Rock and Roll

A concert in a graveyard? Why not!

STARS-8

What exactly is it about Canada that produces such intriguing rock and roll acts? The great North is home to dozens of groups that broke through international barriers and still continue to impress to this day. Of course there are the obvious examples like Neil Young, Rush, The Guess Who, Arcade Fire, and NoMeansNo, but there is also that unique brand of indie/art with groups like Metric, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, The New Pornographers, and Broken Social Scene, the indie super band of which Amy Millan and Evan Cranley are members. Easily one of my favorites of all of them is Stars who take up a special place with their lush production and exploration of the various themes of love and heartbreak. In support of their recent double LP release, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, the band took over the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for three whole days of intimacy with their long-time fans and first timers alike.

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Deeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrhooooooooooofff!

Deerhoof-30

I cannot start this without immediately stating my bias. I love Deerhoof. I’ve been in love with this strange quirky band since I was 16 years old in high school, and a friend of mine played the cleanest version that exists of “Gore in Crown,” though we knew it as “Gore in Beans.” They are a band that — for whatever reason — manages to attack their inspiration ceaselessly and never get redundant in doing so. Like Fugazi‘s later career, each album is new, fresh, and exciting, better than the album before it. This says nothing of their performances — of which the following is my fifth as an audience member — which always retain some of the highest energy of any show I’ve ever been to.

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“As long as we’re alive then Punk’s not dead yet!”

Punk Rock is probably some of the most honest music anyone will ever hear. Stripped away are the pretenses of “professional musicianship” leaving in its wake the raw emotion, power, and intellect—or lack thereof—of the music. It can be anything, it can be nothing, it can be everything. Somehow it has endured over the years in many different waves and forms, but to quote The Exploited, “Punk’s not dead!”  It is now 19 years since the Stern Brothers began taking over downtown Las Vegas and it looks like it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thank goodness for that!

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Album artwork by Raymond Pettibon!

What happens when four musicians record an album in three days? Well, as luck would have it, something amazing happens. At least, that’s the case for the debut release of Big Walnuts Yonder. Though they prefer to consider themselves an anti-supergroup—in that they consciously rebel against the cliche of bringing their known sounds to the group—when your band consists of Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos), it is hard to resist slapping the “supergroup” label on them, but be warned, because this band is no mere supergroup, and they are full of surprises.

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New sonic explorations from one of the masters

While I’m familiar with most of the seminal works of Sonic Youth, the band members’ solo projects before and after the split were never very big blips on my music radar. I vaguely remember seeing a poster for one of Thurston Moore’s mid-2000s solo tours when I was in college, but not having the time—or the money being a working college student—to go to the show. So out slipped Moore from my consciousness, and thus the boomerang effect brings him back to me.

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