Category: Preview

Dawn Richard: Diddy's 'Dirty' girl ready to go solo


Dawn Richard has accomplished a rare feat in pop music: she found success in two sonically different groups. First, after competing on MTV’s reality competition, “Making the Band,” Sean “Diddy” Combs handpicked her to be one-fifth of the urban pop girl group Danity Kane. After four years of on-camera turmoil, and two hit albums, Combs disbanded the group and Richard was announced to be the sole girl signed to his Bad Boy imprint. She later became a member of his hip-hop fusion collective Diddy Dirty Money, whose first project, "Last Train to Paris," was released in December. 

Now Richard is ready to step out on her own. The 28-year-old issued her first mixtape, “The Prelude to a Tell Tale Heart,” in February and logged more than 1 million downloads in a month. The mixtape is a teaser to her long-gestating solo debut, which she plans to release as a broken-up trilogy of albums entitled "GoldenHeart, "BlackHeart," and "RedemptionHeart."

With Diddy Dirty Money between projects, she is prepping for her first major solo show at the Roxy Theatre on Thursday alongside buzzy crooner Mateo. Pop & Hiss caught up with Richard to talk about the upcoming album, the breakup of Danity Kane and why she choose to collaborate with Diddy again.

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Davila 666 discusses new album, 'Tan Bajo,' on In the Red Records

Davila 666
Puerto Rican garage rock band Davila 666 inspires a fierce loyalty among its fans. At its last appearance at Gonerfest in Memphis, Tenn., crazed concert-goers brandished Puerto Rican flags and the dance floor was quickly flooded with jubilant gushes of Pabst.

“We were so amazed when we saw all those Puerto Rican flags,” said bassist AJ Davila, speaking from the tour van that will land him and his band mates in Los Angeles on Sunday night. “It’s crazy because we have a lot more love in the United States than we do in Puerto Rico, even in any town in South America. It has become our land, our place.”

Thanks to that fervent fan base, plus a string of solid releases on independent labels such as HoZac Records, Rob’s House Records and L.A.’s own In the Red Records, not to mention a herculean touring schedule, Davila 666 has spread its joyful gospel of melodic, garage pop and raging punk rock from coast to coast.

It’s no surprise the band inspires strong loyalty, because it’s a quality it gives right back. Its sophomore platter, “Tan Bajo,” released in March, is dedicated to the memory of late garage rocker Jay Reatard, who was an early supporter of its efforts. The entire record was recorded using a microphone Reatard gave the band as a gift during a spin through Memphis. And although Davila 666 is managed by big-league Vice Records, it's stayed true to In the Red, the label that gave it its first big break.

“Larry has been like a father,” said AJ Davila, speaking of Larry Hardy, the label’s honcho. “Since we started in music we have always been In the Red fans, so to be a part of the family now is like a dream come true. All we have is because of him. All we have for Larry and In the Red is mad love, much love and respect.”

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The White Wires bring the Great White North to Southern California

White Wires 
Canada’s pop punk outfit the White Wires is no stranger to unconventional performances. “We do a lot of weird shows,” the band’s singer, Ian Manhire, said during an interview Monday, three days away from kicking off a West Coast tour that will land the trio in L.A. on Friday night and Fullerton’s Burger Records on Sunday. “We played in a U-Haul last summer. Just pulled up on [Victoria] island at 2 a.m. and told a bunch of people and they rode their bikes out to see us. We play a lot of house parties, we play in people’s kitchens.”

But the most daunting place the rough and ready act has played was a frigid Ontario beach in February, shortly after the release of its sophomore platter, "White Wires II," from Dirtnap Records.  "The beach season doesn’t last very long here,” Manhire said. “But we were always joking about doing a beach video in the winter, something totally stupid.” When the time came to shoot a video for the band’s summertime anthem, “Let’s Go to the Beach,” the group's members knew they had to put words into action. With a posse of 20 daring friends as extras, they lugged their gear to the snowy shores of a frozen lake. 

“It was like minus 20 degrees Celsius,” said Manhire. “It was a really cold Canadian night, and then it was windy on top of that. Girls were in full-on bathing suits, guys were in shorts. I was playing my guitar on the first take and my fingers actually went numb, so I played with construction gloves after that. But Allie was a total trooper. She was in a bikini playing drums and she was freezing. I was trying to sing along with the words but my face was so numb that it actually doesn’t sync up very well.”

The White Wires formed in 2007. With Manhire’s high school friend and former Million Dollar Marxists singer Luke Martin plucking bass and drummer Allie Hanlon, who has her own solo career as the divinely sweet Peach Kelli Pop, the trio quickly made its mark on the band-friendly city of Ottawa. “Ottawa’s the second biggest city [in Ontario],” said Manhire, who formed the short-lived label Going GaGa to release music by local artists, including his band’s debut. “There’s a really strong DIY music scene here. There’s a lot of bands and people help each other out.”

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Ty Segall brings ‘Goodbye Bread’ to Eagle Rock on Friday

Ty segall plays the Eagle Rock Center
Twenty-three year-old garage rock wunderkind Ty Segall just can’t stop making records. Hot on the heels of “Melted,” last year’s barnstorming psych-rock attack from Goner Records, he’s got a brand-new album from Drag City on record store shelves. His fifth long-player in four years (that’s not counting the live album and numerous singles), “Goodbye Bread” presents a quieter, more reflective and melodic version of the youthful rocker.

The record, Segall said in an interview Wednesday, strives to avoid the rock 'n' roll party vibe of his previous efforts for more somber thematic elements. “It’s about a lot of things,” he said, “but there’s this loose idea of numbness and confusion and a false sense of happiness. I wanted to do something different. In the past I wanted to be loud, really noisy and fun, and I want to do that again, but I wanted to try my hand at something a little mellower and focused on melody and lyrics this time.”

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Friday marks the return of King Khan's fiery melding of punk and soul at the Echo

King khan_edited-1 
“I’m touring my favorite murder capitols of America,” garage soul icon King Khan jokes about his current U.S. tour, which thus far has encompassed a week in New Orleans, two shows in Chicago and upcoming gigs in Oakland and Los Angeles, where he’ll land Friday night at the Echo.

He recently garnered copious attention for displaying his unclothed posterior to Lindsay Lohan at Cannes, but his punk rock pedigree stretches back more than a decade to scrappy garage acts inhabiting scabies-infested crash pads in in his native Canada. His recent rise as the crazed frontman for garage-soul dance sensation King Khan and the Shrines has proved that he can transcend fire and fury to reach a broader audience.

After suffering a nervous breakdown last year (fueled by the sudden demise of his longtime musical partnership with Mark Sultan and a one-two punch of the fabled rock 'n’ roll lifestyle plus years of heavy touring), he took a year off to collect himself. “It’s like a fireball,” he said of the crisis. “You keep going and it gets bigger and bigger and suddenly I realized it was killing me, and I also realized I missed my family.”

The father of two, who has called Germany home since 1999, slowed down and smelled the roses. “I got to finally be with my kids and not be a stress machine,” he said of the break. He produced a couple of albums at his Berlin-based recording studio (including a forthcoming collaboration with operatic Russian folk singer Mary Ocher, whom he describes as “a mix of Kate Bush, Kim Fowley and Buffy Sainte-Marie”), hosted rooftop barbecues with friends and neighbors, and emerged feeling as if he had a new lease on life.

“I feel better than I ever have,” he said, although he is quick to point out that although he may have tamed his personal demons, his live act is still as wild as ever. “I still like to dance and have fun. I just know when to stop now.”

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Hunx and His Punx dish out trashy bubblegum pop Friday in L.A.

Hunx and His Punks 
With a visual aesthetic that combines the red-lit, black-leather vibe of the 1980 movie "Cruising" with the splashy gonzo fashion sense of a John Waters cast, Hunx and his Punx hardly fit into the aggressive, no-frills mold of most garage-rock bands. But when the act, fronted by the strutting, flamboyantly gay Hunx, burst upon the underground garage scene in 2008, there was no doubt that something new was afoot -- even if it was steeped in the influence of '60s girl groups like the Ronettes, the giddy bubblegum pop of bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the lurid sass of punk rock.

Releasing a handful of cult seven-inch singles in 2008-09, many of which were collaborations with Justin Champlin (the artist known as "Nobunny"), Hunx was on a roll. Matador subsidiary True Panther Sounds released "Gay Singles," a complete singles compilation in late 2009, but it's been with Sub Pop's Hardly Art, where he signed last year, that Hunx has released his most polished, fully realized effort to date: The band's first proper studio album, "Too Young to Be in Love," a catchy and occasionally dark ride through an amusing and theatrical pop universe, came out last week.

For "Too Young to Be in Love," part-time hairdresser Hunx, born Seth Bogart, joined forces with Shannon Shaw, lead singer of the Bay Area garage band Shannon and the Clams, whose gutsy backup vocals helped take the band's sound to the next level.

"She has one of my favorite voices," Hunx said last week via phone. "It's kind of hard playing up against her because she's so powerful. In the past, I tried to be super girly, but now I can be deeper and the girls can go crazy."

With '90s L.A. punk rock veteran Michelle Santamaria (of Loli & the Chones and the Pinkz) on guitar, Amy Blaustein on guitar and organ, and talented drummer Erin Emslie, the band headed to New York City to record its debut in a studio that had once been used by Hunx's idol Ronnie Spector. The band had the added benefit of Richard Hell and the Voidoids alum Richard Julian signing on to produce the record. "It was instant bonding," said Hunx. "He just got our sound and made it really pop and full, but still trashy. I'm a huge fan of Richard Hell and the Voidoids, so it was really awesome to record with him."

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‘Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations)’ from Cheap Time's Jeffrey Novak, Saturday in L.A.

At the tender age of 25, Cheap Time frontman Jeffrey Novak is already a jaded pro with a musical output rivaling that of some musicians twice his age. Since 2004, the Nashville rocker has recorded six solo efforts and three albums with his band Cheap Time. And that’s not counting the four singles he released with his first band, Rat Traps. Then there’s the solo album and Cheap Time long-players currently in the can, which are awaiting release by homegrown indie label In the Red Records later this year. 

"I started doing four-track recordings and writing songs when I was 15," he said last week, speaking from Kalamazoo, Mich., the start of his current U.S. tour, which will land him at the Five Stars Bar on Saturday night. "This is the 18th or 19th tour I've done -- all these records have come out, records that haven't come out. I can't keep track of it."

Novak's earliest efforts -- many of which were recorded as a one-man band -- were brash, strident and at times discordant, but since Cheap Time formed in 2007 he's refined and tightened his approach. The band's sophomore platter, "Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations)," which was released by In the Red in October, is an ambitious and mature blend of glam, punk and even blues. It's a bold step forward from the more straightforward Red Kross-influenced pop-punk approach of the act's 2008 self-titled debut album.

Both records were recorded at Mike McHugh's all-analog Distillery studio in Costa Mesa, which has given birth to discs by the Black Lips, the Specials, the Aquabats and many others. The "Fantastic" sessions proved to be particularly grueling, with events taking a turn for the worse when relations with the studio owner soured.

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Listen, L.A.: Carla Bozulich will not be ignored

Carla300 At this point anticipation is building among certain hardy-spirited listeners for the return of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a mysterious and powerfully evocative instrumental ensemble from Montreal. The band's sound is built on churning guitars and strings, and one could envision the act scoring the end of the world beautifully -- should Darren Aronofsky be given enough notice to film it.

They'll be at the Music Box on Wednesday, but not to be lost in that appearance is opening band Evangelista, the dark and relatively new project of Carla Bozulich. L.A. fans might remember Bozulich from the days of the industrial band Ethyl Meatplow, the skewed alt-country of the Geraldine Fibbers or maybe the many bracing shows with guitarist Nels Cline as Scarnella at the Smell. But in advance of this show and an upcoming fourth album with Evangelista for Constellation Records, the important thing for Bozulich is that she's remembered in her hometown, period.

In a long and heartfelt e-mail addressed to the Times music staff, Bozulich listed her sterling credentials from life "in the van," her love for her home city and frustration at her place in its musical fabric.

"I am a woman who has been shaped and raised by my hometown of Los Angeles," she writes. "And to have erased me from the history of your town is really odd and sort of endorses a stereotype I despise of our city."

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Dive into the sunny psychedelic world of Ty Segall at Echoplex on Thursday

Ty Segall_Denee Petracek 
As a lad growing up in sun-kissed Laguna Beach, future garage rock hero Ty Segall was weaned on a healthy diet of rock 'n' roll oldies, a formative influence that would later feed his own creative efforts, which will be on display at Echoplex on Thursday. "It's funny," the 23-year-old rocker said last week during a phone interview, "when you're really young, you don't look at the Kingsmen or the Kinks as garage. That kind of stuff was oldies." 

By the time he turned 14, Segall had discovered punk rock, taking inspiration from the rebellious music of bands like the Misfits, the Ramones and Minor Threat. But it wasn’t until he moved to San Francisco in 2005 that he discovered psychedelic music, a mind-bending, mellowing influence that has been a part of his musical soul ever since.

“I got obsessed with the 13th Floor Elevators, which made me dive head first into that kind of stuff,” he said. “I was 18 when I heard ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me.’ That song is a gateway drug, because it’s totally a garage song, it’s totally just like the Kinks… but the way they recorded it was psychotic-sounding. I feel like that’s the difference. Because a lot of psychedelic bands, the riffs are pretty similar to a straightforward garage song, but then they got really weird in the studio.”

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Bela Fleck on taking holiday music to new places

Béla Fleck Eggnog - Senor McGuire 
Musicians who explore the fringes of music as we know it often seem to operate in a parallel dimension with few points of reference for the average music fan.

This historically has been true in jazz, where such innovators as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus abandoned the rules established by their predecessors and opened new sonic vistas, leaving many fans in the dust with their experimentations.

Banjoist Béla Fleck chose an instrument most closely associated with tradition-minded country, bluegrass and folk music, but he's also a longtime jazz aficionado who has typically thought and played with the anything-goes sense of his jazz heroes. On the surface, that makes his current holiday music tour look somewhat curious.

But there’s a method to his musical madness, as he told me when we chatted recently for a profile that appears in Friday’s Calendar. He spoke about why he and his band, the Flecktones, chose to record an album of holiday tunes two years ago, and how they applied their penchant for experimentation to yuletide standards such as “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for the record,  “Jingle All the Way,” which went on to collect a Grammy for best pop instrumental album of the year.

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