Album Review: Heaven is Attached by Slender Thread by The One Am Radio

July 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Slap some reverb on it!” seems to be the credo of many indie-pop bands these days. How else are modern listeners to discern between their tightly structured, melodically driven songs from the mainstream stuff you hear on the radio?

With Heaven is Attached by a Slender Thread, The One AM Radio are not throwing on layers or drowning their sound in effects to fill any emptiness—instead, they rely on full, orchestral arrangements, grooving rhythms and playful melodies to get the job done.

What’s interesting about Heaven is that, from a distance, the record sounds similar to contemporary chillwave acts like Toro y Moi and Small Black; but the production style of these two effects-and-reverb-heavy acts is absent. Many of the songs feature a fat, droning synth that’s perpetually on the verge of peaking, but never quite does. The vocals are at times a cool falsetto, and at other moments are softly sung—almost spoken—in a gentle style similar to Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. The One AM Radio’s Heaven is a head-bobbing tribute to what an indie-pop band is capable of when they leave the chillwave at home.

Written by Christian Koons


LA Eats: Food Trucks, Part 1

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

On a hot summer evening in Fullerton, California, hundreds of people have amassed in a Best Buy parking lot to experience the latest trend in the L.A. cultural cuisine: food trucks. Truck junkies, who most likely spend far too much time on Twitter, wait patiently in line.

If you’ve heard of the food truck craze by now, you’ll know that this trend has taken the Southern California food scene by storm. The infamous Kogi BBQ truck is what supposedly started the movement with its interesting and surprisingly mouth-watering fusion of Korean barbeque and Mexican food. Other vendors have taken Kogi’s lead, inspired by large customer turnouts and the relatively low cost of owning and operating a food truck.

The trucks here tonight were cooking up concoctions such as French toast stuffed with coconut, eggs, pandan leaf, and sugar (Chomp Chomp Nation); all-beef frankfurters wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon and covered in carmelized onions, peppers, and spicy chipayo (Bacon Mania); savory crepes stuffed with a spicy southwestern blend of chicken, peppers, onions, and sharp cheddar cheese (Crepes Bonaparte); and grilled cheese made with brie, garden tomatoes, and fresh spinach on sourdough (Spud Runners).

With the trucks’ recent expansion into the vast outer regions of the Los Angeles area, the business looks as promising as ever for new and existing truck vendors alike. As they strive to privilege the essence and culture of L.A.’s neighborhoods, they set themselves apart from restaurant giants, giving them the unique and friendly reputation that keeps SoCal residents coming back for more.

Written by Jesse Greenwood

Photos by Rachel McChord

Aronofsky Announces Next Project

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

If curiosity killed the cat, then Darren Aronofsky has a death wish. After crafting several critically acclaimed features and raking in a slew of awards, director Darren Aronofsky has shown that he’s not afraid to try his hand at vastly different kinds of films. His repertoire, respectable as it may be, is perhaps the most eclectic filmography of any filmmaker in modern cinema. To wit, his past films range from the fantastical movie The Fountain to grounded dramas such as The Wrestler to the more recent psycho-sexual thriller Black Swan. So naturally his next film would be…a biblical epic?

As the award-laden Black Swan took movie-goers by storm back in December, Aronofsky was already in the midst of planning his next flick. Strangely enough, his next vehicle was set to be The Wolverine; the not-so-anticipated follow-up to the critical failure X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Aronofsky opted out due to scheduling conflicts; however, his penchant for choosing bizarre material remains intact, as he is currently gearing up to direct a biblical epic focusing on the story of Noah’s Ark.

“I don’t think it’s a very religious story. I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film. I want to make a big event film, and I think it can be that.”

Even more interesting is the rumor currently circulating that Aronofsky is eyeing Christian Bale for the title role in the film. Regardless of the actor, under Aronofksy’s guidance it’s sure to be a career-defining performance. His execution has proven to have a certain dynamism, so all we can do now is drum up ruminations as to how the film and performances will actually play out on screen. Nevertheless, with his eye for detail and knack for inventive cinematography, the film is sure to be as beautiful as it is poignant.

Although only recently announced, production on Aronofsky’s biblical epic is expected to begin within the coming months. A word of advice for the common movie-goer: when you buy your tickets to see the film in the next year or so, leave your presuppositions at the door. I can bet this won’t be like any Noah you’ve read or heard about before.

Written by Zack Campbell, Film Writer 

Featured Photographer: Danny Zapalac

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

Unedited: Graham Lovelis of The Fling

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

About Town: Make Music Pasadena

June 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Photos by Chelsea Alling, Staff Photographer

Album Review: Nothing is Wrong by Dawes

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