89.9 KCRW Presents
MUSIC TASTES GOOD - Friday Only 9/23
Rival Sons, Rx Bandits, Living Colour, Son Little, The Sound of Urchin, Spare Parts For Broken Hearts, Leather Tramp
335 E Broadway
Long Beach, CA, 90802
4:00 PM (event ends at 11:59 PM)
Watch & Listen
New album Hollow Bones comes out June 10th 2016.
Preorder now: www.hollowbones.earache.com
‘Fizzing with freshness’ - BBC
‘Sunkissed psychedelia and irresistible hooks, with the band’s soul, funk and blues influences thrust joyously to the fore... If you thrilled to the Black Keys’ El Camino, it’s time to meet your new favourite band ‘- Guardian
Released in June 2014 via Earache Records, Great Western Valkyrie puts Rival Sons freewheeling fuzz and improvisational stage ethos to wax and cements their position as America’s next great rock’n’roll band. With a ‘conscious decision for this band to be just what it is’ (Jay Buchanan) this album is more cohesive than any Rival Sons album before.
From the beach cities of Southern California, the time was ripe for Rival Sons. Guitarist Scott Holiday had long been searching for something that would fit his psychedelic vision and fuzzy garage rock tones, then things fell into place when blues singer/songwriter Jay Buchanan put the solo career on the backburner and gave rock ‘n’ roll a chance. Scott Holiday: ‘a random find on the Internet points me to Jay Buchanan. In 13 seconds I realize I have just come across the singer I've looked for over the last 10-12 years of my life.’
Jay was invited to record vocals on the band’s debut release ‘Before the fire’ ‘Singing On My Way in a single take. We never even ran tape a 2nd time. That was a first to witness for me. And so it was born... Rival Sons.’
Four albums on, with an ever-growing fan base the band go from strength to strength and have never looked back.
Emerging from a scene where over-production was commonplace, writing and recording in a hotbox of activity without prior discussion or preparation came to be what Rival Sons is about. ‘We have a reputation for recording our albums very quickly and keeping things very live - off the floor.’
As Holiday puts it after recording Before The Fire: ‘This is just the simplest way to not cheat ourselves or the listener. Rock and Roll can’t be over-thought, and if it is, it loses its immediacy and instinct … it needs to be a knife fight, not a choreographed knife dance’
The Rival Sons EP was recorded soon after Jay Buchanan joined the band and it caught the attention of Earache Records founder Digby Pearson who signed a deal in November 2010 that led to the recording of Pressure & Time in early 2011. The album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Dave Cobb (who has worked on all Rival Sons albums) and released worldwide in May 2011. The band committed to creating an experience that closely matches the attitude and excitement of one of their live performances. Coming straight off a 4 week stint on the road, Rival Sons wrote, recorded, and mixed the album in just 20 days; ensuring a rawness for both the listener and the band; explains Buchanan, ‘in the code of the Samurai, any decision must be made between 3 and 5 breaths … writing by that code forces us to act, go with our instincts and really, truly listen to each other. Creatively, you’re bringing your most immediate instincts.’
Pressure & Time opened a door to Europe where from their first European show at Camden Barfly to Shepherds Bush Empire in 2012, there has hardly been a show that was not sold out. The band quickly picked up European shows and festivals and became known for a wild improvisational live show.
Jay Buchanan “Each one of us is coming at this thing we call a band for different reasons and with a very different approach. It's an unlikely collective really but when it all comes together there's an energy I don't see happening anywhere else. If rock'n'roll is our base form I would say, that transparent energy in our performance and solid writing are our highest functions as a band. Give everything you have, every time. Each time you approach that stage, every night, you're waiting for someone to call you out for the fraud you really are so you empty your pockets and give them everything you have inside of you just trying to prove that you've come there for a greater reason than just wanting to be the center of someone's attention. Music is fucking heavy business.”
Seeing the creative process as a snapshot, only spending less than a month in the studio for each album, writing and recording live under one roof to keeps the process raw but also grueling. Straight off the back of more touring early 2012 the band went into Honey Pye studios in Nashville in February 2012 for 22 days to write and record their new album again with Dave Cobb and Vance Powell (Jack White, Kings of Leon etc). Experimenting with old analog equipment from legendary studios that producer Dave Cobb had collected the band found a warmth in their sound for the album that would be Head Down.
With growing accolades and chart success the band were presented with “Breakthrough Artist” award by Vic Reeves at the Classic Rock awards at the end of 2012, they also graced the cover of the magazine as well as several other publications.
Between albums Rival Sons have a taxing tour schedule, original bassist Robin Everhart left the band in August 2013, finding that the touring life didn’t agree with him. Playing club shows, stadiums and festivals, the band find new fans wherever they are. Continuing with their touring schedule long-time friend of the band Dave Beste (Maroon5, Rocco Deluca and The Burden) joined on bass before the band returned to the studio January 2014 again with producer Dave Cobb in Nashville, the band recorded their 5th release ‘Great Western Valkyrie’
“Opting to keep the sound in-tact and very accurate as to deliver to the listener exactly what was happening in the room when we put it down. We also felt a big desire to make a few left turns musically on this record - which we did. You will get the rock n roll…but on several tracks you get something much more hybrid.” – Scott Holiday
Called ‘A vital force in the modern age’ by The Guardian, Rival Sons often approach their music as if they were on a mission. Drummer Michael Miley: ‘We’re pushing the envelope of modern music; forcing it to stay awake and active through instinctive and honest music delivered with a blistering live performance’
‘In a ideal world, I want our records and live shows to envelop the listener to the level of forgetting daily worries. Just be free and lose (or FIND) yourself in the music.’ – Scott Holiday
June 2009 - BEFORE THE FIRE (self released)
Feb 2010/2011 - RIVAL SONS EP (self released and on ITunes via Earache Records)
June 2011 - PRESSURE & TIME (Earache Records)
August 2012 – HEAD DOWN (Earache Records)
June 2014 – GREAT WESTERN VALKYRIE (Earache Records)
June 2016 - HOLLOW BONES (Earache Records)
Rx Bandits is a progressive indie rock band from Long Beach, CA. Gemini, Her Majesty is their sixth studio album; simply put, it is their best album to date. A mosaic of modern composition, Gemini, Her Majesty not only spans the construct of time, but is sure to be timeless, serving as the portrait of a band defined.
The album's narrative is multi-faceted, traveling along layers of parallel time and parallel struggle. Feeling the tremendous weight of loss from two childhood friends whose journey ended in too-soon tragedy, vocalist Matthew Embree was affected by both recurring dreams of a young girl, and the band's real-time struggle of watching one of their own- bassist Joe Troy- fall captive to the same drug dependency that had taken the lives of the aforementioned friends two years earlier. The dreams inhabited an ambiguous space for Embree, and he began the initial songwriting process using lyrics to probe the possibilities of who she was and why she was. Six songs in it became clear: the yet-to-be-titled album was emerging to be at once the eulogy of lost friends, and serve as an exploration of the delicate nature of the band's existence. After all, Rx Bandits had recently been on an indefinite hiatus, affected by that which comes with age: the magnified responsibilities of fatherhood and family, the balance of art and life, the wear and tear of the road, and the polar nature of an unforgiving industry.
Writing each song as if it were their last, Rx Bandits carved out an emotional masterwork, illustrating fragility through the juxtaposition of precision and raw energy ("Ruby Cumulous", "Will You Be Tomorrow", "Wide Open"), and thoughtful songwriting and improvisation ("Stargazer", "Fire To The Ocean", "Future, Buddy"). With less than half the album written upon entering Prairie Sun Recording Studio in Cotati, CA, cohesion was critical, yet animosity and tension- derivatives of Troy's drug dependency- still pulled heavy on hearts and minds. As Troy moved in and out of rehab, the steady hand of drummer Chris Tsagakis, multi-instrumentalist and fellow songwriter Steve Choi, producer Jason Cupp, and a determined Embree continued to push through the process with a new understanding of balance, both in their lives and in their songs. The layers of the narrative, however, continued to grow in density.
The title "Gemini, Her Majesty" came to Embree in one of the recurring dreams connected to the girl who he had identified as the friend he lost two years prior, and one subject of the eulogy. Her loss had only compounded another; both friends had died within the spatial construct of Gemini; one male and one female; both were conflicted by drugs and both waxed and waned with this conflict in the same way the band was having to witness one of their own struggle in real time. Meanwhile, somewhere in Nevada, GSL-pioneer-turned-iconic-artist Sonny Kay was drafting the cover art with no context to work from. What he produced would ultimately leave Chris, Joe, Matthew, and Steve beside themselves: a female form that was the spitting image of the young woman that had taken her own life, the young woman who now lived in dreams, levitating along the graceful crest of stars and sky.
With this friend now timeless, painted amongst the stars, and Joe Troy emerging from rehab to once again complete the unified front of a band weathered-yet-determined to reach self-actualization, the album of their collective lifetimes has been created. The parallels of the dream state, the past, real-time struggle, and the posterity that this work embodies, coalesced to become one. With all of their pieces aligned, Rx Bandits look to the future with fervor, armed with a forward-thinking opus showcasing cunning lyricism that is as pointed as it is poignant, and a musical tenacity that has more in common with Shudder To Think and The Mars Volta than the Bad Brains of earlier milestones.
Aim your gaze towards the stars and share a reverence for those unseen intricacies that shaped this timeless portrait of a band defined.
During the 1980s, rock had become completely segregated and predictable; the opposite of the late '60s/early '70s, when such musically and ethnically varied artists as Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone, and Santana ruled the Earth. But bands such as New York's Living Colour helped break down the doors by the end of the '80s, leading to a much more open-minded musical landscape that would eventually pave the way for future bands (Rage Against the Machine, Sevendust, etc.). Starting with Vivid and continuing on future albums, the band showed that rock could still convey a message. 2013 Marks the 25th anniversary of Vivid, Living Colour's debut record, which will also see them embark on a 25th anniversary tour.
Playing his songs across the United States and in Europe over the past year, with a wide range of artists and to varying audiences, Son Little has noticed something particular about his own music.
“As I’ve been going around to different places with this very eclectic mix of other acts, one thing that’s struck me about my music is just how American it is,” he says.
And while he’s not wearing a stars-and-stripes polo while shooting fireworks and holding a sousaphone, his sentiment rings true. Here in this proud, brave land of blurred lines and regional dishes is a musical melting pot that sizzles and smokes, from sea to shining sea. Son Little is stirring that broth.
“Part of what’s unique about this country is its intense mixture of things. People in different regions don’t always understand each other that well, but music can go places that people won’t always go. That’s part of who I am and definitely part of the music I’m making, so now more than ever I feel very American.”
The artist formerly known as Aaron Livingston knows his nation well. He was born to a preacher and a teacher in Los Angeles, where he learned how to listen and how to play before moving east to New York and New Jersey. He dropped in and out of schools in Manhattan then Philadelphia, and there he collaborated with acts like The Roots and RJD2. He first planted his flag as Son Little with last year’s highly praised EP, Things I Forgot, a small collection of big songs that showcased his ability to hop across genres as well as he does state lines.
The pastiche and reach of his music is all over the map, literally. And he can hear a map in his music. In it, he can recognize the places he’s lived, traveled, and played to, places explored and discovered. “I hear places in the songs without trying to evoke them while writing. I can trace where a lot of my music came from, as my life and my family touch so many different places. I can hear the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in my voice, the way I say some of the words; I hear New York, definitely in my lyrics. Detroit is a place I haven’t spent a ton of time in, but if I explore the music of Detroit, I can hear myself in there, too.”
The bins of Son Little’s record store are divided into sections called “Tuesday 3 a.m.” or “Fluorescent Blues” or “Saying Goodbye” rather than “Rock” or “Soul” or “Pop.” It’s a space where people can discover fresh sounds they might not have been expecting based on feelings, emotions, and truth rather than imaginary lines drawn in the sand. “I never thought that genres matter, I just mixed them all up and put them next to each other,” he says. “Making a mix growing up, I’d put Nirvana next to Nas next to Coltrane; Hendrix next to Naughty By Nature, whatever. I always thought of it that way. I actually feel like it’s maybe the norm that people don’t even think about it anymore, except in the industry, where there’s more pressure to conform. Maybe the landscape is so blurry it makes people nervous, they just want to categorize something. Using band names as adjectives, that’s kinda cool but I look at it from my own thing and it’s gonna need more band names.”
In truth, Son Little’s music is devoid of genre, as it blends sounds together into a bright white hotness, like all the colors in the spectrum do when finding focus as one. As the saturation of light increases, color appears more pure. His new full-length album, Son Little, does the same. The sonic elements create visuals and vice versa. The album’s cover image is a saturated snapshot of a whirring, suited Son, worked over with long exposures and leaky ink, revealing a brilliant portrait of the blurry artist: the pure man with the pure music. “There’s a lot of different colors there and they kinda fade into each other, but the constant for me is the dream, the smudge, the saturation,” he says. “Every color there is very deep, very rich; you put them all together and it’s the bright light of the sun.”
The songs inside follow suit. They teem with small moments creating a bigger picture, a pointillist art piece made from junkyards and viewed from space. Pulling inspiration from the color wheel diaspora of American music, Son Little draws from a deep well, using different buckets to visit and revisit, finding flourishes to add to the core of his songs. There, at the end of “Doctor’s In,” is a roving banjo; there, at the start of “Go Blue Blood Red,” is a keyboard riff culled from a kid’s Blue Man Group keyboard; there, in “Carbon,” is an electric Howlin’ Wolf stomp and start. For Son Little, studio time is a joy, where every good idea leads to four more, so it’s back to the buckets.
And all this weaving and digging is in his DNA. It comes easily and honestly, since he is the person he claims to be and has lived the life he sings about. It’s all there in his lyrics, the tales of struggle and joy, of fear and fortitude. His words, chosen with care and delivered with skill, address relationships with class and race as well as with people and projects. Vulnerability and virility are sung in equal parts, showing us the actual measure of a man rather than the imaginary bulletproof titan that pervades today’s airwaves. In this world so concerned with the “realness” of its artists, in this industry of hyper-categorizing and compartmentalizing every last detail, it’s easy to forget what “being true” is all about. Somewhere along the path it became cool to clam up, to stay icy, to keep in line and collect your check. It takes courage to be real, and to Son Little, the only way to be real is to simply be yourself.
“The easy way to describe my audience would be to say it’s pretty broad, but the more accurate way of saying it is that my audience is the brave,” he says. “It’s the people who move amongst different crowds easily, who are open to new things and not waiting for other people to tell them what to like, who are very certain and know what they want to hear. That feeling has been strengthened by all these shows I’ve played in different markets, with artists who are so different from each other. I meet these people, and the thing they have most in common is that they don’t care what the trend is, or what other people think about it, what’s it’s called. They don’t care about any of that shit, they just like what they like and that’s that. It’s not about gender, age, race, nationality, or any of those things; it’s just about how you feel inside, about the world. It’s more of an attitude, a sense, than it is a genre or trend. It’s not a shirt at Urban Outfitters. It’s a lot deeper than that.”
To call Son Little, both the artist and the album, brave would be perhaps the most apt compliment you could pay. Like his fearless heroes—Hendrix, Dylan, Prince, Nas—what he is doing takes guts, but in truth, it’s the only way he knows how.
“That’s what it’s about, be brave, do the thing you’re afraid to do. When I look at it now, the whole album is that, every song is that. There’s nothing but that. There’s some aspects of it that I probably wanted to hold back or edit and just didn’t. I think I’ve learned not to censor the things that make me uncomfortable. On ‘About A Flood’ I sing, ‘What if every tear in me comes out?’ That’s an as-not-hard a fucking thing as you can say. At the end of the day I have to say to myself, ‘I don’t care, I said it.’ I’m gonna say it. Every single song has an element of that, in the lyrics and also musically. Let it be what it is.”
Salutes to the bright, brave light of the Son.
The Sound of Urchin
Sound of Urchin ("SOU", "Urchin", "The Sound of MF Urchin") is a diverse "outsider arena-rock" band from Brooklyn NY and New Hope PA. SOU is known for their eclectic songs and unique line-up of a drummer who sings, two lead guitarists, and a bassist, and for their energetic, spontaneous live shows and heavy touring schedules. SPIN writes “This quartet scours the mainstream and the underground to scoop up heaping helpings of diverse musical styles, and they've smashed together a vibrant rock sound that shrieks with electric energy”.
Sound of Urchin has released an album and two E.P.’s on major label RCA Records; an album on Hybrid Recordings, the independent label run by former A&M Records label head Al Cafaro and legendary concert promoter John Scher; and their debut E.P. on lead-singer/drummer Tomato’s own independent Steven Records.
SOU is best known for the 2005 song “There Are People In The Clouds”, which they performed on the CBS Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, as well as the breakthrough video for the song “Scary Skull Eyes”, which was aired on MTV2’s 120 Minutes .
Urchin's diverse style has also allowed SOU to be the Zelig-esque chameleons of rock, giving them entrance into diverse rock worlds, through touring with bands like Tenacious D, Ween, Dio/Deep Purple/The Scorpions, Cracker, Mike Watt, Slightly Stoopid, Fishbone, The North Mississippi Allstars, The Urge, SR-71, Trik Turner, Bargain Music, The Ziggens, as well as sharing stages with Public Enemy, Twisted Sister, Slash's Snakepit, Dick Dale, The Butthole Surfers, Everclear, Project Object, Vernon Reid, Lit, 2 Skinnee J's, Cobra Verde, and Local H.
Urchin is also known for its affiliation with the band Ween; Dean Ween has been a mentor to the band and produced their first major label release “The Orange E.P.”, Tomato (musician) and B-ILL play in Dean Ween and Guy Heller’s Moistboyz (featured on the "Live Jihad" DVD release) and have played with Ween and Dean Ween's Tenderloin, B-ILL played guitar on Ween’s “The Mollusk” album, and Tomato (musician) plays drums for Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz' Crescent Moon. SOU is also known for their affiliation with Tenacious D; Urchin was the opening act on their 2001 tour, and Tomato (musician) played drums with them for their 2002 Comedy Central Crank Yankers recording of “Friendship”.
Spare Parts For Broken Hearts
Spare Parts for Broken Hearts has captured the allegiance of '90s Alt/Grunge band listeners, as well as female-fronted lineup lovers with the release of 2 EPs and hundreds of U.S. shows. Sarah Green and Laurita Guaico often alternate between bass and guitar live as they team up for the groups' catchy combo of vocal layers. Dark lyrics, big vocals and noisy feedback are the anticipated elements of Spare Parts' signature sound. Green and Guaico first toured together in Fullerton based all-girl band Relish, named one of the "129 Greatest OC Bands Ever" by the OC Weekly. SP/BH formed in 2010 when all original members returned to Long Beach, CA in different bands from another run on the Van's Warped Tour. They were later joined by their newest drummer as their second EP, I Love You was slated for release. In 2011, SP/BH released their first self-titled EP as they were invited to play SXSW. They were also named #15 in The Examiner's Top 25 Bands of Long Beach that year. At the end of 2013, SP/BH won 1st place in the Slidebar/Guitar Center SOCO Music Competition landing them a supporting slot at a sold-out show at House of Blues, Anaheim with long time OC favorite, Lit. Since then the new 5 track EP titled I Love You was released on Valentine's Day 2014, and is now available on iTunes. SP/BH recently battled it out again, this time in the Reddwire/Orange County Music League Battle of the Bands. The number 1 band would get the opportunity to record and release an EP completely funded by those companies, and Spare Parts for Broken Hearts will be recording that EP in October of 2014.
When songwriter Jake Abernathie and drummer Flint Lidar first met in 2009, their love of music formed a strong friendship between them, but it wasn't until later that autumn when the Yucaipa-Pendleton Fire forced them and their families out of their homes for several days that they began to creatively collaborate. With nothing to do but watch their hometown smolder, the two spent their time writing music, and thus Leather Tramp's predecessor, The Pendleton Project, was born. The project grew in size, recruiting several other locals in the area, including vocalist Sydney Funderburk. Pendleton often performed in the Inland Empire, but also reached the Los Angeles area as well. During these shows, strong ties were made with a nearby Beaumont-based band, fronted by Lucas Cathey, and the two groups would often join forces in their proceeding performances.
But The Pendleton Project eventually dwindled in numbers; some bandmates moved away due to schooling, and Jake and Flint's musical pursuits separated. The two began playing in several side projects, and nearly two years passed before they resumed their collaborative efforts.
In the summer of 2013, after a short and spontaneous Pendleton Project reunion performance at a local mic night, Jake decided to start putting together a new group: Leather Tramp. Feeling as though many of the songs he wrote while leading The Pendleton Project, among other pieces written after, never reached their full musical potential, he composed and arranged several of his songs for the massive ensemble that became Leather Tramp. Originally this attempt was designed to be a one-time show, hoping to convey his vision of his music (at least once) for his small hometown of Yucaipa. Planning with former sister-bandmate Lucas Cathey, who booked bands at the local venue, Jake recruited him, former Pendleton members Flint and Sydney, and a small army of musicians for the singly planned debut of Leather Tramp. The search for orchestral members in Southern California was no easy task, but the group managed to focus its efforts just in time for its grand performance in early August. Expecting the band to disperse as quickly as it had formed due to its logistical challenges, Jake was surprised to find that many of the players called upon for the one-time event wanted to know when the group’s next performance would be.
Leather Tramp continued to thrive from that point on, and was joined by an array of the debut performers, including trumpeter Chandler Riley, trombonist Gary Soland, violinist Laura Bedol, and violist Ashley Wright. With Jake and the majority of the members studying music at California State University of Long Beach, the band began performing in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, eventually recruiting keyboardist John-Michael O’Brien, bassist Marc Encabo, and cellist Cole Syverson. Bringing a unique mix of performers to the Greater LA area with their eleven member troupe, Leather Tramp packed stages with surprising agility and ease, showcasing their versatility as an ensemble as well as their talent as individual musicians.
Now joined by violinists Miko Shudo and Elizabeth Chavez, and woodwind doubler Lawrence Pi, the dozen continues to perform around Southern California, taking the stage at multiple music festivals, venues, and showcases while turning heads with their dynamic sound.
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