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The Dominant Legs Interview: Clawing Their Way In And Out Of Love...Or, Like His Beloved SF Giants, Ryan Lynch And Dominat Legs May Be A Team Of Destiny!

That's how we do it here in the Yeah Area! It's all sunshine and convertibles.
San Francisco's Dominant Legs are truly poised to embody the first part of their moniker as they ready for a full-length album to be released by Lefse Records in the early summer, recently opened for Broken Social Scene at the Warfield, and headlined the Rickshaw Stop last night. Their music is "easy listening" only in the sense that it sounds so free and easy, perfectly capturing "The Life in San Francisco" Legs member Ryan Lynch's former band, Girls, sang about. Their songs have a timeless quality that could appear on a car radio from any number of decades, including future ones. The Duo of Lynch and Hannah Hunt have a leg up to be the next musical export from a city that has recently seen the renewal of a long tradition of bands that buck whatever trends are happening, while creating their own musical niche. WDS chatted with Dominant Legs founder and devoted sports junkie, Ryan Lynch over email about R. Kelly, fearing beards, and love...Here is the result below!

WDS - I know you have probably been busy recording and preparing Dominant Legs full-length, any working title yet? And what can you tell me about the recording process for this?

Ryan - I haven't thought too much about a title for the album. I've considered calling it, " I Like Love." It's a title of another artists song. I thought it would be nice to pay them homage and it also makes sense because a few of the songs have 'love' in the title. And if they don't they are about love in one way or another. Hannah has made me aware of the fact that I may be using the word too much. So, you're just going to have to wait and see on that one.

WDS - Girls are also working on a new record, were you involved with the recording of that as well?  What is your status in that band? Will you be doing both projects?

Ryan - Girls and I parted ways prior to the Australian tour last December. So I was not involved in the Girls record that they are working on now. Dominant Legs is my only project. We are all good friends still. FYI

WDS - Dominant Legs music really sparks a lot of memories for me when I listen to it. It reminds me of a time when songs were tuneful and not overly self-aware, if that makes sense? What do you find makes a good song or song feel right to you?

Ryan - Lyrically, I'd like the song to be honest. I hope to reveal something about myself in the lyrical content. Then it's up to the listener to decide if it's interesting or not. That way, whatever their opinion may be, it's me. As for the music, it takes different things for each song. I like everything to make sense. Like in a film, for instance. I like it when you feel like there aren't any wasted scenes or that there aren't any scenes that feel unnecessary or done poorly. The most important thing to me are the melodies though. That's where I have the most fun.

WDS - We both grew up on the Peninsula (you in Redwood City and me in Millbrae) what do you think that chronically suburban experience brings to the music you make?

Ryan - When I was in high school, it was much harder to get independent music. We mail-ordered records and put on our own shows. The punks and other kids into music were very nurturing. The peninsula has influenced me in that aspect, but my musical influences come from all over.
Dominant Legs are Ryan Lynch and Hannah Hunt

WDS - There is a strong R&B undercurrent mixed with a kind of AM radio Top 40 KFRC quality (if you remember that station). I heard you mention Nile Rodgers in another interview, who has influenced your guitar playing? The same question regarding singing?

Ryan - Michael Jackson for sure. When I first started writing songs my friends told me that sounded like Tracy Chapman. I was and am still a fan of hers, so I took it as a compliment. I think that she is much better than I though. There's a lot of feeling and soul in her voice that can't be taught. Others I like are: Van Morrison, Steve Ignorant, R Kelly, Bob Dylan who I would never attempt to imitate, Luther Vandross, Robert Smith.

WDS - Having been through the “buzz machine” with Girls, how has that prepared you for the same kind of interest in Dominant Legs?

Ryan - I am well prepared. If we are lucky enough to be as successful as Girls, I will know before what it will be like. A lot of van time on the road. I am ok with that.

WDS - How is being in a “band” with Hannah different than other bands you’ve been involved with?

Ryan - Not really a big difference. We were all friends before. (There is six of us now.) You wouldn't notice that she's the only gal. 

WDS - I know that your recent Noise Pop Festival show with How To Dress Well was one of THE shows to see. How did it feel from your perspective and who are you excited to see these days?

Ryan - We were very grateful. It's always nice when people are excited to see your show. Any other band would tell you the same thing. Honestly, I still love watching Magic Bullets. I've seen them a couple times recently and just love their show. The new songs are amazing. Melted Toys, who are also from SF, are really great too. I've been listening to The Blue Nile a lot. Don't think they are around anymore though. 

WDS - Let’s talk baseball! It’s been well-documented that you are a HUGE  Giants fan. Growing up in the Bay Area, describe how it felt to finally have the team be World Champions? How did you celebrate and for how long? (I have friends that are still celebrating)

Ryan - I could go on forever. It was something that meant a lot to me, as it did for so many people. To be brief, the Giants winning the World Series was one of the most fulfilling, long awaited experiences I've ever had. Sports mirror life and the good guys just won it all!! I celebrated for quite a while. Over the off season I watched the dvd box set quite a bit and shed tears of joy each time. It's something to always cherish and I will celebrate it forever. But a new season has begun and you can't let that get in the way of defending the title. 

WDS - What are your feelings on the team coming out of spring training and defending their title?

I think they will be even better than last year. With all of the same pitching coming back and only losing Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria offensively. It isn't going to be easy though. You have to remember last year's regular season, where they had their struggles in the first half. I came back from tour, mid-year, just in time to watch an 8 or nine game losing streak. They will be good though. They can go up against any team and win. They've proven that. 

Ridiculous But Necessary Questions
What is your favorite cheese?

Ryan - Sharp Chedder, I guess. 

Donna Summer or W. Axel Rose?

Ryan - Donna Summer 

Cody Ross or Barry Bonds?

Ryan - Cody Ross. He's part of the Championship team. A BIG part of it. I do love Barry Lamar though. He was our guy for a long time.  

Talk about girls or sports?

Ryan - Don't make me choose. 

A month in the van with anyone (entirely up to you)?

Ryan - Bob Dylan 


Does Sasha Have A Wife & Kids In Snagov, Jack? Or, Damon Dulls Hearts All Over America With, Yet, Another Ballad...STILL OR! New Women's Gymnastics Event: Up The Pole!

He went out for a borscht and he never came back... 
Welcome to The Day After, MIOBI nation, and don’t we all have a Hungary Heart? This new episode had all the makings of a lighthearted adventure romp – part Raiders of the Lost Ark, part Amazing Race, part Catch Me If You Can – but underneath it all was the gnawing fear of loneliness. Don’t make no difference what nobody says – ain’t nobody like to be alone. And even if we choose to be alone, the universe sometimes has other plans for us. So set down your Russian energy drink and grab your six bags of matching Louis Vuitton luggage, because episode 2015 is a trip. So trip out on this!

Severing ties the old fashioned way, in a letter.
If I remember the lessons I learned about mailing letters from the Little Golden Book Seven Little Postmen correctly, the envelope Payson is eying that is sitting in the out box on Kim’s desk is international mail. Kim has no qualms about leaving letters out addressed to Sasha Belov, former Rock Star gym coach that Payson adored, out in plain sight where her daughter can see them. Seems Sasha has some paperwork he needs to sign to officially sever his ties to The Rock and pass the mantle on to Coach Darbs. Payson takes a quick look back at it before she heads out the door. Looks like she really is ready to move on.

At least, ready to move on to stumble in to Steve and Darby arguing in the lobby. Steve has sources – sources! – that tell him the Rock Girls are on the chopping block for Worlds (now drink one shot) and it’s all up to Darby to make things right. Hey, Steve, aren’t you the one who engineered Sasha’s ousting? Aren’t you the one whose daughter leaked the doctored video of Payson and Sasha kissing? Didn’t you have a hand in bringing your daughter’s good friend on to be the new coach? What’s the big woo? Looks like you’re reaping what you sow. But Darby hears and gets the eye of the tiger, and, looking as fierce as Seymour Krelborn, says there’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Coach Conrad. You all be cool. Right on.


Duvet Says See This! Paris' Jamaica Hit SF's Independent And It's Off With Your Head! Or, They Be Jammin, So I Hope You Like Jammin Too...

They be jamming...I hope you like jamming too.
Debut albums in the age of the internet rarely contain the surprise they once had for music listeners. Often, albums or tracks are leaked on the net weeks, months and even years before the "official release date". So how do you combat verdicts being rendered based purely on a few tastemakers dismissals or approvals? I say see the band live! In the case of Paris' Jamaica, I had the opportunity to see their San Francisco debut at last year's Treasure Island Music Festival. At the time, only a couple of singles and remixes of their songs, "Short & Entertaining" and "I Think I Like U 2" were all that were available. I watched their show with open ears and an open mind. I came away with a love of their harder-than-expected guitar driven pop and hooky tunes. The April 12th stateside release of their debut, No Problem, was reviewed more based on the fact that they come from the same country as French MEGA-STARS Phoenix and the other big name countrymen who helped record and produce it. So let's drop the obligatory names of Justice's Xavier De Rosnay and Daft Punk's sound engineer Peter Franco who helped produce No Problem. For Jamaica members Antoine Hilaire and Florent Lyonnet the real achievement will be how deftly they navigate out of the rut of interviewers focusing their questions on the above rather than on the below.

What I love about Jamaica is their unabashed embrace of the riff. This is not to say that every riff is breaking new ground, in fact there is a "same-y" sound to some of songs on No Problem. But what excites is the attack and crisp approach to what is essentially a RAWK album - that if it is guilty of anything - is catchy as hell and unapologetic in its love for a bygone era, where these types of records were the norm. The production is updated for the digital universe we inhabit, with great detail attributed to the separation of the various instrument tracks. This is one of the cleanest sounding recordings I've heard all year. Guitars enter in and drop out only to reappear and coalesce around really BIG hooks. The bottom end on this record is HUGE, well-rounded and suited for the dance floor. Overall, No Problem has the kind of punch that makes me reminisce to a time when I rode in souped-up Camaros to the Days on the Green of my youth. Like fellow lovers of late 70's- 80's guitar crunch, Free Energy, Jamaica are tuneful and more importantly FUN! Not every release needs to be rated on its relevancy to some greater understanding of the universe. Some records are for putting on at the house as you get ready to go out and search for the same feeling that got you out the door.

The men of Paris' Jamaica
From album opener "Cross the Fader" singer/guitarist Antoine Hilaire puts you on notice that he is not shy about his guitar playing. His voice and delivery is smooth as honey and augmented by some nice high harmonies and thunderous bass playing by counterpart Lyonnet. All the instruments on this record are perfectly separated in the mix, with a combo of live drumming doubled up by matching electronic beats. The sound is thick and tight and a guitar tone lover's dream record. Some songs like "Secrets" feel disposable on first listen but are a ripe for remixes if entrusted in the right hands. That's the beauty of No Problem, it has layers to it that warrant investment. One standout is "Jericho", initially it comes off as a retred of Lou Reed's classic "Sweet Jane" but actually reveals a fun take on a riff that has been borrowed well before Reed. If critics held every band up to the standard of how much ground was broken with a release we could dismiss half of the releases that come across our desk and currently clutter up music blogs. Case in point, "The Outsider", a song I was almost sure I had heard earlier in the album but I liked it the first time and liked this one too. So should I burn the record? Or should I appreciate the bridge and inventive solo that was unique to the track? That is part of the critics job as well, appreciating potential and evaluating a band on where they are in their careers. Jamaica is in its infancy and I refuse to smother it as it lies happy and wide-eyed in the cradle. "By the Numbers" and "Junior" feature Jamaica's driving, jittery, punch and pop. These songs are tributes to the type of music that were topping charts all through the 80's and are done with reverence, not apology. 

The best way to experience this album is by seeing the band live in a club. Jamaica are an air-tight and engaging band on stage. The songs make you want to shake and move, not ponder the importance or relevance of what you're hearing coming out of the PA. They are headlining SF's Independent on Tuesday April 26 with Chain Gang of 1974. I guarantee that a GREAT time will be had by all. No one will be dwelling on what Pitchfork said or crossing their arms in an attempt to dissect the similarities between them and Phoenix. In fact, when Hilaire goes into one of his blistering guitar solos, all you'll want to do is raise your lighter, grateful you're not at home in front of a computer, reading what other people are saying about a band YOU like and shouldn't have to explain or justify why. Listen to this week's "What Duvet Said...About Music" for an interview with the men of Jamaica and for a live review here on the blog.


Robert “Bob” Duvet Jumps In the Middle Of A Circle Pit Interview And Lives To Tell The Tale! Or, These Aussies Are Slaves To Rock And Covered In Honey...

Circle Pit's Jack Mannix & Angela Bermuda
Savage, primal, and destructive, sure, but that would only tell part of Sydney, Australia's Circle Pit's story. Last year's full-length on Stiltbreeze, "Bruise Constellation" was that elbow to the temple one sometimes gets in an actual circle pit. The "sound" in that collection of songs nodded toward White Stripes, Iggy and The Stooges, 13th Floor Elevators/Roky Erickson, Royal Trux and Flipper but managed to sound singular. What I could not have predicted from that release was their latest 7" featuring the songs "Slave" and "Honey", which marked a real shift in production and a stylistic re-invention. This is a band that never sounds content and that is an exciting place to be for a fan. Australia's isolation produces some of the most unique approaches on blues-based rock, a medium that at times feels fully tapped out. Circle Pit  has a misleading primitivism that evaporates after repeated listens into a decisiveness to capture feelings, rather than concoct them They are like a newly discovered source of energy that has yet to be harnessed, refined, commodified and incorporated. One thing you can't manufacture is the driving core and angst-sty fire in their sound. Even when exploring more "ambient" territory, there is a tension between the two songwriters that is not easily described. That is what makes Circle Pit such a fascinating band to watch develop. I conducted my interview with Jack Mannix and Angela Bermuda - two lifelong friends and musical foils over email. They are not burning your mother's Midnight Oil people!!! Below is the result , ENJOY!

WDS - Thanks so much for chatting with me from the other side of the world. I think I got a handle on how this project came together from reading other interviews. I’m a bit more curious about the shift in sound from the songs on 2010’s The Bruise Constellation and your recent 7” release “Slave/Honey” on Hardly Art. It really threw me – in a really good way – could you talk about the shift in songwriting?

Circle Pit - For us, the only major difference in song-writing for this 7" was the fact that we came to each-other with an almost-finished song each, “Slave” was mostly written by Jack, and “Honey” by Angie, although we collaborated on lyrics and wrote/played guitar solos for each others' songs, whereas for the most part on Bruise Constellation the songs were written collaboratively. We didn't really feel that the songs themselves were so different to the slower material on the LP, more so that the instrumentation and production was more lush, glamorous and polished. We approached the recording of this single differently to previous releases. We've always dreamed of the luxury afforded by having a nice studio and time at our disposal, but previously this hasn't been possible, and so most of our recordings up until this point were done live with a band, with few overdubs and re-takes. This time, however, it was just the two of us, and Harriet, and we had 2 days in a nice space, with amazing instruments to focus on just 2 songs, whereas we had the same amount of time, in a smaller studio, to do the entire first LP.

WDS - So many reviews use words like “Brutal”, “Gutter”, and “Savage” to describe your sound but while that may be a component, I always heard some hints at this recent recording. Do you think this represents a “sea change” or transition away from the more bare bones attack of your earlier material?

Circle Pit - We constantly drift between sounds and aesthetics, while still remaining true to ourselves and what we want to express. Previously we've explored more immediate, “savage” recording styles and sounds, and while this is something we still enjoy, and want to explore further, for now we're more interested in exploring the possibilities of clean, “hi-fi”  production, because in some ways it makes the song more vulnerable - unable to hide behind the haze and grit of a “lo-fi” recording. We'd like to think that our songs can stand alone, that they don't inherently owe their impact to the way in which they're recorded.
This is what a band should look like.
WDS - How conscious (if at all) were you going into these latest recordings of trying for a more ambient and polished sound?

Circle Pit - We were entirely conscious of what we were doing, and how it would differ from previous releases. We went into the recording process knowing that this would be the most widely distributed release so far, and our first with Hardly Art, Sub Pop's new-ish more 'experimental' imprint. We've always wanted to do a more polished recording, so we took this almost as a challenge to ourselves, to see what we are capable of when we work with a producer, in a fancy studio. Previously, not much focus has been placed on the vocals in our recordings, which was always a result of the conditions under which we were recording, and not a conscious decision - the vocals and lyrics have always been one of the most important elements of our songs, so this time we made sure that we were able to do them justice and spend more time getting that aspect of things “right”. 

WDS - A lot gets mentioned of the “drug haze” that contributed to the making of The Bruise Constellataion, you could say that this recording almost sounds like the result of a binge on different kinds of drugs. What or who were some of the inspirations for the songs “Slave” and “Honey”?

Their songs are Duvet's drug of choice.
Circle Pit - I think that more gets made of this so-called “drug-haze'” than is deserved. We want to make it clear that drugs have never been an inspiration for our songwriting, nor have we ever made anything terribly worthwhile as a direct result of taking drugs. Our songs are about our lives, together and individually, and the experience of growing up. The lyrics are personal, but at the same time universal and open to interpretation - yes, drugs have come in and out of our lives at various points, but you give people an inch and they take a mile with that kind of stuff. These songs are essentially love songs, but are also inherently sad. The ideas behind the lyrics revolve around themes of unfulfilled fantasy, projecting your hopes and needs onto another person, and the realization that they, or anyone for that matter, could never live up to them. As we mentioned previously, the songs were written more separately than usual, and so each song has a certain boy as the original muse, but it was more of a starting point in some ways. We were both in relationships at the time we wrote the songs, and these relationships have since ended, but I think in writing the songs, we had a sense of the inevitable - that nothing lasts forever, and both of us being hopelessly romantic and idealistic, but at the same time wise and level-headed - so its about trying to strike a balance, and also knowing that its almost impossible.

WDS - There are harmonies that were maybe hinted at before but in a sense avoided on earlier songs. You must have known that you two could sing beautifully together. Were you ever worried that these types of songs might alienate certain fans from what they had come to expect as “Circle Pit”?

Circle Pit - To be honest, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we “knew” we could sing together beautifully, but having recorded this single its safe to say that we're more confident in our singing and interested in exploring that further. We don't worry about things like alienating fans of our previous work, we celebrate that notion - we want to continually challenge people's perceptions of us, and what “Circle Pit” can mean, and sound like.

WDS - What inspires or informs your approach to songwriting across all your releases?

Circle Pit - Instict, Honesty, Beauty, Chance, Accidents, Freedom, Friendship, Love and Hell.

WDS - I know you were in the US for some shows, how important is it to “make it here”? Or, is America not as big as it used to be in terms of a barometer of “having success”?

Circle Pit - We honestly don't think much about “making it” anywhere. We do what we do because we love it, and while we're not afraid or turned-off by the idea of success, it isn't what motivates us to make music together. We don't plan things very far ahead, things seem to just happen to us, and so we roll with the punches. The reason we came to America for our first international tour was because that was where the most interest seemed to come from, in terms of labels and fan base, but we want to travel the entire world together, playing shows or not, so it was just the first of many overseas trips.

WDS - Australia legendarily has one of the toughest club circuits (perhaps the toughest) anywhere in the world), could you talk a little bit about what it’s like making an name for yourself there?

Circle Pit - I wouldn't say that we have a “tough club circuit” per se, but it is a hard place to tour in the sense that the next major city is at least a 12-hour drive away from wherever you might be. The Australian music scene/industry is a strange beast in that, unlike in Europe or the USA, there's no mid-level infrastructure for independent bands - you're either completely underground or DIY, or you're on a sucky major label. So there's a huge gap in that sense, but it means that bands like us, and our friends, are all very supportive of each-other and its almost like a huge, broken family stretching across our wide brown land. Having said that, there's this phenomenon in Australia, that I'm sure exists everywhere but seems more prevalent here, known as “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, where people seem to want to cut you down at the first sign of what they deem success. This doesn't really exist amongst the family that we mentioned, but seems to come more from the group of people who remain unsigned, but dream of instant mainstream popularity, and when they see a band that is typically considered 'underground' gaining recognition from other parts of the world, or 'big' independent labels, they feel jealous or something. This is so evident on the internet especially, and for some strange reason we seem to have been targeted more so than other bands of our ilk in similar places.
The sky is the limit for Aussie duo...
WDS - What are some other Aussie bands people that are reading this should know about or look out for?

WDS - You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you listen to a lot of Classic Rock and that it has had an influence on you guys. How do you view the current state of Rock music? Are there still bands out there that capture what it is that you loved about that genre, besides Circle Pit, of course?
Come and say, "Good day!"...we dare you.
Circle Pit - The state of rock n roll these days is pretty abysmal I suppose, but in many ways it’s considered a dead medium. There are bands out there who we feel akin to, who are still exploring the possibilities and limits of the Rock genre, but very few spring to mind. There's a band from Brisbane called Blank Realm who do it like no-one else - one of the best bands to ever come from our country. In America, there's bands like Blues Control, Pink Reason and others who seem to explore similarly murky territory, and re-invent and re-interpret what Rock means today.

WDS - When I listen to the Bruise Constellation I hear an Iggy and the Stooges sensibility and danger to the music. I guess there is also that Seeds or 13th Floor Elevators garage-psych thread in their as well. Could you talk a bit about how you approach your guitar sound? To me it’s a perfect example of how guitar, distortion pedal, and amp with very little effects, playing a great riff is still exhilarating.

Circle Pit - We don't have many pedals because we can't afford them, and to be honest we don't really put much thought into guitar sounds and tone. On the album, we had Jai Morris-Smith on rhythm guitar, and I guess he was more interested in that stuff than the two of us - and he did a great job of it, but we've always just worked with what we have and while we know to an extent how we want things to sound (dirty, clean, trebly, whatever..) they don't always turn out exactly how we intend them to. We love wah pedals though, that's safe to say.

WDS - Lastly, what would you like to see happen with Circle Pit in the course of the next year or so?

Circle Pit - We've recently decided to take a break from playing live for the time-being, and after such a grueling year of touring last year we're excited to be hanging out as the two of us again, and getting back to where we were when we started. Things have come full-circle in a way, and at present we're just playing around in each other's bedrooms - writing, drawing, talking, and working towards future releases. We find more satisfaction in releasing an album than anything else, and so we'd like to release a few of those in the coming couple of years I guess. Maybe see some more of this insane world.

Ridiculous But Necessary Questions
What is your favorite cheese?
Jack - Haloumi
Angie - Tilba (a small NSw town) - particularly Ol' Bitey

Surfing or Football?
Angie - Surfing (hot boys)
Jack - That's really tough - but I guess I'll go with Football, but only Gridiron.

INXS or The Hard Ons?
Angie - Tiger-Lily
Jack - Paula

Moshing or Stagediving?
Angie - ON stage
Jack - Circle Pit

A month in the van with anyone (entirely open)?
Jack - Angie
Angie - Jack


The Deep Dark Truthful Mirror...Or, Pass Me The Truthcorn!...Or, Where Can Bob Duvet Find A "Practice Tramp"?

Kaylie, you gonna be alright Girl...Slow connections suck and I don't mean internet connections.
Hello again, MIOBI nation! This week we take a long hard look as our Rock girls come to grips with how they appear to be, who they want to be, and how they really are. It’s an episode of reflections, projections of self onto others, through others, and finally back into their very lives.  So if you feel like the new girl and need a friend, don’t look around you – look at yourself. You just might find salvation.
We find Kaylie finding consolation with her furry pink pillows and blankets, still processing the shock of losing her not-quite-a-friend friend, Maeve, whose untimely death at 17 is a four column headline on the internet. The maid that brings the Cruz family hot towels while working out must also spit shine Kaylie’s laptop screen, for as she switches off her display, the monitor becomes a perfect mirror, and where once was Maeve’s face now is Kaylie’s, in the first of many reflection-and-reversal moments this episode offers up.

The following morning, The Rock is all abuzz with word of the impending meet against Dallas, and Darby is doing her Darbyest to get the girls prepared. How? By having one of her gymnasts spend the afternoon shooting photos. It’s waa waa waa Max, who can now photograph Payson out in the open and is following her around, while Lauren, who very clearly called ‘dibs’ on Max, is doing her darnedest to get some of that sweet voyeurism spread her way. 

Sweet procrastination! Wait for it...wait for it!
Speaking of sweet voyeurism, Damon is also staring longingly at a computer screen, this one filled with Emily, and trying to be inspired to write his hit songs. Currently his lyrics have to do with staring longingly at a computer screen. I’m guessing the crossed out lyrics in his Moleskin book are something about staring at a blue piano, or a pensive ditty about placing a capo on the second fret. Kaylie, wandering around the house like Jacob Marley, literally pokes her head in the studio, overhearing Damon’s writing process where he writes words and lyrics simultaneously, a one man Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore hit making machine. He is uninspired, since he is unable to be in the same room as Emily. Kaylie, taking her cue from Damon’s cavalier mentioning that he writes songs about life and death, miraculously sings what she thinks Damon just wrote. But he says that’s not what he just wrote – in fact, it’s BETTER, and inspired.  Damon sees Kaylie a whole new way - a way to get out of writing lyrics, apparently. Way to shirk responsibility, Da-mo.


Live Review: Great Dane Trentemoller Turns SF’s Mezzanine Into Thunderdome! Or, Fairies, Vikings And Ninjas All Getting Along...

Trentemoller leads the rapture @ by RLC
Anders Trentemoller is a Copenhagen-based electronic music producer/composer/multi-instrumentalists/remix specialist and former-DJ. With so many slashes used by people to describe what he does, the one glaring omission is live stage performer. This past Saturday night Trentemoller (the name he is commonly known by) brought the LIVE performer in full force to San Francisco’s Mezzanine for a sold out, one of a kind musical experience that is deserving of as many descriptors as the artist himself. By no means was this one man behind the glow of machines but rather a full seven-piece outfit, featuring some of the most talented Danish musicians I would imagine in any genre. Trentemoller’s music is not easily described but his live show is. In a word, Brilliant! Now for a bunch more words in an effort to capture the scene, music, and general atmosphere he created at Mezzanine.
Dark and mysterious with a touch of by RLC
Having not been to the states in close to two and a half years the audience – easily as eclectic and diverse as the artist they were there to see – were clearly eager with anticipation. Trentemoller has been touring behind last year’s release of his second album Into The Great Wide Yonder. His European shows and festival appearances have been epic stagings, so I was curious as to how he would bring that to a relatively small club environment. The stage had a scrim erected across the front of it made of an industrial fabric separated into strips of reflective orange, with smaller “faux walls of fabric” set back acting to further break up the stage. This gave an interesting depth of field that worked to obscure the band partially, while filtering the various lighting arrangements into the house. Set opener, “Mash and the Fury” set the tone for a night of dark and mysterious music that builds into a release of house-inspired glory. Amidst the ominous decay of electronic sounds and atmospheric touches, were guitars that whipcracked making me think of Ennio Morricone. Only this time, The Good Bad and Ugly was set in Iceland, with Clint Eastwood riding a horse alone across a barren arctic landscape. In Trentemoller’s world, songs and sounds act as cinema as much as musical pieces, each with their own story arcs. I witnessed many dancing out these storylines. Some as post-apocalyptic nymphs or ballerinas twirling their way through digitally enhanced tundra, others as Ninjas dance-fighting their way through a crowded dance floor against an invisible foe. A look around the room reminded me of a scene lifted from Thunderdome, only with a more European fashion sensibility and much better access to bathing. The upper rim of the industrial warehouse-style club packed tight with people thrusting arms in time with the beat at the stage.

Darkness by RLC
Midway through the set the scrim in front of the stage was lower to expose the band filtered through a wash of strobes and perfectly choreographed lighting. The type of lighting I would normally associated with a huge RAWK show by the likes of a Radiohead or Coldplay. The artist’s attention to detail came through not only in his music but also in its live representation. Trentemoller’s music often transforms from cold detachment into euphoric splashes, then, quietly morphing into what sounds like an ominous journey through a dark Nordic forest. He led the band and audience with the exuberance of a classical conductor. The set was softened by some beautiful vocal performances from Josephine Phillips and Ina Lindgreen on the songs “Even Though Your With Another Girl” and “Sycamore Feeling”. Both women are also in Danish band Darkness Falls (which Trentemoller produced), their vocals adding an ethereal quality that swept across like a warm breeze that somehow emerges out of a snowdrift. Set closer “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” was a wild ride that conjured its title and had the crowd erupting into a frenzy of dance and self-expression you rarely witness in American audiences. This song fuses surf guitars with Goth and Industrial elements, and Trentemoller seemed to relish the effect it was having on the crowd. He returned for an encore shortly after it was apparent no one in the audience had any intention of going anywhere. The band throughout the show was as enthusiastic as their leader, ending the set with instruments held aloft triumphantly like conquering Vikings, fresh from the slaying Grendal. This is the kind of confidence a band used to playing HUGE festivals back in Europe bring to the table that is often missed in American Indie Rock.
No caption by RLC
At the end of the near two-hour performance I was left feeling like I had been through something dramatic but not overwrought, communal and special. After this performance he and his band were headed to Coachella for their festival debut there. I’m sure for the uninitiated that happen along his set, many will be converted into Arctic fairies, traipsing through a cinematic wonderland of their own creation, then entering a wormhole that deposits them back into the Southern California desert. For more on Trentemoller listen to this week’s “What Duvet Said…About Music” for a conversation I had with him prior to the show. He has also been tapped to curate a Late Night Tales compilation and as mentioned above is producing Darkness Falls first full-length release out early this summer (Trenetemoller produced EP available on iTunes). Here his remix of his own song "Shades of Marble" below, along with a video for "Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!" from the Rokslide Festival.

Trentemøller - Shades Of Marble (Trentemøller Remix) by In My Room
Trentemøller - Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!! (Trentemøller Remix) by In My Room


Live Review: CSS & Hot Tub Play SF's Popscene And Even Though Lindsay Lohan Was Not Sighted, Everyone Had An AMAZING Time! Or, The Fear Of Irrelevancy Delivered In A Thousand Characters Or Less...

CSS on stage at Mezzanine, a view to a by RLC
The thing about being a music writer is that there is an overwhelming pressure to be everywhere at once. This anxiety to be at all the “right shows” and cover every band that gets mentioned to you, however casually, seems to heighten when festival season kicks off in full swing. This past weekend the Coachella Music & Arts Festival was being held in the desert outside LA and it was the first time in the last three years that I did not attend. I have my reasons for this - most far too snarky and petty to mention in a blog that prides itself on its sanctimony - still, I still found myself suffering from a bloggers inferiority complex. I mean, “Tweet” after FUCKING “Tweet” of attendees and colleagues bestowing such keen observations as; “Arcade Fire is KILLIN IT!” or “Mojave Tent is GOING OFF! RT NOW!”, paired with camera phone PROOF! This left me feeling like there might be a crucial, "Critical" void in coverage not being met. The reality is that I have known for some time that one need not attend Coachella in order to sample some of the best live shows during this weekend. By simply staying put and going to some of the finest venues anywhere in the country, to see the same acts making their way to desert, I might be able to give you a bit more information to chew than, “My gnarly, unwashed, long-natch curly camping hair is more epic than Arcade Fire's performance last night.”
The Mezzanine Tent was GOING OFF in SF!!! by RLC
So in the interest of music journalism here is a review of CSS kicking off their tour at San Francisco’s Mezzanine on Friday night, two days prior to playing an abbreviated set in an over-crowded tent in front of a bunch of hipsters watching themselves watching a band that they secretly hope Lindsay Lohan is watching so they can watch her watch the band that they are not watching because they are tapping on their iPhone a “Tweet” about how Lindsay Lohan is watching the same band that they are not-watching and isn’t this, “TENT AND BAND GOING OFF!” This must be its own ring in Dante’s infernal inferno.

I first want to note how local promoters Popscene consistently and continually bring the Bay Area some of the best bills assembled anywhere in the country, pairing local talent with some of the most unique and compelling national/international artists. Their weekly events are always worth attending and DJ’s Omar along with LIVE 105’s Aaron Axelsen (the man behind Popscene) throw a great party! This was most definitely the case on Friday as Sao Paulo, Brazil’s CSS were teamed with Oakland, CA’s HOTTUB for a night of music that was, I guarantee, on par with anything happening in the desert at that same time.

Too hot in the by RLC
 HOTTUB are a trio of female MCs that hit the stage with so much energy that I was literally left standing slack jawed. They are like female Beastie Boys, only with much better flow and rhyming skills, and they are committed to fighting for their right to party and demand that you should be to. The audience was hooked from the first song and by the end of the set had joined the ladies onstage. Do not miss HOTTUB! Their stage show has to “be seen to be believed”. They fuse an old school hip-hop sensibility with whatever the FUCK suits them. They were the bubbles and this hot tub was full up, turning Mezzanine into a sauna in the process.

Lovefoxxx from CSS takes out the by RLC
The near sell-out crowd was in great spirits after Hot Tub’s set and primed for the act they were all there to see, CSS. Now, admittedly, I was late to the band from Brazil’s party. The electro-pop unit had built quite a "buzz" being signed to Sub Pop
for the release of their debut Cansei de Ser Sexy and had a song featured in an Apple commercial – the latter usually precludes me from buying in. But, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library, I rediscovered CSS through their 2008 release Donkey and was now fully converted to their contact sport approach to dance-pop. From the moment they took the stage singer Lovefoxxx let everyone in attendance know how this show was going to go down. We were going to dance, get sweaty, love our neighbor, and she was going to lead a relentless attack of music that vacillates between electronic, reggae, kuduro, pop, and “new rave”. The mostly female contingent delivers this hybrid dance music using a straightforward rock band setup of guitars, bass and drums (in addition to synths ). Their energy and stage presence rival that of the best punk bands, with Lovefoxxx spending plenty of time crowd surfing or singing from the middle of the audience. The 90-minute set was a nonstop, energy-fueled, joyride in a car without breaks! I imagine their set at Coachella a day later was hotter than anything the desert sun could produce. This band is in it to win it live and took no prisoners Friday. Singer Lovefoxxx proudly wore a shirt inscribed with the word “Trash” across her chest, but there was nothing trashy about the execution of their music. This is a very tight and well-tuned band that is sure to continue blowing minds as they join Sleigh Bells for the rest of their stateside tour.
These girls are not from by RLC
Sadly, there were no Lindsay Lohan sightings, thus, rendering this evening of wonderful music invalid. The funny thing was that I don’t think anyone cared when removed from whatever context Coachella now inhabits for those that attend. Relevance is a funny thing because it’s always shifting and very hard to pin down. Especially, when compressed into 140 characters. What I do know is that this show Popscene put on was as relevant to those lucky enough to be there as anything else happening 500 miles south. CSS & HOT TUB WERE KILLIN IT @Mezzanine @Coachella @Pitchfork @LindseyLohan…