Sprawl of Sound
Last week in this space, I accentuated the positive, writing about five amazing albums and five unforgettable live performances I experienced/witnessed in 2007. I barely scratched the surface with that column (see, I'm a pretty optimistic guy, despite appearances). This week, I'll dwell on the negative and recall aspects of my job and the music biz that caused me to heave heavy sighs of regret. It's healthy to vent, right? So here goes . . . I regret the following things that happened since I moved here in late March:
• Not finding the time to review several eminently worthy albums. I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to opine about Henry Flynt's Nova'Billy reissue (cosmic hillbilly reels and sublime drone-intensive hoedowns), Minus Records' EXPANSION|contraction compilation (a minimal-techno gourmet smorgasbord), the Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 box set (lots of obscure garage rock/folk rock/psychedelia among some familiar faves), Von Spar's self-titled disc on Tomlab (fantastic abstract explorations), Oh No's Dr. No's Oxperiment on Stones Throw (instrumental hip-hop constructed out of samples culled from Turkish and Eastern European psychedelia and prog-rock vinyl-awesome), Fiery Furnaces' Widow City (weirdly intricate and literate indie rock created by a contentious brother-sister team), and Citay's excellent Little Kingdom (subtly brilliant progressive rock that evokes a magical 1971 without being mere homage/nostalgia).
• Similarly, not having the time to view—let alone review—some interesting-looking DVDs that crossed my desk this year. These include The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story (the dope on the original space rockers and their fallen leader), History of DJ Krush (three-disc study of the Japanese hip-hop producer extraordinaire), The McCartney Years (all the ex-Beatle's solo and Wings footage you can stand), All My Loving (Tony Palmer's zeitgeisty 1967 film about rock and its impact on culture, featuring Zappa, Hendrix, Beatles, Stones, Who, etc.), and the reissue of Saturday Night Fever (believe it or not, I've never seen this—and I experienced the first wave of disco; shameful, I know).
• The dearth of techno in Orange County. I moved here from Seattle—America's techno capital—in March; I have yet to see a straight-up techno show or DJ night in this county. I'm going through serious withdrawal pains. Why no love for techno? (Justice and their noisy, French-fried ilk don't really count; that's stadium electro for skinny-jeaned scenesters.)
• Los Angeles. Oh, I like the city in many respects. What I don't like is how that cultural behemoth siphons almost all of the cool touring acts from OC. It's a huge drag (and environmentally damaging!) having to drive 100-plus roundtrip miles to see such bands as Battles, Black Dice, Michael Mayer, Gui Boratto, DJ Food, et bloody cetera. I realize it's more lucrative for most bands to play LA (or San Diego), but damn, it hurts to see so many amazing artists repeatedly brush off La Naranja.
• Definitely Maybe (winner of our Best Night Out for Anglophiles) has been unambiguously expunged from its Wednesday-night roost at Costa Mesa's Memphis Café. DM DJ TSC-1 (Sean Harris) has moved to the Harp Inn on Thursdays, and AM 180 (Darren Crandell) is part of the Kill-o-watt crew—including former Weekling, now Stussy's Thomas Van Do—launching the new 7th & Cherry night, which goes off the last Wednesday of every month at Long Beach's Que Sera. DJs Tanner, Tvd and Dijon will man the decks/Serato for a night billed as an "old-school funk punk dub post-disco electro hip-hop experiment." Sounds promising. (Keep 'em peeled here for further reports; 7th & Cherry debuted Dec. 19.)
• The Crosby's delayed opening. After detailing the owners' travails in a September cover story, I anticipated a fall debut for the multifaceted facility. But opening a new business from the ground up is hard work; obstacles inevitably arise (though the place may actually be open by the time you read this). Fingers crossed for what promises to be a paradigm-shifting venue that will foster all sorts of creativity in our region.
• Wu-Tang Clan's "Wolves," in which one of my favorite musicians ever, Parliament-Funkadelic figurehead George Clinton, jumps the shark with some inane babble about dogs (still!), Redd Foxx and a wolf who ate grandma. Sad, as is the leaden, bathetic "Sunlight" (RZA's a fantastic producer, but he should stay far away from the mic). And, overall, the Wu's comeback album, 8 Diagrams, is kind of patchy, but it's superior to their last stiff, 2001's Iron Flag.
• Amy Winehouse's deterioration from sizzling soul singer to tabloid trainwreck. Here's hoping she cleans up and turns it around.
• The grim state of music retail. Witnessing the mass extinction of music emporia is like watching my way of life eroding. Great record shops are not just businesses; they're cultural hubs where fanatics can gather to exchange information and enthusiasms and form strong, lifelong bonds (and bands). They're where one can get the feel of a city's music scene simply by hanging out with other like-minded souls—hard to do that online, son. I rue the fact that I never got to visit Noise Noise Noise, a defunct Costa Mesa establishment spoken of in reverent tones among many OC vinyl aficionados.
• Cocaine. Always. Everywhere. It makes you annoying, stupid, ADHD and largely immune to music with any degree of subtlety. Blow blows.
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