June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
Our photographer of the week is Long Beach native, Danny Zapalac. His work spans from moments of common California lifestyle (from moving bicycles to car interior) to unfamiliar natural landscapes. He knows the city, and he knows nature. Perhaps his most successful photos occur when his epic nature scenes are confronted by moments of the man-made. These images are strange and indeed looming, and yet completely familiar, so familiar that we locate ourselves in the car peaking through the bush, and on the mattress floating downriver. Danny’s work can be seen here.
Written by Corey Vaughan, Staff Writer
June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Long Beach favorites, The Fling, have been a steady fixture of the Los Angeles scene over the last six years. We recently spoke with bassist Graham Lovelis about the release of their new album and the soon coming technological Apocalypse.
138: What was the writing process like for this album?
Graham Lovelis: Dustin had a handful of songs that he wanted to do since the band started. Some of them we wrote together; we kind of came up with them all at once. Others I wrote, and there’s also one that Dustin and I wrote together. For the most part we brought in our own songs. We are moving in the other direction now, working out songs in practice now that we have the time.
138: Can you tell a difference in the writing?
GS: Yeah, I think the stuff we are coming up with a now is a little more cohesive and also a little wilder. Sitting in a room together, you end up playing heavier songs. It’s a lot more fun for everyone to just go crazy.
138 Collective: What’s the meaning behind the title When the Mad Houses Appear?
Graham Lovelis: That’s a line from a song I wrote on the album called “Day I Find.” It seemed to capture the mood we were all in.
138: Would you say there is an over-arching theme to the album or do you find each song a bit more individual in light of the writing process?
GS: I think there is a theme, I think it’s something dark, you know? I’m not really sure what it is….it’s kind of hard to describe what it is but I am sure that it threads it all together and I’m sure its something creepy and dark (laughs). We worked on it a lot at night, I mean super late some nights and it kinda had that feeling.
138: You think the late nights translated into the music?
GS: I think at times they did. My favorite part of the record is the transition between “Day I Find” and “Cold Comfort” and “Spooks.” It’s in the way they all come together, it all kinda flows. We did that super late at night.
138: One of my favorite songs on the record is “Wondering Foot.”
GS: Dustin wrote that one. We had a bunch of different versions of it, a slower one and a faster one. That’s one of the only ones we actually struggled with. They usually come pretty quick but we labored over that one for a while and finally found the right beat. Something laid back. I think it’s about a female, you know, like most things in the world. There’s an undercurrent of some sort of relationship in there somewhere, whether it’s with yourself or somebody else.
138: Yeah, it’s funny. Sometimes music can get really existential but most of it seems to center around relationship.
GS: Personally, everything I write is about relationship. Half the time it’s myself. My relationship with myself or the things around me.
138: Like internal struggle?
GS: Yeah, I think everybody can relate to that. Especially living in 2011, there are struggles everyday to get back to being a normal person. To get away from your cellphone, your Twitter and all that. That’s tough.
138: Do you think it’s even possible nowadays? Sometimes it’s hard to imagine life before Facebook.
GS: We all have a really hard time with it. I don’t think anyone in our band is comfortable with the idea of where things are heading. I don’t know if anyone is. I guess you just have to be ok with it. There’s defiantly a nostalgia for being a kid in the 90s; listening to Green Day and Nirvana on your cassette in your living room.
138: There seems to be something a little more raw and natural coming out of LA rock bands and the whole “Americana” thing. Do you think that is reactionary to the times?
GS: I think it could be. I don’t know if we have ever felt comfortable with the “Americana” label. I could see how people could get that from the first album but we are defiantly going in a different direction.
We all live three miles from the beach, so that definitely has an impact on us. Maybe it makes you appreciate your natural surroundings a little bit more.
138: How do you think being from Long Beach effects you guys?
GS: I dunno, there is defiantly a lazy attitude here. It can be good or bad… It’s a pretty mellow town. There isn’t much to do. There’s beer—
138: There is beer (laughs).
GS: Yeah there’s beer and house parties (laughs).
138: Would you consider yourself an artist, entertainer, or neither? Do you see a distinction between the two?
GS: I think it’s everything. Ideally you would just like to be an artist because that’s where the passion is for most musicians. But you definitely have to be an entertainer and a businessman on some levels too. You have to be able to do all of it. We had to figure that out pretty quickly. You are playing music for yourself but really when you go out to play a show, you are playing a show.
138: You guys have had to give up a lot to do music, what’s the motivation? The passion for the art? The hope of success?
GS: I think in the indie world success isn’t really measured by any sort of monetary means because there isn’t a lot of money to be made. People don’t really buy records anymore. To even hold on to that idea of making money from music is pretty silly. The motivation is primal for most of us. I don’t think any of us could do anything else. It’s just kinda what we have to do. If I am not working on music I am drawing or something. You just have to express yourself.
138: Staying true to yourself?
GS: I think it’s just how to stay sane.
Interview conducted by Phillip Domfeh, Staff Writer
June 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Riding the coattails of their critically-acclaimed 2009 debut, North Hills, L.A.-based band Dawes began a tour that lasted nearly two years. In September of last year, however, they took a month off of their near-constant touring to record the album we now know as Nothing Is Wrong. Before listening to the record, it was important to consider the context out of which it came, to ask if the experience of touring brought about a change for the better, or rather, for the worse. It is generally the case that a band’s sound becomes tighter due to the necessity of performance, and this development can cause one of two things to happen: the songwriting can become more succinct and powerful, or over-production can cause a band to fade into a mainstream cliché. Nothing Is Wrong seems to encompass both sides of the spectrum, walking the line between them, as it were.
The album begins questionably with “Time Spent In Los Angeles,” a derivative alt-country ode to their hometown, then follows with the mediocre “If I Wanted Someone.” Hope is restored with track three, “My Way Back Home” (video below), which bears the signature poise and thoughtfulness that marked so much of the band’s earlier music, and may in fact be the best to date from songwriter/frontman Taylor Goldsmith. Other gems like “So Well” and “A Little Bit of Everything,” in addition to feel-gooders “How Far We’ve Come” and “Moon In The Water,” prove that his craft has improved immensely, a fact that stands to outweigh the series of forgettable ballads and up-tempos that make up the rest of the album. Even in its weakest moments, though, Goldsmith’s masterful way with words remains, along with his fervent lyrical delivery—they stand as pillars beneath an otherwise crumbling edifice. The album as a whole certainly lacks the cohesion and authenticity that made North Hills stand out years before, but there is more than enough there to redeem it and assure us that the band will not settle into dull conventions and instead develop the traits that make them distinctive from their Laurel Canyon counterparts. C’mon, Dawes, North Hills is depending on you.
Written by Kelsey Upward, Music Writer
June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
Here at the 138, we love our local photographers. We want you to love them too. So, from time to time, we will pick some of our favorite images from one of our favorite LA photographers, and show them to you.
June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
The 5th annual Design for Humanity event, hosted by Billabong, began just like any other summertime L.A. block-party – only significantly bigger. The event raised over $100,000 for VH1’s Save the Music campaign and was a smashing success on all fronts – a massively successful art auction curated by Daniel Chang, a cutting-edge fashion show by Billabong design director Mandy Robinson, food provided by The Burnt Truck and a stellar musical performance by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
For this year’s DFH event, Mandy Robinson used VH1’s Save the Music as an inspiration for the fashion show. Many of the garments hearken back to 70’s/80’s rock n’ roll culture and the entire line kept a strong sense of cohesiveness using music as the inspiration. Keeping in-step with the Save the Music idea, Edward Sharpe played a satisfactorily long, instrumentally heavy set and allowed audience participation at many points. Alex Ebert, frontman for Edward Sharpe, holds a stage presence and energy that is unsurpassed by other artists in the genre.
Daniel Chang and AR4T Gallery curated an art show featuring notable artists such as Tara McPherson, Jeff Soto, Dave Kinsey and The Clayton Brothers. Other events, such as live surfboard shaping, break-dancing and a DJ, solidified the evening as a fantastic way to kick off the summer season and brought the creative communities of Southern California to one location for the beginning of what promises to be a year of innovation, community and hope for the future.
Written by Austin Ranson, Staff Writer
June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Many of the sophisticated menswear bloggers are showing that jewelry is not solely for the lady’s use. As for tailored street wear, men and women alike are drawing attention with the many layers on their wrists. Braided, roped, beaded, chain-linked, wrapped, clasped, or tied, these accessories encourage a showcase of expression. Whether it’s a vintage scarf wrapped around your wrist or the bracelets you picked up on your recent travel, there is great freedom to express your personal taste, as well as display pieces that have significant meaning to you. But amidst the eclectic variety of bracelets, a tasteful watch remains essential. A classic timepiece is well-worth the investment for both its practical function and natural sophistication.
Click each image for its source.
Kourtney Jackson, fashion writer.