Death Valley Girls

Take Me to Church: Death Valley Girls Kneel at the Altar of Rock ‘n’ Roll Death Valley Girls truly are purveyors of the type of dark and sleazy rock ‘n’ roll vibes rarely harnessed nowadays by indie and garage rockers. Purveyor is meant in an evangelistic sense – the West Coast band sees songwriting, recording, and… Continue reading Death Valley Girls

Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles 1977-80

Slash: A Punk Magazine from Los Angeles 1977-80 Edited by Brian Roettinger and J.C. Gabel [Hat & Beard Press] The 1980s was a weird era. At the time, we were too fucked up to realize that it was an era of sociopolitical and/or cultural significance. At the time, the ’80s was just the present, another… Continue reading Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles 1977-80

The Shelters – The Shelters

Sorry, but I’m not buying the hype about Los Angeles based band, The Shelters. The (I think) prefab story is that Tom Petty discovered The Shelters playing in some L.A. dive in 2014, then invited a couple of members of the band to accompany him (and the Heartbreakers, of course) on the recent Hypnotic Eye… Continue reading The Shelters – The Shelters

Eat That Question – Frank Zappa in His Own Words

Possibly the most contradictory, self-serving, plagiaristic musicians of the 20th century, Frank Zappa was initially renowned for having his picture taken while sitting on the toilet. His reputation as an eccentric, foul-mouthed, flagrant perfectionist hinged on the demands he placed on other musicians to play his complex though erratic compositions in seedy strip joints and… Continue reading Eat That Question – Frank Zappa in His Own Words

L7

Shit Gets Weird: No Pretending – L7 Lives Again L7 always stood out, for me. I first became aware of the band during the great ascent of Sub Pop Records, who issued their six-song EP Smell the Magic in 1990 (expanded with three additional songs upon its CD release the following year). With aggressive, swaggering,… Continue reading L7

Emitt Rhodes

Emitt Rhodes, Hawthorne, California. 16 October 2015.

Long Time, No See: Emitt Rhodes Pulls Back the Curtain In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the “great and powerful” title character is revealed to be a mere mortal. And while for some viewers the takeaway of that revelation is that he’s a fraud, another point of view holds that he – like… Continue reading Emitt Rhodes

The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories

The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories By NOFX with Jeff Alulis [Da Capo Press] Although NOFX is a successful and kinda/sorta, uh, “famous” act usually classified as pop punk, the 33-year-old band actually has its roots in hardcore. What made NOFX so successful is that the studiedly careerist band purposely streamlined its sound in an overtly… Continue reading The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories

Bleached

Keep On Keepin’ On: Bleached Make It Look Easy It’s been a while since we last heard from Bleached. A nearly three year drought since the 2013 release of Ride Your Heart ended April 1 with Welcome the Worms, a slicker yet meaner take on the group’s guitar pop sound. Sure there was 2014’s 7-inch… Continue reading Bleached

City of Gold

A travelogue of Los Angeles by a failed cellist who drives a pickup truck and occasionally eats out of food trucks. Jonathan Gold was jarred out of complacency by “Forming” by The Germs which prompted him to join the band Overman in the ’80s, so it’s not all that farfetched that his style of criticism… Continue reading City of Gold

Eve’s Hollywood

Eve’s Hollywood By Eve Babitz [New York Review Books] “I wouldn’t raise my kid in Hollywood.” – Eve Babitz Eve Babitz is a 20th century fox, a ’60s “it girl,” the West Coast yang to Edie Sedgwick’s East Coast yin. Yes, both of these ladies dallied with scads of famous men, took a lot of drugs… Continue reading Eve’s Hollywood

Cherie Currie

Shotguns, Chainsaws and Cherry Bombs: Cherie Currie is One Badass Mother! Cherie Currie swears she never dates anymore, hasn’t in five years. So maybe I should just skip the formalities and ask her to marry me right off the bat. Thirty-eight years after “Cherry Bomb” – the Kim Fowley/Joan Jett song inspired by Currie’s first… Continue reading Cherie Currie

Girlpool

Jump On In! Girlpool Keeps It Simple Best pals Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s fun excuse to write and record music together, Girlpool, is perhaps the strongest example to date of internet hype and positive blog write-ups upping the profile of a band true to its DIY punk roots. In three years, the duo has… Continue reading Girlpool

Penelope Spheeris

The World’s a Mess, It’s In My Lens Although she’s directed everything from Wayne’s World to the 1980s teen outsider drama Suburbia, filmmaker Penelope Spheeris owns significant culture-hero cred for The Decline of Western Civilization, a series that began in 1981 with her mosh-and-mayhem chronicle of the Los Angeles punk scene, and its early footage… Continue reading Penelope Spheeris

The Dickies

The Dickies: Not On Top Of It, Really You’d think a legendary punk frontman intentionally knocking a female concertgoer in the noggin would see a flurry of media coverage. An incident like that typically gets plenty, and fiery criticism from the public typically follows. But when it happened in Brisbane last April, so few outlets… Continue reading The Dickies

Goatsnake – Black Age Blues

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Goatsnake, perhaps a bit of background information is necessary. Yes, Goatsnake is kind of a cringeworthy moniker for a metal band. But you’ve got to take into consideration that the band started in 1996, a time when irony/self-parody had yet to emerge as the master trope… Continue reading Goatsnake – Black Age Blues

Shuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis: The Music Keeps Calling Him Back “I look back now,” says Shuggie Otis, “and I think, ‘Wow. I must have a lot of patience!’” The multi-instrumentalist is reflecting on the curious arc of his career so far: his fame began in earnest when he was a young teen, continued into his early twenties,… Continue reading Shuggie Otis

OFF! – Wasted Years

Here we are, well into the career of OFF!, the careerist uberpunk band whose raison de etree is probably to pick the bones of Black Flag for maximum profit. When OFF! emerged on the scene four years ago, few would have predicted that the band would be so prolific. In 2010, OFF! was welcomed as… Continue reading OFF! – Wasted Years

The Muffs

Just as Blonder as Ever: The Muffs Return Unchanged It’s hard to comprehend why the Pixies ousted Kim Shattuck from their touring lineup last November. The Muffs singer and guitarist, who’d replaced Kim Deal as bassist, certainly had the chops, and there were no reports of botched performances. Still, she only lasted a few months.… Continue reading The Muffs

Jenny Lewis

Storytelling vs. Sentimentalism: Jenny Lewis Isn’t Writing About Herself In true singer-songwriter fashion, Jenny Lewis is a storyteller. In fact, she’s an expertly convincing one. Despite having been a fan for more than a decade, I hadn’t realized that most of those tales aren’t based on Lewis’ own experiences. The bulk of what she’s penned… Continue reading Jenny Lewis

Warpaint – Warpaint

My introduction to these L.A.-based distaff dreampoppers arrived, appropriately enough, in a dream (of sorts): collapsed on the sofa after work one evening I’d drifted off, only to gradually and groggily awaken to the radio and strains of “Undertow,” from Warpaint’s 2010 album The Fool. The song’s ethereal melody and layered vocals, anchored by an… Continue reading Warpaint – Warpaint

Various Artists – I Need You Bad

Intended to canonize the garage rock and kindred offshoots of today’s Bay Area scene, I Need You Bad features acts both fresh and storied. It’s incredibly varied and, as far as an outsider can tell, a well-curated showcase of San Francisco, LA and Oakland’s best offerings. Prolific local Sonny Smith handpicked the 15-track collection and,… Continue reading Various Artists – I Need You Bad

Boardwalk – Boardwalk

As dreamlike as this album sounds, in sentiment it closely resembles reality. Boardwalk’s vision of pop is bleary, strolling along with a careful patience that avoids getting too cerebral. There are no satisfying revelations to be found. Tightly wrapped solutions are difficult to reach, particularly when the problems are personal. In such situations, reconciling with… Continue reading Boardwalk – Boardwalk

Peach Kelli Pop

The Pit in Peach Kelli Pop: Allie Hanlon’s Impenetrable Instincts Allie Hanlon is as giggly and girly as you’d expect anyone behind a cutesy, bubblegum bedroom-pop project to be. Unsurprisingly, there’s an underlying giddiness to everything Hanlon says. It’s like her resting face is not blank and straight-mouthed like most people’s, but instead it’s a… Continue reading Peach Kelli Pop

Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real

Despite seven years of sporadically stepping into the indie limelight, Crystal Antlers are a band I’ve never given much attention. For years they’ve been on my general radar, but only insignificantly. Truthfully, I’ve neglected them so thoroughly and for so long my mental dossier on them was unfairly meaningless and short. Indie rock – that’s about… Continue reading Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real