompanying herself on the trombone between verses and picking up the tempo halfway through with her trademark rapid  “jazz talk” lyrics.   After welcoming the audience and chatting she moved into  Bad Blood, from her Postmodern Jukebox video which is now pushing 750,000 downloads. Again bringing in the trombone, Logan made this Taylor Swift remake of Ella’s song her very own.

The pace picked up with No Girl, Logan’s trained-clear voice deepened slightly and enlarged by a backup singer, demonstrating the audience-pleasing arrangement lessons she learned on Season 8 of  American Idol. Moving into Starting to Believe, Logan unleashed the heartbreak,  filling the room with high-register emotion and deep need lyrics.  Here, she stepped out beyond past albums, beyond her previous performances and created a stronger, more passionate voice than I have heard before.  Especially memorable was Logan’s ability to turn up that passion while turning down the volume, like a red dwarf star collapsing into a black hole that is barely visible but can pull in the light from the galaxy. She brought the same power to bear later in the evening in Don’t Wanna Tell Nobody and especially in Impossible.

But the evening was not all passion and heartbreak.  She knew her fans would not let her off the stage without her very funny musical trip across the country in Route 66 (also a favorite with the audience watching the show around the world on Periscope), the audience clap-engaged Bills, along with her wrap up  song, a mashup of “My Boyfriend’s Back and Gossip, memorialized in her live video from the Republic of Pie.

The loud demand for  an encore resulted in a second Logan entrance to wild cheers and a  breathtaking performance of Wee Small Hours.  For 16 songs, trombone solos, joke, patter, clapping, audience leading and nonstop fun, Aubrey Logan showed that she is a superb musician, a killer performer and unquestionably LA’s Queen of  Sass, Jazz, and heartbreak.

Aubrey Logan available HERE

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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lewis Fieldhouse

Release: UK-based Americana songwriter, Lewis Fieldhouse, releases newest track, “Goodbye.” The single was premiered on Surviving the Golden Age, who said “with it’s melancholic storytelling but poppy melody, “Goodbye” has a classic UK summertime feel.”
Originally from the north of England, Fieldhouse arrived on the London scene in 2013. In the past couple of years, Fieldhouse’s work has caused a gained attention amongst music blogs, like The 405, Gigslutz and The Vinyl District. It’s All Indie raves Fieldhouse was “one of the most exciting singer-songwriters in London at the moment.” His tracks have been played on reputable UK stations and shows such as BBC London Introducing, Amazing Radio and BBC2. In 2015 Spread the Seed called his latest single, “Not Done Love You,” “an acoustic pop masterpiece.”
Fieldhouse is currently gigging in London and across the UK, while working on his debut album. Don’t miss out on his new track, “Goodbye,” and stay tuned for more from this upcoming artist!

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Black Vincent

Photo: Jenifer Kennedy 

Release: To say that BLACK VINCENT is simply a solo vehicle for songwriter and vocalist Coley Kennedy (Welcome to Ashley, The Buddies) is akin to stating that the Vincent Black Lightning is just a motorcycle.

Teardrop Deluxe is an album that features contributions from Kennedy’s Welcome to Ashley band mates (Pete Javier on guitars and Jeremy Barrett on bass; both played in The Buddies), who worked alongside producer/engineer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Justin Collins (Justin & The Cosmics, The Buddies) and co-producer/engineer/drummer/keyboardist Adam Landry. Scott & Kim Collins of The Smoking Flowers and The Buddies pitched in on additional guitars, vocals, and percussion.

“I've always wanted to make a ‘rainy-night’ album that's sad without being depressing,” states Kennedy. “I have always had an affinity for balladeers such as Johnnie Ray, Roy Orbison, and Frank Sinatra, as well as late-model crooners like Chris Isaak and Richard Hawley.” Teardrop Deluxe is a blend of the aforementioned artists with subtle nods to glam rock and post-punk (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychedelic Furs, T-Rex, and The Smiths).

Teardrop Deluxe, which was recorded at Playground Sound in Nashville and offers up nine simple songs of self-reflective lyrical statements about love, loss and lamentation, is a proper introduction to BLACK VINCENT: dramatic, atmospheric rock for the discriminating music fan.

Teardrop Deluxe is out now available HERE

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