Music Friday Blog

  • Preview of PAA Kow's new album this Friday

    Kow_300.jpgWe are in Mexico until Sept 9, checking out the music scene in the Guadalajara area. We won't be interviewing guests, but instead will play full albums - previews of upcoming releases.  This week it is the Cookpot album by the fabulous drummer PAA KOW. Tune in and rock.

  • Frutas: Sin Color’s debut album set to rocket to the top.

    crisia_big_smile576.jpgYou can always tell when an artist or band is going to rocket to the to the top.  They collect an award or two before their first release, draw big crowds when they play locally, and have an overflow audience for the album release party.  Sin Color – the duo of Crisia Regalado and David Aquino – has done all of that and something else – their debut album, Frutas,  is more than debut – it is ready now for prime time.  Not bad for two kids who just turned 20.

    Frutas is a tour de force of musical craftsmanship and sheer talent.  Each of its ten songs is a gem – there is no filler here. Crisia’s opera-trained voice soars and swoops and soothes, supported by David’s superb guitar chops and the backing of Latin Grammy-nominated accordion mistress Gloria Estrada, the great border blues duo The Dank Band, and the percussion genius of Buyepongo, all guided by top producer Eugene Toale.  For artists so young to assemble such a highly regarded group of artists and snap up one of LA’s most in-demand producers to create what is essentially a perfect album first time out is remarkable.

     But Sin Color has always been remarkable. From marrying opera (which Crisia still performs) with Latino folk, and rock and pop to winning the LA Music Critics Best Music Video of 2016 for “Pergunto”, shot on an iPhone while Crisia and David were on roller skates. Frutas is a continuation of their remarkable creativity.

    Frutas is in Spanish except for one song – “Unknown Kiss” –  but the language doesn’t matter for listening.  From the smooth jazz rock of “Un Pensamiento” to the electropop of “Limonada” to the mystery march of the title track, “Frutas”,  Crisia weaves gut-grabbing arias among the beats and the riffs in a fusion of classical and popular that is hypnotic.  It is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.

    Many opera trained singers have migrated to pop (Crisia still sings opera) but I have never heard anyone blend the two so explicitly, keeping the true essence of each but creating a whole far greater than the parts. Frutas was two years in the making and during that time  Crisia’s voice matured and gained very precise control, allowing her to move to the very highest aria notes in “Un Pasemiento” and integrate them into the jazzy beat as if they were born there. She downshifts to a full-bodied pop range in “Arriba La Libertad”,  skating over the synth beats and then reaches for – and touches – the sky in the steady Latin rhythms of La Ciguanaba”.  “Me Pergunto”, which has been a Sin Color staple,  uses her voice in a unique pop signature intro. In “Como El Viento” she touches the sky and then goes into high orbit, all the time riding the ranchera polka energy.

    Shifting to  English and a 4/4 beat in “Unknown Kiss”, Crisia evokes 90’s rock sensibilities deepened by David’s guitar and keyboard riffs which keep you dancing. The band takes us back toward old Mexico ( Crisia’s parents are actually from El Salvador)  in “Antes De Amarte” – and again with synth rifts and pop beats interjected among the bolero influences.  The album winds down with “No Quise”, which stays in the traditional Mexica folk world but with the edge that Crisia’s haunting voice can add – taking the pueblo la plaza into the stars.

    Frutas is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.  I hope we don’t have to wait two years for the next album, but in the meantime, there are at least four hit singles on this one and I will be hearing them a lot as they rocket to the top.

    Sin Color

     Frutas available on iTunes, and Spotify

  • The boys of Americana this week

    grant_malloy_smith_high_contrast300sq.jpgLast week we interviewed the ladies in punk and rock; this week it is the gentlemen of Americana at our microphones, Chuck McDermott and Grant Maloy Smith.  Sit back, relax, put on your Stetson, and just enjoy the roots music of America.


  • Paradise Kings this Friday. Just great blues.

    paradise-kings-stage300sq.jpgJust great blues. And rock. And swing.  it is what your local blues band delivers year in and year out.  While the next-great-bands come and go, this band and the many like them around the country keep us dancing and entertained.  I love 'em and you will too. We talk with them and remind ourselves that you don't have to go to Hollywood or New York to get up and dance.

  • No Small Children rock us Friday

    NSC_Promo_Lockers300sq.jpgI saw these three once and they blew me away.  I had to have them on the show.  Tand that was before I know their story. Sweet mannered elementary teachers by day and tear-your-face-off punk rockers by night. No wonder their Ghostbusters song was used in the new movie.  I envy the kids in their school;  not only do they have rock stars for teachers, b ut they can wear band t-shirts with their teachers' names on them.  I wonder if they can attend the concerts...maybe not.

  • Much Baile at Grand Performances with Buyepongo and Sidestepper

    sidestepper_600.jpgIt was dance, dance, dance with  LA-based polyrhythmic cumbia-rock-funk-merengue band Buyepongo and electroacústica Columbian music group Sidestepper. 

    Both dance pavilions at the California Plaza were elbow to elbow with writhing crowds that spilled over into the VIP seats and the picnic areas, rocking out to music that just wouldn’t let you stay seated.  The hugely popular and resolutely community oriented Buyepongo was  exactly in their element at the free Grand Performances concert series,  which has been called “a grand gift to the public.” by the Los Angeles Times. Those were their people dancing – Latinos, Asians, blacks, gringos -- the spicy rainbow mashup that exults in the dynamic culture jumble of Los Angeles.   

    Buyepongo has played major venues and motivated crowds on both coasts and around the world, sharing stages with bands like Quantic in the UK, Ondatropica in Colombia, Ozomatli, Booker T and Cut Chemist and Sharon Jones in the US, Celso Piña in Mexico,  and many others.  But all the world tours were forgotten Friday night; Buyepongo was home.  And they were at full strength – 8 guys, 4 drums, an accordion, guitars, and horns. Band leader Edgar Modesto was front and center with  his signature drumsticks on a single conga, bantering and singing in Spanish and English.   And they let loose like I have never seen them before, mixing up beats, stretching songs until dancers were ready to drop, and laughing along with the audience.

    The band started off while the late summer evening sun was still up and really ramped up the energy as the sun drifted down and the stars came out.  By halfway through the set, the sky was black, the building surrounding the Plaza were alight with projections, the stage blazed across the water with lights. Grand Performances had become a huge outdoor dance floor presided over by Modesto and his magical assistants.BUYO_ON_STAGE_600.jpg

    Buyepongo is part of the leading edge of fusion music barreling out of LA, fed by indigenous rock that goes back to Richie Valens (aka Richie Valenzuela) and the Doors in the 60’s to the constant stream of artists flowing daily through LA from Latin America, Asia, Europe, and music centers in the US like New York and Nashville. The band’s latest album title says it all- Todo  Mundo “Everyone”.  Not only is their music fun for everyone, they play for everyone, from free public events like Grand Performances and concerts at the Levitt Pavilion in DTLA, to salsa clubs and neighborhood dance clubs like La Cita and the Del Monte Speakeasy to highbrow centers like the LA Museum of Natural History and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Bilingual fusion music –ALM (American Latino Music) --  appeals to everyone regardless of language, race, country or location.  It brings people together and that is what Buyepongo does best.

    crowd_600.jpgAnd that is what Grand Performances does best – creates magic that enables artists from all genres to bring people together. The gift GP gives to the people of Los Angeles and the State, free of charge, is a safe, exciting place where magicians like Modesto and Buyepongo can transport crowds to an experiential somewhere else. To do this they have been presenting the best in music, dance, and theater at the California Plaza in the heart of Downtown for 30 years. Grand Performances is one of the positive forces that inspires community among the diverse peoples of Los Angeles and reflects the many cultural interests across the region. This why Buyepongo was at home.

    And it why Sidestepper was also at home at Grand Performances.  Having transformed the Colombian music scene and inspired a new generation of young electrobeat geniuses to marry Latino music with cutting edge beats, Sidestepper is now bringing its unique brand of rhythmic joy to the US before heading back to Bogotá.  Eka and her band of musical pioneers are the latest evolution of a project organized three decades ago by producer Richard Blair to mix the hard and heavy emerging London drum and bass sound with Latin sounds and breaks. Today, Blair’s project has become a new genre, melding traditional Caribbean beats to modern sounds and music forms.  All that was on display as  Eka danced and skipped across the GP stage, whirling, rocking and clapping, moving the already energized crowd in California Plaza in a non-stop bailando that brought the characteristically diverse LA crowd of singles, couples, and children together into a single living, dancing creature.  Points to the organizers at GP for combining two bands to create a singular experience.

    That singular experience will continue to October with programs ranging from classical and funky jazz performances of Peter and the Wolf, to a beer tasting party, to modern dance without boundaries featuring Milka Djordjevich, d. Sabela grimes, Amy O'Neal and Micaela Taylor to films and theater. (photo credit: Farah Sosa) 

  • I took a tour of music history - and future today

    sandy._recordsC.jpgSandy Skeeter owner of Sound City Studios, founded n 1967 by her father and home to virtually every legendary rocker you can name. took me on a tour today.  The studio closed 17 years ago, despite walls full of gold and platinum recordings and even a movie b y David Grohl.  It just could not keep up with the changes in the music industry and the move toward DYI recording by young bands.  B ut Sandy has reopened it with new equipment and a new plan to integrate it into DIY, bringing the big studio sound to new bands who are now realizing that 60% of their music is not being recorded in their home studios. As I walked past gold record and accolades from Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac - which was formed at Sound City - Metallica, Elton John and many many more, Sandy explained her plan to upend the studio industry and chart a new future with better sound to match the quality now coming out of Spotify and SkullKandy .


    Live_A_Bechstein_angle.jpg Control_B_Helios_Main.jpg


  • Militia Vox this Friday with NYCTOPHILIA

    Militia_NYCTOPHILIA_CoverArtFinalD300sq.jpgMilitia Vox is a powerful, addictive obsession. Her music can take you to the dark side of the moon and then hurl you screaming into the sun.  She scares me, intrigues me, excites me - she does all the things a woman can do and all the things a demon can do and an angel can do. Whether she is the badest-ass woman you ever saw on a motorcycle in her band Judith Priestess, or a stunningly beautiful seductive demon exhaling smoke from the fires of hell from her EP Bait, or a star on stage in the Rocky Horror Show, or a flittering presence in a video that you don't understand but can't stop watching,there is nothing like her. Now she appears on the dark streets of New York and...well tune in Friday and find out because the mystery must be contained until then.


    We will be on vacation through June and at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in NYC until mid July so the next show is July 21 with Binx and Militia Vox.

  • Kris Angelis is melodic, hypnotic and addictive in the new Heartbreak is Contagious EP

     Heartbreak_EP_cover.jpgI have been listening to Kris Anglis’ new EP, Heartbreak is Contagious over and over since I recently had her on my radio show, partly because I can’t stop and partly because every time I listen I hear something musically and emotionally new.  As with all things Angelis, Heartbreak is Contagious is melodic, hypnotic, and dense with addictive emotion.

    Three of songs on the EP explore the pain of the love’s demise; the fourth is fun, funny, and foot-tapping, but actually a cathartic part of the EP’s soulful narrative. Only Angelis could pull that off --  perfectly blending pain and heartbreak with laughter and catharsis in the same EP.

    Heartbreak is Contagious was written with and produced by Morgan Taylor Reid and Alexander Cardinale, except for my favorite song, “Life Support” which was written entirely by Angelis and produced by  Bill Lefler. The album follows her earlier The Left Atrium and, like The Left Atrium, allows you to understand what an emotionally defective heart feels like with stunning poetic lines like I swear there was a time /when you belonged to me/But I'm a two-way heart/ On a one-way street.  Even deeper than the writing are the concepts: taking a heart off life support in one song and a love as a home built by love but then turned into a solitary confinement prison when love dies in another.

    The title concept is also deep, but, for an emotional EP, very logical.  When a heart breaks, two hearts are damaged and they can’t love others, or as she sings, Heartbreak is contagious, contagious/It's not like we can talk it out/we've run out of words somehow.    Simply put, when you can’t really love anyone, including yourself,  you often end up breaking someone else’s heart…your pain becomes contagious.

    For me, the most powerful song on the EP is “Life Support”. The song’s concept of a heart on life support is true to the broken corazón narrative, and the writing is as poignant and personal as anything Angelis has done, but the arrangement grips your heart and your ears. It begins with her gentle vocal fingers that slowly increase the pressure on your heart until she shocks it with electric paddles in full orchestration and an overdubbed voice drenched with urgency.  And then she takes you off life support and lets you drift free, the pain ebbing back.

    The last song, “Kevin Bacon” is almost from another world, a pop world.  It is bright and snappy and loaded with hooks.  As the drum machine taps out a dance beat she sings,

    There's something, there's something in the air, in the air 
    Running your fingers, your fingers through my hair, through my hair
    and then we're kissing lipstick is everywhere, everywhere.

    Wow; I am dancing everywhere, everywhere.

    This EP was a stretch for Angelis, not only in the addition of a hooky pop song but in the collaborative writing process – not her usual m.o.  She also wrote one of the songs in one day, also not her usual m.o.  The result of this stretch is that Heartbreak is Contagious has won the Best Female EP Award of 2016 by the LA Music Critics and the Best Female Artist in the International Acoustic Music Awards.  The song "Built This House”  won in the Adult Contemporary category of the International Songwriting Competition I suspect it will rack up more awards and add many, many new fans.

    Kris Angelis. 

    Heartbreak is Contagious available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify