In the dark times, Will there be singing? Yes, there will be singing, About the dark times. (Bertolt Brecht) We won't be led to slaughter. This is self-genocide. It's the hand of the people that's getting tenser now, And when we rise up... (Algiers) This is the musical response that dark times demand, one that not only shakes its fist but deploys it. Locally-informed global citizens, Algiers refuse to sit idly by while most contemporary artists appear perfectly content to sit out the revolution. Not only do Algiers harbor a purposeful sense of obligation in what they do on their latest resistance record The Underside Of Power, but they recognize the roots and thorns of precedent in said resistance. "This album was recorded in a political environment that collapses the late 70s economic crisis and the looming onslaught of arch-conservative neoliberalism, via Thatcher and Reagan, into the late 1930s, a world riven by fascist nationalism and white power fantasies in the US and abroad," says bassist Ryan Mahan. Their shared experiences and collective understanding of this rising tide of sinister politics compels them to make music together, to combat the potentially crippling waves of frustration and despair to let out a soulful roar, a call-to-action set to an eclectic, positively electric beat. The inclination to do otherwise is one worth fighting. Take Algiers frontman Franklin James Fisher, for example. Writing incendiary and even beauteous lyrics from inside a Manhattan nightclub's coat check room, enduring the same damn songs thumping away nightly in the next room for the pleasures of a predominantly white audience, he tends to see the bigger picture as well as its pointillistic details. "This nightclub is every nightclub in the world, basically. Whatever is being played there, whatever is happening there is happening everywhere else in the world," he says. "It's as if the entire history of music is boiled down to these fifteen artists -- and I use the term loosely," he says with an exasperated, dismissive sneer. With the world burning outside, a generation's obliviously privileged dances to a carbon copied soundtrack. It speaks volumes that a black man in America with an expensive Master's degree -- and all its overwhelming personal debt -- finds himself picking up shifts at such a place that literally manifests the culture industry's exploitation and commodification of black experience. An aptly unjust fate, Fisher is confined to an enclosed space while others move their feet freely mere steps away from him. "You have to find ways of getting through it without completely losing your mind. Luckily I'm able to escape inside my own head." Fortunately, the multiracial quartet Algiers provides more than mere distraction, but rather a revelatory creative release and wholesale rejection of the globally normative corporate playlist culture. Poke at the seasoned members' bruised flesh, and out come wafting touchpoints as disparate and intriguing as Big Black, Wendy Carlos, John Carpenter, Cybotron, The Four Tops, Portishead, Public Image Limited, Steve Reich, and Nina Simone, to name but a few. Deep echoes of Black Lives Matter and its 20th century forbears gather, surge, and subside in their often soulful work, a form of principled, acute dissent more interested in learning from the past than in evoking nostalgia. The variety of locales in which the band recorded the genre-resistant The Underside Of Power echoes their present state of diaspora, as a multinational musical cabal with no more than two members living in the same city simultaneously. The group's virtual homelessness exposes them, collectively and individually, to the codified injustices of creeping fascism, the compounding plain-sight provocations of Britain's xenophobia and Trump's America. "Brexit and the US election taking place at the beginning and towards the end of the process definitely shaped it for better or for worse," says guitarist Lee Tesche. And while many artists seem uninterested or even afraid to fully engage with these potent topics in song, Algiers has zero qualms about taking a direct approach. "We're fortunate enough now where we're able to openly talk about racist, violent police and murderous state structures," says Mahan. "When we were growing up in the South, these critiques of class and race oppression were largely and sometimes violently suppressed. It's why we take inspiration from the Panthers or the Chicano movement, to name two." Furthermore, the lack of a singular geographic base of operations only seems to creatively embolden Algiers, who've adapted in brave new ways musically. "Being separate and still wanting to write forced us to really get to grips with modern technology, to bend it to our will," says Mahan. That doesn't mean geography is not important to Algiers. As the band's very name more than implies, they are inspired by the Algerian city at the center of a struggle to overthrow its occupiers, a symbol of dignity and resistance to oppressed people everywhere. Adding to this Casbah rocking mix of ideas is the relatively recent inclusion of drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party. Joining the group for the touring cycle following their prior album, he'd spent time gelling with the original trio as a core component of their simply ferocious live sets to understand and help shape the dynamic. "I was very conscious of being the new guy, working out how to augment the emerging compositions without distracting from them," he says. For a band that seems to revel and thrive in flux, Tong's substantial role in the making of The Underside Of Power worked out well. "For me, what it is to work as a musician has changed drastically since I first started out and Algiers has shown me that there is still so much to master." Beyond the technical necessities living their respective lives both in and outside of music, Algiers' continued deviation from a more traditional band approach created a more versatile sound, one that better incorporates a collective and respective panoply of influences and styles. "We were determined to push our sound even further than before -- weirder, gentler, catchier, noisier, groovier -- and had hope that we could somehow translate our live energy to record," says Tesche. Some of this is informed by their choice of collaborators in this process, a crew that includes Adrian Utley [Portishead], Ben Greenberg [Uniform, The Men], Randall Dunn [Sunn 0)))], among others. Pick any track off The Underside of Power and the reference points expand exponentially, a dizzying and thrilling Recommended-If-You-Like list that would consume a series of afternoons. Featuring a fully-sanctioned sample of slain Black Panther Fred Hampton, the revolutionary "Walk Like A Panther" presents an alternate reality where Adrian Sherwood produced Yeezus instead of Rick Rubin, with Fisher bellowing justifiable threats over a storm of formidable sonics. "Death March" fuses post-punk primacy to the Italo-horror tradition, in an effort to mirror a looming and perpetual sense of modern dread. Elsewhere, the raucous "Cleveland" turns into a full-on demonstration, with names of victims of institutionally sanctioned racial violence like Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice invoked over a neck-snapping electro beat. The dangerously poppy title track finds a glorious midpoint between Suicide and The Temptations, making for the catchiest expression of outrage this side of the '70s. A molotov cocktail of a single, that particular song represents a potential paradox for Algiers, the maintaining of a renegade righteousness in the midst of a peppy soul tune. "It's more important than ever in this particular time, but it's something we've never shied away from," says Tesche. The band doesn't concern themselves with that risk. "No matter what your messaging is, you can't control what people will or won't take away from it," says Mahan. "The only thing you can do is put stuff of substance out there." -Gary Suarez, April 2017
English singer-songwriter and guitarist born March 3, 1953 in Paddington, London. American indie rock band founded in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1984. Yo La Tengo has been experimenting with electronics and remixers for several years now.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Grammy-Winning Salsa KingsThousands thronged the streets to hear them play the Montreal International Jazz Festival, millions more have listened (and invariably danced) to their Grammy-winning albums, and now "you" can experience the amazing Spanish Harlem Orchestra live at CSULB's Carpenter Performing Arts Center. With full-bodied big band style, suave vocals, and crisp new arrangements of classic pieces, the Orchestra sets the standard for authentic, New York-style salsa. Get ready for an exhilarating program of rumbas, cha-cha-ch??s, mambos, son montunos, and other styles from the golden era of Latin dance music from this acclaimed 13-member group.
"Love From a Stranger", Adapted From an Agatha Christie StoryIn "Love From a Stranger", Cecily Harrington is engaged to Nigel Lawrence, who is due to return shortly from the Sudan to marry her. When she wins a big prize in a sweepstake, she decides to postpone the wedding and spend a portion of the money on a European trip. There she meets Bruce Lovell, a much-traveled and very manly man who sweeps the romance-craving Cecily off her feet, marries her and takes her to his out-of-the-way cottage in the country. Soon, however, it appears that Lovell may not be all that he seems and Cecily find herself trapped and terrified. Adapted from an Agatha Christie story, see Frank Vosper's "Love From a Stranger" at Westminster Community Playhouse.
A tear in the firmament. Beyond the noxious haze of our national nightmare - as structures of social justice and global progress topple in our midst - there lies a faint but undeniable glow in the distance. What is it? Like so many before us we are drawn to the beacon. But only by the bootstraps of our indignation do we go so boldly into the dark to find it. And so Sheer Mag has let the sparks fly since their outset, with an axe to grind against all that clouds the way. A caustic war cry, seething in solidarity with all those that suffer the brunt of ignorance and injustice in an imbalanced system. Both brazen and discrete, loud yet precise, familiar but never quite like this - SHEER MAG crept up from Philadelphia cloaked in bold insignia to channel our social and political moment with grit and groove. Cautious but full of purpose. What is it? By making a music both painfully urgent and spiritually timeworn, SHEER MAG speak to a modern pain: to a people that too feel their flame on the verge of being extinguished, yet choose to burn a bit brighter in spite of that threat. With their debut LP, the cloak has been lifted. It is time to reclaim something that has been taken from us. Here the band rolls up their sleeves, takes to the streets, and demands recompense for a tradition of inequity that???s poisoned our world. However, it is in our ability to love - our primal human right to give and receive love - that the damage of such toxicity is newly explored. Love is a choice we make. We ought not obscure, neglect, or deny that choice. Through the tumult and the pain, the camaraderie and the cause, the band continues to burn a path into that great beyond. But where are we headed? On NEED TO FEEL YOUR LOVE, they makes their first full-length declaration of light seen just beyond our darkness. Spoken plainly, without shame: It is love. This - is SHEER MAG.
Australian trio Middle Kids released their debut, self-titled EP via Domino on February 17th, just days after making their live television debut playing rapidly-rising single "Edge Of Town" on Conan. The band's anthemic sound is a combination of hooky tune craft, ripping Music Row-inspired slide guitar leads, and soaring melodic vocals. Middle Kids shine especially bright live, where an added gear takes them from 0 to 60 in quiet-to-loud dynamics with hair-raising emotional impact. Since the original release of "Edge of Town" in 2016, the song has accrued a staggering 5 million plays on Spotify -- a bonafide streaming hit. The song currently sits at the top of the Sirius XMU chart, and has been championed by non-comm and commercial radio stations such as KEXP, KCRW, WXPN, WFUV, WEQX, WWCD and many more. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Hannah Joy, with Tim Fitz (producer and multi-instrumentalist), and Harry Day (drums) rounding out the team, Middle Kids combine echoes of the infamous female-fronted indie rock bands of the 90s and early 2000s, like Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders, and Belly, with thoroughly modern production and a deep love and respect of the songwriting process, making them a rare species in today's music landscape. There's a contagious joy to this new band -- wide-eyed and optimistic, but with an emotional rawness that touches the nerve of even the first-time listener. Middle Kids are currently on tour in the United States with Cold War Kids, and will be finishing up in New York on April 1st with a sold-out show at Baby's All Right before heading home to Sydney to join Ryan Adams on his Australian dates.
The first Sunday of every month and is FREE. The RnR Flea will bring together a collection of impressive hand picked vendors including vintage collections and antiquities dealers, vintage clothing, jewelry makers, music memorabilia, vinyl, local food vendors, food trucks, craftsmen and used musical instruments dealers.
Angel City Jazz Festival Honors Thelonius MonkThe Angel City Jazz Festival celebrates a decade of cultivating and revitalizing the jazz culture in Los Angeles with a tribute to innovative composer/pianist Thelonius Monk. Monk's influence on the jazz scene is inevitable -- It can be found in practically every musician's compositions thanks to his original, radical ideas of dissonance and angular melodic twists during his start in the 1940s. The second most recorded jazz composer (after Duke Ellington), Monk wrote what are now standard jazz compositions, including "Straight, No Chaser," "Round Midnight" and "In Walked Bud." Presenting at the gorgeous Ford Theatres in Hollywood, the festival kicks off performing "Thelonious Monk's Afro-Cuban Dream," adding the clave to Carmen McRae's "Carmen sings Monk." They'll wrap things up with a DJ twist when DJs Mark de Clive-Lowe, DJ Logic and Deantoni Parks sample and cut Monk's iconic pieces.
Taking influence from the likes of Lifetime, Gorilla Biscuits, and New Found Glory, Four Year Strong built an aggressive and melody-riddled combination of hardcore, emo pop, and pop-punk upon their formation in Worcester, Massachusetts. The band's lineup -- vocalist/guitarists Dan O'Connor and Alan Day, bassist Joe Weiss, drummer Jake Massucco, and synth player Josh Lyford -- was cemented during the musicians' high school tenure in 2003, though a form of the band had already existed for several years. Following the appearance of two self-released EPs, Four Year Strong signed a deal with New Jersey-based imprint I Surrender Records. Their debut full-length, Rise or Die Trying, was issued on the label in September 2007. Tour dates with groups like the Starting Line, Valencia, and From First to Last kept them on the road for the remainder of the year. Their next release, an album of '90s covers called Explains It All, arrived at the end of 2009 and was followed a year later by the original set Enemy of the World. At this point, the band decided to lose its synth element, paring down to a quartet and parting ways with Josh Lyford in the process. In 2011, Four Year Strong went into the studio with producer David Bendeth to work on their fourth album, In Some Way, Shape, or Form, which was released at the end of the year. Their serious new tone took many fans by surprise and they took a few years to deliver a follow-up. Released in 2014, their EP Go Down in History was considered a sort of return to form. In early 2015, nearly four years after their last LP, they announced the release of their self-titled fifth album and first for California-based indie Pure Noise. ~ Corey Apar & Timothy Monger