Monday, March 29, 2010

Rehashing Old Business...

I’ve been back in Palm Springs for almost a week now and still having lots of neck, shoulder and arm pain.  The upside - relatively cheap and powerful drugs.  Unfortunately, I’m still not up to snuff re: my typing skills.  So, I decided to repost some older reviews of some of my most favoritist artists for the next few days, just in case you missed them first time around.  
Hopefully I’ll be back on the horse in a few days and ready to pummel you with new material.
Patrick Doval (originally posted 11/27/09)
Digging through my Myspace Friends’ Friends I found this recording/video artist named Parick Doval and instantly fell in love with his sound.  So much so that I went right to itunes and purchased his two collections: Deliverance and Fractured.  Very retro-eighties proto/pre/post - or whatever - goth, psychedelia ala early New Order, Cure, Siouxsie, etc.  His videos likewise possess that same naive early MTV quality - they dare to be artsy as opposed to the banal, unabashed lifestyle porn that most video ‘artists’ currently strive to embody.   
I especially appreciate his use of the bass as a musical instrument (rather than as a tool for irritating one’s neighbors at 3am - Uh oh, am I showing my age here?).
He’s unsigned, and his recordings are, as with most unsigned artists and their very limited budgets, a bit raw.  But I think that actually works in his favor, lending his music that uncluttered, underproduced sound that made bands such as Bauhaus and Joy Division so distinctive.  
Standout songs:
Ashes of Life:  Reminds me a lot of post-Joy Division-New Order (when they were still fresh and original).  Although Patrick’s vocals foil the comparison, being more dramatic and vibrant than Bernard Sumner’s deadpan monotone.  The video is also a lot of fun.  Can’t get the freakin’ song out of my head.
Don’t let me go:  Sounds like it could be a lost track from some early Cure album, say Seventeen Seconds or Pornography.  Extremely haunting and moodily melodic.  Another one I can’t stop thinking about.  
Many Faces: More aggressive and Industrial than the others.  Reminds me a bit of Gary Numan’s more recent work.  
Empty Road
OK, no matter how much I write here, it won’t do justice to Doval’s music.  I urge you to check him out.  Really great, compelling material.
For more info on Patrick you can visit these sites:
Download Patrick Doval at Apple iTunes

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back to the Music

I was still stuck in my hotel room most of the day yesterday, so I don't have a lot to share re: the SXSW festival.  But I wanted to write at least a little something about music this morning because, since writing about my pinched nerve, my Google AdSense has begun only displaying ads re: health issues, especially nerve injuries.  And that's sort of creeping me out right now.  I hope that simply providing a header with the right keywords will remedy that   : /

I'm Really bummed at the moment that I missed so much of the festival - I'm certain my neck/shoulder nerve issues arose due to my insistence upon driving from SoCal to Texas - next time I'm going to bite the bullet and fly.

Once my shoulder and arm are back in working order I do plan to devote a blog entry to my other interesting experiences here in Austin, such as the afternoon I spent at the local Urgent Care unit and the hours upon hours wasted in my room watching the news coverage re: the healthcare debate.  And, of course, the local news coverage of the festival that's been so near, yet so far away, will find its way into my blog, as well.

I am feeling much better today and am planning to spend the day with some artist and musician friends of mine here in Austin.  And I will definitely get downtown, at least for a while, to experience these final two days of the festival today and tomorrow.


Friday, March 19, 2010

What a Pain in the Neck!

Last time I checked in here I was on my way to Austin and the SXSW festival.  I've been in Austin since Tuesday 3/16, but have yet to actually make it downtown for the festival.  I apparently pinched a nerve in my neck and have been laid up in my hotel room in considerable pain since my arrival.  Finally went to the E-room yesterday and got some killer drugs which, while not alleviating all my pain completely, are definitely helping me quite a bit.  It's been very difficult to type with my neck and shoulder hurting, which is why I haven't checked in sooner.

I will get down to the festival today and tomorrow and will comment on what I find down there as soon as I'm able.

Thanks for your patience and support!


Monday, March 15, 2010

SXSW Vol. 1

Why am I sitting with my laptop (on my lap-top), on a bed, in a weathered - though recently painted - prefab oak furniture and retro-British horse and hound print-drenched room at the Best Western off Highway 10 in Sonora, TX?  Aside from sitting out the most relentless downpour, the most garish flashes of lightening and the loudest, window-rattling-est, room-shaking-est thunder I've heard/felt in all my many (many) days?

Well, I'm on the third day of a four-day driving trip from Palm Springs, CA to Austin, TX for the musical leg of the SXSW Festival.  Why am I doing this?  Well, because I've never been to the festival and, from what I understand, it's the place to be for any and everybody interested in contemporary music.

Oh, you want to know why I'm driving.  I get it.

Well, not sure I have a sane answer to that question.  Especially now, as I sit here, hobbled by this uniquely nasty storm.  I suppose the long and short of it - in that order - is that I find the need, at least once a year, to venture out into the desert wilds of the American Southwest, accompanied by little more than my ipod, my thoughts and as much luggage as I can fit into my Beetle's 2'x2' trunk, in order to keep my head clear and my creativity flowing.  As I'm way overdue for that, I figured I'd take advantage of this opportunity to get out and do some of that well-needed head clearing.  And I'm morbidly afraid to fly.

I do it from time to time - fly, that is - when I absolutely have to.  I flew to Orlando, FL last year about this time for an academic conference.  I considered driving there, as well, but decided that would just be insane.  However, driving more than half that distance for this year's voyage seemed perfectly lucid two days ago.  Now, not so sure.  Particularly as I contemplate the return trip.  But I'll fret about that come next Monday.

For now, I'm looking forward to getting into Austin tomorrow - as soon as the weather permits - and setting up my temporary HQ at the Austin Marriott near the airport.  I'd originally booked a hotel downtown, where I'd have been able to walk to all the major venues with ease, but there was some sort of technical mixup and now I'm stuck out by the airport.  No need to finger point in terms of whose to blame for the snafu, although I'm certain it was the Marriott hotel chain's fault and not mine.  But honestly, I'm just happy to have a place to stay.  A vacant and affordable hotel room is a rare find in Austin at the moment.  So I'll withhold my complaints to the management until after the festival's conclusion - don't want to rock the boat just yet - never know when another "accidental" techno-glitch my occur and leave me afloat and stranded with nowhere to stay at all.

I'll check in with you all again once I'm settled in Austin.  After that, I intend to send out periodic dispatches from the field as the week progresses.  As I'm disinclined to spend days on end deluged by major industry folks - there are already too many others willing to do that - I plan to spend my time exploring some of the more tangential, and, I expect, compelling venues that will undoubtedly emerge from within the city's alternative underbelly.  Also, I couldn't afford festival tickets.

So, until then, pray for my safe deliverance from the perilous abyss of rural Texas into the milk-and-honey promised land of greater Austin.  I'll sleep better tonight knowing somebody's looking out for my best interests.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ethan Caleb

Victoria, BC singer/songwriter Ethan Caleb is arguably the youngest artist I’ve written about to date - from what I can tell, he’s still in high school.  Nevertheless, I find his music extremely compelling.  His compositions and lyrics are highly sophisticated, especially for a songwriter of his age.  This tension between youth and sophistication infuses his work with an unsettling, haunting poignancy - a wide-eyed naivety foiled at every turn by a pathos-filled, world-weary sadness - that isn’t easily left behind once the music stops.
His songs are minimal, in most cases featuring a single instrument and Ethan’s distinct choir boy in a piano bar vocals.  He cites Leonard Cohen as one of his primary influences and includes a cover of Cohen’s “Suzanne” on his Reverb Nation site.  His style is clearly influenced by Cohen, but his approach is fresh and original, just the same.
He’s posted a handful of songs to MySpace and Reverb Nation.  Of these, I find myself repeatedly drawn back to “After the City,” an eccentric acoustic guitar and vocal piece that is emblematic of his emerging style.

In addition to Ethan’s solo work he sings for a band calling itself The Shenanigans, also from Victoria.  Judging from the song sample on The Shenanigans’ Reverb Nation site, Ethan is not only a talented singer and songwriter, but also a very powerful and versatile rock vocalist, as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010


OK, I’m going to be really lazy today and just provide a few links on several bands/musicians I’ve been listening to this past weekend.  I’ll get more in-depth on each in the coming days, but for now this is all I’ll say...

I like them all for very different reasons and each appeals to vastly different tastes - from folk to rock to post-punk to emo.  I’m not gonna say which is which, you’ll just have to visit their sites and figure it out yourself.  
BTW, Meghan Tonjes’ music is available at Amazon.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brain Lambert 2

The following is a partial re-post of an entry I made back in November.  I’m posting it here and now for those who missed it the first time around and to let you all know that Brian’s debut album Spell for Happiness is currently available at CDBaby
“... Emerging as a unique voice from within the exuberant Austin, TX music scene, Brian Lambert began working with musician/producer LC Messinger last year when ‘mistaken as a Jehovah witness, [he] knocked on the door of Crush M Records.’  The synthesis between Lambert’s Americana and Messinger’s ‘KD Lang on acid in a barn yard full of loud animals’ approach is quirky, odd and unsettling.  Which, from me, is a ringing endorsement.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the sound.  The first track I heard, a demo titled ‘Spell for Happiness’ [which would be re-mixed and issued as the new album’s title track], was an eccentric, blues/folk tune - a stripped down acoustic guitar and vocal - that sounded as though it were pressed on vinyl and played back through an ancient Victrola.  But it grew on me the more I played it.  Which is true of each song I’ve heard since.  As I write this I am listening to Brian’s latest posting at his Myspace page,‘Didn’t Want You to Want Me.’  Again he appeals to past musical styles - in this case late ‘60s Blues Rock ala Hendrix and the Doors - but here Messinger’s production augments basic guitar, base, drum and vocal tracks with a melange of atonal electronica that confounds one’s ability to dismiss this as derivative or to pigeon-hole Lambert as retro-this or that.  
Brian has a very strong, versatile voice.  He describes himself on his Myspace page as ‘A cross between Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley and David Byrne.’  While this may be accurate, such comparisons are useful more as marketing soundbites than as a complete description of Lambert’s oeuvre.  In truth, Brian has his own fluid and distinct vocal style, one that compliments his unique approach to musical de-&-re construction...”  
Spell for Happiness was produced by LC Messinger and is being released under Messinger’s Crush M Records label.  Other releases from Crush M Records include multiple albums from Messinger’s own solo project When Girls CollideWGC CDs and MP3s are available at and iTunes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back to Palm Springs (sort of)

Well, as I’m still waiting to hear back from a number of Palm Springs area folks with info I might be able to share with you, and as I have a ton of others I’d like to write about, I’ve decided to stop holding things up and move on to the next bunch of acts I’ve been putting on hold.  In the meantime, I’m still planning to interview Sean Brown (aka SA!NT) and I’ve been in touch with Zinema and plan to see them play in the next week or so.  As soon as those things happen, or as soon as I hear back from one of the others on my Palm Springs list, I’ll write more on the subject.  For now, if so inclined, you can visit any of my local favorites in their respective web territories (listed below).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pazz Kluger

I’ve decided to put my expose on Palm Springs bands on hold for the time being in order to focus on a musician from New York recording and performing under the moniker of Pazz Kluger.  Pazz was the first person to leave a comment on my Reverb Nation fan site last week, so I thought I owed him the courtesy of listening to his music and commenting back.  I was truly impressed with what I heard and let him know so.
Subsequently, we sent messages back and forth for several days and then finally did a phone interview this past weekend.  This was my first such musician interview since starting my blog last Fall, so I’m pretty much learning how to do this as I do it.  Yes, that was meant as an up-front disclaimer.  
During our hour +/- conversation we spoke of a shared passion for early ‘80s proto-goth and post-punk music from bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cure, etc.  I found it fascinating that somebody much younger than I would be drawn to such music.  (For the record, I was a teenager in 1979 when Joy Division and the Cure released their debut albums and Bauhaus put out their first single - all on vinyl).  I was impressed with Pazz’s knowledge of this era and his aptitude for capturing its essence within his own oeuvre.  He spoke at length of his respect for former Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and his willingness to “lay it all on the line” and “expose his soul” for his art and audience.  Pazz said he seeks to emulate this approach within his own work, which he characterized as driven primarily by the experience of loss.  
In addition to the aforementioned, Pazz cited bands such as TSOL, The Smiths, Nick Cave, Camera Obscura, The Specials and even Johnny Cash as influences.  Although he never indicated to me that he drew inspiration from The Psychedelic Furs, when I compared his voice to that of Richard Butler’s he took it as a compliment and seemed genuinely flattered.
Pazz was trained as a graphic designer and I find a pop-art, even painterly quality to his work - a clarity of purpose that is repeatedly thwarted through layers of disjunction and ambiguity.  He describes his process as organic and even DIY.  As I listen to his songs I find myself hearing the ghostly voice of Andy Warhol, when asked why his Campbell’s Soup Can paintings featured flaws and running paint, replying “...well, an artist must drip.”  I believe this is the key to understanding what Pazz means by DIY - that one must allow songs to be what they are as they grow and mature, leaving all the inherent rough edges, stops & starts and even flaws intact, rather than polished over and prettied up.

Pazz told me that he worked on his current eponymous release for about a year and a half, recording in his basement after work and off hours from family duties.  He self-produced the entire project, writing all songs as well as performing all instruments and vocals.  He is rehearsing with his new band at the moment and will begin touring about the New York/New Jersey area in the coming months.  He has also begun work on a new album which will feature his current lineup.
You can find Pazz at MySpace, Facebook and Jango among several other locales, although I suggest you visit his Reverb Nation page first, as he has links to his other sites posted there.  I further urge you to check out his music.  Of his songs, my particular favorites are Forfeit of Life (which puts me in mind of late ‘80s Love and Rockets), Karma Stay Away, Sins, and Locked.  Although I’ve got to admit I like them all and have found they only get better with repeated listenings.   

Pazz Kluger is also available for download from