Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Pick: Ramona Falls @ Doug Fir Lounge 03/01

Friday, March 1st
Ramona Falls
Social Studies / The Ecstatics
Doug Fir Lounge
803 E Burnside
Doors: 8PM / Show: 9PM
Adv.: $12 / Day Of: $14
21 & Over

Tomorrow night, the warm walls of the Doug Fir Lounge will be oozing with the dream perfect sound of Portland's own Ramona Falls. Boldly optamistic and grande in scope the sound of this band is equal parts pop-addict freakout and  Bowie concept album. Fun without being frivolous, this band is highly imaginative as they proved on their latest album Prophet, released at the end of last year. Great on tape this band truly shines live.
Joining them for the night is two equally enjoyable bands, The Ecstatics and  Social Studies. With their slack-jazz smoky deliverance and building tempos Natalia Rogovin and the boys of Social Studies are producing amazing songs with unforgettable presence. Powerful in their own right this San Francisco band has been winning hearts and sharpening their teeth since their inception in 2009.
Opening it all is the energetic Portland duo the Ecstatics. Bouncy and beautifully spastic this band is getting some recognition having opened at the Crystal Ballroom earlier this week. This is certainly a show for those people looking to have fun. 
This strong lineup should make for an awesome show so take this great opportunity to shed off the past work week or if your like me, really earn the ass dragging at work the next day .        

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Double Feature: Ramona Falls "Fingerhold" & Slave Republic "Electric"

This week's Tuesday Double Feature contains uniquely stylistic videos by bands who's music is equally unique.  

Ramona Falls - "Fingerhold"

The dreamy jangle pop of Portland, Oregon's Ramona Falls is filled with a grace and subtlety that makes their beautifully unique music breath taking. Having released their latest album Prophet on Barsuk Records the latter part of 2012. The band is currently crossing the US on tour which will bring them to our front door for a show at the Doug Fir Lounge Friday, March 1st. 

Slave Republic - "Electric"

German based duo Slave Republic are making some of the most authentic new wave music heard since 1986. Dark and  danceable like Depeche Mode, this two piece has pressed some awesome music onto their latest album Quest For Love. So whether these tunes bring back fond memories or a new discovery for you, there's certain to be something to love.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quick Pick: Golden Feilds @ The Crystal Ballroom 02/25

Monday, February 25th
Gold Fields
The Ecstatics
Crystal Ballroom
1332 W. Burnside
Doors: 8PM / Show: 9PM
Adv.: $0.94 /Day Of: $0.94
21 & Over

With the tribal energy of Midnight Oil and the artistic subtleties of Ah-Ha the band Golden Fields is sure to be the next powerhouse from down under. Combining all the right elements this band is on the brink of breaking out. Dynamically energetic Golden Fields has all the brow furrowing thought of alternative rock with the motivating rhythm that will make you want to dance. Fresh on the heels of their latest album Dark Again the band is burning through their US tour. Rightfully so, they'll be playing tonight's 94.7NRK's I Saw Them When showcase at the Crystal Ballroom.
Sharing the stages is Portland's The Ecstatics, with their electric jive guitar freakout. True to their name this band is ecstatic in nature with all the fun that comes with it. I know it's a Monday night but for the unbelievable price of 94 cents you can't miss the chance to catch these 2 bands. So tell that responsible part of your brain to sit on it and come out and dance.  

Cure for the Mondays: Total Warr - "Bambastard"

Total Warr - "Bambastard" (ft. The Death Set)

What the .......?

French duo Total Warr are friends on a mission. Striving to make energetically fun pop songs, this team is getting positive reviews and is sure to garner more with the release of their latest 3 track EP Loisy. As for the video, just roll with it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confessions of the Dangerously Uncool - Rocksmith Review

                Over the years I’ve had what I’d call a dalliance with the guitar.  My sophomore year of college, for Christmas I received my first guitar, a Squire Strat.  For those unfamiliar with the brand, let me put it this way, if Fender were a grocery store, this would be the Western Family of guitars.  Nice guitar, nothing to brag about, but also not some weird Rainbow Foods variety of guitar that you’d see Jack White playing either.  

                So like all aspiring young guitarists, I bought myself a guitar book, and got really good at the first couple of chapters.  Which means, I can play the heck out of the A chord, C chord, G chord, D chord, E chord, as well as A and E minors.  If I’m in room with just myself and a guitar, I can play enough to sound competent.  I can play enough that I played guitar on 4 self-produced (by the drummer) and lightly released albums that range from awesomely bad, to just plain bad.  As Clint said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  That really is the long way around, and in honor of Homer Simpson, I’ll skip to the chorus, my guitar ability has stagnated.  

                This weekend in an act of desperation, or maybe just boredom, I purchased the game Rocksmith by UBISOFT, a game that decided to take the premise of games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero and marry it with a real guitar.  The results is a hybrid between a game and a teaching aid.  

                Full disclosure here, at this point I’ve only logged a couple of hours on the game, but I think I’ve seen enough to discuss Rocksmith as a teaching aid.  My feelings are pretty mixed.   The good of it, is it has gotten me to pick up the Guitar for several hours over the weekend.  I’ve even learned a couple new chords, that I’m sure I’ll forget  in couple weeks (don’t worry open A, I still love you).  It has a chord book for each song, and a techniques section that seems pretty useful.  

                  On the other hand I don’t really like the approach they have taken to teach guitar.  I feel very much like Daniel Son waxing Mr. Miyagi’s cars.  Instead of starting with songs that are easy to learn and giving you the entire piece of a song, the game starts with giving you portions of riffs as you play through entire songs.  Presumably as you get better the game gives you more and more pieces of songs.  I’m still on level suck, so we’ll see if that holds true or not.  Which means, I’ll have to pretty awesome to play a single song.  For a person that needs to see tangible results, I can see myself losing interest pretty quickly, unless of course Mr. Miyagi comes and saves me from skeleton dressed hoodlums that is.  

                I also find navigating the game a little clunky at times as it seems I have to do a bunch of backing out of portions of the game to get to spots I’d like.  I worry the game’s interface itself might cause some to focus more on visual cues than the rhythm aspect that is so important to playing guitar, especially in level suck where it can be hard to find the rhythm when you are playing such small snippet of individual parts.  

                Overall I think it would have been better served trying to be less of a hybrid, and be more of a true teaching aid.  The technology is cool, and this style of teaching may work for some, but I’m dubious of the results I will get.   The good news is I'll probably turn it back on after I post this piece, so it hasn’t completely lost my interest.    

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tuesday Double Feature: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestre "The Bed Song" & Brooke Annibale "Middle of the Mess"

With last Thursday being Valentine's Day we wanted to dedicate this week's Tuesday Double Feature to the reality of love. It's still great and fulfilling but it's also hard work and a little bit messy.  

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - "The Bed Song"

Powerful and amazing Amanda Palmer continues to reveal the the unending breath of her talent as both a singer and performer. This latest video is another jewel in a long line of powerfully cinematic presentations of her songs. Make sure you pickup her and her band's latest album Theater Is Evil.

Brooke Annibale - "Middle of the Mess"

Nashville transplant Brooke Annibale is an artist in transition. Not only has she uprooted to a new hometown but she is also expanding the acoustic songwriting of her first album. Experimenting with a more elect sound on her latest EP Words In Your Eyes, Annibale is showing growth as an artist.

Cure for the Mondays: Gold Feilds - "Tree House"

Gold Fields - "Tree House"

Jazzersizers and a guy in a unicorn head. If that don't cure the Mondays nothing will.

The rising act from down under Gold Fields, is quickly building a name for themselves. With a refreshingly throw back new-wave sound the band will see the North American release of their debut album Black Sun on the 26th of this Month. Currently in the midst of their U.S. Winter tour the band will be in Portland on Monday February 25th and the Crystal Ballroom. Check them out be for they get much bigger.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Living Room Performance: Jim James - "A New Life"

Jim James - "A New Life"

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

February 4th, 2013

Having spent close to 20 years as the lead singer and songwriter of My Morning Jacket, Jim James has recently released his debut solo album Regions Of Light And Sound Of God on ATO Records. A soft spoken acoustic soul, James solo material is a powerfully haunting thing. This performance of his lead off single with a fifteen piece band is awesome to watch. If it gets you excited to see James live, you'll get your chance May 14th at the Crystal Ballroom.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Double Feature: Dog Bite "Prettiest Pills" & Unknown Mortal Orchestra " So Good At Being In Trouble"

Covens and cults, it seems like it's a bad day to be a guy. This Tuesday Double Feature is a little on the dark side. Whatever you do, don't drink the kool-aide. 

Dog Bite - "Prettiest Pills"

Having made a name for himself under the monicker  Dog Bite, Phil Jones puts forth his debut long-play album, Velvet Changes on Carpark Records. Look for him at the Wonder Ballroom the 28th of this month supporting fellow label mates Toro Y Moi.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "So Good At Being In Trouble"

Portland Oregon based Unknown Mortal Orchestra is celebrating the release of their latest album II with this trippy video that stars none other than McLovin. A perfect representation of their warm psychedelic soul. The band will be touring in support of their new album but unfortunately we'll have to wait until April before we see them back home for a show.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cure for the Mondays:Flynt Flossy, Yung Humma & Whatchyamacallit - "Treat Me Like A Pirate"

Flynt Flossy, Yung Humma & Whatchyamacallit - "Treat Me Like A Pirate"

Who dosen't want pirate booty?

I've been rocking the Pirate love long before it was in fashion, so this video cracked my stuff up. Flynt Flossy, Yung Humma and Whatchyamacallit collectively make up the hip hop label of Turquoise Jeep Records. If this dosen't make your Monday a little easier you need to turn your computer off and tell your boss you're going home because you have to be sick. Oh and to all you ninja people: Suck it!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Brought To You By the Letter C

Brought To You By The Letter C:
Copyright and Creative Commons

            When it comes to music, the big C doesn’t stand for cancer, but copyright.  Copyright is the reason downloading music illegally is a crime.  Somebody was nice enough to give it a cool name, piracy, yarrr matey, but it’s still a crime.  On the surface Copyright law makes a bunch of sense.  It’s way to incent people to be creative, and reward them for their work.  The founding fathers agreed that a reward system was needed, to incent creation, but also understood that the system could go too far and end up stymying innovation.  What they also realized is that creativity often relies on use, criticism, supplementation and consideration of previous works.  Thus they believed that copyright law should be structured in a way that would give authors a monopoly just long enough to create more (Vaidhyanathan, n.d.).  It was with this in mind that the original copyright law was good for one term of 14 years, and you could apply for a second term if you felt it was warranted.  After that the works entered the public domain.

            What is the public domain you ask?  Basically, once a work’s copyright has expired, or the author has designated it public domain, the work becomes free to reproduce in any form, whether you’re talking about just a plain copy, or turning a book into a movie, or writing a new book based on the characters, covering a song, or using a sample from the song to create a new one.  In other words, free to all, and in the words of F'n' Lou from Fight Club, “aint that something.”

            And it is.  The problem is the laws have changed drastically since the countries inception.  Now a copyright is good for the life of the Author plus 70 years, or if the work was commission by a corporation, 95 years (“How long does copy protection last?” 2010).  What this means, is less and less things are hitting the public domain,  which in turn means there is less clay for us to mold new works.

            It doesn’t have to be this way.  The digerati have come up with a system that allows more open sharing of works with in the current system.  This is called Creative Commons.  The way Creative Commons works, is it allows creators to assign shareable rights to their work.  Meaning you can allow your work to be used if credit is given to you.  You allow your work to be used if it’s not used for commercial purposes.  You can also choose whether you will allow people to alter your work, or if you only want it to be used verbatim.  

            You may ask yourself, why would I go through the trouble of sharing work in this way?  The reason is it helps supplement the material that is no longer flowing into the public domain.  It also allows for a more collaborative environment.  It allows your work to live on past its original use.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you produced a song, and found it was used in a student film, or a sample of it was used in somebody else’s song?  These are the sort of things that can happen when using Creative Commons.

            Still a bit foggy on the concept, below are a couple of You Tube clips that do an excellent job of explaining Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons Website:


How long does copyright protection last?  (2010, March 10).  Retrieved from

Vaidhyanathan, S.  (n.d).  Copyrights and copywrongs:  Why Thomas Jefferson would love Napster.  MSNBC.  Retrieved 2012, February 2 from

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

10 Questions: Crushed Out

The dynamic team of Frank Hoier and Moselle Spliller that make up the band Crushed Out (formally Boom Chick) have recently released their debut full length album and are on tour in support.  A sweet mix of garage growl and surfer's soul blues their music is both soulful and lusty. Live, their energy is undeniable as Spiller's drumming is at times a ferocious explosion of movement that hypnotizes the audience whiles Hoier surfs through her waves with is own masterful guitar.
During their recent stop in Portland the band took the time to answer some of BLS's questions.

BLS: The release of Want to Give in November was your first full length album. Other than the basics how did the recording process differ than your EP Show Pony?

CO: For this record we did some of the recording ourselves and some at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn. This whole year has been on the road, so it was all recorded quickly and mixed at The Bunker. We did sparse overdubs like doubling guitars here or there or redoing a vocal. Pretty bare bones and live though, and mixed to tape.

BLS: So how does a skater from California and a woman from New Hampshire find two-part blues?

CO: Hah, well when you are very into rock & roll you run smack into the blues, country and folk music. I personally found the blues thru Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. I got really into slide blues from lots of the delta blues greats and some electric players like Hound Dog Taylor from Chicago.

BLS: I’m sure that you grow tired of comparisons to the White Stripes, So how do you see that you differ from them? What other musical duos do you appreciate?

CO: Well yes we get a little tired of the comparison, although we really dig the White Stripes. We differ from them in as many ways as we are similar. We are very rooted in 50's music, surf guitar and more rock & roll than blues. When I play blues its coming from the country blues, the open tuned acoustic stuff, I just electrify it. Also, Meg and Moselle could not be more different drummers. We really dig Meg's style but the two are like night and day. Another duo we love is the Dex Romweber Duo, they really rip. Other musical duos we love are Everly Brothers, MGMT and Bruiser Queen from St Louis.

BLS: How has your music been shaped by elements of your individual backgrounds?

Frank: I grew up in Southern California around a lot of punk rock and hip hop. Skate video soundtracks shaped my taste in music early on. Just so much diversity from Motown to Beastie Boys, Wu Tang, Beatles, Black Flag, Stevie Wonder etc. I think this is why I like to jump around in genres, I could never play one style or kind of music.

BLS: Moselle as a former Junior Olympic athlete how has the discipline you learned in your training translated to being in a band?

Moselle: I think being 'body aware' is the biggest thing I gained from being so involved in sports as a teenager. I also cross country skied and ran long distance. Now being a touring musician, drumming for an hour sometimes 6 nights in a row is very athletic too. You need to take care of your body, stretch, eat right and not drink alcohol every night otherwise you will crumble after a month!

BLS:The musical world is filled with some amazing female drummers, Moselle are there any female percussionist that you sight as inspiration? Beyond gender, who are drummers you truly respect?

Moselle: For female inspiration, Sarah Romweber of the Dex Romweber duo, hands down. Beyond gender, I love the theatrical antics of Keith Moon, and while I clearly don't drum in his style, I've been inspired to be more of a show person and at times outrageous personality behind the kit.

BLS: Frank, as part of the band the Messengers your father learned the ups and downs of the music industry. What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned from him about the industry and music in general?

CO: Well the music industry couldn't be any more different from then to now, so honestly not much. I guess I learned not to sign with Motown!

BLS: What are some benefits and drawbacks of being both a band and a married couple?

Moselle: No drawbacks for us. We don't think we'd be doing this if we were not a couple.

Frank: The couple part makes it easier. We just sometimes wish we had backup singers and people to help us load in the gear. The benefit is we can share our lives and creativity together. And we don't have to be apart if we don't want to.

BLS: This last year has been filled with some great highlights for your band including opening slots for Social Distortion? Which highlights were your favorites? What about 2013 are you looking forward to the most?

Moselle: We've been honored to open for some killer acts in the past year. In 2012 we opened shows for The Gories, Band of Skulls and the John Spencer Blues Explosion. Then we kicked 2013 off opening 3 sold out shows for Social D! For 2013 we are looking forward to the infinite possibilities of the universe. We hope to continue to be surprised.

Frank: The Social D shows were a highlight for sure. Playing to a packed house of that size was really eye opening. That kind of energy changes you, you rise higher than you knew you could. We are really looking forward to 2013 as we'll have more time to be creative, write new songs and incorporate some new sounds.

BLS:  Name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of ?

The Weber Brother

Feral Foster

Shilpa Ray

Caged Animals

David Mayfield

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Show Review - Crushed Out

The Vitals

Date:  January 31, 2013

The Venue:  Mississippi Studios, Portland, Oregon

The Artists (In order of appearance):  Summer Cannibals, Desert Noises and Crushed Out

The Crowd:  Pretty good, it was large enough so the venue felt and looked full, but there was plenty of room to move around.  The crowd itself was very Portland, meaning anything goes, from ironic t-shirts to suits.  More importantly the crowd was engaged in all three acts upholding there end of the symbiotic relationship that is crucial to a good show.

The Bands: I’ll elaborate more on each band below, but overall all three bands were very good at their specific styles, but none seemed to be transcendent.  They all gave good energy, and seemed to earnestly enjoy the venue as well as appreciate the energy the crowd was giving them. 

Overall Reaction:  A solid show from top to bottom.  It was not the kind of show you’ll be telling your friends about a week later, but I wouldn’t be disappointed to see any of these bands show up on bills for other concerts I’ll see in the future, and if I saw Crushed Out was playing in town again, I’d definitely consider going to see them.
Merchandise Purchased:  I was impressed with Crushed Out enough to purchase their album, and if I wasn’t being cheap I may have also purchase one of their t-shirts because it featured a double headed shark.  I got a thing for sharks.  Also of note, is Summer Cannibals were actually selling cassette tapes of their album.  So Portland, but in this instance I mean that in a good way.
The Nitty Gritty

Summer Cannibals:  This is a classic example of a band that has the philosophy of, “I know some bar chords, we should play them.”  Nothing fancy about the Cannibals, but I appreciate that in an opening act.  I hate going to rock shows and being greeted with opening acts that feature slow acoustic guitars, or keyboards.  To steal a line from Twisted Sister, “I wanna rock.” 
The band itself is obviously in the early stages of their career.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this was the first show they’d put on.  I say this because when they weren’t mashing chords, their stage presence was shy at best.  So much so the first couple of times the guitarist spoke, I thought it might be a bit of a shtick, because despite his timidness he was quite charming in his earnestness. By the end of their set it was quite obvious he just wasn’t used to being behind a mic.  My second clue to this being an early show was at the end of their set they gave thank you’s that were reminiscent of Oscar acceptance speeches.

Despite or maybe because of this I quite enjoyed their set.  Their no frills approach, was refreshing, and I liked the fact they stuck to what they did well.  It will be interesting to see how Summer Cannibals progresses as a band, and I look forward to catching them later on down the line once they’ve had a chance to mature, but overall a promising start.
Desert Noises:  Desert Noises is a hard band to describe.  The editor of the website described them as Tom Petty meets Band of Horses, and as I watched the show I tried to come up with my own comparison.  There was something very familiar about the band, but figuring out what it was I found elusive.  The only comparison I could come up with was Kings of Leon.  That was based more on an airy, ethereal quality of the vocals, and less about the style itself.  As musically they had more of a folksy quality than Kings of Leon does.  More like if the Doobie Brothers were fronted by the lead singer of Kings of Leon.

This inability to put Desert Noises into a convenient box is probably what makes them an interesting band to see.  At first look they seem to be a bit of a band of hippies, and this is especially true of the lead singer, Kyle Henderson, who has the long stringy blonde hair, and doesn’t wear shoes on stage (being January, he did wear socks).  To further the stereo type he often exulted the crowd to dance, but only in the most passive ways like, “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but you can dance,” or something very similar anyway.  If you just played the music in the background you might see them as a jam band that understands and believes in song structure, but there is more there.  There is a deep passion in Kyle, and for his songs and occasionally on stage he shows you a glimpse as he wails out a chorus and you can see the raw emotion in his face.  Music is about emotion, it was these moment that made me believe that there is something more to the band.  This was reinforced on the rare occasions they let their lead guitarist rip out a guitar solo, because he had chops to spare.

Overall Desert Noises style is not my favorite style of music, but there was just enough uniqueness to keep me engaged in their entire set.  They will never be one of my favorite bands, but there is enough below the surface to make this a band worth seeing at least once on the chance your tastes are more inline than mine were, because they are very good at what they do.
Crushed Out:  To be honest, I had trepidations about this band.  First of all it’s a two piece.  So my mind went immediately to the White Stripes.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the White Stripes fine, but you have to be pretty special to be as pompous as Jack White, and still manage to make likeable music.  It raises the difficulty, beyond what most musicians are capable of.  This preconceived notion was only reinforced when I looked at the guitars on stage, and one of them looked like on those 70’s Japanese model that Jack White is so fond of.  Within the first 30 seconds of Crushed Out’s set, my worries were put to rest.  Yes the first song had a definite blues influence, but to me the band sounded more like Eagles of Death Metal and less like the White Stripes.   As their set continued it became clear that as a band they were much less serious than the White Stripes, but more serious than a silly band like the Eagles of Death Metal.  I would describe them as a cross between the two bands only with a definite 60’s vibe to them.  The result is a music style that is more accessible than either.
The combination of the drummer, Moselle Spiller, and guitarist/ lead vocalist, Frank Hoier, is an interesting one.  The Frank seemed very comfortable in his own skin, and very earnest, which made his interaction with the audience understated, but effective.  Maybe the best example of this was a story of how they came to regularly cover House of the Rising Son by the Animals (a pretty good cover by the way).  Apparently they were at some venue in North Carolina and were playing two sets.  During the intermission out of the blue a patron requested they cover that song of all songs.  The response was something to the extent of, “hey, we like old 60’s spooky folk songs, why not.”  They played it, liked it, and have been playing it ever since.
It’s interesting to compare his approach with that of Moselle, who has decidedly more showy approach.  The act consists of the drummer in a very shiny leotard type top occasional doing gymnast type poses while playing the drums.  On the surface it’s different, and adds a bit of sexual energy to the show, but when juxtaposed to the Frank’s more laid back approach the two don’t marry well together, and the parts don’t quite equal the sum.  Overall they would probably be better off taking a more laid back approach overall. 
That’s a minor nitpick, and the more I think about the concert, and listen to the CD I purchased at the show, the more I like the band.  The live show wasn’t a blow your mind type thing, but if you’re looking for a night of fun music with heavy blues and 60’s pop influence, you could do much worse than checking out Crushed Out.